The Matchmaker’s List Blog Tour!

dityjorvqaa1mmcSonya Lalli’s debut novel, The Matchmaker’s List, follows Raina as she struggles with the pressures of her family and her culture in regards to getting married. Her best friend is set to be married on Raina’s 30th birthday and with her ex-boyfriend still looming in her mind, Raina is having a hard time handling the stress of her crazy busy investment job on top of all the blind dates her grandmother is setting her up with. I was lucky enough to have a chance to ask Sonya a few questions regarding her amazing book!


Lucien: Congratulations on the North American release of The Matchmaker’s List! Have there been many new experiences between the UK release of The Arrangement back in 2017 and now releasing over here?

 Sonya: Thank you so much! Both experiences have been incredible and I’m so thankful to the wonderful people who have made it happen, and the writing and book bloggers community who have been so supportive. The big difference has been that my book is now being released in my home country. Walking into a bookstore and seeing my book on the shelf for the first time was priceless — it was at the WH Smith in Liverpool Street Station, by the way! — but it’s going to be absolutely overwhelming when I go home to Saskatoon and see it on shelves there.

You have such a strong writing voice. Was pursuing writing always a goal of yours?

 That’s really nice of you to say. And I think so, even though it wavered in terms of priority. During law school for example, I don’t think I wrote at all. I actually don’t think I even read anything that wasn’t a textbook.

What drew you to writing romance?

I don’t think I intended to write in a certain genre. Before, I didn’t even think about genre when I wrote. But in retrospect the fact that I ended up here makes perfect sense. I am a complete sucker for romance.

What’s harder, law school or writing a novel?

Writing a novel. One hundred percent. Yes, law school was hard but everything was concrete. You had the text books, the classes, the exams — you knew what you needed to study and when the tests would be scheduled for and what the passing mark was. Writing a novel… everything is up in the air. There is no set path or right or wrong. You just have to go for it, stick at it, and hope for the best.

From Canada to the States to England and back again, which was your favourite city to live in?

Hmmm. I absolutely loved London, but part of the reason I loved it so much was that I knew being there was temporary. So I think my answer is Toronto. It’s diverse and buzzing and vibrant, and it also is where I see myself spending the rest of my life. Saskatoon will always be home to me, but now Toronto is too.

In the novel I loved the comparison of “modern arranged marriage” to online dating and dating apps. When did that idea come to you in terms of explaining how things work?

While I was writing the book. Some of my friends use dating apps where you can be matched with people who are similar to you, and I thought: well, that’s just like if one of their auntie’s set them up with a guy they thought was similar.

You tackle the social issue of coming out to an unwelcoming community. What drew you to that plot line? Have you ever witnessed something so polarizing in your own social/family circle?

A good thing about my culture is the importance of family, but that also means that our choices in that respect — relationships, marriage, children — can be heavily scrutinized. It can be difficult for the older generations especially to come to terms with choices that don’t meet their family values. As the book shows, these values are changing and modernizing, but the process is slow and every family and community is different.

There have been instances in my community where somebody does something ‘different’ for the first time — and it draws attention, sometimes negative attention– but then eventually it stops being a big deal. Often, no one bats an eyelid the next time that same thing happens.

You also get into the sexism issues of more tradition Indian culture. Do you think that sexism is an issue that is getting better or worse?

I think it depends on the family and community. In my experience, yes, it has gotten a lot better. (A tiny example: thirty-five years ago when my mom didn’t give up her maiden name, people talked; when I didn’t change my name after my wedding, nobody cared.) But I can’t speak for everyone. I know that in general we still have a long way to go.

I loved Raina’s friendship with Shay, even when they were fighting. You’ve said that Nani was inspired by your own grandmother. Was Shay drawn from any real-life friendships?

Shay is a composite of a few of the strong, funny, amazing women in my life: my cousin, who is like a sister to me, and a few of my closest friends.

At its core, The Matchmaker’s List seems to be about finding your place in the world. Whether that’s fitting in with expectations or demolishing them entirely. What kind of advice would you give someone struggling with finding themselves?

Thank you. Even though this is a romance, you’re right, it’s also about Raina’s journey to becoming who she is, and respecting herself enough to be in the ‘right’ romance. I can’t remember who said this — it’s probably been said in a number of iterations — but we first need to love and know our true selves before we can allow another person to love us. That’s easier said than done. So I guess I would say don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t try and stick to some timeline.  Believe in yourself and your choices, and you’ll come out the other end stronger.

I’ve got to ask, what’s next for you?

