Posted in Book Reviews, Urdu Novels

Haalim Episode 11: وقت کے اس پار – Review


Nemrah Ahmed struck again, this time, with feeling.


I really want to find something to complain about here. About the fact that they went home nice and easy. Except that they didn’t go home nice and easy. It took four months. They planned, they schemed, they rose above and now they’re back. HOLY COW.

We should have seen this coming, it was all there. Saying this was clever would be the understatement of the year since everything about this book is clever and sneaky. I just didn’t expect it to hit me like it did. It was sad, man, made all the more strong and astonishing by the fact that for the first time in a long time, I felt myself warming up to Faateh. That poor soul.

My absolute favorite moments were the Taliyah Faateh moments: the scene in the prison cell, in the jungle right before they went through the Gate and at night in Sun Bao’s courtyard. It is indeed very lonely at the top.

The email he wrote to Adam was so full of emotion. I felt his desperation as he wrote those words, especially concerning Taliya. It was like a drowning man grasping for straws. He never would have admitted this otherwise but just on the verge of his impending loss, he let himself feel and admit. Strained and stilted personal relationships, lack of support from someone he needs the most, knowledge of Aryana’s gruesome death, keeping that secret from his wife, the burden of leadership, the struggle of achieving his goals, it all caught up as he confessed that yes, he does need someone with him, by his side and he wants it to be Taliya. The paper marriage wasn’t as easily breakable as he thought. Predictable, yeah, but not without meaning.

And I also felt his guilt towards Adam. He knew Adam had begun to have feelings for Taliya and so he kept himself a little distant from Adam. He tried to make it up to him by sending him the email and asking him to keep the two of them safe, just like he asked Taliya to do the same. This entire situation touched my heart and finally melted the ice around it when it came to Faateh. How long it will last, I don’t know.

It was a noble thing he did but it eventually served him too, like he said, he needs to forget all this if he’s to become KL’s present Bandhara.


This is my favorite quote in the whole episode because I feel strongly the truth of this, always have.

This was an episode full of emotion. It was heart-warming in a way it has never managed to be before. Taliya and Adam’s repartee, her personal moments with Faateh, all three together again, I loved it all. I obviously didn’t know that they were gonna go back but as it became imminent I realized the atmosphere was perfect and foreboding from the beginning.

No way do I believe that this is it. I’ve said it time and again, Nemrah Ahmed’s protagonists are inhumanly cunning. If there is a way to restore Faateh’s memories, Taliya will find it. They are going to back at some point for sure. Besides that, a man as tactical as Faateh will have thought of something. If he wrote an email to Adam, he had the whole night to himself, perhaps he wrote some to himself and timed them too? Also, and this just came back to me all of a sudden, Adam’s mother at one point said something about his Uncle having the gift of vision like Taliya? That will come up too.

It’s a testament to the glorious development in this episode or should I say, this story that despite hating everybody’s guts two episodes ago, I feel protective and fond of them all. I disliked Adam for the fool he was being, I ship him and Taliya now. I loathed Faateh and his attitude, I ship him and Taliya now AND I’ve begun to like him. It’s a 50/50. DAMN IT.

This episode made me connect with Faateh more than before. The extent to which high ambitions and dreams cost a person became painfully apparent. He had no one else to lean to for strength and support so he thought he had become impervious to it, Faateh needs no one else, he repeated it again and again and almost started believing it. Then he finally found someone strong and smart and willingly giving that support, only to lose them again.

Buddy, I’m here. I see you.

My Rating: 5/5


Posted in Book Reviews, Bookish Balderdash

Books Read in February & March TBR

NINE books. I read NINE BOOKS in February.

In chronological order:

Robots Vs Fairies:


Naturally, it was irresistible. However, the stories were less than satisfactory. Every author tried to bring both technology and fae in their stories, some had only one of the two but every author was either Team Fairy or Team Robot.

The Starlit Wood:


Picked right after Robots Vs Fairies because it was advertised at the back and another anthology sounded good. Let me tell you something, it’s hard to like or understand a retelling when you don’t even know the original. The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage? What. the. fuck? 80% of the authors went for unheard of fairytales which killed it for me.

Apex (Hunter # 3):


This was a entertaining trilogy, there’s a lot of humans-with-magic versus Fae-from-another-dimension battles but I felt that it lacked grandness of scale and ingenuity in plot. Three books and the fighting is all that happens. Still, highly entertaining.

Quests For Glory (School For Good and Evil – Camelot Years # 1):


I LOVED it! After Good Vs Evil and Boys Vs Girls I didn’t think Soman Chainai would come up with something as amusing, he did but it’s more serious and mature this time. It was very exciting and I didn’t once feel that this new series was unwarranted.



