To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Where the Sisterhood Filled my Heart with Joy

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Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1

Publication date : April 15th, 2014goodreads

Publisher : Simon & Schuster

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 355

Synopsis : Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her.
They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her, these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control. (From Goodreads)

Rating: 4 stars

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(No Spoilers)

Well, well, well ! Look what we have here. I think this was on my list of series to read in 2016 and I only get to it now. Five months into 2017 (when I read it). And even back then I’ve had this one for a few months and I genuinely do not know why I kept pushing it until now because my excitement to pick it up has been the same, but I guess other book got in the way, huh? Anyway, I’m glad I FINALLY got to it because I absolutely loved it.

The writing is pretty simple and easy to follow, no over flowery prose and not to simplistic either, I thought it fit the narration and Lara Jean’s voice pretty well. There was one thing about it that I didn’t like, and it was really the only thing that was between this book and 5 stars. The problem that I’m talking about is that here and there I would stumble upon an ableist word like crazy or even bipolar and maniac and… that is not okay in any book. I’m hoping and praying for the day where the use of these words would be eradicated from litterature. Please and thank you. There was even this sentence and… yeah not great.

“Anybody with one eye and half a brain could tell what a tool that guy is.”

“Are you saying my sister is blind and brainless?”

Dear authors, please stop doing this. It’ll cost you nothing and it will actually make your books better.

Moving on. The premise is very interesting, and to me, it lived up to my vision of it and more. Wanna know why? Because IT HAS FREAKING FAKE DATING and holy crap, you put those two words together and I come running because that’s one of my favorite romance tropes. Add to that amazing sisterhood (my favorite thing) and I’m head over heels, like really, once things got moving, I couldn’t put the book down unless my eyes shut on me and I ended up sleeping with my phone in hand. It was so entertaining to see Lara Jean trying to untangle herself from the mess she’s made and ending up messing even more. Oh boy, how entertained I was.

Lara Jean was such a sweet quiet girl. Once her older sister left the house she was lost and lonely and just didn’t know what to do so it was nice to see her progressively gain independancy. To be completely honest, we didn’t click from the get go, maybe because she reminded me too much of myself when I was 16? I don’t know. Either way, I ended up really loving her by the time I finished the book.

Again, as I said, the sisterhood was one of the highlights of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, especially between Lara Jean and Kitty, it reminded me so much of my little sister and I a few years back, plus Kitty is a lot like my sister. She’s fierce and sassy and acts like a grow up and all of that was SO adorable about her. And even if we didn’t see much of Margot, the little I got to see I loved, she’s so mature, keeps it together and would do anything for her family. I loved how the book portrayed the relationship between all three of them, it was so authentic to how sister fight and make up.

I was conflicted about Peter, there was this one side of him that was 100% douchy, obnoxious, loves to talk about himself and calls his friends “my boys” BUT there’s this other side that’s the opposite, gentle, corny and funny. I JUST. I have too many confusing feelings, he confuses me. Josh on the other hand I’m very meh about, he’s a nice boy and all but he did some shitty stuff and I’m very annoyed at him. We’ll see if he does better in the sequel.

Seeing how the book ended, it took all the willpower I have for me not to pick up the sequel on the spot. I’m so intrigued and eager to know where things go from there, I really hope they go just the way I suspect. I can’t believe I’ll have to wait some more to pick it up, because because I have a readathon this month (June) so I won’t be getting around to it but AAH. So excited.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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She wore Red Trainers – Realistic “Halal Love Story” but ultimately alienating

She Wore Red Trainers.pngPublication date : June 10th, 2014goodreads

Publisher : Kube Pubishing Ltd

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count : 256

Synopsis : When Ali first meets Amirah, he notices everything about her—her hijab, her long eyelashes and her red trainers—in the time it takes to have one look, before lowering his gaze. And, although Ali is still coming to terms with the loss of his mother and exploring his identity as a Muslim, and although Amirah has sworn never to get married, they can’t stop thinking about each other. Can Ali and Amirah ever have a halal “happily ever after”?

Rating : 3 stars

She wore red trainers(No Spoilers)

This book is probably the oldest book by a Muslim author on my TBR, from the time when I was still very hesitant to pick books with Muslim MCs up… for reasons. So it got burried under a gigantic pile of books and I only remembered about it while trying to figure out my TBR for Ramadan Readathon. And to be honest, it kind of checked a box for one of the reasons I used to stay away from these books quite some time ago, which I’ll be explaining in detail somewhere in this review. That being said, it was still a true to life, enjoyable story.

The writing is simple enough to follow and easy to read which helped a lot with the pacing on the book, one thing that bugged me about it is how much the words “teeth kissing” (??) and “bro” were used, there was too much of them. She Wore Red Trainers is written in dual POV alternating between Ali and Amirah which was good, because even though the two of them don’t interact much, we still got to see what each of them thought of the other, of the few times they met, etc…

There’s one thing I want to address before moving on with the review, it’s about the fact that a lot of people (non-muslim and western in most of the cases) thought the romance unrealistic because the two of them barely talked so “how can they develop feelings for each other?”. The fact that this is different from western cultures and situations doesn’t make it unrealistic, in fact, this is the reality for a lot of Muslims who get married only after a few meeting because that’s just how things are done and most of these marriages work just fine. So please be careful not to label real people’s lives “unrealistic” just because they are different from what you’re used to experiencing.

