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Amid Stars and Darkness (The Xenith Trilogy, #1) by Chani Lynn Feener
Series: The Xenith Trilogy #1
Published by Swoon Reads on July 18, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Delaney’s entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on Earth in order to escape an arranged marriage.

Kidnapped by the princess’s head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race.
No pressure or anything.

Factor in Trystan, the princess’s terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets, and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.

Get lost Amid Stars and Darkness, in this YA sci-fi romance from debut author Chani Lynn Feener.

My Thoughts:

Science fiction has never really been my thing but every now and then I’ll grab a sci-fi novel off my shelf and give it a go. That’s what happened with Amid Stars and Darkness. I hadn’t really heard anything about this one but the cover definitely convinced me that I had to have it. I actually ended up loving this one so it’s one time being a cover whore totally paid off.

Amid Stars and Darkness is published by Swoon Reads and it’s obvious from the start that romance is a central feature of the story. While the romance did take center stage, there was enough going on with the rest of the story to make it clear that this wasn’t just a romance. There was a true plot running through this one and it was actually a really interesting one. These aliens are not like any you’ve read about before. And while I did get some Lunar Chronicles vibes from this book, it was actually a pretty unique story.

By far the biggest issue I had with this one was the love triangle. I am definitely over the love triangle trend so I could have done without that. However, both guys had traits that made me understand why Delaney would have feelings for them both.

Overall, Amid Stars and Darkness is a solid start to this science fiction trilogy. It’s got a killer cliffhanger but at least book two is almost here!

What others are saying about Amid Stars and Darkness:

Midnight Bloom Reads’ review: “Chani Lynn Feener’s Amid Stars and Darkness is a fun, thrilling light science fiction romance!”

One Way or An Author’s review: “With superficial world-building, a predictable plot with kickass action, and a sweet romance that I never really got invested in, Amid Stars and Darkness was a fun, light adventure in space.”

The post Amid Stars And Darkness (The Xenith Trilogy #1) by Chani Lynn Feener | Review appeared first on Menagerie of Thoughts.

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Renegades (Renegades, #1) by Marissa Meyer
Series: Renegades #1
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 7th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 576
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal.
Secret Identities.Extraordinary Powers.She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Welcome to my stop on the Renegades blog tour!  Check out some more information on the book as well as some of my favorite literary heroes!

These are in no particular order because it would just be cruel to make me sort these.  I love them all.

10. Katniss Everdeen | The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

9. Harry Potter | The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

8. Celaena Sardothien | The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

7. Nemesis | The Diabolic series by S. J. Kincaid

6. Elisa | The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson

5. Ismae, Sybella, and Annith | The His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers

4. Will Scarlet | The Scarlet trilogy by A.C. Gaughen

3. Karou | The Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor

2. Cassel Sharpe | The Curse Workers series by Holly Black

1. Alina Starkov | The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

I realized after compiling this list that pretty much all of my ‘heroes’ may not always act heroic.  They all have pretty dark sides to them as well as the light.  I think that’s probably why I love them best.  I’m excited to dive in to Renegades and add some more heroes and villains to my lists of favorites.

Do you agree with any of my choices?  Is there anyone you would add to this list?
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For the longest time, I was on the hunt for the perfect Harry Potter subscription box.  It’s my favorite fandom and I feel like I can never own enough Harry Potter merchandise.  When I discovered the World of Wizardry subscription box from Geek Gear, I was a little nervous.  I checked out some reviews and unboxing photos and decided to give it a chance.  I’ve been getting it for over 6 months now and I have yet to be disappointed by a box.

The company: Geek Gear

About:  Geek Gear is a UK based company that offers many subscription boxes.  They have the traditional Geek Gear box, the World of Wizardry box, the World of Wizardry Wearable box, and they have just introduced Geek Gear and World of Wizardry Geek Gear Pinz subscription boxes.  Each World of Wizardry box includes one t-shirt and 4-5 other items.  Each month is obviously Harry Potter themed.

