Things I should Have Known – Sibling Love and a Romance that didn’t win me over

Things I should have known.png

Publication date : March 28, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 320

Synopsis : From the author of Epic Fail comes the story of Chloe Mitchell, a Los Angeles girl on a quest to find love for her autistic sister, Ivy. Ethan, from Ivy’s class, seems like the perfect match. It’s unfortunate that his older brother, David, is one of Chloe’s least favorite people, but Chloe can deal, especially when she realizes that David is just as devoted to Ethan as she is to Ivy.
Uncommonly honest and refreshingly funny, this is a story about sisterhood, autism, and first love. Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan, who form a quirky and lovable circle, will steal readers’ hearts and remind us all that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal. (From Goodreads)

Rating: 3 stars

Things I should have known - quote

*I received an Arc of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

Trigger Warning: Fat Shaming

(No Spoilers)

Not gonna lie, I requested this book a hundred months ago -exaggerating but you know- and I kept pushing reading it until the last minute humanly possible to be able to write the review on time. Why? Because I was dreading the Autistic representation and how it will be handled, especially from a sibling’s point of view because my past experiences with this kind of scenario are bad. Anyway, even though it is good overall, I still had some problems with it, most of which have nothing to do with the representation.

My first and biggest problem with this book was the writing, definitely not the kind I enjoy. Even though I eventually got used to it as the story progressed I didn’t like it, it was too conversational and I thought it lacked that little something that can set it apart. It read kind of juvenile. I know this is a YA, I read my fair share of it -just look at all my reviews- but this has nothing to do with the narrator’s voice, it’s more of a writing style thing. I don’t know how to explain it better than that. I also picked up on a few ableist words and phrases like “nuts”, “a tiny edge of hysteria”, etc…

The story in itself is very heartwarming, honest and felt authentic. I can’t speak for actual human experiences but from what I studied, the Autism representation is true to *some* people on the spectrum. As with most mental illnesses, it isn’t something set in stone, different people experience it differently and I thought that was well expressed through Ivy and Ethan, who are similar in some ways but very different in others. Although my favorite thing about it is the unconditional sibling love. Both between Ivy and Chloe as well as Ethan and David.

Since the book is from Chloe’s POV, that relationship takes front stage and I loved it. Their love for each other is so raw and real, they both were there for each other no matter what. It was also realistic because they still got frustrated and mad at each other. For all the standing up Chloe did for Ivy, she went completely silence when her bestfriend and boyfriend said offensive things and that’s what annoyed me the most. She was rioting in her head but never said anything so that “She’s not that girl” to ruin the fun and all that. That and the fact that she tried to make Ivy something she’s not (which was called out eventually). That kind of dampened my liking of her for all the good things she is/does.

Ivy is such a sweet girl, she not only is a shy quiet girl but she’s also strong af, she stands up for people she cares about even when everything inside of her tells her not to. Ethan on the other hand is very talkative, especially about movies, he loves them and can go on about them forever. He’s also such a cute romantic boy and I was really sad when Ivy didn’t return his feelings (she’s gay so ya know… she can’t).

David is something, oh yes he is. A very frustrating something. He was arrogant and rude to everyone with no obvious reason whatsoever. And although I appreciated that not being explained by some kind of tragic deep reason, it felt completely unnecessary. I loved who he was around Chloe and the friendship they built was really cute, it was leading up to a romance that everyone seems coming but that… falls flat. I was disappointed because I kept waiting for it but when it finally happened, it was anticlimactic because one second Chloe didn’t even think about him that way and the next thing you know she was confessing her crush to him and I was just ??? Even though I saw it coming, it still felt rushed and out of the blue. I make total sense, thanks.

The girls’ mom is another big turn off for me, she was so passive and NEVER stood up for her daughters when her husband -their stepfather- was a douchbag to them, she just sat there and sometimes even defended him *sigh*. Their stepfather. That man is a piece of work, he’s the reason I put a trigger warning to begin with because every time he opens his mouth to talk to Ivy, he’s talking about her weight, what she eats, how she doesn’t exercise, etc…

To sum it up, this book is cute, the sibling love is REAL, and it does a good job at pointing out harmful comments through Chloe’s thoughts, even though that sometimes doesn’t show through her actions. I think I would’ve loved it if the romance was developed better and Chloe had stopped caring about “being that girl” earlier in the book.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Things I should have Known? If so, what did you think?

If you know of any #Ownvoices reviews for this book, tell me so I can link them.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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TAG #34: The Anonymous Bookaholics

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Hello guys !

Another week has gone by which means it’s time for a new tag. Today I’m choosing to do the Anonymous Bookaholics book tag because I finally made my peace with the fact that I, indeed, am a bookaholic -I’ve always been good with that, this is for dramatic effect only. I was tagged by my lovely best friend Sara @ Freadom Library because she apparently wants me to confess some things. I have nothing to hide *gulps*. Aaaanyway, let’s get this interrogatory over with.

What do you like about buying new books?

Mmm, having material to read? What kind of silly question is this? But seriously, just the thrill of holding a new book, the smell of it is super awesome especially to me, because I rarely get to buy physical books. It’s a very special feeling.

How often do you buy new books?

I don’t know? every month? Although I haven’t bought any this month because I’ve been reading a lot of arcs I was anticipating so that kind of got my urge to buy books under control. Other than that, I get a few e-books a month, I keep an eye out for deals so that I can actually afford more than one book a month -when I want to buy more than one. I am pretty good with buying books actually, I never go overboard.

Bookstore or online book shopping – Which do you prefer?

Bookstores for sure. But since my options there are pretty limited, I resort to online shopping which has more options but is also more expensive. SO. They kind of even out a bit.

Do you have a favorite bookshop?

I don’t even have bookstores to choose from *shrugs*. The struggles of living in a third world country where English isn’t a widely spoken language. There’s a little independent bookstore deep in the city, which I talk about here, but I don’t go there as much as I would like to since it’s pretty far away from where I live and I’m a lazy potato so I never feel like driving that far. I’m also broke. So yeah haha!

Do you pre-order books?

Actually, the first and only time I EVER preordered books is last month when I preordered both History is All you Left me and A Conjuring of Light. I already have the first (which I’m buddy-reading next week) but still waiting for my copy of the later to come. And My patience is running out.

Do you have a monthly book buying limit?

Naaah, as I said, I don’t go overboard with buying books, I mostly stick to deals and the ones I want too desperately to actually wait for deals on them haha. So, yeah I don’t have a limit.

Book buying bans – Are they something for you?

Refer to my last answer. Although if I actually had the funds to buy a lot of books I’d need one because nothing would be able to hold me back. *stares dreamily into the distance*

How big is your wishlist?

HAHAHAHAHA. That’s a funny question. You don’t want to know, because it’s ridiculously enormous. Especially with all the amazing diverse (especially #ownvoices) books coming out this year. It’s unmanageable, it will eat me up alive. It will stomp me. SEND HELP.

Which three books from your wishlist do you wish to own NOW?

Only three? sigh. These three books are definitely the top 3, 2017 releases that aren’t out yet and that I’m in desperate need to read.

Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali – JUST LOOK AT THAT GORGEOUS COVER. And the MC is a Muslim and Arab-Indian. And I am two of those things which makes me freaking extatic to read it.

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore – Because duh? Everything that woman produces is pure magic, may it even be a fridge notice. She’s one of my favorite authors, and I can’t wait to read this mesmerizing new story of here.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton – Go read the synopsis and come back, if you’re not dying to read it too, what is wrong with you? Okay, I’m just kidding but the premise sounds brilliant.


I Tag:


That’s it until next time.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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How to Make your Redesign Go Smoothly

blog-talk

Hello guys !

If you’ve been following me for more than three months you know that what my blog is wearing right now is fairly new. While I was working on it, I picked up quite a few tips that were really helpful and made it easier and less stressful for me. So when I got a few questions on my announcement I decided that this was a post that I eventually was going to write. I meant to write it in the month after my redesign, but… other posts got in the way -posts I’m really proud of, just so you know, hehe- and I kept forgetting that this is something I was planning on doing. But fret not, here I am to guide you through your redesign. Or at least, to give you one or two helpful tips.

