what makes a book blog unique?

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Now I know my blog isn’t  exclusively about books but it used to be and for the most part, I still tend to publish more posts about bookish things than not. And I also thought it would be fun to approach this from the perspective of a book blogger. 

If you’ve been book blogging for awhile, you’ve probably asked yourself: what makes my blog unique? Everyone wants to stand out (and not just in a ‘we’re-all-special-snowflakes’ type of way)! So sit down & let’s have a chat!

Oh and I just want to preface this by saying there’s no point stressing about things like your blog theme when your blog is young. If you have the time/energy and you can afford to, go right ahead & invest in your blog. But if you can’t, then that’s fine too. You’re already halfway there if you’ve made a blog and there’s no point worrying about whether you’re doing it ‘right.’ I believe in fate and I believe in things falling into place. That said, I’d like to identify some things that have made certain blogs stand out to me! 

THEME 

There are so many blogs with stellar themes that leave me wishing I could code myself a theme just like that. *sob* Now, I’ll be the first to admit that a ‘good’ blog doesn’t necessarily need a fancy theme but it’s like the icing on the cake. And if first impressions matter, you definitely know people will stick around and appreciate your effort. (If you bought yourself a great theme, good on you! Perhaps I will do so too in the, hopefully, near future!)  

I love The Book Bratz‘s theme  because it’s simple but pretty. Everything about it screams effortless. Chiara Sullivan’s blog theme is (slightly?) fancier but I love the recurring images of the quill pen. 

CONTENT

It is hard (but not impossible of course) to come up with something that is 100% unique. Most often, us bloggers, prefer to build on ideas or topics. For example, book tags are still pretty popular in the blogosphere. But does anyone know who created the first book tag? Most likely, no. But we do know of bloggers who created a ‘type’ of book tag (ie. The Coffee Book Tag). This is just one example of how bloggers each bring a different perspective that makes their version of the feature interesting. Being opinionated makes our blogs interesting! Another great example are discussion posts which tackle various issues in the community. While some are very lighthearted, others are more serious and address drama in the community. In the end, there are always ways to make your blog stand out in your niche.

Some blogs with great content are: The Devil Orders Takeout, readbynicka, and Princessica of Books.

WRITING STYLE

When I think of bloggers with a unique writing style, Cait immediately comes to mind! Her writing style is very quirky and leaves me with the feeling that she’s talking to (or in some cases yelling at) me. However, there’s no point trying to develop a writing style that has the sole purpose of making you stand out. It’s better to simply infuse your writing with your personality and the results are more likely to be both authentic and satisfying. Other bloggers with a great writing style are: Claire, Of Wonderland, and YA Romantics.

GRAPHICS

Bloggers like Aentee @ Read at Midnight who designs all sorts of things (including bookish wallpapers & themes) are making a name for themselves in the community. The cool thing is that anyone can throw together a blog header or a simple graphic introducing a discussion post. But over time, readers come to associate a certain style of graphics with a specific blog. They know what to expect when they visit that blog and they return because they like what they saw the first time. 

Blogs with great graphics: Written Word Worlds,  Book Nerd, Bookish Whimsy

 

So these are just some things I’ve noticed. But what do you think makes a (book!) blog unique? Have I missed anything (important)? 

book review: highly illogical behavior

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Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?

Enter Lisa.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.

MY REVIEW

So where to start..I mean, don’t get me wrong, this book was incredible and it left me with ALL THE FEELS. I found myself laughing and crying and even smirking. And by the time I was finished with “Highly Illogical Behavior,” I felt like I was best friends with Lisa, Solomon and Clark. 

So first let’s talk about Lisa. Lisa drove me crazy because she was so obsessed with “fixing” Solomon. She came off as manipulative and I was a bit skeptical about whether approaching befriending Solomon with that kind of mindset would really ‘help’ him. But in the end, she does befriend him and I really enjoyed reading the lighthearted banter that follows. There are a lot of nerdy references to Star Trek (which I didn’t necessarily understand) and some drama at the end of the book. All I’m going to say about that drama is that once again, I wanted to jump in the book and shake Lisa!  She was being really irrational and jumping to assumptions without even checking in with her friends. But all of Lisa’s flaws only served to make her a more realistic character and I couldn’t help sympathizing with her sometimes. 

I think the best part about the book is that it’s written from both Lisa and Solomon’s POV so you can kind of see the ‘two sides of the coin.’ And Solomon was of course my favorite character. I still think Lisa’s POV was essential but Solomon was so sweet and funny, I couldn’t help liking him (more). 

