Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh


“Never doubt. Never fear. Never overthink.”

I will admit, I wanted to read this book based only on the cover alone. It’s gorgeous! Plus I read Renee’s, Wrath and the Dawn duology, and loved those, so I assumed I would like this as well. Flame in the Mist had a very Mulan feel to it, but with a twist. It felt real. I thought I was living the story, instead of merely reading it. Pure magic.

She was not a half. She was wholly her own.

Mariko’s life isn’t headed in the direction she wishes it would go. After falling into the hands of the Black Clan, she must conceal her identity and slowly find the answers to why her life was threatened. But as she grows closer to the Black Clan, she realizes that some things aren’t what she originally perceived. There’s more to these men than she’s been told.

“To me, you are magic.”

As she learns to fight with these men, she grows closer to one in particular. And when he learns her secret, her entire world gets turned upside.

“My heart knows your heart. A heart doesn’t care about good or bad, right or wrong. A heart is always true.”

All trace of amusement vanished from his expression. “I may lie every day of my life, Hattori Mariko. But my heart will always be true.”

I do enjoy escaping to a foreign land, and Renee’s books let me do just that. They’re filled with the perfect combination of adventure, fantasy and romance all set in the beautiful locations. My heart was racing, and stopping, at quite a few spots. I am rather anxious to read the next one!!

~Melpomene
Buy Flame in the Mist here: http://amzn.to/2oYGCYv

Review: A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

house-in-the-skyI’m having a *really* hard time with this book. I find Amanda Lindhout a very selfish person. I think she was completely full of entitlement.

Of course, I feel sorry for her. I wouldn’t want anyone to go though this experience. It must have been beyond imagination.

However, from the very start Lindhout put herself in danger time and time again. Why? She seems to just have a wanderlust that she desires to fill. Work, save money, then off again until the money runs out. She seems very clear that she became a journalist simply because it was a way for her to continue to travel and skip the going home part, waitress, save money, repeat. At no point in time did she show any desire to better the lives of the people she exploited (sorry, but it was an income to her, nothing more, that to me is exploiting). She would go to hotels and demand rooms from men that were very animate that she should not be there unsupervised. She would be turned away and then become enraged and go down the street from hotel to hotel with the same response.

Of course this is not a great way of life. However, it is THEIR RIGHT to live that way. It is their country. Lindhout was told it was not safe and her naivety (her words, not mine) didn’t really feel that applied to her. That’s the entitlement I felt she displayed.

As people from 1st world countries often do, Amanda felt that the entire world was open to her. That she should be able to come and go as she wanted. If she hasn’t felt that entitlement, hadn’t felt she had the right to do as she pleased (despite her parents warnings and pleas, despite the warnings from governments, despite the warnings from thee citizens of the countries she went into, despite the warnings of the other reporters, despite, despite, despite!) and go where she wanted, none of this would have happened.

I could almost forgive her if she had truly been trying to help the people who suffered in these countries, but again, she is quite clear (her own words) that she was just looking for a sensational story to win her a sponsorship to a major network without having to take the normal route. She simply decided to call herself a freelancer and went out….without training, without schooling, again, without, without, without…she simply went with the first person that would hire her and didn’t even bother to check what they stood for or if she agreed with any of their viewpoints…

Then there is Nigel. Perhaps this is where I disliked her the most. I firmly believe that there are always two sides to every story. The facts are, she invited Nigel (she later admits she did so in order to screw with his mind, again, Lindhout shows how self involved she is). She goes on and on about him crying all the time…like there is something shameful in that. She gets angry when he has relationships with some of the captors. She damns him for not being supportive enough, for not touching her or talking at times….and yet she tells the reader time and time again how weak he is. He doesn’t want to pretend to be muslim, she decides that it is for the best and just does it without his approval and forcing him to do the same. Again, Lindhout shows the world that it’s what she wants and that’s final. The rest can just deal with it. Here’s the thing, Nigel’s life is on the line as well and perhaps he is just trying to survive. Why is okay for Amanda to cry, and we should feel sympathy for her, but if Nigel does, it’s said in such a way that we should feel shame for him?

