Review: “Rule of Wolves” (King of Scars #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Rating

Synopsis

The wolves are circling and a young king will face his greatest challenge in the explosive finale of the instant #1 New York Times-bestselling King of Scars Duology.

The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.

The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.

The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.

King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.

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The more I think about this book, the less I like it. The first third of the book was good, things were heating up, we got some nice Nicolai and Zoya moments. But as the plot progresses, it becomes more and more of a mess. There were a lot of situations added in merely for plot convenience, new POVs that we did not need and also a lot of unnecessary cameos (and I say this as someone whose favorite book is Six of Crows). And overall, I am most disappointed for and in behalf of Nina, she was not done justice in this book.

Okay, let me start with the positives before I start complaining.

The best parts of the book were hands down the interactions between Nicolai and Zoya. I love them both as individuals but also as a couple. I think they have really good chemistry together, love the banter (makes me miss Matthias and Nina). And you can just tell the amount of trust they have for each other’s abilities.

Zoya. Honestly just Zoya, two of my stars are solely for her. We find our more about her Suli heritage and what exactly happened with her parents. My favorite scene was the scene with her in the garden where we find out she planted flowers for every fallen Grisha, it made me tear up.

Other than those two, and a few scenes here and there, no other parts seemed that great. Although I thought the cameos were unnecessary to the plot of the book, I did enjoy seeing the crows again. I wish they were incorporated into the story better and not as a side plot that didn’t make sense.

Okay, now to talk about all the things I thought were off. There are going to be spoilers so don’t read on if you don’t want spoilers.

NINA ZENIK

The biggest complaint I have about Rule of Wolves is how Nina was handled. I understand Nina is not the same Nina we meet in Six of Crows and that she’s still grieving and is in the heart of what she considers enemy territory, but RoW Nina still felt so out of character to me. The ending especially with her agreeing to be with Hanne wearing Mila’s face for who knows how long didn’t sit right. I felt like Bardugo was trying to make the readers believe that it was a happy ending because Nina was “happy” but I don’t buy it. Nina being in a position to basically rule Fjerda side-by-side with Hanne seems less than ideal.

Speaking of Fjerda, I wish we got to see more of the good in Fjerda that didn’t just have to do with the people converting away from Djel and to the religion of the Saints. Where are the good Fjerdans who remain a devotee of Djel but figure out that they need to treat everyone with kindness and respect? I understand that a large part of us not seeing the more common Fjerdans have to do with the fact that Nina is in the Ice Court which is where the most extremist Fjerdans are so that’s all she’s exposed to, but I would have liked to see more diversity when it came to the Fjerdans we do get to see. Leigh almost villainizes most of Fjerda and puts Nina in a position to “save” them when she doesn’t really care for Fjerdan people.

There were also so many little side plots thrown in the book that didn’t make sense. Nina sneaks in and out of the Ice Court multiple times in this book when SoC established how hard it was to do just that. This especially didn’t make any sense since I would assume they umped the security even more after the crows sneaked in and out last year. And not only did she sneak into the court, she sneaked into Jarl Brum’s office??? TWICE?! AND to top that off, we hear that Magnus Opjer sneaks out of his prison by himself?? Make it make sense. The only explanation we got about that was, oh he’s Nicolai’s father, so he must be smart and sneaky.

Also to talk more about that ending, another reason I don’t think Nina would actually be okay with it is because how patriotic she is and how much she loves fighting for Ravka. Being in a ruling position in Fjerda, again, just doesn’t make sense for her. Being an ambassador between the two countries where she tries to make changes to Fjerda to become more accepting to Grisha? Something like that would make perfect sense. Living as a native Fjerdan and ruling alongside Hanne? No. There’s no way. Especially when she doesn’t know how long she would have to live as Mila.

And overall, though Leigh tried to tie Nina’s story with what was happening with Nicolai and them in Ravka, her side of things still felt too separate from the Ravkan gang, almost like we were reading two different books. I got so used to Leigh’s books being multiple POVs of people who are in the same place, Nina being so far and hers being the only POV in Fjerda felt off at times.

THE SHU HAN STORYLINE

This whole storyline where we spend so much time in Shu Han with Mayu’s POV was also not necessary. I think the book would have been stronger if we got rid of all of the side plot with the Shu and gave more time to Nicolai and Zoya. And if we really did need to go explore the Shu more, why couldn’t we have the POVs be from Tamar’s perspective instead of Mayu, a character that we don’t care too much about.

The whole side plot with Queen Makhi and Ehri felt rushed. I didn’t want to get into Shu Han politics in this book when we already focus so much on Ravkan and Fjerdan politics and the conflict between those two countries. I think we should have been introduced to the Shu Han characters in King of Scars so we could ease into it more.

That being said though, I did like the dynamic between Mayu and Princess Ehri and how Mayu was slowly starting to realize Ehri is much smarter than she gave her credit for.

the darkling’s return

What exactly was the point of this? What did he add to the story? Was he resurrected just so we see Alina and Mal again? There was no need. We have the whole side plot of the Starless Saint gathering followers for his little cult and it just felt so unnecessary to the bigger plot.

And he now decided to sacrifice himself and hold down the fold for the rest of eternity? How did we get here? I am confusion.

Crows cameos

Please note that the Six of Crows duology is my favorite fantasy series. I adore those books, I’ve read them multiple times, I love all the characters with all my heart. So when I say that we really did not need to see the crows in this, I say this with a heavy heart. Not to say that I didn’t want a crows cameo because I really did, I WANTED the crows to show up in this book, that was part of the reason I picked this series up in the first place. But I wanted them to show up in a way that made sense.

So Fjerda just bombed Ravka, we lost David, Ravka is in shambles and could be attacked any minute. And what does the king of Ravka and the general of their army decide to do? Go to Ketterdam to get some Titanium for bombs.

… okay fine, they really needed some titanium and Nicolai doesn’t trust anyone else to go get Titanium and he wants to be super discreet about it. And there’s also just absolutely no titanium in Ravka. Sigh.

Did I still immensely enjoy seeing Kaj, Jesper and Wylan though? Yes, yes I did. Wesper has my whole heart and Kaz is a big simp for Inej and I love them all.

David kostyck

Why? Just why?? Killing David off purely for shock value is awful, and not only that but a few hours after his wedding?? Genya has been through enough and then you take her person away. I hated it, I wanted her to be happy. David’s death was completely unnecessary and only put on there to add a shock value. Which, admittedly was effective because I definitely was shocked, but not at all in a good way.

So my final verdict is that this book would have been much stronger if the main focus was just on Nicolai and Zoya and we didn’t have so many side plots. I would even be okay with one or two of the side plots we got but not all of them.

I hope this isn’t the last time we see these characters because I don’t want to leave the Grishaverse in a disappointed note. The ending makes me feel like there will be a third Six of Crows book so that makes me hopeful (but also scared because this woman better not kill of one of the crows, I will never read again).

Review: “Chain of Iron” (The Last Hours #2) by Cassandra Clare

Rating

The Shadowhunters must catch a killer in Edwardian London in this dangerous and romantic sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Chain of Gold, from New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Cassandra Clare. Chain of Iron is a Shadowhunters novel.

Cordelia Carstairs seems to have everything she ever wanted. She’s engaged to marry James Herondale, the boy she has loved since childhood. She has a new life in London with her best friend Lucie Herondale and James’s charming companions, the Merry Thieves. She is about to be reunited with her beloved father. And she bears the sword Cortana, a legendary hero’s blade.

