As You Wish

As You Wish is Not My Dream Come True

As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

Published by Sourcebooks Fire and expected to release Jan. 2018

Genre: Magical Realism

Pages: 432

As You Wish

So! Hmm. I, umm. I don’t know, y’all. I’m getting really tired of writing reviews that are somewhere between good and bad. Maybe I’m the problem. I swear I’m only requesting books I’m sure I’ll like! And then, I don’t know. Ugh.

I will say I really enjoyed it for a while. The first chapter hooked me. There is A LOT to love about this book, but I was left feeling very “meh” about it. So… another pro/con list it is!

As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.

Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.

As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

The Premise

I was immediately intrigued by this idea. Because while wish-granting is not even kind of a new idea, I hadn’t seen it like this before. I loved the concept of a whole town making wishes. Before I’d even received the book, I found myself thinking about how that may affect a town. Would they turn wishing into an obsession? A religion? Yes. And I love that shit. Because I’m a firm believer in everyone having something they put all their faith in. For these people, it’s wishing, though wishing seems to have ruined most of their lives.

I think there’s something amazing, too, about the age eighteen. These are kids who have to make the biggest decision of their lives. I know that my dreams and motivations at eighteen were nothing like what they are now, ten years later. What if we had to stick with the choices we made at this insane time where we feel like an adult but are really a child? Well, things would suck. I dig that.

The Characters

Now I’m going to tell you right away that I’m not in the majority here. I read the other reviews and people really don’t like Eldon, our narrator. I have expressed on many occasions that I don’t need to like a character to like a book. And while I don’t like Eldon and wouldn’t want to hang out with him, I understand him. I think that’s what is important. He has clear motivations for being the asshole he is. His confusion and angst make perfect sense.

His best friend Merrill (I can’t with these names, y’all) is great. Hilarious and exactly the weird little conspiracy theorist you expect to live in the middle of nowhere.

The people of the town have such horrific stories and so much regret and I think their brokenness is absolutely beautiful.

The Backstories

In preparation for his wish, Eldon gathers stories about people in the town and their wishes. Everyone pretty much knows everyone’s wishes, but he gets the backstories, the why’s and the wherefore’s. These chapters change voice and are, for me, the best writing in the book. A couple of times I said profanities aloud, reading these chapters. They’re beautiful, and they are the part of the book I will remember now that it’s over.

As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

Women

This is a BIG one for me. Women are not well-represented in As You Wish.  The guys make shallow wishes, yeah. (Eldo’s dad as an example.) But we also see a lot of men who made wishes that, while not necessarily good decisions, make sense. We only even get the perspective of a few women, and most are pretty absurd. Girls have dreams outside of being prettiest. Girls have dreams outside of making boys fall in love with them. We really only get two girls who seem to make admirable wishes? And one is one of the blandest characters ever and one is a little obnoxious and Eldon talks shit on her constantly.

There’s also a moment that could potentially really alienate asexuals, and I can’t stand that.

Pacing

It’s a long book, but I’d have a pretty hard time telling you things that happen in it. There are very few actual events, which makes it really easy to put down. The most exciting parts, for me, were the parts from the past. There just wasn’t enough really moving things forward in the present.

Because of this, a lot all happens at once. And Eldon flips all at once, and it makes his change a little hard to grasp. Does Eldon grow? I mean, technically, yeah. It’s not so much growth as an abrupt and complete reversal of who he was for the first 350 pages. It didn’t feel very realistic, and it left me feeling unfulfilled.

Missed Opportunities

I’m a person who needs closure. Not necessarily emotional closure, which we kind of? get here. But I really wanted to know SOMETHING about why the cave granted wishes. This is the hardest part to talk about without spoilers, because I can’t tell you what I WANTED to happen without telling you it doesn’t happen. So I’m just going to say I think there was a lot of cool stuff behind the concept that could have been explored, and wasn’t.

As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti



 

The Sunday Post | Weekly Wrap-Up #3

I’m linking up with The Sunday Post hosted by Kimberly @Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

I didn’t get as much done this week as I wanted to reading-wise, but I’m querying a novel and that takes so much time and research and that’s been taking up most of my free time!

I was also featured in Double The Books magazine, as their book blogger of the month! So their feature number 11 has that interview in it 😀 Check it out!

I managed two reviews this week (click on the picture to see the review):

I reviewed When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, which I really enjoyed.

