Review: “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh

Review: “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated on May 12th, 2015
Format: Hardcover
AmazonBarnes & Noble
One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One NightsThe Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

I wrote this review, and then I rewrote it. Because I wasn’t happy with the way the review turned out so much more negatively than I think I really felt about the book as a whole. And my post-reading reflection has really made me see the story in a new light (I wish I could reread it!).

I do think that perhaps the book is a bit over-hyped, because my expectations were up * HERE * (through the roof and up in the clouds!), while my experience reading it was much more mellow than I think I was expecting — what I was expecting being fiery hate turned to passionate love, breathless action and deceit hiding around every corner, and my heart being torn to bits by the romance.


Find me on Instagram: @everybookaworld

Yet this wasn’t the book I read at all; the book I read was a lot less flashy and fast-paced, but instead goes about carefully crafting a beautiful story in its own way. I don’t want to dump a bunch of metaphors on you guys, but I’ve thought of one that really represents quite well how I feel about the story and I can’t get it out of my mind. The Wrath and the Dawn is a lot like savoring an elegant, fine wine (or so I would imagine) — you take small sips as you come to distinguish the taste and are surrounded by the aroma, and it’s not until you finish the glass that you are affected by its potent, heady pull.

The rich and well-imagined setting drew me into a seductive world of intrigue, beauty and mystery. Never did I question if I was actually there in the story, because Ahdieh’s lush description and imagery surrounded me and really appealed to all my senses. You can feel the hot sun and blowing sand, smell the fragrant scent of flowers enveloping the courtyards, and taste the mouthwateringly delicious platters of food that are served. (Ohh guys, the food. THE FOOD. You will need to eat something while reading this, I guarantee it.) You will feel the silky touch of gossamer silk and the weight of the heavy mantles and jewels worn, and truly see the ornate magnificence of the palace and the beauty of the clothing.

Shahrzad (Shazi for short) is such a refreshing heroine who won all of my respect and admiration. Seriously, I would hug the girl if I could for being all that she is. I appreciate her to the moon and back for not underestimating herself like the plague of other heroines out there. She’s quite talented and very clever, and has incredible inner strength and mental fortitude. Most importantly, she believes in herself and doesn’t put herself down. Though at times she can be a bit brash and her stubbornness occasionally affects her ability to see things clearly, I had no doubts as to why the entire palace was so taken with her.

“You are not weak. You are not indecisive. You are strong. Fierce. Capable beyond measure.”

But what I really wanted to see more of from Shazi that I felt like I never truly got was her love for her friend Shiva. When I saw that she was volunteered to be the Caliph’s next bride to avenge her best friend’s murder, I was so ready for the best friend feels. I was ready for the heartbreaking Shiva flashbacks to start rolling in, to grieve alongside Shahrzad and fuel my own murderous anger towards Khalid. And I got but maybe two half-hearted memories and a few sentences of apostrophe directed towards Shiva.

Which brings me to the mighty Caliph of Khorasan, eighteen year-old boy-king Khalid. Khalid was not all all the person I was expecting, and there is much more to him than meets the eye. His horrid reputation precedes him, as he’s constantly described as a ruthless murderer, a true monster. Yet not once did I feel these things were true. Just from the synopsis alone, we are told he is incredibly different, “a boy with a tormented heart.” The prologue tells us that we should question the reason behind his “senseless” killings. He is incredibly jaded, has an exterior of stone, and a simmering temper that is fearsome when provoked. Yet it would be a mistake to think of him only as we are told (“monster”) or as he appears (cold). I think I clung to this portrayal far too long, and sometimes failed to see the truth. He has incredible depth as a character that must be unearthed bit by bit, revealed in its own due time. 

“Trust that the man you see now is a shadow of what lies beneath.”

