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 their are a certain religious and cultural tradition that her family follows. They believe in astrology and birth charts can predicate your future so it is very interesting to see how out MC 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 they 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 a very cleverly done by Nisha Sharma. As someone who wasn’t bought 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 bought 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 of 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 me feel all the emotions and this books did just that. The characters are so real and so raw it just makes the book so much more endearing. Eleanor and Park’s struggles and insecurities are so relatable that it gives them that extra human factor. 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 just 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 are what 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 my name. In my head I painted this picture that this going to be about a girl who had finally cracked and killed a couple of people and got away 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 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 and that is how I ended up with this book! I spent my whole birthday reading Opposite of Always and I have no regerts. This book breaks my heart but it makes it so happy too. There’s a little bit of everything in the story, love, friendship a lot personal growth and time travel! What more can you ask for? I’m not really one for time loops just because they tend to get tedious and I get really bored easily but I really enjoyed this book. It was hilarious – found myself laughing more often thought I would and it’s so heartfelt 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!
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 of. 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.
(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 by even the slightest has me intrigued. This book is 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