Review: The Rose & the Dagger

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The Rose & the Dagger by: Renee Ahdieh

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Buddy read with Waukesha, Luke, and Adita! Once their reviews have been posted I’ll add the links.

For those of you that followed me back in November probably know that I did not enjoy The Wrath and the Dawn. You’re probably wondering why I bothered to continue this series. Part of it was curiosity. It was curiosity that got me to finish all the short stories. After I finished The Mirror in the Maze I was curious to see how the series ended. It came in my library I put it on hold. While I did enjoy this more than the first book I can’t say I’m happy with how this series ended. 

The book begins with a prologue in which a little girl and her brother are trying to restore their house. A storm blew their house over. Unfortunately the storm killed their mother. While the girl and her brother start clearing the area a boy appears in their door. The girl realizes that this boy is the prince. The prince mentions that he would like to help the girl and boy with their home. The brother agrees and they continue to work.

After they have finished most of the work the brother asks for the princes name. The prince says that his name is Khalid. The brother introduces himself. And the girl turns out to be Shiva.

The plot in this book was much better than the first! There was a large focus on the war and some politics. The magic was interesting to read about as were the new characters. There wasn’t that much focus on Shazi and Khalid’s relationship. I actually found Khalid to be much smarter in this book. He started acting like a King. I enjoyed reading about Shazi’s sister Irsa! She was so refreshing to all the strong and confident females you read about. And I absolutely loved her romance! Rahim was so sweet! All of the twists and reveals were very surprisingly. Especially concerning Despina. There was this really sweet scene were Shiva comes in! 

Shazi and Tariq were the same. Which is to say annoying. I actually noticed an error while reading this book. In the beginning of the book it is mentioned that Shiva’s mother died in the storm. Yet when Shazi and Tariq are talking about Shiva, it’s mentioned that his aunt (Shiva’s mother) committed suicide. Please do correct me if I’m wrong. The curse was pushed aside in this book. You’d think with it being deal in the first book it’s reduced to nothing in this book. The magic wasn’t really explained.

I also wished that Irsa and Rahim were the main characters as I would’ve preferred to read about their romance. You are given constant reminders in this about how strong the women are. In the form of a stupid man touching her. And said women defending herself. How was it that most of the men Shazi ran into were pervs? I am not at all happy with how Irsa and Rahim’s romance was dealt with. While the epilogue was somewhat sweet it left a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m really not happy with a certain part of the ending.

Overall this was not a good conclusion in my eyes. But I still recommend it to fans of forbidden romance and fairy tale retellings.  

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Review: The Mirror and the Maze

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The Mirror and the Maze by: Renee Ahdieh

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

The city of Rey is burning. With smoke billowing, fires blazing and his people fleeing, Khalid races back to defend his city, and protect his queen. But Khalid is too late to do either. He and his men arrive to find the city in ruins, nothing but a maze of destruction, and Shahrzad is gone. But who could have wrought such devastation? Khalid fears he may already know the answer, the price of choosing love over the people of Rey all too evident.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Initially I had no intention of reading The Mirror and the Maze. But once I saw that it was available on the publishers website I decided ‘Why not’. I am surprised to say that I actually liked it!

The story begins right after The Wrath and the Dawn with Khalid returning home. Much to Khalid and his men’s surprise they see smoke coming from their home. They get their horses to move faster and eventually make it. Khalid is in shock at the destruction. He’s never seen so much destruction.

Once they make it Khalid spots Jalal and Despina but doesn’t see Shazi anywhere. He hopes off his horse and Jalal hugs him happy to him. Khalid then asks where Shazi is. Jalal replies that Shazi is safe. Khalid losing his temper asks again. Jalal explains that he sent Shazi with Tariq. Knowing that Tariq would protect Shazi. Khalid blows and asks why he did that and Jalal tells Khalid to look around him and see the destruction. Khalid then realizes that he doesn’t have a choice and will have to trust Tariq.

I liked this more than The Moth and the Flame. I guess it’s because it was more interesting and I was worried about their lives. But I still didn’t find this to be 4 star worthy. It was just far too short. Needless to say that I did like it and will be reading The Rose and the Dagger. 

Overall this was a good short story! I recommend it to those who want to know what happens before reading the second book. And to fans of the series.   

