Book Review — The Soldier Prince by Aarti V. Raman

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In The Soldier Prince, we come to read about Prince Alexander Heinrickson of the Royal House of Stellangard, who is not in the least bit interested in putting on the princely attire and carrying out the duties of the royal family. The loss of a loved one pushes him to swap that life for one in the military as a soldier. But when a fated catastrophic encounter with the attractive Sasha Ray threatens to expose his true identity to the world, he must rush back home and let his family handle the matter. Sasha is a waitress who, apart from being curious about her regular customer, has no clue as to what she is dragging herself into when she jumps at the chance to save Alexander from a possibly fatal incident.

I actually really enjoyed this book, more so than I’d thought I would. It’s much more than just a romance. It’s about one’s duty to their family, their nation. It has a couple of action scenes as well. The writing style is compelling and makes use of sufficient descriptions, which had me really excited because well, a majority of the book is set in the snowy clad terrain of the Swiss Alps. We’ve seen and heard a lot about forbidden love stories and so, the main plot wasn’t very unique.

My favorite part of The Soldier Prince is not the inevitable romance between Alexander and Sasha, but the subplot involving the royal family and their lives. The setting also added to my enjoyment of the book. I even liked Sasha and Alexander separately because of their character compositions. But their relationship was not something I was entirely convinced about; parts of it were downright cliched. And while you could take this book as being just about their connection and how their relationship evolves over time, I was able to set that aside and appreciate this book based on its stories about individual characters.

I really liked the bond between the three siblings – Michael, Alexander and Lena. The little glimpse of Princess Lena that we get from this book interested me enough to want to know more about her. The treatment of the royal family is not stereotypical, which is something that impressed me. Because usually when you talk about monarchies, there’s atleast one snobby person in the family who looks down upon commoners and is arrogant, but in this case, all of them were very welcoming towards Sasha, they’re polite and respectful towards others.

Depending on how much you enjoy romance – contemporary fictions, I would surely recommend this book to you, because it’s a delightful read! I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series.

Ratings – 4 out of 5 stars

What do you get out of it? A charming story about love, family, and duty.

Thank you Aarti V. Raman for sending me an eARC of your book in exchange of an honest review. 

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Book Review — I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos

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On the precipice of Clare’s wedding, Edith (a total stranger) helps her realize what a big mistake she is about to make. Gathering all her courage, Clare breaks off her engagement to kind yet temperamental Zach. Weeks of anguish later, she receives a letter that informs her of Edith’s demise and that Edith has bequeathed a vacation home to her – the Blue Sky House. When Clare moves into this scenic property, she finds two ledgers that hint at a bigger picture. In an attempt to understand who Edith was, Clare and her bestfriend, Dev embark on a journey, connecting the dots of Edith’s far and wide imprint on other’s lives; in doing so, Clare discovers more about herself than she’d ever hoped to know.

Now, the synopsis may appear to be ordinary, but PLEASE DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THIS BOOK. It is spellbinding, heartbreaking and basically, a huge warm hug! I am still hungover. The author’s writing style is poetic in bringing out the minute imageries of every scene. You get to read the chapters from Edith and Clare’s perspectives alternatively; which means you are shuffling between two time periods – the 1950s and the present. When you get to the end of the book, this structure will make perfect sense, as everything falls into place magically. Some of the initial chapters from Edith’s perspective were a little too slow paced which deterred me from really getting into her side of the story. But once you cross the first 20-30 pages, you can’t help but be in awe of Edith. The storyline is beautiful; it creates a tidy little package of what it means to be alive, paying tribute to seemingly all human experiences.

Some of the themes explored in this novel are that of mystery, domestic violence, mental health, self-discovery, familial bonds and unconditional love. But as you read I’ll Be Your Blue Sky, you begin to notice just how much more flavor has been infused into it. You’d think that nothing could top off the very plot and her writing style, but hands down, this has some of the best characters I’ve ever read! No fluff or 1 dimensional characters. Each and every person in this book has such a unique vibe. It seriously made me reconsider what kind of characters I have been reading about for so long. Zach, although not one of the main characters, is highly bipolar and affects the story on a different tangent. I truly appreciate how violent and abusive behavior is dealt with throughout this novel. Edith, a female character to look upto, is righteous and so full of love for everyone. She has this knowing persona that convinces you she is more than just-a-normal-lady.

Also, what a complex family unit! Thank you for making me love the idea of large families. I wouldn’t say that this book is heavy on romance, because it goes above and beyond the love between a couple. Especially with regards to Dev and Clare’s equation, I feel like the author has hit home run in conveying something precious and real. Having said all that (I still want to say more), I want you to understand that no review would ever do full justice to what this book presents to its reader. It fills my heart and soul to have immersed in the multi-tiered stories that Marisa de los Santos has penned down. If this book doesn’t win a Goodreads Choice Award in 2018, then I’d be so so disappointed! A MUST READ. Just please pick it up once it releases. Please.

Ratings – 4.5 out of 5 stars.

What do you get out of it? Life. This book breathes life into its audience as it unearths the life stories of several people bound by fate and blood. It stands for everything I love about writing and reading.

