BOOK REVIEW: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh

BOOK REVIEW: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh(Flame in the Mist, #1)
by Renee Ahdieh
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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.

“The only power any man has over you is the power you give him.” 

Holy guacamole. This was wonderful.

HOW COME NO ONE TOLD ME THIS IS A SERIES AHHHHHH. I WAS NOT PREPARED….

Alright. I wasn’t that into the first 30-40%. It wasn’t bad at all, but I just wasn’t really connecting. Mariko is on the way to her betrothed (the prince) when she gets attacked by who she believes is the Black Clan. She manages to escape (as told by the synopsis), but she refuses to return home and tell of her survival until she can figure out who paid the Black Clan to kill her. So, she infiltrates their camp and attempts to gain their trust. 

Mariko has quite the aversion to men, being that men predominately rule in their society and women are left to please men. I totally get that, and Mariko was justified in feeling that way, but she does bring it up quite a lot. Almost too much, but whatever.

Anyway, about half way through, once we’re into the Black Clan hideout, things start to get interesting. And they just keep getting better and better. I literally could not put it down past the 70% mark. Like holy wowza… SO GOOD. It was non stop, action packed, with so many fun turns. AND THE END AHHHHH WHAT DO I DO NOW?!?!

I TOTALLY GUESSED THE TWIST TOO. And I don’t even care that I guessed it because it was so great. I was actually hoping I was right because just.. yes. So good. 

Some of the highlights for me were:

1. Japanese inspired culture. Lush and gorgeous.
2. Okami. And he the fact that he has long hair.
3. Topknots.
4. The scene where Mariko falls from the… cliff thing.
5. Gorgeous quotes, like the following…

“A blossom can split through a rock, given enough time.”

I did have a few small complaints – one being the magic system. It was really confusing and not really explained at all – no rules were mentioned and it seemed very random. I’m assuming this will be explained much more in the next book, but it was odd to me that it was so sporadic. 

The only other thing was the writing- not that it was bad. It just felt a bit dry and hard to follow at times. I felt the same way about Ahdieh’s other series too – ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’. Whatever, the story here is amazing.

All in all, I totally recommend this. I’d read it again in a heartbeat.

Quote of The Week #2 | Let’s crush our soul in a Fantasy novel

This is  Quote of the Week‘s time again! Every week we share one of our favorite quotes, depending on the theme we choose… and let’s be real, that shit is HARD, okay? CHOICES. CHOICES EVERYWHERE.

The theme for this week is :

~ a quote in a Fantasy novel that crushed our soul ~

And something small and insignificant inside me shatters, just like every night, and feelings hit too hard for me to stand. I bend at the waist and cling to the windowsill. I won’t scream. I won’t throw myself against the walls until the supports give and we fall into the ocean. I won’t think about swimming as hard as I can.”

About the book

Be careful what you believe in. Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house. Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life. TW – Graphic scenes of abuse.

ADD IT ON GOODREADS | BUY IT ON AMAZON

“Kell tried to pull free, but Maxim was built like a tree, and his massive hand gripped the back of Kell’s neck. “I can’t keep atoning,” Kell whispered into the king’s shoulder. “I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.

About the book

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London. Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port. And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

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“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”

About the book

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

ADD IT ON GOODREADS | BUY IT ON AMAZON

Now, your turn! Tell us, which quotes crushed your soul?

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne

Walk of Shame is my FAVORITE Lauren Layne book to date! So check out my 5 Star review below and enter the giveaway! Enjoy!

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Walk of Shame by Lauren LayneWalk of Shame (Love Unexpectedly #4)
by Lauren Layne
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.

Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.

Review:

Walk of Shame was crazy addicting, laugh out loud hilarious and continually pulled at my heartstrings. And when I closed the book, I couldn’t stop the happy tears! Here’s a few reasons why this is definitely my new favorite LL book!

✮Fabulous Heroine –

I put on my widest, sparkliest smile, only because I know it drives him crazy.
As always, I see a muscle in his jaw twitch as I flutter my eyelashes.
“Good morning, Andrew,” I say sweetly.
“Georgiana.”

I loved Georgiana Watkin’s voice, aka Georgie, and that her happiness and friendliness was infectious. She was this honest, bubbly, hilarious women who had the most generous heart. She was such a good person…..even though she loved to get under Andrew’s skin. But besides all that, she talked directly to us readers, sporadically. It made me feel like Georgie was my bff and I happily listened as she poured her heart and soul out to me. I loved everything about Manhattan’s famous party girl!

✮Rigid Yet Sexy Hero –

I pop another piece of donut in my mouth and smile. “It’s fine. I won’t tell a soul you checked me out.”
“I wasn’t—” He clears his throat. “Forget it. You’re ridiculous.”
I’m grinning outright now, because that’s two you’re ridiculouses this morning, and when he takes to repeating himself, I know I’ve successfully gotten under his skin.
Georgie, one; Andrew Mulroney, Esquire, zero.

