Top 5 Wednesdays

Top 5 Wednesday – Books You Thought You Would Hate But Ended Up Loving

Hey booknerds! It’s another Top 5 Wednesday post! This is hosted by Sam over on Thoughts on Tomes where you share you top 5 for the chosen topic for that week. You can check out each weeks topic over on Goodreads.

As the saying goes, never judge a book by it’s cover. And well I’m really glad I didn’t get put off by books that didn’t look or sound like my kind of thing. Some of these I was basically forced to read by my sisters as they loved it and needed someone to fangirl with!

So these are the books I am glad I gave a chance to because I loved them all!

1 Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – the first contemporary book I read because my sister loved it and told me I HAD to read it. And yes, I completely fell in love and it’s what convinced me to try reading more contemporary books.

2 Light Years by Kass Morgan – the most recent book I gave a chance to and loved. I was a little put off by the cover but several bloggers said they loved it and I had gotten the arc in an illumicrate box so I thought I may as well give it a go and yup, I need the sequel already!

3 The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – I don’t typically read romance but a retelling of Arabian nights is what swayed me and Shazi and Khalid are my OTP and I completely fell in love!

4 The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – thank goodness my sister forced me to read Cinder because OMG this is one of my favourite series ever!

5 The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare – the weird covers of TMI had put me off reading any of these books and while TMI is not a favourite, TID most certainly is! I adored this trilogy!

So these are books that I thought I would hate but ended up loving! Some of these have actually become some of my all time favourite books!
Is there a book that you’re glad you gave a chance to?

Fiction Books, YA Books

The Disasters by M.K. England – Book Review

I saw this book on social media and the cover was so pretty so I was instantly drawn to the book and I just had to read it! I really loved the book and read it over two evenings because I just couldn’t put it down!

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Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.
But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.
On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.
They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

This book surprised me but in a good way! I honestly had no idea what to expect going into it but I loved it so much! What I was most surprised about was that there was Muslim characters! Nax, the main character is a Muslim and Pakistani. Another main character, Asra is also Muslim and Bengali. Can I just say how much I loved the Muslim rep! I also adored the way Pakistani and Bengali culture was incorporated into the story without it seeming like it was forced. Mentions of women in salwar kameez and that there’s halal food places and that shops close at prayer times. I loved it!

Nax calls his mum, ammi and talks about Eid and speaking Pashto. Asra wears a hijab! Seeing a hijabi in a science fiction book made me so happy! The adhaan (call to prayer) is mentioned and Asra prays her five daily prayers and it was incorporated so well into the story! I loved her mention how it’s difficult to figure out prayer times in space. It made me giggle and then spend several minutes trying to figure out how exactly that would work!

“Asra snorts. ‘Try figuring out how to pray at the right times. Fortunately, there’s an app for that.’”

It was so nice seeing a Muslim wearing a hijab character praying like it’s just part of her normal routine and a part of her life but that it doesn’t define her. I also loved that Nax may not pray but it doesn’t mean Asra looks down on him or vice versa. They get along really well and it was so refreshing to see that. I’m sick of seeing Muslims who pray portrayed as condescending and judgemental.

There is also really great mental health rep in the book. Case and Nax both have anxiety and it does affect them. Even in vital moments when they are under pressure, they suffer from panic attacks. Which made it more realistic for me. That they are affected by it and they know it does, they don’t try to hide it but that they don’t allow it to define them. I also loved how supportive the other characters were when they had a panic attack. There is also LGBT rep in this book and I thought it was done well. Nax is bisexual and Zee is transgender. There’s some discussion about the discrimination that Zee faces and I really liked that Nax was supportive.

Okay so I know I spent ages talking about the great rep that was in the book but I don’t often get to see good Muslim/South Asian rep in science fiction books. I wish there was more!

The story is such a fun read despite the darker themes in the book. It’s action packed and a really fast paced read. It kept me reading well into the night because I just wanted to read one more chapter. We are told the story from Nax’s point of view and I do wish we could have seen the other characters point of view too. I think it would have helped to develop the other characters too.

