Monthly Wrap-up: June 2015

I read a total of eight books in June with two of them being over 1000 pages in length. Before this past month I had not read even one book over 1000 pages long so I consider this an accomplishment even if the books didn’t feel 1000 pages long because of how much I enjoyed them. Five of the books I read were YA fiction, and three were adult fiction. All fell into the fantasy genre. Five were high fantasy, and three were dystopian with a paranormal twist.

June was one of my most reading intensive months this year, if not the most so far. Sure, eight books is not the highest number I’ve read, but it’s close and some of the books I read in June were also incredibly long.

In terms of writing I didn’t post very much last month due to the fact that all I wanted to do was read. This is specifically true of my blog since I did manage to write around 5,000 words of my current work in progress, but didn’t manage to keep up my goal of posting at least once per week. Throughout July I’ll be participating in Camp National Novel Writing Month so all the reviews for the amazing books I read but didn’t write about last month may have to wait as I try to focus on finishing my current manuscript, but I do plan on reviewing at least a few more of the ones I’ve read eventually.

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

Short Synopsis: Conclusion to Brandon Sanderson’s original Mistborn trilogy.

Thoughts: This was a really great end to a trilogy. I had a few minor problems with it, but those were mostly subjective. Mistborn may well become one of my favorite series depending on my thoughts of the new continuation books.

Rating:

 five blue jays

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehShort Synopsis: A man marries a new woman everyday to kill her at dawn. Shahrahzad agrees to marry him so she can kill the man and end the cycle.

Thoughts: I had a few, mostly nit-picky, issues but overall this was very enjoyable. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa TahirShort Synopsis: The most promising aspirant in his class tries to find a way out of doing the terrible things his empire asks of him. Meanwhile, a slave girl infiltrates the compound where he goes to school in order to save her brother.

Thoughts: I have some conflicted feelings about this book, but am giving it a relatively high rating because it was extremely addictive and left me wanting more.

Rating:

 4 blue jays

The Way of Kings by Brandon SandersonShort Synopsis: Kaladin was a prominent young squad leader in an army until one day he was sold into slavery. Now forced into the position of bridgeman, considered the worst position in the army because it has the highest death rate, Kaladin struggles to protect the lives of those around him.

Meanwhile, a girl named Shallan tries to steal one of a princess’s most valuable possessions to save her family from financial ruin and Highprince Dalinar tries to make sense of his strange visions.
Thoughts: This book was very good, but due to it’s length this is the book that took me the longest to read this month. It follows the stories of several different characters, many of whom never meet in this novel, and at times it could be a little hard to remember which perspective I was reading from, but the formatting really helped with that. The world building was some of the most unique and well developed I’ve read. Overall this book was long, but amazing and worth it.

Rating: 

five blue jays

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Short Synopsis: The second book in the Stormlight Archive and the sequel to The Way of Kings.

Thoughts: This book might have been over 1000 pages long, but I read it in about four days because I was just so invested in the story and loving the way it came together. I can’t wait for book three to be released next July.

Rating:

five blue jays

The Immortal Rules by Julie KagawaThe Eternity Cure by Julie KagawaThe Forever Song by Julie Kagawa

Short Synopsis: In a dystopian future where vampires rule and humans are herded like cattle our main character must chose between true death and becoming the thing she hates most: a vampire. The entire Blood of Eden Trilogy.

Thoughts: I wasn’t expecting to like this one and actually started reading the first book because I was hoping to read something that wouldn’t distract from my writing, but ended up really enjoying it and reading the entire trilogy in three days.

Rating:

4 blue jays

(series rating)

Currently reading:

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The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh 4 Stars

18798983Title: The Wrath and the Dawn

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Publication date: May 12, 2015

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Retelling, Romance

Synopsis:.Everyday a brings new bride and every dawn brings their death. For unknown reasons, Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan, marries a new woman each day before having her executed at dawn and repeating the cycle a new. Among the victims was Shahrahzad’s best friend and she is determined to avenge her death.

Shahrahzad has volunteered to marry the Caliph for the opportunity to get close to the Caliph. It was Shahrahzad’s plan to kill the Caliph, but as she speaks with him Shahrazad realizes the Caliph is not who she thought he was. All the same, Shahrahzad is determined to put an end to the murders. She will survive the dawn.

Review: I read this book directly after finishing The Hero of Ages (The conclusion to Brandon Sanderson’s original Mistborn Trilogy). After enjoying that book so thoroughly and knowing this one was high fantasy, I went into this expecting to be disappointed. Fortunately,  I instead found this to be an engaging, interesting read.

This book is a retelling of 1001 Nights. I was not very familiar with the story line of 1001 Nights, so I can’t judge the quality of the adaptation, but this story made me interested in reading the original work. This retelling focuses on the ongoing plot linking the many stories within 1001 Nights together.

Our main character, Shahrzad, is a very determined young woman and remained so throughout. I liked that she never let Khalid, the Caliph, scare her into submission although she was scared at times for good reason. She also never forgot what Khalid had done or entirely forgave him even as she started spending more time with him. This is something I can’t say about a lot of YA characters and it makes me appreciate Shahrzad even more for it. The retelling didn’t put much emphasis on the stories Shahrazad told during the night, and I’ll admit I found myself skimming through them when they were incorporated as the contents of the stories told didn’t hold much influence in this particular retelling as a whole besides distracting Khalid and making him think.

Although I really enjoyed this, there were some elements that kept me from rating it higher. Every character in this book seems to have their own unique eye color. While the author may have intended to use this as a way for the reader to better differentiate between characters, and this fixation on eye colors is fairly common in novels, I found it extremely annoying. Overall, however, the writing was very good: just the right balance of poetic but not too poetic.

Shahrzad gave the impression that she had planned and expected to distract the Caliph. Much of what she did seemed improvised and I’m surprised she didn’t know more about the Caliph before going in. This made the story a little unbelievable for me, but I guess the author was trying to use the fact that desperation can make people act irrationally as justification.

The love triangle is something else I could have done without. It’s clear who Shahrzed is going to end up with, and so I view it as rather pointless. However, I can see that the author added it to create tension, and it doesn’t bother me as much as it does in many other books. The magic system was also barely touched on. I would have liked to see more of it.

While I was reading this I was trying to place it in history due to references of a few real world countries/cultural elements. The religious references in particular left me confused as the characters would appear to worship the Greek gods but the story seems to take place in the Middle East. Though I think the author might have simply had Shahrzad pick up on terms that implied she worshiped the Greek gods as she grew into a friendship with a Greek serving girl.

What Readers Should Know: Sex is mentioned and there scenes where sex was implied, but this wasn’t explicit or frequent. The characters involved were married. There was the use of the occasional curse word, but it was not frequent. There was no gory violence, but there were mentions of the Caliphs past murders, attempts at murders, and practice with weapons.

Rating: The pacing and overall writing of this book was well done, and I liked that it was set in a fantasy world that did not resemble Medieval Europe as I haven’t read nearly enough fantasy novels where the setting didn’t, but there were too many minor issues I had with it for me to give it higher than a four.

4 blue jays