Books That Defined My Decade

Books That Defined My Decade

This post was entirely inspired by Kate @ Your Tita Kate’s post, The Books That Defined My decade. I never thought to even reflect on my decade, but after reading Kate’s post, I immediately wanted to do the same.

I have a terrible memory, so I don’t remember much from my childhood, which makes me feel like I didn’t genuinely exist until 2010. At the start of this decade, I was eleven years old, turning twelve that March and, at the time of writing this post, I am twenty-one, about to turn twenty-two this March. I went from primary school, secondary school, college and university all in this decade alone. And just thinking about that blows my mind. In some sense, it shouldn’t because it’s just time passing but, at the same time, that is a lot of significant milestones in my life. I went from a child to a young adult, and reading Kate’s post made me realise that’s not a small thing. Reading is a big part of my identity, especially during this decade is where I had more choice over the books I read. While Kate’s post is more about books published in each specific year, my list is naming the books that I read in that year that made the most significant impact on me. So not all of them were great reads, but I feel like they deserve some acknowledge from impacting me in some way.

I’m going off what years I’ve put in my Goodreads profile but I feel like I might be off by a year or so hence I’ve added some books here that I actually read in 2009.

  • Thief – Despite Malorie Blackman being of the UK’s most beloved children’s author, I never read her acclaimed series Noughts & Crosses. Instead of the books, I knew her by were Thief and Hacker. I think this part is due to the face we didn’t have her books in my primary school library. (Maybe we did, and it was always being borrowed?) But anyway, I found Thief by accident when someone had randomly left it lying around after Golden Time. (lol remember Golden Time?) Anyway, someone remind me actually to read Noughts & Crosses in this decade.
  • Theodore Boone – The early 2010s was before I joined proper social media, so my ability to find books were severely limited. I don’t even remember how I managed to find Theodore Boone because it wasn’t from my school library, nor did anyone buy it for me. But I loved this series a lot as a kid. I used to watch a lot of crime shows with my family, so reading a series set in a similar environment to all the shows I was watching, but with a protagonist my age blew my mind.
  • The Lighting Thief – Funnily enough, this was the last time I actually up a Rick Riordan book before picking up the second one in 2019. I really loved The Lightning Thief, but my school library didn’t have the rest of the series so sadly, and with my fish brain that forgets everything every five seconds, I never got around to finishing this series. I tried continuing the series, but life got in the way. I really hope to get back to this series soon. 
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Year In Rewind: 2019

Year In Rewind: 2019

In place of my December Monthly Rewind, I decided to do a Year Rewind instead. (Partly because I actually haven’t done anything this month apart from cry over unwritten essays and dissertations – May is so close, yet so far…) If you don’t check out my Monthly Rewinds, I showcase the books I’ve read and the music I’ve listened to throughout the year. And for today’s post, I want to highlight the best books I’ve read this year, showcases some of my non-reviews posts and share some of my most listened to songs throughout the year! Similar to my favourite blogging moments, but without the questions and now including some stats from Goodreads!

According to Goodreads, I read 26,224 pages across 80 books. This has probably my lowest reading challenge ever. I intentionally went for 80 rather than my usual 100 because university really took a toll out of me this year. My book promise was to read outside my comfort zone and I don’t even think I managed to do that, sticking to YA and whatever sounded best to me. Mentally, I was not okay and it really reflected in the books I could make myself read and the posts I was making. I don’t like talking so negatively but I honestly cannot wait for university to be over. I have so much I want to do that I feel like university wasn’t really the right choice for me but I pushed myself through it anyway. Anyway, let’s get started. I don’t think I had many standout reads this year. I had initially planned to make this book top nine since it’s the end of 2019 but I found myself struggling to really pick a book and say this one truly brought me joy this year, which I why I whittled them down to six books.

B O O K S

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The first is Love From A To Z by S.K. Ali. I was invited to be a part of the blog tour earlier this year and I was literally jumping for joy when I got the email. I absolutely loved Ali’s work and having the opportunity to read such a great YA book that was so refreshing to read was a moment I’ll remember for a long time. You can read my blog tour post here!


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source: goodreads

My second choice, weirdly enough, was a book from 2014. Gates of Thread and Stone is one of those books that was all the hype back in 2014 apparently, and I just so happened to miss it by a year and it flew completely under my radar until someone on Twitter posted a cover earlier this year and I immediately fell in love. It’s a funny one because the plot and the fact that it follows a lot of cheesy YA conventions made it so surprising that I enjoyed it that much. I do wish I discovered this one earlier though, I know 2014 me would’ve appreciated it a lot.


