Review: All-American Muslim Girl

Review: All-American Muslim Girl

Rating: 3 out of 5.

After diffusing what could have been an unfortunate situation on the plane with her father, Allie Abraham begins to question her own position as a Muslim girl. With her Circassian features and non-practising parents, Allie has grown up keeping her Islamic heritage to herself. But she’s done hiding and wants to embrace her faith, but with the growing Islamophobia in her small town, and hiding her interest in Islam away from her father, Allie is caught between two worlds and must figure her place within it.

I came across this book quite a while ago, and I’ve been sitting on this review for quite sometime. And that was due to the fact that I was analysing this book as part of my third-year dissertation in university. Now that dissertation is done and completed, I finally feel confident to write this review. This book has popped up quite a lot within the online communities I am in and the reaction is quite polarising. Some absolutely love this book, while the other despise it and to weigh in my own perspective, I found myself quite in the middle in terms of reaction. I did have high expectations since a lot of reviewers whose content I enjoy spoke very positively about this book, but the book didn’t exactly exceed or fail to meet them.

To start off positive, I really enjoyed the perspective we got from Allie, which is rooted in the author’s own experience. Her “reddish-blond hair, pale skin, hazel eyes” makes Allie feel like a “traitor dripping in white privilege.” No one thinks she’s Muslim because she doesn’t fit the popular stereotype. And she’s very much aware of the privilege while the rest of her family faces overt Islamophobia. But then again, to Allie, she’s “barely Muslim”. Upon arrival of her new school, her new friendship group has her questioning and speaking up a lot. She decides she wants to learn more about her faith and culture that has often left her disconnected from her family. Allie expresses her disappointment that she is unable to speak Arabic to her grandmother because her father refuses to teach her. So she reaches out to the other Muslims in her school community and finds herself joining a Qur’an class with other Muslim girls. Here is where I enjoy the novel the most, I really appreciated the way Allie and the other Muslim girls communicated with each other. It wasn’t always nice but it was refreshing to see different perspectives and to see an active discussion between these girls and their interpretation of faith. “Everyone’s on their own journey, at their own pace.” The final moments of the book were so heart-warming and truly my favourite part of the novel. I just felt a little underwhelmed by most of what came before it all.

One thing I found rather odd was that the story uses the discovery of Jack’s father as a sort of plot twist but within all the summaries online, it is told told outright to the readers who his father is which sort of defeat the purpose of setting it up as a shocking point in the story. No hate to the story, just an odd choice for whoever wrote the book’s blurb. Jack Henderson is our love interest. I didn’t find him particularly interesting as first, but I felt really bad for him because Allie talks about his father, an alt-right leader, a lot and makes him feel bad for having a pretty shitty dad. He’s very much aware of it, and it causes him quite a lot of distress, to the point where he has a full on panic attack after they have dinner. He does eventually stand up to his father, but the way Allie is so harsh on him felt a little unfair. Allie is right to argue that not speaking up is equal to upholding terrible values, and in most situations, she had a legitimate point, but she came across as being way too unfair to Wells. Especially since she discusses a lot about nobody realising she’s a Muslim and how she benefits from white privilege which makes her “safe for bigots”. Maybe it was my fault for assuming she would extend the same branch to Wells too. Considering their relationship is a major aspect in the novel, I didn’t feel for them, nor rooted for them to stay together. There was just a lack of communication that had me wanting to ask Allie why would she even continue dating Wells after learning his father’s identity. Also, this book also brings up many complex issues in terms of religion and I don’t think it really offered great advice. While I loved the introduction of Allie and her Qur’an circle, I feel like this book begins a discussion that it doesn’t want to continue. Like mentioning different things without pondering on it for a moment more.

Overall, All-American Muslim was okay, but I felt like it could’ve been more. I’m not writing off this story completely because it is based off the author’s own experiences and I am in no way invalidating that. I felt quite emotional involved and it’s a great perspective to share. There were parts that really resonated with me but so much of the book was very unfavourable that I couldn’t find myself fully invested in this story. 