And through Solomon, this book explores mental illness (more specifically: agoraphobia). Solomon’s panic attacks are described as “loops” and explained in such a way that the reader is left understanding and empathizing with Solomon. And Solomon, as a character, is really well developed and interesting. He may not have left his home in awhile but he still has a great personality (and he’s such a nerd). 

Perhaps it is slightly unrealistic how almost everyone Solomon interacts with is very supportive and understanding. However,  it was nice to read a book where things like being gay are a nonissue (even though Solomon does, of course, have to come out to his family/friends).

 

So would I recommend this book? HELL YES! Go read it! (And if you already did, I’d love to hear what you thought!) 

book haul! (6?)

Book Haul

It’s been awhile since I did a book haul but here I am! I am perpetually on a book buying ban because saving money and all that good stuff. But I still end up spending on books here and there so I’ve thrown together another ‘haul’ post. If you haven’t already, you guys should totally check out these books and add them to your tbr! I’ve already read The Bone Season, When We Collided, and Highly Illogical Behavior. I gave these books 5 stars because they are pretty freaking amazing. I’m reading This Savage Song right now and I’m loving it so far. 

(note: I haven’t linked to the goodreads page!)

BOUGHT…

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BORROWED…

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So what books have you bought/borrowed/read recently? Do you have any 5 star reads you want to recommend? 

I’m back!

Hello!

It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that “I’m back” considering how I recently published a book review of The Night Circus and I’m super active on Twitter but anyway, here I am! If you’re wondering why I took an (almost) 3 month inofficial blogging break, it was because I thought it would be easier to keep up up with school and pursue other projects if I took a little break. But in the end, I feel like I never really left. If I’ve learned anything so far, it’s that I will always come back to this blog.

But first, I had to make some changes. In fact, I finally changed the blog address to something a bit more versatile. And to be honest, I’m kind of relieved to have gotten rid of the name “Addicted to YA” which was supposed to be temporary. I needed a name for my blog and consider the fact that I might also end up discussing topics other than YA fiction. Now, I’m just glad that the theme/address/name accurately reflects my blog posts. 

Summer break started a few weeks ago which means I’ve been investing more time in various creative endeavors! Speaking of which, I have quite a lot of things to share with you guys!

I think I may have mentioned my newsletter, fleet-footed thoughts,” on this blog earlier but while I was gone, I sent out four emails and I think the results have been pretty good considering this is my first newsletter. And by the way, I emailed subscribers, weeks ago, about some of the things I’m talking about in this post so if you’re interested in receiving early and punctual updates, you should definitely sign up. 

I was also accepted into the Adroit Journal’s summer mentorship program which started last week. I think it’s a great opportunity to interact with like-minded writers and get feedback so I’m excited to see how my writing grows and improves. 

I was also published in various places! “Moth,” was published by The Mira Project which is “currently running a campaign against street harassment.”  And “Apology” was published in Some Safer Place which is an anthology of intersectional narratives around adolescence and early adulthood. “The Summer I Turned 13” appeared in the June 2016 edition of Teen Ink Magazine. Two poems were also published in Hypertrophic Literary’s Summer 2016 issue (you should order a copy!) and I was incredibly excited to see my work in print. Most recently, I have multiple poems forthcoming and published in Eunoia Review

I finally got around to making an main website of sorts which has links to my blog, newsletter, social media, chapbook, etc. I also got to claim deluged’s goodreads page which means I’m now a goodreads author! 

One last thing before I end this post – I’ve actually unpublished a lot of the projects I was posting chapters for on Wattpad. (I’m referring to things like Sleepless which I discussed on the blog a few times.) This is because I, either lost interest, or decided I needed to revamp the project or I needed a break from it. Nonetheless, I’m currently plodding my way through a novella with the temporary title, “Project Hot Chocolate,” right now. I’ve written 10K+ words so far and I hoping to finish it before school starts in August!

Alright, that was a pretty long post..but I want to know what you guys have been up to! How has life been?? TELL ME ALL!!

the night circus // slow-paced with gorgeous prose

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Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lvies of all those involved–the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them–are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.

But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.

My Review

Warning: There are minor spoilers!

This is a really slow book and especially in the beginning, I felt like it wasn’t really going anywhere. At times, it’s even possible to forget what the central plot is because the author takes her time describing characters, the setting, the magick, and basically anything and everything that could possibly be described. I am a total snob when it comes to writing style but luckily enough, I absolutely loved the prose in The Night Circus. 

