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!

Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

18460392Title: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Genre: YA – Contemporary
Length: 378 pages
Format: Print – Softcover
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date:  January 6, 2015
Rating – 5 stars

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

 

I decided to pick up All the Bright Places on a whim, not even having read the synopsis but I had seen the cover on Goodreads and I thought it was a really pretty cover. (Yes, I admit it. I like a really pretty cover.) I had no clue that this book was going to be made into a movie but now that I know, that makes me even happier that I finally read it so that I can prepare myself because I am pretty sure that movie is going to make me cry.

All the Bright Places is about Finch and Violet. It is told in their alternating perspectives which are very distinct from each other so the story is easy to follow. Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at their school. They basically talk each other off the ledge, end up getting stuck together on a school project and and find their reasons to go on living each day to its fullest in each other. Both are struggling through their own set of problems and trying to overcome them and their relationship changes both of them forever. 

I don’t even quite know what to say about this or how to quite explain my feelings about it because I have a lot of them. In short, this book wrecked me. It swallowed my heart, chewed it up and spit it out crushed into tiny little pieces. There was quite a bit of ugly crying involved. 

As sad as it made me in some parts, I am really glad that I read it. I laughed, I cried, I got angry and I swooned. 

The story was beautiful and tragic and the writing was beautiful. This is my first Jennifer Niven book and I am looking forward to more of her work because she just writes so beautifully. I loved the way she wrote these characters, Finch and Violet were everything to me of course but even the side characters have some pretty great depth to them. It really reminded me that everyone struggles with something in their life, no matter how perfect they or their life seems to be and reminds me to be mindful of that in my daily interactions with people. 

This book definitely deals with heavy but super important topics like bullying, suicide, mental illness, abuse and death but I think it is done is such a great way. I honestly can’t say enough good things about this book other than READ IT. It is so so so good and devastating and now I have a book hangover from it. 5 stars and I can’t wait to see the movie.

 

Audiobook Review: I am Princess X by Cherie Priest

23399273Title: I am Princess X by Cherie Priest (narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal)
Genre: YA contemporary
Length: 6 hours and 59 minutes
Format: Audiobook via Audible
Publication Date: June 12, 2015
Rating – 5 stars

Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure.

Once upon a few years later, Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard Bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her.

Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window.

Princess X?

When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There’s an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com. The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby’s story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon – her best friend, Libby, who lives.

I don’t know, I went on sort of an Audible binge in the past month and decided to listen to a bunch of audiobooks. I listened to I am Princess X, a book I knew next to nothing about when I decided to add it to cart and listen to it.

I am Princess X is about two childhood best friends Libby and May. They do everything together and most notably create a fictional character named Princess X. One day Libby disappears and later is supposedly found dead but throughout the years May has these recurring dreams that make her believe that there is more to the story. After some time passes and May is now a teenager, she randomly spots a sticker of Princess X while she is out and about in the city. With some digging she soon finds out that Princess X is somewhat of a phenomenon now, which seems impossible due to her friend, and only other person who knew anything about the character, is dead. This launches May to research the series which ultimately opens of a world of questions and leads her on a dangerous quest to find the author behind the Princess X series.

I was SUPER surprised by this book. I abso-freaking-lutely loved this book. I had no idea I would, I just decided to purchase it on a whim. I didn’t look at any reviews or read the synopsis or anything. I’m really glad that I didn’t do any of that because I ended up being so surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. It was really fun to listen to and I would bet that it is also really fun to read. I think that the physical copy is illustrated, it certainly looks like a gorgeous book and one that I must purchase in physical format really really soon for my shelves because it was awesome. I haven’t read a book quite like this one ever. It was a really great story of love and loyalty between friends. It has a lot of things going for it: tragedy, friendship, and danger. I love the scavenger hunt aspect to the story and just the idea behind it was really unique and interesting. Five stars! Loved this book, highly recommend it to anyone who is even remotely a fangirl or into graphic novels or anime. This was a really fun book and I can’t wait to buy a physical copy! I read that the author has written more books so I am going to look into those!

Book Review: Immurement (The Undergrounders Series Book One)

ImmurementTitle: Immurement (The Undergrounders Series Book One) by Norma Hinkens
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction – Dystopian
Length: 247 pages
Format: Ebook
Publication Date:  December 9, 2015
Publisher: Dunecadia Publishing
Rating – 5/5!

The earth’s core overheats. The sovereign leader vanishes. A young girl is the survivors’ only hope …

What little land is habitable is patrolled by cutthroat gangs of escaped subversives, but that’s not the greatest threat facing sixteen-year-old Derry Connelly, her brother Owen, and a ragged band of Preppers holed up in a bunker in the Sawtooth Mountains. Mysterious hoverships operated by clones are targeting adolescents for extraction.

