Wrap Up | January '17

Salaam! I’ve started to think that I should just stop apologizing for disappearing for weeks on end because I feel guilty, and then I end up making promises I can never keep, and it becomes a vicious cycle. So, no more apologies. Just that school started, and it’s already kicking my ass. Also, my laptop broke down- I have no clue what happened. One day, it just up and decided to become stupid, and I couldn’t use it for about a week and a half. That happened. But I got it back this afternoon, so I thought I’d start off by doing a much-needed January wrap-up.

Even though I wasn’t blogging much, January was a pretty decent reading month for me. I read a total of 8 books, which is good since I wasn’t reading anything at all the past couple of months. Quality-wise, you probably know how I am by now… it goes up and down. For the most part, the books I read ranged from good to pretty good, and that’s honestly all I can ask, ha. I did read something awful though, but more on that later.

PERSONAL HEADER

So… guess who I met? If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you might be unaware of this but I met Zayn a week or so ago. I love him to death- I think he’s both an incredible artist and an incredible human being. I was never a One Direction fan, but I distinctly remember thinking that Zayn was super attractive and had a unique voice; when he went solo, I really began to pay attention to him. Almost a year after his album release, I still listen to his songs almost every single day. I’ve binge-watched interviews and videos and stalked his social media, and he’s such a humble, grounded, adorable person.

Meeting him was incredible. He was so gracious and lovely; when I was taking a photo with him, my hand was shaking out of nerves so he reached out and steadied my phone. He was so kind to all his fans… and just in case you’re wondering, yes, he’s just as attractive in real life. 🙂

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I also saw one of my favorite bands live! I’ve seen Kings of Leon live once before back in 2014, and they’re so incredible that I couldn’t possibly miss their 2017 tour. Protip: there are two things you need to do in your life:

  1. See a rock concert in Madison Square Garden
  2. See Kings of Leon on tour

I won’t pretend like I’ve seen a ton of concerts, but I’ve been to a few big rock ones, and there’s something that sets Kings of Leon apart from the rest. They make sure their fans get their money’s worth of performances. They performed 28 songs. One after the other with minimal pauses in between- so energizing, so rapid-fire but so, so good. If you like even just a couple of their songs, I’d highly recommend seeing them live. Despite not being my favorite band of all-time (that crown goes to Linkin Park) I still prefer their concerts over anybody else’s.

O N  C H O O S I N G  A  N E W  A C A D E M I C  P A T H

Some of you might know this already, but I’m studying Applied Psychology at NYU. I just started the second semester of my junior year, which means I’ll be graduating in just over a year- which is insane just to think about. But I’ve decided that I want to switch…

Well, not really “switch” per se, but do something more advanced. Which is medicine! Surprise, surprise. When I went to Los Angeles over the winter break, I had a talk with a couple of my relatives, both of whom are psychiatrists. By talking to them and their constant affirmations that I was born to go into medicine, I started thinking. What do I want from my life? What do I want out of my career? And you might judge me for this, and I know this is probably why I’ve been sorted into Slytherin my entire life- I want to be successful. I want to be rich, lol, and I want to work for the money I earn. I want to travel. I want a good house, and a nice car. I want to be able to give my parents the chance to retire and sit back and relax while I am able to fulfill their needs. I want to buy stuff without looking at the price-tag, and I want to be able to give to causes that I support without compromising my day-to-day actions for lack of finances.

But that’s not just it. I wanted to become a psychologist so I could help South Asian youth who suffer from mental illnesses and are stigmatized and dehumanized. And I can do that. I can do that if I become a psychiatrist. I can do something good all while making a decent life for myself and my family. It’s going to take many extra years, particularly because I’ll have to take an extra year after my undergraduate to fulfill my pre-med requirements. But that’s a cost I’m willing to pay, you know? It was a scary decision to make. I wasn’t sure I could do it. I’m still not sure I have the brains to get into med school, but you know. I’ll go down with everything I’ve got. It’s honestly a little terrifying, but I’ve enrolled for the first class that’ll help me get there, and I’m ready.

But that’s all I’m going to ramble about. You came here for a reading wrap-up, so here it is!

