About My Blog: What’s Happening, Why I’ve Been Inactive, & My Plans for the Future

Hey, guys! So, I know I’ve haven’t been as consistent with this blog as I used to be. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what I really want to do with it, and here’s what I’ve decided:

I’m going to be taking a break from blogging. Not reading, because let’s be honest, how could I ever? I’m just not going to be posting any more reviews or casual posts on this blog anymore—not forever, or at least, I don’t think so. I definitely do wanna continue blogging someday, but now is not the right time. There’s a lot of things taking their toll on my mental health, and this has been a sort of indirect pressure, which I don’t want. I want to focus mainly on my school work since this is a critical year for me, and my writing. I’ve got, like, five WIPs—all which I’ve barely just started, fun!—but out of these five, I do plan to focus on just one so that I can finish them one by one.

Anyway.

The same goes for my bookstagram account! I’ve just been lost, with no idea on where to take it, so I decided that right now is not a good time to get busy with it. I’ll be going on a long hiatus, and while I do wanna get back to bookstagramming someday, I have no clue if I’ll be using the same account or making a new one. I guess we’ll all see.

The social media platforms that I’ll be (mostly) active on are my Twitter (@invisibleinink) and Goodreads (invisibleinink), so do follow me there ‘cause I’ll still be reading!

When I re-open this blog, I will most likely re-design everything in it, so just…don’t open it during that time I guess? It’s probably gonna be a mess.

So, I think that’s it? It was a lot of fun, sharing my jumbled thoughts on this platform, and I’d love to continue again sometime—thank you all so much for your support!

Stay creative,

Angel

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All Things Bookish | Review | I Was Born For This

“I think the truth is that everyone in the entire world is confused and nobody understands much of anything at all.”

"I Was Born for This" book cover

 

Title: I Was Born for This

Author: Alice Oseman

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: Contemporary / Young Adult / LGBTQIAP+

Page number: 395

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.


🧕 – Muslim & Arab Reading Month #2 (this book features a Muslima hijabi MC!)

[4.5/5]

Trigger warning: panic attacks.

Alice Oseman is a gift to this world that we don’t deserve. I’m so glad I decided to start over after the disaster that was Solitaire, because honestly, it was so worth it. First there was Radio Silence, which is too amazing for words (but you can check out my attempt in my review!) and now I Was Born for This. Needless to say, if there’s another book she’s planning to write (*slides Alice ten dollars* please OuO) you bet I’m running to the bookstore to get it.

I feel like this book is meant for especially a certain group of people, and that’s fans. It doesn’t matter what you like: books, music, movies, shows, etc.— this book is for you because it explores the ups and downs of being in a fandom.

Fereshteh “Angel” Rahimi, an Iranian Muslima hijabi, is obsessed with a band called The Ark. She knows how adults would look down on her for that; they think she’s a lifeless, lonely teenager with nothing to do, so she chooses to spend time on some “teen boy band” instead. But to Angel, The Ark isn’t just a band—they’re like guardian angels who’ve descended from the sky to spread love and happiness in the world. She takes one look at them and instantly believes that love is possible, that hope is a thing worth holding on to. It’s why she ships two members of the band together; the ship name is called ‘Jowan’. And she’s not the only one. Almost the entire fandom wants them to be together, and the sad part is that they don’t even realise how much this pressure and obsession is impacting the band members themselves.

Before moving on to the band members, I’d like to say that the rep is really well-done. I love how the book isn’t about Angel being Muslim, but it’s simply part of her. It’s who she is and it’s not made to be a big deal every two pages. Also, running and fearing that your hijab might fly off any second? Most relatable Muslima thing ever. Been there, done that.

(Also, brownie points because Fereshteh and I have the same alias, what!)

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci, an Italian-Indian gay trans guy with an anxiety disorder, is one of the members of The Ark. There’s also Rowan Omondi who is Nigerian (hence “Jowan”—Jimmy+Rowan), and Allister “Lister” Bird, one of the two bisexual characters in this book.

Jimmy loves Rowan, but not in the way the fandom wants him to. He just likes their friendship and is reassured by the fact that he has a shoulder to cry on when things get tough. His anxiety really tires him. The paranoia he goes through at seemingly ‘random’ moments in this book was actually very relatable; I’ve had similar fears and worries, sometimes out of literally nowhere. Anxiety does that—it makes you scared all of a sudden, makes you get irrational thoughts and obsessively worry about the littlest things. I related to Jimmy a lot in this book and I’m so happy that he’s treated so well.

