Book Review: Game Of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta

Book: Game Of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta

Published February 2019 by Scholastic Press|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Kiranmala And The Kingdom Beyond #2

Genre: Middle Grade Re-Telling/Fantasy

When the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, smelling of acid and surrounded by evil-looking bees, twelve-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it’s been four months since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over an interdimensional television station and a visit with some all-seeing birds, Kiran decides that she has to once again return to her homeland, where society is fraying, a reality show is taking over, and her friends are in danger.

However, things are a lot less clear than the last time she was in the Kingdom Beyond. Kiran must once again battle witches, solve riddles, and avoid her evil Serpent King father – all while figuring out who are her true friends, and what it really means to be a demon.

Games Of Stars is a really cool book!  I really liked the first one, and knew I had to pick up this one.

It didn’t feel like a middle book at all, and I loved seeing Kiran save her friends and deal with her Serpent King father and a reality t.v. show.  There’s a lot of fun adventures in this book, and I’m glad that continued from the first book.  She really wants to do the right thing, and she’s really determined.  Kiran is a great character, and I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for her in the next book.

I really liked the world and what we see in this book really adds to the world we were introduced to in the first book.  We see more creatures and myths, and I loved the author’s note at the end where DasGupta talks about her inspiration for the book.

Things are not black and white, and we definitely see Kiran learn that in this book.  While she trusts a few rakkosh, she’s not trusting of all them, but we see that change over the course of the book.  I don’t blame Kiran at all for how she reacts to some of the things in the book, but we see a lot of growth and change in her.  She really does give everyone a chance by the end of the book, and that was nice to see, because sometimes, it seems like books don’t always do that.

It’s action-packed and a fast read, and it went by so fast.  But I didn’t mind at all, because I had such a great time reading it.

4 stars.  I really liked the world and the characters, and it really added to the series.  It’s fun and full of adventure.

Advertisements

Book Review: Internment by Samira Ahmed

Book: Internment by Samira Ahmed

Published March 2019 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|387 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.

I absolutely loved this book.  It was heart-breaking and terrifying but I loved Layla’s story.  I don’t do this often, but if there’s one book you’re going to pick up this year, make sure this is one of them.

Layla’s story was terrifying because it felt so real.  I can see this happening, and Ahmed really drew from real-life/current events with this book.  Throughout the whole book, it was clear that Ahmed was drawing on everything leading up to the election and everything that happened after.

I did like the author’s note at the end of the book, and how she gave some additional resources to check out about the Japanese interment camps.  It gave a lot of insight on what inspired the book and it really added to the book.

I really loved Layla, and though she was really trusting at times, I understood it.  I didn’t always agree with it, but I did understand it.  She was determined to fight for what was right, and she wasn’t willing to stand by and let things happen to her friends and family, even if that would have the easier path.  So many other people in her camp were willing to go along with everything but she wasn’t.  Even when things went very, very wrong, it felt like she became more determined to make things right.

It went by really fast, and it felt like it happened over a really short period of time.  I’m curious about the time period, and if it happened over a few weeks or few months.  Especially in the internment camp.  The book seemed a lot shorter than it really was, and while it wasn’t really in-depth, you got a clear picture of what was going on.  It did skim the surface at times, which is the only thing I didn’t particularly care for.  But it also wasn’t enough to get me to dislike the book, or warrant a lower rating.

5 stars.  I loved Internment, and though it was heart-breaking and all too real, it’s also worth reading.

Book Review: Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi And The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

Book: Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Published March 2018 by Rick Riordan Presents|355 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Pandava Quartet #1

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary/Mythology Re-Telling

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

I really liked Aru Shah And The End Of Time!  I really liked seeing Aru and Mini stop the Sleeper and save time.

I liked Aru and Mini, and they seem like such an unlikely duo.  I thought they worked well together, and I’m curious to see if we’ll meet the other 3 Pandava sisters in the rest of the series, or if we’ll just see Aru and Mini.

One thing I thought was interesting was how surprised people were that the legendary Pandava brothers were, in fact, sisters.  It made for a unique twist, and people seemed to underestimate these two girls.  It makes me wish that I knew more about Hindu mythology because it would have been fun (and pretty cool) to know the real stories that Chokshi drew from.

