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.

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.

18938929

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.

Our Best Reads of 2015

Amanda

I fell 10 books behind on my Goodreads challenge of 155 books – I think if I had finagled the Goodreads system for rereads better I would have made it though! Oh well – on to 2016!  I read some books I really loved this year so I’d say this Top Ten order is pretty random.  Its also missing books that I also thought were amazing – like Mortal Heart, Invasion of the Tearling, Crimson Bound, Euphoria and Made You Up.  Sigh.  Maybe I should have done a top twenty list…  These were my happiest or most thought provoking and just best reads of 2015.

  1. A  Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman  
  2. Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
  3. Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon (also the longest book I read!)
  4. Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
  5. All the Rage by Courtney Summers
  6. The Unquiet Dead by Ausuma Zehanat Khan
  7. The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  8. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  9. Uprooted by Naomi Novik  
  10. Dietland by Sarai Walker

 

Holly

I read about half as many books as I meant to in 2015, including 8 from Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, 7/12 books from my TBR Challenge list, and 4 read-alongs with my sister (Persuasion, Invasion of the Tearling, Mortal Heart, & Romantic Outlaws). Here, in no particular order, are my favorite books that I read this year:

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. RowlingHurts soooooo good.

The Martian by Andy Weir – On audiobook, but I’m counting it because I loved it so much.

The Lords of Discipline by Pat ConroyNot exactly light honeymoon reading, but definitely a gateway book into more Conroy.

MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel BertscheYoung professional in a new city looking for her bestie? HIts a bit – er – close to home.

Persuasion by Jane AustenThe read-along was at least half the fun of reading this one!

I love reading lists- tell me your best reads of 2015!  Happy New Year!

2016 TBR Challenge

Happy almost 2016! It’s time to set the stage for our 2016 TBR Challenge. We didn’t quite finish our 2015 lists, but we’re ready to give it a go again this year.

Last year’s challenge was officially sanctioned, but that’s been discontinued, so we’re tracking our own progress along with Eva, The Paperback Princess. In keeping with the rules from last year’s challenge, these are all books published in 2014 or earlier.

Holly

2016 List

  1. Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (2012) – Finished 3/21/2016
  2. Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott (1886)
  3. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (2012)
  4. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (2008) – Finished 3/19/16
  5. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (2006)
  6. Name All the Animals by Alison Smith (2005)
  7. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1817)
  8. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson (2014)
  9. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman (2009)
  10. Sister  by Rosamund Lupton (2010) – Finished 3/1/16
  11. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (2011)
  12. A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman (2014)

Alternates

  1. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (2010) – Finished 4/26/16
  2. We the Animals by Justin Torres (2011)

2015 TBR Carryovers

  1. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (1990)
  2. The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee (2010)
  3. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (2006)
  4. When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins (2009) – Finished 1/24/16
  5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (2001) – Finished 1/8/2016

Amanda

2016 List

  1. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1817)
  2. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Sussan (1966) – Look out book club!
  3. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson (2014)
  4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012)
  5. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright (2006)
  6. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed (2012)
  7. The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan (2013)
  8. Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood (2012)
  9. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (1996)
  10. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (1948)
  11. The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1) by Agatha Christie
  12. The Spellman Files: Document #1 by Lisa Lutz (2007)

Alternates

  1. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (2006)
  2. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1) by Scott Lynch (2006)

2015 Holdovers:

  1. Primary Colors by Anonymous (1996) [this has been sitting on my bookshelf taunting me for like 10 years]
  2. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)
  3. Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond (1997) [What was I thinking buying this on my honeymoon all those years ago? Not light beach reading]
  4. Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink (2013)
  5. Lipstick Jihad A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni (2005)

Some of these even cover Estella’s Revenge‘s #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks Challenge which is exciting!  Link up if you want to challenge yourself with us!

Book Pairings: Nonfiction November Edition

Nonfiction-November-2015-300x300

In case you missed it, last week Amanda kicked off our Nonfiction November with some of her fave NF reads. Lest she call me out again for skipping out, here I am to get us started for this week’s topic: pairing up a nonfiction book with a fiction one.

Grouping books together is totally my jam – see exhibits a, b, and c – so I am excited about this topic.

Holly’s Pairings

Issac’s Storm + The Promise

Hurricane

Both of these books have been on my TBR for a while, and I’m actually just waiting for Issac’s Storm to be mine from the library so I can hop to it! Issac’s Storm is Erik Larson’s nonfiction account of the 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas – the greatest natural disaster in American history. The Promise is Ann Weisgarber’s novel about a young woman from Ohio who arrives in Galveston in 1900 to marry a childhood admirer. I can’t to see how the fictional account works in the realities of the storm.

 

The Girls of Atomic City + Code Name Verity

ww2

If you are interested in reading about women during WWII, then I’m going to recommend both of these books. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is an amazing novel about two friends and the role they play in the war effort. The Girls of Atomic City is Denise Kiernan’s nonfiction account of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the work that was done there during the war. Young women doing what they can during the war? Check. Hardships and reality? Check. Secrets and intrigue? Check. Seriously – you won’t regret reading either one.

 

Amanda’s Pairings

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and The Missing Corpse + The Talented Mr. Ripley

duke

I just finished The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and The Missing Corpse which was kind of a bizarre story.  I spent most of the book trying to figure out when the Dead Duke really died and whose life he was living at the time.  Trying unravel this mystery led me to thinking about Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley.  Ripley’s way of becoming someone is far more sinister than what might have happened with the mysterious 5th Duke of Portland and  T.C. Druce – but Druce sounds like kind of a dirtbag which led me to this comparison.  

