Thursday, August 16

{Mini Reviews} Four 2018 Diverse Contemporaries

Recently, I've read quite a few spectacular novels - and knowing that I'll never have time to talk about each and every one individually, I have brought you a couple of mini reviews today. This time, I'm here with four diverse contemporary novels, all of which I adored a whole lot. 

This post includes books with characters of color and lgbtq+ characters, as well as a romance novel with an autistic heroine. Hope you find your next favorite here, or we can fangirl about these novels in the comments! 

Saturday, August 11

A Meticulous Exploration of Human Nature - How We Learned to Lie by Meredith Miller

Violence in the small, suburban town of Highbone, Long Island, is escalating, and best friends Joan and Daisy are finding themselves in the centre of it.
Joan has always been fascinated by the inner workings of living things: dogfish, eels, stingrays. But the more she sees of life outside her microscope, the more she realizes that people aren’t as easy to read as cells on a slide, and no one, not even Daisy, tells the truth.

Daisy’s always wished he had a family more like Joan’s, and that desire has only grown since his dad went to jail. But not even Joan can help Daisy keep his deadbeat older brother from putting everyone close to them in more danger.

When tragedy strikes too close to home, Joan and Daisy need each other more than ever. But no matter how hard they try, their secrets and lies have driven them apart. It’s only a matter of time before their friendship, just like their town, goes up in flames. 

Thursday, August 9

Flame in the Mist and Five-ish Disney Retellings I'd Eat a Cursed Apple For

Flame in the Mist: OK so it isn't actually a Mulan retelling necessarily. But there's no denying the similarities. Or the outright dedications to scenes from the film. I mean there is a literal scene where the men all sing about what they miss about women and our main character thinks "their minds". My tiny Disney loving heart was so happy.
The true brilliance of Flame in the Mist is in all its originality though. The characters are incredible and multi-layered and the plot is so twisty you'll get lost in it. I'd say like a forest of thorns but that's the wrong fairy tale... Also - if I were to get a proper Mulan retelling there'd have to be a Mushu character. 

Anyway, reading Flame in the Mist has got me thinking about what un-appreciated (or un-adapted) Disney stories really need their own YA retelling. 

Tuesday, August 7

Ten Series We Are Dying To Reread

I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I personally love rereading for a multitude of reasons. The best of those by far is when I simply feel like revisiting a book or series, because it was too damned good to only read once. 

Even so, I have trouble committing to rereading series. There are always so many books I want to get to, and while I don't consider rereading in general a waste of time, I'll admit that rereading a god-knows-how-long series will take a long time. 

Thus, there are a ton of series that I adored when I first read them, would love to revisit them, but I'm not sure when that will happen, because omfg, why are there only 24 hours in a day!? Unfair as hell, if you ask me. 

Today, thanks to Heidi's wonderful topic-choice for Tell Me Something Tuesday, Clare and I brought you 5-5 of our beloved series we'd love to revisit.

why = why we loved it slash want to reread
possibility = the chances of us actually rereading

Saturday, August 4

How to Survive Conventions

As you might know, last weekend I attended YALC with my sister and had basically the best time. I saw Jason Momoa so many times we've agreed he's an honorary member of the family and has a standing invitation to Christmas. I met Sasha Alsberg who is basically the blogger who made me a blogger in the first place (and who was also the loveliest person I've ever met - no exaggeration), and Laura Steven who wrote my favourite book of the year - The Exact Opposite of Okay. And because I'm now obviously an expert on all things conventions I thought I'd write down my top tips! 

Thursday, August 2

Life Update - Still Alive and (Not) Blogging

Hello, you beautiful hooman beans! It's me, Ruzaika, and as my extremely creative post title indicates, this is going to be a general update on everything that's been happening recently and what to look forward to from me for the rest of this year. (Hint: not much!)

Tuesday, July 31

{Royal Rantings} Popular Series, The Hype & And Why Am I Like This *cries*

I'm an avid reader of Roberta's blog, Offbeat YA, which is where I first heard about Tell Me Something Tuesday, a weekly discussion hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings. Each week Heidi, RDR's owner, writes about a new topic, and anyone can join in with their own posts.

I absolutely love what Roberta does with these discussions, and I've been meaning to write one myself, and guess what!? The time has come for me to actually do it.

This week's topic has all to do with popular series - particularly popular series I have no interest in reading. I tried to take this topic into various directions, and I hope you'll enjoy! 

Sunday, July 29

{Mini Reviews} Four Fantastic LGBTQIA+ Novels

I've been reading so many fantastic novels lately that I've decided it'd be a crime not to showcase them on the blog, especially given how underrated some of them are. Thus, I've grouped the following four incredible and diverse novels in one post, aiming to convince you to please, please pick them the hell up, because they are so good

To clarify what I meant by lgbtqia+ before you decide to read this - or not - this post contains books with bisexual, lesbian, asexual and gay rep. Hope you'll enjoy! 

