Hot Best Seller

A Holly Jolly Diwali

Availability: Ready to download

One type-A data analyst discovers her free-spirited side on an impulsive journey from bustling Mumbai to the gorgeous beaches of Goa and finds love waiting for her on Christmas morning. Twenty-nine-year-old Niki Randhawa has always made practical decisions. Despite her love for music and art, she became an analyst for the stability. She's always stuck close to home, in case One type-A data analyst discovers her free-spirited side on an impulsive journey from bustling Mumbai to the gorgeous beaches of Goa and finds love waiting for her on Christmas morning. Twenty-nine-year-old Niki Randhawa has always made practical decisions. Despite her love for music and art, she became an analyst for the stability. She's always stuck close to home, in case her family needed her. And she's always dated guys that seem good on paper, rather than the ones who give her butterflies. When she's laid off, Niki realizes that practical hasn't exactly paid off for her. So for the first time ever, she throws caution to the wind and books a last-minute flight for her friend Diya's wedding. Niki arrives in India just in time to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, where she meets London musician Sameer Mukherji. Maybe it's the splendor of Mumbai or the magic of the holiday season, but Niki is immediately drawn to Sam. At the wedding, the champagne flows and their flirtatious banter makes it clear that the attraction is mutual. When Niki and Sam join Diya, her husband and their friends on a group honeymoon, their connection grows deeper. Free-spirited Sam helps Niki get in touch with her passionate and creative side, and with her Indian roots. When she gets a new job offer back home, Niki must decide what she wants out of the next chapter of her life--to cling to the straight and narrow like always, or to take a leap of faith and live the kind of bold life the old Niki never would have dreamed of.


Compare

One type-A data analyst discovers her free-spirited side on an impulsive journey from bustling Mumbai to the gorgeous beaches of Goa and finds love waiting for her on Christmas morning. Twenty-nine-year-old Niki Randhawa has always made practical decisions. Despite her love for music and art, she became an analyst for the stability. She's always stuck close to home, in case One type-A data analyst discovers her free-spirited side on an impulsive journey from bustling Mumbai to the gorgeous beaches of Goa and finds love waiting for her on Christmas morning. Twenty-nine-year-old Niki Randhawa has always made practical decisions. Despite her love for music and art, she became an analyst for the stability. She's always stuck close to home, in case her family needed her. And she's always dated guys that seem good on paper, rather than the ones who give her butterflies. When she's laid off, Niki realizes that practical hasn't exactly paid off for her. So for the first time ever, she throws caution to the wind and books a last-minute flight for her friend Diya's wedding. Niki arrives in India just in time to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, where she meets London musician Sameer Mukherji. Maybe it's the splendor of Mumbai or the magic of the holiday season, but Niki is immediately drawn to Sam. At the wedding, the champagne flows and their flirtatious banter makes it clear that the attraction is mutual. When Niki and Sam join Diya, her husband and their friends on a group honeymoon, their connection grows deeper. Free-spirited Sam helps Niki get in touch with her passionate and creative side, and with her Indian roots. When she gets a new job offer back home, Niki must decide what she wants out of the next chapter of her life--to cling to the straight and narrow like always, or to take a leap of faith and live the kind of bold life the old Niki never would have dreamed of.

30 review for A Holly Jolly Diwali

  1. 4 out of 5

    chan ☆

    this was sweet! i will admit the romance wasn't the most swoon worthy or developed but i really loved learning more about Diwali and seeing Niki's growth over the course of the story! definitely a feel good holiday romance this was sweet! i will admit the romance wasn't the most swoon worthy or developed but i really loved learning more about Diwali and seeing Niki's growth over the course of the story! definitely a feel good holiday romance

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Woohoo! In my opinion: This is so far the best book of the author! It was like watching a riveting, heartfelt, entertaining romcom. I already visualized each scenes in my head. One of my favorite scenes of the book depicted at its lovely cover: Niki in her vivid yellow sari held in Sam’s arms, facing away from the pool and squinting at him, slightly leaning backward as the fireworks erupted! That’s the night they met! I already worked on cast options and visualized Niki as Alia Bahatt and Sam f Woohoo! In my opinion: This is so far the best book of the author! It was like watching a riveting, heartfelt, entertaining romcom. I already visualized each scenes in my head. One of my favorite scenes of the book depicted at its lovely cover: Niki in her vivid yellow sari held in Sam’s arms, facing away from the pool and squinting at him, slightly leaning backward as the fireworks erupted! That’s the night they met! I already worked on cast options and visualized Niki as Alia Bahatt and Sam from the Band …well, actually I went back and forth between Sidhart Malhotra and Shahid Kapoor ( actually my first choice was Ranbir Kapoor but he might be a little older for the character) Anyways: this book has everything for my romcom craving soul but this is not only a random love story. It’s about self discovery, family conflicts, cultural discovery, reconnecting with your roots story! It was also educational to learn more about Sikhism and Hinduism and their rituals, differences. Niki was data analytics manager at a start up that sold e-products who was hired straight out of college as analyst and easily climbed the corporate ladders. Yes, I’m using past tense. Because she got sacked! Yes, after spending her years working her ass off to get her promotion one year ago for moving out from her parents’ house now she is going back to ground zero! She didn’t take risks, she didn’t fool around. She was always the responsible, all work no play girl, a quiet workaholic, a good daughter never flirts with random guys. Is this the way how universe rewards her! She always envies her sister Jasmine who is going with flow, getting risky decisions, doing the opposite what her parents told. But she has her dream job, living with her boyfriend: she has it all. This is not fair! Well, the same day she’s sagged, she reluctantly goes an arranged date with flirty doctor Raj. ( thanks to her nosy parents) When she hits the bar with her date, getting too drunk, motivated by the extra flirting doctor, she calls her bestie Diya who is going to marry in a few days and as an unemployed 29 years old single woman she has no better things to do to fly to Mumbai and attend her best friend’s wedding. This may be a great way to reconnect with her roots by visiting her relatives and traveling to the places where her parents came from. Of course her lack of knowledge about Punjabi culture, her fashion style and lack of language skills create some issues to connect with people. But thankfully Aasha Auntie takes her under her wings and insists to arrange her a date with her son. She rejects at first but when she discovers her so is the same guy at the band she’s ogling all night long, she has second thoughts. Sam from the band a.k.a. Sameer: Diya’s childhood best friend, chased his dream to be a musician, moving LA with his sister instead of getting a secure job in Mumbai, then moving to Europe to tour around with his band at several venues. He’s her polar opposite: a rebel, pursuing his dreams in music , passionate, free spirited, going with the flow. But their attraction is mutual and as their connections get deeper after attending honeymooners’ vacation in Goa, Niki realizes she has to make a decision about her next path she’ll follow in her life! Should she go back to the states, dating with her awaiting, family approved doctor, finding a secure job or taking risks and following Sam to London to start a new life without knowing what future brings! Overall: I’m rounding up 4.5 stars to 5 happy Festival of Lights, long distance relationship, feel good romance stars! Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for sharing this amazing digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Trish (concerningnovels)

