About Sarah Ansari

A hardcore bibliophile with an old soul. Usually anti-social, unless you're up to talking about books, what's the latest fashion trend, or have a deep and thoughtful conversation (hates small talks). An enthusiastic traveler and foodie - especially if it's anything sweet - with a love for mysteries and everything fantasy — which is why 99% of the time, you will usually find her lost in her own world. Sarah has high-standard goals for her future and is in the process of achieving them.

Internment by Samira Ahmed

“What’s that thing people always say about history? Unless we know our history, we’re doomed to repeat it? Never forget? Isn’t that the lesson? But we always forget. Forgetting is in the American grain.”
Set in a world where Islamophobia is the latest epidemic. A world where the Muslims of America are the new Jews of Germany, where internment camps are real and fascism has reigns on the government. A world so grim, it’s hard to imagine it happening but powerful enough to create an impact on the present generation into perceiving what is and can happen.
Internment is a dystopian fiction that follows the story of Layla – a 17-year old whose entire life changes instantly, after she, along with her parents are forced to evacuate their home in L.A. and are brought to — along with several hundred muslims — to an internment camp called ‘Mobius’. There they are told that they are to create a community built on, “Unity. Security. Prosperity.” (the irony of this motto will be hard to digest from the very first page)
But Layla is not in the mood to stick around, plastering a fake smile and act as if everything is just fine. Her resistment in accepting to build a “normal life” while living in a heavily guarded community barbed with electrifying fences a.k.a prison, is what builds the plot. Her unwavering determination for wanting and going against odds to acquire the freedom promised as a citizen of America heightens the incentive factors of the book.
From her Yemeni-Jewish boyfriend, David to her progressive Muslim parents to her newly acquainted friends (and enemies) at the camp – the characters are all interesting and help in equalizing the light and dark parts of the book. Unfortunately, we don’t get to read anything about the other characters – where they came from or who they are, besides Layla’s perception (or specifically, her thoughts) on them which I found to be a tad-bit disappointing. Because many of the characters who played important roles in the book ended up becoming a mystery with no background, making it hard to really decipher what to make of them.
Albeit the missing pieces here and there, the book does its job of instilling fear within a reader – not the fear you hate but the fear you learn from. This story had to be told and i’m glad Samira Ahmed went along to write this book based on her fear and comprehension of what’s been going on for the last couple of years – pointing out the prejudices based on race and religion.
Until we don’t learn from our history, there’s no saying it won’t repeat itself, no matter how confident one may be…

Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan

“We’re all monsters, Nadya, some of us just hide it better than others.”
A brutal, dark and blood-lust gothic novel with unpredictabilities as its core theme, Wicked Saints is that feel-good novel that will destroy you but will have you adoring it and wanting more.
“The girl, the monster, and the prince”
Nadeshda Lapteva (the girl) – A young cleric raised in a monastery high up in the mountains with the power to talk to Gods who whisper spells in her head allowing her to access powers strong enough to put an end to the century-old holy war between the two countries – Kalyazin and Tranavia. She is the only hope left for her people to not only restore the faith of the Gods but bring them back into power.
But are the Gods really the only ones giving her the power she possesses..
Malachiasz Czechowicz (the monster) – A blood mage with nothing to speak for but his name. He is the epitome of evil – an embodiment of darkness. Don’t be fooled by his pale, tortured eyes and devastatingly charming smile – this boy has a lot of lies hidden up his sleeves.
But is he actually just a man wanting peace or something more horrifying than we can imagine…
Serefin Meleski (the prince) – The youngest and most powerful mage of his time and the next in line to acquire the throne. But with a jealous father hell-bent on making sure no one can contest his power, even if it means assassinating his own son, and choosing a wife for himself – things are bound to get very interesting for this charming boy.
But what is that he truly wants…
When their paths entwine with one another in this shadowy world, blood will be spilled. Beauty and brutality will meet. The balance between light and dark will tip the scales. They will each find answers in figuring out who they are and what they are meant for – even if it means straying away from the path they have been taught to take – and discover the greater power that lies within them.
This beautifully blood-drenched fairy tale will sink its claws into you, never letting you go until you’ve turned the last page.

