Contemporary YA

Review: Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also A Star

EE, TSIAAS

 

Author: Nicola Yoon

Pages: EE: 311 TSIAAS: 344

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Publication: EE: 2015 TSIAAS: 2016

Source: Purchased

My Rating:★★★★★ (5/5 both)

 

Make way for one of my favourite YA authors and Queen of Contemporary Nicola Yoon!

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to review her books, because I absolutely loved them and devoured them so long ago! Months, almost a year ago now.

Let’s begin with E,E. What a book. I read this sometime in early 2016 and I am still obsessed. This book was a piece of gold.

The writing, plot development, characters, vibes, everything literally everything made me fall in love with it.

I feel like the author handled the illness element of the book well. I saw no problems with it, and it did not strike as problematic to me when i was reading it. However I do know that people have criticed the author and I totally understand now why that may be. Books that include the element of illnesses do need to be dealt with extra care and if a reader with the same illness or any illness did not feel represented well then they have the right to strike that out.

But back to my reading, I enjoyed it. I felt like it was a different voice to YA contemporary and I feel like I could relate to the main character in the sense of feeling lonely and distanced from the world. That was representation to me and I really appreciated that.

I was super happy with the romance. It wasn’t forced but instead well played out. The movie was well written and directed too. Black author, black actress and black director that was really amazing. I know this review isn’t like my other reviews where I really..well…’review’ it but like I said I read this so long ago but I really wanted to let my readers know how much I LOVED this book!

Second review: The Sun Is Also A Star

Okay, this is the BETTER book and the BEST book Nicola Yoon has ever written.

OMG.

Feeling flashbacks.

Reading this book I remember how obsessed I was, I couldn’t put it down.

FIRSTLY. Props to you Mrs Yoon for the diversity. Jamaican girl and Korean boy omg I literally LOVED this book.

Reading this book you are automatically drawn to the romance. The romance is uplifted, honest and it’s a reality. At the end of the day, Natasha will be deported and Daniel will go back to his family and the reality that he doesn’t feel he belongs to. But it’s particularly interesting as the author takes us on a wild roller-coaster and at so many points you think maybe just maybe the universe will allow them to have their chance at happiness but is that how reality works? Unfortunately no.

This book deserves all the awards and it’s seat on the NYT bestseller list. I can’t wait for the movie!

Always love to my readers,

Samia Sharif

@sshairbooks

 

 

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Contemporary YA

Review: Saints& Misfits

saints and misfits

Author: S.K. Ali

Pages: 352

Publisher:Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Publication:June 2017

Source: Purchased

My Rating:★★★★★ (5/5)

Goodreads blurb:

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 tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

I don’t want to give away the plot of this book in this review so this will not have any spoilers.

This is a story about representation and reality. This is a story where Muslim teens will read it and think: me too. You know I’m gonna rave on about this book for a long time because I frickin understand Janna. She’s so real and raw and unapologetic. It’s beautiful, I admire it and I needed it.

But let’s talk about Sajidah’s words, writing and story. You can tell that she put emotion in to this story because as you read it and turn each page by page you start to feel like you’re in this story, beside Janna and feeling everything.

Her voice is new and unique. The writing draws you in, the story satisfies you and she did something I don’t usually read in YA contemporary, she made the story more about who Janna is instead of her and Jeremy. Sajidah may not know it yet, but she has opened up doors to aspiring Muslim writers letting is know that it’s okay to write about a hijabi teen who is still figuring out who she wants to be. I really love that.

I could heavily relate to Janna. As a hijabi teen since I was 11 and now 19, I understand her. Wanting to be different, having urges to take off your hijab just for a second but feeling guilty because it means everything to you, that’s me. I am Janna.

Janna is a special girl. She is the new generation, an advocate for Muslim teens. She doesn’t want to let down her community and is hurt when she feels that she is doing wrong by her community. But on the other hand, it’s natural to make mistakes and she just wants to learn from them?

A major plot line that i do want to discuss (without spoiling too much) is the sexual assault. NO ONE WRITES ABOUT THIS. But it’s real. And Sajidah did it! Muslim girls are real too you know? We go through this, we feel this emotion- we have emotions. It angers me that people expect such innocence from Muslim girls that they forget to realise that we are HUMAN. Sajidah covers this in a beautiful and honourable way, give her all the damn awards.
I really really loved this book. Another YA by a American author called Love, Hate and Other Filters which is about a Muslim teen is a book where I felt represented. But Janna being a hijabi just made me able to relate more. Almost like I Am Thunder, where I could literally see myself through the words of this British UK teen.
We need more books like this. I am so happy that I have expanded my #MuslimShelfSpace so much.

Cannot wait for Sajidah’s next book!

