CONTAINS SPOILERS - DON'T READ IF YOU PLAN ON READING A SKY BEYOND THE STORM
via Amani's copy of A Sky Beyond the Storm
My initial thoughts on A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir
This is a brief, spoiler-free version of A Sky Beyond the Storm before I dive into my spoiler section. A Sky Beyond the Storm is both heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time.I absolutely adored this entire series and while some of what happened in the book was devastating to read - I am incredibly grateful that I got to be one of the many readers who went on this epic adventure. I had to sit with my feelings after reading this book.
Spoiler Reaction on A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir
In Chapters One - Six it was interesting to see how Laia was so close to the commandment with her invisibility but Keris (the commandment) notices. I also knew early on that the Nightbringer being in the spirit world could not mean anything good will happen.
Chapter Eight - We’re told that if one dies,they all die referring to Keris, Laia, Helene, and Elias (if I’m not mistaken).
Chapter Nine - My favorite quote: “A Scholar rebel and a martial blood shrike are friends and the sky didn’t fall in. Whatever shall we do?” It was so nice to see how far they have all come since the beginning of the series where they wanted to kill each other. How time flies.
Chapter Ten - It’s kind of sweet how Darin keeps reminding Laia she’s not alone and that she shouldn’t have to face The Nightbringer alone.
Harper and Helene’s romance really blooms in this one. It also brings more humor to an otherwise dark fantasy series.When I got to virtually meet Sabaa Tahir through the Third Place Books event attendees found out that Renee Ahdieh is the person we have to thank for the romantic scenes.
Thank you, Renee!
The quote that talks about how the world is not only full of bad things seem to be an ode to 2020.
In Chapter 12 - The part where Helene is like “The last time the three of us were in the same room I was about to kill you. Do you want to talk about it?” This part was hilarious and it was also the part where I had a feeling Helene might die.
Laia leaves later on and we find out that Helene wished she had said goodbye but also admires her for moving forward with her plan.
In Chapter 24: I almost thought a main character was going to die, but it turns out that the Nightbringer was just threatening her. Phew. Thank goodness!
Chapter 34 of Sky has one of the best lines: “Damn my traitorous heart to the hells.”
I thought it was amusing how Helene kept trying to put distance between her and Harper. But, this is the moment she realizes how much she loves him.
Chapter 38: The moment in Sky when Helene tells Darin how she’s like “Yeah, I gave you an escort because otherwise your sister will have my head.” Darin and Laia’s sibling relationship really improves in this one.
Chapter 39: It’s about time our main leads kiss. I’m talking about Elias and Laia.
I also adore the arabic references like Illyas, Banu-al-mouth, etc.
Chapter 41- We finally get a Harper and Helene kiss! Wow, Sabaa is really going all out on this book.
Sabaa uses arabic phrases and includes a story about Jinn who also walk the dessert. In this chapter, we’re introduced to Karina and it’s hard to tell if she’s good or evil.
Chapter 47- When Darin said, “Can I kick him? Just a little bit?” is one of my favorite Darin lines.
Chapter 50- Keris shows an ounce of humanity - WHAT? I was not expecting that.
Chapter 54: The part where Elias tells Laia she’s his temple and the answer to his prayer is my favorite quote. It also reminds me of the song Evermore from Taylor Swift’s recent album.
Chapter 56 - That scene between Helene and Harper was heartbreaking. I was hoping she’d get some kind of happy ending.
Chapter 59 - OMG - NOT DARIN!
Also a major character comes back and it blew my mind because I wasn’t expecting that.
Overall thoughts: I had so many emotions running through my head as I read A Sky Beyond the Storm. It’s been a long time since a book has made me feel like that and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Sabaa. I know I’ll want to read it.
Originally created by star is all booked up! (i was tagged on twitter (@starshynebrite on Twitter)
If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, I'm @goldenseeker97. Thank you to Rameela or Star is All Booked Up for creating these stunning graphics! Evermore came out this week and I can't stop listening to that and Folklore. My favorite songs are: Gold Rush, Dorthea, Ivy, Closure, Evermore, 'tis the damn season, willow, champagne problems, tolerate it, and long story short! I can't pick one.
