Shaban 1441 Book Club Recap
Updated: Mar 28, 2020
Bismillahi ar-rahmani ar-rahim
Assalamu aleikum waramatulahi wabarakatuhu everyone!
Welcome to this month's book club edition. We have six books on the roster today. 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 Gatekeeper's Notebook
This book revolves around several interesting characters. We have Kalila Rahim who is a widow and a single mother facing mounting debt and contemplating several reputation breaking options to maintain her lifestyle. There is Melvin, an autistic young man who is a talented artist. He "paints" what he sees in his array of notebooks no-one pays attention to. If anyone knew the kind of evidence the young man knew and gathered over the years as a means of data self-processing, they would put a price on his head. Then, there is also Amara—the nosy, boundary violator, self-righteous Muslim, and jealous drama queen. It's a good thing that there is also Nafiza, the imam's wife who is just an exemplary Muslim; not pretending to be what she is not. Not all imams' wives are like her but Nafiza is "the real deal" as the author herself put it. Finally, there is Qasim, Amara's husband; an unscrupulous accountant... All these people additionally to the ones not mentioned here make life in their unassuming gated-community heart-stopping. They teach us real life lessons and open our eyes for instance about the benefits of planning a financial future for one's family, to tie one's camel and let Allah come to the rescue if things ever go sour. If you're interested in discussing this book a little deeper, let us know!
A Woman Is No Man
A Woman Is No Man unfolds upon several generations of Palestinian Arab-Americans. It reveals the hypocrisy of the fasiq; the one who wears the Islamic garment but follows its own cultural traditions over real Islam and doesn't even pray and even consumes haram substances. It also reveals a practice many people believe to be abolished; the killing of baby girls based upon the notion that they are and will be trouble. Isra, the main character, gave birth to four girls successively and upon another pregnancy, she doesn't believe she can take anymore emotional and physical abuse from her in-laws. So, she goes in a fit of exercise to subdue the unborn early on. Her own mother-in-law Farida has birthed several boys and several girls. And the fate of some of the girls she birthed haunts Farida daily until she can no longer hide her hideous secrets to her very perceptive and inquisitive grand-daughter; Isra's first daughter who trying to fend an arranged marriage and uncover the mystery around her parents' death stumbles on this jarring piece of information. On top of the cultural baggage aired in the book, the novel also delves on the lack of knowledge many men have about intimacy. You would think that it would be common knowledge in these days and age, but nope. Intimacy remains a painfully taboo subject inside the ummah. On our platform, we talk about it openly alhamdullilah. Many women are suffering in secret, and it's not fair to them that they be betrothed to clueless men who pounce on them like they are a piece of meat. If it wasn't still an issue, the author wouldn't have brought it up in her novel, and we wouldn't have made this space a safe haven to discuss such important and crucial topics.
Favorite Quotes :
- “Too often being happy means being passive or playing it safe. There's no skill required in happiness, no strength of character, nothing extraordinary. Its discontent that drives creation the most--passion, desire, defiance. Revolutions don't come from a place of happiness. If anything, I think it's sadness, or discontent at least, that's at the root of everything beautiful.”
- “She knew that the suffering of women started in the suffering of men, that the bondages of one became the bondages of the other.”
- “What’s meant for you will reach you even if it’s beneath two mountains, and what’s not meant for you won’t reach you even if it’s between your two lips.”
A Curse So Dark And Lonely (Cursebreakers #1)
Prince Rhen has been cursed by a witch. As a result, he tasked his royal guard Grey to cross over our dimension to snatch women that he will seduce to fall in love with him so he can break his curse. Royal Guard Grey snatches as many as over three hundreds women from our dimension to his parallel dimension until one night when Harper sees him preying on a young inebriated woman at a bar who leaves with him involuntarily. Harper interferes to help the dubious and unconscious girl. And in the mix, the intoxicated girl is left behind and Harper finds herself pulled in a world of magic without her consent. So begins the tale of the remix of Beauty and the Beast. The book is a mix magical realism, romance (Christian Grey Notes...), and Politics.
