From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

I received an eARC copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

After thoroughly enjoying When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, I knew I wanted to read more by this author. Lo and behold – I found this novel! I loved that the author was going to continue to stick with Indian-American characters but had also decided to go with a very different scenario than in her previous work. Here are my thoughts:

36373464Summary (Goodreads): Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy-a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man N begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?


Review: I had a fun time reading this novel … but it wasn’t as good as its predecessor. Now, before I comment on this, I do want to mention that When Dimple Met Rishi is not connected to this novel in any way whatsoever; From Twinkle, with Love  is NOT a sequel. That being said … I just couldn’t stop myself from comparing the two novels even though I knew I shouldn’t. I’ll get into more detail about this later on, but let me start off with some of the positives:

One thing I really liked about this book is that it features an Indian girl wanting to follow a career path that is very unconventional. Let me explain what I mean: Twinkle wants to be a filmmaker. It’s fantastic seeing Indian characters pursuing artistic endeavours because, I’ll be honest, Indian people tend to fit into the stereotype of always pursuing something STEM related. It is refreshing to see such an unconventional career be brought to the forefront and I wholly support it!

The plot was also very cute, just like with When Dimple Met Rishi. I love the lightness that the author brings to the story because it makes me smile and enjoy the ride. There are heartwarming moments, and scenes that make you really feel for the characters. I think that the different personalities that were developed here were great, and I got to connect with all of them very easily.

However, I didn’t really love the way the story was written. The format was via journal entries addressed to Twinkle’s idols as well as excerpts from text messages. For some reason, it just didn’t work for me. I also wished that the story had been told from Sahil’s perspective and not just Twinkle’s; it would have made the romance come alive a bit more. As much as I like reading Twinkle’s thoughts, it’s always fun to see the other side of things. I also think the author was a bit … heavy-handed with some of the themes she was trying to bring to the forefront. I won’t say too much because it would spoil the story but at times, I felt like I was being bashed over the head and it was all a bit much.

Now, I want this criticism to be taken with a grain of salt. As I was reading this book – and as I’m writing this review – I was aware that I was comparing this novel to When Dimple Met Rishi. And the fact is…. this novel just wasn’t as good. The characters were great, and the plot was interesting but the execution just wasn’t at the same level as in the previous novel by this author. And that did colour my enjoyment of this novel. This is still a really cute story. It’s just that my expectations were quite high coming off of the previous novel. In any case, this is a good novel, and I would recommend it to people who enjoyed Sandhya Menon’s other work. I’m giving it a solid 3/5 stars!

3 star

Happy reading ~

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Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan [BLOG TOUR]

Wicked Saints_Cover FINAL.jpgA girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

N A DE Z H D A

L A P T E V A

Horz stole the stars and the heavens out from underneath Myesta’s control, and for that she has never forgiven him. For where can the moons rest if not the heavens?

—Codex of the Divine, 5:26

Its certainly not my fault you chose a child who sleeps so deeply. If she dies it will very much be your fault, not mine.”

Startled by bickering gods was not Nadya’s preferred method of being woken up. She rolled to her feet in the dark, moving automatically. It took her eyes a few sec- onds to catch up with the rest of her body.

Shut up!

It wasn’t wise to tell the gods to shut up, but it was too late now. A feeling of amused disdain flowed through her, but neither of the gods spoke again. She realized it was Horz, the god of the heavens and the stars, who had woken her. He had a tendency to be obnoxious but generally left Nadya alone, as a rule.

Usually only a single god communed with their chosen cleric. There once had been a cleric named Kseniya Mirokhina who was gifted with unnatural marksmanship by Devonya, the goddess of the hunt. And Veceslav had chosen a cleric of his own, long ago, but their name was lost to history, and he re- fused to talk about them. The recorded histories never spoke of clerics who could hear more than one god. That Nadya com- muned with the entire pantheon was a rarity the priests who trained her could not explain.

There was a chance older, more primordial gods existed, ones that had long since given up watch of the world and left it in the care of the others. But no one knew for sure. Of the twenty known gods, however, carvings and paintings depicted their human forms, though no one knew what they actually looked like. No cleric throughout history had ever looked upon the faces of the gods. No saint, nor priest.