Review: Once Upon a Dream

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Once Upon a Dream by: Liz Braswell

My Rating: 1 of 5 Stars

What if the sleeping beauty never woke up? Once Upon a Dreammarks the second book in a new YA line that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways.

It should be simple–a dragon defeated, a slumbering maiden, a prince poised to wake her. But when said prince falls asleep as soon as his lips meet the princess’s, it is clear that this fairy tale is far from over.

With a desperate fairy’s last curse infiltrating her mind, Princess Aurora will have to navigate a dangerous and magical landscape deep in the depths of her dreams. Soon she stumbles upon Phillip, a charming prince eager to join her quest. But with Maleficent’s agents following her every move, Aurora struggles to discover who her true allies are, and moreover, who she truly is. Time is running out. Will the sleeping beauty be able to wake herself up?

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Disney Hyperion and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

DNF

I have read one of the authors books The Nine Lives of Chloe King. This was before I started reviewing and blogging. I ended up DNFing that book. You can imagine my surprise when I found that the author was writing dark fairy tale retellings for Disney. I saw this book on Netgalley and read the synopsis. It sounded interesting so I requested it. But unfortunately I did not enjoy it.

The book begins with a prologue in Phillips point of view. He has just defeated Maleficent. He has no idea where the dragon’s body is but assumes that someone must have double checked for it. He makes his way to Aurora’s tower. He begins to explain that for the most part he has no idea what’s happened. Phillip was in a cell when the 3 fairies saved him. They told him to kill the dragon and wake up Aurora. He’s reached the tower and kisses Aurora. Then he starts to get dizzy and realizes that no one checked on the body.

A few years before Aurora’s birth her parents got married. Together they ruled the land. But they were greedy and terrible people. They spent a significant time of their ruling eliminating good witches and fairies.

Once Aurora was born they invited everyone who was evil and the whole kingdom. When the guests started arriving the Queen immediately requested Aurora’s presents. The three evil fairies arrive. Two of them give Aurora a gift (singing and a good heart) and third fairy promises the King and Queen an army of monsters. They also mention that once Aurora turns 16 they would take her. Maleficent arrives and is shocked that the King and Queen have made a deal with the evil fairies. Maleficent’s a good fairy. Before she leaves she promises to save Aurora.

For the next 16 years the King and Queen neglect Aurora. They instead chose to focus on conquering their fellow neighbors. At this point the King and Queen have messed up epically. Their land is dying  and so are their people. When the fairies arrive to take Aurora they demand their help. The fairies deny helping them mentioning it was the King and Queen’s fault for making a deal with them. Before Aurora is taken away Maleficent arrives. She now has enough power to save Aurora and the land. She saves the people and becomes queen.

I’m starting to realize that I don’t enjoy fairy tale retelling’s. I was amazed at the amount of changes that were done from the Disney movie. I couldn’t imagine the King and Queen being awful and the fairies being evil. I loved those fairies! I also couldn’t imagine Maleficent being ‘good’.

Aside from that I really didn’t like the writing style. It felt choppy and misplaced. And there were more words than necessary to describe something. When I read the authors previous book it was written in first person. Whereas this book is written in third person. I think had this book been written in first person it would’ve sounded better. If it had just been because it was different I would’ve written it of as ‘It’s not you but me’. But that’s not the case.

Overall I did not enjoy this book. But I still recommend it. It would definitely be interesting to read about Maleficent being a Queen and that for being a ‘good’ fairy she still puts the sleeping curse. And how with all these changes Aurora meets Phillip. I would recommend it to fans of dark fairy tale retelling’s and fans of the author.

Review: The Moth and the Flame

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The Moth and the Flame by: Renee Ahdieh

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

It started as playful, if barbed, banter before rising to a fateful wager with a most notorious rake—the Captain of the Guard, Jalal al-Khoury—who may have finally met his match in a lovely, if haughty, handmaiden, Despina. But she, too, seems to have met her match in the handsome Jalal. What begins as a tempestuous battle of will and wit in short order becomes a passionate affair spurred on by tragedy of the worst kind.

Beware spoilers ahead!

When I had heard about this short story I was excited. I liked Despina and Jalah when I read The Wrath and the Dawn. I wanted to know when they first started interacting with each other. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this story!