Andrew Mulroney, Esquire…a famous divorce attorney…. was structured, rigorous and completely no-nonsense. Yet he captivated me, especially when he had his morning squabbles with Georgie. It was so much fun watching Georgie push Andrew’s buttons, and getting glimpses into the other sides of him. Even if I was always left wanting to desperately know or learn more about the allusive Andrew. Because even though it seemed as though Andrew was always in control, he wasn’t always on his game and he was insanely hot when jealous! And I have to put this out there, but I truly believe that fans of Michael from After the Kiss, will fall just as hard for Andrew!!

✮Fun and Flirty Vibe –

If I had even a lick of sense, I’d forget him and this weird game we’re playing. Instead I keep coming back for more.
I’ve been thinking about why, and, well . . . I’m simply not used to people not liking me. And yes, I know how that sounds. Diva much? But really, usually people at least want to be my friend. He hated me on sight for no reason, and I seem to be having a wee bit of a difficult time letting it go.

Georgie’s party girl routine rubbed Andrew’s off to the gym and then the corner office vibe at 5am the wrong way. Their morning confrontation in their lobby was always entertaining and the electricity running between the two of them was scorching hot. Well actually anytime they were near each other I always found myself smiling, laughing and then wanting to shove them together lol. Besides Walk of Shame being so much fun, LL writes some of the best banter, and she hit gold with Georgie and Andrew!

This book about polar opposites had me a giddy, laughing, crying mess! And I don’t think I have ever happy cried so much, this book, oh, it made me a ridiculously emotional girl! *sigh* Walk of Shame was absolutely perfect! I loved it so much and I hope you do too!

*ARC kindly provided by Random House Publishing Group – Loveswept via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

 

About Lauren Layne: 

Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen romantic comedies.
A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career.
She lives in midtown Manhattan with her high-school sweetheart, where she writes smart romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush. In LL’s ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.

 
Giveaway:

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BOOK REVIEW: A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani Chokshi

BOOK REVIEW: A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani ChokshiA Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2)
by Roshani Chokshi
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

An ancient mystery. An unlikely union. For one young princess in a state of peril, a dangerous wish could be the only answer…

She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

*ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review*

 
“Vicious and sweet,” said Vikram, shaking his head. “Beastly girl.”
“You like me, don’t lie,” I teased.
“I couldn’t lie if I tried,” he said quietly.

 

It just so happens that I was given this ARC by the publisher back in December….I just was way too tired and ‘out of it’ to truly enjoy the lush story-telling of this novel. So every time I would pick up this beauty to read it, I’d get distracted or start to fall asleep…on the prologue. It was clear to me I wasn’t going to be able to read this book while in the height of my pregnancy. I did, however, get to finish it two days before I went into labor! So here I am, finally writing a review for this crazy, intricate book.

 

The problem with guilt was not how it attacks the present, but how it stained the past.

 

I can’t say there weren’t moments where I was scratching my head-because I did that a lot. But it was never in a bad way. This author, from what I’ve always heard, writes in a deeply poetic way that you just need to be in the mindset for-I definitely gathered this from the moment I started. This isn’t your average YA fantasy-I feel it’s a bit deeper than that. Keep that in mind when choosing to start this novel-it completely changes the tone of both the book and how you feel whilst enjoying this story.

 

“You’re a monster,” she said.
I secured the necklace. “We all have to be something.”

 

When I think back on why I enjoyed this book so much (I read it almost a month ago) it always goes back to the characters. I had heard so many good things from my close friends that loved this book about the witty Vikram and I took that with a grain of salt-I mean, no book boy is ever really as good as people say (Okay, whatever…I lie, but still-everyone’s perception is different) and I almost always feel a tad different. Now, whether that means I loved them more or less is dependent upon the book-obviously.

 

Vikram had tried bribing them. At one point, he offered Gauri’s hand in marriage, which earned him two sharp jabs in the ribs. For equality’s sake, he offered his own hand in marriage, but that ended all bargaining negotiations on the spot.

 

So, when thinking of this story, did I love Vikram as much as others? Absolutely. Did I obsess over him as much as my friends? Perhaps not-but he became an instant BBF all the same. Ha, just goes to show I’ll never change. I had thought he was supposed to be tortured and somewhat sullen, almost an enemies to lovers type deal, but turns out that wasn’t the case. She hated him, but he was just cautious of her-you know, because she is from a different kingdom and all. No, he was a sarcastic prince that made me smile from ear to ear, laugh at the most random moments….did I mention I have a prince fetish? Oops.

 

“I prefer the poisoned food.”
“You may be rewarded yet,” he said. He popped a handful of pomegranate seeds in his mouth. He froze, some of the juice spilling from his lips. “Oh no,” he breathed, clutching his chest.
“Vikram!” I screamed.
He held up his hand. “I meant to start with mangos.”

 

So it’s extremely obvious that this book wasn’t so much about the plot, for me, but the characters. It was a bit obscure, in my opinion, so I took solace in the characters’ hilarious banter and romantic interactions. Vikram and Gauri had the best banter I’ve read in a while, holding up to some of my favorite bantering couples-it made this long book seem like it was over in a minute.