While the fans only see the happy, talented boys in public, they don’t realise what really goes on behind the scenes because Jimmy, Rowan and Lister are very good actors. They paint a smile on their faces every time they’re on stage because they know they can’t be anything but what the fans want them to be, and that’s a really upsetting thing to think about. This book really explores the price of fame and what it means to have people be obsessed with you to the point that they would willingly violate your personal space just to get closer to you. All of this pressure from the fans and the tension between them has The Ark members really jumpy. Their relationship starts to become more fragile, the trust between them easily breakable because of misunderstandings and stress. I love the way this impacts their dynamic because it’s so realistic.

The way Angel’s and Jimmy’s stories clash pleasantly surprised me. I was terrified it would be something cheesy or predictable, but in reality, it fits well with the plot and characters. I loved the relationship between them; it’s an unlikely friendship but you know that it’s one that will stick, no matter the distance between them, no matter the days that go by where they don’t talk.

We also have Bliss Lai, a Chinese-white bisexual, who kicks so much ass by just being herself. I loved her character. She becomes a very important person in Angel’s life and someone she learns a lot from. She’s also hilarious and a queen among queens, so, really, how could anyone hate her?

Have you read I Was Born for This? Would you like to? Let me know!

Stay creative,

Angel

 

"The Ship of the Dead" book review banner

All Things Bookish | Review | The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3)

“Heroes never get to be ready, do we?”

Title: The Ship of the Dead

Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (#3)

Author: Rick Riordan

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Genre: Fantasy > Mythology / Young Adult / Middle Grade

Page number: 423

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin’s chosen warriors. As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn’t naturally inclined to fighting. But he has strong and steadfast friends, including Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, and together they have achieved brave deeds, such as defeating Fenris Wolf and battling giants for Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Now Magnus and his crew must sail to the farthest borders of Jotunheim and Niflheim in pursuit of Asgard’s greatest threat. Will they succeed in their perilous journey, or is Ragnarok lurking on the horizon?


🌙 🧕– Muslim & Arab Reading Month #3 (this book features an Arab-American Muslima hijabi!)

[5/5]

Rick Riordan’s books hold a special place in my heart because they’re what got me into reading. I don’t think it’s possible for me to hate anything he writes, like, at all.

I think this series is, hands-down, one of the best he’s written. I know people classify his mythology books as Middle Grade, but honestly, they work great for YA too. Or, you know what, this book is suited for ALL AGES. *slides it into the nearest old age home*

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard is one of my favourite series of all time, right next to Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It’s packed with diversity, hilarious action, lovable characters, and even has a talking. Sword.

A TALKING SWORD.

I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW I NEEDED THAT UNTIL THIS SERIES.

In this final installment of the series (*SOB*), Magnus and his friends are faced with yet another challenge: stop Loki’s Naglfar – The Ship of the Dead – from setting sail and starting Ragnarök before its time.

This review may contain spoilers from the previous two books, so read at your own risk!

Magnus Chase

“I was a healer. I didn’t cut people. I put them back together.”

I love my soft sunshine boy to death. After everything he’s been through in his life: the lies he lived about who he actually was, homelessness, having to go on two separate quests that almost cost him his life (er, his afterlife), he comes out believing that he’s not going to stoop down to his enemies’ levels. He’s a healer, not a fighter.

This is one book that makes use of words rather than weapons when fighting your enemy. It shows that you don’t always have to bust out your guns and battle axes to win a fight. (I mean, yeah, they do do that, but hey, if another option’s available, all the better.)

I think Magnus learns more about himself and the world around him when he’s dead rather than when he was alive. As a homeless kid, you couldn’t blame him for being bitter and cynical about everything. He had nothing besides his two friends, Hearthstone and Blitzen, with him. But after becoming an einherji and accustoming himself to afterlife in Valhalla, he soon realises that a completely new world has opened up to him, and we’re not just talking about Norse mythology here. He meets all sorts of different people, of different skin colour and religion and gender orientations. He becomes more open-minded and learns to let more people into his life. And once he does, that’s it —you’ve got yourself a friend for life. Magnus is fiercely loyal.

I know that some people think he sounds a lot like Percy’s narrative voice, but actually, I can tell them apart better now. I feel like Magnus gains his own voice throughout the series.

Samirah al-Abbas

“I think the hardest thing we can ever do is see someone for who they really are. Our parents. Our friends. Ourselves.”

SAMIRAH IS A QUEEN.

A BADASS HIJABI VALKYRIE QUEEN.

WHAT HAS THE BOOK COMMUNITY DONE TO DESERVE SUCH A HEROINE??

The representation starts here, folks. An Arab-American Muslima protagonist in a fantasy novel. See, it’s not so hard.

