Posted in Bookish Balderdash, tags

Beauty and the Beast Book Tag

Woohoo. It’s lil’ ‘ol me again. With a book tag. Rejoice.

Beauty and the Beast? Who doesn’t love Beauty and the Beast? I certainly do and have always done. So, dudes and dudesses, I present to you a B & B themed book tag! Disclaimer: I didn’t create it.

Let two and a half hours of intense wracking-your-brain-to-think-of-answers begin!

P.S: Harry Potter is automatically excluded because that never gets anyone anywhere.


a) A villain you can’t help but love:

Two answers:

  • Levana from The Lunar Chronicles: I don’t love her, rather, I love reading about her. Fairest was disturbingly addictive.
  • Hester Shaw from The Mortal Engines: She’s more of an anti-hero. She constantly skirts the boundaries of good and evil but I love her.

b) A book everyone loves but you don’t:

I can think of three right now, there may be more:

  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • Wintersong by S. Jae Jones
  • Carry On by Rianbow Rowell

Seriously, I DO NOT understand the deal.


Your favorite One True Pairing (OTP):

LOL. There are so many and I’ve never been able to pick one I like the most. This answer is completely random: Sophie and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle.


a) A character who is destined for greater things:

Joyeaux Charmand from the Hunter trilogy is the best candidate that comes to mind. She’s sharp, level-headed, rational and just makes sense.

b) A book you bought for its beautiful cover that’s just as beautiful on the inside, too:

A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab. SWOON.


A loyal sidekick you can’t help but love more than their counterpart:

It’s more of a fifty one – forty nine: Jean Tannen from The Lies of Locke Lamora. There is zero question about him being lovable. He is freaking GOALS as a friend. I definitely love him a fraction more than Locke.


A book that helped you through a difficult time or really taught you something:

No book has ever helped me in a difficult time because, praise be to the Lord above, I’ve never fallen upon one. The book that really taught me to have more confidence in myself and my choices was Jannat Kay Pattay by Nemrah Ahmed.


a) A book that made you hungry:

The earliest book I remember with the most delicious food descriptions was The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. I don’t like that book a lot.

b) A fictional character you’d love to have over for dinner:

Percy Jackson because of his delightful presence (I’d make sure everything is blue and we would both revel in sarcastic jokes) or Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows just to make him more uncomfortable than he usually is around people. He would be uneasy but I would totally love it. Tee Hee.


Opposites attract:

Imama Hashim and Salaar Sikandar from Peer-e-Kamil. Attract? Boy, did they ever.


a) A character who is more than they appear:

Okay, two answers, again.

  • IT from IT by Stephen King. See what I did there? Aren’t I disgustingly clever?! That was a more literal interpretation of the question. So:
  • The model answer, the most fitting one would have been Snape but no Harry Potter. I’m going with Shrike from The Mortal Engines. *sob*

b) A book or series that you weren’t into at first but picked up towards the end:

The Red Rising trilogy. Yeesh. It escalates.


A book you picked up because of the hype:

Some of them are purely by intuition and my own choice and are underrated but most series I pick up are hyped. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes is one of many.


A book or moment that always makes you cry:

The ‘always’ suggests that I re-read. I don’t re-read. But Yaaram by Sumaira Hameed was brutal for my mind and soul.


A popular theme, trope, or setting you will never get tired of reading:

Fantasy. Always. Keepin’ it broad.

I mixed up two different Beauty and the Beast tags into one. Neither was created by me. Feel free to do this if you want to.






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 Bookish Balderdash, tags

The Avatar Book Tag

I was browsing around for book tags yesterday and saw this. End of story. It had to be done.

It was originally created by A Clockwork Reader. The link to her Youtube video doing this tag is right here.

Just as an aside, I LOVE Avatar. Both The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. I’ve re-watched both of them and this is something I rarely do. I watched Korra before the original series but I think I love The Last Airbender more. Good times, man.

The tag is divided into four sections like the four Elemental powers, each section has three questions. I’m going to avoid Harry Potter altogether because it’s a default for my favorite anything and that would lead us nowhere.


1- Sokka and Katara – The best sibling relationship:

Okay, so not a lot of people know about this series. I discovered it last year and read almost the entirety of it continuously. It’s called Septimus Heap by Angie Sage and it is utterly delightful. There are eight Heap siblings and all of them are the very definition of adorable. Septimus, Jenna and Nico are closer to each other than the rest and I LOVE THEM.

2- Yue – Favorite star-crossed lovers:

There weren’t any star-crossed lovers in the books I read in 2017 but I remember one such couple from way back and it’s definitely my favorite: Aleeza and Umar from Ammar Bail. RIP, heart.

