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: Heir of Fire

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Synopsis:

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak-but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life-and her future-forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

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Review

*Warning: There will be spoilers about Crown of Midnight in this review. Read at your own risk.*

I was so excited to finally get to Heir of Fire because there were some characters I desperately needed to meet including Rowan, who I didn’t like as much as I thought I would. At least not at first. He has since grown on me and I love him now but I had to get used to him and how he interacted with Celaena. It was pretty harsh but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Heir of Fire begins with Celaena now in Wendlyn where Chaol sent her thinking he was protecting her, which he kind of was but little did he know she’s also Aelin, the Queen of Terrasen, and kind of his enemy. Oops. Regardless, Chaol doesn’t really regret his decision but Celaena doesn’t exactly know what she’s doing. We find her in a pretty bad state when the novel begins, which is kind of understandable since she went through a lot of crap in Crown in Midnight. Enter Rowan and Maeve.

Maeve is kind of Celaena’s aunt (it’s complicated) and a goddess who wants to unleash Celaena’s power. Though Celaena would prefer not to she knows she has to do something if she’s ever going to fulfill her promise to Nehemia. So off Celaena goes to learn about her powers and how to shift into her Fae form from the formidable Fae prince, Rowan. As you may imagine their relationship doesn’t start on the best foot but just as Rowan grew on me they grow on each other.

Meanwhile, Chaol and Dorian are adjusting to life in the castle without Celaena, especially now that her cousin, Aedion, has arrived. Chaol is desperate to keep Celaena’s secret causing a rift between him and Dorian that only gets deeper when Chaol becomes interested in the rebel cause. Thankfully Dorian is able to make a new friend that helps keep him (and his magic) in check.

I really loved this novel and getting to see what was happening to Celaena, Chaol, and Dorian. I really fell in love with Dorian in this book. I liked him before but this book really made me feel for Dorian and everything he has to go through. It was great getting to meet new characters as well, especially the demi-Fae Celaena comes into contact with. There wasn’t too much romance in this novel, especially compared to the other books in this series, but there was enough to be satisfied if you’re looking for that type of thing. This book was more about action scenes, magic, and dark twists.

I’m pretty sure I actually cried by the end of this novel because it tore me apart, which is saying something because Crown of Midnight was pretty heartbreaking but I didn’t cry when I read it. I say this all to say read it at your own risk. But seriously, read this book. It’s fantastic.

I’m almost done with the Throne of Glass series so if you don’t like this series sorry but I’ve got three more reviews coming your way. And then I’m done I swear.

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.”

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Author Interview with Anne Heltzel, author of "Charlie, Presumed Dead"

Author Spotlight: Anne Heltzel

It’s been a while since I got to interview an author and I’m super excited about this one. I got to work with Anne a bit when I interned at Abrams Books for Young Readers in the spring and she’s amazing. Check out our interview below and make sure to check out her book, Charlie, Presumed Dead, which is out now!


 Interview with Anne Heltzel, author of "Charlie, Presumed Dead"

How did you first get interested in writing?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t enjoy writing. An obsessive (not just avid!) reader as a kid, writing seemed like an obvious extension of my interests. I filled a new journal each year in school, was gifted blank books for holidays, and added fictional elements to my academic essays to liven things up. For fun, I took fiction writing and journalism classes and competed in writing competitions. I was the type to cry at the end of a book because it was over. A true nerd.

How did you come up with the idea for Charlie, Presumed Dead?

The genesis of that idea came from a conversation I had with a friend in my teeny-tiny room when she was visiting me in Paris. She knew a guy who had passed away, and his two girlfriends had discovered one another at his funeral. I’d had some experience with a cheating boyfriend and lots of experience traveling, and it seemed a natural opening scene for a book that would meld those two themes.

Are you working on any other projects right now?

I’m ghostwriting an adult novel right now, but I’m not allowed to talk about it. =)

What is your writing process like?

I often write in my bed, surrounded by snacks. When writing commissioned content, I am usually given a concept or an outline. When writing original content, I like to develop a “one page” pitch before I begin, to show my agent. Then he either shoots it down or says he loves it. If he loves it, I write a few initial scenes. Many of these don’t wind up in the book; it’s just me playing with my characters in different scenarios to get a feel for who I want them to be. When I know my characters very well, I tend to have a beginning and end in mind. Then it’s a matter of connecting the dots. I almost always write out of order.

What’s it like being an editor and an author?

Really, really hard. Exhausting and frustrating. You’re only in this business if you love it; and luckily I do. But editorial work carries over into nights and weekends—and nights and weekends are my only opportunities to write. It’s a very tricky juggling act, and often it requires some tough sacrifices (vacation time, a social life).

Do you enjoy editing or writing more?

It changes every day. I truly love both and can’t pick between them. During my interview for my first editorial job nearly a decade ago, my soon-to-be boss asked, “What do you see yourself doing in five years? Editing or writing?” I answered, “Both!” And I was being very honest. I really enjoy the collaboration and craft of editing, but I need the creative outlet writing offers me.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I don’t have a stable of go-to favorite authors; but here are some books I’ve read lately and enjoyed:

Besides writing and editing, what are your other hobbies?

