Rummanah Aasi
Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine! I've got two YA books that I can't wait to get my hands on!

  Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Publish Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray

I love the premise of this fantasy book and it reminds me a bit of Graceling by Kristin Cashore which is one of my all time favorite YA reads.

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

 The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

Publish Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books

Cat Winter's In The Shadows of Blackbirds was one of my favorite debut novels of 2013. I can't wait to see what she does next with a new time period.  

Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.

Rummanah Aasi
 Stephanie Kuehn's Charm and Strange won the William C. Morris Award for the Best Debut YA Novel last year. I haven't heard much of this book before it won the award, but I wanted to check it out and see what I missed. Charm and Strange may appear to be a slim and quick read, but it packs an emotional punch that will you leave you emotionally bruised for quite some time. 

Description: No one really knows who Andrew Winston Winters is. Least of all himself. He is part Win, a lonely teenager exiled to a remote boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts the whole world out, no matter the cost, because his darkest fear is of himself. But he's also part Drew, the angry boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who, one fateful summer, was part of something so terrible it came close to destroying him.

Review: Charm and Strange is a taut, dark, and disturbing psychological tale that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until the shocking ending. Andrew Winston Winters is not okay. He is estranged from his family, withdrawn from his boarding-school classmates, and a little too curious about the ravaged body of a hiker just discovered in the nearby Vermont woods. The book has two story lines that slowly and shockingly converge into one. In present-tense narration, Win says he is a werewolf, condemned to change at the full moon and endanger others. Readers are left to wonder if he really did kill the hiker and whether or not to believe in Win's animal like impulses. Alternating past-tense chapters flash back to Win’s childhood as volatile Drew. Normally I would have a hard time with the narration switching back and forth in time, but the author masterfully focuses her to capture the minute details of one brief but life-changing moment: a single night during an outdoor party for Win; a visit to his grandparents during his tenth summer for Drew. The different narrations allows the reader to ponder what happened to Win/Drew that made them act this way. As the novel progresses, the carefully constructed boundaries between Win’s and Drew’s separate and distinct personas and memories begin to blur. My mind went to the dark place as I guessed at the terrible reality behind the unreliable narratives before Kuehn’s final reveal in hopes that I would be wrong, but the truth Andrew has been hiding from his classmates, readers, and—most importantly—himself is shattering, heartbreaking and gut wrenching. Kuehn tackles brutal issues of sexual and psychological abuse (as well as its aftermath head-on without softening the blow, but it also gives us a glimmer of hope that Andrew Winston Winters is a survivor and will be okay. Though this is a difficult read, Charm and Strange is hard to put down.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, underage drinking and drug use as well as allusion to sexual abuse. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Identical by Ellen Hopkins, Bait by Alex Sanchez
Rummanah Aasi
 Manga Mondays is a meme hosted by Alison at Alison Can Read where bloggers can share their passion for reading mangas. It's a great place to get new manga titles to try and to meet new bloggers. Tsukushi and Tsukasa have broken up, but they still have feelings for one another. Can they overcome big obstacles in order to be truly together?

Description: Tsukushi struggles to understand her feelings for Tsukasa, her on-and-off boyfriend, and he struggles to try and not destroy Tokyo. Will the man who came between them step aside? The meddlesome F4 try their hand at forcing Tsukushi and Tsukasa together. All the while Tsukasa's mother's spies are hot on their trail!

