When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: Book Review

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Obtained: Simon & Schuster Canada, ARC
Pages: 380
Publish date: May 30, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

SUMMARY

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.

Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

First of all, I loved the diversity in this book. I love reading about different cultures and traditions, and this book actually gave me a great insight into a culture that isn’t my own.

The story was also super adorable. It was so sickly sweet that I found myself d’awww-ing out loud. I find a lot of YA romances feel interchangeable and eventually I begin to mix them up in my head, but you just know right off the bat that When Dimple Met Rishi is going to be a rom com to remember. All of the little details in the novel – Insomnia Con, Dimple and Rishi’s separate dreams and passions in life, the Bollywood dance routine – are ones that will make this YA romance stand out against all of the other ones for me.

Dimple and Rishi were great, and I actually really loved Dimple as a strong female lead. I could imagine her perfectly in my head, and I related to her quite a bit.

AND WHAT I DIDN’T

Honestly, I felt the ending to this book was kind of rushed. There was only 100 pages left and Insomnia Con still had three weeks to go. I kind of wished all of the plots had more time to wrap up; it was literally the halfway-point of Insomnia Con and then the next paragraph was “we’re announcing the winners”.

My other issue with this book is that I didn’t particularly like the secondary characters – Celia and especially the Aberzombies – seemed very flat. The “bad guys” were so over-the-top “bad” that I just couldn’t believe them. I wish they’d had more redeeming qualities to make them more well-rounded.

RECOMMEND IF…

  • You love cheesy romantic comedies;
  • You crave some diversity in your reading;
  • You want a read that will keep you smiling the whole way through;
  • You’d like to gain perspective about social privilege.

When Dimple Met Rishi is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

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How the Arkells Changed My Life

I can count the bands I love on one hand. They’re not just bands I like, but bands that have had a serious impact on my life. Green Day has always been my group – the one whose music has meant the most to me and inspired me since I was ten years old. It’s been so long, I guess I forgot what it felt like to “love” a group like that. Then I got a chance to see Arkells at their homecoming concert in Hamilton.

“Take me to the bus stop Matty, drive me back to Hamilton…”
-Book Club

It was the first concert I’ve ever been to where I only knew a couple of songs, but still had a blast singing along. I fell in love that night – but not with a person. Arkells rekindled my love and appreciation for music. Their songs are so upbeat and happy, or emotionally charged. I can’t stand still. “Dirty Blonde” comes on, and I just need to dance.

“Give me your number, pick any colour, I can tell your fortune tonight.”
-Dirty Blonde

I guess that’s when I realized I wasn’t happy. In that moment, I fell in love with a sound harder than I’d fallen in love with the person I was dating. When I listen to their music, it makes me feel stronger – happier, sadder, giddier – than I felt when I was with the guy who was supposed to be “the one”.

In that moment, I decided I was tired of feeling numb. I realized I don’t need a person to make me feel – I can feel things on my own – with a book, with a game, with a band, with a song. And whether it was with another person, or by myself, I realized this is how I wanted to feel for the rest of my life.

The Arkells were the light in my life when I was numb and repressed by my selfish ex.

“I just want to love you, but it’s so hard.”
-Private School

They were there when he left me.

“When the rain starts comin’ down, a little rain ain’t bringin’ me down.”
-A Little Rain (A Song for Pete)

And they were there when I fell for someone who respected me, and who empowered me to be the person I wanted to be, for me. Not for him or for anyone else.

“It used to be just weekends, now I want you everyday.”
-My Heart’s Always Yours

The Arkells were my lifeline in a time when I needed something to shake me from my comfort zone, and tell me that there was something better out there for me. I just had to get out of my funk and find it.

And I can already feel the difference between going through the motions, and being just plain happy. I’m as happy as I was that night in Hamilton, and I feel happy every time I put High Noon on my record player.

I cannot wait to see the Arkells when they come to Toronto this month, because this time around it’ll mean so much more.

