Friday, June 28, 2019

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

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Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco...

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.

Source: advance e-galley provided in exchange for an honest review

In her update of the Jane Austen classic, Dev not only flips gender roles - Trisha as Darcy and DJ as Elizabeth - she also spices things up with a diverse cast whose cultural backgrounds add interesting new layers to this story of privilege and stereotypes. Trisha may come from a family with a rich royal heritage and with all the conveniences to make her upbringing ideal, but that doesn't mean her life doesn't come with its own set of complications. She's a successful neurosurgeon who since a young age has always been able to identify a problem and set her mind to solve it. She prides herself on her work but the rest of her life is a different story. Her dating life is weird and her relationship with her parents is strained, to say the least. Still, as an ever dutiful daughter brought up to value family, she is devoted to them. DJ's history is complex for different reasons. After his father died, his father's racists family disowned him, his sister and his mother. His single mother then worked herself to the bone to support them before she passed away while DJ and Emma were still young. They were on their own then relying on the kindness of a family friend who provided shelter and a safe haven for them. When Emma gets sick and the only person who can help her is Trisha, DJ drops everything and relocates his catering business from England to the States so he can be there for her. 

Trisha and DJ meet when he's catering her parents' event and it's not a meet-cute as they instantly rub each other the wrong way. It seems that with every encounter after that they manage to find new ways to unintentionally offend the other. DJ, a by-product of his tough upbringing and experiences, is a hardened character who doesn't have time for distractions or people who'd discount him so easily. He's sensitive about how he's perceived and this makes his personality a bit prickly. The trouble for him is that Trisha discounts him constantly while simultaneously making him mad for her. And she also happens to be Emma's doctor, the only person capable of saving his sister. Trisha herself is a bit oblivious as to how her demeanor and tone can put people off.

Along with economic disparity Dev includes current hot button issues such as colourism, racial profiling, and how successful career-driven women are perceived and treated in the workplace. There's also the ups and downs of family relationships. I took to Trisha right away. I liked her straight-forwardness and her dry humour but what makes her stand out is her unflappable confidence in her gift as a neurosurgeon. There's just something impressive about a woman who fights sexism in the workplace by simply being adept at her work and not rising to the bait when others try to ruffle her. The fact that she doesn't have it all together in every aspect of her life made her real to me. Same with DJ who's talented in the kitchen but is cool around people he's unfamiliar with. The bad guy, who has ties to Trisha, comes in the form of Julia Wickham as a sly, devious scoundrel who betrays people's trust during their most vulnerable moments. She's the worst and slimy to the core.

I knew I had to read this novel as soon as I'd heard about it. Sonali Dev impeccable at drawing you in to the story rather than leaving you there as a bystander. And let's talk about the food! DJ's French-Indian creations are mouthwatering temptations. If only I could reach in and taste some of them. As a retelling of the classic, it's fun to see it in a contemporary setting with what feels like a brand new cast of characters. I would LOVE to see this turned into a movie by none other than Gurinder Chadha (director of one of my favourite movies, Bend it Like Beckam). Can you just imagine how awesome that would be? Anyway, make sure you read Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors while I pray that my wish comes true.

~ Bel

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Lies by Kylie Scott Cover Reveal

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Lies, a fast paced and sexy standalone filled with the perfect blend of heat and humor from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott, is coming July 21st and we have the sexy cover!

Betty Dawsey knows that breaking things off with Thom Lange is for the best. He’s nice, but boring, and their relationship has lost its spark. But steady and predictable Thom, suddenly doesn’t seem so steady and predictable when their condo explodes and she’s kidnapped by a couple of crazies claiming that Thom isn’t who he says he is.
Thom is having a hellish week. Not only is he hunting a double agent, but his fiancĂ© dumped him, and thanks to his undercover life, she’s been kidnapped.
Turns out Thom is Operative Thom and he’s got more than a few secrets to share with Betty if he’s going to keep her alive. With both their lives on the line, their lackluster connection is suddenly replaced by an intense one. But in his line of work, feelings aren’t wanted or desired. Because feelings can be a lethal distraction.

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Pre-order your copy today!

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Cover Designed by Hang Le
Photographer: Brian Kaminski
Model: Terry Dormer

About Kylie Scott

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, 2014 & 2018, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

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From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes, comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

Source: advance e-galley provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

When I started reading Mrs. Everything I had no proper idea what the premise was other than it was about sisters and I'm always interested in how family dynamics play out.

