Book Review: God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems

Rating: ★★★★☆

Received an e-arc in exchange for an honest review from the author

When going on a walk with her crush, Michael, Asiya accidently stumbles across a dead body. Knowing that telling the police means revealing to her strict parents that she was with him, Michael covers for her but then goes missing himself. All the evidence points towards Michael but Asiya is sure he’s innocent and is willing to risk everything to help Michael.

This review is painful to write because I literally don’t know what else to say except that I loved this. It was such a fun read. All Asiya wants is a normal life but she’s thrust into a murder mystery and has to use her wits to navigate her way through the investigation. It was such a fun and comical read. And serious at times, especially when Asiya begins to doubt Michael’s innocence. And I really enjoyed the character of Asiya: she’s a head strong lead and her faith and determination drives her to do good, even if she shouldn’t be doing much of the things she does.

Even the attempt of bringing South Asian and Muslim problems forefront was good and done so well. (Asiya and her family are Bangladeshi and anytime I see a Bangladeshi character I immediately go  (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ ) Solving a murder is hard and Asiya struggles with it a lot, especially since she doesn’t want to disappoint her family so she has to work around her family and community. She mentions the inconsistency of her community that allows boys more freedom and their gossiping nature that spreads like wildfire. I hope in the sequel we see Asiya use that to her advantage, like asking her brother to help and do something that she would’ve been easily caught doing but not him.

God Smites is an enjoyable book. I turned every page and I immediately was like “this is so me!” I kind of related more to her younger brother: he just wants to play video games and struggles to pass Maths which is literally my entire educational experience.  I’m also in love with the book’s dedication. For all the girls who were never told someone like them could, not even in booksWith God Smites, I get to read about a Muslim girl go through daily life that’s similar to my own, where I can see myself in her actions and that’s my favourite part of this book. It’s such a real book which portrays such real characters without being stereotypical. Sure, her mother is very strict and her father too, but we also get to see them protect and try to understand Asiya. Their family dynamic was so relatable and funny. They all get frustrated and argue with each other but in the end, they do come together as a family. And that ending, guys, my jaw dropped. It ends with a big revelation and an even bigger cliffhanger. Can I have the sequel now?

I’m going to end this review with my favourite part:

He yelled a general, “Salam alaikum!” and made it halfway to the basement door before he realised something was off.

I actually had to put my Kindle down because I was laughing so much because:

  1. She’s in the middle of being interrogated and he casually walks in like this
  2. I do the same thing when I don’t know if anyone’s home 😂😂

GOODREADS | AMAZON | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | BARNES & NOBLE
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Book Review: If I Was Your Girl

Rating: ★★★★

“I’m not brave,” I said, smiling despite myself. “Bravery implies I had a choice. I’m just me, you know?”

Amanda is the new girl in school and she’s trying to keep a big secret. Amanda is transgender and moves to Tennessee in hopes of keeping her head down and getting through high school. Soon she makes friends and meets Grant.

If I Was Your Girl was such a charming read. I really enjoyed it. The plot, characters and hilarious sense of humour just made this a really great book. I really loved how the narrative jumps between real-time events and Amanda’s childhood. It added great suspense and was equally heart-breaking. (don’t want to spoil but my heart broke at the diary scene)

I’m not a huge romance reader, which is why I put this book off for so long, and while their romance came across generic, I found it so sweet. Maybe my cynical self needed some adorable picnic dates and cute film dates. They were so lovable and dorky together that I didn’t care it cheesy. I also may or may not had become a mushy mess on the train when I read the Halloween scenes. (Spoiler: Grant goes as Boba Fett and Amanda dresses herself as Leia. IT’S SO CUTE I DIED)

What I really enjoyed was the happy ending. In our media, TV, films and novels, there are so many characters who are LGBT+ and are constantly killed off for shock factor. I know it seems like a spoiler but I do see this book advertised like this, Amanda gets a happy ending, despite everything that happens, Amanda’s happy and alive.

Overall, I admired this book. The biggest issue I could think of was pacing in certain scenes but I definitely recommend this to anyone and add this to your TBR if you haven’t! (Also, I loved the separate author’s note Russo adds at the end: one for her cis readers and one for her trans readers.)

