Monthly Wrap Up

March 2020 Wrap Up

Wow this month has been…a month. With everything going on in the world, it’s been a lot to deal with. I’ve been staying at home but my husband is a health care worker so he is still going to work.

But as I am at home and not having to work as many hours I had more time to read and relax. I also signed up to the 30 days free on scribd which I am absolutely loving and have gone through so many audiobooks since I started using it!

Aside from reading I have also announced my Welcome to Daevabad box which is available to buy on my etsy page! It will have 11 items and I have done several supplier and artist reveals on my Instagram page. If you love the Daevabad trilogy then do check it out!

So back to the books I read this month!

1 Once Upon an Eid edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed – This book is pure joy! It was such a wonderful book to read and had me sobbing and crying happy tears. Go preorder this book!

Rating: 5/5

2 More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed Masood – I was so beyond disappointed by this book. Youc an read my review here

Rating: 1/5

3 The Wolf of Oren Yaro by K.S. Villoso – I enjoyed this book I especially loved the world and how flawed and complex the main character was

Rating: 3/5

4 There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon – This book was absolutely adorable! I loved the body positivity in it too

Rating: 5/5

5 Split by Muhammad Khan – This short story was a world book day book and it was really great to see a character that had been mentioned but not one we got to see much of

Rating: 4/5

6 More to the Story by Hena Khan – This was such a wonderful retelling of Little Women I absolutely adored it!

Rating: 5/5

7 Misogynation by Laura Bates – This was a really interesting read and made me so mad at times. Highly recommend listening to it

Rating: 5/5

8 We Should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche – A reread which I enjoyed just as much the second time

Rating: 5/5

9 The Austen Girls by Lucy Worsley – This was a lovely book where we get to see Jane Austen through the eyes of her niece.

Rating: 3/5

10 Outspoken by Veronica Reuckert – This book challenged me and taught me a lot.

Rating: 3.5/5

11 A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir – Wow! I loved the sequel even more the second time reading it and I cannot wait to dive into Reaper next month!

Rating: 5/5

12 Dear Ijewale by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche – Another reread which I did enjoy reading again

Rating: 4/5

13 Period Power by Nadya Okomato – I loved this book so much! Especially that it was inclusive of people of colour and was not condescending (like I have seen in other period books) towards other people’s faith or beliefs

Rating: 5/5

14 Yes, I’m Hot in This by Huda Fahmy – I needed a good laugh and this book delivered!

Rating 5/5

15 The Fever King by Victoria Lee – I enjoyed this book but I did feel it dragged a lot in the middle

Rating: 3/5

16 Pride by Ibi Zoboi – I was totally hooked on this book right from the beginning! I loved it so much!

Rating: 5/5

17 The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell – A reread so I can read the sequel and I loved it even more!

Rating: 4.5/5

18 The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty – This book was PHENOMENAL. ABSOLUTE PERFECTION. I cannot put into words how much I loved this book and this whole trilogy!

Rating: 5/5

I also started Finale by Stephanie Garber by ended up DNFing about 100 pages in because I realised I didn’t care what happened. I really loved Caraval but I didn’t enjoy Legendary much or Finale enough to finish it.

So that’s everything I read this month!

I also shared reviews for these books:

That Can Be Arranged by Huda Fahmy
Thorn by Intisar Khanani
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

I also wrote these blog posts this month:

What Made Me A Reader for World Book Day
I shared my journey with feminism and What Feminism Means To Me
I shared a reflection on a theme that is throughout the Quran. Talking about how remembering Jannah (paradise) helps me through difficult times. You can read it here

I started a new blog series about Inspirational Muslim Women throughout History. Here are the posts I shared this month

1 Nusaybah bin Ka’ab – A warrior and activist
2 Khadijah bint Khuwaylid – A businesswoman and first person to become Muslim

So that’s everything for this month! What was your favourite read? Share any blog posts you loved reading or writing so I can check them out!

Inspirational People, Muslim Shelf Space, Reflections

Inspirational Women Throughout History – Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid (ra)

This post is about the woman that I love most, who has been my role model for most of my life, Khadijah (ra). Out of all the women I want to share with you, her post will be the most difficult for me to write because once I start talking about her, I just can’t stop. I have spent so long learning about her life that I have SO MUCH I want to say about her.

