Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Books I’d Want With Me Stranded On A Desert Island

I’m gong to cheat this week and include series as one because lets face it There is no way I can just pick 10.

The Daevabad trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

We Hunt the Flame duology by Hafsah Faizal

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

The Beautiful Quartet by Renee Ahdieh

The Gilded Wolves trilogy by Roshani Chokshi

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

What books would you take?

Books by Muslim Authors, YA Books

This Is My Truth by Yasmin Rahman – Book Review

Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is incredible and should be read by both teens and adults.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Best friends Amani and Huda are getting nervous about their GCSEs – and their future beyond school, which they’re both wildly unprepared for. Shy, quiet Amani has an outwardly picture-perfect family – a father who is a successful TV presenter, a loving mother, and an adorable younger brother – while confident and impulsive

Huda has grown up with over-affectionate foster parents who are now expecting a baby of their own. Both girls are jealous of each other’s seemingly easy life, without realising the darkness or worries that lie underneath. Then Huda witnesses Amani’s father hitting her mother, and Amani’s biggest secret is suddenly out. As Amani convinces Huda to keep quiet by helping her with her own problems, a prank blog starts up at school, revealing students’ secrets one by one. Will this anonymous blogger get hold of Amani’s secret too? Will Huda keep quiet?

Trigger warning: Domestic violence

This book deals with domestic violence in desi and Muslim communities and it is an incredibly difficult topic to deal with but Yasmin deals with so sensitively and it’s so well written. She also discusses what it can be like for a young girl in the foster care system.

The story is told from the point of view of Amani and Huda who are best friends in the last couple weeks of school. Huda is more outspoken and confident whereas Amani is more reserved and introverted but they both get along really well together. Seeing the way the teens were during the last few weeks literally transported me back to my last few weeks of school. While Amani’s school had a prank war, we had egg and flour fights. The stress and relief and excitement and worry with your normal coming to an end after five years was so well written in the story. I could feel it and remember when it was me. Honestly it made me real nostalgic, although I do not miss exam stress.

Both Amani and Huda think the other has the perfect family but it really shows how no one truly knows what is happening in the home and that on the outside your family can seem picture perfect but inside you are just trying to survive each day.

Huda had a lot of insecurities and struggled to think of a future for herself because of how she has been moved around in the foster care system. How can she think of a future plan when her whole life can be uprooted in any moment? Do her foster parents truly love her or will they discard her now that they have their own baby coming? These things run through her mind pushing her into asking Amani to teach her to be a “perfect daughter” and it really brought into question, what is a perfect daughter and can any girl be a perfect daughter?

These are the things that make you you, the things I love about you.

None of us are perfect, we make mistakes, we hurt those we love even by accident and yet desi culture demands perfection from girls from a young age. Their worth is based on how “perfect” they are. They decide what makes the girl a good or perfect daughter and it always includes being obedient, submissive, quiet, and able to handle all domestic chores without complaint. When we aren’t that, we are labelled rebellious and bad.

Huda is attacked in this way by some characters in the book too. She thinks that because she isn’t that type of daughter her foster parents won’t want to keep her after they have their own child. Her insecurity about being loved was so heartbreaking to read. No child should be made to feel that they aren’t loved and love shouldn’t be conditional on whether they meet certain criteria. Even though her foster parents are incredible and love her for the way she is. Society pressure can still make a teen feel insecure about it.

Amani lives in an abusive toxic household but one that looks picture perfect from the outside. Everyone sees a wonderful caring father and yet no one sees who he truly is behind closed doors. So who would even believe her mother or Amani if they spoke up? Amani’s terror and struggle to cope and hide this from everyone was so difficult to read. How despite being terrified herself she still had to be there for her little brother. How this affected both their perceptions on how you should treat your spouse, what marriage is like, how a woman should be treated and how a man should be towards their wife. Amani says she would rather be single and honestly I felt the same at her age. Marriage was a prison, it was suffocating and violent. But I was really glad to see there was a contrast with Huda’s foster parents being in a healthy happy relationship.