Again, I am sorry, I know everyone I know has loved this book. It just made me angry. Angry that she was in the position in the first place. Angry that so many people suffered. Angry that the governments of the captives had to deal with the political fallout from all of this. Angry that people think that they are above what everyone else is saying…

I really don’t care if this experience changed her. I don’t really care what humanitarian things she does now. I feel strongly that she gets well paid for all of it. She isn’t doing it for free. If she were, I somehow doubt if she would be doing it. Don’t misunderstand me, sure you can get paid for these things…the difference is, would you do so regardless of payment? What are your motives? I’m pretty sure where Lindhout’s stem from…

(side note) FWIW, many journalists criticized this book because it contradicted much of what Nigel wrote in his memoir that came out prior to this book…there are a few other instances that her integrity came into question and many believe she has lied about other events (prior to the kidnapping). Many things I read in this book (about her behaviour) didn’t ring true to me….

Until next time…
Urania

Buy it now A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

Review: Seeker by Veronica Rossi

A very adventurous and exciting story, filled with enough action to make even the most stubborn of readers get engaged. I know the teens are gonna love this.

Because this is the second book in the Riders duology, I don’t want to say anything spoilery. But what I can tell you is that this has to be one of favorite true YA series. My kids and I read the first book, Riders, right when it came out. Then I just did a relisten last week, with them listening every now and then, and all the excitement came back to me. In fact, my non reader son actually found ways to be in the same room as me so he could listen to the book, but not making it obvious that he was listening. The audible was very addicting. I found myself actually doing chores just so I could listen to it more. That, my friends, is a sign of a good book.

And my anti romance daughter was equally intrigued with this story as well. I’m always on the lookout for exciting YA books that aren’t completely centered around romance, and this one fit the bill as well. It enough to keep us both happy, and that’s a rarity.

Well, enough about Riders, now onto Seeker. Seeker takes place about 8 months after Riders end. The characters are trying to work past what happened and try to find a solution. Since they’re younger and less mature, they don’t always make the right decisions. They try and do things on their own, so save others from harm, but what they really need to do is work together. Once they realize this, then things start to fall into place. I’m not saying that nothing bad will happen, but it’s easier to deal with the bad, when you have your friends and family close by.

It’s very bittersweet to have this book end. I will miss these characters and I wish there were more books coming, but alas, there is not. But I am happy to see their trials complete and them still together and moving on as a family. 

This series will be added to my master list of YA books and I have a feeling it will be recommended often.

~Melpomene

Grab Riders here: http://amzn.to/2pkiUHD
Grab Seeker here: http://amzn.to/2pkwP0c

Review: Silent in the Sanctuary (Lady Julia Grey #2) by Deanna Raybourn

silent-sancI didn’t like this one nearly as much as I did the first book in the Lady Grey series. I have to admit, I started to give it a mediocre rating. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy it, I just felt it was missing some of the charm and the prepossessing nature of the first novel. Let’s also be honest and admit I felt some of the banter between Ms. Grey and Brisbane was missing…or there wasn’t enough of it. Julia Grey seemed a bit fickle at times, wanting her independence and then being a bit disappointed when Brisbane didn’t pressure her or demand answers. However, I have to be honest and say that’s often how it is in real life, is it not?

However, the few talks that Julia has with a few characters at the end really made me love this book. There really was some profound tidbits in there that made me sit back, stop the book, and marvel at how even a light, fun read can make you ponder life.

Now living in England, stories such as these really are a delight since I am familiar with many of the places that are mentioned. I was often able to see that some life long traditions and some favourite places of the characters are now some of my favourite traditions and places of my very own.

There were several storylines going on in this novel, so I shall leave the description and plot summary to the book’s cover and to other reviewers, and, instead, leave you with a few of my favourite quotes from this one…

I took a sip of my tea and averted my eyes. The tea was bitter now, and I put it down again.

‘Ah, the taste of regret,’ Magda said softly. ‘You wish you had not come. But you did, and you must let me finish the tale I have begun.’

Those are facts. Are they the truth? No, for they do not tell you of the heart, and that is where truth lives.

