Medha’s Review of My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma

Summary from the Publisher: Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted. Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

Medha’s Review:  Honestly, this book’s plot development is rather weak. The premise was interesting enough, but everything that happens in this book is very predictable. That being said, the Bollywood weighs it out. This book is smart, because it takes the Indian culture through the eyes of girl who is obsessed with Bollywood. It works well, because the Bollywood isn’t just a side piece about the Indian-ness, it’s the main thing. The Shah Rukh Khan references kept me going, and I loved the short movie reviews at the beginning of each chapter! Winnie’s take on everything from poojas to shopping is very authentic, and makes the story relatable. While the way she handles things with Raj is iffy at best, the lifestyle depicted in the book is charming and very accurate. I have to say though: who starts watching Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge at 11 pm on a school night??? No desi mom would allow that, tbh. There were a lot of references to movies that even I, a Bollywood follower, did not quite understand. Whether they were older movies, or just not very popular ones, a few jokes did go over my head. Still, there were plenty that I did understand, and I loved them! Other than the Bollywood, this book doesn’t do much to surprise. The characters are all rather bland, and Dev and Raj seem too perfect to be realistic. Winnie seems to have a whole lot of time for a senior filling out college apps, as she goes gallivanting all the time and watches movies whenever she feels like it. This book would be a great read if you’re a fellow Shah Rukh Khan fan. Otherwise, feel free to skip it. (I’m not exaggerating. Winnie has approximately six dreams where Shah Rukh Khan imparts wisdom to her in the form of movie dialogues. I am not making this up.)

Medha rates this book 3/5

Tags: Family, mild romance, friendship, bollywood, culture, relationships, film

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Medha’s review of Sadie by Courtney Summers

41e0bso2fwl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Quick summary from the publisher:

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him. When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Medha’s Review:

Sadie was an interesting read. It took me a while to ease into the dual timelines: Sadie’s actions, and then West finding her footprints weeks later. Still, it was an engrossing read, and a gritty one at that. The story is layered and nuanced, and it kept me on the edge of my seat. The characters were sharp and unflinching, and realistically flawed. Sadie’s journey to find the murderer never felt rushed, and the resolution feels realistic. West’s podcast shows the story from a different angle, and helps fill in the holes. The story keeps you engaged and reveals things one at a time, lulling you into a false sense of security before dropping a bombshell. Characters come in and out of the story, exactly as one should expect from a girl on the run. Still, none of them really stick with you except the villain. Fitting, as the murderer is the driving force of the story. Frighteningly enough, the story feels like something you’d see on the news, yet it remains far from predictable. Doesn’t hurt that it’s got an absolutely stunning cover.

Medha rates this book 4/5

Tags: mystery, suspense, murder, family

Cassandra’s Review of Landline by Rainbow Rowell

18081809I really enjoyed Landline by Rainbow Rowell! The story is about an established married couple that faces some troubles in their relationship. The wife, Georgie, is super busy with work and decides not to go with her family to Omaha for Christmas. Unexpectedly, her husband, Neal, leaves with their children without her, and Georgie spends Christmas by herself in Los Angeles. Suffering from loneliness and guilt, Georgie goes to her mother’s house where she finds a phone that allows her to communicate with a younger version of her husband. As Georgie talks to the past Neal, she begins to realize new things about her marriage and gets the opportunity to repair or destroy it.

Landline has the perfect blend of humor, sadness, and warmth. I especially liked the inclusion of the magical telephone. Georgie is a fascinating character. She is funny, demanding, and determined. Neal suits her so well!! He is super grumpy but loves Georgie so much that he is willing to sacrifice part of his career to make her happy. I also like how Landline focuses on other relationships besides marriage. Georgie’s relationships with her parents, younger sister, and best friend all develop throughout the novel. The flashbacks in the story focus on Georgie’s love life, but the present scenes focus on her interactions with other people besides her husband. Landline does not have a very strong Christmas influence, which makes it a good read at any time during the year.