Okay, so for this one I'd have to go with Zeyneb from Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali. I think it was so brave of her to stand up to her Islamophobic teacher and she also got a romance with Adam. I, mean, who wouldn't want someone like Adam in their life? Zeyneb is one of my favorite YA characters and I absolutely adore her.
I would have to pick Lucky from Somewhere Only We know by Maurene Goo. It's told in a dual POV and it's the perfect book for Korean Drama fans!
For Gold Rush, my anticipated release was A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir and it's easily the best book of 2020 in my opinion.
Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines has the perfect small town romance. It also involves a murder. The story is centered around West Ashby and Maggie Carleton!
I would say this could also be unrequited love and for that I have to select The Upside of Unrequited Love by Becky Albertalli. It takes place in the same universe as Simon Spier and if you're a fan of Love, Simon or Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda or Love, Victor then this is for you!
Sophia from Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron. I think if she wanted to, she could get away with it.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal, and Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali! I think all of these authors are incredibly talented and I resonate with the characters. They also have a way of making their book comforting and making you suffer alongside the protagonists.
I have to go with The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis because it's the first time I fell in love with the stories and it inspires a lot of my books. I also have to say it's one of my favorite series to reread.
"That's the thing about pain - it demands to be felt!" -John Green. I think Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters fit this song perfectly.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins because Katniss crept up on Gale in the beginning of the book and I think it suits the series pretty well.
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh reminds me of this! It's a 1001 nights retelling that also has an enemies to lovers trope.
I hate to say this one because it was a book I was really looking forward to but I have to go with A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi. I'm a huge Shatter Me fan and I thought it would focus more on the Muslim part of it but it didn't and I just hate seeing the same "white boy comes to save the Muslim girl" story. I'm well aware a lot of people loved it/resonated with it but I just want to see more stories like Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali.
I have SO many for this one!! I think Once Upon An Eid edited by Aisha Saeed and S.K. Ali, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) by G. Willow Wilson, That Can be Arranged by Huda Fahmy, and Dear Justyce by Nic Stone all have a beautiful message for readers!
"Please, leave me alone I don't want to think about the hurt you caused me."- Closure lyrics. I am going to have to go with Internment. It had the potential to be an incredible, ground-breaking novel but it chose to go through a different route and I'm so sick of books like this one. Especially when it's being promoted as a Muslim book. As a Muslim reader, I find it highly offensive.
I loveee this song so much and I have SO many recommendations for this one!! I think Shine by Jessica Jung, Frankly in Love by David Yoon, Saints and Misfits by S.K.Ali, Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin, Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, Crowning Soul by Sahira Javaid, and The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan.
Hope you liked this tag by @Star is all booked up! i don't know who wants to be tagged, but if you'd like to do this feel free to tag me on twitter so i can see your blog posts!
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Graphic created by Amani Salahudeen. Ausma provided the picture of her headshot.
Ausma Zehanat Khan is a crime fiction and fantasy writer. Her recent book The Bladebone came out in October 2020, and is the final book in her Khorasan Archives fantasy quartet. It’s the perfect series to binge read while waiting for A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir to come out. This series is also about a corrupt society and I got to talk to Ausma Zehanat Khan for a podcast episode on my podcast, Raise Your Words and on here for Muslim. On our podcast episode, we talked a lot about Ausma’s writing rituals and what it was like to finish a series. In this interview, we talk more about her characters and her writing advice.
1. What inspired the One-Eyed Preacher ?
The One-Eyed Preacher stands for any tyrant who governs without the consent of the governed, and in his case, someone who tolerates no dissent on how scripture may be interpreted. He’s clearly an ideologue, and I thought in the first instance of Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, but also of Dajjal—who is a figure similar to the anti-Christ in the Islamic tradition.
2. Do you have any writing advice for those who want to be writers?
I offer writing advice with the caveat that you have to find what works for you as an individual. But what I’ve found helpful is to read widely not only for pleasure, but to study craft and technique. There’s so much to be learned about pacing, character development and the art of storytelling by studying those writers who do it really well. And I also point out that the more you practice, the better you get. My first drafts are far from perfect, but I get them down and then I continue to edit and refine.
