Book Review – Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

It has been well over a year since I’ve actually written a review. I know, I know. Shame on me. SHAME. But, as I’ve mentioned many times, I’m an extremely lazy person and because I’ve been doing my TT and WWW posts, I usually end up talking about the books I’m reading and pretty much say what I want to say about them. I will try my best to do better. Although that’s not really saying much…since I’m fairly sure I mentioned I was going to try to post more often this summer but not a single post got out last month…heh heh ^^; Anyway, moving on!


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Goodreads Synopsis:

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

This review will be on Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh, the first book in the Flame in the Mist series. This book was released back in May. What?! I’m doing a review on a new book?! Why yes, yes I am. I know I’ve been trying to keep to completed series, but when I read the synopsis for this book I simply couldn’t wait to read it! And so here we are.


My Rating:
4.5/5 stars

So, if you couldn’t tell by the synopsis, this book is loosely based of the story of Mulan. Mulan is one of my favorite Disney movies so that is one of the reasons why I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. And I was not disappointed. The book centers around Mariko, a young woman considered ‘odd’ by her peers because she’s extremely curious and loves asking questions, unlike other women of the time who are meant to pretty much just do what they’re told to by men.

Mariko is shipped off to marry the bastard son of the Emperor, which she has no desire to do, but is attacked in the process. The only survivor, Mariko quickly decides it’s in her best interest to pursue her attackers and find out why they had been sent to kill her, rather then return home only to be sent right back to the palace. This is her last time to be her own woman and she’s not going to let it slip by.

Mariko is a wonderful main character. She’s intelligent, quick-thinking, and always has something to say, which gets her into a bit of trouble on occasion. She hates that she’s treated so differently because she was born a girl and it frustrates her when those around her don’t take the time to listen to what she has to say.

Her twin brother, Kenshin, is another character that pops up quite a bit. He doesn’t believe his sister to be dead, like everyone else, so his main purpose in the book is trying to find her. He is a well known samurai, known as the Dragon of Kai. He’s not someone to show all that much emotion, but a few times throughout the book we catch glimpses of what he’s really feeling, which was nice. I’m hoping to get a better overall feel of him in the next book though.

Two of my other favorite characters are Okami and Ranmaru. I won’t go into any detail about them, however, because that would probably lead to spoilers.

The world-building was fantastic. I especially enjoyed that there was fantasy mixed into the story. For the most part, Mulan is rather realistic – the only fantasy part really being Mushu – so it was nice that the author twisted the story even more to allow for some fantasy elements. There was also some romance in the mix, but nothing over-powering the plot.

The overall plot was well thought out, with a few plot twists sprinkled here and there. There are still questions that need answering, plus the ending of the book makes it so there is most definitely going to be a sequel, so I’m looking forward to reading the second book! I recommend this book to all those looking for some fantasy YA and, of course, to those who enjoy Mulan.

Happy reading! :)

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Book Review – The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

So yeah, I haven’t done a book review since last fall. Shame on me, shame on me. I was planning on doing one for the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn, but I sped through that series so it was hard to go back to the beginning once I was finished. I feel like it’s going to be the same for The Hollows series by Kim Harrison that I’m currently reading. Either way, I’m doing this one now so that’s all that matters!


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Goodreads synopsis:

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.

So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.

A gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: When does man become the very thing he hunts?

This review will be centered on the first book in The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey, The Monstrumologist. This one has been on my TBR list for awhile. I’m fairly sure I found it through my good friend Emily, because she highly recommends this book whenever it is brought to attention. So, although I’m not sure if you ever directly recommended it to me, thanks Emmy! xD On to the review!


