Image Slider

Favorite Blog Designs

10.09.2015
I think by now we've all agreed that blog designs are pretty important. Not the most important, but if I can't read your posts because it's black font on a white background and my eyes are burning, well, then I'm not going to be reading your blog.

Of course, everyone has their own styles and tastes. I prefer muted colors and slightly more minimalistic themes while others like bolder colors and more elaborate designs. I've also found that I abhor the colors yellow and orange a lot of the time. (Which is totally unfortunate, considering my current design.) And personally, I prefer blogs with only one sidebar instead of two because I'm so easily distracted. But obviously, the point is that the blogger likes their own design. These are just a few of the ones I've come across so far that I really love.

Please keep in mind that this! is just! my! opinion! And there are plenty of blogs that have awesome designs that I maybe just haven't seen yet/can't remember right now!



This is an example of the times when I actually do like the bolder colors. I think the logo is adorable and basically love everything about this design!



There's just something that feels so unique about Kelly's design! I love how it all fits together so well.

ARC Review: Nameless

10.08.2015
Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins
Published: October 6th, 2015 by Month9books
Source: Publisher
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected the opinions stated below.

Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.

Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a Healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the “nameless.” Hers is a suicide mission – Zo’s despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe.

What she doesn’t expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty and love are more complicated than she ever imagined in the first installment of this two-book series.

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

I will start off saying that I zipped through Nameless, especially when you consider my reading speed since classes started. I won't lie, though. It was definitely disappointing, but from what I've seen I seem to be the minority there. I was expecting a dangerous, heart-pounding spy mission. I was expecting this rich history between the clans and their feuding. And I didn't really get any of it.

That's not to say there wasn't any history or background given. But these "brutal war tactics" that keep them on top? I dunno, I didn't really see any of it outside of their own walls. I couldn't really see why they were on top. It's hard to explain, because they definitely are brutal - you see that in the games they play, the way they force Nameless to fight young Rams who take pride in their kill. Beatings are not uncommon, and the Nameless are slaves. There's nothing astoundingly original about it to me, and I never really felt immersed in the world, but I will say their brutality felt authentic. Which is kind of contradictory to what I just said, but I think the point I'm trying to make is that I didn't see any true reason for all this tension and fighting between clans. There appears to be food shortages and such, but I guess I didn't really see or feel the kind of despair of a shortage that would cause this magnitude of tension. DOES ANY OF THAT MAKE SENSE?

As I was saying, I wish the world-building had just been . . . more. We hardly see or even really hear about the other clans besides the Ram. How do their societies differ from the Ram? What are their people really like? What is their territory, their climate? I WANT TO KNOW.

When it comes to the characters, I mentioned earlier that I expected a lot more from the spy aspect. Still, it's interesting to see Zo hide among the Nameless, to see how she's treated differently than the others because she's a Healer. It's something that she really struggles with - using the abilities her mother taught her to heal members of the Ram, the clan she absolutely wants to defeat. And she's certainly got a lot to lose here - namely, her younger sister. I just wish there had been some more, you know, actual spying.

Gryphon, too, struggles with his loyalties. He fell a bit flat for me, but I did like how conflicted he was. He was firm but willing to bend the rules of everything he'd ever known to do what he thought was right. (Though how ANYONE ever believes that stuff is right is beyond me, but I can't really speak for fantasy worlds.)

As for the connection between him and Zo? It definitely didn't go too fast, and I didn't feel as if it was agonizingly slow and drawn out, either. There certainly was a connection present, and I could appreciate it, but I didn't . . . intensely ship it? I think Blue and Gansey have just ruined other YA ships for me for life. But I think it's something a lot of people would like. Somehow, despite their different beliefs, their different clans, the danger, it's a simple, barely-there romance.

tl;dr: The writing isn't bogged down; instead, it's light and easy and quick. I wish there had been more background on the clans and the entire world, really, and although I wasn't totally invested in the characters, I did read Nameless rather quickly and think it's a fun story. 3 stars.


ARC Review: Illuminae

10.06.2015
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Expected Publication: October 20th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: Traded (ARC)

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

It took me a long time to write this review. It's so, so hard to put into words how incredible and gripping this book really is.

