Books On My Nightstand July 2019

It’s summertime, which means that it’s time for me to read all of the books that I can before I get busy again (and to catch up on my goodreads goal). I always tend to read multiple books at once, so here are the books that I am currently trying to speed through.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

This one is SUPER cute, and I found it on Spotify of all places! Did you know that Spotify has audiobooks? I’m pretty excited about that one.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House Leigh Bardugo

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.

I got an ARC at BEA (I’m sorry to all the folks who didn’t, but it’ll be worth the wait!). This one I need to finish ASAP not only because it’s so good but because all of my coworkers want to read it, too!

Travel Light, Move Fast by Alexandra Fuller

Travel Light Move Fast Alexandra Fuller

Six months before he died in Budapest, Tim Fuller turned to his daughter: “Let me tell you the secret to life right now, in case I suddenly give up the ghost.” Then he lit his pipe and stroked his dog Harry’s head. Harry put his paw on Dad’s lap and they sat there, the two of them, one man and his dog, keepers to the secret of life. “Well?” she said. “Nothing comes to mind, quite honestly, Bobo,” he said, with some surprise. “Now that I think about it, maybe there isn’t a secret to life. It’s just what it is, right under your nose. What do you think, Harry?” Harry gave Dad a look of utter agreement. He was a very superior dog. “Well, there you have it,” Dad said. 

After her father’s sudden death, Alexandra Fuller realizes that if she is going to weather his loss, she will need to become the parts of him she misses most. So begins Travel Light, Move Fast, the unforgettable story of Tim Fuller, a self-exiled black sheep who moved to Africa to fight in the Rhodesian Bush War before settling as a banana farmer in Zambia. A man who preferred chaos to predictability, to revel in promise rather than wallow in regret, and who was more afraid of becoming bored than of getting lost, he taught his daughters to live as if everything needed to happen all together, all at once—or not at all. Now, in the wake of his death, Fuller internalizes his lessons with clear eyes and celebrates a man who swallowed life whole.

A master of time and memory, Fuller moves seamlessly between the days and months following her father’s death, as she and her mother return to his farm with his ashes and contend with his overwhelming absence, and her childhood spent running after him in southern and central Africa. Writing with reverent irreverence of the rollicking grand misadventures of her mother and father, bursting with pandemonium and tragedy, Fuller takes their insatiable appetite for life to heart. Here, in Fuller’s Africa, is a story of joy, resilience, and vitality, from one of our finest writers.

Another ARC! This one I’m only a few pages in, but I can tell that it’s going to be one of those books that has an impact on me. I’m at a point in my life where I need that kind of book and I’m looking forward to finishing this one.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners Libba Bray

Evangeline O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and sent off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far.

When the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfurl in the city that never sleeps. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened….

I’m going to be honest with you all. I’ve been reading (listening) to this one since the fall. I know! I’m sorry! I’m awful with audiobooks. This one is so long that it’s harder for me to get through, especially with such a complex plot. However, I love magic and the supernatural so I am determined to get through this one.

 

 

What books are currently on your nightstand?

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Book Review The Female of the Species Mindy McGinnis

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone. As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever. (BookBub)

[MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD]

I listened to this book on Chirp because it was only $3.99. I have trouble listening to audiobooks but this one was super engaging!

The plot was very interesting and it was a page-turner (or whatever the audiobook equivalent of that is). I also loved the alternating POVs for this book. I felt that it fit the story really well and showing different perspectives definitely was beneficial to the storytelling. However, there were a few things i didn’t like about this book.

I liked the plot a lot but didn’t like most of the characters. I couldn’t stand Jack, the main love interest, and actually wasn’t a big fan of Alex, the main character, either. The characters I actually liked or wanted to learn more about were not the main focus of the first half of the book. I rated this book 3.5 rather than 3 stars because in the end some of the characters I wanted to see more of did become more complex and more of a central focus. Yet, there were still some other qualms I had with this story.

I feel like this book isn’t over. While I liked the last chapter and how it ended, I feel like there were a lot of loose ends. Plot points were brought up throughout the novel that just never really got resolved or explained. For example, Alex’s sister was never really talked about. While this is a story about Alex, I would have loved more of a backstory. What was Alex’s motivation? How were her and her sister so close? What was their relationship like? Additionally, Jack never talks about his role in the night Anna’s body was found. He thinks about talking about it, but never actually does. This felt a bit anticlimactic and as though the story was unfinished. Again, too many loose ends.