GOODREADS AMAZONAUTHOR


Resources on the Black Lives Matter movement, and what you can do to support basic human rights:
https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co

Resources for UK citizens:
https://blm.crd.co/ (Specifically aimed towards UK & Ireland citizens)
– Black Lives Matter UK (https://blacklivesmatter.com/)
– Show Racism The Red Card (https://www.theredcard.org/)
– Runnymede (https://www.runnymedetrust.org/)
– Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust (https://www.stephenlawrence.org.uk/ab…)

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A Very Late #RamadanReadathon 2020 Wrap Up

A Very Late #RamadanReadathon 2020 Wrap Up

I cannot believe how quickly Ramadan had started and ended this year! Part of me believed that the month was going to drag because I had all my university assignment due during this month. I’m so close to finishing university, but it doesn’t feel real yet because of quarantine. Luckily, past Zaheerah was smart and thought ahead when it came to planning my TBR for this readathon and my five choices fit perfectly within my schedule for this month. (To be fair, reading TWO S.A Chakraborty books in a month felt like reading four and I certainly was not expecting to be blindsided by those books) I plan on writing full reviews for all these books (except for The Light at the Bottom of the World and Once Upon an Eid) so this wrap up will be pretty short. Overall, I really enjoyed my selection for this readathon, they were all quite different which made this a fun reading experience. Some were more enjoyable than others but I consider this readathon a success! 

EDIT: Also, sorry for the late as heck wrap up post. Finishing university in the middle of a global pandemic does not do well for the mind.

1. The Kingdom of Copper
Usually, the middle book of a trilogy is often the one that lacks the most in my experience. I find myself struggling to keep myself interesting during a second book because it of its unfortunate positioning as the buffer book. But, not with TKOC, I stand by this statement now: it is the best book of the trilogy. Set five years after the events of COB, and I’m glad to say the time jump is done remarkably well. Our cast have aged and it shows. Nahri, our humble thief, more guarded than ever before is still a thorn in the King’s side and she doesn’t intend to let go. Ali, my favourite, has grown from his black/white view of the world and has truly aged to understand the impact of his actions. He’s still causing trouble, and we love that for him. His casting in the Netflix series is probably the one I’m anticipating the most. I need my fool to be perfectly cast. Also, I’m so glad that my everyday life (ahem, uni) made me read this so late because if I had read this and witnessed THAT ending, and not have the finale in my hands straight away (thanks Netgalley!), I don’t think I would have survived. Expect a full review soon!

2. The Empire of Gold
Reading Empire of Gold straight after The Kingdom of Copper is the reading version of being sucker-punched. And before the readathon, I was already re-reading City of Brass in anticipation of this readathon so I was basically punched three times. The series is that good. I was not expecting anything that happened in this book. Writing this post, it has been a couple of days since the news that Netflix is adapting this trilogy dropped, and when I heard the news, I just prayed that they’ll reach the events of Empir in the series. I know Netflix has a 3 season track record unless the series is mega-popular (see stranger things). I really hope they are as faithful as they can be to the source material. Nahri’s story ends perfectly, not exactly complete, but just enough to be satisfied with the ending and know there is more for her in the future. Don’t ruin this one for us, Netflix. The Daevabad trilogy is a series worthy of its hype. 

3. The Henna Wars
This will sound weird, but is it possible to say you loved a book but still felt like it wasn’t for you? I adored The Henna Wars, it’s super adorable and sincere with a cast of characters that I adored. Nishat is one of a kind, an unapologetic lead whose headstrong attitude was a complete joy to read, a definite protagonist who can get on your nerves but still understand her actions. I feel like the writing style was not to my liking. I wasn’t quite into it and it definitely affected my enjoyment of the book in certain moments. But I do believe in this story and it’s just another one of those cases where I know it’s to do with my own preference as a reader and not a fault of the author or the book itself. That being said, this book is so adorable and I’ll give Adiba credit for writing a story that I haven’t read anywhere else. Expected a full review soon but I swear it’s more positive than this tidbit here!

4. Once Upon an Eid
It felt bittersweet reading this collection of short stories that showcase different Eid experiences that revolve around being with your loved one. In a better time, we would have been celebrating this release quite differently. This anthology is so wholesome. I truly can’t recommend this enough to younger readers. This collection is what we mean when we say diversity! I loved the different representation and experiences to how one can celebrate Eid, especially for someone who has celebrated it pretty much the same way every year ever since I could remember. I love hearing how different Eid celebrations can vary. A highlight of this collection, for me, is the pages of illustrations for each chapter. I misread and thought it was the one chapter that was illustrated but alas, each story got their own art by some amazing artists! I mentioned I wasn’t going to write a review for this one, mainly because I was unsure of how to write it without it becoming longwinded but I think I will sit on the idea for the now and come back to it a couple of weeks time. 

