The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

18798983One Life to One Dawn.

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?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end. – Goodreads

The moment I hit 100% on my Kindle, I decided I hated this book.

Why? Because it was too damn short and left me with a serious book hangover that no other book is curing at the moment.

Despite featuring several things that I completely despise (IE, love triangle, instalove, a heroine who can’t seem to focus on her one job), I absolutely fell in love with this book and could not put it down.

To start, it was written beautifully. It flowed, it created pictures in my head, I could imagine each and every character with ease. The words themselves were beautiful. This is why I love reading. Hell, I love this book.

I fell in love with all of the characters, despite their flaws. I fell in love with Shazi, for being pigheaded, smartmouthed, honest and apparently totally stupid. I fell in love with Khalid for being this mysterious murderous man with a ton of secrets. And Despina. And Jalal. Damn it.

Basically Shazi’s best friend, became one of Khalid’s many murdered wives. To get revenge, Shazi volunteers to be a wife so she can kill him. I’ll admit—I was annoyed that she never even tried to take a stab at him, mostly because she fell in love with his tiger eyes within 10 seconds. She definitely thought about it a lot, though.

So, yeah. There were some parts I didn’t understand.

The book is a series, so not all of my questions were answered in this book. I can’t wait for book two to come out.

Despite its flaws, I rated this debut a 5/5 and added it to my favorites list while sobbing because I finished it way too damn fast.

L

 

Wishing For a Highlander by Jessi Gage

25189903Single-and-pregnant museum worker Melanie voices an idle wish while examining a Scottish artifact, that a Highland warrior would sweep her off her feet and help her forget her cheating ex. The last thing she expects is for her wish to be granted. Magically transported to the middle of a clan skirmish in the sixteenth-century Highlands, she comes face to face with her kilted fantasy man.

Tall, handsome, and heir to his uncle’s lairdship, Darcy Keith should be the most eligible bachelor in Ackergill. Instead, thanks to a prank played on him in his teenage years, he is known for being too large under his kilt to ever make a proper husband. “Big Darcy” runs his deceased father’s windmills and lives alone at his family manor, believing he will never marry.

But a strangely dressed woman he rescues from a clan skirmish makes him long for more. When the woman’s claims of coming to Ackergill by magic reach the laird’s ears, she is accused of witchcraft. Darcy determines to protect her any way he can, even if it means binding her to him forever. – Goodreads

Alright. Whether your love or hate highlander fiction (especially of the romantic variety), that description will either send you running for the hills or running to download a $3.99 Kindle edition. I was clearly in the latter camp.

I never realized that I would be a total fan of highlander fiction until a coworker urged me to read Outlander last year (oh my goodness—I just went to hyperlink this and I realized I read it a year from the date I finished THIS highlander novel. NICE!). Fell in love.

This one popped up on BookBub at a discount so I bought it. It’s been sitting in my Kindle library for a while. I was at a loss at what to read the other night so I said f***k it and started reading. Then I was hooked. It was instantly hilarious and the action started right away.

I’m gonna go ahead and add a ‘read more’ link because it was a ~very~ steamy book not meant for young adults/kids—mature audiences only.

Continue reading

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

2897258In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history.

The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family—all with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.

Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history. – Goodreads

Still obsessed with Michelle Moran’s work. I’m going to have to take a break for a while simply because the $10 Kindle price tags are killing my wallet.

The Heretic Queen is about Nefertari, who is Nefertiti’s niece and Mutny’s daughter (Mutny was the MC from Nefertiti). With no family left—her father and brothers died in a fire and her mother died soon after giving birth to Nefer—she grows up in the palace as a princess, playing with Asha and Ramesses like they’re her brothers.

Then she hits puberty and vaguely decides that she’s in love with Ramesses (my only qualm with the book—when the hell did that happen!?) and runs off to a temple to be a queen in training in an effort to win the Pharoah’s heart.

The only problem? Her Auntie Nefertiti dismissed the gods in favor of a single, new god and brought a massive plague to Egypt, which gave her the reputation of being a heretic. That reputation was passed on to Nefertari, who must prove that she will not be the same ruler as her aunt.

I loved the worldbuilding. I felt that I already had a clear picture of ancient Egypt from Nefertiti, and this sequel just built on it. The character development was also good—though I felt that Ramesses was lacking. I wasn’t exactly sure why Nefertari had such a huge crush on him—after all, all he did was chase her around and pull her hair in the first several chapters.

Overall, I really enjoyed this installment and can’t wait to pick up another 🙂 4/5 on Goodreads!

