Monthly Wrap Up

August 2020 Monthly Wrap Up

I had a really great reading month this month and read some incredible books though I have found I find it easier to listen to audiobooks than actually pick up a book. I’ve listened to 6 audiobooks this month! I am loving my scribd subscription so much because of all the audiobooks on there!

If you want to try scribd for two months for free you can use my link which will also give me a month free. This is my link

So here are the books I read this month:

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He – I listened to the audiobook and it was incredible! My review will be up soon!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali – A reread via audiobook and if it’s possible, I loved it even more this time. You can read my review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes – I really loved this book. Seeing the point of view of the women was incredible. There is so much of history missing because we only see the male point of view. The audiobook was also great to listen to.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud – I enjoyed this sequel which is full of political intrigue and a young woman who fights for a better life for everyone she knows. My review is here

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan – This book blew my mind! It’s a fantasy inspired by Islamic beliefs and the main character has incredible strength and faith and seeing actual quran verses incorporated into the story was so wonderful to see. My review will be up soon.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Love at First Fight by Sandhya Menon – A great short story set in the dimpleverse.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston – Another great nerdy contemporary with a booknerd as a main character! My review is here

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – A reread because I love this book and I forgot how much I loved this book and how funny it is. My review is here

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Beauty of her Face by Sahar Mustafah – This is such a poignant and relatable story of Muslim woman who’s school is attacked by a terrorist who goes on a murdering spree, we see flashbacks of her as a young girl who is trying to find her place in the world and how she ends up the woman she is. It is an incredible book and everyone should read it. My review will be up soon!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang – This book utterly destroyed me, I am very afraid for the lives of my faves because Rebecca is brutal. My review will be up soon!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst – This book was such an unexpected surprise. I did not expect to love it as much as I did. One of the MCs is an older woman and a single mother and I loved seeing her be a total badass!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Nyxia Uprising by Scott Reintgen – This was a great conclusion to a great trilogy. Fast paced and intense and I loved the characters so much!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You Must be Layla by Yasmin Abdel-Magied – I was excited to read this but I was a little disappointed. It felt like it needed more editing even though the themes were really interesting and relevant.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

So that’s everything I read this month and clearly I have been handing out 5 stars a lot but these books have been incredible and you should all go read them!

I also shared these blog posts this month:

 My review of Diana and the Island of no Return by Aisha Saeed

My review of Allah Loves by Omar Suleiman

Book recommendations based on Daevabad characters

My favourite quotes from The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

My favourite quotes from The Damned by Renee Ahdieh

Diverse retellings you need to read

My latest post in my Inspiring Muslim Women throughout History. This post is about Hafsah bint Umar (ra) who was the custodian of the Quran.

That’s everything for this month! Have you read any of the books I read? What was your favourite read in August?

Book Recommendations, Muslim Shelf Space

Why You Should Read Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

If you know me then you know that I love this book with my whole heart and I need you all to read it. So to give you more incentive than my incoherent screaming, here are some reasons why you should read this wonderful book.

Muslim Romance

This book has the most wonderful romance while also keeping it all halal! Sajidah was able to show that Muslim’s can fall in love and that it can be romantic but it can still be kept within the boundaries of what Islam teaches us about relationships between men and women. We see cute fluffy moments and that they still interact with each other and u was grinning so hard all the way through but especially by the end! It’s a nuance often lost to most people but seeing so wonderfully done in the book was so great to see. I felt so seen.

Sajidah also showed through how they handled being attracted to each other, the realities of Muslim youth, especially the in the west. That it’s okay to have feelings and be attracted to each other, Islam doesn’t stop these natural feelings but how we handle them is the important thing. This was such an important nuance to show in the book and I love how it was shown.

Muslim Rep

The Muslim rep in this book was so wonderful to see. We are shown practicing Muslims but we also see them live, they are complex and well developed, they have friends and hobbies and passions. We also see how people who are Muslim are treated and the Islamophobia they face but also that they are happy and living their lives. We see differences in even how some people are more visibly Muslim than others and how that affects them and how they are treated.

Most importantly we see Muslims who are happy and that they don’t feel oppressed by their religion. We see them embrace their religion an do their best to stay true to their faith. It was refreshing to see that. Not only that, but we see representation of Muslims who have converted to Islam and that come from different parts of the world. So much diversity and culture was so great to see in the story.

Multiple Sclerosis/Chronic Illness Rep

Adam has been recently diagnosed with MS when we first meet him and it causes him to re-evaluate his life and how this will affect him long term. The rep was done incredibly well and I felt so seen because I also have chronic health conditions. The way he feels and how he has to navigate so many unknowns and yet still wants to make the most of things. He still falls in love and is wholly accepted by her.

