ARC Review: When Dimple Met Rishi (Sandhya Menon) #DiverseReads

Format: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Advance Reader’s Copy

Blurb from Goodreads:

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Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

I would have to say for my experience that this debut is better than the second book. Let me tell you why!

We have a truly well written hero and heroin who are strong, passionate and family oriented. Both of them have high achieving dreams of their own to be successful in their respective fields. What I like about diverse books is they totally revolve around family and traditions. Family plays a crucial role in molding a person’s personality as a whole and I thank the author for highlighting it in her debut.

I find myself enjoying both POV from our two main characters, Dimple and Rishi. They have totally opposite opinions when it comes to making important decisions. In the story, they learn how to understand each other’s decisions and try to relate it with their own situations without disrespecting each other’s beliefs. At the end, both of them achieve what they want it life and developed the courage to try out new things.

I totally appreciate this book because it encourages me to do something that I have not done before it in life. There’s nothing to lose, right?

X

Sabrina

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Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

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Hi guys! I know I know, it has been a while since I wrote a book tag. I truly miss writing these fun tags as this can be a platform to collect my opinion on some books and to know my progress of the first part of the year!


1. Best book you’ve read this year?

There are a few that interest me. Dear Martin, Little Fires Everywhere and Broken Beautiful Hearts are my 5 star reads for this year. I cannot choose what is truly the best read, because they are equally good in their own ways!

I truly recommend these to all of you.

2. Best sequel you’ve read in 2018?

I have to say Always and Forever, Lara Jean is a perfect conclusion to the series of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. I can somehow relate to Lara Jean in some ways and that makes the story special for me.

3. New release you haven’t read yet but want to?

Children of Blood and Bone!! Oh my god I don’t know why I haven’t read this!! I need to read this pronto!

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

Wildcard, What If Its Us and also City of Ghosts! So excited to read Victoria Schwab’s new middle grade series soon!

5. Biggest disappointment?

From Twinkle, With Love disappoints me. I didn’t enjoy it that much because of the main character and also the bland plot :/

6. Biggest surprise?

I am surprised that I actually enjoyed reading The Belles! After reading not-so-good reviews on Goodreads, I truly decreased my expectation towards the book and the story turned out to be pretty good 🙂

7. Favorite new-to-you or debut author?

Nic Stone and Celeste Ng! I wish I can write like them!

8. Newest fictional crush?

Owen from Broken Beautiful Hearts. Such a perfect guy ❤

9. Newest favorite character?

Charlie Grant from Save the Date! I think she is living mirror of me. LOL

10. Book that made you cry?

There are no books that made me cry.

11. Book that made you happy?

Always and Forever, Lara Jean made me happy!!

12. Favorite book-to-film adaptation?

Love, Simon is pretty decent for a book-to-movie adaptation. Really looking forward for To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and also The Hate U Give movie!

13. Favorite post you have done this year?

I cannot choose! I have so many favourites!

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year?

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi!

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

I have to read 5 more books in order for me to complete my Goodreads reading challenge this year! I believe I can do more, I can reach at least 40 books by the end of August, I guess 🙂 I don’t know how you people can read until 200 books per year! :O You guys are a machine!


That’s it for my tag! Truly enjoyed answering all questions and I look forward to read more books for the second part of the year ❤ ❤ ❤

X

Sabrina

Review: Everything I Never Told You (Celeste Ng)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue – in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the centre of every party. But Lydia is under pressures that have nothing to do with growing up in 1970s small town Ohio. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, James is consumed by guilt and sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to make someone accountable, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is convinced that local bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest in the family – Hannah – who observes far more than anyone realises and who may be the only one who knows what really happened.

Everything I Never Told You is a gripping page-turner, about secrets, love, longing, lies and race.


RATING

4.2 STARS!

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I think that this is the hardest book ever to review, because it carries such complex and important issues, that I am scared that my review will not serve enough justice. I try to collect my thoughts, mental note some powerful themes that are worth to be highlighted.

This is not only the story of Chinese-American family losing their teenage daughter, it is the story of racism, sexism and the consequences of family drama.

The Lee family comprises of James and Marilyn, with their children, Nathan, Lydia and Hannah. Lydia, being the middle and trophy child, faces the challenge which is to fulfill her parents’ expectations – her mother’s ambition to graduate from medical school and fight the norms of male domination in science field and her father’s which is to have the popularity that he never had as a teenager. James and Marilyn focus all their attention to Lydia, while totally ignoring Nathan and Hannah. They are complacent towards Nathan and Hannah’s childhood, ambitions and needs. It seems like they want to perfectly mould Lydia to become their living expectation, creating a heavy pressure towards her. Lydia, being a Chinese does not give her the speciality to stand out among her peers, involve in social activities etc.

However, when Lydia is found dead, all of parents’ dreams crumble. At that point of time, the family’s past and doings are disentangled. We get to observe each characters’ past and background that gives an insight on who they truly are as a person and what has changed them prior to Lydia’s death.

