Reviews · Uncategorized

Trust No Witch: Review of Witches Steeped in Gold

Yemen Crisis ~ Black Lives Matter ~ Stop AAPI Hate~ Free Palestine ~ Kashmir Bleeds 

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

Book: Witches Steeped in Gold

Summary (click for dropdown)

Divided by their order. United by their vengeance.

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom – and vengeance.

Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.

Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But power is intoxicating, revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain – except the lengths they will go to win this game.

This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy has the twisted cat-and-mouse of Killing Eve with the richly imagined fantasy world of Furyborn and Ember in the Ashes.

Author: Ciannon Smart

Year Published: 2021

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

When I picked up this book I had no idea what to expect but I was extremely excited to read it- luckily, it definitely delivered. A Jamaican-inspired young adult fantasy full of intrigue, action, scheming and compelling characters, Witches Steeped in Gold bewitched me from the first page until the very last.

The plot revolved around two witches who belonged to enemy orders: Jazmyne who belonged to the Alumbrar order and Iraya who belonged to the Obeah order. The story alternated between both of their perspectives as they entered into a precarious alliance to achieve a shared goal. 

Jazmyne started off quite indecisive and afraid of taking action against her mother who was the doyenne of Aiyca- despite finding her rule unjust. As the story progressed it was interesting to see her realise that she had power and watch her learn how to wield it and stand her own ground. What was more interesting still was how her taste of power obscured her initial noble intentions and she sank lower and lower to hold onto it at any cost. She pretty much had a corruption arc and the irony wasn’t lost on me that she became exactly what she started off fighting against. I didn’t like Jazmyne much at all by the end but that isn’t a criticism of the book- she was extremely interesting to read about. I have to say though, Jazmyne’s romance sub plot was extremely lacklustre and boring– I feel like the book would have been better of without it.

For me, Iraya was a more likeable character despite her tendency to act rashly (it was honestly painful to watch her keep acting impulsively and making the worst choices) and avoid responsibility in the misguided belief it will keep people safe. Her constant internal conflict revolved around her trying to reconcile people’s expectations of her and her own desires and hopes, her duty to honour the dead and her duty to do right by the living. Unlike Jazmyne, I feel like she had more selfish motivations in the start but as the book progressed they became more selfless as her sense of responsibility towards her people grew. Iraya’s romance sub plot was a lot more interesting and while it definitely was a bit cliché, I found the way her relationship with Kirdan developed very entertaining.

Both Iraya and Jazmyne’s perspectives had distinct voices and personalities and switching between them made the tone of the book more dynamic. As the book progressed, Iraya began to realise that she could let people help her and that she didn’t have to carry the burden alone to succeed whereas Jazmyne began to realise that she couldn’t rely on the people she trusted. I thought it was clever how Iraya surrounding herself with more people and opening up was contrasted with Jazmyne becoming more isolated and closed off. It was chilling how by the end of the book they had both become what they were most afraid of at the start.

My favourite aspect of the book was that we are shown the perspectives of both the Alumbrar and Obeah in a way that makes it impossible to ‘pick a side’ because neither is fully good or evil. Whilst I was reading I felt quite anxious wondering if they would put aside their differences or if one side would come out on top in the end and how I would feel about the possible outcomes. The story emphasised how subjective notions of heroism and villainy are as Jazmyne and Iraya walked the knife edge between the two, thinking that they were breaking the cycles of hatred and violence while unknowingly perpetuating them. A part of what makes this story compelling is that there are no heroes or villains… there are just people like you and me doing what they think is best for themselves and those around them.

I adored the world Smart created. It was nuanced, exciting and full of vicious beauty. I loved the Jamaican influences, the intricate lore and traditions and it all felt very immersive and put together with love and care. I liked how the Obeah and Alumbrar magic systems were contrasted and the way these systems directly influenced and were influenced by the wider society- I especially liked the idea of gold being the conduit for magic.

