Monday, 23 April 2018

Batch Reviews #4

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart (✮✮✮ - 3/5 stars)
Publishing Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Pages: 288

My Review: I read We Were Liars a few years back and really loved that book. I was so excited to hear that Lockhart was coming out with a new book. I'll be honest, it took me a few times to really get into this book and read a chunk of it. I wasn't enjoying it from the beginning and one of my co-workers convinced me that it was really good and to give it another shot. I really wanted to like it and while the premise is interesting, and with elements of The Talented Mr. Ripley, I didn't love it. I didn't find it shocking the way I did WWL, and at times, I found Jules and Imogen really difficult to empathize with. I will say Lockhart's writing is wonderful and she's great at writing the unreliable narrator. I just didn't love this one like WWL. In short, if you aren't familiar with the original story of Mr. Ripley, you might really enjoy this because there will be twists and turns that you don't see coming, and if you are a fan of Lockhart's writing in general, you'll enjoy this!

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo, Amazon, and Book Depository
Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Pages: 272

My Review: What a stunning book. I have read a few books in the past by Gayle Forman and they always hit me right in the feels and made me cry. This one did the same thing but I think this is my favorite one by hers yet! It follows three perspectives: Freya, Harun, and Nathaniel, and how three broken people come together and find each other at the right time in New York one day. Freya is a singer who has lost her voice, Harun is a boy who lost the boy he loved, and Nathaniel has nothing to lose. I just loved how they came together and I loved how their back stories were slowly revealed to the reader. This book touches on so many topics like family expectations and doing what others want you to do, instead of what you want, and how loving someone/something can really hurt, but it's worth it? There's just so much in this book and I would highly recommend you pick it up. There's something in it for everyone!

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo, Amazon, and Book Depository
Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Release Blitz: The End Zone by L.J. Shen

End-Zone-Release-Blitz.jpg

The End Zone, a sexy friends to lovers romance from L.J. Shen is available LIVE!

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Batch Reviews #3 - Poetry Edition

Hi everyone! I'm back again with another batch reviews. This time I've decided to feature some poetry books I've read recently. I've always been a fan of poetry since I took many poetry classes in my undergrad and I've dabbled a bit with writing my own poetry too. I also am the poetry editor for Rambutan Literary. I also feel like in the past six months, poetry has really exploded and I love seeing so many debut releases. Let's get started! 

Dreampad by Jeff Latosik (✮✮✮ - 3/5 stars)
Publishing Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Pages: 128

My Review: I liked learning that the title of the book and the epigraph for the poem by the same name was inspired by a customer review of the Dreampad item; since when I first heard of this book, I was like 'is he talking about the pillow?' haha. When I was reading Latosik's poems, I definitely felt like they inhabited liminal and ephemeral spaces, he touches on the in-between and the thoughts that linger there. Latosik's pieces get into detail and I'm not always a big fan of poetry that does that. I much prefer pieces that tell the story, but allow the reader to locate a connection in a much broader way. That being said, there were some pieces that I really enjoyed. In particular, I enjoyed "The Bright Note" and "Dear Listener."

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Amazon - Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received a finished copy of this book from Penguin Random House Canada. All opinions are my own.


I Left Nothing Inside on Purpose by Stevie Howell (✮✮✮ - 3/5 stars)
Publishing Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Pages: 80

My Review: Howell's collection focuses on many topics such as love, identity, and relationships. There were some poems in particular that I found incredibly timely and easy to relate to: "Talking w/ humans is my only way to learn" and "Life is not about what you learn, really, but what you remember" -- the both stress the significance of human relationships and learning, and the anxieties surrounding it. I also want to highlight "Notes on not being able to have a baby" - which was an incredibly beautiful, tragic, and heart-wrenching poem. Overall, Howell's type of poetry isn't something I would usually gravitate towards, but I was pleasantly surprised with the pieces and I'm keen to check out the first poetry collection Howell has out.

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Amazon - Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received a finished copy of this book from Penguin Random House Canada. All opinions are my own.


On Blank Pages by Giuliano Enciso (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: December 2, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 238

My Review: I have the great pleasure of knowing the author IRL and when he mentioned that he was going to be publishing his poetry collection, I couldn't be happier for him! He started sharing some of his pieces on instagram @GiulianoEnciso and it's so nice to see the collection as a whole. The collection is divided into seven sections and for the most part, the focus is on relationships, falling in love, heartbreak, and putting yourself back together again. There are many sweet pieces in the collection, such as "Kings", "Origami Love", and "Queen of Hearts II" which are incredibly romantic. However, my favorite pieces  are the ones that simply linger with you long after you finish reading. The ones that make you ponder for more, but also the ones that Enciso so perfectly encapsulates with words you wish you had yourself. Those ones for me are: "Celestial Envy", "Giants", and "Fear" - these three are definitely the strongest pieces in his collection and you should buy a copy just so you can read those ones. I'm proud of Enciso for his lovely collection and I can't wait to see what else he writes next.