Complete box contents:

Included in the July box was:

  • Newt Scamander t-shirt
  • Harry and Hedwig exclusive enamel pin
  • House colors bow
  • replica Snape wand
  • Chamber of Secrets medallion
  • Harry Potter replica glasses
  • Niffler print

The t-shirt and print have always been one of my favorite things about the World of Wizardry box.  I find that the Harry Potter t-shirts sold in stores are so generic.  Geek Gear includes an exclusive design each month which can’t be found anywhere else.  The t-shirts are also super soft which is one of the best things about them.  The prints are also typically exclusive to Geek Gear.  Some months you will get multiple prints but each month at least one is included.  The Niffler artwork this month is so unique and I can’t wait to see what it looks like in a frame.

This is the second month they have included an exclusive enamel pin and it’s so perfect.  I haven’t taken it out of the box yet (it looks so good in there!) so I can’t speak to the quality but the design is adorable.  Harry looks a little orange in the photos I took but he’s not that orange in real life.

The medallion, glasses, and wand are all exact replicas from the movies.  The medallion comes in a plastic display case (which is why there is such a glare in the photos).  It’s also extremely heavy.  The glasses are surprisingly sturdy.  I was expecting cheap plastic glasses but these are actually metal. As for the wand, it’s my favorite item.  I’ve gotten 3 wands from Geek Gear and each one is perfect.  This one has all the details of Snape’s wand and it’s extremely sturdy.  You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this wand and one purchased from Universal Studios.  I know because I have Harry’s wand from Universal and you can’t tell the difference between it and the one I got from Geek Gear.

Last but not least, the house colors bow.  Each month they include something specific to whatever house you chose when you subscribed.  This time just happened to be a little bow.  I’m not sure that I’ll ever actually wear it but it’s cute and good quality.

Overall, the World of Wizardry box from Geek Gear is at the top of my recommendation list for Harry Potter fans.  They’ve already shipped out boxes for August but subscriptions are still open for September’s box.  You can also check out the shop to purchase items from past boxes.

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League of American Traitors by Matthew Landis
Published by Sky Pony Press on August 8th 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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National Treasure meets Hamilton in a breathless history-based thriller from an outstanding new voice.

Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. . . .

When seventeen year-old Jasper is approached at the funeral of his deadbeat father by a man claiming to be an associate of his deceased parents, he’s thrust into a world of secrets tied to America’s history—and he’s right at the heart of it.

First, Jasper finds out he is the sole surviving descendant of Benedict Arnold, the most notorious traitor in American history. Then he learns that his father’s death was no accident. Jasper is at the center of a war that has been going on for centuries, in which the descendants of the heroes and traitors of the American Revolution still duel to the death for the sake of their honor.

His only hope to escape his dangerous fate on his eighteenth birthday? Take up the research his father was pursuing at the time of his death, to clear Arnold’s name.

Whisked off to a boarding school populated by other descendants of notorious American traitors, it’s a race to discover the truth. But if Jasper doesn’t find a way to uncover the evidence his father was hunting for, he may end up paying for the sins of his forefathers with his own life.

Like a mash-up of National Treasure and Hamilton, Matthew Landis’s debut spins the what-ifs of American history into a heart-pounding thriller steeped in conspiracy, clue hunting, and danger.

My Thoughts:

Oh, how I wanted to love League of American Traitors.  It had such a promising premise but the execution just didn’t work for me.  While it’s a quick read that definitely has it’s fun moments, there just didn’t anything that makes it stand out among the many other young adult novels available these days.

From the very beginning of the book, I had issues with the plot.  Everything was just so unbelievable.  I’m sure there are many descendants of American heroes and traitors but for them to get together and duel each other seems a little sketchy.  Also, why the heck are the descendants of these people so angry?  These people can seriously hold grudges.  We’re talking about descendants of George Washington challenging the descendant of Benedict Arnold even though they are all just teenagers who have no control over what their ancestors may or may not have done.

