Friday, April 19, 2019

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

Posted by 3 Comments

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

GoodreadsPurchase
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

Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Posted by on 04/17/2019 • 4 Comments

This one messes with your head, guys! I love psychological thrillers, and this had me totally creeped out from very early on. It also had me puzzled with the mystery of the fairy-tale-like storyline. With each new chapter we’re given a new layer of this mystery that makes absolutely no logical sense, but can’t deny that it’s all happening. I kept wondering if this was just a big mind-game with a huge twist that would turn everything on its head. Or if I was just completely overlooking a small detail that would make everything clear. I loved it!

Being a mother myself, I couldn’t help but relate to what Lauren was going through. The exhaustion, the lack of help, the loneliness that comes from having a new born (I can’t…

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…

Fresh Batch (April 14th – 20th)

Fresh Batch (April 14th – 20th)

Posted by on 04/13/2019 • 0 Comments

Fresh Batch, posted weekly, keeps you up to date on the hottest releases of the upcoming week.

Flavor of the week:

Serious Moonlight Jenn Bennett Publication date: April 16th 2019by Simon Pulse

Goodreads Purchase

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard…

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…

Review: Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge

Review: Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge

Posted by on 04/08/2019 • 1 Comment

Gothic mystery novels are a favorite of mine, and Dreaming Darkly is an eerie novel that, albeit a bit predictable and dramatic at times, was an exciting read overall. 

After the death of Ivy’s mother, she’s sent back to her family’s old manor on a private island off the coast of Maine. When she gets there, she finds that not everything and everyone is at it seems, and strange dreams start feeling a bit too real. I found this story really intriguing from the very first page. Ivy’s life with her mom, her mom’s mysterious past, her family’s history are all really interesting. I found myself flying to the pages to find out every detail I could about this ominous family tree. This mystery aspect is done really well, with…

Fresh Batch (April 7th – 13th)

Fresh Batch (April 7th – 13th)

Posted by on 04/06/2019 • 1 Comment

Fresh Batch, posted weekly, keeps you up to date on the hottest releases of the upcoming week.

Flavor of the week:

Descendant of the Crane Joan He Publication date: April 9th 2019by Albert Whitman Company

Goodreads Purchase

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.

Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her…

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…