Book Review: The Wrath & the Dawn

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Synopsis:

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.

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Review

I’ve had The Wrath and the Dawn duology on my to-be-read list for at least a year now, so when my friend asked if I wanted to do a buddy read of it I decided to go for it and I’m glad I did.

The story, which is loosely based on A Thousand and One Nights, started a bit slow for me. Told in the third person point of view, we follow Shazi as she embarks on her path of revenge to kill the Caliph, Khalid, who killed her best friend, Shiva, and all his other wives.

Of course, things are much more complicated than Shazi realized and somehow she ends up finding herself falling for Khalid. Honestly, I can’t blame her, because I started to fall for him too. While Shazi’s dealing with her confusing feelings for Khalid, her first love Tariq and her father, Jahandar, are determined to save her. However, their means of trying to save Shazi may cause more problems than they resolve. Also, Shazi may not want to be saved.

I really liked almost all the characters in this. I really liked Shazi and Khalid, especially their romance. It was surprisingly super cute for a story about a guy who kills all his wives. I also really liked Shazi’s handmaiden, Despina, and Khalid’s cousin, Jalal. They brought some necessary humor to the story.

The only characters that irritated me were Tariq and Jahandar. Tariq, because he gave me serious Tamlin (from A Court of Thorns and Roses) vibes, and Jahandar, because while he definitely had good intentions he was totally going about it the wrong way. Besides them, though, I really enjoyed all the characters, and find the villains to be interesting.

I only had a few real issues with this novel, besides the slow beginning. First, we barely saw Shazi’s sister, Irsa. I know nothing about her and I felt like I’d like her if she was in the story more. I also kind of shipped her with Shazi’s friend, Rahim, for no reason, honestly. I just kind of hope that happens.

Second, I was a little uncomfortable with Shazi and Khalid having sex in the beginning. On the one hand, I get that they have to consummate the marriage but it just felt wrong to me, especially because obviously neither of them were really into it. However, I was able to move past it and truly enjoyed this novel and the romance that inevitable blossomed between Shazi and Khalid.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot and I can’t wait to read the sequel and see what happens next for Shazi and Khalid. If you’ve read The Wrath and the Dawn, let me know your thoughts about it below.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you.”

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Book Review: The Edge of Everything

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Synopsis:

For the perfect love, what would you be willing to lose?

It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shocking death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying subzero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in the woods–only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for them both.

Gripping and full of heart, this epic start to a new series will bring readers right to the edge of everything.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading The Edge of Everything. I don’t think I read the synopsis beforehand, or if I did I didn’t remember it once I started the novel. I didn’t even realize this was a series until very near the end, which shifted my perspective quite a bit. While I would’ve liked to have known that beforehand, I think it was good that I didn’t know what to expect going into this novel.

The book is told in close third person point of view alternating between protagonists and love interests Zoe and X. It starts with a prologue that immediately drew me in because I loved the characters almost instantly. Zoe is snarky, whereas X is quiet and timid, even though he could totally kill you with his bare hands. He also speaks like he’s from the 19th century, which I found hilarious and cute. Add in the fact that he adorably has no understanding of the world because he’s grown up in the Lowlands, which is basically hell, and X is now on my book boyfriends list.

Besides Zoe and X, I enjoyed pretty much every character in this novel. I loved Zoe’s little family. Her mom is such a badass and her brother Jonah is so cute and super excitable. Then there’s Zoe’s ex Dallas who is such a dork and I love him. Zoe’s best friend Val was also great and funny. Down in the Lowlands, I really liked X’s friends Banger and Ripper, which is interesting because on the one hand they’ve done terrible things to end up in the Lowlands and yet I ended up loving them anyway. I also really liked the one of the Lowlands lord Regent and how he treated X. There’s some other lords that I could’ve lived without.

Essentially, the best part about this novel was the characters. They’re who really drew me in and I loved Zoe and X’s relationship, however, if you’re not a fan of insta-love you will not like this. I am a fan (in most cases) so I was immediately on the Zoe/X love train. The plot itself, however, didn’t draw me in as much as I would’ve hoped. My main issue was that it definitely felt predictable to me. I had a suspicion from early on that ended up proving to be right and I didn’t want to be.

