Poisoned

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly is a fairy-tale re-imagining of Snow White for a Young Adult audience.

To rule, once must be strong and powerful; there is no place for kindness and the gentle hearted. Or at least, this is what Sophie has been told her entire life. According to her step mother, Queen Regent, and the rest of the court, weak, foolish, silly Sophie doesn’t have what it takes to be the ruler her country needs. So when the huntsman pulls out his knife and plunges it into her heart, Sophie shouldn’t have been surprised.

And even though Sophie believed everything they said about her, it was still a surprise. But, what was more surprising, was waking up.

Given a second chance at life, will Sophie muster the bravery to fight for her kingdom and the will to rule it as she seems fit?

I really enjoyed Donnelly’s Stepsister, so I was excited to pick this one up. And, although it was an entertaining read, I wasn’t wowed by it. I enjoyed it but I could have used a little bit more toward the end. Like Stepsister, the villains, weren’t ordinary villains–they were abstract entities personified. <<And that’s about as much as I can say without giving anything away. And this was interesting, a little preachy at times but it’s meant to be written as a “lesson.”

Now that I think about it, what I liked best about the book, were the side characters. I just loved the hound master’s son, the dwarfs, Will and Arlo, even our villains. But Sophie, fell a little flat for me. We see her journey throughout, both physical and emotional, but she still felt a little two dimensional to me.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me. I’ll be interested to see which fairy-tale Donnelly picks up next.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Traitor to the Throne

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton is the second book in the Rebel of the Sands series. This book picks up a handful of months after the last book. Amani now wields her powers with ease and the rebellion seems to be gaining ground. She feels at home with the rebels and their bonds go deep. Even so, Amani is uncertain about her future with Jin, who disappeared after she was shot and almost died during the gap between books. Now Jin is back and Amani doesn’t know how to feel.

She doesn’t get long to think before the rebel camp is attacked and she is kidnapped. Now Amani is in a den of vipers, powerless and at the mercy of the very man she has been fighting to overthrow. Amani must walk a fine line between staying true to the rebellion and staying alive.

What secrets will Amani uncover in a palace of lies? With her powers gone, how will she ever escape? And what will happen to the rebellion without the blue-eyed bandit?

I was really looking forward to this one and it did not disappointed. At first I was hesitant with how quickly Amani was separated from the rebels and left to fight for herself. I wasn’t sure how the story would progress with her captive and enthralled to the whims of the sultan, but it worked. We were introduced to new characters and we learn more about the Djinni and their origins and place in the world.

There’s more intrigue in this one and the plot thickens. There is more going on then just a father and son fighting for power and the Djinni are at the center of it. We learn more about the sultan’s plans and the dynamic of the rebellion changes. Whereas the first book was action packed, this second one has action and depth–it sets the stage for more.

I also liked that this book addresses some of the loose ends left in Rebel of the Sands. We find out what happened to Tamid and Shira, we also find out more about Amani’s parents and foreshadowing of the future. I also loved that Hamilton kept Amani as the sole narrator. A lot of series these days have a single narrator in the first book and then add narratives in subsequent books. This has been driving me crazy lately, so it was refreshing to have one consistent narrator throughout.

Oh man guys, that ending! This book ended with a massive bang. The twist was both expected and totally out of left field. You knew something was up but Hamilton sets everything up really well. This book was worth reading just for the last 100 pages.

Overall, a great read. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Rose & The Dagger

The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh is the conclusion to The Wrath & The DawnWe pick up almost where we left off. Shahrzad is forced to leave the city and the man she loves just when she learns the truth and realizes what an extraordinary man her husband really is.

Tied up in a rebel force, whose aim is to kill her Caliph, Shahrzad is determined to uncover her own gifts and break Khalid’s curse. Trapped between those she loves and the unbreakable bond she shares with Khalid, Shahrzad must toe the line between right and wrong. But what will happen when she is forced to choose a side?

Shazi must find the strength to do what’s right. She must embrace her powers and learn to see truth in the shadows. Will this curse keep Shahrzad and Khalid apart forever? What will happen to their city, Khorasan, if they don’t succeed? And what costs will be paid to keep the peace?

As a conclusion to a duology, this one wasn’t bad. It was a different beast then the first book though, that’s for sure. The first book was primarily about Khalid and Shahrzad and was told mostly from her perspective. Whereas this second book has multiple narratives and is focused more on the bigger picture. That being said, the books still felt the same, if structured differently.