Owen, is one of the first to disappear. To save him, Derry must strike a deal with the murderous subversives, and risk a daring raid to infiltrate the heart of the extraction operation.

But will the rookie leader falter when forced to choose between her brother and a clone who ignites something inside her she didn’t know was possible?

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Happy Monday everyone and most importantly Happy New Year! I am excited to share with you my first read and also, my first review of 2016! I would like to thank the author of this book, Norma Hinkens for reaching out to me and giving me the chance to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review!

Immurement is a dystopian story that follows our main character, Derry Connelly as she tries to live and survive in a world that has been plunged into chaos and is fraught with danger.

I haven’t read a dystopian book in what feels like quite some time so it was really refreshing to be plunged back into the chaotic of environment of a dystopian world. I had alot of fun reading this book and getting lost in it, running through the forests alongside Derry and her dog, Tucker. When I first started the book it sort of gave me the feeling I had when I first started reading The Maze Runner. While I didn’t end up liking The Maze Runner, I ended up really loving Immurement.

As far as characters go, I loved Derry. I love that she’s flawed and that it’s obvious that she’s a character who is growing into herself and her position in her world. I love Derry’s development through the story. When I first started reading it she seemed to me like every teenage girl worried about the normal teenage girl things like boys and her dog but obviously in a more hostile setting. But when we get to the end she has just changed so much and because she has gone through tragedy and has had to make extremely hard decisions in order to survive she has grown up alot, become harder and more of a survivor. It’s interesting to see her try to balance her will to survive with her innate sense of compassion that seems to be missing from alot of people in her world. I appreciate her relationship with Tucker so much and alot of the time it was really endearing to witness their interaction with each other. I also loved a few other characters like Mason and am intrigued by Sven. I’d say I’m pretty intrigued at the love triangle we have brewing. I cannot wait to see how that develops as there is some definite friction between the three people involved.

There are alot of other things that happened in this book with various characters that we meet that I am SO pumped to see resolved in subsequent books. I don’t want to spoil anyone so I won’t mention them but yeah…I can’t wait.

Overall, I am giving this book a five star rating and I am super excited to be giving my first five star rating of the year! I absolutely enjoyed reading this book. I savored it. It was dangerous and fun, definitely action packed. I feel like it had a little of everything that I like in dystopian stories – the danger, the suspense, the science, the rebels, the battles, the tragedies and the romance! Ugh so good and I cannot wait to continue the series which I believe is due out this month so we don’t even have a long time to wait ahhh! Fans of Dystopian (or even just Sci Fi), this one is for you! You can purchase your own copy of book one of this promising series on Amazon at this link: Take Me to Immurement.

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A1es7w2IyAL._SX150_About the Author

Norma Hinkens grew up among vibrant storytelling traditions in her native Ireland. A Celtic bard at heart, she wields her wordsmithing sword with as much wit and eloquence as a bard can muster. She’s a legend-loving author who takes a fiendish delight in pushing reluctant characters over cliffs to find out what they’re made of. Epic odds, seemingly impossible missions, pasts that haunt, intrigue and misadventure. She’s happiest when wrangling provocative big picture ideas that are never black and white when you turn them inside out. It’s all about the tension in the journey. She lived and worked in Germany for several years, and currently resides in California with her husband, three children and Chihuahua extraordinaire. She is the author of The Undergrounders Series, Immurement, Embattlement and Adjudgement, a Young Adult post-apocalyptic, sci-fi adventure trilogy.

You can visit her site at: Norma Hinkens Site and follow her on twitter @NormaHinkens

Blog Tour Book Review – Sapphire: The Shielded Realms by Elayne Griffith

NEWSAPPHIRETitle: Sapphire: The Shielded Realms written by Elayne Griffith
Genre: Epic Fantasy Saga
Publisher: Mythos Press
Page Count: 275 pages
Format: Ebook
Rating: 5/5

There was a flash of light, the ground quaked, and suddenly a large silhouetted shape lifted itself from swirling white flames.”

Shawna’s ordinary life is forever changed when monstrous creatures come scratching at her door, and a black unicorn mysteriously comes to her aid. She then finds herself at the mercy of a sassy old witch, a quirky fairy who’s allergic to her own fairy dust, and a world of magic and nightmares. A world, she discovers, that is not only her own, but is unraveling from an ancient curse. The truth of its origins, and of the shattered sapphires, will take Shawna and her companions on a fantastical adventure through the hidden secrets of the shielded realms.

~ When there is darkness in our lives, and the path is not always clear, all we need to do is believe. ~

 

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Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Sapphire: The Shattered Realms. I would like to give a very warm thank you to the author Elayne Griffith and Mythos Press for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book!