Available for purchase:
Amazon


The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Pages: 208

My Review: I'm ashamed to say that I haven't read Lovelace's first book, but I did immediately buy it upon completion of this one (so review for that to come soon)! I loved each and every single poem in this collection, and I really want to highlight the coven rules poems. The book touches on so many topics from abuse, assault, toxic relationships, to independence, identity, and more.  I felt so many emotions reading this collection, ranging from all over the spectrum. I even cried at some parts, but it only reminds me of how much work still needs to be done as a woman. Her words are a rallying cry and incredibly timely. This collection is perfect with all the latest #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Lovelace's second book is one of my favorite feminist reads of this year. It burns a fire in me. It reminds me to always stand up for myself. It makes me damn proud to be a woman.

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Amazon - Book Depository

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Blog Tour: Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi - Review & Author Written Piece

Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi 

Publishing Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind. Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other" (SS).

My overall thoughts and review: I absolutely loved this book and brace yourself for an incredibly swoony review. When I read the premise, I knew I had to have it; it was an instant add to my TBR.  I've been absolutely loving all the amazing YA that has come out recently with female Asian protagonists. This makes my heart swell, because finally, I can see myself in a story. This story is particularly special to me because I empathize so much with Penny in so many ways. The way that Penny and Sam meet is quite peculiar. She finds Sam having a panic attack on the side of the road and they exchange numbers and become each others Emergency Contacts. They begin talking and while the conversation is great, it inhabits the world of the cellphone only. I love how they come to navigate seeing each other in real life again and just getting to know one another. I loved their text messages so much and I really liked that it wasn't an insta-love narrative. I love relationships that are originally built on friendship first. 

Penny's relationship with her mother was one part of the story I really enjoyed. There's that moment where your parent becomes a friend, and that can always be difficult waters to navigate. I loved that their relationship wasn't perfect but they were able to find a happy compromise, and I especially liked how it wrapped up in the end with them coming to understand one another. Penny's relationship with her mother contrasts Sam's relationship with his mother, because Sam has such a difficult one with his mother. It's just bad and he comes from a terribly broken home. It was nice that despite his difficulties with his mother, he was able to find solace and an ally in Penny, and I'm so glad he was able to talk about his problems with her.

The book also takes place in college which I can definitely empathize with more. I remember being like Penny and having that weird moment of getting to know your roommate. I really liked Jude as a secondary character too. She was nice and quirky and I love just how much an effort she made constantly. I also really liked hearing about Penny's creative writing class and seeing her story unravel. The story she focused on was so strange with the Anima, but I loved how it was reflective of what she was dealing with in her own life.

The biggest takeaway for me was how to deal with toxic people in your life and this was the case for Sam. He had to learn to come to terms with how things were with Lorraine and how to deal with his mother. We often put ourselves in scenarios with people that simply aren't good for us time and time again, because of guilt, but also loneliness. I loved that this book touched on how despite being lonely, you don't have to settle. I also love that it touched on how relationships can change as well. In the beginning, I wasn't a huge fan of Mallory, but she definitely grew on me towards the end. This is by far my favorite book of this year. It had everything I love about young adult contemporary reads. It focused on family, friendship, and love, but with a heavy emphasis on loneliness. If you are a fan of Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park, I definitely think you would enjoy this one! Please do yourself a favor and pick it up, you won't regret it (and also once you are done, please tweet at me so we can swoon over it).

