Reviews

Book Review | We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib

Book Review

*Book given by the publisher via netgalley  in exchange for an honest review*

We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir
Description: 

How do you find yourself when the world tells you that you don’t exist?

Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger.

When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, her need for a safe space–in which to grow and nurture her creative, feminist spirit–became dire. The men in her life wanted to police her, the women in her life had only shown her the example of pious obedience, and her body was a problem to be solved.

So begins an exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality, a journey that takes her to the far reaches of the globe to uncover a truth that was within her all along. A triumphant memoir of forgiveness and family, both chosen and not, We Have Always Been Here is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt out of place and a testament to the power of fearlessly inhabiting one’s truest self.–goodreads.com 


What I Liked

This memoir is a journey to read. Samar Habib’s story is heart breaking and at times difficult to read, but I am so happy she told her story. She truly went through a lot starting in Pakistan where she face severe threats and even in Canada, where it was meant to be a safe haven, she faced even more challenges of bullying and more.

Her voice is strong in this book. Telling her life, but also the lives of those who are unseen in society, as hinted at in the title. It really was an engrossing read and look into her life and her experiences felt real and tangible. With some memoirs the writers feel distant and untouchable also unapproachable. This was not the case with We Have Always Been Here. What really made this stand out was the author truly shared, even the fact that the author has made mistakes.

Going back to the writing and layout of this memoir, the author talks in a very raw and approachable manner. I felt that it was organized very well and the author truly has a talent when it comes to writing. I was pulled into this book quite quickly and nearly nothing could get me to put it down. The authors voice is truly specular.

While reading this memoir there were quite a few things that she faced her life that have been hinted at, but there is one thing that truly stood out to me. Her determination to  find her identity. This is a struggle for her throughout this book for a wide range of reasons. I don’t want to give away too much because I feel like this is best read without knowing too much.


What I Didn’t Like

Honestly, nothing. This book was wonderful.


Overall Thoughts

Overall, this is one of the best non-fiction books I have read recently. When it comes to reading memoirs I like them to be real, this is real and raw and you can feel it on every page. The author truly puts herself out there with pride as she shares her experience in finding and exploring her own identity as well as the experiences she has had in her life. I know I will be buying a finished copy of this because I know I will want to reread it in the future, which is not something I do a lot when it comes to memoirs. If you want to read about a strong LGBT+ and Muslim figure I would say this might be a very good option for you.

5stars


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Book Information

Publication Date: June 4th 2019

Publisher: Viking

List Price: $18.95

ISBN: 978-0735235007

Pages: 240 pages


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Reviews

Book Review | The Learning Curve by Mandy Berman

Book Review

*Book given by the publisher via netgalley  in exchange for an honest review*

The Learning Curve
Description: 

A love triangle between two college friends and a charismatic professor alters the lives of everyone involved in this razor-sharp novel.

Fiona and Liv are seniors at Buchanan College, a small liberal arts school in rural Pennsylvania. Fiona, who is still struggling after the death of her younger sister, is spending her final year sleeping with abrasive men she meets in bars. Liv is happily coupled and on the fast track to marriage with an all-American frat boy. Both of their journeys, and their friendship, will be upended by the relationships they develop with Oliver Ash, a visiting literature professor whose first novel was published to great success at the age of twenty-six.

Now Oliver is in his early forties, with thinning hair, rugged good looks, and a checkered past–there is talk of a relationship with an underage woman, a former student, at a previous teaching job. Meanwhile, Oliver’s wife, Simone, is pursuing an academic research project in Berlin, raising their five-year-old son, dealing with her husband’s absence, and wondering if their marriage is beyond repair. This sly, stunning, wise-beyond-its-years novel is told from the perspectives of the three women, and showcases Berman’s talent for exploring the complexities of desire, friendship, identity, and power dynamics in the contemporary moment. –goodreads.com 


What I Liked

One of the major things that drew me to the book was the mention of a college setting. I really liked the section of time we witness the lives of the main characters Fiona and Liv. The college experience and time, especially the final year, are always filled with tough decisions and a lot of life changes and I feel like it really gives the characters a lot of opportunities of growth. But, I also liked that the author tied in another character at a different stage in her life. I felt like it gave the book a balance of changes and discussion you can face while getting ready to live college and the discussions you face while you have a life already built.

The writing in this book was really well done,  the style flowed nicely and when I read I read for a decent amount of time.  I also liked how the author dealt with some of the hard topics, such as a death of a sibling. It was done, in my opinion, a real way. When it came to some of the issues that these ladies faced, they weren’t the most relatable, but it was interesting to see how the characters reacted. Even though they were not personally relatable, they are problems that some people do face. Also, I would like to applaud the author for being able to keep track of all the obstacles faced by everyone, it shows the strength in her writing.