Always love to my readers,

Samia Sharif

@ssharifbooks

Contemporary YA

Review: BLOOD FOR BLOOD TRILOGY

VENDETTA

Author: Catherine Doyle

Title: Vendetta

Pages: 337 pages

Publisher: Chicken House

Publication Date: 1st January 2015

Source: Purchased

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads blurb:

When it comes to revenge, love is a dangerous complication.With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.
When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion in her neighbourhood, Sophie Gracewell’s life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families. As the boys’ dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. She must choose between two warring dynasties – the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.
I had heard many things about this book, all good things too. So when I bought the series all at once after the publication of Mafiosa (book 3), I was so excited to start it. Then i met Cat Doyle at a joint event with some other wonderful UK YA authors and I really enjoyed hearing her talk about the books. However considering life has been busy and I’m always drowning in my TBR, I can’t believe it’s taken me a year to get to the books.
But I’m not surprised that it’s taken me only a week to devour all three books.

After reading the synopsis, I could tell that this had the whole Romeo and Juliet vibe to the book. Two worlds, one heart kind of thing. But I was surprised that this book turned out to be linked to a mafia world, which rarely happens in YA literature and the thriller element to this made this one of the most unique YA contemporary books ever.
Sophie, our protagonist, keeps the story alive as it is an emotional story with so many twists and turns. By the end of the last book, i was heartbroken and had ridden a crazy rollercoaster but we’ll get there in a sec.
Unlike other readers, I really liked Nic. I thought he was troubled but definitely different compared to other male YA characters and they kept me interested.
BUT one thing I cannot stand as a person who loves love is when more than one character falls for a character. I’m not big on love triangles so that annoyed me. I wanted to give Nic a chance because I felt like he was a sense of sanity at first but that quickly changed.
It’s a mysterious story where you really cannot trust every character that you’re exposed to as a reader and therefore have to be extremely subjective. But I will say it was desirably romantic, a phenomenal read and I cannot wait to start talking about book two.
So I’ll leave you with three words that I would describe Vendetta with: uncertainty, love and mystery.
INFERNO

Author: Catherine Doyle

Title: Inferno

Pages: 405 pages

Publisher: Chicken House

Publication Date: 7th January 2016

Source: Purchased

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads blurb:

Romeo and Juliet meets The Godfather in the second installment of Catherine Doyle’s Blood for Blood series.
Sophie’s life has been turned upside-down, and she’s determined to set things right. But Nic, the Falcone brother who represents everything she’s trying to forget, won’t give up on their love – and it’s Luca’s knife she clutches for comfort. Soon another mafia clan spoils the fragile peace – and with her heart drawn in one direction and her blood in another, Sophie’s in deeper than ever.
So I finished Inferno struggling to breathe, i was caught up in a thrilling whirlwind of emotion and I just can’t express how this series became EVERYTHING to me.
I love the Italian twist to the story, and we get a lot more of it in book two. This book made me cry, laugh more than I needed to, it gave me joy as it’s such a thrilling series. The writing is amazing, it has ridiculously good world building- genuinely feels like you’re watching it instead of reading, each character is dark and compelling in their own way. And not to mention the ending, which was a jawbreaker. I definitely give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
Sophie i would like to talk about, she has grown so much since book one. Not so winey, more bold and raw. Disturbing things have happened to her like losing her mother and so we see this independent, deep and emotional side to her. This brings out her inner strength and reminds her that she is mafia blood but she uses it for the right reasons.
Luca opening his heart and being honest and real signed the deal for me. After book one I was indecisive because I do believe that you can’t go for your sibling or friend’s girl/boy but Luca is an exception. Nic became needy and uncomfortable. His obsession with killing and justice made him come across as a sociopath and I’m surprised I liked him from the beginning.
Inferno was bolder, bigger and better and I cannot wait for book 3! This world that Cat Doyle introduces you to is thrilling and eye- catching. You love these characters and you want them to succeed, I seriously feared for their lives but in the end it was the perfect way to end Inferno.

MAFIOSA

Author: Catherine Doyle

Title: Mafiosa

Pages: 416 pages

Publisher: Chicken House

Publication Date: 5th January 2017

Source: Purchased

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads blurb:

A blood war rages on the streets of Chicago.

Protected by an infamous mafia family, Sophie is living a dangerous lie, pretending to lead a normal life. But the deceit can’t last for ever. Her heart belongs to a killer and Sophie’s the prime target of a rival clan. She’s determined to seek revenge on her mother’s murderers, but can she pay the price – can she be a mafiosa?
The third and final instalment in the explosive YA Blood for Blood series which started with Vendetta and Inferno.

