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Retellings I Would Definitely Recommend

Hey, everyone! Since reading A Blade So Black, I really wanted to share more retellings with you all! I find that a good retelling not only shares a story that had a lot of appeal to carry on over to today, but also adds something new and different, building on the story and making it more than it was before. Here are just some of the books I’ve read over the years that I would 100% recommend!

Well, those are my retelling recommendations! Do you have any retellings you’d like to recommend? Feel free to share them in the Comments Section below!

Have a nice day!

–  Sumaya

ARC Review: Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes

Summary

Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. With a best friend who hates her and a dad who’s marrying a yogi she can’t stand, Analee spends most of her time avoiding reality and role-playing as Kiri, the night elf hunter at the center of her favorite online game.

Through Kiri, Analee is able to express everything real-life Analee cannot: her bravery, her strength, her inner warrior. The one thing both Kiri and Analee can’t do, though, is work up the nerve to confess her romantic feelings for Kiri’s partner-in-crime, Xolkar—aka a teen boy named Harris whom Analee has never actually met in person.

So when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous, Analee agrees. Sure, Seb seems kind of obnoxious, but Analee could use some practice connecting with people in real life. In fact, it’d maybe even help her with Harris.

But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the real world. Can Analee figure it all out without losing herself in the process?

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

Hey, everyone! It’s been a while since my last review, but I’m back to talk about Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes! From the moment I read the summary, I knew I had to read this book! Not only does it include online gaming, but it also has that fake relationship I love seeing in YA books! But if you think the book met my expectations, I need to tell you something. It didn’t.

It surpassed them!

First of all, I really loved Analee’s perspective. She was honest and relatable, to the point where you could root for her in almost any given scenario, even when you can admit she’s being unreasonable. I think it’s because I knew where she’s coming from since we’re given access to her internal monologue. While she isn’t as open with everyone else, as a reader, you can see the contrast between her personality when she’s more comfortable with people versus when she isn’t as comfortable. To be honest, I liked how this book tackles social anxiety and how it affects both the socially anxious person and the people around them. The book doesn’t magically cure her in the end just because she starts hanging out with a boy, but it does show Analee’s resolve can overcome her anxiety when she really wants to accomplish something, whether it’s reading in front of children to making a toast at her dad’s wedding.

Additionally, I liked the depiction of connections Analee had in the novel, past and present. You see her older relationships through flashbacks while the newer ones are forming within the novel and become more concrete as the novel progresses. Analee doesn’t shy away from the grief she feels since her mother’s funeral, which is a big part of the novel. It did leave me teary a lot of the time, but I also wanted to read those beautiful moments between her and her mother! You could see similar flashbacks in regards to her father and friend as well since the bonds between them changed drastically within two years. It helped convey the tension between them in the present pretty well.

I could say so much more about the novel, like how it was the first RPG book I loved since Gamer Girl, or how I loved that whole fake-boyfriend ordeal, where it really reminded me of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but I’m going to leave it here for now. If anyone wants to talk about it further, feel free to leave a comment in the section below! Ultimately, I admire how Analee handles things, especially at the end of the novel. It wasn’t the ending I expected, but that’s what made it so great! And for those of you who are interested, Analee, in Real Life comes out on September 18th, 2018!

Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Summary

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

Hey there, fellow readers! Are you excited for the weekend? Thankful that it’s Friday? I hope so! Today, I’m part of blog tour, reviewing Somaiya Daud’s debut, Mirage. I actually heard about this book from Twitter and was totally stoked to hear about a sci-if book with Moroccan roots. I’ve never seen it done before and was really curious as to how it would turn out. Also, I did find it pretty cool that the author has the same name as me! This has honestly never happened to me before! 😀

Firstly, I really liked the two main characters, Amani and Maram. Even though the book is only in Amani’s perspective, you get a real sense of both characters through their interactions with each other. They have this kind of Prince and Pauper relationship that develops over time, affecting how Amani sees Maram and vice versa. Not only does it affect their perspectives of each other, but their own individual growth as well. I honestly preferred reading their conversations over all others, such as the ones Amani has with Idris, Maram’s fiancé. The only thing that would have loved to see from this is if Maram had her own POV, especially at the end. But maybe that’ll happen in the next book!

Secondly, I appreciated the world building that went into this novel. Even within the first few pages, the author paints us a picture of both the world Amani lives in and the past world that was lost long ago. While reading this book, I find it incorporates the struggles of diaspora and refugees as well as the Moroccan roots her novel is based on. There’s a lot of hatred between the Vathek and Andalaan people, boiling to the surface as the novel progresses. It just made me of today’s political climate and how it’s almost interchangeable with the one in Mirage, which is really scary.