 

The Witches: Salem, 1692 + A Few YA Reads

FotorCreated

I’m only 20 pages into The Witches right now and I keep thinking of books I have read or want to read! First,  I thought of the Cahill Witch Chronicles by Jessica Spotswood which I’ve been wanting to read forever.  Witches trying to stay secret – yes please.  Next I thought of The Fever by Megan Abbott, about a creepy panic when high school girls fall ill.  Not my favorite read to be honest, but it was compelling and the paranoia hearkens back to Salem quite a bit in my mind.  Continuing with the YA theme I thought of The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker.  This is more of a stretch I think – but the accusations and the searching for witches is what brought it to my mind.   Last one,  maybe more middle grade I suppose, but the fantastic Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series -specifically A Swiftly Tilting Planet.  As I read about Cotton Mather inserting himself into the history of Salem I thought about how he gets involved in the story of Meg and Charles Wallace.  And  I want to now throw over my whole TBR to read the whole Wrinkle in Time series again.   I am curious to see what else jumps to mind as I keep reading – and a bit nervous to read about what happened in Salem.  

What books are you linking together this week?

 

 

Nonfiction Review: Romantic Outlaws

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley

By Charlotte Gordon

Random House, 2015

Source: e-ARCs from Edelweiss

22294061

Holly

You guys. This book was my white whale of 2015.

Let me tell you a (not)secret: I do not read nearly as many books as my sister. To date, I have read about half as many books as my 2015 goal – in part because I spent so much time not-reading Romantic Outlaws.

I started this book in March. I finished it in September. More accurately, I started and stopped this book in March and then read this book in September, but it weighed heavily on me in the interim.

Anyway, you should read this book, but I won’t pressure you about when. Take your time.

I chose – and labored over – this book because Amanda said: ‘hey, let’s read this!” All I knew of Mary Wollstonecraft I remembered from Mr. Nall’s AP European History class, and she sounded like someone I should know more about, having written A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792, well before the first-wave feminist movement began in earnest.

I went into this book with no idea what I was getting into with the Marys.

Amanda

I too, think I read this book forever.  This is not a read for the faint of heart – it is 672 pages.  But it was completely fascinating and worth all of the time it took.  I really didn’t believe a nonfiction book this long would keep me enthralled but I was hooked.  Occasionally I was thrown off by too many Marys, but I really loved how we flashed back and forth from mother to daughter.

Holly

Mary Wollstonecraft was born in 1759, and died in 1797, when her daughter Mary Shelley was born. Mary W had unquestionably shitty parents – an abusive father and a checked-out mother – and she spent her childhood moving around as her father dodged debts or chased various schemes. Mary W decided she wanted more out of life, and took initiative to make things happen – starting with her writing. She wrote articles, then books, and then decided to document the French Revolution in real time. She willingly went to Paris during the terror while blood is running in the streets. There Mary, not one for social conventions, fell in love and had a child out of wedlock. She was up for the challenges she faced from society, though she had more trouble with her rocky relationship and her own depression. Back in England a few years later, Mary met and eventually married William Godwin, who had once called a husband’s legalized possession of a woman in marriage “odious selfishness.”

Mary Shelley grew up with her father, William Godwin, who remarried shortly after his wife’s death. Godwin, while an interesting person, turned out to be not a winning parent himself. Mary S, singled out her whole life as the child of intellectual heavyweights, went through a rebellious teenaged period which resulted in her running off with the poet Percy Shelley. The married poet Shelley. This was a bad scene, made worse by the fact that Mary’s step-sister and rival, Jane, tagged along. Then Jane changed her name to Claire, and there were pregnancies and rumors and the poet-playboy Lord Byron and before long, the girls and the poets were nicknamed “the league of incest.” All the while, Godwin was either not-speaking to his daughter, or asking her to get Shelley to send money. Along the way, Mary Shelley developed into a talented writer herself, truly the equal of her husband. Mary and Percy marry, eventually, after his wife’s suicide. Seriously – these stories are fascinating.

The book flips with a chapter on Wollstonecraft then a chapter on Shelley. At first, I found this jarring, but when I tackled this book in September I just decided to take notes along the way. Once I actually got into this book, it was a page-turner – in part, because of the scandals and antics, but also because of the impact that mother & daughter had on writing, on feminist ideology, and on the societies in which they lived.

Amanda

Do you ever have that experience when you’re really into a book then find that it relates to everything around you?  As I was reading about Mary W making the choice to stay in France during the Revolution and what she wrote about the revolutionaries I was also reading The Secret History of the Pink Carnation books.  That series focuses on the English nobles who, at times, actively worked with the displaced French nobility.  I had a whole new perspective on my fun historical fiction read.  

Then I met Lord Byron – the Justin Bieber of his time. Seriously, I need to read more about him.  But I then flashed back to Almost Famous Women and the story of poor and illegitimate Allegra Byron.  Does this happen to anyone else?  I swear I referenced this book all the time in conversation and I talked my husband’s ears off.  These Marys were just amazing! I have 21 pages of highlights in my kindle from this book.  I won’t give you all of those – but will leave you with Gordon’s words:

Even those who revere mother and daughter do not fully realize how profoundly they changed the moral code of the day… Not only did they write world-changing books, they broke from the strictures that governed women’s conduct, not once but time and time again.  Their refusal to bow down, to subside and surrender, to be quiet and subservient, to apologize and hide, makes their lives as memorable as the words they left behind.  

So Holly, when are we going to start reading A Vindication of the Rights of Women and Frankenstein?

Read this! Nonfiction November is coming!

Thank you Random House for these advance read copies in exchange for honest opinions!

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:

FotorCreated (2)

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!