May 8, 2019

Friends with ARCs | The Key to Unhappily Ever After + There's Something about Sweetie

pub 5/14/19 by Gallery Books
Contemporary Fiction - Romance
Receive e-ARC from pub for review
I almost never see Filipino culture depicted in the books I read so I couldn't wait to get my hands on The Key to Happily Ever After. The three de la Rosa sisters – Marisol, Jane and Pearl – have just inherited the family business of wedding planning and even though they've grown up seeing what goes on behind-the-scenes, taking over is a whole other ballgame. There's the financial side, dealing with mercurial brides, couples arguing and the sisters themselves figuring out where they each fit in their new roles. It's a lot of old and newfound tensions bubbling to the surface as they struggle to make the business their own and explore what they each want as three very different women. And sprinkled throughout the book are many, many nods to Filipino culture: in the way they handle certain situations, their family dynamics, the food and more. It was such an amazing reflection of my own family interactions and how I was brought up, even though I don't have any sisters myself. But I have to say, aside from that and seeing all the ups and downs of wedding planning (to all the IRL wedding planners out there, you deserve a medal), everything else felt a bit lackluster. Even though there are three sisters, only two were given their own chapters, which I didn't really understand the logic of, and unfortunately, I only enjoyed one of them. But I can't say I connected to either one regardless. And to call this a romantic comedy feels a bit misleading. Yes there's romance in it but it wasn't developed enough to feel like relationships I'd necessarily root for wholeheartedly. They were sweet and that was the extent of it for me (aFYI, don't expect a lot of sexy times). Instead I would probably call this a family comedy because when it came down to it, the book was really about sisterly love and the obstacles (and hilarity) they faced together.

What's your favorite wedding in a romantic comedy? • I'm going to go with my gut answer which is Crazy Rich Asians. It was so over-the-top but how can you not be affected by Kina Grannis singing "Can't Help Falling in Love" as the bride walks down the aisle?

pub 5/14/19 by Simon Pulse
Young Adult - Contemporary Fiction
Received e-ARC from pub for review
There's Something About Sweetie is officially my favorite book from Sandhya Menon! Sweetie Nair is an all-star track athlete with an amazing group of girlfriends and the kind of self-confidence that made me immediately see what a boss she is. And yet, her mom is constantly telling her that she's fat and her life is and will continue to be lacking as a result. Sweetie is determined to show everyone just how wrong that mentality is and this decision just happens to coincide with meeting Ashish Patel. Ashish is wallowing after getting dumped by his ex-girlfriend and has decided to finally take his parents up on their offer of setting him up with an Indian-American girl of their choice. Naturally, Ashish's mom chooses Sweetie, as long as they abide by their dating contract. Letting Ashish's parents plan their dates sounded like a recipe for disaster but it's not! Instead we're privy to genuine, heartwarming moments between Sweetie and Ashish as they get to know one another. I loved how the author incorporated Indian culture through their dates and the interactions with their families. The latter plays a huge role in their story and while Sweetie's mom in particular often made me feel sad, seeing how each parent approached their child's life, dating and more is valuable to see. For me though, the heart of the book was ultimately Sweetie. Don't get me wrong, I loved Ashish and he's definitely book boyfriend material but being inside Sweetie's head was empowering. She made me laugh, want to cheer our loud and sympathize with her as she refused to give into stereotypes of any kind. We should all aspire to be a bit more like Sweet Nair.

What's something you were passionate about in high school? • I'm not an athletic person so unlike Sweetie and Ashish, sports were the furthest thing from my mind. Instead I was in a lot of clubs but my passion project was being the Editor-in-Chief of Zephyr, our high school poetry magazine, for two years in a row.

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Collaborative feature with Alexa. We read ARCs together and post our reviews on the same date.


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