Top 5 Wednesdays

Top 5 Wednesday – Characters Who Need A Break

Sharing a top 5 wednesday post with you all today! So we’ve all read books where the character really goes through it and all we want to do is give them a hug. So here are some of the characters that could really do with a hug and some time off.

Alizayd from The Daevabad Trilogy – He really does not get a break in these books and the fact that they’re set over almost a decade. My boy needs a break. He carried the whole of Daevabad on his back and even the ending was him working to rebuild Daevabad. Shannon please give him a break! Let him nerd out on books and economics! Let me go there and give him a hug and maybe convince him to marry me instead.

Percy Jackson – This boy does not ever get a break even when he tries to distance himself, he’s dragged straight back in and now he has to go on a quest just to get into university?! Let him rest Rick!

Rae from The Theft of Sunlight – My girl really starts off by going to visit her cousin and ends up taking down a slave ring instead. She really needs some time off to go and see her family and friends and just relax for a while.

Selwyn from Legendborn – Look he lives in perpetual stress and it is not good for him. Let him have some time off where he doesn’t have to worry about keeping Bree and Nick alive! 

Laila from The Gilded Wolves – She straight up deserves a holiday after everything she goes through and then also dealing with an angsty Severin. 

Books by Muslim Authors, YA Books

Love From Mecca to Medina by S.K. Alli – ARC Review

This book was everything I ever wanted and more. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Adam and Zayneb. Perfectly matched. Painfully apart. Adam is in Doha, Qatar, making a map of the hijrah, a historic migration from Mecca to Medina and worried about where his next paycheck will come from. Zayneb is in Chicago, where school and extracurricular stresses are piling on top of a terrible frenemy situation and making her miserable.

Then a marvel occurs: Adam and Zayneb get the chance to spend Thanksgiving week on the Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, tracing the hijrah in real life, together. Adam’s thrilled, and Zayneb hopes for a spiritual reset—and they can’t wait to see each other.

But the trip is nothing like what they expect, from the appearance of Adam’s ex in their travelling group to the anxiety gripping Zayneb everywhere they go. And as one wedge after another drives them apart as they make their way from one holy city to another, Adam and Zayneb start to wonder: was their meeting just an oddity after all? Or can their love transcend everything else like the greatest marvels of the world? 

This book has my heart and soul! I absolutely adored Adam and Zayneb from Love From A to Z and seeing them older and married was so beautiful to read. The love and care they have for each other and the way they want to support each other in their passions and goals, made me love them even more.

In this book they are now in their early 20s and having recently got married we got to see them express their love for each other. The beginning was so funny to see them try to have some private time and someone would interrupt them. It was so relatable and Hanna reminded me of my little brother barging into our room because he wanted to cuddle or sleep in the bed with us so yes, I felt their pain! 

I loved that this isn’t just their love story but also their individual stories of discovering who they are and what they truly want in life both together and apart and I loved that so much. 

Through Adam and Zayneb we all get to experience Umrah and the beauty of Makkah and Medina and all I wanted to do was to be able to have the privilege of performing Umrah after reading this book. It made me long to be there, to visit the places where the Prophet (pbuh) had lived and to just be able to go to the most holy of places and strengthen my connection and love for Allah. I loved how Sajidah included the importance of each part of the Umrah without it sounding like a lecture and just so seamlessly woven into the story. I often turn to the stories of the Prophets especially when I am struggling and seeing Adam and Zayneb also do that was so wonderful to see. 

In this story we see how they are struggling with managing all the aspects of their lives and the long distance relationship and how it is having a toll on their physical and mental health. I loved seeing that they had their own struggles and trying to find that balance as it’s something a lot of us have to deal with and it also showed us that they have full lives and not just all about each other. 

The disability rep that we see in Adam and how he struggles to manage his symptoms was so well written. I related so much to him and how he tries to handle his daily life and his guilt. The guilt he felt made me cry because I have felt that guilt, that you feel you are holding your spouse back, that they deserve better, that you give your loved ones extra stress because you need their support more regularly. Adam being so wrapped up in trying to deal with this while also putting on a strong face for Zayneb was heartbreaking and I just wanted to give him a hug. I loved how he turned to Allah for help and put his trust in Him to find a way through his situations.

Zayneb also had some incredibly difficult circumstances to deal with and I felt so stressed out for her and was so worried about her! I loved seeing her grow from the Zayneb we meet in LFATZ because she would sometimes act before she thought through. But now she is more mature and thinks about the best way to deal with the situation and I loved seeing that aspect of her. She also struggles in her relationship with Allah and we see her grow and rebuild her relationship with Allah by going to Umrah and realising she needs to recharge herself as she can’t help anyone if she is broken. 

This book was everything to me and I loved every single second. Also shoutout to Bertha Fatima the real mvp. I love that cat so much. Everyone please read this book and all of Sajidah’s books. 

Book Recommendations

Reasons to Read Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

This book means so much to me in so many ways and it will forever hold a special place in my heart and I just want you all to experience this beautiful story too. So here are some reasons why you should read this book.

A Cute Halal Love Story

We get to see how you can truly fall in love and find the person you want to spend your life with while maintaining the boundaries set in place by our religion. Their faith was so important to them and so it influenced how they interacted with each other and it was so beautiful to see these small moments like Adam putting his hand on the table saying he wants to hold her hand but can’t so this will be the replacement. It’s so amazing to see that they put their faith first.