    1 star - As per goodreads' standards, I didn't like it - at all. Nothing - not the setting, the plot, the characters, the romance, nor the cultural/religious aspects of the novel - were given the attention and treatment I expect from a Berkeley Romance novel. I just want to preface this by saying that I respect authors and the work they produce. The following review is just one reader’s opinion. —— This was a book about a young woman realizing that while she was busy playing by the rules and maki 1 star - As per goodreads' standards, I didn't like it - at all. Nothing - not the setting, the plot, the characters, the romance, nor the cultural/religious aspects of the novel - were given the attention and treatment I expect from a Berkeley Romance novel. I just want to preface this by saying that I respect authors and the work they produce. The following review is just one reader’s opinion. —— This was a book about a young woman realizing that while she was busy playing by the rules and making sure she was the "good Indian daughter" her parents didn't have to worry about, the people who broke all the rules and didn't give a hoot about disappointing their parents and danced to the beat of their own drum were leading successful, interesting, uncompromising lives. They weren't any worse off for not doing things properly and disobeying their parents, and she wasn't necessarily better off for having complied with everyones rules and expectations. So in an impulsive move unlike her typical nature, after she suddenly gets laid off from her job, Niki takes off to attend her friend's wedding - in India. A country whose culture and ethnicity she embodies but ultimately a place she has never been. In India, she meets the bride's friend Sam(eer) and what ensues is a flirtatious game of will they or won't they admit their feelings for each other and realize that what's going on between them is more than just a wedding "fling". It's insta-love romance, sometimes funny, and good for anyone looking for that "love overcomes all obstacles" kind of story. Now, this is your warning: I'm about to go on a big rant on the specific things that didn't sit right with me about this book. I want to preface this by saying that I don't think an American of any other background or race or religion would feel the same way I did. But because I am an American, born and raised by Indian parents who immigrated here from Kolkata before I was born, who speaks fluent Bengali and celebrated all major holidays at our Hindu temple for the first 18 years of my life, and visited India every other year to visit family and grandparents since I was born, I feel somewhat qualified to make these criticisms. I wish the main characters were slightly more developed and the periphery Indian characters Niki encounters didn't feel like caricatures of who and what they were trying to portray. Almost all of the side characters Niki meets/encounters in India seem to serve the purpose of showing Niki (and the reader) how awful, outdated, rude, disrespectful Indian people can be, and how out of place Niki feels as an American in India. One Auntie is a complete stranger and just decides to tell Niki that she should stay out of the sun as she's looking kinda dark (this makes 29 y/old Niki sad and she cries). Then another Auntie, Sam's mom, is SO MODERN AND WESTERN AND COOL, she assumes - nay, WANTS - Sam and Niki to share a bed and room so that they will have sex and be in love and get married... while they're all living under the same roof. Mind you, Niki, Sam, and Sam's mom have all only known each other for a week. But Auntie is so desperate for her son to get married she encourages them to sleep together? Look, there's modern and there's ridiculous. Even by American standards that's crazy. If the mother of a guy I've known for a week and haven't even been on a date with insists that I share a bed with her son I AM RUNNING AWAY SO QUICKLY. So every Auntie Niki meets is her own caricature for what's wrong with or great about India. As an American-born Indian whose parents took her back to India from the time I was 6 months old (and every 2 years thereafter), I can say with authority that the India and Indian people that Niki meets and Sonya Lalli portrays is a unique and singular experience, not a universal one. I have been in Kolkata and Mumbai and Delhi, Kerala aged 16, 18, 20, wearing dresses, skirts, shorts above the knee and also in traditional Indian dresses. No one has ever leered or catcalled me, made me feel uncomfortable or at risk of being raped. That doesn't mean these things don't happen. But it's like writing a book about a foreign family visiting America and saying they feel like they're going to be victims of gun violence because they see it on the news headlines all the time. I don't know, Lalli packed a lot of backwards assumptions about India in this romance novel. Time and time again she chooses to discredit, ridicule, and mock the rigidity or superfluousness of deep rooted traditional Indian customs (reading and aligning horoscopes, having housekeepers, cooks, drivers, butchers, for example). Niki gets mad when two other bridesmaids are discussing the incompetence of their domestic help. And while those characters were being rude, the whole scene and conversation gave nothing to the plot other than to show that there are Indians who talk about their maids behind their backs and don't value them highly.... Why was this criticism about Indians necessary to input into a romance novel?? I just feel like Sonya Lalli used this book as an opportunity to make characters out of all the things wrong with Indian society. I thought this book would be a celebration of India and its diverse religions, cultures, foods. Instead, LIKE ANOTHER CARICATURE, Niki eats out at restaurants and spends a day bedridden from food poisoning and diarrhea. Look, I wasn't expecting Niki to have an Eat Pray Love moment, but Lalli literally took every opportunity to highlight the flaws in India, and it really took away a lot of the enjoyment of the atmosphere for me. And, the main character Niki goes around the whole novel asking people why they celebrate Diwali and somehow no one has an answer, so at the end of the novel she decides to use Diwali to mark the beginning of her love story with Sam... Like, okay that's called an anniversary - not Diwali. As a Bengali Hindu, Kali Puja, or a celebration of the Goddess Kali (which we celebrate instead of Diwali) has a distinct purpose. Kali is the Goddess known to destroy evil and fight for justice. So we celebrate her and remember that even in our quest to do justice, we must be just and good ourselves. You can't eradicate evil with evil - only light can do that. At least, after 28 years of celebrating Kali Puja, that's what I am thinking about. As someone who grew up in America, I'm surprised I know that and yet the 15 Indians Niki asked in the novel couldn't come up with a satisfactory answer as to why they or anyone celebrates Diwali/Kali Puja - other than it's the Festival of Lights, light over darkness, (character named Diya says - it's the celebration of ME). I mean, Diwali/Kali Puja is an actual celebration of something and it's not like a make it whatever you want holiday. I think Lalli has one of her characters compare it to non-Christians celebrating Christmas in America... OK but we don't go to church and celebrate it with them. We go to the mall and a MASSIVE tree happens to be there and everything in the mall is on SALE so we buy gifts for ourselves and everyone we know… not exactly the same as a Hindu girl going to India for the first time and celebrating Diwali with her friends. Like, it's not just a party she showed up to, she could actually be involved and practice the religion if she wanted to. Finally, the chances of randomly running into and not recognizing Shah Rukh Khan in India is just too implausible for me. His VOICE is so distinct. The man could be wearing a SCREAM mask and I'd recognize him by his voice alone. Niki is a fake Bollywood fan and she didn't deserve that photo with Shah Rukh. Just saying. All the little things Lalli brings up about why Indians are rude, outdated, etc are not incorrect. Those stereotypical thoughts (fair skin is better, casteism) definitely exist throughout the country. It's just not the dominant thought anymore in modern, progressive circles and it's insane to think that Niki encounters all the worst things about India all in unique people and instances in the 2 weeks she spends there (in major cities like Mumbai and Goa nonetheless). None of them, by the way, lend themselves to furthering ANY plot or character development - except maybe to further Niki's distaste for India. But again, these nuances won't irk the average reader, because the average reader isn't as sensitive as me, probably. But, whatever. I had high hopes for this book specifically because of the South Asian representation. And in the end I felt like I read a book about how Niki met and fell in love with Sam because he was the only nice stranger in all of India that she encountered. The India Sonya Lalli describes through Niki's lens is a smoggy, hot mess. It's dangerous, dirty, rude, ungrateful, ungracious, and their traditions, customs, and beliefs are nonchalant, loosey goosey, open to interpretation and can/should be completely disregarded when possible. I'm proud to be an American citizen with Indian heritage and ethnicity. And I'm so sorry Niki's first experience in India was so shitty. That the only time she had fun was a day out with her friend's family cook and driver (what person would send their international houseguest sightseeing with the cook is beyond me??). Ultimately, I cannot relate to Nikki and Sonya Lalli's harrowing depiction of Indians and India. And that's sad because now I want to write/read a book from an Indian - American perspective talking about how wonderful and meaningful India is - the people, the culture, the food, the religious ceremonies and celebrations. But I think only white people write those books LOL. ANYWAY, rant over. This was a tolerable book if you focus on the romance only. Even then, it was beyond subpar. I don't see what was so lovable about Sam other than the fact that he was persistent in trying to date Niki and was her shoulder to cry on every time someone hurt her feelings. So, despite having high hopes, this book was barely just ok for me. In the end, the negative atmosphere overwhelmed the lukewarm romance between two very confused and directionless lead characters. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group, Berkley Romance, and Netgalley for providing a digital arc in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Remarkablylisa)