Jo has always felt different and apart from her mother and sister. Even as a child she felt uncomfortable in her own skin. She wasn't the traditional beauty and certainly didn't behave like a young lady was expected to. Her sister, Bethie fulfilled that role nicely being the more conventionally pretty girl who listened to their mother. The differences between the sisters are stark and set them up for their eventual stories as adults. It may not have been an idyllic life but it was a decent life with both parents who did love their children. Their lives are changed irrevocably when their father passes away suddenly and the three women are left to continue on their own. Their mother sort of checks out mentally and this where Jo, after o many years of rebellion, steps up to help around the house. By this time certain other events take place that impact them significantly, altering the trajectory of their lives. 

You're seeing the sisters' entire lives unfold before your eyes and the toughest part about reading Mrs. Everything is that it's incredibly emotional with unsavory incidents that happen intermittently throughout. What's interesting is how initially it's kind of assumed that the girls are headed down a preordained path based on their personalities - Jo the stubborn and independent one, and Bethie the popular girl. However, by the time they're in their late teens, they flip-flop. Later on Jo, who had never had any interest in being married or being with a man for that matter, marries and raises a family. She plays house but once again isn't comfortable in her own skin knowing she has shut away all her true desires. Bethie, wants nothing to do with settling down and embraces her life of freedom and free love. Both sisters bear the consequences of their decisions and at times lack of action. Their separate journeys took them to places that they couldn't have imagined for themselves but then, every so often life throws them for a loop and certain things or people come along and turn things around. It's the changes and how they adapt, or don't, that make this story both heartbreaking and page-turning.

Mrs. Everything isn't a light read and traumatic things happen (content warning listed below). Though depressing at times it's also a story about resilience, reconciliation and faith. This is my first time reading Jennifer Weiner and boy, oh boy, is she a brilliant writer! She had me in tears by the time I was done, not only because of everything Jo and Beth had been through, but because they made it through all of the muck, eventually making it back to each other for a second chance at sisterhood and friendship. Mrs. Everything is a powerful and moving story that will spark fascinating conversations though I also recognize that it's not for everyone. If you're going to read it, pick a good spot and make sure you have a warm drink and tissues at the ready.

~ Bel

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books, including Good in BedThe Littlest Bigfoot, and her memoir Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at

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Content Warning

- death of a parent, homophobia, eating disorder, sexual assault, rape, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, cheating, drug use, cancer

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancĂ© is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

Source: advance e-galley provided by publishers in exchange for an honest review

Even when things go horribly wrong there has to be a silver lining somewhere. For Olive who has always seemed to be the unluckier sister compared to her twin, her silver lining is that she did not succumb to food poisoning at the reception like the rest of her sister's bridal party and guests did. Thanks to the chaos Ami can't go on her honeymoon and rather than see it go wasted, she insists that Olive go to Hawaii and have a good time. Buutttt ... she has to go with Ethan, the groom's best man and all around pain in Olive's backside. The two have never gotten along so it's ludicrous to think that they'd b able to do so even if they're going to paradise. She promises Ami that she'll go anyway and that's where the adventure begins.

The Unhoneymooners is a typical enemies-to-lovers story that's fueled by misconceptions and assumptions about the other person. Ethan's not a huge stretch from a lot of guys in these rom-coms who start off aloof and maybe a little too condescending while Olive's the perky, outgoing sort. Yeah, their personalities clash and they try to keep away from each other. As luck would have it things don't go their way. Olive encounters someone with whom she interviewed for a job, and Ethan sees his ex there with her new man. I mean, seriously, of all the resorts in Hawaii and they're all there? The same week? Through a series of misunderstandings, Olive inadvertently leads her potential employer to think that she's engaged. To Ethan. Ethan in turn wants to show his ex he's moved on so why not go with the incorrect assumption and convince everyone that they're together. It's actually quite comical because they're still at the can't-stand-to-look-at-you phase. The pretense though can get boring but thankfully not here as they begin to tolerate each other. What I wasn't expecting was for things to loop back to her sister which I thought supercharges the remainder of the story. It's kind of sweet, actually, since the sisters always had something in the way of their relationship and here they get the chance to support each other.

The Unhoneymooners doesn't reinvent the wheel but it is entertaining and I had a darn good time reading it. Good banter makes me happy and the snarky back-and-forth between Olive and Ethan were my jam. Any good rom-com should make you laugh and fall in love along with the characters and The Unhoneymooners does just that.

~ Bel