Book Review: The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

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.

For the love of young adult fairy tale re-tellings, this novel was everything I could have wanted it to be. Fast paced, dripping with what I like to call “quote-ables,” AND a unlikely love story between two very different people, The Wrath and the Dawn is impeccable.

Ahdieh wastes no time setting up the narrative and immediately places the reader in the palace with Shahrzad the first night (of 1001, presumably).  I felt an immediate connection to this stubborn strong-willed, clever, beautiful girl. Shahrzad’s (a.k.a. Shazi) goal is to kill the handsome Caliph in revenge for the murder of her best friend.  I don’t know about you, but a 17-year-old that goes into a situation like this knowing the likely outcome and does it anyway has earned my respect.  Was it the best decision? Definitely not. But it wouldn’t be a good narrative if there weren’t a few bad decisions peppered in.  The first night passes and Shazi is somehow complacent and determined to continue with her plan.

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Probably not accurate at all, but the details are brilliant.

The narrative does jump around in third person omniscient between Shazi, her father, her ex-boyfriend, and Khalid, but instead of this causing confusion as in some other novels, I really feel that it just strengthened the narrative arc by providing an entire world view of the story rather than just a focused glimpse into one part of the whole.  Speaking of strengthening the narrative, this entire novel made me hungry for food and clothes more than any in the past.  Ahdieh manages to put in so many lush details without it bogging down the story and she painted a vivid picture of what life could have been like in this world.   I also *may* have stalked the internet to find a representation of what some of the clothing looked like in my mind, but only found one that was close.

Let’s really get down to business now…the love story.  The whole trope of good girl meets bad boy is kind of turned on its head in The Wrath and the Dawn, because while the kingdom believes Khalid to be a vicious killer with no remorse, Shazi really starts to get to know him during her stay at the palace.  Not only does Khalid prove to be secretive and a bit manipulative, but he is also gentle and desires love.  What I really love about the relationship and respect that builds between Shazi and Khalid is the fact that they drive each other absolutely nuts. It is funny, endearing, and heart-wrenching all at the same time.

Thank goodness there is a second installment to Shazi and Khalid’s story because I just didn’t get enough.

I will leave you with a quote and a song, oh, and the final Bard total too.

“You honestly expect me to breathe in a world without air?” From TW&TD

*queues up song*

 

5 Bards to Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn.

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Be sure to come back Monday, May 25 for my interview with Renee!

 

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:


Release Date: September 22, 2015

A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety? Rae Carson, author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, dazzles with this new fantasy that subverts both our own history and familiar fantasy tropes.

Summer of Sarah Dessen Review: The Moon and More

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo’s sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline’s mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he’s convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she’s going?

It is no secret that Sarah Dessen is an author who pretty much defined my high school years and her novel This Lullaby is still one of my favorite novels of all time. So when I got this book last summer I devoured it and then put it aside.  It is almost personal for me to write a review of a novel by Dessen, since I adore her work so much.  Well, I decided to suck it up and re-read The Moon and More so I could finally start doing some reviews of Dessen’s work (to go along with PenguinTeen’s SUMMER OF SARAH DESSEN initiative! Schedule is below).  Oh yeah, have I mentioned that Dessen is a North Carolina based author, and a lot of her summer stories feature landscapes and beaches from the Outer Banks?  Yay North Carolina!

sarahdessen signedAll of Dessen’s novels have endings that are perfectly fitting and satisfying.  Now, saying this, be aware that not all of the novels end with a happy romance or anything like that.  Some of the stories are more based on the individual destiny of the character and the outcome of familial issues.  The Moon and More is one that is more based in Emaline’s destiny than about romance, which means that the summary can be a little misleading.  Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of adorable romantic moments between Emaline and the two leading men, Theo and Luke, but the story is really about Emaline.

I love this about this novel because it really focuses on how Emaline has been disappointed by her family and the fact that she comes to realize that her dreams aren’t necessarily what she thought they were.  The novel basically outlines how Emaline comes to adore her half-brother, works hard the entire summer, and eventually she understands that the things that happen with her estranged Father are devastating, but that a relationship between them can still be salvaged.  It is especially a good read for those who aren’t 100% sure where their life is going, or if something has happened that is hard to recover from.  Go and read this book now.  Be sure to watch out for more of my Sarah Dessen reviews coming up…as I will be rereading my favorites!

