Review: All American Muslim Girl


All American Muslim Girl By: Nadine Jolie Courtney

My Rating: 5 Stars

Allie Abraham has it all going for her—she’s a straight-A student, with good friends and a close-knit family, and she’s dating cute, popular, and sweet Wells Henderson. One problem: Wells’s father is Jack Henderson, America’s most famous conservative shock jock…and Allie hasn’t told Wells that her family is Muslim. It’s not like Allie’s religion is a secret, exactly. It’s just that her parents don’t practice and raised her to keep her Islamic heritage to herself. But as Allie witnesses ever-growing Islamophobia in her small town and across the nation, she begins to embrace her faith—studying it, practicing it, and facing hatred and misunderstanding for it. Who is Allie, if she sheds the façade of the “perfect” all-American girl? What does it mean to be a “Good Muslim?” And can a Muslim girl in America ever truly fit in?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger Warning(s): Islamophobia, racism, discrimination, grief, harassment, and panic attacks.

Reading Challenge(s): Book 4 for the #Pondathon. Book 4 for #StartOnYourShelfathon. Monthly pick for The Reading Clowns book club.

Rep: Allie is a Jordanian-Circassian White Muslim. Wells has anxiety. Allie’s mother converted to Islam before marriage. Samira is a Malaysian Muslim. Fatima is Black, she converted to Islam at a young age. Shamsah is an Indian Queer Muslim. Leila is a half-Egyptian and half-Palestinian Muslim. Dua is an Arab (I think?) Muslim.

My Thoughts Before Reading: I was weary about reading this book. I wasn’t sure whether the Muslim rep would be done well. 

I changed my mind when I heard from other Muslim reviewers that the rep was well done. I am happy to say that I loved it!

What I Liked: I adored how nuanced the rep was! It so nice to read about the many Muslim characters. As well as the dua’s, prayers, Ramadan, and Eid. There were discussions about impostor syndrome, the idea of a ‘good’ Muslim, women not being respected at the mosque and such. 

I loved reading Allie learning about Islam! It was nice to read about her learning Arabic, attending a Quran group, joining the Muslim group at her high school, and most importantly standing up for herself. Allie’s story hits close to home, as I also started to learn about Islam when I was a teenager. You can tell that author addressed everything with care.

I loved Allie! She was an amazing character. Her journey with Islam was relatable. It was great to read about her growth! How she learnt about Islam, and that she no longer wanted to keep it a secret that she was practicing.

Allie’s relationship with her family play a large influence on how she viewed Islam. Her mother is a convert, so she was more open to Islam than Allie’s father. Allie’s father was raised in an extremely strict environment, hence why he doesn’t practice Islam and doesn’t want his family to either.

I adored Allie’s mother but I had a very hard time liking her father. I found him to be quite unreasonable and unfair. Allie’s father does (eventually) support her decision to practice Islam. Her parents even fast with her during the last few days of Ramadan. I loved reading about their growth!

I loved reading about Allie’s Quran group! It was nice to read about their friendship, and them learning Islam. I found their sessions to be informative. You really do learn something new everyday! My favourite friendship was Dua and Allie.

I really liked Allie and Wells together! Despite what the synopsis says, Wells father isn’t revealed until about 20% in. When Allie starts a relationship with Wells, she has no idea that his father is Islamophobic. Obviously they had a lot of struggles in the beginning, though they were able to work everything out. I liked Wells and how open he was to Allie practicing. He even educated himself on Islam.

My Criticism(s): Absolutely nothing!

What I’m Looking Forward To: More Muslim books!

Conclusion: Overall I absolutely adored All American Muslim Girl! I highly recommend.

Review: The Paper & Hearts Society

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The Paper & Hearts Society by: Lucy Powrie

My Rating: 4 Stars

Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in. She doesn’t want to go to parties – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book.

It’s like she hasn’t found her people …

Then Tabby joins a club that promises to celebrate books. What could go wrong? EVERYTHING – especially when making new friends brings out an AWKWARD BUZZING feeling all over her body.

But Olivia, Cassie, Henry and Ed have something that makes Tabby come back. Maybe it’s the Austen-themed fancy-dress parties, or Ed’s fluffy cat Mrs Simpkins, or could it be Henry himself …

Can Tabby let her weird out AND live THE BEST BOOKISH LIFE POSSIBLE?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger Warning(s): Bullying, harassment, cyber stalking, grief, and panic attacks.

Reading Challenge(s): Book 12 for #StartOnYourShelfathon.

Rep: Tabby has anxiety. Olivia is demisexual. I think that Cassie and Olivia may be POC, but I’m not sure. If anyone knows whether or not the girls are POC, please let me know in the comments. 

My Thoughts Before Reading: I was really excited about reading this book! I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it!

What I Liked: I absolutely enjoyed reading about The Paper & Hearts Society (a very fitting name for a book club)! I’ve never read a book with such fun bookish activities! The road trip to Bath was my favourite bookish activity to read about.

I loved all the characters and their interactions with one-another! I especially loved Tabby and Ed’s relationship. I could feel Olivia’s excitement whenever she came up with a club activity. Henry was sweet. And while I took some time to warm up to Cassie, I absolutely loved her development!

