Review: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light.
Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power.
Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game… 

Thank you to Usbourne for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange with an honest review.

I’ve been hearing good things about this one recently, but I have to admit it surpassed all expectations. I did not expect this one to be such a page turner with dark but really important themes. This book reminded me of SLAY in a lot of ways, as both are such compelling reads that focus heavily on race. I didn’t really know much about this book going in, so most of the themes came as a bit of a surprise. I’m glad I went into this one with little knowledge, however, as it made the book even more gripping.

We follow Chiamaka and Devon, two Black students at their private school who are suddenly targets of an anonymous texter who spreads their deepest, darkest secrets around the school. The two band together to try and find out who Aces, the anonymous texter is. Although this is the basic premise of the story, there was so much more to it than that. Both of these characters have a lot going on in their lives, resulting in exploration of sexuality, class boundaries and elitism.

I stop myself from apologizing-because what would I even be sorry for?

The writing was brilliant and really kept me on the edge of my seat. I buddy read this with Alex over 10 days, but every single day I wanted to keep reading when we reached the end of the chapter. I sped through the section for the day and couldn’t put this book down, it was so compelling and such an easy read despite the difficult topics it explores. Although I had my suspicions about who Aces was, the plot also kept me guessing and intrigued.

I really liked Devon as a main character and I grew to like Chiamaka too, although I never fully connected with her and definitely found her unlikable at the start. Devon’s chapters were just more emotional for me and I really felt for what he was going through. Both of their relationships with the side characters were also interesting to read about and I really liked some of the dynamics between the main pair and others.

Existing too loud?

Overall, this was such a compelling read that had an in depth look on racism and inequality. I loved how the teenagers had some really deep and important discussion about racism without it feeling inauthentic, which is something SLAY also does well. My only criticism would be that a few aspects of the plot felt just a little far fetched, but I would still highly recommend this book!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Everyone likes Humaira “Hani” Khan—she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they invalidate her identity, saying she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship…with a girl her friends absolutely hate—Ishita “Ishu” Dey. Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college. But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl.
Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after. 

This was just the absolute cutest. I buddy read this one with a few friends, and most of our chat was between ‘how cute is this’ and ‘how annoying is this side character’. Hani is a popular girl who has recently come out as bisexual to her friends, who invalidate her sexuality because she’s only dated guys. Ishu is an academic overachiever who wants to become Head Girl, but needs to become more popular to get votes. They begin a fake relationship to mutually benefit them both, which brings them closer together.

One of my favourite parts of this book was the Muslim and Bengali rep. It felt authentic, natural and was so lovely to read about. It shouldn’t feel groundbreaking to have this kind of rep in YA, but it really does. I was reading this the entire time thinking of young Muslim readers who will see themselves in these characters. There are so many little things mentioned in this book, from wearing hijab, to praying, to having peer pressure from classmates to drink, that young Muslim girls will not have seen discussed in books before. And although that is crazy, and sad, I’m so happy to their stories finally shining through in YA. I also loved how this didn’t try to explain terms or coddle readers who are not from a South Asian background, because it is not the job of the author to educate.

I loved how distinct the two main characters and their families were, both having their own voices and interests. Although they do become intertwined with each other’s lives and have some quirks that belong only within the relationship, they also remain true to themselves and their own personalities. I also really liked Hani’s relationship with her family, which was so wholesome and lovely to read about. I especially found that in comparison to Ishu’s parents, it was heartwarming to read about their interactions. Ishu’s relationship with her sister was, although complicated, also lovely to read about.

Despite some of the difficult topics and discussions, I found this one very easy to read and dip in and out of for the buddy read. I became absorbed into the story so quickly, and found myself becoming emotional for different reasons throughout, especially feeling a lot of anger towards anyone who hurt these two girls. The only downside I found with this one is that some aspects of the plot had loose ends, or sometimes felt a little frustrating – especially when it came to the racism within the school.

Overall, this book was so heartwarming and fluffy but also covered some really important topics. I really loved it I’d love to pick up The Henna Wars by the same author!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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