A New All Time Favourite // ARC Review: Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk

Title: Blood And Sand
Author: C.V.Wyk
Publication Date:January 17th 2018 
Publisher: Tor Teen (Macmillan)
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1 on 2 of the Blood and Sand Duology
I Got A Copy Through: Macmillan Intl (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon US || Barnes and Noble || The Book Depository || Wordery || Foyles || Kobo || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: FORGED IN BATTLE...FROM THE DUST OF THE ARENA...A LEGEND WILL RISE
The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic―and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus...
For teens who love strong female protagonists in their fantasy and historical fiction, Blood and Sand is a stirring, yet poignant tale of two slaves who dared take on an empire by talented debut author C. V. Wyk.
Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire―an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.
Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.
Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end―and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus...
The story continues in Fire and Ash, coming in 2019 from Tor Teen. 

WELL HELLO NEW ADDITION TO MY FAVOURITE BOOKS EVER LIST.

Let’s be honest – you can hear all kinds of GREAT things about a book through hype or from your favourite reviewers, but everybody’s reading experience is personal. Which is why, despite ONLY having read four and five star reviews about Blood and Sand, I was a little skeptical going in. (I’m skeptical about everything, though. #PessimistLife)

And yet, C.V. Wyk’s debut novel BLEW MY MIND and had me SERIOUSLY INVESTED in her characters and at the edge of my seat, waiting for more.

Which reminds me, IF SOMEONE COULD KINDLY HAND ME THE SEQUEL NOW, IT WOULD BE MUCH APPRECIATED. HONESTLY.

Let’s break this down. MY THOUGHTS:

1.       The pace of this book was STUNNING. It was fast paced but not brutal and there was never a dull moment. I loved who C.V. Wyk unravelled and created this world, made us fall for her characters and their need to be free from their chains and IT WAS SUCH AN INSPIRING, WONDEROUS, BRILLIANT STORY.



2.       I ABSOLUTELY LOVED ATTIA AND HER WARRIOR SPIRIT. She was truly an epic, unafraid, weapon wielding badass who let absolutely NOTHING stand in her way and nothing dampen who she was. Her pain was raw, her healing from her tragedy was beautiful and GOD SHE WAS JUST SUCH A WONDEROUS CHARACTER TO FALL IN LOVE WITH.

3.       This book was set in Rome and there were Gladiator brothers, scandals, politics, slaves and everything FELT SO AUTHENTIC AND YET, there was no brutality, making this book suitable for younger readers as well. Also, SPARTACUS WAS FEMALE. THIS BOOK HAD A FEMALE BADASS REBEL AND UGH IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL.  
 
4.       The fierce undefeated gladiator, Xanthus, who is also the Champion of Rome was an ADORABLE MUFFIN AT HEART and it took me all of one chapter in his point of view to fall for him. I LOVED HIS PEACEFUL SPIRIT, HIS LOYALTY and most of all, HIS RESPECTFULNESS TOWARDS ATTIA. Yes for boys in literature that show that nothing is MORE IMPORTANT THAN CONSENT.

5.       The ending, the last scene and WHAT IT ALL MEANS FOR BOOK TWO was mind blowing. I also don’t THINK that a certain aspect of the ending will remain in book two and I’m really hoping for that.

6.       The only minus point to this book was the AMOUNT OF SECONDARY CHARACTERS (like Xanthus’ gladiator brothers) that were introduced so fast, I didn’t get to know them and I BARELY remember their names. (There was a dude with ‘a’ and another with ‘I’? I don’t KNOW?)

Should you read this book?! YES. RIGHT NOW. GO. READ. IT.


An absolute masterpiece from a debut author that will make you fall in love, make you hope, leave you in awe and inspired by it's wonderful cast. 5 GLOWING, SWORD SHAPED STARS.

C.V. Wyk
C.V. Wyk is the author of BLOOD AND SAND, debuting from Tor Teen in winter 2018. Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Wyk now resides on the east coast along with a precocious mini poodle and demanding guinea pig. 

In her not-so-spare time, she enjoys playing MMORPGs, kayaking, coding, hiking, staring listlessly at blank walls, and nursing a totally healthy coffee addiction. 

