Sisterly Thoughts: The Bollywood Bride

Click here for our first conversation on The Bollywood Bride, Sonali Dev’s second Indian/American romance novel. We finished up this quick sister read-along, and we’re hoping to jump into the 3rd Comoran Strike book next!

Holly:

Okay, I didn’t love this one as much as The Bollywood Affair, but it was still pretty fun. And I’d still like to go to a legit Indian wedding! The first book had this running theme of Indian food, with mouth-watering descriptions. This book, with Ria’s super-stardom, had more of a wardrobe theme, with all of Ria’s designer clothes.

 

 

Amanda:

I really loved the wardrobe theme to be honest.  I loved picturing the colors and the fabrics.  And truly, I just loved the wedding setting.  You know I’m still a little sad you didn’t ride to your wedding on an elephant.

I do agree though sister, The Bollywood Bride didn’t completely capture my heart the way that The Bollywood Affair did – but I still enjoyed it!  I liked that with the wedding setting Dev was able to explain all the customs and the amazing outfits and the importance of the steps in a way that just flowed with the story.  

I will say I didn’t love the mental-health related story line in this book, and the violence portrayed.  I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll say that was a plot line that does more harm than good.  It fits in with the Bollywood style if that makes sense – but this could have been done much differently.

Holly:

Hey, but look! Sonali Dev’s next novel has a synopsis now in Amazon, and it will bring back some characters from this one. So that’s happening.

Amanda:

Yes please! Gimme, gimme, gimme the new one!  The Bollywood Bride I’d give a solid 3 stars.  This was overall an entertaining romance I’d pick up again.  

Thank you Kensington and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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We’re Reading: The Bollywood Bride

Have we mentioned our love for Sonali Dev’s The Bollywood Affair? No? Read our sister read-along posts here and here.

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Anyway, given how fun that book was, we were excited to start Dev’s next novel: The Bollywood Bride.

This book opens with a flashback, of  Ria and Vikram meeting as children, before we fast forward 20 years. Ria Parkar is a Bollywood film star with a reputation as “the Ice Princess” – cold and beautiful. She gets a phone call from her cousin Nikhil, letting her know that he’s getting married in two weeks in Chicago. She’s terrified at the idea of going “home,” somewhere she hasn’t been for ten years.

We get a hint, of course, that she can’t go home because of something that happened between her and Vikram ten years ago. And she can’t not go home, because her cousin Nikhil is like a brother to her.

Ria’s between a rock and a hard place. Let’s do this.

Amanda: Ria is kind of a sad clown. I’m ready for her to run into Vikram. I’m at 12%.

Holly: Sad but beautiful. #tragic

Amanda: Totes

***

Holly: I am at 17%. Ria is no Mili from The Bollywood Affair. And Vik is very very angry!

Amanda: They are both way angry! I like Mili better thus far.

Holly: Obv.

***

Amanda: It makes me laugh that this book is taking place in Naperville. [Not terribly far from where we grew up]

Holly: I know! And they are growing on me.

Amanda: Totally. I am almost at 60%. I love the cousin and the fiance. It’s getting good! I can’t wait for the wedding!

Okay, we’ll finish up and be back with more. I’m pretty sure we’re going to end up loving this book and vowing to attend more Indian weddings. #truth

Anyone want to invite us to an Indian wedding?  This is a perfect weekend read thus far – cheesy and delightful.

Saying Goodbye to the Pink Carnation Series

Last September, we started the Bubble Bath Reader’s Pink for All Seasons – a year long read-along of Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, timed to finish with the release of the 12th and final book in the series.

These books are fun and fabulous and full of interesting historical tidbits. We’ve done quick summaries on the books so far – click for books 1-3, books 4-6, and books 7-9. (And if you notice that the reading order is listed differently in different places, here’s Willig’s official list.)

And, so it ends here, with books 10, 11, and 12:

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The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (2011)

Synopsis: When the younger sister of Jane Wooliston (AKA our Pink Carnation) goes missing from her boarding school in London, Jane and her faithful chaperone Miss Gwen search for her, and along the way meet Colonel William Reid, whose daughter disappeared from school as well. Miss Gwen and Col. Reid get to know each other quite well in the search. In modern England, Eloise reads Miss Gwen’s gothic novel, 200 years after it’s one-hit-wonder debut.

