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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!)


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!

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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!)


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.



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.”




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.’”




(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.”


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,


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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)


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,


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

“A broken heart is an open heart.”



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


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.’


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,


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.”


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


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,


All Things Bookish | Review | A Thousand Perfect Notes

“What Beck Keverich wants most in the world is to cut off his own hands –


let a girl named August

teach him how to



Title: A Thousand Perfect Notes

Author: C.G. Drews

Publisher: Orchard Books

Genre: Contemporary / Young Adult / Romance

Page number: 282



Synopsis (from Goodreads)

An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?


Trigger warning: child abuse.

Today is a good day to review a book that crushed my heart into teeny tiny powdery pieces. 🙃

This book is The Lion King sad, and I think that every person who has ever created content can relate to it. I especially love that this book isn’t just about passions and how they can take over your life; it’s also about parents living their passions through their children. This happens so often that it’s frustrating, particularly if the child isn’t into what their parent wants them to do.

The ‘Maestro’, as Beck calls her, is not only trying to do just that, but she’s also abusive. She’s convinced her son is worthless unless he can play the piano as well as her. And this woman is never satisfied. The slightest slip-up could have her in a fit of blind rage. The way they live can’t even be described as “home”—it’s simply a dictatorship.

Beck Keverich

“What he wants most in the world is to cut off his own hands.”

This is the first line in the book. Really, how upsetting is that? Beck’s lived under The Maestro’s regime for so long that he believes this is his only relief.

Beck is a quiet person. He does whatever he can to avoid trouble. He also desperately seeks the approval of his mother, which is impossible to get. All he can do to avoid being brutally beaten is play the piano: from five a.m. to eight a.m., and after school as well. There’s just no escape. And while Beck, under much different circumstances, would have liked playing the piano, The Maestro’s treatment is enough to make him afraid of it. She makes him play famous pieces and then proceeds to say that he never gets it right, that he can never be as good as she was. In reality, Beck is actually putting together his own tune in his head. His fingers tap it out restlessly, and yet he can never play it, or The Maestro would probably end him.

At the same time, Beck protects his little sister, Joey, from the cruelty of their mother. He knows that, if she ever gave up on him, she would move straight to her. Beck’s love for his rowdy little sister is heart-wrenching. In return for her happiness, he has to endure endless pain and torment, but he never once takes this out on Joey. In fact, she’s always at the forefront of his mind. *cries* MY SELFLESS BABY!!

Not to mention that Beck, more than once, contemplates reporting his mother for child abuse, but he always ends up telling himself that this is his own mother. Can he call the police on his own parent? This is a conflict that many abused children face. They’re betrayed by the person who’s supposed to take care of them, and yet they are reluctant to tell anyone because they don’t want them behind bars. How devastating is that?

I adore Beck. My small fragile baby goes through so much pain and it is heart-breaking. But what I related to the most is how he’s never satisfied with his work. He never thinks it’s good enough. He’s always pressuring himself, telling himself that it’s horrid, that he’s doing something wrong. If that ain’t me. Every single content creator has felt or feels like this at some point. It’s so annoying?? The smallest thing can throw us into a never-ending spiral of “But is it good enough?” and “No one will ever like this.”

This is the battle that Beck has to fight every day. He doesn’t believe in himself because his mother does everything she can to degrade him.



August Frey

“You are worth more than a thousand perfect notes.”

Enter August. A bundle of sunshine and rainbows and glittery confetti and chocolate frogs. (Or, you know, real frogs. Who can ever say no to these little cuties?)

August is the exact opposite of Beck. She’s an uncontrollable storm of colour and emotion. She’s bursting with life and fantastical daydreams. I’ll bet that every time she smiles, a kitten is born. This is my soft adorable August.

I love love love her relationship with Beck. She never gives up on him. Heck, she takes him out for cake in the middle of a school day just because she can! And she’s not naïve, either. She understands that life is full of strife (oh hey I rhymed there) but she’s still willing to stand up to nature-hating jerks and make Beck smile. She insists that he is a talented pianist even when he doesn’t believe it. She supports him all the way even when he’s on the verge of giving up. She even does their group project and puts his name on it! What?? We all need an August in our life.

This book has the cutest, quirkiest romance ever. It’s not the wild, burning kind, or the sudden, spontaneous kind. It takes its time and it’s sweet in various little ways. This is the kind of romance I love reading about; not everything is about physical attraction. There’s also having faith in your partner and cheering them up and pushing them forward when they’re struggling and showing them the stars. I was almost losing hope in YA romance until I picked up this book, so THANK YOU, CAIT! YOU HAVE RESTORED GLORY TO ROMANTIC THEMES IN YA BOOKS!

