Review: Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged

sofia khan is not obligedSofia Khan Is Not Obliged (Sofia Khan #1) by Ayisha Malik
Published: September 3rd 2015 by twenty7

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Adult
Rating: 4/5 stars – really liked it
Goodreads

Synopsis: “Brilliant idea! Excellent! Muslim dating? Well, I had no idea you were allowed to date.’ Then he leaned towards me and looked at me sympathetically. ‘Are your parents quite disappointed?’

Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene.

As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ?

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I picked this book because a) it’s an own voices, diverse book, b) the author was attending YALC and c) I’ve been wanting some adult contemporary romance in my life. And I’m incredibly glad I did. 

This book is about Sofia Khan who is a book publicist in her thirties, single, a Hijabi Muslim, living in London and the daughter of Pakistani immigrants. If you only take these descriptors, the only thing Sofia and I have in common is that we are single. Yet I found this book, and her character, incredibly easy to relate to. It also taught me a lot about her culture, about being Muslim in today’s society in a city such as London, and about family. 

I think this is the perfect adult contemporary for people who read mostly YA. Sofia is an incredibly funny main character, which makes her story easy to read. I laughed out loud several times while reading -which is always awkward when you’re on the train. The story has a light tone to it, while still tackling some awful subjects along the line. She’s witty, sarcastic and tends to overanalyze pretty much everything. Like I said, easy to relate to.

The story revolves around Sofia as she is asked to write a book about the Muslim dating scene in today’s society. To do this, Sofia actually has to start dating. She tries to navigate this life while keeping up her relationship with her family and friends who are all going through some things as well. I liked getting this insight in the Muslim dating scene, as I am not familiar with it at all. Reading about their difficulties (living with the in-laws, being a second wife, sex, meeting parents immediately, not being religious enough, being too religious, …) was incredibly eye-opening

I have to admit that I saw the “twist” coming when I was half-way through the book -if you can call it a twist, that is. And I think that this book was a bit too long and too short at the same time. It takes Sofia far too long to figure her feelings towards someone out, so that part dragged on for too long (in my opinion). As the reader, you only get Sofia’s perspective. And I figured it out probably like 150 pages before she did. But the part after she does I find too short. The ending of the story seemed to abrupt, and I felt like I had missed some serious decision making afterwards. I do have to say that I’m a fan of the romantic interest. Definitely. 

Another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was the focus on friends and family. Family is such a big part of Sofia’s life, and that is represented in the book as well. I adore family dynamics, especially complex ones. Ayisha Malik did an incredible job conveying both the love and the exasperation we feel towards our parents. There is no doubt in my mind that Sofia loves her parents. But at times, she gets really frustrated or annoyed with them. And I love that! After all, that’s the reality for so many of us. 

Then there are Sofia’s friends. I love how these girls are always there for each other, with ridiculous advice and terrible dating stories. How their experiences and goals in life are so different, and how they all support each other no matter what. 

Aside from the fact that this book was a little bit too long, there was one other thing I didn’t really like. The narrative is broken up in time. For example: 2.36pm “….” 4.52 pm “…”. I hope you know what I mean by that. It’s almost like blog posts? You read her thoughts and experiences at that exact time. I’m not entirely sure why that didn’t really work for me. I felt like the narrative didn’t really flow, because it wasn’t allowed to. The constant stops and slight jumps in time took me out of the story a bit. 

I would highly recommend this book. If you like contemporary reads, you should definitely give this one a go. Even if you read only YA contemporary! I loved the fact that this is centered around the Muslim dating scene, loved the fact that it’s own voices, loved that it’s set in London, loved the family and friends in it and really clicked with Sofia’s sense of humor. Is it a bit too long? Yes. But I promise you’ll enjoy the journey this book takes you on. 

Review: Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb | No Spoilers

assassin's questAssassin’s Quest (Farseer #3) by Robin Hobb
Published: March 3rd 1997 by Spectra

Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars – Absolutely loved it
Goodreads

I won’t provide a synopsis as this is the third and final book in the trilogy. If you want to read my reviews on the first and second book, you can find them here:
(1) Assassin’s Apprentice

(2) Royal Assassin

This is a spoiler-free review, even if you haven’t read book 1 or 2! 

 

 

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I should have written this review months ago… Oh well, I’m finally getting to it. This is the third and final book in the Farseer trilogy -which is the first trilogy in her overarching Realm of Elderlings series. 