OKAY, OKAY, OKAY- let’s hold up. Mafiosa deserves an award. I’m not even kidding. BEST THRILLER BOOK EVER. 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️’s doesn’t even express how good it is.

I CRIED.

I THREW MY BOOK.

I DEVOURED IT IN FOUR HOURS.

I LITERALLY LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK.

MY HEART.

(Spoilers from now on)

THIS REALLY WAS THE BEST BOOK OF THE THREE. I’M STILL HAVING WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS.

You know when you read a book and you feel personally targeted? Personally stabbed in the chest? Because that’s how it fells. I’m still not over that ending. Still not okay with what happens.

So 5 brothers, 5 really cool but troubled brothers Sophie lives with and I think it’s pretty amazing how we get to see each of them a lot of better and really get to understand them as we’re dragged in to their world.

This was the most satisfying conclusion to a book series. Probably one of the best ever and definitely TOP FIVE for YA contemporary ever. But as much as I loved it, I hated the death.

SO

MUCH

DEATH

The journey electrifies so you MUCH that it literally sets your heart on fire and the whole time I was holding on my a string and I think after the death of Valentino, I fell.

It was deep.

Brutal.

Heartbreaking.

What the heck was Luca gonna do when his twin died?

This is another thing I loved about the books. All 5 brothers were different, some more important than others, but I loved how Luca and Valentino were physically different, mentally different but emotionally the same. Valentino was the boss, but his heart was real. And I loved that we got to explore that in the last book.

Dom I wasn’t so surprised he and his mum would die, it was kind of expected. They all (apart from Luca because he chose love over death!!!!!) went on the yacht together, it was time.

I somewhat expected Nic to take over as the family boss. And it’s said that Cat Doyle clarified that the uncle Paulie would be his underboss and that GINO who I seriously worried for because she didn’t tell us what happened to him, in the end turned out to be okay.

It was awesome that Sophie’s father Michale got out of prison and killed her mafia horrible uncle because he needed to die. But I was shocked that Nic shot him, like I said Nic loves collecting blood, he’s so weird.

Throughout all books I loved the female friendship between Sophie and Millie. I think it was super special and I loved how she always held on to her no matter what. We need more YAs like this.

When Luca left this world for Sophie I cried. It was passionate and beautiful and well done Cat Doyle, you bloody amazing woman. What a writer. The world building was amazing, and the storytelling was heartbreaking but so so so brilliant I just can’t get over it. I loved every moment of this book, I truly did. A re-read is necessary.

I asked Cat if there may be a new book but unfortunately won’t be. However I do believe that sometime in the next 5-10 years Nic (boss of the Falcones) and Luca (traitor for love) will meet again. They will have to. And I can’t wait.

I tweeted my whole experience of reading this book my twitter which is @ssharifbooks so if you type that in to the search bar and Mafiosa you should see a LONG thread as I was reading and love tweeting.
Thank you for reading my reviews on this wonderful series that I will forever love and my children will read because it truly is UK YA excellence.
Always love to my readers,
Samia Sharif

@ssharifbooks

Book Box

Fairyloot Book Box Review- November 2017

Hello fairylooters, bloogers, reviewers, readers and friends!

As you can see by the title i’m going to review the LADIES THAT SLAY box by Fairyloot! Now i’ve received only one other box from fairyloot in Feburary 2017 that I absolutely adored and always wanted to grab another box so i’m thrilled with this one.

fairyloot 2

As you can see by the picture above, I have received two fairyloot boxes and one Owlcrate and i am thrilled with all of them. Also you can see one of my favourite characters ever in YA Fantasy Dorion from Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass series and this isn’t relevant but i love him so i had to say it!

Anyway back to fairyloot! So I’m going to be listing the products that were inside the box, from what I first saw to the final book but if you haven’t received your box and don’t want to be spoiled stop reading! 😊

First let’s try out the reading buddy hashtag, one other person anywhere in the world could have the same as me and so we can read the book together! #Fairyloot125400
Now for the unboxing: 🎃First up was a bookish candle. I frickin love candles.

CANDLES. CANDLES. BOOKISH CANDLES. SMELL. OMG. YES. I LOVE.

The candle for this theme was brightest witch candle from @flickthewick and I loved the smell of it! ☕️Next: bookish tea! Yes!! This was an exclusive blue’s brew tea from @bookishteas! Super excited to try it. Come on, I’m British of course I love tea.

🔮Then: a book sleeve (@fairyloot have never included this before) by @aunjuliart! Thrilled with this because I hate when my books get wet, and also I commute a lot during the week so to be able to make sure it’s safe and neat in my bag will be awesome!