Sam is honestly too pure for the bookish world. Despite being bullied at her school, called a terrorist because of her hijab, told to “go home” (she was born in the U.S. by the way), and dismissed as a Valkyrie because of her parentage at one point, she still sees the best in people. She doesn’t let her past nor her mistake define her. She holds on to her faith strongly and fights with bravery that could rival that of hundreds of Vikings.

There’s something so empowering about this, to finally see a Muslim girl of colour being represented so well. It’s so clear that Uncle Rick has done his research properly. And the fact that the events of this book take place during Ramadan! Samirah’s not only slaying giants and riding water horses and training to fight her father, but she’s doing it while fasting. (I was fasting while reading the book too, so that was cool.)

Also, as a Muslim myself, I can confirm that neither dwarf nor elf meat is halal. Just sayin’.

Sam’s crush on Amir is so cute?? And fluffy?? And heart-warming?? It was so refreshing to see a sweet romance that relied more on feelings rather than physical contact. I will probably never get over this halal romance because, uh, how can I? Amir is my son and he deserves all the love in the world. He cares for Samirah so much and that clearly shows. (Also, he makes falafel. This is a man of dreams, fellas.)

Alex Fierro

“And you have to flaunt the weird, my friends.”

I know, like, fifty Alex’s, all from different books, but honestly? Very few can share the top spot with my queer latinx queen Alex Fierro.

Alex Fierro is a force to be reckoned with, an unstoppable storm. She’s transgender and genderfluid, and she’s not afraid to announce it to the world. He’s proud of who he is, no matter who dares look down on him for that (they’d be asking for death by decapitation, really) and, yes, she ‘flaunts the weird’ indeed.

I still can’t get over how absolutely cheeky and adorable Alex is. We also find out that she still holds on to her Mexican heritage and remembers her abuelo, much to the disapproval of her “butt-hat” father (Magnus’ words, not mind, but hey I totally agree). There’s a lot of depth behind her character, and her development is truly one of the best I’ve read. I especially liked her approach to the romance sub-plot. FierroChase is one of the purest ships ever for the sole reason that it’s not rushed, nor is it forced. In fact, Alex actually asks for space to think about it, which I loved. I don’t see many characters doing that. His maturity really shows.

Also, this:

“Alex perused the titles on the bookshelves.

‘Anything good?’ I asked.

He shrugged. ‘The Lord of the Rings. Not bad. Sylvia Plath. Nice. Oh, The Left Hand of Darkness. I love that book. The rest…meh. His collection is a little heavy on dead white males for my taste.’”

“HIS COLLECTION IS A LITTLE HEAVY ON DEAD WHITE MALES.”

CAN I—

HUG??

(No, never mind. I’d rather not have a garrote wire be the last thing I see.)

Moving on to the plot—I really love Uncle Rick’s pacing. You never find any of his books to be ‘slow’ (at least, from what I remember), because there’s always stuff happening that keeps you on your toes. We have the quiet, emotional moments where we can see character developments, and those are always placed at the exact right time. Usually just before the action. Maybe some people thought the ending was ‘anti-climactic’, but not me. This was a creative twist on Uncle Rick’s part, and Magnus was so sweet and pure omg!!

As much as I’d love to write essays about the rest of the characters, I don’t wanna make this too long, so I’ll leave little tidbits instead!

Hearthstone “Hearth”

“Sometimes you lie to deceive people. Sometimes you lie because you need the lie to become the truth. I guessed Hearth was doing the latter.”

*screams* HEARTH MY CHILD!! MY ADORABLE ELF BABY WHO MUST BE PROTECTED ALL COSTS!! *wraps him in a fluffy blanket*

Is there a rune that makes you sob uncontrollably? Because yo, Hearth must have cast that on me or something.

Also, Hearth is a deaf elf, and I think the rep was wonderful! I really wanna learn ASL now.

Blitzen “Blitz”

“I am not dying in this outfit!”

Our fashionable mama hen dwarf. (WHAT IF HE AND ALEX TEAMED UP TO MAKE A FASHION LINE THOUGH??) I love him to death, and his friendship with Hearth is one of the best things about this book.

Thomas Jefferson Jr. “T.J.”

“You can’t hold on to hate forever. It won’t do a thing to the person you hate, but it’ll poison you, sure enough.”

DID I MENTION THAT THIS BOOK ALSO HIGHLIGHTS RACISM AND THE STRUGGLES THAT BLACK PEOPLE GO THROUGH?? AND DESPITE THAT T.J. REMAINS THE LITERAL EPITOME OF SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS?? MY CHILD!

Oh, and let’s not forget the writing style. Anything written by Uncle Rick is the opposite of boring, guys. This book is filled with hilarious commentary and it had me laughing out loud multiple times. He does an excellent job of drawing you into the plot with simple wit and humour.

“I always say, Eat chocolate first, destroy the world later.”