 

L

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

481446Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries. Ambitious, charismatic, and beautiful, Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh. It is hoped by all that her strong personality will temper the young Amunhotep’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods, overthrow the priests of Amun, and introduce a new sun god for all to worship.

From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people. Her charisma is matched only by her husband’s perceived generosity: Amunhotep showers his subjects with lofty promises. The love of the commoners will not be enough, however, if the royal couple is not able to conceive an heir, and as Nefertiti turns her attention to producing a son, she fails to see that the powerful priests, along with the military, are plotting against her husband’s rule. The only person wise enough to recognize the shift in political winds—and brave enough to tell the queen—is her younger sister, Mutnodjmet. –Goodreads

Michelle Moran is hands down my new favorite historical fiction author. In fact, add her to my favorite authors list, period.

Nefertiti is based in ancient Egypt and follows the reign of Pharaoh Nefertiti through the eyes her sister, Mutnodjmet. Nefertiti and Mutnodjmet are polar opposites—Nefertiti is beautiful, cunning, selfish, and the center of attention. Mutnodjmet is patient, introverted, and content to work in the quiet of her herb garden.

When Nefertiti is chosen to be the Queen of Egypt and Chief Wife of King Amunhotep, a young mentally unstable pharaoh, their family’s world is taken over with political games and deceit. Mutnodjmet has no thirst for power—she simply wants to marry the man she loves and settle down. Nefertiti, on the other hand, has other plans for her sister—she wants her to live in the palace with her…and love only her (in a non-creepy way).

The character development was fantastic. I truly felt for Mutny, who was stuck in a vortex of political back-and-forth and manipulation. Nefertiti is painted as a glorious ruler, but in reality, she is greedy and selfish. She doesn’t care if Mutny is happy—she cares only for herself. There was a good balance of Mutny giving in to her sister’s demands and of sticking up for herself. I love strong female main characters, and Mutny was strong in a different way. She wasn’t out to save Egypt—she wanted to save her family and create a peaceful life for herself.

The book was rather slow in the timeline sense, as it spans over the period of about 12 years. There were times where it wasn’t terribly apparent that much time had passed, but I believe this is because I was on my Kindle and couldn’t keep track of what year it was in each chapter. My only other complaint is when Mutny discovers she is pregnant for the first time—I literally had no idea she had even had sex. The brief few paragraphs detailing the time spent with her lover (I won’t reveal who it is—it’s not really a spoiler, but it’s a nice surprise) insinuate that they hang out, but nothing hints at actual babymakin’.

As far as the historical accuracy of the story, I’m honestly not sure. I’m not a huge expert in terms of Egyptian history—I really avoided it in school because photos of unwrapped mummies scared the hell out of me. Silly? Totally. But I did feel that the small details (and large ones) really painted a vivid picture of ancient Egypt for me. The only confusing parts were the incredibly long names, but hey, those were taken from a historical record and I can’t fault the author for that. (But seriously: Ankhesenamun is a very long name for a baby….”Ankhe….ahhh, whateveryournameis, get over here!”)

When looking at other review on Goodreads, it’s pretty apparent that people either love or hate this book. I’m firmly in the first camp, as I couldn’t put it down. I look forward to picking up another Moran book soon! 5/5 on Goodreads. 

L

 

Read It, Watched It: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

outlander_keyart_1200If I had to choose a favorite hobby besides reading, I would choose binge watching television. If I had to pick something besides that, I would pick watching shows/movies based on books and ripping them apart.

I’ve yet to watch something that beats the book. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to even get close to the book. There are some exceptions, such as Harry Potter, but even those could be a disappointment at times. I didn’t like The Hunger Games, Divergent, or Eragon. The only movies I like better than the books seem to be Nicholas Sparks books.

Seriously, he is gorgeous.

Seriously, he is gorgeous.

But damn, guys, damn. They really hit the nail on the head with the Outlander series.

I read Outlander last September, but haven’t had a chance to read the rest of the series yet. My husband was on a business trip this week and I thought hey, what the hell, I’m going to rent it from Hastings.

I loved it just as much as I loved the books. The actors they chose were perfect, I’m about 120% more in love with Jamie, and the production quality is fantastic.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I strongly recommend it! Actually—read the book first. Then watch it. You won’t regret it.

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At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

23209927After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind. To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war. Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants. The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love. – Goodreads

After reading that, I thought the book was going to be about a hunt for the Loch Ness monster. No joke, that’s what I thought I was in for. You see, I never read Water For Elephants, so I’m unfamiliar with Gruen’s writing. I didn’t realize I was in for a story of death, domestic violence, divorce, and effing colorblindness.

