Tag Archives: Girl assassin

Assassin’s Heart – YA that is part Romeo and Juliet, part Dia De Los Muertes

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Assassin’s Heart – YA that is part Romeo and Juliet, part Dia De Los Muertes

This is a good old fashioned “Hell hath no fury” read, and I enjoyed it. For me, this book’s plot is actually secondary because the world building really stole the show.  Ghosts and goddesses, codes of conduct and questionable morals that are ruled by honor all make for a richly imagined setting.  I could see this place in my mind so clearly, and I’m desperate to read another story set in this deadly and enchanting place.

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Goodreads Summary

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

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My Thoughts

As far as assassins go, Lea is no joke.  She is a killing machine, and she doesn’t hesitate to get the job done.  I think she makes a few questionable decisions, and her emotions certainly drive her to an extreme, but I still liked her journey back from the underworld, a place we could all end up under the right circumstances.  I did feel the story lagged a lot at the midpoint, and Lia spends way too much time hanging out trying to reconnect with the last of her remaining family, but it didn’t ruin my overall enjoyment.  I also wasn’t swept away by the romance in this story, and I don’t think I was meant to be because this felt more about loyalty and friendship than lust (once bitten, twice shy and all), but the readers who want that Romeo and Juliet kind of love might be disappointed.  This is Romeo and Juliet gone even more wrong than it did the first time.  Some people will find the mystical elements stretch their suspension of disbelief, but I thought those were some of the most powerful moments in the book and I bought into them wholeheartedly.  The resolution was smart, satisfying, and exactly what I wanted.  I think this book will capture the imaginations of my high school readers, especially those who have enjoyed Sarah J. Mass’ Throne of Glass books and the His Fair Assassin’s series.  I’m adding it to my classroom library wish list, and I’m keeping an eye on this author.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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Black Widow: Forever Red – YA introduction to a mysterious Marvel character

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Black Widow: Forever Red – YA introduction to a mysterious Marvel character

I want to warn you that I know very little about the Marvel Universe, so I can’t tell you that this is going to rock your world or ruin your life if you are a superfan.  What I do know is that I had no knowledge of the Black Widow character when I started reading, and I enjoyed the book.  Ignore the fact that it is written by Margaret Stohl (unless you think highly of Beautiful Creatures, which I don’t).  This book was in no way reminiscent of anything else of hers I’ve read.  Ignore the fact that it is YA because adults can enjoy this book, as can readers of both genders.  I gave it four stars.

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Goodreads Summary

Enter the world of the Avengers’ iconic master spy

Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.
Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments-until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type.

Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned-and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams. . . .

Black Widow:Forever Red features all the heart-pounding adventure readers expect from Marvel, written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe that will thrill loyal fans and newcomers alike, as Stohl reveals the untold story of Black Widow for the very first time.

My Thoughts

The plot is action packed and engaging.  Lots of things blew up and lots of weapons were used.  There is some crazy cool science experimentation that will take down the good guys in a pretty stealthy way.  I don’t think the plot will disappoint anyone who likes super heroes.  The pacing is designed to engage readers, and there are some pretty surprising turns in the story.  I particularly liked the style the author used – chapters were separated by classified transcripts of interviews about the incident that the entire book leads up to.  It built suspense because they were part of a Line-of-Duty Death Investigation, so I knew something major was going to happen but each one shifted my guess about who was hurt or what had gone down.  I liked the characters, and I thought the author did a good job of bringing Tony Stark’s personality alive in the book – I did see the first Iron Man, so I could imagine RDJ spouting those lines.  I connected with Natasha probably because I am old and she is the adult in the situation, but most of the target audience will connect with Ava and Alex.  This is actually their adventure/nightmare with Natasha acting as a sort of dual narrator.  Some readers will be disappointed by that, but it thought it was rather smart – considering how much the book made me want to know more about the Marvel world, I figure this is a great way to bring in a new and wider fan base.  I think it was also a smart decision not to go too heavy on the romance because, though there are emotions, they are not enough to keep male readers from enjoying the book.  I think this is going to appeal most to middle school readers because the YA characters felt younger, but I did enjoy it as an adult reader because it did deal with the emotions that experiences like the Red Room can have on a readers life.  This wasn’t a stupid happy story – there was real suffering and reflection in here, and I think that translates very well to my idea of the world of super heroes before Hollywood slicks them up.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 12+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows – an impossible task + a band of endearing underdogs = fast paced adventure full of unexpected twists and turns

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Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows – an impossible task + a band of endearing underdogs = fast paced adventure full of unexpected twists and turns

Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha books were a wonderful surprise.  The world building was unbelievably rich and her characters were ones I really got attached to, so I couldn’t pass up the start of her new series, Six of Crows.  This book was quite different in terms of characters and conflicts, but it really expanded the world she started in her Grisha series.  Fans won’t be disappointed, and if you haven’t read any of her other books, it still isn’t a problem.  Six of Crows shares a world with her other works, but this book can stand alone.  I gave it a solid four stars for its action, adventure, and surprisingly complex underdog characters.