That’s my life motto now guys.

What are your thoughts about this series? Let me know!

Stay creative,

Angel

"The Map of Salt and Stars" book review banner

All Things Bookish | Review | The Map of Salt and Stars

“The land where your parents were born will always be in you. Words survive. Borders are nothing to words and blood.”

 

 

Title: The Map of Salt and Stars

Author: Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

Publisher: Touchstone

Genre: Historical Fiction / Contemporary (yes, both of them at the same time)

Page number: 361

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

This rich, moving, and lyrical debut novel is to Syria what The Kite Runner was to Afghanistan; the story of two girls living eight hundred years apart—a modern-day Syrian refugee seeking safety and a medieval adventurer apprenticed to a legendary mapmaker—places today’s headlines in the sweep of history, where the pain of exile and the triumph of courage echo again and again.

It is the summer of 2011, and Nour has just lost her father to cancer. Her mother, a cartographer who creates unusual, hand-painted maps, decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria to be closer to their family. But the country Nour’s mother once knew is changing, and it isn’t long before protests and shelling threaten their quiet Homs neighborhood. When a shell destroys Nour’s house and almost takes her life, she and her family are forced to choose: stay and risk more violence or flee as refugees across seven countries of the Middle East and North Africa in search of safety. As their journey becomes more and more challenging, Nour’s idea of home becomes a dream she struggles to remember and a hope she cannot live without.

More than eight hundred years earlier, Rawiya, sixteen and a widow’s daughter, knows she must do something to help her impoverished mother. Restless and longing to see the world, she leaves home to seek her fortune. Disguising herself as a boy named Rami, she becomes an apprentice to al-Idrisi, who has been commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily to create a map of the world. In his employ, Rawiya embarks on an epic journey across the Middle East and the north of Africa where she encounters ferocious mythical beasts, epic battles, and real historical figures.

A deep immersion into the richly varied cultures of the Middle East and North Africa, The Map of Salt and Stars follows the journeys of Nour and Rawiya as they travel along identical paths across the region eight hundred years apart, braving the unknown beside their companions as they are pulled by the promise of reaching home at last.


🌙 🧕—Muslim & Arab Reading Month #1 (this book features Arabs as well as hijabi women)

[5/5]

Trigger warning: attempted rape, violence, death.

Did I finally, finally find the book that seemed to speak to me, rather than just narrate a story?

Why yes. Yes I did, and the proof is right there on the dedication page:

“For the Syrian people,

both in Syria and in diaspora,

and for all refugees”

The Map of Salt and Stars is about a 12-year-old girl, Nour, who has to move from New York back to Homs, Syria, with her family after the death of her father. Nour has a difficult time adjusting, especially considering that her two elder sisters know Arabic much better than she does. They have memories of Syria, while she doesn’t. All she has to hold on to is the stories of her late father, more specifically, the story of Rawiya.

“Everybody knows the story of Rawiya. They just don’t know they know it.”

Rawiya is a skilled, ambitious 12th century girl. In search of fame and glory, she decides to leave home, dressed as a boy, to become the apprentice of a map-maker, Al-Idrisi. She also journeys with his other apprentice, Bakr.

First of all, let me just say that if I make no sense in this review, that’s because this book has stolen all the words from me. The poignancy and truth it carries is so powerful that I don’t even know how to describe it.

I love that this story is told from the point of view of a 12-year-old girl. A 12-year-old girl who has to worry about things like food and hygiene while she’s on the run for her life. She’s supposed to be going to school and making friends and copying homework off her classmates—not getting shot at and shelled.

“I would’ve been starting seventh grade soon. I was looking forward to science class, to filling in maps with tectonic plates and making my own battery out of a potato. Do they make batteries out of potatoes in Jordan? Will I have to sell tissues instead?”

🗺️ Nour

“People make such beautiful things, I think, even though they destroy so much.”

Nour’s description of the places and events was refreshing and vivid; she’s one of those characters who expresses herself with colours. She remembers people’s voices and gives them their very own colours. This is called synaesthesia. She’s also constantly terrified of forgetting her father’s, but her friends and family reassure her that the memories she has with him can never be buried. With all the horrible things and harsh realities that Nour is exposed to on this journey, her mindset slowly starts to shift. She starts worrying more, wondering more about her uncertain future, thinking about her roots and about why someone like her has been targeted when she hasn’t done anything bad at all.

“‘Some people get angry. They think we are dangerous. We scare them.’

‘I didn’t want to scare them,’ I say. I bury my face in Huda’s hijab. ‘I just wanted to come home.’”

