Diverse Books, YA Books

Oculta by Maya Motayne – ARC Review

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

This is the sequel to Nocturna and I absolutely adored this book!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

After joining forces to save Castallan from an ancient magical evil, Alfie and Finn haven’t seen each other in months. Alfie is finally stepping up to his role as heir and preparing for an International Peace Summit, while Finn is traveling and reveling in her newfound freedom from Ignacio.

That is, until she’s unexpectedly installed as the new leader of one of Castallan’s powerful crime syndicates.

Just when Finn finds herself back in San Cristobal, Alfie’s plans are also derailed. The mysterious organization responsible for his brother’s murder has resurfaced—and their newest target is the summit. And when these events converge, Finn and Alfie are once again forced to work together to follow the assassins’ trail and preserve Castallan’s hopes for peace with Englass.

But will they be able to stop these sinister foes before a new war threatens their kingdom?

TWs: Violence, death, PTSD, hallucinations, mentions of domestic abuse, blood, gore, panic attacks, grief, mentions of alcohol abuse, racism, slavery and colonisation

This book starts a few months after the events of Nocturna and we see that Finn has left and travelled while also committing a whole host of high end robberies and Alfie is now the crown prince and has accepted this role and is committed to serving his people. They are both leading their own paths and yet their minds wander back to each other and I was LIVING for it.

This book is unapologetically Latinx and I loved it! The culture, the clothes the food the language, just everything was so wonderfully Latinx. We also see the royals from Englassen in this book who are colonisers and while Castallan is now free from their enslavement we can still see the generational trauma and how much of their history was lost because of it. The people of Englassen are still enslaved by the white people there so it isn’t even something that is a distant past. It is something Alfie and his people can still see happening. It was so painfully real to read at times but Maya dealt with it so well and called out the micro aggressions that people of colour still have to deal with even now. It reminded me of a lot of the things I would have to smile and tolerate at my previous work place and the white privilege people benefitted from but refused to acknowledge.

When Luka calls a white woman’s skin mayonnaise colour after they are spoken to in the same way I just had to stop for a minute because it was a lot to see it being called out so clearly in the book. I really appreciate how these discusiions happen in the book and we see how Alfie, Luka and the others have to tolerate a lot of it because they are trying to build a peace treaty with them. We also see those who are opposed to this because they do not want anything to do with the colonisers in their home country. Both sides have valid arguments and Maya leaves it up to us to decide what our own opinions are.

I loved seeing Finn and Alfie work together again and how much they cared for each other but refused to acknowledge it because of who they are. The tension and angst is built so wonderfully through the book and by the end I was literally screaming at them to accept it already! They both had such great character growth too, individually and together. We see Finn battle with her own demons and finally overcome them and Alfie becomes the leader he needs to be for his people.

I also loved seeing more of Luka and how much he has had to endure and how he changed because of the events of Nocturna and the guilt he feels but also his relationship with Alfie felt so real. They fight they disagree yet when they need to they are there for each other. I also loved that the King and Queen are present and a part of Alfie’s life. They are great parents and deeply in love and it was such a nice change to see that in the book.

The last 100 pages and the ending left me a MESS. I am still not over all the revelations and plot twists some of which I did not see coming at all even though when I think back the foreshadowing was there and I was shook. The way this story ends left me with the worst book hangover and I absolutely need the next book asap because the wait is going to kill me.

Everyone go read Nocturna and Oculta!

Adult Books, Books by Muslim Authors

The Blue Eye by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Book Review

This is the third book in the Khorasan archives and I loved it as much the first two books and after that ending I am so nervous about what will happen in the last book!

My review for The Bloodprint is here. My review for The Black Khan is here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Companions of Hira have used their cunning and their magic in the battle against the patriarchal Talisman, an organization whose virulently conservative agenda restricts free thought. One of the most accomplished Companions, Arian, continues to lead a disparate group in pursuit of the one artifact that could end the Talisman’s authoritarian rule: The Bloodprint.

But after a vicious battle, the arcane tome has slipped once more beyond her reach. Despite being separated and nearly losing their lives, Arian’s band of allies has remained united. Yet now, the group seems to be fracturing. To continue the fight, Arian must make a dangerous journey to a distant city to recruit new allies. But instead of her trusted friends, she is accompanied by associates she may no longer be able to trust.