God knows how stressful changing your entire blog’s look can be. When do I do it? What sources should I use? What layout? What color scheme? How do I go about it? Add to that the fear of messing up a theme that’s been working for so long, most of us shy away from doing anything different. I know I did. The one I had before didn’t really reflect me, it was just something I did to get my blog going and as I learnt new things, I started hating it and even then, I was afraid to change it because I didn’t want it to end up looking worse. But, once I figured some things out, it took a lot of the stress and pressure out of it.

1

You know as well as I do that rushed, sloppy work is 90% of the time mediocre. If you give yourself a very short time frame to redesign your whole blog, from A to Z, chances are you’ll get frustrated and won’t be satisfied with the outcome and you’ll have to go back multiple times to fix what you don’t like and what doesn’t work which will take all the fun out of it, it’ll end being a hassle and you’ll hate the new design before you even start using it. This goes hand in hand with doing it when you have plenty of free time. Don’t be like me, don’t do it while you’re preparing for the end of semester exams. I did that, and that added useless stress to days that were already FILLED with it. 100% would not recommend.

2

This is probably the biggest one. Make a blog for which the URL would be testyourblogsname.wordpress.com or whatever platform you’re using and make sure to put it on private. You don’t want anyone stumbling upon the ridiculousness that those tests can be sometimes. Anyway, once this idea dawned on me, everything was WAY easier and less stressful because I wasn’t playing around with my actual blog so mistakes didn’t have any impact and I didn’t have to rush and fix them. You can really focus on seeing what works and what doesn’t and take your time to change it. No one will see it. You can also keep it afterwards to see whether posts work with your theme or not.

3

What I mean by this is find ONE (1) thing that you love and want to build your blog around, this way you can really focus on it. If you have one too many things, matching them can be forced, if not impossible because a background won’t work for a theme, a layout won’t support some graphics etc… So, is it a background? A layout? A certain type of graphics? Choose one of these that you really love and build the rest around it, you’ll actually enjoy doing that and playing around with colors, fonts and whatnot. I promise. My starting point was -obviously- the background because I fell in love with it and couldn’t NOT use it.

4

It’s good to be ambitious and have a pretty good idea of what you want your blog to look like but… if that goes beyond your coding and graphic making skills? You’re set for disappointment. I know 0 things about coding and like 2% of things about graphic making (courtesy of canva) so I kept everything pretty simple and all things around this page are easy to make. But if you actually know what you’re doing, PLEASE GO ALL OUT, I love to look at pretty blogs, and be mesmerized by how the bloggers actually do that, because it’s something I can’t do.

5

What I mean here is fonts, color scheme, formatting, etc… I’m not saying that if you don’t do this your blog won’t look good, I know a lot of blogs that don’t do it and are still gorgeous. This is not a matter of how the blog looks, as the title says it, it’s matter of making things easier for you. By using a couple of fonts and a set color scheme, you’ll save time whenever you have to write a post because you won’t lose any trying to decide which ones to use, you’ll be all set to work on the content. Plus, your blog will have a kind of signature look that people will recognize. It’ll help you build a brand too, if you decide on keeping that theme for a long time.

6

I remember distinctly being VERY nervous about people seeing my new design and thinking it’s too bright and doesn’t look good, or that it’s not “professional” enough (news flash, I don’t get paid for this, it doesn’t have to look professional). And that’s normal. Because you want people to keep reading your posts and for that to happen they need to like it BUT that can’t put you off making you design into something YOU love, something that represents YOU. If people can match your vibe with your blog’s look, they’ll like it and they’ll keep coming back for more.


That’s it until next time.

Have you ever done a complete redesign? What are some tips and tricks you think are important?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems – Where a Muslim Amateur Detective saves the Day

ishara-deen

Publication date : January 15th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Deeya Publishing Inc.

Genre : Young Adult | Mystery

Page Count: 236

Synopsis : LIKE NANCY DREW, BUT NOT…
Craving a taste of teenage life, Asiya Haque defies her parents to go for a walk (really, it was just a walk!) in the woods with Michael, her kind-of-friend/crush/the guy with the sweetest smile she’s ever seen. Her tiny transgression goes completely off track when they stumble on a dead body. Michael covers for Asiya, then goes missing himself.
Despite what the police say, Asiya is almost sure Michael is innocent. But how will she, the sheltered girl with the strictest parents ever, prove anything? With Michael gone, a rabid police officer in desperate need of some sensitivity training, and the murderer out there, how much will Asiya risk to do what she believes is right?

Rating: 4 stars

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*I received an Arc of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

(No Spoilers)

Before I dive into the review, I need to get this out of the way. For me, this book took “seeing yourself in a book” to a whole other level, a very literal one, because the girl on the cover looks almost exactly like me. It’s creepy you guys haha, she’s even dressed like I used to when I was in high school. Joke aside, this was such an awesome book, with very personal, relatable moments, some of which I never experienced and never thought I could experience one day. The dedication says it all: “For all the girls who were never told someone like them could, not even in books”. And I’m happy that little Muslim girls now have this book.

Moving on. Ishara‘s writing is witty, funny and pulled me in immediately. She was able to portray the authentic voice of a Muslim girl who’s trying to find the perfect balance between living under her parents’ very conservative roof and doing things that make her happy, having a crush, helping him find his biological parents AND helping free and innocent man. It’s safe to say that the girl had a busy schedule. She took a trope that was overused and all of us Muslim girls are tired off and turned it around to have Asiya save the non-Muslim boy and not the other way around. My insides were squealing of joy.

I absolutely ADORED the mystery in this book, I wasn’t able to determine who the killer really was and even when they were revealed, I was like “scuse you, what?” but it was brilliant and made perfect sense. And that’s how I love my mysteries, to be unpredictable but most of all to make me think that I had it all figured out when I didn’t. I think that how everything was linked and the different characters connected was really clever.

Asiya is honestly everything I want to see in our representation in books. She’s kickass, very resourceful and smart. The girl is also hilarious. You know how when you don’t talk about something, it’s the thing that you always think about? That’s Asiya with sex, it is such a taboo in her community (as it is in a lot of Muslim communities) her obsession with it had me in tears, I couldn’t stop laughing. One thing I also appreciated about her is how she didn’t have that need to rebel against her parents because of how protective -and let’s face it- suffocating they were. She still loved and respected them, wanting to make them happy even if she actually went behind their backs to help people, which she knew they’d disapprove of because 1/ They don’t like Michael 2/She puts herself in danger. But she’s convinced that’s what God wants her to do. So she does. And she ALWAYS gets discovered.

Also, can we talk about her monologues to God, I CAN TOTALLY RELATE. All the bargaining, and pleading, and thanking. I don’t know if everyone does that but I definitely do. It was really funny because she’s be absolutely screwed, doing the dumbest things, knowing the outcome would be disastrous and she’ll hope against all hope that she’ll make it out. Spoiler: She doesn’t.

“So God, I could really use some help. You see, I’m not too great with this signs business. Like I’ve got this itchy, irritating feeling in my chest, but I’m not sure if You’re telling me something or it’s my dinner coming back up because my stomach is currently higher than my head. Ma’s fish curry pushing its way past my stomach sphincter and back up my esophagus would do that too, You know? So could You please, please help me out by making it really, really clear what the right thing to do is in this case?”

“Also, thank you God. You might not like me much, but I can still admit that this could have turned out much, much worse.”

Her parents are some heavy duty Muslim parents. They need to sit down, drink some water or something. Though I get where they come from and that they love her and mean well. Her mom  is the one who needs to chill the most, she thinks that just the fact of being surrounded by boys will make Asiya take her clothes of and have sex with any if not all of them, that was equally frustrating and hilarious but she is also a super-mamabear who’d do anything for her daughter and the badass things she did kind of made up for most of her over the top behaviors.