 

“My apologies. Is it your bellicose-let-me-drain-your-blood face? Could you not master an expression that looked less like an outraged cat? ”
“Better than steepling my hands and looking like an overgrown spider.”
“An overgrown spider who is rarely wrong.”
“My bellicose-let-me-drain-your-blood face has saved your life.”
“And this overgrown-spider pose is about to save yours.”

 

But Gauri is probably the base of why this book was so alluring-Vikram opposed her and was sly as can be…but I think he was much more tolerable in the beginning of their uneasy alliance (and nicer sooner) whereas Gauri made it harder. She was constantly on alert, always threatening him and, in her mind, thinking of ways to be rid of him (ohhh but he was too cunning). This added an extra layer of animosity between the two, adding tension and a romantic build up that pays off greatly in the end.

 

“I thought you were going to stay away from me,” she said.
He looked at her, this princess who seemed so dangerously sharp that he might cut himself just brushing against her shadow. “I don’t know how.”

 

And while the characters were the main draw to the story, for me, the story wasn’t without its addictive elements, as well-obviously. My biggest problem stems from the games. I do agree with my friend, Brittney, that this almost has a Caraval type feel. And while that’s fine, I don’t know that I was in the mood for games that aren’t in fact…games.

 

She laughed. And Vikram, who had never wanted for his life to slow down but only to move faster and faster to the next thing, found himself craving to live in this second.

 

Whatever. Call me a square, but I love structured, clear cut games and tournaments in books. I don’t like when the games aren’t clear and when they don’t have clear cut rules, winners, prizes etc. etc. Or, I don’t know, I love the life and death games (Sorry. I’ll just always be a HG type girl…). In this story, I felt the games, and the plot, for that matter, were a bit obscure. And, frankly, I don’t always love obscure.

As was the case with Caraval, though, I did enjoy it here-I just don’t know that I expected it-Which, hey, isn’t this book’s fault, now is it??

One final thing-I’m not a fan of one person being a certain pov and the other being in a totally different pov. I don’t know why it bothers me, but every time it switched I thought about it, and I just don’t like this minuscule distraction-I’m not sure what the point is, but for some reason it happens a lot in stories. I’m one of the few who can’t see past it. I still loved the story, it just served as a distraction I didn’t love.

 

“Surviving isn’t just about cutting out your heart and burning every feeling into ash,” he said. “Sometimes it means taking whatever is thrown at you, beautiful or grotesque, poisonous or blissful, and carving out your life with the pieces you’re given.”

 

A wonderful story full of twists and turns, games that leave your mind reeling, banter and a slow burn romance that is totally worth the wait, and writing that immediately enthralls you, this story is a winner. It’s hard to say whether this book will be for everyone, but its promising enough I would suggest everyone give it a try. The characters are worth every page you choose to read, and, frankly, Vikram is worth more than that. I hate that it took me so long to read this ARC, but I’m just glad I’m fulfilling my duty. This book was worth the wait, and I’m glad I can voice just how fun it was-this is not one I’ll soon forget.

BOOK REVIEW: Duels and Deception

BOOK REVIEW: Duels and DeceptionDuels and Deception by Cindy Anstey
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father's choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won't hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert's help, Lydia strives to keep her family's good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

This book was totally cute. I’m realizing more and more how much I’m missing out on by not incorporating more regency romance into my diet. 

I think what I loved most were the array of personalities and the humor, though I’m a huge sucker for this time period. I always crack up on how scandalous things like “escorting a lady” or “showing a bit of ankle” were back then. 

The first half of the story was really fun. Lydia meets Robert in the first few pages – Lydia being a wealthy land owner and Robert being a lawyer on his way to her place to talk about the estate. Lydia is headstrong and intelligent, and the others that were set to help her manage her estate push back at her constantly. Hence, Robert comes in to take a look at what is really going on and to address any legal matters. Robert immediately finds himself in awe over Lydia and the two have instant chemistry in my opinion. He constantly is trying to make excuses to be around her. 

Anyway, not long after they meet, Lydia gets kidnapped along with Robert. That was probably my favorite bit – especially the way it was told.. I was laughing so much. Blah blah blah happens (I don’t want to spoil) and then they escape. The description of the book makes it sound like the whole kidnapping ordeal is most of the book, but be warned, that isn’t the case. That bit is over really quickly. 

My biggest complaint is that the story moved a bit slow in the middle and up until the end. It wasn’t exactly dull, I think I just was expecting a bit more action (hence the title). But things did finally pick back up and I loooved the ending! (Even though I guessed who was guilty right off the bat.) 

The best part was getting to read from both Lydia and Robert’s POVS. I loved being in Robert’s head.. he was so sweet and funny and just adored Lydia to pieces. He kept scolding himself for how much he kept thinking about her and my heart just swooned. 

 
Anyway, this gets a thumbs up for me! 
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