READING WRAP UP HEADER

WRAP UP 1
E V E R Y T H I N G  E V E R Y T H I N G  B Y  N I C O L A  Y O O N  | ♡  &  A  H A L F  S T A R S

 R E V I E W

This rating may come as a surprise to many, but I really disliked this book – not because the technical aspects were bad, but because the themes were so offensive that it didn’t sit well with me. I was enjoying it at first; the fun additions of notes and charts and illustrations added character, and I was interested in the character’s experience with her disability. But then the love interest was introduced, which made the book extremely insta-lovey, and that was also when the ableist themes came into play. This book was one big message of: you can’t be happy and you can’t have a normal love-life if you have a disability. Which is wrong on so many levels and completely downplays the experiences of so many. I explain it better in my review, so if you’re interested in learning more, check that out!

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I F  I  W A S  Y O U R  G I R L  B Y  M E R E D I T H  R U S S O  |  ♡ ♡ ♡  S T A R S

R E V I E W

I had high hopes for this book, and for the most part, it did not disappoint. The main character was immediately likable, and you fully empathized with her desire to move on from a traumatic event and to fit in with a new group of people. My favorite aspect of the book was definitely her topsy-turvy relationship with her father; the nuance and complexity of their dynamic definitely added an extra layer to the otherwise happy book. I also thought that the romance was incredibly cute, even though I thought it was a little insta-lovey. Also, let’s talk about how little attention is given to great female friendships in YA- if you’re looking for a good female-friendship dynamic, check this book out. Trigger warning for transphobia, depression, suicide attempt and outing.

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E V E R Y  H E A R T  A  D O O R W A Y  B Y  S E A N A N  M C G U I R E  |  ♡ ♡ . 5  S T A R S

R E V I E W

I had very mixed feelings about this book; on one hand, I thought the world-building was incredible. Or rather, the potential for the world-building was incredible. Conceptually, the book was so strong, but I felt that a lot of the potential was wasted in execution. A ton of the world-building happens through dialogue rather than actual action. Which really bummed me out and kept me from enjoying the book. The characters fell flat for me too. I did, however, really enjoy the balance between whimsy and dark; I thought the plot was brilliant, and had it been carried out better, it would’ve definitely gotten a higher rating from me.

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N O T  I F  I  S E E  Y O U  F I R S T  B Y  E R I C  L I N D S T R O M  |  ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡  S T A R S

R E V I E W

This was perhaps my favorite book of the month, which was a surprise because I didn’t know what to expect when I went into it. I’ve only ever read one other book with a blind protagonist, and this one was completely different in tone from that one. I was wary at first because the protagonist is so bitter and mean and sarcastic, and I approached it with caution because it seemed to give off the vibe that she was that way because she lost her sight. But as the story progressed, as the main character developed and grew through relationships and interactions with the people around her, as she learned more about her past and her life and came to terms with her vulnerabilities, the beauty of the book came to light. It was truly a beautiful book, and another one with really amazing female friendships. Definitely a must-read!

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WRAP UP 2

T H E  Y O U N G  E L I T E S  &  T H E  R O S E  S O C I E T Y  B Y  M A R I E  L U  |  

♡ ♡ ♡ . 5  S T A R S

So, I know I’m late to the game, and I know everyone and their mother loves this series- and I understand why. Even though I didn’t give either book a great rating, I really enjoyed them both and am definitely looking forward to the finale. I think what makes this series stand out so starkly amongst its peers is the fact that it’s basically a villain’s coming-to-power story and then I’m guessing her subsequent downfall. I love the complexity of Adelina’s character; I enjoy how you empathize with her but also constantly criticize her choices because she’s going too far. I love the world-building, and the writing’s solid. I sometimes feel that the secondary characters feel flat, and also that Adelina’s still too likable to be called a villain. I want to see her pushed further so I can fully give her the label of villain, because I don’t think she’s there yet. Which was my main gripe with the second book. I won’t be doing an individual review for each book, but I’ll do a joint review for the trilogy!

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T H E  P R I N C E S S  S A V E S  H E R S E L F  I N  T H I S  O N E  B Y  A M A N D A  

L O V E L A C E  |  ♡ ♡ ♡ . 5  S T A R S

I don’t read a ton of poetry, but I picked this one up because I’m mutuals with the author on Twitter, and it won an award, and it’s been getting a ton of hype. It’s basically word porn. I think a lot of the poems in this are incredibly relatable; it covers topics like mental health, body image, family dynamics, loss and death, abusive relationships, moving on, self-love, feminism and strength. A lot of the values I hold myself were reflected in this, and Lovelace definitely has a way with weaving words together so that they say a lot in very few characters. I enjoyed the first two parts of the book much, much more than the last one- which I felt was a little dragged and didn’t fit in with the tone of the other parts. But if you’re looking to get into poetry and aren’t sure where to start, check this out.

