My So-Called Bollywood Life By Nisha Sharma – Review

“Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. 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. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and 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 find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.”

Before we get into my review lets just talk about some things. It might sound a little crazy to everyone but never have I ever read a YA book by a South Asian woman before. As a Pakistani woman that baffles me, like how is that possible? I don’t think I’ve even ever come across such a thing until I saw My So-Called Bollywood Life on the WHSmith website, therefore, I automatically had to buy it. Maybe this is a, me problem, where I just haven’t been looking hard enough for authors who have a similar background and culture to myself but I know for a fact that there is a lack of diversity in the book world and we definitely need more books like this one and the ones that already exist we need to do a much better job of making them visible and more easily available and accessible.

Nisha Sharma’s debut YA novel My So-Called Bollywood Life is what I would class as a teenage rom-com starring an Indian American teenage girl Winne Mehta. She is a film enthusiast who dreams of getting her Bollywood style love story. Being from an Indian family there are certain religious and cultural tradition that her family follows. They believe in astrology and that birth charts can predict your future so it is very interesting to see how out Winne

navigates with coming to terms with fate/destiny.

I love the family dynamics in this book it’s the perfect balance of what a loving family should look like. Winnie’s grandma might actually be my favourite character. I think South Asian grandmas are just really funny in general with their sassiness and those one-liners that they pull out of nowhere. I love that she speak in Punjabi throughout it makes it more delightful and adds to the charm of the book. I love Winnie’s relationship with her dad it is so wholesome and it is so cute that she gets her love of Bollywood films from him.

The layout of this book is something I really enjoyed. Each chapter starts with a mini-review of a classic Bollywood movie by Winne herself and it somewhat sets the tone for each of the chapters which I believe is very cleverly done by Nisha Sharma. As someone who wasn’t brought up on Bollywood and hasn’t actually ever seen a single Bollywood movie in their life, I was able to follow with ease and understand all the references which I really appreciate. So even as an outsider to the culture you can very easily develop an understanding of who Winne is and how she was brought up.

I really liked the fact that most of the main characters besides one maybe two are Indian. Both Winne’s love interests are Indian. I am not going to lie I think that is what excited me the most about this book. You read stories and watch tv shows about girls of different cultures in America and the UK who somehow fall in love with a white guy. Like there’s nothing wrong with that, you do you boo but this is not a hugely common thing. so it’s good to see some accurate representation that is relatable.

I’ll have to give My So-Called Bollywood Life a score of 3.5/5. I have nothing against this book it’s super cute, funny and so damn relatable! But I must say at one point I put the book down and didn’t really pick it up and finish until two months later. I would still recommend giving Winnie’s story a read because there are so many girls out there who haven’t yet seen themselves visibly represented in literature before and this book is a step forward in the right direction.

Five Books I Fell In Love with – YA Edition

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.

I am a sucker for a good book that makes you feel, all the emotions and this books did just that. The characters are so real and so raw it just makes everything about this book so much more endearing. Eleanor and Park’s struggles and insecurities are so relatable that it gives them that extra human factor. You could say that there is nothing extra special about these characters, everyone is so flawed but that is what makes them and this story so amazing. It just feels real like this is actually somebody’s story to tell. This book made me feel like I wanted to be a teenager and fall in love for the very first time all over again that is how much I was in my feels.
Score – 4/5

A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson
The people you love weren’t algebra: to be calculated, subtracted, or held at arm’s length across a decimal point.

I love a good murder/mystery, these are the kind of books that I live for!! Let me just tell this that when I purchased this book I just picked it up because the title was obviously calling out to me. In my head I painted this picture that this story was going to be about a girl who had finally cracked and killed a couple of people and had gotten away with it because why not? (maybe this is a book I need to write because clearly I have a thing for serial killers) Holly Jackson blew my mind – this is such a fast paced easy read with an exhilarating plot. It is a rollercoaster of emotions and I was living for it! The layout of the book is pretty awesome and out of the box. This book has very special place in my heart as someone who has a degree in journlaism because Pippa is a bad b and I want to be her.
Score – 5/5

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
“Maybe it’s not how something ends that matters. Maybe it’s about having something good, even for a little while.”

I know everyone says not to judge a book by it’s cover but I’m totally cover girl. If you look pretty or catch my eye I will be intrigued and most likely buy you. That is how I ended up with this beauty! I spent my whole birthday reading Opposite of Always and I have no regerts, none at all. This book breaks my heart but it also makes me so happy. There’s a little bit of everything in the story, love, friendship a lot personal growth and there is time travel! What more can you ask for? I’m not really one for time loops just because they tend to get tedious and they’ve been done so many times that they get predictable. I also get bored easily but I really enjoyed this book. It was hilarious – found myself laughing more often than thought I would. The story is so heartfelt and emotional in a good way but my heart was going through it reading this. Also one other thing I wanted to just big up the author for is how diverse all the characters in the book are. We love to see it! I look forward to reading more of his work in the near future because this is a beautiful debut!
Score 4.5/5

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right.”

If you haven’t already read this book or seen the movie I would just like to ask you where you’ve been for the past two years? Like go read it now!! This is such an important book with an even more important message. Angie Thomas did this, she created a book that resonates with so many people in one way or another. She approaches and tackles social, political & racial issues, real issues through fiction. This book is so layered and sadly so real, it broke my heart because there is someone out their who has lived parts of this or will live part of this and that makes me sick to even think about it. Education and awareness is so important and this book is just honest and thought provoking. I will forever recommend this book to everyone, teenagers and adults alike get yourself a copy!
(I’m not going to get all political in this post because I could go on forever but educate yourselves!!)
Score – 5/5

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
“Uncertainty isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it can even be filled with extraordinary potential.”

Look at all those stars on the cover – you know where I am going with this don’t you! The stars, the moon anything related to the beauty of the night sky will forever have a hold on my heart! This book is a true coming of age story with a heck of a lot of diversity and inclusion. I love it!!! Starry Eyes is just a bundle of crazy but the awesome kind. I love that the main characters aren’t conventional types that always tend to have a voice in most books. They are unique and quirky and so is everyone around them. I went through this book fairly quickly it’s just so fun and cute it kind of made me miss being so young and getting up to stupid shizz. A perfect summer read if you ask me.
Score – 4/5

The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy – Review

Okay, so I am back with another review!! I really wanted to make a youtube video about this trilogy just so my facial expressions could fully convey my feelings the way words may not be able to.

After reading To All The Boy’s I’ve Loved Before I just felt it in my soul that I needed to get my hands on The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy. It was a need more than a want. I searched high and low, I scoured the internet for months trying to get my hands all three book with the same cover art and honestly it was a very difficult task. And just when I had given up hope I randomly walked into my local The Works and there they were in all their glory, all three books packed together and guess how much they cost me… only 5 quid like totally worth the wait! Okay so now that this story is over let’s get into the books. I’m going to try my best to not give away any spoilers.

“Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer—they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.”

Book #1 focuses on Belly (Isabel) going back to Cousin’s Beach for the summer with her mother and brother. They stay there every summer with their mum’s best friend and her boys. From the title, it of course, implies that Belly is now older and prettier and is getting somewhat more attention from the boys so as any normal teenage girl would want, she’s hoping that she can capture the heart of her long time crush.

The story mainly consists of flashbacks relaying the backstory and the dynamics between the characters. Belly, her brother – Steven, Conrad – her crush and of course Jeremiah – Conrad’s Brother (who I am just going to add is so obviously in love with Belly) Yes there is a love triangle wait no there is a love square but it does not evolve the way one would expect it to. The whole book is really a cat and mouse sort of situation – the whole series is. I wish I could  elaborate more without giving everything away but that is not possible.

One of my favourite things about this book is that I love Susannah so much. She is the one character in this book that I would be infatuated with in real life. She sounds like a wholesome being who is an amazing friend, a great mother and a wonderful second mum to Belly. I think the one thing that really just captured my heart was that Belly loves Susannah like she is her own mother sometimes not realising that her mother is just as amazing and Susannah always lets her know it.

It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come. But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started—at Cousins Beach.

Book #2 I don’t really know how I felt about this one. It took me a lot longer to get into and I really wanted to strangle all the character especially Belly. Who after everything is still acting like a selfish little child but so is everybody else around her. She’s not a good friend and I don’t think she was in any way a good girlfriend. Honestly, a lot happens but at the same time it doesn’t if that makes sense. Belly is supposed to spend summer with her best friend Taylor but Belly being Belly she wants to be at the beach house and she is making it really obvious that this is not the summer she wanted. So when Jeremiah calls her to ask for her help looking for Conrad she could not be happier.

Conrad’s disappearance adds some much needed  layers to this story. I feel like he was just filling his big brother role and trying his best. As the eldest child, I can tell you we get tunnel vision when it comes to doing what we think is best for our family and protecting others so regardless of what anyone else says I am team, Conrad. We also get to see Jeremiah’s point of view in this book and it gives you more of an understanding of who he is and why he is the way that he is. We get to see what his family is like from his perspective rather than just seeing the Fishers from Belly’s point of view. The love triangle intensity has gone up but at least it’s not a square anymore. There is a lot of nostalgia and an over looming sense of sadness and acceptance in this book and I think it makes a great segue into the third.

“Belly has only ever been in love with two boys, both with the last name Fisher. And after being with Jeremiah for the last two years, she’s almost positive he is her soul mate. Almost. While Conrad has not gotten over the mistake of letting Belly go, Jeremiah has always known that Belly is the girl for him. So when Belly and Jeremiah decide to make things forever, Conrad realises that it’s now or never—tell Belly he loves her, or lose her for good.”

