Cake and Godstars || Dreams of Gods and Monsters Review

Initial Thoughts:

*sobs* This was a love-hate. I love-hate myself for love-hating the last book of what I found as a terribly beautiful trilogy. And it was SO GOOD. Up until I got around 200 pages of story that got thrown in there just to make people SUFFER. So I’m crying inside here. I can’t help it, because I really wanted to love this book more. Ugh. Maybe I’ll be able to say better things once I’ve thought about it a bit.

I LOVE LIRAZ POV THO?


DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS

by Laini Taylor
Little, Brown & Company, April 2014
YA fantasy, romance, supernatural
Rated: 3.5 / 5 cookies

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

An epic war and an epic alliance

**Note: Here be spoilers of the previous two books.

Make no mistake, I think Laini Taylor is a godstar in her own right. I admire her writing, and I will recommend this trilogy over and over again, even with my frustrations in Dreams of Gods and Monsters. In DoGaM, we get the conclusion to a war between angels and demons and for the most part, a resolution to all the shipping that’s been happening since book one (I’m looking at YOU, Akiva and Karou!). Joram, the seraphim Emperor, is dead, as is Thiago, the chimaera Warlord. To continue the charade, Ziri poses as Thiago with the help of Karou and her close friends. Meanwhile, on the seraph’s side, Akiva leads his contingent of Misbegotten against a more formidable foe: his uncle, the deformed and cruel Jael. Without the idea of working together, both armies–Misbegotten and chimaera–are doomed to fail. But slowly and slowly, Akiva and Karou’s dreams of peace and cohabitation become a reality.

But not without a bit of struggle and a ton of butthurt feelings.

Always. XD

Like Taylor’s previous two books, there is a slow-burn story in the making, and while at this rate I would normally object the pacing–because I mean, come on, between the first book and the second, can we get to the action already?–I didn’t mind so much because Taylor is just such a lovely wordsmith. It doesn’t work as greatly in this book as it did in the previous two, but I appreciated it nonetheless, and I found that she fleshed out the other characters so well.

Liraz felt…guilty.

It was not her favorite feeling. Her favorite feeling was the absence of feeling; anything else led to turmoil…

She hadn’t felt their magic drill its sick ache through her for the entire time that they’d been encamped here. And that was why she was angry. Because they weren’t giving her a reason to be angry.

Feelings. Were. Stupid.

I loved Liraz’s development. And I absolutely loved that she gets a bit more POV in this book. Ever since Haz in the second book (OH GOD I STILL CRY INSIDE FOR THAT), Liraz has gone through a roller coaster ride in emotional turmoil. Yes, Akiva has, too, but Liraz took longer to persuade to make nice with the demons. But when it comes down to it, Liraz is a stalwart and loyal ally and I would never want to be on the receiving end of her anger.

Laughter and helpless grins, a swift breaking down of barriers. No one could hold out long against Haz. Her own gift, she thought with an inward shudder, was very different, and unwelcome in the future they were trying to build. All she was good at was killing.

She’s also badass. Like…seriously. So badass.

…Another moment, and they might have kissed.

But Ellai was a fickle patroness and had failed them–spectacularly–before. Karou didn’t believe in gods anymore, and when the door crashed open, there were only Liraz and the Wolf to blame for it.

“Well,” Liraz said, her voice as dry as the rest of her was not. “At least you still have your clothes on.”

And hilarious in her own dry humor. And yeah. Okay. I totally just threw in as many Liraz quotes I could find. Because I fangirl her.

“We haven’t been introduced. Not really.”

I also fangirl the fact that Liraz follows in the whole “demon-loving” route that her brother Akiva had undergone. In this case, there’s a recurring exchange between Ziri and Liraz that made me giggle like a schoolgirl because they are just. So. Damn. ADORABLE. Even near the end I was hoping things would work out.

“It might turn us both into Japanese men.” She squinted at him. “Would you still love me if I were a Japanese man?”