Thursday, July 26

Let's Bask in Negativity - The NOPE Book Tag

I don't know about you, but whenever I'm angry or disappointed because of a book, I like to get it out of my system by talking about it with others. Which is what I'll be doing today - and, boy, am I going to be sharing some unpopular opinions! So, lay back and get ready for MY RAGE (just kidding), and then come and discuss your opinion in the comments, EVEN IF IT IS DIFFERENT FROM MINE! That's the most fun, to be honest. 

Saturday, July 21

An Interesting Mix of Darkness and Fun: Scream All Night by Derek Milman

Just a live funeral.
"A what?" The phone slips out of my hands. I juggle it back to my ear.
"Dad's final wish was to be buried alive," says Oren.
"His what was what?"

Dario Heyward knows one thing: He’s never going back to Moldavia Studios, the iconic castle that served as the set, studio, and home to the cast and crew of dozens of cult classic B-horror movies. It’s been three years since Dario’s even seen the place, after getting legally emancipated from his father, the infamous director of Moldavia’s creature features.

But then Dario’s brother invites him home to a mysterious ceremony involving his father and a tribute to his first film—The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue. Dario swears his homecoming will be a one-time visit. A way for him to get closure on his past—and reunite with Hayley, his first love and costar of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, a production fraught with real-life tragedy—and say good-bye for good. But the unthinkable happens—Dario gets sucked back into the twisted world of Moldavia and the horrors, both real and imagined, he’s left there.

With only months to rescue the sinking studio and everyone who has built their lives there, Dario must confront the demons of his past—and the uncertainties of his future. But can he escape the place that’s haunted him his whole life?

Thursday, July 19

Series That Are Kinda All Over The Place, But I Love Them Still

Book series are simultaneously one of the best and worst things in my life. Why, you may wonder. Well, here's why.

On the positive, more of my favorite characters and worlds (etc.) is always a blessing. However, series can go downhill so fast your head will be spinning like so:

... and that ain't a good feeling, my friends. I'd know, this post is all about being conflicted over series, and wow, did putting these contradictory feelings down made dizzy. 

For ease of reading, you'll find 'the bad' and 'the good' of each series divided from each other - may you have fun embarking on this ridiculous journey with me. 

Tuesday, July 17

Bite Sized Fiction: Our Favorite Short Stories and Novellas

Short stories and novellas are my saviors when it comes to getting out of a reading slump. I mean, when you're in a slump, is there anything better than a story that gets to the point incredibly fast and is easy to get through? I don't think so. 

Today, Clare and I have brought you 5-5 of our favorite short stories and novellas, hoping to give you some quality recommendations. Have fun browsing through our lists! 

Saturday, July 14

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Spellbook of the Lost and FoundOne stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.
Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses - and holding tight to secrets.
When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .

Thursday, July 12

Helpful Nudges Towards the Right Direction in Looking After Your Mental Health by Alice James & Louie Stowell

We talk about our physical health - but not so much about how we’re feeling. With lots of practical advice, this lively, accessible guide explains why we have emotions, and what can influence them. Covering everything from friendships, social media and bullying to divorce, depression and eating disorders, this is an essential book for young people.

Received in exchange for an honest review from Usborne Publishing UK.

Looking After Your Mental Health drew me in with it's promise of tackling serious topics in a not-so-serious way, and I was not surprised to see it delivered what it set out to. If I were to list what exactly had it going for this book, I'd say- 

Saturday, July 7

MY PLAIN JANE: A Disappointing Sequel To One Of My All Time Faves

“You’re definitely not coming with us,” Alexander said. “Not a chance.”
Reader, Miss Brontë definitely went with them.

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

I've just finished reading My Plain Jane, and boi, I have some conflicted thoughts to share. At the moment, I haven't yet decided how to rate it - to help myself out & give you a more logical, easier to read post, I'm going to list the pros and cons of the novel separately. 

Thursday, July 5

The Beach Read We All Deserve - Alex, Approximiately by Jenn Bennet

Alex, Approximately

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is a whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Tuesday, July 3

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out

We love books. We freak out about them all. the. damn. time, thus Clare and I decided that the The Mid-Year Book Freak Out was created for us. #dontargue

For those who don't know what this is - it was designed for readers who want to showcase the best and worst of their reads, as well as their TBRs for the following half year. Warning - we went so overboard, mentioning multiple books in each category, so hopefully, you'll find some recs here. 

