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 ❤

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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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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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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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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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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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Why don’t I see myself? Muslim Representation in Books

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Hello guys!

So… I’m a Muslim.  I know I’ve said it in a couple of posts before but I’ve never really talked about it, and that was a while ago. For the new-comers, hello! I’m Fadwa and I’m a Muslim Moroccan girl –  Arab-Amazighi. That being said, I am not writing this whole post just to introduce myself, fret not, it has another purpose, which is clear from the title, I want to talk about Muslim representation in books.

I’ve had this topic on the back of my mind for quite some while, it is something I knew I wanted to talk about, I just didn’t know when, or how. But considering the shit show that the world has turned into lately (more than usual, mind you), with the Muslim Ban and the terrorist attack on a mosque in Quebec, I thought it was time to speak up, to tell my own story and not let media define me and my religion. Not gonna lie, even thousands of miles away, this last week was rough, I felt exhausted and terrified but most of all useless, because I felt like I needed to do more for my community, and my fellow Muslims directly affected by the things that have been happening. That’s where this post comes in.

I’ve been a reader ever since I could remember, but do you know the number of books that I read in my 20 years of existence that have good Muslim representation that are NOT solely focused on religion? Three. Yeah, you read that right, and I’ve read hundreds of books. To be honest, before last year, I didn’t seek them out because the media portrays us in such a negative way that I thought books are just the extension of that and the few that I had come across (all not #Ownvoices mind you, because before getting involved in the diverse community I didn’t know that was a thing) only confirmed my theory and made me stay away even more from books with Muslim protagonists.

Growing up, I wish I had a book -even just one- for which I could say “THAT’S ME!”, in which I could see myself, my family, my friends, my daily life. That would’ve mattered, that would’ve helped in shaping me as an adult. And looking back, now that I am aware of the importance of seeing one’s self in the books one reads, I can see how that impacted me as a little girl who spent most of her time buried in books. Reading books that didn’t represent me made me feel like, on a larger scale, who I was and how I identified didn’t matter enough, like I had to hide who I was in order to fit in, and that is just sad. I know that I wasn’t alone in feeling that way and that’s even sadder. But I don’t want little girls now to feel that way. We have the responsibility to give them the books they need and deserve.

Just like with many other minorities, people know about Muslims what they see on tv, hear on the radio, what they read on the internet, or gossips they hear from their friends or neighbors. What with Islamophobia climbing up at dangerous rates, all of us need to work harder than ever to deconstruct those stereotypes that have been pinned on us for a very long time because we can’t afford staying silent when those acts of hatred threaten our lives, when people stop just talking and start acting on their bigotry. We are 100% scared but we are fighting back. And I think books have such a huge part in that.

Books are the way people get educated, books are the source of all knowledge, so if we get good positive representation in books and we get a lot of accurate books about us, our voices will eventually get louder than bigotry, and they will finally be heard. That is why we need more Muslim publishing imprints, more Muslim publishers, authors, protagonists, bloggers, librarians and so on and so forth. Because there aren’t nearly enough Muslims in the book industry to represent us the right way.

Before getting into bookish Muslim things, I need to break some stereotypes:

  • We are not terrorists. I just feel like we are repeating ourselves here. ISLAM is a peaceful religion. And terrorism isn’t an Islam thing, it’s a hateful people thing and there are plenty of terrorist acts perpetrated by non-Muslims, it’s just that the media doesn’t call it what it is. I wish I didn’t feel the urge to apologize every time there is a terrorist attack. But I do.
  • We are not a monolith. Islam is a very diverse religion, we are a people from different ethnicities, sexualities, genders, socio-economic backgrounds etc…
  • Muslim women are not oppressed. Some cultures do oppress women, but they just happen to follow Islam. Islam as a religion values women a lot. If a woman wears a Hijab it’s because she wants to, not because her father/brother/husband made her do it so stop trying to “save her”.
  • We are not backward thinking. We believe in Allah, yes. But we also believe in science, progress, equality, freedom of speech and belief, and many many other things.
  • Forced marriage isn’t part of Islam. Again, some cultures do that, but they just happen to be Muslims. Arranged marriage is, which happens with consent from both parts and both can say no and call it off at any time.
  • Each one of us has a different, unique relationship with their faith. The Quran (our holy book) can be interpreted in various ways which means that beyond some pilar things in Islam, other parts of it differ from one person to the other and it doesn’t necessary mean either one is better.