And Jane of Austin, which is a Sense and Sensibilities re-telling, which was such a bummer. Started out so promising and ended up flopping for me.

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge When Dimple Met Rishi book by Sandhya Menon

I was also tagged by Jo-ann at Inspiration Pie to do a mid-year wrap up! And you can find that post here!

I’m reading three ARCs from NetGalley. As You Wish by Chelsea Sedotti, which I really enjoy! I’m about 70% of the way done, so review will probably come soon. I also have The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (I’m having a hard time getting into this one) and Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang (which I haven’t made a ton of progress on, either.)

I hope everyone has a great week!



Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

Published by Waterbrook Press on June 13th, 2017

Genre: Contemporary, romance.

Pages: 308

I was so excited for this modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility. There is a lot to like about Jane of Austin, and there are some things I really didn’t love. I’m not quite sure how to wrap up my feelings? So I think it’s time for my first book review in the form of a pro/con list.

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected—Texas.

In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn’t so far away.

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

The Re-telling

I love a good re-telling, especially when something I love gets remade into something more modern, and this aspect of the book I think is really fun. I thought the updated details were cute while paying homage to the original. For instance, rather than their father dying, he flees the country after having been caught up in a financial scandal. Instead of going on a trip to London with their new family, they go to South By Southwest (a music festival in Austin). It’s cute! And it stays very, very close to the original story. The only big difference being that in this, the girls own a tea shop, and move to Austin because they are evicted from the premises.

The Tea Shop

It’s hard to explain how cute this is, because yeah, it’s a shop. But I fell in love with the shop, with the sister’s passion about it, and even though it was early on, I was devastated that they lost it. Their search for a new shop in Austin is a big part of the story, and you really fall in love with Jane’s (the Marianne character) idea of what it should be. She grows her own plants and makes her own tea blends, and they’re intensely in love with pastries, and you find yourself wrapped up in that while you read. Especially because at the end of some chapters, there are recipes! It’s so cute.

Jane of Austin Book

The Narration

Alternates between being told from Jane’s point of view and Callum Beckett’s (the Colonel Brandon of the story). I didn’t expect to, but I found myself enjoying his chapters the best.

Dash!

Is a therapy dog with three legs. A therapist convinces Callum (who is missing half of one of his legs) to adopt him, and it’s amazing. Dash is a great character, and I love when a book has a family pet we actually give a crap about.

Adorable

The book is pretty, and that’s worth mentioning.

Jane of Austin book

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

The Re-telling

But you just said you love the re-telling! I know, I’m sorry. I did. But when an old story gets a modern update, I expect a new story. I don’t mean I want them to stray from the original plot; I like how close this one is. I mean that I don’t want the new book to rest on the novelty of it. Maybe that’s unrealistic, considering a big strength of Jane of Austin is how much we like Sense and Sensibility. But I think it needs to appeal just as much to people who don’t love the original, and I don’t know that that is possible here. Mostly because of

The Characters

I just… umm… I don’t know. I had a hard time, here. I really, really like Jane. She feels the most real and the most well-developed in every sense other than one, and it’s a big one, but we’ll get to that. She isn’t happy about their move, she is picky about their new shop, she is super passionate/particular about tea and her family, and she is altogether a real and relatable human. I had issues with every other major character, save their youngest sister Margot.

Callum is a great guy, he really is. And we get to see just how much of a good man he is, since part of this is first person narration from him. But he’s just a little too great. Zero flaws, really. He’s a veteran and he takes care of absolutely everyone and there’s not a lot more to him. It’s nice, yeah, but it’s also exhausting and hard to believe. We need flaws. We need depth.

The Various Love Stories

And then there’s fucking Sean. Now, okay. Sean is Willoughby, so we’re not supposed to like him. We know from the original story that he’s going to break Jane’s heart and leave a string of sad women behind him. I’m okay with all of that, because it’s a re-telling and that’s how that works. BUT. In this book, which has to stand on it’s own and not rest on novelty as I said previously, the love between Sean and Jane is not believable at all. We know Jane, we know she’s an intelligent, particular woman, and she falls in love with Sean based on nothing but good looks and musical talent. And I’m sorry, I don’t buy it. Now a lot is going on behind the scenes, here, it’s alluded to that Jane and Sean spend a lot more time together than we see. But we do see them together a fair amount, and we don’t see anything that great. Sure, their brief interactions are flirtatious and they obviously have physical attraction between them, but that’s honestly it. I didn’t care about Sean for even one second. What WOULD impress me is a re-telling that gets me to love the Sean/Willoughby character, so I actually give a shit when he’s gone.