Holly: I definitely enjoyed the relationship between Miss Gwen and the good Colonel, especially the time Miss Gwen dropped the line “we had a satisfactory romp; that’s all.” Things I did not love about this book, however, include Jane’s moodiness and Jeremy’s sliminess.

Amanda: I admit that I had a good sulk when Lauren originally announced this book.  I did not want to read anymore about Miss Gwen except as Jane’s chaperone.  I wanted a book about Tommy (See the Temptation of the Night Jasmine)!  But then I read The Passion of the Purple Plumeria and I fell in love with Colonel Reid and Miss Gwen.  I loved how she tried to boss him around and how he just doesn’t fall into line with what she wanted.  So I apologize Lauren for doubting your judgement of your own stories!    

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla (2014)

Synopsis: Sally Fitzhugh, whose root-vegetable-named brother we got to know quite well back in Pink #5, stumbles into the garden of the mysterious (and rumored vampire) Duke of Belliston, and ends up helping him uncover the truth about his family. Back in the 21st century, Eloise returns to grad school in Cambridge, MA, and has trouble with her advisor.

Holly: I read some reviews hating on this book for being a far cry from the start of the series, as the actual-spy contact is limited, and, well, there’s the vampire thing. However, I adored Sally and Lucien!  And, while I would have fully supported Eloise if she decided not to return to grad school, I am glad she had a chance to come to the right decision for her.

Amanda:  I’m glad I didn’t know my sister had read hating reviews because I was already apprehensive due to all the hints about the stoat.  I mean – who wants to read about a stoat?  But Sally was a delight!  So there wasn’t a spy connection – big deal – is a creepy murder not enough for people?! Loved the glimpse at a happy Turnip with his bride.

The Lure of the Moonflower (2015)

Synopsis: At last, the final book in the Pink series brings Jane’s story – we find Jane on assignment in Portugal, looking for a missing queen and forced to rely on Jack Reid for tactical help along with way. We get a conclusion to the Colin and Eloise storyline as well, but not without some final hijinks from one of our previous villains.

Holly: I am glad Jane got her story, and I’m so glad to have been a part of the Pink for All Seasons readalong. There are parts of this book that I quite enjoyed, but parts that didn’t quite sit well. Both Jane and her parents seemed like entirely different characters than those we’d gotten to know in previous books. Though, to be fair, that’s exactly what Lauren has done throughout the series – characters like Mary Alsworthy and Turnip Fitzhugh become totally different people once brought into the spotlight. The difference is, I guess, that I liked Mary and Turnip better after getting to know them, and Jane less.

Amanda:  I was totally surprised as this book began at how Jane ended up in Portugal.  As Holly said, Jane’s parents sounded like totally different people than those we met in the Passion of the Purple Plumeria. This annoyed me but I went with the story because since I’ve loved and trusted Jane all these years I kind of had to.  I did love Jane and Jack together, even if things were a bit too convenient in the end.  Maybe everything wrapped up a bit too well – including Eloise and Colin – but it was really a satisfying ending to a series I’ve really enjoyed.  If Lauren writes more Pink books I will read them!

Midway Through Mortal Heart

We are reading the third and final installment in Robin LaFever’s His Fair Assassins trilogy: Mortal Heart.

Here, we discuss the middle of the book. This is mostly how our conversation went:

Amanda: Whoa! Big decision there by Annith!

Holly: Oh yeah, I just got to that. Ha! She is certainly forging a new path!

Amanda: I love how they’re all (Sybella, Ismae and Annith) giving the abbess the middle finger basically all the time now.  She deserves it! PS: Have you met Helena yet?

Holly: Nope. [Continues reading. Thinks: Hmmm. I have met Aeva, Floris, and Tola. I wonder who Helena is…must keep reading]

Holly: [Later that evening.] Okay, I just got to 54% in and I still don’t know who Helena is. Did I miss something?

Amanda: Oh! Helena is on Orphan Black. I mixed you up.  Though I do think Aeva, Floris, and Tola are all badasses as well and I would like more about them!