The teenage characters were very easy to like and had fun personalities, even if some were a little over the top.  Lacy and Sheldon were definitely my favorites.  Lacy was kind of the ringleader.  She took charge of the investigation into Benedict Arnold.  Sheldon was the comic relief of the group.  Tucker was the whiz kid with an odd personality.  He didn’t interact with many people and he didn’t seem to have many emotional reactions to people or things.  He was hard to get a good read on.  As for Jasper, the main character, he didn’t have much of a personality either.  I didn’t understand most of his motives or his reactions to things.  For instance, his dad died and all Jasper could talk about was how much he hated the guy.  Then he spent the whole book discovering tiny little details about his dad that made him immediately forgive him and think that maybe he didn’t know him after all.  I could possibly understand this if he discovered some huge secret about his dad that made up for 17 years of abandonment but that wasn’t the case.

The historical aspect of the book was really what drew me in and while it was a fun part of the story, it wasn’t developed well at all.  I understand the National Treasure reference but don’t let that get your hopes up.  National Treasure has a much more believable backstory than League of American Traitors and it’s actually fleshed out, unlike this story.  The whole Benedict Arnold conspiracy theory was so flimsy and had almost nothing to back it up.  This whole story was based on the truth but Matthew Landis had the chance to add to history in any way he wanted.  Instead, he added very little and what he did add wasn’t anything substantial or all that interesting.

Overall, League of American Traitors read kind of like the first draft of a book.  The details needed to really make this a unique and interesting read just weren’t there.

What others are saying about League of American Traitors:

The Literary Llama’s review: “Overall, it was a great idea, but there needed to be stronger motivators.”

Bookwormaniac’s review: “The concept was well-thought of, however the execution was the one extremely lacking.”

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The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Published by Penguin Books on June 24th 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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Another New York Times bestseller by the author of Me Before You—a spellbinding story of two women united in their fight for what they love most

Jojo Moyes’s word-of-mouth bestseller, Me Before You, catapulted her to wide critical acclaim and struck a chord with a wide range of readers everywhere. Now, with The Girl You Left Behind, Moyes returns with another irresistible heartbreaker—a breathtaking story of love, loss, and sacrifice told with her signature ability to capture our hearts.

Paris, 1916. Sophie Lefèvre must keep her family safe while her adored husband, Édouard, fights at the front. When their town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Sophie is forced to serve them every evening at her hotel. From the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie’s portrait—painted by her artist husband—a dangerous obsession is born, one that will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision. Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before his sudden death. After a chance encounter reveals the portrait’s true worth, a battle begins over its troubled history and Liv’s world is turned upside all over again.

My Thoughts:

While browsing my local thrift store, I stumbled upon a copy of The Girl You Left Behind.  After hearing such wonderful things about Jojo Moyes’ books, I figured I’d pick it up.  While it’s not my usual reading material, I found myself hooked on the story and the characters drew me in from the very first page.

The Girl You Left Behind alternates between 1917 and 2007.  Obviously this means that there are two sets of characters.  Readers are introduced to the first set in part one, featuring Sophie Lefevre, the subject matter of the painting titled ‘The Girl You Left Behind.’  Sophie’s story is the one that truly fascinated me.  She is a French women living in a German occupied town during World War I.  She finds herself the subject of unwanted admiration from the Kommandant stationed in her town.  When it is revealed to her that her husband has been sent to a work camp, she takes it upon herself to find a way to reunite them, however she can.

Liv Halston takes over the story at part two.  ‘The Girl You Left Behind’ is now in her possession, a gift bought by her husband while on their honeymoon.  The Lefevre family has recently discovered the existence of the painting and they will do anything in their power to get it back.  Liv and the painting become part of a grueling court case where the Lefevre family sets out to prove that the painting was stolen by the Kommandant during World War I and therefore should never have been in Liv’s possession.  Had it been a normal case, Liv may have given the painting up but she always felt a connection to Sophie and it was plain to see that the Lefevre family only wanted the painting for it’s monetary value.  While I did find Liv to be a bit annoying and rigid at times, I couldn’t help but feel for her and her reasoning for wanting to keep the painting in her possession.

