Book Reviews

Review|Saints and Misfits By S.K. Ali

32333055

Published: June 13th 2017 by Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Source: Local Library

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Muslim MC

Synopsis: Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

There are three kinds of people in my world:

1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose.

2. Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me—the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad.

Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds.

But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right?

3. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories.

Like the monster at my mosque.

People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask.

Except me.

Add to Goodreads.

Trigger warning for descriptions of attempted rape. 

Spoiler Free Review:

When it comes to reading about a book with a Muslim, hijabi main character, I’m both excited to read a book about someone like me and very skeptical because correct representation is always important to me. Saints and Misfits is definitely the most accurate representation I’ve found in a fictional story. The author is easily able to capture the life of a Muslim teen, someone who attends mosque events, wears a hijab and experiences the typical teenage dilemmas. Though I did have a few issues with the book they’re more my personal issues rather than the story as a whole.

One of the most important things that this book captured is that Muslims do live ordinary lives.  Janna had hobbies, she liked photography and the author Flannery O’Connor. It felt like your quintessential, YA coming-of-age story which in this case isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The book was definitely targeted towards Non-Muslims and Muslims alike, but the incorporation of Islam never felt forced. Janna being Muslim fit in effortlessly just like how it is in most Muslim’s lives.

Janna is half Egyptian and half Indian, which was nice to see since in most Muslim rep. the character is always Middle Eastern (South Asian Muslims exist). Her experiences as a hijabi and growing up in a Muslim family were relatable and the experiences felt very realistic. However, I couldn’t seem to connect with the main character (Janna and I are actually the same age) which unfortunately did affect my enjoyment of the story. Again, this is more of a personal issue, but, I felt like their was a bit of generalization with the portrayal of teenagers in this book. I am aware that all teenagers are petty, make stupid decisions and are melodramatic. But in particular, I didn’t really  like how both of Janna’s friends were both boy crazy. It rubbed me the wrong way since so many girls who aren’t even interested in boys or in anyone. In my opinion, it would be nice to not see a conventional depictions of a teenager. Her friends felt recycled caricatures and people I’ve read about before. I also wish there was someone to there who told Janna she didn’t need a boyfriend.

Granted, I’ve never truly experienced a romantic crush before and I don’t necessarily understand the teenager emotions of “falling for someone.”  In fact, I have Muslim friends (girls) and they’ve had crushes on boys. But it was more or less admiration from a distance, they never actively sought out a relationship since it is haram. I felt like Janna’s crush was a little too childish and petty for me. I don’t know if it’s just me, but this consistently bothered me throughout the story. (Also, did it have to be a conventionally attractive, generic white boy?) In all honesty, I wish that the whole crush wasn’t included in the story, I think there’s enough books where a Muslim girl has a crush on a Non-Muslim white boy or really any boy.

On a more positive note, I loved the family dynamic, specifically the relationship Janna had with her brother. It was genuine and honest and felt like it was told from the author’s first hand experience. The Muslim dating experience was perfect. The awkwardness and third wheeling was spot on. I always like to compare Muslim dating to Pacific Rim, you meet someone and see if you’re drift compatible which is basically how it went.

Janna’s mom was really supportive and encouraging which is refreshing to me since there have always depictions of close minded, traditional Muslim parents. Additionally, Janna’s involvement in her masjid, her uncle being a supportive uncle and imam were showed a positive atmosphere at a masjid which is important. There’s so much more to it than people are aware of and I was really glad to see it.

Another thing I really appreciated was the “monster” who attempted to rape Janna was considered a saint at the masjid. I know from experience, a young hafiz is always put up on a pedestal and seen as the perfect Muslim, a person who can’t do any wrong and who is completely devoted to Islam. I’m not saying that they’re all terrible and deceiving, just that not all of them are perfect or the saints that appear to be. It’s a topic that’s pretty taboo in the Muslim community, that a potential rapist may exist inside the community itself. I really appreciated that S.K. Ali was able to bring the topic up in the book. However, I would have liked to see more of an insight into it instead of a rushed ending.

Overall, Saints and Misfits was definitely an important novel for me, I never see myself represented in media and reading this book was an experience. Although I couldn’t fully connect with the main character and some aspects this story, I still have an appreciation to this story and the author for finally writing about a Muslim character. The novel wasn’t perfect in my eyes, but it’s definitely a story I will remember.

Rating: 3.75/5

Advertisements
Monthly Wrap Ups

August & September Wrap Up | 2017

For these two months, I could feel myself slowly getting back into reading the way I used to, but it’s a slow process. I blame technology. I did get to read books that became some of my favorites, so I think these two months were golden compared to the last few. Also, I will be going back to monthly and not bi-monthly wrap ups, just these past four months I haven’t.

*Click on books for Goodreads links.

1. persepolis

 

2. s&m

 

3. Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

 

4. htmaw

 

5. originals

 

6. lost hero

 

7. TKAM

 

8. born a crime.jpg.

 

Rankings (Least Favorite to Most Favorite):

The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus #1) By Rick Riordan

Persepolis By Marjane Satrapi

Saints & Misfits By S.K. Ali

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World By Adam Grant

How To Make A Wish By Ashley Herring Blake 

Not Otherwise Specified By Hannah Moskowitz

To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood By Trevor Noah

Reviews:

Saints and Misfits By S.K. Ali 

How To Make A Wish By Ashley Herring Blake

Not Otherwise Specified By Hannah Moskowitz

 

 

 

Book Reviews

Review|How to Make a Wish By Ashley Herring Blake

26626118

Published: May 2nd 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Source: Local Library

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance, Addiction

Synopsis: All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.

Add to Goodreads.

TRIGGER WARNINGS for alcohol abuse, emotional abuse, addiction and toxic parent/child relationships. If you are sensitive to either one of these, please be aware going into this novel. 

Spoiler Free Review:

How to Make a Wish was pitched to me as a summery contemporary, something I would probably never read if it didn’t include a f/f relationship and a bisexual main character. But this book went beyond and brought up issues of addiction and alcohol abuse, toxic parent/child relationships. It sunk into the deeper corners of reality and was so much more raw than I was expecting.

The story takes place around one summer in Grace’s life where her mother obtains a new boyfriend and another home. She meets Eva who is grief stricken from the recent loss of her mother. How to Make a Wish still includes the quintessential aspects to a YA contemporary, the petty drama and jealousy and awkwardness. But I also really appreciated her inclusions of realistic friendships.

The relationship with her mother was definitely the most intriguing. A few reviewers have mentioned that How to Make a Wish does have a realistic portrayal of addiction and the relationship with a parent who is struggling with addiction. Grace simultaneously played the role of the elder, cleaning up her mother’s messes but also the role of obedient child which is where the emotional abuse comes into play. It started as very subtle and innocent but gradually grew into something uncontrollable. Despite how much I enjoyed the realness of their toxic relationship, I didn’t like how it ended. I would have preferred more closure with their relationship. Highlight for spoiler: Grace just left her mother in a hotel room, helpless with no money in a terrible state. I completely understand that her mother is not healthy for her well-being, but, I still would thought she should have called someone to help her mom. Additionally, at the end of the novel, Maggie has enrolled in a behavioral health center and I wish there was more on it. How did she get herself to reach out for help when she was so completely against it? 