The romance is the heart and soul of the story, and it is beautiful. Despite the adverse circumstances, the two have an instantly palpable chemistry, which initially leads to butting heads but slowly develops into captivating romance. I felt the love, and to me Khalid and Shazi seem to have an deep understanding of each other on another level, even when their secrets were like a gulf between them. Their romance is a fragile thing, intimate and dear, yet prone to destruction from so many forces. In so many ways their relationship is very serious and adult, so on my part, at least, there was no swooning or squealing. But it is still a force to behold, filled with emotion, subtlety, and intensity.

“I know love is fragile. And loving someone like you is near impossible. Like holding something shattered through a raging sandstorm. If you want her to love you, shelter her from that storm…And make certain that storm isn’t you.”

There are so many interesting side characters that I loved, though I do wish we had more from them. I liked humble and wise Omar, eccentric and caring Musa, sassy and sharp Despina, and so many more characters. I have a huuuge soft spot for Jalal, the captain of the guard who is Khalid’s cousin. His curls, his confidence and teasing, and his trust and insight wormed their way into my heart. Then there’s Tariq, Shazi’s childhood friend and first love who tries to “rescue” her. He’s misguided in so many ways, and while his sense of being entitled to having Shazi and not really listening and trusting in her nettled me to no end, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him. Shahrzad’s family, on the other hand, could’ve used more fleshing out. I felt the least connected to them by far.

The pacing is what was tough for me, because it is unique and different from what I was expecting. It takes some time to establish the setting and the characters, and for so long nothing seems to happen that isn’t described in the synopsis. I think this is what kept getting me distracted and putting down the book. Sometimes the plot seems to flounder, meander. But what I think I recognize now is that because it is the romance that is central to the story, and must be carefully developed, the plot is bound to be slow. But the end part was GREAT — so much action, and all the potential finally fulfilled! I still can’t help but wish that it didn’t all have to be withheld to the end. It’s like I saw all that Ahdieh was capable of writing, but confined only to the last part.

AND THERE IS A HEARTBREAKING CLIFFHANGER. I liked its delicious torture, though I’m actually pretty confused about things. View Spoiler »

I think my biggest complaint is that I just wanted MORE. Of a lot of things. Which isn’t entirely awful. As a matter fact, the book even started to deliver on it near the end, and I actually have a good deal of faith that book 2 WILL deliver.

Also, PSA: the very important glossary is wedged BETWEEN the end of book 1 and the sneak preview to book 2.  Oh, if only I had known!

The Wrath and the Dawn was not the book I was expecting to read, but it slowly drew me in until its ending pulled me under.

Intoxicating, beautiful, and full of secrets.


More Library Love: It’s the Little Things

More Library Love

I’ve already touched quite a bit on my love for libraries in a past post — why I prefer to borrow vs. buy books, my thoughts on why the library system is like a magical unicorn, yada yada…

But I realized that I’ve only just skimmed the surface of my love for the library. When you spend as much time at the library as I do, you start to notice certain habits that come with being a frequent library-goer. You could probably drive the route to your local library blindfolded, your library bag is the largest you own and is likely a bit dirty from overuse, and you no doubt had your library card number memorized ages ago…

And it’s not just the quirky habits of library-goers that I’ve noticed — it’s also the little things I appreciate when I’m at the library. Be they moments of near literary nirvana in the stacks or the little victories in snagging the exact book I want, I’ve come to appreciate so many small things about the library.

Prepare yourselves, this won't be a short list!

Prepare yourselves, this won’t be a short list!

So settle in and cozy up as I list the little things I love about the library! Hopefully if I’m doing it right, my fellow library regulars will be nodding their heads and saying, “That’s so me!” Or maybe you’ll just be a little creeped out by how much time I must spend at the library. * winks * You know, I don’t claim it as my permanent address, but…

1. When your hold comes in faster than expected!


It’s the book you’ve just been dying to get your hands on, but you were too broke to buy at the bookstore. Your dramatic sigh of defeat and desperation when viewing the decades-long holds list was probably the Sigh Heard Round the World. You placed the hold and then promptly tried to forget about it, lest you drown in your misery. But — lo and behold! — on your next trip to the library there it sits, calling to you from its place on the holds shelf with your name on it! Praise be to the speed-readers and hold-cancellers everywhere.

