Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh (Spoiler Free)

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 Black Clan and track 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.


Flame in the Mist is such a wonderful read, from start to finish. Set in feudal Japan it breathes a breath of fresh air into YA fiction. 

I kept seeing this being labelled a 'Mulan retelling' but the only way they can be linked is because Mariko dresses as a boy. However, that's not a bad thing! It's still such an epic tale without the Mulan storyline, and it means that you can't anticipate what will happen...

Be prepared to fall easily in love with Renee's writing. It's so addictive. I often find myself rereading parts just to experience her words again. If you've read Renee Ahdieh's first duology, The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger, i'm certain you'll love Flame just as much. It focuses less on romance and more on Mariko's infiltration of the Black Clan and her life with them. But that doesn't mean there isn't any romance. I freely admit that I swooned multiple times. 

The Japanese mythology element really intrigued me, I loved the mysteries of the forest. It gave me major Studio Ghibli vibes. The whole setting was a joy to read, Renee is great at capturing the setting with her words. I haven't read many books set in Japan, but I really want to.  Japan is such a beautiful country and YA needs more Japan-based novels. 

Mariko is a fantastic heroine. She's intelligent and resourceful, but not without her flaws. Every character interested me. They all had stories and secrets. They were all complex, real people. Complicated characters keeps things exciting. 

The ending has me desperate for book 2. But first, I'm going to enjoy rereading this a couple of times. 

4 Stars! 

I read this as an ebook from Netgalley. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

My Reactions to A Court of Wings and Ruin

After finishing ACOWAR I just had to write down my many thoughts on what went on in the book, so here is what I wrote:

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It’s so weird, when I finished ACOWAR, I wanted to talk about it, but I couldn’t for the life of me make cohesive thoughts about it. It was the same for EoS and ACOMAF. But then over the next few hours/day my heart just starts to feel full. When I start to think about everything that happened all of sudden I just NEED to talk/write about it. 

ACOWAR has slain me. I am an actual puddle on the floor. I can’t stop rereading bits of it and killing myself even moreeee.

Omg firstly, the colouring book!!! 😲 I actually screamed at each one as I flicked through it. HOLY SHIT. I have to say Charlie’s drawings are my favourites, because they’re PERFECT. They’re exactly how I pictured the scenes, it’s insane! I do adore John Howe’s Velaris though Can I just live there pleeeeassee?? And the Forest House gives me major Rivendell vibes. 
Also 'keep your forked tongue behind your teeth'?! Totally a LotR reference!

That Rhysand prologue made me so emotional straight away. It just hit me really hard. Its sort of hopelessness made it one of my most memorable bits I think. I was totally thrown straight back into everything, my heart wasn’t sure it could take it.

The whole time Feyre was at the Spring Court I was cheering her on, she was just so sneaky and badass! But when she spoke to Rhys, my heart hurt for the two of them. The reunion scene was absolutely perfect, I got the biggest grin ever and my heart fluttered. They’re such an awesome example of a healthy relationship, they have super HOT sex but it’s not all about physical attraction. They’re just there for each other for everything, supporting and loving. I adored the small moments between the two of them, both tired at the end of the day. They were so sweet. I love that Rhysand and Feyre are so close as a couple, but they still maintain their independence enough to not have to ask permission from their partner to do things and don’t need to be together 24/7. It’s so refreshing to not have Rhysand try to stop her doing things tell her it’s too dangerous just for the reason that she’s female. He doesn’t ‘let’ her do anything.  It was great to see it switched around and a male character being told he can’t do something, like Azriel was when he couldn’t fly.
But it was also great that Feyre couldn’t do everything. She isn’t perfect. She didn’t just suddenly learn how to fight extremely well, enough that she could just jump into battle and be able to fight fae a lot more experienced than her. It was the same with learning to fly, it was so good that she struggled with it and didn’t immediately perfect it.

Is Vassa inspired by The Swan Princess?? I just watched that film recently after having been meaning to forever and 😲 😲 😲 I want to know all about her now! Everything we heard about her was intriguing.

Another bit that had my internally screaming and cheering at the book is when Cassian and Azriel arrive to help Feyre and Lucien. When Cassian landed and cracked the ice, holy shit that moment was so clear in my mind. That was some phenomenal writing. SO. EPIC.

One of my all time favourite things of the series (I have a lot of favourites haha) it’s the friendships. I especially enjoy the male-female friendships that just show men and women can be friends! Feyre’s relationships with Cassian and Azriel make me smile so much. And I love that it doesn’t create a tension between Rhys and them. He’s not scared they're going to try to win her over, they’re just friends. That also totally highlights the difference between Rhys and Tamlin, who immediately thinks the worst upon seeing Lucien and Tamlin together (a round of applause for Feyre in that part). When Cassian rescued Feyre on the ice and they hugged, awwww!
I’m so glad Lucien left with Feyre. I hope he works out his feelings towards Tamlin. It seems so long ago since the friendship Feyre made with him back in ACOTAR, so much has changed!
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I was spoiled online about Mor’s sexuality, which was annoying. But I think it’s so important that it is the way it is. She’s the most lovely character ever (and totally badass, totally Eowyn vibes when she ran into battle) and she deserves so much happiness, but she’s had so much shit thrown at her. I was totally on board for Moriel to be a thing, but as soon as she said she prefers females, it just felt so right for her. Things made more sense about her. And I want both Mor and Azriel to find someone that feels exactly the same way about them and makes them insanely happy. I hope they can find that and still be the best of friends.
I also kinda wanna see what happens with Mor and Nesta, they’re both such strong personalities its interesting to see them clash.  I know Mor is protective of Cassian, and them all. I hope they can be friends.
Seeing Rhys and Nesta or Elain interact alone would be cool to read. It’d be interesting to see what kind of relationship he builds with Feyre’s sisters.

