Diverse Books, YA Books

The Righteous by Renee Ahdieh – ARC Review

Thank you to Hodderscape and Netgalley for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Pippa Montrose is tired of losing everything she loves. When her best friend Celine disappears under mysterious circumstances, Pippa resolves to find her, even if the journey takes her into the dangerous world of the fae, where she might find more than she bargained for in the charismatic Arjun Desai.

This is the third book in The Beautiful Quartet and each book just keeps getting better and better! These books can be read in any order but I do recommend reading them in the order they are released to get a rich experience.

I absolutely adored this book and I was so happy to see that we would get to see Arjun and Pippa’s point of view as they were my favourite side characters in the first two books. We also see more of Celine, Bastian, Michael and Emilie from the first two books.

Each book expands the world of The Beautiful more and more and in this book we get to spend a lot more time in the world of the fey, we see how they live and how different they are from the human world and we see their politics and the rising tensions between the summer and winter courts. It was so interesting to see this world though I did miss the New Orleans and especially the court of lions. Maybe we will see them again in the next book.

Love was for the foolish. And Arjun Desai was no fool.

This book has a marriage of convenience, only one bed scene and multiple interactions between Arjun and Pippa where he calls her a term of endearment in Urdu and she doesn’t understand! Every time he did I would just have a big goofy grin on my face because it was the sweetest thing ever! I loved the dynamic between Pippa and Arjun so much and how well they compliment each other. How they understand each other so well in such a short time and the secret pining for each other almost killed me! They notice the smallest things about each other like how Arjun promises to not let her ever go hungry in their marriage vows when she reveals that she often went hungry growing up.

Conquering a man’s country does not mean you have conquered his soul.

I loved their development throughout the book and one of the things I loved most was that Arjun was not afraid to call Pippa out on her colonialist thinking and her white privilege and Pippa took the time to listen, apologise and learn from it. We do see this discussion happen throughout the series and it is so well done.

One of my favourite things about these books is how we get fae and vampires but they’re people of colour and their cultures are shown in their courts. It was so nice to be able to see that in the story especially when we usually see fae and vampires they are always white but now we get to see people of colour and ourselves in the story.

Men had been given access to power all their lives. It was their so called birthright. Maybe it was time for them to see what a woman could do.

We also see more of Celine and Bastian in this book and it’s so interesting to see how Celine is the one who is drawn to power and Bastian doesn’t want it. Bastian has always had power, but Celine hasn’t and now she realises she can have that freedom and choice she is often denied because she is a woman. The ongoing discussions around women and how the patriarchal society pushed them down and caged them in certain roles is one I have loved seeing throughout the books. We also see how the patriarchy hurts men too, like Bastian and how he must unlearn so many toxic ideas.

We get a few chapters from Michael’s point of view too in this book and let me just tell you that I completely and entirely hate this man. He has nothing but the audacity and if Celine doesn’t slap him, I will. In the first two books I was indifferent towards him but now we see how entitled he feels and how he puts blame on others instead of taking responsibility and it infuriated me.

The writing and the story is absolutely incredible and had me completely and entirely hooked to the point where I was up late at night to read just one more chapter. The tension that built up slowly throughout the book and then chaos ensued at the end with the ending being left on a cliffhanger left me screaming. And a cameo from one of Renee’s previous books that left me shook and so incredibly happy to see!

I need everyone to go read these books because they are incredible and deserve all the love.

Non Fiction Books

The Muslim Problem: Why We’re Wrong About Islam and Why It Matters by Tawseef Khan – ARC Review

Thank you to Atlantic Books for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review. I was tentatively looking forward to reading this but this book was such a disappointment.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Why are Muslim men portrayed as inherently violent? Does the veil violate women’s rights? Is Islam stopping Muslims from integrating?

Across western societies, Muslims are more misunderstood than any other minority. But what does it mean to believe in Islam today, to have forged your beliefs and identity in the shadow of 9/11 and the War on Terror? Exploding stereotypes from both inside and outside the faith, The Muslim Problem shows that while we may think we know all about Islam we are often wrong about even the most basic facts.

The synopsis sounds like this would be a great read with a nuanced discussion however this was not what this book was. It started with talking about how Muslims celebrate Christmas and just got worse from there. It took me months to get through this book because I had to keep putting it down because it made me so mad.

The only decent thing in this book was discussing the political history which has led to the increase in Islamophobia and violence against Muslims. I actually liked how he wrote about this and truly the only good part of each chapter was this discussion. If you are going to read this book just read these parts.

I for the life of me cannot understand how he so easily insulted scholars and spoke about the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and repeatedly stated that using common sense is enough to understand the Quran. It really isn’t because this is how people twist the words, they have no real education in any of this and go about deciding for themselves what the Quran says. He also didn’t speak to actual scholars regarding these issues, only speaking to activists isn’t enough. They have not dedicated years to understanding the Quran and the Prophet (pbuh) teachings. Especially as our first language is English we cannot truly understand the Quran unless we can read and understand Arabic which I don’t think a lot of us are. Honestly by the end of the book I was so incredibly mad about all the misinformation about Islam and the way the author dismissed and belittled over a thousand year of Islamic scholarship.

