8 Diverse Books I Loved, And 8 That Are On My TBR!

Before I became a part of the bookish community, most of my reads were by straight white authors with likewise leads. Since then, I have become so much more aware due to lots of lovely people who promote diversity on their blogs/ booktube etc.

As an Asian myself, I understand how important it is for different cultures to be shown in books, and it is a different feeling altogether to feel represented. In the last couple of months, more than half of the books I’ve read recently are by Asian authors or have Asian characters so I am proud of how far I’ve come.

Diversity in books can mean a lot of things, but this list shall be focusing on books written by POC authors and/or having POC leads. In the first part of this post, I’ll be showcasing some of my favourite diverse reads with their highlights and in the second part, I’ll be listing diverse books which I’ve not read but are on my TBR!

I hope you have your Goodreads (or wherever you make your tbr list) open and ready, because we are starting now!

(the formatting is off in the Reader, kindly click here to read further!)

Cemetery Boys
💘 spirits (and a certain sweet but possessive, bad boy spirit)
💘 mexican culture
💘 themes of identity and acceptance
💘 fantasy with contemporary feel

The Girl Who Drank The Moon
💘 witchy
💘 whimsical, dreamy writing
💘 magic running wild
💘 multiple third person POVs

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon
💘 talking goldfishes and lion statues
💘 chinese folklore
💘 dragons!
💘 beautiful atmosphere and conclusion

We Hunt The Flame
💘 arabia – inspired fantasy
💘 atmospheric setting and brilliant world-building
💘 subtle found family with lots of banter
💘 morally grey characters

A Clash Of Steel
💘 set in imperial china
💘 pirates! and lost treasure!
💘 strong woman characters
💘 treasure island retelling

How We Fall Apart
💘 majority of the cast is Asian
💘 thrilling murder mystery
💘 set in an elite prep school
💘 secrets and rivalry and revenge

The Reader
💘 secret society
💘 a world where books are banned
💘 deep and meaningful writing
💘 pirate stories!

We Are Not Free
💘 set during WWII
💘 love, life and laughs amidst war
💘 14 POVs
💘 heart wrenching and impactful


Here are 8 diverse books I am yet to read, but will hopefully be picking up soon!

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1)
These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)
Jade Fire Gold
A Magic Steeped in Poison (The Book of Tea, #1)
The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1)
Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology, #1)
Legendborn (The Legendborn Cycle #1)
The Bones of Ruin

Have you read any of these? Do you have any more diverse recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

~ Rachel

We Hunt The Flame Quotes As Real Life Moments!

I am officially obsessed with this duology. There, I said it.

Remember a stormy July evening when I wrote something along similar lines – Six Of Crows Quotes As Real Life Moments!, I believe it was called? Yes yes that does ring a bell. Since declarations of my love for a book shall now be decreed in the form of such posts, I am writing this post in honour of my newest favourites – the We Hunt The Flame duology.

For those of you are are wholly and truly confused so as to what exactly is going on, believe me, you’re not alone. I have no idea either. (what? did you think I was actually going to explain the concept of this entire thing? do my ideas even have a concept? ughh fine, since you insist.) Essentially, the gist is to relate some quotable lines from this duology to moments in my life, only, the contexts are ~slightly~ different. You’ll see what I mean in a moment. Onto the first quote!

“A thousand leagues and a thousand sands. For you, a thousand times I would defy the sun.”

Deen Ra’ad (aka the most sensitive and pure boy to ever exist on this earth. The world didn’t deserve him.)

(side note: this line makes me tear up every. single. time.)

This would be me to my Kindle. Do you know the pain of giving up a cozy reading spot in the balcony under the sun, and instead go to some dark, gloomy corner to read my Kindle just because I can’t read with sunlight falling on the screen? I have absolutely no wish to defy the sun but – ah, the things we do for books…

“He came here for one act alone: murder.”

Nasir Ghameq (aka the good assassin)

The ‘he’ in question being authors who, for no apparent reason at all, like to cause us readers literal pain by killing off characters we’ve come to love. (you get what I’m hinting at, eh Faizal?) Murderers.

“Knowledge without action is vanity, but action without knowledge is insanity.”

Benyamin (aka our sweet, arrogant immortal)

Truer words have never been spoken. This does lead my mind to very philosophical roads of thought… but, putting that on hold, how does this fit into my real life? Oh, what about when I get overexcited whenever I see a blog tour sign-up for one of my anticipated releases and happily go sign up for it – until later when I realize my assigned date is not far off, and I have to read a couple more arcs before that one. Insanity, right?