For more on Sarah Dessen here at A Midsummer Night’s Read, check out my INTERVIEW with her and my review of her latest novel, Saint Anything.

four.fivebards4.5 Bards

 

 

Be sure to follow along with the Summer of Sarah Dessen, and leave a link to your review in the comments!

SummerwithSarahDessen

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 27, 2015

Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason.

But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.

And there’s Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know; she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.

But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can’t figure out where Jolene ends and she begins.

Because there’s something Mattie hasn’t told anyone–she walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.

Summer of Sarah Dessen: Interview

Not only did I get the chance to meet one of my favorite young adult authors of all time, but Sarah Dessen is one of the reasons I started studying Children’s Literature.  Her novels are personal favorites and they are the books I revisit often when I need a comfortable story to reset my reading gauge.  My copies of her books are worn out from reading and re-reading; so much so that one has been replaced about 3 times now, one has been missing a slip cover since it came out in 2004, a few have wrinkled pages from various things being spilt on them over the years, and more than one have soft edges from being carried around in my purse for whenever the opportunity to read arose.

Before Dessen’s tour stop at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC (the inspiration for Lakeview, people!) I was able to sit down with her (and her beautiful daughter, Sasha) to ask a few questions.

SarahDessenSelfie

Selfie with Sarah!

Midsummer Reads (MR): The first thing I wanted to say is thanks for talking to me before your event!

Sarah Dessen (SD): Of course!

MR: And congrats on 12 books!

SD: I know, right? It’s so exciting. Every book is a surprise and an accomplishment. You’d think that by number 12 that I’d know what I was doing and I would feel secure but I don’t. I think it almost makes it worse because of the pressure to sort of keep the quality up and to keep the readers interested.

MR: Well there are those of us who have been reading them, you know, since we could.

SD: Yeah! I mean more and more on this tour in particular there are a lot of people that have come through and said they’ve been reading my books since they were in middle school and now they are in their twenties.

MR: Yeah.

SD: And I’m so grateful that they are still reading and that they want to keep reading YA. I’ve had a lot of people ask, “I wish you would write about people in their twenties,” “I wish you would write about people of different ages older ages.” But I just haven’t had that idea yet so I’m just waiting to see, you know?

MR: Well, it’s interesting because one of my friends from high school, well, when I got my Masters in Children’s Lit, you know, people were like that’s exciting you get to go to BEA and stuff, but you know I told them I get to interview you, this one girl got really excited, she’s an elementary school teacher, and said, “Tell her she’s got to write some stuff for elementary school kids. And I’ll share it with everybody!” And I said, “Okay, I’ll ask!”

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Sarah and a Shy Sasha

SD: I mean we (looking at Sasha) read a lot, we read amazing picture books together. and right now we are reading chapter books like Amelia Bedelia and the Amazing Princesses and stuff, but I feel like it is so much harder! Picture books are like poetry to me, people say like, “You should write a picture book,” like it is easy and I don’t even know how you do that. But I am getting to discover a lot more books through her (Sasha), which is awesome.

MR: Well that’s good.  This is kind of a personal question that I have from it: all of your books kind of have their own special little world, and there’s no real pop culture references, which I love because it doesn’t date the text. Was that intentional?

SD: Right.

MR: or was that accidental that you did?

SD: I think a lot of it is intentional. I think we’ve done some music that we’ve used but it’s always been older more classic music.  But I remember with Someone Like You, which was my second book back in 1998, and I remember there was a scene where Haley and Scarlet were in the doctor’s office and originally I had Haley reading a magazine, like People magazine, that had Brad Pitt on the cover. and my editor was like, “Brad Pitt?” You have to put someone else. So I thought, “Elvis! Elvis is forever,” and she was like, “No, these teens won’t know who that is.”  So I made it Frank Sinatra and she said, “Sinatra will be dead by the time this book comes out!” Which is funny because he died like 2 days before the book came out.

MR: Oh God, it is like she cursed him!

SD: But it’s tricky. You know I’ve been very hesitant about using technology and hesitant about doing text.

MR: I noticed that in Saint Anything.

