June Wrap-Up

Hello Readers! another month has passed & with it comes my typically-late-thus-making-it-right-on-time? Wrap Up smh haha! this time around I excluded my haul simply because Bookcon happened & in one day I managed to haul way too many books & that’s not including my regular books bought for the month. Also, I posted my Bookcon haul last year & that was all fine and well because I was new in the blogosphere & was very excited to share my 1st bookish event. Whelp, 1 year later I was still very excited to attend Bookcon but this time around I’d like to think I was a bit more wiser & aware of all the drama surrounding ARCS. Not to mention that book hauls from these types of conventions tend to generate negative attention & I’m not here for that. So I decided to skip the haul & just speak about the event itself…

The best part of the event was seeing my twin aka bff Gretchen who most of you know has a blog called ChicNerdReads (pictured below in the glasses next to me). My hubby also accompanied us which is always fun since he’s also a reader & I’m his source for new book recommendations. The event seemed to have been dominated by Penguin with giveaways every hour on the hour as well as author signings. This made for extremely long lines, stampedes, and overall madness tbh…

I am honestly surprised to have acquired the ARCS that I did but it wasn’t easy & took a bit of prioritizing. Gretchen & I pre-gamed for this event mapping out which books we were aiming for & I do believe this actually helped as much as we thought otherwise during the event. Overall, the event & it’s lack of organization was terrible for our anxiety. The positive however is that we got to spend the whole weekend surrounded by BOOKS & talking about BOOKS and that’s always a fun time no matter what. Also! we met another Puerto-Rican Bookworm who had flown in for the event. She told us about getting caught in the stampede for Warcross on Saturday & how after hours of standing in line she walked away w/out the ARC. My hubby gave up his ARC to Warcross which we had at home. We shipped it to PR & when it arrived she sent me a very happy text which made my week 🙂

Me (left side) & Gretchen (right side)

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Bearly a Lady (Novella) by Cassandra Khaw ★★★★1/2 (4.5 Stars)

Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue ★★★★★ 5 Stars

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) *Conclusion to duology w/spoilers for This Savage Song ★★★★★ 5 Stars 

Although for the month of June I only read YA, each book was so different from each other that it honestly felt like I read diversely. I read some books with hard topics like Saints and Misfits and Bad Romance which led me to discovering two amazing authors. I had a ton of fun reading The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue and Bearly a Lady (novella) with many laughs. Started a new Diverse Fantasy with Song of the Current & can’t wait to read the sequel to this du-ology. I also read the conclusion to monsters of Verity…Our Dark Duet broke me yet it is the most satisfying conclusion I’ve ever read. Yea, I was a bit all over the place but my reading reflected my life as a whole in June haha!

My most highly anticipated flick for 2017 DID NOT DISAPPOINT! Wonder Woman had me engaged from the opening scene. I have always been fascinated by the Amazons & Wonder Woman has always been a icon for me…getting her back story on the big screen felt like the best earliest Christmas gift I never thought to ask for LOL! little Diana was lively & eager to learn the ways of the Amazons & seeing her natural born instincts play out gave her a new sparkle in my eyes. My only regret is not reviewing this movie on the blog when my feels were fresh haha. I loved the entire cast, humor, fight scenes, and plot as a whole! my interest in The Justice League sky rocketed after leaving the theater googling for any bit of early news hinting at a sequel to Wonder Woman. For those who didn’t think Wonder Woman deserved her own solo debut…Gal Gadot sure showed you *5 Stars* 😉

My second date night with the hubby (we got lucky in June with sitting) was great & all but Transformers The Last Night was lackluster. I was really rooting for this one more for the hubby’s enjoyment than mine really. I just went to see Markie Mark & Bumble Bee but the irony in that I tell ya smh! So, as a lover of all Mark Whalberg’s movies I can go ahead and say this…In my opinion, he should’ve never accepted the lead role no matter how badly he wanted to realize his childhood dream of playing with life sized Transformers #jussayin. Love me some Markie Mark but that role really needs to go to another younger guy (not shia Labeouf, that ship has sailed). I’m hoping that the history they introduced means we are due a new main character *fingers crossed* I found myself bored & ended up rating this movie *3.5 stars* 😦

Happy reading in July Bookworms!!! Hope you all had a wonderful June month & are enjoying your summer reads. Read or watched any of these? drop a comment down below <3’s!

ARC Review: Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: June 13th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemp/Diverse

Pages: 352 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*Trigger warning: attempted rape

*HUGE thanks to Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, Netgalley & S.K. Ali for the eGalley copy of Saints and Misfits

Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tight knit Muslim community think of her then?

Before I get into my review of this wonderful gemstone of a book, I’d like to include two #Ownvoices reviews I found on Goodreads. Both Leenahreads (Muslim & Arab) & Hadeer (Muslim & Egyptian) give a perspective that is much needed in the community & appreciated by this bookworm. Also, today is the release day for Saints and Misfits & on behalf of LairOfBooks, I’d like to wish S.K. Ali a very happy book birthday!!!

In Saints and Misfits we follow our main protagonist Janna Yusuf who is a Arab Indian-American hijabi teen navigating life within her Muslim community & High School. Janna finds herself having a major crush on Jeremy, a Irish student in her school that is non-Muslim. With these feelings come a slew of questions we get to see Janna find answers to along the way. We are introduced to Janna’s family & friends as well as the community she is very involved with. The daughter of divorced/co-parenting parents, living with her mom & slightly older brother…Janna & her family are already viewed as different within their own community. Having a crush on a non-Muslim boy complicates things for her & to add to her plate, she’s harboring a hurtful secret. Janna doesn’t know whether she will be believed if she speaks up since the secret is about a respected individual in the community. This is a story about self reflection, family, community, identity, friendship, strength, faith & courage to face your fears.

