June wasn’t too bad of a reading month for me. I’m quite pleased that most of the books that I’ve read during this month were #OwnVoices diverse books, and almost all of those were Islamic books written by Muslima authors. There was also a bit of variety with my genres ranging from poetry to action & adventure, fantasy, science-fiction, and even some mystery!
BTOOOM #17 by Junya Inoue
The insanity of killings and intense scenarios of survival have been getting more and more crazy! Alliances are broken with new ones sprouting up like weeds. I love that the series maintains its supremely adrenaline racing pace, while plunging the plot forward with one twist and turn after another. I’m quite eager to see where the beginning of the new arc will take us next. 5/5. (Please note: this is an adult manga series with graphic depictions of violence, psychological themes, and sexual assault.)
Psycho-Pass: Inspector Shinya Kōgami #1 & #2 by Midori Gotu
This is a prequel seinen manga series for the anime series called Psycho-Pass, which is a cyberpunk crime fiction serial. The adventures of Inspector Kōgami’s life is the second set of prequel novels released for the anime, but the only one that’s been translated into English. The manga is very interesting because it provides us with a lot of perspective on the kind of detective that Kōgami was before he became the broody protagonist that we all know and love, or are annoyed with. His compassion and his personality are so much lighter, it’s kind of eerie to read. The story itself, while having an intriguing premise, unfolds a little slowly. When it does pick up speed, it’s choppy and somewhat confusing due to the artwork. The panels bounce between one setting and another without much of an explanation, or any realm of context, creating a small air of disorientation. If you’re a fan of the anime, then you will probably like this sequel companion because it really is interesting. Just know that the writing isn’t as fantastic as the show. 3/5 for both volumes.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
It’s been so long since I’ve read any kind of poetry. After the most painful break-up of my life, I didn’t have the heart to read it again. It always reminded me of her and what she meant to me, and how I had lost everything. But this year, I realised it’s time to move from my demons. I picked up this small 200-page collection and read it in about 30-45 minutes. So many of the poems resonated with me on such a personal level, mimicking some of my very own experiences. It made me emotional. It was haunting. It was quite extraordinary. Milk and Honey has reawakened my love for poetry, one I thought I’d never feel again. I’m so grateful for it. The book is not for everyone, however. A lot of the topics covered focus on abusive relationships, sexual abuse of children, and dysfunctional family dynamics. 5/5.
Map of Bones (Sigma Force #2) by James Rollins
The second novel in Rollins’ superbly written action-adventure series that revolves around a secret American government agency that hunts down treasures to protect the world from some really intense and unbelievable dangers. Since I’ve already written a full review for this book here, all I’ll say in my blurb is that this book took all of the issues I had with the first book and fixed it. The writing is better and more fluid. The characters have unique and fun personalities. The tension and suspense is brilliantly exhibited. 4.25/5.
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
An #OwnVoices Islamic young adult contemporary that is one of the best books that I have read all year! I’ve written a full review for Saints and Misfits here. But to keep it short, the tale follows a young girl named Janna Yusuf as she winds her way through adolescence with problems revolving friendships, first crushes, and an admirable member of her religious circle who tried to assault her. There is so much wisdom, wit, and humour in this book, while still maintaining an air of seriousness where it’s needed and called for, that I couldn’t help but blow through this in two sittings. It was positively wonderful. 4.75/5.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time by Yasutaka Tsutsui
The infamous anime film created by Mamoru Hosoda is an adaptation of this #OwnVoices Japanese science-fiction novella, and a much better one to boot as the book was a terrible disappointment. You can check out the full details on why the story was so unsatisfying here. Overall, it had a promising premise, but virtually nothing else to help support it. Between a severe lack of atmosphere-building, monotonous characters, and abrupt chapters, it left me feeling sad and hungry for far more meat than what was available. 2.25/5.
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
This #OwnVoices Pakistani-Islamic young adult novel was one of the most difficult books that I have read in a very, very long time. There were a lot of personal triggers for me, but I forced my way through the book. The subject matter is highly intense and emotionally rich with frustration, sadness, anger, and heartbreak as it follows a young girl named Naila who is literally forced into an arranged marriage after her parents take her back to Pakistan from Florida for a summer visit. I was conflicted with the book for numerous reasons. My full review is here. While I thought the writing was very mediocre and lacklustre in and of itself, I feel that the topic and motif of the story is vastly important. This is one of those rare instances where the subject matter is so vital and educational, that it makes it worth reading through the not-so-great writing. 2/5. (Please note the following triggers: Physical abuse. Psychological and emotional abuse (severe). Forced drug & substance abuse. Rape. Anxiety and panic triggering situations in relation to intense psychological trauma.)
God Smites & Other Muslims Girl Problems by Ishara Deen
This novel is an #OwnVoices Islamic young adult contemporary novel that was another fantastic experience for me this month! I managed to write a full review for this title as well, but overall it’s a story that revolves around a teenage girl named Asiya Haque. One day while being a delinquent and going through an innocent walk through the woods with her boy crush, they discover a dead body. Afterwards, he hastily disappears and Asiya is left with quite the mystery in her lap. The writing was so good! Asiya is an exquisitely charming character with wit and humour that helps to season what could’ve been a dark story with an engaging personality. Her mum can be slightly frustrating, but overall the book was a joy to read and devour. 4.25/5.
The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho
I picked this up after one of my favourite BookTubers shared it on her channel. It was a last minute read for me on the 30th of June. It’s a relatively small novella of approximately 50 pages, however. Within these mere handful of pages we get a story that’s more rich in execution than most full-length books, or even multi-volume fantasy sagas. The story revolves around the Chinese afterlife and a small family that resides in the underworld. When the husband takes a new terracotta bride, the implications that come to light are mind-blowing and stunningly engrossing. The pacing was slightly slow for my tastes, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. 3.75/5.