Also, I love that Rick Riordan acknowledges that this was not a story he could have written, and that he believes Chokshi can.  I think it’s cool he’s giving other writers a voice and the chance to re-tell the mythology that they’re familiar with.

Back to the story, though.  I really liked seeing Aru and Mini work together to save the world.  They’re scared and not always ready for what’s in store, but they get it down, and it’s a pretty interesting adventure for the two of them.  I also loved their pigeon sidekick, who was pretty funny.

I loved how smart Mini and how she’s obsessed with anything and everything that can make you sick.  Aru, even though she just wanted to fit in with the popular kids and ends up starting this whole adventure because of it, is funny and curious and determined to make things right.  They support each other, even when they fight, and they really do have a great friendship.  It’s nice to see in a middle grade book, though I feel like we see more of it in middle grade than YA (at least, in my experience).

My Rating: 4 stars.  I didn’t love but I still really liked it.  I’d recommend it everyone, but especially Rick Riordan fans.

Book: The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

Published February 2018 by Scholastic|351 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Kiranmala And The Kingdom Beyond #1

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary/Re-Telling

MEET KIRANMALA: INTERDIMENSIONAL DEMON SLAYER
(Only she doesn’t know it yet.)

On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey… until her parents mysteriously vanish and a drooling rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories-like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess and how she comes from a secret place not of this world.

To complicate matters, two crush-worthy princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’ve come to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and battle demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld and the Rakkhoshi Queen in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it…

I really liked The Serpent’s Secret!  It’s another mythology-inspired re-telling and this one is inspired by Indian mythology.

Kiran, on her 12th birthday, goes on a very unexpected adventure.  Spells are broken, and she learns that the stories her parents have told her about being a princess are not just stories.  They’re real, and she’s from a place that is not the world she knows.  I definitely felt like we were on this journey with Kiran as she learns what is real and what is not.

There are a lot of stories I was not familiar with before reading this book, and I love seeing stories I’m not familiar with because it makes me want to learn more.  I really felt like these were stories that DasGupta loved growing up, and I felt these were stories she knew really well and wanted to share with everyone else.

It was silly at times but also really fun, and I felt like we knew who Kiran was.  She didn’t feel older or younger than she really was, and though the book was longer than what I expected for a middle grade, I really liked Kiran as a character.  It felt like the book was the perfect length for the story DasGupta was telling, and it didn’t feel too long or too short.

It’s also funny, and there were quite a few times when I laughed or smiled.  Mostly when TunTuni was involved, but sometimes serious things need some not-so-serious-moments.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked it and I loved how fun and funny the book was.  I can’t wait to read the next book!

Audio Book Review: My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma, Narrated by Priya Ayyar

Book: My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma, Narrated by Priya Ayyar

Published May 2018 by Listening Library|Length: 7 hours, 7 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soulmate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her 18th birthday, and Raj meets all of the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked to return from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. Worse, Raj is crowned chair of the student film festival, a spot Winnie was counting on for her film school applications. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek, and one of the few people Winnie can count on to help her reclaim control of her story. Dev is smart charming, and challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope to find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy, and her chance to live happily ever after? To get her Bollywood-like life on track, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star. 

Like an expertly choreographed Bollywood dance scene, Nisha Sharma’s off-beat love story dazzles in the lime light. 

I really liked My So-Called Bollywood Life!  It’s really cute, and I think it’s a good read-alike if you like When Dimple Met Rishi and Anna And The French Kiss.

There were times when I really liked Winnie, but there were times when I didn’t like her at all.  I liked that she did question the prophecy, especially with how things with Raj turned out.  It was clear that the prophecy was a big part of her life, and though I don’t put a lot of emphasis on prophecies, I did like seeing how important it was to her family, and how astrology did play a big part in their lives.

I also liked how she a blog where she reviewed Bollywood movies.  Film was really important to her, and it’s what she wants to do career-wise.  I think it was that part of that made me think of Anna And The French Kiss.  It’s really cool to see books where the main character is into movies and wants to be a film critic, instead of an actor or director.

