Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway - The Reluctant Matchmaker


The Reluctant Matchmaker by Shobhan Bantwal
Kensington Books, 2012

Format?  oversized paperback
Source? The publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviews
FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Reluctant Matchmaker from the publisher; however, the following review and the opinions offered below are without bias.

Why? I love reading about other cultures...and this one is about a modern young Indian woman trying to navigate life in the United States as well as hold on to the traditions honored by her family.

Title?  Prajay asks Meena to find a suitable wife for him...not exactly what she had in mind...pretty literal title

Cover? I like the cover ok...just in case the reader can't tell which culture the book is about...but I never envisioned the traditional Indian dress nor the Taj Mahal looking building while I was reading The Reluctant Matchmaker...quite the contrary, I envisioned a thoroughly modern setting including office buildings, apartments, and even Meena's parents' contemporary home.

What Now?  I'll be passing this one on to another blogger who'd like to read it :) Just leave your blog address and email address in the comments section if you'd like to win.  I'll notify the winner 1 week from today.

Golden Lines

The boys were just investments in the future, while I was more like a hothouse plant, meant to be nurtured until they could find me a decent husband and give me a reasonable sendoff by way of marriage.  But that was the Indian way, so I didn't complain.

I glanced at Prajay's hand as I reclaimed my own.  He thrust it in his pocket immediately, so I didn't have a chance to look at it closely.  His face told me he'd felt something, too, because he looked uneasy.  But he was a man, and what did men know about magnetic undercurrents and those small signs of connection between a man and a woman?

But I'd never considered myself a good Indian girl.  I wasn't bad, but neither was I a soft and malleable ball of putty that could be molded by my parents.  Or anyone else.  I was a modern woman with modern ideas.  One of these days I'd find my own man.  In my own way.

Why were some intelligent males so dumb when it came to women and relationships?

"An old widow should be reading scriptures, eating vegetarian food, and knitting sweaters.  Instead Akka insists on drinking liquor and eating meat," Mom grumbled once in a while.  Sometimes I wonder if she was adopted or something.  She's so different from my father and their other siblings."

Summary

31 year old Meena Shenoy is an unmarried Hindu career woman.  Her family supports her independence while at the same time still would like to see her marry a traditional young man from their same KonKani caste.  She falls for her boss who calls her in on a special assignment.  Meena meets with him thinking that he is going to admit his attraction to her as well...when, in fact, he wants to hire her to find his perfect wife.  

What I Liked

Vocab and foods - I don't know a lot about Indian culture except that I'm not fond of Indian food :( Curry, in fact, is one spice that I shy away from, no matter what.  While the story itself had some issues that bothered me throughout, I did enjoy the cultural exposure. 

I didn't know it was illegal to use cell phones while driving in New Jersey?  While this was certainly not a huge part of this book, I love little tidbits like this.  

Brother Maneel falling in love with a Muslim woman/parents' reactions - while on the surface the immigrated families seem to have assimilated into American culture, they find it very difficult to let go of some traditions.  

Akka - the wise aunt who helps Meena navigate both worlds.

Family, family and more family...the positives and negatives

What I Didn't Like

Meena's attitude and stubbornness - I didn't care for Meena and still don't.  She seemed spoiled and immature...these characteristics may be the result of her age and lack of responsibilities, but I still couldn't warm up to her.

I'm too small whine...Prajay wanted a 6 ft woman??  I got tired of Meena's obsession with her small stature and Prayay's obsession with finding a 6 ft woman...his list of characteristics he was looking for in a wife was ridiculous.

Overall Recommendations

If you enjoy multi-cultural ladies' fiction without too much depth, you might enjoy this one.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

TLC Book Review - Vanity Fare Dec. 26


Vanity Fare by Megan Caldwell
HarperCollins, 2013

Format? oversized paperback

Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
**FTC Disclosure - I received a complimentary copy of Vanity Fare from the publisher.  The following review and opinions are my own and offered without bias.

Why? a woman reinventing herself, literature, food and coffee...bring it.

Cover? I'm gonna be honest here...the cover is probably was drew me to this book in the first place...I have a weakness for pretty old books :)

Title? a literary play on words...which also happens to have pretty important meaning for the story.

