Review: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Title: Beasts Made of Night

Author: Tochi Onyebuchi

Pub. Date: October 31st, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher:  Razorbill

Pages: 304

Format: eGalley

Rating: 3.75

   

In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life.

A gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy.

Beasts Made of Night is a rich new YA Fantasy centered around Taj and his group of Aki friends who all have one thing in common…they are outcasts of the same society that needs them to ward off evil. The Aki are sought out by Mages to eat the sins of others for which they are in turn paid. Once a Aki eats a sin beast, a tattoo appears on their skin. The severity of the sin determines the size of the animal. With time, the tattoos fade from the Aki’s skin however, this is not the case with Taj. A powerful Aki, Taj is the Crown’s personal sin-eater often called to the castle to eat the sins of royalty. Taj’s tattoos do not fade, his skin is covered with them & the sins of others often invade his mind. For the Aki, eating souls is how they earn their living & for Taj it’s how he provides for the family he was forced to leave behind. The Aki are feared by the same people they take on the burden of eating sins for. Their skin covered in tattoos are a reflection of the amount of sins they’ve eaten & also the very same reason for which they’ve been ostracized.

The world Onyebuchi has created in Beasts Made of Night is rich with Nigerian-inspired influences. Details of life in the city of Kos such as the singing & dancing, food, and traditions that commemorate rites of passage for young women excel in transporting the reader into the world of the Aki. The magic system is also well fleshed out, there’s a fee system in place which determines how much a Aki will be paid for eating a sin. Mages also exist in this world & are responsible for seeking out the Aki’s services. The Mages also need to be present for the sin-eating since they utilize their magic to call forth the beast living inside of the “inflicted” human which the Aki ingests. We meet mages in training along the way as well as other groups of characters that further develop this world.

There were a few things I would’ve liked to get more of with regards to character development. Although Taj does live with other Aki who are his close friends, these characters were not deeply fleshed out. There is also the princess who is presented as a love interest at the very end which felt rushed & can definitely be seen as “insta-love.” There is another character in the book that I much preferred as a love interest which is a first for me since I typically ship whoever the author intended 😂

The overall plot also could’ve used more development along the way & I do believe my enjoyment with regards to the world building compensated for some of the plot holes. Pacing typically isn’t a issue with me since I enjoy slower paced reads every now & again however, the last few chapters did feel rushed & open ended. If Onyebuchi were to write a sequel, would I read it? Absolutely! I really enjoyed this new fantasy & the unique magic it brought to the page and will be keeping an eye out for more from this author. When thinking of my rating for this book I took my overall enjoyment of this story into account. I’m a lover of world building, diverse reads, and complex magic systems which all can be found in Beasts Made of Night. I haven’t seen mention of a sequel even though the plot truly piques in the last chapter leaving readers wondering what’s next?!?! This is one story I’d say has the potential for growth and hope to see the author delve deeper into the characters he’s created in this lush world.

 

HUGE thanks to Razorbill, Penguins First To Read, and Tochi Onyebuchi for the eGalley copy of Beasts Made Of Night in exchange for an honest review.

Hello Bookworms! Beasts Made of Night hits shelves tomorrow! 🎉 will you be picking up your copy? has it made its way onto your TBR? Sound off in the comments down below 💜


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Friday Reads 8/25/2017

Happy Friday Readers! Hope you’ve all had a wonderful week & are getting ready to have an AMAZING weekend…if not, & you’re going more low key such as I’m doing then I hope it’s with a good book 😉

This week I found myself dealing with a ton of fatigue & feeling ill which meant that I was hitting the pillow early every single night. This however, did not slow down my reading by too much since I was reading whenever I could handle flipping pages on my kindle. Thankfully, I’m feeling much better now & hope it stays that way *fingers crossed*

 


Earlier this week I finished Julia Ember’s The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1). My rating was 4 stars & overall I’m very happy to see this book out into the world. Featuring a gender fluid MC, a awesome Tiger who is fierce & loyal, and a beautiful friendship, I’m going to need more! Check out my review for The Tiger’s Watch here.

 

 


I then started Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi  my 5th arc for #arcAugust & today I reached the 60% mark. This book is not like anything you’ve seen before in any YA Fantasy. It does not hold your hand while you get to know the world, it hits the ground running & trusts you the reader to keep up. I can’t wait to see how it all ends.