3.Who was the easiest and hardest character to write?
Arian and Sinnia were easier to write because I had a very clear sense of their personalities, their background and their story arcs from The Bloodprint all the way through to The Bladebone. I knew their histories well, and with Arian in particular, I was writing very close to my own background, history and heritage so that allowed me a fullness of expression that maybe other characters did not.
The hardest characters to write were Rukh, the Black Khan, and Ilea, the High Companion of Hira. With Rukh, I didn’t know him inside out from the beginning, so there were shades of Rukh that I continued to explore throughout the series, and I realized in the end that this was because he has an ambivalent nature, and that’s never easy to pin down. But it does also allow for a great deal of creative freedom. With Ilea, I had to keep asking myself what she wanted, as she had some forward progression from the first book to the final book that I wasn’t entirely expecting.
4. You mentioned that “Call the stars, Rukh!” is your favorite line. Why?
The line is actually from my favorite scene in The Bladebone. It’s said by a character named Arsalan who is the Commander of the Zhayedan, the Black Khan’s army. The Zhayedan are defending the capital of Ashfall from two besieging armies. The city is on the brink of collapse, but the Zhayedan are indomitable and battle on, led by Arsalan—a warrior whose skills and commitment to his people are unparalleled. Arsalan is a very straightforward character, the closest friend and confidant of The Black Khan, so in this scene as battle rages all around them, and the city’s fate seems hopeless, he continuously encourages Rukh (aka the Black Khan) to make full use of his gifts and his power. His faith in Rukh—who is a very dubious character—is what gives Rukh faith in himself, so you have this moment of quiet intimacy between these two men while chaos rages around them. That was hard to pull off but it felt beautiful and true.
5. What inspired you to write the Khorasan Archives?
The story holds that this is the oldest written record of the Qur’an, compiled by Caliph Uthman, the third leader of the early Muslim community after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Uthman was assassinated while reading it, and it is said that his blood stains the pages of this Qur’an. I was in the presence of a bloodstained manuscript—the Bloodprint, in other words. For those who are unfamiliar with Ausma’s work, “The Bloodprint” is the first book in The Khorasan Archives.
I wanted to capture that sense of reverence in the presence of the written word, and also that sense of mourning—the idea that a faith community was still mourning the death of this revered figure, and in the presence of his bloodstained Qur’an, we were deeply moved.
6. What is one thing you hope readers take away from this?
I hope readers come away from all my books with a greater sense of curiosity about the world, and with greater empathy for histories, traditions and communities different from their own.
You can purchase The Bloodprint here and The Bladebone here. Follow Ausma on Instagram and Twitter @askhanbooks to keep up with her adventures, books, and to see cute cat pictures.
I'm actually so shocked that no one else created a Dash & Lily Book Tag so I thought I'd create one just for fun. If you decide to do this or add to the tag please tag me in it so I can see it. Okay, here we go!
Picture taken by: Amani Salahudeen
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong is a Romeo & Juliet retelling like you’ve never seen before. The story begins in 1926 Shanghai and there is a blood feud between The Scarlet Gang and The Russian White Flowers.
Juliett Cai is the heir of the Scarlet Gang- a gang who believes their above the law. Roma Montagov is the heir to The Russian White Flowers and Juliett’s first love until he betrayed her. But when their own people are being killed one by one Roma and Juliett need to set aside their grudges and work together to figure out who is behind the murders before one of them ends up dead. If they can’t figure it out, they won’t have a city to rule over or anything to come back home to.
This is a story of love and betrayal. I adored this book and it has already been confirmed that there will be a sequel out next year! Gong has mentioned in an interview with The Inquirer that she has started plotting the book long before she entered Penn University.”Anyone can be the master to a monster should their heart be wicked enough.” -Chloe Gong, “These Violent Delights.” This quote is a glimpse into the gruesome details of the violence that occurs in the book. It’s one you won’t want to miss!
Furthemore, this debut novel also includes gore and loss of a loved one which makes it perfect for Game of Thrones or fans of Reign. This retelling is an own voices book with asian representation in it. The details of Shangai are so vivid that the reader feels like they are there.