My Rating:
4/5 starsfour-stars

As you can tell from the above rating, I ended up enjoying this book. However, it was a bit slow-going in the beginning. But that tends to happen in many books when the author is trying to get you more familiar with the main characters. The writing style was a bit different than what I’m usually accustomed to, but it fit very well with the time period of the story. I thought at first it was a bit ‘mature sounding’, being in the POV of a twelve-year-old, but then I had to remind myself it was actually Will Henry telling the story as an adult. Either way, it quickly grew on me. Although, it makes me curious about the writing style of The Fifth Wave series. I have yet to read the series,  but since it’s written by the same author I may give it a go sometime in the future. It’s in a different time period and, obviously it’s a different plot, but I wonder what similarities the two series might have.

Despite it starting out a tad slow, as more characters are introduced the plot steadily picks up until it’s non-stop action. Speaking of characters, the two main characters in the story are Dr. Pellinore Warthrop and his assistant, twelve-year-old Will Henry.

Warthrop is a monstrumologist – he studies monsters, as did his father, his father’s father, and so on. He’s a genius but, like many who claim to be the same, he’s a bit on the odd side. He’s ambitious and can tend to be rather cold and uncaring to those around him. He see’s Will Henry as only his assistant and most of the time ignores the fact that he is just a child. However, by the end of the book the reader does catch a few glimpses of his softer side.

Will Henry was orphaned about a year before this story takes place. His father was Warthrop’s previous assistant, so that is the only reason he came to live with the doctor. He has been training as the doctor’s assistant since then. He’s rather intelligent, yet fairly timid. He tries his best to do everything Warthrop wants him to do – it makes him happy to be able to please the doctor –  but Warthrop isn’t the easiest person to get along with so sometimes it’s quite difficult.

Another character that pops in about halfway through the book is Jack Kearns. He’s a fellow monstrumologist. He is described as boyishly handsome and he usually always has a smirk playing across his lips. Most of the time he acts as if everything is a joke. Although him and the doctor are in the same line of work, Kearns’ morals aren’t quite the same as Warthrop’s.  Where Warthrop would rather save a life, Kearns wouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice someone for his work. I really enjoyed his character.

There were a few other supporting characters that moved the story along and they all had their own important roles to play in the story.

Although this book is labeled as a YA novel, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone that is squeamish. It has quite a few detailed scenes that can only be described as gory. Take in mind that it is labeled as horror as well. But if you don’t mind that, then give this series a try! It was a bit different from what I usually read, but with the unique collection of characters and a plot that takes its time at the beginning but picks up towards the middle and finishes strong at the end, it was overall an enjoyable read for me. I’m looking forward to reading the next three in the series!

Happy reading! :)

Book Review – Dog Days series by John Levitt

Alrighty then. Once again, it’s been awhile since I’ve done a book review. That’s mainly because I took the time to re-read the Harry Potter series. Plus, I usually do my reviews on series as a whole, so I always wait until I’ve read the entire series before reviewing it. Either way, I decided I better get this review done before I procrastinate too much and forget what happened in the series…^^;


This review will be focused on the Dog Days series written by John Levitt.

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This series contains four books:


Here is a Goodreads synopsis of the first book in the series:

Mason used to be an enforcer, ensuring that suspect magic practitioners stayed in line. But now he scrapes out a living playing guitar. Good thing he has Louie, his magical…well, let’s call him a dog. But there are some kinds of evil that even Louie can’t sniff out. And when Mason is attacked by a supernatural assailant, he’ll have to fall back on the one skill he’s mastered in music and magic – improvisation.


My Rating:
4/5 stars
four-stars

The setting is focused in San Francisco, California. Mason, the main character, lives in a world very much like our own, but where magic is well…real. However, they prefer the word ‘talent’. Practitioners, those who can control talent, are on the down low, as well as anything else that falls under the supernatural category. And they like it that way. Too much attention from non-practitioners usually leads to trouble.

Mason, a sardonic young man who has a cliche-like problem with authority, used to be an enforcer – or rather a practitioner who kept other practitioners in line – but wasn’t too fond of taking orders, so he quit. As the synopsis stated, he now lives a quiet life playing the guitar with Lou, his dog…who isn’t really a dog. Lou is an Ifrit. Ifrits are magical beings that occasionally appear to a practitioner and become their companion. They’re very mysterious creatures; no one knows what they are exactly, or where they come from. But ever practitioner who has one is lucky they do.