 

 


I’m hoping to finish Beasts Made Of Night between today & tomorrow. typically, this would be reaching for me lol but hear me out. Hubby is going to Upstate NY to participate in a Spartan race which means all of Saturday is mostly free. Yes, I have my kids but nap times for my 2 tiny humans means reading time for me. Also, we have this thing at home (fairly new) where everyone gets their “Me Time” including the kids & lemme tell ya! it works wonders LOL!

Also, on the agenda…I need a good audiobook recommendation, I have a few but I’m not really sure what I’m in the mood for. I’m about to get my credit from Audible & after LOVING The Serpent King so much, I’m wondering whether I should get his other book Goodbye Days OR go in a completely different direction with a thriller.

 


Saving the best for last…I am FINALLY going to start They Both Die at the End by my MOST FAVE AUTHOR IN ALL OF YA CONTEMP! *drum rolllllll* Adam Silvera *Smiles* I’ve been trying to get in the mood for a good tear jerker but it’s just not happening & I really just want to read this already haha! So I’m fully stocked with my box of tissues and as ready as I’ll ever be for my heart to be ripped out & stomped on in true Silvera fashion 😉

 


Happy FriYay Readers! hope you’re all having a wonderful end of the week! what are YOU reading? watching? planning this Weekend? any good audiobook recs?

 


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Arc August Review: When I Am Through With You (Sins and Scandals #1) by Stephanie Kuehn

When I Am Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn

Published by: Penguin Random House/Dutton Books

Date of Publication: August 1st 2017

Genres: YA Thriller/Mystery/Suspense

Pages: 304

Format: eGalley

    

“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly how what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains ended the way it did. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. And he’ll tell you about Rose. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.

 Let’s just start by getting this out of the way….I LOOOOOOOVED this book!!!! Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system I’ll tell you why 😉

 In what I found to be a unique form of story telling, our MC Ben is telling us this story as he sits in Jail which is disclosed in the very beginning & in the synopsis (no spoilers here lol). This had me asking all sorts of questions & all of the answers made this one story i’ll find hard to forget. From the opening pages, Ben Gibson starts off by recounting the day he met Rose. He’s automatically infatuated with everything about this gorgeous girl who seems too mature to be in High School. Even more unlikely is Rose approaching him and making him her boyfriend. Make no mistake, Rose doesn’t ask she tells him they are now in a relationship. This pretty much sets the tone for this story, both are complex characters for very different reasons. Ben is someone who comes from a toxic home environment & Rose is the polar opposite but she has her own dark passenger. Ben is part of the schools Orienteering class where you are taught all there is to know about camp, survival, map & compass reading. This is one thing that makes Ben feel good about himself and there isn’t much of that in his life. We’re introduced to the other students in the class who all fall into the cliques we’ve all seen form in High School. Ben however, is the teachers right hand man and he sort of leads the class whether they like it or not. They prepare to go on one class trail exploring trip with Ben spear heading while their teacher supervises. Ben, a character who likes to be in control of every variable has his doubts about whether he can successfully lead. He has no idea how justified his doubts really are. This book might have played out like one of those movies we’ve probably all seen where campers get lost in the woods & everything that can go wrong DOES go wrong. The thing is with so many players on the board having their own personal demons, it eliminates all predictability. I was HOOKED! this tale is DARK and twisted, it will make you question our MC who is also narrating since this is first person POV. It will have you looking at every character with a mean side eye lol & ultimately leave you shook!

Without getting into too many specifics, I can tell you this isn’t your ordinary cast of High School students. They each have secrets, some are manipulative, and others think they are better off than they really are. Ben Gibson isn’t like any MC I’ve ever come across in YA or even Adult Fiction for that matter. I wondered whether he was a unreliable character or just dead inside. It seemed like he couldn’t catch a break at times & others left me wondering if certain events cemented his fate. I found his story to be tragic and he surprised me when I read the last line in this book with a tear streaked face. I was left wondering what could’ve been if life had dealt him a different set of cards & not just him. All of the characters seemed lost inside & they kept me invested in this story. I NEEDED to know how and why. It’s been so long since I’ve come across characters that leave me thinking of them after I’ve read the last page.