Find Wyk online at www.cvywyk.com.
What are some of your favourite historical fantasies?
Blood and Sand is already the SECOND Roman Inspired fantasy I've read this year and I've LOVED both of them. 
Do you have any more recommendations for me?
Whatt have some of your favourite 2018 books been?
 

An Essential Book For Girls Everywhere // ARC Review: The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

Title: The Nowhere Girls
Author: Amy Reed
Publication Date: October 10th 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Simon Pulse via Netgalley (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon US || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Kobo || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.
Who are the Nowhere Girls?
They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:
Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.
Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.
Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.
When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.
Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.
This book was heart-breaking and STUNNING and really dealt with rape and privilege and even feminism in the midst of it all and I was CRYING by the time I reached the end because I haven’t had a book make me feel and think as much as The Nowhere Girls did in a WHILE.

THE NOWHERE GIRLS IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT BOOK FOR GIRLS EVERYWHERE. It’s uplifting, real, heart-breaking and filled with girl power. The story itself is centred on girls from different ethnic and economic backgrounds as well as just girls with different personalities. In fact, most of the chapters are told from the point of view of ‘Us’ – that is, all these different and wonderful girls and IT WAS SO TOUCHING.

MY THOUGHTS:

Image result for the nowhere girls quotes
Graphic from Never Too Many To Read
1.       Before we go any further, this book might contain a lot of triggers from someone who is a victim of abuse, so TRIGGER WARNINGS: Rape, sexual and physical assault, sexual harassment and panic attacks.

2.       This book was INTENSE. Not only the story itself, but the descriptions that came along with it – from what all the girls banding together felt and thought to the descriptions of the abuse itself. It didn’t let up, because it was tackling such an important issue and I really appreciated the intensity.

Graphic from Never Too Many To Read
   3.       The first character we’re introduced to is Grace Salter, who is an empathetic girl that is pretty much left to her own devices who lives in the room of a girl who was raped and run out of town. Her viewpoint is harrowing and I loved the growth she went through in this book.

4.       Erin, the second girl we’re introduced to, has Asperger’s. I love that we got to know Erin outside of where she stood on the spectrum, as well as about her disease. We see how she views life and relationships and everything about her was wonderfully done.

5.       I’m still on the fence as to how I feel about the third girl – Rosina. I felt for her, definitely, but I didn’t connect with her.
Graphic from Never Too Many To Read

6.       Like I said in the beginning, though we were introduced to the world from these three girls’ viewpoints, a LOT of the book was told from the Viewpoint of “Us.” Us stands for all the girls that are a part of the town, facing different battles in their lives. They talked about double standards, choice, reputation, beliefs, experiences and SO MUCH MORE. Honestly, reading this book from an “Us” perspective made me CONNECT. It made this book heart-wrenchingly read and it broke me.

The Nowhere Girls is probably one of the MOST IMPORTANT BOOKS OUT THERE FOR TEENAGE GIRLS because it tackles the rape culture, patriarchy, double standards and misogyny and in the centre of it all, shows you how powerful girls standing by each other can be.


I could not recommend it more. This should be on all essential reading lists. 
Amy ReedAmy Reed was born and raised in and around Seattle, where she attended a total of eight schools by the time she was eighteen. Constant moving taught her to be restless and being an only child made her imagination do funny things. After a brief stint at Reed College (no relation), she moved to San Francisco and spent the next several years serving coffee and getting into trouble. She eventually graduated from film school, promptly decided she wanted nothing to do with filmmaking, returned to her original and impractical love of writing, and earned her MFA from New College of California. Her short work has been published in journals such as Kitchen Sink, Contrary, and Fiction. Amy currently lives in Oakland with her husband and two cats, and has accepted that Northern California has replaced the Pacific Northwest as her home. She is no longer restless. Find out more at amyreedfiction.com.

BEAUTIFUL is her first novel.
 
What are some of the more REAL books you've read?
Have you read other feminist centred books where Rape and the Patriarchy are taken on by Girls Banding Together?
If you've read more books like this, I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS.
 

Stacking The Shelves #37 - The One Where I Should Start Studying Instead of Typing This Post

*waves rapidly and awkwardly*

I'm SUPPOSED to be studying for my exam tomorrow morning but this class NEVER FAILS IN PUTTING ME TO SLEEP and all the content is just so DRY and I am procrastinating my time away. I have FOUR exams over the next THREE days and I am not prepared for any of them. ALSO, I HAVE SUBMISSIONS RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE. #CollegeIsKillingMe.