I always sort of chuckle when I hear that phrase, “free time.” What’s that? Seriously. I usually do let myself have weekend nights off, and I like to spend it with my friends—at dinner parties, movies, plays, concerts, beer gardens….I also travel internationally quite a bit, probably more than average. This is because I often have a free place to stay—I’m fortunate to have lived in both Europe and Asia, and usually have a couch to crash on. If I ever take afternoons off, I love reading in the park with my dog, or just taking him to the dog run. My favorite place to get away from everything is the Catskills—near water, with my dog and some friends. I’m a big fan of simplicity.

What was it like being a mentor for Girls Write Now? How can people get involved?

That was awesome, but I had to stop because it became too time-consuming. You can reach out directly to the organization—both mentors and mentees need to complete an application process. Then aspiring writers (usually in high school) are paired with professional writers, and you meet weekly to work on writing. It can be fun writing or academic writing, whatever the mentee wants. There are also monthly workshops on topics like screenwriting and comedy writing. It’s a really great program and I can’t recommend it enough. My former mentee, Shirleyka, and I still keep in touch. She’s starting college this coming fall and got a full ride, because she’s awesome.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Do the work. That’s my best advice. And do it without an agenda—just for the love of it. There is never a guarantee of publication; but finishing a draft is something to be incredibly proud of. It’s fulfilling—as rewarding (in my opinion) as running a marathon.

Any advice for aspiring editors?

Make connections in the industry! Reach out and be proactive. Forming relationships is a large part of the job, and it’s never too soon to start. Find editors whose work you admire on LinkedIn or on their websites, and shoot them an email. See if they’re available to grab coffee or schedule a brief call. The worst anyone can ever say is “no.”

If you’re an author that would like to be featured on To Borrow or Buy please shoot me an email at toborroworbuy@gmail.com. Thanks!

Book Review: Taste of Darkness

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Source: GoodReads

Although Maria V. Synder is a NY Times Bestselling Author I don’t think she’s that well know. Amongst my friends that actually read for pleasure many of them are not familiar with Snyder or her works. I, however, am absolutely obsessed.

From the day I received her book, Poison Study, as a gift I was hooked. Synder has this uncanny ability to create these magical worlds filled with war, betrayal, love, lust, death, and life. It’s amazing and this latest and last book in her most recent trilogy, Healers, did not disappoint.

Similar to the second novel in this trilogy the book alternates between telling the story from Avry’s point of view in the first person and Kerrick, Avry’s love interest, point of view shown in the third person. This structuring of the novel worked perfectly since from the start of the novel the two main characters are separated and they often remain that way throughout the novel.

What’s also great about this is unlike the first book we get a view of that very mind that frustrated Avry to no end in the first novel. Now that they are in love it was interesting and amusing to see how both their minds work as they are both stubborn characters who have different views. Even so, it’s evident that they both love each other and will do anything for each other, even trusting that the other will survive when everyone else believes otherwise.

Synder’s talent, however, comes from the fact that although she has created this beautiful love story she doesn’t shy away from the real difficulties that will appear in any relationship. Of course, not every couple is going to be separated because of a war that seems to be never ending but they will experience fights, disappointment, and frustration with each other. Here, Synder creates a couple that is real.

Even so, because these two spend so much time apart Synder doesn’t allow us to get sick of them. Instead, she focuses in on so many other things that I almost created a flow chart to keep track of what was happening. There were so many times in the novel when someone either did die and I was shocked or I thought someone was dead and they somehow survived. Well, not somehow. It was usually magic that saved them.

Though Synder is writing a novel about war and love what makes it even more interesting is that it all exists in this magical world where people have all different kinds of power. We have healers, life magicians, death magicians, air magicians, and a forest mage. Not mention some other surprising powers like one that will just hit you with the cold. These abilities play an interesting role in the novel creating bonds between multiple characters, saving lives, and also making the war that much more complicated.

And Avry’s right in the middle of all it. As a healer, one of the few left, she’s very necessary for battle. Plus, as Avry learns more about her abilities and what she can do she becomes a much wanted resource to many and some go to extraordinary lengths to use her and her information. Lucky for her she’s smart, witty, stubborn, and has her team of boys to back her up.

Synder ended this trilogy with a bang. This novel was amazing with many twists and turns that left me screaming, stressed, and outright concerned for my own well being. Just the kind of feelings I want from a book. Also, I truly enjoy that Synder portrays these headstrong, heroines in all of her novels. Girl power for the win!

If you haven’t tried one of Synder’s books yet definitely give her a try. Trust me once you try one you’ll be hooked. I would suggest starting with the first book in this trilogy however. The first two books are just as good as the last.

Stars: 5 out of 5

Borrow or Buy: Buy! Buy! Buy! Like I said this is definitely one for the bookshelf. I own all the books in this trilogy and it’s definitely worth every penny. I’m probably going to reread the whole trilogy over spring break. Amazing!