July 2021 Wrap Up

Hey everyone!! This month, I read 24 new books. 6 less than last month and the same amount I read in May, which is a pretty good accomplishment because I had my academic summer program for four weeks in July. (I hope I did well because it was my last summer.) So far, I’ve read 107 books.Here’s what I read in July and my goals for August, as well as some of my favorite IG posts.

A black and white plaid blazer and skirt set along with a red shirt and an ARC of How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao (only 17 days away!!) and a sword necklace.

Favorite Quote

CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

“Beneath the beat of the sun, all he saw was the starkness of her skin and the sharp cut of her lips. But last night, beneath the glow of the moon, that skin had coaxed and those lips had beckoned. They still do.” – Nasir’s thoughts, pgs 294 to 295

Books I Read (bold = author is new to me, italisized = re-read)

  1. Everthing that Burns by Gita Trelease – started in June
  2. Blackout by Angie Thomas, Dhonielle Clayton, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon, Nic Stone, and Tiffany D. Jackson – FAVORITE
  3. Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield – FAVORITE
  4. Witchshadow by Susan Dennard – Least favorite
  5. The Archer at Dawn by Swati Teerdhala – FAVORITE
  6. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal – FAVORITE
  7. She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan – FAVORITE
  8. Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao – FAVORITE
  9. Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto – FAVORITE
  10. A Chorus Rises by  Bethany C. Morrow – FAVORITE
  11. Every Body Shines edited by Cassandra Newbould
  12. What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka – Least favorite
  13. The Chariot at Dusk by Swati Teerdhala – FAVORITE
  14. Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury – FAVORITE
  15. The Marvelous by Claire Kann
  16. A Universe of Wishes edited by Dhonielle Clayton
  17. Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson – Least favorite
  18. Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney – FAVORITE
  19. Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta – an almost 100% new FAVORITE but some things could be improved
  20. Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson – FAVORITE
  21. Darling by K. Ancrum
  22. Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June
  23. Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma – FAVORITE
  24. XOXO by Axie Oh – FAVORITE
  25. Off the Record by Camryn Garrett – FAVORITE
  26. The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison

Overall, 14/24 books I read were new favorites!! That’s about 60%. I didn’t like Witchshadow because the plot was all over the place and some parts seemed unecessary/there were a lot of POVs. I know this series is very popular, but it just didn’t land for me. And What’s Not to Love seemed so interesting, but I really feel like I want to read more rom-coms with people of color. Xoxo and Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance made up for What’s Not to Love.

I also did a buddy read with @sagarific and @yourlocalbookreader!! It was super fun and you all should definitely follow both of them. We read Iron Widow and it was super engaging and the ending. Oh my gosh.

Finally, if you read five books from this list (cries in I can’t choose but I will for now), read Blood Like Magic, Dial A For Aunties, and The Tiger at Midnight trilogy, and Off the Record, and Rise to the Sun.

August Goals

I hope to read seven books and have my TBR! I also am hoping to finish my e-ARCs of Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong and When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles!! I also got an e-ARC of The Red Palace by June Hur. Furthermore, I hope to post more reels this month.

As for non bookish/slightly bookish goals. . .

  1. I want to finish my commonapp essay. I have a second draft. If anyone else is applying, please message me and I’d love to talk about college. Also, narrow my college list/do more research.
  2. Rewatch some shows.
  3. Relax!!! My academic program was super fun but I also like having unstructured time.
  4. Hangout with friends. Hanging out in person is different than seeing someone through a screen.
  5. Start planning for Model United Nations. It’s my last year and I really hope in person conferences will happen.
  6. Get 10 people to read How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao – it’s one of my favorites of this year!!

My Favorite Posts of July

What did you do in July?

