Tag «#weneeddiversebooks»

Single Sundays: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for When Dimple Met Rishi (from Goodreads):

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

breakdown

Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Source & Format: Own–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t think you could escape this book in 2017. It was praised all over the Twitterverse and so I was more than curious. When the opportunity arose for me to get the audiobook copy, I immediately grabbed it!

The Concept:

On the surface, the synopsis gives the idea that this story is almost all about a possible arranged marriage between Dimple and Rishi. And while it does play a huge role in the plot and development, at the core, this is very much a coming of age story.

This is about 2 teenagers trying to find their mark in the world. Like most recent high school grads, they are feeling the pressure of growing up and deciding what they want for the rest of their lives. They are focused on their future careers and trying to reconcile them with cultural and familial expectations.

For some readers, you might not think you can relate to Rishi and Dimple because of their culture. I know I thought that a bit myself. But trying to please your parents and feeling the pressure to find that partner in life are universal tensions (I think) and you will definitely find part of yourself in these two.

The Plot:

This story reads like your typical coming of age story in terms of plot. You have a pretty basic background plot happening and it’s all about the characters and how they are coping. But there is a lot happening with Dimple and Rishi in terms of character growth and you get rather involved in the secondary character lives.

So it has its moments of fun and its moments of reflection. For me though, the pacing was slightly off. I think it might have been because I was listening to the audiobook (it clocks in at 10 hours which is really long for a contemporary novel of this nature I think) and it just seemed excessively long at times. Not that I didn’t enjoy every moment with these two–I did–I guess it just felt dragged out a touch?

The Characters:

I adored these characters and they truly make the novel for me!

Dimple is such a compelling heroine. She’s strong yet fragile at the same time and I definitely saw part of myself in her when it comes to her views on romantic relationships vs career. She’s also hilarious.

And Rishi is just so charming and I immediately fell in love with him. But what was really appealing about his character was that he was the hopeless romantic, instead of Dimple. He was the one who really wanted the relationship and felt it necessary and I usually find that it is the female characters who are cast in that role. It was a refreshing take on a standard gender role I thought.

The Romance:

Simply adorable! These two were a fantastic match and it was fabulous watching them realize that.

I also liked that it viewed (consensual) arranged marriage as a positive thing. The arranged marriage aspect really only plays a role at the start of the novel but it is a factor at play. As the relationship develops they start to undergo some realistic challenges that many young people face in their relationships so again, I think readers will identify with that.

My Audiobook Experience:

I love humour in audiobooks and this one had it in spades! The sarcastic nature was much more apparent in the audio version.

Again, I do think that the length of the audiobook affected my rating a touch (instead of a 5/5) but I still highly recommend the audiobook version!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This is a coming of age novel that any reader can relate to in some way. It’s funny, charming and will leave you with a smile on your face.

Read if You Like: coming of age, diverse reads
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary
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Single Sundays: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Hate U Give (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

breakdown

Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you haven’t heard of this book, you were living under a rock for most of 2017. One of the most discussed novels I’ve ever seen in the blogosphere and in main stream media, of course I had to check it out.

The Concept:

I’ve never read such a culturally and socially on point novel as this one. I never felt like this book was jumping on a bandwagon to sell a novel or going for shock factor. This book comes from the heart and isn’t afraid to talk about situations that people would rather shy away from. But as this book reminds us, we need to have these discussions if we are ever going to move forward and make this world a better place.

The Plot:

This book made me feel every range of emotions. When my heart wasn’t breaking for Star, it was swooning for her boyfriend or loving her family. I can definitely say that I laughed, cried and felt everything in between. So that in itself made me super invested in the story.

While I enjoyed Star’s story from start to end, when I finished this book I just couldn’t give it 5/5. Without a doubt, the topic and how it is handled is a 5/5 and it wouldn’t be the same story without getting to know Star’s everyday life; but I felt like the balance was a touch off. I felt like some things were dwelt on a little too long (like some of the stuff with her friends) and it just made the pacing a little weird too me.

The Characters:

Like I said, I loved Star as a character. I thought she was hilarious and charming. And she’s also very relateable. She’s growing up and trying to find herself. She feels pressure from her family, her friends, her community and her culture. Who doesn’t feel that growing up? And while it might not be to the same level, I think we can all remember a time where it felt like us against the world.

And her family? LOVE THEM! They were a blast to read about and so heartfelt.

