Posts Tagged: YA

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Adorable and Emotional: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

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Adorable and Emotional: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Publication date: October 16, 2018
by HarperTeen

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It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.
-A copy was provided by HarperTeen for review-

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is my first Tahereh Mafi book and I definitely hope it won’t be last. Reviewing this one is particularly hard because it was one of those books I ADORED while reading but a couple hours of reflection definitely allowed me to pick up on several holes within the plot and various arcs of the story.

The book hits on a particularly complex social issue that’s about as relevant today as it was two decades ago – islamophobia. This book is an #ownvoices tale and particularly so in that it is very much inspired by Mafi’s own experiences growing up after 9/11. One of my favorite things about this book is that sometimes, even when the sentences aren’t perfect or I have issues with how things play into the larger plot of the novel, Mafi is so absolutely wonderful at emotions. The under thread of anger that flows in this book is extremely poignant and hard-hitting. I wanted to CRY because I was so angry on behalf of Shirin. Shirin is also, her anger is just beautiful. That’s a weird thing to say and upon reflection it does seem kind of generic but IT’S SO TRUE. I loved her anger and I loved how it evolved over the course of the book. I also loved that the book truly allowed Shirin to be angry at the injustice she experiences because people don’t know how to react to a visibly Muslim woman. It didn’t seem to ever make it out to be a bad thing or preach that love is the answer to EVERYTHING. It isn’t but hey, love ~is~ nice.

One of my other favorite things about this book is that Shirin is surprisingly honest with her love interest. Sometimes, in YA novels, especially old school ones, there is a tendency for MCs to just lie to their love interests to ‘protect’ them and hurt their feelings. But Shirin? Even when she is unsure, angsty and confused, she trusts Ocean with her feelings because she is aware this impacts him and she doesn’t want to be needlessly cruel. Of course, there are times when Shirin doesn’t offer the full truth (in part because of her own trauma) but I love that she doesn’t at least shield Ocean.

My biggest issue with the book is just that sometimes, it felt like a lot of character arcs and plot lines took a backseat to the romance. The romance was great but there were characters I wanted to get to know better! I wanted more of the breakdancing! I wanted more of the book basically. More of Shirin and her life outside of the horrifying bullying and swoony romance. WE NEVER EVEN really found out why the fuck her family moves all the time! There was ONE line dedicated to that entire thing and it didn’t explain anything. Even though the moving around has supposedly shaped her into the person she is.

The good news is that the romance is well written and good enough to hold up the entire novel but also, I just wanted more. Tahereh is clearly a wonderful writer and I wished we got to see even more of Shirin’s relationships with the people around her (BESIDES OCEAN.)

Overall, A Very Large Expanse of Sea is certainly a novel worthy of your time and attention. Especially if you love adorable romances. And I pretty much guarantee you’ll finish the book with a smile on your face. SO? Yes. Read the thing.

3.5 Stars
3.5 Hot Espressos

The Bollywood Rom-Com We Deserve: My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma

The Bollywood Rom-Com We Deserve: My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma

Posted by on 10/22/2018 • 1 Comment

Two books out in a year with Indian MCs who aspire to be filmmakers? Is this a sign I should drop everything and become a filmmaker? Stay tuned to find out. Obviously this book isn’t about ~my~ so-called bollywood life but it is about Winnie Mehta’s so-called bollywood life.

My So-Called Bollywood Life basically reads like a bollywood film and I didn’t mind it ONE LITTLE BIT. There is a love triangle, lots of angst, kismet, a heroine with tons of dreams, and even a bollywood dance number.

Winnie has always thought Raj was her soulmate, after all, she’s been told her entirely life that their love is written in the stars, but when he suddenly breaks up with her and starts dating Jenny Dickens, Winnie is more…

Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield

Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield

Posted by on 07/19/2018 • 0 Comments

For someone who has had Vikki Wakefield on her tbr for over half a decade, it has taken me a surprisingly long time to finally pick up a book by her. I went in with the expectation that I would at least like it but ended up being surprised in pleasant ways.