Her dad on the other hand is the voice of wisdom who lets his wife take the lead until he thinks that she went too far with her restrictions. I love how he is more moderate in his views, very gentle with Asiya but doesn’t mind putting his foot down and being strict when she does things that deserve it. One relationship that was particularly heartwarming is the one she had with her little brother, Adil was such a sweet boy and he admired her more than anyone which lifted her spirits when she needed it the most.

I can’t really say that I related with Asiya’s struggles because my family dynamic is very different from hers but community wise, I did. Oh how I did! Like the fact that girls have less freedom than boys (even the younger ones), how some aunties like to be in everyone’s business or how some Imams need to have their brains carved out and replaced because of their very mysogonistic views, luckily, the one in our masjid is wonderful and very inspirational so I don’t have to deal with that frequently.

All in all, this was a very fun, quick and in some ways relatable read. I can’t wait for the second installment in the series to see what adventure Asiya goes on next but one thing that I’m very interested in seeing is where Michael’s arc goes from where the book left him. Very intrigued, indeed.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems? If so, what did you think?

If you are a Muslim, how did Asiya’s circumstances relate to your own experiences?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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TAG #33: Seasons of Book blogging

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Hello guys !

My list of tags to do has slowly been going down and it has never been as reduced as it is now since… I started blogging. And I’ve been thinking whether or not to continue with them once I’m done with the ones I currently have or do something entirely different. Decisions, decisions. Anyway, that’s not our topic today. I’m here with The Seasons of Book blogging tag for which I was tagged by Cristina @ My Tiny Obsessions. Thank you so much! It was created by J @ J. Bookish.

The Rules:

  • Thank the creator (so she can see all of your answers!) and the person who tagged you.
  • Begin with the month in which you have been tagged and move forward from there!
  • State the best gift you’ve ever been given after you answer the question for your birthday month.
  • Tag whomever you’d like when you’re finished.. or else you’ll be “it” forever.
  • Have fun, of course!

Book cover = Goodreads page

1

Jen Wilde - Queens of Geek .jpg

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. THIS. BOOK. IS. SO. ADORABLE. I can’t with it, in addition to that, it is important and the representation in it is incredible. It has an amazing friendship, two very swoon-inducing romances, geekiness, AND underlying -no less important- issues that need to be addressed in books.

2I’ve made a post about my resolutions for this year here and I’m on track with all of them. Most books I’ve been reading are diverse, I’m still reviewing my book a week without fail, I started talking about issues that matter to me, (see this post about Muslim representation, this one about Problematic Books and this one about Intersectional Feminism). I also started going to the gym again last week and I journal at least 2 times a week. So yeah, I’d call that a success. For now.

3

anna-marie-mclemore-when-the-moon-was-ours

You’ve probably guessed it because this book has my soul. And Sam and Miel from When the Moon was Ours are the realest pairing I’ve ever read about with the most heartwarming relationship I’ve ever read, they’re best friends before being in a romantic relationship and they’d do anything for each other because they care deeply. Thanks a lot! Now I want to read more about them *sobs*.

4

Leigh Bardugo - Six of Crows #1        Leigh Bardugo - Six of Crows #2

Oh boy. I’ll never not love Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. It ruined all YA Fantasy for me for the rest of times because of how amazing and unique it is. The characters feel real and are viciously awesome, the word-building is A+ and I just want to read it, re-read it and re-re-read it with a fresh mind. I WILL re-read them, probably sometime this year but it will never be that first time feeling with the discovery, excitement and fear for my babies. Oh and the hope. The hope that they’ll all be okay won’t be there.

5

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I… am… sorry. But this Ink & Bone by Rachel Caine wasn’t for me. Way too slow, the characters were alright, and I generally just had very high expectations for it that didn’t come close to being met? I gave it 3.5 stars which was alright but the second book was a DNF. Not that it was bad (albeit, a bit problematic) it just bored me and lost my interest and I had books I was SO excited about to get to. So yeah!

6

riley-redgate-noteworthy

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate was the most pleasant surprise, a definite 5 stars, a new favorite. An amazing, quiet, coming-of-age story about finding one’s self while pretending to be someone else with a lot of nuanced conversations about social issues that are very present and very real in today’s societies. All of this while being light, cute and having its laugh-out-loud moments. READ IT.

7

Contemporary for sure. I’ve been on a kind of Contemporary streak… which I don’t normally do because I get bored easily, but with the bunch of diverse, adorable books I’ve been reading lately, with all of them having different story, I strangely didn’t mind. I turned to the genre in the last month because I was starting to burn out and I needed a break from Fantasy and Historical Fiction. Now I feel like I’m ready to resume my usual reading pattern though.

8

sandhya-menon-when-dimple-met-rishi

When Dimple met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. THIS BOOK IS SO CUUUUUTE. I had all the heart eyes and love for it once I finished it a couple of days ago. First of all, it’s positive arranged marriage representation and then the main characters have such easy banter, and are different but so similar that they were just meant to be, or as they both put it. Kismet.

9

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Laura Silverman, no doubt. Her debut Girl out of Water is such an amazing story about getting out of your comfort zone, family, friendship and a little bit of a summer romance. And I. Adored. it. Keep an eye out for it and grab it as soon as it is out. You won’t regret it, thank me later.

10

Victor Hugo - Les misérables

I always use the same book for this. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo is probably the only book that we read for school and I enjoyed. I remember only vaguely what it is about because I read it at least 8 years ago, if not more haha. So forgive my memory.

11

A Darker Shade final for Irene

Lila from A Darker Shade of Magic, she’d be relatively easy to dress up as, all you need is black clothes which I have plenty of and a horned mask which is… doable. She’s just one of my favorites so I’d love to be her for just a day.

12

paul-kalanithi-when-breath-becomes-air

When Breath becomes Air is the memoir of a neurosurgeon and it is so damn inspirational, I cried at one point because of how relatable to me it was and how hard it hit me. Dr. Kalanithi unfortunately died from Stage IV lung cancer and this book has not only his experiences while he was sick but the ones from before as well. All the notable moments from his life are wrapped up in this powerful book. My favorite part was definitely while he was in medschool.


I Tag:


That’s it until next time.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Intersectional Feminism: Different Perspectives + Book recommendations

Life Talk

Hello guys !

This month being Women History Month I thought I’d do something that’s fitting for the occasion, and talk about something that I didn’t know how to approach on the blog until a few days ago when it suddenly dawned on me, seriously, one minute it wasn’t there and just as I was getting ready to sleep, it appeared. Thank you midnight thoughts, you’ve done well this time!

In case you haven’t guessed what the subject is, it’s Feminism. Yes, the big ugly word that a lot us fear but that I came to understand, love and cherish over the past few months. I’m going to talk to you about my own experience, and as you might guess it, it will get pretty personal, but I will introduce other women’s experiences as well, because it’s important to get as many perspectives as possible when talking about things that are subjective and for which the meaning can change from one person to the other. And I want this post to be universal, I want women from different backgrounds to read and nod because they can see themselves in some of these things.

So because of the personal aspect, I don’t know how structured the post will be, if at all. I’ll just ramble away and hope for the best. So before starting off, let’s lay some basis so that we’re all on the same wave length and we’re all talking about the same thing here.

What is Feminism ?

I think we all know what it is but we’ll go step by step. Feminism is a movement -or group of movements, whichever way you want to look at it– campaigning for women’s rights going off the basis that they -we- face oppression because we are perceived as inherently weaker and “less”. Feminism at its core fights for free choice, for women AND non-binary pals to have complete control over their lives, freedom, education, jobs, equal pays, and for them to basically have the same chances as men in all domains and aspects of life. Either it is staying at home or having big careers, getting married or not, having kids or not, it’s up to them and no one else.

In my opinion, for Feminism to be true and thrive, needs to be intersectional. There’s really no other way to do it, because if it’s not it excludes people and if it excludes people, it really isn’t Feminism.

What is Intersectionality ?