Islamophobia

One of the things that Zayneb has to deal with is having a teacher who is Islamophobic and how angry and upset it makes her. But also that her being visibly Muslim means she has to deal with that where ever she goes. She wears a hijab, she can’t hide that she is Muslim so it makes her a target. I related so much to Zayneb especially how it’s the “little” things that get to her like a woman saying she feels unsafe to sit next to her or her not being allowed to use the swimming pool because she chose to wear a swimming costume that covers her entire body instead of the standard swim suit that makes the white man feel okay. That she’s expected to put a white man’s feelings above hers. It was so real seeing that in a book and love how Sajidah wove it into the story as it’s something that so many of us have to deal with.

It also makes Zayneb turn to activism to channel her anger and pain into something positive so she can try to make things better and make people aware how these things affect Muslims. She is passionate and fiery and I loved that about her.

Friendship & Platonic Love

One of the things I loved seeing in the book was how despite this being a love story, friendships were still shown importance. Zayneb and Adam both have a group of friends who they intereact with just as much as  each other. Zayneb especially as she also interacts and spends time with Adam’s friends too. I loved seeing that friendship is shown to be important and how platonic love for your friends can make you just as happy and hurt you as much as romantic love. We need to see more romances where we see different types of love included in the story!

Finally, if you are an Avatar fan then you will be pleased to hear that there are several avatar references in the story!

This book has wonderful nuanced Muslim rep, incredibly real chronic illness rep, has a wonderful love story that will leave you with a serotonin boost.

Everyone go read this incredible book and also read Saints & Misfits so we can all scream about Misfits in Love which will be out next year complete with a big fat Muslim wedding and a cameo with Adam and Zayneb!

My review is here for Love From A to Z

I also wrote about why this book means so much to me.

Fiction Books, YA Books

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – Book Review

I recently reread ACSDAL during the Curse Readalong hosted by Bloomsbury Publishing and I forgot how much I loved this book!

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Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Fall in love, break the curse.
Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

This book was not what I was expecting, in a good way. I have seen a lot of Beauty and the Beast retellings being released over the last few years and I’ve found them to be quite similar in their storyline which made me hesitant to read this. However this was a totally unique take on the story and I absolutely loved it!

We get both Harper and Rhen’s point of view so it was really interesting to see things from both of their views. Harper is an outsider and doesn’t know much about Emberfall and Rhen is the prince of Emberfall and while he grew up there, he hasn’t been out of his castle for 5 years. Harper reminded him that despite the curse he can still help his people and gave him hope. I really loved seeing that.

I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.

Harper is by far my favourite character, she is brave, determined, resilient and doesn’t let anyone push her around, not even a prince! She has cerebral palsy, which I was surprised to see because we rarely get any disability or long term health conditions rep in books and this rep was really great! She accepts this is a part of her life but doesn’t let it control her life and neither does she allow anyone to just pity her or baby her because she is in pain or walks with a limp. She will always hold a special place in my heart because I have long term health conditions which affect my daily life and I could see myself in Harper.

When we first meet Rhen, he is stubborn and arrogant and impatient. He could be petty at times too and I didn’t particularly like him at first. But he did grow on me as we learn more about him and he grows a lot as a person throughout the story.

The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.

The third character was Grey and while we don’t get his point of view, I completely fell in love with him! I actually prefer him to Rhen and shipped him and Harper more. He is Rhen’s guard and absolutely deadly. Yet he is a big softie which we see throughout the story when he interacts with the children. I really hope we see more of him in the second book, especially after that ending and epilogue!

This story doesn’t centre around Harper and Rhen falling in love so Harper can break the curse, it is bigger than that. It’s about saving all of Emberfall and caring for all the people there who have been suffering. It’s about social justice and doing something to help even if you can’t save everyone. It showed me that having a disability doesn’t mean you aren’t capable.

Failure isn’t absolute, just because you couldn’t save everyone doesn’t mean you didn’t save anyone.

I’m really looking forward to reading the next book, I especially hope to see more Grey and more of the world as we don’t really get to explore much we are only told of places and other kingdoms.

PS. If you preorder A Heart so Fierce and Broken which is out in January then you can get some amazing preorder goodies! Check out the link here for more information!

Diverse Books, YA Books

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – Book Review

After my reread of Six of Crows I just had to read Crooked Kingdom and even though I knew what happens I was still not ready for that ending. This duology is one of my all time favourite books!

You can read my review of Six of Crows here

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Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.
Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties.
A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

It’s no secret that I adore everything that Leigh Bardugo writes and of course this book did not disappoint. This was a reread via audiobook and I highly recommend listening as it’s a full cast and amazing!

This book starts where Six of Crows ends and it’s set entirely in Ketterdam unlike Six of Crows where they travel to Fjerda and back. So this story is a little different but no less enthralling and action packed. As usual the characters are absolutely wonderful and I love seeing their character development. I also loved seeing cameos by some of my favourite characters from the Grisha trilogy!

