The Sunshine Blogger Award

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The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator has given you.
  3. Nominate 11 other people and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  4. List the rules and display the award

My friend Rachel @ pace, amore, libri nominated me! Thanks, Rachel, this was fun!

What’s the last movie you saw and what did you think of it?

I watched this random horror movie called The Void because I read some article that it was really good.  It…well, I don’t know how I would describe it.  It was weird in an unsatisfying sort of way.  Supposedly it was trying to tap into Lovecraftian cosmic horror but it also had many elements of a 50s B-horror film.  It was the type of movie that was trying to do too many things at once and ended up being kind of confusing.

Do you have any weird or random talents?

According to my brother my talent is making people want to puncture their eardrums when I sing…other than that, no, I don’t think so!

What’s your favorite song at the moment?

I’m currently obsessing over the entire soundtrack of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812!

What time of day do you do most of your blogging?

I probably shouldn’t say this on a public platform, but normally during the day, because those are the hours I’m at work and I’m usually most focused (and have the most free time, oddly enough).

What’s your favorite museum that you’ve been to?

So, the MET is amazing, but I feel like that’s a cop-out answer, so I’m gonna go with the Chester Beatty museum in Dublin.  It features some dude’s private collection of old texts, including old Qurans and stuff.  It’s a tiny museum but it’s set up really nicely and is very peaceful.

When’s the last time you went to a wedding?

Oh man…uhh….let’s see…I have no idea, actually! Wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long. Oh, no, wait! I just remembered! It was two years ago; my best friend’s sister got married.  I don’t go to a lot of weddings, haha. I don’t know very many people and all my family lives in Egypt!

Do you have a celebrity doppelganger?

Okay, so my family all insists I look like Donia Samir Ghanem but I couldn’t disagree more!

If you were a cat, what color cat would you be? (Very important question.)

Either all black or all white or all orange! I’m a fan of single-color cats.

Do you have a favorite publisher or publisher imprint?

I’m fond of ABRAMS Amulet Books because they always have really great book designs, but their content hasn’t always appealed to me.  Content-wise I’m a huuuuuuge fan of Tor and Orbit.

Have you ever dressed up like a fictional character? (Bonus points for photo evidence.)

Nope! Always wanted to cosplay, though.

What’s your favorite thing about your city (or state, or country)?

I’m not a huge fan of New York City, but I appreciate its diversity and convenience.

I’ll tag…anyone who wants to do it I’M SORRY I’m terrible at this tagging thing.

The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag

Chelsea over at Spotlight on Stories did this tag, and I really liked it so I thought I’d snag it!

1. The Best Book You’ve Read So Far In 2017

31123249Saints and Misfits, also known as literally the first YA book I’ve ever read that positively portrays the Muslim community. Not only that, it’s clever, engaging, witty, and incredibly well-written.  I couldn’t put it down, even though I had to read it as a PDF on my phone (thanks, Netgalley), squinting and awkwardly maneuvering the pages.

 

2. Your Favourite Sequel This Year

20764879A Gathering of Shadows.  I read A Darker Shade of Magic in March and while I liked it, I wasn’t awed by it.  Then I read A Gathering of Shadows, and I finally understood why everyone loves these books so much! While second books in a trilogy are usually slower and transitional, A Gathering of Shadows is shaping up to be the best book in the series. It’s got great pacing and buildup and incredible payoff.

3. A New Release That You Haven’t Read But Really Want To

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I’ve heard nothing but good things about both of these books!

 

4. Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half Of The Year

32718027  33395234  33958230City of Brass is written by a history buff and is set in 18th century Cairo! I mean! What more could I ask for! I’ve read a short story by the author of Beasts of Night, Tochi Onyebuchi, called “Screamers” and it was haunting and incredible.  And of course, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns has been getting so much buzz! Plus it features an anti-heroine, so I’m already sold.

5. Your Biggest Disappointment

30363359The Thief  was such a major disappointment. I had heard so many good things about this book and this series in general that I was really excited to read it, but by the quarter mark I was already struggling. It took everything I had to finish it and by the end I was skimming whole paragraphs just to get it over with. It was boring and uneventful and the only two female characters show up for a few pages at the end of the book.

6. Biggest Surprise Of The Year

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I mean, I knew I would like The Beautiful Ones, but I didn’t expect it to be a romance novel (Reading Comprehension: 1, Hadeer: 0) and I also didn’t expect to love it so much as to be inspired by it to write a whole series! It’s always a special book that inspires me like that.