Obviously, there is a f/f relationship in this book and Grace herself is bisexual. F/f relationships tend to be rare in the YA literature which is really saddening. As important books with m/m relationships are, I feel like they are so much more popular than the ones with f/f/ relationships. If you look at popular bookish fandoms, the LGBTQ+ relationships always end up being m/m relationships. I think it would be important to boost the popularity of healthy f/f relationships. Eva and Grace were adorable and it was refreshing to see that it wasn’t a doomed relationship. (I mean, I would love to have deep conversations with my best friend on top of a lighthouse). Their relationship promotes girls supporting each other and communicating which is something that is so important. There was also own voices bisexual representation which I thought was done very well and so did many bisexual readers who reviewed this book.

Overall, How to Make a Wish did surprise me in a number of ways. It wasn’t a perfect novel, the ending wasn’t particularly my favorite. But it’s definitely important for children of abuse survivors to be able to have a story to relate to as well as have a positive f/f relationship and bisexual representation.

Rating: 3.75/5

 

 

Book Reviews

Review|Not Otherwise Specified By Hannah Moskowitz

17900792

Published: March 3rd 2015 by Simon Pulse

Source: Local Library

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health, LGBTQ+

Synopsis: Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

The latest powerful, original novel from Hannah Moskowitz is the story about living in and outside communities and stereotypes, and defining your own identity.

Add to Goodreads.

Spoiler Free Review:

In general, I haven’t read many books focusing on eating disorders, but this book on its own is a unique mental health story. It’s always important to have stories with people seeking out therapy and to shine a positive light on therapy, but also ones where they are in recovery but it doesn’t erase the existence of their mental illness. Not Otherwise Specified was able to cover this theme along with many more.

The story mostly revolves around Etta and her newly found friends, specifically Bianca an anorexic girl at her group therapy. If you read the synopsis, you would know Bianca is 14 and Etta is 17 and it did seem like their was going to be a romance between the two. From the start, it was blatantly obvious the maturity level between the two and the idea of the two being together made me really uncomfortable. If you’re worried, just know they don’t have any romantic or sexual feelings for each other. The dynamic between them was very interesting though. It felt sisterly but at times something a lot more intense. I’m not going to spoil anything but just know Bianca and Etta definitely had the sweetest and most intriguing dynamic.

I cant speak on the bisexual representation but it is own voices so the author is clearly speaking from experience. The biphobia was spot on though. The ones being biphobic weren’t all straight, but the bullying and prejudice was just as worse. Bisexuality in general is always stigmatized and misunderstood and there was quite a bit of slut shaming, a harmful bisexual stereotype. The story isn’t romance heavy and focuses more on the friendships Etta has. I really appreciate the inclusion of the toxic friendship and friend group Etta was in. I feel like unhealthy relationships always pertain to romantic or sexual relationships when it is possible in a friendship.

Etta as a character did differ from most YA protagonists in a few ways. I saw her as more of an ambivert which is pretty rare to find in literature. As an extreme introvert, I love relating to introverts in books but it was nice to see someone who wasn’t overtly extroverted but didn’t have a hard time approaching people (one of my biggest struggles). Etta easily befriended Bianca and her friends and she fit so easily with them. I feel that especially in mental health novels, the main character is always shy and introverted which can definitely be the case but it was nice to see a more sociable protagonist.

As far as I’ve seen and read, most protagonists with eating disorders are confined to skinny white girls with anorexia. I’m not trying to undermine a persons’ experience with mental illness, but I loved that Etta wasn’t skinny and had to quit ballet because of her weight. There was discussion on the dance institutions being discriminatory towards different body types which is always important. Etta is already in recovery from her eating disorder. Her eating disorder never seems to overtake her character but was still a constant. It was nice to perspective to see there’s always the days where you relapse, where your mental illness hits you right back in the face which is what is shown in this book.

Overall, Not Otherwise Specified was able to give broader perspective on mental health, eating disorder recovery but also on bisexuality and friendship. I did feel that the ending was little rushed and abrupt but it still remained a unique story. Stories with characters like Etta are just as important and necessary in mental health novels and hopefully there will be more like Not Otherwise Specified. 

Rating: 4/5

T.V. Shows

Shadowhunters Season 2B |Review

So I enjoy Shadowhunters. I don’t love it but I don’t hate it. When you’re bored and it’s summertime, there always has to be that one show you actually keep up with. Like I’ve mentioned, I’m not a massive book fan nor a massive show fan so I stand in the middle. I enjoyed 2B for the most part, though there were issues I had with the plot and the inconsistencies with the writing. Overall, I enjoyed Season 2 of Shadowhunters. It was a million times better than Season 1 (which was pretty trashy, let’s be real) and they made some really great improvements. The show is far from perfect or incredible, but I see a lot of potential there.

Season 2B:

*SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2B 

*This includes my thoughts on each episode, if you’re not interested, you can skip to my thoughts on the plot overall.

S2EP11: I don’t really have many thoughts on this episode, it was honestly kind of forgettable, besides the ending. We are introduced to Sebastian who was a delight. I remember not wanting to like him but Will Tudor is too good at being adorable and pure. But I really didn’t like how Izzy’s yin-fen addiction story came to a close and thought it was far too convenient.

S2EP12: I’m going to be honest, I really don’t like the whole Valentine and Magnus body/ Freaky Friday switch. I didn’t see any purpose in it, besides having a gateway into Magnus opening up about his past. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that Magnus opened up about his past in the future episodes, but I felt the gateway into that could have been a little different. Additionally, I agree with Matthew Daddario who said that Alec was out of character when he assisted the Inquisitor in attempting to execute Valentine. I knew Alec wasn’t going to believe Magnus in Valentine’s body because that too would be OOC. I mean, do you remember how he reacted when he met Sebastian? Total mistrust (he does go and trust him later on which frustrated the hell out of me). But he already had those suspicions in his heart and I don’t think he would just go along with the execution. Also, there’s another awkwardly cut off Malec scene. Is anyone surprised? -_-

S2EP13: I actually really enjoyed this episode, I really liked the beginnings of political tension between the Shadowhunters and Downworlders. There were a lot of parallels between real life racism, especially with Maia’s line on being black and being a werewolf (bless Alisha Wrainwright). The one thing that was ridiculous was that the person was just one rogue Seelie (ironically the one Jace hooked up with) and it was ridiculous how much damage this one Seelie did.  Alec became Head of the Institute which I’ve been waiting for since forever. It’s so important to finally have the first openly queer leader in the Shadow World. Also, Magnus and Alec had their fight (Magnus’ frustration was understandable), but the reconciliation was only 20 seconds long! They easily could have cut off one scene (cough*cough* Jace & Maia hookup). The  hookup which was completely out of the blue, but if you go back, you can see the supposed sexual tension. In my opinion, they actually seem to have more chemistry than Clace. Either way, it was totally unnecessary and it completely undermined the idea that a boy and girl can just have friendly banter without them being sexual or romantic towards each other.

S2EP14: In this episode came the iconic Seelie Court scene in the books. Personally, I hated that scene in City of Ashes when I read it because it really made me uncomfortable (even with knowing that Clace weren’t siblings). I’m glad they changed it to Clary and Jace knowing they weren’t siblings, which made it a lot less awkward. I don’t really have an opinion on this scene, I think it was adapted well. Alec held a Downworlder cabinet meeting and finally took the first step to improve Downworlder relations which– FINALLY.