“Of course,” said Mik, without missing a beat.

Also, more Zuzana and Mik antics. They’re always a hoot and a half and a welcome cool breeze amidst all the warring and hating on each other.

So with all of this awesomeness, what went wrong?

To be honest, this story did not need to be 600 pages. Everything could have wrapped up nicely in 300, with the end of Jael and his Dominion, with the combination and alliance pulling through in victory. IT WAS FEASIBLE, YOU GUYS.

But nope. NOOOOPE. Deus ex machina happened, and an entirely new story got thrown in by the last 200-300 pages.

Several new characters got introduced, and yes, it helped build the world around them, and honestly, if I wasn’t already so invested in the characters in the previous books, I might have liked Eliza and Scarab. But as is, I found that I was skimming through most of Eliza’s chapters and rolling my eyes with the whole Stelian plotline. It could have been a completely different book, and a spinoff to the trilogy. The ending became super-anticlimactic to me, because most of the resolution was finished 100 pages or so before the damn epilogue. And I will say I didn’t read the epilogue. Not for a while. Because I knew if I read it, I would probably have chucked the book across the room or something, and I wouldn’t want to do that because I loved the first two books and the first 300 pages of DoGaM so much. So. Much.

3.5 out of 5 cookies! I would still recommend this book, for Liraz and Ziri and Zuzana and Mik. For Akiva, who’s still pretty awesome, even in his broody, angry form. And for Karou, who’s still got a lot of resurrecting ahead of her.


Have you read this book (and this trilogy)? What did you think?

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Peter Peter and Sky Eater || Tiger Lily Review

Initial Thoughts: 

For a retelling based off a children’s adventure story, this was kind of a snorefest. Kudos for the transgender Tik Tok at least?


TIGER LILY

by Jodi Lynn Anderson
HarperCollins, July 2012
YA fantasy, retelling, romance
Rated: 2 / 5 cookies

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Okay, so I admit I expected to be writing a very squee-ful review of A Conjuring of Light by now, but my commitment issues got in the way and I’ve been refusing to read the last two hundred pages of Schwab’s book because I DO NOT WANT IT TO END. So I picked up this book that I’d stopped reading in the middle of February for various reasons, and I finally finished it in one sitting.

Unfortunately, the feeling I had for the entire book was really just…meh?

(I’ve tried real hard not to turn this into a rant, but I swear my fingers have a mind of their own…)

So Tiger Lily is a retelling of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, a story about a flying boy who never grows up. In the original source, Peter takes the Darling siblings on a grand adventure in Neverland, only to find themselves in trouble with Captain Hook and his band of pirates. There’s a lot of shenanigans happening, and in the end, the story takes a cyclical turn, staying true to Peter’s everlasting boyish persona: that everything goes round and round, and will always stay the same where Neverland is concerned.

One of the secondary characters that show up in Barrie’s work happens to be Tiger Lily, the daughter of a tribal chief in Neverland. She is often pitted as the foil to Wendy, because she, too, loves Peter, and has eyes for no one else. Now, the Barrie original has an image of Tiger Lily walking onto Captain Hook’s ship with a knife in her mouth. And honestly, that image alone made this girl the most interesting character in Neverland to date. That’s saying much, considering there are mermaids and pirates and fairies to contend with!

I won’t get into an argument about the depiction of the Piccaninny tribe in the Disney movie, but honestly, I do remember loving what glimpse I had of this feisty little girl!

A lot of the book blurb hinted at some fast-paced, love-at-first-sight adventure romance. I mean, it’s a retelling of Peter Pan, and what wouldn’t be a retelling of Peter Pan if it didn’t have a magical Neverland brimming with mermaids and dangerous pirates and its indigenous, non-colonized people? The entire selling point was that the focus would be on Tiger Lily, one of the most interesting characters in the stories.