Part One of The Girl You Left Behind was probably the most captivating part of the book while also being the slowest part.  While a ton of information was given to the reader in such a small section of the book, it never once felt like the information was just being dumped on the reader.  Both Sophie’s and Liv’s voices were distinct and engaging.  The two women may have made some very poor decisions but it was impossible not to root for a happy ending for both of them.  I felt so invested in their stories that by the end, I had laughed, cried, and smiled so much, right alongside them.

Overall, The Girl You Left Behind is a truly remarkable story.  Jojo Moyes is an author who deserves the praise she has been given.  I look forward to reading more of her books and now it’s just a matter of deciding which one to start next!

What others are saying about The Girl You Left Behind:

Aestas Book Blog’s review: “In complete honesty, this isn’t a ‘drop-everything-to-read-it’ book (at least, in my opinion), but it was still quite good and I enjoyed it!”

Between the Covers’ review: “I’d recommend The Girl You Left Behind to readers interested in WWI-era historical fiction; it’s a very personal story rather than a sweeping view of the events of WWI, and a book that I think many people will enjoy.”

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I’ve been subscribed to Nerdy Post for quite some time now.  I was on the lookout for a bookish/fandom subscription box that didn’t necessarily include a book.  Nerdy Post popped up on my radar and after looking at unboxings for the first few months, I took the plunge.  The Outlander box was the first one I subscribed to and I have never once regretted my subscription.  Each month just keeps getting better.  The July theme was Alice in Wonderland and while I’m not that knowledgeable about the books or movies, I decided to get the box anyway.  I’m very glad I did.

The company: Nerdy Post 

About: Nerdy Post is a subscription box featuring hand lettered and illustrated fandom artwork.  Each month is a new theme. You can get the traditional Nerdy Post box featuring just the bookish decor items, the Nerdy Tees box featuring just the T-shirt design associated with the month’s theme, or the Nerdy Combo box featuring both the decor items and the t-shirt.

Complete box contents (minus the 2 sided bookmark that I’ll show later):

Included in the July box was:

  • a two sided bookmark with one design from Riddle’s Tea Shoppe and one from Nerdy Post
  • a magnetic bookmark from Beedooto
  • a mirror with a design from Nerdy Post
  • a poster designed by TJ Lubrano
  • a poster designed by Nerdy Post
  • a postcard designed by Nerdy Post
  • a notepad designed by Nerdy Post
  • a coloring postcard designed by Nerdy Post
  • a sticker designed by Nerdy Post

The inclusion of other artists is one of the things I love about Nerdy Post.  The items from Nerdy Post are always wonderful but the different artists each month bring something new to the box.  This month I’m torn between favorite items.  I adore the bookmark with the design from Riddle’s Tea Shoppe but the unicorn postcard print is absolutely adorable.

The quality of the items is definitely worth the price.  This past month, two posters were included so the poster print was a thinner paper.  In the past, when it’s just been one poster, it’s been printed on a thicker paper that definitely holds up a little better.  However, I always plan to frame the posters included in the box so the quality of the paper doesn’t make a huge difference to me.  If you had plans to display the posters without some kind of frame, the paper might be a little too fragile.

The postcards, bookmarks, sticker, and notepad are all very high quality.  I display my postcards in my cubicle at work and they have held up great without any frame or protection.  The stickers are thick and matte print.  I’ve yet to find the perfect place to put all of mine but a couple are currently taking up space on my laptop.  As for the bookmarks, I’m almost afraid to use these because they are so gorgeous!  They are printed on very good quality, thick paper.  I admit, I have actually used a couple of mine (rather than finding a random receipt to hold my place) and they barely even show that I’ve used them.

