Posts By: Rashika

Friday, April 19, 2019

Soft but Important: Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

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Soft but Important: Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali
Love from A to Z
S.K. Ali
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: April 30th, 2019
by Salaam Reads

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From William C. Morris Award Finalist S.K. Ali comes an unforgettable romance that is part The Sun Is Also a Star mixed with Anna and the French Kiss , following two Muslim teens who meet during a spring break trip.

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.
-A copy was provided by Salaam Reads for review-

I am almost 22 and can safely say I am not the intended audience for YA novels these days but, reading Love From A To Z made me feel like a teen again and soothed my soul in a way a contemporary novel hasn’t in a while. I was transported back to 2010 when I read Does My Head Look Big in This and felt seen by the MC who was struggling with her identity in a world that hated her.

Zayneb is not a nice girl. She is angry. She is angry at the injustice in the world and she is angry at the injustice she experiences every day in her classroom. She is tired of always feeling like she needs to be ashamed of who she is. A suspension means an early start to her spring break and she is off to Doha to visit her favorite aunt.

Adam is returning home to Doha for spring break but little does anyone know that it might not be a temporary thing. He has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the same disease that took his mother, and with the anniversary of his mother’s death coming up, he isn’t sure how to break the news to his still grieving father.

It seems like fate when Adam and Zayneb’s paths cross at an airport and then cross again at a house party. As they get to know each other, sparks fly.

Obviously, spring break is a short time to get to know and fall in love with someone but the way Ali tells this love story feels so authentic and I forgot that it had only been two weeks. I love that while Adam and Zayneb share values and a journal, they are also, in other ways, complete opposites. Sometimes, they were painfully aware of how truly opposite they were but in the end, they complement and ground one another.

Love from A to Z is a love story but it is also so much more. It is very much aware of the world and environment it is set in and isn’t afraid to point out the many injustices that we come across, even passively. It also deals with grief in a profound way that isn’t always about being okay in the short run.

At its heart, Love from A to Z is a book about hope because, even in the face of some truly terrible things, Zayneb and Adam find ways to be happy. And their happiness isn’t just rooted in each other, they have a strong network of friends and family who have their backs and help empower them.

If you’re looking for the kind of contemporary novel that doesn’t shy away from the ugly but is also absolutely adorable and soft, Love from A to Z is the book for you.

4 Stars
4 Hot Espressos

Not Bennett’s Best: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Not Bennett’s Best: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Posted by on 04/16/2019 • 0 Comments

I didn’t think I’d ever read a Jenn Bennett book I didn’t love but… unfortunately… Serious Moonlight just didn’t do it for me. It isn’t that it isn’t enjoyable but over the past five years, I’ve come to expect a lot from a Jenn Bennett book and Serious Moonlight just didn’t live up to those expectations for me.

I think, a big part of the problem was that I didn’t love the characters as much and therefore wasn’t as invested in their relationship. While Birdie’s personality and trust issues make sense given her extremely sheltered upbringing, it really started getting on my nerves when we were almost 400 pages in and still dealing with her trust issues. I also thought it was super weird that Birdie didn’t have a single…

Gritty Characters: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Gritty Characters: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Posted by on 04/09/2019 • 1 Comment

CW: Self-harm and manipulative romantic relationship

I was told Wicked Saints would destroy me but I still didn’t realize what that would mean until I read the last couple pages of this book. If you enjoy happiness at all, you will stay far away from this book. If you love gritty characters, none of whom are particularly good (and some who might just be PLAIN EVIL), you will love Wicked Saints.

Right off the bat, we are pushed into the middle of a war with an opening scene where one of our MCs has to watch as many people important to her are murdered. So no, there are no rainbows and puppies in this book. Honestly though, having such a powerful scene was helpful to me because I’ve been struggling…

2019 Books with Heists and Thieves

2019 Books with Heists and Thieves

Posted by on 04/05/2019 • 1 Comment

If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that there have been a surge in books about heists and thieves this year. As someone who is always on the lookout for a book about some good old fashioned thieving, I thought I’d make a list for anyone else who loves heists as much as me and missed any of these books. 

Note: this list includes two books that came out December 2018 (WHICH COUNTS, IMHO) as well as a book I didn’t personally love but that shouldn’t stop other people from loving it.

1. Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig 

Kickboxing drag queens performing heists? HELL TO THE FUCKING YEAH. 

2. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

ITS SET IN PARIS in 1889. ’tis enough. Also…

Atmospheric With Well-Written Characters: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Atmospheric With Well-Written Characters: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Posted by on 04/04/2019 • 1 Comment

The Devouring Gray is a book that requires patience. There is no getting around it. It’s slow, and for the first quarter of the book I could not tell you what the fuck was going on except that the kids were sad, felt betrayed, maybe were trying to take each other down, it was a mess. I stuck with it though because my friends loved it and it turned out to be absolutely worth it.

Violet is new in town, Justin and Harper used to be bffs but Justin betrayed Harper, Issac is a soft boy with a world of hurt inside him. Together, the four of them make up the new generation of the founding families of the Four Paths and are sworn to protect the town from the…

The Beginning of An Exciting Family Saga: The Takeover Effect by Nisha Sharma

The Beginning of An Exciting Family Saga: The Takeover Effect by Nisha Sharma

Posted by on 03/26/2019 • 0 Comments

I absolutely adored My So-Called Bollywood Life when I read it last year so when I found out that Nisha Sharma was writing another book, specifically an adult romance, I was all aboard. When I found out the series would follow a wealthy Sikh Punjabi-American family, I WAS EVEN MORE EXCITED (which I didn’t know was possible but whatever.)

The Takeover Effect is a quick read. The pages just sort of fly by. That said, it did take me more than half the book to actually be invested in the characters and the plot. I don’t know if I can even point out a specific reason why this was but I didn’t really click with the book until shit hit the fan.

And when shit hit the fan, IT HIT…

An Emotional Rollercoaster: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

An Emotional Rollercoaster: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Posted by on 03/22/2019 • 0 Comments

Rick Riordan Presents is probably the only imprint I can say I want to read EVERY SINGLE BOOK FROM. I saw the synopsis mentioned a raw chicken inside a locker and was immediately sold. I WANTED IT and I READ IT and YEAH. I am not really sure if Sal and Gabi Break the Universe has mythology vibes??? But what I can say is that it is truly a work of art.

There is a good chance I’ve said that about another book or two before but I don’t know how else to describe how truly well written this book is. Carlos Hernandez knows how to pace a book, he knows how to pull at your emotions and he knows just how to crack and build tension. There were so many…

Matriarchal Society Gone Corrupt: Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Matriarchal Society Gone Corrupt: Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Posted by on 03/20/2019 • 1 Comment

I honestly didn’t know that Lilliam Rivera had a new book coming out until earlier this year which just shows you where publishing’s priorities are in terms of marketing. In my eagerness to read anything Rivera writes, I actually forgot to read the summary and it wasn’t until a while later that I realized Dealing in Dreams was a proper dystopian novel. If you read my review for We Set the Dark on Fire, you will know I don’t do dystopia anymore but given that I’ve technically now read two dystopian novels for the first time in literal years, I THINK IT’S SAFE TO SAY I am doing dystopia again. BUT, to be clear, I am only doing dystopia written by POC.

Dealing in Dreams starts off super slow….