Now that I think I covered the common misconceptions, let’s move on to books, because that’s why you’re here, right?  Here are a few things I need more/less off when it comes to Muslim representation.

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Things that need to disappear

  • Picking and choosing. How do you choose what you want to use from a religion and dispose of the rest? Explain the logic to me, please and thank you.
  • Calling our beliefs mythology. Repeat after me. JINS ARE NOT MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURES. You’re making a joke out of yourself by doing that and showing your very real, very obvious lack of research. Don’t do that.
  • Books where the Muslim boy becomes a terrorist. Pretty self-explanatory, I don’t need to elaborate on that.
  • Books where the Muslim girl needs saving. And ends up being saved from oppression by -typically- a white non-Muslim person. Just, no.
  • Any kind of book that looks at Islam with a negative lens. We have plenty of that everywhere, we don’t need it in our books too.

Things we need more of

  • MORE #OWNVOICES BOOKS. Let us tell our own stories. We live them so we are the best people to tell them. Our narratives are so rich and diverse, you’ll never read the same story twice.
  • Muslim protagonists who slay dragons and save kingdoms (while taking breaks for prayer times, obviously!)
  • More diverse family dynamics. The popular thing is for the family to be very conservative and while that is the case for a lot of people (and I don’t have a problem with that), it is not for me and a lot of other people. I need to see that reflected in the books I read.
  • Muslim girls who have crushes, go out, travel, have big ambitious careers because those are the girls we are and that is the image that the world needs to see for it to realize that we really are fine and we don’t need any saving.
  • Muslim kids that get to figure out themselves, their sexualities and everything else, kids who get to make mistakes because it is okay to be lost and find yourself in the middle of your own chaos.

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Title = Goodreads Page

This list focuses on YA but has non-YA books as well.

Books you can read now

22521951Written in the StarsAisha Saeed

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

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Sofia Khan is Not Obliged – Ayisha Malik

“Brilliant idea! Excellent! Muslim dating? Well, I had no idea you were allowed to date.’ Then he leaned towards me and looked at me sympathetically. ‘Are your parents quite disappointed?’
Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene.
As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ?

20898019Ms. MarvelG. Willow Wilson

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!

 

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She wore Red trainers – Naïma B. Robert

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

 

17345748And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini

In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.

Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

Does my Head look big in this? – Randa Abdel-Fattah79876

When sixteen-year-old Amal decides to wear the hijab full-time, her entire world changes, all because of a piece of cloth…
Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab full- time and everyone has a reaction. Her parents, her teachers, her friends, people on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is, even if it does make her a little different from everyone else.
Can she handle the taunts of “towel head,” the prejudice of her classmates, and still attract the cutest boy in school? Brilliantly funny and poignant, Randa Abdel-Fattah’s debut novel will strike a chord in all teenage readers, no matter what their beliefs.
 

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The story of Maha – Sumayya lee

The child of a forbidden marriage, Maha grows up happily in Cape Town until her world changes forever when her parents are killed at a political rally. At the age of eight, Maha is reclaimed by her loving but staid Indian grandparents and taken to live in Durban. Growing up in the claustrophobia of the suburbs what she dubs Slumurbia Maha reveals a love for the outrageous as she clashes with the conventions of her community. Always a free spirit, she soon learns how to weave around the strict boundaries of Muslim life and as a rebellious teenager, nothing holds her back from experiencing first love, a bit of partying and a tantalising romance (all between prayers, of course). But when it counts the most, rules must be obeyed and as she heads towards her twentieth birthday, there is no way Maha can avoid Marriage to a Suitable Boy. With refreshing energy, Maha treats us to the ups and downs of her passionate (though sometimes quite vulnerable) young heart, and a life in which she’s not quite in charge.

