Book Review: A Thousand Nights

A Thousand Nights, E. K. Johnston3star

Title: A Thousand Nights

Author:  E. K. Johnston

Series? No.

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ok, so A Thousand Nights was not nearly as amazing as its perfectly stunning cover.  However, aside from its slow, meandering plot, the books had several merits and I would not hesitate to recommend it if your TBR is looking empty.

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Every time, the story began the same way. Lo-Melkhiin picked one girl and took her back to his qasr to be his wife. Some in his keeping lasted one night, some as many as thirty, but in the end all were food for sand-crows.

A fairy tale retelling of 1001 Nights, this story follows an unnamed narrator, who volunteered as tribute when Lo-Melkhiin visits her village to save her ‘sister’.  Like Scheherazade before her, she finds herself surviving the ordeal beyond the first night, and begins to work at ending the cycle of violence.

The Writing:  An Abundance In Purple Proses

I think the most memorable thing about this book is its writing, for better or for worse. The writing in A Thousand Nights is very descriptive, sometimes excessively so.  I understand that the author was going for the whimsical feel of an old tale, but I felt the writing missed the mark on several occasions.  There are times when I think the similes or writing conventions used bordered on pretentious.  This is coming from someone who unabashedly love a bit of purple prose – so if you already have an aversion to these kinds of writing, I think it’s best you stay away.  Here’s the most ridiculous passage in this book:

In the fire of our twelfth summer, before we were proficient enough with our needles to stitch the purple cloth, but after we had come in from the herds, my mother and my sister’s mother told us the story of our father’s father’s father, and how he had become our smallgod.

*dies a little*  Aside from the antagonist, Lo-Melkhiin, barely anyone else in this book has a name.  So we have crazy things like father’s father’s father and mother’s mother’s mother flying around.  Again, I know the effect the book was trying to achieve, but I couldn’t helo feeling it was so contrived.  I do have to admit that on occasions when the writing does pull off its ambitious and luscious proses, the effect is quite gorgeous, here are some of my favourite examples:

Where our skin touched, there was a fire of a different kind.  I thought I could see it, threads of gold and blue, desert sand and desert sky, bleeding from my body into his.

No single tale that I could draw from would save my sister from a short and cruel marriage, but I had pieces aplenty. I held them in my hands like so many grains of sand, and they slipped from me, running through my fingers, even as I tried to gather more. But I knew sand… I knew that I had only to hold it for long enough, to find the right kind of fire, and the sand would harden into glass- into something I could use.

2. The Scheherazade:  A Female Centric Tale

I had long ago resigned to a life in the shadow of my sister, my elder by ten moons and my year-twin. She was the beauty, I was the spare.

Instead of being focused on the romantic aspect of the story, like The Wrath and The Dawn, this book highlight the friendship between the narrator and her sister.  Even when she is taken to Lo-Melkhiin’s qsar, the narrator’s thoughts remain on her sister and how to keep her safe.  I love that the stories she tells Lo-Melkhiin are ones of her sister, of how beautiful and bright she burns, and of how he shall never have her.  There’s in fact no real focus on romance at all, which is refreshing to see – but fresh off the high of The Wrath and The Dawn, it did make me mourn for what could have been.

I enjoyed the mythology hinted at in the novel, especially one involving the devotion of friends or family turning someone into a smallgod, capable of small miracles.  Demons also make an appearance in the novel, though I felt that the supernatural element of the story was never fully fleshed out.  We see the narrator hallucinate, literally weaving visions out of cloth, but we are never quite told how it happens.  I wish the book wasn’t so wishy-washy about the magical aspect of the story, as it took up quite a bit of the text.

3.  The Pacing:  Slow and Directionless

Honestly, the most disappointing aspect of this novel is the turtle pacing of the plot.  As soon as the narrator reaches the qasr, all kind of action stagnated.  She spends her day shuffling from gardens, to weaving room, to servant’s quarter, all relatively uneventful.  Aside from her seemingly random vision, nothing was driving the story forward.  We were made aware there’s a menacing presence lurking within Lo-Melkhiin, however neither it nor the narrator made any real effort to challenge the other person.  I was bored to tears in between the long winded descriptions and the stasis of the plot.  Hence, despite the GORGEOUS cover and palatable writing, I can’t rate it higher than a 3 stars out of 5.


If you’re looking for an excellent 1001 Nights retelling, go read In The Night Garden by Catherynne Valente instead.  If you’re looking for a romantic story in s similar setting, just go read The Wrath and The Dawn.  I’d save this one for a rainy day.

