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Siri, Who am I? by Sam Tschida – Book Review and Dream Casting

Book cover

About the Book

Mia might look like a Millenial but she was born yesterday. Emerging from a coma with a head wound and amnesia, she can’t remember her name until the Siri assistant on her iPhone provides it. Based on her cool hairstyle (undercut with glamorous waves), dress (Prada), and signature lipstick (Chanel), Mia senses she’s wealthy – but the only way to know is to retrace her steps. Using Instagram and Uber, she arrives at the pink duplex she calls home in her posts, but Max – an off duty postdoc supplementing his income with a housesitting gig – tells her the house belongs to a French billionaire. Mia can’t argue; there’s no evidence that she’s ever been there before.


As she works backward through her Instagram and across Los Angeles, she discovers a trail of disasters that led to the night of her accident – which might not have been an accident after all. Without ID, family or friends, Mia enlists Max to help her right the wrongs of her recent past. But can she do that if she doesn’t understand the truth behind her own lies?


About the Author


Sam Tschida (pronounced “cheetah”) is from the wilds of Minnesota, where she lives with a motley crew of kids, dogs, and one handsome man. She is cofounder of Manufixed, an editorial consulting company and a writing workshop that serves the Twin Cities. In her spare time she spends 20 minutes a day with her favourite YouTube exercise guru and watches Netflix.

What I Thought


Siri, Who am I? by Sam Tschida is a modern mash up of mystery and romance with a dash of social commentary, and it was a lot of fun. Protagonist Mia wakes from a coma with amnesia and has to piece together her life from her cracked mobile phone. She remembers modern pop culture references but not who she is, not unusual in trauma. She soon discovers that the glossy filtered snaps from her Instagram may not display the truth and by the end she has a choice to make: between making her photos her reality, accepting the truth, or wiping the social media slate clear and starting again. Which will she choose?


It’s interesting reading other reviews and in particular the ones that stand out as not liking Mia therefore not enjoying the book. This idea that female characters have to be likeable to make a story enjoyable grates me and I enjoyed Mia’s personality rehabilitation. Is she perfect at any point during the story? No. Are any of us? Again. No. But does she develop over the course of the story. Yes.

One of the film references the character makes is to the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell classic Overboard (I love this film) and I think that is an excellent comparison. This is #Overboard for Millennials. This has been optioned for film by a major Hollywood studio see my dream casting below.


Dream Casting

If you’ve read the book, what do you think of my casting? Who would be ok your dream cast?

Thank you to Stephen and Quirk for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review and do check out all the posts on #bookstagram using the #siriwhoami

My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma – #Bookstagramtour #darkroomtours

Synopsis

Do You Believe in Destiny?

Bollywood film fanatic Winnie Mehta has grown up convinces her future is written in the stars. Her family’s pandit predicted she would find the love of her life before she turned eighteen and her boyfriend Raj ticks all the boxes. So when the pair break up just months before her eighteenth birthday, Winnie is lost.

Then fellow film geek Dev challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope for her own happily ever after and take the future into her own hands. With a little help from family, friends and a Bollywood movie star, Winnie is about to discover that you can’t live life by the script.

About the Author

Nisha Sharma grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania immersed in Bollywood movies, ‘80s pop culture, and romance novels, so it is no surprise that her first young adult novel, My So-Called Bollywood Life, features all three.

The concept for the novel came to Nisha when she moved to New Jersey after law school, and a few years later, she completed the story as part of her MA thesis. Nisha was fortunate enough to receive feedback on film culture in the book from directors and producers such as Susan Catsonis (Storefront Pictures) and Gironde Chadha (Bend It films).

Nisha credits her father for her multiple graduate degrees, and her mother for her love of Shah Rukh Khan and Jane Austen. She lives in New Jersey with her cat, Lizzie Bennett, and her dog, Nancey Drew.

nisha-sharma.com/@nishawrites

What I Thought

This was a really fun read and one I can totally see being filmed in the vein of She’s All That and similar high school movies.

I am somewhat ashamed to admit I have never seen a whole Bollywood movie! I’ve seen snippets and think I understand the general gist. Melodrama, melodrama and some singing. I’m not sure if the title is a reference to the 90s TV show My So-Called Life (which I loved by the way) but I definitely saw echoes of Angela in Winnie.

Winnie is a Bollywood fan girl and each chapter begins with a short blog review of a film that sort of links in with what is going to happen. Not being familiar with the films some of these didn’t work for me but I found it interesting that at the back of the book there was more of a synopsis for reference (I wonder if they were initially with the chapters but omitted?). There were also references to other non-Bollywood films which weren’t given the same treatment (luckily for me I was more familiar with those). There are also dream sequences with one Shah Rukh Khan (a real actor in case like me you didn’t know). Those who aren’t movie buffs might miss out on a few references in that case. Although I’ve certainly been given an excuse to see add a few more films to my TWL!