Here’s the problem with the blurb, though: it’s another unfortunate, inaccurate write-up. The most accurate it could have gotten was that the focus is on Tiger Lily. However, insta-love doesn’t happen (thank goodness). Tiger Lily is her own character for a majority of the book, and she does fall in love with Peter Pan, but her realization doesn’t even come about until halfway through the book.

Here’s the other problem: there wasn’t much “risk” involved on Tiger Lily’s part. Not once did I feel the need to worry about how the Sky Eaters would react to Tiger Lily’s involvement with the Lost Boys. There was clear and present danger, yes, but nothing immediate, and when dealing with a story where most people already know the ending (heck, the friggin’ fairy already prefaced the story as something that would not end happily for the two lovebirds), it was already predictable that Tiger Lily and Peter would come out unscathed. Probably heartbroken, but largely whole.

And to top it off, meeting Wendy Darling was pretty much the last fifty pages of the book. Honestly, I was half-hoping the entire scene had gone the pirates’ way in the end, because at least that would have been a trifle more exciting. Also, I didn’t think Wendy could get even more boring than the usual persona she is often depicted as, but she did. She got even less interesting in this book, and frankly, even Tinker Bell had developed more personality within the last fifty pages than Wendy did (and that’s saying something, because I swear Tink didn’t have an opinion in her little fairy body either).

It’s gotta be said, Wendy.

My biggest gripe of the story was probably the narration itself. It was hard trying to sympathize with any of the characters when the storyteller kept changing tenses and perspectives on me. The whole book is seen in the eyes of Tinker Bell, a mute fairy whose sole purpose in the book was really just to watch and observe things unravel before her. While I do not mind plot-driven books, the addition of Tink as the unreliable narrator made the storytelling clunky. There were too many POV changes in one scene, and it was sometimes difficult to determine whether or not it was Tink thinking some things or if it was Tiger Lily or another character whose mind Tink can view.

And honestly, Tinker Bell’s limited, single-minded view pretty much distorted the story to revolve around what she wanted to see. Everything else was white noise for her, and unless it dealt with the well-being of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan, Tink pretty much just glazed over things. This in itself is irritating when there were darker, grimmer issues surrounding the story that had nothing to do with Tiger Lily and Peter’s doomed romance. At one point, a rape took place, and Tink’s narration of it lasted a couple paragraphs, like it was just some sort of pitiable thing she happened to have come across. Instead of feeling any sorts of disgusted or worried, she doesn’t even bring this shit up to Tiger Lily. Oh, but Tink has time to prank Wendy Darling, though!

(In Tink’s defense, I doubt she would have been able to say much to Tiger Lily, who was also unfortunately too wrapped up in her own miseries to be paying attention to what was happening to her own damn friends. Ugh, shame on you, Tiger Lily!)

That said, it could have been worse. Tink could have had a voice…

That all said, there were a few things I liked about Tiger Lily.

The writing had its moments, for sure. I thought the prologue and the first few chapters were the best parts to read, because it had a poetic feel to them, and it was easy to forget that Tinker Bell was narrating the story for the most part. The letter at the end was probably one of my favorite bits, too, it was bittersweet and a bit sad. If I sympathized with the relationship more, I might have cared more, but Peter was kind of a jerk for the most part, and only the letter really indicated how much he changed when he got older.

Tik Tok, Pine Sap, and Moon Eye. Honestly, there were some really good characters written into the story. I thought Smee was characterized rather well, though I found this an interesting take on Hook’s most notorious lackey. Pine Sap and Moon Eye were great secondary characters, though I will say that Tik Tok was my absolute favorite. Honestly, Tik Tok’s and Moon Eye’s storylines were the most compelling for me in Tiger Lily, both of which dealt with darker issues. Hell, I was sad for Tik Tok. I was not sad that Peter chose the other woman.

2 out of 5 cookies! It got one extra cookie for Tik Tok and the conclusive situation with Giant. Yeah.

This counts as #6 of my Flights of Fantasy Challenge.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Dragons, Gods, and Other Steamy Bits || A Promise of Fire Review

promiseoffire-review

Initial Thoughts:

I find myself terribly conflicted with this book. On the one hand, I found it a fast read, occasionally super riveting, and totally steamy (like whoah there, this is NOT YA WHAT WAS I THINKING). On the other hand, I couldn’t personally condone the relationship for most of the book, and even when things started getting full-blown bad romancey in the classic Alpha-male and feisty female trope, I’m still holding onto my reservations.

Would I read the next book though? Hell yes I would.

A PROMISE OF FIRE

by Amanda Bouchet
Sourcebooks Casablanca, August 2016
Adult romance, fantasy
Rated: 3.5 / 5 cookies
e-ARC provided by NetGalley (thank you!)

promiseoffireKINGDOMS WILL RISE AND FALL FOR HER…
“Cat” Catalia Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods—and her homicidal mother—have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.

BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT
Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm—until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin’s fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

A Promise of a lot of Hot Things

So when I requested this book on NetGalley, I was looking at the cover and story description and thinking: “Oh! Kind of like Uprooted but with more romancey bits. Mmk!” Honestly, I expected a YA romance, with all the angst and all the tension.

What I was not expecting was all the sex. And hell, the sex was detailed. Gods above, it was much too detailed.

And before the eye-rolling at my seeming naivete commences, please note that I do primarily read and review YA and children’s fantasy. Occasionally I will review adult books, but often they are not so much romance adult books. So while I am not altogether unfamiliar with the smut that people write these days, a couple of the passages in this particular book took me by surprise.

I can’t say I ultimately disapproved, mind. Those scenes were hella sexy (and oh yes, I sure as hell am talking about THAT scene 85 percent into the book…).

A Couple of Caveats

A Promise of Fire is a story about a young Magoi (magic user) woman hiding from her past and a Hoi Polloi (non-magic user) man trying his utmost to bring her out of hiding. The two embark in a constant clash of emotions and physicality, and amidst their conflict lies a budding level of attachment that, when finally acted on, may very well destroy or unify the three kingdoms.

So, yeah, it’s a romance fantasy in a nutshell. Do not expect it to be more. I mean, the opening scene spent a great deal of time describing the perfectly muscled tones of the mysterious “warlord” (who winds up being the main male lead) and Cat’s apparent attraction to said fine specimen. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to kick Cat then or later, because honestly, the amount of fluttery butterflies and metaphorical wings and heat zinging through her nether regions every damn time the Beta Sinta came into play was getting tiring (Honestly, I don’t know how Cat manages to continually get turned on and not feel fatigued by it all in a physical sense!). I’m only surprised the words “rippling pectorals” weren’t used to describe any of the Hoi Polloi men, though Bouchet certainly gets damn close to using that description.

cavill

All that description about the Beta Sinta pretty much just sent my head to the hotness that is Henry Cavill. I mean, normally I wouldn’t complain about this beautiful eye-candy, but there IS such a thing as getting too repetitive over those beautiful raven locks and that hard, muscle-toned body.

The progression of the romance itself was kind of cringe-worthy at the start. In truth, I felt uncomfortable about the development between Cat and Griffin in terms of how they interacted with each other. From day one, it’s clear both are physically attracted to each other, and both are the epitome of their character archetypes. Cat is the feisty, fiery, powerful woman with a chip on her shoulder. Griffin pretty much screams Alpha male (even though, funnily enough, his title is the Beta Sinta). Griffin lays claim to Cat the minute he interacts with her, going so far as kidnapping her, threatening her with the general safety of her circus friends, and then tying her up with magical rope to bind her to him. Rightly so, Cat is angry, rebellious, acts out against her captors, and YET she winds up having the hots for the man with the perfect package (and gods, you need to read the description of Griffin and the Beta Team, they are full of glorified male description).