Thank you HarperCollins and Edelweiss for giving me access to an e-galley in exchange for a review. 

Book Review — From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

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Sixteen-year-old Twinkle Mehra is an aspiring filmmaker, looking for her big break. So when it comes in the form of her all-time crush, Neil Roy’s geeky brother, Sahil Roy, she decides to give it a go. Their school is hosting the Midsummer Night, an event that would present her with the golden opportunity to screen her film. All her life, Twinkle has felt sidelined and now, she is ready to be in the spotlight for a change. As Sahil and Twinkle work together, there builds an undeniable attraction between the two. But Twinkle is determined to not let go of her hopes of being Neil’s girlfriend; thereby putting her friendship with Sahil in jeopardy. With fame and authority clouding her mind, Twinkle risks losing herself entirely.

After having read and loved When Dimple Met Rishi, I was certain that I would love this book too. But that wasn’t the case. No doubt, it was a fun read; it’s just that I didn’t really like Twinkle. The author’s writing style is colloquial and fits so well with the tone of a sixteen year old that you won’t realize it hasn’t been written by a teenager. I find it really commendable when authors are able to adapt their writing style to the characters and cultures they are writing about. The plot explores several themes like social exclusion, familial discord, high school hierarchy etc. This is an epistolary novel, where the story is told through Twinkle’s diary entries addressed to female filmmakers who are her inspiration. That’s something I really liked. It was interesting to see what she took away from the works of a particular filmmaker.

The reason why I didn’t like Twinkle’s character as much is that she came off as a person who complained a lot. She’s either constantly whining about having lost her bestfriend or she’s swooning over Neil (even when things were happening between her and Sahil) and the fact that the popular kids don’t give her the time of the day. I understand where she’s coming from and I’m not being insensitive to her problems. But when there’s a 300 odd paged novel with a protagonist who is mature enough to want to make quality films, you’d expect the focus to be a little less on her complaints. Thankfully, Neil Roy – who is good looking, desirable, great at academics and athletic – isn’t our MC.  Sahil, who has been foreshadowed by his twin brother, Neil is a very supportive, patient and understanding character. He stood by Twinkle’s side even when I was (mentally) yelling at her. I also wasn’t particularly happy with Maddie. She simply doesn’t know the definition of being a bestfriend; abandoning Twinkle and not giving a damn about her feelings. On the whole, this book was moderately fun to read, if you don’t count the times I got annoyed with the characters. I hope Sandhya Menon’s next novel, When Ashish Met Sweetie is just as good as When Dimple Met Rishi. 

Ratings – 3 out of 5 stars

What do you get out of it? An entertaining read about high schoolers and the things that drive them.

Thank you Sandhya Menon for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Book Review — The Nine by Tracy Townsend

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In The Nine, Tracy Townsend creates a world quite like our own, throwing different species into play, in its deceitful and dangerous alleys. The aigamuxa and lanyani are as much a part of the looming mystery as the humans. A book that writes itself, the murder of an intellectual and nine individuals who are chosen as representative of a race – you’ve got yourself an action-packed novel that refuses to slow down. Rowena Downshire was a mere courier, working for the hardhearted Ivor. But when she is dragged into the midst of a conspiracy, she is forced to fight the greater of two evils.

This book has so many plot points in it, its a whopper of the highest quality. It is a dark fantasy, that weaves in steampunk elements, while also sending its characters on a tiresome adventure. I feel that the synopsis doesn’t convey just how intricate the story is and that’s why it was such a pleasant surprise. Tracy Townsend’s writing style is mesmerizing to say the least, vividly descriptive and devoid of sugar coating. There wasn’t a single dull moment. Some of the slang and phrases were new to me, but nothing that Google couldn’t fix. I like how to plot reflects very real human tendencies to be threatened by diversity and the unknown. Incorporating species like lanyani and aigamuxa added more dimension to the novel. Also, each chapter is told from the POV of a different character. In the beginning there were more POVs, so it was a bit overwhelming what with the highly detailed world-building too.

As for the characters, a majority of them were interesting; full of the flavor needed to carry the story forward. Rowena may have started out looking like a helpless girl, but we soon see how loyal and fearless she truly is. She, surprisingly, forms alliances with two very powerful men in order to “save the day”. Anselm Meteron is your typical badass boss, who is wealthy and cunning beyond measure. I liked the equation that was explored between him and Rare Jeulls. The Alchemist who is also part of the trio is a mysterious character for pretty much the whole book. His backstory, identity and such is only revealed at the end, which ideally could have been an impediment to the reading experience but wasn’t. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and would surely recommend it to those who like dark fantasy.

What do you get out of it? A thrilling adventurous tale that unearths human depravity. A unique supposition about the creation of our world.

Ratings – 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you Pyr and Edelweiss for sending me this e-galley in exchange for a review. 