So I'm just going to start by saying that Illuminae is the coolest fucking book I have ever read. Which is probably no surprise, since the synopsis itself talks about how the entire book is written through hacked documents and such. But I didn't know it was going to be this cool. There are IMs, journal entries, audio transcripts, data from the AI's POV, artwork, and so much more. And it works. It works so, so well.

I think the data from the AI was my favorite, to be honest. I LOVED Kady and Ezra's conversations, but there was so much artwork involved in the AI stuff. Everyone who worked on this book deserves a round of applause. HOW DID THIS EVEN HAPPEN? I was constantly amazed by the detail that went into this.

ARC Review: First & Then

10.05.2015
First & Then by Emma Mills
Expected Publication: October 13th, 2015 by Henry Holt and co.
Source: NetGalley
*I received an eARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected the opinions stated below.
Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.


 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg
When I read First & Then, I was on a HUGE contemporary kick. I couldn't read more than four pages of a fantasy without wanting to dropkick it out the window. (Which is, you know, ridiculous, because fantasy is my favorite genre but I'm writing this and it's 95 degrees out so maybe I am just IN A MOOD.)

In my opinion, First & Then isn't a hugely powerful story, nor is it a hugely heartwarming one (though my poor little heart may have felt a little squeezed sometimes). But it's a quick read, it's enjoyable, it's quiet, it's got heart. Primarily in the relationship that Devon shares with her cousin, Foster. 

Foster's a bit of a weird kid. He's suddenly been thrown into their lives because he can no longer live with his own family. Devon, seventeen, doesn't particularly want to be in a PE class filled with freshmen, but it's even harder when she sees that fourteen year old Foster is there, too. At first, Devon just wants Foster to be normal and fit in because she thinks he'll be happier. Over the course of the book, she really learns about Foster. That there's nothing wrong with him the way he is. That he's actually a pretty cool kid - a pretty cool kid who's basically a brother now. And what I really loved? He's just Foster. And he's happy to be that way, confident in who he is.

And Foster's got a secret - he can kick. He can kick a field goal better than anyone on the varsity football team. (I don't think he actually did field goals. Whatever he did got one extra point, not three, but IT'S BEEN A VERY LONG TIME SINCE I'VE BEEN TO A FOOTBALL GAME SO WE'RE GOING TO ROLL WITH IT. Maybe he does field goals too? I honestly couldn't tell you.) And of course, who better to help him out than the quiet and brooding star player of the team?

Ezra and Devon had me grinning widely quite often. Ezra is not a man of many words, and so their sometimes awkward interactions made me feel weirdly giddy. There was so much realistic hesitance and uncertainty there, and they were definitely more on the slow burn side. Which gave their slightly uneasy friendship more time develop, and okay basically I LOVED IT.

And Devon? She's got voice. It's a wonderful and unique narration to read from. Yes, she's one of those characters who discusses how average/ordinary she is. But I had no problem with it, because she was so similar to how I was senior year. Unsure of what colleges to even apply to, feeling like she had absolutely nothing to put on her applications or resume. But she grows in that way that I think only high school seniors can and sort of comes into her own.

And also finally grows out of her longtime crush on Cas, the best friend who didn't really seem much like a best friend at all for most of the book. He makes a pretty big asshole move at one point, and I really wish there had been more resolution with this. I think Devon deserved that.

tl;dr: Devon's voice is so, so good that I would probably read about paint drying from her POV. (That's a little drastic. But you get the idea.) Ezra and Devon were CUTE CUTE CUTE and both a little awkward in the best way possible, and fourteen year old Foster is the kind of kid I wish I could have been. 4 stars.


ARC Review: A Thousand Nights

10.01.2015
A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston
Expected Publication:  October 6th, 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: NetGalley
*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected the opinions stated below. 
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister's place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin's court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg
I'd definitely already heard a lot of mixed things before I started A Thousand Nights. And I'd actually started it a lot earlier than intended, but THAT COVER, YOU GUYS. THAT COVER.

