Lately With Lila June 2022 | [Insert Kamala Harris Saying “We Did It, Joe” Here]

Hello, dear friends, how’s it going? I hope all is well and if not I hope brighter days head your way soon!

I realize I’ve been mostly gone this month, sadly. I regret to report that… I had an overwhelming amount of schoolwork due. Yes, it’s a sad excuse, but what’s even sadder is that it’s true! But I am finally free (!!!) of my schoolwork and my summer break has begun!

Of course, because I had school, I didn’t consume too much media. But let’s take a look at what did go down this past month…

what i posted

what i’m reading

👁️ The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake …*big sigh*… Are we even surprised anymore? But good news is I’m nearly done!! Truth be told, I didn’t do much reading at all, periodt, in June, so I’m excited to dive back into this book in July!

what i watched

⚔️ The Wheel of Time (Season 1) I finished this season of The Wheel of Time and…wow! This show reminded me of why I love high fantasy stories! I was totally swept away by the intrigue, the action, the adventure—the everything!!! I’ve never read the books that The Wheel of Time is adapted from, so I can’t comment on how well the show adapted the source material, but on its own…this show is breathtaking, y’all.

✈️ The Flight Attendant Honestly I feel kinda “meh” about this one? It was sold as an intrigue-filled mystery/thriller with light comedy sprinkled in, but truthfully I feel like the actual hook of the first episode wasn’t too strong. I also feel like the show hasn’t so far given the audience any good reason to be invested in the characters. I’m gonna give it a few more episodes to see if it manages to grab me, though, so for now the jury’s out on this one.

☀️ The Summer I Turned Pretty I’ve never read the book trilogy by beloved YA author Jenny Han that this Amazon series is based on, but nevertheless I love it! I feel like this show does a really good job of capturing the feeling of being a teenager (yes, I do remember it, even at the ripe, old age of 27 *sigh*) and I found myself feeling so wistful and nostalgic as I watched it. It’s also, like, the perfect summer show! Bottom line: I highly recommend The Summer I Turned Pretty.

what i listened to

🌊 The Kleio Files This is a fascinating audiodrama all about an archeological expedition investigating a mysterious sunken city discovered in the Indian Ocean. Funnily enough, I actually discovered this podcast via the book community, as it’s actually written and produced by a writer whose tweet I saw in passing. And I gotta say: I’m glad I discovered it!

high notes

🎶 “Quiet On Set” by Remi Wolf This is such a fun, youthful song that gives the feel of sneaking around with your friends and getting into teenage shenanigans!

🎶 “Blutooth” by Blu DeTiger and Chromeo I’ve come to really appreciatiate the bass-centric groove of Blu DeTiger and mixed with a hint of Chromeo’s pop-funk, it’s perfection!

🎶 “Otro Atardecer” by Bad Bunny and The Marias What a summery song!

🎶 “Spring 1 – 2022” Arr. Max Richter I love this arrangement of Vivaldi’s “Spring”! First off, Vivaldi has always been my favorite classical composer and second off this arrangement is AMAZING!! I feel like it really recaptures the freedom of the original work, with a slightly modern twist that’s not too overbearing.

what i bookmarked

what i did in june 2022

Have you ever given three speeches in a row??!?! Cause lemme tell ya—I had to this past month and even this here big ol’ extrovert was EXHAUSTED by the end of it!!! That being said, I managed to finish both of my courses exhausted but intact and with good grades! Success!! I’m still surprised that I somehow managed to pull it off, tbh. *wipes sweat from brow*

Not much happened aside from school, though! I was pretty fatigued and had a couple of bad pain flares through the month, which was unfortunate, but thankfully I’m feeling a bit better now.

what i plan on doing in july 2022

July is looking to be a fun month, seeing as I’m on summer break and already have a few plans! I’ll be headed to the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival, so that’s bound to be a great time, plus I have a few other things up my sleeves that hopefully I’ll manage to pull off! It should also be pretty relaxing since, as I mentioned, I’m off school!

spill the beans, friends!

  • How was your June?
  • What are you looking forward to in July?
  • What’s on your July TBR?

Lately With Lila May 2022 | A Movie-Filled Month

Hello, dear friends! I hope you are all well and if not, I hope better days head your way soon!

Well, friends, here we are at the middle of the year—can you believe it? It feels slightly surreal that we’ve made it here; it so often feels like the world is ending every day and yet here we are! I guess we’ve made it!!

My May was a surprisingly busy. I’m taking courses this summer, so those started back in mid-May and I’ve been hard at work ever since. Of course, this has meant less time for reading, sadly. Strangely enough, though, I did watch a bunch of movies? Which is weird considering I typically don’t watch movies that much, haha! Regardless, I had a pretty happy month, so let’s take a look at what went down!

what i posted

what i read

😈 Clara and the Devil Part II by Olivie Blake & Little Chmura (⭐⭐⭐⭐) This is a quietly elegant and mysterious webcomic that progresses at an achingly, artfully slow pace, but somehow manages to keep me hooked! Part II added so much more intrigue and I’m itching to see what The Devil has up their sleeve!

what i’m reading

👁️ The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake Yes, I am still reading and savoring this book. Yes, I am still wildly in love with this book.

