Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Wrath and the Dawn Review by Amy at YA Under My Skin

Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: Hardcover published by GP Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Inspired by 'A Thousand and One Nights', the story follows sixteen year old Shahrzad. She has agreed to marry Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan, who takes a new bride each night and executes her at sunrise. She crafts a plan to stay alive, so she can avenge the young girls who have died, including her best friend. Each night, she will tell Khalid a story so tantalising that he couldn't possibly kill her without knowing what happens next.

This is the best YA romance I've read since... well, I can't remember the last time I read one this good! A main part of this was because of Shahrzad: the fierce, intelligent and all around awesome heroine. She is so resourceful and brave in a spectacularly dire situation, that I was on her side straight away. Also, it goes without saying that we need more diversity in YA (and books in general), and the Middle Eastern setting and characters were so refreshing!

Now to my favourite part: the romance. It isn't often that I'm so completely invested in a relationship, and even though I could see where it was going I really, really enjoyed watching it unfold! The relationship between Shahrzad and Khalid was painful, complicated, and drawn out long enough that it was especially satisfying! 

I also loved Renee Ahdieh's writing style. The sumptuous descriptions evoked the exotic setting, and made for an immersive reading experience. Her metaphors felt fresh and boundary pushing, and devoid of eye-rolling cliches.

There were a couple of aspects that I would've liked more of, the first being the stories. I really enjoyed the tales that Shahrzad told Khalid early on, in her efforts to keep his interest and stay alive. As soon as their relationship developed, the stories disappeared and I wanted to see more of them. I was also really intrigued by the touches of magic, and wanted to know more about the developing powers of certain characters.

All I can say is that I want more of this world, and these characters. I need to know what happens next! I can't recommend this book highly enough, and I'm very excited about the sequel due out next year.

If you liked the sound of this, now try:

-An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
-The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

-Need by Carrie Jones

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Silver in the Blood Book Review by Amy at YA Under My Skin

Author: Jessica Day George
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens’

Dacia and Lou Florescu are New York society girls in the 1890s. When they return to their Romanian homeland, they discover family secrets and prophecies involving their own identities.

This was one of those books that made me come over all obsessive, because I was intrigued to work out what was so special about the Florescu girls. At first I was a bit concerned that they'd be flighty, nineteenth century stereotypes. As the novel progressed, both characters grew and developed in a very believable way.

I loved the idea of putting a paranormal YA in a historical context. It felt really fresh, and created an appealing, Gothic Gossip Girl feel. Jessica Day George visited Romania to research this book, and her knowledge of the area definitely came through.

The novel’s descriptive style was beautiful, with enough nineteenth century language touches to make it feel authentic. There was an appealing feeling of decadence, with beautiful gowns and several gorgeous love interests!

In places I found the novel a little predictable, but I really enjoyed the journey with the characters. This is a great summer read, and delightfully indulgent escapism!

If you liked the sound of this, now try:

-The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
-A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas - Book Review by Amy McCaw at YA Under My Skin

Quick stats:

Author: Leah Thomas
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury

This book is made up of the letters sent back and forth between two boys, Ollie and Moritz. The two can never meet because Ollie has seizures when he's exposed to any electricity, and Moritz has a pacemaker. Even being in each other's company would kill them both.

I don't give praise lightly, and am more than happy to dole out constructive criticism. In this case, I would struggle to think of any! I absolutely. Adored. This. Book, so much that I'm apparently not thinking in complete sentences.

It's not often that I read a book and can genuinely suspend belief, almost convincing myself that the characters are real. The letters sent between Ollie and Moritz feel utterly believable, and it is their poignant, realistic voices that brought the book to life.

This is one of those rare books that is beautifully written throughout, and so honest that at times it was hard to read. I went through every range of emotions, from laughing aloud to quietly sobbing behind my paperback (and attracting some very strange looks – don't read it by the side of a pool!)

The only reason I can think that some people may not like this book is because it does unfold slowly, and there isn't a massive amount of 'action'. To me, that was the point, that real life can be captured so convincingly on a page, and that it can be beautiful.

One of my favourite lines from the book is when one character told the other that he wanted to know the books that made him. 'Because you'll never meet me' is one of the books that made me.

Gushing over – you can go and buy it now!

If you liked the sound of this, now try:

- We were liars by E. Lockhart
- The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
-Half Bad by Sally Green

Amy McCaw
YA Under My Skin