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan – The Journey of A Character Who Isn’t Afraid to Take It All

Wow. I don’t think I’ve been as immersed in or as satisfied by a fantasy book as I was by She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. It’s so easy to get into Zhu’s head and to understand what Zhu is thinking – in fact, while I usually tend to focus on how fast the plot is, this time, the part of the book that made me feel engaged was Zhu. NOTE: There will be spoiler-y quotes after the review, so if you don’t want to accidentally see any spoilers JUST read the review. I will mark the quotes section in bold. Also, quotes ARE TAKEN FROM THE ARC – I will edit this when I read a finished copy. The fact that I received a copy from the publisher and Netgalley did not influence my review.

Zhu, who is genderqueer, takes the place of Zhu’s dead brother. Zhu takes no prisoners, and really sets out to conquer the destiny that was originally meant for Chongba. I love seeing main characters who aren’t afraid to take what they desire/their destiny, and Parker-Chan really made me feel like I was able to see all of Zhu’s actions.

Obviously, the world building is fantastic – I love the fantasy elements as well as the fact that most of the violence takes place off page. I felt like SWBTS focused more on the political intrigue, which I always enjoy. Additionally, Zhu’s development from child to adult felt very well paced – I never felt like I was being rushed in the story to get to the next moment.

I do have to admit that I think some of the plot went over my head just because it’s summer, so my mind is pretty much devoted to my summer program right now, so I will definitely have to re-read SWBTS and will edit this review again at some point. Just know that as someone who’s just starting to get into adult fantasy (I think I’ve only read three: The Stars are Legion, The Poppy War trilogy, and The Wolf of Oren-Yaro), this book continues my streak of books that I could read over and over again. Overall, She Who Became the Sun is a beautiful and powerful story that I fell in love with, and I hope you all read it!

SPOILERS: Favorite quotes section

You may have ended this, but you haven’t ended me, she thought fiercely at him, and felt the truth of it shining inside her so brightly that it seemed capable of igniting anything it touched. Nobody will ever end me. I’ll be so great that no one will be able to touch me, or come near me, for fear of becoming nothing.

The eunuch showed no sign of having felt any of her thoughts. He turned his back on the monks and passed through the doors, the ceaseless flow of his incoming soldiers parting around him like a stream around a rock.

He said to them, “Burn it to the ground.”

““I suppose you’ll have little enough chance, whatever I do,” Chen mused. “But I find myself moved to improve your odds. I’ve instructed Commander Wu to give you five hundred men before your departure. How many will you have then, seven hundred or so?” His laugh was like a slab of meat hitting the butcher’s block. “Seven hundred men against a city! I wouldn’t try it myself. But let me do what I can for you afterward: if you do manage to win Lu, I’ll convince the Prime Minister to let you keep whatever you’ve taken from it. Then you’ll have enough funds for your new temple.” His black eyes glittered. “Or for whatever else you’d like to do.””

“All that means is we have to make this life count.” He stared at her. She saw the moment the relief kindled in him, of having found her again to follow. The shadows on his face were already breaking apart. Through the cracks she saw the boy in him again. He said, wonderingly, “Who did you become, when we were apart?” She smiled. “The person I was always supposed to be.”

“Zhu felt a stab of uncharacteristic pity. Not-wanting is a desire too; it yields suffering just as much as wanting.”

“After a long pause Ma said, low, “I cherish you.” Zhu smiled at her. “I don’t even know who I am. General Ouyang killed Zhu Chongba, but I’m not the person I was born as, either. How can you know who you’re cherishing?” Rain drummed on the thatched roof. The mushroom smell of wet straw pressed around them with the intimacy of another’s warm body under the blankets. “I might not know your name,” Ma said, taking Zhu’s hand. “But I know who you are.”

“You never realized that it wasn’t your name they were going to call, exhorting you to reign for ten thousand years.” As the Prime Minister fell facedown in the dirt, she said, “It was mine.”

“She didn’t just want greatness. She wanted the world. The breath she took felt like joy. Smiling with the thrill of it, she said, “I’m going to be the Emperor.”

“Behold me as Zhu Yuanzhang , the Radiant King.”

Have you read She Who Became the Sun?

