When Michael Met Mina – A Necessary Discussion on Islamophobia and Racism

When Michael Met Mina .png

Publication date : July 28th, 2016goodreads

Publisher : Pan Macmillan Australia

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 354

Synopsis : Before Mina, my life was like a completed jigsaw puzzle but Mina has pushed the puzzle onto the floor. I have to start all over again, figuring out where the pieces go.
When Michael meets Mina, they are at a rally for refugees – standing on opposite sides.
Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre.
Michael’s parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values.
They want to stop the boats.
Mina wants to stop the hate.
When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael’s private school, their lives crash together blindingly.
A novel for anyone who wants to fight for love, and against injustice.
  
(From Goodreads)

Rating: 5 stars

When Michael Met Mina

Content Warning: Islamophobia, racism.

(No Spoilers)

This was hands down the most difficult book I’ve had to read in my life. It’s just too personal and real to be an easy read, it hit too close to home, add that to the fact that I read it during a very difficult week for the muslim community… let’s just say that I was in a rough state. But I loved it, every page of it was amazing and brilliant and so spot on that I couldn’t help nod my head with every relevant phrase, sentence or comment.

The writing is straight to the point, no flowery prose of any sort but at the same time it is very emotionally loaded, it made me feel every struggle the main characters felt, every battle they were fighting, it helped a lot with getting me invested in the story very fast (not like I needed much convincing to begin with). Randa Abdel-Fattah does an amazing job in integrating political discourse into these people’s lives, deconstructing and giving counter-arguments for every islamophobic, racist, anti-refugee argument. And this is very proeminent through the whole book.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting When Michael met Mina to be as confronting as it was, I knew it would be to some extent, because you can’t bring up the refugee crisis without it being that way but this was a lot. It never sugar coated any of the issues, any of the conversations, all of it was blunt and layed for the reader to experience, and to make them think. Which was hard for me to read, and I had to take multiple breaks while reading because I’d be either angry, shaking or crying.

I loved how brilliantly the author tackled Islamophobia as well as racism, not only through lived experiences (re: showing rather than telling) but also through discourse and thoughtful commentary. And she does so with so much care and empathy, I’ve never felt like it was harsher than necessary (because some things are bound to be harsh) or like it was some kind of political agenda, it was just refugees’ lives, things they have to deal with on a daily. It’s nauseating, it’s heartbreaking but I loved how in the middle of it all there’s was hope for better as well as a sense of community and family that is heartwarming.

Some of things that happened in the story (and happen in real life as well as even worse) were gutting, it wasn’t just the loud racist acts, it was also the micro-agressions, the jokes, the pokes and jabs. They really hurt. Some quotes from the book:

Was part of our contract here in this country that we should be walking around depressed and broken? Wearing our trauma on this outside? And what about everybody we’d left dead or living in fear back home? Didn’t we owe them? How could I just lead this ordinary life?

Here’s one from an anti-refugee that made me sick to my stomach, because it’s something I’ve heard many MANY times before, everytime before someone starts nitpicking from my culture and appropriating it:

I celebrate our diversity – so long as people assimilate to our values. I don’t have a problem with different foods and festivals. That enriches our country. But people need to fit in with the majority instead of trying to mark themselves as different.

And this last one is one of the many that made me cheer and clap as well as fall in love with the book even more:

“You want me to make it easier for you to confront privilege because God knows even anti-racism has to be done in a way that makes the majority comfortable?”

I love how through two POVs on opposite side, the author took appart every argument and misconception people have. Some of which are:

  • •”They can’t be racist, they are nice people” because if you’re not on their islamophobic, racist visor, Michael’s parents and entourage could be the sweetest. I loved how that was showcased through their nice interactions with family/friends vs. their borderline vicious (and sometimes straight up vicious) behavior when it came to refugees.
  • Racism comes in different forms. There are the big loud, disgusting acts as well as the casual racism that can seem harmless unless you’re on the receiving end of them.
  • You can’t expect marginalized people to craddle you while you face your privilege. And this is something I see so often that I yelled yes when I read it in the book, because it’s true, refugees (in this case) are going through enough for you to add the weight of your own discomfort to it.

There are so many other issues discussed in this book that this is just a small sampler of what awaits you if you decide to pick it up.

