Author Archive : michymoo

The Rose and the Dagger

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My fellow Caliphs and Caliphas, the story of Shahrzad and Khalid is actually over. Thinking about the fact that I will never be able to see a new cover being released for this series, or that I will never be able to hold the two books in the duology as if they were new and as if I never heard of them before just cracks my heart in half. All in all, The Rose and the Dagger is beautiful, electrifying and gives me the feels once more. I’ve been waiting a year (or so) to read this sequel, and I actually just discovered that it’s a duology (well, before I read this) so I had so much rage in me. Looking back at the ending and how Ahdieh, as always, unfolded everything and answered all of us readers’ questions, I am truly satisfied. This couldn’t have ended in a better way.

I loved this; don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t as good as the first book. I initially predicted that I would rate this five stars, because the first book changed me in more ways than I would ever expect (especially with how I look at the high fantasy genre), but this book was weaker in a few ways. Listen, I have always loved the characters, romance and ideas/themes that Ahdieh presented. My love for those book characteristics never changed or diminished. Shazi and Khalid are still my favourite couple in the entire universe, their characters/personalities as a whole are so fearless and strong, more strong than most books’ characters have, and I have always loved the setting of the desert and Khorasan and basically… everything. 

Before I get to the positives, I feel that it is best to speak about the issues. This book didn’t feel as put-together or as wholly as the previous novel, or how I would like a book to feel. Yes, our questions were answered and it turned out pretty great, but the book felt so (it’s hard to describe honestly) stiff. There were parts where I was bored (especially through the middle) and I constantly felt this tension that a random war would pop up in the midst of the story (which it kind of did/didn’t) and I was waiting for that. Also, I would have appreciated more Khalid/Shazi moments, but it is completely understandable how they had to part ways for a huge portion of the story because of the events/curse that got in their way. Also, what happened with that curse?

“You continue to wound me, you awful girl. Because I know. Had I spent a single night with you, I would never have wished for us to be parted from that day forward” (66).

As you may have known, Khalid’s curse is a large theme of book one because this affects his relationship between him and Shazi, and how the world around him looks at him, his reputation. I can’t really pinpoint what the goal of this book was. Question-answering, absolutely, romantic development, sure, but the curse was rarely mentioned and there was hardly any fantasy magical things occurring. Listen, I am not your diehard fan of spells and whatnot, but I love the way Renée approaches it, and that barely occurred. Yeah, we see Shazi experimenting with her magic carpet, but that was only a short instant. Those were the issues I spotted.

Now, to the positives, because there were a ton. I loved how Ahdieh reminded readers of who was who, what meant what, and where the characters were in terms of time and setting. I didn’t feel like re-reading the first novel because (A) my TBR pile is huge and (B) I had no time to prepare myself for the sequel so I just bought it. Thank you, Renée! I seriously needed that recap. This novel takes place right from where the first left us off. Each character is basically in a different place, and we feel this tension when Shazi and Khalid are trying to find each other.

As always, Ahdieh has handled the perspectives well. I’ve enjoyed her writing of this series because it’s written in third-person perspectives. Therefore, we could easily discover who Ahdieh is writing about because their names are mentioned. I loved every character, their rivals and their relationships.

Shahrzad is as fearless, strong and kick-ass as always. Since the time I read The Wrath and the Dawn, Shazi has resided as my favourite heroine in all of YA and in all of every single book I have ever read. I love her independence, how she doesn’t need someone by her side to get the job done. There are many scenes where she goes to find something/someone, and she goes on her own, secretly.

“When I was in the desert, I woke each day and carried on with my life, but it wasn’t living; it was merely existing. I want to live. You are where I live” (173).

BUT GUYS WE HAVE A NEW STAR CHARACTER. Irsa, Shazi’s younger sister! I adore sister relationships because they can only remind me of my relationship with my own sister. Ahdieh introduces Shazi’s character in the first chapter, and she remains an important part of this sequel because she is always by her sister and would do anything to save her, even though she is younger. We even see her fall in love, confess her deepest worries to people that we would never expect her to, and most importantly, we see a huge character development. She’s amazing.

KHALID AND TARIQ, MY FRIENDS. These are the hottest YA guys in all of the universe. Some people may disagree with me, but I actually liked their feud, because it made sense. They had reasons to hate each other. It’s a love triangle, people, what else do you expect?