 

7. Favourite New To You Or Debut Author

30269126  25036395Rhoda Belleza really hit the ground running with her debut novel Empress of a Thousand Skies, an expertly plotted sci-fi novel with a fantastic understanding of the politics of race.  And every chapter ends with a cliffhanger! How! Sarah Beth Durst has been writing for much longer, but she is new to me, and The Queen of Blood was an excellent, vivid fantasy.

8. Your New Fictional Crush

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Can I just say Sam Winchester and call it a day? No? I guess I’ll go with Alucard Emery. This smooth, charming bastard captured my heart from the very first moment he appeared on the page.

 

9. New Favourite Character

20764879Delilah Bard, hands fucking down.  I mean, I have honestly never seen a female character written like this before, with all the traits that are usually assigned to men.  Lila is powerful and unafraid, and more than that, she embraces her power fully.  She’s not afraid of it or wanting to damper it; she wants it to let loose and destroy and she is amazing.

 

10. A Book That Made You Cry

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Hmm, I don’t think I read any books that were  enough to make me cry.  Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom did make feel ALL the emotions, though, so there you go.

 

11. A Book That Made You Happy

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Easy! When Dimple Met Rishi! Dubbed a rom-com, that book was truly cheerful and romantic, playful and sweet! It’s a quick, happy little read.

 

 

12. Your Favourite Book To Movie Adaptation That You’ve Seen This Year

The_Handmaiden_filmI’ve only watched like four or five movies this year and none of them were adaptations, I don’t think. Can I say The Handmaiden? It’s based on Fingersmith by Sarah Waters but from what I’ve heard moving the setting to Korea worked wonders for it. I’ve never read the book but the movie captured my soul.

 

13. Favourite Book Post That You’ve Published This Year

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Probably my Saints and Misfits review, which was retweeted by S.K.Ali herself!

 

14. The Most Beautiful Book You Bought Or Received This Year

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The Girl From Everywhere is such a beautifully designed book! That color contrast is incredible.  Alas, I haven’t read this yet!

 

 

15. What Are Some Books That You Need To Read By The End Of The Year

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The Liebster Award

I was nominated for the Liebster Award by my friend Rachel @ pace amore libri! Thanks Rachel!

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1. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog

2. Answer the 11 questions the person asked you –

(i) What’s your dream vacation?

A trip across all of Europe, visiting small towns and villages and historic sites.

(ii) How do you take your coffee (or tea)?

I prefer coffee, and I take it with half-and-half and sugar.  I also really love Thai iced tea, if that’s relevant.

(iii) What’s your favorite kind of blog post to make (e.g. book reviews, monthly wrap ups, Top 5 Wednesday/Top 10 Tuesday, etc)?

I actually don’t do monthly wrap-ups (should I?).  Hmm, I think I like book reviews best! There’s satisfaction in finishing a book and typing out that review.

(iv) Have you met any of your internet friends in real life?

Yes! Besides Rachel I’ve met a couple of others, but they aren’t on this platform.

(v) If you had to blog about something other than books, what would it be?

Well, I originally started this blog as a television blog, so I would probably blog about that!

(vi) What’s the best movie you’ve watched so far this year?

I don’t watch too many movies, but most of the ones I’ve watched this year have been absolutely incredible.


The Handmaiden:
Lesbian heist movie of my heart! When a Korean thief is hired by a conman to con a lady out of her riches, she doesn’t expect that she’ll end up falling in love with her.  There’s no burying your gays here; in fact, the women in this film triumph in a fantastic twist ending.

The Prince of Egypt: I’m Egyptian and yet had never seen this film, until Rachel saw fit to remedy that.  This movie is so beautiful and moving, and gorgeously illustrated, with incredible music too.

The Witch: This film is HELLA CREEPY Y’ALL.  I love it.  It’s about a Puritan family living on the edge of the New England wilderness and essentially falling prey to the devil and his witches.  It’s got gorgeous cinematography and a fabulous performance by Anya Taylor-Joy.

(vii) Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever been?

Ireland! Specifically, the Rock of Cashel.  There was just something about that old, crumbling castle and that small town that was so alluring.

(viii) Do you name your car(s) and other inanimate objects?

I do! I don’t really refer to them by those names but I just like to give them names anyway.

(ix) Which blog that you follow do you think is the most similar to yours?  In terms of, ‘if you like my blog, you should also follow ____.’

Hmm, hard to say! From what I’ve seen it seems most book bloggers review YA and fantasy.

(x) Favorite season?

Autumn is the season of my heart, y’all.  I love autumn so much.

(xi) Are there any genres that you refuse to read?

Not as a rule.  There are of course certain genres that I don’t automatically gravitate towards, but if a book seems interesting or comes highly recommended I’ll probably check it out no matter what genre it is.