Overall, Nerdy Post is at the top of my list when suggesting possible subscription boxes for the nerdy people in your life.  August’s theme is ‘Back to Hogwarts’ and I am eagerly awaiting it’s arrival.  While it’s too late to subscribe for August, September’s theme is Pixar and subscriptions are open until August 31st.  You can also check out the Nerdy Post Store for full and partial previous boxes as well as their one time bookmark box which is currently available for pre-order. (You can bet your ass I have already pre-ordered that one.)

Have you received a Nerdy Post box in the past or do you have this subscription box on your wishlist?  What’s your favorite subscription box at the moment?

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Little Monsters by Kara Thomas
Published by Delacorte Press on July 25th 2017
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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For fans of Pretty Little Liars, Little Monsters is a new psychological thriller, from the author of The Darkest Corners, about appearances versus reality and the power of manipulation amongst teenage girls.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

My Thoughts:

I’ve finally found it!  After years of reading mediocre young adult thrillers, I’ve finally found the one that kept me guessing until the very end.  Little Monsters had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.  Kara Thomas has a very twisted mind and I love it!

Little Monsters grabs you from the very first page.  The synopsis really only gives you the base of this story.  It’s very much a mystery but there is so much more to it than that.  There’s little bit of horror, a little self discovery, and more than a touch of Mean Girls.  It reads like a crossover between YA and adult.  There truly is so much more to this story than meets the eye.

Kacey is an interesting main character.  She is easy to like even though it’s clear that she is keeping many secrets.  She has not had an easy life and while things were looking up when she first moved to Broken Falls, they took a dark turn very quickly.  Her family is the one bright spot in all of this and even they may not be as perfect as they first appear.  Every person in Kacey’s life had secrets of their own, some darker than Kacey ever could have guessed.  When the police started looking at her as a suspect in Bailey’s disappearance, she took it upon herself to solve the mystery and in the process, brought all the dark secrets to light.

Kacey’s family may have had some secrets but I liked them all very much.  This wasn’t your typical story about a girl being taken in to her father’s new family of wicked stepsiblings and an evil stepmother.  Instead, Kacey found a family that actually wanted her and wanted what was best for her.  Her step brother and half-sister embraced her like she’d been there all along.  Kacey may have stood out like a sore thumb in the town of Broken Falls but her family didn’t care.  I won’t lie and say they didn’t have some suspicions when Kacey became a suspect in Bailey’s disappearance but I think I would have judged them more if they hadn’t thought her relationship with Bailey made her a likely candidate.

Also, while it’s not a huge part of the story, the town legend of the Red Woman really captivated me.  I’m not much for creepy stories and I’m easily scared but I loved that aspect of this story.  The Red Woman’s story had a lot to do with the overall story and every single mention of her creeped me the hell out! Little Monsters is not a horror novel and nobody would ever classify it as one but it is still one you might want to read with the lights on.

Overall, Little Monsters could not have been better.  Both adult and YA thriller fans will find something to love about this one.  I’ll definitely be checking out Kara Thomas’ previous novel as well as whatever she decides to write next!

What others are saying about Little Monsters:

Great Imaginations’ review: “Little Monsters had all the elements of a thriller I should love, and yet there was something missing that ultimately kept me from loving it as much as I should have.”

My Thoughts…Literally!’s review: “It had a great atmosphere and a plot that kept me hooked from beginning to end. It wasn’t perfect but it was thoroughly entertaining.”

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Published by Simon Pulse on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 380
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

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.

When every single one of your bookish friends is raving about a book, you know they can’t all be wrong.  That’s how I felt about When Dimple Met Rishi.  Everybody I know that read it, loved it.  I honestly have not seen one single bad review for it.  In all my years blogging, I feel like I have never seen one book get so much praise.  I obviously had to pick it up to see what all the fuss was about.

