Smoke in the Sun

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh is the sequel to Flame in the Mist.

We pick up where we left off in book one. Okami has been captured and Mariko allows herself to be “rescued,” tricking her brother, Kenshin, and betrothed, Raiden, into thinking she was being held hostage by the Black Clan. Now Mariko is playing the part of obedient fiancee and meek woman, all the while seeking to free Okami and bring down the vicious new emperor.

But the inner workings of the court leave Mariko little time to plot and plan, so she begins to look for allies from within. Meanwhile the Black Clan has been busy; recruiting and building their numbers. No longer are they the small force hidden within the Jukai forest. The flames of unrest are heating up and a mysterious plague leave many deranged or dead.

Can Mariko save the man she loves? Can she ever be free from the chains her sex ties her to? Will there ever be peace?

You know a book has it’s problems when your summary of it barely makes any sense! Guys… I don’t like to bash books. I don’t. But this one has some serious flaws. The first book was amazing! There was depth, the world building was great, the characters were diverse and dynamic and, mainly I just wanted to keep reading. Where this one started out slow, then finally picked up and gave me all sorts of breadcrumbs I wanted to explore and then it just ended in a rush, with very sloppily tied up ends. Where were my breadcrumbs! It was like the author either wasn’t invested in this one or she had plans for a third book but decided to nix it.

This really should have been three books. We were given such wonderful hints into our side characters lives–hints that felt very much like promises of whats to come–and they are just ignored. What about Yumi? We get whole chapters from her perspective about how she will not be left behind by her brother and yet all we see is her bolting away on a horse with a disparaging look from her brother. What about Tsukai (sp?) and Okami and the insight we get into Tsukai’s feelings and Hiakru (sp?) and the hints we get there! I mean really there was so much beneath the surface here that was never explored. And this isn’t just me wishing there were more to the book. NO. I felt like I was being promised things that were not delivered.

I also felt like Mariko got a little lost. Yes, we are told she is stronger for what she went through in the forest and we see it but she really didn’t impress me like she did in the first book.

Sigh. I had such high hopes for this one and unfortunately it only gets 2.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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Deranged Angels and Cannibal Hearts

Deranged Angels and Cannibal Hearts is the third book in the Dead Things series.

*Spoiler Alter-Don’t read this review if you intend on reading the first two books*

We pick up after the disastrous end of the second book. Quinn is with Silas and still soulless; Mace is still a ghost and Ember is devastated, and Evangeline is dead; there are missing limbs, kidnappings, PTSD and more death. Our ragtag pack of misfits are in pretty dire straights.

One thing is for certain, the pack will only survive the coming battles by working together as one. But this is easier said then done. Secrets are running rampant, omissions and lies hide the truth, and mistrust leads to fractures within the group.

Can the pack overcome their differences and fight together for the good of their town? For the good of everyone? 

So, I started my review of the second book by saying that a lot happens over the course of the book… Like a lot. Which, if I am being honest, got me a little lost in this one. I couldn’t for the life of me remember who Evangeline was, except that she died and when I went back to the character overviews in the beginning, of course there was no recap of Evangeline. After finishing this whole book, I still can’t recall her a 100%.

The individual stories in this book work for me. The pairings, the drama, separately they work. However, there was something about the flow that didn’t quite bring all of these stories together. Could it be that there was just so much going on that I was waiting for the pieces to all fall together… maybe. Maybe everything will be summed up and tied into nice little knots in the last book and all will be well in the world. But for now, I feel like I am playing the waiting game. Waiting for all the pieces to fit.

The characters are still quite realistically sarcastic, which I like. We use sarcasms and snark so much in the real world that it is good to see an author who can use it correctly. Although Kai was starting to annoy me a little bit with his whinny, but well-founded, panic/fears. Two couples I do like though are Ilsa and Wren and whatever is going on with Tristen and Tate.

Finally, I had a really, really hard time getting past the editing. For two pages, the wrong characters name was used–I mean really? There were also a lot of… wrong words. Using he instead of him, I’m instead of I–that sort of thing. I just have a really hard time looking past that sort of thing, which often makes my reviews a bit harsher than they would be otherwise.