It was cool to see how much she loved Bollywood movies, and how it’s something she shares with her dad.  It’s interesting, because I feel like it doesn’t happen a lot in YA.  Of course, that would require parents to be around in YA, and that’s something that doesn’t happen often.  It’s nice to see her relationship with her family, and it was clear that family is important to all of them.

Wanting love and a happy ending was important for Raj, Dev, and Winnie.  In the case of Raj and Dev, it didn’t feel fake, and it’s nice to see a book where guys believe in love.

One thing that I thought was interesting was how each chapter started off with a rating of a Bollywood movie.  It was different, but I thought it really worked.  At the end of book, we also get Winnie’s reviews of each of the movies mentioned in the book.  I don’t know if it’s different in the print version, since I went with the audio book, but it was fun to hear her actual reviews.  I thought it worked well at the end of the audio, especially because I don’t know that it would have worked at the beginning of each chapter.  It would be cool to see it worked into each chapter in the print version.

Speaking of the audio book, I really liked the narrator!  I felt like she really captured who Winnie is as a person.  I’m glad I went with audio for this one.  Looking back, I don’t know if I would have liked nearly as much if I read it, but it worked really well on audio.

4 stars.  I really liked My So-Called Bollywood Life.  It’s a really cute contemporary romance, and worth reading!

Book Review: Karma Khullar’s Mustache by Kristi Wientge

Book: Karma Khullar’s Mustache by Kristi Wientge

Published August 2017 by Simon Schuster Books For Young Readers|272 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Debut author Kristi Wientge tackles the uncomfortable—but all too relatable—subject of female body hair and self-esteem with this sweet and charming novel in the tradition of Judy Blume.

Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.

With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.

I think I’ve been in a middle grade contemporary mood lately because this is one of a few I’ve read recently.  I mostly read YA (and only rarely read middle grade), but this one jumped out at me because it tackles body hair.  I’ve read a lot of books in the 7.5 years I’ve been reviewing books and while I can’t always remember what I read a week or two ago, much less years ago, I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve read a book about a character dealing with body hair.

It does have a Judy Blume feel to it (for some reason, I’m specifically reminded of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret), and I think Judy Blume fans will enjoy this one.  Regardless of whether you’ve read Judy Blume or not, this is a book I’m glad I picked up.

There is a lot that comes up in this book- food and identity, bullying, friendship, and much more.  It’s not long, and it’s middle grade, so it doesn’t go into a lot of depth, but I still thought that you get a really good sense of what Karma is dealing with.  I liked seeing her realize that both she and her best friend need other friends as well.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the new girl in town, who becomes friends with Karma’s best friend.  Even though I can understand why she acted the way she did, I still wasn’t a fan.  Hopefully, she’ll change and realize that she wasn’t always nice, and that how she treated Karma wasn’t cool.

Karma’s middle school experience was pretty relatable and I wish it had been around when I was around 11 or 12.  Not necessarily the friendship drama part, but the feeling insecure about how I looked part.  I’m glad that this book is on the shelves now, though, because I feel like it has an audience.

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, and I’m not quite sure why, but I still really liked it, and would recommend it to everyone.

Book Review: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Book: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Published March 2017 by Salaam Reads/Simon Schuster Books For Young Readers

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

I really liked this one!  It’s a cute middle grade contemporary, and I don’t read a lot of middle grade (or children’s books) but I think this is a good one to read.

I really liked Amina, and how she had a fear of performing in public.  It was really easy to relate to, and I am not a fan of public speaking, so I liked that Amina overcame it.  I also liked her friendship with Soojin, and how Amina starts questioning if she needs to change because Soojin starts talking about changing her name to something more American.

Amina is such a great character, and I dare you to not like her, because she’s thoughtful and caring.  She has a great friend in Soojin, and Khan captures what it’s like to be 12, when you’re unsure of who you are and where things stand.  You really see how things change between Amina and Soojin, but I really liked their friendship.  I feel like I’m a broken record on that one, but it’s true.

I also liked Amina’s relationship with her family, and I just liked seeing them together.  I really liked the family dynamic and that we see slightly differing opinions on things within one family (particularly in regards to music).

One thing I didn’t like was when a particular plot point was introduced.  We don’t see the local mosque being vandalized until the end of the book, and for some reason, I thought it would have been introduced a lot earlier.  I wish it had, because I really liked how the whole community came together after it happened.  I know it’s middle grade, so it’s not going to be very long (or very in-depth) but it would have been nice to have it be more of a focal point.

