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.

persianfashion

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!

 

Book Review: Falling by Design by Valia Lind

22080441Brooklynn Summers has a plan for her life: graduate from high school, get into a top fashion school, prove to her family that she’s not a failure. She wishes someone in her life understood her need to create because her parents sure don’t support her dreams, her sister hates her, and the deadlines are soon approaching.

Enter Grayson Banks.

There are a few things in life Brooklynn can’t stand: mismatched patterns, cheap polyester, and Grayson. No boy has ever publicly humiliated Brooklynn like Grayson has. When he suddenly moved away in eighth grade, Brooklynn happily wished him good riddance. But on the first day of senior year, Grayson comes back, with his piercing blue eyes and a smile that melts icebergs, he is not exactly the boy Brooklynn remembers. She quickly realizes that Grayson’s intentions have completely shifted, but she’s not sure if she can put their past behind her.

Grayson understands Brooklynn’s creative ambitions and he devises a plan to showcase her work to the world. When the two agree to work together, suddenly, there is more than just fabric paint that’s having a chemical reaction to its environment. Brooklynn cannot help but feel pulled into Grayson’s arms, but memories and misunderstandings surface, putting in danger whatever small comradeship these two childhood enemies have constructed.

Can Brooklynn overcome her own insecurities, finally making her dreams come true? Even a dream she didn’t know she had.

Ahhhh!  I loved this book.  It was so stinking good.  Just the right amount of romance, and heartache, and friendship to keep me reading from start to finish.  It took me two days maybe a total of 6 hours to read, it was that good.  I loved how innocent it was, there was no real life drama (there was teen drama) or some horrifying incident.  It was your classic boy likes girl so he picks on her, then realizes that is not a great way to get a girl!

I loved Grayson, he was genuine and sweet and patient, everything a teenage girl wants in a boy, and he is HOT (according to the characters).    I thought his back story was good, and I loved that he had support from his family.  I really liked Dakota and Chance and their bickering.  I hope we get to read about their romance *hint hint*.

Brooklynn was a great character as well.  She was insecure and talented and had personality traits we all could identify with!  I was a little worried that I would get lost in fashion talk, but I really didn’t!  Valia put in just the right amount of detail to keep me involved and not lose me.  There was nothing about this book that I didn’t enjoy.  It was a great contemporary YA romance!  I really hope Valia Lind continues writing!

5 Bards

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Book Review: Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele

Lea Michele is one of the hardest working performers in show business. Whether she’s starring as Rachel Berry on Glee, rocking a glamorous look on the red carpet, recording her solo album, or acting as the spokesperson for L’Oreal, Lea is the ultimate multi-tasker. She knows better than anyone that it is difficult to be your best self and keep things in perspective when your to-do list is overflowing and you are faced with challenges, so she’s developed a foolproof system for remaining healthy and centered. In Brunette Ambition, she reveals the lessons and advice that have worked for her–from beauty and fashion secrets to fitness tips, and career insights. Supplemented with never-before-seen photos and revealing anecdotes, it’s the book Lea wishes she’d had in her teens and early twenties: A practical and inspirational guide to harnessing tenacity and passion and living the fullest life, no matter what obstacles life puts in your way.

To anyone who knows me personally, I have a massive girl crush on Lea Michele.  I started following her career back when I first heard some of the music from Spring Awakening, which was the same year that it was nominated for all of the Tony awards in 2007.  (I can’t help it, I’m a Broadway musical nerd and I spend a lot of time in my car singing along to soundtracks)

Anyway, by the time Glee premiered in 2009 I had already been listening to the Spring Awakening soundtrack for two years and was already familiar with Lea’s amazing voice, but had never actually seen her perform other than in grainy bootleg versions of Spring Awakening on YouTube.  Needless to say, I was basically hooked at the beginning.

Lea’s book follows her rise to stardom through the ups and downs of her Broadway career as a child in Les Miserables, Ragtime, and Fiddler on the Roof.  She details her decision to have a normal high school experience before returning to workshop Spring Awakening and meeting her best friend J Groff.  (Who, by the way, I had a giant crush on as well.)

The novel is interspersed with advice concerning personal health and beauty care, (I do plan on trying her bath routine to get smoother skin), healthy recipes that range from Vegan to Pescatarian, and beauty advice straight from her beauty team.  Which, let’s face it, always make her look fabulous, so how can we ignore their advice?

I think the best part of Brunette Ambition is Lea’s ability to make the reader feel like she is talking directly to them, and the reader gets a chance to find out what all they might have in common with the singer/actress.  For instance, Heathers is one of my favorite movies of all time, and evidently it is in Lea’s top ten movies to watch with her girlfriends!

I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a specific chapter on Cory (only because the Edelweiss page showed that he was supposed to originally have his own chapter), but I understand why there isn’t and respect her desire to only share her gratitude for his love and influence on her life.

I recommend everyone go out and buy a copy of this great book, I know I’ll be re-reading and using some of the recipes soon!

5 Bards

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