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!

Twitter Goodreads

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?

Twitter Goodreads

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.

Amazon  Goodreads

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!

Twitter Goodreads

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!

Twitter Goodreads

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!

Twitter Goodreads

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!

Twitter Goodreads

Book Tags · Uncategorized

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag- 2020 Edition!

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

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!

Twitter Goodreads

 

Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water

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

Book: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water

Author: Zen Cho

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 3.5/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 3/5
  • Overall: 3.5/5

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water was a novella pitched as a found family wuxia fantasy. It was a fun read with a fair bit of humour but it also had the themes of war, religion and identity woven in. 

The book really focused on the found family trope and I really liked the ragtag group of bandits and the strong bonds between them. I loved Tet Sang and Guet Imm so much and the way their relationship developed was perfect in every way. However, I couldn’t connect with any other characters apart from them and I wish the side characters got more ‘screen time’ too.

Although the book is described as wuxia there was definitely less martial arts action and more focus on world building, the dynamics between the characters, their emotions and how they were dealing with past traumas. Personally, I liked that about the novella but if you’re looking for an action-packed book this might not be for you.

I found the writing style quite hard to follow, some of the phrasing felt off to me and I had to go back and reread bits of it to understand what was happening. However, I really liked the dialogue and banter between the characters- quite a few scenes made me laugh. Even though it was a novella it packed in a lot of world building but in an interesting way that gradually revealed more about the world, the war, the customs and the religious beliefs.

I would definitely recommend this book as it’s a short, fun but also meaningful read however I do wish some aspects of characterization and plot had a bit more depth.

Twitter Goodreads


Sereadipity supports Black Lives Matter and stands against racism and discrimination in all its forms. I intend to work harder to uplift Black voices and books by Black authors.

This carrd is constantly being updated with petitions, ways to donate, resources to educate ourselves and more. This thread by Myonna @itsmyoreads on Twitter has a list of videos by Black booktubers talking about Black Lives Matter, allyship and being Black in the book community that I’d recommend to watch and subscribe to their channels as well.

Reviews · Uncategorized

The Black Cat: Review of The Court of Miracles

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

Book: The Court of Miracles

Author: Kester Grant

Year Published: 2020

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

The Court of Miracles was a novel inspired by Les Misérables, set in an alternate, early 1800s Paris where the French Revolution had failed. There was a lot that I liked and enjoyed about the book but I also felt a lack of connection to the characters and the plot which lessened the overall impact for me.

The story followed Nina Thénardier for many years of her life, with a few time skips, who was a member of the Thieves’ Guild of The Court of Miracles constantly trying to protect those she loved. The Court of Miracles was basically a criminal underworld consisting of people cast out from and struggling in society, seeking the safety, protection and belonging they couldn’t find anywhere else. It was divided into nine guilds with different specialties for example The Guild of Thieves, The Guild of Smugglers, The Guild of Assassins, etc. Things like race, religion and even family ties made no difference in the Miracle Court.

Nina was clever, agile and decisive, the best thief of her guild and known as ‘The Black Cat’. She often got herself into and out of dangerous situations and came up with complex plots to achieve her goals. There was no boundary, no obstacle she would overcome to protect and save her loved ones. I admired her survival instinct and bravery but there was something missing and I couldn’t bring myself to care. I think it’s because I found the writing style quite detached and sometimes even disjointed and I struggled to understand her feelings, motivations and thought processes. However, I did find her relationship with Ettie (her adopted sister) really sweet.

The mysterious Miracle Court with its rules, conflicts and lore was well fleshed out and I also liked how the book conveyed the grim depths of the struggles of the poor and contrasted it to the opulent indifference of the rich. The plot had multiple time skips and minimal explanation of what was happening in favour of explaining the world and history that made it very hard to follow and connect with, so much so that even the major plot twists at the end had little to no effect on me. However, I had no prior knowledge of Les Misérables so maybe if I did it would have helped, I’m not sure.

Overall, I liked The Court of Miracles but while it had the makings of a new favourite it fell short for me and I’m still not sure if I’ll want to read the sequel, however, if it sounds like an interesting read to you I’d still reccomend you to give it a try.

Twitter Goodreads


Sereadipity supports Black Lives Matter and stands against racism and discrimination in all its forms. I intend to work harder to uplift Black voices and books by Black authors.

This carrd is constantly being updated with petitions, ways to donate, resources to educate ourselves and more. This thread by Myonna @itsmyoreads on Twitter has a list of videos by Black booktubers talking about Black Lives Matter, allyship and being Black in the book community that I’d recommend to watch and subscribe to their channels as well.

