Archive by Author | Meredith

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya MenonDimple and Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Series: Dimple and Rishi #1
Published by Simon Pulse on May 30, 2017
Pages: 380 pages
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Amazon

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.

“It’s even necessary to break the mold. We need more people shaking things up.”

I’ve been reading a lot of heavy high fantasies and dark historical fictions this year, and I was starting to feel some major Genre Burn-out – and my book slump has been bad enough as it is; I did NOT need Genre Burnout on top of everything else! So I decided it was time to pick up When Dimple Met Rishi. Everyone I know who has read this book has ADORED IT and absolutely GUSHED about it. And HOLY WOW, WERE THEY RIGHT!!! I’m SO sorry I didn’t read this sooner. It was an absolutely adorable romcom with amazing characters and an epic plot that had me laughing, crying, and cheering. The high stakes Insomnia Con element had my heart pounding in my throat the whole time.

Dimple was a fun, sassy, strong-willed character. I loved how fierce and opinionated she was, and the way she stood-up for what she wanted. She was also a fiercely loyal friend. Rishi was completely adorable. I felt so bad for him, the way he desperately wanted to draw but felt obligated to do what his parents expected of him. But I also understand and appreciate the fact that he felt very close to his culture and heritage, so pleasing his parents was something he WANTED to do, something that came naturally to him. I also loved how down-to-earth he was, despite being a rich kid (something Dimple takes note of, as well, when she finds out just how rich he really is).

There are many things in this book I don’t feel I can comment on because I don’t want to stray outside my lane and comment on a culture that I’m not intimately familiar with. But I’ve heard from many own voices bloggers and reviewers that this book was amazing and mirrored their experiences growing up – that that they were able to see themselves in this book and these characters. I think the best review I’ve read is from Alyssa over at The Eater of Books.

What I DO want to say is that I feel like I learned a lot by reading this book. I found myself googling a lot of things, trying to understand and better visualize what exactly was happening. I googled the different types of clothes they were wearing, what certain words meant, and some of the dances Dimple and Rishi were rehearsing.

The only negative thing I really have to say about this book is that, at times, the POV changing multiple times in one chapter was confusing. It made it a little hard to get into the flow of the story. But the more into the book I got, the easier the transition became.

Overall, this book was an adorable, fun, laugh-out-loud joy to read. I’m diving right into There’s Something About Sweetie, and I’m SO pumped for Ashish’s story. I can tell from what we saw of him in this book that we’ve only just begun to learn who he really is. And, of course, I’m excited to meet Sweetie, what with all the body positivity and well-done fat rep I’ve heard is in this book.

So yeah, I HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone looking to read an epic romcom, and anyone who wants a book with Indian rep in it. This book was just absolutely fantastic and you WON’T regret picking it up!


Review: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel SterlingThese Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling
Series: These Witches Don't Burn #1
Published by Razorbill on May 28, 2019
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

"Infused with page-turning suspense, bittersweet romance, shocking twists, and tragic turns, Sterling has written a standout debut." --Dana Mele, author of People Like Us

Hannah's a witch, but not the kind you're thinking of. She's the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she's ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly By Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah's concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah's sure it's the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she's going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem's witches become deadlier by the day.

Isabel Sterling's delightful, suspenseful debut is equal parts sweet romance and thrilling mystery. With everything she loves on the line, Hannah must confront this murderous villain before her coven--and any chance she has with the new girl--is destroyed.

I finished this book over a month ago, and I’m still struggling with reviewing it. It was just SO incredible, I don’t feel any review I write can do it justice. But I NEED to get my feels out there already, so I’ll do the best I can. But this may be a lot of Word Vomit. You’ve been warned!

I’ve been excited for These Witches Don’t Burn ever since it was first announced, and it did NOT disappoint. The writing was incredible and the plot was intense. I loved the magical rules and the different witch clans (Elementals, Blood Witches and Casters).

