Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Books I’d Want With Me Stranded On A Desert Island

I’m gong to cheat this week and include series as one because lets face it There is no way I can just pick 10.

The Daevabad trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

We Hunt the Flame duology by Hafsah Faizal

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

The Beautiful Quartet by Renee Ahdieh

The Gilded Wolves trilogy by Roshani Chokshi

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

What books would you take?

Books by Muslim Authors, YA Books

This Is My Truth by Yasmin Rahman – Book Review

Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is incredible and should be read by both teens and adults.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Best friends Amani and Huda are getting nervous about their GCSEs – and their future beyond school, which they’re both wildly unprepared for. Shy, quiet Amani has an outwardly picture-perfect family – a father who is a successful TV presenter, a loving mother, and an adorable younger brother – while confident and impulsive

Huda has grown up with over-affectionate foster parents who are now expecting a baby of their own. Both girls are jealous of each other’s seemingly easy life, without realising the darkness or worries that lie underneath. Then Huda witnesses Amani’s father hitting her mother, and Amani’s biggest secret is suddenly out. As Amani convinces Huda to keep quiet by helping her with her own problems, a prank blog starts up at school, revealing students’ secrets one by one. Will this anonymous blogger get hold of Amani’s secret too? Will Huda keep quiet?

Trigger warning: Domestic violence

This book deals with domestic violence in desi and Muslim communities and it is an incredibly difficult topic to deal with but Yasmin deals with so sensitively and it’s so well written. She also discusses what it can be like for a young girl in the foster care system.

The story is told from the point of view of Amani and Huda who are best friends in the last couple weeks of school. Huda is more outspoken and confident whereas Amani is more reserved and introverted but they both get along really well together. Seeing the way the teens were during the last few weeks literally transported me back to my last few weeks of school. While Amani’s school had a prank war, we had egg and flour fights. The stress and relief and excitement and worry with your normal coming to an end after five years was so well written in the story. I could feel it and remember when it was me. Honestly it made me real nostalgic, although I do not miss exam stress.

Both Amani and Huda think the other has the perfect family but it really shows how no one truly knows what is happening in the home and that on the outside your family can seem picture perfect but inside you are just trying to survive each day.

Huda had a lot of insecurities and struggled to think of a future for herself because of how she has been moved around in the foster care system. How can she think of a future plan when her whole life can be uprooted in any moment? Do her foster parents truly love her or will they discard her now that they have their own baby coming? These things run through her mind pushing her into asking Amani to teach her to be a “perfect daughter” and it really brought into question, what is a perfect daughter and can any girl be a perfect daughter?

These are the things that make you you, the things I love about you.

None of us are perfect, we make mistakes, we hurt those we love even by accident and yet desi culture demands perfection from girls from a young age. Their worth is based on how “perfect” they are. They decide what makes the girl a good or perfect daughter and it always includes being obedient, submissive, quiet, and able to handle all domestic chores without complaint. When we aren’t that, we are labelled rebellious and bad.

Huda is attacked in this way by some characters in the book too. She thinks that because she isn’t that type of daughter her foster parents won’t want to keep her after they have their own child. Her insecurity about being loved was so heartbreaking to read. No child should be made to feel that they aren’t loved and love shouldn’t be conditional on whether they meet certain criteria. Even though her foster parents are incredible and love her for the way she is. Society pressure can still make a teen feel insecure about it.

Amani lives in an abusive toxic household but one that looks picture perfect from the outside. Everyone sees a wonderful caring father and yet no one sees who he truly is behind closed doors. So who would even believe her mother or Amani if they spoke up? Amani’s terror and struggle to cope and hide this from everyone was so difficult to read. How despite being terrified herself she still had to be there for her little brother. How this affected both their perceptions on how you should treat your spouse, what marriage is like, how a woman should be treated and how a man should be towards their wife. Amani says she would rather be single and honestly I felt the same at her age. Marriage was a prison, it was suffocating and violent. But I was really glad to see there was a contrast with Huda’s foster parents being in a healthy happy relationship.

I thought that’s what marriage was – not being happy.

Amani would take on the burden of “fixing” her dad like it was her responsibility, if she was just a perfect daughter it would be okay. But no matter how perfect she was, her dad would still become violent at the smallest inconvenience. Her mother lived in fear, and would flinch at the smallest sounds. She reduced herself, she stopped being her own person and just lived to try and keep her husband happy. She kept one thing for herself which was a part time job and this became another area in which her father would try to control her financially. The emotional, physical, psychological and financial abuse she goes through is horrifying and yet she still tries to be a good mum to her kids and wants to protect them. She doesn’t realise until much later that her silence was also destroying her children, even though women are told to stay silent “for the sake of the kids.” How is staying in an abusive relationship good for her or her kids?  