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God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems – Ishara Deen

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?

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The Languages of Miracles – Rajia Hassib

Samir and Nagla Al-Menshawy appear to have attained the American dream. After immigrating to the United States from Egypt, Samir successfully works his way through a residency and launches his own medical practice as Nagla tends to their firstborn, Hosaam, in the cramped quarters of a small apartment. Soon the growing family moves into a big house in the manicured New Jersey suburb of Summerset, where their three children eventually attend school with Natalie Bradstreet, the daughter of their neighbors and best friends. More than a decade later, the family’s seemingly stable life is suddenly upended when a devastating turn of events leaves Hosaam and Natalie dead and turns the Al-Menshawys into outcasts in their own town.
Narrated a year after Hosaam and Natalie’s deaths, Rajia Hassib’s heartfelt novel follows the Al-Menshawys during the five days leading up to the memorial service that the Bradstreets have organized to mark the one-year anniversary of their daughter’s death. While Nagla strives to understand her role in the tragedy and Samir desperately seeks reconciliation with the community, Khaled, their surviving son, finds himself living in the shadow of his troubled brother. Struggling under the guilt and pressure of being the good son, Khaled turns to the city in hopes of finding happiness away from the painful memories home conjures. Yet he is repeatedly pulled back home to his grandmother, Ehsan, who arrives from Egypt armed with incense, prayers, and an unyielding determination to stop the unraveling of her daughter’s family. In Ehsan, Khaled finds either a true hope of salvation or the embodiment of everything he must flee if he is ever to find himself.

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Painted Hands – Jennifer Zobair

Muslim bad girl Zainab Mir has just landed a job working for a post-feminist, Republican Senate candidate. Her best friend Amra Abbas is about to make partner at a top Boston law firm. Together they’ve thwarted proposal-slinging aunties, cultural expectations, and the occasional bigot to succeed in their careers. What they didn’t count on? Unlikely men and geopolitical firestorms.
When a handsome childhood friend reappears, Amra makes choices that Zainab considers so 1950s—choices that involve the perfect Banarasi silk dress and a four-bedroom house in the suburbs. After hiding her long work hours during their courtship, Amra struggles to balance her demanding job and her unexpectedly traditional new husband.
Zainab has her own problems. She generates controversy in the Muslim community with a suggestive magazine spread and friendship with a gay reporter. Her rising profile also inflames neocons like Chase Holland, the talk radio host who attacks her religion publicly but privately falls for her hard. When the political fallout from a terrorist attempt jeopardizes Zainab’s job and protests surrounding a woman-led Muslim prayer service lead to violence, Amra and Zainab must decide what they’re willing to risk for their principles, their friendship, and love.

Books to look forward to

29346880The Gauntlet – Karuna Riazi (March 28th 2017)

A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.
When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.
Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?

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That Thing we call a heart – Sheba Karim (May 9th 2017)

Shabnam Qureshi is a funny, imaginative Pakistani-American teen attending a tony private school in suburban New Jersey. When her feisty best friend, Farah, starts wearing the headscarf without even consulting her, it begins to unravel their friendship. After hooking up with the most racist boy in school and telling a huge lie about a tragedy that happened to her family during the Partition of India in 1947, Shabnam is ready for high school to end. She faces a summer of boredom and regret, but she has a plan: Get through the summer. Get to college. Don’t look back. Begin anew.
Everything changes when she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack, and meets her there every afternoon. Shabnam begins to see Jamie and herself like the rose and the nightingale of classic Urdu poetry, which, according to her father, is the ultimate language of desire. Jamie finds Shabnam fascinating—her curls, her culture, her awkwardness. Shabnam finds herself falling in love, but Farah finds Jamie worrying.
With Farah’s help, Shabnam uncovers the truth about Jamie, about herself, and what really happened during Partition. As she rebuilds her friendship with Farah and grows closer to her parents, Shabnam learns powerful lessons about the importance of love, in all of its forms.

