Book Review: Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavours by Dev Sonali

As you may know, my prefered all-time classic is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen so when I saw that another retelling of my favourite had been written, I had to read the story. Harper Collins Canada graciously sent me a copy of the ARC Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavours by Dev Sonali.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Retellings

Blurb:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

·       Never trust an outsider

·       Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations

·       And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

My thoughts:

I loved this story right from the start. And when I read the line “It is a universally acknowledged truth …” amongst its pages, I could not help but grin.

As in Austen’s novel, the thread running through the story is the exploration of both pride and of prejudice. Both of the main characters, Trisha and DJ, feel pride in what they do and exhibit prejudice towards one another. Trisha reminds me of the haughty Elizabeth Bennet who is quick to judge but slowly comes to realise the truth of others and the rashness of her assumptions. Just like Elizabeth, Dr Trishe Raje is proud: proud of her work, proud of who her family is, proud of what she has thus far achieved in her life. In spite of her pride, Trisha is a character I could relate to as Dev describes the less perfect side of her personality.

Everyone loves the character Darcy; and everyone will love chef DJ Caine who is the Darcy character in Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavours. Unlike in the original Austen story, Dj does not come from an elite background (Dev flipped the social status of the main characters in her novel). His experience, however, has made him a mature person who is still quick to prejudge. While reading the novel, I found myself rooting for him. I wanted him to be successful in spite of all the difficulties he had experienced, and was currently experiencing. Knowing the end of the story (it is a retelling after all), did not prevent me from wishing the best for the Darcy-like character.

One of the best things about this retelling is that it is a story that can be added to my collection of novels featuring characters of a diverse background. The bonus? Chef DJ Caine is of mixed race. I do admit to having a fondness for stories featuring characters in this group as my own children are of mixed race. It is a treat to read stories featuring a mix of race and culture as it shows to readers that being of mixed race is acceptable (or at least, that it should be). In addition to featuring the mixed race, the novel features the experience of some of the people in this group – even the negative. The novel is not one that skims over a happy surface, but also highlights a few uncomfortable experience.

Sonali Dev has written a wonderful retelling of a beloved well-known classic and has done it with humour and expertise. Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavours is a lighthearted romantic comedy that leaves you with a feel-good feeling.

I give this novel an unreserved ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 41st in my book pledge for 2019)

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A little more of The Library of Lost and Found

My favourite read so far this month is definitely The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick. (You can read my review here.) The extract I have chosen to share with you describes the main character, Martha, and the current state of her home:

“Bin bags and other boxes lined the floor in here, too, all neatly labeled. All contained her parents’ things, or stuff that didn’t have a home, or jobs she had taken on and hadn’t given back.

Feeling daunted by the size of the task facing her, Martha wrapped her arms across her chest. She wondered if Gina had glanced inside the room when she used the bathroom. Her cheeks flushed as she imagined what her nana’s carer might describe her as. A hoarder? A bit strange? Can’t let go of the past?

Could any of those be true? (p213-214, Harlequin, 2019)

The quoted words give you a hint that the novel is so much more than what a reader would expect.

What do you think of the extract I shared? Would you pick up the book?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)

Book Review: The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

I popped into the library and was surprised – and very pleased – when I saw a new release on the shelves that I wanted to read. Not only did the cover of The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick appeal to me, but also the blurb on the book jacket.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery

Blurb:

Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.

All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.

Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heartwarming and poignant tale of how one woman must take control of her destiny to write her own happy ending. 

My thoughts:

I loved this book so much – so much more than I thought I would. Martha is a woman who has given up her life and dreams to look after aging parents and who, once they have passed, dedicates her life to helping others. However, her help is not appreciated and is instead abused. While reading of her struggles, I empathised with her and felt sadness at what her life had become.

Martha’s life slowly changes as she determines to find out what had happened to her grandmother. On her journey, the reader sees her gathering self confidence and the assurance that what she is doing is right for her. Her determination sets the tone of the novel and slowly the sense of sadness dissipates and is replaced with one of hope. The journey started with a book leads to the main character finding out more about herself and as well as her grandmother.

Recently I have read a number of young adult novels which centre on a young person finding their own voice. Patrick has written an #ownvoices novel too – but the person finding herself is middle aged. I loved reading about an older woman who had yet to find herself and who had yet to garner the courage to speak up for herself. I loved reading that older people too need the opportunity to build self esteem and self confidence.

I finished The Library of Lost and Found with a sense of satisfaction. The story ends on a positive note and with a sense of hope, even though events tinge the story with sadness. This novel is one I would recommend for those readers who enjoy stories with a sense of reality as well as hope.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars with no reservation.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 38th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

I received Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner in the Indigo Book Box with Geekerella by Ashley Postun. Gardner describes a fandom in her novel which promised to be interesting – especially as my own daughter plays Dungeons and Dragons.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction

Blurb: 

Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dude bro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

My thoughts:

I loved this story about fandom, cosplay, and believing in yourself enough to show the world what you love doing. Chaotic Good, however, is more than just about a fandom. It is about a young girl who comes to believe in herself and in her right to be who she is no matter who surrounds her. It is about a girl who comes to realise that it is okay to be who she is and to follow her passion.

