5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Books About Books · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman | ARC #BookReview

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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Rating: 5 stars 

Published: July 9, 2019 

Publisher: Berkley Books 

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary fiction, romance, books about books, mental health 

Recommend to fans of: books about the bookish world, quirky relatable anxious characters

 

Synopsis:

Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own…shell.

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book. 

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all–or mostly all–excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.) 

2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee). 

3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Berkley Books, and Abbi Waxman for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like: 

  • Too cute but there’s definitely some adult content at times (not too much)
  • Lots of trivia games
  • Socially anxious, planner and overall funny person — sums up the main character, Nina Hill

Love: 

  • Relatable for all bookish nerds like me!
  • The colorful, fun cover
  • Such an enjoyable read … I cannot get enough of it (an actual note I wrote to myself while reading)
  • Sarcastic and witty
  • Shows that people like her can have a love life. There’s hope for people who don’t fit the typical extroverted, supermodel beauty, perfect life societal ideal.

Dislike: 

  • Some of Nina’s extended family — I don’t see the reason they need to be so rude to her. Luckily it doesn’t take up much of the book or create too much tension.

Wish that: 

  • Nina could better explain to people why she needs to be alone when dealing with a lot of anxiety, post panic attack, or a day that required too much socialization. I absolutely understand that this can be very difficult, but this perspective and explanation could also be very validating for others who struggle with anxiety and/or an introvert. It’s also a great way to educate others, who can’t relate to Nina, as to the frustrating life moments that Nina and so many others experience. 

Overall, this book is why I love reading. Thank you to the author for bringing me such joy while reading The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. The book has truly been the highlight of my week … well, besides all the cats I’ve also gotten to pet. I’m sure Nina Hill would agree with that one!

 

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4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Young Adult

ARC Review | Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

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Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell 

Published: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Amberjack

Pages: 337

Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about bloggers and the internet life, fun but serious young adult novels, mother daughter dynamics

Foodie Vibes: candy corn and a Halloween movie to watch with your not yet boyfriend 

 

Synopsis: 

Mommy blogs are great . . . unless the blog happens to belong to your mom.

Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much. Poppy embraces it. Claire hates it. Will anybody accept her as “just Claire”? And what should Claire do about Mom’s old journals? The handwritten entries definitely don’t sound like Mom’s perfect blog persona. Worse, one of them divulges a secret that leaves Claire wondering what else in her life might be nothing but a sham . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Amberjack, and Kara McDowell for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Just for Clicks centers around Claire, Poppy – her twin sister, and their mother. Since they were little girls Claire and Poppy have been vlogging, blogging and doing all sorts of paid sponsorships for their mom’s online brand. The blog started as a way for their mom to share their family moments with friends and also allowed her to support herself and her family after her husband passed away. 

I like that the book explores how a well intentioned start can spiral a bit out of control if one doesn’t stop to reevaluate their life choices every so often. Also the contrast between Claire not enjoying the Internet fandom and Poppy loving it, allows for an interesting multifaceted look at the internet life a s career. Neither twin is wrong, just different. It’s nice to see that there’s not the good twin, bad twin dynamic going on. I also appreciated that communication played a big role in the story. Watching the characters learn how to communicate their needs to others was wonderful. And some of the revelations … let’s just say, it keeps things interesting!

There were very few moments that I didn’t enjoy. If I’m being very critical, then some of the miscommunications or non communications became almost annoying after awhile. 

But overall, I really enjoyed this fun upbeat look into the behind the scenes world of internet fame as a career. Complex relationships, relatable struggles and a whole lot of fun. Definitely recommend!

 

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How do you deal with the downsides of blogging? 

 

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4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · mental health · Young Adult

Roam by C.H. Armstrong | ARC Book Review

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Roam by C.H. Armstrong

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing

Pages: 320 

Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, mental health 

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: realistic issues facing teens today, likable main characters, feel good books about difficult issues

Foodie Vibes: free breakfast and lunch served by the high school, so you don’t go hungry 

 

Synopsis: 

Seventeen year-old Abby Lunde and her family are living on the streets. They had a normal life back in Omaha, but thanks to her mother’s awful mistake, they had to leave what little they had behind for a new start in Rochester. Abby tries to be an average teenager—fitting into school, buoyed by dreams of a boyfriend, college, and a career in music. But Minnesota winters are unforgiving, and so are many teenagers.

