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Yang Safia On Saturday, June 25, 2011

‘So nothing is taboo any more?’ I interrupt. ‘You’re saying there are no two people who, if they
love each other enough, should be forced apart?’

Francie thinks for a moment and then shrugs. ‘I guess not. Not here, anyway, thank God. We’re lucky enough to live in a country which is pretty open-minded. As long as one person isn’t forcing the other one, then I guess any love is allowed.’


Forbidden is probably one of the most provocative YA novels there is in the market right now. It can be difficult to stomach for some readers as it focuses around one of the oldest taboo in the world right now; incest. Aside from that 80s YA novel (I forgot the title) that is famous for its portrayal of incestuous relationships, I have been wondering whether there will be any authors who would be brave enough to tackle on this topic, especially when it requires them to delve into that sort of emotions and almost taking a neutral perspective on the whole matter.

Often I encountered novels that play with the idea of incest but it is never a full-on incest (if you know what I mean) because most of the situations are still legal and possible. That's why when I came across Forbidden last year, I was really intrigued and could not believe my eyes. Finally an author who takes up the challenge. And to make matters more interesting, it is a YA novel.

Although I think certain parties would debate where they would place Forbidden.


Lochan (17) and Maya (16) are responsible for taking care the rest of their siblings after their father abandoned the family. The situation got harder when they have to deal with an alcoholic mother who is busy chasing other men. They relied on each other as they become surrogate parents to their younger siblings but their sibling love turned out to be so much more when foreign emotions start to take over the two.

The story is told in alternating POVs. I'm not a big fan of alternating POVs because I love the suspense of not knowing what the other think but for Forbidden I think it is crucial for us to know the thoughts of Lochie and Maya. To see their thoughts on delving into something so... forbidden.

Oddly enough, I understand. I understand their feelings for each other, and their struggle to do the right thing. But how can they ignore their feelings when they only have each other to rely on? Readers can draw upon the lack of adult supervision in their situation that eventually lead to this sin. Even though the characters denied this fact and insisted that they never had any sort of sibling feelings for each other in the first place. Which makes it even more heartbreaking for me.

The portrayal of the characters are raw and very much real. Suzuma makes it impossible to hate these characters; we might even end up cheering for this couple. It's true when people say, "You will never know how I feel until you've been in my shoes" and Forbidden will make you cry for this couple because you know what it feels to be in their shoes. I dont think it is a big deal if you find yourself defending the couple because from the start of the novel, it is apparent that these two are never brother and sister. I often find myself forgetting that they are brother and sister and see them more like a star-crossed lovers of the legal kind (if that makes sense).

I love Lochie. At first I thought he would be annoying but my love for him grew with every page turned. His tragic view of the world is so heartbreaking that you would just want to hug him. But this is balanced out with his immense love for his family. A self-less character that is so flawed and tragic that makes him perfect for Maya. Maya is an exact opposite of Lochie with her optimism and how she presents herself to the world. But you will later find that they are both so similar that their similarity and differences make them perfect for each other. Thus the BIG question would be why? Why is the world so unfair?

Now to the more technical aspect of the novel: I'm not a big fan of Suzuma's writing style. Without a controversial topic like incest, I think her novel would be very bland. And her metaphors or analogies are quite weak and not well thought out. I would get the basic idea but they are a bit too amateur-ish. I think Forbidden would be the only novel I'll read from Suzuma.

However Suzuma provides a good balance of emotions for such a difficult topic: the balance of disgust and struggle coupled with an exciting romance is perfect.

I don't think Forbidden is a pro-incest novel. I think to see it like that would be so shallow and undermines the credibility of the novel. Which is why I highly recommend for you to read this book and draw your own opinions on this topic. For me, Forbidden shows us that things are never as black and white as it seems.

Rating: 4/5
Yang Safia On Friday, June 24, 2011

It's finally here! May I present to you the official Mahsuri poster designed by me, with the skills of Tahfiz Taffazani Ahmad Zamri who made my vision come true.

For people in Dunedin, get excited and book your tickets now (well when the details are up on OMSA website that is...which is SOON!)!!

Click picture to enlarge.

Yang Safia On Saturday, June 18, 2011

Note: If you haven't read the first 3 books, I suggest you skip this review. Just to be on the safe side. But if you're the type who's okay with spoilers, by all means. Although I'll try my best to spare you guys important details so I won't spoil your reading.

NO!!! That was my reaction upon completing the book. I really tried my best to take my time with this one. But it only lasted me three days. After devouring the first three books (one book per day), I know that whatever the ending is in City of Fallen Angels will crush me because I'm going to have to wait like a whole year for the next one to come out.