“Sometimes, when you live a life of captivity, trapped for so long, freedom becomes a thing to fear.”

Oh. My. Gosh. This is my exact life situation put very eloquently. I have stayed home due to lockdown for nearly two years now, and still have online schooling where I live, so I’ve got no idea how I’ll adapt to physically attending school again, once the restrictions are eased. Or going anywhere else, for that matter. Yes, I fear my freedom.

“Well,” Altair said with forced cheer. “It’s just the two of us again, and my, what a couple we make.” Nasir gifted him a look that could wither crops. “Keep up your endless yipping and only one of us will be left.”

Nasir & Altair (aka the best grumpy-sunshine duo ever!)

Back when I used to attend offline school, I always got extra cheery partners – be it a lab partner, a partner in a project, picnics etc. It was like Nature’s running joke on me. Anyway, while I used to studiously do whatever we’re supposed to do, my various partners would rather just chat with me, which annoyed me to no end and I’d usually end up snapping at them. In hindsight, that was rather harsh of me, but I couldn’t help it, you know? I’m a lot like Nasir than I ever thought.

“There were moments before moments, in which the world was framed in startling clarity, a defined before hurtling toward a horrible after. Moments in which the powerful were powerless, in which promises became failings.

This was such a moment.”

Okay, this is going to sound really silly, but the first thing that came to my mind after reading this was that moment on a roller coaster when you are right at the top and are just about to go down at top speed. There is that sudden feeling of thrill and fear, anticipation and tension. You know you’re about to drop but can’t do anything about it. This was such a moment.

“Wars could wage and swords could cut and arrows could pierce. None of them compared to the pain of a well-poised word.”

The word in question being the most dreaded word in the history of dreadful words – “rejected”. Few weeks back I requested my first ever Netgalley arcs, and a few days later, I get an e-mail. I am soo excited and close my eyes and then peek out of one eye – for what? To see that word?? Definitely not what I was expecting. I would have rather have a war waged in front of me, a sword cut of my head, an arrow pierced through my heart. Okay that’s gross and overdramatic but you get the point.

Huh. My life is so much similar to that of Zafira and Nasir, Altair and Benyamin, isn’t it? Anywayy that was all for today and the ulterior motive of this post was totally not to show-off these beautiful lines from the beautiful books.

Which is your favourite quote from the duology? Which are some quote-worthy moments in your life? Share with me in the comments!

And on a final note, my blog reached 200 followers a while back and I want to host a Q & A session in honour of that! Visit this post and leave me questions in the comments section if you haven’t! Oh, and don’t forget to fill this feedback form too –  https://forms.gle/CYkBpZXUm4hsuJQm8!!

~Rachel

We Hunt The Flame vs the Hype-o-meter // Review

Before we go any further, I have some good news – we’ve officially reached 200 followers on A Bookworm’s Paradise! In honour of this, I want to have a Q & A session (in a separate post of course), so please put any questions you may have about me in the comments and I’ll answer them in the coming weeks.

With that out of the way, we are now down to business! This is the second post in a series, in collaboration with the lovely April @Booked Till Midnight, where we review books in a different way because we set them up against our self created hype-o-meter and determine whether or not a popular book is worth the hype! Click here to know all the deets about this series, and here to read the first showdown. Let’s get started!

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)

Title: We Hunt The Flame

Author: Hafsah Faizal

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Format: E-book

Synopsis:

People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya–but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds–and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

The first thing you’ll notice about We Hunt The Flame is the brilliant worldbuilding. The author has somehow managed to make the atmosphere so lush, so vivid that it felt as if the atmosphere had come alive. The book is set in a rich, ancient Arabia-inspired world and I could picture it all in my head.(swirling sands here, biting snow and ice there – honestly the perfect setting) (Pro of being a language nerd and reading a book with snippets of a foreign language: I now know about 4 words of the Arabic language *applause please*) (Also I have taken quite a liking to Arabic expressions and curse words so do not be surprised if you see a the occasional rimaal, khara, and laa in my posts)(okay I am gonna stop with the parentheses now)

Next, all the elements of this new fantasy world – Arawiya, are introduced. Somehow, even some of the info dump did not seem like an info dump, in fact I wanted to drink it all in and everything from the history (the Sisters and such) to the five caliphates and their respective ‘curses’ intrigued me. Way to go!!