Her stepdad promises to put a roof over their heads, but times are tough for everyone and Abby is doing everything she can to keep her shameful secret from her new friends. The divide between rich and poor in high school is painfully obvious, and the stress of never knowing where they’re sleeping or where they’ll find their next meal is taking its toll on the whole family.

As secrets are exposed and the hope for a home fades, Abby knows she must trust those around her to help. But will her friends let her down the same way they did back home, or will they rise to the challenge to help them find a normal life?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Central Avenue Publishing, and C.H. Armstrong for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:

  • The family relationships: meaningful, realistic, but tense at times
  • Abby is a great character: kind, relatable, hard working

Love: 

  • Highlights the resources available to people struggling with lack of housing, food, money, clothing, etc. 
  • The overall concept: a homeless teenager navigating life, high school, family, friends and her future as normally as possible
  • Great representation of an underrepresented population
  • Abby’s relationship with her friends and boyfriend
  • The teachers and other adults looking out for her in a non judgmental, discrete manner #TeacherGoals
  • A realistic look at the day in the life of a person dealing with the struggles of being homeless

Dislike:

  • The character of Trish: mean girl/bully to many people

Wish that:

  • The premise of them becoming homeless made more sense. It’s sort of explained at the end, but there were still a few loose ends. 
  • The ending was done better- wrapped up the story a little too quickly and neatly

 

Overall, an absolutely captivating read about an under discussed topic. A book that should be in the curriculum of many high school English and humanity classes. 

 

Bookish Question: 

How can you help those in need in your community? 

Is there a place to donate food, clothes or other necessary supplies? 

 

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3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · coming of age · contemporary fiction · Literary Fiction

Chemistry by Weike Wang

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Chemistry by Weike Wang 

Published: May 23, 2017

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Pages: 224

Genres: literary fiction, contemporary fiction, coming of age

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: young adults who don’t have it all figured it out, overbearing (to the Western culture) Chinese parents, parent – adult children relationships 

Foodie Vibes: leftover pizza #GradSchoolLife

 

Synopsis: 

Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She’s tormented by her failed research–and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. But there’s another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can’t make a life before finding success on her own.

Eventually, the pressure mounts so high that she must leave everything she thought she knew about her future, and herself, behind. And for the first time, she’s confronted with a question she won’t find the answer to in a textbook: What do I really want?Over the next two years, this winningly flawed, disarmingly insightful heroine learns the formulas and equations for a different kind of chemistry–one in which the reactions can’t be quantified, measured, and analyzed; one that can be studied only in the mysterious language of the heart. Taking us deep inside her scattered, searching mind, here is a brilliant new literary voice that astutely juxtaposes the elegance of science, the anxieties of finding a place in the world, and the sacrifices made for love and family.

 

Review:

Chemistry is many different things. A grad student unsure about her academic future. A daughter feeling pressure from her Chinese parents. A girlfriend trying to figure out her relationship. And a friend asking for support. The book is essentially a coming of age story for someone in their mid 20s. I like that it’s funny, relatable and shows a woman in science. 

While the story is about a woman who doesn’t know where she’s going, the book doesn’t really go anywhere. The cultural explorations are great, but the rest is mediocre.

Overall, I can see why this book is popular and recommend it, but don’t expect it to be things its not. 

 

 

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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Bookish Posts · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mental health · Women's Fiction

The Best Book! | ARC Review | The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

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The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 304

Genres: contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, mental health

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books with all the feels, good representation of people on the autism spectrum

Foodie Vibes: cherry wine coolers 

 

Synopsis:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you to Goodreads, Tracey Garvis Graves and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

The book is absolutely amazing! There are not enough words to accurately describe how wonderful the read was, so I’m not even going to try. I will just say this: I’ve never done this before — not given a full in depth review of a book. That’s how special I found The Girl He Used to Know. But take my word for it, read this book! 

 

Do you ever feel like you don’t have the words to explain how amazing a book, movie, feeling is?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · suspense

The Light to My Darkness by Ivy Smoak

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The Light to My Darkness by Ivy Smoak

Published: September 19, 2017

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Pages: 358

Genres: romance, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, suspense 

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: romance novels with a mix of suspense, realistic fiction, adorable family life, couples that are #relationshipgoals 

Foodie Vibes: bananas and ice cream ~ for all those pregnancy cravings 

 

Synopsis: 

My relationship with my husband has been splashed all over the tabloids ever since we first started dating. What should I have expected when I took New York City’s most eligible bachelor off the market?

But no matter how long I’m with my husband, I can’t shake the feeling that a stroke of luck brought me here. That I don’t deserve the life around me. And I swear, if one more paparazzi takes a picture of me I’m going to freaking lose my mind.

