TOP TEN TUESDAY : FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2019

I was going to do a similar post on my own about this anyway, but since it gels with the weekly TOP TEN TUESDAY, all the better! What better way to wrap up the year? I’ll talk about my favorite releases from 2019 here only.

Doing a TTT after what feels ages. It’s good to be slowing finding my blogging foot back.


The Beantown Girls | Jane Healey

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this gem of a book. Three friends join as volunteers in Red Cross Clubmobile girls during World War II. My favorite thing about this book is probably the female friendships. But it’s also about courage and love.

You can find my review here.

 

Have You Seen Luis Velez? | Catherine Ryan Hyde

Another ARC that I loved. An uplifting and heartwarming coming-of-age story about a black teenager living with his white mother and her family from her second marriage to a white guy. He finally finds a sense of belonging when he meets his ninety-two year old neighbor, and sets out on a mission to help her. It’s wonderfully written and impossible to dislike.

You can find my review here.

 

The Bride Test | Helen Hoang

A beautiful love story between two very different individuals. I liked this one a lot more than its predecessor. It could be because both the main characters are Asian, or that they are equally flawed. Or it could be just because they’re both adorable and fleshed out really well.

You can find my review here.

 

The Place in Dalhousie | Melina Marchetta

This particular story is about Jimmy Haller coming home, Rosie – the mother of his child, and Rosie’s step mother Martha. It’s about how these people figure out their lives and their complicated relationships. And Melina Marchetta can write about dysfunctional families like nobody else.

You can find my review here.

 

Love From A to Z | S. K. Ali

This book explores many themes that I hold close to my heart –  Islam, migrant condition workers in the middle east, feminism, and love. And the author does full justice to it.

You can find my review here.

 

Lovely War | Julie Berry

This book is narrated by Greek Gods and intertwines two love stories set in World War I. Really, what’s not to love?

You can find my review here.

 

Daisy Jones & the Six | Taylor Jenkins Reid

A book narrated in forms of interviews where the characters look back on the rise and fall of an iconic band. This book was too real and raw for my heart. Taylor Jenkins Reid sure knows how to write strong women.

You can find my review here.

 

The First Girl Child | Amy Harmon

 A book about Nordic kings, runes, curses and magic. It’s a masterpiece, is what it is. If you haven’t read Amy Harmon, you’ve made a mistake. Easily my top 3 of the year.

You can find my review here.

 

Ninth House | Leigh Bardugo

The best writing of the year for me. There are a lot of polarizing reviews on this. Yes, the beginning does not make it easy, nor do the triggers. But the story only gets better from there.  I absolutely loved the writing, the plot and the characters in this world about ghosts, magic, portals and whatnot.

You can find my review here.

 

Bringing Down the Duke | Evie Dunmore

Hands down my most favorite romance of the year. This book almost reads like a modern romance, with its incorporation of the suffrage movement. What’s not to like about this book? Sizzling chemistry. Just the perfect amount of angst. Women fighting for their rights. A progressive hero. Relatable heroine. Compelling backdrops.

You can find my review here.


So, these are my favorites of 2019. I can’t wait to read the lists of everyone else and see if there are any matches!

Wrapping Up May’19

I know. I know. We’re halfway through June and I’m wrapping up May? I must be crazy!

Well, it’s all because the first half of June has been hectic for me. Eid holidays were followed up by last minute thesis work. It’s been crazy! And as a result I’ve been MIA and a lazy blogger, except for my scheduled posts. Thankfully, things are quieting down once again. I’m getting back my reading and blogging groove. So forgive me for summarizing my May activities so late!

May Reads :

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ARCs :


Prom-Wrecked ★★★☆☆
Love from A to Z ★★★★★
First Girl Child ★★★★★
The Seduction Expert ★★☆☆☆
It’s Not You, It’s Him ★★★★☆
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler ★★★★☆
The Second Chance Supper Club  ★★☆☆☆
Summer At Firefly Beach ★★★☆☆

Non- ARCs :


The Bride Test ★★★★★
The Unhoneymooners ★★★★☆
Dancing on Coals ★★★★★
If I’m Being Honest ★★★☆☆
Starfish ★★★★★
The Place on Dalhousie ★★★★★
A Curious Beginning ★★★★☆
A Perilous Undertaking ★★★★★
A treacherous Curse ★★★★☆
A dangerous Collaboration★★★★★

 

Non – Review Posts

Top Ten Tuesday :
Books I enjoyed More on a Reread
Books whose screen adaptations I’d be terrified to watch
Favorite Books Released in the Last 10 Years

Tags :
Two Truths & A Lie # 2


That wasn’t too bad. As you can see, I used May to mostly catch up with my ARCs. I think I’ll be doing a lot of that in the rest of this month too. Anyhow, happy reading!

 

BOOK REVIEW : LOVE FROM A TO Z

A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.


review

You guys have no idea how much I needed a book like this to exist!

