Book Recommendations, Muslim Shelf Space

Why You Should Read Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

If you know me then you know that I love this book with my whole heart and I need you all to read it. So to give you more incentive than my incoherent screaming, here are some reasons why you should read this wonderful book.

Muslim Romance

This book has the most wonderful romance while also keeping it all halal! Sajidah was able to show that Muslim’s can fall in love and that it can be romantic but it can still be kept within the boundaries of what Islam teaches us about relationships between men and women. We see cute fluffy moments and that they still interact with each other and u was grinning so hard all the way through but especially by the end! It’s a nuance often lost to most people but seeing so wonderfully done in the book was so great to see. I felt so seen.

Sajidah also showed through how they handled being attracted to each other, the realities of Muslim youth, especially the in the west. That it’s okay to have feelings and be attracted to each other, Islam doesn’t stop these natural feelings but how we handle them is the important thing. This was such an important nuance to show in the book and I love how it was shown.

Muslim Rep

The Muslim rep in this book was so wonderful to see. We are shown practicing Muslims but we also see them live, they are complex and well developed, they have friends and hobbies and passions. We also see how people who are Muslim are treated and the Islamophobia they face but also that they are happy and living their lives. We see differences in even how some people are more visibly Muslim than others and how that affects them and how they are treated.

Most importantly we see Muslims who are happy and that they don’t feel oppressed by their religion. We see them embrace their religion an do their best to stay true to their faith. It was refreshing to see that. Not only that, but we see representation of Muslims who have converted to Islam and that come from different parts of the world. So much diversity and culture was so great to see in the story.

Multiple Sclerosis/Chronic Illness Rep

Adam has been recently diagnosed with MS when we first meet him and it causes him to re-evaluate his life and how this will affect him long term. The rep was done incredibly well and I felt so seen because I also have chronic health conditions. The way he feels and how he has to navigate so many unknowns and yet still wants to make the most of things. He still falls in love and is wholly accepted by her.

Islamophobia

One of the things that Zayneb has to deal with is having a teacher who is Islamophobic and how angry and upset it makes her. But also that her being visibly Muslim means she has to deal with that where ever she goes. She wears a hijab, she can’t hide that she is Muslim so it makes her a target. I related so much to Zayneb especially how it’s the “little” things that get to her like a woman saying she feels unsafe to sit next to her or her not being allowed to use the swimming pool because she chose to wear a swimming costume that covers her entire body instead of the standard swim suit that makes the white man feel okay. That she’s expected to put a white man’s feelings above hers. It was so real seeing that in a book and love how Sajidah wove it into the story as it’s something that so many of us have to deal with.

It also makes Zayneb turn to activism to channel her anger and pain into something positive so she can try to make things better and make people aware how these things affect Muslims. She is passionate and fiery and I loved that about her.

Friendship & Platonic Love

One of the things I loved seeing in the book was how despite this being a love story, friendships were still shown importance. Zayneb and Adam both have a group of friends who they intereact with just as much as  each other. Zayneb especially as she also interacts and spends time with Adam’s friends too. I loved seeing that friendship is shown to be important and how platonic love for your friends can make you just as happy and hurt you as much as romantic love. We need to see more romances where we see different types of love included in the story!

Finally, if you are an Avatar fan then you will be pleased to hear that there are several avatar references in the story!

This book has wonderful nuanced Muslim rep, incredibly real chronic illness rep, has a wonderful love story that will leave you with a serotonin boost.

Everyone go read this incredible book and also read Saints & Misfits so we can all scream about Misfits in Love which will be out next year complete with a big fat Muslim wedding and a cameo with Adam and Zayneb!

My review is here for Love From A to Z

I also wrote about why this book means so much to me.

Reflections

10 Things You Can Do In Ramadan If You Can’t Fast

Following on from my previous post about how I am no longer able to fast in Ramadan, I thought I would share some things that I can still do. Especially as I know there are many people who, like me, are unable to fast. Whether it’s because of health reasons or because many women will be on their period at some point and unable to fast then.

There are so many reasons as to why people can’t fast but here are things we can all do regardless of whether we are fasting or not, to be able to increase in our worship and gain that closeness to Allah.

