Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Muslim Shelf Space, YA Books

All The Things We Never Said By Yasmin Rahman – ARC Review

Thank you to Hot Key Books and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I first read Yasmin’s short story in A Change is Gonna Come and really loved it so I was really looking forward to reading her debut book. So I knew as soon as I heard about this book that I would love it and it did not disappoint!

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Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

16-year-old Mehreen Miah’s anxiety and depression, or ‘Chaos’, as she calls it, has taken over her life, to the point where she can’t bear it any more. So she joins MementoMori, a website that matches people with partners and allocates them a date and method of death, ‘the pact’. Mehreen is paired with Cara Saunders and Olivia Castleton, two strangers dealing with their own serious issues.
As they secretly meet over the coming days, Mehreen develops a strong bond with Cara and Olivia, the only people who seem to understand what she’s going through. But ironically, the thing that brought them together to commit suicide has also created a mutually supportive friendship that makes them realise that, with the right help, life is worth living. It’s not long before all three want out of the pact. But in a terrifying twist of fate, the website won’t let them stop, and an increasingly sinister game begins, with MementoMori playing the girls off against each other.
A pact is a pact, after all.

This book had me sobbing by the end of the first chapter. I had never read a story where the mental health rep so completely accurate to mine and reading it felt like I had finally been seen, that someone else really understood everything that goes through my head. I have related to other characters in other books but there has never been a rep where the characters religious beliefs also influences how they feel. This book finally incorporated all aspects of my life.

I wish I had this book as a teenager when I felt that I was alone and didn’t understand why I felt this way. I even read the first chapter out loud to my husband because through Mehreen I was able to explain how it feels and how difficult it can become to manage. It’s safe to say that he was pretty shocked yet it really helped him to understand. So I hope that this book helps a lot more people too.

The book has three points of view but it is easy to distinguish between them as they each have distinct voices and personalities. All three girls are struggling yet when they meet each other, even they cannot understand why the others would want to commit suicide and I thought it was so important to see that. That just by looking at someone, even if they are smiling and laughing, they could still be drowning inside. They could still be struggling to cope with everything that is happening in their life. So it’s important not to dismiss someone, just because they look okay.

Another important theme throughout the book was friendship. How having true, understanding friends, who don’t judge you can help you get through your worst times and even save your life. Having friends that you can open up to about your mental health and they will be there for you. That’s the friendship that they found in each other, when they felt that they couldn’t speak to anyone about how they were feeling, and what made them realise that actually they want to live. There does however need to be a balance, that although friends can help you a lot it is still important to seek professional help.

Mehreen is such a wonderful character, she’s unapologetically, unflinchingly Muslim. We see her pray and talk about how that helps her, we even get a scene where the girls go out for a meal and they find somewhere halal so Mehreen can eat and I loved that Cara and Olivia were so understanding and accepting of it. I know how you can feel so left out if you’re the only Muslim in the group. But one of my favourite things that Yasmin spoke about is something that is SO IMPORTANT when speaking about mental health and especially suicide in Muslim communities. That Mehreen did not commit suicide because of her love for Allah, and that takes strength.

This is a raw, honest, heart breaking story yet it also has hope that we see as the story progresses. I absolutely loved this book and I wish I had this book as a teenager and I really think that everyone should read this book.

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

Ayesha Dean – Istanbul Intrigue by Melati Lum – Book Review

I first read this book last year and I really enjoyed it. So when I was lucky enough to become part of the street team for the next Ayesha Dean book I decided to reread this to refresh my memory before reading the arc of the new book.

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Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Ayesha and her friends Sara and Jess jump at the chance of accompanying Ayesha’s uncle on a trip from Australia to Istanbul. But when Ayesha discovers a mysterious note as a result of visiting an old bookshop, their relaxing holiday starts to get a whole lot more complicated! Ayesha finds herself trying to uncover a hundred-year-old Ibn Arabi mystery, while trying to avoid creepy villains, and still making sure that she gets to eat the best doner kebab Istanbul has to offer. It’s all in a day’s sleuthing when you’re Ayesha Dean. Lucky she can count on her best friends to always have her back!

This book was such a fun read! I really loved the mystery and intrigue, there’s plenty of plot twists that kept me interested and trying to figure out the secrets until the end. It’s a really great detective mystery type book and reminded me of Nancy Drew.