What Now? I don't usually hold on to books like this...but this one really hit the spot for me.  I dove into Vanity Fare in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary school tragedy.  As a mother, I simply could not and still cannot imagine the depths of that community's pain...especially the families of the ones who were killed. 
I was numb for days...and I needed something to occupy my brain...I'm picky about women's lit. but Vanity Fare was perfect.  Enough wit, enough lit, enough likeable characters, enough believability and yes, even a happy ending, not perfect...but happy.
Sometimes we just need that.

Golden Lines

A Room of One's Scone
Take a moment - two moments, even - for yourself.  Remember how it felt, how it smelled, how it tasted to relax for five minutes with a deliciously creamy pastry just perfect for pairing with a cup of tea.  Remember what it was like before you did things like count carbohydrate grams and obsess over a teaspoon of butter? (31)

Midtown Manhattan. The library. I started to get all excited just thinking about it. (72)
"Simon won the James Beard award for Outstanding Pastry Chef two years running, he was named Best New Pastry Chef in Bon Appetit, he - "
"I get it.  Simon is a star. He won't be measuring flour." I really didn't need for him to make me feel any stupider. (75)

Dr. Lowell chuckled a little, then glanced at the clock on the table between us and edged forward on her seat.  "Your assignment for next week is twofold: figure out your limits for your date, and figure out how to solve your mother's problems so she can get out of your house.  She'll make you crazy, and I should know." (138)

 This was life. My life.  And I loved it, and deserved not to have to change it because my husband was a cheating asshole.  (189)

He loped up the last couple of steps and pulled me up against his chest, his scent immediately surrounding me.  I sniffed it all in while my arms crept around his waist.  Still holding me, he walked into my apartment and kicked the door closed.
"Finally" (393)

 Summary

Molly's husband Hugh leaves her for a younger, sexier, more successful blonde.  With a degree in English literature and the past 6 years spent at home as a mommy, Molly knows she has to find a way to support herself and her son Aidan, especially after Hugh announces that his business has gone belly up.
Through a mutual friend of theirs, John, Molly gets involved in a copyediting opportunity on the ground floor of a brand new bakery positioned next to the NY Public Library.  Her task is to come up with a way to meld the two...come up with a gimmick of sorts to bring in the customers and satisfy the English baker, Simon, who accepts nothing but the best and is accustomed to having things his way.  Molly, Simon's partner Nick, and John put work out the professional details while Molly, her mom, her friends Keisha and Lissa as well as little Aidan, work on the personal.  And, then, of course, the personal and the professional intersect...
of course ;)
  
What I Liked

Classic literature is embedded everywhere in Vanity Fare...I loved that!
Molly is in therapy...and that's not a big deal.  Geez, we need so much more of this kind of attitude in the media.
 Molly is a sad divorcee and she is tempted to fall into some of the stereotypical pitfalls of her situation...but she doesn't. She is smart, she takes her life one day at a time (sometimes minutes at a time) and works to make it better.  She takes her life into her own hands and doesn't allow what someone else has done to her to define her. 

I keep telling  myself that I'm not a romantic...but I do like a little romance when it's wrapped up in a story like this one.  Real life romance on equal terms.

Even though this story has a couple of real winners in its female characters, there are several more who are true female friends.  We also need more of this in the world...more people who have our backs...through thick and through thin and over long periods of time.

What I Didn't Like

Simon - didn't like him from the first time he entered the story.

Hugh - what a whiner...that's all.

Natalie and Sylvia - why do women have to be such bitches to other women? Ridiculous.

Some of the humor at first was a little corny...but it grew on me as I got to know Molly. 
  
Overall Recommendation

If you need a quick feel good read in front of the fireplace with coffee (specifically a latte) and a mouth-watering pastry, and don't mind some girl talk as well as a few thumping hearts along the way, this is your next read.

 The Author


  
Other Stops on the Tour

Wednesday, December 26th: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, December 27th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Friday, December 28th: The Book Garden
Wednesday, January 2nd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, January 3rd: My Bookshelf
Monday, January 7th: BookNAround
Wednesday, January 9th: girlichef
Thursday, January 10th: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Monday, January 14th: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Tuesday, January 15th: Sweet Tidbits
Wednesday, January 16th: Proud Book Nerd

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!!


These two were ready to open presents last night!
The cat peeking out from under the tree made it almost too difficult for Layla to bear :) 


Now we're enjoying some much needed quiet time together :) 

Merry Christmas to all!
With wishes of Joy, Hope, and Peace!