Overall, the plot was twisty- driven by scheming and betrayals. However, the first half of the book was quite slow paced and the plot took a while to really get going. I do think this was necessary to set up the world, the characters and the stakes but if you dislike books structured like this then I don’t think this book will be for you. The main reason that this was a four star read not a five star read was that while I was engaged in the story and wanted to know what would happen I wasn’t as emotionally invested as I wanted to be.

Witches Steeped in Gold was a compelling read that I highly recommend, perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes. The book ended in a strong place and set everything up nicely for the next book so I think the sequel has a lot of potential to be a five star read and I’m very excited to read it!

Have you read Witches Steeped in Gold? Are you planning on reading it? Let me know in the comments!

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Uncategorized · Wrap-ups

A Year Like No Other: 2020 Reading Review

#RescuePH End SARS ~ Black Lives Matter ~ Free Palestine ~ Kashmir Bleeds 

Happy new year booksicles!

This year has been like no other and it was hard for us all to varying degrees. Now that it has come to an end I will be reflecting in this post on how this year has been overall in terms of my reading and blogging.

Although I didn’t read as many books as I had hoped to at the start of the year I did find a lot of new favourites and I am proud of what I did manage to achieve in this year of turmoil and uncertainty.

To do this, I will be using the End of Year Survey made by Jamie @ Perpetual Page Turner—  thank you so much Jamie for making such a detailed and interesting survey!

2020 READING STATS:

Number Of Books You Read: 53
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From: fantasy (who would have guessed it)

Best in books:

Best book of 2020:

I have read many amazing books this year but I’d say Mirage by Somaiya Daud was the best because it was the first book I have ever read with Moroccan and Amazighi representation. As someone who is half Moroccan and Amazighi it meant so much to me— especially as it was so beautifully done. It’s the book of my heart!

A book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t:

I was so excited to read All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace but it fell so, so flat for me.

 The most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read:

The Damned by Renée Ahdieh surprised me very much because of how unexpectedly different it was to the book before it in both good ways and bad ways.

 A book you “pushed” the most people to read (and did they?):

It was probably These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. I have been endlessly recommending this book to just about everyone and the people I have convinced to read it have loved it!

What was the best series you started in 2020? The best sequel of 2020? The best series finale of 2020?

Best series I started: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Best sequel: The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty

Best series finale: The Burning God by R. F. Kuang (the ending of this trilogy still haunts me)

 Favourite new author you discovered in 2020:

I think it would be Chloe Gong. I love her writing style and creative online book promo— I can’t wait to read what she writes in the future!

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone:

Punching the Air by Yusef Salaam and Ibi Zoboi was a brilliant and powerful novel in verse that I’d highly recommend. I’d never read a novel in verse before reading this book so it was a very new experience and I loved it.

 Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year:

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn was full of action and adventure and it was a lot of fun to read.

 A book you read in 2020 that you would be most likely to re-read next year:

I barely ever re-read books but I guess I would most likely re-read A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown because it was just that good.

Favourite cover of a book you read in 2020:Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud

Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud (which is the sequel to the book I mentioned earlier, Mirage) because of all the Moroccan and Amazighi cultural details in the book cover. It is truly stunning!

Most memorable character of 2020:

Kallia, the protagonist of Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles. I loved her vibrancy and determination, she was a force and I adored her.

Most beautifully written book read in 2020:

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong… I think some people will have found it a bit too much but I loved the writing style and was thoroughly immersed in it.

Most thought-provoking/ life-changing book of 2020:

Punching the Air by Yusef Salaam and Ibi Zoboi was extremely thought provoking in the way it took on themes like institutional racism, gentrification and hope surviving in the depths of despair.

Favourite passage/quote from a book you read in 2020:

This passage is from the anthology Once Upon an Eid, specifically from the short story Creative Fixes by Ashley Franklin:

“It’s hard to see the beauty in things when you can’t see past your insecurities”.

Shortest and longest books you read in 2020:

I got this from by Goodreads ‘year in books’.