📚: Now for the fun!!!! An ADVANCE READING COPY (yep @fairyloot have slayed) of FURYBORN by @clairelegrand!! How awesome is this? An ARC! I’m so happy with this. As a blogger and reviewer I have started to recently receive ARCs from publishers which is the best thing ever but to get a copy in a box? Seriously Fairyloot just keep getting better and better!

📖: This months fairyloot book is The Last Namsara by @kristenciccarelli and I cannot wait to read this epic fantasy story! Also included with the book were a letter from the author, signed paper plate and other cool stickers, badges and pins relevant to fantastic fantasy stories!!

💙 Overall I’m so happy with the November box, it is so great with the best goodies and I can’t wait to order from @fairyloot again! It’s also a bonus that I’m friends with the owner and so proud of her success💞

The next book that I will be receiving next month is the first ever WILDEST DREAMS BOX which is a YA book box subscription but not limited to fantasy so i’m really excited for it. It’s owned by my friend Zoe who is a sweetheart so watch out for the review sometime in December 2017 🙂

Always love to my readers,

Samia Sharif

@ssharifbooks

fairyloot 1

 

Author interviews, Contemporary YA

Q&A interview with Mohammed Khan on his remarkable debut I AM THUNDER (ARC)

 

i am thunder

I am so thrilled to be able to do an interview with this new remarkable talent in YA literature. There are not many YA books based on Muslim MC’s that are set in the UK and so I felt as though I could really relate to Muzna, Khan’s admirable main character. If you have a read of my review on I AM THUNDER, you will be able to see how much of a big fan I am. Here is a direct link: https://ssharifbooks.wordpress.com/2017/11/11/arc-review-i-am-thunder/.
I consider Muhammad to be someone that inspires me to try to benefit the world with my words. And I’m sure that after reading the interview, you too reader, will be inspired.
I was lucky enough to interview Muhammad about his upcoming debut! Here is the lovely interview we had!
1. To begin this interview, I want to say that I really admired the authors note you started the book off with. I think it was a nice touch to allow the reader to understand your motives for the book. Was there any specific reason you had it there though?
Thank you! It came from the heart. I think as an author of colour, the world expects you to be all things to all people. It’s just not possible. I can promise you that girls like Muzna do exist, but I didn’t want readers to think I was suggesting for a minute that every British Pakistani Muslim girl is Muzna. Like the rest of the world, we come in all varieties.
I wanted readers to understand why I felt it was important to have this conversation with teenagers. They are the ones we hope will build a better world; they are the ones who can end the cycle of hate and ignorance.
2. I Am Thunder is a book where young Muslim teenage girls and boys, I highlight boys because despite this being a book from a female perspective as readers we get to sympathise with Arif, and so my question is: Is it important to you for there to be representation for young Muslims in YA literature and why?
100 percent YES! Especially during this horrendous wave of Islamaphobia we’re experiencing at the moment. I think YA fiction in particular has a responsibility to present issues that are relevant to teenagers in multicultural, multi-faith Britain. They need a safe space to examine the world and form opinions.
Muslim teenagers have had a rough time recently and I wanted the book to be like a virtual hug. I wanted it to say: You have nothing to apologise for. You are not ISIS. Terrorism is not Islam. Be who ever you want to be, just make sure it’s the best version of yourself. That’s what all religions teach; Islam is no different.
3. I think that over the course of the book, themes like islamophobia, radicalisation, religion and love are huge factors of the book. But I do also think it’s about breaking rules. What are your thoughts on that?
I think the transition from childhood to adolescence is partly about breaking rules. It is human nature to experiment; celebrate your victories and to learn from your mistakes. As you get older, you want more autonomy, more say in what those rules might be. Muzna’s parents love her to bits but perhaps they are too hands on for her liking. Arif has no parents. Both situations present different challenges. Shaping the kind of adult you want to become is a rite of passage. Rarely is that journey going to be smooth.
4. Where did the idea for the book come from? Did you always want to write a book on teenage Muslims? What inspired you to write I Am Thunder?
The book was in response to two triggers. My Muslims students had been asking why Muslims are largely absent in books. Secondly, as a teacher, I received mandatory Prevent training. I felt this was disproportionately aimed at Islamist radicalisation as opposed to equally toxic far right extremism. Islamophobia and Islamist extremism are linked. To look at one without the other is foolish. So I decided to write my own anti-radicalisation book. Last year over 7500 children were referred under Prevent. As a passionate Muslim and teacher I felt I had to do something.
5. Like I said in my review ‘The slang, cultured and realness in I AM THUNDER screams secondary school students.’ The book really is an #ownvoices story. It’s full of diversity and I read that you were inspired by the students that you teach. Do they know you wrote this book? Is there a real life Muzna and Arif?
Thank you so much! Both my A Level and GCSE students are excited about the release of I Am Thunder.
Muzna is based on 3 girls I taught in the last 4 years. It was important for me to ground her in reality. Likewise, Muzna’s parents were inspired by people I met at Parents’ Evening. In the book I felt it was important to show the plurality of Muslims by having a wide range of characters who express their faith and culture in different ways.
Arif had a different purpose. For many, many years the media have perpetuated the Asian Male stereotype of someone who is weedy, awkward, and the butt of all jokes. Presenting Arif as smoking hot was important to dismiss that offensive trope.