GRIPPING! DARK! TWISTED! I’ve read other YA thrillers but NONE like this before. Yes I have already added this authors other books to my TBR, I’m definitely going to need more from where this came from lol. I inhaled this book similarly to how my read of Mary Kubica’s Every Last Lie went last month…to the very early hours of the morning. Although we are given the end game in the beginning with Ben sitting in jail, how he got there is one MESSED up story you can’t possibly see forming til you’ve been given the final piece. I think writing this story in first person POV worked so well in giving us a sense of what Ben does & does not feel. Being in his head isn’t the easiest but that only heightened my interest. You really shouldn’t expect to like any of these characters, they don’t even like themselves but know you’re in for one hell of a sick ride! I was surprised to see on Goodreads that this is a start to a series & would love to know if the next book will have us following a new set of characters or the same. My guess is that it’s going to be one of those series where each book stands on its own but it any of you know please let me know down in the comments.

*HUGE thanks to Penguin Random House/Dutton Books and Stephanie Kuehn for this eGalley in exchange for an honest review

Hello Readers! happy FRIYAYYYY! AYYY! hope you’re all enjoying this day & getting ready to start your weekends. Have any of you read When I Am Through With You? if so, how bout those feels? eh? haha!


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Friday Reads 8/11/2017

Happy Friday Readers!!! This has been one long and trying week, so happy to see it come to an end *whoop whoop* I’m actually surprised to have finished any books but I managed 3! LOL!

Earlier in the month I decided to join #arcAugust to help me make a dent in my physical & digital stack (see here). I opted not to have a set TBR because I am a mood reader and because I love to genre hop to keep things interesting and avoid slumps. I’ve read two eGalleys for #arcAugust & listened to 1 audio book from my back list…

  

I cannot even begin to tell you all how The Serpent King BROKE MEEEE!!! left me walking the New York City platforms hopping from 1 train to the next all the while trying to keep my tears under control. This story about friendship between 3 very different characters has managed to find a forever home in my ❤ for so many reasons (trigger warning: child abuse, racism, and homophobia) I will discuss in my review. I will be picking up a physical copy this month for my shelves & writing a Audio-book review over the weekend, just trying to decide between spoilery vs. non-spoilery haha! I have too many feels that need to be discussed! smh.

Soon after or around the same time really, I finished & reviewed The Epic Crush of Genie Lo which was my 1st chosen arc for the readathon. This was such a fun & diverse read with elements similar to those found in Rick Riordans books. Except we follow Chinese folklore centered around The Monkey King & I am so ready for more books with Asian representation. In my review I also linked two Own Voices reviews that I really enjoyed reading myself from two amazing bloggers.

Lastly, last night I finished reading Spellbook of the Lost and Found & will be writing my review tonight. I have not yet come up with a rating but I can say it’s between 3.5-4 stars. This book had that dark vibe that kept reminding me of the cult classic The Craft & could easily see it play out on the screen. Still gathering my thoughts but more to come…and will most likely watch The Craft cuz Fall please, I’m ready for my favorite season <3’s

 


I started When I am Through With You (Sins and Scandals #1) by Stephanie Kuehn….I legit JUST realized as I’m writing this post that this is going to be a series! GAHHH! freaking out at my desk cuz YASSSS! I started reading it this morning on the train ride to work & jeez it’s 50 shades of effed up! but oh sOoOo good! I’m already wondering if I’m in the mind of a psychotic killer. Just as soon as I publish this post I will be back to reading. This is also my 3rd read for #arcAugust & I’m content with that since it’s more than I’d have read by this date any month haha!


Also on the night stand for this weekend, is The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace which I am pretty excited about! my twin Gretchen over at ChicNerdReads LOVES this collection so much & I honestly don’t know what has taken me this long but better late than never 😉

Happy FriYay Readers! hope you’re all having a wonderful end of the week! what are YOU reading? watching? planning this Weekend?


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April Wrap-Up & Book Haul

April was a solid reading month & I finally beat my 4 book per month streak! I read 6 books & only 2 were in the 3 star range so I’d say that it was one of my best months when it comes to quality 😉 I’m pinning the reason for breaking my 4 book streak on the fact that my hubby, 2 tiny humans, and I were sick for about 2 weeks. It honestly felt like a never ending battle since we were all taking turns lol. Other than reading, it was a quiet month with an occasional miserable sick whimper on the home front but I welcomed it nonetheless. The next few months are always crazy with my 2 tiny humans & this one won’t be any different with Bookcon (tickets arrived yesterday! eeeeK!) right around the corner. I did manage to squeeze in my monthly date with the hubby but more on that towards the end of this wrap-up/haul <3’s