The characters were incredible, and super relatable – even in small, simple ways. Like Cal attending Salem State, where I almost went. And the fact that Veronica got into Ithaca College’s Park School of Communications and was, therefore, a Parkie (an affectionate nickname for Park students), like I was – studying journalism, of all things, same as I did (at first). And Hannah’s taste in music is a lot like mine – all over the place. I adored Hannah in general. Again, she was a super relatable character and I loved taking this journey with her. I loved her complicated relationships with Veronica and Morgan.

As much as I loved the characters, I also didn’t trust a single one of them except Hannah and Gemma. Everyone else gave me “suspect” vibes. At the same time, some of my “suspects” seemed too obvious, and I questioned whether they were red herrings. When the ACTUAL baddie was revealed, it made such perfect sense, I was mad at myself for not figuring it out sooner.

I don’t know if it was just because it was about witches or what, but I kept picturing most of these characters as the characters from The Secret Circle. Like, Hannah is Cassie (but maybe brunette instead of blonde) and Veronica is Faye, although I kind of also sometimes pictured her as Diana). And I kept picturing Evan as Adam and Savannah as Melissa. And then – not related to The Secret Circle, but just saying in general – I kept picturing Morgan as Danielle Panabaker with red hair.

This book also had INCREDIBLE LGBTQ+ rep. I can’t speak for it personally, but I’ve heard from other bloggers that the rep was well done, and this book meant a lot to a lot of people, and it’s an important book because of that.

So.. Overall, I absolutely 100% LOVED LOVED LOVED this book! I don’t feel like my review is doing it justice, though. It’s definitely in my Top Five for the year and I want to yell at everyone to read it, but I just don’t have much else to say. So rather than ramble on, I’m gonna stop here and just say PLEASE BUY AND READ THIS BOOK BECAUSE WITCHES AND SALEM AND EPIC CHARACTERS AND LGBTQ+ REP AND OMG IT’S JUST SOOOO GOOOOOODDDDDD PLEASE READ IT!!!!!!!


Release Day Post: The Missing Season by Gillian French (Excerpt + Giveaway)

I am so excited that THE MISSING SEASON by Gillian French is available now and that I get to share the news! If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by author Gillian French, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for FOUR signed copies of the book, Us Only, courtesy of Gillian and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


Author: Gillian French
Pub. Date: May 21, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 304
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Kindle | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | TBD


From the author of Edgar Award finalist Grit and The Lies They Tell comes a tense, atmospheric novel for fans of E. Lockhart and Marieke Nijkamp, about friendship, truth, and the creeping fears that can’t be outrun.

Whenever another kid goes missing in October, the kids in the old factory town of Pender know what is really behind it: a monster out in the marshes that they call the Mumbler.

That’s what Clara’s new crew tells her when she moves to town. Bree and Sage, who take her under their wing. Spirited Trace, who has taken the lead on this year’s Halloween prank war. And magnetic Kincaid, whose devil-may-care attitude and air of mystery are impossible for Clara to resist.

Clara doesn’t actually believe in the Mumbler–not like Kinkaid does. But as Halloween gets closer and tensions build in the town, it’s hard to shake the feeling that there really is something dark and dangerous in Pender. Lurking in the shadows. Waiting to bring the stories to life.


And now for the excerpt. Enjoy!

“It’s sad, you coming here.” Kincaid takes me in, his smile fading. “Now you’ve got no chance.”

No chance. Like he read it in my tea leaves or the lines of my palm. “Why?”

“Because he only takes Pender kids. Likes our taste, I guess.” Kincaid drops his board, glides backward on one foot, never breaking eye contact. “Like . . . hopelessness.”

“And Steak-umms from the caf,” somebody says, making people snicker.

“Liver.” Trace shows his teeth. “God, I love that shit.”

“What about Gavin Cotswold?” Sage says. “Have they figured out how he died yet?”

“Mumbler got him.” Trace.

“He OD’d.” Bree gives Trace a withering look. “He went out in the woods, got fucked up, and died. His own mom thinks so.”

“I heard the animals didn’t leave enough of him behind to be sure.” Trace says. Then, to Kincaid, “Tell her about the first boy. Ricky Whoever.”

