Sunday, 3 December 2017

I Believe In A Thing Called Love - Maurene Goo; Review


Book Details:
Hardcover: 325 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc (30th May 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0374304041
ISBN-13: 978-0374304041

Summary:

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. 
That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. 

So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. 

Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

Links To Buy:




Rating:
Review:

Be still my beating heart. This book. Ok. THIS BOOK. WAS SO STINKING CUTE. High high praise, but this has to be one of, if not the, fav contemporary of mine this year (unless of course something even more awesomeballs comes along in the last month, you just never know). I loved this book so much, I laughed so hard and so often at nearly every page. Do you even know how many passages I highlighted as I snorted my way through? The whole book pretty much. I don’t even know where to start with this review, so many things. Such love, much wow. I mean truth be told, there were some small, very very smollllll things I didn’t like about the book, which of course I shall talk about, but this book fully warrants the 5 stars in my eyes for sheer enjoyability and laugh inducing moments. 

Reason 1 to love this book:
K Dramas. My best friend *Shaida, if you’re reading this, wag1 son* is absolutely obsessed with anything Korean. Through friendship osmosis, I’ve actually come to admire and love korean food, music, culture and even ventured into watching my first K Drama, Descendants of the Sun (so good, by the way). So imagine my ABSOLUTE thrill when I realise the main character in this book is Korean, and becomes equally obsessed with K Dramas? I’ve read a few books in which the main character is asian, and somehow it never really felt authentic in the same way Desi feels in this book, and the Korean culture as I have come to know it, felt really encapsulated in this book - from the way her Dad is, the way he acts, and his relationship with Desi, which I adored. 

Reason 2 to love this book: (yep this is fully going to be a list)
Desi’s character. Man oh man could I relate to this girl wholeheartedly. I am very much a plan-orientated, step by step person, always armed with a list, backup ideas, and iron willpower to achieve that end goal. I put very much the same effort into studying as Desi did, and I use that very dedicated will in achieving everything else in life. Have I ever used that mission plan in pursuing a boy and getting him to fall in love with me? NOPE *echoes loudly in the empty boyfriend chamber* but you best believe if I ever thought to, I would do it the same way Desi did. Observe a case study (in this case, Desi used Korean dramas and the romances in them), make notes on what was successful from that case, what was unsuccessful, curate those singular items into a step by step outline, relating to your own male species in mind and own circumstance. Then - execute. Monitor progress. (.. oh so nerdy and I LOVE it). 

Problematic instance 1: (but not enough reason to put off loving this book): 
However, where I draw the line and my gripe with this, was actually the extent to which Desi goes to, in achieving her mission. There are moments where she puts her safety and others safety on the line, simply to follow through on the steps to her plan - which despite this being a book, and one not to be taken too seriously or literally, I still couldn’t get on board with the antics, and feel alternative, safe and still equally funny events could have replaced those that were actually dangerous. Doesn’t matter if Desi is a girl and is using such means to achieve her ends, if you flip this and a guy was doing such things in pursuit of getting a girl - I would be shaking my head in the same vehement manner. In the K-Drama sense of it and the world it encapsulates, as said in the book itself, her behaviour may not seem as drastic, but looking at it in terms of the larger picture, and what this means for a contemporary novel as a whole - these elements shouldn’t be okay in the book. 

Problematic instance 2: (but  again, not enough reason to put off loving this book): 
Likewise, as much as I laughed and loved her dedication in making a plan, and again, this isn’t something to be taken seriously, but really and honestly, love and affection cannot be attained through making a plan and thinking following through those steps will get you what you want. Character, fate, the big cheese up above (aka God), and of course, the guy in question - is what determines whether he will fall for Desi or not - not the list and plan.

Back to reasons to love this book: 
So. The cover - hello gorgeous. This very much reminds me of Jenny Han’s, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series with the character on the front, the colour scheme and the font - but I really didn’t like Jenny Han’s series and much much prefer this book. I LOVED this book. So there’s that. Additional things that are currently pouring into my head from this book are as follows: refreshingly, the high school portrayed in this book isn’t a cliche pot of jocks vs nerds and the like. It reminded me a lot of my high school actually, where, yeah sure we had separate groups, the artsy crowd, the popular crowd, the nerdy ones - but like in most YA stories, it wasn’t war of the worlds when it came to these groups mixing, people just got along. I really liked that about this book - these teens just got on with life and school. Also. OH MY. The best thing about this book? (aside from ALL of it) is the use of the name Won Bin as a nickname. I died at this scene. I died a lot throughout this book actually, from just sheer enjoyment and laughter. The constant use of death threats. The ‘shit eating grin’ passage. The ‘cutie dum dum’ moment. The humour was dry, witty and sarcastic. My FAV kind and I full out enjoyed this book so much. 