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Michelle Muses: May 2017

Holy crap, I feel like this month flew by. Remember how at the end of April, I said I would take it easier this month? I actually did it! I’m usually the worst and just fill my calendar with stuff, but I took this month kind of easy. So here are the low-key adventures I went on in May.

Mother’s Day: For Mother’s Day, my mom and I went to see Beauty and the Beast (finally). I was really hesitant about seeing the movie because TBH I’m not a huge fan of Emma Watson (sorry, not sorry), but Beauty and the Beast was my favourite movie as a kid. I would literally watch it like, 4 times back to back in one day and then watch it again the next day, and the next day. No wonder I’m such a book nerd. Anyway, there’s no one else I would have rather gone to see this with, and it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.

When the music started at the beginning, I may have cried. I also may have cried when each character was introduced for the first time (Belle! *sob* Gaston! *sob*). And when Belle and the Beast started the dancing scene… Okay I cried like the whole time. Thank god for 3D glasses covering my shame.

Michelle’s first ball game: So apparently it was sacreligious that I live basically in Toronto and have never been to a Jays game before. So Jacob and I went to one. I’d go again!

May 24 long weekend: Guys I did nothing over May 2-4. It was great. Friday afternoon by 6pm, Jacob and I were in pajamas with a glass of wine/beer and watching Netflix. That was our weekend. It was glorious.

Toronto with Sam: I met up with my bestie Sam and we went shopping (I bought way too many albums whoops), and we had lunch at our fave diner, and dinner at this amazing pho restaurant on Queen street. And even though it was pouring rain like half the time, it was so fun!

Date night in: No man has ever said “let’s cook dinner together” to me before. It is also a fact that I don’t typically cook. So we went and got ingredients, got a little creative, and spent the evening preparing dinner together. ❤

Booked my first vacation: I have never been overseas before. I’ve never been on a vacation without an adulty-relative before. But this weekend, I booked a trip to Iceland with one of my friends, and it is extremely exciting. I’m planning like a crazy person just because it’s fun for me to imagine all the things I can do not in Canada.

Basically, I just spent a lot of time this month with this guy, relaxing and watching TV (recently finished Bill Nye Saves the World and now onto Brooklyn Nine-Nine – so good!) But alas, relaxing can only last so long.

Next month begins the season of concerts.

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Huff & Stitch by Cliff Cardinal: Book Review

Huff & Stitch

Obtained: Playwrights Canada Press
Pages: 112
Publish date: March 27, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

SUMMARY

Huff is the wrenching, yet darkly comic tale of Wind and his brothers, caught in a torrent of solvent abuse and struggling to cope with the death of their mother.

Wind’s fantastic dream world bleeds into his haunting reality, as he’s preyed on by the Trickster through the hallways at school, the abandoned motel he loves more than home, and his own fragile psyche.

-from Native Earth Performing Arts

Kylie Grandview, single mom, and one of the nameless faces that blip across the screens of internet pornography is seduced by her dreams of starring in a main stream movie. In a twisted, turning series of self-sabotaging decisions ultimately resulting in the loss of her child, Stitch is Kylie’s last ditch effort to tell the truth about what happened to her face.

-from Native Earth Performing Arts

WHAT I LIKED

I’ll say right off the bat, I enjoyed reading Stitch more than I enjoyed reading Huff. They evened out to four stars because one earned 3 stars from me, while the other was a 5. Both plays utilized the idea of characters that were personifications of things (in Huff, a character represented smell, while in Stitch, there was a character representing a yeast infection – yup). Which I really liked – I love that theatre has the ability to make visual things that typically aren’t visually accessible.

I found that Stitch was a more interesting read for me, because it addressed a lot of feminism and gender issues. It was really disturbing to think about Kylie’s daughter stumbling upon the porn starring her mother and even reenacting the scenes with her friends, but it also made me feel sad that women kind of fall into the expectation that their worth is dependent on their appearance and their sex appeal. There are many more things I could write about regarding this play, but for now I’ll leave it at this: if you’re interested in reading about women’s issues, this is a great read.

