Review: Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating

Review: Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

When her friends question her bisexuality, in a panicked state, Hani Khan tells them she is dating someone: overachiever Ishu Dey who is the complete opposite of Hani. But Ishu agrees to help on the condition that Hani would help her become Head Girl in hopes of convincing her parents she will not become like her sister. The guide made and rules set down; all they need to do is last a couple of weeks. As the weeks go on, Ishu can’t understand why Hani allows her friends to mistreat her. Hani can’t understand why Ishu won’t trust her older sister. But when they really start falling for each other, things get messy, and rules are broken. 

I was not the biggest fan of Jaigirdar’s The Henna Wars, so I went into Hani and Ishu’s story quite hesitant, but I can definitely say my expectations exceeded a lot. Jaigirdar has improved a lot, and it shows in Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating because this was such an adorable read! 

Hani and Ishu take the fake dating trope and gives it a fun, refreshing (and desi) twist. Despite being out to her parents, her friends give her trouble when Hani decides to finally come out as bisexual to them. She already struggles to explain her religious and cultural background to them, so they aren’t too supportive when it comes to her sexuality. There she decides to blurt out that Ishu Dey is her girlfriend. Coming from similar backgrounds (They are both desi, Hani is Bangladeshi, and Ishu is Indian), Hani soon convinces them it’s real; now she just needs Ishu to get on board. Ishu Dey is top in her classes, low on the social pecking order. When her sister returns home and shatters their parent’s expectations, she is desperate to not look like a failure under their eyes. And dating Hani gives her the attention she needs to boost her social standing. 

I loved how wholesome this story was. Hani and Ishu are trainwrecks in the best way possible. They appear incompatible, but Hani helps Ishu open up in ways that she never thought was possible after spending some time together. Even telling her why she feels like the need to compete with her older sister. Ishu opens Hani’s eyes to the way she’s been mistreated by her friends and begins to make her realise that she doesn’t need to hide parts of herself, her religion and culture because they chose to not listen. Her friends will frustrate, but it’s so natural for a lot of young Muslim teens.

Overall, Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating was a fantastic read. So wholesome and highly entertaining! A story of two girls discovering themselves and becoming more comfortable in their own skin. A great quick read for young teen readers!


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: Cinderella Is Dead

Review: Cinderella Is Dead

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Two hundred years after Cinderella met her prince, every young girl of Mersailles must appear at the Annual Ball, where the Kingdom’s men select their future wives. All the girls know that they risk disappearing, never to be heard from again if they’re not chosen. Sophia yearns to marry her childhood best friend, Erin, who fears the repercussions their union would bring. An incident at the ball sends Sophia on the run, the King’s men hot on her heels. When she finds safety in Cinderella’s abandoned mausoleum, she comes face to face with one of the last descendants of Cinderella’s family, Constance. The two girls must work together to defeat King Manford’s reign of terror or risk their story be rewritten. 

Cinderella Is Dead is perfect in its concept. A dark, imaginative reinterpretation of the well-loved fairy tale.  Prince Charming turns cruel, and his successors follow his actions two hundred years later, forcing girls to appear at an actual ball searching for their future spouse. Once married, they are nothing but property to their husbands. They all must abide by a curfew, and nothing they own is genuinely theirs. Sophia has despised this system for a while and finally has a chance to escape during the ball. But the execution of, quite frankly, everything in this novel left me disappointed and underwhelmed. 

To start, the story was doomed from the very beginning. It begins strong with Sophia begrudgingly preparing for the Ball; she makes a point whenever she can that is very much against the system, while her parents dissuade her from speaking too loudly in fear of being accused of treason. She plots her escape and takes a chance during the ball and meets Constance, who confirms that the Cinderella story that the Kingdom has passed down generations is false. From then on, the story takes on a very tepid journey of Sophia and Constance journeying through a forest and plotting to take down the King. No tension and sadly really dull. If anything, I enjoyed the smatterings of fights scenes and seeing Constance and Sophia work smart to evade capture. But the rest of the plot fails to capture any good attention. I felt like I was being dragged from one plot point to another and told to deal with it. 