But the truth is far grimmer. James and Cordelia’s marriage is a lie, arranged to save Cordelia’s reputation. James is in love with the mysterious Grace Blackthorn whose brother, Jesse, died years ago in a terrible accident. Cortana burns Cordelia’s hand when she touches it, while her father has grown bitter and angry. And a serial murderer is targeting the Shadowhunters of London, killing under cover of darkness, then vanishing without a trace.

Together with the Merry Thieves, Cordelia, James, and Lucie must follow the trail of the knife-wielding killer through the city’s most dangerous streets. All the while, each is keeping a shocking secret: Lucie, that she plans to raise Jesse from the dead; Cordelia, that she has sworn a dangerous oath of loyalty to a mysterious power; and James, that he is being drawn further each night into the dark web of his grandfather, the arch-demon Belial. And that he himself may be the killer they seek.

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"That love is complicated," said Cordelia. "That it lies beside anger and hatred, because only those we truly love can truly disappoint us."

I hope that at this point, I have thoroughly established that I’m Shadowhunter trash. I also know that these books really don’t need reviews. Chain of Iron is the second book to The Last Hours trilogy and the 20th (I think?) overall novel set in the Shadowhunter world. So I’m sure mostly people who are already fans of this world are continuing to read this series. But I have to put my thoughts somewhere so here it goes.

I have said this before and I’ll say it again, I think Cassandra Clare is one of the very few authors who has expanded their fantasy world so remarkably. If you haven’t read any of the Shadowhunter books and want to start from the beginning, I will admit the first few books (in my opinion) are nowhere near as great as the later ones.

Plot wise, I thought the book was lacking but the characters made up for it for me. The Last Hours has my favorite Shadowhunter cast of characters to date, I absolutely adore them all. I would be content at just reading a 800 page novel of them hanging out together and playing cards.

I think Clare spoiled me with her last couple of books starting from Lady Midnight because each novel that came after was better than the last. Chain of Iron however, kind of missed that mark with me. I did still love the book, I raced through it because I had to know what happens, but I think I would’ve liked more. I also didn’t think the writing for this one was up to par with her last few books.

The reason the book got a star docked is because of the ending that seemed… nonsensical (which I will get into later).

SPOILERS AHEAD

My biggest complaint about this book is the ending. It just seemed like everything happened to add more drama and that most of it could have easily been solved with more open communication. Like literally these people are SO BAD at communicating.

Will coming to James and telling him he has to go get Lucie because she’d listen to him? Honestly if she were to listen to anyone, it would be Cordelia and not James so that scene didn’t make sense. JUST GO GET CORDELIA FROM THE CARRIAGE AND YOU CAN ALL GO GET HER!! Why are you just taking James??!!

Also so very tired of all the love triangles though I don’t think this will be one. I don’t think Cordelia feels anything but platonic love towards Matthew. And I’m sure this whole thing will be solved by the next book but I’m just annoyed it’s happening at all.

Alastair Carstairs

“You will make yourself unworthy by considering yourself unworthy. We become what we are afraid we will be.”

Oh Alastair, I felt so much more for his character in this book than I have in the last one. The return of Elias really made me realize how much of his childhood Alastair has had to sacrifice for his family’s sake. It doesn’t make what he did to the Merry Thieves any better but I do want them to forgive him eventually.

Anna Lightwood

“We are special, unusual, unique people. That means that we must be bold and proud, but also careful. Don’t think you have so much to prove that it makes you foolish.”

I adore Anna and I realize her turning Ariadne away was to protect herself but I need that ship to sail.

Ariadne Bridgestock

I wanted more of Ariadne, I want to know more about her background and where she came from and what her life was and is like. In this book, we mostly see Ariadne in relation to Anna and not much about her.

Christopher Lightwood

That little meet-cute between Kit and Grace was actually kind of adorable. And kudos to Christopher for building the very first Shadowhunter gun! (granted only one person can use it but still… maybe two? but I don’t think we ever find out if Lucie was able to fire the gun).

Cordelia Carstairs

Cordelia was formerly my least favorite of the main characters, not because I didn’t like her but because I just thought all the other characters were more interesting. I still feel the same way honestly but I did grow to like her more.

The whole storyline of her “meeting” Wayland the Smith and becoming a paladin was interesting. At the time, I thought it just happened too fast and almost thought it was a flaw in writing but that whole thing being Lilith’s ploy was a good twist. I think knowing Cordelia is now a paladin to the mother of demons is going to be really good for her character development.

Grace Blackthorn

“Once upon a time, she had been someone else, she remembers that much.”

Grace was the character we learn the most about in this one and I have to say, I went from despising her to kind of rooting for her. There’s still a long way to go but I’m looking forward to a Grace redemption arc in Chain of Thorns.

Grace and Lucie’s team up was also really nice to see, I think they’re on their way to becoming friends.

James Herondale

Now that we know more about Grace’s bracelet and how much of an effect it had on James, I like his character a lot more. His mind has basically been manipulated since he was fourteen, he had been brainwashed for almost four years. That’s terrible!

But you know what else is terrible? HIS COMMUNICATION SKILLS! WHYY ON EARTH was he so cryptic to Cordelia when she asked him if he felt for her what he felt for Grace? Like boy you KNOW what she’s asking you. Can you please be specific??!! I truly have never wanted to smack a character more. Wanted to rip all my hair out.

Jesse Blackthorn

 “Don’t have too much hope, Lucie. Sometimes hope is dangerous.”

Oh Jesse my favorite little ghost. I just… cannot even. The fact that it was Jesse’s body doing the murders was not something I was expecting and it completely took me by surprise despite all the hints.

Lucie Herondale

“One should not questions miracles too closely.”

Oh my precious darling Lucie, I adore her so much. All the Lucie and Jesse scenes were so cute.

So we find out that Lucie is the person who will eventually be responsible for raising Annabel and showing Malcolm how she died which would lead to all the events in The Dark Artifices. ooof.

Matthew Fairchild

“I know what it is to be in pain, and not be able to seek comfort from the one you love the most, nor to be able to share that pain with anyone you know.”

Matthew is probably my favorite character. Which is why his current tragic hero storyline is so frustrating!! I know why he doesn’t want to tell James and the others about what he did to Charlotte but this whole thing needs to be resolved soon so he can finally be on the path to forgive himself.

Thomas Lightwood

Oh sweet sweet Thomas, he’s a cinnamon roll and I just want happy things for him (the happy things being in the shape of one, Alastair Carstairs that is).

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Rating

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.

When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

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“People don’t find it very sympathetic or endearing, a woman who puts herself first.”

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is one of those books that I don’t feel adept to write a review for because it is so brilliant and nothing I say will fully capture how much I loved it. But I guess I’ll attempt to write a review anyway.

Hollywood superstar Evelyn Hugo, best known for the seven husbands she had in her lifetime, recants her life. She chooses a magazine reporter named Monique, much to Monique’s own surprise, to write her biography.

And thus Evelyn Hugo’s story begins.

While watching Evelyn’s movies prior to the interview, Monique at one point thinks that “Evelyn always leaves you hoping you’ll get just a little bit more.” Taylor Jenkins Reid does something similar with Evelyn for the readers as well, reveals just enough to keep you guessing, just enough so you can’t look away.

“I was gorgeous, even at fourteen. Oh, I know the whole world prefers a woman who doesn’t know her own power. But I’m sick of that.”