I should note while it’s wonderful that anyone reads my reviews at all, but I should remind you if you don’t know: this is a story about a trans girl written by a trans woman and I am a cis reader. This obviously means my perspective is limited and I will point you all towards reviews written by trans writers. (edit: i thought I bookmarked them but it appears I didn’t so once I find them I’ll link them up)


GOODREADS | AMAZON | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | BARNES & NOBLE

Book Review: Written in the Stars

Rating: ★★★★★

Written in the Stars is a common tale that goes unspoken. A tale that is a real life for thousands of women who find themselves facing it every day. Naila’s parents have always given her a choice but when it came to marriage, it was simple: they will choose her husband. Naila’s already fallen in love and when her parents find out, she is whisked away to Pakistan under the pretence that they are visiting family. But the truth is darker and Naila doesn’t have a say in the matter.

Written in the Stars was such an engaging and powerful read. From the very beginning to the very the end, everything goes high-speed for Naila and towards the end, you’re left thinking, will she make it?

Naila is a great protagonist. I loved her hopefulness, her love for Saif and her faith in believing she will make it back home. There are moments when you believe there’s no going back for her, but she fights back. The writing style is simple, but it works here. It was straight and simple to the point so we’re not distracted from every thing that happens to Naila. We, as the reader, are aware of her marriage from the very beginning, but to Naila, she’s completely clueless and the tension rose with ever clue that popped up, unknowingly to Naila. My favourite parts was descriptions of Pakistan an its culture. Its markets, food and the houses packed to the brim with visiting family.

However, it didn’t read perfectly polished, with some scenes happening too quickly and the ending could’ve definitely been slowed down a bit, considering what happens. But, nonetheless, this is a good book. It was intense, frightening and hopeful, all at the same time.

Also, the author’s note was perfect. Saeed mentions that forced marriages can happen anywhere, regardless of culture, country or religion. And I believe Saeed even wrote an article between the distinction between an arranged marriage and a forced one that many people aren’t aware of.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | BARNES & NOBLE

Book Review: Girl Out of Water

Rating: ★★★★☆

In Girl Out of Water, Anise Sawyer finds her final summer before college interrupted when her aunt is in a devastating car accident, which forces her and her dad to make their way to Nebraska to take care of her cousins. Stuck in the triply landlocked state, with three restless cousins, Anise discovers the local skate park and also the charming, one-armed, Lincoln, where she swaps her surfboard for a skateboard.

As someone who isn’t a big YA contemporary reader, I really enjoyed Girl Out of Water. I don’t really know how to describe it. But it was quite peaceful, in comparison, to the other books I’ve been reading. What we have is a heart-warming coming of age novel. Anise thinks she has it all sorted out, but when everything slowly falls apart, she has to take a step back. The more time she spends away from Santa Cruz, away from the sea and her friends, the more she starts to worry that she will become like her mother, who disappears for months on end. Girl Out of Water is Anise realising that, essentially, change has to come and that she doesn’t have to forget the friends she loves and the memories she has in order to make new ones. So the plot isn’t overly dramatic, but it is well-developed. Silverman’s characters were witty, hilarious and diverse. The punchy dialogue and style of writing really reminds me of Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything

Girl Out of Water is a story of first love, relationships, loss and change. I have no doubt that this will top the bestseller lists once it’s released. Its decent plot and cast of fun characters makes me excited to see what else Laura Silverman will publish in the future.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | BARNES & NOBLE

Book Review: We Awaken

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Rating: ★★★★☆

We Awaken is a very quiet story compared to the very dramatic book description. Since her father died in a car accident and her brother in a coma from the same accident, Victoria Dinham lives only for dance and is holding on to being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. Until one night, in her dreams, she counters a girl who holds a message from her brother. Higher stakes and a fuller plot would’ve definitely given this five stars.

We Awaken is sweet and happy. And that’s what I loved about it. Lynn creates this romance that is so cute and adorable between Victoria and Ashlinn. We Awaken is a mix of fantasy and magic in the real world. While I thought the beginning was a bit off once I hit the halfway mark, I was hooked and rooting for Victoria for the rest of the way. It’s much more character-driven so I can tell some people may be disappointed with the lack of explanation of the magic in this but the journey of these two girls is so magical and amazing. They help each other in so many ways. Ashlinn helps Victoria understand her sexuality, who later comes out as Asexual. The representation the book gives which allows younger readers to understand more about it within the comforts of a book makes this book even more important. Victoria learns that nobody but her can decide who she is, and she doesn’t need to explain her choices to anyone.