She learns that people will always be sceptical of refugees, and that they often don’t care about their age or their physical or mental health. All they can see is the face the media shows them—the face of a thief or a killer, when in reality, it’s simply someone who’s lost their home and wants to find their way back. They didn’t have a choice.

I think the release of this book came at a perfect timing. With the refugee crisis and the numerous misconceptions going on right now, it’s important that more books start talking about why we need to help instead of push away.

Nour also learns that, when wars are involved, innocent people are affected. People who never even wanted any violence, who were living peacefully up until everything they had was ripped away from them.

“‘I don’t understand why we were shelled.’ Mama speaks soft like she thinks we’re asleep, like she’s afraid to wake us.

Abu Sayeed says nothing at first. The car’s tires hum. The engine clacks and complains.

‘We may never understand,’ he replies, just as quiet. ‘In times like these, it’s the small people who suffer.’”

This part just hit close to home so much—not because I’ve been through this, but simply because that’s precisely what’s happening. Look at all these people fleeing into foreign countries, hoping for safety, but getting discriminated against and rejected instead. They can’t go back and they can’t go forward. How horrible must it be?

🗺️ Rawiya

“‘I am a woman and a warrior,’ Rawiya said, her blade cutting into his club. ‘If you think I can’t be both, you’ve been lied to.’”

What can I say about Rawiya that isn’t already obvious from the quote above? She is a queen among queens. She’s skilled with the sling, quick-witted, and adorable as well. She battles soldiers, armies, and mythological creatures, even, and she doesn’t complain once. She loses and she wins and she loves and she hates. She’s a very well-built character and I’m so happy we finally have a strong Arab lead in literature.

Rawiya also has a very sweet romance sub-plot and it’s just the purest thing ever!! Lately I’ve been reading a bunch of romances that are more about the feelings between the characters and how these emotions build up, rather than sudden, spontaneous to start kissing or something. It was simple, it was hella cute, and it was easy to follow. Now if only we could have more of those, please.

Why I especially loved this historically fictitious bit of the story is because it shows what the Arab world was like before all the wars and the fighting. It’s rich in Arab and African history and culture: Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Ceuta. As a person who’s obsessed with the world, I had so much fun reading this.

Speaking of what the Arab world used to be, Nour also continues to learn more about how Syria was from her sisters, Huda and Zahra, who have spent more time there than she has.

“‘You should have seen Syria—how it used to be. We used to get fresh green beans and make loubieh bi zeit and rice. We would take out our plates and some folding chairs into the driveway under the chestnut tree. Sitto used to come over, Mama’s clients, everybody. That was Syria to me. The green beans, the sagging folding chairs, the oil on people’s hands.’

I bury my face in my elbow. ‘Now it’s gone.’

‘But not from us.’ Zahra rubs her thumb across the back of her hand like she’s spreading an invisible oil stain. ‘The Syria I knew is in me somewhere. And I guess it’s in you too, in its own way.’”

It’s bittersweet to see the whole family, including family friends—Abu Sayeed—and other strangers they come across on the way—Um Yusuf, Yusuf, Sitt Shadid—join hands to survive. Nour meets many people on her journey, some not even allowed to cross borders because of document complications, like a hakawati; a man whose job is to tell stories. Even his brief appearance impacts her for life.

Do I recommend this? Definitely. Do I think this book has enough hype? Nope. I’m a bit shocked why this isn’t as popular as other books, because this is a novel we so desperately need right now. Everyone should read this; it really gives us all some questions and scenarios to think about.

Have you read The Map of Salt and Stars? What did you think? Don’t hesitate to tell me!

Stay creative,

Angel

All Things Bookish | Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

My first ever book tag post! ✨ Special thanks to my fabulous friend Romie – check out her post for this tag here!

I haven’t read a whole lot of books, so forgive me if my answers are limited – I had a bunch of important exams in May, people. *shrugs*

Anyway, here we go!

#1: Best book you’ve read so far this year

I’m glad to say that I read a lot of good books this year, and choosing just one is, like, Mission Impossible, but I’ll have to say that it’s The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar. A story that talks about the plight of refugees and gives us a badass Arab Muslima warrior? How could I ever refuse??

#2: Best sequel you’ve read so far this year

Okay, so I’ve only read, like, one sequel this year, and it’s The Ship of the Dead by Uncle Rick Rick Riordan, the finale to the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. And you know what? It was so freakin’ good that I’m not sure any other sequel I read this year will be able to top it that easily.

