India needs your support.

Hi, guys.

Until last year, I barely knew anyone who was covid positive. And today, every where I look, there’s someone turning positive or dying. Personal tragedies hit differently. If you haven’t heard about what is happening in India, I would urge you to proceed with caution. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine on our end. Pictures that emerge give me an eerie sensation. As if Covid19 isn’t just a disease, but rather a mass genocide is being performed by some twisted tyrants on my people. But, we know the truth. It’s too late to point fingers. Fingers won’t bring back the dead. Fingers won’t bring oxygen to the ones on the brink of collapsing. Pointing fingers won’t provide food to the ones that have lost their jobs since it’s not “essential.” While I do wish that a nationwide lockdown comes in place to curb innocent people from dying, India can’t handle her economy being shut down.

I have seen too many videos and pictures that makes my skin crawl. All, I am asking for is your support. People are losing their lives not because of getting Covid19 but the lack of infrastructure. The healthcare system has too much weight on it. I pray not for the ones who are sick but also for the doctors. I command their bravery for facing so many people and trying their best to help them

Please help out in anyway possible. It could be in a form of monetary compensation to NGOs who are working day and night on ground zero to help out those in needs or you could just say a small prayer. If you’re not religious, then I request you take a moment and just send your best positive vibes to us. We need your positivity.

Amplify as much as you can. We appreciate your help in everyway possible.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We will overcome this. We just all need to work together.

Links of helpful NGOs would be provided here. Thank you for your support.

Book Review: Hana Khan Carries On

Goodreads Blurb:

Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighbourhood. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening Three Sisters.

When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighbourhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant—who might not be a complete stranger after all.

As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.

My Thoughts:

Oh. My. God.

I am in love with this book. This would definitely be a book that I would re-read in the future.

I loved that Uzma took her time to build a story that tackles multiple issues while keeping the readers entertained. Ranging from racism to guilt children of immigrant parents face to building a successful career to the stereotypes Muslims around the world have to face and finally, delicious South Asian food! (The FOOD. I repeat. The imagery was so vivid that I was salivating.)

Stories about immigrants are always heart-touching. With my parents being one, I am always in awe at their sacrifice and strength that they’ve put up. Forget a different country but a continent altogether to literally swim with the sharks. Languages that they had to learn when they’re in their 20s. But all this strength does bring guilt and pressure on us, as being the children of immigrants. Which is ever rarely mentioned. I admired the portrayal of Hanan who goes on to battle her mother’s failing restaurant, her sick father, her job security, and at last, her potential love life.

Written by a Muslim author, I am pleased to validate, YES, THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT FOR SO LONG!

The scenes of enduring racism or hate crime made my stomach churn.

Even though Aydin and Hana were rivals that eventually turned into lovers, I loved their journey. Both being Muslims, they were used to showcase different aspects of the culture. From an overly supportive father to a conservative, Uzma touched upon each nook of the culture without it being generalized. Side characters such as Yusuf, Big J, Rashid, Luxmi, and so on, were portrayed with such care and affection. I believe they were all successful in putting out the message that it doesn’t matter if you’re Muslim from Syria, Jewish from Yemen, Hindu from India, or Muslim from India, indifferences only exist if you let them pierce into your life. Ah, it was one of those books that just makes your heart all warm and giddy with its roller-coaster ride.

Let’s not forget Billi Aunty and her MAJOR SECRET STORY! That took me by surprise. Here, I was thinking about how this book would only touch upon the correct portrayal of Muslims but there was also feminisms.

Uzma has stepped up from her previous book which I am really happy about. Part of Ayesha At Last felt predictable to me, but Hana Khan Carries On is entirely different.

A little complain though, why was it never mentioned what Hana’s voice sounded like on her Podcast show? Had it been autotuned? Did she speak normally? This little detail, which I thought carried a lot of weight at the start, eventually faded in the background with a lot of things that happened. So, I suppose I wouldn’t give it a lot of weight. But I am still curious.

There’s lots of love. Banter. Heartache. Secrets. (So. Many. Secrets!) Good food. Drama (Can my Desi folks even live without Drama?) So yes, a whole Indian package that would fill your days with smile and laughter. (Until it ends… :()

My Rating: It’s a 4.6/5.

Content Notices: Death. Racism. Potential Hate Crime.

Audience: Young Adults

Pages: 325, Kindle Edition

Book Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown: A Novel (The Brown Sisters Book 3)

Kindle Blurb:

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong. So she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore… and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

My Thoughts:

I finally read the book!!

Okay, so enough of fangirling over Eve’s story and my love for Talia.

Okay, I am ready. The book. Oh. My. God. What a beautiful book!

Talia’s writing style is what I would refer to as perfection. She’s the perfect mixture of funny, witty, quirky and even steamy writing. She mentions the pandemic in a sly manner that made me chuckle with the words “lockdown” and “tracking vaccine” in the book. Which was a good homage to 2020. Thank you for providing me with a good start to 2021 (erm… even if its 4 months in. haha)

There’s so much charisma in her writing style that pulls me in. Out of the Brown Sisters series, I enjoyed and adored Eve the most. Perhaps it had more to do with Jacob and the autistic representation in the story.

Some of Jacob’s mannerisms and fears felt personal to the point that I was in tears. Sure the book was more of a romantic comedy, but when faced with my fears in form of another character, it was an out of body experience where I felt Talia was able to split me open and look into my insides. A very raw feeling. Needless to say, I rooted for him. I understood what went through his mind, because I am the same way.

I adore that Talia’s writing takes me by surprise especially during the…. ahem….

Her knack for writing books that not only represents minorities but educates others on different aspects is what makes her respectable. I might seem bias but you have to understand that there are very rare writers that hold such command over their pens without coming off as being rude or disrespectful.

My Rating: It’s a 4.6/5. The ending melted my heart. So adorable. So cute. I loved all the Brown sisters who made a “cameo” appearance in this book.

Content Notices: Childhood neglect and anti-autistic ableism. (Which was graciously provided by Talia at the start of the book.)

Audience: Young Adults

Pages: 393, Kindle Edition

ARC Review: One Monsoon in Mumbai: Trouble and Laughter and Mushy Stuff

Goodreads Blurb:

A nerdy hero, a dashing villain…

and an interfering auntie.

Life’s complicated for Seema Rawat, cyberspy.

From picking pockets in the slums of Mumbai to being picked as an agent by Intelligence Bureau’s hacking unit, Seema has come a long way. For her first assignment, she has to romance the suspect and break into his systems.

The target, Adhith, isn’t the kind of criminal she’s met before.

Looks, charm, money, and power… he has it all.

Well… Seema never backed away from a challenge. There are just two problems. Her auntie keeps a very close eye on her virtue. Then there’s Vikram—Adhith’s boss and BFF—who’s nerdy and awkward and altogether adorable.

Also, he’s a tech wizard.

His specialty? Cybersecurity.

One Monsoon in Mumbai is a zany spy romance with twists, turns, and humor that make it the perfect adventure.

My Thoughts:

Okay, Okay, okaaayyy!

Take a seat because this might be a long one…

There’s no doubt that the author is a wordsmith. Even when she is the master of her pen, her words seem very bland. Very distant from the characters. Other than Seema’s curls or her brown eyes, I couldn’t describe any of the characters mentioned in the book. (Perhaps the henchman? He was described very well in detail!) I wish the narration was better.

There was a lot of purple prose included especially in the first few chapters that got my head spinning. I had to take a few breaks in between with all the information that had been presented to me. Plus that information meshed with the dialogue that the characters had amongst themselves, didn’t leave any room for a surprise for me. I couldn’t experience their pain, heartbreak, angst, or even love. Though, I should mention it does show an enormous amount of research on the author’s part!

The ending was extremely anti-climatic, we spent 90% of the book-building for it, and then… it just didn’t deliver it.

The complex relationships introduced seemed futile. They were just names that I didn’t want to remember.

Also, as a Mumbaikar, I have a few bones to pick:

  1. HOW DID ADHI GET TO A PHONE REPAIR SHOP FROM GATE WAY TO SOMEWHERE NOT MENTIONED THAT TOOK HIM THIRTY MINUTES!? From Gate Way to somewhere like…. Fort would take minutes! AND THERE WAS A RICKSHAW IN THE BACKGROUND?! No rickshaws are present in South Mumbai!!
  2. Why was Madhu always dressed in a Hoodie? In Mumbai’s weather where a cotton tunic could just be drenched in sweat from rigorous walks that we USED to take pre-covid.
  3. The term “Islamic Terrorists” used in the book for 26/11 terror attacks. Just. NO. I don’t know if it was her own bias that seeped into the book?
  4. Monsoon scene in the slums seemed extremely superficial, especially with the way young Seema tried to escape
  5. Lastly the “Mumbaikar” Hindi used was so off. It really did irk me.

Please, experience our city firsthand. There’s more to it than just Gateway or Marine Drive.

Also, the suicide scene. Plus put a trigger warning of any sort. That was something I wasn’t expecting and it was sort of explained in detail.

My Rating: It’s a 2.8/5 for me, the only reason I finished reading it was the fact it was based in Mumbai.

Content Notices: Loss of a loved one, blood, sexual assault, and suicide attempt.

Audience: Young Adults

Pages: 346, Kindle Edition

I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.