Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – A book review

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – A book review

You all know how exciting it is for me to read a Pride and Prejudice retelling. Especially since I heard it was about Indians Muslims settled in Canada, I had wanted to check this one. So can we talk about Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin?

About the book

Cover Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Book Name: Ayesha At Last

Author: Uzma Jalaluddin

Genre: Fiction – Romance

Characters: Ayesha and Idris Shamsi, Khalid and Zareena Mirza, Farzana, Hafsa, Sheila, Clara,

Setting: Toronto, Ontario,  Canada

The plot

Ayesha Shamsi, a 27 year old aspiring poet, is on her first year as a substitute teacher in an attempt to pay off her family’s debt. Her extended family and the aunty brigade never stop reminding of her age and the fact that she doesn’t have a stream of ‘rishtas’ (marriage proposals) coming her way.

Neither Ayesha nor her mom are worried about her getting married right away but she is annoyed that her cousin Hafsa, whom Ayesha is overprotective about, is taking it too lightly. Hafsa enjoys getting marriage proposals and promises that she would not choose until she gets a hundred of them.

Khalid Mirza is conservative and quick to judgement, especially when it comes to fellow Muslims who are not as religious as he is. When a colleague introduce Ayesha to him in a bar, he quickly dismisses her.

What trouble befalls Hafsa and thus Ayesha when Khalid’s mother proposes the marriage between Hafsa and Khalid? Who ends up with whom form the rest of Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin.

My initial thoughts

Ayesha At Last is a modern day Pride and Prejudice with a bit of gender swap. It’s Khalid’s mother who acts like Mrs Bennett and all up in his business. I can relate some of the characters to the original but on the whole, you may not even realize it is a retelling (if you hadn’t known earlier).

I loved how South Asians and Muslims were not just a backdrop for the story, but their beliefs and customs were an integral part of Ayesha At Last. This is exactly why #OwnVoices matter. I was able to relate to their talks, language and family bonding well, as an Indian myself.

SPOILER While I love a good makeover, I don’t think Khalid should have had to change his appearance to appease the Islamophobics at his workplace and Ayesha. If we hate a woman changing herself to fit the society’s norms, shouldn’t we do the same for the guy?

What worked for me

  • I really liked that the characters were truly south Asian Muslim and not just a backdrop.
  • And kudos to the writer on keeping the narrative flow interesting without turning the explanations about the practices of the Muslims preachy or into a lesson.
  • I loved the author’s take on the different types of Islam followers and not harshly judging any of them (while her characters were having a hoot doing just that).

What may have been better

  • I wish Khalid didn’t have to change his appearance or behavior to fit into the western mold of normalcy.
  • Since there were many characters, we didn’t get the chance to delve into any other characters deeply. I am sure I would have loved to know more Amir or even Ayesha’s mother.

Bottom line

If you are craving for a good Muslim representation in a romance book, then Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin is a good choice. If you are a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice, you might be left wanting a bit more with Ayesha At Last, but still worth a read.

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Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – A book review

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – A book review

How religious are you and how interested were in God as a teen? Our experiences may vary and sometimes our family gets a huge say in these things. There are things that we all have in common and then there are some gaps. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo talks a lot about religion and faith in these lines. Let us get on to my review, shall we?

About the book

Cover Poet X Elizabeth Acevedo review

Book Name: The Poet X

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Characters: Xiomara and Xavier Batista, Caridad, Aman, Isabelle

Genre: Fiction – Romance, YA, Contemporary

Setting: Harlem, New YorkThe United States of America

The plot

With an emotionally distant and a super religious mother, Xiomara Batista, a young teen, feels all alone in her questioning life, religion, on being a woman and her changing body. And boys.

Her Twin brother, who is a closeted queer, seem to know what their parents want and doesn’t have any problem in just doing that. Even if he has to hide things from them. Of course, he doesn’t get picked at by their mother or have so many restrictions as Xio because he was a guy.

Her best friend Caridad, is what Xio’s parents want her to be like. Soft, religious and obedient. But sadly, Xio was born ready to be a fighter, a protector and a spitfire.

Honestly all Xio wants is to be a normal teenager. Wear sexy clothes, meet boys, have a boyfriend, and to be kissed, all of which are forbidden by her religious, controlling and guilt tripping mother.

And Xio has questions. And doesn’t have anyone to help her figure them out. No one except her notebook that she has filled her poetry. Another thing she has to hide from her mother.

What happens when Xio finally finds someone or something where she could just be? Why would her questioning be so frowned upon by the religion. Read The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo to know more.

My initial thoughts

Xio is a Dominican, twin, catholic, thick girl and a poet and the author makes sure that she stays true to all the identities – from what I hear. Even if I am not a part of those representations, I could still relate to her and her thought process.

As someone from a “religious but not super religious” family, where guilt tripping, blind faith, sexism and casteism are encouraged, I felt connected to Xio so much that I even forgot that we are not talking about the same religion. I suppose most religions have a lot in common.