👑 The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri This is our Pages in Colour book club selection for this quarter and I’m so excited to finally be digging into this Adult Fantasy that I’ve heard so many great things about!

🔍 The Agathas by Liz Lawson and Kathleen Glasgow This book looked so intriguing and like a great mystery, plus after finishing up all of the Truly Devious books that are currently released, I needed a new mystery book/series to obsess over. And so far, this book has been a really good option! I just LOVE the voice of both POV characters and the plot has me hanging on each word!

⚔️ Squire by Nadia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh I’ve loved Alfageeh’s art for years now, so when I heard she’d be working on a #OwnVoices Arab-inspired fantasy graphic novel with Nadia Shammas, I knew I had to get my hands on it! So, obviously, I’ve been borrowing it from my local library and reading it as much as possible whenever I get the chance.

what i watched

🍓 The Hating Game (⭐⭐⭐⭐) I thought this was really cute! I’ve never read the book, so I can’t speak on how it compares, but as a rom com movie on its own, I thought it was great (and that’s coming from someone who’s not that into rom coms in general)! The lead actors had great chemistry and there was a nice balance of cute moments and sexy moments! I will say that the third act conflict felt a little contrived, but that’s really my only complaint.

🔎 Death on the Nile (⭐⭐) I was so excited to watch this film, even without having read the book, but unfortunately this one was a major disappointment. Mostly while watching the film I found myself shockingly bored. The characters lacked charisma, the plot felt incredibly static, and, worst of all, I figured out half of the solution to the mystery from the start.

🏮 Everything Everywhere All At Once (⭐⭐⭐) This movie wasn’t my favorite, but it was interesting nonetheless. It had a lot of themes concerning anthropology and psychology and I definitely enjoyed that commentary, although I do think it got kinda jumbled in a couple of places. I will say that this is a very culturally Chinese film, and I think I would’ve enjoyed it and understood it infinitely more if I were Chinese. Apart from that, the cinematography was incredible and reflected the themes of the film with stunning accuracy. Trigger warning for depression and suicidality. Also wouldn’t recommend this film if you have seizures and/or get migraines easily, as the movie has a lot of rapid fire flashing lights and images.

🚲 Along for the Ride (⭐⭐⭐) I actually read the book this was adapted from back when I was fifteen! Nowadays I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary YA, though, so maybe it’s not super surprising that I thought this movie was just alright? I remember that back when I read the book I wasn’t a big fan of Auden, largely because her personality is the polar opposite of mine, and watching the movie brought back all of those feelings. The other thing is that the actor playing Eli spoke with a stereotypical “fuckboi accent” and it made it hard to take his emotional beats opposite Auden seriously. But I digress. I guess this movie just wasn’t my thing, and you know what? That’s okay.

💎 Ocean’s Eight (⭐⭐⭐) Wasn’t my favorite, but it was still cute. I haven’t seen the other films, though, so I might be missing context? Either way, the characters felt a bit stale and the plot lacked a certain gravitas. I guess, overall, the film felt a little…tame, I guess?? Y’all, I think Six of Crows has ruined me for heist stories…

what i listened to

may 2022 playlist

high notes

  • “I’m A Lady” by Santigold If you’ve been looking for an awesome feminist anthem, I highly recommend this one!
  • “The Deepest of Sighs, The Frankest of Shadows” by Gretta Ray I love this song so much. Brb, sobbing right now…
  • “MEAN!” by Madeline The Person This song is so comforting and affirming.
  • “It’s Givin” by Latto Gotta have a fun summer anthem on the list!

🌞 SOLAR This podcast was recommended to me by Spotify and I gotta say: I’ll be damned if the Spotify algorithm doesn’t have my taste in music and podcasts down to a T! I instantly fell in love with this immersive sci fi audiodrama about survivors of a space flight disaster who are stranded on separate sides of a spaceship. There’s so much intrigue and the stakes are high in this one, leaving me constantly on the edge of my seat. I’d highly recommend SOLAR, especially if you’re a fan of the audiobooks for The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

what i bookmarked

hidden gems of the internet

what i did in may 2022

I actually had a pretty good month! My summer semester started on May 16th and I’ve really enjoyed being back in class after having taken the Spring 2022 semester off! I’m actually retaking Health and Intro to Communication (the first time I took both of these classes I had a health crisis and my grades suffered) and I’m surprised to find that I’m really enjoying both! Both of the classes are structured very much like applied sociology courses and, since I enjoy sociology, I’m enjoying that aspect of both courses. I also feel like both courses teach info that’s very applicable to my real life, so I really appreciate that as well.

I also got together with friends a couple of times in May. A group of my friends from school and I went to see Everything Everywhere All At Once, so that was really fun. I also reconnected with an old friend and have been enjoying catching up with them too. Other than that, though, May was mostly filled with schoolwork.

what i’m looking forward to in june 2022

I don’t really know what this June will bring except for more schoolwork, honestly. I am planning to go to the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival, so I’m looking forward to that. I’d love to go to maybe a Profs & Pints lecture or attend Sunset for Dancers, but it’s all kinda up in the air for now. Other than that, though, who knows what the month will bring!

spill the beans, friends!

