Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Muslim Shelf Space, YA Books

All The Things We Never Said By Yasmin Rahman – ARC Review

Thank you to Hot Key Books and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I first read Yasmin’s short story in A Change is Gonna Come and really loved it so I was really looking forward to reading her debut book. So I knew as soon as I heard about this book that I would love it and it did not disappoint!


Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

16-year-old Mehreen Miah’s anxiety and depression, or ‘Chaos’, as she calls it, has taken over her life, to the point where she can’t bear it any more. So she joins MementoMori, a website that matches people with partners and allocates them a date and method of death, ‘the pact’. Mehreen is paired with Cara Saunders and Olivia Castleton, two strangers dealing with their own serious issues.
As they secretly meet over the coming days, Mehreen develops a strong bond with Cara and Olivia, the only people who seem to understand what she’s going through. But ironically, the thing that brought them together to commit suicide has also created a mutually supportive friendship that makes them realise that, with the right help, life is worth living. It’s not long before all three want out of the pact. But in a terrifying twist of fate, the website won’t let them stop, and an increasingly sinister game begins, with MementoMori playing the girls off against each other.
A pact is a pact, after all.

This book had me sobbing by the end of the first chapter. I had never read a story where the mental health rep so completely accurate to mine and reading it felt like I had finally been seen, that someone else really understood everything that goes through my head. I have related to other characters in other books but there has never been a rep where the characters religious beliefs also influences how they feel. This book finally incorporated all aspects of my life.

I wish I had this book as a teenager when I felt that I was alone and didn’t understand why I felt this way. I even read the first chapter out loud to my husband because through Mehreen I was able to explain how it feels and how difficult it can become to manage. It’s safe to say that he was pretty shocked yet it really helped him to understand. So I hope that this book helps a lot more people too.

The book has three points of view but it is easy to distinguish between them as they each have distinct voices and personalities. All three girls are struggling yet when they meet each other, even they cannot understand why the others would want to commit suicide and I thought it was so important to see that. That just by looking at someone, even if they are smiling and laughing, they could still be drowning inside. They could still be struggling to cope with everything that is happening in their life. So it’s important not to dismiss someone, just because they look okay.

Another important theme throughout the book was friendship. How having true, understanding friends, who don’t judge you can help you get through your worst times and even save your life. Having friends that you can open up to about your mental health and they will be there for you. That’s the friendship that they found in each other, when they felt that they couldn’t speak to anyone about how they were feeling, and what made them realise that actually they want to live. There does however need to be a balance, that although friends can help you a lot it is still important to seek professional help.

Mehreen is such a wonderful character, she’s unapologetically, unflinchingly Muslim. We see her pray and talk about how that helps her, we even get a scene where the girls go out for a meal and they find somewhere halal so Mehreen can eat and I loved that Cara and Olivia were so understanding and accepting of it. I know how you can feel so left out if you’re the only Muslim in the group. But one of my favourite things that Yasmin spoke about is something that is SO IMPORTANT when speaking about mental health and especially suicide in Muslim communities. That Mehreen did not commit suicide because of her love for Allah, and that takes strength.

This is a raw, honest, heart breaking story yet it also has hope that we see as the story progresses. I absolutely loved this book and I wish I had this book as a teenager and I really think that everyone should read this book.

Fiction Books, YA Books

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly – ARC Review

Thank you to Hot Key Books and Netgalley for this arc in exchange for an honest review.

I really loved this book! I’m not a fan of Cinderella but the synopsis intrigued me and I’m glad that I read this because it was so great!


Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.
When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.
Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.
Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

I really enjoy retellings even when I’m not a fan of the original fairytale and this was no exception. This story made me root for the “ugly” sister, it made me feel for her and hope for a happy ending for her. I think that shows how much I enjoyed it, especially as she is a villain in the original story, tormenting Cinderella.