I really enjoyed Tabby’s character development! Tabby is still reeling from the bullying she faced at her previous school. She has several panic attacks throughout the book. And blames herself for getting bullied.

Tabby gains self confidence and is able to confront her trauma. Thanks to her new friends. Especially Ed, who is her best friend.

The bullying story line was extremely well done! It was raw and realistic. The aftermath was inevitable but I didn’t mind. I felt that it was well written and worked with the plot.

Initially Tabby has a good relationship with everyone expect Cassie. Who is convinced that Tabby is going to betray them and destroy their friend group. Cassie has her own reasons for believing this. Though Cassie pushes past this and accepts Tabby in their group. I loved it when Cassie opened up to Tabby! 

Like I mentioned earlier Tabby has an excellent relationship with Ed and Olivia. Both of whom accept her right away. Henry’s relationship with Tabby veers in the romantic direction.

I really enjoyed reading about their friendship and eventually their romance. They were so cute together!

I loved reading about Tabby’s relationship to with her grandmother! Her Gran was so cool and a joy to read about! Her Gran was the only active family member to read about. Her parents were still living at their house wrapping up the sale and moving. Her Gran is a large part of the reason Tabby continues to befriend The Paper & Hearts Society.

My Criticism(s): My only criticism is that I think Tabby should’ve told her family about Jess.

What I’m Looking Forward To: Reading the sequel Read with Pride.

Conclusion: Overall I really enjoyed this book! I highly recommend.          

Review: Love from A to Z

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Love from A to Z by: S. K. Ali

My Rating: 4 Stars

A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger Warning(s): Islamophobia, racism, discrimination, grief, harassment, mention of drone attacks and murder.

Reading Challenge(s): Book 1 for the #Pondathon and for The Theme Thieves: Happiness. Monthly pick for The Reading Clowns book club. 

Rep: Zayneb is West Indian, Caribbean-American. Adam is Chinese Canadian and Finnish. Both Adam and Zayneb are Muslim’s. Zayneb’s mother and Adam’s family converted to Islam. 

My Thoughts Before Reading: I was a little weary about reading this. I DNFed the author’s first book Saints and Misfits due to not meshing with the writing style.

Though I still wanted to give it a try for the Muslim rep. I am very happy to say that I loved Love from A to Z!

What I Liked:  I loved reading about Doha! I could feel myself walking with Zayneb, exploring the area, and could even smell the food.

The writing style was superb! I loved reading the journal entries. I thought it was an excellent way to distinguish between Adam and Zayneb. 

I adored the Muslim rep! It was realistic and relatable. Some of my favourite scenes were discussions about Islam. For example the prayer scene with Adam’s family. I loved how they came as a family to pray and make dua together. It reminded me off what I do with my own family.

I loved how close Zayneb was to her family! While you don’t get to read about her entire family (her brother and sister live elsewhere), you could tell they are close to one another.

Zayneb’s aunt is the family member that you read about the most. I loved reading about their interactions! I liked that Zayneb’s aunt encouraged her ideals and gave some really good advice.

Zayneb’s friend group is a bit off a mess in the beginning. They are all still reeling after Zayneb gets suspended. They do bounce back with a new member to their cause. I enjoyed all their interactions! Especially Zayneb and Kavi’s.

I really enjoyed the plan to take down Mr. Fencer! Islamophobia is nothing new and every Muslim faces it. However, it takes a lot of courage to face Islamophobic people head on and take it down. The strength that Zayneb and her friends had was amazing! And it was depicted in such a way that it was relatable. They weren’t always strong and sometimes they were scared. Regardless they pushed on and succeeded!

Zayneb was relatable. The angry part of me really resonated with Zayneb. I agreed with all the points she made and felt some of them deep within my soul. Particularly the discussion about drone attacks that she had with Adam’s friends. Throughout Love from A to Z Zayneb does learn to hone her anger. Rather than blowing up at everything. For example, confronting those people at the gym. I loved reading about her development and enjoyed the execution!

I loved Adam and his family! They were so close knit and had an amazing family dynamic. Especially Adam and his sister. I liked reading about Adam’s friends! Especially Connor. They were close knit in a similar way Adam is to his family.

The flashbacks were really sweet and heartbreaking! Most of them had Adam’s mother, who passed away because of MS. S. K. Ali did an excellent job tackling grief. It was also great to read about how and why Adam’s family converted to Islam. 

I related to Adam quite a bit. He was calm and caring. Something that I always strive to be.

Adam has MS. His family doesn’t find out for a majority of the book. In fact Zayneb knew before his family did. With Zayneb’s push Adam finally tells his family and they agree to stand by him. Zayneb does as well. I loved Adam confronted his fears and realized that he can be happy whilst having MS!

I don’t know that much about MS so I can’t speak in regards to how well it was depicted. What I can say is that I felt the author did a good job explaining the disease.

I loved Adam and Zayneb’s relationship! They brought out the best in each other and were so cute together. I was so happy when I read in the epilogue that they got married! 