AND WHAT I DIDN’T

I don’t think I particularly didn’t like anything about either play, I just don’t think I related much with Huff, so I felt more disconnected reading that one. I think I’d like to see it on stage before coming up with a final opinion on the play.

RECOMMEND IF…

  • You like reading theatre; and
  • You can stomach reading disturbing scenes.

Huff & Stitch is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

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Black Dog: 4 vs the Wrld by Matthew Heiti: Book Review

Black Dog: 4 vs the wrld

Obtained: Playwrights Canada Press
Pages: 112
Publish date: March 14, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

SUMMARY

A darkly comic story of four teenagers struggling with death, depression, and the shadow of a black dog.

Two is fraught. While dealing with the impossible expectations of her parents, she is trying to understand why her brother has taken his own life. It’s not until a fateful school detention that she meets three other students as lost as she is.

-from Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

I loved the fact that this play breaks the fourth wall. Heiti doesn’t invite the audience to think about mental illness, but forces them to. The play begins with the cast members in the audience. People who suffer mental illness aren’t “those people over there”, they’re everyone and anyone. The characters don’t even have names: they’re Two, Three, Four, and Five. It allows the reader to relate to them, rather than distancing them with a name that isn’t their own.

I’m sorry, when I read theatre, I automatically go into “essay” mode. Because to me, theatre is just smart and much more fun to analyze. Which I definitely did the entire time I was reading this piece.

I loved the realism of the characters. I loved the way that Heiti incorporated technology and the screen into the play; I thought that was particularly interesting.

AND WHAT I DIDN’T

My only complaint is my usual complaint about what happens when I read theatre: it was too short. I wish I could have seen a production of the play to see how it was interpreted from page to stage, but I guess reading it gave me the freedom to come up with my own ideas of what this story looks like.

RECOMMEND IF…

  • You liked The Breakfast Club;
  • You like literature that breaks the fourth wall; or
  • You are interested in stories about characters who have to overcome intense internal struggles.

Black Dog: 4 vs the Wrld is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

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On Friend Groups – And Why I Don’t Have One

This post was inspired by Beverly’s post on her blog, Bev’s Eye View. Because I’ve seen a few instances, and know quite a lot of people who are part of a group of friends and love it. And I can see why! You have a group of people who you can go out and do things with, who have your back, who feel much like a second family. Why wouldn’t that be awesome?

Unfortunately, I’ve just had too many bad experiences with groups of friends, that I kind of don’t want one anymore.

First, let me clarify.

This is not to say that I don’t have friends.

I do have friends. Lots of friends. Some might say too many friends.

While people in friend groups have a set group of people they reach out to when they need someone, I’m not limited to that. I have like 5 people I’m super close to, but they’re not close to each other. Most of them don’t even know each other. And then I’ve got about 15-20 people outside of those 5 (who again, mostly don’t know each other), and genuinely enjoy hanging out with on a regular basis. So I maintain those friendships.

I just honestly prefer hanging out in very small groups, or one-on-one for more personal human interaction time. In elementary school, it was always about “who was mad at who for what stupid reason”. I have two friends I still talk to that I knew in elementary school.

In high school, I had probably the closest thing to a friend group I’ve ever had. I was dating a guy and was welcomed in by his friends. I quite liked having them there, but there was always the itching feeling that they only included me because I was dating their best friend. We broke up. Four years later, the friendships still stuck. Until they didn’t, and I was promptly “ejected” – shall we say – from being included in that group. Cool.

I’ve sort of been included in friend groups of the boys I’ve dated, but after this incident, I was much more aware of maintaining my own friendships and not relying on this means of meeting people. Because when the relationships ended, so did the friendships.