Each had their own power and magic they could bestow upon Nadya, and while some were forthcoming, others were not. She had never spoken to the goddess of the moons, My- esta. She wasn’t even sure what manner of power the goddess would give, if she so chose.

And though she could commune with many gods, it was im- possible to forget just who had chosen her for this fate: Mar- zenya, the goddess of death and magic, who expected complete dedication.

Indistinct voices murmured in the dark. She and Anna had found a secluded place within a copse of thick pine trees to set up their tent, but it no longer felt safe. Nadya slid a voryen from underneath her bedroll and nudged Anna awake.

She moved to the mouth of the tent, grasping at her beads, a prayer already forming on her lips, smoky symbols trailing from her mouth. She could see the blurry impressions of fig- ures in the darkness, far off in the distance. It was hard to judge the number, two? Five? Ten? Her heart sped at the possibility that a company of Tranavians were already on her trail.

Anna drew up beside her. Nadya’s grip on her voryen tight- ened, but she kept still. If they hadn’t seen their tent yet, she could keep them from noticing it entirely.

But Anna’s hand clasped her forearm.

“Wait,” she whispered, her breath frosting out before her in the cold. She pointed to a dark spot just off to the side of the group.

Nadya pressed her thumb against Bozidarka’s bead and her eyesight sharpened until she could see as clearly as if it were day. It took effort to shove aside the immediate, paralyzing fear as her suspicions were confirmed and Tranavian uniforms be- came clear. It wasn’t a full company. In fact, they looked rather ragged. Perhaps they had split off and lost their way.

More interesting, though, was the boy with a crossbow si- lently aiming into the heart of the group.

“We can get away before they notice,” Anna said.

Nadya almost agreed, almost slipped her voryen back into its sheath, but just then, the boy fired and the trees erupted into chaos. Nadya wasn’t willing to use an innocent’s life as a distraction for her own cowardice. Not again.

Even as Anna protested, Nadya let a prayer form fully in her mind, hand clutching at Horz’s bead on her necklace and its constellation of stars. Symbols fell from her lips like glow- ing glimmers of smoke and every star in the sky winked out.

Well, that was more extreme than I intended, Nadya thought with a wince. I should’ve known better than to ask Horz for any- thing.

She could hear cursing as the world plunged into darkness.

Anna sighed in exasperation beside her.

“Just stay back,” she hissed as she moved confidently through the dark.

“Nadya . . .” Anna’s groan was soft.

It took more focus to send a third prayer to Bozetjeh. It was hard to catch Bozetjeh on a good day; the god of speed was notoriously slow to answer prayers. But she managed to snag his attention and received a spell allowing her to move as fast as the vicious Kalyazin wind.

Her initial count had been wrong; there were six Tranavians now scattering into the forest. The boy dropped his crossbow with a bewildered look up into the sky, startling when Nadya touched his shoulder.

There was no way he could see in this darkness, but she could. When he whirled, a curved sword in his hand, Nadya sidestepped. His swing went wide and she shoved him in the direction of a fleeing Tranavian, anticipating their collision.

Find the rest,Marzenya hissed. Kill them all. Complete and total dedication.

She caught up to one of the figures, stabbing her voryen into his skull just underneath his ear.

Not so difficult this time, she thought. But the knowledge was a distant thing.

Blood sprayed, splattering a second Tranavian, who cried out in alarm. Before the second man could figure out what had happened to his companion, she lashed out her heel, catching him squarely on the jaw and knocking him off his feet. She slit his throat.

Three more. They couldn’t have moved far. Nadya took up Bozidarka’s bead again. The goddess of vision revealed where the last Tranavians were located. The boy with the sword had managed to kill two in the dark. Nadya couldn’t actually see the last one, just felt him nearby, very much alive.

Something slammed into Nadya’s back and suddenly the chilling bite of a blade was pressed against her throat. The boy appeared in front of her, his crossbow back in his hands, thank- fully not pointed at Nadya. It was clear he could only barely see her. He wasn’t Kalyazi, but Akolan.

