The Wrath & The Dawn

The Wrath & The Dawn is the debut novel of Renee Ahdieh. It is a recent retelling of the old classic, A Thousand and One Nights.

Each night, the Caliph of Khorasan takes a new bride; by morning, she is dead. After the most recent death of her best friend, Shahrzad volunteers to be the Caliph’s newest bride. When night comes, Shahrzad tells the Caliph a story to keep him occupied. By morning her story is unconcluded and the Caliph spares her for one day so he can hear the ending.

This happens for one more night, and then another, but Shahrzad soon realizes that the Caliph – Khalid – is much more than he seems. He is not a madman as the people believe, so why does he take a new bride each night only to murder her at dawn? Even more maddening, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love with him.

Meanwhile, Shahrzad’s best friend Tariq and her father attempt to rescue her. While Tariq seeks an alliance with the wandering tribes, her father Jahandar delves deep into himself to harness a magical power – but is it one that will ultimately help or destroy him?

I have been really interested in retellings of A Thousand and One Nights lately. I found this book to be a tad slow at the beginning as we are introduced to the characters. We don’t really understand Khalid’s intentions and nature until about 2/3 through, and the action doesn’t pick up until the end. But the time is necessary to set up the relationship between Shahrzad and Khalid.

At the end of this volume our budding lovers have been separated but the curse that holda Khalid is still in place. The question becomes: how will it end? Only way to find out is to the read the next book, which I definitely intend to do.

My rating: 3.5/5


Throne of Glass series: Queen of Shadows

When we left off at the end of Heir of Fire, Aelin Ashryver Galathynius had shed her persona of Adarlan’s Assassin Celaena Sardothien to take up her mantle as queen of Terrasen.

As she returns to Rifthold from her training in Wendlyn, Aelin has two objectives in mind: kill the king of Adarlan and free magic. Upon her return, she soon learns that her cousin Aedion has been arrested for treason and will soon be executed. In order to free her cousin, Aelin will need not only the help of Chaol and the rebels but also that of her former master, King of the Assassin’s Arobynn Hamel.

Arobynn always has a bargain in mind, however; in exchange for helping free Aedion, Arobynn hires Aelin to capture a Valg prince to interrogate. Aelin agrees as it will allow her time to find something Arobynn once stole from her: the amulet of Orynth that she suspects holds a Wyrdkey.

Aelin’s tasks become more complicated when she learns that, in her absence, Dorian has been possessed by a Valg prince. She finds herself at odds with Chaol, who refuses to believe Dorian is gone and is intent on freeing him.

Meanwhile, Manon is having difficulty reconciling her new duties as Wing Leader with the nearly mutinous behavior of some of her Thirteen. She meets Elide Lochlan, the daughter of Lady Marion and a heiress of Terrasen. Manon becomes further torn between obeying orders and helping Elide.

Queen of Shadows is nearly 700 pages of non-stop motion. As in previous volumes, each chapter changes perspective. Mostly the chapters are told from Aelin and Manon’s point of views, allowing the reader to see what is happening on two fronts. Since the pacing occurs in the chronological order that Aelin completes her tasks, the pages are almost always full of action.

I really enjoyed this novel and found myself sad that it was over so quickly. But now that magic has returned, things are only going to get more action filled in the next installment.

My rating: 4/5

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

One of the much anticipated books of 2016 was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It has been a good decade since a Harry Potter book was released. With news that a new London stage play was coming and the release of the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, it has been a pretty good year for Potterheads.

With the exception of the fact that it is near impossible to get tickets to the stage play. Unless you are in the UK.

For those of us not fortunate enough to get tickets, the news that a release of the play’s script has ignited the frenzy of fans to get a copy. Having gotten my copy on release day and completed it in two days, I can honestly say I thought it was well worth it.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child starts with that ending scene we are all familiar with: Harry, now an adult, seeing his son Albus off to Hogwarts for the first time. We continue from there where Albus and his cousin, Rose Granger-Weasley, meet Scorpius Malfoy, the only child of Draco Malfoy. Though Rose is wary, Albus makes fast friends with Scorpius. At the sorting ceremony, Albus is sorted into Slytherin and from there things progress rapidly until his fourth year. His relationship with Harry is strained through the years.

Just like Harry, Albus’ fourth year at Hogwarts is where everything changes. An illegal Time Turner is ceased by the Ministry of Magic. Albus, unhappy about being the son of Harry Potter, decides to use the Time Turner to go back in time and try to save Cedric Diggory from his death at the end of the Triwizard Tournament. Albus’ first attempt leads to changes in the Granger-Weasley family; his second attempt results in more drastic changes that Scorpius struggles to correct.

All is put right, eventually, but then the real threat arises that may change everything.

