There have been quite a few book to film/t.v. show adaptations coming out, especially in these past few years. Some have done really well such as Love, Simon, A Series of Unfortunate Events, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Hate U Give. But there are still many underrated books that I would love to see on screen and want to be done right.
No one is surprised I chose You Bring the Distant Near because I talk about it all the time. In general, I think a generational story would adapt very well on screen. Going through the lives of these two sisters and their struggles living in Queens and being in an interracial relationship. If this were to be adapted into a film, I know it has the potential to be a cinematic masterpiece. And as a Bengali girl, I know it would mean so much to me if there is a movie starring a Bengali family in Queens.
I planned on making this blog post months in advance, and before it was announced that the Grishaverse is being adapted on Netflix! I am beyond excited for Six of Crows, and I’m really hoping that it is done right.
Need I say more? The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, if done right, has the potential to be an Oscar worthy film. It presents a unique and nuanced view on the Golden Age of Hollywood that would translate so well on screen. I do feel that this book has a high chance of becoming a movie because it is so popular so hopefully it will happen.
I’m sure everyone has heard of the failed Percy Jackson movies that are despised by the entire fandom. They were honestly pretty awful, but I also found them to be mildly entertaining? Obviously there is a Percy Jackson musical, but I think everyone can agree that we’ve been waiting ages for the Percy Jackson world to be adapted. Preferably into a t.v. show on Netflix. A Series of Unfortunate Events was adapted into a Netflix series and it is hands down, one of the best book to t.v. adaptations I’ve ever seen. That is exactly what I want to PJO, and hopefully it will happen soon.
Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of YA contemporary that has been adapted into films and majority of them do tend to focus on the romance. The Astonishing Color of After is a beautifully written story that deals with very heavy topics, specifically with grief. A huge part of the story also takes place in Taiwan and I know that it would make for another cinematic masterpiece.
So obviously there have been a million superhero movies and t.v. shows made, but I think Renegades offers a unique story. There are the classic elements to the story, but Marissa Meyer is known to flip conventions on its head and she does that in this series. There are also some really great discussions on morality that would translate really well on screen. I am kind of hesitant because if Renegades were to be adapted, it does have the potential to be very cheesy. But, I’m hoping that if it is adapted into a film/series, the series is done justice.
On its own, Sadie is already an immersive story as it switches between a podcast and narrative format. The audiobook really brings the story to life, and I know how much more incredible this book would be as a movie. Not only is the story important, it’s terrifyingly intense and would make for a winning thriller.
So I actually started off this year really well, and ended up reading ten books. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in a constant reading mood, and I overall really loved what I read this month. I also read a lot more fantasy than I normally do and it reminded me why I love the genre so much.
Girls of Paper and Fire was a solid start to my reading year. It’s an LGBTQ+ fantasy centered around Paper girls who are apart of the lowest caste and the Demon King’s concubines. What really stood out with this book is the depictions of sexual trauma. I think that this is especially an important story for survivors because despite it being a fantasy, the story holds so much truth and relevancy. There is also a f/f romance which is a rarity in YA literature because majority of the popular LGBTQ+ relationships are m/m. If you’re looking for a fantasy that is gruesome and raw or if you’re looking for a healthy f/f romance, I would definitely recommend Girls of Paper and Fire.
I’m officially caught up to all of Rick Riordan’s series and I can tell The Trials of Apollo is going to be just as snarky and adventurous as the rest of his books. The Hidden Oracle was hilarious and incredibly entertaining. Apollo is kind of a pompous ass, but what more can you expect from a Greek god? This series has a lot of potential to be on par with Percy Jackson and it’s meant to be a five book series so I’m expecting it to become even better with each book.
Rating: ★★★ ½ ☆☆ (3.5/5)
The Dark Prophecy was more of a lackluster sequel. Majority of the book was just build up to this one big event and there wasn’t much else going on. I also don’t particularly like Leo and Calypso either (unpopular opinion?). I did love reading about Emmie & Jo and their love story. Give me all the lesbian hunters.
This past year, the Nevermoor series has been getting a lot of hype, and it’s safe to say the series does live up to it. I ended up loving the whimsical world of Nevermoor and I can see why it’s been compared to Harry Potter. The overall atmosphere and tone is very reminiscent of childhood classics (Alice in Wonderland). I’ve heard the sequel is even better and I’m looking forward to reading it.
For Every One ended up being a good bridgeway between all of the fantasy books I was reading this month. Jason Reynolds is an amazing writer and poet, and this one takes on more of a lyrical tone. In particular, I really liked how he included how people often emphasize achieving their dreams, but no one ever prioritizes having the courage to dream. Overall, a really beautiful and relevant poem.
Archenemies was probably my biggest surprise this month. While I enjoyed reading Renegades,Archenemies takes it to the next level. Although this book is more slower paced, there’s a lot more political intrigue and world building. Nova and Adrien have these really interesting discussions about the Renegades and Anarchists and whether or not the Renegades are always doing the right thing. Moral ambiguity plays a large role in this series, and I LOVE how Marissa Meyer weaves it into the storyline. There are also some intense scenes as well, and the ending actually blew me away. The sequel cannot come fast enough; I need to know what happens.
I finally read the Mistborn trilogy, after being told a million times that it’s incredible. I will say I definitely didn’t like it as much as other people have. I do have some issues with it, mainly how Brandon Sanderson isn’t very good at keeping a story entertaining in the middle of the story. While his endings are explosive and mind blowing, the middle sections of his book can be quite boring and lackluster. Overall, I did really enjoy this series and the world is incredibly innovative and unique. I am looking forward to reading more from the Mistborn world because I feel this trilogy only scratched the surface with The Final Empire.
Roxane Gay is one of my favorite writers of all time, but I had never read one of her fictional works before. Difficult Women is exactly as the title suggests. It tells different stories of women going through difficult times, whether they’ve suffered through trauma and abuse or the loss of a child. Gay does not hold back with the violence that these women experience. I will say I do feel like some of the stories were not as cohesive as they could have been, and some were confusing. While I love Roxane Gay’s writing, I think I may prefer her nonfiction works over fictional works. Or at least with this book, I do. This isn’t my favorite book of hers, but I still loved the overall message and tone. Rating: ★★★ ½ ☆☆ (3.5/5)
So I finally triumphed and read the original Mistborn trilogy. Overall, I enjoyed my time reading the series. I wouldn’t say I loved it as much as many other people do, but I definitely understand the hype. Brandon Sanderson is a master when it comes to crafting unique and innovative fantasy worlds and The Final Empire is incredibly unique. I do look forward to reading the next books in the series (they are not apart of the original trilogy) as well.
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
The first book, The Final Empire is probably my favorite of the series. Mostly because I really loved reading from Kelsier’s perspective. He can be egotistical and he is very flawed, but his backstory is so fascinating to me. He kind of reminds me of Kaz from Six of Crows in a sense, but a more optimistic version. The first book is also compared to Oceans 11, and I think that definitely contributed to my enjoyment. While there were some slow scenes with explanations of the world, much of this book focused on Vin learning her powers and majority of them were action sequences. The entire storyline was extremely intense and the stakes were very high. I liked that Sanderson didn’t hesitate to take risks with the story especially towards the end. Overall, a solid beginning to the series.