Book Review: The Accident Season

The Accident Season

5star

Title:  The Accident Season

Author:  Moira Fowley-Doyle

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Series? No

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The Accident Season was a bit of a surprise for me, I didn’t expect it to bowl me over and delight me in EVERY way possible. I eagerly read every beautiful, haunting sentence. I craved its slight dark and off-kilter spin on reality. I laughed, cried, and loved along with all of the main characters. It’s a story about a family curse, with a big fat highlight on the family, identity, and the memories which define us.
Review-The-Accident-Season

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

Every October, Cara and the rest of her family suffers through the inexplicable accident season. Around every corner, tragedies of every size awaits them: from the little, such as a landslide of hardbacks (being a book worm is, as you are all aware, a deceptively dangerous hobby) – to the large, such as the passing of their beloved uncle, Seth. This year, Cara also discovers that Elsie, a childhood friend she has lost touch with, lurks in the background of all her photos. The mystery that is the Accident Season and Elsie seem intrinsically linked, and this book follow our protagonist as they unravel the truth. Continue reading “Book Review: The Accident Season”

Read at Midnight Designs: The Wrath and The Dawn

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Today’s iPhone Wallpaper freebie feature The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.  Though my favourite 1001 Nights retelling remains In The Night Garden by Catherynne Valente (READ IT.), this series had way too many swoony, romantic quotes for me to pass up.  My boyfriend needs to start speaking like Khalid ASAP *glares*  Anyway, Shazi/Khalid is totally the OTP of the year *flails waiting for The Rose and The Dagger*!

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My soul sees its equal in you.

Quote 1:  Iphone 5 Wallpaper

Continue reading “Read at Midnight Designs: The Wrath and The Dawn”

Top Ten Tuesday: Young Adult Book Syllabus

I am so excited for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  I can’t wait to see what everyone else is going to write up. WARNING: my options are a bit contrived, eep.

Top Ten Tuesday, TTT1. If I Taught:  Psychology 101

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I Would Recommend:  All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Why:  Because it’s a startling look into depression and survivor’s guilt.

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: Young Adult Book Syllabus”

Book Review: Half A World

4-star

Title: Half  A World

Author:  Joe Abercrombie

Series?  Yes, 2 of 3

Rating: 4.5/5

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Note:  Contains spoilers for Half A King.

I loved Half A King so I was so excited to come plunging back into The Shattered Sea series.  Though the story in this book was driven by different characters, I still found the cast utterly charming in all their double-crossing and murderous glory.

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1. Awesome Female Characters

Sometimes a girl is touched by Mother War, and put among the boys in the training square, and taught to fight.

One of the things I really enjoyed about Half A King was its treatment of female characters.  The book featured ladies in position of political power, ladies who were physically strong, ladies who were mentally strong, ladies who never took a backseat to the dudes – despite the story being narrated by a male protagonist.  Half The World go one step beyond that to give us more than half a book narrated by Thorn, a veritable badass.

Now, there are many a ‘warrior princess’ type floating around in fictional universe, but Thorn is different from them all in how unabashedly crude and vicious she is. Gone are the beautiful heroine who saves the day while conquering hearts all across the land, all the while leaving not a strand of hair out of place.  Thorn will fight dirty, she will curse and kill, she will get stabbed in the cheek, all to get revel in the glory of battle. Continue reading “Book Review: Half A World”

Discussion: How Much Realism Should We Expect From Fantasy Fiction?

Dicussion-Fantasy-Realism

Though I am an eager devourer of all fantasy, I will be the first to admit that they are not all created the same.  There are times when the logic of the world building falls short.  Other times, I find that the characters act in unbelievable ways.  Even more grating, I see inaccurate portrayals of things such as culture and history being handwaved away as ‘oh, it’s a fantasy, if there’s a dragon in here why can’t xx also happen?’  I want to know what your thoughts are on realism in fantasy books, how much can this genre push the bounds in terms of believability? Continue reading “Discussion: How Much Realism Should We Expect From Fantasy Fiction?”

Book Review: Risk

3star

Title: Risk

Author: Fleur Ferris

Series? No

Rating: 3 stars

Goodreads

Book World


Twitter has a way of making me read books I would normally never pick up, I just really like participating in twitter chats!  When I heard that the newly established #bookclubaus’s August pick was Risk, I went to purchase a copy promptly.  While I really appreciated the main message in the book and ultimately found it emotionally tight, I did have a couple of problems as well.

