Friday, 4 August 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon
Summary: 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.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
I went into this book expecting to love it. It sounded so good and there was so many glowing reviews, I thought there was no way I wouldn't love it. And it did get there in the end, but for the first two thirds of the book I really struggled to get through it. 

But anyway, let's start with the positives: the characters.

Rishi? He was a little ball of adorable. I love seeing actual nice guy characters rather than "Nice Guys" (you know the ones...where they think they're good guys and we're supposed to think they're good guys but they're actually really not).

And Dimple? I loved her. I loved that she was strong and complex and realistic, I loved that she was a bit of a steel coated marshmallow at first (reminds me of my best friend in that way). I've seen a lot of people criticise her character for basically being a teenager, for being flawed and realistic, but those reasons many people had for not liking Dimple were a big part of the reason I did like her. I loved her and Rishi together, they were so cute and they balanced each other out.

The book also managed to make me laugh out loud quite a few times (the dancing scene was golden -- if I rated the book purely on that scene it'd be 5+ stars), which doesn't happen very often when I'm reading and I loved that Sandhya managed to make me laugh.

And I really loved that they were both Indian-American. There is countless YA romcoms featuring white protagonists but there's barely any Indian-American representation. That racial and cultural diversity matters, it is so important. It matters that Indian-American teens have books like this they can read and relate to because the characters reflect them positively and I hope to see more of them on the shelves soon.

The reasons I struggled so much with the first chunk of the book: a pet peeve of mine, and the plot.

The pet peeve? I really don't like stories, particularly romance based stories, with alternating POV's and unfortunately this book was not one of the rare exceptions (I wasn't a fan of the way it's done in this, with the POV switches often happening mid-scene, sometimes multiple times in one scene). So that one wasn't an issue with the book, it was just down to personal preference.

As for the plot, it just wasn't as strong as I expected it to be. The pacing felt a bit off, at times it bored me quite a bit. It took a long time to hook me. But again, this is down to personal preference. I'm okay with a romcom not having much to the plot beyond the romance, but the romance has to keep me interested for that to happen and romances that are primarily cute don't really hold my interest well, especially when the couple gets to that point really quickly.

I think my expectations for the coding aspect were a bit too high too, I wanted more from that than it delivered. I was happy about seeing a female character into coding and tech stuff but it fell a little flat there, it was very tell instead of show (Rishi's passion for art was shown much better).

In the last quarter of the book, I found the parts that started to draw me in the most were the scenes that weren't just focusing on the romance...like when Dimple would have chats with Celia or when they talked about their families, or scenes with Rishi and his brother. That was when the book really started to win me over (basically everything from the dance scene onward).

Anyway, I'd rate the book 4 stars out of 5. It didn't quite wow me to the same extent as it did other people, but I loved it in the end, it was absolutely adorable and such an important read. I definitely look forward to seeing what Sandhya writes next. 

Later.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The DNA of Orphan Black by Abbie Bernstein

The DNA of Orphan Black
by Abbie Bernstein


Summary: Get under the skin of clone club. This comprehensive guide to Orphan Black has an access-all-areas pass to the most innovative drama on TV. Includes interviews with the show’s creators and cast, exclusive behind-the-scenes photos, production and visual effects secrets, plus everything you need to know about the Dyad Institute, the Proletheans and Neolutionists, Projects Leda and Castor, and more. This is a must-have for all fans of Orphan Black.
I don't read many books like this -- books that are about the creation of a TV show or movie or something (beyond the Harry Potter ones) -- sometimes I'll get them just to flip through every now and then, or because they're aesthetically pleasing... This one? This is the first one I've actually sat down and read cover to cover.



The book goes over how the creators came up with the idea for the show, how they went about making it, then it goes into the casting process and then how all the different departments worked together to create the characters was fascinating to read about...I honestly didn't expect it to hold my attention so well but it did.

I think it's because the show itself is so great and original. Tatiana Maslany is literally half of the cast, and when you're watching it is so easy to forget that each of the Leda clones is played by the same actress and they're not actually different people. The book goes over how Tatiana made each character distinctive and how everyone from the writers to the wardrobe and hair and make-up departments worked together, taking even the smallest details into consideration.

And I loved reading about the actress who plays the clones in scenes where more than one clone is present, so Tatiana is acting with someone. I hadn't really considered that someone would have to act that, I figured it was all camera trickery and editing, so it was fascinating reading how she analysed all of the idiosyncrasies and ways of moving Tatiana had for each clone so she could recreate it.

Basically, the book was just really fun and interesting and I loved the pictures and the behind the scenes look we got into the world of the show (plus, it was fun getting to kind of recap the previous seasons and all of the back stories).

I'd really recommend it for fans of the show, or even just people interested in some element of show/movie making be it acting or writing or directing or being part of the make-up or wardrobe department.

I'd rate it 4 stars out of 5.

Later.

Monday, 17 July 2017

When Rosie Met Jim by Melina Marchetta & Shoeboxes by Kathryn Barker

Review of Australian Fiction 
(Volume 22, Issue 6)

When Rosie Met Jim & Shoeboxes
by Melina Marchetta & Kathryn Barker

I don't read Review of Australian Fiction very often, because short stories aren't my cup of tea really, but occasionally I will if an author I love writes a story for them.

And, if you've been following this blog or any of my bookish social media for any length of time you'll know that Melina Marchetta is one of my top 5 favourite authors and she could literally announce she's rewritten the phone book and I'd want to read it...so there was no way I was skipping this edition of RAF.

I'm going to just do a short review for each of the stories included, starting with the one I bought it for in the first place:

When Rosie Met Jim

I really, really loved this story (which, as you may have guessed from what I said about short stories, is a rarity for me). It revolves around a girl stranded in a small town during a flood and while stuck there, she meets Jimmy Hailler (the same Jimmy Hailler from Saving Francesca).

I'm surprised by how quickly Melina managed to make me care about the characters in the story (which is usually one of my issues with short stories) and how thoroughly hooked I was by the plot. It was one of those ones that left me wanting more of the characters without feeling like there was something missing, which isn't always an easy balance to achieve in short stories.

And that's all I have to say really. The story was definitely worth it, and it has me so excited for Melina's next book (the Jimmy Hailler book she's been talking about for a few years now...I think this story was a prequel to that book and she's working on the book now, based on her blog posts?).

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Shoeboxes

This one...this one was a pleasant surprise. I didn't expect to love it, but I sort of did. Not quite in the same way as I loved When Rosie Met Jim, where I really cared about the characters, this one was different. It was more...subtle, clever.

It starts off with two women in a basement and we don't know if they've been kidnapped or why they're there really but bit by bit little details trickle into the story and...well, that's all I'll say because I don't want to ruin it.

Basically, it hooked me from the start and had me confused but intrigued right until the very end...and the end -- I loved the ending. It surprised me and left me wanting to read a full thriller novel by Kathryn Barker because if she can pull off a full novel as well as she can a short story then I'm sure I'll love it.

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Overall: If short stories are your kind of thing, I definitely recommend checking out Review of Australian Fiction (every two weeks they release a new edition featuring two stories by Australian writers). Even if short stories aren't your kind of thing, like me, you might still enjoy some of the stories they publish.

Later.

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