ARC August – update week 4

So in the midst of the worst week ever, I was actually able to finish a book! Woohoo! It’s pretty crazy because I’ve basically spent all summer not reading much so it’s nice to know this is starting to pay off–signing up for the reading challenge and whatnot👍

I liked this one, You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan–two gay high school classmates find themselves at a gay bar for Pride Week in San Francisco and develop a friendship overnight. I could’ve used more closure for Mark’s storyline rather than just “hey I’ll figure things out” but I enjoyed Kate and Mark’s guide to self-discovery in becoming who they’re meant to be and shedding what they wish could be. Sometimes friendships just click and I liked what these two characters established within the short time the audience gets to spend with them.

I’ve already started on my next read, And I Darken by Kiersten White…it’s my book club pick for August and I’m seriously cutting it close. I’m also trying to decide what to read for September since I’ve had a decent month reading for August! I’m not sure if the challenge somehow helped or not, but I’ll be writing down some titles that I’ve been looking forward to reading as well as finishing a few I’ve started ☺️ [yes Mindy and Game of Thrones, I’m looking at you both–we should so be done by now haha!]

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – Review

The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath & the Dawn #1) | Available for Purchase: Amazon.com « Barnes & Noble « Book Depository
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Pages: 395 hardcover
Received Copy: Paperback, ARC

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

really liked this novel! Renee Ahdieh brought readers a fresh and diverse universe and a kickass female main character named Shahrzad in a novel inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. Shahrzad decides that in the wake of the death of best friend, Shiva, she would put herself in position to end the horror in her land where the King–Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan, is to find a girl, marry her, and then hangs her the following morning. As disturbing and tragic as that notion is, Shazi has made up her mind that she will stay alive for as long as she can and plots to kill the king for his inhumane manner in murdering his new bride. She must fight for her fellow females, her best friend’s honor, and her people.

I really loved how strong Shahrzad was portrayed and how smart she was as well. While her beauty was alluring, Shazi made sure she could play that to her best ability and capture Khalid’s attention and stay alive for as long as possible. Within this storyline, Khalid and Shahrzad start to lose their facades and start to form a relationship that takes them both by surprise and one that they fight so hard to ignore.

The world that Renee Ahdieh has created was very fun as the setting was old world Persia, probably not long after Aladdin’s tale (which is mentioned briefly in the book) and what a gorgeous scene that is set. A bit of magic, gorgeous colors to describe what materials the women dressed in and how the men were just as decorated in their royal garb. All of the food Shahrzad at as a newly appointed queen was deliciously detailed and had me drooling on those pages! Between Shazi and Khalid’s storylines we get word on what Shahrzad’s father is doing–trying to save her from this crazy mess she got herself into as Calipha of Khorasan, Tariq (Shahrzad’s boyfriend and brother of slain BFF Shiva) is also on a rescue mission for her and intends on causing a lot of trouble for Khalid. I can’t wait to see what happens in book two because the series ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so excited to see where things go!

  • I would say the two things that I wasn’t wild about in the novel were that I had hoped for more of a backstory between Shahrzad and best friend Shiva, there seemed to be only snippets of their time as friends along with more setting up Tariq’s friendship and love for Shazi as they grew up together. Definitely could’ve explored it more so I’d have been more invested in Shahrzad’s plan to kill Khalid.
  • I also found Despinia, Shazi’s handmaiden as queen, brash behavior and dialogue between Shazi and her off-putting. Despinia kept calling Shahrzad a brat every other conversation and sometimes they’d be on the same page and not irritating each other and the rest of the time Despinia just felt like an odd character. I wasn’t in love with her scenes because they didn’t complement each other.

These were the only points I wished were written a little differently but overall a really fun read and I can’t wait for book two!!

Also in adding The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) to my Amazon cart, I hadn’t realized that there’s novellas to go along with the duology:

Happy reading!!!

Another Day by David Levithan | Review



Another Day (Every Day #2) | Available for Purchase: Amazon.com « Barnes & Noble « Book Depository
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Pages: 300, hardcover
Received Copy: Advanced Reading Copy (e-Galley from NetGalley on behalf of Random House in return for an honest review)

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

The eagerly anticipated companion to David Levithan’s New York Times bestseller Every Day

In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan (co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all.