    I was so surprised by how much I ADORED THIS BOOK!! it follows a plotline we know. A fling turned into something more but it was so fun to visit India with our characters and her to find herself /learn more about her culture!

  5. 5 out of 5

    ABookNook

    ✨Any hot brown musicians wanna make sizzling chemistry filled eye contact with me at my best friend’s wedding? I am accepting applications✨ Tropes: 💻 STEM heroine 🇮🇳 OwnVoices South Asian romance 😍 unique, accurate representation 🎶 musician, geeky hero 💁🏽‍♀️ women’s fiction 🪔 lush culture Swipe for Summary Sonya Lali is known for writing fantastic women’s fiction with wonderful South Asian representation and I will say this is another great addition to that reputation 😍 While there is more romance in ✨Any hot brown musicians wanna make sizzling chemistry filled eye contact with me at my best friend’s wedding? I am accepting applications✨ Tropes: 💻 STEM heroine 🇮🇳 OwnVoices South Asian romance 😍 unique, accurate representation 🎶 musician, geeky hero 💁🏽‍♀️ women’s fiction 🪔 lush culture Swipe for Summary Sonya Lali is known for writing fantastic women’s fiction with wonderful South Asian representation and I will say this is another great addition to that reputation 😍 While there is more romance in this one, this book has a focus on Niki and her inner struggles as she becomes familiar with her culture. And that is totally ok! As long as you know this is more of a women’s fiction. The representation in this book was amazing. If you know me, you know I am so tired of the toxic aunty, strict parents, forced arranged marriages, religion shown in a bad light, etc. stereotypes in South Asian literature. This book had none of that. I was seeing my culture being painted in such a accurate and wonderful light. The flaws were pointed out in such a healthy way. The beauty was pointed out in such a touching way. I love love loved the representation 🙌🏼 The depiction of the Diwali season had me calling my mom to make sure my OCI was current so I can visit India. I was so homesick in the best way 😍 Sameer. Oh Sameer just marry me. Sam was truly one of the swooniest brown boy heroes I have ever read. Sonya Lali, you cannot do this to me. My expectations are already high enough 🥺 I was just imagining his accent and shaggy hair, trying to stop myself from swooning. The romance was not developed enough and a little rushed but the book did focus more on Niki’s personal development. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I would definitely recommend A Holly Jolly Diwali to you if you are looking for a fun, festive, lush story with a sprinkle of romance and a swoony hero. Happy Diwali to everyone 🪔🪔 ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/ 5 stars | Steam free Thank you to Berkley, Sonya Lali, and Edelweiss for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion ❤️

