The Read3r’z Re-Vu: Eid Special

EID MUBARAK!!! 1 SYAWWAL 1438H

Muslims around the world have just completed their fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan and have immersed themselves in some wonderful celebrations for Eid (Idul Fitri).

As part of the festivities, this blog post is a celebration and recommendation of some of the awesome books I have read that were written by Muslim authors…

Some you may have already seen before…

Have you ever worked with a Muslim colleague or have a Muslim friend who has declined invites to lunch or even social gatherings after work or school during a certain time of the year? They suddenly go missing from the social sphere or they disappear for a power nap during lunch?  It’s certainly not to cause any offence or to avoid anyone, it’s because they are embracing the Holy Month of Ramadan.

So.. What is Ramadan and What is Eid?
Muslims follow the lunar calendar where the phases of the moon are followed closely and upon the citation of a new moon, a new month commences. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, depending on the citation of the new moon it can go for anywhere between 28-30 days. It is a holy month for Muslims as Muslims believe it is when Prophet Muhammad received the divine revelation of the Holy Quran, Islam and the message of One God.

As part of the holy month, Muslims engage in a fast during sunlight hours. The fast is a means of bringing them closer to God, humble themselves as a person and a reminder of those who are less fortunate. During Ramadan, Muslims are either fasting or praying… or sleeping… When it’s time to break the fast (Iftar) it is most likely with family as Ramadan is the time for family then afterwards, they go to their nearest mosque for prayers which go for most of the night. Time is quite consumed with the fasting and prayers during the Holy Month. With it, the fast can get quite exhausting but not from the lack of food and water consumption. Sahur (breakfast) is at approx. 4:30am to eat in time before Fajr (morning prayers) by 5:20am – then it’s off to work or school so when it’s downtime – it’s usually for rest.

The fast is only prescribed to Muslims who are fit and able to engage in the fast – so if a Muslim is sick or has a medical condition that requires regular medication or meals, they are exempt. Same applies to pregnant and lactating women. If one has commenced fasting then during the day has become ill, they are to break their fast immediately. For those who can’t fast, they usually pay a Fidyah (charity) that is paid to the needy and equates to what one normally spends on food in a day. General rule of thumb is approx. $10 per day for a meal.

Ramadan is a peaceful time of the year – it is a time for prayer, family and repentance. You could call it an annual spiritual and physical detox…

To mark the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate a religious holiday called Eid also known as Idul Fitri or Eid ul Fitr. It’s a time when Muslims wear new clothes and first attend prayers in the morning then make up for lost time by visiting friends or family from house to house and eat.. A LOT!!! It’s also a time for charity as a Fitrah (charity paid prior to Eid) that is paid to the poor. It’s also a day to remind Muslims to forgive their fellow Muslims for shortcomings and continue to carry on positive behaviour once they bid the Holy Month farewell.

Recommended reads by some awesome Muslim Authors

Randa Abdel-Fattah’s When Michael Met Mina an important Contemporary YA Novel that I see as the next “Looking for Alibrandi” and Noah’s Law a great Contemporary YA novel that has an element of crime mystery thriller…
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sami Shah’s Fire Boy and Earth Boy epic Urban Fantasy novels that reference the Islamic faith on Jinn.. has you on the edge of your seat!!!
 

Demet Divaroren’s Living on Hope Street – A raw and confronting yet fantastic YA read that’s set in “The Burbs”

Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Light both intense YA page turners that had me on the edge of my seat.. A story that is set in a brutal world that is inspired by Ancient Rome and its ruthless way of ruling with an iron fist..
 

Wishing all our Muslim members a wonderful and blessed Eid Mubarak:
1 Syawwal 1438 H

-Annie

 

Release by Patrick Ness

A book of one day in the life of Adam Thorn, aged 17 and it’s a big day… Things go wrong, it’s intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches..

Annie and Bert team up for a “Release” read along!!!