One of the biggest theories for ACOWAR was the Ianthe would be pregnant with Tamlin’s child, so when it said her and Lucien had had sex, I was crossing all my finger and toes she wouldn’t be. Ianthe totally got what she deserved. The part with the Weavers cottage and then when we saw the Weaver on the battlefield was SO gruesome, I loved it.
The Suriel’s death hit me really hard, which I would never have expected. It was a nice being and it didn’t deserve to die by that bitch’s hand. But man was it a beautifully painful moment when it passed.
The Bone Carver’s death got me too, I loved the age and mystery of him. Rhys’s reaction when he saw how he appears to Feyre was adorable.
When we first hear about there being something at the bottom of the library, I was super creeped out but as soon as we met Bryaxis is loved it. All of the history of Prythian and its inhabitants is so rich and interesting. Olds gods and hidden mysterious creatures gives it so much depth. I could totally be a historian if I lived there, recording its ancient history.

I liked that we didn’t really get to see/hear what Feyre saw in the mirror, I like the mystery of not really knowing. It was such a scary moment when she saw something moving behind her in the reflection.

I’m so glad Elain and Nesta got to kill the king. Nesta twisting the knife was so dark! I was cheering her on while wincing. It so nice to see the three sisters reconnect over the time of the book! When they all hugged and slept curled up together, it was precious and such a great family moment.

ACOWAR didn’t feel like the last book at all and I’m so happy. Feyre and Rhysand got their happy ending, but for every other character I have a MILLION more questions. I’m so unbelievably excited to find out answers. I spent the last year wondering how everyone would end up. Thinking about Mor and Az, Cassian and Nesta, Lucien and Elain but I’m actually glad my wonderings weren’t settled by ACOWAR. A) because its Feyre’s story, and Feyre and Rhysand’s love story, so the focus stayed on them. b) Its from Feyre’s point of view, so even if you did see any of the declarations of love etc. we’d miss so much of the build up! I love slow burns, this way nothing feels rushed to fit in at the end of the series. It’s more realistic. (it’s the same with everyones character development, I feel like everyone apart from Rhys and Feyre still has some developing to do. I want Nesta to deal with her deal with her fear of bodies of water etc I’m SO happy we get more to explore things like this!) I keep rereading Wings and Embers constantly because I love reading Nesta and Cassian from their own pov’s. I’m so greedy I want more! They’re so fiery together, but I don’t think the roads gonna be easy for them…
I’m fascinated by the dynamic between Lucien, Elain and Az. I’m kinda thinking that Lucien and Elain are mates but maybe they’re not really right for each other, instead Az is the right male for her ?? That might be because Az has spent more time getting to know her compared to Lucien. Because mates doesn’t equal happiness ?? Feel free to manically laugh at my ranting (maybe while stroking Annie on your lap) since you hold alllll the secret answers.
Amren and Varian just need to keep being total cuties.
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When Rhys died at the end, I think my heart stopped for a moment. I think I’d convinced myself that they’d passed all the heartbreak because the King was defeated. But BOOM Rhys dies. I fell in love with him even more for sacrificing himself to save them but holy crap am I relieved he came back. When all the high lords started to help him I thought oh thank god, he’ll be okay, Sarah wouldn’t kill him off. Then I remembered Tamlin would need to help. I totally panicked then. I was literally Feyre in that moment, begging him to help. His actions then made me hate him a little less, as well as when he helped them escape the king. But then he was so dismissive to Lucien. FFS Tamlin. I know a lot of people won’t ever want to see Tamlin in the series again, but I wanna see what he does after all this – is he gonna become even more bitter, or change himself? I love that I can’t fully understand or decide whether I like some of the characters, like Eris and Jurian. They’ve done good things, but also terrible things so my feelings won’t settle. I neeeeed more of them.
Also: the line where Tamlin asked Rhys ‘have you noticed that little sound she makes right before she climaxes?’ made me put the book down for a solid minute just so I could be like oooooooooooooooooh.

When Feyre thought Amren had betrayed her, I just kept repeating no, no, no, no. I was so scared that she’d been secretly planning to betray them all the whole time, but I’m so glad she wasn’t. I think between that and Rhys’s death you’re going to scare the shit out of your readers.

I’m gonna spend the next year guessing who the novels/novellas will be about. And will they be first person? Duel points of view? Third person? How will I survive without answers?! I might be not-so-secretly hoping that the novellas for the next ACOTAR series accidently turn into full novels too. My bet is that there’ll be one for Lucien (where he can find out about his dad too! And include Vassa?) and one for Azriel, with Elain featured in there with them somewhere. One for Cassian and Nesta, one for Mor and one for Amren. But I have no doubt you’ll blow my mind with what you actually have planned.
I love that there’s never really a random side character, who’s sort of shallow and just there to serve a purpose and leave. Everyone is complicated and linked to other people, so I want to know more about alllll of them, like Kallias, Helion, Eris and Jurian (I need to know if things get sorted with him and Miryam and Drakon!)

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Win a Limited Edition Minya sticker!

I have two limited edition Minya stickers up for grabs! I will be giving away one via rafflecopter on here, and one on twitter.
Open internationally!

a Rafflecopter giveaway