Ever come across a fictional character who has qualities you yourself wish you possessed? such is the case with my admiration of Janna Yusuf. She is by no means perfect but strong willed and firm in her beliefs. Like any teenager she deals with High School crushes and social pressures both on & offline. Seeing her navigate through certain situations gives you a feeling that you’re reading one confident character. For the most part Janna is confident which was refreshing, I loved seeing her take pride in wearing Hijab. Janna’s sarcasm proved to be one of my fave qualities since witty characters always win me over. Perhaps my most favorite trait of Jannas is her interactions with those around her & how empathetic she is even when she doesn’t want to be lol. I also loved the relationship between Janna and her slightly older brother Muhammad. Throughout the book Janna’s older brother is courting another Muslim girl his age & he has asked Janna to supervise their dates. Janna does so even though she’s not a fan of his romantic interest & in doing so we get to see them spend more time around one another. It was nice seeing Muhammad be so attentive to Janna that he was able to pick up on there being something wrong. His genuine concern for his little sister made me wish he was my big brother *sobs*

Janna also has a non-Muslim bestie  who I’m just going to go ahead and say it….Tats = Ride or Die Bestie for life! Tats is such an amazing friend to Janna & respectful of her beliefs even when social pressure got in the mix. Of course they had moments where Tats didn’t understand fully but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Ultimately Tats respected Janna & had her back, love seeing positive f/f relationships. Lastly, one of my fave characters was Mr. Ram who lived in Janna’s complex and who Janna would take to/from a community center for the elderly. Mr. Ram has a passion for poetry & for encouraging Janna to pursue what makes her happy whether it’s sketching or photography. He imparted so much wisdom to Janna & just loved life so much his good spirits were contagious right through the page. There were many other characters in this book but I fear that going into them all would take away from the fun it was getting to know them. Overall, an amazing cast of characters!

I have so much love for this book I don’t even know where to start honestly! as a diverse blogger, I know the importance of seeing these books on our shelves. Most recently I read a Latinx YA book that left me smiling from ear to ear because I saw myself on the pages. In reading reviews such as the ones I linked in the intro to my review, I get a sense that this will be the case for many Muslim, Hijab, Arab, Indian-American readers. I can honestly say this book gave me so much more than a few hours of enjoyment, the lessons I took away are of much higher value. S.K. Ali organically wove bits & pieces of culture, religion, and faith throughout Saints and Misfits making for a rich reading experience. Our main protagonist is holding onto a hurtful secret & Ali gives us a realistic view of the situation. What it really would be like to expose a religious leader & the ugly truth of it all. A strong message is delivered ,many will stand against you but also, many will stand WITH you. The strong theme of community at the core plays an integral role in Janna’s life & I believe Ali captured that well with Saints and Misfits. I 100% reccomend this book to any & all, I just can’t wait to read more from S.K. Ali! 🙂

Will you be picking up Saints and Misfits today? If you’ve already read & reviewed, please drop a link & I’ll most def swing by your corner of the interwebz 😉

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words and to participate all you have to do is answer the three W’s listed below. Once you’ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Sam’s comments <3’s!

The questions are:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently at the 50% mark in The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King & enjoying Kalinda’s strong character. However, I will say that this one reads more like an adult Fantasy than YA. Which to me makes sense given the nature of this story. You have a tyrant who is in search of his 100th wife; a tyrant who also keeps courtesans. Then we have Kalinda who doesn’t really fit the mold of the women the Tyrant has “claimed” but somehow manages to be chosen as the 100th Rani aka wife which puts her in a high position = only to that of his 1st wife. With a target on her back, Kalinda has to fight for her thrown as per tradition, one that she never wanted in the 1st place. My main interest is Kalinda & her forbidden power as well as the others like her outside the palace walls that share her powers. We shall see how I feel about this one soon…

I recently finished reading Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia & I can’t stop thinking about it! so good! I thought it would be a cute story to read in prep for the Summer days but it turned out to be so much more than that. I was lucky to be approved for an eGalley but when I saw it arrive in my Owlcrate box this month I couldn’t stop hugging it lol. Full review to post tomorrow Thursday. Before that I read New Boy by Tracy Chevalier (review here) which is part of the Shakespeare Hogarth collection. New boy was short but powerful. A inside look to the effects of racism passed down to children. The setting is a playground in a all white school during the 70’s Nixon administration. This book rattled me & left me deep in thought.

Gahhhhh! 2 reads I am so excited to get to & thankful to have been approved for. Saints and Misfits is one that I was highly anticipating ever since I laid eyes on the cover & S.K. Ali is just an overall sweetheart who is very interactive & reachable to her readers (LOVE THAT!). I recently received a Owlcrate box that had a promo card for Song Of The Current (Song Of The Current #1) which led me straight to Goodreads. I love my fantasy, it’s what I read & review most on LairOfBooks so it came as no surprise that a river God, pirates, and magic would call my name. Really looking forward to these two 😉

What are you all currently reading? planning to read next? any good ones? & if you’re reading any of the ones I mentioned, let me know down in the comments what your 1st impressions were <3’s!