The book begins in Despina’s point of view. She was just been promoted to Handmaiden. She’s to be Ava’s handmaiden. Despina has noticed that Ava doesn’t speak a lot. More often than not she’s day dreaming. She hasn’t interacted with Despina. Ava has her own set of servants and she keeps close to them.

Despina is arranging some of Ava’s clothes with the help of another maid. The two talk while they sort the clothes. When Despina picks up a handful of clothes, she hears a tear. She sets the clothes down and begins to inspect the skirt. Needing more light she takes the skirt outside to inspect it.

While looking at the tear she hears someone approaching. It turns out to be Jalah. This is Despina’s first time talking with the Captain of the Royal Guard. But despite this she knows of his reputation. Jalah is known for flirting with tons of girls. His reputation makes Despina  uncomfortable and she tries to ignore. They have an awkward conversation. Jalah tries to hard to attempt to flirt with Despina. And Despina brushes him off.

I was surprised that I actually enjoyed this! I got some laughs while reading Despina and Jalah’s interactions. It was nice to find out a little more about Ava. And man did I really feel for Ava. I’m starting to wonder whether Ava actually had depression. I liked reading about the interaction that Despina and Ava had!

Much to my surprise the writing style felt too wordy. There were a bunch of needless descriptions. I found this surprising considering that I never felt this way when I read The Wrath and the Dawn. It was almost as if the author did it to add more words.

While the interaction between Jalah and Despina was funny, I never really felt the tension. Pretty early on in the short story they started having a secret relationship. This might be because it was so short. This book also shows you more ways on how stupid Khalid was when he was married to Ava. I’m surprised that he never really interacted with her and it was so obvious that she was hurting. This isn’t a flaw I’m just pointing it out. Nonetheless this was still fun to read!

Overall this was a good book. I recommend it to fans of the series.

Review: The Crown and the Arrow

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The Crown and the Arrow by: Renee Ahdieh

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

Seventy-one days and seventy-one nights had come and gone since Khalid began killing his brides. This dawn, Khalid would mark the loss of the seventy-second girl, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran. Khalid didn’t know how many more of these dawns he could take. And there was something about this latest girl that piqued his interest. Not only had she volunteered to marry him, but at their wedding ceremony, she had seemed not the least bit afraid. In fact, what he had seen in her eyes was nothing short of pure hatred. She was about to lose her life. Why wasn’t she afraid? Why did she hate him so? He had never before gone to his wife’s chambers before her death at dawn. Tonight would be different.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Despite the fact that I didn’t enjoy The Wrath and the Dawn I wanted to read this. Now when I first read the synopsis I thought that this would be about Khalid and Shiva. I don’t know why I thought this but I did. So when I saw it was free on Kindle and iBooks I went for it. When I started reading it I realized that this book is about Khalid meeting Shazi. Not Shiva. Looking back at it now it’s pretty funny. But at the time I was so disappointed.

The book begins with Khalid yet again getting married and lamenting over the fact that he had to kill another girl. Although he is happy that he’s nearly done and then he can be free as well as his kingdom safe. He doesn’t really care that they see him as a monster. He understands why they despise him but he’s doing what’s best for them.

His Uncle the General comes to get him and they walk over to his soon to be wife. The two converse and Khalid notices that his Uncle is hiding something. Khalid asks his Uncle to tell him what is wrong and he informs Khalid that his new bride has volunteered.

Khalid is baffled because why would anyone want to marry the him even though it is well known that he kills all of his brides. He tries to tell himself to not think about it. But that all changes when he meets her. The girl looks at Khalid with challenge and pure hatred in her eyes. Khalid knows that he didn’t kill anyone from her family. He made sure to tell his cousin Jalal not to choose two girls from the same family.

Khalid notices that Despina the girl’s to be handmaiden is very curious. He decides to have her find out his new brides motives. Curiosity gets the best of him and he ultimately decides to visit this girl tonight to understand her reasons for volunteering.

I didn’t really enjoy this story. I found that it was completely useless and you don’t really find out anything new about the series. It was interesting to read in Khalid’s point of view. As it would turn out Khalid is very melodramatic. The author did a good job writing his point of view. Despite the fact that I didn’t enjoy this I will be reading the other short story about Despina and Jalal.

Overall this was a useless short story. I recommend it to anyone looking for something very short to read (it’s 8 pages).