I love that Yasmin has written a book dealing with these topics within the Muslim and Desi communities because so many kids and teens are affected by it and yet to speak about it is taboo. There is too much emphasis on what will people say as opposed to how my child feels, is my family safe, are we creating a healthy environment for them to grow up in. Yasmin has done such a wonderful job of discussing these topics in her book and I hope that they are easily available to teens. So they know that they aren’t alone and trapped, so that they know that violence isn’t okay.

Okay wow I have written a long essay but truly this is a topic I am incredibly passionate about and I was literally sobbing by the end of the book and knew that this will stay with me for a long time. Like Yasmin’s first book, this is another book I wish I had been able to read as a teen.

I loved Huda and Amani’s friendship and it was really great to see friends that fall out but also work through the reasons for the fall out without making lives difficult for each other. Huda broke Amani’s trust but she realised she was wrong to do so and apologised and tried to make up for it. Amani knows that what Huda did, while still wrong, was to help her. It’s such a delicate and difficult situation to be in for both of them and we aren’t really shown or taught in any way how to handle these things. I was glad to see that they were able to work things through and remain friends.

Someone once told me you can’t count on the future…the present’s all you got

This book deeply resonated with me on so many levels and one that I want everyone to read. It’s such an important book and shows how toxic these situations are and that we shouldn’t have to silently put up with it. I highly recommend everyone who can read this to read this. Give it to teens and adults alike because even adults who have not been in these type of situations don’t truly understand what it is like. Please go buy and read this book!

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Books I Read In One Sitting

Finally doing another top 10 Tuesday post! This weeks post is about books I read in one sitting. I also included books I read in one day even if I stopped in the middle to pick up later that day.

So here’s books I read in one day and absolutely loved them!

1 Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed – This book is a difficult read but I couldn’t stop once I started.

TW: forced marriage, rape.

2 This Is My Truth by Yasmin Rahman – Another difficult read but another one that I just couldn’t stop once I started.

Tw: Domestic violence

3 Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali – This book was pure serotonin!

4 Rumaysa by Radiya Hafiz – A MG story which I read in a couple hours and completely loved every second.

5 The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo – I listened to this and Ben Barnes narrated it so of course I just spent 3 hours listening to him telling me the stories.

6 Moonchild by Aisha Bushby – Another that I listened to and basically raced though in one day.

7 Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali – The first time I read it I could not put it down it was such a wonderful book.

8 Diana and the Island of No Return by Aisha Saeed – Another MG that I raced through in one day!

9 Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew – Written in verse I got through it in one day especially as it deals with periods shaming which is a topic I’m passionate about.

10 That Can Be Arranged by Huda Fahmy – A graphic novel that was so much fun to read I just could not put it down!

When I was younger I could get through huge books in one day. I read the HP books the day they released and I wish I had that kind of time and freedom now to do that!

Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, YA Books

Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali – Book Review

This is the companion book to Saints and Misfits and I highly recommend you read this before this book. You can read my review of Saints and Misfits here. This book was everything I ever wanted and more!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Janna Yusuf is so excited for the weekend: her brother Muhammad’s getting married, and she’s reuniting with her mom, whom she’s missed the whole summer.

And Nuah’s arriving for the weekend too.

Sweet, constant Nuah.

The last time she saw him, Janna wasn’t ready to reciprocate his feelings for her. But things are different now. She’s finished high school, ready for college…and ready for Nuah.

It’s time for Janna’s (carefully planned) summer of love to begin—starting right at the wedding.

But it wouldn’t be a wedding if everything went according to plan. Muhammad’s party choices aren’t in line with his fiancée’s taste at all, Janna’s dad is acting strange, and her mom is spending more time with an old friend (and maybe love interest?) than Janna.

And Nuah’s treating her differently.

Just when things couldn’t get more complicated, two newcomers—the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth—have Janna more confused than ever about what her misfit heart really wants.

Janna’s summer of love is turning out to be super crowded and painfully unpredictable.

This book was pure serotonin injected straight into my veins. I loved every second of this book, it was a celebration of being Muslim and love and marriage and family and friends. I don’t know if I will ever be able to write down coherently just how much this book means to me.

This book is set about 2 years after the events of Saints and Misfits and it’s the summer when Janna’s older brother, Muhammad and Sarah, are getting married. Their nikkah is taking place at their dad’s home in the garden overlooking the lake. Even the setting in the book is so beautiful and honestly I wish we could see the wedding happening because it must have looked amazing.

