BR: Winner’s Curse

I picked up Winner’s Curse very doubtfully. Many of the books I have were gifts. In fact, most of them are gifts from my brother or mother. They were mostly chosen by me through lots of internet searches.

Race and Culture

Since many YA books are under criticism for not being diverse, I was worried about this book. While researching, I found out that there’s tension between two groups of people in these books. Panic.

You see, I am a brown person and I rarely encounter fellow brown people in books (or in general). And, yet, Arin was just complex. He was just some “cute boy.”

No, this is a guy who had a life before being sold into slavery. He has reasons to be mad and to hate his life.

I liked that the Herrani people had their own traditions, like how they bury the dead, while the Valorian people burned them. How they had their own ways of introducing honor and death to their young family members.

This book tried to grapple with race, culture, and politics in such a profound yet simple way.

Fighting and Strategy

From what I recall, many book folk were upset that the books have changed covers. I am one of the unfortunate souls who got the books (first two) in paperback. In other words, I got the crappy covers. However, I understand the idea behind the cover change.

What is really cool is that Kestrel is not helpless. She uses strategy and words to get things to work her way. While she was presented as someone very good at “reading people,” she was ultimately proven wrong because she was rather wrong about Arin.

She was wrong about all Herrani people, by extension.

It’s a stressful idea to realize that there’s two more books and Arin and Kestrel will have to face off again. Multiple times. Not in a cute way. At all.

You know why? Because they’re both sharp and clever. While they’re conflicted, they still think quick on their feet.

Lovin’

These books are about Kestrel and Arin fighting for their people, while battling their own emotions that are frowned upon. No spoilers, but you know, they both like someone they shouldn’t. Forbidden love is not sensationalized so much here; it’s more about finding a human connection.

I am frightened for these characters, because wow they’re both vicious. 

It is nice to see this because I like seeing characters who have values and ethics. You don’t just throw away what you hold most dear because you met someone cute.

Onto the next one, for sure!

OVERALL RATING ***** (FIVE STARS!)

Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

BT: A to Z Book Tag

I was listening to Julie from Pages and Pens do this tag, and I thought to share my answers. This is the A to Z Book Tag!

Let’s go.

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Richelle Meade! If I get things my way, though, it’ll be Robert Jordan by the end of the year, I hope!

Best Sequel

I didn’t really read series that much until last year, so…I would have to say The Dream Thieves by Maggie Steifvater.

Current Read 

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

Drink of Choice While Reading

Water or hot tea.

E-reader or Physical Book 

Physical book, all the way.

Fictional Character You Would Have Dated in High School 

Not applicable. I don’t date.

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance

When the Moon was Ours. I’m in love with it.

Hidden Gem Book

Furthermore! Seriously good.

Important Moment in Reading Life

A few moments shaped my reading life. 1) Discovering Goodreads and book-tube and book-bloggers, 2) Finding vlogbrothers on YouTube, 3) Reading The Hobbit for the first time.

Just Finished

When the Moon Was Ours and The Dream Thieves 

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read

Thrillers, horror, erotica.

Longest Book You’ve Read

Order of the Phoenix (870 pages) 

Major Book Hangover Because Of

I don’t think I have ever experienced this. The closest shock of reading something was The Fault in Our Stars, but I think it’s because I was unwell at the time.

Number of Bookcases You Own

4. 2 big ones, and two little ones. I have two tiny ones, as well, but they’re for self help books.

One Book You’ve Read Multiple Times

Harry Potter series and Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Preferred Place to Read

My bed.

Quote that Gives You Life

“What a slut time is. She screws everybody.” The Fault in Our Stars.  From the same book, “That the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.”

Always.

Reading Regret
  1. Not having read any Sanderson or Rothfuss. 2) Not having read the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy yet (I know, I know!!). 3) The Raven Cycle. (Working on it)
Series You Have Started But Need to Finish

The Raven Cycle. Darker Shade of Magic trilogy. Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy.

Three of Your All-Time Favorite Books

The Fault in Our Stars, Furthermore, Fangirl

Unapologetic Fangirl For

Cassandra Clare.

Very Excited For This Release

Tahereh Mafi’s next release.

Worst Reading Habit

I sometimes procrastinate when it comes to reading. But, I am trying to work on remedying this.

X Marks the Spot–Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Your Latest Book Purchase

Manners and Mutiny and Soulless by Gail Carriger

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

Anything by Maggie Steifvater, especially her Raven Cycle series.

I sound like a broken record, but I am trying to recover from this bout
My incredible friend Ely posted her answers to this Book Personality Challenge a few days
As I watched Marines' video of this tag, I felt that it would be a

BR: When The Moon Was Ours

I read When the Moon was Ours for a readathon today and yesterday. This is a huge deal for me, because I rarely ever manage to read so quickly. It is a good book, a wonderful story. Sam and Miel are precious to me. The writing feels like home, because, like the main characters, I grew up with cultural influences that make me gravitate towards lush stories.

 

Characters

One of the neatest features of this novel is the characters. They all have various facets that make them complicated. Yet, somehow, it was never overwhelming or bothersome.

