Review: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

A Thousand Nights by E.K Johnston cover, taken from the Netgalley website.

A Thousand Nights by E.K Johnston cover, taken from the Netgalley website.

Release date: October 6, 2015

Disclaimer:  The Disney Book Group over at Disney-Hyperion kindly provided me with a digital galley/digital ARC of this book on Netgalley. I was not obligated to review it, but I would love to share my thoughts with you anyway! (And thank you, to them, because I have been yearning to read this book since I first heard it existed!)

Ok, I know I’m a little early in the game to review this. But the book is available for preorder now for all you lovely readers, and I wanted to offset some of the advance negative comments I’ve read about this book. I actually squealed with delight when I heard I was being given a chance to review this novel for myself!

Official Synopsis

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.

My Thoughts

I have not read the original collection of stories, One Thousand and One Nights that I believe this novel is a new retelling of. I also have not read The Wrath and the Dawn, which is also a retelling of the aforementioned story. So, this review is based solely on what I thought of the book, not on how it compares to the original story or any other retellings.

First of all, I read this book in one sitting, in the car during a long drive. It didn’t take me long at all to read because it is so engrossing. Immediately you are sucked into this world, swept up into the darkness surrounding Lo-Melkhiin’s kingdom. The words that make up the story are woven together beautifully.

E.K Johnston has done storytelling at its finest.

I loved how the story started out one way, and then ran with it. There were elements of magic in it, a lot of courage and bravery,  dramatic moments, good vs. evil, etc. This made it really entertaining to read.

Another unique element to the story was the perspectives. I won’t tell you who the other perspective is, besides our main character, but that added such an interesting element to the story. Some multiple POV stories are a little annoying, going back and forth like that, but this one only switched at the right times, and enriched the setting and situation even more.

However.

One thing I’ve seen a lot of reviewers complain about is the lack of a name for our main character. Or, pretty much anyone else. We hear about “my father’s father’s father” and “my sister’s mother” but never “My great-grandfather Stanley.” Ok, his name probably wouldn’t be Stanley. But you get my point.

But while this vague naming is a little monotonous to read, I feel that there was a point to this. One reviewer said she stopped 75% of the way through the book to try and figure out if she’d missed something, but I think all these people are missing something. This girl is nameless. Yes, she probably has a name, but within Lo-Melkhiin’s world, she’s just another girl. He married and killed hundreds before her. They were just property. Possessions. Toys. She’s just another wife, really. If she had a name, that’d give her power and status. So no, the author didn’t just “forget” to put in a name.

I also read that some people thought they were misled to believe this book would have some whirlwind romance. But upon my reading of the blurb, I didn’t sense any of that. I didn’t think there was supposed to be one;

Just because it’s a YA novel, doesn’t mean the girl needs to be swept off her feet by prince charming.

And yes, there is a lack of dialogue. But again, this book is told like a story. It’s told like you’re sitting in the desert being told a story. You don’t need dialogue! Or names! Or a romantic sex scene! Seriously people? A Thousand Nights is gorgeously written as it is.

Of course, that’s just me. Everyone is going to read and see things differently, so just because I didn’t read the blurb and think it  hinted at a romantic story, doesn’t mean someone else won’t see it that way.

Instead of a frilly romance, you get a story about strong resilient and determined women. Most of the characters are women. Our heroine is a woman. How many books can you say this about? How many books put so much emphasis on females and their wit.

What made me love this novel even more was that in the Acknowledgements, I noticed the author says she spent time in Jordan.  (Four years and six summers, actually) I’m sure this influence the author in writing the book, and it shows. The setting really comes alive, and it makes me happy to see it is probably based on research. Plus, our master storyteller here is an archaeologist. How cool is that?

The verdict?

This book was different from the books I normally read in a few ways. But, I felt is was quite well done. Sure, I think I would’ve liked the main character to have a little more depth to her character, but then again, this book is storytelling. If you were being told a story that’s been passed down for generations, you probably aren’t hearing it the same way the original people heard it, because some details would be lost or just unimportant to the true matter at heart. Don’t read this book expecting to swoon; read this book because you want some excellent, vibrant storytelling based on a true classic.

For these reasons, I’m giving A Thousand Nights 4 stars.

