Top Ten Tuesday: Five Blogs I’ve Followed the Longest and Five I’ve Recently Followed

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “Favorite Book Blogs/Bookish Websites.” I’ve come across far too many nice, talented, and amazing bloggers to ever be able to choose only ten that are my favorite, so instead I’m listing five blogs I’ve followed the longest and five I just recently followed. Be sure to check out their blogs!

The Veterans:

Even though I haven’t met any of these ladies in person, I feel a strong kinship with them because it feels like we’ve been a part of the same community for so long.

1. Rachel @ Confessions of a Book Geek – Rachel and I have been blogging for about the same amount of time and although we don’t read a lot of the same books, I still feel like we mesh well together. She’s currently taking a break from blogging, but be sure to be on the lookout for her return.

2. Cristina @ Girl in the Pages – I believe Cristina and I also started blogging around the same time. I always enjoy her reviews and can always count on her honest opinion.

3. Lipsyy @ Lipsyy Lost & Found – When I think of Lipsyy, I think of Halloween. October is a special time on both our blogs. There aren’t a ton of blogs that devote a lot of time to the horror genre, so I love having her on my reader when October comes around.

4. Holly @ Nut Free Nerd – Holly is one of the most insightful bloggers I follow. If you’re looking to follow someone who is really smart and articulate, follow Holly.

5. Stephanie @ Stephanie’s Book Reviews – Stephanie and I don’t always read the same books, but when we do, we usually agree on them. Also, I just found out we both ship Bellarke pretty hard and I could use some support in that arena.

The Newbies:

I just started following these bloggers recently and am really looking forward to getting to know them more.

6. Wendy @ whatthelog – My first impression of Wendy is that she’s incredibly open. I really admire her for it. She does a very neat thing on her blog where she showcases diverse bloggers which is pretty awesome too.

7. LaRonda @ Flying Paperbacks – I came across LaRonda’s blog thanks to the Comment Challenge. As a cohost, I get introduced to a variety of bloggers and sometimes I come across one that I’m not partnered with, but whom I want to know more, so I follow. That’s what happened here.

8. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer – Dani has such a wide variety of posts on her blog. I’m always so impressed and have enjoyed the interactions we’ve had.

9. Carolina @ Fictionologyst – I’ve only been following Carolina for about a month, but I already feel like we’ve got a really good rapport. She’s got excellent taste in books and music (my TBR and music library have both increased thanks to her).

10. Aimee @ Aimee, Always – Aimee is the last blogger I followed and I don’t know too much about her, but she does have some excellent taste in books and a great selection of posts.

Do you still follow the same blogs from when you first became a blogger? How do you decide who to follow? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

Giveaway Alert: I am giving away my ARC of Seafire by Natalie C. Parker. I recently just finished it and loved it. I already preordered the novel when I received this ARC, so I’m hoping this copy makes someone else happy. This is a Twitter giveaway, click on the image to be directed to my tweet. Ends 8/16. US only.

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Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Title: Saints and Misfits
Author: S.K. Ali
Series: N/A
Pages: 325
Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 13th 2017

      “There are three kinds of people in my world:
      1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose.
      2. Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me—the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad.
      Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds.
      But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right?
      3. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories.
      Like the monster at my mosque.
      People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask
      Except me.”

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“I wish there was a way to still my heart. It feels like it’s not mine and wants out of my body. I seal it shut with another shrug.”

S.K. Ali’s Saints and Misfits follows fifteen-year-old Janna as she deals with the aftermath of being sexually assaulted. Janna’s dealing with her first crush on a non-Muslim, navigating a world that isn’t always accepting of a hijabi, and doing her best to find a way to be herself when this huge, traumatic thing is weighing down on her shoulders. Keeping this secret isn’t easy and with her older brother moving back home, forcing her to share a room with her mother, her life grows even more stressful. The end of the year is fast approaching and while final exams should be the only thing she’s stressing about, Janna is juggling her parents’ expectations and being pulled in different directions by her friends. The guilt she’s been carrying around for something that isn’t her fault is slowly chipping away at her, and it isn’t easy to let that guilt go when the person who attempted to rape her walks around like nothing happened.

Ali does a masterful job of dealing with heavy issues in her novel, but also being very aware of who her character is at only fifteen. Janna is an easy character to related to and like. She has a subtle sense of humor that I appreciated and I more than once snorted aloud while reading. There is a constant stream of voices whispering to her what they think and in the midst of all that noise, Janna is just trying to figure out what’s right for her. This isn’t always easy when contrary opinions are coming from people she loves. Janna doesn’t want to disappoint anyone, but it’s what inevitably happens, especially when her divorced parents hold such differing views of her faith and how she chooses to express it. I loved the strong sense of community Janna’s faith provided. She’s very involved with her local mosque which is lead by her uncle. Everyone is very caring and supportive and they felt like an extension of her own family. But for Janna, this puts her in an impossible situation because the person who assaulted her is a valuable member of this community. She’s got that doubt in the back of her mind that if she does speak up, not everyone is going to believe her. Every compliment directed at her assaulter, every time someone tries to talk him up to her is like a knife to the gut. This coupled with her inability to avoid him completely makes the book utterly heartbreaking to read at times.