My Criticism(s): Absolutely nothing!

What I’m Looking Forward To: More books by this author!

Conclusion: Overall I loved this book! I highly recommend. 

Review: Collateral Damage

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Collateral Damage by: Taylor Simonds

My Rating: 4 Stars

Power. Courage. Invincibility. The marks of a true hero.

Meg Sawyer has none of these things.

Meg has never stopped a moving bus with her bare hands, been bitten by a radioactive insect, or done anything moderately resembling saving the world. She doesn’t have to. She’s a background citizen, a nobody, one of the swarms of faceless civilians of Lunar City–where genetically enhanced superhumans straight out of the comics have thwarted evil for years.

For as long as the Supers have existed, Meg has had one goal: to not become a casualty in their near-daily battles for justice. And for the last seventeen years, she’s managed to do just that. Sure, her minimum-wage job at the local coffee shop isn’t great, she can’t even leave her apartment without loading herself up with protective gear, and her car was just hijacked to throw at a supervillain (again), but she’s not dead yet.

But when Meg accidentally finds one of the city’s perfect, invincible protectors murdered under extremely suspicious circumstances, her whole “innocent bystander” strategy falls apart. After being coerced by his determined girlfriend into a mission to help prevent the deaths of the remaining Supers, Meg finds herself forced into the foreground of a story she never wanted to be part of-one that challenges everything she thought she knew about both her city and herself.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger Warning(s): Grief and gun violence. 

Rep: Oliver is Korean. Sanjeet is an Indian. Penny is a Latina.

My Synopsis: Meg lives a regular life. She works at a coffee shop and lives on her own. She also has her GED. Meg doesn’t really have any hobbies. Her primary concern is putting food on the table and protecting herself from various superhero fights.

To please her boss Meg agrees to deliver some paperwork. Though Meg forgets to do it in the daytime and has to do it at night. After sending in the paperwork she crosses paths with one of the Supers. Much to Megs surprise the two of them get along. Said Super even agrees to help her financially. 

The day after Meg’s building is set on fire and on her way to safety, she gets into a minor accident. Fearing someone may be hurt she moves around the wreckage only to find the Super dead.

Confused and in shock Meg decides to go to the police and report what she saw. On the way she runs into her former neighbor Juniper, who is the Super’s ex-girlfriend. The fireman produce the Super’s dead body making Juniper believe he died in the fire. Meg tells her otherwise. And thus gets dragged into a conspiracy along with her best friend Oliver.

Book Format: Collateral Damage is written in first person limited following Meg. There is one chapter that is narrated in third person limited following Oliver. There are table of contents and chapter numbers. 

Where I Heard About This Book: I found the author through Twitter sharing her arc copies. The cover drew me in and I decided to read the synopsis. When I saw that it was a superhero book I knew I had to read it!

My Thoughts Before Reading: I was so excited to read Collateral Damage!

I was really hoping that I would enjoy it because I usually don’t like characters like Meg. I’m not a big fan of cynics in real life and I wasn’t sure what I would think. It didn’t help that most reviewers were comparing Renegades to Collateral Damage. Which I DNFed

I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

What I Liked: I absolutely adored Meg! Her snark was so good and I found her to be relatable. While not always the most kind, Meg was compassionate and brave. I’m really surprised that there aren’t more characters like her. Especially in Superhero media.

I felt that her reactions to situations were realistic. Not everyone will faun over the hero and will in some cases be frustrated. Also no one likes getting dragged into something they didn’t ask for.

Meg and Oliver’s friendship was so cute! I loved how close they were. And it was nice that there weren’t any romantic feelings between the two of them. Their relationship was strictly platonic.

Juniper was so brilliant! When I read the synopsis I was expecting a normal person with a typical office job. Juniper actually works for the police. In the Super department. After Meg tells her about her boyfriends murder Juniper forces Meg to help her. As Meg is also apart of the whole situation and the only witness.

It took sometime for Juniper and Meg to be on the same page. Juniper spends a majority of the book talking over and bossing Meg around. Despite all of this the two become close friends.

Sanjeet was so much fun to read about! I liked that he was a hardworking nerd and compassionate towards others. Specifically Meg in the beginning. Penny was a little rough around the edges but she grew on me.

The world building was unique! And very much rooted in real society. I thought it was cool that the Super’s were switched around in intervals. And the whole concept of specific serums giving those powers.

There is no romance whatsoever. The only character that had any romantic feelings was Juniper. And unfortunately her boyfriend is found dead in the beginning. Instead Collateral Damage focused on the friendship between all the characters.

The humor was on point! Initially I thought that Meg would be the only source of humor. When I started reading I found out that it wasn’t just Meg but most of the characters and situations. I laughed out loud at several points!

The thing I appreciated the most after reading was how character driven Collateral Damage was. I find that a lot of superhero stories fail because they are plot driven rather than character driven. And considering how most of the science is made up to fit those stories, it makes more sense to have them be character driven instead.

My Criticism(s): Collateral Damage was very predictable. I saw most of the plot coming. Which isn’t bad and was most likely the intention. I think you can still enjoy the story regardless.

