Review: Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged

Review: Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

Sofia Khan is single and ready to mingle, all in the name of her forthcoming Muslim dating book. Sofia is a Pakistani, hijabi Muslim working in the publishing industry. Age thirty and, to her parent’s exasperation, unmarried, Sofia finds herself writing a Muslim dating guide at the point in her life where she’s very much crossed it off forever.

Sofia Khan is neither a tragedy or a issues book which most books around Muslims tend to be about. Which I absolutely commend this book on, but this book just sits right on the middle for me. I didn’t actually hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I think what I liked about this book was how unlikeable Sofia was to me. She’s a witty protagonist who makes poor, poor decisions. Who finds herself in the worst situations that she works well to get out of. I liked how light-hearted it all was, yet critical of a culture that places women’s value on marriage. The moments of culture-clash were relatable and hilarious especially in her workplace which Sofia called  ‘the most white-centric, middle-class industry there is‘, and she’s not wrong.

I really enjoyed the way the book lays out, with its diary-like entries and text message. It’s somewhat choppy as some points, but Sofia’s voice really comes through this way.  I loved the family dynamics and the customs that I literally see every day.

I was certainly thrown off by the central romance, mainly because I hadn’t expected that to come. I was so fixed on a particular part that I hadn’t realised it was going in a completely opposite way. The surprise in the final pages was actually quite interesting. It literally took me until the last line to realise what was happening.

I think what I actually dispised about this book a lot was the microaggressions. And, in my opinion, it really ruined the book for me.  Sinead @ Huntress of Diverse Book put it to words more easily than I could ever, with specific examples that didn’t sit well with me either. She’s also quite hypocritical and narcissistic in a way that she doesn’t seem to realise and I was hoping it would kick in when she recognises the double standards that she holds.

Like Sofia’s mother, and her innocently asking ‘What is this click?’, Sofia Khan is not Obliged merely didn’t click with me. But I am interested in reading its sequel because of that last chapter actually surprised me.


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Content warning: colourism, ableist language, fatantagonistic language, aceantagonistic language, aroantagonistic language. (Credit to Sinead) Death of a parent. (more to be added)

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Review: Dear Evan Hansen

Review: Dear Evan Hansen

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Dear Evan Hansen,

Today’s going to be an amazing day and here’s why…

After Conor Murphy dies by suicide, Evan Hansen finds himself from invisible to visible as a letter from his therapy sessions gets mistaken as Conor’s suicide note. Now, he’s stuck with a lie he never meant to tell. Dear Evan Hansen expands upon the musical of the same name. Told from the perspectives of Evan Hansen and Connor Murphy.

I’ve glad I decided to listen to the musical after I had read this. I’ve come to love the musical so much that I feel like it would’ve shrouded my review of the novelisation of the musical. Which definitely has its flaws.

The characters are absolutely phenomenal, and we get a more in-depth look to all the beloved characters from the musical. Especially Conor Murphy. You get a much better in-depth look into his mind which I really appreciated and loved the most about the book. You don’t get much from Connor that isn’t from his perspective in the musical and the novel did well on his side. Everyone transcends beyond the time limitations of the musical.  Dear Evan Hansen is a thoughtful coming-of-age tale that depicts mental health issues and how social media impacts connections on a global scale.

Like I said before, I’m glad I read this before listening because the beauty of the songs would’ve shrouded my review of the book. There was a bit of frustration at how Evan allows the lies to spread for him to gain a sense of belonging, but it’s understanding of communication and finding meaningful relationships is utterly amazing. But its moral ambiguity of the entire situation was somewhat unsettling. While Evan’s lies did aid them in their grief, it was still disturbing. And how everyone forgives him for it was somewhat disappointing. Maybe, it was easier for plot sake, but I would’ve liked there to be more emphasis on him facing some sort of consequences for his actions, rather than brushing it off. I’ll link to this review which describes some issues of the musical. I don’t think I could put it words better than they had.