 
6. Could you tell me a little about the process of writing the book, querying, being on submission and then selling to @MyKindaBook—@MacmillianKidsUK. For aspiring writers, Muslim and coloured young adults—what advice would you give?
I wrote the book in two weeks over the Easter break of 2015. If it was going to happen, it had to happen fast since high school teachers have little time to themselves. I spent the next few months polishing it. I sent it off to my agent Penny who felt it wasn’t quite there yet. So I worked on it some more, this time recruiting some of my students as beta readers. Penny loved the revised version and we met in a swanky restaurant where she offered me representation. It was the best moment of my life! Within a month of her sending the book out to publishers, I got to meet some. When you’re a kid you see publisher’s names on book spines and you never for a moment believe you’ll be visiting them someday. When I met Lucy, my editor at Pan Macmillan, I knew I’d found a kindred soul. She got Muzna on every level. For an author, it is the most amazing thing to have someone love your character as much as you do.
I would tell aspiring authors to never give up. There will probably be rough times ahead with rejections, bad reviews, Twitter trolls, and fierce competition. But if you believe in your work with all your heart, then someone else will too. You just need to find who that person is and grab their attention.
7. You are a secondary school teacher, which I massively admire because that’s what I want to go in to when I finish university, but did you always want to be a teacher? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Like Muzna, my career path was planned out for me. I qualified as an engineer from King’s College London. I then retrained to become a teacher because I love how honest and hopeful teenagers are and I think I have a gift for making maths accessible. But honestly, I always wanted to be an author, like from the age of four. I guess the lesson is: it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
8. Have you got any future projects lined up? Will there be a sequel/ companion novel to I Am Thunder? Are you interested in writing fantasy or is contemporary your best friend? Would you be open to writing middle grade?
I was lucky enough to get a two-book deal with Pan Mac. My next book will follow a fourth generation British-Pakistani boy as he navigates loyalties to his ‘mandem’ and his one true passion. Writing I Am Thunder was incredibly painful so I don’t have any plans for a sequel.
I LOVE fantasy – YA and MG! My first attempt at writing a novel was actually urban fantasy. A few agents were impressed but not enough to sign me up. Then radicalisation became a thing and I felt I had to contribute to the conversation. I wanted to bring all my students’ frustrations and confusion to the fore and get their voices and perspectives out there.
Sometimes people get so worked up they forget that teenagers are still children, trying to figure things out in an increasingly complex world. The world needs a lot more empathy and kindness.
9. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. To round off this interview, with all my interviewees, I like to ask them that: if you had to describe your book in three words—which words would you pick?
Thank you so much for having me and I wish you all the luck in the world on your own author-teacher journey! I know you’re going to do amazing things.
Identity, Love, Redemption – universal themes. 😊

 

Thank you again Muhammad for answering my questions. I am super excited for the release of I AM THUNDER.

Always love to my readers,
Samia Sharif
@ssharifbooks

 

 

 

 

Contemporary YA

ARC Review: I AM THUNDER

Author: Mohammed Khan

Pages: 306 pages

Publisher: Mykindabook/MacmillanKidsUK

Publication Date: 25th January 2018

Source: ARC sent by publisher

Rating 5/5

Goodreads blurb:

“Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem, who dreams of being a writer, struggles with controlling parents who only care about her studying to be a doctor. Forced to move to a new school in South London after her best friend is shamed in a scandal, Muzna realizes that the bullies will follow her wherever she goes. But deciding to stand and face them instead of fighting her instinct to disappear is harder than it looks when there’s prejudice everywhere you turn. Until the gorgeous and confident Arif shows an interest in her, encouraging Muzna to explore her freedom.

But Arif is hiding his own secrets and, along with his brother Jameel, he begins to influence Muzna with their extreme view of the world. As her new freedom starts to disappear, Muzna is forced to question everything around her and make a terrible choice – keep quiet and betray herself, or speak out and betray her heart?

A stunning new YA voice which questions how far you’ll go to protect what you believe in.”

i am thunder

When I stated reading books, I rarely ever thought I’d be able to see myself in a book.

That doesn’t happen?

At least I thought it didn’t.

And now, two of the recent books I’ve read, have been written by Muslim authors and I have been able to identify with the main character.

