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.

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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.

Review: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Michael Chabon
Published 2000 by Picador USA
639 Pages

 


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I didn’t know very much about The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay when I added it to my 2015 TBR Challenge List, other than it had something to do with comic books. The novel is divided into 6 parts, each one adding a layer of richness to the story of two Jewish cousins, and the rise and fall of their comics empire.

At the outset, teenage Joseph Kavalier is living in pre-WWII Prague, with his family’s hopes pinned on sending him to start a new life with relatives in New York. The first of the many layers of storytelling is Joe’s escape, involving his magic teacher and the Golem of Prague. At this point, I was all-in for wherever Chabon was going to take the story. (Thanks in part to The Golem and the Jinni for kicking off my fascination with golems.) Joe makes it to New York, and meets his cousin Sammy, who suffered in childhood from polio and an absentee father. Sammy’s dreams coupled with Joe’s artistic talent lead to great things – as well as terrible things – for the cousins.

Scrolling through the Goodreads reviews for this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, I see comments that are all across the board. Not every book is for everyone, but here’s my two cents: I’m not into comics in general, and there is a definite shortage of female characters with agency in this book, but neither of these things diminished my enjoyment of getting caught up in Joe and Sammy and their successes and heartbreaks.

Nor did Chabon’s immense vocabulary – I was happy to be reading this book on my Kindle, where I was able to look-up a words at least once a chapter. In fact, I wish I had made a list of words as I went, like I found from this reader. I’d be interested in the other 158 words that made his list.

Have you read this one, or any other Michael Chabon books?

Rosa shook her head. It seemed to be her destiny to live among men whose solutions were invariably more complicated or extreme than the problems they were intended to solve.

 

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

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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!

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?