“Sartain. Ricky Sartain.” Behind Kincaid, most of the activity has stopped, everybody pulling up some concrete to listen. He’s holding court, a storyteller who knows his audience. “It all started, like, twenty years ago. Kid went missing two days before they found him on the banks of the marsh, way out by the railroad bridge.” Kincaid nods slowly, easing into it. “Somebody put their hands all over him.”

More covert laughter, Trace’s whisper: “Loved to death.”

Kincaid entwines his fingers, working his palms together in sinuous rhythm. “Squeezed him, crushed him. Mashed his spine, smashed his belly.”

A voice speaks up: “My mom said that kid got hit by the train.”

“Of course she did.” Kincaid doesn’t turn. “She also told you that Santa Claus is real and honesty is the best policy and if you’re good, you’ll get into heaven, right?”

Snorts. Somebody mimics, “But my mommy said,” whacking the boy who interrupted with a baseball cap.

“He was folded in half.” Sage grips Trace’s forearm. “That’s what I heard.”

“No.” Kincaid’s hands are tai chi slow. “Lengthwise.”

“Stop.” Bree says it under her breath; I’m the only one who hears.

“Ricky disappeared right around Halloween. That’s the pattern.” Kincaid skates a circuit around us, dismounts, and slaps the tail of the board so it pops into his hand again, all one smooth movement that I wish I could watch again frame by frame. “Truth. After, Ricky’s friends told everybody how they’d all gone out to the railroad bridge to smash pumpkins one night, and there was somebody hiding under there. Too dark to see, but they heard him, mumbling and yammering away.”

Yip, yip, yip! I look up to see audience participation, lumbering shapes aping around the others, sounding like a zoo after hours—Ahhh-ah-ah-ah! Mwaaa-hoohoo!

“Next time anybody saw Ricky, he was red guacamole.” Kincaid pauses, smiling faintly, but he’s not really seeing me now. “Ever since, Mumbler’s been around. Takes a bad kid every few years, always in October. Grown-ups have some bullshit excuse for what happened to them, but we know.”

Nods pass around the circle. I watch for inside looks—they’ll drop the act when they see I’m not taken in—but the quiet drags on. “What’s the Mumbler look like?” I hold
Kincaid’s gaze, willing him to let me in on this, let me prove I don’t scare easy. “So I’ll know him if I see him.”

Kincaid looks to Trace, again with the smile that creases his eyes into merry slits, a kid showing his little sister where Mom hides the Christmas presents. “We can take you to him.”


I’m a ridiculous, sometimes cranky, often hungry, frequently writing flibbertigibbet who really hopes she can keep doing this for a living.

My debut novel, GRIT (HarperTeen), was an Indie Next List pick, a Junior Library Guild Selection, received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and ALA Booklist, was an Edgar Award Finalist, a South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Finalist, and received both a 2018 Lupine Award from the Maine Library Association and a 2018 Maine Literary Award from the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance.

My other novels include THE DOOR TO JANUARY (Islandport Press; Bram Stoker Award Finalist), THE LIES THEY TELL (HarperTeen; 2019 International Thriller Award Finalist, 2019 Maine Literary Award Finalist, 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection), and THE MISSING SEASON (HarperTeen, coming 5/21/2019; preorder giveaway happening now). My short fiction has placed in Writer’s Digest and Zoetrope: All Story contests, as well as appearing in such publications as Weirdbook and Creepy Campfire Stories for Grownups.

I hold a BA in English from the University of Maine, and I’m a member of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, Mystery Writers of America, and the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators. Currently, I still live in my native state of Maine–shocker, I know–with my husband and sons, where I’m perpetually agonizing over my next novel (in the best possible way, of course!)

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Goodreads | Instagram | Amazon Author Page


Giveaway Details: 4 winners will win a signed finished copy of THE MISSING SEASON, US Only.

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Book Birthday Celebration: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal (Giveaway)

Happy Book Birthday to Hafsah Faizal and We Hunt the Flame (May 14, 2019 – Farrar, Straus and Giroux), book one in the Sands of Arawiya series!!!!