 Mina is such a strong, determined and caring character, she’s the kind of muslim rep (among others) I want more of. An independant, opinionated, brave girl who stands up for what she believes in, for her people and what’s right. I honestly loved seeing her become that girl because at the start of the book, living with *her* people, she was relatively shielded from the racism but onces that shield was off, seeing her bloom into the activist the becomes at the end was beautiful.

But Michael‘s transformation was better to watch because it was different from where I stand (where I stand being next to Mina probably hugging or high-fiving her). A lot of us believe what our parents tell us at that age, and even later in life, not questioning anything unless someone shakes those beliefs to the core (been there, done that) so witnessing his internal debates as well as him uncovering layers upon layers of privilege and using them for good was fantastic albeit not always pleasant to read. He was an example of what lack of education and one sided “opinions” (re: bigotry) can do to a person and how they can be overcome when the person is willing to listen and learn.

I loved how complex the characters were, staying as far away from stereotypes as possible not only with the refugees but with people on the other side of the debate as well. The cast only made the book more powerful. I particularly loved Mina’s family dynamic, with how close and supportive of one another they were. Speaking of characters, I am pretty sure Michael’s brother is written as autistic (even though the word is never used) and I cannot speak for that rep, so if any reviewers with autism have read this book I’d love to hear their thoughts on it.

All in all this was such a brilliant, thought provoking read that I would recommend to anyone, especially if you’re interested in knowing about Islamophobia, racism and microagressions as well as unpacking privilege. Highly highly recommend this one.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read When Michael Met Mina? If so, what did you think?

How did the discourse affect you?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

signature

Advertisements

The Upside of Unrequited – Cutest, most heartfelt story with most relatable MC

The Upside of Unrequited.pngPublication date : April 11th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Balzer+Bray – Harpercollins

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 336

Synopsis : Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
 
(From Goodreads)

Rating: 5 stars

The Upside of Unrequited.png

(No Spoilers)

*awkward silence* I love this book so freaking much that I’m really trying to figure out how to review it without screaming “DROP EVERYTHING AND GO READ IT” until my laptop screen shatters. I’ve been procrastinating this review for a solid month, hoping for my feelings to settle so that I can review it properly, but who am I kidding? I will never get over how incredibly good and validating this book was. Between this one and Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli has become one of my favorite authors, an auto-buy, auto-read and auto-scream about. So without further ado, let’s try and review The Upside of Unrequited.

As in good Becky fashion, the writing is simple and easy to follow while being gorgeous and making me want to quote every single line (I’m not kidding, I have so many quotes highlighted in my ecopy). She has a way of dealing with not so happy topics while still keeping things light and funny. This book made me laugh so much, I honestly started cracking up from the first sentence. I love that first sentence.

The story is so well constructed, not only following Molly’s story and growth but having many side storylines, for her twin sister, her friends, and even her moms which made the story feel more wholesome and realistic than most. I think I’ve said this in my review of Simon vs. but I think that the author writes the best relationships and more particularly, the best family bonds. They’re so genuine and heartwarming and just REAL, so incredibly real, the conversations, the love, the honesty, I just. I love everything about them so much.

So, Molly is my baby that I will protect at all costs, I will fight anyone who means her harm because she’s so precious and close to my heart. I think that if 16 years old me had Molly, she would’ve known that she will be alright and that she is not alone in what she’s feeling. Molly is fat (and no that’s not a bad word, get over it) and just such a funny, caring, and all around awesome character and she’s probably the character I saw most of my teenage self in. She’s such an overthinker (which hi, hello, it’s me!) and that makes her a walking ball of anxiety. Oh speaking of anxiety, I loved how medications was talked about and normalized. I wanted to scream ME with ever one of her struggles, thoughts and victories.

Also, I want to address the fact that Molly WASN’T fixed by the fact that she got a boyfriend, she just found someone who made her happy so it’s only normal for her to be more rainbows and sunshine. Underneath all of that she is still the same Molly, with a lot of character growth, sure, but still Molly. I may or may not have burst into tears at some point while reading the book.

Reid is the goofiest, softest boy. He cares so much about Molly and he just *gets* her. I love how good and comfortable with each other they were while stilll having their adorably awkward moments. I couldn’t help but root for them and swoon over them because THEY ARE ADORABLE. Cassie, Molly’s twin sister is a character I started off liking because their relationship is very realistic but then as she started drifting away from Molly I got annoyed at her BUT THEN I remembered that sisters work like that sometimes and that the blame wasn’t entirely on her so I went back to loving her.