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Author Written Piece
Topic/Question: If you could cast your book for a TV show or movie, who would you cast as the main characters and why?
OMG I love this game. Okay, had I my druthers, like total, pie-in-the-sky Emergency Contact would be a TV show. Preferably prestige TV since they’re into experimental formats. I particularly loved the way Netflix did End of the F**king world. The way it’s this chunk of story that would be a bit longer than a regular movie—that’s about the size of a BBC miniseries—where each episode is just a hacked off piece and a continuation of the last. I thought that was revolutionary and totally in keeping with how most of us binge-watch everything anyway.  
As for casting, the whole reason why I write and will continue to write is to incite conversations around the minorities I write about. Not to say that whatever this becomes will win an Oscar (ALTHOUGH WHO KNOWS) but the fact that zero Asian or Latinx actors were nominated this year does say something about the lack of representation so I hope inclusion riders continue to be a topic. 
But to answer your question (finally; sorry, I’m super longwinded as a human) another reason why I love TV is that there are so many gutsy decisions about casting too. Like I’d love if, whatever, a Timothée Chalamet would deign to play Sam alongside Kelly Marie Tran who crushed as Rose Tico in the Star Wars movies but I would be so pumped if we could find someone completely unheard of who’d get a chance to shine.  
Like, who’s the next Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things? Also, who’s to say that Sam has to be white? I’m obsessed with LaKeith Stanfield from Atlanta and Get Out and Steven Yuen from the Walking Dead, Mayhem and the upcoming Chew. This seems random but I’d also want Rich Brian, the rapper, to read for Sam as well. As for Penny there’s Anna Akana from YouTube Red’s Youth & Consequences who plays a mean girl but has a streak of sweetness in interviews but I’d love if Josephine Lee who’s a Korean model that’s Instagram famous as “Princess Gollum,” would give it a go. She has such a beguiling and particular energy that would be incredible for Penny and I’m convinced she can act. There’s also of course Nora Lum a.k.a. Awkwafina or Yaeji who’s an amazing Korean DJ and artist. There’s so much charisma and talent available if you wander outside the lines of expectation. I know we’d find someone amazing. I would also obviously have to executive produce because I can imagine people being like, Ugh, stop, pick a “real” actor to “attach” to the “project.” I’d have to be hanging around with a scepter, gavel and itchy Instagram finger to make sure things don’t get too predictable and safe. 
Thank you so much, Mary, for stopping by and answering this question. I would totally love to see Timothée as Sam and Kelly Marie as Penny. But overall, I just want this book to be optioned for a TV show or movie! ;) 

Be sure to stop by the other stops on the blog tour for more content about #EmergencyContact and for tomorrow's post for a chance to win a copy of the book! 

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Simon and Schuster Canada for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Batch Reviews #2

Hi everyone! I decided to continue with these lovely batch reviews because it's so much easier for me to write a bunch of mini reviews in one shot! I went on vacation and read a lot of YA so I want to mention those ones here for you all. Let's get started! 

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno (✮✮✮ - 3/5 stars)
Publishing Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 368

My Review: I have to admit that this is my first read by Cotugno. I own her other books but I honestly haven't gotten around to reading them. I decided to pick this one up for my vacation because the main character Gabby is bisexual and has social anxiety. I'm all for books with LGBTQ representation and mental health representation. It follows Gabby and her best friend, Ryan, as they look back on the top ten moments of their friendship. It's definitely a will they or won't they narrative. I found both characters incredibly frustrating in a lot of moments throughout the book.I really liked the ending of the book where it highlights friendship, but the characters were just too frustrating. The structure was also confusing as they looked back on the moments because it didn't move in chronological order.

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Audible - Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from HCCFrenzy. All opinions are my own. 


The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: PRH Canada Young Readers
Pages: 384

My Review: I read Everything, Everything a few years back and I absolutely loved it! I know this book has been out for a while, but it's honestly been sitting on my shelf for so long. I decided to finally pick it up and read it and I'm so glad I did! What an adorable book. I loved the format of the book and how both characters had their own chapters, but also characters they interacted with (even if in the smallest ways) had their own chapters as well. I loved seeing Daniel and Natasha's relationship blossom over the course of the day and in a city that I love. It was just super adorable but also spoke a lot about doing what you want, our complex relationships with our parents, and falling in love. If you loved her previous book, you'll definitely enjoy this one.

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Audible - Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House Canada. All opinions are my own. 


Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Pages: 320

My Review: This book was simply adorable and so cute. It follows the main character, Claude, who gets roped into being a crew member for her school's production of A Midsummer's Night Dream. Through this whole process, she finds unexpected friendship, falls in love, and works through family dynamics. There is a great emphasis on fandom which I absolutely love. As someone who plays an MMO, I loved seeing Claude play the game with her brother and her bestfriend. It was so cool to recognize the language of MMOs in the book. Claude also bonds with Iris over a musical band which I can relate too as well. Also, the boy that Claude meets is just downright the goofiest and sweetest boy there ever was. Loved this book so much and I can't wait to read other books by Mills.


Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Raincoast Books. All opinions are my own. 


