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Hiya!!! For those of you that don’t know me from Instagram, I’m Anisha and from the UK!! I started bookstagram at the start of April this year, but have always thought about blogging!!! I did try a while back but due to exams that started I deleted it and have now decided to start over!! This blog is going to be all about books!!! (Maybe some book-based movies and small rants as well 😁) I love everything bookish but my favourite merch has to be candles and bookmarks so plenty of pictures featuring candes and bookmarks will appear 😄. My favourite fandom is Shadowhunters!!! And of course that means my book boyfriend is Jace but my favourite couple have to be Magnus and Alec (or Malec 😍😍).. I will be postinf reviews quite a lot and of course if you guys want to get in touch you can just drop me a DM on instagram!!! My username is @bookanishgirl 😊😊

I’ll post again soon with a book review so stay in touch 💖💖

The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book: The Theft of Sunlight (Dauntless Paths #2)

Author: Intisar Khanani

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5/5

Pages: 528

Release Date: 23rd March 2021

Purchase Link: Amazon UK,

Synopsis:

I did not choose this fate. But I will not walk away from it.

Children have been disappearing from across Menaiya for longer than Amraeya ni Ansarim can remember. When her friend’s sister is snatched, Rae knows she can’t look away any longer – even if that means seeking answers from the royal court, where her country upbringing and clubfoot will only invite ridicule.

Yet the court holds its share of surprises. There she discovers an ally in the foreign princess, who recruits her as an attendant. Armed with the princess’s support, Rae seeks answers in the dark city streets, finding unexpected help in a rough-around-the-edges street thief with secrets of his own. But treachery runs deep, and the more Rae uncovers, the more she endangers the kingdom itself.

My review of Thorn can be found here.

Which of us has not made mistakes when faced with more than we can handle?

Thorn, Intisar Khanani

I don’t think I can quite describe how much I loved this book. I thought Thorn was a masterpiece but this book surpassed all my expectations (and they were already quite high!)

Intisar managed to write an absolutely perfect sequel to Thorn. Whilst it can be read as a standalone, the story is much better with the background in place from the first book. Seeing my favourite characters from book 1 was amazing and I cannot wait for more.

There’s always a way out if you look hard enough

The Theft of Sunlight, Intisar Khanani

The characters felt stronger in this book and the plot is more focused. I loved Alyrra and Rae, and they truly were balanced well by their counterparts.

I loved seeing Rae work through her disability as opposed to against it. Although there were times where she was limited in what she could do, she always found ways to tackle it and work around the issue.

The fact that she learned to fight because she couldn’t run was incredible and strengthened her character. As did her using politics to her advantage whenever she was unable to fight.

Perhaps I cannot fix everything in this moment. But I can do this: start somewhere and keep going.

Thorn, Intisar Khanani

I cannot really think of anything I would like to change or add to this books to make it better but I honestly cannot wait to see what Intisar writes and releases next.


All in all – this book was absolutely fabulous and I definitely recommend it! But fair warning to everyone – there IS a cliffhanger.

A few of the things I loved:

-Rae (of course). Not only is she a fierce character, she also has a disability that often influences how she sees the world and herself in it. I’m not the best judge of this particular part of the book but I do believe that Intisar handled this issue extremely well.

-The romance (duh!) I absolutely love how Intisar handles romance. It’s always subtle and extremely well developed.

-The themes. This book is a bit dark and deals with the issue of human trafficking. I felt that the book dealt with this issue with the appropriate gravity. It’s not sensationalized in the book or exploitative.

Trickery is just another word for betrayal.

The Theft of Sunlight, Intisar Khanani

In conclusion, I absolutely recommend both Thorn and the Theft of Sunlight to anyone who loves political intrigue and retellings!

The Upside of Falling by Alex Light – 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book: The Upside of Falling

Author: Alex Light

Genre: YA Contemporary

Rating: 4/5

Pages: 416

Release Date: 18th February 2020

Purchase Link: Book Depository

Synopsis:

It’s been years since seventeen-year-old Becca Hart believed in true love. But when her former best friend teases her for not having a boyfriend, Becca impulsively pretends she’s been secretly seeing someone.

Brett Wells has it all. Being captain of the football team and one of the most popular guys in school, he should have no problem finding someone to date, but he’s always been more focused on his future than who to bring to prom. When he overhears Becca’s lie, Brett decides to step in and be her mystery guy. It’s the perfect solution: he gets people off his back for not dating and she can keep up the ruse.

Acting like the perfect couple isn’t easy though, especially when you barely know the other person. But with Becca still picking up the pieces from when her world was blown apart years ago and Brett just barely holding his together now, they begin to realize they have more in common than they ever could have imagined. When the line between real and pretend begins to blur, they are forced to answer the question: is this fake romance the realest thing in either of their lives?

I have been reading quite a bit of contemporary lately and I’m trying to get my hands on my more so I was absolutely pumped when I saw this was on the Harper360 YA newsletter! I was even more excited when I found this on my doorstep a while later!

I loved that the story gave both Brett and Becca’s points of view! It’s a small thing but I hate not knowing everything behind the scenes and having to wait until it’s explained by the character later. Furthermore, I adored that this wasn’t just a story about Becca and Brett’s relationship! I loved seeing Becca with her friends and healing a few rifts as well! There is definitely room for another book from a different characters POV with how this one ended.