If you've read up until Book 3, readers would know that City of Glass would make a good conclusion to the MI trilogy and that would be the case for readers who read it when it first came out. When I read City of Glass, I know there's going to be City of Fallen Angels so it wasn't like I was preparing for the end. But just to put the word out, City of Glass would have been a good conclusion to the series.

To be honest, I'm just happy to be back with the characters in Book 4!

Book 4 opens with all the characters being absolutely in love with their respective partners. Love is in the air and life is back to normal. Almost. City of Fallen Angels (CFA) gave me the impression that the focus has shifted from Clary to Simon. He is after all a Daylighter now, trapped in a love triangle and who at this point, seemed the most restless compared to the rest. And I was entirely convinced up until 2/3 of the book that MI will focus Simon's story now and Jace and Clary are somewhat taking the backseat on this one. I was a bit sad at first.

But clearly that's not the case if you read on, of which I will let you guys see for yourself. Clare manages to tie in all the loose ends perfectly at the end and everything makes sense. I can't help but feel that CFA is a lot similar to City of Bones because both books serve as an introduction to the Big Conflict. You're given all these random (not really) daily stuff that the characters go through and you're going to be like "Okay...right. That's cool. So?" for quite a bit before everything falls into place. I really don't get like that with Book 2 and 3 because the Big Conflict is clear. So just a heads up for this one.

One of the main reasons why I love Mortal Instruments so much is because how realistic the logic for the characters are. I think Clare has crafted a well-balanced set of characters who are neither too extreme to the point of being annoying but not too realistically boring.

If you're well versed with YA books (or most novels really), I'm pretty sure you're used to the whole I-have-a-problem-but-I-don't-want-to-tell-you-because-you-might-misunderstand tactic (or even worse, it-slipped-my-mind move) that authors LOVE to use. It's like one of those moments where you're practically screaming at the book and go, "JUST TELL HER DAMN IT!" and the character will only tell after they solve the BIG CONFLICT at the end. And use that as an ending. GAHHH! Fortunately, CFA is not like this at all. In overall, MI pretty much doesnt have this problem. I've always had the fear that Jace, for example will never talk about his problems with Clary but he eventually did. And quite early into the novel too. The timing was just right.

In fact, I'm amazed how the characters are open to discussing their problems with each other. None of them tried to be the hero. I love how they work and solve the problems together, as a team.

Upon completing this book, I can't help but compare Clary and her friends to the Famous Five, if they have supernatural powers and fight demons and more badass-looking I guess.


Alec and Magnus are finally together! And they're soooooo cute! I've always loved reading about them. ALEC+MAGNUS 4 EVA for me!

Luke and Jocelyn are so cute too. That's the thing with the MI series, you will just get obsessed with the characters. They're just so lovable!

Simon+Izzy+Maia+Kyle = ??? (^__~)

Jace and Clary. The main couple. I love their relationship. Aside from the out-of-this-world problems that they have to face, their relationship is the epitome of how all relationships should be. I have so much respect for Clare for not making their relationship so...fickle and overly dramatic. I love how they talk about their problems and just be there for each other. And this respect that they have for this relationship transcends these two people because in return, Clary and Jace would take care of each other's loved ones. For instance, Jace would do anything to help Simon because he knows what a big role Simon plays in Clary's happiness. Despite their jabs at each other, which is super funny I tell you, you can really feel the respect these two guys have for each other. And this aspect comes through very clear in CFA.

And Clary as a person is very admirable. She's just strong (mentally and physically) and I love how Jace allows her to be strong. It's not like he protects her or vice versa, they just work together as a team. Clary doesn't play up to the damsel in distress role and Jace is not some heroic figure. I love this equality aspect and you just don't see it in most novels these days. Especially in YA novels.

Well, there are attempts to make couples' relationships seem equal but no one delivers it as perfect as Clare.

***An excerpt that shows how REAListic their relationship is***

He smiled, the ghost of a smile. "And I've thought the same thing. If you died, I wouldn't want to live. But I wouldn't kill myself, because whatever happens after we die, I want to be with you there. And if I killed myself, I know you'd never talk to me again. In any life. So I'd live, and I'd try to make something out of my life, until I could be with you again..."

***End excerpt***

Romantic and realistic. Sigh. :)

Right, there are so many other aspects of the novel that I would want to discuss with you. But that wouldn't be fair. Might as well I leave you to find out things for yourself and develop your own opinions on the matter. I just focus on the romance aspect because a) i'm a romantic and b) it's just so different. For once YA romance plots are not annoying.

But please don't see Mortal Instruments as a romance-driven plot because it's not. I think it's very rare for authors to strike a perfect balance between action and romance. Clare did it beautifully and I can't wait for the next book to come out.

