Posted in Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Hi there! Can I tell you how excited I was to get this in the mail? I received an advanced copy from a publicist for review and I was so excited to read this. I saw it last fall and was immediately intrigued. I can’t wait for you guys to read it this May!

Synopsis:

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about

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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.

Publisher: SimonPulse                                  Page #: 320

Expected Release: 30 May 2017                 Edition: ARC

My rating: 5/5 stars

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What a cute contemporary read! I couldn’t wait to see where these characters took me, and I loved how Menon characterized them! I am not entirely one for insta-love books, and it seemed like this one might be one, but I did appreciate all that happened within these pages.

I remember finishing it late the night before a scholarship competition and wanting to get up and dance around. Here are some of my initial thoughts (via Goodreads):

I love this book so much! Dimple and Rishi made me believe in so much.

I don’t think my sleep deprived brain had much more than this to type out. I enjoyed this book so much and have had some time to let my thoughts on it marinate.

One thing this book champions is the strength of Dimple as a female. I love it when female characters are hard on asserting themselves and there are always many obstacles that they face when this happens. I appreciated Dimple’s initial prickliness toward Rishi! Their first meeting is probably one of my favorite scenes in the book, especially seeing it from both sides of the story.

Rishi reminded me a bit of myself. I am a romantic (though not a hopeless one, and certainly not as much as Rishi), and I loved seeing him persist throughout this book. It was interesting to watch him develop as a character and more than just a boy in love. He’s sweet and kind, and I like that he doesn’t become overbearing and demanding of Dimple. He gives her room to be herself and appreciates her even more for her genuineness.

I cannot speak to how accurate this story was to Indian culture. I imagine, however, that with the author’s background that it was, at least to some extent, accurate. I like that it took the taboo idea of arranged marriages and made it something that the reader could understand in modern context. I think that people are really quick to judge arranged marriages, especially in the United States because we don’t understand it and what it means to people today. I think Menon did very well demystifying this for us, and I really loved the way she did it.

This is definitely one I’ll be rereading! I can’t wait to read it this summer again.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

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Posted in Blog Tours, Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Blog Tour: The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari

The Best Kind of Magic

by Crystal Cestari
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy

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Synopsis:
Amber Sand isnot a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber’s pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone’s soul mate.

Amber works ather mother’s magic shop–Windy City Magic–in downtown Chicago, and she’s confident she’s seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one–her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor’s son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father’s missing girlfriend, she’s distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can’t see her own match, she can see his–and it’s not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn’t her match?

The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and willappeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.
 
This book was so cute! Amber is a spunky and hilarious narrator throughout the entire novel. I really enjoyed getting to know her and the other characters through her point of view.
At first we start off with Amber being really unsure of herself and while she enjoys her matchmaking skills she doesn’t want to be a matchmaker only – she wants to be a baker. I love that there were other things that Amber was interested in and that she didn’t let her magic be the only thing that defined her. She becomes a more confident young woman as the story continues and I really liked that character development.
Amani was definitely one of my favorite characters. She’s complex and different and I can see where Amber would be frustrated with her as a best friend. However, I love their friendship and how they’re always there for each other even when things get a bit hairy. They support each other in ways that you want best friends to be there.
 
Here is the playlist I selected for the book! I picked these because they reminded me a lot of Amber and the plot, especially the end! Enjoy!


With rainbows in my hair and stories in my head, I am a writer drawn to magic in the everyday world.

My debut novel, The Best Kind of Magic, arrives May 16, 2017 from Hyperion. Follow Amber Sand, a magical matchmaker who can actually see true love, as she takes off on a fun and romantic adventure toward happily ever after.

We are giving away one (1) finished copy of The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari. This is open to US and Canada only and ends on May 26th. You can follow the rest of the tour for more opportunities to win, however you may only win once! Click here to enter the giveaway!
Happy reading,
Sophie 🙂
Posted in Bloggers, Q & A, Sophie

Interview: Laurie Forest, Debut Author of The Black Witch

Hi guys! Happy release day to The Black Witch and Laurie Forest (among soooooo many others I’m excited for)! Today we have Laurie on the blog with an interview about her debut novel.

Displaying The Black Witch jacket.jpgIf you’re wondering what her book is all about click here for a link to my review and synopsis of the book.

Here’s a little bit about Laurie: 

Laurie Forest lives deep in the backwoods of Vermont where she sits in front of a wood stove drinking strong tea and dreaming up tales full of dryads, dragons and wands. The Black Witch (May 2017, HarlequinTEEN) is her first novel, and Wandfasted (The Black Witchprequel, Summer 2017, HarlequinTEEN) is her first e-book novella.

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Without further ado let’s jump into this interview!

Sophie: Hi Laurie! My name is Sophie and it’s pleasure to speak with you/work with you. I enjoyed the exploration you took while writing The Black Witch and I found everyone in the book fascinating! What inspired you to write this story?

Laurie: About eight years ago, my then pre-teen daughters started putting Harry Potter in front of me (I’d never really read any fantasy before, I preferred non-fiction almost exclusively). After watching them devour the books, dress up like characters in the books, style birthday parties around the books and get so excited about the movies, I broke down and cracked open the first book. I read through the entire series in less than two months.

I was instantly hooked and stunned that J.K. Rowling was able to tackle so many serious issues so effectively (and inspiringly) in a metaphorical/fantasy way. I started to read every YA fantasy book my kids handed me, and then some.