What I’m Looking Forward To: I’m assuming because of number 1 on the cover we might be getting a sequel. Which I would definitely read! I’d love to see where all the characters are and how their coping with the entire city being Supers.

Conclusion: Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Collateral Damage! I highly recommend it.              

Review: The Black Veins

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The Black Veins by: Ashia Monet

My Rating: 4 Stars

Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?

She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.

Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger Warning(s): Content warnings are included in the book.

Rep: Blythe is Black and bisexual. Cordelia is British Chinese and will soon identify as queer and questioning. Daniel is white and cishetallo. Antonio is Puerto Rican and will soon identify as demiromantic, demisexual, and only attracted to boys. Storm is Black and straight. Caspian is trans and asexual. Jay is Black and bisexual. Katia is described as Middle Eastern. Jamie is white, non-binary, agender, and is attracted to females.

Disclaimer: I received this E-ARC via the author in exchange for an honest review. When Ashia put the E-ARC request form on Twitter, I was ecstatic! I wasn’t chosen as a part of the blog tour and saw this as an opportunity to read the arc. I am happy to say that not only was I chosen and I also really enjoyed The Black Veins!

My Synopsis: Blythe lives an ordinary life. Her parents own a coffee shop, which she also works at. Her twin sisters Lily and Lena keep the family on their toes. Her sort of friend Jamie keeps her company. This all changes the night Blythe and two other Guardians are spelled to walk off their roofs.

Her family calls their magical government and come to an agreement. In a few days Blythe will be leaving her family to go to Frost Glade. Blythe wants to spend more time with her family and Jamie. 

Two days before her scheduled departure a mysterious man attacks the coffee shop, kidnaps Blythe’s family and critically injures Jamie. Blythe finds herself caught up in a war that she wants nothing to do with. Upon Jamie’s suggestion, Blythe decides to take a road trip to gather the rest of the guardians. The end goal being to rescue her family.

Book Format: The Black Veins is written third person limited following Blythe. Before the actual story there is a table of contents and content warnings. There are also chapter numbers.

Where I Heard About This Book: I came across Ashia advertising The Black Veins. I was hooked when she promised a road trip story with no romance! And instead a large focus on family. 

I kept on eye out on Twitter for more information and came across the blog tour form and the E-ARC request form.

My Thoughts Before Reading: I remained ecstatic for The Black Veins! I had no doubt that I would really like it. I am happy to say that I was proven right! 

What I Liked: I loved the family aspect! Both blood and found. Blythe’s family was such a joy to read about! I loved how close they were. Blythe’s whole world is ripped apart when her family was kidnapped. You can really feel for and her situation. 

I really liked Jamie! They were awesome and so supportive of Blythe. You did get to learn some more information regarding the world building through Blythe explaining everything to Jamie. I hope that Jamie will make an appearance in the other books.

I admire Blythe! I have no idea how she managed to have a good head on her shoulders, while searching for her family. I loved how she was a photographer and has a very large appreciation for the arts. And that Blythe actually read like a teenager. She made some really dumb mistakes but owned up to them. Unlike so many YA books that have the adult mentality in the body of a teenager. Ashia really did an excellent job fleshing Blythe out!  

The guardians surprised me. To be honest I didn’t really have any expectations or any assumptions off what they would be like. Still I was not expecting them to be so unique or that diverse! I thoroughly enjoyed each guardian and their relationship to one-another.

Cordelia is the first guardian you meet. She’s very rude and a hacker, whose only goal is to get away from magic. While I really didn’t like her in the beginning, she grew on me. And had some of best character development I’ve ever seen! I loved her friendship with Blythe. 

Daniel is the second guardian, and he is a super magical genius. The only thing he lacks is social skills and knowledge about the world. I loved reading about his knowledge! And it was so much fun to read about the rest of the characters educating Daniel on the world/technology.

Antonio is a wonderful cook and the most supportive guardian. He’s extremely nice and can make friends with anyone! All the food that he made sounded amazing. I got hungry every now and then. I especially loved reading his interactions with Blythe. 

Storm is tough as nails and speaks her mind without holding back. Which I really appreciated. It was nice that she asked all the important questions. She’s quite secretive and is very caring.

Caspian is a ghost. He can easily move in and out of other places without getting caught. He’s very sarcastic and doesn’t like it when the characters don’t laugh at his jokes. I really liked reading about his development! And how he became more open.

Jay is definitely the most fun out of all the guardians. He is a flirt and spends most of the time denying magic. You know the least about him. I really liked how Ashia described him! I’ve never read about a Black character being called ‘Angelic’. It was so nice to read that! 

There is no romance! Instead a large focus on the slow burn friendship with the guardians. The road trip to Electric City takes up most of the book. While the guardians do still learn new information and continue searching for Blythe’s family, the characters spend a long time on the road. Just in case anyone doesn’t like journey books.

The world building is so cool! I love how the magic system is rooted within our world. I particularly enjoyed reading about the Tempore. A magical time warped forest. It was interesting to learn about the differences between The Black Veins and the Trident Republic. 