I have another book coming out with Berkley in 2020. It’s not a sequel, but another standalone rom com. I hope there will be more after that. I will continue to work in publishing by day, and write by night!

Thank you, Sonya, for taking the time for the interview. I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to your future work and wish you all the best!


And now it’s time for the review!

What I loved about this book was that it wasn’t what I was expecting. I went in looking for a girl going on dates as she’s told to do and finding the perfect guy. Very Hallmark. Cute and simple.

What I got was a story about not just finding love with someone else, but with yourself and your community. It’s about breaking down expectations within Raina and her community as she struggles with her life, as Shay fights against a traditional marriage rituals, as others within their community struggle against homophobic views.

Raina’s character really grows across the year the novel takes place and it was a touching story. Inner strength is powerful, and a lot of us are far stronger than we believe. That’s the reminder The Matchmaker’s List brings to us. Definitely worth picking up under either of it’s publication titles!


I would like to thank Penguin Random House Canada, Berkley Publishing, and Sonya Lalli, herself, for providing me with a copy of this book and for talking the time to allow this blog tour post to happen. 

REVIEW: Strange Days

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada and G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers for providing me with a finished copy of the book to review.


I live by a strong motto when it comes to the books that I read and that is “Life’s too short for books you don’t like”. However, considering I received this debut novel in exchange for a review, I felt the need to push through and really give it a change to redeem itself.

Strange Days is a debut novel by Constantine Singer that follows Alex Mata as he fights to save the world from an alien invasion after being blamed for the murder of his parents (who were killed by said aliens).

When I first heard of this book it made me think Ready Player Go with a little bit of District 9 and a touch of Enders Game. I was expecting action packed scenes of a group of teens time traveling and saving people. Sadly, what I got was…nothing.

While the narrative voice is strong, I had a hard time relating to Alex or even any of the other characters. While the cast is wonderfully diverse, I had a problem with the way the one gay character was portrayed. To get into specifics, Paul is tubby, speaks in a feminine stereotype, and the subplot of his life comes across as more homophobic as Alex is 100% uncomfortable with it and then doesn’t understand why Paul gets upset.

The biggest issue for me, though, is that it doesn’t really go anywhere. Alex witnesses the same person’s future (rather than actual time travel) and we don’t really learn any new information from it. By the time I finished the book I was just waiting for it to get to the point which is unfortunate.

At the end, it really just feels like a book for 15-year-old boys who don’t read. And that’s not always a bad thing. Everyone should have a book for them and let’s be real this is a quick read despite being 400 pages long. I’m just not someone I think this book was directed towards. I do hope Constantine Singer keeps writing because, as I said, his narrative voice is strong. His plotting just needs to be a bit stronger.

REVIEW: The Perfect Girlfriend

Thank you to the publishers for providing Indigo Books & Music Inc. with an ARC for review as part of the selection process for the January Staff Pick of the Month.

This review does not reflect the views and opinions of Indigo Books & Music Inc. and are my own independent thoughts of the work being reviews.


I love a good domestic thriller, and am always open to supporting a debut author, so I was more than happy to pick up the ARC when I saw it on the break room desk a few months ago back when I was working for Indigo Books.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton is a domestic thriller following Lily – or Juliette, as she goes by now – as she seeks to get her ex-boyfriend back in a process that gave me a similar feeling to Single White Female. Starting with joining the airline Nate works for as a flight attendant, Lily seeks to convince him how deeply, madly in love with her he definitely must be and get her perfect life back on track.

There are a few other bits that are all tied up in her mission, including wanting to be more successful than a mean girl from her childhood (who happens to be Nate’s sister) as well as still dealing with the death of her younger brother and now her estranged mother. While these added aspects added something akin to depth to the story, they also felt more loose in terms of plot planning and weak justification for Lily’s behaviour.

You have probably guessed that I was not overly fond of this title, and you would be correct. While the writing itself was strong, it felt like a story I already read. As I mentioned above, Single White Female was only one of the films that popped into my head while reading, along with Fatal Attraction and Gone Girl (in terms of the open ending). I usually don’t mind “borrowed” ideas as influence is always going to be in our media, but it just didn’t work with this one.

The novel is told from Lily’s perspective which gave me a hard time since I had a hard time connecting with her. At one point in my life, I was also a badly bullied little girl, but the extremes that Lily went through to not only get revenge but also to justify her behaviour to herself. It wouldn’t be a domestic revenge thriller without murder and even that part had me more rolling my eyes and wondering why no one suspected how out of her mind this woman is. It all seemed just far too over the top for me.

