Rajab 1441/March 2020's Book Club Recap
Updated: Mar 2
Bismillahi ar-rahmani ar-rahim
Assalamu aleikum waramatulahi wabarakatuhu everyone!
Welcome to this month's book club edition. As customary with recaps, we have some books on the roster. Please grab your drink and enjoy reading our thoughts—brief or detailed—on the books selected insha'Allah. You can read the previous recap here.
The Kiss Quotient
This book revolves around an Asian American named Stella Lane who is a mathematics and economics genius; an econometrician. Her algorithms help her determine customer purchases for the company she works for. The only thing she doesn't excel at is social interaction especially with the opposite gender. To help her with that, she hires an escort to teach her how to be in a relationship. This escort is named Michael. Michael is a talented cloth designer. He only escorts once a week because of his mounting debt. Long story short, it is a Pretty Woman kinda story where the roles are reversed. The writing is great and sultry.
Economics is a social science dealing with the allocation of scarce economic resources in an effective manner to achieve desired objectives. For that reason, we liked this book on top of the fact that it is a romance book.
One member in our off-line book club struggled with the fact that Stella had Asperger's syndrome. She mainly thought that the condition was downplayed and all she heard was, "Look at Stella, she is autistic and she found love." This opinion is not invalid. Stella is on the spectrum and comes off as an introvert. Some people on the spectrum have it worse or less than her and that is what that particular reader wanted to see. Anyway, this will be touched upon with Book 2 in the series also included in this post.
Favorite quotes :
- "Math is the single most elegant thing in the universe, and economics is what drives the human world. If you want to understand people in a sophisticated manner, I believe economics is the way."
- "People were people, and they hated to be entirely predictable."
Even in the Breaks
Summary : Ayda is an uncompromising, salacious woman who focuses solely on her work. She gets close to no one, and no one gets close to her. Didi, on the other hand, is fun loving and family oriented. She looks forward to the day when she and her husband will become parents. When tragedy strikes unexpectedly, Didi disappears and Ayda becomes the guardian of a young girl named Shams—a young girl who, in all societal respects, she should resent. As Shams’s presence in Ayda’s life induces transformative consequences, the truth behind the two women’s relationship is revealed. Even in the Breaks is the story of the strength born when women refuse to let adversity defeat them.
Read the full review here.
Woven in Moonlight
Summary : Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.
When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.
She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princesa, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge―and her Condesa.
Review: It was nice to find out the meaning of the name Rumi in a Bolivian dialect. The book is well-written. The only reservation about the book is that all the characters worship false gods from which they harness their magic; feerasat-magic by a non-Muslim. Quran 7 : 54 is a verse that is not only quoted to show that Allah is the Creator and only true God, it is also a verse used to cure a person afflicted with magic. And that's something that needs to be said so no one misinterprets the liking of the book to a covert way to support polytheism. On a side note, a miracle performed by an Abrahamic prophet is call mojahza; one performed by a Muslim scholar is called keeramat. Woven in Moonlight a great story overall with a sultry romance, too.
Another thought kept nagging at us; the one where the unseen lied on some of the Muslim Prophets and said that they worshiped idols. I wondered if a similar argument was at play in this book here where the character of "Rumi" is an idol worshiper... Anyway, it's just a thought, and we could be wrong. But, just to be clear... the Rumi we all know, the one whose faith has been stripped off from his poetry is MUSLIM. Rating: 4/5
The Bride Test
This book is the second installment in the series after the story of Stella Lane with the The Kiss Quotient. In this tome, Michael's cousin Khai Diep is an accountant who is also afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome. He has it worse than Stella. His mail-order bride finds his work glasses sexy. She also thinks he has an edge when he dons a serious face while he is lost in thoughts. In those moments, he looks like a very calculating assassin, and that doesn't seem to put her off. It only makes him even hotter in her eyes.
Summary: Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he's defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride. As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can't turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn't go as planned. Esme's lessons in love seem to be working...but only on herself. She's hopelessly smitten with a man who's convinced he can never return her affection. With Esme's time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he's been wrong all along. And there's more than one way to love.
Hoang's writing is calculated, witty, romantic, sultry and above all delightful. We can't wait to read Book 3 titled The Heart Principle highlighting the story of Quan; Khai's older brother, a womanizer with a Master's in business but who also looks like an Asian drug lord... On a side note, these people are Buddhists. Book 1 and Book 2 also mention deserting parents and grief. Anyway...Book 3 is set to be out on August 2021 insha'Allah.
Far from Agrabah
Summary: This stunning original novel will tell an all-new story set in the world of the new film, featuring Aladdin and Jasmine. A magic carpet ride full of adventure, suspense, and wonder written by New York Times Bestselling author Aisha Saeed, this story will be a must-read for any Aladdin fans who find themselves drawn into and enchanted by the magical world of Agrabah and beyond.
Thoughts: The book had many similarities with the version of movie with Will Smith.
Sinan & Leyla
Summary: "What if I was Mr. right though and you blew me off?" SINAN is charming, relentless and always goes after what he wants in life. LEYLA generally likes to be left alone and has no desire to get to know anyone for the purposes of matrimony, especially given her family's track record with arranged marriage. ANYWAY... "Mr. Right does not exist. He's a myth. A rumour."
Review: Written since 2015 and finally recently published, this is a realistic Muslim fiction story albeit very liberal in terms of faith and very conservative in terms of culture. Leyla works in a bookstore, and she is her mother's caretaker. She lives in a house where only strong independent women rule and support each other since the men of their family have deserted them and/or have proved themselves to be useless and not dependable.
Many P&P and other pop culture references also make an appearance in this story.
Sinan & Leyla is also a cute Muslim authored read dealing with domestic violence, womanizers, narcissists, and power hungry family members just to name a few. The kind that like to leave women to fend for themselves and when marriage proposals come in, they suddenly remember they are "head of families." So, they have to go assert themselves in the name of their "honor."
In all, the book is very bookish and sarcastic in a good way.
Thank you for tuning in and reading.
Shaban 1441 AH / April 2020's Book Club Pick will also be a recap insha'Allah.
Our Usual Book Club Questions Are:
1. What did you like most?
2. What gave you pause?
3. What didn't you like?
4. What are your other thoughts?
5. What question (s) do you have for the author(s)?
6. What questions about the book(s) do you have for the moderator or other members of the discussion(s)?
We look forward to hearing from you.
G E T I N T O U C H !
Books, Teas & Coffees
Until next time, subhanaka Allahumma wa-bihamdika ash-hadu anla ilaha illa anta as-taghfiruka wa atoobu ilayka. (O Allah, You are free from every imperfection; praise be to You. I testify that there is no true god except You; I ask Your Pardon and turn to You in repentance.) Aameen.
The Fofky's Book Club