Friday, October 19, 2018

Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Publication Date: October 16th 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genera: YA, Contemporary
Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ TBD

Synopsis: It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

My Rating
5/5 stars

My Review

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is a breathtaking story about the post-9/11 life of a Muslim Hijabi teen.

Shirin wants nothing more than to be invisible and just get through high school as fast as possible. After the 9/11 attacks, Shirin has had a hard time opening up to her classmates. There is nothing that makes her feel more uncomfortable than the piercing stares and rude questions from her classmates, but what finally did the trick is when two boys attacked her after school and tried to strangle her with her hijab. Now Shirin tries to fade into the background and has put up massive walls around herself, because its better to keep everyone out than to go through that pain again. But when her biology lab partner is determined to learn more about her and actually takes a interest, Shirin can't help but open up a little, and once those walls come down, it is much harder to build them back up.

This story is so precious, I admire the author so much for writing this book because you can definitely tell it hit home for her, and you can see just how much of her soul she poured into this novel. Everything about this story seems so real, from the emotion, to the character development, and even the ending.

Shirin is a wonderful main character. In the beginning of the novel you can tell how hurt she was from her past experiences, but she still had so much strength and determination to be the person that she wanted to be. I loved her from the beginning because she didn't try to be the typical high school girl that dressed and acted like everyone else to try and be friends with everyone, Shirin decided to take her own path and didn't lose out on who she really was. As the story progresses, Shirin goes through tons of character changes, both emotional and physical. As she gets closer to Ocean, she opens up more and more, and even though her brain is telling her not to keep opening up to him, her heart is telling her that its time to let someone in and actually feel love once more. Any girl that has been hurt in the past can definitely relate to Shirin's feelings and how hard it is for her to open up to Ocean. At the same time, Shirin joins the breakdancing team with her brother and her brother's friends to take her mind away from the constant pain of high school and actually do what she loves. Throughout the story, we also get to watch her grow as a dancer, as she masters more moves and becomes more confident with dancing, and her physical appearance.

The pace of the story is absolutely perfect. The book is short enough to read in one or two sittings depending on how much time you have, but trust me when I say that you will not want to put the book down after starting it. I've been going through a bit of a reading slump, and was pleasantly surprised that I couldn't put this book down and ended up finishing it in a day, its just one of those books that's captivating and brings you joy when reading it, so it leaves you wanting more.

I just wanted to talk about the ending quickly. While I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone, I will say that its not your typical happily ever after ending, but this made me like the ending even more. The ending is incredibly realistic, as was the rest of the story, and it fits so perfectly that the character got a happy ending, but not a happily ever after ending, because those are so rare in life and I think books just use them way too much.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end. I loved the characters, the pace and the setting. Tahereh did such an amazing job with the writing, you can really feel the emotion and hard work she put into this novel. I will definitely be forcing my friends to read this novel. I finished it in one go because I could not put it down.

Happy Reading,

Friday, October 5, 2018

Review: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Series: Rule #1
Publication Date: September 11th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genera: YA, Fantasy
Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ TBD

Synopsis: Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she's already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady's maid and scheming her way out of the servants' chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she's done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny... to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut.

My Rating
4/5 stars

My Review
Rule is an absolute wonder! I fell in love with this book right from the beginning. Its perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Three Dark Crowns.

Three girls that have never met, and have nothing in common are brought before the King. The rest of the kingdom doesn't know this yet, but the King is slowly dying and since his son was murdered, he must call on his bastard daughters and train them so that one of them could be his successor. Zofi, Ren and Akeylah are complete opposites, not only in their looks but also in their background and personalities. But when all three girls start receiving threats, and are told to leave the kingdom unless they want their darkest secrets revealed, the sisters decide to stick together and track down the person that wants to get rid of them for good.

This book had such amazing and diverse characters. I absolutely loved them all. The sisters were all is different, yet I truly loved all of them equally. Zofi is definitely the badass warrior, that has a hidden softer side. Akeylah is a shy and kind girl, but throughout the novel she definitely opens up and explores her more passionate side. Ren is a great leader, she's cunning and is able to make amazing connections with people. All three sisters have their strengths and weaknesses, but it honestly made them even more likeable. I absolutely loved the part of the story when all three of them started working together.

The world that Ellen created is absolutely fantastic. The world is really creative and there are so many details that Ellen put into the story about the setting and each part of the kingdom, I am truly amazed at how well this world came together. Having said that, I was slightly confused about the layout of the land, so I think if a map of the world was included in the beginning of the novel then it would have just made the experience even better.

The plot was also very well written. There is action right from the beginning as the sisters are taken in to the palace, and it continues throughout the whole novel. The climax was also very well written and very engaging. The only comment I would make is that this story was slightly predictable, you could tell right away that the three sisters will most likely end up working together, and the person they suspect to be blackmailing them isn't who they think it is, and a bunch of other little things like that. There was only one part of the story that really took me by surprised, and that was right at the end so I wont be telling you guys what it was.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and all the characters in it. I think that if there were some minor changes in this book, it could have been absolutely perfect. I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out, because I can't wait to read what happens next. Ellen Goodlett is definitely going on my automatic read authors list.

Happy Reading,
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