Thank god for the Infernal Devices series. ;P That's the prequel to the Mortal Instruments and it is only in CFA that the main character from the prequel is mentioned. But alas, I need to take a break from Clare's world for awhile before I turn this blog into a shrine for MI. My obsession for MI has already gone borderline creepy so I need to stop. Sigh.

Rating: 5/5

Yang Safia On Monday, June 13, 2011

Just some random shots of the work. I finally made it to the library. Those who know me know how much iffy I am about studying in the library. I mean, I love the smell of books but it's soooo quiet. I like my music and I tend to do this weird arm dance while I study so how am I supposed to do both in public? But then I realize that it took me one day to finish one article so off I went to the library.

It was surprisingly not bad. In fact, I was so productive I finished everything in four hours. O_O

If you're an English major prospect, one of the things we do is analyse poems. Or in this case, a Patti Smith song.

Alia, my sometime study partner. Only for that first day lah. After that I rather study alone.

One of the best things about studying at the library is people watching. In particular if there's a hot guy near you. I find guys that study are incredibly hot! Haha!

Day 2 @ Library. OMG I was super productive! This small pizza place is where I go get my lunch sometimes. See that? That exam special? One of the best things living in Dunedin is the student discounts. Since it's a student city, everything is just cheaper!


Going through some past year exam papers. Since it was on reserve, I was too lazy and cheap to photocopy it so I took a picture. =_=

Yes, I'm done with Book 2 in one day and I bought Book 3 an hour before I sat for my first exam. Taking my time with the 3rd book, I'm going far too fast but it's sooo GOOD!

Nice day today!

Two down, One more to go! LEGGO!
Yang Safia On Saturday, June 11, 2011
Honestly I didn't even notice the topless guy on the cover. I hate that they have to put a naked guy there just to reel in the girls. The book deserves more respect.

TIP: Just to avoid spoilers, I would suggest that you refrain from reading other books' synopsis at the back until you're done with the book before it. Does that make sense? I hope so...

Finally. Finally I have found the book that got me this excited since...The Hunger Games. Yes, you heard me. Since The Hunger Games. That's why by the end of this review, YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!

By the way since this book is that epic, I will avoid spoilers for this post. Because I don't want to ruin it for you, because it's THAT good.

Book lovers of the YA genre must know about the current literary epidemic that has spread among the YA community lately. The Supernatural craze (aka werewolves/vampires and recently angels) has not left us. Publishers are producing supernatural books just for the sake of their content regardless of their quality. Thus explains why I haven't been reading much. Especially when I've become extra critical of the things I read lately.

Now the mortal instruments series (MIS) is not entirely free from the supernatural because that is still the market's selling point at the moment. But I'm just going to say that MIS deserves to stand on its own as a separate entity because it is THAT AWESOME!

City of Bones is everything that I'm looking for in a YA book right now. It's exciting, fast, adventurous, witty and most of all...unpredictable. People can totally argue with me on the last point but hell, Clare is one helluva writer. Her plot twists are constantly hammering the back of my head since the start of page 5. She leads you on like how a totally hot badass would and screws your head by dropping huge bombshells one after the other. City of Bones made me go WTF! more that the amount of time Stephenie Meyer describes how beautiful Edward Cullen is in Twilight.

The romance in City of Bones is quite minimal but I'm sure it is the ultimate factor that will hold readers till the end of this series (There's going to be 6 books in total). You just need to know who Clary (the main heroine) will end up with because the love plot is super forbidden. Props to Clare for going to extreme with the forbidden card. It's super awesome and it just breaks my heart. If I were to be Clary, I wouldn't know how to choose. Okay lah, I'm treading on thin ice here. I should spare you the spoilers and let you guys see for yourself. I love how Clare made it super vague for us readers to figure out who Clary likes.

Just stating a fact: I'm Team Jace no matter what happens. No matter what happens. *shakes head* :/

As I progressed I noticed how witty the dialogues between the characters are. It's not really obvious in the beginning but as you get to know the characters more it gets pretty clear; they are so witty. Their comebacks at each other are certainly right up my alley. It's pure sarcasm combined a touch of wit. There are some references that nerds such as myself can relate to as well like anime and video games.

An excerpt of the novel to illustrate how witty the dialogue is:

"The 'hey' thing that guys always do. Like when you saw Jace and Alec, you said 'hey,' and they said 'hey' back. What's wrong with hello?"

..."Hello is girly," he informed her. "Real men are terse. Laconic."

"So the manly you are, the less you say?"

"Right." Simon nodded..."That's why when major badasses greet each other in movies, they don't say anything, they just nod. The nod means, "I am a badass, and I recognize that you, too, are a badass," but they dont say anything because they're Wolverine and Magneto and it would mess up their vibe to explain."


