Fiction Books, middle grade books, Muslim Shelf Space

Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga – Book Review

I had been recommended this book several times so when I saw it was on sale I just had to but it and it did not disappoint!

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Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

I am learning how to be
sad
and happy
at the same time.
Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.
At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

I absolutely adored this book and read it in one day! It is beautifully written and completely in verse which I thought added to the beauty of this book. It’s a heartfelt story which had me shedding a tear because this is a story that is a reality for so many young people today and not all of them get the same ending as Jude.

It shows the horrors of what it is to be a refugee and the heartbreak of having to leave everything in your life behind including your family and friends in the hope that you will make it safely to another country and be safe when you get there and how you have to start a whole new life in a place where you don’t know anyone and can even be made to feel unwelcome there.

The beginning of the story we see Jude in Syria doing your average everyday things that kids do but also the underlying tension that even the kids feel because where they live is increasingly becoming unsafe for them. Then we see her journey to the US and have to navigate a place where she is unfamiliar with the culture (outside of the films she has seen) and the language barrier she faces.

The story shows how she struggles with adjusting at times and the loneliness she feels but also her determination and perseverance to live the life she dreamed of. Half way through the book she decides to wear a hijab and Jasmine showed how people’s perception of her changed and how people treated her, despite it being a middle grade book the Islamophobia was shown in a raw and realistic way that even young readers can understand.

This is a story that could be about any immigrant and refugee child which is what makes it even more hard hitting when reading about Jude’s life. It’s a much needed story in today’s society and written beautifully. It shows the hardship and difficulties but also the hope and dreams they have just like every other child. It’s such a wonderful story and I loved it.

Friday Favourites

Friday Favourites – Fictional Families

This was hosted by Something of the Book who created this tag out of a love for lists. Now Geeky Galaxy is taking over the tag. 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.

This weeks topic is about fictional families and I love seeing fictional families. I especially love this trope as my friends are basically my family too and my sisters are my best friends too so I think it’s so important to show that family can be so different for each person and not just the traditional parent child etc.

So here are my favourite fictional families:

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan – This series shows such a wonderful found family and how complex it can be and it was just amazing to see.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – I love the Rampion crew so much and how they become a family!

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – I love how they look out for and support each other and how they are understanding of each others differences.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I adore the Dregs so much and their banter is the best!

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart – I have a really close relationshipwith my sisters too so it was so great to see how the sisters were together in this book and how they looked out for each other but also argued like sisters do.

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty – I love the Qahtani siblings! They have such interesting dynamics and it’s such a complex relationship between them especially the brothers because of them being a ruling family.

So here are some of my favourite fictional families. What books have some of your favourites?

Book Tag

Of Curses and Kisses Book Tag

I have completely fallen in love with this book and so when I saw that Scorpio Book Dreams had created a book tag inspired by the book I could not resist doing the tag!

Before I do the tag here is what the book is about:

Will the princess save the beast?
For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?
His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…
As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

The tag was originally created by Scorpio Book Dreams and you can find her post here

So lets get on with the tag:

Jaya – Favourite fictional bookworm
I mean did you really expect me to pick anyone except my Prince Alizayd al-Qahtani from The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty?! My favourite nerd who will literally talk all day about all things history and economics and everything else in between!

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Grey – Favourite brooding character
Nasir from We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal takes brooding to a whole new level!

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St. Rosetta’s Academy – Favourite fictional school
Blackcliff Academy in An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is technically a school, albeit one that trains kids to be ruthless assassins.

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Jaya & Isha – Favourite fictional siblings
Rishi and Aashish from When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon have a really interesting relationship and loved seeing how much they grow together in this book.

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Romance & Revenge – Book that features both themes
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi has both and both themes are done SO WELL. My god I cannot wait to have the next book in my hands!

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Rose pendant – Book featuring a touch of magic
A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby weaves just that little bit of magic into the life of the MC to help her deal with the things that is happening in her life.

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Rao & Emerson families – Book that deals with the pressure of family expectations
One of the main themes that runs throughout The City of Brass by S.A Chakraborty is how the youth have to live up to their family expectations even though it isn’t what they want and how they have to deal with that when they realise that they actually don’t agree with their parents.

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Leo, Rahul & Daphne Elizabeth – A book featuring a supportive friendship group
All the Things we Never Said by Yasmin Rahman deals with some really difficult but one of the themes that is woven into the story which plays an important role is friendship. It was really great seeing some really wonderful and complex female friendships.

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Enemies to lovers – favourite book featuring this trope
I loved how The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala used this trope and watching them go from enemies to lovers was *chefs kisses* it was done so well!