The Romance:

Star’s relationship with Chris is super adorable but it is also super important as well. It’s used a tool to get the various points across when it does make an appearance. However, this isn’t a romance at its core so don’t expect it to be a large focus.

My Audiobook Experience:

I loved this as an audiobook! It’s a little on the longer side for my personal tastes (knowing I could probably read a physical copy in half the time) but I loved listening to Star’s story. Hearing the emotions in her voice throughout her experience really immersed me in the novel. There’s just something to listening to someone’s story as they tell it aloud to you vs written word. I highly recommend the audio version.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This book definitely deserves all the praise it gets! It’s a well crafted story that is so relevant to society right now. My only criticism is the pacing of the plot at times.

Read if You Like: diverse reads, socially relevant
Avoid if You: truly, truly dislike contemporaries or realistic fiction

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Single Sundays: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Rest of Us Just Live Here (from Goodreads):

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions…

breakdown

Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 27, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Patrick Ness is one of those authors bloggers RAVE about. I don’t think I’ve heard a negative thing about his works. So I’ve been keeping my eye out for his novels at my library.

I didn’t pick The Rest of Us Just Live Here for any particular reason other than the fact that the audiobook was available and the title grabbed my attention. It didn’t hurt that I saw Patrick’s name on it. When I read the premise, I absolutely loved the idea and couldn’t wait to dive in and see what all the Patrick Ness hype is about.

The Concept:

I’ll admit that I didn’t realize the start of each chapter was a summary of the “Chosen One”‘s story until I was a few chapters in. I blame the audiobook because I couldn’t visually see the change in narration. Anyways, I absolutely loved the idea that Mikey and co. are just living their mundane lives while this crazy paranormal stuff happens to their town.

The satire of YA paranormal reads was fantastically on point. The story basically pokes fun at every trope YA non-contemporary reads have and I couldn’t get enough. Especially as someone who feels as though she has outgrown the YA paranormal scene, I enjoyed the jabs.

The Plot:

The irony of this story is that Mikey has the typical YA contemporary story: an unrequited love, a sticky family life and the pressures of growing up. Mikey’s situation isn’t anything new. Other than the fact that he is the bystander to the situation at hand and the sidekick to his demi-god BFF, Jared, it’s your typical coming of age story and that’s not overly exciting–but I guess that’s the point.

The Characters:

Mikey is the sole reason this book is not a 5/5 or even a 4/5. He wasn’t very likeable to me. Sure, he’s a great brother to his sisters and I can sympathize with his family situation. He has his “flaws” and he is pretty diverse (as is the rest of the cast) and that’s great, but he is just so self-centered to me! I get that he was under various pressures (family life, romance, the world blowing up) but I wish he was just more aware of what was going on around him (and that does get brought up in the story as well).

Again, I don’t know if this is because I was listening to the audiobook and (what sounded like) Mikey’s perpetual whining just got to me.

The Romance:

Meh. This played a slightly bigger role than I expected (Mikey pines after Henna for 85% of the book–and he doesn’t let you forget it) but I wasn’t really shipping it either.

The Audiobook:

Despite making me confused about the “indie kid” main storyline (aka the paranormal story), I really did enjoy the audiobook. As is so often the case, the humour and sarcasm was much more apparent to me as I listened to the novel. It’s definitely entertaining as an audiobook.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

A fantastic concept but I wanted more from the execution and lead.

Read if You Like: diverse reads, male POV YA
Avoid if You: want that “OMG Patrick Ness” read–I think it’s elsewhere

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Fresh Fridays: Powerful (The Realm of Harcilor #1) by S N Lemoing

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

The Realm of Harcilor Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Powerful (from Goodreads):

For twelve years, the power has been usurped at the Realm of Harcilor.

Cyr, an erudite, and his adopted son, Kaaz, have formed a secret school.

Indeed, in this world, some people were born endowed with magical abilities : the Silarens.

However, it is not that easy to detect your own powers.

They will soon be joined by a mysterious young woman who will provide them with valuable information.

When Litar – the most powerful being of the realm – goes away for two months, they finally foresee the opportunity to act.