I needed to prove to myself that I’m not worthless. So I wrote a novel under a pen name, but I’ve been rejected by so many literary agents I’ve lost count. And I’m so consumed with this idea that I need more out of life that I never had a chance to see the real story unfolding around me. The story that would threaten the life I took for granted.

 

Review:

I won this ebook for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads and Ivy Smoak for the copy. As always, an honest review from me.

The Light to My Darkness is wonderful, heartfelt, passionate, and has just enough suspense. Penny is pregnant with her second child. She craves bananas and ice cream. She looks after her adorable 3 year old, Scarlett. And her husband absolutely worships her. The only difference this time around is that she has a moderate to severe heart murmur, and the pregnancy is putting added stress on her heart. 

I really liked that this romance novel features a pregnant and married woman as the main character. Not many authors do this. Their relationship is very steamy. The stress that her health condition puts on their day to day lives is also explored. The representation is great. Scarlett is also such a smart adorable kid. The suspense of Penny’s health condition and later darker elements kept me turning the pages quickly. 

However, there are a few aspects that I’m not a huge fan of. One is the manner that the couple met. Some people don’t have a problem with it, but I did. Also the last 20% of the book had a lot of information thrown in quickly. I wish that it was further explored. And the ending … let’s just say you’ll either love it or hate it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this contemporary romance featuring a strong smart woman who is pregnant. The suspense made it even better. I definitely recommend giving The Light to My Darkness a read. 

 

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If you’ve been pregnant before, what’s the weirdest food craving that you experienced?

 

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4 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · Medical · mental health · Young Adult

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow 

Published: August 30, 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 416

Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, mental health 

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: realistic portrayals of mental health struggles, homelessness and self harm, realistic non fluffy books

Foodie Vibes: peanut butter and bread — cheap, doesn’t require refrigeration and is filling — required for when times are tough 

 

Synopsis: 

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

 

Review:

Trigger warning: self harm, alcohol abuse, mentions of sexual assault

 

Girl in Pieces tells the story of Charlotte, a teenage girl who struggles with self harm. The book starts out with her hospitalized in a mental health facility. She doesn’t speak to anyone, but is glad to be there. Due to a lack of family support, she was homeless prior to the hospital. 

Girl in Pieces isn’t like many other young adult books featuring self harm. It tells the story of a different subset of teenage girls. I like that it gives a voice and a relatable character where there wasn’t one before. I also appreciated that the author didn’t glorify self harm. The story and Charlotte’s journey is very intense, almost a bit much for me at times. She has lots of ups and downs in her journey along the path to recovery and figuring out her future. It’s very realistic. 

While the representation is great, there are multiple aspects that I didn’t love. #1: her relationship with her boyfriend, for multiple reasons. Also, the fact that no one makes her go to school. No explanation about this either. When Charlotte was not making the best decisions for herself I was very frustrated for her. In general I enjoyed reading about her, but didn’t connect with her character as much as I would have liked. 

Overall, a well written story with great representation of self harm and other mental health struggles in general. The downsides didn’t mean a bad book, but more annoyances/frustrations on my part as a reader. Definitely worth checking out!

 

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How should we react when we see someone who has self harm scars? Discuss below. 

 

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2.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Domestic Fiction · romance

ARC Review | A Sister’s Survival by Cydney Rax

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A Sister’s Survival by Cydney Rax

Published: November 27, 2018

Publisher: Dafina

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary fiction, romance, domestic fiction

Rating: 2.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about complex but strong relationships

Foodie Vibes: home cooked meal — potato salad, collard greens, cornbread 

 

Synopsis:

To keep their family ties strong, the five Reeves sisters meet regularly to give each other a reality check. But explosive family secrets begin to pour out like molten lava, and forever change all they treasure most . . .
 
After a shattering revelation, youngest sister Elyse struggles to overcome the sexual abuse that nearly destroyed her. Between her tough eldest sister, Alita, and a promising fresh start with a new man, she’s finding the strength to make the most of her fierce intelligence. But Elyse still has a score to settle with the perfect sister she feels betrayed by—and she’s going after everything Burgundy can’t afford to lose . . .
 