I’m just going to pause here to point out that a few reviews I’ve read say that Winnie is unlikeable. I agree a few of the things she does are questionable but it worries me that YA characters (females in particular) seem to have to be totally politically correct in their views to be seen as likeable. Especially when not liking the character is cited as the main reason for not liking a book.

Winnie even refers to her own behaviour as like Reese Witherspoon’s character in Election so I think she shows insight into some of the situations in which she doesn’t behave perfectly. She’s 17 – I’m 40 and I’m still learning. I do remember being a teenage girl and girls can be mean to those people who aren’t their friends – crikey even to their friends. The teasing and poking fun occasionally goes too far.

There also just seems to be an inability to suspend disbelief and just have fun when reading stories, and this story is huge fun. Yes discuss books critically but not to the extent where you snap their spines and leave them unreadable.

I like to fully immerse myself in a story and take it in as a whole before trying to take it apart. It’s why reviews take me so long to write as I don’t often make notes so have to flick back. My views can fluctuate but I usually get an overall view of how much I’ve enjoyed it/learnt from it etc. It’s why I don’t put numbers to my reviews here anymore and will find myself re-rating books on a re-read. Where you are at personally when you read affects how you respond.

Sorry. Diverted by that but I felt it was important to highlight. Back to MSCBL.

This was very clearly a romance and there were definite swoon worthy moments. I did guess at something quite early on but as ever I enjoyed seeing when characters would catch up, and what would happen when they did. And the responses did surprise me.

I liked the focus on family and friendship too. I was really interested by the emphasis put on birth charts and horoscopes in Indian culture – it was useful to see differing views on this from those within the same culture.

I think Winnie realises it isn’t straightforward to follow destiny, or even realise what it is at times. One event had me telling the book characters off in no uncertain terms. They didn’t listen to me, but the very end bought a huge grin to my face. Romantic gestures don’t always work out like they do in the movies. 😂 🍨

Fans of Happy Girl Lucky by Holly Smale and It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne will enjoy this Bollywood take on the movie obsessed teen romance story.

Thanks to Faye and Jess at Darkroom Tours and the publisher Stripes for the copy and paper hearts I was gifted for the purposes of the bookstagram tour and an honest review.

Spellbound – Guide to the Online Book Community 

Just like writing, reading can feel like a very solitary experience. If you are anything like me, when you get to the end of a book, you probably have all sorts of thoughts and feelings that you want to discuss with someone. Short of persuading all of your friends to read the book where do you go? 
Online of course


Today I am Talbot Health School in Bournemouth talking at their Spellbound Literature Convention about the online book community. 


Book Blogging – WordPress, Blogger

Book Vlogging – YouTube

Bookish Images – Instagram using the #bookstagram 

Book Reviews – Goodreads and Litsy

Chats and Groups – Twitter and Facebook and Goodreads 
A few examples of teen bloggers 

I curated a small list of YA bloggers who are teens that you can follow on twitter. https://mobile.twitter.com/kirstyes/lists/uk-teen-book-bloggers

The Mile Long Bookshelf aka Amber Kirk-Ford is a book blogger and vlogger who has written for the Guardian and Penguin Books Blog. 

https://youtu.be/OSpWiBrMj9E
Queen of Contemporary/@LucyTheReader AKA Lucy Powrie is also a book blogger and vlogger who set up the hugely successful twitter chat using the hashtag #ukyachat 

http://queenofcontemporary.com/ukyachat
How to be a good blogger by Jenny in Neverland. This popped up on my twitter timeline this morning and I had to share because it just says what I wanted to say. 

https://t.co/LwDRphtYl4?amp=1
How to review 
Goodreads Reviews

https://www.goodreads.com/review/guidelines
Uses a 5 star rating system

1 star – didn’t like it 

2 stars – it was ok

3 stars – liked it

4 stars – really liked it 

5 stars – it was amazing 
But. Everyone uses it differently and you can create your own rating system on your blog. Or you don’t have to rate at all. I use half stars and I generally round down not up.

Find your own style
Activity – post it note review 

Activity – Instagram pictures 

Activity – Features and Challenges 

Side note about safety

Note most online forums require you to be 13 to use. 

Remember that anything you say online can always be found. 

Be cautious – occasionally people aren’t who they say they are. If you ever arrange to meet with someone who you have met online don’t go alone and tell someone. 
Side note about your TBR and budget

Joining the online book community will exponentially increase the size of your TBR piles and see you wanting to spend more money than you have. Join a library. Budget. Ask for Bookish goodies for gifts. 
If you do prefer to meet up with people in real life make sure to follow your favourite bookshops and check out events they might host. Waterstones will be hosting a whole range of YA author events over the summer. 
Every summer there is now a Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) as part of London Film and Comic Con (LFCC). This year it runs from Friday 28th – Sunday 30th July and there will be around 90 authors in attendance. There are author panels, signings, workshops, stands, cosplay and just generally hanging around with fellow book worms. 
Activity – Q&A e.g. Picking a platform, setting up a blog, interacting with authors and others, ARCs etc. 

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