Cover Image: Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment

Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment

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Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment is cute and sweet while dealing with some tough family and friend dynamics. I enjoyed Arya and her enemies to lovers storyline with Dean. Some of the friend and family issues felt repetitive over time, but still explored important things. Overall, this was a good book.

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Book 3 of 2024 - ☑️! Thank you to NetGalley,  Arushi Avachat, St. Martin’s Press & Wednesday Books for the ARC of Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment in exchange for my honest review!

What an exquisite first novel for Arushi Avachat - this own-voices, YA novel sets a high bar in the genre, as I can confidently say that it’s one of my new favorite young adult rom-coms. It’s marketed as “Save the Date” meets “Never Have I Ever,” and while I can absolutely see the comparison, Avachat beautifully constructs this world and these characters as all her own. Her writing is rich and engaging, and everyone in this world is so three-dimensional. I’ve noticed common traps in which teenage characters can come off as completely insufferable, to the point where it’s distracting to me as a reader or viewer, or there’s the other end of the extreme: they’re so wise beyond their years that they don’t even seem like real teenagers.

Avachat’s characters feel like real, flawed people - despite their faults, you can’t help be root for them. Arya’s family, friends and Dean (which, in the world of YA male main characters, he’ll join my list of great male MCs in YA novels, where Raven from The Raging Quiet has sat for me since the 8th grade) are beautifully diverse in all respects - gender, sexuality/sexual orientation, religion, race. It carefully and honestly deals with familial relationships, and mental health issues. The icing on top of the cake is that this book gave me insight to Desi culture, which I’m mostly familiar with through media depictions, but unfortunately, not deeply familiar on a personal level.

A spice rating is not relevant here. I’m excited to rate this a 5/5 ⭐️ overall. I hope that Avachat ventures into the world of adult rom-coms and rom-drams, because I’ll certainly continue to read her work. This book comes out Tuesday, 1/9/24 - if you’re a fan of YA rom-coms, you won’t want to miss reading this! 🎊 📚 💫 #NetGalley #AryaKhannasBollywoodMoment

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This was a sweet and charming YA debut that had me emotionally invested in the characters from the beginning. I learned something about shaadi planning which I knew nothing about. I felt the romance took a backseat to the wedding planning and family tension which was fine by me, but I wouldn't necessarily call this a rom-com. I would definitely read Avachat's next book and appreciate her engaging writing style.

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Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment was a fun YA read. I laughed so much. And liked the diverse characters in the story. I found it to be very heartwarming. It also is filled with pop culture references which I loved!

I definitely recommend this book if you liked the TV show Never Have I Ever.

Thanks to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for a copy of Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment in exchange of an honest review.

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There is so much to love about Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment. The plot and characters are both well-developed, the dialogue and conflicts are believable, and the American high school experience, with all of its studying, planning, and personal drama, really rings true. If you enjoy Bollywood productions, family drama, and YA rivals-to-lovers romance, then this book is definitely worth your time.

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This was SO CUTE.
Arya is such a fun character. She's snarky and a little bit of an asshole but still so loving and kind. I really liked her character arc over the book, and I'm really happy with where she ended up.
I loved the romance in this book so much. They were so well-matched and Dean was so so sweet and I just loved them. It had me squealing for the last like 50%. The Pride and Prejudice parallels were PERFECT.
I will admit, at the beginning I was kind of bored, mostly because I think books that take place mostly in high school are just a little too young for me now. But when the romance got really introduced I was completely invested.
The family dynamics in this are really complex and interesting, and I especially appreciate that they weren't easily solved. The issues were messy and deep-rooted and they needed to be treated as such. Also, Arya is so clearly parentified, and I was waiting the entire book for someone to tell her that none of it was her responsibility and I am SO GLAD someone did.
The side characters were so good too. Andy and Emilia have my whole heart, especially Emilia. She was like a black cat in human form and Andy was like a golden retriever. Mindy was a much needed caring adult, and she provided a lot of stability. Alina is messy and cool and real. Nikhil!! I loved Nikhil so much, he was so soft and gentle and kind.
I loved the culture in this story, as we learn about all the different Shaadi traditions and all the different events in an Indian wedding. It was really such a fun time, and everything was described so beautifully.
I was only really annoyed with one or two things at the end, particularly Lisa, but overall this book was so lovely.