Which brings me to this moment where I decided to ignore all of the above and simply type out a blog post that was supposed to be out yesterday! (Yes, my life is a mess)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted at Tyga's Reviews (that I always forget to link up to) and is all about ALL THE BOOKS you received that week. Let's begin:

Blood and SandFOR REVIEW: 

From Macmillan International: 

1. Blood and Sand by C.V.Wyk: I JUST finished reading this book yesterday and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. C.V.Wyk's debut novel has made it onto my ALL TIME FAVOURITE LIST because HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK WAS GOOD. It had all the right elements, was brilliantly paced, had great characterization and a SHOCKING ENDING that makes me want the sequel NOW.

Public Service Announcement: GET YOUR COPY OF THIS BOOK NOW.
The Brightsiders

2. The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde: Let's just call Jen Wilde QUEEN OF BOOKS WITH GIRLS THAT HAVE AMAZING HAIR, because I LOVE THIS COVER. This is all about a rock star drummer, the scandals she can't avoid and her gender-queer love interest. I CANNOT WAIT TO DIVE IN.

Suitors and SabotageMore than the hair, HOW PRETTY IS THAT LIPSTICK. (Oh, Jen also wrote Queens of Geek, which I LOVE)

3. Suitors and Sabotage by Cindey Antsey: I will currently be accepting any and all congratulations' on my evolution towards adult romances from YA ones because I'M GOING TO BE WENTY IN EIGHT MONTHS (freak out) The minute I read the synopsis for Cindy Antsey's Suitors and Sabotage, I KNEW I WANTED TO READ IT. It's about an architect and an aspiring artist in Victorian London and, in all honesty, is probably going to be my next read.

Zenith (The Androma Saga, #1)From Harper Collins India: 


1. Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings: If you don't already know it, I AM OBSESSED WITH BOOKS SET IN SPACE. I initially heard reviews RAVING about how good Zenith was and I put it on my TBR and when the lovely folks at Harper India sent it to me, I picked it up as soon as I could. I really liked some parts, but the pacing of the book could DEFINITELY have been better. You can read my review here.

LayoverFrom Penguin Random House International: 

1. Layover by Emily Meyer and Amy Andelson: Honestly, I requested this book PURELY BECAUSE THIS COVER IS TOO GORGEOUS FOR WORDS. Also, I've never read a book centered in an airport before (with the exception of those movie endings where someone just happens to be leaving) and I'm quite excited to dive in!

AGAIN, HOW GORGEOUS IS THIS COVER?!
This Tiny Perfect World

From Edelweiss: 

1. This Tiny Perfect World by Lauren Gibaldi: AGAIN, HOW ABSOLUTELY PERFECT IS THIS COVER? Why are covers so gorgeous? Scholarships, Theatre, Cute Boys and A BEAUTIFUL EXTERIOR. I am so excited.

I received this book as a part of my tour stop on the FFBC Blog Tour and a huge thank you to the FFBC and Harper Teen for getting me this book

What books have you stacked onto your shelves over the last week
Have you read any of my new books/ are you excited for any of them?
I'd ABSOLUTELY love to hear from you!

Adorable Modern Indian Romances // REVIEW: Love in Lutyens' Delhi by Amitabh Pandey

Title: Love In Lutyens' Delhi
Author: Amitabh Pandey
Publication Date: December 28th 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan India
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: PanMacmillan India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Snapdeal || Infibeam || Kobo || Google Books
Blurb Description: 'Akriti ‘Akku’ Patel and Sanjay ‘Sanju’ Saran become friends in kindergarten, lovers in college, and then hit the real world. With bureaucrats for parents, Sanju’s world is one of power, privilege and entitlement. Akku, on the other hand, is brought up by a single mother – a distinguished surgeon widowed very young – and an aunt who is a smart and sassy books editor with commitment problems.Sanju’s mind is in turmoil as he chooses to abandon his dreams and, like his parents, looks to the Civil Services for what he thinks will be a meaningful career. Meanwhile, Akku, armed with a BTech from IIT, is jetting off to a land of systems design and fun-loving computer geniuses.Can their love survive these growing differences? Or will the compulsions of Lutyens’ Delhi stand in the way of their togetherness?
I love best friend romances. I haven’t said it in a while, but they are my Achilles’ heel of all tropes in contemporary books.