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nana

    This was ok, kinda cute. I wasn't overly invested. This was ok, kinda cute. I wasn't overly invested.

  7. 4 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    This was straight up adorable. I liked Niki's transformation from practical, do-good daughter to someone who became more independent and willing to take risks, and I loved the way her family supported her. Another highlight was her reconnecting to her Punjabi roots, first with her best friend in Mumbai and later with Sam at the beach town. I really, really liked the chemistry she shared with Sam. It was cute, it was fun, and the breakup scene was completely realistic—which made the reconciliation This was straight up adorable. I liked Niki's transformation from practical, do-good daughter to someone who became more independent and willing to take risks, and I loved the way her family supported her. Another highlight was her reconnecting to her Punjabi roots, first with her best friend in Mumbai and later with Sam at the beach town. I really, really liked the chemistry she shared with Sam. It was cute, it was fun, and the breakup scene was completely realistic—which made the reconciliation so much better!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Eilonwy

    Niki wasn’t planning to attend her best friend, Diya’s, wedding — Niki lives in Seattle and the wedding is in Mumbai — but when she’s unceremoniously laid off from her IT job, a change in scenery and time with a friend looks very good. At a pre-wedding Diwali party, Niki is strongly attracted to Sam, a musician. But Sam lives in London, and Niki isn’t looking for a fling. There’s no way anything can happen between them. Is there? Everyone who knows me in real life knows that I cannot stand th Niki wasn’t planning to attend her best friend, Diya’s, wedding — Niki lives in Seattle and the wedding is in Mumbai — but when she’s unceremoniously laid off from her IT job, a change in scenery and time with a friend looks very good. At a pre-wedding Diwali party, Niki is strongly attracted to Sam, a musician. But Sam lives in London, and Niki isn’t looking for a fling. There’s no way anything can happen between them. Is there? Everyone who knows me in real life knows that I cannot stand the song Holly Jolly Christmas, and if you call me Holly Jolly, you will get no response. And yet I grabbed this book. Somehow, adding Diwali to the mix made it cute and not annoying. And I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed this. It was lighthearted and fun, with well-drawn, interesting characters and believable situations. Sam was entirely likable, with no alpholeness or red flags; I was consistently rooting for Niki and Sam. I appreciated the realistic approach to romance in this story, as well. Are Niki and Sam “perfect” for each other? Who knows, and it doesn’t matter. They’re clearly good together, and come across as people who would be friends even if they never became lovers. I have all faith that they will handle whatever comes their way. I also really liked that the Epilogue did not show a saccharine perfect happy ending — I’m such a sourpuss about those — but only showed Niki and Sam actively planning their future. This book was a good time. I’ve given it 4 stars only because I was never intensely invested in it, but that did not detract from my enjoyment. I plan to read Sonia Lalli’s other books in the near future; this definitely won her a new fan.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Antonella

    cute but I cared about everything more than the romance storyline..

  10. 4 out of 5

    My_Strange_Reading

    This book was the perfect read to get me out of my reading slump. It was super cute, and Sam was a swoon-worthy book boyfriend. Some of the drama was stupid, and I hate when authors use abbreviations like OMFG and LOL and IRL as apart of dialogue to show their characters are ‘young and hip’ but other than that, it was PERFECT.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ayushi

    Thank you so much to Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review! I really need South Asian Romance authors to stop writing about fictional South Asian men that set the bar so high for South Asian men IRL. A Holly Jolly Diwali is a perfect holiday read about identity, family, and finding your passions sprinkled with a swoon-worthy romance. Sonya Lalli is known for writing stories within Women’s Fiction that center on the main character’s growth as a pers Thank you so much to Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review! I really need South Asian Romance authors to stop writing about fictional South Asian men that set the bar so high for South Asian men IRL. A Holly Jolly Diwali is a perfect holiday read about identity, family, and finding your passions sprinkled with a swoon-worthy romance. Sonya Lalli is known for writing stories within Women’s Fiction that center on the main character’s growth as a person rather than putting the focus of the story on the love they find/do not find. And although A Holly Jolly Diwali is marketed as a romance, I think what stole the story was, again, Niki’s journey to finally take charge of her life and pursue avenues that truly made her happy within her career and within her social life. As someone who is also Type A like Niki, I liked watching her come out of her shell and think about what things actually deserve her time and attention in her life. I also liked the discussions about socioeconomic class, identity, and family that Niki and Jasmine have as daughters of first-generation desi immigrant parents. The scenes in which Niki described how she felt always being compared to Jasmine were deeply accurate for the children of desi immigrant parents who grew up with siblings. I also thought that Niki’s relationship with her roots back in India was explored perfectly. It’s very common for second-generation Americans to feel disconnected with their home country, culture, and language. I especially loved the discussions about the socioeconomic status of Niki’s family (who are of the working class) and how their inability to pay for trips back to India inadvertently caused Niki and Jasmine to be more disconnected with their culture. I also liked the discussions of colorism, casteism, and rape culture in India and how instead of fully bashing on Indian culture, the Sonya Lalli pointed out that it's the people who are abusing their power that are causing these cultures to exist. Lastly, I can’t end this review without talking about my new fave: Sameer Mukherji. This is the first time I’ve read a South Asian rom-com (let alone rom-coms period) in which the love interest is Bengali. And the fact that he has a British accent with long shaggy black hair (I’m literally just picturing Dev Patel at this point), and calls her ‘love’ killed me. This man literally swept both Niki and me off my feet and I’m obsessed with his mom, Asha Auntie (yes Bengalis are just as cool and open as Niki thinks they are). I do wish the book was slightly longer and that his relationship with Niki was a little more developed. Their love was a little rushed and insta-lovey, but I believe that with a longer plot and more of a slowburn romance, I would have fully believed Sam's feelings for Niki throughout and at the end of the book. Their moments during the book and in the epilogue were very cute though and I love that we got to see an inter-faith relationship in this novel that was supported wholeheartedly by both Niki and Sam's parents! Overall, if you’re looking for a spice-free, festive romance, I definitely recommend A Holly Jolly Diwali!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Navneet