Rating: ★★★★ ¼ ☆ (4.25/5)
The Well of Ascension was my least favorite of the series. While I liked that the series became a lot more political in this book, I didn’t agree with the way it was executed. There were many unnecessary scenes and as much as I like Sazed, his POV was not needed at all (It fit more in The Hero of Ages). There was just too much going on and it made the story very confusing. I also don’t particularly like the romance. While it isn’t a large part of the book, I don’t quite find it believable. Vin met Elend at some balls, bantered with him and BOOM they’re suddenly in love? Their scenes are quite cringe-worthy and I would have preferred if Vin didn’t have a love interest at all. I did find Elend’s character to be a lot more interesting in this installment. He reminds me of Gansey from The Raven Cycle as he’s an optimistic idealist who’s also incredibly naive. While reading this book, I realized what my main gripe with this series is. There just aren’t enough female characters. Vin is the main character and I really liked how she can be bad-ass and love traditionally feminine things and find joy in it at the same time. However, I would have really loved if there was another female character who was just as bad-ass and would have put Vin in her place. In general, Vin is a very paranoid character, but I always feel like she’s more suspicious of the (minor) female characters that are introduced. She’s also grown up with men her entire life and she now works alongside with men. It would have been amazing to have many more female characters especially because I’m a sucker for a solid female friendship.
Rating: ★★★ ¾ ☆☆ (3.75/5)
The Hero of Ages was an improvement from the previous book. The political intrigue went outside Luthadel, and Sanderson delved into some other side characters. I was surprised to see Spook’s POV come up in this book because he was a neglected character, but I ended up enjoying his perspective. Elend changes a lot in this book, and I’m still not sure if I liked his development. I do feel in terms of what happened at the end of The Well Of Ascension, it kind of makes sense. The ending was by far, the best part of the book. It completely took me by surprise and yet again, Sanderson took another risk and it payed off. On that note, while I do think that Brandon Sanderson has these epic, explosive endings, where he really lacks is the middle of his books which is what lowered my rating for this series. Overall, I did enjoy the Mistborn trilogy, and it was a very expansive world to delve into, and I look forward to reading more books in this universe.
Synopsis: The Renegades Trilogy continues, in this fiercely awaited second installment after the New York Times-bestselling Renegades by Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles.
Time is running out. Together, they can save the world. But they each other’s worst nightmare.
In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory.
The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City – and the world – as they know it.
I never planned on reading the Renegades series as it didn’t seem like something I would be interested in. I read the first book and enjoyed it enough to continue, but I was not expecting to be as immersed in the world as I am now. While Renegades was a solid start to the series, Archenemies goes above and beyond and exceeded all of my expectations, and I genuinely think this is Marissa Meyer’s best work yet.
So after reading the cliffhanger from Renegades, I was left with a lot of questions. Archenemies does delve into he politics and the corruption in a Renegade-run world. It was interesting to explore how Renegades aim to be heroes, but often times end up doing more harm than good. What really stands out with this series is the discussions around moral ambiguity. How the Renegades seem to believe they’re helping the world when in reality they’re making people dependent on the heroes to solve their problems. There’s a lot more gray areas to the Renegades and Anarchists and Nova and Adrien represent that.
I ended up finishing the audiobook in a day which contributes to both the narration and the story itself. Rebecca Soler does Nova’s voice and she’s a very talented narrator, and Dan Bittner does Adrien’s chapters. While Archenemies had much more of a slower pace than the first book, it was still compelling enough to continue. Nova is finally moving in on her plan to take down the Renegades as she starts to gain their trust. There are also some unexpected plot twists and revelations that had me at the edge of my seat, especially towards the end. Marissa Meyer is very talented at leaving a reader hanging and the ending of Archenemies was one killer cliffhanger. Speaking of death, the slow burn romance in this series is actually going to kill me one day because it is genuinely the most frustrating thing ever. If you love angsty, slow burn/mutual pining/in denial stories, then Renegades is for you.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the direction of this series. While I thoroughly enjoyed Renegades, it wasn’t much more than a three star book for me. Archenemies is a slow burn in every sense of the word, but it also has this intensity and a dark tone that I’ve never read before in Meyer’s books. This is also one of the few times I don’t have any predictions on how the story is going to unfold. I’m simultaneously dreading and anticipating the sequel because I know it will be an angsty one, but I’m also dying to know what happens.
Format: Audiobook via Libby—>Narrator: Gemma Whelan
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Synopsis: A breathtaking, enchanting new series by debut author Jessica Townsend, about a cursed girl who escapes death and finds herself in a magical world–but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart–an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests–or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.Perfect for fans of the Harry Potter series and Neil Gaiman, this fast-paced plot and imaginative world has a fresh new take on magic that will appeal to a new generation of readers.
My main incentive for reading this book is that many readers were saying that this was one of the only books that came close to Harry Potter. I have to say that I definitely agree that Nevermoor holds the same sense of nostalgia and magic that Harry Potter has. And I know that 10 year old me would have been obsessed with this series. From the fantastical world to the captivating storyline, Nevermoor is an amazing middle grade fantasy story.
The narration of the audiobook is incredible and done by only one narrator, Gemma Whelan. She’s able to create very distinct voices for each of the characters and neither of them blended together which can be an issue when there are so many characters and only one narrator. The world building is also very thorough for a middle grade novel. It’s compelling enough that it will hold the reader’s interest without the story being bogged down with too much information. The atmosphere reminded me of Alice in Wonderland as Nevermoor is just as quirky and peculiar.
Additionally, the characters were also very quirky as well without being manic pixie dream characters. Morrigan is really sweet and insecure because of all of the negativity she’s dealt with her entire life. The way her family treated her (especially her father) is very similar to how Harry was treated by the Dursleys in Harry Potter. It was refreshing to see that Morrigan was able to have supportive and kind adults in her life that were willing to help her. Jupiter North was strange to say the least, but he made sure Morrigan knew that she wasn’t a curse at all. Nevermoor really goes to show how fear will always have people pinning the blame on others.
The trial element was also very exciting as well. It reminded me of Percy Jackson or the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. There were unexpected twists and turns, and a lot of build up to one particular trial. I did have an issue with Morrigan being kept in the dark for majority of the book because it’s similar to how Harry was kept in the dark by Dumbledore (I hate Dumbledore). It is always frustrating when you’re a child and adults never tell you anything for your safety. For that reason, the ending felt a bit anticlimactic for me because there was so much build up for this one event.
Overall, I really loved Nevermoor; it took me back to the whimsy and nostalgia of middle grade fantasy. The ending also took an unexpected darker turn, and I am intrigued to see what happens in Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow.