While I have read a few reviews that were unhappy with Cursed Child‘s format as a script, I quite liked the format myself. It made for a quick read yet was still enjoyable. Also, many have said that this new story wasn’t in Rowling’s style and didn’t read like a Harry Potter story. I disagree; it’s a Harry Potter AND Albus Potter story (and Rowling did have a hand in the script). Harry isn’t a Hogwarts student anymore, he’s a Ministry head and a father – a father who has never had a true father figure in his life. Harry is touted as the hero who defeated Voldemort, but he hides a lot of internal struggles like the fact he survives when so many he cared for has died. This isn’t the adventurous student who was out to prove himself; this is a man who loves and is scared for his son, who worries that he isn’t doing right by all those he loves and all those who believed in and died for him.

I really enjoyed this new story. Reading a script was quite enjoyable. After reading this, I am really considering pre-ordering a copy of the script for Fantastic Beasts so I can read it before viewing the movie.

My rating: 4.5/5

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone

In anticipation for the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and since it had been ages since I read the book, I decided to reread the entire Harry Potter series. I didn’t want to reread all of them at once but rather reread them slowly and carefully while still working towards my Goodreads reading challenge. The weekend Cursed Child was released, I decide to reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Since I suspect the majority of individuals have read this series, I won’t be doing summaries like I normally do; instead, I’ll be focusing on my thoughts.

I was in my late teens/early twenties when the Harry Potter series was released. Chronologically, I am the same age as Harry is so the series didn’t have quite a profound on impact on me as it does on some of my younger friends. Now, as an adult, rereading the stories again is vastly different as I notice things I didn’t see before. One of things that sticks out to me is how some of the wording is changed to accommodate American readers. The use of the phrase “sorcerer” in the title isn’t the only thing that changes. Did you ever notice that Dean Thomas is said to be a “soccer” fan? Soccer is a distinctly American term. Also, during one of the feasts, one of the listed desserts is “Jell-O”; is that even a thing in the UK?

Differences between the book and movie become apparent upon a second reading. I am of the mind that movies and television adaptations must make some changes to a story in order to accommodate a different medium. Changes from book to screen bother me less than it tends to do most people provided the changes are necessary. In the movie verse, it is Ron who accompanies Harry, Hermione, and Draco into the Dark Forest as part of their detention; in the book, Ron is in the infirmary and it is actually Neville to has detention. In addition, Snape’s task to get to the sorcerer’s stone is omitted from the movie (I am assuming this is for time’s sake).

I do have to say that I really miss Ron’s “ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?” line during the devil’s snare scene.

Rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was really refreshing after more than a decade. I’m excited to reread the rest of the series and see what else I’ve forgotten/missed.

My rating: 4.75/5


Following the same time travel vein of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, Passenger by Alexandra Bracken is a time traveling adventure story filled with intrigue, suspense, romance, and a massive cliffhanger.

Etta Spencer is a violin prodigy living in modern day New York City. She was raised by her mother, Rose, who is a restorationist at the Met and Alice, her violin teacher. While not the warmest of mothers, Rose raised Etta on wild stories of her past adventures – complete with Rose’s own paintings – and secret notes and messages. On the night of her soft debut at a fundraiser, Etta overhears her mother and Alice having an argument about Etta and her future. Believing the argument has to do with her violin career, Etta angrily rebukes her mother before returning to her debut.

While on stage, Etta stumbles through her piece due to an unusual sound filling her ears. Only one other individual, another girl named Sophia, seems to hear the sound and leads Etta away. But instead of heading towards help, Etta is led deeper into the Met museum towards the source of the sound – and a horrid tragedy. When next she wakes, she finds herself on a ship in the middle of a battle and the Atlantic…in 1776. Etta is saved from drowning by Nicholas, the prize captain of the ship she is on.

Etta soon learns that she is part of a traveling family who has the ability to travel through time. Sophia and Nicholas are from the Ironwood family, a powerful traveling family who has dominated all the others. Their head, Cyrus, wants Etta to retrieve an artifact that Etta’s mother hide years ago. The only problem is that Etta was not raised as a traveler and only has strange clues that her mother left her in a mysterious letter. With Nicholas’ help, she must navigate through the different countries and eras in order to save her mother without changing her timeline. All the while, she battles her growing affections for Nicholas who, though born into the Ironwood family, wants nothing more to do with his relatives.

I found Passenger to be an intriguing story from the start. The idea that Etta doesn’t know she is a traveler makes it easier for the reader to experience her confusion and uncertainty as she does. As the story unfolds, Etta starts with one plan and must find herself changing her plans as she learns more and more about the restraints of traveling. Etta begins the story agreeing to Ironwood’s near impossible mission in an effort to save everyone: herself, her mother, Alice, and even Nicholas as she finds herself falling in love with him. By the end, faced with the fact that she can’t save everyone, Etta finds herself making an impossible choice.

The relationship between Etta and Nicholas is also intriguing. Nicholas, who is more trained in traveling, is Etta’s guide through all the different eras. By the same token, Etta is Nicholas’ guide to how the world changes and becomes less hostile towards individuals such as himself. But what I really love about them is that Bracken has created, for the purposes of her story, two unconventional protagonist. Etta is a modern day girl who suddenly finds that her gender becomes a hinderance as she navigates the past. Nicholas, the illegitimate son of an Ironwood son and a slave, is constantly hindered by his skin color. The two must overcome their individual obstacles – both those they experience and those they internally fight – in order to do what’s right to save time yet still stay true to each other.