Shortest book: The Drowning Faith by R. F. Kuang (I know it’s not technically a book but *shhhh*)

Longest book: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas (yes I actually read this 800 page smirk fest sometimes I question my life choices)

 The book that shocked you the most:

There were several contenders but I think Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko takes the cake… those plot twists!

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship):

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

I feel like I’ve talked about These Violent Delights too much already but I loved Juliette and Roma’s childhood friends to lovers to enemies to lovers to ??? romance and I will go down with this ship!

Favourite non-romantic relationship of the year:

Rin and Kitay from The Burning God by R. F. Kuang. The relationship between these two was the highlight of the book for me. The way they were inextricably intertwined in each others lives, clinging onto each other to cope with the horrors they had committed and experienced, the way they would do anything for each other until the very end made me feel all the emotions. I’ve never seen a m/f friendship so close without romance in a book before so it was also very refreshing!

Favourite book you read in 2020 from an author you’ve read previously:

Wicked as You Wish by Rin Chupeco, this is the second book by this author that I’ve read and I loved how imaginative and wild it was.

Best book you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else:

I wasn’t planning on reading Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko but I saw lots of people recommending it on Twitter and that was what convinced me to read it!

Best world building/most vivid setting you read this year:

The world building in A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown was incredible— especially for a YA fantasy novel because they usually have less.

A book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read:

Love is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann made me laugh so many times with its dry humour and relatability.

A book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2020:

The book that got closest to making me cry was probably The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty.

The book that crushed your soul:

My first thought when I read this was Attack on Titan because it definitely crushed my soul but then I remembered it was an anime so not applicable. The *book* that crushed my soul was The Burning God by R. F. Kuang with its unending despair and pain.

The most unique book you read in 2020:

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin  because I found its writing style very unique.

The book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it):

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed made me SO MAD and I didn’t like it at all. It made me mad for many reasons, which will all be in a review coming to you sometime soon, but the main reason was the casual sexism rife throughout the book.

Blogging/ bookish life:

New favourite book blog/bookstagram/YouTube channel you discovered in 2020:

SO MANY! Here are a few amazing blogs/ booktube channels that I discovered this year:

Favourite post you wrote in 2020:

It would be this recommendation post about books for fans of Avatar: the Last Airbender because it was really fun to write.

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year:

It was definitely the pandemic. Even though I had so much extra time over lockdown in which I could have read lots of books and written lots of posts I didn’t because it drained all the motivation and productivity out of me. I couldn’t do a thing. I was reading so much at the start of the year and as soon as lockdown was officially announced I read and blogged much less which seems very counterintuitive but that’s what happened.

Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views):

The recommendation post I wrote in Ramadan about SFF books by Muslim authors.

A post you wished got a little more love:

My review of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong because I put a lot of time and passion into it!

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year:

I completed my Goodreads challenge to read 50 books!

Looking Ahead:

One book you didn’t get to in 2020 but will be your number 1 priority in 2021:

Not including review copies it would be The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winters.

The book you are most anticipating for 2021 (non-debut):

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He!

2021 debut you are most anticipating:

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan!

A series ending/sequel you are most anticipating in 2021?

There are four sequels I am anticipating: A Psalm of Storms and Silence by Roseanne A. Brown, Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong, When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles and Broken Web by Lori M. Lee.

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2020:

Blog. More. Consistently. 

A 2021 release you’ve already read and recommend to everyone (if applicable):

I’ve already read Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart which comes out next year and it was so good please preorder it and give it as much support as possible!

So how was your reading year? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments! 

✨Here’s to a fabulous 2021✨

 

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Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

10 Fantasy And Sci-fi 2021 Book Releases To Be Excited About

#RescuePH ~ End SARS ~ Black Lives Matter ~ Free Palestine ~ Kashmir Bleeds 

Hello booksicles!

After a month of not posting at all… I’m back! And hopefully, I’ll be able to blog more regularly from now on. Today, I bring you 10 of my most anticipated fantasy and sci-fi releases of 2021 (not including sequels) and what an amazing year for books 2021 is set to be. I’m extremely excited and I hope after reading this post you’ll be as excited as I am!

Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha

This sounds amazing especially because it seems like it will have a lot of social commentary and discuss climate change.

Release date: January 19th 2021

Summary:52727554

A rare, searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. A streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia.

The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs.

Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government, which is run by a merciless computer algorithm that dictates every citizen’s fate. She’s a smuggler with the best robotic arm and cybernetic enhancements the slums can offer, and her cargo includes the most vulnerable of the city’s abandoned children.

When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to a pandemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction.

[Add on Goodreads]

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

I love the sound of this West African inspired fantasy- especially the ‘fighting the emperor in an army of girls’ bit!

Release date: February 9th 2021

Summary:61D-I3FLNnL

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

[Add on Goodreads]

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman 

A YA sci-fi that has been pitched as ‘Warcross meets Black Mirror’… what’s not to love?

Release date: April 6th 2021

Summary:54304172

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.

The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.

When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.

As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.

From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity.

[Add on Goodreads]

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

I actually have an arc of this book which I’m hoping to read this month and I can’t wait! How can you not be excited by the prospect of this revenge-driven, Jamaican-inspired fantasy?

Release date: April 20th 2021

Summary:51813582._SY475_

Divided by their castes. United by their vengeance.

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom—and vengeance.

Jazmyne is the queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.

Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain—except the lengths they will go to win this game.

Deadly, fierce, magnetically addictive: this Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut is a thrilling journey where dangerous magic reigns supreme and betrayal lurks beneath every word.

[Add on Goodreads]

The Ones We Left Behind by Joan He

Joan He is the queen of plot twists and earth-shattering endings so I can’t wait to be destroyed by this book. And the cover is just *swoons*.

(the author has had a lot of legal issues with the publisher of her first book which incurred big legal fees so it’s even more important to preorder this book if you can to show your support)

Release date: May 4th 2021

Summary:54017953

One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars with sci-fi scope, Lost with a satisfying resolution.

Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.

STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those commited to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.

[Add on Goodreads]

Son of the Storm by by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

I love reading books about fantasy scholars because I can always relate to their bookishness and love of learning. And I’m intrigued about the aspect of the story that involved discovering suppressed histories!

Release date: May 11th 2021

Summary:55277030

A young scholar’s ambition threatens to reshape an empire determined to retain its might in this epic tale of violent conquest, buried histories, and forbidden magic.

In the thriving city of Bassa, Danso is a clever but disillusioned scholar who longs for a life beyond the rigid family and political obligations expected of the city’s elite. A way out presents itself when Lilong, a skin-changing warrior, shows up wounded in his barn. She comes from the Nameless Islands–which, according to Bassa lore, don’t exist–and neither should the mythical magic of ibor she wields. Now swept into a conspiracy far beyond his understanding, Danso will have to set out on a journey that reveals histories violently suppressed and magic only found in lore. 

[Add on Goodreads]

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

I’ve heard this book has a most excellent enemies to lovers romance and I’m intrigued that it’s inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology

Release date: June 8th 2021

Summary:cover211725-medium

In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.

[Add on Goodreads]

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan 

Everything EVERYTHING about this adult historical fantasy sounds amazing!

Release date: July 20th 2021

Summary:48727813._UY1143_SS1143_

Mulan meets The Song of Achilles in Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, a bold, queer, and lyrical reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty from an amazing new voice in literary fantasy.

To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything

“I refuse to be nothing…”

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

[Add on Goodreads]

The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad

The cover of this book was released recently and I am completely and utterly in love with it… I could just frame it and stare at it all day long.

Release date: August 3rd 2021

Summary:https___culturess.com_files_image-exchange_2017_07_ie_61444

From William C. Morris Finalist Nafiza Azad comes a thrilling, feminist fantasy about a group of teenage girls endowed with special powers who must band together to save the life of the boy whose magic saved them all.

