Tag Archive | fantasy

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Series: Flame in the Mist #1

flame in the mist -renee ahdiehThe 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.


4 Drink Me Potions


Flame in the Mist was steeped in gorgeous Japanese lore that made the story both unique and enticing. While it wasn’t always moving at a fast pace, I can see why this book has been raved about. Because it’s very very true.

I haven’t read any of Renee Ahdieh’s other works yet but I’m not surprised that I enjoyed this novel. There was a lot of background work, I’m sure, to set this novel in such a setting and time. Although I was a little wary, to be honest, about how well this kinda YA book could be executed, I was delightfully surprised.

Here’s why:

  1. It’s like stepping into the Japanese culture and the way of the samurai. It never felt like the author only briefly did her homework and called it a day. She sold me on the genuine authenticity feel to this book.
  2. Intriguing things being laid out in the story’s background (for the next novel). There were little tidbits throughout that made me wonder if such events would become relevant later and things were tied well together in the end, no matter the cliffhanger-ish ending.
  3. The ability to weave a story with 2 main guy characters and not have a love triangle to keep things interesting. Okashi, the Wolf, was by far Mariko’s preferred choice, no matter that Ranmaru was so much more likeable at first.
  4. Mariko. Just Mariko ❤

To elaborate a bit more beyond those brief points, Flame in the Mist had a cast of characters and plot events that genuinely seemed to portray the Japanese culture. From teahouses to geishas and the lay of the lands, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Japan like this in a YA novel.

The one negative thing I would note is that the beginning is rather slow. It takes time for Mariko to even find her way to the Black Clan camp, and then she’s stuck there for a while doing nothing exciting at all. Except for mundane tasks. But once you get past this bump, it will surprise you as things develop more quickly.

Overall Recommendation:

Flame in the Mist shouldn’t be a surprise to fans of Renee Ahdieh’s books. She has weaved a beautiful story steeped in Japanese culture that still fits so relevantly in YA fantasy. Although it was slow to start, Mariko as our protagonist and the two mysterious guys leading the Black Clan will capture you in their story until the very last pages.

Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices #1

lady midnight -cassandra clareIn a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.


4 Drink Me Potions


Lady Midnight is basically all that you could ever ask for from Cassandra Clare. She never seems to do any wrong after all books she’s produced in this Shadowhunter world of hers.

What can I say about this novel that could possibly be different from all the other raving reviews out there?

I guess I will keep it simple.

1) Imaginative
This world continues to grow, drawing back old and familiar characters while developing new ones that may not have been all that well known. The characters are still so unique, particularly our main protagonist pairing, Julian and Emma. They’re not Jace and Clary, or Will and Tessa. They’re as real as they are, and getting to know them has been so much fun within these 700 pages.

2) Keeps-you-on-your-toes
Clare is amazing at bringing in all these plot elements together in such a beautiful manner that you can’t help but be enthralled as it all unravels and we discover the crazy things happening along with the protagonists. I honestly did not guess who the main “villain” was until quite near the end, and the minor red herrings deliciously threw me off for a bit.

3) Magical-with-a-hint-of-fairy
What’s a world without some magic? With warlocks and the return of Mark Blackthorn, there is no limits on the magical elements within this book.

4) Romantic
The gorgeous build up to a different kinda of relationship between parabatai Emma and Julian was amazing. I always feel like there are no words to describe them. It’s not some instalove, as they’ve known each other forever literally. But it’s also rediscovering each other in this sense as well. I’ve always been a lover of forbidden love stories (as long as no one dies – yes, I’m looking at you, Romeo & Juliet).

5) About-a-family
At the heart of this novel (and I’m sure the whole series) is the Blackthorn family. Whether you’re born by blood as a Blackthorn or not, Clare has demonstrated what the bonds of love would do (or rather, how far it would go for someone you consider family). It’s not some cheesy Vin Diesel voice saying “we’re family” kinda moments, but it’s implied in there, especially in all that Julian does.

There really isn’t much more I can say to sum this up. It’s been an experience reading this book – albeit slowly due to work – but it allowed me to savour it more. Cassandra Clare’s world honestly has attracted so many people all over the world for a reason. Join in if you haven’t already.

