Book Recommendations, Booksish Discussions, Muslim Shelf Space

Why You Should Read We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Free the Stars is finally out today and if you haven’t read We Hunt the Flame yet and need some incentive then here are some reasons why you should absolutely pick up this duology! So here are some reasons as to why you absolutely NEED to pick up these books!

The World That Hafsah Has Created

This is an ancient Arabia inspired world and the world building is incredible. We are completely immersed in the world right from the beginning. The intricate details makes you feel like you’re standing right there with the characters. I love that feeling because it will make you feel everything so much more deeply and vividly. The smells and tastes and feeling the heat and the sand. It created an incredible experience when reading.

The Character Arcs

The character development for the characters over the two books was incredible. Our two main characters have such wonderful growth, learning to see that they are more than what they have been made into and I really loved reading their journey. Zafira is a hunter and has been singlehandedly keeping her whole village fed despite their opinions on women and it was so wonderful to see her work through her own self worth and how powerful she is. Nasir has known only pain and killing and his journey was really difficult but seeing him slowly realise he can be more, he can love and be loved was so incredible to see. Altair is my absolute favourite and I am so happy that we got to see more of him and his journey in the books too. He has a painful journey and is full of secrets so we slowly learn more about him and trust me you will fall more and more in love with him with each revelation.

Enemies to Lovers Trope

If you’re a fan of enemies to lovers then you will love this book. The tension and angst and the slow build up will leave you screaming for more. The way they start off by literally trying to kill each other and slowly learn to work together despite their differences. The tentative way they begin to trust each other when they haven’t been able to trust anyone else in this way. It’s pure perfection. Also We Free the Stars takes the sexual tension and turns it full and I was LIVING for their every single interaction.

Zafira is a Feminist Icon

She alone is able to go into the forest in search of food and keep her village alive and avoiding starvation but she has to hide who she truly is because a woman is not worth anything in her caliphate. Everyone thinks the famed hunter is a man and she has kept it this way to help her people. But as she is leaving she reveals who she truly is and vows to show them what a woman can do. The courage and strength we see from her time and time again showing everyone that women are more than capable of achieving great things. She also goes through her own journey of learning who she is and what she is truly capable of no matter what men claim about women. I loved how Hafsah wove this all into the story.

The Banter and Friendship the Zumra Have Together

I loved seeing the banter between the zumra. The sassy remarks they make at each other and how they have light moments despite being in such perilous situations. Altair and Zafira are really sarcastic with each other and I loved seeing it. I love seeing how close they get during their journey even though they start out not trusting each other.

Hafsah’s Beautiful Writing

Hafsah has such a way with words. Her writing is lyrical and lush and I found myself tabbing away at the beautiful quotes in these books. The writing is vivid and descriptive and will evoke so much emotion while you are reading.

I will leave you with some of my favourite quotes from We Hunt the Flame:

“If I told you my name, would you bow?” His voice was soft. A melancholy caress. He lifted his chin when understanding dawned on her face. “Or would you flee?”

Together, we will raise the dunes from the earth, and rain death from the sky. Together, we are capable of anything.

A life without purpose may be no life, but a life without love is nothing but an existence.

There was nothing more respectable and dangerous than a woman of confidence.

Everyone go read We Hunt the Flame and then pick up We Free the Stars because this duology is incredible and deserves all the love.

Disclaimer: Please note I am not responsible for the emotional mess that this duology will leave you in.

Booksish Discussions, Muslim Shelf Space

Muslim Shelf Space Books Releasing in 2021 I’m Excited For

2020 has been one hell of a year but somehow we’re almost to the end of this year. While this year has sucked in many ways I have read some absolutely incredible books and there are some amazing books coming out next year that I am so excited for! So here is my list of books by Muslim authors that I am so excited for!

City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda January 12th

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal January 19th

The Khan by Saima Mir March 4th

Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani March 4th

The Muslim Problem: Why we’re wrong about Islam and why it matters by Tawseef Khan March 4th

Rumaysa by Radiya Hafiza April 1st

Amina’s Song by Hena Khan April 15th

Counting down with you by Tashie Bhuiyan May 4th

Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali May 25th

Diana and the Underworld Odyssey by Aisha Saeed May 25th

Hani and Ishu’s guide to fake dating by Adiba Jaigirdar May 27th

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin June 3rd

Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Iyimide June 10th

The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad August 3rd

Journey to the Heart of the Abyss by London Shah October

Daevabad Short Stories by S.A. Chakraborty fall

If you know of any others do let me know! I obviously need to add books to my tbr.

Book Recommendations, Booksish Discussions, Muslim Shelf Space

Why You Should Read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

A Sky Beyond the Storm is finally out! We can finally find out how this incredible series will end and what will be the fate of Laia, Elias and Helene. But if you haven’t read these books yet and are unsure if you want to read them then here are some reasons as to why you should read them!

