Book Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

23308087Title: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Format: eARC through Penguin First to Read
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Rating – 5 stars!!

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

I received a free copy of the Flame in the Mist ARC from Penguin’s First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

Flame in the Mist is set in feudal japan and follows a young girl Mariko who has been betrothed to one of the emperor’s sons. On her way to meet her betrothed, her litter is attacked and she is presumed dead. Survival instinct kicking in, she escapes and due to the climate of the time, dresses as a boy in order to move around freely and embarks on a quest for revenge.

Prior to being approved an ARC, I had heard about this book and that it was a Mulan retelling. I definitely saw the Mulan similarities but this story is definitely it’s very own. I loved this book. I thought it was so unique and done very well. I loved the theme of female empowerment that is woven throughout the entire book – we see this in Mariko’s making her own decisions and taking her life into her own hands during a time when women were treated like property and not allowed to make their own decisions.

The romance element was simply breathtaking. In connection with that I am SUPER happy that Mariko was not the squeaky clean, pure main character that we see in a lot of stories. She was very real. She was a badass that had no problem standing up for herself and did not succumb to what anyone wanted her to be, but she also had moments where she doubted herself and her strength. Through that she always found strength within herself, which was amazing.

The writing was absolutely beautiful, this was undoubtedly one of my favorite reads of this year so far.  It does end rather abruptly but I was okay with that since I know there is going to be a second book. I felt like a lot happened in this one and the stage was set for some really big things to happen. I cannot wait for the second one and my only complaint is that I will have to wait awhile since this book won’t even release until May. I definitely have a lot of questions like the magical elements we see and where this comes from and what happens with Mariko, plus a few more that I won’t mention because of spoilers.

This was my first Renee Ahdieh book and now I am very interested in reading her other novels. Flame in the Mist is published on May 16th so definitely check it out!

Blog Tour Book Review: The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot

the-boy-is-back-coverAbout The Boy is Back

• Hardcover: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (October 18, 2016)

In this brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a scandal brings a young man back home to the small town, crazy family, and first love he left behind.

Reed Stewart thought he’d left all his small town troubles—including a broken heart—behind when he ditched tiny Bloomville, Indiana, ten years ago to become rich and famous on the professional golf circuit.  Then one tiny post on the Internet causes all of those troubles to return . . . with a vengeance.

Becky Flowers has worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him when he returns—until his family hires her to save his parents.

Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another—or the memories of that one fateful night.  And soon everything they thought they knew about themselves (and each other) has been turned upside down, and they—and the entire town of Bloomville—might never be the same, all because The Boy Is Back.

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Happy Tuesday everyone! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot. I received this book from the publisher Harper Collins through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it.

Truthfully I have never read a Meg Cabot book, but I have always been curious about her books because I hear so much about them. Because of that, when I had the opportunity to review a The Boy is Back I jumped at the chance to read a book from this author.

The Boy is Back is a cute contemporary about a boy and a girl who lost touch after a very eventful prom night and are thrust back together when he comes back to town to take care of family business.

This book was a lot of fun for me to read because it was told in a way that I had not previously encountered, but that I ended up loving quite a bit. The story itself is delivered through a range of media such as newspaper articles, emails, text messages, instant messaging, speech to text transcription and Facebook. This really intrigued me because I was so curious about how well the characters and the events of the story would translate to the reader through alternating media rather than traditional prose. I really, really loved it. I thought it was a really fun way to read and interact with the story. I also felt like my reading time was far less because I was sucked in to the story through the various different ways it was being told. It felt a little bit like gossiping with my best friend. It did give me some feels, especially towards the end.

I really enjoyed the actual plot, although not a  complicated one, I thought it was fun. I always heard that Meg Cabot’s books were addicting and like a sweet treat and I definitely agree. It was a cute, fun romance with a small touch of mystery and a whole lot of family drama and I was all there for it. I was impressed with how the character’s separate attitudes and personalities came through so well in a book written in the different formats but now I’m thinking that I really dig that and am looking forward to reading more books like this! I also want to read more of Meg Cabot’s book so if anyone has any recommendations on which ones to read, let me know! This book is also apparently part of a book series, although I think this is a standalone in that series (I hope that made sense). I believe the other books in the series are told in the same format so, yes, I will be reading those! I am giving this book four stars!

Also, this cover is wonderful! I really love this style of book cover!

If you are looking for a cute contemporary to enjoy or to get you out of a reading slump, check this book out!

