Blog Tour – More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood

**Disclaimer: I was given a free e-book of the below in exchange for an honest review as part of a tour hosted by Hear Our Voices Tours via NetGalley.**

I’d like to begin by thanking Hear Our Voices tours for reaching out and including me on this tour.

Title More Than Just a Pretty Face

Author Syed M. Masood

Release Date August 4, 2020

Publisher Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | Book Depository


For fans of Becky Albertalli and Jenny Han, a sweetly funny YA rom-com debut about falling in love, familial expectations, and being a Renaissance Man.

Danyal Jilani doesn’t lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he’s funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn’t approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal’s longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect.

When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man–a school-wide academic championship–it’s the perfect opportunity to show everyone he’s smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her…the more he learns from her…the more he cooks for her…the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.

Initial Thoughts

I was super excited when Hear Our Voices Tours contacted me about reviewing this book. I had applied for it in NetGalley already and knew this was a book I wanted to read.

Some Things I Liked

  • Own Voices. I loved that about this book. Many of the themes in the book felt super close to home. Danyal’s dad thinking that he wasn’t really good for much since he wasn’t smart enough to be a doctor or engineer. The idea of women just being there to sit home and cook and look pretty. Oh yeah, those are ideas that I’m familiar with and strongly disagree with. I loved that this book challenged those ideas. I am half Indian and have been told many similar things that Danyal had so I really identified with him.
  • A different POV than the contemporary books I’ve read. That’s another thing that I really liked. I don’t normally read contemporary books from non-female POVs so this was a breath of fresh air. I liked that Danyal was kind and friendly and in many ways, challenged archaic gender roles.
  • Food as a theme. I worked in a restaurant all through college and I loved the way the author described food as an experience of love.
  • Difficult themes. This book goes into some themes that are not all flowers and unicorns. For example, Danyal has a friend who is deeply religious, in almost an obsessive way. His beliefs often caused friction between their friends who didn’t always see eye to eye. Similarly, Danyal struggles with his project about Winston Churchill, who is often regarded as a “hero”. I loved the way the author worked in lesser known history and religion into the story in an enlightening and refreshing way.

Series Value

I’d love to read a follow up novel about Danyal in the future, living life. But, I think his story is complete. I would also enjoy reading a spin-off about any of the side characters we met. I think this group of characters has tons of potential.

Lastly, I’d like to read more from Syed M. Masood. I really enjoyed the writing style here and would gladly read more.

Final Thoughts

I loved this book. I read it all in one day and couldn’t put it down. Once again, I found this is a contemporary novel that high school age Monica could have really used. I’m so glad to see positive messages like those found in this novel are being spread in literature today.


Recommendations for Further Reading

  • The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park – if you liked the themes of cultural pressure and living up to parental expectations, try this own voices story.
  • The Marriage Game by Sara Desai – if you’re looking for a book with similar representation but want something with older characters, try this 2020 release.

Author Links

I grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and currently live in Sacramento, California. There have been plenty of stops in between though. I’m a first generation immigrant, twice over. I’ve been a citizen of three different countries and lived in nine cities.
I am, as Goethe, said, “nothing but a wanderer […] on this earth.”
Living among different people, in different countries at fascinating times in their histories, has shaped both my view of the world and my writing. Ultimately, human beings are the same everywhere (despite the fact that they tell themselves, everywhere, that they are different from each other), and the theme of this fundamental human unity informs everything I write.
As to my life outside of writing, I went to the William and Mary School of Law, and before that attended the University of Toronto, where I studied English Literature. I am currently practicing as an attorney and must “measure out my life in coffee spoons” on a daily basis.
Some members of my family will tell you that I’m also a poet. This isn’t true. I wrote a few poems in Urdu when I was a teenager, and I’ve never heard the end of it…which I wouldn’t mind, honestly, if they were any good. As it is, I’m very happy living in prose, thank you very much.
Other interests include good food, video games, sitcoms, and books of all kinds. Most of my time that doesn’t go to writing or billable hours is consumed by my two children, four and two years of age.

6 thoughts on “Blog Tour – More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s