It’s no secret that I have loved this series from the start. It’s definitely not one everyone will enjoy, mostly because a lot of people go into it with the wrong expectations. This trilogy is the story of FitzChivalry, a bastard to the King-in-Waiting. When they find out he has a bastard, he decides to step down (and dies -that’s not a spoiler by the way). Fitz is then brought up at the castle, and trained to be the assassin for the King of the Six Duchies. This is a slow-paced, character-driven story. Don’t go into this expecting one assassin scene after the other, because you’ll be sorely disappointed. Instead, you’ll get to know these characters like no other. They’ll become your family, your friends, and your enemies.

This book was definitely my favorite one of the series. I loved watching all the small plot lines develop and come together. There was so much going on in this one, and Fitz stumbled from one chaotic mess into the other. I felt for him, I truly did. During this entire book, I basically just wanted to hug him and not let go.

Obviously, there are many other characters I’ve come to love in this series. Nighteyes is probably one of my favorites. No one will ever trump the Fool though. Like I said, these characters will feel so familiar to you. Robin Hobb manages to make Fitz’s family feel like your family. Here’s one of my favorite moments of The Fool: 

“But for now, let me show you something else. No, step back, please, so you can see it all. Here it comes.” I heard the slam and the latch. “The outside of my door,” the Fool announced gladly. “I painted it myself. Do you like it?”

I almost cried when the book was over. I immediately wanted to continue with her Realm of Elderlings series, because Robin Hobb is an absolute genius. I need to read all of her works, and I need to read them now. I don’t really know what else I can say about this book without spoiling anything though. 

In conclusion, this book is my favorite of the three. I fell in love with so many of the characters -and wanted to viciously murder some of the others. I would highly recommend you read this series, if you haven’t done so already. I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Top 5 Wednesday: Characters’ Fitness Routines I’d Want

Hello everyone! I’m back with another #T5W post. Today, we’re talking about the characters’ fitness routines we’d like to have. As always, all the Top 5 Wednesday information can be found in the description box of my video. 

 

Arya // The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Bryn // The Kanin Chronicles by Amanda Hocking

Annabeth // Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

Annie // Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Amani // Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Top Ten Tuesday: For Fans of Myths, Fairy Tales and Classics

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. This week, I’m talking about retellings of myths, classics and fairy tales that I’ve really enjoyed. 

 

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1) by Juliet Marillier // This is a retelling of the fairy tale The Six Swans. I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with it before reading this book, and it didn’t hinder my enjoyment whatsoever. This book is absolutely brilliant, and it manages to create a perfect blend of Irish culture and the German fairy tale.

Cinder & Ella (Cinder & Ella #1) by Kelly Oram // Obviously, this is a Cinderella retelling… I adore this book. Not only is it fluffy and wonderful, it also tackles some more serious aspects of the main characters’ lives. There’s disability rep, a Latinx main character, positive therapy rep, etc. 

Thorn by Intisar Khanani // Again, I’m not very familiar with The Goose Girl which is what this book is based on. But I absolutely loved the reading experience. Intisar Khanani is one of my favorite underrated authors! 

Hounded (Iron Druid #1) by Kevin Hearne // This is a bit different than the previous ones because it focuses on mythology instead of fairy tales. The main character Atticus is a 21-century-old Druid. And he often gets in trouble with the gods. This series combines multiple pantheons. Obviously, there are the old Irish gods. And the Norse ones. And Maria and Jesus make an appearance too. I’ve only read the first two books so far, but I love them nonetheless. 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik // If I’m not mistaken, this is very loosely based on Beauty and the Beast. Please, correct me if I’m wrong. If you haven’t read this fantasy stand alone yet, I’d highly recommend it. 

 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller // Who is surprised by this pick? ABSOLUTELY NO ONE. This is one of my all-time favorite books. I love it. It’s sort of a retelling of The Iliad, because it follows the life of Achilles from boy to Troy -haha. But it’s told through the eyes of Patroclus, his partner.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler // I think this is very, very loosely based on The Little Mermaid? Anyway, I loved this contemporary read. It follows Elyse d’Abreau, who used to be the most beautiful singer in Tobago. Now, she can’t even speak.

Troy // Yes, I’m throwing in movies too. Troy is still one of my favorite movies! It’s a retelling of The Iliad by Homer, and stars Brad Pitt as Achilles. I don’t know what it is about this movie that just draws me in every time. (Well, it’s probably Brad Pitt…)

Clueless // Another one of my favorite movies! This one is just so nostalgic. If you aren’t aware, Clueless is a retelling of Emma by Jane Austen set in the 90s in Los Angeles. I watched this way before reading Emma. While I was reading Emma, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the movie, which made the reading experience that much more enjoyable. 