2. When a librarian manages to track down a book you couldn’t f ind anywhere.

You NEED this book unlike any other book you’ve ever needed in your life (since last week), but it’s nowhere to be found. It’s not in its designated spot on the shelf, it’s not a new book, and it doesn’t even seem to be on display. You gather up the courage to pester the librarian at the desk (who turns out to be rather nice), and they disappear into and return from some magical back room with your book in tow! Now tell me who the real miracle workers are…

 3. When you’re the only person in the section and feel like the whole place belongs to you.


Sure, you understand that the library is a public place, and that that’s even part of what makes it so special. Still, you can’t help but wish sometimes that you were the only one around, enjoying your books in peace and quiet. You happen to glance to your right, and — gasp! — there’s no one there. You peek to the left, and it’s similarly abandoned. Smiling with bookish glee, you settle deeper into your armchair, secretly name this part of the library as your section for now and forever more, and get to reading like you’re the only person in the world.

4. When you f ind the new book you wanted actually on the shelf, somehow miraculously hold-less!

Perhaps in a case very similar to #1, the new book you want must be obtained from the library. But maybe you forgot to place a hold on it, and are despairing because you’re sure that by now trying to get it must be a lost cause. Yet when browsing the new books, it suddenly appears on the shelf like a mirage. Who are you to question the questionable taste of your fellow library patrons? It’s definitely their loss if they don’t know a good book when they see one. Snatch that baby off the shelf and it’s YOURS!

 5. When you can spend hours at the library unhassled by family members anxious to leave.


While they claim to like reading (or maybe they never made any such claim), your family members sure do seem to want to leave within 15 minutes of arriving. They say they’ve got this or that obviously less important thing to do — but can’t they see you’ve only just barely started looking for books? (The tall stack by your bag might be a bit misleading). This time you managed to beg off having to go as a family by promising to pick up their holds, but make no promises about the hour of your return. Rejoice!

6. When you happen across a book on the shelves that you didn’t even know you needed!

Oh my gosh, they make books on the history of children’s publishing? Wait, do I really need this book on cats and reading? Is this actually a book about time-traveling, sword-wielding princesses? Sign me up! Alas, even Goodreads and fellow bloggers cannot alert you to every book out there that you’d love. And so enters the wondrous serendipity of finding books simply while browsing the stacks. Highly recommended, particularly if you’ve got a good deal of time on your hands and a penchant for experimentation.

7. When the shelves are decorated with librarian-made book art.


As the motto goes, you can never have enough book art. Or at least it should! If your librarians aren’t making book art for the library, what are they doing? (Kidding! Very much kidding. Bow down to your librarians.) A few origami flowers made from book pages are practically essential. And that Christmas tree they made months ago from used paperbacks and a few string lights? GENIUS.

8. When you come across a kindred spirit in the stacks.

You’re completely engrossed in finding the shelf where the M’s begin when you almost trip over someone sitting in the stacks. Yet you’re not even mad, because they’re surrounded by small piles of books, completely absorbed in whatever it is they’re reading. By gosh, that could be one of your clones right there! You give them ample space when going around them, and send positive book vibes their way.

What do you think, did I nail it with this list? What are some of the little things you love about the library? Share some library love!


Review: “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson

Review: “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy NelsonI'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Published by Penguin on September 16th 2014
Format: Hardcover
AmazonBarnes & Noble
A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell 

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

[Warning: review partially written under the influence of this heady, intoxicating book. Language may or may not have been hijacked by Noah Sweetwine’s incredible voice.]

Oh, man. I would review this just by stringing together quote after beautiful quote if I could! Seriously, I could do it. I liked about 23 quotes on Goodreads. (My secret mission may or may not be to convince you to read it from the quotes alone. 😉 )

“Who knows if [maybe] destiny is just how you tell yourself the story of your life?”

