Thursday, May 28, 2015

Review: The Wrath And The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh


The Wrath And The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Rating: 4.5 stars
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "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."

Review: Talk about a hook!  That premise is killer.  (Ha, pun.)  I knew as soon as I read that summary that I wanted to read this book, regardless of what the reviews said.  (The reviews are actually overwhelmingly positive, so I needn't have bothered to not care about them.)  I'm so glad I did read this book, because it was exactly as it claimed to be: sumptuous and epic.

One of my favorite aspects of this story is the setting.  Khorasan is clearly very inspired by the Middle East.  The architecture, the clothing, the bazaars, the weapons, the food... all of it hearkens to a very Aladdin-esque environment.  We, the readers, are completely transported to this land, and I loved being there.

Khalid and Shahrzad are wonderfully compelling characters as well.  It's easy to see that they are both complex, troubled souls, and watching them slowly, and sometimes even unwillingly unravel to the other person was lovely.  I wish the secondary characters had been more developed, but Khalid and Shahrzad's story was so consuming that this complaint is minor.  

You know, I'm kind of surprised I liked this book so much, considering how much of the book's focus was on the romance.  That is usually a big turn-off for me, but I dug this one.  Also, there is a love triangle present in this book, which is also a HUGE turn-off for me in most cases.  And while I wouldn't say I liked the love triangle, it also wasn't as irritating as those tend to be in other books.  I think the reason why I was okay with all the romance shenanigans in this book was because the romance itself also laced with danger, political intrigue, tantalizing secrets, and a whole lot of suspense as every dawn approached.  I also appreciated that Shahrzad was not a limp noodle in regards to her feelings.  She was a very emotionally aware character.  She worked through her feelings and made conscious decisions, and then stuck to those decisions.  I admire a girl with that kind of deliberation.

The weakest part of the story was the magic system.  There was almost no explanation to any of it.  I'm still not really sure how it works, or who can perform such acts, or why.  That was frustrating, since it plays a big role in the book's climax.  I have a feeling that there will be a lot more magic in the following books, and I just hope that the magic system is more fleshed out in the future.  I'm curious about it, but am currently too much in the dark.

On the whole, I was very impressed with this book.  I loved reading it, loved spending time in Khorasan with Khalid and Shahrzad, and I cannot wait to continue the saga.  

Review in a GIF:
aladdin animated GIF

Bottom Line: A sumptuous and epic love story, rife with tension and suspense and a lot of intrigue that will completely consume you.  Highly recommended!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book-to-Film: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes & Other Lessons From The Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes- Lessons from the Crematory

From Book Riot:

Paramount Television and Anonymous Content are developing a television series based on the memoir Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. Evan Dunsky, who previously worked on Nurse Jackie, has been selected to be the showrunner and writer. Doughty will be a consulting producer on the project. In the book, Doughty talks about her life as a mortician within an alternative funeral practice and talks about how people handle death.

I read this book last year, and mostly loved it.  I have no idea how this memoir is going to be adapted to television, though.  I can easily see it as a documentary, though I'm not sure it would fit in any other genre.  It has the potential to be really interesting, I think, though I'm not totally convinced I want to watch it.  Some things just go down better when they're read instead of watched.  This is one of them.  I found the whole book to be a fascinating read; reading the facts about the cremation process was certainly eye-opening and gave me a lot of fodder for conversation, though I would be decidedly less interested in watching someone be cremated on television.  You know what I mean?

What's your position?  Have you read this book?  Are you interested in the subject matter?  Would you be interested in this adaptation?  Can you think of how this memoir could be adapted to any other genre besides a documentary??

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ten Books I Will Have In My Beach Bag This Summer

I'm participating in today's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's prompt is:

Ten Books I Will Have In My Beach Bag This Summer

I have never been totally clear on what a "beach read" is.  I love the beach, don't get me wrong.  But, to me, books are either good or not, regardless of the season, or whether or not a large body of water is near me.  I think for most people it has something to do with being more on the lighter side, and probably fiction?  Yes?  I'll go with that.  And with that extremely loose definition, here are my summer beach read recommendations:

I want to read this book so badly, no beach could distract me from its pages.