It didn’t stop me from really liking it.  I think it’s perfect for everyone- whether you read middle grade or not, this book did a great job at showing how we deal with faith and culture.  It’s also great for the intended age group, but regardless of how old you are, it’s one to read.

4 stars.  I really liked Amina’s Voice, and while I wish the vandalization of Amina’s mosque hadn’t been introduced so late in the book, I still really enjoyed Amina’s story.

Book Review: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Book: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Published May 2018 by Simon Pulse|336 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

I didn’t like this one as much as I thought.  I’ve been on a contemporary kick lately, but this one didn’t work for me.  Which makes me sad, because I really enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi, and I thought I’d really enjoy this one.

A big part of why I didn’t like this book was the format.  Twinkle writes letter to her favorite female filmmakers, which was cute.  But with the e-mails from her secret admirer and the texts added in as well, I had a hard time getting into the book.  In the midst of the letters, you’d see emails and texts, and then it would go back to the letters, and it was just irritating.  To the point that even though I went through this book pretty fast, it made me not care about what was going on.  And it took me out of Twinkle’s story, which didn’t help.

Then again, I thought Twinkle was absolutely terrible…so…yeah.  She really becomes self-centered, and she is terrible to Sahil, because he’s not his twin brother.  It’s clear he has feelings for her, and she does reciprocate those feelings, though maybe not initially.  She’s terrible to her best friend, and upset that her best friend has ditched her for the popular crowd, but doesn’t consider that maybe she’s part of the problem too.  She does find friendship and love in unexpected places, and at one point, it sounded like a complete set-up.  It wasn’t, and that was a relief, but I did expect Victoria to be up to something.

I was glad that Twinkle realized her part in things, and that her best friend apologized for how she treated Twinkle.  And the same with Hannah, but at the same, it was too late.  I mean, it did follow a progression, and Twinkle does take some time to realize things, but it was hard for me to actually care.

There were some funny moments in this book, and while it’s not set in the same world as When Dimple Met Rishi, it was written in the same vein- funny, guys you will probably swoon over, and heroine who knows what she wants.  It is weird, though, because some of the things I hated about Twinkle were things I loved about Dimple, but chances are, if you don’t like Dimple (the character) you probably won’t like Twinkle.  Unless you’re weird like I am.

I didn’t particularly about the romance in this one, which turns out to be a love square.  I didn’t particularly care about Neil being interested in Twinkle, and for some reason, I thought the emails were from Sahil.  They’re not, of course, but I was confused about how obvious it was that they were from him.  I was so, so wrong on that, and I don’t know why I didn’t connect it before.  I did find myself skimming over the texts and emails so maybe that’s why I didn’t connect everything.

At any rate, this book wasn’t for me.  Her books do sound really cool, so this one isn’t going to stop me from picking up her books in the future but I may be more hesitant going forward.

2 stars.  From Twinkle, With Love was okay, and I had a hard time getting into the book.  It was light-hearted and fun, but formatting and a heroine that was frustrating to read made it hard to like the book.

Book Review: My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula Freedman

Book: My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula Freedman

Published October 2013 by Harry N Abrams|256 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

During the fall leading up to her bat mitzvah, Tara (Hindi for “star”) Feinstein has a lot more than her Torah portion on her mind. Between Hebrew school and study sessions with the rabbi, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to hang out with her best friend Ben-o–who might also be her boyfriend–and her other best friend, Rebecca, who’s getting a little too cozy with that snotty Sheila Rosenberg. Not to mention working on her robotics project with the class clown Ryan Berger, or figuring out what to do with a priceless heirloom sari that she accidentally ruined. Amid all this drama, Tara considers how to balance her Indian and Jewish identities and what it means to have a bat mitzvah while questioning her faith.

I liked this one!  For me, it’s one of those books that’s hovering between middle grade and YA- there is something about it that is a little bit more YA, but I could easily see it as an older middle grade book.