5. The Light at the Bottom of the World
I said I wasn’t going to write a review for this book but part of me is still considering it. Set in a world submerged in water, Shah’s debut follows teen Leyla who, after winning the coveted London Marathon, goes in search of her missing father who was wrongfully arrested. I found myself frustrated reading this because the concept and premise is SO good, but the entire book is let down by the writing. I truly believe I would have loved this book if it wasn’t written this way. The way these characters speak to each other just sound so fake and unrealistic. Even Leyla’s internal voice found so forced and weak. I just found myself so irritated through my entire reading experience. Even just thinking about it now while I type this makes me not want to write the full review because I don’t think it’s worth my time.

Final Thoughts
So, I would say this readathon was a success! The Daevabad books were definitely the highlight of the month! I’m very excited to be wrapped up with university and having more freedom to write again! I feel like living through a pandemic has mushed my mind a bit and my thoughts aren’t coming across as coherent as I’d like them too. So I’ll wrap up here and say thanks for reading this far. Hopefully, my next post won’t be so


Resources on the Black Lives Matter movement, and what you can do to support basic human rights:
https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co

Resources for UK citizens:
https://blm.crd.co/ (Specifically aimed towards UK & Ireland citizens)
– Black Lives Matter UK (https://blacklivesmatter.com/)
– Show Racism The Red Card (https://www.theredcard.org/)
– Runnymede (https://www.runnymedetrust.org/)
– Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust (https://www.stephenlawrence.org.uk/ab…)

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#RamadanReadathon 2020 TBR!

#RamadanReadathon 2020 TBR!

Salaam, everyone! I am (almost) back from blogging hiatus to announce my TBR for this year’s #RamadanReadathon! The purpose of this readathon is to celebrate and support Muslim authors during the blessed month of Ramadan. This year, the readathon will take place between April 23 – May 23 2020. With all of us spending Ramadan, and most likely Eid, in quarantine, I hope this year’s readathon will brings us together just that little bit more.

This year’s readathon will revolve around the upcoming release, Once Upon an Eid, which is an anthology of short stories from some of our current Muslim writers! What I love about this year’s readathon format is that the element is unrestricted, which can be a blessing and a curse for a hazard reader like myself. During Ramadan, I will also be submitting my dissertation and my final assignments of my degree, so the freestyle of this readathon makes it a lot easier to partake! No prompt or restriction except for the books must be by Muslim authors and thankfully my TBR is packed with them!

Below are the books I hope to read during this month!

The Kingdom of Copper

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad—and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of a devastating battle, Nahri must forge a new path for herself. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family—and one misstep will doom her tribe..

I recently re-read The City of Brass last month and I was so shocked at how much I enjoyed it on my second read-through. I had initially read COB as an arc and rated it 3 out of 5 and now, looking back at the rating and review, I can really see how much stress can impact my reviews. I had first read COB in a very stressful period in my life and since the book was so heavy, I didn’t appreciate it the first time around. Granted, I was still stressed reading it my second time around, but I really paced myself this time and I can’t believe how different I feel about it now! Now I’m super excited to dig into The Kingdom of Copper and this readathon came at a perform time! Expect a full trilogy review once I’m done!


The Empire of Gold

I have purposely not included the description for The Empire of Gold because I am plan on reading this and The Kingdom of Copper for this readathon and I don’t want to spoil myself for this series! I’m usually don’t care that much about spoilers but I am adamant to not have this series ruined or me! A copy of The Empire of Gold was given to me via Netgalley.  


 

The Henna Wars

When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

I’ve been follow Adiba on twitter for a while now and it’s so much fun watching someone you follow go through the process of publishing their own book! Also have to support my fellow Bangladeshi as well!!


 

Once Upon an Eid

Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift-giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.

Of course, I couldn’t not add our honorary book! I’m so excited to see what stories are included. I’m super excited to read the graphic novel chapter!


