review: the wrath and the dawn

the wrath and the dawnTitle: The Wrath and the Dawn
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Published in 2015
Genre: retelling
Rating: ★★★ – it was okay

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 vows 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. 

my thoughts on june 19

The Wrath and the Dawn had been on my to-read list since its release in 2015. It was one of the most hyped book in the bookish community at the time, and as always, the hype scared me. I kept putting it off because I didn’t want to end up disappointed. High expectations can really kill a reading experience, which seems rather unfair to the novel. After about 4 years and seeing some mixed reviews pop up, I decided it was finally time to read it. Unfortunately, I still found it to be a disappointing read.

The premise makes it seem like an epic read. Shahrzad volunteers to be the King’s wife, even though he kills them come morning. One of his past brides that was killed was Shahrzad’s best friend, and she is determined to get revenge. Doesn’t that sound incredible?

Unfortunately, this book fell flat for me. Shahrzad hates the king (obviously), who has killed countless of women after marrying them – including her best friend. This level of hatred, these things he has done, you cannot overcome. What I wanted from this book was a revenge story. Yet only a few days after she comes to the palace (I can’t exactly remember how long it took), Shahrzad begins to waver. She starts to notice how handsome the king is, and just doesn’t understand how he could have done such monstrous things. Because we all know attractive people are inherently nice… With every little tiny act of kindness, she proclaims he can’t be a monster after all.

Listen, girl. Killers aren’t going on a rampage every single second. A person can be perfectly charming and kind, and still murder others. They are not mutually exclusive! I hated how fast she gave up on hating him, how their “love” story developed in .2 seconds, and how she seemed to forgive him for everything. I just couldn’t deal.

Let’s be honest, this was a case of insta-love. She hated him, sure. However, after being kind of nice to her for 2 days, she was ready to throw it all away to be with him. I found myself rolling my eyes for the majority of the book, because it just seemed so unrealistic and ridiculous to me.

Of course, I knew there would be a romance in this story, an enemies-to-lovers one. I didn’t expect it to develop so fast though. That took me out of the story, and made me genuinely disinterested in reading it.

For the life of me, I can’t remember what happened in this novel aside from the romance between the two main characters. The only other person I can recall is Tariq, a character I actually enjoyed. He should have ended up with the girl, in my opinion. I guess that could still happen, because I haven’t read the sequel, but I highly doubt it.

Lastly, let’s talk about the reveal on why Khalid kills his brides every morning. Obviously, I won’t spoil what the big secret is, in case you haven’t read it. When I came across the reveal, I honestly couldn’t believe it. It made me so angry, to be honest. If you’ve read this book come talk to me on Twitter in the DMs, because I need to discuss this with you all. To me, this was such an obvious ploy to make Khalid seem more likeable, and I hated it.

All in all, this book just wasn’t for me. The romance killed what could have been an epic read for me. I simply lost interest in the story, and won’t pick up the sequel.

 

using kindle samples to test my tbr, part one

This post is inspired by my try a chapter posts, as well as by Inge – who is a wonderful human being and part of the Of Wonderland team. The past few years, I’ve created a habit of buying books on my Kindle because they are cheap and never actually reading them. There are now quite a few unread ebooks on there, and it’s stressing me out. Then, a few months ago in our Twitter group chat, Inge mentioned that she’d be downloading a Kindle sample of a book she was interested in.

It blew my mind. How had I completely forgotten about the existence of Kindle samples? It would save me so much money and stress if I learned to try out a sample before buying anything. That brings me to today’s post.

I have downloaded Kindle samples of every book that is on my to-read or interested-in-reading list. The only ones that I did not consider for this test are sequels to books I love, novels that haven’t been released yet, and ones that are unavailable on Kindle. Today, I’m going to pick 5 random books off this list, read the samples, and decide whether it’s a book I want to buy or whether it’s one to remove off the TBR.