The #OwnVoices movement emphasizes the importance of stories about by marginalized characters written by marginalized writers. The accurate representation of individuals/groups has always been vital to me read about in literature. As someone who is a Bengali and Muslim, it’s incredibly difficult to find books about marginalized characters that I am truly able to relate to. This list is a compilation of some of the best #ownvoices works I’ve read thus far. Not all of them are ones I can personally relate to, but they are all stories that needed to be told.
#OwnVoices Latinx Representation
Out of Darkness tackles the 1937 New London school explosion in Texas and follows an interracial couple. Naomi is Mexican and living with her abusive stepfather and Washer is black and lives on the other side of town. Out of Darkness is gut wrenching and painful and delves deep into the prejudice with Jim Crow Laws and the festizisation of Latina women.
All American Boys tells a story about police brutality from two different perspectives. Rashad is black and a victim to police brutality when he is beaten by a police officer. Quinn is white and a bystander to the assault, and the police officer who beats Rashad happens to be his best friend’s brother. Essentially, this book offers a different perspective to the discussion on police brutality. We see Rashad who is traumatized by the assault as he tries to find the courage to stand up for himself and fight back. And there is also Quinn who battles with which side he should be on and whether or not he should side with his family or stand up for what he believes in. I feel like this is much more underrated compared to other books about police brutality so this is one I would highly recommend checking out.
Homegoing is a generational story that spans across three hundred years starting in Ghana. Two half-sisters are sent off in different directions from their villages and the story takes off from there. I remember when this book first came out, there was a lot of hype surrounding it and it was all the book community could talk about. However, I don’t hear about it as much anymore which is disappointing because it is a great story. I love generational stories and Homegoing offers how the lives of these two women and their children are connected. It tells a very unique story that connects to their Ghanan culture and family.R
#OwnVoices Representation: The author is Latinx
Benjamin Alire Sáenz is known for writing very heartfelt and character driven stories and this book was no different. Although this follows Sal who is white, his adoptive father is Mexican and gay like the author himself. In general, it’s hard to find good father figures in literature, but Sal’s father is truly one of the best fictional dads ever. He was always so attentive and supportive towards both Sal and his best friend Samantha.
#OwnVoices Representation: The author’s experience in coming out as bisexual mirrors the main character’s experience.
Julie Murphy is most widely known for Dumplin’ and while I do feel like it is deserving of the hype, Ramona Blue definitely stands out to me. This is a very personal story following Ramona’s journey with herself and her sexuality. I know a lot of people initially found the book’s synopsis to be harmful because it sounded like a story where a lesbian girl meets a boy and turns straight. But that is absolutely not the case at all. Freddie is apart of her journey, but he never turns her straight. Ramona Blue is a really beautiful story that emphasizes fluidity with one’s identity and how people should never feel the need to fit into a box of societal expectations. Ramona’s story meant a lot to me and it is definitely a hidden gem in YA contemporary.
Jesmyn Ward is an incredibly talented writer and Sing Unburied, Sing displays her talent for writing these captivating, slow paced stories. Sing Unburied, Sing follows thirteen year old Jojo who is biracial and was raised by his grandparents. His white father is in jail, and his mother is a drug addict and we see Jojo taking on a parental role to take care of his baby sister. The story of the family is messy and difficult to read as we go through their rough history. There’s just something about this story and its melancholy tone that I really loved.
#OwnVoices Bengali Representation
Obviously I can’t go without recommending this book even though I talk about it non-stop on my blog. You Bring the Distant Near was the first book that I ever read with Bengali representation, and it’s a special story for me. You Bring the Distant Near is another generational story following two sisters, Sonia and Tara who are originally from Kolkata, India immigrate from London to Queens, New York. We follow three generations of this family through the eyes of the daughters. It tackles so many different topics such as Ranee, Sonia and Tara’s mother’s fear that her children will lose their sense of culture. This is a discussion that has come up many times in my life and it’s interesting to see how this book handled it. Despite this book being young adult contemporary, I genuinely think it can be counted as literary fiction because of how profound the familial relationships were. Anyways, everyone should read this book because it is incredible.
(Don’t) Call Me Crazy is a collection of OwnVoices essays on mental illness. There are a wide array of voices and experiences present in this collection and each of them provides a deeper insight on the discussion of mental health. I’ve always considered myself to be pretty well informed on mental health, but I learned that there is still so more left to know. This book explores so many different experiences and mental illnesses I didn’t know existed. Reading this book was in a sense, therapeutic because I felt seen. Although I wasn’t able to relate to every singe essay in this collection, each and every one of these authors have been through and are still going through times in their lives where things are not okay. Ideally, I know that there are so many others in the world who might feel the same as me, but in the midst of all the shit that you experience, we tend to forget that. Reading this book, I was reminded that “hey, there are other people who are going through shit as well.” And that is a wonderful feeling.
Published: November 6th 2018 by Jimmy Patterson Books
Series: Girls of Paper and Fire #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Romance
Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.
But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.
In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
Girls of Paper and Fire was an expansive story that combined some of my favorite fantasy elements. It also included relevant and important themes on the effects of sexual assault. The story is centered around these “paper girls” who are the King’s concubines. The way their caste system and instant degrading of women is enforced in their society is one that has remained consistent within history. The author herself also grew up in Malaysia (She’s half Malaysian and half Chinese), and was inspired by her heritage. Despite how graphic and horrifying this book was to read, it’s important for people to acknowledge that despite this story being fantasy, Lei’s story is one that is all too familiar.
The world in Girls of Paper and Fire is an interesting one as it is built on a caste system. It was interesting to see the parallels between this fictional social hierarchy compared to ones throughout history. The Paper caste consists of people who are fully human and they are the lowest caste. The Paper girls are essentially eight concubines who spend a year or so with the demon king, and he chooses which girl he wishes to spend the night with/have sex with.
The author does not hold back with the violence of this story. She really delves into the trauma that these girls are facing from the treatment of the king. In particular, I found the way they are treated by some of their teachers who train them to be a Paper Girls to be heartbreaking as they enable the king’s behavior. This is especially an important story for survivors of sexual assault. While there are contemporary and non fiction books on sexual assault, fantasy stories don’t typically explore the trauma and ramifications to the extent that Girls of Paper and Fire did.
There is also a romance between two girls in this story which I really enjoyed. Lei is able to find solace with the other girls who experience the same violence from the king, romantic or otherwise. I did find that the romance needed more development, but I think that is more my personal preference. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not really a romantic person and that it takes a lot for me to like a ship. However, popular f/f relationships are so incredibly rare in YA fiction so I’m happy that this book is getting a lot of buzz as it does portray a healthy f/f relationship.
The storyline of the book does revolve around taking down the king which is stated in the synopsis. I did find parts of the plot to be quite predictable especially in their plan to take down the king. However, it was entertaining enough to hold my attention. Overall, I do feel like the story was more revolved around the Paper girls and their horrible experiences with the king. While I would have liked to see more of a substantial plot, I do feel that it will improve as the series continues. At its core, this is a story of surviving trauma which many fantasy books don’t typically delve into. Girls of Paper and Fire ended up being a very unique and relevant fantasy story, and I am looking forward to the sequel.