Monday, July 2

New YA Releases That Have Us Bewitched

Well, hello there. Look at us marching into the second half of 2018 already! I won't mourn on this rapid passing of time but...can you believe we're closer to 2019 than we are to 2017? Wild. As is the norm, though, we are here to distract you with all the books we'll be blessed with this quarter of the year so without further ado- here are the YA releases of July, August and September we're the most stoked for!

Saturday, June 30

June Recap | a.k.a. All the Books, Movies & Shows We Ate This Month

Woah, I feel like June has just started, and now it's already over!? What the hell is up with that. To be fair, I was mostly lazing around the house relaxing at home after my last exam of the semester, so that probably explains why time seemed to fly by. But shh, don't berate that from me.

One thing that does showcase the passing of time is how many books I've read, because wow, I'm proud - but also slightly worried - for myself, as I've managed to eat 20 books. TWENTY. BOOKS. I'm... shocked. 

Anyhow, enough about me, because this post is not just mine - it is also Clare's debut in a TRC recap (!!!) which is full of books (duh), with some movies, tv shows & bookish news thrown into the mix. We worked TONS on this, so I'm super-excited to see what y'all think! 

Thursday, June 28

Ancient Myths, Talking Leverets and a City on the Brink of Danger - The Wild Folk by Sylvia V. Linsteadt

When the Star-Priest Brotherhood from the City threaten to ravage and destroy the land of the Wild Folk, their only hope rests with two young hares and their human companions – Tin, an orphan City boy with a passion for invention, and curious Country girl Comfrey. In this magical quest, to protect the precious stargold that runs through the land, Tin and Comfrey must complete seemingly impossible tasks set by the mysterious and terrifying Wild Folk - each stranger than the last - to find the one who holds the secret to saving their world.

The Wild Folk is a timeless adventure, weaving fantasy and folk lore into an enchanting tale that will fill you with wonder. The first in a duology, with a dash of Ursula Le Guin, a pinch of Frances Hardinge, and a generous helping from C.S. Lewis, this is a future classic, filled with unforgettable and diverse characters, and a story to be read time and again.

Tuesday, June 26

Ten Series We Want to Binge-Read

The original topic for this week was Series We've Given Up On/Don't Plan to Finish. This didn't work for me because I am a notorious binge-reader - so I'm dragging Vera into binge-reading with me and looking at the series we most want to marathon! Because why suffer through cliff-hangers and long waits for the next book when you could just binge the entire series at once? 

(We're completing this topic for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl)

Saturday, June 23

{Discussion Review} A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music - because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

Thrilling and powerfully written, this is an explosive debut for YA readers which tackles the dark topic of domestic abuse in an ultimately hopeful tale.

Hello friends. Ever since its announcement, Clare and I have both been excited for A Thousand Perfect Notes, aka a fellow blogger's debut! So, really, it was no question that we would buddy read it, and to share part of that experience with you and make this review more interesting - we're discussing it, instead of writing about it individually. Hope you'll enjoy this at least half as much as we enjoyed making it. :)

Thursday, June 21

All the Action and Dinosaurs for the Adrenaline Junkie in You in Exile (The Extinction Trials #2) by S.M. Wilson

Betrayal. Sacrifice. Survival. Welcome to The Extinction Trials.

After surviving on Piloria once, Storm and Lincoln are the obvious candidates to return to the dinosaur continent to test the new virus that should clear the way for human settlement. But they have their own priorities – finding a cure for the plague that’s sweeping Earthasia, and keeping themselves alive.

Received in exchange for an honest review from Usborne Publishing UK.

Exile, the sequel to Extinction Trials, follows Stormchaser and Lincoln as they're faced with newer challenges and hurdles in pursuit of their individual goals. While the first book left things on uncertain terms between the characters, the second book takes off with us seeing how each character is faring with the aftermath of their stay (and subsequent victory) in Piloria, the continent of dinosaurs. Does the book do justice to what the first book lead up to? Do we see more in terms of character growth in each lead? Do we have enough dinosaurs and action in this latest installment of the Extinction Trials? Does the romance amount to anything? 

Tuesday, June 19

Books We Will (Hopefully?) Read This Summer

Isn't it fun to make a list you know you're never going to complete? Cuz I sure as hell seem to think. See, any time I make one of these seasonal (or monthly) to-read lists I fail them. Spectacularly so. 

These ain't working for me. If anything, they seem to jinx my excitement for the novels I list, and more often than not, I end up not only not reading the featured titles, but also lose interest in them completely. 

YET, HERE I AM TRYING AGAIN. #killme But this time, I also have Clare listing her titles, which... nearly sounds like a competition to me? I'm a very competitive person so just comparing the amount she finished by the end summer with mine *might* spur me on. WE SHALL SEE. 

