Rummanah Aasi

  Ramadan Mubarak! Ramadan officially begins for me on March 23, 2023. I am very excited to participate in the #RamadanReadathon hosted by the Muslim Readathon blog. The purpose of this readathon is to celebrate and support Muslim authors during the holy month of Ramadan. The readathon this year will be taking place between March 23 to April 21!

While there is a bingo card for the challenge, I wanted to broaden them up a bit. Like the previous years I've done this readathon, I divide my tbr pile in three big groups: Childrens/Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult. Once again my reading pile is quite ambitious, but hopefully I can fit these all in during Ramadan.

Childrens/Middle Grade

Mama Shami at the Bazaar by Mojdeh Hassani: It's market day for Samira and her grandma! The bazaar is crowded, but this sweet pair knows how to stick together in this silly picture book set in Iran.

Moon's Ramadan by Natasha Khan Kazi:  With radiant and welcoming art, this debut picture book and modern holiday classic captures the magic and meaning of one of the world's most joyful and important celebrations.

Journey of the Midnight Sun by Shazia Afzal: In 2010 a Winnipeg-based charity raised funds to build and ship a mosque to Inuvik, one of the most northern towns in Canada’s Arctic.

Nayra and the Djinn by Iasmin Omar Ata: In this coming-of-age graphic novel with a fantastical twist, Nayra Mansour, a Muslim American girl is helped on her journey to selfhood by a djinn.

Ahmed Aziz's Epic Year by Nina Hamza: An Indian Muslim #ownvoices debut about an underachiever who must start over in a new state with the help of three classic books.

Muhammad Najeb War Reporter by Muhammad Najem: A teenage boy risks his life to tell the truth in this gripping graphic memoir by youth activist Muhammad Najem and CNN producer Nora Neus.


The Love Match by Priyanka Taslim: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets Pride and Prejudice in this delightful and heartfelt rom-com about a Bangladeshi American teen whose meddling mother arranges a match to secure their family’s financial security—just as she’s falling in love with someone else.

Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim: The first book in an epic fantasy series for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal and Elizabeth Lim, set in an Arabian-inspired land. Raised to protect her nation from the monsters lurking in the sands, seventeen-year-old Imani must fight to find her brother whose betrayal is now their greatest threat.

The Next New Syrian Girl by Ream Shukairy: Furia meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter about the unlikely friendship between two very different Syrian girls, the pressures and expectations of the perfect Syrian daughter, and the repercussions of the Syrian Revolution both at home and abroad.

The Loophole by Naz Kutub: Your wish is granted! This YA debut is equal parts broken-hearted love story, epic myth retelling, and a world-journey romp to find home.

A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar: Adiba Jaigirdar gives Titanic an Ocean’s 8 makeover in a heist for a treasure aboard the infamous ship that sank in the Atlantic many years ago.


Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H: A queer hijabi Muslim immigrant survives her coming-of-age by drawing strength and hope from stories in the Quran in this daring, provocative, and radically hopeful memoir.

The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by S.K. Chakraborty: The bestselling author of The City of Brass, spins a new trilogy of magic and mayhem on the high seas in this tale of pirates and sorcerers, forbidden artifacts and ancient mysteries, in one woman’s determined quest to seize a final chance at glory—and write her own legend.

I Escaped a Chinese Internment Camp by Zumrat Duwat: This graphic novella recounts the true story of Zumrat Dawut, as originally published in the independent online news organization, Insider, through interviews conducted by Anthony Del Col and testimony given to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Shubeik Lubeik by Dena Muhammad: A brilliant and imaginative debut graphic novel that brings to life a fantastical Cairo where wishes are real. Author, illustrator, and translator Deena Mohamed presents a literary, feminist, Arab-centric graphic novel that marries magic and the socio-political realities of contemporary Egypt.

Roses, in the Mouth of  Lion by Bushra Rehman: An unforgettable story about female friendship and queer love in a Muslim-American community.

American Fever by Dur E Aziz Amina: A compelling and laugh-out-loud funny novel about adolescence, family, otherness, religion, the push-and-pull of home.

Best Friends by Kamila Shamsie: The moving and surprising story of a lifelong friendship and the forces that bring it to the breaking point.

Blackwater Falls by Ausma Zehanat Khan: Delving deep into racial tensions, and police corruption and violence, Blackwater Falls examines a series of crimes within the context of contemporary American politics with compassion and searing insight.
Rummanah Aasi
Description: Everyone in my family has killed someone. Some of us, the high achievers, have killed more than once. I'm not trying to be dramatic, but it is the truth. Some of us are good, others are bad, and some just unfortunate. I'm Ernest Cunningham. Call me Ern or Ernie. I wish I'd killed whoever decided our family reunion should be at a ski resort, but it's a little more complicated than that. Have I killed someone? Yes. I have. Who was it? Let's get started.