I am invested in this story and need to see where it ends up but because of the above (mostly the editing), this one only gets a grudging three stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Traitor Born

Traitor Born by Amy A. Bartol is the second book in the Secondborn series.

We pick up where we left off in book one. Roselle is torn between her duty as a second born, the gardeners who want to change the fates by instilling her as firstborn sword or the gates of dawn, a rebel group who wants to tear down the whole institution. Any move she makes could mean her life or the life of one of the people she cares about.

As factions scheme and plot for power, Roselle must pick a side but is she strong enough to do it? Will she cave under the pressure or will she rise up and play the role everyone seems to think she is destined for?

This was one of those audiobooks that I couldn’t stop listening to even though I kept telling myself what I didn’t like about the book. It’s in no way a bad book but it’s more of a guilty pleasure in that I can’t stop reading the series even though the merit isn’t quite there for me.

For one thing, I was so certain that Roselle was going to be in the Secondborn trial by the end of the book. I was so sure that was where this was going. There was such a focus on the trial that you knew something was going to happen and even though I didn’t mind what did happen, I was still disappointed.

My MAJOR problem with this series, but this book in particular, is that Roselle is described as this strong woman. She’s basically Xena Warrior Princess in her fighting skills and we are told that she will do what she wants, that she can change the world, that she’s brave and strong…I could go on. BUT she isn’t. She is surrounded by men who are constantly making decisions for her. She is manhandled more often then she kicks butt. And she basically goes weak in the knees for every male… Oh and ever male in the book is super hot and basically irresistible… sigh. That being said, I was sort of getting into the Raken / Roselle ship but I need her to give him a good beat down first, to really get on board.

I will say, there was a twist at the end that I didn’t expect but after it happened, I could actually remember the hints that Bartol gave throughout the book. This is something I really like and rocketed this one from a 2 to a 3 for me.

This one gets a grudging 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is the first book in a new West African inspired fantasy series.

Zélie Adebola was only a little girl when magic was taken from Orïsha. She was only a small child when her mother was taken away in chains and murdered for her maji blood. But she was old enough to remember the way the world was and what was lost.

Zélie and her people are treated like “maggots;” they are taxed just for breathing and when they can’t pay their taxes they are thrown in the stocks. More than ten years later Zélie and her family are still living with the consequences of “the raid” and under the thumb of a ruthless ruler.

When chance–or fate–leads Zélie on a journey to restore magic, will she be strong enough to be the hope her people need? With her brother and rouge princess in tow, Zélie must trust in the gods and in her own abilities to save the maji from persecution and death.

Children of Blood and Bone is really unlike any other. I’ve been really interested in fantasy books that take place in different settings lately. Recently, I’ve read ones that take place in Russia, the Middle East, Japan and now West Africa. I just love the diverse settings and the different feel these settings give to the genre.

The world building here was well done, although I felt that some history was lacking. Lots of allusions to the past but not many “facts.” One of the things I like to know, when entering a new world, is hints to how that world came to be. Maybe we will get more of a backstory in book two.

The plot is action packed and racially charged. The pace feels quick to go along with the plot and the violence, persecution and more can relate to today’s society–which if you listen to the author’s notes, was the intent.

My only hesitation with this book was the romance. The story started out so great and then there was this all consuming romance that I was really scared would take over a stellar plot. Fortunately, it did take a back-burner but for some reason this is a series where I want the romance to be in the margins.

The narrator of this audiobook was great. I think she really helped to create this world of Orïsha in a way that just reading might not have done. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Hero At The Fall

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton is the third and final book in the A Rebel of the Sands series.

In this third and final book we pick up where we left off in book two. Amani and the rebels are in dire straights. Several of them have been killed and many captured, including their rebel prince. The rebels that are left are trapped in a city with a blood thirsty sultan, who wields unnatural power and a mechanical army, all while their friends and leader are dragged away to a mythical prison.

With only a the skeleton of the rebellion left, Amani has taken over as leader, a job, it seems, only she can do even though she doesn’t want it. Now Amani must make hard decisions that could forever change the course of this war.

Will Amani be able to lead this rabble of rebels who are quickly losing hope and heart? Will she fine the rebel prince and be able to put him on the thrown? And when everything is on the line, will Amani be able to give up everything she loves, even her own life if necessary?