A fair number of Akolans had taken advantage of the war between their neighbors, hiring out their swords for profit on both sides. They were known for favoring Tranavia simply because of the warmer climate. It was rare to find a creature of the desert willingly stumbling through Kalyazin’s snow.

He spoke a fluid string of words she didn’t understand. His posture was languid, as if he hadn’t nearly been torn to pieces by blood mages. The blade against Nadya’s throat pressed harder. A colder voice responded to him, the foreign language scratched uncomfortably at her ears.

Nadya only knew the three primary languages of Kalyazin and passing Tranavian. If she wasn’t going to be able to communicate with them . . .

The boy said something else and Nadya heard the girl sigh before she felt the blade slip away. “What’s a little Kalyazi as- sassin doing out in the middle of the mountains?” he asked, switching to perfect Kalyazi.

Nadya was very aware of the boy’s friend at her back. “I could ask the same of you.”

She shifted Bozidarka’s spell, sharpening her vision further. The boy had skin like molten bronze and long hair with gold chains threaded through his loose curls.

He grinned.

 

Piqued your interest? Wicked Saints is out now so check out this new fantasy novel today!

 

Happy reading!

The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for my honest review!

So … I am majorly behind when it comes to my ARC list and I have been a bit too overwhelmed by it to really catch up. But all of that ends with this book! This has been the first ARC I have read in a while and hopefully, it will signal the first step in my goal to improve my Netgalley approval rating (because it is super low right now)! But enough about that, let’s get on with the review:

35620124Summary (Goodreads): When an explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered.

A year later, Cecily is in mourning. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend inside. Kate, now living thousands of miles away, fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won’t catch up with her. And Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building.

Now, despite the marks left by the tragedy, they all seem safe. But as its anniversary dominates the media, the memories of that terrifying morning become dangerous triggers. All these women are guarding important secrets. Just how far will they go to keep them?

 


Review: As much as I wanted to love this book, sadly, I just didn’t. And I think a lot of it has to do with the approach the author took for writing this story.

Let me tell you some of the things I liked about this story first:

I really like that the story featured 3 very different female characters. Usually, I find that most authors create very similar main characters, but with this book, Cecily, Kate, and Franny all had their own distinct voice and mannerisms. I also liked that the story was told from their perspectives: Cecily and Kate had their own chapters, whereas Franny’s POV was presented in an interview format; I really liked the inclusion of this latter style because it created a nice break from the conventional writing format and kept me interested.

But now, it’s time to talk about why this novel ultimately didn’t work for me …

Initially, this book was presented as a thriller. Now, I love thrillers, and read a TON of them (as you can probably tell from my reviews)! But with this novel, there was a huge element of the story that focused on the emotional side of things, and there was a big focus on depression. I like that the author attempted to highlight the emotional toll that losing a partner can take, and how guilt carries on and prevents people from moving on. But for some reason, it just didn’t work for me. Even though there was all of this emotional character development, I still felt very detached from the characters; it almost felt like I was being told what the character was feeling and why they were feeling rather than shown, and I would have preferred the latter because it would have allowed me to empathize and connect better with them.

I also don’t think this story really should be classified as a thriller because it just wasn’t that thrilling. The twists weren’t that big and the whole emotional aspect of the story detracted from any feelings of … well … suspense. Whenever there was a potentially thrilling occurrence, it was either dropped too quickly or not followed up on and I found that quite disappointing. The few twists and turns that were there also just made me frustrated because they weren’t really shocking reveals as much as just going back and forth about the same thing. My train of thought the entire time was just “Ok, here’s something suspicious that someone said, but oh nope turns out it’s wrong, and then wait nope we are back to that again and apparently we were right the first time” and that gets old reeeeaaaal quick. To me, that isn’t a thriller, it’s just a heap of confusion masquerading as a thriller and it makes me really frustrated.

