Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

10 SFF Books by Muslim Authors

Ramadan Kareem my booksicles!

It’s my favourite month of the year- Ramadan! Which means it’s also the perfect time for some brilliant fantasy and sci-fi recommendations by Muslim authors for your #MuslimShelfSpace. Some are books that I’ve read and enjoyed and others are from my tbr and they are all perfect for the Ramadan Readathon hosted by Nadia at Headscarves and Hardbacks.

1) An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

  • A gripping read full of magic, jinn, plot twists galore and a fight for freedom. But be warned: Sabaa Tahir will kill your darlings. The other books in the series are A Torch Against the Night and A Reaper at the Gates with the final book, A Sky Beyond the Storm being released this December!

2) We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

  • This one is set in a fantasy world inspired by Ancient Arabia where a lost artefact must be found in order to restore magic along with a fun cast of characters and a good bit of enemies to lovers. The sequel, We Free the Stars, will be released next January.

3) The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

  • A con woman meets a djinn warrior in 18th century Cairo and they go to a city called Daevabad where six djinn tribes reside. The other books in the trilogy are called The Kingdom of Copper and The Empire of Gold which will come out this June!

4) Thorn by Intisar Khanani

  • A stunning retelling of The Goose Girl fairy tale where a girl succeeds by finding her inner strength and sticking to her core beliefs. It’s a standalone but the author has also written a series called The Sunbolt Chronicles.

5) The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

  • It’s 2099. The world has been engulfed by the sea, life continues underwater and Leyla McQueen decides to compete in the London Submersible Marathon in a bid to win her father’s freedom. This book is the first in a duology.

6) The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

  • A historical fantasy set in 1491 Grenada about a flight for freedom and the importance of tolerance and love. G. Willow Wilson is also the author of the Ms. Marvel comics and Alif the Unseen.

7) Mirage by Somaiya Daud

  • Mirage explores themes of colonialism, erasure, appropriation and more in a Moroccan-inspired setting following the story of eighteen-year-old Amani. The sequel, Court of Lions, will be released this August.

8) The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad

  • This book is set in Noor, a beautiful city along the Silk road and is, in the author’s own words, about ‘women being women in the most fantastic ways possible’.

9) The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan

  • The Companions of Hira fight the dark power of the Talisman and search for a text called The Bloodprint. This book is the first instalment of The Khorasan Archives with the others being The Black Khan,  The Blue Eye and The Bladebone being released this year. 

10) The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

  • Described in the summary as ‘a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair’ and about some children who are sucked into a game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand. The sequel coming out this August is called The Battle.

What are your favourite SFF books my Muslim authors? Let me know in the comments!

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Blog Tours · Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

7 Books About Royalty (Kingdom Cold Blog Tour)

Hello my bookish barnacles! Welcome to my second stop on the Kingdom Cold Blog Tour where I talk about seven amazing books about royalty. If there’s one thing that Kingdom Cold has a lot of it’s kings, queens, princesses and princes so if you like these books, Kingdom Cold is for you!


About the book:

Title: Kingdom Cold
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Publisher: Self-published
Publication date: 14 February 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis:
Attempted murder, that’s how sixteen-year-old Princess Charlotte’s engagement starts. It seems like the only thing she has in common with Prince Young of Vires is their mutual discontent. When her kingdom’s attacked, Charlotte’s parents renegotiate her hand in marriage to a handsome stranger with a sinister plan. With the people Charlotte loves dying around her, and her kingdom’s future at stake, the only person she can turn to is the prince she betrayed. But, should she save her kingdom or her heart? One must fall.

Book links:
Amazon |Goodreads


My own quote graphics:


7 Books About Royalty:

(1) The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas:

This series is about a queen trying to take back her kingdom from the people who stole it from her and it’s full of royalty. Throughout the series we see both Aelin and also Dorian develop from quite immature, carefree princesses and princes to wise, just queens and kings.

(2) Descendant of the Crane by Joan He:

Descendant of the Crane is a brilliant Chinese-inspired fantasy about a smart and cunning princess called Yan Hesina who embraced her role as queen when her father died so that she could discover his murderer. It is a fantastic read full of mystery and court intrigue! Read my review here.

(3) The Beholder by Anna Bright:

An alternate history novel where Selah, the Seneschal-elect of Potomac, went on a voyage to visit various princes and choose a suitor to marry. It is a light read that I would recommend to romance fans or people who love fairy tales. Read my review here.

