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 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Favourite Book Settings

Sharing some of my favourite book settings in this post. Some of the places I would absolutely love to visit!

Daevabad from The City of Brass – I mean duh! If Alizayd turned up and said lets go, I would drop everything and absolutely go!

Caraval from Caraval – It seems so magical to go see everything there just as long as I could definitely leave unscathed

Arawiya from We Hunt the Flame – Look let me just go hang out with Altair and eat good food.

Ketterdam from Six of Crows – Would I survive? Who knows? But it will be fun!

The Shire from Lord of the Rings – It just seems so peaceful, I just want to spend my time relaxing and reading there

Camp Half Blood from the Percy Jackson Series – I would love to go hang out with them all!

Lunar from The Lunar Chronicles – Obviously I would visit once Cinder is in charge

San Cristobal from Nocturna – I just want to visit Alfie, Finn and Luka and hang out

City of Noor from The Candle and the Flame – It seems so wonderful and I just want to spend a day walking the streets

L’Edan from The Gilded Wolves – I want to hang out with Laila and Zofia and them all and eat good food, maybe plan a heist or two

Where would you love to visit?

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Books Guaranteed To Put A Smile On Your Face

Sharing a Top 10 Tuesday post today! I’m sharing some books that made me laugh and left with that feel good feeling when I finished the book.

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali – A Muslim love story that just left me all warm and fuzzy inside!

Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali – This was such a joy to read from the first page!

My So Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma – In true Bollywood fashion this book is dramatic and filled with fun!

Yes, I’m Hot in This by Huda Fahmy – A hilarious comic about being a hijabi in America

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – The number of times I laughed and died of second hand embarrassment reading this

Cinder by Marissa Meyer – It has such great Banter and I especially love Iko and Thorne

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – Filled with sarcastic and sassy characters which is my favourite type of humour

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston – This book is so much fun and just filled me with joy as its set at a Con!

That Can be Arranged by Huda Fahmy – The hilarious graphic novel of how Huda met and married her husband.

Once Upon an Eid edited by Aisha Saeed and S.K. Ali – This book is filled with so much joy and hope and I loved every single story.

What books made you laugh or just left you with that feel good feeling?

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, Middle Grade Books

Rumaysa by Radiya Hafiza – ARC Review

This is the book kid me needed and I am so glad it exists now and so wonderfully written.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This funny and empowering story weaves together three classic fairytales into one new adventure with an unusual structural twist: Rumaysa is a Muslim girl who lets her hijab down from a tall tower in order to escape. Set in a magical version of South Asia, Rumaysa explores enchanted forests and dragon lairs, teaming up with Cinderayla and Sleeping Sara along the way to create a strong sense of sisterhood. 

I loved this book so much! The story was fun and entertaining and also full of south Asian culture that was so familiar to me and the best part was that the characters were Muslim! Muslim princess fairytales, books I wish I could I have had as a kid.

I loved way that Radiya made each story her own while still keeping the original fairytale recognisable. While we don’t get to see all the illustrations in the arc we do get one of Rumaysa in her tower and it’s so cute. My finished copy has arrived and I can say that the art is amazing! Girls in hijab, south Asian culture on full display, I love it so much!

I really loved how three fairytales were woven together with Rumaysa as the central character but not overtaking the other stories. It was so well done and such a wonderful surprise to read those twists. I loved how her hijab is key to her escaping the tower and that we see her struggle with being so isolated and alone. Her sole companion is an owl who helps her escape and is her eyes to the outside world. It was also so great to see that Rumaysa mentions praying her daily prayers and that it gave her structure to her day. The way they were just included as a normal part of her just made me smile.

Rumaysa is a wonderful character, she is determined and resilient and because she has never been outside so she is so grateful for all the experiences she now gets to see because she has missed out for many years and it reminded me of how girls are kept incredibly sheltered and not allowed to experience things and kept at home and so miss out on so many things. Sara’s story is also similar in that because her parents are afraid of losing her they go to extremes to keep her safe but that puts her at a disadvantage and she is unable to help those that she is responsible for. It shows how girls are so much more capable than adults give them credit for.

I really loved all three stories even though I’m not a fan of the original Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty story. I especially loved how the princesses saved themselves instead of waiting for a prince to turn up to save them. They helped and supported each other and they knew their worth. Especially Ayla who stood her ground and said she doesn’t want to be with someone who thinks wealth and looks is so important. Ayla’s step sisters also were a nice surprise. They copied the way their mother behaved towards her and it shows that children will copy what adults will do. But they also knew it wasn’t okay and eventually changed for the better and stood up for themselves too.

I loved this book so much and how message of girls supporting girls but also how toxic masculinity was tackled too through Suleiman. He doesn’t want to be the type of boy that his parents expect and push him into her prefers building things and being creative, not being outdoors all the time and that this is okay too. This book tackles many issues that are prevalent in the south Asian community in a way kids can understand but also not being so heavy that it takes away from the fun and magic of the story.

Give this book to all the kids you know. Everyone deserves to see themselves as the hero in the story and this book made kid me so very happy.