I find my experience with friend groups has been very negative because I see them, a lot of the time, from the outside-in. The people involved in them are cliquey; they’re scared of not being invited out with the rest of the group; they don’t venture into new territory and try to include new people.

I love not having a friend group.

I have various people in my life who I can talk to about different things and who know me on different levels. I can spill my deepest secrets to a friend I met in college, then the next day go to a book signing with a friend I met online, and then have drinks with a friend from work, and then have a girls painting night with a friend I met through a friend, and then go to a concert with a friend I met through an ex. I’m not stuck doing the same thing with the same people, ever. And quite honestly, it’s fuckin’ sweet.

I’m not limited to the same 5 or 6 perspectives as people who have the same friends forever. I’m not scared to talk to new people and cultivate new friendships. In fact, I love meeting a new person and getting to know them, and going on some new adventure together.

There are few friends I’ve hung onto for a number of years, but most of my friends come and go. And I don’t mind. I enjoy knowing people, no matter how temporary. Old friends fade and new ones come and add to my life in new ways. And the ones that do stick around, well those are the ones I see as my family.

So I guess my “friend group” exists. It’s just 20-30 people big. And I never hang out with them all at once.

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The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi: Book Review

The Gauntlet

Obtained: Simon & Schuster Canada, ARC
Pages: 298
Publish date: March 28, 2017
Rating: ★★★

SUMMARY

A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.

-from Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

I loved the diversity in this book. I don’t know about you, but I’m so sick of reading about white people doing white people things and eating white people food and having any POC feeling very white-washed to make them “digestible” and “easier to read”. So reading a book where the protagonist wears a hijab was pretty awesome. I liked taking a dive into a new perspective and getting a taste (quite literally) of a culture different than mine.

I also really enjoyed the storyline. I thought it was original, and I was interested to see what would come next.

AND WHAT I DIDN’T

I wish there was more. I expected a super developed fictional world, but I felt as though a lot of the plotlines weren’t developed as much as they could have been. I only got a handful of pages in before these characters I barely knew or cared about yet were being swept up into a board game. I think it would have been better if Farah’s life had been a little bit more developed before tossing her into this situation. On the other hand, if the Gauntlet world was also more developed and given more detail, I could have forgiven the lack of context. But I didn’t feel particularly attached to either world.

Also related, the author compares instances Farah encounters in the Gauntlet to instances in her past, but they were moments that we as readers didn’t get a chance to read about first. Some foreshadowing or ability to make connections from one world to the other would have made it a lot more meaningful to the story. I understand this book is for young readers, but it felt a little too “young”.

RECOMMEND IF…

  • You’re looking for a diverse book;
  • You enjoy fantasy and books for young readers;
  • You like stories that move fast and don’t look back.

The Gauntlet is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

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Bon Jovi: This House is Not for Sale Tour

Bon Jovi w/ Cannons
When: April 11, 2017
Where: Air Canada Centre – Toronto, ON
Seats: Lower level, Row 25 – Rear

THE COMPANY

This was the first concert where Jacob accompanied me, and it was really exciting – mostly because I’m a pretty quiet person, but when it comes to concerts, I’m loud and I sing and dance the whole time. And it’s kind of scary to go to a show with someone who may or may not clap along or cheer at the end of a song. But we had a great time dancing together!

It was also particularly awesome because we got these tickets off of Groupon, so they were $20 each. So it was super last minute, but such a great night.

THE PERFORMANCE

I was kind of worried, because our discount tickets put us sort of behind the stage, but honestly the view was incredible. And when Bon Jovi hit the stage, everyone was on their feet, dancing and cheering the whole night. I was excited to hear a handful of my favourite songs (“Shot Through the Heart” – heyyyooo) but I didn’t realize how many other songs I recognized!

I think what I loved the most was that JBJ was really open to creating an experience for all types of fans. At one point, he began explaining the meaning behind the band’s newer songs and what they meant to them before beginning each one. Then he announced, “This is the last new one – the rest are hits from here on out.” When a band has so many hits, it must be hard to find a happy medium when touring a new album. But I think they did a great job at introducing This House is Not For Sale to an audience that was likely hoping for hits or their older tunes.

