#YA Mini #BookReviews #contemporary and #fantasy | Saints and Misfits & Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali and Spells Trouble by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Double double, twins spell trouble…

Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin witches, direct descendants of the founder of their town of Goodeville. As their ancestors have done before them, it is now time for the twins to learn what it means to be Gatekeepers–the protectors of the Gates to different underworlds, ancient portals between their world and realms where mythology rules and nightmares come to life.

When their mother becomes the first victim in a string of murders, the devastated sisters vow to avenge her death. But it will take more than magic to rein in the ancient mythological monsters who’ve infected their peaceful town.

Now Hunter and Mercy must come together and accept their destiny or risk being separated for good.

Spells Trouble

Goodreads’ Rating: ☀️☀️☀️

Spells Trouble by P.C. and Kristin Cast is a unique fantasy story with an intriguing premise and a creative rendering of mythological creatures.  I loved the whole concept of a town founded by a witch who anchored the town mystically by placing trees from different world mythologies around its perimeter. I also enjoyed that the strength of women, in general, is incredible, awe-inspiring, and even fun.  Its foundation is full of possibilities. 

What I wish, though, and really missed as a reader is character development that delved deep down below the surface.  The sisters are interesting as they seem to be quite different halves of a whole. Still, I never felt like I was taken below the Y.A. superficial aspects to the very heart of what motivates them and their potential to grow into the role they were born to fulfill. 

The support characters – Jax and Emily – showed more depth than the sisters, and as a result, I hope they play an even more significant role in the story to come. They are both supportive, loyal and are from families steeped in the town’s history.  Everything about them reflects this essential and multifaceted part of their being. 

I also enjoyed the cat.  If a cat could turn into a person, it would act just how the character is portrayed. I loved this bit of fun and whimsy in a story so full of grief and tension. 

This is an excellent read if you are looking for a light beginning to a series with a great deal of potential.

Saints and Misfits—a William C. Morris Award finalist and an Entertainment Weekly Best YA Book of the Year—is a “timely and authentic” (School Library Journal, starred review) debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

There are three kinds of people in my world:

1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose.

2. Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me—the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad.

Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds.

But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right?

3. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories.

Like the monster at my mosque. People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask. Except me.

Saints and Misfits

Goodreads’ Rating: ☀️☀️☀️☀️

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali is a fascinating look into the teen mind of a Muslim in America and what it’s like to reconcile being a Muslim and being an American teen and deal with the monsters that live among us. Janna Yusef reads as an authentic voice that gave me a new understanding and appreciation for the Muslim religion and its beliefs. And allowed me to explore what it is like as a young Muslim girl blossoming into a young woman trying hard to find her place in the world. I found Janna’s story of how she worked through the Monster to be very touching. Sexual harassment and assault are serious problems facing teens today. I loved how this story showed a light on a topic that is often hidden in the dark. Janna is a lovely girl with a heart of gold. Her relationships, especially with the senior citizen she takes to the Community Center, gave me all the heart-warming feels I would want in a story. Misfits can be saints, and saints can be misfits, and they are all delightful characters that I would love to read more about in the future. If you are looking for a book to open your mind and your heart, this Y.A. Contemporary read is just what you’ve been seeking.

In this fun and fresh sequel to Saints and Misfits, Janna hopes her brother’s wedding will be the perfect start to her own summer of love, but attractive new arrivals have her more confused than ever.

Janna Yusuf is so excited for the weekend: her brother Muhammad’s getting married, and she’s reuniting with her mom, whom she’s missed the whole summer.

And Nuah’s arriving for the weekend too. Sweet, constant Nuah. The last time she saw him, Janna wasn’t ready to reciprocate his feelings for her. But things are different now. She’s finished high school, ready for college…and ready for Nuah. It’s time for Janna’s (carefully planned) summer of love to begin—starting right at the wedding.

But it wouldn’t be a wedding if everything went according to plan. Muhammad’s party choices aren’t in line with his fiancée’s taste at all, Janna’s dad is acting strange, and her mom is spending more time with an old friend (and maybe love interest?) than Janna. And Nuah’s treating her differently.

Just when things couldn’t get more complicated, two newcomers—the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth—have Janna more confused than ever about what her misfit heart really wants.

Janna’s summer of love is turning out to be super crowded and painfully unpredictable.

Misfit in Love

Goodreads’ Rating: ☀️☀️☀️☀️

Misfit in Love is a relatable coming of age story about a Muslim American teen going through the monumental transition from high school to college.

I enjoyed the in-depth look at a Muslim ceremony that is one I have never heard of before. A nikah is a marriage ceremony but is somehow different from a formal wedding. We never get to see the wedding that Sarah’s parents have planned for Sarah and Muhammad, so I’m not sure the exact difference between the two except perhaps the formality. A nikah is a party where the couple is legally married, but it is very casual. It is not held in a mosque. In this instance, it is held in the lakeside gazebo on the groom’s father’s lake home. The family’s reactions to various aspects of the party are intriguing and eye-opening. I feel like I’ve moved up more rung on the ladder to understanding the Muslim religion and culture.

I found the exploration of racism to be very informative and relatable to feelings inside of other cultures. Sometimes, the worst discrimination occurs within a culture. For white Americans, there is inner discrimination found among different socio-economic classes. And, in Muslim culture, there is discrimination based on country of origin. I was shocked by Janna and her father’s first discussion about how Nuah is black and that this could be an issue. This started a conversation that spurred a much larger dialogue about racism among all the different countries of origin for Muslim people – Syrians. Egyptians, Europeans, Arabs, etc… I found the conversations to be very insightful and illuminating of the pervasiveness of racism.

The main character, Janna, totally frustrated me but in a relatable way that any American teen would. Janna can act so immature and disrespectful that, at times, I would just have to close the book for a while. Then she would have a moment of maturity and clarity that showed she is growing up and forming her own thoughts and opinions separate from her family. These moments were a relief, as her immaturity exhausted me, which is much the way parents of teens feel all over the country. I use to say that teenagers of this age have to be impossible for parents to deal with because it helps them make the transition of the separation that is to come.

The look into the Muslim community and authentic conversations about racism make this an eye-opening read for anyone and everyone. It’s the perfect addition to your summer reading!

10 Replies to “#YA Mini #BookReviews #contemporary and #fantasy | Saints and Misfits & Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali and Spells Trouble by P.C. and Kristin Cast”

  1. Spells Trouble is on my list still despite reading multiple reviews that didn’t highly praise the book. The cover pulled me in right away and it does sound very whimsical. I’m glad you still liked it.

    Excellent reviews, Tessa! Enjoy your day. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It pulled me in too despite the reviews- it never hurts to try a book, right? It has some issues but overall is okay. Definitely kept my attention ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You must have liked the first Misfits book to have read the second right away.

    I read another series by the Casts. Well, part of one. It fizzled for me part way through, and it took them forever to release one of the books. I gave up on them. I’m not sure I’m willing to start another series by them, especially with lackluster feedback on this book. Shame, because the premise is strong. Thanks for your candor in your review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love learning about other cultures/religions. It fascinates me to see similarities and differences to my own. And that is very good information about the Casts’ books!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry the first book didn’t live up to expectations (I definitely need character development in a book), but it sounds like the next two made up for that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just love learning about other religions and cultures. It’s so fascinating to me. And the Muslim culture/religion is largely unknown to me. So that was a pretty cool peak into their world ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We had almost the same thoughts about Spells Trouble. I didn’t care much for the sisters, but liked the support characters – and the cat!

    Liked by 1 person

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