Because I don’t care about Sean, I cannot connect to Jane as she goes through her break-up and resultant depression and illness. If our narrator hurts, I need to hurt with her. And I didn’t here. I would even have preferred if I had hated the Sean character, because then I would have felt something. But I was offered a character that is neither likable or unlikable. He is bland and boring, and I felt nothing through a good portion of the book because of it.

And then there’s Callum, the good-hearted Texan who picks up the pieces after Sean has abandoned not one, but two women close to Callum. He somehow falls in love with Jane, even though we see them together like… three times? And alone only once for about three minutes. I know he’s supposed to fall in love with Jane. I know Colonel Brandon falls in love with Marianne. But, again, (I know I’m a broken record here), this needs to stand alone, and the love Callum feels for Jane isn’t realistic, either. And it bothered me most because of this quote:

“I hadn’t realized until that moment how much I knew her, that even from hundreds of feet away I could see the way she stood, the tilt of her head, and know her at once.”

That quote is supposed to make us say aww. But I said uhh, what? Because we’ve barely even seen them together. How could he possibly know her this well?

In fact, in going back through the notes I wrote to prepare to write this review, I found this one:

Jane of Austin Book

Yeah. I write in books. Come at me.

When Callum says he loves Jane, I’m not excited, I’m confused.

Thanks to Blogging For Books for advanced access to Jane of Austin in exchange for an honest review!



 

 

The Midyear Freakout Book Tag!

Thanks to Jo-Ann at Inspiration Pie for tagging me! Go check out her awesome blog!

This is a fun, middle-of-the-year reading wrap-up.

 

1 – THE BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2017

I have read a lot of good ones! But I think the one I enjoyed most and has stuck with me most, has been Archetype. A science fiction book by M.D. Waters that I read in one sitting because it’s just so beautiful and different.

Archetype Novel by M.D. Waters

 

2 – YOUR FAVORITE SEQUEL THIS YEAR

So… I’m terrible, because I haven’t read a sequel this year! I have a ton that I’ve been super excited about, and I just haven’t made it happen. I’m supposed to be working on Prototype, the sequel to Archetype but with how much I loved the book, I’m scared I’ll find the sequel disappointing! I also bought Chaos, the sequel to Fates, which I liked a lot less and am therefore less invested in, but it’s just not at the top of my list of TBR priorities.

 

3 – A NEW RELEASE THAT YOU HAVEN’T READ BUT REALLY WANT TO

Flame in the Mist!!! I want to read it SO badly, and just haven’t moved it up my priority list! But it sounds so good. Omg.

 

4 – MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

I’m excited for sooo many!! But I think I’m most excited for A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares. It had me at that amazing title, and the premise just sounds so funky and cute.

 

5 – YOUR BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

My biggest disappointment was a book a few years old, called Hexed. I love witchy stories, (I will forever be waiting for the next The Craft), so I had high hopes. 90% of this was either boring or offensive. Feel free to read my review of it, if you like, linked in the title.

Hexed novel by Michelle Krys

 

6 – BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE YEAR

I was SO very pleasantly surprised by Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein. I picked it up on impulse and didn’t expect much, but it was brilliant and hilarious and I read it in one sitting. About two kids who bond over hating each other’s music.

Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein

 

7 – FAVORITE NEW TO YOU OR DEBUT AUTHOR

I’m going to have to go with the aforementioned Jen Klein. I loved Shuffle, Repeat so much, and she contacted me about the review and sent me her next book that was coming out! Which I also completely adored. She’s now on my list of authors whose books I will buy on sight.

 

8 – YOUR NEW FICTIONAL CRUSH

Fatale, a cyborg from Soon I Will Be Invincible. She is smart and witty and fast and strong, and I just adore her.

 

 10 – A BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth was a huge surprise! It’s about a guy who worked with computer coding, working his way through his first real relationship. I ended up bawling at the end!

The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth

 

11 – A BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

When Dimple Met Rishi made me SO happy. I had a feeling I would like it, but the dynamic between Dimple and Rishi and the dynamic between Dimple and Rishi and everyone else just killed me in the best way.