I thought that’s what marriage was – not being happy.

Amani would take on the burden of “fixing” her dad like it was her responsibility, if she was just a perfect daughter it would be okay. But no matter how perfect she was, her dad would still become violent at the smallest inconvenience. Her mother lived in fear, and would flinch at the smallest sounds. She reduced herself, she stopped being her own person and just lived to try and keep her husband happy. She kept one thing for herself which was a part time job and this became another area in which her father would try to control her financially. The emotional, physical, psychological and financial abuse she goes through is horrifying and yet she still tries to be a good mum to her kids and wants to protect them. She doesn’t realise until much later that her silence was also destroying her children, even though women are told to stay silent “for the sake of the kids.” How is staying in an abusive relationship good for her or her kids?  

I love that Yasmin has written a book dealing with these topics within the Muslim and Desi communities because so many kids and teens are affected by it and yet to speak about it is taboo. There is too much emphasis on what will people say as opposed to how my child feels, is my family safe, are we creating a healthy environment for them to grow up in. Yasmin has done such a wonderful job of discussing these topics in her book and I hope that they are easily available to teens. So they know that they aren’t alone and trapped, so that they know that violence isn’t okay.

Okay wow I have written a long essay but truly this is a topic I am incredibly passionate about and I was literally sobbing by the end of the book and knew that this will stay with me for a long time. Like Yasmin’s first book, this is another book I wish I had been able to read as a teen.

I loved Huda and Amani’s friendship and it was really great to see friends that fall out but also work through the reasons for the fall out without making lives difficult for each other. Huda broke Amani’s trust but she realised she was wrong to do so and apologised and tried to make up for it. Amani knows that what Huda did, while still wrong, was to help her. It’s such a delicate and difficult situation to be in for both of them and we aren’t really shown or taught in any way how to handle these things. I was glad to see that they were able to work things through and remain friends.

Someone once told me you can’t count on the future…the present’s all you got

This book deeply resonated with me on so many levels and one that I want everyone to read. It’s such an important book and shows how toxic these situations are and that we shouldn’t have to silently put up with it. I highly recommend everyone who can read this to read this. Give it to teens and adults alike because even adults who have not been in these type of situations don’t truly understand what it is like. Please go buy and read this book!

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Books I Read In One Sitting

Finally doing another top 10 Tuesday post! This weeks post is about books I read in one sitting. I also included books I read in one day even if I stopped in the middle to pick up later that day.

So here’s books I read in one day and absolutely loved them!

1 Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed – This book is a difficult read but I couldn’t stop once I started.

TW: forced marriage, rape.

2 This Is My Truth by Yasmin Rahman – Another difficult read but another one that I just couldn’t stop once I started.

Tw: Domestic violence

3 Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali – This book was pure serotonin!

4 Rumaysa by Radiya Hafiz – A MG story which I read in a couple hours and completely loved every second.

5 The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo – I listened to this and Ben Barnes narrated it so of course I just spent 3 hours listening to him telling me the stories.

6 Moonchild by Aisha Bushby – Another that I listened to and basically raced though in one day.

7 Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali – The first time I read it I could not put it down it was such a wonderful book.

8 Diana and the Island of No Return by Aisha Saeed – Another MG that I raced through in one day!

9 Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew – Written in verse I got through it in one day especially as it deals with periods shaming which is a topic I’m passionate about.

10 That Can Be Arranged by Huda Fahmy – A graphic novel that was so much fun to read I just could not put it down!

When I was younger I could get through huge books in one day. I read the HP books the day they released and I wish I had that kind of time and freedom now to do that!

Diverse Books, YA Books

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta – ARC Review

Thank you to Macmillan and netgalley for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to the sequel!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from goodreads:

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer–as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…

This book was fast paced and action packed and I really enjoyed reading! I loved both the main characters and how they both spent their lives trying to take down the oppressive system but in vastly different ways.