I’m SO excited for this book, I can’t even put it into words. I wish I could read it RIGHT NOW, but I work for Barnes & Noble and am hosting the YA Book Club for We Hunt the Flame, so I’m going to hold off reading it until closer to the book club night on July 11 (at 7pm). But that doesn’t mean I can’t spread the book love NOW!!! To do that, I’m hosting a giveaway for the book!! It will be international, as long as Book Depository ships to you for free!

First, here’s more about the book:

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

Glossary and Pronunciation Guide



And now for the giveaway!! Again, this is international AS LONG AS Book Depository ships to you for free! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below! May the odds be ever in your favor!

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About the Author:
Hafsah Faizal is an American Muslim and brand designer. She’s the founder of IceyDesigns, where she creates websites for authors and beauteous goodies for everyone else. When she’s not writing, she can be found dreaming up her next design, deciding between Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim, or traversing the world. Born in Florida and raised in California, she now resides in Texas with her family and a library of books waiting to be devoured. WE HUNT THE FLAME is her first novel.

Her work is represented by John M. Cusick of Folio Lit.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

Author Guest Post: Apparent Power by Dacia M. Arnold

Happy Mother’s Day! I’m excited to have Dacia M. Arnold, author of Apparent Power, here today to discuss gift ideas for Dystopian Moms!

First, here’s a little bit about the book:

A dormant gene awakens in a quarter of the world’s population and the effects are apocalyptic. With an even rarer gene, the life of Valerie Russell turns into a shocking race against time.

When the human body begins to require more electricity than needed to keep a heart beating, cars lose power, phones no longer function, and planes fall from the sky.

Stranded in southern Colorado, a hundred miles from home—and from her two-year-old son— Valerie must find it within herself to trek the distance with the help of a questionable assembly of ex-military friends of the family.

But the awakening has a different effect on Valerie. While others absorb electricity, Valerie’s abilities are not as limited, making her the key to unlocking a worldwide genocide of those who were not affected.

As she evades the rising totalitarian government, Valerie is also faced with a moral choice: risk failure and attempt to save the masses from the regime’s deadly plot or run and preserve only the lives of her family.

How does a mother make such an impossible choice?


Without further adieu, I’ll turn it over to Dacia!


Happy (Dystopian) Mother’s Day! As an author of dystopian MOM fiction, I love reading/ watching (and writing) dystopian societies. In a world recovering from collapse, many struggle with a new semblance of normal. So on fun holidays like the one fast approaching, I wonder, “What would a mom in this dystopian world want for Mother’s Day?”

Follow along as I “shop” presents for some famous Dystopian Moms and suggest practical gifts you might find helpful, too.


1. Valerie Russell. You know her from Apparent Power By Dacia M Arnold

Who is she? Valerie is a working mom who finds herself stranded at work when disaster strikes. With electricity on the fritz, she has no way home from her 100 mile commute but to walk.

What would she love? A reliable babysitter without an expiration date. Just like other over worked moms, Valerie does not want to stress about what time her sitter has to be home. What if there is traffic? Her relief is late? Shit hits the fan? Or a dormant gene awakens in a quarter of the world’s population and causes apocalyptic devastation? Having a reliable babysitter and peace of mind goes lengths for this mama.

For the modern day mom: If you are looking to shower a hard working mom with this gift, consider getting her a baby sitter would can stay out late, into the early morning or even overnight. I promise, she is constantly worried about her children being a burden to others and hates the idea of being away too long. A stern reassurance to take her time will give her the best relief and encourage her to really enjoy herself with minimal guilt.

2. Malorie Hayes. You know her from Bird Box By Josh Malerman

Who is she? Malorie leaves her obstetrician’s office when a worldwide suicide epidemic strikes. Six years later, unable to open their eyes outside lest they fall victim of the same, Malorie blindly navigates two children away from the constant threat.

What would she love? A food delivery service. While keeping Malorie and her children safe in doors, a food delivery would save her the stress of having to forage neighboring abandoned homes for food. Also consider she would have more time on her hands to actually cook and enjoy the meal would make this gift is a slam dunk.