    The representation in this book made me super happy. Could it have been better? Yes, but I’ll take what I can get cause I never see Punjabi Sikh characters in a main lead. I get happy seeing South Asian representation in books, but they’re mostly Hindu, Muslim, Bengali or Gujarati characters. So to see all these Punjabi characters, warmed my heart, it made me genuinely happy. It was a little weird at first seeing all those familiar names just because they were barely there for any book I’ve read The representation in this book made me super happy. Could it have been better? Yes, but I’ll take what I can get cause I never see Punjabi Sikh characters in a main lead. I get happy seeing South Asian representation in books, but they’re mostly Hindu, Muslim, Bengali or Gujarati characters. So to see all these Punjabi characters, warmed my heart, it made me genuinely happy. It was a little weird at first seeing all those familiar names just because they were barely there for any book I’ve read before. So for this, thank you Sonya. In terms of the book, it doesn’t have a major plot honestly. So if you’re looking to read something that won’t overwhelm you with the plot but still be a good cute read, this is for you. I loved the issues raised in this book from colourism to casteism, which are all important. I loved how the author brought light to the meaning of Diwali and it’s celebrations in different religions. Based on some reviews I saw some people didn’t like Niki, and that’s okay. I liked her enough because in a sense to me, she was realistic. She was how I view myself and the daughter I wanted to be for my parents. But it’ll be different for everyone. And Sam from the band, where does someone find a desi guy like you? Gosh I love the characters in this book! And the title of this book OH MY GOSH. When it finally clicked I was like so this is why it’s called this! It couldn’t have had a better name. The only thing I didn’t like about this book was that there was a lot of filler. I wish we had more dialogue between Niki and Sam so we could see their relationship build more. But other than that I really liked it. If you liked the movie “Yeh Jawaani Hai Dewaani” you need to try reading this book! A bollywood playlist for the book: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7nU...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    3.5 stars - Reviewed for Wit and Sin Sonya Lalli sweeps readers away from rainy Seattle to bustling Mumbai to the beaches of Goa in A Holly Jolly Diwali . More than a romance, this is a story of our heroine, Niki Randhawa’s personal journey. It’s a love story, yes, but also a story of family, friends, culture, and finding your own path. Niki is at a crossroads in her life at the beginning of this story. She just lost her stable, unexciting job, and is wrestling with wanting to be the “good 3.5 stars - Reviewed for Wit and Sin Sonya Lalli sweeps readers away from rainy Seattle to bustling Mumbai to the beaches of Goa in A Holly Jolly Diwali . More than a romance, this is a story of our heroine, Niki Randhawa’s personal journey. It’s a love story, yes, but also a story of family, friends, culture, and finding your own path. Niki is at a crossroads in her life at the beginning of this story. She just lost her stable, unexciting job, and is wrestling with wanting to be the “good daughter” while resenting the life her sister has by not tying herself to their parents’ expectations. After being laid off, Niki impulsively books a trip to Mumbai for her best friend’s wedding. She arrives just in time for Diwali and it’s then that her journey begins. A Holly Jolly Diwali is very much about Niki’s personal journey. She’s doesn’t know that much about her parents’ homeland and when she travels to India she’s full of questions and observations. She’s bright, inquisitive, and – most importantly – imperfect. Her experiences in Mumbai and Goa are colored by her own biases and I liked that Lalli showed Niki’s growth and recognition of that. On Diwali, Niki is swept off her feet by Sam, a handsome musician based out of London. I liked Sam and the glimpses we saw of his character. He was funny and perfect, but Lalli kept giving out bits and pieces of Sam’s own journey and family history that made me want more. The book is exclusively in Niki’s point of view which didn’t always work because we missed out on some much-needed depth that Sam’s perspective could have helped provide. The romance was where A Holly Jolly Diwali faltered for me. Niki and Sam have instant attraction and the sweeping, rom-com type situations they find themselves in don’t necessarily made the “I love yous” feel organic. Parts of the love story felt shallow (even though I liked Niki and Sam together) and it’s possible this was on purpose to show how Niki building castles in the air was a problem. I liked that it was presented as such but there was still something missing for me in the resolution of the romance; I wanted a bit more depth to mix in with the fantasy. Still, even with this issue I liked A Holly Jolly Diwali . Lalli ended the story with a great mix of following your passion while keeping a foot in reality. I really liked where Sam and Niki ended up and I’m looking forward to Jasmine Randhawa’s story. FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    RateTheRomance