Thunderhead (Book #2 of Arc of a Scytheby Neal Shusterman (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: January 9, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 512

My Review: This is the follow up to Scythe, which I read last year and absolutely loved. It made me love sci-fi/dystopians again. I really loved the concept and the world that Shusterman put together and in this sequel, we get to see Citra and Rowan as they choose their new paths. Citra has been ordained as Scythe Anastasia and making a name for herself in the Scythe world, whereas Rowan is on the run because he has been deemed Scythe Lucifer, going around and killing Scythes that aren't following the order. There are so many twists and turns in this book and I really liked the introduction of the new character Greyson. It was so cool to learn more about the Thunderhead's position and what it does. It ended on a crazy cliffhanger and I honestly can't wait for more content. :D

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Audible - Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received an e-galley of this book from Simon and Schuster. All opinions are my own. 


Restore Me (Book #4 of Shatter Me Series) by Tahereh Mafi (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 448

My Review: Ok.. so if you've been around Padfoot's Library from the very beginning, you might remember my strange non-proper formatting posts where I professed my love for Warner constantly. I mean I even gave the guy a label here. When the book series originally ended, I was satisfied because I love Ignite Me so much, and when I heard there was going to be more, I must admit I was incredibly reluctant. I was also scared and worried for my beloved characters. I will say once I dove back into this world, I could see why Mafi returned for more. There were so much unanswered aspects and it's not like they could ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. I loved that this focuses on the "after" and what comes next. It was amazing to see Juliette learn to work in her new role, see how Warner and Adam deal with grief, and of course, learn more about the Restablishment. Oh.. and my sweetie pie Kenji! *heart eyes emoji* The book has so many twists and turns, and I honestly am in physical pain waiting for the next one. I love being back in this world that Mafi has created and I honestly am so happy for Warner POV chapters because he is bae. So yeah, if you loved the previous books, you need to read this one. And then you can join me in the corner as we wait impatiently for the next book.

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Audible - Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository

Monday, 19 March 2018

Batch Reviews #1

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I wanted to try a new format where I write smaller reviews for books but include it all in one post for you all. Here are some books I've been reading lately. I decided to break it up with 5 books per post, so please let me know what you think of the formatting! 

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 336

My Review: I bought this book when it first came out but when I moved, I didn't take a lot of my books with me. A copy of this is currently in a box at my mom's house but I felt a strong need to read it after having read Albertalli's other book and loving it. There is also going to be a film adaptation of this called Love, Simon.. so I knew it was now or never. I opted for the audiobook version and Michael Crouch does an amazing job of bringing the characters to life. I really loved the email interactions between Jacques and Blue. I loved the idea of falling in love with someone for who they are. Their personality first, and looks after. The only thing that really bothered me about this book was one character: Martin. He had me raging every time I was listening to this book. Besides that, it is a lovely story about friendship, family, and coming out. I really loved Simon's story and I think everyone should pick this book up.

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Audible - Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 448

My Review: This book was Indigo's staff pick of the month a few months back and I had heard a few of my co-workers absolutely rave about this book. I was off thriller books for a bit because it was getting easier for me to guess them and honestly, I wasn't enjoying it as much anymore. I also find with thrillers that the protagonist is extremely unlikable. Not in this case though! Despite loving merlot and mixing her meds with alcohol when she shouldn't, I really liked Anna as a character and learning more about her. There were so many twists and turns that I definitely didn't see coming. I also really liked how fast paced the book was. Overall, I really enjoyed this thriller and would highly recommend it for fans of Clare Macintosh!

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Audible - Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: March 20, 2018
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 304

My Review: First of all, look at this absolutely beautiful cover. I have to admit that this is what first drew me in before the premise. I was really excited to read this book because after loving THUG, I wanted something similar to that. The story follows Marvin and his twin Tyler. I really liked the dynamics of the twins so it was nice to see that story unfold. Unfortunately, after a night at a party, Tyler goes missing, only for Marvin and his family to learn later that Tyler was murdered by a white policeman. The book is incredibly timely with the race relations and political climate happening in the states. This book made me angry and sad, and definitely had me crying on a few occasions. Police brutality is very much present and this depiction of it was incredibly powerful. I think it would be a great book for fans of THUG, but also something to use in the classroom when discussing political issues. The story also has a nice focus on applying for universities, friendship, and family.

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received an e-galley of this book from Hachette Book Group. All opinions are my own. 