I particularly loved how humor! I didn’t know that there was a comedic aspect before I started reading. Considering the plot I didn’t think it would work, but it did. 

My Criticism(s)I found the pacing to be all over the place. Sometimes it was really fast, other times it was quite slow. It might’ve been better had I actually taken my time reading. The world building could sometimes get info dumpy. And I had a hard time remembering everything. 

What I’m Looking Forward To: The ending is a very brutal cliffhanger. I am excited to read the sequel. And learn more information about the characters and the political system.

I’m particularly anxious for information regarding the Trident Republic and the stone The Black Veins forcefully took. I’m curious to see how Katia and Oliver Walden are linked. 

Conclusion: Overall I thorough enjoyed The Black Veins! I highly recommend it. 

Review: The Candle and the Flame

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The Candle and the Flame by: Nafiza Azad

My Rating: 4 Stars

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population — except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Grief

Rep: Indian, Pakistani, and Arab characters. Other Asian ethnicities present. Hindu and Islam are some of the religions present. Along with those religions comes culture. Such as food and clothing. It is hinted that Bhavya is/was fat.

I received an ARC via the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. However this review is based on the final version. This review is written for the #TheCandleAndTheFlame street team and blog tour. 

Book 4 for The Theme Thieves: Diversity.

Fatima lives with her sister Sunaina. 8 years prior their parents were murdered by the Shayateen. The sisters have a tense but loving relationship since that day. Fatima’s life is fairly ordinary. She works as a messenger for Achal Kaur. And is close friends/family with the Alif sisters. Once Fatima finishes work she comes home and spends time with her sister. 

Amongst her regular customers is Firdaus who runs a bookstore. Though funnily enough Firdaus doesn’t actually sell any books. No one knows how he is the most successful book seller. That’s not the only things mysterious about Firdaus, no one knows much about him. And somehow Fatima knows that Firdaus isn’t human, but is in fact a djinn.

Much to Fatima’s confusion she knows weird tid bits of information as such. Like that attack 8 years ago, she knew she would survive due to her blood. Odd knowledge aside Fatima is very close to Firdaus. Treating him like her father. 

Fatima’s life takes a drastic turn when she meets Zulfikar, a djinn and Emir to Noor city. Rumors are spreading about a rebellion fighting against Maharajah Aarush and the Ifrit. Firdaus becomes involved and the incident drastically changes Fatima. For her safety Zulfikar takes Fatima to the palace for her safety. 

I’d seen The Candle and the Flame all over Twitter last year. While I was initially interested I moved on. It wasn’t until people were mentioning that the main character was a Muslim that I started to care. When Nafiza asked POC readers if they would like to read the arc for review I commented. Much to my surprise and delight I was approved! I ended up reading the final version because I didn’t get to the arc earlier. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

The Candle and the Flame is written in third person omniscient. There is a table of contents, a character list and chapter numbers. 

I loved how family both found and blood played a huge role! Fatima and Sunaina’s relationship while tense was loving and it showed. Bhavya’s love for her brother and nephew was so sweet! I especially loved the dynamic the Alif sisters had! Hand’s down some of my favourite characters.

The world building was rich in languages and culture! I could feel myself walking beside these characters and sometimes feel/taste the food. Nafiza’s writing style was fantastic. While the djinn world wasn’t fully explained I found it unique and interesting. I loved that it was a matriarchal society!

I really liked Fatima! I related quite a bit to her struggles and loved that she was strong in her own way. When Fatima became Fatima Ghazala I found it a bit strange seeing the narrative took a different turn to match this change. It felt like everything that made her Fatima was gone. As I read on this wasn’t the case, it simply felt like that in the beginning. Becoming Fatima Ghazala helped her further grow into her own.

Sunaina and Bhavya were a bit annoying in the beginning but they grew on me. It helped that I was able to read their perspectives. I liked how Sunaina realized that she wasn’t a supportive sister and decided to change that. In order to better support Fatima Ghazala.

Bhavya decided to make her own decisions and not let people dictate how she chose to live. Ultimately Bhayva didn’t completely overcome her insecurities but seems to continue to make the effort at the end. I would say that Bhayva’s character development was my favourite!

Aarush really wasn’t the brightest person let alone a king. He let people fool him for too long until it cost him dearly. I think people will grow very frustrated with him. Which I understand and I did too. However I did enjoy reading about his inner struggles. I felt it made him more flawed and human. At certain points he does stand up for what he believes and I respect that. I do like how in the end he actually plans to improve himself rather than remain stagnant.

The Alif sisters were a lovely addition! They were written so well and a main part of Fatima and Sunaina’s life. I related to Adila the most and loved her interactions with Fatima Ghazala!

Zulfikar surprised me! He doesn’t have the best introduction to Fatima and I thought that he would be written as many other YA heroes. I was sorely mistaken. When it comes down to it Zulfikar takes his job seriously and actually cares about those around him.

Zulfikar and Fatima Ghazala’s relationship was slow burn. I enjoyed that whilst they were attracted to each other, it wasn’t written in an annoying way. The progression in their relationship was done so well!