One thing I didn’t like was the thing Brett’s father which I won’t get into. I understand how and why it was there but I wouldn’t find myself ever excusing that so that was a no-go for me.

I loved how Becca dealt with the issue of her father and that I liked a lot more! It was exactly as it should have been and she shouldn’t have been the one to initiate at that as well. It was great!

Overall, the book was a great, light and easy read and I can easily see myself reading more from the author! I hope there’s another book with the other character’s (you’ll know who if/when you read it ;)) POV as there’s so much that can be built upon and strengthened.

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood – 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book: The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates #1)

Author: A.K. Larkwood

Genre: SFF (Science-Fiction/Fantasy)

Rating: 4/5

Pages: 464

Release Date: 11th February 2020

Purchase Link: Book Depository

Synopsis:

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

I’d love to start this by saying that whilst the queer rep does not apply to me, I’m glad it’s a queer author writing queer characters! It’s what Own Voices basically is, so that is amazing.

And the book was amazing! I found it a bit hard to get into but I think that was more to do with the slump I was in than anything else, but around 100 pages… I was fully immersed in the absolutely stunning writing by Larwood! The characters were interesting, had their development and there’s action! (Also romance… of course!)

I loved that the book was defy the expectations and follow your own destiny trope! It’s not one I’ve read often but I want more now! Not just that, but this book always had the basic underlying tone screaming “you have a choice!” And that in itself is beautifully handled, because whilst the concept is fantastic, we all know how difficult it actually is to make a choice! Well, I assume we do anyway… I mean, I’ll stare at my bookshelf for two hours trying to decide and make a choice on which book I want to read and still pick nothing. Or is that just me? Anyhow… this book handled the concept wonderfully… not just the actual choice aspect but the consequences that often arise from a decision you made.

Freedom and choice- alongside loyalty and love- were amongst the most dominant themes in the book and they were wonderfully handled! I loved the dynamic between the characters too, especially Csorwe and Shuthmili- it’s wonderful to see the characters develop and maintain an impactful arc through the story, and Larkwood handled it beautifully!

All in all, I’d love to read more of Csorwe and I can’t wait for the next book!

My one disappointment was that I got bored once or twice during the storytelling, maybe due to me binge reading it, but there were aspects that didn’t fully capture my attention.

And finally, thank you so much to Jamie-Lee for an ARC of this wonderful book! I can’t wait to see the sequel!

Diversity in Publishing Part 3

Here we go. It’s been a while but I have more, unfortunately. And this has a few things about reviewers that irks me especially when they review books. So let’s begin.

I am going to start this with Aurora Rising. I know it’s been a popular one from 2019 but there’s an issue. Or issues. And one is before the 100 page mark. And that is this.

There was no need for the half Chinese comment. I can assure you that PoC do NOT think like that. At all. I never look at a really pale person and think “ah. She’s too white. And not in the way like I’m brown and she’s not. But her skin was far too pale.” I’ve never thought that and I can assure you, hardly anyone that’s a PoC has. It’s not natural for that to be the first thought in your mind when you see someone. Another thing I’ll add to the first, a genuine question/observation. Aurora does not seem like a PoC or half Chinese on the cover of the book to me. I’m not sure if that’s just my observation but it actually came as a shock to me when I read the book and found she was half Chinese.

The second issue is one with reviewers. If you are reviewing a book, please make sure you do not reduce the rating because of your lack of understanding on a certain culture or subject. I’m not going to pick up a book on Chinese cultures and give it 2 stars because I was very confused about the festivals etc. It is not an author’s job to describe a religion or culture that already exists or even educate you on it. I say this because of 2 instances (that I know of.)

Number 1

My So-Called Bollywood Life. It was an amazing contemporary with so many references to movies that I watched whilst growing up, and I loved it. And if you know anything about Hindus, it’s that astrology is a major aspect. The Pandit (priest) in the book is a part of the religion. Furthermore, if you know anything about bollywood, it’s the huge emphasis on drama. Every scene is pretty much OTT (over-the-top) from the fighting to the dramatic delivery of lines. So, just by looking at the title and reading the blurb, 2 things should be clear. One, the book will be leaning towards overly-dramatic. Two, religion will play a big role in the book. And both are true. However. I read a review that gave it a low rating for being overly dramatic. And even went so far as to state that the elements of fantasy (ie the predictions of the Pandit and astrology) were an odd but nice addition. This screamed ignorance, especially since I felt the author did a decent job of explaining the religion in the book (which she had NO obligation to add), and even if it wasn’t clear, it’s really not hard to check up a few things on the internet. It could take 5, maybe 10, minutes. And if some of you think, “but what if I never learned about this religion or culture?”. Well, firstly, it’s not the author’s job to teach you about it since you’re not reading a non-fiction book on said religion and culture. And if you don’t know about something, does not give you free reign to make assumptions. It’s not nice and is very much offensive to people who follow the religion/culture. Especially when you call it “fantasy”.