S2EP15: This episode was definitely the most emotional episode of the entire season. There was a huge focus on Simon and his heartbreak over Clary and really everything that happened in the past few months (none of which were his fault). However, I do think that there was too much of a focus on Simon and not enough on Magnus. The Shadowhunters social media team promoted so much Malec and Magnus in this episode and it really didn’t live up to what I was expecting. That doesn’t mean that the scene where Magnus opened about his past wasn’t amazing, it was probably my favorite Malec scene ever. But I think the click bait way of promoting leads to a lot of build up and no follow through. I found Magnus’ trauma and PTSD to be more important than Simon’s heartbreak.

S2EP16: So this episode was directed by Paul Wesley, which I’m sure no one was aware of. Seriously, the amount of promoting they did with Paul Wesley directing this episode was ridiculous. Regardless, it was a pretty enjoyable episode. Alan Van Sprang and Will Tudor on screen is golden, since both are probably the best actors on the show (Harry Shum Jr. as well). There is finally some discovery on Sebastian/Jonathan’s backstory which I have a lot of thoughts about (see plot). Simon had his Yom Kippur dinner which was a great job on Jewish representation (written by a Jewish man) and Maia and Simon were adorable.

S2EP17: The hunt for the Mortal Mirror is on and of course Jace and Clary are absolutely reliable participants to search for it. Dot was also brought back in the worst possible way. Is she dead? No one knows. Isn’t Magnus friends with Dot? Is he not aware that his good friend is supposedly dead? Lack of continuity right there. Alec decided to hide the info about the Soul Sword from Magnus (which was understandable in his position), but of course he had to go tell Jace and Clary. What exactly was the point of them knowing at that point? Speaking of, the Magnus and Alec’s fight was golden and had some of the best acting. The facial expressions were too funny and the delivery of the lines were so in character. The best fights always seem to be the ones where you can’t really pick a side. This episode was written by Hollie Overton (author of Baby Doll) and another reviewer mentioned that the script was written too much like a novel and I agree. There was clearly too much going on and it felt like it was written in a narrative format rather than a script. Screenwriting and writing prose are vastly different and it can be hard to differentiate the two but I felt like it was glaringly obvious in this episode.

S2EP18: The hugely anticipated Malec episode has arrived. Definitely one of my favorite episodes of the season and not just because of Malec. I think it was definitely one of the more well rounded and balanced episodes of the season. Sebby is finally revealed as Jonathan/Demon Toast Man. Honestly, the way they were all blindly trusting Sebastian was ridiculous. Especially ALEC. This dude don’t trust anyone and you’re telling me he just put the new charming guy as head of security? I would have liked to see Alec notice more of Sebby’s suspicious behavior. Max is hurt in this episode and I really wish the extent of his injury was shown. It was just shown him being slammed into a desk and now he’s in danger of dying? Being slammed into desk usually results in a concussion, not anything truly life threatening. They could have shown Max being stabbed which they didn’t even need to show it on screen. (I did want Max to die which I talk about more in depth in the storyline section). Magnus looks back on his times with Alec with flashbacks, which were all wonderful and really defined Malec’s relationship. I’m going be honest, I wasn’t expecting them to break up at the end. But the break up was another amazing scene and had some of the best acting yet again. It was heartbreaking to watch, but I was also very impressed with how far Harry Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario have come.

S2EP19: This episode was… meh. The fighting sequences were done really well and I enjoyed those. However, whoever wrote this episode definitely did not follow through with consistency. Specifically with the parabatai rune. How did Alec feel Jace when he cut his hand but not when he was being hung? It was incredibly inconsistent and just plain lazy writing. Catarina was introduced and she’s already my queen, I loved the scene with Magnus it just felt like Magnus and Catarina being the best friends they are. Madzie is back and cute as ever. It makes my heart happy to know that she’s finally safe and happy.

S2EP20: To be completely honest, I was underwhelmed which is a pretty unpopular opinion. I knew exactly what was going to happen and nothing really surprised me. They made it a little too obvious that Jace would die. Though I didn’t actually think I would have a reaction when Jace died, it definitely tore at my heartstrings. Part of the reason was definitely because Alec was clearly affected by Jace’s death. One of the biggest mishaps in the books was that Alec didn’t seem to be affected by Jace’s death and I’m really glad they fixed it. Jace is resurrected and everything seemed to be fine. So where exactly is the cliffhanger? The ending showed the whole thing with Lilith who is the big bad in Season 3 and Simon who promised the Seelie Queen something, though it’s not clear what he promised. There really wasn’t a huge cliffhanger, just some a lot of things left open ended. Malec has a reconciliation, Luke was adorably drunk (Why did Ollie have to ruin it?), Simon and Maia were really cute. It was a pretty satisfying end, overall.

Storyline: The main story line in 2B was mostly on Jonathan who was introduced as Sebastian Verlac, former yin-fen addict and from the London Institute. At first, I really liked the direction the Sebastian was going. Will Tudor is an incredible actor and he did an amazing job as Sebby/Jonathan. It was when he was introduced as Demon Toast Man or burnt lasagna (as someone eloquently put on twitter) that I decided I liked Sebastian’s story line in the books better. The show already has terrible CGI to begin with and then they introduce this hideous thing. Valentine wasn’t able to control Jonathan’s psychotic urges, so he sent him to Edom (hell) and as a punishment they burned his skin off? I think I would’ve liked this idea more if Jonathan had a Zuko-like scar and still looked remotely human. It’s not that I want a pretty looking villain, it’s just that making him hideous was so conventional. What makes Sebastian so manipulative is his charming, British golden boy attitude. Also, what was the point of Aldertree? I thought it would be a better twist if he was actually Sebastian/Jonathan in disguise. There would have been more of a connection there. Also, Sebby seen as a puppy, loyal to his father was a little overdone, especially at the end. Valentine did die, so hopefully we will see more of a manipulative Sebastian in the next season. I really hope that they do the parabatai bond with Jace, since that was really interesting. At this point, I do actually want them to follow certain plot points from the books, since the plot only gets interesting from here in the books.

Izzy’s yin-fen addiction ends when Sebastian gives her a drop of some concoction that happens to heal her. This was absolutely stupid and quite frankly OOC for Izzy. Obviously, Izzy wasn’t in the right mindset, but you would think she’s learned her lesson on accepting mysterious concoctions from strangers (Ahem, Aldertree?) The one thing I did like was that she went to mundane therapy. This really shows the stigma and complete ignorance of the Clave and their views on mental health and addiction. These ideas are seen as mundane and are taboo topics in the Shadow World (as is sexuality and gender identity). The fact that mundane therapy helped Izzy can potentially lead to the integration of therapy in the Shadow World. Or at least I hope that’s what they’re leading towards. I’ve mentioned this previously but I DO NOT LIKE RIZZY. Their entire relationship was based off drug addiction and was extremely toxic and unhealthy. At this point, there was some foreshadow and I really don’t want them to follow through with it. Listen, I am all for an asexual relationship, but I don’t think this the right way to do it.

