Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2018 (So Far!)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is Best Reads of 2018 (So Far!). I’ve read a lot of amazing books this year so this list was difficult to make, but it reminded me of just how many amazing books I’ve come across recently!

10.) Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

This is a truly nerdy book, and the fact that it takes place in the area where I live and grew up made this book a really fun read for me!

9.) The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno  

This one was recommended by my friend Silly Little Ravenclaw for its excellent Dissociative Identity Disorder rep, and it did not disappoint!

8.) Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White by Michael Tisserand

A fantastic biography of an excellent comics artist, this book was probably the best nonfiction book I’ve read in quite a while.

7.) American Panda by Gloria Chao

Funny, relatable, and absolutely charming, this book hit on so many early adulthood notes that felt so true to me.

6.) Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

I came to this book for the cats, and I stayed for the mental illness rep. This comic was so relatable and funny, and I definitely read it at the right time.

5.) Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Talk about a gut-punch. This book hurts to read, but it’s cathartic at the same time, and it’s well worth it.

4.) You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon 

This is another one of those books that hurts to read, and it is so, so worth it. The sibling and family relationships in this book make it truly something special.

3.) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

I was on the waitlist at the library for this book for nearly half a year because of how many good things I’d heard about it, and it was worth the wait. Wow. Just wow.

2.) Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

This book felt personal to me for a number of reasons, from the characters to the writing. This is one of the books I most frequently recommend to others, for sure.

1.) Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

I have a thing for books that hurt me, apparently. This book hurts. It hurts BAD. And it’s just perfect.

What are some of your favorite reads of 2018 so far? Does your list overlap with mine at all? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: Love, Hate and Other Filters

Author: Samira Ahmed

Category: YA Contemporary

Publisher/Date: Soho Teen/16 January 2018

Edition: ebook

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31207017-love-hate-other-filters

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Love-Other-Filters-Samira-Ahmed/dp/1616958472/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-hate-and-other-filters-samira-ahmed/1126270823?ean=9781616958473#/

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

This book has content warnings for racism (not condoned), Islamophobia (not condoned), terrorism, and physical assault.

Love, Hate and Other Filters took my heart out of my chest. I could not think about any other books for days after reading this one — not nearly as deeply anyways. This was such a strong book, and the beautiful writing left me craving Samira Ahmed’s next one.

What really sold me about this book was the complexity with which Maya and her parents were written. Maya herself is a rather non-conservative Indian Muslim teenager who isn’t fully invested in tradition and wants to forge her own path by going to film school in New York for college. At the same time, she really cares about what her parents think and worries a lot about whether she’ll be disappointing them. Her parents are much more conservative Muslims who immigrated to the United States, and they themselves are struggling with their own identities because they immigrated to get away from certain strict traditions and yet others are core to their beliefs and being. They really struggle with how much of their traditions they want to impose on Maya because they want her to be more traditional like they are, but at the same time they know that she is a person who wants to make her own life, like they did when they immigrated.

There was no doubt in my mind that Maya and her parents deeply cared for each other. I don’t think that the decisions either of them made were easy ones; Maya wanted to please them, but at the same time she didn’t want to live her life for them — she wanted to live it for herself. After the terrorism incident and the targeting the three of them went through, it’s also understandable that keeping Maya safe was a top priority for her parents. Neither point of view was presented as more right than the other; there are thoughts of regret and sadness that come into play after their interactions, and they do come to understand each other somewhat. I really loved how her parents weren’t demonized; it felt like they were being unfair at times, but Maya did come to understand why they were the way they were. They weren’t blamed; they weren’t blameless, but it wasn’t all placed on their shoulders. I really admired this, and I think Ahmed did a great job of making these characters feel well-rounded.

I also really loved seeing Maya struggling with some parts of her identity while still being secure in others. She LOVES film — it’s a core part of her being. It’s a passion that transcends every part of her life, and it’s something that she can’t live without. I loved her confidence when it came to her craft; she knew that it was what she wanted, beyond a shadow of a doubt. At the same time, she struggled with herself as a Muslim teen, as an Indian teen, and as an American teen, and figuring out how her identities worked together was a struggle for her. There was so much complexity and depth in her character, and I loved seeing her be so sure about something when large parts of the rest of her were seemingly falling apart.

The terrorism aspects are heavy in this book — Maya and her parents face real threats and real danger after a terrorism attack happens elsewhere in the country, and it’s heavy and scary. The heavy elements of the book also paired nicely with the lighter aspects like the romance in the book and Maya’s relationships with her best friend and her free-spirited aunt. There was a complexity in the tone that I really loved; it had a lot of depth to it that really made the book special.

I know it’s only the start of February, but this is one of my favorite books of 2018 so far. It’s close to my heart, and I am so happy that I got to read it.

Final rating: 5 of 5 stars

January 2018 Wrap-up!

So, I just want to start off this post with a few stats:

  • Number of posts in January: 20 (including this one)
  • Number of review posts in January: 7
  • Number of non-review posts in January: 13 (including this one)
  • Number of non-review posts in January that have an exclamation point in the title: 8 (including this one…)

I may need to cool it on the exclamation points just a BIT.

Anyways, this was a big blogging month for me. For a large part of the month before school hit me hard, I was posting daily, and even after that I managed to post at least twice a week. Considering how sparsely I’d been posting through all of 2017 despite starting this blog in January of last year, I feel like I’ve done a great job of getting myself in more of a routine with blogging. I still need to work on that, but it’s a start. In January 2018 alone, I almost doubled both the number of posts I’ve written AND how many page views I’ve gotten on the blog — doubling my stats from the entirety of last year. My blog is still really small, but that felt like a huge accomplishment.