This book deals with female empowerment and how women should empower other women and not tear them down. How women can be more than what society tells us. They put us in boxes and expect us to stay there. You can only be that one thing that they designate to you and we have to cut away parts of ourselves to fit societies expectations. But this story is about breaking out of these boxes and tearing them down. It’s about being true to yourself and being more than what society tells us to be. And that is what makes us so powerful.

I really liked how fate and chance were personified and how each of them tempted Isabelle to make a choice that could lead her in a completely different direction. Fate told her to play it safe, that change isn’t possible, she made her doubt her own ability. Chance told her to take a stand, to be brave and take that step to take hold of her life and lead it in a different direction, to be who she knows she can be. It made her story feel very real, we all deal with these in our own ways, all the time.

I also loved how the fairy queen came to her just like she did for Ella but Isabelle has to find herself before she can actually realise what her hearts true desire is. At the beginning she thinks it is to be pretty, because everyone tells her she is ugly and therefore won’t amount to anything in life. But her journey of self discovery leads her to who she truly wants to be. It was a hard journey full of self doubt and her having to really look beyond what she was told to be and to truly be who she wanted to be.

Tavi was the other sister and I loved her as much as Isabelle, she’s really smart and doesn’t understand why she has to give up her dream of studying to become a suitable wife. I related to her so much! Why girls have to be the ones to sacrifice an education, that they can’t be too smart, because it will hurt the male ego. It’s something we see throughout the book, Tavi is told that she won’t be able to work out the answers by men, that when she corrects the men they feel insulted.

Even Ella, when we meet her, becomes more than just a pretty girl. And I really loved how the author showed the depth and complexity of each of the girls and how they might not be what we all assume them to be.

Honestly this book is filled with themes that I am so passionate about so it left me with a whirlwind of emotions. I felt angry and sad and hopeful and everything else in between. I highly recommend everyone read this book!

Diverse Books, YA Books

Nocturna by Maya Motayne – ARC Review

Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton and Netgalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book, there are some intense moments and great characters which kept me reading well into the night!


Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Set in a Latinx-inspired world, a face-changing thief and a risk-taking prince must team up to defeat a powerful evil they accidentally unleashed.
To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.
As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.
After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.
But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.

Once I started this book I could not put it down! The story was intense and fast paced and action packed! The characters were all great too and I especially loved Finn! The magic system was really interesting too.

The only thing I wish there was more of was the Latinx culture. One of the reasons I was so interested to read it was because it was a Latinx inspired world but I didn’t feel it was included as much as I would have liked.

The magic system where each characters propio is different depending on what they needed it to be and how a significate event triggers their power. It really shows how different each of the characters are.

Finn is my favourite character in this book. She has such a great character arc and seeing how much she grows and learns to believe in herself and become more than what she has been constantly told she is was so great to see. She has had a difficult life and has been told she is a monster her whole so much so that she thinks she is. She is so complex and morally grey and I really loved that.

I really loved how Alfie believed in her even when she didn’t believe in herself and how she helped Alfie through his grief. It was really great to see characters supporting each other.

Alfie is has made some selfish decisions while grieving for his brother but he does accept that he needs to move on be the king that his people need. I did find him annoying at times when he wouldn’t go to the people who could have helped him instead trying to fix it himself.

I also really liked Luka, who is Alfie’s cousin, he is adorable and I wish we got to see more of him. It was so nice seeing how much Alfie loves him so much that he puts his life above the kingdom. I am also interested in seeing what Luka’s new abilities will mean for him the next book.

The villain in this book was actually pretty terrifying and we get to see a lot of his backstory through Finn and Alfie and it just made me hate him even more. The way he tried manipulating Finn and Alfie by showing them their worst fears, it was horrible to watch them go through it. But I did love how both of them started to work through them and overcome them.

I know this book is the first in a series but this book has a complete arc so I’m interested to see what will happen in the next book.

Have you read the book? What did you think?