Simon is now a Daylighter and that’s explored a little bit, though not too much. He’s now seen as an anomaly in the Downworld and of course the Seelie Queen took an interest. There was a little bit with Simon’s family and Jewish heritage, though nothing else. I really want more of Simon and see him as more than a love interest. In the beginning of 2B especially, he was just a love interest to Clary which was unfortunate. Speaking of Climon, it went on for too long and got to the point of annoying. They were cute in the beginning, but no one even liked the ship, so why go along with it? Though the break up scenes were definitely my favorite Climon scenes (I know, I’m cruel). The acting was especially great in those scenes. Clary and Simon’s friendship is still really great and I’m so happy they’re back as best friends. Simon and Maia are super cute (they deserve the Cutest Downworlders award), but I like them more as friends. Speaking of Maia, loved my queen. I’m so happy that another WOC became a series regular. The scene where she opened up about Jordan was one of my favorite scenes and again the acting was amazing.

Sadly, Luke didn’t get nearly as much screen-time as he deserved. Ollie was introduced as his new, bubbly partner. When I read, Luke’s “new female partner,” I groaned. Luke is still mourning Jocelyn’s death, why must you give him a love interest? Turns out, Ollie has a girlfriend and they’re really cute. I’m not sure where they’re going with Ollie and Sam’s story but I’m here for it. Also, love the Garrobane BROTP. I need more of Luke and Magnus working together and just being Downworlder friends.

I don’t have much to say about Clary and Jace. I’m sorry, but they are not my favorite characters. A few book fans were talking about how Jace is so much more emotional than he is in the books, specifically with the scene where Jace was crying and Alec comforted him. Personally, I like that Jace is far more mature and open to emotions. I mean the dude is around the age of 21, you can’t expect him to be an angsty asshole like he was in the books. Though I do agree he could be less bland and have more of his sarcasm. This is more on the writers than Dom since I think he could do a really great job on the snark. I just wish the writers would make him more three dimensional. My favorite line from him was definitely, “Did he make you spaghetti too?” ICONIC. Also, Jace was killed with a pocketknife? Really? They could have at least used a seraph blade. -_- There was more Clace this season and I was just meh with it. But the courtyard scene was so cringe worthy and cheesy especially with the background music. How convenient was it for Clary to want Jace to get shirtless to put a rune. And of course rom-com worthy staring is included. I was actually dying with laughter at that scene because it was so ridiculous. They could have made the scene better by having Jace and Clary working together rather than making it romantic. I think we can all agree than Malec is so much more authentic than Clace.

In the first season, I really hated that Magnus was only portrayed as a love interest and there were only hints to his past. There was more of a focus on Magnus Bane as the High Warlock of Brooklyn. In 2A there were hints with him helping new Downworlders, his suicide attempt and past with Camille. Here there was more of a focus on his past trauma and PTSD and his worse memory being killing his step-father. In the books (as far as I can remember), there weren’t many moments with Magnus being truly vulnerable. Seeing him breaking down and really losing it made him more human and authentic. Harry’s acting was incredible and he’s probably one of the best actors out of the entire cast. Alec became Head of the Institute which was well deserved. I think out of all the characters, Alec had the most character development. We see this emotionally stunted, repressed and miserable human grow into his own. He’s confident in his position, he’s become more open minded and isn’t held down by the archaic traditions of theClave. Alec is the only select few of the Shadowhunters willing to make a change. He still has so much to learn (like having Downworld leaders speak for themselves rather than try and protect or speak for them), but having him as leader did give Downworld leaders hope. Alec definitely had one of the best character arcs this season .

MALEC: I think we can all admit that the Malec storyline was the best story arc this entire season. 2A was all about developing their relationship, but now that it’s solidified, their are more complications coming its way especially Alec being Head of the Institute. There was a lot of political tension and the two try to balance out their relationship which is obviously becomes difficult when Alec doesn’t tell Magnus about the Soul Sword which leads to their break up.

It is true that Magnus has been neglecting his job as leader of the warlocks in New York. Magnus kind of lets warlocks do their own thing, he’s not exactly a strict leader. But obviously after the Soul Sowrd being missing, he needs to band together the warlocks and teams up with Seelie Queen in order to keep his people safe. A lot of people didn’t like how Magnus was being mean to Alec or that he was being too dramatic about the missing Soul Sword. But you have to remember that this man has been a minority his entire life. When you’re faced with the genocide of your people and your partner what would you choose? Personally, this plot line is so much better than the break up in the books. It’s far more realistic and isn’t over petty drama. Obviously the two reconcile at the end of the season. A lot of people were skeptical things weren’t going to end well, but that would be poor decision making from the showrunners. When I first watched the ending scene in EP 20, I really didn’t like it and thought it was too rushed. I still think there should have been more to it. And how exactly did Magnus come to the decision that he could have both?  They could have moved the Ollie story line to Season 3 instead of leaving it hanging. But I do understand that it doesn’t mean things are perfect for Magnus and Alec and they still have a lot more to work through.

I’m sure if you watch the show, you would know that many fans had complaints about the cutoff Malec sex scene in S2EP07. There was a huge controversy over censorship in showing a gay couple getting equal representation and the lack of consent in the scene. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t want a sex scene it’s not something I look forward to seeing in a ship I like. But I do understand why people wanted equal rep. because the straight couples were able to have those scenes, so why couldn’t Malec get equal treatment? One of the biggest surprises of the season was that they actually listened and followed through. I think it’s important to note that the writers of shows rarely ever listen to their fans. I know one of the showrunners said they planned on adding flashbacks from the start, but let’s be real, those scenes were totally based on the rightful backlash received. I’m glad the scenes didn’t sexualize Magnus and Alec’s relationship, especially with the cat eyes scene. It’s rare to find an LGBTQ+ relationship that is healthy and not feshtisized and gets enough screentime. Malec had the most screentime than any other couple on the show, well deserved screentime at that. Out of everything, I was mostly satisfied with Malec this season.

There was a lot of speculation on Max and his coming death. A lot of people wanted him to live, while others wanted them to follow the books. I actually wanted Max to die as well. Now before you call me a heartless monster, hear me out. It’s not like I want an innocent twelve year old child to die. It’s that Max’s death was vital to the storyline. Not just because it provided development for all of the Lightwoods, but because it raised the stakes. The Shadowhunters and Downworlders are at the brink of war and when an innocent child dies, that’s when you know that this is truly war. It makes things far more realistic and brutal and shows the writers and showrunners aren’t afraid to kill off their characters. Obviously Max didn’t die which was a little bit of a disappointment (again, not because he’s a child). I think that they do have more opportunities in the future to add it in, though I don’t think they will.

I will say that fans of the show don’t seem to have as much of an attachment to Max as people did in the books. I think people tend to love Madzie more because she represented a younger child, a warlock who was manipulated into using her powers to kill people. She was even more innocent and adorable, I think what made her special was that she didn’t speak much, she was shy and expressed more with her actions than words. Max represents an innocent child who is privileged and is mostly seen causing trouble (very much like Jace). He’s been brought up in a conservative association and holds on to the those ideals (i.e. calling Magnus a demon). More people seem to connect Madzie more because of her struggle. If she ended up dying, the fandom would probably erupt into flames and people would come with pitchforks at the writers.