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She was an extraordinary woman in so many ways, a successful businesswoman, a wife, a mother, a leader, the first Muslim, a woman promised paradise. Who was given the honour of receiving salaam from Allah himself through Jibreel. If there was only one person throughout history that I could meet, it would be her.

She was a unique woman especially in pre-Islamic Arabia. Not only was she a successful businesswoman. She owned the most successful and wealthiest business in all of Quraysh. If you put her caravans next to the caravans of every other caravan of Quraysh, hers would be more. She became known as the Princess of Quraysh.

But being so wealthy and having such a high position in society didn’t make her arrogant or proud, she was known for being humble and generous with her wealth. She had a green silk pavilion over the roof of her home which was a sign for the poor and needy that they could go to her to get help.

She had been married and widowed twice by the age of 25 and then didn’t marry for 15years. When she did decide to marry, she proposed to him, who would eventually become the Prophet (saw). She told him that she fell for him because of his noble character and truthful tongue. And of course, their marriage is a love story for the ages.

Even after she married the Prophet (saw), he continued to work for her and they had a wonderful marriage. They were a very prominent couple in society, he was known as Amin (the truthful one) and she was known as Taherah (the pure one) and they were very involved in society. They adopted orphaned kids alongside raising their own. She continued to prosper in her business.

After revelation came to the Prophet (saw) their circumstances changed as they were shunned from society along with everyone else who became Muslim and when the tribes boycotted the Muslims and people began dying from thirst and starvation she used up all her wealth to buy as much food as she could to distribute to those suffering and eventually died as a result of the boycott. She was in her 60s by then and when she passed away that year became known as the year of sorrow because of how much it affected the Prophet (saw).

She was a woman who was smart and resourceful, she was a kind and generous person who helped those in need and she made a huge impact in society and history because it was through her support and faith in the Prophet (saw) that helped him to spread the message about Islam. She was instrumental in the beginning and despite her never having lived long enough after revelation to fast Ramadan or pray the 5 daily prayers she has the highest status in Islam and the Prophet (saw) said that four women perfected their faith and she was among those four.

You can also read my first post about Nusaybah here

Fiction Books, YA Books

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn – ARC Review

Thank you to Netgally and Zephyr for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this story and I am looking forward to the next book!

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Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Camille, a revolutionary’s daughter, leads a band of outcasts – a runaway girl, a deserter, an aristocrat in hiding. As the Battalion des Mortes they cheat death, saving those about to meet a bloody end at the blade of Madame La Guillotine. But their latest rescue is not what she seems. The girl’s no aristocrat, but her dark and disturbing powers means both the Royalists and the Revolutionaries want her. But who and what is she?
In these dangerous days, no one can be trusted, everyone is to be feared. As Camille learns the truth, she’s forced to choose between loyalty to those she loves and the future.

This book is about a group of young friends trying to help those who have no one else to turn to and in doing so they get in way over their heads and end up in a very dangerous situation.

I loved all the characters, they each had their own storylines which also overlapped into the main story so it made them more complex and interesting. We are told the story from the point ofview of Camille and Ade so we can really get into their heads and know how they feel and what they think throughout the story but I would have loved to get a point of view for Al and Guil too as they were such interesting characters. I hope we get it in the next book!

They each have roles in their group and feel the pressures of fulfilling it especially when they feel out of their depth. I really loved seeing how they struggled along the way but that they were there for each other and supported each other even when they fought.

Olympe was another really interesting character, this is who they break out of jail and there is more to her than they were told. She has these mysterious powers that no one really understands fully but each side of the revolution wants to use in their war. As she is being hunted the group of friends try to help her hide which created interesting dynamics as they didn’t always agree on what to do.

I also loved seeing how immersed in the history of the time the book is. I actually learned quite a lot about that time period and the history nerd in me was thrilled! From the discussions of whether the earth is flat to not understanding electricity it is clear that the author has done a lot of research for the book to feel authentic.

The story is fast paced and full of action. It is brutal and dark at times and the plot twists were done so well! I especially did not see one particular twist coming and let me tell you I was left shocked and actually gasped when it was all revealed.

I cannot wait to read the next book especially after that ending I just need to know what they will do now and where the story will take us.