#3: New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff! I really need to just finish this series already – the wait is too much to bear. My children are in danger. I must find out what happens! *wails in despair*

#4: Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee. I ADORED the first book, and Felicity is, like, the most badass eighteenth century woman there ever was (okay, I could be very wrong about this – but if there was a club for badass eighteenth century women, she’d definitely be a member. President, even). ALSO, SHE’S AN ARO ACE AND DON’T FIGHT ME ON THIS ONE! I WANT TO GO ON ADVENTURES WITH MY EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BADASS ACE SCIENCE GIRL OKAY? Image result for asexual gif

#5: Biggest disappointment

It actually physically pains me to say this, but unfortunately, Solitaire by Alice Oseman was a huge disappointment for me. And that’s because I absolutely adore her comic, Heartstopper, and she’s a really awesome person! The story itself just didn’t stick with me though, even when I really wanted it to.

#6: Biggest surprise

And, because of #5, Radio Silence by the same author ended up being the biggest surprise because I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I was so freaked out when I first started, scared I wouldn’t like it because I really, REALLY wanted to – and I did! *cheers* PLUS THE COVER IS STUNNING!

#7: Favourite new author (debut or new to you)

You know, this question is a killer. I have so many authors that I’m a huge fan of now – but I guess I’ll have to say it’s Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar – the author of The Map of Salt and Stars! Yeah, I may be biased, but honestly, POC authors hardly get any support; especially Arab-American authors.

#8: Newest fictional crush

…What have you done.

Do you really want me going on a rant here?

Because Roën from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi has captured my heart and refuses to let it go SEND HELP GUYS–

I LOVE MY MORALLY-GREY CHARACTERS A LITTLE TOO MUCH, YOU SEE.

#9: Newest favourite character

Bliss Lai from I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman. She?? She’s just the coolest person ever?? And such a queen?? SHE DESERVES HER OWN NOVELLA!

#10: Book that made you cry

The Map of Salt and Stars again–it just hit too close to home, fellas.

#11: Book that made you happy

What do you mean by ‘happy’ all the books I read make me wanna sob for several reasons aaaaaa

Okay, this one isn’t technically a book, but it’s a comic – Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. It’s the cutest and fluffiest little thing ever and I absolutely adore it!! Reading it makes me feel all fuzzy and cozy. 💖

#12: Favourite book to movie adaptation you saw this year

I haven’t watched many this year, actually, but I do have a list of a few that are coming out soon! The Hate U Give is one. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is another. I’ve also heard that Love, Simon is great too, but I still need to read the book first!

#13: Favourite review you’ve written so far

Hm, I’m guessing it’s my review for Tyler Johnson Was HereI remember being really sentimental when writing it. I also have another review coming up to that I’m proud of – it’ll most likely be the one after this post!

#14: Most beautiful book cover you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Can’t choose, so I’m gonna give two: first, The Map of Salt and Stars. (Yes, again. I finally found the book for me. Allow me to bask in that glory). The cover holds so much meaning. The border has the design of a masjid entrance. There’s a translation of the English title into Arabic in the background. And the sky is dotted with bright stars and that gives me hope and fills me with happiness! Am I cheesy? Hell yeah. Sue me. (Just kidding. I’m broke. Don’t do this to me guys.)

The second one is Tyler Johnson Was Here. I’m a sucker for flowers – have you seen how beautiful they look, surrounding Tyler like that? It’s such a soft and poignant cover, I adore it.

#15: What books do you need to read by the end of the year

There’s definitely a bunch of series I need to finish by the end of this year:

There you have it – my mid-year book freak out.

Wait. I missed the freak out.

AAAAHHHHHH

Related image

There, fixed it.

Stay creative,

Angel

All Things Bookish | Review | I’ll Give You the Sun

“A broken heart is an open heart.”

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Title: I’ll Give You the Sun

Author: Jandy Nelson

Publisher: Dial Books

Genre: Romance / Contemporary / Young Adult / LGBTQIAP+

Page number: 371

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them. 

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. 

The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.


🏳️‍🌈 – Pride Month Read #5

[5/5]

Trigger warning: Suicide attempt.

*screams* THIS BOOK IS EVERYTHING I COULD HAVE EVER WANTED AND MORE!! It’s a quirky novel bursting with rainbows and confetti but also ANGST. (*dramatic music*)

(SELF-PORTRAIT: Angel crying tears of stardust)

I’ll Give You the Sun is a magical book. The writing is musical and artsy and nothing less than pure creativity. I like how it takes you by surprise, just springing up all this prose out of nowhere, but its suits the characters’ thought processes so much that I adored it.

This book revolves around a pair of twins: Noah and Jude, who love each other deeply, but are not immune to ugly, green jealousy that bubbles under the surface, threatening to explode. They wreck each other, but they also strive to fix their mistakes—especially Jude.

“She scoots over so we’re shoulder to shoulder. This is us. Our pose. The smush. It’s even how we are in the ultrasound photo they took of us inside Mom and how I had us in the picture Fry ripped up yesterday. […] When I don’t draw us like this, I draw us as half-people.”