  • How was your May?
  • Did you read anything interesting?
  • Is there anything you’re looking forward to coming up this June?

My “Hot Girl Reading List” TBR

Friends, we’re almost there! That’s right: it’s almost time for The Fourth Annual Official Hot Girl Summer!! Now, if you’ve somehow been living under a rock and thus are a little clueless as to what “Hot Girl Summer,” is, let me help fill you in. “Hot Girl Summer” is just a summertime of maximizing you…er…hot…girl…ness… Which may leave you wondering what exactly a “Hot Girl” is. Don’t worry, though, friends! Dictionary.com has you covered with a meme definition!*

Liv[ing] your best life! Hot girl summer is a meme, originating with rapper Megan Thee Stallion, about feeling confident in who you are—and having fun and looking good while doing it.

Dictionary.com

* SIDENOTE: I didn’t even know that Dictionary.com now has a section dedicated to explaining memes, but apparently it does?

Now, to me, being a “hot girl” means being the fiercest version of you for you. Obviously, that can mean many different things to different people, but to me that means loving myself and being a confident, empowered woman who recognizes the power in her womanhood. And, of course, that involves reading some A+ “hot girl literature”! So let’s take a look at my “Hot Girl TBR”!

daisy jones & the six by taylor jenkins reid

Why It’s A “Hot Girl” Book: I’ll admit it: I’ve already read 50% of this book, so I’m taking what I’ve read into consideration. That being said, this book is definitely a book for hot girls. Its central themes are very much about women, and the power in the unique strengths of each individual woman.

Why I Think I’ll Like It: As I mentioned previously, I’m already partially through Daisy Jones & The Six, so I already know that I enjoy what I’ve read. Plus I loved Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, so I find it unlikely that I’ll ultimately end up hating Daisy Jones.

gone girl by gillian flynn

Why It’s A “Hot Girl” Book: Personally, I think that the first stage of becoming a certified Hot Girl is going through a “Villain Era,” which is a period of time where you decide to be unapolagectic about putting yourself first. And what’s more “Villain Era” than the OG female villain in popular literature, Amy Dunn of Gone Girl. In fact, if I recall correctly, Gillian Flynn has actually discussed that a theme of her works is allowing women to be villains without villifying them more or less than a man would be villified in the same situation.

Why I Think I’ll Like It: What can I say—I’m a sucker for a good ol’ well-rounded, intricate, and complicated female villain! Plus I’ve really gotten into mysteries and thrillers of late, so I think this book will be a real home run for me.

beautiful world, where are you by sally rooney

Why It’s A “Hot Girl” Book: What’s more “Hot Girl” than a book about life, love, and Marxism? Nothing, dear friends. In all seriousness, though, I’ve seen this book on so many “Hot Girl books” lists! So, naturally, I figured it’d be remiss of me to leave it off this my personal “Hot Girl books” list.

Why I Think I’ll Like It: I have a secret for you, dear friends, and it is that I, myself, could be considered a bit of a Marxist. So, of course, given Rooney’s well publicized Marxist beliefs, I’ve been pretty interested to see if/how she incorporates said beliefs into her works. I’m also kind of curious as to Rooney’s writing, as she’s such a popular author and I’ve seen so many people touting her books as “modern classics”.

the love hypothesis by ali hazelwood

Why It’s A “Hot Girl” Book: Every Hot Girl needs some hot romance in her life, whether it’s real life or fictional, and I hear The Love Hypotheis delivers just that! Besides, call me biased as a physicist-in-training, but women in STEM like the main character are required to have certifiable Hot Girl levels of empowerment to make it in our chosen fields!

Why I Think I’ll Like It: As mentionied previously, I, like the main character, am a woman in STEM, plus I’ve been craving a good romance novel, so I was inevitably drawn to this rumored-to-be sizzling love story starrring two scientists!

the invisible life of addie larue by v.e. schwab

Why It’s A “Hot Girl” Book: Apparently there’s an overlap between Hot Girl books and Sad Girl books? Well, this book is as sad as I’m willing to go! What can I say, I’m an Enneagram Type Seven and we do not like wallowing in sadness.

Why I Think I’ll Like It: Okay, admittedly I’ve already read about 25% of this book and have seriously enjoyed it so far. I love the themes of loss, loneliness, and legacy and Schwab’s evocative writing. If I’m being honest, so far the book is just pure vibes, but I won’t lie, I’m eating it all up anyway!

they never learn by layne fargo

Why It’s A “Hot Girl” Book: In a similar vein to Gone Girl, this book also focuses partially on a “female villain protagonist,” in this case a university professor who murders male faculty who’ve raped or sexually assaulted people. And feminist vigilante justice? Now that’s real Hot Girl shit, lol!

Why I Think I’ll Like It: As I mentioned above, I love female antagonists, plus this book is supposedly dark academia, which is an aesthetic I’m a big fan of! Plus I’ve only ever heard rave reviews of They Never Learn, so I’m hoping I’ll love it too.

great goddesses by nikita gill

Why It’s A “Hot Girl” Book: Great Goddesses is a collection of poetry by Nikita Gill that focuses on feminism through the lense of mythology. And we all know that there’s no greater Hot Girl than a literal goddess.