In addition to that, Juliette Cai is ambitious and cunning. Meanwhile, Roma Montagov is tender and sweet making the two complete opposites. It made their chemistry and tension even more fun to read. As a reader, you will instantly be drawn into this story.
Chloe Gong is a twenty-one year old senior at Penn University. Gong is majoring in English and International Relations. You can find her on Twitter @thechloegong or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will often post teasers of her book and her daily life at Penn. You can purchase “These Violent Delights” here.
I'm going to start off by saying these are YA books that I've read this month that are 5 star reviews.
You can get Miriam's book here.
1. What made you pick Guinevere as the protagonist instead of The Lady of the Lake?
Honestly, I never considered picking the lady of the lake as the protagonist. When I first formed the idea it always revolved around Guinevere as the main character. This mostly comes from the idea of writing this as a series and exploring additional character relationships. Lots of things have changed from the original idea but the protagonist has always remained consistent.
2. I love that there were dinosaurs included alongside this famous King Arthur legend retelling. What inspired you to include dinosaurs and pirates?
The idea for the universe came in pieces. When I first told my husband my idea of steampunk and dinosaurs, he thought that it was a little much. But when he read the first draft, he realized that it all worked together. I have always liked dinosaurs, and they seemed like a perfect fit in the story. What is a dinosaur but a dragon?
3. This question is for the readers who also hope to be writers one day. Can you tell us about your writing process? As in: are you a panster or a plotter?
My writing process is fairly chaotic. Usually I have some idea of the basic plot but often add additional scenes in the middle as I go. I don’t write in order (e.i. chapter one, chapter two, etc.) but rather jump around. Once I finish a scene, or chapter, I try to leave it alone and not constantly edit it. Eventually there are enough scenes that the book comes together into something cohesive.
4. Who was your favorite and least favorite character to write?
My favorite character to write is probably Merlin. I had a lot of fun writing all of the knights, with her in particular. I don’t have a particular character that was my least favorite to write.
5. There is a lot of action in this book. Did you start off with something in mind (as in writing about dinosaurs and then adding in the pirates) and then added other elements or was everything planned out this way from the beginning stages?
I had an idea of what I wanted the world to be before I started writing the book. I really wanted to create this universe that blended steampunk with other fantasy elements such as the dinosaurs. As I went about writing the book, the scenes flowed into each other and a lot of the action elements just came naturally. What was really critical to the cohesiveness of the story was the editing. I did several rounds myself as well as had a beta reader read the book and give feedback before I began querying it for publication. It was in this stage of the writing that everything melded together.
6. What is something that you hope readers will take away after reading the Rise of Knight and Sword?
I just hope that readers enjoy it, recommend it to their friends, and are excited for the next book in the series.
7. How long did it take you to write The Rise of Knight and Sword?
It took me just under a year to write the first draft and then an additional six months of revising before I began the querying process.
8. How many books do you plan on having in the series (if you are allowed to say this)?
There will be several (at least four) books in the series. Right now, I am working on editing the sequel and writing the third book. I also plan on releasing a series of short stories focusing on each of the knights that will further expand the universe between books two and three.
9. Which character do you relate to the most (personality-wise or other)?
I would say that I relate the most to Guinevere which makes sense since I made her the main character of the book. One thing I wanted her to be relatable with is her internal dialogue and anxiety which is something I too have dealt with. There is a lot about her that is different than myself which is what makes writing characters fun.
10. Other than reading, do you have any advice for anyone who is interested in getting their book published?
Just keep trying. It took many months and lots of rejections before I found publishers that were interested in my book. Its hard to hear criticism and rejection for something you have devoted so much time and energy towards, but you have to reframe how you view it. Remember why you started writing in the first place and figure out what success means to you. Is it finishing the novel? Getting published? Selling a single, or a hundred, copies of your book? Being a bestseller? It is up to you to decide.
Created by sTAR IS ALL BOOKED UP
I read We Hunt the Flame for the first time this year and it's been one of my favorite books after An Ember in the Ashes series completely destroyed me in the best way possible. If you're looking for something similar to those vibes, then I HIGHLY recommend checking out We Hunt the Flame!! Moving on to the tag. I was tagged by Cait's Books!