Starting the first chapter with the claim that Muslims integrate because they celebrate Christmas left me with a sense of dread as to what the rest of the book will hold because I shouldn’t have to celebrate another religions, religious festival to be considered as integrated into society. This is assimilation, the irony is that he actually discusses assimilation in a later chapter yet doesn’t see how this is also assimilation. Also saying that he laughed at scholars who have explained why we don’t celebrate Christmas, and called it inane remarks is not the progressive thinking that you think it is.

I completely lost all faith in this book when he started to say how hadith are unreliable and came after the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) saying that they were oppressive and unreliable. Truly I don’t know where he found this because the ones he specifically mentioned are known for their reliability and standing up for justice.

There was also an undertone that is incredibly problematic which was regarding “conservative Muslims” and how they were an issue. He even grouped Islamophobes and them together as if they are the same. Just because someone chooses to practice Islam in a way that you aren’t comfortable with that doesn’t make them wrong or bad. There are parts of Islam that aren’t completely compatible with the western culture and you know what that is okay. You can’t change or water down Islam and claim that this is the correct thing and look down on others. There was several instances of humble bragging that had me rolling my eyes too and I just…it’s safe to say that I did not enjoy this book, at all.

I am tired of books being published that have so much misinformation or written in a way that makes Islam palatable to non-Muslims because what is even the point of these books. If you are going to write about Islamic beliefs and integral parts of the faith then at least go speak to the actual scholars about it.

This book is called the Muslim problem and yet all it does is create more problems. People reading this will look at me and say why am I not celebrating Christmas and that I am not integrating. It’s awkward enough as it is to explain why I don’t want to take part in Christmas celebrations without other Muslims claiming it is absolutely fine. The fact that the reviews I’ve seen so far that praise this book is all from non-Muslims and the reviews from Muslims are all discussing the issues in this book and how it is not a great book to deal with these issues should tell you all you need to know about how reliable the information about Islam really is.

YA Books

The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni – ARC Review

Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for sending this arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

This story sounded so interesting and had a really intriguing storyline yet I just didn’t love it like I thought I would. I liked the story somewhat but I just didn’t love any character which made it difficult for me to really root for them despite the fact that they endure some terrible things.

The story is about a young woman who has been in prison since she was seven and mostly entirely alone and it didn’t make sense that she had no one who looked after as a child and she had so many skills including being a healer after watching her dad for a year when she was seven. Her motivations for choosing to risk her own life and suffer through the trials which are known to be horrific also didn’t make sense and it was just confusing as to why she would have such a strong motivation to do something like that. Like yes she was told to keep her alive but why is she so personally invested in it? Especially for people who kept promising to help her but never actually came.

I also had issues with the big plot twist at the end because there was zero hints throughout the book and this is something we should have had an inkling about because we literally spend the book in Kiva’s head. She knew that twist but the readers didn’t and not once is it even remotely alluded to.

The romance was also very insta love and didn’t have much depth to it especially s Kiva kept saying she didn’t like him while also thinking about him all the time. He also conveniently doesn’t get marked with the Z like every single person who is taken to the prison and especially once we find out more about him it makes sense but also convenient. He risks so much for Kiva including getting tortured despite them barely knowing each other. I just couldn’t feel invested in their relationship.

I did like Tipp and how Kiva would take care of him and that despite the awful circumstances he somehow managed to be optimistic and find joy and love. He was sweet and he needs to be protected at all costs.

The end of the story had several revelations which made the motivations of Kiva make more sense and it has intrigued me to know what will happen in the next book. Especially as it seems we will get to see more of the world as this book is set solely in the prison with some flashbacks and references. And it seems as though we will get more political intrigue which I love seeing. So I am a little intrigued to know what will happen in the next book.

Adult Books

The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon – ARC Review

Thank you to Bloomsbury publishing for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.

The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.


As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them-and could end with them.

I have to say I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked some parts and some not so much. I enjoyed the slow burn of Paige and Warden’s relationship. I think in this book we finally get to see their relationship develop as they have the chance to actually discuss how they feel.

I liked seeing other parts of this world and what’s happening outside of England and the characters we are introduced to and some characters we had previously met made an appearance again but I really missed Nick and Eliza. I hope we get to see them again in the next book! They were y favourite side characters and I truly think this book was weaker without them in it with Paige.

I had issues with the pacing and how slow the book was. It took me a while to get through it as I would put it down and not pick it up for days but the ending was more interesting. A lot happens at the end and I wish we could have gotten more of that instead. We get lots of revelations that have been building up in the last two books and it was interesting to get some answers of some of the mysteries and revelations of who was pulling the strings behind the scenes.