Fiction Books, Middle Grade Books

The Rise of Winter by Alex Lyttle – ARC Review

Thank you to Central Avenue Publishing and Netgalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoy reading middle grade books and when I read the synopsis of this it sounded really interesting so I was excited when my request was accepted! I really enjoyed the book and despite it being middle grade it dealt with some really relevant issues that affect all of us today and I felt it was done quite well.


Synopsis from Goodreads:

Centuries ago, Terra, the world, was nearly destroyed by humans. In the wake of that destruction, Terra created the Guardians – a group sworn to protect Her. But humans have returned to their plundering ways and Terra needs the Guardians. The Guardians are now fractured, their leader murdered years before. They need a new leader – a new Terra Protectorum – but when a young girl is chosen outrage ensues. Questions demand answers.

Why has Terra selected a girl with no knowledge of the Guardians? Why has she chosen a human when it is the humans destroying the earth? And most importantly, why has she chosen the girl whose father murdered the last Terra Protectorum?

This book is about a young girl finding out that she has been made into a guardian and needs to help the animals save the earth. She has to quickly learn what it means to be a guardian especially as the humans have once again begun polluting the planet and destroying the homes of the animals.

She is helped along the way by different animals, Vulpeera the fox, is someone who first believes in her and helps her and becomes a teacher and mentor to her. There is also Proctin the racoon, an exile and one who loves to eat. Each of the animals have distinct personalities and their own backstories which I really liked seeing as it helped flesh out their character arcs and made them more complex. This makes the reader really feel for their story and makes us want to root for them and help them save the earth.

The story revolves around Winter needing to save earth so there are lots of environmental issues spoken about in the book, from how humans are polluting the air and rives and land to how animals are being affected by us building everywhere. I did like seeing these mentioned and I felt that younger readers would be able to understand what was being said though I do feel it was portrayed as black and white when in reality it is much more complex. Not all humans are “bad” and we do need to build homes and roads for us to be able to travel and live. There are also lots of humans who do speak about saving the environment yet aside from Winter, every other human was seen as “bad”.

There is lots of action packed, fast paced scenes and I felt they were quite well balanced between more light hearted, fun scenes. I especially liked the conversations between Proctin and Winter and how their friendship developed. I think the characters were all shown really well but I felt the world building wasn’t as great. It was hard for me to truly imagine what the world looked like as it wasn’t explained as well. It seemed like it was a post apocalyptic world yet it also seemed like it was set at the start of the industrial revolution and there was mentions of the lands behind the mountain that no-one had explored. It felt a little confusing.

The ending was really action packed and there was quite a few revelations and plot twists that I didn’t see coming which made the story even more interesting and left me wanting to know more. I especially want to know what will happen next after the last line!

Overall I really enjoyed the book and I think younger readers will enjoy it too. There was lots of issues that are relevant today included in the story like the environment and deciding who you are and not the labels that people give you. And I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

The book releases on 1st May.


My ARC Attack Readathon TBR

In April I’m taking part in the #ARCAttack readathon which is hosted by Vicky at What Vicky Read

I’m lucky enough to have been given arcs by publishers both on Netgalley and I picked some up recently at an event. So when I saw Vicky had announced this readathon for April I knew I had to take part because I need to get through some of these arcs soon!

So what will I be reading?

Well there’s some books that I’m definitely going to read as the books will be releasing in April and then there’s others that I hope to get to if I can. I need to read the Netgalley arcs first but I am hoping to get to the rest too.

So the books that I will be reading are:

These are my Netgalley arcs:

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto
Nocturna by Maya Motayne
Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
Emily Eternal by M.G. Wheaton

Then the physical arcs I will read:

We Are Blood and Thunder by Kesia Lupo
This Splintered Silence by Kayla Olsen
Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

And I also have a finished copy I was sent to read and review but I still haven’t gotten to it yet so I will try to read The Dark Vault by V.E. Schwab as well if I can manage.

I am especially looking forward to reading these books as they all seem like my type of books and I have been hearing great things about them!

Have you read any of these? Will you be taking part?