Moving on. Even though at first glance the story appears to be a romance through and through, it’s so much more than that. It’s also about family and dealing with different traumas and different kinds of grief. I loved the siblinghood from both the MCs sides, they were different and yet similar in a way that they both cared so very deeply for their siblings. I also loved the sense of community, how everyone got together to do something for the youth and to make their summer better.

As for the romance, I really liked how the author managed to keep it interesting even with Amirah and Ali interacting very little with the stolen glances, the misunderstandings and the awkward but adorable little conversations. The ending was so very cute, I loved how the two of them ended up making things work no matter what was thrown their way.

I loved Amirah‘s personality and how ambitious, strong and witty she was, but under all of that she had a lot of deeply rooted secrets and insecurities and I loved seeing her deal with that and ultaimately break free from itAli is such a responsible, funny guy, I loved how he tried to be his family’s rock after his mom’s death even though he struggled a lot on his own. He went through great development, finding himself, what he wants to do and taking a different direction with his life.

All of this being said, there was something deeply wrong with the narration, and this is my opinion and mine only. The way the characters live in this book is very strict and conservative and there’s nothing wrong with that, I actually quite liked getting a perspective that’s different from mine but what really bothered me is that the book seemed to not know there are Muslims who live their Islam in other ways, so it ultimately alienated me because I felt like it was judging my way of practicing my faith to uplift the way the characters practice it. There was use of sentences like “every self-respecting girl would do X”, implied judging of people who don’t wear the hijab, do or don’t do certain things and that made my reading experience uneasy, because as good as the story itself it failed in keeping an open mind to the other types of Muslims who are on a different level of religiosity. 


That’s it until next time.

Did you read She Wore Red Trainers ? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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What Makes People Come Back to a Blog ?

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Hello guys !

So this post was supposed to go up last week but… if you read last week’s tag post, you know why I went -forcefully- off the grid for a few days. That being said, I’m back and trying to speed schedule posts because Eid is at the end of the week and I’m traveling in a couple of days to my aunt’s house.

Anyway, way to get off topic, Fadwa. When I came back from hiatus I found a few comments from new bloggers asking for advice on how to do the whole blogging thing. Flash news: we’re all winging it. Okay no, more seriously, in my year and a half of blogging, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks that I think could be useful to someone out there. This won’t be the only post of this kind but I don’t know at what rate I will be posting them, it will all depend on inspiration (see, winging it!). But I already have a couple up that I think are somewhat useful:

So, now that that’s said, let’s get on with the post at hand. I want to talk about the things that make us not only follow a blog but also stick to it and keep coming back to read the posts that are put out. This won’t be an all inclusive list and some of these might not work for some people (some of them don’t work for me), but all in all, this is what I’ve seen around. So let’s do it !

Back Blog 1

It doesn’t have to be something fancy or complicated, it just needs to be at your image and not too crowded so that people feel comfortable reading your blog (says the girl with the bright pink blog. Le sigh). You can make it as simple or as elaborate as you like but I’d advise starting simple if you’re new to it, just so that you can pick up some skills (which you’re bound to do) and see what you like and don’t like and THEN you can work on making it into what you want it to be. Speaking from experience, wanting to master it all from the first try get VERY frustrating.

Also, don’t be afraid to experiment, switch things around, see what works best for you. Blog designing isn’t an exact science and no one is going to shun you for wanting to play around with your own blog. I know it sounds daunting and that you want to get everything perfect from first try but none of us have, it took me quite a few tries before getting it the way it is now and really loving it and even then, I still make some small changes from time to time.

Back Blog 2

I don’t do memes anymore because most of them don’t fit my posting schedule and I’m not interested in the ones that do. That being said I’m very very grateful for them because they jump started my blog quite a bit, they were the best way to meet other bloggers and interact with them as well as to fill in my blog with post while I was still trying to figure out who I wanted to be as a blogger. You can find a few meme directories in the first post linked above.

As for tags, they serve the same purpose, tho I still do them from time to time, not nearly as often as I used to (again, I started losing interest) but they’re still fun to do from time to time and have saved my butt from not posting more times than one, so they’re definitely a nice tool to have.

I must admit that this is a double edged sword because they tend to get boring and repetitive so if that’s all that’s on the blog, people may get tired of it and… not come back, which is counter-productive.

Back Blog 3

Don’t be afraid to be yourself, “looks” (read: blog design) can only get you so far and if there’s nothing to back them up, so be as loud as you want to be, as sarcastic as you want to be (believe me, I know) or as quiet, as flowery, as intellectual, as *add adjective that fits you* as you want. Most important is that you. be. yourself. Fangirl all you want, rant all you want, scream all you want, all you need to do is show your likes, dislikes and some traites of your personality, you don’t need to overexpose yourself if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.

I find that my favorite blogs are those that give me a sense of the person writing the posts, and when I read them I can feel that there’s someone behind the screen. This is not as hard as it sounds, most of us do it without realizing it.