What I Didn’t Like

I am not a huge fan of dislikable characters, but I know there are a lot of readers who do. So, this is a book review where what I don’t like about it will actually draw you to this book. I love when that happens! But, my dislike of the character did not lead me to dislike this book, I still was invested enough to want to know how everything plays out.


Overall Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was like reading a rollercoaster. There were times I really didn’t enjoy the characters, but I feel like this is a strength in some people eyes. Plus, for me the fact I still enjoyed the book with that really shows how wonderful of a writer the author is. I feel like this would be a good read for those who have no issue reading about some of the tough things talked about in this book and like a book with a lot going on, 4stars


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Book Information

Publication Date: May 28th 2019

Publisher: Random House

List Price: $27.00

ISBN: 9780399589348

Pages: 387 pages


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Reviews

2020 Shakespeare Challenge | January

Shakespeare

Hello and welcome to my first month of 2020 Shakespeare Challenge, you can find my original post with an explanation here: Blogmas | Goals | 2020 Shakespeare Challenge. As for a quick explanation, I am reading a Shakespeare play a month to see if I truly do not like Shakespeare, or I hated it because I was forced to in school. I also have a goodreads group going if you want to join in on the challenge, 2020 Shakespeare Challenge.


The Book

This first months book was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, chosen via a poll on my twitter account. This play was written in 1595 and is one of the rare ones I remember kinda enjoying, but I didn’t remember much about it.


My Review

I have to start this off by saying I am really happy to have started this year long challenge with this play in particular, the main reason being I actually enjoyed it. Yes, I am surprised to say that, but so grateful. I really was worried going into this thinking I was going to dislike everyone of his works, but that was not the case. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was actually really enjoyable and has made me more excited about this entire process.

I really liked the drama that was in this play, while it was series it was also kind of comical. It seemed very outlandish and it really dated itself with its treatment of women as property, but I expected that. I really liked the fact that there were some supernatural entities playing games on humans, for better or for worse. It was a very classic example of fae and their involvement with humans, but a bit less dark. I always enjoyed a supernatural spin on this, if you couldn’t tell of my love of paranormal reads and Stephen King.

As for the characters themselves, they were larger than life, but that is pretty typical of a play. I was not a huge fan of Helena if I am honest or Demetrius. Demetrius was very cruel and Helena just acted like an annoying child. On the other hand I really adored Hermia and Lysander, I was rooting for them the entire time. Throughout the story I was writing notes in the margins and a lot of the time I was writing “NO!”. “Are you serious right now?!”, I felt like I was reading a soup opera in a good way.

Overall, I thought this was a very good start, I really enjoyed this play and I am less apprehensive about this entire experiment of sorts. The one main gripe I have with this is what is done to  Demetrius at the end. While I did not like him, I thought of what happened to him was a bit unethical.


Next months play is going to be Othello as voted on by my wonderful twitter followers! If you want to join in with me please do by jumping into the conversation here or over on the goodreads group 2020 Shakespeare Challenge.


What did you think of this play?

What play do you think I should add to the poll for March? 

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Lets Talk

Let’s Talk | Updated Annotating Kit

Let's Talk

Hello everyone! A few / a lot of *months* ago (sorry) I posted a poll on twitter to see if anyone was interested in an update on my current essentials for reading, reviewing, and annotating my books. I will say I was not really anticipating a yes, but it seems like it is something that at least a few people wanted to see. So, without more rambling, let’s get to business!


For a reference moving forward, in my previous post, my essentials were: bookmark, mini notebook, 2 mechanical pencils and post-it tabs. If you want some more detail, you can find that here: Writing | My Reading/Review Kit. I didn’t really have specific pencils or anything, but just whatever was available and I already had.

Over the course of nearly a year and a half I feel like a lot has changed when it has come to my review essentials. I feel like I whittled what I carry around and use because I carry so much around for my work. Since I am always carrying around a ton of things, I really tried to not add more, mainly to ensure I don’t break my back. While obviously a few pens and a mini notebook aren’t heavy, but every little thing adds up. Anyway, here are the things I carry around with me now.

My go to writing implement is no longer a pencil, but a pen. I came into the problem where things were getting smudged and I getting graphite everywhere! I now use a Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pen in the color Salmon. It is a light pink in color, which is a perfect combination of grabbing my attention when I go back to look at my notes, but not enough to be to distracting if I was to reread.

