Tuesday, November 14, 2017

October Reads // In a Non-Reading Kind of Month!

October was not a reading month for me. I barely felt the desire to pick up a book at all. However, I did finish my goodreads annual challenge in October, so that's good. :) Let's get on to the reviews, friends! :) 

Merry & Bright by Debbie Macomber*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy Christmas rom-coms. :) (I know this is not everyone's genre!)

Merry Knight is working a temp job, (for an awful boss), and taking care of her family (her mother has MS and her younger brother is Autistic) all while saving for her final year in college. Her family has had a hard time making ends meet, and getting daily chores done. Because Merry is so selfless, her mother and brother sign her up for an online Matchmaking site called Mix & Mingle. They don't use her real name, and use a picture of their dog, just in case she's mad. Soon after Merry gets a "wink" from a match who also has a dog as a profile picture. When she finds out that her match is actually her boss, a total jerk, she doesn't know how to proceed. Holiday hi-jinx and shenanigans ensue.

I am a sucker for Christmas rom coms. I can't help it. I'm trash for Hallmark channel in the winter, and I love reading these books. I've been disappointed by the last few that I had read by this author... but finally I felt like this one was back to what I expected. I thought that this was cute, predictable, romantic, and heartwarming. Just the type of book I need when the world is hurting so much. I loved the family aspect of this one. I loved that Merry was so close with her parents and brother. I love that those relationships were featured heavily in the book as well. If you're looking for a happy Holiday read, I definitely recommend this one. :) 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking for a contemporary read with diverse voices and endearing characters. I particularly loved the commentary on the "American Dream" and how the characters found their places within that.

This novel follows Dimple, a Indian girl who has just graduated from high school. She's been accepted to Stanford and cannot wait to start her life in web design. She's shocked that her parents are letting her go to Stanford, and even more so when they agree to let her go to a summer coding camp at SFSU. Rishi is the oldest son in his family, he's traditional, a romantic, a pragmatist, and so ready to meet his "future wife", Dimple. When he shows up at coding camp and tells her as much, she throws iced coffee in his face. When they're paired together for the coding project they'll challenge each other's ideas of tradition and bravery.

I just loved this book! I loved that this book had main characters from a culture different than my own and gave more representation to POC in the YA genre. I loved the balance between Indian family tradition and the American dream. It was so fun to read these characters and watch them learn from one another. I also loved that Dimple was into tech, and Rishi was into art. I feel like this book does a really nice job of challenging traditional cultural, societal, religious, gender, etc. etc. roles in a very thoughtful way. I loved reading Rishi's commentary on beliefs and religion, when asked why he says, "Oh my gods" instead of "Oh my god". (long quote, but I loved it):

"This is how it works in the US: In the spring we are constantly subjected to bunnies and eggs wherever we go, signifying Christ's resurrection. Then right around October we begin to see pine trees and nativity scenes and laughing fat white men everywhere. Christian iconography is all over the place, constantly in our faces, even in casual conversation. This is the bible of comic book artists...He had a come to Jesus moment, all of that stuff. So this is my way of saying, Hey, maybe I believe something a little different. And every time someone asks me why 'gods,' I get to explain Hinduism."

This is the one that really got me though:

"I feel like I need to speak out, because if no one speaks out, if no one says, This is me, this is what I believe in, and this is why I'm different, and this is why that's okay, then what's the point? What's the point of living in this beautiful, great melting pot where everyone can dare to be anything they want to be?"

Wow, right?! What a statement, what a truth. I've felt that way so much (in the past year especially), when did America stop being proud that we are a "great melting pot, where everyone can dare to be anything they want to be"? I'm still proud. That's the America I believe in, so to read it put into words so well had my heart beaming. Thank you, Sandhya Menon.

