21 November 2017

Flame in the Mist // I Enjoyed It And It Gave Me Some History Reading Urges

Flame in the Mist
Published: 16th May 2017
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
My Rating:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan.

Mariko has always known that being a woman means she's not in control of her own fate. But Mariko is the daughter of a prominent samurai and a cunning alchemist in her own right, and she refuses to be ignored. When she is ambushed by a group of bandits known as the Black Clan enroute to a political marriage to Minamoto Raiden - the emperor's son - Mariko realises she has two choices: she can wait to be rescued... or she can take matters into her own hands, hunt down the clan and find the person who wants her dead.

Disguising herself as a peasant boy, Mariko infiltrates the Black Clan's hideout and befriends their leader, the rebel ronin Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, Okami. Ranmaru and Okami warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. But as Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets that will force her to question everything she's ever known.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

I really loved Ahdieh’s last book duology, The Wrath and the Dawn, so when I heard she was writing another book I obviously added it to my TBR. I then preceded to wait for reviews because I was wary all the same. The second book in The Wrath and the Dawn duology left me with some doubts. It introduced one of my favourite characters but it also left me rolling my eyes at the convenience of the ending. I then saw reviews for this book. Some were good some were bad and so when my request on Netgalley got approved (after the reviews had come in) and I was even warier and a little less excited to start it. Which is why I waited so very long to start.

Did I love this book as much as Ahdieh's last one? Probably not. Did I get sucked right in all the same? Damn straight I did.

The reason I wanted to read this, beyond recognising the name of the author, was because I was interested in the history and the actual setting of this book. Also, I knew that the MC dressed as a boy and attempted to find out why she was attacked but was led to question what she knew. I cannot attest to the accuracy of the Feudal Japan setting and the accuracy in the history and cultural elements but it appeared authentic and from what little I do know it was good. I would like to do more research into Japanese history, though, as I know the shift from feudalism to a more modern era was rapid and intriguing. I felt like there was more to the story than I could appreciate from my reading so I would be interested in learning some more about all of that because my historical learning about Japan was all post WW2 really.

I will say this book wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I didn’t love everything, but it was damn enjoyable. I liked the characters. Mariko was smart and although she did suffer from thinking she was smarter than those around her and she had the blinders on when it came to her family. Yet, she grew a lot throughout the book. She wasn’t totally unwilling to recognise her flaws and although she often looked things in the wrong way she developed and I loved her for that. And the members of the Black Clan were many layered and interesting! I do wish that there was more background to the Black Clan members but I reckon that’s something that might be explored in the next book (we’ll see). The secondary characters probably needed a touch more growth and development.

I also felt like some of the story was predictable. A couple of twists at the end I didn’t see coming but then some I did. I can’t reveal what I did and didn’t expect but I did find my attention drifting at times because it felt familiar. I think this may be a problem for many a book lately. Maybe I’ve burned myself out a little with reading, I do a lot of it so I’m bound to notice familiar elements.

It was a good book and I enjoyed it and that surprised me. It doesn’t match my love for Ahdieh’s Wrath and the Dawn but I appreciated it and I hope the second book will be stronger in this series than the last one.

Have you read this book? What did you think? And do you notice that it’s harder for books to surprise you lately or is this just me?

19 November 2017

Sunday Summary // 19.11.2017

Sunday Summary
It's Sunday once more. I have to say this week has dragged. It began slowly and progressed slowly and it’s left me feeling very meh about everything because I’ve been tired and it’s been cold so I’ve not wanted to leave the house and with the clocks changing a while back I realise I experience very little daylight. I leave the house and it’s still dark outside, it’s only just light as I get to work and then I leave work and the sun has set a good hour or so ago. I don’t really leave the office during the day because we’re on an industrial estate and there are no shops in walking distance which I can get to in the half hour I have for lunch so I think my lack of sunlight has been getting me down a bit. I do love the colder days, though, but I’m struggling to find a good thick coat to keep me warm if it gets arctic over Winter.

Apart from my weather and long week grumbles, it’s been a decent week. I realised it was my only full working week this month, every other week I’ve had time off so that may be why I’ve been a bit down this week. We have all decided to go to our Christmas party with work, though. Me and the other person who has worked on my team thought we should probably go this year. The food is all kinds of pretentious again but hopefully, it’ll be edible. And there’ll be free alcohol, and no one can say no to that, even if we will have work the next morning.

I have a friends wedding next week and it’s the first of my close friends to get married so scary! I am excited, though. It should be fun but it involves a road trip down to the venue. I will be having another quiet week on the blog since I’ll be gone Thursday to Saturday but it’s getting to the Christmas period so it’s totally cool for me to do that I think.

What I’ve Been Reading

29868612Flame in the Mist7. Burn For You
I can’t even claim I’m in a slump lately, I’m just not feeling a strong urge to read which kind of sucks but it’s okay. I’ll just have to deal with a backlog of books at some point. I have been enjoying everything I’ve been reading this week, though, and I deem that a success. It’s not too often I like every book I’ve been reading, which is good. I’ve been reading Bryan Cranston’s book ever since my brother returned it to me and I have to say, I see why he was slow reading it. it’s the kind of book broken up into small sections so you can dip in and out as you please and I quite like that. I read one of my old ARCs, Flame in the Mist, and I actually really enjoyed it. I saw a couple of negative reviews and wrote it off as a book I wouldn’t like… I was wrong. I do want to read some of the history that’s the background for Flame in the Mist now, though. And Burn For You is a rec from Nick an she was so right. A fake relationship and New Orleans are a recipe made in heaven.