As I was reading the story, I could not help but be reminded of the geeks playing Dungeons and Dragons in The Big Bang Theory – a true representation of geekdom and fandom. I enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoy watching the show. I enjoyed reading about the camraderie that develops between the players of the game – and how they learn to support one another.

The story does not only encompass the camaraderie between geeks. It also references online bullying. The internet trolls do affect Cameron and for a moment she believes what they are saying about her. She has to learn that with support from her family and friends, she can overcome the negativity that the online harassment brings. So many our our teens face this problem and it is good to see this in a book.

I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys fandoms and stories about a young person growing into the realisation that they are good enough. This is a book I will pass onto my daughter as I know she will enjoy this read.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 14th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

I absolutely loved The Hating Game by Sally Thorne so when I saw that she had written another novel, 99 Percent Mine, I knew I had to read it.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Blurb: 

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

My thoughts:

When I read 99 Percent Mine, I was looking for a romance and I was not disappointed. I loved this story. Maybe not as much as The Hating Game – but almost as much. I enjoyed that Darcy still loves the man she fell in love when she was younger and yet she had the chance to grow as a person through her adventures. The sparks between her and Jamie are there but not immediately acted upon which makes for a fun story.

The romantic relationship between a man and a woman is not the only relationship spoken about in this novel. We read as well about the relationship between Darcy and her twin brother. The sibling relationship is not the focus of the story but does play a part. It is a relationship that grows – as does any sibling relationship during our lifetime.

99 Percent Mine is a fun story that I curled up with on the sofa and that left me smiling. This lighthearted read is one I will easily reread in a couple of years and highly recommend it if you are looking for a satisfying story that will leave you feeling contented.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 13th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

A Cinderella retell, geekiness, and fan fiction. I could not resist reading Geekerella by Ashley Poston.

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Retelling

Blurb:

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic science-fiction series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck and her dad’s old costume, Elle’s determined to win – unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons – before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he has ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake – until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part-romance, part-love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

My thoughts: 

This was a sweet romance between two young people that reminded me of my young daughter – who  definitely has her fandoms. Not only does she have her fandoms, but as a young girl she loved the Cinderella story. I enjoyed the modern retelling of her favourite Disney princess – and loved how the aspect of fandom was woven within it. When reading the blurb, I was intrigued by the suggestion of the combination. Did the writer do a good job? Yes, I believe she did. The utter seriousness of those following fandoms is integrated with the notion of an uncaring stepmother who takes advantage of her stepchild.

Geekerella is a simple story that kept me smiling. It is a modern tale that embraces the magic of fandom, and which encouraged me to keep turning thepages. It is the perfect read for those like my daughter – a teen who will understand the seriousness of fandoms, and who wishes for a little romance. I enjoyed this lighthearted read and look forward to reading Postons upcoming book The Princess and the Fangirl. 

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 7th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Christmas at the Little Clock House on the Green by Eve Devon

It was the time before Christmas and I decided to pick up a little Christmas read to get me in the mood. Christmas at the Little Clock House on the Green by Eve Devon seemed the perfect choice for me.

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb: 

After giving his heart last year only to have it given away the very next day, Jake Knightley is opting out of Christmas—permanently! But then a beautiful new village arrival sets mayhem in motion, upsetting all his carefully laid plans.

Emma Danes has said goodbye to Hollywood and will do anything to help make the clock house a success, even working closely with the tempting Mr Knightley.

Now, as snow starts to fall and romance starts to bloom, Emma and Jake may just find themselves repeating Whispers Wood history beneath the mistletoe…

My thoughts: 

This book was the perfect read for the mood I was in. It is lighthearted with some romance thrown in, and helped me get into the festive mood for Christmas. As I was reading the story, I realised that there was a prequel to this tale. Not having read it, however, did not prevent me from enjoying this novel.

Devon’s story was enchanting, and caused a smile on my face as I was reading. The story also made me think of Jane Austen’s Emma with the main characters being Emma and Jake Knightley (a landowner with not much money). It was fun to read the subtle references to the an older story set in an 1800s English village. In spite of the references to an older story, Christmas at the Little Clock on the Green is a contemporary story that a modern woman can relate.

Even though it didn’t wow me, I enjoyed this novel. It is a romance story that did not disappoint.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 89th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: The Life Lucy Knew by Karma Brown

I attended an event at the Harper Collins Canada offices and had the opportunity to hear Karma Brown speak about her novel The Life Lucy Knew. The synopsis intrigued me and I was interested to hear what would develop in the story.