If that doesn’t scream dubious consent, then I don’t know what does.

It’s not until the latter half of the book that this uncomfortable dubiousness lets up, and even so, the whole time I’m reading, I kept thinking: “This is really not the way to go about winning an independent woman’s heart.” Which prevented me from loving Griffin. I mean, the other characters? Yes. I love flirty Carver and loyal Flynn, and Kato is charming and adorable, even if he is written as a perfectly male specimen as well (and gods, I was so afraid they’d all be Gary Stu-ish in nature). But Griffin? I suppose he has his cheeky amusing moments, and on occasion he has made me laugh out loud. All the same, I could have done without some of the belligerence he uses to get what he wants. And goodness, there was one scene that killed me with laughter, because it was, quite literally, a “fuck or die” chapter that I’ve only ever seen in fanfiction so far. I just COULD NOT DEAL.

Anyway. Moving on.

A Richly Imagined World

That all said, I absolutely love the worldbuilding and the overarching plot that revolves around the book.

Bouchet’s Thalyria is divided into three kingdoms: magic-filled northern Fisa, politically unstable Tarva, and magic-less southern Sinta. The ruling families appear to follow a hierarchy made up of Alphas, Betas, etc., with a tradition of fratricide being the normal way of things. Hell, it doesn’t seem to faze Cat to talk about how the Alpha Fisa condones her children’s bloodthirsty battle for the throne, nor does it faze her to mention the naturalness of the Alpha Tarva’s power-hungry sister, who is effectively Beta Tarva. And as for the Alpha and Beta Sintas? Well, they’re pretty much magic-less Hoi Polloi who upended tradition by overruling the Magoi Sinta nobles and becoming rulers themselves.

And among all of this political turmoil lies in essence a magical world, filled with Greek gods and Oracles. Cat’s powers are interesting at worst, friggin’ awesome at best. The fact that Griffin–whose Hoi Polloi ancestry denotes no magical powers at all–does not get affected by magic is also an interesting note. There’s definitely a lot I could ask about the working of the world’s magical system, and if it’s solely based on what the gods give their Chosen. In which case, I wonder how many actually like Cat, since, you know, she’s kind of got some god-like ancestry in her own bloodline.

In any case, while the romance did take over the majority of the story, I do want to continue reading the series. While the reader knows exactly who Cat is by the end of the book, no one else in Sinta does, and certainly I’m looking forward to how her lineage will affect the way most people in Sinta think about her. Also, there’s a lot of buildup over how dangerous the Alpha Fisa is, and how each of the divided kingdoms are close to the brink of war. And there’s also the fact that Cat herself is the Kingmaker. Why is she called this and what is she going to do next? Ugh, the possibilities for the stories in the next books are endless. And I want to know.

3.5 out of 5 cookies! So yeah, for the overall story, I’d keep on reading. I could also do with less heated exchanges and more giant-walloping, dragon-slaying adventures, please. I mean, I know it’s a fantasy romance, but still…


promiseoffire-selene

Times I Almost Teared but Didn’t || Eleanor & Park Review

eleanorpark-review

Initial Thoughts:

You know at first I thought I was going to lose my shmat when I saw the story go down a 5 Centimetres Per Second route (and omg watching that movie at midnight does NOT make for pretty tears–not that my crying is at all attractive), but all I could really think at the end was “It’s about goddamn time!” You go, Eleanor.

ELEANOR & PARK

by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s Press, 2013
YA romance
Rated: 3.5 / 5 cookies

eleanorparkTwo misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

It was kind of difficult to wrap my head around on how to review this book, because it’s not the type of book I read to begin with. I had the same problem with John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which, to be honest, was why I was curious to read E&P, because apparently TFiOS was supposed to make me cry. (Honestly, I didn’t. The book was depressing, though.) I’ve had E&P on my TBR for a while, and it was the first Rowell book I’d been alerted to.