Which is why, when I received an unsolicited copy of Love in Lutyens’ Delhi from Pan Macmillan India, I knew I would DEFINITELY be diving into it. On top of the storyline, this book has SUCH a pretty cover and I’ve fallen in love with it (EEEK!)

I have two exams tomorrow, and submissions as well and yet, I dove into this book today and finished it in little over an hour. It was a cute, different book that really highlighted modern Indian culture and the lives Millenials live. There were a few things I didn’t like as well, so let’s get into that:

THINGS I LIKED:

1.       THE DIFFERENT LOVE STORIES: When I read the synopsis of this book, I honestly expected it to revolve around JUST the two protagonists and their love story, but what I got was a look into Akriti’s (the female protagonist’s) aunt’s and mother’s ULTRA ADORABLE love stories as well, and I absolutely loved their sisterhood, their co-parenting and their romantic lives.

2.       THE ALTERNATING VIEW POINTS: I really liked the way this book was told – through emails, narration and also alternating viewpoints. It really showed you the lives of four different characters at different parts in their lives and I LOVED READING IT ALL.
Image result for love in lutyens delhi

3.       THE COVER AND THE PLOT: Like I said before, HOW PRETTY IS THIS COVER? It’s simple and yet so cheerful and I LOVE IT. I also love the very idea behind the plot – three love stories from a mother, daughter and aunt. Each is truly a different person and you get a whole backstory for each of them and it was SUCH fun to read.

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE:

1.       THE STRUCTURE // NON LINEAR TIMELINE: This didn’t bother me that much because the book was SO SMALL, but the structure of the book was non-linear, flipping from past to present and fast-forwarding without any warning and it threw me off a little. I don’t mind non-linear books AT ALL, but I do like timelines put into them such as “23 years ago” or something like that.

2.       THE SIZE: Heard the phrase, ‘I like big books and I cannot lie?’ WELL, THAT IS ME WITH THIS BOOK. I finished this book in a little over an HOUR and while I liked the characters and the plot and the love interests, by the time I closed the book, I WAS CRAVING MORE because I felt like the book had just started and it was already over. I NEEDED THIS BOOK TO BE BIGGER.


So. That’s it. If you’re looking for an adorable Indian romance that also happens to be a quick read, make sure to get your hands on Love on Lutyens’ Delhi. The love stories are ADORABLE and REALISTIC and filled with problems all of us face as millennials and I LOVED IT. 4 stars. 
Image result for amitabh pandeyAmitabh Pandey studied Economics at St. Stephen’s College, and the Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University. He taught Economics at an undergraduate college of Delhi University and then joined the Indian Railways where he worked for twenty-four years, during the course of which he conceptualized, implemented and managed the Railways online ticket reservation system (http://irctc.co.in) at the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. In 2007, Amitabh shifted to the private sector and spent five years building business software. Amitabh now lives in Noida. His first book, Himalayan White, was published by HarperCollins India (2016).
What are some of your favourite romantic books?
Who are some of your favourite Indian Fictional Characters?
I'd love to hear from you!
 

A Whirlwind Start to a Space Saga // REVIEW: Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Title: Zenith (The Androma Saga #1)
Author: Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings
Publication Date: January 12th 2018
Publisher: HQ Young Adult
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1/2 of the Androma Saga
I Got A Copy Through: Harper Collins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || The Book Depository || Wordery || Infibeam || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Kobo || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she's just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.
But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder's all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi's past.
Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.
Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their shipor just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted
If you don’t know it already, I LOVE BOOKS SET IN SPACE. I love spaceships, the inventions, the villains – EVERYTHING. Which is why, the minute I heard about Zenith, I knew it was a book I would be diving into.

Within less than a week of having it on my TBR, I reached for this book, unable to keep myself from the adventure in space it no doubt held for me. Before I dive into my thoughts on Zenith, I’d like to thank the lovely folks over at Harper Collins India for sending me an ARC of this book.