Sapphire: The Shattered Realms is a YA fantasy title about a teenage girl Ava, who on the eve of her sixteenth birthday discovers that her parents have been keeping a terrible secret from her. Not only are they not her real parents but she is from an entirely different world…a world in which fairies, unicorns and enchanted crystals are a reality. Faced with a doomsday prophecy and pretty scary enemies, Shawna embarks on a quest (along with unlikely friends) to claim her birthright and save her world.

I loooooved this book. I have never read a book (that I can remember) that had a unicorn in it and when I was presented with the opportunity to read this book I jumped at the chance, because really who doesn’t love unicorns? I think though that I had the impression that it might be a super cheesy fantasy story but that was a totally wrong impression. It was awesome. It definitely wasn’t cheesy but was super fun and interesting. I absolutely loved all the characters that we meet throughout the story from the ones we meet for only a few seconds like the super cute lor-lor to Shawna, or shall I say, Ava herself.  I really liked her character journey from Shawna to Ava. I found her a little annoying at first but what teenage girl isn’t at that age, I know I was but as her character develops throughout the story I just grew to love her…she turns into a pretty strong, badass girl. I really loved that the romance line of this story was kept pretty light because I think a lot of emphasis in YA novels IS put on the romance lines but this book kept the emphasis on Shawna’s quest and her story which was really cool.

I actually can’t sing enough praises about this book, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I ended up loving it. I was fully engrossed in this world from page one and I just loved every minute of it. What a great, fun, pleasurable read. I am so glad I read this. If you are looking for a fun, YA fantasy to read, I highly recommend reading this book. The writing was awesome and the characters were great. Loved it!

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About the Author PIC1

Elayne Griffith grew up writing, drawing, climbing trees, and riding unicorns…er, horses as a young girl. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and many years of job-bouncing, she suddenly had an epiphany: life is short, do what you love to do. She quit her job in the city and moved back to nature. Many bags of rice and beans later, she has written her first novel. She currently lives in the mountains, happy as a caffeinated squirrel, while continuing to pursue her writing and artistic career. “Follow your passion, for it is your greatest love.”

 

 

WEBSITE: http://www.elaynegriffith.com/
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7093008.Elayne_Griffith
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elayne-Griffith/210228185671724?ref=hl
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/ElayneGriffith

Currently Available at:
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble.com
Createspace
Book Depository
And everywhere EBooks are sold, Worldwide

 SAPPHIRE: THE SHIELDED REALMS
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Book Review: Nameless by Mercedes M. Yardley

namelessTitle: Nameless: The Darkness Comes (The Bone Angel Trilogy) written by Mercedes M. Yardley
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Publisher: Ragnarok Publications
Page count: 227
Format: Epub (read on Microsoft Surface using Nook App) Rating – 4/5

 

Luna Masterson sees demons. She has been dealing with the demonic all her life, so when her brother gets tangled up with a demon named Sparkles, ‘Luna the Lunatic’ rolls in on her motorcycle to save the day.

Armed with the ability to harm demons, her scathing sarcasm, and a hefty chip on her shoulder, Luna gathers the most unusual of allies, teaming up with a green-eyed heroin addict and a snarky demon ‘of some import.’

After all, outcasts of a feather should stick together…even until the end. (Goodreads)

I received Nameless from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Nameless was definitely a different spin on a young adult fantasy than I have ever read so it was a great change of pace for me. It was very dark, a little gritty and sometimes downright spooky. Like most books there were small things about the main character and the story I could pick out that I didn’t like (like Luna falling in love with Reed so fast although I guess when you know you just really do know maybe?). For some reason that really bothered me. Otherwise I thought this book was great…it was a really interesting and fast paced read. I especially enjoyed the action scenes where Luna has to battle some of the demons she sees, let’s just say I really wouldn’t want to be her.

I really love Luna as a character. I feel like she’s a pretty strong female character (except for when it comes to Reed) and I love that she seems like more of a tragic hero. She’s definitely very flawed but has this amazing compassion and loyalty to her family, seems to draw strength from inside herself and just doesn’t give up no matter how hard the going gets…and for her it seems to be plenty hard. She also has this pretty awesome ability to see and interact with demons…which is kind of freaky but equally cool. It’s always interesting to think that there may be some sort of different plane of existence where beings of some kind are walking amongst us and other similar theories. I think this book did such a great job of making a world like that seem possible.

I would love to read more from this series and I am hoping that we get to learn more about Luna and her family background…maybe see if there is any particular reason that this ability seems to be genetic. I loved the ending to this book, although I was hoping that the book had a different ending for Reed…it really makes me think that there could be some sort of tragic romance brewing between Mouth and Luna. I’m very interested in continuing to read this trilogy…if you are a fan of paranormal fantasy I would definitely recommend this book!!