Incredible Storytelling Which Will Leave you an Emotional Mess

Sabaa’s writing is incredible and vivid and will leave you completely enthralled in the story. We initially see the world from Elias and Laia’s point of view and then Helene’s in the later books. Through them we see such a contrasting world view and we experience what they experience because her writing is so good that you will feel like you are right there with the characters. The fear that Laia feels is palpable, the anguish of Elias and the ruthless determination of Helene, we feel it alongside them. This does however mean that you will be left an emotional mess and fear for the lives of your favourite characters because Sabaa has created a brutal and ruthless world.

Incredible Immersive World Building

Not only is Sabaa’s storytelling incredible but so is her world building. You may think this is a world inspired by ancient Rome but then you hear about ghouls and jinns and it makes you think twice. As we read on we realise that there is also an Asian/Middle Eastern influence too. That the Empire might be inspired by ancient Rome but the Scholars and Tribes have an eastern influence and it creates a rich, diverse world. As the story in each book progresses we travel outside of Serra and see more of the world and we get an idea of just how vast the world is and that there is so much more we can explore. Sabaa’s writing is so immersive that we feel as though we are right there with the characters and experience what they experience. We see how they see the world and it’s as though we can almost touch, see and taste everything.

Complex Characters that Grow in Each Book

In Ember we get Elias and Laia’s point of view so we see the world from two vastly different perspectives. Elias is an elite warrior and assassin who wants to be free from all the killing whereas Laia is a slave and living in fear for her life after watching her grandparents get murdered and brother sent to prison. Yet they both grow so much throughout the book and Laia especially is my favourite character because she is so complex and her growth was incredible to read from the scared young woman to a resistance fighter and leader.

Important Discussions of Colonisation and Oppression

This book does not shy away from the way that people who are oppressed and enslaved and their land colonised are treated by the oppressors. We see the brutality with how they are treated, there are discussions of mutilation, rape and more and how these are justified because the Empire doesn’t even consider them to be human and are inferior in every way so it is fine. That the women are their property so they can do whatever they want to them. It is often horrifying and difficult to read but it is an important discussion to have. The Scholars way of life is completely eradicated and they aren’t even allowed to learn to read or write to keep them in a state of submission. Parallels with our history and even what is happening in the world right now and things that should be discussed.

A Story of Hope

Despite the brutal, ruthless world that Sabaa created there is hope. Hope that things will change, hope that this isn’t always going to be the reality for those oppressed. There will be justice and that these characters are going to bring about change. It’s something we can all relate to. It’s something we all need to believe in to get through difficult times and we can see the characters going through the same but holding on to hope to keep going. To keep fighting for a better world.

This is an incredible series and with the final book finally here it is the perfect time to pick these books up!

Here are my review for the first three books if you need further convincing:

An Ember in the Ashes

A Torch Against the Night

A Reaper at the Gates

Book Recommendations, Booksish Discussions

Books With Beautiful Book Covers That Deserve More Love

Another week into The Empire of Gold Readalong and this weeks prompt for the photo challenge is books with beautiful covers so I’m sharing some books with stunning covers that deserve more love!

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed – I completely fell in love with this beautiful cover and the story is just as beautiful. My review is here

Enchantee by Gita Trelease – The cover intrigued me and once you read the book you pick up on lots of details on the cover relating to the story too! My review is here

Thorn by Intisar Khanani – This cover is so beautiful and gave me Moroccan vibes which instantly had me interested. My review is here

Once Upon an Eid edited by SK Ali & Aisha Saeed – This cover is just so beautiful and full of joy I love it so much. My review is here

There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool – I had no idea what this book was about but I decided to read it because of the striking cover! My review is here

The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah – Put a hijabi on the cover and you have my instant attention and this story was a beautiful read. My review is here

What books do you love with beautiful book covers?

Book Recommendations, Booksish Discussions

Books Featuring Cats in the Story – National Cat Day

Today is National Cat Day and if you know me then you know how much I love my cat, Sherlock. So here is a post dedicated to that diva and some of my favourite books with cats in the story. I always love seeing cats in stories they often become some of my favourite aspects of the story.

If you are like me and love seeing cats in the story then here are some recommendations:

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes – A found family, space heists and psychic space cats!

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa – A beautiful story of a journey between a man and his cat.

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare – Jem adopts Church the cat and he appears in several of the series.

If Cats Disappeared From the World Genki Kawamura – This was an interesting story with lots to think about.

The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan – While Bast is technically an Egyptian God she takes the form of a cat and is the guardian of the MCs.

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty – Technically Mishmish is a Shedu but he’s basically a bif cat wings so it counts, right?

Diana and the Island of No Return by Aisha Saeed – Diana’s best friend, Sakina has a snow leopard which in my opinion counts as a cat.

Jinxed by Amy McCulloch – A book where the MC has a baku which is essentially a AI in the form of a cat. Sassy and clever I loved him.

Moonchild by Aisha Bushby – A MG Arabian Nights retelling with a jinn companion who takes the form of a cat

Do tell me what books you loved with cats in the stories! I’m always looking for more recommendations!