Okay, I have so many yet so little words for this book. Gurrrll!!! I was shook. I’m not even exaggerating, I was about seven pages in and confused about life. Fine, the blurb gives it away that Jeremiah is with Belly and there is a time jump but just reading it I was like noooo whyyy is this happening?!?! The more and more I read the more and more I was like I can not stand Jeremiah his character did a complete 180 and the entire time I was thinking who is this idiot? Honestly, it’s fine that his character did because you are always evolving through life and the things that happen to you or around you shape you over time but he just turned out to be not likeable at all.

I tried so hard to love Belly throughout the series but in the end, I just couldn’t. In this book, you start to see some personal growth and a young woman coming into her own. She even starts to own some of her shortcomings which is amazing but then she just goes back to being her immature self. It comes across as though she thinks the whole world revolves around her. Which is a very unlikeable trait in anyone. I like Conrad to an extent but if a guy did to me what Conrad has done to Belly over the series I would have slapped some sense into him by now. ( I do not condone violence please do not take that away from this. kthanks!) I feel like the only person who has changed is Taylor. She has matured and is so much more likeable and trust me when I say this because I hated Taylor in the first two books.

Overall out of all the books I think #3 has the most amount of drama and craziness but as they say if you’re going to go out, go out with a bang and that is what Jenny Han has done with this book! A little disappointed that the ending didn’t give us readers a bit more of what we would’ve liked i.e a Conrad and Belly scene but needless to say I am satisfied with the ending.

I would give this series a 3/5 don’t get me wrong these books are a perfect quick read, out in the summer sun. They make you feel nostalgic for a beach house summer with your best friends. I’ve always wanted a house by the water and reading about Belly’s summers has really ignited my love for that dream again. Part of me thinks that if I read these books when they first came out, when I was much younger maybe I would have fallen in love with these books because my perspective on life would’ve been a lot different but unfortunately that is not the case now.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Collection – Review

I’ve never written a book review before so here goes nothing…

all three
I totally forgot I didn’t have a picture of all three books together so I had to run outside just now and take this…

I must admit I had never really heard of Jenny Han before. I think I may have come across her once or twice while watching a few booktubers just mention her in what they were currently reading but I had never looked into who she is or what she has written.

My interest in Jenny Han sparked when I saw the new Netflix trailer for To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.  Immediately I fell in love when I saw the main character was going to be played by an Asain. Like YASS, hello, so excited!! The premise also looked pretty interesting but more so intriguing. I wanted to know how it was all going to play out and I’m impatient so I wasn’t going to wait until the movie came out so instead I bought the books.

Okay so a little background on the author, Jenny Han is an Asain American writer. She writes Young Adult Novels and has previously written a trilogy called The Summer I Turned Pretty and apparently it’s really good. She has also co-written other stories but we’re not going to focus on those.

Okay so let’s talk about To All The Boys I’ve Before…

to all the boys i loved before

Here’s the blurb.

“What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?  Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.”

First things first I am a sucker for anything cute and romantic when it comes to books. I love the idea of someone falling in love and being able to read about their journey. So when I picked up this book I kind of knew what to expect because the premise was laid out for us in the trailer and of course the blurb gives us a vivid enough picture. The book itself is very pretty. I love the cover and how girly it is, there’s just something about it that would make a teenage girl want to pick this book up and read it. Hey, it made a 25-year-old want to do that.

The story follows the journey of Lara Jean Covey who is biracial, she is half Korean and half Caucasian. You rarely find books especially YA books that have a POC as their lead. So it was quite endearing because representation really does matter especially through creative outlets. I also love the fact that Lara Jean is the middle child. How many stories do you read about middle children? None come to mind. Honestly, it was kind of refreshing to read through her perspective.

One of the main reasons I love this book is because of how easy it was to read. I finished it in 4 days. The writing style is very light and playful and kind of how do I put this amateurish because there is no complexity to any of it. I personally feel as though that adds to the charm of the book and also conveys Lara Jean’s personality and her innocence. So fair play Jenny Han, fair play.

Before I picked up this book, I had a little look on Goodreads to see what people thought of it. I mainly came across comments such as people didn’t like Lara Jean because she comes across as very childish and immature for her age. She is supposed to be 16 but acts a lot younger than she should be.  Hmm I have to disagree because I feel like a lot of us are forgetting how immature and naive we were at 16. You are still a child and everyone develops and matures differently, at their own pace.  For me, how Lara Jean is bought up, her family circumstances and who she is as a person comes across very well throughout the book.