This book could have easily been three and I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. There were certain side stories I would have liked to seen fleshed out a bit more or at least addressed in more than just hints. For example, we get two confrontations between Khalid and Jamal about Despina but we only get maybe a few paragraphs to wrap up the whole Despina/Jamal thing. I know Ahdieh published a mini-prequel about them but that’s besides the point. There were a few story arches that we are introduced to, but they didn’t feel completely settled at the end.

I really liked the introduction of Artan. He was a really interesting character that I wouldn’t mind reading a novella about. We also get to see all these different sides of Khalid in this one and we begin to understand a little more of why Shahrzad falls for him.

Overall, I was satisfied with this book. The plot was dynamic with some real surprising moments. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Wrath & The Dawn

The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is a fictional tale inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. Determined to get revenge for the death of her best friend, Shahrzad becomes the bride of Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan. Khalid is considered a monster by all, for none of his wives ever survive more than one night of marriage.

Shahrzad has vowed to survive her marriage bed, exact revenge for her dead friend and rid the world of the caliph once and for all. Night after night, Shahrzad bewitches Khalid with stories, lengthening her life even as she fears the coming of each dawn. After a time, Shahrzad finds herself no longer pretending to care for the tortured soul behind the violent, aggressive caliph. She begins to understand Khalid and with that understanding comes another emotion she is wholly unprepared for: love.

Will Shahrzad achieve the vengeance she seeks? Will she uncover the truth in a palace of shadow and lies? And what will she do when her heart and her head are of separate minds?

I was hesitant to pick up this one because I’ve loved almost every other retelling of A Thousand and One Nights I’ve read. I wasn’t sure it would live up to the hype, but The Wrath & The Dawn didn’t disappoint.

I almost never do this but this book really is A Thousand and One Nights meets Beauty and the Beast. Khalid and his city is cursed and only a strong willed girl, with no intentions of saving the day, can break the curse and… save the day. There’s a bit of magic weaved into the story and we all know I love a little magic in my books.

Keeping true to the original tale, Shahrzad is an expert storyteller and her stories are captivating and alluring. Even after she is under no threat of death, we still get a few tales here and there from the calipha of Khorasan. The tales are familiar and yet they still seem new to the reader, which is why I think they pull you in, rather than take away from the narrative.

I will say, the beginning started off a little… I’m not going to say slow but just not what I expected. I’m not sure if it was because of the audio or what but it did take me about two or three chapters to really get into the story.

The characters in this book were interesting and each had their own little unique flair. Shahrzad is exactly who she is and does not strive to be anything she is not. This is not the norm for a book of this setting. Khalid is closed off and untouchable and yet through Shahrzad we can see the–flawed–but good within. By the end we are routing for Khalid and getting a reader to route for the bad guys isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

Overall, this was an audio book I greatly enjoyed and I will be immediately picking up the sequel. Gotta’ love when all the books in a series are out before you start. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Conjuring of Light

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab is the final installment in the Shades of Magic trilogy. Darkness is on the rise and hope is dwindling. The Dark King had invaded Red London, taking control of it’s citizens and slowly sucking up all of it’s magic. Now it is up to Kell, Lila, Holland and the rest of their allies to find a way to stop and unstoppable evil.

In the conclusion to this magical roller-coaster, powers will be tested and loyalties will be questioned. Will Kell and Lila find the power to keep the evil at bay? Will a kingdom fall? Will darkness rise?

So I’ve been following this series from the beginning in audio. It’s been an interesting one to listen to. I really like the voice actors; they did a great job, especially the male actor who gave just a little something different to each character. For a book with a lot of world building and magic, the audiobook was still an easy listen.

A lot happens in this book. We don’t get the background and world building we get in the first one. We don’t get the epic tournament of magic we get in book two. In this one we get a quest, a quest to overcome evil and save the day. But like with any quest, the costs are still high. This was probably my least favorite book of the three but it wasn’t a bad read.

I’m still amazed at the world building in this series as a whole. Even in this final book, Schwab is still forming her world and introducing more and more interesting elements. I really loved the boat market and wish we got to see more of it. There were also characters built up in this one, the King, the Queen who became really dynamic and forces to be reckoned with.

There were a few side stories and pieces that felt like they were added just to be added but it didn’t hinder the story much, just drew it out a bit. And I was surprised to see that this ended up being one of those books that actually wrapped up each plot line. There was a little epilogue-ish tie up for each of the characters, which certain readers will appreciate.

Overall, this was a satisfying series. As a whole I’d probably give the series 4 stars. This book specifically gets 3.5 from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-