Why I Think I’ll Like It: I’ve been a major fan of Gill’s poetry for literal years now, so I’m super excited to read more of her works which are focused on goddesses and feminism! She typically focuses very much on themes of female empowerment, healing, and self love and I feel like that’s exactly what I need at the mmoment.

That’s all for today, dear friends! I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe found a book or two to add to your own Hot Girl TBR! Happy Hot Girl Summer and happy reading! Until next time, dear friends…

spill the beans, friends!

  • What’s on your Hot Girl TBR?
  • What does being a Hot Girl mean to you?
  • What are your plans for Hot Girl Summer?

Introducing “Worlds Beyond Words,” A Podcast + Episode #1: Strong Female Characters

Hello, dear friends! How’s it going? I hope you are well and, if not, I hope brighter days head your way soon. Today I have an exciting new(ish) endeavor for me: a podcast by yours truly!

Admittedly, this isn’t my first attempt at podcasting. A couple of years ago, I took a stab at it but couldn’t find a distributor that I liked. This time, though, I’m using Anchor to distribute the podcast through Spotify! Anyhoo, enough boring logistics talk; let’s get to the good stuff! My all-new podcast is called Worlds Beyond Words and in it I aim to discuss books and their anthropological, sociological, and psychological effects on us humans, both as a collective and as individuals. I’llbe posting episodes once a month via Spotify.

I’m so excited for this new endeavor and I’m so happy to share it with y’all! I have so many thoughts and I’ve always been a big talker, so podcasting has been somethingI’ve wanted to really try for a long time.

I will admit: this first episode is a bit shakey in regards to quality. I’m still learning the ropes of podcasting and I left this episode virtually unedited, so bare with me for all the “ums” and “uhs” that I left in.

In the wake of the recent news about the US Supreme Court’s likely decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, I decided to tackle the topic of “strong female characters.” So, without any further ado, I’m pleased to present to you Episode #1 of Worlds Beyond Words!

DESCRIPTION:

Lila unpacks her feelings about stereotypical “strong female characters” in literature and what that really means. She also discusses the kind of female representation she’d like to see and dives into female characters she identifies with.

BOOKS MENTIONED:

  • Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

spill the beans, friends!

  • What are your thoughts on “strong female characters”?
  • Who are some female characters you relate to and why?
  • What are your thoughts on the current state of female representation in literature?
  • How do you think femal representation in literature affects us both as individuals and as a society?

Lately With Lila April 2022 | Supermassive Black Hole (Of Movies & Shows & ~Emotions~)

Hello, dear friends! How’s everything going with you? I hope everything is well, and if not, I hope brighter days head your way soon!

Well, friends, this past April was quite a month and it felt altogether too fast and too slow all at the same time! What a weird time warp we’re living in… But enough about The Utter Strangeness of Time, friends—I’ve got updates for you! Turns out this past month was the month I (FINALLY!) started to chow down on some good ol’ entertainment media again! Let’s take a look back!

quick updates!

  • To avoid any confusion, we’ve changed the name of our book club from Diversity’s Lit to Pages in Colour

what i posted

what i’m reading

🔎 The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake I mentioned last month that I loved this book so far and planned on savoring it slowly and I can confirm that that is, indeed, still the case! I cannot stress enough how much I’m enjoying this read and, honestly, unless the ending is a massive flop, I think this will DEFINITELY be a new favorite!

🧞 The River of Silver by S.A. Chakraborty This is another audiobook that I’m enjoying savoring. The Daevabad Trilogy is one of my all-time favorite series, so I totally love being back in the same world!

👑 The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri This is our quarterly book club pick for Pages in Colour, so I’m very excited to dive into it with everyone!

what i watched

the witcher (season 2)

🐺 I’m only three episodes into this season, but already I’m pretty reinvested! Tbh, at the moment I’m mostly here for Yennifer’s storyline, though. If I’m being completely honest, Ciri and Geralt’s training montages aren’t my favorite. That being said, I know they’re leading up to something bigger, and I can’t wait to see what that is!

moonshot

🌛 Honestly, while I found Moonshot mildly cute, overall, I felt like it was also pretty underwhelming. From what I’ve seen I seem to be in the minority here, but I just didn’t think Lana Condor and Cole Sprouse had any chemistry and that really brought the film down for me.

shadow and bone (season 1)

✨ With the exception of one quibble, I absolutely LOVED this adaptation! It was very true to the source text and I feel like everything that was changed or added was very on brand for the original characters. My single issue was how Alina’s race was handled, but aside from that, this adaptation was total perfection!

howl’s moving castle

🏰 I was feeling kinda blue and wanted to watch something cute to cheer me up, and thus I found myself watching Howl’s Moving Castle for the first time. I found it absolutely enchanting, and it did indeed work to lift my mood! Now I have a new film to add to my favorites list!

heartstopper (season 1)

🌈 I’ve only watched the first two episodes of this show, but so far, I think it’s very cute and a great adaptation! That being said, I think that for now I’m going to set the show aside for later, seeing as I’m really not in the mood for a cutesy YA contemporary romance and I don’t want my mood to affect my feelings about the show. But I look forward to eventually watching the rest of the season!