I know it seems like I really hated this book. While there were things that were wrong with it, I still ended up finishing it and wanting to know how the story ended – so that must mean there was some level of success in the author’s ability to pique my interest. Either way, this wasn’t the best thriller I have ever read … but I’ve read a lot worse. I think that the premise was interesting and the writing style was good, but if this novel had been branded differently and not as a thriller, I would have had different expectations from it and probably enjoyed it more. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

2 star

Happy reading ~

Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings – Killing Eve #1

I was drawn to this novel because of the hit new TV show Killing Eve. I saw a trailer for the show ages ago and immediately knew I wanted to watch it – it looked so cool and featured some very strong female actresses! Now … I still haven’t gotten around to watching it because … life is busy and my TV binge list is just as long as my TBR list. But I decided to do the next best thing – I read the book that inspired the creation of the show!

36546651Summary (Goodreads): Villanelle (a codename, of course) is one of the world’s most skilled assassins. A catlike psychopath whose love for the creature comforts of her luxurious lifestyle is second only to her love of the game, she specializes in murdering the world’s richest and most powerful. But when she murders an influential Russian politician, she draws a relentless foe to her tail.
Eve Polastri (not a codename) is a former MI6 operative hired by the national security services for a singular task: to find and capture or kill the assassin responsible, and those who have aided her. Eve, whose quiet and otherwise unextraordinary life belies her quick wit and keen intellect, accepts the mission.
The ensuing chase will lead them on a trail around the world, intersecting with corrupt governments and powerful criminal organizations, all leading towards a final confrontation from which neither will emerge unscathed.

 


Review: So …. I finished reading it. And while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t go crazy over it.

The story is interesting but I have to admit, there was really nothing new when it came to this book. Villanelle is a psychopath who does a great job as a spy. But her character just wasn’t that unique to me. Maybe I read too many messed-up books but I could name quite a few psychopathic characters that were a lot better than her! The only thing that stood out for me about Villanelle was the way the author always used cat-like descriptions of her … and I didn’t really like that.

The story also wasn’t really that interesting. It was similar to Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews by Jason Matthews, except that all the main characters were female. Even then, I preferred Red Sparrow because the main character there had an interesting condition and was intelligent whereas Villanelle really didn’t have anything going for her.

I will say that I enjoyed the description of the events; they had the right amount of violence, and showed the cold, calculated behaviour that you would hope and expect from a killer.

Overall, this novel came off as a bit generic and didn’t really excite me too much. I will be watching the TV show soon, however, so hopefully I will enjoy that more. For now, this book gets a 2/5 stars from me.

2 star

Have any of you read this book? Who has watched the show Killing Eve? Is there a difference between the two? I would love to know so share your thoughts in the comments section!

Happy reading ~

All The Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

I am such a fan of retellings of classic fairy tales and stories. I’ve read quite a few that have featured Cinderella but I’m always searching for a new take on this classic and I was really excited to give this one a shot! Here is my review:

36099691.jpgSummary (Goodreads): We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, a woman who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. But what unfolds is not the princess’s history. The tale Agnes recounts is her own.

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice at Aviceford Manor when she is just ten years old. Alone, friendless, and burdened with a grueling workload, Agnes carves a place for herself in this cold place that is home to Sir Emont Vis-de-Loup, a melancholic and capricious drunkard.

Using her wits and ingenuity, Agnes eventually escapes and makes her way toward a hopeful future, serving as a housemaid for the powerful Abbess Elfilda. But life once again holds unexpected, sometimes heartbreaking twists that lead Agnes back to Aviceford Manor, where she becomes nursemaid to Ella, Emont’s sensitive, otherworldly daughter. Though she cares for Ella, Agnes struggles to love this child, who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, ultimately, the celebrated princess who embodies all our unattainable fantasies.

 


Review: This was quite an interesting story, told from the perspective of Cinderella’s stepmother – a voice I had never heard from until now. And I’m really glad I did!