The Candle and the Flame is very much a character driven story. While there is an underlying plot, it’s not necessarily the main focus. It’s also very much a women dominated story. The larger focus is on the women and their character development. As well as their relationships to one-another.

As far as criticism’s go I would’ve loved some of the loser ends to have been tied up. Whilst I understand that’s also what makes the story realistic. I also would’ve loved to learn more about Al-Naar and the djinn’s. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed The Candle and the Flame! I highly recommend.       

Review: Hello, Sunshine


Hello, Sunshine by: Leila Howland

My Rating: 4 Stars

A Prep School Girl with a Hollywood Dream

Becca Harrington is a reject. After being rebuffed by every college on her list, she needs a fresh start, so she packs up everything and moves to LA, giving herself one year to land an acting gig or kill herself trying.

Unfortunately, not everything turns out as planned, and after a few grueling months, LA is looking like the worst idea ever. As hard as she tries, Becca can’t land an agent, she’s running out of cash, and her mom is hounding her to apply to more schools. In an act of desperation, Becca and her friend Marisol start posting short videos online—with the help of their adorable filmmaker neighbor, Raj—and the videos catch the attention of a TV producer. Could this be it? Her big break? Or will she have to move back home with nothing but some bad head shots and a monstrous credit-card bill?

Becca may not get the Hollywood ending she was hoping for, but perhaps she’ll learn there’s more than one way to achieve her dream.

Readers will love every page of this funny, romantic, aspirational, and ultimately triumphant novel about a girl who just wants to make it on her own.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Content Warning: A creepy neighbor who continues to harass and stalk the main character. There are some sex scenes but nothing explicit. And a nudity situation.

Book 2 for Monstrous March.

Becca and her boyfriend Alex are spending one last hoorah before Alex goes to college. All of the college’s that Becca applied for denied her. Upon her mother’s request Becca plans to look for a part time job whilst trying to became an actress. Much to her surprise Alex breaks up with her. Feeling lost Becca decides to move to LA and try to become an actress there.    

I had heard about Hello, Sunshine through Netgalley in 2017. I really liked the synopsis and heard good things, so I decided to purchase a copy. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it! The book is written in first person limited following Becca’s point of view. There are text messages, lists, as well as quotes from a book and online articles.

I really liked that this book is YA! I think this book would help so many teens before going into college. And it’s nice to see college YA. There are a lot of valuable lessons such as the value of work, a person’s worth, and money.

I really liked Becca! She was so happy and energetic. I rarely read about those types of characters and Becca felt so fresh and fun. Her growth throughout the Hello, Sunshine was amazing! I really enjoyed her standing up for herself. And learning and experiencing new things. Which in turn helped her grow and become a really good actress.

I loved the family aspect! Becca is really close to her mother and even her cousin Vivian. She had a fantastic relationship with her mother! I also appreciated that Becca didn’t mind that her father was out of the picture. As long as she had her mother she was all good. Becca’s mother plays a huge part in the story and in the decisions she makes. I wish more YA would bring in family.

I loved the friendship between Becca and Marisol! Marisol was also trying to become an actress. The two supported each other rather than tearing each other down. Which was so nice to read about! They had such a wholesome friendship which made the book all the more enjoyable.

I also really liked Raj! He was a good friend and a genuine person. His crush on Becca was so cute to read about. I did enjoy how it was slow burn. Also when Becca friendzoned Raj he came back and was cool with everything. They really did complement each other.

I did have some issues with Hello, Sunshine. I didn’t like that Raj got all giddy at the thought that he looked like a ‘criminal’. This didn’t feel realistic considering that he was an Indian. And Indian’s are primarily confused by ignorant people as Muslim’s therefore are terrorists.

While I’m happy that Becca got into California film school I am a bit muffed by it. I really thought that she would answer that question and grow even more. But that didn’t happen. I know that connections are everything and while I appreciated that aspect, I still would’ve liked to see her answer it. 

The conflicts at the end were weird. Marisol was rich and kept it a secret. And that whole thing with Raj kind of made sense but also felt thrown in there for some drama build-up. Not every contemporary needs that and this book could’ve done without it.

While I like Raj and Becca as a couple I’m not happy with how they got together. It read odd and felt rushed. And it affected how I felt about them as a couple. I think it would’ve been better had they gotten together earlier and maybe not had a conflict before.

Overall I really enjoyed Hello, Sunshine! I highly recommend.       


Review: Famous in a Small Town


Famous in a Small Town by: Emma Mills

My Rating: 4 Stars

For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends—loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for—she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival.

The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return.

What ensues is a journey filled with long-kept secrets, hidden heartbreaks, and revelations that could change everything—along with a possible fifth best friend: a new guy with a magnetic smile and secrets of his own.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Mention of car accident, mention of prison, mention of fatal accident, and taking credit for someone else’s work.

Sophie and her friends are preparing to enjoy their summer break. Much to the group’s surprise a new boy August moves in. August is the brother of Sophie’s neighbor. While working Sophie overhears her band teacher talking about the upcoming fundraiser. The teacher mentions that they will likely not be able raise enough money to participate in The Rose Parade. Sophie takes action into her own hands and decides to get Megan Pleasant to come back and perform. Only Megan has sworn never to return home. 