The best way I can describe Evelyn is by her presence – her character fills up the book. She makes selfish and questionable decisions, many to further her own agenda, and she also makes plenty of good ones. You know from the get-go that Evelyn isn’t a “good” person in a black and white sense, she is flawed and human and incredibly compelling. She needed to survive in a deeply racist, sexist and homophobic society so she made decisions that would allow her to do so. I was honestly in awe, I thought Evelyn was one of the strongest characters I’ve ever read.

(Going into slightly spoiler territory now so if you want to read the book knowing nothing about it, don’t keep reading, just know that I could not recommend this book highly enough).

Evelyn has had to overcome so much. As a woman in a very male dominated society, as a Cuban woman in a very white Hollywood, and as a bisexual woman in an extremely homophobic time period. So she makes choices that she sometimes regrets but those are choices she’s had to make to come as far as she did. Hiding her heritage to pass off as white, using her body to capitalize on the misogyny thrown at her and hiding her sexuality because the world isn’t ready for it. Despite the hurdles, she stands back up every time.

The first time Monique asks Evelyn the question, “who was Evelyn Hugo’s great love?” she doesn’t answer. And it keeps you wondering too until the answer hits you.

“They are just husbands. I am Evelyn Hugo. And anyway, I think once people know the truth, they will be much more interested in my wife.”

Going into the book, I didn’t know the main love story was sapphic. A sapphic love story set in 1950’s Hollywood among the two biggest actresses in the United States?? Absolutely beautiful. Evelyn and Celia have quickly become one of my favorite fictional couples of all time. Neither one of them are perfect and neither of them love each other selflessly but they braved the world to be together and that’s so insanely powerful.

There were also some lines in the book that kind of wrecked me a little.

“You imagine a world where the two of you can go out to dinner together on a Saturday night and no one thinks twice about it. It makes you want to cry, the simplicity of it, the smallness of it. You have worked so hard for a life so grand. And now all you want are the smallest freedoms. The daily peace of loving plainly.

I cried some really big tears reading this passage. The truth of it, the need to hide yourself from the world because it’s too much for some people, craving the small simplicities of being able to love someone freely. I found myself relating hard to this old woman with a seemingly glamorous past – a past that was actually riddled with heartbreak and doubt but also love and hope.

There’s so much more I want to say about this book and this character but I lack the language. I very highly recommend picking it up if you haven’t already.

Books with Queer Desi (South Asian) Characters

The past couple of years have been monumental when it comes to queer rep in books. There’s still a long way to go but seeing more and more diverse queer stories come out brings me a lot of joy. Here’s a list of books with queer desi characters (some of these haven’t been published yet but will be later this year). Let me know if I missed any!

**Please note that I haven’t read a lot of these so I cannot speak for quality or how good the representation is.

YOUNG ADULT / NEW ADULT

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Recipient of a Stonewall Honor and longlisted for the National Book Award, McLemore delivers a second stunning and utterly romantic novel, again tinged with magic.

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

(Note: Since it isn’t clear in the description, Sam is Pakistani and trans)

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The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

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Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

Judy Blume meets RuPaul’s Drag Race in this funny, feel-good debut novel about a queer teen who navigates questions of identity and self-acceptance while discovering the magical world of drag.

Perpetually awkward Nima Kumara-Clark is bored with her insular community of Bridgeton, in love with her straight girlfriend, and trying to move past her mother’s unexpected departure. After a bewildering encounter at a local festival, Nima finds herself suddenly immersed in the drag scene on the other side of town.

Macho drag kings, magical queens, new love interests, and surprising allies propel Nima both painfully and hilariously closer to a self she never knew she could be—one that can confidently express and accept love. But she’ll have to learn to accept lost love to get there.

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Bruised by Tanya Boteju

To Daya Wijesinghe, a bruise is a mixture of comfort and control. Since her parents died in an accident she survived, bruises have become a way to keep her pain on the surface of her skin so she doesn’t need to deal with the ache deep in her heart.

So when chance and circumstances bring her to a roller derby bout, Daya is hooked. Yes, the rules are confusing and the sport seems to require the kind of teamwork and human interaction Daya generally avoids. But the opportunities to bruise are countless, and Daya realizes that if she’s going to keep her emotional pain at bay, she’ll need all the opportunities she can get.

The deeper Daya immerses herself into the world of roller derby, though, the more she realizes it’s not the simple physical pain-fest she was hoping for. Her rough-and-tumble teammates and their fans push her limits in ways she never imagined, bringing Daya to big truths about love, loss, strength, and healing.

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Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student. She’s the classic (somewhat obnoxious) overachiever determined to win.

Rachel Recht is a wannabe director who’s obsesssed with movies and ready to make her own masterpiece. As she’s casting her senior film project, she knows she’s found the perfect lead – Sana.

There’s only one problem. Rachel hates Sana. Rachel was the first girl Sana ever asked out, but Rachel thought it was a cruel prank and has detested Sana ever since.

Told in alternative viewpoints and inspired by classic romantic comedies, this engaging and edgy YA novel follows two strongwilled young women falling for each other despite themselves.

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The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.

When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.

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We Are Totally Normal by Rahul Kanakia

Nandan’s got a plan to make his junior year perfect. He’s going to make sure all the parties are chill, he’s going to smooth things over with his ex, and he’s going to help his friend Dave get into the popular crowd—whether Dave wants to or not. The high school social scene might be complicated, but Nandan is sure he’s cracked the code.

Then, one night after a party, Dave and Nandan hook up, which was not part of the plan—especially because Nandan has never been into guys. Still, Dave’s cool, and Nandan’s willing to give it a shot, even if that means everyone starts to see him differently.

But while Dave takes to their new relationship with ease, Nandan’s completely out of his depth. And the more his anxiety grows about what his sexuality means for himself, his friends, and his social life, the more he wonders whether he can just take it all back. But is breaking up with the only person who’s ever really gotten him worth feeling “normal” again?

From Rahul Kanakia comes a raw and deeply felt story about rejecting labels, seeking connection, and finding yourself.

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Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan

Zara’s family has waited years for their visa process to be finalized so that they can officially become US citizens. But it only takes one moment for that dream to come crashing down around them.

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

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When Tara Met Farah by Tara Pammi

Sunshine Girl needs math lessons…

Nineteen-year-old Tara Muvvala didn’t mean to lead a double life. But her bone-deep aversion to math + a soul-deep desire to please her mother = her failing math grade + exploding food vlog ‘this masala life’.

Enter her mother’s research intern and resident math genius Farah Ahmed. Tara makes a deal with Farah – help her pass the math course and she’ll welcome Farah into the local Bollywood Drama & Dance Society.

Grumpy girl gets life lessons…

After losing her mom to a heart attack, dumping her small-minded boyfriend (she’s
bisexual, not confused) and reluctantly moving to the US to be near her dad – all in the span of eighteen months, twenty-three-year-old Farah has hit the full quota on LIFE. Two things keep her going – her internship with a brilliant statistics professor and the possibility of meeting her dancing idol through the Bollywood Drama & Dance Society. That is, if her new hot-mess housemate will let her.

Soon Tara and Farah are bonding over chicken biryani, dancing to Bollywood Beats at midnight and kissing… against all the odds. And maybe beginning to realize that while life’s even more complicated than math, love is the one variable that changes everything!

Will they realize that together they have the recipe for a Happily Ever After?