New To Me

Mister HockeyPlay One7. Burn For You
Just a few new books this week. Yay! And they’re all romance brought onto my radar because of Nick (she’s pretty much the only place I get romance recs now).

What have you been up to this week? Anyone else finding themself slowing down a bit in the run-up to Christmas?

16 November 2017

Bite Sized Books // The Arcs Which Time (Or I) Forgot Part 2

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You guys might have thought I wouldn’t continue with my lost ARCs series but I totally am… even if one of them is actually only like a week old. I still read two more ARCs on my reading list and that is a victory for me while I stall in my reading.

Published: 10th August 2017
Source: Author
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating:
When destiny and desire collide...

In a community full of supernatural powers, eighteen-year-old Jewel longs for a life of normalcy. But nothing in her life is ordinary. And suddenly she discover she's more abnormal than she ever realized--complete with a past she never knew existed. Once a goddess from ancient Greece, Jewel is the main reason everyone has their special abilities.

As she struggles with her newfound knowledge, Jewel encounters the mysterious god of Egypt, Anubis. With a past she has no recollection of, she tries to deny the pull she has for the sexy god. But, destiny has other plans. As she uncovers more secrets about who she really is, Jewel is pulled into a dangerous world surrounded by a prophecy--a prophecy that both terrifies and intrigues her. Will Jewel accept who she once was for a chance to become who she's meant to be?
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

I first saw this book over at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and was interested. It sounded original with the inclusion of gods and mythology, and the mixing of different mythologies. I do love a good mythology based book, after all. I admit, I had my own ideas of what this book would be like and it ended up being nothing like I was expecting and that is both a good and bad thing.

I was not expecting the sci-fi element to this book. I think because I knew there was a Greek/Egyptian gods element I was expecting more of a fantasy read and that was what I was craving so there was that. It meant I was waiting for elements to be included which never came it didn’t feed that craving of mine. I did like the really unique take on the gods, though. I loved the originality as it made them far more interesting and original than you get in most mythology influenced books.

I struggled to connect with the characters a little. I think because there wasn't enough introduction to the story and characters for my liking. Instead, it just gets going with all these characters introduced and you're dropped into the world of the Evols. In some ways that is a good thing, I prefer a fast pace, but I would have liked to get to know Jewel a bit more first so I could have felt a bit more connected with her from the start. The same goes for Anubis who begins loving Jewel and it was obvious. I would have liked him to be a touch more reserved about it so it would have felt like they were falling for one another from the start. I do love a good romance after all.

Despite feeling a distance from the characters at times I was interested in the story. I would have liked to learn more about the Egyptian gods but I hope that will come in the next book as Jewel learns more so shall we. I think this was a good start and it was interesting and fast paced with plenty more to come.

Christmas With Her Millionaire Boss
Published: 1st November 2017
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
My Rating:
The magic of Christmas…

Abandoned by his mother on Christmas Day, James Hammond wishes he could simply erase the date. So when his company buys a new toy store devoted to Christmas, he wants to seal the deal and get home. Until he finds himself injured and under the care of employee Noelle!

Nobody loves Christmas more than young widow Noelle Fryberg! But could she be the one to change his mind and melt the millionaire's guarded heart?

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

I have been seeing plenty of Christmas themed romance lately and so when I saw this on the Mills and Boon Insiders list of ARCs I thought perfect. Millionaire romance set at Christmas? Sounds like it should be fun with a touch of heart-warming thrown in. It definitely met expectations unlike Acceptance. It was Christmassy and heart-warming and totally predictable. I kind of needed that, because romance is always predictable but I kind of wanted it to surprise me in some way.

Noelle is the woman who loves Christmas and loves working in a place where it is Christmas everyday providing toys and joy for children. So, when James Hammond comes along buying the company and possibly threatening the comfort she has had in the small-town she has lived her whole life you just know she didn’t give him a warm welcome. She is happy in the spot she’s carved for herself and she doesn’t have time for Grumpy Hammond glaring at folk and threatening to change store traditions. She hopes to get rid of him as soon as possible and then a drone in the shop gives him a concussion and forces him to stay. James Hammond wants out of Fryberg as quickly as possible. He doesn’t like Noelle and he hates Christmas, even if he runs a very successful toy store chain. When he’s forced to spend more time then expected with Noelle, though… well, the two end up growing close and the pesky attraction gets in the way.

I admit, it was predictable, there was the usual not wanting to be together. They get together, then there’s a whole thing where one of them has a crises and flees which leads to misunderstandings which keep them apart. Then they eventually get their happily ever after. I liked them as a couple but they definitely needed to have a few pages for me to really grow attached to them. The biggest flaw outside of predictability was that the characters never felt fully real to me. They needed a bit longer to develop and get together and may have enjoyed it far more.

A good festive read which could have been great but was just enjoyable and a good way to spend an evening.

Anyone else find themselves by books when they do and don’t meet expectations? Sometimes they meet expectations too closely and so fall into the trap of being predictable, and others go too far from what was expected that I end up not getting the read I fancied.