what i listened to

april 2022 playlist

high notes

  • “As It Was” by Harry Styles Okay but, like, who among us isn’t obsessed with this song???
  • “my strange addiction” by Billie Eilish I’m quickly becoming a fan of Billie’s!
  • “Problems” by DeathbyRomy To quote Logic, “Who can relate? Whoo!”
  • “Turning Page” by Sydney Rose I wasn’t a massive fan of the original song, but this cover is perfection!

kalila stormfire’s economical magick services

I’ve mentioned in a previous wrap up that I love this audiodrama podcast, so it’s probably no surprise that I’m still enjoying it after having randomly taken a long break from listening. I love that this podcast is a calmer, slower audiodrama that’s more like a slice-of-life, cozy fantasy than an action/adventure fantasy. It’s been just what I’ve needed lately!

what i bookmarked

hidden gems of the internet

what i did in april 2022

In all honesty, April was a pretty up and down month. What can I say, there were highs and there were lows. I got together with friends a couple of times, though, and that was really nice and very much long overdue and necessary. My best friend also gave me a much needed hair cut and styling—don’t you worry, though, because she does have a cosmetology degree, haha! Also, for the most part, the weather was really beautiful, and that made me happy! Ooooh! I almost forgot—I also purchased and received my copy of Cain’s Jawbone, the murder mystery puzzle book that’s been taking TikTok by storm (and I wholeheartedly blame Jack Edwards for this ridiculously fun impulse buy)! I plan on gathering together a group of friends to try and work it out! Other than that, though, there wasn’t much going on.

what i plan on doing in may 2022

Aside from working on Cain’s Jawbone, I have a couple of fun plans for this May. I’m actually supposed to go see Everything Everywhere All At Once with several friends from my old philosophy class, so I’m really looking forward to that! I also may go to a Smithsonian lecture on Hans Christin Andersen and his fairy tale collections. I’d also love to start this self taught dance class sequence that’s available for free via YouTube, but I’m a little nervous, as I haven’t danced in a while and I’m really perfectionistic and self critical when it comes to my own efforts with new endeavors. Still, I’m trying to remind myself that nobody starts perfect and that if I let go, I can have some fun. Besides those activities, everything is up in the air and I’ll just have to take life as it comes!

spill the beans, friends!

  • How was your April?
  • Did you do anything fun and/or read any good books?
  • What are you looking forward to this May?

Introducing Our Book Club, “Pages in Colour!”

Hello, dear friends! I hope you all are well, and if not, I hope brighter days head your way soon!

Today I have an exciting announcement for you! Rae of Bookmark Chronicles, Sumedha at The Wordy Habitat, and I have created a digital book club! It’s called Diversity’s Lit “Pages in Colour,” and it’s a quarterly book club that starts up this upcoming May and that will focus on diverse fantasy! We’re so excited to bring this project to life and to share in it with y’all! We’ll be running the club via Discord, where we’re hoping to have discussions, activities, and events.

this quarter’s selection

Author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother.

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.

I’m also happy to announce that this upcoming quarter’s selection is The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri! We’ll be reading it from May 1, 2022 to July 31, 2022. I’ve heard so many great things about this book, so I’m very excited to be reading it with y’all! As a quick note, you’re welcome to read/listen to our quarterly selections as a physical book, e-book, and/or audiobook. I, personally, have The Jasmine Throne on audiobook (which is my preferred format), so that’s how I’ll be consuming it.

join in the fun!

Join the Discord server here!

#OwnVoices Middle Eastern Books To Check Out For Arab American Heritage Month

Marhaba and hello, dear friends! I hope all is well, and if not, I hope brighter days head your way soon!

Well, Indigenous American History Month was back in November, Black History Month was in February, and Women’s History Month was March, but the party isn’t coming to a halt just yet, because this month—April—commemorates yet another part of my heritage and identity! That’s right, dear friends: it’s Arab American Heritage Month! This month we celebrate the rich diversity of the various Arab ethnic groups and the many contributions of Arabs to the US, as well as to the world—from astronomy to algebra to the alphabet! And in celebration, I figured I’d share a bit of my Lebanese culture and top it off with some Middle Eastern book recommendations!

Some background: My mom’s side of the family is from the West Asian Mediterranean Arab country of Lebanon, which sits right on the coast between Syria and Palestine. My family is Maronite, meaning they are members of the Eastern Catholic Maronite Church (based mainly in Lebanon), and my great grandfather—an ambassador—immigrated from Beirut, Lebanon to the US around the turn of the 20th century.

Examples of Lebanese folk dress.

Lebanese people are known for our hospitality, our delicious food (think: hummus, lmao!), and our chic fashion sense (oh–and our beautiful people too, haha! 😉 ). Our traditional folk dance is dabke, and we love to break out into it when given literally any reason, lol!

The basics of Lebanese dabke

Like many Arab cultures, Lebanese people are very community oriented and social. The extended family “clan” unit is the center of your social life, and your close friends are often seen as extensions of your family as well. We also are very expressive—as most Arab cultures are. We are boisterous and speak with our hands a lot, haha!

I could go on forever, but that’s just a glimpse at the Lebanese part of my cultural heritage and identity and hopefully you’re interested in learning more! But let’s move to the book recommendations section!