Can they win their freedom back? Will they make the right choices?

breakdown

Series: The Realm of Harcilor
Author: S N Lemoing
# of Books: 1+ (Powerful, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: February 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you S N Lemoing!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Powerful at 18% (Start of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

High fantasy was the “it” genre for me last year. I absolutely love all the elements that make up this genre: from the romance to the magic to the politics, it has everything I love. Which is why I was eager to take S N Lemoing on her offer to read her newly translated Powerful. It promised to be a true fantasy with a more YA feel and had a focus on diverse characters and prominent female roles. That sounded fantastic!

What I Liked:

–Feels like an Adult Fantasy but in the YA Genre–

When I was reading this, I got Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones type vibes. Those are big shoes to fill but what I mean is that those novels are what I call true fantasy novels. They focus on the world building with detailed descriptions and a 360 degree view of the world and all its players. With that, you are introduced to a lot of characters and their stories. Romance takes a back seat and the politics of the world become the larger focus.

It’s an entirely different feel from the usual high fantasy novels I read.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Felt Overwhelmed–

That being said, I felt very overwhelmed by everything that was relayed in those first few chapters. In an effort to set up the world, a lot of information is provided and I had a hard time putting it all together. We get introduced to so many different characters (and their relationships) that I had a hard time remembering what characters were doing what and their importance to the situations brewing.

My Rating: DNF

Powerful DNF | Book 2 TBP

overall

I’m really not used to reading these detailed fantasy type novels. It’s rich in detail, has a complex world and lots of character stories to become invested in. Which is why I think those more experienced with the fantasy world (like Lord of the Rings and the like) will absolutely love this YA fantasy.

Read if You Like: fantasy, lots of characters, detailed novels
Avoid if You: are easily overwhelmed

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Blog Tour: Ninja Girl by Cookie O’Gorman

Synopsis for Ninja Girl (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Snow-Soon Lee kicks ass–literally. She teaches at her family-owned martial arts gym, The Academy, and cares more about training to be the next Bruce Lee than hooking up. In fact, Snow’s never even been kissed. But when Girls Night rolls around, Snow decides to prove to her friends (and herself) that she’s not just some boring tomboy. Impulsively, she kisses a hot stranger and even manages to escape his two security guards.

One stolen kiss…

Ash Stryker’s senior year sucks. His politician father pulled him out of Chariot High, separating him from his championship-winning soccer team. Now he’s stuck at a prissy private school with no friends, no team and no chance of being scouted. On top of that, thanks to the death threats his dad’s received, Ash has a security tail aka professional babysitters. When the mystery girl from the movies shows up at his school, rappelling from the rafters, Ash knows one thing: he won’t let her get away again.

One interesting job proposition…

After a seemingly random attack, Ash’s mother surprises everyone. She hires Snow to be Ash’s personal bodyguard until after the election. But can Snow’s kick-ass skills hold up against the rising threats to Ash’s family? More importantly, can Ash convince his ninja girl to screw ethics and kiss him again?

Opposites attract in this YA romance where a smooth talker meets his match in the tough girl who (literally) sweeps him off his feet. Moral of the story:

Sometimes even bad boys need a bodyguard.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Contemporary Standalone 2017
Author: Cookie O Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 30, 2017
Source & Format: YA Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Cookie O’Gorman’s debut, Adorkable was just amazing! I loved every minute of that book and I was so excited to see what she would write next. I’ve been waiting nearly a year to see what she would do next and I was so stoked when I saw what Ninja Girl was all about. This book promised to be an entertaining, albeit touching, ride that I couldn’t wait to start!

The Concept:

I love the gender role reversal here! I love girls that can fend for themselves but the fact that Snow is hired to protect a boy just ups the ante for me. It defies stereotypes in that respect and I really appreciated that.

I feel like that is the whole point of this novel: to challenge stereotypes. The cast here is also very diverse ethnically speaking as well. Snow is Korean while Ash is from the Southern United States. Both have these ideas that they don’t have similar interests and personalities. But I think this book goes to show that you have to get to know a person for who they are and not just what you see on the outside.

The Plot:

This novel moves at a stellar pace. Honestly, there was never a dull moment! If you weren’t swooning over Ash and Snow together you were watching Snow kick some serious butt or having these great moments of individual character growth. I loved every page.

I also liked how the suspense of who was behind the attacks lurked throughout the pages. It just built itself up at a great pace and added to the big reveal.