1 Read the Quran – try reading on a daily basis, even if it just a few pages a day. For every letter you read you get rewarded. It is what will help you gain that connection to Allah because He is talking directly to you through the Quran.

2 Listen to the Quran recitation – you can play the Quran recitation during your commute to and from work or any other time during the day especially if you cannot physically pick up the Quran to read at the time.

3 Read the translation of the Quran – read it in a language you understand best. For me, that’s English. I read the Sahih International version as I find that easiest to understand. It will help you to understand the Quran so much better.

4 Read the tafsir of the Quran – the translation only gives us a superficial knowledge of what the Quran is teaching us but reading or watching a lecture on tafsir will give you a much deeper understanding. For reading I recommend Ibn Kathir and listening, I recommend Omar Suleiman or Nouman Ali Khans lectures which are available on YouTube

5 Dhikr – remembering Allah throughout the day and is probably the most easiest form of worship to do. You can recite Alhamdulillah, Subhanallah, Allah Hu Akbar while you are at work, driving, cooking basically doing almost anything.

6 Dua – there are so many duas we can learn and recite and I highly recommend picking a few and making it a goal to learn and implement these. It can be anything from the dua to enter your house or a dua for ease in your studies. Fortress of a Muslim is a great book to have and small enough to fit in your pocket. There are also special times when dua is most accepted so we can make the most of our worship by praying especially in these times. The last third of the night, laylatul qadr, at the time of breaking the fast are some of these times.

7 Increase in Islamic Knowledge – pick a topic you want to learn more about and focus on learning something new about it. It could be anything learning about the Prophet (saw) or the mothers of the believers or self improvement or anything else. Learning more will help us to gain that connection with Allah. It can be reading, audio, watching lectures, attending a course.

8 Making Istighfar – seeking forgiveness is something we are all taught we should do regularly. None of us are perfect so our worship won’t be perfect. We forget, we make mistakes, we commit sins. And so we should also seek forgiveness for those.

9 Feed a fasting person – if we can’t fast we can still help those who are fasting. Maybe make something and give it to a neighbour or send money through a charity so they can provide food for those who fast and can’t afford to buy food to open their fast. We gain the reward for feeding a fasting a fasting person.

10 Give in charity or volunteer for a charity – we are always more generous in Ramadan, and there are always charities that are doing great work across the world in need of funding. Even if you can’t afford to give money, maybe volunteering a few hours to help them is an act of charity too. Smiling is a charity, helping an elderly neighbour, babysitting or helping out a friend or family member, so many possibilities.

There is so many more things we can all do to try to benefit the most from this month but don’t compare yourself to what others are doing. Allah knows what you are doing and He will not compare you to anyone. Do your best to take advantage of this Ramadan as the rewards are innumerous.

PS. Even if you are fasting you can still do all of these too! 🙂

I hope you find this beneficial and I hope you all have a wonderful Ramadan.

Unboxings

Illumicrate Unboxing – Clever Ruse November Box

Hey booknerds! I have an unboxing for you today! This is the Illumicrate November box and the theme was Clever Ruse. As usual the box was amazing and I loved all the items! Plus this month they included two books as it was their anniversary box! So lets get to the unboxing.

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The first item included was a woodmark inspired by Warcross. I love the design and the quote! The artwork is by @chattynora

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They also included a pin banner inspired by The Night Circus, Caraval and all things Circus! I love that it looks like a circus top! As you can see I have already filled it with all of my pins! It was designed by illumicrate themselves!

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They included some unique items this month and one of them was this drink cosy inspired by To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. I really love the artwork which is designed by @giacatam

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I adore this item that was included, a Throne of Glass inspired necklace. It’s so beautiful and designed by @fableandblack And of course I just had to have my cat, Sherlock, model the necklace for me!

They also included an exclusive edition of Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce. I have heard such great things about this series and this is the perfect excuse to start reading!

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The last thing included is a Mulan inspired scarf which has some beautiful artwork on it. The artwork is by Feifei Ruan. It’s absolutely stunning!

The book included in this months box was Empress of all Seasons by Emiko Jean. This edition has an exclusive cover and sprayed pages. It sounds like such a great story and I’m super excited to read it!