The author really changed the story of Cinderella but still managed to keep the basic framework recognizable for fans of the original tale. It was interesting having the villainous character take the spotlight, and have her turn out to not be a villain after all. The author created a very unique character in Agnes, and watching her grow up and learn about the harsh realities of life and still make something of herself is admirable. There were so many moments where I really connected with her, which made me really enjoy reading this book. Unlike in the classic tale, Agnes was a fully-fleshed out character in this tale, as were her daughters. If anything, it was Cinderella’s character that bothered me the most; I really found her annoying and the fact that she became queen (which I know is inevitable – but still!) just seemed unfair because, well, she didn’t deserve it! As you can tell, I became quite invested in the lives of the characters – and that’s always a good sign!

In terms of the writing style, I had mixed feelings about it. The prose was beautiful and lyrical and I really liked the shifts between the past and present that gave us a fuller picture of the events that transpired. However, the story moved at quite a slow pace and there were times when nothing really happened. I would say that this story might have benefited from being cut a little shorter at some points, but I also feel that if this novel was shortened, it wouldn’t create as nice of a picture or setting as it does now.

Regardless, I found this novel to be a very unique variation to a classic story that changed my perception of a character that was always portrayed as “evil”. I enjoyed reading this book and felt very drawn to the main character. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to reading more by this author. For now, I’m giving it a solid 3/5 stars!

3 star

Happy reading ~

The Wicked King by Holly Black – The Folk of the Air #2

I have been sooooo excited to read this book, considering how much I adored The Cruel Prince!

This book has also been highly anticipated by many Holly Black fans and others in the book community, so the hype was definitely there. I waited quite a while to read this book (even though the anticipation was KILLING me) because I didn’t want to be swayed by anyone else’s opinion …. so here are my thoughts:

26032887Summary (Goodreads): You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

 


Review:  I would highly recommend if you don’t remember what happened in The Cruel Prince that you read it right before reading this book because the story takes off right where the previous one ended.

Once again, the author did a great job with pacing and characterization. There was never a dull moment in the story, which means the reader is always kept hooked to the story. The characters also stay true to their nature, which is something I always appreciate because there are many cases where the things you loved about a character tend to disappear as the series progresses. If anything, some of the characters seemed to reveal their treacherous nature even more, which just made this novel even more enjoyable for me. The one thing I will mention is that I wasn’t as enchanted with Jude as I used to be; for a character that is constantly mentioning how deceptive this world is and how careful she must be with her trust, she really does a bad job of avoiding traps. Nevertheless, her misadventures and attempts to get out of sticky situations got my heart pumping and she had my support throughout the story.

The one thing I couldn’t help noticing – and maybe this is just a small pet peeve of mine – is that the language being used in the story was not always consistent with the setting. For instance, Jude and some of the other characters in faerie would use common modern slang at times, which was incongruent with their position in the faerie court and the world that they were in. Now, I know Jude is human and would visit the human world, so I can excuse her use of slang but why characters like Cardan or other fae would do so just made no sense to me.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book. It had great pacing, plenty of twists and turns to keep readers interested, and the same awesome characters I fell for in The Cruel Prince. I cannot wait to see what the author will come up with in the next book in this series: Queen of Nothing! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

4 star

Happy reading ~

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

My first encounter with Claire Legrand was when I read the book Furyborn. I absolutely loved it and I’m still eagerly anticipating the sequel. In the meantime, I found out that Legrand was releasing another novel and I knew I had to get my hands on it ASAP! So here I am, having read it and I’m finally ready to share my thoughts:

38139409Summary (Goodreads): Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep. He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

 


Review: While I thought this story was interesting, it didn’t quite hold the spark for me that Furyborn did.

I really liked that it featured 3 strong female characters who were all very different. Marion was a girl who was consumed by grief and while she could be annoying at times, her behaviour and personality made sense with what was happening in her life. Zoey was spunky and asexual and the kind of character you always want to root for. My personal favourite character was Val. She may seem like the typical popular “bitchy” girl, but there is so much more to her and the story really allows you to connect with her.

But apart from the character development and their interactions with each other, I didn’t really enjoy the story. I think my two biggest problems with this book was that it felt childish at times and that there were too many themes that the author was trying to address all at one go.