If you don’t know already I’m 19 years old. My teenage years are ending.

But I’m so grateful to say that in the very end of my teenage years, Muslim girls on books were becoming a thing.

And the first from an actual UK based, Muslim author is I AM THUNDER.

I AM THUNDER has rich storytelling. It’s not your average contemporary, it’s more real and more raw than most. I can idneitrfy with the characters, setting, practices and rules, ideas explored and context of pretty much everything in the book.

That’s why it deserves ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. Mohammed Khan writes with care, he took on a deep and sensitive issue with passion and made sure to do it right in the way HE deemed fit.

He explores social and stereotypical ideas from British society of British Muslims and how sometimes we may be afraid to stand up for what’s right because of our places in society and how we might be perceived but I think he wrote this with tender care and reminds it’s reader that ‘You are THUNDER. Don’t keep quiet.’ -Author Note, Muhammad Khan.

Also for you teens who are thinking these books set in the UK do not represent you. Mate. The slang, cultured and realness in I AM THUNDER screams secondary school students. Buy it, read it, devour it. The references to Stormzy, the idea that chicken and chips were the food place to hit after school, constantly saying ‘fam’ and ‘basically’ in every sentence. This book is so real. It’s for you, a reader from a marginalised background. Anyone who advocates for diverse books. This is for you. It’s time that our youth see ourselves in books. Arif and Muzna are a clear example of how our youth can be easily radicalised if you tell them what they want to hear. But from the very beginning of the book you can see the storm that Muzna was. Muzna broke some rules that Muslim girls fear of breaking but in the end she came out stronger than ever.

I devoured this captivating book in two sittings, it’s a book that the YA world is not ready for. A voice that’s necessary, a story that’s needed. IAM THUNDER strikes best as a book that recognises its place in the British Muslim community and is a delight for readers from all communities and cultures.

Thank you @mykindabook @MacmillanKidsUK and @beatricemay for sending me this wonderful story. I’m so grateful to have read this ARC. Proud, and a new fan forever.

Always love to my readers,

Samia Sharif

@ssharifbooks

Book Box

Owlcrate book box review! October 2017

So the only other book box that I’ve ever had is FAIRYLOOT which I absolutely adored (Anissa’s my friend but that’s not the reason) and so I have been nervous to try another box.

The theme for this month’s fairyloot box is FIND ME IN THE FOREST. I’ll add the Instagram handles for the following items.

I opened the box and found the spoilery guide (which I find really helpful). Then I saw the CANDLE.

CANDLES.

CANDLES.

CANDLES.

If you know me, you know that anything candle related makes me a happy girl.

The candle in this box was an exclusive candle from IN THE WICK OF TIME @InTheWickOfTime which smelt perfect. You could smell the forest in it.

Next there was loose leaf tea from Riddles Tea Shoppe @riddlesteashoppe and if you know me, you know that I am a massive tea fan! (This is the British in me) and so I gave Owlcrate a million thumbs up for this.

MUGS.

THEY INCLUDED A MUG FOR THE FIRST TIME AND I GOT IT.

Okay let me cool down but oh my god this mug was beautiful. This was the forbidden forest from HARRY POTTER.

OMG.

THE CHILD IN ME IS SCREECHING!

And this mug was exclusively made by Cara Kozik @carakozik for Owlcrate. Then to go along with this beautiful mug is a coaster exclusively designed by Kristin Askland @kristinaskland.

MAGNETIC bookmarks. Okay. I own A LOT of bookmarks but not many magnetic ones and so i’m excited to try these out. They were made by Craftedvan @craftedvan. The artprint was made by Audra Auclair @audraauclair.

AND FOR THE BOOK.

So, so far you’ve seen A MUG, A CANDLE and now…A BOOK.

And one that was on my TBR!!!

WILD BEAUTY! Just look at that georgeous flowery exclusive cover for Owlcrate readers! The author of this book is the lovely Anna-Marie McLemore and i’m super excited to dive in to this beauty!

Packaging: This was neatly packaged, with the well known brown Owlcrate box, and came perfectly together. It was delivered carefully, all items were totally fine and I am definitely hording the box because well-why not?

Thanks so much for reading! Definitely getting another box in the next few months, this was too pretty to not!

Love to my readers,

@ssharifbooks

 

Contemporary YA

Review: The Hate U Give

Author: Angie Thomas

Pages: 464 pages

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Publication Date: February 28 2017

Source: Gifted by @thereadinghijabsy for my birthday

Rating 5/5

Goodreads blurb

“Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.”