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Love desi rep especially in YA but this one just did not hit. The tropes were fine but put together I felt very little interest and motivation to keep reading. An overall short read but definitely one wasted, sadly. And they felt very reminiscent of Ben and Devi (NHIE) but just fell flat.

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i've seen a couple bollywood movies (courtesy to my college roommate), so i went into arya with expectations of dance numbers, drama surrounding the main leads, and a sweet romance - and arya did not disappoint! i loved learning about so many aspects of desi culture: from the food, to the clothes, to the intense amounts of preparations needed for the beautiful weddings. this book was truly an immersive experience.

though this book is marketed as a romcom, i would say it's equally parts family drama, friend drama, and boy drama. arya faces multiple conflicts throughout this book, and i'm a sucker for a coming-of-age love story that delves heavily into family issues. the family themes hit really close to home for me, and i felt for arya so much. in a way, i looked forward to the chapters with dean because it felt like an escape from the chapters with family that reminded me too much of my own issues with my family.

let's talk romance! i would categorize dean x arya as (soft) academic rivals to lovers and he fell first, both lovely tropes that i eat up every time. they spend the majority of the book bickering, and i think the transition into lovers was a bit rushed? but i enjoyed their romance nonetheless. the indoor picnic date was so so sweet and romantic.

some issues i had with the book were mainly with some of the characters. i simply did not like lisa, the horrible aunties, and honestly, alina! lisa was being really unfair to andy and arya, the aunties are pretentious and prideful and say terrible things to the khanna's, and alina seemed really immature despite being 23.

if you're a fan of ann liang's books, i would highly recommend arya!

overall, this was a cute, quick read that felt very realistic in its writing of high school lives and dealing with the growing pains of graduating, family issues, losing friends, and first romances.

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This was a super fun read. Arya is a driven teen in her last year of high school. Between preparing for college and helping plan her sister Alina's upcoming wedding, she's got her plate full. On top of that, her best friends, who up until recently were dating, have broken up creating a rift in their usual friend group. In steps, Arya's school frenemy Dean who isn't quite as mean as he seems and definitely likes Arya a lot more than she realizes.

So the characters - somewhat a big cast of characters in this one which is kind of to the deteriment of some of the character development. It felt like Arya's mom, her sister Alina and her should be more fully developed as a group, and the relationship is there for Arya and Alina, but not so much with their mother. Granted, their relationship is strained because of her mother's depression. It just felt like there was more to explore there. The break up between the two best friends happens before the book starts and we don't know anything about these two characters' relationship, but other than creating some conflict between Arya and her friend Lisa, serves no real narrative purpose. It just gives the adults in her life reasons to give her advice or a reason for her to lash out at others which feels unnecessary. Investing more in the family relationship would have been enough to give the plot conflict, and make the whole story a bit more put together.

Overall, I enjoyed Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment

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i’m submitting the reviews for books by you that I already have, but I will never request another one. In October one of your employees made a horribly racist statement and you have chosen to do nothing about it. People have continuously asked you to say that you don’t stand with what the employee said, and you refuse to. This is not someone who I want to promote ever because you are sending the wrong message. These reviews will not be posted on social media because you don’t deserve the promotion. By not speaking out you are also not preventing your followers from stalking and harassing people who are participating in the boycott. Your silence speaks volumes. I hope that all of your authors move to other publishers because you are standing with a genocide. Watch this video for more information https://www.tiktok.com/@vivafalastinleen/video/7288407369313307947?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc&web_id=7211704101519296042

This book was cute but it was more coming of age than romance. Arya felt like a real character who made teenage mistakes. I enjoyed it enough.