The thing about A Thousand Nights, for me, is that it felt like both nothing and everything was happening at the same time. Nothing in terms of the actual plot; our heroine - who doesn't even have a name! - spends most of the book simply doing things and speaking to people in Lo-Melkhiin's palace and it feels as if nothing is progressing. Meanwhile, it feels like everything is happening because our narrator often goes off into tangents about tales she's been told of the smallgods or thoughts/sort of flashbacks about her sister and her family. I found these to be very interesting, particularly because of the way they were written - it's the kind of beautiful writing that legends and myths should be written in. But this was, at times, very hard to get through. And very easy to start skimming without even noticing. 

Don't get me wrong, all the little stories could be very interesting, and they gave a FANTASTIC glimpse at the heroine's life before all this and the kind of world they live in. All too often, we don't get very much in the way of backstory, so this was appreciated. But A Thousand Nights could be very light on the dialogue, which is something I struggled with. 

That said, I think the world-building here was fantastic. I felt so immersed in the world, and it was definitely a breathtaking one. (Not as breathtaking as that cover, though.) There were so many little details - whether they be about her family or stories of Lo-Melkhiin or of other people in the palace, such as the man who carved stone. This story had the potential to just play at being whimsical but never commit to it and throw you into a very unbelievable world, but that's absolutely not what happened. All those tiny little details added up to create a true fantasy world. 

While most of the plot often felt very slow, the last 15% or so felt like it moved far too fast. I can't get into details about it because it would be the mother of all spoilers, basically, but I think if this had been stretched out more and started earlier in the book, I would have been much happier. And I do wish we had seen a little bit more AFTER the climax of the book, but I understand why there wasn't. I just think it would have been really interesting to see a little more.

Lo-Melkhiin is such an interesting character. We get glimpses into his head and it's unlike most things I've read, so that was fun. And I really appreciated our heroine and her quiet defiance. She's not trying to lead a rebellion or take down an empire. She's just trying to protect her sister, and the bravery she has is so incredible. She doesn't need to be afraid of Lo-Melkhiin, because she knows what he's going to do to her, and she accepted that the second she decided to trick him into taking her as a wife instead of her sister. 

Overall: Beautifully and artistically written, A Thousand Nights is a very mystical story. However, I did find that it dragged quite a bit and found myself skimming more often than I would like. I think it's definitely something to check out if you like legends and gorgeous writing. 3.5 stars.



10.09.2015

Favorite Blog Designs

I think by now we've all agreed that blog designs are pretty important. Not the most important, but if I can't read your posts because it's black font on a white background and my eyes are burning, well, then I'm not going to be reading your blog.

Of course, everyone has their own styles and tastes. I prefer muted colors and slightly more minimalistic themes while others like bolder colors and more elaborate designs. I've also found that I abhor the colors yellow and orange a lot of the time. (Which is totally unfortunate, considering my current design.) And personally, I prefer blogs with only one sidebar instead of two because I'm so easily distracted. But obviously, the point is that the blogger likes their own design. These are just a few of the ones I've come across so far that I really love.

Please keep in mind that this! is just! my! opinion! And there are plenty of blogs that have awesome designs that I maybe just haven't seen yet/can't remember right now!



This is an example of the times when I actually do like the bolder colors. I think the logo is adorable and basically love everything about this design!



There's just something that feels so unique about Kelly's design! I love how it all fits together so well.

10.08.2015

ARC Review: Nameless

Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins
Published: October 6th, 2015 by Month9books
Source: Publisher
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected the opinions stated below.

Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.

Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a Healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the “nameless.” Hers is a suicide mission – Zo’s despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe.

What she doesn’t expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty and love are more complicated than she ever imagined in the first installment of this two-book series.

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

I will start off saying that I zipped through Nameless, especially when you consider my reading speed since classes started. I won't lie, though. It was definitely disappointing, but from what I've seen I seem to be the minority there. I was expecting a dangerous, heart-pounding spy mission. I was expecting this rich history between the clans and their feuding. And I didn't really get any of it.

That's not to say there wasn't any history or background given. But these "brutal war tactics" that keep them on top? I dunno, I didn't really see any of it outside of their own walls. I couldn't really see why they were on top. It's hard to explain, because they definitely are brutal - you see that in the games they play, the way they force Nameless to fight young Rams who take pride in their kill. Beatings are not uncommon, and the Nameless are slaves. There's nothing astoundingly original about it to me, and I never really felt immersed in the world, but I will say their brutality felt authentic. Which is kind of contradictory to what I just said, but I think the point I'm trying to make is that I didn't see any true reason for all this tension and fighting between clans. There appears to be food shortages and such, but I guess I didn't really see or feel the kind of despair of a shortage that would cause this magnitude of tension. DOES ANY OF THAT MAKE SENSE?