Overall, Season 2 was enjoyable and there seems to be a lot of potential for Season 3. The plot can be ridiculous and their is lack of consistency, but the show has more POC and LGBTQ+ that I’ve seen in any other YA adaptation so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I will be watching Season 3 so there will be reviews of each half of the season. 🙂

Predictions/Theories/What I Want to See for Season 3:

  • There will most likely be a bigger time skip (I’m hoping there will be one) like there was in City of Fallen Angels
  • The parabatai bond between Sebby and Jace might be a thing. Hopefully, Alec will be affected as well.
  • Jordan will hopefully be introduced not as a love interest but as a harmful person apart of Maia’s past
  • Things will start off as a happy even if Jace is still suffering (when will the dude get a break?)
  • Maia and Simon will break up over Simon lying/hiding about his partnership with Seelie Queen
  • Sebastian will have a “relationship” with the Seelie Queen (though I really hope he doesn’t).
  • Magnus’ lineage with being Asmodeus’ son and Edom plotline will be brought up
  • The immortality issue might be brought up with Malec, but instead of Alec trying to find a way to make himself immortal/ trying to make Magnus mortal, Magnus might be trying to find a way to make himself mortal.
  • What I want to see: I really want a conversation on Alec’s sexuality. I want him to admit to Jace that he was in love with him before. I want Jace to console and accept him like he did in the books. I want him to come out to Magnus (where he actually calls himself gay) and for him to have a conversation on him being an openly queer leader in the Shadow World. I want Magnus to be supportive and encouraging which would also be the perfect opportunity for him to say, “I think of myself as a freewheeling bisexual. “
  • Alec needs to say (doesn’t have to be S3), “Straight people. Why can’t they control themselves?”
  • More Magnus & Maia, Garrobane, Clizzy, Izzy & Alec training scene, Jalec scenes, Maia and Alec interactions, more Aline, Aline & Alec interaction, Aline & Helen, Alec & Catarina interaction, more Madzie and Madzie and Alec.
  • Lastly, what we’ve all been asking for, Magnus fighting without his magic. Harry himself has asked for this, so hopefully it happens. Please and thank you. 😉
T.V. Shows

Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 3|Review

DISCLAIMER: SPOILERS FOR VOLTRON SEASON 3, PROCEED WITH CAUTION. 

Also, I’m sorry this review is super long, I can’t help me nerding out over T.V. shows.

So a few days ago, Voltron Season 3 aired on Netflix and I’ve of course already finished it. My sister and I have no self control and since the seasons are always super short and show is incredibly addicting, we finished in 2 days. Though considering some people finished the entire season in a night, this is somewhat better. Overall, Season 3 was significantly better than Season 2 which had left me pretty underwhelmed. Even though Shiro was gone for most of it (I know, it killed me too), there was so much more character development, specifically with Keith and Lance, a new villain was introduced who is far better than Zarkon, and there were tons of Avatar references so it was an all around good season. It didn’t end on a huge cliffhanger like the past two seasons but still has me really excited for Season 4.

Storyline: Obviously, after the fight with Zarkon, who is now on his death bed, things still look bleak when Shiro is now missing. Season 3 picks up some after Shiro is nowhere to be found and it seems like the other Paladins have moved on a little and they’re still liberating other planets. Keith is clearly still struggling with the loss of Shiro and since the threat of Lotor has risen, it’s time to find another Black Paladin and the new leader of Voltron.

I think we all knew that Keith would be chosen as leader which I’m not really on board with. Initially, I wanted Alurra to be leader and in control of the Black Paladin, I mean how cool would it be to have a bad-ass woman of color in command of Voltron? Then I realized how similar Alurra and Shiro are when it comes to leadership. The team would have succeeded with Alurra in charge and it really doesn’t leave much room for development as a team. However, I still didn’t want Keith to be leader, it’s an overused trope to have the brooding, angsty dude to be left in charge. I still love Keith but I really didn’t want to see him as leader. Personally, I would have liked to see Lance become leader. You can clearly tell the poor guy wanted to be leader and I wished it had actually happened. The goofball of the team never seems to get a chance to become leader and it would be breaking that trope by having Lance become leader. Lance is much more strategic and logical (much like Sokka from ATLA), it would be great character development to see him shed that egotistical side to him and really grow into his own. Either way, it doesn’t bother me that much that Keith is leader, but there was definitely a missed opportunity there.

Lotor is introduced along with his elite squad of bad-ass ladies. I’m sure everyone got some ATLA vibes with how reminiscent his team was to Azula’s elite squad. Hopefully, we get to see more of the space ladies because not only are bad-ass, they seem to be really interesting. I was glad to see Lotor actually respect them, unlike Azula who basically used Mai and Ty Lee. Lotor was definitely a mixture of Zuko and Azula but I also got some serious Kuvira: The Great Uniter vibes. The line, “Anyone who stands in our way will be crushed.” That line was taken directly form the Legend of Korra! His plans and mindset is clearly different from Zarkon, but I assume he’s trying to create another Voltron rather than go after the old one like Zarkon. He’s far more patient and calculated, knowing when he’s lost and retreats to create a better plan. He reminds me a of Chase Young from Xialoin Showdown (clearly there’s a lot of references to early 2000s cartoons). I’m also curious about whether or not he’s actually Zarkon and Haggar’s son or not. He’s clearly half Altean and half Galra but when was he actually born? In the episode about the past Voltron team (did this remind anyone of C.HY.K.N. from the show W.I.T.C.H.?), there wasn’t any sign of Honerva being pregnant with Lotor. Speaking of, it was interesting to see how both husband and wife became power hungry together rather than one of them becoming evil. The need for Quintessence was the gateway to the two becoming evil. This remind anyone of Nerissa from W.I.T.C.H.? 

Not my GIF obviously, but I couldn’t help but add this it’s too funny.

Of course the biggest conspiracy theory from Season 3 is that Shiro is a clone named Kuron. I’m not entirely sure on how I feel about this. There’s some proof, Shiro’s return felt too convenient and there’s definitely more at play than what they’re showing. Also, after Shiro escaped, there was mention of Operation Kuron which is where the clone theories originally came from. I’m not 100% sure I agree with this theory because besides the convenient return, Shiro seemed like himself. Someone made a tumblr post saying that Shiro doesn’t know where he belongs in the team since the Black Lion accepted Keith as leader. But since the Black Lion didn’t accept Shiro does that mean that he’s a clone? I’m not sure at this point, so I’m 50/50 on this theory. Then someone mentioned that because the Galra experimented on him, he was a clone from the very beginning which how dare you? But seriously, that would be heartbreaking. I’m kind of hoping Shiro’s not a clone because let’s be real, this poor man has been through too much. Shiro deserves a break, better yet a vacation.

Characters: Keith and Lance definitely had the most development out of all the characters. Last season, Keith discovered his Galra heritage which wasn’t actually brought up at all this season and I would’ve liked to see mentioned at least once. But I do feel like there’s a bit too much of a focus on Keith, why does he seem to be the special snowflake? I would love to know more about Hunk and focus more on Pidge (though I think we might be getting that in S4). One thing I can appreciate is that there was more to Hunk than his love for food and there was more to Lance than just being a flirtatious goofball. I was so happy to see him not flirting with Alurra anymore. It was getting to a point where it was annoying, so it was nice to see them get along and have a sibling like relationship like Katara & Sokka. One of my favorite lines:

Pidge: Maybe somone should suggest to Alurra that flying the lion is different than flying the castle.