The extras that were included in this months box are a bookmark inspired by The Poppy War and a This Mortal Coil DNA helix

So that’s everything in this months box! I loved everything and I am so excited for the Saints and Scars box and their next quarterly box!

Fiction Books, YA Books

Enchantee by Gita Trelease – Book Review

I love historical fiction books especially when they have magic involved so I was super excited when my request for this book was accepted on netgalley. Thank you to Macmillan Children’s book for sending me this book. It does not affect my review in any way.

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Rating: 4/5

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…
When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.
But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…

I really loved this book, there was great world building and I loved the characters so I was really invested in their story. The was a lot of intrigue and suspense and a major theme throughout the book was that everyone was hiding something so the deception kept me hooked. I wanted to know what was truly happening, who each of the characters truly were.

Each character had their own secrets for various reasons, from needing to blend in to keeping a loved one safe, and it made their deception grown until they were almost spiralling out of control. It really made me root for the characters and wanting them to work everything out.

I personally loved the romance in the story, even though there isn’t a lot of it, it felt very realistic for the time period it’s set in and honestly they were so adorable!
The world building was amazing, it was rich and intricate, so I felt like I was right there walking the streets with the characters. It shows Paris’ dark and bleak side where the common people live but also the glitz and glam of the aristocracy. It made it seem much more real.

I also loved how Gita incorporated true historical events and people into the story, from the revolution to Marie Antoinette to the hot air balloons. I especially loved how the hot air balloons were shown as the revolutionary event in the story as it was so accurate for that time and how the characters were so invested into making using a hot air balloon a reality. Their enthusiasm and zeal was completely addictive and it made me want to join them in the hot air balloon!

I was really glad to see that Gita accurately depicted the stark differences between the rich and the poor and how the rich often cared very little for the suffering of others. While Camille and Sophie had to deceive people to just be able to buy bread, the rich were gambling and drinking their days away. Showing this made it clear why the revolution happened.

I loved the diversity in the books and how it was portrayed from Lazare being half Indian and facing racism even amongst the aristocracy, with them making it clear that he is not their equal and Chandon having to hide his relationship because it was seen as unacceptable.

Although I loved the book I did feel it dragged a little near the end but it did not lessen my enjoyment of the book. Then the ending was a lot more fast paced and I loved the way it ended.

One thing I did love was that although there will be a book two, this book had a complete arc so you can technically read it as a standalone. I am most definitely looking forward to reading more and being back in this world as I so want to see what will happen with the characters during the revolution.

If you love historical fantasy books I highly recommend you pick this book up when it comes out in February!

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Backlist Books I Want to Read

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 backlist books I want to read.

There are so many books that I have on my shelves unread and yet, I continue to buy books. It’s beginning to get out of hand and I seriously need to read the books that have been sitting there for ages. I know there are some great books, but there’s so many books and so little time. I also find that a lot of my backlist books are ebooks. I always seem to overlook these books when I’m deciding what book to read.

But these are the books I really want to get to:

1 And I Darken – I keep hearing amazing things about this book and I won the first in the trilogy in a giveaway so I really want to read it

2 Truthwitch – another book I keep hearing great things about but I still haven’t got to yet

3 Dorothy Must Die – a wizard of oz retelling?! I knew I had to buy it when I saw it but I just haven’t got round to reading it

4 Air Awakens – I know I will love this book but gahhh still haven’t read it!

5 The Queen of the Tearling – I picked this up because the cover looked pretty but I haven’t got round to reading it yet

6 Graceling – yet another book that I have heard amazing things about but I haven’t read yet

7 The Forbidden Wish – this is an Aladdin retelling so I just had to get it. I hope it’s good!

8 Iron Gold – tbh I’m pretty scared to read this book. The Red Rising trilogy was brutal and heart breaking and I’m not sure I’m ready to have my heart broken again

9 Invictus – this is totally my type of book so I’m hoping to read it soon

10 This Mortal Coil – with the release of book 2 this book is now high up on my tbr hopefully I will read it either this month or next

So these are the books that I really want to read soon especially as they have been on my tbr for far too long!

What books have you had on your tbr for far too long?