I must admit that the blurb is slightly misleading. The competition between Celia and Marco is really not that fierce and it was kind of frustrating how it took half the book for Celia to figure out who her opponent is..it’s constantly implied that she’s very talented and smart and the fact that she wasn’t sure who she was up against, really didn’t add to the tension. Generally speaking, the book isn’t as dramatic as the blurb leads you to believe but it is a work of art, nonetheless.

The characters were incredible! Even many of the secondary characters have a very complex back story so by the end of the story, I kind of felt like I was reading about people I knew. It’s also worth noting that there were many characters (but I personally didn’t find it hard to keep track of them as they all had unique personalities).

Like I said, this book is really slow-paced and things only really start happening about halfway through the book. The book also jumped around a lot (from past-to-present and vice versa) and each chapter would be from a different (third person) POV.  I think this kept things interesting (especially when a previous chapter ended on a minor cliffhanger).

I would definitely recommend this book but not to someone who is looking for something fast-paced. But if you’re looking for something unique and adore long meandering descriptions then this is the book for you. 

monthly recap // february

Hello!

I think this at the start of every month but I feel like February really did just fly by. It feels like I was literally telling myself to actually work toward accomplishing my goals and now I’m left having been a lot less productive than I wanted to be but still quite ambitious..I’d like to blame the less-productiveness on the fact that I fell sick again (I caught the flu!) and I was starting to think I’m okay but I caught a cold again! (Maybe I never fully recovered???) Anyway, I did end up working a little on my various ongoing projects (just haven’t had time to update wattpad! sorry!) and I’ve also started working on two chapbooks. 

I was initially wary of committing to more projects but I already had a nice group of published & unpublished poems that I could use for the first chapbook. As for the second – well I’m planning on basing it a little bit on my own life (so basically it’s from the perspective of a high school student). I’ve always enjoyed writing things that are loosely inspired by my own life so unless that changes, I probably won’t give up on that chapbook. (I say that every time so we shall see.) But the first poetry collection is the one I’m focusing on right now – it’s quite small, only about 13 poems I think. I spent most of last week editing the poems and I’m excited to share them with you guys. This month, I’ve also gotten a lot more active online and IRL. I’ve been pushing myself to more thoroughly edit the poetry that I post on my tumblr writing blog. Oh and my poetry was published in The Fem and The Rising Phoenix Review. (To those of you who follow me on social media, sorry for mentioning this again! <3)

Blog Posts

BOOK REVIEWS

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

The Hit List by Nikki Urang

OTHER

poetry | MATH CLASS or WEIGHTLESS

snazzy snippets: valentine’s edition

Oh and I also ended up buying some chapbooks on the kindle store! I bought Howling at the Moon and Give Me A God I Can Relate To.

So how are you?? Did you end up starting/finishing/working on any projects? What are you excited about? And do you have any poetry collection(s) recommendations?

snazzy snippets: valentine edition

snazzy snippets

Snazzy Snippets is an awesome bimonthly link-up for writers. It’s hosted by Emily @ Loony Literate and Alyssa @ The Devil Orders Takeout. It’s a great opportunity to share snippets of your writing (500 words or less). 

 Today, I am going to cheat a little and share the first 700 words of my short story, The Circus. It’s basically a response to all of the prompts (A heartwarming snippet that makes readers go “aww!” or A kissing snippet or A snippet where love interests first appear together). Also, I shared a different snippet from this story last time and you can read that snippet here! 

The Circus

For weeks Safa and Raizal meet at the bookstore and brush fingers as they browse. They fall in love over steaming cups of cocoa, make out in coffee shops and lose themselves in back-alleys. But eventually Safa grows tired of being a secret.

That afternoon, disappointment settles deep in her stomach when Raizal, once again, doesn’t invite Safa to her house. Raizal has been to Safa’s house twice and each time it was a tense affair consisting of silence and unease – Amma banging the dishes angrily because she was furious that Safa had “chosen this life.” But for Safa, this decision was made five years ago when she began falling in and out of love, reaching for different kinds of happiness each time. There were crushes. And her heart trembled each time she saw the girl. But soon she forgot them, keeping only photos to remind her of affairs gone south. Now, the only person she glanced longingly at was Raizal, another good behti who had ended up choosing love, chosen her instead of stern parents who claimed it was “just a phase.”