Number 2

City of Brass is a popular favourite amongst readers and yet, whenever I read a low rating on the book, one thing consistently seems to show up. Alizayd al Qahtani (one of the MCs) and how it wasn’t “accurate” or even a “fair” depiction of treatment. I can tell you without a doubt that it is accurate and it does happen. Like every religion, there are a very different number of Muslims across the globe. Those who practice and those who don’t. Not to mention the many sects that come under the religion, who all have their own cultures or traditions tied into their practices. Me and my family abandoned our culture in favour of just practising what is taught in the religion and our treatment was exactly like that of Alizayd, by friends and family alike. According to them, we thought we were better, we needed to loosen up, we needed to celebrate certain extra holidays. So my tip for you is, if you do not think it is accurate, doesn’t mean it isn’t accurate. Furthermore, just talk to a few people. I can assure you no Muslim (or anyone else that’s POC) will ever think less of you. Hell, we’d love it if you took the time to understand better! And I can assure you, City of Brass is a perfect read for accurately depicting the different types of Muslims.

To end this second point, here is a summary. Never assume anything! Always take the time to make sure you know what you’re reading and to ascertain it’s accuracy!

I feel like this has been a long post so I’ll end this here, but hopefully (or rather unfortunately), I’m sure I’ll be back with more.

Thorn by Intisar Khanani – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book: Thorn

Author: Intisar Khanani

Genre: YA Fantasy (Retelling of The Goose Girl)

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages: 304

Release Date: 24th March 2020 (originally self-published in May 2012)

Purchase Link: Book Depository

Synopsis:

A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.

First and foremost, I hate that I didn’t read this book when I was in high school! This book deals a lot with the kind of decisions you could choose to make and how you have to be the one to make them. Early teens me could have really used that since I was so insecure within myself that it was easier to let others decide and then it just became a pattern that I’ve only just started to break out of.

I loved this retelling with every bit of my heart. Not going to lie, what I know of The Goose Girl isn’t much (I think I saw a Barbie adaptation of it once..m I was a sucker for Barbie… still am!). So for me, majority of what may be major plot points that others know, I didn’t and I’m kind of glad I didn’t. It makes my sort-of-first experience of The Goose Girl pretty great! I was going to Google (Wikipedia has the best plot summaries) the originale fairytale… or tale. Not very many happy endings when it comes to the true versions of the Grimm Fairytales.

I devoured this book in less than 24 hours. I think total time with breaks came to around 2-3 hours because I could not put this beauty down! It’s beautifully written and I loved pretty much every character! Except like 2 or 3. I especially loved Falada. He was the best and made me cry.

One of the best parts of the book was getting to see Alyrra/Thorn develop friendships with Sage, Violet, Ash, Oak and Rowan! This was among the best found family types and I loved it! I also adored seeing that we get to see the flaws of the characters and, despite these flaws, se fall in love with them. Or maybe even because of them. Kestrin was amazing and I think I may have a new book boyfriend after reading this.

I loved the character arcs and how, fundamentally, this story is about choice. So I naturally got a bit curious and did a bit of research as to what inspired this book. And I’m glad I did.

Intisar Khanani was writing this novel during the year of 9/11 and compassion (which plays heavily into this novel) is a great part of 9/11. I’ve seen and read a few horror stories of how anyone who was Sikh or Muslim or Hindu etc (I could go on) suffered abuse for something they did not do and I think for that to be dealt with properly ( not abusing someone who clearly had nothing to do with an attack and those who were just as horrified, if not more) a certain level of compassion and mercy and, heck, even forgiveness would be needed. Intisar manages to bring these issues to light beautifully in the book and I hope there’s more books in the future set in the world of Thorn because I’d love to see a few favourite characters again!

The ending was very open and I adored it! It doesn’t necessarily need a sequel but at the same time, if a sequel was written it can easily be introduced seamlessly to tackle pretty much anything. I have a few questions but the main plot has been resolved so I’m very happy!

The only reason I haven’t given this the remaining 0.5 stars is because I wanted to see a bit more of culture and maybe even traditions to shine through? Probably not making sense and it’s a small thing to complain about but it would make the places seem all the more real to talk about the types of food and how they maybe differed to Alyrra’s kingdom. Or even festivals that are celebrated.

Finally, I’d like to thank Hot Key Books (and especially Tina Mories!) for a copy of this ARC! I saw this on twitter a while ago and I’m so glad it was brought into the UK!

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book: Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta’s Academy #1)

Author: Sandhya Menon

Genre: YA Contemporary (Retelling with elements of Fantasy)

Rating: 5/5

Pages: 384

Release Date: 18th February 2020

Purchase Link: Book Depository

Synopsis:

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

I had such high hopes starting this and Sandhya did not disappoint! I absolutely loved this desi retelling of Beauty and the Beast! I adored Jaya and Grey, and hopefully we’ll get to see much more of them in future books in this series! Whilst this is a part of series, it has the perfect ending and can be read as a standalone.

Jaya was an amazing character and I feel like she captured what it feels like to be a part of a desi family properly. She mentions it being a responsibility as she’s royalty but at the same time it could apply to most desi families and their expectations of the women in desi families, minus the publicity. Like, the rules aren’t the same and I adore how Isha (Jaya’s sister) is her own person.

I will mention that it would have been nice to have Jaya mention some traditions or maybe even foods that she loved. I would have loved to see more of her Indian background shine through as she was raised in India. However! I’m going to make a point of adding this since I saw people reducing their ratings due to it. Sandhya does NOT have to discuss the racism against or struggle of being a POC in this book or any book she writes! Not all of our stories need to teach an important lesson or discuss something so serious. This was a great book and it is my favourite retelling of Beauty and the Beast to date because of it’s diverse characters and wonderful story! I adored all the main characters and cannot wait to see more from Sandhya!