(4) We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal:

We Hunt the Flame is set in a world inspired by ancient Arabia and it was about a hunter called Zafira and a prince called Nasir go on a quest to save their world from an ancient evil. It is worth a read for anyone looking for a diverse fantasy. Read my review here.

(5) The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty:

This book is set in 18th century Cairo and it’s not about human royalty but djinn royalty who lived in the magical city of Daevabad. Full of scheming, betrayals, and rich world building, The City of Brass was a book about royalty with a fresh twist. Read my review here.

(6) And I Darken by Kiersten White:

And I Darken is one of my favourite books and it is a reimagined historical story based on Vlad the Impaler. Lada Dragwlya did not fit into the stereotype of a princess in her time. She was unapologetically brutal and ruthless and her only goal was exacting her vengeance and reclaiming her homeland, Wallachia, for her own. This book isn’t just a book about royalty but a book about a girl trying to make her place in a world where every single person was against her and where she had to fight twice and hard and be twice as cruel to get what she wanted.

(7) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh:

This was a retelling of the classical One Thousand and One Nights tale where a girl, Shahrzad, had to tell the Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid, stories every night so that he wouldn’t kill her by morning. It was a cleverly-crafted story with multi-faceted characters and a gripping plot.


About the author:

Brittni Chenelle currently lives in Seoul, Korea, which inspires her multicultural fantasy books. Her favourite genres to read and write are young adult fantasy, young adult romance, fairytale retellings, and young adult dystopian novels. She’s very passionate about equal representation and makes a point to include characters from different backgrounds and cultures in her fantasy stories. Here are five fun facts about Brittni:

  1. She lives in South Korea. It’s true. She does most of her updates in the morning or at night to account for the time difference. She also infuses most of her novels with her observations about Korean culture.
  2. She’s a Type 1 Diabetic. She uses an insulin pump for survival and refers to her diabetes as “Beetie” which is what inspired her children’s book “Life with Beetie”. When she wants something from her parents she tells them, “My Beetie hurts.” It’s a trick that has never failed her.
  3. She doesn’t really BELIEVE in fiction. Despite all the; Dragons, Elves, and Magic present in her novel “Involuted the Tale of the Red Ribbon Tree”, Brittni INSISTS that it’s a true story.
  4. She’s OBSESSED with dark chocolate. She made me put that in and would also like me to inform you (on an unrelated note) that her birthday is in May.
  5. Sorry guys, she’s married. If you ask her, she’ll tell you her husband saved her life but every time someone asks “how?” she gives a different reason. I’ve overheard her give about 4 different reasons, but I bet she has more. He must be an amazing guy.

Author links:
Author website (and newsletter) |Blog |Goodreads |Instagram |Facebook |Twitter


Blog Tour Schedule:

Thank you to Caffeine Book Tours for choosing me to do this tour!


What are your favourite books about royalty? Let me know in the comments!

Goodreads| Twitter

Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

Antiheroes… DISCUSS!

Hello, today we’ll be discussing the interesting phenomenon of antiheroes!

Firstly, there’s a very important question to address:

What is an antihero?

Well, remember when you were younger and in every story you thought there was a ‘goodie’ and a ‘baddie’? An antihero is both of those things and neither of them at the same time. They’re the protagonist of the novel/ movie /play/ epic poem/ pop-up book but they’re not what we would normally consider a hero. They might not want to save the world, they might not put others before themselves and they might not always take the most ‘morally correct’ decisions.

Their goals may be quite selfish or just defy everyone’s expectations and they may do many morally and ethically questionable things to achieve their goals. Their good intentions do not necessarily result in good actions. Nevertheless, they always have redeeming qualities and can come across as very likable, multi-faceted characters so even if they do bad things it’s hard to hate them.

In stories the hero may be flawed but is generally labelled as good, fair and brave. The villain may be vulnerable but at the end of the day they’re evil. An antihero’s character is shades of greythey’re not fully good or fully bad and they’re not quite evil.

Personally, I enjoy reading about antiheroes because their motivations are normally very complex and it’s impossible to predict what they are going to do next as they’re not confined by strict moral values. Seeing how they justify and explain even the most terrible actions is scarily interesting. I always find that even though my brain is telling me that the character is bad and I shouldn’t like them, it’s hard to hate them when you have access to their most private thoughts and know all the events that led them to be the way they are.

Some examples:

Here are some of my favourite antiheroes and why!

Baru from The Traitor by Seth Dickinson: Baru would do anything and betray anyone to save her island and it was terrifying to watch her destroy people I thought she loved in the name of her cause. She was a genius and the reader was made to understand how important her mission was to her even as they watched her humanity slip away.

