Book Review: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

I was intrigued by the synopsis of The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary and had read good things about it on social media. The school year was over and I needed some light reading to relax. A romantic comedy seemed to be the perfect solution.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
 

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. 

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

My thoughts:

Imagine sharing a bed with someone – and yet never seeing them! I loved this unique story that in no way felt forced. The friendship between the two flatmates evolves slowly as they get to know one another by notes and through their habits. The magic between the two characters happens even before they meet.

The Flatshare not only has a unique story line, but also characters that grow and evolve as the story progresses. Both Tiffy and Leon, the flatmates, need to come to some realisations about themselves and what they want to do with their lives before they can move forward in committing to a healthy relationship. While reading the story, I could definitely see a message from the writer: finish with your current relationship and work out why it is not working before moving forward into one that is more beneficial to you.

O”Leary has written a lighthearted and heartwarming read that will have you curious and smiling. The writing is fluid and the author has cleverly shown us the basics of getting to know a person. The Flatshare is a rom-com that I will surely read again in a few years when I am looking for an uplifting read that I can peruse in an afternoon.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 59th in my book pledge for 2019)

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A Buddy Re-Read

I have been encouraging my friend to read a retelling of Pride and Prejudice: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin. The novel has been written by a Canadian author who lives here in Toronto and showcases a culture that my friend and I do not know too much of.

My friend has begun the novel and would love to discuss it with me. I read the book over a year ago and have forgotten the finer details. Currently I am re-reading this rom-com and tagging it with points I would like to discuss.

Have you re-read a book in order to discuss it with friends?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. The theme for the month of July is “blue”.)

Book Review: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

I received an ARC of The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai wfrom Harper Collins Canada. I was looking forward to reading the novel as I was in the mood for some romantic comedy and this story looked interesting.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules: 

– Nude pics are by invitation only 

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice 

– Protect your heart 

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears. 

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

My thoughts:

The Right Swipe focuses on internet dating – an experience which I, myself, have not had to go through. The author has made provisions for readers like me who will not know the terms (such as ‘ghosting’) by explaining them through her character Samson Lima. I could definitely relate to him as he wandered through the quagmire of online dating. Some of his responses made me smile and confirmed that I had picked up a lighthearted read.

Even though Rai’s novel is an easy read of the romance genre, character development and growth does occur in the story. It is this character development that I enjoy to read – Rhiannon Hunter, for example, comes to some realisations about herself. She learns what it is that has been preventing her from having a committed relationship with someone. And once she accepts her shortcomings, she is open to considering the inclusion of a partner in her life.

The Right Swipe is a diverse read that features a strong female character. I enjoy stories with strong female characters as so often women are expected to downplay their strengths. Seeing strong women in stories suggests to readers that being strong is not a weakness, and is instead something to be proud of. The novel is also one that hints at the prejudices a person has of those met online. It is these prejudices that have to be acknowledged and worked through in order to appreciate who a person is.

I picked up The Right Swipe hoping for a light and easy read – and was not disappointed.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 57th in my book pledge for 2019)

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)

Book Review: The Object of Your Affections by Falguni Kothari

While at the OLA Super Conference in February, I picked up an ARC of The Object of Your Affections by Falguni Kothari at the Harper Collins booth. The story intrigued me as it is a little different to what one would expect of a romance – it is definitely a story that pushes the social boundaries.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Paris Kahn Fraser has it all—a successful career as an assistant district attorney, a beautiful home in New York City, and a handsome, passionate husband who chose her over having a family of his own. Neal’s dream of fatherhood might have been the only shadow in their otherwise happy life…until Paris’s best friend comes to town.

Naira Dalmia never thought she’d be a widow before thirty. Left reeling in the aftermath of her husband’s death, all she wants is to start over. She trades Mumbai for New York, and rigid family expectations for the open acceptance of her best friend. After all, there isn’t anything she and Paris wouldn’t do for each other.

But when Paris asks Naira to be their surrogate, they’ll learn if their friendship has what it takes to defy society, their families and even their own biology as these two best friends embark on a journey that will change their lives forever.

My thoughts:

I liked this story because it centres around an unusual concept – the main character asks her best friend to be her surrogate even though she is able to bear children. It is interesting to see how the people in her life respond to her out-of-the-box thinking. As the reader, I was asked to think of my own prejudices and consider the unusual arrangement Paris wishes to embrace – and think about whether this sort of arrangement would actually work in reality.

Paris is a character who does not embody my favourite type of person. She is self-centred, selfish and arrogant. She focuses on what she wants and how she c attain in it. She does, however, come to a few realisations in the novel about herself. She does not, however, become a selfless woman who abandons her desires. Instead, her self-realisation softens her arrogance a little and helps her to consider other important aspects in her life. Naira, on the other hand, is a woman who allows things to be done to her and does not fight for what she wants. That is, until she is physically away from her domineering family. She, too, grows in the story and blossoms into a more modern woman.

The Object of Your Affections is a novel that show the antithesis between two types of two women. While showing a culture in which women are expected to behave in a certain way, it highlights how women are starting to find ways to achieve what it is they want in modern society. Kothari wrote a romance novel but she put a different spin on it. It is romance in modern society; romance that breaks all the expected moulds.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 29th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

I was in the mood for reading a romance and while browsing the tables at my local book store, I came across The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli. The story interested me as it centres around a culture so different to mine. The bonus is that the novel was written by a Canadian.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

One devoted modern girl + a meddlesome, traditional grandmother = a heartwarming multicultural romantic comedy about finding love where you least expect it.

Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it–or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina’s side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she’s ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn’t know won’t hurt her…

As Raina’s life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother’s dreams.

My thoughts:

This book was so interesting to read because it is set within a culture so different to mine. I grew up knowing that the choice of my life-partner would be mine – and yet in this book I read of a community that encourages matchmaking and pseudo arranged marriages. The dates that Raina, the protagonist, goes on made me smile – as did her response. The novel definitely embraces the humour of the situation that she finds herself in. It was interesting to see how she negotiated her way around the matchmaking practices of her grandmother.

The Matchmaker’s List is not just a ‘fluffy’ read. Instead it comments on matchmaking and why it may, or may not be, suitable for a modern woman. It also suggests that the desire to match-make comes from a place of love. We see a strong relationship between Raina and her grandmother – and soon realise why she would accept to go on the dates her beloved Nani has organised.

During the novel, the reader sees a growth in the main protagonist as she comes to understand what it is that she wants in a relationship – and what type of man with whom she would like to spend the rest of her life. It is the personal growth of Raina that makes this novel more than just a forgettable story. Her struggles and her realisations are so similar to many young women dating and falling in love in the modern world. In addition, her experience is one that is not seen often in mainstream literature and film.

Lalli has written a wonderful romantic comedy that embraces the experience of a modern woman living in a modern city (Toronto) who embraces her culture. I enjoyed reading this romantic comedy and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading romance.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 28th in my book pledge for 2019)