Book Recommendations, Booksish Discussions, Muslim Shelf Space

Why I Love the Disability Representation in The Theft of Sunlight Duology

The Theft of Sunlight and its sequel, A Darkness at the Door by Intisar Khanani has some of my favourite disability rep. It made me feel so seen and I was literally sobbing at how wonderful the rep is. This is a book I think everyone should read for so many reasons and it will always hold a special place in my heart because of the incredible disability rep.

These books mean so much to me not only because being Pakistani and seeing a desi inspired magical world with brown characters but also because the main character has a physical disability and the representation was so well done and made me feel so seen. As someone who has a disability that affects my mobility it was so refreshing to see a young woman who has similar issues but this isn’t her whole personality nor is it tokenised. 

She fights injustices that she sees and while her mobility may limit her in some things she adapts and continues the fight. She is constantly underestimated because people only see her disability but she proves time and time again through her actions and the person she is that she is more than capable. 

I also loved seeing that Bren accepted her completely and entirely as she is and didn’t for even one second think less of her or pity her because of her disability. I think it’s so important for people with disabilities to see that. To be reminded that they are enough the way they are and they don’t need to hide or minimise themselves to fit in or be loved. That they are deserving of love just the way they are. That Bren supported her and when he overstepped, she told him and he realised and fixed himself and did not take it out on her that she should be grateful and appreciative of receiving any help at all. 

We also see how she is defensive and has walls up to protect herself because of how people have treated her so it is difficult to accept help and see that some people are truly just trying to help her. We see how this has affected her relationships with people and that she struggles to trust and open up to people but as she meets people who truly have her back she slowly starts to break down those walls and open up to people more. I related to this a lot as it’s so tiring to have to deal with people who demand answers about why I use a walking stick or say things like, but you’re so young you shouldn’t need a stick. It is easier to just not let new people in but it does get lonely and I saw that in Rae too. 

Rae has to walk and run a lot because of what is happening in the books and because of this it causes her pain in her foot. Her chronic pain tires her quicker and slows her down and it makes her frustrated and angry at herself and I loved seeing that part of her in the books too. Having chronic pain is exhausting and yes we do get tired much more quickly than an able bodied person. It is frustrating for us and affects us emotionally and mentally and seeing this in the book just made Rae more realistic and relatable. 

But I also loved seeing how Bren and the others helped her through these times and didn’t make her feel less because of it. One scene where Bren quietly asked her if it would be more helpful to stand on her other side so she could hold onto his arm and just supported her in a way that she needed. These a tiny details in the story but for me they stood out so starkly because we don’t get to see this in books or even in real life and it was so wonderful to see these small instances in just the way Bren cared for her without expecting her anything in return. 

Then we get the scene on the rooftop in Darkness that has been seared into my memory because of just how much I absolutely loved it and I will forever be thankful to Intisar for giving me and all of us Rae and Bren. 

This duology is so incredible in so many ways and made me feel seen in ways I had never felt seen before and these books will forever hold a special place in my heart. 

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.