1. ZAFIRA BINT ISKANDAR: AN EMOTIONALLY DRIVEN CHARACTER (OR BOOK)
I picked Laia from An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir. Laia only goes into the Commandant's home disguised as a slave with the sole goal of freeing her brother, Darin. Throughout the books, although she is a loveable character, you can tell she's driven by her emotions. Especially when it comes to her relationships with Elias, Izzy, Helene, and Keenan.
2. NASIR GHAMEQ: ANGSTY BOY A CHARACTER THAT’S CONFLICTED/AT WAR WITH THEMSELVES
Warner from the Shatter Me series. He had a lot of baggage due to the horrors his father inflicted on him and due to some of his own actions. I would say he's probably one of the most angsty characters that I loved reading about.
3. KIFAH DARWISH: A BOOK WITH LOTS OF FOOD IN IT (OR ANOTHER FOODIE CHARACTER)
For this one, I have to go with the food descriptions in 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon!! I loved the scene where Samir is cooking with Pinky's Dad. All of the food descriptions were mouth-watering.
4. BENYAMIN HAADI: A BOOK WITH A “MOM” CHARACTER (OR A BOOK WITH WISDOM YOU DIDN’T SEEK)
I would have to say Starr from The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is definitely the Mom friend of the group. She helps Seven and her friends out of trouble more often than she gets into trouble.
5. ALTAIR AL-BADAWI: A SECRETIVE CHARACTER (OR A BOOK THAT KEPT YOU GUESSING)
This is a tough one. I have to pick Cameron Ann Morgan or "Cammie" from the Gallagher Academy series by Ally Carter. She attends a boarding school for spies so she's definitely one of the best secretive characters.
7. DEEN RA’AD: A SIMP A PURE CINNAMON ROLL
Hannah from Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali is one of my favorite side characters. She's Adam's little sister and I love how she brings A and Z together. I also loved reading about how she's very observant.
8. YASMINE RA’AD: A CHARACTER YOU WOULDN’T WANT ON YOUR BAD SIDE
Nezha from Crowning Soul by Sahira Javaid. She's a force to be reckoned with and I wouldn't want to be on her bad side.
9. LANA BINT ISKANDAR: A CHARACTER THAT HAS TO GROW UP TOO QUICKLY
I have to pick Helene for this one after everything she went through in the series. Especially after what happened to her in A Reaper at the Gates!
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
I'm not exactly sure why I took so long to read this, but it was an adreline rush of emotions. I can't wait to see what happens in A Sky Beyond the Storm. An unpopular opinion: I feel bad for Helene. She had this crush on her friend for ages, but it was never reciprocrated. However, I hate that she's pro-Empire and feels superior to everyone else.
The whole thing with Harper and Elias is probably something I should've seen coming but didn't. However, who the nightbringer was took me by surprise. Finding out that Cook wasn't a spy or a villain was a huge relief , but I still felt like something was off about her. I've read all of the books so far by now and I'm going to do my best to stick to spoilers relevant to the first book.
In some cases, Marcus is far worse than the Keris and it explained all of Helene's odd behaviour in the beginning. I was shocked that he was also so ruthless even when it came to his twin. What a monster. Keris is also one of the worse villains out there. Worse than Thanos and definitely worse than President Snow.
Fun Fact: This book is inspired by events that occurred in Kashmir and Sabaa mentioned this in an IG story.
With all the plot twists (even a few of the predictable ones), this. was still one hell of a book! I absolutely loved it and can't wait for A Sky Beyond the Storm!! I'll be doing a review on A Torch Against the Night next.
A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.
Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.
(SPOILER-FREE REVIEW)my thoughts
For starters, this is an Adult book. The characters are roughly 25 Ideal for fans of Sarah J. Maas books who want characters that are a little more mature. It's very different from Divergent, but if you're looking for characters that discuss topics such as drugs and sex, then this is your kind of book! I also loved that it had a fantasy element to it so readers who enjoy fantasy but want to read about older characters will LOVE this one!
Without spoiling it for you, the only reason it's not a 5 star book is because it took me awhile to get into it. I think if the middle was as strong as the beginning, then this would be a 5 star book!