“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”

I couldn’t do justice to this review without mentioning the characters. This book had exceptionally well-crafted characters and I fell in love with every single one of them. Our female protagonist, Zafira was shown initially as a balanced, collected personality, but as the story progresses we slowly unravel her outer layers and see the true, intense emotions and memories inside. The same could go for Nasir, our male protagonist. Everybody, look up, because THIS is how you write a perfect morally grey character. GIVE ME ALL THAT INNER ANGST. Kifah is our badass, no-nonsense exiled princess who also happens to be the one to say the iconic “We hunt the flame dialogue”. And Benyamin, our arrogantly wise safi who… *chokes and bites back a sudden sob* who looks down on all mortals but slowly comes to care about our zumra over time.

And now I would like to formally dedicate an entire paragraph to Altair al-Badawi, a certain conundrums-loving general who stole my heart. He was (literally) the sunshine to Nasir’s grumpiness, and their banter was *chef’s kiss*. Altair reminded me a little bit of Jesper, but then again, he was unlike any other character I’ve ever seen before. I mean, that character development?? I went from wanting to kill Altair myself to smirking at his jokes to praying Nasir wouldn’t kill him to being all NOOOO about him in the end (don’t worry he doesn’t die… its something worse *evil laugh*) Not surprisingly, he goes on my list of favourite characters (wait I have a list? Of course I do. No I don’t. Shut up internal dialogue.) Bottom line – this man was amazing in every way.

“I’ll have to introduce you by saying, ‘He’s not always this grumpy. Then again, he’s one of those people who talks less and murders more’.”

It looks like Faizal collected all of my favourite tropes and other elements and wove them into a story. Found family!!! Enemies to lovers!!! Slow burn!!! Knife-to-throat trope!!! Witty dialogue and banter!!! (in other words – a guide to make Rachel fall in love with a book) You know how I am generally criticizing certain books *cough* the young elites *cough* for their lack of dialogue? And how y’all might have thought such a book doesn’t exist? Make way, because here comes the book with outstanding dialogue, just the way I love!

 

Finally, we come to the plot (I really need to learn how to sequence and prioritize). The story follows our zumra (arabic for a group), a bunch of characters who couldn’t be more different from each other, who set out on a journey through a cursed island to retrieve a book that’s supposed to restore magic to their kingdom. Oh, and one of them is an assassin who’s supposed to kill the rest. Pleasant, right? Yes I thought so. 

What happens when we pit this brilliantly executed story with settings and atmosphere inspired from ancient Arabia with a totally cool cast of characters and just the best tropes against the hype-o-meter? Why, it wins of course.

But what did April think about the whole thing? Did she love the book as much as I did? Click here to find out!

Oh and before you go, could you take out a minute and fill this feedback form for my blog? Please and thank you. Here’s the link – https://forms.gle/CYkBpZXUm4hsuJQm8

Have you read We Hunt The Flame? What would you rate it on the hype-o-meter? Which is your favourite fantasy set in Asia? Let me know in the comments!!

Goodbye, zumra!

~ Rachel

August Wrap-Up // the month of mostly mediocre reads, creative posts and blog redesign!

Apparently an albatross can sleep while flying. Yes, seriously. I just found out that this bird can doze off comfortably while cruising through the air at a speed of 25km/hr. Talk about sleeping through a journey. (Kinda related, but how are people ever able to sleep in planes? It is the worst kind of torture there is for my neck)

And the “birds as weird intros to Rachel’s wrap-ups” saga continues. We had ducks in June, pigeons and July and the lucky ones this month were albatrosses. I wonder who’ll be next?

Ugh August was definitely not my best reading month. First, I read a lot lesser owing to exams, and even most out of those books were 3 star-ish. Still, I did find something I could call a new favourite, and I reviewed more books than usual so that’s an achievement.

The Supernaturalist
Down to Earth
The War That Saved My Life (The War That Saved My Life, #1)
The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer

Rating ★★★ ½

Comments: Hmm, decent. Like the beginning was extremely promising, but the end did not quite live up to my expectations. But overall a solid sci-fi.

Down To Earth by Betty Culley

Rating ★★★ || Find my review here

Comments: Ehh from the coming-of-age point of view, it was brilliant. I wasn’t a big fan of the pacing and the plot line though.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Bradley

Rating ★★★★½

Comments: Its been a while since I enjoyed a middle grade, but I did. There was war, bombs, horses, found family, spies… what’s there not to like?