This was my first Manto and despite being dry and tedious and a bit nosy, I found it fascinating.

Sightwitch (The Witchlands # 0.5):


This is a very confusing world, and while I originally wanted a full length book, this novella provided ample backstory.

Immortal Reign (Falling Kingdoms # 6):


Ah, disappointments, disappointments. I had genuinely grown to love this series but this last book was the height of pointlessness.




I loved this book so much. Aliens, new planets, tombs, spaceships, other things, SPACESHIPS, doom, portals, SPACESHEEEEEEEEPS!!!!

The Ancient Magus’s Bride Vol. 5:


Okay-ish. Nothing special.

March TBR

I’ve already read Iron Gold (Red Rising # 4) by Pierece Brown and I’m currently reading To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. Books I really, really want to read hopefully this month are:

  • The Shape of Water
  • Batman: Nightwalker
  • Tess of the Road
  • Want
  • A Conspiracy of Stars
  • The Final Six
  • Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach



Posted in Book Reviews, Urdu Novels

Haalim Episode 10: صنم تراش – Review

I’m feelin’ it. Oh, YEAH BABY!

I was very nearly tired of this story, I was growing uninterested and indifferent. Mujhe naheen pata, jo karna hai karo, were my sentiments reading the last episode. This is so much of a step up, not only is my interest completely restored it’s also been multiplied tenfold. It’s a dhoop chaaon ka aalam, with me and this book so far.

The little things in this episode, man! It was eventful from the start and there was a generous helping of small-scale jaw-dropping moments throughout. I’m just so happy with where this episode went and how it went there. Several amazing developments, character-wise and plot-wise.

Okay, so first of all we learned why Adam doesn’t have the seal of time on the back of his neck: only the people who’ve used the key have that seal.

The undercurrent theme of the episode was the importance of having a strong sense of self-worth and self-esteem and that resonated with the title of the episode splendidly. Taliya and Adam had both idolized someone, had carved a statue of that person in their minds. The former used disguises to hide her true self and the latter always admired someone too deeply who had what he didn’t. Low self-esteem, both of them.

Faateh, however, was on the other side of this equation. He was always the one being admired. He was always the one people erected imposing statues of in their minds. And it was a HECK YEAH moment for me when Taliya responded to her making the change in Bangara Ya Malayo. The stuck-up peacock was so used to being idolized that it hurt his royal highness’s self-esteem when his credit was given to someone else.

There was theme also had Nemrah Ahmed talking about harassment, victim-shaming, the abuse of power and the usual political lessons like what an Economic Hitman is and how generation after generation of a country pays which were a touch more intriguing than usual. I’m learning more and more about politics through this book than I ever did.

Going to the more alarming side of things, I did not just see two things happening so fast, if at all:

  • Taliya and Faateh’s marriage. They’re going to come up with some insanely clever scheme to evade the situation, I kept thinking. The did not and it was with disturbing ease and lack of protest that it happened.
  • Adam’s warm fuzzy feelings for Taliya. Even though he didn’t say it aloud to himself for our benefit, it was loud and clear and I, who was a moderate Taliya and Faateh shipper, was horrified. I thought I didn’t care about Adam but I did.

Adam’s role was more prominent than usual. He wasn’t the resident fool in this, thank God. For once I enjoyed his and Taliya’s bickering.

I won’t say sinister, but definitely an unpleasant aspect of Faateh’s personality became clear: he’s selfish. He wants freedom, his freedom, above all else. Yes, he wants to free the slaves and yes, he wants the kingdom to not be indebted for generations but that’s the inherent leader in him talking. He has lived by basking in admiration and respect and that’s what he wants which is why he confronts Murad. He’ll never not think like a politician, always finding ways to bypass and navigate tough situations. This is why he seems so stiff and unlikable to me.

Who knew Murad cared about his daughter, eh? I certainly didn’t. And for the record, I’m not worrying about what Faateh said at the end. We know at this point that the history is different from what actually happened AND that Taliya goes back to the present. One curious thing, though. Since Adam is writing the book he has to be there to record everything. As such, how long are they going to stay in the past for his book to be complete? Like, OMG are they stuck for years or does some other Adam take over or is the book really short or something. It’s a school text book in the present day so it won’t be too bulky, I presume? We shall see.

Bless, Winona Ryder, her priceless reactions imitate my feelings about this episode to perfection:

Everything. Her face says everything.

My Rating: 5/5

Posted in Book Reviews, Bookish Balderdash

The Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve – Overview

I did one Underrated Series post before (it was Septimus Heap) and this is essentially another of that kind. The Hungry City Chronicles, the Mortal Engines Quartet or the Predator Cities Quartet is a tetralogy, the four books being:

  • Mortal Engines
  • Predator’s Gold
  • Infernal Devices
  • A Darkling Plain

I heard about this series when I read that Peter Jackson was doing the first film. I jumped headlong into the first book then. I do that when I find out that a book is being made into a film. It was good. I mean, really, seriously good. I was intrigued and so I continued on and I wasn’t disappointed.


