Reviews, YA Fantasy

Book Review: The Rose and The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn, #2)

GoodReads Summary:

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

My Review:

Veronica and I reviewed The Wrath and The Dawn together not too long ago, but she is currently busy with life so it will just me today. Though you will probably hear from her in June regarding the book.

Renee Ahdieh’s The Rose and The Dagger is a wondrous follow up to The Wrath and The Dawn. It’s full of magic, mystery, and love. It reads like a complex piece of music, words flowing around each other, bringing together an epic love story.

The novel starts right where the first left off. Shahrzad has left Khorasan to project her city, her people, her king. But she doesn’t know whom to trust or where to turn for help. She does know that the only thing to prevent this wrenched war is to break the curse. Khalid is love sick and tired, but ventures out to help rebuild his city. The relationships Shazi and Khalid have with others are strained and one wrong move could send them toppling over the edge. But if they can focus on their love for each other and the love for their families, they might find a way back to each other.

I spent this entire novel with my heart clenched. The love that Khalid and Shahrzad share is one for the ages- an epic love story that will live forever. You can see it drive these characters and their choices. And it was admirable to see others who were so unaccepting of their love, come to terms with it.

This novel was from mulitple POVs again, which always drives a story to make it stronger. I loved getting to know Irsa- Shahrzad‘s younger sister, seeing into the mind of Omar al-Sadiq- how he viewed his people, his wife, and his friends. The friends between the character’s were tested, while some broke, others held steadfast. And the twists throughout the novel were never seen until the curtain was drawn aside.

I absolutely fell in love with this retelling, with Shazi and Khalid’s love, with their friendships. And while I wish there was more, I am satisfied with the way the story  ended.

“Love was something that did much to change a person. It brought joy as it brought suffering, and in turn brought about those moments that defined one’s character.” -Omar al-Sadiq

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Reviews, YA Fantasy

Book Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

Unhooked

GoodReads Summary:

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

My Review:

Listen to Lost Boy by Ruth B while you read this. I couldn’t get it out of my head while I read Unhooked.

Recently I have been in a pirate mood. I finished The Girl From Everywhere and Blackhearts. Let me tell you, when searching for good YA pirate books, there aren’t many out there… unless you want Fabio on the cover and then that is NOT a YA book. So in my searchings, I came across Unhooked. I am not usually one for Peter Pan and Neverland stories, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try.

I finished Unhooked in 24 hours.

Lisa Maxwell really draws you into the story through her narrative. And what’s great, there is more than one narrative being told.

Unhooked is not your traditional Peter Pan/ Captain Hook story. It literally unhooks the classic stories you’ve heard before and spins them on their head. Maxwell shows that not all “heroes” are good and that not all “villains” are bad. It is a deeper look at the decisions a person makes and how those decisions change the course of a person’s life. The simple act of turning off a light, or signing a paper.

“Since being brought to this world, I’ve come to understand that everything I’ve ever learned about good and evil, about choices we make and the choices we must live with, have been nothing more than convenient fictions invented by those who have never been confronted by the darkness and actually forced to choose.”

At the beginning, the relationships between Gwen, the Captain, and Pan are very convoluted. You don’t know who is telling the truth and who is lying. And as the story unfolds, truths become complicated, lies destroy. The tension between Gwen and the Captain is swoon worthy. I couldn’t get enough of him.

This is what I pictured every time.

When I started reading, about 100 pages in, I tweeted that I was sure my heart was going to break before the story ended, and I was right. There is a twist I didn’t see coming and it changes everything.

If you like retellings that go more in depth with the character development, that give characters their own backgrounds and their own internal struggles, definitely read Unhooked. If you like pirate stories, with heroes, villains, magic, and romance, also read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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