When Dimple Met Rishi book by Sandhya Menon

 

 12 – YOUR FAVORITE BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION THAT YOU’VE SEEN THIS YEAR

So… I haven’t seen one! I don’t watch a ton of adaptations? Because I get so obnoxious about it if I hate them. I took the sixth Harry Potter movie personally. I felt it was a personal attack. I will say I am really excited about 13 Reasons Why, if I ever get around to watching it.

Which! Oh! Reminds me that I watched the adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events and LOVED it. Loved. Omg. Adore NPH, loved the narration. So good.

And I re-watched Gone Girl this year, which I love. If that counts?

I guess I’ve watched more than I thought, haha.

 

13 – FAVORITE BOOK POST YOU’VE PUBLISHED THIS YEAR

My post on When Dimple Met Rishi is probably my favorite, if for no other reason than that a few people have told me my review tipped the scales for them and now they’re excited to read it! I love that.

 

14 – THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU HAVE BOUGHT/RECEIVED THIS YEAR

Okay I’m a broken record… but When Dimple Met Rishi. I LOVE this cover. I love that they didn’t touch up her skin, you can see every hair on her face, every imperfection, and it is just so real and awesome. Plus the back, omg.

One Of Us Is Lying and Jane of Austin deserve honorable mention for gorgeousness also.

When Dimple Met Rishi book by Sandhya Menonone of us is lying book novel mcmanus

 

15 – WHAT ARE SOME BOOKS THAT YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?

I WILL FINISH THE BOOKS I HAVE STARTED! (I probably won’t.) But I really want to! These are books that I’ve gotten like, halfway through and for whatever reason haven’t had time to finish and didn’t LOVE them enough to make them a priority.

 

I Tag:

Avalinah’s Books!

 

And anyone else who wants to do it!

Have fun y’all 😀

When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi: An Adorkable YA Romance

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Published by Simon Pulse in 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Romance

Pages: 380

I went and bought When Dimple Met Rishi the DAY it came out because omg. I was in love basically from the moment I saw the cover, and then the premise intrigued me so much I knew I had to have it.

I am living for these pictures I took. Seriously.

When Dimple Met Rishi book by Sandhya Menon

(Dimple is a coder and Rishi is a comic book artist :D)

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

is so intriguing! I love that it’s about arranged marriage for a few reasons. One being that to people outside of a culture that practices arranged marriage, a lot of people may think the custom is antiquated, or that it’s only practiced outside of the US. I thought it was so cool to expose people to how Indian families living in America may still navigate this part of their culture. Another being that we get to see how kids who are Indian and American react to it (more on this to come).

I also feel the pacing is really great. This is a book about Dimple and Rishi, and they’re both in every chapter and we watch their relationship progress at exactly the speed we want it to. I read a lot of YA romance, and sometimes the relationship takes a long time to develop or the two aren’t around each other as much as I’d like or it just seems somehow slower. It makes it less realistic, when we’ve only seen two characters together twice and suddenly they’re in love, no matter how much behind-the-scenes time together has been alluded to. It’s harder for the reader to root for the characters in these cases. Dimple and Rishi are nearly always together, and it makes their development feel more realistic. This is fast-paced, and the way the chapters end, I always wanted to read another.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I love both Dimple and Rishi, and how they’re completely different and exactly the same. Their different feelings about their families is so beautiful and fun to watch. I love that two kids who have the same beliefs and culture act so differently toward it. I like that one cares so much about honor and tradition, and the other cares, but believes their feelings need to be validated also. They both have distinct and exciting character arcs. In addition, Celia and Ashish, the two closest side characters, also have their own motivations and arcs which I love.

is on Twitter, and you should follow her, because she’s awesome. This thread I think is just so beautiful, so I’m including it here. (You’ll have to read it from bottom to top, because unlike Dimple I am not proficient in computers, and did not want to take the time to re-order them after I took the screenshot :D)

Sandhya Menon

Because she’s right!! The amount of people who gravitated to this book almost immediately shows that readers interested in love stories are going to read love stories, regardless of whether they come from the same culture as the characters. If anything, we may be more interested to read about a culture that’s not our own.

I’d Recommend

When Dimple Met Rishi to anyone who wants a fun, quick summer read full of love and teenage cuteness.
Here’s a link in case you’d like to get it on Amazon!

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/shark hunter. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.

 

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