SD: and you know the iPOD in Just Listen, you know, I think I called it something else. Because you want them to be timeless.  And I’ve gone back and read some books from my teen years and thought like these are really dated. And now some go back and update them, like Lauren Myracle did with her TTYL or whatever. But I feel like I want them to be timeless so you can go back and read them.

MR: And I honestly love that because it does make it so much fun to read and you know you connect it to your other books.

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Sarah taking questions

SD: The issues are timeless in some ways. I graduated high school a billion million years ago, but a lot of the same issues persist like the ones you have with your mom, issues with your friends, with your significant other, whoever that may be, your after school job. I mean a lot of that stuff doesn’t change and I think that is why YA is still appealing across the board to so many kinds of people. Whether you are in high school now or you were ever in high school you can relate to it.

MR: Right. I agree. Okay, if you had to pick one of your books for new readers to start with, which one would it be and why?

SD: I don’t know! I would pick either The Truth About Forever or Saint Anything. I’ve seen, this trip in particular, so many people coming through the line with The Truth About Forever dog-eared, coffee stained, wrinkled from the pool, pages highlighted, but I feel like Saint Anything is as good place to start to because it’s kind of a return to form.

(Sasha got a stool to sit on at this point.  Up until now she had been adorably sitting on her mom’s lap)

SD: But yeah it’s a return to form. Not that the last few books haven’t been complicated, but I feel like this book is a bit more like The Truth About Forever and Just Listen in that it has a wider canvas and moving pieces. So it would be my dream that people would you know, pick up Saint Anything because they’ve heard buzz about it or they are excited about it and they read it and they’re like, “Oh there’s all these other books!,” because I love that.  Like Jodi Picoult, I had read some of her books, then I read Leaving Time, and I loved it and now I’m working my way through her back-list, which I think is the best thing in the world when you discover an author and realize that there are so many other books.

MR: Yeah.  Moving on to Saint Anything, specifically.  Music is very important in the text. It has been a theme in some of your other novels, so is that something that–music is so important to your writing process, creatively? Or is that something that you feel connected to, music?

SD: I think it’s kind of waxed and waned with me. I mean I was very into music when I was younger and now I listen to more– Sasha and I are really into Taylor Swift these days.

MR: Hey, her new album is awesome.

SD: Yeah, yeah I think music can take you to a place. Like I wrote Just Listen which was so much based on music and how music can kind of define a moment more than anything else. and in this book (Saint Anything) I felt that it really showed the difference between the two worlds. Like with Sydney, Layla and the bluegrass. Like, I don’t write southern novels, I think, for the most part, but I do love putting Southern touches in my novels.  Like just putting bluegrass in there. You know, growing up here, it was always on in the background. But you know I do think music is important.  I don’t listen to music when I’m writing, like I can’t have anything–I have to have that silence, you know, unless I’m in a coffee shop and then I tune everything out. But I do have playlists for all of my books–not that I listened to while I was writing–but when I was driving around.

MR: What song would you listen to a lot when you were doing this book?

SD: Well, with this one it was Brave, which is our Sara Bareilles song. Because I had a book I started before this book, which failed, and I set it aside. And I wasn’t sure if another idea was going to bubble up so it was the idea of I just have to sit here and see if another story is going to come to me, and it may not and maybe, you know, I’ve been in this a long time.  It is going to be 20 years in the Fall of 2016 so maybe you know, there are all these young people coming up behind me and maybe I need to like, rest on my laurels for a while, and if another story doesn’t come then you know. It was a really big, scary  moment to set that book aside.  But I’m so glad I did because this book is so much better.

MR: So do you think you’d ever go back to that one, though?

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Sarah surprising long time fan, Kayla, with a gift

SD: No. And the thing is that, after I finished Saint Anything, I did a big clean out of my closet because my writing is so out of my control that I like to  organize everything, I’m always organizing all of her (Sasha) toys.  But up in my attic I found these thirteen manuscripts, counting the one I had set aside, and I set them out in my driveway and took a picture of them. And they each had a sticky note with the narrator’s name on it, and I was like I’ve published 12 books and I have 13 failed novels. Like, something isn’t working here, this can’t be part of my process.  But it may be that it’s what you need like a palate cleansing in between because in YA you are expected to publish so frequently. And you know if you are in adult contemporary you can take you know 5- 10 years in between books and no one gives you a hard time. But I’m considered slow with every two years. Which is just insane to me!

