Review: “Words in Deep Blue” by Cath Crowley

31952703Rating:
5 stars

Love lives between the lines.

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.

Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

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“We are the books we read and the things we love.”

Wow. I am stunned.

From afar, Words in Deep Blue may look like yet another book about anonymous letter writing and people magically finding lost notes but Cath Crowley’s take on this trope was unique and perfect. She turned the concept into a beautiful and heartbreaking story. The book deals with depression, loss of a family member, and grief. But also of hope, love and friendship.

Rachel returns to the city she grew up in about a year after her brother Cal drowned in an accident. She is reacquainted with her old best friends (one of them being Henry, the guy she had a huge crush on) but she hasn’t told anyone her brother. Rachel starts to slowly ease back into the lives of her former friends. She has a lot of memories in the town of her brother and it takes her time to sort them out.

Henry is also in the middle of a family disaster. His girlfriend just dumped him again. And it also seems like his family would be losing their second hand bookstore: Henry’s favorite place in the world. Rachel starts to work at their store once she moves back into town and they start to mend their relationship little by little. I liked both Henry and Rachel and I was rooting for them.

The side characters were all great and never felt one-dimensional. Henry’s family members were all dynamic characters. Did I mention his parents are actually a present part of the plot? I know it’s rare but it happens. I hope we get more parental presence in YA books in the future. Henry’s sister was probably my favorite character. I loved how different the two of them were and yet always looked after each other.

Sometimes I fall in love with characters, sometimes the plot, rarely the setting. But I have to say, if I could live in a book, I would choose this one solely because of the precious book store. The way the bookstore is described is every reader’s dreamland. The idea of the Letter Library especially was brilliant. (The Letter Library is a section of the store dedicated to people leaving letters for each other in the books). I loved reading the letters the characters would write to each other, the little highlighted quotes and passages. Years and years of people’s history on the margins of second hand books is a lovely concept to think about.

“Sometimes science isn’t enough. Sometimes you need the poets.”

I also fell in love with Crowley’s beautiful writing. She puts an emphasis on the power of words in the story and her writing is fully up to par with her theme. The book is just so quotable but never seems like it’s trying too hard.

Because I don’t want this review to have half the book written on it, I will refrain from writing down my favorite quotes (which basically consists of half the book). All in all, Words in Deep Blue made me cry (a lot) and it also made me laugh quite a bit and that’s the best reaction a book can give you.

Have you read this or are planning to?

Diverse Characters Monday #1 – Inej Ghafa

Diverse Characters Mondays tpbg

Diverse books are important and what makes them important stories to tell are the characters they spotlight. And because I always love gushing about my darling diverse characters, I have decided to make it a weekly thing. Diverse Characters Mondays will be my self hosted weekly meme celebrating my favorite diverse characters. Posting memes always help me get out of a blogging slump, especially since I haven’t been posting Diversity Spotlight Thursday posts as frequently anymore.  I’m creating this to get myself to post more frequently with a topic I am interested in.

If you’re not familiar with “diverse” characters (which I’m sure most of you are), they are basically a character who is not a white allocishet able person. Most of the books I’ve read the past year have been diverse books and I will continue to do so because I tend to enjoy them more.

If anyone wants to participate, please feel free to! If you do decide to do this, leave the link to your post down below and I’d love to check it out! Your post can be as long or as short as you like.


Inej Ghafa

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Inej Ghafa
I couldn’t find the source for this aesthetic but I thought it captured Inej very well

Besides, she was the Wraith – the only law that applied to her was gravity, and some days she defied that, too.

What better way to start this off then one of my all time favorite characters: Inej Ghafa from the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo. Inej is a brown (she would be South Asian in our world) acrobat who is kidnapped and sold to a brothel at age fourteen. After her indenture was bought by the Dregs, she becomes a spy for the gang, their “spider”. She becomes one of the most dangerous people in the city, someone who can never be caught again. She came to be known as The Wraith.

Inej is a complex character with her own set of values that she never compromises. In difficult times, she always remembers the lessons her parents have taught her when she was young and takes strength from them.

 But I’ll die on my feet with a knife in my hand.”

