Reviews · Uncategorized

A New Favourite: Review of The Kingdom of Copper

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Book: The Kingdom of Copper

Author: S. A. Chakraborty

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: Five Fiery Daeva Stars!

When I read The City of Brass last year I liked it and wanted to read the sequel but I didn’t love it. There many aspects I appreciated but I also found it to be quite a tedious read. So I am very glad I did read the sequel, The Kingdom of Copper, because I didn’t just love this book it has become one of my all time favourites!

The book started off with a prologue detailing how the three main characters dealt with the aftermath of what happened at the end of The City of Brass. Then, the story had a five year time jump that I was not expecting. However, it added more to the characters as it became evident that time had hardened them, reinforced the qualities I already associated with them and brought out new ones. It was so interesting to see them look back on the events of The City of Brass with the hindsight, regret, nostalgia and pain that comes with time while for the reader it didn’t feel that long ago at all.

I loved Nahri in this book. She was trapped in Daevabad and she needed all her astuteness and strength to navigate her gilded cage. She pushed against its boundaries and tried to bridge the gap between djinn, daeva and shafit. From the start of the novel it was clear she had already grown so much since the previous book and that growth continued throughout the sequel, especially because without her Afshin she had to rely on her own hard gained power that much more.

Ali also came into his own. Exiled to the desert away from his family and the scheming Daevabad court, he had the space to find his feet and earn the respect and love of people not because he was a prince but because they could tell her genuinely cared about them. After being manipulated using his religious beliefs it was nice to see him thrive somewhere where they were welcomed. Linking to that, I felt the Muslim representation resonated more with me in this book as opposed to the previous one. I loved the way Ali turned to his faith through all the turmoil and it gave him strength

Dara… what can I even say about Dara. In my review of The City of Brass I expressed much dislike towards him- he infuriated me. However in this book, my opinion on him softened. I realised that what I mistook for exasperating arrogance was actually a facade concealing his pain and confusion after centuries of slavery that he couldn’t remember. In The Kingdom of Copper we see a more vulnerable side to him (especially because we get chapters in his POV) and more complexity is added to his character. He loathed himself and his past actions and felt beyond redemption. And yet, he was willing to do those same things again because of his ingrained loyalty to the Nahids and feelings for Nahri.

The side characters were also very well fleshed out especially Jamshid, Muntadhir, Subha, Aqisa and Lubayd. Manizheh, was also introduced and she was such an interesting character. She was so shaped by cruelty it was all she knew and she wasn’t afriad to inflict it as long as it benefited her and those loyal to her. 

Chakraborty’s world building was masterful, creating a vivid, layered world of wonder  and chicanery that simultaneously felt far flung and right on my doorstep. In this book, we learn so much more about the djinn tribes, their history and their politics as well as the world outside of Daevabad. Everything was so detailed from the clothes, the food, the buildings, the customs and the traditions but not in a way that felt overwhelming or unnecessary. The story explored how hatred and discrimination can fester, how people will use anything they can to justify and permeate it and the destruction that causes. 

The plot was so engrossing that I never felt bored for even a moment (unlike the previous book). Even the slower paced parts captured my interest and pushed the story forward. The ending in particular was dramatic, visceral and heart wrenching in every way. It left me reeling with every emotion imaginable.

If you love dynamic, political fantasies The Kingdom of Copper is definitely for you. And if you weren’t too impressed with The City of Brass or found it boring I’d advise you to give the sequel a go, as it’s better in every way. With a gripping and complex plot, incredible multi-faceted characters, Muslim representation and discussion of interesting themes, The Kingdom of Copper delivers in every way!

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Uncategorized

2020 Book Blogger Awards: Nominations!

Black Lives Matter ~ Free Palestine ~ Kashmir Bleeds ~ Junk Terror Bill

Hello booksicles! 

This year May @ Forever and Everly and Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books are hosting the fourth annual book blogger awards. In this post I will be nominating some lovely book bloggers who I admire and respect for the various categories.

These awards are a great way to show appreciation to book bloggers (who are often underappreciated in comparison to booktubers and bookstagrammers). If you want to find out more about them and how you can join in May’s introductory post is amazing and explains everything really well.

Here are my nominations! It was really hard to choose for some of them as there are just so many great book bloggers out there but I managed to narrow it down.

Best of their age:

Best Pre-Teen/Teen Book Blogger (13-19)

~Sasha and Amber @ Sasha and Amber Read~

I love Sasha and Amber’s blog it’s clear a lot of passion and hard work goes into it.