I read The Hate U Give the day of it’s publication but haven’t had the chance to review (i’m way behind on reviews for a lot of books)

THUG is incredibly written. It’s a book that I simply couldn’t put down. And that’s for many reasons. Other than Angie’s creative writing, and plot that thickens but is expressed wonderfully–it’s a book about the Black Lives Matter movement. Something that I and thousands of readers can relate to.

I sometimes explain the plot of books but I think after this book being a phenomenal and still on the NYT bestseller list after it’s first week of publication, I don’t need to. Everyone knows why this book deserves #1. Everyone knows why you should read it.

The books pours real life experiences. It’s every black teenager, young adult, elderly etc love letter. It’s a book that tells it’s reader how police brutality is real. It’s a book that tells every black kid that YOUR VOICE MATTERS. It’s a book that tells you why you should continue to raise your hand, bend your knee or protest for black rights.

Starr is caught between two worlds.

Same as many of us.

We’re caught between a world where we want to raise our voices and protest until everyone is equal. But’s also a world where we look the other way out of fear.

Starr is strong, she doesn’t fear.

How we tell stories, how systematic racism is developed, how we use our voices–it’s all in there, and Angie doesn’t just tell you why our pain is justified but she teaches life long lessons. After this book i’ll read anything Angie Thomas writes.

Love to my readers,

@ssharifbooks THUG

Reading Challenge

Reading Challenge 2017 completed: 50/50

Hi my dear readers!

So as some of you may know I read 68 books in 2016, which was a big deal considering I started reading from cover to cover in 2014 (when I was 16- my first ever book was Torn Apart by James Patterson). And so I come free a background where reading isn’t influenced or admired: in fact my mama still believes I read *devil books* ( which is any cover that has the words to do with Fire or just looks scary)

This is a big deal guys.

Reading wasn’t a habit growing up.

It’s a privilege now.

And so in 2016–I read anything I could get my hands. This was how my collection grew- I joined YA twitter because my favourite genres to read are fantasy and contemporary and I honestly just read anything I could afford.

I quickly began to love authors like Sabaa Tahir, Tahereh Mafi, S J Maas, Nicola Yoon, Leigh Bardugo etc.

And then I realised, if I read like this from younger then so many issues that I faced could’ve been sorted whilst I was growing up in school.

I now own about 210 books. In just under 2 years, I have bought 210 and read a good 140 of them. By the end of this year i’m hoping to get through another shelf.

But isn’t that special?

I own 210 books. In a tiny corner of my room that I share with 3 of my sisters, I own 210 books. I thinks that’s pretty remarkable.

So anyway, apart from this tiny back story on how  I came to reading, I want to list some of my favourite reads from this year.

These include NYT bestsellers, recent debuts, series that I’ve always wanted to start and just some reads that I stumbled upon finding but thoroughly enjoyed. They aren’t listed in the order of what I enjoyed most but more the order how I read them I guess(January- October 2017)

  1. Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon= YA Contemporary
  2. Consequences (1,2,3) by Aleatha Romig = New Adult
  3. Beautiful Disaster (1,2,3) by Jamie McGuire= YA Contemporary
  4. Wing Jones by Katherine Webber= YA Contemporary
  5. Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan= YA SFF
  6. Caraval by Stephanie Garber= YA Fantasy
  7. Throne of Glass (1,2,3,4,5,6) by S J Mass= YA Fantasy
  8. A Court of Thorns and Roses(1,2,3) by S J Mass = YA Fantasy/ New Adult
  9. Cinder by Marissa Meyer = YA Fantasy
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas = Ya Contemporary
  11. If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak = YA Contemporary
  12. Rebel of the Sands (1,2) by Alwyn Hamiltion= YA Fantasy
  13. Simon Vs the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli= YA Contemporary
  14. The Grisha Trilogy(1,2,3) by Leigh Bardugo = YA Fantasy
  15. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo=YA Fantasy
  16. Shatter Me Trilogy(1,2,3) by Tahereh Mafi= YA Fantasy
  17. One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M.McManus= YA thriller
  18. A Darker Shade of Magic(1,2,3) by V.E Schwab= YA Fantasy
  19. Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed= YA Contemporary

So there you have it! These were the books I thoroughly enjoyed so far this year. I have met quite a few of these authors and they are some of the greatest people that I know. By the end of this year I’m going to try to read 15 more books (with all the drafting, editing, assignment writing and events that I have in the next two months!)

And  I’ll leave you with this quote that I love and admire so much, because it’s something I can relate to.

“Reading is a conversation. A good books talks. But a good book listens as well.”- Mark Haddon.

Thanks for reading everyone! I’m going to add in some photos of my book shelves and comment if you can spot any of the books that I’ve listed!