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My takeaway- I don’t know enough about Bollywood and need to immerse myself in the movies ASAP. Such a fun book, and I’m sure I’d love it more if I did know more about Bollywood.

This is a great YA novel. It has the enemies to loves trope, which plays out nicely. We get to watch a sister relationship start strained and eventually work itself out, and as an added bonus- the mom is difficult too. We ultimately see Arya learn and grow through her struggles and selfishness.

Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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A YA romance with family drama, high school drama, and wedding planning stress. The romance is enemies to lovers, but I struggled to feel any chemistry between the main characters. There was a LOT happening beyond the romance - family tension, family member with mental health struggles, friendship rifts which ultimately made the story feel slow to me.

I hope this book works better for others!
DNF @ 37%

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Young adult books are so sweet and nostaglic. But they also remind you how raw and real their feelings are and how they shape so much of their future. Truly enjoyed reading about Arya's life with family, friends, and those first romantic feelings. I also loved experiencing, as it was written so well you did feel part of the story, her culture. Great, clean read for tweens and up!

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I am a huge fan of academic rivals to lovers and a huge fan of self-aware rom-coms, so as soon as I started reading this book I knew that the concept was perfect for me. And as I read it, I found myself falling in love with the story and the characters. The story was so charming, and I found myself literally giggling and kicking my feet and staying up late into the night just to finish this book in one sitting.

There were a few times where I found myself rolling my eyes at some of Arya's actions, but then I had to step back and remind myself that she is a teenager and that is often how teenagers act. And on that note, I found the characters, dialogue and scenarios in this book to be incredibly realistic. Sometimes when I read YA books, it's really obvious that the author has not spoken to a teenager since about the 80s, but that was not the case in this book. I saw a lot of myself as a teenager in Arya, and loved rooting for her and seeing her and her relationships develop.

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Recommended: yep!
for a family learning how to forgive and love each other again, for a big ol' Bollywood book, for an MC who has a lot to learn (but does!)

Thoughts:
Overall this was a romance that had a lot more besides it, which in this case I really appreciated. Arya is forced to work with her academic rival of sorts, and she's real bitter and petty about it. She's genuinely an ass and pretty much just because she's... jealous? insecure? I'm not sure, but there were definitely times I didn't like her much because it was like I was actually reading from the villain's perspective. She was the villain. That saying about people being mean to someone actually means they're romantically interested in them was kind of the vibe she embodied. She is just a relentless, unnecessary jerk to Dean.

Dean sticks around, though. I loved the way he identified and handled situations where Arya was clearly picking a fight and displacing her feelings onto him because he was convenient or nearby. Honestly he dealt with those very maturely most of the time, unlike Arya, so it was easy to root for him as a love interest because he's sweet and mature and knows when to walk away and let her cool off. I actually adored it.

Arya's complex relationships with her family were a great draw as well. She loves her sister, but harbors so much hurt and resentment over being left in the wake of the destruction her sister's absence cause. She wants to love her mother, but her mother's constant depression makes it feel difficult and overwhelming for her. Her father is her rock, but she recognizes that he might not actually be the greatest husband, even if he's a great dad. The interactions between these three tangled lines felt really genuine, and even her sister's fiance got some impactful screen (page?) time.

As I write this, I'm realizing more and more that Arya is just a mess of a girl with relationships because she also does a piss poor job with her friend Lisa. She makes a choice towards the start that should be so obviously something that would become a problem for Lisa, and then is so surprised when it's a huge damn problem for Lisa. This was a bit frustrating to watch, and both of them could have done better, but in the end I think they got to a decent place individually and would be better friends to others in the future because of it.