Review: Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua

No matter what, I think fantasy will always be my favorite genre. One book that I anticipated for a while, even before the cover was revealed, was Sisters of the Snake, an Indian inspired fantasy where the main characters switch places. I was very grateful to be on the street team for SOTS and was on #TeamRani (Rani is the princess). Sisters of the Snake is written by Sarena and Sasha Nanua, and the tagline is: “A lost princess. A desperate switch. A destiny that will shake the world.” Here is my review for SOTS:

DISCLAIMER: I was not influenced by being on the street team and by winning a copy of the book.

Right from the start, I instantly knew I would enjoy both Ria and Rani’s points of views. Both girls are trapped, but in different ways: Ria is forced to be a soldier and Rani is forced to follow her mother and father’s every command. When both are together, it’s great to see their dynamic – it feels very natural.

I liked Rani a bit more because rich princess and palaces!!!! I love that. I also thought the world building was esay to understand/fall into – the writing style of Sarena and Sasha is a good balance of descriptive, emotional, and action. Fantasy books can sometimes be hard to get into/the world building is thrown at you all at once, but this is not the case at all with SOTS.

As for the pacing, it was pretty much perfect. I never felt bored or like I was out of the loop. In the sequel, I would like to see more about the magic of the world and the history. Also, Sarena and Sasha should advocate for a map in the next book. I would recommend this for those who want a fantasy book inspired by a non-Western place, twins who don’t know they are twins, and surprising romances.

Favorite Quote

“For eighteen years, I’ve walked these halls. Cool marble floors, paisley-patterned carpets, and a frosted-glss exterior. Ornate jalis, latticed screens that filter out the hot Abai air.” – Rani, pg 19

Overall, I’m excited for the sequel and recommend this book!

Have you read Sisters of the Snake?

Life Update – 7/10/21

Interestingly, July is going well for me!!! Here’s what’s been going on in my life, including what I’ve read, a peak into my reading journal, and my thoughts as I come up on my third year bookstagram anniversary in December.

Life

I’m a part of a university’s free collegiate scholars program that I’ve been a part of since the summer before my sophomore year and I LOVE my classes this year!! I have four classes and they are all helping me. Two of them are college focused, and one is about the U.S. Census, Identity, and Politics and the other one is about The Politics of Superhero Movies. I don’t know what I’ll write my personal statement about, but I have a few ideas.

I also feel a lot less stressed this summer – I’m hoping to meet up with some of my friends this month and next month, I’m going on a family trip (we are all fully vaccinated) to see colleges in the Western U.S.

Books

I’ve read about 8 books this month.

As for bookstagram, I’m trying not to be on IG as much and I think it’s super beneficial for my mental health. Last July, I posted nearly EVERYDAY. That does not work for me. I’ve also learned not to care as much about what others think (I hope) and I’ve made some really great friends.

I got to go to the library again today (very fortunate to have a great library system in my city) and checked out some books I’m anticipating:

  1. Blood Like Magic by LIselle Sambury – I’ve followed her for a while and can’t wait to read this!!! It is a very long book and I love long fantasy novels. Also, the cover!!! Voya looks amazing.
  2. Renegade Flight by Andrea Tang – I think this is a companion novel to Rebelwing and I remember liking Tang’s writing style and world a lot.
  3. A Universe of Wishes edited by Dhonielle Clayton – love anthologies!!! The cover is so cool and there are many details. I’m most excited for Dhonielle’s, Nic Stone’s, and Anna-Marie McLemore’s stories.

Below is an image of my book tracker in my reading journal:

Missing some information but I’ve read 7 books this month – need to read 9 more books to get to 100.

Bookstagram Anniversary – Less than six months away!

Love this photo my parent took of me!!

I think I’ll have to save up money to do a fun book haul MAYBE. I’m going to college next year, so I’ll probably limit myself to 3-5 books. I already have the Fairyloot edition of Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong preordered, so that might be my gift to myself, lol!