Meet the Wild Ones: girls who have been hurt, abandoned, and betrayed all their lives. It all began with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother and sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escapes, she runs headlong into a boy with stars in his eyes. This boy, as battered as she is, tosses Paheli a box of stars before disappearing.

With the stars, Paheli gains access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like herself and these Wild Ones use their magic to travel the world, helping the hopeless and saving others from the fates they suffered.

Then Paheli and the Wild Ones learn that the boy who gave them the stars, Taraana, is in danger. He’s on the run from powerful forces within the world of magic. But if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And that…is a fate the Wild Ones refuse to accept. Ever again.

[Add on Goodreads]

Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan

I LOVE A GOOD DUAL POV NARRATIVE!

Release date: November 2nd 2021

Summary:51062420._SY475_

Told in a dual POV narrative reminiscent of An Ember in the Ashes, Jade Fire Gold is a YA fantasy is inspired by East Asian mythology and folk tales. Epic in scope but intimate in characterization, fans of classic fantasies by Tamora Pierce and the magical Asiatic setting of Avatar: the Last Airbender will enjoy this cinematic tale of family, revenge, and forgiveness.

In order to save her grandmother from a cult of dangerous priests, a peasant girl cursed with the power to steal souls enters a tenuous alliance with an exiled prince bent on taking back the Dragon Throne. The pair must learn to trust each other but are haunted by their pasts—and the true nature of her dark magic.

[Add on Goodreads]

What are you most anticipated 2021 fantasy/ sci-fi book releases? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments!

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Reviews · Uncategorized

She Will Reign: Review of All the Stars and Teeth

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

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

Book: All the Stars and Teeth

Author: Adalyn Grace

Year Published: 2020

Content Warnings: violence, death, suicide, sexual assault (mentioned), abusive relationship (a detailed list by the author can be found here)

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 3/5
  • Writing: 3.5/5
  • Overall: 3/5

I was incredibly excited to read All the Stars and Teeth and while I liked the book, it didn’t fully live up to my expectations.

While I admired her ferocity, I couldn’t connect to or root for the protagonist, Amora. Something about her characterisation felt so… detached. I felt the same way about the love interest, Bastian. The only two characters I actually liked and cared about were Amora’s friend, Ferrick, and Vataea (who was a mermaid). I honestly wish the book was about them instead.

My favourite aspect was the magic system. There were seven islands in the Kingdom of Visidia and each one had its own type of magic out of soul, elemental, enchantment, mind, time, restoration or curse. I did appreciate how original this system was- especially the enchantment magic and the sinister soul magic. 

The book did have a lot of potential, especially in its exploration of the corruptive effects power and how it seeps down like poison through generations. However, my lack of connection to the main characters meant the impact was lost on me and I didn’t even care about the plot enough to be shocked by the twists and turns.

I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequel but I’d still recommend this book to anyone who like books with pirates, mermaids, interesting magic systems and heirs fighting for their right to rule. If it sounds intriguing to you, give it a go- you might like it more than I did!

What were your thoughts on All the Stars and Teeth? Do you have any recommendations of books with mermaids/ sirens? Let me know in the comments!

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Interviews · Uncategorized

Sereadipity Interviews… Mahtab Rohan On Her Debut Your Heart After Dark (Rapid Fire!)

Hello my booksicles!

I’m very excited to be sharing the rapid fire interview I did with Mahtab Rohan about her debut novel: Your Heart After Dark. I am very excited to read this paranormal contemporary with Muslim rep (!!!) and I am very grateful for the time Mahtab took to answer my questions!

Here’s a bit about the book [add it on Goodreads]:

Maria Chaudhry’s personal demons trap her in a downward spiral, but the beast lurking in Ehmet’s blood can do a lot worse than that.

After a year of living in a prissy suburb, Maria Chaudhry is back downtown. Back to what she never wanted to leave. But she can’t really enjoy it since neither the living nor the dead will leave her in peace.