Lance: Hey I already told her yelling at her lion wouldn’t work. Didn’t go over well, she yelled at me too!

SIBLINGS. This is a total Katara & Sokka interaction.

Even if Alurra didn’t get to be Black Paladin, it was still awesome to see her be a leg, AKA the Blue Paladin(the pink suits her). You could clearly tell that it fits her so well and it was nice to see her kicking ass rather than staying behind in the castle and commanding (which was still great too). Also, I realized that her grief over the losing Alteans is very similar to Aang’s grief over losing the Air Nomads. I assume they might have drawn inspiration from Avatar.

A lot of people were freaking out about klance this season and how the scene in the bedroom that everyone was screaming about was romantic. I don’t really agree with it. I think all of the klance this season was all platonic and really them just growing as friends. In the first two seasons, their was rivalry between Lance & Keith and now we got to see get along and Lance acting as a right hand man (anyone see this as Hamilton reference?). I was really happy to see Lance mature and begin to accept that Keith was the leader at this point. More of insecurity of his placement on the team was shown. He went to Keith rather than Shiro (who’s far better at reassurance) which goes to show the amount of trust he has in Keith. Let’s be real, Keith didn’t offer great advice, but that’s because the dude doesn’t really know how to comfort people. Hopefully, this comes up again because it seems that people are brushing aside Lance’s insecurity as a member of the team. Either way, I saw their interactions as platonic and growth in their friendship. The two definitely have a connection, the way Lance is Keith’s impulse control was interesting. Though to be completely honest, I don’t think klance is going to be canon, if it is I’ll be happy of course, but at this point I think the writers are headed towards a strong friendship which I’m pretty okay with.

My sister and I discussed the pacing earlier and I think the one thing that felt off about Season 3 was the pacing of the plot. I get that they more trying to focus more on the character development, but it felt there wasn’t much progression in the plot. It felt like Lotor was just going after them each time and them trying to figure out how to defeat him. I think this definitely has to do with how short each of the seasons are. It feels like the Legend of Korra all over again where the pacing was way too fast and they’re trying to cram everything into a small amount of episodes. I really wish they had more time to explore and balance out the plot and character’s journeys. Hopefully, there will be more of that in the future.

Overall, I thought Season 3 of Voltron was a success, I had pretty minimal complaints and it was a lot of fun. They’ve already released a teaser for Season 4 and we get to see Matt and Pidge fighting together which is everything I wanted and more! Sibling dynamics are my favorite kind in books and t.v. shows and I can’t wait to see the two reunite. We’ve all been waiting for Matt so I’m hoping his character won’t disappoint (I’m getting serious Donnie vibes (from TMNT) when seeing him fight with a staff).

-Saowbia 🙂

 

Monthly Wrap Ups

June & July Wrap Up 2017

Recently, reading hasn’t exactly been working out for me. I haven’t been reading as much as I used to which is definitely very frustrating. But I think I’m getting back into it since it is summer. These past few months haven’t been great months for reading, but hopefully I’ll be reading a lot more in this last month of summer. This me being unrealistically optimistic so we’ll see if it will actually work out. 🙂

*Click on pictures of books for Goodreads links. 

1. Image result for percy jackson series

Audiobooked. 

2. Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

3. Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

4. IMG_4337.JPG

5. Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Rankings (Least Favorite to Most Favorite):

Percy Jackson & the Olympians (Books #1-5) By Rick Riordan (Not to say I didn’t love listening to the series because it was a wonderful experience in the midst of finals).

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) By Victoria Schwab

The Upside of Unrequited By Becky Albertalli

Hamilton: The Revolution By Lin Manuel Miranda

Purple Hibiscus By Chimamande Ngozi Adichie

Reviews:

The Upside of Unrequited By Becky Albertalli

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) By Victoria Schwab

 

 

Book Reviews

Review: Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) By Victoria Schwab

32075662

Published: June 13th 2017 by Greenwillow Books

Series: Monsters of Verity #1

Source: Local Library

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Dystopia

Synopsis: THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.

KATE HARKER isn’t afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she’s good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

THE WAR HAS BEGUN.

THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.

Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims’ inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

Add to Goodreads.

Read review for This Savage Song here. 

Spoiler Free Review:

Our Dark Duet took a turn from the first book as the story became even more darker. Schwab dove into the morale of the characters and yet again focused on the fine line between good and evil. This wasn’t my favorite Victoria Schwab book, but it was definitely one of her best written novels yet. If you look back on all of Schwab’s previous works, you can see a massive improvement in her writing. Our Dark Duet really embodied the tone of the story through the addition of poems. The poems were weaved into the story and surprisingly, they weren’t cryptic. As much as I love poetry, when they’re added into a book written in prose, it’s usually obscure. Not only did the poems make sense, but it added to the story.

I didn’t actually remember much from This Savage Song since I read it exactly a year ago. I actually had to read a recap which goes to show how little I remembered. As for the story line, it revolves around a new monster that is neither a Malchai, Corsai or Sunai. It was especially interesting because the monster didn’t take a specific form. I’ll leave it at that and have you figure it out for yourself. 😉

Schwab definitely delves deeper into the psyche of each of the characters. What makes this story so intriguing that it appears that the monsters are the villains. In reality, the monsters are a reflection of human actions, a concept I rarely ever see in YA. August and Kate are both morally grey characters and I really don’t find any of them to be lovable. In dystopia/paranormal, there’s always the  comical relief or a romantic subplot -_-, there to keep the story more engaging and make light of a conflict. What liked about Our Dark Duet was that it was a realistic portrayal, things are bleak until the very end. Did August and Kate feel very bland to me? Absolutely. But when you’re in the midst of a broken city and monsters parading around killing everyone, there isn’t much room for light and funny moments.

There is a new character introduced, Soro who is a Sunai and gender-less, they go by they/them pronouns. They were a really interesting character and I wished there was more about them. Soro was actually pretty similar to Leo, their views on sinners and thier belief  in how all of them deserved to die. The only difference to Soro was that their was more of a open mindedness to their character that wasn’t present in Leo. I would love to read a spinoff or short story from Soro’s perspective, since they were such an intriguing Sunai.

The pacing definitely varied and I did find myself bored with a lot of what was happening. The book was a little too long and a lot of parts dragged which is why it took me so long to finish. Additionally, the nature of Kate and August’s relationship was strange, to say the least. It didn’t exactly stay a solid friendship is all I’ll say. Highlight for spoiler: The scene where they kissed was really weird. Did they have any romantic feelings towards each other or was it just an intense feeling of friendship? I really don’t know but it wasn’t really addressed and I wanted some closure. I would have preferred for them to stay friends. Obviously, Kate died which I actually thought was very fitting. Reminded me of the ending of Allegiant, but Schwab executed it far better than V. Roth. 

Overall, Our Dark Duet had a very fitting conclusion to the series. Out of all of the dystopian I’ve read, the Monsters of Verity duology definitely stands out from the rest. Victoria Schwab is an exceptional and progressive author so if you haven’t read her books yet, I would highly recommend you do. 🙂

Rating: 3.75/5

Book Reviews

Review: The Upside of Unrequited By Becky Albertalli

30653853

Published: April 11th 2017 by Balzer + Bray

Source: Local Library

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Illness, Romance

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Add to Goodreads.

