Reviews

A Tough Read- The Love and Lies of Rukshana Ali

Overall enjoyment: 2.5/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 3/5

Diversity: 5/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective. 

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?”

Review

I started this book think while there might be a little teenage hardship in this book it would be a fairly light read. I was WRONG!!!! Normally I don’t give book warnings since everyone has their own personal triggers and opinions, but this one got unexpectedly dark. There were definitely times were I almost put this book down. Maybe it was because it hit a bit too close to home for me, but there’s some serious homophobia in this book. If you’re sensitive to that I would encourage you to read with caution. This book starts out light with normal teenage concerns and then hits on some serious topics.

The characters.  Rukshana herself was an interesting character and I love that we were introduced to some of her Bangladesh culture and how that affects her as someone who is a first-generation teenager living in the US. I think it also was very open and honest about the different cultural pressures some girls with more traditional family may experience. There are of course other characters, but they seemed pretty shallow to me. I would say Rukshana’s family gets a little depth especially her grandmother, but I was left wanting more especially about Rukshana’s girlfriend.

World building was minor in that it takes places in the modern world, but there’s so much cultural bits in this book that I feel I was given a look into another experience of what life could be had I been born into a different family. I very much enjoyed it.

Diversity. This book was focused on Rukshana, a Desi lesbian. It also includes other LGBTQ+ characters as well as her family which is as mentioned originally from Bangladesh. Definitely a diverse read!

Overall, I AM GOING TO GIVE SPOILERS! PLEASE SKIP IF WANT TO AVOID!!!!!

I loved the cultural elements of this book and I was really excited to read it, but how the LGBTQ+ elements were handled in this book made it almost impossible for me to enjoy. First, there is really no meaningful relationship between Rukshana and Ariana in my opinion. They’re together in the book, but we never learn how they met or really why Rukshana even loves Ariana so much. They’re either making out, arguing, or apologizing. It was flat for me and really disappointing. Once the mother catches the two girls together Rukshana is tricked into going to Bangladesh with her parents where they hire someone who basically tells the family that Rukshana is controlled by a jinn and they need to do and exorcism. Now, while this was horrifying to read I understand that there can be some importance to having this experience in the novel. I’m not sure if this is being practiced in any part of Bangladesh or anywhere today, but if so then I would want people to know about it and understand what experience men and women from these areas may be having. What I didn’t appreciate was that once Rukshana’s parents realize they were wrong the follow through of regaining trust, apologizing, etc. seemed too brief and easy to me. I wanted more conversation and depth, but it sped all too quickly for me. I also had mixed feelings about the death of Sohail, a closested gay man that Rukshana’s parents want her to marry. I think the author was maybe trying to open our eyes to the struggles of LGBTQ+ youth in Bangladesh and if this character had been more of a focal point with more backstory maybe it would have felt more powerful to me, but I felt like Sohail was only in the books so that his death could make Rukshana’s parents realize how awful it would be if their daughter was murdered. This then makes them realize that they’d rather accept her rather than see her killed. He was a plot point and I have a hard time with that. So, maybe I’m still too raw and emotional about this book to see it objectively. If you see it from a different angle I wouldn’t mind hearing your thoughts and maybe discussing it. I want to like this book and I do love the cultural aspects, but the rest is hard to swallow.

SPOILERS OVER

What do you think about the book? Did you enjoy it? Is it on your TBR? I’d love to hear what you think!

Book Haul

My Summer Book Haul

So, this summer has been pretty crazy for me. However, when I have the rare day off I often find my way back into the book store purchasing books I have no time to read. Whether I can read them or not though I am nonetheless super excited about them! Check out my summer book haul! All title contain a link back to Goodreads if you’re interested in summaries and ratings.

My Physical Books

Spin the Dawn: I got this book as an ARC from Netgalley and I couldn’t be more thrilled by this book. If you enjoy beautifully written mythology and fantasy adventure quests then I really couldn’t recommend this book enough to you. I honestly can’t wait until the next book.

Once & Future: I’ve been waiting for this book ever since I heard about it. I’m not really a big fan of SyFy, but a gender bent Arthurian tale? I’m just too intrigued to pass it up. I’m so excited to read this.

This Time Will Be Different: Not a fantasy novel, but the summary about flower shops and historical inequality seemed so soft, but powerful to me that I wanted to give it a shot.

Gods of Jade and Shadow: Much like Spin the Dawn I got this as an ARC from Netgalley and I just fell in love with it. If you’re interested in some Mayan mythology and some ideas that make you think you’ll fall in love with this book as much as I did.

Kings, Queens, and In-betweens: I tried to get this as an ARC on Netgalley, but unfortunately didn’t get access to it. This seems like the best type of story that anyone whose different might be interested in reading. It seems to be about finding yourself, but without the limitations of labels or expectations.