Diverse Books, YA Books

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – Book Review

I have been meaning to read this book for so long and wow why did I take so long to read it because this book is so cute!

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Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

I am not a fan of rom coms so I kept putting off reading it but as I recently started to enjoy more contemporary books I thought I would give it a go and I absolutely loved it! This book was adorable and I read it with a huge grin on my face!

First of all this book has the best meet cute ever! Like excuse me but how does Rishi actually think that his…overly enthusiastic hello…would end in any other way. I was cackling! Every time I remember it I crack up!

One of the things that I really loved was seeing the role reversal. In rom coms we generally see the girl as the romantic and the guy focusing on his career, yet Sandhya switched it around and I really loved seeing that! Rishi was the most adorable hopeless romantic and Dimple only cared about starting her career. I loved how Dimple was a programmer and Rishi an artist. It was refreshing to see that gender stereotypes were broken down.

I loved seeing the way Indian culture was unapologetically infused into the story, it really made the story what it is, the way their culture and religious beliefs influenced their decisions and also how some parts of the culture which is actually harmful was discussed and broken down too. Seeing culture so similar to mine in the story, as if it was the norm was so wonderful to see! From their clothes to food to their language and family dynamics. It was amazing!

“This is our life. We get to decide the rules. We get to say what goes and what stays, what matters and what doesn’t.”

Dimple and Rishi were such wonderful characters, not only do we get to see them grow together but also separately. I loved how they both impacted each other, from Dimple helping Rishi see that his parents would still be proud of him even if he chose to pursue his passion over their expectations and Rishi helped Dimple see that she doesn’t have to sacrifice her career to be with him.

I also loved the side characters that we get to see from Dimple’s friend Celia and Rishi’s brother Aashish. I especially loved Aashish! I loved that the girls supported each other and were there for each other. It was also great to see sibling relationship and how they love each other but also how it can be complicated too.

I really loved their story and I hope we can see more of them in future books in the series and see what happens as they get older! This is a Bollywood romance in a book and I loved every single second of it.

Reflections

Quran Reflections – A Glimpse of Jannah

I have been meaning to share some of my quranic reflections on here as it is an important part of my life and I thought that as Ramadan is approaching, I would start sharing some now. Sometimes I read an ayah (verse) in the Quran and I am left amazed at how it is the one ayah I needed to read at the time. It really makes me reflect on what I was reading so I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you all.

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I love that in the Quran, Allah gives us a glimpse of what Jannah (heaven) will be like. He (swt) tells us about gardens, rivers, food; things that we can see on the earth. And because we can see these things, we can imagine, to our best ability, what Jannah will be like. And because we can see the beauty on the earth, it makes us long for Jannah. We know that no matter how beautiful earth is, Jannah will be so much better. The beauty of the earth is nothing compared to the beauty of Jannah and I just long to see it. If we could not understand what was being described about Jannah, we wouldn’t long for it like we do. This longing helps us to strive for Jannah.

When I’m struggling, when I’m going through something difficult and I am really stressed, Allah has put these beautiful descriptions of Jannah in the Quran to help us through. Not only describing what Jannah will be like but also telling us that we won’t experience any hardship or sadness or pain or fear in Jannah. That’s one of the most amazing things that Allah could have shared with us. That in Jannah there is no pain, no sadness, no suffering. At all. Ever. For eternity. This completely blows my mind. Please let me be able to experience that.

Sometimes there are things that I really want or something I am hoping will happen, but it doesn’t. We are disappointed and we can’t always have the things we want. But in Jannah we can have whatever we want. We just have to think it and we will get it, whether it’s food, books, clothes, anything! It will literally be a thought in our head, and it will be in front of us. I could spend days doing everything and anything I want. Just thinking about it makes me sob.

Knowing these things about Jannah helps us to keep going when we feel like we can’t continue. When we feel like the pain won’t ever go away, knowing that we can live pain free for an eternity can push us to keep going. Because my life on earth is temporary and nothing stays the same in our lives on earth. We have good times and bad times; it is always changing. But in Jannah it is only good things, only exactly what we want. I can’t begin to explain how much my heart longs for this.

I could literally spend my days in Jannah reading and chilling with Sherlock all day, every day if I wanted. That’s the dream! Thinking of Jannah honestly gives me such motivation to continue to strive because oh my gosh I really want to spend an eternity in Jannah.