I don’t know where I would be without bookstagram. When I didn’t have many friends irl, bookstagram was there for me. I’m happy to say I follow a few people’s private IG’s and I hope to meet them irl someday.

What should I do for my third year bookstagram anniversary?

June Wrap Up

The past two months, I’ve managed to read over 15 books, compared to only reading four in February! I did finish school this month, so I had a lot more time. 22/30 books were YA contemporaries, which usually take me a day to read, and then fantasy novels (adult and YA) usually take me one to eight days to read. I have not read 30 books in a month in a while, and I don’t know if I want to do it again because I like taking my time while reading. However, the last time I read over 30 books in a month was in August 2019, when I was attempting to read 300 books in that year. In 2020, the most books I read in a month was in July – I read 22 books that month.

Favorite Quotes

This section will include spoilers for: An Ember in the Ashes AND A Torch Against the Night.

“You are full, Laia. Full of life and dark and strength and spirit. You are in our dreams. You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes.That is your destiny.” – Cain, pg 400-401 of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

“Killer! Death himself! Reaper walking! If your sins were blood, child, you would drown in a river of your own making.” – pg 8, A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Books read

Favorites are highlighted in bold, authors who are new to me are italisized.

  1. Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart – started in May
  2. Up All Night edited by Laura Silverman – started in May
  3. These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy – started in May
  4. Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas – started in May
  5. The Serpent’s Curse by Lisa Maxwell – started in May
  6. Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park (ARC from Netgalley) – started in May
  7. Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft
  8. Pumpkin by Julie Murphy
  9. Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
  10. Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi
  11. A Phở Love Story by Loan Le
  12. The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim
  13. Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier
  14. The Silence of Bones by June Hur
  15. Me (Moth) by Amber McBride
  16. Of Princes and Promises by Sandhya Menon
  17. Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa
  18. The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris
  19. That Way Madness Lies edited by Dahlia Adler
  20. Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass
  21. Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua
  22. Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
  23. Fight Like A Girl by Sheena Kamal (from Netgalley)
  24. Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis
  25. Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura
  26. Simone Breaks All the Rules by Debbie Rigaud
  27. The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson
  28. Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi
  29. Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson
  30. Illusionary by Zoraida Córdova

As you can see, I had ten favorites. Illusionary is the sequel to Incendiary, and now Zoraida is officially one of my favorite fantasy YA authors. To my list of favorites, I would like to add The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri and She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan and Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao; however, I haven’t finished these books yet (I also need to write reviews for them since I received all from Netgalley as ARCs).

Instagram Posts

I posted nine times in June, compared to three times in May, five times in April, twice in March, once in February, and seven times in January.

Other Life News

I’m going to the West Coast of the “US” to look @ colleges in August, so that’s fun!! I have to work on my Posse app as well and my Collegiate Scholars Program is starting next Tuesday – my last summer with them! I’m also hoping to receive my copy of The Chariot at Dusk by Swati Teerdhala. I went to an online event with her and Roseanne A. Brown yesterday and would love to see them in person someday!!

In July, I’m hoping to finish IW, SWBTS, TJT, Skyhunter by Marie Lu, Everything That Burns by Gita Trelease, Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood, and Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas.

How was your June?

Where Have I Been: Life Update

Some of my most anticipated books of 2021.

Hello everyone! I am happy to be back (although at the time I’m writing this, I still have two major tests and then I’m done!!). Here’s what I’ve been doing and reading.

Life

I took my AP Lit exam during the second week of May and presented my AP Research project! My project was on Asian American history curriculum in U.S. history classes. If anyone’s interested in seeing my presentation or paper, I’d be happy to share it with you. I’m pretty proud of it considering the fact that I did it all during online school.

I’m also happy because I have a research assistantship this summer! I had one last year as well and I’m excited to put in the work to learn more about what it’s like to have a job. However, I am nervous about starting my college search because I haven’t done that much work yet and only have a vague idea of what type of university I’d like to go to (liberal arts based in a city, near a bookstore, with research opportunities and a well-connected network of alumni so I can get a job after).