Back Blog 4

I know that we’re mostly here as reviewers but we all know (and if you’re a newbie, now you will know) they’re the kinds of posts that get the least engagement out of all types and here’s where I give me two cents about it. So try switching it up with other types that make it easier for people to talk to you, maybe some discussions which can range from serious to hilarious, take your pick, or other original content like character interviews that a couple friends of mine do (Ceillie & Sinead) or branching out of books a bit (the Follow Me Through Morocco series I did a while back, which I might pick back up… someday) or other content that I can’t think of right now because I just had a brain fart.

I know that coming up with these kinds of posts at first seems impossible but as you grow more confident in your blog, the ideas just start popping in your brain? I think? Or you can get inspired from other bloggers but definitely don’t copy. That’s a big no no in the community. And just common sense.

Back Blog 5

There’s nothing better than that, because it builds a trust with the reader and they know whatever your post that it *is* your opinion, no one else’s and it wasn’t influenced by anyone or anything. And at the end of the day, if people trust you, they’ll keep coming back to you. Simple math. Also, showing genuine interest in what they think and have to say is important, especially when they comment, I know it’s hard when comments pile up (Lord knows I’ve sucked at it lately) BUT it’s essential that when people take the time to leave a thoughtful comment to answer and show equal interest. This also goes for when they voice concerns about your content (which you can read a more detailed post about here).


That’s it until next time.

What are things that make *you* come back to blogs?What are your favorite kinds of posts?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Lambs can Always Become Lions – The F/F Robin Hood Retelling your life lacks

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Series : Lambs can Always Become Lions #1

Publication date : May 15th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Self-published

Genre : New Adult | Retelling

Page Count : 96

Synopsis : Robin Hood, along with her group of friends, has been aiding the poor of Nottingham for four years. They have become an hindrance to the Sheriff of Nottingham, terrorising the rich lords and ladies and robbing gold right from under the Sheriff’s nose.
Helping Robin from inside, and proving her most useful ally, is Lady Marian Fitzwalter.
After hearing about a special shipment coming through Sherwood – filled with gold, jewels and weapons – Marian agrees to help Robin gather information so she can ambush it. It is risky and dangerous on both sides but Marian would do anything for Robin. And Robin would do anything to feed her people.
But as the shipment draws closer and tensions rise, Robin finds herself having to decide which is more important: love or duty.
(From Goodreads)

Rating : 4.5 stars

Lambs can Always Become Lions.png(No Spoilers)

You know, I think this is one of those books I’ll keep yelling about until the end of time because IT’S SO GOOD. REAL GOOD. I’ve been eyeing it for MONTHS before it came out, the premise had me super excited, I mean who wouldn’t be. A robin hood retelling? An F/F romance? GIMME, and to be completely honest, it didn’t disappoint at all.

The writing has sort of a whimsical vibe to it that I thought fit the time period perfectly and is easy to follow, which with the fact that this is a novella makes Lambs Can Always Become Lions a very fast read. It’s written in dual POV from both Robin and Marian’s perspectives which gives the reader a more wholesome look at thing and works very well with the plot and how the story is weaved, especially since both spend most of their time apart.

The story starts with a steady pace and picks up very fast to leave you gapping at all the events happening in front of you and YOU CAN’T HELP YOUR PRECIOUS BABIES WHO ARE SUFFERING (If you didn’t notice, writing this review rekindles all the feels). I was deceaved, even though I had a clear idea of the main events from the synopsis/the start of the book, I had no idea Charlotte was going to play my feelings like that. For how short it is, LCABL is action packed, it really is, with amazingly well written high stress fight scenes (some of my favorites ever) and I must admit, this book has a bunch of kickass characters to whom I got attached very quickly.

Robin is fierce and sassy with a soft side to her that cares deeply about her friends and Marian. I LOVED HER SO MUCH. She made me laugh more times than I can remember, made me swoon but most importantly got me cheering for her and rooting for her life and safety, which were put in harm’s way one too many times *glares at Charlotte*. To me, she’s one of those characters who are impossible to dislike because of the witts as well as her kindness.

Marian is a lady, and has more to offer than what meets the eye. She’s brave, loyal and resourceful, ready to do whatever it takes for the people she loves. I was invested in her fate as much as I was in Robin’s because both of them are well rounded, genuine characters. And I love love love girls who kiss and save each other. Let me just tell you about their relationship, IT’S THE MOST ADORABLE THING EVER. I knew I’d love this book early on, why? Because where the books starts, Robin and Marian are in an already established relationship and that’s one of my favorite things ever because there’s no newness to it and it’s just 100% sweet tender love. AAAAH. I CAN’T STOP GUSHING!

I really appreciated the fact that Robin’s crew was made diverse. Little John is asexual (the word isn’t used but it’s very heavily hinted), Edda is a black Muslim woman and Will is non-binary. That being said, I wish we had more of them. I think we see them enough to get a sense of who they are but I wanted more of them and I hope that happens in the next installment. I really loved the family vibe their banter gave off and how easy it was to see how much they care about each other.