She’s the Man // I have never read any Shakespeare aside from parts of Romeo and Juliet. But I love this movie, which is based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

BONUS: 10 Things I Hate About You // Again, I haven’t read the original work this is based on because it’s another one of Shakespeare’s, namely The Taming of the Shrew. But I just couldn’t leave it off of my list! I adore this movie. And Heath Ledger.


Those are some of my favorite retellings, both in books and movies! I didn’t include any Rick Riordan, because you already know how much I love his work. What are your favorite retellings?

My #Viewathon Wrap Up

Last week I participated in the #viewathon! I thought it was such a fun idea. The movie/TV show equivalent of a readathon… I’ve been in such a reading slump lately, and I’ve been neglecting the movies and TV shows I want to watch for months now. So it was the perfect time to participate in the viewathon.

There were 25 challenges in total. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up watching as much as I’d hoped I would. But I watched more than I do in the average week, so I guess that counts as a victory. Anyway, here’s what I ended up watching! 

I finally watched Moana. I know, I’m so behind on these things. I loved it though! 

I also watched 3 episodes of Easy, a Netflix show I don’t think I’ll be continuing. It’s about the love/sex lives of random people in today’s society. The episodes are about 20 minutes long and I think the different people in each episode have nothing to do with one another. It just means that you don’t really know the characters or get invested in their lives -so I couldn’t care less about their sex lives, to be honest. 

I re-watched Wonder Woman, because I adore it. I also re-watched one episode of Teen Wolf because I want to continue and catch up with the show.

Then I want to the cinema and watched Dunkirk. I was so tense the entire time while watching this, I may have strained some neck muscles. It was an incredible movie though, definitely worth watching. 

Finally, I started watching Sense8. I have been meaning to watch this show for AGES and have never gotten around to it. I finally did it. And it’s epic. I watched 4 episodes last week! This is definitely a show I’ll be continuing, because I’m so intrigued (and attached to the characters) already. 

Did you participate in the viewathon? Have you seen any of these movies or shows?

On Reading Fan Fiction

The last few months, I have been reading less and less books. I think I’m in some sort of a reading slump, and it just won’t go away. The only thing I’ve been reading consistently? Fan fiction. (Or fanfiction, whatever tickles your fancy). I started reading fan fiction in May, and I’m still doing so in August. So today I want to talk to you about it! 

So which fan fiction have I been reading the past few months? I’ve mainly stuck to the Harry Potter universe. I started out reading Remus Lupin/Sirius Black ones -or Wolfstar if you prefer that name. I thought it was a “safe” place to start because you don’t actually get to read about their years at Hogwarts. They’re already adults when you meet them in the original works. So these stories wouldn’t contradict anything I’d already read. 

I fell in love with the stories, and with Remus and Sirius. After reading so many of the stories, there is no doubt in my mind that these two were in love. That these Marauders belong together. I have absolutely nothing against Remus and Tonks, don’t get me wrong. But it’s just not the same. I adore the studious, quiet yet rebellious Remus and the punk, loyal rebel Sirius. I think these two work so well together. And they are now forever cemented in my mind. 

After reading copious stories on Remus & Sirius, I decided to venture into different territory. I started reading Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy fan fiction. This is a pairing I never really understood before, to be honest. Until I started reading the stories people have written about them. Now, I’m completely convinced. 

Afterwards, I ventured out of the Harry Potter universe fan fic. I also started reading fan fiction about Skam, The 100, Carry On and some Six of Crows ones. Now that I’ve been reading them for a little while, I wanted to talk about the reasons I love it -and why I think people should stop looking down on fan fiction. 

REASONS I LOVE FAN FICTION

  • It allows you to read about the non-canon pairing you love.

I think this is one of the most important reasons. For example, you might read a book with a love triangle, and your ship isn’t endgame. Where do you turn to for the stories you wanted? Other fans, who agree with your pick. 

But in my opinion, it also gives voices to diverse pairings who are so often lacking in books. My two favorite couples are still Sirius & Remus and Harry & Draco (although I do love Ginny and Luna as well). And I think we can all agree that there is a disturbing lack of diversity in Harry Potter. That’s something we can never change. The books have been written, the story has been told. But in fan fiction, we allow ourselves to write a different tale. The story of LGBTQ+ characters, who didn’t have a voice before.

I love the fact that in almost every single story I’ve read with the pairings mentioned above, Seamus and Dean are together. So many of the fans agree that this should have happened. But it didn’t. So these stories allow people to see themselves in their favorite characters, when they couldn’t before.

  • It allows you to read more about your favorite canon pairing!