For instance, the Bonner girls were shrouded in mystery, but they were still human. Not villains. Granted, their intentions were upsetting sometimes, however, my dislike for them stemmed from my love towards Miel and Sam.

Speaking of which, Miel and Sam’s relationship was not simple or reduced to feverish making out sessions. It was love. The honest kind. And, like everything honest, it wavered as both parties dealt with their insecurities.

Tone

My favorite aspect of this novel, aside from characterization, was the tone. It reminded me of fairy tales I grew up with: A thousand and one nights, Aladdin, Sinbad; stories of brown people doing more than just breathing.

I liked the fantastical nature of the tone. There was no hints of sarcasm or cynicism. This is raw, honest, and pure writing. It’s the kind of writing I aim for, really. And, in some way, it felt like seeing a future vision of who I wish I could be as a writer and narrator.

The story is beautiful and eerie at times. It’s dream-like and breathtaking. If you’re struggling with its beginnings, keep on reading. It gets way, way better than you would ever expect.

Importance:

The point of telling stories is sharing. It is all about connections and finding meaningful relationships between audience and writer. Anna-Marie McLemore is super sweet on Twitter, and she was very kind to me when I came out as aro ace. She’d just come out as demi and I felt a strong wave of belonging and acceptance from her.

This certainly echoes in her book. I felt like Sam was very close to me in terms of culture and identity. I am not Pakistani, but I am Arab American, and I get scared of talking about myself much. Through this novel, she suggests that courage and knowing yourself are the same thing. For me, that is life-changing. I rarely am faced with this idea in regards to my identity.

Sam announces that he is a boy, and his mother just says, “Good. It’s important for people to know what they want.” My heart just swelled with affection and belonging, and love. From the image of Miel’s father tearing at the roses that grow from her wrists to make her normal, to Sam being called a girl when he is in fact a boy, through and through, these stories could help those who are marginalized. This is for the kids who are told to conform. This is for us, and from one of us. I love it so much.

Because for some reason, people of color are either hypersexualized or made into sterile clean statues. We’re neither. We are people. And, we have stories that deal with complex things. I definitely feel that this book is important to literature right now. Highly recommend it.

And finally: My rating, I suppose, FIVE STARS! So good.

 

Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

BT: Life Syllabus

Leena Norms and Rowan Ellis posted a video about creating a life syllabus. In it, they discuss lessons that they wish they’d learned in the school of life.

So, I thought I’d create my own life syllabus. I used to be a teacher (albeit a very crappy one. It’s complicated). But, I think this post could serve as an introduction to things I value. Of course, the post is more of a reflection on what matters to me, and not necessarily to everyone else.

Take it all with a grain of salt.

Self-Directed Study
Book –

Fangirl–Rainbow Rowell (to learn about creativity, mental health, education, and relationships) + Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi (also see: identity, bravery, word play, and relationships). There are the obvious ones, Harry Potter series, Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings.  Anything by William Shakespeare is worth checking out.

Film –

Swiss Army Man, Ruby Sparks, What If, Inside Llewyn Davis, Little Miss Sunshine, Amelie, 500 Days of Summer 

Documentary –

Supersize Me (I know. How old school of me!), Forks over Knives, Earthlings 

TV Series –

Community. 

YouTube Channel –

The School of Life,   Rosianna Halse Rojas, and It’s Radish Time  Rowan Ellis   and Leena Norms Obviously, John and Hank Green’s channel is great. I have more, but I’ll contain my enthusiasm.

Misc

“Ode to My Bitch Face”  ,   “Recovering from Failure,”   (Actually, the whole Talking in Circles by Laura Miller is a wonderful series).

Course Work – experiences to have
  1. Failure
  2. Fostering new skills and interests
  3. Therapy for the first time.
  4. Meditation
  5. Deep and frank conversations
  6. Writing your through a prompt or a question/written meditation/epiphanies/revelations
  7. Regular self care rituals
Exam – brace yourself for a situation

Friends moving on or drifting apart, interests changing, questioning social norms in regards to ideologies, beauty, health, identity, relationships, beliefs, self worth, and sexuality.

 

I sound like a broken record, but I am trying to recover from this bout
My incredible friend Ely posted her answers to this Book Personality Challenge a few days
As I watched Marines' video of this tag, I felt that it would be a

To the Stars!

So She Thought

She lived in a shoe-box thinking it a mansion. In her head, she dreamed of being someone else, of being blue-eyed blonde, stick thin and muscly.

Never mind her thick legs. Ignore this frizz like pineapple hair. She promised to erase her wilderness, her half-masked ambition, her enthusiasm. Instead, she would trade it in for a calm, cool, collected caricature to a charismatic clever creature. Shrewd and nonchalant, she would circle those goals, day after day.

Wrong.

Her mind was wrong, but it was made up.

But, she spent her time wishing to be different. Only to realize that she is wasting her glory days gorging and gawking at other brains, other dreams, other beings.

Perhaps, it is less about minding the gaps between her and the rest. More, it is more about feeling the cloth she is working with. Touching the seams and zippers, soothing velvet texture. Throwing it back and jumping off roof tops, cape bellowing behind.

“These are the glory days,” she would whisper to the stars.

 

 

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