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Caterina – A character that seem an ice queen/king but is actually a cinnamon roll
Ari from The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah is really broody and angsty but we later realise he is actually a cinnamon roll!

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Everyone is welcome to do the tag!

Fiction Books, ya books

Kingdom Of The Blazing Phoenix by Julie C Dao – Book Review

I really loved Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and I was finally able to read the sequel and I really loved how everything turned out!

You can read my review of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns here

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Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery while her stepmother, the ruthless Xifeng, rules as empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn’t want the crown, she knows she is the only one who can dethrone the empress and set the world right. Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. But will the same darkness that took Xifeng take Jade, too? Or will she find the strength within to save herself, her friends, and her empire?

While book one focused on an origin story for the evil queen, this book is a diverse retelling of snow white. I’m not particularly a fan of snow white but I really loved how Julie took the main themes and elements of the story and made it so much more vivid and fascinating!

We don’t get to see a lot of Xifeng in this story, only as much as Jade interacts with her, but I still loved what we saw of her. She is still ruthless and cunning and will still do what’s necessary for her to stay empress but she has realised that she may have paid a too high price but is too far in to do anything to change that. She is bound to the serpent god now whether she wants to or not.

Jade is a reluctant heroine who only decides to defeat Xifeng because she sees the way that Xifeng is destroying the empire. She is kind and caring and smart which makes everyone instantly like her. She becomes friends with some great characters. Julie does a great job in showing us how Jade would be as empress in the way she interacts with the people she is with and especially those lower in station than her.

I also really loved seeing a great female friendship in this book between Jade and Wren. I loved seeing the female empowerment in this book too especially as we see Wren, who is a fighter and Jade who is so different from her yet they are both shown as empowered.

I really loved seeing the great world building in this book. The first book takes place mainly in the palace and surrounding areas yet Jade travels to lots of different places in her quest for the artefacts, so through her we see the different parts of this world. I also loved that it just felt part of the story and not info dumpy.

I did however feel that during the quest, it felt a little slow at times and things were a little too conveniently put there and I just wanted that little bit more struggle and stakes to get the artefacts. I really enjoyed the ending though and the revelations that we find out! Some I did manage to figure out but others I didn’t. It was an action packed ending and had me on the edge of my seat.

Overall I really enjoyed this duology and do recommend reading them. They are both quite different from each other yet they complement each other. You can also read one without reading the other.

Friday Favourites

Friday Favourites – Books Set in a Country That’s Not Your Own

This was hosted by Something of the Book who created this tag out of a love for lists. Now Geeky Galaxy is taking over the tag. 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.

So as I live in the UK I will share some books that I read and loved set elsewhere:

Ayesha At Last – This is set in a small community in Canada and desi culture is an important part of the story.

When Dimple Met Rishi – It’s set in the US but Indian culture is also integral to the story.

Other Words for Home – This is set in two different places, in Syria and the US. It’s the story of the MC journey when she has to leave Syria because it’s unsafe for her to live there.

The Weight of our Sky – This is set in Malaysia in 1969 during a period of riots that took place.

All American Muslim Girl – Again it’s set in the US but also includes Syrian and Circassian culture which is an important part of the story.

Love From A to Z – While the beginning is set in the US, the majority of the book is set in Doha.

Ayesha Dean and the Istanbul Intrigue – This book is set in Turkey while the MC is on holiday there with her friends.

So here are some books that I loved set outside of the UK. All of these books are also diverse books!

Fiction Books, ya books

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – Book Review

I have had an ARC of The Gilded Wolves sitting on my shelf for several months but I kept putting off reading it because the sequel was so far away. But I am so glad I did read it because I absolutely loved it!

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Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.
Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

This book had me on the edge of my seat the whole time and I stayed up way too late because I just needed to read one more chapter. Roshani’s writing is so beautiful that you can just get lost in her words and never want to leave. Honestly this book is beautiful inside and out.

The story revolves around a group wonderfully diverse, complex characters and I instantly fell in love with them. The story begins with them planning a heist, one which is important for all of them for different reasons. It is intertwined with short paragraphs which explain the history of the Order of Babel and their significance to the story and the world. The history nerd in me absolutely loved seeing the historical references throughout the book. And the fact that not only is the story revolving around a heist, it’s a heist for magical artefacts! Excuse me while I go fangirl!

One house fell. And another house’s line died without an heir. Now all that is left is a secret.

Roshani also weaves some very important still very much relevant themes into the story. She discusses colonialism and racism and how it affects the characters and their lives. All of them come of a wide range of different ethnic backgrounds and because they are not white they are denied opportunities in all walks of life. I absolutely loved seeing this in the book because this is something that still affects so many people throughout the world. At one point in the story they have to wear disguises and Hypnos, who is in charge of getting their disguises, puts them all in the stereotype of what people would expect them to be. It was really interesting seeing that, especially as who they are so different from what society expects them to be.