If this works out the way I want it to, the Kindle samples test should a) lower my TBR, b) save me money, and c) help me make smarter purchases.

madness in civilization: the cultural history of insanity

madness in civilization

Through twelve chapters organized chronologically, from antiquity to today, from the Bible to Freud, from exorcism to mesmerism, from Bedlam to Victorian asylums, from the theory of humours to modern pharmacology, Andrew Scull writes compellingly of the manifestations of madness, its meanings, its consequences and our attempts to treat it.

my thoughts on the sample

While this was a very interesting introduction to the book, I don’t think I will purchase it at the moment. It is a nonfiction book I would want to pick up at some point in time, but I don’t see myself getting to it in the coming year or two. Therefore, it shouldn’t be added to my shelf just yet. I’ll leave it on my to-read shelf on Goodreads, but I’ll mark it as a not-to-buy in my Google Sheet.

darius the great is not okay

darius the great is not okayDarius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. 

my thoughts on the sample

Darius the Great Is Not Okay is going on my to-buy list immediately. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll buy a hard copy of this book or listen to the audiobook instead, but I’m going to pick this up and read it this year. In the short amount of the novel I read, there were a lot of mentions of tea and Lord of the Rings, which makes it sound like the perfect book for me. I feel like Darius’ voice is one I’ll really enjoy reading from, and I do love family-oriented novels.

one word kill

one word killIn January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

my thoughts on the sample

The sample was definitely not what I expected, but I find myself intrigued nonetheless. I don’t actually know all that much about One Word Kill, other than it being a science fiction novel written by Mark Lawrence, and that the entire trilogy will be released in 2019. I’m pretty sure the first book and sequel were released within a month of one another? Anyway, from the sample I now that it’s 1986 and Nick has just been diagnosed with leukemia. The science fiction elements haven’t come into play yet, so this could have been the introduction of a contemporary novel if I hadn’t known better. I’m adding this to the to-buy list because I think it’s fascinating to have a main character who is suffering from cancer and is the hero (I presume) of a science fiction story at the same time.

dracul

draculThe prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s–and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.

my thoughts on the sample

I’m not sure what I was expecting from Dracul, but I hoped it would be spooky, atmospheric, and mysterious. The sample was none of that. In all honesty, it was quite boring. It’s about Bram Stoker’s life, and the first few chapters or so talk about him as a sickly child. No one knows what ailed him, and the disease disappeared at a certain point in his life. His nanny took care of him as a sick child, and there was this pattern where he would get better and she would be sick for two days, then he would get worse again. I honestly don’t really care, and I think this isn’t a book for me. I won’t be buying this one.

the color of our sky

the color of our skyA sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives converge only to change one fateful night in 1993.

my thoughts on the sample

This was so beautiful! I wish I could keep reading, to be honest. I think this is a novel that’ll end up making me cry… I’m definitely going to buy a copy of The Color of Our Sky. Probably a paperback too, because I feel like I’ll want to annotate this book as I read it. I can just tell there will be tons of quotes and passages I’ll want to highlight. Ones that moved me, others that sparked a discussion within me. I’m so glad I’m doing this experiment, because this novel is one I’d kind of forgotten about after adding it to my to-read shelf on Goodreads. Now, it’s going on the priority to-buy list.

Have you read any of these books? Do you use Kindle samples?

characters I want to hug and protect forever

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today is a character freebie, and I’ve decided to talk about the characters I want to roll up in a blanket and protect from the horrifying reality of humanity. Let’s get started, before this gets any darker, shall we?

Nicholas and Seiji | Fence by C.S. Pacat
I actually wanted to choose only one of the main characters from Fence for this topic, but I simply couldn’t decide which one I wanted to hug more.

Sebastian | Running With Lions by Julian Winters
This entire book, I wanted to fight anyone who ever made Sebastian feel bad. He’s such a Hufflepuff, and it kicked my protective feelings into high gear. He’s the kind of person to look after everyone else and make sure they’re doing well, but who is doing the same for him?

Sadie | Sadie by Courtney Summers
This entire book is so sad and painful! Maybe I’m growing old, but seeing a teenager go through all this makes me feel sick. Why is no one there to protect her?? I guess I’ll have to do it then.

Rudy | The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON RUDY.

Morrigan | Nevermoor by Jessicca Townsend
As is described in the synopsis of the first book, Morrigan is a “cursed child” because she was born on Eventide. Her entire life, people have blamed her for every single thing that goes wrong in the town. The absolute ridiculousness of this makes me so angry. She’s a child. You are supposed to protect her, not make her feel worthless.

Arya A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Out of all the characters in the series I’m desperate to protect, Arya tops the list. Since the start of the first book she has been my favorite character, and her journey has always been endlessly fascinating to me.