(We're completing this topic for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl)

Saturday, June 16

Summer Recs #2: Romance Novels to Melt Your Heart

Hello friends! As you might have seen last week, I decided to dedicate my three June-posts to thematic recommendations. My first list concentrated on thriller, mystery and horror novels (see it here), while today's is all about ROMANCE NOVELS. 

To clarify, that means that the romance is, in fact, the most important part of all the books I'll list down below. HOWEVER, in most cases there are other equally significant topics broached - from self-confidence, through following your dreams to killing the bad guys... you'll find a pretty solid selection of books here. 

Thursday, June 14

I Don't Know How I Feel About The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller

Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls barely know their father, a plant hunter usually off adventuring through China. Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan reneges on his contract to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid. He will be thrown into debtors’ prison while his daughters are sent to the orphanage and the workhouse.

Elodie can’t stand by and see her family destroyed, so she persuades her father to return to China once more to try to hunt down the flower—only this time, despite everything she knows about her place in society, Elodie goes with him. She has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China. But now, even if she can find the orchid, how can she ever go back to being the staid, responsible Elodie that everybody needs?

Tuesday, June 12

Books We Wish We Had DNF-ed

Hello friends! Isn't it positively infuriating when you pick up a book, all excited and hopeful... only to be severely disappointed by it? It is one thing if put it down, mark it did-not-finish, and quickly get on with your life. If you frequently do this? Well, congrats, you're awesome, and I'm hella jealous, because DNF-ing is hard as hell for me. 

Usually, what I do is power through a book, no matter how much I'm hating it, looking for redeeming qualities and hoping it'll get better... I mean, it has to, right? RIGHT? Well, sometimes it doesn't. Today, Clare and I brought you 5-5 novels we badly disliked, and wish we had DNF-ed. 

Yes, this is last week's Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) topic, but shhh.

Saturday, June 9

Summer Recs #1: Thrillers and Mysteries To Get Your Heart Racing

Hello friends! Knowing that the summer is that part of the year when many readers have ample time to read - either because of being on break, or because of going on a vacation - I've decided to bring you something special this June. Drumrolls, please!

A three part series where I'll share a variety of book recommendations with you!

To make navigating this list - it ain't that long, don't worry - easier & more comfortable for you, I included some bullet-points about the books. In these, you'll find the age-group these are aimed at, the sub-genres and basic information about the novels. Moreover, the book covers lead to the books' Goodreads page, so you can flood your TBR list pretty fast. 

I really hope you'll enjoy this little snippet into the land of my favorite novels! 

Thursday, June 7

On Why I Haven't Been Reading As Much As I Should and K-dramas That Have Taken Over My Life

I hereby declare I'm out of my reading slump. 

I've been in various slumps on and off for the past year and reading has been the most worrying of it all, so colour me extremely excited to find myself capable of picking up a book and staying invested in it for two hour straight. 

However, in a worrying turn of events, I've come to realize that slump or not, I'm unable to actually read unless I know for a fact that I can read at leisure, that I'm in the right head-space for reading, that I'm not flooded with things to be done immediately, and therefore, I don't actually pick up a book unless I see myself spending at least 30 mins on it at a stretch. 

Uni has been tiring, to say the least, and the coming months only prove to be more hectic with deadlines looming up and it's Ramadan which means I have less time for myself AND I'm constantly tired. Stress + Me is definitely not the recipe for reading. Add physical books and ARCs to the equation and reading is pretty much out of the question because I don't read physical books at night (and I'm not into e-books at the moment), and review copies mean I need to be doubly conscious about how I feel about anything related to the book, so yeah. ISSA DILEMMA. 

I still am very much capable of feeling excited about books, hoarding them, picking them up and fondly stroking them but I really am not reading as much as I should.

Thursday, May 31

Love, Hate and Other Deceptive Filters in This Debut by Samira Ahmed

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape--perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacquelyn Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a "suitable" Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City--and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she's only known from afar. There's the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya's last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?

I hated this book with a passion. It may seem like a strong statement to make, but I really did. Or maybe I was just too disappointed? Either way, this is a book I'd rather never have anything to do with again and let's see why, shall we? 

Tuesday, May 29

Bookish Worlds We'd *Never* Want To Live In

Hello, friends! One of the reasons why I adore reading so darn much is that books have the power to take readers to gorgeous and magical places - most of which I'd love to visit in real life. However, there are certainly some dark, vicious and creepy as fuck worlds out there that neither Clare, nor I would like to go near. Ever. Today, we brought you ten of these.

Saturday, May 26

The Books That Made Me a Reader

I have so many life-changing, mind-changing books on my shelves that I love (and definitely want to talk about sometime) but today I wanted to have a look at the books that made me a reader - and so brought me to this wonderful community. Reading is such a huge part of my life and it's so strange to think of all the times where it hinged on reading one book at the exact right time!