I’m still not sold on Paige and Warden as a couple though. I still think we don’t know much about Warden and how he feels and thinks outside of Paige’s perspective and it just meant that I couldn’t really connect with him despite being four books in. We get some more information about the Rephaim but they are still very much a mystery. By this point it made them less interesting as characters especially as we barely see them in the book. Also I feel a bit annoyed by the fact that some Rephaim have names like Arcturus and Terebell and yet the antagonists have PoC sounding names like Nashira and Suhail.

This book deals a lot with Paige’s recovery and how she manages after being tortured and the PTSD she has. I thought it was dealt with quite well seeing her struggle and freeze because of it. The lasting effects it had on her body physically. I really liked seeing that in the book.

When we first met Paige I really loved her and I loved how much she grew in the Mime Order but since I have felt she has become more reckless and runs head first before thinking things through which resulted in a lot of problems in this book and I just felt that someone who is supposed to be running a revolution needs to be less reckless. I think that’s why I missed Eliza and Nick a lot too because I felt they grounded her and guided her to be less reckless and think things through. The ending especially regarding Warden and how Paige dealt with it was something I wasn’t a fan of because we see them develop and yet Paige easily believes what happens at the end without questioning it until it is too late.

Overall I liked this book but I do have some issues with pacing and Paige’s arc (or seemingly lack thereof). I feel like there wasn’t a lot of progress in the book as to her goals to lead a revolution. It takes her the whole book to make the alliances necessary. I am hoping that the next book will have some more progression and we will hopefully see the characters from previous books again.

Adult Books, Diverse Books

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse – ARC Review

I was sent this arc in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this book so much! The world and the characters were so incredible and complex and I just loved everything about it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

I had no idea what to expect when I started reading but this book crawled into my heart and burrowed itself in and made itself at home. From the storytelling to the world building to the characters, every single thing about this book is absolutely phenomenal.

The story starts with a line that had me completely hooked and I knew this book would hurt me. The first chapter is set 10 years before the events in this story and it creates an ominous start for the book with hints as to the darkness to come. I loved seeing this before we start as it gave us some important insight without giving away the entire story and plot. The story slowly builds us up to the finale where the separate stories of each of the characters start to merge and we see how the different parts we saw in the book fit together. And what a finale it was, it had me completely enthralled and worried for the lives of all the characters hoping for an outcome where they all survive yet having that sinking feeling that will that even be possible and being left on an ending that had me screaming.

Usually, when someone describes a man as harmless, he ends up being a villain.

The characters are all so complex and we see how none of them are clear cut good or bad. They have been shaped by their circumstances and events that took place even before they were born. They have to deal with the consequences of those that are no longer there to be taken account of and it was so interesting to see which of these characters were truly the villain or even if there was a single villain. Rebecca did this so well and I was rooting for each character even though they each had their flaws they were all working to make things better for their people or trying to survive and yet not seeing how their decisions impact others outside of who they consider their own.

Xiala was such a wonderful character and I just loved slowly learning about her and the people she came from. The Teek are so interesting and the things she even learns about herself along this journey made me love her even more. I loved her confidence and how she cared for the people she was in charge of and that her skills and ability had made her somewhat respected even though the men didn’t generally accept women as captains. Her relationship with Serapio was also so wonderful. I just loved their tentative friendship and how they found comfort in each other and how it slowly grew to something more. I just love them.

A man with a destiny is a man who fears nothing.

Serapio is fascinating, he is truly been shaped by others and has been honed to be a weapon to seek vengeance for an injustice that happened before he was born but he has no say in whether he wanted that or not. His destiny is all he has known and lived and breathed and seeing what happens at the end my heart felt for him but I also wanted to scream at him to not do it.

Narampa was another interesting character, she has fought her way to the top to become the sun priest but despite this she is never truly accepted by her peers because of where she came from. She is trying to make things better for them but they don’t want to accept what she is doing and yet while she works tirelessly for those who scorn her, her family and people she grew up with are ignored and continue to suffer and even she looks down on them. Yet when she needs help she ends up turning to those she left behind. It was really interesting to see how no matter how high you rise those in power won’t accept you, if you aren’t one of them.

I am the only storm that matters now, and there is no shelter from what I bring.

One of my favourite things in this book was that it was inspired by Pre Columbian America and the whole world and mythology that Rebecca has created was so stunningly beautiful and honestly a breath of fresh air. It had so much depth and the culture and the way of life, I loved it so much. Indigenous cultures are so beautiful and wonderful and truly I hope we get more books with their cultures showing just how rich these cultures are.

This book had me completely enthralled and while I loved all the characters, Xiala and Serapio stole my heart and I just need to know more about them and see more of them. This is a book that will have you mesmerised by the world and falling in love with the characters and you will be left thinking about this book long after you have finished it.