As mentioned in the synopsis, I’ll Give You the Sun has a really unique structure — and it creates a one-of-a-kind story that you can’t forget. The book has 2 POVs: the first being Noah as he narrates their life at about 13 years old, and the second being Jude as she narrates their life at 16. During the time between the two perspectives, it’s clear that some major things have happened that have caused the twins to painfully grow apart until they hardly recognize each other. Both POVs feature pivotal moments in their lives as the reader tries to piece together what happened.

“This is what I want: I want to grab my brother’s hand and run back through time, losing years like coats falling from our shoulders.”

Though I hesitate to use the term (because I’m not sure that it accurately describes it, though it’s the only word I really have), the book is full of magical realism and I absolutely LOVED it! It took a little time to adjust, wondering if some of the outrageous things described we really happening, but once I learned to roll with it, there was no going back. For me, it magnified the emotions of everything that was happening and made it that much stronger and dizzyingly brilliant. It made the ordinary extraordinary.

“There’s something going on in his face right now, something very bright trying to get out — a dam keeping back a wall of light. His soul might be a sun. I’ve never met anyone that had the sun for a soul.”

And this book just has so many “-isms,” I’ll-give-you-the-sun-isms. Things that make the book so special and types of “inside jokes” that people who haven’t read the book would be utterly confused by. Like that you should probably cry if I call you a “broken umbrella,” or that you should be pretty angry if I call you a “toilet-licking, garbage-headed scum-sucker.” (Then again, maybe that one’s not so hard to figure out, haha.) And Clark Gable knows that you shouldn’t just go around handing out oranges to people because that is DANGEROUS.

Each different perspective is also broken up by snippets unique to each POV that are so like that character, and provide insight. Noah’s snippets are the portraits he paints in “the invisible museum” of his mind (he’s an artist). Jude’s are prices of bizarre advice and remedies found in the “bible” she inherits from her grandmother (she’s a bit superstitious). I enjoyed them so much!

(SELF-PORTRAIT: Boy Rowing Madly Back Through Time)
If a boy gives a girl an orange, her love for him will multiply

But undeniably, it was really Noah Sweetwine who stole the show. This boy. I LOVE THIS BOY. I don’t think I couldn’t like him even if I tried. (And trying would be a terrible crime.) His voice is so purely honest and emotional. At 13 Noah is shy but passionate, his whole world awash in colors and images, and his whole life is his art. He feels like no one understands him but Jude.

“It occurs to me that Jude does this too, changes who she is depending on who she’s with. They’re like toads changing their skin color. How come I’m always just me?”

That is, until he meets Brian. The way Noah describes Brian is like a heaven-sent being. (PORTRAIT, SELF-PORTRAIT: The Boy Who Watched the Boy Hypnotize the World) Brian is nerdy just like Noah, and he has this incredible inner energy. Noah’s world shifts as soon as he meets him, because he finally finds someone else who understands him. Their feelings for each other are exhilarating and warm, tentative and infectious. I’ll confess, I had I only read two other LGBTQ romance books before this, and neither were great. But Brian and Noah? Their romance blows EVERYTHING out of the water.

“I’m thinking the reason I’ve been so quiet all those years is only because Brian wasn’t around yet for me to tell everything to.”

Onto Jude, “the patron saint of lost causes.” Yes, while it took me a little while to warm up to Jude — she isn’t exactly warm and huggable — she eventually won me over. At 16 Jude is a girl lost, hiding from the world with her life “on pause.” She’s struggling to deal with so many unresolved issues in her life that she’s kind of buried herself and resorted to her superstitious “bible-thumping,” and above all, her boycott. But you see the she does have a strong will and plenty of determination, and that she has so much guilt that is just tearing her up inside. She does care, she just needs to remember that it’s ok to show it.

“I think you can sort of slip out of your life and it can be hard to f ind a way back in.”
“What if I’m in charge of my own damn light switch?”