Review: Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone is probably one of the most hyped and talked about mystery debuts. It has a very catchy premise and is taking advantage of the popularity of Knives Out. I think your mileage for this book will be if you can tolerate the narrator Ern.
  Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone is a meta-mystery. Our narrator, Ern, is a self published author who earns his money swindling novice writers who want to be successful mystery writers. There are lots of discussion on the framework of a mystery, which cut in and out of the main story as Ern breaks down the fourth wall and talks directly to the reader. At first I found Ern's comments about mystery plot devices to be amusing and clever, but then it became tedious and actually quite condescending. I find myself able to digest a 'clever', fourth wall breaking mystery more tolerable as a TV show like PBS's Annika or as a voice-over narrator in a movie where a viewer might not get to see everything on screen. In other words there is a reason why that fourth wall is broken, but in this book it's just a gimmick and a way for the character/auhor? to remind you how clever he is. There is even a chapter and a half (I think it's like 14.5) in which the entire plot is summarized for you.
   When it comes to the actual mystery of the book, it was simply okay. It's a spin on the locked room or in this case ski resort with multiple characters who have multiple motives. Despite the adult language, it leans towards the cozy mystery side as the violence isn't graphic and it takes mostly off page. It's been a few weeks since I finished it and I can't recall any of the characters except for Ern. I don't think this is a series that I'll continue reading. I like a chewy mystery, but not one in which I'm meant to feel stupid and be beholden to the author's brilliance. 

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language. Most of the violence takes place off the page. Recommended for teens and adults. 

If you like this book try: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, Peter Diamond series by Peter Lovesey
Rummanah Aasi
 Maya J. Jenkins is bursting with questions: Will she get the MVP award at this year's soccer banquet?Who will win the big grill off between Daddy and Uncle J?When will she pass the swim test and get a green bracelet?For answers and a dose of good luck, 12-year-old Maya turns to her Wheel of Fortunes, a cardboard circle covered with the small slips of wisdom she's collected from fortune cookies.
      But can the fortunes answer her deep-down questions? The ones she's too scared to ask out loud? Like, where did Mama's smile go, the real one that lit up everything around her? When will Daddy move back home? And most of all, does she have enough courage to truly listen to the voice in her heart?

Review: Maya "MJ" Jenkins is a flautist, a soccer player, and a collector of fortune-cookie fortunes. Lately, she feels like she has to play her flute in secret while pursuing to be a Charger soccer player, a team which her father played as a young boy. Her dad loves soccer and instead of disappointing him, she decides to go into her "quiet mode" so that she can recenter herself and engage with the music. She also seeks advice from a wheel that she has created out of fortune cookie strips that she saves from her family's "Fried Rice Fridays."
  Unexpectedly, MJ's world is turned upside down when her parents announce that they will be doing a trial separation. While MJ knew her parents had "whisper-fighting" for months, she didn't anticipate this. Naturally, MJ feels betrayed and isolated. Her mood worsens when her best friend is chosen as the soccer team's MVP instead of Maya. 
   The Many Fortunes of Maya gives a realistic slice of life of a tween who is trying to navigate her parents tension, learn how to choose what's best for her without feeling like she is letting her parents down, and deal with changing friendship dynamics. Each of these themes are handled carefully, delicately, and realistically. I found each chapter opening to a fortune cookie saying to be fun and I thought they complemented the story and MJ's emotional compass quite well, but not necessarily in the ways she had anticipated. While I really enjoyed the sections where MJ was emotionally vulnerable and open with her parents, I would have liked more of those scenes. I would also have liked for the book to be a bit longer so we can further develop MJ's relationship with her parents on a one on one basis. Overall MJ's story ends on a hopeful note and I'm sure many young readers will enjoy it.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 3 and up.

If you like this book try: The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill, See You on a Starry Night by Lisa Schroeder
Rummanah Aasi
 College freshman Andie is used to fixing other people's problems, but when her seemingly perfect plan for her future starts to crumble, Andie struggles to fix them and learns that the best-laid plans are not necessarily the right one.

Review: There are not many young adult books that talk about the freshmen experience of college. While categorized as a romance, I think readers of that genre will be disappointed as the book really is a coming of age story with a romantic subplot. 
   Andie has always aspired to study psychology and attend Blue Ridge State. Since the death of her mother who had an illustrious college experience at Blue Ridge State and pioneered the college radio's program, Andie's goal had been set, but was unfortunately it was derailed when she put her boyfriends needs ahead of her own. After she’s rejected, though, she attends Little Fells Community College while her boyfriend, Connor, heads off to Blue Ridge. When she’s given the opportunity to transfer, she keeps the good news secret from Connor, hoping to surprise him; however, upon arriving at Blue Ridge, she learns that Connor has transferred to Little Fells to be near her. 
   Alone in an unfamiliar place, Andie’s has a lot on her plate: figure out how to maintain a long distance relationship with Connor, create a social circle of her own, pass a difficult statistics class, and of course meet her parents' expectations of success. In a slice of life format, we begin to learn more about Andie as she reveals her gift/flaw in wanting to make people happy. A natural people pleaser, Andie put other people's needs ahead of her own. It is her way to keep people near her. When her relationship with Connor comes to a crossroad, Andie has to decide what does she want out of her college experience?
    Begin Again reminded a lot of the television show Felicity, starring Kerri Russell in which Felicity makes the impulsive decision to follow her crush Ben and attend a fictional NYU instead of continuing her journey to medical school at a university in California. What starts as a stereotypical romance leads to a story of self discovery. Andie follows a similar path. Through ups and downs, Andie does make a circle of friends who she cares about and who equally care about her. She comes into contact with her perpetually sleep-deprived RA named Milo, whom she shares similarities with and slowly starts a slow burn romance. Despite all of these subplots, the focus on Andie never wavers and I found her first year college experience to be relatable and realistic. I also really liked the subplot featuring Andie's queer friends who also have a sweet romance. While this is a worthwhile read, fans looking exclusively for romance will be disappointed and/or bored. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, the main characters have lost a parent (one due to cancer and another a car accident), and mentions of underage drinking. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Study Break edited by Aashna Avachat, This is Not a Personal Statement by Tracy Badua 
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