I empathized with Janna so much when she felt she couldn’t open up to Tats, one of her non-Muslim friends, because of the added pressure of being from a marginalized community. She knows that anything she says negatively about someone in her community can be attributed to everyone. The outside world does not judge you as individuals, but as a group. I loved Janna’s relationship with her brother Muhammad because it felt so authentic. Getting on each other’s nerves, feeling loyal to one parent over the other and having this cause division between the two felt very real. There’s a little resentment when it comes to which parent is playing favorites with whom as well. I loved what Ali did with the romance portion of Janna’s story. I felt her butterflies and anxiousness when it came to her crush, but ultimately appreciated the more subtle development of Janna’ relationship with someone else. It was unexpected and yet felt so right. I loved the pacing of this relationship and how it was rooted in respect and I kind of wish we got a glimpse of what comes of it down the line.

S.K. Ali’s debut Saints and Misfits will make you laugh and cry, it will make you angry and happy, and at the end of the day, you’ll be forever grateful you read it.

5/5

★★★★★

Top Ten Tuesday: Five Book Mash-Ups I’d Like to See

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “Books You’d Mash Together.” I love this topic so much. There are so many books where I would love it if the characters could meet or if certain characters could end up in a different world. Here are five mash ups I wouldn’t mind seeing and reading about. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

*Please note that I’m currently on hiatus and won’t be responding to comments until I come back this Sunday*

1. Zoraida Córdova’s Labyrinth Lost and Lily Anderson’s Undead Girl Gang – I can’t be the only one who’s imagined these Latina witches hanging out together. Not only could Mila and the Mortiz sisters talk magic and spells, they could bond over that time they both brought someone back from the dead.

2. Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows and Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince – One thing I really liked about The Cruel Prince is how ruthless Jude has to be in order to survive the fairy world and it got me thinking, there are not a lot of people who could do the things she did. Then it hit me, what if Kaz and company found themselves in this same world. Could they be ruthless and cunning enough to outwit fairies? My brain says yes and it would be a whole lot of fun to read.

3. Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch and Robin LaFever’s Grave Mercy – It is my firm belief that Truthwitch‘s Safi and Iseult would make a perfect fit in Grave Mercy‘s nunnery for assassins. Think of all the bad guys that could be expelled with their magical powers.

4. Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Maurene Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love – I truly believe in my heart of hearts that if Lara Jean and Desi really existed, they would be really good friends. I see so much of my younger self in these two characters and experienced so much second-hand embarrassment while reading their stories. I have no doubt these two would end up getting themselves into really hilarious and awkward situations and I’d smile my way through the whole thing.

5. Alison Goodman’s The Dark Days Club and Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas’s These Vicious Masks – I love all the powers those in These Vicious Masks have, but I think I would like it even more if it was combined with the demons that feast on people in The Dark Days Club. Plus, can you imagine the brooding standoffs between Sebastian and Lord Carlston? I can already see Helen and Evelyn rolling their eyes.

Would you like to see any of these mash-ups as well? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

Surprise! It’s Hiatus Time.

So this was completely unplanned. I took a hiatus at the end of March, beginning of April, hoping I wouldn’t need another one until November-ish, but it turns out I’m in dire need of a little break. For the last month and a half I’ve been telling myself to just get through this week, just get through this week and then I’ll have a breather. Said breather hasn’t come to fruition. While blogging itself isn’t the source of the stress I’m feeling, it is something else I need to worry about on top of everything else.

So I’m going to take a week off from blogging starting tomorrow. I have my Top Ten Tuesday post all ready to go for this week, but aside from that, I won’t be posting. I won’t be working on my blog all week and I won’t be responding to comments. I’ll be back next Sunday (August 12th), hopefully a little more well rested and with a review for one of my favorite novels I’ve read this year (Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali). You can still get in contact with me through email or twitter if need be. See you all soon!

ARC Review: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

Title: Star-Touched Stories
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Series: Star-Touched Queen, #2.5
Pages: 304
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: August 7th 2018
*I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway which does not influence my review*

      “Death and Night
      He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.
      Poison and Gold
      Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram’s new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.
      Rose and Sword
      There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth?”