Overall, I felt as though the secondary characters were the only complex, likeable characters in this novel. While I do appreciate a complex secondary character, the protagonist and her story could have been more fleshed out.

★★★½

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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4 YA Books by Muslim Women You Have to Read in 2019

Women’s History Month may be almost over, but it’s not too late to celebrate the first ever Muslim Women’s Day! And what better way to celebrate than with books by some awesome Muslim women? Here are some picks that are bound to end up in your TBR pile.

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali

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

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

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

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Nae Safi

tell me how you really feel

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

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

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

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

Internment by Samira Ahmed

internment samira ahmed

Rebellions are built on hope.

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

love from a to z sk ali

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.

 

I hope this short but sweet list makes you want to diversify your TBR!

 

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Book-to-TV adaptations aren’t uncommon these days (think: The Handmaid’s Tale, 13 Reasons Why, Game of Thrones, Outlander). What is uncommon (but becoming increasingly more common) is book-to-phone series. Snapchat has especially been investing in these kind of series, made to be watched on a phone (vertically). Snapchat has recently revealed that some of its shows have received 1 million views, making this a new sought-after form of entertainment. Ever since the invention of newer technology, watching has become the primary form of entertainment, moreso than reading. Big Five publisher HarperCollins has decided to lean into this switch in media by releasing a young adult (YA) novel on Snapchat as a 15-episode series.

HarperCollins secured its spot on Snapchat’s gallery of new shows with Susan Cox’s 2012 teen novel, The Dead Girls Detective Agency, which, as of October 22, has released four episodes onto the platform. The story follows recently deceased Charlotte Feldman, who must discover why she was murdered in order to escape purgatory. The series consists of five minute episodes and is produced in partnership with Indigo Development and Entertainment Arts, Insurrection Media, and Keshet Digital Studios.

“For years at Harper, we have been trying to get this book made into a TV series! The Insurrection team was really intrigued by the concept, and they were [excited about] the ability to roll it into an episodic series. We’re interested to see how teens are going to come to this type of content,” said Jean McGinley, vp and associate publisher at HarperCollins Children’s Books.

Those at the publishing company has high hopes for the new series. HarperCollins’ Epic Reads, a community for teen readers, is also collaborating with Snapchat in producing content released to its online audiences.

More projects are in the works between HarperCollins and Snapchat, but no news has been released yet.

Lara Jean Covey writes letters to all of her past loves, the letters are meant for her eyes only. Until one day when all the love letters are sent out to her previous loves. Her life is soon thrown into chaos when her foregoing loves confront her one by one. (IMDB)

Last week, Netflix released the movie ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’, a film adaptation of a YA contemporary with the same name. While I have read Jenny Han’s original novel, today I just want to discuss the awesomeness that is this movie.

Here are 3 reasons to watch To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

1. It has great representation

How many rom-coms do you know that have an Asian-American lead? I can’t think of any! Hollywood’s trend of not-so-subtlely not casting Asians has come into the limelight in the past few years. We saw this in the casting of Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell and Tilda Swinton taking on the role of an Asian character in Doctor Strange. We saw this in the #StarringJohnCho project that took off in 2016, where John Cho was photoshopped into movie posters, replacing the white leads with an Asian one,  in a move to emphasize the lack of diversity in Hollywood. How refreshing it is to have a romantic comedy with an Asian-American lead like Lara Jean! Even more refreshing? Her biracial heritage isn’t a plot point. It’s just a fact.

2. Unproblematic love interest

Peter Kavinsky. The true unproblematic fave. What looked like an arrogant cliche high school jock with the mean girlfriend turned into this sweet and understanding fake-boyfriend. In fact, he was really the sweet,caring guy all along! From taking his designated driver duties seriously, to protecting Lara Jean’s honor, to protecting the popcorn during a pillow fight, he really is the ultimate dream boyfriend. Get you a Peter Kavinsky.

3. Leans into the rom-com tropes… and it works!

There’s something very nostalgic about this film. Maybe it’s the numerous references to Sixteen Candles. Or perhaps the Ferris Bueller-eqsue narration courtesy of our very own Lara Jean. Either way, this film leans into its rom-com roots, like the fake dating tropes. I’ve never heard of this trope happening in real life but it sure does happen a lot in romantic comedies (it’s OK, I love it). This film does a great job of creating that feeling that a John Hughes movie could give, but updated for modern times. I cannot praise this movie enough.