3. Nominate 11 people (comment on their blog to let them know)

Is there anyone who hasn’t done this yet? I’m lazy and terrible at tagging folks, so if you haven’t done this yet, please, please, please, consider yourself tagged.

4. Ask the people you have nominated 11 questions

I like Rachel’s questions.  Go for those!

The Blogger Aesthetic Award

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I was tagged by my friend Rachel at pace, amore, libre for the Blogger Aesthetic Award!  Tag created by Liam at Hey Ashers!.

The Rules:

  • Collect any number of images that you feel represent you as a person—your personality, aspirations, favorite things, anything at all that makes you you.
  • Put your chosen images together into a collage of whatever size and shape you find pleasing.
  • Share your masterpiece with everyone, in all the places.
  • Maybe nominate other bloggers as a way to tell them, “Hey, you, I think you’re awesome, and we should celebrate that awesomeness.”
  • Share these rules (and maybe the below tips, if you’re feeling helpful).
  • Tips:

 

Okay.  Before you scroll down further there is something you should know about me: I am very much all about about The Aesthetic™.  I am dedicated and obsessive when it comes to The Aesthetic™.  I have spent a very long time cultivating My Aesthetic™.

You may now proceed to the gigantic 24-image graphic below.

So, because I clearly have nothing better to do, allow me to explain the various aspects of My Aesthetic™:

First up, cats and books! Then we’ve got houses with bright open spaces and lovely views, giving off kind of a suburban feel.  Then Hamilton, which I have yet to see on Broadway but which has become one of my most beloved interests nonetheless.

Then autumn.  Autumn is the season of my heart, my soul.  I love everything about autumn; the wardrobe of coats, woolly socks, oversized sweaters, and boots, cinnamon-spiced everything, dreary skies, apple pies, curling up with hot chocolate, Halloween, falling leaves, pumpkins, candles, apple cider, apple orchards, pine cones…I’ll stop, but I think you get the point.  Autumn.  I love it.

Moving on to travel, which encompasses many things all at once.  Trains, which I am obsessed with.  It was always my dream to take a trip on the Orient Express, and I legit mourned when they discontinued it.  One of these days, though, I’m going to travel in a fancy train just like the one in that picture, and my view will be spectacular.

Then there’s my Americana Travel Aesthetic, consisting of wide-open roads, empty grocery stores at night, bright neon lights on semi-abandoned buildings, shitty motels, random highway diners, and other various trappings of weird American history and folklore.

From there you’ve got the ocean, cities on the ocean, homes on the ocean, walking along the ocean, road trips to the ocean.  Anything to do with the ocean, really.

And last but not least: my vaguely Arab/North African aesthetic, conveyed, of course, using a desert, a lady leading a camel, traditional North African courtyards, and figs (the fruit of my childhood when I couldn’t find mangoes).

This took me an obscenely long time, which does not surprise me at all.

Rapid Fire Book Tag

Jessica @ JMTuckerman tagged me in the Rapid Fire Book Tag (thanks Jessica!).  Warning y’all now, I suck at rapid fire anything, so expect  some pontificating.

Question 1: E-books or Physical Books?

There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to both. I just bought my first e-reader (a Kindle) this past February, so I’m new to the e-book world.

E-books are great because they: are cheaper (generally), enable you to live in the world of egalleys and e-ARCs, are not big or bulky and so are easy to carry, take up less space, and give you more privacy (you can read whatever you want and people have no idea). I always had neck problems because I would always carry these huge backpacks filled with books, but after I bought my Kindle I can carry a small bag that’s way more convenient.

On the other hand, physical books are awesome because they: can be SO pretty, have nicer text layouts, smell amazing, and are such a great aesthetic (I’m all about the aesthetic).  With e-books, sometimes it doesn’t really feel like I’m reading. I love the sensation of holding a book in my hands and turning the actual pages. E-books don’t feel real. Plus, when I read non-fiction, I like to scribble things in the margins and underline, and it’s much easier to do that with physical copies rather than e-books.  And I love amassing physical books and having tons of full-to-bursting bookshelves.

Question 2: Paperbacks or Hardbacks?

Paperbacks. But here’s the thing: the only reason I hate hardcover books is because their jackets always slip off! Like, I would have no problem with hardcovers if they came with their jackets all bound like library copies do, but as it is I always have to read hardcover books without their pretty jacket covers, and that annoys me.  I also just love the soft, compact feel of paperback books.

Question 3: Online or In-store Shopping?

Oh, in store for sure! Though online can often be cheaper, there’s nothing like the experience of browsing a bookstore and walking out with a bag full of books.

Question 4: Trilogies or Series?

