Monday, January 18, 2016
Author: Papatia Feauxzar
Publisher: Djarabi Kitabs Publishing, December 11, 2015
The world is coming to an end and Hanifa Ducktrinor can feel it. The Seculars rule the world and keeping the sunnah and the deen intact become a challenge then. Hanifa, the cadet of the Ducktrinor family, is a courageous young Muslim living in a time where practicing her religion is really hard. She wants to be the courageous educated coreishy woman she dreams of every day.
Hanifa also wants to find the people of the cave and fights alongside with them, Jesus (Issa-aleihi salam), and Mahdi with the vouching cloud when the cave opens and the prediction about Yajud and Majud (Gog and Magog) will occur.
One thing I appreciate about thisbook is that it takes a young Muslim girl and makes her the hero of the story. While Hanifa was not my favorite character in the Ducktrinors, she had quite a few moments where I rooted and cheered for her. I loved the sci-fi/fantasy appeal. There is not much fiction authored by Muslims in this genre. I know of two really good Muslim authors who have taken on this genre with quite a bit of success. So I am glad Papatia Feauxzar has given this genre her attention.
In the story Hanifa is a smart girl, strong-willed, adventurous and dedicated to her dreams of being a courageous Coreishy woman. But for all her good qualities, she is often rash, quick to act and makes some really dumb mistakes that causes trouble for her and her family. But again, she stands for what she believes and she believes it is time to fight the oppression that is the Seculars. She meets a friend the first day that sort of helps her get around and learn the ropes of her school and who to avoid, only she keeps running into trouble, aka, Silas, an authoritative figure at the school. She meets a few other Muslim (on the low) at the campus and starts recruiting her army. Once her army is trained and she has been outed as a Muslim, she has no choice but to take the battle to the Seculars. She sets in motion everything she has dreamed of, fighting the Seculars and going in search of the cave dwellers.
The author did a great job incorporating religious knowledge, fantasy and futuristic world-building. The plot was good but there were times when things got a little confusing and hard to keep up with. There was quite a bit of info dumping at times. I would have loved for the author to have showed a lot more than tell what was going on. There were quite a few editing errors for my liking (I do realize that editors don't always get them all but hopefully the second edition will catch them.)
Overall, it was a good read. I enjoyed meeting the characters Dawood and Ali, as well as Hanifa's siblings. I loved her grandfather and hope she reunites with her family. Despite some of its flaws, I could not stop reading The Ducktrinors, I just had to see if this young leader would finally defeat Silas and the Seculars or if she was biting off more than she could chew.
About the Author:
Papatia Feauxzar is a work-in-progress married Muslim woman. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her son and husband. Alhamdullilah, she is a proud mother. Her goal is to serve Allah first and foremost. Above all, she is annoyingly always in a good mood ;).
Visit her djarabikitabs.com or at papatia.wordpress.com
Monday, July 20, 2015
Today's interview is with Sadia Faruqi, the author of Brick Walls: Tales of Hope and Courage from Pakistan. Ms Faruqi writes fiction, teaches cultural sensitivity, blogs about religion, and organizes interfaith events. You can learn more about Faruqi on her website: www.saadiafaruqi.com
Can tell us a little bit about yourself and your book Brick Walls?
I am a Pakistani American writer, speaker and interfaith activist residing in Houston, TX with my husband and two young children by the grace of God. Professionally I am a grant writer, and by vocation I am an interfaith organizer, speaking about interfaith and Islamic issues at a variety of venues in the Greater Houston area. In 2009 I published a research-based book on grant seeking, and for the last decade or so I’ve been writing non-fiction about cultural and religious issues. Only recently did I somehow get the urge to write fiction, hence my debut fiction title “Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan.”
Brick Walls is a collection of short stories based in my birth country of Pakistan. It is a fictional account of characters living in Pakistan, but the situations they find themselves in are very real. Each story in the collection focuses on a specific obstacle the characters find in front of them – be it poverty, terrorism, gender discrimination, police harassment, political turmoil, ageism, and so on. These are the brick walls the characters face, and the stories are about how they deal with these walls. It is a unique look into the everyday lives of Pakistanis, and how they deal with the problems they face.
What was the inspiration behind the book?
During my training, when I would speak about Islam or interfaith topics, I would often be asked about my life in Pakistan. Americans know a lot about Pakistan thanks to the news, but most of that information is very biased. They read about bombs and terrorists and violence, but they never see the beauty and charm of Pakistani culture. All these questions made me realized that a depiction of Pakistani life was much-needed here, and that readers would be very interested in learning more about the daily accomplishments and struggles of the Pakistani people. So I decided to write a fictional account based on the reality of that country.
Highlight some of your achievements and challenges while working on Brick Walls.
My biggest challenge was to decide which topics or themes to write about. I wanted to show a wide variety of situations that Pakistanis undergo, but I didn’t want to go overboard. So I had to choose very carefully which issues I would write about, and which to leave out. I also wanted to make sure I included a variety of characters, male, female, young, old, rich, poor. My biggest achievement I think was being able to find the correct mix of characters and story lines that really make the book all-rounded without being overwhelming or preachy. I have received wonderful feedback about this aspect of the book and how it appeals to so many different readers.