During this time, as I was immersing myself in vivid stories of dragons and werewolves and witches and wizards, a dramatic, real-life story was going on around us here in Vermont – the fight for marriage equality. My husband and I were involved in supporting marriage equality, which was a surprisingly hard battle. Prejudice I never knew existed came out of the woodwork against LGBTQ friends, completely blindsiding me.

This real-life story did have a happy ending – Vermont legalized marriage equality in 2009. But the darkness I had witnessed reverberated in my mind. It set me mulling over prejudice in more general terms (religion-based, gender-based, etc.) as I was reading The Golden Compass series. The spark of a story lit inside me – a fantasy story where people with wings are rejected by pretty much every religion/culture for no sound reason save tradition. On a lark, I started writing that first scene down and found myself as instantly hooked by writing as I had been by fantasy fiction (it felt like magic). My fledgling story rapidly found its own trajectory and rapidly veered off into pure fantasy territory.

S: Elloren is a character who is entrenched in her prejudices, what was it like writing a character like that? Why did you decide to write her brothers so different from her?

L: In The Black Witch, I really wanted to delve into where a prejudiced way of looking at the world springs from, so it was an interesting challenge to not only create a dangerous, destructive world-view, but to make it seem rational to the main character (via how sheltered she is and how many lies she’s been told – and there’s a strong religious justification for her world-view as well). My idea was to thrust the reader into that world-view along with the main character and then turn everything completely on its head. Elloren is a naïve sort who doesn’t start out very rebellious, so I think her easy acceptance of most of her cultural prejudices makes sense. Her brother Trystan, being gay, is already privately at odds with the culture, so I think it makes sense that he’d be a bit cynical about it all, although he becomes more of a rebel as the series goes on. They all do. And Rafe’s nature is free-thinking and open-minded, so I think he has a natural tendency to question everything and go his own way.

S: This book is riddled with difficulties Elloren must overcome, not to mention the political turmoil between the classes in that world. What was the most difficult part about writing this book?

L: The most difficult part was pulling so many threads into a coherent whole, especially since I wrote the book’s scenes out of order. I had to go back and streamline all the different cultures and the political timeline.

S: I found myself drawn to the Ulrich twins. Their sensitive natures and undying support really connected with me. Do you relate to any of the characters? Who?

L: At the moment I feel closest to Prof. Kristian. Or at least I want to be like him. He’s quietly heroic and very active, behind the scenes, in the Resistance. He has no magic, but he makes good use of the talents he does have (mainly his intelligence and knowledge of history) to try and shine a light on injustice and right it (we learn more about him as the series progresses).

S: My favorite character is definitely Diana! I love her fierce loyalty and strong character. Do you have a favorite? Why?

L: Right now my favorite is Ariel Haven, because she’s been so abused and misunderstood for so long, but she still hasn’t been completely broken. I feel like Ariel has the heart of a true hero underneath all the trauma.

S: Ariel is a great character. I really liked her rough edges. I don’t know how much you are aware of the negative reviewer on Goodreads, but I found her when I was adding The Black Witch to my “currently reading” shelf. Frankly, I was appalled and I disagree with what she is saying. Is there anything you’d like to say pertaining the message of your book?

L: The Black Witch, at its heart, is a critical exploration of the harmful nature of prejudice in whatever form it’s found. I think a narrative like this, with its condemnation of hate and dismantling of internalized racism, is quite relevant. My goal for the series is to promote diversity in an entertaining story. My overarching theme (I hope) is that any government or culture or religious system of belief that does not promote diversity can lead to a very dark place. Kind of the path to Mordor.

Or in the case of The Black Witch, Marcus Vogel’s vision for Gardneria.

S: The ending is such a cliffhanger! Are there any current projects you’re working on that you could share with us?

L: Book Two of The Black Witch Chronicles is written and I’ll be leaping into the editing/sensitivity readings of that very soon with my editor at Harlequin TEEN and sizable team of readers inside and outside of my imprint (it’s been important to me to have this narrative read by people from many different backgrounds to check for sensitivity – and I also get a lot out of online sensitivity discussions which have given me much guidance as well). We’re hoping to put

Book Two out next year. The e-book prequel to The Black Witch, Wandfasted, comes out July 1, 2017 (it’s currently up on Amazon for pre-order and the cover reveal is coming soon!). It’s being sold as a novella, but it’s around 250 pages – I can’t seem to write short, lol. Wandfasted happens 20 years in the past. It’s the love story of Elloren’s parents, Vale and Tessla (oh my, romance is fun to write). I like to think of it as Pride & Prejudice meets Lord of the Rings .

You get a glimpse of the original Black Witch on the front lines in this book (which was extraordinarily fun to write) as well as many characters from The Black Witch as young people – Aunt Vyvian, Uncle Edwin, Prof. Jules Kristian, Lucretia Quillen and Fallon Bane’s parents. And baby Gareth  Also, there are battling dragon armies in this e-book.

S: Thank you so much for your time, I had a pleasure chatting with you! Are there any closingcomments you’d like to make?

L: I’m looking forward to the book getting out there and hearing from readers. And I hope the book provokes further discussion! Thank you for taking the time to interview me and thank you for your review of The Black Witch 

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Be sure to check out The Black Witch!  I encourage you to read it and see what you think of it 🙂 If you lucky ducks live close to these places be sure to go see Laurie while she’s on tour!

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Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