There are a ton of Bollywood movie and actor and cliche references in this which I didn't usually know, but I'm sure would be recognizable to someone more involved in it. Even without knowing, I got the broad strokes of their significance and was able to enjoy the story without feeling like I was missing out on something (or like I was being bashed over the head with it, either). Overall although it didn't necessarily blow me away or break new ground, this is a well told story with some great character relationship development -- and not only romantically!

Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for a free advanced copy. This is my honest review.

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The book I read before this one (which I haven’t even put a review up for yet) actually made me want to stop reading for a while. I had been reading things that were making me feel so blah that I just couldn’t do it anymore…and I took a long break. It took me almost a month to pick up a book again. And thank goodness it was this one, because I’m fired up and ready to read again in 2024!

What didn’t work for me

The Lisa/Andy/Arya triangle: Though the title of the book really seems like it will focus on the wedding, there are *a lot* of other things going on, and while a lot of them really enriched the story, I feel like I could have done without this friendship drama. Andy disappeared for days at a time for college stuff and Lisa didn’t really factor into the story, ultimately, so I feel like this was just added to make things unnecessarily tense…and it wasn’t needed.

The mother: I don’t want to go into spoiler territory, but we don’t really get answers about what’s going on with Arya and Alina’s mom…not really. Did it affect the way I read the book? No, not really, but I would have liked some resolution here.

What I liked

Enemies to lovers: My favourite trope. I will never not love it. That being said, I liked that the enemies part didn’t last too long and that there was nothing pulling these two dramatically apart in the middle of the book (spoiler alert?). We just saw them progress, and it was nice. I love them together.

The Bollywood of it all: I have never watched a Bollywood movie and I’m not familiar with the wedding spectacle of the culture (beyond what I’ve seen on TV), but I love that Arachat didn’t dumb it down for those of us who did know. She used the real words, presented what was going on as fact and just moved on. I liked that it was my responsibility to look things up if I needed to. Plus, the whole thing seemed like fun. It was really giving me wedding vibes from Never Have I Never, which I loved. And the intermission in the book was cute!

The bookstore: As a reader, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I love a good bookstore, but I also enjoyed the relationship that Mellie and Arya had and the scenes that took place there really warmed my heart.

4 STARS

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books for an advanced book copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment is a novel about navigating high school, relationships, family and love. It also gives off the feel of some of the old school romcoms of the past with the rivals to lovers trope.

The romance between Arya and Dean was a slow burn, but that felt right for this story, and for them, especially given their history. It felt right for their age and how it happened over the buddy read of Pride and Prejudice. It was refreshing to see how they paid attention to one another's likes and dislikes and even if there were disagreements or if they were dealing with emotions of things happening at home, they gave one another the space to process those emotions appropriately. I applaud Avachat for doing a great job at encapsulating what high school is like and how kids navigate it. I also enjoyed the Bollywood-style marriage, as I didn't know much about this.

This was a wonderful read and I think those that enjoy YA novels will highly enjoy this!

**I voluntarily read an early copy of this title courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

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What I enjoyed:
-Seeing Arya’s relationships with her sister, mom, best friends, and love interest develop was really nice. They each took very different directions but still felt fleshed out without overwhelming the storyline.

-The enemies-to-lovers romance was admittedly adorable.

-We saw a lot of character growth from Arya. She learned how to own up to her mistakes while also being able to admit and apologize for her wrongdoings. She also made a point to stand up for herself when she was being treated unfairly, which I love to see in YA.

What could’ve been improved:
-The pacing of the story felt off to me at times. Seemingly important events would be covered in a couple of pages, while seemingly minor events could take entire chapters.

Overall:
This was a quick and cute debut, and I would definitely be interested in future novels from this author. While this novel wasn’t perfect, I think the author’s future works will only improve.

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DNF. I really liked the premise but the writing did not work for me at all. It wouldn't be fair to the book if I finished reading and gave it a low rating.

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This was such a fun, swoony, banter-filled romcom—I loved the nods to Bollywood, and the Never Have I Ever comp is spot-on!

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