The Characters:

Well, I obviously loved Snow. Her character growth was fantastic. While she is such a strong girl physically, her self-esteem is pretty low. It’s unfortunate that she is so susceptible to high school cattiness so early in the book because she is such a great girl. I’m glad that Ash brings out the stronger side in her.

Ash…swoon! He says all the right things but he is such a genuine guy as well. I would say his character growth takes a bit of a backseat to Snow’s but he really does evolve as well. Even though he is perceived as the “damsel in distress” at times, he doesn’t just sit around and let things happen to himself either.

The Romance:

These two are so adorable! I’ve added them to my favourite couples list ever. They just compliment each other so well. Not only do they make a great team but they also make each other stronger as individuals. Never did I feel like these two were losing who they were in order to appease the other–which can easily happen in this type of story where gender roles are more emphasized than usual. They just have fabulous chemistry together from the start.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

I devoured this book in one sitting because I could not get enough of these two! Not only was this book a bucket of fun and completely swoon-worthy, it also teaches you to be yourself above all else. Whether that means you are a girl who can kick everyone’s bum or a guy who needs a girl to save him: never be ashamed of who you are! (cheesy but so true!)

Read if You Like:  diverse reads, kick butt heroines, “clean” YA
Avoid if You: dislike ya contemporary

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Cookie O’Gorman

Cookie O’Gorman writes YA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her debut novel ADORKABLE is out now!

Author Links:

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Single Sundays: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Written in the Stars (from Goodreads):
This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

breakdown

Author: Aisha Saeed
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance, Culture, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating
: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was floating around the blogosphere when it first came out and as soon as I read the synopsis I really wanted to read it. It’s also written by one of the founding members of the #weneeddiversebooks movement–Aisha Saeed–and I have yet to read a “diverse” book.

When it comes to culture/ethnicity I fit the typical Canadian mold. I don’t identify with a particular ethnicity/hertitage/culture as I consider myself Canadian which means I’ve grown up in a house with completely Western beliefs. The idea of arranged marriage is something I have no exposure to, and what exposure I do have is coloured in western stereotype and prejudice. So what I was expecting this book to be was a young adult version of Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns but with less oppression.

The Concept:

This book was hard for me to read–not because of the writing because it is very well done–but because of the topics it deals with. As a young woman who has never been put in a position of cultural expectations by my parents, it was hard for me to relate to Naila. It’s easy for me as someone who has never had to deal with these expectations to go “do your own thing girl!”and get frustrated with her because she doesn’t.

At the same time, I think we can all relate to the desire to appease our parents’ expectations for us when it comes to academics and life (to some degree). I know that I still do despite the fact that I am approaching my mid-20s and don’t live with my parents anymore. However, at the same time, I’m at the point in my life where I mostly consult my parents about what I am doing and feel confident enough to make my own decisions. That totally wasn’t the case when I was Naila’s age and I had to make sure I reminded myself of that as I was reading.

It’s easy to judge something you don’t completely understand and I really didn’t want to do that with this book. I really tried to keep an open mind reading this book and because I did, I think I enjoyed the book a lot more.

The Plot:

Perhaps this is my ignorance showing through, but by the midpoint I thought the book became a little “over-dramatic”. Some events happen that I thought were over the top and my initial reaction was that it ruined what was a fairly realistic story up until this point.

But the more I thought about it and the more I continued reading I realized that this is probably the case for some young girls in the world. That these events are reality for some women and not simply plot elements for dramatic purposes. And that is terrifying and disheartening all at the same time.

I loved Aisha Saeed’s message at the end of the novel and the impact it had on my reading experience. She has definitely accomplished her goal with this story.

The Characters:

As I said previously, I had a hard time connecting with Naila’s character because I’ve never had cultural expectations placed on me to the level that she has. At the same time though, I thought she was well written and realistic. Her narration was easy to follow and I really felt for her by the end of the story.

The Romance:

Don’t go into this book thinking there is going to be some great romance! Naila’s romance was Saif happens prior to the novel starting and her relationship with her husband isn’t a huge portion of the story. The story is mostly about Naila dealing with her parent’s expectations while trying to remain true to her own wants and desires for life.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

While I didn’t love this book as much as I had hoped, it definitely left a lasting impression on me. It has made me more aware of what some young woman (and men) face everyday that I have remained ignorant on. It was a very touching and eye-opening read for me.

Read if You Like: books about cultural expectations, growing up, parent relationships
Avoid if You: want an epic romance
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  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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