My only complaint was that I wish there was a bit more explanation on the phrases and words that were in Hindi. Sometimes they were translated, sometimes I could get the gist, but I wanted to know what they meant all the way through the book. I'm just like that. I'm the one who always wants to translate everything, and use all the footnotes, etc. I did however, appreciate that she used Hindi. It really made it feel authentic to hear these families and characters speaking in a Hindi-English hybrid. I also appreciated the author's colorful phrasing, "Aberzombie" and "Douche Nozzle" were particularly delightful. LOL

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz*

2.5 - 3 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy fluffy Christmas reads, and plots related to high society living.

Darcy Fitzwilliam is going home for the first time in 8 years. Her mother has had a heart attack, and she wants to be there for her even if it means confronting her past. She's not on good terms with her dad or brothers, and she doesn't like going back to her hometown. While at her parents' Christmas party she runs into Luke Bennett. One of the most annoying guys from high school, however she notices that she's no longer so annoyed by him. As things progress between her and Luke, her and her Ex, and her relationships with her family, Darcy finds herself questioning what she wants in life.

I really wanted to love this, but I was pretty disappointed by it. It was a fairly cute idea, but I didn't feel like I really understood the characters very well. Most of what I disliked was related to very surface level emotions, interests, and conversations. I did like it when Darcy had a more fleshed out personality, I felt like I started to understand her more, but I think that mostly happened toward the end of the book. Otherwise I was confused by her motivations. I did enjoy her relationship with her mom and her friend Bingley. The character growth was ok, and I liked the ending. There wasn't much of P&P in this. The characters had similar names and social status, but otherwise it was mostly just a present-day rom com. Overall it was just ok for me though. I've read plenty of De La Cruz's books, and this one was just not as enthralling as any of the others. And I love Christmas rom-coms you guys! Between the two, I much preferred Merry & Bright by Debbie Macomber (above).

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson - read in November...

3.5 - 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy YA fantasy with a bit of romance.

This story follows Isobel, a prodigy painter who is commissioned by The Fair Ones to paint their portraits. Human Craft is valued above all else to The Fair Ones. They pay her in enchantments, and she knows how to avoid their cruel tricks. When the Autumn Prince commissions her to paint his portrait, she is irked by her unusual inability to capture his likeness. She finds that his eyes carry human sorrow, an impossibility for a Fair One. She paints him as such, and in the process may cost him his life. She must rectify the wrong she has done, or face certain death herself.

First of all, can we take a second to bask in the beautiful glory that is this cover? My goodness. Just perfection. It's shimmery too you guys. Alright then, moving along. Overall I think I read this one too fast. A lot of things happened, and it felt jumbled to me. I liked the world that Rogerson built, I loved the bits about human Craft, and the enchantments, I liked the different lands that she travels through, etc. It did remind me a bit of ACoTaR: season courts (spring court, autumn court, etc.), and a human girl taken prisoner by a fae lord. However, I also liked the differences. There was some interesting elemental sorts of magic in this story, the enchantments were also very neat, I liked that humans had the magic of their Craft as well. I would have enjoyed a bit more world building upon those things. I had trouble understanding some of the characters. I felt that Isobel was sometimes very type A, and other times oddly laid back (in the face of danger). Sometimes I felt that she wasn't taking things seriously. The romance felt insta-love-y sometimes, and other times not at all. It shifted from 0 to 100 throughout the book without a lot of internal struggle... to the point where I didn't feel on pins and needles waiting for them to get together. I felt that some of it was predictable, but other parts surprised me, and were left a bit unexplained. Again, these things could have been as a result of reading this all in one day... I've got to stop doing that. I really enjoyed some of the characters that she created though. For example, Isobel's sisters were very cute and mischievous. I also appreciated that Isobel was very adamant about consent. Very adamant. Which I feel was really good... and doesn't come up very often, especially in YA fiction. Overall I enjoyed this story, and would be interested to read more of Rogerson's books in the future. Preferably with equally gorgeous covers. :) 

Currently Reading:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I haven't been great at predicting my reading mood.. .so I'm not going to list any "on deck" books this month... lol. Who could say!
Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books tomorrow. :) 

What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Let's be friends on Goodreads!



* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley!

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