I thought Tara was interesting, and I liked seeing her balance both her Indian and her Jewish identities.  There were a couple of things that really stood out to me.  One was a comment from one of her classmates about how she’s not really Jewish because her mom converted to Judaism, and the other was someone assuming she was Muslim because she was from India.  She was easy to relate to, and I really liked her relationships with both her family and her friends.

Adult me’s reaction is that if someone says they’re Jewish, then they’re Jewish…and I’m pretty sure teenage me would felt the same way.  But I also grew up Catholic, and my knowledge of other religions is pretty limited, so maybe I’m missing something here.  I just liked seeing her struggle with her identity, and how she struggled with her faith.  She is full of questions, and for some reason, I really liked that about her.

I did like Sheila and I really, one of the other characters in the book.  It seems like she gets whatever she wants, but she also has some issues she needs to work on.  I felt a little bad for her, but I also wish we saw more of her backstory, because I am curious about why she did some of the things she did.

Something else I wish we saw was more of her mom’s experience as an immigrant.  Tara and her mom are very different, and her mom seems wary of Tara connecting with her Indian culture.  There does seem to be a little bit of a disconnect at times, but they are also very different.  Still, at least a little about her experience immigrating to the US would have been nice, and I think it would have added something different to her relationship with Tara.  But she was still an interesting character.

I also liked the glossary at the end, which was helpful because there were a lot of phrases and words I wasn’t familiar with.  It was nice to actually see what they meant, instead of forgetting to google it later, or trying to figure out what it meant.  I like it when books include a glossary, and that Freedman recognized that not everyone is going to be familiar with some of the phrases we see throughout the book.

3 stars.  I liked it, and I especially liked Tara.  But while I liked it, I didn’t love it.  I thought a couple of things could have used some more backstory, but overall, I’d still recommend it.

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, Narrated by Sneha Mathan & Vikas Adam

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, narrated by Sneha Mathan & Vikas Adam

Published May 2017 by Dreamscape Media|Length: 10 hours, 45 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Now that Dimple Shah has graduated, she’s ready for a break from her family – especially from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the Ideal Indian Husband. Ugh. But Dimple knows that her mother must respect that she isn’t interested in doing that right now – otherwise she 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 – during which he’ll have to woo her – he’s totally onboard. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. Although their parents hadn’t planned suggesting the arrangement so soon, when their kids signed up for the same summer program, they figured why not?

I really liked When Dimple Met Rishi!  It’s a cute rom-com, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.  Well, listening in this case.

Actually, let’s start off with When Dimple Met Rishi as an audio book.  Usually I talk about that part last, for some reason, but since I’ve already mentioned that I listened to it, I might as well talk about it now.

I really liked it as an audio book, and I have the slightest feeling that had I read it, I probably wouldn’t have liked it as much.  I could picture Rishi and Dimple really well, and while I’ve never listened to anything narrated by either Mathan or Adams, I thought they did pretty well narrating both Dimple and Rishi respectively.  In particular, I really liked Mathan’s narration of Dimple’s chapters and she really captured who Dimple is as a person.  It’s not that Adams didn’t do the same for Rishi, because he did.  I just don’t think he did it to the degree that Mathan did with Dimple.

I think part of it is that I liked Dimple a lot more than Rishi.  Dimple is definitely spirited and determined and she knows what she wants.  Is she whiny and stuck-up?  Sure, but hopefully that will change as she gets olders.  She and Rishi do balance each other out, since Rishi is a loyal, hopeless romantic who wants everyone around him to be happy.  He’s more of a people-pleaser than Dimple ever will be, though I did find him a little more boring and unmemorable.

I admit that at first, I thought Rishi was a little pathetic.  He was really into the idea of an arranged marriage, and like I said, he’s a hopeless romantic.  He, especially at the beginning, was a lot more interested in Dimple, and things were definitely one-sided.  It’s mostly because Rishi knew, and Dimple didn’t, that they were a possible match. We do see why Rishi acts the way he does, and I slowly started to change my mind because of that.

There is one other reason why I changed my mind about Rishi.  It’s not fair to him that I saw him as a pathetic, hopeless romantic.  If the tables were turned, and if it were Dimple acting that way, would I have the same reaction?  No, probably not, because a big part of my reaction to Rishi at first was because Rishi’s a guy, and it’s not fair that I’m deciding how he should and should not act.  And as the book goes on, we do see why Rishi acts the way he does.  I think part of it is who he is, and I’m glad I changed my mind about Rishi.