Adorable Meet Cute

Everyone loves a meet cute and this is one of my favourites! They meet at an airport and end up on the same flight where they interact for the first time after spotting each other and sharing a special connection by saying salaam to each other.

Disability Rep

Adam is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis which is what makes him decide to quit university and go home. The rep was so great, we see him battle his many feelings about how this will affect his life but also his families. We see him struggle to manage it initially but eventually find his new normal. He never thinks he needs fixing or that there is something wrong with him and I really loved seeing how relatable it was.

Female Friendships

While this is a love story we also see love in many forms including the friendships that Zayneb has with her friends and how they care deeply for each other and if they mess up they apologise and try to make amends. It was so great to see women supporting women.

Smart Assertive Muslim Women

This is a story with multiple women who are so different from each other and yet are united in the battle against injustices.They may approach it in different ways but they are all incredible and resilient and they have each others backs.

Cinnamon Roll Love Interest

Adam is so sweet and an introvert to Zayneb’s bold and outgoing nature and it was so lovely to see a sweet soft boy. He shows strength in so many ways but I loved how his nature was to be kind and sweet and thoughtful. I loved his relationship with his little sister and his dad and how much he cared for them. We see how he is with Zayneb too and how he isn’t afraid to express how he feels and I just love him so much.

#EatThemAlive

This book also deals with Islamophobia both in the west and in Muslim countries. It discusses how it’s a thousand small cuts that slowly diminish us and that we face so many injustices because we chose to wear a scarf on our head or cover up in a swimming pool. We are judged and looked down on just because we are Muslim and how that affects us and our everyday lives and how it can make us feel hurt and angry and want to fight these injustices but that it also drains us. 

I just need you all to read this incredible book especially as the sequel, Love From Mecca to Medina, will be out on October 18th.

Books by Muslim Authors, YA Books

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh – ARC Review

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Salama Kassab was a pharmacy student when the cries for freedom broke out in Syria. She still had her parents and her big brother; she still had her home. She had a normal teenager’s life.

Now Salama volunteers at a hospital in Homs, helping the wounded who flood through the doors daily. Secretly, though, she is desperate to find a way out of her beloved country before her sister-in-law, Layla, gives birth. So desperate, that she has manifested a physical embodiment of her fear in the form of her imagined companion, Khawf, who haunts her every move in an effort to keep her safe.

But even with Khawf pressing her to leave, Salama is torn between her loyalty to her country and her conviction to survive. Salama must contend with bullets and bombs, military assaults, and her shifting sense of morality before she might finally breathe free. And when she crosses paths with the boy she was supposed to meet one fateful day, she starts to doubt her resolve in leaving home at all.

Soon, Salama must learn to see the events around her for what they truly are—not a war, but a revolution—and decide how she, too, will cry for Syria’s freedom.

TW: death (adult & children), torture, sexual assault, murder, war, starvation, PTSD, grief

This book is devastating and hauntingly beautiful and a story that I will be thinking about for a long time. There are scenes that are seared into my memory, scenes that utterly broke me and I had to stop reading. This book made me sob and it is one of the most beautiful stories I have read. 

This story is set just after the Syrian revolution began and deals with what happens to the people who are living in a war torn country. We meet Salama who wanted to become a pharmacist but those dreams are shattered when the revelation begins and now helps at the hospital saving as many people as she can. She meets Kenan who wanted to study animation but now films what is happening in Syria and uploads it to youtube so people can see what is happening. Together they bring back hope into their lives despite the circumstances they live in.

As long as the lemon trees grow hope will never die.

There is also Layla, Salama’s sister in law and only family left after her parents are murdered and her brother imprisoned. And Kenan’s younger brother and sister that he is doing his best to protect. These people are Salama and Kenan’s lifelines. Seeing how they feel terrified that anything could happen to them and there would be nothing that they could do. There are several scenes that are inspired by real life events and that made it even more chilling and devastating to read.

This land is me. And I am her. My history, my ancestors, my family, we’re all here.

We also meet Khawf who is part of Salama’s hallucination, he is the one that keeps pushing her to find a way to leave Syria to find safety but she feels guilty for leaving while there is so many people who need her help. She has learnt on the job but she always has a wealth of pharmacological knowledge that helps so many people. Kenan feels like he needs to fight for his home and share with the world what is happening. I really loved seeing the different aspects and how they struggled with the choices they made. It was so raw and real and I felt that struggle with them. Zoulfa has written these characters so beautifully and they are complex and feel so real and I completely fell in love with them. I also loved seeing how they carved out some joy for themselves amidst all the sorrow.

When they realise they will not survive long enough to make any impact they decide they need to leave to keep their family safe. But even the journey to escape is harrowing. Zoulfa doesn’t shy away from the realities of what has happened and continues to happen in Syria and everyone needs to read it. 

This is a book that everyone needs to read. It gives voice to the voiceless and shows us the strength and resilience of the Syrians and their fight for justice and freedom and how hope can be find in even the most difficult circumstances.

Top 5 Wednesdays

Top 5 Wednesday – Bookish Happiness

Today I will be sharing books that brought me utter joy and had me reading with a huge grin. I highly recommend reading these books for that serotonin boost!

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali – This book is the cutest sweetest story ever

That Can Be Arranged by Huda Fahmy – The most adorable and hilarious story of how Huda met her husband!

Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali – Features a big fat Muslim wedding that had me laughing with such utter joy

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston – Set at a con with all the nerds embracing their passions

My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth – All the nerdiness and female friendships on top of a cute romance, what’s not to love?!

What books have you read that brought you pure joy?