How to Make a Wish – A raw, heatbreaking story of Love and Grief

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Publication date : May 2nd, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 336

Synopsis : All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.
Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.
(From Goodreads)

Rating : 5 stars

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Trigger Warning: Emotional Parental Abuse

(No Spoilers)

How to Make a Wish rendered me speechless, let’s start with that, it is so beautiful and honest that I couldn’t help feel every emotion it conveyed, every one of them. Oh and before I forget, I read this with my lovely fellow Moroccan blogger, Maha @ Younicorn Reads and we both adored it to pieces. It is just the kind of book that takes a hold on your heart with no intent of ever letting it go, not like you would mind, you really don’t want it to go away.

First of all the writing, oh boy, it’s art. It feels like a punch, it is so powerful  and emotionally packed while being poetic and flowing very effortlessly. What’s most striking about it are the descriptions, they’re raw and gutting and just uuugh, I’m at a loss of words and I apologize deeply for not knowing how to English anymore. One thing I really appreciated is how comfortable Ashley Herring Blake is with writing explicit content (re: sex, masturbation) which in my honest opinion teenagers should be exposed to because it’s par of their reality (not all of them obviously).

How to Make a Wish is the story of two girls broken by their moms. Eva, the love interest has lost her mom and has no other family while Grace, the MC loves her mom more than anything but the latter cannot seem to *see* her. And God help me, I was so so angry at that woman, her behavior towards her daughter made my skin crawl (and the worst of it, is that I know that it is some people’s reality). She was manipulative, selfish and delusional.

Her mom listened and paid attention to everyone BUT her, prioritizing which ever guy is in her life at the moment, and the worst of it all is that she’s oblivious to how wrong and hurtful her actions are. She brushed off Grace each time she was concerned and tried to call her out on them and the girl can do nothing more than that because she loves her mom very much and keeps holding on to that sliver of hope that she’ll get better one day.

The cast of characters is probably one of the most realistic cast I’ve ever read in a YA book. They’re all flawed, fight and then make up. I loved the dynamic and energy that were carefully threaded into their relationships which made them unarguably believable.

Grace was such an amazing main character, strong and brave, spoke her mind loud and clear when needed, and didn’t let anybody squish her down. Unless that somebody is her mom. She’s also very closed off to people, had a hard time opening up to anyone in the fear of getting hurt, which she wasn’t even conscious of. Through her experiences, the author very subtly addressed and explained bisexuality. I loved her relationship with best friend Luca, who was basically a brother to her, he was very sweet, caring, supportive and protective of her. He also never shied away from telling her the truth as it is and even though she refused to hear it, she appreciated it in the long run.

Eva is a very complex character, I really liked how she had this kind of quiet vibe of wisdom and she didn’t run away and was never ashamed of her sadness, she embraced it. Again, through her experiences, Ashley Herring Blake tackles biraciality issues and what struggles some biracial kids may go through (and from what I read in #ownvoices reviews, it is one of the best portrayals out there). THEIR ROMANCE WAS HONESTLY SO PURE, OH MY HEART !! It is so true, gentle and heartwarming that I couldn’t help but root for them, they had their issues, which complicated things for them but they ultimately got past them.

All in all this was such a heartbreaking and -at the end- heart-mending story that deals with the loss of a parent, grief, toxic, abusive parenthood and the importance of having a strong support system. It is relentlessly hopeful, I loved how by the end not everything was fixed but you could see the light at the end of the tunnel.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read How to Make a Wish? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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The Paths we Choose – Where a Girl with Pink Hair Finds her *Maybe*

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Series : Lillac Town #2

Publication date : April 6th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Self-published

Genre : New Adult | Contemporary

Page Count : 118

Synopsis : Lily Ferrari enjoys having control over every detail of her life. Ever since she left her parents’ house to gain her freedom, she decided to fully own her autonomy. But an unexpected visit from her little brother may change the path she chooses to follow.
Add to that a casual fling with the bright architect Mayte González, and Lily’s summer is turning out more interesting than she expected. It certainly beats the routine of working extra shifts at Johnson’s Bookstore.
A few weeks before her college life begins, Lily needs to figure out if she’s wrong about the past or if she should continue to protect her heart at all costs.
Sometimes moving forward is only possible if you have the right people by your side.
 