Photo by Ali Smith

Photo by Ali Smith

About Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot was born in Bloomington, Indiana. In addition to her award-winning adult contemporary fiction, she is the author of bestselling young adult fiction, including The Princess Diaries and the Mediator series. More than twenty-five million copies of her novels for children and adults have sold worldwide. Meg lives in Key West, Florida, with her husband.

Find out more about Meg at her website, follow her blog, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Book Review: Southernmost by Sarah Sadler

31080280Title: Southernmost by Sarah Sadler
Genre:  Fiction – Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Blue French Press
Page count: 338 pages
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Rating – 5/5!!

In this engaging new novel from critically acclaimed author of southern literature Sarah Sadler, Southernmost delivers a charismatic account of one woman’s journey through the rigors of starting over in life and love. Set in the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina, Southernmost is a satisfying spin-off to Sadler’s debut novel Southern Solstice and firmly establishes the sophomore author with a stand-alone release that is sure to capture new and return readers alike.

Former Alabama beauty queen Kayla Carter is given an ultimatum by her wealthy ex-boyfriend Jackson Winslow – either move to his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina with their seven-year-old daughter or support herself on a waitress’s salary. She relocates only to discover Jackson’s life is suddenly in shambles, and he has become a broke, undependable and depressed alcoholic.

Kayla hesitantly establishes herself in Charleston’s bustling culinary scene and becomes involved in a delicious fling with a free-spirited and visceral photographer. While she navigates the turbulent waters of Jackson’s new emotional state and fights feelings for him that she’s suppressed for years, Kayla’s personal success is overshadowed by an unexpected complication.

With a secret from the past threatening the chance of restoring her family, Kayla forces herself to break Jackson’s heart – and her own – once and for all, or risk everything by facing the shameful truth that has kept them apart.

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Happy Monday everyone! Today I am SUPER excited to share with you my review for one of my most highly anticipated books of this year: Southernmost written by Sarah Sadler. I had the pleasure of reviewing her first novel Southern Solstice (click to see that review) back in 2015. I was really fortunate to have received a copy of Southernmost from the publisher in exchange for my honest review of it as well!

Southernmost is a contemporary fiction book about a woman named Kayla who at her ex’s request, moves to Charleston with their young daughter Avery. She has more or less  been living in the shadow of Jackson’s relationship with his ex, Larken and she immediately feels out of place in the new town. When Jackson’s bad decisions concerning Larken impact their lives in unseen ways, Kayla’s world is further thrown off kilter which may actually have been just what she needed to find her place and people in Charleston.

Since I absolutely loved Southern Solstice, I had really high expectations for Southernmost and it really delivered. Sarah Sadler has done it to me a second time. I loved this book but I am not at all surprised. It’s been a full year and a few months since I read Southern Solstice and while I remembered adoring it, I couldn’t exactly remember the specifics of why and reading Southernmost reminded me exactly why from the very first page.

This book was beautifully written. The language is gorgeous and the characters are so wonderfully fleshed out. My most favorite thing about a Sarah Sadler book is the characterization, she is an ace at characterization. All of the characters in this book made an impact on me. I cared so deeply for all of them (except Justin!) and each of them just really felt like old friends to me. Slipping back into this world was such a comfort, but it was also really thrilling to unfold Kayla’s story – her coming into her own and her romantic story line as well.

I also loved that this book, although it took place amongst the same people as Southern Solstice and in the same place, you don’t have to have read it to read this one. It can definitely stand on its own although it was definitely great to have that background on the people and certain events that had transpired in the first book to put a few things in this book into clearer perspective. This book is not more about Larken, so if you’re expecting that, you won’t get it in this book although we do see a bit of her. But don’t fret! Our main character Kayla, is every bit as wonderful of a character as Larken is. I do have to say that Jackson Winslow has impeccable taste in women.

I truly can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed my time with this book. I could have read it in one sitting but I chose to draw it out and enjoy it for as long as I could but there came a point where I just couldn’t anymore and I needed to devour it. My copy at this point looks pretty well read because I took it with me everywhere. This book will definitely give you all the feels…it certainly gave me all the feels!!

I am giving Southernmost a five star review, hands down. One of my favorite 2016 reads for sure…perfect for reading at the beach or to just curl up with at night for some good romance. If you are a fan of contemporary romances definitely pick this one up although I feel like the romance angle is just one piece of this book, there is so much more dealing with family, southern life and Kayla’s journey to really being comfortable with herself. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Southernmost, you purchase it on Amazon! (Isn’t the cover gorgeous?)