3- Blood Bending – A book with a disturbing/unsettling concept:

I’m SO glad that came up. IT by Stephen King which I’m 166 pages away from finishing is as unsettling as it gets. Seriously, YIKES. Two close contenders are Let the Right One In and Let the Old Dreams Die by John Ajvide Lindqvist who, incidentally is called the “Swedish Stephen King”.


4- Toph – A character whose strength surprised you or the characters in the book:

The Losers Club from IT. All seven of them. Given the absolute terrifying shitstorm they were subjected to, even after knowing their individual weaknesses, it was surprising to see how resilient and brave all of them were. I’ll maybe not count Stan Uris completely but as a kid he was courageous as well.

5- The Tales of Ba Sing Se: Best short story/poetry collection:

I’m going to go with Let The Old Dreams Die by John Ajvide Lindqvist. That’s the only collection I read last year besides 13 Tales of Villainy which wasn’t stellar material and A Language of Thorns  which I liked but wasn’t too stoked by. Most of the stories in the book were so odd and unexpected, almost all of them were horrifying and that sense of dread the stories invoked as you read them was fun. Oh, and some of these stories were really long.

6- Kioshi Warriors: Best warrior character:

Hester Shaw from The Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. Her significant other literally hides behind her all the time. She isn’t my favorite, hell, I don’t even remember if I have one. But in the recent books I’ve read her name springs to mind immediately so she is the best.

My second choice (male this time) is Jean Tannen from The Gentlemen Bastard series by Scott Lynch. ‘Cause you only have to hold out until Jean gets there.


7- Zuko: Best redemption arc or a redemption arc that should have happened:

Magnus Damora from The Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes. I was rooting for him. He wasn’t a villain but he did have to redeem himself which he did. And funnily enough, both Zuko and Magnus have scars on their faces.

8- Iroh: Wisest character:

That dude from Sleeping Giants who conducted all the interviews. I really, really liked him and since he did most of everything I guess he was pretty wise.

9- Azula: Best downfall:

I’ll take that a bit differently. Instead of best character downfall, I’ll go with “best downfall that happened in a book”. It’s broader that way. And my answer would be The Girl With All the Gifts and The Boy on the Bridge by M.R Carrey. The downfall in question is of the world since it’s about zombie apocalypse, ya know. Kinda inevitable.


10- Appa: Favorite fictional animal/pet:

TOOTHLESS! From the How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. When I say that I mean the film Toothless, the book one wasn’t that cute or great, he was a total brat really but sometimes he was really funny and since he was sort of the basis for the film Toothless I guess it counts.

11- Aang: Purest cinnamon roll:

PERCY “SASS” JACKSON. Come on! That dude is pure and the world knows it.

12- Avatar State: A stubborn character/ a character that struggles with letting go:

Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I resented him a bit for this but it was essential to who he was. If he had let go he wouldn’t have become the terror of Kerch’s criminal gangs.

This has been literally the hardest tag I’ve done so far. None of the questions had immediate answers from me and I had to think and think and bend them a little bit. Bend them. Get it? EH?



Posted in Bookish Balderdash, Me Thinks

2017 As A Reading Year (and otherwise)

There is NO way I’m going to write two separate posts so I am going to cram everything in this one. God help me, I’m about to summarize 365 days worth of experiences.

Overall it’s been a good one. I made strides to change my life, small ones, and to some, inconsequential, but to me they were HUGE and they bore fruit. The beginning months were stressful and depressing and melancholy but gradually, as I found a purpose, it all went away.

I made some amazing internet friends (who I wish I could meet in person) and talked to them a lot. Alafiya and Ayesha from Goodreads and Kashi on Instagram.

I watched two of my all-time favorite shows this year. They were SUBLIME! Yeh Raha Dil and Yaqeen Ka Safar. And, and, … well, I don’t know. A LOT happened, didn’t it? It’s bound to, this is a whole year we’re talking about. But I’m afraid I don’t live an exciting enough life that merits a long recount.

2017 and Books

These are the books I bought this year. Pitiful? Why, yes! I’m not a millionaire you know.

Now, feast your eyes upon the books I read this year!

It’s a leeeeedle bit disappointing because last year my goal was 25 books but I managed 114! This year I expected to read at least 100 but set up a goal for 50. I got to 86 books. So in a way, I finished my goal but didn’t finish my goal. Eh.

But! Some of the books I read this year were reeeeally long and I read only 5 or 6 short stories/novellas.

Since listing them all out seemed difficult I thought it prudent to just take some screenshots and paste ’em here. I’m clever that way.

So… *drum roll* in order of reading from the first day to the last day of 2017:

From the bottom to the top. The Snow like Ashes trilogy was the first series I read this year and it was meh. I LOVED The Bear and the Nightingale!