Review: After reading a few filler volumes where nothing happens besides Tsukushi and Tsukasa whine and pine for each other, Volume 26 is full of surprises. Tsukasa builds up his courage to fight for Tsukushi. Tsukushi is still hanging out with the new guy in order to keep her promise to Tsukasa's crazy mother, Kaede, from being far away from her son. In a beautiful three to four page spread, we find Tsukasa meeting Tsukushi and the mysterious guy as they aboard the bus as Tsukasa shows all of his vulnerabilities to  Tsukushi just by his body language, his facial expression, and of course his plea to be with him. Tsukushi, to say the least is shocked, but boards the bus anyway! I couldn't believe it and was so angry at her, but thankfully, she stops the bus and runs to Tsukasa. Finally after being so miserable, these two are a pair, but her comes the tricky part: they have to keep their relationship a secret as Tsukasa has found out that his mother has hired spies to track every move he makes.
 There are plenty of sweet and funny awkward moments between our main couple, especially as they try to keep their relationship a secret from the F3.  The F3 and company are so tired of seeing Tsukasa and Tsukushi miserable that they come up with a devious plan of their own to get these two together by kidnapping them and sticking them in a room of their own! This plan leads to more funny and sweet moments, but my favorite is Tsukushi finally telling Tsukasa that she loves him in front of everyone. It is the first time she has said those three words aloud to him!
 Along with the developments of Tsukushi and Tsukasa drama, there is a subplot brewing between Yuki and Sojiro, one of Tsukasa's best friends and member of the F4. In a previous volume, Sojiro helped Yuki get back at her cheating and good for nothing boyfriend and Yuki has started to have a crush on him. In this volume we see that for Yuki, it's more than a crush but can see win the heart of a well known playboy who might not give her what she wants? I guess we'll find out in the next volume. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is minor language, some crude humor, and a scene of underage drinking. Recommended to teens.

If you like this book try: Boys Over Flowers Vol 27 by Yoko Kamio, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda, Mars by Fuyumi Soryo
Rummanah Aasi
  I have very fond memories of my parents telling me stories from the Arabian Nights during bedtime. Of course the stories were told in a G rated fashion and lead me to read various editions of the One Thousand and One Nights as I grew older. There is no official version of the One Thousand and One Nights as the stories were told orally for many generations. Acclaimed Lebanese writer Hanan al-Shaykh has selected nineteen of these stories, some of which I never read before, and translated them from Arabic into modern English, and knitted them together into an utterly captivating short story collection.

Description: Gathered and passed down over the centuries from India, Persia, and across the Arab world, the mesmerizing stories of One Thousand and One Nights tell of the real and the supernatural, love and marriage, power and punishment, wealth and poverty, and the endless trials and uncertainties of fate. They are related by the beautiful, wise, young Shahrazad, who gives herself up to murderous King Shahrayar. The king has vowed to deflower and then kill a virgin every night--but Shahrazad will not be defeated by the king's appetites. To save herself, she cunningly spins a web of tales, leaving the king in suspense each morning, and thus prolonging her life for another day.

Review: For those of you unfamiliar with the Arabian Nights, the over arching story is this: Ever since the king was outwitted by his lusty, philandering wife, he commands that he must marry a virgin woman a day and after their wedding night, the woman would be killed before she came to harm the king and his kingdom. Vizier’s daughter Shahrazad volunteers to marry this brutal king but in order to save her own life and the other young women of her kingdom she spun tales that lasted for one thousand and one nights. In this collection of nineteen short stories, al-Shaykh retells them to celebrate her ­rediscovery of the Arab classic’s stylistic artistry, portraying a complex society, and its stunning female characters in particular who are far from passive and fearful, quite aware of their social limits, yet full of will and intelligence and wit. For al-Shaykh, as for Shahrazad, stories are matryoshka dolls, nesting within one another and casting ghosts and shadows in all directions. Here, Shahrazad first tells the traditional tale of the fisherman and the jinni, and then brings together at the impressive home shared by three beautiful sisters, a porter, three dervishes, and three merchants. Over many hours, each character tells multiple stories for different goals in a context of ever-shifting personal and power relationships. These stories are like a jig saw puzzle, leaving the reader to wonder how do they connect. The stories themselves pulse with love, lust, magic, and moral ambiguities; while is a strong undercurrent of terrible violence that underscores moments of pure beauty. I thought it was very interesting to read these stories from the lens of both the Western and Eastern culture. The stories can be hilarious, horrifying, touching, enlightening, or revelatory, which reminds us of why we have been utterly fascinated and continue to be so by the One Thousand and One Nights.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are sexual situations and strong violence throughout as well as some language. Suitable for Adults only.

If you like this book try: Sharaz-de : tales from the Arabian nights written & illustrated by Sergio Toppi, Grimm's Fairy Tales, The Complete Fairytales of Hans Christen Andersen,
Rummanah Aasi
Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine!

  The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Publish Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher:  Doubleday Children's Books

I'm a big fan of both Holly Black and Cassandra Clare so I'm really excited for them to write a Middle Grade series together. 

From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.
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