She is quirky, goofy and a little bit whimsical, she quotes Sleepless in Seattle (which is one of my favourite films btw) She likes to keep a hold on old things, she writes letters to her crushes and keeps them in a hatbox which her mother gave to her if that isn’t the cutest thing ever I don’t know what is. I kinda love Lara Jean because she is a voice for many unheard teenagers.

Okay so less rambling and on to the story itself. The book started off slowly in the romantic department and is more so based on her family dynamics. Lara Jean has two sisters, One older sister Margot and a younger sister Kitty. He dad is an OBYGN and her mother passed away when she was younger. You grow to love each family member as they add so much depth and personality to the story. My personal favourite is Kitty, she is my long lost soul sister!

Even though we are initially fed the idea that there are five love letters which is in fact true. The story only focuses on two main love interests, Josh and Peter. You’ve got the boy next door who is seemingly the perfect boyfriend. Yes, he is dating Lara Jean’s sister Margot. Again I feel like people were criticising the fact that Lara Jean was in love with her sister’s boyfriend but if we take a step back and think rationally. When you grow up with someone and you are in such close proximity to this person and you do everything together you tend to develop feelings and I’m sorry sometimes the line gets blurred but you can’t really help how you feel.

Next, you have my main man Peter. He is your childhood best friend/crush who gets popular and hot and dates the popular girl but you have a bit of history.  The two strike a deal to pretend to be together to help each other out. I found myself rooting for Peter throughout the book even though their relationship was fake it was a nice good clean romance. Which made me like the book even more. It is kinda fluff but the feel-good kinda fluff that addresses issues that a lot of teenagers face when it comes to love, family or just finding yourself.

The only thing I found slightly frustrating about this book was the fact that it ended on a cliffhanger. Like girrrrrl, if I didn’t already have the second book next to me I would be so mad. I guess it’s a good job that I did.

ps i still love you

The Blurb

“Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?”

Book number two is a continuation of book one. You are thrown right in. Lara Jean loves to write letters and that how this book starts. It’s nice to see how Lara Jean has developed and grown even if it is only a little as a person and I think the letter to Peter shows that she is coming to terms with how she feels. The book is centred around her and Peter making their relationship real.  The main focus in this book is the romance, we don’t really see any development outside that department whether it be family or friendships. So that was a little bit disappointing but I knew there was another book to go so I was okay with that.

In this instalment, another boy is thrown into the mix. He is one of the lucky five who received letters. He is also a childhood friend who grew up with both Peter and Lara Jean. I think adding him into the mix added a little bit more drama because you’ve got Lara Jean crushing on someone who is not her boyfriend and her boyfriend is spending more time with his ex.

I really give props to Jenny Han for trying to tackle an issue that is prevalent in this day an age. That being social media and anonymous online posting essentially cyberbullying. We see how both characters who are very different handle the situation. It also explores and points out double standards in society and how women receive the short end of the stick and guys just seem to get away without even an acknowledgement.

This book is the most eventful out of the three and moves a lot quicker than the first one. I’m not going to lie I don’t know how I felt about the ending just because I kinda saw it coming but at the same time, I didn’t want it to happen.

always & forever

The Blurb

“Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends. Life couldn’t be more perfect! At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news. Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

I loved seeing each character come into their own and maturing especially our main character, Lara Jean. I felt like a proud older sister reading this book. We watch, well we read how she finally makes decisions for herself. One thing I love about Lara Jean is that when she is stressed out she bakes and I relate to that so much!! I just found myself laughing to myself at times.

We again get to explore her family dynamics and how everything has changed and developed since last had a proper look. Lara Jean’s Dad is getting married, Margot has a boyfriend and Kitty is just ever so wonderful and witty as ever!

You see a real side to our main character that lots of teenagers are able to relate to. She has applied for colleges and she is waiting to find out if she got in and you experience her anxiety with her because it is something we have all experienced in one way or another. Planning for the future and sometimes things don’t go to plan just like with Lara Jean. I think there is a moral to the story though, everything happens for a reason and sometimes something better is waiting for you. You just have to be brave enough to make the right choices for yourself.

Again this book was a little slow, there was hardly any drama except for Peter and Lara Jean not communicating properly and having one argument. Most of the drama, if there is any, it is centred around trying to get into college and making life fit with those plans. Other than that the book has an overall happyish theme going on.

Overall though I think it was a good conclusion to the series and we left our character feeling differently about them than we felt in the beginning. I was left feeling hopeful for what was to come in the future for both Lara Jean and Peter but also I felt like if they weren’t to make it, in the long run, it would be okay as well.

If I had to rate these books I would give them a 4/5 as an average because I did enjoy them but I didn’t fall in love completely. I might feel differently after I’ve had a little time to let all of it sink in but I feel like these books will be on my shelf for a long time to come and maybe one day I’ll have kids and I’ll suggest they give these books a whirl as they are good light-hearted reads that make you laugh, feel emotional and warm inside all at the same time.