When I think about what I truly love about reading, I realize how much I relate to my students’ reading habits. Of course, I appreciate some things about reading that maybe they haven’t learned to appreciate yet (and some of them probably never will). I appreciate beautiful writing and I’ve really come to love novels in verse in the past couple of years. I love reading nonfiction and learning more about the world around me. I love books that make me really feel things and think about life and the world around me. But what I truly love about reading–what made me become a capital-r Reader–is the ability to completely lose myself in a story. I love those books that will not let me go, that are constantly calling for my time. They’re so compelling that I never want to put them down and they stay with me when I do. That’s exactly how I felt about these books and that’s what made them an instant favorite. I think that’s what most of my students need from a book to stay interested, so I’m glad we chose the first book as a selection on our summer reading list this year.The Wrath and the Dawn
by Renee Ahdieh
Narrated by Ariana Delwari
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Published 2015 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
10 hrs., 38 mins. Audiobook
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
One 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? [Goodreads]
I’ve been meaning to read this book since it came out. Renee Ahdieh was at the Decatur Book Festival a few years ago talking about it and it sounded so good. I went ahead an got it for my library and I’ve heard great things about it from my students and reviews I’ve read. Then, I went through a weird period where I couldn’t stay interested in Fantasy books. All that to say that I didn’t think this would grab me the way it did. I listened to the first book on audio and the audio performance took a little away from the book in the beginning. There was a point about a third of the way in that it completely hooked me, though. It didn’t let me go until I finished both books.
I loved the storytelling elements in the first book. They die off a bit about halfway through when the romance takes over. They’re what build that relationship between Shahrzad and Khalid. I’m a sucker for a romance in a story and Shahrzad and Khalid have a really lovely one. I love their relationship dynamic: Khalid is quiet and introspective while Shahrzad is bold and stubborn. I think the uncovering of secrets slowly throughout the book is what really pulled me in. Much like Shahrzad, I needed to know why Khalid was having girls murdered. The last third of the book absolutely would not let me go. I just had to finish it. As soon as I did, I had to get the next one.
This book counts toward my Read Harder Challenge.The Rose & the Dagger
by Renee Ahdieh
Published 2016 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
416 pages. Hardcover
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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. [Goodreads]
The second books picks up right where the first left off. After my experience with the first book, I assumed I would absolutely devour this one and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a lot of action, a few surprises, and plenty of the intense emotion that was so prominent in the first book. There’s still a good deal of romance, but this book has more to do with action. Shahrzad is trying to stop a war from happening and also break a curse. She’s discovering magical abilities. Khalid is really working for and with his people for the first time. He’s trying to rebuild his city and build trust with his people who have feared him for so long. There were a couple of lovely twists and there were a couple of moments that nearly brought tears to my eyes. I think it’s safe to say it’s difficult not to get wrapped up in these books.
I passed on the audio for the second book and enjoyed reading the print. I don’t normally read fantasy in print because there are generally a lot of descriptive sections and expository information that make me lose focus. These books are a quick and easy read, though. There’s a lot of dialogue and Ahdieh is an economical writer. Nothing in these books was wasted; it all had purpose. They’re the kind of books that make me want to read ahead from excitement before I remind myself that I’ll miss things if I do that. I definitely recommend them, especially if you enjoy fantasy books or YA.