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.

    Ali from the Hardback Hoarder channel recorded a video where she answered the
    I was watching Aly from Hardback Hoarder's video on this tag, and I
    While watching Ally's video on this tag, I decided to follow suit. In

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.

 

        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:
  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against

RAT: #BecauseDragonsRAT TBR

 

As I said before, I am going to be participating in readathons as much as I can. So, I read about the Because Dragons readathon. You can find more information right here.  It is a readathon centered on fantasy, and it lasts for a whole week.

Here are the challenges with my TBR.

Reading Challenges:

1. Read a diverse fantasy book. (could be #ownvoices, could be a POC author, could be a diverse cast of characters, or set in a part of the (real) world you are not familiar with)

When the Moon was Ours by Anna Marie McLemore (which is magical realism, not fantasy, I think).
2. Read a fantasy book with a steamy romance.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
3. Read a fantasy book with purple on the cover. (any amount is sufficient)

When the Moon was Ours 

4. Read the next fantasy book in a series. (continue a series or start a new one)

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. I have been “reading” this book for decades. Millions of decades. I need to get on it.
5. Read a fantasy books with dragons in it.

Eon by Alison Goodman

I am hoping to review or at least comment on the books as I go. Hopefully, you have followed me on Goodreads! Link right here.

    Ah, May reading plans are still a mess because of my mental headspace
Photo Credit: Phoebe Dill on Unsplash        This week
I have postponed facing a TBR all weekend. It's Sunday night and I am still

WWU: Feb Weeks 1-2

Rather than doing a giant monthly review, I thought it would be easier to review my work one week at a time. So, here are my first two weeks of February. Check it out, if you’re curious!

FEBRUARY TBR:

Girl of Fire and Thorns–Rae Carson (read) 

The Dream Thieves–Maggie Steifvater  (read) 

A Darker Shade of Magic–V.E. Schwab (currently reading)

Revenge and the Wild–Michelle Modesto (read!)

Half-baked attempts: On Writing by Stephen King  (currently reading)

Extra Credit: Cinder (Marissa Meyer) and The Wrath and the Dawn (Renee Ahdieh) (Nope. Not even starting these two yet. Maybe I should) 

GOALS:

-Get halfway through my novel  (I’m laughing and crying at this goal. I am nowhere near this benchmark. In fact, I have not looked at my novel over the past two weeks of February. I am hoping to pick up where I left off, though).  

-Start exercising daily (walks maybe?)
(Another laughable goal, because I have not been able to focus on exercising. For the most part, I have been sedentary and stationary. Just sitting. Maybe I can try to do smaller increments of physical movement so I can get those minutes in. I’ll try. Will report back). 

-Photography
(In my head, I want to be posting pictures every day on Instagram. This has not happened yet. However, I will say that I am exploring photography more by looking at what other people take pictures of, and the manner in which they do so). 

-Read and journal every day

(I have mostly been able to keep up with reading every day. But, writing in my journal was not a priority, unfortunately. I’d rather focus more on meditation. Will tweak that goal). 

-Integrate creative writing into the blog/Twitter

(Nope. I have written one “creative” post but that was it. I have been drafting another one, though). 

 

      May Week 3's wrap up is coming with a heavy dose of
  May 2018 is proving to be tumultuous in terms of reviews. Week 2 of
    This week, my immune system hollered a "peace out!" claim and this rude

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.

 

    Ali from the Hardback Hoarder channel recorded a video where she answered the
    I was watching Aly from Hardback Hoarder's video on this tag, and I
    While watching Ally's video on this tag, I decided to follow suit. In

RAT: Bookentine 2017 TBR

I am going to participate in Bookentine to encourage reading more throughout this month. Bookentine is a readathon with three challenges. It was created by Ely and Michelle over at Tea and Titles.

Challenge 1: Read a book with red and/or pink on the cover

There are a few options for this challenge.

  1. Crown of Embers which is the second book in the A Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy (Yes, I finally finished the first one!)
  2. The Dream Thieves 
  3. Wrath and the Dawn

I am tempted to just work on The Dream Thieves for now, because The Raven Boys went by quickly.