Book Review — Redemption by Laxmi Hariharan

I received an e-arc of this book for review, from the author. Thank you 🙂

Redemption by Laxmi Hariharan is a kaleidoscopic view of the new world inhabited by humans, shifters, vampires and other beings. Guilty of a horrendous mistake she made, Leana, curbs her inner-wolf, as she fights battles to win a livelihood for her orphanage. Rohan, her human cousin, is neglected by his family and finds himself in wrong company. Unable to remember anything from his past, Mikhail sets out to meet the one woman who caught his eye in the new world. Whereas, the Mayor of Bombay will stop at nothing to vanquish the villainous vampires that threaten to ravage her city. Little does she know what she chances to encounter in her war.

This book is filled with so many elements and wonderful concepts. I have always enjoyed a good paranormal fiction. This one goes above and beyond to incorporate the genres of romance, thriller, adventure into the meticulously thought-out plot. The idea of patterns and colours, as playing an important role in individual identity, is exquisite. It’s something that I have never heard of before. The author’s writing style draws you in and somehow, you find yourself sympathizing with even the most notorious of characters. Rohan and Daniel are sketched to be the bad guys and yet, at several points in the novel, I felt that they deserved better. I would love to read a novella featuring their story.

Leana’s plight is deplorable. She is haunted by the mistake she has made and is unable  to come to terms with her wolf-self. As the story progresses, her personality undergoes some changes and she becomes a stronger individual. Some of the themes that the book explores are redemption, abuse, LGBTQ, violence, power etc. One thing that irked me a bit was the fact that vampires are once again depicted to be the villains. I’d like to have seen a different perspective. I like how characters from the different books are woven into this story. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more content by the author. I recommend this book to all those who enjoy Supernatural Fiction.

Ratings – 4 stars on 5

Meera

Book Review — Feral by Laxmi Hariharan

Thank you Author Assistant for sending me an electronic copy of this book for review. 

Image courtesy of Goodreads.

Feral is a novella that follows the characters from the Many Lives series. For long, Maya has been coping with the fact that she is not like her family. She hasn’t been able to fit in and at times, she can’t bring herself to think like them. So when she discovers that she has been adopted, overwhelmed by the shock, she decides to leave the wilderness and her life with the pack in search of her blood relations. However, fate’s games land another blow on her when she finds answers in the last place she’d thought to look.

Even though I haven’t read the Many Lives series, I found myself able to enjoy this novella quite a lot. Maya’s frustration at not triggering the gene and joining her pack was so palpable that I was eager to understand her story. The bond between her and Luke is extremely adorable and while it would have been easy to pair the two, the author adds more spice to the story with another character.  If it had been a love triangle of sorts, I may have not given it much heed. But what irked me is how abruptly Maya’s attraction switches from one to the other. Nevertheless, the author’s writing style worked well with the genre of the novella. This put me in two minds – wanting more of her story and yet satisfied that the novella was a cute, quick read. I’m definitely looking forward to more of Maya and Luke’s story. For all those who love a good paranormal romance, I urge you to give this a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Ratings – 3 stars on 5.

Meera

Book Review — Escape From Witchwood Hollow by Jordan E. Mierek

I was provided an electronic copy of this book by the author for review. Thank you for the opportunity 🙂 

Escape From Witchwood Hollow is a novel that depicts the dire consequences of greed and insecurity on the lives of generations of people. Shunned as a witch, Lady Clifford flees into the forests of Arnn. There she finds respite from the townsfolk who want to kill her. Years pass in peaceful solitude before she finds the company of those who can appreciate her. Albertine, the second main female character, comes from a small town called Pipp where she stays with her sister and relatives. A letter from America brings joyous news that her father has made plans to have her married and settled in Arnn. And so begins a new phase of her life.

Honoria, after the death of her parents, moves in with her Aunt Priscilla. There she encounters the mysteries buried in a desolate, ruinous spot called the Witchwood Hollow. Supposedly, those who venture in are never seen again. Or so the legend goes. Will Honoria’s curiosity lead her into trouble? What of the stories of Lady Clifford and Albertine? Read to understand how these three female characters’ lives are woven together in a thrilling, astounding tale.

I was extremely enthusiastic about reviewing this book. The synopsis sounded too good. I only hoped that the novel was as good as I wished it to be. And it absolutely was. The story is a little slow in the beginning, but let that not hold you at bay. It picks up pace real fast and till the very end keeps you on your toes. The chapters shift back and forth between three generations. We are privy to the POVs of Lady Clifford, Albertine and Honoria. All of which were fun to read. The book has tons of characters, most of which are female. It wasn’t a very pointed fact but to me it felt like the novel tries to assert the strength and individuality of women. The author pays meticulous attention to detail. Sometimes, I felt that there was unnecessary information – tidbits that need not be mentioned. But most of which came in handy to piece the puzzle.

Honoria’s immediate liking for Leon was unconvincing. It appeared a little too lame how her thought process revolved around “Leon-this and Leon-that”. Her friendship with Harley and Amanda also led nowhere. But then again such things happen in real life too. So its excusable. The setting created by the author is very fascinating and magical. The plot is so intricate, it catches you off guard. Planning it must have taken some serious time and effort. I believe that the story wrapped up nicely. Its a quick read and takes your imagination to heights. Give it a try if fantasy is your genre.

Ratings – 4 stars on 5.

Meera