The Candle and the Flame: I wanted this book if nothing for its beautiful cover, but I kinda lost track of it until I saw it in the bookstore. I’ve always been interested in the silk road and if you’re going to add a fantasy element I can’t wait to see how it reads.

Nocturna: I really hadn’t heard of this story anywhere, but I saw it in the bookstore and it caught my interest. Gods of Jade and Shadow definitely peaked my interest in Latinx-inspired stories and I’m excited to give this story a read.

The Wise Man’s Fear: There is probably going to be zero diversity in this novel, but it’s a continuation of a book I’ve already read and really enjoyed. The storytelling and world building is just phenomenal.


My Netgalley E-books

Blood of the Pack: I can’t really recommend this book. I struggled to get through it, but if you’re intrigued, but lesbian werewolves you may want to check it out.

Wildflowers: Allaha of the Mountain: The summary sounded interesting and it was lgbtqa, but I’m struggling to remain interested.


Have you read any of these book? What do you think? What books have been in your recent book hauls?

Uncategorized

ARC Review- Blood of the Pack aka lesbian werewolves

Overall enjoyment: 2.5/5

Characterization: 2/5

Overall worldbuilding: 3/5

Diversity: 3/5

I was given a free advance copy of this book through Netgalley in return for an honest review. This book will be released on August 13th.

I wanted desperately to like this book more than I did. Lesbian werewolves?! I was so excited. I was pumped. I became very frustrated very quickly. First, I didn’t realize that this was part of a series. My fault I didn’t do the research and so some things were confusing but may have been explained in previous books of the series. This is book three. Some confusion though was not what truly frustrated me so much as the missed potential of this book. The premise of the book and most of the major plot points were amazing ideas! I could have easily fallen in love with this book if not for the writing style. Now, that may sound petty, but listen. Every problem that arose in this book was solved in what felt like five pages or less. Any part of the book that could have been a secret or big reveal to other characters was somehow discovered through the random senses of the characters. It made me want to scream.

The characters of this book were pretty lackluster. They had potential. A female alpha paired with a woman who has been abused by alphas? There was a lot of potential for long conversation, dates, mutual respect and honest. Beautiful character development. Did we get that? Nope, we got instant feelings and wolf senses. I’m not opposed to wolf senses. That’s one of parts of werewolf stories that I enjoy, but senses were used to replace any meaningful conversation and compromises.  

Worldbuilding: It seems to be set in modern times, but there was definitely an attempt to develop a history and culture. There was mention older wolf packs and battles. Kenrick had different bracelets that represented different things. I appreciated the attempt though I still felt a bit off put at time about the dominant and submissive roles. There may have been what I felt like a sexist line or two in there.

Diversity. This story had at least a bit of diversity. There are obviously lesbian women in this book which is refreshing for a change. There are hints that Zaria is a woman of color. There may also be a transgender character? I’m not quite sure if that’s the case or there is some added female alpha wolf anatomy happening.

Overall, if you don’t mind insta-feelings stories where the romance is mostly the focus you could enjoy this story. If you’re looking for something more in-depth with lots of fantasy action and a more slow build relationship this book is NOT for you. I wanted to like this book. I was so very excited about it, but it was just frustrating to read.


Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? What do you think?

ARC

ARC Review- Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Overall enjoyment: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 3/5

Note: A free copy of this book was given to me through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book will be officially released on July 23, 2019.

When I first requested to read this book through Netgalley I thought it was a present-day retelling. Not the case, this novel is set in the 1920s. It’s not a bad thing, but just something I thought might be of interest for others to know. I really enjoyed this story. I love most mythology themed novels, but this one dug deep and asked us to really consider what it means to be human and what it might mean to be a god.

The characters, as always for me, were a huge selling point. I think the author did a fantastic job of making her characters dynamic. There was no all good or all bad. I really vibed a lot with what Casiopea was feeling as a young woman and I think that really endeared her to me. She’s got a temper, but in this case, it was to her benefit. Then, Hun-KamÉ, honestly, he was probably my favorite. I loved the exploration between godhood and humanity that Moreno-Garcia did with him. While I love stories wrapped in myth I’m also very picky how gods are portrayed. This was a representation I really enjoyed.

World building was minor in that it was 1920s Earth, but the mythology and how it would interact with the world today was beautifully done. It was seamlessly woven. I feel like I learned a lot about certain parts of Mayan mythology.

Diversity. This was based purely on Hispanic/Mayan characters. Casiopea was also our main character. So, double points for having a woman of color as the protagonist!

Overall, if you enjoy the modernization of old gods I’d say you will definitely enjoy this book. Also, if that isn’t your cup of tea, but you enjoy a book that gives you some little bits to think over then you could still very much enjoy this book. It’s deeper than what you first might expect. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for its release this July!