Emma Mills has been on my radar since I enjoyed This Adventure Ends. I was hesitant when I heard about Famous in a Small Town. Ultimately I gave in to my curiosity. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it! This book is written in first person following Sophie’s point of view. There are flashbacks, text messages, online articles, and social media posts.

There’s something about reading an Emma Mills book. It’s like hugging a blanket. You know it’ll be fluffy and have a huge emphasis on friendship. It’s comforting. And no surprise this is what was present in Famous in a Small Town. 

I absolutely adored the friendship! Sophie has a large friend group and all of them get along with each other. Their conversations were also so funny! As well as relatable. Each character was unique and original. It was even better when August joined the friend group. 

I really enjoyed reading about Sophie’s growth! And her character in general. She wasn’t perfect and she knew that. Sophie genuinely wanted to work on herself and become a better person. She was sweet and caring. It’s a nice change to read about those kinds of characters.

I also really liked August’s nieces! They were so cute! And a delight to read about. I particularly enjoyed it when Sophie babysat them. Sophie would do anything to keep them happy. And wasn’t afraid to act a bit goofy in the process.

I found Famous in a Small Town to be the more romance oriented than This Adventure Ends. Early on Sophie realizes she has a crush on August and asks him out. He politely refuses and asks that the two remain friends. I really enjoyed reading about their relationship!

August was such a sweet character. I actually expected him to be brooding. And in a way he was. But not exactly. Through Sophie and her friend group, as well as his brother August came out of his shell. I really enjoyed reading about his character development!

I was really surprised about the mystery aspect! The whole Megan Pleasant situation was a bit bizarre in the beginning. I didn’t think much off it. Then it went in a direction that I wasn’t expecting. There is another mystery aspect that was also quite surprising. I liked how each mystery was handled.

My only problem with Famous in a Small Town was how Sophie’s parents weren’t really present. This isn’t that large off an issue and it didn’t effect my rating. I just would’ve preferred for them to be more present.

Overall I really enjoyed this! Highly recommend.    

Review: The Dark Days Deceit


The Dark Days Deceit by: Alison Goodmen

My Rating: 4 Stars

The thrilling, genre-bending conclusion to Lady Helen’s demon-hunting adventures, set in the glittering Regency world.

Lady Helen has retreated to a country estate outside Bath to prepare for her wedding to the Duke of Selburn, yet she knows she has unfinished business to complete. She and the dangerously charismatic Lord Carlston have learned they are a dyad, bonded in blood, and only they are strong enough to defeat the Grand Deceiver, who threatens to throw mankind into chaos. But the heinous death-soaked Ligatus Helen has absorbed is tearing a rift in her mind. Its power, if unleashed, will annihilate both Helen and Carlston unless they can find a way to harness its ghastly force and defeat their enemy.

In the final book of the trilogy that began with THE DARK DAYS CLUB and continued with THE DARK DAYS PACT, the intrepid Lady Helen’s story hurtles to a shocking conclusion full of action, heartbreak, and betrayal.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Death, physical violence, drugging someone, manipulation, cheating, sexism, misogynistic society, graphic fight scenes, and abuse of power/authority.

The Dark Days Deceit was read for the theme Reborn Tales. For a book group called The Theme Thieves.

Lady Helen is preparing for her wedding to the Duke of Selburn. She receives a letter from her aunt Lenore saying that she will be visiting soon. This scares Helen as her aunt isn’t aware that she is a Reclaimer. And any of her recent activities.

Lord Carlston meanwhile is looking for Lady Elise. Thus far there have been no findings. Lord Carlston and Lady Helen get into a fight. Lady Helen fears that her marriage to the Duke of Selburn will be put to the test. As her aunt and many other friends start joining the party Lady Helen is having a hard time completing her Reclaimer duties. With Deceivers more prominent Lady Helen and Carlston soon find themselves backed in a corner. Can the two defeat the Grand Deceiver and make it out alive?

I have been a longtime fan of this series! So I was really looking forward to this installment. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it! As per usual this is book is written in third person limited following Helen. There are chapter numbers and letters. There are dates and the year. Plus there is a lace like pattern on the tips of the pages. 

The Dark Days Deceit was so tense! The beginning from the end was tense. With maybe a few nice and peaceful moments. And a hilarious scene. There was even tension between Helen and Carlston. At first it was just that they were mad at each other. But then it shifted to romantic tension. Which I think was done very well.

Some new characters are introduced. Lord Henry and Lady Georgina who are going to be Helen’s in-laws soon. Aunt Lenore and Andrew come back in this book. A few new Reclaimers come in as well.

There was some more world building present. Particularly with the Grand Deceiver. The Ligatus also comes into play. And how it’s effecting Lord Carlston, Lady Helen, and Darby. I really enjoyed all the information and how it fit in with the plot. The plot twists and reveals were so good!

