Author Interview with Dahlia Adler – His Hideous Heart Blog Tour

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Hi everyone! As a part of the His Hideous Heart blog tour, I agreed to do a post on my blog. Before I talk about the post, here’s a description of the anthology:

Thirteen of YA’s most celebrated names reimagine Edgar Allan Poe’s most surprising, unsettling, and popular tales for a new generation

Guilt.
Regret.
Love.
Loss.
Self-loathing.
Terror.
Vengeance.

Edgar Allan Poe may be a hundred and fifty years beyond this world, but the themes of his beloved works have much in common with modern young adult fiction. Whether the stories are familiar to readers or discovered for the first time, readers will revel in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales, and how they’ve been brought to life in thirteen unique and unforgettable ways.

Contributors include Dahlia Adler (reimagining “Ligeia”), Kendare Blake (“Metzengerstein”), Rin Chupeco (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue”), Lamar Giles (“The Oval Portrait”), Tessa Gratton (“Annabel Lee”), Tiffany D. Jackson (“The Cask of Amontillado”), Stephanie Kuehn (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), amanda lovelace ( “The Raven”), Emily Lloyd-Jones (“The Purloined Letter”), Hillary Monahan (“The Masque of the Red Death”), Marieke Nijkamp (“Hop-Frog”), Caleb Roehrig (“The Pit and the Pendulum”), and Fran Wilde (“The Fall of the House of Usher”).

I agreed to do an interview with Dahlia Adler, the editor of the anthology as well as co-contributor. She wrote a sapphic retelling of Poe’s Ligeia, retitled Lygia in this collection. I’m still not over the story, and I rushed to talk to Dahlia about the process of writing for and editing this anthology as well as how it compared to contributing to other YA anthologies.

Here’s the result of this interview:

Continue reading “Author Interview with Dahlia Adler – His Hideous Heart Blog Tour”

Ten (10) Young Adult Books by Muslim Women You Should BUY (Or Keep an Eye On) As a Middle Finger to the Tr*mp Administration

(And also to better your life because they’re fab)

If you’re like me, and you can’t take your eyes off the ongoing trainwreck that is the U.S. Government, you’re probably thinking about how you can get to work on dismantling the system which has allowed these gross people to maintain power. On June 26th, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that Tr*mp’s discriminatory “Muslim Ban” was… okay.

Two weeks ago, Muslims around the world were celebrating Eid, the end of their holy month of fasting. Around that time, I thought of maybe posting a list of books by Muslim authors, but I never got around to it. After this week’s news, however, I changed my mind.

Sometimes, merely telling people to support marginalized authors is a radical act itself. In a world that actively works on keeping them in the margins, these authors are out here proving to the world that everybody deserves a chance to be heard.

Muslim-American teen Noel Said Hassan wrote:

“Being Different

Basically means

Being true to the person you are and who you want to be.

Being Different

Basically means

Being a flower instead of a tree in the big forest that everyone else wants to be.

Being Different

Basically means

Not following society’s orders.”

There is truth in not following the norms. There is truth in your humanity. There is truth in words, because writing is a radical act, especially in the face of oppression and bigotry.

So, for today’s list, I’m sharing ten (10) YA books by Muslim women, all of whom are out here being unapologetic in their faith and in their identities.

1. Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali: All Janna wants is to be a photographer, and find a way to fit in. Living in a small apartment with her mom and spoiled brother, that may be a problem. Also a problem: Janna can’t deal with her trauma while her abuser walks around her mosque like nothing is wrong. (Out now!)

2. Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah: When Amal starts wearing her hijab full-time, everyone around her has an opinion about it. Some of these people are encouraging, others confused. But there are some who are out to give her a lot of grief. (Out now!)

3. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed: Naila is a normal Pakistani girl who just wants to go to college and be with her boyfriend, Saif. Except, her conservative parents find out about her relationship, shipping her off to Pakistan to marry, effectively cutting her off from everything and everyone she knows and loves. (Out now!)

4. The Ember Quartet by Sabaa Tahir: A lush, brutal fantasy series that follows the lives of a girl finding courage in the bleakest circumstances, and a boy groomed to be the finest killer  who just wishes to be free. (First three books are out now!)

5. Not the Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi: Lulu Saad is an unapologetic girl who just wants to be with her best friends and do normal teenager things. Except she might be doing certain things that could be deemed Messy. (Out now!)

6. Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed: Maya Aziz wants to go to film school in New York, but after a hate crime shakes the way the community sees her and her Muslim family, those plans might just be out the window. (Out now!)

7. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi: After 9/11, Shirin copes with the outright islamophobia she faces in the only ways she can: a thick skin, listening to loud music, and break-dancing with her brother. Until Ocean James comes along, and her wall threatens to fall down… (Release date: 10/16/2018; you can read an excerpt here)

8. Mirage by Somaiya Daud: Amani dreams of becoming a poet, only to find out she looks just like a cruel Princess. To make matters worse, she’s enjoying her time with the Princess’ fiance. (Relase date: 08/28/2018; you can read an excerpt here)

9. The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan: Seventeen-year old Rukhsana is sent to Bangladesh by her conservative parents when they find out she’s been kissing girls. (Release date: 01/29/2019; you can read an excerpt here)

10. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal: An Huntress tasked with a mysterious quest. A Prince tasked with killing her. Elves. Really, this should be all you need to know about this book. (Release date: 05/14/ 2019; you can read the official synopsis here)

There are books in this list that deal with some triggering issues like sexual assault and domestic abuse, to name a few, so I suggest you seek out reviews and trigger warnings before delving into them.

If you wish to read a more comprehensive list of books by Muslim authors or Muslim creatives, you should check out Avid Reader’s list of 100+ Muslim Books and creators. You can also check out this list of 10 Contemporary Novels By and About Muslims from Lithub.

If you want to know how to be more active in your work or knowledgeable of where to donate your money, here are resources from the ACLU (donate here) about what to do when encountering law enforcement at airports and other ports of entry, from Muslim Advocates (donate here), and from the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation (donate here). Or just, y’know, use Google.

I have more rec lists, as well as editsbook reviews, and other fun stuff. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @boricuareads.

Favorite Marvel Movies as MG/YA Books

So, you like Marvel movies? I’ve been a huge fan of Marvel movies since the release of the first Thor movie. Since the release of the first movie within the MCU, there have been a grand total of 18 movies released, and that’s excluding all the TV series developed for Netflix, Hulu, ABC, and now Freeform.

As more movies have come out, my tastes and favoritism have started showing. I’ve grown more inclined towards movies that have a certain theme, or are rooted in a certain genre, rather than the nebulous genre that is a “superhero movie.” These movies are entertaining, yet leave you much to think about long after leaving the movie theater.

Which is why I’ve made a pick of my six (6) favorite Marvel movies and decided to make a rec list based on them:

  • Black PantherBlack Panther is full of rich imagery of an African country and peoples untouched by colonialism and its systems of oppression. It’s a marvel (pun intended) of technology and culture, with an all-black cast, that was intended for the Black consumer and viewer. If you wish to see more African-inspired fantasy, look no further than the much-hyped Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Described as a mix of Avatar: The Last Airbender and, no surprise here, Black Panther, Adeyemi’s book brings magic to a readership lacking in representation, as well as themes of colorism, systems of oppression outside of those dictated by white, Western norms, and a kickass heroine.
  • Thor: RagnarokThe reasons I loved Thor: Ragnarok were due to its hilarious script, the characters (HELLO TESSA THOMPSON AS VALKYRIE), the actors’ fantastic jobs… and its storyline about the repercussions of a place that gained power through violence and colonialism and what happens when you erase that history. But if you loved Thor: Ragnarok, then you’ll love Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi. Aru Shah has a secret sister (not as destructive or deadly as Hela, but still), a moody sidekick, and it’s full of history and mythology. It’s a book about finding oneself when you’ve had to assimilate to Western culture due to colonialism and racism. It’s also lighthearted and funny as all heck, which is exactly what you want in a Middle Grade.
  • Captain America: The Winter SoldierWhat I loved most of Captain America: The Winter Soldier was its theme of toppling a fascist institution from the inside with people who’ve been targeted by the government as dangerous for even speaking against them. This theme made me think of Legend by Marie Lu, where a boy named Day becomes a vigilante intent on toppling the shady government that sends children off to labor camps or eliminates them. Both go hand-in-hand and I think really complement each others’ narratives.
  • Spiderman: HomecomingPeter Parker’s story has been told many times (thrice in feature films), so not many people were actually excited about this reboot in Marvel’s hands. Yet this movie was able to depict what it feels like to be a teenager, and then to be exposed to unique circumstances (for example, getting bit by a radioactive spider and gaining powers). The movie reminded me of the characters in Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee, since they’re all teens and dealing with their own powers and trying to keep them a secret.
  • Guardians of the GalaxyThe story of a ragtag group in space that becomes an unlikely family is one that tugs my tender heart. I’m a softy for secret softies. Also, who doesn’t love a compelling backstory? The soon-to-be-released Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie takes place in a spaceship, where two girls from different classes and races must work together to work as “Scelas” (bio-engineered soldiers). I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a kick-ass space adventure.
  • Ant-ManWho doesn’t love a good heist film with heart? I loved Ant-Man for its hilarious script and the fact that the hero’s main drive was his love for his daughter. That fuckin’ gets me. For this movie, I’m recommending The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. Have I read it yet? No. Do I believe it’s gonna be hilarious and sarcastic, and have great heart behind it? Yes, I do. Did I really recommend two (2) Roshani books in one (1) post? I absolutely did, sue me.