Challenge 2: Read a book by an author you haven’t read before,

I am going with V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic to fulfill this challenge’s requirement.

Challenge 3: Read a book featuring mental illness or disability.

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto. I just double checked, and it sounds like the heroine has one arm.

 

Now, there are a few things to keep in mind here:

First, I read at a relatively slow pace. I am not sure I’ll be able to get through all three of these books. But, this will not stop me from trying to read on a daily basis. This is the goal here. I am participating to get myself some motivation to read more frequently.

I am very lucky to have more than one option to read at a time, so I want to get my TBR to be smaller over time. While I am not being too creative with my reading list for this readathon, I am hoping to communicate about what I read as well, to build this blog some more.

Warning: I am starting all these books for the most part. I am a Slytherin, so cheating is not beyond my capacity. Hope that is okay.

If you want, follow me on Goodreads for more on my thoughts as I read these books. Linking my account right here.  Come say hello.

Hope you will participate with us!

 

 

    Ah, May reading plans are still a mess because of my mental headspace
Photo Credit: Phoebe Dill on Unsplash        This week
I have postponed facing a TBR all weekend. It's Sunday night and I am still

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.

 

 

    I figured a change of pace would be a good idea for the
I spend a lot of time online. Perhaps I'm not alone in this, but it
          Welcome back to another Top Ten Tuesday. This week, the

February TBR and Goals

I didn’t do so well last month with the TBR pile. January was an awful month for me. I struggled to do the basics, because I had a huge change in my life. Hopefully I can manage things better this month. I am trying. You’ll notice some of the same books from last month’s TBR on February’s TBR.

Also: I would like to note that TBRs are a new thing to me, because I normally read whatever I lay eyes on. It is not very effective. Now, I have a nice pile of books next to my bed ready to be read. I am not sure if that is necessary. I mean, maybe you just put them on the shelves nearby. What do you guys with TBRs? Do you set them nearby? Or, do you leave them scattered in the room? Does it matter?

Another problem I am facing is focusing on one books or two at a time. I want to read all the things, all at once. I kind of have a lot of books to go through. *Gestures wildly around her room* If you have any tips, please share them in the comments.

Let’s start!

FEBRUARY TBR:

Girl of Fire and Thorns–Rae Carson

The Dream Thieves–Maggie Steifvater

A Darker Shade of Magic–V.E. Schwab

Revenge and the Wild–Michelle Modesto

Half-baked attempts: On Writing by Stephen King (it’s good! But, my copy is gross)

Extra Credit: Cinder (Marissa Meyer) and The Wrath and the Dawn (Renee Ahdieh)

Goals:

-Get halfway through my novel

-Start exercising daily (walks maybe?)

-Photography

-Read and journal every day

-Integrate creative writing into the blog/Twitter

 

Hope you guys have a brilliant February! Please share your advice, if you have any, below. I am very curious to hear what you think of the books on this list. I am trying to participate in a Feminist Lit February readathon. I’ll link it in this blog entry, right here.

 

    Ah, May reading plans are still a mess because of my mental headspace
Photo Credit: Phoebe Dill on Unsplash        This week
I have postponed facing a TBR all weekend. It's Sunday night and I am still

BR: Colin Fischer

Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz wrote Colin Fischer, a book I found lonesome at the library. In it, they tell the story of a boy called, surprise, Colin Fischer. The story is supposed to be a mystery where Collin tries to unfold who dropped a gun in the middle of some room in the school.

Wait a Minute:

The story made me feel very uncomfortable, because Colin’s mental illness (autism) was alienating for him. I didn’t know much about autism, but there’s a part of me that is unsure of how the book presents the illness.

Spock and Data as role models for Colin. This is the second time I see this so-called “connection” in a book about a disabled character. Is this the only bit of representation out there, though? Why can’t characters relate to other people? Other heroes?

Colin is presented as a detective, but, I feel like this is an escape route rather than showing a life with disability. He is not shown to have any interests, or any friends, or any relationships that extend beyond care-giving. Supposedly, he “thinks a lot,” but the authors do not present any examples of what these thoughts may be. No motivations are associated with him either. All he is focused on is solving this so-called mystery, and it feels disrespectful.