Best Adult Book Blogger (20+)

~Noura @ The Perks of Being Noura~

I always get great book recommendations from Noura and I love the interviews she does on her blog and the cool readathons she regularly holds.

Best Genre Blog:

Young Adult

~Sara @ Words With Wings~

Sara started blogging recently but I love the reviews she’s written for YA books. Her review of Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman made me add it to my tbr!

~Neelam @ The Tsundoku Chronicles~

I love Neelam’s blog it’s brilliant. She’s always promoting Muslim authors and reading and reviewing diverse YA books.

Romance

~Maha @ Sunshine N’ Books~

Maha’s blog aesthetic is so cute and generally she’s a lovely person. She reads and reviews a lot of romance books and even writes helpful posts about the genre like her beginner’s guide to romance.

Science Fiction / Fantasy

~Arina @ The Paperback Voyager~

Arina’s blog is great and full of author spotlights and recommendations of SFF books!

~Juri @ Tomes And Thoughts~

Juri reads and reviews quite a lot of fantasy and I love her review of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K. S. Villoso.

Best of book blogging:

Best Book Reviews

~Meha @ Books, Bits & Bobs~

Meha is quite a new book blogger but I absolutely adore her eloquent reviewing style and she has a great writing voice (I highly recommend her review of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong).

~Ikram @ Readology~

I love Ikram’s detailed and straightforward reviews especially her ‘Moral of the Story’ reviews where she adds more analysis (like her review of Parachutes by Kelly Yang).

~Finn @ Evidently Bookish~

Finn also writes gorgeous reviews with a lot of detail and care (you can tell I love detailed reviews) and I love their blog!

Best Book Recommendations

~Fadwa @ Word Wonders~

Fadwa is an icon, this is a known fact. She’s a fabulous book blogger in every way but I especially love her tbr expansion posts full of diverse book recommendations (but my favourite is this post where she recommends OVER 100 books by Muslim authors which must have taken forever to put together).

Best Discussion Posts

~Zainab @ Em’s Bookish Musings~

Zainab does lots of original mini series and discussion posts that are really interesting and generally I love her blog and book reviews.

Best Blog Aesthetic

~Rumaanah @ Rum’s the Reader~

I love Rumaanah’s blog graphics they’re so cute!

~Cielo @ Bellerose Reads~

I also love Cielo’s blog graphics and aesthetic, it looks really pretty.

~Amber @ The Literary Phoenix~

I adore Amber’s blog aesthetic it’s so colourful and cute and I love the magical theme.

Best Blogging/Writing Voice

~Rain @ Bookdragonism

Rain’s eloquence and humour always make her posts a delight to read!

Miscellaneous:

Most Helpful (someone who posts thoughtful blogging guides/advice)

~E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Book Nook~

E. has lots of helpful posts on her blog and I particularly like her guide to audiobooks on Spotify.

Most Supportive (someone who always shares others’ posts in wrap-ups/has kind comments/boosts other bloggers with initiatives, etc.)

~Rameela @ Star Is All Booked Up

Rameela is such a ray of sunshine and I love her blog. She does a feature called ‘weekly favourites‘ where she shares other bloggers’ posts (and booktube videos) that she liked in that week.

Most Engaged in the Community

~Fanna~

Fanna is always engaging with the book community on her blog and on social media. She is also one of the creators of the South-Asian Reading Challenge!

~Nadia @ Headscarves & Hardbacks~

Nadia also engages a lot with the book community, particularly when it comes to promoting books by Muslim authors. She even runs the Ramadan Readathon and The Muslim Shelf!

Most Creative (creative/original posts)

~Leelynn @ Sometimes Leelynn Reads

Leelynn makes her own original book tags and I love them (especially the Forest of Souls Shaman Book Tag which I hope to do soon).

Best at Promoting Diverse Books

~Krisha @ Bookathon~

Krisha is so friendly and I love her blog. She does a really cool feature called Woven in Books dedicated to promoting diverse books.

Most importantly:

Best New Book Blogger (started blog after August 2019)

~Meha @ Books, Bits & Bobs~

~Sara @ Words With Wings~

Best Overall Book Blogger [two winners!]

~CW @ The Quiet Pond~

CW is probably one of the most hard working and dedicated bloggers out there. She does the best blog series and readathons and is always promoting diverse books (I get the best recommendations from her). And on top of all of that, her art is so cute!


Those are my recommendations! Please check all of these amazing bloggers out and follow their blogs! Nominations close on July 26th and after that there will be a voting round.