As always, perhaps this book just wasn’t for me. If you like the films/books I’ve referenced in terms of “borrowed” influences, then you might enjoy this book. I hope Karen Hamilton keeps writing and I enjoyed her style enough to give her next book a chance. 2 out of 5 stars from me.


This book is available now at any Indigo, Chapters, or Coles location and has an official release of December 31st, 2018.

REVIEW: Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic

Thank you Annick Press for sending me an ARC in return for my honest review


I normally don’t read much non-fiction, but on the rare occasion a title jumps out at me. This time, a book jumped out at me because of the author.

Michael McCreary and I became friends several years ago as I have always been a film geek (and was in film school at the time) and he was dressed as Patrick Bateman. We hit it off right away and I’ve never felt better about things than I do when spending time with someone as bright and funny as Michael. When I saw in a Facebook ad that one of my favourite people had written a book about his life and experiences with having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) while being a comedian, I just knew I had to get my hands on it.

The way this book is written is exactly the way Michael talks. He has a very specific way of speaking that just wraps you up in whatever story he is telling you and is more than capable of making you laugh. The chapters are episodic glimpses of his life and experiences regarding solving the puzzle that is telling the difference when someone is being mean or actually telling a joke, or even dealing with being a performer in general. Broken up by colourful “soundbite” quotes and little charts or descriptions about stereotypes or helpful tips for others who have ASD, the book almost feels like a magazine article/interview rather than a book which not only feels like the better way to visualize the narrative, but is also very much Michael.

You may be thinking I am biased given that Michael is a very dear friend of mine, and I probably am. That being said, I was not just approaching this as Michael’s friend but also as someone who – although not neurotypical – does not have Autism, I found this to be rather insightful about something I am not ashamed to admit I don’t know very much about.

This book will be available in early 2019 and I really hope that people, whether autistic or not, pick up this book. I feel it could be a very useful tool for parents, teachers, or even children to understand ASD whether they have been diagnosed themselves or have friends/family/classmates who have been diagnosed.

I am so proud of Michael’s hard work and am so thankful I was able to get my hands on the ARC.


eARCs are also now available through NetGalley! Click here to request it!

REVIEW: Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinée

Back in 2016 when I was still a subscriber to OwlCrate, I received their March Writer’s Block box. Inside was a book I’d never heard of and probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own and yet I read it in about a week, crying almost the whole way through because of how much I connected to the hardships the three characters were dealing with.

That book was The Serpent King by none other than Jeff Zentner. And his debut novel at that.

Over two years later, I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from Penguin and Crown Publishing of Zentner’s newest book, Rayne & Delilah’s Midnight Matinée and for the third time in almost as many years, I found myself in tears over these characters who had me falling in love with them right from the first page.

I took my time with this one, wanting to absorb everything about it. And I was laughing every time I picked up the book while also appreciating the subtle nods to other authors as well as Jeff’s previous books. Josie (Rayne) and Delia (Delilah) run a midnight horror-host show not dissimilar to Elvira on their local public access network. Josie does it because she has always wanted to be on TV. Delia does in it the hopes that it reaches her absentee father and reminds him of her existence. And then there’s MMA fighter, Lawson, who has a wicked crush on Josie and also guests on their show to display his fighter moves as a segment of his own.

To be honest, I don’t actually know how to review this book other than just saying, “I loved it, please go pre-order it now (available February 2019).” Because we still have so long before the release I was going to do a “pre-review” (like with what I did for Bookish Boyfriends) but I just can’t bring myself to simplify what I have to say.

The Serpent King got me to let go of a lot of anger at being left by my own father at a very young age and, boy, let me tell you that if this had been the book in that OwlCrate box, my life would have taken a very different turn. Because of what I’ve been through in both being very much disconnected by family and being left behind by people who I thought were very dear friends, I connect with Delia on so many levels that it was hard to get through the last few sections of the book because I was so emotional.

Jeff Zentner knows how to break your heart in the smoothest of ways so that even though you are crying for a loss, it still feels like something new is forming in it’s place. They say that when a bone breaks, that break becomes the strongest part of said bone once the healing process is finished. That’s how I feel after reading Jeff Zentner’s books as they have such deep emotional strongpoints, they can show us how to be better people. And not only in regards to how we see and treat others, but in how we see and treat ourselves. Rayne & Delilah is no exception.

I really hope that if you’re a fan, you pre-order this book through your nearest retailer, and that if you’ve never picked up one of Jeff’s books, that you consider giving this one a try.

I really don’t have many more words for how important The Serpent King, Goodbye Days, and Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinée are to me and how lucky I feel to have been able to read all of them.