When Dimple Met Rishi is like the perfect romantic comedy in book form.  I haven’t been reading much contemporary lately but that’s because I stopped finding books like this one that reminded me of my love for the genre.  This book had everything that made me love contemporary YA novels growing up: romance, friendship, conflicts, confusion, family, and so much more.  Dimple and Rishi are far from perfect and that’s why they are so dang lovable.  And don’t even get me started on their friends and families.  The family dynamics between both the parents and children and the children and siblings may have been my favorite aspect of this book.  So often it seems like family can get overlooked in favor of romantic relationships in books but that’s not the case with When Dimple Met Rishi.  Sandhya Menon perfectly balanced every aspect of this book.

What made the family dynamics so awesome though were the characters.  Dimple and Rishi are obviously the main focus of the story but their story couldn’t have been told without their families and the friends they made at Insomnia Con.  Dimple’s family was very traditional and it was easy to see that her parents wanted a traditional life for her.  The love they had for Dimple was clear but her mom couldn’t see why Dimple wanted something more out of life than marriage and children.  As for Rishi, his parents were of a similar mindset but it wasn’t such an issue because it’s also what Rishi wanted.  From the start it was clear that Dimple and Rishi were looking for different things out of life but that didn’t really stop them from falling for one another.  Also, Celia (Dimple’s roommate) and Ashish (Rishi’s brother) kind of need their own story now.  I want to know more about those two.

As for Dimple and Rishi, they were pretty great.  Dimple was a little hardheaded and she definitely did some stupid stuff but I still adored her.  Rishi was almost too perfect.  He was so incredibly sweet and loving.  He was a total romantic and while his and Dimple’s personalities didn’t seem like they would go well together, they really did.  Rishi brought out a softer side in Dimple and Dimple pushed Rishi to go after what he really wanted in life.

Overall, When Dimple Met Rishi deserves every bit of praise it’s been getting.  Sandhya Menon has set a very high bar for herself but I am sure that whatever she writes next will meet that standard.

What others are saying about When Dimple Met Rishi:

A Reader Of Fictions’ review: “If you’ve been looking forward to this one, you were right to be excited.”

The Book Smugglers’ review: “I can’t entirely express how cute, engaging, funny and heart-warming this novel truly is.”

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Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1) by Lexa Hillyer
Published by HarperCollins on April 11th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 351
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.

It all started with the burning of the spindles.

No.

It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.

Lexa Hilyer impressed me with her previous novel, Proof of Forever.  Spindle Fire is such a departure from that story though, that I went into this one as if I knew nothing of the author’s work.  To be completely honest, this was one I picked up solely on the appeal of the gorgeous cover.  This was one of those instances where I’m glad I judged a book by it’s cover because the insides matched up quite well with the beautiful outsides.

I read somewhere that Spindle Fire is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with hints of Alice in Wonderland and that description matched up perfectly with the actual story.  The Sleeping Beauty aspects were quite obvious from the start and did match up quite well with the traditional story.  However, it didn’t take long for things to deviate from that classic and for Lexa Hilyer to really give this story her own spin.  The hints of mystery surrounding both the enchanted world where Aurora has found herself and the world of her home kingdom were intriguing enough to keep any reader guessing.  Little hints regarding the history of both worlds as well as the faeries themselves are dropped throughout the book but only really come to a head at the end.  As for that end, there won’t be a reader out there who isn’t left dying for the sequel, Winter Glass.

While the story is what originally captured my attention, the characters are what kept me coming back for more.  Aurora and Isabelle couldn’t be more different.  The sisters have very little in common except for their love for one another.  That never stopped them from being best friends though.  However, Aurora’s grand ideas for romance started to change things between them.  Aurora was eager to meet her future husband, the Crown Prince of Aubin, a neighboring land.  For Isabelle, this meant her time with her sister was over and her life was going to change irrevocably.  A rift formed between them and before either of them could fix it, the spell took hold of Aurora.  Aurora woke in a strange land and everything about her changed from there.  Everything she thought she knew had to be questioned and she finally had to rely on her own strengths.  As for Isabelle, she always knew her strengths but she hadn’t needed to put them to the test until it was up to her to bring her sister back from the strange sleeping sickness.  Throughout the course of the story, characters such a Gil, William, Heath, Wren, Belcoeur, and Malfleur were introduced and while each one had their own mysteries, most of the questions surrounding them were left unanswered.  I sincerely hope the pasts and futures of all of these characters will be explored in the sequel.