The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: March 20, 2018
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 480

My Review: THIS BOOK Oh my goodness, what a book. I must admit that in the beginning, it was a little bit difficult for me to get into. It has been a while since I've read a book with magical realism elements, but once I got used to the formatting of switching back from present day to past, and then smoke and mirrors moments, it got easier to get into the story. This book follows Leigh, who travels to Taiwan after her mother's suicide to learn about why her mother was estranged from her parents, but also because Leigh is convinced her mom became a bird and she must speak with her. The same day her mother killed herself is also the same day she finally kissed the boy she loved. There's a lot of flashbacks about her relationship with Axel, so you get to learn about that relationship, but also at the same time, learn about her mother. It was heart-wrenching at times because the depiction of depression really hit close to home. I loved learning more about Leigh's family, and seeing her interactions with her grandparents. It is a stunning story about family, love, and grief. It reminded me Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You The Sun for the art components of the book, but most of all, the magical realism aspects reminded me of Haruki Murakami. This is a wonderful debut novel and I can't wait to see what Pan writes next!

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received an e-galley of this book from Hachette Book Group. All opinions are my own. 

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella (✮✮✮ - 3/5 stars)
Publishing Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Pages: 432

My Review: As some of you may know, I've been reading Kinsella books for a while now and I really enjoyed her last one so much. When I heard she was coming out with a new one, I was so excited. Right around Valentine's Day too. Although this had the quirk characters that I know and love from Kinsella, and absolutely hilarious, ridiculous moments, something in the story fell short with me. I really liked Sophie as the main character, but I wasn't entirely sold on Dan. With every other book she's written, it was easy to see why the protagonist loved a certain character, because you as the reader also fell in love with that character. Dan was hard to read at times for me. However, I liked that the story focused on the after of falling in love, and how to "stay in love." It touches on marriage and how it can't always be easy, so I liked that it felt authentic. It did wrap up nicely in the end, with all the loose ends tied up. I just expected more from the text. This isn't her best one for me, but I think if you are married and can relate to the subject matter, you would definitely enjoy it.

Available for purchase:
Chapters/Indigo - Kobo - Amazon - Audible - Kindle - Book Depository

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Blog Tour: A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena - Review and Author Q&A

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena 

Publishing Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
Pages: 384
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She's also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school. You don't want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that" (FSG).

My overall thoughts and review: When I first read the premise for this book, I was instantly intrigued because 1) it had a mystery component to it because immediately, Zarin, the protagonist ends up dead in a car crash, and 2) I love that the setting was Saudi Arabia and I wanted to learn more about the culture. This book did not disappoint. It was incredibly timely, beautifully written, and it hurt in the best possible way. It can be a real eye-opener for some readers, but also I feel like it reaffirms a lot as well. Especially with things that have been going on in the media recently with sexual allegations, it deconstructs the "boys will be boys" narrative. It's an incredibly sad turning point in our culture where things like consent still need to be addressed. But, I'm grateful for books like this because Bhathena highlights and reaffirms the problematic societal norms. Bhathena doesn't shy away from taboo topics. Regardless of cultural background, a lot of what is covered topic wise is relatable. Bhathena touches on gender issues, body image, sexuality, rape culture, cultural norms, and family dynamics. The story is told in a really interesting way because immediately the reader learns that Zarin passes away, and the story is told backwards in chronological order leading up to the events of Zarin and Porus' death. The story is told from various perspectives which I really enjoyed, even if some of them were difficult to read (Farhan's perspectives often made my stomach turn). None of the characters are perfect, and I really liked that even though you empathize with Zarin and Porus, you can see that they are incredibly flawed as well. There's an emphasis on assumptions and generalizations, and how rumors work. Even though, we learn that Zarin is so much more than 'a girl like that'.. when her death came, I cried so much. I really loved her as a character despite some of her questionable choices. Overall, I really loved this book. I always find it difficult to write a long review for books I really love because I don't want to say too much that would spoil what happens. Even though you know the end, there are lot of things that ended up surprising me along the way. If you pick up any book this year, please let it be this one. It's so well-written and I think any reader would enjoy it. It's definitely worth the heartache you'll feel afterwards, and Zarin's story will definitely linger with you a long while after you finish reading it.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Author Question and Answer
Q: You wrote various perspectives for this book: Zarin, Mishal, Porus, and Farhan. Which perspective was your favorite to write and why? 
Zarin was my favorite, without question. She was very different from me in personality, but she shared my religious and cultural background; she was funny and sarcastic. I was writing a short story collection at the time and Zarin’s story was the first I ever wrote. When the collection didn’t sell five years later, Zarin’s story is the one I went back to and to my surprise found that her voice still came to me just as easily as it did the first time.

Don't forget to swing by the other stops on the blog tour and check out more content from Tanaz and my fellow Canadian book bloggers! Many thanks to Tanaz for stopping by and the lovely folks at Raincoast Books for organizing this awesome blog tour!

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Raincoast Books for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own.