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.

 

Book Review: Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius

IMG_0704Title:  Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius
Genre:  YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Length: 289 pages
Format: ARC Paperback
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Rating – 5/5!!!!!!

In this wonderfully creative retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school.

Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.

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Good morning everyone!! Today is Saturday and it’s a three day weekend so I am super excited about that and hoping to get some good reading time in. I started that off by finishing my read of Anne & Henry  by Dawn Ius. I requested this ARC from Simon Pulse and was SO delighted to open my mailbox one day and it was sitting there in all it’s hot pink glory (I love this cover btw) so I want to give a BIG thank you to Simon Pulse for giving me the chance to read this book for an honest review!

I originally encountered this book when searching through upcoming releases on Goodreads’ Listopia feature, as I sometimes do for hours on end. I have to be honest and say that the cover really appealed to me so I decided to click on it and read the description. As soon as I read the description I was hooked. I don’t get around to reading alot of YA contemporary books but after reading this one, I am going to try to read more. When I read that this was a contemporary spin on the romance of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, I knew that it was a must read for me.

This book is told in the dual perspectives of both Henry and Anne. We meet Henry first and learn that he is the youngest son of the Tudor family which is a highly respected, influential and rich family in his town of Medina. The story opens at a party where Henry is escorted by his long time girlfriend Catherine. He seems to have everything…a rich family, a prospective political future, he’s the quarterback of the football team and the list goes on but we also learn that he has a tragic story as well that leaves him internally conflicted. At this party he sees Anne for the first time. She’s the new, mysterious girl who has just moved to his hometown. She’s rebellious, sexy and bold…successfully spinning Henry’s world off of it’s axis.

Woah. This was a whirlwind of a story and a total hurricane of a romance. I really liked how the romance was adapted to a high school scenario. It definitely seemed very real to me, as though the events that transpired in the book could definitely happen in the high schools of today. I really loved this book and enjoyed it from beginning to end. I enjoyed the romance aspect of it, I did feel like they fell in love really fast but I think for this story it really works. For me this book was a roller coaster ride of emotions that finally ended in my total devastation. I have a book hangover…it was such a good book. Very nicely done. I just love how this story was translated into a modern scenario. I definitely think that if you are a history buff you need to go into this with an open mind, it’s an adaptation so it doesn’t exactly match what we know of the actual romance of Henry and Anne but there are fun tidbits thrown in that you will remember from history class. And the last freaking sentence of this book!!! I just can’t!!!

I’m not going to give any spoilers because you must read this book.  I gave it a five out of five stars.The only issue I had with it was I wasn’t fully satisfied with the little of what we got from Anne’s background. I really wanted to know more about her life before her move to Medina, but even so, I really loved her. That small issue I had with it was far overshadowed by all the feelings I had for this book and all the fun I had when I was reading it. It’s a pretty light read and trust me, you will be so into it that the read will go really fast. This is a book that I definitely recommend and is probably among my favorites of this year. I will definitely be getting a finished copy of it!

If you have read this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. If you read it in the coming days, weeks or months and want to come back and share or fangirl with me, please do!

Happy reading everyone!

(P.S. I hope you like the picture of this ARC I took on my bookshelf the other day. I normally use the Goodreads book covers but this time I decided to take my own pic because it was just too gorgeous to not)

Cover Reveal: Lost (Awaken Series Book #2)!

I am oh so excited to be a part of the cover reveal for the second book in an awesome series. I reviewed the first book Awaken and am super excited to read Lost when it’s released!! Anyway, how gorgeous is this cover?!

Title: Lost (Awaken Series Book #2)

Author: Jaime Guerard

Genre: YA Paranormal Romantic Thriller

Cover Designer: Kimberley Marsot (K-Design)

lost cover

Lost Blurb:

One…Two…Three…Breathe

There is no other choice

You know what you have to do

Don’t think, Bre, just go

I begin to take my final step forward, feeling the urgency of what I know I should do, but I immediately think of who I will be leaving behind. If I go I won’t be able to say goodbye. I won’t be able to tell him that I love him. I want to tell him that I’m sorry for what’s going to happen to me, and beg him to forgive me for what I’m about to do.

Tears begin to filter from my eyes as I realize there is no other choice. Perhaps I will finally know why I have been given this gift of seeing into the future.

Accepting that this is my lot—my final end—I take a deep breath and run to the boy. As I do, I block out everything and everyone that I love far from my mind.

Time has run out for me.

Don’t think, Bre, just go.

Lost, the electrifying sequel to The Awaken series, will draw you deeper into the world that Bre is beginning to unfold. This riveting novel will prove that true love comes in many forms, that deception is all around us, that the secrets of our opposers are often hidden in plain sight, and that the world in which we dwell holds more than what we see on the surface.

Goodreads

Jaime Guerard - Copy (2)

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LOST is the sequel to AWAKEN in the Awaken Series by Jaime Guerard! See what readers are saying about AWAKEN!

“Right when you think you have it all figured out, you are thrown in the opposite direction. The end of the book…my jaw was on the floor!” – Two Sassy Chicks Blog

“The story building was just plain amazing and super intense. When I got to the last page all I could think was, WOW.” – Maria’s Book Blog

“Awaken kept me at the edge of my seat, biting my nails and wondering what would happen next!” – Melanie Dawn, Author of So Much It Hurts

Goodreads

Awaken

AmazonB&NiBookstore