Rating : 4 stars

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*I received an ecopy of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review*

(No Spoilers)

Today is an exciting day, because today is the first time in forever I post a review less than a week after finishing the book. Anyway, I’m not here to brag but to review this delightful book. A few weeks back, as I was trying to find diverse New Adult books to read this one called The Melody of You and Me (which I yet have to read *hides in shame) kept coming up so I decided to add it to my TBR and follow the author and just as I did, she was sending out Arcs for the second book is the companion series, I applied and GOT IT. I was so excited because I was hearing only great things. And the people were right, Maria Hollis knows how to write her F/F romances.

The writing, is good, simple and sturdy. No over flowery imagery or anything which I really appreciated because this way I could give 100% of my focus to the romance. The Paths We Choose is written from Lily‘s point of view, a Brazilian girl who is such a peculiar character. And no, peculiar isn’t bad, I actually cherish her very much. Let me explain myself. Lily has resting bitch face (me), often comes off as bitchy because she’s blunt and sarcastic (also me), she’s the mom of the group (guess what? me!), I could relate so much to every decision she’s made that it started creeping me out -in a good way. All of this being said, she’s a fantastic character, caring, loving and passionate.

I really loved how Mayte balanced her out. She’s a bisexual black cuban girl, very chill and easy going, she reminds her to breathe when she gets too intense. She’s also very sweet and loving. Can we talk about their romance? (well, yeah we can since it’s the major part of the story) It’s the most precious thing, it’s also sexy, very sexy. Anyway, I loved how their relationship progressed from a casual thing to this situation where they were willing to give a chance to a serious relationship. I also deeply appreciated how the author included a talk about boundaries as well as what they were and weren’t okay with sex wise. That’s something all books should have but that is unfortunately not very common.

One little quibble I had is that it felt a tiny (really, just a tiny) bit rushed and I would’ve wanted a bit more build up but considering how short the book is (it’s a novella) it’s perfectly understandable. And another thing is how cheesy that last scene was, I laughed sooo much but it was kind of cute as well and the epilogue made up for it because it was the MOST cozy, adorable thing ever.

The Paths we Choose branches out from the romance a bit, it gets into Lily’s relationship with her estranged family especially her teenage brother as he tries to make amends and actually be there for her. Another non-romantic part I absolutely adored is her friendship with her roommates, they’re absolute squad goals. Hope, Karen and Anika are always there for her to smack her on the back of the head and push her in the right direction and they’re family to her.

All in all this was a very quick to read, cute story that made me want to read about all the other characters, I now want and will read The Melody of You and Me in the next few weeks and I’m looking forward to reading book 3 because it’s about Hope and Karen which I predicted from reading this one so I’m VERY excited. The Paths we Choose is coming out tomorrow, so be sure to get it, you won’t regret it!


That’s it until next time.

Did you read The Paths We Choose? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Where are the Positive Female Friendships in YA?

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Hello guys !

Here’s the thing, I was a blissfully naive child (I was never that but let’s pretend) who read MG books with friendships taking front center, where girls kick ass together, have sleepovers and watch out for each other. And then I switched to YA, and I want to ask what happened to that? It just disappeared. Since I started reading YA so much and looking at it from a critical eyes, I started noticing this very -unsettling- pattern. Good, sturdy, girl friendships are so very rare in that age group and it’s REALLY weird because I was a teenager not so long ago and I remember my friends being such a big part of my daily life that I couldn’t wrap my head around this “trend” of making friendships either inexistant, superficial or straight up toxic. What’s up with that?

So I started paying closer attention with each and every book, analyzing how those friendships really worked, hoping that things would get better and… I didn’t like what my conclusions were because:

  1. Things didn’t get better.
  2. I don’t really understand why it is so common to rally girls against each other.
  3. I understand now why so many girls think it’s okay to tear each other down.