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ADULT

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by S.J Sindu

Lucky and her husband, Krishna, are gay. They present an illusion of marital bliss to their conservative Sri Lankan–American families, while each dates on the side. It’s not ideal, but for Lucky, it seems to be working. She goes out dancing, she
drinks a bit, she makes ends meet by doing digital art on commission. But when Lucky’s grandmother has a nasty fall, Lucky returns to her childhood home and unexpectedly reconnects with her former best friend and first lover, Nisha, who is preparing for her own arranged wedding with a man she’s never met.

As the connection between the two women is rekindled, Lucky tries to save Nisha from entering a marriage based on a lie. But does Nisha really want to be saved? And after a decade’s worth of lying, can Lucky break free of her own circumstances and build a new life? Is she willing to walk away from all that she values about her parents and community to live in a new truth? As Lucky—an outsider no matter what choices she makes—is pushed to the breaking point, Marriage of a Thousand Lies offers a vivid exploration of a life lived at a complex intersection of race, sexuality, and nationality. The result is a profoundly American debut novel shot through with humor and loss, a story of love, family, and the truths that define us all.

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The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya

Everyone talks about falling in love, but falling in friendship can be just as captivating. When Neela Devaki’s song is covered by internet-famous artist Rukmini, the two musicians meet and a transformative friendship begins. But as Rukmini’s star rises and Neela’s stagnates, jealousy and self-doubt creep in. With a single tweet, their friendship implodes, one career is destroyed, and the two women find themselves at the center of an internet firestorm.

Celebrated multidisciplinary artist Vivek Shraya’s second novel is a stirring examination of making art in the modern era, a love letter to brown women, an authentic glimpse into the music industry, and a nuanced exploration of the promise and peril of being seen.

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The Jasmine Throne (Burning Kingdoms #1) by Tasha Suri

Author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother.

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.

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Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar

Cobalt Blue is a tale of rapturous love and fierce heartbreak told with tenderness and unsparing clarity. Brother and sister Tanay and Anuja both fall in love with the same man, an artist lodging in their family home in Pune, in western India. He seems like the perfect tenant, ready with the rent and happy to listen to their mother’s musings on the imminent collapse of Indian culture. But he’s also a man of mystery. He has no last name. He has no family, no friends, no history, and no plans for the future. When he runs away with Anuja, he overturns the family’s lives.

Translated from Marathi by acclaimed novelist and critic Jerry Pinto, Sachin Kundalkar’s elegantly wrought and exquisitely spare novel explores the disruption of a traditional family by a free-spirited stranger to examine a generation in transition. Intimate, moving, sensual, and wry in its portrait of young love, Cobalt Blue is a frank and lyrical exploration of gay life in India that recalls the work of Edmund White and Alan Hollinghurst―of people living in emotional isolation, attempting to find long-term intimacy in relationships that until recently were barely conceivable to them.

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The Paths of Marriage by Mala Kumar

Lakshmi, a bright student who grew up in poverty, marries and immigrates to the United States from India to provide a better life for herself and her family. Clinging to her cultural realities, she forces her American daughter, Pooja, into an arranged marriage, creating a rift of resentment. Pooja’s daughter, Deepa, is an out lesbian to everyone but her family. The woman Deepa loves presents an ultimatum—come out to Pooja or break up—and Deepa is forced to confront her greatest fear.
 
Three generations of Indian and Indian-American women navigate the harsh slums of Chennai to the bustle of New York City, struggling through a cathartic generational collision to try to come together as a family.

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No Other World by Rahul Mehta

From the author of the prize-winning collection Quarantine, an insightful, compelling debut novel set in rural America and India in the 1980s and `90s, part coming-of-age story about a gay Indian American boy, part family saga about an immigrant family’s struggles each to find a sense of belonging, identity, and hope

In a rural community in Western New York, twelve-year-old Kiran Shah, the American-born son of Indian immigrants, longingly observes his prototypically American neighbors, the Bells. He attends school with Kelly Bell, but he’s powerfully drawn—in a way he does not yet understand—to her charismatic father, Chris.

Kiran’s yearnings echo his parents’ bewilderment as they try to adjust to a new world. His father, Nishit Shah, a successful doctor, is haunted by thoughts of the brother he left behind. His mother, Shanti, struggles to accept a life with a man she did not choose—her marriage to Nishit was arranged—and her growing attachment to an American man. Kiran is close to his older sister, Preeti—until an unexpected threat and an unfathomable betrayal drive a wedge between them that will reverberate through their lives.

As he leaves childhood behind, Kiran finds himself perpetually on the outside—as an Indian-American torn between two cultures, and as a gay man in a homophobic society. In the wake of an emotional breakdown, he travels to India, where he forms an intense bond with a teenage hijra, a member of India’s ancient transgender community. With her help, Kiran begins to pull together the pieces of his broken past.

Sweeping and emotionally complex, No Other World is a haunting meditation on love, belonging, and forgiveness that explores the line between our responsibilities to our families and to ourselves, the difficult choices we make, and the painful cost of claiming our true selves.

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A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian

Heaven is a thirty-year-old slum hidden between brand-new, high-rise apartment buildings and technology incubators in contemporary Bangalore. In this tight-knit community, five girls on the cusp of womanhood-a politically driven graffiti artist; a transgender Christian convert; a blind girl who loves to dance; and the queer daughter of a hijabi union leader-forge an unbreakable bond.

When the local government threatens to demolish their tin shacks in order to build a shopping mall, the girls and their mothers refuse to be erased. Together they wage war on the bulldozers sent to bury their homes, and, ultimately, on the city that wishes that families like them would remain hidden forever.

Elegant, poetic, and vibrant, A People’s History of Heaven takes a clear-eyed look at adversity and geography and dazzles in its depiction of love and female friendship.

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Bright Lines by Nandini Tanwi Islam

A vibrant debut novel, set in Brooklyn and Bangladesh, Bright Lines follows three young women and one family struggling to make peace with secrets and their past.

For as long as she can remember, Ella has longed to feel at home. Orphaned as a child after her parents’ murder, and afflicted with hallucinations at dusk, she’s always felt more at ease in nature than with people. She traveled from Bangladesh to Brooklyn to live with the Saleems: her uncle Anwar, aunt Hashi, and their beautiful daughter, Charu, her complete opposite. One summer, when Ella returns home from college, she discovers Charu’s friend Maya—an Islamic cleric’s runaway daughter—asleep in her bedroom. 

As the girls have a summer of clandestine adventure and sexual awakenings, Anwar—owner of a popular botanical apothecary—has his own secrets, threatening his thirty-year marriage. But when tragedy strikes, the Saleems find themselves blamed. To keep his family from unraveling, Anwar takes them on a fated trip to Bangladesh, to reckon with the past, their extended family, and each other.

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The Devourers by Indra Das

On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.

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GRAPHIC NOVELS

Kari by Amruta Patil

They were inseparable – until the day they jumped. Ruth, saved by safety nets, leaves the city. Kari, saved by a sewer, crawls back into the fray of the living. She writes ad copy for hair products and ill-fitting lingerie, falls for cats and roadside urchins, and the occasional adventuress in a restaurant. As Danger Chhori, her PVC-suit-clad alter ego, she unclogs sewers and observes the secret lives of people and fruit. And with Angel, Lazarus, and the girls of Crystal Palace forming the chorus to her song, she explores the dark heart of Smog City – loneliness, sewers, sleeper success, death – and the memory of her absentee Other.

Sensuously illustrated and livened by wry commentaries on life and love, Kari gives a new voice to graphic fiction in India.