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)
We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya, #2)
The Ones We're Meant to Find
We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Rating ★★★★½

Comments: Gooood. Really. But I am not going to go into how fabulous, brilliant, outstanding and enchanting this book is here because you’ll begin to (rightly) think I’m obsessed. (also there’s a full review coming right up)

We Free The Stars by Hafsah Faizal

Comments: Okay I am cheating with this one since I haven’t finished it yet. But look I am like almost done okay?!

The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He

Rating ★★½ || Find my review here

Comments: Umm I get why lots of people totally love this book, but not for me. Sorry.

So as you can see, it was pretty much a sci-fi month for me. I am proud of the fact that I am making progress on my goal of reading more of genres other than just fantasy *applause please*. Next goal – more of crimes and mysteries.

Big news: I redesigned my blog yet again. I know I know, the proclamation has lost its glamour due to repetition, but then again, I get bored of my current them every few weeks, hence the inevitable change. This time though, I’ll try to keep a check on my itchy fingers.

Content-wise, I think I was pretty much at my creative best in August. I had some great ideas and actually had the energy to sit down and type them out so I am proud of that. Most of my posts this month have been some of my favourites so far (am I… am I actually getting the hang of blogging?) so yay to that!! Here are the links to all my posts along with a small description, and in case you missed any of them you are welcome to check them out!

  1. July Wrap-Up // I used to write something here but I can’t recall what: My first post of the month was all about recapping the month of July. Also there’s some talk about pigeons, so umm yeah.

2. Blog Tour: The Twin Stars by Bridgette Portman [Review + INTL Giveaway]: I review an ARC of The Twin Stars, a YA fantasy with a mc with OCD who gets transported into her own unfinished story.

3. The Young Elites vs The Hype-o-Meter!: A very exciting review post, the first in the Hype-o-meter series with my fellow blogger and friend April. Check out whether The Young Elites is worth the hype according to us!!

4. Books As Road Trips // a random post that emerged out of the void: Okay so I impulsively published this post and I’m actually really happy with how it turned out. Maybe its the ~excellent~ metaphoring on my part (comparing books to road trips?!) but it might just be one of my favourite posts on this blog.

5. 8 Things I Look For In Books // does it show that I am desperate for recs?: I list the things that guarantee that I’ll fall in love with a book in hope that I get some good recs (and I did! thank you guys!!)

6. Blog Tour: Down To Earth by Betty Culley + Moodboard: I review an ARC of Down To Earth, a middle grade science fiction full of wonder and coming of age moments.

7. Book Review: The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He || concept? brilliant. execution? not so much: And finally, I review the recently released The Ones We’re Meant To Find in a loong post. But again, I think its one of my better reviews.

Soo. Quality, check. Quantity, check. Not bad, huh?

Its that time of this wrap up where I shout out all of your posts that I enjoyed reading!!

Sofii @A Book. A Thought reviewed The Ones We’re Meant To Find, and I agree with a lot of points she made!

Erin @Reading on a star lists her favourite book tropes!

Laura @The Corner Of Laura writes about the 6 sins of us readers!

Eleanor @Wishing Upon A Star discusses what makes a book popular!

Kashvi @Elfhame Books reviewed We Free The Stars!

Emily @Frappes And Fiction does the reader problems book tag!

Ashmita @The Fictional Journal reviewed The Inheritance Games, a book that I’m currently reading!

Kaya @The Fictional Bookworm writes a mini review of Murder On The Orient Express! Its my favourite Poirot too!

Naemi @A Book Owl’s Corner celebrates 400 followers and gives some pro blogging tips too!

Cherry @Letters To The Lost reacts to 1 star reviews of her favourite books, some of which coincidentally are my favorites too!

Maddie @Inking And Thinking discusses bookish pet peeves!

Cherelle @A Bolt Out Of The Book recommends books based on Marvel movies!

April @Booked Till Midnight pits The Young Elites against the Hypometer!

That brings us to the end of this wrap up!! In one sentence, blogging was good, reading was not. Anyway, happy September everyone!

Which was your favourite read this August? Have you read any of the books I did? Chat with me in the comments, and feel free to link your wrap-ups too!

~ Rachel

Pages and Coffee Cups

{living life, one cup of coffee at a time}

AceReader

A sleep deprived reviewer.

Not Just Fiction

~cause fictional worlds are better than reality~

The Literary Phoenix

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A Book by the Fire

A cosy blog where I give you my thoughts on my readings!

A Kernel of Nonsense

the blurred line between reality and make-believe

The Scarlet Bookkeeper

Spoiler-Free Reviews and More

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