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L I F E  I N  A  F I S H B O W L  B Y  L E N  V L A H O S  |  ♡ ♡ ♡  S T A R S

Okay, so let me preface this by saying that the premise of this book is very misleading. The reality television aspect of it doesn’t come into play until well past the 30 or 40% mark- and believe it or not, I was really, really enjoying the book before the TV part was introduced. Definitely the strongest feature of the book is the writing. Vlahos is incredibly gifted; he’s clearly honed and polished his voice to perfection. It’s snarky, it’s intelligent, it’s satirical and hilarious and also surprisingly simple. Just reading his words made the experience delightful. His decision to tell the story from approximately eight perspectives was a gutsy move, but he pulled it off. The relationships, the themes were all spot on. It’s just that the storyline began to drag after the 60% mark, and the characters didn’t undergo any development, which I would have really liked to see. Even so, this was such a fun, fast-paced book, and I’d recommend it to anyone. Full review to come!

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BLOGGING HEADER

So, I’ve talked a little already about how I basically failed at blogging this month- I’ve never been so far behind my reviews. Because blogging sucked so much, I’m not going to do a post-to-post wrap-up like I usually do. But I’ll just leave a link to the Diversity Bingo 2017 event that I, and a few other friends are hosting. It’s basically a year-long reading event where you need to read 36 books that fit into a bingo sheet, each fulfilling a facet of diversity. You can find more information (and my TBR) here.

I also compiled a list of the diverse books releasing between January and June of this year. I know that I could have really used a masterlist, and in compiling it, I introduced myself to so many awesome-sounding books. If you’d like to check it out (and share, if you can please!), you can do so right over here.

The last post I’ll feature is my top 10 books of 2016. If you’re interested in seeing what the standouts of last year were, you can check them out here.

MUSIC AND TV HEADER

So, y’all probably know by now that A Series of Unfortunate Events was released on Netflix, which I binge-watched and freaked out over. The books were such an integral part of my childhood, and it felt so wonderful to revisit the characters and the story. The show stays so true to the books- from the narration to the sets to the whimsical, weird, magical-realism-type tone, everything feels like home. The casting is spot-on. I love Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, and it took me some time to warm up to the children, but I love them all dearly now. Go check the trailer out:

As for music, I’m going to be fully basic and just talk about Zayn a lot more, ha. I barely listened to anything except for his new track with Taylor Swift. I really don’t like her, guys. The fact that the song is the soundtrack for Fifty Shades Darker really doesn’t help, but come on, it’s Zayn. I had to give it a try- and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. I’ve often wanted a version where it was just him singing, and guess what- yesterday, he dropped an acoustic version where it’s just him and a guitar. It’s honestly heaven-sent, and even though it was released in February, I couldn’t go without including it here. Check it out- it almost seems like a completely different song, and I haven’t listened to the original since!

So that’s it for last month’s wrap-up. I know, I had a lot to talk about- it was a busy month and a lot was happening in life. Kudos to you if you made it this far into the post. Let me know in the comments below what your month was like? As always, thanks for stopping by and happy reading!

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  • AIMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL <3 Welcome back, I missed your post and I hope we get to see a bit more of you, and if not, it's okay, we still have twitter haha.
    I get what you mean when talking about going into medicine, it was such a scary decision for me to make even though I knew it was something I've always wanted and I didn't see myself doing anything else, it just seems so daunting. And I'm not gonna lie, it is, it is scary and big but it is so worth it and if I can do it, you can do it too. So, WELCOME TO TH MED-BLOGGERS SQUAD (which I just made up and is a one person squad, yeah.)
    I'm very excited to mean your new co-blogger and for the domain name, that is such a great step to take, congrats in advance!

    • FADWA, I LOVE YOU. Hehe, I’m going to try and be a little more regular now at least because I’m behind on my reviews by like 7 BOOKS. Which is insane- I’ve never been behind before.

      YES, I’m so glad to be part of the med-bloggers squad, so you now have two members, bahaha. I’m always so in awe of people who do stuff like med school and law school and still have time to blog regularly, so honestly, kudos to you girlie because I know I’ll go AWOL once I get into the swing of things. But yeah, I’m never leaving Twitter alone. 😉

      • I was behind on 6 reviews as well but now I only have one more to write 💪
        Hahaha we need to recruit more people. Aaw thank you ❤ Tbh, weekends save me, I wouldn’t be able to do it otherwise.
        Yes!! Twitter needs you!