The books are set 1000 years in the future where after a devastating nuclear war called the Sixty Minute War the world has entered the age of “Tractionism”. Whole cities on wheels.

“It was natural that cities ate towns, just as the towns ate smaller towns, and smaller towns snapped up the miserable static settlements. That was Municipal Darwinism, and it was the way the world had worked for a thousand years, ever since the great engineer Nikolas Quirke had turned London into the first Traction City.”

There are Anti-tractionists, those who oppose such settlements, and live on the ground. The war between Tractionists and Anti-tractionists is the major plot line in all four books.

Fascinating, eh? It was unusual and odd, delightfully weird and also morbid. I’d been looking for a proper way to describe the tone of these books and yesterday while reading a review I came across the perfect description: “the series has one foot rooted firmly in middle-grade while other foot in YA”.

I literally couldn’t have said it better. This is one of the things about these books that baffled and took me by surprise EVERY damn time. One second it was all funny and silly and childish while at the other it was SLASH BOOM KILL. It fluctuates between the two themes so while you have your guard down and think that nothing is going to happen you get sucker punched with something absolutely VICIOUS. This series is dark and it constantly tricks you into thinking that it isn’t.

It’s steampunk. The technology is far less superior to our own and CDs and phones and cars are things of history long forgotten. The steampunk vibe of the books adds more to the uniqueness of the tone.

Main Characters:

Hester Shaw and Tom Natsworthy are the two main protagonists of the books. The story stretches for a lengthy period of time, almost fifteen years so while new and young characters come into the fray, the old ones still stay and carry the story forward.

Tom used to be in the Traction city of London, he was an apprentice historian and he loved his job but one day after London eats a small mining town, a scavenger named Hester Shaw comes aboard and tries to kill the most important man in the city. They’re both thrown overboard. They have many adventures together and eventually fall in love. In the first two books they are fifteen, in the next two they are in their early thirties.

Now, I never warmed up to Tom. He was a nice enough person but he was extremely gullible and ignorant and kind of a weakling. My major reason for disliking him stems from a number of his actions regarding Hester. While Hester loved him too much, it seemed, he never loved her enough. Without spoiling anything, there’s one important thing about Hester that contributed to his behavior but I didn’t gave him a leash because of that, cause love is supposed to be beyond everything! You’ll understand better once you read the books.

Hester was ferocious, vicious and stern. There were certain times she was despicable but most of the times I loved her and wanted the best for her. She kicks ass and takes names.

The best thing about this series is that everything comes full circle eventually. Minor things that you ignored in the first book or the second book will pop up eventually and play a very surprising part in the overall plot. It’s neat, is what it is.

I’m not doing it justice with this pitiful essay but it’s something that simply has to be read. It’s a roller-coaster ride of Final Destination proportions. HIGHLY recommended!

Posted in Book Reviews, Urdu Novels

Haalim Episode 9: جہاں ملتے ہیں تین چاند – Review

I read this episode in two halves. The first half was read with extreme difficulty where I attempted to go back into the flow after an almost three month gap while struggling to stay awake. As a result, I was not having any of it.

My general summation of this first half reading experience is that I was past the point where I cared what anyone was doing, it sounded repetitive and I was sick with boredom. I still retain this notion, though less intensely now.

The second half was more exciting, more than fifty percent of the credit goes to the fact that I was wide awake. But seriously, the second half was much more fun than the first.

Now, the episode is called جہاں ملتے ہیں تین چاند (Where Three Moons Meet) and I found it a little counterproductive that this particular place isn’t the focus of this episode. There’s one dream and two or three mentions total concerning this “island”. Wouldn’t it have been more prudent to name an episode that where they actually go there? No? Okay.

I’m officially tired of NA’s writing style. This is practically treason but I can’t help how I feel. This has never happened before, not with her or any other (urdu) novelist and I don’t know why it’s happening now. But it is. I see the characters doing the same things, showing the same expressions, that is, I’m more irritated by the repetitive use of certain phrases. This is her unique style, I understand that, it’s how she writes. But, I just, can’t deal with it any longer.

For example, and this happens twice in this episode and innumerable times in the previous ones, when a characters ‘puts both hands on the table, leans forward, looks their opponent in the eye and say their next words while chewing each one’ I have to take a second to relax my annoyed nerves. See, things like that are very specific and they keep propping up! And they’re not even restricted to one person, everyone seems to do it. Everyone is smart, everyone is deceptive, everyone has tricks up their sleeves. It is A-nnoying.