Once again I was completely enthralled by the story and the characters. The banter between the characters is my favourite thing ever! They always seem so much older because of what they’ve been through but then they squabble and fight and sass each other just like your regular teen and it would just remind you how young they really are.

The development of my ships was another thing I absolutely loved! The angst and the slow burn between them and how each couple is so different from the others and each go through their own journey and together as a couple and then on another growth in their gang together. Leigh had their character developments in all different areas of their life and did it so well.

My favourite ship is of course Kaz and Inej. The slow burn between them and their own hardships and barriers they’ve built that makes it hard for them to even admit their feelings for each other. It just killed me! But I really love how Leigh handles Kaz’s PTSD. He cannot touch people and I loved that he wasn’t “magically cured” because he wanted to be with Inej. He struggled with it, it prevented him from being able to be close to Inej and it felt so much more real.

This story is quite different from Six of Crows as it isn’t just one quest that they go on throughout the book. They have to make multiple plans and deal with lots of different groups of people. It was absolutely amazing to see how their plans came together. This book will take you on a wild ride!

The ending of this book is so satisfying in so many ways but will also break your heart and drag it through the mud and run it over with a truck. I first read this book in 2016 and I have never gotten over a particular thing that happens at the end. They had so much potential and it was ripped away from them. BRB going to go cry.

Anyways I highly recommend you go read this duology and all the Grishaverse books because they are amazing! I absolutely love all the grisha books but this duology will forever be my favourite!

Blog Tours/Street Teams, Diverse Books, YA Books

Blog Tour – The Never Tilting World By Rin Chupeco – ARC Review

Thank you to Caffeine Book Tours for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review and having me on the blog tour.

As soon as I heard about The Never Tilting World I knew I just had to read it and when I am so excited to be part of the blog tour and to share my review because I absolutely loved it!

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Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.
While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.
But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

The concept of this story immediately intrigued me and I really loved this book. Rin incorporated climate change and the destruction it can cause on our planet into the story so well. And the parallels to real life were so well done. The youth are the ones trying to make a difference whereas those in power are content to stay in their palaces and forts safe regardless of what that means for everyone else. The four main characters want to try and undo the damage and make the world a better and safer place to live for everyone yet the adult tell them to focus on other things.

I remember the world back when it was soft and good, where I could watch the sun set before stars graced the sky with their shine. Do you know what I would give to see a sunset again, lad?

There are four points of view in the book and I really loved seeing things from all of them. Though my favourite is definitely Arjun. He a moody cinnamon roll and I loved him! The two sisters are separate throughout the book because they have grown up on opposite sides of the world so we see their separate and very different journeys with their companions (and love interests).

Odessa travels with Lan who is a healer and they have a very difficult relationship which they have to work through in this journey because of certain things that happened before they started. Haidee travels with Arjun who grew up as a desert scavenger unlike Haidee who has grown up in a palace surrounded and protected by fort. They come from very different lives yet they end up working together so well! They were definitely my favourites as they were so adorable! I really loved seeing how different Haidee and Odessa are yet are so similar in many ways too.

I really loved that right from the beginning we are thrown right into the story and the magic system and we slowly learn more over the course of the story. We learn about why the way the world is the way it is and the history and how the magic in the world works. But it was even more interesting because we learn half from Haidee and half from Odessa who have both been given half truths and kept in the dark about many things from their mothers.

We’re chasing a dying sea under an endless sun that kills us with a thousand little cuts every day

The story is also quite dark at times from the monsters that they have to deal with, they were actually pretty terrifying at times. Discussion of how people can abuse their power and positions of authority and will often never be held to account are also discussed. We see the discussion happen in quite depth in the story where abuse is often ignored and covered up. Social class and inequalities are also something that are discussed in the story.

I really loved how diverse this story was, there were characters of different ethnicities all interacting with each other. Arjun has a disability, where he has lost his hand and it was really great seeing how he compensated for it but also that it does affect him. Lan suffers from PTSD and her journey of accepting help and feeling safe to talk to someone was done really well. Odessa also suffers from a chronic illness and I really loved seeing that! We never really get chronic illness rep and really related to it (a chronic illness sufferer) that she had to learn to balance between doing something and having to rest and how difficult was for her to accept her limitations.

A demoness is what men call a goddess they cannot control

The Never Tilting World is a journey of self-discovery of wanting to be more than the label they have been given and doing something that will make a difference in the world. It’s about family and friendship and love and power. You will be swept away by this wonderful story.

 

Here is the full blog tour schedule where you can find all other posts and follow the author on social media.

You can find the full schedule and giveaway here

Schedule (The Never Tilting World)

You can also join in on the Twitter chat happening on October 19th

CBTTC (The Never Tilting World)

Follow Shealea and Rin Chupeco to keep up to date with everything!

PS. You can find the twitter thread here