Also, there’s a long part of the novel where Zoe and X are apart and while I understood why, that part of the novel dragged for me. I started skimming, thinking to myself, “Give me the good stuff. Where is the action?” It was just a bit too slow for me. However, once I got past that hump things got really interesting and I was sucked back in.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed The Edge of Everything and I will be reading the sequel, mainly because I need to know how this all ends. I’m kind of hoping this is just a duology, though I have no idea if that’s actually the case. I feel like I only need one more book to tie everything up but who knows what Jeff Giles has up his sleeves?

In any case, The Edge of Everything was worth the read and if you haven’t read it yet you should give it a chance.

Borrow or Buy: Buy

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“If I do not return it is only because not one but two worlds conspired to stop me.”

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Book Review: Clockwork Prince

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Synopsis from Amazon.com:

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

*Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read Clockwork Angel yet don’t read this review.*

I don’t even know where to begin with this book. There was betrayal, a love triangle, action, surprises, and so much more. I loved it. Honestly, I don’t even know what else to say.

At the start of this novel Benedick Benedict Lightwood (who I still can’t believe is Izzy and Alec’s ancestor but I digress) attempts to take the London Institute from Charlotte. The Consul isn’t having it so instead he tasks Charlotte with finding the Magister (Mortmain) in two weeks or else she’ll lose the Institute.

Well, that’s easier said than done when their only connection to Mortmain was Tessa’s brother, Nate, who’s disappeared. Meanwhile, Lightwood’s sons, Gideon and Gabriel, are sent to the Institute to train Tessa and Sophie, which only stresses out Charlotte more.

I really felt for Charlotte in this novel. I find her relationship with Henry interesting and I swear if anything happens to them in the next book I will raise hell.

Just kidding. Maybe.

I also fell in love with Jem Carstairs. I was already starting to fall in love him in the first novel but this book pushed me over the edge. He’s so sweet and kind and I just want him to live forever and protect him from all harm. Obviously I know that’s not possible but still. Almost all his lines hit me in the feels.

One thing, or rather person, that did bother me in this book was Tessa. I get that there’s a love triangle but I think she needed to be honest with Will and Jem about it instead acting as if she loved just the one and not both. If she breaks Jem’s hurt in the next book I’ll be pissed.

But besides that, great novel!

Borrow or Buy: Buy!!!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“I can offer you my life, but it is a short life; I can offer you my heart, though I have no idea how many more beats it shall sustain. But I love you enough to hope that you will not care that I am being selfish in trying to make the rest of my life – whatever length – happy, by spending it with you.”

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Author Spotlight: Lauren Marsh

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Photo Credit: Kristin Gillis Photography

Lauren Marsh, also known as L. S. Kilroy, is the author of a new YA dystopian novel, The Vitruvian Heir, her debut novel.The story follows Lorelei “Lore” Fetherston, an aristocrat with a rebellious streak and a penchant for writing – something forbidden among her sex – as she tries to carve out her own destiny despite the oppressive regime. I got the chance to talk to Marsh about her writing and The Virtuvian Heir recently. Check out the interview below and make sure to check out her new novel.

Why did you start writing?

Growing up an asthmatic only child in a neighborhood of [elderly people], I made friends with books at a young age, both out of necessity and genuine enjoyment. Early exposure to the classics fueled my own writing. I began making up stories and would stay up until all hours feverishly writing summaries and illustrating book jackets for ideas as they came to me. These I kept in an old Snoopy and Woodstock suitcase under my bed. At age fifteen a man in a bookstore asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I replied, “Writer,” without hesitation. Being a writer is the one thing in my life I’ve never doubted.

Why did you choose to self-publish The Virtuvian Heir?

I [wanted] to attempt to be “traditionally published,” because I felt like and still feel that there’s a stigma around doing it yourself. However, I’m starting to change my thinking as more authors are publishing their own high quality works. When it came down to it, I wanted to get my story into the hands of readers before it became irrelevant and without waiting for an agent to decide my work is good enough for them to represent. I think it’s good enough and readers are mirroring that sentiment so that’s all that matters.

Is The Vitruvian Heir your first novel? 

It’s my first published novel, but it’s the third that I’ve completed.

How did you come up with the idea for this book?

