What’s new this month

I’m so excited for this month’s books! I tend to gravitate towards contemporary stories in the summer and I will have plenty to choose from:

303128605/2 – Always & Forever, Lara Jean – by Jenny Han

Lara Jean is a senior now, and she has her wonderful boyfriend Peter and her dad is getting remarried–which means Margot is coming home for the summer! But it’s Lara Jean’s turn to make the tough decisions Margot faced: where to go to college, and what that means for her relationship with Peter. I love these sister relationships and I’m ready for one more story with Lara Jean! These are fun, light-hearted summer reads with gorgeous covers.

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

278302875/9 – It Started with Goodbye – by Christina June

This debut’s gorgeous cover grabbed me months ago and I’m so excited to dive into this modern-day Cinderella retelling. Tatum Elsea is stuck in her grandmother’s house for the summer after being falsely accused of a crime. Between community service and her secret graphic arts job she’s keeping busy–and then she finds out she isn’t the only one in the house with secrets. I’m so intrigued by the hint of romance and what her “step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother” is going to do for her!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


314492275/9 – Ramona Blue – by Julie Murphy

This book has received a lot of attention due to a somewhat confusing synopsis. Ramona Blue is described as one of only two out lesbians in her small town. The town is recovering from Hurricane Katrina, her younger sister is pregnant, and Ramona picks up a lot of responsibilities around the house thanks to her parents’ issues. Then her childhood best friend Freddie returns, and they start swimming together–and then Ramona might have feelings for him. The description has changed a few times, but I think the intent is for a girl who thought she was a lesbian to discover she is bisexual, which can be polarizing.

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

233080875/16 – Flame in the Mist – by Renee Ahdieh

My fantasy pick for this month! Pitched as a Mulan-inspired story of Mariko, a girl pledged in an arranged marriage for her family, only to be attacked on her way to her betrothed. Disguised as a boy, she infiltrates the ranks of the Black Clan hired to assassinate her, and uncovers a lengthy history secrets and murders. I have not had a girl-impersonating-a-boy story in so long, and I’m so curious how this one will go and what Mariko will do to set herself free!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

300389065/16 – The Names They Gave Us – by Emery Lord

Emery Lord, my feminist giver of life advice, finally has a new book out! Lucy has the rug pulled out from under her this summer. Her mother’s cancer reappears, her boyfriend wants to take a break, and instead of working at the Christian Bible camp she is assigned to a camp for “troubled” kids. She attempts to be positive about all these changes, but she can’t fully stifle her questions and doubts; and when family secrets come to light she will have to decide how to handle her relationships and her future. Her books always make me laugh and cry and I’m sure this will be no different!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

284585985/30 – When Dimple Met Rishi – by Sandhya Menon

Another debut! An arranged marriage between two Indian-American teens with both of their POVs. Dimple and Rishi have completely different ideas about romance and relationships, but when they both show interest in the same web-developer summer program their parents think it might be a good match. This sounds so cute! Their opposing views, natural attraction that was possibly influenced by their parents without Dimple’s knowledge–this sounds like the perfect rom-com setup and I’m sure I’ll devour this with a big smile!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


What to read again:

Ever since Harry Potter I’ve enjoyed re-reading the previous books in a series before the next one comes out. You get to soak up all the nuances and speculate about what’s going to happen next—it just makes the whole experience richer and more fun! What am I going to start re-reading?


The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Wrath and the Dawn

I was a little unsure about because The Arabian Nights is a classic collection of tales that has defeated me several times. I’ve never made it all the way through an edition of it, and setting a YA novel in that world seemed…well it seemed like a short story idea, not a novel. And definitely not two novels. But I was wrong! (Thanks, Erin!)

Shazi and Khalid’s story was spellbinding – I couldn’t put this book down, and although a few things could have been smoother or explored better, this was an amazing interpretation of the legend! (See my review here). The second book comes out next month and you do not want to miss it!

Rose and the Dagger

What else should you revisit?

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

ACOTARI was already hooked on her Throne of Glass series when she announced she was doing a faery trilogy – at the same time! TWO Maas books a year?! YES. I still don’t understand how she’s doing it (the schedule? the work? the revisions? the deadlines? the tours?) but she’s either superwoman or a robot.

Feyre’s story is a wonderful interpretation of two old legends, Tam Lin and East of the Sun, West of the Moon. I love those fairy tales and the elements she wove into her own story are lovely. Feyre’s life is forfeit when she accidentally kills a faery in the forest, but her captivity by the mysterious Tam Lin is not at all what she expected. (See my review here). As with her other series, I imagine details and minor characters could become important at any time, so definitely pick this up before next month’s release of book two!