MR: I think it’s maybe because of the attention span of a lot of YA readers

SD: And because people are used to series and with series there is that pressure.  And I’ve just always been writing at the speed I’m going to write and that is just how it is, but I don’t think I’ll go back to it. I have cherry picked things from previous books, like my book Dreamland, that whole story was out of another book that didn’t work, that was my adult novel that didn’t work. Because I save everything. I don’t really print them all out anymore, but you know I save them to discs, I keep them on file because you never know.  But I purposefully haven’t started anything yet after this book, so right now I don’t really have anything else to bank on, this is all I’ve got.  And if this is the last book that I do for a little while, if this is the one I stick with, then it’s a good one to stick with.  That’s how I feel.

MR: Well, if there is one thing that you want readers to take away from Saint Anything what would it be?

SD: I would think that, you know, the quote at the beginning, “to all the invisible girls, you don’t have to be invisible.” You know, high school is so hard and just because you are invisible to somebody doesn’t mean you’re invisible to everybody. And the key to life is finding the people that see you and I think that’s– whether it be your friends or your family or somebody else or a mentor–but that somebody sees you.

MR: I know we need to wrap up, but I have another personal question–my personal favorite has always been This Lullaby, I’ve worn out like 3 or 4 different copies of it. I actually ordered a hardcover copy of it because I wanted to have a copy signed.

SD: Oh, nice!

MR: But where would you say Remy and Dexter are now?

SD: Oh, in my mind they are still together, of course.  I actually started to write a sequel. It was the only time I’ve thought about a sequel, after I finished Saint Anything, and I thought I’d have a great idea and it was like 3 years after Remy–who was you know going into her senior year in college and was doing really well.  And I had this whole thing, it was all organized, and I had a first chapter. But it was so perfect as it is, well not perfect because no book is, but it was so–I love them. And I think bringing them back in Just Listen was really good, because everything was good.  I just don’t think I’m a sequel person.

MR: Yeah.

SD: and I wrote that book when I was, it came out in 2002, so I was 31. You know? And it was so great and I loved it so much that I’d be afraid if anything I did would, you know.  But I manage to work Truth Squad into everything, and you know “Hate Spinnerbait,” I will always–and when Dexter– when they came in in Just Listen, I just wanted to go out the door with them, because it was just such a hard book to write. In my mind they are still together, in my mind everyone is still together.  I married someone I met in high school, and we are still together so.

MR: Well, thank you so much for talking to me. I was super nervous coming into this because I was like, “I’ve been reading her since I was twelve!”

SD: You don’t need to be nervous for me!

DessenSigningTable

Thanks for coming by!

Thank you so much to Sarah Dessen, Rachel from Penguin Random House, Johanna and the team at Flyleaf books for helping make this event and interview happen!

You can check out my review of Sarah’s novel, Saint Anything, just click on the title.

Be sure to read along with the Penguin SUMMER OF SARAH DESSEN Schedule to see more reviews, exclusive content, and have the chance to win copies of ALL 12 of Sarah Dessen’s novels.

SummerwithSarahDessen

 

I’ll be posting reviews for each week, hope to see you!

Summer of Sarah Dessen: Review of Saint Anything

saintanythingPeyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

Check out the book trailer!

There’s a certain amount of magic in every Sarah Dessen novel that is hard to quantify. They are not full of “actual” magic as her books are contemporary in nature, but her story telling abilities are almost ethereal.

Not unlike her previous novels, Dessen really explores the teenage female psyche with skill and still manages to create a character with a unique voice. Sydney’s outlook on life and her circumstances set her apart from Dessen’s other narrators, but still manages to place her firmly within the canon.

The narrative will draw you in from the first scene, which opens in the courthouse for Peyton’s sentencing, and immediately you feel Sydney’s longing for a place in her family that revolves around the oldest son with behavior problems.  I love how the tension began to escalate quickly after the introduction of a specific character, and Dessen does a great job of establishing the antagonistic relationship between the two subtly.