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source: goodreads

My third choice is no surprise to anyone who knows me. Sword and Pen is the final book in the Great Library series. I’ve mentioned this enough times on here on how much Rachel Caine has influenced me in my journey of becoming a reader and a writer. Being able to experience another one of her series come to an end was rather bittersweet but amazing. A lot of readers will recognise Rachel from the Morganville Vampires series and the Great Library series is a true testament on how much she has improved in her skill. If you need a YA series to read, this is the one. Normally, I’m very picky over books, my favourites of all time tend to not be my favourite for long but this series has had my heart for so long, I don’t think anything will come to replace it.


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My fourth choice blew me away. Summer Bird Blue was a book where I found myself truly in tears at the end. I don’t consider myself a person who get physically emotional, so I was partly in shock at myself when I finished reading this one. It was so emotional and intense and the way music is used to deal with grief is something else.


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The next two choices are part of a series which should be no surprise to anyone. My fifth choice is Jade City by Fonda Lee. Jade City is such a epic novel which is such a different book that I don’t often look out for. Since this year was pretty poorly for me, I didn’t branch out in terms of reading choices. So when I saw Shealea promote the next book in the series Jade War, I decided to bite the bullet and try the book out. Honestly, I say this seriously, but this book is a masterpiece. A forever favourite book. And the sixth, and final choice, was Jade War, the sequel to Jade City. “The sheer joy I experienced from reading this novel is something that can’t be easily replicated” From my blog tour post. This series has seriously grabbed me by the throat, and I don’t know if I’ll ever let this one go.

M U S I C

Reflecting back on my music choices through Ask.fm this year really made me realise how boring my music taste. I don’t really have a set genre I listen to because my music taste essentially is: If it sounds good, I’ll listen. Judging by my last.fm, I feel like K-pop has jumped up the list a considerable amount, which is mainly due to the fact I tend to listen to my kpop girl group playlist in between short journeys where I don’t want to use my data to listen to other songs as it’s the only offline playlist I have. 😂

Anyway, I think that will be it for this post. I’m sorry it isn’t as great as I wanted it to be. Blaming it all on the essay blues and third year stress which means the first half of 2020 will not be a kind to me. But to anyone reading, I hope this year has been the best it could be for you and 2020 will bring you everything you ever hoped for!


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My Favourite 2019 Blogging Moments [TAG]

My Favourite 2019 Blogging Moments [TAG]

I was tagged by Rameela @ Star is All Booked Up. Thank you so much for tagging me!

RULES:

  1. All the answers must be about your blog posts
  2. Please link the original creator of the tag so they can see all your posts!
  3. You don’t have to provide just one post for each question, you can provide as many as you want so long as they were written in 2019
  4. If you haven’t written a post that matches one of the questions, choose one that relates to it as close as possible
  5. Tag 5+ bloggers to they can share their accomplishments too! And make sure you read the posts they share!

Oh, this one is a no brainer. Definitely Jade War by Fonda Lee. I discovered The Greenbone Saga through Shealea @ Shut up, Shealea and I am forever grateful for her recommendation. She was actually hosting the blog tour for Jade War and I had applied for it before I had read the first book in the series. (Jade City) In my defence, I wasn’t actually expecting to be accepted into the tour but man, am I glad she let me join and I actually really loved Jade City/War. I’ve linked the review already, but you can also click the book covers to see any mentioned posts.


source: Nintendo

I’m not big on doing discussion posts. Mainly because I don’t think I have much to contribute and I feel like everything I say is just regurgitating things people before me have said more eloquently. But I did really loved this post I wrote back in April about My Favourite Things About Breath Of The Wild. If you don’t know BOTW (first of all, get to know), it’s the newest instalment of the Zelda franchise and it’s one of my favourite games ever. I spoke a lot about my experience with video games and how rarely I got the opportunity to play the big names growing up. And then I listen some of my favourite parts of the game. It’s a pretty chill post but I love it a lot.

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Double Review: That Can Be Arranged and The Black Hawks

Double Review: That Can Be Arranged and The Black Hawks

*I received a copy of both these books via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

That Can Be Arranged

In her second comic, Huda Fahmy recounts the story of how she met her husband, Gehad. Marriage is always tricky, and especially for Huda as she faces gossiping aunties and overbearing parents who want the best for her. That Can Be Arranged is hilarious, quirky and quite refreshing. A simple story which also discusses misconceptions about the autonomy of Muslim women, and offers another way to understand what life is like for a Muslim woman in a modern age.

Fahmy’s sense of humour is strange, but I surprisingly enjoyed it. I see a lot of her art on Instagram so I knew I had to read this one. The story is practical, nothing too extreme, and I really enjoyed how open she was about her spirituality in her story. I also appreciated how she’s so unabashed when it comes to expressing all her struggles.

I’ll admit the art style isn’t my taste, but her wit and humour really makes up for it. Fahmy’s story is quick and simple, yet makes its mark about her longing to find someone, the struggles it entails and making sure she gets married for the right reason and with the right person.