The Wrath and the Dawn

18798983by Renee Ahdieh
YA Fantasy
4 of 5 stars
Debut novel – May 12, 2015
Book 1 in a duology

I was apprehensive about this book since I saw so many mixed reviews, but I’m glad I wasn’t dissuaded! I’m actually torn between 3 and 4 stars, but since I was sucked in enough to read it in two days, I feel it’s only fair to give the higher rating.

This is a retelling of The Arabian Nights and there is a good mix of homage and original material. The characters in particular feel fresh and unique. Shazi, Khalid, and even a few members of the supporting cast have their own tone and arcs, and the diversity was a bonus. Shazi made a few decisions that aggravated me, but overall her battle of feeling connected to her friend’s killer felt stubborn enough and understandable enough to me.

Minor spoiler ahead!!

Shazi first realizes she might have some feelings for him after he saves her from execution. It’s very normal to feel attached to anyone present for a traumatic experience, and since he did save her life I felt that was the only feasible way for her begin to soften towards Khalid.

Spoiler free!!

I sympathize with anyone taking issue with Shazi’s back-and-forth struggle to kill or spare Khalid, but given that she’s a 16-year-old girl I felt this vacillation was pretty realistic. It would have helped if Shiva was more present in Shazi’s mind–her grief was so distant that it was hard to pull for her rage against Khalid. Overall, I enjoyed the tension and conflicted feelings the characters experienced–that kind of complexity is what you encounter in real life and I loved seeing it in this story.

I would have liked to see more magic and quicker pacing when it came to giving us plot-moving information, especially since the writing felt a bit stilted. It tends to mimic the style of older fairy tale language which doesn’t feel entirely natural. There is a lot of sensory detail that pulls you into their desert world, and the dialogue still sparks. Shazi and Khalid kept me interested and curious the entire time, and I definitely want to see how things get resolved in the next book!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Wrath and the Dawn is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – A rebellious relationship under a tyrannical government kindles a revolution. I haven’t read this yet but it’s been getting great reviews and the characters have similar motivations to Shazi and Khalid.
  • The Arabian Nights by Anonymous – This collection of tales is assembled and translated by numerous people. Any version is going to have the stories you remember (Aladdin) and plenty of new tales to surprise and enchant. Some translations keep to almost biblical language (thee, thou) but there are more modern versions available if you prefer.
  • Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee – A girl with the power to manipulate the threads of time will stop at nothing to find her missing brother. Together with her best friend, she also discovers what her power means and the destiny that is waiting for her. See my review here.
  • Dragonfly by Julia Golding – A detailed world of differing countries and a prince and princess that must learn to respect each other and their customs if they want to survive their kidnapping. This has a similar predicament and tone to it and is also a duology.
  • The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron – A retelling of the most famous wizard (prior to Harry Potter). It starts out middle-grade but by book two or three becomes a YA series exploring the adventures Merlin had before becoming the wizened adviser to King Arthur.
  • Chalice by Robin McKinley – This has hints of a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Mirasol feels thrust into a position of too much responsibility and must forge a relationship with the feared Master of the lands. More mature in tone, but similar to Shazi’s struggle with Khalid. See my review here.
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi – A magical story steeped in Indian mythology. Maya is cursed with a horoscope that says she will bring death to any marriage. On her wedding day she’s swept away to a strange kingdom with a mysterious rule. See my review here.

What’s new this month

These are some books I’m excited about this May. Here’s a little bit about each of them:

ACOTAR5/5 – A Court of Thorns and Roses – by Sarah J. Maas

She pitched this as a re-imagined Beauty and the Beast/East of the Sun, West of the Moon/Tam Lin and I was sold immediately. I’m expecting all things Maas at an even more polished level: a badass heroine, conflicted men/fairies, magic, betrayal, destiny and more! Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale, and I’m excited to see what she does with it. This is set to be a high fantasy trilogy, releasing simultaneously with her Throne of Glass series.

More info here: Goodreads and Amazon

Wrath and the Dawn5/12 – The Wrath and the Dawn – by Renee Ahdieh

The Thousand and One Nights is one of my favorite myths and I’m always intrigued by a retelling of the woman who won the brutal king’s heart with stories. Little is made of Scheherazade falling in love with the king, but in this version Shazi struggles with the knowledge that she might come to love the man responsible for so many girls’ deaths, including some of her friends. This already has a sequel slated for 2016.

More info here: Goodreads and Amazon

PS I still love you5/26 – P.S. I Still Love You – by Jenny Han

I admit, I didn’t think much of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but I partly feel this is due to bad marketing. This is listed as YA but it felt very middle-grade to me in terms of character and plot (see my review here). Now that I have some idea of what to expect, I am curious to see how the dualogy ends and I think it will make a good poolside read this summer. The one redeeming quality it has (aside from the cover art) is a non-white protagonist, but this aspect is barely touched on in the first book so I’m not sure if it will be more prevalent in this one.

More info here: Goodreads and Amazon

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