OZ YA, in my opinion, tends to be much grittier than US YA so its always refreshing to find myself lost within the pages of an OZ YA. Ballad for a Mad Girl is many things. Its partly a paranormal murder mystery, partly an exploration of mental health and partly a coming of age.

Grace Foley is a bit of a prankster. She takes risks few people are willing to take and has a whole lot of fun…

Giveaway: Hidden Pieces by Paula Stokes

Giveaway: Hidden Pieces by Paula Stokes

Posted by on 07/16/2018 • 10 Comments

Hi guys! We are huge fans of Paula Stokes over here so we’re really honored and excited to be bringing you a giveaway for Paula’s latest book! It’s a return to mystery and it sounds amazing! Turning over to Paula now!

Paula: Hi peeps 🙂 A big thank you to Rashika and Giselle for having me on Xpresso Reads to talk about my forthcoming mystery, HIDDEN PIECES, releasing on Aug 28. Of course there is a giveaway, but first here’s a little info about the book in case you’re unfamiliar.

Character Profiles

Embry:

Embry Woods is an 18-year-old girl who likes photography and the ocean, but isn’t sure what she’s going to do after she graduates from high school. Her mom is recovering from breast cancer, and even…

Imperfect but 100% Lovable: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Imperfect but 100% Lovable: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Posted by on 07/11/2018 • 3 Comments

So, even though When Dimple Met Rishi was one of my most anticipated books of 2017 and I winded up with two/three copies of it, I actually never ended up reading it. Of course, Sandhya Menon is a champ and regardless of whether or not I had read When Dimple Met Rishi, From Twinkle, With Love was already on my TBR and most anticipated for 2018. Of course, May went back, Twinkle came out and I still hadn’t read it because that’s WHO I AM. A PROCRASTINATOR. But. then. I decided to do a thing. I decided to read the GODDAMN BOOK and it was absolutely, 100% worth it. 

I think it is worth it to mention that I found that Twinkle wasn’t as easy to get into. It’s written exclusively in letters so it…

The Anthology We Have Been Waiting For: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

The Anthology We Have Been Waiting For: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

Posted by on 07/04/2018 • 2 Comments

There have been so MANY amazing anthologies on my radar this year but A Thousand Beginnings and Endings might have been my most anticipated for the year. 

I’ve talked this about a lot so I sometimes feel like a broken record, but it is an important point and a huge part of my love and excitement for this anthology so it is worth repeating. I grew up without much rep which was weird and confusing. Obviously, this review is not meant to be an analysis of my trauma but even as a teen, this was so evident when I’d open all those angel/vampire books that were soaked in Christian and western myth. Myths I grew up on, or other people grew up where never part of mainstream media even though they…

Summer Road Trip: Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim

Summer Road Trip: Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim

Posted by on 06/25/2018 • 0 Comments

That Thing We Call a Heart was one of my favorite books of 2017 so obviously, when I heard about Mariam Sharma Hits the Road, I was ecstatic and ready to dive in. This review is particularly hard because even though, overall, I definitely enjoyed Mariam Sharma Hits the Road, there were times when I felt let down by some of the things the characters said.

I am grappling for words as I attempt to describe my feelings because I want to be respectful and clear that these experiences aren’t invalid but one of the biggest dichotomy in the book is how Mariam is raised vs how her friends are raised. Mariam grew up in a household that wasn’t religious or super connected to their cultural roots and her mom was super…

Really Funny and Over-the-Top: Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Really Funny and Over-the-Top: Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Posted by on 06/21/2018 • 2 Comments

Save the Date is neither unpredictable nor does it really break any moulds. It is exactly what you would expect it to be and it is fucking amazing. If you, like me, are a connoisseur of rom-coms & chick-flicks and are upset by how few are being made lately, this book is what you deserve.

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this week, her family home is being sold, and her brother who she nor her parents have spoken to in almost two years is gonna be coming back for the wedding. To add to the stress, Charlie’s long-time crush and her are feeling the sparks which makes things awkward because a certain brother is crashing with her crush instead of with the fam. Charlie just wants…