ARC

ARC Review- Spin the Dawn by Eliabeth Lim

Overall enjoyment: 4/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 5/5

Diversity: 3/5

Note: A free copy of this book was given to me through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review

This book really surprised me. From reading the summary I thought it was going to basically be Mulan, but instead of being a solider she’d be a tailor. Spinning the Dawn is so much more than that! It does start out with a very Mulan feel in the beginning, but I love Mulan so that wasn’t a big deal to me. But, then the story expanded and we got into some nice lore of the world. I was completely sucked in for all, but a small portion of this book.

Now, lets talk about the characters. Mainly Maia and Edan. Maia is our Mulan, a strong, skilled woman who has big dreams that are limited by her gender. I really enjoyed reading her she’s strong and willing to work very hard for what she wants. The only thing that really was a downside of her was that she really didn’t seem to have a flaw. She had moments of weakness and being a woman in this story made things difficult for her, but otherwise I didn’t really pick up on a flaw. Edan, is charming. I was a bit suspicious of him and I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but I really enjoyed his character. He’s where there’s a lot of cool backstory. He also doesn’t have to seem to really have a flaw. Other than the lack of even a small character flaw in my opinion I really enjoy these characters.

World building. I loved the bits of lore that this book gave us. There are obviously a variety of beliefs and stories. They’re so well written that I really enjoyed how they twined into the story. There’s some other little things with world building like different currency and whatnot, but I’m in it for the lore.

This book has diversity in that it is based around a woman of color based in a world that seems to be based to my understanding on China.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and got more out of it that I originally anticipated. If you enjoyed Mulan or just a good fantasy read I would encourage you to purchase this book when it is released on July 9th.

Reviews

A Review- A Faire Encounter By A.M Valenza

Overall Enjoyment: 2.5/5

Characterization: 5/5

World building: 2/5

Diversity: 5/5

Goodreads Summary: Elena is working the Renaissance Faire with her cousin Luís when she spots the Cutest Girl Ever, a yawning, shivering, chubby little thing dressed up in a dragon onesie. The only problem is getting her attention. She comes up with a plan: impress that adorable dragon girl at all costs. A little magic wouldn’t hurt either.

Review

I picked up this book because it was set at a ren faire. I love renaissance faires. I think they’re so fun and nerdy. I enjoyed the beginning of this book, but the more I read the more it just became a little too silly for me.

The best thing about this book was the characterization. Ines was a shy, asexual who got pulled into the whirl wind known as Elena. While I enjoyed Ines, Elena was too much for me to enjoy. She was supposed to be at least an older teenager, but she responded like someone much younger than that and I found that very disappointing. Each of these characters had very distinct voices though and I did really enjoy that.

The world building in this story was fairly minor. As I mentioned before it is set at a renaissance faire with the surprise that witches are real. There’s very little explanation about the witchcraft other than its normal to be happening at the faire.

Diversity is where this novel also really shines. There’s representation for some different sexual orientation, diabetes, mutism, etc. While I appreciated it I also felt like it was a little bit of fan service. The story was short enough and I felt like while we met a diverse cast we really just got a snapshot of them before moving on. I always find that a bit unsatisfying, but it wouldn’t be any different with any other minor character in a relatively short novel.

Overall, I wasn’t satisfied. There are such few f/f novels that I find that I want them to all be magnificent to encourage more people to read and enjoy them. This novel was light, fluffy and if you don’t mind crazy characters you could enjoy this story. If you’re looking for something deeper you’re going to be disappointed.

lists, Uncategorized

Five Fantastic LGBTQ+ Authors You Should Read

So, it’s pride month and I thought it would be a great time to post about my favorite LGBTQ+ authors. We get a lot of straight people writing these stories and while I’m not opposed to that idea if the story is well written I think members of the community really deserve their time to shine. I must admit this is also a very limited list. I’ve only read a limited amount of #ownvoices lgbtq+ fiction, but that doesn’t make these authors any less fantastic.

  1. TJ Klune: a phenomenal author. I would say he has a great range of writing with numerous published novels. I really couldn’t recommend him enough. I especially enjoy his fantasy work. You can check him out here.


2. Victoria Lee: A newly published author, but I really enjoyed her first novel, Fever King. You can find her here.


3. Kayla Ancrum: This woman doesn’t play. Her book ,The Wicker King, takes a serious look at the effects mental illness can have on someone. Very friendly and willing to talk with fans. You can find her here.


4. Natasha Ngan: All I can say is that Girls of Paper and Fire is still my favorite f/f novel. It was really the first one that I could really connect with. Check out here twitter.


5. Amy Rose Capetta: She has written numerous books as well. I’m especially excited to read Once & Future. You can check her out here.


Have you heard of any of these authors? Do you have any new authors to recommend? I’d love to read more LGBTQ+ authors.