Overall Recommendation:
Well, whoop, what can I say that most people don’t feel already? 5 words. Imaginative, suspenseful, magical, romantic and family. That is what you get in any Cassandra Clare book, but particularly highlighted in Lady Midnight. Go out and get your copy if you haven’t already. As the back cover blurb keeps reminding me, “find out what 50 million readers are raving about”.


What’s your favourite Cassandra Clare book/series? Fan or foe of her works?

Review: Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

Series: Dividing Eden #1

dividing eden -joelle charbonneauFrom the author of the New York Times bestselling Testing trilogy comes a sweeping new fantasy series, perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sarah J. Maas.

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?


4 Drink Me Potions


Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**Dividing Eden comes out on June 6, 2017**

A game. A fight for the throne. Power plays behind the scenes by unknown third parties? That sounds just about up my alley.

But to be honest? This rating barely managed to ramp up to 4 stars if it weren’t for the last half of the book. Here’s why.

You know the whole Carys versus Andreus thing because the ones in line for the throne all suddenly died? Well, that doesn’t really start to come into play until 50% of the way into the novel. Talk about a slow start where none of this was surprising ’cause, hey, the synopsis RUINED it all for you.

Ok, so I sound a little bitter at that aspect. I was just impatient. But I get it. Charbonneau did a good job of setting the scene. Here’s a land that seemingly relies heavily on being well-lit in order to drive away the evil things that lurk in the darkness. The people truly believe in the work of the light, including setting up “engineers” known as Masters of Lights. But beyond all that, they believe in the power of the wind and the One who could command it. That person would be the seer, and in this book, the seer played a bigger role in the plot than I initially pegged her to do.

Unbeknownst to the twins at first, there are far darker things present in their kingdom that have no need to hide in the dark but rather walk boldly in the light. It’s frustrating to be the third person, omnipotent viewer sometimes as there’s pieces of information found out by each twin but the other doesn’t know. This all funnels into one giant snowball of miscommunication that ultimately pits the two against each other.

No longer sure they could trust each other, the game FINALLY commences and really picks up. Carys is honestly my favoured twin. She’s always been the one to protect her brother from the others as he has a secret that couldn’t be found out by any one. A previous seer predicted one of them would be cursed before they were born, and their mother always believed it was Andreus. But is it really? That’s one of the wonderful things that’s hard to know for sure, and definitely an element that kept me rapidly flipping through the pages.

Anyway, with Carys always taking the blame for Andreus in order to draw less attention to him, this whole twin against twin thing was both interesting from the competition standpoint but it was also heartbreaking to see Andreus truly turn on Carys due to misunderstandings that he wouldn’t allow her to explain away.

The action ramps up by like 110% in like the last 30% of the book. Not only is there a physical game being played by the twins in order to win the throne and keep the tumultuous times in Eden at a low, but there are other invisible strings being pulled in the background with unknown players pulling them. The mystery hasn’t been fully solved, so that’ll be intriguing to see carry on to book 2. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, per se, but it definitely leaves things unresolved as it would look like those invisible players had won by fixing the game in order to control the kingdom better. Then there’s also the matter of the cursed twin and what exactly that entails. Many great things are introduced in Dividing Eden and it was definitely a different kind of read. Overall enjoyable but the first half may need to be skimmed a little to get to the truly good stuff.

And before I forget, I didn’t mention romance at all so far in this review, but fear not romance lovers. There’s a smidge of romance going on in this novel, with a love interest for both twins (albeit one relationship I despised more than the other – I’ll let you guess which one that would be). But heavy romance honestly wasn’t necessary here. At the heart of it all, this was a book about a sibling relationship and what was worth risking all for the sake of a crown.

Overall Recommendation:
Dividing Eden may have started off a little slow with its world building, but it amped it up to be well worth the wait. Pitting twins Carys and Andreus, who always had each other’s backs, for a chance at the throne of Eden was more than just an exciting competition. The stakes were so much higher than that with behind the scenes power plays being made by mysterious figures, and a greater destiny for one twin who may indeed have been born with a curse. This book was ultimately about family and what it would take to save each other, even if the cost was their kingdom.