Holly: [Much less confused.] Ohhhhhh. Yeah. That broad is crazy.

Amanda:  58% and I just swooned a bit.  I was not sure that I was going to see [name redacted] again, but I should have had faith! Basically I need to just keep reading through to the end now because I need to know what happens!  

Holly: I need to keep reading too, but I also need to find time to get caught up on Orphan Black. Obv.  

We’ll be back with our final thoughts!  And seriously- if you’re not watching Orphan Black just start now please.  Holly can tell you that I won’t shut up until you do. 

We’re Reading Mortal Heart

It’s time to revisit everyone’s favorite teenage assassin nuns! By that, we mean the characters of Robin LeFevers’ His Fair Assassins  trilogy. We have already read and reviewed Grave Mercy (here, here, and here) and Dark Triumph (here, here, and here). In a nutshell, we’re in 15th century Brittany, following the stories of three novitiates at the convent of Saint Mortain, a.k.a. the god of death.

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Yeah, it’s bizarre. Just go with it.

The third book of the series follows Annith, who has grown up at the convent after being dropped there as an infant. She is bright, deceptive, and deadly – and she’s determined to find out why her two less skilled friends Ismae and Sybella have already been sent out on missions to save the Duchy of Brittany while she remains on a tight leash at the convent.

Until she sneaks out to find some answers.  

Amanda: Did you start Mortal Heart?

Holly: Yes! While I was slow to warm up to the first book, I’m totally hooked by now. I want to know what Annith is going to find out! And, I love her. She is smarter than Ismae and has much better people skills than Sybella. Game on.

Amanda: I tried to explain this book to J, and he was not happen with my description. There is no Catholicism, right?

Holly: No. There is something about “the 9” which reminds me of Game of Thrones because they have “the old gods” and “the seven” But anyway, I found this handy explanation on the author’s site.

Amanda: Cool. How far are you? [Trying to see if my sister has already gotten to where Annith has snuck out of the convent and is running around with the hellequin.]

Holly: I wish I could remember some details about the first two books since there’s some overlapping. I am trying to remember if we should know these hellequin.

Amanda: Check out these awesome recaps. [Thank you @Recaptains! and @ChristinaJuneYA for telling me about them]

Holly: [Has not read these yet. Don’t tell my sister.] I am worried about the hellequin. I think they might be dead guys.

[Reads furthers and googles]

(Thanks Wikipedia)

The name Harlequin is taken from that of a mischievous “devil” or “demon” character in popular French passion plays. It originates with an Old French term herlequin, hellequin, first attested in the 11th century, by the chronicler Orderic Vitalis, who recounts a story of a monk who was pursued by a troop of demons when wandering on the coast of Normandy at night. These demons were led by a masked, club-wielding giant and they were known as familia herlequin (var. familia herlethingi). This medieval French version of the Germanic Wild Hunt, Mesnée d’Hellequin, has been connected to the English figure of Herla cyning (“host-king”; German Erlkönig) Hellequin was depicted a black-faced emissary of the devil, roaming the countryside with a group of demons chasing the damned souls of evil people to Hell.

Yes, these are definitely dead guys.

Amanda: Well I’m a bit more nervous about the hellequin I have to say.  I think Annith is awesome and I can’t wait to see her get a chance to kick some ass!

Now I really don’t want to talk anymore – I really need to get back to reading this. (Alternating with Dumplin’ and I’m doubly in love!)

OMG The Invasion of the Tearling

So, we’ve finished – one of us more slowly than the other – The Invasion of the Tearling.

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Catch up on our first two posts here and here.

As we resumed reading, our texting returned to the previous pattern.

Amanda: I am scared for the choices Kelsea is making!  But some of them I think I love.

Really glad there is a third book coming!

10% left. I am glad we didn’t stop at each 30% because I wouldn’t have waited for you sister.

Holly: This book is crazy. I am at 65%.

Amanda: [expectantly] Crazy good?

Holly: Crazy crazy. And icky.

[Many many days later]

Amanda: Please tell me you are off today pal.