I first decided to pick up this book because of Noah and Jude’s sibling-hood, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a big part of the story, but also not the central focus — I guess I’d say it’s like a very crucial frame to the story that is all-important, but not always the center of attention. I’m sure that anyone who is close with their siblings can relate pretty well, but as a triplet myself, everything about them hit me so hard and reminded me of my sisters and I. Their famous shoulder-to-shoulder “smush” pose that makes them feel complete together, the way they play at splitting up the world for world domination — even the way they both marry a madrone tree when they were five (with Jude also being the minister). Their incredible closeness and shared imagination felt so familiar. And the way Jude worries about how much Noah has changed and how their relationship is nonexistent — it KILLED me inside.

When twins are separated, their spirits seal away to f ind the other

And there’s so much more to discover that I didn’t touch on if you read the book. Two other amazing characters, another fated romance, tangibly heartbreaking family issues, more awesome art stuff, ghosts, jealousy, donuts, penis panic attacks… wait, what? I guess you’ll just have to read it to find out. * mwah ha ha ha *

If you’ve ever thought about starting this book, START IT. If you’ve never heard of this book, well, you have now, so READ IT ALREADY!


The Pixar Book Tag: Cute Gifs & Hard Choices!

the pixar book tag

This is actually the first tag I’ve participated in (though I made my own here called BURN, REWRITE, OR REREAD?), so I hope you guys enjoy reading it as much as I did answering the questions!

Huge thanks to Ju from Fictional Skylines for tagging me to participate in this fun, movie-filled tag! (And forcing me to make such hard decisions about characters and films. 😉 ) Graphic credits go to the tag creator, Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales.

Prepare for an onslaught of cute Pixar gifs! And probably some whining about how hard it was to choose favorites. I’m really bad at it, okay? There might be some cheating involved.

1. Warm-up: What’s your favorite Pixar movie?


I was kinda late to the whole WALL-E craze, because I didn’t watch it when it first came out, but gosh this was just bound to be my favorite! A Pixar movie about space?! How could I not love it? Funnily enough, I didn’t know going into my first viewing that the main characters (WALL-E, EVE) wouldn’t really be doing too much speaking, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it that way. That WALL-E is just as emotional and heartfelt as Pixar’s other movies even without too much speaking is just incredible.

Runners-up: Up and The Incredibles.

2. Toy Story: Favorite childhood book that you never grew out of?


For me, it’s hard to say there’s a childhood book I never grew out of (look, even Andy gave away his toys!). I feel like I read Harry Potter too late for it too count. There are books that I still remember fondly today that I was still reading in my early teens — though partly because they also stradled the Juvenile and YA sections at the library just like Harry Potter.

The day in fourth grade that I discovered Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Alice series was just the start of such a wonderful journey. I had no clue I would keep reading every book as they came out for years to come — there are about 25 books, and I’ve read nearly every one!  Alice begins as incredibly awkward and easily embarrassed girl and grows into such a emotionally strong woman who stands up for what is right and is always there for the people she loves. She’s an incredible role model, yet she’s always felt so believable, like she was the girl next door. The books are so funny and heartfelt, and just get what growing up feels like. And you get to see everyone in Alice’s life, from her dad and her brother, Lester (he’s a riot), to her best friends, grow up right alongside her. Ok, I’ll stop now because I could could keep going for quite a while, haha…

Runner-up: the Warriors series and all the following series by Erin Hunter

3. A Bug’s Life: A book that felt too similar to another popular book?


(Confession: I always preferred Antz over A Bug’s Life, maybe because I’ve watched it more — but speaking of things that feel too similar…) Sometimes it seems just like coincidence that two books feel so similar in their plot lines, like they just happened to be published separately but around the same time. And other times it seems obvious that someone is trying to ride another book’s coattails of success. While there are always genres that are “hot,” you still don’t want to read a book that feels exactly like another you loved.