I was supposed to have mixed in a few graphic novels in honor of Saga Volume 7 being released however, that didn’t happen. I did get to read the final copy of my twin Gretchen’s poetry book. Ladies & Gents I can’t stop raving about it, I related to her writing on a personal level but what I loved the most was how there’s a little of something for everyone. Gretchen is also a book blogger who shares her love for books & poetry on her blog @ChicNerdReads 😉

On to my…

     Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis ★★★ (3 Stars)

A Million Junes by Emily Henry ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

A Flame in the Mist ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

Spindle Fire ★★★ (3 Stars)

The Upside of Unrequited ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

Love & You ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

If you’d like to support Gretchen’s beautiful writing, please purchase a copy of love, and you at one of the following:

Amazon (also available worldwide)

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

CreateSpace

*currently free for those who have Kindle Unlimited

Ok so…lol…in preparation for the heavy book releasing month of May, I wasn’t trying to buy ANY books. Of course, every bookworm who tries to adhere to even a small book buying ban sees themselves tempted by the Book Gods smh. I myself purchased 4 physical books & 3 e-books however, thanks to my AMAZING book blogger friends Debby @AlwaysBooking, Danielle @BooksVertigoandTea, and my twin Gretchen @ChicNerdReads the book gifts were a plenty lol. I’m seriously happy to have met these lovely ladies, they make my work day go so much faster ❤ 

Click on pic to follow my gram @Lair_Of_Books for more snaps 😉

Strange The Dreamer, Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1), Empress of a Thousand Skies (Empress of a Thousand Skies #1) (gift from Debby), Queens Of Geek (gift from Gretchen), Dream Waters (giveaway win-Dream Waters #1), The Broken Empire trilogy (gift from Danielle), Saga Vol. 7, Avenged (Ruined #2) (Goodreads win), Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2), Nemesis (Project Nemesis #1), Thirteen Reasons Why

*April’s BOTM & Owlcrate Unboxing

Timekeper (Timekeeper #1), The Handmaid’s Tale, The Queen of Blood (The Queens of Renthia #1), Love, & You

Date night’s are always tough for the hubby & I who don’t have a night sitter so we opted for a US day. A personal day where we take off from work & catch a flick, some good food, visit a bookstore or 2, and walk around the city indulging in our free time sans the 2 tiny humans. In April’s day off we caught Fate of the Furious aka Fast 8. Now I had my doubts, the franchise is 8 movies deep & after the tragic loss of Paul Walker I was feeling like maybe it’s time for them to write the final chapter. I also contemplated not watching at all but hubby really wanted to see this one as a fan of fast cars & things that explode. I was pleasantly surprised to see the way they flipped the tables in this one with the team going up against Don. I was also very happy to see some old familiar faces return after being absent in the last movie. The plot twists & revelations leave many roads this team can take. There are strong rumors that Universal is in the process of creating a spin-off with Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, and Charlize Theron (see here). For now I think i’ll keep watching where this team that I’ve been following since day 1 goes…

This post is on time with being late of course & May is well underway. I already mini hauled 4 books smh BUT they are ones I’ve wanted to read for a while now. I’m actually currently reading The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich & enjoying it so i’m glad to have chosen it in my May’s Book of the Month subscription box. 

What are you lovely bookworms currently reading/watching/enjoying/dis-liking?

Review: A Million Junes by Emily Henry

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A Million Junes by Emily Henry

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Magical Realism/Contemp

Pages: 350 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*HUGE thanks to Razorbill and Emily Henry for the ARC copy of A Million Junes.