Reads for January

This was a big reading month for me, too! Here’s all I read in January:

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp — 3.5 of 5 stars — review here!

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson — 4 of 5 stars — For class, so one of my only permitted rereads. Review here!

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo — 3 of 5 stars — review here!

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon — 5 of 5 stars — review here!

One Last Word by Nikki Grimes — 5 of 5 stars — an excellent poetry collection I read for class.

Hillary Rodham Clinton by Karen Blumenthal — 5 of 5 stars — a great biography with really nice writing.

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy — 4.5 of 5 stars — review here!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas — 5 of 5 stars — I was fortunate enough to have been assigned this book for class, so I got to bypass my “no rereads” policy to read it again. One of my favorites.

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed — 5 of 5 stars — one of my favorites of the month. Don’t pass this one up. Review forthcoming!

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth — 4 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Down In The Belly Of The Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles (ARC) — 1 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

See All The Stars by Kit Frick (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green (ARC) — 3 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding (ARC) — 4.5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Cat Encyclopedia for Kids by Joanne Mattern (ARC) — 3 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci — 2 of 5 stars — library book that fell flat for me. It was weird and I don’t even want to review it because I don’t care enough.

Krazy: George Herriman, A Life In Black And White by Michael Tisserand — 5 of 5 stars — wonderful biography of one of my favorite comics creators. Review forthcoming!

Queerly Loving #2 edited by G Benson and Astrid Ohletz (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars — a wonderful anthology of queer stories. Review forthcoming!

Reading stats:

  • Number of books read: 20
  • Number of books read during the 24 in 48 Readathon: 10
  • Number of nonfiction books: 3
  • Number of ARCs: 6
  • Number of books by marginalized authors: ~13
  • Number of books read for class: 6
  • Number of library books: 5

It’s worth noting that almost all of the books I read that weren’t by marginalized authors were either ARCs I received or books I read for class. I really like supporting marginalized authors, so I’m happy with that number.

I clearly have a lot of reviews I need to write still! This is largely because all of those books were either read during or right before the 24 in 48 Readathon, and if I’d been reviewing as I went during the readathon there was no way I could have finished it. It’s okay, though — you’ll see those reviews in the coming months!

On The Personal Side…

January was a pretty okay month for me. I took a few risks that were at least worth taking even if they don’t pay off, and I have some great ideas for new projects. I want to write a cute YA romance between two enbies, one who is very secure with who they are and one who is questioning her gender, and I also want to design an independent study course for the final term of my master’s degree on library resources for comics studies. I really hope that works out!

I am just a few short months away from graduating with my master’s, which is weird. This is my 20th consecutive academic year since I first started going to preschool in fall of ’98, and since I don’t currently have plans to get another degree after I finish this one, I’m looking at an actual break from academia for the first time in two decades starting in June. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. On the one hand, school is stressful, but on the other I don’t really know anything else.

February is the month where I hope that I can fine-tune my new plans for an actual blog post calendar, and the month where I hope to do more of my own writing. I want it to be a great month!

How was your January? Did you read anything you just adored? Do you have any cool February goals or plans?

January 2018 Preorders!

As I’d mentioned in a previous post, I’m going to be preordering books month-by-month this year so that I can keep better track of what I’m buying! I have preordered five books for January, and I’m really excited for them. Here’s what I’m getting!

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 2 January 2018
Format: Hardcover
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Youll-Miss-Me-When-Gone/dp/1481497731/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514630816&sr=1-1&keywords=you%27ll+miss+me+when+i%27m+gone

I’ve only been aware of this book’s existence for less than a week, and I am extremely excited about it. I love stories about sibling relationships, and this books explores the relationship between these twins as they grapple with love, their Jewish identities, and the potential threat Huntington’s disease. I can’t wait until this arrives this week!

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

bilg

Release date: 2 January 2018
Format: ebook
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Before-Let-Go-Marieke-Nijkamp/dp/1492642282/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514630861&sr=1-1&keywords=before+i+let+go

Friendship stories are also high on my list, and this story deals with the loss of a best friend and small town secrets surrounding her death. The MC is also asexual, there are several other queer characters in the book, and it also has mental illness rep, which sounds fantastic.

Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 16 January 2018
Format: ebook
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Love-Other-Filters-Samira-Ahmed/dp/1616958472/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514630717&sr=1-1&keywords=love+hate+and+other+filters

I have heard nothing but good things about this book, and it sounds wonderful. An Indian-American Muslim teen grapples with her personal life and future while coping with anti-Islam sentiments from her community spurred by a crime that happens elsewhere in the country. It’s a story about belonging and finding yourself, and I can’t wait to read it.

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 23 January 2018
Format: Hardcover
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Lets-Talk-About-Love-Claire/dp/1250136121/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514630765&sr=1-1&keywords=let%27s+talk+about+love

Who wants a love story featuring a Black, asexual, biromantic teen? I sure do! The cover is gorgeous, the story sounds fluffy and fun, and I cannot wait to dive into this one. (Additionally, I’m choosing to read this book for my YA resources class this term! The release timing is just right for reading it for a specific module, and I’m excited to discuss it with my classmates.)

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 23 January 2018
Format: Hardcover
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Reign-Fallen-Sarah-Glenn-Marsh/dp/0448494396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514794056&sr=8-1&keywords=reign+of+the+fallen

I was fortunate enough to get an eARC of this book, and I just adored it. Review coming soon, but just know that the MC is a bisexual necromancer and I love her.

 

Are you preordering any books for January? What new releases are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments!