Book Tag

Marvel Avengers Book Tag

So I was tagged several months ago in this tag but I completely forgot about doing it. And, of course, I don’t remember who tagged me. Oops! But I’m going to do it anyways!

So here are my answers:

Iron Man – a book that made you laugh out loud

I rarely read books that actually make me laugh, mainly because I prefer books that rip my heart to a million pieces but Leigh Bardugo managed to kill me and make me laugh all at the same time. Six off Crows has some of the best banter between a group of characters I have ever read! One of my favourite scenes ever is; “My ghost won’t associate with your ghost.” I crack up every single time I read it!

Captain America – a book that sends a positive message

I’m going to go with A Pocketful Of Stars by Aisha Bushby. It’s a book that I wish I had when I was younger and I highly recommend reading it!

Thor – a book with a character’s strength you admire

Nahri from The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty has incredible strength. She literally finds out she has a parent who is a jinn and gets dragged by a jinn to the jinn world and is suddenly put on a pedestal and thrown into politics of a world she had no idea existed. Lets just say that the fact that she doesn’t curl up in a ball and lock herself in her room and cry shows incredible strength.

Black Widow – a book with a kick-ass female protagonist

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad is full of badass females. They all have their own strengths and learn to use them for the benefit of the people who live in the city. I also loved how they overcame social barriers and a society which made compete with each other and instead supported each other. Just go read this book!

Hulk – a book that made you incredibly angry

Love Hate and Other Filters and Once and Future. Don’t get me started on how much I hated these books. I could write a whole essay on them.

Hawkeye – an underrated book you think more people should pay attention to

The Disasters by M.K. England! I absolutely loved this book! It has incredible diverse rep and the story is so much fun! More people need to read this book!

*BONUS* Loki – a book with a twist or surprise that tricked you

Sanctuary by Vic James! This book is full of unreliable narrators and my god that ending had me reeling! Seriously you will want to continue reading chapter after chapter because you will need to know what happens next!

Anyways that’s the tag! Hope you enjoyed reading! If you read this consider yourself tagged!

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Quranic Reflections, Reflections

Allah Loves

Recently I attended an evening talk and iftar at my local masjid on the Day of Arafah and the Imam spoke about the different qualities that Allah (swt) shares with us that make us amongst those that He (swt) loves. He only spoke about 5 different qualities but there is lots of others too.

So I wanted to share them with you all to so that we can all benefit from them.

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But before I share the 5 qualities he spoke about, he spoke about how the first and foremost way to gain the love of Allah (swt) is to follow the sunnah of the Prophet (saw).

Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah , then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” Quran (3:31)

This doesn’t just mean the way you dress, but also, in your character and how you treat others. The Prophet (saw) was someone who had great concern for humanity and always treated others with kindness and respect, no matter who they were.

His sunnah was broad and encompassed all aspects of life so it is important for us to learn about his life and implement the way he was in our lives.

So the 5 qualities that the Imam spoke about:

1 Sabiroon – The Patient Ones

The people who are patient in the different circumstances in life gain the love of Allah. This doesn’t mean you don’t feel upset or stressed but that you don’t despair and complain about your circumstance to everyone.

When we are going through something difficult we show patience by only complaining to Allah (swt). When we are doing good deeds like fasting or praying etc, we show patience when doing it. We persevere even though we may find it difficult. For example, getting up to pray fajr even though you’re tired and fasting when it’s hot.

2 Muhsineen – The People of Ihsan

These are the people who strive to perfection by being their best possible self and in all that they do.

The Prophet (saw) told us what ihsan is, he said: “It is to worship Allah as though you see Him, and though you do not see Him, you know that He sees you.” (Bukhari)

There are some characteristics of the people of muhsineen:

• They are those who spend from their wealth in times of ease AND in times of difficulty.
• They restrain their anger.
• They pardon people, they forgive others and let things go.

3 Tawabeen – The People of Repentance

They are people who are constantly seeking forgiveness. We are human so we will commit sin, knowingly and unknowingly and these are the people who everyday think about what they did that day and seek forgiveness for their mistakes and transgressions. It is not just blindly and robotically seeking forgiveness. They realise and acknowledge that they committed a sin and then seek forgiveness for that.

4 Mutatahireen – The People of Taqwa

Taqwa is a state of consciousness of Allah (swt) so they are the people who are always aware that Allah (swt) is watching them

Ali (ra) who was one of the four rightly guided caliphs said taqwa is:

• The fear of Allah.
• Acting upon the Quran. This would mean acting upon the laws of the Quran and the hadith. So living life according to the sunnah and shariah.
• Being content with whatever Allah (swt) has given you, even though it may seem like it is not much.
• Preparing for death and the journey of the Hereafter. We should live life with the hereafter in mind.

So these people are conscious of things that will hurt or impact them and others and are conscious of doing the good deeds to the best of their ability.

5 Mutawakkaleen – The people who have tawakkal in Allah

These are people who have complete faith and trust in Allah (swt). This doesn’t mean that they don’t work for themselves and just say Allah (swt) will provide. These are people who do their best in what they do but they leave the outcome in the hands of Allah (swt). That we can plan things for ourselves and a future we envision for ourselves but the result is in the hands of Allah (swt).

The Prophet (saw) said: “Rely on Allah but tie your camel.” (Tirmidhi)

This was in response to someone asking the Prophet (saw) if he should leave his camel without tying it to the tree and just trust that Allah (swt) will keep it there. But what we learn is that even though we should trust in Allah (swt) we still need to do the work ourselves. So for example, we have to study and revise before taking an exam, not just do no work and expect Allah to give us a good grade.

When we truly rely on Allah (swt) then He will find a way out for you in any situation you find yourself in.

So these are the 5 qualities we were discussed in the class but he also mentioned a few others and that we should learn the others.

Some of the most beloved to Allah (swt) are those who bring benefit to other people.

Some of the best deeds:

• Bring joy and happiness to someone
• To help relieve a difficulty that someone is going through
• To forgive someone’s debt
• To feed a person who is hungry

For some further reading I highly recommend reading Muhammad: How He can make you Extraordinary by Hesham Al-Awadi.

And watching this short video series by Imam Omar Suleiman called Allah Loves here

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Book Characters I’d Love to Be Besties With

Hey booknerds! I’m taking part in another week of Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. You can find more information here

This week I am going to share characters I would love to be friends with. There’s always characters when you read about them, you instantly love them and wish you could hang out with them and just be friends with them and I have read so many amazing characters like that.

1 Samirah Al-Abbas from Magnus Chase by Rick Riordan – She is a badass and unapologetically Muslim and I just wish I was half as confident as her in her beliefs when I was her age.

2 Zainab from Love From A To Z by S.K. Ali – Another character who is unapologetically Muslim and I saw myself in her and I feel like if we were in school together we would definitely be friends

3 Ayesha from Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – I really loved her and who she was and would love to hang out with her

4 Tessa from TID by Cassandra Clare – A fellow booknerd! How could I not be friends with her?!

5 Zainab Al-Qahtani from The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty – She is sassy and smart and I just want to be friends with her okay

6 Hermione from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – She was the first character I saw myself in, a booknerd and studious. I would most definitely be friends with her.

7 Cress from TLC by Marissa Meyer – She is a fangirl and I could see us happily fangirl together for hours

8 Nahri from The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty – She is a badass and not afraid to stand up for what is right but she’s also smart about it. She would totally be an activist and we could campaign together.

9 Inej from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I love her and although she would be intimidating at first I think she would be an amazing friend.

10 Audrey Rose from Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco – We would both totally geek out over all the human biology and talk about how fascinating the body is together

So here are the characters I would be besties with!

What characters would you be besties with?

Book Reviews

The Candle and the Flame By Nafiza Azad – Book Review

I have been excited about this book ever since I first heard about it and then I was chosen to be part of the street team and I had so much fun! I was finally able to read the book once it released and I absolutely loved it!

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Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population — except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.
But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

This book is a phenomenal debut and I cannot wait to read more of Nafiza’s books! She has written a very character driven story full of amazing women being their badass selves in the different situations they find themselves in. I absolutely loved reading about every single one of them. And lets not forget to mention the swoon worthy Zulfiqar. Just go read this book you will not be disappointed!

Her writing is so beautiful and completely captivated me from the beginning. I wanted this book to never end and I am so sad that it is a standalone. Her story starts with the call to prayer and Fatima wakes for Fajr. My heart could not contain itself when I read the wonderful diverse Muslim representation in the book. Not only is there Muslim rep but she also showed how people from different cultures and religions can live harmoniously together. Fatima’s adoptive sister is Hindu yet they have a really close relationship which we see from the beginning of the book. I absolutely loved seeing that!

“You can’t judge an entire population of people by the actions of a select few. You can’t use your grief and your sorrow to justify your hate and discrimination.”

Her book is immersed in the culture and traditions of everyone that lives in Noor and it was written so beautifully. I can see the inspiration of the Pakistani/Indian culture throughout the story, from the language to the clothes and the food and traditions/celebrations. Urdu being used by the characters as though it’s the norm and them eating gulab jamun (my fave!) while they work and the clothes that they all wear, every single thing made me so excited to see my culture as the norm.

The story brings several women together who come from different walks in life but have to make the difficult decisions and do what needs to be done to save the people of Noor. They are all badasses in their own ways. Standing up against injustice, not tolerating the sexism and predatory behaviour by powerful men and making the choices that no one else wants to make and thereby showing that they are far more competent at leading than those actually in charge.

“Well, I wasn’t sure whether I would be punished for hurting him.” Fatima Ghazala lets out a short brittle laugh. “What a strange world we live in. He attacked me, yet I am the one worrying about being punished.”

I loved how they supported each other, women empowering women! They all grew and came to realisations about themselves and how they allowed the views on women in the general society to influence and dictate what they themselves think they are capable of. They grow to realise that they are capable of more and are braver and smarter than people give them credit for. That they don’t have to abide by the “rules” of society. It was such an empowering and positive message which is woven seamlessly throughout the story.

The last thing I will mention is that I do not recommend reading this on an empty stomach. There is so many food references and everything sounds so delicious that it will leave your mouth watering and craving all the food!

If you enjoy books which are character driven where we get to read about women being their badass selves and a wonderfully diverse book, then I highly recommend reading this! I mean why wouldn’t you want to read this amazing book?!

Friday Favourites

Friday Favourites – Books That Define You

This is hosted by Something of the Book who created this tag out of a love for lists. There are different topics for us all to be able to take part and you can find the prompts here. There isn’t a specific number of favourites so it’s entirely up to you how many you share. You can share your most or least favourites too!

This weeks post is about books that define you! So I’m going to share some fiction and non-fiction books which are essentially part of me and you can learn a lot about me from knowing these are some of my favourite books that are basically me!

So the fiction books which I feel are a part of me:

1 The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty – Look I think we’ve all established that I am obsessed with these books and I will one day love them enough to actually transport myself into Daevabad.

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2 Love From A To Z by S.K. Ali – A love story with Muslim characters, who don’t date, yet still fall in love? Where has this book been all my life?! This is essentially me and my husband and this book will have a special place in my heart.

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3 Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – The Pride & Prejudice retelling with Muslim characters that I have been waiting for that not only made me nostalgic for the original but was a fresh new spin and incorporating young Muslim lives into the story.

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4 Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – The book of my childhood that made me completely and entirely obsessed with books!

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5 The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton – While HP may have cemented my bookworm status, it was these books that actually made me a reader

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These are the non-fiction books which will essentially show you who I am and what I am passionate about:

6 Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford – Talking about female empowerment is something I can talk about until the end of time.

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7 I Will Not Be Erased by Gal-Dem – Seeing stories written by people of colour and especially those who are Muslim is something I am so passionate about supporting. Only we can write our stories.

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8 The Hormone Diaries by Hannah Witton – Talking about taboo subjects is something I do a lot. It brings me great joy to see the scandalised faces of those who still think that periods are ‘eww’

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9 It’s Not About the Burqa edited by Mariam Khan – I need more stories and essays with the complex and vast view of Muslim women. These are stories where I can see me, where I can see my stories. I need more of these!

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10 Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed – This is the book that I read time and time again and has helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life.

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11 The Quran – And lastly the book that is essentially a guide on the way I live my life. The most important book I will ever read. It is THE book that I turn to in all and any situation I find myself in, good and bad.

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So these are the books that basically define me and topics that people I know will associate with me. I hope this has helped give you an insight to the person I am!

Is there any books that define you?

For the love of Books

Books That Had Me Hooked From The First Line

Do you ever pick up a book and start reading and from that very first line you instantly know you will love the story?

There are some books that had me completely hooked and needing to know more from the very first line. Every single time that happens it always ends up being a book that becomes an absolute favourite of mine!

So I wanted to share some of these books and maybe it will intrigue you enough to want to read it.

1 “He was an easy mark.” – The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

2 “Alizayd Al-Qahtani didn’t last a month with his caravan.” – The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

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3 “Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.” – The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

4 “I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.” – Red Rising by Pierce Brown

5 “Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.” – Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

6 “People lived because she killed.” – We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

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7 “You do not enter a race to lose.” – Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

8 “Kell wore a very peculiar coat.” – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

9 “Asha lured the dragon with a story.” – The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccerelli

10 “The desert sings of loss, always loss, and if you stand quiet with your eyes closed, it will grieve you too.” – The Candle and the Flame

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So these are the first lines that had me hooked. Every single one of these has become a favourite of mine and highly recommend reading them.

Of course a special shout out to my favourite books ever, The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper! I am completely obsessed with these and how can you not be?! Just look at how intriguing these very first lines are!

Are there any books that had you hooked from the very first line?

Book Reviews

We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal – ARC Review

Thank you to My Kinda Book for sending me a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I have been following Hafsah for a while now and when she announced her book was being published I squealed with joy! I was actually seeing a visibly Muslim woman, who wears a niqab, being published and she was getting so much support from the book community! I knew without even knowing anything about this book that I would buy it as I so needed to support my sister and I really hope we get more diverse authors being published and really supported in the book community.

And then the rave reviews started coming in and my excitement level for this book went through the roof! And it’s safe to say that it did not disappoint! I loved this book and the zumra are my new faves and I could just read pages and pages of their banter alone!

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Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.
Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.
War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Hafsah’s writing is so beautiful that I did not want to stop reading. Her descriptions and wonderfully intricate world building allowed her world to come to life. It’s as if you are right there with the characters. I loved learning about the history of the world and the magic system.

This book is full of diverse characters and a culture and traditions and language that isn’t normally seen in books. I had a huge grin on my face reading Arabic words and terminology that is the norm in Arabia in this book! It enriched the story even more and honestly I just wish we get more stories like this where diversity is the norm.

The story is told from two points of view, Zafira and Nasir, and I fell in love with them right from the first chapter. I was tabbing away because I just wanted to remember every sentence. They are both such distinct characters that they were easy to switch between points of view without getting confused.

“‘If I told you my name, would you bow?’ His voice was soft. A melancholy caress. ‘Or would you flee?'”

Nasir is our emotionally distant, seriously deadly assassin who I immediately decided was in fact a cinnamon roll and just needed a hug. He has had a pretty tragic life and I just felt for him so much. I loved his character growth as the story progresses and how he has to come to terms with a lot of things he discovers along the way. I cannot wait to see more of him in the next book!

“I’ll show him what a woman can do. She startled herself with that thought, rough and angry. Because conquering the Arz wasn’t enough. Now she was going to conquer the Sharr.”

Zafira is a badass and I really loved how Hafsah showed her turmoil between wanting to be herself and hiding who she is, when she disguises herself as a boy, because people will not see past her being a woman, even though she has done so much to help her community. I really related to her because there are people who don’t see past the scarf on my head and I am so much more than that. I also loved how sassy and sarcastic she is and her friendship with Yasmine and Deen is so beautiful and I am really looking forward to seeing more of her and Yasmine together. I think one of my favourite things about Zafira was how naïve and oblivious she is to people flirting with her. It was so funny to read!

And then we have the rest of the zumra! Who are actually squad goals and I just want to hang out with them. Altair is just the most sassy, sarcastic, self-confident person ever and will flirt with a tree and I absolutely loved him! I could just read a book about him! Kifah is a badass and Benyamin is a sweet heart. The whole gang is full of sarcastic characters and honestly these are my favourite type of characters so I cannot possibly choose a favourite. Each of them are interesting and complex and fully fleshed out. It’s easy to distinguish between them because they each have distinct voices.

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The story itself is so rich and the world building is phenomenal and although it is a little slow at the beginning, it’s because the world and backstory is so wonderfully woven into the story so you don’t mind reading it all. Then as the story begins and we meet all the characters it becomes even more intricate. The second half of the story is a lot more fast paced and filled with plot twists that will leave you reeling. Hafsah is so great at the foreshadowing and including plot twists that I didn’t see coming! I thought I knew what was happening but she still managed to surprise me.

This book is for anyone who loves a group of sassy, sarcastic characters. Beautifully rich world building and writing that is almost lyrical. And I highly recommend reading it!