Book Recommendations

Diverse Retellings You Need to Read

I love retellings and the last few years we have been getting some amazing diverse retellings and my heart feels so happy. I thought I would share the ones I’ve read and loved because I know lots of other people also love retellings.

So here are some of my favourite ones:

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – This is one of my favourite books ever! A modern Pride and Prejudice retelling with Muslim characters! It is hilarious and touches upon some really important issues too.

Thorn by Intisar Khanani – I loved this character driven retelling of The Goose Girl. It had wonderful discussions about self worth and being true to yourself.

More to the Story by Hena Khan – This is a beautiful modern middle grade retelling of Little Women with Muslim characters and set in America.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi – Another modern Pride and Prejudice retelling which had it’s own unique twists which made it fresh and unique.

Cinderella and the Glass Ceiling by Laura Lane & Ellen Haun – A short story collections where different fairytales are retold. There was a mix of stories some which I loved more than others.

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi – A hades and Persephone retelling which is written so beautifully and immerses you into the world.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – One of my all time favourite books and a retelling of 1001 Arabian Nights. Beautiful writing and full of Persian culture and a wonderful seductive story.

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C Dao – A Snow White retelling with some unique twists and where Snow White must go on a quest to save her kingdom.

Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavours by Sonali Dev – A really unique retelling of Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth and Darcy’s characters are swapped. This was so much fun!

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon – A modern beauty and the beast retelling set at a boarding school and my favourite BatB retlling I’ve read!

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury – An Aladdin retelling but the genie is a young woman and it’s also told from the point of view of the genie! I really enjoyed this book.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston – A modern nerdy Cinderella retelling partly set at a comiccon and I highly recommend this whole series which are all retellings and perfect for all book nerds!

I know there are lots more retellings but these are some of my favourites. Share some of yours in the comments so we can find some new recommendations!

Adult Books, Fiction Books

Angel Mage by Garth Nix – ARC Review

Thank you Gollancz for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.
A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.
Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.
But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.
The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

I have been told by many people to read Garth Nix books and I’m glad I finally did as I really enjoyed it. This story is inspired by The Three Musketeers, except there is four in this book and there are angels and angel mages! I know this book is a standalone, but I really hope we get more in this world especially as the ending was left pretty open and I need answers!

The story begins with Lilliath and we see how powerful she is and how she uses her beauty to her advantage, often to hide just how powerful she is. She is volatile yet has learnt to get people to trust her. She is unapologetic in her ambition and ruthless in her quest to achieve her goals. She is cunning and manipulative and is able to manipulate even the most powerful people into achieving her goals.

And not only do we have a powerful villain who’s a woman but also women in power in all areas in this world! I really loved that women are positions of power in the book and it wasn’t an issue, men didn’t make sexist comments or try to take their power. It was just really nice to see that as the norm in the book. The characters are all diverse and it was really great to see that as a norm too. There wasn’t any racism or discrimination because of someone’s skin colour and it was just so refreshing to read.

I really loved the four main characters, they were different from each other and had distinct personalities. I really loved their friendship and sibling relationship. It was really great to see them all bickering and the banter like siblings would do.

This book has really great world building and while it was a little slow at the beginning there was still lots happening throughout the book but the ending was definitely more action packed. There is so much mystery about Liliath’s plan and what happened in Ystara all those years ago to cause the Ash Plague. We don’t find out until the very end where all the information we are slowly told throughout the book when all it all comes together. It kept me on the edge of my seat as I needed to know why everything was happening.

I’m really glad I was able to read this book and I will definitely be picking up more of Garth Nix’s books!

Fiction Books, YA Books

Romanov by Nadine Brandes – Book Review

The history of the Romanov’s has always fascinated me, most likely because of the film which I adore. So when I heard that there would be an Anastasia retelling I was super excited! And I really enjoyed reading the book!


Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The history books say I died.
They don’t know the half of it.
Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.
Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.
That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other

The story starts when the Romanov’s have been exiled and the last few months before they were executed. I already knew the history so I knew what would eventually happen to them and Nadine made me fall in love with her characters so it was really intense to read the first half of the story.

We see the story unfold from the point of view of Anastasia which was interesting to see as we get a different viewpoint than one that I normally see. We see her father’s abdication, exile and how the media overage looked from her point of view. She sees her father as a strong leader which is quite different to what history remembers him as. It made them more real past the history facts we know.

I spent the first half of the book on the edge of my seat knowing what was coming and yet it still devastated me. It was so much worse than I thought it would be and I really felt for Anastasia and Alexei.

I really loved how magic was woven into the story and how it affected what happens and was used as a way to explain how Anastasia could have survived. She was such a great character to read. She is feisty and outspoken and smart but she was also afraid and sometimes impatient. Alexei was another favourite character of mine, I really loved how his health conditions were part of him yet he still persevered despite all the struggles he went through.

I liked how the romance between Zash and Anastasia was slow and they were both hesitant as they were supposed to be enemies. It was left open ended too so we don’t know what exactly happened yet they were together. Even though we now know that no-one survived, it was still nice to imagine her finding a new life.

I just wish we had a little more in the ending, I just wanted more details and felt that it was a little rushed and I really wish we could have seen things from Zash’s point of view!

I think it would have brought more depth to the story seeing both sides of history.
Overall I really enjoyed reading this book! The way Nadine wove Anastasia’s story with magic was wonderful to read!