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Apsara Engine by Bishakh Som

By turns fantastical and familiar, this graphic short story collection is immersed in questions of gender, the body, and existential conformity.

The eight delightfully eerie stories in Apsara Engine are a subtle intervention into everyday reality. A woman drowns herself in a past affair, a tourist chases another guest into an unforeseen past, and a nonbinary academic researches postcolonial cartography. Imagining diverse futures and rewriting old mythologies, these comics delve into strange architectures, fetishism, and heartbreak.

Painted in rich, sepia-toned watercolors, Apsara Engine is Bishakh Som’s highly anticipated debut work of fiction. Showcasing a series of fraught, darkly humorous, and seemingly alien worlds—which ring all too familiar—Som captures the weight of twenty-first-century life as we hurl ourselves forward into the unknown.

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Honorary Mentions

Afterworlds (Afterworld #1) by Scott Westerfield

BELIEVING IS DANGEROUS…

Darcy Patel is afraid to believe all the hype. But it’s really happening – her teen novel is getting published. Instead of heading to college, she’s living in New York City, where she’s welcomed into the dazzling world of YA publishing. That means book tours, parties with her favorite authors, and finding a place to live that won’t leave her penniless. It means sleepless nights rewriting her first draft and struggling to find the perfect ending… all while dealing with the intoxicating, terrifying experience of falling in love – with another writer.

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, the thrilling story of Lizzie, who wills her way into the afterworld to survive a deadly terrorist attack. With survival comes the responsibility to guide the restless spirits that walk our world, including one ghost with whom she shares a surprising personal connection. But Lizzie’s not alone in her new calling – she has counsel from a fellow spirit guide, a very desirable one, who is torn between wanting Lizzie and warning her that…

BELIEVING IS DANGEROUS.

In a brilliant high-wire act of weaving two epic narratives – and two unforgettable heroines – into one novel, Scott Westerfeld’s latest work is a triumph of storytelling.

**Note: Darcy is Sapphic and has a girlfriend but she’s 18 while her gf is 23 and I had a slight problem with that whole set up.

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Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

**Note: adding this because one of the major side characters is queer and desi and an absolute badass

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Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar

Little Ayesha is all excited for her favorite cousin Ritu’s wedding. She can’t wait to dance in the baraat ceremony! But not everyone is happy that Ritu is marrying her girlfriend Chandni. Some have even vowed to stop the celebrations. Will Ayesha be able to save her cousin’s big day?

This vibrant book sets the story of a same-sex couple struggling to gain acceptance against the colorful backdrop of an Indian wedding.

**Note: this is a children’s book and looks adorable! Putting it here since it didn’t fit the other categories

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All of these books can also be found in (on?) my Goodreads shelf here.

Did I miss any? Let me know!

Review: The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A Chakraborty

I ended up binge reading this entire series in the span of 4 days so the events of each book have blurred over for me. I will say that overall, this series was a solid five stars and has risen its way to become one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read. Easily Top 5. The writing is beautiful, the characters are very well developed and the world Chakraborty creates is fantastic (literally and figuratively).

Chakraborty has said that she wrote this series for her fellow Muslim fantasy geeks (hehe that’s me) and it shows. I think any fantasy lover would appreciate the world she crafted but it was extra special to me because of all the references to Islamic folklore. I grew up with djinn stories, passed down over generations from family members or through my own extensive research (sometimes to the point where I would scare myself to insomnia), so this world felt almost personal to me.

**I’m reviewing all three books here. If you haven’t read the first book and don’t want to be spoiled for the later ones, don’t read past the first review.

The City of Brass (Daevabad #1) by S.A Chakraborty

Rating

Synopsis

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…

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“Greatness takes time, Banu Nahida. Often the mightiest things have the humblest beginnings.”

This is actually my second time reviewing this book because I had read an ARC of the first one before it released and I did not fully appreciated it then. If anyone cares to read my review from four years ago, here it is.

City of Brass starts off slow. Because the world itself is so intricate with so many tribes and centuries of history, sometimes it feels like it’s too much. I have had to read certain paragraphs of explanations multiple times because I couldn’t grasp the dumps of information. But after you get used to the general sense of the world, the history lessons feel less like history lessons and more like conversations that are meant to be there.

We’re introduced to Nahri, an Egyptian woman with the power of healing, a power she uses for her schemes as a thief and a con artist. It took me a long time to love Nahri, among the two POVs, hers was the weaker one for me. Nahri in the beginning almost acts as a stand in for the reader because she is also finding out about this djinn world with us, she’s reacting to the world instead of being a part of the world. The first couple of chapters with her is mostly Darayavahoush, the Daeva warrior she accidentally summoned, explaining the djinn world and the history to her.

And then we have Ali, our second POV. Ali is the prince of Daevabad, the second son of king Ghassan. He is a soldier and a scholar, self-righteous, pious, and wants things to be better for the kingdom’s shafit citizens (those who have both djinn and human blood). Through Ali, we get to know about the current state of politics in Daevabad, what the city is like now and how the citizens of the different tribes are treated. This, in a way, juxtaposes what Dara has been teaching Nahri about the history of Daevabad from his time centuries ago. With Ali, we’re also immediately thrust in the middle of action because the book starts with him smuggling money from the treasury to an underground shafit organization.

The book picks up once Nahri and Dara get to Daevabad. It’s not action packed but it’s not really supposed to be, there are a lot of action scenes, but it mostly shines in characterization and world building.

Something I really appreciate about these books is how prejudice is portrayed and how you can very slowly see the characters gradually shift their views. Ali being a pious Muslim man has a deep-seated distaste for the Daevas, the tribe of djinn who worship fire. Dara, who has been trained as a soldier for the Nahids (the most powerful Daeva family) to do their bidding holds an enormous hatred for shafits and for the other djinn tribes. Most djinn (Daevas included) think less of the shafit because of their human blood. These feelings don’t go away but we do get to witness small changes in the characters when they start to question these deep rooted beliefs they’ve held all their lives.

The Kingdom of Copper (Daevabad #2) by S.A Chakraborty

Rating

Synopsis

S. A. Chakraborty continues the sweeping adventure begun in  The City of Brass conjuring a world where djinn summon flames with the snap of a finger and waters run deep with old magic; where blood can be dangerous as any spell, and a clever con artist from Cairo will alter the fate of a kingdom.

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad—and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of a devastating battle, Nahri must forge a new path for herself. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family—and one misstep will doom her tribe..

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid—the unpredictable water spirits—have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

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“I’m tired of everyone in this city feeding on vengeance. I’m tired of teaching our children to hate and fear other children because their parents are our enemies. And I’m sick and tired of acting like the only way to save our people is to cut down all who might oppose us, as if our enemies won’t return the favor the instant power shifts.”

As I’ve said earlier, the events of the books have kind of blurred for me. As far as middle books go, I thought Kingdom of Copper was fantastic in continuing the story from the first and setting up the events in the final. The book also did a great job expanding the universe from the first book.

The book takes place about five years after the events of the first one. Nahri is now married to Muntadhir, the future king of Daevabad. Ali is in exile but has found a djinn village to be a part of and they love him because wherever he goes, water springs mysteriously appear (a miracle to the formerly barren wastelands). And Dara, who everyone thought of as dead, was pulled back to life by Banu Manizheh. Although the five year time skip surprised me at first, it was a smart move since a) djinn have a longer lifespan anyway and b) it allowed for a lot of character growth and off the screen development so we could pretty much jump straight into action.