(Again from bottom to the top) Besides King’s Cage and Wintersong I loved all of these books.

Our Story Ends Here was downright HATEFUL and lead me to write my best review to date, ahem ahem. Blood Rose Rebellion was lame, The Owl Service made zero sense to me and the Septimus Heap series became one of my all time favorites.

Let The Right One In. *shudders*

What the eff was Assassin’s Creed? The second book to the right in the bottom most row: TRASH.

Most of these books were cool.

So here we are, at the edge of twenty seventeen, about to step into a new year. I don’t celebrate these days much so compared to some, I don’t feel too stirred up at the prospect but such events, days have power, I won’t deny that. If nothing, it makes you look back and see what you did or didn’t get to achieve and what you want to do with your life. Such reminders are necessary.

Here’s to another year of plentiful reading and plentiful other things. May good things come our way. Ameen!

Posted in Bookish Balderdash, tags

The “Anything But Books” Tag

I liked it when I came across it on Mischenko‘s blog. It’s got some really cool questions that I would like very much to answer (even if no one wants to know).

#1: Name a cartoon that you love.

I’m trying to think of one specific but nothing comes up. I loved all of the ones I used to watch as a kid. Some we watched more frequently like Tom and Jerry while others were rare but I still enjoyed them like Ed, Edd n’ Eddy or Courage the Cowardly Dog. One I loved watching as an adult was Mr. Bean: The Animated Series. If I talk about a cartoon character, I’ve always found Tweety adorable. I used to LOVE him as a child and wanted (and got) a lot of Tweety toys and stuff.

#2: What is your favorite song right now?

“Alexander Hamilton” from Hamilton. My obsession is new and a little late and somewhat mild but it’s there.

#3: What could you do for hours that isn’t reading?

Sewing, most likely.

#4: What is something you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

Let me browse through the huge list of things I can do…

  • Well, I want to say sewing again but that’d be repetitive. Something I love to do but not entirely good at… I really love painting my nails? I have a steadily growing collection of nail polish bottles. I have no nail paint Expert Kit, those fancy brushes and stickers and stuff so I make do with my horribly shaking strokes.
  • I also love making cards. It’s what I did all the time before but this year I haven’t made more than a few. I once made this huge baby scrapbook for my cousin after she had given birth.

  • I’m really good at coloring. It’s been ages since I’ve done that but when I have a reference in front of me, I can replicate the colors quite well.

#5: What is your favorite unnecessarily specific thing to learn about?

Umm…I like browsing through celebrities’ wikipedia pages? I guess. Their ages, kids, spouses, number of movies, et cetera. It’s less amazing than saying “I love history!” but that’s what I like to learn. Not history, not ancient civilizations or dinosaurs or other cool shit.

#6: What is something unusual you know how to do?

The number of ‘unusual’ things I can do amount to a total of ONE. If you count what I’m about to say unusual. I understand the Anglo-Saxon Runes. I feel anxious just saying that. I just googled them and memorized all the alphabets. Now I can read them and write in them. Awfully handy when you have a fear of your diaries or whatever being discovered. I taught my friend these as well and it was like our secret language.

#7: Name something that you’ve made in the last year.

Last year? Something? That is dreadfully broad. But I think it’s fitting that I should answer that by saying, I made my first zipper pouch last year! I’ve come a LONG way since then *cough* but that was when it all started.

#8: What is your most recent personal project?

My recent personal project is my quest to become self-sufficient and independent financially. An online shop where I sell hand-sewn things and an online article writing job are parts of that.

#9: Tell us something that you think of often.

Life after marriage.

The thoughts are mostly of the scary kind.

#10: Tell us something that’s your favorite, but make it oddly specific.

Okay, for once, I have an answer ready. I love mango milk shake but here’s the deal: I have to be woken from deep sleep an hour or two after Fajr prayer and I have to be half-conscious when I gulp it down in three seconds flat. Then I have to go to sleep straight after.

#11: Say the first thing that pops into your head.


Till the next time!

Posted in Bookish Balderdash

The Reading Habits Tag

Yes, I read. A lot. It used to be once in a while but two years ago I discovered Goodreads and that changed. Now it’s pretty much non-stop. Finish one, start another and on and on. The notion that there are people out there who don’t read at all is unfathomable to me. My own brother and sister don’t read! I just, I can’t.

As with any activity, reading has its own set of associated habits. Here are 11 questions that answer how I like to read:

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Yes, I do indeed (pity there are no windows nearby). The room is supposed to be the guest/dining room (it’s a small house) but it’s mainly used by me for praying and mostly reading. I have almost all of my stuff here except for a proper bed and wardrobe. So anyway, there are two twin couches in this room and one big sofa cum bed. My reading place is the left of the twin couches AND the left nook of the sofa. It just feels right to sit there, you know?

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

I like bookmarks but find the practice of buying lots of different ones a waste and completely unnecessary. Anything goes. If I have a bookmark lying around I’ll use that, if I have a piece of paper, great! There are literally hundreds of ways you can mark your pages. Plus, I mostly read ebooks so all you gotta do is tap the bookmark icon and you’re done.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?

I can totally just stop reading if I have to. But often times I make sure to read a certain number of pages before getting up or calling it a day. So it’s kinda like this: during the day, stop whenever I got to. Before going to sleep: read to a specific number.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?


Ration for this month. Well, more like "half" of this month. I think I'll survive November. 😂 I am a HUGE snack lover and I always prefer to munch on one of these while I read. I was at the store today and kind of went Berserk. Not sorry, though. Not sorry AT ALL. QOTD: Your favorite snack of all time? Mine's Lays, hands down but I do miss these local ones that were just 10Rs per packet, insanely spicy and stuffed to the NECK. I've forgotten the name. They just stopped making them cause I haven't eaten one in three years. I have a packet saved like a weirdo, though.🙊 #bookstagram #bookstagrampak #bookstagrampakistan #bookstagramming #bookstagrammer #booksofinstagram #booktography #booktographer #bookphotographer #reader #readersofinstagram #bibliophile #bookish #bookaholic #booknerd #lays #oyehoye #snacklover #snackattack #munch #readandmunch #kurkure #localsnacks #ieatalot #layswavy #red #fireblood #frostblood #fiery #spicy

A post shared by Sara Saif (@burqabelle) on

This is an actual, honest to God photo from by bookstagram. I LOVE to munch on snacks while reading. I prefer it that way. Whenever I can, I eat and read at the same time. And I also make sure I’m reading while sipping my evening tea.

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

No, siree! It’s impossible for me to focus lest I’m completely alone. I don’t necessarily demand utter silence, moderate chatter is tolerable but it shouldn’t be too loud there should be nothing there in the room to distract me. I count TV and music as significantly distracting. So only me in the room with no loud music blaring in the background. I’m picky in this regard.

6. One book at a time or several at once?

I prefer one, always. But I have read two books at once a couple of times.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

At home, homie. I just said how I can’t focus if I’m not alone and there’s noise. Everywhere has other people and lots of noise. It’s not like I haven’t tried. I rarely go out, might have mentioned sometime before that I do not have an “outside” life, don’t like it, don’t want it, so the few experiences I had of reading outside home were far from successful. It takes 10 minutes to read a single page.

8. Reading out lout or silently in your head?

What kind of a weird-ass person casually reads aloud? A weird-ass one, probably.

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

No and no. Reading ahead is pointless and once I commit myself to a book I’m reading it all no matter how effing horrible it is. No DNFs, no skipping.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I don’t understand. How can you not break the spine? Once you’re done with it the spine is going to break, even if just a little bit. Or maybe there’s a trick to it that I don’t know? Either way, I don’t really care.

11. Do you write in your books?

I recall doing it once, and even then I was forcing myself to do it. It’s very distracting for me, pausing the reading to scribble. I don’t find the act of writing on books atrocious at all. If I think there’s something I need to write down, I’ll do it without remorse. But I don’t usually. I mostly read ebooks so I can’t.

Doing the unthinkable and actually tagging someone for a change. Take it away, Zainab! (A Bibliophile’s Obsession)


Posted in Bookish Balderdash, Gobbledygook, Me Stuff

My First Bookstaversary!

Short for “Bookstagram Anniversary”. Yup, I started my account last year on November 26th. So, technically, yesterday was the day but, you know, life and shit, couldn’t post.

I believe I was browsing through someone else’s feed or just checking what the heck “bookstagram” was on Google when I suddenly wanted to do it myself. And the very next day I did! It became obvious right at the start that it was messy work. The setting-up of props and books and good lighting is hard work. I slowly and eventually understood how to take good pictures, nothing teaches better than experience but I did start off nicely.

I mostly read ebooks, *ahem* the ones that don’t necessarily require payment. (IMMA HIDE) How could I, you ask? Well, I have my reasons. So, I buy a few books every couple of months or so. Compared to most bookstagrammers, that amount is insubstantial. My feed has always been more about unique angles and unusual stuff rather than loads of props with a kingdom of books in between. Get this: I don’t even have a proper shelf for the ones I do have.

Enough whining. Here’s what my very first post looked like.

Yeah, my captions really needed some work. Now, I think I’ve mastered the art.

Then there’s the matter of deciding what theme your feed is going to follow. By God, that took me along time to get. I don’t need to follow a theme, I would say to myself. But eventually I learned that even that was a theme of a kind. It’s a very bizarre and headache inducing thing that simplifies over time so don’t expect me to explain. Basically, you get it when you do it.