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Roshani Chokshi’s delicious prose and spellbinding storytelling once again shines in her collection Star-Touched Stories. All three short stories in this collection take place in the same world as The Star-Touched Queen duology. While many novellas or short story collections feel unnecessary, reading Chokshi’s selected tales felt like a real treat. We get the backstory to a The Star-Touched Queen in Death and Night, a look at what happens to the vishakanya Aasha from A Crown of Wishes in Poison and Gold, and a short story featuring Gauri and Vikram in Rose and Sword. These stories reminded me just how much I enjoy Chokshi’s writing and renewed my love for her duology.

The first short story in this collection, Death and Night, is lush and romantic. If you ever wanted to know more about Maya’s previous life as the goddess of Night and how she first met the Lord of Death, this is the story for you. The Lord of Death seeks a bride, but a curse spells doom if he falls in love. Night is an enigma to most who meet her. Her existence a lonely one. Though she ushers in night, she does not have the power to create and shape fate with her own hands. Their meeting does not go smoothly as Night has always dreamed of a union based on love and the Dharma Raja is determined to marry without it. The Lord of Death is both amusingly and endearingly clumsy when it comes to trying to court Night. I loved Night’s sharp tongue and that she isn’t easily moved by the Dharma Raja. This was my favorite novella of the three because of how vivid the world felt and how easily I was able to fall back into The Star-Touched Queen universe.

Aasha was such a curious character in A Crown of Wishes. When I was still hoping for another book in this series, I was hoping to get Aasha’s story. I was delighted to discover that Poison and Gold is about Aasha and her journey discovering her place in a new world. As a vishankanya, Aasha is able to kill with a single touch, but she has taken on another role at Gauri and Vikram’s side. But as loyal as her friends may be to her and she to them, there is unrest in both kingdoms as they are set to unite with their two leaders’ marriage. Aasha must earn her place by their side and is sent to the current Spy Mistress for training. Aasha has been struggling to find where she fits in this world of mortals. Their manners can sometimes be unpredictable and Aasha continues to marvel at how easily they lie. Zahril, the current Spy Mistress, isn’t exactly what Aasha expects. She isn’t friendly, but curt and sometimes merciless. Though most would be unsettled by Zahril, Aasha finds her lack of pretense refreshing. Aasha finally finds a place where she can not only be herself, but where her key to success relies on it. When Aasha begins to develop feelings for Zahril, her secret identity as a vishankanya threatens to unravel their new bond. I loved that both of these characters, who have very different reasons for being closed off, get a chance to be vulnerable with the other. While the first story is about love, this one is about the potential for love and how Aasha and Zahril take those first steps to being open to the possibility of love.

The final story in this collection is Rose and Sword. We get a glance at both the past and future of Gauri and Vikram’s relationship. This one was a personal delight as these two characters were my favorite in the The Star-Touched Queen duology. This story is a little darker than the previous two as a character must venture into the underworld and save a loved one from death. This felt like a bittersweet tale for those who always imagined a happily-ever-after for the two leads of A Crown of Wishes. There’s an underlining bitter honesty to this tale where Gauri must confront the fact that her relationship with Vikram will not always be perfect. They are far too different to always get along and too used to getting their own way. She eventually has to choose whether the time she and Vikram have together is worth all the pain that will come when she loses him. I became unexpectedly emotional while reading this one. It’s amazing what Chokshi can still make me feel for characters I met over a year ago.

Star-Touched Stories is just as enchanting as The Star-Touched Queen duology. Chokshi made me fall in love with her writing each time I picked up this collection. If you are a fan of the original duology, this is an excellent short-story collection that will leave you both satisfied and wanting even more tales from this captivating world.

4/5

★★★★

The Friday 56: Peluda

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

Ode to Brown Girls With Bangs

“you have always been a scared little girl.

original copycat, first poseur

check out this towel draped over your neck

get a load of this hair

gathered on the white tile floor—

a bunch of dark girls at the basement show

just started smoking

just stated fucking

just started getting really good

at lying to their mothers.”

I am in love with Melissa Lozado-Oliva’s poetry. I don’t pick up too much of the genre, but when I saw this poet reading from her collection, Peluda, I knew I had to have it for myself. I’m including the YouTube video of her reciting this above poem, so you can see for yourself how amazing she is. Excerpt taken from page 6 as the collection isn’t 56 pages long. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “One of the most original performance poets of her generation, Melissa Lozada-Oliva has captivated crowds across the country and online with her vivid narratives. Humorous and biting, personal and communal, self-deprecating and unapologetically self-loving, peluda (meaning ‘hairy’ or ‘hairy beast’) is the poet at her best. The book explores the relationship between femininity and body hair as well as the intersections of family, class, the immigrant experience, Latina identity, and much more, all through Lozada-Oliva’s unique lens and striking voice. peluda is a powerful testimony on body image and the triumph over taboo.”