Review: Misfit in Love

Title: Misfit in Love (Saints and Misfits #2)
Author: S.K. Ali
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook, Paperback arc
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this fun and fresh sequel to Saints and Misfits, Janna hopes her brother’s wedding will be the perfect start to her own summer of love, but attractive new arrivals have her more confused than ever.

Janna Yusuf is so excited for the weekend: her brother Muhammad’s getting married, and she’s reuniting with her mom, whom she’s missed the whole summer.

And Nuah’s arriving for the weekend too.

Sweet, constant Nuah.

The last time she saw him, Janna wasn’t ready to reciprocate his feelings for her. But things are different now. She’s finished high school, ready for college…and ready for Nuah.

It’s time for Janna’s (carefully planned) summer of love to begin—starting right at the wedding.

But it wouldn’t be a wedding if everything went according to plan. Muhammad’s party choices aren’t in line with his fiancée’s taste at all, Janna’s dad is acting strange, and her mom is spending more time with an old friend (and maybe love interest?) than Janna.

And Nuah’s treating her differently.

Just when things couldn’t get more complicated, two newcomers—the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth—have Janna more confused than ever about what her misfit heart really wants.

Janna’s summer of love is turning out to be super crowded and painfully unpredictable.

Review:

Janna Yusuf is busy preparing for her brother, Muhammad’s wedding to Sarah. She’s been staying at her father’s lake house, where they are holding the wedding, so she’s excited to be reunited with her mother for the wedding. Janna is also excited to be reunited with her childhood friend, and crush, Nuah, who she is finally willing to tell that she likes him. However, Nuah treats her differently when she arrives. To add to the wedding drama, Muhammad has made choices for the wedding that his fiancée doesn’t like, Janna’s dad is acting strangely, and her mom has a new male friend who she has brought to the wedding. Add in charming Haytham, Sarah’s cousin, and mysterious Layth, the nephew of her mom’s friend, and Janna has a drama filled wedding weekend!

I was so glad to return to the world of Saints and Misfits! I loved that book when I read it years ago. This story was more light hearted but still dealt with some important issues. Janna discovered that someone close to her was racist and prejudiced. It was disturbing to her to realize this, which others had noticed before. There were a couple of instances of prejudice against someone’s culture. Most of the characters were Muslim, but from different countries and cultures that some others found hard to accept. This wedding was the joining of two people, from different cultures, but that was all that mattered in the end.

Love was a major theme in this wedding story. Love is universal, and doesn’t discriminate against race, nationality, or culture. It was nice to read a story where love was the centre, after a senseless hate-motivated attack on a Muslim family in an Ontario city. I don’t understand how things like that can happen in this world. This story proves that despite our differences, deep down we are all the same. We can all join together in celebrating love, like the wedding of Muhammad and Sarah in this book.

Misfit in Love is the perfect sequel! I hope there will be another book in this series!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

Other books in the series:

Have you read Misfit in Love? What did you think of it?

Review: Gamayun Tales II

Title: Gamayun Tales II
Author: Alexander Utkin
Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Nobrow
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Enter a world of magic and adventure in this stunning series based on traditional Russian folklore.

Alexander Utkin’s Gamayun Tales are fresh and modern adaptations of familiar Slavic folktales, teamed with bold and beautiful illustrations. Jam-packed with stories of magical quests and talking animals, golden chests that turn into palaces and encounters with terrifying Water Spirits, there’s no end to the adventure in these books! Utkin’s striking art style takes inspiration from classic mid-century Disney animation, drawing readers in for a colorful journey even if they have no familiarty with Russian mythology.

Review:

This graphic novel collection tells stories inspired by Russian folklore. Baba Yaga was featured in some of these stories, making deals with the characters traveling through the woods. This collection is a continuation of Gamayun Tales I.

The longest tale in this book was about a dying King who sent his sons to find a cure for him. The King promised to renounce the crown and pass it on to the son who brought him the cure. Each of the sons had a turn to search for the cure, and they encountered many adventures along the way.

I love how interconnected the tales are in these two collections, Gamayun Tales I and II. The stories aren’t told chronologically but they follow certain themes and characters in a way that makes sense. Some tales from the first collection were explained in this one, so it was nice to see the continuation from the first book.

Gamayun Tales II is a fun and beautiful graphic novel!

Thank you Nobrow for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

How to Survive in the North by Luke Healy

Other books in the series:

Have you read Gamayun Tales II? What did you think of it?

Review: Of Princes and Promises (St. Rosetta’s Academy #2)

Title: Of Princes and Promises (St. Rosetta’s Academy #2)
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 8, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi comes the second installment in a brand-new series set an elite boarding school that’s a contemporary spin on fairy tales, this one a delightful, romantic twist on The Frog Prince.

Caterina LaValle is determined to show she’s still the queen of St. Rosetta’s Academy. Sure, her crown may be slightly askew after her ex-boyfriend, Alaric, cheated on her, but she’s a LaValle. She’ll find a way to march right back in there, her hands clutching the strings to the whole puppet show. This time, she’s going to be untouchable.

