Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.
These are the TOP TEN best books I’ve read this year.
They were all 5 stars and I don’t give 5 stars lightly.
What were yours?
About the book:
by Leigh Bardugo
Release date: September 29, 2015
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Jessica Verdi lives in Brooklyn, NY, and received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. She loves seltzer, Tabasco sauce, TV, vegetarian soup, flip-flops, and her dog. Visit her at www.jessicaverdi.com and follow her on Twitter @jessverdi.
Thanks for having me on your blog, Sarah!
Questions about the book:
1. What was the inspiration behind What You Left Behind? Did you know someone who died of cancer?
The idea for What You Left Behind was sparked by an article my husband sent me about a teenage girl who had cancer and was pregnant, and wasn’t allowed to make her own decision of whether she wanted to abort her pregnancy and continue her cancer treatments, or stop the cancer treatments and have the baby. Her parents chose for her (they chose stop cancer treatments and have the baby) and she died a couple days after giving birth, leaving the baby to be raised by her boyfriend. This isn’t exactly what happens in the book, but the issue of choice is one that is very important to me, so I wanted to write about that. And of course I was completely interested in the single teen dad grieving the loss of his girlfriend story. I do know people who have died of cancer, and my husband is also a cancer survivor, so it’s a subject that’s never too far away in my daily life.
2. Why did you decide to write a book from a male point of view? Was it difficult?
I actually started drafting the book as a dual narrator (Ryden and Meg) story, while Meg was still alive. About 75 pages in, I realized that wasn’t the way to go at all (it would have been about a billion pages long, haha), and that this story should really be told by Ryden, and begin in the middle of his journey. I actually found writing from a boy’s POV easier than writing from a girl’s. I think, because he’s a boy and I’m not, I may have subconsciously felt more freedom to just take his character wherever it needed to go, because, since we were already so different, there was no element of “me” clinging to him. No “Well, I would or wouldn’t do that,” etc.
3. What was the most challenging aspect when it came to writing this book?
There were a lot of challenging issues in writing this book, from figuring out where it should start (as I mentioned above) to dealing with all the heavy emotional elements of grief and guilt and helplessness. But I’m glad I stuck with it.
4. What was the most fun part of writing this book?
I love the mother/son relationship in this book, and so writing the scenes where Ryden’s mother is present was lots of fun.
5. What message do you want readers to walk away with?
I’m not sure I have any “message” at all, in that sense, other than to keep going, keep trying your best, take the hard stuff one day at a time, and remember to take joy in the good stuff.
Questions about writing:
1. What does your daily writing schedule look like?
Because I have a full time job as a Senior Editor at a romance novel publisher, I don’t have much time to write during the week. So I try to set aside Saturdays and Sundays as writing time. It’s hard to have to work seven days a week and essentially not have a weekend, but I’d go crazy if I didn’t have time set aside to write, so I make it work. I have to write at home—I find myself too easily distracted when I try to write in public. My brain tends to be freshest in the morning, so I start early and write write write until I’m fried. If I start in the afternoon, I’m usually less productive.
2. How do you plan out your books?
I usually use index cards to outline—I write each plot point, both big and small, whatever comes to mind, on a card, and then arrange them into an order that, when written out, would sort of resemble a book.
3. What is it like working alongside of the publisher?
I love it. It’s so encouraging to be working with people who love your book as much as you do, and who are working tirelessly to get it out into the world. Every step, from the developmental editing to the copy editing to the design and the marketing and so many other things, would be completely overwhelming (and maybe even impossible) without the help and support of the publisher.
4. Why did you become an author?
I became an author because I love telling stories. I was an actor for a long time before I started writing, and it was frustrating because I always had to wait to get cast in something in order to be able to do my art. But with writing, you can do it on your own terms—no permission necessary. It’s an incredibly inspiring and freeing feeling.
5. Do you have any news for your next project you can share?
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by Kathy MacMillansa
That would be challenging enough, but training alongside Prince Mati could be her real undoing. And when a romance blossoms between them, she’s suddenly filled with a dangerous hope for something she never before thought possible: more. Then she’s propositioned by the Resistance—an underground army of slaves—to help liberate the Arnath people. Joining the rebellion could mean freeing her people…but she’d also be aiding in the war against her beloved—an honorable man that she knows wants to help the slaves.
Working against the one she loves—and a palace full of deadly political renegades—has some heady consequences. As Raisa struggles with what’s right, she unwittingly uncovers a secret that the Qilarites have long since buried…one that, unlocked, could bring the current world order to its knees.
And Raisa is the one holding the key.
Here is the Pinterest Page Kathy created.
by Renee Ahdieh
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?
Why you might ask?
1. Sharzhad. I found Shazi extremely annoying. She rubbed me the wrong way right from the beginning when she was arrogant enough to think she could survive the night when no other woman had. Her little trick did seem to work but still she was so confident that she would be ok. This seemed unrealistic to me. All the characters including a boyfriend was also convinced that if anyone could survive it would be Shazi. I didn’t like her character. She did get better throughout the book but it was a bit too late for me to make a real connection.
2. The love triangle. Ugh, this love triangle made me crazy. Tariq was super annoying and also really full of himself. How could one boy save a girl from a palace heavily guarded? I could not connect with his character at all.
What I did like:
Yes, there were a few things I liked.
1. The writing. There is no arguing here, Renee’s writing is fantastic. I could easily see, hear, smell and taste everything in the world building.
2. The food. My favorite thing, to be honest, was the food. It sounded so delicious.
3. Khalid. I suppose Khalid was my favorite character. He seemed to be the most interesting of them all and his reactions to situations seem appropriate.
4. I did enjoy the chemistry between Khalid and Shazi.
5. The diversity! Yay! This was one of my most anticipated books this year in part to the diverse setting.
Sadly, The Wrath and the Dawn did NOT work for me. I found the characters annoying, the plot not that exciting, the mystery to be unsatisfying.
I am okay with being the black sheep of the crowd but am sad to say that this didn’t live up to my expectations.
Author: Noelle August
Series: Boomerang #3
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Source: ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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