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Goodreads Summary

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

My Thoughts

The plot in this story is interesting because it is about a dicey heist taken on by a gang of street rats who feel a bit like Charles Dickenson’s young protagonists.  Each of them has experienced a life changing disaster that altered their lives in seemingly irrevocable ways, but getting this job done could give them a chance to change that in a heartbeat.  I think it is the hope that they each feel, a hope that is contagious, that draws the reader in the most.  I wanted these characters to find the happiness that they were denied.

The smart pacing, too, is a draw.  The story starts with an action sequence that makes it clear that being outsmarted and betrayed is absolutely a possibility for these players.  The author wisely chooses to keep the back stories to a minimum, weaving in the details as flashbacks at just the right moment to build suspense.  I didn’t really feel any lulls, and the action in the last third of the book is relentless.

The characters were not as engaging to me as others this author has written, but only because I think there were so many of them that I didn’t have enough time to develop an affection for a particular person before the action or another character pushed to the forefront of the story.  I wasn’t particularly bothered by that.  There were hints of romance, but nothing really got hot and bothered.  Again, I think this was a plot focused read, so I can live, though other readers might be disappointed.

For me, the best part of the book was getting to explore new parts of Bardugo’s world.  I really love this author’s world building, and the chance to experience the icy lands occupied by the Fjerdans was exactly what I was reading for.  Their customs and philosophies were well developed and considered, and I could picture easily envision this cold nation fueled by brotherhood.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the Grisha books, but I got my money’s worth.  There is action, intrigue, twists and surprises.  I think it will appeal to a wide audience of readers, not just those of us devoted to YA fantasy and magic.

Ward Against Death – A bumbling hero navigates murder, magic, and one undead assassin

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Ward Against Death – A bumbling hero navigates murder, magic, and one undead assassin

Ward Against Death is going to be the perfect read for someone.  Ward is a screw-up who just can’t seem to catch a break, and the brilliantly efficient Celia (a secret assassin) is his perfect foil.  Murder, magic, necromancy and secret societies abound in this fast paced adventure.  Maria V. Snyder (who I adore for her Poison Study books) blurbed it, and Ward is favorably compared to Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files (I kinda see it).  I sort of feel like a punk because I didn’t fall in love with this book, but I was bored and easily distracted all the way through.  Ward, I honestly believe that it’s not you – it’s me.  I’m sure there is a reader out there somewhere just waiting to get their hands on you.

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Goodreads Summary

Twenty-year-old Ward de’Ath expected this to be a simple job—bring a nobleman’s daughter back from the dead for fifteen minutes, let her family say good-bye, and launch his fledgling career as a necromancer. Goddess knows he can’t be a surgeon—the Quayestri already branded him a criminal for trying—so bringing people back from the dead it is.

But when Ward wakes the beautiful Celia Carlyle, he gets more than he bargained for. Insistent that she’s been murdered, Celia begs Ward to keep her alive and help her find justice. By the time she drags him out her bedroom window and into the sewers, Ward can’t bring himself to break his damned physician’s Oath and desert her.
However, nothing is as it seems—including Celia. One second, she’s treating Ward like sewage, the next she’s kissing him. And for a nobleman’s daughter, she sure has a lot of enemies. If he could just convince his heart to give up on the infuriating beauty, he might get out of this alive…

My Thoughts

This book just wasn’t my thing, and that is surprising since the word “necromancer” paired with a female undead assassin should have really been right up my alley.  I think the biggest problem for me is that these characters are running all over the town for answers but those answers never added up to much for me as a reader.  So, I couldn’t put the puzzle together without one of the characters explaining in detail what had just happened.  When the two characters did slow down. They usually split up which didn’t give them much time to really bond as a team.  All the running around also stalled their development as characters – I didn’t feel like they were more than just characters, and that made me apathetic about the outcome of the story.  I also struggled with the many character names and the intricacies of this world – I just couldn’t seem to grasp how the social structure was set up, so I didn’t really understand the advantages of killing people or not killing people or raising people from the dead.  I really had to force myself to read this book after the first few chapters, but the whole time I was reluctantly reading, I was thinking that some readers would really love this story.  I think this book has a lot of things to recommend it to the right reader, but that just wasn’t me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.

Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne concludes her Midnight Thief series

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Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne concludes her Midnight Thief series

When I read Midnight Thief, the first book in this pair, I wasn’t terribly impressed.  When I reread it before attempting the sequel, I enjoyed it a little more.  You definitely need to read these books in order, but if you have already read and enjoyed Midnight Thief, I think you will enjoy Daughter of Dusk.  I think this is a book that younger YA readers will enjoy more than older ones.

Goodreads Summary

After learning the truth about her bloodlines, Kyra can’t help but feel like a monster.

Though she’s formed a tentative alliance with the Palace, Kyra must keep her identity a secret or risk being hunted like the rest of her Demon Rider kin. Tristam and the imprisoned assassin James are among the few who know about her heritage, but when Tristam reveals a heartbreaking secret of his own, Kyra’s not sure she can trust him. And with James’s fate in the hands of the palace, Kyra fears that he will give her away to save himself.
As tensions rise within Forge’s Council, and vicious Demon Rider attacks continue in surrounding villages, Kyra knows she must do something to save her city. But she walks a dangerous line between opposing armies: will she be able to use her link to the Demon Riders for good, or will her Makvani blood prove to be deadly?
In this spellbinding sequel to Midnight Thief, Kyra and Tristam face their biggest battle yet as they grapple with changing allegiances, shocking deceit, and vengeful opponents. 
My Thoughts

While Kyra’s conflicts are the same as before (her heritage, the inequality among the classes, her past with James and the assassin’s guild), the issues have shifted slightly after the events in the first book and still hold enough interest to move the story arc and character development forward.  While many readers will be excited to know that the romance that started with Tristam’s rescue of Kyra in the first book continues to develop in the second, they should be prepared for a sweet rather than passionate love story.  I was surprised to learn that this is the last book featuring these characters, but it did mean that the resolution at the end was an actual resolution of the conflicts.  While the book is technically everything it should be, it didn’t resonate with me.  I did enjoy the fact that Kyra grew to better understand James and his perspective on the way the world works, but she doesn’t ever really learn to control the impulsive actions that initiate most of her personal battles.  Tristam, too, had the potential to be a new book crush, but he just seemed to be going through the motions.  While I equate the characters and plot with the word “lukewarm,” I do think that the actual target audience will be more impressed, particularly those on the younger end of the scale. 

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lee Bross’ Tangled Webs will take YA readers to the dark side of eighteenth century London with one savvy and determined protagonist

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Lee Bross’ Tangled Webs will take YA readers to the dark side of eighteenth century London with one savvy and determined protagonist

It begins with a villainess, a lady in disguise who collects on the debts you owe, debts you gained when you did something you never want your family and friends to know about.  Pair that lure with this stunning cover, and I was sold.  While this wasn’t quite as good as I really wanted it to be, I still thought it was a solid four-star read.  If you can’t resist a bad girl who wants to go straight or a lady in hoop skirts who can probably kick your butt, this is certainly worth a look.

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Arista is the notorious Lady A, the beautiful woman who hides in the shadows of the masquerade and trades in the secrets and lies of London’s elite.  No one sees the men behind her who hold her captive to a life she despises, but when circumstances offer her the opportunity of escape, Arista will have to decide who and what she is willing to risk for her own freedom.  But in a dangerous underworld where enemies masquerade as allies, finding happiness and out-running the past may be more impossible than even Arista suspects.   While the historical London setting will be new to many YA readers, the strong female protagonist will not.  Arista evokes many of the young women currently popular in YA fiction, and she doesn’t disappoint.   She is fiercely protective of the few people she has been allowed to love.  She has been trapped in a nightmarish situation where all of her choices have been dictated since early childhood.  She is forced to be the face of an enterprise where others benefit and she is a puppet.  Sound familiar?  It should.  Reading this book is like finding a new friend you feel an instant connection with, and it is precisely that connection that will keep readers taunt with tension as Arista gambles in her bid for freedom.  A romance, too, grows in the midst of this tangled web of deception, raising the stakes and readers hopes for Arista’s success.  Fans of Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series or Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy will particularly enjoy Tangled Webs.  While there is no fantasy element, the leading lady is reminiscent of both Celaena and Alina.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Mary Weber’s Siren’s Fury changes the game set up in Storm Siren