When I was a sophomore in high school, my history teacher [told] us about the time when Catherine de’ Medici ruled the French court. She had a group of beautiful female spies called the Flying Squadron (L’escadron Volant), whom she recruited to seduce important men in court and then report back to her. My 15-year-old self took this fascinating lesson and formed an idea for a new story. What if a future version of the United States had somehow come under the control of an emperor who commanded that everything be returned to the Victorian and Edwardian periods – women were stripped of rights, had to wear corsets, were forced into arranged marriages, etc.?

And what if, there was a woman who was running this underground circle of female spies trained to extract information from powerful men? What if she was planning a coup? What if she sent her best girl in to charm the emperor himself? But then the girl falls in love with him…That was my teenage sensibility. That story was eventually discarded along with its bedfellows somewhere between high school and college. Then, a couple of years ago, when women’s rights issues were heavy in the media, the germ of this idea resurfaced and became The Vitruvian Heir.

How long did it take for you to write this novel and publish it?

I worked on it for about two years sporadically, but the most concentrated work – the bulk of the writing and the design, etc., spanned about six months.

How do you think your novel compares to the other dystopian novels out right now?

Someone recently said it’s like “Downton Abbey and The Hunger Games had a baby,” and I think that’s pretty accurate. It’s also been compared to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Orwell’s 1984, which are, of course, enormous compliments. When I was reminded of this idea again by the news surrounding contraception and our reproductive rights that was such a hot media topic back in 2011, I kept hearing women say “I fought this battle thirty years ago. I never thought I would be fighting it again,” and that stuck with me while I was writing. Because I think yes, any idea of a dystopian future with new and unimaginable challenges (like The Hunger Games) is quite jarring, [but] I think what’s more frightening is the idea that as a society, we continue to repeat our mistakes and the idea that such a regression is possible.

It’s happened to women in other countries already. So, I think my book – even though it’s set far in the future – is more about the danger of repeating the past, which is why I thought the Neo-Victorian, steampunk backdrop was the most appropriate for it to unfold over. As for readers, there’s something for everyone – there’s almost unstoppable action, romance, rebellion, and strong social commentary.

Will there be a sequel to this novel?

I have an idea for two other potential books in the series to make a trilogy, but I’m not committing to that just yet.

What authors have inspired you and/or your writing? 

I’m a huge throwback to the classics so anything Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Aldous Huxley, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Edith Wharton, [Fyodor] Dostoevsky, [F. Scott] Fitzgerald, Harper Lee. But my favorite book of all time is Michael Cunningham’s The Hours. I re-read it this past summer and it’s just pure joy. I’m pretty sure the meaning of life is in that book.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

This advice may sound unconventional, but it’s worked for me. It’s true that practice makes perfect and you should try to get into a routine to hone your craft – take a class, workshop with fellow writers, and do the thing. Stephen King said “Writers write,” and that’s true. If you want to be good at something, you need to work at it. However, that isn’t always easy. Sometimes with schedules and what not, especially if you work full-time at a job that sucks away your energy, if you have a relationship that you need to devote time to, or a child, you can’t carve out a determined amount of time every day to write. I would go weeks without writing a word even when I was in the middle of working on a book. Sometimes it wasn’t even because of other factors in my life, it was just because I didn’t feel like it. If I’m not inspired and I’m not feeling it, I can’t write. And I think that’s okay. Because every time I’ve tried to force it, the product is crap.

So my advice is: Write, but only when you feel it. Even though I don’t write creatively every single day, I’ve still managed to produce three books and a slew of short stories in spite of being a high school teacher at one point and having a very stressful corporate job at another. When you feel it and when you’re enjoying it, pushing yourself to work when you go home at night isn’t as hard as you might think.

Are you working on any other projects right now?

Yes, I’m halfway through another novel called The Clothes That Make You. It’s the polar opposite of The Vitruvian Heir. Set in 1967 New England suburbia it follows Sally, a quiet misfit dealing with the fresh grief of losing her father and her unlikely friendship with the new girl at school – a feisty civil rights activist who identifies as a boy. I have a self-imposed goal of completing a draft by year end. We’ll see how that goes.

To find out more about Marsh, check out her website and purchase The Vitruvian Heir here.