All of this being said, I did gather a pattern, the things that are common among those books. So in this post, I’ll talk about those, their impact (because, again they aren’t “just books” and they actually influence people especially children and teenagers), then I’ll get into what I want to see and recommendations to finish it off.

I’m obviously not saying all books have horrid friendships in them, but the ones that have them are one too many, and the books that actually do it right should be boosted, so stay until the end for the recommendations.

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Girl-on-girl hate

We’re in 2017, why is this even still a thing? Boom, done. No further arguments needed.

Okay, I’m kidding, come back. This is seriously so harmful especially when there is no basis for it and even worse when the basis is a guy. I’m aware that this is very heteronormative but it’s for a reason, I’ve never seen a book with a same gender romance or with non-binary folks have this pattern in them. Never. Anyway, back to our main subject. 65% of the time girls hate each other because of a guy that they both like, because that’s obviously more important than being a decent human-being. 25% of the time they hate each other just because (one of them is usually Queen-bee of the high school) and 10% it’s because of some ridiculous drama that could be worked out with a two sentence conversation.

I don’t think I need to explain why this is harmful but let’s do it anyway. How can we center useless hate in books for teens (not that it’s okay to do it in books for other age groups) and expect these girls to not pick up a thing or two – don’t argue with me on this, we may not realize it but our subconscious has its own schedule. How can a girl calling another girl a “bitch” among other names, slut shaming and othering ever be okay? When and who decided this would be a good idea? Because I’d like to have a nice chat about responsibility to readers and setting a good example.

In this category, you can also insert the main snowflake who doesn’t have girl friends because she’s special and not like other girls so she doesn’t get along with them. Spare me that nonsense.

Superficial or unexplored friendships

I have two scenarios here. Let’s start with the superficial friendship, the one where the girls bond over boys and practically never talk about anything else, the friendship is only used to explore things related to the romance which 1/ is ridiculous because we have a lot more to talk about and 2/ this furthers the stereotype of shallow girls that have nothing else to do but obsess over guys. Why would you do that? This is such an unrealistic portrayal and it also erases a lot of girl who are either, not interest in guys, or, OR, not interested in anyone really. This is how you perpetuate the false-normalcy of what “teenage girls should be like” at that age. And it’s a low blow.

Now with the unexplored friendship, this one is theoritically a good one. With emphasize on the theory part because we never get to see it. The MC supposedly has this best friend who loves her, supports her and everything but is she ever on page? No, or maybe rarely, even if they go to the same damn school. Which is unbelievable because how can you be friends with someone and they don’t show up for THE ENTIRE BOOK. That friendship is usually there as a page filler, nothing comes of it, it’s like the story is a few seconds late, like “the friend was here”. And I don’t like that. I want deep conversations and sleepovers and girl-days.

Toxic friendships

You know the kind right? Manipulative, makes the MC doubt everything including herself, makes fun of the MC and then says “she can’t take a joke” when she is hurt and so on and so forth. I can go all day. And what’s worse is that it’s never called out as bad or hurtful, the book just goes with the flow as this horrendous person sets the example of a horrendous friendship that should burn in hell, but it somehow tries to makes you think that it’s okay? yeah, no. Again, be careful with the subconscious, we absorb way more than we think we do.

Okay I’m done with the rant, now onto the positive stuff that, even though exists, we need a lot more of.

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There’s only one way it should be, really. The only acceptable way to portray female friendships in books is by it being a healthy, reciprocated love. Girls who lift each other up, see the best in each other, accept each other, flaws and all. Girls who have hours long conversations that can be deep, nonsensical (because we all have those moments) or just light hearted and fluffy. It can even be about boys, it just needs to be *among* other things. Girls who talk about science or art, even both, who go out on spontaneous adventures or just to the grocery store, who can cry on each other’s shoulders and laugh until their stomachs hurt, who can sit in comfortable silence too and can give each other space when needed. Oh, and girls who can call each other out on their questionnable behaviors, that’s important too.

