Waiting on Wednesday: The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

roseanddaggerTitle: The Rose & The Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016

From Goodreads:

The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as “a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance.”

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.

Why I am waiting:

I have to admit that I didn’t love The Wrath and the Dawn. I enjoyed it. But I didn’t love it. I had some problems with the pacing and the romance felt a bit forced in places, but those are minor complaints coming from me. In the end the book was a solid 3/5 stars on Goodreads (since I don’t give star ratings here on Weezled).

3 stars is risky territory for me these days. I gave Red Queen 3 stars and we let down by the disastrous sequel Glass Sword. But, I can’t let that get me down. I have to believe that sequels can be just as good as the first book in a series, or even better in some cases. Especially since most of the books I read come out around 3 stars. Meaning, I liked it fine, but there is room for improvement. Wow me with the sequel.

I think The Rose & The Dagger will do just that. Most of my issues with the first book happened in the first half of the book. By the end I was hooked. If the author rides that momentum this sequel could amazing.

So, what do you think? Are you looking anxiously awaiting the release of The Rose & The Dagger? Or are you on the edge of your seat over something else? Please share in the comments!



Stacking the Shelves #1


Stacking the shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews in which we talk about the books we’ve acquired (bought, received for review, borrowed from the library, etc.). Here’s what I’ve acquired in the past week:

A Gathering of Shadows FinalTitle: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: February 23rd, 2016

I have needed something, anything to get me out of my reading rut. I am not sure if A Gathering of Shadows will do that or not, but I am sure of one thing. I LOVED the first book in this series. The world was interesting, the characters felt real, and I was constantly on the edge of my seat. V.E. Schwab writes killer Fantasy, and I am sure that A Gathering of Shadows is no exception. Plus, just look at that cover! It’s gorgeous! I just couldn’t leave it on the shelf. I had to take it home.

lastdaysTitle: The Last Days of Magic
Author: Mark Tompkins
Genre: Fantasy / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: March 1st, 2016

This one was a bit of an impulse buy. I read a fabulous review of it over at The Bibliosanctum so, I added it to my TBR list. Then my husband and I were walking through Barnes and Noble and it caught my eye. I was waffling on whether or not I wanted to buy it. My husband was the deciding factor. You see, he prides himself on being able to predict whether a book is going to be good or bad based solely on the synopsis in the dust jacket. He swears this one is going to be brilliant. So, I bought it. Partly to see if he’s on a roll or not, but mostly because it sounds awesome. 

Have you read either of these? Or did you find a new gem at your local library or bookstore? Tell me what you are stacking your shelves with!


Destiny and Development: A Review of The Reluctant Sacrifice by Kerr-Ann Dempster

sacrificeTitle: The Reluctant Sacrifice
Author: Kerr-Ann Dempster
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: August 17th, 2015
Kindle Edition: 263 Pages
Source: Author

Centuries ago, sibling rivalry tore Aramith apart. As punishment, the losers were stripped of their immortal birthright and banished to Earth. There, they wasted away from old age and diseases. However, there is hope…

If a Shaw child, born on the 12th day of the 12th month offers her soul in a public sacrifice, then the exiles will be forgiven and welcomed home to Aramith.

Aubrey Shaw is that child, but dying for the exiles is not on her to-do list. Using her gift as a Jumper, Aubrey leaps between bodies to escape relentless shape-shifting hunters. Only, shedding her skin is not enough. Not when Joshua, her best-friend-turned-hunter, is hell-bent on dragging her to the altar.

Will Aubrey’s love for Joshua change his mind?

Or, will she have to trust the scarred stranger who shows up out of the blue cloaked in lies and secrets? Doing so means giving up on Joshua. But betting on Joshua’s love could do more than break her heart.

It could kill her. 

“I want to pour myself into you and watch you fill up with pleasure, until the need for air and food forces us apart. But that is not all I want. When I look at you, I see sunsets and laughter. I see a freaking lifetime of flesh memories that’ll make me forget the days before we met.”

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.  

I only meant to read a chapter or two before I fell asleep. It was 4:30 in the morning, after all, I should’ve been asleep. After every chapter, I told myself “Just one more”. Then 8:30 rolled around and there were no more chapters. I had consumed the entire novel in four hours. There was no avoiding it. The Reluctant Sacrifice sucked me and refused to let go.