I hope you enjoyed this list. If you want to check out more listsreviewsedits, and more, make you follow me on here. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram, so be sure to check those out.

15 Contemporary YA titles to Read

Recently, a Good Friend of mine was complaining on social media that YA fiction is getting worse. Of course, I asked what kind of YA she was reading and she replied with a title that was released in 2011 and written by a white author. I’ve seen this trend of people trashing YA literature but then only focusing on titles by white authors that have made it to the mainstream. Some examples are Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent, John Green titles, among others. The fact is, that because the mainstream doesn’t give marginalized authors more promotion, let alone the space to write their own stories based on their experiences, these titles are erased and therefore forgotten. They aren’t given the same opportunity to thrive in the mainstream, and therefore the books that are in the mainstream become the ones identified as Bad YA.

Another fact: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas has spent an entire year on the New York Times bestsellers YA list. The book is also in post-production for its own movie. Yet, it hasn’t reached mainstream status. YET.

So I made a list of contemporary YA that has been overlooked by the mainstream and deserve to be recognized as Above The Norm. (Note: I made this list for the same friend who said she preferred Contemporary YA and actively asked for recommendations. As such, I added The Hate U Give in the list.)

How To Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake – Contemp. YA with a Bi MC, love interest is a gay black girl, deals with trauma, psychological abuse (from MC’s mom), and cute moments between the two girls ❤

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – Magical Realism, Queer Latina MC, Trans Pakistani MC, deals with cultural appropriation and brown bodies’ autonomies in the eyes of whiteness

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore – also Magical Realism, Bi Latina MC, deals with the complicity of whiteness in the face of PoC’s traumas

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour – Contemp. YA with a Lesbian MC, deals with grief after losing a loved one, very quiet and wonderfully written.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – Black girl witnesses her friend killed by police, deals with the ensuing trauma and controversy.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely – Black boy is victim of police brutality, has alternating POVs between victim and a white boy who knows the police officer.

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura – Lesbian Japanese-American MC with lesbian Mexican-American love interest, talks about interracial relationships, arranged marriage (between Japanese parents), and biases we carry.

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp – Ace girl MC, girl goes back to small hometown in Alaska after the mysterious death of her Pansexual Bipolar best friend (really a contemporary thriller)

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali – Muslim MC, deals with religion, sexual assault, and who gets a free pass from the community after wrongdoings.

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed – Three alternating POVs, one from an autistic girl, another from a lesbian Mexican-American, and another from a white girl from a conservative family. A girl from school is sexually assaulted at a party, and a group of girls decide to group together to discuss harassment, assault, and anonymously accuse the perpetrators through guerrilla warfare.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – more Contemporary Romance, Indian MCs, really cute and goes from enemies to friends to lovers and it’s hilarious.

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – a MUST READ before the movie adaptation (Love, Simon) comes out!!!

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera – Gay boy with OCD deals with the loss of ex-boyfriend after a freak-accident, written by a Gay Puerto Rican with OCD! (It’s really good and heartbreaking)

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown – lesbian girl from a Christian household who’s out moves to conservative small town in Georgia has to go back in the closet after a deal with her preacher father and finds herself falling in love with cute girl who thinks she’s straight.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero – really good book that deals with poverty in a Mexican-American household. When I read it, I described it as “Princess Diaries from the POV of a poor girl of color with a dysfunctional family.”