JC’s death still keeps her up at night and Ehmet’s sudden ambivalence isn’t helping. Maybe she had read his signals wrong and Ehmet was never in love with her like she thought. Or maybe his love is tangled with secrets too dark to speak aloud, secrets about JC’s death and the unpredictable beast in Ehmet’s blood.

When an upcoming hiking trip is cancelled, there’s no pretty path left towards the truth. A growing spiral of deceit threatens to tear Maria and Ehmet apart forever, but the beast lurking within Ehmet can do a lot worse than that.

Mahtab Rohan’s debut YA novel delivers a paranormal tale of crumbling friendships, malevolent secrets, and the struggle to have hope in the face of uncertainty.

Interview

Pitch Your Heart After Dark in one sentence:

A desi Muslim teen deals with dysfunctional family & her crush hiding that he’s a werewolf involved in her friend’s death.

Describe yourself in 5 words:

President: Secretly-Hates-Weddings Association

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I’m an ex-planster turned full-time plotter.

A fun fact about one of the characters in Your Heart After Dark:

Ehmet is a significant character in a related urban fantasy I’ll be working on soon.

What was the biggest change from the first to the last draft?

The POV changing from third to first person. Yes, I rewrote THE ENTIRE thing.

Why did you choose to write in the supernatural genre?

I didn’t choose the supernatural– the supernatural chose me. Really though, I can’t write pure contemporary. I’m not sure why. I have a hard time reading purely contemporary books, too.

What inspired you the most to write Your Heart After Dark?

Lingering teenage angst. [big mood]

Your favourite books as a child:

Franklin, Clifford The Big Red Dog, The Cloud Book, books on endangered & unique species.

As a kid, I loved those book order forms we got in school. I don’t think there was anyone else in my class who was as obsessed with them as me, even though I rarely got to actually order anything.

Your favourite book of 2020:

I can’t say! 2020 isn’t over yet!

Your most anticipated release of 2021:

WE FREE THE STARS by Hafsah Faizal. Someone please cryofreeze me.

[I’m excited for this one too!]

The author that most inspires you:

I find Hafsah Faizal inspiring because she’s basically the most visible type of Muslim woman there is and she’s not sorry for it. Every time I see her on a graphic for a convention or workshop, I just think about how powerful the image is.

Your favourite word:

Majawar (roughly translates to “religious mendicant”).

What is your favourite quote from Your Heart After Dark?

“There’s no easy way to stop loving someone.”

Do you have a tip for overcoming writer’s block?

If I have writer’s block, I take time away from writing and do some reading, or I work on a different writing project. I always have books and sources of inspiration I can go to if I need a quick pick-me-up.

If my writer’s block gets real bad, I recite a prayer that Moses said when God asked him to approach Pharaoh.

[I love this answer so much!]

Describe the Kashmir-inspired YA fantasy you’re currently writing in one sentence:

Aided by a mountain-dweller who hates royalty, undercover rani Neelum journeys through a treacherous mountain to find a cure for her dying cousin.

[This sounds like the book of my dreams- I can’t wait]

About the author:

Mahtab Rohan is a Canadian writer of South Asian & Himalayan descent. Rohan was born in Ontario and currently resides in the relentlessly cold Canadian Prairies. When she’s not writing stories that keep her up at night, she’s busy perfecting her square rotis and tutoring English. 

Thank you again to Mahtab Rohan for taking the time to answer my questions!

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Reviews · Uncategorized

A Must-read For Everyone: Review of Punching the Air

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

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

Book: Punching the Air

Summary

From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo.

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.

The story that I think

will be my life

starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.

Authors: Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Year Published: 2020

Content Warnings: wrongful conviction and imprisonment, racism, abuse, violence

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

Punching the Air was a powerful novel in verse about a Black Muslim boy who was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Words can hardly covey the profundity of this book- my advice to anyone reading this review is to read Punching the Air as soon as possible and experience it for yourself.