Image result for zenith bookMY THOUGHTS:

1.       An all-girl criminal space crew called the Mauraders trapped in a dangerous mission where all the things they’ve been running from come out to play? THIS SYNOPSIS EXCITED ME SO MUCH. I was so eager to meet Androma Racella and the rest of her crew.

2.       Unlike the resistance I feel with most Sci-Fi and fantasy books, I managed to slip right into Zenith’s world, and all of the Mirabel Galaxy. I did find a little hard to picture where each solar system was in the galaxy without a map in my ARC but I got used to it quite quickly.

3.       I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THAT THIS BOOK WAS TOLD FROM SO MANY VIEWPOINTS. I definitely would have enjoyed it less if it had been told just from Androma’s viewpoint because this book had so many different and interesting characters like Dex, Lira, Nor and Valen and reading through their points of view really let me get to know them.
Image result for zenith sasha alsberg quotes 
4.       While the book started off REALLY well, it sort of lagged in the middle. I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that the story was dragging and that there were a lot of scenes that could have been cut away from this book. I wish it had been MORE action filled like Nyxia or The Illuminae Files.

5.       THE ENDING OF THIS BOOK, AND A CERTAIN TWIST THAT WAS REVEALED WAS MIND BLOWING. I don’t think I’ve fully processed what it all meant and what the very last scene means for the Galaxy as a whole but I LOVED THE ENDING. It was what I expected the whole book to be paced like.

6.       While I liked all the characters, I didn’t connect with any one of them SPECIFICALLY. They were all nice and I liked the unravelling of their past, there was nobody that I felt that certain kinship with, and I hope that changes with book two.

A WONDERFUL start to a saga set in space, and I can’t wait to see where this series takes me next. 4 stars.
Lindsay CummingsLindsay Cummings is the #1 NYT Bestselling co-author of ZENITH, along with her duology, THE MURDER COMPLEX from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, and the MG trilogy THE BALANCE KEEPERS, from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. She is represented by Pete Knapp at Park Literary in NYC.

Lindsay deals with chronic fatigue, writes full time from her home in the deep woods in North Texas, and loves to chat with fellow book nerds. Lindsay created the #booknerdigans hashtag.

She's still waiting on her letter from Hogwarts--it was probably just lost in the mail. You can follow Lindsay on twitter @authorlindsayc or on instagram @authorlindsaycummings

Sasha Alsberg

Sasha Alsberg is the #1 NYT Bestselling Co-Author of ZENITH: The Androma Saga.

When Sasha is not writing or obsessing over Scotland she is making YouTube videos on her channel Abookutopia. She lives in Northern Texas with her dog, Fraser.
For her writing, she is represented by Joanna Volpe at New Leaf Literary and is represented on YouTube by Brian Lieberman at Studio71. 

Have you read Zenith? What did you think of it?
What are some of your favourite books set in space? Are you a fan of the genre?
I would love to hear from you!
 

Dessert, Poetry & An Unflinching Take on the Partition of India // REVIEW: That Thing We Call A Heart by Sheba Karim

Title: That  Thing We Call A Heart
Author: Sheba Karim
Publication Date: January 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury India
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Bloomsbury India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || The Book Depository || Wordery || Kobo || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Shabnam Qureshi is a funny, imaginative Pakistani-American teen attending a tony private school in suburban New Jersey. When her feisty best friend, Farah, starts wearing the headscarf without even consulting her, it begins to unravel their friendship. After telling a huge lie about a tragedy that happened to her family during the Partition of India in 1947, Shabnam is ready for high school to end. She faces a summer of boredom and regret, but she has a plan: Get through the summer. Get to college. Don’t look back. Begin anew.
Everything changes when she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack, and meets her there every afternoon. Shabnam begins to see Jamie and herself like the rose and the nightingale of classic Urdu poetry, which, according to her father, is the ultimate language of desire. Jamie finds Shabnam fascinating—her curls, her culture, her awkwardness. Shabnam finds herself falling in love, but Farah finds Jamie worrying. 
With Farah’s help, Shabnam uncovers the truth about Jamie, about herself, and what really happened during Partition. As she rebuilds her friendship with Farah and grows closer to her parents, Shabnam learns powerful lessons about the importance of love, in all of its forms.
Featuring complex, Muslim-American characters who defy conventional stereotypes and set against a backdrop of Radiohead’s music and the evocative metaphors of Urdu poetry, THAT THING WE CALL A HEART is a honest, moving story of a young woman's explorations of first love, sexuality, desire, self-worth, her relationship with her parents, the value of friendship, and what it means to be true.
There are certain books out there that you instantly connect with, and That Thing We Call a Heart is one of them. Sheba Karim’s unflinchingly real world resonated with me, so much so that I couldn’t put it down and read the whole thing within a few hours.

