The Wrath and the Dawn – Renée Ahdieh


Genre: Fantasy, YA, Historical fiction, romance

First published: May 12th 2015 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

 One life to one dawn.

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 vow 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 place 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?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end. 

Oh my. This book is so unlike anything I have read before, so I was apprehensive before reading it. Why? I do not know. It was amazing. Considering I don’t really read fantasy I loved this book. Everything about it was incredible. I need to stop rambling and start reviewing…

Renée Ahdieh is some sort of genius. The writing in this novel is perfect – her writing style is almost poetic, in a way – it’s beautiful. I was completely at ease reading this book, seeing as it’s set in a world / place so different from what I’m used to reading (being mainly a contemporary reader). I sometimes find it harder to connect with a character when the novel is written in third person, but not with this. It was like you could understand the reasons that each character had for his actions without needing them explained in detail.

Having never read and not even knowing the basic premise of A Thousand and One Nights (something I now want to read) didn’t create an issue, which I was worried about. In fact, I had no idea whatsoever as to what to expect and so I went into this book with an open mind. I did find the world enthralling, the way the souk (outdoor market), the palace and all of the locations were described created vivid images in my mind’s eye. Colour features a lot in this novel, and I didn’t realise this until afterwards. Shahrzad’s outfits are always vibrant and I could picture them clearly and I want them – they sound so beautiful!

The plot of this novel was clearly well thought out too – a lot happened, yet it was not all crammed in like some books end up being when the author wants to include too much stuff. No, this was a fast-paced intriguing plot that kept me interested throughout. It included magic where magic worked well with the plot, yet it didn’t include it unnecessarily either. I didn’t find myself getting lost when I was reading either; I knew what was happening, to which characters and in which location. Always a good thing when you get confused as easily as I do! (This is probably why I read mostly contemporaries – they’re set in a world that I know so I avoid any confusion that a fantasy world may create!)

The characters throughout this novel were likeable too, which was a good thing. Shahrzad I could imagine getting on some people’s nerves, but I really liked her and her feisty attitude. Also Khalid, although depicted as a monster, I liked him; there was something about his character that I couldn’t quite place, but I felt that there was a sort of underlying softness about him. I don’t know – I can’t really explain it!

There is something about this book that I want to talk about, something that probably shouldn’t be mentioned because this is a review of the book and writing, not the aesthetic. But this book is gorgeous. Sorry, but the cover is absolutely beautiful and at the beginning of each new chapter the first page has a border and it is just so elegant this book! The cover design (and the chapters) completely fit the location and the theme of the book and as books go – this is one of the most beautiful I own. I know, I know, but it is stunning.

If you’re still questioning whether I’d recommend this (I’d go back and read the review – the answer is in the first paragraph)… YES. Oh my days this book was amazing and it exceeded my expectations in so many ways. I can’t sing its praises enough (and not just because I can’t sing). It was captivating and magical (literally – it included magic) and just perfect. The ending was just- The only bad thing I can think about it is that the sequel is not out until 2016… A definite pre-order – I need it in my life as soon as possible.

(Easily a) 5 / 5.


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

IMG_6231Genre: Contemporary, fiction

First published: May 30th 2013 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

What if you grew up to realise that your father had used your childhood as an experiment?

Rosemary doesn’t talk very much, and about certain things she’s silent. She had a sister, Fern, her whirlwind other half, who vanished from her life in circumstances she wishes she could forget. And it’s been ten years since she last saw her beloved older brother Lowell.

Now at college, Rosemary starts to see that she can’t go forward without going back, back to the time when, aged five she was sent away from home to her grandparents and returned to find Fern gone.  

I picked this book up solely because of the reviews. And I liked the cover (don’t judge me like I judge books by their covers – I do, we all do, we just deny it). I knew absolutely nothing about it, apart from the short amount I’d read on the back cover (see above). I found the blurb (I really hate that word for some reason) intriguing and so finally picked it up one day in Waterstones.

The writing in this novel was incredible. Sometimes I found that the story was being dragged out but I didn’t want to stop reading because of the quality of the writing and I still felt drawn into the tale. Karen Joy Fowler has a way with words that makes her characters sound normal, whatever their circumstances. Yes, the writing does come across as quite blunt at times, however it is a novel written in first person and Rosemary is quite often a blunt character; she says what she wants to say and nothing more.

The novel is written in several parts, each containing at least one major event in her life. I didn’t really see the significance of the parts and to be honest, I still don’t really understand the reasoning behind them. I guess that if I reread the novel and considered it I’d realise a pattern though.

One thing that really ought to be mentioned regarding this novel is that the research behind it is clearly thorough. I don’t know what is fiction and what is fact because I am not really interested in science and psychology is not an area I’ve really ever thought about (except in a philosophy lesson when we studied Freud as a criticism to Kant’s moral argument, and psychoanalysis is not covered in this book). It’s difficult to talk about this novel though without including spoilers (which I won’t do) as there are so many plot twists and to even give a hint would ruin the entire thing.

Which leads me to talk about the plot (or not, for fear of spoilers). There are so many events in this novel that you just wouldn’t guess. Normally I would say that I’m quite good at guessing what may happen next, but with this novel, no. Nope. Did not guess. It took me completely and utterly by surprise, which was good as I haven’t been so surprised at a novel for a long, long time.

The characters I liked, although I can see why some people would hate them; they were the kind of people you either love or hate. I disliked the father though, at first for reasons I could not say – I just disliked him! Also the mother in parts I found could be irritating. However Rosemary I particularly liked, she’s an honest person and I always find that if a character is honest I like them. If they try to lie to themselves or someone else, they automatically get on my nerves.

It is quite a slow placed novel, despite the fact that a lot happens throughout it. I’m not entirely sure how to explain it. However, I did enjoy it and one way of describing it would be “thought-provoking” because it made me think… A lot. It gives you insight into something you don’t really want to know about (I won’t say because, well, spoilers) but at the same time when reading I just wanted to know more, I wanted to read the stories. Even if the tales included are made up for the benefit of the novel, there is an element of truth to them; similar things will have happened and probably will continue to happen. The main events of this story are unique or at least very uncommon, but some of the smaller events, mainly those surrounding her brother, are almost certainly the opposite.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

My Changing Reading Habits

This won’t be a long post but it was something that I wanted to talk about on here. I realise that sounds really ominous when it’s actually about something positive!

I went through a stage where I didn’t read a lot a couple of years ago. I sort of fell out of love with books and english. I just had no motivation to read and I found myself either re-reading old books or not reading at all.

This year, however, my passion (yes, that sounds cheesy. No, I don’t care) for literature and reading has resurfaced. I want to study english again at university, which I have wanted to do for years (with the exception of last year).

But why?

Well, I’d say that there are two main reasons that I love reading again, along with it being something that I have always loved anyway.

The first is that I have really good english teachers this year and the course is also better, so that could be one of the reasons that I prefer AS / A level English to GCSE.

The second is creating this blog and using it more as a place to share my opinions on books with people who are actually interested, rather than with my friends who rarely read. I have also got my youtube channel, which is another fantastic platform for talking about books with those who are interested, getting recommendations and challenging myself.

For both of these things, I am extremely grateful. Without them, I’m not sure that I would want to study english and so I would have taken a subject that in reality is not what I wanted to do most of all.