And Grey. Oh, Grey. I love him. He’s the perfect, brooding ‘beast’ in this retelling and I adored seeing him pop out of his shell! *spoiler alert* I also love how the toxic family aspect of Grey’s story was handled. The curse was so well dealt with, the way it ties into the story is seamless and great! I also adored how Grey wasn’t an a-hole and justified being thus as he’s the “beast”. He doesn’t mistreat anyone which was amazing to see.

Sandhya also brought the side characters to life and I loved that! Leo, Rahul and Daphne Elizabeth were amazing friends and I looked forward to any scene featuring them! Hopefully, they’ll have their own stories to share in future books in this series! The ‘Gaston’ of this story was pretty clear to me but I didn’t know how it would be resolved and it’s safe to say that there were n-

Just kidding! Can’t spoil this for you guys, but I definitely recommend reading this book! It’s amazing and one of the better retellings I’ve read!

Another thing I’d like to add is… I hope the other books in the series are retellings as well, but I’m not too sure. It would be great to see more fairytales (I’m thinking Anastasia and Tangled!) in this series!

And finally, I’d like to end this by saying thank you to Kate Keehan and Hodderscape for sending me an ARC of this book to read and review in advance of the release date!

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Hiya! I’ve got a few reviews to post and this was supposed to be up on Friday but, unfortunately, I’ve not been well so I had to postpone this until now! Another own-voices review coming next week! Hope you all had/have a lovely week. 🙂

Book: Ayesha at Last

Author: Uzma Jalaluddin

Genre: Contemporary (Retelling of Pride and Prejudice)

Rating: 5/5

Pages: 368

Release Date: 4th June 2019

Purchase Link: Wordery

Synopsis:

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

Read to the ending for a mini glossary of any terms you may not understand! 🙂

First off, Khalid is absolutely amazing. I loved him. He was perfect and I need more of his awkwardness. I loved reading from his perspective, and knowing what he was thinking but what he ended up saying…. well, I’m in love. He’s so adorable!

Now for the actual review.. I’m going to be honest and put it out there. I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice so I can’t speak for how this retelling is accurate or how good the characters stay true to themselves etc. But I loved everything about this book. I definitely recommend it to everyone, not only because the storyline is great but because it’s a great depiction of how culture is so different from religion and it’s annoying how so many people misunderstand or don’t know that.

I hated Sheila with a passion I didn’t realise I was capable of. She’s introduced early in the story and I don’t think she got what she deserved at the end. She deserved something a lot worse. But at the same time, I love how Khalid and team (Clara and Amir) handled it because it’s so close and true to what Islam teaches. All he asked for was his right and he didn’t actually humiliate or throw Sheila under the bus, because kindness (even to someone who hates you) is something that is a part of the sunnah (actions/teachings of the Prophet (pbuh)).

I also adore how Uzma talked about something that culture often ignores. Khadija (RA) – the first wife of the Prophet (pbuh) – was a successful businesswoman. And she was the one to propose to the Prophet (pbuh). She was his most steadfast ally and by his side. I adored that. And what Clara did towards the end with Khalid, Rob and Ayesha … You go, girl!

I adored Ayesha’s family. Her nani was amazing, her nana was absolutely epic and the kitchen scene makes me swoon everytime! The relationships were so well developed, you could see how and what the characters thought without reading from their perspective. There were so many different depictions of the characters and I loved it. I need more of Khalid and Ayesha, and I definitely need more of Zareena!

Oh and another thing. The notebooks. Oh, the notebooks! *swoon* A certain introvert didn’t protest something and made me scream mentally when I first found out about the notebooks.

Overall, this book was an amazing diverse book on how damaging and toxic culture actually is, the many many ways Islam is misunderstood and the amazing and complex relationships between people. Not to mention a few toxic relationships that you definitely could do without. I definitely recommend reading it!

And here’s the mini glossary as promised:

Nani – Mother’s mother

Nana – Mother’s father

pbuh – Peace be upon Him

RA – RadiAllahu Anha (May Allah be pleased with Her)

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book: A Curse so Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers #1)

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Genre: YA Fantasy (Retelling of Beauty and the Beast)

Rating: 5/5

Pages: 484

Release Date: 29th January 2019

Purchase Link:

Synopsis:

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 retelling was absolutely amazing and I loved it! The characters were amazing and I loved the character arc for Harper and Rhen. Grey was the absolute best and I can’t wait to see more of him in the sequel ‘A Heart so Fierce and Broken‘. Especially since it will be from his and Lia’s perspective!

The book was great and I loved how Harper, who has cerebral palsy, did not let that become a weakness for her in any way. She refused to let it stop her from doing anything, and she gave as good as she got. It’s just a part of her and she never let it become this big thing she was constantly thinking about or even letting it limit what she could do. This book got brownie points for that alone. But seeing how fiercely protective she was of those she loved, how she wanted to be seen as she was, instead of someone less because of her CP was amazing. I loved seeing how she took control and pulling Grey and Rhen out of some situations. And the way she fell into her role of Princess of Disi made me cackle and love her all the more.