The start of a new reading year is always exciting because there is so much anticipation for upcoming releases. Here are the books that I’m most looking forward to reading this year varying from YA fantasy and contemporary literary fiction to nonfiction.
Release Date: January 15, 2019
I’ve read Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel, and I did really enjoy her writing and fantastical atmosphere. The Gilded Wolves sounds like her most compelling novel yet. It follows Séverin Montagnet-Alarie in 1889 Paris who enlists the help of a diverse group of people to find an ancient artifact. I’m getting Six of Crows vibes, and everyone knows I will read anything remotely similar to Six of Crows.
Release Date: January 29, 2019
The fact that a book like this is being published is absolutely surreal because this is a story that I’ve been waiting for so long. The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali follows a Bengali girl, Rukhsana who is found kissing her girlfriend by her parents. Her parents end up taking her to Bangladesh where she gains perspective through her grandmother’s old journals.
Release Date: January 29, 2019
So this book is written by Leigh Bardugo, so it’s automatically on my to read list. King of Scars follows Nikolai from the Grisha Verse trilogy. I read the Grisha Verse a long time ago and I hardly remember it. I didn’t love the series, but I am intrigued on Nikolai’s story, and I hear that my girl Nina Zenik (Six of Crows) has a POV, so I’m immediately on board.
Release Date: February 5, 2019
This is another book that is a given anticipated release. I read The Hate U Give, and I absolutely loved it (of course). Angie Thomas is a very talented writer, and this is another story that mirrors many of the author’s experiences.
Release Date: February 12, 2019
Bloodwitch is the third book in the Witchlands series which is one of the few fantasy series I’ve actually been keeping up with these past few years. I remember reading Windwitch two years ago, and I really enjoyed it at the time. Aeduan and Iseult are also two of the most fascinating characters in this entire series, and I heard that this book has more of a focus on them, so I’m immediately intrigued.
Release Date: March 5, 2019
As most people did, I read Children of Blood and Bone last year, and I really enjoyed it. It didn’t quite make my favorites list, but it has the potential to be an epic fantasy series. After the ending of the first book, I’m very intrigued to see what happens in the sequel.
Release Date: March 12, 2019
I received an e-ARC of The Bird King so there might be a review if I manage to read it soon. All I really know about this book is that it’s a historical fantasy written by a Muslim author, and I’m immediately sold.
Release Date: March 19, 2019
Internment is a dystopian/(hopefully) alternate story where Muslim American families are places in internment camps. It seems surreal that something like this could ever happen in America. However, in the time we’re living in, it is terrifying to consider that this could be a possibility in the near future. I haven’t read any of Samira Ahmed’s books, but I’m hoping that this will be an insightful read.
Release Date: March 19, 2019
I’m trying to read more nonfiction and this was one that sounded interesting. It is essentially a memoir that follows the author’s experience growing up biracial and queer and how she found solace in her childhood through a group of fatherless girls.
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Wicked Saints has been compared to Six of Crows, and I’m immediately sold. This sounds like a classic fantasy story as it follows a group of people that come together to assassinate a king and stop a war.
Release Date: April 2, 2019
I’ve read You Bring the Distant Near By Mitali Perkins, and as everyone knows, I loved it and it was one of my favorites of 2018. I don’t know too much about Forward Me Back To You, but it deals with two people who are brought together in a service trip in India where they work with survivors of human trafficking.
Release Date: May 7, 2019
I’ve read S.K. Ali’s debut, and I did end up enjoying it. But Love From A to Z has a very interesting concept. It follows two people, Adam and Zayneb who meet in Qatar. Adam has multiple sclerosis and Zayneb was suspended from school for standing up to her Islamophobic teacher.
Release Date: May 14, 2019
This is another fantasy written by a Muslim author. There are so many Muslims coming out with OwnVoices books this year, and it’s such an invigorating feeling. I don’t know too much about this book, but it sounds interesting and similar to Mulan.
Release Date: August 13, 2019
I read Of Fire and Stars when it first came out, and I love reading about Denna and Mare and their sweet love story. Their story continues in the sequel and the storyline looks like it’s going to get a lot more political. I wasn’t a fan of the lackluster plot in the first book, so I’m hoping this installment will include more political intrigue as well as the same fluff from Of Fire and Stars.
Release Date: November 5, 2019
I’ve read The Night Circus, and while I did find that it was overhyped, I did like the author’s writing style and atmosphere. The Starless Sea sounds a lot more interesting that her debut as it’s an adult fantasy book following a grad student who discovers a book that leads him to a lost realm. It sounds similar to Strange the Dreamer By Laini Taylor so I’m intrigued.
As per tradition, at the end of the year, I’m always in a competitive rush to reach my reading goal. I ended up reading 15 books this month which is more than I’ve read in any single month this year. My winter break did start in the last week of December so that really contributed to my reading. Overall, December was a well rounded reading month.
The Rise of the Empress series is an East Asian inspired Evil Queen retelling (#ownvoices) and this book follows the Snow White-like character, Jade. While I loved how the first book flipped fantasy conventions on its head, this one felt much more generic. There wasn’t much substance to Jade’s character and while everyone can appreciate her general goodness and devotion to her people, there wasn’t much else to her story. Xifeng was so much more of a fascinating character and I didn’t get any of that from Jade. I think what would have made the story more interesting would be to further develop the relationship between Xifeng and Jade rather than resorting to a conventional hero/villain trope. Overall, the story itself had potential, but Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix felt very underwhelming to me. Rating: ★★★☆☆
(Don’t) Call Me Crazy is a beautiful anthology of diverse voices coming together to talk about mental health. I used to think I was pretty well versed in the conversation surrounding mental illness, having experienced it myself, but there is still so much more to learn. Whether that be about trauma or the different aspects to a mental illness that I hadn’t thought of before, it offers a wider perspective on the discussion around mental health. This book is difficult to read as well. The amount of vulnerability present in each and everyone of these stories takes courage and reading it can be difficult. But, there’s also a sense of solace in connecting with so many people through their writing because they just get it. They understand how hard it can be to just get through the day, and how sometimes you reach a breaking point, and wonder if you can get up again. And to be able to connect to these stories and finally feel “seen” is an incredible feeling. Truly, truly a beautiful collection of stories. Rating: ★★★★★
The Everlasting Rose is the sequel to The Belles which I really enjoyed when I read it. Mostly because I really like Rémy (he reminds me of Kaldur from Young Justice). I don’t want to say too much about this book because it comes out in March of 2019. I do feel like some parts of this book were lacking because there was so much build up to the climax of the story and not much pay off. While I enjoyed the overall journey to getting there, the climax fell short for me. *Mild spoiler alert: Also, this includes one of my least favorite romantic tropes, so if you’re not a fan of two love interests getting split up for majority of the book, be aware of that before going in. *end spoiler Review will be coming closer to the release date. Rating: ★★★ ¼ ☆☆ (3.25/5)