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Amina’s voice – Hena Khan (March 14th 2017)

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.
Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.

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The Authentics – Abdi Nazemian (August 8th 2017)

Daria Esfandyar is Iranian-American and proud of her heritage, unlike some of the “Nose Jobs” in the clique led by her former best friend, Heidi Javadi. Daria and her friends call themselves the Authentics, because they pride themselves on always keeping it real.
But in the course of researching a school project, Daria learns something shocking about her past, which launches her on a journey of self-discovery. It seems everyone is keeping secrets. And it’s getting harder to know who she even is any longer.
With infighting among the Authentics, her mother planning an over-the-top sweet sixteen party, and a romance that should be totally off limits, Daria doesn’t have time for this identity crisis. As everything in her life is spinning out of control—can she figure out how to stay true to herself?

30688435Exit West – Mohsin Hamid (March 7th 2017)

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.
Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
 

The City of Brass – S.A Chakraborty (November 2017)

When Nahri, a young con artist in eighteenth century Cairo, accidentally summons a powerful djinn warrior to her side, she finds herself drawn into the political machinations of the royal court of Daevabad, the ancient, magical city of brass. Descendant of a powerful family thought to be destroyed, blessed with the gift of healing, Nahri soon realizes her very presence threatens to reignite a centuries-old religious war between the feuding djinn tribes. Hoping to keep her head, she forms an alliance with a fiery prince who dreams of revolutionizing his father’s corrupt reign. But she soon learns that working with the enemy—even to make peace—can have deadly consequences.

Saints and Misfits – S. K. Ali (June 13th 2017)

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?
Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.
And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.
While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?  

This Promise I will Keep – Aisha Saeed (Sometime in 2017)

In it, a Pakistani teenager enters indentured servitude to pay her family’s debts, and must choose between pursuing an education and freedom or the chance to save her village from a dangerous threat.

Mirage – Somaya Daud (November 6th 2017)

YA fantasy/SF trilogy inspired by the author’s Moroccan background, in which a poor girl from an isolated moon must become the body double to the cruel imperial princess, and learns that life in the royal palace is far more dangerous and complicated than she imagined. Publication of the first book is planned for fall 2017.


That’s it until next time.

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

If you have any other recommendations, leave them in the comments.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Award #13: I’m a Mysterious Potato… NOT.

Mystery Award.png

Hello Guys!

Long time no Awards seen, am I right? Well, I’m back today with one that I haven’t seen going around much so I decided why not do it now. It’s the Mystery Blogger Award for which I was tagged by two lovely people who are Jasmine @ How Useful it is and Jamie @ Book Pandamonium. This award was created by Okoto Enigma and this is what it is for:

“Mystery Blogger Award”  is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.

The Rules:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • You nominate 10 – 20 people
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

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I have no idea if this will be repetitve or not, but here we go:

  1. I used to drink lots of milk as a kid but now my stomach can’t take it. I may be Lactose intolerant.
  2. On allergies. Cats kill me. I cannot be in the same room as one or hell breaks down on me.
  3. I don’t have a favorite movie though I watch a lot.
  4. I like both Tea and Coffe but if I had to choose, it’ll be Tea everytime.
  5. I had short hair my whole childhood so now I can’t seem to be able to cut it above chest length. IT HURTS MY SOUL.
  6. I used to paint a lot as a kid and now I’m slowling getting back into it.

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1. What’s your favorite book genre ?

Well, we’re off to an awful start because I. CAN’T. CHOOSE. I love Fantasy, contemporary AND Historical Fiction equally. They’re all my babies. Plus, I get bored easily so I switch between the three quite often.

2. What’s your guilty pleasure?

Mmm, I don’t know? Like, I’ve never thought of something as a guilty pleasure. I own up to my actions haha. No. I just don’t know what it is. I’m sure I have more than one that I don’t even consider as such.