I don’t know how to sugarcoat it: I was bored.

What kept me reading until the end? It wasn’t completely boring. There was some intrigue. And Gruen’s writing is beautiful. She really brought the scenes and historical time setting to life—I could picture everything perfectly.

I did not like any of the main characters. In fact, I really had no idea why the hell they were searching for the Loch Ness monster anyway. Three rich kids have a quarter-life crisis and decide to find Nessie? Well, ok. They were all generally unlikeable characters, though I found the supporting characters much more likeable, so they kept me hanging on.

My other gripe was the war. It was very awkwardly tied in. Every once in a while it was mentioned in a very random, jarring way.

Anyway, I wasn’t terribly thrilled with this novel. I will still give Water for Elephants a chance, though. I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads.

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I received At The Water’s Edge through NetGalley and Spiegel & Grau in exchange for an honest review. 

Book Tour: The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman

The Reluctant MidwifeThe Great Depression has hit West Virginia hard. Men are out of work; women struggle to feed hungry children. Luckily, Nurse Becky Myers has returned to care for them. While she can handle most situations, Becky is still uneasy helping women deliver their babies. For these mothers-to-be, she relies on an experienced midwife, her dear friend Patience Murphy.

Though she is happy to be back in Hope River, time and experience have tempered Becky’s cheerfulness-as tragedy has destroyed the vibrant spirit of her former employer Dr Isaac Blum, who has accompanied her. Patience too has changed. Married and expecting a baby herself, she is relying on Becky to keep the mothers of Hope River safe.

But becoming a midwife and ushering precious new life into the world is not Becky’s only challenge. Her skills and courage will be tested when a calamitous forest fire blazes through a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. And she must find a way to bring Isaac back to life and rediscover the hope they both need to go on.

Full of humor and compassion, The Reluctant Midwife is a moving tribute to the power of optimism and love to overcome the most trying circumstances and times, and is sure to please fans of the poignant Call the Midwife series. – Goodreads

I’m always very, very hesitant when a book’s description boasts that fans of Whatever Book or This Show will love it—kind of like when a book’s description says a mixture of This Popular Book and That Popular Book. What can I say? I’m a skeptic.

I’m a huge Call the Midwife fan. (Hint: it’s on Netflix, folks!). So when I read the description for The Reluctant Midwife, I laughed. Just because it says ‘midwife’ in the title doesn’t mean it’s going to satisfy my need while I wait for the next season to show up on Netflix, I thought.

Well, kudos to whomever included that in the description, because it definitely hit the spot.

Disclaimer: I did not read the first book in the Hope River series. I wanted to see how this particular book fared by itself. I’m pleased to say that if you would rather just read this one, you don’t need to read the first to understand what is going on. That being said, I can definitely see how reading the first one would help the reader understand various characters’ backgrounds. I plan on going back and reading the first.

Speaking of characters, I loved them. Betsy is an incredibly real protagonist, who has very real, raw emotions while dealing with Dr. Blum (who, in the wake of his wife’s death, has become catatonic), her new impoverished situation, and figuring out who she wants to be. She experiences plenty of anger, gratitude, happiness, and frustration to make her a very relatable character.

Patience, the midwife, is incredibly sweet and loving, and she’s the primary reason I’ll be reading the first book (she’s the star of that one). Her husband is cool, her son is adorable…I loved them. Even minor characters, like the grocer or the woman on the outskirts of town who Becky delivers groceries to, are important and multi-dimensional.

I found the labor scenes simultaneously horrifying and page-turning. Whether the baby was blue, the mother was shrieking, or the midwives had to do something to keep mother or baby alive, I was transfixed. Naturally, I picture Becky as Jenny Lee aka Jessica Raine (but with an American accent, of course). The imagery is vivid—you can almost hear the grunts, moans, and pain of the women involved.

I did have one gripe: it was very long, with quite a few dull parts in between. Those bits are slow and hard to read. I suppose that’s how life is, though. It’s not always exciting. The book definitely read more like a diary than a novel. Rather than the entries being split up by date, they were broken into small subheads.

Overall, I loved this book and would definitely recommend it to those who are interested in historical fiction based in the 20’s and/or midwifery. I rated it a 4/5 on Goodreads. 

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I was given a free copy of The Reluctant Midwife by TLC Book Tours and William Morrow & Company in exchange for an honest review. The Reluctant Midwife is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Learn more about Patricia Harman on her website, Twitter, or Facebook. Check out the other TLC Book Tour Hosts for The Reluctant Midwife here