Acevedo’s writing, especially the poetry, was so raw and vulnerable that I had to often take my eyes off the book and collect my thoughts, which rarely happens.

If you had not realized it by now, I loved Xio. I wish I were this brave and fierce as a teen myself. And that I was as body positive as she was and I hate that she had to undergo the catcalls, groping, ogling, leering and then be guilt tripped by her mother.

Things that worked for me

  • I loved Acevedo’s writing. LOVED.
  • Xio’s questions about religion and women are so spot on, that she may have picked them from own teen dairy.
  • I love the way the author built real, relatable characters. Xavier, Aman and even Caridad and of course, Xio.

Things that didn’t work for me

I wish I got to know more about Caridad, Xavier and even Aman, for that matter.


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is a contemporary romance that focuses very less on romance. Written in a verse format The Poet X doesn’t shy away from intense themes like religion, women in religion, puberty, body positivism, and parental control. Good recommendation, even if you are not into Young Adult books.

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Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – A book review

Joy luck club, The – A book review

I reading about China in The Joy luck club last year without knowing that I would be spending a month in Macau (a country that is still a part of Chinese government) soon after I finished it! Has this ever happened to you? So how did it fare on my chart? Let us find out.

About the Joy luck club

elgeewrites Joy luck club, The - A book review Joy luck club

Book Name: The Joy luck club

Author: Amy Tan

Genre: Fiction –  HistoricalDrama

Characters: Jing-mei (June) Woo, Suyuan Woo, An-mei Hsu, Rose Hsu Jordan, Lindo Jong, Waverly Jong, Ying-ying St. Clair, and Lena St. Clair

Setting: San Francisco, The United States of America and China

Plot Summary of the Joy luck club

Following her mother’s death (Suyuan Woo), Jing-mei (June) Woo replaces her in the monthly Mah jong game. Suyuan and her friends started this tradition years ago when they moved into San Francisco as way to keep in touch with their Chinese culture and history. Through the years, the four mothers share their festivals, their daughters’ birthdays and achievements during the game.

While the mothers tried to preserve the culture, their daughters chase the American dream and lifestyle. They do not have the patience or interest in knowing their mother’s history and they scoff at the Chinese superstitions. Despite living under the same roof for years, the mothers and daughters live a life separated by their culture and life experiences. 

The harder their mothers are on them, the harder the daughters rebel in their own way, without realizing unwittingly they are following their mothers’ path. They also are quick to leave behind their Chinese culture just like their mothers had. 

During their game, Jing-mei finds out that just before her death Suyuan had traced her two other daughters that she had to leave behind during the World war II. And her mother’s friends urge her to take her mother’s journey to meet her long lost relatives who are still in China. Did she take that journey and find her sisters forms the rest of the story in The Joy luck club.

Book review of the Joy luck club

The Joy luck club is one of those classic cult hit when it was released in 1989. While it does feel a little bit dated, her major themes on mother- daughter relationship and generational gaps, especially between the first and second generational Chinese-Americans still holds good. 

The Joy luck club contains sixteen short stories narrated by four Chinese born mothers and their respective daughters who make it a point not to learn Chinese over half a century! While it was fun to try to read this structure, the truth was it was a little difficult to remember all the secondary characters. 

I loved how the daughters who scoffed at their mothers and their traditions in their childhood and well into their marriages, turn around as they mature and even get closer to them. And how their mothers in turn, learn to adapt into their new roles over the years. To be honest, The Joy luck club made me stop a moment and examine my own relationship with my mother. 

Things that worked for me

  • I loved the friendship/co-dependency between the mothers.
  • The stories about the mothers before coming to the USA were haunting and so historically rich. I loved them.

Things that didn’t work for me

  • Did the author somehow help the strict, cold Asian mothers and absentee Asian fathers stereotypes?  (UPDATE: upon reading other reviews -YES SHE DID, AND FACED A SEVERE BACKLASH)
  • I wish the book’s structure was a bit easier to follow through.

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The Joy Luck Club is culturally and historically rich, even though it plays a bit to the stereotypes or even went to setting those stereotypes in the first place. If you are looking for a literary / historical fiction The Joy luck club by Amy Tan is a good choice. 

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Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – A book review

Book review: Very Large Expanse of Sea, A

I just realized it has been a while since I reviewed a romance book and I am here today to rectify that situation. I picked up A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi with a similar motive.

That and the fact that about three billion of fellow book bloggers and bookstagrammers decided to fall in love with this book. So let us see how this works out right?

About the book

elgeewrites Book review: Very Large Expanse of Sea, A Very large

Book Name: A Very Large Expanse of Sea

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Genre: Fiction – Romance, YA

Characters: Shirin, Navid, Ocean James 

Setting: The United States of America

The plot

Set in the year immediately following the 9/11, Shirin is a sixteen year old who got caught among the fear, prejudice and consequent Islamophobia prevalent in the general society in the USA. 