I want to mention the friendships in this as well because they are goals, the girls are there for each other at any time, no matter what. The moms as well, because that couple is so cute and strong and comforting.

I think I will stop here because I’m pretty sure this review doesn’t make sense but if you have to take one message away from this, it’s “READ THE FREAKING BOOK” It’s brilliant, has positive fat and anxiety rep, as well as pansexual rep and a two moms’ wedding. READ IT.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read The Upside of Unrequited? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

signature

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

To all the boys I've loved before.png

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

To All Boys I've loved before.png

(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.

signature

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.

signature

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

Haven.png

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.

signature

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

Written in the Stars.png

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

Written in the Stars.png

Trigger Warning: Rape, physical and emotional abuse, starvation, drugging.

(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.

signature

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

Future Leaders of Nowhere .png

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

Future Leaders of Nowhere.png

*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.

signature

The Melody of You and Me – Two girls. A Bookstore. And Lots of Romance.

The Melody of You and Me.png

Series : Lillac Town #1

Publication date : February 11th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Self-published

Genre : New Adult | Contemporary

Page Count : 144

Synopsis : After dropping out of university and breaking up with her girlfriend of three years, Chris Morrison’s life is now a mind-numbing mess. She doubts that working at the small neighborhood bookstore is going to change that. The rest of her time is spent mostly playing guitar and ignoring the many messages her mother keeps sending her about going back to college.
But one day, an adorable and charming new bookseller waltzes her way into Chris’s life. Josie Navarro is sweet, flirty, and she always has a new book in her hands. The two girls start a fast friendship that, for Chris, holds the promise of something more. But is she reading too much into this or is it possible that Josie feels the same way? (
From Goodreads)

Rating : 4 stars

The Melody of you and me.png

(No Spoilers)

Guys. I’m back on the NA bandwagon and enjoying myself immensely, The Melody of You and Me is one of the reasons why. I. LOVED. IT. As much as the second one in the series -which I read first, silly me- if not more. I promised myself I’d read this soon after the other one and the funny thing is that I started my month with The Paths we Choose and closed it with this one. I also read it at the perfect time, it was my little adorable -and somewhat steamy- escape for a night from the stress that has been my life in april. And I loved it all the more for that.

Since I read the books out of order, I am VERY confused as to what to put in this review (note to self: NEVER DO THAT AGAIN). Anyway, Hollis has a constant writing style that I think I can recognize now that I’ve read both her books, it has something that screams her name which I yet have to identify and it is good, it feels personal and I could feel the main character’s every emotion through it. That being said, it doesn’t mean that her characters’ voices are the same because it’s far from being the case, each one of them has a very different personality.

Chris goes through amazing development and what I loved most about that is that it wasn’t *because* of her newfound relationship with Josie, sure her romance was part of it but not the reason for it. At the beginning, she is lost, unsure of herself, of her life and what she wants to do next and I loved that, because it’s something we all go through at one point or another and the author showed how it is okay to feel that way and to take time to figure out what comes next. Or not at all. She LOVES music but never considered it as a serious career choice because it was such an intimate thing for her. And I sort of get it, even though I don’t play any sort of instrument, music is still a very personal and private part of me.

Josie is SO adorable. She’s so playful and flirty and that was SO GOOD. She made me smile so many times with just how straight forward with her attraction to Chris she is. She’s also a sweet, caring girl and very passionate about her ballet. Listen, I’ve said it times and times before, I love artsy girls, I just do. I liked how coming out was explored through her and how “I’ve always known” although coming from a good place isn’t the right answer because, ya know, a person’s sexuality isn’t written on their forehead.

The romance and I started very rocky just because the initial flirting was a bit rushed and out of the blue for me, so I thought to myself “Please let it be that the rest of it isn’t rushed” and IT WASN’T, the rest of it took the time it needed to develop and feel natural. And like, MUSICIAN MEETS BALLERINA? Can it get any better? No it can’t. Not in my book anyway. They were both passionate about different things but they related to each other in that way. Their relationship is very cute and gentle but also sexy, just saying. I really appreciated how sex positive The Melody of You and Me was (just like the other one). It’s very explicit with sex scenes and also includes masturbation.

