Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Inside cover blurb:

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.”

-from publisher


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Oh my god.

I started this book on a night when I was really tired, so I read about 12 pages and put it down to pass out. I was pretty underwhelmed at that point.

I decided to give it another go, however, because I’ve been seeing it pop up everywhere.

And boy, am I glad I gave it another chance.

Love, Hate & Other Filters is like three books in one- a coming of age story, a love story, and a lesson in tolerance. I’m always excited to see more #ownvoices stories out there, and I think Maya is a fantastic main character. She very clearly struggles with what her parents expect from a “good Indian daughter,” but I think it’s quite refreshing that she doesn’t want to renounce any part of her identity- she very passionately identifies as American, Indian, and Muslim.

I thought Ahmed tied the story together extremely well- from the narrow lens of Maya’s everyday life to the macro level of a horrible national tragedy, which is almost ripped straight from the headlines. We see the ripple effects from that one event, and how it can impact so many others in the most unexpected ways.

My only, tiny critique is that I thought that the story line with Kareem was a bit disjointed and then he just seems to fade out of the narrative.

Overall, I think Love, Hate & Other Filters reminds us that every human deserves love and understanding. And that’s a powerful message. Thank you, Samira, for writing this book. I think we need it.

Plus: Such relatable and vibrant characters. They seem like people you actually know in your every day life. I could come up with lots of other things to praise, but really, everyone just read this book because it has things to SAY.

Minus: Really just that bit about Kareem, and it hardly detracts from the story.

If you like this book, try:


A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena- While A Girl Like That isn’t out until the end of February, it’s another powerful #ownvoices title that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. It’s sure to be another show stopper, so don’t miss it!

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Inside cover blurb:

Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the second novel of the chilling New York Times bestselling series from Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—’Scythe Lucifer’—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being ‘deadish’ so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?”

-from publisher


For once, I actually like a sequel more than the original.

Thunderhead delves much deeper into, well you might have guessed it, the Thunderhead, the sentient cloud device that runs the world on behalf of humanity.

Instead of diary entries between chapters, like in Scythe, we are now being treated to snippets of the Thunderhead’s thoughts- these are probably my favorite part of the book because the Thunderhead and I seem to be pretty like minded.

Rowan and Citra practically take a back seat in this story- and a new hero, Greyson Tolliver emerges. He’s just a regular guy tasked with a secret mission from the Thunderhead. Let me just say, I do not envy him. You’ll see why.

And as we know from Scythe, *spoiler alert* Rowan and Citra’s mentor Scythe Faraday is still alive. And now he’s back, looking for the Land of Nod, where the founders of the Scythedom may have built a fail safe should their system become corrupt.

Looks like they might be needing that soon…

I can’t wait for the final book in the trilogy! Hopefully we won’t have long to wait.

Plus: Sentient technology, amazing dystopian world building, important ethical questions…and the Scythes are super cool.

Minus: We only get one more book! I’m not even a huge fan of dystopia novels, but I’ll make an exception for this one.

If you like this book, try:

Unearthed (Unearthed, #1)

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner- I’m not even sure what to compare Thunderhead to. But as far as advanced tech and a planet in peril, Unearthed might just do the trick. And this one has aliens!

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Inside cover blurb:

“Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.”

-from publisher


What. Just. Happened.

I seriously thought for the first 250 pages that maybe Holly Black had written a dud. Maybe she wasn’t the Queen I had thought…


Did not see that one coming, I must say.

So this is a heavily political intrigue plot and that’s the part that had me snoozing. And I wasn’t sure about the whole Jude-Cardan rivalry either, it seemed a like an awkward premise to me… but by the end Ms. Black had me convinced. I should have known better.

Jude was a very compelling main character- her revulsion toward the place that was simultaneously the cause of her parents’ death and her new home, a place where she wishes to be accepted but can never truly belong due to her very nature of being.

 The Folk of the Air #2- I am in, I am all in.

Plus: Beautiful, dangerous creatures. Deceitful magic. Cool spy scenes. A super badass main character. Amazing plot twists. I really liked this book if you couldn’t tell…

Minus: It was definitely slow in the beginning, but don’t let that turn you away! It’s totally worth it in the end.

If you like this book, try:


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas- While I think this series has gone on a little too long, the first one was fantastic.  Feyre, like Jude, is a mortal struggling to survive in a hostile Faerie realm.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Inside cover blurb:

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.”

-from publisher


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An evil queen origin story of epic proportions!!!!!

It has everything- feminism, dark magic, warring gods, court politics, Eastern culture… I could go on and on!

Xifeng has to be one of the most complex and well-written characters I have read in a long time. Her inner dialogue is rife with moral conundrums, the iniquity of court life, the oppression of female stereotyping…and even while Xifeng acknowledges every single one of these issues, she still goes in for the kill every time and plays everyone to her advantage.

Ugh I loved it! She is a woman with a cause and she will let nothing get in her way.

I’m not usually one for political intrigue stories, but this one is just plain amazing. I was rooting for Xifeng every step of the way.

And this is Dao’s first novel! Snaps for Ms. Dao because she knocked it out of the park on her very first try. Well done.

I CANNOT WAIT for the sequel!

Plus: Feminist AF, plus such great characters- you don’t know whether you love them or hate them!

Minus: The cover really does not do this book justice. Read it now!

If you like this book, try:


And I Darken by Kiersten White- A gender swapped re-imagining of Vlad the Impaler’s origin story. I feel like Xifeng and Lada Dragwlya would be good buddies.

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Inside cover blurb:

“Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.”

-from publisher


It didn’t quite live up to Doctor Who status for me, but it was a pretty good ride.

I love history, but I often stay away from books involving time travel because they tend to include pseudo-sciencey concepts that just don’t appeal to me.

Invictus does employ some of those, but overall the story is fantastic.

The cast of characters Graudin has created is superb. The book flips perspective quite often and each time you get to know just a little bit more about each person on board their time traveling ship.

Things started to get even more wibbly, wobbly toward the end of the book and there were some plot choices that I didn’t exactly love.

But it all wraps up in a conclusion I found very satisfying. I would certainly love to read more of Graudin’s books!

Plus: Time travel! Moral conundrums! Structure of time and space conundrums!

Minus: If you don’t like complex plots (think Inception or Orphan Black), then this might not be the book for you.

If you like this book, try:


Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin- When I first picked up Invictus, I didn’t even realize these books were by the same author! Wolf by Wolf has been on my TBR for a while. It’s an alternate history of WWII in which the Axis powers have won and a young girl sets out on a mission to kill Hitler.