The Light of the Bottom of the World

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

This one has been on my TBR for too long! And I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about it! It’s sci-fi and dystopia so it’s right up my alley!


Okay, so that is my extremely short TBR but hopefully keeping it this short will make it more realistic to complete. Also, cnsidering that S.A. Chakraborty’s books are long as hell, one book could qualify as two. Check out Nadia’s introductory post where she includes other book options if you’re thinking of joining! I’m late as hell (as usual) to announce my TBR but I’m so excited to see what else Nadia has in store for this month. Be sure to follow her on all her social and the readathon’s account to keep up to date with the possible upcoming author interviews, twitter chats and giveaway! Not everything is confirmed yet, but do check it out if you have the time!

And that’s all from me, hopefully, I’ll be posting more frequently as I wrap my degree (very scary) and I hope everyone is keeping safe in the middle of this epidemic. Keep practising good social distancing and take care of yourself! I’ll see you all soon!

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Ranking Every Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus

Ranking Every Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus

As always during the most stressful moments of university, I find myself latching onto certain games as a form of comfort. My first year of university it was The Sims 4, where for the first time I actually bought an expansion and stuff packs. The second-year was replaying Nintendo’s newest addition to The Legend of Zelda series, Breath of the Wild. For the third year, I feel like it’s a juggle between Stardew Valley and Shadow of the Colossus. My childhood gaming experience was exclusively being a backseat spectator to my older brother, and Shadow of the Colossus was a game I remember fondly as a child. I didn’t even mean to pick up the game. I was scrolling through my brother’s PS4 games, deciding what I was going to play once I had finished my final assignments. I had decided on the Kingdom Hearts series, another game franchise where my entire experience of it came straight from peering over my brother’s shoulder. I was even considering just starting the game right there and then, but knowing my tendency to fixate on games once I get hooked, I didn’t want to risk it when I’m buried under paperwork. So, there on the bottom of the list was Shadow of the Colossus. I had ignored it initially, mainly because I recall it looking rather challenging to play but when you’re stressed from multiple essays and deadlines, all coherent thoughts go out the drain, and I started a new save file. (I would say thank God for easy mode on the PS4, but even I struggled at times.)

My first thoughts playing the game was how much I remember and how much I’ve forgotten since the days of watching over my brother’s shoulder. The plot of the game stayed with me long into adulthood, but my terrible memory was a saviour at this moment because everything still felt brand new. Even though I played on Easy mode, I still struggled and to be honest, that is just who I am as a player. Even in the moments of frustration when I accidentally let Wander fall from the top of a colossus, and I swear that I won’t play this game again when I finally completed it, I still found myself opening the game the very next day to repeat the process all over again.

So, this post isn’t a review of Shadow of the Colossus and, like my BOTW post, I want to showcase what I liked about the game, but I couldn’t bring myself to list certain aspects definitively. So instead, I decided to rank my favourite colossi. This isn’t a list of worst to best (since I don’t think any of them as actually bad) but more a ranking of how much I enjoyed fighting each other. Also, if you haven’t played the game before, you primarily traverse across barren land to revive a girl named Mono by defeating sixteen massive beings (Colossi), aided only by your horse, limited weapons and the voice of a mysterious creature.

Note to anyone reading this post and hasn’t played the game: of course, spoilers but I’ll also be referring to the colossi with their fan-given names.

Continue reading “Ranking Every Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus”

[Blog Tour] The Wolf of Oren-Yaro #HailTheBitchQueen

[Blog Tour] The Wolf of Oren-Yaro #HailTheBitchQueen

Title: The Wolf of Oren-Yaro

Author: K.S. Villoso

Publisher: Orbit Books

Publication date: 18 February 2020

Genres: Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis:

A queen of a divided land must unite her people, even if they hate her, even if it means stopping a ruin that she helped create. A debut epic fantasy from an exciting new voice.

“I murdered a man and made my husband leave the night before they crowned me.”

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart. Her upcoming marriage to the son of her father’s rival heralds peaceful days to come.

But his sudden departure before their reign begins fractures the kingdom beyond repair.

Years later, Talyien receives a message, urging her to attend a meeting across the sea. It’s meant to be an effort at reconciliation, but an assassination attempt leaves the queen stranded and desperate to survive in a dangerous land. With no idea who she can trust, she’s on her own as she struggles to fight her way home.