P.S. I’m still waiting for the first book to be adapted to film and now I also need a sequel. Ahhh!

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img_3040About the Author

With her first song published at the age of twelve, Sarah Sadler had a pretty good notion early on that words would be her compass.  Nurtured by a wildly creative family full of Opera singers, inventors, pianists, hippies, preachers, pageant girls, master gardeners, world travelers and fellow writers, Sarah explored every gamut of where words and their possibilities could take her.

A sixth generation North Carolinian, Sarah’s family moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming when she was nine (where an insatiable love of the Wild West was born) before returning to Nashville, TN where much of her writing is influenced by the rich cultural distinction of being born a southern woman.

Sarah lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and their young son. When she’s not writing books and songs, she’s riding horses.

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

22544764Title:  Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey
Length: 435 pages
Format: Hardcover
Publication Date:  May 19, 2015
Rating – 5/5

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

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This book has been on my TBR list for a few months and it was one of the few new releases that I have been flirting with buying and reading. Needless to say I was super excited when both Vaginal Fantasy and Sword and Laser book clubs chose Uprooted for their reading picks this month. While I am anxiously waiting for the Vaginal Fantasy Google hangout I decided to go ahead and post my review on this book!

As you already know, I love me some Fantasy whether it’s childrens, YA or adult. I just love it all and want to read every fantasy novel ever…I have a long way to go! Reading Uprooted was definitely a reminder of some of the things I love about Fantasy books. The plot itself was interesting with the corrupted wood bordering the villages and threatening to overtake them and the mysterious wizard taking a girl from the villages every ten years to help in his fight to keep the wood at bay. I thought it was fairly obvious who would actually be chosen to go live with the wizard but that didn’t make it any less interesting or scary because at that point we are still unsure of the specifics of why he chooses a girl to live in the tower with him every ten years.

I really loved alot of the characters especially Agnieszka and Kasia. I was also intrigued by the Dragon although I wish I could get more in depth into his psyche and his background, that would be an interesting book! I also really craved more of a romance than we were given but I do appreciate the reasons behind it not playing such a huge part in this book. I love Agnieszka’s strong will and independence. I love her stubbornness and her growth from a child to a powerful woman of basically her own making.

It took me awhile to read this book, not for lack of interest or time, but mostly because I was trying to savor my reading of this book. This book has the kind of writing that you want to just live in and soak up every single word, it was beautiful. It was dense which I have come to expect in most fantasy books (and which I absolutely love) but it wasn’t too dense, if that makes any sense. It felt just right. It was a complicated story with maybe one or two predictable things but the rest of it was definitely unexpected and wholly original. It has magic, intrigue, conflict and a bit of romance. I loved this book and gave it a five star rating.

Let’s talk about the cover. Is this not one of the most beautiful covers you have ever seen, I promise you that this book is more beautiful in person. Now that I have read it I love the cover even more as it is wholly fitting for the story. Just beautiful. I’m not usually a fan of yellowish book covers but this one is gorgeous, even more so in person and I, of course, love books with deckle edge pages.

I think that this book is definitely a read that fans of epic fantasy won’t want to miss!

Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

QueenTitle: The Queen of the Tearling written by Erika Johansen
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Page count: 434
Format: Hardcover
Rating – 5/5!

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen. (Goodreads)

It’s been months since I first heard about The Queen of the Tearling, and over those few months I had succeeded in hyping this book up for myself. When it was finally published early last month I sent my husband to the bookstore and got my hands on a copy. It took me a few days to prepare myself to read it because I just knew it was going to be epic…and it was.

The Queen of the Tearling is 437 pages of a wonderfully written, beautifully detailed fantasy novel. It’s a dark fantasy set in a dystopic world that seems to take place centuries after our time. The best thing about this book is it’s strong heroine, Kelsea, whom is unlike any other heroine that I have read of so far. She’s not your typical beautiful heroine that everyone falls all over themselves over. She is plain, not very feminine or graceful but is strong, courageous and intelligent unlike her mother, the queen before her that was vain and petty. Kelsea is without a doubt a badass.

I don’t know if it was my built up anticipation to read this book but I fell in love with it instantly. The vast universe that Johansen has woven for us  is so interesting and literally delicious to absorb. Once I began reading it, I couldn’t bear to be away from it for more than a few seconds at a time. It is so absorbing, sweeping and so detailed in scope.