I wish everyone nominated the best of luck and thank you so much to May and Marie for organizing these awards!

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Uncategorized

Introducing A Thousand Nights Book Club!

Black Lives Matter |Free Palestine |Kashmir Bleeds|Junk Terror Bill

Hello booksicles!

Today I have some very exciting news to share. As a Muslim, I’m always seeking to support Muslim authors and recommend their books. I also love to read fantasy and science fiction- it’s my favourite genre!

So, I decided to combine two things very close to my heart and created A Thousand Nights, an online book club with a focus on science fiction and fantasy (SFF) by Muslim authors.

After some online research I realised how few SFF books by Muslim authors there are, and how hard they are to find out about. In response to this, I compiled a spreadsheet of all the SFF books by Muslim authors I could find so that they can be all in one place and more accessible to everyone.

About A Thousand Nights:

The aim of this club is to celebrate SFF books by Muslim authors and expose more people to them, diversifying their reading. 

Members of the club will vote on a book to read, which will be read and discussed over the course of two months before another book is chosen. This will take place on Discord, a platform for group discussion and chats. It is very easy to make an account and anyone can join.

To join the club and get the link for its Discord server you can either sign up here or message @_AThousandBooks on Twitter. Also, you can follow A Thousand Nights’ Twitter page (@_AThousandBooks) for updates about the club and SFF books by Muslim authors.

I hope to see you there! 

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Reviews · Uncategorized

Monster Princess: Review of Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Thank you to Hodderscape for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Author: Melissa Bashardoust

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 3.5/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 4.5/5
  • Overall: 4/5

Girl, Serpent Thorn was a novel reminiscent of a fairy tale. Influences from Persian mythology were intricately woven throughout creating a tapestry of deadly beauty with monsters and magic in every thread. One of my favourite parts was actually the author’s note at the end explaining the inspirations behind certain aspects of the book, an important one being an epic poem called The Shahnameh. It is clear that so much thought and love went into creating the world.

Soraya was a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. She had spent her entire life hidden away in the shadows, starved of human contact. Meanwhile, her twin brother was the shah and dwelled in the sunlight and adoration of the people. Soraya felt resentful and crushingly, achingly lonely but she tried not to show it. She thought innocent thoughts and actions were the only thing stopping her from becoming a monster but in her darkest hours she wondered if it would be easier to become the monster others already thought her to be.

I loved Soraya’s journey of self acceptance. This could have easily been a villain origin story but it wasn’t and while there were many moments when Soraya gave into her darker impulses she always brought herself back and rejected monstrosity. Her story showed that protecting someone with lies often isn’t protection at all and when too many secrets accumulate it can be more deadly than poison. Soraya’s relationship with Parvaneh was sweet and hopeful. Their romance wasn’t a major part of the book but the way they saw a beauty in each other that no one else did was heart warming.

In a lot of YA fantasy, the parents are often dead or have no part to play in the story. That wasn’t the case with Girl, Serpent, Thorn. I loved how Soraya’s relationship with her mother was portrayed. Many secrets surfaced between them and their relationship was often messy and strained but there was an overwhelming sense of love, appreciation and respect between them that grew as the story progressed.

The writing was gorgeous and lyrical and completely drew me in. However, I wish the plot was a bit stronger. Some of the events that happened felt too contrived or convenient and some details needed more explanation. However overall Girl, Serpent, Thorn was a magical, Persian-inspired read with a compelling main character and a f/f romance that I would definitely recommend.

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Reviews

Into the Shadow: Review of The Damned

Thank you to Hodderscape for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Read my review of The Beautiful here!

Book: The Damned (The Beautiful #2)

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 4/5
  • Characters: 4.5/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 4/5

The Damned was a magical read that expanded upon the first book well, answering many of the questions that I had whilst giving me more. I loved diving back into the glamorous yet monstrous world of The Beautiful and learning more about the characters. However, it wasn’t a five star read like the first book was for me because I felt like it tried to cram a bit too much in without adequate explanation.

Celine was grappling with the trauma of what happened to her at the end of The Beautiful. She felt like she had lost herself in the midst of confusion, nightmares and terror gripping her when she was perfectly safe. For Celine, this book was about self discovery– in more ways than one. She showed even more fortitude and determination than in the previous book and I was rooting for her throughout.

Celine took centre stage in The Beautiful and Bastien had little character development, whereas The Damned saw him take the spotlight and have his own arc too. His POV chapters were in the first person and in the present tense, as opposed to everyone else’s POV chapters being in the third person and the past tense, making it feel as if it was primarily his story. We get to see the most of his inner conflict as he dealt with his own trauma and navigated uncharted waters in a familiar world. He wanted to be a better version of himself despite the darkness inside him and he went on a journey to find out what that meant. I liked discovering more depth to his character and it helped me to better understand him.

