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Rajab Book Club Recap

Bismillahi ar-rahmani ar-rahim

Assalamu aleikum waramatulahi wabarakatuhu Dear Readers!

Welcome to this month's book club edition. We apologize for the delay.

The Texas winter snow storm is behind us now, and alhamdullilah we have survived it.

Duas requested so that water returns to all the households in this part of the world, aameen!

  • Things We Couldn't Think

Summary: In this powerful collection of short stories, Tohib Adejumo, author of the hit online series, Beneath Her Khimar, selects his finest stories about Muslim life and the realities and struggles of faith in this fast-paced, ephemeral world. From Tears in Her Eyes, Mornings Always Come, Things We Couldn't Think, Sparkling Eyes, A Tale of Blood, The Rain Was Not Playing and other stories in this collection, Adejumo explores the intricate depth of the human soul and its ultimate return to its Lord, and lays bare the humanity of his believing characters who go through the never ending drama of life - of love, betrayals, conflicts, doubts, marital rifts, as well as family and social problems.

Thoughts: Many of these stories are very dramatic Nigerian short tales. They range from love-triangle single and searching practicing Muslims go through, to date rape, to in-laws issues, and above all; to a "glimpse in Jannah." We get a first row seat into the mind of a Muslim male author.

Adejumo speaks of expat family dynamics; tragedies occur at times and many things get lost in translation. He also touches on polygamy and how they (many men) experience it or entertain the idea. All the stories regardless of their topics even when dealing with atheism or misleaded jihad remain firmly rooted on the true and correct Islam. In all, these stories are things we couldn't think just looking at people around us.

Rating: 4/5

  • Her Justice Too: Forgiveness is Earned

Summary: Forgiving someone you love for betraying your trust is a lot easier said than done. No one understands this more than Justice, Naimah, and Gabriel. What starts out as a beautiful marriage turns into heartache, rage, pain, and betrayal. One moment Justice and Naimah were deeply in love, planning their future together. The next moment, tragedy hits and their lives are forever changed. Naimah is now confined to a wheelchair, contemplating letting another man into her sacred space, and it’s her husband’s fault - or is it? Rejection, lust, and abandonment entangles these three souls forcing them to each learn forgiveness according to their intentions and actions. Everyone feels betrayed, but who’s going to forgive first? Follow Justice, Naimah, and Gabriel as they each try to learn how to love unconditionally, practice forgiveness and forget they were hurt in the first place.

Thoughts: Nasheed wrote another beautiful novel. Besides the drama of Naima and Justice, there is Imam Muhammed. He seems to be a good guy. Then, there is Abdullah; an ex convict and Imam. He can be likened to an Abu Bakr. There is also Umar who seems to be a snitch. Next, there is Jamaican Gabriel who is described as an angel; a Jesus... He is also a man who practices all the religions. Abdullah pegged him right; he is simply an hypocrite. And that was NOT a statement made because Abdullah was aware of Gabriel's religious views. That was because he said something about Justice. We agree that Gabriel is an hypocrite for other reasons; he is an associator. Then, there is Officer Ali. That last one seems like a good guy. The Sunni and Shia politics are not clearly stated but very subtlety touched upon.

Rating: 4/5

  • Open to Love 1 & 2

Book 1 Summary : Hafsah grows closer to Faheem, falling hard for the sexy younger man. He is smooth and stokes feelings she meant to suppress. Faheem uses all his charms to make sure Hafsah becomes his, but flirting can be a dangerous thing when committing to no sex outside of marriage. The two play with some serious fire that might burn them both.

Book 2 (Queen of the Castle)'s summary: Tarika is happy living single. She loves her home—her castle—and is not looking for some man to try and take over everything she has built. When her best friend, Hafsah throws Aqil her way, Tarika makes it clear that she is not interested in the shy man, who barely speaks to her. When she needs his help after an accident, she allows Aqil and his daughter into her life, making it difficult to resist his sexy gray eyes and sultry smile. The more time she spends with him, the harder it is to keep her distance. Aqil planned to stay focused on rebuilding his life with his daughter after a messy divorce until he saw Tarika. He tries to maintain a respectful amount of space, but her confidence and beauty draw him in. He knows he has everything Tarika needs and gets closer to her, bringing them into a passionate abandon that can break down the walls of her inhibitions but may also shatter their lives.

Thoughts: Both books are well-written and sultry. We liked book 2 better book 1 regardless of our gripes with it. The series not only delves on romance for interracial couples, it also explore the challenges many Black women face while trying to tie the knot. Race was discussed in book 1 in the Arab culture but not in the Desi's one. In book 2, there is no mention of race. And we would have appreciated the race talk in book 2 as well. The Turks like the melanin but their culture is rife with racial and mystical incidents plaguing many marital relationships. This part of the reality is not depicted in book 2, and it should have in our opinion. Overall, the stories are entertaining. Order the two books in our store; complimentary Turkish coffee and a recipe for sweet potato pie!

Rating: 4/5

  • White Fragility

The book gives many examples of defense mechanisms used by many white people wanting and seeking to avoid and shut down the race discussion. This intentional erasure can't go on forever. These mechanisms sounded all too familiar, and it was refreshing to see a white woman tackle this issue for other white people who still don't get it or don't want to get it. This is Race Talk 101.