When I first saw how big the novel was I thought that maybe it was a standalone but having finished this book, I know for certain that this is the first book in what is going to be a KILLER series. From what I understand this is also going to be a movie which I am super excited about because there are these epic, amazing moments in the book that just HAVE to be translated to the big screen, they just have to be. I’m expecting amazing things from this author, since her debut was so earth shattering for me. I cannot wait for the next one.

If you haven’t heard of this book or are contemplating reading it, do it!!! You will not be disappointed!

Happy reading everyone!

P.S. What a beautiful cover right? There is also another version that I thought was really cool (see below). Which do you like more?

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Blog Tour Book Review & Giveaway: Fall from Grace: The Scribing of Ishitar

0526114-N Fall From GraceTitle: Fall From Grace: The Scribing of Ishitar written by Carrie F. Shepard
Genre: Epic Fantasy Adventure
Publisher: Mythos Press
Page count: 490
Format: Ebook (read on Kindle app for Microsoft Surface)
Rating – 5/5

 

 Ishitar is born on the cusp of a great war between the two ruling Gods of the Heavens and Hells Realms. With his father in control of a repressive society and his mother fighting for free will for all, he believes the game that they play to be just that: a game. Little does he know that the players that he sees are not necessarily the ones who will influence the outcome.

 

 

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Scribing of Ishitar! I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I loved this book! Everything about it was captivating for me! First I’d like to talk about the cover. Are you kidding me??! This book cover is awesome! I know a book’s cover shouldn’t play a part in your wanting to read the book but let’s face it, we are visual creatures and this cover is one of those that instantly captivates you and is just too tempting and interesting a cover for me not to immediately want to read the book.

That aside, once I actually started reading the book I was done for, I loved this book. The writing is beautiful and so detailed, something I definitely expect from the epic fantasy genre. When I say that this book is detailed, do not take that for granted, this is probably one of the most detailed books that I have read in awhile and can get confusing pretty fast if the reader is not giving all of their attention to the story. There are ALOT of characters in this book that each have some very interesting stories and backgrounds but what I thought was really interesting was their relationships with all the other characters.

This story was a pretty unique spin on the biblical “creation” stories that we become familiar with at a young age. It’s sort of the unexplored behind the scenes story. It was so imaginative, dark and sensual…literally impossible for me to put down. The story and it’s characters had me completely engrossed and it’s such a dramatic story right from the start. As I was reading it I found myself making connections between the stories and angels that I am already familiar with and it was just interesting to see the pieces of their stories come together in ways that I could never have imagined. I don’t know about you but I have always been so interested in the angels and the events of the “fall from grace” and this book gives a pretty tempting and unique perspective on these events and was just captivating for me. So interesting! It’s hard for me to choose a favorite character because there are so many great and interesting characters presented to us in this story, some whose stories are so tragic and compelling but I think my favorite character so far is Loki although Ishitar is definitely a close second.

Having started this series, I am DYING to read the next book! I recommend giving this series a read and am going to help you out on that front because I have 20 ebook copies to give away so leave a comment! You won’t be disappointed! Check out the playlist below too to complement your reading of this book!

FFGFULL

 

CARRIE F. SHEPHERDAbout the Author

Carrie F. Shepherd grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. Raised outside of the predominating religion, she sought answers of her own. Fascinated by the mythology of the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, she delved into the old stories and meshed them with the new to create a fascinating world of good versus evil.

 

When not immersed in the world of the Gods, Carrie’s full time job is in Regulatory Compliance. During her time off she enjoys hiking on cooler days or, when the weather permits, hanging out with friends and family by the pool.

 

Carrie now lives in Highlands Ranch, Colorado with her fourteen year old daughter, her dogs (Commander Jon Snow and Sir Buns McGee of Bratwurst) and her cat (Blizzardfur).

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: The Top Ten 2014 debuts I am most excited for!

 

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday theme, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is the Top Ten 2014 Debut’s I’m excited for! I have been creeping on catalogs, blogs and lists for awhile and these are the ten that have most captured my eye, my mind and my curiosity! This list does include a few that have been published this month and also some that will be published in a few days but I still wanted to include them since they were published in 2014 and because I NEED to read them. Hopefully this list introduces you to a book that you may want to read!! (Descriptions from Goodreads)