By far, the most interesting thing to happen in this episode is Faateh’s reaction to the possibility of Taliya’s marriage to the Sultan. This was something I didn’t know I needed that bad but apparently I needed it badly. It was a HELL YEAH moment that happened deep inside the recesses of my soul.
I’m not particularly bothered by Taliya’s attraction to Faateh. It isn’t entirely uncommon or unheard of for a woman to fall in love with an older man/a married man/a married man with kids/an older man married with kids and vice versa. She isn’t even too young for this to be problematic. She’s nearing thirty for the love of God.

No, what’s stupid is that he let her fangirl crush and admiration turn into love. I have crushes on a wide range of celebrities, older, younger, married, unmarried, with or without kids, if I take it too far that will be a problem.
But even then, two things: a) she is keeping this to herself, so for all intents and purposes, it looks like only a crush. She isn’t all out forcing herself and her feeling upon the man which will be highly inappropriate. b) said ‘married man with kids’ doesn’t reciprocate, he has begun to care, that much has become crystal clear but it isn’t the same thing, he isn’t betraying his spouse. The position these people are in is as difficult as constipated shit.

The point is: this can go in any unpredictable direction, it is the most unusual pairing EVER, I find Faateh’s age and his married+kids status uncomfortable and that makes it all the more exciting. No idea where this is going but I like it a LOT.

It’s sad how a sensible and (apparently) wise character like Adam is becoming a resident fool. He exists so Taliya can make fun of him, he can take lame digs at her and we readers can be told things while Adam asks the grownups questions like a kindergartner. Except for when the taunting comes to “keun, tum kitaben naheen parhte kya?” the rest feels forced to me.


Yes, yes. Shut up, Faateh.

His Royal Highness will look down upon a compulsive liar, if said compulsive liar will, you know, lie, to him after promising very recently not to do so after a ‘lifetime’ of lying.

  • Yan SoFu (I KNOW I’m writing this wrong) and Taliya’s unexpected alliance was a nice and positive move.
  • The origins of the word ‘chai’, though. High Five.
  • Nidamat and Sharamsari are two separate things. That was interesting.
  • Taliya in the Sultan’s harem. Lol. Mazel Tov, Sultan.
  • Trivia about what “off-shore accounts” mean was appreciated.
  • I’m not worried about Murad discovering that other people have traveled with Taliya to the past. The reason being a) our heroes are absolute smart-asses and they can con even the most clever of all baddies (I say this with heavy sarcasm) and b) the extent of the baddie’s ruthlessness hasn’t been made clear to me. I don’t take him seriously.


If you’ve read this episode PLEASE I’d love to discuss it with you.


Posted in Book Reviews, Film Reviews

IT: Book Versus Film Versus Miniseries

I read the book recently. I started it on the 1st of January and finished it on the 13th, reading about 100 pages daily. It was my first Stephen King book and I consider it money well spent. The size of his books always intimidated me which is why I never attempted to give his work a try.

From my bookstagram

It was fantastic and terrifying and got damn near baffling at the end. There was one scene in the book which I found utterly revolting and completely uncalled for. There’s bullying, graphic sex, gore, swearing and just about everything that would make a book or a film 17+ so beware.

Full spoilers ahead.

The story is about the mysterious and deadly entity haunting the town of Derry, Maine. People, especially, children, tend to disappear or be found mutilated and murdered and no one bats an eyelash. It’s like the town and it’s residents are being manipulated which is exactly what it is. The killer clown, or so he appears at first, is an ancient being from outer-space (and this is where it gets really confusing and vague) that has been silently living beneath the town for thousands of years. The town of Derry is IT.

I’ve already written a review on Goodreads. But basically, the book is all different kinds of horrifying. I’m not familiar with Stephen King’s work besides this one book so I don’t know if he writes in the same manner he wrote this book which is that he slowly builds up everything, the story, the characters, the surroundings, the history and dread. Major characters, minor characters, the people they interact with, the town, inanimate objects, he goes into incredible detail to paint each of these things and it’s what makes it so scary.

He literally goes like, hey, meet this person, he’s gonna die a painful and gruesome death. But before we get to it, let me tell you what he was like, what he liked to eat, what he liked to do, where he went to school, whom he married and just about everything else. THEN I’ll kill him. And he does. JEE. Thanks, man.

The story is told in flashbacks, alternates between past and present which gets more frequent and nerve-wracking near the end. I think it was scarier and better when it was just the clown and people were going missing left and right. The whole Turtle and macroverse theory thing was too bizarre and awfully disjointed from the rest of it for me to take seriously or even like. It lost all the terror at that point. I mean, huge black spiders? Puh-leeze. Turtles that vomited the universe? Eh?