Review: The Forbidden Wish

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The Forbidden Wish by: Jessica Khoury

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of the Aladdin story from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF

I had heard about this book last month. A lot of my friends were reading it and enjoying it. I didn’t really get the hype. I didn’t see the appeal about the jinni being a female. Maybe it was because I couldn’t see it working out in my head or that I enjoyed the Disney Aladdin movie too much. But nonetheless curiosity got the best of my and I read the sample from iBooks. I was hoping to understand the hype and maybe read the whole book. Unfortunately this did not happen.

The book begins with Zahra waiting in her lamp. Like she has for the past 500 years. Much to her surprise a boy comes at where she is located. She cannot really see the boy to well because she is pretty deep in her lamp. After the boy takes in his surroundings he comes across her lamp. She realizes that this boy has been looking for her.

She comes out of her lamp only for the both of them to realize that the place where she’s in is about to collapse. They run and barely manage to escape with their lives. Once they are out safely the boy reveals himself to be Aladdin.

Aladdin explains that he acquired a ring that was able to track her down. After the two converse he finds out as well as the readers that Zahra is the one jinni that everyone fears. She made friends with the Queen and they were in the process of a treaty between the humans and jinni’s. Something went wrong and Zahra betrayed the Queen. Now the jinni’s aren’t allowed to walk among humans.

Despite this Aladdin still wants his wishes. He takes Zahra to his home and she finds out that he stole the ring from a Prince. Aladdin had heard it would help him in his quest and he stole it. Aladdin then reveals that he wants to wish for Zahra to kill said Prince.

When I went and read the reviews for this book a lot of people said that the author has an amazing writing style. Of course I expected to be floored by the writing. I was not impressed. I found that while the author started explaining Zahra’s surroundings the descriptions didn’t flow well. Instead of being engaged I was bored.

I was also really annoyed with the amount of times the word ‘thousand’ was mentioned. For example if Aladdin said something offending to Zahra she would think about how a ‘thousand’ responses were on the tip of her tongue. It was ridiculously repetitive. I didn’t like Aladdin or Zahra. Even though it was early in the book I couldn’t see them as love interests. I simply couldn’t wrap my head around it. I found myself preferring the movie. It seems as though Retellings’ are not for me.

When the action started that was when it started to get interesting. And I liked how while you do get 3 wishes there are consequences to the wishes. And the action scenes were written well. I also enjoyed the mini flashback to Zahra and the Queen. These likes did not save the book for me.

Overall this book was not meant for me. I definitely prefer the movie. But I still recommend it to those who would like a retelling of Aladdin and enjoy retellings.

Review: Flunked

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Flunked by: Jen Calonita

My Rating: 1 of 5 Stars

Would you send a villain to do a hero’s job? An exciting new twisted fairy tale series from award-winning author Jen Calonita.

Full of regret, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, Flora, has founded the Fairy Tale Reform School with the mission of turning the wicked and criminally mischievous into upstanding members of Enchantasia.

Impish, sassy 12-year-old Gilly has a history of petty theft and she’s not too sorry about it. When she lifts a hair clip, she gets tossed in reform school-for at least three months. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there’s more to this school than its sweet mission. There’s a battle brewing and she starts to wonder: can a villain really change?

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF

This book was recommended to me by my GR friend Irena! I was really looking forward to reading this book! I loved how the synopsis sounded and I am always on the hunt for a good fairytale retelling. Unfortunately I really did not like this book.

The book begins with an announcement about how Cinderella’s stepmother founded the school and it’s high success rates. You are then taken to Gilly who is going to rob some blonde girls hair pin.

Gilly’s been following the blonde girl and her friends for awhile now. As far as she’s concerned they’re all stupid because they like fashion. Once the girls make their way into a store Gilly sees this as her chance.

Gilly and the girls enter the store. She pretends to be looking at some scarfs so that the owner doesn’t find her suspicious. She then makes her way over to the blonde girl and talks to her for a bit. Then tricks her into leaving her hair pin on the table. The girl forgets all about her hair pin allowing Gilly to steal it without getting caught.

I really did not like the writing style or Gilly! I found the writing style to be very childish. Gilly was annoying and thought that she was all that. She was very rude when judging those girls. Thus I dropped this book.

Overall this was not a good book. I do not recommend it.