It’s finally feeling like summer–we can tell because the air conditioner in the front of the store is a little broken (don’t worry, it’s getting fixed soon), and it’s been waaarm. Which has been making us all think longingly of the beach and the books we’d take with us to read there, lying in the sun and listening to the waves.
Here are a few of the titles we’d be cramming in our suitcases; maybe we’ll inspire you to pack one of them in yours!
Ayesha at Last, by Uzma Jalaluddin
Ayesha is a young woman that longs to write and perform her poetry but must earn money as a teacher to help contribute to her family. Khalid is a skilled by naive project manager whose devoutness to the Mosque and appearance contributes to some of his difficulties in navigating relationships. When they first meet, it’s instant dislike, but with a little help from friends, aunties, and uncles, they’ll learn love can grow in surprising ways.
Ayesha at Last is a fun read that is easily (and often) described as a modern-day Muslim version of Pride and Prejudice. It reads like a great summer romance but touches on deeper subjects like identity, family and the importance of a community. I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a book that is both familiar and different.
Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune, by Roselle Lim
This book was everything I needed in my life (at the moment) and more. I just couldn’t put it down and now that I have finished it I keep thinking about it….what a damn fine debut by Roselle Lim. This book is what would happen if Chocolat and any Alice Hoffman novel had a baby. It is beautiful, eye-opening, but above all it finds the magic in the everyday, mundane things that we as humans tend to forget. Lim opened my eyes anew to magic in the everyday.
When Natalie learns her mother dies from the song of a bird, she is afraid to head home. Her mother and she haven’t spoken in years and when she left home it was because her mother refused to bless her career path. As Natalie grieves her mother she begins to learn that her mother wasn’t quite who she seemed and that her grandmother was a strong pillar of the community–something Natalie’s mother kept from her. Determined to fulfill her lifelong dream of opening a restaurant, Natalie will embark on a quest of sorts; one that in order for her to succeed she must help the neighbors that she previously thought were against her.
A touching look at the mother daughter relationship (I cried in parts) and a lovely story that shows just much a community can gain when people strive to help one another rather than push each other away.
I admit I’ve only read the first book in this duology but if the second is anything like the first, it’s bound to rate this list. Prince Charming is…well, charming! Daisy is headstrong and free-spirited, but her sister is engaged to the crown prince of Scotland (yeah, Scotland has royals in this book, don’t think too hard about it), so even though she wants nothing to do with the spotlight, she gets shunted to a castle anyway. The prince’s younger brother is a scandal-magnet and his best friend Miles is a stuck-up noble who’s been instructed to show Daisy the ropes of being royal. And it’s possible that Daisy is falling for one of them, despite the tabloids and the shenanigans and the royal wedding.
It’s adorable and fun, full of great characters and hilarious hi-jinks. The second one–about the prince’s sister and her boarding school adventures–promises to be more adorable, more fun, and more gay, which automatically makes it high on my to-read list (also it’s enemies-to-lovers which everyone knows is the best romance trope after fake dating, so it’s got to be good!). Hawkins knows her history, too, and brings her knowledge of royalty to bear on her fun teen rom-com plots to make them feel real and intense in addition to the silliness. Prince Charming is a perfect blend of all the romantic tropes I adore, and it’s a guaranteed book to make me smile. I hope it makes you smile, too!
You can grab any or all of these books online by clicking their titles above.