The Rose and the Dagger was just absolute joy and greatness. I adore Renée Ahdieh’s writing so much that she is an instant-buy for me and I would sell all of my books to get a new book by her (okay, that is nuts and I don’t think I’d do that haha). This was just a perfect ending to the story and there were so many shocking moments, plot twists and the amount of suspense at the end of every chapter was astonishing. YOU’LL EXPERIENCE EVERY FEELING; I ALMOST FELL APART AT THE END because of something shocking and sad. Goodbye, Shazi and Khalid. I love you! (I’ll reread this series eventually because it’s too good)

The Couple Next Door

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The Couple Next Door has one of those titles that will spin around in your head day after day, night after night, really making you freaked out in terms of your neighbours and the people you think you know well. Seriously, I am freaked out this right second, and as I am writing this, it is pure daylight outside and things are happening. Unlike some of the negative reviews out there, which are stating that this mystery/thriller novel is disappointing, I found this to be pure awesomeness and I am still shaking with goosebumps all over my arms at this very moment. Unlike all of the happy, cutesy contemporaries I have been reading in the past few weeks, this is a mega dark story that is not so much about the “thriller” aspect, but more about the psychological part of a human and how we are capable of doing just about anything to reach our goals. If characters like this were able to conquer their wishes in these ways, then I am sure that I am able to do anything. Ugh, that phrase I just typed couldn’t get more cheesier, I feel.
You think that this is just about baby Cora, a six month old baby who is somehow kidnapped from her house. The inner works of Lapena’s mind and how she constructed this story was definitely focused on Cora and her disappearance, but I would say that trust and family workings are two major themes that come about in the beginning, middle and end of this fictional novel. I will definitely go out and recommend this to my mom, who doesn’t read too often, but does seriously enjoy thrillers and mysteries. I would honestly go out and watch a remake of this book, turned into film. I could just picture who the actors would be and how moving this story would become for everyone, even to those who struggle to pick up a novel because they just don’t enjoy it.
There are many stories/films out there focusing on missing individuals, kidnappings and sick, sick events that makes us wonder how they are even implanted into someone’s mind, but there is nothing even close to what Shari Lapena has now accomplished—a book that makes you think that this is all about murder and weird, absurd people, but instead is something bigger and broader, and more personal, all at the same time. It’s so difficult to explain this addicting novel to someone without spoiling it all. I must say, this is a true suspense novel, because I just felt the suspense inside of me, stirring and flowing like the longest river out there. Lapena kept revealing things one at a time, and at many points, we readers are stuck with hopelessness, unsure of what the real truth is, because everything seems hidden. I expected this to be a story where the answer will be revealed on the last page, as many psychological thrillers are, but instead, answers were revealed all of the time. Some even in the first few chapters, pulling us closer to the good stuff.
The concept can be very personal, depending on who the audience of readers are. Lapena focuses on a couple, Marco and Anne, who are happily living their lives with their newborn six-month-old daughter, Cora. Anne comes from a wealthy family, where she has always been given everything that she needed in life. Her parents never really approved of her marrying Marco, but she didn’t care—her love for him was too strong. One night, Marco and Anne attend a dinner party next door, leaving Cora in her crib, checking on her every half hour. When they decide to head home, they find Cora missing, and the whole book comes together and the events begin.

I loved reading this because it was absolutely addicting. The only flaw I spotted was the fact that I was fooled in the middle of the book when something gigantic was revealed and I feared that everything would just be filler from then on. I don’t like being fooled in that way, honestly, and I kind of got upset over that and expected the plot to fall downhill from there. Everything else, including the writing, pace, characters (even though I despised some of them) were perfect. This book could have been perfect, except for that minor itch in the whole outcome of the story.
I guess this could even hit you harder if you are a parent. I have no experience, so I don’t perfectly know exactly what Anne was especially feeling, but I was hurt. This made my stomach ache because you just don’t want to ever hear of this kind of scenario. LEAVE THE POOR BABY ALONE. *cries* I just kept biting my nails and praying that Cora will be saved and never be left alone ever again. This is the first abduction story dealing with a child that I have read about, and I bet that now that this is released, the world will go crazier than ever for these kinds of stories. Beware the future knockoffs that’ll form, because this is the absolute original one. This will definitely stand as one of my most favourite reads of the year, especially for its originality and how my attention span acted up throughout the period of time that I spent reading this.
I love the cover, I loved everything about this, and I am certain that you will adore this as much as I did and more. I’m kind of feeling a little freaked out about my own neighbours, now that I think about it. Honestly? You’ll be freaked out about everyone/everything and be extremely paranoid and never be the same person anymore after completing this. At least, that’s what I’m currently feeling, and I am truly hoping that it’ll subside, especially after reading some happier stories with absolute happy ever after endings. Warner Bros, Universal, Sony—whatever—pay attention to the raving reviews of this novel and MAKE A FILM ALREADY. BUY THE RIGHTS. WHATEVER YOU OUGHT TO DO. Now, please. *smiles weakly*