The Beckoning Shadow by Katharyn Blair

“I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

Vesper Montgomery has run away from her home and her family, because she is a monster, or more specifically, an oddity – a human with magic. Having caused enough damage to the people she’s loved her entire life, she knows she is better off a lone wolf. Her rules are simple – don’t trust anyone, don’t get too close to anyone, and do not attract the attention of Wardens — oddities who strive to protect baselines a.k.a humans without magic from any dangerous oddity. And since she’s a Harbinger — an oddity who can make someone’s worst fear come true — she is basically number one on their hit list, especially since she, herself has minimum control over her power.
When she comes upon the Tournament of the Unraveling, Vesper believes that this is her chance to fix the mistake she made two years ago. What starts off as a fight to redeem herself, slowly turns into figuring out the mysterious death of an Oddity, and also how monstrous one can become to save the ones they love, and if it’ll even be worth it in the end.
More than the plot, it’s really the character development that makes the book an interesting read. All characters in this book have a painful and heavy past that they are all trying to escape. And it
is this pain and grief that binds the characters to one another, allowing readers to see how far they come from the first time we see them…
Although the plot isn’t completely new, it still works wonders in captivating a reader’s attention – with its solid writing, evolving characters, and hard-core fight scenes – Katharyn Blair has you hooked. A must-read for fans of The Young Elites and Fight Club.

White Rose by Kip Wilson

Hope:(n) grounds for believing that something good may happen.
Synonym: This book.
No matter how dark and ugly the world may seem, there will always be those who shine bright just by the goodness in their heart and the strong will to spread that amongst others. Sophie Scholl, and her brother, Hans Scholl, are two such people whose brave lives we embark upon – till the end – in this beautiful poetically written novel.
Sophie was a free-spirited, optimistic girl with high ambitions – but when Hitler’s reign in Germany starts, things took a less positive path for her. Sophie reflects on her life drastically changing from a quiet school-girl to a selfless, radical rebel. Granted she was a German citizen, she was never on the side of violence, or the genocide of an entire group of people (whoever is?), and was against it from the beginning. But this feeling of hatred for Hitler and his actions of mass-murder in the name of Germany, became more prominent when her brothers and boyfriend were sent off to join the army, where youths were losing their lives, just for his thirst for power.
After reading a pamphlet that speaks out against Hitler, Sophie and Hans were driven to do the same, notifying people about the atrocities that are taking place – and encouraging them to stand up against the man – whose words were to make the nation a better place, but his actions proved otherwise.
Albeit not having a happy ending (which is mentioned beforehand), the rebellious stands taken by the young people of that time, is nothing less than a step at ensuring hope amongst readers of all ages – over and over again.
If you want to know what courage, conviction, strength, and finding the good in the ugliest of times means – this book is it…

96 Words for Love by Rachel Roy & Ava Dash

“People are a gift to this cycle of in your life. We learn in the ancient texts how all journeys are influenced by those who travel alongside us. We must embrace these fellow travelers. The joy they bring, as well as the disruption they often create. They are all sent as teachers.”
And that is exactly what Raya Liston, the protagonist, is going to learn. Raya is an intelligent, sweet, highly organized senior in high school, who just got accepted into UCLA (her dream college), and can’t be anything but happy…Right?
When she talks with her grandmother ( Daadi) who is on her deathbed, for the last time, her Daadi tells her that she left behind a few things for Raya, and her cousin, Anandi, at the ashram, she lived in before her marriage. Because of her old age, and weakening memory, she isn’t able to give the whereabouts of these items. But, Raya is determined to find those things and respect and honor her grandmother’s last wish. She and Anandi, set off to spend a month in the ashram and figure out the scavenger hunt (with no clues) their Daadi l eft for them.
At the ashram, they meet some very interesting people – specifically one with “eyes that were the deepest and most intense golden color” Raya had ever seen, who goes by the name Kiran, and will be the love interest of our beautiful MC — he is mischievous and has a love for film-making. He is forcefully sent to the ashram by his parents, and has no interest in being there – well, until Raya comes along. He helps Raya in figuring out the secrets that await her, while becoming one of Raya’s biggest secrets from everyone as well.
Every character in this book enlightens Raya (and readers) in understanding her own life, and her perception of what it means to live, what exactly to live for. Despite varying in ages, all characters blend wonderfully with one another, teaching something valuable – at the same time, hiding certain things about themselves, which increases the factor of ‘wanting to know what happens’ till the end. Specifically, what is it that her Daadi left behind for her and Anandi???
This is a book of first-love – spanning generations, of what it means to truly commit yourself to one thing — especially that strange adjustment period after high school — and of course, finding peace amongst the chaos of everything going on around you, and learning to embrace it.