Spoiler Free Review:

I’ve read Becky Albertalli’s debut, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda the year it was released and I remember finding it utterly adorable when I first read it. I’m really excited for the movie and I’m hoping they do it justice (since Keiynan Lonsdale will play a certain favorite character 😉 ). The Upside of Unrequited is a loose companion and follows Abby’s (one of Simon’s friendsbest friend Molly who has suffered from unrequited love far too many times. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this story, it’s equally as adorable and fluffy as Simon. 

With contemporary books, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact plot. It isn’t like a thriller novel where there’s a conflict that needs to be solved. There were several conflicts within the whole self discovery concept which seems to be present in every contemporary story. Molly tries to sort out her unrequited love life while dealing with trying to keep a close relationship with her sister and dealing with her conflicting feelings. But it’s more than just a love story, in fact I wouldn’t even consider it a love story. Family is a huge part of the book and the parents are actually very much present in the story for once.

The representation in this book is golden. Molly may be white but there is still positive own voices fat representation and Molly also has anxiety. She has two moms, one of whom is a person of color along with her baby brother. Molly and her twin sister are also sperm donor babies which is something I’ve never read about. Molly’s twin Cassie is lesbian and her girlfriend, Mina is Korean and pansexual. A small thing I can appreciate is that Mina’s parents are second generation Korean American. Her parents were raised in America. I always find with books on Asian parents, they always end up being immigrants so it was nice to see a change. Also, Molly’s crushes are not constricted to only straight white guys. Some of which included a transman and Lin Manuel Miranda (which I totally get ;))

Molly as a character was incredibly sweet, shy and awkward. But definitely someone I would be friends with. As far as unrequited love, it’s not something I can relate to since I’m never actively seeking a relationship. The anxiety was definitely relatable though and I was glad to see that even if it was in the background, it still played a role in Molly’s character. At first, Molly’s issue with unrequited love seemed really petty and stupid. She made some really idiotic decisions that had me face palming. Some people might say that she was being a teenager, but I can tell you, as a teenager, a lot of her decisions were incredibly stupid. I guess I should cut her some slack since clearly not all teenagers are the same. I really enjoyed the other characters as well, Cassie is a total bad-ass and Mina is adorable. Also, Reid totally reminded me of Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds and no one can tell me otherwise. Simon and Abby from Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda also had a cameo which was hilarious.

Overall, The Upside of Unrequited was equally adorable and addicting. Becky Albertalli really represents what I’d like to see more of in YA contemporary. This book is proof that you can be inclusive in representation and still follow a white protagonist. Becky Albertalli was able to include POC and LGBTQ+ characters and it all flowed so well together. It was never a big ordeal and was normalized. To the authors who would like to include diversity in their novels, this is how it should be done. You can be a white and a privileged author and include diversity without harmful stereotypes and discrimination. Thank you to Becky Albertalli for an incredibly sweet and inclusive novel.

Rating: 4/5

 

Tags/Other

The Liebster Awards (I’ve been nominated!)

I’m really excited and surprised to announce that I’ve been nominated for The Liebster Awards! I was really surprised to see that that Nina from Just Add A Word nominated me! Thank you so much to Nina for nominating me, I really appreciate it. Be sure to check out her blog, it’s amazing. If you didn’t know, The Liebster Awards is essentially a way for bloggers to discover various other blogs and nominate blogs that aren’t as popular, typically ones that have under 200 readers.

The rules are simple:

1. Thank the person who nominated you.

2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.

3. Nominate 11 other blogs and give them 11 questions to answer on their post.

 

1. If you rated by a checklist, what would be the number one quality you look for in a book for it to be enjoyable?

In order for a book to be enjoyable for me, it really just depends on the genre and what the synopsis entails. Firstly, I would want the story to include what drew me to the book in the first place. Synopses can be misleading at times. Writing style normally doesn’t bother me, since every writer has their own unique and distinct writing style, but I normally would expect the writing to be consistent throughout the book. In addition, a substantial plot or story line is important as well. I really enjoy character driven stories as well but a main story line is the key component to a book. Complex characters (whether they are fictional or if it is non-fiction) that have substance and development. I like to read about three dimensional characters not one dimensional caricatures. I especially love to read about morally grey characters, people who aren’t necessarily “good” or “bad.” This checklist ended up being a lot longer and more complicated than I expected. Essentially, I look for a story with substance, consistency and complexity. That sounds like I’m talking about a recipe.

2. Do you believe in not judging a book by its cover? To what extent does first      impressions affect your reading choices?

I think at one point we’ve all judged books by their covers. Personally, I think it’s impossible to not judge a book by it’s cover. Our very impression of  a book is based on the cover, the cover is what draws us to the book in the first place. I’m going to be honest, if I see a person on the cover, I’m less likely to read it. For example, the conventionally attractive white model on a cover is so overdone and I’m more likely to ignore it if I come across it. There are some exceptions, if there is a POC on the cover (a rare occasion), I’m more interested. I’ve been trying to judge less on the cover and more on if I’m interested in the story line. It’s pretty difficult but I think we have to remember that a book cover doesn’t determine the story. The publishing company determines what book cover will help promote the book not the author. Sometimes it’s a success while other times it’s not. Bottom line, I think everyone needs to work on focusing more on the synopsis and not what’s on the book cover.

3. If you could have dinner with 3 authors (dead or alive), which ones would you pick?

The first one is pretty obvious, J.K. Rowling. There’s so many questions I would want to ask her, Harry Potter or otherwise. I would also love to meet Chimamande Ngozi Adichie, it would be great to have tea with her and talk about feminism and our experiences. She’s actually one of my biggest inspirations so it would be a dream to meet her and talk to her. Check out her essay, We Should All Be Feminists or really any of her TED talks. Lastly, I would love to meet Rick Riordan who genuinely seems like a nice and funny person. It would be interesting to see how much of his personality is shown in his books, like PJ’S sarcasm.

4. Which genre do you read most of? Least of?

A year or two ago, I would probably say fantasy because I used to read a lot of it. I’m not as interested in fantasy as I was before but I still love it but I actually find myself reading more contemporary and literary fiction. This actually used to be a genre I never read, but I’ve come to appreciate it more (especially after reading Homegoing By Yaa Gyasi). I generally don’t read a lot of non-fiction but recently I’ve been reading quite a few. I think people are hesitant to read non-fiction because they’ll expect it to be boring, but a lot of non-fiction is written in prose and reads like a story. I would recommend listening to the audio book for it if you enjoy listening to a book.

5. What are your top 5 bookish pet peeves?

1. Ridiculous descriptions of eyes- Authors like Cassandra Clare & Sarah J. Maas always have long, overdone descriptions of eyes. We get it, his eyes is a mesmerizing shade of golden and he looks unreal like an angel or Greek God. But  do they have to go on for a paragraph using various types of figurative language to describe someone’s eyes. WE GET IT.

2. Using sexuality as a plot twist- This is especially infuriating and extremely offensive. Sexuality shouldn’t be portrayed as a huge scandal as it is shown in some books, a person’s sexuality is not their personality. It’s obviously apart of them, but why does their entire character have to  revolve around their sexuality. It’s especially infuriating when it’s written by straight, cisgender authors who have never been in the person’s shoes and immediately write harmful stereotypes into their story. I’m a firm believer that if it isn’t own voices, the author has no right to write and make assumptions about a person’s sexuality without having the experience.