The characters were highly disappointing. Sophia is a selfish character who continually acts first and thinks later, leading to other people getting harmed. She’s aware that her actions can get her in trouble, but plot armour saves the day for her while everyone gets hurt. We also know nothing about her. Her likes, dislikes, quirks, nothing makes her stand out aside from her decision to go up against the King. Erin is rarely on-page but was the most interesting for me. She wants to be with Sophia, but her fear of the society around her creates an internal struggle that I would have loved to develop. And then comes Constance, mysterious and funny, but the possibility of what could’ve been is squandered for insta-love and no development. 

I’ll end this review with a disappointing sigh. Never have I seen a book with such potential fail to follow through on its promises. It’s an easy read, albeit grim in some select scenes. Sophia’s journey barely goes beyond its surface level, and the characters are wasted and discarded just as they’re introduced. A promising premise that needed to go back to the drawing board. 


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: Like A Love Story

Review: Like A Love Story

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The most important four-letter word in our history will always be LOVE. That’s what we are fighting for. That’s who we are. Love is our legacy.

In the midst of the AIDS crisis, three friends navigate first love and activism. Reza is about to start high school and is terrified that someone will figure out he is gay, and that a life of living happily is nothing but a dream. That is until he meets classmates Judy and Art. Jude is an aspiring fashion designer, while Art is her rebellious photographer best friend. Reza quickly finds himself involved with the ACT UP movement with the help of Judy’s uncle, Stephen; he sees the community he’s always longed for. That is until he starts dating Judy to hide his identity from his family while having growing feelings for Art. With the movement and protests rising each day, the three friends find themselves facing the hard truth of growing up and falling in love. 

I think this is a difficult review to write because how else can I talk this book other than say, read it yourself, no review can persuade you more than the actual book itself. This book has been quietly sitting on my TBR for quite some time now, and I’m mad at myself for taking so long to read this. 

Set in 1989, Reza is a closeted teenager who has recently moved in with his new stepfather and stepbrother. Reza is quiet and keeps to himself, mainly because he’s scared of what his family will think of him. This is also during the height of the AIDS crisis, so while Reza is struggling to grapple with his sexuality, the only thing he sees about it outside is an illness. But meeting Art and Judy gives him hope, gives him confidence. This is a book that I began to read with no expectations, but I immediately fell in love with. The emotions this story evokes is unbelievable. 

Like A Love Story is grounded in the harsh realities of its time, and while the story is fiction, the history is not, and Nazemian is very clear in the story he’s telling. They won’t teach it in schools. They don’t want us to have a history.” This book’s greatest strength is, quite simply put, everything. Nazemian’s story was incredibly moving and heartbreaking. 

Reza is an absolute sweetheart. Immediately you want to protect him from everything. His character hit me the hardest, his fear and vulnerability are laid to out to bare, and he chooses to become a ghost to keep him safe. To tell his family the truth and understand what it means is beyond all his power. 

Judy’s character was a surprise to me. A well-natured soul who, despite the comments about her body, pushes through expectations and grows into herself. Everyone deserves a friend like Judy. The only moment that didn’t feel right to me was her reaction to Reza’s coming out. I understood where she was coming from, but I felt somewhat shocked her at the response and then understood for plot sake, why it was treated that way.  

Art was something different. Reza is soft, Jude is calm while Art carries himself with a burning passion for change, even if it means burning all his bridges behind him. His love is photography, and his story follows him as he tries to capture all and every moment of the movement. To make sure no one forgets what they’ve been through. He reminds Reza that it’s okay not to be okay, and his feelings are more important than what anyone else thinks. I loved the trio dynamic, especially once they’ve all become comfortable with themselves.   

Overall, I loved Like A Love Story. It was an emotional portrayal of pride, activism and hope, all packaged into this one book. Nazemian captures a time that is not discussed in history lessons and has created one incredibly moving story.  


GOODREADS AMAZONAUTHOR