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Review - The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Expected Publication Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fairy tales/fantasy/romance

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by "A Thousand and One Nights"
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she's falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

It’s rare that a book so vividly fantastical comes along. A book that captures your mind so completely that you miss your train stop, weep furiously in public, and sigh in anger as soon as the last page is turned. The Wrath and the Dawn is one of those books. A new spin on the classic 1001 Nights tale with a Beauty and the Beast twist, The Wrath and the Dawn is a beautifully crafted story that twists and turns itself into something that leaves you breathless and wanting more.

Shazi sets out to right the wrongs that the 18-year-old Caliph of Khorasan has done to her people. She seeks revenge for her best friend, taken by the Caliph and murdered in the same fashion as the other girls. Every night the Caliph takes a new wife, and in the morning she’s dead, found with a silken rope around her neck. The Caliph is a cruel ruler, feared by his people, but Shazi does not fear him. Her strength and unwillingness to back down to this mysterious king is admirable, and her stubborn nature keeps her alive. Throughout her time at the castle, Shazi discovers that things aren’t as they seem. Is the Caliph really as cruel a king as the people think, or is something more sinister going on?

Renee Ahdieh has taken classic fairy tales and given them new life. She’s written a story so real you can feel the sand of the Khorasan desert beneath your feet. Perfect, sensual, brilliant – just read it.
Reviewed by Anna, Not Your Mother's Book Club Coordinator

Highly Anticipating - Thor's Serpents by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr and Bear and Duck by Katy Hudson

Thor's Serpents by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr
Expected Publication Date: May 19th, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 368 pages

For fans of "Percy Jackson and the Olympians," the thrilling conclusion to The Blackwell Pages, written by "New York Times "bestselling YA authors, K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr.
Thirteen-year-olds Matt, Laurie, and Fen have beaten near-impossible odds to assemble their fellow descendants of the Norse Gods and complete epic quests. Their biggest challenge lies ahead: battling the fierce monsters working to bring about the apocalypse.
But when they learn that Matt must fight the Midgard Serpent alone and Fen and Laurie are pulled in other directions, the friends realize they can't take every step of this journey together. Matt, Laurie, and Fen will each have to fight their own battles to survive, to be true to themselves, and to one another - with nothing less than the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

Why we can't wait: Book 3 in the Loki's Wolves series!!!! Kids love it, parents love it, we love it. Yeah, we want it now.

Bear and Duck by Katy Hudson
Expected Publication Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Page Count: 32 pages

Bear is sick and tired of being a bear. Who wants to sleep all winter? His fur feels so hot in the summer. And the bees . . . there are just too many angry bees! Bear is done being a bear. But when he sees a line of happy yellow ducklings, he has a thought. What if he could be a duck?

With a few duck lessons from Duck, Bear learns that being a duck is fun; but as it turns out, Bear realizes he makes a really good bear . . . and he makes a really good friend along the way. Young readers will delight in the hilarious relationship between Bear and Duck.

Why we can't wait: I mean this just looks absolutely adorable. And really, who doesn't want to be a duck?!

Highly Anticipating - An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Expected Publication Date: April 28th, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Page Count: 464 pages

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire's greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.
ELIAS is the academy's finest soldier-- and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he's ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.
When Laia and Elias's paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Why we can't wait: Basically who isn't excited about this book?!!? Because seriously it sounds AMAZING! MORE HIGH FANTASY PLEASE AND THANK YOU!


Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Expected Publication Date: April 21st, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 320 pages

A captivating novel about mental illness that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman.

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images.Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.Caden Bosch is torn.

Challenger Deep is a deeply powerful and personal novel from one of today's most admired writers for teens. Laurie Halse Anderson, award-winning author of Speak, calls Challenger Deep "a brilliant journey across the dark sea of the mind; frightening, sensitive, and powerful. Simply extraordinary.

Why we can't wait: HI NEAL SHUSTERMAN BYE.

Author Interview with Teresa Toten!

Teresa Toten is the author of the acclaimed Blondes series, as well as The Game, The Onlyhouse, among other books. Teresa has twice been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Born in Zagreb, Croatia, but left for Canada on that same day, she lives in Toronto.