At first, Risk starts out unnervingly like a typical high school drama – and while I love watching Mean Girls – my tolerance for this type of fiction is low in my old age.  Thankfully, the frenemy plot soon got left behind and Risk started to confront larger issues.  Risk mainly looks into the danger of catfishing and victims of internet dating scams.

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PLOT

Taylor and Sierra are best friends from childhood, they love one another, though Taylor can’t help feeling that Sierra’s life is too charmed, too perfect.  They were both approached by a charming guy on a chatroom, though he ultimately chooses to take Sierra out on a date, leaving Taylor envious and hurt.  However, the story takes a dark twist when Sierra does not return from her date.

There is nothing but overwhelming waves of grief wedged between periods of disbelief and numbness…

Continue reading “Book Review: Risk”

Book Review: The Fifth Season

5star

Title:  The Fifth Season

Author:  N. K. Jemisin

Series?  Yes. 1 of 3 (?)

Rating: 5/5 stars!!!!!

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I loved this book from the first page, and it only got better as I kept reading.  It has everything that inspires me to read: beautiful and unique writing; an intricate and dangerous fantasy world; strong characters – especially strong female characters; diverse without being all self-congratulatory…  I could go on.  AND I WILL. Right below.

This is what you must remember: the ending of one story is just the beginning of another. This has happened before, after all. People die. Old orders pass. New societies are born. When we say “the world has ended,” it’s usually a lie, because the planet is just fine. But this is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. For the last time.

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1.  STILLNESS:  The Land That Metamorphoses

Here is a land. It is ordinary, as lands go. Mountains and plateaus and canyons and river deltas, the usual. Ordinary, except for its size and its dynamism. It moves a lot, this land. Like an old man lying restlessly abed it heaves and sighs, puckers and farts, yawns and swallows. Naturally this land’s people have named it the Stillness. It is a land of quiet and bitter irony.

The book is set in Stillness, ironically named as their Earth is one that constantly changes, remolding and destroying civilisations in its wake.  The changes between Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter are trivial compared to these geographic events.  You know what the titular Fifth Season is? It’s DEATH.  Stillness has suffered through multiple iteration of The Fifth Season such as Acid Season, Boiling Season, Fungus Season, The Season of Teeth – the names alone should suggest how brutal each of these apocalyptic events were.  The story begins at the end of the world, Stillness is used to the end of the world.  I never knew geography and tectonic plates movement could be so exciting.  Father Earth is his own character in this book, at once he is great and terrible. Continue reading “Book Review: The Fifth Season”

Read This? Watch This!

Book-Tag-Read-Watch

My life isn’t entirely books, I’ll have you believe.  Watching TV is also another much favoured method of procrastination around these parts.  Thank you so much Tasha of The Bookie Monster for nominating me!

THE RULES

I.  Create five Book-TV Pairings.

II. Tag your favourite book bloggers/booktuber.

If You’ve Read:  The Demon’s Lexicon Trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan
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You Should Watch:  Supernatural

Why:  Both have scary demons, brothers who would go through hell and back for one another, and super hot dudes.  The Demon’s Lexicon also has the perks of having some awesome ladies! Who *gasp* doesn’t die.  I love you though Supernatural, mainly you, Dean *swoons*


Continue reading “Read This? Watch This!”

Book Review: Updraft

3star

Title:  Updraft

Author:  Fran Wilde

Series? Yes.  Trilogy?

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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I received a copy of this book through Netgalley and Tor in exchange for an honest review.

On paper this was everything I wanted: a unique fantasy world with a strong female cast, featuring luscious proses.  However, I was left underwhelmed and a little bored as I found it hard to connect to the main character.
Updraft Fran Wilde

SETTING:  A Song Of Wind & Bones

The city rises on the wings of Singers,
and Trader and Crafter,
Rises to the sun and wind, all together,
Never looking down

The setting is haunting and beautiful, with towered cities constructed of living bones, where a primary mode of transport are strapped-on silk wings.  The towers are all separate distinct economical entities, and it is up to Traders to fly between them to conduct businesses. Governing these towers are purportedly protecting them are is The Spire, an enigmatic organisation of Singers.  Much of the world is devoted to sky, wind, and sounds.  An ever looming threat to this civilisation are Skymouths, grotesque monsters which periodically visits the towers, bringing with them death and carnage. Continue reading “Book Review: Updraft”