One of my favourite things about the book was how well fleshed out Ayesha was as a character. She is a smart, resourceful, brave person. She knows what she wants and she is always curious about everything. Once she picks up a mystery she has to follow through until she solved it! She is also a badass! At the very beginning we see her take down a man who was running from airport security after stealing something and even throughout the book when things start to get a little scary, she doesn’t back down. She remains calm and is quick thinker which helps to save her life and catch the bad guys at the end!

I also love her friendship with Sara and Jess and how close they are with each other. They have fun and support and care for each other and it was so nice to see that in a book. I don’t get to see lots of great female friendships in stories. I also loved how she has such a good relationship with her uncle and that they actually talk about everything. She is open and honest with him and he trusts her judgement.

I loved seeing the great Muslim rep throughout the story from Ayesha wearing a hijab to the adhaan being heard to the rich Islamic history we are told throughout the book. I really loved how she wore her hijab in different styles and that she was always dressed stylishly. I related to this so much because I love matching my hijab to my clothes and making sure my hijab looks nice and smart. Especially when I was 18!

The story is also set in Istanbul so we get to see the culture of the Muslims there and how they live. I loved seeing how friendly and open many people that Ayesha interacts with are. It reminded me of the lovely community feel that we often experience I Muslim countries. I felt like I was with Ayesha and her friends as they visited the tourist sites and I always ended up craving the food they ate! I could see how much research Melati did about Turkey.

If you enjoy detective stories then this is a really great read. It’s fun, fast paced and has a really interesting and unique mystery that Ayesha discovers! I’m really looking forward to reading her next story!

Fiction Books, YA Books

The Disasters by M.K. England – Book Review

I saw this book on social media and the cover was so pretty so I was instantly drawn to the book and I just had to read it! I really loved the book and read it over two evenings because I just couldn’t put it down!

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Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.
But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.
On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.
They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

This book surprised me but in a good way! I honestly had no idea what to expect going into it but I loved it so much! What I was most surprised about was that there was Muslim characters! Nax, the main character is a Muslim and Pakistani. Another main character, Asra is also Muslim and Bengali. Can I just say how much I loved the Muslim rep! I also adored the way Pakistani and Bengali culture was incorporated into the story without it seeming like it was forced. Mentions of women in salwar kameez and that there’s halal food places and that shops close at prayer times. I loved it!

Nax calls his mum, ammi and talks about Eid and speaking Pashto. Asra wears a hijab! Seeing a hijabi in a science fiction book made me so happy! The adhaan (call to prayer) is mentioned and Asra prays her five daily prayers and it was incorporated so well into the story! I loved her mention how it’s difficult to figure out prayer times in space. It made me giggle and then spend several minutes trying to figure out how exactly that would work!

“Asra snorts. ‘Try figuring out how to pray at the right times. Fortunately, there’s an app for that.’”

It was so nice seeing a Muslim wearing a hijab character praying like it’s just part of her normal routine and a part of her life but that it doesn’t define her. I also loved that Nax may not pray but it doesn’t mean Asra looks down on him or vice versa. They get along really well and it was so refreshing to see that. I’m sick of seeing Muslims who pray portrayed as condescending and judgemental.

There is also really great mental health rep in the book. Case and Nax both have anxiety and it does affect them. Even in vital moments when they are under pressure, they suffer from panic attacks. Which made it more realistic for me. That they are affected by it and they know it does, they don’t try to hide it but that they don’t allow it to define them. I also loved how supportive the other characters were when they had a panic attack. There is also LGBT rep in this book and I thought it was done well. Nax is bisexual and Zee is transgender. There’s some discussion about the discrimination that Zee faces and I really liked that Nax was supportive.

Okay so I know I spent ages talking about the great rep that was in the book but I don’t often get to see good Muslim/South Asian rep in science fiction books. I wish there was more!

The story is such a fun read despite the darker themes in the book. It’s action packed and a really fast paced read. It kept me reading well into the night because I just wanted to read one more chapter. We are told the story from Nax’s point of view and I do wish we could have seen the other characters point of view too. I think it would have helped to develop the other characters too.

I really loved that all three female characters were smart and independent. Asra is a genius hacker, Zee is a great medic and actual badass and Case is, well an all round genius. Asra and Zee were my favourite characters and I wish we got to see more of them. I loved how much they all grew throughout the story and how each of the five characters grew closer together and learned to work with each other despite their differences.

If you enjoy fun sci-fi books with lots of action then I definitely recommend this book!

Fiction Books, YA Books

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan – ARC Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Okay so female empowerment books are either a love or hate type of books for me so I was a little wary of reading this, but it far exceeded my expectations! I absolutely loved this book!