All in all, this is a book that you should read. YES YOU. GO BUY IT !! It’s fast paced, engaging, and even has its cute times in the midst of all the chaos. So what’s not to love about that? I am REALLY excited for what comes next considering how things were left off at the end and I can’t to see what adventures the characters embark in next.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Lambs can Always Become Lions? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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TAG #35: The Shocker Book Tag

The Shocker

Hello guys !

It’s been SO long since I did a tag *counts* almost 3 MONTHS. And it was a nice break to be quite honest because they were all starting to sound the same to me and I started running out of books at the rate in which I was doing them (Once a week. Yes that’s a lot). I’m back to doing them, although this time I’ll do them once a month or even less than that. It depends.

Also, sorry for the abrupt hiatus this week, I was planning on staying on schedule but our WiFi shut down last Wednesday and the technician didn’t bother showing his face until a week after that (this past Wednesday) after my dad threatened to cancel the contract (which he’s still going to do). Anyway, that’s the story of how I missed two posts this week.

Back to the tag. This time I’m doing the Shocker Book Tag for which I was tagged by Cris @ My Tiny Obsessions. Thanks girl !

Title = Goodreads page.

A BOOK YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO LOVE BUT ENDED UP HATING

benjamin-alire-saenz-the-inexplicable-logic-of-my-life

The Inexplicable Logic of my Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz. I mean, the story itself I liked, but wow, waaay too many issues for me to enjoy it so I actually ended up disliking it a lot because of all the cringing I did and how it infuriated me.

 

A BOOK YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO HATE BUT ENDED UP LOVING

Sabaa Tahir - (#1) An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. I KNOW. I KNOW. Why on earth would I think that? But it just didn’t sounds like the kind of book I’d love but OH BOY I KNEW NOTHING. I just finished this one a couple of days ago and it’s now one of my favorites ever. I’m obsessed, I can’t stop thinking about it and I made a Pinterest board for it. That’s how committed I am.

A BOOK FROM A GENRE OR INCLUDING A TROPE YOU GENERALLY DON’T LIKE THAT YOU LOVED

Whitneey Gardner - You're Welcome Universe.jpg

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner. I generally HATE the betraying bestfriend trope but I loved how it was done in this book because while the MC was betrayed by her so called bestfriend she met someone else and she was awesome. I loved how that situation was used to shed light on toxic friendships.

A COVER THAT TOOK YOUR BREATH AWAY (CAN BE FOR GOOD OR BAD REASONS)A CHARACTER WHO YOU HATED AT FIRST BUT YOU GREW TO LOVE

Stacey Lee - Under a painted Sky

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee. JUST LOOKIT, it’s so stunning and I just can’t stop staring at it. All the colors look so good together and it captures the vibe of the books so well. Okay but the READ. THIS. BOOK. It’s as stunning as the coverand I just… don’t even have words for how beautiful it is. I love it. I love it. I love it. My review will be up soon so keep an eye out if you want more coherent thoughts.

A BOOK WHICH YOU ARE SHOCKED IF ANYONE HATES

Jen Wilde - Queens of Geek

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. I mean I yet have to find a person who hasn’t liked this book BUT if anyone ever hates I wouldn’t understand. For the life of me I can’t see what it is about this book anyone could hate. It’s the fluffiest, most feel good book out there right now.

A BOOK THAT IS SO UNDER-HYPED YOU FEEL LIKE THE ONLY ONE WHO’S READ IT AND YOU WOULD BE SHOCKED IF SOMEONE TOLD YOU THEY HAVE

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Everyone is sleeping on this book so hard you don’t even know what you’re missing. It’s a gem. One of a kind. Brilliant, raw, beautiful, heartbreaking. AND IT NEEDS TO BE MANDATORY READING. I say it everytime I talk about it but you seriously need to pick it up, you wouldn’t know what you’re missing out on until you actually read it.

A BOOK WITH A PLOT TWIST THAT SHOCKED YOU

Julia Ember - The Seafarer(s Kiss

The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember. It’s not a twist as much as it is an unexpected turn of events. Which made me laugh but I ultimately felt bad for laughing because it was a bad situation. It was so so well crafted and just Nothing I could’ve thought would happen in those circumstances.


It’s waaay too late for me to think of anyone to tag right now so if you want to do this, DO IT ❤


That’s it until next time.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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The Rose Society – The Anti-hero turns out of control Villain

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Series: The Young Elites #2

Publication date : October 13th, 2015goodreads

Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Genre : Young Adult | Fantasy

Page Count: 398

Synopsis :Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.
Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.
But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness? (From Goodreads)

Rating: 4 stars

The Rose Society.png

(No Spoilers)

WOWOWOWOW!!! This is probably the darkest book I’ve ever read, it’s mind boggling. Terrifying, horrifying, shudder-inducing and all the other adjectives. My heart was pounding out of my chest the whole time I was reading it and wow, it’s intense, the darkness got suffocating at times and I just had to take a break because it was more than I could handle. I don’t think I can pretend to have a black soul after this (says the girl with the pink bubbly blog. Irony.). I know I said that The Young Elites is dark, but this, THIS is tenfolds that because Adelina is 100% evil, there’s no light whatsoever.