As always I loved reading about the relationship Lady Helen has with those around her! I was surprised at the friendship with Lady Georgina. I assumed that we weren’t supposed to like her. The author instead chose to add more layers. Which I really appreciated. Her mentoring with Sprat was also sweet to read about! I really like Sprat. And was so happy that she played a huge role in the story.

It was nice to read about Helen’s aunt and brother. I was happy when they came back in. They provide a good support for her. Really great family dynamics. The author also surprised me by adding some layers to Helen’s uncle. While he is awful and sexist, he cared about them. In his own way. He set up Helen’s bank account as he did with his wife.

The romance was pretty good to! I enjoyed reading about the love triangle. And the back and forth that Helen went through. I wasn’t happy with how the love triangle ended. But I commend Helen’s strength.

I did have a few problems. I’m kind of upset about Selburn being the Grand Deceiver. I think that there was a better way to end the love triangle. Also about Lady Margret and Delia’s deaths. It felt like all Helen wasn’t left with too many female friends.

Overall I enjoyed this installment! I highly recommend this series.          

Review: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn


Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by: Alison Goodman

My Rating: 4 Stars

Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he’ll become apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragoneye, the human link to an energy dragon’s power. It is forbidden for females to practise the Dragon Magic and, if discovered, Eon faces a terrible death. But after a brilliant sword ceremony, Eon is catapulted into the treacherous world of the Imperial court, where his desperate lie comes to light …

Beware spoilers ahead!

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn was read during Tome Topple. And for The Dream Thieves December theme Missed TBR.

Trigger warning: Physical violence, bullying, harassment, drug addiction, mention of war, death, grief, misogynistic society, gory fights, critical injuries from battle, ableism, transphobia, disability cured via magic, mention of salt mines, mention of slavery, abuse of power via authority, taking control of one’s body, and rape.

Eon is a twelve year old boy with a lame leg. Eon is hoping to become a Dragoneye so his master can become rich again. There’s just one small problem. Eon is Eona a sixteen year old girl. And girl’s can’t be Dragoneye’s. It is punishable by death. If the council finds out Eona and her master will be punished. On top of all that there is a war brewing. How will Eona manage to balance her lies and survive the imperial court?

After reading The Dark Day’s Club by the same author I really wanted to read more off her works’. The Eon series has such rave reviews that I decided to give it a shot. I am really happy to say that I enjoyed it!

I am really happy that I read this! The book begins with a prologue was explains some of the world and magic system. There is a map of the palace, and dragon charts. Which lists each dragon and their dragoneye. The book is narrated in first person limited following Eona’s point of view.

I really enjoyed the world building and the magic system! It was very unique and interesting. Also the dragon aspect was so cool! Eona is still learning so not everything was explained. Particularly the bound with a dragon. The power that the Dragoneye’s have is explored but again to a degree.

The beginning was a bit dense as everything is being introduced to the reader. It did feel like an adult fantasy for that reason. Once I got into it, the book flew! This was so fast paced and I wasn’t expecting that.

I enjoyed the political intrigue! It’s very rare to find well done political intrigue. When Eona gets to the palace it’s a constant game of lies and a bit of cat and mouse with one of the Dragoneye’s. Whose name is Lord Ido. It’s get even messier when Eona make’s some friends and gets dragged into a battle of sorts. There is a bit of power imbalance which was is discussed multiple times throughout the book. 

I really liked Eona’s character! She’s very unique from some of the characters you read about now-a-days. She’s compassionate but ruthless as she’s backed into a corner most of the time. Eona was quite intelligent and very mature for her age. I think the author did a good job with Eona’s leg. I liked reading about her inner struggles. Particularly her fear off being herself and accepting her female side. With the help off her friends and her dragon Eona comes to accept herself. Her character development was truly excellent!

Eona is close to Chart and Rilla. Chart is disfigured and can’t speak. Due to this he is picked on quite a bit. Rilla is Chart’s mother. Barron is Eona’s master who she trained under. Barron bought Eona from a salt mine when he realized she could see all the dragons’ energies. She has a complicated relationship with him. Regardless they both still care for each other.

Eona becomes friends with Ryko, Lady Dela, and Prince Kygo. Also some of the dragoneye’s and their apprentices. Lady Dela spends her time navigating Eona through all the political intrigue and Ryko is tasked with guarding Lady Dela. Lady Dela is a transgender female. Prince Kygo and Eona become friends for mutual interests. There are hinting’s of a romance between the two. Nothing becomes of it in this installment.

All these characters shape Eona. And grow from one-another. I really liked the relationship’s she had with all of them! My favourite is Lady Dela. She was such a fun character but knowledgeable as well.

I also liked all the plot twist’s and foreshadowing you get throughout the book! Some of it was predictable. Though I still found it entertaining. Truly this book kept me on the edge of my seat. 

I did have some problems with this book. I felt that Lady Dela wasn’t done that well. There are several times when Eona will mention that Lady Dela would sometimes look like a male or have the strength of a male. Which didn’t feel that well done to me. Once Eona has truly bounded with her dragon her leg is ‘fixed’. Magically she’s cured. And it does send the wrong message.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I am looking forward to reading the sequel. I highly recommend this series!