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: Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke

I won the ARC for Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke by entering a giveaway. I was so excited when I received a copy of the book in the mail as I wanted to read it because of the references to star signs. My daughter loves reading about the star signs and having read the book, I passed it onto her as I know she will enjoy all the references to horoscopes and the personality traits of the various star signs in the novel.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Sometimes even destiny needs a little bit of help.

When childhood sweethearts Justine (Sagittarius and serious skeptic) and Nick (Aquarius and true believer) bump into each other as adults, a life-changing love affair seems inevitable. To Justine, anyway. Especially when she learns Nick is an astrological devotee, whose decisions are guided by the stars, and more specifically, by the horoscopes in his favorite magazine. The same magazine Justine happens to write for. As Nick continues to not fall headlong in love with her, Justine decides to take Nick’s horoscope, and Fate itself, into her own hands. But, of course, Nick is not the only Aquarius making important life choices according to what is written in the stars. 

Charting the ripple effects of Justine’s astrological meddling, STAR-CROSSED is a delicious, intelligent, and affecting love story about friendship, chance, and how we all navigate the kinds of choices that are hard to face alone.

My thoughts:

I loved this book – it was such a fun read. And knowing a little bit about horoscopes and the character traits of certain star signs just added another dimension to my enjoyment. Star-Crossed is definitely a light-hearted read that will bring a smile to your face more than once. I enjoyed Justine’s escapades, and Nick’s seriousness and I loved reading about the trouble she gets herself into – all in the name of love.

Minnie Darke has written a true romantic comedy – this is one that should be rewritten as a screenplay. The character Justine learns from the choices she makes, and comes to certain realisations in the novel. She is a complete character like you and me – one that makes mistakes and fuddles her way in life. It is this true-to-life description of her behaviour that makes her endearing to us, the readers, and makes her story believable.

Star-Crossed is one of those novels I will reread in a few years time, and enjoy Again the second time around. This novel is Minnie Darke’s first and I look forward to her publishing her second.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 33rd in my book pledge for 2019)

Top 5 Romantic Reads

I chose my top 5 romances by looking on the bookshelf that holds all my read books. My fingers moved towards books that I had read in the past year – or even further back. There is even one in my stack that I read a number of years ago and which may need to be reread soon. 🙂

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I picked up The Hating Game from the library and I loved it so much I had to get my own copy. Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, the two main characters of the story, begin by hating each other and show it through a set of rituals that they perform each day. Slowly different feelings start to seep through and their relationship begins to change. The novel is definitely an original story that I had never read before and is told with a sense of humour. I laughed often while I was reading – and even now I am smiling as I think of it.

Confessions of a Tinderella by Rosy Edwards

I read this book after listening to many stories of Tinder dates
told by our son at the dinner table. The story centres around a character named Rosy Edwards (yes, the author 🙂 ) and her experiences dating via the app Tinder. Hilarious! And totally believable. I finished the book thinking that I am glad I am not on the dating scene!

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

This novel was sold to me as soon as I learned that it was a Pride and Prejudice retelling. Jalaluddin does justice to my favourite Austin story as well as adds her own flavour to it. The story is set in Toronto and centres on the Muslim community.

One Day in December by Josie Silver

I read this romance in December last year along with a group of readers who are in the bookstagram community. The novel is a beautiful, heartbreaking story that spans ten years of Laurie and Jack, and all their missed opportunities to find love together. Will they eventually be together? You will have to read the story to find out. 🙂

Sofia Khan is not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

This novel was the first one I had read centred around Muslim dating a number of years back. Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents for her liking. Then her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene and, with the encouragement of her friends, begins her research. Not only did I find this novel interesting from a cultural point of view, but also funny to read.

Which Romance novel would currently be among your top 5?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Bionic Book Worm and the Top 5 Tuesday challenge. This week we are listing the top 5 romance books).

Book Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I was in the mood for some Romance reading and while browsing at our local bookstore, I came across a book that came highly recommended on social media: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. They synopsis intrigued me so I picked it up.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

My thoughts:

I was in the mood for a feel-good romance and Hoang delivered! I love that Stella is a heroine with a difference and that she is not portrayed as perfect. She makes mistakes, mistakes that are believable as we know she has Asperger’s. As I read Stella’s story, I gained a little understanding of how someone with Asperger’s would react to changes in her life and routine. Her reactions only endeared me more to the character and made me invested in her story.

Not only does the reader get to know Stella’s side of the story, but also gains insight into Michael’s thoughts – a man who works as an escort one day a week. The reader slowly understands why he is a perfect fit for our heroine – and why she is for him. The stories of both characters are told with insight – especially the experience of Stella. The slow pace of their falling in love is exquisite and one that had me rapidly turning the pages.

The Kiss Quotient is not a cheesy romance – though it is steamy and sexy. The sex scenes are described in detail so, if these paragraphs are not for you, skip them and immerse yourself in a wonderful story that will make you smile. This novel was such a fun read for me and perfect for an afternoon of reading on the sofa. I will definitely be reading another romance by this author.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 23rd in my book pledge for 2019)

Blog Tour: Policy of Truth by Scarlett Holloway

Welcome to the first blog tour on this space. Today I introduce you Scarlett Holloway, the author of ‘Badass Romance”. I decided to participate in this tour and read her novel Policy of Truth as I wanted to try read a sub-section of a genre I had not read before. I was curious as well to read a story set in the motorcycle world, and to learn a little about the motorcycle culture.