Inej is a warrior. She’s brave and strong. Her time in the Menagerie could have dissuaded her from trying to do right but it didn’t. She had to fight to survive but she also knew there were lines you couldn’t cross.

 “No, Kaz,” she’d said, “the trick is in getting back up.” 

Inej is unyielding in her optimism. She looks to her Saints for guidance and strength and she believes in them wholeheartedly. Her faith in her Saints never falter, not even after all the tragic situations she has been through.

(MINOR SPOILERS FOR THE DUOLOGY AHEAD)

 “I will have you without armour, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.”

Inej knows what she deserves and she will not settle for anything less. She knew it wasn’t enough for Kaz to ask her to stay, not if he wasn’t willing to actively try and overcome his past. She also knew it wasn’t her job to fix him, help him yes but not fix him. She respects herself enough to say no until Kaz does his part. She doesn’t lose her sense of self and to me, that’s her greatest trait.

Other honorary points: 

  • Inej and Nina’s friendship is one of those rare awesome female friendships in YA and it’s beautiful
  • Her friendship with Jesper is also great
  • Inej is actually pronounced Inn-ezh? For the longest time I thought it was Inn-edge

DO YOU LOVE INEJ? WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE SIX OF CROWS CHARACTER?

 

Being Shy in the Blogging Community

Shy Blogger

It’s been months since my last discussion post so here it goes.

I started blogging almost three years ago. Wow, it’s been a while. My blog started out in Blogspot and looked very different. For one, I had no idea what I was getting myself into or that it would take so much time or that I would love doing this so much. I also didn’t understand how interactive bloggers and the blogging community is. I thought having an online blog would be less social because it’s the internet and don’t people always say get off the internet and be social? I was so very wrong.

It turned out, blogging is a lot of interaction. And I’ve always been a shy person. My shyness showed up when I was blogging. I would read blog posts but wouldn’t comment on them. I didn’t participate in book clubs or readathons. I sucked (and still do) at social media because I didn’t know where to start. I was a little intimidated by other bloggers, especially if they had a large following [or any following actually. My mind cannot be reasoned with]. And this hurt my own blog because I didn’t have a presence in the community.

It took me two years to start getting the hang of it. To go comment and share blog posts. To actually make social media accounts related to my blog so I can be more involved. It’s still a work in progress, especially on Twitter, where I still find myself refraining from replying to tweets even if I have things to say. I even waited forever to make Netgalley and Edelweiss accounts because the idea of talking about myself felt strange.

I eased myself in, starting with a few blogs where I would comment regularly and expanded from there. Gradually over the past three years, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable commenting and replying to comments. Mostly because every blogger I’ve met thus far have been nothing but kind and welcoming which is the best encouragement I could have gotten.

What about you? Did you immediately get comfortable around other bloggers? Or did you ease yourself in?

Review: “Now I Rise” by Kiersten White

22817331Rating:
5 stars

Warning: The following contains spoilers for the first book in the series And I Darken. 

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

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“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge.
Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”

AHHH I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. This book tore me TO PIECES! I liked the sequel even more than And I Darken.

If there were ever such a thing as a character driven stories, this is IT. Lada, Radu and Mehmed are such complex and imperfect characters that I go from wanting to hug them to wanting to strangle them to death. The main three characters have developed into such distinct personalities it’s a marvel of Kiersten White’s writing. She writes historical characters with a twist that’s fresh yet familiar.

Our Radu, Lada and Mehmed are no longer children, though all three of them still have the same goals in mind. From the first book, we know what they value above all else: Lada will always choose Wallachia, Mehmed will always choose Constantinople and Radu will always choose Mehmed. In Now I Rise we see how their desires play out and how their goals affect their decisions – politically and emotionally.

If I thought I disliked Mehmed in the first book, I downright hated him in this one. He cares about both Dracul siblings but it’s clear he doesn’t care about either one as much as he cares about being the Sultan who expands the Ottomans towards Constantinople. I never understood his desire to conquer Constantinople, his reasoning is questionable and his means to his goal is even more so.