Yeah. I find this cool on some level but it was better when it was just the clown.

Then, as if kids swearing up and down, being bullied and watching the horrors unfolding before their eyes, which no one else could see, wasn’t enough, there was this epicly DISGUSTING scene where all six of the ELEVEN year old boys have sex with ONE ELEVEN YEAR OLD GIRL. Right. You have to be ridiculously messed up in the head to consider this okay. Forget it being okay, it didn’t even make SENSE. My first argument is that writers come up with insane stuff all the time, surely, he could have thought of something else. Second, a blood pact is generally considered to be this powerful binding ritual that has magic and glitter and all that shit, which the kids MADE. So, I ask again. WHY?

Film Vs Book:

Obviously, a book as enormous as this merits at least two films which is how it’s going to be. Even so, there’s too much in there that couldn’t have been added into the two parts. The extreme detail, for instance. These seemingly unnecessary depth had clues that contributed to the bigger story so cutting them inevitably lead to cutting some major stuff. I didn’t particularly find any of the omissions off-putting but the story lost some essential piece of itself.

  • Bill, Stan, Richie, Mike and to some extent, Beverly, were exactly like their book counterparts, at least to me. I like Ben though he looked younger than the rest. Eddie was the surprise. The book Eddie is subdued while this one was chirpy and sassy and very spirited. All in all, the gang was well chosen.
  • Georgie was supposed to have died of shock! And his body found! I didn’t know it could get worse than that but it did. Instead he was dragged into the sewer.
  • Beverly doesn’t have a mother, Mike’s parents are dead and he has a grandfather, we don’t see Ben’s mother at all, Eddie’s mom was fantastic and just like I imagined her in the book, Richie’s parents also weren’t in the film. Apart from Mike, I don’t think the absence of the rest’s parents mattered much. But Mike had an amazing father and I felt the absence of that relationship keenly.
  • The fact that Beverly’s father was sick in the head and wanted to do her own daughter was insinuated heavily in the book but was made a bit more explicit in the film. Also, unlike the book, Beverly realizes this at that age instead of later.
  • Some of the key moments were there, like the leper for Eddie, the sink blood and cleaning thereafter for Beverly, Ben being tortured at the hands of Henry Bowers and a couple of others. I say “some” because it’s a huge book.
  • THANK THE LORD, the disgusting “bonding” scene wasn’t in it.
  • I liked how accurate the film was in terms of violence and language.
  • The quite literal floating was a nice touch.
  • The gang broke apart after the encounter at the house on Neibolt street, which did not have the shooting the Werewolf with silver ball bearing scene. Now, this I both disliked and understood. Understood because, again, the film did not have the luxury of length the book did and thus established through painstaking clarity how the group was meant to be formed and how they all clicked together and realized that they were in this through to the end, all of them. So despite being scared as shit, they never turned back even when they wanted to. This surety and strength in their friendship was missing in the film and I felt it. So they broke apart and had to be brought together when one of their own was taken. A film decision, sensible one but again, it took something from the story.
  • No black spiders or macroverse yet. Didn’t seem like a great loss. They can add it in the next film. However, there was a cameo of deadlights and a mention of the turtle a couple of times so maybe the next film goes there.
  • Pennywise sounded like Scooby-Doo in retrospect. Lol.
  • Stan’s monster was supposed to be dead drowned children but what was that thing in the film? It was scary but really weird.

All in all, it was a good and enjoyable adaptation and stayed true to the book as far as the violence and language goes.

Rating: 3.5/5

Miniseries Vs Book:

It’s surprisingly mostly exactly like the book. Like 80% is similar. Obviously it isn’t as scary or graphic or even R-ish but I loved how linear and true to the book’s plot it was. The changes were there but they made sense .

  • I loved this Bill as well. His stutter was better than the 2017 Bill’s, though. And the older version was great too but older Bill is supposed to be going bald while this dude had a freaking mane! Ehehe.
  • This version of Ben was better than the new one but I didn’t like the older one. Older Ben is supposed to be this supermodel. While the actor is handsome, he wasn’t supermodel material.
  • Both versions of Beverly were great. Young Richie looked too big. Old Richie, young Stan, old Stan and young Mike were a little weird. Old Mike was awesome, young Eddie was truer to the book Eddie while the new Eddie is feisty but still adorable.
  • The woman who played Audra had such a horrible accent.
  • There’s a scene in the film that wasn’t in the book but it was so adorable. Older Bill and Mike ride Silver just like they did when they were kids. I couldn’t stop smiling.

Overall, it was great. I liked this a lot at the beginning but then the lack of violence and any actual scare bored me. Plus, old movies have incredibly upsetting CGI which I find hard to stand.