The ending gave me the fuzzies because everything wrapped up so very nicely with a happy ending (well no really an ending since we see Chris and Josie in the next book) where everything was resolved including Chris’ relationship with her parents. Now gimme Hope and Karen’s story. Like seriously, I am in desperate need for the third book because the author writes F/F romances soooo freaking well. Read them. Just saying.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read The Melody of You and Me? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

signature

Maha, Ever After – Where Maha finds her Happily Ever After… I think

Maha Ever After.png

Series : The Story of Maha #2

Publication date : September 1st, 2010goodreads

Publisher : Kwela Books

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 286

Synopsis : The sequel to The Story of Maha. A few years wiser, Maha is back – and living in the palatial home of her in-laws, the well-to-do Patels. But is not quite the happily-ever-after she thought it would be, and her husband, Sameer, that very Suitable Boy, seems just a tad too distracted … (From Goodreads)

Rating : 4 stars

Maha Ever After.png

Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse

(Contains spoilers for both books)

What do you do when you forget to mark quotes from a book and don’t realize it until you want to write your review? You smack yourself on the head and use the same quote you used for the first book. But that’s beside the point, which is that I LOVED THIS SO MUCH, more than the first and definitely more than I expected, it’s filled with humour, friendship, love and even heartbreak so I got my fair share of feels just from this one book.

I don’t know why, but when I started this one I had a bit more trouble adjusting to the South -african slangs, I got confused and lost more than I did in the first which to be honest wasn’t a problem for me because at the end of the day, that’s how those people talk and it only adds to the authenticity of the story. Aside from that, the writing is pretty easy to follow and the voice witty and funny.

At first, I was really apprehensive when it came to where Maha, Ever After was headed, Maha wasn’t the same as in the first book, the story didn’t grip my attention and I got too frustrated to properly enjoy the story which made me really scared I’d end up hating this book and I didn’t want to. And I WAS WRONG. Once that first “wtf” part was over and I actually understood where Sumayya was taking Maha’s life, I enjoyed the story line IMMENSELY, I just couldn’t put the book down anymore and laughed at my initial thoughts.

In case you missed my spoiler warning in the beginning. SPOILERS AHEAD. NOW.

So, I was so freaking happy at the end of The Story of Maha, thinking that she finally freed herself and found a man who’s open-minded and loving and all the good things but starting page 1 of Maha, Ever After I WANTED TO CHOKE SAID MAN because Sameer was the typical jerk who starts taking his wife for granted once that honeymoon phase is over, he was so neglectful and basically led his life like the bachelor he was before marrying her and I wanted her to get out of there ESPECIALLY when he cheated on her. But the funny thing is, once they got divorced, I started appreciating him (like is a strong word) because he wasn’t childish about the separation and their interactions remained civil which I didn’t expect from him.

His family though is the worst kind of in-laws anyone could land. In their eyes, the only thing she was good for is cooking, they basically relied on her to do everything and I was like, scuse you, what? They were the main reason I simply couldn’t get into the book for the first 50 pages, they are fresh out of my worst nightmare. The second being Maha herself.

Maha wasn’t Maha in those pages, she was dull, lost all her humour, spark and that intense need to be free and independant, she was a puppet to her in-laws and she didn’t really complain about anything which made me doubt myself, I thought “Is this the Maha I loved and rooted for?” but that first part was SO ESSENTIAL to her growth throughout the book because there came a moment when she Maha got a grip of her life, flipping off her in-laws and saying enough is enough. I LIVED for the changes she made/went through to actually get back to a good place. From seeing a therapist to spending time alone with herself or with her friends, making mistakes etc…I just thought that with everything she went through, how slow and gradual that path was was pretty realistic.

Speaking of friends, I loved how she was still in touch with her childhood friends as well as Zeenat who became her bestfriend, even though I know she already was in the first book but I think that in this one the relationship matured and showed that it’s there to stay because they were as tight as ever even while spending considerably less time together.

Last but not least, my book boyfriend (or shall I say husband ?) Shahzad, I think he’s the one I swooned the most over. Ever. Just because he was the most realistic and attainable to me haha considering the similar upbriging and some events that took place I could easily imagine myself in. He’s such a nice, attentionate, caring lad and I was so glad that things got going between him and Maha, which I PREDICTED and I was honestly so proud of that, because it’s not the most obvious thing but I sensed a kind of tension everytime they were together.

Maha, ever after is more mature and grown-up than The Story of Maha, which is normal but it’s also more about Maha finding herself again whereas in the first she knew very well what she wanted and it was only a matter of how. There were some heartbreaking events, some horrifying ones as well as some light hearted ones, but all in all this one has a more serious tone to it, which I really loved.