Always love to my readers,

Samia Sharif

@ssharifbooks

 

 

MG Fantasy, YA Dystopian

Reviews: Shatter Me Trilogy (#1,2,3) and Furthermore

 

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Pages: 388
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5/5

Usually I would add a Goodreads blurb and the date of published but because I’m reviewing all three books, I don’t want there to be too much information. I hope you won’t kill me. Haha.

Shatter Me:

Shatter Me’s prose caught my eyes very quickly. Mafi writes with such elegance, she derives true passion in each word  and so for me, the writing was very beautiful. You can hear Juliettes thoughts, you can feel her pain and you can understand from the get go what it means to be scrutinised when you are different.
I particularly loved the fact that she crossed out the words that Juliette thought. It draws the reader in, the words aren’t just crossed but they’re shattered like the title of the book and it makes the book way more alluring and different than other YA texts.
I fell in love with Adam from the start. Adam understood her throughout the books, I know some will disagree and have deemed him ‘clingy’ but he truly loved her and she didn’t return that love fairly. I was team Adam from the get go, although I do not mind Warner (because with Twilight I was team Edward and ONLY Edward) I’ll always love Adam more.

Unravel Me:

Adam and Juliette grow apart in this book, and the awkwardness grows when she starts to fall for Warner and I do feel like the series takes a turn with this book because it focuses on the relationship she has with the brother than the plot instead. I wish we knew more about the world. This is a popular factor of dystopian novels as we rarely get to see what it is so different about the world created. What caused the Shatter Me world? Where did the powers come from? Despite these questions and minor, I do love Tahereh’s writing. She is a metaphor queen and I love it! I particularly loved Kenji, and partly that’s because he’s not involve with her but also because he’s really awesome and funny and just a great character to spice up the mix. I do genuinely love this series and I love how much of a entertaining read it is. In this book, I did like Warner more because when Juliette was with him she wasn’t soppy or annoying or crying every second. But I do feel like Adam was done wrong and so I don’t know who I ship. I guess I prefer Kenji the most.

Ignite Me:

Regardless if you are team Adam and Warner, this book was the icing on the cake. What an ending to a remarkable series. I did want Juliette to end up with Adam, but I wanted it to authentic and real and I understand that, that is not possible. Reasons: in order for her to end up with Adam–warner would have to die (which is just silly. Another reason, I do think Juliette only liked Adam because he was the first person that was nice to her so I HOPE Tahereh finds him a girl that loves him truly in book 4! A big issue from this series is the realistically element of it. Can Juliette really lead a world by herself? Despite having Warner and her other friends, she’s a young girl and knows nothing in terms of the politics so just how realistic is this? I think this needs to be clarified in book 4. Upon finishing this series, I don’t like Juliette as much as I love Kenji. I am not team Warner or team Adam (FOR THIS FIRST TIME UPON READING AN EPIC SERIES LIKE THIS) I think I’ll remain team Kenji and low-key always love Adam’s annoying self 😦

I am so ecstatic that Shatter Me is continuing with Restore Me coming out 2018! What is needing to be restored? Is Juliette stronger? Will she still have power and control over the Omega Point? Does Adam find happiness? Is Kenji still frickin awesome!

I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!

Second review on here is: Furthermore

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Pages: 388
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4/5

Blurb:

Born as blank as canvas in a world brimming with colour and magic, Alice’s pale skin and milk-white hair mark her as an outcast. Because, for the people of Ferenwood, colour and magic are one and the same. And since the disappearance of her beloved father, Alice is more determined than ever to prove herself and her own magical abilities.
To do so she’ll have to travel into the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, with the help of a fiercely annoying boy named Oliver. But nothing in Furthermore is as it seems, and it will take all of Alice’s wits to find her father and return him safely home.

Favourite quote: ‘Eyes closed, feet dancing their way towards the pond, she was her own music, her body her favourite thing she’d ever owned.’ (Furthermore pic not mine)

I really appreciate young female Muslim authors and everyone else should. Tahereh takes us beyond the limits of our imagination with this captivating adventure. I loved Tahereh from the moment her words inspired me, her fashion influenced me and her kindness humbled me.

Mafi is a highly passionate writer, who is known for breaking the hearts of her readers. This book was lush, magical, colourful and so positive. The vibes is unreal. Alexis is a character who is full of adventure and prose. Oliver is fresh and exciting, put it together and you got yourself a NYT bestseller.

As a reader, I was engaged with this story form the get go. Alexis wants nothing more but to save her father. clearly the only ray of sunlight in her life. The world building in this ten times better than Shatter Me. It’s full of rich visuals and absorbs you. You feel like your already there, running along the side walks and swimming in a pool of colour. I enjoyed this MG and cannot wait for Witchwood! (SUPER excited to see a hijabi character on the cover!)

Love to readers,
@ssharifbooks