Watch the trailer here:

 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is available on Netflix now.

 

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Imagine a world where you might disappear any minute, only to find yourself alone in a grey sickly land, with more horrors in it than you would ever wish to know about. And then you hear a horn and you know that whoever lives in this hell has got your scent and the hunt has already begun. Could you survive the Call? (Goodreads)

I heard about The Call in BookTube videos. There was some kind of read-a-long going on with this book a while back. While I did not participate, I did purchase the ebook because it was inexpensive and it sounded interesting. Now, I went into this book with no prior knowledge of the plot and boy, did I get something completely unexpected.

I will say that this book is strange and intriguing. The concept and execution itself is something completely innovative and unheard of. Teenagers disappearing into another realm where creatures torture them for a day and send them back to our world where only three minutes of time has passed? Yeah. Unheard of. I have to say I was eager to keep reading once I got through the first few chapters and began to understand the premise of the book. What I read in the rest of the novel, however, left me a bit disappointed.

Frankly, I feel like this book was a bit too out there. I love a cool creative concept as much as the next guy but this one was too much for me. I feel like I was supposed to be reading a scary story but it was just… weird. I don’t really have a grasp on what happened. It was fast-paced in all the wrong places and I couldn’t keep up. I had some characters mixed up for a decent portion of the novel! The third person narrator was just confusing and the multiple POVs didn’t help. The writing just did not add anything to the story; it took away from it.

It wasn’t only the style of writing that made me mix up characters and plot points. It was the story itself. Characters are supposed to evoke an emotion out of a reader. I should really like or hate a character! Especially one that should be the hero or villain! With these characters, I didn’t feel that. These characters didn’t have any substance to them; they were bland. Even the main character’s love for poetry in the midst of this war-like situation felt very forced and fake. I didn’t believe in her love of love, and I love love!

Not only did the characters feel repetitive or forced… but so did the progression of the story. I felt like there wasn’t a real arc in this story. Something bad was continuously happening. I felt like the same situation (someone being Called) happened so many times that I was expecting it. It became predictable. And with no spoilers let me just say… the ending felt like a cop-out.

The scariest thing about this story was the book itself.

★★☆☆☆

Let me know what you thought of this book! Leave (better) book recs in the comments below.

 

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Blue is having a hard time moving on. He’s in love with his best friend. He’s also dead. Luckily, Hamal can see ghosts, leaving Blue free to haunt him to his heart’s content. But something eerie is happening in town, leaving the local afterlife unsettled, and when Blue realizes Hamal’s strange ability may be putting him in danger, Blue has to find a way to protect him, even if it means… leaving him. (Goodreads)

 

Okay, so I first heard about this book at BookCon 2017 in the form of posters and bookmarks and other general promotion. I took all of the free swag I could; I knew this was going to be the story for me. I saw it for sale at this year’s BookCon, and I bought it and read it immediately. What can I say? I’m a sucker for cute LGBT+ romances, the supernatural, and plants. I knew I was going to love this book.

Taproot illustrates the story of Hamal, a flower shop worker who has a peculiar ability … he can see ghosts. In fact, he’s developed a relationship with this ghost named Blue, constantly talking — and flirting — with him (which makes his coworkers who can’t see these ghosts think he’s quite strange). This cute story about a gardener and a ghost would have been a perfectly happy tale if not for the Reaper showing up and demanding that the balance of the world be restored. Stupid worldly balance getting in the way of romance.

This book was everything to me. First of all, Keezy Young is an extraordinarily talented illustrator. Young’s color choices and style fits the feel of the story perfectly. I couldn’t imagine this story drawn any other way.

Second, the representation healed my soul. So much POC representation! There’s maybe one white person in this book. And the gay romance will make you swoon. I could read a whole series about the flirting and love between Hamal, the guy who sings to his plants at night to make them grow, and Blue, a ghost hopelessly in love with this gardener.

Overall, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you’re like me and you adore LGBT representation, cute romances, strong Plant Aesthetics, and some supernatural stuff, you will absolutely adore this book.

★★★★★

 

Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought of it!

 

 

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