Rhen had an amazing character arc and I can’t wait to see what happens in the sequel with Grey, especially after the bombshells dropped on us in the last few chapters of the book! It’s going to be entertaining, and maybe even heart wrenching and I cannot wait! The storyline was a bit confusing at the start with how the seasons worked but it is explained a bit more clearly towards the middle of the book, and I had my light bulb moment when I realised how it worked.

Overall, the book was great, with beautiful world-building and even better characters. Brigid seamlessly introduced plot points that could or will be relevant in the sequel and the plot twists were dropped at the perfect point to put you in shock for a moment or two. I cannot wait to see where the sequel will take us! And of course, to explore more of Emberfall and neighbouring kingdoms!

Love, Secret Santa Blog Tour Day 8 – 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Read to the end for an extract!

Book: Love, Secret Santa

Author: S.A. Domingo

Genre: YA Contemporary

Rating: 4/5

Pages: 384

Date Published: 29 October 2019

Purchase Link: Book Depository

Synopsis:

It’s nearly Christmas, but Angel Green isn’t celebrating – she’s too busy studying for a scholarship exam. On top of that, she’s organising her school’s charity fundraising campaign to help a local hospice. Unfortunately, her fundraising partner is Caspar Johnson: handsome, creative and fun, but TOTALLY unreliable.

Thank goodness for her Secret Santa who keeps leaving her amazing presents, including an intriguing hand-made advent calendar! Angel is dying to find out who her secret admirer is . . .

As they spend time together planning festive events, Angel realises that Caspar has hidden depths – and a secret that he’s hiding behind his easy-going facade. Her advent calendar encourages Angel to take risks and open her heart – but has she left it too late to tell Caspar how she really feels?

I have to start this blog tour by saying how absolutely cute and adorable this story was! I love YA Fantasy but it’s amazing to be able to read sweet books like this, especially around the holiday season!

I adored Angel and Caspar! As the two MCs they were amazing and I was smiling throughout whilst witnessing their interactions! And the ending! I love how perfect the ending was. The secondary characters in the book also took on a life of their own which was great to see because it’s often easy to forget about secondary characters in books but not this one! Izzy and Ola (Angel’s friends) were so loving and supportive, it was easy to picture this book with a sequel or two that told their stories!

Another thing I absolutely adored was the diversity!! The POC characters were great to see and it’s amazing to read holiday stories about and from the perspective of POC! Not only that, the warm and loving relationship Angel had with her mother was so heartwarming and something I could relate to! I loved being able to read this as it’s very hard to find a YA book that shows this aspect of the relationship between parent and child.

Caspar was adorable and I loved it wasn’t a story of “bad boy” but rather one of a popular boy who loves (and I mean loves) art! I could definitely relate to that.

Overall, this story was perfect since there were so many small things that I could relate to with pretty much all the characters. There wasn’t much to go in terms of plot twists or surprises, which is why it makes this such a great holiday read. A book with a primary motive of making you feel warm and fuzzy inside! Definitely recommend for any young bookworm who loves warm and loving reads.

P.S I should add there is talk of a past death of a parent and epilepsy if anyone wants to know but that’s all I can think of that may require a warning.

And now for the extract!

‘I have to study, Izzy,’ she said, turning back to her friend. ‘You know there’s no way I’m going to get into Dunstable Academy without that scholarship. And they’ve got the best—’ ‘A-level science departments in the country, yeah, yeah, I know,’ Izzy finished, with an affectionate smile. ‘I also know that there’s no way you’re not going to be Doctor Angel Green within a few years, Dunstable Academy or no. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself! We’re sixteen. We’re meant to be having some fun!’ ‘Fun is a myth to me until that scholarship exam on the twentieth,’ Angel replied, taking a mouthful of no-longer-hot chocolate with a grimace. She nudged her mobile phone as it rested on the table. The screen lit up with the familiar background image of Angel and her mother, Ruth, grinning with their cheeks pressed together. Identical glowing, deep-brown skin, sculpted lips and wide, dark eyes . . . Angel smiled back at the image – then noticed the time. ‘Hang on, it’s nearly five o’clock already?’ She started gathering up her textbooks and pens, shoving them into her backpack. ‘I said I’d meet Mum and help her carry the shopping home after her shift.’ Izzy nodded, pulling a thick, well-worn novel from her backpack. Beauty tutorial videos and books were her twin passions. Angel loved that her friend wasn’t easy to pin down. ‘I think I’m going to chill here for a bit,’ Izzy said, her eyes drifting back over to the Patel brothers’ table. ‘You know, enjoy the view . . .’ Angel laughed, pulling on her mustard-yellow coat and winding her fluffy green scarf around her neck. She swung her bag on to her shoulder and bent down to kiss Izzy’s cheek quickly. ‘If you say so. Be good!’

If you want to read the next part, keep an eye out for Amy’s Blog Post coming on the 18th December!

Thank you so much to Team BKMRK for letting me take part in this blog tour!

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book: We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1)

Author: Hafsah Faizal

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5/5

Pages: 472

Date Published: 14 May 2019 (US), 8 August 2019 (UK)

Purchase Link: Book Depository

Synopsis:

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

First an foremost, I had such high hopes for this book! Ever since the first few ARCs went out and I began to see it popping up on Twitter around January and February, I started to anticipate the release date! The book was extremely hyped. And it was well worth every single bit of praise. I absolutely loved this book! I’m not one for poetry so when I saw reviews stating the writing was “poetic”, I began to doubt how much I’d love the book. But it was perfection. I loved the descriptions, the characters, the relationships! I also loved how words like “habibi” weren’t slanted and were just a part of the story! It’s such a small, simple thing but none of the Arabic words needed definitions as the context always seemed to translate the words!