I also haven’t seen the majority of my friends in person in over a year, so I really hope I’ll be able to see them in person this summer (still socially distanced). I’m curious to know: would any of you ever want to meet me in person? I’ve always wanted to go to a book convention.

School

It’s actually going well? Being my junior year, it was challenging, but I feel a lot better about taking time for my mental health now than I did before. My teachers did an excellent job of checking in with us and giving us time off. I got to take two dual enrollment math classes. They were pretty fun! I think I like statistics because it’s a lot different from the math I’ve learned in schools; it’s easy to make connections to the real world.

Books

I’m going to be a part of the ChiTeen Lit Fest, a free festival for teens hosted by my city’s library network!! I’m interviewing Kara Jackson, who is the 2018 Youth Poet Laureate of Chicago and the 2019 National Youth Poet Laureate, along with a partner and I’m super grateful for this opportunity. It takes place from May 16 to May 22, and the interview is at 5:15 p.m. CST on Tuesday, May 18.

Link: ChiTeen Lit Fest

I hope any teens reading this will join! I’ve also been reading a lot more lately because I have time. I’ve only bought one book this year, and it’s shifted my mindset around how many books I buy. Not only has the library been a great resource, but also, I’ve been able to devote more time to really enjoying books that I like by reading them slowly. The book I bought is Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart, and I’ve read many positive reviews about it.

I’m also a part of two street teams: the Snake Squad for Sasha and Sarena Nanua’s Sisters of the Snake, coming out on June 15 of this year, and the Sinclair Students for Katie Zhao’s debut young adult novel How We Fall Apart (thanks to Bloomsbury and Katie Zhao for the advanced reader copy). I have some exciting posts that I’m thinking about and hope you all will support these authors.

HOW WE FALL APART  can now be preordered from any major book retailers, including Bookshop, Bloomsbury, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Blackwells, etc.   Bookshop :  https://bit.ly/3lNXWK8     Bloomsbury :  https://bit.ly/3nLgewn    Blackwells : https://bit.ly/32R2K9I   Amazon :  https://amzn.to/2Px9C5L
The How We Fall Apart Preorder Campaign!! Love these character cards.

Finally, my favorite books I’ve read this year out of 35 are Raybearer, Cinderella is Dead, The Ones We’re Meant to Find, Elatsoe, The Infinity Courts, Reaper of Souls, City of the Plague God, The Gilded Ones, Instructions for Dancing, We Free the Stars, The Meet Cute Project, and American Betiya. Some 2021 books I read last year that I recommend are Happily Ever Afters and Wings of Ebony. Reviews of Raybearer, How We Fall Apart, and The Ones We’re Meant to Find, along with more, should be coming this summer, as early as two weeks from now! I’m also planning to write a post for API Heritage Month and a specific post with Filipino authors, because I am Filipino! Thank you for reading!

How are you? What else would you like to see from my blog?

What do I want this blog to be?

One particular post I am super proud of – the first book I ever got sent to me because of publisher because of Shealea @shutupshealea’s Asian Bloggers Directory. Go follow her!!!

Recently, I’ve realized that there is a cycle that I go through on bookstagram that I think started in March 2020: first, I’ll feel really good about what I’m posting. I’ll feel so inspired. Then, the second part of the cycle is me looking at other people’s posts and comparing myself to them. Finally, I’ll start to worry that what I post is not good enough, and that I’m not being aware enough. This causes me to either 1. want to delete my account, or 2. delete Instagram off my phone. Then, the cycle starts again. How do I break the cycle? Here’s how I think I can:

First of all, the past two days, I’ve deleted Instagram off my phone when I start to do homework until my school day ends. This is really helpful because I’m becoming less attached to my phone in the morning. My eyes feel better and there’s more separation between my life outside my phone.

Second of all, I am someone who tends to overanalyze a lot and therefore, this causes me to think people don’t like me. I know this is a very convoluted way of reasoning. For example, if someone responds to a text with a period in their sentence, I’ve worried that they don’t want to talk to me.