It is astonishing how words can cut one to the quick and yet leave no outward trace. One would have expected a lash like that to leave a mark.

Life is either far too short or far too long to make yourself miserable.

‘But surely such things are better left unknown, I too have the curious cousins, but we do not speak of them.’
‘That is the difficulty, my dear. In your family you do not speak of them. In my family, we celebrate them. In Italy, one must always be conscious of la bella figura, of presenting one’s best self. Among the Marches, we please ourselves and the devil take the rest.’

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

Review: The Queen and the Cure by Amy Harmon

“There will be a battle, and you will need to protect your heart.”

This quote depicts this book perfectly. Battles of the mind, body and soul will be fought. To be victorious, Kjell must hold fast to who he is and trust in himself. My heart was taken with Kjell and his journey. There was so much for him to learn. I feel honored to get to watch him grow into himself.

Now this book wasn’t without heartache and pain. Oh no, definitely not. It was a slow burn and running smoothly…until it wasn’t. Then the real pain began. I made the mistake of reading this late at night and had to stop just when it was coming to a head. But I woke up at 3 am to continue my torture, and it was glorious. I live for these kind of books. The kind that drag you into the depths of despair and keep you there until you think you can’t go on any longer. Then BAM. Yes, as you can tell, I enjoyed this book very much. This story blew The Bird and the Sword out of the water for me.

Sasha was such a well written character. She was so strong, even when she wasn’t. She had to be. Her entire world depended on it. I love how fierce she was. Sasha wouldn’t take any crap from anyone, even if it put her life at risk. She loved with a fierceness that I adore. No matter what life threw at her, she remained true.

Amy Harmon has mastered the art of fantasy romance. The world is believable and the stories seem so real. I felt like I was sitting in the clouds watching this transpire. I hope she’ll write more from this genre. And possibly more from this world. *hint hint*

~Melpomene

Buy The Queen and the Cure here: http://amzn.to/2pBPp2R
Meet Kjell first in The Bird and the Sword here: http://amzn.to/2pQH8sS

Review: The Thing About Love by Julie James

Jessica Harlow (love that name) and John Shepard went to the FBI academy together – and everything was a competition.  After six years in different offices, they’re back in their hometown of Chicago, working an undercover operation… together. 

Julie James did her thing with this book – infused the right amount of levity, tension, witty banter, fierceness, and tenderness. In The Thing About Love, James gives us cool bromances, family get togethers, a trendy bar scene, and a trashy egomaniac of a mayor that you’ll love to hate. By the middle of the book, I KNEW Jessica and John, I rooted for them as they figured out how much of themselves to share, my jaw dropped when they moved their relationship in various directions, and I cried when Jessica finally saw her own truth. 

I couldn’t put down this book for the life of me. I read it while I brushed my teeth and then stayed up really late and by that time I was at 84% so I just stayed up even later to finish it.

I finally saw the last page at 2:30am, got 4 hours of sleep, and I’m not even sorry. It’s a really good story with badass FBI agents. If that’s not enough for you, there’s a Gucci happily ever after, too. 

-calliope

Buy THE THING ABOUT LOVE

Review: A Wedding in Italy by Tilly Tennant

Aaahh, Rome! Kate moves there from London with high hopes of getting a great job and living happily ever after. But boyfriend Alessandro’s family and coworkers throw a wrench into Kate’s plan. Of course Kate rallies… but at what expense? 

This book gave me a wonderful taste of Rome, from the quick bites to eat to walking the stone streets to Nonna’s cooking to coffee in the square. I lived in Rome for a little bit with Kate, felt her independence, her struggle to “make it” as a seamstress and real estate agent, and her frustration at not being accepted fully into Alessandro’s family.  

Kate’s a cute character, realistic and relatable. Tennant could’ve written Alessandro a little deeper, though. He was sort of on the periphery, even more so than his ex girlfriend and his family. I love a good romance, but half the romance is the guy! 

If you like all things Italian, pick this up – if only for the fast drives to the countryside, the pasta, and Kate’s attempts to ingratiate herself with Nonna! 

-calliope

Buy A WEDDING IN ITALY