After an attempt on his life, Mason goes looking for help from a few of his old friends, which include: Eli, a genius and former linebacker, with little talent of his own, Sherwood, Mason’s old girlfriend but who is now just a friend, and Mason’s old boss Victor, an extremely gifted practitioner, who wouldn’t really count as a friend…let’s just say they tolerate each other. Barely.

And the story goes from there. Each book has its own unique plot, but steadily leads to something larger in the end. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending, but I rarely am so I’m slightly biased on that part. But the overall series was a great read. Levitt’s writing style was smooth, his characters well thought out, and the world-building left me wishing it was real instead of fiction.

So, if you’re looking for a short urban fantasy series give this one a try and tell me what you think! I certainly enjoyed it.

Happy reading! :)

Book Review – Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest

I just want to say a quick sorry that things have been slow on my end recently. Last week was busier than usual so I didn’t even get a chance to post for Teaser Tuesday or WWW Wednesday… D; But, things have calmed down a bit so I’m working on book reviews, since this isn’t the only one I have to do, and a few other things as well. So expect a bombard of posts from me in the next couple of days!


NOTE: I received a free digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

On her birthday, Zaria Fierce finds her usual path to school blocked by an ugly river-troll. At first she’s surprised and curious, but then Olaf threatens to eat her, which is an act Zaria could not in good conscience consent to, so Zaria counteroffers. A deal is struck and she goes to school, but Zaria is about to learn the hard way that one does not trick a river-troll and expect to win.

This review will be on Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett. After reading the review on this book by Analee @ Book Snacks, I added this book to my TBR list on Goodreads. I have to say I was quite surprised when Keira sent me a message on Goodreads, asking if I’d like to read her book in exchange for a review. This was the first time an author has approached me so I was definitely excited, if not a bit nervous! But anyway, on to the actual review!


My Rating:
4/5 stars
four-stars

The plot in this story focuses on 13-year-old Zaria as she travels far from home in order to rescue her best friend, Christoffer, from a river-troll. Accompanied by three of Christoffer’s other friends, she runs into all sorts of mystical creatures she never knew existed. The story is fast-paced and filled to the brim with action. If you’re looking for an action-packed adventure dipped in fantasy, look no further. This book kept me on my toes with its many cliffhangers and plot twists; it was quite hard to put down at times. Plus, I’m all about fantasy stories and this one definitely wasn’t lacking in that department.

As for characters, Zaria was a fantastic main one. She was a bit more timid at first, but as the story went on she opened up and became more confidant in herself. She knows how to think on her feet in difficult situations and shows empathy towards others while her companions don’t. The three boys that joined her on her quest are also enjoyable, having accepted her as part of the group and always doing their best to keep each other safe. However, I do wish there was a bit more distinction between them. All three of their personalities seemed rather similar so that sometimes I wasn’t able to tell who was saying what during conversations, unless it stated who was talking.

Gillett’s writing style was superb. It flowed well, was descriptive in all of the right places, and her use of dialogue was great. Although at times I felt like the way the kids spoke was slightly odd. Maybe because I wasn’t that mature at thirteen? xD Also, there was one part where I felt it might not have been entirely realistic. MINOR SPOILER AHEAD. At one point the group was being chased but then had to stop and fight, having been given weapons by an older character. They were able to use the weapons a bit too well, in my opinion. If, having never used one before, someone had handed me a bow and arrow at thirteen I wouldn’t have been any help at all. That’s just my opinion. However, they didn’t have any time to sit there and learn how to use the weapons, so I suppose it’s understandable in that situation. SPOILER ENDED.

Overall, this was a fantastic read with likable characters and an engaging story line. I am most definitely looking forward to reading the second book in this series. There is going to be one, I hope! Otherwise I would be very sad. If you’re looking for a fun, easy read filled with fantasy check out Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest!