Overall, Spindle Fire sets things up nicely for this series (trilogy? duology?).  April 2018 cannot get here soon enough, in my opinion.  I’ve already become invested in these characters’ stories and I need to know what will become of them!  Fans of fantasy as well as fans of both the original Sleeping Beauty and Alice in Wonderland stories will find something to love in Spindle Fire.  The hints of the familiar are just enough to bring fans to find something completely new to love.

What others are saying about Spindle Fire:

Across the Words’ review: “If you tend to find the story of Sleeping Beauty uninteresting, I think you will appreciate how much more compelling and complex it becomes in Spindle Fire.”

The Story Sanctuary’s review: “I think fans of Forbidden Wish or The School for Good and Evil will find Spindle Fire to be a worthy addition to the genre.”

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Manwhore +1 (Manwhore, #2) by Katy Evans
Series: Manwhore #2
Published by Gallery Books on July 7th 2015
Genres: Romance
Pages: 336
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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Billionaire playboy? Check. Ruthless businessman? Check. Absolutely sinful? Check.

Malcolm Saint was an assignment. A story. A beautiful, difficult man I was supposed to uncover for a racy exposé.

I intended to reveal him, his secrets, his lifestyle—not let him reveal me. But my head was overtaken by my heart and suddenly nothing could stop me from falling. I fell for him, and I fell hard.

Malcolm Saint is absolute Sin, and I've become a hopeless Sinner.

Now that the assignment is over, Saint wants something from me--something unexpected--and I want this wicked playboy's heart. But how can I prove to the man who trusts no one that I’m worthy of becoming his plus one?

I was not kidding when I said I would be binge reading this series.  As I write this review for book 2, I’m currently starting book 5.  If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about these books, I guess I can elaborate a bit.

SPOILERS IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOK 1!

Manwhore +1 picks up right after the cliffhanger ending of Manwhore.  Saint and Rachel are not in a good place.  I was surprised by the amount of single Rachel we get at the beginning of the book.  Saint is someone who values loyalty and trust above all else and Rachel destroyed that between them.  He’s not going to give that up because of one letter she writes to try to fix her colossal mistake.  While that may not make for the best romance, it certainly made for a great slow burn that had me wondering what would happen between the two that I came to know and love from book 1.

Beginning of the book Rachel was a bit too mopey for my tastes but once she decided that she was no longer willing to take no for an answer, she grew on me.  She began to have this take charge attitude and the girl went for what she wanted.  Yeah, I know you’re not supposed to go for someone who tells you they don’t want you but in this case you could tell he was lying so it was all good.  At one point she did have to get a little tipsy to tell Saint everything she felt but I can’t blame her for that.  He wasn’t exactly opening up and making it comfortable for her.  I feel like Rachel really started to shine in Manwhore +1 which is something I felt was missing a bit in Manwhore.  As for Saint, he was pretty flawless.  Yes, he kinda held a grudge against Rachel for what she did but what she did was pretty terrible.  I was nervous he was going to keep bringing it up at every step of their relationship but he seemed to move past it eventually.  I guess the only bad thing I would even have to say about Saint is that he might have been a little too perfect.

The romance really ramped up in this one.  I loved seeing them build their relationship back up and the actual sexytimes got to be a little much for me.  I don’t think I’ve ever said this about a book but I wanted more substance rather than all the sex.  It just seemed like that was their way of resolving everything.  While you could see that they were good for each other, I wanted more proof of that in the form of talking and connecting in other ways.  That’s not to say that the sexytimes weren’t extremely sexy though.

Overall, Manwhore +1 ties things up nicely and if you don’t like the ending of this one, there is even a novella that follows it, giving readers everything they could want for their favorite couple.  (I know because I’ve already read it and will be reviewing it shortly.)

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