Then Fangirl and Carry On kind of encompassed my entire Rainbow Rowell reading experience, and I don’t think I’ve yet recovered from squeeing over the Snowbaz fever.

Anyway, in short, I finally did get to E&P, expecting the sadness that encompassed TFiOS. Suffice to say, while I was quite entertained by the two lovestruck teenagers (and YES to not-skinny, awkward, anxious Eleanor!), and while the book certainly immersed me into the horrid ’80s dysfunctional family that was Eleanor’s (juxtaposed with Park’s not-so-dysfunctional ’80s family), it wasn’t my favorite Rowell. It was still pretty darn good, though, and worth the read, if only to read more Rowell conversations.

So with that, I end with five lovely quotes that, had I been reading this when I was in high school, would have made me cry (not just with sadness, mind–some crying could also be brought on by pretty words! yes this happens!), and the one time I kind of did.

Five Times I Almost Teared, And The One Time I Kinda Did

ONE

eleanor

When she saw Park standing at the bus stop on Monday morning, she started giggling. Seriously, giggling like a cartoon character…when their cheeks get all red, and little hearts start popping out of their ears…

It was ridiculous.

park

When he saw Eleanor walking toward him on Monday morning, Park wanted to run to her and sweep her up in his arms. Like some guy in the soap operas his mom watched. He hung on to his backpack to hold himself back…

It was kind of wonderful.

The writing style for this entire book reminded me of the poetry I played with in high school. I love the “He said, She said” style, and Rowell does it so damn well for an entire book.

TWO

Eleanor sitting next to him on the couch made Park feel like someone had opened a window in the middle of the room. Like someone had replaced all the air in the room with brand-new, improved air (now with twice the freshness).

Eleanor made him feel like something was happening. Even when they were just sitting on the couch.

Park has a lot of feelings. He’s adorable. And I swear every time he describes his time with Eleanor it’s filled with such pretty words and description.

THREE

“You think I’m cute?” he said thickly, pulling on her hand.

She was glad he couldn’t see her face. “I think you’re…”

Beautiful. Breathtaking. Like the person in a Greek myth who makes one of the gods stop caring about being a god.

I thank Rowell for NOT having Eleanor describe Park as a Greek god. The quote was made even better because of this.

FOUR

You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s me right now is yours. Always.

This was just a lot of awwwwww.

FIVE

He’d stopped trying to bring her back. She only came back when she felt like it anyway, in dreams and lies and broken-down deja vu.

Honestly, this was the first damn page. And then it get repeated later on in the end, which made it more understandable and all the sadder. Ugh, I could not at this point.

THE ONE TIME I KINDA DID

Just three words long.

Not gonna lie, that pretty much just says everything.


eleanorpark-tina

Love from the Stars, to the Stars || The Rose & the Dagger Review

rosedagger-review

Initial Thoughts:

As the second–and concluding–book of The Wrath & the Dawn duology, it delivered all the promises the first book made. And it did so with a language that was a mixture of poetry and song, in a setting that was filled with wonder and magic–both literally and metaphorically. And hot damn. Those characters and their sort of…togetherness. Loved them to bits.

THE ROSE & THE DAGGER

by Renee Ahdieh
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, April 2016
YA fairy tale fantasy
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

rosedaggerThe darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

Note: As The Rose & the Dagger is the second–and final–book of The Wrath & the Dawn, expect spoilers from the first book.

Last We Heard…

Not too long ago (read: less than a month ago, actually), I’d listened and reviewed The Wrath & the Dawn in preparation for a book signing I was attending the same month. If I’d liked the book well enough, I was determined to own both hardcovers, because hey, it’s a duology, which meant Rose would conclude the story I fell in love with in Wrath.

Which meant an end to the cliffhanger of book one. Which I had fortunately only finished weeks back, so my wait for book two was not as long as most people who’d read Wrath and gone “WHAT. YOU CAN’T LEAVE US HERE. NOOOO. WANT. MORE.”