3. Dogs or cats?

Refer to fact 2 to have your answer. I can’t be a cat person even if I wanted to. I mean I like cats, I even had one before this allergy ordeal but I ADORE dogs, my goal in life is to have a house of my own to have a dog, because my mom doesn’t want one at home *sigh* even though she had one when her and my dad first got married. Yes, that’s how much I love them.

4. Best book you read this year?

JUST ONE? What kind of question is this. But fair enough, if I had to choose just one that I want everyone to read, it’ll be Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I cannot express how grateful I am that this book exists, just go read it, PEUH-LEASE !! Here’s my review to help convince  you.

5. Weird Question: What was your favorite/weirdest dream?

I don’t have a favorite dream but the weirdest one is one that I’ve been having since I was a kid, I don’t know what it, I just know that it is the same one, like when I’m dreaming I know but once I wake up I have NO idea, I just know that I’ve had it gazillion times before. Also, when I was a kid it used to be a nightmare but now it’s not?!

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1. What do you like to do most this time of year?

NOT study for exams. Like, literally ANYTHING else because that’s ALL I do this time of the year and it is killing me. I’ve been at it for a month now so I’m stressed, exhausted and freaking out. I’m fine though (Send help).

2. Did you already plan for how many books you will read next year?

Well, at least 70 hopefully because I read more thant that this year, though I’ll be putting my goal on Goodreads to 60. It is 10 more books than last year’s challenge but still not too stressful because I’m giving myself a comfortable margin.

3. What is your #1 goal next year?

Survive 3rd year of medschool? Sorry ahaha. My brain is overpowered with everything study related right now. One of my main goals for next year is to draw/paint/hand-letter more frequently. Like, I do that from time to time right now but I want to make more time for it and thus do it more often.

4. Are you happy with the direction your blog is heading?

VERY happy, actually. I’ve got a new design, recently hit 500 followers (I still can’t believe it), and have a general vision for what I want my blog to be next year content wise. So, yeah! I’m pretty satisfied with the direction it’s headed.

5. Weird: What extreme do you go to take care of books you own?

Mmm… None? None that I consider an extreme that is hahaha.

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(Didn’t want to use any of the old ones because of the graphics hahaha)


I Tag: 

My Questions:

  1. What’s one pet-peeve you have that you cannot handle above all others?
  2. What’s your favorite Tv-show? Movie? Book?
  3. What’s your main reading resolution for next year?
  4. What’s one hidden skill you have?
  5. Funny Question: What’s one emoji that you use out of place or that no one else uses?

That’s it until next time.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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TAG #30: The Character Dating Profile

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Hello guys!

So, a couple of weeks ago I was on The Orangutan Librarian‘s blog and saw this genius tag so I contemplated whether to do it or not. I decided against it because I have so many tags to do still. Unless. Unless I am tagged for it obviously. And as the marvellous friend that she is, Kat @ Life and Other Disasters tagged me so what can I do? THIS IS DESTINY. But then I had another problem. WHAT CHARACTER DO I CHOOSE? I love so many of them that it is impossible for me to make up my mind. When I told her so, she naturally suggested my baby Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows. And so we begin !

The Rules:

date-1Kaz Brekker (Rietvield is his original name buut he doesn’t use it anymore)

date-217 years old. But Fadwa always forgets that.

date-6Myself… and Inej.You tell her, I slit your throat.

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First of all, I am very attractive. Tall, pale skin, black eyes, black hair trimmed short on the sides. My jaw is so sharp, it can cut diamonds. A wear black business-like clothing and let’s not forget about my crow’s head cane. Oh, I also have 2 tattoos.

date-7Euh… I believe in any God that can help move along my scheming… Or none at all.

date-8Ruling Ketterdam obivously. And making loads and loads of money.

date-3Scheming and seeing my brilliant plans unfold. Torturing people and kicking everyone’s ass. Especially those who underestimate me. (Forgive him, he can be a little cocky)

date-4If I tell you, I’d have to kill you.

date-5-2Inej. Again, tell her and your life is mine to take. (She’s the only one who can get close enough without getting her head snapped)  

date-9Her. Me. Conquering the roofs of Ketterdam.