3. Territorial Male Characters- No one likes this trope. It’s disgusting, unhealthy and creates a power imbalance. It is the literal foundation to a unhealthy, abusive relationship. It’s sad to see so many books written where the male love interest is territorial when their female partner talks to another guy (Ahem, Sarah J. Maas).

4. Deaths of POC or LGBTQ+ Characters- This seems to always happen in any forms of entertainment whether its a movie, T.V. show or book. What is the point of adding “diversity” to a story if the character is going to be killed off? There are several instances when there’s a group of people, majority are white with 1 or 2 people of color and they end up being killed off leaving the white people as the survivors. Not to mention that a lot of these instances can portray the “white savior” trope which is another trope I hate. Don’t include people of color and LGBTQ+ just to have them killed off.

5. Tragic Backstory- I’m sorry but can their be one character who actually had a good or decent life? In order to be a hero or villain, there doesn’t have to be the typical backstory. Obviously with a villain, there is most likely a traumatic experience attached to it. But I’d like one story where there isn’t a tortured soul with a tragic backstory. Someone who had a decent life and isn’t brooding, angsty and miserable.

6. Print book, ebook, or audiobook? What are your thoughts on the other two?

All of them. I use all three formats pretty frequently, though I mostly use print and audiobook format. Ebooks can be difficult to read at times but I think it depends on the person. As for audiobooks, I love listening to them especially while I’m in a car or bus. Whenever I read a book in physical format in a moving vehicle, I always get nauseous so audiobooks are what I normally listen. Audiobooks being counted as actual reading has been a controversy for a while. I definitely consider to be considered reading since reading doesn’t  decoding and understanding words only using your two eyes. For more information I would recommend watching emmmabooks video on if audiobooks are considered actual reading. Link is here.

7. Do you use bookmarks? If so, do you make or buy them or simply use a tissue or receipt or your cat’s tail?

I wish I had cat so I could use their tail as a bookmark, but sadly I don’t have any pets yet. I definitely use bookmarks and I have far too many of them. Most of them I collected from my school library.

8. This might be a weird one, but: Do you judge books by their authors? For example, if an author is an evil villain that feasts on the unborn (or some other negative that’s a bit more grounded in reality), does that affect your enjoyment of their book? 

This is an interesting question and something I’ve been conflicted on. I definitely don’t want to judge a book by an author based off of the author’s personality, especially when I haven’t read their books previously. Recently, someone on Twitter pointed out some homophobic comments Brandon Sanderson made that were really offensive. I have read books by him before and I was planning on reading his popular Mistborn series. It left me really conflicted on whether or not I should read his books. The comment was made years ago and he claims to have changed his opinion but didn’t apologize for his comments. I know that I don’t want to support who makes offensive, homophobic comments but should I stop reading their books altogether? It is true that an author’s personality bleeds into their books. If I were to read their books, I know I would be very cautious and critical.

9. Does every book require a romantic subplot? Does it detract from the main story line, or is it crucial in terms of character development?

Absolutely NOT. In fact, I think a romantic subplot can deter from a character’s development.  In my experience, whether a book is adult or young adult, there is almost always a romantic subplot and its normally heterosexual. There are exceptions, of course. But it’s an overdone trope that really doesn’t add anything to a story. Why do a boy and girl immediately have to have feelings for each other. Why can’t they just be friends? A character can grow on their own without a love interest. A lot of the times, a love interest can do more harm than good.

10. How do you feel about rating a book before it’s published and without having an ARC? For example: if you love the author, do you automatically give all their upcoming releases 5 stars? If the author has done a controversial thing, do their works deserve automatic 1 stars?

I’ve seen people on Goodreads do this quite a few times and I don’t agree with it all. I wouldn’t rate a book I didn’t read at all. Whether I love the author or not. Its especially terrible when people rates books they haven’t read or before its release date one star. People on Goodreads may look at the overall rating and might not want to read it because of the low ratings. It’s cruel to the author especially and just plain wrong.

11. Which series do you which could’ve ended differently? (Without spoilers, if possible.)

This is pretty hard for me since I like the conclusion to most series, but I’m going to have to say The Hunger Games trilogy. Let’s just say that certain characters should have survived and a certain character should have died.

Nominations:

1. Kathleen from she turns pages – Kath’s instagram is amazing and so is her blog and book reviews.

2. Greg & Aisha from GAscribing – This is a blog that focuses more on writing but there are book reviews as well. I discovered this blog through Aisha’s instagram @thatothernigeriangirl (give her a follow). There are also other contributors to this blog as well and it’s nice to see a mix of both reading and writing which is something I’ve been trying to incorporate into my own blog.

3. Olga from Reading Between Oceans – I love Olga’s username, I wish I could come up with something that creative. I’ve been friends with Olga on Goodreads for a while and I really enjoy Olga’s reviews on her blog.

4. Fleur from Fleur Henley – Fluer’s blog is so underrated so be sure to her a follow! She has some really interesting posts and discussions. Recently, she wrote a post on tips for reviews and they were really helpful

5. Srishti and Yomna from Srishti and Yomna – This is a cute blog especially if you enjoy YA books.

6. Katherine from FabledHaven– Katherine is another great blogger that wants to see mroe POC and LGBTQ+ representation just as much as I do.

7. Kristin from Always With a Book – Kristin’s blog is very interactive, she’s part of book clubs, she reviews from a number of genres posts frequently.

8. Mrs. Bro from The Brief Leaf– Mrs. Bro is actually a middle school teacher that does book reviews. Her reviews are short and concise which is different than msot book bloggers, she’s able to sum her thoughts and opinions into a paragraph or so which is something that’s preety dififcult for me. Obviously.

9. Linda from Linda’s Wonderland– Linda’s blog is so beautiful (I love the logo). She also includes some unique posts as well.

10. Krista from Cubicle Blindness Reviews – Krista has some great reviews and reviews book from self published authors which is always a great thing to do since most are so underrated.

11. Esther from Bite Into Books– Esther’s reviews are well written and she also reviews lesser known books and short stories.

My Questions:

1. What are your views on diversity in literature? Do you think it should be implemented in every story? 

2. Who are some of your favorite POC and/or LGBTQ+ characters?

3. What are some of your favorite non-fiction books or memoirs?

4. Do you feel that you’re represented in media? Is there a particular character you identify with? What would you like to see more of, in terms of representation?

5. What are your views on mental health representation in literature? Name a few books that you think portray mental health in a respectful light.

6. What are some of your favorite Own Voices books?

7. What are your views on reading problematic books? Would you read a book that’s been reviewed as problematic and offensive? For example, Carve the Mark has been accused of being racist and abliest. Imagine you were genuinely interested in the book but are hesitant to read it because of the controversy. Would you still read it?

8. Besides diversity, what other things would you want literature and stories to improve on?

9. Do you believe that authors have the right to write books about another person’s experiences? For example, do you think a straight author has the right to write about a gay character’s experince or a transgender character’s experience?

10. Do you read only for entertainment or do you read to educate yourself as well? What are some lessons or morals you’ve learned from reading? 

11. List some of your favorite books so far this year and why you loved them so much.