While Sydney is a bit of a pushover at the beginning of the story, it is important to note that she still has her agency when she decides that she wants to make a big change in her life and transfer out of the school she grew up in and away from her only friends to make a new start.  I do enjoy the “journey” trope in young adult literature and this was the beginning of Sydney’s journey to “being seen” by people who made her feel important and loved.

I think the overall arching theme in this novel is something that Dessen summed up to me in the interview I had with her prior to her book event in Chapel Hill with the song Brave by Sara Bareillies.  Sydney was brave enough to change her life in a big way and ultimately a better way.  She was brave enough to face the guilt that came along with Peyton’s actions.  She was brave enough to prove herself to her family.  And of course, she was brave enough to love.

As a fan of Dessen’s work I can tell you that this book will leave you wanting more.  Who else wants to live in Lakeview?

5 Bards to Sarah Dessen’s wonderful 12th novel, and here is to 12 more.

 

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Book Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

*kicks self*

Why yes, I am kicking my own ass for not reading this sooner.  Sure, I chastised myself fairly well in my review of These Broken Stars (which you can check out by clicking on the title), but I just have to keep reminding myself that I made a huge mistake by putting these off (Gob Bluth agrees).

This Shattered World picks up roughly a year after These Broken Stars, to be more accurate I think it is around 8-9 months after based on a comment in the novel, and we are introduced to two new characters immediately.  Now, I knew going into this that Lilac and Tarver were not going to be involved in this narrative, which was a bit disappointing, but it didn’t really deter me much considering I legitimately put down These Broken Stars and immediately walked to my bookshelf to pull This Shattered World.

Spooner and Kaufman waste no time putting the reader into the hostile environment on Avon and both of the narrators are introduced in the first chapter.  I found it to be interesting that the first novel started with the male perspective, Tarver, and this installment started will Jubilee’s point of view.  Jubilee and Flynn share a large amount of the point of view switches, where in the first novel it seemed that Tarver’s narrative voice really dominated the story.  I found that I was really wishing for more from Lilac after finishing This Shattered World, because I realized how strong the female perspective was and how much I wanted from her in retrospect.

Jubilee isn’t necessarily the most likable character at first considering she prides herself on being emotionless, dreamless, and unable to be corrupted by Avon.  However, she is headstrong and determined and is supremely skilled, which makes her respectable before she is likable.  Flynn, on the other hand, was immediately relatable.  I saw Spooner at a book event once and she revealed that she and Kaufman would do the female and male point of views, respectively.  I love how different their narration was but how they came together as characters.

I like that the POV shifts still included the one page inserts from an outside source.  The first novel had interview questions between an unknown and Tarver, and this novel had the details of dreams.  I think that the stories tied together extremely well and I was very glad to see a few familiar faces toward the end of This Shattered World. 

4.5 Bards

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Book Review: Elena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle and Clare B. Dunkle

Seventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing. Every day means renewed determination, so every day means fewer calories. This is the story of a girl whose armor against anxiety becomes artillery against herself as she battles on both sides of a lose-lose war in a struggle with anorexia. Told entirely from Elena’s perspective over a five-year period and co-written with her mother, award-winning author Clare B. Dunkle, Elena’s memoir is a fascinating and intimate look at a deadly disease, and a must read for anyone who knows someone suffering from an eating disorder.

**I originally reviewed this novel for Reading Teen and you can visit their blog as well. 

Release Date: May 19, 2015

It seems almost impossible to describe the voice in your head when you have an Eating Disorder.  The voice is disembodied, but it seems more tangible than a book in your hands or the food sitting on a plate in front of you.  That voice fills up the space in your mind and takes away the silence and peace that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.  It tells you all of the things you hate most about yourself and drills them into your subconscious, and the worst part is that you believe every insult it throws at you.

Elena Dunkle’s memoir, Elena Vanishing, is the first book that I’ve ever read that gives a completely honest picture of how hard it is to accept that there is a problem and that help is needed.  The authors note at the beginning of the novel that Elena’s story is true, but that there are fictional aspects to the story.  Does that sound contradictory? Of course, but so is life with an eating disorder.  But the main point of that disclaimer is to recognize how impairing an eating disorder can be and how many memories and moments are distorted through the disease.  So when venturing into reading this, remember that parts are embellished based on Elena’s experience.  Instead of taking away from the narrative, I believe that these parts make the story even more powerful.