When you are who they expect you to be, they never look too closely. If you’re furious, let it be fuel.

The characters are the main reason as to why I just couldn’t put the book, they were all amazing and so different from each other but I loved how they all protected and supported each other. They knew each other so well.

There’s Severin, who had his inheritance stolen from him, then there’s Laila who is desperately searching for an artefact that will help her get the answers she needs. These two are my absolute favourites, the tension between them, the way they work together was just perfection. Then there’s Tristan who has known Severin since childhood and who Severin is fiercely protective of and Zofia who is an actual genius but struggles with social situations. I loved how Laila looked out for her. Then there’s Enrique who is a historian and activist who wants to help improve the lives of his people. And lastly Hypnos, the newest person in their group who is a Patriarch of his family but not completely accepted because of his background.

But what no one tells you is that even when you decide which world you will live in, the world may not always see you as you would wish. Sometimes it demands that you be so outrageous as to transcend your very skin. You can change your name. Your eye colour. Make yourself a myth and live within it, so that you belong to no one but yourself.

I loved all of them so much! Their interactions and their banter and even good-natured rivalry between some of them. Even when they didn’t agree with each they still supported each other. I just wanted to protect them all. Their cultures and traditions were are huge part of them and I loved that they didn’t lose that part of their heritage to “integrate” living in Paris. My favourites are Severin and Laila and I just need them to just admit how they feel about each other. Make it happen please, Roshani!

Don’t capture their hearts. Steal their imagination.

I am so excited to read the next book! I cannot wait for it to come out especially after that ending!

Favourite Book Quotes, Muslim Shelf Space, The Daevabad Trilogy

My Favourite Quotes From The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

It’s no secret how much I absolutely adore The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty. If you follow me on my social media you know that I regularly fangirl and basically throw this book at everyone to read and my most anticipated read of the year is Empire of Gold which is out on June 30th so you all still have time to read the best books you will ever read before the final book is out!

In this post I am going to share my favourite quotes from the first book, The City of Brass and it may just convince you all to go read or reread the book!

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So here are my favourite quotes:

He was an easy mark. – The very first line of the book and instantly convinced me that I will love this book and Nahri!

“Suleiman’s eye!” it roared. “I will kill whoever called me here!” – an apt introduction to Dara.

The best tales always have at least a kernel of truth. – This quote is amazing on so many levels because what the book is inspired by and how much of real history Shannon weaves seamlessly into the books.

“You’re some kind of thief then?” “That’s a very narrow minded way of looking at it. I prefer to think of myself as a merchant of delicate tasks.” – Look by this point I was already in love with Nahri but damn her sass is so on point!

“Oh calm down, sheikh.” Zaynab shivered. “It’s cold up here.” “Cold? We’re djinn! You are literally created from fire.” – I love the banter and the squabbling between the Qahtani siblings. I want more of it please!

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“I think I should like to learn to do this” “Pick a lock? She laughed. “Are you planning a future as a criminal in the human world?” “I like to keep my options open.” – I love this whole chapter when Nahri and Ali are just chilling and studying like the nerds they are!

“I’m coming back Nahri,” he promised. “You’re my Banu Nahida. This is my city.” His expression was defiant. “Nothing will keep me from either of you.” – While I am not a fan of Dara, I have to admit he does have some great lines.

“Come on Nahid. A Qahtani fool is offering is offering up free information surely your instincts are telling you to take advantage of it.” That drew a slight smile, tinged with exasperation. – Ali and Nahri have such a wonderful friendship and I just want to see more adorable scenes like the library scenes in this book.

In what world do men and women pay the same price for passion. – The parallels to our society and the raw truth and the context it was said in was honestly chilling.

Nahri always smiled at her marks. – The last line of the book parallels the first line so well and it made me cheer for her after everything she had been through, I knew she would be a force to be reckoned with in the next book!

And here is my absolute favourite line from the book:

Greatness takes time Banu Nahida. Often the mightiest things have the humblest beginnings. – It’s such a wonderful line in so many ways, not only is it inspiring and motivating but in the context of the book, it’s something that I feel indicates that Nahri will achieve great things.

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So here are my favourite quotes from the book! If you read the book tell me some of yours!

I have also written these blog posts about the Daevabad books:

I have also reviewed The City of Brass here and The Kingdom of Copper here.

I have also created a Daevabad book tag which you all welcome to do! Please do tag me if you do it! I would love to see your answers!

I wrote about why you should all read the Daevabad books here

And this post is about when I met Shannon last summer. You can read it here.