PLEASE NOTE: I am including books by and about peoples originating from the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region that are not all “Arab” in strict terms What does this mean? Imazighen, Persians, Kurds, etc. They are not Arab, nor do they self-identify as Arab. And I in no way wish to conflate any/all MENA cultures. All of us have beautiful and unique national and sub-national ethnic cultures! Unfortunately, in the US most people from the MENA area (and even some from Central Asia) are often lumped under the term “Arab,” despite the fact that not all of us are ethnically “Arab.” So, when the US designates months like “Arab American Heritage Month,” Persians, Imazighem, Kurds, etc. are simultaneously left out and also lumped into a cultural grouping that they don’t identify with. In this way, the US government erases the unique cultures of MENA and the nuanced experiences we all have in the US, in our countries of origin, and elsewhere. My “temporary solution” to this is to make this post a post including cultures from MENA aside from Arab, but also to make sure you know that those cultures are not the same as Arab. I want you to know those cultures too, to celebrate them as Middle Easterners/North Africans as much as you know of and celebrate Arabs. I hope these books can be a starting point to get you interested in knowing of and celebrating ALL of our beautiful cultures!


the stardust thief by chelsea abdullah

arab (general)

Neither here nor there, but long ago…

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights, The Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp.

The Stardust Thief is actually an upcoming May 2022 release that I am ridiculously excited for! It’s an #OwnVoices Arab fantasy based on multiple stories from 1001 Nights and it sounds AMAZING! I’ve heard rave reviews from readers with ARCs, so I’ve already preordered the audiobook in preparation!

mirage by somaiya daud

moroccan (amazighi)

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Mirage is an intricate and intrigue-filled YA fantasy sci fi that is based off of the author’s own Indigenous Moroccan (Amazighi) culture. With themes of colonialism, interpersonal racism, and political racism, Mirage is definitely a hard-hitting sci fi, while not being incredibly dense. Daud writes about these heavy topics with the delicate nuance required to help readers of all ages understand what they entail without beating the reader over the head. Mirage is definitely a must read to add to your TBR immediately!

this woven kingdom by tahereh mafi

persian

Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi, and Sabaa Tahir, this is the explosive first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-nominated author Tahereh Mafi.

This is a recently released YA fantasy by beloved author Tahereh Mafi, and it is based on mythology from Mafi’s own Persian culture. The reviews have been stellar, from what I’ve seen, and this looks like one heck of an epic fantasy (pun intended 😉 )!

darius the great is not okay by adib khorram

persian

Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming—especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

I’ve heard so many rave reviews for Darius The Great Is Not Okay, ESPECIALLY from Persian American reviewers. In particular, I know that Hannah of the booktube channel A Clockwork Reader and Daria at the booktube channel FullOfLit (both of whom happen to be Persian American) are MASSIVE fans of this book and its sequel, often noting that it really resonated with them and touched their hearts. After hearing so many glowing reviews, this book has definitely slid up on my TBR.

aminah mae safi books

arab (general)

All of Aminah Mae Safi’s books are contemporary novels starring sapphic Arab girls and that fact alone has me cheering! In particular, I’m interested in reading This Is All Your Fault, which is about three teen girls teaming up to save the beloved bookstore they work at.

sara farizan books

persian

Similarly, Sara Farizan’s works are all contemporary novels about queer Persian teens! Fun fact: Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel and If You Could Be Mine were the first books I ever became aware of with #OwnVoices sapphic representation, back when I was in high school in the early 2010s. Talk about Sara Farizan being ahead of a trend! Truthfully, I rarely hear from other readers about Farizan’s works, but when I do, it’s all glowing reviews! I definitely can’t wait for the day I pick one of these lovely books up!

habibi by naomi shihab nye

arab (palestinian)

An award-winning novel about identity, family, and friendship from renowned writer and editor Naomi Shihab Nye.

The day after Liyana got her first real kiss, her life changed forever. Not because of the kiss, but because it was the day her father announced that the family was moving from St. Louis all the way to Palestine. Though her father grew up there, Liyana knows very little about her family’s Arab heritage. Her grandmother and the rest of her relatives who live in the West Bank are strangers and speak a language she can’t understand. It isn’t until she meets Omer that her homesickness fades. But Omer is Jewish, and their friendship is silently forbidden in this land. How can they make their families understand? And how can Liyana ever learn to call this place home?

This is a special book to me, as it was actually the first ever #OwnVoices Arab American book I’d ever read (I read it back when I was 14 and it’s stuck with me ever since). The story is about a mixed White/Palestinian teen girl who’s grown up in America but her family suddenly decides to move to her father’s homeland of Palestine. It does address themes of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, of course, but it also addresses themes of what it means to be Arab in America versus what it mean to be an Arab in The Middle East and also general themes of religion, identity, and girlhood. The blurb makes it seem like Habibi is very focused on the relationship between Liyanna (the main character) and her friend, an Israeli boy named Omer, but really the book (from what I remember) is more focused on Liyanna’s understanding of her identity as a Palestinian American girl and her relationship to her cultural heritage. In all honestly, I can’t say whether or not this book would hold up today (after all, I read it 13 years ago), but I can say that it will definitely always have a special place in my heart!