THE AUDIENCE

The audience at this show was incredible. Sitting at a “behind the stage” angle actually gave me a new appreciation for shows, because it allowed me to see the audience from the perspective of the band on stage. I’d look out and see the lights illuminating the faces in the crowd, and I could see how much fun they were having singing the lyrics along with the band. It was so cool. And of course, my favourite part of any show – when the audience pulls out their lights and makes the ACC look like the night sky – was just amplified because of all the excitement and my surprisingly amazing seats.

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COMPLETE SETLIST:

  1. This House is Not for Sale ♥
  2. Knockout
  3. You Give Love a Bad Name ♥
  4. Lost Highway
  5. Who Lot of Leavin’ ♥
  6. Roller Coaster ♥
  7. We Weren’t Born to Follow
  8. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
  9. We Got It Goin’ On ♥
  10. Who Says You Can’t Go Home ♥
  11. It’s My Life ♥
  12. We Don’t Run
  13. God Bless This Mess ♥
  14. Scars on This Guitar ♥
  15. New Year’s Day
  16. Lay Your Hands on Me ♥
  17. Born to Be My Baby
  18. Have a Nice Day ♥
  19. Bad Medicine ♥
  20. Keep the Faith

Encore:
21. Always ♥
22. Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen from Mars
23. Wanted Dead or Alive ♥
24. Livin’ on a Prayer ♥

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April Cosmetics Haul

April was a great month for makeup! My beauty subscriptions were awesome and I bought my first Sephora products! Let’s review:

ipsy

First off, the ipsy glam bag for April was actually adorable. The bag in itself. I’ll be using this clutch as a concert bag at least a few times this summer! My favourite products in this bag were the TONYMOLY Liptone LipCare Stick in Rose Blossom and the Meg Twin Nail Polish in Lovey Dovey. I’ll use both of those at least semi-regularly. The other products, the OFRA Cosmetics Blush, the  Elizabeth Mott Show Me Your Glow Shimmer Shadow & Highlighter and the Hanalei Aloe Soothing Gel are all things I’ve never really experimented with before. So I’ll probably try them out this summer!

Topbox

As you may remember from last month, I actually unsubscribed from Topbox because I wanted to cut down on cosmetics expenses. So this was my last bag before the end of my subscription. And now I really regret cancelling because this has been my favourite beauty bag I’ve received so far from either Topbox, or ipsy. I may re-subscribe once I’ve budgeted my life a bit better.

I’ve never used lip liner, but I tried the LARITZY Cosmetics Lip Pencil, and it may be a more regular tool for me. I’ll also definitely use the La Roche-Posay Micellar Water ULTRA. But my favourite items in this bag were the Cake: The ‘Do Gooder Volumizing Dry Shampoo Spray and the Schwarzkopf Professional OSIS+ Volume Up. Dry shampoo gets me through so many hectic days (more than I care to admit), and my hair often falls flat, so I love volume sprays. I may purchase the Cake dry shampoo on a regular basis now.

Image result for cake volumizing dry shampoo sprayImage result for Schwarzkopf Professional OSIS+ Volume Up

Sephora

I’ve never actually spent more than 5 minutes in a Sephora before this month. But there was one thing I really wanted, and I knew Sephora was going to be the place to have it. And that was a quality bright blue lipstick. After searching the store for the best shades, I decided that Sephora’s Cream Lipstain in Siren Song was the way to go. I’m so excited to wear this shade out to some great shows this summer!

I also picked up Kat Von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Beloved, because a friend of mine posted about it and I love the shade. It’s similar to one I wear to work often, so adding this to my collection was actually super productive.

Image result for sephora siren song

See anything here you’re interested in? Do you subscribe to beauty boxes? What are some of your favourite products you’ve picked up this month?

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