Lada is more brutal and ruthless as ever. Her and her soldiers are parading through the countryside trying to get to Wallachia’s throne. Lada doesn’t know how to get to the throne, she was never one for politics, all she knows is that she wants it. She finds an unlikely ally in the man who killed her father. Lada was my least favorite out of the three in the first book but became my favorite in this one. Lada never pretends to be someone she isn’t, she is fierce and violent and she gets things done with brutal force. After all the mind games Radu and Mehmed were playing in the book, Lada’s chapters felt honest and refreshing.

Radu is getting on my nerves. I understand he’s in love with Mehmed but there should be a line that you know not to cross. His blind devotion to Mehmed annoyed me for most of the book especially since so many innocent people are now suffering because of it.

And yes the main three are great characters but do you know who took me completely by surprise? Nazira. I’m SO GLAD Nazira had such a strong presence in this book because I was dying to learn more about her after And I Darken. She is kind, caring while being strong and sly, and she’s also crazy smart and resourceful. She’s everything I look for in a character.

Cyprian is also a character I quickly became very fond of. He is generous and opened up his home to Radu and Nazira. He basically provides Radu an opportunity to spy on the Ottomans from the heart of their city. Poor Cyprian deserves better.

Have you read this? Or “And I Darken”?

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Mid Year Freak Out Tag

Aww, look at me doing back to back tags! This one is perfect because it’s the middle of the year and am I freaking out about books I haven’t read yet? Yes, I sure am. I was tagged by the great and wonderful Azia @ The Uncharted World. Go check out her blog if you don’t follow her!

1. Best Books You’ve Read So Far in 2017?

Okay, I’ve read some really good books so far this year and there’s no way I’m picking one.

Lord of Shadows and The Shades of Magic trilogy especially I loved to death and I’m still not over the endings.

2. Best Sequel of 2017 So Far

Again, Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare, sequel to Lady Midnight. I will be talking about this book until the next one comes out TWO YEARS later so prepare yourselves (I’ve literally been bringing this up everyday, it’s impressive). I was able to read an early copy of Now I Risethe second book to And I Darkenand that is also fantastic.

3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But You Want To

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Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh. This book has been sitting on my shelf for a month now and I haven’t gotten to it yet but I really want to!

4. Most Anticipated Release of the Second Half of 2017?

After watching Wonder Woman last weekend, I’m even more excited for Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman WarbringerThe last book to the Magnus Chase trilogy comes out in October! And new Marie Lu books are always welcome.

5. Biggest Disappointment

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I know, I know, I wish it wasn’t so. I just couldn’t get into The Dark Prophecy unfortunately. I liked it fine but I didn’t love it, hence the disappointment.

6. Biggest Surprise

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Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley. I’m not big into contemporary and I’ve only recenty started reading more contemporary books. I picked up this one because it was fairly short and I was going through a reading slump and it completely took me by surprise. I read this in one sitting until 3:00 AM and I was sobbing by the time it ended.

7. Favorite New Author (Debut or Author To You)

V.E Schwab and her Shades of Magic trilogy which I am now in love with. I have added all of her books to my TBR and will be making my way through them.

8. Newest Fictional Crush

Well, it is no longer Julian Blackthorn I can tell you that. Kell, Rhy and Alucard from Shades of Magic, I love them all so much!

9. Newest Favorite Character

See question above 🙂 But other than those three, I would say Kamala Khan from the Ms. Marvel comics. She’s a high school student who writes fanfiction, comes from a traditional Muslim family, and then gets super powers? How cool is that?

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10. Book That Made You Cry 

You know, I cry fairly often when reading sad scenes so it’s not unusual.

Lord of Shadows again, are you surprised? And there has never been an Adam Silvera book that doesn’t make me cry.

11. A Book That Made You Happy 

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. ALL THE FLUFF IT’S SO CUTE! Like I said before, this book is basically a Bollywood movie turned YA book and I’m a sucker for Bollywood movies so I was obligated to love this.

12. Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation You’ve Seen This Year

Can I count Wonder Woman? It was so awesome and inspiring, I loved it! It’s my favorite superhero movie now (granted I’ve only seen five).

13. Favorite Review You’ve Written This Year? 

My favorite reviews I write are always the ones that sound like somewhat coherent rants because they always make me laugh when I reread them in a few months. Probably my Lord of Shadows review where I poured my heart out (don’t read it if you haven’t read the book).

14. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought Or Received This Year?

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The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I love the cover of this book and I need to start it soon.

15. What Books Do You Need To Read by the End of the Year?

Oh my gosh, I HAVE SO MANY I AM FREAKING OUT. Okay, I will just name the ones that are already out or I have ARCs of: Vicious by V.E Schwab (currently reading), This Savage Song by V.E Schwab, City of Brass by S.K Ali (so excited for this one!), Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken, And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

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I Tag You

(No pressure as always if you don’t want to do it or have already done it).

Diversity Spotlight Thursday #14

diversity-spotlight

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released.

Continuing the Ramadan theme from my last DSTh, the theme again is Muslim main characters.

~O~o~O~o~O~

A BOOK I HAVE READ

book cover“Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal” by G. Willow Wilson (Author), Adrian Alphona (Artist)

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time. 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Nobles

This is the first Marvel comic I read because a Muslim superhero was too awesome of a thing to pass on. And I loved it! Kamala Khan is adorable and the graphics were very well done.

~O~o~O~o~O~

A BOOK ON MY TBR

book cover“Alif the Unseen” by G. Willow Wilson

In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. He goes by Alif—the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and a convenient handle to hide behind. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and his computer has just been breached by the state’s electronic security force, putting his clients and his own neck on the line. Then it turns out his lover’s new fiancé is the “Hand of God,” as they call the head of state security, and his henchmen come after Alif, driving him underground.

When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death, aided by forces seen and unseen.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Nobles

I had no idea this book existed until I searched the author of Ms. Marvel and the premise sounds great. I’m always looking for books about jinns.

~O~o~O~o~O~

A BOOK RELEASING SOON

book cover“Love Hate & Other Filters” by Samira Ahmed

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a “suitable” Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City–and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she’s only known from afar. There’s the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya’s last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?

Release Date: January 16, 2018

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Nobles

I am SO EXCITED for this to come out!

~O~o~O~o~O~

What’s your favorite book with a Muslim MC?

Burn, Rewrite, Reread: Book Tag

Burn, Rewrite, Reread

It’s been way too long since I’ve done a tag! I was tagged to do the Burn, Rewrite, Reread: Book Tag by the absolutely wonderful Meghan over @ Meghan’s Whimsical Explorations & Reviews back in January (can you tell I’m super punctual?). Go follow her blog if you aren’t already, she’s wonderful!

Rules:

  • Randomly choose 3 books (Tip: Use the “Sort > Random” option on your Goodreads’ Read shelf.).
  • For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread (a lot like Kiss, Marry, Kill).
  • Repeat until you completed three rounds (or six).

Round 1

Oh wow, this round worked out really well.

Reread: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill which remains my favorite time travel book to this day. It’s been a while since I read it though so I don’t know if I’ll like it as much now but something tells me I will.

Rewrite: Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan because that ending was a gigantic mess that I would love to clean up.

Burn: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. Not gonna lie, I binge read these books in sixth grade and adored them at the time but looking back at it, I’m not quite sure why.

Round 2 

OHH NOOO, I love all three of these.

Reread: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys which is my favorite book set during WWII. This book is heart-breaking but also full of hope.

Rewrite: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon mostly because Between Shades of Gray is untouchable. If I rewrote this book, I would just prevent anything bad from happening to Christopher because he’s an angel.

Burn: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. I’m not too sad about this one because it’s my least favorite out of The Mortal Instruments series.

Round 3

This round is also easy enough. It’s like Goodreads knew I was doing this tag.

Reread: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K Rowling, is that even a question? It’s my favorite Harry Potter book and I love everything about it.

Rewrite: A Thousand Nights by E.K Johnson. I liked this book well enough but there were some instances I wasn’t a huge fan of.

Burn: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I never got into this series. I was interested enough to have read the first two books but in the grand scheme of things, I have no qualms about burning it.

I’m only going to do three rounds but this was so much fun!

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I Tag You

I’m going to tag some of my recent followers/people I’ve recently discovered, feel free to disregard this if you’ve done it or don’t want to do it! No pressure!