Rating: 3.25/5




Posted in Book Reviews, Journal Entries, Me Stuff

Gypsy Diaries Entry IV – December 2017

Okay, December was a good one. Let it be known to all.

It wasn’t eventful, like I always say, but it just felt good throughout, you know?

It got nicely cold near the middle, after it rained on the 10th and 11th, but then it just wore off again and that was so disappointing. See, I like to experience the short days and biting winter together. But for some time lately, winter always comes full force when days are beginning to lengthen again and that makes me sad.

The first day of the month I went to a friend’s place. We talk regularly via chat and infrequently on the phone but the last time we met was February 2016. It was nice, obviously. I consider her to be one of my closest friends (don’t be shocked. Hobbits rarely go out, even if it’s to meet up with their best friends) and we always manage to have fun. The exchanging of gifts is our thing, sweet, exciting but also awkward because she insists of opening them right away and she insists that I remark on everything she gives me.

I managed 4 orders for my shop during the first half and three during the last. Which was LOW. Eurgh. That was, and is, upsetting. My goal is at least 10 each month. I used to be unconcerned about it before but now it makes me afraid.

My sister and ducklings came twice. The first twelve hours are the height of fun, the rest is chaos and confusion and a whole lot of screaming. Three little boys, what can you expect?

I read a whopping 11 books in December. Three of them were mangas so even if I don’t count those it’s still 8 which is 1 more than my usual goal of 7. A big fat YAY on that! Here are the books I read:

Artemis by Andy Weir

I liked it a lot but didn’t love it. The technical stuff got heavier and heavier until I couldn’t take it anymore.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

An extremely fun setting with an extremely disappointing adaptation.

The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carrey

HECK to the YEEEEEAAAH!!! Loved the first one, loved this one. Zombie apocalypse, but more interesting than the usual affair.

The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

Mostly crap and slap-dash.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Vivid and engaging but also a bit disappointing and lame.

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

God-awful protagonist, equally awful narration, more disappointing and lame.

The Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

An underrated dystopian book with weird awesomeness that everyone needs to read ASAP!

Predator’s Gold by Philip Reeve

Sequel to Mortal Engines, as good as the first one.

The Ancient Magus’s Bride Vol. 1,2,3 by Kore Yamazaki


Here’s to hoping January will be good too! Insha Allah.


Posted in Book Reviews, Urdu Novels

Haalim Episode 7: تاشہ پسونا – Review

Tasha The Enchantress!


I threw every reservation out of the window while reading this! Every. Single. One. Taliya’s background, the oddness of the prose, the feeling of something being missing. LORD ALMIGHTY, it all went away. Nemrah Ahmed is unreservedly brilliant and this book is getting cleverer by the episode. Fantasy in Urdu was an unheard of idea and I had my qualms, sure. It even took me a while to acclimate myself to that but now I’m a hundred percent invested in the story because OH-EM-GOSH did you read this episode?!

The episode was a freaking spectacle. Taliya Murad is a force to be reckoned with. There’s woman who kicks ass and takes names. I was previously dissatisifed with her character in general. Her “Mary-Sue”-ness despite being explained does not seem believable, I said. Well, obviously Nemrah was hearing because she took Taliya a step further. Instead of being told, we were shown Taliya’s childhood and the events that led her to what she is now. It all comes together so perfectly I just want to take a moment and cry over the perfection, gimme a sec.

Ain’t that badass or ain’t that badass?! Talk about big dreams.

Slowly, we learned how she started thieving and how she came to learn all these skills and knowledge she now possesses. And I loved it!

Now, I remember speculating in my last review that since the book involves Time Travel, and Time Travel is ridiculously messy if nothing else, one of the three characters might turn out to be a historical figure. I had placed my bets on Faateh since Taliya couldn’t possibly be the princess (HA) but you know what? Reflecting back at what the HECK just happened, both Faateh and Adam have a strong probability of being one. Oh, yeah, TALIYA IS TASHA PESONA.

There’s a scene where the same filmy technique is applied, to great affect I might add, where Taliya realizes who she is while she remembers what the history books say about Princess Tasha and the writer simultaneously narrates the instances in her life which coordinate with those historical facts. It was BRILLIANT! And the first time I felt this technique was done full justice.

And I find it hilarious that the person Faateh has idealized all his life is actually Taliya. That’s definitely bringing him a notch or two down from his high-horse. Adam is like this annoying bug that Taliya mercilessly swats in the episode. It was priceless.

Can’t wait for the next one. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for the bia-monthly episodes to go back to one episode per month, haina? Just when I had started to enjoy things…Ugh. That was sarcasm by the way.