For the modern day mom: For moms who love to cook, Blue Apron and other meal prep companies provide fresh ingredients to cook whole meals taking the stress of shopping from your introverted mom friends. Do they hate to cook? Uber Eats will have any restaurant in the mama’s area delivered straight to their home. Short on cash? Cook the meal yourself!

3. Offred. You know her from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Who is she? Offred is a reproductive surrogate for a powerful figure and his resentful wife taken from her former home where she had a husband, daughter, and her own name.

What would she love? AN ESCAPE! On top of a reliable babysitter, I would pay for Offred to stay at a hotel where she could sit in silence and solitude away from the oppression of her predicament. I know Offred would never advocate for her own escape, as she is pretty complacent in her situation, leaving her without excuses to say no would be a gift from the heart.

For the modern day mom: While running away from your family is only temporary, I know few mamas who would not rush out the door to enjoy peace and quiet. A paid hotel for one night, and someone to watch the kids could be the mental R and R your mom friend needs to refresh and recharge to better handle the demands of motherhood.

4. Maggie Rhee. You know her from The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman

Who is she? Maggie is a long time character of The Walking Dead comics and graphic novels and serves as the leader of the Hilltop Community in a zombie ridden Virginia. She’s the widowed mother of two, Sophia whom she adopted and Hershel named after her late father. Governing a city and raising two little ones is hard work, but Maggie’s one tough cookie.

What would she love? Maggie would do just about anything for a solid cup of coffee. Surviving a zombie apocalypse is one thing, but rebuilding and keeping a society together takes long hours and never ending stress. Just one sip of real coffee could transport this leader to a place of pure bliss, even just a moment. Then no one would be more ready to tackle the issues at hand than this caffeinated matriarch.

For the modern day mom: Coffee is the love language of most women, but the sentiment is in the beverage itself. What’s her favorite drink? Coffee? Tea? Soda? Mimosa? The fact you know what it is and delivered it hot (or cold… you get it) tells her you pay attention. This may not be an extravagant gift, but ask me if I have ever turned down coffee.

5. Katniss Everdeen. You know her from Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Who is she? The Mocking Jay. The Girl On Fire. District 12’s Final Female Tribute. And by the end of book three (SPOILER ALERT) she becomes a mom.

What would she love? In all seriousness, I would hook this woman up with some therapy. After going through so much death and destruction, having an outlet to work through her issues could save her and family anymore undue heartache and help her process what she went through. I know it. You know it. Yes it’s fiction but let’s be real.

For the modern day mom: No one is perfect, but we all know someone who admits they need professional counseling but makes up excuses for not seeking out real help. TalkSpace is an app which connects you to a therapist via text message. While this is not a cheap gift, the service can be invaluable to those bogged down moms who just need to talk and gain perspective, or finally address the serious issues they have been avoiding.


Hope this was a helpful perspective going into Mother’s Day weekend in the real world. If nothing else, you might consider the characters you read a little differently. Remember, moms need hero(in)es too. Maybe this is the year you come through for a mom friend.


About the Author:
Dacia M. Arnold is an award-winning American novelist, Amazon Bestselling author, mother, and a ten-year Army Veteran. She is the author of Apparent Power, Reactance, Shifting Power (November 2019), and Brightest Firefly: A Collection of Short Works. As a freelance writer, Dacia contributes monthly to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s blog where she shares her short experience in the literary world.

Bookish Delight #15: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

Bookish Delight of the Month (Bookish Delight for short) is a monthly feature in which I’ll spotlight the number one book I’m most anticipating at the beginning of the month it releases. This could be a book I don’t have yet, or have an ARC of already – even a book I’m already reading (which is the case this month!) because it doesn’t matter whether I have it or not, or have read it or not – this is just all about me spotlighting the book I’m most excited for in a given month.

So, without further adieu, let’s get started!


The book I’m most highly anticipating in May is… These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling! I’ve actually already read this one, and it was ABSOLUTELY EPIC!!! I mean.. WITCHES AND SALEM AND OMG SO SO SO GOOD!! My review will be up soon, but guys, I HIGHLY recommend you check this one out!!