Hello, I previously announced that I’m on a semi-blogging hiatus, except for planned posts. Still on hiatus (I am SO ready to graduate!!) but please enjoy my review for The Wolf of Oren-Yaro! I don’t feel like it’s one of my best review but if I still feel terrible about it after graduation, I do intent to pick this book up again before the release of its sequel. (I read the book and wrote this review in 2019)

As always, thank you to Shealea for all your hard work at Caffeine Book Tours. Please check the link after the review to see what everyone else thought of the book!

Review

*I received a finished copy via Caffeine Book Tours in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro follows Talyien, the Dragonlord of Jin-Sayeng, five years after her husband left her to rule over their already divided people. Issues and disagreements have been piling up for years, and the generals surrounding her are watching her every move. To keep the peace, she agrees to leave her land to the foreign city of Anzhao for peace talks with her estranged husband. Already out of her depth, she finds herself on the run when the negotiations go awry. Alone, in a nation unfamiliar to her, Talyien must survive the unknown if she wishes to return home. 

I’ll admit it; I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I decided to apply to join this blog tour. But I’m delighted I did. Oren-Yaro is a staggering journey of survival. From story to characters, to overall setting, this book was a unique read. Villoso delivers on what she sets out to achieve, and while I found myself a little overwhelmed by the world, the focus of this story wasn’t something I could pinpoint in certain moments, but I liked it like that. Which sounds very weird since, as a reader, I like having some awareness of where the story could go as I’m reading, but honestly, I flew through this book so quickly, I didn’t even care. This book was a wild ride, so much was happening; it all didn’t settle in until I reached the very last page. 

Continue reading “[Blog Tour] The Wolf of Oren-Yaro #HailTheBitchQueen”

Books That Defined My Decade

Books That Defined My Decade

This post was entirely inspired by Kate @ Your Tita Kate’s post, The Books That Defined My decade. I never thought to even reflect on my decade, but after reading Kate’s post, I immediately wanted to do the same.

I have a terrible memory, so I don’t remember much from my childhood, which makes me feel like I didn’t genuinely exist until 2010. At the start of this decade, I was eleven years old, turning twelve that March and, at the time of writing this post, I am twenty-one, about to turn twenty-two this March. I went from primary school, secondary school, college and university all in this decade alone. And just thinking about that blows my mind. In some sense, it shouldn’t because it’s just time passing but, at the same time, that is a lot of significant milestones in my life. I went from a child to a young adult, and reading Kate’s post made me realise that’s not a small thing. Reading is a big part of my identity, especially during this decade is where I had more choice over the books I read. While Kate’s post is more about books published in each specific year, my list is naming the books that I read in that year that made the most significant impact on me. So not all of them were great reads, but I feel like they deserve some acknowledge from impacting me in some way.

I’m going off what years I’ve put in my Goodreads profile but I feel like I might be off by a year or so hence I’ve added some books here that I actually read in 2009.

  • Thief – Despite Malorie Blackman being of the UK’s most beloved children’s author, I never read her acclaimed series Noughts & Crosses. Instead of the books, I knew her by were Thief and Hacker. I think this part is due to the face we didn’t have her books in my primary school library. (Maybe we did, and it was always being borrowed?) But anyway, I found Thief by accident when someone had randomly left it lying around after Golden Time. (lol remember Golden Time?) Anyway, someone remind me actually to read Noughts & Crosses in this decade.
  • Theodore Boone – The early 2010s was before I joined proper social media, so my ability to find books were severely limited. I don’t even remember how I managed to find Theodore Boone because it wasn’t from my school library, nor did anyone buy it for me. But I loved this series a lot as a kid. I used to watch a lot of crime shows with my family, so reading a series set in a similar environment to all the shows I was watching, but with a protagonist my age blew my mind.
  • The Lighting Thief – Funnily enough, this was the last time I actually up a Rick Riordan book before picking up the second one in 2019. I really loved The Lightning Thief, but my school library didn’t have the rest of the series so sadly, and with my fish brain that forgets everything every five seconds, I never got around to finishing this series. I tried continuing the series, but life got in the way. I really hope to get back to this series soon. 
Continue reading “Books That Defined My Decade”