I’m assuming this means trilogies versus like a ten-book series or something? I suppose it depends on the series in question, but I will say that I tend to get bored easily, so anything longer than three books will need to be seriously amazing to hold my attention.

Question 5: Heroes or Villains?

Villains are soooo much more interesting; I love reading about anti-heroines in particular. And I’m writing about one now!

Question 6: A Book You Want Everyone To Read

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson and also anything by N.K. Jemisin.

Question 7: The Last Book You Finished

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli.

Question 8: The Last Book You Bought

Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to the Muslim Brotherhood by Tarek Osman. I love non-fiction books, and I especially love non-fiction books about Egypt, so I’m super excited to read this one.

Question 9: Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark

Hmm…I have to think about this. I use tissues often, but I don’t think that’s weird.  A credit card, maybe?

Question 10: Used Book Yes or No?

Sure thing! I actually prefer used bookstores; I don’t feel as guilty when the books I buy are cheaper.

Question 11: Favorite Book Genre

Fantasy.

Question 12: Buy or Borrow?

Hmm…if I had all the money (and space) in the world, I would buy. As it is, I love my library system, which has nearly every book I could ever want.

Question 13: Characters or Plot?

Both, but I’m also not one for character-driven novels. I need something to happen or else I get bored.

Question 14: Long or Short Books?

Both! It really depends. Though I do think a ton of fantasy books could certainly be a lot shorter…

Question 15: Long or Short Chapters?

Ehhh, it depends on the book and the style it’s going for.

Question 16: Name the first three books you think of

I have like five books on my desk right now, so I would just end up listing them.  Nah.

Question 17: Books that make you laugh or books that make you cry

Cry.  I mean, I don’t cry over books in general, but books that make me sad tend to be better.

Question 18: Audiobooks Yes or No?

Nope! Not at all, actually, I hate audiobooks! I mean, I have nothing against them, but I’m just a really visual person.  I can’t listen to podcasts either; I always get distracted.

Question 19: Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

Oh yes. I know I shouldn’t do it, especially knowing what I do about how little say the author often has over what the cover will be, but it’s tough. Especially when a cover has a half-naked lady on it or something.

Question 20:Book to Movie or TV adaptation?

Hmm, it really depends on the series, I think. For example, Harry Potter should definitely have been a TV series. However, Victoria Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, which I think is being adapted to television, should really have been a series of movies.

Question 21: A Movie or TV show you preferred to the book

Hmm, Twilight, maybe? But that’s a total cop-out.

Question 22: Series or Standalones?

I like both! I am kind of sick of the fantasy and YA trend of producing only series/trilogies, but they do have an epic quality to them.

I Tag

Rachel @ Pace Amore Gelato
Chelsea @ Spotlight on Stories
Steph @ Lost Purple Quill
Ayunda @ Tea & Paperbacks

This or That Book Tag

Chelsea @ Spotlight on Stories has nominated me for the This or That Book Tag! Thanks Chelsea!

Rules:

  • Mention the creator of the tag (Ayunda @ Tea and Paperbacks)
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you.
  • Choose one of the options, you don’t have to tell the reasons why you chose that but you can also do them if you want to.
  • Tag other people to do this tag to spread the love!

This or That?

Reading on the couch or on the bed?
The only couch we have in my house doubles as my mom’s bed, so I normally have to read on my bed.  I think I would prefer a couch, though, as reading in bed tends to be uncomfortable.  And then, if it somehow manages to be comfortable, I’m likely to fall asleep!

Male main character or female main character?
Female main characters for sure! To be completely honest, I tend to avoid books with male main characters (who don’t share the spotlight with female protagonists). I just have no interest in men’s narratives.

Sweet snacks or salty snacks?
Hmm, it really depends on my mood. I tend to get really intense cravings, and I also have blood sugar issues, so it just depends! I’m also one of  those people who loves mixing sweet and salty because of the contrast.

Trilogies or quartets?
I don’t think I’ve ever met a quartet! I’ve only seen duologies, trilogies, and epic 6-10 book series.  To be honest, it takes a really amazing series to hold my interest past a trilogy.  Normally stories that stretch themselves out over four huge books are slow and include a ton of superfluous details.  Also, I get bored pretty quickly, so there’s a good chance by the time I get to the fourth book I’m just about ready to bow out.  I’m really not a fan of this recent series trend in YA (and fantasy in general).  I miss stand-alone novels!

First person POV or third POV?
I actually like both! First person is so personal, it really helps me get into a character’s head, but third person reads more like a story, I guess, and it gives you the chance to be more literary.

Reading at night or in the morning?
At night.  I’ve been known to stay up until sunrise finishing a particularly compelling book.