Overall, Dear Evan Hansen has its flaws which I definitely acknowledge. The importance of its central message to everyone that they are never alone. And I really needed that. Take a listen to the musical, even if you’re a not a fan of the format, it really is so powerful.


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Content warning: TBA

Mini-review: Soft on Soft and Women of Resistance

Mini-review: Soft on Soft and Women of Resistance

41212987Soft on Soft by Em Ali

Rating: ★★★☆☆(3/5)

June Bana is a growing make up artist whose looks are gaining traction by the day on social media. But to June, the real her is a quiet homebody and lives a life less eventful than the pictures on her feed. Then she meets Selena Clarke, drop dead gorgeous model, who loves June for who she is.

A soft sweet tale of two women learning each other and falling in love. A rapid contemporary read with little to none conflict. This title is very fitting. Soft on Soft is precisely what you get. This story centres two women of colour falling in love. The writing is simple and easy to follow. Pop culture references abound!

Its uneventful plot makes a bit tricky to read since you can hardly tell what is going on at the moment. I don’t expect something tragic to happen to make it interesting, but something a little more eventful would’ve improved the pacing a lot.

Overall, there’s something to love in this. Em Ali has a bright future in of them. I know I’ll read more.

UPDATE: Purchase links for Soft on Soft are not currently available as the author has taken them offline for further edits. I will upload a longer review once it’s available. 

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Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism – Edited by Danielle Barnhart and Iris Mahan

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
when a girl pronounces her own name
there is glorywhen a woman tells her own life story
she lives forever

A feminist poetry collection that discusses race, gender identity and sexuality. I really enjoyed the variety of poetry styles that each contributor used. There’s a variety in content and form. I am not sure each piece is beautiful and exciting. The collection encompasses the works of a diverse range of poets who I’ll definitely want to check out. I don’t read that much poetry, but this collection of works from such inspiring people was indeed a hidden gem. 

I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected by opinions of the book.


Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post begins at the end of her parent’s life. Cameron is relieved because now they’ll never know she had a kissed a girl. But the struggle doesn’t end there, we follow Cameron from the ages of 12 and as she grows to 16. Life is different, but Cameron is an expert at blending in. Until she meets Coley Taylor. And then one thing leads to another, and Cameron’s forced to join a conversion camp by her ultrareligious Aunt to “fix” herself.

This was a very detailed and passionate read. The story shifts with its array of characters, each vibrant and different from one another. The story starts off with a summer fling, a more happier vibe, where everything seems to be going well. Until it takes a dark turn and punches you straight in the stomach. While I didn’t find it emotional, but nonetheless, it was difficult.

For me, there are two parts to this story. The first is Cameron coming to terms with her sexuality and learning who she is. The second is where its all ripped away from her, and she’s forced to join a conversion camp. There’s a middle lull in this book where nothing really seems to happen. And this is where, from other reviews, everyone seems to drop off from the book. I’m not going to lie, even my interest started to falter after a few chapters but I held on and I’m glad I did, but I don’t expect anyone to force themselves through a book they find slow.

I can’t speak for certain rep in the book, like the Native American rep. I’ll link to this post that speaks on it much better. There’s a lot of language that’s quite negative towards Native Americans and very ableist so watch out for that.

Overall, Cameron Post was an intriguing read, while I didn’t love it, the story is important.


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Content warning: ableism, anti-Indigenous language, use of multiple slurs (f*g, d*ke etc.), lesbophobia, sex scenes, a lesbian character being outed, underage drinking, conversion therapy, self-harm with a suicide attempt that is graphically described. (TO BE ADDED)

Review: The Darkest Minds

Review: The Darkest Minds

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

A sickness spreads across the United States, killing a majority of its children and leaving its survivors with something uncontrollable that has the government shaking in fear. Swiftly taken from their parents, children are quickly taken away and placed in rehabilitation camps. Ruby was ten when she learnt that suppressing her skill keeps her alive. Six years later, Ruby escapes and on the run to find others like her.

The Darkest Minds has such a captivating concept. It’s a shame that it is so painfully slow. I’ll give applause to Chubs and Suzume who technically saved this book for me. The two that stood out the most for me. Without them, I wouldn’t even question my decision to not finish this series.

