Friday, 9 February 2018

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Love, Hate & Other FiltersFirst love, first heartbreak, first brush with prejudice . . .
A romantic, searing and relevant debut about Islamophobia and how it affects the normal life of a teenage girl.

"I don't want something . . . expected. I want to go to film school and be the first Indian American to win an Oscar, and then I can meet the One and fall in big, heart-bursting love, and we'll travel the world, my camera ready to capture our adventures." My cheeks flush; I know I'm blushing, but I can't bring myself to shut up. "Oh, my God. I want my future life to be a cheesy romantic comedy."
He shakes his head. "No," he says. "You want it to be an epic."

Maya Aziz dreams of being a film maker in New York. Her family have other ideas. They want her to be a dutiful daughter who wears gold jewellery and high heels and trains to be a doctor. But jewellery and heels are so uncomfortable...

She's also caught between the guy she SHOULD like and the guy she DOES like. But she doesn't want to let Kareem down and things with Phil would never work out anyway. Would they?

Then a suicide bomber who shares her last name strikes in a city hundreds of miles away and everything changes . . .
  


I have mixed feelings about this book. I really wanted to like it, just based on its completely original premise and diverse representation of Muslim teens living in this permanently fearful environment in their own homes. Yet, the whole premise the impact a suicide bomber has on her life wasn't as big a plot-point as I expected. It was done really well, I think, just in the way it explored how these big global political actions can affect individual families, but I kind of wanted more.


Maya was interesting - I adored her ambition to be a film maker, it's completely original and adorable, and her independent attitude was spot-on for most teenagers. But she was super rude to her parents. I get that they came from different places, not only the generational gap but also the literal place of America versus India in terms of teenage rebellion, independence and dating expectations, but Maya was pretty flippant with them, didn't even really attempt to understand where they were coming from or try to converse and compromise. She mostly came across as very superficial, in her taste in boys and her apparent disregard for her religion and disrespect for her parents. I wanted to like her, and I definitely felt for her when the bullying got bad, but she was mostly kinda annoying.


There wasn't as much on the Muslim part of her life as I'd expected - there was one joke about eating pork, and maybe a couple of mentions of praying with her parents but apart from that - diddly squat! There was a lot on the Indian part of her upbringing, which I adored learning about.


I also didn't entirely believe in the romance - Maya was obviously infatuated but based on nothing other than his pretty face and we learn very little about Phil, well some stuff about his family and it was all so typically Mid-west/small town that... meh. Phil also made a pretty big whoopsie just after the bomber attack, not really sure whether he was supposed to support or ignore Maya - I mean, really?


Wow, turns out I had way more to say than I thought! All in all, definitely a book to try for yourself - there was parts I loved and felt so happy they were included, especially in a YA novel, but there were parts I didn't understand the point of, or even wanted more from. An author to watch and definitely a topic more books could do with tackling.


Published 16th January 2018 by Hot Key Books. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Books I've Had on my TBR for the Longest Time

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish, and now lives at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This is a fairly easy topic for me - I weed my TBR every now and then, and I've worked really hard to get my TBR down to 18 physical books and 11 ebooks. So here are just my top five books that have been on my TBR for a ridiculous time!

1 - The Summer Book by Tove Jansson - added December 2016
This was a Christmas present, something that my grandparents thought I'd enjoy but honestly, I'm probably not gonna read it.

2 - Graceling by Kristin Cashore - added July 2016
Bough in the library sale, basically I haven't had a chance to pick this up - either because I've favoured other books ahead of this or because I went off fantasy for a while.

3 - A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab - added March 2016
Bought in kindle sale, really should read it but am honestly slightly daunted because its VE Schwab! What if I don't like it?

4 - The Novice by Taran Matharu - added March 2016
Again, haven't picked it up because I kind of went off reading fantasy so still it sits.

5 - The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman - added July 2015
Um... I don't think I have a reason for leaving this for so long! Awkward. I remember I bought it in the kindle sale because a colleague said it was good. But then I've seen mixed reviews and just haven't braved it.

What are some of yours? Are any of your TBR pile gathering dust or do you do better than that? Let me know!

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Books I Can't Believe I Read!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and now lives at That Artsy Reader Girl.


I've left off university course books because obviously they are not books I would normally pick up but I read them for a reason.

1 - One Night Stand by JS Cooper - books like this, I'm almost ashamed to admit to reading; not because they are about sex, which no-one should be ashamed to read about, but because they are basically just about sex! Barely a plot, badly edited, just something fun and doesn't require much thinking.


2 - What A Girl Wants by Lindsey Kelk - not that this was particularly bad, it wasn't. I just carried on with it even after nothing made sense and I realised it was book two in a series.
We Should All Be Feminists


3 - We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I think with this one, it's more a case of 'I can't believe it took me so long to read'. I really got into feminism and what it meant, both generally and personally, at university and I only read this last year.


4 - Legacy of Lies by Jillian David - I said it in my review: I thought it was going to be a great Western slash supernatural story and it wasn't! It was so disappointing, really, in terms of magical elements and the romance was rushed. I only finished it because it was a review book.


5 - Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier - when I read it, I was barely into classics and I was surprised at how much I adored it!


Paper Butterflies
6 - Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield - horrible. So good, but just a awful story, made me sick at times but so damn good!


7 - Undone by Cat Clarke - as much as I love her writing and her stories, they are all so awful and sad that I do have to force myself to read them! Chilling and clever, that's how I'd describe Clarke's books, they definitely stay with you.

