Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough. Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it! For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me…
The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
I’ve seen this book pop up here and there on various lists and reviews. A retelling of One Thousand and One Nights (ish), it’s set in a desert country where magic isn’t an impossibility, even if it isn’t terribly common.
I really wanted to like this book, but I honestly just found it rather boring. The first half of the book is soooo slow. Basically nothing happens except listening to Shahrzad have a lot of feelings. She purposely becomes Khalid’s bride so she can get revenge on him because she hates him so much, but it takes her roughly .03 seconds to fall in love with him, and then we have PAGES of her agonizing about her feelings and wondering how she can have sympathy for this horrific monster. I’m not a huge fan of instalove, but I can understand its sometimes necessity to make a story (kind of) work, but in this case it verged on the absurd. I will say that what I did like was that eventually Shahrzad and Khalid have a REAL CONVERSATION where they both explain their back stories and are honest with each other, which I really, really appreciated because I HATE it when characters lie to this person they supposedly love more than life itself. But that conversation happens way further down the line than it should have.
Initially I was still planning to read the second book just to see how everything comes out, but life interfered and it was a few days before I had an opportunity to pick it up. That’s when I realized that I actually just didn’t care enough to plow through another 400 pages. The Wrath & the Dawn wasn’t a bad book, and I think that if I had gone straight into the second book I would have probably enjoyed that at about that same middling level, but in the end I just wasn’t that intrigued. There were things I liked about this book, but the overall incredibly slow pace combined with characters who pretty much do nothing but have a lot of feelings (we hear about Shahrzad’s the most, but they ALL have LOTS of feelings) meant that this was really only a 3/5 read for me.
The Man With Two Left Feet & Other Stories by P.G. Wodehouse
Fun little collection of Wodehouse tales – and incidentally the first time that the Bertie/Jeeves duo makes an appearance. While these were entertaining stories, it was interesting because they lack the guaranteed lightheartedness of his later works. While they definitely aren’t downers by any definition, there are little things that made me realize just how careful Wodehouse was to keep his best works completely frothy and untouched by any sad realities! While this may not be the best place to start if you are new to Wodehouse, they’re definitely worth visiting at some point.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
It’s kind of weird, because I put books on my TBR and then forget about them for years, then my random number generator chooses my next book… and then it turns out that it’s becoming a movie?? This is the second time this has happened to me this year! I had had Ready Player One on my TBR forever, and then after I read it I found out it was becoming a movie in less than a month. (Side note: Still haven’t done a compare/contrast on book v. movie for that one even though I have been wanting to ever since I saw the movie!!) The same thing happened here – I got this book out from the library (it’s been on the TBR since 2015), and then realized that I had seen a trailer for the upcoming movie. So weird.
ANYWAY this book was a solid sci-fi read that I did mostly enjoy, but with kind of mixed feelings. I think what it really came down to was that it was a sad book. Everyone is so mean to Ender (“for the good of humanity”) and I never enjoy reading books where a character is just being consistently bullied and hurt. There were also some random scenes of violence that seemed abrupt and disturbing to me.
I couldn’t quite get my head around the ages of these kids. I realize that’s supposed to be part of the controversy, but seriously? Six years old? I just couldn’t buy it. I think this story would have made a lot more sense if Ender had been more like ten when the story started. I just can’t imagine even a mind-blowing genius six-year-old having the emotional capacity to make the decisions Ender was making.
All in all, this was a thoughtful book, with a lot to really chew on, but the tone was a bit too heavy/downer for my personal tastes, so even though I gave this book 4*, I decided not to continue with the series.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
This was a childhood favorite that is still a delight. If you’re looking for just a fun, fluffy little fairytale retelling, this one is a great afternoon read. It’s a children’s book so it goes quickly, but despite its short(ish) length, there is still enough world-building to give the reader a solid glimpse into Ella’s life and home. I hadn’t read this one in several years, and I was happy to see how well it has held up.