“Infused with page-turning suspense, bittersweet romance, shocking twists, and tragic turns, Sterling has written a standout debut.” –Dana Mele, author of People Like Us

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly By Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

Isabel Sterling’s delightful, suspenseful debut is equal parts sweet romance and thrilling mystery. With everything she loves on the line, Hannah must confront this murderous villain before her coven–and any chance she has with the new girl–is destroyed.


Also.. Okay, I KNOW this feature is supposed to spotlight ONE book. But I just wanna say that it was REALLY hard to pick which book I wanted to feature this month, and Romanov by Nadine Brandes came in at a VERY close second. I’ve also read this one, actually, and it was ALSO epic. I mean.. I’m a sucker for retellings and historical fiction and IT’S ANASTASIA, YOU GUYS!!!


So, what is your most anticipated book of May? Share it in the comments!

Review: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Stepsister by Jennifer DonnellyStepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by Scholastic on May 14, 2019
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

A startling, fiercely feminist re-imagining of Cinderella from the bestselling, award-winning author Jennifer Donnelly.

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe ... which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

Evoking the darker, older versions of the Cinderella story, bestselling author Jennifer Donnelly shows us that ugly is in the eye of the beholder, and uses her trademark wit and wisdom to send an overlooked character on a journey toward empowerment, redemption, and a new definition of beauty.

A message from Meredith: Hey everyone! Today, I have Lissa here with a guest review for Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly!

You can find Lissa on Instagram!

Without further adieu, here’s Lissa’s review! Enjoy!


I used to say that I was sad that Gregory Maguire was the one who came up with the idea for Wicked, and the other, “other side of the story” books he has written. Because while I adore the concept (and the fabulous Broadway musical) his writing style doesn’t do much for me.

Thankfully his monopoly on the concept seems to be at an end. I loved Sea Witch by Sara Henning. And now Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly.

I am going to throw in a few pros/cons here.

Characters – I adored all the charactets. They were well developed and well written and likable.

Horses – I will always be the 11 year old who picked up her first Mercedes Lackey book because of the pretty white horse on the cover. Horses were my fantasy gateway drug, and I will always swoon when they are well written and treated as the characters they are, and not just transportation.

The Message – I am all for the message in this story. Beauty is not what you look like, but what you do and what makes you passionate. And I really enjoyed the MC’s beauty. However…

The Message – This book was hit a bit too hard with the message stick. Not all the time, and not enough to ruin it for me, but it was definitely overkill. A little subtlety would have gone a lot further with me.

Overall I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it.


Author Interview: Every Moment After by Joseph Moldover (Giveaway)

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to have Joseph Moldover here for an interview! First, here’s more about Every Moment After:

Best friends Matt and Cole grapple with their changing relationships during the summer after high school in this impactful, evocative story about growing up and moving on from a traumatic past.

Surviving was just the beginning.

Eleven years after a shooting rocked the small town of East Ridge, New Jersey and left eighteen first graders in their classroom dead, survivors and recent high school graduates Matt Simpson and Cole Hewitt are still navigating their guilt and trying to move beyond the shadow of their town’s grief. Will Cole and Matt ever be able to truly leave the ghosts of East Ridge behind? Do they even want to?

As they grapple with changing relationships, falling in love, and growing apart, these two friends must face the question of how to move on—and truly begin living.

Goodreads | The Book Depository | IndieBound


And now for the interview! Enjoy!

Describe your book in ten words or less.
The long-term impact of a too-common tragedy.

Every Moment After is about a topic that is very relevant to what’s happening in the real world right now. What inspired you to write it?
The book is definitely a direct response to real-world school shootings, and particularly to the Sandy Hook tragedy. In many ways, it’s less of a reaction to the shootings themselves than to the lack of a really effective preventative course of action in the years after. Although there are some outstanding organizations working hard on gun control and school safety, it feels like as a society we get too overwhelmed by the immediate horror of the incident and before we gain real traction, we turn our attention to other news stories. I wanted this book to follow the story past the immediate aftermath.