Oh yeah, and the cover is gorgeous. You know I can’t review a book without at least mentioning the cover.

I wasn’t told to tell you where you can buy the book but I did notice if you preorder it on Amazon right now, the hardcover is only $9.08. Less than 10 bucks for a hardback, and Amazon isn’t even ThriftBooks or any of those book discount sites. And hey, you could read it with The Wrath and the Dawn and find out which retelling you liked better! I can’t wait for October so I can hear all of your thoughts on the book!

Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Ah yes, another YA recent release with a boatload of hype and plenty of raving fans. To put it in perspective, The Winner’s Curse has garnered an impressive 4.07 star /5 star rating on Goodreads, the average of 25,779 reviews. It’s … Continue reading

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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This was the first book I read for the Bout of Books 11 readathon. Even though the goal of the readathon is to read as much as you can, I made sure to pay attention to the details of this novel so I could share with you.

My Synopsis
The Sinclair family is lounging on their private island off of the coast of Massachusetts and their friends and staff. Cadence, Gat, Mirren and Johnny are The Liars, named this for a reason. They are wealthy and enjoying their summer; that is, until everything goes wrong. An accident of some sort occurs leaving Cadence with major head trauma and a lack of an explanation as to what happened that night. But when everyone around you is a liar, there is no telling how bad the truth really is.

What’s hard about making a synopsis for this book is that it seriously sounds like some trashy cross between Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. It isn’t. One amazing thing about the novel is how stylistically it manages to be written in a simple yet sophisticated manor. No garbage here. In fact, it left me speechless.

If you read and liked Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout (read my review here), you may notice the coincidental similarity between the situation of Sam and Cadence’s dilemmas. They both do not remember the dark things that occurred on a specific night, plus the memories surrounding that time. Yet their two stories of what happened are quite different, so if you are looking for something enjoyable that is not a rehash of that book, this is golden.

This is a great book if you are looking for a thrilling yet short read. It is the perfect mix of romance and mystery elements and even a little bit of paranormal elements! I won’t say anything more so that you can read it for yourself. There is a reason the book jacket is quite mysterious and somewhat vague.

I am thinking of revising my star rating system so I am not going to use it today. Instead I will just do the typical out of 5 star rating and leave you to determine based on my review if the book is for you.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! Check out my social media page for even more Books and Palettes across your favorite platforms! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

August TBR!!

The word August should not be in my vocabulary yet. But, as is the book blog tradition, I’m going to tell you a few books I hope to read and/or finish in August.

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

I included this in a recent Friday’s Finds post and I finally have it! Yay for libraries!

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Old School by Tobias Wolff
I have to read this for my English class but in case you wanted to know what it is about, here is the Goodreads description.

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Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

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Like a crazy person, I’ve been purposely trying to read this in little bits. It’s impossible. This is not the kind of trilogy you read over time. You want to read it as fast as possible, because it is that good. I even tweeted at Beth Revis how much I was loving this book and she retweeted it and even replied! (I had a fangirl moment when that happened. I’m still fangirling, actually. Can you hear it?) Therefore, I’m finishing this ASAP. I must know what is going to happen next. But in case it is August by the time I do, I threw it in here.

Other books I may or may not read
Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Just because a book isn’t in this post, doesn’t mean I won’t read it this month! If you have any recommendations for me, let me know in the comments below!

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

                                      (Photo is from Goodreads)            “What does it take to survive aboard a spaceship fueled by lies?” Synopsis: Amy has a choice; she can be frozen and join her parents aboard a ship embarking on a three-hundred-year long voyage … Continue reading

Booking Through Thursday Post #1!

The Booking Through Thursday meme was created by this lovely blog: http://btt2.wordpress.com

How it works is each week a question is posted. You copy the question onto your blog and answer it, then leave a link on their post so others can read your response!

This week’s question is: Do your reading habits change in the summer?

Definitely, absolutely, yes. Over the summer, school is traded for more work hours, yet also for a boatload of reading time. By the time June comes, I’m usually doubtful I’ll be able to complete the number of books I originally challenge myself to read for the year. But I generally complete the entire rest of the years’ reading in the summer alone. Sometimes, I complete a book at least every other day. That definitely does not happen during the other seasons!

Craving more Books and Palettes? Follow me so you’ll never miss a post! I post daily 🙂