I thoroughly enjoyed the read along I did with my friend, Bert.. a unique story in the sense that there were 2 storylines, one that follows Adam who is struggling to be true to himself due to his family’s beliefs and the other of a ghost – yet I’m not quite sure of the connection between the two, my theory is it’s somehow a metaphor for Adam’s inner struggle.. I found the book to be very conversational which contributed to how quick I read this book. There are parts of this story that make you laugh and cringe at the same time. I felt mixed emotions for the characters – you know it’s a good book when you have that sort of emotional reaction!!!
-Annie

I am oh so happy to have read this book! I read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and really didn’t like it, I just didn’t get the appeal of it. After having read that I thought that Mr. Ness and his books had no place in my life, this book however, was beautiful. Adam Thorn is one of the most interesting male characters I’ve read in a long time, usually I find books with a male lead character to be tiresome as I like reading books with females as the centre but Adam was really quite charming… Oh and Linus was completely GORGE with his “dancer butt.” The parts dealing with the ghost really confused me, while they are beautifully written I found them to be a little too vague, I don’t really know how they connect to the story of Adam. For me the book has redeemed Patrick Ness as a storyteller, I just might try some of his other books now. A great story, beautifully told that is reminiscent of some of the great 80s teen movies. Shout out to my friend Annie for giving me the reading copy and suggesting we do a read-a-long… Fun fun fun!!!
-Bert

Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending us an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for our Honest Reviews.

Losing Lola by Kirsty Dallas & Exclusive Author Interview with Kirsty

“I took a deep breath as my eyes lowered to the scars on her chest. “They are the battle wounds of a warrior who went to hell and kicked its ass. They are proof of how strong you are, and a reminder that you are alive!” – Losing Lola by Kirsty Dallas

 Intense, captivating and romantic.

Losing Lola is an intense story of mental strength, healing and love overcoming the aftermath of sexual assault. The story has a lot of soul and romance which makes it a captivating read – did I mention that it’s also very sexy? It’s not for the faint-hearted and parts of Lola’s assault experience can be quite confronting. What I liked about this book is that even though Drew was a tough, quiet, military hottie who rescues Lola physically, it’s Lola who pulls herself from her own internal demons and fears. Also in a way, her femininity and vulnerability saved Drew from his past and his shadows. It’s realistic that Lola had a great support network called Mercy’s Angels (women’s shelter) to help her overcome her experience. I liked that the chapters alternate from Lola and Drew’s perspectives, their voices in the story are very different which I felt was well done. The story progresses at a fast pace, there’s a good portion of the story dedicated to Drew and Lola’s relationship development. The message at the end of the book which I thought is highly relevant says “Sexual assault is something you experience. It does not define you.”  I recommend this for romance adult readers and those who enjoys a sexy read. This book can be read as a stand-alone!

– NJ


EXCLUSIVE AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR KIRSTY DALLAS

So how does author Kirsty Dallas write such a compelling romance novel and how does she “stay classy, sassy, and a little bad assy”?

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I continued the series as simply a way to highlight and bring attention to these sensitive and important topics.

1. As this is one of the first books I have read in the Mercy’s Angel’s series, could you tell us a bit more about the series and what inspired you to write them?

[KIRSTY]  The entire Mercy’s Angels series revolves around violence against women, whether it be child abuse, domestic abuse, or sexual assault, each book follows the heartache, fear and healing a woman goes through when she’s been the victim of such an assault. Mercy’s Angels is a women’s shelter that plays an important role in the healing of each character. The first book in the series, Saving Ella, was written as a healing tool for myself. As a domestic abuse survivor, this was my way of expressing my own fears, healing and dreams. I continued the series as simply a way to highlight and bring attention to these sensitive and important topics. (The next book in this series will actually tackle the subject of the emotional and physical abuse of a man in a relationship, because it’s not just women who are victims of these crimes and I really want to explore and acknowledge that).

2. What are your top 3 tips on writing compelling characters?

[KIRSTY] Plausibility – your character needs to be three dimensional, with real flaws, fears and emotions. Write about characters who display human virtues, characters that readers can look up to and admire. Writing can be very much like acting, in the sense you need to be your character, you need to think like they would, you need to put yourself outside your comfort zone and explore different emotions, and situations you may not have been in before.

3. Sexual assault can be a very difficult subject matter to explore, what was some of your challenges in writing this novel?