The writing is intricate and consistant, as in it’s the same as in the first book, it packs a punch of emotions and that’s really all I can ask for. The complaint I had last time about the book lacking POVs is completely solved in this one because it 100% focuses on Adelina but still manages to develop the other characters. That being said, I have another complaint (when do I not complain?). Some of the dialogue felt very off to me, a bit too info-dumpey and convenient. For example, a character would be eavesdropping and the right thing would be said at the right moment for them to have all the information they need and that really bugged me. It was just too easy.

The pace picks up very early on in this one, once the introductions to the world are done with in the first book, The Rose society goes straight into the action with lots of killing, stabbing and fighting and my soul loved it (It’s still a bit black, see?), the action scenes are given the attention they deserve, they’re very well written and described, I could easily imagine everything that was happening and there was no confusing anything anymore. I really liked how everything unfolded and how events were put into motion.

There are two things I’ll always love about the characters in this book. First one is how none of them have a “noble cause”. There’s nothing wrong with that, mind you but it’s a nice change and a welcome twist from every other book. They were all after personal gain, something that would benefit them, may it be vanity or vengeance. Second is how their powers have limits AND a cost, that’s all  I’m gonna say, otherwise I’ll be venturing into spoilery territory

Adelina is a piece of work, oh lord. The more she uses her powers, the more she feeds on darkness, the more she becomes dark and the more she looses control over it, it’s a vicious circle. She’s ambitious, determined to get what she wants and is also a villain mastermind, the way she plot her next steps is genius. I loved her or more like, I loved to hate her because she does all the messed up things and you cannot not hate her for them, especially towards the end.

I really liked her sister, Violetta. She’s this calme presence all throughout the book and ground Adelina for most of it. She goes through great developement from this scared little girl to a confident one who know what she wants and what the limits to what she can accept are and isn’t afraid to act on it. Last but not least, Magiano. HE STOLE MY HEART!! He’s such a sneaky, cunning, mischiveous boy but also has a gentle, sweet side to him. Honest to God, he was the only light in the book, on rare (VERY rare) occasions, he brought up this hopeful, good side of Adelina, which she didn’t fail to smother right away but HE DID THAT. And I ship them, even though he deserves better I can’t help it, and I KNOW I shouldn’t because I’m pretty sure my ship will sink but again, I can’t help it.

I think this will be it for my rambling about this book, it was such a good sequel and was far from suffering from Second Book Syndrome which I was scared would happen. BUT I’m really scared to pick up the finale The Midnight Star because I’ve been hearing very mixed things about it, some loved the conclusion, some hated it so I’ll maybe wait a couple of months before picking it up and I’ll go in with low expectations. WE SHALL SEE.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read The Rose Society? If so, what did you think?

What did you think of Adelina’s actions and motives?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Haven – A Brooding Man, a Sarcastic Woman and a Happy me

Haven

Series : Beards and Bondage #1

Publication date : April 25th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Self-published

Genre : New Adult | Romance – Erotica

Page Count : 228

Synopsis : A week-long getaway…

City girl Claudia Cade’s carefree life is plunged into chaos when a camping trip with her brother in the national forests of Northern California turns into a deadly dash for her survival.
A solitary world turned upside down…
Nature photographer Shepard Olsen has resigned himself to a quiet existence, with only his dog by his side, until a woman in need of his protection shows up on his doorstep and throws his universe into disarray.
Two lives linked by tragedy…
Claudia is desperate to heal from her traumatic loss, but can’t stop thinking about her run-in with evil….or the grizzled mountain man whose quick thinking and good aim saved her life. When she shows up on Shep’s doorstep again, she finds she isn’t the only one who can’t move on.
…saved by bliss.
The two begin an intense, passionate relationship of Dominance and submission, pleasure and pain, but with dark memories haunting them and decisions about the future rapidly approaching, Claudia can’t help but wonder…how long can they be each other’s haven?

Rating : 4.5 stars

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Content Warning; Assault and Murder (at the very beginning)

*I got a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

(No Spoilers)

OH. WOW. I’ve seen a few of my friends over on twitter talking about how good this book is and I thought “I’ll add it to the TBR and maybe get to it one day” but THEN, I was told that it was on Netgalley and literally run to get it and I SO DON’T REGRET THAT DECISION because it’s just so good, it has all the element a good smut book needs and then some, I think I’ve said this in EVERY New Adult book review I’ve written but I am SO glad to be back on this horse, I don’t even know why I stopped reading them in the first place *cough* same characters *cough* same things happening *cough* boring, but the ones I’ve picked up lately are truely a blessing.

Back to the book at hand. The writing is blunt and straight forward, the sex scenes are far from being sugar coated, it’s very graphic. The author isn’t afraid of using the words as they are and I really appreciated that. You know me by now, I like my flowery writing BUT I only do when it’s needed, which wasn’t the case here, it wouldn’t have made sense with the content of the book, so the writing style is exactly what’s needed.

I loved how Haven starts, it throws you right into a very fast paced action scene that gets your heart rate going. And no, NOT the sexy kind of action, I’m talking more of a being chased by a murderer kind of action. And even after that, the story takes its time to show the two characters coping on their own before bringing them together and giving us all the smut we need in our lives.