I Tag:


That’s it until next time.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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20 ‘TIL I’M 20: 20 Lessons Books taught me

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Hello guys!

In my last wrap-up I told you that I was making this series of posts -or whatever you’d like to call it- to celebrate my twentieth birthday coming up in a week, since I’m not really doing anything IRL, I thought I’d take advantage of my little corner of the internet and basically annoy everyone by talking about it non-stop. Anyway. I was thinking about something to tie the main purpose of the blog with life lessons and my huge wisdom as a 20 year old potato and I came up with this not so genius idea.

We can’t deny that being huge readers and books taking up (more like eating up) a considerable chunk of our lives, they are bound to affect us in more ways than one. In the way we think, we see the world, even in the way we act to some extent. So, in that train of thought, I’ll tell you a little bit about the things that books taught ME. I frankly don’t know if I’ll be able to come up with 20, but I’ll squeeze this brain of mine until I do. Shall we, start?

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The whole premise of the book stands on the fact that the twins kept each a secret from each other, which dug a ravine between them. They were so close and then kept drifting apart until they stopped talking altogether and started despising each other. All of this FOR WHAT? Because they couldn’t live with the secrets they were keeping. And I realized that sometimes secrets do more damage than good.

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Now listen up. My sister is 12, so that makes an 8 years gap right there and when I was younger I had a lot of trouble dealing with that, like it was too big for us to have any shared interests, so I bossed her around A LOT (especially when I was having my nasty teenagehood crisis) and so on. Yes I wasn’t always this fluff-ball of a potato. Don’t get me wrong, my behaviour changed a couple of years back but it’s not until I read the book that I realized the years that I wasted. I know Rhy and Kell are not blood brothers but their relationship is as precious, they love each other and would do anything for one another. Seeing how much time they spent together made me want to do the same with my baby sister.

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You know very well I can’t make this post without some HP. Well, the first thing I ever learnt from a book I did from Luna Lovegood. Everybody was saying she is crazy and seeing things, never taking her word on anything and she still was so confident with who she was, she never let it get to her or change her. And because of that she was my favorite character in the series (And I’m sure if you’ve been following me for a while, you’d know that).

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This is pretty self-explanatory if you’ve read the book. Or even, if you just know who the girl is (if you don’t, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING?). Malala is a true inspiration to all girls -and people- out there. She was shut down, shot, almost killed and NEVER gave up on her fight for girls’ education in her country. And that is such a HUGE motivation to get over minor daily obstacles that get thrown my way and that can sometimes stray me away from my goals a bit.

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I’ve known grief and trust me, I know how easy it is to just close yourself to the world and wallow in pain and sorrow BUT that is never the best solution. Yes, in the process of grieving, there are things you have to learn to do alone, things that no one can teach you or even help you with BUT remember that you’re not the only one that’s grieving and people around you can help you get your closure as much as you can help them get theirs. And I’ve seen that in this book, with Lennie closing herself to her family and feeling like her sister was only hers to grieve and it’s not until she re-opened up to her family that she was able to make progress.

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I know this is a no brainer but back when I was a kid it wasn’t as obvious to me. I was a hard worker and loved studying and as a result to that I was top of my class more often than not and some people tried to shame me for it. Ridiculous, I KNOW. But the thing is, that really affected me and I started hiding it, I avoided participating in class, when I was asked if I studied a certain thing I’d say no and so on… But when Hermione entered the picture and I saw how big of an asset her brains were, and how comfortable she was with being smart, I realized I could be too.

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This is what I struggle with the most to be honest. Like, someone could think we are the closest of friends and pour their heart and soul out to me and I’d still be unable to tell them anything too personal about myself. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I CAN’T. And Kaz has that as well… x100. But reading that book, I realized that people are worth it if only they get a chance. And I want to work on that.