I wasn’t total sure about the first book in this series. The second picked up speed and the third was the conclusion. I don’t know if it is just me but I felt that each of the books in this series had a different narrative feel/pace in the first half and the second halves of the books. Each book I started, I was like “womp, womp” but after a hundred pages or so they pick up and get a lot more interesting. It is almost as if the author took awhile getting into the flow of things. But I made it through the series and it wasn’t a made read.

One of the things I did like about this book was how the author handled myth. This story was like a myth in the making and how myths and legends don’t always meet the reality of what happened. It was also kind of neat to see who was telling the “story” at the end of the book.

I actually don’t have much else to say about this one, which may tell you more than anything. It was a read that kept me entertain but not one that is going to stick with me for the long haul. This one get’s 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Grey Sister

Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence is the second book in the Book of the Ancestor series.

Nona Grey entered Sweet Mercy a starving little girl, full of rage and secrets. Now she’s made friends, improved her body and mind, and has moved from red to grey class. The further Nona gets in her studies the closer her decision to choose a path comes. She must choose to “take the red of a Martial Sister, the grey of a Sister of Discretion, the blue of a Mystic Sister or the simple black of a Bride of the Ancestor and a life of prayer and service.”

All Nona wants is to complete her studies and make Sweet Mercy her home, but assassins, inquisitions, betrayal, revenge, rage… so much rage could shake her from the path and take away all she loves.

Will Nona be able to see through the anger and grief that threaten to destroy her? Or will she lose herself and risk those around her?

I just love this series. It fun, complex, brutal and captivating in all the right places. It is also SO hard to explain to people though! I swear the other day I told someone that this series take place in a world covered in ice, except for a shrinking area along the equator and that the story follows nuns and nuns in training–think Hogwarts meets Mortal Combat! HA!

I love the setting of this book–a world slowly being swallowed by ice and hints to a lost age that feels awfully familiar. The world building is just fantastic. I love Sweet Mercy and the factions of nuns. There’s also this mystery, a darkness hidden on the fringes that adds another layer to the story.

I gave the first book 5 stars and this one 4.5. The only reason this one loses a half star is because of a very long sequence of battles about 3/4 of the way through that felt a little dragged out to me–even though they were AWESOME! I just felt like the story stalled a little bit so that a little extra butt kicking could be added. But who doesn’t love a good butt kicking.

This is one of those series I just keep telling people about. Grey Sister gets 4.5 stars from me!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Thunderhead

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman is the second book in the Arc of a Scythe series.

In this book we pick up where we left off in book one. Rowan and Citra have each gone down their own paths in regards to the Scythedom, setting them against one another even as they long to be closer.

Citra has now become a junior scythe under Scythe Curie and sees the corruption of the Scythedom from the inside. The Scythe’s are split between the new order and the old guard and Citra has found herself in a political struggle to keep the Scythedom pure. But will it be enough? And how far will she be willing to go to fix a floundering institution.

Rowan has taken another path, going rouge and becoming both judge and jury in the damnation of corrupted Scythe’s. Now wearing the taboo black robe and going by the name “Scythe Lucifer,” Rowan is gleaning those power hungry Scythe’s whose thirst for violence and terror goes against the pure intentions of the founding Scythes.

And witnessing it all is the Thunderhead–the all power AI whose only rule is not to impose or influence the Scythedom… at least not directly.

What will become of this world on the precipice of disaster and who will be there to pick up the pieces when it falls?

At first, I thought this book was going to suffer from second book syndrome. Good but not great. But I was pleasantly surprised with how much this book added to the overall plot of this series. When starting out, I thought we were only going to get this struggle between Citra and Rowan, wannabe lovers who are doomed to fight. But we get so much more. This story isn’t just about these two Scythes. It is about the world as a whole–it’s corruption, the hope and despair, the fight for better. And we are left wanting so much more.

One of the things I like about this book was that every time I expected one thing, another thing happened… or at the very least things happen in ways I didn’t expect. I love be surprised in ways that make sense.

There is so much going on in this book and yet you are not overwhelmed or burdened by the extraneous. Schusterman does a really great job of building this world that feels real but isn’t bogged down with minutiae.

This one gets 4 stars from me!

That’s all for now!

-M-