goodreads-synopsis-2

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

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At first glance, A Million Junes is hands down a Romeo & Juliet re-telling in the country. However, at its core A Million Junes can also read as a open love letter from a father to his daughter. June O’Donell lives with her mom, stepdad, and half brothers in Five Fingers Michigan where the O’Donell’s are sort of famous in their own right. June’s dad who passed away, made sure June knew to stay away from the Angerts aka the other infamous family in Five Fingers. The bad blood has run for 3 generations however, no one can pinpoint the exact moment the feud started or the cause of it. Both the O’Donell’s & the Angerts believe they’ve been cursed so that whenever their paths cross (often they do) bad things happen. June’s dad may no longer be living but this doesn’t stop June’s mom from continuing to keep a healthy distance from the Angerts. This of course all changes when June goes to the fair with her best bestfriend Hannah & bumps into Saul Angert. Saul is a few years older than June & has just returned from a pricey artsy school for writers. No one really knows why he’s back in town other than that he is staying with his dad who was a former top bestselling author. Although Saul has heard all about the curse over both their families, he is a non-believer and crossing paths with June soon changes that. For June is a O’Donell through & through, she believes in the curse and in the magic thrumming in Five Fingers. She sees a spirit with a pink feathery aura & a fox who appears every so often in their backyard waiting for them to give it their shoes. To June, her dad was a hero and a wonderful story teller & she believed each and every last story no matter how outlandish they may have seemed at the time. The more June tries to avoid Saul, the more they are thrown together. The spirits in and around her home are trying to tell her something, they keep transporting her to others memories. Memories of her dad from his recollection when she was just a little girl. Each & every time the “Whites” (aka little puffs of white that can be seen on her windows) come to show her a new memory, June gets to know her dad a little more. Everything she thought she knew to be true may or may not be a fact. To June, these trips to the past through the “whites” offer her so much insight on her father, grandfather, and great grandfather but are they harmless? And can June let go of what she & every O’Donell before her has always believed in & follow her heart?…

Starting with Five Fingers, this town is its own character filled with spirits, ghosts, and forest animals that steal your shoes. I fell in love with this strange little town even though at times it did creep me out just a little bit. Everything from the famous O’Donnell Cherry tree to the haunted lake kept me hooked in Five Fingers. June herself is sarcastic and blunt, making her a fun character to follow. Her best friend Hannah is one of my new fave sidekicks! From their own made up way of greeting eacother to how she has June’s back no matter what, Hannah is an instant fave. This right here was A+ female friendship goals 🙌🏼 Saul Angert aka the Romeo in this book, wasn’t THE BEST on the interesting meter but he scored some major brownie points towards the end. Now, last but not least is June’s dad. Although deceased, he is definitely a character all throughout this book. We get to know him and his love for June in a way perhaps that wouldn’t have been possible if were alive. He clearly had tons of love for June, enough for it to transcend beyond the veil of the living & dead. It was this relationship in particular that will stay with me for a lifetime. I myself lost my dad, a man who loved to tell stories just like June’s dad & I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked this book up…I’m glad I did though 😉 these characters are endearing, strange, and filled with magic.

I’m usually very weary when it comes to Magical Realism & A Million June’s was no exception. I love MR but it’s not always an easy experience to read & enjoy. This book is for those that may even be a little intimidated by Magical Realism. I found the writing style to be easy to digest which only heightened my level of enjoyment. This was a very atmospheric read that will ask you suspend all disbelief which I found myself doing immediately (leave it a Fantasy lover lol) once I entered the town of Five Fingers. I mentioned in the beginning that on the surface this is inspired by Rome & Juliet however, it was so much more than that. By the time I finished the last sentence I found myself in a puddle of tears at the realization that this story is more about a father’s love for his daughter. I’ve never read anything by Henry but now I am absolutely buying her last book The Love That Split The World if only to get a bit more of her unique writing style 😉

Have any of my bookish peeps read A Million Junes? or are planning to? Sound off in the comments below <3’s! 

Also, if any of you have read The Love That Split The World please let me know if I should pick up a copy 😉

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Flame In The Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 368 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

HUGE thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, and Renee Ahdieh for the ARC copy of Flame in the Mist.

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.

A Fantasy with a feudal Japanese setting?!?! YES PLEASE! I wasn’t expecting to love my 1st Ahideh book SO MUCH! but I’m so glad that I did. When we first meet our main protagonist Mariko, we hear her internal thoughts on what it means to be born female vs. male. She isn’t at all acceptant of the old school ideals & traditions of her culture but is also very mindful & respectful of her parents wishes. On her way to Inako, the city of her betrothed, her carriage is attacked with intent to kill. Mariko does manage to escape, and it is her ingenuity that drives her to take the clothes off one of the attackers & go undercover dressed as a boy. It is her belief that the attack is the work of the Black Clan & infiltrating their ranks will lead her to answers. Her course quickly changes however, when she is captured by the Black Clan and taken back to their leader. Mariko manages to keep her cover & slowly gains their confidence. Nothing is as it truly seems with the Black Clan Or the Goodreads blurb (in a good way lol). I’ve seen comparisons to Mulan & although I can see why, I myself did not take it as a re-telling. Set in a fantastical feudal Japan, Ahdieh infuses FITM with tons of culture & it is obvious she did her research. We not only get a gender bender story but we’re also given some politics via the Bushido code which are the laws followed by the Samurai’s of the land. This played an integral part in the story, specifically the Black Clan & I won’t go into too much detail for fear of spoilers. We also get the aspect of the Geiko’s (gave me Geisha feels) who are females living & providing entertainment in tea houses where men of important affluence frequent. Mariko’s encounter with both the Black Clan & the Geiko’s leave her questioning her reality & the morality/intentions of those closest to her. I enjoyed the discussion that took place regarding both Bushido law & the existence of Geiko’s as it only helped build a more well rounded world. The second half of this book had me feeling like I was watching an episode of Game of Thrones & that is a very good thing lol! So many players on the chess board now, all with their own motives & as I previously stated…NOTHING is as it seems 😉