Finally, I realized recently that I just wasn’t liking what I was posting, including what I was posting here on the blog. I didn’t like how I was just trying to maintain a certain aesthetic instead of contributing to educating others, and I repeated some of the same questions that I tried to use to talk to my followers. I think some of these feelings might be from me growing up in a competitive schooling environment where I was always second best from sixth to ninth grade. I get jealous of those who are so amazing at writing reviews, but I must realize that it takes time. I also need to accept that it’s ok to feel sad if I do put a lot of work into something and I get no response. I need to let go of relationships that are one-sided. Furthermore, I actually stopped talking about problematic books a while ago, but now, I feel like I should because white authors are still getting away with a lot. I don’t remember the author’s name, but she was harrassing someone who gave her book 4.5 stars on Goodreads.

GOALS

  1. Use my platform effectively.
  2. Create work that I’m proud of.
  3. I’ve seen this phrase many times and I did not come up with it: post with intention.
  4. Recognize that I don’t need to post everyday because my main “job” right now is to finish the school year and to continue researching colleges.
  5. Honestly, this goes for ALL parts of my life: recognize that stress is ok.

Overall, I think I do have to accept that analogy that “there will always be a car ahead of of me on the highway.” I feel like, as a high schooler, I’ve gotten caught up in the mindset that I need to have everything in my life figured out in addition to maintaining a certain image, but that’s not what I want this blog and bookstagram to be about. I wouldn’t want to monetize this hobby right now because my main concern is school, although it would be very cool to get paid to promote the books I love. I still get jealous of those bloggers who’ve been around for the past 5-6 years who have really pretty aesthetics and the perfect layout and sound so smart, while I’m over here with incoherant messes of reviews, which makes me think I’m not working hard enough to be taken seriously or for people to want to be friends with me, but I must recognize that comparing myself to others won’t help me make progress in where I want to be.

Thank you for reading! How are you?

Mini Book Reviews

The cover of Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma. It looks like the girl is in a frame in an art gallery. The girl has light skin and dark brown hair, and she is wearing red glasses. The tagline is Fortune favors the bold. The girl is Chinese American, and her name is Gemma Huang.

I think I’ve written this multiple times: I struggle with writing reviews. However, the only way to get better is to keep practicing. Here are three mini reviews of books that I received ARCs of in 2020. The fact that I received these books from Netgalley/the publishers did not impact my opinions.

Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma

This is the first book in a series called Daughters of the Dynasty. The main character, Gemma Huang, defers her college acceptance at UCLA to follow her dream of becoming an actress. She ends up going to Beijing for her movie. Admittedly, I don’t really remember the storyline because I read this in September 2020, but I do remember the social commentary was a nice element in addition to the main storyline about Gemma and her family.

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

I think this was the first 2021 book I read, and I absolutely loved it! Tessa Johnson loves writing and reading about romance, so when she’s accepted into a creative writing program at an arts school, she accepts. However, she’s unable to find the words she needs to write. Her friend, Caroline, suggests she try to live out the romance that she wants to write about. If you’re looking for a book with a fun and introspective plot, then read Happily Ever Afters.

Overall, I read this book in September of 2020, so I do need to re-read it. I greatly enjoyed the fact that this book is about all types of love: romantic, friend, and self all play a role in this novel.

American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar

This is the very first book I read this year, and it was another read I loved. Recently, I’ve gotten into books that take place during senior year of high school. Rani, who is South Asian American, is going through her senior year of high school. Rani starts to date Oliver, who is white. As a teen, I definitely related to Rani’s journey of learning who she is. This book needs to be read, as I also am learning about my own identity. Please note that this book deals with toxic relationships and fetishization.

What have you recently read? What review advice do you have for me?

Life Update: 3.27.2021

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna.

