As I have mentioned in a previous post, I love audiobooks. They are so handy to play when driving to work, cleaning, getting ready in the morning, cooking, etc.
And of course when I see a Jane Austen audiobook, I have to give it a listen.
I was scrolling through MeetLibby when I spotted the audiobook Recipe for Persuasion. I reviewed the actual book a while back and had mixed feelings about it as I liked some aspects of the novel, while I felt other parts of the novel were a bit under developed or rushed. It wasn’t a horrible adaption, far from it, but unlike the first book in the series, to me this one felt like something was missing. However, those feelings didn’t deter me from giving this a listen.
With audiobooks, one of the most important things to me is to have is a good narrator. Even if it is a book I love and have read over and over again; the narrator will determine whether I will listen to the full audiobook or if I will stop after a few chapters.
In this Soneela Nankani was a great narrator, as she was very clear and gave distinct voices for all the different characters; an impressive feat as she had many accented characters to voice .
My only real complaint is that to me, Nankani was actually a little too clear as when she is speaking her American accent she hits every syllable of each word. For some it might not bother them, but once I heard it-I couldn’t unhear it and started counting the syllables of each word.
As mentioned before, Nankani chose to do the character’s accents; for instance Ashna and Trisha have an American accent, Shobi an Indian one, DJ British, etc. The one accent I didn’t agree with was Rico’s as she gave him a British accent instead of a Brazilian one. Now I understand that making a Brazilian-British accent (as he is described having in the book) is more difficult than a British accent, so if this was a choice made because it would be easier on the author, I think she should have at least given him a Brazilian accent when he spoke Portuguese. Even if Rico adopted a British accent after living in England, he definitely would have slipped into a sort of Brasileño accent when talking about home or speaking in Portuguese.
Most of the time when listening to an audiobook something new is brought to your attention or hearing the words instead of seeing them causes you to rethink a scene. I didn’t really have anything new come to my attention other than I had forgotten that Rico’s least favorite food is macaroni and cheese. I mean it’s not the strangest choice, there are people who don’t like it; but after listening to the audiobook all I could think was, out of all the food to dislike, it’s going to be noodles with cheese on top? No fideo con queso? Whoops, Rico is Brazilian, I mean macarronada com queijo? The first time I read this part I passed right over it, but this time listening to it-all I could do was think about was how much I wanted homemade Mac and cheese, or sopa de conchas con queso, with very little broth
If you enjoyed the book, and my two points about the accents and syllables aren’t something to really bother you, be sure to check this audiobook out.
Recipe for Persuasion (The Rajes #2) by Sonali Dev
Last year I reviewed the first in the series, Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavorsand I really enjoyed that book! I liked the way Dev took Pride and Prejudice and made it her own, I enjoyed the characters and the themes, but most of all I loved the multiracial characters of DJ and Emma. Growing up biracial there was never a lot of material to read or watch that touched on those issues and I am always happy to read one.
So when Dev said that she was planning on writing another book, this one being a retelling of Persuasion, I was jazzed. I could not wait to read it!
Then I finally got my hands on a copy, I read it all in one setting and I didn’t really like it as much as I thought I would. So I decided to let my thoughts steep for a while and think about what it was that made me not love the sequel when I had really loved the first book in the series.
This book is about Trisha’s cousin Ashna Raje. Ashna is an Indian princess; her father (a prince) married a cricket star, but was constantly getting into trouble and causing scandal, so he was sent away from India to to America to be with his older brother (who would hopefully help whip him into shape). There he built a home and a restaurant, cooking Indian and fancy cuisine.
Ashna lived with her father in California, spending most of her time living with her Raje cousins, as her mother was always gone as she traveled around the world trying to better women’s lives. Ashna’s father died when Ashna was graduating high school and after his death she decided to carry on his legacy and traveled to Paris to attend Cordeon Bleu (meeting and befriending DJ, from the previous story). When she returned home eager to put her education to work and carry on her father’s dreams, she discovered that the people she left in charge of the business had embezzled a large portion of the profits and fled, the resturant is dwindling in customers, and that nearly every time she tries to make something new or deviate from the original menu she has panic attacks.
DJ tries to help her revamp the menu, but she struggles trying to do anything. Her customers continue to dwindle and her sous chef leaves her for a better position.
Ashna feels alone and lost when her mother, who left her as a child, calls and makes her feel worse about her life and her choices (as always); along with trying to convince her to sell the resturant and do something else. Ashna becomes angry that her mother is again belittling her life choices and decides to do the one thing she never thought she would ever do, agree to be on her friend, China Dashwood’s, cooking show competition.