My Rating: 10/10

Quote of the Episode:

Posted in Book Reviews, Urdu Novels

Haalim Episode 6- “بازگشت دختر” Review

Shit has had the fan, yo. I repeat. SHITETH HAS HITETH THE FANETH.

Yeah, that was my FACE throughout this episode. It was filled with ASDFGHJKL upon ASDFGHJKL that had me short for breath. By far, THE BEST episode of Haalim and by the power of fangirling vested in me by Nemrah Ahmed’s brilliance, I promise you, your mind will be blown into smithereens.

What started off as a typical Urdu novel that promised to be different took an unorthodox direction when it involved the element of Fantasy in it, aka clairvoyance, but now, MAN! It’s gone up to another level entirely because, ladies ad gentleman, hear me clearly, this is HISTORICAL SCI-FI/FANTASY. There is frickin’ time travel in it. TIME TRAVEL.

Let that sink in. Go on.

Bless my Pakistani Women’s Digest reading heart. WHAT? I never thought I would live to see this pass.

Okay, so if I’m following this correctly, Taliya was born in the 15th century Melaka. She belonged to a clan of Pamboro or “hunters” in a village. The villagers were persecuted by princess Tasha so her father made a key that opened the door to a treasure. Only, that treasure was Time itself as the Pamboro clan could travel in Time with they key and the mark on their necks. Taliya’s father probably wanted to end whatever cruelty was being inflicted upon his people by herding through the Doors of Time into another period but before he could, his people were all caught and put to jail to be executed. Scared, the young Taliya ran away with the key and opened the doors herself. She was thrown into the 21st century and all her memories went kaput, until she found the key, that is.

The bits and pieces are missing, details like why Taliya’s people were being hunted even though they were the huntsmen, does the Pamboro people have different powers or just clairvoyance or even that Taliya was the only one with the power, etc. Obviously, now that the dream she saw in the very first episode, the beginning of this book to be exact, came to pass so unexpectedly quickly, the story will unravel meticulously.

You know, this episode reminds me of two books I’ve read recently. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell which I legit just finished yesterday and the PathFinder series by Angie Sage. The former had a female protagonist that can travel in time and she and her people, the Mageus (people with magical powers) are persecuted by an organization known as the Order. She travels back in time, to the early 1900s to steal powerful artifacts from the Order in order to defeat them. Now you can see, the two are incredibly similar. Funny how coincidences work.

The PathFinder trilogy had the young Alice TodHunter Moon who belonged to the PathFinder clan. Only these people could traverse the Ancient Ways hidden beneath arches all over the world without getting lost. So there you have it.

The first shock of the episode came when we learned the truth about what happened with Aryana. That was heart-breaking and truly horrifying to read.

You’d me surprised at how quickly chain links fit together after that. That idiot Adam (yes, I retain Taliya’s opinion of him) wasted no time in coming to Melaka and confronting Taliya and after doubting and believing her/himself for the 56353th time, he went to Faateh. THAT led to an epic showdown between the three, Taliya’s first vision was fulfilled and the three entered the Door of Time to the past, that took them right back to the time and moment Taliya crossed her century for another. So now, a grown up Taliya returns to her home, thus the title “The Return of the Daughter”.

Welcome back to 1437. Enjoy your stay.

She comes clean about everything in front of the two men, exposing Asra in the process and frustratingly shuts down. No plan A,C,D. The Taliya that emerges into the rain forest with Faateh and Adam is dejected, depressed and guilty and she remains so right until the moment at the end of the episode when she has another vision about her people’s imprisonment by the princess.

There’s this thing that keeps bothering me about this book so far. It’s rather difficult to explain. Something feels off in the narrative. Like, there would be a dialogue or a scenario or a character moment that’d have me scoffing. I’m not sure I make sense but I think it’s have to do with the novelty of this story. Something like this has never been attempted before and seeing as I’m used to nothing more but talks of shaadi, marriage and wedding in novels, the narration, the unique situations coupled with Nemrah’s style is a bit of a struggle to take in.

That scene in this episode, for instance, where the trio is walking through the trapdoor to find the treasure on Taliya’s insistence and she remembers what Datin told her about Time Travel. It was so unbelievable. Datin cracked the whole mystery like an egg from an old book, legit figured everything out, believed it and casually informed Taliya much like a kid reciting ABC. There is so much strangeness in this interaction on so many levels: everyone knows everything, things happen too quickly, the prose feels odd, and I just … can’t explain it.

I’m also realizing now that Nemrah’s descriptions are a bit lifeless sometimes. That “aankhon ko sukerna”, “baal peeche karna”, “dil dharakna”, whatever. They get on my nerves and I don’t see as vivid a picture as I can even though the visual cues are all there. See what I mean? Probably not.
The film-esque sequences are in this as well but I didn’t find them repetitive as before so that’s a relief.