    I'm always hunting for Holiday romances NOT centered around Christmas and was so happy to find A HOLLY JOLLY DIWALI! I lived in an area for a few years that had a large Indian population, so I already knew a fair amount about this magical holiday. If you are less familiar with it, you will love reading this book since the author does a great job of incorporating it into the story without it reading like a textbook. Niki and Sam are SO SWEET! I loved their story! They had great banter, sizzling ch I'm always hunting for Holiday romances NOT centered around Christmas and was so happy to find A HOLLY JOLLY DIWALI! I lived in an area for a few years that had a large Indian population, so I already knew a fair amount about this magical holiday. If you are less familiar with it, you will love reading this book since the author does a great job of incorporating it into the story without it reading like a textbook. Niki and Sam are SO SWEET! I loved their story! They had great banter, sizzling chemistry, and a wonderfully real relationship that never felt too rushed or unrealistic. Niki is a female working in STEM (yay!!! Happy dance!) who is practical to a fault. I love a female lead who is the more "serious" one. While Sam is chasing his dreams, passionate, and much more open to fun. A HOLLY JOLLY DIWALI also gives the reader a perfectly executed peek into the Indian culture, as a society and within families. Again, this information is woven into the story without feeling preach or heavy-handed. We get to witness the Indian-American heroine changing some of her preconceived ideas about her own culture as she visits India. Now, for the good stuff! This book is really steamy WITHOUT having much steam! Whooo-Wheee! Are these two sexy, even without the sex. You won't be left wanting more (okay, maybe you will) because the chemistry and kisses are pretty great. A HOLLY JOLLY DIWALI is such a great holiday read! It's smart, sweet, and swoony! RATING:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ STEAM LEVEL: Rated PG TRIGGERS: parent estrangement FEELS-O-METER: 2/5 - A bit of drama, but still a pretty light read. I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. BUY IT HERE: https://amzn.to/3FiAOOd (aff.) 👇🏻HANG OUT WITH ME HERE!👇🏻 INSTAGRAM | YEAR OF SMUT CHALLENGE

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Louise

    This romance developed a bit too fast for me, but the surrounding story of family complimented it really well. After data analyst Niki gets laid off from her job, she spontaneously books a trip to India to attend the wedding of her friend. There she meets the incredibly handsome Sameer, a bass guitarist from London. As soon as their eyes locked, the chemistry was blazing. This is a closed-door romance, but there’s certainly plenty of glorious tension. With sprinkles of Diwali and its origin, the This romance developed a bit too fast for me, but the surrounding story of family complimented it really well. After data analyst Niki gets laid off from her job, she spontaneously books a trip to India to attend the wedding of her friend. There she meets the incredibly handsome Sameer, a bass guitarist from London. As soon as their eyes locked, the chemistry was blazing. This is a closed-door romance, but there’s certainly plenty of glorious tension. With sprinkles of Diwali and its origin, the setting of India was fantastic as Niki explores her roots. I especially loved the family element within this story as it highlights different upbringings and viewpoints. Always striving to be the perfect daughter, it’s easy to cheer for Niki as she finally follows her own path. This was a cute read!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)

    A lovely tale about a woman's discovery of not only love for a guy, but of herself and her culture. If you seek a standard romance novel, go elsewhere. But, if you seek one with depth and some laughs, check this book out. 4/5 A lovely tale about a woman's discovery of not only love for a guy, but of herself and her culture. If you seek a standard romance novel, go elsewhere. But, if you seek one with depth and some laughs, check this book out. 4/5

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ezinwanyi Chinyere

    Oh man! This rom-com was really good. I had all the things I crave in a good love story. Awesome storytelling ✅ Likable characters ✅ Personal growth/character development ✅ Realistic Family dynamics ✅ Humor & Romance ✅ This story would have gotten 5-stars had it been a dual pov because both characters had a story that was worth telling. But the heroine Niki Randhawa was the vehicle that the author chose to navigate this journey. It’s worth noting that while its a holiday romance, the story wasn’t ecl Oh man! This rom-com was really good. I had all the things I crave in a good love story. Awesome storytelling ✅ Likable characters ✅ Personal growth/character development ✅ Realistic Family dynamics ✅ Humor & Romance ✅ This story would have gotten 5-stars had it been a dual pov because both characters had a story that was worth telling. But the heroine Niki Randhawa was the vehicle that the author chose to navigate this journey. It’s worth noting that while its a holiday romance, the story wasn’t eclipsed by Diwali or Christmas. Niki was the “good” daughter who followed all her parents rules and edicts so they wouldn’t stress about her like they did with her older sister. When she lost her job unexpectedly, she took it as a sign to throw caution to the wind for once. With two days planning, she traveled from Seattle to India for her BF Diya’s wedding. Niki’s arrived in India during the festival Diwali and at a banquet she met a musician Sameer Mukherji who was part of a well known band based in London. Niki and Sam had an Instant connection much to the delight of Diya but they decided it could only be a fling since they live in different continents. But you know how hard it is to predict when the love bug will bite. The author laid a good foundation of Niki as a character. I felt like she was a friend that I was rooting for. I wanted her to win so bad. She didn’t give her parents grief, she was intentional and rational about almost everything. She was just a good person. When she met Sam, it’s like when Christmas lights go on, they both lit up. The pacing of the story was even and realistic. It gave a glimpse into the Indian culture particularly in the areas of parental expectation and marriage. I would have loved to see Sam’s family interactions from his perspective. I really liked Sam and I felt for him as he attempted to reconcile the future his family envisioned for him and the dreams he had for himself. That’s always a tough thing to navigate when you care what your parents think and when you wish to please them.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Siria