China Dashwood is producing a new show, Cooking With the Stars, that pairs a local chef up with a celebrity. Ashna was set against it, but being on the show will be good for business and help stick it to her mom, who Ashna has a lot of unresolved issues with.
Meanwhile, in England, World Cup Winner Rico Silva is trying to decide what to do next with his life. Rico was born in a favela in Brasil, the illegitimate son of a famous fútball star. When his mother passed away, he was sent to America to stay with his Tia. There he started playing soccer; along with meeting and falling in love with Ashna.
But Ashna was always ashamed of him and never wanted him to meet her father or family, always keeping him hidden from them and a secret, just like his dad treated his mom. One day, Rico went to see her father and he said horrible things to him and about his family. Ashna never spoke to Rico after that, completely ignoring all his texts and calls.
Now Rico is a famous fútball player who’s knee injury has forced him to retire. Feeling bad for himself at a friend’s bachelor party, he starts thinking of his string of failed relationships, as he has never been able to move past Ashna. He decides to google her and discovers she is going to be on a cooking show. Not making the most logical decisions, he decides to go on it too, be her partner, and get his revenge? Find closure? Maybe a mix of both?
Ashna is extremely nervous to be on the show, but when she sees that her partner is Rico, the man who broke her heart-she is so surprised she drops her knife, nearly slicing off her toes. Luckily Rico dives and saves her.
Ashna is uncertain how she will make it through this competition while being so close to Rico, this whole situation is so painful and brings back both good and bad memories. Meanwhile, Rico starts regretting being alongside someone who still has so much emotional power over him.
But even if both wanted to back out, it is impossible now as they are leading the charts with their chemistry. Ratings are a dream as everyone is tuned in to see what will happen next in the cooking romance. But can the two work as a team? Or is the heat between then too much for this kitchen?
So the story wasn’t bad but I wasn’t really as invested in these characters as I was with the ones from the previous book. It’s weird as I was really looking forward to having more Ashna, as I liked her in the previous book, but I felt like something was off in this. I think it is because the circumstances didn’t pull on my heart as much in this book as theydid in the original Persuasion and in the previous book. In Persuasion, first we have the fear of loss of security as their family is running out of money and Anne’s father Sir Walter and sister Elizabeth are making no effort to change that. Anne gets a glimpse of her unhappy future as she stays with her horrible sister Mary and brother-in-law. In Recipe for Persuasion, there is the fear of losing her father’s resturant, but I had a harder time finding connection to that as she still has the property and the house-(both of which are prime Bay Area real estate), that she could sell. And if she did lose her place as she had too much debt that would be paid after the sale, she could always stay at the Raje family compound. Her family is amazing (unlike Anne’s) and she used to live with them, so it isn’t as scary an end. I mean it is still sad to have failed and to have lost your dream, but she wouldn’t be lost or alone as all would be willing to help her as she regrouped and figured out what was next.
Also in Persuasion, when Wentworth comes back successful and has both the Musgrove sisters fawning over him, he enjoys the attention, especially as it is in front of the woman who rejected him-while Anne definitely feels insecure and sad that she let him go. When Captain Wentworth realizes he still loves her, he is unable to do anything about it as he has found himself chained with all’s expectation that he was going to propose to Louise and the fact that he cannot abandon her in a injured state. He has to wait and see what happens giving him plenty of time to reflect on his actions and choices. an injured woman. In Recipe for Persuasion, there is no similar block to Ashna and Rico’s happiness, in fact Rico gets over his hurt fairly quickly and is trying to get with Ashna pretty early on in the book. The author does try to mislead us and Ashna with KDrama star Song and Rico growing close, but she isn’t a serious contender. She is never more than just friendly to him.
The other 1/3-1/2 of the book focused on Ashna’s mother’s story, Shobi, who’s storyline is very sad. The first part of Shobi’s story describes how she was in love with another man but her father wouldn’t let her marry a poor Muslim, and instead agreed to a marriage with the prince, Ashna’s father. The prince, Bram, is a horrible abusive man who rapes her on her wedding night. Having been in an abusive relationship, I felt they dealt with her story well. What bothered me was the way she justifies leaving her child to help children all over the world and the anger she has at her ex-husband blaming him for her and her daughter’s decaying relationship. Now I will never condemn someone for leaving their abusive partner, but the way she belittles not being there for her daughter because she had a “greater good” to serve really bothered me. Her husband did not paint Shobi in the best light to her daughter, but I felt that she also needed to take responsibility for the choices she made, especially after her husband died. Even without Bram she still hardly spent any time with Ashna, doesn’t listen to what Ashna wants, just drops in without warning Ashna that she is coming (believing that will fix everything), threatens to sell the resturant if Ashna doesn’t listen to her, etc. I think if the author would have included a scene when she acknowledges her failings as a parent to Ashna and how she should have put Ashna first many times in her life (like she could still help other children but remember her daughter’s birthday), instead of telling Ashna again and again these impoverished women are more important than her own daughter, I would have liked Shobi more.