With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

WARNING: I am going to be talking in terms of food, and everything related to cooking in this review. Otherwise, I wouldn’t really be giving this book full justice.
This book is a pot full of love, family, high school, and one barely 18, teenage mom – stir in a 3-4 spoonfuls of drama, choices between reality and passion, family (plus, daddy) issues, and maybe a teaspoon of boy trouble – you’ve got yourself the recipe that will have you devouring each and every page.
Helpful Tip: Have a snack ready on the side, before reading. It’ll save you from the dire need to get up and grab something to eat from the very first page – I guarantee it.
Emoni Santiago is a mixed-race, high school senior, and the mother of a three-year-old daughter (baby girl A.K.A. Emma), and lives with her ‘Buela. She’s a sweet girl, with a slightly tough and rough side, due to all that she’s had to endure from a very young age, yet tries her best to be kind to those around her. It’s her maturity to deal with the situations she goes through at her age, and her patience throughout it that grabs a reader’s interest fairly early on – especially teenagers. But her talent is what really seeks one’s attention – her love, passion, and skill of cooking the most
delicious food, that had characters end up crying in the book, and will definitely have the reader’s mouth-watering, for sure.
The plot is simple, with Emoni figuring out what she wants to do with her life, with high school coming to an end, while considering all the factors in her life – money, her daughter, her passion. When a new culinary class is added to the curriculum, of course, she has to join it, if only to indulge in more of what she loves, but a trip to Spain, which is part of the class has her having second thoughts, bearing in mind all her financial crises. The chef in her and her determination is frequently tested within the book and has readers waiting patiently (like waiting for cookies in the oven) for the outcomes.
The characters are all diverse and blend in wonderfully with the story. From Emoni’s best friend, Angelica – a lesbian, who will have you appreciate the power of women’s sorority – to the new dimpled boy in her homeroom, Malachi – whose smile has girls tripping on there feet, and will be the turning point of Emoni’s perspective/ attitude towards the male species (slowly, but surely). And let’s not forget her family – her grandmother, with whom she shares a close relationship, especially since she’s the one who raised her; her father, who isn’t around much, giving us glimpses into all those daddy issues; and of course her daughter, baby girl A.K.A. Emma, who is Emoni’s escape (aside from cooking) from all that’s going on around her – she sprinkles in just the right amount of cuteness this book needs.
The small-ish chapters make it easy to move from to another, not wanting to put the book down and will have you wanting to read ‘just one more chapter’ till the last page.

A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson


“For these were not ordinary books the libraries kept. They were knowledge, given life. Wisdom, given voice. They sang when starlight streamed through the library’s windows. They felt pain and suffered heartbreak. Sometimes they were sinister, grotesque–but so was the world outside. And that made the world no less worth fighting for, because wherever there was darkness, there was also so much light.”
MAGICAL. BOOKS. Has there ever been a more perfect book for bookworms?
What can be better than being raised in a library – in a world full of magic and sorcerers. A world where books (or grimoires ), not only talk and sing but can also turn into demons or as they’re fondly called Maleficits. And Elizabeth – our clumsy, yet fiercely brave protagonist – lives just that life (lucky her).
Elizabeth just wants to become a warden in the library where she’s lived her whole life and stay as far away from sorcery as she can. But when the director is killed and she’s accused of being behind it, despite being guiltless, she is sent off to the city where an act of heroism (or so she thought) by her, spins her into a web of dark magic, demons, and a mission with her world and everyone she loves at stake. Add in a handsome, witty sorcerer named Nathaniel Thorn and his yellow-eyed servant/sidekick/best friend Silas – it’s a rollercoaster ride full of romance, humor, and a whole lot of trying to keep out and away from magic and trouble, but failing miserably at it.