Book Review – Nikki & Michael series by Keri Arthur

So it’s been awhile since I’ve done a book review. But that’s mainly because I usually do the entire series in one review. True, I finished up this series a little while ago but I’ve been lazy…as usual. But I’ve done it! I’m very proud of myself. I’m also proud because I’ve actually been keeping up with the two book memes I do every week. Anyway, rambling…here’s my review!


   

This review is on the Nikki and Michael series by Keri Arthur. The four books include:


My Rating:
4/5 stars
four-stars

This is the third short series I’ve read by Keri Arthur. I’ve mentioned a few times that I really enjoy her writing style. It’s simple yet there’s plenty of description. It’s also very ‘to-the-point’ and doesn’t have many slower parts. Each and every book in the series was action-packed. The POV switched between Nikki and Michael and I believe Arthur pulled that off very well, since I know sometimes it gets a bit confusing if the writer doesn’t do it right. I feel like that also made the reader want to keep reading because Arthur liked to leave a cliff hanger at the end of the chapter with one character, then the next chapter would be in the other character’s POV so the reader would have to wait until the chapter after to find out what happens, since Nikki and Michael weren’t always together in the story. That might frustrate some people, but I personally enjoyed it.

 Nikki and Michael were both excellent main characters. Nikki was stubborn and could be a bit rash, but always knew when she needed to step up her game. Michael was quick-witted, mysterious, and also quite hard-headed. The banter between the two was fun to read, however, I do wish there was a bit more humorous parts in this series. The few supporting characters definitely contributed to the story as well. As for the romance, in the first book it was on the back-burner of the overall plot but the reader knew it was bound to happen eventually. I don’t care for ‘insta-love’, so I was glad it took Nikki and Michael awhile to admit their feelings. Both characters develop rather nicely throughout the series and the reader also gets hints of their, fairly dark, pasts.

I’d have to say I enjoyed the first book the most. Mostly because I liked the main antagonist of this book better than the other three. Don’t get me wrong, the other books were great reads as well, but I have a weak spot for the bad guys and the first book just happened to have to best one out of the four, in my opinion. As for the ending of the series, it didn’t really feel like an ending. Except for the short epilogue in the last book, it felt like just another installment. I actually wouldn’t have minded if there were at least two or three more. But there were no major cliff hangers or anything so I was still fairly satisfied. I will definitely be reading more of Arthur’s series.

Happy reading! :)

Book Review – Connor Grey series by Mark Del Franco (Part 2)

Alrighty then! This is my second review on this series. I’ve done one on the first three books in the series so this will be focused on the last three. You can find my first review here. I finished up the sixth book…almost two weeks ago? So sorry this has taken me so long. As I’ve mentioned in almost every post, I procrastinate. A lot. As I’m sure many of my fellow bloggers do at some point or another. But moving on…this review will be on the last three books of the Connor Grey series by Mark Del Franco.

 

The last three books include:

My Rating: 4/5 stars for each book
four-stars

Throughout this series I have given each book four stars. And that’s because, obviously, I have found this to be an enjoyable read. I loved Franco’s world-building and his writing style was also amazing. I actually found myself attached to most of the main characters as well. The action scenes were suspenseful and kept you wanting more and although romance wasn’t the main focus of the series, it was there.

In the last three books Connor definitely grows as a character. He can be rather childish, and still slightly arrogant, at times but overall he’s a good guy just trying to do what he thinks is best for everyone. Sometimes that includes himself, but most of the time it’s for the people he cares about. If Connor is anything, it’s loyal to those that have earned his trust. He makes a fantastic main character.

In my previous review I mentioned a few more characters including Connor’s gym buddy and police detective, Leo Murdock, the hilarious flit and Connor’s life-long friend, Joe, and Meryl, a sassy Guild researcher. As this series progresses you delve deeper into all three of their lives and, as I mentioned before, I found myself rather attached to them. Two other characters that I truly enjoyed are Shay, a young male prostitute introduced in the first book, and Dylan, Connor’s former Guild partner.