I’m turning soft here but those are the things that actually happen and that need to be portrayed so that girls know what to expect out of a friendship, that they deserve to be treated well, that they can’t settle for less just because they’re scared of being alone if they leave a bad friendship.

Or. I wouldn’t mind it turning into a romance huhu. Being that bestfriends to lovers is my favorite trope and I yet have to see an F/F romance like that.

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As I predicted, I haven’t read nearly enough books for this so I asked some friends for help on twitter and SO MANY came through, so thank you ❤

Title = Goodreads page


That’s it until next time.

What do you think of the lack of Positive Female Friendships in YA?

Do you have any other book recommendations?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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To sum-up: March 2017

To Sum up March 2017

Hello guys !

This month, I’m on the extreme opposite of the mood spectrum compared to last month, I’ve been feeling good and happy and productive. And reading great books helped a lot with that.

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I’m all sunshine, unicorn poops and rainbows this month and I DON’T KNOW WHY. Not that I am complaining. So let’s see what’s new. Oh I got some book mail at the start of the month, all Shades of Magic trilogy (although to be fair ACOL showed up like 10 days ago) and History is all you left me so that got the month off to a good start. I’ve also made new friends in the community (especially on Twitter), people I’ve been admiring for a long time and the huge dork that I am is exstatic about that. By the way, I’m very active on there and my tweet go from lame to hilarious, to serious so follow me if you don’t want to miss out.

What else happened? Oh I’ve been feeling very “whole” if that makes sense, like I’m finally seeing all of me and that’s probably responsible for most of my good mood, as well as the fact that I’m back to the gym so I’ve been pouring all my stress there.

Oh and you know how I’m a medstudent, right? so a couple of weeks ago we organized, a bunch of friends and I, a small event for kids in the Children’s teaching hospital where we got them Teddy Bears. Each one got one and they got to be the parent and the Teddy Bears were sick and we got to explain things and procedures to them so that they were less afraid of Doctors and they had a blast which made me incredibly happy. LOOK IT:

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I also started mixing a bit of bullet journaling into my creative journal because God know I need all the help I can get to stay organized, especially with exams coming up soon again (yes it’s that time again. sigh)

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Title = Goodreads page

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Title = Review

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I still suck at blog-hopping.

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See, told you last month I would catch up! Now, I’m right on track with my 3 books a month for the challenge. Although, now that I’m almost done with review copies, I’m pretty sure I can do a lot more than that. Plus, this month I read for of these, that’s how I caught up, so it’s totally doable.

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I don’t know? I’m gonna wing it like a boss, that’s what’s gonna happen. I still have to figure out the month’s discussions since I’ve been short on those ones lately but I got a few ideas a couple of days ago so I just need to figure out my schedule. I also have a lot of reviews on hold and if I get around to writing all of them I might start posting 2 reviews a week or something like that, because THEY NEED TO GET OUT OF THE WAY.

Reading wise, I’m reading the last of my arcs this month which I’m SO unbelievably excited about, they all sound so amazing. So maybe after that, I’ll actually get to read the ebooks I own? Maybe. I’m also going to beta read a friend’s book which I’ve been ridiculously excited about which they have seen so they finally asked me to do it and I couldn’t refuse because I NEED THE FLOOF.

Lastly, I’m really hoping to pick up a Sensitivity project this month because I really need it, even though I’m not holding my breath haha. Anyway, if you could share my page, I’d forever be grateful.

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That’s it until next time.

Did you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

What books did you read this month? Oh! And if you have any posts you think I should check out, leave them in the comments.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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My Sister Rosa – The Sneaky Book that caught me off guard

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Publication date : January 27th, 2016goodreads

Publisher : Allen & Unwin

Genre : Young Adult | Thriller

Page Count: 398

Synopsis : What if the most terrifying person you’d ever met was your ten-year old sister?
‘I promise,’ said Rosa. ‘I won’t kill and I won’t make anyone else kill.’
I can’t see the loophole. Since the guinea pig there’s been nothing. Months now without Rosa killing as much as a mosquito.
As far as I know.

Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control.
Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa?
(From Goodreads)

Rating : 4 stars

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(No Spoilers)

This book was NOT what I expected, I expected a wild ride, full of big plot points and scary scenes but it wasn’t that. It was sneaky, it made me think nothing too bad would happen, that it’s all going to be fine, but NOOO, everything went downhill and nothing was fine. I was set on 3 stars but, the last few chapters snatched that 4th star from me and I could do nothing about it, because that ending was good. Mind-blowing. It went in a direction I didn’t expect it to go and it was amazing.

The writing is good and simple, not too many artifices but it fits the narrative. The book is written from a 17 year old boy’s POV and I could see that in the way the book is written, the book has an authentic teenager’s voice, but not a normal one, more like a teenager who’s had to mature too quickly and that’s exactly how Che (the MC) is. My Sister Rosa is written in present tense but there are some parts written in the past that are flashbacks, which makes the back and forth clear and avoids any confusion as to where in the book’s timeline one event  or another stands.

The main problem I had for most of the book is that it read more like a contemporary than a thriller, it followed the MC’s daily life, his crush, his friendships more than anything else. There wasn’t the sense of imminent danger and urgency that usually comes built-in with the genre. But on chapter 35, I realized that was clever move on the author’s part, I believed that everything would be alright and forgot that I SHOULDN’T TRUST THE HAPPINESS, I forgot that this was a thriller and that things aren’t supposed to be fine so it came back and bit me. But I must give credit where credit is due THAT ENDING IS BLOODY BRILLIANT. That’s all you need to know.

The portrayal of psychopathy in this book was unlike anything I’ve ever read before and it’s the most accurate as well. Like it’s said in the book: Not all psychopaths like to kill. And that was little Rosa’s case, she’s always, scheming, plotting, figuring out ways to go around restrictions, loop-holes in the promises Che makes her keep to do things she perceives as fun, like hurting people, lying, manipulating, etc… but she never expressed a direct desire to kill people. And that too explains how the book lacked that sense of danger.

One thing I loved about this book is while still having a plot to follow, the author took the time to incorporate social issues matters that need more awareness like the so-called color blindness and how it isn’t a good thing, biraciality, faith, street harassment, police brutality, among other things.

In that same train of thought, the cast of characters is extremely diverse as well. There is black rep, white-korean rep, non-binary rep, F/F romance, etc… and none of it was forced or used as filler as some may think. It just felt natural that these people were the way they were. We need more of that, thanks.

Che was a very interesting character to follow. He is an average boy, very clever and doing everything he can to protect the world from his little sister since his parents are in deep denial about the fact that there is a great chance their daughter may be a psychopath. And that is such a huge responsibility to lay upon a teenage boy, and that made him very mature and cautious while still keeping some of his innocence. It’s a weird mixture, I know, but it works. What was the most striking is to read that despite everything, he still loved his sister more than anything, he was always there for her, to hear her out even if he knows that she’ll never be capable of reciprocating that love and genuine interest.

Rosa is the perfect little girl, sweet and smart. In appearance. But she’s always one second late to doing things that come naturally to other people like smiling, crying and laughing. As the book progresses and she finds new ways to do what she want to do, she gets creepier, scarier and starts making bigger, bolder gestures. She doesn’t have any filters with Che, he’s the only person she’s her wholesome self with, most of the conversations she had with him, the things she said to him made me shudder, especially since she did so with such calm and composure. It was normal to her. All of it.

I knew I wanted to read this book the moment I heard of it; And although it wasn’t what I expected, it was still a very fascinating read.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read My Sister Rosa If so, what did you think?

What did you think of the ending? Did you expect that to happen?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Relating to Characters: Is it necessary to Enjoy a Book?

Relating to Characters

Hello guys !