I often find myself complaining about stagnant main characters, but this engaging and fast paced read featured a loveable main character. Watching Aubrey grow over the course of the book was a joy. She went from scared and running to standing her ground and facing her fears. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the antagonists. The conflict between Morgan and Aubrey is odd, drama-filled, and confusing. This is likely to be remedied in the sequel from Morgan’s perspective that is slated for release next year. I just wish there had been more depth to the character prior to her point of view debut.

The story was pretty straight forward, easy to follow, and character driven, all things I love. I wish the author had gone into more detail about the Aramithian culture. Since the vast majority of the book took place in human cities, the world the antagonists are fighting to save gets pushed aside. As a result the ending is rushed and many things are left unexplained.

In the end, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone that wants a quick and easy fantasy read with a satisfying romance. However, don’t pay too much attention to the world building, since it is sadly lacking.


Courts and Critiques: Two reviews of Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

courtoffivesTitle: Court of Fives (Court of Fives #1)
Author: Kate Elliott
Genre: Fantasy / Dystopian
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 18th, 2015
Kindle Edition: 448 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase

On the Fives court, everyone is equal.
And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

“There will come a moment in your life where you find yourself confronted with two choices, and both are bad ones. For me it was to stay in a place where I was choked and had nothing to look forward to and no way to prove my talents, or to leave everyone I knew and loved behind forever for a chance that might not work out. That is how the gods test us, by laying before us what seems to be a choice and yet is no choice at all. When we come to that fork in our path down which no road is clean, all we can control is what dignity and honor we take our inevitable step.”

Welcome to my very first group review! I am not sure how I convinced Delaney (of All of the Book Things) to read a dystopian novel for our first buddy-read, as she is very vocal about her dislike of all things dystopian. But, I lobbied for Court of Fives and she agreed. And guess what? I think she liked it more than I did. Let’s find out!

How was the plot?

Caitlin: I think this book suffers from being the first in a series as well as the author’s YA debut. Elliott started out telling the story of a girl stuck between two worlds. Jessamy, the daughter of a Patron war hero and his Efean paramour, struggles with issues of race, sex and class as she tries to find her place. That story could have been compelling. Unfortunately, the author included too much and the story lost its direction. Between the addition of political intrigue and an awkward romance, I found myself overwhelmed. I felt pulled in several directions, all while trying to get a grasp on a complex world that went largely unexplained until the end of the book.

Delaney:  I don’t think that I had as much of a problem with direction as Caitlin did while reading this one. As she mentioned, there is a lot going on in this story. There’s a bit of a political mess, a bit of a social mess, and a bit of an emotional mess. I did think, however, that the author did a good job of making it all mesh together well.  Even though our main character was experiencing a whirlwind of conflict, I could tell she had goals and that she was going to work to achieve them. I think I’m always a bit more lenient with first books in a series because I have faith that the author will tie everything together eventually. 😛

And the characters?

Caitlin: Jessamy is a character you want to root for. She’s a strong-willed female fighter. Who doesn’t love that? Alas, she is surrounded by a supporting cast of extremely underdeveloped personalities, which led to her appearing selfish. I am not sure if this was intentional or simply a side effect of being enveloped by immature characters, but the “revelations” she had about her siblings near the end of the book made it impossible to ignore. I hope to see her grow into someone who is less self-involved in the sequel. As for the auxiliary characters, there is only one place to move, and that is up.

Delaney:  I wasn’t fond of Jessamy as a character at first. I felt she came off as self centered and close minded. She was overly judgmental of everyone around her, including her own family and I was turned off by her ‘poor me’ mentality. Not everything revolved around you, Jessamy :P. I tried to keep in mind that the world she lives in is much different than mine (I have never had to experience caste systems or social prejudice), but…she still just came off as unappealing at first. I didn’t feel that the other characters were underdeveloped, more so that everyone in this society had been groomed to act a certain way. I am happy to report that by the end of the book my viewpoint of Jessamy had changed a bit. As a result of some of her experiences in the book she seems to start caring about people other than herself.

What about the ending?