Intersectionality is based off the fact that someone’s identity isn’t just one thing. It isn’t just sexuality, or race, or gender, ethnicity, religion, mental or physical health, social class… All of these things come together to form a person’s identity and cannot be separated, they intersect to make a person who they are. Which means that other than sexism, women and non-binary folks can face racism, xenophobia, ableism, transphobia, homophobia and/or any other kind of bigotry. All of this means that your Feminism needs to include:

  • Trans women (I’m looking at you Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie*).
  • Poor women.
  • Disabled women.
  • Muslim women.
  • Black women.
  • Indigenous/Native women.
  • Non-binary pals. This last one I wasn’t aware of until recently and it makes sense, but they get erased a lot so let’s not forget to include them

* If you weren’t aware of what happened, CNA recently spoke on Trans Women and was she said was really harmful and showed how little knowledge she has about Transgender experiences. This isn’t my place to explain but here’s an article and here’s another one on why Feminism should be Trans-inclusive. I’m just very disappointed.

1

I grew up a Feminist, even if I never knew it, even if I never put a label on it. Want to know why? Because my mom is one. My mom is my hero and the biggest influence in my life. She probably doesn’t know it either but she really is. She’s the most hardworking woman I’ve ever met, and she still manages to make time for us, to show that she loves us, she does everything to raise us to be great women as well (my sister and I) and to make everything we need available to us. She’s a superhero. And my number one supporter.

She’s always believed in me, let me go my own way, given me my own space, let me pursue whatever dreams and passions without interfering. And I love her for that. She’s always had hopes and expectations for me but never made them obvious, it got to the point -when I wanted to choose my path after high school- where I’d beg her to tell me what she wanted me to do because I was confused and she always refused because my future, my choice.

As I said, I grew up feeling empowered and as if I could conquer the world. I am very ambitious by nature so that felt freeing. Until I started being very aware of my surroundings and of the society I was growing up in. That was a rough disillusion. I was maybe 12? And everyone -even people I don’t know- had an opinion on who I should be, how I should behave, they were trying to fit me into boxes I didn’t belong in, or I belonged in too many. I wasn’t white enough, thin enough, Muslim enough, too smart, too loud, too honest, too ambitious… And for a long time I made myself small and folded inwards to fit.

Here’s the thing, the society I live in –like many others– is sexist, misogynistic, and inclined on colorism. I’m not generalizing of course but if you grow up surrounded by those things, you’re bound to have some internalized and not-so-internalized biases. As soon as I stepped out of the comfort of my house, the male gaze was upon me. I needed to be desirable but not reveal too much, I needed to strive for an education but I couldn’t be more educated than my potential husband, that my ultimate goal needs to be to settle, get married and have kids? What if I don’t want to? What about the people who don’t want to get married? That’s some damaging thinking.

I’m the type of person who wants everything from life and isn’t afraid of going after it. I want a big career, to be successful in it, to be able to help people. I remember going to my sister’s pediatrician with her last year (which used to be mine) and as we chatted away, he asked what I wanted to do as a specialty, my mom answered and said “A surgeon” -which I’m not even sure of. His response? “But you can’t! That’ll be hard on your domestic life, you won’t be a good wife, won’t see much of your kids” Okay. I know that came for a good place, but who told him that’s what I want from life?

Yes, I want to eventually get married. Yes, I want to eventually have kids. But does that means I have to give up big part of who I am, the ambitious one? the one that has big dreams and want to keep working towards them? I think not. Anyway. As I struggled to balance between what society wanted me to be and what I wanted to be, I became more aware of what Feminism is, of the Feminist in me, because until then, I stirred very clear of it.

In mainstream media, especially where I live, Feminism is portrayed to be this wild, out of control movement where women wanted to be provocative, lacked modesty and didn’t fight for anything important so I didn’t identify as that. And I know most feminists don’t either, but I didn’t know that at the time. But when I started reading up and educating myself, I saw more and more of who I am and what I stand up for portrayed in what the essence of Feminism is. And so I reclaimed that label because I want to fight for my rights, the rights of all women and non-binary people. I want us to be freed of not only sexism but all other forms of oppression and bigotry.

Book recommendation: Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World

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Kirsty, book blogger @ Kirsty’s Book Reviews :

I grew up on the Isle of Skye where there was like one mixed race family I knew and the overwhelming majority of people I knew were white. There also wasn’t really anyone I knew growing up who was anything other than straight.

This was probably why when I would get aroused when I was younger by my mum’s underwear catalogues and my friend’s brother’s naked women posters I didn’t realize that this was an early explanation to my sexuality. No one I knew was queer so I didn’t have an example that people were different to just straight or gay, I only ever saw it on tv. As far as I knew I was attracted to boys so I definitely wasn’t gay. Then someone at my school came out as bi, and everyone just said she was a lesbian, but I paid attention and started to think about myself.

At this time I was also becoming much more involved in internet culture and learning about the world outside of my own community. It took me about 4 years after that initial thought before I read about pansexuality and immediately felt like that was me. I found this by my increasing involvement in the tumblr feminist community (which I’m not part of now because it’s so toxic). I really started to think about the world around me and how insular my childhood was. I thought back to the language I used to use and how everyone took it as acceptable because they were all white, able-bodied, straight and cis.

Feminism has really made me think about myself as a person and how I want to teach children as they grow how the world isn’t exactly how they may take it from their small communities. I feel so empowered at times, but I also feel very upset about my own actions when I see minorities talking about bad experiences. It’s such a learning curve and sometimes I feel like because of my background I have so much more to learn than everyone else, but I love learning so it’s ok.

Book recommendation: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Sinead, book blogger @ Huntress of Diverse Books :

Am I a feminist? According to the dictionary definition, yes, I am. But I don’t feel comfortable with that word. What do I associate with the term feminism? White feminists.

People who tell me that this is not the time to discuss other forms of discrimination. People who tell me that we’re only focusing on gender equality at the moment, we’re only discussing sexism. This type of feminism doesn’t only occur abroad. It exists in Germany as well. I am not just marginalized because I am a woman. I’m also a woman of color and I don’t speak nor write my father tongue (yes FATHER tongue) perfectly even thought it’s the main language of the country I live in at the moment. I could use the term intersectional feminist. Some people use it as a general term that means they fight against all forms of discrimination. Since the word feminism is part of this term, I feel like the term insinuates that feminism is the combining factor, the main cause, the priority.

I do identify as an intersectional feminist and my definition centers on being against sexism and for gender equality, while taking intersections of other forms of discrimination and marginalisations into account. However, if I’m talking about my activism in general, which includes fighting against all forms of discrimination, I don’t use the term ‘intersectional feminist’ as my label. It isn’t the all-encompassing word that I’m looking for. If it works for you, that’s great. I’m feeling rather comfortable with the term ‘social justice activist’ at the moment. Maybe I’ll find a term that resonates with me 100 % one day – I haven’t found it yet, but one day, I might.

Book recommendation: Saree by Su Dharmapala

Kaeley, book blogger @ Spoilers May Apply:

The idea of agency and freedom of choice and expression is something Western cultures are very familiar and intimate with. But for all of that fierceness and freedom, it leaves very little room for women to have freedom of choice and expression. Feminists seemed to have earned a bad rap sheet. And because of that some women feel like feminism isn’t for them for various reasons. But even if you feel like that, it still will fight for your rights and respect. It will still support you and try to make the world a better place for you and every person, male, female and everyone in between, who comes after you.

I think feminism for me, and hopefully for everyone, is very liberating. To me, feminism means I can be whoever I want to be and do whatever I want to do; I can wear what I want to wear and say what I want to say. Feminism means I’m valued for my personality, intellect, and actions rather than what my body can or can’t do for others. That is what feminism, true feminism is. Feminism values everyone, breaks down barriers and allows everyone to be who they want to be; whether that’s masculine, feminine or something in between or entirely different. It’s not about who your siblings, parents, friends, significant other(s), culture or society expect you to be. Feminism is being yourself. Feminism is freedom.

Book recommendation: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

Maya, book blogger @ Maya Hearts Books :

I’m a queer teenager from Spain. I believe in feminism and I need to, because even though I’m pretty privileged, I want to, I feel like I MUST fight for every single one of my sisters and dismantle patriarchy so we can all, both women, non-binary people and men, live our own lives peacefully, being who we want to be.