This book begins shortly after the events of The Black Khan and we also get to see new places that were mentioned in the first two books. We get to see where Sinnia is from and her people and we also travel to what is Al-Aqsa in that world! We are also introduced to new characters and I loved it so much!

Sinnia gets a lot more backstory and development in this book as to why she decided to join the Companions of Hira and what she wants to do in her life. I really loved seeing her story and her home. She comes from a people who have incredible women who are smart and resilient and manage to navigate the traditions that they don’t agree with to their advantage. We also see a potential love interest for her introduced later on in the story so I am intrigued to see where that will go.

We also learn more about Arian and her childhood, we also get some incredible revelations about her childhood and family that had me reeling! I also liked seeing her work through her relationship with Daniyar and especially finally realising just how much he actually does for her and the sacrifices he also makes to be with her and support her. It was also great to see her understand that maybe being a Companion of Hira doesn’t mean she can’t also be with the man she loves. We also learn more about her brother and what happened to him. And I hope we get to see more of this in the next book.

This book is dark and does not shy away from the darker things that happen when there is war and the oppression against women. We see that there are those who want to keep this way where only a few are granted wealth, power and freedom to do as they choose and everyone else suffers and those who wish to overthrow this whole system and then those who are somewhere in the middle and want to save their own while not particularly caring what happens to everyone else. It was really interesting seeing all the different people interact and how complicated it can be when there is an oppressive regime.

There’s so much I can’t say without spoiling things but I just need you all to read these books!

Favourite Book Quotes, Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Book Quotes Make My Heart Burst

A Top 10 Tuesday post for you all today! I couldn’t resist this prompt as I love sharing my favourite quotes! I’m going to be sharing my favourite quotes that make me swoon and my heart burst from all the emotions from my favourite ships.

I wish I could live a thousand lives so I could fall in love with you a thousand times. But if all we get is this one, and I share it with you, then I will never want for anything. – A Sky Beyond the Storm

“May I confess something?” Ali gazed at her in open sorrow. “I never really wanted to be out of your debt” – The Empire of Gold

I cannot promise never to die, habibti. But before death, there is life. No matter how short our hours are or how swiftly time flees, there is life. And since there is life, habibti, let us live. Let us not squander even one second of it. – The Candle and the Flame

Love is looking at someone as if the stars shine in their eyes – The Beautiful

She believed in such a world, where everyone got a turn, a season in the sun. – Love From A to Z

Habibi. Hayati. Roohi.
My love, my life, my soul, the words meant, but their meanings went deeper than that.
Habibi was for friends and love that was real enough.
Hayati was when love became an all-encompassing thing. Deeper and deeper, until one became the others life.
Roohi was when a soul twined with its match and loved with the force of a thousand suns. When it slipped beneath the heart and tangled in the very fibres of an existence. – We Free the Stars

“Do you not listen to me when I speak?” he answered shakily, his lip quirking up. “I love you. I have always loved you.” – These Violent Delights

I knew my heart was claimed by you. – Ayesha at Last

For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you. – The Wrath and the Dawn

I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting. – Crooked Kingdom

So here are my favourite quotes that make my heart burst and leave me a wreck. Do share yours!

Book Recommendations, Friday Favourites

Friday Favourites – Bookish Siblings

So I haven’t really been posting regularly lately but I’m trying to get back into it so here’s a Friday Favourite post for you all!

This week, I’m sharing my favourite siblings!

The Qahtani Siblings from The City of Brass

The Kaul Siblings from Jade City

Nasir & Altair from We Hunt the Flame

The Kane Siblings from The Kane Chronicles

The Alif sisters from The Candle and the Flame

I love these siblings so much and their dynamics! I highly recommend reading all of these books! Tell me who your favourite siblings are!

Book Recommendations

World Book Day – Favourite Fictional Book Nerds

It’s world book day today so I thought I would share my favourite fictional book nerd characters in today’s post!

I love seeing book nerds in stories as I feel so seen. And often these characters become my favourites in their series.

Alizayd al-Qahtani from The City of Brass

Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices

Fatima Ghazala from The Candle and the Flame

Artemis from Artemis Fowl

Nesta from A Court of Silver Flames

Enrique from The Gilded Wolves

Odessa from The Never Tilting World

Elend from The Final Empire

Tell me who your fave bookish characters are in the comments. I’m always looking for books with book nerd characters!