The writing is superb, and Elena acknowledges that the majority of the writing was actually completed by her mother, Clare, but that the collaborative effort was intense and brought them closer together.  Be aware that this story is very painful.  There are a lot of family issues explored, self esteem, depression, self harm, obsessive compulsive disorder, and a lot more on top of the eating disorder.  By no means is the narrative overwhelming, the Dunkles did a fantastic job of displaying the harrowing details of their experience with Anorexia without being too overwhelming.  The pacing is excellent and at no point did the narrative lag.

While I find this memoir to have been comforting due to feeling like someone finally put words on a page to describe my struggle, please be aware that stories like these can also be triggering for some who are struggling with eating disorders.  I firmly encourage you to reach out to your primary care physician or therapist if you are having trouble.  Elena states in the memoir: getting help saved her life.  It saved mine.  It can save yours.

For more information about eating disorders and treatment options please visit the National Eating Disorder Association.
For more information about Elena, her struggle, and her life now please visit her website.

You can also connect to Elena on Twitter: @ElenaDunkle

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Flyleaf Books | Barnes & Noble

 

5 Bards.

fivebards

 

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: September 22, 2015

As a child, Ava’s adopted sister Miyole watched her mother take to the stars, piloting her own ship from Earth to space making deliveries. Now a teen herself, Miyole is finally living her dream as a research assistant on her very first space voyage. If she plays her cards right, she could even be given permission to conduct her own research and experiments in her own habitat lab on the flight home. But when her ship saves a rover that has been viciously attacked by looters and kidnappers, Miyole—along with a rescued rover girl named Cassia—embarks on a mission to rescue Cassia’s abducted brother, and that changes the course of Miyole’s life forever.

Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

I swear that I need to have someone else come behind me and help me choose which books to read as soon as I get them and which ones to put aside until later.  I mistakenly left this novel (and it’s sequel) sitting on my shelf too long.

These Broken Stars is a lot of things rolled into one: it is science fiction, it is romance, it is kind-of dystopian, and it is just a bit magical.  I’ve read some reviews of this novel that says that it was originally hyped as a big science fiction novel by the publisher.  I’m here to tell you that I don’t remember it being hyped as that.  I remember that it was a romance set in space.  Sure, the romance is a HUGE aspect of the novel (and I loved it) but I don’t understand why some reviewers were taken aback by that.  Anyway, I really like that there isn’t a time period stated in the novel or really anything that dates the story.  This means that the narrative will be able to stand on it’s own without being dragged down by cultural references or anything like that.  I absolutely adore novels that can not be dated.  It is obviously futuristic but we don’t know if it is 5 years in the future or a 100,000 years in the future.

The story starts quickly and the action never stops.  I love Kaufman and Spooner’s use of the Journey trope in this novel because it applies not only to the physical journey that Lilac and Tarver take, but also their emotional journeys as individuals and their journey in relation to one another.  I also really enjoyed the rotating narration in These Broken Stars.  I saw Meagan Spooner at a book event not long ago and she mentioned that Kaufman will typically write the male narration and that she will write the female narration.  It works so well!  Lilac and Tarver have such individual voices, but they slowly begin to come together toward the end of the novel, just as they do emotionally.

Lilac became such a strong character over the course of the novel.  She was strong in her own right at the beginning, but she really became so much more relatable and realistic as she struggled to survive without complaint in the strange terrain of the unknown planet.  It is obvious from the beginning that there will be a romantic relationship developing between Tarver and Lilac, but I think that Kaufman and Spooner provided excellent backstories that caused many obstacles to their romance–on top of them being unlikely partners in survival.  Where Lilac became much stronger as a result of her friendship with Tarver, I really liked how she softened him.  He was so closed off through a good part of the novel, but I think that his focus on keeping Lilac alive really showed his true colors.  Two amazing characters.

I loved the concept of the whispers, and I won’t give away anything else about them. Their existence was very thought provoking.  I’ve said too much!S

I really enjoyed this novel and could not put it down. I’ve already started the second installment and I am so glad I finally picked these up.

If you haven’t read these books I highly recommend it.

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Amazon| Flyleaf Books| Barnes & Noble

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