Title: The Rose and The Dagger
(The Wrath and the Dawn Book 2)
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Published by: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date: April 26, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
[Spoilers for The Wrath and the Dawn, only keep reading if you haven’t read the first book.]
I’m in love with your story. From the stars, to the stars.
I missed all the wonderful descriptions of food, but I was filled with satisfaction by your magical storytelling and selfless, brave characters in this conclusion to the Wrath/Dawn series. When finished with the book, I just sat smiling for some time (before I turned my Kindle back on to reread certain scenes!). Though there was less mystery to unwind, you succeeded in bringing all our characters together in a dramatic fashion with well-timed twists in a story worth retelling on platformed beds with green silk cushions. Like Shahrzad, you griped and enticed me to the very end.
Khalid and Shahrzad’s worlds expand and collide in Rose/Dagger. Shazi is back with her family trying to unravel Khalid’s curse while being held prisoner by those she loves. We get to know Irsa, Shazi’s sister, who is steady and faithful (I love her and Khalid’s relationship!). Tariq’s character could’ve gone many ways as a lover scorned, but he, along with many other characters, chooses to put others before himself, and quickly realizes that rash decisions made out of anger and fear can be disastrous. This story does not conclude without heartbreak, but it draws these characters together in a more poignant conclusion.
“Sometimes, “ he gasped, “the family you choose …is stronger than blood.”
Author: Melissa Landers
Published by: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: February 2, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, Adventure
Summary from Goodreads:
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.
When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...
I was ready for a space odyssey. I’m a girl who grew up watching Star Trek and Star Wars with my family. When a book is released exploring a new frontier, I’m there. Starflight takes us from Earth to the outer realms of our planet. Some realms are for farmers, some for explorers, and some for vacations of the wealthy. That’s how Solara’s life gets intertwined with Doran’s. She’s desperate to get somewhere and he decides he can take on a servant (yes, the book begins with her being his servant…but she gets some payback). Solara and Doran end up traveling with some quirky characters and get themselves in a few pickles. The book was a little predictable, but still a fun, quick-read adventure.
Title: The Winner’s Kiss
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication date: March 29, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Summary from Goodreads:
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.
At least, that’s what he thinks.
In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.
But no one gets what they want just by wishing.
As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
[Spoilers for The Winner’s Curse & Crime, only keep reading if you haven’t read the rest of the series]
My anticipation was high for the final book in the Winner’s series. It only took me three days to read, and I was not disappointed! I love when I get to say that about a book, especially a series finale. It was the sort of story that made me want to keep reading and reading. Then when it was finished, I didn’t want it to end. I love how Marie Rutkoski molded and transformed her characters and storytelling through each book. While Winners Curse is mostly about star-crossed lovers, Crime and Kiss have Arin and Kestrel rediscovering themselves—through a forced separation, to strategic, dangerous deception, and finally war.
“Arin imagined how, if he could, he would kneel before the boy he had been. He’d cradle himself to his chest, let the child bury his wet face against his shoulder. Shh, Arin would tell him. You will be lonely, but you’ ll become strong. One day, you will have your revenge.”
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.