So by the end of the first book, I had a ton of questions I wanted answered, like, NOW.

Clearly the duology is a love story first and foremost, between Shazi and Khalid. But how does Tariq deal? Is he going to the path of eeeeeevil or does he redeem himself? Do we see more than a glance of Irsa for once? How are the people in Rey dealing with the aftermath of the fire? Are Jalal and the Rajput hanging on? Will Despina and Jalal work through their angsty romance? Is Musa going to re-feature now that it’s clear magic runs in the al-Khayzurans? Is Shazi going to fly her magic carpet back to Rey? Is Khalid going to be separated from Shazi the entire bookARE PEOPLE GOING TO DIE?!

Yeah, soooo many questions. And theories. And nervousness. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if the second book would live up to the first, and I adored the first.

I shouldn’t have worried. My glass ceiling was shattered enough times and I will say I loved The Rose & the Dagger much more than I did the first book.

And let me tell you why.

The Story is Practically a Love Poem

“Where is your heart, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran?” His voice was coarse in its insistence.

In an alley by the souk. In a night of oblivion.

In the promise of tomorrow.

First of all, Ahdieh writes beautifully. It could probably explain why, when I listened to the audiobook of Wrath, I was moved and soothed by the narration. It was lyrical and poetic and magical, and most of all, it told the story of Scheherazade in a way I’d often imagined it being told. I have yet to read Wrath in text form, but I plan to, if only to read the bits and pieces I loved in the retelling.

She’d always loved dusk. It was as though a hand in the sky had pulled the sun from its berth…only to have the sun fight back, resisting, leaving a trace of itself to fade amongst the stars.

Of course, with beautiful writing comes beautifully quotable descriptions. I mean, egads, the amount of times I’d taken pictures of pages just so I can quote them in this review.

The wonder of Shahrzad. Shazi goes through a lot of angst–and growth–throughout the two books. By Rose she’s able to temper a number of her emotions. She is no longer as angry as she had been in Wrath, and she has a couple of goals in mind that she wants to see through. One is to help her father. The other is to figure out Khalid’s curse. Another is to fix the mess of the impending war between two powerful nations. And only by figuring these things out will she finally be able to go Home. And yes, I capitalize that for a reason.

“Since you can’t say it, will you at least tell me how much you love me?”

“From the stars, to the stars.”

Khalid you beautifully dangerous man, you. Okay, I will admit it now. I fell in love with Khalid. I mean, I loved him in Wrath. How could I not with his lovely poetic letters and his flashing golden eyes and his expert swordsmanship? (I honestly had to tell myself “Whoah, Mari, down, the guy’s an effing serial killer, remember that?” And yes, I am aware things get better because there’s a reason behind his dilemma–which has lots to do with the ruthless calculus of curses and death.) He still constantly makes quips that made me squee every single time. And like Shazi, he struggles and grows.

The magic is real. And there’s much more of it in Rose, to a point where Shazi comes to her own magic–with the help of the people at the Fire Temple. Musa was lovely, but it was Artan that held my attention. Artan Temujin is first introduced in Rose and I have to say I loved him from the getgo. He’s an interesting fellow, and if there is any spinoff novel to be made in this world, I’d totally love it to be about Artan and his dysfunctional family (and maybe Irsa, because WHY NOT). Who knows, there may even be djinn involved, OH MY GOD HOW AWESOME WOULD THAT BE?!

Character arcs are actually concluded. Even the secondary characters have conclusions, and I was actually quite glad with how Tariq’s story panned out. Not that that says much, considering there were storylines that made me cry at the end, and one particular scene that almost made me want to throw the book out the window. But I didn’t. I held out. Thank the spirits I held out.

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Also, the inside artwork for the book. It just makes me melt. I am SO glad I got this duology. I can’t even.

But yeah, let me stop gushing now.

5 out of 5 cookies!


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