For me, that series is The Testing series by Joelle Charbonneau. Its premise feels quite the same as The Hunger Games, as it features an arena-like fight-to-the-death competition in a oppressive society. Now, I won’t say that I disliked this series, because it was actually quite good, and had so many adrenaline-pumping moments. It’s intense! But world-building wise, and even sometimes plot-wise, it didn’t have anything that truly set it apart from The Hunger Games. The sequel was not as good, and the final book has been sitting on my bookshelf for over a year.

4. Monsters Inc: A villain whom you couldn’t hate?


I’M NOT SURE I CAN DO THIS. I’ve been introduced to too many “good” villains as of late, and choosing is impossibly hard. But I’m going to have to go the popular and undeniable route and choose… THE DARKLING from the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo! (I would use his beautiful true name, but I do not want to spoil innocent ears 😉 ) I love this series to pieces, and I am sooo overdue for a re-read. The Darkling is a mysterious and enigmatic character, but undoubtedly bad. He’s done terrible things, and he’s probably evil beyond hope. He is filled with decades of darkness, is power-hungry, and is quite jaded.  Yet underneath it all is an incredible loneliness and the knowledge that the great supernatural power he wields will always set him apart from everyone else. Everyone, except maybe our heroine, Alina, who also has incredible powers. And so ensues an a affair of seduction, power, and lust that rivals all others. Trust me when I say it feels so wrong, BUT IT FEELS SO RIGHT.

Runner-up: Victor (and maybe Eli? probably not) from Vicious by V.E. Schwab. This book really explores the gray areas between “good” and “bad” and who a villain really is, and it is fantastic. You just can’t hate Victor, he’s sarcastic and he really does care. ““If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain? He took a long sip of his drink, tipped his head back against the couch, and decided he could live with that.”

5. Finding Nemo: Best family relationship you read about in a book?

101-Finding-Nemo-quotesI guess I’ve read too many books with orphans, because I’m trying to think of some of my favorite family relationships I’ve read about, and I’m coming up blank! A lot of books feature a dull or average family, or horrible parents, etc. There are some that are supposed to be good relationships, but they don’t really make me feel that much of anything. I want a family relationship that will give me ALL THE FEELS!

So the only book that I could think of is the book I’m currently reading, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, though I think this is kind of cheating because I haven’t finished reading it yet. The two narrators are twins that used to be inseparable but have become unrecognizable to each other after a few things went down years ago. It’s told both from the past and the present. Because I’m a triplet, the agony the twins feel over being estranged really makes me choke up, and I can say that Nelson writes their sibling-hood so well. :’)

6. The Incredibles: The superpower of a character that you wish you had?


This was kind of hard for me, because I feel like TV/movie characters get the really awesome powers, and book characters usually get left with the undesirable, super dark powers! What I would want most would be the ability to bend time and space that Hiro from the show Heroes has, because it allows him to teleport, time travel, and stop time. But if I had to chose from book characters… I would want the ability to churn milk into chocolate, like Emmeline The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors. I think no explanation is needed besides the fact that I luuuurve chocolate!

7. Cars: A book where the characters go on a road trip/travel a lot?


I LOVE books with a lot of travel in them, but I haven’t actually read as many as I would’ve liked. Even of the ones of read it’s pretty hard to chose. But I’m gonna have to go with a classic one that I read a long time ago which may have been one of my first YA “travel lit” books: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. This book is just so fun, as the main character travels across Europe fulfilling the wishes of her aunt who recently died and left Ginny 13 different instructions in envelopes. It turns into something like a scavenger hunt around Europe! 

8. Ratatouille: Your favorite sidekick in a book?


I thought it would be hard to come up with a great sidekick until I realized my GR read list is FULL of them! The best one I’ve recently read is definitely Buruu from Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. I mean come on, a beautiful, fearsome thunder tiger by your side?! He is proud, he is fiercely loyal, and he is everything. Enemies at first, the main character Yukiko and Buruu form an unbreakable bond like that of siblings and would surely die for each other. They can read each others’ minds, use each others’ senses, and fight together like badasses. Oh, and Yukiko can fly on Buruu’s back. Yup, Buruu is where it’s at.