We Awaken is the kind of book that you easily read in one sitting. And in that one sitting, you read a novel that is dreamlike and enjoyable.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | BARNES & NOBLE

Book Review: Stained

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* I received an ARC of this book from the author.  This in no way affected my opinion of the book. Also, TW: Mentions of rape and abuse.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Stained is an upcoming debut novel by Abda Khan that follows Selina, a British-born Pakistani young woman who is raped by her close, well-respected family friend. Selina is eager to do well in school so she can get into University, but her grades in Economics are the only thing that’s stopping her from achieving her future.It is then when a trusted family friend offers to tutor her but he preys upon Selina’s trusting nature and sexually assault her. Not wanting to bring dishonour on her family and deceased father’s name, we follow Selina go to extreme length to avoid the imminent scandal.

I really appreciated this story. I loved the character of Selina and her story. Despite facing such awful adversity and horrible trauma, she remained strong. She did her best to keep moving forward and learning to find herself despite all she’s faced. And how everything leads to her not reporting the assault is all too realistic and extremely upsetting. There’s so much to liked about this book. Khan’s writing style allows us to fully understand Selina’s action and her situation. I had some issues with the speech some times since it felt quite stiff and didn’t read well but that issue is quite minor compared to how much I enjoyed the rest of the novel. The ending is a happy one, well as happy as it could be, considering what happened. It showed great growth in Selina and how she survived everything ordeal. She was given the opportunity to love again, while she doesn’t outright decline it, she simply takes a step back to focus on herself rather that what everyone else thinks. And I enjoyed that.

As relevant this book is, I would be very specific in who I recommend it to. There’s so many triggering topics that are brought up: rape, miscarriage, murder etc. It’s important to the mentality of the reader that you’re aware. Stained is short but in that time Khan has created a novel that is so important and addressed such an important issue. I am so grateful that I have been given a chance to read this.


you can find the books at:
GoodReads | Author’s website | Amazon |

Book Review: Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel

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you can find the book at:
GoodReads | Author’s bio | Amazon | BookDespository
Rating: ★★★★☆

As an Iranian-American, Leila’s different enough but if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when Saskia shows up, Leila begins to struggle to sort out her feelings.

I really wanted to love this book. It’s diverse, challenging, and absolutely needed in YA. But Farizan’s writing style doesn’t appeal to me as all. What I liked about Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel was that it captured the awkwardness of high school. Leila has a great and sarcastic sense of humour. Her small comments were really funny and I think she’s a well-rounded protagonist. I liked reading about her cultural conflict, in both her sexuality and future. While I can’t relate with the former, I could certainly relate with the latter. This kind of cultural conflict introduces a newer perspective that isn’t really discussed in young adult literature.

However, the story, overall, felt extremely simplistic in terms of plotting and characterisation. And I felt like the story focused way too much on Saskia as an attempt to bring in some drama when Farizan gives us so much more that the novel could’ve focused on if the plot hadn’t revolved around Saskia so much. (Leila’s family, Lisa’s family history, the way she used Twelfth Night was a favourite part of the novel and I really wished that was introduced earlier into the novel and developed more.)

Despite the problems I had with Farizan’s characterisation, I did enjoy Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel. While the plot was a little cheesy and predictable, but the romance between Leila and a certain character was adorable, and I loved their backstory. (but their relationship did feel really rushed) I know I’ll be reading more from Farizan.

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Algonquin Young Readers
ASIN: B00KNCWLP2

Book Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

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you can find the book at:
GoodReads Author’s website | Amazon | BookDespository
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

~ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review~

When Lizzie Lovett disappears mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend, Hawthorn Creely doesn’t care. Why should she? Until she decides to find out why she did and creates a pretty strange theory to explain.

I guess I’m in the middle with THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT. I didn’t absolutely love it but I didn’t despise it either. It was a book that was easily readable and, while I actually didn’t like Hawthorn at all, she was a strangely fascinating character to read. I’m purely giving this three stars because of Sedoti’s writing and the voice of Hawthorn she created.