In terms of maturity, this novel was a bit too childish even for a teen read. I think my comments regarding this stem from my experience with Furyborn: while that was also a teen read, it had some maturity to it that made me take the story seriously. My feelings about this book might be a bit unfair in that I’m comparing these 2 novels together but it did affect my ability to enjoy this novel.

There were quite a few themes that the author tried to explore in this story …. but I felt that it was detrimental to the story in the sense that none of the themes were really explored as fully as they could be and it detracted from the story itself, leaving many vague plot points that the reader just had to deal with. Throughout the story, I was left with tons of questions that were just never answered. For instance, where did the monster that terrorized these girls come from? Why was the rock (is it a rock, is it the earth, is it the island?!) talking to these girls? And where did this random organization come from?! There were so many things that the reader was just supposed to accept and that really didn’t work for me. I want proper world-building and explanations for things or else I just can’t enjoy the story! Perhaps if the author had focused her attention on this rather than trying to shove in a bunch of feminist themes, it would have been better.

Now, before you take offense, I do think the themes that the author brought in were important. They should be addressed and we need more books that talk about sexuality and the struggles of women to be recognized as independent, to be more than just sacrificial lambs. But this just happened in bursts here and there and wasn’t fully developed. While the intent was great, the execution didn’t really work, making it a moot point.

Overall, this story had a lot of potential and it had an interesting plot. However, the execution was just not where I wanted it to be. I’m still looking forward to reading more by this author because Furyborn was absolutely fantastic. But this book gets a 2/5 stars from me.

2 star

Happy reading ~

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When I saw this title at my library, I knew I had to get my hands on this book. As an Indian-Canadian, I was really excited to read a book that showed what life is like for a child growing up “indian” while being raised in a Western country. So here are my thoughts:

28458598Summary (Goodreads): Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

 


Review:

This book made me very happy and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! It was fun, it was a fresh perspective, and it was just downright adorable when it came to romance! I can go on and on about this book but I’m going to try to break it down into specific sections that I think were done really well:

First of all, the author created some wonderfully memorable characters. Dimple is such an amazing protagonist, fierce yet sensitive and full of spunk. It’s easy to connect with her and you really want to root for her! Compared to Dimple, Rishi’s character is much softer, but still likable. Just because he has a gentler and more romantic personality in no way means he is a pushover, and the way he stands up for his beliefs is admirable. It is easy to see how the two of them have this natural friendship and chemistry, and readers can’t help but “ship” them!

One of the things I really loved about this book is the way it explored parental pressure in an Indian family setting. As someone in her 20s, I could really empathize with Dimple, who was being pressured to consider marriage instead of focus on her career. This is something I’m going through currently, and let me tell you, it is NOT fun! The author explores this in such a way that even people who haven’t necessarily experienced this can still understand what Dimple is feeling and going through. The author also ensured that she showed both sides of the situation, through Rishi’s character and his own acceptance and support of arranged marriage.

Not only was the plot interesting, the writing style also made the story very readable. I loved that the author had alternating chapters from Rishi and Dimple’s point of view to give a fuller picture and see what was going on in each of their heads. It made this such a cute read and there were so many times when I would internally “aww” over something Rishi or Dimple said/thought about the other person. It’s always nice to see both people’s feelings evolve in a romance, and the author definitely delivers on that front.

All in all, this book was a major success for me. It is unique in its representation of second-generation Indians and their struggle to assimilate into the Western culture while still adhering to Indian traditions. It also highlighted the importance of females in STEM, and how girls should never have to give up on their dreams. And it had one of the cutest romances ever, and I completely fell in love with Rishi and Dimple and their growing chemistry. For those reasons, I’m giving this book a 5/5 stars!

5 star

Happy reading ~

Sadie by Courtney Summers

When I read the synopsis for this book, I thought this would be right down my alley. You know how much I love reading books that are seriously messed up, and a revenge story with this premise DEFINITELY fit into that category. But after reading this novel, I must say that this is so much more than that. Here are my thoughts:

34810320Summary (Goodreads): Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.