Deep, understated, and wise, this engaging YA novel, winner of the Governor General's Award in Canada, is about more than the tough issue of teens dealing with obsessive-compulsive order. It also has romance, and a whodunit element that will keep readers guessing. Perfect for readers who love "Eleanor & Park" as well as "All the Bright Places."
Adam Spencer Ross is almost fifteen, and he's got his hands full confronting the everyday problems that come with having divorced parents and a stepsibling. Add to that his obsessive-compulsive disorder and it's just about impossible for him to imagine ever falling in love. Adam's life changes, however, the instant he meets Robyn Plummer: he is hopelessly, desperately drawn to her. But is it possible to have a normal relationship when your life is anything but?
Filled with moments of deep emotion and unexpected humor, "The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B" explores the complexities of living with OCD and offers the prospect of hope, happiness, and healing.




1. Adam, along with the other kids of Room 13B, suffers from severe OCD. Why did you choose to focus on mental illness rather than physical illness?
I was both moved and inspired by the brilliant young people in my life who are struggling with anxiety disorders, OCD and other mental health issues. I’m also lucky enough to get a lot of letters from my readers and many of them have brought me to my knees with their outpouring of pain. All of that swirled around in my head for years until Adam was born.

2. Everyone in Room 13B becomes obsessed with superheroes after adopting their favorites as a form of pseudonym. Adam, especially, becomes enthralled by the idea of being Batman. Why did you choose to include this? And also, who’s your favorite superhero? (Mine’s Batman!)
I confess to being a former superhero comic addict. I knew that some therapists use the technique of alter egos in group therapy and voila, my superheroes came to the rescue as the perfect vehicle. I devoured all the comics, but I way preferred the Marvel franchise over DC, EXCEPT for my favorite super hero—who else but The Batman?!

3. How much research into mental illness did you have to do?
Unlikely Hero took over a year of research before I wrote a word. I read a great deal, interviewed many sufferers, spoke to therapists, sat in on group therapies and attended an International conference on OCD. I also had the book fact-checked by a renowned specialist in OCD and a priest who is also a practicing therapist. It was a two for the price of one deal with the priest since there’s also a lot of Catholic stuff in the book!

4. Adam’s mother and stepbrother also suffer from some form of mental illness. What was your reasoning behind having so many family members coping with different variations of the disease?
One in every five people suffer from some kind of mental disorder in their lifetime and over 25% of the teen population struggle with anxiety disorders!. Pretty much every family is affected in some way. And many of those issues (especially anxiety or OCD disorders) have a very strong genetic component. I wanted to shed some light on that and in a way, normalize it. Hey, it happens, a lot. Adam’s family are loving, caring and decent people who are also challenged by mental illness. The key word is “illness.” It’s an illness like any other illness, like diabetes, or high blood pressure. Sometimes it’s treatable, curable, or just manageable. There may be setbacks or new treatments. What we have to do is finally destroy the stigma and secrecy that still sticks to this particular illness.

5. Are any of your characters’ experiences based off of people you know in real life?
Absolutely. I “stole” directly from many of the teens I know and even from some of the adults. So many people were hugely open and generous with their “secrets” with me.

6. Adam loves to play a game called Warmachine. I’m only vaguely familiar with it, but can you tell us a little about how it works? Why did you choose to have him play this kind of tabletop game rather than a sport or video game?
Okay, I “stole” that too. A wonderful young man introduced me to this tabletop warrior game. You have to make your figurines and it can and does get massively elaborate. I spent endless hours pouring over YouTube sites of collectors and players and warriors. I kind of think that I would have liked to play it with Adam and Ben to tell you the truth.

7. If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see cast?
It would need a young and totally undiscovered cast that would go on to awesome Hollywood careers, but Denzel Washington would play the ever patient Jamaican psychiatrist.

8. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
God, I wish I could plot. Twenty years of writing and. . .I just can’t do it. The rebellious, whiney, kid in me gives up all semblance of any outline by chapter 3.

9. Coffee or tea?
Espresso coffee and lots of it!

10. Favorite movie? Show? Band?
Favorite of the past year: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Favorite show of all time: The Wire 
Favorite Band: Depends on what I’m writing (I’m not kidding) for Unlikely Hero I listened to a lot of jazz.

Come meet Teresa on March 18th at Books Inc. Alameda!