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The Black Hawks

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

Bound to a dead-end job in the service of his uncle, life isn’t all that for Vedren Chel. That is until the kingdom is thrown into chaos, and Vedren finds an out: escorting the stranded prince who promises his oath would be dissolved. But dragging a prince while being hunted by enemies on all sides isn’t easy and when they find themselves in the company of the Black Hawks, Vedren’s dream to return home drifts further away from him.

It hurt a lot to not like this one. I was really excited to read The Black Hawks, but nothing was really impressive about this book at all. The pacing was all off, the fight scenes were exhilarating but they were immediately followed by extreme moments of utter nothingness.

Chel was both annoying and amusing at the same time. He doesn’t seem to do much apart from getting beat up violently and somehow surviving. The prince in question is quite immature, but we get no clarity in his age, or I either missed it. The Black Hawk Company had the makings to be so good. But their humour fell flat for me. I wasn’t sure if Chel was supposed to grow to enjoy their company or be terrified of them because, in the end, Chel comes to like them, but I don’t think that development really came through in the story.

The last quarter of the book did really interest me. But the overall story just didn’t entice me enough to care about continuing this series in the future. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. Or maybe, it just wasn’t the right time and I’ll have to check out reviews of the next book in the future to decide if this one deserves a second chance.


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Review: Other Words for Home

Review: Other Words for Home

“Americans love labels. They help them know what to expect. Sometimes, though, I think labels stop them from thinking.”

Jude is only twelve-years-old when she leaves Syria to live to live with her uncle’s family in the US. Being the only student who looks like her, she begins to discover that she isn’t seen as a normal girl like her peers. Told in verse, Other Words for Home follows her journey to understanding her new label of “Middle Eastern” while also finding herself.

I adored this book. Jude is the sweetest protagonist and her story was so inspiring and relatable. Growing up, Jude was obsessed with movies and becoming a star, so she is obviously surprised when she must move away from her coastal home when it descends into a civil war. Along with her pregnant mother, she must leave her family, father and brother, behind, and comes face-to-face with the life she had thought she knew from the movies.

Her life in the states is new but straining. Her cousin Sarah makes no effort to help, her aunt tries her best, and her new peers see her as something different. She reminds herself of her brother’s goodbye message. “Be brave.” Slowly, she grows to enjoy her new classes and even makes new friends in her ESL classes where they all bond over their experiences of coming to the states. Much to her cousins’ dismay, she even auditions for the school musical. Jude is such an insightful narrator; her confidence, her insecurities and her confusion all come through in the pages.

Other Words tackles tough to talk about topics like Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim rhetoric. The way it manifests in Jude’s life is so subtle and real, like Jude realising how people actions towards her suddenly shift when she begins to wear the hijab. The book takes on the idea that not all Muslims shares the same experience, and this is just Jude’s story. There was something comforting reading about a young Muslim girl experiencing her spirituality on her terms. You don’t get that often. Her fear and confusion were portrayed so well, something that I experienced a lot as a Muslim kid growing up which makes this book a lot more special.

Overall, Other Words for Home is a story of becoming and belonging and what it means to be yourself in a society that would rather see otherwise. A middle-grade read that tackles topics like war, refugees and prejudice, a definite recommendation for younger children and older teens.


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Review: Crier’s War

Review: Crier’s War

Years ago, the Kingdom of Rabu came under the control of the Automae after the war almost decimated the land. Now, humanity lives under their controlling and violent thumb. Ayla, a human servant, finds herself unexpectedly rising in her rank where she plots to kill the sovereign king’s daughter, Lady Crier. Crier is Made to be perfect, without a single flaw, ready to carry her father’s legacy. However, her recent betrothal sees her spot slipping right from under her, and meeting Ayla creates tension that can start a war, but can they rise above it and stop before it goes too far?

A couple of months ago, I saw the prettiest book cover reveal I had ever seen and, with no shame, decided that I had to read this book. When I took a look at the description and saw it was an F/F sci-fi/fantasy novel about automation? A double whammy. I had brought myself up to hype Crier’s War and counted down the says to its release. There’s a lot to love about Ayla and Crier’s story, much of it I loved, but I did find it a quite directionless a lot of time, which was disappointing, to say the least.

This isn’t an original set up but what made this story stand out was how Varela utilises the concept of automation ruling over humanity. Set in an alternate future where alchemy has crafted the Automae who now rule the land. Humanity created them when their Queen was unable to have children, but they quickly rose up against their creators. The core of this book is mainly about what it means to be human, is it free will or the fact we have blood running through us that makes us so? I found it interested how the author uses this story to discuss oppression, privilege and appropriation. Was I expecting it? No. Did I like it? Very much so.

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