When we first are introduced to Mariko, we learn that she is VERY intelligent, observant, and strategic. Often looking on her twin brother Kenshin’s privilege at having been born male with a bit of envy. Mariko loves Kenshin aka The Dragon of Kai but she also wishes she didn’t have to submit to the social norms of marriage & domesticity. At the same time, Mariko doesn’t wish to bring shame to her family and this is what keeps her on course to fulfill their wishes to marry in hopes of elevating their status. It was a ton of fun following Mariko’s progression via infiltration of the Black Clan. Extremely resourceful & loyal, Mariko has now joined my small hall of fave fictional characters. Now, we also meet Kenshin her twin brother who is hot on her trail trying to find her. Kenshin who is under the impression that Mariko has been abducted, will stop at nothing to find her. I found myself liking Kenshin’s bond to Mariko but more importantly his acceptance of her “non-ordinary” nature. He may have wished she would conform just a little to make things easier but he never forced her to change. He’s always been aware of her passion for more in life, something not typically voiced or seen in the women of this world. Once in the Black Clan, we are introduced to a few members but the two that are focused on are Ranmaru and Okami. These two have a ton of history binding them, not all of it is good but goes back to their fathers. They are more like brothers now who watch eachothers back with Ranmaru being the leader & Okami the shield. LOVED these two! there’s also more than meets the eye with these two haha! discovering what hides beneath these complex characters was one of the best parts of this book. The ending of FITM brings some background characters to the forefront & begins to lay the framework for the sequel. With tons more cut throat characters coming out of the woodwork, i’m highly anticipating the sequel.

I’m a HUGE fan of lush worlds both real & fantastical, with Flame In The Mist Ahdieh delivers a huge dose of culture set in a fantasy feudal Japan. I LOVE when an author’s research jumps off the page & feeds my imagination vividly. Starting off with the very first page that lists the Bushido Code, I knew I was in for some serious story telling & that is what I got! complete with a glossary in the back of the book, FITM is a feast for any lover of cultural anthropology & Fantasy. I LOVED the underlying message of female empowerment in this book, especially seeing as it was coming from some of the male characters. Its been a while since I’ve come across male characters I truly enjoyed, Okami & Ranmaru are hands down two of my faves. Well paced, FITM unravels bit by bit leaving you with some OH I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING! moments haha! There is a romance & I appreciated that it was a slow burn (my favorite!) with all of the back & forth banter that made me smile & shake my head. The last half of this book took on a different tone once the plot thickened & motives were made known. You’ll see power play moves being made that may leave you feeling like you’re in a game of Chess. Add to the mix the fantastical aspect & I just couldn’t stop flipping the pages fast enough. Filled with culture, politics, intrigue, subterfuge, and double-crossings… Flame In The Mist is hands down one of my top Fantasy reads of 2017 😉

Have any of my bookish peeps read this one yet? or planning to pick it up next week? This is one series (I think it’s a series lol) i’ll be keeping a close eye on…

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words and to participate all you have to do is answer the three W’s listed below. Once you’ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Sam’s comments <3’s!

The questions are:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?

*Covers = Links to Goodreads 

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I’m currently reading Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer which I’ve read so many negative reviews on *unfortunately* but I’m not hating so there’s that *glass half full* I wouldn’t say that this a 5 star read but at the 50% point I see some things that I do like. I’ve always been a sucker for a Sleeping Beauty re-telling & couldn’t resist this one but I am feeling a bit under-whelmed.