“Love and loyalty are not always the same thing. Loyalty is easy. Love is doing what is right, even when it is difficult.”

I loved getting to learn more about the side characters especially Odette and Jae. I think they both deserve their own spin off books because they’re amazing and have the most interesting back stories. We get to see the POVs of so many more characters in comparison to The Beautiful such as Bastien, Odette, Jae, Arjun and more. I was actually surprised that we don’t see Celine’s POV until around a quarter of the book. I liked reading from new perspectives even though at first it slowed the pace down too much.

The Damned didn’t hold back with the supernatural: vampires, werewolves, fey, goblins and more. We are introduced to the magical realms of the summery Sylvan Vale and the wintry Sylvan Wyld– equally dangerous despite their appearances. The plot became more about the greater picture than any one character’s goals which I liked but, as I mentioned earlier, too many components were introduced without being properly fleshed out. The conflict between the Brotherhood and the Fallen could have also felt more high stakes.

I really enjoyed The Damned but it felt like it was mainly setting the stage for the next book. I originally thought this series was a duology but it turns out there’s going to be a third book and I cannot wait!

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Book Tags · Uncategorized

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag- 2020 Edition!

Hello booksicles!

Today, I bring you the Mid-Year Freakout Tag where I review my reading in the first half of the year. I’m not sure who started the tag but it’s very popular with book bloggers and booktubers alike! I didn’t do it last year but it looks fun and I was tagged by Azrah from Az You Read so I decided to give it a go!

Best book(s) you’ve read so far in 2020

The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty: This is the last book of the Daevabad trilogy and it truly was a beautiful conclusion to the series that filled me up with every emotion imaginable.

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles: This book comes out in August but I was lucky enough to read a review copy of it and trust me when I say that this book is fabulous! It is inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and full of glitz, magic and drama- I loved it!

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020

The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty: This is the second book of the Daevabad trilogy and I’d say it’s not just the best sequel I’ve read in 2020 but the best sequel I’ve read EVER!

New release(s) you haven’t read but want to

  • The Silence of Bones by June Hur
  • Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto
  • A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
  • Parachutes by Kelly Yang

Most anticipated release(s) for the second half of the year

  • A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
  • The Burning God by R. F. Kuang
  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (I have a review copy of this one which I’m really excited to read)

Biggest disappointment

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace: This was a really anticipated read but it fell so flat for me. I didn’t find it interesting at all and couldn’t connect to the characters.

Biggest surprise

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas: I had no idea what to expect from this book but I actually quite liked it?! It was a fun read although it was far longer than necessary.

Favorite new to me author(s)

  • Janella Angeles
  • Intisar Khanani
  • Zoraida Córdova

Newest fictional crush

Uh I don’t have one actually.

New favorite character(s)

  • Nahri from the Daevabad trilogy: I admire Nahri and how smart and unyielding she is in extremely trying situations. She is also so kind and she always chooses what is right for others over what would benefit her.
  • Alizayd al Qahtani from the Daevabad trilogy: He really grows over the trilogy and has a tendency to always say the wrong thing but he’s also very sincere and has the best intentions.
  • Kallia from Where Dreams Descend: Kallia is spectacular in every way. I love her determination and flair for the dramatic!

A book that made you cry

Not a single book made me cry this year, in general it is very rare that books make me cry at all even though I am an emotional person. When I feel sad about something in a book I don’t think it manifests as tears but my heart physically hurts. That being said, the book that was closest to making me cry was The Empire of Gold.

A book that made you happy

Once Upon An Eid is an anthology full of short stories about celebrating Eid by Muslim authors and when I read in in Ramadan this year it filled me with joy!

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year

I bought a hardcover of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and it’s stunning I love it!

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Well there are quite a lot of books I couldn’t mention them all! Some review copies I need to read are:

  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
  • The Once and Future Witches.by Alix E. Harrow
  • Crowning Soul by Sahira Javaid

And here are some other books I hope to read during 2020:

  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
  • Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K. S. Villoso
  • Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

So that’s the tag! I found some new favourites in the first half of 2020 and I hope to read some more amazing books during the rest of the year too.

I tag Zainab @ Em’s Bookish Musings and anyone else who wants to give this tag a try.

What has your favourite book of 2020 so far been? Let me know in the comments!

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