The sibling dynamic is so freaking realistic. It’s so sad how Jude and Noah each feel as though their parents have favourites. Noah is convinced that their father prefers Jude, and Jude realises that her mother possibly loves Noah more than her. This causes a lot of stress and envy between them that it eventually explodes and causes them to do terrible things to each other. Thus begins our conflict.

☀️ Noah Sweetwine

“You’re remaking the world, Noah. Drawing by drawing.”

Oh. My. God.

I’ve met very few characters that can match Noah’s unique and artistic narrative voice. He’s got these little quirks that are simply adorable! He compares his mother’s soul to a sunflower, turns people into animals to showcase their characteristics…he basically speaks in art. That’s how much it means to him.

Noah also deeply cares about his family, even if he doesn’t show it. He cares so much that he goes to great lengths to keep it together after it almost falls apart; he doesn’t want to lose more people than he already has. He’s just a kid who wants his own happy ending even when things around him are crumbling.

“Because I can see people’s souls sometimes when I draw them, I know the following: Mom has a massive sunflower for a soul so big there’s hardly any room in her for organs. Jude and me have one soul between us that we have to share a tree with its leaves on fire. And Dad has a plate of maggots for his.”

…Okay, well, maybe he doesn’t like his dad a whole lot, but hey, that’s perfectly understandable considering how he acts towards him. *shrug*

Noah knows he likes guys. Can he tell anyone? Not really, considering he gets constantly bullied anyway. But everything just seems to fade when he falls in love with Brian; my adorable son who loves space and meteors and stars and that’s just so cute??

“He carries pieces of the galaxy around in a bag.”

Brian and Noah hit it off real good. They both understand each other, they look out for each other. Two boys in a wide, scary world; but they are unafraid. (Or, at least, they don’t show it.)

The romance is so delightful?? And endearing?? They click together so well and although their story is full of bumps, their character arcs are cleverly-portrayed and well-written. You can see how much they’ve changed over the years and how they learn from their mistakes. There’s a lot of pain and misunderstanding, but there’s also unfathomable love deep inside them that they can’t contain and IT’S. FREAKIN’. CUTE.

“I love you,” I say to him, only it comes out, “Hey.”

“So damn much,” he says back, only it comes out, “Dude.”

I know I’m including too many quotes but this book is so quotable, okay? I CAN’T GET OVER NOAH OR BRIAN OR THEIR ROMANCE AND I HONESTLY NEED MORE OF IT!!

☀️ Jude “CJ/Calamity Jude” Sweetwine

“It’s time for second chances. It’s time to remake the world.”

Ah, Jude. Jude, who has a very complex childhood, filled with emotions and peer pressure and the desire to prove her mother wrong, that she can be as good as she wants her to be, instead of just the kid she accidentally leaves at a museum once. (Er, was it a museum or…?)

Jude makes a lot of mistakes in her early teen years, there’s no denying that at all. But she tells the second half of the story, so we learn how regretful and upset she is about what she’s done, about how she struggles to make it right. Seeing the consequences of her actions breaks her every time, and, in search of a solution, she goes to an eccentric Colombian artist and asks him to tutor her. (Their relationship was so touching and so hilarious at the same time, I loved it.)

Jude deeply believes in everything her superstitious grandmother left her before she died; instructions for good luck and solutions to heart-break and how to tell if someone loves you in a “Bible” that she wrote. Jude will readily put onions in her pocket and slip strange rocks under her pillow if her grandmother instructs her to. (By the way, she talks to her grandmother’s ghost throughout the book and I find that so upsetting. She misses her so much that she can’t let go. *sobs*)

How to get over heart-breaking character scenes:

you don’t.

But her grandma’s hilarious, seriously. Just look at this:

“She continues. ‘You look like that fella, you know, whomsamacallit, Reece’s Pieces.’

‘Eminem?’”

Then Jude meets Oscar, and everything is a spiral of confusion and tears and unconditional love from there. This boy is one hot mess but you can’t not love him. He’s witty and flirty and incredibly daring, yet so lost. He messes around and does stupid stuff to take out his grief,  but after meeting Jude, he realises that he really does need to mend his ways for good. It shows that even the most broken people can turn over a new leaf.

“A little bit of this. A little bit of that. Brown eye. Green eye. Crooked nose, crooked mouth. Lunatic smile. Chipped tooth. Scar here, scar there. It’s a puzzle.”

Their romance is such a wild ride but it also has these sweet and slow moments where they open up to each other. They both have regrets and wish to turn for the better, and they’re both so important in the other’s character development. I loved the take on the concept of soulmates too! I know it’s sorta cheesy but I find it to be such an intriguing concept when done well, and Jandy Nelson has definitely done it well!