    Mediocre. The main couple, Niki and Sam, think, sound, and act like immature teenagers rather than the 29-year-olds they supposedly are. Sonya Lalli does, to her credit, try to address some serious issues about what it's like to be the child of immigrants and feel disconnected from your roots. But the romance is unconvincing (we're told a lot that Niki and Sam fall head-over-heels in love, almost instantly, but why? At least from Niki's POV, the answer seems to be "Sam's hot, he plays guitar, an Mediocre. The main couple, Niki and Sam, think, sound, and act like immature teenagers rather than the 29-year-olds they supposedly are. Sonya Lalli does, to her credit, try to address some serious issues about what it's like to be the child of immigrants and feel disconnected from your roots. But the romance is unconvincing (we're told a lot that Niki and Sam fall head-over-heels in love, almost instantly, but why? At least from Niki's POV, the answer seems to be "Sam's hot, he plays guitar, and he has a bit of an English accent"—see what I mean about her sounding like a teenager?), the secondary characters flat, and some of the things that happen in the part of the novel set in India were so A Very Special Episode that I found myself cringing in vicarious embarrassment. These are things that can be laid at Lalli's feet as an author, but there are also many aspects of A Holly Jolly Diwali that are squarely the responsibility of the publisher, Berkley. I used to think of them as an imprint that turned out readable, escapist fiction of a certain quality—perhaps not great literature, but the romance equivalent of a warm bath and a mug of tea. But their quality control standards seem to be slipping quite a bit. At least the e-book version of this book is riddled with typos and grammatical mistakes, not to mention bizarre sentences that any editor worth their salt should have flagged ("He clutched his palm to his lip."; "I popped a mouthful of creamy curry, delaying."). The cover design is lovely, but the editor was MIA.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    A Holly Jolly Diwali By Sonya Lalli This is an exceptionally well written read about following your dreams and your heart, in the context of the cultural expectations of what success means. It is a story about families, friendships and self-discovery. It's also about making tough decisions and how to move forward and picking yourself up when you fail short. I enjoyed the love story between Niki and Sam, and all the beauty of India and the culture. This was a fantastic story that is so enjoyable. m A Holly Jolly Diwali By Sonya Lalli This is an exceptionally well written read about following your dreams and your heart, in the context of the cultural expectations of what success means. It is a story about families, friendships and self-discovery. It's also about making tough decisions and how to move forward and picking yourself up when you fail short. I enjoyed the love story between Niki and Sam, and all the beauty of India and the culture. This was a fantastic story that is so enjoyable. my first book with Sonya Lalli and I am definitely reading the rest.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan

    i think my favorite part of this book was how niki discovered herself and her goals outside of the romance part. and sam had me swooning the whole time practically.

  21. 4 out of 5

    smalltownbookmom

    I really enjoyed this South Asian American romance set mainly in India during the Diwali holiday as Niki takes a mini vacation to attend her friend's wedding. While there she meets enigmatic Sam and the chemistry between the two is on point! She also gets a chance to reconnect with her Indian culture, having been raised in a household where such traditions were not front and center. More of a women's fiction, self-realization story with moments of romance, this heartwarming tale emphasizes Niki's I really enjoyed this South Asian American romance set mainly in India during the Diwali holiday as Niki takes a mini vacation to attend her friend's wedding. While there she meets enigmatic Sam and the chemistry between the two is on point! She also gets a chance to reconnect with her Indian culture, having been raised in a household where such traditions were not front and center. More of a women's fiction, self-realization story with moments of romance, this heartwarming tale emphasizes Niki's relationship with her sister and her Indian roots. Great on audio and highly recommended for fans of Sonali Dev, Sara Desai or Nicola Marsh. This will definitely go down as my favorite book by Canadian author Sonya Lalli and I love that it taught me so much about the Diwali holiday. Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my advance review copy!

  22. 5 out of 5

    katayoun Masoodi

    read the first chapters and then skimmed the rest. not sure if it's me or if it's you and so am not going to rate it. can be that after a solid, interesting story, i can't read a meh writing and not so cute people or could be that i am just too something for cute stories. for now i will stick to fantasies and mysteries. read the first chapters and then skimmed the rest. not sure if it's me or if it's you and so am not going to rate it. can be that after a solid, interesting story, i can't read a meh writing and not so cute people or could be that i am just too something for cute stories. for now i will stick to fantasies and mysteries.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gwendolyn Kensinger

    Plenty of culture, not enough romance. After getting laid off from her job Niki travels to India to attend her friend’s wedding. While I can say that I learned a lot about several of the wedding ceremonies and traditions (thanks to a lot of Googling) it shied away from Diwali customs and I thought that’s what the focus of the story was about. I was wrong. In fact, Niki herself isn’t sure what Diwali is so she asks around and never gets a clear answer. Once in India, she meets the bride's friend S Plenty of culture, not enough romance. After getting laid off from her job Niki travels to India to attend her friend’s wedding. While I can say that I learned a lot about several of the wedding ceremonies and traditions (thanks to a lot of Googling) it shied away from Diwali customs and I thought that’s what the focus of the story was about. I was wrong. In fact, Niki herself isn’t sure what Diwali is so she asks around and never gets a clear answer. Once in India, she meets the bride's friend Sam and begins a flirtatious game of will they or won't they admit their feelings for each other. Don’t worry it only takes them a week to fall in love. Seeing as these characters knew each other for such a short period of time it was hard to feel the chemistry and therefore root for them. I also felt that the story kept straying away from the romance (what little of it there was) to criticize India and show how awful, outdated, rude, disrespectful Indian people can be. I thought this was supposed to be a celebration? Diwali, a wedding, and a romance? I felt like so much of what happened wasn’t important to the romance. The back story about Niki’s job, her relationship with her sister, the random flashbacks from when she was a child, even the back story about Sam’s band and his relationship with his father, even the fricking wedding…. I just didn’t see the point of cramming all this into the same book. It felt much longer than the 315 pages I read. This book really could have benefitted from a glossary! I don’t mind stopping every once in awhile to look up a term here and a term there, but this was overkill. I am not familiar with these terms of endearment, items of clothing, ceremonies, recipes, etc. So having to stop and google as much as I did pulled me into and out of a story I was already feeling lukewarm about. Ultimately, I found it to be Niki Randhawa’s personal journey mixed with a story of family, friends, culture, and a bit of love.