So I feel like my rating is quite an unpopular opinion because most people seem really love this series and the sequel. While I did enjoy Strange the Dreamer and thought it had an interesting concept, Muse of Nightmares pale in comparison. This 15 hour audiobook took me nearly a month to finish and I’m pretty sure it’s shorter than the first book, and I think that speaks for itself. I just didn’t find this one as interesting as the first book. The plot was very slow moving and that typically doesn’t bother me, but it felt like nothing was happening. However, I did like the antagonists. Minya’s character, in particular was incredibly fascinating. She was literally weighed down by her grief and even more so because she was stuck in the body of a child. Her mind was kind of like a flashbulb memory (peep the AP Psych term) on loop which I thought was an accurate portrayal of her trauma. Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with Muse of Nightmares, and by the end, I just wanted to be done with it. However, I can’t deny that Laini Taylor is an incredibly talented writer and deserves all the praise for her unique stories. Rating: ★★★ ¼ ☆☆ (3.25/5)
As I had expected, China Rich Girlfriend was not the best sequel to this series. While I had enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians, both the book and the movie, I don’t enjoy Kevin Kwan’s writing style. He has overzealous descriptions and it feels like the story is bogged down with unnecessary information. I enjoy the usual shenanigans and drama that ensued especially with Rachel reuniting with her father’s side of the family. However, I do think this is the weakest of the series, and if I’m being honest, I think this book would work better as a film. Rating: ★★★☆☆
Often times you have this feeling before you read a book that it’s going to be your favorite, and that was the case for this book. I was truly able to connect with the story from the familial struggles to many of the religious and cultural traditions that I grew up with. I’ve read a lot of literary fiction this past year or two, but this is one of the strongest ones I’ve come across. Mirza’s writing is beautiful and I loved how she managed to be subtle in her descriptions. For example, there was one scene between Amar and his father. It was a simple scene, but it conveyed their nuanced relationship. Anyways, this book is incredible and everyone should read it. Rating: ★★★★★
So it’s been a while since I’ve read the Miss P. series and I feel like my opinions and reading tastes have changed quite a bit. I don’t really enjoy Ransom Riggs’ writing style. He does a lot of telling and not showing. Many scenes are summarized rather than described and it creates a very convenient situation for the characters. Often times, Jacob will be in a terrible situation and how he gets out of it is simply summarized. I also thought the way the situation with his parents was handled was convenient. There was buildup to it,but no payoff and at the end, his parents just served as a distraction to get rid of. I did enjoy the enticing storyline. The peculiars go on a roadtrip to find a new peculiar, and shenanigans ensue. There’s a new American setting, and they do back and forth between different time periods. Additionally, I liked how the ymbrynes weren’t portrayed a perfect, angelic heroes. They clearly has their flaws in how they were running society. In particular, Miss Peregrine and how she treats the peculiars. Emma and Jacob’s relationship is further explored. Back when I read it, I wasn’t too bothered by the fact that Emma and Abe had a relationship, but it was a lot more obvious in this novel. Their relationship felt very one sided and the ending made sense to me. Overall, not the best book in the series. If I’m being honest, I would have preferred a spinoff rather than a direct sequel. Not to say I don’t enjoy reading about these characters, but I am more interested in other characters rather than Jacob. Again, not a fan of Ransom Riggs’ writing, but the storyline does have me intrigued for the next installment. Rating: ★★★ ½ ☆☆ (3.5/5)
Overall, I do feel like A Very Large Expanse of Sea is very deserving of the hype. Although I didn’t experience the immediate after effects of 9/11, I was still able to connect to Shirin’s experience as a hijabi. In particular, I loved that despite all of the harassment she experienced, she remained unapologetic about wearing the hijab. It remained a constant and wearing it made her feel stronger. On the other hand, I didn’t particularly like the writing style. Her writing is a lot less flowery than her Shatter Me trilogy and you could say it is more fitting for a contemporary story. However, I feel like there wasn’t much substance to her writing. I’m not sure if listening to the audiobook affected my opinion, but I found it to be quite bland. There is also a romance between Shirin and Ocean, and though I’m not sure how Tahereh Mafi grew up, I personally grew up learning that premarital relationships are haram (forbidden) in Islam. It was disconcerting read about at times. I also found that the story revolved around their relationship, and I wished that there was more of a storyline. Despite my gripes with the book, I still loved the overall message of the story, and it is definitely Tahereh Mafi’s best work yet. Rating:★★★★☆
I don’t even think my thoughts will be comprehensive in this review because this book left me speechless. I listened to the audiobook of Sadie and it’s truly one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever read. Sadie is narrated in a half narrative and half podcast format, and the audiobook completely enhances the experience. It truly feels like you’re listening to an actual podcast and it is just as suspenseful. As we follow Sadie on her hunt in tracking down Keith and West slowly figuring out the mystery behind her disappearance through his podcast; this story is truly a page turner. Although it is slow in the beginning, I finished the entire audiobook in a day. I don’t typically read thrillers, but this is one of my favorites. Rating: ★★★★¾ ☆ (4.75/5)
When it comes to nonfiction books about racial divide and discrimination, I feel like there is no such thing as being educated enough on the matter. Each book seems to bring the author’s own personal perspective on race in America. We Are Not Yet Equal, in particular, focuses on the history of race in America going back through the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Jim-Crow era to the present. Although this book felt more historical and factual, it still offered analysis on the events that occurred throughout history. Rating: ★★★ ¼ ☆☆ (3.25/5)
Marriage of a Thousand Lies first appealed to me because it follows a Sri-Lankan couple, Lucky and Krishna who are both gay. Their relationship is essentially a ploy as they both hookup and have significant others on the side. They’re basically each other’s beards. When Lucky’s best friend and first love, Nisha comes back to town, newly engaged, it causes old feelings to arise. I’m going to be honest, this book wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. The characters are very unlikeable which typically doesn’t bother me, but I just found Lucky to be incredibly selfish and immature. Additionally, I found her relationship with Nisha to be very debilitating and toxic, which I know was the author’s intention, but it would have been nice to read about a healthy relationship between two women. I did like the aspects of her Sri-Lankan culture and how being gay is such a stigma in South Asian households. Overall, not the best story, but still one that I found enjoyable. Rating: ★★★☆☆
The Colossus of New York was essentially an essay describing New York City. He’s truly able to capture the atmosphere and essence of New York City so well and it was such a soothing and nostalgic audiobook to listen to. Rating: ★★★ ½ ☆☆ (3.5/5)
At this point, I was really crunching on time, and resorted to poetry books. I was pleasantly surprised with this collection. It was such a charming and lovely book that is perfect for children. Rating: ★★★★☆
I don’t have much to say about this book because I just didn’t understand it. While the idea of writing poems centered around language seems interesting, this collection was all around confusing and peculiar. Rating:★☆☆☆☆
El Deafo provides a sweet, OwnVoices story on Cece’s experience as a deaf girl going to a hearing school. I did take ASL classes at one point, and I loved learning about the Deaf community and Deaf culture. Although this book doesn’t really show ASL as apart of Cece’s journey, it still provided a different perspective on being deaf. Rating: ★★★ ¼ ☆☆ (3.25/5)
So this year has been a strange on in terms of reading. This is the year I’ve read the least amount of books in probably ever since I learned how to read on a daily basis. Partially because I was in a major reading slump for most of the year and reading was hard on top of the other things I attempted to balance in my life. I mostly listened to audiobooks which was a new and refreshing experience. I also read many middle of the road books and it honestly wasn’t that hard to narrow down my list of favorites. Regardless, I did read some incredible stories this year, and I was able to find ones I could really connect to. These are also not in any particular order.