Rahul Chopra knows that moment he shared with Caterina LaValle at the winter formal meant something. Surely she feels it, too. He’s a little uncertain how someone like him (socially inept to a point way past “adorkable”) could fit into her world, but he’s loved Caterina for years. He knows they’ll find a way.

When Caterina finds out Alaric is taking a supermodel to the upcoming gala, she knows she cannot arrive without the perfect date. But the thought of taking another superficial St. R’s boy exhausts her. The solution? Sweet-but-clueless Rahul Chopra and a mysterious pot of hair gel with the power to alter the wearer into whatever his heart desires.

When Rahul tries it, he transforms instantly into RC—debonair, handsome, and charming. But transformation comes with a price: As Rahul enjoys his new social standing, the line between his two personas begins to blur. Will he give up everything, including Caterina, to remain RC? Or will this unlikely pair find their way back to each other?

Review:

Caterina LaValle is the queen of St. Rosetta’s Academy. Everyone wants to be her friend and will do anything to be close to her. When Rahul Chopra comforted Caterina at a winter dance following her breakup with her boyfriend, Rahul fell in love with her. Now, they’ve returned to school after their winter break, and Rahul is hoping his relationship with Caterina can begin. When Caterina finds out that her ex-boyfriend is bringing a supermodel to a gala, she has to find a date quickly. She decides to transform Rahul into the perfect date. With some magical hair gel, Rahul becomes the confident and charming RC, who dazzles everyone at the party. Rahul loves this new persona and thinks he has to keep it up to be with Caterina. When his two identities begin to merge into one, he has to decide who he really is to win Caterina’s heart.

I wasn’t very familiar with the story of the Princess and the Frog before reading this story. I knew that a Princess kissed a frog, turning him into a Prince, but I haven’t read or watched any adaptations of that tale so I didn’t know what to expect from this story. I love how this series has a touch of magic in these fairytale retellings. Most of it could take place in the real world, except for the magical hair gel that literally transforms Rahul into RC. That brings a fairytale element into a contemporary story.

I was surprised at the twist at the end of the story. I knew one character was acting a little strangely, but I didn’t know why. I couldn’t have predicted the twist, so it made the ending tense and exciting. There was a bit of a teaser for the next book in the epilogue. I hope there will be another St. Rosetta’s Academy book because I love this setting and the characters.

Of Princes and Promises is another fun Sandhya Menon book!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Other books in the series:

Have you read Of Princes and Promises? What did you think of it?

TBR Thursday – June 10

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly Faye Reads, where you post a title from your shelf or e-reader and find out what others think about it.

My pick this week is Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.

Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.

Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.

One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Review: The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn

Title: The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn
Author: Robin Maxwell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Arcade
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 1, 2021 (originally April 24, 1997)
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

One was queen for a thousand days; one for over forty years.  Both were passionate, headstrong women, loved and hated by Henry VIII.  Yet until the discovery of the secret diary, Anne Boleyn and her daughter, Elizabeth I, had never really met.  

Anne was the second of Henry’s six wives, doomed to be beloved, betrayed, and beheaded. When Henry fell madly in love with her upon her return from an education at the lascivious French court, he was already a married man. While his passion for Anne was great enough to rock the foundation of England and of all Christendom, in the end he forsook her for another love, schemed against her, and ultimately had her sentenced to death.  But unbeknownst to the king, Anne had kept a diary.

At the beginning of Elizabeth ‘s reign, it is pressed into her hands.  In reading it, the young queen discovers a great deal about her much-maligned mother:  Anne’s fierce determination, her hard-won knowledge about being a woman in a world ruled by despotic men, and her deep-seated love for the infant daughter taken from her shortly after her birth.

In journal’s pages, Elizabeth finds an echo of her own dramatic life as a passionate young woman at the center of England ‘s powerful male establishment, and with the knowledge gained from them, makes a resolution that will change the course of history.

Review:

When Queen Elizabeth I is given her mother Anne Boleyn’s secret diary, she learns the truth about her parents’ relationship. Anne was Henri VIII’s second wife, but they had a very unstable relationship, ending in Anne’s death. Elizabeth sees a new perspective of her mother’s life, which determines the choices she makes in her new reign.

I love reading about Anne Boleyn, so I was excited to read this novel. There were dual narratives of Elizabeth, just beginning her long reign as Queen, and Anne, who was the second wife of Henry VIII. Elizabeth didn’t know this side of the story, since her mother died when she was a toddler. She had to learn her true history without the veil of her father’s narrative.

The ending of this story was very clever. There was a decision that Elizabeth made after learning about her mother’s life. She wanted to live her life differently and independently, and I believe she did that. I enjoyed reading about Elizabeth’s and Anne’s stories side by side.

The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn is a must read for fans of Tudor historical fiction!

Thank you Arcade for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Mademoiselle Boleyn by Robin Maxwell

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Have you read The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn? What did you think of it?

‘Waiting on’ Wednesday – June 9

This is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. In this post we highlight a book that’s highly anticipated.

The book that I’m waiting on this Wednesday is The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison. The expected publication date is July 13, 2021.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

He’s never met a rule he didn’t break… She’s followed the rules her whole life… When they meet, one golden rule is established: stay away. Sparks fly in this edgy own voices novel, perfect for fans of Sandhya Menon, S. K. Ali, and Kristina Forest.

They were supposed to ignore each other and respect that fine line between them…

Guillermo Lozano is getting a fresh start. New town, new school, and no more reckless behavior. He’s done his time, and now he needs to right his wrongs. But when his work at the local community center throws him into the path of the one girl who is off-limits, friendship sparks…and maybe more.

Regan London needs a fresh perspective. The pressure to stay in her “perfect” relationship and be the good girl all the time has worn her down. But when the walls start to cave in and she finds unexpected understanding from the boy her parents warned about, she can’t ignore her feelings anymore.

The disapproval is instant. Being together might just get Guillermo sent away. But when it comes to the heart, sometimes you have to break the rules and be a little bit reckless…

What books are you waiting on this week?

Review: Pantomime

Title: Pantomime
Author: Christopher Sebela
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 20, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Haley and her brother, Max, are alone after their mother’s death and are sent to Wayfair Academy, a special needs boarding school. Eventually, they find family amongst other deaf children. One night the group decides to dip their toes into crime… the thrill is too much to leave behind. They soon find out that stealing from the wrong person, has its consequences. With no one to turn to but each other, they must make a choice, one where no one comes out the same.

Review:

After Haley and Max’s mother died, they were sent to Wayfair Academy, a boarding school for deaf students. One night, after Max’s devices are taken by a teacher, they decide to steal everything the teacher has taken from students. Since that crime was a success, they decide to do some more thefts with their friends. However, they soon rob the wrong man, and end up spending years paying back for those crimes.

I love boarding school stories. This was a special boarding school for deaf children. It was the perfect setting for these kids to plan their crimes, since they all lived together without parental supervision.

This is the first book I’ve read where all of the characters are deaf. It worked well in graphic novel format because the movement of their hands was illustrated. Their speech bubbles led away from their hands, instead of their mouths. The children were underestimated because of their deafness. They were able to use the perception that others had of them being weak to their advantage.

Pantomime is a great crime graphic novel!

Thank you Mad Cave Studios for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Crowded by Christopher Sebela

Stargazer by Anthony Cleveland

Have you read Pantomime? What did you think of it?

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Loved That Made Me Want More Like Them

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and it is now hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Books I Loved That Made Me Want More Like Them. Here’s my list:

1. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

2. Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

3. The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon

4. The Heiress Gets a Duke by Harper St. George

5. City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

6. Poison Priestess by Lana Popović

7. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

8. The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

9. Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

10. The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

(All book covers from Goodreads)

What’s your list of books on your Top Ten Tuesday?

Happy Pub Day – June 8

Happy Pub Day to all of these new books!

Heartbreakers and Fakers by Cameron Lund

Love and Other Natural Disasters by Lisa Sugiura

Girls at the Edge of the World by Laura Brooke Robson

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow

Of Princes and Promises by Sandhya Menon

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews

Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria

Seasons of Chaos by Elle Cosimano

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

The Marvelous by Claire Kann

Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa

What books are you most excited for this week?

Review: Malibu Rising

Title: Malibu Rising
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over–especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud–because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own–including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

Review:

Malibu 1983: Nina Riva always has a big end-of-summer party with her younger siblings. The four of them: Nina, Jay, Hudson, and Kit, are the children of singer Mick Riva, who abandoned them and their mother. All of Malibu is fascinated by the Rivas, and are drawn to the Riva party every year. This party is going to be life changing for each of the Riva siblings. Nina doesn’t want to be in the spotlight anymore after her professional tennis player husband left her for another tennis player. Jay is waiting for the girl of his dreams to show up. Hudson has important news that he must confess to his brother before it’s too late. Kit decides she wants to grow up at this party and finally kiss a boy. The party gets out of control, with alcohol and drugs flowing everywhere. By the next morning, the house will go up in flames. The four siblings must decide what’s most important in their lives and what can be left behind.

This was a tragic story about a tragic family. Though the four children had a famous singer for a father, he wasn’t there to look after them. They didn’t have enough money and had to look after themselves. There was a lot of generational trauma, with problems from their parents’ generation passing onto the children.

Even though the ending of the story is given in the synopsis, I had no idea how they would get there. Though I could figure out things that would happen before they happened, I got chills when I read the words. This story had a unique omniscient narrator, who knew everything that was happening in each character’s mind. The characters’ motives couldn’t be hidden from this narrator, but when the ending of the story is given away in the synopsis, this type of narration works well.

There are some trigger warnings such as alcohol and drug abuse, accidental drowning, abandonment, and adultery. Death at childbirth was mentioned but not part of the present story.

I was shocked and pleasantly surprised at the ending. It wasn’t what I expected at all.

Malibu Rising is a beautiful, tragic story that is perfect for the summer.

Thank you Penguin Random House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Have you read Malibu Rising? What did you think of it?