I really loved that all three female characters were smart and independent. Asra is a genius hacker, Zee is a great medic and actual badass and Case is, well an all round genius. Asra and Zee were my favourite characters and I wish we got to see more of them. I loved how much they all grew throughout the story and how each of the five characters grew closer together and learned to work with each other despite their differences.

If you enjoy fun sci-fi books with lots of action then I definitely recommend this book!

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

Mirage by Somaiya Daud – Book Review

Ever since I heard about Mirage I knew I had to read it and that I would love it. And it’s safe to say it did not disappoint! I devoured this book in two evenings and I was up late into the night because I had to read just one more chapter. I am already dying in anticipation of book two.

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Rating: 4.5/5

So if you haven’t heard of Mirage then here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.
But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.
As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Mirage is a diverse sci-fi fantasy story which is inspired by Moroccan culture. I found this world so original and fresh and I loved the worldbuilding so much! It was so nice to the Moroccan heritage and culture incorporated into the story. The worldbuilding is so intricate and done so well. It was so nice to see a world which is original especially in a sci-fi setting, the cultures of both the Vathek (oppressors) and Kushaila (oppressed) and their power dynamics are so intriguing and well written.

The characters are also so well written and fleshed out. They are complex and interesting to read about and have great character development. Amani is smart and sassy but she learns to be diplomatic and manage tense political alliances. She is brave but also shows vulnerability and admits she is afraid. I loved that we are shown that she is afraid but still persists in her goal.

Maram is initially shown as cold, abrasive and arrogant but we soon learn that there is more than meets the eye. I loved how she develops and we get a deeper look at what she is truly like and we see that she has grown up in a difficult situation and she is more vulnerable than she allows to be seen.

Idris is my new book boyfriend! I adore him even though we don’t get to see a lot of him what we do see is a young man who despite having to live among those who murdered his family is still kind and compassionate. He is very diplomatic and smart and knows how to play the long. He is also fun and charming and shows a different side to him when he learns who Amani is.

I loved seeing the relationships develop between Amani and Idris and Amani and Maram. They were complex and realistic and I am looking forward to seeing more of them and how their relationships develop in the next book. The side characters who we see for short periods are also well written and are all interesting to read about.

I also loved the Arabic poetry incorporated into the story and that it was not only an important part of Amani’s and Idris’ culture but also important to the story. It also gave us a glimpse of how the Kushaila culture was before the Vathek came and destroyed most of it in the war.

One of the aspects of the story that I found really interesting was how prejudice against a group of people can lead to the oppression of them. But also that by actually learning about the culture and way of life can help to overcome the prejudice. This was something I saw as Amani’s and Maram’s relationship developed and they started to become friends.

The story itself was well rounded and had a full arc as well as setting up a larger plot to continue in the next book. I really liked this as normally we are left on a cliffhanger just as the plot starts to develop in the first book.

I highly recommend reading this book! It was wonderfully written and left me wanting more! It was also so wonderful to see diverse cultures and the Moroccan heritage, as it’s not something we usually see in books. I am really looking forward to continuing the story.

Booksish Discussions, Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Books On My Fall TBR

Hey booknerds! I’m taking part in another week of Top Ten Tuesday!
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. You can find more information here

So there is so many books I want to read before the year is over but these are definitely high up on my TBR

1 Legendary by Stephanie Garber – I adored Caraval and I have been waiting for ages to read this book but I still haven’t got round to reading it

2 Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas – I am simultaneously excited and scared to read this book and I know I will be a mess by the end of it

3 Vengeful by V.E. Schwab – I love Vicious and I have been waiting for this book for forever! I cannot wait for this book to release

4 Renegades by Marissa Meyer – The Lunar Chronicles is one of my all time favourite series and I am excited to dive into this trilogy too

5 This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada – I have heard so many great things about this book and I’ve been wanting to read it for ages

6 Obsidio by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman – I adore Illuminae and Gemina so I really need to get to Obsidio asap