Listen, you’re not ready for how sex positive this book is. I know I wasn’t. I’ve read my fair share of BDSM books where I cringed and felt uncomfortable because of how unhealthy the dominant/submissive relationship was *cough* 50 shades of cringe *cough*. The consent lines are blurred, the rules aren’t set and it’s just a very harmful depiction all around. And BLESS, that wasn’t the case here, there are on page conversations where Shep who is old to the lifestyle explains in full detail what’s done and what isn’t and asks Claudia if she was comfortable with it all.

AND THE SWEET SWEET ROMANCE. Excuse me if I’m enthusiastic about this book to the point of throwing all caps here and there but it’s just such a well balanced story, hot sex on one side and swoon worthy love on the other. Their chemistry is so palpable, and their banter AMAZING, it just flows naturally with teasy back and forths, serious conversations where they help each other cope with what they went through, literal netflix and chill nights and so on. I honestly loved how domestic and cozy the non-sex scenes were, with lots of cooking, spooning, watching The Originals and other things that don’t involve leaving the house. I’m all for that. I laughed, I swooned  and I was close to sheding tears towards the end.

That being said, I wanted MORE of this, of the banter, and simple things, I wouldn’t say they were overpowered by the sex but it was very close. I’m greedy like that, I loved them so much together that I wanted more.

Shep is a brooding, cranky mountain man but at the same time such a soft bear, he made my heart so mushy. When not in his dominant “persona”, he was a gentle, caring and a very attentionate person who was set on taking care of Claudia and genuinely loved doing that, he knew not to overstep, he knew when no meant no and didn’t press. He also tried his best to help Claudia grief and heal BUT he was fully aware that he wasn’t the answer to all her problems.

Claudia is literal goals. She’s an ambitous black woman who knows what she wants, how she wants it and stat. She has ambitions for her career that she didn’t throw away for a relationship. She’s such a strong woman that I lowkey look up to, she is honest, snarky and just the best, okay? I LOVED how confident she is about her sexuality, again, she knows what she likes, makes it known and is super comfortable in her body. I loved how the PTSD was delt with, it wasn’t brushed aside, you could clearly see that she was struggling and bonus point for her having to go to more than one therapist to find the right one for her.

I wanted to mention a few secondary characters as well, like May Bell and Jad, the old neighbors who basically adopted Shep and were like family to him, checking up on him and worrying about him. Liz, Claudia’s bestfriend is a true gem, I loved how positive their friendship was, she’s a keeper.

I was genuinely sad when I finished the book because I didn’t want it to end, I loved the characters and their story so much that I wanted more, I still do. My hopes and dreams are that the second book in the series will be about Liz and that we’ll get glimpses of Claudia and Shep through that. A girl can dream, right?


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Haven? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Written in the Stars – Heartbreaking, Realistic and so damn Brilliant

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Publication date : March 24th, 2015goodreads

Publisher : Nancy Paulsen Books

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count : 277

Synopsis : This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?
Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.
  .
(From Goodreads)

Rating : 5 stars

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Trigger Warning: Rape

(No Spoilers)

Oh boy, I don’t know where to begin with this review. This book touched me in such deep ways that I have no clue how to put those feelings into words but I’m going to trying my hardest because I adored it and I need everyone I know, their mother, thei neighbor and their neighbor’s dog to read it. I’m even mad at myself because I’ve had it for MONTHS but for some reason haven’t picked it up, I’m grateful to Ramadan Readathon for making me pick it up though.

The writing is so simple and easy to follow that at first I thought it was too simplistic, but as I read along I realized that the book wouldn’t have worked with more intricate writing, the themes are too heavy for that. I also noticed that as the story progressed and as things got worse and the MC got more desperate and hopeless, the writing became urgent and in a horrible way, beautiful. I loved the descriptions of places, food and people, they were really vivid and animated, they made everything more tangible.

Written in the Stars isn’t a happy story, it isn’t your cute arranged marriage working out at the end. It starts off light hearted and what not but once it hits the halfway point (give or take) it becomes a nightmare, something so intense and terrifying that no one would ever want to go through. This is parents starting off as wanting to keep their honor (which is very common in non-western cultures) but who end up being deceitful, and manipulative and tricking their daughter into a marriage she never wanted and not taking no for an answer. I shudder just thinking about it and thinking about girls going through it in real life, because this is more than a book, it’s the story of hundreds of girls around the world.

This book hit me harder than I ever expected, because truth is I didn’t expect it to be as true to reality as it was. I felt trapped, and frustrated because the situation was so bad and I just read about it helplessly because everything Naila went through was horrifying. Even with the themes being so heartbreakingly realistic, I loved the way the author wrapped up the story with a hopeful, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel kind of ending.

Naila is such a strong, resilient character. I really, genuinely loved her and as much as I hated how much her traumatic experiences changed her, it was just what the book needed to stay true to reality (I feel like I said that a lot). At the start she was this girl who’s full of joy and who cares about the little things in life to become brutally mature. What I loved most of all is that through it all, she never lost hope in finding away out of her misery.

All the side characters felt entirely like real people. There was depth and thought put into each and every one of them and that mission was a success. One thing I have a deep appreciation for and that made me fall in love with the book even more is how nothing was sugar coated, the author depicted things as they are, as people go through them.

