Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf (4/19/22)

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf!
Expected Release: April 19, 2022

Why wait on this one?

Love for a hijabi on the cover, please. And all the rest of how badass and pretty this cover is!!!
  • COMPETITIVE. SCRABBLE. If anyone is going to bingo a bitch, it is NAJWA freakin’ BAKRI. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, because everything becomes a competition in America, but I can’t wait to learn lots of interesting new words and have a style of drama and intensity I’ve never experienced before.
  • Murder mystery too?! Because Najwa’s best friend Trina somehow died at this competition, and when secrets start coming out, it looks like maybe Trina is secretly alive too? Or someone just wants it to look that way? WHAT HAPPENED TO TRINA?!
  • And through the lens of social media, where her dead best friends is suddenly active on Instagram again. Uhmmmm no thanks. It’s not like social media is totally new concept at this point, but the myriad possibilities for it in a story always draw me in.
  • Also, Hanna Alkaf. I really just need to have a Hanna Alkaf TBR time because I have several of her books on my radar and haven’t gotten around to them. Come onnnn, Alkaf!!
  • Side not #2: is the title an tiny homage to queen of the Nile? I really hope so.

Summary

When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet.

But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it.

As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen, 2/8/22

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen!
Expected Release: February 8, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • Anonymous courage, which then potentially evolves into claimed courage, which is scary and for them potentially dangerous.
  • Viewpoint of a marginalized group, particularly after a polarizing event. Having to deal with hate is brutal. I appreciate seeing all sides of a story.
  • Writing and journaling, particularly to process emotions, hits close to home. I look forward to any excerpts included in the book that are posed as being from the main characters’ perspectives.

Summary

Sabriya has her whole summer planned out in color-coded glory, but those plans go out the window after a terrorist attack near her home. When the terrorist is assumed to be Muslim and Islamophobia grows, Sabriya turns to her online journal for comfort. You Truly Assumed was never meant to be anything more than an outlet, but the blog goes viral as fellow Muslim teens around the country flock to it and find solace and a sense of community.

Soon two more teens, Zakat and Farah, join Bri to run You Truly Assumed and the three quickly form a strong friendship. But as the blog’s popularity grows, so do the pushback and hateful comments. When one of them is threatened, the search to find out who is behind it all begins, and their friendship is put to the test when all three must decide whether to shut down the blog and lose what they’ve worked for…or take a stand and risk everything to make their voices heard.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Zara Hossain is Here, 4/6/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan.
Expected Release: April 6, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • As always, I’m about cultures besides my own, although Zara Hossain is dealing with racism and hate from those in her new home in Texas. I super hope Tyler Benson, the ringleader of it all, learns his lesson and maybe even switches sides — or at least gets what he’s given. -_-
  • Strong women are the best. Allowing Zara to fight and be brave, even though it’s bullshit that anyone still has to, is a relief. If they’re in a bad situation, at least they have some ways to stand up. And I hope this book shows the hope that others WILL stand with them, with the oppressed and mistreated.
  • Zara’s family has been waiting on their green card for almost a decade, and the craziest part about that is how common that actually is. A friend of mine went through the process with her husband, and even that took YEARS for them to get when he’s from New Zealand, a country with good relations with pretty much every other country. I love the insight to the process, as it’s something most Americans will never go through, and understanding the many barriers to moving to the US legally will help breed empathy and understanding, which in turn reduces hate and fear.

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: How It All Blew Up, 9/22

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is one that I read a sample of and was immediately taken in by the clear character voice and the format: How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi.
Expected Release: September 22, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • At this point so much has been written that sometimes it’s hard to do something new, but How It All Blew Up is based on the premise of Amir having to tell his story to a Customs Officer to avoid… something that he’s being accused of, probably terrorist stuff considering he’s Muslim. A mix of flashbacks to his story and entries of him talking to the customs officer, I certainly don’t think I’ve read a story with this combo before!
  • Just from the small bit I read, I already love Amir. He’s absolutely hilarious, and his one-sided dialogues with the customs officer are so, so funny in their awkward sincerity. I don’t know how any of them could accuse him of something violent. The character voice is so strong, and it’s so hard not to lean in to hear more.
  • The complexities of coming out to your family are almost never easy, but to do so when your family believes that being gay is a sin against humanity and crime against God… I imagine it makes things just a smidge more difficult. Which is why Amir ran away to Rome instead of coming clean. Obvious fix, right?

Summary:
Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy–he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?

Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.