Genre: romance, women’s fiction

Blurb: 

Five years ago, Tamra “Durty” Simon’s life was falling apart, and she had a one-way ticket to six-feet under. And if it hadn’t been for the Death’s Angels Motorcycle Club swooping in, dusting her off, and transforming her into the badass biker she is today, she’d be taking a dirt nap. Now, she has everything she ever wanted—or so she thought.

Brett “Sting” Jackson is on a mission, and nothing is going to stop him—not even the sexy, enticing female biker who makes him hard with a single look. Too bad he’s lying and keeping secrets from her. But the alternative could get her killed, and that’s not a risk he’s willing to take.

It took Sting crashing into her life to make Durty realize there’s something else in this world she wants to ride as hard as her bike—too bad fate has other plans for them. When a rival club makes a move against the Angels, all hell breaks loose. Lives will be lost, secrets will be revealed, and lies will be exposed. Because in the motorcycle world, lies may get you hurt, but the truth can get you killed.

My thoughts: 

When I begun reading this book, I did expect a little romance as well as references to the motorbike society. These expectations were delivered, but not much else. While reading, there were a few things that I did not enjoy. Firstly I found the swearing was a little overdone. I am not saying that the language in novels should be clean and pure. What I am suggesting instead is that the overuse of vulgar language is a little off-putting to me and, for me, distracted from the story. .

The second aspect of the novel that I had a little difficulty with was the characterisation of the women. Their portrayal as tough women who are able to best even strong men did not seem authentic to me. As I am writing this, I think of the character Tamra “Durty” Simon who changes from being an abused wife to a hardened biker within a few years. The gaps in the process of transformation made it hard for me to suspend disbelief and see that the change suggested is possible.The jump is too big for me to imagine as possible.

The storyline of Policy of Truth has potential and yet I wanted to see and feel more of what the characters were experiencing. Instead I was told, briefly and quickly. I felt I wanted to see more of the growth in the relationship, for example, between Tamra “Durty” Simon and Brett “Sting” Jackson. The story reached its climax and conclusion too quickly, with many details glossed over.

I may not have enjoyed this novel too much but if you enjoy a Mills and Boons type romance with a hint of rebellion and can look past the excessive swearing, then this read is for you.

I give this novel ⭐⭐ 2 stars.

Enter the rafflecopter giveaway to win a copy of the book. 

Below are the names of other blogs participating in the blog tour if you wish to read interviews with the author or other blogger reviews.

Would you be interested in seeing more blog tours on this space?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 1st in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Woman Who Met Her Match by Fiona Gibson

After my disappointment with my last read, I chose a novel by an author I had previously read and enjoyed. I grabbed The Woman Who Met Her Match  by Fiona Gibson and settled down on the sofa to read the morning after Christmas.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Blurb: 

What if your first love came back on the scene . . . 30 years later?

After yet another disaster, Lorrie is calling time on online dating. She might be single in her forties, but she’s got a good job, wonderful children and she’s happy. This, Lorrie decides, is going to have to be enough.

That is, until she receives a very unexpected request from France. Antoine Rousseau, who had once turned a lonely French exchange trip into a summer of romance, wants to see her – after thirty years.

But Lorrie is a responsible woman. She can’t exactly run off to Nice with the man who broke her teenage heart . . . can she?

My thoughts: 

This book was the perfect novel for my mood as well as for my desire to read a story that was not too taxing and which would bring a smile to my face. The tale described the life of a woman in her forties, an ordinary woman who works at the beauty counter in a department store. The description of Lorrie and her experience read true and I could connect it to the lives of many women I have spoken to: dating as an older woman, raising children, connecting with an old crush. The novel encouraged that feel-good feeling that one experiences when watching a romantic comedy. Romance is sprinkled in the story and interspersed with the main character’s realisation about her romantic experience. I have previously enjoyed Fiona Gibson’s novels, and this one did not disappoint.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 93rd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: Bad Angels by Rebecca Chance

I was shopping for feel good Christmas reads when I came across Bad Angels by Rebecca Chance. After reading the blurb, I thought the story had potential to be a pleasant read for December before the Christmas holidays.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Blurb: 

Wharf where celebrities who have had ‘work’ done can hole up until they have healed and which is about to see its most glamorous and scandalous Christmas yet. Staying there over the festive period is Melody Down, an actress whose career is in tatters after too much plastic surgery and who has fled LA to get her body and her boyfriend back. But is a ‘well-meaning’ friend about to sabotage all of Melody’s Christmas wishes?

Meanwhile, Aniela Fatyga, the nurse in residence, finds herself falling for the unlikely Jon Jordan, an assassin for hire who is also convalescing there. Will her feelings be reciprocated or will their sizzling relationship remain purely physical? And who is he on the run from?

And then there’s oligarch Grigor Khalofsky, the owner of Kensington football team, whose legendary Christmas party is about to get a whole lot more exciting when murder, blackmail and scandalous revelations decide to pay a visit along with Santa.

My thoughts: 

I was a little disappointed with this read as it did not deliver the feel-good romance that I was expecting for the Christmas season. Three storylines crossed over in the novel and the one featuring the actress, Melody Down, was a little static and predictable. The storyline featuring Anelia and Jon was a little more interesting and my interest in them is what kept me reading. Bad Angels read a little like the novels written by Jackie Collins which feature a lot of sex, scandals, and extravagant behaviour. I was looking, instead, for a novel which focuses instead on the positive characteristics of people and therefore completed the book with a sense of dissatisfaction. This is not a story I would read again: the romance in the novel was okay, but the sex scenes appear too frequently for my taste.

I give this novel ⭐⭐ 2 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 92nd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

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)