There’s a lot of confusion, especially when it came to worldbuilding. They gain these powers and are then categorised according to how much of a threat they are. Maybe the reason why these powers happen are revealed later down the line in the series, but there’s not much to keep you hanging but just completely confused. How a world is seemingly wiped out but still existing in some places like normal despite having locked up a majority of its youth population.

What even was the point of the romance in this? Honestly, I give most romances the benefit of the doubt but like how did Ruby and Liam even happen. She spends most of her time ignoring him, which is fair enough, but then suddenly with no warning, they’re all over each other. I just don’t think enough space was given to develop these two the way they deserved.

The narrative is an actual snail pace after Ruby escapes the first camp. There are multiple flashbacks. And even when it’s at a point where it should speed up, it’s just chapter after chapter of them on the least exciting road trip in the world. There’s a couple of car chases scenes to give us the illusion that something is happening.

There is a lot of good to this book, it wasn’t exactly terrible, I think the pacing just dragged this book to hell for me. I don’t understand how a book with a lot of plot aspects that I usually enjoy disappoint me like this.

I’m sort of in the middle of this series right now. TDM didn’t really do much for to compel me to want to continue its series. The ending was a bit of disappointment considering it chucks Ruby straight back to where she was 15% of the novel. But there’s a lot to like, a bit and pieces of it was really intriguing to me. The variety of powers and the shocking treatment these children receive. The found family aspect was a sweet shining moment in the rest of the dullness. I’ll sit on it, for now, maybe I’ll be interested later down the line to finish the series.


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Content warning: Violence, sexual assault, murder, gun violence, physical violence, PTSD, unchallenged ableist language.

 

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

Natasha has 24 hours to save her family from being deported to Jamaica. Daniel has 12 hours to decide whether he really wants to follow through with his Korean parent’s life plan for him. Moments after moments leads to the two meeting on a crowded New York street and the moments after show how they go on to change each other’s lives.

TSIAAS is one of those books where I’m genuinely in the middle. Like I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t absolutely love it. I feel like there’s a bit of switch here for me. In Everything, Everything, I really enjoyed the beginning of the novel but found it’s ending was a bit disappointing but in TSIAAS, I found the beginning rather dull but it quickly picks up and finished quite well.

I’ll start off with the good. And there’s plenty of that in this book. It’s quite a touching read. I was more heavily invested in each character’s side story than their romance. Natasha and her rush to save her family and Daniel’s clash with his love for poetry and his parent’s approval. Natasha is logical while Daniel is a dreamer. It really is beautifully written. There are even inserts of other perspectives who intersect with the main lead, which would’ve been a distraction if I actually enjoyed the romance, but they enhanced the story, in my opinion, and added to the message of how everything impacts everything. Despite Natasha and Daniel being at odds with each other and their immigrant families, they find a connection which allows them to indeed be truthful to themselves.

The immigration aspect of this novel was what shined the most. It covers and explains how flawed the system that can be to those who are the least danger to it. Natasha’s whole life is being torn down because she’s forced to leave because of her father’s mistake.

What really put me off this book for so long was the romance. Of course, it was going to pull off an insta-love plotline when Natasha and Daniel only have twelve hours together. If you’re a reader that enjoys whirlwind and fast-paced romantic stories, then I have the book for you. But I just didn’t buy it. But I did appreciate the ending a lot, and I was actually really pleased with how it ended. Daniel, while a dreamer and sweetheart at his best, is literally quit obsessed with Natasha from the second he sees her. Their meeting and beginning scenes felt very off and borderline creepy.

Overall, there is clear praise for this book, and I can’t deny it of that. I just don’t think it was a strong enough book regarding its romance. But there’s a lot that I can’t deny that was great. TSIAAS discusses race in regards to the American Dream and the impact of parent-child relationships. The way Nicola Yoon jumps into different bystander’s voices without affecting the main plot brilliantly done and how we are all connected in some way or another.


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