But that ending! The ending both strengthens Amani as a character and gives readers an idea of the second book’s plot. I just wish that I had an explanation for spares and where they came from. Again, there might be an explanation for this all in the next few books. Until then, I’m just going to have to speculate on my own, which can be kind of fun, too! 😉

Well, that’s all I have to say about Mirage by Somaiya Daud. It was a pretty good read with an enticing ending that makes me want to read the sequel! And for those of you who don’t know, Mirage comes out on August 28th, 2018! Oh, also, feel free to comment on the book in the section below, or check out some other reviews from this blog tour!

Have a nice day, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Summary

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

Hi, everybody! I’m back with another review. But first, I’d like to apologize to anyone wanting to comment on Monday’s blog post and found that they couldn’t. I didn’t realize the Comments Section was closed until the next day. I love hearing what people think and will make sure to double-check to see if the Comments Section is open.

Anyways, back to today’s review, which is on L.L. McKinney’s debut, A Blade So Black. It starts off with some action, setting the stage for two of the main characters and their dynamic. This relationship between Alice and her mentor, Addison, was one of the main reasons that I liked the book. They cared for one another on a really deep and emotional level. However, readers only get to see the result of spending months together, so who knows? It might have not been the best teacher-student relationship in the beginning. 😄

I also appreciated how the author adapted Alice in Wonderland to fit into her retelling. I honestly loved all the changes she made, and thought that it made the story more enriched and engaging. One of my major hang-ups on retellings is when the retelling could be exactly the same as the story, with the exception of setting or something like that. It’s always nice to see what authors add on to an older story, you know?

The only thing I that I didn’t like when reading the book was that sometimes I’d go from really invested to looking around the room in semi-boredom. Thankfully, the ending was interesting enough to redeem the novel overall, but I doesn’t erase how I fell in and out of reading at times.

Well, that’s all I have to say about A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney today. I liked what it brought to the table as a retelling, even though it had its slow moments. If you have any questions or comments about this book, though, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below! And remember, if you’re interested in reading A Blade So Black, the book comes out on September 25th, 2018!

And as always, thanks for reading everyone!

– Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 43

“It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” is hosted by Kathryn @ Book Date.

Hey there, lovely readers! Another post of “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” coming your way! I haven’t done much reading this past week, mainly because I couldn’t get into any book I read after A Blade So Black!

What I’ve Read Recently:

A Blade So Black

What I’m Planning to Read Next:

 

Well, that’s all for now! You might have noticed that I don’t have a section that states what I’m currently reading. That’s because I’m not reading anything at the moment. 😉 Don’t worry, though! I’ll probably get to reading Analee, in Real Life very soon!

What is everyone else reading this week?

–  Sumaya

Quiet YA Books I’d Recommend

Hi, everybody! Lately, I’ve been thinking about how many books there are in the world. Too many for anyone to read all of them, right? I don’t think I could even read all of this year’s published books if I tried! That’s why I thought I’d write a post dedicated to Quiet YA, young adult novels that are lesser known than the bestsellers that are always recommended everywhere you go. Honestly, I prefer reading Quiet YA in comparison, mainly because it has less hype attached to it. Hype has ruined many a good book for me, so it’s a sweet treat to stumble upon a book that hasn’t been overhyped and find that it’s great, too! Here are just some of the books I’ve read that I would categorize as Quiet YA:

And that’s just some of the Quiet YA I know and loved! How about you? Read any Quiet YA recently? Have any that you’d recommend? Feel free to share in the Comments Section below!

Thanks for reading, everyone!

– Sumaya

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 42

Hey there, fellow readers! It’s time for my weekly post of “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?”, hosted by Kathryn @ Book Date. I’m really excited to get into this week’s readings, especially A Blade So Black!

What I’ve Read Recently:

smothered

What I’m Currently Reading: 

What I’m Planning to Read Next:

Well, that’s all for now! Tune in next week to see if I actually read any of these books! 😀 What is everyone else reading this week?

–  Sumaya

ARC Review: Smothered by Autumn Chilkis

Summary

A humorous debut crossover young adult novel about what happens when entering the “real world” means moving back in with your mother, inspired by actress and celebrity Autumn Chiklis’ real life.

Eloise “Lou” Hansen is graduating from Columbia University summa cum laude, and she’s ready to conquer the world. Just a few minor problems: she has no job, no prospects, and she’s moving back into her childhood bedroom. Lou is grimly determined to stick to a rigorous schedule to get a job and get out of her parents’ house. Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, on the other hand, is ecstatic, and just as determined to keep her at home. Who else will help her hide her latest binge-shopping purchases from her husband, go to SoulCycle with her, and hold her hand during Botox shots?

