Diverse Books, Middle Grade Books

Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found by Aisha Bushby

I really loved this story and the wonderful characters.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Sahar Peninsula lies just beyond the horizon, but it isn’t the easiest place to get to. No maps will take you there, nor can it be charted by gazing up at the stars, or down at a compass…

Twelve year old Amira has only ever known a life at sea with her sea-witch mothers. So when their ship is wrecked in a great storm, Amira is delighted to have an opportunity to explore land – accompanied by her best friend Namur – a jinn in cat form. Amira soon finds a boy who has a jinn like her, and learns that their spirit companions are connected to the mysterious storm that gets stronger each day.

When Namur goes missing Amira discovers she has to visit a magical place; a place where lost things can be found. But will Amira also discover her own destiny, and find out what it truly means to be a Moonchild?

I was told this was a middle grade story inspired by Arabian Nights and a sea adventure and I was sold! This book did not disappoint! This is such a wonderful story of friendship and learning to express yourself and so much more. The world is so wonderfully written and I could really imagine all the places Amira travelled to and lived. The storytelling is so great, I was completely hooked from the beginning and just could not put it down.

I loved Amira and her sense of adventure and especially her relationship with her jinni, Namur, who takes the form of a cat. I have a cat that I love to pieces and their relationship was so special to me, I felt Amira’s fear of losing him especially in that first scene on their boat. Amira’s determination to find Namur when he goes missing was so heart warming and truly showed the love between them.

I also loved how Amira made friends even though she isn’t always the best at talking to others. Their bond and the way they supported and helped each other, they each had their own strengths and weaknesses and they worked well together. I loved how Aisha showed that children are different and that no one type of person is better than the other and everyone is valuable and able to make a difference. It was also great to see actual loving parents in the book and also see different types of parents and that every family is different.

I loved the magic and the mythical creatures we see in the book and how we get interludes with their own story but it also adds to the main story. I really loved it and didn’t feel it distracted from the main story.

But the thing I loved most was how Aisha shows through the characters how to manage your emotions. It was just such a wonderful thing to see in the book and written so beautifully that it wasn’t preachy but woven seamlessly into the story.

Truly this book is one that all kids should read. I am really looking forward to reading the next book especially after that ending!

Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Middle Grade Books, Muslim Shelf Space

Aladdin: Far From Agrabah by Aisha Saeed – Book Review

I loved this story so much and it gave so much more depth to Aladdin and Jasmine and their relationship.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This stunning original novel will tell an all-new story set in the world of the new film, featuring Aladdin and Jasmine. A magic carpet ride full of adventure, suspense, and wonder written by New York Times best-selling author Aisha Saeed, this story will be a must-read for any Aladdin fans who find themselves drawn into and enchanted by the magical world of Agrabah and beyond. 

I listened to the audiobook and I really loved it. The narrator kept me hooked on the story and it was just a great story to listen to while I worked.

The story takes place while Aladdin takes Jasmine on the magic carpet ride and he takes her to his kingdom. Genie creates this kingdom for Aladdin to last as long as they are there with people created from Aladdin’s memories. I really loved getting this glimpse into Aladdin and Jasmine and their backstory.

During the time there Aladdin meets his people and hears their problems and Jasmine joins him. I really loved seeing that Aladdin treats her as an equal and listens to and takes her advice. They work together to help those in need and it was really great to see them in this position. To see what type of leader they would make and how capable Jasmine is despite the men in power keeping her from doing anything for her people. We see how much she cares for her people and how much she wants to do and just how smart and resourceful she is.

We also see how Aladdin is kind and generous and wants better for his people too. We also get to see them both build a stronger relationship with each other as they learn more about each other and see what type of people they really are. I really loved that we get to see them build an actual foundation for their relationship. This is where Aladdin realises he does love Jasmine and we see him battle his moral dilemma of lying to her about who he is. We also see Jasmine start to realise that maybe Ali and Aladdin are the same people and yet she still trusts him.

This was a wonderful story where we get to see more of Aladdin and Jasmine and I loved it. I especially recommend listening to the audiobook as it creates an even more magical experience.

Book Reviews, Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Middle Grade Books, Muslim Shelf Space

The Hour of the Oryx by Farah Zaman – ARC Review

Thank you to the author for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The title of this book sounded really intriguing and I loved seeing young Muslim characters in a mystery type book.


Rating: 4/5


It all began with a mysterious book. One day it was found and by night it was gone. Who stole it and why? A trail of blood is the only clue left behind.
Adam Horani, his sister Layla and their friends Zaid and Zahra, are frequent visitors at the Dar-as-Sakinah Orphanage. When they set out to investigate a shocking murder, the teenagers soon realize there’s more to the mystery than meets the eye. From the disturbing sketch of a mute boy to the chilling discovery in the underground vaults, they’re stunned at the villainy coming to light.
Determined to see that justice is served, the teenagers leave no stone unturned in their search for the truth. As the forces of evil cooks up a macabre plot, a deadly clash looms on the horizon. Will the young sleuths emerge victorious? Or are they on a collision course with disaster?
The Hour of the Oryx is the exciting third book in The Moon of Masarrah Series.

This is the third book in a series called The Moon of Masarrah however each book can be read as a standalone too. I hadn’t read the first two books when I started this and everything still made sense to me.

One of the first things I thought when I started this book was that it reminded me of the Famous Five and Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton and they were some of my favourite childhood books so I knew I would love this book too! Of course this is set in the present and is much more diverse with the main characters all being young Muslim teens.