Nantucket Blue

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Nantucket Blue is one of those books that I added on to my TBR list ages ago when I underwent some kind of YA contemporary-romance chick-lit phase. It happens. I never stopped wanting to read it, either. I finally found a copy of it available when I went to the new library by my house. Seeing a copy in good condition also intrigued me, you know? I borrowed it, sat down in one of their uber-cool noise-cancelling chairs, and read half of it there. The other half? At home. It’s currently summer vacation, and although I won’t be spending any time on the beach until August, Leila Howland converted me from reality into Nantucket. You cannot imagine how much I want to visit Rhode Island, tour Brown University and take a ferry to this gorgeous island that I now know so much about. For some, this may be a cheesy chick-lit where we could all predict the ending. Yeah, it was extremely cheesy, but that’s the fun of it. I really loved Nantucket Blue, and I am excited to read the sequel!

This story revolves around soon-to-be-seniors in high school, Cricket and Jules. They have been best friends since the eighth grade, and since Cricket doesn’t have a good relationship with her divorced parents, Jules’ home has become Cricket’s, in a way. After a huge tragedy strikes, the two friends’ lives change forever. This is right at the start of summer vacation, and Jules’ family is still going to their summer home on a small island called Nantucket. Cricket follows Jules to show that their friendship still exists and gets caught in a summer fling in the midst of it all… yada yada yada.

You can most likely predict it if I tell you all about each of the characters and how Cricket gets involved with them. That’s not why I read the book, to catch the predictability and make fun of the story. I read this book because I was looking for a book that will capture the great moments of summer and make me have this inexplicable feeling. This book is your perfect beach read, a book that you will fly by in a sitting and squeal over.

Leila Howland is just such a good writer. This story was fast-paced, and although it takes place over a matter of two months, it never got boring. Boringness is a HUGE book pet peeve of mine, and if I get bored reading a book, I feel like it’s a waste of time for me to read. Nantucket Blue was just so addicting and like bliss. It had this kind of 90210-like drama, but it was narrowed down a touch and made extra fun.

Our protagonist, Cricket, was kind of the issue at times, but I liked her anyway. Overly attached characters are no fun. There were moments where I just wanted to slap the book and scream at it because Cricket never made the decisions that she should have made! Like seriously, making out with two guys in a day? Being nice and overly attached to your ex-best friend? NOOOO. Cricket Thompson is your stereotypical example of a bi*chy teenage girl. I honestly am so against stereotypes (they’re the worst things possible), but Cricket Thompson fulfilled the ones that have been made for years because of shows/books like Gossip Girl. She had no respect for her parents, didn’t care about anything she did, and was so boy-crazy that it blew my mind.

At least the romance was cute when it came around. Screw Jay though. I can’t believe that Cricket was obsessed with this douche-bag. ZACK, GUYS. I don’t understand what was the big deal with the whole dating-best-friend-brother thing. I guess people have different opinions on all of this. The age difference kind of frustrated me, though. (Zack is a sophomore. Cricket is a senior).

My favourite thing was Nantucket itself. I’ve read books about The Hamptons, about Martha’s Vineyard or Cape Cod, but never about Nantucket. I wouldn’t have known about Nantucket if it wasn’t for Leila Howland’s duology. I WANT TO GO THERE. I want to eat fried clams, as well.

Nantucket Blue is one of the most summeriest books you could possibly read. Next time I go to the library, I’ll have to grab a copy of the sequel and be introduced to another summer of Cricket’s in Nantucket. Any lover of Melissa de la Cruz’s contemporary novels should definitely go for this pretty.