She is used to her father’s frequent job transfers and having to switch schools, meet new people often but she is also used to the cold stares, racists comments and some times even physical violence. She accepts that as a part of her life, a consequence of her religion and her hijab that she choose to wear.  

Shirin didn’t expect anything different at her new school. When her brother Navid decides to start a break dancing troop her life suddenly wasn’t that bad anymore. 

Then she met Ocean James, the school’s golden boy, who wants to befriend her even when she tries to push him away. What was worse is she seems to like him as well. Can these two get a normal high school life when the whole world is spewing hatred at her? Read A Very Large Expanse of Sea to know more. 

My initial thoughts

Once I picked this book, I stayed up to 3 AM to finish it because I didn’t wanna set it down. The cute romance was so adorable that I wanted them to have a positive ending. I hated those who hated them and wanted to harm them. They were so good together, you know? 

I loved Navid, his friends and Shirin’s parents. Seeing an Iranian Muslim family that had to navigate in the post 9/11 USA was heartbreaking and this being an #ownvoice story, made me wonder how many more were still under pressure because of their beliefs and religion. 

But at the end of the day it is a Young Adult romance, diverse representation is only a part of it. So do not pick the book with the hopes of getting more than that. 

Things that worked for me

  • I loved the Romance and the leads were adorable.
  • The representation was on point and the characters were fully developed
  • I heard this is not Tahereh Mafi’s usual style of writing, but I liked it anyway.

Things that didn’t work for me

I loved their parents but they were around for just a few scenes, I wish there were more.


I loved reading A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi. I will continue reading Tahereh Mafi’s other series. If you are looking for a Young Adult romance with a Muslim representation then A Very Large Expanse of Sea should be your pick.

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Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – A book review

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows: A Book Review

I read Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal before it took the book world by a storm. Ok not the book world, at least the book blogger community loved and everyone who read it raved it. But how did it fare on my scale? Let us get on to the review!

About Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows


Book Name: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Author: Balli Kaur Jaswal

Genre: Fiction – Romance, Drama

Characters: Nikki, Kulwinder, Jason, Mindi, Olive,

Setting: Southall, London, the UK

Plot Summary of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Meet Nikki, a law school dropout, is trying to make her try at being independent after she finally got out of her over-bearing immigrant mother’s house. She tries to distance herself from her Sikh community, that is too traditional and sexist for her liking. Impetuously, she signs up to teach a Creative English course for the widows of her Punjabi community to earn some quick bucks.

A gross miscommunication leads to her teaching basic English to the lonely widows and most of them turn out to be illiterates. During the classes Nikki realizes these women are much more interested in oral story telling, especially erotic ones.

While the traditional Sikh community considers this as a scandalous act, especially for widows to be involved in, the women (with Nikki’s help) continue their lessons. They try and keep it a secret from the ‘Brotherhood’, a self appointed moral police team, who take it upon themselves to protect the virtue of the woman in their clan.

There is another much more interesting sub plot involving another younger woman who had ‘committed suicide’ after disagreeing with her husband’s way of living and was generally ‘too modern’.

Did the Brotherhood have a hand in her death? Does Nikki’s attempt to bring in empowerment to these widows through erotica meet with the same hatred? You will have to read the Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows on your own to find the answers.

Book review of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is one of the most ‘un-put-down-able’ book I read so far this year. I read through it fast and still couldn’t get to the last page quick enough. I needed to know the answers right then and there. But sensibility prevailed and I didn’t peek into the last page to find the answers. The writing was crisp and fast paced.

Yes there are some ‘erotic stories in them but they are written tastefully (is that correct word here?) and not cringe worthy at all. But if you do not wish to read them, you can skip them and it will not hinder the flow of the novel at all.

It has been a while since I loved the side characters and Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows has a bunch of well written and quirky characters.

While I didn’t like Nikki’s holier-than-thou attitude, I was able to relate to her at some point (or did I?) coming from a desi background and all. She reminded of the small sexist things that we do because our tradition demands it and how hapless women who can’t and won’t fight against them are.

Also I was reminded me of the BBC’s sitcom ‘Citizen Khan’ and I am definitely gonna watch them again in a bit.

What worked for me

  • I loved the narrative pace and it kept me on my toes until the end. Truly un-put-downable!
  • Kudos to the author in keeping the erotic stories in taste and yet interesting.
  • I loved the well written and memorable characters.

What may have been better

  • I felt Nikki was a bit annoying and judgmental, at least in the beginning.

Bottom line

If you are looking for something light and funny, or something that might make think about thoughtful or erotic, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows will fit your bill either way. The book is funny. It is fast paced. It talks about woman empowerment. It has it all. Read it already, I say.

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Have you Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal? Do you like books that might hit a little close to your home? What was the most unputdownable book you read this year? Let me know. We should dish!