Rin from The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang: Rin had indomitable power and and it was intriguing to see how she thought she was using it for the greater good even when she wasn’t. She made lots of wrong choices but at the same time she still wanted to try and help.

Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: Kaz had only two goals in mind: money and vengeance, and it was obvious from his actions that he was not a good person. However, his tragic and terrible backstory evoked sympathy and it became hard to dislike him when you realised the reasons behind his actions. Add to that how loyal he was to those he cared about and he ended up being almost likable!

Lada from And I Darken by Kiersten White: Lada was brutal, unforgiving and ruthless. Everything a woman wasn’t supposed to be in her society. She wanted to claim what was hers and she hungered for power and while she slowly spiralled down and isolated herself from everyone, I still found myself rooting for her.

Jude Duarte from The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: Jude was brilliant. In the most terrifying way. She also hungered for power and she wanted to make her place in Elfhame no matter the cost. She became as cold and cunning as those around her and while what she does is entirely self-serving you can’t help but want her to succeed and marvel at her scheming.

More examples:

I took to Twitter to ask the bookish community about their favourite antiheroes and here’s a list of some of the characters that were mentioned:

  • Locke Lamora from The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  • Elphaba Thropp from Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  • Catherine Pinkerton from Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • Adelina Amouteru from The Young Elites by Marie Lu
  • Tea from The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
  • Ia Cōcha from Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
  • Victor Vale from Vicious by V. E. Schwab
  • Maud from An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good
  • Sebastian Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
  • Arya Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

So that’s antiheroes! Let’s end with a quote from a tweet by Kara Harte from Kattitude Reads:

“A good anti-hero is flawed and makes mistakes, but for the most part has good intentions at heart.”

What do you think about antiheroes? Who are your favourite antiheroes? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Goodreads | Twitter

Discussion Post · Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

Characters vs Plot… DISCUSS!

What’s more important in a book: character development or a gripping plot?

The answer seems obvious: both are equally important. However, I’ve noticed that some books tend to lean towards either characters or plot to drive the story forward. There are some books that strike a good balance between the two but this discussion post is about the books that don’t.

I know that they are linked because the characters make the plot and the plot makes the characters but sometimes you can tell when one is being prioritised over the other.

Character based books tend to be more slowly paced and focus on the characters’ personality arcs. The plot behind the story might not be fully fleshed out or have some holes in it but the characters’ journeys take centre stage so it’s alright if elements of the plot aren’t fully explained or the world building is lacking.

For example, the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas is very popular and has a rather large and obsessed fandom even though the books have more plot holes than a moth eaten tablecloth. So why is it so popular? I think it’s because a lot of time is spent on the characters and endearing them to the readers through humerous exchanges and emotional scenes. The story is so focused on the characters that it doesn’t give enough space to the plot.

Whereas plot based books are more quickly paced and lots of exciting events are squeezed into a few hundred pages. However, the characters are flatter, fall back more on stereotypes and have less development. The plot is really well explained and clever but the characters end up lacking slightly.

Another scenario in which the plot overshadows character development is when there are so many characters and points of view in a book that each individual character doesn’t get time to flourish.

For example, I would say that The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer are quite plot based. Lots and lots of things happen in the books and the plot is so intricate and gripping but in my opinion the characters get less development time than in other books I’ve read and can be quite clichéd.

So, if you had to choose between a plot based or a character based book, which would you choose?

What do you think about this topic?

Which books do you think prioritise plot or characters?

Let me know in the comments!

Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

The Best of Bookish Names!

Names are important. They help us understand the world and form a key part of our identities. Without them, everything would be frightfully confusing. In books, the names of characters and places are an integral part of the world building and help us to imagine the text-world more vividly.

This post is dedicated to the best of bookish names. Character names, location names and everything in-between. They’re mainly going to be fantasy names because they’re the most interesting (and I mostly read fantasy).

Character Names:

Here are some character names that stand out to me and why:

Aelin Ashryver Galathynius (Throne of Glass): Her name sounds very long , regal and flamboyant and I think it matches her character. Also, I heard that aag means ‘fire’ in Hindi and her initials spell out A.A.G which is clever because she has fire magic.

[Spoiler ahead] Also, I do know that it is technically Aelin Ashryver Whitethorn Galathynius (which I love even more) but I wanted to avoid spoilers! [End of spoiler]

Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows): I like the alliteration of the hard, sharp ‘k’ sound because it definitely mirrors his flinty personality.