I also didn’t like how easily Ashna and her mother Shobi resolve their issues. Ashna realizes that her being with Rico wasn’t what made her father commit suicide, but that her mother served him with divorce papers. That brought a bunch of memories of how horrible her father treated her mother and she instantly forgives Shobi and is happy to hear her mother is in a happy relationship with another man (who Shobi has been dating for practically all her married life). I understand what the author is doing and wanting to wrap up that thread, but I used to work with grieving adults and kids and it is never, ever that easy. This exact scenario happened with a preteen I was working with. The mom stayed with her abusive husband because of the kids, but was finally planning on leaving him. He found out and killed himself, the daughter being the one who found the body. The daughter hated her mom as she blamed her for the death, and idolized her father (just like Ashna) and after a lot of therapy and the art class they were in a better place; but she was still very angry with her mom, and it was a continual process. There were also adults who went to the grief class and had a similar scenario happen in their life and had never dealt with those issues. After the art therapy class they were in a better place with their parent-but still had hurt and blame over their mother “causing the death” of their father or ”replacing their father” with a new man. I found it extemely unrealistic that Ashna who has never been in any therapy regarding her mother was able to get over the abandonment of her mother; moved past feeling second best to her mother’s charity work, and accepted that this whole time her mother had a secret life/relationship with another man in an instant. What? I would have liked it better if the book ended with her mother and her starting to talk and then showing years later they are in a good place instead of it all fixed in one night.
There are also some interesting writing choices in this book as well. We have a chapter where we are in we are in Ashna’s POV and then it suddenly switches to her mom. It was a bit disorientating.
I also had a really hard time with all the Portuguese in this book. Being half Mexican I grew up with Spanish and Portuguese is not Spanish. This is nothing against the author or the language, I just struggled with it and cautioning other Spanish speakers/readers you too might have a bit of a struggle as well.
So that’s all that I did not care for, now what did I like? First of all I loved that again we have an interracial relationship with Ashna (Indian) and Rico (Brazilian). Growing up biracial there wasn’t a lot of media that had interracial or multiracial couples/characters. Anytime there is anything that has even a tiny shard of it, I am excited to see. I loved that scene when they blend Rico’s favorite dish from Brasil with pieces of an Indian recipe that Ashna’s grandma used to make. That scene was just wonderful as it made me think of my own life of blending traditions from both sides of my culture.
Like Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors, this book was also a love letter to food. I like how it highlights the comfort, love, and traditions of it. I also love how we have the two bond over cooking together. Rico, having only been a part to get back at Ashna, actually finds himself enjoying creating these different dishes with Ashna; and Ashna finds herself having a renewed interest in it, and finding herself once again being creative and not stuck in the past. In a sense, them cooking together really is what begins to help heal what transpired between them. And of course there is the constant Chais that Ashna creates and blends for her cousins. It made me want some real chai so bad.
And of course Rico writes Ashna a letter to convince her that he’s serious in his feelings for her. You know me, I’m a sucker for a character writing a love letter. It gets me every time.
I also liked how the author shared about the struggles women face in other places of the world along with Shobi’s struggle with abuse and marital rape. I think both of these issues are important and I’m glad that Sonali Dev didn’t shy away from it all.
So I didn’t hate it and I don’t think it was a bad story-there was just something missing for me…a missing ingredient that I felt the previous book had and this one lacked.
She just published a third book, Incense and Sensibility, and I have read and will be posting on it soon (I hope).
Because of the content of those book I want to end this post with this: Are you in an abusive relationship? Do you need help or assistance? If you are in need of help please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides essential tools and support to help survivors of domestic violence so they can live their lives free of abuse. You can reach them at 1.800.799.7233
40 years ago a film came out in May that changed the culture and the history of movie making. It had amazing characters and figures, and as I honored Star Trek last year, I decided this year will be all about that film. And what film?
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Yes I am a humongous fan and I could not let the year go by without talking about it.
As we have also lost Carrie Fisher last year, I also want to honor her in this post. Her performance as Princess Leia impacted me in so many ways as I just wanted to be her.
So this is a time to reflect on what the past year held for us, the big posts, what’s new, and what you all seemed to like the most.