I can’t wait to read more from this author. If there’s anything to take away from my ever-usual long and hefty rambling review, is that this is an adorable and HILARIOUS (hilarious x 2 to emphasise this point) book with lovely characters and a great story. Pick it up and be sure to thank me in the form of marshmallows delivered to my door. Cheerio. I shall leave you with some (and I don’t say that lightly, as I really had over 40 passages highlighted of my favourite parts) of the best parts from the book. Enjoy! .. and again, you can thank me with marshmallows. Me kiddeth not. 

So I tried to muster a kind rejection. But instead, I felt a cough coming on. I put my hand to my chest and shut my mouth tight—no, this was NOT the time.
But there are just some things that have a force of their own.
So I coughed. Really hard.
And that phlegm that had been rattling in my chest all day?
Landed right on the front of his crisp, striped shirt.

__

“Discuss why Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales was social criticism for its time. And lay off the fart jokes! We all know how bawdy the wanker was.”

__

“Shut up,” I said with another involuntary giggle. But when I turned around, Luca was walking toward me, backpack on correctly now. I froze. And apparently, whenever Luca walked toward me, the world moved in slow-motion. He pushed the beanie out of his eyes with glacial speed. By the time he finally reached me, we had already dated, married, and sent our two daughters off to college tearfully. Giggles immediately dissipated.

__

My fashion sweatpants fell off. In a puddle at my feet.
I looked down. Luca looked down. I looked up. Luca was still looking down.
And I heard Wes yelp, “Are you kidding?”
I pulled them up and ran. Like the wind.

__

Confidence boosted, I decided to actually try flirting. Lord, here I go. I gently bumped my hip against his. He looked over at me lickety-split, surprised. I smiled. “I’m a nerd that can clearly outrun you. Can you handle the rest of the walk back to the bus or do you need me to carry you?”
__

I flushed—while my friends were being kind, I suddenly felt like I was fishing for compliments. “Well, I am the best soccer player to have ever lived,” I said breezily. “Not counting Messi.”
*fist pump, she mentioned Messi, my fav footballer like EVER*
__

Luca did that car-backing-up thing where you twist your entire body to the right and drape your arm across the back of the passenger seat. Where I was sitting. His hand brushed lightly against my hair and I got a whiff of boy sweat and breath mints. Somehow an intoxicating yet gross cocktail.

[appreciate the fact he didn’t smell like sandalwood like all YA boys seem to]

__

Finding yourself fitting into the negative space of someone else’s body perfectly.

*I adore this whole concept of negative and positive space and body - echoed in Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index*

Saturday, 2 December 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon; Review


Book Details:
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (1st June 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1473667402
ISBN-13: 978-1473667402

Summary:

Meet Dimple.
Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.
He's rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she's got other plans...

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI is a frothy, funny contemporary romance set at a coding convention in San Francisco over one exciting summer. Told from the dual perspectives of two Indian American protagonists, Dimple is fighting her family traditions while Rishi couldn't be happier to follow in the footsteps of his parents. Could sparks fly between this odd couple, or is this matchmaking attempt doomed to fail?

Links To Buy:




Rating:
Review:

*Fat fire breathing cat hath returned* but not for the reasons you’d think. No, the fire breathing cat has not made its return because it’s in love with a book - but instead because it was such a let down. Alas, tis with great regret I write this review, of what is clearly a much adored book - but I didn’t like it. Yep, it’s out there into the world wide web, I did not like this book. I wish I could take these words back, really, I do, BELIEVE ME GUYS. 

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, or even over the last few years (with the other being Sarah J Maas’ books). This book promised me so much man. Quirky title - check. A kick ass premise - check and this check is so important, because its a person of colour, writing a people of colour story. And more specifically, SOUTH EAST ASIANS. Who are practically non existent in publishing industry except when there’s a need for a person of suspicious intent (cough terrorist). Sadly, we all know it’s true. 