Some of the images from my first month of bookstagramming

And don’t even get me started on followers, comments and likes. That shit makes you lose your sleep, yo. And like everything else, you learn to live with it slooooowly and eventually.


And Hashtags! LORD IN HEAVEN, DELIVER ME FROM THIS EVIL. Be specific. Don’t be specific. Use 30. Use less. It’s a three-month course in itself, learning to use instagram specifically for books.

There was a period of time when I though, eh, I don’t only have to photograph books! I can take pictures of other things as well. It’s a free country, hey? Yeah. I outgrew it. So there are pictures of cats, babies, purses and random shit but 99% of this account is books.


I decided to keep a username that wasn’t too descriptive, if you know what I mean. The feed itself was going to show the idea anyway I didn’t think I would have to come up with a name to reinforce that. For example, xyz likes to read, abc reads too much, asdfghjkl bibliophile, 3788 bookish. They made me cringe before, they make me cringe now.


There are, of course, times when you just don’t feel like doing it (I’ve been facing quite a lot of those times recently) but as someone pointed it out to me, the key to doing this successfully is consistency.

As for what I mean by successful, well, I admit this somewhat shamefully, that even though I got into this because of books and I loved doing it and adopted it as a hobby, a part of me was fascinated by the idea of people getting free stuff off businesses just so they could promote it through their accounts. The catch? You have to have a frick ton of followers. And yes, that obsession left me in due time. I do not have the patience or the temperament for such a thing. The sheer dedication it requires is insane. Plus, it would have started being less fun and more duty-like if I had.


So here I am. A year later. Still doing it, still enjoying it. I don’t intend on stopping. Ever.

Oh and the camera I use for these photos? It comes with an iPad mini.

Posted in Bookish Balderdash

The Harry Potter Spells Tag

Statistics have shown that doing book tags causes more traffic on your blog. Great.

So please…

Nothing goes wrong when something has the words “Harry” and “Potter” together in it somewhere, eh? Before I do this, I just wanna make it clear: I don’t keep track of these things. As in, what’s my favorite ___ and ___ and stuff. I have opened my Goodreads “read” shelf and for every question I’ll be scouring through my books to see if anyone of them fits the question.

Let the magic begin!

Expecto Patronum!

A childhood book connected to good memories

All I read when I was a kid were Urdu storybooks, some of which I already have. So, all of them really. I was particularly fond of Naqli Shehzadi (Dummy Princess) and another one that had folktales from different cultures translated into Urdu.


Or alternatively: Your spirit animal book

Jannat Kay Pattay (Leaves of Heaven) by Nemrah Ahmed. Hands down.

OR A bookish hero or heroine you want around to protect you in real life

Can I please go with Asfandyaar Ali Khan from Yaqeen Ka Safar by Farhat Ishtiaq? This dude is so IN right now. The entire nation has been slayed. See for yourself.

I’d also like to appoint Faris Ghazi from Naml as my personal bodyguard and eye-candy.


A book that took you by surprise

I’m going to consider recent books for these questions. So, for 2017, the book that really surprised me was, I guess, Frostblood by Elly Blake. I was surprised because I had expected to not be surprised. Get it? I already knew it was going to be similar to other YA books with female protagonists (still I picked it up) but I didn’t think I would like it. So it was refreshing in that sense. Not only did I like it, I’m reading the sequel right now and loving that as well.

Or alternatively, A book that made you want to send it flying

Wintersong by S. Jae. Jones. The book is filled with bull crap and it is legit the worst book I’ve read this year after Our Story Ends Here. Just thinking about it makes me cringe so hard.

Prior Incantato!

The last book that you read

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. The book is EXCELLENT. The banter and dialogue between the characters is so good you’ll be hallelujah-ing all over the place.



A book that introduced you to a genre you hadn’t considered before

So this isn’t a book I read in 2017 but last year, sometime in June or July, I think. It’s called Qesar-o-Kisra (Caesar and Khosrow) by Naseem Hijazi. It’s historical fiction.

I used to always run from Historical Fiction because I thought it would be tedious and boring but I never even considered that “fiction” encompassed a wide range of genres, including fantasy. Since then I’ve read a couple of historical fantasy books and they’ve all been great. Even though this wasn’t exactly fantasy I enjoyed it a lot.

Or alternatively: A first book in a series that got you hooked

Again, there are plenty but I’m going to go with Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. It’s basically Pacific Rim but with far less mechs and a more detailed alien history.


A funny book that you’ve read

The School For Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. This book had me in stitches, it was so silly and fun. I’ve read the whole trilogy but the nothing beats the freshness of the first book. Highly recommended.