Autoboyagraphy wasn’t meant to be on this list. At the time I was reading it, I thought it was an insightful and fluffy LGBTQ+ contemporary. But it wasn’t something I was expecting to stick with me. However, nearly eleven months later, I still think about this story. There was something about Sebastian’s story that stuck out to me. His struggles with religion and his sexual identity was one I found myself relating to. Although I am Muslim and Sebastian is Mormon, his journey in coming to terms with being gay is a story that still sticks with me. The way sexual orientation is considered taboo in his community and church was a narrative I found all too familiar. This story is so much more than a fluffy romance. It talks about religion and breaking boundaries. And it’s a story that I will definitely remember and one that I plan on visiting again soon. Read full review here.
The Nightingale was a story that surprised me. Due to all of the hype surrounding this book, I wasn’t expecting much and by this point, I had read several WWII historical fiction novels. But as I was literally sobbing my eyes out while reading this book on the rainiest of days, I knew it had to be on my list of favorites. There is just so much strength and emotion illuminating form this story. You’re following this story of a broken family and how they contribute their love and strength to help those in need and it’s truly a beautiful tale. In a sense, the war has simultaneously divided and reunited families and seeing it unfold is profound. Reading about the women, especially, and how they contributed to the war behind the scenes just goes to show how much the war was a burden on the backs of both the soldiers and people on the homefront. Despite all of the historical fiction novels I’ve read, The Nightingale is one that will always stand out to me.
The Astonishing Color of After is a very personal story for me. I’m always looking for mental health novels from a second hand perspective because I have personal experience in the subject matter. In essence, this is a story about grief. We see how Leigh handles her mother’s death and comes to terms with her struggles with depression. Not only was this book beautifully written, the atmosphere encompassed the haunting tone of the story. It goes in depth into how suicide can affect a single person and their loved ones. It explores Leigh’s Taiwanese heritage and culture, and how it affected her mother’s life. Truly, truly a beautiful story.
Considering I’ve been waxing poetic about this book for an entire year, I don’t it’s a surprise to anyone that this is on my list of favorites for the year. This book is a generational story following a Bengali family as they navigate America. The main reason why I love this book so much is because I was able to connect to my culture. Despite the main characters being Hindu and from Kolkata, India, I have never read a book that closely aligned with my culture. Although I grew up in a more religious household rather than a cultural one, it was refreshing to be able to read about the different nuances to Bengali culture. Additionally, the story also takes place in Queens, NY which I grew up in and there was so much nostalgia while reading it. Overall, You Bring the Distant Near will always be an all time favorite because it somehow managed to bring me closer to my Bengali culture and heritage. Read full review here.
I don’t typically have memoirs on my favorites list because it tells the story of someone’s personal journey in life. However, I found Becoming to be the one of the most profound memoirs I had ever read before. I remember while reading I was surprised to see how much I could relate to Michelle Obama. In her anecdotes about her childhood, she brought up her humble, middle class beginnings and how she didn’t seem to fit in amongst the rich kids. Growing up in the same environment, I found myself relating to her childhood experiences. Her book goes to show that she is more than just a First Lady. Becoming truly tells the raw and vulnerable journey of her life. Read full review here.
A Place For Us follows an Indian American Muslim family reunited by their eldest daughter’s wedding. It tells a story of religion, tradition, and most importantly one of family. As someone who’s grown up in very religious household, I was never able to find a story that managed to include all of the cultural traditions that are present in a South Asian family while still including the prominence of Islam. Islam and faith were large parts of this novel and I felt seen while reading it. The family being Muslim went beyond just a label. It was apart of their identity and incorporated into every aspect of life. This is truly a beautiful written literary fiction novel. From the writing to the depictions of Islam and family to the message, this is a story that I will cherish for forever.
Format: Audiobook via Libby—>Narrator: Michelle Obama
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms.
Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.
Add to Goodreads.
Spoiler Free Review:
*This is the review I wrote for my school newspaper.
When most people think of Michelle Obama, they know her as the forty-fourth First Lady of America. Known for her elegant manner and tenacity to improve the life of children across the world, she is a force to be reckoned with. Her memoir, Becoming is her most personal book yet, and presents a different side to her incredible life story.
Obama begins the memoir by recounting her childhood memories growing up in Chicago. From the warm presence of her neighborhood to her middle class family struggles, Obama was able to craft a narrative that everyone can connect to. She goes into detail about her father’s deteriorating health, and his challenges with multiple sclerosis. His stubborn attitude as he insisted on going to work, despite his illness. She talks about how her parents chose to raise her and her older brother as adults, not shying away from providing them the truth, even as children.
Before Michelle Obama met her husband, Barack Obama, she was Michelle Robinson, ambitious lawyer and Princeton and Yale graduate. Obama mentions that besides being Barack Obama’s wife, her double Ivy League degrees is often highlighted on. It was interesting to get a wider insight into her law degrees and previous careers. How she went into a law career because it was what was expected of her, and what would make the most money. As Obama’s career was flourishing, she decided that she had hated her job for long and resigned her career as a lawyer.
A major turning point in Michelle Obama’s life began with the 2008 presidential election. Contrary to popular belief, Obama has always had little interest in politics and was wary of her husband involving himself into American government. She goes into full detail about the campaign, from the mistakes she made to her widely known accomplishments. Obama is able to present a vulnerability to her story that is unique to her memoir. It was especially interesting to see the conflicting feelings on her presence in the media in being called an “angry black woman.” She was able to handle her obstacles with grace and integrity, however, reading about her mistakes as a First Lady and otherwise made her appear more human.
Michelle Obama has remained an icon for the past decade, and her memoir is a reminder of why she is so loved by America. Despite her vast accomplishments, Becoming is able to show the smaller and lesser known moments in her journey. From her adorable workplace romance with Barack Obama to her father passing away, Obama truly crafts a remarkable story. She reminds everyone, America and beyond to empower and love, and most importantly to become.
So this past year I’ve watched some incredible T.V. shows and some have become an all time favorite. I have a variety of shows here ranging from comedy sitcoms to reality t.v. to animated shows.
One Day At A Time is truly that one underrated show that gets memed all the time on Twitter and Tumblr, but never really gets the recognition it deserves. I’m usually not a fan of sitcoms with laughter in the background because it can sound inauthentic and forced. But One Day At A Time actually has a live audience watching the scenes as it is being filmed. Other than that, ODAAT presents a fresh and hilarious perspective on a Cuban family following single mother and war veteran, Penelope as she tries to maintain her busy life as a working mom/nurse. There’s so much to love about this show from the relatable humor and the way they tackle serious topics as well. Penelope’s PTS and depression, Elena coming out as gay and immigration in America. If you like shows like Jane the Virgin and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, definitely go and watch this show (It airs on Netflix).