“We Hunt the Flame, the Light in the Darkness”

The characters were perfect in their imperfections! I loved seeing the characters develop and the layers unfold. More than anything, I loved how their relationships with each other build. Who doesn’t love a group of misfits that want to kill each other but then begin to care for each other? The Zumra is basically my favourite group now!

“A thousand leagues and a thousand sands. For you, a thousand times I would defy the Sun.”

And it’s not the just the main characters! I loved the side characters, Yasmine and Deen most of all! They were perfect and their love for Zafira was awe-spiring. And Deen. Oh, Deen. The plot built up beautifully from the beginning and I can’t wait to see where the sequel takes the characters!

“Be as victorious as the name I have given you, and bring the desert to it’s knees.”

The relationships between the characters were amazing. You got to see the building trust between them. Altair is perfect. His jokes and the way he pushes all of Nasir’s buttons is exactly how I envisioned his relationship with Nasir and Hafsah delivered on it perfectly! Nasir and Zafira, on the other hand. It was the best enemies-to-lovers I’ve ever read.

Love is for children, said the girl.
Death is for fools, said the shadow.
Darkness is my destiny, said the boy.
Allegiance is my undoing, said the eagle.
Suffering is our fate, said the beauty.
And they were all horribly wrong.

I only have one problem with it’s book. And that is the ending. I was not prepared for the cliffhanger nor am I patient, so the wait for We Free the Stars is killing me. All I have to do is remember the epilogue and that’s it. I would definitely recommend reading this book, if not for the plot then definitely for the characters!

The Tesla Legacy by K. K. Peréz – 🌟🌟🌟

This is a catch-up and I made notes on this book whilst I was going along so this is mildly spoiler-ish!

First and foremost… I absolutely loved that there was science! And more than that, a young girl interested in science! It was perfect and I loved it! I also loved how we see the vulnerability and strength of Lucy! I enjoyed being able to see how overprotective her parents were in relation to her health and how sometimes it wasn’t exactly the best thing as it tended to make her feel… almost dependent and weak. So getting to see how she fought for her independence and prove that she wasn’t weak or disadvantaged because of her health was great!

However, I did feel a bit strange reading about her romantic life as it was… awkward and very uncomfortable at times so it pushed into how I rated the book. I found it awkward to read on the teacher-student thing regardless of the age so it did affect the final rating I gave this book.

I would have loved to have a few equations maybe?

I’m just a huge math nerd so I would just love to see some equations and working out for how she came to her final idea for her science project. It would have been cool but it wasn’t needed. This is just me being me and loving to read about maths lol.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to those who love physics and a bit of fantasy mixed in! It’s amazing if you don’t mind the romance bit!

Geekerella & The Princess and the Fangirl Review – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

It’s been a while but with university and a bit going on at home, I’ve not had the chance to write a blog post! So I decided to backtrack through my favourite reads this year (and blog posts that should have been done long ago but were instead shortened into instagram and twitter posts to review… oops!) First up is the Once Upon a Con books by Ashley Poston! I hadn’t read Geekerella until this April/May and I only read it this because the amazing Jamie-Lee offered The Princess and the Fangirl up for review and it sounded amazing! So I accepted, of course!

And let me tell you… I have never been so happy to have accepted because the book was amazing!! And I then read Geekerella (who even reads books in order anymore?!)

First up… my review for Geekerella!

I have read many retellings as a teen since I love seeing the extra touches the authors add but this tops the list! Not only was the basic concept of the story amazing, I actually found myself shedding a few tears in certain scenes! And I love (LOVE) how there were so many nods to all other fandoms! I really loved the Marvel nods, of course. Everytime I saw mention of any marvel character or even a part of marvel, I found myself squealing! And it’s not just Marvel! There were references to Doctor Who, as well! I wish I could tell you the other fandoms but I honestly have no idea because I haven’t seen or read that many of them 😅 I also loved the setting of the con! Like I only went to a con once last year (YALC/ LFCC) and there were so many things to relate to!?! All the cosplays and the vendors and stalls… it was amazing to read about!

The Princess and the Fangirl not only expanded on this, but there were references to newer releases!! I loved it and honestly I think I need a reread because it was amazing! Not going to lie I thought this was a Princess and the Frog retelling at first because I’ve never seen or read Princess and the pauper so I was really confused and then I actually did some research and realised what was happening… I think I need to read a lot more fairytales! This book was so important because I don’t think anyone quite realises how differently people may view the same role or character and it was about finding the perfect balance without being complete jerks to those who love a certain thing and those who don’t. You should never feel pressured to like or love something and yet that doesn’t mean you can mock or belittle those who do like it! An eye-opener and Ashley’s amazing kiss at the end of the book was great as always! Well worth the anticipation and the angst that usually comes before!

Now I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the third book which is a Beauty and the Beast retelling! Thank you so much to Jamie for introducing me to this amazing series and can’t wait to see what other retellings there will be in the future!