Another Day is David Levithan’s companion novel to Every Day which is…no words. Literally, David’s work is some of my favorite–I fly through his books because he writes genuine characters, the kind you fall in love with that stay with you forever. That being said I was so completely stoked to get approved to read Another Day because I cherished Every Day!! In this novel, we get to see the flip side of what was happening in Every Day, we get Rhiannon’s version of how she met A, how she coped with finding out about who/what A is, and what her future holds for her and boyfriend Justin. As a whole, this book is around 3.5 stars because I definitely had high hopes this was a sort of continuation–I’m a bit fickle with opposite points of view as a whole other book. Sometimes I feel like an author wants to put out another novel they know will do well. I honestly do not feel like it was the case with David. I’ve met him and heard him speak several times and I think he enjoys his craft, he takes pride in it, and I suppose he genuinely wanted to give Rhiannon’s side of the story. There was probably 75% of the novel that I already knew about, 25% was new information I didn’t know about Rhiannon’s character and how her home life was, what went on with Justin. If you haven’t read Every Day, which you really won’t have to–this could actually be a stand alone, but if you pick this book up first you’ll still understand pretty much everything David has already laid out for the audience in the first book.


They’re back…
Going back into this universe was so awesome! I LOVEDDDD EVERY DAY! A is a character that just….everything is so right about it (he/she)! A and Rhiannon have a very interesting relationship that is put to the test on so many levels and I love this. How much outside and inside appearance matter when finding that attraction in another–it’s pretty ingenious and fascinating because David gets it so right, he really does. Even though it’s Rhiannon’s turn to tell her side of the story, I still was here for A, LOL!!

Future audiences…
Honestly, there’s a ton of sexual situations (not graphic, just discussed) that probably could border on not being recommended but I wish this and Every Day were being used in classrooms across America. In a world where transgendered people are embracing themselves and the topic is now more widely discussed, this book could really and truly help generations of readers/people to understand that sometimes things aren’t just as simple and categorized as we’re taught. That’s a big problem and why there’s so much controversy. David does a really brilliant job on focusing how A is neither he nor she but rather ‘it’. A grew up experiencing so MUCH surviving in body after body and became this being that just accepted any and all. A always goes by merits in a person, their heart and actions, rather than one’s outward appearance and this could really teach us a lot. Not everyone is born fully accepted in their bodies and A is an original character that I think many could relate to and learn from.

Stand alone…
Like I stated before, even though this novel is a companion, you really can get away with just reading it and loving the story just as much. Obviously I will push Every Day on you because I love it the most but this novel had a bunch of scenes that felt like I re-read, so I would say this could be purchased on its own and you wouldn’t miss anything by not reading the first.

Duh…
IT’S MORE DAVID LEVITHAN!!! HE’S ALWAYS WORTH IT!


So, yeah…
A lot of what I read felt like I was just reading a bunch of the same storyline that I had just forgotten specific dialogue but a lot of Rhiannon’s interaction felt the same as it did in Every Day. For me, re-reading just from a different point of view is disappointing. I usually have a problem with books that have alternating POVs because of this specifically! When I heard Another Day was a book that was happening I was so excited! Too excited that I think I hadn’t read any synopsis until I finally decided to add it on Goodreads and skimmed reviews saying that it was in fact Rhiannon’s POV and not a real continuation of A’s story.

Leave the ex alone…
Rhiannon just was tirelessly in love with the idea that Justin was going to be the Justin who was at the beach the first day which opens the story. Throughout the novel, Rhiannon seems to give excuses for Justin’s behavior for pretty much everything. While I will admit, in high school, “love” and one’s emotions on this scale are at an all-time dramatic high. One cannot bare to be separated from XYZ, or One will die because ABC is going/doing/planning whatever, etc. I get that, I really do. Rhiannon just is tireless with her determination to not let go of Justin and it kinda gets old. Justin is lifeless: he wants to have sex, play video games, does not care about school, hates “drama”, hates his job, hates his dad…see where I’m going with this? Justin’s character is just mind-numbing for Rhiannon and throughout most of the book she just never sees that. **I also tend to lose my patience with individuals quickly and like to have my space so sometimes reading from Rhiannon’s point of view was a little much.

Ending…

I mean, THAT’S IT?!

.

Overall, I really did enjoy the book! David creates fantastic characters and I never finish a book without feeling some sort of heavy emotion: elation, sadness, pride, happiness, hope….his stories and characters are full of this and always a delight to read. If you haven’t read Every Day, seriously what are you waiting for, but if you haven’t you should definitely check this title out! (And even if you have already read Every Day you can/should still check it out :D)

xx Linz aka The Kid

Pointe by Brandy Colbert | Review

Pointe | Available for Purchase: Amazon « Barnes & Noble « Book Depository
Author: Brandy Colbert
Publisher: Speak – Penguin Books USA
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Pages: 333, paperback
Received Copy: Personal copy (Amazon had a really great deal for my tight-unemployed budget)

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Speak meets Black Swan in this stunningly dramatic debut novel

All that drama, plus pointe shoes? Yes, please: this is one book that’s bound to make a splash

Theo is better now.