So, that’s all for today, dear friends! I’ve had so much fun sharing about part of my cultural heritage and also giving some book recommendations. Happy Arab American Heritage Month and I hope I helped you find a book or two that you might like!

spill the beans, friends

  • Have you read any of these books? If so, what are your thoughts?
  • Are any of these books on your TBR?

Lately With Lila March 2022 | Finally Enjoying Reading + My Orilium: Spring Equinox TBR

Hey, friends! How’s everyone doing? I hope you all are well, and if not, I hope brighter days head your way soon!

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? March was a surprisingly busy month for me, at least in the “life” sphere. And now here we are, at the end of another month, with 2022 somehow rushing onward. Someone mentioned to me that it’s been two years since the pandemic began and I just…what?! Like, can you believe it?! So strange…*shakes head*

Anyhoo, I made more progress on all of the media I’m consuming, so let’s check that out…

what i posted

what i’m reading

👁 I’m currently reading and LOVING The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake! After a long and absolutely brutal reading slump, this the first time in literal months that I’ve felt excited about what I’m reading. I’m still listening to the audiobook rather slowly, but this time it’s because I want to take my time and savor the story.

what i plan on reading

orilium spring equinox tbr

Find info here.

So, this is actually my TBR for the next few months, since I’m extending the timeline of the Orilium: Spring Equinox readathon. This is because I deal with chronic fatigue and because, as I mentioned above, I’ve been in a real rough reading slump for nearly a year. Instead of beginning April 1st and ending on April 30th, I will keep the starting date the same and finish when the August readathon begins.

PromptSpecificationsBook Choice
Character Prompt: UrbanSet in a town or cityBook of Night by Holly Black
Character Prompt: DarkmeadowDark academiaThe Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
Conduit Prompt: SwordBlade on the coverThe Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport
Legacy Prompt: Monocle of VigilanceMystery or thrillerThe Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Calling Prompt: AlchemyPotion of Infatuation: Featuring romanceWild and Wicked Things by Francesca May
Calling Prompt: InscriptionStrength Glyph: Intimidating readCity of Dusk by Tara Sim
Calling Prompt: ArtificerySchematic Literacy: Earth settingPortrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li
Calling Prompt: Spells & IncantationAnti Gravity Spell: Short stories/essaysThe River of Silver by S.A. Chakraborty
Calling Prompt: Art of IllusionMirror Image: A book with a trope you likeIn A Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power
Calling Prompt: ConjurationConjuring of Light: Source of light on the coverFevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse

what i acquired from publishers

what i watched

the sex lives of college girls

I don’t know what it is about dramedies produced by Mindy Kaling, but I just find them so endearing! And The Sex Lives of College Girls is no different! Each of the girls is unique and distinct, but all are still incredibly relatable in their own ways. Gotta say though, three episodes in and I think my favorite of the gang is Bela.

what i listened to

high notes

  • “Badi Dal” by Elyanna // I’ve made my love for Elyanna no secret, so are we really surprised a song off her latest album is on the list this month?
  • “Burning Up (Fire)” by BTS // This track has me warming up to BTS (pun intended!)
  • “Something New” by Zendaya and Chris Brown // I love Zendaya, but hate Chris Brown as a person, but I can’t help but enjoy this song, which has an almost old-style R&B groove.
  • “Baby” by Cannons // I recently discovered Cannons when one of my favorite YouTubers mentioned going to their concert and I fell in love with their music!

what i bookmarked

hidden gems of the internet

what life was like in march 2022

March was full of spring cleaning and that was mostly it. I did also have a cookout with friends and family, and that was nice and fun. I also started tutoring a friend in calculus, in part so that I can do one of my periodic brush-ups on calculus and math “basics.” So it was good to get started on that. The weather here has been swinging between 40℉ and 70℉ on a daily basis and that’s made it pretty tough to make plans to get out and do stuff with friends, but hopefully that’ll change in April.

what i hope for in april 2022

There are a lot of fun events happening around D.C. this upcoming month, but whether or not I’ll make it to any depends on a lot of different factors. There are cherry blossom season festivities, a F.R.I.E.N.D.S set replica exhibit, seasonal art exhibits, and some fun lectures all taking place at least partially in April, plus a belly dance class I’m considering enrolling in. The only thing that’s set in stone, though, is that there’s plenty of spring cleaning left to do, lol! Regardless of what ends up happening, I’m sure I’ll manage to sneak some fun in somewhere!

spill the bean, friends!

  • How was your March?
  • What are you reading?
  • Anything on the horizon that you’re looking forward to?

Lately With Lila February 2022 | A Calm, Quiet Month

Hello again, dear friends! I hope you are all well and if not, I hope brighter days head your way soon!

Well, it looks like 2022 is really getting going, seeing as February absolutely just zoomed past! Time is an odd little thing, ain’t it? *shakes head in befuddlement*

Alas! Despite the fact that I had the same 28 full days as everyone else, I somehow managed to not get much reading done. But let’s not linger on that thought—let’s just dive into to wrap up!

what i posted

what i read

Did I read anything in February? Technically yes. But did I finish any of those books in February?….Uhm…No…Definitely no…

what i’m currently reading

I’m still meandering my way through The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, sadly. Overall, I think I’m enjoying the book, although I feel like I lost a bit of my enthusiasm during the part I’m currently reading. I’m considering settig it down, as I feel like my mood outside of reading is kinda affecting how I currently feel.