[KIRSTY] I spent a lot of time watching documentaries, and reading biography’s about survivors of sexual assault. This obviously took an emotional toll, spending so much time in the lives of women who had been so deeply scarred by their assault. I just wanted to reach out and hug each of these women, I wanted to make sure they knew their worth, their strength and their ability to overcome such an invasive trauma. Being made to feel so powerless, having something so personal taken from you by force, it’s terrifying, and eventually I had to try and put myself mentally in that situation to create Lola. Needless to say, it was a long and difficult six months of writing.

4. Can you tell us a little bit about your other works?

My current work in progress, Stupid Love (a comedy romance about Cameron Cupid, the child of Eros (God of Love), who in actual fact, hates love).

[KIRSTY] Outside of the Mercy’s Series, I have three standalone novels, Breeze Of Life (which is a road-trip adventure about a girl recovering from cancer), Violet Addiction (which is best friends to lovers romance and tackles drug addiction), and When Nothing Is All You’ve Got (A dystopian romance based in an underground prison). Decker’s Wood is my International Best Seller (a comedy romance about a porn star whose main attraction – his wood – stops performing), Bradley’s Whistle is a spin-off from Decker’s Wood (about a female porn star who escapes some bad press by fleeing to the UK) and my current work in progress, Stupid Love (a comedy romance about Cameron Cupid, the child of Eros (God of Love), who in actual fact, hates love).

5. If there is one message readers can take away from your debut novel, what are you hoping it would be?

[KIRSTY] Strength and survival, you can and therefore you will!

6. How did you come up with the characters for your story?

[KIRSTY] The characters for Losing Lola were developed over three of the Mercy’s books, playing minor roles until it was their time to shine. In Lola I wanted a woman who was flawed. She is socially awkward and has for a long time tackled OCD, but she’s also strong, and independent, and prior to her assault she was completely content with the woman she was. Drew is a man who has made more than his fair share of mistakes, he’s the big, silent and intimidating type. Drew and Lola were two characters who were so unlike, and yet it was these differences that made them work.

7. How did you complete your writing? Did you structure your day a certain way with a word target?

[KIRSTY] I have NEVER written with structure or word targets. For me, I can only write when the feeling is there. If the feeling isn’t there, I listen to music, meditate and read until inspiration hits me. I have found over the years that my writing can’t be forced. Since I’m an author who really enters my characters head space, if I’m not in the right frame of mind to do that, I don’t push it. My readers probably hate me for it because they wait longer for my books, but I will always be true to who I am as a writer. Forcing something that isn’t there will put the wrong words to paper.

8. When you’re not writing or reading, what would you be doing?

[KIRSTY] When I’m not writing, or reading, or plotting, I’m being the best mum I can be to my nine-year-old daughter. Guiding her through life, helping her become the incredible woman I know she will one day be is my number one priority.

9. As an author, what was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

[KIRSTY] The best advice I have been given, is “show it, don’t tell it”. This is something that sits in the back of my mind every time I sit down to write. I always try to make sure I’m showing the reader the world I see in my head. I want the movie real I see in my mind to be conveyed on paper in such a way that it gives the reader an incredible journey.

 

Thank you Kirsty for sharing your insights and for the opportunity to review your book. Please keep writing and we’re excited about your current work Stupid Love.

Inspired by Losing Lola, our BFF and creative partner  The Curio Boutique has made a little thank you gift based off your book! We hope you will like it.

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Designed and handmade by The Curio Boutique

Book review by NJ and Author Exclusive Interview by NJ and Annie. 

 

Wreck by Fleur Ferris

“Truth without fear”
“Truth is far more potent than lies. It’s as forceful, constant and as indomitable as gravity.. Truthful news may not always be good news, but it’s vital…”

Release Date: July 2017
Published By: Penguin Random House, Australia

Fast paced, action packed and suspenseful, this would have to be the YA thriller of 2017!!Once again, my friend Fleur Ferris is back with her third novel, “Wreck” and once again…
She does not disappoint!!!