If that doesn't make you want to read the book, I don't know what will.

The book is retailed at $22.99 but I got student discount so I got it a bit cheaper. Man, I'm starting to love my University's bookstore. In Malaysia the book should be about RM 57++ but I'm pretty sure there are other versions so prices may vary.

At this point, I'm cutting my weekly budget so I could get all the books tomorrow.

Rating: 5/5

Yang Safia On Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Yesterday, I received a text from Shira at about quarter to midnight. Notice how in the last post I said I missed her?

Well, her text was like the answer to my prayers. She asked me to get on skype but skype proved to be unreliable yet again (seriously, what's up with Skype this year? Their service is so sh*t!) so we got on Oovoo (it worked but seriously, oovoo's layout is soo tacky. Ala... memilih la pulak! :P ).

It was five mins to midnight and when her video pops out, it was dark. I was like, "Shira, turn on the lights la. I cant see you." And then she came out with a cake (turned out later to be a choc souffle) and she sang me happy birthday. Yeah, my reaction was a total WTF and I was busy snapping pictures. SERIOUSLY, TOO AWESOME!!

My virtual attempt to blow out my candle.

Souffle time! Too bad technology cant help us with this one


The truth is, Shira has been MIA for such a long time. Very busy woman this one. She's so busy even Shaza who's in Shah Alam barely sees her. But what to do, that's uni life for you. Especially when you're doing different things. All of us have different commitments but it's really nice when we come together for special moments like this. Usually my family and the girls would call/text me birthday wishes around the same time every year (since school days) so it was like an expected thing. But this year, Shira didnt. And I was worried.

"Hidup ke mak cik ni?" was what I thought.

And then this happened. Her reason for not contacting me was because she wanted to be the last person to wish me at the end of my birthday. Funny girl but that's Shira for you. She always comes up with these random sweet things. I love you mate. Super crazy la you.

God bless technology.


Yang Safia On

I realized that as you get older, the less excited you are about your birthday. Or maybe that's just me who are away from home, away...from sunny Malaysia. Oh dear, I hope this wont be an emo post because the last thing I want to be is sad on my birthday. Besides I have to keep my emotions in check for my upcoming finals thats in...4 days.

Oh God, let's just move on.

Things have been weird for me over the past few days. That's because I've hit rock bottom as an Arts major. Not that I'm failing any of my papers (I'm still in the run for Honours yay!) but I'm completely juiced out. Like no ideas. Nada. Zilch. So you can imagine how screwed I am for finals.

Anyways, I want to jot down the epiphanies that I've gotten over the past 12 hours. It's amazing what sort of thoughts that come to a new 21 year old mind.

a) I'm amazed that I've made it this far. Twenty-one. And I'm amazed that I'm not that excited about it. A bit sad actually.

b)Could I have developed Gerascophobia?

c) I need to stretch more. This scoliosis is killing me.

d) Malaysia is getting whack with all this religiotics stuff. Obedient Wives Club? Seriously?

e) I find RM 20 pricey. o_O

f) Money. I want money. My own money.

g) Okay this sounds a bit noble of me but I've been thinking about what sort of things I would spend on my parents. I'm actually thinking about their portion out of my pay check.

h) Aya admitted that she's emotional. And girlier. Oh geli nya~

i) I've gotten emotionally colder. And more cunning. In fact, I feel like I'm losing my sense of humanity it's scary.

j) I attempted to do a simple quadratic equation and it took me 15 minutes. It was a Form 2 question by the way. Hell, at least it's better than my record in my lecture last time.

k) I get frustrated when I can't sort out my feelings sometimes.

l) I find it harder to be myself when I meet people these days. It's like I lapse into this serious person. It's annoying.

m) I'm highly prone to annoyance these days and patience? Apparently it doesn't
grow with age.

n) I've been reading on anti-ageing. Preventions and the works.

o) Wrong grammar and floosy writing annoy the shit out of me. Ironically, I think I'm a floosy writer.

p) Oh kiasu-ness. I'm so kiasu. So so Kiasu.

q) I miss Shira Saadon.

r) My dad is such a sweetheart. God bless him. I've never met a nicer man.

s) I'm becoming more like my mom day by day. It's kind of...scary. Haha, God bless her.

t) Now, will I make it to 25? I wonder where I am on my 25th...

u) I've been listening to a lot of BEP and Jay-Z lately. RAP IS AMAZING!

v) Doing English screws your head. Majorly. It sucked you dry; leaving you being over-critical and boring. I'm starting to miss ignorance.

w) I don't go out bare faced anymore. This is...good?

According to Shaza I can join the Obedient Wives Club now. And by law, I can vote!

Definite NO to both. XD

Overall I'm thankful for this blessed life. Alhamdulillah. :)