And that ending?? Can it get any sadder?? Well, it’s more bittersweet than just upsetting, but the irony of what happens to Beck at the end is not lost on me. *squints at Cait* I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.

So, yeah. This book destroyed me. I’m convinced the author is brewing some more evil to slip into her next novel, The Boy Who Steals Houses. But am I still going to read it?

Hell. Yes.

Tell me your thoughts about this book, and check out Cait’s blog at paperfury.com! Seriously. Her posts are gold.

Stay creative,


All Things Bookish | Review | Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

“Some minds can’t be changed, no matter how much reason and humanity you throw their way.”



Title: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

Author: Jaye Robin Brown

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Contemporary / Young Adult / Romance / LGBTQIAP+

Page number: 419


Synopsis (from Goodreads)

It’s going to take a miracle for Joanna Gordon to get through senior year.

Despite being the daughter of a well-known radio evangelist, Jo has never hidden the fact that she’s gay, and her dad has always supported her. But that was back in Atlanta. Now her dad the reverend has married wife number three, and they’ve all moved to small-town Rome, Georgia. When Jo’s dad asks her to lie low for the rest of the year in the hopes that it will help him and his new wife settle in, Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although when God closes a closet door, he opens a window. Everything becomes so easy for Jo once she rebrands herself as a straight girl. No one gives her odd looks. Her new stepfamily likes her. She even gets in with the popular crowd.

And that’s how she meets Mary Carlson, the ultimate temptation. Even though Jo knows this girl is completely off-limits, she just can’t get her out of her mind. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if Jo’s starting to fall for Mary Carlson. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

Lord, have mercy.

Jo’s in for one hell of a year.

🏳️‍🌈 – Pride Month Read #3


Trigger warning: homophobia, ableism.

This is one of the books that I’m kinda…meh about. It was on my TBR for a while, and then I decided to pick it up for Pride Month because why not?

Now, the lesbian rep was great. I found the relationship between Jo and Mary cute—it wasn’t too fast, they had their meaningful moments, and they generally supported each other.

The one thing I didn’t like about their romance was the conflict itself. It seemed to spring up from nowhere. The reason Jo and Mary even have these difficulties between them is because Mary keeps trying to force Jo out of the closet (which Jo can’t do because her father told her not to for the sake of his new wife’s homophobic family apparently; also, don’t force someone to out themselves!), which causes Jo to keep unnecessarily lying to her, while fully aware of the fact that Mary hates being lied to.

I was just confused throughout this because a lot of tension and drama could have been avoided had Jo simply sat Mary down and told her everything. Simple communication could have solved her problem, or at least avoided the consequences of her lying.

This book, however, does tackle homophobia, so that gives it plus points. Joanna faces her fears and stands up to her homophobic family—including other jerks—which I found empowering.

Other than those little good tidbits here and there, everything else was average. The plot was predictable: girl meets girl, girl likes girl, girl and girl get in relationship, conflict, self-reflection, resolution, happily ever after. It’s like every other YA contemporary out there.

But my main problem is with the way B.T.B., Mary’s intellectually-disabled twin, was treated. This book does not rep intellectually-disabled people well. There are a bunch of reviews that can explain this better than I do, like Natasha’s. (I do recommend you check it out, it’s very eye-opening feedback.)

B.T.B.’s disability, first of all, is never directly named. All we know is that, while in the womb, his sister’s umbilical cord wrapped around his throat and caused brain damage. I really, really don’t like how the characters treated him. B.T.B. is degraded, seen as simply a “child”, and sometimes even as a burden. Jo herself makes a comment upon meeting him, saying that she doesn’t think he might be in her honours classes. How cruel can you get?

The rep itself, as I mentioned, isn’t proper to begin with, which angered me because anyone unaware about intellectual disabilities will get the wrong idea while reading this! He’s portrayed as a child in a teenage body. This is not how intellectual people are and Natasha explains this very well—they can learn to drive, they have friends, they have their own lives to live. It really bothers me when a disability is badly portrayed in a book, because this only further spreads misconceptions about it. If you’re going to rep a disability, do it right. Research, and most importantly, talk to people with these experiences. B.T.B. could have been portrayed in a much better way, but he sadly isn’t.

Have you read Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit? Let me know what you think!

Stay creative,