Basically, I’m trash for this book, and I’m so happy Hana and Ellie told me to read it (no, no, they were actually like “*gasp* YOU HAVEN’T READ THIS??” so I did the light-reflecting-off-glasses-anime-thing and said “WATCH ME” but, you know, same thing) because this has so quickly climbed its way to the top of my “beauties-of-2018” list!! It’s so good it shines like glittery…confetti…or something. (Oof, that sounded better in my head. Better leave the fluttery descriptions to Noah and Jude.)

Have you read I’ll Give You the Sun? How did you feel about it?

Stay creative,

Angel

All Things Bookish | Review | Anger is a Gift

“It’s like people want me to be this version of a person that isn’t me. Like, always ready to fight and march and rally, and I don’t even get to be myself.”
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Title: Anger is a Gift

Author: Mark Oshiro

Publisher: Tor Teen

Genre: Contemporary / Young Adult / LGBTQIAP+

Page number: 463

 

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.


🏳️‍🌈 – Pride Month Read #4

[5/5]

Trigger warning: racism, police brutality, violence, murder.

You know how schools make it obligatory to read books like Pride and Prejudice and Julius Caesar?

Well, if this book isn’t on every school’s reading list soon enough, I think I might flip a table.

Anger is a Gift is the story of Morris Jeffries Jr., often called “Moss”: a black, gay kid who wants to live a normal life. His anxiety disorder worries him enough (and I honestly loved that rep, especially because I could relate to it so much) so he definitely doesn’t want to go looking for trouble. Unsurprisingly, though, that’s precisely what he gets: trouble on top of more trouble on top of more trouble.

Seriously, the world is a messed-up place.

This novel has the widest range of diverse characters I’ve ever seen! Besides Moss, we have a whole list of characters that are part of a minority community:

✨ Esperanza – lesbian

✨ Javier Perez – Guatemalan; gay

✨ Njemile – Nigerian; lesbian

✨ Shawna – bisexual

✨ Reginald “Reg” Phillips – disabled

✨ Kaisha – asexual

✨ Rawiya – Muslima

✨ Bits – non-binary

I was absolutely thrilled. While there are a lot of characters to catch up with, each of them has something unique about them that make them memorable to the readers. Not a lot of authors can pull that off, that’s for certain.

The events that go down in this book are downright terrifying, there’s no other way to put it. Moss and his friends are harshly discriminated against. Their very lives are put in danger. Some would say that this book borders on dystopian, but really, I wouldn’t put these atrocities past corrupt law enforcers. We live in a world where children of darker skin colour are labelled as “thugs”, where women who choose to wear the hijab are told to take it off, where disabled people’s needs are hardly ever catered too. This is practically an everyday reality, so I would say that nothing that happens in this book is far-fetched at all.

I’m really happy this book exists because it puts you on the spot. Expect no sugar-coating and no beating around the bush here. You will see racism, queerphobia, sexism, Islamophobia—the whole ugly deal. And you know what? I’m glad this book is long because it takes the time to address these issues.

This book talks about how crucial it is for us to make a stand, to take action; and more importantly, for privileged people to recognise the advantages they have and use it to help others. It’s a sad truth, but their voices will be heard more than others. That’s just how sick the world is.

Moss’s school is a messed-up place. It feels like the whole world is against them. It can’t even bother to provide proper equipment and new textbooks. Kids have to resort to sharing tattered books, or illegally downloading them on their devices. The situation is so bad that even the teachers are complaining. And the sad truth is that many schools are like that. Moss and his friends have to go through so much just to earn a basic education.

“So, the big question is,” said Moss, “do we go to a prison or a school?”

At one point, their school announces “random” locker searches. If you’re like me, then you rolled your eyes at that. We all know how “random” this is going to get. In a nutshell, if you’re not white—tough luck, buddy. You’re suddenly – *gasp* — a suspect. Heck, a student gets assaulted over meds. The next day, metal detectors are installed, and another student gets injured. The next thing you know, the police are involved, and the whole thing is just one big mess that endangers student lives. Some of them actually die. How terrifying  is it, going to school to study but returning with blood all over you? With bruises and cuts because the law that’s supposed to protect you is actually what’s hurting you?

This book is a masterpiece among masterpieces. It portrays the struggles of marginalised people so well. Although the characters will never be the same after the events in this book, they come out stronger than ever and it’s so heart-warming to see them take a stand for themselves and their loved ones. Friend for friend, mother for son, partner for partner. 2018 is looking so good with books like these.

Have you read Anger is a Gift? Would you like to? Feel free to let me know what you think!

Stay creative,

Angel