Chaol Westfall (Throne of Glass): I know this post is dedicated to the best of bookish names but I’ll make an exception for a name that I don’t like. Chaol is such a ridiculous name that I didn’t even know how to pronounce properly until I read the pronunciation guide! It’s supposed to be ‘kay-oll’ but it could easily be ‘chay-ol‘ or ‘chaa-oll’ for all I know. I actually have a friend who is adamant in calling him ‘chole’. Furthermore, ‘kay-oll’ just sounds like a vegetable.

Bleak (Heart of Mist): It’s a rather miserable name and that’s why I’ve included it.

Delilah Bard – nicknamed ‘Lila’ (A Darker Shade of Magic): I like the way ‘Delilah Bard’ nicely rolls off of the tongue. Delilah also seems like a deceptively innocent name for someone as intrepid as she is.

Kell (A Darker Shade of Magic): I like the story behind his name. According to the book, he was found as a young child with a dagger inscribed with the initials ‘K.L.’. No one knew what these letters stood for so they just merged them together and named him ‘Kell’.

Esha (The Tiger at Midnight): It’s a very beautiful name!

Lazlo Strange (Strange the Dreamer): Lazlo Strange is so quirky and different that I had to mention it!

Sarai (Strange the Dreamer): It’s a rather lyrical name and it suits her whimsical and gentle character.

Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thráin, son of Thrór (The Hobbit): It sounds very fancy and regal and I like the way his full name tells a story of his past experiences and his ancestors.

Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit): Bilbo Baggins is a very quaint name, reminiscent of the rolling hills of the Shire. I love it!

Meadow Sircha (A Shifting of Stars): Meadow is also a lovely, cosy name.

Hesina (Descendent of the Crane): I find this name very pretty.

Zafira (We Hunt the Flame): It sounds very pretty and apparently means ‘victor’ or ‘triumphant’.

Avalkyra Ashfire (Crown of Feathers): It’s a super cool, fierce warrior name!

Greening Grandemalion – nicknamed ‘Po’ (Graceling): This is the funniest, most random name I have ever seen. It’s even more hilarious that ‘Greening Grandemalion’ inexplicably shortens to ‘Po’.

Lemon Fresh (LIFEL1K3): It’s a very unusual name but it chimes with her fabulosity!

Kvothe (The Kingkiller Chronicle): It’s such an awesome and mysterious name!

Location names:

These are some of my favourite location names with one adjective that I would associate with it!

  • Velaris (A Court of Thorns and Roses): glamorous
  • Terrasen (Throne of Glass): verdant
  • Lothlórien (The Lord of the Rings): majestic
  • Mordor (The Lord of the Rings): intimidating
  • Arawiya (We Hunt the Flame): illustrious
  • Weep (Strange the Dreamer): despondent
  • Zosma (Strange the Dreamer): resplendent
  • Elfhame (The Cruel Prince): whimsical

So these are my favourite bookish names! What are yours? Let me know in the comments!

Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

The Best First Lines of All Time

In my opinion, what makes a first line (or first lines) good is if I am hooked from the start or I feel curious enough to read on.

First lines are very important, they’re like the icing on a cupcake. If you like the icing then you’re going to enjoy the whole cupcake much more than if you don’t. However, first lines aren’t a necessary ingredient in a good book. Cupcakes don’t require icing and you can scrape it off, if need be.

Anyway, enough of my random cupcake analogy. These are the best first lines of all time, in my opinion:

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein:

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort”

These first two lines have all the feels for me. I’m not sure why but I always feel really nostalgic whenever I read them.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo:

“Joost had two problems: the moon and his moustache.”

Personally, I think this opening is random but absolutely iconic. (Spoiler ahead!) Joost may have died in the first chapter (R.I.P) but he will always be remembered for his really weird problems.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens:

“Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.”

This opening immediately hooked me. I was full of questions: Who is Marley? Why is he dead? Why is he significant? It’s just brilliant.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor:

“On the second sabbat of Twelfthmoon, in the city of Weep, a girl fell from the sky.”

This first line sounds so magical, like the beginning of a fairy tale. When I read it, I immediately knew I was going to adore the book.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

“First the colors.
Then the humans.
That’s usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try”

I adore The Book Thief and I like its first line because it doesn’t make much sense at first, then you read on and you begin to understand. It’s so whimsical and I feel like it captures the tone of the entire book.


What are your favourite first lines? Are there any I should add to my list? I’d love to see your answers in the comments!