Genre: 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…

Giveaway: The Witchlands Series

Giveaway: The Witchlands Series

Posted by on 10/15/2018 • 11 Comments

Today we are partnering with the lovely people over at Tor Teen to bring you this amazing opportunity to catch up on the New York Times Bestselling Witchlands series! Book three comes out next year SO ITS TIME TO READ THE BOOKS!

About the Series Series WebsiteGoodreads About the Author

SUSAN DENNARD is the author of the New York Times bestselling Witchlands series as well as the Something Strange and Deadly series. She has come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor. When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, slaying darkspawn on her…

The Perfect Anthology for Halloween: Toil & Trouble

The Perfect Anthology for Halloween: Toil & Trouble

Posted by on 10/12/2018 • 1 Comment

It is no secret that YA has been severely lacking with witchy content lately. I miss the delightful witchy pnr/urban fantasy that was so prominent in YA a couple years ago and I hope this anthology signals a comeback. SO. ANYWAY. When I heard about this anthology, I was ready for it. And it delivered. Like with any anthology, there were some stories that didn’t quite hit their potential, but I think I actually liked every single short story?? Which is quite a feat for an anthology.

I think my favorite thing about this anthology is just how much variety there is! It is extremely diverse but also, there is also just a huge variety in the kinds of stories being told. We get witch-y meet cutes, romances, horror, mystical,…

Good to be Reunited With Some Beloved Characters: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

Good to be Reunited With Some Beloved Characters: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

Posted by on 08/28/2018 • 2 Comments

Roshani Chokshi has already earned herself a place on my auto-read list so it is unsurprising that even though I am a shit head who hasn’t read A Crown of Wishes, I still needed to read Star-Touched Stories. Chokshi has a distinguished writing style that just calls out to me, I guess.

Short stories set in a favorite world are always fun and I love how Chokshi really does somehow manage to bring the Star-Touched queen world to life even through this short snippets into the lives of beloved characters. WHICH. I know I’ve read Star-Touched Queen so I have some context but its been two years so I really didn’t remember much and yet, THE STORIES WERE SO WELL WRITTEN that I didn’t really need to remember…

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…