Hi everyone! I haven’t posted since the beginning of this month. Although I’ve had time, I also haven’t felt like my mind has been in the right place to post. Here’s what’s been happening so far:

School

I am finally on Spring Break!!! This last week was pretty overwhelming and stressful. However, I think one thing that will help me as a I go into the college application process will be keeping a list of my accomplishments. I think some schools no longer need the SAT at all, so I will definitely be looking for some schools like that.

Honestly, the college application process is challenging. There’s applying for the FAFSA, getting letters of recommendation (although I’ve already talked to teachers about this, so that’s set), making sure my college credits are seen (I don’t know if any will be accepted, but getting to experience college level work has been helpful), writing essays, and talking about myself in a meaningful way.

Furthermore, it’s getting challenging to focus in class because I’ve been doing online learning for over a year now. I hope we’ll be back in fourth quarter, but not many students are returning, which makes sense because in where I live, the vaccine isn’t open to people my age yet.

Life

I want to start meditating five to ten minutes a day. Another characteristic of myself that I struggle with is comparing myself to others. I know that there will always be people with more than me, and I have to recognize that I am enough for myself.

Recently, I’ve found out about a really amazing opportunity this summer through the local library, so I am looking into that. In May, I’m going to be a part of a really cool event. It takes place after my exams, so it’s happening at the perfect time.

What I’m Reading – No spoilers

I recently finished The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. It’s definitely one of my favorite books of 2021 because I love the fact that Deka is a part of a group of warrior girls and women. I finished it in two sittings. The commentary on knowing the true history and embracing who you are is my favorite part of this book. I look forward to seeing how Deka’s journey continues in the sequel.

Right now, I’m reading Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron. I sped read this book in 2019, and am now reading it slowly. I love the world building and the relationship between Arrah and Rudjek. In Kingdom of Souls, Arrah is trying to find her magic, as she is the only one in her family of witchdoctors who doesn’t have her own. It’s interesting to see how Arrah begins to question the world and her family, and the way Barron combines her own mythology she’s written with the actions of Arrah’s family is so interesting.

What are you reading right now?

Thoughts I Had While Reading We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal – SPOILERS

We Hunt the Flame and We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal.

Hello everyone!! I am currently reading We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal. I thought it would be fun to do a reaction post of my thoughts and emotions while reading this book. I am taking this idea from Epic Reads: An Ember in the Ashes live read is one example. It was such an honor to be a part of the Zumra, and I’m so happy this book is in the world. Warning: there will be spoilers for the entire book. Again, there will be spoilers. Also, I will be starting from about 12% into this book.