I recently finished Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (review here) which I rated 3 stars. Although I didn’t LOVE it, I am in love with two of the characters in this book to actually want to pick up the conclusion to this duology. This is Mindy’s 1st dip into YA Fantasy pool & in the spirit of giving authors a 2nd chance, I’d say that yes I would give it another go. I admire authors who take risks and cross genre’s (thinks of Adam Silvera & smiles lol) when done right, it can be interesting to see a different style of story telling from your favorite author. Now, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli I believe was aiming to shatter my cheeks with how much smiling I was doing haha! I have been seriously going through a YA Fantasy burn-out/slump due to ARCS I’m trying to do right by smh lol. I needed a contemporary & I’m so glad I picked up Upside!!! I have a review going live on Thursday & I can’t recommend this book enough. The positive body image representation for plus size was FLAWLESS! and yea I can say this since I am plus size 😉 

I’m not really sure in which order I’ll read these yet, it really all depends on my mood after I finish Spindle Fire. Although I am currently feeling slumpy with YA Fantasy…I’ll shamefully admit, I haven’t read anything by Renee Ahdieh *for shame* &&&& I’m curious about her writing now. I mean I own The Wrath & The Dawn but don’t honestly know why I haven’t read it yet…the woman obviously speaks to my cover lust/vanity side. Also, who doesn’t want to read a Mulan re-telling? I think ya’ll know which one I’m leaning towards LOL! it’s a close tie if i’m being honest only because I love Magical Realism & have heard lovely things about A Million Junes so far 😉

Comment down below whether you think I should read A Million Junes or A Flame in the Mist next? Also, did any of you participate in WWW Wednesday? if so, drop that link & i’ll swing by your blog for a peek. <3<3<3 XOXO!

Review: Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

25314447Given to the Sea (Given Duet #1) by Mindy McGinnis

Published by: Putnam’s Children’s

Publication Date: April 11th 2017

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Pages: 352 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★ (3 STARS)

*Trigger warning for attempted rape & suicide

HUGE thanks to Putnam’s Children’s, Penguin’s First To Read, and Mindy McGinnis for the eGalley of Given to the Sea in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.

Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra – fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before – are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.

Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land – and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.

The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.

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The Goodreads Blurb for Given to the Sea gives a pretty detailed account of the plot and how all of the characters are tied together. So instead I’ll talk about some of the plot points and the things I enjoyed…

  • We start of our story with the main protagonist knowing that her whole existence is meant to serve as a sacrificial lamb to appease the Ocean.
  • Khosa (main protagonist) is no heroine jumping at the chance to save Stille and her people. She is also in no hurry to fulfill her role’s main requirement which is to bear a female child prior to being given to the sea.
  • Similar to many other stories of court life, we see politics at play. Khosa’s path does cross with that of the young prince who is 3rd in line to the throne.
  • While getting to know Khosa’s fears and wants, we are also introduced to other pivotal characters through multiple POV chapters.
  • Dara & Donil are Indiri brother & sister who were adopted since birth by the Prince’s mother. They lost their entire native race and since then have lived to protect those who took them in. The twins are feared by the people; known to have the ability to talk & walk from birth, they also possess certain abilities (a pretty cool superhuman ability lol) that make them excellent hunters.
  • We get introduced to the Pietra who pose a threat to Stille, the Pietra are led by Witt who obtained his rank or position by being the most fearless. Unlike in Stille, the elderly aren’t in positions of power. It’s up to Witt to cast away the elderly once they  can no longer physically contribute.
  • The Pietra however, aren’t the only threat to Stille who has yet to yield the Given to the ocean. A tradition that they believe is necessary in order to pacify the ocean & keep it from wiping them out completely.
  • I however, found the outside forces such as the Pietra to be the most interesting part of the story. There’s a bloody history tying the Indiri & the Pietra that was touched upon and think we will get more of in the sequel.

