Five Reasons To Read: Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga – A Stunning Story-In-Verse About Immigrating, Finding Yourself, and Being Muslim in America

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga.

Blurb:

I am learning how to be
sad
and happy
at the same time.

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

CW’s Review:

Have you ever read a book that made you just… roll in bed after finishing it, the book clutched to your chest, and just sighed deeply because the book was so achingly beautiful and hopeful? Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga is such a book, and it is one of my favourite books of 2019.

Told entirely in verse, Other Words for Home is a middle-grade book that follows Jude, a Muslim Syrian girl who, with her mother, escapes to America when things at home in Syria grow tense, violent, and uncertain. Separated from her beloved father and brother, this thoughtful story reflects on the changes in her life, on being apart from the ones you love and the ache of separation. However, it is also an emotional story about regrowing your roots finding yourself, and finding hope.

I firmly believe that everyone should read this book – even if you don’t read middle-grade, even if you don’t read books in verse. But, just in case you need some convincing, here are five reasons why I think you should read Other Words for Home.

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Five Reasons To Read: A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai – A Wholesome Story About Matchmaking, Desi Identity, and Friendship

A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai.

Blurb:

Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”

But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.

But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.

CW’s review:

When I learned about A Match Made in Mehendi earlier this year, learned that it was about an Indian-American teen and that the story would be about matchmaking and love? I knew I had to read it. And after reading a string of fantastic diverse young-adult contemporaries, I’ve unofficially dubbed this year as ‘The Year of Diverse YA Contemporaries’ – and A Match Made in Mehendi is perhaps the hidden gem in YA contemporary.

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Five Reasons To Read: An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon – A Brilliant and Unforgiving SFF Portrayal of Systemic Oppression Aboard a Generation Ship

An Unkindness of Ghosts, River Solomon.

I’m going to be frank with you. An Unkindness of Ghosts is stellar, hard-hitting, but absolutely brutal, honest in its depictions of systemic oppression and its machinations. Second, despite the importance of what this book explores and its insightful storytelling and worldbuilding, this book is not for everyone – or, requires some emotional and mental preparation before delving into this rich and dark story.

The story follows Aster, a lower-class healer that lives abroad the HSS Matilda, a colossal generation ship that is carrying the remnants of humanity to the ‘Promised Land’ after Earth’s decimations centuries ago. Following the mysterious death of their leader, Aster finds herself the key to this mystery – and may be the tinder that will ignite revolution within the spacecraft.

Before I tell you all why you should read this book, I also think it’s important for me to start with the caveats. Read More »

Five Reasons To Read: The Green Bones Saga by Fonda Lee – Love Asian-Inspired Fantasy, Gangster Family Dramas, and Martial Arts? (And Pain?) Read Jade City!

Left: Jade City, Fonda Lee; tagline: family is duty, magic is power, honor is everything. Right: Jade War, Fonda Lee; tagline: magic divides, power corrupts, family endures.

I know, I know. How could I be talking about Jade City again? Well, I am thrilled to inform you that I will never shut up about this series because it is my favourite series in existence.

Jade War, my new favourite book and the sequel to my then-favourite book of all time Jade City, is out today! Happy book birthday, Jade War! 🎂 I had the immense pleasure and privilege to read Jade War before its release (thanks to Fonda Lee for sending me an ARC!) and you read my glowing and 100% spoiler-free review of Jade War here!

But what if you have only just heard about this series or need more reasons to pick this up? What if you need motivation? Well, to celebrate the release of Jade War, here are give five awesome reasons you should pick up this heart-pounding and stellar series.

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Five Reasons To Read: An Ember in the Ashes Series – A Stunning YA Fantasy That Never Fails to Surprise, Excite, and Cause Immeasurable Pain

Text: An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir.

If you haven’t heard about this series, allow me to introduce to you this incredible YA high fantasy series: An Ember in the Ashes is a fantasy that follows Laia, a girl who agrees to spy for the rebellion in exchange for their help to free her brother, and Elias, a soldier of the Martial Empire who wants nothing more than to be free from the tyranny he’s been trained to enforce. Together, their destinies will collide, setting course for a whirlwind of a journey and challenges they would have never imagined.

I love this series immensely, and I have enjoyed every single book in this quartet, with each instalment getting better and better. Read More »