This book starts with Eris being captured and taken to one of Godolias prisons where she meets an unlikely ally in Sona who is a windup pilot and who helps her escape and goes with her back to the rebel base. There Sona helps the rebels and joions Eris’s team of gearbreakers to overthrow the oppressive regime that is Godolia. But can a small team of teenagers do enough to overthrow a tyrannical regime that has wealth, power and resources not available to them and then there’s also the issue that not everyone trusts Sona.

There are some incredible heart racing, action packed scenes of gearbreakers fighting and taking down the giant machines sent to kill all rebels and the descriptions are so vivid that you can truly imagine the whole scene as it happens. Then you also have the wonderful fun scenes between team mates and the family they build for themselves. The squabbling and fighting and yet they all look out for and care deeply for each other.

We also see a slow burn romance bloom between Eris and Sona and how they slowly learn to trust each other and protect each other. I am looking forward to seeing more of them in the sequel and what will happen to them especially after that ending!

This is a wonderful action packed story with a great found family who fight an oppressive regime to be able to live freely and safely.

Diverse Books, YA Books

Of Princes and Promises by Sandhya Menon – ARC Review

Thank you to hodderscape and netgalley for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book and it was great to see Jaya and Grey too!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Caterina LaValle is determined to show she’s still the queen of St. Rosetta’s Academy. Sure, her crown may be slightly askew after her ex-boyfriend, Alaric, cheated on her, but she’s a LaValle. She’ll find a way to march right back in there, her hands clutching the strings to the whole puppet show. This time, she’s going to be untouchable.

Rahul Chopra knows that moment he shared with Caterina LaValle at the winter formal meant something. Surely she feels it, too. He’s a little uncertain how someone like him (socially inept to a point way past “adorkable”) could fit into her world, but he’s loved Caterina for years. He knows they’ll find a way.

When Caterina finds out Alaric is taking a supermodel to the upcoming gala, she knows she cannot arrive without the perfect date. But the thought of taking another superficial St. R’s boy exhausts her. The solution? Sweet-but-clueless Rahul Chopra and a mysterious pot of hair gel with the power to alter the wearer into whatever his heart desires.

When Rahul tries it, he transforms instantly into RC—debonair, handsome, and charming. But transformation comes with a price: As Rahul enjoys his new social standing, the line between his two personas begins to blur. Will he give up everything, including Caterina, to remain RC? Or will this unlikely pair find their way back to each other?

I really enjoyed this story and especially as we got to see more of Rahul who I loved in Of Curses and Kisses. This story is a Princess (Caterina) and the frog (Rahul) retelling and it was so wonderful to see a new retelling. One of the things I loved was that we get to make up our own minds about whether there is any magic or not. Is the hair gel truly magical or does simply implying it is magical give Rahul that confidence boost to become more socially adept?

The story may seem as though it is a fluffy romance also deals with family relationships and how living up to your parents expectations can affect someone and what can happen if the parent rejects us. It also deals with friendships and how having real deep friendships make a big difference in our lives. People who we can truly be ourselves around and not have to put on a front to protect ourselves.

I enjoyed learning more about Caterina who at first seems like your typical queen bee but we learn there is more to her and she struggles just like everyone else. She has no real friends because she keeps everyone at arms length because of how her father raised her. I liked seeing her change over the story and realise she can let people in to have a more meaningful relationship.

Rahul is socially awkward often not realising that he should not have said something until it’s too late but he transforms with the hair gel and becomes more like the boys he sees around him. Charming and funny and able to understand social ques but does that make him a better person? Is he changing too much of himself to fit in and does that make him better? These are all things he learns throughout the story which was great to see.

I liked seeing Caterina and Rahul together, they were cute and brought out the best in each other. The plot twist was interesting to see too although I can’t say much without spoilers! But it will be interesting to see what happens with that in the next book. We also get to see more of Jaya and Grey which I loved seeing as I really loved their story so it was great to see them being as cute as ever. I also loved how despite Rahul not having the best relationship with his friends in this book they came through for him and helped him when he had no one else to turn to.

This was a fun, cute read and I am looking forward to seeing what the next book will be about!