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!


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! :)


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!


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! :)

Anime Review – Hunter x Hunter (Part 2)

Okay, well I’m not as lazy as I thought. Although I said I may write another review once I’ve finished watching this series, I’ve decided to do it a bit earlier. My previous review was on the Hunter Exam arc (ep. 1-21), but this one will focus on the next three: the Zoldyck Family arc (ep. 22-26), the Heavens Arena arc (ep. 27-38), and the Yorknew City arc (ep. 39-58).

In my other review I expressed that I was really loving this show. I said I hoped it only got better from the first arc. Guess what? IT DOES! I’d like to think I’ve watched my fair share of anime, and I have to say this one is turning out to be one of my favorites.

BE WARNED:  This review will contain spoilers, so if you haven’t watched this anime before and are planning to, I would suggest you don’t read any further. If you don’t care, feel free to continue reading! :)


The Zoldyck Family Arc

This arc is short, including only five episodes. I can’t quite remember if it’s revealed at the end of the first arc, or the beginning of this one, but it’s now known that Killua comes from a family of professional assassins. It’s not all that surprising, considering some of Killua’s actions during the first arc. After facing his brother and failing the Hunter Exam, Killua returns home. Gon, having been unconscious during the event that led to Killua’s failure, heard what happened and decides to go ‘rescue’ him. Leorio and Kurapika join him.

Killua was a bit of a mystery in the first arc, so I enjoyed these episodes because you get a glimpse into a bit of his background. Having met one of his brother’s in the previous arc, I’m sure people were curious to find out what the other members of his family are like. You don’t get to meet every member but you are introduced to most of them, including his brother Milluki, his mother, Kikyo, his brother, Kalluto, his grandfather, Zeno, and his father, Silva. These few episodes give you a taste of their personalities and why Killua is the way he is.

The Heavens Arena Arc

After Killua rejoins the group, Leorio and Kurapika decide to go their own ways. Gon and Killua wish to train more, and make some money, so Killua suggests they head to Heavens Arena, where people can make money by fighting one another as they ascend the giant tower. While there, they meet a few new characters and once again encounter Hisoka. Due to the events in the first arc, Gon is in Hisoka’s debt and the only way he’ll be able to repay that debt is when he can punch Hisoka in the face. That’s one of the main reasons he’s been training so hard.

During their training, the two boys learn about Nen, a technique which allows a person to manipulate their own life force. After being taught this ability, they are able to defeat more difficult foes. Impressed, Hisoka invites Gon to fight him.

The fight between Hisoka and Gon is definitely one of my favorite parts in the anime so far. They are two of my favorite characters. Hisoka is one of the creepiest (if you watch it you’ll see why) ‘villains’…ever, but that just makes him an even better antagonist. Gon manages to punch Hisoka and return his tag. Unfortunately, he doesn’t win the fight. Deciding it’s time to leave Heavens Arena, the boys take their winnings and head back to Gon’s home on Whale Island. There they find a clue left by Gon’s father, Ging.

The Yorknew City Arc

This arc focuses mainly on Kurapika and the Phantom Troupe, the group of Nen users that murdered his people, leaving him the sole survivor of the Kurta clan. Back at the end of the Zoldyck Family arc, the four main characters promise to meet back up in Yorknew City on September 1st, due to some information Hisoka gave Kurapika during the final stage of the Hunter Exam.

It’s known that an underground auction is happening in the city. Kurapika finds a job as a bodyguard for someone with connections to the auction, and Gon and Killua wish to attend the auction to gain access to a video game called Greed Island, due to the clue from Ging. Leorio also comes back into the picture to help out.

This arc is extremely fast-paced and just as great as the others. You get to witness Kurapika’s development during the past six months (he’s pretty bad-ass now, not that he wasn’t before) and you get an intimate look at most of the Troupe members. I enjoy books and anime that focus on the side of both the protagonists and the antagonists.

I don’t want to spoil anything else, so I won’t go into further detail about this arc. But it’s awesome. So go watch it. Like, right now. Seriously. GO!

And that’s about it! I’ll probably write a review for the last three arcs as well, although that may take awhile since I still have…90 episodes to watch. And I’m watching other things at the moment as well. But it will get written! Eventually! :D

Thanks for reading!

Anime Review – Hunter x Hunter

I mentioned in my first post that I may do an occasional TV show or anime review, so that’s what this is! So if you aren’t interested in this post because it’s not about books feel free to ignore it.


This is a review on the first 21 episodes of Hunter x Hunter. Instead of seasons it seems to go by arcs, so in other words this review focuses on the Hunter Exam arc.

A summary of the show:

The story begins with a young boy named Gon Freecss, who one day discovers that his father, whom he thought was dead, is in fact alive and well. He learns that his father, Ging, is a legendary “Hunter”, an individual who has proven themselves an elite member of humanity. Despite the fact that Ging left his son with his relatives in order to pursue his own dreams, Gon becomes determined to follow in his father’s footsteps, pass the rigorous “Hunter Examination”, and eventually find his father to become a Hunter in his own right. (wikipedia)

I’ve been meaning to watch this anime for awhile now but just never got around to it. I SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN AROUND TO IT. I know I’m only twenty-one episodes in, but I really enjoyed those first twenty-one episodes. I’m crossing my fingers that it will only get better from here.

So this arc focuses on Gon taking the Hunter Exam. The exam contains multiple phases and each year they are completely different, giving no advantage to those who have taken it many times. I won’t go into detail about the phases, don’t want to spoil anything, but I would definitely not be able to pass the exam (though I suppose that’s not saying much…*lazy*).

This anime is full of action, humor, and fantasy. So far I love the story and all the different characters. It can be a bit cheesy at times, but what anime isn’t?

Make sure if you decide to watch it, watch the one with 148 episodes that began in 2011. There is an older version with 62 episodes, but it doesn’t stay faithful to the manga. This one does. The first 100 episodes can be found on Netflix, otherwise all 148 can be found on Crunchyroll.

I’ll write a little about the main characters. They include Gon, Kurapika, Leorio, and Killua.

Gon_DesignGon is a cheerful, energetic, and friendly kid. He’s a bit simple-minded but is determined to pass the exam so that he can become a Hunter like his father, who he knows pretty much nothing about. He’s extremely loyal to his friends, rather impulsive, and doesn’t always think things through.

While on his way to take the exam, Gon comes across Kurapika and Leorio.

Kurapika_DesignKurapika is a slightly more serious character. He’s intelligent and level-headed, not being one to rush into things without thinking it through first, unlike Gon. Due to his tragic past, however, he has a tendency to lose control of himself in emotional situations.

Leorio_DesignLeorio comes off as a narcissistic young man who appears to value money over everything else. He’s stubborn and easily riled up. He butts heads with Kurapika at first, but once he gets to know the others he is nothing but loyal. He is also the comic relief in most situations.

Gon, Kurapika, and Leorio meet Killua during the first phase.


Killua is a bit of a mystery in the beginning. He appears to be similar to Gon – cheerful, energetic, and mischievous. Later on it is revealed that he has a more sinister side. He takes an immediate interest in Gon due to the fact that they are the same age.

So far Gon and Killua are my favorite characters, along with the main antagonist thus far, Hisoka.

And that about wraps it up. If you’re in to anime and are looking for something to watch, check Hunter x Hunter out. I may write another review when I finish watching all 148 episodes, but then again I may not. Just depends on how lazy I’m feeling by then. Thanks for reading!