Review:

Wow. This book. Wow. I’m struggling to write this review because there is just so much I want to say about this novel. To say it messed me up would be an understatement because it SERIOUSLY messed me up. And I mean that in the best way. This novel has a lot of triggers for child abuse and assault so please do keep that in mind if you plan on picking it up.

The story has a very unique writing style in that it is told mostly through Sadie’s perspective but also through a podcast, where you can read the transcripts (or listen to them, if you have an audiobook version – and I really recommend that experience). This allows the reader to see the story from an outsider’s view, which is very much appreciated because it just added more depth and realism to the story.

There is so much going on in this story from an emotional perspective. As the plot shows Sadie’s journey to get justice for her sister’s murder, we also see Sadie handle her grief and get a glimpse into what her life has been like. And let me tell you, it is heart-wrenching. The author does not hold back the punches when delving into dark material like abuse, murder, pedophilia, and sexual assault. Readers get to really understand the experiences that Sadie has been through and how she has tried to stay strong and be mature for her sister. I loved Sadie’s character, even though there were times when I didn’t feel like I could connect with – at times, her reticence made her distant to the reader. But the rawness of the emotions, and the significance of the message of the story were so real and I was completely drawn into Sadie’s world.

There aren’t very many books that I say everyone should read. But this is one of those books. It is gripping, it is heartbreaking and it is completely relevant. If you haven’t tried this novel, I highly recommend that you do. I’m giving this book 5/5 stars!

5 star

Happy reading ~

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

So remember how I said I was back? Well …. it seems I lied. Once again, I underestimated my workload and put too much on my plate. But fear not, I have continued to read and I think (and I say this very hesitantly) that I am ready to get back into writing blog posts. I have a lot of books I want to get through and I feel quite motivated to do so …. and I thought this book would be a great one to start with, so let’s get started!

13623848Summary (Goodreads): Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.


Review:

To say I loved this book would not do it justice. It was absolutely amazing and months after reading it, I am still in awe of the author’s ability to create this vivid and fantastic story.

I went into this book completely blind; apart from vaguely knowing that Achilles was a Greek hero who fought in Troy, I knew nothing about this Greek legend. This story was so different than anything I have previously read and the direction of the story was not what I was expecting at all – and I mean this in the best way possible!

One of the first things that drew me to this book was the writing style. Told from the perspective of Patroclus, the prose is lyrical and rich in its detail. Every single scene, every single character, every interaction was fleshed out beautifully, giving it a realistic feel that the reader could really believe in. The author manages to accomplish this while still maintaining the simplicity of the language, making it easy to just keep reading.

I also thought the author went about telling this story in a very intelligent way. Rather than focusing on the actual fighting that usually is the central point of the Iliad, the author chose to explore the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles, and by doing so, she revealed a side to Achilles that I don’t think many people will have seen or read before. Instead of being this strong, untouchable demigod, Achilles has been rendered as a simple man, capable of love and humor. Achilles is given a personality that readers can connect with, which makes us understand why people were so enamored by him, why Patroclus loved him as much as he did. And while Achilles is definitely the star of the show, Patroclus’ character is in no way diminished by him. In fact, it is easy to see how this is the story of Patroclus, as we get to read about a character that is usually kept in the sidelines. While this means that the story didn’t necessarily have a great deal of action, it gave a lot of depth and nuance to a tale that most people are very familiar with.

The ending of this novel had me in tears, which is really a testament to how strongly the author made me connect with the characters. The love (because really, this is a love story over all else) between Patroclus and Achilles is timeless and strong and enduring; it is everything you dream of when you think of love. I was rooting for them from the start and seeing their love bloom and endure was absolutely beautiful. I was moved by their emotions and the lengths they would go for each other, and there was never a moment where I didn’t believe in their love for each other, even though they never declared their love for each other in the story.

At the end of the day, this was a masterful rendition of the story of Achilles, and one that I would encourage everyone to read. At the heart of it, this is a love story and it is a beautiful and tragic one, which will definitely make you emotional. I am so glad that I picked this book up, and I cannot wait to read more from this author. It should come as no surprise, then, that I’m giving this a 5/5 stars!

5 star

Happy reading ~