7 Iron Gold by Pierce Brown – The Red Rising trilogy is one of my favourites by so brutal and I’m kind of scared to read Iron Gold because I can imagine it being just as brutal and I don’t know if I can stand the wait in between books

8 A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir – Ember and Torch was so brutal but so good and I really need to continue this series

9 The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli – The Last Namsara was so good so I’m looking forward to being back in this world

10 Mirage by Somaiya Daud – I have heard nothing but amazing things so I’m really excited to read this!

So these are some of my top books on my TBR for the next few months. I’m really excited to get to these and I hope they’re as good as I think they will be!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What books do you want to read soon?

Fiction Books, YA Books

Jinxed By Amy McCulloch ARC Book Review

I picked this ARC up at the Northern YA Lit Festival and I am so happy that I got this! I really loved this book and I loved that there was emphasis on STEM and that the main character, Lacey, was unashamedly nerdy!

Jinxed publishes on August 9th

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Rating:4.5/5

So if you don’t know what the book is about here is the synopsis from goodreads:

Lacey Chu has big dreams of becoming a companioneer for MONCHA, the largest tech firm in North America and the company behind the “baku” – a customisable smart pet that functions as a phone but makes the perfect companion too. When Lacey finds out she hasn’t been accepted into Profectus – the elite academy for cutting edge tech – it seems her dreams are over. Worst of all, rather than getting to choose one of the advanced bakus, she’s stuck with a rubbish insect one.
Then, one night, Lacey comes across the remains of an advanced baku. Once it might’ve been in the shape of a cat but it’s now mangled and broken, no sign of electronic life behind its eyes. Days of work later and the baku opens its eyes. Lacey calls him Jinx – and Jinx opens up a world for her that she never even knew existed, including entry to the hallowed halls of Profecus. Slowly but surely, Jinx becomes more than just a baku to Lacey – he becomes her perfect companion. But what is Jinx, really? His abilities far surpass anything written into his code or built into his motherboard. He seems to be more than just a robotic pet. He seems … real.

So I wasn’t sure what to expect but it sounded really interesting and there was a mention of a cat so of course I had to read it (crazy cat lady here!). And I’m so glad I did as I loved it!

It’s a sci-fi book but it’s actually pretty close to real life that you can really believe the world it’s set in. I loved the way that STEM is a huge part of the book from Lacey wanting to be a companioneer, which is basically someone who comes up with the technological advances of the bakus, to Zora and her insane coding abilities!

This book although had some romance wasn’t a huge part of the book which I loved. There was more about friendships and everyone focused on building their career in their fields. The friendships was one of my favourite parts of the book. From Lacey and Zora’s friendship to Lacey and Jinx’s friendship and of course Lacey and her team mates in school. It showed several different types from old, solid friends to building new friends.

Zora and Lacey’s friendship is amazing because it was so relatable and realistic. They become friends through a shared love of wanting to work in similar career fields. This builds into the amazing friendship that they have.

One of my favourite quotes in the book is also about friendship:

Friendship is about choice. Not obligation.

Jinx was one of my favourite characters in the book with his witty, sarcastic remarks. He is sassy and snarky and forever getting Lacey in trouble. And I loved that Lacey never gives up on him and that he tries to help and protect Lacey. By the end of the book even I felt really protective over Jinx and I wish I could have him as my baku!

This book also dealt with how some people are privileged and that not having it puts you at a disadvantage. Lacey has to deal with the fact that although she has gone above and beyond all the requirements to get into Profectus Academy she is still rejected. But she didn’t give up and she worked hard to get to where she is despite the disappointment and resentment she feels.

This book kept me on my feet from the beginning and kept me wanting to read more, just one more chapter, which resulted in me staying up half the night to finish the book. Everything that happened felt like it was building up to something big and I just needed to know!

The ending left me shocked and I really hope that there is a sequel because I need to be back in this world and know what will happen after that ending!

If you have read this book then let me know what you thought!

Please note that all quotes from the ARC are subject to change in the final book.