A book everyone should know about

I have two answers for that: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. This book is SUBLIME, bros. It’s enchanting and soothing and vivid. It’s set in early 1900s New York. The other one is the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage. This series is so unfairly underrated it breaks my heart. The series is delightful and utterly charming and there’s also a green-eyed wizard in it who happens to be the protagonist.



A book you would like to forget having read

I am of the opinion that no matter how loathsome you found a book the experience counts and so I wouldn’t wish to forget. But, since we’re answering questions I would like to mention a book I recently read that I DETESTED with every fiber of my being. It was so bad the dead trees must be cringing in heaven. Our Story Ends Here by Sara Naveed. Authors are so fond of using words like “Our” and  “End” and “Story” in their titles I’ve heard of, like, 10 books with similar names.


A book you read for school

I love this book, by the way. Somehow, the fact that it was being taught in class didn’t take away the magic of it. I used to be always ahead of the class and reading the next chapters while they read the previous ones (IN class, I might add).


A book that was painful to read

Depends on the kinda pain you’re referring to but I’d go with the happy one, the one you would gladly endure because it’s so toxic and delicious. Yaaram by Sumaira Hameed.

This is a made-up cover but I still love it because the version I was reading (the free, online, pdf one ;p) had this cover. I love this book to bits and it’ll forever be close to my heart.

Avada Kedavra!

A killer book

It’s open to interpretation so I’m going with “a book that you can literally kill someone with”. Naml by Nemrah Ahmed. It’s E-NORMOUS.

ScreenHunter_124 Nov. 07 18.41

Or alternatively, A character death that destroyed you

Omar Jehangir from Amar Bail. *LOUD SNIFFLING*


A book that you found interesting but would like to re-write

I’d go with edit. Or mostly edit and a bit of a re-write. The book being A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. MY LORD is that book a contradiction of emotions. The first half or so is fascinating and charming while the rest is utter fiasco. It’s also INHUMANELY, pointlessly long, hence the editing.


A book that you wish you had right now

Renegades by Marissa Meyer. I mean, COME ON ALREADY. I’ve been waiting pining for this book since the beginning of time.

Also, the cover reminds me of Tron: Uprising.


A book that you found confusing

Oh, that. *shudders* The Owl Service by Alan Garner. WTF was even the deal with that book. Behold the cover, and the face I made throughout the reading process.



A dark, twisted book

Add “disturbing”, “gag-tastic, “yuck-i-fying” and “horrible” to the list as well. Let The Right One In John Ajvide Lindqvist. Like, seriously, this book is disgusting. I loved it.

Cheering Charm

A book that gave you the warm fuzzies

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.


A book that made you ugly cry

I came perilously close to pure devastation and giving up on life in general. Yaaram by Sumaira Hameed again.


A book you intentionally spoiled yourself for

Er. Look, I was a kid back then, English isn’t my first language and it was sub-par at best at that time, I had no way of buying the book(s) and the movies were coming out year after year. *gulps*



A book or series you wish never ended

Jee, I wonder.
Apart from the obvious choice, The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. These books were SO GOOD, yo.

Wingardium Leviosa!

A book with an uplifting message or ending

Naml by Nemrah Ahmed. The book is all about fighting for justice and standing up for what’s right, no matter what. It’s about ants stopping their pretense of being weak. And guess what? The ants win.


An author whose book always gets you out of a slump

I don’t turn to any specific author when I’m in a slump. I always turn to my language. Reading something in Urdu always helps.

Jelly-Legs Jinx

A hero or heroine who makes you swoon

Let me unfold my infinite list of fictional crushes. *puts on glasses*

  • Cihan Sikander from Jannat Kay Pattay
  • Shahdil from Dil Ka Nagar
  • Faris Ghazi from Naml
  • Aaliyan from Yaaram
  • Omar Jehangir from Amar Bail
  • Asfandyaar Ali Khan from Yaqeen Ka Safar
  • Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows
  • Percy Jackson (all that sarcasm! *fans herself*)
  • Howl Pendragon from Howl’s Moving Castle
  • Magnus Damora from Falling Kingdoms

… the list continues

Aresto Momentum!

A book that caused you to stop everything until you finished it

Amar Bail by Umera Ahmed. GOOD GOD, she knows her stuff.


A book with a shocking twist or ending

A short story comes to mind. Leigh Bardugo is the queen of cliffhangers so you can expect a certain amount of OMGfication in her books. The Witch of Duva had me reeling.

Finite Incantatem!

Best Conclusion to a series

The Lunar Chronicles and Six of Crows.



Posted in Bookish Balderdash, Me Thinks

The “Would You Rather” Book Tag

With a blog, … comes the responsibility to post. Ugh.