I. AM. SO. EXCITED. FOR MAHA 3. Like, I never thought I could be this excited about it but I am, I hope everything goes well for Maha, that she gets a nice fullfilling job and a couple of babies because I care very fervently about her happiness, it’s getting ridiculous. I hope her relationship with Shahzad grows and thrives because if this gets messed up too I WILL throw a fit. I just want a happy ending and I don’t think it’s too much to ask.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Maha, Ever After? If so, what did you think?

Did it live up to the first? What do you think of this turn of events?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

signature

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Adorable boys, long emails and Oreos

Simon vs.png

Publication date : April 7th, 2015goodreads

Publisher : HarperCollins Children’s Books

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 320

Synopsis : Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
 
(From Goodreads)

Rating: 5 stars

Simon vs quote.png

(No Spoilers)

Don’t tell anyone but I might have shed a tear or two by the end of this book because it made me genuinely happy and giddy and just AHH!! All the fuzzy feelings were given to me by all the adorable characters, the adorable events and even more adorable romance. I don’t know what took me so long. To be completely honest, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to read this one until I joined the right crowd on Twitter and EVERYONE was raving about it, a couple of my friends even yelled at me to read it already but what finally made me take the jump -besides my rising excitement- is when my awesome friend Mariam @ Mariammy Books -who has read it multiple times- offered to buddy read it with me.

I was pleasantly surprised with the writing, I didn’t expect it to like it as much as I did, (like everything else in this book, oups). It’s fun and beautiful at the same times, a lot of it is quotable and I’m a sucker for good lines, this got to be one of my favorites:

“The way I feel about him is like a heartbeat — soft and persistent, underlying everything.”

Simon vs. starts directly with the blackmail, it’s literally how we first meet Simon and from then on we get to know and love him, see him handle the blackmail, his crush and life, and sometimes fail at it, which is okay. The story is told in first person from Simon’s perspective and I have to say, he has a very likeable voice, one you get easily attached to, and it isn’t boring nor is it irritating which is really great because we all know how being inside a character’s thoughts can be.

Everyone and their mother knows what the story is by now, but what you don’t know and need to hear is how cute the email exchanges between Simon and Blue are, they’re the cutest things ever, some are deep, some are silly and most are random. The conversation flows very easily, there is no fear of judgement, because none of them know who the other one is. And I think that’s brilliant because by the time they got to meet they already knew each other, they knew things they probably wouldn’t have told each other in the “getting to know each other” stage if it were to happen face to face.

Simon is so freaking precious, he’s a sweet boy and I found it impossible to dislike him or even get annoyed at him which is VERY weird for me because I’m easily annoyed but he just genuinely loves people and taking care of them, HE COULDN’T EVEN HATE HIS BLACKMAILER for 80% of the book. He’s also super funny, the respectful kind of funny if that makes any sense, the kind where he doesn’t need to bring people down or be offensive to make a joke and I really liked that.

Blue is… yeah no, you’re not getting a name hehe, all I can say is that he isn’t anyone you’re expecting, although I must say that at one point I thought to myself what if it’s … and then forgot about it 2 seconds later. Sigh. Which means that the reveal managed to surprise me as much as anyone else. He’s such a soft boy and you all know by now, I have a weak spot for those, I swooned and flailed at how flirty and romantic he could get, how gentle he seemed -from the emails. I was scared when starting the book that it would end and I wouldn’t have had enough Simon and Blue IRL scenes, and even though I don’t think I can ever get enough of them, there were enough scenes to satiate me.

Special mention to Simon’s family and his group of friends. I LIVED for how tight knitted his family was, slightly humiliating, they have traditions, sometimes fight but none of it ever makes you doubt their love for each other. Nick and Abby are adorable and I rooted for them, as for Leah, she’s the badassest (it’s a word now, apparently) and my idol and I feel so blessed that Becky is releasing a book all about her because it’s going to be awesome.

Last but not least, I’M SO FREAKING EXCITED ABOUT THE MOVIE !!!! Y’all can’t even imagine, I need it to be out in the world yesterday. I’m pretty sure I’m going to reread this one many times because it is a very quick, pick me up, happy read and it would lift anyone’s spirits instantly. If you’ve been hesitant to pick it up like yours truly, don’t be!! Just take the plunge.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda? If so, what did you think?

Where you able to guess Blue’s identity?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

signature