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Mary Weber’s Siren’s Fury changes the game set up in Storm Siren

Siren’s Fury is the second book in The Storm Siren Trilogy, and if you haven’t read the first, Storm Siren, this review will spoil it for you.  While I am pretty sure I like the idea of this series (and the gorgeous covers) more than I like the actual series, I enjoyed the second book enough that I want to finish the series. I rated both books in the series four stars.

  
Goodreads Summary

“I thrust my hand toward the sky as my voice begs the Elemental inside me to waken and rise. But it’s no use. The curse I’ve spent my entire life abhorring—the thing I trained so hard to control—no longer exists.”

Nym has saved Faelen only to discover that Draewulf stole everything she valued. Now he’s destroyed her Elemental storm-summoning ability as well.

When Nym sneaks off with a host of delegates to Bron, Lord Myles offers her the chance for a new kind of power and the whispered hope that it may do more than simply defeat the monster she loathes. But the secrets the Bron people have kept concealed, along with the horrors Draewulf has developed, may require more than simply harnessing a darker ability.

They may require who she is.

Set against the stark metallic backdrop of the Bron kingdom, Nym is faced with the chance to change the future.

Or was that Draewulf’s plan for her all along? 
My Thoughts

Siren’s Fury picked up where Storm Siren left off with that horrifying cliffhanger.  Now that Nym’s only remaining love interest has been absorbed by the Draewulf, things get a little more interesting.  Nym focuses on what she could possibly do to unattach the Draewulf (nothing, everyone assures her) and on discovering exactly what the Draewulf plans.  Readers will get a look at Eogan’s spartan-like society in this book, but for the most part it is a character driven narrative.  There is quite a bit of action and several surprises.  The loss of some characters and the retention of others changes the dynamic and the addition of a cryptic new prophecy keeps the story fresh.  Readers won’t be happy initially, but the ending is quite satisfactory and provides a nice affirmation for both Nym and readers.  If you enjoyed the first book, you will enjoy this book just as much, if not more.  

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan is one of the most anticipated reads of the summer, and with good reason.

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Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan is one of the most anticipated reads of the summer, and with good reason.

Carrie Ryan is a writer who I depend on for pitch perfect prose, careful dialogue and complex characters who feel so conflicted and so real. When I began reading Daughter of Deep Silence, I instantly relaxed. I was once again in the hands of a professional. Until I couldn’t relax because that complex and conflicted character nearly made me lose my mind with every terrifying, deadly risk she took. I literally put the book down half way through and didn’t pick it up for a month. That isn’t me. I devour books in a day! I finish what I start! I did finally psych myself into continuing this read, and the distance that time gave me allowed me to finish without the aid of anxiety medication, but this book was intense. While this is nothing like When We Were Liars, the smart and twisty nature will appeal to fans of that book.

  

Goodreads Summary

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.

I’m the friend of a dead girl.

I’m the lover of my enemy.

And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose. 

My Thoughts

This is a revenge book.  A powerful man used a ship full of people in a terrible way and ruined a lot of lives, and Libby (Frances Mace’s adopted persona) is going to make him pay. Libby has basically become so hyper focused on the mission that she has become a shell of a person, a girl who never takes off the mask.  She has shoved down every scrap of humanity that was ever in her and plotted coldly, placing all the costs and rewards in neat rows.  Except she couldn’t factor in the way it would feel to kiss the boy she lost so long ago.  She couldn’t know that the girl she buried is still waiting for a fighting chance at freedom.  This is beautifully written and thoughtfully plotted.  Libby has an inner life that makes her feel as real as any person I’ve ever known. She also still feels like a teen, albeit a more sophisticated one than I was.  Clearly, I thought the ever present threat and danger inherent in taking revenge on powerful people was believable.  There are twists I didn’t see coming, and in the end I was pretty stunned by how it all went down.  I do have to say that after all of the buildup about what motivated the takedown of the Persephone, the answers were a little anticlimactic, but, hey, they made sense.  I would have liked to puzzle it out as a reader, though, and this answer had to be explained by a character who had info readers didn’t have access to.  I understood that the point of the book wasn’t really the mystery so much as the character’s journey, but, it felt a little like cheating when I got the answer handed to me in a few sentences.  I also wasn’t quite satisfied by the ending, but Ryan’s books always leave me feeling that way – they aren’t the endings I want, but they are the endings I think the characters probably would get in the real world, so I accept them. Overall, I think this is a book that will find a wider audience than The Forest of Hands and Teeth series.  Zombies scare people off, though they really shouldn’t, but this form of the living dead is a lot more approachable for most readers.  