Smothered is a hilarious roman à clef told via journal entries, text messages, emails, bills, receipts, tweets, doctor’s prescriptions, job applications and rejections, parking tickets, and pug pictures, chronicling the year that Lou moves back home after college. Told from Lou’s point-of-view, Smothered tells the story of two young(ish) women, just trying to get it right, and learning that just because we all grow up doesn’t mean we necessarily have to grow old. (After all, what is Juvaderm for?)

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

Hey, everyone! Another day, another review! Today’s review is on Smothered by Autumn Chilkis. Now, when I first heard about Smothered, I was pretty eager to read it. Not only is it more crossover than YA, it deals with what happens after college, how people attempt to become employed in today’s society, and whatnot. I’ll be honest: that was probably the main reason I wanted to read it. The smothered part was all secondary to me; I just really thought that the content would be relatable. But, in that regard, I was wrong…

First of all, it focused more on her relationship with her mother, which makes sense since the book is called Smothered. These moments were actually pretty funny, and I love how bold Lou’s mother could be at times, especially in comparison to Lou. She’s just trying to help Lou in the best way she knows how, even if it’s not exactly right for Lou. They just have to figure out a new dynamic to their relationship if Lou wants to be treated like an adult.

I also really liked the different formats of communication within the novel – such as emails, texts, Facebook messages – integrated into Lou’s POV. It made for some funny dialogue!

The only thing I didn’t like about the novel was that Lou’s privilege really shows. I think it’s intentional, since the writer has both Lou’s father and her boyfriend call her out, but it sure can be annoying at times. I get it; she’s from an upper-middle class family, living in LA, which probably means she will have a mindset geared towards that privilege and might not even realize it. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t cringe when she describes her hunger level at one point in a juice cleanse equivalent to Africa. Or when her friend Natasha goes to India to study and report about cultural violence against women. Firstly, not everyone in Africa is starving, and the fact that she thinks they are says a lot about her. That’s a whole continent of people! Obviously, there will be people who are struggling and people who aren’t, just like in any other place in the world. Secondly, it doesn’t make sense to me that her friend had to go all the way to India to study cultural violence when she cold have easily gone to a women’s shelter in her city. Maybe there’s some logical explanation for it all and I’m just overreacting. But just reading that one sentence got me ranting about how this all stems from the idea that Western countries are more civilized than Eastern countries, which is a dangerous idea to have. But I should cut this off before I start ranting even more.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Smothered by Autumn Chilkis. While I do appreciate more crossover novels in general and liked the mother-daughter dynamic, I feel as if this book could have benefited from removing assumptions about other cultures. If it’s meant to show how privileged Lou is, then readers can already get a sense of that without perpetuating these dangerous ideas and conceptualizing people in that way.

For those of you who are still interested though, Smothered hits stores this Tuesday, August 7th.

Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Summary

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

Trigger Warning: emotional abuse and molestation 

Hello, fellow readers! It’s been a while, but I’m back with another review, this one being on Sadie by Courtney Summers. While I haven’t read any of Courtney Summer’s other books, as soon as I heard about this one at the latest TeensRead event, I knew I wanted to read it. It’s kind of surprising, since I’m not a huge fan of thrillers, what with me questioning every decision the protagonist makes, but this one seemed different. Possibly because of the podcast element. And I wasn’t wrong.

First of all, I loved the chapters alternating between Sadie’s POV and the podcast transcript. There was just so much story in both. For instance, as one chapter ends, the next POV would carry on seamlessly. The podcast would fill readers in on anything Sadie might have left out in her narration and vice versa. Plus, the storytelling elements for both of these POVs were superb.

Then there were the characters. These were fleshed-out people whose story cannot be contained in a single novel, but the author did an outstanding job in giving readers a glimpse. What I’m trying to say is that the author gives us characters that aren’t good or bad – with the exception of some – but have their own story to tell alongside Sadie’s. And for most of these characters, you feel some level of empathy for them. Especially Sadie. As I’ve said before, a lot of time when I try to read thriller or mystery, I find myself constantly questioning the protagonist and their motivations. Not this time. I understood exactly why Sadie was doing what she was doing and empathized with her throughout the entire novel.

Well, that’s all I have to say about this novel for now. If you’re into true crime podcasts, Macmillan made a fake one for Sadie called The Girls (the name of the podcast in the novel). The first episode is available right now, too! As for the novel, I honestly would recommend this to anyone who likes to read thriller or mystery; it gets you questioning the sad truths about missing girls and how people shouldn’t simply fit them into a stereotype just to make it easier. Fair warning though: the ending will leave you with more questions than answers. And for those of you are interested, Sadie comes out on September 4th, 2018.

Also, after reading Sadie, I plan to read more of Courtney Summer’s novels. If anyone has read one of them and they would like to recommend it, feel free to share the title in the Comments Section below!

Thanks for reading everyone!

– Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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