Sunday, September 6, 2020

Your Heart After Dark Book Tour

 


I am so, so excited to announce that I just received my first ARC and am participating in my first book tour! Thank you so much to Hear Our Voices Book Tours for the ARC and this opportunity!

Today I'll be sharing a review of Your Heart After Dark, 15 thoughts I had while reading, a look book, and a quiz for you to participate in! Let's get this party started 🥳.

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Synopsis: Maria Chaudhry’s personal demons trap her in a downward spiral, but the beast lurking in Ehmet’s blood can do a lot worse than that. After a year of living in a prissy suburb, Maria Chaudhry is back downtown. Back to what she never wanted to leave. But she can’t really enjoy it since neither the living nor the dead will leave her in peace. JC’s death still keeps her up at night and Ehmet’s sudden ambivalence isn’t helping. Maybe she had read his signals wrong and Ehmet was never in love with her like she thought. Or maybe his love is tangled with secrets too dark to speak aloud, secrets about JC’s death and the unpredictable beast in Ehmet’s blood. When an upcoming hiking trip is canceled, there’s no pretty path left towards the truth. A growing spiral of deceit threatens to tear Maria and Ehmet apart forever, but the beast lurking within Ehmet can do a lot worse than that. Mahtab Rohan’s debut YA novel delivers a paranormal tale of crumbling friendships, malevolent secrets, and the struggle to have hope in the face of uncertainty. 

My review: Initially I was so nervous that this book was categorized as paranormal since I don’t really read that genre. However, I was pleasantly surprised! The presence of shape-shifting werewolves felt more like mystical fantasy rather than horror, and this has definitely opened me up to reading more paranormal stories!

The suspense kept me on my toes through the entire three-hour period (I read this in one sitting until midnight...oops!). The author doesn't give up much information in the beginning, and reveals secrets slowly over time. I definitely couldn’t guess what had happened between Ehmet and JC until the very end!

The characters are also very 3-dimensional, and the novel takes time to focus on Maria and Ehmet while also providing some details on the rest of their friend circle. I feel like one problem in YA books is that they end up being so romance-focused that the actual characters’ personalities don’t end up shining through, but this definitely wasn’t the case! It was easy to notice that Maria is a very perceptive, analytical person. Her care for her mother is also very sweet; despite all of her frustration at the losses in her life, Maria channels her energy into becoming a considerate and kind individual, which I found really inspiring. Ehmet’s storyline is more focused around him being a werewolf, but he still had fears and dreams that were fleshed out and contributed to his personality.

Maria also expressed her pain at people focusing so much on her headscarf and culture that they never cared about who she was. This was a super heartbreaking point to read, but I’m glad the author brought this up because I feel like it is very applicable. It’s easy to associate someone with their religious identity, or even any other quality (maybe they’re a musician or a painter), but people are always multidimensional.

One thing I will say is that sometimes I felt like the endings to different sections seemed like they were trying too hard to be deep/philosophical when they could’ve just been natural conclusions. Some sections didn’t flow and connect the story well. 

Overall, Your Heart After Dark is one of my favorite reads of 2020. I rate it 4 stars, and I highly recommend it, even to people who don’t typically read paranormal stories!

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15 Thoughts While Reading

I’ll provide a quote (these are all from the ARC and may be different in the final version!) and my thoughts on it.

  1. First thought (no quote): I loved, loved, loved the Indian, Muslim, and Uyghur diversity! I remember reading online that the author said one thing differentiating this book from other YA books was “Muslim werewolves”. Definitely saw that here and it was wonderful to experience so much infused culture. 

  2. One character says, “He thinks he’s still got super immunity from India.” 

    1. This was SO FUNNY because I actually remember buying water bottles and heating up all my milk in India due to different microbes there. My stomach is super weak and I have 0 immunity living in the US.

  3. “It was tempting to tell her that her ideas were wrong, that the rest of the world wasn’t some magical wonder. It was full of oppression and suffering.” 

    1. This was heartbreaking to read!

  4. “She [mom] always talks in Urdu and I always reply in English.”

    1. So relatable! This is how I talk with my parents, too XD.

  5. “He [the dog] barks his head off whenever someone walks by, salivating like he’s rabid, but he’s great with people who know him.” 

    1. Aw, this is so sweet! 

  6. “My mom closes her eyes. She doesn’t wanna cry in front of me even though she’s done it a thousand times before.”

    1. We age ten years when someone who isn’t supposed to cry (family or friend) breaks down in front of us. 

  7. (No quote): The author used the word low key! Not sure if we’ll still be using this word in thirty years and if people will understand the reference, haha.

  8. “But the truth is that it’s always harder for the student to part from the teacher, for the kid to lose the idol. Ms. Mara will see hundreds of kids like me, but I won’t find hundreds of teachers who can see past the cloth on my head.”

    1. Leaving a teacher behind can be so hard, especially considering that Maria was an outcast from her peers! I remember being especially devastated at the end of year in elementary school since I spent the whole year learning from one instructor.

  9. Ehmet: “the truth is that I don't know where I end and the beast begins”

    1. Yup this pretty much sums up Ehmet in one sentence! He faces a lot of internal conflict in this novel and has to come to terms with who he is and how to use his powers.

  10. "'Your hair is beautiful,’ Nani said as she massaged coconut oil into my scalp… ‘Really?’ I asked. ‘ Kids say I have witch hair. It’s so fluffy.’”

    1. HAHA my friends and I are always discussing whose hair is the puffiest! 

  11. (No quote) She mentioned Shah Rukh Khan! and Aishwarya Rai! These actors/actresses are a little stereotypical to mention, to be honest (they get a lot of attention in the media but there are also many other actors/actresses in Bollywood!), but I love the rep anyway :).
  12. “And what is wrong with your forehead? That spot is still bruised so bad.’... I drape my scarf back over my head. ‘Well, maybe I’ll get a new scar to balance the one on the other side.’”

    1. This line was so deep! 

  13. “This place used to feel like magic. The air was full of excitement and I fed off the energy, getting about as drunk as a person can get without booze. I went on every ride, tried every ice cream, attempted every game of chance... But now it’s not magic. It’s not even exciting. It’s just... an easy distraction from Nani's illness. It’s just some river, just some carnival.”

  1. So if you can’t already tell, this book is really sad. I definitely look back on some moments in my life and revisit places that seemed so magical and huge, but in reality aren’t so great after all. 

Other thoughts I can’t reveal in too much detail without a spoiler:

14. Gee Adrian, way to deceive your friends!

15. NO DON’T LEAVE ME ON A CLIFFHANGER!

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Look Book

Because the book was paranormal and revolved around werewolves, I've chosen designs with darker hues and animal prints.