This book was simply “unputdownable” and if I didn’t have to work full time I would have finished this book much sooner!! From page one this book really was a page turner, such a suspenseful story!!! “Wreck” is a fantastic story where 2 worlds collide over a 5 year old mystery and a battle for the truth to finally set one free begins. Written in 2 perspectives, Tamara and William, what I loved about this book (besides how well it’s written) was how both voices are very distinguished and each character’s story was set in a different time. One is told in the present and the other’s was set 5 years prior.

In the present day, Tamara is interning at the local paper and is supposed to be celebrating O-Week to start her first year in uni, yet she finds herself roped into a situation where her home was ransacked, her world has just been turned upside and her life is in danger. All this because Tamara randomly found a note – a note that somebody is desperately trying to hide and will kill for. Now on the run and not knowing who to trust (not even the police) Tamara is trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle that seems to be getting bigger and bigger at every turn.

Even with both perspectives and backstory, the big mystery kept unravelling which raised more questions than answers and made me formulate theories as I went along, what a wild ride that was!! At some parts I was frustrated with the characters but then again, put yourself in their shoes – would we have reacted the same way or would we have known better?

Special thanks to Fleur Ferris for sending me an Advanced Review Copy, can’t believe this is the third novel I have read by Fleur and each time I am left stunned..
GREAT JOB!!

-Annie

Living on Hope Street by Demet Divaroren

A raw, confronting yet important story all Aussies should read…

Living on Hope Street is one confronting story that covers very intense issues that include alcohol fuelled domestic violence and hot topics like immigration and refugees and the hope that stems from breaking down barriers and stereotypes when people unite during challenging times.

We all love someone. We all fear something. Sometimes they live right next door – or even closer..

This story is written from various perspectives of different cultures and ages and each voice is distinguished. Kane will do everything he can to save his mother and little brother Sam from the violence of his father. Kane’s neighbour, Mrs Aslan will protect the boys no matter what – even though her own family is in pieces. Down the road, Ada wants a family she can count on, while she faces new questions about herself. Mr Bailey is afraid of the refugees next door and Gugulethu is just trying to make a life away from terror. This is a diverse neighhourhood where everyone comes from different cultures and different walks of live yet find peace, they need to discover what unites them.

Even with different characters, it was very easy to follow the story, it was quite the page turner.

I found this to be an important story that needed to be told because of the themes covered in this book. It was such a great insight into suburban life today even makes you realize everyone is fighting their own battle in some way. It’s very well written and I would recommend this to fans of Contemporary YA books.

Many thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review. Due for release: June 2017

-Annie

Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts: Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods by Craig Phillips

A fantastic collection of diverse myths and legends from around the world – from Iceland to Poland to Japan, altogether in one graphic novel!!!

Tales include a cobbler girl tricks the Wawel Dragon, after all the king’s knights fail… The Polar Bear King loses his skin… Momotaro, born from a peach, defies the ogres everyone else is too scared to face… Snow White and Rose Red make friends with a bear…

This collection contains 10 tales and are retold as comics that includes adventures with giants, trolls, witches and beasts!!!

The art work is simply amazing, the legends and folktales are so exciting!! It’s one a graphic novel you would read over and over again and keep for collection. This is something I recommend to readers young and old alike who, like me, love myth and legend. I also recommend this for kids storytime – where parents can read to the children. It is pretty easy to follow however some themes may require parental guidance – the artwork is extremely details – such a visual feast!!!

Many thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.

-Annie

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

“It’s easy to poke fun at the world and think yourself clever but it’s much harder to stand silent and endure…”

This story is about Henrietta Howel… The first female sorcerer… The prophesied one… Or is she?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her and as Henrietta “Nettie” discovers the secrets hiding behind the sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s truly the prophesied one.

A magical story of identity and wielding some awesome magic through the elements.

I Loved this read and I recommend this to fans of Harry Potter, magic and fantasy fiction.

Told in first person by the protagonist, “Nettie”, what I liked most about this book was the use of magic to control the elements in a world where magical talent wasn’t just with the wave of a wand (or stave)characters could wield power of the elements through your palms. What I also liked was the journey Nettie has had to take to discover herself and her talent, meanwhile learning of her true heritage and a prophecy that can set her on the trajectory to save the world – or destroy her. I really cannot wait for the sequel now as I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the character development, world building, style of writing and the storyline with twists and turns!!

-Annie