This post will only cover a few things, you really should check out the year for yourself. To start at the beginning go here.
So this community has really grown in numbers and I can not describe how pleased I am about that. We have gone from 14 followers in 2012 to 42 followers in 2013, 169 followers in 2014, to 439 in 2015, and now 616
So enough about the statistics and numbers! Let’s move on to what was covered this year and what changes I have made to the blog
1) Star Trek
So as Star Trek turned fifty last year I tried to have it influence the posts. I didn’t do as much as I did the year before with Back to the Future, but I tried.
So these fangirl posts just keep coming. I’m trying to finish them, but we still have a few more things I’m obsessed with to finish.
Last year I reviewed the ABBA, Alias, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Gossip Girl, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Ned and Stacey, One Tree Hill, The Patridge Family, Queen, Ringer, The Rocky Series, Sarah Dessen, Saved by the Bell, Scooby-Doo, 7th Heaven, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes, Sleeping Beauty, Spider-man, Star Wars, Star Trek, Step by Step, Sweet Valley High, Supernatural, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Thorn Birds, Touched by an Angel, Twin Peaks, Xena: Warrior Princess
I also celebrated the Chinese New Year’s Year of the Monkey by listing off nine of my favorite primates or primate moments from The Jungle Book, to Aladdin, to Jumanji, The Wizard of Oz, and more. To read, go to A Little Monkey Business: Chinese New Year.
I mean he is a hypochondriac who never eats anything rich as it is bad for the digustion. So not me.
He won’t go out and pick strawberries, he is always nagging and worrying, freaks out over the littlest storm, just not me.
But then I reread the book…
And something jumped out at me:
“Mr. Woodhouse was fond of society in his own way. He liked very much to have his friends come to see him…his horror of late hours, and large dinner-parties, made him unfit for any acquaintance but such as would visit him on his own terms.”
Mr. Woodhouse is an introvert, just like me. And some of the stuff he does, I do too.
First of all I don’t really care for big parties.
I always feel awkward and unsure of what to do. Either I end up at the food table:
Or with children…
They just seem easier to relate to I guess.
I’m still a kid on the inside.
I mean if I don’t have a close friend there or if they have left or are too busy talking to someone else I feel awkward and uncomfortable.
Usually I stay as long as I feel is polite and then get out of there.
Getting out of here
If it is a small group or people I know well, I feel much more secure.
Like Mr. Woodhouse I like my group of friends that I know well, not a large group. Plans must be made ahead of time as well. I hate when someone just pops over. Usually I am a mess or I am in the middle of something and find it hard to leave.
Yes, the life of an introvert:
It’s not that I don’t like people, it is just that sometimes I need my time and space.
And other days I want to hang, but I just need time to prepare myself for a party.
And I love food and this holiday, so I am all about chowing down.
But Not This Year
I just had my wisdom teeth out.
So I will not be able to partake in eating tons of food.
And to make matters worse, I am also on my period. So I’m enjoying pain in my mouth and my lower half.
No joke this enters m mind every month
But while it is easy to get hung up on the negatives in life and be unhappy, that is not what Thanksgiving is about. In a world where it seems as if things are getting worse and worse it is easy to get hung up on the negatives, to just hate on everything, be unhappy. And Abraham Lincoln knew this. As he was facing a time of unrest and uncertainty, just as we are, he decided we needed a day set apart to focus on the positives on the good things we have in life.
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come..No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens…”
So I decided I was going to do the same. I am going to accentuate the positives, eliminate the negatives, and latch on to the affirmative.
So here we go, what I am thankful for.
1) My Family + Friends
They are always there for me and support me through everything
2) A Roof Over My Head + Food
I am happy to have a home, and food to eat. There are these all people should have, and not all do. I am thankful to be one of those who do.
3) My Country
I know it is not perfect and there have been problems past and present, but I love living in America where I am given rights that all should have.
Many criticize the pilgrims who came to America to begin with, but these people weren’t coming to destroy a nation, they came so that they could have a little bit of land in which they could worship as they please and live in harmony. They tried to work with the Native Americans, not harm them. The negative things came with later colonies who didn’t share the same ideas, mostly because of the people that were ruling Europe and the politics they were playing.
Anyways, one thing that my country does right is give us a freedom of speech. Something some people are trying to restrain all the time, but is currently still something we have. And it allows me to have this blog in which I can discuss whatever I want.
So know I may not be able to eat everything, but I am going to enjoy and eat the few things I can. Hello mashed potatoes and pie.
And I’m going to focus on all that I am grateful to have.