Lastly, how cool is the book cover? It’s definitely fitting and what I would imagine Luna looking like!

Blog Tour Book Review: The Shadow Soul (A Dance of Dragons #1) by Kaitlyn Davis

The Shadow SoulTitle: The Shadow Soul (A Dance of Dragons, #1) written by Kaitlyn Davis
Genre: Fantasy
Self Published
Page count: 231
Format: Epub (read on Microsoft Surface using Freda App)
Release Date: 02/20/14
Rating – 5/5!!

GAME OF THRONES meets GRACELING in a new fantasy series by bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis.

Jinji has been haunted by the death of her twin brother for ten years. Now, on the dawn of her joining, the nightmare that claimed him has returned for her.

Prince Whylrhen is determined to prevent the past from repeating itself. His kingdom is expecting a new heir, and he will stop at nothing to keep the child safe.

Though they’ve never met, the two share a deep secret—magic. Jinji can weave the elements to create master illusions and Whylrhen can pull burning flames into his flesh. But neither of them knows what they are truly capable of until a chance encounter brings them together. For their story has played out before, in a long forgotten time—an age of myth that is about to be reborn…

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

As an avid reader of fantasy titles and a huge fan of Game of Thrones, I was super excited to read this book when I saw that it was reviewed as a “Game of Thrones meets Graceling” in the Goodreads description above. I have never read Graceling although I plan to but I have heard that it’s a great book as well. I’m always pretty sold on anything fantasy and anything with magic or dragons in it so I was happy to sit down and dig into this book.

I really enjoyed this story. I don’t know what it is but I love reading fantasy books with female protagonists although this one switches between a female and a male perspective in which I extremely enjoyed both.

The story opens with Jinij, our female protagonist getting ready for her wedding day although the day turns out to end in a vastly different way than she ever could imagine. She is the last of her people which gives her story and perspective this really sad, desperate element with a lot of internal and external struggle which makes her a really interesting character. For most of this book she is also hiding under the guise of being a male which also lends a pretty interesting twist to the story. When she meets Rhen it is pretty obvious that someway, somehow he will end up being a love interest but not a lot of that is explored in this story although it is hinted at here and there so I am extremely curious and excited for the next book to see what goes on with that aspect of the story. I also love Rhen’s character and how he doesn’t have the attitude or arrogance that one would typically experience when dealing with a character that is a royal. Both of their powers are really interesting and it seems like as the story continues we are going to encounter a lot more people with powers and like we will learn a lot more of why these people are special and why the shadow is interested in them…and maybe if each is a dragon soul!

I am also very curious about the dragons, which weren’t really a huge part of this first book so I’m hoping that they will be a much larger aspect of the next books to come because it seems like this series is going to treat dragons in a whole different way than I have seen before. It’s always wonderful to see authors play with such staples of the fantasy genre and see what they can do differentlyhe S with them.

Aside from this story being interesting and fantastic, I thought the writing was superb. I always think it’s commendable when I don’t encounter mistakes in a final product and I found none!! <applause>!! The writing was detailed and the story was fresh! I always know world building is done right when I feel like I have physically visited the places and seen the people discussed in books and I definitely feel this way about the setting of this book. Well done!

Overall I gave this book a full five out of five rating, I thought this was a fantastic first book in a series. I’m excited to see where this series is going to go, there is definitely a lot of room to build out the series and I think the author is going to do some really interesting stuff with this story. The next book in this series comes out this year so I will be looking forward to that for sure and it is on my TBR list! Fantasy fans will not want to miss this book…it’s definitely YA but I think that it would be a fun read for mature fantasy readers as well! Who doesn’t love an entertaining fantasy read?

Also, a huge thanks to Kaitlyn Davis and YA Bound Book Tours for allowing me to read and review this awesome book!

About the Author

kaitlyn davisI’ve always been a writer. I grew up duct taping my novels together, started writing complete manuscripts in high school and studied creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. Upon graduating, I decided it was finally time to actually give my dream career a chance. So, of course, I started writing a young adult paranormal romance series — and no, I’m not jumping on the bandwagon. I’ve been a true paranormal supporter for my entire life! I blame my obsession almost completely on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my all-time favorite television show. And, before you ask: Yes, I own every season… even the post WB ones! I especially challenge anyone to watch the first three seasons and not fall in love with Angel, securing a lifelong love of vampires! Other culprits of my paranormal obsession are some of my favorite authors: JK Rowling, Raymond Feist, Meg Cabot, Richelle Mead, Lynne Ewing and Tamora Pierce.

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