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Virginia Boecker’s The Witch Hunter should definitely be on your YA wish list

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Virginia Boecker’s The Witch Hunter should definitely be on your YA wish list

I haven’t seen much publicity for The Witch Hunter, but this is certainly one book that should be on your radar.  It is probably going to be overwhelmed by the biggest book publishing on the same day, Daughter of Deep Silence by veteran zombie queen, Carrie Ryan.  I got a chance to read both of them early, and I honestly believe that The Witch Hunter will be more of a crowd pleaser (at least among my crowd of people).  Elizabeth Grey is a strong female protagonist who enjoys her role as a witch hunter for the King until the tables are turned and she must seek the protection of those she once helped capture.  Readers who like to root for the underdog will enjoy this adventure, and the universal conflicts at the core of Elizabeth’s character add a nice depth.   *apparently Daughter of Deep Silence published a week earlier than expected, so no conflict (May 26).

Goodreads Summary

Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth’s witch hunting past–if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she’s thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

My Thoughts

Elizabeth may be one of my favorite female characters ever.  Initially I thought her belief system ruled her actions, but as the story progressed, it became clear that her loyalty and inner conflict are truly ruled by the universal desire to belong.  This made her vulnerable in ways she never could have predicted, and that is what made her feel so real.  The cast of secondary characters was just as carefully crafted, and they were a delightful mix of good and bad, you know, like real people who are driven by both desire and fear.  The plot was just as well done as the characters.  It moved along at a fairly consistent clip and, when things did slow down to develop characters, those moments still felt essential to the overall story instead of feeling like embellishment.  There was a little romance with a nice conflict built into it, but it wasn’t the focus on the story. Overall, this is a carefully crafted and well edited book that I didn’t want to put down.  I gave it a solid four stars, but many readers will consider this a solid five star read.

This book is available in the MHS library.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is a compelling, lush and vivid mix of mystery, romance, and adventure that you won’t want to miss.

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The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is a compelling, lush and vivid mix of mystery, romance, and adventure that you won’t want to miss.

The Wrath and the Dawn is a YA reimagining of Arabian Nights, and I thought it was brilliant.  It is probably a little too introspective if you are a light YA reader, but if you like your characters and plots meaty, this is an exceptional revision of the story we all think we know.  It is a solid four stars, but I really probably got five stars worth of enjoyment from it.


Readers will either find The Wrath and the Dawn wildly romantic, or wildly improbable.  One girl captures the attention of a heartless ruler, not because she is beautiful, but because she is honest and an intriguing puzzle. In the midst of revenge, secrets, and heart breaking regret, the king who has never let a bride live past the dawn of her wedding night lets one girl see the next day, and the next, and the next, risking everything he has gained through his monstrous actions.  It isn’t because her stories are engaging, as the legends have all insisted.  It isn’t because he fell for her feminine wiles.  It is because, in her, he sees everything he has lost, taken, and sacrificed.  Sigh.  I found it wildly romantic.  Each character in this book is so well developed – their conflicts are clear and vivid and bleed through the pages.  The terrible choices they all must make are so well founded that readers will be left taunt with suspense and uncertainty about how things are going to play out until the very end.  The setting is sumptuous, mysteriously exotic, and magical.  It is the very thing that drew me in, but it is the one thing that threatened to send me running — with exotic lands come unfamiliar names, and I struggled to keep characters straight, especially the rather large cast of men.  This is not an insurmountable obstacle, so I would urge readers to stick it out.  Each character is distinct enough in his or her actions that it gets easier.  While there are several action sequences, readers should also expect swaths of introspective thinking and many conversations designed to give insight into motives and internal conflicts.  This is what adds depth to characters, but it isn’t as engaging as the sword fights, assassination attempts and street brawl that bracket them.  I wasn’t fully satisfied with the ending — I know that I’m going to have to read the next one, but I also know that is likely a year away.

This book is available in the MHS library.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.