The novel ends on a huge cliffhanger, which makes me anxious of January 2017 to arrive so I can know what happens. I found this novel to be slightly denser than most YA novels; not difficult to read, but there’s a lot of information about Bracken’s unique method of time traveling that needs to be accounted for. I really enjoyed the story, more than I expected, and can’t wait for the next novel.

My rating: 4/5

Witchlands series: Truthwitch

Truthwitch is the story of two best friends, both gifted with a witchery – one of who is hunted for two very different reasons.

Safiya fon Hasstrel is the heiress to the Hasstrel lands. The lands are not prosperous by any means, yet they are located near one of the Origin Wells, magical springs by which various citizens gain their witchery. Safiya is also a Truthwitch, the one of her kind whose witchery allows her to distinguish between truth and lies. This makes Safiya a target for all of the ruling heads who would use her to their advantage – or see her killed to prevent rivals from gaining her abilities.

At Safiya’s side is her Threadsister, Iseult det Midenzi. Iseult is a Nomatsi, a member of a nomadic tribe who most others distain. She is also a Threadwitch, one with the ability to see the threads that bind people to each other. The only people whose threads Iseult cannot see are her own and those of other Threadwitches.

The two witches want nothing more than to live together in peace, away from responsibilities and the stereotypes of their kind. When a heist doesn’t go as planned, they end up with a Bloodwitch on their trial, intent on hunting down and capturing Safiya. As if that were not difficult enough, Safiya finds herself suddenly betrothed to the Emperor of Cartorra. She only gets away by the careful planning of her uncle and tutors, but soon finds the Bloodwitch on her trial again. The only escape is a “kidnapping” by a Nubrevnan ship captained by the crown prince Merik Nihar, who is also a Windwitch.

Author Susan Dennard creates a rich world and well rounded characters in her fantasy tale. The story has elements that would appeal to nearly all readers: strong female and male characters, magic, sword fighting, possible romance, unbreakable friendships, and enough intriguing questions to keep you wanting to read the sequel. From the very beginning, the story keeps you turning page after page.

The story itself takes place over approximately one week, but it’s so action packed that you forget the time. Each character undergoes their own revelations about themselves that leads them to make certain personality changes. What I liked about this character development is that we only see the beginnings of the change in this novel, which will surely continue in the sequel. There’s also the question of the Cahr Awen, a mythical pair of Aetherwitches said to have the ability to revive the Origin Wells. Are Safiya and Iseult this mythical pair despite neither being Aetherwitches?

I can’t wait to see what happens in the sequel, Windwitch. I am hoping the next volume has more focus on Iseult and Merik; as much as I like Safiya, I like her Threadsister and the Nubrevnan prince more.

My rating: 4/5

Monsters of Verity series: This Savage Song

This Savage Song is the latest YA novel by Victoria Schwab and is the first of the Monsters of Verity duo logy. It’s a dystopian based novel, not one of my favorite genres but this novel has a twist in it: it’s about monsters.

In the dystopian future, the USA doesn’t exist as we know it. After the Phenomenon, the US is scattered into areas with places of high population and areas filled with monsters. Verity is one of the high populated cities somewhere in what was once the midwest. Verity is divided into two halves due to an uneasy truce: North City, controlled by crime boss Callum Harker who offers protection for those who can pay, and South City, controlled by Henry Flynn who tries to keep the peace by controlling the monsters. They are separated by the Seam, which individuals can cross provided they have the proper credentials.

In this future, crimes created monsters. There are three types of monsters. The shadowy Corsai, created from non-lethal but violent crimes, are always hungry and don’t discriminate between good and evil; the vampire like Malchai, created by murders and who feed on blood; and the mysterious Sunai, created from unspeakable crimes, who are practically indestructible. Harker controls most of the Corsai and Malchai, but Flynn has the only three Sunai. One of the Sunai, August, wants nothing more than to be anything but a monster.

August is sent on an undercover spying mission to gather information on Harker’s daughter, Kate, who has returned to Verity after being expelled from her sixth boarding school. The two strike up an unlikely relationship. When Kate finds out August’s secret, all she wants to do is turn him in to her father. Her plans are interrupted by an attempted assassination (hers) and framing (August’s). This causes the two to work together to find out who is responsible. In the process, they learn things about each other – and themselves.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book in the beginning. It was a bit slow paced at first, but picks up in the middle. From then on it was a page turner, one I was forced to put down when I had to. I really liked both Kate and August’s characters and how they grow by the end of the novel. Their relationship doesn’t go beyond a deep understanding of each other (perhaps a friendship) but doesn’t become romantic. I really liked that, reading a novel where the two characters do not end up romantically involved.

The only thing I wanted was more information on the Phenomenon, the event that appears to have brought about the monsters. I am hoping it will be explained more in the next novel. I did enjoy learning about all the different monsters through Kate instead of knowing everything at the beginning. I was sorry to see this novel end, but look forward to the next book in the series.

My rating: 4/5