Blog Tour Review for Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh


Are you a fan of Renee Ahdieh? I have loved all her books and am so honored to be on the blog tour for her latest, Smoke in the Sun.

About the Book


Smoke in the Sun
By: Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Putnam’s Books for Young Readers

Summary:

The highly anticipated sequel to Flame in the Mist—an addictive, sumptuous finale that will leave readers breathless from the bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn.

After Okami is captured in the Jukai forest, Mariko has no choice—to rescue him, she must return to Inako and face the dangers that have been waiting for her in the Heian Castle. She tricks her brother, Kenshin, and betrothed, Raiden, into thinking she was being held by the Black Clan against her will, playing the part of the dutiful bride-to-be to infiltrate the emperor’s ranks and uncover the truth behind the betrayal that almost left her dead.

With the wedding plans already underway, Mariko pretends to be consumed with her upcoming nuptials, all the while using her royal standing to peel back the layers of lies and deception surrounding the imperial court. But each secret she unfurls gives way to the next, ensnaring Mariko and Okami in a political scheme that threatens their honor, their love and very the safety of the empire.

My Thoughts:

It didn’t take me long to get right back into this world and characters that Ahdieh so expertly created. The setting was much different than Flame in the Mist since Mariko is in the Heian Castle. I found it so interesting to read about her character adjusting back into this lifestyle- the one she was always supposed to have. Her determination to make a change and even put aside her own wants was so impressive. I’ve loved watching her character grow and develop.

Her relationship with her brother was strained but also one that moved me. These two have so much standing between them but Kenshin begins to see things differently in this novel. He has lost so much and maybe he can find hope in his sister.

Poor Okami is being tortured and held prisoner and Mariko knows this but she really doesn’t have much power to help him. Between pretending to be rescued from the Black Clan and an unassuming bride to be she also plots ways to help free Okami. Because of her time with the rebels she is not trusted by her betrothed or the emperor. She is constantly trying to placate them into trusting her. I really enjoyed getting to know Raiden a bit more. His relationship to his younger brother, the emperor, was interesting if not disturbing. Ahdieh has created some really intriguing character dynamics.

The pacing of this book was a tiny bit slower than the first to me since there wasn’t as much physical action sequences. I loved the descriptions and tidbits about the supporting cast of characters. I found Ahdieh’s writing to be beautifully done and once again I was swept up into the world and setting. I recommend these books to anyone looking for immersive characters!

Tour Schedule

FLAME IN THE MIST

WEEK ONE
May 21 – Velaris Reads – Makeup Look + Creative Instagram Picture
May 22 – Live Laugh Read – Favorite Moments from Book 1
May 23 – My Friends are Fiction – Creative Instagram Picture
May 24 – Novel Novice – Creative Instagram Picture
May 25 – Enchanted with Words – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

WEEK TWO
May 28 – Adventures of a Book Junkie – Spotlight + Giveaway
May 29 – That’s Normal – Social Media Promo
May 30 – Seeing Double In Neverland – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
May 31 – One Way or an Author – Playlist + Book Graphics
June 1 – Book Is Glee – Creative Instagram Picture

SMOKE IN THE SUN

WEEK THREE
May 21 – Velaris Reads – Makeup Look + Creative Instagram Picture
May 22 – Live Laugh Read – Instagram Picture
May 23 – My Friends are Fiction – Review
May 24 – Novel Novice – Styled by Books
May 25 – Enchanted with Words – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

WEEK FOUR
May 28 – Adventures of a Book Junkie – 5 Reasons To Read It
May 29 – That’s Normal – Giveaway
May 30 – Seeing Double In Neverland – Moodboard
May 31 – One Way or an Author – Playlist + Book Graphics
June 1 – Book Is Glee – Creative Instagram Picture

Review of The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

23308084The Rose and the Dagger
By: Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: April 26th 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young
Format: Print ARC
Source: Lit Agency

My Rating:
star

Summary:
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

My Thoughts:
Renee Ahdieh has a way with words- I swear 90% of this book was quotable. I found myself rereading line after line because of how beautifully eloquent they were. Immediately upon receiving this book I threw all other things to the side and devoured half of it. I sort of freaked knowing this was the end of the series so I halted and went to other books that were releasing sooner and came back to this one. I didn’t want it to finish and leave me wanting these characters and world.

The Wrath and the Dawn was a masterpiece and I was afraid that this sequel and ending couldn’t match the emotion, passion and beauty of the first book. Rest assured, Ahdieh does not disappoint. This book touched on so much- magic, love, betrayal, redemption, a flying carpet, and so much more. Just wow. I’m so impressed with the expanse of this story and how the characters and storylines all meld together to weave such a stunning story. Once again the reader becomes swept away in the vivid descriptions and emotions of the characters.