One favorite quote: "To continue reproducing racial inequality, the system only needs white people to be really nice and carry on, smile at people of color, be friendly across race, and go to lunch together on occasion. I am not saying that you shouldn't be nice...But niceness is not courageous. Niceness will not get racism on the table and will not keep it on the table when everyone wants it off."

Rating: 4/5

  • A Place at The Table

Summary: Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression. The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners . . . but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends?

Review: A Place at the Table nails first POV. It's also a testament of ambassadorship of one's faith and the need to be at peace with our neighbors, family, and friends. A thing that is not easy to do. Two quotes; one from the Quran and another from the French kept replaying in our mind while reading this book; Quran 60:8 and "Le malheur des uns fait le bonheur des autres." That last part is because July 4th and Thanksgiving play a significant part in the book for the characters. However, these two holidays are the misery of two distinct minority groups in the US. The Native Americans and the African Americans; two groups which are not mentioned in the book. Some people can even see this situation as Quran 94:5-6. Allahu alim.

Rating: 4/5

  • Unexpected Friends

Summary: Saying goodbye is never easy.

During their long friendship, Cornelia Parish had been the bane of Irwin Abernathy’s existence. Forever minding his business and trying to run his life. But even in death, Cornelia seems determined to make sure her best friend––former librarian, current bookshop owner, and interminable grumpy curmudgeon––doesn’t spend the rest of his insufferable days alone.

Irwin is heartbroken. He loved Cornelia, and her death has left him shattered. But nothing––nothing–– could have ever prepared him for the estate attorney’s phone call on the day of her passing.

––A road trip? ––To deliver letters to four strangers? Across the entire country! What’s Cornelia up to now?

Despite the heartache, Irwin and the rest of Cornelia’s friends at the Abernathy & Crane Bookshop must pull it together –– if they expect to fulfill this last, unforeseen dying wish.

Unexpected Friends is a touching story that speaks to the power of friendship, the agony of loss, and the potential for healing when one, overcome with grief, bravely face their fears to embrace and welcome into their life true love again.

Thoughts: With book 3 of the Abernathy & Crane series, Abdulaziz makes the reader realize that relationships are always complicated. Behind snarky, snippy comments, and fun/annoying clap back banter, etc. of the characters, there is usually love hiding behind the tough exterior. Grief, domestic violence, the Vietnam war, anonymity, and healing are also touched upon. Here is a group of misfits who found each other and made their own family with the people who welcomed them with open arms and accepted the way they are. Mentions of Thor and food worship raised some eyebrows being a Muslim authored read but this is a good read overall. We have a bookish box for book 1 and book 2 of the series in our store . Check them out!

Rating: 4/5

  • More Thank Just a Pretty Face

Summary: Danyal Jilani doesn't lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he's funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn't approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal's longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect. When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man, a school-wide academic championship, it's the perfect opportunity to show everyone he's smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her...the more he learns from her...the more he cooks for her...the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face. In this young adult debut full of depth and heart, author Syed M. Masood will have readers laughing, sighing, tearing up, and shouting "YES!" at the top of their lungs.

Review: Danyal is not very big on salaat or at turning off blaspheming thoughts. However, he is a cute overconfident and hilarious idiot who is an excellent cook. Danyal is training to become a chef. He is also okay with his intense Muslim friend's mother taking credit for the food he caters to her parties. See, idiot. In parenthesis, women don't like men taking credit for their shit. Regardless, it happens. Anyway, Danyal has a good heart. Danyal is also "the middle way" because he has another male friend who is very lax about his practice of Islam. Way laid back than Danyal. This trio of friends clashes at one point because of their different point of views. We all have friends like that or have been at least if not all three of these personality types in our journey through Islam.

Futhermore, More Thank Just a Pretty Face discusses teenage sex scandals which are not new. However, the one depicted in this book is worth shining the light on. What happens to such girls when the scandal is documented on the web or in tight knit communities like ours where everyone knows everyone? Will such a girl ever find a husband or catch a break? Read to find out because More Thank Just a Pretty Face is a very hilarious tale.

Rating: 4/5

  • The Archer

Summary: In The Archer we meet Tetsuya, a man once famous for his prodigious gift with a bow and arrow but who has since retired from public life, and the boy who comes searching for him. The boy has many questions, and in answering them Tetsuya illustrates the way of the bow and the tenets of a meaningful life. Paulo Coelho's story suggests that living without a connection between action and soul cannot fulfill, that a life constricted by fear of rejection or failure is not a life worth living. Instead one must take risks, build courage, and embrace the unexpected journey fate has to offer. With the wisdom, generosity, simplicity, and grace that have made him an international best seller, Paulo Coelho provides the framework for a rewarding life: hard work, passion, purpose, thoughtfulness, the willingness to fail, and the urge to make a difference.

Review: This is a motivational self-help book disguised as a story. It stresses finding one's tribe, not giving up, seeking knowledge and remaining grounded and humble. In all,

The Bow is Life

The Archer is Man

The Arrow is the Intention

The Target is the Objective

The Archer makes a good inspirational read.

Rating: 4/5

Thank you for tuning in and reading. Dear Readers & Members, see you in Shaban 1442 AH 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 ! FOFKY'S 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. Masalam, The Fofky's Book Club

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