This was the book where Nahri won me over. She has been working as a healer for the past couple of years now. She’s a lot more sure of herself, more mature and a whole lot more powerful. She went from being my least favorite MC in the first book to my favorite character in this book. The least favorite character mantle was taken up by Dara who just frustrated me to the core in this one. I will say though that everything Dara did made sense from a character analysis perspective but frustrating nonetheless.

I also loved the added layers to the side characters, especially Muntadhir, Jamshid and Zaynab.

The Empire of Gold (Daevabad #3) by S.A Chakraborty

Rating

Synopsis

The final chapter in the Daevabad Trilogy, in which a con-woman and an idealistic djinn prince join forces to save a magical kingdom from a devastating civil war.

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt. 

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“If you rule by violence, you should expect to be removed by violence.”

The last book wasn’t really what I was expecting but it was a satisfying ending. I thought it ended well with the most immediate strings wrapped up but also a lot of room left up to interpretation. I don’t know if Chakraborty is ever planning on writing more stories in this world but if she did, there’s definitely a lot of room to explore more.

Like I said in the beginning, I read these books in about five days (that’s quick for me) so entertainment wise, they were gripping. I couldn’t put Empire of Gold down. I needed to know how the book was going to end, I needed to know what was going to happen to these characters. And because of that, I couldn’t give the book less than five stars despite some of my complaints about the ending.

I don’t really think I can review this one without spoilers. So the following will contain spoilers so be forewarned. Overall, it was a fantastic read and well worth my time and I highly recommend.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

I’m gonna start by talking about what I think the book was lacking. After finishing the book, my first thoughts were that I wanted more. And yes that had to do with the fact that I just wanted to spend more time with these characters but also that, I think there should have been more. Especially more POVs. I think this book really missed out on showing a lot of the political intrigue that I loved in the first two books by a) having Ali not be in Daevabad when he was usually our window into the politics and b) by not having perspectives from any of the characters who were dealing with the politics (and the aftermath of what Manizheh had done when she invaded). Dara is the only one of the three POVs in Daevabad for a majority of the book and he’s not a politician so we don’t really get a lot of insight from him, only what he hears from Manizeh and Muntadhir. Not having more of an insight of Daevabad when it’s the conclusion of the Daevabad trilogy wasn’t what I wanted.

I wanted more of Daevabad, of how the Zaynab got the shafit and the djinn working together, of how Muntadhir was able to plan the attack against Kaveh, the inner conflict the Daevas must have felt when Manizheh – their beloved Banu Nahida – just slaughtered so many innocent Geziris for the throne. I wanted more.

But for the record, I loved what we did get. Especially Nahri’s POV. Nahri shines in this book. Most of my favorite scenes were her scenes and I was rooting for her from start to finish.

More random thoughts:

  • Gotta say I wasn’t a huge fan of Ali’s subplot of going to the marids, marids just confused me in general
  • though Ali showing up with the hundreds of ships with the marid’s help was pretty frikkin cool
  • I liked how Ali was improving and questioning the prejudices he had though I do think he could have gone further with it
  • Zaynab and Aqisa were a team that I didn’t know I needed until it happened (also I ship them hard)
  • Jamshid and Muntadhir getting the happy ending they deserved!! But also, would’ve loved to see the whole “I killed your father because your parents invaded the kingdom and killed my dad along with hundreds of innocents” conversation between those two
  • The Egyptian shafit cook in the kitchen being Nahri’s grandfather made me BAWL
  • Also so happy to know Nahri is actually half-Egyptian since that was such a big part of her identity
  • Nahri made the peris mad, is this maybe a setup for a future book series??
  • Love the idea of Ali and Nahri making a new representative government from scratch
  • I actually really like Ali and Nahri as a couple, to me their relationship makes a lot more sense than Nahri’s and Dara’s did. Ali and Nahri are comfortable with each other, they both have a mutual thirst for knowledge and they are always trying to save other people
  • Dara’s whole character arc was beautifully done and I love that he was the one who ended up killing Manizheh
  • That ending with the Qahtani siblings gave me life!!
  • The fact that the book ended with “Nahri always smiled at her marks” had me smiling from ear to ear

I am sad to leave this world. And very excited to see the next world Chakraborty builds.

I’m Still Here? And 2020 Reading Favorites

Hello! It has been an eternity. Well two years so essentially an eternity.

As I came to understand on my two year hiatus, to run a book blog, you have to read books. That’s something I haven’t done a lot of the past couple of years and therefore didn’t really see a point in continuing this. Despite only reading six books in 2020, they were all pretty great books. I might do more in depth reviews on these later but here they are.

King of Scars (King of Scars Duology #1) by Leigh Bardugo

“Everyone mourns the first blossom.

Who will grieve the rest who fall?”

Though one of my most anticipated books, King of Scars was just okay. Nicolai grew on me in this book, I skimmed the Shadow and Bone trilogy because I wasn’t a huge fan so I never got attached to Nicolai in that series. Same with Zoya, loved her in KoS.

I picked this book up though for Nina. And that’s where I was disappointed because her story just did not feel relevant enough to Nicolai’s. It almost seemed like reading two different stories where the characters just knew each other. I’m sure the story will be more interwoven in the second book but that was the biggest problem I had with this one. Despite that though, I was thoroughly invested in both stories.

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours, #1) by Cassandra Clare

“You decide the truth about yourself. No one else. And the choice about what kind of person you will be is yours alone.”

I loved it, this was a fun book. The plot was entertaining enough but I dont read these books for the plot but for the characters and theres a pretty large and diverse cast (and about half of them are queer which is always great). I could not for the life of me keep track of the family trees though, so many Herondales and Lightwoods and Blackthorns running around, I kept forgetting who is whose child.

Chain of Gold did a good job setting up the next books and the characters. We know enough about them to start rooting for them but there’s a lot of room for growth.

Okay but do all these characters HAVE to be beautiful??? Where are the average looking Shadowhunters?? Goodness!! I’m also always here for more Will, Tessa and Jem content! Love the OG trio.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

“Straight people, he thinks, probably don’t spend this much time convincing themselves they’re straight.”

This was an adorable book! Featuring Alex, a bisexual half-Mexican son of the first female president of the United States, and Henry, the very closeted gay prince of Wales and an heir to the British throne. The romcom of my dreams honestly.

The book was much more than a mere romcom though. The story is set during Alex’s mother’s presidential reelection campaign and incorporates politics pretty well. All the side characters are also amazing and hilarious.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor (The Carls #2) by Hank Green

“People will just share the things that confirm their ideology, and those things will always exist. Our reality isn’t about what’s real, it’s about what we pay attention to.”

There’s so much in this book that I loved. Hank puts a lot of heavy topics into the story and he incorporates them so well with the characters. He talks about humanity, inequality, distribution of wealth, the pros and cons of the internet, corporations and their unchecked power, etc.

I also adore all the characters and appreciated getting everyone’s perspective in the second one and not just April’s.

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

“What I want more than anything else in the world is to feel like being myself isn’t something that should be hidden and a secret.”

Featuring Nishat, a lesbian Muslim Bengali girl, and Flavia, an Irish-Brazilian girl in a private high school in Ireland. Overall I thought this book was cute. It deals lightly with topics like cultural appropriation vs appreciation and qpoc struggles (especially in a majority white environment). However, I thought the author could have gone more in depth with how she portrayed something like cultural appropriation and she didn’t.