Describe your writing style in ten words.
Writing stories of cultural importance in a conversational literary style.
Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Engaging, dedicated, passionate, informal, and thoughtful.
Thank you so much, Ms Faruqi, for taking time out of your busy schedule and sharing your writing journey with us.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Title: Sandcastles & Snowmen
Author: Sahar El-Nadi
Publisher: FB Publishing, June 1, 2013
Summary: A reflective journey of one woman's search and rediscovery of her faith and spirituality.
Review: Click on the following link to read the review for Sandcastles & Snowmen
Giveaway: One copy of Sandcastles & Snowmen
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Saturday, May 23, 2015
Today's interview is with the author of Reclaim Your Heart, Yasmin Mogahed. She is a freelance writer and international speaker. She also hosts Serenity, her show on One Legacy Radio.
As Salaamu Alaikum and Welcome to the Muslim Authored Reads blog. Please tell us a little bit about your book, Reclaim Your Heart.
Reclaim Your Heart is a book about freeing the heart from the chains of worldly life. It talks about healing, about coping and about redemption.
What was the motivation behind writing Reclaim Your Heart
My own life experiences and the lessons I was learning along the way about love, loss, pain and God.
I had the wonderful opportunity to hear you read "I Prayed for Peace Today," at the Seattle IlmFest 2015. What inspired you to write that poem?
A very difficult personal challenge that I had no control to alter. It made me realize how powerless I really am, and that all power belongs to God.
Can you share with us your publishing journey? What were some of your greatest challenges and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge was finding the right publisher, as I faced an incident of attempted fraud during my initial search.
Do you have any other projects/books you are working on now?
My next project is a collection of my shorter quotes insha Allah.
Aside from being a motivational and inspirational writer, you are also an instructor for the AlMaghrib Institute? Can you give us a little information about the institute and your upcoming classes?
My class is entitled, "Transformed: Principles of Spiritual Development"
It is a full weekend course that delves deeply into the study of the heart and the relationship with the creator and with the creation. We study how rectifying our relationship with the creator, in turn rectifies our relationships with the creation. And vice versa.
When you are not busy writing or teaching classes or giving lectures, what do you like to do?
Spend quality time with the people I love. I enjoy deep conversation and really great humor.
Which of the poems in your book is your favorite and why?
I think it would be "I prayed for peace today" because of how raw that sentiment was.
And for our final question:
As I mentioned before, I attended the IlmFest conference in Seattle and the theme of the conference was Balance, balance in every aspect of our lives, Currently, we are seeing a lot of turmoil in Muslim communities, whether it is in the home, at work, school or with dealing with the public at large. If you had one piece of advice for the Ummah, to heal and grow from these struggles, what would it be?
Stay close to God, nourish your heart with His constant remembrance, and love Him more than anything else.
I would like to thank Ustadha Yasmin for taking time out of her busy schedule to share her book and insights with us. Find our review of Reclaim Your Heart here.
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Title: Sandcastles and Snowmen
Author: Sahar El-Nadi
Publisher: FB Publishing House, June 1, 2013
What makes a successful woman indifferent to her faith and what draws her back to it to see the world in new way? Why would a smart woman-of-the-world choose to be a practicing Muslim who voluntarily wears a headscarf, commits to praying five times a day and fasting a full month each year? And how does that decision affect her public life and her international work?
Sandcastles and Snowmen explores faith through the story of a woman on a personal journey to search for spirituality, leading her to reconnect with Islam in a new, global context in the turbulent post 9/11 world.
Sahar El-Nadi takes the open-minded reader on a true journey to explore and learn about Islam through her own spiritual journey of rediscovery. Born into an Egyptian Muslim family and culture, Sahar El-Nadi still went through a phase where religion was not the main focus of her life. Many young people go through this phase where they have to discover who they are individually and separate from their parent/heritage/cultural influences.
What I like most about this author is her ability to reach out and connect with the reader in a most respectful and culturally sensitive way. Sahar Nadi's approach of sharing her faith and spiritual journey was a natural conversation. Anyone from any faith can read her book and learn about Islam without feeling pressured, talked down to or admonished. She uses every available resource, recent academic research, Islamic studies, recent and historical events, and religious texts to validate her point of view without invalidating a different point of view. She challenges misconceptions and misperceptions about Islam giving the reader a balanced understanding of Islamic faith and practices.
I enjoyed reading about her personal, work and travel experiences as a modern day Muslim woman in her field, the road to her rediscovering Islam, and her personal desire to become a practicing Muslim. She covers a diverse range of topics including, religion, science, arts, culture, politics, current events and so much more.
About the Author:
Sahar El-Nadi is a writer, public speaker and instructor, on leadership, change, creativity, communication and cross-cultures. She is also the creator & director of award-winning initiative 'Don't Hate, Educate!' promoting diversity and tolerance.
To purchase Sahar’s book at Amazon, Click Here.
To visit the website for Sahar’s book go to Sandandsnow.info