I want my male friends to be able to say how they feel and my female and non-binary friends to be considered equal to men. I want my fellow LGBT+ people to live and love as the rest. I want every single woman of color to have the same opportunities I have. I want a world where disabled people can live a normal life. Everyone in developing countries, I want them to live life as well as they would in first world countries. I want sex workers to be treated fairly. And only feminism can take us there.

The only true form of feminism is intersectional. We can only move forward if we all work hand in hand, and every hope of success we put in white feminists is futile.

Book recommendation: Nononsense Feminism: Alive and Kicking by Nikki van der Gaag.

Puput, book blogger @ Sparkling Letters :

Feminism to me has always been a controversial topic, mainly because my understanding of it was limited, as well as the influence of my religion. Growing up, my understanding of Islam was always that a man should be the leader. I was afraid that feminism means being superior to men and it might go against what my religion has taught me. But a few years after, I learned that feminism doesn’t mean that one gender has to have more power than the other. Being a feminist doesn’t mean women has to be superior to men. To me, it’s about receiving what we, as human, already deserve. Starting from simple things like education, the right to be ourselves, to be success, to have a career, and most importantly, to choose for ourselves. And that doesn’t mean that we have to push men aside in the process.

I owe my hobby (reading, obviously) to a feminist from my country. Back when we were still under Dutch colonialization women weren’t allowed to go to school. They have to stay home and help the family until they were married off, and then it was up to the husband. There was this one woman, her name was Kartini. She was born into an aristocratic Javanese family and her father was a Regency Chief of Jepara, a region in Central Java. She only attended school until she was 12 years old but secretly she learned to speak Dutch, an unusual accomplishment for Javanese women back then.

During her time at home, Kartini continued to educate herself by reading books, newspaper, and European magazines. They fed her interest in European feminist thinking. A few years later she was married to a fellow noble. She was angry at first, but it turned out her husband shared her passion for education and feminism and supported her dream to build a school for women. That was the first time women were allowed to go to school to learn to read. Without Kartini’s merit, we women probably wouldn’t know how to read.

Back to my point above, being a feminist doesn’t mean we have to be superior to men and push them away. It means there has to be respect for each others regardless of the gender. It takes cooperation and understanding. After all, Kartini successfully did what she did with the help of her husband, but I’m not saying that she wouldn’t be able to success on her own. I’m sure she would be either way, and so would every women in this world.

Book recommendation: Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (TW: Rape, Sexual Assault, Murder)

Janani, book blogger @ The Shrinkette & on Twitter

I only became actively involved in social justice conversations while living in the States. I’ve attended protests, had conversations with friends who share my ideologies, been in environments where feminism is the default, and generally lived in a feminist bubble in my real life. So, when I moved back in with my parents, and naturally started having these conversation with them. With my friends from college. With my closest friends from school that I grew up with. And my bubble shattered like a Christmas bauble. The transition is…frustrating.

I am jarred by the disconnect between the people I’ve known my whole life and the conversations I’m having online. The gaps are infuriating. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering how and why this is, and among several things, a lot has to do with my own expectations. I start these conversations with people expecting them to automatically be in tune with my ideologies and line of thinking. I’ve spent a lot of time fighting, feeling infuriated, and crashing into waves of depression. My passionate rants are met with “the world is harsh and unfair, this is how people are, you’ll just have to accept it” (from my parents) or “what about when ________” from friends (casual misogyny). This frustrates me. It scares me. I don’t want to accept it. The idea that I will go all my life yelling about needing systemic change and bringing down the patriarchy- whether it’s in publishing or elsewhere, without any serious changes actually taking place- haunts me. It makes me question whether all the grief I take from people online and offline is worth it.

So I’ve been thinking about what I could do instead. It’s making me realize my participation in social justice and actions as a feminist need not be on a wide platform. I need to adapt my intentions in accordance with my environment, while keeping my values. If I need to bring about change, ranting at people IRL like making twitter threads or fighting with internet trolls is not only screwing with my mental health. So, I need to start small. To have more 101 conversations. To use relatable examples. Channel some of those feminist values into doing things for the community, instead of waiting to join in the next protest. Taking joy in the small things- like how my sister has been reading some of my books and beginning to grasp the workings of the patriarchy and its ramifications.

Instead of throwing jargon into people’s faces, break it down using relatable stories. I’ll recommend more books by marginalized writers to people who ask for recommendations without making it about their/the characters’ marginalisations. And I’ll take comfort in my feminist bubble online. I’ll write about it. I’ll do the twitter threads and the educating and the learning and the boosting and the ranting. I’m sure it’ll be a long, painful, arduous process, but I’ve come to realize that nothing about this movement was ever meant to be easy.

Book recommendation: Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell Hooks

Jordyn, book blogger @ Jordz the Bibliophile

I guess that one of the reasons that intersectional feminism means so much to be is the fact that I finally feel included. When people talked about sexual inequality, they mentioned that women earned 77 cents to every dollar a man earned, or how likely they were to face harassment. But those statistics were for white women, not for me. When I found out that black women earned 64 cents, Hispanic women less than that, Native American women less than that, it felt like a slap in the face. It felt like the world really didn’t care about women of color like me.

Learning about intersectional feminism just made me feel like there were people out there that felt what I felt, that really could relate to what it was like to grow up as a non-white woman.

Julia Ember, author of Unicorn Tracks and Upcoming The Seafarer’s Kiss

To me, feminism has always been about bolstering the dreams and aspirations of people who are held down by the patriarchy. This absolutely includes women, but it’s so much more than that. Even in 2017, it’s still overwhelmingly the case that the highest paid jobs and positions of political power are held by straight white men. I think in 2017, feminism has changed necessarily to supporting rights for all marginalized people, not just cis women.

Feminism also has to go beyond a throwaway statement of equality. It’s great that so many companies have policies against discrimination – but without actively trying to change the balance, it’s easy for them just to stick to the status quo, then hide behind the shield of “we chose the best applicant.” I think with today’s feminism, we have to support looking beyond obvious biases, into actively promoting and encouraging marginalized people. Passive feminism isn’t good enough. Yes, that may mean that companies have to “pass up” male candidates. But when I graduated university, in 2011, I saw a marked difference between the number of men who got jobs straight out of study and the number of women who did. A lot of the men who got jobs at big banks and corporations had lower GPAs and less work experience than female and POC friends who struggled. They were not better qualified, but their status as white cisgender men played into recruiters expectations of what good candidates looked like.

In the book world, which I am most familiar with, this means we have to go beyond just “accepting work by women, POC, LGBTQIA people” into actively promoting, buying and soliciting submissions for it.

Lila, book blogger @ The Bookkeeper’s Secrets :

Imagine this: A mother and child, living in a household in which the mother is married to a man who abuses her. She has been working up to leaving for a while now. Then something happens one day and it is the last straw. She knows she can not raise her daughter like this and files for divorce. However, in the process of getting a divorce, the woman’s soon to be ex-husband steals the house and all of her money out from under her, leaving her and her child destitute and homeless.

This is my mother’s story and I am her daughter. I want to share something with you about intersectional feminism and the people that everyone so often forgets: the poor and homeless. Women cannot affect and change communities and the world if they do not have the money, the education, the opportunity, or (and I mean this quite literally) the life. Poverty disproportionately affects women and children around the world. Women are pushed into poverty everyday due to wage gaps and societal standards and then trapped in poverty by sexism, racism, and classism.

And maybe you think this isn’t an issue in America, one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Then let me give you a statistic that’ll blow your mind: “The United States has the largest number of homeless women and children among the industrialized nations. Seventy million women and their dependent children are living in or on the brink of poverty.” (Wikipedia, “Feminization of Poverty”)

So what can this community, the literary community and in particular the subgroup of the YA literary community, do to help us? Talk to us. Tell our stories. Most of the time digging your way out of homelessness and poverty isn’t a rags to riches or rags to Harvard story. Its grinding work moving from beng poor or homeless to living in a decent house—not a big house, but a house. Write about us, how we spend hours on buses just to get groceries, go to the doctor, school or work. Write about how our houses might be a little messier because they’re smaller and we don’t have a maid. Tell people how we survived. There is triumph and strength just in that.