I liked the portrayal of Bengali characters and I though Nishat’s parents were very spot on when it comes to Muslim Bengali parents dealing with their kids coming out (basically just the silent treatment and pretending that nothing happened). There were small things though that Nishat says about Bengali culture that made me cringe a little. At one point, Nishat mentions that Flavia having her own henna stand was “lifting from Bengali culture” when henna is very much not just Bengali culture, having originated in Africa and the middle east.

Other than small grievances, it was an adorable book!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E Schwab

“Being forgotten, she thinks, is a bit like going mad. You begin to wonder what is real, if you are real. After all, how can a thing be real if it cannot be remembered?”

I absolutely loved it. This book is not action packed or plot heavy, it’s driven by Addie going through this world without being able to be remembered by anyone. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue reflects on what it means to be human, and what it means to live and love and be remembered. The prose was beautifully written.

Aaaaaand those are all the books I read in 2020. No promises that I will blog frequently, though I will try to remind myself how much I love looking back at old reviews to cringe at them (looking back at old reviews is probably the best way to torture myself. They suck. I don’t know why I did this, please don’t read them).

Books I’ve Been Wanting To Read

books tbr

We all know that I haven’t been reading much lately, I’ve read three books so far this year and it’s almost the end of March. I used to read 3 books in a week back in my glory days (sighhh).

Before I start with the post, I wanted to write about where I think my blog is going from here on out. Nowadays, usually if I have free time (which is rarely), I watch TV or I go out with friends or I sleep. I find myself picking up books less and less. And I was never one for audio books though I should listen to more of them. But I don’t want to not blog here so I might start writing more non-book related content (about my personal life, movies and shows I like, songs I love, etc).

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Okay, so on to the actual post! I have a MASSIVE TBR list so here are some books, new and old, that are on my list.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani ChokshThe Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history—but only if they can stay alive.

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Homegoing by Yaa GyasiHomegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi’s magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.

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36086513Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when—as the eldest daughter—she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens—after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal—especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

two lines36307634King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

two lines39988431The Kingdom of Copper by S.A Chakraborty (The Daevabad Trilogy #2)

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabadand quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family and one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid the unpredictable water spirits have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

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Any of these on your list? What book have you been dying to read?

 

Review: “Queen of Air and Darkness” by Cassandra Clare

13541056Rating
4.5 stars

Warning: the following contains spoilers for previous books of Cassandra Clare including The Mortal Instruments series, The Infernal Devices trilogy, all the short stories, and the first two 

What if damnation is the price of true love?

Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the blight that is destroying the race of warlocks.

Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.

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“As we all have an infinite capacity to make mistakes, we all have an infinite capacity for forgiveness.”

OH MY GOSH SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK I CANNOT CONTAIN IT!!! Leave it to Cassandra Clare to always hook me with her books. At this point, I’m a Shadowhunter reader for life, as long as she keeps writing, I will keep reading, I’m too invested in these people to turn my back now. Leave it to Cassandra Clare to give me yet another heartbreaking and page turning story. I could not put this book down but that’s not surprising seeing that this is my favorite Clare trilogy to date.

The book starts back up pretty much right after the events of Lord of Shadows in the Council Hall. The first few chapters are quite somber in the wake of Livvy and Robert’s deaths. All the characters have their own little ways to deal with their deaths which is a part of the catalyst that starts off this book. There isn’t much I can say about this book without spoiling it because at this point, I just want to rant about this book, not actually review it.

Arrow

SPOILERS SPOILERS LOTS OF SPOILERS Don’t read past this unless you want to be spoiled!

As feared, the new Inquisitor is not someone sympathetic to Julian and Emma’s case, he isn’t sympathetic period. Horace Dearborn, leader of the Cohort, becomes Inquisitor in the wake of Robert’s death. That puts him, Zara (UGHHH I HAAAATE HER SO MUCH) and Manuel in charge of the Clave.

Julian, who I was afraid was going to go completely crazy and try to raise Livvy from the dead, goes to Magnus and turns his frikkin emotions off *insert side eye here*. The poor boy’s got no chill. So for half of the book, we have a Julian who’s basically a robot. And if you thought Julian with feelings was ruthless? Wow Robot Julian really one ups him.

And then the different storylines start of our main characters. Horace finds out about Julian and Emma being in love and sends them on what pretty much is a suicide mission: to retrieve the Black Book from the Unseelie King and bring it back to Idris. Ty decides he is going to try and raise Livvy from the dead with Kit’s help and Kit reluctantly agrees. Helen and Aline are back home and are now trying to run the Los Angeles Institute while Helen tries to get along with the kids. Drusilla is lonely and is always trying to be taken seriously by her older siblings and their friends but is usually left with Tavvy to babysit. And you have the threesome: Mark, Cristina and Kieran who are all just really confused about their feelings. Like really confused.

So Emma and Robot Julian are now in Faerie with a map that shows them where the Unseelie Court is. And then comes the idiot Dane Larkspear who was one of the guys sent to kill Julian and Emma but is instead killed by Robot Julian who under normal circumstances probably wouldn’t have killed him. I don’t know though, both Julians are pretty brutal when it comes to people who threaten their families. They keep going but do they end up in the Unseelie Court? No. Julian takes the two of them to the Seelie Court because he wanted to make a deal with the Seelie Queen.

That was really where you see how different emotionless Julian is with the real Julian because Julian would never have kept such a dire plan from Emma. And she says the same to him.

Thule

The focus on alternative dimensions kind of took me by surprise. I liked being in Thule and seeing how the world would have turned out if Clary hadn’t killed Sebastian during the Dark War. But I also thought the mention of several alternative dimensions opened too many doorways for this world. I always commend Cassandra Clare for expanding the Shadowhunter world so well and bringing up alternative dimensions could end up going very wrong.

I’m guessing The Wicked Powers series (focused on Kit and Ty) will involve alternative dimensions somehow.

Mark, Kieran and Cristina

“The sky was a road and the stars made pathways; the moon was a watchtower, a lighthouse that led you home.”

I understand Mark being in love with Kieran through their shared history and after everything they have done for each other. I also understand Mark and Cristina being in love, they have had their moments. Cristina was the first person Mark connected with after he came back home from the Wild Hunt. Kieran and Cristina I’m still not sure about, to me it seems like it’s more that they’re attracted to each other and not that they are in love with each other.

Helen and Aline

“But even if they fit differently now, they still fit like sisters.”

Oh I felt so bad for Helen for most of the book. She’s finally home and trying to take care of the kids but the kids are lashing out because she’s not Julian. Helen was trying so hard with the kids but it’s understandable why they were weary of their older sister at first.

I absolutely loved Aline and how she always stood up for Helen. We don’t know much about her yet except for the fact that she is Helen’s wife but I loved whenever she was in the scene.

Thule Livvy

“I whisper your name, Ty. I whisper the most important thing:
I love you. I love you. I love you.”

OH MY GOSH this broke my heart!!!! Especially since it’s kind of the opposite in Thule and Livvy is the only one of them who’s survived. Like I said before, I liked spending time in Thule with Livvy. I missed her! Is that weird to say about a character? Thule Livvy helped heal Julian’s heart a little bit as well otherwise he would have blamed himself for her death for the rest of his life.

Kit

“Making promises you can’t keep is worse than making no promises at all.”

I SO CALLED IT! The minute they started talking about the First Heir in Faerie, I knew Kit was the descendant. And he’s got fairy magic!