It's the End of the World As We Know It8 - It's the End of the World As We Know It by Saci Lloyd - seriously strange, I struggled with this one and once again, only persevered because it was a review book.

9 - Anomaly by Krista McGee - I'm not sure why I expected a book picked up in a Christian gift shop wouldn't be about religion finding its place in a dystopian world but still... pretty weird, badly paced and just not for me.


10 - Darkness Falls by Jessica Sorenson - even though I read this nearly four years ago, I can distinctly remember wanting to DNF it on multiple occasions. I kinda wish I hadn't bothered, as now I can't even remember the basic premise!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Top Books I Know I Loved But Can't Remember Any More!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and now lives at That Artsy Reader Girl.

1 - Blood Red Road by Moira Young
2 - Undead by Kirsty McKay
3 - This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith
4 - Velveteen by Daniel Marks
5 - How To Love by Katie Cotugno
6 - Acid by Emma Pass
7 - Riot by Sarah Mussi
8 - Pawn by Aimee Carter
9 - Dangerous Boys by Abigal Haas
10 - The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch

Not only can I barely remember anything about these books - which is a shame, because I do remember loving them - for some I couldn't even remember the author! What I do know is, I definitely enjoyed them all, and count a few of them as favourites, and really I could do with re-reading them! 

To be fair, most of these I read years ago, so no wonder I can't remember much details!

What are some of yours? Do you almost instantly forget once you pick up the next book, or can you hold on to details for months? And how annoying is it when the former happens but you need to wait a year for the sequel? 

Friday, 12 January 2018

The Fandom by Anna Day

The FandomCosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands ...

A fast-paced, genre-flipping YA fantasy adventure from a brand new author, writing in homage to the best YA fiction.

It is every fangirl's dream to fall into their favourite book but Violet soon realises that the dangers are a lot closer when she's really there. When she and her friends crash through some sort of hole in space and time and land in The Gallows Dance, Violet has to fill the protagonist Rose's shoes and continue the story.


Honestly, I was sort of conflicted going in to this; it was news to me how the story came about, partnered with the Big Idea Competition but I didn't let that deter me. I figured it can't be that different from fanfiction! As a contemporary inside a dystopian, it was well aware of the stereotypes and the characters didn't want to fall into them, but they also made fun of the tropes and famous names - it was a little strange. None the less, pretty good world-building, as she had to establish both home and inside-the-book structure and all the characters were interesting to read about. Violet I could identify with straight away and her relationship with younger brother Nate was incredibly similar to me and my brother; I got a little annoyed with how many times she referred to Kate's "soft Liverpool accent" but Kate was awesome, like the resident sceptic. Alice was pretty awful and I struggled to understand why they were even friends but shared history is important, I guess.


I could also see how it was going to veer off the "canon" of the original story, the original being that Rose fell in love with Willow and her death sparked the revolution. But right away, Willow was two-dimensional and annoying, which was the point so it worked. And Ash was utterly adorable, maybe the typical puppy-dog, other side of the love triangle, but it was fascinating the way this crash gave him a better backstory.


It was a very twisty plot, as the "canon" is dragging them along but their very presence is ruining the original storyline. Some of the reveals and surprises were quite clever and I really enjoyed the twists and hiccups as the canon must be completed. However, I could see the hole right away - the hints were obvious but even then, I wasn't sure if it was all just a coma dream or not - kept me on my toes!


All in all, I really liked it: it wasn't really heavy or complicated to read, the world was typical dystopian but that was the point, and the characters made the story funny and very enjoyable. Maybe just don't expect too much but still a good story.


Published 4th January 2018 by Chicken House. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Ten Books I Meant to Read in 2017 But Promise to Read This Year!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

In no particular order, this is the list of shame - the list of books that I wanted so bad but haven't read yet.

1 - Now I Rise by Kiersten White
2 - Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
3 - Whisper to Me by Nick Lake
4 - Artemis by Andy Weir
5 - Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
6 - The House of Secrets by Sarra Manning
7 - The One We Fell in Love With by Paige Toon
8 - Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart
9 - The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
10 - History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

I mean, what can I say? My reading went all over the place in October when I went back to university (did I mention that? I think I mentioned that - hehe) so my TBR slowly grew without me having a chance to make a dent. This holiday has sort of helped, although so far I've only read a couple but am hoping to get further before my next reading list comes through. 

So this list I will try to get through in January, or at least some of it. Wish me luck - and let me know what books you neglected in 2017 but want to read this year!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Christmas TBR

As this year draws to a close and term is finishing - this week in fact - I'm planning what books I can read over the holiday that have nothing to do with university! Don't think I'm being a bad student, I've finished all my set texts for the term and don't get my new list until January - so my Christmas break with be filled with the books I've been ignoring for the last few months.

Physical:
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Artemis by Andy Weir
How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss
The Savages by Matt Whyman
Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel

Kindle:
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
The One We Fell in Love With by Paige Toon

Review books:
Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart
The Fandom by Anna Day

Now, I'm obviously not going to read all of them. I have two full weeks off from work - yay for term-time only contract! And three weeks off from university, although obviously I have essays to write, but I'm hoping to put a serious dent in my TBR before I have to ignore it again next term. 

Are there any books I've listed that you think I should put first? Or check out my TBR on Goodreads and let me know if I've missed anything incredible - which, let's be honest, I probably have but I can't read everything!