Janna is older and she has grown a lot over the two years. She had a lot of trauma to deal with and it was nice to see that she no longer blames herself for what happened to her and that monster was held accountable. In this book Janna goes through a great character growth from thinking her happiness will be with being with another person to realising she can be happy with just herself. It was so wonderful to see that message in the book because often girls are taught their happiness lies with being with someone else. But our happiness and self worth should be with being happy within ourselves. 

I also loved all the female friendships in this book and that Janna and Tats even discuss the Bechdel test. I especially loved the friendship and love between Sarah and Janna and how they became family and look out for each other. It was a big difference from a couple years ago where Janna called her saint Sarah! It was amazing to see so many female characters, each with their own distinct personalities and dreams and hopes. From Sausan who is a badass niqabi with her own youtube channel to Sarah getting her PhD to the new characters we meet in this book who come for the wedding.

Muhammad, is Janna’s older brother and is such a cinnamon roll, I loved him so much. The way he understood Janna at such a deep level to understanding her through a look on her face. But also being the annoying older brother and their banter was so great! However he had questionable choices in wedding décor and I cannot explain the absolute horror I felt at some of his choices. But it was also hilarious watching Sarah bring out her clipboards and rope Janna into sorting everything out in one weekend.

This book may seem like it’s a fluffy romance but it also deals with some really serious issues like the racism that exists in our community that Black people face. The microaggressions that they have to deal with but find it difficult to call them out for it. Nuah has to deal with this throughout the wedding and Janna has to have some very difficult discussions with her dad about this. There is also the racism between arabs and non arabs and how some arabs view those who aren’t, inferior and show that in the comments they make about how their traditions are more important and make Muhammad not feel welcome in the family at times. These are difficult but important discussions we need to have with the people in our lives if we see them do this, we can’t just ignore it.

I really loved Haytham and Layth too even though I was still rooting for Nuah. Haytham was just swoon worthy and Layth had so much depth to him. I really enjoyed seeing their stories play out and how they interacted with Janna.

This book was so wonderful in so many ways and I just loved reading every second of it. The ending was so wonderful and so perfect for Janna and the wedding was so beautiful and there’s so much more I want to say but I can’t because spoilers but this book made me laugh and me so emotional and please you all need to go read it!

Adult Books, Books by Muslim Authors

The Blue Eye by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Book Review

This is the third book in the Khorasan archives and I loved it as much the first two books and after that ending I am so nervous about what will happen in the last book!

My review for The Bloodprint is here. My review for The Black Khan is here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Companions of Hira have used their cunning and their magic in the battle against the patriarchal Talisman, an organization whose virulently conservative agenda restricts free thought. One of the most accomplished Companions, Arian, continues to lead a disparate group in pursuit of the one artifact that could end the Talisman’s authoritarian rule: The Bloodprint.

But after a vicious battle, the arcane tome has slipped once more beyond her reach. Despite being separated and nearly losing their lives, Arian’s band of allies has remained united. Yet now, the group seems to be fracturing. To continue the fight, Arian must make a dangerous journey to a distant city to recruit new allies. But instead of her trusted friends, she is accompanied by associates she may no longer be able to trust.

This book begins shortly after the events of The Black Khan and we also get to see new places that were mentioned in the first two books. We get to see where Sinnia is from and her people and we also travel to what is Al-Aqsa in that world! We are also introduced to new characters and I loved it so much!

Sinnia gets a lot more backstory and development in this book as to why she decided to join the Companions of Hira and what she wants to do in her life. I really loved seeing her story and her home. She comes from a people who have incredible women who are smart and resilient and manage to navigate the traditions that they don’t agree with to their advantage. We also see a potential love interest for her introduced later on in the story so I am intrigued to see where that will go.

We also learn more about Arian and her childhood, we also get some incredible revelations about her childhood and family that had me reeling! I also liked seeing her work through her relationship with Daniyar and especially finally realising just how much he actually does for her and the sacrifices he also makes to be with her and support her. It was also great to see her understand that maybe being a Companion of Hira doesn’t mean she can’t also be with the man she loves. We also learn more about her brother and what happened to him. And I hope we get to see more of this in the next book.

This book is dark and does not shy away from the darker things that happen when there is war and the oppression against women. We see that there are those who want to keep this way where only a few are granted wealth, power and freedom to do as they choose and everyone else suffers and those who wish to overthrow this whole system and then those who are somewhere in the middle and want to save their own while not particularly caring what happens to everyone else. It was really interesting seeing all the different people interact and how complicated it can be when there is an oppressive regime.

There’s so much I can’t say without spoiling things but I just need you all to read these books!