The Elric brothers | Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
Protect the brothers! I’ve been reading the FMA manga this year, and have grown so attached to these two. They are so precious, and hilarious, and adorable.

Achilles & Patroclus The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I cried my eyes out while reading this book. I didn’t expect to feel so emotional, because I already knew what would happen to the characters. The way Madeline Miller made these characters come to life is absolutely mind-blowing.

Wylan | Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Little Wylan… Do I even need to explain?

Kaladin | The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
I’ve only read the first book in the Stormlight Archive, but I already feel like I’ll need to protect him. He’s had such bad luck in the first one, I hope it gets better.

Have you read any of these books? Which characters would you protect with your life?

mini reviews: illuminae, gemina + obsidio

illuminaeTitle: Illuminae
Series: Illuminae Files #1
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Genre: science fiction (YA)
Rating: ★★★★★ – a new favorite

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.

my thoughts on june 19

Everyone in the bookish community has been screaming about The Illuminae Files since the release of the first book in 2015. I always avoided this novel because I simply didn’t think it would be one I’d enjoy. When I had to take a 7-hour train journey last December, I decided it was finally time to give the audiobook of Illuminae a try. And I promptly fell in love with the novel.

As this is a full-cast audiobook, which most of you probably already knew, it’s an incredible reading/listening experience. It adds so much to the story, and helps bring it to life. I found myself laughing at the snarkiness, rooting for the main characters, and being filled with horror at some of the events that happened. I’m also both terrified and protective of AIDAN.

Illuminae reminded me somewhat of The Martian by Andy Weir because both are set in space with characters in extremely dire situations, yet are humorous as well. The humor doesn’t take away from the gravity of their circumstances, which I really enjoyed.

Obviously, I adored the characters as well. Did I neally need to clarify that?


geminaTitle: Gemina
Series: Illuminae Files #2
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Genre: science fiction (YA)
Rating: ★★★★.₅ – loved it

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

 

my thoughts on june 19

After loving Illuminae, I knew I didn’t want to wait too long to continue the series. I had to know what would happen next! In April, I listened to the sequel, Gemina. Actually, I devoured this book even though I listened to the audiobook. In one weekend, I had listened to the entire thing! Usually audiobooks take me far longer than that.

While this is a sequel to Illuminae, it follows two different characters. The main characters in the first novel were Kady and Ezra, while in Gemina we follow Hanna and Nik. I admit that it took me a bit longer to get into the sequel than it did for the first book. That’s why I couldn’t justify giving it 5 stars. The start of the novel felt too slow for me, especially after the ending of the previous book. I had grown to love Kady and Ezra so much, why would I care about Nik and Hanna?

After a while though, I grew attached to the story. Nik ended up being one of my favorite characters in the entire series, after his cousin and AIDAN of course.

This series is so action-packed. Every time you think it can’t get worse for our heroes, the authors prove you wrong.

Like I mentioned earlier, while it did have a bit of a slower start I do think Gemina is a great sequel. We got introduced to some fantastic new characters, and the list of people we would protect with our own life grew longer.

I don’t have much else to say about Gemina, other than THAT ENDING.


obsidioTitle: Obsidio
Series: The Illuminae Files #3
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Genre: science fiction (YA)
Rating: ★★★★ – really liked it

I won’t provide a synopsis as that would truly spoil the previous two books in the series. If you want to read the premise anyway, you can click on the cover of the book or the title above to go to its Goodreads page.

 

 

 

my thoughts on june 19

As you can see from my rating, Obsidio was my least favorite book in the trilogy. While I was happy to be back with some of my favorite characters, and excited to find out where the story would take us, I can’t help but feel that the stakes weren’t as high in this book. Their journey and space battle is coming to a close, but their circumstances are very different from the previous two books. I didn’t feel as terrified for the lives of my faves, which made it into a less exciting or nail-biting read.

It wrapped up a little too neatly for me, to be honest. I felt like the authors might have been afraid to make certain choices, even though they would have been more believable in my opinion. I know that it’s science fiction and thus being “realistic” doesn’t really matter, but if you’ve read the book you might understand my point.

I don’t want make this mini review sound too negative, because I did really like the book! I gave it 4 stars after all. It’s a good conclusion to a series I fell in love with, and I’m very happy I binge-listened to them all.

By the way, that last line. What??

Have you read The Illuminae Files? What did you think of it?