In these last three books the plot pretty much skyrockets until the ending. It just goes BAM BAM BAM! Plot twists thrown left and right. A lot goes on but it’s not overwhelming in the sense you don’t understand what’s happening. However, I do have mixed feelings about the very end of the sixth book. I found that to be slightly confusing, which left me a bit unsatisfied. By overall, this series was wonderful and I’ll definitely be looking into what else Mark Del Franco has written.

Happy reading! :)

Book Review – Raised by Wolves series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Sorry I haven’t been very active recently. I wanted to get through an entire series before doing a review. Plus, I’m lazy. But anyway, I finished this series the other day so here’s my review! I own the first book in the Raised by Wolves series and read it back when it first came out. I remembered enjoying it, so I thought I’d reread it as well as read the other two books in this trilogy since I never went back to it.

The series includes three books:

  • Raised by Wolves
  • Trial by Fire
  • Taken by Storm

Here is the Goodreads synopsis for the first book to give you an idea of what the story is about:

Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it.  That doesn’t mean that she’s averse to breaking a rule or two. 

But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian’s basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents’ murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.

But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she’s shaped?

My Rating:
Raised by Wolves – 4/5 stars
Trial by Fire – 4/5 stars
Taken by Storm – 3.5/5 stars

 Overall, I enjoyed this series. I liked Barnes’s writing style. It was nice and simple and easy to read. The plot was interesting. I love werewolves so that’s why I picked this up in the first place. Barnes goes into a good amount of detail about what it’s like to live among werewolves and their basic way of living. Although I gave it the same rating as the first one, I actually enjoyed the second book the best out of the three. I liked the plot a bit better than those of the other two books and more characters were introduced. I gave the third one a slightly smaller rating because I had mixed feelings about how the series ended. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t say any more about that. But if you’ve read this series and want to discuss it, definitely let me know and we can talk about it!

So, characters. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Bryn at first, but I did. She’s stubborn, strong-willed, and a bit of a trouble-maker. Okay, maybe a little more than ‘a bit’. But she has to be this way, having grown up in a pack of werewolves. She’s always been the weakest so she has to make up for it somehow. She’s loyal to her friends and will do anything to keep them safe. She has a habit of rushing into a situation before thinking it through, but throughout the series she becomes better at controlling that and learns to think before acting.

Chase is a newly turned werewolf who appears to have a connection with Bryn’s past. He was a likable character, but not much is really known about him except that he is extremely loyal to Bryn. There’s a bit of romance between him and Bryn, which I thought was a little rushed, but it’s definitely not a big part in the series. Devon, Bryn’s best friend, was probably my favorite character. He’s very dramatic and would definitely be labeled as the comic relief in the series. He cares a lot about his appearance and doesn’t give two shits about whatever people think of him. He has a very close relationship with Bryn and they would do anything for each other. Their relationship was refreshing because it’s rare for people of the opposite sex to be so close without any sexual undertones. And no, he’s not gay. Lake, Bryn’s other best friend, is one of the few female werewolves. She’s extremely blunt and is obsessed with weapons. She has a shotgun named Matilda.

Ali, the only other human in a pack full of wolves, joined in order to take care of Bryn. She’s a very caring person but can be quite scary when she needs to be. I like how her character progresses throughout the series. Callum, the pack Alpha, is also an enjoyable character. He can appear fairly laid-back but if you underestimate him you’ll be sorry. Sometimes the things he does are frustrating, so I’m sure it’s not uncommon to have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with this character. I feel that most of the characters in the series are rather likable and they definitely make the story more fun and enjoyable.

And I’ll stop there. This series is a quick, easy read and I’m glad I went back to it. If it’s something you seem interested in, I would recommend checking it out.

Happy reading! :)