I know this may come as a cultural shock to people who have never been exposed to arranged marriages, but they usually aren’t forced -I feel like this needs to be specified- the two have to agree to being set up, so what’s in this book is an extreme that no one wants to ever be in. And I love how in the author’s note, Aisha reminded people of that, herself being in a happy arranged marriage. It was a nice touch to remind people that arranged =/= forced.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Written in the Stars? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Do Reviewers have a responsibility towards readers?

Responsibility

Hello Guys !

It’s been SO long since I wrote a discussion post that I’m not sure I know how to navigate them anymore. I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING. That being said, I’ve been meaning to talk about this particular topic since before I went on a hiatus so here goes nothing.

Over the past few months (year-ish?) and the rise of diverse books (it’s really just a tiny rise to be honest, we NEED more of them, so so much more), we started getting the representation we deserve to see and with that we started seeing how flawed and problematic some books we cherished for very long, as well as books who are still coming out, are so we naturally started calling them out and as reviewers, I think that’s the right thing to do (my post about problematic content). And that’s when I realized that having a platform comes with certain responsibilities. And that I needed to move my bum and live up to that, or at least, try my damn hardest to do so.

I want to say that THIS is my own opinion and if you don’t agree with it, don’t bite my head off for it. I feel like this is what I need to do with my blog and if the way you see things is different, you do you and I do me and let’s let each other be happy with what we’re doing.

That being out of the way, here’s what I think comes with having a voice in the community. I’m not saying I’m influencial, but if a review of mine helps one person, I call that a success. I also want to add that this won’t be about writing style, plotting or characterization as it seems that no one has trouble pointing out when those are not so great. Without further rambling, here are the respoinsibilities I feel like I have:

Responsibility 1

Yes this is a no brainer but I feel like sometimes we’re biased. I’ve been guilty of it, multiple times. But we need to do better. I don’t think my favorite author is exempt from criticism, I don’t think my favorite series is, I don’t believe anyone or anything is. If they mess up, you bet I need and will say it in a review. Does that mean I need to hate it now? NO. We all have those books we’re emotionally attached to for one reason or another BUT that doesn’t mean we’re allowed to pretend the issues don’t exist. Because they do. And people can be potentially hurt by them. So I’d rather feel a bit uncomfortable because my favorite isn’t perfect than sit around and watch people who trust my opinion get hurt. That happened to me before. And I felt betrayed.

I know, we’ve all as reviewers, started this journey for ourselves. Or at least, I did. My bio (which is from over a year ago) says it, I wrote that reviewing the books I read “will primarily be to record my thoughts and be able to come back to them whenever I want to” and although this may be true, my priorities have shifted, yes I record my thoughts, and yes they are *my* thoughts so I can come back to them whenever. but as my following grows (which I’m super happy about sobs) and people add books to their TBRS and pick books up because I’ve read and loved them (this legit makes my day and I’m super humbled by it), I realized that it wasn’t just for me anymore and if people actually care about what I have to say, I should care about whether or not a book does them justice.

Responsibility 2

We’re humans, we’re not perfect, we make mistakes. We’re also not part of every group of people that exists, which means that we’re bound to miss things that to us seem “normal” but that might be offensive to the people it actually is about. So that’s when listening comes in. If a person approaches you about one of your glowing reviews telling you that the book isn’t so glowing don’t be offended, it’s not about you, it’s about them, and about the book hurting them.

So listen to what they have to say, no “but I didn’t read it like”, no “but my friend is X so I know what I’m talking about” because that just doesn’t make sense. *You* as a person who isn’t part of a marginalized group can’t know better than a person who is part of it. Real life experiences >>> Text book definitions. Also, there is no such thing as an opinion when it comes to problematic content, because it’s based on facts. You wouldn’t say “well, in my opinion the earth is flat” so you can’t say “I don’t think this is racist” when you’ve never been subject to racism

There’s also the fact that people of a certain group are not a monolith so again, if someone from said group calls out a book don’t reply with “but I know this person who’s also of the same marginalization who’s read it and didn’t think it was problematic” because we all experience things in different ways so we don’t have a right to invalidate someone’s feelings with someone else’s, they’re both valid and should both be acknowledge in your review.

What I do when I realize I messed up and missed a book’s issue is that I go back to my review, change my rating if I feel like the rating isn’t accurate anymore and add an edit at the top with the date and the issue that was brought to my attention and what’s more important is to link to an #ownvoices review written by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about because no matter how extensive my explanation is, it cannot be as accurate as that person’s.

Responsibility 3

I’m a firm believer of messing up. We are allowed to miss problematic content, we aren’t born with the necessary baggage to spot all that’s hurtful and offensive, privilege as well as not being exposed to said marginalization shields us from it. But I also believe you need to learn from it and not makes the same mistake twice, it is your responsibility to do better for the readers who trust you because otherwise it’s safe and honest to say that you could lose credibility with them. If they keep getting hurt by books *you* recommend, they have a right to protect themselves and stop listening to you. Just like you have a right to do the same if someone keeps ignoring your feelings.