Caitlin: The plot tug-of-war only got worse near the end of the book. Jessamy is already dealing with family issues, a diabolical General with fuzzy motives, a budding love affair, and an inappropriate desire to compete in public sporting events. Now we toss in odd mystical occurrences, dodgy conversations about religion, and the possibility of her new lover inheriting not one but two thrones. It is just too much.

There was so much potential in this book. I think if the author hadn’t tried to establish so much, so fast it might have been an entertaining read. As it stands I spent most of my time trying to puzzle everything out. With the world established (sort of), my hope is that the second book will not suffer from the same pitfalls as the first.

Delaney: So basically, all of the things that Caitlin listed. However, these were all of the reasons why this book won me over in the end.  One of my main complaints of dystopian novels is that they all follow the same road. I am easily bored and I hate when I can predict an outcome. This book (although honestly after reading I felt it was more of a dystopian/fantasy) kept me on my toes and played with my emotions. Was the author going to kill someone off? Is Jessamy destined to overthrow an evil general’s ownership of her father? I really don’t know what is coming next and I like that.

Caitlin recommends for: Readers who enjoyed The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski.

Delaney recommends for: Readers who like adventure, strong female character leads, and feeling stressed out at not knowing if characters are going to be killed 😛

Thanks for tuning in and don’t forget to check out All of the Book Things. Send Delaney some love!


Let’s Play Thursday: Monsterhearts by Joe Mcdaldno

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Thursday is tabletop night. It is sacred. Every week we do the exact same thing: tacos and banter followed by hours of plot breaking, character building fun. Now I am going to share that tradition with you.

Welcome to Let’s PlayThursday! Come geek out with me each week as I share some of my favorite games.

monsterTitle: Monsterhearts
Author: Joe Mcdaldno
Genre: Roleplaying Games / Urban Fantasy / Paranormal
Publisher: Buried Without Ceremony
Publication Date: 2012

From Goodreads:
A roleplaying game about the messy lives of teenage monsters.

Monsterhearts lets you and your friends create stories about sexy monsters, teenage angst, personal horror, and secret love triangles. When you play, you explore the terror and confusion that comes both with growing up and feeling like a monster.

Based on the Apocalypse World engine, this is a game with emergent story, messy relationships, a structured MC role, and a focus on hard choices.

It’s designed to evoke stories like True Blood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ginger Snaps or The Twilight Saga. If you like supernatural romances, or stories of monstrosity and personal horror, or if you just like watching sexy people ruin their lives, then you’ll love this game

“You play because you have a guilty attraction to supernatural beasts and harlequin love stories, but you harbour the secret presumption that you could write them way better yourself. Good. This is your opportunity to prove it.” ― Joe Mcdaldno, Monsterhearts

Guess what? You can write it better! Play your favorite fantasy character and watch the future you wanted for them unfold before your eyes. Or, write your own characters and create an even more fascinating world with your best friends.

I have played this game a couple of times, and it is amazing! I was the MC (or Game Master) both times and the fact that there was really no prep work on my part made the game feel lightweight and easy. Monsterhearts puts an emphasis on character development and player involvement that makes the MC’s job effortless and enjoyable. Add in the lightweight system and you are basically sitting around the table writing stories with your friends. What could possibly be better than that?

Character creation is also a breeze. Each player chooses a skin from the many available options and then customizes it according to the simple rules. After the players have completed their alter egos party ties are created so your new baby vamp can begin high school with friends (and enemies). Are you the queen bee? The outsider? Who do you sit next to in homeroom? Monsterhearts leaves nothing unexplored.

My only issue was my own fault. Our group was bigger than the game suggests. While you can absolutely accommodate more than four players (not including the MC) it can get a little hectic. The game moves at the pace of the players and mine talk a mile a minute. If I wasn’t accustomed to listening to six people at once I would have been lost. In the future, I would restrict my table to four. Lesson learned.

A succubus, witch, and a vampire are late for class. This sounds like the beginning of a horrible joke, and it could be. Monsterhearts has the potential to be the funniest game you have ever played or the most dramatic. Build your characters and watch them get into trouble with the principle, the police, or demonic forces they can’t comprehend. It can be Trueblood or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You choose. But don’t forget the most important question. Who will be the Homecoming Queen?