So to know there would be a young adult contemporary book with Dimple and Rishi, two Indian characters - my heart leapt with absolute and undeniable utter joy. I didn’t even care at that point what the story would be on, it could have been a book about them battling dragons in China for all I care, and I’d still want the shit out of it. But this would be a YA contemporary, where both their parents are setting them up for an arranged marriage (another tick, shedding light on a negatively perceived topic). Which is why the letdown in the end hurt me so much more. Let me get in to the actual review and then I can sob again at the end, to my hearts content. 

The good - I love the title. SO MUCH. It’s quirky, it’s catchy, and it’s seriously cute. The cover is another glorious thing to behold - with the partially hidden face, the henna on her hands as she holds a Starbucks (east meets west with that shot!) and of course, her smile. WINNING. One of the best covers of the year for me, fo’sho. 

More good stuff: huge props to the author who I adore online - but it saddens me to say this didn’t translate into the book I wanted to read, BUT brownie (ha! pun intended) points awarded for the following. For writing a book which featured south east asian characters. I loved the interspersed moments where they speak hindi - as a fluent speaker myself, it’s such a lovely and refreshing thing to read and laugh along to. Points awarded for this being a YA novel about young south asian teens and even more so for it being based around arranged marriage. This is a huge thing for me and something I’m SO glad the author has chosen to base her story on, as the misconception and taboo around arranged marriage is so misinformed - and to take the topic into a YA book based on south asian characters, is a great way to openly talk about the topic in a light and informative way and for me - in this instance - it was a real representation of how arrange marriage in this day and age works. I have so much more I could say about this, but this review is already looking too long so let me cut it short and sweet. I appreciate the things the author has chosen to base her debut novel on - it’s risky territory but I’m glad the representation is there and appreciate the hell out of that. 

Now. The Bad. Brace yo’selves. I really, really, didn’t like Dimple or Rishi. *blows out a big breath* I know. This saddens and shocks me too. But my god, I really really disliked both characters, but probably and sadly, more Dimple. I get what this character was meant to be - the intent was clearly there. Swapping out the ultra-feminine stereotype and making her ambitious, into coding, doesn’t wear make up - intent on pursuing her dreams. Great, really, that all sounds fab - and would have been - if it wasn’t all so cliched and ended up being achieved by putting down other girls who aren’t anything like Dimple. Dimple spends a lot of the book talking about the other girls and characters around her, commenting on them, judging them, and making herself sound like she’s superior to them simply because she wasn’t into the things other girls were. She doesn’t wear makeup - that’s cool - but that doesn’t mean girls who do are any less of a person or not worthy of respect. 

“Even when she was in elementary and middle school, she always chose computers as her choice of centers while all the other more popular girls seemed to cluster together in art or reading.”

There’s. Nothing. Wrong. With. Being. Into. Art. Or. READING. No no no no no NO - we’re trying to bypass these cliche tropes, not fall face first right into them. Dimple can be into whatever she pleases - but NOT at the expense of putting down those who aren’t, who explore other passions or even have no passions even. Other questionable moments:

“Her booty shorts also barely covered her booty.” 

NO. 

“Really, it was sort of refreshing to have a boy prefer her company to a girl like Isabelle’s.” 

NO NO DARLING 

“Of course Isabelle was up for it. She'd probably even eat carbs for that amount of attention.” 

NOoOOO

“She refused to be one of those girls who gave up on everything they'd been planning simply because a boy entered the picture.” 

OH HELL NAWWW

So many wrongs comments, oh my oh my. The way a girl dresses is NOT a representation of her character or a portal through which to degrade her or judge her. Using a boy’s preference of company is NOT a way to asses your own worth or diminish another girl’s. DON’T TALK SHIT ABOUT CARBS YO. And the last one? Don’t even. Pursuing a career and not focusing on a relationship - GREAT. Focusing on a relationship and putting your career second - GREAT. WHY ARE EITHER OF THESE OPTIONS  A PROBLEM?! Even if someone wanted to give up all worldly aspirations and spend their life imitating a cucumber, WHO THE EFF CARES? 

Moving on. Dimple, not cool yeah - not cool. She talks so much about how she perceives herself being judged by the “Aberzombies” again - where she judges another group of people - and yet she’s the one who is incessantly making comments about them? Irony, where you at. Sadly there’s just so many things I disliked about her character - I know she was meant to be a strong, fierce, fiery and ambitious character - but she just comes across as rude, judgemental, and frankly batshit. There was also a lack of focus on the ACTUAL coding part - she’s at this convention, but a lot of the time is spent wandering around with Rishi or trying to come up with a dance routine for a talent contest (moment to wtf pls?). Sigh sigh sigh.