A book that does not sugarcoat Islamophobia.
A book that is bold and is feminist.
A book that illuminates the struggles of a Multiple Sclerosis patient with respect and dignity.
A book that also is not afraid to exhibit the inhuman conditions migrant workers in Middle East have to work in.

A book that at its core is a love story.

I can’t begin to describe how much the story resonated with me. It felt very personal to me. Like Zayneb, I also have a part inside me filled with bitterness about having my faith questioned by others. It is not easy, having to choose not to justify myself and my ideals, because my religion tells me to quietly practice my faith. A part of me wants to be like Zayneb, to let out my anger, to be rebellious, to be loud and to not let injustice prevail. This is a character that I could empathize with fully. She is not perfect. But she is not weak. This is a brave and strong girl.

Adam is the softest guy. His struggle with being diagnosed with the same disease that he lost his mother to at a tender age of 9, was so tragic and brave. The tough decisions he has to make, because of his illness, just makes you love him more. His considerate nature towards his father and sister, who are both amazing, made my heart melt. He is such a kind guy, his nature an open book! His way of looking at life so mature for a young man.

Zayneb and Adam are both similar in some ways. They are both wearing down with the cards fate has dealt them with. Zayneb has been suspended after confronting her Islamophobic teacher in high school. Her parents decide to send her to Doha to spend two weeks with her aunt. Adam, after being diagnosed with MS, stops going to his College classes. They both meet in London airport, a layover for Zayneb, on the same flight to Doha, where Adam’s father and sister live.  Adam notices Zayneb’s hijab first, signifying that she is a fellow Muslim, and then her Marvels & Oddities journal, that he also happens to own. Theirs is a mutual attraction. It also helps, that Zayneb’s aunt happens to be a teacher in the school Adam’s father is the principal of, and a friend of his late mother.

I loved Adam and Zayneb’s growing friendship, how they mutually find their way to each other. And I love how they are so respectful of each other’s limits. They are different too. Zayneb is loud when Adam is quiet. Zayneb is brash when Adam is considerate. Their experiences are also very different. Being a Muslim is not the same as being a Muslim who wears hijab. (Who would know that better than me? I don’t wear hijab but I’ve seen the prejudice my hijabi friends face even in our Islamic country.) So Adam tries to look at the Islamophobic instances with understanding eyes, while Zayneb, the victim, cannot afford to spare this kindness. On the other hand, Zayneb does not understand Adam’s hesitance and delicacy in dealing with his family when it comes to his disease. But they both grow to learn to put themselves in each other’s shoes.

The supporting cast in this book was amazing. Zayneb and Adam both have different sets of friends who are separately supportive and protective of their respective friends. I also could relate to both their families. Adam’s family particularly are the sweetest! Zayneb’s parents are more reluctant in supporting their daughter’s rebellious nature, but her aunt is super-badass! And I could totally understand where her parents are coming from. There’s also a sad sub-plot with the death of Zayneb’s grandmother, which made my heart ache!

This book made me laugh, cry, rage and just feel so much!  But this is a book for everyone, because it is about two individuals who are strong and brave, individuals a lot of us can empathize with. I wish we get more powerful YA books like this that boldly tackles important issues with respect and boldness.


review

★★★★★


Links – Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

QOTW – QUOTE(S) OF THE WEEK : SELF LOVE, PREJUDICE & FEMINISM IN ISLAM

Hello peeps! I hope everyone’s doing okay. Our region just got struck by a cyclone last night. It’s called Fani. Thankfully, my country didn’t get the worst of it. But India’s Odissa region had to suffer the most. Do keep the victims of this disaster in your prayer!

Anyways, it has been drizzling and breezy all day long in my city. The perfect weather for getting warm and cozy with a book and a blanket, right?

So, I just started this QOTW thing last week. This is my second array into it! Fingers crossed! I just read this powerful book that had quite an impact on me. I’ll post the review pretty soon. I loved it so much that I’m featuring two quotes from the book here!


“I’m not going to let your prejudice, your outrage, or fake kindness,
either, change one bit of me, of how I look, of who I am. Your resistance to my
existence is futile, okay?”

“One of the reasons Ayaan said she loves being Muslim is because it makes her feel
like a natural feminist. “Like, hello? Our queen Khadija didn’t wait for the man (Prophet Muhammad) she
had her eye on to ask her, to get on his knees. Nope. Instead, she said, I like you, oh
employee of mine. Will you marry me? And then, after they hitched, she just kept her
job as his boss. Mad respect.”

 


I chose the first quote because of the raw honesty and fearlessness in these two lines! It is bold and poignant at the same time.

I chose the second quote for an entirely different reason. See, I like to think of myself as a feminist. But it’s like the narrative of the Western world dictates that I can’t be a feminist AND a Muslim at the same time. And I just can’t accept that!

Khadija, the first wife of Prophet Muhammad is the first example that I always think of when talk of feminism in Islam comes. So, when I read this quote, I went “Exactly!”. There are other numerous such examples I know of, if you’re interested.

I hope this did not come off too preachy! I just feel very deeply about this issue. And these quotes really spoke to me!