As I was saying, I wish the world-building had just been . . . more. We hardly see or even really hear about the other clans besides the Ram. How do their societies differ from the Ram? What are their people really like? What is their territory, their climate? I WANT TO KNOW.

When it comes to the characters, I mentioned earlier that I expected a lot more from the spy aspect. Still, it's interesting to see Zo hide among the Nameless, to see how she's treated differently than the others because she's a Healer. It's something that she really struggles with - using the abilities her mother taught her to heal members of the Ram, the clan she absolutely wants to defeat. And she's certainly got a lot to lose here - namely, her younger sister. I just wish there had been some more, you know, actual spying.

Gryphon, too, struggles with his loyalties. He fell a bit flat for me, but I did like how conflicted he was. He was firm but willing to bend the rules of everything he'd ever known to do what he thought was right. (Though how ANYONE ever believes that stuff is right is beyond me, but I can't really speak for fantasy worlds.)

As for the connection between him and Zo? It definitely didn't go too fast, and I didn't feel as if it was agonizingly slow and drawn out, either. There certainly was a connection present, and I could appreciate it, but I didn't . . . intensely ship it? I think Blue and Gansey have just ruined other YA ships for me for life. But I think it's something a lot of people would like. Somehow, despite their different beliefs, their different clans, the danger, it's a simple, barely-there romance.

tl;dr: The writing isn't bogged down; instead, it's light and easy and quick. I wish there had been more background on the clans and the entire world, really, and although I wasn't totally invested in the characters, I did read Nameless rather quickly and think it's a fun story. 3 stars.


10.06.2015

ARC Review: Illuminae

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Expected Publication: October 20th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: Traded (ARC)

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

It took me a long time to write this review. It's so, so hard to put into words how incredible and gripping this book really is.

So I'm just going to start by saying that Illuminae is the coolest fucking book I have ever read. Which is probably no surprise, since the synopsis itself talks about how the entire book is written through hacked documents and such. But I didn't know it was going to be this cool. There are IMs, journal entries, audio transcripts, data from the AI's POV, artwork, and so much more. And it works. It works so, so well.

I think the data from the AI was my favorite, to be honest. I LOVED Kady and Ezra's conversations, but there was so much artwork involved in the AI stuff. Everyone who worked on this book deserves a round of applause. HOW DID THIS EVEN HAPPEN? I was constantly amazed by the detail that went into this.

10.05.2015

ARC Review: First & Then

First & Then by Emma Mills
Expected Publication: October 13th, 2015 by Henry Holt and co.
Source: NetGalley
*I received an eARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected the opinions stated below.
Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.


 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg
When I read First & Then, I was on a HUGE contemporary kick. I couldn't read more than four pages of a fantasy without wanting to dropkick it out the window. (Which is, you know, ridiculous, because fantasy is my favorite genre but I'm writing this and it's 95 degrees out so maybe I am just IN A MOOD.)

In my opinion, First & Then isn't a hugely powerful story, nor is it a hugely heartwarming one (though my poor little heart may have felt a little squeezed sometimes). But it's a quick read, it's enjoyable, it's quiet, it's got heart. Primarily in the relationship that Devon shares with her cousin, Foster. 

Foster's a bit of a weird kid. He's suddenly been thrown into their lives because he can no longer live with his own family. Devon, seventeen, doesn't particularly want to be in a PE class filled with freshmen, but it's even harder when she sees that fourteen year old Foster is there, too. At first, Devon just wants Foster to be normal and fit in because she thinks he'll be happier. Over the course of the book, she really learns about Foster. That there's nothing wrong with him the way he is. That he's actually a pretty cool kid - a pretty cool kid who's basically a brother now. And what I really loved? He's just Foster. And he's happy to be that way, confident in who he is.

