The Wrath and the Dawn

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Title: The Wrath and the Dawn

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Summary: Khalid, the dangerous and mysterious young Caliph of Khorasan, has an unsettling habit: He marries a new young girl from his city of Rey each night, only to have them killed each following dawn, strangled by a silken cord. One of the most recent victims of his bewildering cruelty was Shiva, the dearest friend of Shahrzad, daughter of a former vizier. Planning to exact revenge, Shahrzad volunteers to be Khalid’s next bride. While she is able to survive the first night of her marriage due to her skill as a charming storyteller, her place in the palace as Calipha is not secure and she is in constant danger from everyone around her. Meanwhile, outside the city, Shahrzad’s childhood friend and first love Tariq plots to free Shahrzad and the kingdom of Khorasan from the tyrannical rule of the hated Khalid. Of course, there is more to the Caliph than meets the eye. As an improbable connection begins to form between the married strangers, a tale of curses, true love and political intrigue begins to swirl that is as mesmerizing as one of Shahrzad’s nighttime tales.

This dynamic, un-put-downable page-turner is an outstanding debut by author Ahdieh. It is a fascinating retelling of The Arabian Nights and a great interpretation of its narrator, Scheherazade. There is romance, intrigue, adventure and even a dash of the supernatural to satisfy most readers, even those who are not interested in the revived trend of updated and fractured fairy tales. With the second book in the series, The Rose and the Dagger, due in 2016, you’ll want to get your hands on this title as soon as possible.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like intrigue and love-triangle romance with a dash of the supernatural. Fans of historical fiction based in non-European settings.

If you like this, try this: The forthcoming A Thousand Nights by Emily Kate Johnson. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. The original Arabian Nights tales, found in many translations. For mature readers, another fairy-tale retelling along these themes, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Queen of Someday

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Title: Queen of Someday

Author: Sherry D. Ficklin

Summary: Sophie knows she must do her duty to her family, her country and the emperor. That this means leaving the only home she has ever known to attempt to secure a marriage to a boy prince she has only met once in her life is out of her control. Driven by her ambitious mother, Sophie makes the journey to the cold heart of Russia, ruled by Empress Elizabeth and her nephew, the heir, Peter. Once she arrives, she must defend herself against palace intrigue, rival princesses and the desires of her own heart. Can she master the subtle rules of the court, form the alliances she needs to surpass her enemies and survive the treacherous atmosphere to someday become queen?

This is a great, quick read for anyone who likes romance and historical fiction. Sophie is a strong, resourceful character who you will root for, even as she makes mistakes. While it can be a little loose with the historical facts of young Sophie’s life, the basic story follows the biographical record. You will race through this book and want to read the whole series to see how it all turns out for the princess as she begins the journey that will see her become one of the most powerful and controversial royals in history.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like historical fiction based on real people. Romantics. People who like stories about royalty. Fans of the television show Reign.

If you like this, try this: The forthcoming books in the series, Queen of Tomorrow and Queen of Forever. For a quick look at the (scandalous) reign of Catherine II, read her installment of the Wicked History biography series. You can also take a look at the princess-based series of Carolyn Meyer and Esther Friesner.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

srsly Hamlet

hamletTitle: srsly Hamlet

Author: William Shakespeare and Courtney Carbone

Summary: I am a hardcore bardolator – I love Shakespeare. I read his plays for fun. I get really excited when new productions of his plays, especially the ‘boring’ historical ones, come to town. I’m the first person in line to see the latest movie adaptation. And yes – I am recommending a series of books that retells some of the greatest plays ever written using emojis. I know what you are thinking – I need to reconsider my membership to the Shakespeare Fan Club. I’m the last person I’d ever think would say this, but these books are so much fun! I expected to ‘hate-read’ them but as I kept turning pages, I found the design of the book, featuring not just emojis but all sorts of modern communication techniques, to be very, very charming. Take a look:

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These books are quick and light and probably best suited to readers who have already read the original plays or seen productions or film adaptations. Sometimes you just need a good laugh and these books provide that, making them perfect for end-of-summer reading. As the adapter of this volume, Courtney Carbone states perfectly in her dedication: “To all my extraordinary English teachers, I’m sorry.”

Who will like this book?: This book would put a smile of the face of pretty much any reader. It might make some Shakespeare lovers angry, but it’s all in good fun!

If you like this, try this: More books in the OMG Shakespeare series, including YOLO Juliet and the forthcoming Macbeth #killingit and A Midsummer Night (no filter). If you are interested in learning more about Shakespeare’s plays, along with his life and times, try DK’s The Shakespeare Book. And if you want to take a deep dive, read Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human by critic Harold Bloom.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The White Queen & The Red Queen

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Title: The White Queen and The Red Queen

Author: Philippa Gregory

Summary: Move over Tudors, here come the Plantagenets. Before Henry VIII and his six wives, England endured the War of the Roses, also known as the Cousin’s War, where two royal houses battled each other for supremacy. These books tell the stories of two women whose lives were intertwined: Elizabeth Woodville of the House of York and Margaret Beaufort of the House of Lancaster. Both women would see their family members on the throne but the crown comes at great personal cost to each of them.

Elizabeth Woodville’s story is told in The White Queen. Of humble birth, she snared the future king of England with her beauty (or by witchcraft, as her enemies would later charge.) She would have a happy marriage and many children but she and her royal sons would be in constant danger from rivals and allies alike. Margaret Beaufort’s life is described in The Red Queen. Married at 12 and a pregnant widow at 13, Margaret would plot, scheme, and shift alliances to see her House regain power – because her only child, Henry Tudor, would become heir to the throne. Fast-paced, full of twists and turns, and featuring characters as fascinating as any women in history, you won’t be able to put these books down – even though you think you know how the story will end.

Who will like these books?: Fans of royal  historical fiction, especially Ms. Gregory’s many loyal readers. If you are into the Tudors, give these books a try.

If you like this, read this: The other books in this series, The Kingmaker’s Daughter and The White Princess. For younger readers, try Patience, Princess Catherine by Carolyn Meyer. Nine Days a Queen by Ann Rinaldi.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The King’s Rose

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Title: The King’s Rose

Author: Alisa M. Libby

Summary: It is not until she is sent back to Lambeth Palace, her childhood home, that Catherine Howard is informed of her impending future: she will be King Henry’s fifth wife just as soon as he can have his disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves annulled. Even though she is just 15, Catherine has been well-coached in her duties – she must keep her royal husband’s focus on herself, and provide the old and ailing king with a male heir. While Henry lavishes his young wife with gifts, Catherine is haunted – not only by the memories of queens past (including her cunning cousin Anne Boleyn), but by her own dangerous past.

This fast-paced historical chronicles the life of the least-famous of Henry’s wives. It doesn’t shy away from describing the lengths Catherine went to in order to get pregnant, making this a book for mature readers. If you are in the market for a summer read, this is a book that will sweep you to a Tudor court full of intrigue, scandal, and romance.

 Who will like this book?: Mature teens who like historical fiction, particularly royal historicals and ‘princess’ books. Fans of doomed romance.

If you like this, try this: Another great choice for mature readers is The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. Younger readers might want to start with the Tudor books of Carolyn Meyer: Doomed Queen Anne (Anne Boleyn) and Beware, Princess Elizabeth (Elizabeth I), or Nine Days a Queen (Lady Jane Grey) by Ann Rinaldi.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian