May 24, 2017

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon 
pub 5/30/17 by Simon Pulse
YA - Contemporary
Borrowed ARC from Alexa
When I think of When Dimple Met Rishi, the first words that come to mind are: laugh out loud funny, cute, and totally heartwarming. It was exactly what I needed at the time and I honestly can't think of a reading experience where I giggled more than I did here. But while I guarantee the story will keep a perpetual smile on your face, there's so much more to it than meets the eye.

We alternate between the point-of-views of Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel. Dimple is ready to make her mark as a web developer and can't wait for the summer program her parents surprisingly agreed to pay for. She needs a break from her mother's constant haggling about finding the "Ideal Indian husband" but also turning into the "Ideal Indian wife". Dimple has a got mind and a will of her own, which 100% endeared her to me. On the other hand, there's Rishi who strongly believes in following the traditions set by his parents as the oldest son. For him that means a future that includes an arranged marriage and getting to know his future wife. And of course said future wife happens to be Dimple, except she has no idea that their parents have already suggested how they would make a great match. Oh and he's going to show up at the same summer program she's so excited for. Needless to say their first encounter was more meet-funny / meet-horrifying than meet-cute. (But then it starts to get real cute.)

What starts off on the wrong foot slowly but surely rights itself. I loved learning about this side of Indian culture and seeing how two Indian-Americans chose to uphold certain values and ideals. As someone who is Filipino-American, I completely understood the balance and the perspectives both Dimple and Rishi presented to one another and to us the reader. And along the way, I just fell in love with their love story. It felt very real and yes a little fast (but things do get heightened so fast on a campus setting!).  I thought Sandhya Menon did a wonderful job of balancing family, culture, growing up, first love, friendship and having confidence in who you are while being open to change. She tackles a lot and it never once slowed the pace nor felt too heavy. Like everything else about this it, it was just right!

Do I recommend?
A resounding yes. I can't recommend it enough! Plus look at that cover! I love it.

May 22, 2017

Table for Two #5

Alexa of Alexa Loves Books and I have teamed up to bring you a collaboration that involves two of our favorite things - New York City and food. We're proud to introduce Table for Two, where the two of us will be highlighting restaurants and dessert spots in New York City. You'll be hearing our personal opinions on the place and the food, as well as where you can go to try it out for yourself.

For this month's Table for Two, Alexa and I changing things up a bit because we'll both be talking about the same restaurant today and you'll totally understand why! We're featuring Pandorica, a Doctor Who-themed restaurant in upstate NY!

Being the Whovians that we are, we were extremely excited to check out Pandorica, which is in Beacon, NY. From where I live it's a little over an hour away but 100% worth the drive. I have to say though – even I wasn't quite prepared for how much I would fangirl at the sight of this restaurant! But as soon as we were standing outside and could see the giant Weeping Angel in the window display, we totally geeked out. (As in pictures galore and that's before we stepped inside!) The interior is basically every Doctor Who fan's dream. The walls are covered in art by an local artist (see here!), there are full-size cutouts or figures of a dalek and ood, paraphernalia everywhere, and of course, Doctor Who episodes playing in the background. Like I said, a dream

But on top of the incredible ambiance they had going, the food was great too! Alexa got the Hooverville BBQ'd Pulled Pork (I stole a lot of fries from her plate!) and I got the Are You My Mummy Bacon Bound Meatloaf, which was delicious. Then for dessert, we shared a Madame De Pompadour Cake and my personal fave, the Fish Fingers (aka battered dipped french toast) and Custard. 

This place is a must for any fans and I wouldn't be surprised if Alexa and I drove up again sometime! (Especially since it's Woodburry Commons outlets!)

You can find The Pandorica Restaurant at 165 Main Street Beacon NY 12508. Let us know if you check it out!

May 19, 2017

What I'm Watching | Anne with an E

I did it. I binged the new Netflix series Anne with an E that reimagines the world of L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, one of my favorite books of all time.

Always my Anne & Gilbert
And I didn't hate it! (I didn't love it either but still.) I know that may sound silly or like a very low bar but the truth is, I was more scared than excited for this adaptation. I grew up on the 1985 mini-series featuring Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie. My childhood best friend and I saw ourselves in that Anne and Diana and to this day, it's our movie. So I wasn't sure how this would hold up and I knew I had to get myself in the right mindset when I started watching episode 1. This is what I told myself:

  • These aren't the books and be open to the changes.
  • This won't in any way shape or form replace the original series as your favorite and Megan Follows will always be Anne.

Honestly, once I had that divide in my mind, I was able to appreciate Anne with an E for what it was and see clearly what I did and didn't like overall. This series is by far a darker interpretation. Anne's penchant for imagination is part the creativity we all know and love about her but it's also tinged with PTSD manic behavior. The latter comes from the exploration of Anne's life before Green Gables, something that's only alluded to in the books but here, we get clear flashbacks of the tough times she endured. In a lot of ways, it makes sense. For a young girl to be bounced from house to house and treated like a servant, of course there's going to be lingering ramifications on her emotional psyche. It certainly made me look at Anne with new eyes. But the core qualities I loved were still there. Her thirst for knowledge (and competitive nature), her belief she could do anything she wanted, her open heart and the importance she placed on friendship and family and her knack for getting into trouble.

Anne, Marilla & Matthew 
I'd be remiss though not to admit that I found myself oftentimes yearning for the lightness and subtlety of the show's predecessors. Like, the feminist themes that were always a part of the book became blaring PSAs. At times, it felt like we were getting beaten over the head with it given the number of times Anne says she can do anything a boy can or by having Marilla Cuthbert attend a feminist book club (yes, you read that right). Another interesting take was on the town of Avonlea itself. The original was a mostly welcoming town where Anne encountered some bullying (Josie Pye!) but here, Avonlea becomes a small-town trope where they're wary of outsiders and her classmates are exceedingly mean to her (I'll admit Ruby Gillis was perfectly cast despite how annoying she was). It just didn't make sense for the entire community to be against Anne on top of everything else she was struggling with. Not to mention, Gilbert and Anne's interactions were very, very different in ways that didn't make sense to me either. Even that iconic moment of her hitting him over the head with a slate didn't have the same funny tone I'm used to. I just think there could've been more of a balance between the more serious themes the show obviously wanted to explore and the original heartwarming nature of this story.

Adorable new Gilbert | Credit
Still, I did say there were things I liked about the series and I meant it. Probably most unexpected for me was how much I loved the new Marilla and Gilbert. Aside from Anne, they were the two other characters I couldn't imagine anyone else playing and yet, Geraldine James and Lucas Jade Zumann filled their shoes wonderfully. This Marilla keeps an even closer hold on her emotions which made her opening up to Anne that much more moving. And Gilbert! This boy is such a cutie. He's absolutely charming and if we get a season 2, I'm curious to see how his relationship with Anne develops. I also enjoyed learning more about Marilla and Matthew's backstory and the emphasis on the fact that they've just become parents. In the book, it's not acknowledged outright but here, we see them come to that startling realization, fumble their way through it and ultimately do what's best for Anne because they love her. I really, really liked that.

Now here's the where the show nearly lost me – the season finale. I won't spoil it, of course, but it just went in directions that were completely antithetical to the book. Up until this point I had embraced a lot of the changes, while questioning others, but this finale was just all wrong in more ways than one. It makes me scared for where season 2 is headed despite the fact that I am hoping it'll get picked up anyway. There are still a lot of loose ends that I want to see played out on screen but the finale definitely left a bad taste in my mouth.

Overall, Anne with an E engaged me far more than I expected to. I laughed out loud, I cried, I fell in love with the portrayals of certain characters. But as you can see, I did have a lot of problems with it. But maybe it's my soft spot for all things Anne Shirley that makes me willing to see where this show goes anyway. (Season 2 will be the deal breaker though!)

Have you watch the new series yet? And if you have, what did you think?