Just gonna throw a WILD speculation here. I’ve been proved wrong before, in the beginning I thought that Taliya was Faateh’s long lost daughter, BUT, that shouldn’t stop anyone, right? What I think is, since they are back in the past among actual historical figures, one of the three, most probably Faateh would have some form of connection/ties/relationship with the princess or her father, making HIM a historical figure. Get it? Stuff like that happens all the time when people travel in time. They have wine with Charles Dickens, a picnic with Vincent van Gogh, just watch Doctor Who. I first thought ALL three would have some significance in that manner but after Taliya’s vision of the princess, that clarifies that the two are not one and the same but different people. It’s WILD, I know.

Here we are about Faateh again. I concede to start warming up to him a little. My general opinion of him, however, stands: he is too perfect, too wise, too calm. I know he’s supposed to be this motivational character, this enigmatic figurehead all of us will look up to  but his demeanor rubs me the wrong way. He recuperates too fast for my taste, it’s a tad unnatural if you ask me. But I AM warming up to him so that’s something. He reminded me of Hugh Jackman so strongly in this episode, of Wolverine. They both face shit, albeit very differently, and come back up again.

ALL ABOARD THE HAALIM TRAIN!!! *peep peeeeeeeep*

Quote of the Episode:

My Rating: 9/10




Posted in Book Reviews, Urdu Novels

Haalim Episode 4: “ميراث پدر من” Review

I could not get the time to read this when it was uploaded and even now I didn’t want to read it, con of reading novels with monthly episodes, but once you get started, there is no going back.
The episode is titled “Miraas-e-Pidr-Mann” or My Father’s Inheritance. Nemrah Ahmed has the habit of using both Urdu and Persian in her episode titles which is cool.

The first thing I feel like talking about is the overall pacing of the plot. It’s going forward and at a suitable speed at that. I don’t feel as if things are moving too fast for me to keep track of (the only thing that prevents me or rather, prevented me from keeping track is the 30 day distance between episodes which now is thankfully 15 days) or if they are too slow as to stop being interesting. I like the fact that there is new information to gobble up in each episode and so far I’m satisfied with what I’m getting.

Taliya’s visions told her a little bit about her father, the mysterious key and the ‘hunters’. There were also a few flashbacks where we get to know some of what Taliya was up to seven years ago. I understand that seven years is a long time but to me, her “master of all trades” story doesn’t ring with me. I’m still not convinced. There is something missing in the narrative. Also, she reminds me of Matt Bomer’s character from White Collar.

The Expected But Unexpected HOLY SHEET Nemrah Ahmed Moments (EBUHSNAM) were in this episode as well. It’s a duh at his point.

  • The kid that ‘predicted’ Asra’s future being an actor set up by Datin.
  • Adam discovering that Taliya was indeed a con.
  • Taliya knowing that Adam knew that she was a scam and then covering it up.
  • Adam’s uncle having true visions.

I like Faateh now. He’s talking like a human being and responding in related answers instead of fairytales which is a HUGE step up from Faateh of the first two episodes. His wife, however, has me in pickle. Like her or dislike her, you cannot decide. Ashar also makes much more sense. He’s not just some evil power-hungry bastard. He was nice once upon a time but the expectations and whispering of a parent do strange things to a person. Datin and Adam also had their retrospection moments.
Each character had a flashback of his/her own where we got to know more about them.

Okay, so this is something I’ve ignored in the past but find myself unable to do so now, it’s my number one Nemrah Ahmed pet peeve, one that became apparent in Naml: unnecessary, unrelatable and often uncalled for dialogue in situations that don’t demand it and that dialogue often feels so ridiculous and out of place that I cringe. One such instance was in this episode when the flashback Adam was trying to encourage the scared little girl up in the tree to remain calm:

I read the whole thing and I am a 100% certain that most of the garhey alfaaz and philosophical messages could have been easily filtered out to leave something like “Don’t worry, kid. I’ll get you out of here, you just have to stay calm.” Not the absolute balderdash that Adam sprouted.

I don’t care if it was an opportunity to preach about courage and resilience, I don’t care that the actual message was worth listening to, all I know that it was infuriatingly out of place and if I were ever put into a situation like that, I would not let my rivers of wisdom overflow in front of a kid. I would talk in simple sentences, ones that he/she would even understand. Like, GAH.

This episode was comparatively more interesting and entertaining so now I’m definitely on the Haalim train. It’s just that now that I’ve come out of the “blind adoration” phase when it comes to Nemrah, I’m going to encounter more problems. But that is okay, I guess. What’s bothering me might not bother somebody else so it’s all just relative. Point is, she is a phenomenal writer and I’d still read anything she writers.

Quote of the Episode:

My Rating: 4.25/5