  24. 5 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) A Holly Jolly Diwali has all the high points of a romcom. There's plenty of tripping, tension, and catching of the feels. From the beginning I was drawn to Niki. The way she feels like she's played all her cards right, and still been fired and is back to square one. That feeling of always doing the right thing, staying in line, only for it to end up there resonated with me. I thin (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) A Holly Jolly Diwali has all the high points of a romcom. There's plenty of tripping, tension, and catching of the feels. From the beginning I was drawn to Niki. The way she feels like she's played all her cards right, and still been fired and is back to square one. That feeling of always doing the right thing, staying in line, only for it to end up there resonated with me. I think we have this sense that if we work hard and don't act out, that things will be okay. No better than okay, but good. But that's just not the way life works. And Niki's career exploding is just the beginning. I enjoyed watching her try to be spontaneous. To embrace the things she never would have before. It felt, in some ways, kind of how I might act if our roles were reversed. Additionally, I loved Niki's family and the tenuous relationship she has with her sister. Sister stories are my sweet spot and their relationship was an unexpected joy. Connected to her family, I enjoyed how Niki examines her emotions as being Indian, but having never spent much time in India. How she didn't feel like she fit into a community at home, or immediately when visiting India. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  25. 5 out of 5

    maddie (thenmaddieread)

    hmmm. i think this book was, at times, pretty cute. but it was also, at times, pretty heavy-handed. obviously i am not a good critic here, but a lot of the people she met in India seemed kind of one-dimensional, and the way she spent a whole page talking about a woman being raped and murdered on a bus felt... fear-monger-y? also having soundgarden mansplained to me would result in a murder, just saying.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lorryn Woodward

    4.5 // 5 i can't decide. I really enjoyed it. A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli 🎇 tons of culture 🎇 STEM heroine 🎇 the good daughter finally takes a break 🎇 adorable musician falls for the nerd 🎇 GRAND GESTURE🥺 🎇 own voices, South Asian author & characters 🎇 super cute🥰🥰 🎇 will Jasmine get a book? 🎇 Raj can suck it 4.5 // 5 i can't decide. I really enjoyed it. A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli 🎇 tons of culture 🎇 STEM heroine 🎇 the good daughter finally takes a break 🎇 adorable musician falls for the nerd 🎇 GRAND GESTURE🥺 🎇 own voices, South Asian author & characters 🎇 super cute🥰🥰 🎇 will Jasmine get a book? 🎇 Raj can suck it

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Crunden

    um, this sounds fabulous \o/

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    After sticking to her conservative no-frills life plan all her life, getting a nudge from her folks to live a little on the romantic front and a hard shove out the door from her employer sees a woman chucking the life plan and living a little. I’ve seen this author’s books before and thought they looked like fun romantic comedies with a South Asian flavor so I grabbed up this latest set during an Indian holiday in Mumbai. Niki is the good, rule following younger daughter and her sister Jasmine i After sticking to her conservative no-frills life plan all her life, getting a nudge from her folks to live a little on the romantic front and a hard shove out the door from her employer sees a woman chucking the life plan and living a little. I’ve seen this author’s books before and thought they looked like fun romantic comedies with a South Asian flavor so I grabbed up this latest set during an Indian holiday in Mumbai. Niki is the good, rule following younger daughter and her sister Jasmine is the one to tout the rules and do what feels good. Niki never questioned their roles in the family until losing a mid-level management job after doing everything right rocks her back on her heels. It is her blind date with a parent-approved doctor who gets her to loosen up and change her mind about her best friend’s wedding. So Niki goes for it, taking a plane by herself from Seattle to India for the first time, and lands in Mumbai just in time for Diwali celebrations and Diya’s wedding. Little time separates the moment Niki reluctantly agrees with Asha Auntie to see her son, Sam and falling head over heels for him. Sam’s in a traveling band and made the decision early on to follow his dreams by moving to LA with his sister and giving his music a go. They are opposites it seems. In truth it was a fast moving romance, but I adored Sameer and wanted them together. The really clicked especially in the beach resort city of Goa. Sam was a charmer and brought Niki to life. While this is a delightful RomCom, I also felt it was a bit Chick Lit because it’s Niki’s late-blooming journey to find herself. Does she go back home, take the good job offer, and date the doctor who was also a decent guy or does she chuck it and follow her heart? Plus there was a rich, complex layer of Niki getting in touch with her roots. She’s never been to India, can barely speak her family’s language or the other local languages, and she is constantly encountering customs that surprise or confuse her. India is as complicated culturally and socially as America in its own way. It might seem like the author was bashing it, but I felt she was showing the balance between the beauty and the part that needs to change to show an authentic picture. The Diwali holiday was in the background and felt like the Indian version of Christmas with the celebration, time with family, and gift-giving as part of it. All in all, it was a fun, heartwarming, and sometimes thoughtful read. I enjoyed the author’s writing and descriptions, and now I’m sad I waited so long to pick up one of her books. I can recommend it to those who want diversity and holiday atmosphere in their romcom. I rec’d an eARC through Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brandy

    This was so much fun!! I have seen posts about this left and right and was super excited to get it from the library. It was not at all what I expected and absolutely wonderful!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bailey Shrewsbury

    I really wanted to love this one but it just fell completely flat for me

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...