I appreciate how Celeste Ng crafts the story by the way of  “Show, don’t tell.” The readers have the chance to comprehend and understand the meaning of the ending abstractly. I love how Ng tackles the issue of womanhood, sexism and race in the book. Marilyn faces confusion to either chase her dreams to become a doctor or to leave her family behind. She wants to be extraordinary compared to everybody else but at the same time she also wants to be a wonderful wife and mother. She also faces prejudice from her male colleagues because they think Marilyn is not worthy for higher education. James on the other hand, fights his inner demons. He is deep down embarrassed that he is different from anybody else just because he has different skin colour and his parents are only “workers in the school”, instead of working in an elite class. He longs for friends, love and popularity.

This book is dark, emotional and heavy to read. I, myself find it difficult to read some parts of the book, mainly because they are very uncomfortable to read. I feel for Lydia so much, the similar feeling when we know that we let our parents down. Some people are not born with talents that their parents possess, that when we fail to exceed their expectations, the failure seems unacceptable for them. The last chapter infers that there is hope and better days to come after a storm.

This story teaches me that after an life-changing incident, we must collect our thoughts and move forward for the sake of our family members, instead of dwelling of the past and what is lost.

X

Sabrina

 

Review: From Twinkle, With Love (Sandhya Menon) #DiverseReads

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Three starred reviews for this charming romantic comedy about an aspiring teen filmmaker who finds her voice and falls in love, from the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi.

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream comes true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily ever after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This is honestly my first time reading Sandhya Menon’s book. I push myself while reading this because I want to understand the hype of her debut, When Dimple Met Rishi. Unfortunately, I am not impressed by this story.

The main character, Twinkle is a bit unbearable to begin with. The fact that she is 16 years old, she does things stupidly sometimes. I simply cannot stand with her. The plot is pretty much bland, with so little sparks, specialty and surprises.

I don’t know guys, maybe I just have to take a break from reading contemporary novels like this because mostly YA contemporaries follow the similar, cliché and repetitive endings. Like any teen, Twinkle faces parental expectations, peer pressure problems and also puppy love.

Apart from that, Twinkle is an aspiring Indian-American filmmaker who dreams high and wishes to pursue her career in film industry. She writes a series of “dear diary” to her respective idols who are her favourite female filmmakers. She is passionate in doing what she loves and protective when people criticises and demotivates her work.

From Twinkle, With Love has such important and remarkable points and issues for younger audiences to learn about. I think I will appreciate this better, when I read this in the right time and space.

I will love to give other Sandhya Menon’s book a try so, I look forward to read When Dimple Met Rishi next time!

X

Sabrina

 

 

Review: Save the Date (Morgan Matson)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.


RATING

4.5 STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This is my most anticipated 2018 book release! I have said this thousands of times already, but Morgan Matson is my favourite contemporary author ever. She has a knack and speciality in capturing young adult audiences in writing important themes such as family, friends and life. I truly love all of her works (except for Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, I haven’t read it yet). It is painful and depressing that I have finished reading this book because most probably I will have to wait for another more or less 2 years for her new release 😦

It has been a while since I read a fluffy yet amazing contemporary read like this and I forget that how fast I can finish these kinds of reads and later I will be so frustrated that the book has ended 😦 It is so amazing when a book can totally mesmerize you.

Morgan Matson has changed her style of writing, where she acknowledges and writes POC and LGBT characters in her books. She has improved a lot as a writer and that shows people evolve in their writing processes.

For each book she writes, she comes up with additional elements such as paragraphs of fictional stories created by the characters in her book, song playlists by the characters etc. In Save the Date, she comes up with a brilliant idea which is Grant Central Station, which is a comic strip created by the main character’s mom. The strip is basically a real life story based on the Grants’ family and friends. It is truly refreshing on how the comic strip depicts the life of the Grants.

The plot is totally fun and fast paced. I truly enjoy all of the chapters, because all of the dialogues and monologues are enjoyable and funny. I am amazed by the Grants perseverance in preparing for the wedding as they are so many things go wrong at the very last-minute and they handle that perfectly well.

Another part that I truly enjoy is that Morgan Matson writes characters who exist in the same universe, so often in her books we see cameos from her another books are making appearances. It is heartwarming to see Andie Walker and her writer-boyfriend, as well as Governor Walker in Save the Date. Amy from Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour also makes an appearance in the book, if I am not mistaken. I also love the Avengers references in the book as we just pass the phase of post-Avengers fever which is the Infinity War movie.

I love all of characters in Save the Date, however, I wish that there is a perfect closure for Charlie’s romance with her love interest. For the few last chapters are very emotional and heartbreaking, Morgan Matson ends the book with a perfect note. From what I could say is that the book will totally make a great movie!

X

Sabrina

Review: The Belles (Dhonielle Clayton) #DiverseReads

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.


RATING

3.5 STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Surprisingly, I do like this story. It is not the best YA fantasy published out there, but there are good essences that can be praised and the themes are also refreshing to the YA world.

There are a few aspects of ableist and also queerphobia in the book that I acknowledge.