 Coco thinks her useless baby daddy is finally about to commit—until she catches him with a woman who’s everything she’s not. As she tries to move on with her life, she can’t resist carrying out the ultimate revenge. But when she inadvertently gets caught up in Elyse’s plan, she must reveal an unforgivable truth that could crush any chance these sisters have to make things right.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Dafina and Sydney Rax for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Trigger warning: sexual assault

A Sister’s Survival has a great premise, but didn’t end up being the right book for me. I liked that the female characters had strong supportive relationships. They felt comfortable discussing times they were sexually assaulted. Another book that fits in perfectly with the #MeToo Movement. It’s rare that people feel comfortable discussing such horrific circumstances with others. So I appreciated that the book was able to shine a light on living your life after sexual assault.

However, there is so much drama. Over the top drama, which was a bit much for me. There’s also a lot of cheating on others, which I’ve stated before that I’m not a fan of. Sleep with whomever you want, as long as it’s consensual and safe, but please don’t cheat. It does show that people are human though. Another aspect that frustrated me was the lack of continuity between chapters. Information that made me question if I had accidentally skipped pages, because it wasn’t make sense to me.

Overall, a good representation of characters that I don’t often see in books. But too much drama and inconsistencies for me to really get into the story.

3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · Sports · Uncategorized

ARC Review | Late Air by Jaclyn Gilbert

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Late Air by Jaclyn Gilbert

Published: November 13, 2018

Publisher: Little A 

Pages: 316

Genres: contemporary fiction, sports

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: college athletics, the toll life can take on a person, relatable characters 

Foodie Vibes: egg white omelets, dry toast, black coffee — perfectly measured out and calorie counted 

 

Synopsis:

Breadloaf and New York Public Library fellow, Jaclyn Gilbert’s LATE AIR, a tale of a fanatical Yale cross country coach sent reeling into the ghosts of his past after an early morning practice run on the golf course goes horrifically wrong, injuring his star runner and churning up all that has lain dormant around the coach’s fragmented life and marriage.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a free ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Late Air can best be described as an odd book in a mainstream way. The coach shows he cares about his athletes, himself, his wife and their child through actions. He obsesses about counting things, keeping in control, and producing results. By staying regimented he can achieve what he wants for himself and others. Much of the book is about his goals and coaching his Division 1 athletes. It’s fascinating, sad and a bit horrifying to read about the inner workings of his brain. The book can be seen as a warning against a singular focus mindset. 

Despite the catch being so focused, the story was a bit all over the place. At times I got lost and other times I didn’t really care. There are many life lessons to be learned, but I didn’t really care about the characters. 

All in all, a cautionary tale against obsession, but not as amazing as I had hoped.

 

Answer me this:

What’s your favorite sport?

Let’s get to 5 comments, and I’ll share my favorite sport!

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · fiction · POC · romance · Women's Fiction

Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

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Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

Published: July 3, 2012

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Pages: 302

Genres: chick lit, romance, contemporary romance, fiction, POC

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: fun books that make you happy, Bollywood movies, great friends, cross continental romance

Foodie Vibes: authentic Indian treats made and enjoyed with loved ones

 

Synopsis:

Shari Jones needs to get a life. Preferably someone else’s.
Single, homeless and jobless, Indo-American Shari agrees to her best friend’s whacky scheme: travel to Mumbai, pose as Amrita, and ditch the fiancé her traditional Indian parents have chosen. Simple. Until she’s mistaken for a famous Bollywood actress, stalked by a Lone Ranger wannabe, courted by an English lord, and busted by the blackmailing fiancé.
Life is less complicated in New York.
Or so she thinks, until the entourage of crazies follows her to the Big Apple and that’s when the fun really begins. Shari deals with a blossoming romance, an addiction to Indian food and her first movie role, while secretly craving another trip to the mystical land responsible for sparking her new lease on life. Returning to her Indian birthplace, she has an epiphany. Maybe the happily-ever-after of her dreams isn’t so far away?

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Entangled Publishing, and Nicola Marsh for an ebook copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

One word to describe this book: FUN! It’s a feel good book filled with great Indian food, romance-love and arranged, wonderful friendships, fun cultural adventures, and just enough family drama to keep things interesting. When I think about Busted in Bollywood, I am filled with images of color, Indian delicacies, and pure joy. The book version of a Bollywood movie, that I can’t get enough of.

The story is set in New York City and India, both bustling vibrant cities, perfect for this whirlwind of a story. I loved the underlying focus on true relationships – family, friendships, and romantic. It’s not just a silly book, but is filled with great depth. 

Occasionally I wasn’t sure about the main character’s relationship. And I wanted to hear more about her friend’s relationship. 

But overall a fun joyful book that I highly recommend, to put you in a good mood.

 

Have you watched a Bollywood movie before? What did you think?