The writing was raw and hard-hitting. There were so many times when I gasped at the sheer emotion packed into the words and the beauty of how they were expressed. Amal’s despair, love, anger and hope were palpable and conveyed in such a genuine voice. It didn’t shy away from exploring the emotional, spiritual and physical toll imprisonment took on Amal.

Their words and what they thought
to be their truth
were like a scalpel

shaping me into
the monster
they want me to be

The way the novel was crafted was genius. The imagery, the way the words were arranged on the page and the illustrations made it seem like a work of art in and of itself. Amal was an artist and a poet so the format of the book was fitting and felt like an insight to his mind. We see his inner thoughts, musings and coping mechanisms and they felt so authentic for a sixteen year old. He was just a boy, often seen as a man, trying to hang on to his art, his faith, his love and his hope in a world that was trying to crush him.

For a relatively short read, it was packed with social commentary on issues like institutional racism, gentrification and prison abolition. The way it focused on the devastating and far reaching consequences racism had on not only on Amal’s life but on that of everyone around him made it intensely personal and emotive

Dr. Yusef Salaam is a member of the Exonerated Five and is now doing inspiring work as a prison reform activist (I’d recommend researching more about his story, there is a documentary about it called The Central Park Five). Amal’s story was inspired by his own experience of being wrongfully convicted and imprisoned at only fifteen years old and knowing that added a whole new dimension and depth to the words on the page. 


I was punching
the air
the clouds
the sun


for pressing
down on me
on us
so hard
that the weight
of the world
made us crack
split in half
break into pieces

I had never read a novel in verse before this one but I definitely would love to read more in the future! Punching the Air was a powerful novel that is definitely a must-read for everyone. I highly recommend it!

Have you read Punching the Air? What were your thoughts?

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Blog Tours · Uncategorized

Blog Tour: Crowning Soul by Sahira Javaid

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

Hello booksicles! Today I bring you my stop on the Crowning Soul blog tour (hosted by Qamar Blog Tours) with some information about the book and mood boards!

About the book:

  • Title: Crowning Soul
  • Author: Sahira Javaid
  • Publication date: September 8th, 2020
  • Genre: YA Fantasycrowning soul cover-1696946039..jpg

Synopsis:

Be swept away in this unique fantasy debut from Sahira Javaid. A spellbinding adventure of belonging, finding hope and where the price of a soul is another soul’s fate. Perfect for the fans of InuYasha, Children of Blood and Bone and The Candle and The Flame.

Nezha Zaman considers her gift to control fire a dangerous secret. A secret that unravels when she encounters a vengeful shadow jinni in a maze garden that has been stalking her family, and knows about her power.

Weeks after seeing the demonic being, Nezha is torn from her world through her backyard pond and transported into another dimension which sought out the light inside her heart.

Nezha learns from two unicorns that the dimension is her family’s roots, and the light is a fragment of an angel’s shattered soul. The three must work together to find the soul’s shards in a land teeming with shape-shifting jinn.

If Nezha fails to stop the corrupted Iron Prince, the malevolent jinn at his side will shatter her soul next.

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Mood boards:

Here are the mood boards I made inspired by the book! They are based on three of the main characters: Nezha, Sapphire and Thunderbolt.

Nezha MoodboardThunderbolt & Sapphire Moodboard

About the author:

Sahira Javaid is a YA Fantasy writer and poetess from Ottawa who shares her poems on her Twitter page and her website. Fond of animals, nature and learning, she passes time with reading about the world around her, nature’s healing ways, chatting with friends and making others smile and laugh every time she gets. Her poetry book Crack of Dawn is available on Amazon and other online retailers.

Twitter  Website  Pinterest  Goodreads

Thank you to Qamar Blog Tours for making this possible!

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Reviews

Abandon Thought: Review of Where Dreams Descend

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

Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me with an digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: Where Dreams Descend

Summary

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

Author: Janella Angeles

Year Published: 2020

Content Warnings: misogyny, character death, emotional abuse, manipulation

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

Where Dreams Descend is one of those rare books that actually surpassed my expectations. It seemed like the sort of book I would like but I didn’t think I would end up adoring everything about it!