I have never read a YA book that has a poor or homeless female heroine. Not one. I only know of one book (Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase series) that has a poor/homeless hero. If no one tells our stories, how will they know what is happening to us? If no one tells our stories, who will combat the negative myths and stereotypes surrounding poverty and homelessness? Telling stories of heroes/heroines who are poor or homeless, is empowering.

It’s not that we don’t have a voice, it’s that no one is listening. We need someone to tell our stories to a larger audience; make them feel and hear us. Make them see us. Please dont read this as just another post. See this as a catalyst an opportunity to give a voice to those of us who have one, but so often feel no one is listening.


That’s it until next time.

Are you a Feminist? Were you aware of Intersectionality?

Do you have recommendations of book that have Feminism either as an underlying or dominant theme?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Queens of Geeks – Cuteness, Geekiness and all the Feels

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Publication date : March 14th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Swoon Reads

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 288

Synopsis : When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.
Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Jason Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.
While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.
Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
 (From Goodreads)

Rating: 5 stars

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*I received an Arc of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

(No Spoilers)

SWOONS. SQUEALS. SCREAMS. AAAAH ALL THE HEART EYES AND LOVE TO THIS BOOK. Lo and behold, this is my first 5 stars rated fiction book of the year, so it’s something to celebrate. I’m completely and irrevocably in love with this book, the characters, their romances, the issues it discusses. It does everything right. It’s an #Ownvoices book at its finest. I really felt the authenticity and honesty of it. I want to talk about all the things this book stands for but my words are failing me, they jumble up in my head, collide and combust into fairy dust, rainbows and unicorn poops.

The writing is fun, fast paced and very quotable. I genuinely want to get myself a physical copy just to tab all the parts I loved. Queens of Geek is written in duel POV through Charlie and Taylor’s eyes and it was fantastic because both girls are very different and still manage to have a beautiful friendship. Aside from the classic formatting of the text, the book also has text conversations as well as Tumblr posts that Taylor types on the spot.

Queens of Geek is the book all of us proud nerds have always wanted but never knew we needed. I can’t begin to describe how happy this book made me, it is so heartwarming that just thinking about it puts the biggest smile on my face. So many pop cultures references and relatable fangirling moments that I’m pretty sure everyone can relate with, especially if you’ve been to a convention -I haven’t- because the vibe is so well encompassed in the pages of the book.

The romances are INCREDIBLE. Both of them. Both are two of my favorite tropes. The first one being bestfriends to lovers, Taylor and Jamie have been friends for years, in love for years as well and everyone knows it but them. They act like this adorable old couple but without the coupley stuff, and I lived for the awkward moments each time they started getting too intimate, it was so real, relatable and just funny. I specifically loved seeing them through Charlie’s eyes, she had this “KISS ALREADY” attitude that was hilarious. The second one is an F/F fan to lover type romance, except that both girls having been fans of each other for years, harvesting these innocent crushes that developed into more once they met. I must admit that this one evolves much more quickly and can feel like instalove but it isn’t because the girls knew each other beforehand.

Taylor is such a smart, kind and strong girl who’s into everything book related. She’s a neuro-diverse character on the autism spectrum (Asperger’s to be more specific) who has anxiety and what I loved most of all is how none of it defined her, her story wasn’t about it, it was about her being a fangirl, going to a convention, having a crush on her bestfriend and spending a great time with her friends. Her anxiety was always there and so well explained and dealt with. As she put it:

“Anxiety isn’t an attack that explodes out of me; it’s not a volcano that lies dormant until it’s triggered by an earth-shattering event. It’s a constant companion.”

but she kept challenging it as best as she could, meeting new people, doing things she wouldn’t normally do and I honestly loved that. I also adored the body-positivity in this book, how Taylor was totally and utterly comfortable with the way she looked and didn’t care one bit what people might think. Also, this might seem weird to you but SHE WEARS GLASSES, do you know how rare that is in books?

Charlie is a force of life. She’s a proud Chinese-American bisexual youtuber and rising actress with pink hair (hence the cover) who’s confident, empathetic and sensitive. What I admired is how she wasn’t portrayed as this almighty, fearless creature. She had her doubts too, was scared of falling in love after a tough break up and needed her friends as much as they needed her. I liked how through Charlie, the author addressed biphobia in the form of her ex-boyfriend who was a total tool and couldn’t wrap his head around how her  being with him and being bisexual could coexist. On the other hand, Alyssa, her crush, was so patient and reassuring, and made sure to hear her and make her comfortable, she also planned the most perfect date for the two of them.

Jamie is the softest, most caring boy ever, he’s quite frankly redefined the meaning of book boyfriend. He was inseparable from Jamie and had -figuratively- “protect Taylor at all costs” written on his forhead. He knew when to be there for her and when to give her space, he was just honestly perfect.

The three of them make such an amazing trio of friends who plan their futures while making sure to always be around each other. I lived for their banter and healthy friendship, how they understood when one of them -aka Charlie- needed to go off and spend time with her crush and encouraged it instead of getting mad because she didn’t spend all her time with them. I especially loved Charlie and Taylor, they had such a supportive friendship when despite of having their own problems, found time to listen to each other and be there.

All in all, this book is the perfect mix of cheesiness, adorable banter and dealing with important issues. I adored it and would recommend it to everyone, their mom, their neighbor and their neighbor’s dog. GO GET IT AS SOON AS IT IS OUT. You won’t regret it.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read Queens of Geek? If so, what did you think?

Which romance was your favorite? And which character did you relate with the most?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Award #15: Here comes the Sun…

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Hello guys !

I’m here today for a second round of the Sunshine Blogger Award. I did the first one a gazillion years ago so I thought it was okay to do it again now haha. Plus, the question vary a lot so I don’t risk being repetitive. This time around I was tagged by Marta @ The Book Mermaid, thank you so much for nominating me. And also, I slept on it for so long, which kind of made the last question kind of irrelevant right now haha. That being said, we’ll work with it.

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The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write then 11 new questions. (I’m lazy)
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

The Questions:

1. What are you currently reading?

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I’m currently reading nothing, it’s a very interesting book, 100% would recommend. Okay, no joke. I finished God Smites and other Muslim Girl problems yesterday (I’m writing this post on Sunday) and it was such a fun mystery. And I’m planning on starting When Dimple met Rishi by Sandhya Menon once I’m done blogging. And my excitement for it cannot be contained. I CAN’T WAIT.

2. What is your reading goal for this year?

Quantity wise, I put my goal at 60 books which is a very comfortable number for me as I was able to read nearly 80 books last year and I’m even 5 books ahead of schedule right now. So it’s safe to say that if I keep this up, it’ll be easy to reach my goal. Quality wise, I want to read mainly diverse books, which I already implemented in my reading and I’m very happy with it, and I really want to focus more on #Ownvoices books, which are the books by marginalized authors who write about their own marginalization.

3. Do you prefer sun or rain while reading?

Both? It depends on the book and where I am. If I am snuggled at home with a sad book, I like it to be rainy outside to set the right mood haha. But if I’m reading a happy kind of book with a lot of fluff and cuteness, I ideally like to sit outside in the sun. I say ideally because I am lazy and I do pretty much all my reading inside the house.

4. Can you describe the last book you read in five words?

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As I said the last book I read is God Smites and Other Muslim girl Problems by Ishara Deen. The five words are: Honest – Funny – Fast read – Mystery.

5. Do you have any shelf dedicated to a specific series? If yes, do you keep there anything else related to it other than the books?

No I don’t, all in all, I only have one shelf of physical books. I only started buying physical copies a few months ago after a long while of figuring out the way that would ruin me the least. I’m really happy with it and I think that even if I had more book I wouldn’t have a shelf dedicated to one series just because I’m not a collector and I’d rather buy other books than other editions of ones I already own.

6. Who are your favorite female characters of all time?

Inej and Nina from Six of Crows. Shocker I know, but I love those girls to death and the way they have each other’s backs gives me life. Yael from Wolf by Wolf because she’s kick-ass and her character development is incredible. Last but not least, Lila from the Shades of Magic trilogy because how can I not? She’s stabtastic all the while being very soft on the inside. Really deep inside though. I wouldn’t recommend you trying to mess with her.