Interviews · Uncategorized

Sereadipity Interviews… Kathryn Purdie!

Hello my booksicles!

I’m so excited to share the interview I did with Kathryn Purdie a while back about her latest novel, Bone Crier’s Moon, which came out earlier in the year. I’m really appreciate the time she took to answer my questions!

Here’s a bit about the book:

Bone ​Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.

Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.

Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die.

Interview:

In the book, women called Bone Criers enhanced their abilities through bone graces- magic obtained from animal bones. What inspired this concept?

The spark of my book idea came from “Les Dames Blanches” in French folklore, women in white who kill men who refuse to dance with them on bridges. But the bone magic was my own creation. I wanted the Bone Criers’ power to come from the gods. They receive their life force from the moon goddess, but their bone magic is a darker magic that comes from animal blood rituals made to the god of the Underworld. It’s supposed to be something the reader morally questions, and the character Sabine does that as well. I’m not sure where the idea of bone magic came from originally. It was just part of my brainstorming all possibilities for magic when I first conceived this book idea.

Much of the story takes place in vast catacombs sprawling below the ground. Were they inspired by a real place?

The catacombs in the story were inspired by the catacombs below Paris. My fascination from them started when I watched a movie adaptation of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA years ago. I have a good friend who has toured illegal sections of the Paris catacombs twice, and I consulted her extensively to try to portray them accurately.

Describe the three main characters- Sabine, Ailesse and Bastien- in three haikus!

Ailesse:
Heir of her famille,
a girl with tiger-shark strength
dares to love boldly.
Bastien:
Best thief of Dovré,
a boy who lived for revenge
finds love deadly sweet.
Sabine:
Loyal, kind, and wise,
a gentle friend discovers
her own inner strength.

The phases of the moon were very important to the Bone Criers- particularly the full moon and new moon. Why did you give the moon such significance?

A natural by-product for me of writing a story about a matriarchal society was featuring the moon. Most cultures’ moon deities are female, and the moon often carries a female connotation and is connected with feminine power. The new moon is the night the Bone Crier’s have been restrained to ferry on for generations, but they were meant to ferry on the full moon, too, when their goddess’s strength is at its full power. That’s all I can say without spoiling too much, but you’ll see how this idea comes into play in the book if you read it carefully. 🙂

How do you create your characters? Do they walk into your mind fully formed or do you build them up gradually? How do you decide on names?

I let a book idea percolate for a while, and then the main characters tend to land in my head. I didn’t want BONE CRIER’S MOON to just be about a star-crossed romance between Ailesse and Bastien, and so I quickly formed the character of Sabine. Female friendship, or “sisterhood,” is really at the core of this story for me. Sabine is also an important character in that she is the one Bone Crier who questions their way of life. She really balances out the story and gives the reader constant eyes on the villain, as well.

I spend a lot of time thinking about names. They’re a critical part in developing each character for me. It takes me several days to find the perfect name for each one. In BONE CRIER’S MOON, most of the names are French, and if they’re not French, they’re very ancient, like “Odiva.” For me, that was an important way to give the story a mythological feel. I make sure that the character’s name meaning also goes hand-in-hand with who they are. For example, “Ailesse” means “supernatural victory.”

If you had to choose one Bone Crier’s Moon character to swap places with for a day, who would you pick and why?

I would choose to be Sabine. Her graces aren’t as overwhelming as Ailesse’s–I really wouldn’t like to have a sixth sense pricking at me all the time–and Sabine is also with Odiva often. I think Odiva is fascinating, and I’d love to study her for a day.

Are there any ideas or research that you really wanted to include in the book but couldn’t make fit?

I researched many animals and their awesome abilities extensively. Several animals I didn’t include in the book because they either don’t have bones (I’m looking at you, amazing sea creatures like jellyfish) or they wouldn’t live in a geographical area like southern France (the region that inspired my world).

Can you give us any hints as to what to expect from the sequel to Bone Crier’s Moon?

In the sequel, BONE CRIER’S DAWN, you’ll get to know a new character really well, one of the Bone Criers will obtain two new grace bones, and another one will travel to a very exciting and dangerous supernatural place. You’ll also come to understand the two major gods in the story better, their motives, more.

About the author:

Kathryn is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the BURNING GLASS series. Her love of storytelling began as a young girl when her dad told her about someone named Boo Radley while they listened to the film score of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Kathryn is a trained classical actress who studied at the Oxford School of Drama. She also writes songs on her guitar for each of her stories and shares them on her website. Kathryn lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and three children.