Kit as a character I’m not really attached to yet. I like him but I don’t love him. I did understand him in this book not being able to say no to Ty and going along with his plan. Especially since Kit was hoping the plan will fall through.

Tessa was so excited when he agreed to go live with her! I’m happy for her but also heartbroken for Ty who’s lost both Livvy and Kit now. But we know the fifth series is about him and Ty so maybe they will both be in a Scholomance together?

Julian and Emma

“Sometimes when you start a war, you want to make pancakes.”

I love these two characters individually. Julian is great, I love him when he’s with his siblings and his family dynamic. Julian is probably the male Shadowhunter MC I started liking the quickest (yes, even over Will. It took me two and a half books to start loving Will). I also love how savvy Julian is with others, I love clever characters who outsmart their opponents and Julian is it.

I thought his plan for Livia’s Watch was genius (I started tearing up when he announced the name of the rebellion). It was also nice to see him take charge even among heroes like the original TMI characters, and it was also great to see them take Julian seriously.

“Faith isn’t never having any doubts; it’s having what you need to overcome them.”

I also love Emma, she’s my favorite out of the three Clare female MC’s we’ve had so far. I never liked Clary and I didn’t start loving Tessa until Clockwork Princess. Emma I liked right away from the get go of Lady Midnight. I will say however, in this book especially, it seemed like every decision she made was based on the fact that she loves Julian which got old for me.

“As long as you exist and I exist, I will love you.”

I do ship them and I’m happy that Julian and Emma are together but their relationship was probably my least favorite of the book. Maybe because I got very tired of Julian pining over Emma for the past two books and vice versa.

I was more invested in pretty much every other relationship but theirs in this book. I got tired of their love story especially after Magnus takes the spell off of him, it’s just them pining after one another for pages and pages on. Even Kieran and Cristina, whose relationship kind of just showed up from nowhere, was a more interesting dynamic.

Drusilla 

“Don’t remain silent about what you want, or you may never get it.”

Awww Dru is such an underrated character! She’s old enough to want to be in on the action but young enough where everyone tells her not to. She always ends up babysitting Tavvy and though she loves doing that, she wants to feel more useful. I love that Kit tried to include her in their plans because he saw how lonely she felt.

I don’t think she got the praise that she deserves when she freed Jia and the Rosales brothers from prison. Dru was pretty badass in this book. I also love how she chose to stay back from the fight to be with Tavvy, that shows a lot of character growth in her part. I can’t wait to see what the Wicked Powers has in store for her!

Magnus and Alec

“Be good, my archer boy. Come back to me.”

Reading about Thule Magnus and Alec KILLED me!!! Magnus is my favorite character in this saga and one of my absolute favorites of all time. Alec killing Magnus and then killing himself?? Even in an alternative dimension, WHYYYY CASSANDRA!!!!

Loved the conversation when Julian and Emma were explaining what happened to them and Magnus got very angry at Alec for doing killing himself yelling about what would happen to their children. And Alec being like, we didn’t have children in that world!! 

I was scared for Magnus in this one, we’ve never seen anything this fatal happen to Magnus ever (I guess other than Edom). I didn’t think Clare would kill him off but after Robert and Livvy, I was concerned.

Alec being Consul was unexpected but I’m so glad! He has earned it and he would make a fine leader. This also means we will definitely be getting more Malec in The Wicked Powers series so YES!

“And when one day people look back on me and what my life meant, I don’t want them to say, ‘Alec Lightwood fought in the Dark War’ or even ‘Alec Lightwood was Consul once.’ I want them to think, ‘Alec Lightwood loved one man so much he changed the world for him.’ ”

WE FINALLY GOT A MALEC WEDDING YESSSSS. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT FOR A DECADE. It was perfect! Jace accompanying Alec. I love that Catarina and Ragnor were fighting to see who gets to accompany Magnus. And the vows!!!! I was full on sobbing the entire time. It was beautiful!

Ending with the Cohort

Am I the only one who kind of wishes that they just let those stupid kids kill themselves? They’re so extra I cannot. Never have I ever wanted to punch a character in the face so hard than I did Zara frikkin Dearborn. I HAAATE HER SO MUCH.

Though I do love the idea of the new Shadowhunter Academy being in Luke’s farm. And the new Council being in New York! Alec will pretty much have to build the Shadowhunter council back up from and I’m sure he’ll do a great job. I’m very excited to see how the new government looks. 

Have you read this? Are you going to? Who is your favorite character in this series?

 

My Year in Review: 2018

2018 Review

Life Updates: 

Am I really posting my 2018 review in the middle of January? Yes, yes I am.

I obviously have not been around at all lately. I think I probably posted a total of 12 posts in 2018. A part of the reason was definitely the much dreaded blogger burn-out that many bloggers have faced but most of it was due to school. I recently transferred universities and a new school + a demanding workload = the worst semester I’ve ever had. I was emotionally exhausted every day and had very little time to read and no time to blog.

School just started again so I’m afraid the same thing will happen again where I am only posting once a month or maybe not at all for two or three months. Hopefully I’ve learned a thing or two from last semester and will manage my time better.

Reading Updates: 

Like I said before, I have not had much time to read last year. I’ve been trying to make up for that by reading more Manga since they take less time and are still enjoyable.

**Note These are just the books that I have read in 2018 and not necessarily books that were published last year.

Favorite Fantasy

Favorite Sci-Fi

Favorite Contemporary

Favorite Manga

Have you read any of these? What was one of your absolute favorites of 2018? How’s 2019 going?

 

Review: “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing” by Hank Green

24233708Rating:
4.5 stars

The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and NobleArrow

AART

The book that finally got me out of my massive reading slump, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. Going into this book, I was hesitant. I love Hank Green as a person, I’m an avid follower of the Vlogbrothers and everything they do for charities every year. And of-course I’m a fan of Hank’s brother, John Green’s, books. So when Hank announced his book, I was nervous that I wouldn’t like it. That was all for naught though because An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was absolutely remarkable.

April as a main character is not perfect. She’s a character with a lot of flaws, most of which she will admit to having and it made her that much more relatable. She has commitment issues, she’s reckless, a little impulsive, but she’s lovable despite her flaws.

April May, after a long day at work, encounters this giant statue in the middle of a New York street. She first walks right pass the statue but then decides she would be more appreciative of street art so she gets her best friend Andy to take a video of her fake interviewing the statue she then named Carl. Little did she know, there were hundreds of other Carls who appeared at the exact same time in other cities around the world. Her video quickly goes viral because she is the first to upload a video with Carl and thus starts April May’s adventure.

This was also a very real despite being science fiction. The book talks about the effects of social media and all the positives and negatives that come from it. It talks about the effects of fame and how it can be addictive and lonely and how much it can change a person over time. We get to see April’s rise to fame. April May goes from a person who really isn’t into social media to someone who thinks obsessively about every video and every tweet she sends out. I thought that was relatable to everyone who has ever grown even a small following online, you end up thinking about what kind of posts will get the most likes, what will end up the most popular, etc.

We also see how April’s rise to fame affects her relationship with the people around her. Her relationship with her girlfriend Maya is probably the best example of that. It’s also a good juxtaposition to see how the people who knew her before she was the famous April May react to her as opposed to the people who met her after her video went viral.

I am so glad I loved this book. Hank did an incredible job balancing the sci-fi aspects with every day life. The book works well as a stand-alone but there are a few questions left unanswered which paves the way for the sequel.