[This because working has seriously interfered with Holly’s ability to blog/read/be-a-good-sister-pal/enjoy life]

Holly: Yessss! And I finished the Tearling in bed this morning. That is a weird book.

Amanda: But did you like it?

Holly: [Avoiding] You first. Did you?

Amanda: Not as much as #1, but totally. The [removed spoiler] was genius.

Holly: I do not understand why [removed spoiler]. I am so full of confusion.

Amanda: In the end, I really like how much we got about the pre-Crossing world – just wasn’t expecting it to come through flashbacks. [Or fugues]

Holly: [borrowing my niece’s go-to expression] It’s not my favorite.

Amanda: What I like is that Kelsea isn’t all pure bravery and goodness.  She’s clearly really got a dark side. I’m scared at how dark she’s going to go and whether she’ll be able to pull herself back.

Holly: What I didn’t like was the weird cutting phenomenon, the focus on Kelsea’s level of attractiveness and how that changes her, the combination of fantasy/magic and future/dystopia, and any and all romantic impulses and relationships among these people.

Amanda: Yes, clearly the cutting creeped me out. It breaks my heart whenever I read on that topic.  I didn’t like the physical changes at all – until we understand why.  Even then, I got it, but that certainly didn’t do a lot to further the story for me.  I wonder if Kelsea could have made the decisions she did for her personal life without those changes though?  I really hope there is some mutual love in the 3rd book! No loving anyone unattainable! I’m over that.

Amanda’s bottom line: I loved this, though not quite as much as the Queen of the Tearling.  I am kind of dying to see how it ends.  How does Kelsea pull it off?  WILL she pull it off?  She has to right?

Holly’s bottom line: WTF?

Have you read The Invasion of the Tearling?  Tell us what you think!  I know I’m going to be rereading both of these books before the end of the year – and buying the Australian editions because the covers are WAY better – anyone else?

Still Reading: Invasion of the Tearling

Here we are, halfway through the Invasion of the Tearling.  Queen Kelsea is basically waiting for the evil queen of Mortmesne to invade with her superior and sadistically cruel army.  The Invasion of the Tearling promises to give some history of why people fled what was the United States and crossed to Europe to found the Tearling.

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This pretty much sums up our lives, right now:

Day 1 Reading:

Amanda: I am way too excited about starting this book. I fear disappointment.

Amanda: WTF? Manhattan?  I wanted history, but I didn’t expect flashbacks!  Where is Kelsea’s head?

Amanda: Bad Queen is real bad. She had seriously better get what is coming to her.

Amanda: Stopped at 29%

Holly: Hahah I read like 3 pages. #theworst

People, I mean well, I swear. It’s just that my reading time has been limited lately. My next text to my sister said “I am resuming human work hours next week,” which I’ve been trying to do. Clearly, these books Amanda shouts at me about aren’t going to read themselves! So, back to it.

[4 days after Amanda finished ⅓ of the book]

Holly: Hi. I read to 10%. I am slow. You can start a post about how slow I am. [She did.]

Holly: When Kelsea was talking about her rage, I was waiting for someone to belt out Let It Go! I was pissed that everyone knows rape was a weapon of war in the last invasion, but apparently it’s taboo to mention that men were raped. Because somehow that’s worse? Wtfever.

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Holly: I don’t mean to stomp on your parade. Things in the Tearling just annoy me.

Amanda: Yes, I was totally pissed about the rape conversation as well – but this is why I love Kelsea! She’s full of rage too! She doesn’t want to let things just be the way they always have been.

[Another day later]

Holly: I am at about 20% now

[Another day later]

Holly: I told you there was something in #1 about anti-sodomy squads! 22%

Amanda: Yes, yes you were right – dislike

[3 days later]

Holly: Announcement: I finished to 29% last night so we can discuss and move on.

So, for discussion:

Holly: I don’t think I hate this book, but I do think it’s weird. And I’ll try not to be SO slow through the rest of it.

Amanda: Ok so it is weird.  I so wanted the history of the Tearling, but I think I wanted to be TAUGHT a lesson.  I didn’t want flashbacks to Manhattan and spousal abuse. I am going with it and trusting, but right now this is not my favorite aspect of the book.

And we read on.