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is the fluffy, magical girl show of the year. She-Ra has taken over Tumblr as it’s a progressive and diverse show. There are several characters of color, bad-ass female characters and canon queer couples. This is the show I wish I had when I was younger. It’s truly an empowering cartoon for young girls. Available on Netflix.
The Great British Bake Off: Yes. I am absolute trash for a good baking/cooking show. Is much of it staged and overdramatic? Yes, because it’s reality T.V. Will that stop me from watching it? No. In general, GBBO is just an incredibly addicting entertaining show to watch. Do I get anxiety every time the bakers have five minutes left and they’re rushing to finish? Also, yes. But, I’ve become accustomed to the genuine stress reality television can cause me. I also may or may not watch this as I do my homework. Available on Netflix.
The Dragon Prince appeared to be one of those ATLA rip-offs that never quite hit the mark. However, after hearing all the good reviews, I gave it a try and binged the entire season in a day. Although the plot may have its cliches and predictabilities, the characters are very intriguing. I’m weak when it comes to fluffy, quirky characters and the main characters are all of those. Additionally, I love that there is a deaf character who’s a bad-ass leader and communicates through ASL. As an ASL student, it’s refreshing to see progressive deaf rep. on screen. Available on Netflix.
Jane the Virgin was basically my solace over this past summer. I started watching it after the hype and I honestly wasn’t expecting much. I immediately became attached to the storyline and binged all five seasons in three days. I found it to be strangely relatable. While I’m not a hopeless romantic like Jane, I also want to become a writer and seeing Jane’s struggles through her writing process was something I was able to connect with. The familial connection was also very present, and one of my favorite aspects was that Jane’s abuela only spoke Spanish. So despite all of the unnecessary and often unrealistic drama the show has (It’s a CW show so can you expect anything less?), it’s incredibly endearing and suspenseful. The ending of the last season was literally jaw-dropping and I can’t wait for the final season and future spin-off. Also, Team Michael all the way. Available on Netflix.
Black Lightning is in my opinion, the best superhero show on the CW right now. While The Flash has always been my favorite, Black Lightning has brought a fresh new story that The Flash sadly hasn’t been able to deliver these past few seasons. Black Lightning is similar to Arrow in that it has a darker storyline, but it manages to be unique in plot and character structure. I especially love the strong familial bonds in the story. Anissa and Jennifer’s relationship and Jefferson’s duty to his family. Black Lightning is definitely one of the more underrated shows on the CW and one that more people should be watching. Season 1 available on Netflix.
Queer Eye is probably on many people’s favorites list this year. When going into the show, I had zero expectations and was honestly blown away by it. Reality television has it’s inaccuracies and flaws, but Queer Eye has remained as the most genuine reality show. I literally cry in every single time because of how emotionally raw each episode is. It delves deep into human struggle and comes out as a beacon of hope every single time. There have been numerous deep and nuanced discussions that have taken place from Karamo talking to a white police officer on police brutality to Bobby opening up about his excommunication from his church for coming out as gay. People often have their misconceptions about five queer guys helping (mostly) straight men, but there are so many more layers to the show. Anyways, everyone should watch Queer Eye because I guarantee that you will at least tear up during an episode. Available on Netflix.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has remained as one of my all time favorite T.V. shows and Season 5 was truly the best season yet. Spoilers for Season 5: From Rosa coming out to Jake’s proposal and Jake and Amy’s wedding to Holt becoming a candidate for NYPD Commissioner. I started watching B99 when the show was kind of losing its popularity and I remember thinking that season 5 cannot be the last season I’ll be watching. To be completely honest, the cancellation and being picked up by NBC was the best thing that ever happened to the show. I’ve come to love it even more and I can’t wait for Season 6 to come out. Available on Netflix everyone except the U.S. -_-
2018 was truly the year of audiobooks for me. This past reading year was not my best and reading physical books was a challenge. Majority of the books I read, I listened to partly because I was busy enough that I genuinely didn’t have time to physically read a book. I’ve come to rely on audiobooks and I’m honestly not complaining. Audiobooks are such a wonderful source for reading and I’ve come to love it. Here are some of my favorites from this year:
Echo was actually the very first audiobook I listened to this year and it was the perfect one to start with. This is a full cast audiobook with several narrators as the story passes through the perspective of different children. However, the best part of the audiobook was the music woven throughout the recording. Music plays a significant role in the story as all the characters are connected through it and the composition just added a whole other beautiful element to the story.
Heroes of Olympus: (Books #1-3): Joshua Swanson, (Books #4-5): Nick Chamian
I really can’t go without mentioning Rick Riordan’s audiobooks that got me through finals and several mental breakdowns. This year, I read the Heroes of Olympus and Magnus Chase series. I honestly don’t think I would have enjoyed these books as much as I did if I hadn’t listened to the audiobooks. The narrator changed (though they all sounded the same) a couple of times, but all of them were very talented. From the different voices for each of the characters and creatures, an entertaining story was always guaranteed.
This is one of my favorite books of 2018 and it is partly because of the audiobook. Stephanie Hsu was able to encapture all of Leigh’s emotions from her frustration with her father to her grief over her mother’s suicide. Emily X.R. Pan’s writing is also beautiful and I feel like that contributed to my enjoyment as well. All around, The Astonishing Color of After was an incredible audiobook and story.
Strange the Dreamer is beautifully written and even more so with Steve West’s incredible narration. He truly enhanced the story through his narrations and the atmosphere came alive in the audiobook. Although I did have some gripes with Muse of Nightmares, I can’t deny that these audiobooks are incredibly produced.
So I listened to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue on audio which is narrated by Tom Marvolo Riddle himself, Chris Coulsen. The audiobook was amazing and hilarious and perfectly captured Monty’s whiny voice. Moira Quirk also did a great job with Felicity and was able to capture her self-righteousness and sometimes snobby voice.
The audiobook for What If It’s Us felt like listening to a movie. Both Noah and Froy were able to perfectly capture the sweet awkwardness of Arthur and Ben. I ended up finishing this audiobook in an entire school day which goes to show how addicting it was. The audiobook truly enhanced my experience in reading this story and I honestly don’t think I would have loved it as much if I hadn’t listened to it.
Narrated by the queen herself, Michelle Obama.
When a memoir is narrated by the author themselves, I am definitely more willing to listen to it. In this case, there was really no other option because Michelle Obama has always been an icon to me. Her audiobook is just as amazing as I expected it to be. Michelle Obama has this soothing tone to her narration and it really did feel like I was sitting down with her as she told me her life story. There was really no other person to tell this story and as always, she did a phenomenal job with it.
This month, I read a variety of books ranging from nonfiction to historical fiction to poetry collections.