7. What is your favorite item on your shelves and why?

My books? hahaha. Okay, no, item. I’m not home right now so let me think for a second or two. I’d say it’s my Six of Crows notebook which also doubles as my journal which I love writing in. It’s a mess of my thoughts, notable events and any other idea that crosses my mind and I think would make a cute spread.

8. What is your favorite tv show at the moment?

I’m kind of in an in between phase where my latest obsession -the Royals- is on a break and I’m caught up with all the other tv-shows I watch haha, and I’ve been watching them for so long that none can qualify as my favorite “at the moment”. I’m thinking of starting a few but I can’t decide on which one to start with. Sigh. Life is hard.

9. What was your biggest reading disappointments of this year?

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Easy. The Inexplicable Logic of my Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz. I expected to love it and I would have… if it weren’t a problematic mess. I am baffled and disappointed and frustrated. For a more in depth look into my thoughts, here’s the review I posted last Friday.

10. Do you usually write a bookish Christmas wishlist or let your family pick whatever they think you’d like?

I don’t celebrate Christmas but generally speaking I never make wishlists because I’m a sucker for surprises. My family knows me pretty well because I make sure to shout about all the things I love at every occasion haha. So I’ve never ever been disappointed with anything they got me.

11. What book you must finish before the end of 2016?

*awkward silence* *cricket noise* Umm… We kind of are in 2017 now that I’ve finally gotten around to doing this so I’m not sure how or if to answer this question. I’M SORRY I SUCK OKAY?


That’s it until next time.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Problematic books: What are they and How to Approach them?

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Hello guys !

This post has been brewing in my brain for a few weeks now. If you don’t follow me on Twitter and haven’t noticed the shift in my blog’s focus lately, I am a self-proclaimed diversity advocate (or try to be as much as I can). It’s pretty recent and I have never been happier with my reading than I am now. I’ll give you a backstory on how this happened.

When I first started blogging, I wasn’t aware of the importance of representation in books, I didn’t even know it was a thing that existed and that we need more of. Then a few months in, posts started popping up in my WP reader and my Twitter timeline about diversity, diverse books, #Ownvoices books and how important all of these things are. So, as I started reading about this, I realized that I read all the same books, with the same characters, written by people who have, more or less, the same experiences (on a wider scale) and it hit me. I, by definition, I’m a diverse bookblogger, so why wasn’t I boosting voices like mine? Voices that aren’t heard enough. Voices that aren’t nearly as loud as they ought to be.

In july, I wrote this post called “My Diverse Reading -or Lack there of” where I basically pledged to reading more diversely. From then, I started adding books that I wouldn’t have read otherwise to my TBR. I started with one or two a month, until where I’m at now where I naturally reach out for them, I don’t even need to think about it.

With the talk about representation, came the talk about *accurate* representation, because a lot of books do it wrong. A lot more than you realize. Some we’ve all read and loved. That’s how problematic books were born.

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A problematic book is a book that does the minority/ies it includes wrong. It could be things that can very easily be overlooked just like it could be blatant, screaming bigotry. In addition to that, those things are never called out or challenged as wrong and hurtful.

For the purpose of this post, we’ll call the diverse character Div and she’s a brown Muslim girl.

Tokenism

This is when a book includes characters from minorities. But not really, they’re like an afterthought. What I mean is that  Div is there to check the box for diversity in a non-existent checklist, or to follow the trend (fyi, diversity is NOT a trend, if you think it is, you should read up). Div has no dept, or no real show of her identity in her behaviors and mannerisms. Other than the fact that the text says “Div is a Muslim” nothing proves that she really is. The easiest way to recognize it is to try and replace Div with a non-Muslim character (PoC or Indigenous by a white character, disabled by an able-bodied, etc…) if that changes nothing to her words and actions, that’s a bad sign. It should ring some bells.

Plot device

In my opinion, this is a very easy one to recognize because the character is killed off in most cases. You ask me: How a character can possibly be a plot device? It’s when said character helps further the MC’s quest and not by being a badass companion. No. Div either dies to serve as a motivation and a slap in the face to the main character or she has something major happen to her that inspires the MC to be a better person, do better, and have a better life (re: Me Before You). This is not okay because something -literally anything- else could be a motivation, why not have something from the MC’s experiences be life changing? And leave Div alone to thrive and kick butt.

The use of slurs

Slurs are called slurs for a reason and they’re not for you to use. Especially if you’re not part of the minority the slur is directed at. Even if the word has been reclaimed by those people. They can use it. You can’t. The thing is, they’re not a monolith so if a person has accepted the word, another might still get -righteously- offended by it. And even if they use it for themselves, you using it can still be offensive. So the best approach is to not use them at all. No N word, no Q word, no F word, no R word, no slur word. Not ever.

Things specific to certain groups:

This is definitely not an exhaustive list, just some examples to get you started.

Characters of Color/Indigenous characters:

  • Cultural appropriation. And by that I mean writing a book inspired by a certain culture where you’re choosing and picking what you like and completely distorting it (Re: Rebel of the Sands). Like say, having a creature be called Jin when it’s nothing like Jins. Or, face and body tattoos inspire from different indigenous tribes that are normally charged with cultural or even religious meaning but that, in the book, are used very wrong (Re: Nevernight).
  • The all so popular “Div is Asian”. Asia is a continent. Is she Chinese? Japanese? Korean? Indian? Pakistani? Give me a country, not a damn continent.
  • The use of “savage” to describe a people that’s -more often that not- inspired by Indigenous people. Those same people are usually antagonized and portrayed as the bad guys who go around slaughtering everyone (Re: The continent). All the while, the white savior trope is well and thriving. Please no, enough of that nonsense.
  • Also, saying Div looks exotic or describing her using food is no good. She’s not a spice, she’s not food, she’s not a forest, she’s not exotic. That’s just cringey, ridiculous and shows lack of vocabulary. Here’s a helpful link with adjectives to describe skin color.
  • Let’s say Div is bi/multiracial don’t use half-X, half-Y. Or worse, using percentage. Ever. She’s a full person and is fully part of both -or all- ethnicities, not half anything.
  • “Div is pretty for a brown girl”. Yikes. Just no. Div is pretty. Period.
  • Color blindness. Unless the character is born literally color blind. They *do* see color, whether you like it or not. So using that in a book to make a character of color’s struggles illegitimate or even cancel them is just bad. Really bad.

Mentally or Physically disabled characters:

  • “Div suffers from X”. She doesn’t “suffer” from anything. You can say “Div has X” or “Div is a character with X”. Both are better alternatives.
  • A very popular, very widely used practice is using the name of actual disabilities as hyperboles to get a point across, or for dramatic effect. Saying Div is a psycho or that she’s blind, deaf, hysterical, schizophrenic, bipolar, OCD, and the list goes on, when she actually isn’t. Something that we shouldn’t normalize anymore.
  • Saying -or even implying- that any kind of disability ends a person’s life is very harmful. And that if they don’t endanger themselves by defying said disability they are not living life to the fullest. Can you see the flaw in that kind of thinking?
  • Making someone’s disability about someone else’s life. Having them act differently, showing how it is a burden. All of it is wrong. ALL. OF. IT.
  • When the disabled person has some kind of superpower that renders the disability irrelevant and like it’s not there. This just shows laziness when it comes to properly researching so the book is “working around it”. Having superpowers is fine, it’s great even, just make them unrelated to the disability.