Runner-up: Nimona from the graphic novel Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. She solicits herself as an awesome sidekick to Lord Ballister Blackheart, and is basically an out-of-control sidekick who manages to save the day as much as she ruins everything. And she is a shape-shifter who can turn into any animal, real or mythological. And she’s unlike any character I’ve ever come across before!

9. Wall-E: What’s your favorite (or top 5) dystopian book/series?


Aww, man. I read so much dystopian back in the day! Some overlap a little with sci-fi, so it’s a little hard to distinguish, but… Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds series wins. Probably because they’re some of my favorite books ever, dystopian or not. Her dystopian world feels very real and frightening, as young kids who survived a disease that gave them powers are locked up in concentration camps and hunted across the country by bounty hunters.

Runner-up: the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. No one wants inflicted brain lesions dumbing them down and controlling them.

10. Up: The most beautiful love story you’ve ever read?


I feel like beautiful is such a high standard to live up to for a romance! A lot of YA romances tend to be filled with chemistry, angst, or problems. I think “beautiful” definitely borders more on “cute.” I’m going to go a less traditional route an highlight a MG romance from one of my favorite, most underrated series: Elliot and Madeleine from The Colours of Madeleine series by Jaclyn Moriarty. It’s actually less of a romance and more of a discovering of feelings for each other (at least so far). It is refreshing to read about a younger teenage relationship after so many of the usual YA romances. The feelings between Elliot and Madeleine are so pure, fragile, and tentative. There is so much hope, and also so much caution. It is a beautiful thing to behold, this falling, this orbiting of each other, this alignment of fractured pieces. It isn’t overwhelming in the book, but I was still rooting for them. They are friends looking for support that find a little more.

Runner-up: Jase and Samantha from My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. Their relationship is adorable and a really “healthy” teenage relationship, as Cristina from Girl in the Pages explains so well.

11. Brave: The most badass heroine you’ve read about?


The most badass ladies I’ve ever seen are definitely the women of the CW show The 100 (* warning * linked video has violence and a quickly flashed spoiler for season 2 in the last 10 seconds). I haven’t read the books though, because they supposedly aren’t that good and are really different from the show.

I’m not sure I’ve read of a YA heroine that is so clearly a badass, but I think Kestrel from The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a different kind of badass heroine. She may not have the fighting skills expected of her in her homeland, but she is incredibly cunning and strategizes like no one else. She’s not afraid to lie and resort to other tactics to get what she wants, and she will make ALL THE TOUGH CHOICES. Girl’s got guts, if not in the typical way.

12. Inside Out: The book that gave you all the feels?


I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I hope to! The last book that left me sobbing was Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. It takes the taboo topic of incest and makes it a devastating reality between two siblings who always felt more like parents raising their siblings. Nothing in the book is unrealistically romanticized, and everything is dealt with head-on and shown to be the true mess that it is. Yet the writing is beautiful, and the characters’ stories unforgettable. Let’s just say that not all forbidden romances end well…

Yikes, sorry for such a long post, I got carried away! Now I really want to re-watch a Pixar movie. Maybe Monsters Inc.? Anyways…

I tag Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight and Meg @ Adrift on Vulcan!

Totally optional, but it was a lot of fun 😀 Anyone else can feel free to complete it as well!


ARC Review: “Legacy of Kings” by Eleanor Herman

ARC Review: “Legacy of Kings” by Eleanor HermanLegacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals #1
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 25th, 2015
Format: eARC
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

I received access to this galley for free from Paper Lantern Lit’s Trendsetter program through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I must admit, when I saw everyone across the blogosphere getting excited for Legacy of Kings, I saw the appeal but couldn’t really share the excitement. I’m a tad ambivalent when it comes to Historical Fiction — I don’t really seek it out, but every once in a while a synopsis will catch my interest, though the book will usually go to the bottom of my TBR pile. Legacy of Kings also has fantasy elements, but it reads primarily like historical fiction.