So anyway, I found this tag on Goodreads and then I searched Google for a couple versions of it and I’m putting the ones I liked here. This is a mixed one and my source is Google only. If you happen to be the original creator of these tags, feel free to sue me.

Let us begin!

Would I rather:

1. Have unlimited money for e-books or a $5,000 Barnes and Noble gift card?

We don’t have Barnes and Noble in Pakistan. And anyway, I’m not picky about getting specific editions or covers or things like that AT ALL. I just care about the book, old or new, hardback or paperback, ebook or physical. So, I’m going to go with unlimited money. Unlimited money sounds good. I could even cheat and use it for something other than books.

2. Meet any deceased poet or J.K. Rowling?

J.K Rowling is BAE and I’m not into poetry. I really wouldn’t care if Shakespeare was resurrected and started walking amongst us mortals of today.

However, Iqbal is another matter entirely. Okay, now I’m stumped. Iqbal or J.K Rowling? J.K Rowling or Iqbal? IMMA GO WITH IQBAL.

3. Write the world’s most famous book or visit the world of your favorite book for one day?

24 hours of ecstasy versus a lifetime of glory. JEE, I wonder.

4. Choose __ or __ ? (Insert characters from your favorite fictional love triangle)

I guess I’ll do a Percy Jackson one. Percy and Annabeth are adorable and meant to be together forever. BUT, when Percy washed ashore on Ogygia and spent some time with Calypso, my heart wanted the two of them to be together. It was early on in the series, the third book and Percy and Annabeth hadn’t truly been with each other by then but the attraction was there. I guess it would’ve created an unnecessary complication or whatever but I really, REALLY shipped Percy and Calypso. Especially now that I’ve read CaLeo in Trials of Apollo, this came back to me because I don’t like Leo and her together as a couple. They don’t have that spark. Sorry.

5. Experience Hogwarts in a very realistic and accurate virtual reality or travel around the world for a year at no cost?

Hogwarts is not real (LE GASP!) but the real world is, uh, real, ya know? And when you throw in some free money, well…

6. Always see the film first or never see the film version of books?

I can live without both these things. I read Maze Runner first then saw the film while it was the reverse with Hunger Games. Both of these experiences were unique and fun and I don’t prefer one over the other. Sort of the same thing with the second option. It’s fun to see how they portray the things you have read but if I don’t like the book or the cast of the film or just don’t feel like it, I don’t see it. I’ve read the Divergent trilogy but never seen the movies. So, any of the two or none, I don’t care.

7. Have a list of every book you’ve ever read (like Goodreads from birth) or still have the physical copy of your first favorite book?

I’m pretty sure I have the physical copies of the books I loved as a child (I don’t remember one specifically) but even if I didn’t, having a list of all the books you have ever read is way more satisfying. It’s a close one but I think it’s the list for me.

8. Have the time to read everything you want to read or the money to buy everything you want to read?

What? I want to do other things too. Reading all the time would imply that I don’t have a life which is not cool OR if I have enough money I can definitely stop worrying about other things and focus on reading only. The logic in both seems sound to me.

9. Dream cast the film or have editing power over the script for the film version of your favorite book?

Dream cast, hands down. Not only because editing is not my forte but also because I like seeing different versions of the same thing even if they turn out to be horrible.

10. Have your favorite fictional superpower or your favorite fictional technology?


11. Read an amazing story with a ‘meh’ ending or a ‘meh’ story with a spectacular ending?

Reading an amazing story with a ‘meh’ ending would mean that I’d spend more time having fun, although I’d get to rant and fume later. And even that has its perks as the best reviews are rant reviews so I would have a great time doing that too.

12. Not be able to read in a moving vehicle or not be able to read lying down?

Easy. Not be able to read in a moving vehicle. I lay down an awful lot than I travel. I seriously have no outdoors, pedestrian or otherwise, life. I’m a hobbit and hobbits like the comforts of home and staying far away from adventures of the non-reading variety.

Also, I’m the kind of person who can’t read in public places/vehicles.

13. Re-read your favorite book or series with fresh eyes, like the first time, or be able to un-read your biggest disappointment?

I would NEVER want to unread anything even if it was horrible. It’s an experience and every experience means something.

Oooooh, wisdom!

14. Read only trilogies or stand-alones?

No, seriously, I can’t. Being part of a series can be as much fun as reading a stand-alone book. Sometimes, you love the world and want to continue learning more, in which case trilogies are great, and other times you have had enough, hence stand-alones. And even when you get tired of reading long series, single books come to the rescue.

15. Read only male or female authors?

I will read both, thanks.