While many school shooting books take place during or immediately after the event, Every Moment After takes place eleven years after the shooting. What made you write it from that perspective, that many years later?
I knew that I didn’t want to write about the shooting itself and that I didn’t want to delve into the details of that event. I did want to explore the way that people find the strength to go on in the years after this kind of tragedy, and how they find meaning in their lives after such trauma. By setting the book many years after the shooting, and at the pivotal moment when the survivors are leaving home, I was able to focus on the long-term community impact rather than on the drama and tragedy of that day.

You’re a clinical psychologist. How does that help/hinder your writing?
For a book like this it’s helpful to have some professional background in understanding psychological trauma. I also work with a lot of adolescents and that helps me to stay in touch with the tone and voice I want for my characters. At the same time, it’s important to “turn off” the clinician in me when making some unhealthy decisions on behalf of my protagonists.

Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a work in progress?
I spent a lot of time googling hot air balloon launch videos for this book. I’m someone who doesn’t love heights, so it wasn’t something I would ordinarily do! I finally wound up cold-calling a balloon company and the owner was very nice about taking me through the details I wasn’t picking up from the videos.

What book(s)s would you recommend to a reader who enjoyed yours, and wants to read something similar?
“After the Shot Drops” by Randy Ribay is an alternating point of view YA novel which deals with male friendship, one of the central topics of my book. Outside of the YA genre, Douglas Coupland wrote a book called “Hey Nostradamus!” several years after Columbine about a high school shooting. It explores the ways in which the tragedy in that book ripples out through the lives of the people in the community, and goes on for decades. Russell Banks’ “The Sweet Hereafter” is a book about a different kind of tragedy, a school bus accident, that takes various perspectives to understand how a terrible event is seen and experienced differently by characters within and outside of the community.

What are three must-have items when you sit down to write?
Coffee; notebook for jotting down stray thoughts before they disappear; and there’s an old sweatshirt I like to wear when I write early in the morning.

Are you working on anything new?
For several years I’ve been trying to write a book about characters with a fictional psychological disorder that makes it very difficult for them to live in their families and communities. Due to their disorder, they are off in a boarding school trying to learn how to cope. It’s been a real world-building challenge to create a unique, believable disorder like that, but I’m hopeful that I’m getting close!


And now for the giveaway! One lucky winner will receive one copy of the book! Giveaway is US only. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below!

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Spotlight Post: There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

Hey everyone! There’s Something About Sweetie (Dimple and Rishi #2) releases in just THREE WEEKS on May 14, 2019 (Simon Pulse)! Have you checked it out/pre-ordered it yet???

Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After he’s dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.

The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?

Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.

Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.

Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?

Goodreads | Amazon

The Book Depository | IndieBound

Spotlight Post: Order of the Majestic by Matt Myklusch (Giveaway)

Hey everyone! Order of the Majestic by Matt Myklusch releases on May 7, 2019 by Aladdin! Have you checked it out/pre-ordered it yet???

Fans of Brandon Mull and James Riley will love this action-packed, accessible fantasy story about one kid’s journey to discover magic as he’s caught up in an epic battle between two powerful ancient orders.

Twelve-year-old daydreamer Joey Kopecky’s life has been turned upside down. After acing a series of tests, he’s declared a genius and awarded a full scholarship at a special (year-round!) school. He’s understandably devastated, until he takes one last test, and the room around him disappears, replaced by the interior of an old theater.

There, Joey meets the washed-up magician, Redondo the Magnificent, and makes a shocking discovery…magic is real, but sadly, there isn’t much left in the world. It may be too late to save what little remains, but for the first time in his life Joey wants to try—really try—to do something big. Soon he’s swept up into a centuries-old conflict between two rival societies of magicians—the Order of the Majestic, who fights to keep magic alive and free for all, and the dark magicians of the Invisible Hand, who hoard magic for their own evil ends.

The endless battle for control of magic itself has reached a tipping point. For Redondo and the Order to survive, Joey must inherit the lost legacy of Harry Houdini. Will he prove himself worthy, or will the Invisible Hand strike him down? The answer will depend on Joey’s ability to believe, not just in magic, but in himself.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Book Depository | IndieBound


And now for the giveaway! Thanks to the team at Aladdin, we have one copy of the book to give away (US only)! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below!

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