My Issues with Diversity in Publishing- Part 2

If you haven’t read the last blog post, please do so since there are some major issues on that post but I’m back with more because there’s so much that can be done to make this better.

First and foremost, I’d like to thank The Tsundoku Chronicles (aka Neelam) for helping me with this to make sure I have good examples and with the most detail!

To continue, another issue I find is books being published that have diverse characters… but are written by white and/or straight authors. I’d much rather read a book about, say, PoC but from a PoC author. It makes it so much more personal and they know how best to cover experiences they will have had! For example, Andy Weir’s Artemis came out in 2017. He wrote a female character from Saudi Arabia, who does not normally wear a niqab (picture below), but does so to steal something. Can you see where I’m going with this? There is just so much wrong in that scene and to find that this book has received awards actually makes me sick. How can anyone think that is okay? It’s the equivalent of having a character feign a disability because that’s damaging for those who have mental health illnesses or disabilities that are not always visible and are always told they are faking it. It’s wrong on so many levels! It’s perpetuating a stereotype and reinforces it to the public. This gives people the ammunition they need to say “See, it’s dangerous.” And now we have laws passing in countries to ban the niqab. I’m not saying the book caused that but it’s definitely not helping. Banning us from wearing an article of clothing, taking away our freedom in following our religion is oppression and nothing justifies oppression. Now this does not mean don’t make your books diverse at all. But don’t make it a point of having a diverse MC if you cannot tackle the issues that come with it and do not understand in the slightest what it’s like to be a part of the group you are writing.

Image from Google.

Now this goes for LGBT+ as well. Do not write about something you have no experience with or cannot properly justify or explain. Even better, don’t write about something you clearly have little to mediocre knowledge on.

I’ll mention a book that I love now and it is the Magnus Chase trilogy by Rick Riordan. I’m going to talk about the rep I know was done right because I cannot speak for LGBT+ but the Muslim rep was amazing and perfect. He covered some major aspects of the religion and he showed Islam in a wonderful light! It’s actually enlightening for those who may not have actually known much about the religion. Now this is a white author who is doing it right. He is doing the research, and doing it properly. He is not looking at the media or what is assumed about the religion. He is looking at the religion and the beliefs themselves from the perspective of Muslims. He’s making sure he’s not perpetuating stereotypes and this is the type of content I wish I had when growing and will definitely have my sisters read as they’re growing up.

Picture from the ever-amazing The Tsundoku Chronicles

Now this second issue in this post is not directly related to the publishers but to the bloggers and readers of the community. I believe for publishing to actually change, we need to work together and for everyone, equally. I’m saying this because if there is bad rep for LGBT+ people in a book, I will hear about it because everyone will be talking about it and it will be shared to the point that the book may be boycotted. It will most likely get a response from the author and the publishers as well. But when there is bad rep for another minority (we’re going back to Love, Hate and Other Filters for this one) why do I have to spend money on the book, actually read it for myself to find out? Why is it never addressed by the author or publishers? I believe if we’re going to ask for diversity we should ask for diversity that will truly represent people and their experiences rather than just stating “here’s a Muslim, brown MC” and then not addressing it for the rest of the book unless it’s to just remind someone that the book is diverse. I want to see myself in a character. I don’t want to read a book and find myself hating the character and essentially cursing the author for terrible rep. Another example for this is when pretty much nothing was said about the bad Queer PoC rep (which is poorly covered already in publishing) in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue but when it came to the author writing trans people wrong there was a massive uproar.

I will end this blog post on another note which relates to religion this time. I feel like there’ll be a part three since there’s so much more I want to say. But we need more bloggers to champion everything of significance. For example, Ramadan this year. There was a Ramadan Readathon and only PoC were actually championing and pushing it. It was almost as if it wasn’t even happening for others but I could actually see some people counting down towards pride month which was AFTER Ramadan. It would be amazing to see everyone pushing to promote these things. I know a lot of PoC championing pride month even though they’re not part of the LGBT+ community. I would just love to have the same people extend that courtesy to others. And not just Muslims, but Jews and Hindus etc as well. Same thing for #BlackLivesMatter. These are amazing things to promote regardless of whether it directly affects you or not.

My Issues with Diversity in Publishing- Part 1

I have only covered a few issues I’ve found over publishing but I’ll definitely be doing more parts to this as I wasn’t able to cover everything since there’s just so many problems. Feel free to add any other problems you may have in the comments.

We all know diversity in publishing is a major problem but not just for everyone. Specifically, People of Colour (PoC) authors and when it comes to reviews, PoC bloggers/bookstagrammers.

What is diversity?

*I’ve pulled this from the internet word for word and will leave a link for it directly below but it covers everything*

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect.
It means understanding that each individual is unique,
and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along
the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs,
political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration
of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.
It is about understanding each other and moving beyond
simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the
rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

The definition is from here.

It has a pretty wide range when you read it. But publishing has failed to be properly diverse for a very long time. Only recently are more diverse books being printed.

However.

My problem with publishing isn’t the diverse books. It’s the way diversity is tackled.

Now, the publishers tend to publish a lot more LGBT+ content and nothing really happens for the minorities from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there should be less LGBT+ books or they should stop publishing that content because it’s great people are seeing themselves in books!