June in the life, a personal wrap up

As you may know, every month I write a post on all the movies and TV shows I watched, the music I listened to, and the things I did in the past month. Let’s see what my life in June looked like!

what i watched 19

One of the shows I watched in June was Jinn, the new Arabic Netflix Original. I binge-watched the whole thing, which isn’t that much of a feat since there are only 5 episodes or so. It was a fun time, but I’ve heard quite a lot of criticism on it already. Obviously, it was very dramatic and over the top at times, since it’s a TV show about teenagers. However, I’ve heard people say that the dialogue is really off, and that no one actually talks like that (which is something I would have never noticed, as I cannot speak the language).

I also finished watching La Casa de Papel, in preparation for the new season coming in July. I adore this show. It has become one of my absolute favorites, and I find myself glued to the screen whenever I’m watching it. I can’t wait to see what the writers have in store for us next.

I also watched Always Be My Maybe, a new Netflix movie everyone has been loving. It was so cute! I loved Ali Wong in this film, she did such an incredible job at portraying her character. One of my favorite parts of this movie is how important her career is to her, and how she isn’t willing to give that up because of love. It’s such an important message! The only thing that prevented me from giving this 5 stars is Randall Park. I didn’t love his acting, to be honest. At times, it felt like he wasn’t taking this movie seriously? I’m not sure whether that was the point of the character or not, but it made me feel odd.

what i did 19

Buckle up, because June was a wild ride.

The first weekend of June, I traveled to London to see BTS perform at Wembley Stadium. It was one of the best concerts I have ever seen, if not the best. I can’t even describe it properly. Here’s a little video I took of the crowd!

A week or two later, I also saw Eric Nam in concert in Brussels! He was a fantastic performer. His voice is out of this world, and he’s way funnier than I ever realized.

Lastly, I bought tickets to see Stray Kids in Berlin in August! I can’t wait, as they’re one of my top 3 groups.

In June, I rediscovered my love for dance workouts and pilates. I had to stop doing them for the past two weeks because it’s been more than 30°C in Belgium and my apartment is an oven, but I’m excited to start a workout routine again.

A few days ago, I also watched my little cousin graduate high school. I’m so proud of her!

what i listened to 19

A.C.E – Under Cover
I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t I talk about this song in last month’s wrap up? Yes, I did! However, I still can’t stop listening to it and thus it deserved another mention.

ONE OK ROCK – Stand Out Fit In
Last month, Lindsey talked about ONE OK ROCK in her monthly wrap up. Since we usually love similar music, I decided to give them a try. I then continued to fall in love with them and have listened to their latest album on repeat.

Stray Kids – Side Effects
For the first time since falling in love with Stray Kids, I’ve had to listen to one of their songs on repeat before I could really get into it. It’s so different, yet so Stray Kids at the same time. I’m enjoying the song, but have to admit it’s not my favorite comeback so far.

ONE OK ROCK – Eye of the Storm
Like I mentioned before, I’ve been listening to this album on repeat.

Taylor Swift – You Need to Calm Down
I can’t stop singing along to this song! Someone help me!!

JK – Euphoria
I adore this song, but this new version of memories of JK made by the members just kills me.

What did you do in June?

June wrap up, or the month in which I barely read anything

I’ve had such a good reading year so far but June truly broke that lucky streak. I didn’t read much, and the only reason I have more than one book to share with you all today is manga. I’m making July into a no-pressure month when it comes to reading, in the hopes it will make me want to read more. So, what did I actually manage to finish in June?

Walk on Earth a Stranger (Gold Seer #1) by Rae Carson – ★★★.₅ – liked it
This book had been on my shelf for years already. I bought it soon after its release date because I adored the author’s previous series, Girl of Fire and ThornsGold Seer follows Lee (or Leah) Westfall, who has always been able to sense gold around her – a welcome talent during the Gold Rush. Tragic circumstances force her to flee her home in the South and travel west.

I listened to the audiobook of Walk on Earth, which I would highly recommend. The narrator has a slight Southern accent, which adds to the story and Lee’s character. I enjoyed the characters, the setting, and the comments this book made on slavery and the horrible and disgusting treatment of Native Americans. However, I felt like this book lacked something to work towards. We know that Lee is fleeing, but it never feels like she’s running towards something, if that makes sense. I didn’t know what she was trying to achieve, which made me less invested in the story overall. I will still continue the series, probably on audio as well.

