Hi everyone! Last year my best friend Fadwa (who runs the most amazing blog and booktube channel) (seriously, she’s incredible) (I hope that one day this blog will come close to the quality that hers is, wow) and I decided to each make each other a list of books we wanted the other to read, and then give each other a whole year to get to these books (you can find my post about this here). This felt like the perfect way to test out how much we knew each other’s reading taste, and a great way to force the other to finally read our favorite books and make them explore genres they previously hadn’t read yet.
As you’ve all hopefully noticed, it’s currently 2020 so it’s time for a wrap-up! Did I get to all the books Fadwa picked out for me, and did I like them? Did I absolutely despise one of Fadwa’s favorite books, which led to her flying out here just to yell at me? I guess we’ll see.
Also, if you’re interested in seeing what books I picked out for Fadwa and whether she liked them or not, you can find her wrap-up post here.
1) Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
I’m starting with this one because it is quite possibly the book that I’ve pushed Laura to read the most in 2018 and SHE STILL HASN’T, […] all is forgiven as long as she reads it this year *Gives Laura sidelong look*.
I’m very happy to announce that Fadwa can stop giving me a sidelong look because I did it! I finally read Love, Hate and Other Filters! This was the very first book on the list that I reached for because I was incredibly excited about it and while I have to admit that I don’t remember all the details anymore (I have a bad memory and it’s almost been a year, please forgive me) one of the things I remember most clearly about this book was the relationship between the main character and her family.
Their interactions, even though they might sometimes not be the wisest decisions, showed so much love, and I loved reading these scenes especially because of that reason. This book is quite heavy and shows a teen dealing with the aftermath of a terrorist attack, and the explorations of islamophobia are hard to read about but incredibly important and very well-written. This entire book in general is incredibly well-written, and immediately put Samira Ahmed on my list of authors-to-follow. I’m really happy I finally got around to reading this book, and I can clearly see why it’s one of Fadwa’s favorites.
2) Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
[…] But Under a Painted Sky is by the same author is one of my favourite books of all time, it’s also one of the books that I made Laura read last year and she loved it too so I thought why not give her another Stacey Lee book to read this year. And my copy has been glaring at me from my shelves since the day I got it so I’m planning on reading soon, so, buddy reading opportunities, maybe? Me thinks yes.
After loving Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee I was incredibly excited to get to my second Stacey Lee book, even more so because it was going to be a buddy read with Fadwa and that always makes a book a lot more fun.
I, as expected, really enjoyed our buddy read! This one, like all of Stacey Lee’s historical YA’s, was incredibly interesting and explored a place and time I didn’t know much about. I had a bit of trouble getting into it, but I immediately felt very attached to the characters and rooted for them. And even though it’s been almost a year since I read it I can still picture many scenes from this book so clearly. Stacey Lee’s writing stays with you for a long time after you’ve read it, and I love that. And even though I didn’t adore this book as much as Under a Painted Sky, I still really enjoyed reading it.
3) Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
[…] It’s just such a cutesy fluffy read that’s all about friendship with a little bit of sweet romance thrown in there, and a lot of nerdiness and teens with different interests that still manage to be close friends. It’s just an unfiltered happiness kind of book. Which Laura deserves forever and ever. All the happy all the time.
Fadwa was absolutely right about this book. I loved it so so much and I couldn’t stop smiling while reading it. Gideon has easily become one of my favorite YA love interests because he’s so incredibly kind and caring, but also so ridiculously funny. I’m not a person who’s very into shipping, but I shipped the main pair in this so, so much.
And not only did I love the romance, the friendships are A+ too! I’d never really read a hate-to-love friendship before and I’m 100% here for it, and the bonding over fandoms? The fact that the powercouple in this high school is an f/f couple? Just, this book made me ridiculously happy and I’m so grateful that Fadwa made me read it.
4) Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
Oof, this book. This book absolutely destroyed me back when I read it but at the same time, it’s such a hopeful and important read, discussing topics that aren’t really discussed that much and are frowned upon. It discusses forced marriage in a very detailed and gutting way but like I said, it’s also hopeful, so hopeful that I found myself crying happy tears at the end.
Now this first sentence is exactly why I… didn’t read it. Oops. Please forgive me, Fadwa. The thing is, this book has been on my TBR forever and I do still want to read it, but because this book is so heavy I want to wait for a time in which I’m feeling mentally okay enough to handle it. And sadly this year just didn’t have a lot of those moments. So… someday!
5) A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert
If you know me, you know that I’m a HUGE romance fan, it’s my go to pick-me-up genre and it has been for a decade (not hyperbolic) so of course a romance book would sneak into this list. And as I kept thinking which book to choose, I thought of Talia Hibbert, [..] It’s also super cosy and domestic, with a fat Black autistic woman as the heroine and her big teddy bear of a neighbor as a hero.
So, I’m incredibly happy to say that this book completely changed my outlook on romance books overall. I had read romance before, not a lot but a few, and while I really loved these books they also made me feel kinda… hopeless? These books mostly featured conventionally attractive, neurotypical people falling in love with each other and after reading these books I’d always look at myself and be like, “how high is the chance that someone is ever going to love you like this?” which… is sad. And kinda personal. I know, but there’s a point to me sharing this, I promise.
Reading about a heroine who is fat and neurodiverse, who is so unlike the heroine’s I was used to reading and very wrongly and ignorantly assumed the entire romance genre to be full of, was so powerful for me. It made me feel like someone could love me for me, not just tolerate me and my neurodiverse “quirks”. This book made me excited to explore much more of the romance genre (which I was already doing because again, I did love the books I’d already read) and read a bunch more of Talia Hibbert books.
So, those were the books Fadwa picked out for me in 2019. And because we both really enjoyed this project we decided to do it again in 2020! We’ve already got the books picked out, so please look out for our 2020 TBR’s which should be up soon!