Characters from the LGBTQIA+ community:

  • •”For a gay guy, Div’s brother was pretty straight” This implies that gay people have to behave a certain way, say certain words to fit in the box you have constructed for them. But they do not. Sexuality has nothing to do with behavior.
  • Implying that whatever sexuality a character is is just a phase. Because it’s not. They can be questioning their sexuality but none of it is a phase, don’t be that guy that says “it’ll pass”.
  • Using the wrong pronouns for a character because you “choose” to call them depending on the genitals they were born with. Especially when it comes to Transgender, non-Binary and Genderfluid folks. Respect the pronouns they’re comfortable with.
  • Aro/Ace erasure is real and thriving, don’t fuel it. Aro is Aromantic-spectrum, so if you say that no human-being can live without a romantic partner, you’re dehumanizing them. Don’t. Ace is Asexual-spectrum,  and if you say that not having/wanting to have sex is abnormal, you’re harming them. Don’t.
  • Saying that a bisexual girl isn’t really bisexual if she’s dating a boy and same goes for a bisexual guy who is dating a girl is biphobic. Period. They’re bisexual for a reason, dating “the default” doesn’t make it any less true.
  • Sexuality or gender being a plot-twist or a spoiler. Yikes. If that’s the case, then something is wrong because it shouldn’t be. A person’s sexuality or gender is nobody’s business so even if it’s kept secret until the middle of the book, that doesn’t make it a “plot-twist”.

I am not talking about problematic Muslim representation because I go into it in this post about the Importance of Muslim Representation in Books.

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Talk about the problematic elements:

We’re not asking you to hate it all of a sudden, we all have problematic favorites. As a reviewer, you just need to talk about how it’s problematic. Does it have racist content? Transphobic? Islamophobic? Ableist? Anti-semitist? The worst thing to do in cases like these is to ignore it or pretend like you haven’t seen or heard anything. You have a responsibility towards people who trust your reviews to tell them if a book can potentially hurt them. And please don’t say “it’s just a book”, we all know they’re more than that. And I’m sorry to break it to you, but one sentence in a 600 words review won’t cut it either and if you don’t really know what to say I have a solution…

Boost marginalized voices

Link to reviews that go into detail about how that book was problematic, especially if they’re #Ownvoices (Marginalized folks talking about their own marginalization). That’s really important. Your platform can be really helpful in making their voices louder. As I said link to the reviews, retweet them, talk about them. Any way is good to get the message across. And what’s really really important is, never ever, talk over them…

Be an Ally

Which goes hand in hand with what I said last. Being an ally is mostly boosting voices and listening. Educating yourself and helping in educating others. All over social media, people from minorities get harassed and bullied for speaking up so stand up for them if you can. And educating people, repeating the same things over and over again can be very exhausting so if it’s something they’ve educated you about before, jump in and educate, they will be grateful for it. One thing to never do when someone says they’ve been hurt by something is to say “but X told me that it’s okay, *they* weren’t hurt”. Good for X, but that changes nothing and doesn’t make the hurt any less present.

Don’t recommend the book

I know this might be hard but as long as problematic books get recommended and make the top of bestseller list, they’ll keep on being produced. What does that tell the publishers? It tells them that that’s the content that sells, that’s what readers want, and they’ll keep on giving it. While if we take a stand and show how we cannot support them, it will stop it cold. We need to care about real people more than fictional people, we need to show empathy. Because if you’re privileged enough to never be hurt by books, know that others aren’t as lucky and that you need to be there for them.

If you’re an author, do your research

Do your homework, friends. If you’re determined to write about an identity that isn’t yours, research it really well. Look online, get books from the library, talk to people, be sure to get the experiences as close to reality as possible. And once your work is ready, invest in Sensitivity readers, you won’t regret it. They will be your representation editors and help you spot things you might have missed and unpack any potentially internalized biases that might show in your work. This is better than the alternative. Which is hurting real people.

This was my -very long- two cents about problematic books, a little guide that I hope might help some get the hang of it. I know it can seem daunting, believe me, I know. I’m still learning and have a long way to go. And I’m eager to learn too. Because accurate representation matters. And we need it.


That’s it until next time.

Do you read diversely? Do you want to read more diverse books?

What do you do when confronted to problematic books?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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The Inexplicable Logic of my Life – A Meaningful Story turned Hurtful and Offensive

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Publication date : March 7th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Clarion Books

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 464

Synopsis : Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

Rating: 2 stars

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*I received an Arc of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault – Successive Deaths.

(All Spoilers are hidden)

Oh boy I’m mad. When I first started reading the book it felt like I was finding a new favorite, I knew that I was going to be giving it a 5 star rating, but as you can see that didn’t happen. The Inexplicable Logic of my life took all the wrong turns when they could’ve been avoided, it was problematic, hurtful and ruined a story that could’ve been amazing otherwise. And I’m disappointed in the author. And sad. So prepare yourselves for one of my rants. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?

The writing is good, beautiful even, it’s Benjamin Alire Saenz so what else can you expect? The prose is lyrical and that’s what saddens me. ALL THE WASTED POTENTIAL. The beauty of it was ruined by a whole bunch of offensive sentences that played on bad stereotypes. Especially when it comes to the gay representation. I lost count of how many times I cringed because the author used sentences like “For a gay guy, my dad was pretty straight”, “That’s so gay”, and “You ARE gay” referring to a gay character that chose a cute dress for his friend.

Oh and we can’t forget about how it would probably even hurt Mexican-Americans who are already trying to figure out their identities with phrases like “All three of us wouldn’t make one whole Mexican” and “You’re not a real Mexican”. Last but not least, the all so overused ableism like “Emotional Anorexic” and “Schizophrenic dork”. The only thing that comes to mind when I think of all this mess is WHY? These sentences can easily be deleted and it wouldn’t change anything to the core of the story.

I’ve read around that the book has no plot which in a sense is true, but it’s a character driven story, focusing on the growth of the main character and his close entourage, so I didn’t mind that, I actually liked it. It is about family, friendship, grief and love in all of its forms, I liked how it put emphasize on how love is expressed differently by different people. The characters all had separates plotlines -or journeys- of their own that explored them as individuals and made them ultimately grow, even the secondary characters.

Now onto the part of it that enraged me. This is about how the sexual assault scene was handled and I’ll be blanking it for multiple reasons. Sam who is the main character’s bestfriend was dating this guy that wanted to rape her but she managed to escape and call Salvador (the MC) who came to the rescue. All is good. He often thinks about beating him up. All is good. When he finds her talking to the rapist -and the guy apologizing- he’s about to do it but she slaps him. What I have a problem with here isn’t the fact that she slapped him, because she did it for him not for the rapist. But why was she talking to him in the first place? Why was she listening to what he had to say? What he did was sexual assault and no apology can make it alright, and it’s wrong to make people believe anything else. But the WORST, is how it’s dealt with for the rest of the book. Or how it’s NOT dealt with. The author never calls it what it is -rape, sexual assault- he kept saying that he tried to hurt her. For 1, he DID hurt her. For 2, THAT WAS SEXUAL ASSAULT, saying the words won’t kill you.

Salvador, the main character, is a very sweet guy, but a very lost one. He starts having these urges to punch people who hurt him or the people he cares about and he doesn’t know where they come from. His relationship with his bestfriend is the softest friendship ever with cute banter.

But Sam, oh Sam! She has some really good qualities, she’s very caring, and a smart-ass witty girl but as all the good things in this book, she was ruined. The author tried so hard to make her “not like other girls” (which I hate) that here again he played on some really wrong stereotypes. She was made to be this girl who calls other girls bitches, didn’t befriend them and didn’t respect other people’s privacy, being very pushy and invasive at times. Oh there’s also the all so famous “One thing about Sam is that she didn’t throw like a girl”. Someone tell me what throwing like a girl looks like, because I sure don’t know. Lord have mercy.

Vicente -the dad- would be, if this book wasn’t so problematic, my favorite parental figure in YA. He’s such a gentle wise man who’s so generous and knows how to be the kids’ friend while still being the dad and having them not cross boundaries. I also liked how the family was so close knitted. It just felt real and authentic.

I think that’s it for this review. I’ve talked about it all. To be honest, I’m very frustrated with this book, because it’s wasted when it could’ve been beautiful. It honestly doesn’t feel like Ari & Dante and The Inexplicable Logic of my Life were written by the same author. Just because of how unproblematic and representative (the words of people who are represented in that book) the first was and how messy and hurtful this one is.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read The Inexplicable Logic of My Life? If so, what did you think?

If you have an #Ownvoices review, please let me know so I can link it here.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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