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Our main protagonist Khosa is strong willed & full with the desire to live although her fate has been decided since birth. Born into the line of women that have all been sacrificed to the ocean as the Given, she appears to have accepted her fate. Internally however, Khosa is angry & despises the idea of being set to breed at all. She wants to save her people & Stille however, a part of her resents them all. There wasn’t anything about Khosa that stood out to me as a likable quality, then again I would be bitter too if I was existing only to be sacrificed. Prince Victor gave me Dorian from the Throne of Glass series vibes & I could take him or leave him. Just like with Dorian, I wasn’t a fan of this Royal. I was however, VERY intrigued by Dara & Donil who are the Indiri twins adopted as Victor’s siblings. I LOVED their relationship with one another & how fiercely loyal they are. I also loved that Dara is actually made out to be the more lethal & stronger one (YAY Girls Rule! lol). Witt, the leader of the Pietra is a character I didn’t feel much towards even though he’s written as having a struggle with morality. Whether it’s the years of sending elderly to their deaths in handmade boats, or the brutal murders he’s witnessed & committed himself…we are made to believe that he doesn’t enjoy any of it. I however, wasn’t able to feel any empathy towards this character since all throughout this book he carries on sending people off to their deaths. I was satisfied with most of the characters development since the multiple POV’s allowed me to see things from each character’s perspective. I did wish that Dara & Donil’s POV’s were actually separated in order to get more from Donil.

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Given to the Sea is broken into multiple POV chapters, the focus being: Khosa, Victor, Dara, and Witt. As I mentioned before, Donil’s perspective is meshed in with Dara’s even though he has as big of an arc as Dara. I also struggled with half of these characters perspectives being told in first person while the other half is told in third person. Often times stopping while reading because of the awkwardness. It is the supporting characters and their histories that really drew me in and made for compelling story telling. The Indiri’s birth into this world was a bloody & painful one filled with loss & I found myself wanting to know more. I flagged this review for the following trigger warnings: attempted rape & suicide…the suicide is the “willing” sacrifice made by each of the women born to the lineage of the first given. There are also scenes of attempted rape that are a bit generous with the details. The reasoning behind the attempts is that the clock is ticking, the sea is angry, and the Given is not with child. Although I flew through this book,  found myself feeling uncomfortable with many parts. Some i’ve described in this review & others i’m still sorting my feelings on. Perhaps one of the most uncomfortable scenes for me, was one between a woman from a group of outcasts that is described as missing all of her limbs and one of Witt’s men. I won’t go into detail other than to say that I felt this character was very much sexualized because of  her missing limbs. This being my 1st Mindy McGinnis read, it’s clear to me that I may not be a fan of her Fantasy however, I am still very interested in her other books some of which I already own & will be reading later this year. Given to the Sea ended off possibly stronger than it’s slower start & for this reason alone, I will probably read the conclusion to this duology. I am attached to the Indiri twins and it is their story I would like to see to the very end 😉

Have any of my bookish peeps read Given to the Sea? what are your thoughts on Mindy’s first full fledged YA Fantasy? did you connect with any of the characters like I did with the Indiri?

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words and to participate all you have to do is answer the three W’s listed below. Once you’ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Sam’s comments <3’s!

The questions are:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?

*Covers = Goodreads

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

I’m currently reading The Upside of Unrequited & LOVING the lightness of it all, it’s just what I needed. I’m enjoying the sibling relationship & the main protagonist is seriously my type of gal. Molly Peskin-Suso is someone I could easily relate to. At the rate that I am reading this one, I’m probably going to be finishing up by tomorrow 😉

 I recently read, reviewed, and ADORED the hell out of Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray! for those of you missing the Illuminae files something BAD!…this one is for you 😉 check out my review here. After Defy the Stars I jumped in Given to the Sea (Given Duet #1) by Mindy McGinnis since this one was from Penguin’s First to Read & I was cutting it close on time limit. The First to Read program is pretty cool but you do have a due date before the book expires my bookish peeps! *always tardy to the party* haha! anyways, I’m still working my thoughts out about Given to the Sea…thoughts a PLENTY! and should have a review up this week *fingers crossed* BUT if you’re really curious or you’re just looking for a really cool Book Blogger, check out Kourtni @KourtniReads review here. Kourtni & I share similar thoughts on this one, she gave it 2 stars I gave it 3 but we both want to see how this duology works itself out 😉

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood–and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape . . . or the reason for her to stay.

Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1) by Lexa Hillyer, its not often we get a Sleeping Beauty re-telling & as a kid I always wanted to see more from this fairy tale princess. I was over the moon excited to hear of Spindle Fire & although I’m trying to remain positive…I have caught wind of the mediocre ratings *Le sigh* nonetheless I will enter this one with an open heart & hope for the best 😉

Did any of you participate in WWW Wednesday? if so, drop that link & i’ll swing by your blog for a peek. I’ve made a considerable dent in my arc spreadsheet & I’m wondering if I should reward myself with reading Strange the Dreamer…tempting!