Quran 2:221 kept nagging at us with this story. The English translation of the verse doesn't do justice to the verse. The French verse is more accurate and closest to the Arabic version. Long story short, the verse states that one should not marry/court a creator/maker (male or female) of false gods regardless of their beauty. Why? Because it's simply dangerous to marry or court a person with feerasat (firasat.) They can bewitch you, and that's exactly what happens in this story here; a remake of Beauty and the Beast. Rhen is a Beast because he was a womanizer that lead on the wrong woman; an ashabu an-Naar (a companion of the fire, a witch, a shaytan.)
The Fantasy Genre indeed is hardly an escape from reality. It helps understand dunya which is an enjoyment of delusion...
Call Down The Hawk (Dreamer Trilogy #1)
Summary: The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.
And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.
Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.
Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.
Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .
Thoughts: Ronan Lynch looks human but he is not. He is a magical creature, and he has a boyfriend. Thus, we can perhaps overlook his sexual orientation. The author is a master writer and master storyteller. Even the description of simple acts and conversations pack a punch. Well done! One favorite thing mentioned in the book was the scary organization called Boudica. An organization that didn't take lightly men bullying women especially in the business setting. Ah, that's awesome. The book also discusses visionaries, art, an oppressing government, magical clones, the end of the world, etc. Above all, the book has a cool HP Series feel to it with a wizard and two sidekicks vanishing on a skateboard. That's the cliffhanger by the way. We look forward to reading Book II!
A Heart So Fierce And Broken (Cursebreakers #2)
In Book Two of the Cursebreakers Series, Royal Guard Grey finds out that he had royal blood and magic all along. While he had (or still has) a crush on Harper, he finds comforts in friending Lia Mara who strongly and without a doubt resembles the character of Merida in the animation Brave.
Loyalties are tested in this tome.
A Game of Thrones is reenacted.
Will Grey win against Rhen?
Will Harper fall in love with Rhen?
Will "Merida" be forced to rule as ruthlessly as her mother Karis Luran?
Will Lovers switch places?
Will siblings—Harper's brother: Jake, Grey's brother, Lia Mara's sister—forsake their blood for more power?
Only (Cursebreakers #3) will answer those questions for us. Stay tuned!
Only issue with this book: Why did Noah—the only Black Doctor in the mix had to be gay while carrying a Prophet's name? The same gay and black doctor theme played in The Bird King, too. That doctor wasn't African American. He was African, Senegalese to be precise. All Abrahamic religions are very specific on this sin... But that's the thing, we are all sinners...
Only By Your Touch
This book has been sitting in our bookshelf for several years. It revolves around the legacy of the Shoshone Native Americans, big city, and country folks. The discrimination Native Americans face is still a major concern in this country.
Summary: Determined to give her son, Jeremy, the childhood he deserves, Chloe Evans has left a tough past behind and is starting fresh in the charming resort town of Jack Pine, Oregon. But protecting Jeremy becomes a dicey proposition when he seeks out the most dangerous man in town, Ben Longtree, to heal his sick puppy. Chloe has been warned to stay away from Ben. But there's something about him, at once gentle and untamed, that intrigues her....
Long ago, Ben accepted his role as the town outcast. Rumored to have once killed a man, he lives in splendid isolation with his forgetful mother, secretly employing his skills as a veterinarian to heal the wounded wild animals that mysteriously come to him. Now Chloe's sunny warmth and brave tenacity arouse desire he has long deified. And although Ben is notorious for his healing touch, it is Chloe's hands ... and heart ... that have the power to save his battered soul.
Thoughts: The abuse of power that our law officials or community leaders often fall prey to are discussed here. The novel is deliciously sultry and arousing. Domestic violence, date rape, stalking, sexual harassment in the workplace, connecting with one's soul, embracing one's heritage are all touched upon. The book would have received a-five-star easily because of the writing and the diversity or inclusion of Native Americans in the writing canon. However, since we don't share or agree with shirk holidays, it is one star less.
Thank you for tuning in and reading.
Dear Readers & Members, see you in Ramadan 1441 AH insha'Allah.
Allahumma Ballighna Ramadan. Aameen.
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