It’s definitely your typical romantic-comedy, and there are actual obstacles to their relationship that aren’t related to random miscommunications.  Dimple’s hurtful and dishonest, and Rishi, while overprotective at first, does care about her.  She cares about him as well, and I liked that Dimple had no problem saying that she was at a different place in their relationship.  I liked that she needed more time and that marriage wasn’t something she was thinking about, even though Rishi seemed more ready for it.

Was marriage something her mom wanted for her?  Of course, but her mom also wanted her to be happy, and that was more important than Dimple getting married.

This book also has a lot of funny moments as well.  I laughed quite a few times, and I was frequently smiling as well. I think it really came across in the audio as well, because the tone of voice that both narrators used made a lot of moments really amusing and light and fun.

4 stars.  So, I didn’t love it, but I did really like it.  I think it’s great as an audio book, but I think it’s worth reading in any format.  It’s light-hearted and fun, and I definitely recommend it.

Book Review: Love, Hate And Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Book: Love, Hate And Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Published January 2018 by Soho Teen|281 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

I liked Love, Hate & Other Filters!  I really felt for Maya, and she’s likable and sympathetic.

I really loved how she wanted to go to film school, even though it’s not what her parents would have wanted (or chosen) for her.  You really see her struggle with her identity as an Indian-American teen, and I really liked her relationship with her aunt.

One thing I thought was interesting was her mom’s focus on Maya getting married.  I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like almost every single book focusing on Asian-American, Middle Eastern or Muslim characters has a mom who has this single-handed focus on getting her teenage daughter married.  I know arranged marriage is a custom (please forgive me if I phrased that wrong.  Also, please let me know the correct way if I did get wrong) in some cultures, but she did seem more focused on that than what was going on with her daughter, especially after a horrific event happens a few hundred miles away.

And while her parents did struggle with the idea of her going to New York, I can understand why they would change their mind.  Still, I can’t imaging being disowned because of a decision to do it anyway.  Part of me feels like that is something that happens, and I hope they come around.  They do love her, and they do worry about her, but I am having a hard time with understanding why they’d disown her, and why they weren’t more supportive.  I really do want to understand where they’re coming from, but I’m really struggling with that.

I hated how Maya treated in the aftermath of that event, and how she was lumped into the same group as the perceived perpetrator, just because he had the same last name.  I get that people were scared, and that took over, and people were acting in a completely different way then they were before.  Who wouldn’t be scared, after something like that?  But how people reacted wasn’t a surprise at all, and I felt like it highlighted really well how people treat those who are Muslim.  The Islamaphobia was handled really well, and I wouldn’t expect anything else.  Love, Hate & Other Filters is #ownvoices, and it felt very much like Maya was going through something Ahmed had experienced.

I did like seeing the chapters following the perpetrator of the attack.  They didn’t make sense at first- actually, they didn’t make sense until we actually see the crime, and then they started to make sense.  They gave some insight into that person’s thoughts, but even though they were different, I don’t know how much they actually added to the book. They did show that terrorism has no religion, and that anyone can be a terrorist, so there is that.

A lot of this book is romance, and I didn’t particularly care for it.  There are two possible love interests for Maya, and I didn’t care for either of them.  Not only that, but she dates one guy, only for it to not work out in the end?  It didn’t make any sense to me.

One last thing that didn’t make sense: Maya’s religion.  I know the blurb says Maya is Muslim, and I went into the book expecting that to be part of the book in some way.  But Maya never says she’s Muslim, she never prays…she never acknowledges that she’s Muslim.  I know everyone has their own relationship with religion, but I never got the sense that it was important to her.  I don’t know if it’s shame, or if she didn’t really believe in it but sort of adhered to it because of her parents.  I’m just confused about how the summary of the book mentions Maya is Muslim, but we never see any mention or acknowledgement of it.

3 stars.  The romance was superficial and boring, and I felt like some of the labels for the book didn’t actually match what we see in the book (namely religion).  I do think the hate crimes we see in the book, and the way Maya was treated after the terrorist attack were well done.  It just wasn’t enough to give the book a higher rating.