With honest, light writing, That Thing We Call a Heart masterfully tackles Islamism, what it means to be Muslim, first love, friendship and coming of age with a diverse cast and special focus on the Partition of India and Pakistan.

Like Shabnam, I too have relatives – both my maternal and paternal grandparents, actually – that survived the partition when they were just children, and I’ve grown up hearing the stories of their journey. Short history lesson: During the fight for independence, India was split into two countries – India and Pakistan for the Hindus and Muslims respectively. My Hindu family used to live on the land that today forms Pakistan and during the partition, had to leave behind their homes, their wealth and everything they knew to start afresh in India. The Partition is personal to me, and I love that this book handled it so masterfully, especially at the end.

Let’s break this down:

1.       That Thing We Call a Heart is a coming of age story narrated by Shabnam Qureshi during the summer between college and high school, and it deals expertly with what it means to be a Muslim, wear hijab, fall in love, grow with your family and the partition of India.

2.       My FAVOURITE character in this book was Shabnam’s best friend, Farah. She had an unflinching, unapologetic badass girl and I loved every minute of the book when she was in it. Here are some of the things she said that made me want to simply applaud her existence:

"I'm too Muslim for the non-Muslims, but not Muslim enough for the Muslims... but then I think, why does it matter what they think of me? I refuse to spend my life proving myself... I'm going to wear a headscarf and I'm going to pray and fast and I'm going to smoke ganja and I'm going to get into Harvard Medical School." 
"That's why guys get away with being shitheads, because their baseline is so goddamn low, even lower if they're cute. Oh, you'd never date rape me? Awesome! Oh, you actually listened to something I said without talking over me? You're such a great guy!"


3.       The Partition, through Shabnam’s great uncle was handled SO beautifully. It had me feeling, and remembering my grandparent’s recollections of their experience, which no book to date has ever made me do.

4.       YES FOR ALL KINDS OF GREAT DESSERTS SHOWING UP IN THIS BOOK, including donuts and pies because WE NEED MORE FOOD IN BOOKS. #Foodie

5.       I love LOVED Shabnam’s relationship with her parents and how it was developed through the book. Though it took me longer than one summer, I too didn’t have the best relationship with my parents years ago and we’ve worked on it and today, we’re open and honest with each other about pretty much everything, and I loved the development in this book.

6.       EXTRA POINTS FOR ALL THE GORGEOUS TRANSLATED URDU POETRY IN THIS BOOK. I’ve been gravitating towards poetry more and more recently, and I loved all the excerpts and references in That Thing We Call a Heart.

7.       I honestly haven’t begin to cover what this book made me feel, because it DID. It was authentic and real and it resonated with me and I can only implore you to experience the magic too.

If you’re looking for your next beautifully done diverse book, THIS IS THE ONE FOR YOU. 4.5 Stars.
Sheba KarimMy first young adult novel was Skunk Girl.  My second young adult novel, That Thing We Call a Heart, was named one of Kirkus Reviews’ ten Best Contemporary Teen Reads of 2017 as well as one of the Best Teen Books of 2017 with a Touch of Humor.  It features complex, Muslim-American characters who defy conventional stereotypes and is set against a backdrop of Radiohead’s music and the evocative metaphors of Urdu poetry.  You can read more about it hereMy third YA novel, Mariam Sharma Hits the Road, which follows the misadventures of three South Asian American best friends as they embark upon a road trip through the South, is out June 2018 from Harper Collins. I am represented by Ayesha Pande Literary
I was raised in the lovely land of Rip Van Winkle, went to college in Philly, spent a long time living in New York City, a shorter time living in New Delhi and am now based in Nashville, TN
What are some of the best diverse books you've read recently?
What are some of the best Desi Movies/ Characters you've seen in fiction?
I'd ABSOLUTELY Love to hear from you!