I have a confession, I’ve had a blogging brain fart this week , I spent all of last week trying to think up a discussion topic that I feel inspired to write about (I have quite a few in my notebook but none I really want to talk about right now) until literally yesterday (writing this on Sunday) when I finished a book that I liked significantly less than I expected. It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the word, I just felt… disconnected, so I started wondering whether it was because I didn’t care for the main character, couldn’t relate to him or something else. (Spoiler, it’s something else). Anyway, I thought I’d bring my internal ramblings and debates to the blog, because that’s what it’s for, right?

As I started thinking about this topic and trying to work out how to format it (I still don’t know, going with the flow on this one) I got flashbacks of reviews I read from time to time of people saying “I couldn’t get into it because I couldn’t relate with the MC’s experiences” or “I adored this because it reminded me of when I went through similar things so I felt comforted” There’s nothing wrong with neither statement, I think I’ve made the latter before a few times, I think it’s a matter of how you approach books, the relationship we build with characters as avid readers is very personal.

This post is in no way about how things SHOULD be, it’s more a matter of giving my own perspective and starting a discussion with all of you on how important relating to characters is. Let’s get this started, shall we?

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To me personally, wanting to relate to every character in order to enjoy the book is very limiting and a bit unrealistic, because I can’t expect to relate to EVERY character, not even most characters. Actually, the ones I relate to are very few, so can you see the flaw in that logic if I were to apply it on myself? First of all, Muslim characters are pretty rare, add to that, North African and you get ZERO (No, Morocco isn’t in the Middle East, thank you). I have NEVER fully related with a character. And my identity dictates a lot of how I see and live things. So, I can never find -for example- a romance that resembles something I’ve been through 100%, a family dynamic that’s like mine, career choices and what went into them that reflect my own. That being said, I still relate in *some* aspects.

Secondly, I read to expand my knowledge (for enjoyment as well, duh!) to discover experiences like mine elsewhere, people who may experience the same things and deal with them in completely different ways or people who experience things that are entirely different. People outside my ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion… That helps me understand the world as a whole, not just the bubble I’m living in.

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If you remember, a few months back, I wrote a post about “Reading Books at the Wrong Time” and talked about relating too much, this is something similar to that. To me, relating is either a good thing that gives me all the fuzzies and/or makes me want to scream “YEEEES!”, makes me feel seen and understood or, OR it’s the exact opposite because relating tends to reveal things about yourself, or confront you to things you don’t really want to see in yourself, things you don’t like and would much rather ignore the existence of, or things you just didn’t know were there.

In a way, reading about experiences outside my own feels safer. There are books I read recently that I made me realize some things about myself, and although I adored said books, those are things I’m not 100% ready to face yet. And if I was still in denial, I think I would’ve hated them instead of being drawn to them like I am right now.

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I honestly think that you don’t need to understand a character to enjoy reading about them, you don’t even need to like them. Empathy is the only emotion you need because just like in real life you don’t need to see where a person comes from to co-exist with them, feel for them, communicate with them, or even be friends with them, you don’t necessarily need to know in detail what goes on in the character’s brain to be able to read about them and even love their story. I don’t know, man! That’s just how I see things. Saying that you don’t like a story because you can’t relate could offend some people (not me, but I know it could) because that story might reflect their own experiences and that deligitimizes what they have gone through. Again, my opinion. You might not agree with it and that’s fine.

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Oh yeah, I know about the “the characters were too villain-like for me to enjoy” or some variation of that and I. just. don’t. get it. I think those are the best characters. When well done, they’re fascinating and the most interesting to read about. To know how their brains work, how things click, fold and unfold and what drives them. I love it. I like likeable characters but I like these ones as much if not more. “Like” isn’t then word to be honest. I appreciate them more. And I sure as hell can’t relate with those. Morally grey? Maybe, in some aspects. But not the villains. Never the villains. And I like reading about them all the same.

Anyway, that was my take on relating to characters and I’d be very interested to see what all of you think.


That’s it until next time.

Do you need to relate with characters to enjoy a book?

What makes you like/dislike a character?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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

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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

God Smites Quote.png

*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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