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There are a gazillion of lessons one can learn from this book, it is truly a brilliant one. (READ IT!) but what stood out to me the most is to what lengths Miel was willing to go -and went- to protect Sam because she loved him THAT much and could do anything for him. And there are people like that, who deserve the world and for whom you’d risk anything.

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This book isn’t out yet (not until February) but as soon as it is out and if you love historical fiction, snatch it. But basically, a girl and a woman meet working in a circus and form an extraordinary bond over just a few months that people can’t form over a life time, they were truely like this little family who care deeply for each other.

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This is such a lovely but underrated book. A girl dies and she’s a ghost and has to come to term with her death as well as everyone moving on after her. She couldn’t do that because she blamed some people for what happened to her so she just couldn’t be okay and move on to whatever is coming next. So if you translate that in everyday life, grudges basically hold us back and at some point we have to let go to be able to move on.

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I started off being in love with this book but a thing happened that triggered me (yes, really, I’m not using that word lightly or just for show) so I ended up hating it. But, that didn’t prevent me from learning something from it. More often than not, people are more than what you see in them because at the end of the day they only show parts and bits of them they choose to show. Either because they’re ashamed of the other parts or because they don’t trust you enough.

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This is pretty similar to the last but I think mentioning it is important. This is another book I didn’t like but I still learnt something from anyway. A person can seem perky and happy, and like they don’t have a single worry (especially on the internet) but things are not always the way they seem, that day could be the hardest one they’ve ever had, they could be struggling with numerous thing. And this can serve as a reminder to never take people’s state of mind as well as mental health and remember to always be kind.

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This book was my first venture into Magical Realism. Of ever. I did a conscious effort to stay away from it because I didn’t think it would be something I’d like. But I fell in love with it completely and I know for sure that I will read more Magical Realism in the near future because if those other books can make me feel half what this book did it’ll be amazing.

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This book. I don’t have enough word in my vocabulary, all languages combined, to describe how amazing, important and heartbreaking it is. Like really, read it. This is required reading. It follows slavery from the 1700’s until modern days. And even though people thought they were free of slavery, they stil were slaves to a system that could find loop-holes to laws that were theoritically set to protect them. And that was horrifying to read  about.

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I admired Aaron so freaking much in this book. He is one of the best, strongest characters I’ve ever read about in my life and he literally had one of shittiest lives in bookish history but he fought for it, he fought to make his life better, to be more happy than not. SO MUCH. He kept pushing through and that was so inspiring and motivational.

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This book explores the regrets/what ifs of life because the author tells up about the conversations he wished he had with his grand-mother while she was still alive. How he wishe we spent time with her when he was living with her. And that made me think that, if you have a good relationship with your family, there’s no reason whatsoever not to take some time to spend with them. I know that I tend to take my family for granted, I often, find myself thinking: “They’re here! So I can always spend time with them tomorrow.” But what if there’s not?

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Well, I already knew this because my best friend means the world to me and I know she’d do anything for me. But still, the friendship in this book was my favorite thing and it served as a good reminder.

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Patroclus (little pumpkin that’s too precious for this world) loves Achilles unconditionally even when the latter was an ungrateful little bastard. But still, he loved him, thinking that that could be enough to make him better and change some of his decisions which didn’t happen. Love and only love isn’t enough sometimes to fix things and change them for the better.learnt-19

The protagonist in this doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life or what his future prospects will be but by the end of the book he realized that that was a necessary stage he had to go through to find himself, grow confident and find what he likes and where his life was headed. Which is absolutely true. But not knowing is fucking scary, I know it, you know it and we can’t handle it. It is hard, really. But we should learn to be okay with it.

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Well, this is pretty self-explanatory. And the lesson I’m most grateful for, because just this one lesson will teach me a hundred more. Because diversity = More stories to read = More experiences to witness = More lessons to learn.


That’s it until next time.

Now it is your turn to tell me. What are some lessons books taught you? Do any of mine apply to you?

Do you learn things even from the books that you don’t like?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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