Blog Tours/Street Teams, Books by Muslim Authors, Middle Grade Books

Nura & The Immortal Palace Blog Tour – Book Review

Thank you to ed.pr and walker books for having me on this blog tour! I will be sharing my review as part of the tour!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Nura has worked all her life in the mica mines, earning just enough to keep her family afloat – and enjoy the odd delicious gulab jamun from the market. Some day she’s going to find the Demon’s Tongue, a legendary treasure buried deep in the mines, and her family will never have to worry about money again.

But when a terrible accident buries her best friend below ground, Nura goes in search of him and passes over into the magical and terrible world of the jinn. Across a pink sea and under a purple sky, she finds her way to a palace, where great riches and a whole new life are on offer.

But it’s not long before Nura discovers this world to be as unfair as the real one, and that trickster jinns will always live up to their reputation…

This book was so wonderful and it was so great to see Pakistani culture and Muslim and Pakistani folklore in the story. From clothes to food everything was so familiar and I just loved it all. The descriptions of the food especially had me craving all of my favourites, especially gulab jamuns! I felt completely immersed in the world and just the small mentions of Ayat al Kursi and Eid celebrations it made my heart so happy!

If anyone says they work for passion or world peace and not the delicious food on their plate, they’re lying.

When I saw this story had jinns and set in Pakistan I knew I had to read it! It did not disappoint. We grow up with stories of jinns and how we each have our own Qareen that influences us to do some…not so great things and then I see how it’s so wonderfully woven into the story and how Nura and Faisal meet their Qareens and are tricked by them and then have to escape. It felt like my childhood stories come to life!

Not only is this story a magical adventure where a young girl is whisked off to the jinn world but through this there are discussions around child labour and exploitation of poor people which keeps the poor, poor and the rich get richer. I really loved how this is woven into the story without it being too heavy and it’s written in a way that young people can understand. I think these discussions are so important especially as it happens globally and so many people suffer as a result. How these people are pitted against each other so they don’t see who is truly causing their suffering.

The poor stay poor because the rich aren’t willing to spread their resources.

I loved the friendships in this book, between Nura and Faisal and how different they are to each other but how well they work together. How they deeply care for each other and go to great lengths to protect and help each other. It was also great to see how Nura slowly learns to work with others too that she initially finds difficult but as she learns she realises how everyone struggles in their own way.

I just loved Nura even though she was quite hot headed and always ready to fight, it felt real for a 12 year old who has had to grow up too quickly and been unfairly burdened by responsibilities that she shouldn’t have had to shoulder at such a young age. I loved how stubborn and resilient she was and yet it was also heart breaking to see her and the other children go through everything they had suffered and how it affected them.

I highly recommend everyone read this wonderful story!

Top 5 Wednesdays

Top 5 Wednesday – Heart Racing Reads

Here’s another top 5 Wednesday post for you all and today I will be sharing books that I read that had me on the edge of my seat the whole time and I just could not stop reading!

1 The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport – This book is a wild ride! I could not put it down once I started and was up far too late reading!

2 The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah – I absolutely devoured this book! It is non stop from the first page and I absolutely loved every single second!

3 A Darkness at the Door by Intisar Khanani – I just loved this book so much and could not stop reading once I started!

4 The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper – This book had me so stressed for the lives of these women especially as the stakes continued to get higher as the book progressed.

5 Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel – Knowing the story of Kaikeyi somewhat had me reading well into the night because I loved her in this and yet I knew it was not going to end well for her and I just had to continue reading to really know what happens.

I highly recommend all of these books, I read them all this year and every single one is a 5 star read!

Top 5 Wednesdays

Top 5 Wednesday – Current Obsession

Hey booknerds! So I’ve been kind of absent on my blog lately but I want to start posting again so I thought I would start off with sharing my 2022 obsessions!

I have some absolutely incredible books this year and some of them have imprinted themselves onto my heart and soul. They truly live in my head rent free and I need you all to go read them!

1 The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah – This book has my whole heart and filled the void of no more Daevabad stories. I absolutely adore the characters and I am already dying for the sequel! You can read my full review here

2 My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth – This book completely took me by surprise and I finally read a book with a character that has my name, a STEM girl at that! You can read my full review here

3 Little Thieves by Margaret Owen – I absolutely adore these chaotic characters, especially the dynamic between Emeric and Vanja and I cannot wait to read the sequel!

4 The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper – This book is incredible. Set in ancient Pompeii and follows the story of a group of women who have been sold into slavery and their fight for a better life. Truly heart breaking and I adore the women and how smart and resourceful they are. I loved seeing how each of them deal with their trauma so differently and how they fight for a better tomorrow.

5 The River of Silver by S.A. Chakraborty – Did you honestly think a Daevabad book wouldn’t make the list? I loved these stories so much and filled the void that nothing has been able to fill since the end of The Empire of Gold. The last story especially lives in my head rent free. You can read my full review here

So these are my 5! Share what books you’re currently obsessed with in the comments!

Adult Books, Diverse Books

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah – ARC Review

Thank you to Orbit Books and Netgalley for this arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Neither here nor there, but long ago…

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

This book has already become one of my favourite reads this year. I loved the story and the characters so much. 1001 Arabian Nights are some of my favourite stories and I loved how Chelsea wove those stories with her own twist into the main arc of the story. We see the story of Scheherazade and the Sultan, the 40 thieves and more and it just made me so nostalgic as I remembered reading them when I was younger and especially being told these stories in urdu by my grandparents.