16. Shop only at bookshops or online?

I might have mentioned that I’m a hobbit? And that I’m not picky at all about how the book is? I’m not the kind of person who picks a book because she likes the look of it (there’s always a danger of doing exactly that at bookstores), I research beforehand about what I’m going to read next and then order online. I find it more comfortable. Not only that, browsing through the books at a bookstore makes me feel miserable and depressed about all the books I cannot have.

17. All books were made into movies or TV shows?

TV shows. There would be a little compromise on quality because the budget probably wouldn’t be as big but one episode on one chapter seems like a pretty sweet deal to me. Imagine a Harry Potter show: seven seasons, each season on one book with as many episodes as the chapters of that book. This idea was tossed around years ago but it still manages to excite me.

18. Read 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?

5 pages per day. I like doing other things too.

19. Be a professional reviewer or author?

  • I already review.
  • Being an author would mean that I’ve accomplished something awesome. And it’d be dead cool.
  • Being a “professional” reviewer would probably come with some rules, right? I like eloquent speech once in a while but my reviews are all me and whimsy and very unprofessional, albeit grammatically correct unless intended otherwise.


20. Only read your top 20 favourite books over and over, or always read books you haven’t read before?

Always read books I haven’t read before. I rarely re-read.

21. Be a librarian or a bookseller?

Neither. They both sound unappealing to me. I just like reading, doesn’t mean I like everything that is directly or indirectly related to reading. *runs away to avoid your chappals*

22. Only read your favourite genre, or every genre except your favourite?

I love fantasy and I read only fantasy so there’s that. BUT, I’m going to go a bit broader and say that my favorite genre is fiction as opposed to non-fiction, and that yes, I’d happily only read that.

23. Only read physical books or eBooks?

I’ve grown disgustingly accustomed to eBooks. The sheer number of conveniences, dude! I buy two books like once every three months or so and I’ve tapped their pages to get the meanings of a few words at least 2 times. I used to be very enthusiastic about telling people in answer to questions like this that I prefer physical books, maybe to convince myself more than them, but I can no longer lie to myself: EBOOKS.


Posted in Bookish Balderdash, Urdu Novels

Haalim Episode 5: تین خزینوں کا مسکن Review

The House of Three Treasures”, the fifth episode of Haalim was another steady episode. It was fun and quite straight-forward compared to the last one which was a roller coaster ride.

The people in this book put two and two together real fast. Taliya figured out her connection with the key, Adam figured out what Taliya’s after, Asra figured out that Taliya is a force to be reckoned with, it’s the fifth episode and already everything is moving quick. Which is a good thing, I guess but this “smarter-than-your-average-commoner” quality that all of Nemrah Ahmed’s characters possess does lend a certain unrealistic quality to them. All of them are perceptive, all of them are intelligent with excellent memories, meanwhile, I have trouble remembering what I had for dinner the previous day.

I also have trouble understanding why or how Taliya seems to be so enamored by Faateh. Sure, he’s charismatic, okay, he has this grand personality, but he’s a jerk, no matter how wise or sincere. He’s also a father of three and 45+, just saying. He was supposed to be this intriguing and charming character of the book in lieu of Hashim from Naml or even Faris but I have failed to see him as such. For me, he’s just another character in the story and I regard him with equal fascination as the rest, which is not considerable.

This makes me realize that none of the characters in Haalim stand out to me right now. I’m far more interested in the plot and the supernatural elements than the people.

There was this scene in this episode the likes of which we’ve read before in Naml. A character is narrating, he’s either speaking to himself or someone, while at the same time somewhere different, other character or characters are doing something else. This is quite a film-esque situation, one I’ve seen in multiple movies. What happens when it’s translated into a written scene is that the person’s narration becomes repetitive. It happened in Naml when Haneen was narrating her written letter to Aleesha and it happened here when Faateh was addressing the nation on national television. He kept prattling on and on about positivity (مثبت شعائیں for “positive vibes”, eh? Nice one, Nemrah, I liked that phrase) while Taliya and Datin focused on breaking into Ashar’s office. Maybe it’s inevitable given that the other scenario taking place has to be accommodated with the speech and since you’re only talking about one thing, “the need to develop a positive outlook towards life” in this case, you can only say so much.

Or maybe you can, I don’t know, it felt like he was saying the same thing over and over again.

So Faateh, Taliya and Adam are all about to come face to face with each other. Now THAT is going to go well. The biggest questions I have are Taliya’s past and Aryana’s kidnapping. I’ll bet Faateh’s fortune the two are connected. Asra has quite the venom in her, and some balls, if she had the gall to defend the same person she framed just so she could get back to her husband. Typical woman behavior, very disappointing.

Let’s see what this ancient house of Sun Bao does to our trio.

Quote of the Episode:

My Rating: 4/5