She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abduct or. 

Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.

Right away I can tell you that I was super thrilled to find a book with a diverse set of characters, races and genders, different backgrounds, this is what I was really happy about when reading the story! When stories tend to give cookie cutter characters, it’s easy to read the monotony so this story, given it’s synopsis and characters, breaks this mold which is refreshing. Main character

Theo is now at the point (no pun intended) where she can grow into an elite ballet dancer if she works hard and puts forth the dedication to possibly take her hobby of ballet life and turn it into a career. While this is happening, mysterious Hosea from school who, is the go-to-guy for certain illegal substances, turns out to be a faux-prodigy piano player now filling in at Theo’s ballet school. This begins a spark between the two, friendship and ultimately a relationship that is hush hush but it gives something to occupy Theo’s brain when she isn’t worrying about ballet or the return of her best friend Donovan. Donovan returning stirs up Theo’s memories of who she used to be and who she used to be with which sets off a chain of events and semi self-destructive state for her.

Theo has a dark past that she’s usually kept hidden mainly because she didn’t know any better and towards the end she comes to terms with how wrong and vulnerable she was when it all happened. Saying something now could change her future and give her unwanted attention having her weigh her decisions daily. Brandy Colbert’s novel brings up some really tough issues that her characters go through: eating disorders, growing up, sexual assault, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug use, Stockholm Syndrome, just to name a few. I never felt like there was too much or too little that Colbert’s novel didn’t cover which was great to read.

YAY Diversity…
WOOHOO! So happy and excited the novel had a diverse cast of characters: black, latino, white…all present which was so refreshing to read! As reader, half the time I usually insert myself as the main character (well the female character anyway haha!) but in my head I don’t always assign a race, even if things are described, but this was still great to see in a YA novel.

Typical Teen Drama…
I liked the fact that there was a real rawness to the characters, they acted like typical teens. Drug use, promiscuous teens–it’s probably not even a drop in the big teen pond of what goes on these days, but certain themes that were a little more on the adult-side were present and I liked that the author didn’t beat around the bush, especially with the sexual aspect. Theo has a vulnerable side just like we all do and you saw that with her timidness towards Hosea in the beginning, hiding her dark secrets, trying to survive high school in one piece. Sometimes YA novels paint sex as this precious, put-up-on-a-pedestal thing, but not every teen experiences this. Some don’t wait. Some don’t want that special moment. Some are confident. Some can’t hold that responsibility, but that’s what makes it real.

Trigger-warning…
To go along with the teen drama, I liked that the issues Colbert explored with Theo’s character were tough and very touchy-subject. Eating disorders. Sexual assault. Sex. These topics can be no-no’s in the young adult world but there are ratios of teens that experience these sorts of traumas/instances which makes the story and characters even more relatable. I think the exposure was good and handled fairly well–Theo had a lot on her plate and at that age, most usually do.

 


Inner monologue…
Sometimes I just wanted to shake Theo and be like, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING THEO! You need serious help and need to get it now!, but that’s how you know a book is good–it can get inside you and you development a relationship with the character. In regards to her adult relationship that she had when she was barely a teen left a mark on her and it shows through this inner dialogue. It tended to drive me insane though because while being young and vulnerable sometimes I wanted to just be like, you need to realize how messed up this was and you need to examine this–no more secrets, spill it. Again, for the situation, it was probably pretty accurate, as a reader I just wanted to shake the character.

Final point[e]…
Throughout the whole book the reader has been built up on Donovan’s return and Theo realizing she needs to confess knowledge that will not only help Donovan but her in the process and it’s discovery felt rushed. I kept realizing how the pages remaining were less and less and thinking that there is so much there has left to be discussed and the audience gets a brief summary. This felt disappointing because I wanted to know a little  more about the case, what Donovan was doing, how Theo and her family were coping but Theo is thrown into a new setting and we get a few pages and the official ending. I just had hoped for more.

 

Really did enjoy this novel. The themed weren’t your typical YA and with the diverse characters I really liked it. Also to be cliche, I couldn’t stop thinking about popping in my Black Swan/Center Stage DVDs to finally get my ballet visual fix. (YES I HAVE SEEN CENTER STAGE AS A GUILTY PLEASURE, DEAL WITH IT!)


 

Ta ta Linz aka The Kid