I did not reread TWatD prior to jumping into this one and I’d actually recommend that you do (if you have the time). It was fairly easy for me to get immersed again and recall the characters but I will say that the emotional connection I had upon finishing the first book had sizzled some and I didn’t have that heart wrenching feeling between Khalid and Shahrzad like I wanted. I’m sure this was not the fault of the book but rather, because I have read so much in between the first book and this one.

The first book focused on Shahzrad’s story telling, and the build up of her and the Caliph’s burgeoning emotions toward one another. In this book we focus more on the world outside. There are many elements shifting outside of Khorasan and the wheels are set in motion for a war. I loved seeing the way Ahdieh tied in the secondary cast into the story and gave them such pivotal roles in the outcome. I was vastly impressed with how different the tone of this follow-up was and yet the characters remained true to themselves.

Because the story takes place in a larger setting and there are more forces being moved around I felt that the pacing was perhaps a tad faster overall. Had I let myself I could have easily devoured the book in a sitting or two. I tried to stretch my reading out as long as possible. There were more action scenes but they, like every other aspect of the novel, were written elegantly.

Bah. It is so hard to write a review for a book like this. I’m really at a loss for words because it was, in essence, just really amazing and you should stop reading my words and start reading Renee’s.

Final Thoughts:
Did you read The Wrath and the Dawn? Well, if the answer is yes then you will need to read The Rose and the Dagger and bask in how well these books tie together and expand the world. Did you answer no? You should purchase or borrow it immediately.

Extras:

Interview- Renee Ahdieh author of The Wrath & the Dawn + Giveaway (INT)

9780399171611_large_The_Wrath_and_the_Dawn Renee

I recently had the pleasure of reading an early copy of The Wrath & the Dawn and I instantly fell in love with not only Ahdieh’s beautiful prose but also the sweeping scenery, characters and pacing. This book became an instant favorite for me and I’m delighted to have the honor of asking Renee some questions.

Interview

One of the reasons I was drawn to your novel was because of the reference to A Thousand and One Nights in the summary. I loved that you incorporated aspects of this folk tale into your own story and used a similar structure to frame your own. Was there any specific reason you chose the Middle East and A Thousand and One Nights for TW&TD?
I have to be careful when answering this question because sometimes I feel its answer could be a book in and of itself. My husband is Persian, and the first time he took me to visit his family, I saw this gorgeous tapestry hanging on the wall of their living room. At a distance, it looked like a hundred different vignettes strung together at random. When I asked his mother what it was, she told me it was tales from A Thousand and One Nights. Eventually, this inspired me to consider what it would be like to write a YA version of the tale of Scheherazade. I’m also a child of mixed-race, so I’ve always been fascinated with different worlds. I think all of these things along with many others contributed to what eventually brought about the book

You were able to give lush, vibrant descriptions of the scenery that made me feel that I was there. Have you traveled to this area of the world? If not, what resources did you use to help transport your reader?
Thank you so much for saying so! I’ve been to India several times, and I traveled through Greece and Egypt. Many of the things I saw and experienced served as inspiration for certain scenes in the book. I also watched several documentaries and read a lot of poetry and literature from the region, as well as had lengthy discussion with family members who lived in the Middle East for many years. I think it’s so important to make novels an immersive experience, both for the reader and the writer.

Since your novel has historical and folklore elements I imagine there was a good amount of research involved. What was the oddest or most interesting thing you learned?
Oh, lord. I think the day I learned about ancient Egyptian surgical procedures was a pretty fascinating/horrifying day. Also any research that goes into detail about old school waste disposal. That’s always fun 😉

Your main character is a heroine to root for. Shazi is strong willed, cunning and incredibly likeable. In writing TW&TD did the characters or the storyline come first?
Thank you again! For me, character always comes first. I can read a book about two people stuck in an elevator for three hours if I find them to be compelling. Whenever I’m drafting, I begin with character sketches. These sketches usually detail specific traits I’d like a character to embody. From these, I craft scenes that, hopefully, convey those character traits.

Did any of your characters take on a life of their own and go off the original path you had set for them?
Hmmmm. The fun answer would be yes. But no. I’m a crazy plotter and a big control freak. One of those nutjobs prone to make lists about every inane detail. Seriously you can ask my agent. Her nickname for me is Crazypants. That being said, there were definitely moments characters said things that surprised me. But I always know what I plan to write when I sit down.