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Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women’s Rights Club. They post everything online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine’s response to the racial macroaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral. But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by online trolls. When things escalate, the principal shuts the club down. Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices—and those of other young women—to be heard.

I cannot explain how many emotions I went through reading this book, I was so pumped and excited and so mad at some things that happened, and I cried and laughed. Basically this book will leave you an emotional mess, but I loved it! One of the things I loved about this book was that it dealt with intersectional feminism. The main issue I have with feminist books is that being a South Asian Muslim woman, I don’t feel like it represents me and I can’t often relate to it. So reading this book was refreshing as I felt connected and I related to so many things they spoke about!

This book deals with sexism, racism, fatphobia, racism, slut shaming, sexual harassment and ableism to name a few. And I felt that they were portrayed realistically and I loved how they were handled. It deals with serious and heavy topics but it never felt like it was too much for me because the way the book is written makes it easier to take in everything. There are blog posts, playlists, and poetry written by both Chelsea, Jasmine and Nadine and artwork drawn by Isaac. I loved that these were included as it makes it more relatable to teens and young adults. They also spoke about real women throughout history and I loved that they were included and that they were from different cultures and backgrounds and from a wide range of fields. It was so inclusive and I wish that more books included women from different cultures.

I adored the friendship between Jasmine and Chelsea, they have such a wonderful friendship and it was realistic and not like a perfect friendship. They are supportive and help each other but they do sometimes take things for granted. For example, Chelsea has t-shirts made but doesn’t take into account that Jasmine will not be able to wear the sizes she buys as Jasmine needs plus size. I liked how Jasmine spoke to her about it and how it made her feel and that Chelsea realised her mistake. Both Jasmine and Chelsea have a lot to deal with outside of fighting for women’s rights and it really made their characters fully fleshed out.

The two girls start their own club in school because of the way they are treated in the clubs they are previously in. Jasmine has to deal with fat shaming and racism and Chelsea is sick of the only poetry being discussed is written by white men. They have to overcome many obstacles to be allowed to continue their club including having to deal with their principal who doesn’t really understand what they are trying to achieve and has quite misogynistic views despite being in charge of a school known for social justice. It was really great to see them grow and develop and realise the mistake they made in trying to get their point across and learnt to express themselves in a better way. I also loved the adults. especially women, who helped them and supported them in what they were trying to achieve.

There was so many moments in this book that I had to highlight as they discussed such important things that are relevant to today’s society and I really liked how well explained everything was so that even if you aren’t familiar with the topic of intersectional feminism it’s easy to understand. I highly recommend this book and hope you find it as enlightening and beneficial as I did.

It will be released on February 21st so it’s not long until you can get your hands on the book!

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Favourite Couples in Books

Hey booknerds! I’m taking part in another week of Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. You can find more information here

This weeks post is about my favourite couples in books.

I have so many ships. Characters that I have been rooting for since I first met them so it was pretty hard to narrow it down to 10 but here are some of my favourite ships!

1 Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter – I will go down with this ship! Although I ship book Romione than the film version. They were one of my first ships and I still love them!

2 Samirah and Amir from Magnus Chase – They are my OTP! I have never seen a cuter couple. I love how much they support each other and Amir is just adorable! I want a book based on them please!

3 Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice – gahhh I love these two so much! my favourite classic and one had me screaming for them to admit their feelings

4 Percy and Annabeth from Percy Jackson – They are my favourite friendship to lovers. Their relationship develops over so many years and I love it so much!

5 Cress and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles – They seem like opposites, but I loved how they made each other better.

6 Will and Tessa from TID – This is the one time I was rooting for both Will and Jem but I feel like Will and Tessa were better as a couple. Both are bookworms and they are so great together!

7 Ayesha and Khalid from Ayesha at Last – So much second hand embarrassment in this book that by the end I was dying in anticipation for them to admit their feelings for each other.

8 Shahrzad and Khalid from The Wrath and the Dawn – Gahh I loved them so much! Khalid is so romantic and there was so many swoon worthy moments!

9 Kaz and Inej from Six of Crows – The most sow burn romance ever and I loved it! I loved how their relationship developed but still held true to who they were.

10 Amani and Jin from Rebel of the Sands – I loved how their relationship developed and how much they had to sacrifice throughout the story. For each other and for the sake of the rebellion.

So here are some of my favourite ships! Tell me your favourite couples and come fangirl with me!