Books by Muslim Authors, Muslim Shelf Space, YA Books

More Than Just A Pretty Face by Syed Masood – ARC Review

Thank you to Hodder Books and Netgalley for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review.

I was really disappointed when I read this book. I was hoping to see nuanced Muslim rep in this book however that is not what was in this book.

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Rating: 1/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

High school senior Danyal Jilani may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he’s cute and funny and is going to make a great chef one day – if his father doesn’t kill that dream first. However, if he’s going to secure a good arranged marriage – with, for example, his gorgeous classmate Kaval – he knows he needs to step up his game.
When Danyal gets picked to be his class’s representative for The Renaissance Man, a prestigious school-wide academic championship, no one is more surprised than him. Knowing he’ll never get through it on his own, he recruits the help of uninspiring potential marriage match Bisma. At first they’re just study partners, but the more time they spend together, the more Danyal learns from her, the more he cooks for her – the more he realises that happiness might just be staring him in the face. But Bisma has dark secrets in her past that could rock the Northern California desi community to its very core . . .

I was really excited about this book, it sounded so cute and while the story between Danyal and Bisma was kinda cute I had some serious issues with the Muslim rep. The story between Danyal and Bisma was nice and there were some good parts especially the discussion on colonialism and whitewashing of history I found that culture and Islamic practices are often confused and mixed together and presented as one and the same which I had issues with as the cultural practices often contradict the Islamic practices. The Islamic practices were also really twisted to suit whatever point the author was making which I found really irritating as it would create more misconceptions about Islam.

How the explanations of aspects of Islam were explained seemed a bit weird at times too. I didn’t understand why some things were written in the way that they were. For example, the way the reasoning for arranged marriages were explained, essentially a halal way to have sex had me doing a double take and that wasn’t the only time I was at a loss for words as to why certain things were worded the way they were.

This was one of many occasions where Islamic practices were twisted and used to make a point rather than actually show what they are. I was pretty angry by the end of the book.

I am also tired of seeing “religious” characters shown as judgemental and just boring one dimensional characters. Danyal’s friend did nothing but haram police the other characters and was shown as judgemental towards his friends choices and that he was the only one that needed to “change” I just wish we could get more complex characters when it comes to someone practicing their faith instead of leaning into stereotypes. In fact basically all side characters were one dimensional stereotypes and I was rolling my eyes constantly.

There was also a scene where Danyal and Bisma kiss on stage in front of family friends and teachers and then Danyal’s mum throws her shoe at him and proceeds to hit him with said shoe. It was written in a light hearted joking way and then later his mum says sorry that she had to do that and it was to keep up appearances. I just could not believe that something that is actual ABUSE and an issue that many children deal with was used as a joke like this. It’s completely unacceptable.

There a couple things I did like seeing in the book. How the legacy of Churchill was discussed in the book and how he may not have been the amazing hero that everyone believes him to be. We get to see that there is more to history than what is written or learnt about. It just depends where you are in the world and what books you read.

There was also some relatable parts of the story, how Danyal was seen as a failure because he wasn’t a studious student and excelled in a parent approved field. The double stands in society that Bisma has to deal with too was so heartbreaking yet so realistic. Girls are always held to a much higher standard in Asian society than boys and girls are always blamed when they are less than perfect. So I really felt for Bisma especially how her dad treated her.

However the small positives were not enough for me to overlook the glaring issues in the book. From the awful stereotypical Muslim rep to the one dimensional characters and a story where trying to show that Danyal is “not like other Muslims” meaning he is “progressive” made me incredibly angry.

I was so disappointed with the Muslim rep in this book especially as it’s ownvoices. I did like some aspects of the story but I just wished the characters had been more complex and had actual nuanced rep rather than stereotypes.

Book Reviews, Friday Favourites

Friday Favourites – Upcoming Release Book Covers

This was hosted by Something of the Book who created this tag out of a love for lists. Now Geeky 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 lots of you loved how I paired book covers with Pakistani outfits so I thought I would do something similar with this post! I’m going to share some books that I am excited about releasing soon and pair some outfits with them!

1 Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty

2 We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal

3 The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

4 The Damned by Renee Ahdieh

5 Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

I hope you like the outfits I picked! Are you excited to read any of these books?