To start off my review, the book is unapologetically thick! Like 400 pages thick! You can imagine how excruciating and painful it is to go through the first 200 pages of the book. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Longer books are usually prescribed with fantastic and well done world building. As soon as significant events happen, the plot improves its pace. I do start to worry when I am 80% finished with the book, because they are no major events happening and I am half confused on what is happening. Thankfully, most of my questions are answered. The ending resolves with a cliffhanger (AS ALWAYS IN YA BOOK SERIES, I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY, MAYBE THIS IS A MARKETING STRATEGY LOL).

Dhonielle Clayton did a well job in describing the details of the world, from the people to the food, fashion and setting. Even though, sometimes I do find that some details of the book are totally over explained and repetitive, some details are also left unexplained. I guess the author didn’t want us to know more about it and thought that it is not important to further explain it.

The world, I must say, is so vibrant and lavish. However, the people of Orléans are destined to be gray. In order to beautify themselves, they require the Belles to do job. The high and important people are often altered by the Belles, to satisfy and please the other parties.  The main character, Camellia and her sisters are trained throughout their whole lives to be the favourite Belle. This is a part which I find to be rather disturbing, because the people of Orléans value beauty by the physical appearances only. This makes me interested to read more about the world and its flaw. The reality is the people of Orléans are actually deep down hating themselves because they fail to appreciate and value true beauty, which is one’s heart.

“Be the best without trying to be better than the others.” 

This book reminds of Fairest, from The Lunar Chronicles series, where the vibe of royals and its politics are kind of similar to this story. The villain in this story is similar to the villain in The Lunar Chronicles. Her character development is on point and it makes me more interested in reading about her and whereabouts. The main character is ok and by far follows the standard YA protagonist scheme. There is a potential in developing such wonderful strong women bond, but the author has wasted her chance. For the supporting characters, sometimes I do feel like they are used as a plot device. I guess they can’t just write everyone as throughly as they could?

Overall, I am happy that I read this and cannot wait to read the sequel. March 2019, where you at? LOL

X

Sabrina

Review: Does My Head Look Big In This? (Randa Abdel-Fattah) #MuslimYA

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Blurb from Goodreads:

When sixteen-year-old Amal decides to wear the hijab full-time, her entire world changes, all because of a piece of cloth…

Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab full-time and everyone has a reaction. Her parents, her teachers, her friends, people on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is, even if it does make her a little different from everyone else.

Can she handle the taunts of “towel head,” the prejudice of her classmates, and still attract the cutest boy in school? Brilliantly funny and poignant, Randa Abdel-Fattah’s debut novel will strike a chord in all teenage readers, no matter what their beliefs.


RATING

3.5 STARS!

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

This is my first time reading a hijabi muslim YA story set in Australia. You have no idea how excited I was to read this. Finally I have something fictional to relate with 🙂

The main character is Amal, who decides to wear the hijab (scarf) full-time. She studies in a public school where she is the only Muslim student thus her parents are very worried upon the school’s reaction towards her change. As a 16-year-old girl living in Australia, her decision to wear hijab is a HUGE step as it is not easy to don it because people will always discriminate and judge you for your appearance.

Amal is very serious and passionate towards her dedication for her religion. It is refreshing and new to see young girls in YA books to be so open in discussing their faiths and beliefs. It shows that she is mature and open-minded enough to decide for herself without compromising. Wearing hijab is not a sign of oppression. It is the opposite of oppression. Hijab is the representation of freedom and love towards our Creator. 

Amal has undoubtedly the most charming and supportive parents ever. They are the nicest and welcoming people and I always feel warmed by their appearance. Amal’s parents are also educated and open-minded people thus it makes Amal being brought up in open-minded environment too.

I love Amal’s friendship dynamics. Her friends reactions on her decision to don the hijab are overall positive! They are excited to know and learn on why she wears the hijab. The book also portrays the impact of hijab women during the Bali bombings in Amal’s school and it shows that there is still discrimination and misconception towards Islam. This point of view is very important because terrorism has no religion. We cannot generalise others based on the actions of certain people. 

HUGE amount of diversity is shown in the book. Honestly I learn a lot about their culture and beliefs. How they interact and react to things. One of my favourite part of the novel is the relationship development between Amal and Mrs Vaselli (a Greek women next door to Amal’s house).

The other side of the book, we are shown with Leila’s story with her strict mother, who wants to marry Leila off with a rich guy who has the same origins as theirs. Her mother feels it is okay for her to do that because she has been raised like that. She thinks women are meant to stay at home and tend to their husbands only. I feel so sorry for Leila to have gone through that grey phase in her life. No women should ever be treated that way. I can assure you that this thing still happens in the modern times. As a member of the society, we can give moral support to those who face this adversity and pray that they will get through it easily.

For most part of the book, I feel like the characters are written in a Middle Grade way, not in YA. This is a bad thing for me because sometimes I feel bored and discourage to continue reading. They sounded so childish and immature at times. The book is also unapologetically long. I took 3 weeks just to finish this book as the plot is weak without any solid points.

I guess that not all stories are meant to have strong plotlines. Amal’s day-to-day life is after all her journey on discovering herself after she has donned the hijab. I believe there are young people out there who can relate to Amal’s spiritual journey.

X

Sabrina