In an attempt to jump-start my reading life again, I also picked For The Wolf by Hannah Whitten back up and decided to just read it from the beginning again. So far I’m enjoying it, but I’m trying to take it slow and really savor the read.

what i plan on reading

I figured it’d be fun to participate in not one, but two (!!!) readathons this March: the Orilium: Gear Up mini readathon and GreekGodAThon. I picked out books for all of the prompts applicable, but that’s mainly so that I have plenty of options, seeing as I’m a mood reader.

my orilium: gear up tbr

info here

my #greekgodathon tbr

info here

what i acquired from publishers

what i watched

the wheel of time (amazon prime)

I finally started the Amazon adaptation of The Wheel of Time and so far I’m really enjoying the show! I’ve never read the book series that the show is based on, so I can’t make any verdicts as to how they compare, but I can say that simply as a fantasy show The Wheel of Time is definitely worth the watch! I love the cast of characters and the plot is super intriguing, so I can’t wait to watch more and to find out how the season ends.

what i listened to

high notes

“September” by Ayoni // The vocals and the reverb on this track are just *heaven sighs*!

“Comic Sans” by AUDREY NUNA ft. Jack Harlow // I recently discovered and became a fan of both of these artists, so of course I love their collab!

“Shway Shway” by Talia Lahoud // Oh, ya know, just another fun, summer-sounding Arabic pop song that I absolutely love…

“space girl” by Frances Forever // This is like my ADHD anthem and I’m HERE for it!

what i bookmarked

what i did in february 2022

Honestly, on the one hand, my February wasn’t too eventful, but on the other hand, it was pretty relaxing (so that’s a plus!). I continued to feel more and more balanced and healthy, which is definitely worth celebrating! Tbh, there’s nothing much to report from this short month, but that’s a good thing. *shrugs*

what i plan on doing in march 2022

March is set to be full of a lot of housework and home maintenance. Basically, it’s spring cleaning season and there’s plenty of work to be done! I’m also hoping to get out a bit more as the weather slowly warms up, maybe even see some friends. I also have a couple of fun projects I’m hoping to work on if I have time to. Fingers crossed it’ll be a good month!

spill the beans, friends!

  • How was your February?
  • Did you read any good books?
  • What’s on your March TBR?
  • Do you have any fun plans for March?

Meet My Orilium Character + My Orilium: Gear Up TBR

Hey there, friends! How are you doing this week? I hope you are well, safe, healthy, and happy, and if not, I hope brighter days head your way soon!

Well, friends, it’s that time of year again, and The Magical Readathon is once again upon us! And despite the nearly year-long reading slump I’m currently muddling my way through, I’ve decided to once again attempt to take part. To give y’all a brief refresher: last year, G (the creator of The Magical Readathon) modified the readathon from being Harry Potter-based to being an original fantasy adventure. You can find all the original info on that change and the info on the readathon here.

Last year, I decided to take part and I’m proud to say that I finished my goal of reading at least one book, meaning I made it through “The Novice Path” section of the reathon’s fantasy adventure! Now, in this upcoming March, G has invited us to “gear up” for our time at Orilium Academy!

meet nawa al-leline

bio

Nawa Al-Leline is an elf and one of the rare non-Iltirian scholars of The Great Underwold Library. She was discovered as a baby on the surface of Darkmeadow by several Iltirian scholars of The Great Underworld Library who were on an exploratory expedition to the surface. When it became clear that Nawa was an orphan, the scholar decided to raise her within the walls of The Great Underworld Library, as one of their own.

Nawa has spent her life cultivating the skills of a scholar, but now she wishes to put that knowledge to use. Deciding to explore the mystery of her origins and where she came from, Nawa sets off on The Novice Path, with the goal of attending the academy as the first step of her quest.

After successfully making it through The Novice Path, Nawa joins House of the Arcane at the academy. But Nawa knows her journey is far from finished—in fact, its only just begun. Nawa hopes to use the skills she learns at the academy to continue her quest after graduation. With this ultimate goal in mind, Nawa is looking forward to her first year…

character prompts tbr

PromptSpecificationsSelection
UrbanA book set in a city or townHouse of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
DarkmeadowA dark academiaHow We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao
ElfA book with the moon or stars in the title or on the coverThe Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw

my orilium: gear up tbr

PromptSpecificationsSelection
General: FeatherUnder 100 pagesThe Sprite and the Gardner by Rii Abrego and Joe Whitt
General: WandBranches on the coverFor The Wolf by Hannah F. Whitten
General: SpellbookAt least two S’s in the titleStarsight by Brandon Sanderson
General: StaffA book from a seriesKingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco
General: SwordBlade on the coverThese Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
House of the Arcane: OrbSun on the cover or in the titleThe Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
House of the Arcane: CrystalCrystal-related word in the title or series nameJade City by Fonda Lee

spill the beans, friends!

  • Are you participating in this year’s Magical Readathon?
  • If so, tell me all about your characters!
  • Also—what’s on your TBR for Orilium: Gear Up?