Albeit a slow start, the book quickly has you hooked. The writing is top-notch. The plot, the wonderfully developed characters, the beautiful and magical illustrations – will have you wanting to jump into the book then and there. This book is a must read for fans of Harry Potter and Septimus Heap .

Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson

Technically, I take forever to read texts and therefore am not the best person to chat with. Which is why when I opened this book and saw that it’s in the form of text messages – I wasn’t feeling inclined to read. But once I started reading – gosh, how CUTE is this book!!!
A sweet romantic story with funny interactions, two very interesting MCs – Haley Hancock and Martin Nathaniel Munroe II (yup, neat name, and guess what, there’s two of them), and a whole lot of chatting. The plot is a simple case of misunderstandings mixed in with a not-so-love triangle , and readers will understand the storyline fairly early on, at least earlier than Haley for sure.
Haley is a smart, innocent, introvert who hates being the center of attention and considers herself to be a weirdo. And Martin – the one she’s texting – is a sweet, equally as smart, guy who is smitten by Haley and wants to get to know her. But, like most modern crushes, this also starts with the guy texting the girl to start a conversation – beginning a whirl of mistaken identity and hilarious (and sometimes embarrassing) situations. Since the two don’t have a lot in common – both coming from very contradicting home lives, makes it even more interesting to see their relationship and their growing respect for one another develop throughout the book.

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali isa beautifully written novel on love (and a strong connection) at first sight, which brings to light many societal issues that we tend to overlook. The story follows the lives of Adam and Zaynab through their ‘Marvels and Oddities’ Journal which they were inspired to write – without knowing the existence of the other – after coming upon The Marvels of Creation and the Oddities of Existence manuscripts. These journal entries take us through their meetings (plural, cause it’s more than once) by chance in the most unexpected ways to their love story. Its progression is nothing less than a millennial fairytale.
But this isn’t just a love story about two people. It’s the love between and a child and a parent; between friends; love for one’s culture and religion. It touches on important topics like social injustices, intolerance, and serious health issues – leaving the audience enlightened on countless subjects. And the diversity in this book is PHENOMENAL. The story takes place in Qatar (for the most part) with a cast of primary and secondary (even tertiary) characters from all over the world.
Ali’s writing will have you hooked and feeling every emotion you can name. Both the MCs are so well-developed that they will have the reader connecting with them in one way or another, while questioning the marvels and oddities in their own lives.
Something I love about books is the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes for a bit and better understand an experience outside your own, and this really delivered on that front for me. I am even more glad that this book exists for Muslim teens who need and want to see themselves represented authentically in YA. My Muslim soul is fully content. 🙂

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Sandhya Menon, you have done it again! I thought there couldn’t be another great Desi-American teenager overly problematic life/love story after When Dimple Met Rishi, but of course, you proved me wrong. This book is all that and more…It’s basically 327 pages of me laughing-crying-screaming in the best way possible!
From Twinkle, With Love is Sandhya Menon’s sophomore novel, a young-adult contemporary ystory about an Indian-American teen filmmaker, Twinkle Mehra, who tells her story through letters to her favorite female directors.
Menon did a great job portraying Twinkle – a teenager, who is smart, but shy; is trying to free herself from her image as a wallflower; makes impulsive, foolish mistakes; has a passion for cinematography, and wants to build a career in it. but like most teenagers, she is also figuring out and doing her best to handle high school, boys (and trust me there’s more than one), Friendships, oh, and of course parents…
When Twinkle gets the opportunity to direct a movie for the film festival in school, she knows this is her chance to show the world what women are capable of doing, voicing her strong belief in women empowerment. Everything’s going perfectly – new friends, first crush first love, getting to do what she loves the most – directing. But life’s not a movie, and she realizes there’s more to it than just happily-ever-afters!
There are so many important, vital messages nestled into this wonderfully sweet book and they’re all handled extremely well, with writing that is seamless, characters that are charming and small plot twists which continuously pull the reader in.