What I’m saying is publishing needs to be more inclusive for those who are Muslim, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Prime-Indigenouse etc. The list goes on and on and on. And no, not just for religions either. For ethnic backgrounds as well. I want to read more about people from different regions of Africa, different regions of Asia. And when I say Asia, I mean Asia. Not just China or Japan. I mean Singapore, Iran, Pakistan, India etc. I’m a British Asian and I always feel weird even when filling out forms because they have British Asian on the form… And then they have British Pakistani. Pakistan is in Asia.

Now I want to point out a little something. Most of you may have heard of Once and Future. An LGBT+ retelling of the Arthurian Legend with a main f/f romance. And that’s great. But the rep for other minorities. Not so great. Below is a passage directly from the book. It’s been covered slightly when a friend sent it to me but it gets the point across.

Now that’s damaging for Arabs. And not just Arabs because, generally, when a person mentions an Arab the assumption does tend to go towards Muslim (not all Arabs are Muslims). Now add onto this what the media is already saying about Muslims and how majority of us are already far too scared to leave our own homes than we should be. This kind of rep doesn’t help. Not only is it damaging, it’s also deeply offensive.

When people think of police, they generally think it’s a figure of authority to protect them. I’m more scared of the police because I’m a visibly Muslim girl, who uses a backpack. Imagine being scared to use a backpack or wear a nice thick coat.

So whilst the book may be showing diversity by raising one minority, it’s also dragging another.

Another point I’d like to make. How many of you have read a book with a clearly Muslim or any other minority, not including LGBT+ (because I already know plenty of those), in YA recently? I think I could count them all on 10 fingers.

And, again, I’m not saying this because there haven’t been more than 10 published. This is yet another problem. Those that have been published, haven’t been properly promoted.

For example, I Will Not be Erased by Gal-dem (link to bookdepository to support the author and this amazing book) is a book of short stories on experiences as PoC. This book has exactly 4 posts on the publishers Instagram account. Whereas a book, from a well known author, that has already received a response that was amazing, has countless posts. Ironic when you consider the title.

Another problem I will mention (my last one since I’ve already made this quite long) is where the PoC books go when ARCs or early copies are distributed. It annoys me to no end when the books are not reaching those who the books are about. And this include LGBT+ books.

Love, Hate and Other Filters was released last year. I remember the buzz and reading reviews that said it was fantastic, the rep was great. But no one actually prepared me for a book that would make me angry at the main character, how the book would have me mentally screeching that it wasn’t right.

And before it’s mentioned, yes I’m well aware that it was a Muslim main character written by a Muslim author. But there was basically no mention of the religion. None of the values we appreciate and follow in Islam were there. The rep was horrendous because it was a Muslim girl who basically tries to show how westernized she is, but that isn’t right. I get that not every Muslim is practising, or wears a hijab. But I expected something that would make me say, “Yes I can relate to this”. And “OMG, it was the same for me!” I just could not handle how little respect there was from the girl to her parents, when in Islam, we respect our parents regardless of whether they’re Muslim or not. It’s actually a major part of the religion and not even this courtesy was given. Essentially, it came down to the religion and culture being oppressing and western culture being all freedom.

I’ll end my rant here but there is so much more about Diversity in Publishing that annoys me.

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad ARC Review

*This is an ARC review. I received a copy of the eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and all thoughts/opinions in this blog are purely my own*

Book: The Candle and the Flame

Author: Nafiza Azad

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

Pages: 416

Expected Publishing: 14 May 2019

Purchase Link: Amazon US (ships to the UK and is the cheapest option)

Synopsis:

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population — except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

I loved this book! At first it was hard for me to get into, but around 20-30% (basically when I saw the first piece of action) I was hooked! From then, it took me a day or two to finish off the book and then quietly reflect just to realise I wanted more. I want to see more of Fatimah Ghazala and Zulfikar!

One of my favourite parts about this book is the way it just brings the cultures to life and the seamless introduction of this place that has so many religions and cultures just living together. I also loved seeing so many of my favourite sweet treats and many items that I still use the Urdu term for just being casually mentioned because it’s so normal for me.

Another thing I loved is the importance of names. In Islam (Or at least as my family believe in it… not too sure what different sects take on this) but we believe that names are important. More often than not, we tend to notice that people we know with similar names have similar personalities and it was so nice to see that in this book! Here are some of my favourite quotes that may not be in the final copy but I loved them!

S

o as a fun extra… my name is Anisha and it means deep-thinker, sensitive and high. For me… this is more than true as I am sensitive to a lot of things around me and honestly hate a confrontation because I’ll take things too seriously? I don’t know but I’m very sensitive about a lot of things. Deep-thinker… I hate this about myself but I’ll dig myself a hole by overthinking and this is one of those where I will randomly at times just think too deeply on the most common issue. I’m not sure where high fits into all of this but there was a period from the age of 11-15 ish where I was far too hyper (we don’t talk about that here 😂).

Now onto a thing I didn’t like… it was the lists.. this may be me just being picky and nit picking but I did reach the point where I ended up skimming t the listed items when they came up. Aside from that, there’s not much I didn’t like.

And here’s my younger sister, Bellatrix (aka Ruqayyah), cosplaying a scene from the book!

In summary… Nafiza wrote a masterpiece that shares culture and religion in such a beautiful, harmonious way! I loved being able to see a reflection of a part of my family life within some of these characters! I hope to see Fatimah Ghazala and Zulfikar in the future again!