  • Aimal, I’m so happy for you! You know this already but I’m also really proud that you’ve taken a step toward really building and creating the life you want in the future and I just think you’re freaking amazing haha.
    It’s so great that you’re getting a co-blogger! I can’t wait to see who it is and how your blog is going to change. It’s so exciting!
    I really want to read Not If I See You First now that you’ve recommended it, I already have it on my TBR now I just have to bump it up a bit haha

    • Love you, Sara! It means the world to me, especially because I’m my own biggest critic and I’m always so hard on myself when it comes to my future.
      And yessss, read Not If I See You First. It’s so good!

      • I think we all tend to be a little too hard on ourselves, I know I am, so be proud of your choices, hon! You’re gonna kick ass! ❤️

  • That must have been SO exciting to meet Zayn! I don’t think it’s selfish to want to know what you want and going for it. I think it’s brave since I don’t know what I want to do. It sounds like a lot of good things are going to be happening for you! 🙂

    • Hahaha, it happened over a week ago and I’m still buzzing from the experience. Words of encouragement are always appreciated since I’m such a critic of myself, so this comment means a lot. Thank you so much, and I’m sure you’ll find that one point in your life where you realize what you want to do. Chin up. <3

      • I can only imagine that that feeling lives on! 🙂
        You’re very welcome, I think we’re all critics to ourselves, I know I am a huge critic to myself! And thank you, I know one day I just have to buckle down and just really set out a goal for myself.

  • This is such a great wrap-up, and I am so happy for you, both about meeting Zayn and about finding your path in life and what you really want to do out of this life. This is so, so great, and so inspirational, really. Wishing you the best of luck for everything! 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Marie! Words of encouragement are always so helpful and greatly appreciated, so your comment means a lot. <3

  • This was such a lovely wrap-up, Aimal, and I really enjoyed reading it. Idk about other people but I like reading a little bit about personal updates too! Even though we’re all book bloggers, I like knowing how people are and what is new in their life.

    Re: career/study changes, I wish you all the best and I know you’ll do great! When you mentioned you wanted to work as a psychology to help South Asian youth, this REALLY resonated with me because, for the longest time, that has been my goal too. In New Zealand, we have a lot of Asian diaspora but studies show that their mental health is really poor relative to other ethnic groups because of the lack of culturally sensitive support they receive and because ‘Western’ models don’t work. Tbh, I had forgotten about this goal ever since I left university and worked an irrelevant job for so long, but since I’m returning to study, I hope I can find the rekindle my passion and drive for it again.

    Okay this comment is getting LONG (I just related to it, haha), so I wish you all the best with your new endeavours – I know you’ll do amazing – and I cannot wait to see who your coblogger will be. <3

    • I LOVE LONG COMMENTS, so thanks for this cw! I know- sometimes it’s nice to be able to talk about personal stuff on my blog too, just to make the connection more intimate. I don’t do it often, but maybe I should start. I felt better after hitting post!

      I totally get you on that front. I actually very recently had to do a paper on a culture’s perspective on mental health, and I chose Asian societies – specifically South Asian. It’s unfortunate that we expect our kids to be perfect, to travel a set path and any deviations are looked upon as some sign of weakness. Asian women in the United States have the highest rate of suicides, and change won’t happen unless it’s fixed from within these ethnic groups… after doing my paper, I really made up my mind about what I wanted to do. <3

  • So many big changes in your life, and blog! I wish you lots of success, Aimal! I know you can do it 😍😍

  • Welcome back! Also, you met Zayn?? It’s like a lifelong dream of mine omg I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOUUU! I was a 1D fan, but I always love hime slightlyyy better than the rest 😀 His voice is just heavenly, the way he hits those high notes… <3 I admit I was really bummed when he left 1D, and the announcement came the only time they were touring in my country! 🙁 But it's good for him to break the boy band phase and create music he truly wanted <3 Enough about Zayn, I also didn't read or blog much last month, this slump really sucks :/ Also, that's very brave of you switching major! I feel like I am both in the right and wrong place right now, so I don't really know what should I do 😅
    I hope everything will works out fine for you! <3

  • Welcome back! Even though you didn’t blog all that much, you still did some great things this month! And you’ve read a good amount of books as well. I bet you were freaking out when you met Zayn, if I met my favorite singer or actor I probably wouldn’t even be able to talk. I’m loving the Series of Unfortunate Events series as well. NPH is the perfect Count Olaf. Netflix did great with this adaptation. I admire and respect you for making such a big decision with choosing to study medicine so that you’ll be able to support your parents when they’re a bit older and to live a comfortable life without financial troubles.

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