And Foster's got a secret - he can kick. He can kick a field goal better than anyone on the varsity football team. (I don't think he actually did field goals. Whatever he did got one extra point, not three, but IT'S BEEN A VERY LONG TIME SINCE I'VE BEEN TO A FOOTBALL GAME SO WE'RE GOING TO ROLL WITH IT. Maybe he does field goals too? I honestly couldn't tell you.) And of course, who better to help him out than the quiet and brooding star player of the team?

Ezra and Devon had me grinning widely quite often. Ezra is not a man of many words, and so their sometimes awkward interactions made me feel weirdly giddy. There was so much realistic hesitance and uncertainty there, and they were definitely more on the slow burn side. Which gave their slightly uneasy friendship more time develop, and okay basically I LOVED IT.

And Devon? She's got voice. It's a wonderful and unique narration to read from. Yes, she's one of those characters who discusses how average/ordinary she is. But I had no problem with it, because she was so similar to how I was senior year. Unsure of what colleges to even apply to, feeling like she had absolutely nothing to put on her applications or resume. But she grows in that way that I think only high school seniors can and sort of comes into her own.

And also finally grows out of her longtime crush on Cas, the best friend who didn't really seem much like a best friend at all for most of the book. He makes a pretty big asshole move at one point, and I really wish there had been more resolution with this. I think Devon deserved that.

tl;dr: Devon's voice is so, so good that I would probably read about paint drying from her POV. (That's a little drastic. But you get the idea.) Ezra and Devon were CUTE CUTE CUTE and both a little awkward in the best way possible, and fourteen year old Foster is the kind of kid I wish I could have been. 4 stars.


10.01.2015

ARC Review: A Thousand Nights

A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston
Expected Publication:  October 6th, 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: NetGalley
*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected the opinions stated below. 
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister's place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin's court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg
I'd definitely already heard a lot of mixed things before I started A Thousand Nights. And I'd actually started it a lot earlier than intended, but THAT COVER, YOU GUYS. THAT COVER.

The thing about A Thousand Nights, for me, is that it felt like both nothing and everything was happening at the same time. Nothing in terms of the actual plot; our heroine - who doesn't even have a name! - spends most of the book simply doing things and speaking to people in Lo-Melkhiin's palace and it feels as if nothing is progressing. Meanwhile, it feels like everything is happening because our narrator often goes off into tangents about tales she's been told of the smallgods or thoughts/sort of flashbacks about her sister and her family. I found these to be very interesting, particularly because of the way they were written - it's the kind of beautiful writing that legends and myths should be written in. But this was, at times, very hard to get through. And very easy to start skimming without even noticing. 

Don't get me wrong, all the little stories could be very interesting, and they gave a FANTASTIC glimpse at the heroine's life before all this and the kind of world they live in. All too often, we don't get very much in the way of backstory, so this was appreciated. But A Thousand Nights could be very light on the dialogue, which is something I struggled with. 

That said, I think the world-building here was fantastic. I felt so immersed in the world, and it was definitely a breathtaking one. (Not as breathtaking as that cover, though.) There were so many little details - whether they be about her family or stories of Lo-Melkhiin or of other people in the palace, such as the man who carved stone. This story had the potential to just play at being whimsical but never commit to it and throw you into a very unbelievable world, but that's absolutely not what happened. All those tiny little details added up to create a true fantasy world. 

While most of the plot often felt very slow, the last 15% or so felt like it moved far too fast. I can't get into details about it because it would be the mother of all spoilers, basically, but I think if this had been stretched out more and started earlier in the book, I would have been much happier. And I do wish we had seen a little bit more AFTER the climax of the book, but I understand why there wasn't. I just think it would have been really interesting to see a little more.

Lo-Melkhiin is such an interesting character. We get glimpses into his head and it's unlike most things I've read, so that was fun. And I really appreciated our heroine and her quiet defiance. She's not trying to lead a rebellion or take down an empire. She's just trying to protect her sister, and the bravery she has is so incredible. She doesn't need to be afraid of Lo-Melkhiin, because she knows what he's going to do to her, and she accepted that the second she decided to trick him into taking her as a wife instead of her sister. 

Overall: Beautifully and artistically written, A Thousand Nights is a very mystical story. However, I did find that it dragged quite a bit and found myself skimming more often than I would like. I think it's definitely something to check out if you like legends and gorgeous writing. 3.5 stars.