Today, Safa is tired, emotionally worn-out but she is also hopeful. She dresses aching slowly, fumbles her way through a closet full of dresses before finally choosing a semi-sheer dress that clings to her hips. Safa stands in front of a full-length mirror and braids her hair into a fishtail. For now, the fact that Raizal hasn’t given up on this relationship will be enough.

She opens the door to find Raizal sitting on the sidewalk, reading a book, the wind playing with her long brown hair. She hates that they have to exist like this, ignoring the tension in her house and the nosy neighbors who clearly disapprove.

Last night, Safa shattered every vase, fingers trembling, and mouth tight when Amma dared suggest that someone might actually hurt Raizal because she chooses to love differently. Some days it’s difficult to control the magick but there is nothing she wouldn’t do to keep her girlfriend safe.

“Hello,” murmurs Raizal, putting down the book and standing up. She opens and closes her mouth several times before finally whispering, “Is everything okay?” When she licks her lips nervously, Safa can’t stand it anymore. She pulls Raizal close and kisses her. Then there is only silence and sunlight, soft breathless sounds escaping Safa’s mouth.

“You know I can’t think when you do that,” says Safa, wrapping an arm around Raizal’s waist. Raizal’s top rides up and she rests a hand on the sliver of skin between the top and her black skirt.

“When were you going to tell me?”

“About what?” Safa tenses, pulling away from Raizal so she can face her.

“You didn’t tell me you have magick.”

“It’s not something I like to speak about.” Safa doesn’t know how to explain that magick is not a good thing in her hands – she has spontaneously combusted more times than she can count and most importantly, she doesn’t want to scare away Raizal.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Raizal repeats like a broken record.

“I don’t know.” Safa could fill a hundred notebooks with things she does not know.

“Okay. Okay.” There is a pause and Safa’s heart stutters to a halt. 

“I love you,” blurts Safa.

Raizal blushes and changes the subject as one does when they’re not quite ready to say ‘I love you’ back. “I…went to the bookstore.”

Raizal picks up a hardcopy of The Secret History from where it rests beside a flowerpot and hands it to Safa. Clouds heavy with rain are clustering above them and Safa is consumed with the sudden urge to pull Raizal inside and kiss her silly. A tattered flyer floats down and lands on top of Safa’s head.

THE CIRCUS IS HERE (again)!

From March 1st to March 3rd, come escape your mundane life!

“We should go!” Raizal’s eyes are bright with excitement and Safa smiles okay. She doesn’t want to deny Raizal this even though the circus is the last thing Safa wants to visit. She hasn’t told Raizal about her family’s enemies. “The ringmaster is not to be trifled with!” Safa’s father likes to scream on many a drunken night but freedom tastes like Raizal’s lips on her own and Safa thinks it would be fun to visit the circus, just this once.

So! Perhaps you’d like to share some thoughts on this snippet? Would you be interested in reading the rest of my story? Also, I’d love to hear what you’re working on!

poetry | MATH CLASS or WEIGHTLESS

I’M TRYING NOT TO FALL ASLEEP –
MATH CLASS = boy with ink-black hair,
girl shaping poetry in her hands,
A class of students struggling to understand.
WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN?
we are a mess of confusion & I fold in on myself,
trace a heart on a folding chair collapsed against the wall;
the internet tells me people are dying,
(THIS IS A DIGITAL AGE)
my heart aches, I hate sitting here crunching numbers.
the world is crashing & burning,
and i am lurching toward an unsteady future.
I didn’t think it would end like this,
blood splattered on the screen of my iPhone.
CAN WE MOVE ON NOW? PLEASE?
Our teacher is tired of discussing the same topic,
she looks exhausted, hair spilling down the small of her back.
I tell her I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND &
the crescent moons beneath her eyes deepen –
she reminds me of my mother, hugging herself
in the dawn light, wiping the dust off a suitcase and
without meaning to, I am putting my arms around her,
asking if she is okay (I don’t remember her answer).
I wake up as class ends, the boy tells me I fell asleep
on the couch like he understands the weightlessness
I craved. He also says I got an A on the math test.

Book Review: The Hit List by Nikki Urang

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Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

Release Date: November 11th 2014

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: 3.5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

The Los Angeles Conservatory for the Arts is supposed to be a new beginning for Sadie Bryant. Moving across the country is exactly what she needs to escape the gossip surrounding her injury, the devastating betrayal of her ex-partner, and to rebuild her career as a solo dancer.