Cassandra (Alumna) rates this book 3.5/5

Tags: family, relationships, loneliness, self-discovery, humor, realistic fiction, fantasy

Cassandra’s review of The Boomerang Effect by Gordon Jack

25877250Boomerang Effect = “When lending a helping hand comes back to slap you in the face” The Boomerang Effect is a HILARIOUS novel evolving around Lawrence Barry who is forced to participate in a mentorship program after almost getting expelled from high school. His mentee is Spencer Knudsen, a Norwegian exchange student with Spock-like intelligence but minimal social skills. Things start to get more complicated when everyone suspects Lawrence to be the one destroying the Homecoming floats. Add to the mix a demon Goth girl named Zoe, a Renaissance LARPing group, an overzealous yearbook editor, and three vindictive chickens, and Lawrence soon realizes that his situation may be a little out of control. Just as expulsion is drawing even closer, Spencer comes to the rescue with his seemingly endless knowledge of random facts. In fact, Spencer may be the one friend Lawrence never knew he needed.

The Boomerang Effect was SUPER funny! I loved Lawrence. He is the perfect clown character who always gets into trouble. I also really liked how the novel discusses more serious matters, like overcoming drug addiction and piecing together a broken family. Overall, I would recommend The Boomerang Effect to anyone who likes funny realistic fiction.

Cassandra rates this book 5/5

Surya’s review of Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

love-and-gelatoThis book is about high school student Lina who makes an unexpected move to Italy, to live with the father she never met. All she wants to do is go back home to the US, but then she reads one of her mother’s journals, uncovering mysteries about her mother’s life in Italy and her father’s strange past. She and her friend Ren travel to the stunning city of Florence, and find the answers to her burning questions about her parents’ love – as well as exploring her own.

I would highly recommend this book to students grades 9 and above. It is a thrilling modern day love story, set in one of the most beautiful, romantic, and historic cities in the world. This novel was charming, exciting, and bittersweet – I couldn’t put it down! Every chapter leaves you wanting to read more. If you want an exhilarating novel where love is an escapade all on its own, then this book is definitely for you.

Surya rates this book 4/5

Tiffany’s review of Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

seven-ways-we-liePaloma High School will never be the same again. Rumors have it that there was a student-teacher affair at their school. One Monday morning the principal confirms those rumors but who is it? Is it the drama queen or the school slut? Maybe it’s even the one girl who would actually get into Harvard to leave small-town Kansas? The main relationship they focus on is the small family of Kat and her sister Olivia who have really grown apart after their mother left them with their distant father. They look for ways to finally connect with each other again no matter how different their lives have gotten.

This story is told in seven perspectives each with I would say, a main sin. Though I only could figure out a couple of them. These seven perspectives are important because each person is somehow connected to another. I would really recommend this book to those who really like character development and really like LGBTQ+ characters that have their own problems too. I did skip some parts because you find out who the affair is about a hundred or more pages before the end and those hundred pages or so are dedicated to tying up all the other characters who I thought were not as important as the main three or four people.

Tiffany rates this book 4/5

Cassandra’s Review of Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

love-and-gelato“The view of Florence was just as stunning as my mother had described it, a sea of red rooftops under an unblemished blue sky and soft green hills circling everything like a big, happy hug.” Love & Gelato is a sweet story about Lina, who is sent to Italy after her mother dies in order to live with her father. However, Lina has no desire to spend time with a father that she knows nothing about. All she wants to do is to go back home. But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly, Lina is thrust into a world of mystery, romance, art, and hidden bakeries (YUM). Together with the charming Ren, Lina must follow in her mother’s footsteps to uncover a secret that will change everything she knew about her mom, her dad, and herself.

Love & Gelato was such a wonderful read! I loved the touristy descriptions of Italy. (After reading this novel, I added Italy to the list of places that I need to visit.) I also really liked the high amounts of lighthearted humor within the novel. The book is not entirely a gentle read (it has its sad and heavy moments), but the hilarious characters subdued some of the harshness. While reading Love & Gelato, I was practically drooling over the beautiful descriptions of the food. Yeah, there is a lot of food, which is not surprising given the cute cover design. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes realistic fiction and traveling.

Cassandra rates this book 5/5