2015 Book #58 – The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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Title: The Wrath & The Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Date finished: 6/16/15 (12:02am so technically the 16th, lol)
Genre: Young Adult – Fairy tale retelling, romance
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Pages in book: 388
Stand alone or series: #1 in The Saga of Shahrzad and Khalid

Blurb from the cover:

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

My rating: 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book with a love triangle” check box since there is a love triangle between Shazi and Khalid and Shazi and Tariq. Just as a quick aside, I never understood why its a love triangle. If you think about it, both boys are in love with Shazi but they’re not like in love with each other so why are they technically connected in the last leg of the love triangle? I think it makes more sense just to call it a love angle. I don’t know, this has bothered me. Anyways, I saw this book listed in a few recent publications, including a recent BookPage newsletter, and here and there on listings of books to read this summer or books to look out for. This is the author’s first book and it was just great!
So this book was inspired by A Thousand and One Nights which is a collection of stories and folk tales, also known as the Arabian Nights. I think that these stories are fairly widely heard of, and the premise is well known. The connection between the inspiration and the resulting novel is obvious, though this story is entirely its own and I thought it was very creative. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever read anything else like this. And not only was it creative but it was beautifully written and the descriptions of the clothing and the scenery and just everything was wonderfully done. I was hooked into the story from the beginning, dying (ha) to know why a bride had to die each morning. I love Shazi’s character and her growth through the novel was easy to follow and enchanting to experience. I really don’t want to talk too much about the plot because I don’t want to give anything away. There are a lot of different pieces in play in this novel and I had no idea that the story was going to continue after this book. I think it was my lack of knowledge that left me feeling overly frustrated in the end, especially since we will have to wait a year for the second book to be released. Overall I really just loved this book though and I will wait patiently (or at least try to) for the next book to come out.
The bottom line: EVERYONE GO READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. I don’t know how I will be able to continue living until the next book comes out NEXT YEAR! I loved this book. Just loved it.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #35 – My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

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Title: My Sunshine Away
Author: M.O.Walsh
Date finished: 4/22/15
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Pages in book: 303
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

It was the summer everything changed.…
My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom. But in the summer of 1989, when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson—free spirit, track star, and belle of the block—experiences a horrible crime late one evening near her home, it becomes apparent that this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia has a dark side, too.
In My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh brilliantly juxtaposes the enchantment of a charmed childhood with the gripping story of a violent crime, unraveling families, and consuming adolescent love. Acutely wise and deeply honest, it is an astonishing and page-turning debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive.

My rating: 3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will count for the challenge I am participating in for April, the#ReadingMyLibrary reading challenge. I checked out this book from the Simsbury Public Library. I’ve seen this book in a number of recent book review publications and it was listed as #11 on Amazon’s Best Books of February 2015 listing. Going into this book, I knew that it was not going to be a happy-go-lucky book. This was an odd book for me. From the beginning of the novel, you can feel the narrator’s guilt. It is confusing at first trying to discover whether the narrator was the actual criminal in the act that would forever alter Lindy Simpson. After learning of the narrator’s character through the story though, it is hard to imagine him capable of rape. The book alternates between memories from before and after Lindy’s rape, centering around our narrator’s experiences with his family and with Lindy herself.
There were a lot of profound thoughts that this adult narrator looking back on his teenager self is realizing or just now articulating. His description with his mother and father, who are divorced, as well as how he deals with his sister’s death, are thought-provoking. His description of realizing that weakness lives in both his parents is something every child realizes as they grow and have to realize that a weakness lies within all of us. One of the thoughts from the book that really stuck with me is when the author states that he finds it amazing how little information children have to work with on a daily basis, or something to that effect. It really is entirely true. Children have to operate on a daily basis with less information that adults because the adults in their life are (hopefully) trying to shield them from the harsh realities of the world.
The whole story is told in the first person through the view of our narrator and I found it really amazing that looking through the narrator’s eyes as a teenager, I could connect so well and see the hormonal ups and downs and emotional rollercoaster that the narrator was just trying to survive during this awful period of time in Lindy’s life.
I thought this was overall a very interesting book. It deals with some very heavy issues though so I would say that readers definitely need to have the mental maturity to handle those issues that are introduced in the story.

The bottom line: A little dark but I think contains some very important thoughts, I would recommend with a precaution. You read about the aftermath of how a neighborhood deals with a girl’s rape. It is harsh. Just be prepared. Not for kids.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #32 – The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

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Title: The Magician’s Lie
Author: Greer Macallister
Date finished: 4/17/15
Genre: Fiction – Mystery / Historical / Magical
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Pages in book: 312
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden’s husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear.
But when Virgil happens upon the fleeing magician and takes her into custody, she has a very different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless-and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding. Over the course of one eerie night, Virgil must decide whether to turn Arden in or set her free… and it will take all he has to see through the smoke and mirrors.

My rating: 4 stars out of a scale of 5
My review: This book will count for the challenge I am participating in for April, the #ReadingMyLibrary reading challenge. I checked out this book from the Terryville Library. I saw this book in a recent BookPage publication I think and a couple other places so when I saw it at the library I thought I would give it a try. From the beginning, this was a really interesting story. The murder is introduced early on in the book and then we learn through the rest of the story how this young woman’s life has gotten to where she is now, in police custody.
The Amazing Arden has had what many would consider a very difficult life. Her story is heart-wrenching and enthralling at the same time. That she has survived so much is truly astounding. There were a couple of drier parts to the story that were a little more difficult to get through but overall I really liked the book. The only thing I still wondered about after it ended was what happened to Ada’s mom? I can’t help but worry that Ray found a way to somehow punish Victor and the mom for Ada’s disappearance.
Ray’s character was just so creepy. The whole time I was reading this book, I found myself looking over my shoulder to make sure no one was following me. Ray is just such a scary person and the whole book just felt so real to me that I felt like I was living the scary parts sometimes.

The bottom line: Really interesting! Pretty dark but I found it riveting. I would recommend it.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page