This book is basically the most perfect combination of Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli’s minds. It has gratuitous amounts of fluffy awkwardness, plenty of angst and nerdy musical references. I listened to the entire audiobook in a span of a day and I couldn’t stop gushing the entire day. This book is far from perfect, but it’s still such a special story for me. Arthur is the cutest and I too am a Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen enthusiast. Ben was painfully relatable from growing up in NYC and his struggles in school to his family being low income. I loved their terribly awkward dates and their eagerness to make the next “first date” better. There were also some polarizing opinions on the ending, but I thought it combined both Becky’s fluffy endings and Adam’s angsty endings. (Also, I love that the title itself is a Dear Evan Hansen reference).
The Nightingale is a highly acclaimed historical fiction novel, so I went in with mediocre expectations. At first, I wasn’t really enjoying it all that much, and it seemed very over hyped. Nothing substantial seemed to be occurring, however, the story really began to pick up towards the middle, and now I honestly think this may be one of my favorite books of the year. The amount of emotional capacity this book held was almost overwhelming. From the complicated relationship between Isabelle, Vianne and their father to the high stakes involved in being an ally. Reading about the people left at home in the war as they try to survive and help on the sidelines. We often put an emphasis on war veterans who were on the front lines (as we should). However, the people who were left at home who risked their lives for others and endured the harsh treatment and invasions of their homes are veterans as well and they also endured a tragedy as well. The Nightingale was an emotional story and I was sobbing by the end, but it was worth reading an incredible story. (I can’t wait to see how it will be adapted into a movie).
Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles was one of my favorites in middle school, and it’s been a while since I’ve read any of her books. Renegades takes an interesting twist on the classic superhero narrative. Nova presents a more antagonistic view as she goes on a deep undercover mission to take down the superhero league, The Renegades. Although there were some stereotypical elements to the story, I was surprised to see how it showed that as the world starts to depend on heroes, they become virtually defenseless. It provided an interesting perspective because a part of Nova’s reason for taking down the Renegades is justified and you get to see a different perspective on a typical hero/villain story. Overall, it was an entertaining audio book and I am interested to see what happens in the next book.
After reading this book I think it’s become clear I have a penchant for reading books about debilitating marriages and families. If you want your fair share of heartbreaking angst and frustrating characters, this book is your perfect match. I can definitely see why this is such a popular book because the story is so applicable. It truly represents an “American marriage,” but the irony of it is that it’s far from perfect, and has the additional dosage of centuries of racism. Celestial and Roy are both innocent and guilty and it was interesting to explore their dynamic. Tayari Jones’ writing is beautiful, and she has this way of fooling the reader into thinking things will actually work out to completely flipping the story on its head. Additionally, there was discussion of yet another innocent black man being incarcerated, and how it affects relationships. My only complaint is that I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending because it seemed rushed and very unrealistic. But, overall, this was fascinating examination on relationships and Tayari Jones delivered with this story.
Michelle Obama was always an inspiring human being to me and after reading Becoming, she’s even more incredible. Becoming was meant to be her raw and vulnerable story and she delivered on all fronts. I learned that she is so much more than a (former) First Lady. She’s a humanitarian, an activist, a devoted mother and wife, and most importantly, an incredibly brave and independent woman. Reading about her childhood, I was surprised to see how much I could relate to her middle class upbringing. From not being able to afford spring break trips to France to feeling out of place at a school meant for rich people, I found myself connecting to her. There is so much to learn from this story and the whole time it felt like I was growing and becoming right alongside Michelle Obama. And it was an incredible feeling.
The Princess Saves Herself in this One was told in more of a narrative style as we went through Amanda Lovelace’s life. There were elements that I found to be very unique and raw while others felt a bit recycled. I do think it was much more creative than Milk & Honey and I liked the overarching theme of a princess/damsel in distress. It felt like the collection had a central purpose and wasn’t just a cacophony of words. I do feel like it’s hard to judge poetry because it can be so personal (and this one definitely is), but I did end up enjoying this one.
Published: October 2nd 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Audiobook via Libby—>Narrator: Moira Quirk
Series: Montague Siblings #2
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ+
In this highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Felicity Montague must use all her womanly wits and wiles to achieve her dreams of becoming a doctor—even if she has to scheme her way across Europe to do it. A must-have for fans of Mackenzi Lee’s extraordinary and Stonewall Honor-winning novel.
A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.
But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid.
In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.
“In the company of women like this— sharp-edged as raw diamonds but with soft hands and hearts, not strong in spite of anything but powerful because of everything— I feel invincible. Every chink and rut and battering wind has made us tough and brave and impossible to strike down. We are mountains— or perhaps temples, with foundations that could outlast time itself.”
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy fulfilled all of my expectations of a hilarious and charming adventure led by bad-ass women. I loved the inexplicable charm of Gentleman’s Guide, but Felicity’s story was one that I could connect to on a personal level and I ended up loving it more than I expected to.
Lady’s Guide begins with Felicity working at a bakery to support herself in hopes of enrolling in a medical school and starting her own practice. Obviously, things never seem to go the right way for the Montague siblings and she finds herself attending her former best friend, Johanna’s wedding to her hero and medical prodigy, Alexander Platt. Chaos ensues and Felicity learns that the never meet your heroes saying is always accurate. Something that I found remained consistent throughout was Felicity’s relentless ambition. Despite her constantly being shut down, Felicity was still determined to pursue a medical degree.
The asexual representation was what I was most looking forward to in this book. It was briefly implied in Gentleman’s Guide and was further explored in this story. Though no explicit labels are stated (It’s the eighteenth century), it was confirmed that Felicity is on the asexual spectrum. I’m on the ace spectrum as well and it was so refreshing to read about a girl who has no interest in being in a relationship. I honestly can’t remember the last book I read following a teenager who doesn’t have a love interest. In particular, I loved the scene where Felicity was explaining her feelings towards romance to Sim. There are very few stories where I’m reading and thinking, “YES! This is exactly how I feel.” Let me tell you, it’s an incredible to finally feel acknowledged and Felicity’s story was able to do that for me. 😀
There is also an addition of new characters including Johanna and Sim. Sim was definitely my favorite new addition. She’s a black hijabi and a bad-ass pirate. Also, I enjoyed her putting the very privileged white girls in their place. I would love to read a novella on her story because she was such a fascinating character.
Mackenzi Lee also does exceptionally well in writing character flaws. In Gentleman’s Guide, Monty’s ignorance on the racism and misogyny Percy and Felicity face as well as Percy’s struggles with his mental illness were addressed in the best way possible. The same goes for Felicity’s internal misogyny and stereotypes toward Sim. She learned that women can love dresses and traditionally feminine things while still remaining strong. I can say from experience that there’s always a sense of pride in being a “tomboy feminist.” Some girls feel like they’re better than others because they don’t partake in trivial, girly attire. But women come in different forms and Felicity learns that throughout the story.
Overall, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy was a satisfying sequel to the ever charming Montague Siblings series. I’m really hoping there will be more books about these snarky siblings and sweet Percy. Speaking of, Percy and Monty are in this book and they are just as cute and fluffy as you would expect. This series definitely feels like Mackenzi Lee’s strongest work and I would love to read more from her world.