I’m gonna be honest here — Legacy of Kings wasn’t really my cup of tea. While it undoubtedly has things going for it, like the plot and world building, I felt that it had some major flaws that prevented me from really getting into it for the most part.

Legacy of Kings promises a lot on the historical side of things, and it definitely delivered it. Somehow I never remember learning anything in great detail about Alexander the Great in history class besides his empire — but evidently, I was missing a lot. Herman takes some historical details about Alexander’s youth — like his best friend (Hephaestion), his royal parents, and his betrothed (Zofia) — and brings his story to life. The world building is quite sound, and really transports the reader to Ancient Greece and Persia. So many details throughout the book show that Herman really did her research, from the ancient Greek clothing and armor to the luxurious Persian perfumes and oils.

As for the story itself? I have so many different feelings about it, they hardly even make sense to me. 

For reference, the story is told from about 7 different POVs: Kat, a peasant girl with secrets; Jacob, her foster brother who is in love with her and seeks to prove himself; Alex, heir to the throne and quite insightful, yet frustrated by his lack of power; Heph, Alex’s loyal and proud best friend; Cyn, Alex’s half sister who rejects her destiny and strives for more; Olympias, the “evil” queen and Alex’s mother; and Zofia, who is engaged to Alex but flees her palace to try and be with the man she really loves.

Whew. And that was just a bare-bones description.

When I step back and think of the story that was told, I’m amazed. That Herman manages to weave so many stories into one is pretty incredible. In some senses, the world really comes to life because we hear from so many different perspectives and have so many pieces of the story. You just get to know so much.

Yet the book’s structure overall just didn’t work for me. Immediately upon starting the book, I noticed that it was written in third person, present tense. Noting the tense and narration style at the beginning of a book is not something I almost ever do consciously. Yet it was so completely jarring for some reason that most of the time I never felt truly immersed in the book. It was always “Kat does this, Alex does that, Heph is over here doing this”… It was weird. I felt very much outside of the book while reading it, and that is not how I want to feel when reading.        

The strange narrative style, combined with having so many POVs, really made the characters fall flat for me. Not only did I never really feel like I was there with the character when I was reading, but the POVs were also switching pretty frequently, especially in the beginning. I never really felt emotionally invested in the characters or their relationships. Characters can make or break a book for me, and in this book they definitely didn’t do it for me.

I guess if I didn’t feel for the characters, it should only follow that I wasn’t really into the romances. But it was more than that — the romances kind of felt like a mess to me. The “main” romance between Kat and Jacob starts in the very first pages with their first kiss, so I felt like I never really got to see the romance develop. Their romance feels like it should be quite central to the story, but it feels a lot like a mere plot device and is never really given enough focus. Meanwhile, there were multiple hints of romance at other points in the book that felt unnecessary and out of place. It felt like a love triangle formed out of nowhere, for no good reason. I wasn’t really shipping anyone together, and it all felt pretty jumbled. 

There were some bright spots to the multiple POVs — like getting to read from the POVs of the “villains.” Most books, you never really get to know what the supposed “enemy” is up to, yet here we get peeks that give us their motives and snippets of their actions. Storyline-wise, my favorite POVs were Zofia and Kat: Zo because I loved the Persian setting and her runaway plot line, and Kat because she was the most relatable and the core of the magical elements in the book that make Legacy of Kings more than just historical fiction.

So it’s kind of hard to really say how I feel about the book overall. I think that readers who love historical fiction will just about devour the book, because getting a peek into a reimagined history of Alexander the Great’s youth is just to good to pass up. But for me, it was hard to get past the narration style, and I was pretty disappointed in the romances and the fact that I didn’t feel anything for the characters. The pacing is also on the slower side, and while it was fascinating to see all the pieces of the POVs come together at the end, I had mostly already guessed the big reveal.

A fascinating look at a reimagined history, but I was disappointed by the way the story was told, and was let down by the characters and their relationships.