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 5 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★ – really liked it
Like I mentioned before, Fullmetal Alchemist is the only reason I managed to finish more than one book this past month. I am so in love with this manga already, and I honestly can’t believe I’ve lived for almost 25 years without this story.

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 6 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★★ – a new favorite
Volume 6 is my favorite by far at the moment. It delves into the background of the Elric brothers. Instead of just hearing about what happened to them, we get to see them grown up, their relationship with their parents, their reaction to the death of their mother, their alchemist training… It’s devastating, and made me want to roll them up in a blanket to protect them from the world.

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 7 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★ – really liked it
While it wasn’t as fantastic as the previous volume, I stilled adored volume 7. I’ve become so attached to Ed and Al! Their teacher has also quickly become one of my favorite characters in the manga.


That’s really all I managed to read in June. I know it’s not that much, but I’m happy I enjoyed all the books I finished. A few months of no-pressure reading is exactly what I need before diving into the NEWTs in August. I need to find my reading mojo again before August starts. Wish me luck!

What did you read in June?

What did I read growing up?

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. In this week’s post, I’m talking about the books I read growing up. I think this will be such an interesting post to read, especially when us book bloggers hail from all corners of the world!

De Zusjes Kriegel by Marc de Bel
This title translates to The Sisters Kriegel, and it follows three sisters who are completely awful. I can’t actually remember anything about the book, but I remember loving it to death. If I’m not mistaken, the sisters were bullies and complete psychopaths but I still adored this book. Maybe I should reread this as an adult!

Matilda by Roald Dahl
Is there a book lover out there who didn’t relate immensely to Matilda as a child? Obviously, I read the translation growing up as I only spoke Dutch. This is definitely one I want to reread one day.

Wise Child by Monica Furlong
Another book I read translated! I actually remember lending this from the library more than 10 times because I adored the story so much. It follows a girl who starts to live with Juniper, a healer and wise woman. However, the town considers her to be a witch.

Koning van Katoren by Jan Terlouw
I’ve talked about this book before, I’m fairly certain. This is quite a famous children’s book in Belgium and The Netherlands, and it follows a boy who has been given seven impossible tasks to complete in order to become King.

Het Uur Nul by Dirk Bracke
Het Uur Nul, literal translation ‘the hour zero’, was the first Dirk Bracke book I read and it solidified my love for this author. He always tackles taboo topics, and I read every book of his I could get my hands on as a teenager. I wonder how I’d feel about them at this point in my life. Either way, this is about a teenage boy who gets diagnosed with HIV in the 90s.

Prophecy of the Stones by Flavia Bujor
I remember borrowing this book from my best friend in my early teens, and falling in love with it. It follows three girls who are chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy, and is written by a French author of Romanian descent. I really need to hunt down a copy of my own so I can read it again one day. I read this in Dutch, by the way, but it does have an English translation.

Stormbreaker (Alex Rider #1) by Anthony Horowitz
The Alex Rider series started my obsession with Anthony Horowitz as a teen. I still have so many of the Alex Rider novels in Dutch at my parents’ house, and I definitely want to keep them in my collection. They were such a big part of my reading life growing up!

Raven’s Gate (The Gatekeepers #1) by Anthony Horowitz
My love for the Alex Rider series pushed me into trying more of the author’s works, and that’s when I stumbled upon this series. I can vividly recall rereading this series again and again, and never growing bored of it.

Lieve Woordjes by Carl Norac and Claude K. Dubois
This is a series of picture books my mom gave to me as a kid. She still has them in her bookshelves, and I hope to one day take them with me. They hold some of my absolute favorite memories. The title translates to Sweet words, and that’s exactly what this book is: sweet. One of the books follows the little daughter, who gets to stay at home alone for the first time while her parents go out for a few hours. She does all the things she has always wanted, but at the end grows bored and just wants her parents to come back home so she can hug them. It’s adorable.

Inkheart (Inkworld #1) by Cornelia Funke
A book I was given by my godmother as a child! I remember being so amazed at a world in which people could jump into stories or bring parts of the stories to life by reading out loud. I have so many wonderful memories attached to these!


This was a wonderful trip down memory lane. Growing up in a family that always encouraged me to read has left me with so many beautiful memories to look back on. I’m eternally grateful to my parents and godmother for fostering my love for reading.

Have you read any of these? What did you read growing up?