Genre: Women’s fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb: 

One woman is about to discover everything she believes-knows-to be true about her life…isn’t.

After hitting her head, Lucy Sparks awakens in the hospital to a shocking revelation: the man she’s known and loved for years-the man she recently married-is not actually her husband. In fact, they haven’t even spoken since their breakup four years earlier. The happily-ever-after she remembers in vivid detail-right down to the dress she wore to their wedding-is only one example of what her doctors call a false memory: recollections Lucy’s mind made up to fill in the blanks from the coma.

Her psychologist explains the condition as honest lying, because while Lucy’s memories are false, they still feel incredibly real. Now she has no idea which memories she can trust-a devastating experience not only for Lucy, but also for her family, friends and especially her devoted boyfriend, Matt, whom Lucy remembers merely as a work colleague.

When the life Lucy believes she had slams against the reality she’s been living for the past four years, she must make a difficult choice about which life she wants to lead, and who she really is.

My thoughts: 

The synopsis of this novel intrigued me: what would happen if someone forgot moments of their life and confused their own memories with that of others? I believe that a lot of people would be upset, and that it would be a roller coaster of emotions for the person experiencing the memory loss. It is this continuous charge of emotions a person would feel that Karma Brown so aptly portrays. The reader gets to experience Lucy’s utter conviction that her false memories are real; and reads with understanding the seesaw of emotions that the protagonist feels as she tries to sift through what is real and what is not real.

While reading Lucy’s story, my heart felt for her. It wept at those moments when Lucy realised, on her own, that the memories she currently held so dear had been mixed up and were not what she believed them to be. While reading the story, I kept hoping that she would end up where she was meant to be and where she had been before her accident. It was this hope that kept me turning the pages of the novel.

The Life Lucy Knew is a romance – but a romance with a difference. Girl had already met boy – but she had forgotten what he had meant to her. The novel is about a girl following her heart and finding, once again, where she is meant to be – and with whom. Lucy’s story is written with a sensitivity that readers of emotional reads will enjoy. It is a story that will touch your heart.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 82nd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: The Silver Queen by Josie Jaffrey

I loved The Guilded King by Josie Jaffrey, and was eager to read the second book in the Sovereign series, The Silver Queen.

Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy, Dystopian, Vampires

Blurb: 

The last city on Earth is contaminated. Now blood is the only thing that can wash it clean.

Julia is trapped inside the Blue as the Nobles fight over the few humans who are still alive. When the dust settles and she finds herself shackled to a new master, she knows she must escape or die.

Meanwhile, Cam has gathered a handful of comrades and is on his way into the Red to rescue his queen. But not all of his friends can be trusted, and not all of them will make it back alive.

The Silver Queen is the second book in Josie Jaffrey’s Sovereign trilogy, set in a dystopian Europe where vampiric Nobles control the last remnants of the human race.

My thoughts: 

I opened the pages of this novel eagerly as the last novel in the series had left me wanting more. Jaffrey dove right into the story, picking up where she had left off. Once again I immersed myself in the world of the Noble vampires, and in the experience of my favourite characters. The answers to my questions were weaved expertly into the tale as the experience of the vampires and humans were described. I found myself figuratively biting my nails as I read what happens to Julia; my heart beat just a little faster as I read Cam’s adventures.

The second novel in The Sovereign Series does not disappoint. I eagerly turned the pages, and I found the story difficult to put down. As I read, I could imagine the events playing in my mind. The Silver Queen is a well written and well-crafted story that deserves a place among the best of the Dystopian novels. If you have not yet given this series a try, I recommend that you do so – especially if you enjoy dystopian stories, vampires, and tales of fantasy.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 79th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

I won an ARC of Us Against You by Fredrik Backman. When I received the novel, I saw that it was a sequel to Beartown and decided that I needed to read the first book in order to enjoy the second.

Genre: Contemporary fiction, hockey

Blurb: 

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

My thoughts: 

I was a bit hesitant to read this book as the story suggests a tale of hockey – and I am not a sports person at all. But the book is so much more than a story about sports. It is a story about community, a story about hopes and dreams, a story about relationships and loyalty. It is a story about issues that communities keep to themselves and how that silence can affect a person.

From being hesitant about reading this story, I have become a fan of Backman’s writing. His words have caused me to feel emotion, and his descriptions of a life in a small town that breathes hockey encouraged me to love his characters. Reading the story reminded me of those family films centring on sports that always have a good moral behind it but instead this story is more adult. It is a story that shows the underbelly of humanity – and yet also shows its positive side. The statements made by the author throughout the novel are succinct, and yet get straight to the heart of the issue.

I would highly recommend this novel – even if you do not watch or play hockey. You will feel emotional, you will feel anger. And you will come to understand what being part of a sports team can be to a person.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars with no reservation.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 77th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)