I loved how Farah wrote the Muslim characters and wove their faith into the story and it was just…normal…the main focus of the story is the mystery they are solving but the references to Islam were wonderful to see. The teens would say lets meet up after praying, for example, just casual as if it’s the norm and my heart felt it would burst with joy! Imagine I had been able to see that in the famous five type books I loved as a kid?!

The mystery that the teens were solving was really interesting. It involved black magic and jinns and folklore which also meant it was quite dark at times too. In fact the story starts with a murder, which is what the group of friends end up deciding to solve. They meet some really great characters who help them solve the mystery. I really loved seeing how different each of the characters were yet they were all accepted and no one judged them for their weaknesses.

I loved seeing young characters who were comfortable in their faith and there was no tension of being judgemental towards each other. They were kind and compassionate and wanted to help the friends they made at the orphanage. They stood up to bullies and they even helped with the daily activities without protest from cleaning to cooking and generally helping out at the orphanage.

Each of the people they suspected was also in a position of power so it was interesting how they had to navigate around all of that and also that they couldn’t trust any of the adults. They each had their own secrets and to solve the murder they had to find out each of their secrets.

The setting was also really interesting as it was set in orphanage where children from war torn countries were living so we also get a glimpse into what it is like for those children who are often forgotten. We see how their trauma affects them and that they each react and deal with it differently. One of the young boys they meet hasn’t spoken since he was sent to the orphanage and he communicates with hand gestures and his art. A lot of important discussions around refugees and the trauma of these children was included in the book but it was never too heavy yet still heart breaking to read.

If you like mysteries and want to read something more diverse than things like famous five or Nancy Drew then I highly recommend this series. It’s fun and spooky and it will keep you hooked until the very end!

Booksish Discussions, Reflections

What Made Me A Reader – World Book Day 2020

Was there a book you remember reading that made you the bookworm that you are now? I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. But I remember that reading The Magic Faraway Tree was what cemented my love for reading. I read that book so many times that I can still remember parts of the book and the illustrations even though I haven’t looked at the book in years.

I remember my parents taking all 5 of us sisters to the library every Saturday morning and me basically just spending hours there reading and finding new books to fall in love with. I found so many of my favourite childhood books in the library. From The Secret Seven, Artemis Fowl, Alex Rider, Cirque Du Freak and so much more. All 5 of us sisters are readers now because of how much time we spent around books.

Our parents are also readers so that I also helped us to become readers as books were always part of our life. Our parents books filled our house and my parents house has bookcases upon bookcases in every room and we still moved our parents older books in the attic as they don’t read as much now as they used to so we could make space for our books.

As all 5 of us were readers and have similar tastes in books we would discuss books together and especially us 3 older ones as teens would all fight over who would get to read the single copy our dad bought us first. I won because I am the oldest (it’s one of the few privileges the eldest has and I took full advantage). We fangirled about Harry Potter in our teens and discussed theories and had heated debates about our favourite characters.

Even now as we all read similar books we will still stay up late discussing and arguing about books and have all the bookish discussions. It’s like having our own book club. We also recommend (read: force) each other to read our favourite books so we can discuss it with them and we go to book events together and YALC too.

I know that for me being surrounded by books and growing up having my sisters to discuss books with has made me the reader that I am.

Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Middle Grade Books, Muslim Shelf Space

The Arabic Quilt by Aya Khalil – ARC Review

I was sent a copy of an ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely adored this picture book! It is such a wonderful story and has beautiful illustrations!


Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

That night, Kanzi wraps herself in the beautiful Arabic quilt her teita (grandma) in Cairo gave her and writes a poem in Arabic about the quilt. Next day her teacher sees the poem and gets the entire class excited about creating a “quilt” (a paper collage) of student names in Arabic. In the end, Kanzi’s most treasured reminder of her old home provides a pathway for acceptance in her new one.

This is a book I wish I had when I was young and I will definitely be giving this book to all my friends and family with young kids. Especially with everything happening in the world today, these type of books are so needed. It shows how being “different” doesn’t make you any less than the majority.

This book showed how people come from different cultures and that being around people from lots of different cultures can be so beautiful because you get to experience so much more. The diversity gives people the chance to be more open minded and they can learn about different traditions, food, clothes, languages and so much more. Egyptian culture from the way they are at home to the food they eat and so much more is woven into the story as the norm for Kanzi and it was so wonderful to see!

It also showed how kids from ethnic minorities can feel nervous about being “too different” and not fitting in or being accepted and that if we were more inclusive it would make everyone feel comfortable and safe. Aya showed how Kanzi is made fun of because she speaks a different language and her food is different from what is considered the norm at lunch and how it made her feel.

It’s so important for kids to see this how it isn’t okay to make others feel like this because it is different from your normal. Being bilingual is amazing and I know that in my effort to fit in I didn’t learn my mother tongue as well as I could have and I do regret it now. So it was really lovely to see that aspect in the book where Kanzi is taught to be proud of her mother tongue and heritage as it is a part of her.

In the story we see how one particular girl is dismissive and somewhat condescending in how she treats Kanzi and we find out she learnt these opinions from her mum and I thought it was a really great thing to include as kids really do learn and form opinions based on what they see their parents doing. It was really great to see that once she learns more about Kanzi and spends time with her she changes and learns to treat her better.

I just love how much kids can learn from this book and still enjoy a wonderful diverse story of a young girl that many kids from ethnic minorities will easily relate to.

This book is a wonderful story and uses something that all kids will understand, a blanket to build bridges between the kids and show that no matter what culture or background you come from you are all valid and equal. That different cultures actually enrich our lives and introduce us to so much that we wouldn’t see otherwise.

I highly recommend everyone reading this book to the kids in their lives. Plus the illustrations are so wonderful too.