It's Maas.  Maas and the beach are two of my favorite things, so boom.  Beach read.

With all the hype around this one, it's sure to either make or break your beach day.

Cass has definitely perfected light, fluffy fiction.  So there you go.

Spring and summer are times to organize and clean for me, so this book on how to live with kids in a functional and aesthetically appealing way is right up my summer alley.

This book feels like it will give me wanderlust.  I've always wanted to go to India.  And since summertime often equals travel, it's a good match.

I loved the Phantom of the Opera retelling Of Metal And Wishes, and have been looking forward to its sequel for months!  This August it will finally be here.  So you know what I'll be doing the first week of August.

What if you aren't the chosen one?  This book sounds witty, funny, and absolutely delightful.  Kind of like Ron Weasely, and all the other non-chosen-ones out there.

If excitement and adventure are your beachy cup of tea, look no further.  This one sounds dazzling.

This one technically doesn't come out until September 1st, but that's still basically summer, right?  Hopefully I'll snag an ARC and be reading this earlier anyway (PLEASE, BLOOMSBURY, I'LL DO ANYTHING) so its spot on my list is merited.

What's on your beach read list?  Also, who here will actually be spending time at the beach this summer??

Monday, May 25, 2015

Weekly Words: Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson

Friday, May 22, 2015

Feature Friday: Magical Bookshops

I really wish these bookshops were actually, literally magical.  Alas, it's just a figure of speech.  Still, I'd be pretty dang happy to spend an afternoon in any of these:

From Buzz Feed:

1. Barter Books, Northumberland

Flickr: drgillybean Creative Commons
Flickr: itmpa Creative Commons
Flickr: 53264755@N00 Creative Commons
Based in a former Victorian train station, Barter Books is breathtaking. Comfy sofas, a model railway and a children’s room too. Oh! And it’s the home of the original Keep Calm and Carry On poster.

2. The Bookshop, Wigtown, Scotland

The Bookshop, Wigtown, Scotland
Flickr: felibrilu / Via Creative Commons
You can tell by the destroyed Kindle on the wall (left) that this bookshop doesn’t mess around. Situated in Scotland’s National Book Town, The Bookshop stocks about 100,000 titles, so the odds of finding something good to read are high.
Octavia’s Bookshop won the 2013 Best Independent Children’s Bookshop award, and it’s not hard to see why. Utterly enchanting, with regular readings by authors, and Moomin fairies in the window!
Secondhand and antiquarian books, in a picturesque setting. And on Saturdays, there’s a cake sale. So charming!

5. Madhatter Bookshop, Oxfordshire

Madhatter Bookshop, Oxfordshire
Flickr: jovriens / Via Creative Commons
This quirky shop sells both books and hats, and is utterly delightful. They’re committed to hosting literary events, as well as “book clubs, literary study groups, break-into-books groups and creative engagement with GCSE and A level groups.”
6. Scrivener’s Books, Buxton
Flickr: abrinsky Creative Commons
@ceceliavincent on Instagram
With five floors of books, this is a bibliophile’s dream. And what’s more, there are cosy sofas, and tea-making facilities. Wonderful.
7. Honesty Bookshop at Hay Castle, Hay-on-Wye
Flickr: silversprite / Via Creative Commons
A tradition since the 1960’s, the Honesty Bookshop has no till. All books are £1 or less, and the money is left in a collection box. Amazing.

8. Beware of the Leopard Books, Bristol

Beware of the Leopard Books, Bristol
Flickr: hmmm_tea / Via Creative Commons
Named for a joke from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this second-hand bookshop has a big selection. Perfect for rummaging.

9. Wild and Homeless Books, Dorset

@nmp31 on Instagram
A bookshop named for a Virginia Woolf quote? How delightful. The cutest thing? Customers can leave reviews on their typewriter.
OMG this bookshop has an open fire. And a cafe. And yes, lots and lots of books.
Often described as a TARDIS, it’s easy to get swept up in Armchair Books. By the way, if you’re a book lover in Edinburgh, try and get a ticket to Electric Bookshop to chat about the future of books.