But for the majority of the book, I was mainly sitting there going, “Really?” Would a seventeen-year-old girl really believe a girl turned into a werewolf? (Maybe if Hawthorne was younger, it would’ve worked but seventeen?) Would the boyfriend of Lizzie Lovett, who is twenty-five, really sleep with a seventeen-year-old girl? And could Hawthorn really fall in love with a missing girl’s boyfriend? Also, Hawthorne’s apparent “Search” for Lizzie is the biggest reach I’ve ever seen. She just followed non-existent clues to solve the disappearance of a girl she didn’t even know. The story dragged on for so long, filled with so much unnecessary details, and explanations. The werewolf theory sounds interesting, and I was hoping it would go somewhere but it didn’t.

While I liked the voice of Hawthorn, everything about her was similar to other contemporary YA protagonists. She’s an outcast, no one will understand her, and she only realises the world doesn’t revolve around her until someone has to yell at her. In some scenes, she pretty sarcastic, using it as a defence against the Mean Girl™ and her group. But was I supposed to be cheering her on when she just slut shames her in front of everyone? I just thought she would rise above that since she knows what it’s like to feel crappy about yourself.

Overall, it was an okay read. A bit strange but it’s not necessarily a book I would go out of my way to recommend to other readers.

Expected publication: January 3rd 2017 by Sourcebooks

Book Review: A Boy Made of Blocks

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you can find the book at:
GoodReads Author’s website | Amazon | Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Rating:  ★★★★★

~ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review~

Thirtysomething Alex is struggling. Struggling to have a close relationship with his autistic son Sam. Struggling to hold onto his failing marriage. Struggling to come to terms with a childhood tragedy. During a trial separation, Alex moves in with his best friend Dan, wondering if his family could ever come back together.

I loved this. It was so good. I don’t know how many ways I can say how amazing this was. Sad, happy, heart-warming and heart-breaking. A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is incredibly humorous and moving. It may sound gloomy, but it’s far from it. At the beginning, you sit there wondering if Alex will ever learn but he does. He learns from his mistakes. He changes his approach in handling Sam’s tantrums and understands his son’s fears. There were so many moving scenes in this. (Tears were streaming heavily when a certain thing was destroyed but my heart was warmed when it was fixed.) There were certain moments where Alex knows he shouldn’t yell at Sam but continues to do so and that really irked me. I guess it was for the sake of the plot, but I just didn’t like it.

The incorporation of Minecraft is one of the best parts of this book. People often unfairly associate Video Games with negative things. How it’s destroying this generation of people blah blah durr hburr techonology is bad kind of thing. But A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS shows one of the many positive things about video games and games like Minecraft. Minecraft provides an environment that encourages social interaction and helps people learn to communicate within the game’s well-defined rules.

Inspired by the author’s experiences with his own son, A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is a heartfelt story of love and family.

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Expected publication: September 1st 2016 by Sphere
ASIN:B010QDG9RI

Book Review: The Raven King (All For The Game #2) by Nora Sakavic

18187013you can find the book at:
GoodReads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Author website

my review:
Rating: ★★★★☆

As I mentioned in a previous review, I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book and I was seriously considering not continuing the series. But I’m so glad I continued because Nora Sakavic doesn’t disappoint in this sequel. The Raven King picks up straight after the events of book 1, continuing the story of Neil and the Foxes as move forward with the game season, counting down the days until they have to face the Ravens. Alongside this, Neil struggles with hiding his past, and keeping it together in the presence of Riko’s menace.

The way Sakavic is really simple, not to OTT, considering the events of the novel which is what made it really nice to read. It’s fast-paced but not in a way that leaves you confused as she reveals more about the characters and their determination in the rough world of Exy. The characters are developing, as are their relationships, and it’s fascinating but you do find yourself having to stop and think about who is who with some of the other team members, but I was so focused on Neil and Andrew that didn’t bother me as much as it did in the first book.

Also, Neil’s one of those characters that you just want to pick up from their novel and place them somewhere safe. BECAUSE SO MUCH BAD STUFF HAPPENS AND HE JUST DOESN’T DESERVE IT.

And I forgot to mention that the first book in the series is free and the rest are 99p.So cheap for a series that’s so good.

Kindle Edition, 181 pages
Published July 10th 2013 by Smashwords Edition
ISBN: 139781301824298