A few of the other things to go are my mini notebook, bookmark, and post it tabs. I realized that the mini notebook was not essential and with the lighter color pen I was able to write my notes in the margin or use a notecard, which I was inspired by Waving Fiction’s post, Why I Use Notecards in My Books. But, I only use a notecard in some books, where I realize I am writing a bit too much to fit on a margin. I do note the page number for my notes if I do use a notecard so I can refer back to a quite if my note doesn’t make sense when I look over them.

The last thing I want to mention is a little addition to my essentials and this would be a mini ruler. I was driving myself crazy with lines that went crooked or I accidentally wrote in the middle of a line, so I picked up a ruler. Now, the one I got is metal, but has cork on the underside so I don’t feel like it could hurt my book any, which is great. The best part is I carry it around anyway because I use one in my bujo too! If you want to check my bujo out, you can look at my spreads and such here: Projects: Bullet Journal.

Thanks so much for reading about my annotating supplies, I know it isn’t as much as it used to be, but this is what works for me! I also hope that this little explanation helps you find what works for you on your reviewing and annotating journey!


Do you have any annotation go to supplies?

Do you write in your books or on something else?

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Wrap Up

Wrap Up | November 2019

WrapUp12:17

So, this month was really a bad reading month, not because I read bad books, but I barely read. I have no idea what has happened to me, but I have not been interested in a lot of the books on my shelf and more interested in other things I have been putting off for a long time. While I am very happy with exploring those parts of me, I miss reading and the adventurers. Anyway, here are the very limited books I read this month and my thoughts with a bonus of what I am currently reading.


Read 2
It Would Be Night in CaracasIt Would Be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this novel from BookCon 2019 for free from the publisher.

This was such a powerful read. It was raw, it was powerful, and it told a very important story. It is filled with heart breaking content, it was an emotional roller coaster. I was sad, angry, and outraged so many times while reading this. The story is really one that needs to be shared because so many people around the world live in these conditions, whether it would be one aspects of the story or all.

The writing goes back and forth through a timeline of a young girl living in Venezuela during very uneasy times. She is faced with that seems like impossible circumstances. I read this book in a single day because I needed to know how Adelaida’s story ended. I will say that this is not for every reader if you find human suffering, violence, and tense situations unbearable to read about.

View all my reviews


Ogre Enchanted (Ella Enchanted, #0.5)Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*Book given for review by Wunderkind PR*

View full review here: Book Review | Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

“Overall, I really have to say I enjoyed this book. I really like the twist on the fairytale of declined marriage proposal where someone turns into a monster. I also really like the writing style and the main character and her protrayed as an ogre. I feel like the author did an amazing job merging the idea of the ogre with such a dedicated, self assured character. In my eyes if you read and were interested by the description you should give this book a try. It is an interesting story in a really interesting world created by a talented writer.”

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The Long TakeThe Long Take by Robin Robertson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to say that this is one of the better books shortlisted for the Man Book Prize in 2018. I really enjoyed the format being utilized, it really set the feeling of the story for me. This book really talks about a very difficult topic that many have to deal with PTSD and having known someone who suffered with it first hand, I feel like the author did a great job portraying how it can affect some people. PTSD affects many, but can affect each person differently.

This book really had a feel to it that I think sticks to a reader, I feel like I will bee thinking about it for sometime. It is encompassing and consuming in a way. I also like how the author portrays the internal feelings struggles of the main character to the external society/city. It was veery interesting to read. There are many dark topics in this novel/poem, so if PTSD, drug use, and other dark themes are something that can bother you, I would stay away. If that is not the case it is a powerful read for sure.

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Currently Reading 2

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore, so far I am really enjoying this historical fiction cute love story. I am currently at 43% and I can see this being a 4 or 5 stars at this point. I can see that the author knows about the time period and the writing style is wonderful.

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, since this is the 5th book in the series I am not going to say too much, but I am enjoying how I am just dropped right back into the world without missing a beat or too long of a reintroduction. I am only one chapter in, but since I have read this far, you can see that I enjoy the writing, even though it can be graphic at times. 

Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen, this I am not far in at all, 6% total, so I don’t have much of an option either way. I will say that I am excited to continue so that is a good sign. I will also say that I think this story is going to get dark, but I feel like it will be really powerful as well. 

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, I am only 4% into this one. This is an ebook of mine so I wont be making my way through it too quickly, but from what I have read so far the author has really made an impression on me. The writing is beautiful and I am already kinda attached to the main character


Beat the Backlist 2

Current TBR: 34

Backlist TBR: 0


What was your favorite book you read this past month?

Did anything you read surprise you?

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