I know there are people I trust a lot and other I trust less, several I had to unfollow just because I just didn’t like the way they handled problematic content. So if a person I really do trust tells me X book could hurt you, maybe it’s better for you to skip it, I do and will more often than not. I don’t want “to form my own opinion” at the expanse of mental exhaustion, it’s just not worth my time and energy.

As much as this is a hobby -and yes at the end of the day, I don’t get a cent from it so it *is* a hobby- I think, us reviewers, have a responsibility, a responsibility to protect marginalized readers, especially teen readers from unnecessary hurt. I’d like to believe that they read my reviews because they trust me and I’d like to keep it that way. You may think what I’m saying is too “over the top” or that I should “just chill” because “books are just books” but we all know they’re more than that to people who are as passionate about them as we are.

So if you review books, please read critically as much as you read for enjoyement. Yes, smile, laugh, cry with the book but don’t forget that there will probably be a person who’ll pick it up because of you so, please, make sure it’s safe for them to read.


That’s it until next time.

What do you think a reviewer’s responsibility is? Do you think we should be careful when reviewing and recommending books?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Future Leaders of Nowhere – Romance and Competition in the Middle of Nowhere

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Series : Future Leaders of Nowhere #1

Publication date : March 15th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Ylva Publishing

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count : 270

Synopsis : “Finn’s solid. Not in body, but in being. She’s gravity and kindness and all those good things that anchor.”
“Willa’s confusing. Sometimes she’s this sweet, sensitive soul. Other times she’s like a flaming arrow you hope isn’t coming for you.”
Finn and Willa have been picked as team leaders in the future leader camp game. The usually confident Finn doesn’t know what’s throwing her more, the fact she’s leading a team of highly unenthusiastic overachievers or coming up against fierce, competitive Willa. And Willa doesn’t know which is harder, leaving her responsibilities behind to pursue her goals or opening up to someone.
Soon they both realise that the hardest thing of all is balancing their clashing ideals with their unexpected connection. And finding a way to win, of course.
(From Goodreads)

Rating : 3 stars

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*I was provided an eArc of this book by the publishers in exchange of an honest review*

(No Spoilers)

When I first got approached to review this book, I got so darn excited because 1) F/F romance and 2) in a leaders camp which promises lots of competition and drama and what not. And it did live up to that in a sort, for me the book checked both those boxes perfectly BUT I still had a few issues with it and was although I did enjoy it, I was overall disappointed, but not because of the story itself. So read the rest of the review to know how and why.

The writing is easy enough to follow and the chapters are very short and fast paced but I had a problem for half of it. When it’s from Finn’s POV, the 3rd person use didn’t work, it felt unpersonal an detached, I sometimes got confused as to who the “she” reffered to. Which is weird because once that switched to Willa’s POV the problem was resolved, her part was just so well written, raw and beautiful, I really loved it, I could feel her emotions through the way they were narrated, which wasn’t the case for Finn’s part.

One other problem I had with the writing is that it had a lot of ableist langage, I know it’s normalized in books and in life (which shouldn’t be the case) but for one I have no patience for it and two, it was in every other page so at some point I was just too annoyed. Dumb, stupid and idiot were EVERYWHERE and that can be so easily taken out of the text and it would change nothing about it. It would’ve changed my reading experience though, it would’ve made it much better. Also, there was this sentence that made me cringe, at one point a character says to Willa:

 “But, you know, it is nice to know that you’re human. And that you have good taste. That Finn’s a cutie.”

and… this is not okay, as if not being attracted to anyone makes people less human, and it is hurtful to people on the ace/aro spectrum. Again, it could’ve been avoided easily without changing anything to the story.

The story starts from Finn‘s POV, on the way to the camp where she feels unsure of herself, like she lost herself, that little spark that made her her and what not and seeing her snap out of that and go back to herself was really impressive. She’s a kind-hearted, smart and resourceful person, and I loved how she had values and principles and she didn’t let anyone make her waver from them. I really admired that. Willa is the kind of person who’s got all kinds of doubts and uncertainties but to people seems confident and like she has it all together, I loved how kick-ass she was and didn’t take shit from anybody. She stood up for herself and others.

Their romance was so freaking adorable!! I loved how the girls took it slow and spent their time together just together, doing nothing but being with each other. Their was this sweet innocence to their relationship with cute soft kisses, light touchs and I LIVED FOR THAT. The dual POV had an added value in this case because I could see what they both saw in each other that other people didn’t.

I liked the leaders’ competition aspect of the story and the way it wasn’t side tracked by the romance. It was lots of ploting and strategy and I love that sort of things.There’s a thing bugged me though, it’s that there seemed to be some things that were mentionned at some point but never after, like for example, Willa’s team won some kind of advantage from a competition they had which she could use to ask for anything she wants but we somehow never know what she did with it and what’s more than that is that it was as if it never existed, nothing was added to the team and that was a shame.

All in all, I really liked the content as you can see but had a problem mainly with the writing so that was a bit of a let down. That being said, I will pick up the sequel once it’s out (sometime at the end of the year) to see where the story takes Finn and Willa because despite everything, I really got attached to them.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Future Leaders of Nowhere? If so, what did you think?

Which POV did you like best?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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