The direct opposite of the argument above, I know. I mentioned that I love Sirius & Remus and Harry & Draco. Both pairings are definitely non-canon compliant. But I’ve also read a fair amount of fan fiction on pairings that are canon compliant. I love reading Simon Snow & Baz Pitch (Carry On by Rainbow Rowell) stories, and Isak & Even (SKAM) stories. There is so much more to their relationships that the stuff we get to see on TV/in the books and fan fiction allows you to explore that. 

  • It allows you to read more about the characters you love

This may seem like the same argument as the first one, but trust me, it isn’t. When I love a book, show, movie, etc. I tend to love the characters. After a while, they start to feel like friends or family because you know them so well. The easiest example to me is Harry Potter. Growing up with these books, they feel so familiar. Yet the story has been finished for a while now, and there is no new material for me to fall in love with. 

Fan fiction allows me to read more about my favorite characters. To read more about them, more new material that I haven’t read before. To read about parts of their lives I haven’t been privy to before, such as the Marauders’ era at Hogwarts, the Eighth Year at Hogwarts, or anything between the war and the epilogue. 

  • It’s a great way for people to start writing

I can imagine there are thousands of people out there who dream of being an author. And maybe you are just starting out on that journey. You want to write, but you don’t have any solid ideas yet for your own work. Maybe you’re having trouble create complex characters, relationships and/or plots. What better way to start writing and practicing than by writing fan fiction? 

The characters are already established. You have free reign to change the relationships to your liking. You can make it canon or non-canon compliant. There is so much you can do, but you can always fall back on the established world. I think it’s a brilliant way to start exploring your writing voice.

  • You can choose how much time you invest in each story

I’m not sure whether that truly expresses what I mean, but here we go. Fan fiction ranges from full on novel-length stories to one shots of maybe 100 words. The word count is always mentioned on websites like Archive of Our Own. So if you feel like you want to read a full story on a certain topic or relationship, you can. But if you don’t have much time, or you just want a quick story, that’s available too. 

  • Most stories have trigger warnings, tags and ratings

I think this is a discussion many people have had with regards to novels lacking trigger warnings. If that is important to you, then fan fiction is your friend. Most of the stories have trigger warnings either in the description or in the tags so if you see something you know you can’t/don’t want to read about, you’ll know to skip that story. That can go from mental health related content, to abuse, self-harm and even the level of maturity. All stories are rated so you know whether there will be any sexual content in it. 

I know many people think that fan fiction is just sex (or kinks) and that’s it. I can only tell you that is not true. There are many stories that don’t include sex -and Archive of Our Own has an explanation of their ratings on their website. There are many stories with platonic relationships, friendships and fluffy romance. There are stories of asexual characters. There is a story for everyone. So if you have never read fan fiction because you don’t want to read about sex, fear not. There are plenty of stories out there you’d love too. 

BUT…

It makes me sad to think that so many people are missing out on fan fiction. I think there are a few misconceptions about fan fiction out there, which prevent people from reading it. So let’s get these out of the way.

  • Fan fiction is not necessarily badly written

Of course there are stories with awful writing online. Then again, there are also plenty of novels with terrible writing. I can safely say that there are so many gems out there, and quite a few people whose writing I love.

  • Fan fiction is not just about sex

Like I’ve mentioned before, there are so many aspects to these stories. Friendship, love, family… There are plenty of stories out there without any sexual content, if that’s not something you like to read about. 

  • You can choose which relationship to read about, so you won’t feel uncomfortable

Bear with me here. There are A LOT of pairings out there, and a lot of stories written about relationships that make my skin crawl. Luckily, such things are personal. I, for example, don’t want to read anything that has Harry Potter/Severus Snape as a pairing. I know that there are definitely people out there who love them, I’m just not one of them. Thanks to the tag system on AO3 though, I can easily avoid those stories. Thus, I only read stories about characters that make me feel happy. 


So those are some thoughts I’ve been having on fan fiction lately! Do you read fan fiction? If so, what are your favorite pairings? I’d love to expand my reading. Also, if you use a different website, I’d love to hear about that too. I feel like I’ve explored AO3 quite well already, and don’t want to miss out on anything.

I’d actually love to hear some of your favorite F/F pairings! I unfortunately have read/watched more canon M/M relationships that F/F ones, so I don’t really know where to start. I’ve read some Eva/Noora ones from Skam and some Ginny/Luna and Ginny/Pansy ones from HP, but I’d love to read more F/F stories.

Do you agree or disagree with me? What do you think about fan fiction? Let’s discuss in the comments!