Months after reading it, the characters and story are still fresh in my mind. Drawing inspiration from The Phantom of the Opera and Moulin Rouge, Angeles crafted a world that will lure you in with its lavish façade only to trap you in the sinister claws of its secrets.

The book is set in a world where magic could be acquired and rarely, a gift one could be born with. However, it was only socially acceptable for men to take their magic to the stage and become show magicians. Women were expected to only use their magic (although it was often stronger) for labour and domestic tasks. The closest they could get to the spotlight was being a showgirl in an underground club or bar

“Why else destroy light if not envious of its radiance?”

Which brings us to Kallia, a showgirl in one of the aforementioned underground clubs who escaped to join a competition for magicians and carve her name into the spotlight.

Now when I say Kallia is a queen and deserves the world I really do mean it. I loved her determination and ambition, her sass and flair for the dramatic. She knew that she was talented and she demanded the recognition she was due. She faced the sexism in her world head on and was not afraid to put up a fight. There truly is nothing more satisfying than reading about Kallia putting another crusty, misogynistic man in their place. The sexism in the book had parallels with our world, especially the sexism in the entertainment industry.

For much of her life, Kallia was isolated from the world and manipulated. The book addressed her struggle with trauma because of this, hidden beneath a confident and arrogant mask. As well as her flamboyance, there was a vulnerable side to Kallia too. A part of her that was scared to show weakness, scared of failure, scared to let people in, scared that she wasn’t enough. This made her all the more relatable for me.

“Their first mistake was in thinking obstacles gave them an upper hand. Little did they know, she would always find a way to grow through cracks in the stone.”

Another character worth mentioning is Daron. Normally I don’t like the ‘broody love interest with a Tragic Past™’ trope but Angeles pulled it off. I liked how he gradually softened and opened up as Kallia (and the reader) got to know him. And I loved how his slightly awkward and sombre nature contrasted with Kallia’s vibrant character.

“She narrowed her eyes on each judge all the way to the end, and met Daron’s stare with a wink.”

The romance was sweet and full of yearning without being the main focus of the plot- we even get a swoony dance scene! And I’ve seen people saying this book has a love triangle in it but I disagree, to me it seemed like Kallia knew who she wanted to be with and there was only one love interest.

I loved Kallia’s friendship with her assistant, Aaros, and how he was always there to support her (although I wish we got to know more about him). I also loved the friendships she made with Canary and the circus women and how they found kinship and strength in one another. Another side character I liked was Lottie de la Rosa and I hope we see more of her in the sequel.

I can never resist a book with a strong sense of atmosphere and this book definitely delivered in that respect. It was full of elaborateness, music, dancing and glamour with ominous undertones lurking in the background. I loved Angeles’ gorgeous writing and imagery that reflected Kallia’s personality with its drama and intensity.

So you might be wondering: Umairah, if you loved this book so much why did you drop off half a star? And the answer to that would be: the plot. While I loved the mystery, magic and theatrics of the plot, the ending was extremely open ended. It didn’t answer any of the questions the story brought up and left me with even more of them. Personally, I like endings with a bit more resolution but I hope the sequel wraps up all the loose ends.

Where Dreams Descend was a spectacular (or should I say Spectaculore) read that had similar vibes to The Night Circus and gave me everything I found lacking in Caraval. It is a book that tackles themes like misogyny and trauma head on and I would highly recommend it!

What did you think of Where Dreams Descend? Have you read any other books featuring a magical competition/ game? Let me know in the comments!

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Reviews · Uncategorized

A New Favourite: Review of The Kingdom of Copper

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

Book: The Kingdom of Copper

Summary

Return to Daevabad in the spellbinding sequel to THE CITY OF BRASS.

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her familyand one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid, the unpredictable water spirits, have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

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!

Have you read The City of Brass? What do you think about political fantasies? Let me know in the comments!

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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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