This review is getting so long - so I’m going to wrap it up here folks. I sadly did not connect with any of the characters in this book - there was SO MUCH promise in this book, but it all fell flat as the usual YA tropes made entrances and ruined everything for me. It’s a no from me *Simon Cowell moment*. This book COULD have been spectacular, the ideas were all there - the characters ready to be fleshed out - but the execution left much to be desired. I know the author is coming out with another book, From Twinkle, With Love - which I will still pick up next year - but I’ll be going in with caution. For now - that’s it #OverAndOut 

Monday, 27 November 2017

The Brown Girl Is Alive.

Hello world. It’s me.. Sahina. I’m alive. I’M ALIVE. And this is my message to you… 

Okay so it’s been exactly 4 months since I last posted. FOUR. MOTHER. FREAKING. MONTHSI mean that’s like half the time it takes to have a baby? No, I’m not having a baby, I’m not sure why I use pregnancy as a marker for time lapse. Let’s get the facts straight though.

Factoid 1: 
Where have I been in the last 4 months (not in a ditch somewhere, thankfully). 
I’ve actually just been really, really busy. That’s all. I wish I could tell you otherwise - I wish I could tell you something amazing and epic and mind-blowing, like I was off on a secret mission for Her Majesty’s Secret Service.. but er nope, nothing of that sort. My internship at HQ (aka Harlequin) was extended from 6 months to 8, and then I landed a job as Digital Marketing Assistant at Harper Impulse, an imprint within Harper Fiction and that’s where I’ve been toiling away for the last 4 months - and I. Love. It.

I’ve made some truly brilliant friends and have been coming out my introvert shell and rather than avoiding any and all social activity after work.. I’ve found myself making even more plans than usual and actually following through with them. 

Before.. (ah the great before) I just wanted to come home as soon as work finished, settle down in my room and just unwind. But these days, if I’m not out after work (not everyday, mind) or working away late into the evening in the office.. I almost don’t know what to do with myself. Work and friends are filling an ever empty void which I previously used to fill with books and blogging.. which brings me on to my next part. 

Factoid 2: 
It’s been almost over 5 months since I read a book. ALMOST. I hear your outcry. I do. Let me explain.

So work has been keeping me busy, and social plans too. All fine and dandy. But the downside? I’ve found that I don’t want to pick up a book. I mean I’ve not completely gone off the deep end, I did read 1 or 2 books during that 5 month period (1, for work bookclub, and 1 for work) which makes the grand total of two. I’ve also started many books - (6, to be exact) but have yet to find the willpower to follow through with finishing them and it weirdly has nothing to do with the books themselves (many of which are really good so far) but it’s just me. IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME. Really. That’s what I’ve been shouting at these books as I put them down. 

I’m not quite sure what it is, it sounds like a reading slump x 100, and perhaps it is - but deep inside, I’m just so reluctant to pick up a book, and when I do, I put them down after a few pages or chapters and that’s the end. I can’t pick it back up… 

ANYWAY. I’m not here to analyse myself (though that’s pretty much what I’ve rambled on about and actually done) BUT I am back to blogging, with the many, MANY reviews the I was intending to write before my ‘reading slump’ began and I’m back in the mood to write and post. I’m also determined to REALLY make time to do this because I love blogging and writing reviews and I need that back in my life. Am I still having trouble finishing a book? Indeed - but I’m hoping that finishing off my backlog of reviews will perhaps re-awaken something in me, but who really knows - my mind is a weirdly wired place. 

For the time being.. I just wanted to say HI. I’M ALIVE. I mean I’ve been really active on my Twitter (@Line_Reader) so I’ve not been off the grid or anything and have still been posting on my Instagram (www.instagram.com/reading.in.between.the.lines) it’s just my beloved blog that’s been neglected.. but no more! 


What can you expect from your brown girl: stay tuned this week for the review of When Dimple Met Rishi which has been sitting in my ‘finish writing review’ pile for MONTHS. Brace yourself.. it’s going to be a long one, and sadly, not a pleasant one. That’s all I’ll say. For now - I’M GLAD TO BE BACK! #OverAndOut