  1. Absoultely devastated that Ummi is dead and Zafira and Lana’s village is destroyed.
  2. Why would the village be attacked?
  3. I wonder how Zafira feels/what her interactions with Nasir will be.
  4. “There was always more to lose.” Nooooo, I really hope there’s a happy ending for the Zumra.
  5. I wonder how Lana will react to the Jawarat.
  6. “I can be lots of fun, Zafira.”
  7. “You seem to have no trouble being the end of me.”
  8. Hafsah Faizal is really good at balancing actions and descriptions. I can’t wait to see more of the Great Library.
  9. “Tears aren’t a measure of heart. We grieve in different ways.”
  10. I like that Zafira and Nasir are having a heart to heart conversation. It’s nice to see them let down their guard now that they’ve journeyed together.
  11. Love seeing Kifah’s interaction with the team.
  12. I’m interested in seeing more of the House of Dreams.
  13. I think Zafira’s relationship with the book is the most intriguing aspect so far.
  14. A vision.
  15. What is happening?!
  16. Maybe the hilya will play a role in Hafsah Faizal’s next series?
  17. This world building is so immersive and immense. I think WFTS will be even better than WHTF. The characters seem to be moving around a lot, which I like. – Chapter 14
  18. Love that Nasir is opening up to friends.
  19. “What was next?” Yeah, what IS NEXT, NASIR?
  20. Kifah and Nasir are not just allies, they are friends.
  21. Also love seeing Zafira and Lana’s relationship.
  22. Nasir is a poet.
  23. So the Lion is Altair’s father.
  24. I really can’t tell what Altair’s fate will be.
  25. Pausing at chapter 17 – 2.24.21. I really like this book so far! I feel like WHTF set up a lot of everything that’s happening now. I like the fact that we’re seeing the characters interact more with the world outside of each other.
  26. How did the Lion get there?
  27. They are definitely pining.
  28. “It was quite something, to be the cause of another’s joy. To be the pride of someone’s eye, if only for a fleeting moment.”
  29. So since Altair and Nasir are related, I wonder when we’ll see Nasir’s powers?
  30. I love Kifah and Zafira’s friendship.
  31. I appreciate that Deem is still mentioned.
  32. Oh my gosh.
  33. I would 100% buy a graphic novel of WHTF and WFTS.
  34. Now I’m really interested in seeing if/how Nasir uses his power.
  35. The world has expanded so much in terms of where Zafira is traveling.
  36. “Already wearing the crown, I see.”
  37. “I’m not either,” Zafira said, looking away with a barely restrained groan.
  38. Already fighting?
  39. Another daama!
  40. Oh no. Zafira shouldn’t have to give up her Baba’s dagger.
  41. Oh my gosh.
  42. Oh my gosh.
  43. So Altair was unifying the kingdom – what will happen at the end to his relationship w/ Nasir?
  44. Zafira.
  45. “He was alone without her, a soul-deep desolation. Drifting in a world where no one really saw him.”
  46. Faizal is one of my all time favorite writers.
  47. “She didn’t think it was possible to stand footsteps away and miss him even more.” I hope Zafira and Nasir talk soon.
  48. Dreamwalk. Interesting.
  49. They’ve found the Lion’s hideout!
  50. An arrow!!!! Noooo!!!
  51. So much is happening.
  52. “. . .her fingers brushed his, warmth tangling for the briefest of moments.”
  53. The tension between Zafira and Nasir.
  54. I hope Altair gets out of there soon.
  55. “She laughed, and his heart leaped at the sound.”
  56. I’m so ready to see this world come to life in the TV adaptation.
  57. I think a book about Altair before WHTF would be interesting.
  58. Ok finally Altair and Nasir are back together.
  59. “and unleashed her arrow, knowing it was her last.” WHAT.
  60. “His compass. His queen. His life.” My heart, oh my gosh.
  61. I do not accept this.
  62. OMG Yasmine and Zafira are reunited!!!!
  63. Love the fact sisters play such an intergral role in this book. Zafira and Lana’s relationship is so great to see.
  64. Zafira and Nasir are reunited!!!!
  65. Chapter 70.
  66. Zafira’s character development and journey is so amazing.
  67. Oh my gosh.
  68. “He bit back a smile at her flustered attempt to act unflustered.”
  69. “Let me be your everything.”
  70. “Sweet snow, this was going to be some journey.”
  71. So much has happened and I don’t want this book to end.
  72. The Silver Witch is back.
  73. “. . .I do love a challenge.”
  74. Hirsi!!!
  75. The Great Library is on fire!!
  76. PART THREE: THE END OF THE BEGINNING.
  77. OH MY GOSH!!!
  78. This Nasir and Altair team-up is one of my favorite parts so far.
  79. Nasir gives his crown to Altair!!!
  80. “Why be one of nine when I can be the one?” Kifah is one of my favorite characters of all time!!!
  81. WHAT.
  82. It’d be interesting to see a story about Qismah.
  83. ZAFIRA IS BACK!!!
  84. “I hear Sarasin is in need of a calipha.”
  85. “And to think, once upon a time, Nasir Ghameq, Caliph of Sarasin and Crown Prince of Arawiya, had wished he could feel nothing at all.”



Oh my gosh. We Free the Stars is my second five star read of 2021. I am so happy with how this duology ended and I now want to go back and re-read it again. I’ll probably be writing a review soon, but here are my top three favorite moments in the meantime: Zafira and Kifah traveling together, Zafira using the Jawarat, and when Zafira comes back at the end.