When the school announces that the annual Fall Showcase, a performance that secures a spot studying in London, will now require each dancer to have a partner, Sadie’s fresh start is a nightmare. Now she has to dance with Luke Morrison, the school womanizer with a big ego. Sadie doesn’t know how to trust Luke enough to dance with him after her last partner left her broken, but Luke is determined to change that.

Then, The Hit List comes out. A game of sexual conquest where guys get points for all the girls they hook up with—and it seems like every guy at the school is playing.

The girl worth the most points? Sadie.

My Review

Warning: There are spoilers! 

I skim-read most of this book because I didn’t find it that interesting. The plot seemed to consist of Sadie’s experiences going to class and various other daily activities and the characters weren’t well developed. There were also chapters that mainly consisted of online updates about the Hit List on the school’s tumblr. I also didn’t like Sadie’s character. I understood that she was struggling with abandonment issues but she would constantly complain and take her anger out on or push away people who were trying to help her..so after a while, I just got frustrated. She also doesn’t seem to care about the fact that other people, apart from her, got hurt by The Hit List. After finding out who’s behind it, I couldn’t believe she just pulled a “forgive and forget.” I mean, what about the other victims? This is a game of sexual conquest!! Why would she think it’s okay to not hand in the person who is responsible for it just because she (barely) knows that person.

But I did like Luke because he tries to help Sadie with her abandonment issuesHowever, his character isn’t that well developed and we learn most of the things about him from what other people say and what Sadie therefore thinks. My perception of his character changed a lot throughout the book until I was finally shipping him with Sadie..but, sorry just have to say this, the romance is predictable too.

The ending was also really disappointing. The plot twist was unexpected, yes, but also frustrating because that was it. The story was perfectly wrapped up or something but I felt like there were still issues waiting to be addressed. I mean, yay she finally gets over Patrick and how he let her fall but she up until that point (so like 90% of the book) she’s a hot mess and takes out her anger on other people. Sadie just takes too long to realize that yeah, shit happens, but the only thing you can do is move on with your life.

Book Review: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

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Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Release Date: May 12th 2015

Genre: Sci-Fi > Dystopia, YA

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa doesn’t want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Kiran’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view—Sudasa’s in verse and Kiran’s in prose—allowing readers to experience both characters’ pain and their brave struggle for hope.

My Review

Since I absolutely LOVED this book..I am just going to talk about why (and point out a few flaws to stay objective):

DIVERSITY. 5 to 1 is set in India and for me (an Indian girl who is obsessed with YA fiction but doesn’t see that many books featuring Indian MCs) that is very exciting. (And I know there are other books with Indian MCs.) Anyway, I was impressed by how spot on the dialogue and descriptions of the character’s life. Even though it’s a dystopian book, there were similarities (terms of endearment for example) between what I know/experience in India and what was described. However, I did pick up on the fact that even though 5 to 1 features a different culture, some of the foreign terms go unexplained (which of course won’t be an issue if you know the language).  I think this was a minor issue but I did notice other bloggers mention it in their reviews and I thought it would be a good idea to point out.

And oh you guys, it’s been so long since I read a sci-fi book that is actually original. Many of the dystopian books I’ve read are painfully cliche and too similar to their peers. That is one of the reasons why I’ve been reading more contemporary or fantasy than sci-fi. But this book restored my faith in this genre. It is not only unique but it also features diverse characters living in a society that is barely discussed in YA. To top it all off, the author’s writing style changes as she alternates between the view points of the two main characters. Sudasa’s verse is kind-of intimate and familiar while Kiran’s prose is blunt and clipped but just as heartfelt. But most importantly, both characters allow us to experience their emotions, their struggle, their life.

Lastly this book tackles a lot of issues and topics while conveying the very feminist message to fight for your ideals no matter what. I couldn’t help empathizing with Sudasa’s struggle to live the way she wants to despite what society – particularly her grandmother – expects of her. Kiran, on the other hand, was harder to connect to. To some extent I sympathized with his desperation and the fact that he didn’t want to become Sudasa’s husband but his character wasn’t developed as well as Sudasa. While I became intimately familiar with Sudasa’s relationship with the various people in her life, I didn’t get to experience that as much with Kiran…and that is probably why I couldn’t connect with his character.

To be fair, this book is quite short and doesn’t have a very complicated plot. I enjoyed the break from reading novels withs tons of action and intricate plots but if you’re looking for a book like that, 5 to 1 isn’t for you. But if you want to read a diverse dystopian with captivating characters and a feminist message – then all I can say is….

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