Just a quick Google search shows many accomplished people exist, and they happen to have autism. They do more than float or obsess over the stories of others. And, the fact that this is a young adult or middle grade book makes this portrayal even more damaging.

 

 

Ill-Prepared Schools

 

One of the aspects of the story that rang a disturbing note for me was the school Colin attended. He is bullied and mistreated by teachers, who somehow do not foster a comfortable environment. I am not sure what school allows students to let their phones ring. And, I am also not so sure any teen would drop hundreds of dollars to make a disabled student uncomfortable.

Even more strange was the head-mistress who just…tells Colin he won’t get special treatment for his disability, which is bizarre. I recall having papers telling teachers what I’d need to cope in the classroom as a disabled student (and this was college, I can’t even imagine it being any different in high school).

Furthermore, from what I know, educators are exposed to various information regarding students and how to help them integrate into high school. When I was a tutor, we had day-long seminars and training sessions to, you know, be aware.

Family Dynamics

Sure, maybe his school was not well prepared for disabled students, but it baffles me that his little brother calls him the r word repeatedly. This intense hatred is never further developed or resolved.  Reading this kind of relationships feels isolating to me as a disabled woman. Should my family see me as a burden because my brain is wired differently? Would I not be able to have satisfying relationships with others? While I think it is fine to show that some characters feel this way, I wish the authors somehow challenged the notion through Colin, through his insight and intelligence.

 

Overall

Kind of a cringe worthy experience with this book. I think this is an example of representation not being fulfilling at all. While it is okay to show the problems a disabled person faces, I think its still crucial to show that they are problems. Rather than just facts.

Your Turn:

What is an inaccurate portrayal of a disability that you have encountered? Why and how was it inaccurate? Share your thoughts in comments.

 

        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:
  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against

BR: Every Last Word

The book Every Last Word gets recommended often as a story about obsessive compulsive disorder. I struggled to get into it at first, because Every Last Word is not focused just on OCD. It does more. It made me uncomfortable as I identified with the character, Sam, deeply as the story continued.

Mental Illness as Fluid

One of the enjoyable aspects of the novel is its complex portrayal of mental illness. I have had OCD all my life, and, unlike Sam, I hadn’t been diagnosed as a young teen. In fact, it was not until I was in my mid to late twenties that my therapist diagnosed it.

The author shows some typical OCD habits in Sam’s behavior. From the counting of threes and the obsessive researching, it seems like a classic case of OCD, but then, another disorder is introduced by the final quarter of the book, and it made me so ecstatic.

You see, the book presents Sam as a person, not an illness. When presented with difficult realities, coping mechanisms kick in. On a personal level, I relate to this very much as someone who experiences various psychotic episodes frequently. Not only that, but the book also suggests that disability is not just clear cut boxes to check. There’s more to it than what people normally expect. It’s frustrating and oddly comforting.

Identity

Another fantastic aspect of the novel is its exploration of identity’s relationship with disability. Sam focuses her energy on being “normal,” which speaks volumes about the role society plays into a disabled person’s life. There is a lot of pressure and suppression of feelings because Sam wants to appear “normal.” By extension, being “normal” implies that she is worthy of having friends, having hobbies, having interests, having relationships.

It is very powerful to see this struggle in a book because I thought no one else feels this way. Most disabled people I have met are rather accepting of their life. Not me. I always longed to fit into the mold of normalcy.

As the novel unfolds, Sam learns that her identity is beyond her illnesses. While they are a part of her life, they don’t necessarily hinder her ability to live a fulfilling life.

Disability as Different, but Not Inferior

Her therapist Shrinky Sue tells her of another patient who could see sounds. She talks of how full his life is rather than unpleasant. Sure, it is isolating to be different, but it can also help empower a person.

Sam doesn’t have a full-circle of accepting her disability completely and I found that rather satisfying, because I don’t know if anyone should be “cured” to have growth.

That’s the thing about disability, there’s no end result for recovery. It’s an ongoing process. Sometimes, you’ll fall back into the pit.

        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:
  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against