“It takes more strength and courage to forgive than it does to enact revenge”

Top 5 Wednesdays

Top 5 Wednesdays – Classics I Wish Had Modern Adaptations

Hey booknerds! It’s another Top 5 Wednesday post! This is hosted by Sam over on Thoughts on Tomes where you share you top 5 for the chosen topic for that week. You can check out each weeks topic over on Goodreads.

This weeks topic is classics I wish had modern adaptations.

So these are classics that I love but I don’t’ think have any modern retellings yet and I think it would be really interesting to see modern retellings of these and what would change or stay the same to make the story work.

1 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – I adore this book and though it seems a really popular book I don’t think I’ve seen a modern adaptation of it

2 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – I wonder what this book would be like if it was set in modern times. The addition of social media would definitely add more complexities into the story I think

3 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – This story was one of my favourites when I was younger and I would love to see what it would be like in modern day

4 Macbeth by William Shakespeare – This is one of my favourite Shakespeare stories and I would love to see a modern adaptation of it

5 The Time Machine by H.G. Wells – what would the time machine look like if it was created in the modern day? How would things be different? I would love to see it!

So these are the books I chose, let me know what you would want a modern retelling or adaptation of.

If you know any modern adaptations of these then do let me know!

Adult Books, Books by Muslim Authors, Fiction Books, Muslim Shelf Space

Ayesha at Last By Uzma Jalaluddin Book Review

As soon as I heard about Ayesha at Last I knew I needed to read it as soon as it was released! I was so sad to find that it won’t be released in the UK until next year! But having amazing friends through bookstagram, one of them living in Canada, she ordered it for me and sent it to me! I will forever be grateful to Gillian!

ayesha at last

Rating: 5/5

So this book is a modern Pride and Prejudice retelling with Muslim characters. So a book with Muslim rep and a retelling of my favourite classic ever in one book? You bet I was ridiculously excited about this!

And let me tell you, it is my new favourite book!

It’s taken me forever to write this review because I just don’t know how to convert my incoherent fangirling into a proper review! I have literally been screaming at everyone; JUST READ IT OKAY! YOU NEED TO READ IT!

So if you haven’t heard my screams, here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind.
Ayesha at Last is set in Toronto and follows the story of Ayesha and Khalid and the rest of the Indian Muslim community that live there.

When I started this book I was already giddy with excitement and by the end of the first chapter I was hooked! Unlike Pride and Prejudice we get to see Khalid’s (aka Darcy’s) point of view. I thought this was such a lovely change as I’ve always wanted to see things from Darcy’s point of view.

The first chapter ends with:

“Because while it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single Muslim man must be in want of a wife, there’s an even greater truth: To his Indian mother his own inclinations are of secondary importance.”

So as you can tell from the above quote, another thing that I loved was that there was references to Pride and Prejudice! I literally squealed when I read the lines and how they had been incorporated into the story! (basically I squealed a lot) I also loved how Shakespeare quotes were also incorporated into the story.

Even though the general storyline follows that of Pride and Prejudice, it has it’s own plot twists which make the story fresh and original and also has plenty of sub-plots which make the story even more interesting and incorporates a much wider story than just of Ayesha and Khalid.

I also loved the Muslim rep! There was a range of characters in all levels of faith and it felt so real and relatable. Ayesha is struggling over choosing what she wants to do over what she feels will make her family happy. Khalid wants to be able to practice his faith but he doesn’t have great people skills so he comes across as uptight. And we also get a glimpse of how culture and faith clash in differences in the youth wanting to follow their faith over their culture but still want to be able to fit in living in Canada. This was something I related to so much!

Also, the banter! There is actual banter between Ayesha and Khalid and it’s hilarious! I was literally giggling like crazy and the second hand embarrassment was just crazy. I loved how this made them so relatable and realistic.

Khalid is a conservative Muslim who dresses in thobes and a skullcap, believes in love after marriage and combined with his awkward social skills, he comes across as uptight and unapproachable, and as Ayesha describes him when she first meet him a “fundy” (fundamentalist). But as the story progresses we learn more about him and realise there is more to him than what meets the eye. He is in fact a romantic at heart and it’s his love for his religion that causes Ayesha to start falling in love with him.

Ayesha is an outspoken, independent, strong willed woman who is struggling between fulfilling her responsibilities to her family and following her own dreams. Khalid initially dismisses her as not being a good Muslim but as the story progresses he realises his mistake when he meets her again at the mosque. It’s her outspoken, confident personality that causes Khalid to fall for her.

I also loved the secondary characters from Ayesha’s grandparents to her best friend, Clara. Amir who worked with Khalid and these characters had their own sub-plots which made the story so much more interesting. It was all woven into each other so well and I was so invested into their story too!

Despite this being a contemporary romance there was a lot of deeper themes ranging from addiction, homelessness and islamophobia. There was also elements of the life of the Prophet (saw) which Clara learns and acts upon it at the end of the book. Amir initially comes across as someone who only lives to enjoy himself and have fun but then when we find out about his life we see there’s so much more to him. I thought the sub-plot of Khalid dealing with islamophobia in the workplace was done really well. It felt so realistic and I love how she showed how it all played out.

So this story is just such a wonderful blend of Austen and modern day life and the lives of Muslim youth living in the west. It’s hilarious and heartbreaking and there’s plenty of aww moments and the tension is built up perfectly which will keep you on the edge of your seat. And of course my new favourite OTP, Ayesha and Khalid!

There’s so much more I want to say but it’s really hard without spoilers! So I will leave it there and just end with YOU ALL NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!

If you have read it let me know what you thought!