My favorite type of character is one with secrets that aren’t instantly revealed and straddles the line between good and evil, which you accomplished beautifully. Do you have a specific method for creating your characters and their personalities?
Thank you so much! I think I inadvertently started to answer this question above and then deleted some of it because I saw this one. What can I say; your questions are all so great and thought provoking! I usually start with a character’s name. I write it on a sheet of paper and create a web around his/her name with character traits, physical features, anything I think might be of relevance to that specific character. Sometimes I’ll write a short story from that character’s perspective just to establish voice.

Do you use music to help set the tone as you write? If so, what are a few songs that express the feel of your book?
Music is of absolute necessity when I write. The sound of silence drives me batty. Usually I’ll have a playlist on low, running on repeat. If other people are around me, I’ll put on noise-canceling headphones (see above re: control freak/Crazypants). I love all kinds of music, but I’m partial to anything by Explosions in the Sky, M83, Radiohead, Sevenlions, Bassnectar, Gemini, AWOLNATION, Massive Attack, Metallica, any of Stravinsky’s ballets, John Coltrane . . . I mean this list could get exhaustive.

Are you actively working on anything right now? Can you tell us anything about it?
I’m working on edits for the sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn, tentatively titled The Rose and the Dagger.

Thank you so much Renee!
Thank YOU, Kristen!! J

About the Book

9780399171611_large_The_Wrath_and_the_DawnEvery 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.

The Wrath & the Dawn releases May 12th 2015 by Putnam Juvenile

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Extras

Review of The Wrath & The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

TW&TDThe Wrath & The Dawn
By: Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: May 12th 2015
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Format: Print ARC
Source: Won in giveaway

My Rating:
star

Summary:
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.

The Story:
When I heard this book was inspired by A Thousand and One Nights I knew I had to have it. I’m so happy that this book did not disappoint and will be added to my shelves as a favorite.  The story begins with a prologue that sets up some of the mystery behind why the Caliph, Khalid, has his new bride murdered every dawn. I was immediately captivated. Ahdieh wasted no time in throwing us into the story and having Shahrzad thrown into the palace and danger. The book was beautifully paced and kept me riveted and tense.

The setting was absolutely breathtaking. I had to break while reading it to do some research on Khorasan and A Thousand and One Nights. I needed to see pictures, read more and educate myself about this area. I love when a book can pull me that deep into the setting that even while I’m not reading I’m thinking, researching and seeking more knowledge on the location or topics presented.

Ahdieh was more than capable at painting the scenes with her words and really had me completely immersed. I could picture the palace, clothing and landscape clearly.

I wasn’t sure when starting this book if it would have any magic or fantasy and I’m so happy that it does! It was small tidbits, magical realism, but beautifully incorporated. It’s so hard to describe how much I enjoyed this storyline.

The Characters:
Not only did The Wrath & The Dawn have a beautiful setting and intense storyline the characters were multidimensional. Time was spent to give the reader a sense of the main character, Shahrzad. I immediately respected and liked her; I wanted her to succeed and felt fear for her when she was caught up in sticky situations. She was a bold personality that was brave, smart and loyal. She wasn’t perfect by any means though and I felt that she was very relatable.

Khalid on the other-hand was more of a mystery. The reader isn’t certain of his motivations right off and we learn of him as Shazi does. I felt that I had a sense about him that I was able to prove as I continued to read. I loved that he was given grief, guilt, anger and so many other emotions. He was very complex and complicated which made him a favorite of mine.

All of the characters dealt with their own personal demons, motivations and guilt. I thought that Ahdieh did a brilliant job in giving all of her characters immense depth.

Final Thoughts:
The Wrath & the Dawn became an instant favorite and I’m so eager to read the sequel because wow…what a strong world, story and amazing characters. I’m in love.

The Wrath & the Dawn will be available May 12th 2015

Extras:

  • Look for my interview with Renee next month!
  • I created this cover in LEGO (click on the image to see it larger)

TheWrath&TheDawnLego
You can see more covers redone in Lego here.

Lego Cover Art- The Wrath & The Dawn

If you follow me here or on Twitter you would have seen me flailing about Renee Ahdieh’s upcoming book, The Wrath & The Dawn. I was lucky enough to win an advance copy and after reading it I became absolutely obsessed. This book is incredible and inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. I highly recommend that you add this one to your TBR list. Because of my obsession I had to create a Lego version of the cover. I had thought, oh this will be easy. Um, think again. I did about four versions before I got to this one. I hope you enjoy it!

TheWrath&TheDawnLego

 

Extras:

I’ll be posting an interview with Renee closer to the release date as well as a review.
I have 2 giveaways going for this book- a pre-order and for an ARC

Past Lego Covers:

 Blocks Unhinged   The Immortal Rules  

UnboundLego320 LegoStillBlue320 thewinnerscurse320fin MortalHeartFinal KissOfDeception320 ACOTARLego320