The storytelling had me completely hooked and sucked into the story and I could truly imagine the story in my head as I read. The writing is beautiful and has such a great flow that you just want to continue reading even as your eyes are literally closing. (Yes this did happen to me several times as I read.)

These characters have my whole heart, Loulie and Mazen were such wonerful characters. So different from each other but they had such great chemistry together. Qadir fast became a favourite, he gave me tired dad chasing after his hyper daughter vibes with Loulie and I am here for it. I really loved seeing their relationship develop thoughout the story. Aisha was a surprise and even though I was wary about her, she still won me over. All four of them had some great banter and I especially loved when they were sassy and sarcastic with each other.

However my favourite thing was that Mazen was the single sunshine amongst this group of grumpy travellers. All he wants is to see the world and hear all the stories and somehow he gets dragged into this quest with Loulie and is completely out of his depth in every way but still perseveres. His older brother Omar is the leader of the 40 thieves and yet Mazen can barely swing a sword. It was an interesting contrast to see that between the brothers. When we first meet Mazen he is escaping the palace in search of a storyteller that has come to the city and that causes a domino effect where he ends up fighting ghouls in the desert with Loulie and the others. I loved his character development throughout the story and how we see him change and become braver, though I do think he is brave in a different way, and always the optimist that also showed the others that they were more than the labels given to them.

Loulie is a thief and con artist and very good at her job, so much so that she has created a persona for herself which quickly becomes famous and results in the sultan sending her on the quest. Her story arc was so heartbreaking to read and you can see why she does not trust people and only relies on herself but I loved seeing her slowly learn to trust the others as the story progresses.

Throughout the story through the events and the wonderful short stories within the story we learn of the history of the world and how and why the jinns are hunted and killed, this is lead by Omar  and his thieves. It was such an interesting backstory and honestly I could read a whole book about the jinns before they were almost exterminated by humans.

This book is fast paced and action packed we are thrown right into the story from the very beginning and we slowly learn more as the characters learn more. Once I got about halfway I could barely breathe because the revelations and the plot twists left me screaming! I was stressed and absolutely terrified for these characters, the neat death experiences one after the other and it did not stop until the very end. I absolutely need the next book immediately after that ending and I don’t know how I will wait a whole year for that sequel.

Musings of a Muslimah, Ramadan Readathon

Ramadan When You Have A Disability

I decided to write about what Ramadan is like for me for Ramadan Readathon as I am unable to fast because of my disability and chronic illness.

Ramadan holds a special place in my heart, especially in my 20s when I could truly appreciate it and all the blessings it holds. But my 20s were also when I started struggling with my health and was eventually diagnosed with a prolapsed disc, fibromyalgia and vertigo. It affected every single aspect of my life and continues to do so, though I have mostly learned to adjust and make accommodations. 

However, it became more and more difficult for me to be able to fast and it severely affected my health. I eventually had to stop fasting after speaking to both my imam and doctors about how it is affecting me and it was probably one of the most difficult things to come to terms with.  

Every Ramadan I feel like I am missing out on these blessings and rewards for those who fast. Every Ramadan I have to prepare myself when people “need” to know why I am not fasting. The looks of pity and sometimes even judgement, saying “I should just try.” 

It makes me think twice about going to the masjid or public gatherings and when I’m there my anxiety is in overdrive. Because not only am I not fasting, but I also require a chair to sit as sitting on the floor causes my legs to go numb. But I don’t look disabled so I will always have to justify myself. I think there is only one masjid I’ve been to where I have actually felt welcome and that has truly made such a huge difference in my life.  

But it’s been a few years now that I haven’t been fasting and I’ve mostly come to terms with it. I know that Allah will reward me because it isn’t my fault that I cannot fast and that not fasting has allowed me to be able to function during the day as I can take my medication and manage my pain. It means I am able to pray taraweeh and stay up at night for ibadah. It means I can focus on my salah and Quran because I am not dying from pain and it also means that I am able to make iftar for my husband and get the rewards for feeding a fasting person.   

Seeing all the blessings that Allah has given me and the ability to still be able to complete other acts of worship and focus on that instead of the one thing I can no longer do has helped me to come to terms with this and still be able to make the most of this month. Having people in my life I can talk to about this has also been really helpful because sometimes I feel frustrated but after speaking to someone I love about it, I can see a different perspective and also just get it off my chest. Just being able to sit and ask Allah for help and turn to him especially when I am having a bad pain day just brings me sukoon and contentment. I know I will be okay. 

Obviously I still have good and bad days, days when I am more productive and days when I need to rest more (generally the day after I have cooked I need more rest as that takes a lot of spoons). So I know to manage my days accordingly. On days when I am not able to stand up and pray taraweeh I will sit and read Quran even if it’s from my phone because the joint pain in my hands are bad. If I can barely sit up I will watch a lecture or listen to Quran, do some dhikr to make the most of my time. I can still sometimes over do it but I am learning and alhamdulillah I am very lucky that it’s just me and my husband, he is very supportive and helps me with my pain management. If I’ve had a bad few days and there isn’t really any food for iftar, he will open his fast at the masjid and then bring home something for me to eat too.  

It’s been a big learning curve for me but alhamdulillah I am trying to make the most of Ramadan even if I can’t fast. It can be a lonely experience which is why I decided to write about mine and maybe someone else will read it and not feel like it’s only them, all alone. 

You can find more Ramadan Readathon content over on the Blog, Instagram and Twitter