Libraries or bookstores?
Oh, man. As a budding librarian, I have to say libraries. Not to mention, as a kid growing up with no money, libraries were the only way  I could read! I have so much respect for the library as a community center.

Books that make you laugh or books that make you cry?
Sometimes I like books that make me laugh because of something epic the character has just done, or if a character has overcome a challenge.  But I like dark books too! I just like to mix it up.

Black book covers or white covers?
Like, hardcover? Hmm, black, I guess? I’m not a fan of hardcover in general.

Character driven or plot driven?
A good combination of both! I need to feel connected to the characters on some level to get into the story, but I am not very likely to stick around if little to nothing ever happens. In general, though, I would say people know me as a fan of plot-driven work.

I Nominate:

Steph @ Lost Purple Quill
Sue @ Sue’s Reading Corner
Katie @ Read With Katie

 

Mystery Blogger Award

Man, I’ve been MIA for a while now! I was visiting a friend for a few days, and when I got back home I realized that I was somehow already behind on schoolwork (grad school started without my knowledge).  Given all that, I haven’t had very much time to be on here or to read! But I don’t want to leave this blog without a post for much longer, plus I was tagged for this meme by two people – Rachel @ paceamorelibre and Steph @ Lost Purple Quill.  Which means I’m mixing up the questions!

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The Rules: 

  • Put the award logo/image in your post.
  • List all the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and leave a link to their blog.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Nominate 10-20 people and notify them.
  •  Link back to the creator of the award.
  • Ask nominees any 5 questions of your choice, with a weird or funny question.
  • Share the link to your best/favourite post of yours.

3 things about myself

  1. I’m currently working full-time and enrolled in two Masters degrees simultaneously, because I am a ridiculous person. Well, actually, it’s because that just happens to be most convenient, in terms of finances and my Life Plan.
  2. I really want to get an MFA in Creative Writing at some point in my life. However, this would likely entail moving to the Midwest, where all the fully funded programs are, so it would just take a lot of planning and consideration.
  3. My favorite season used to be Winter, before I came to my senses and realized there’s really nothing that great about being freezing all the time (though I would always rather be freezing than hot, and I do love snow and Christmas!). My actual favorite season now is Fall.  It’s such an aesthetic-heavy season, with all the pumpkins, hot cocoa, cinnamon, sweaters, boots…plus Halloween!

Questions:

  1. What is your dream job?
    Novelist! Or something to that effect.  I’m really not a big fan of the heavily structured 9-5 routine, so pretty much anything that allows me to work creatively and/or from home would be the dream.
  2. If you had to live in another country for a year, where would you choose?Oh, United Kingdom, hands down. I was actually just thinking about this; I really want to live in Europe for a year, but not on the continent, in the UK.  In addition to the fact that I would be comfortable speaking English, the UK is very culturally familiar. I wish I were adventurous enough to live in a non-English speaking country by myself, but that’s something I would only do with a friend or significant other (what can I say, I’m quite susceptible to loneliness and homesickness). Plus, the UK is so, so, so gorgeous and cozy.
  3. What’s something you used to love, but have no interest in at all now?
    Anime. From the ages of 11-18 I was absolutely obsessed with anime.  I watched it all the time, I read manga, I bought action figures and various other paraphernalia. Now, though, I only very occasionally watch it, if I hear about a particularly good anime (Attack on Titan, for example), but for the most part anime has a particular breed of blatant misogyny that I just can’t stomach any longer.
  4. Describe your ideal breakfast in detail.
    This question is made for me! I love breakfast; it’s my favorite meal.  On weekends, my mother cooks full Egyptian breakfasts.  They consist of: ful, or fava beans, which are flavored with lemon, olive oil, salt, and cumin; taamiya, the Egyptian version of falafel, made of fava beans rather than chickpeas; and tomatoes with olive oil and feta cheese.  With this I usually like to have an ice coffee and warm pita bread!
  5. Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?
    Nope! My life would be much more exciting if I did, I’m sure. I’m fascinated by the idea of ghosts and hauntings, though! I’m one of those people who loves watching reenactments of a family being haunted or readings about various supernatural things people have experienced (and trying to figure out scientific reasons for them!). Funny story: my brother is convinced ghosts exist because when we were little, living in our little one-bedroom apartment, we both saw a chair move by itself and completely freaked out. I barely remember the incident, but my brother insists it happened and that it was a ghost.

Tagging

Because I’m lazy, I’m not going to tag anyone.  If you do this, though, be sure to link back here so I can read your answers! Oh, and also because I’m lazy, rather than make my own questions, you should just use the mishmash I’ve got here!