THE BEST KIND OF MAGIC TOUR+GIVEAWAY


                                                            

The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy
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Synopsis:

Amber Sand isnot a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber's pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone's soul mate.
Amber works ather mother's magic shop--Windy City Magic--in downtown Chicago, and she's confident she's seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one--her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor's son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father's missing girlfriend, she's distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can't see her own match, she can see his--and it's not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn't her match?
The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and willappeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.



Amber's not the happiest person on the planet. Coming from a line of powerful witches she isn't thrilled with being a lowly matchmaker that witches look down on. She isn't allowed into the coven or into any of the witch traditions because she isn't considered to a be a witch...*Ouch*. But when the mayor's son comes to her for help to find his future step mom who's suddenly gone missing, she can't help but agree and prove to everyone that a lowly matchmaker managed to be a hero. But she already knows who Charlie's true love is and the more time she spends with him, the more she falls for him...and the more she gets visions of his true love and their future together.

The blurb of this book caught my attention instantly and i knew i just had to sign up for this tour! I mean come on a girl falling for a guy while she can see his soulmate the entire time? Consider me intrigued!

"Do you know how hard it is to make out with someone when all you can picture is his wedding to someone else? I'd have to be blackout drunk to keep those visions from coming, and what would be the point of that?"
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From the moment i started the book with Amber's narration, i knew this would be good. She's snarky and hilarious and quite bitter. I liked that balance in her character. Some characters in books are sarcastic and bitter just for the sake of it but Amber's backstory really explained why she was like that. Although she had full trust in her powers, she was completely excluded from her family heritage because she wasn't considered worthy enough to be a witch. She's happy with who she is but she just wants to be included but her mom and the rest of the coven still wished she was something other than a matchmaker. And all that kind of pushed her to be this character who masks her hurt with dry humor and sarcasm.


"'Maybe you're not a witch, but you're definitely a bitch.' Remind me to get that on my tombstone." 


The romance really had this "doomed from the start" thing going on but you just couldn't help but like it-it was just so adorable! Amber can't see her own true love but she does believe in love. It's hard for her to watch people come to her to confirm that they are indeed dating/marrying their true love while she feels like she'll never have that. Being rich Charlie has had his fair share of girls throwing themselves at him but he prefers to stay clear of it all. He was a very "no BS" guy who was perfectly content with his own company. Both of them come out of that solitude they confined themselves too and start to get to know each other better. 

Charlie was so cute! He wasn't your typical bad boy that we usually see in YA but a kind and kind of solitary guy that happens to be insanely rich and wears glasses! I had to point out that he wears glasses cause we don't see a lot of people with glasses in YA!
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I really really hope Amani, Amber's best friend, gets her own book at some point! She a super interesting character that has visions of the future but the visions aren't really a happy experience for her. She doesn't really like her magic and so she tries to avoid it. Add that to sexy, rich and flirty vampire bar owner as her true love with a little plot twist and this book would rock!

If you're looking for a heavy book filed with plot twists, wars and complications then this isn't it. But if you want a fresh, light, funny and sweet contemporary read with a dash of supernatural and adventure then i would highly recommend this one! It can be read as a standalone but the author left a little plot twist in there and i'm definitely keeping up with book 2 because i'm really invested with these characters and i can't wait to see what's gonna happen to them next!


Meet the Characters 

Amber Sand          

  Amber comes from a long line of witches, but she herself isnot a witch. She did getone highly specific magical talent: she can see true love.            
 Magical Talent: matchmaking           
 Likes: baking, unicorns, any and all forms of sugar           
 Dislikes: vegetables, tacky souvenirs, most people            
 Quote: “ Only crazy people and Satan don’t like frosting.” 

Amani Sharma            

Amani has the power to see the future, a talent she works to suppress. Together with Amber, the two best friends made a pact to never share the details of the other’s destiny.           
 Magical Talent: precognition             
 Likes: reality TV, spicy foods, planning her future wedding            
Dislikes: gym class, cheap lip gloss, jeans             
Quote: “ You don’t know for sure what the future will bring.” 

Charlie Blitzman            

Charlie is the son of Chicago’s mayor. This fame draws him a lot of attention atschool, buthehas a hard time finding people he truly connects with.            
Magical Talent: being charming            
Likes: dragons, tie clips, trying new things           
 Dislikes: paparazzi, pickles, fake people           
 Quote: “ Who knew the world had so much magic?” 

Ivy Chamberlain            

 Ivy is blonde, beautiful, and knows it: she’s a siren, andhas the entire school wrapped around her perfectly manicured finger.             
Magical Talent: manipulating the masses             
Likes: cheerleading, being adored, watching boys cry           
 Dislikes: matchmakers            
Quote: “ I know what it takes to survive.”







With rainbows inmy hair and stories in my head, I am a writer drawn to magic in the everyday world.

My debut novel, The Best Kind of Magic, arrives May 16, 2017 from Hyperion. Follow Amber Sand, a magical matchmaker who can actually see true love, as she takes off on a fun and romantic adventure toward happily ever after.






*DISCLAIMER* BEFORE YOU ENTER THE GIVEAWAY PLEASE READ BELOW*

This tour is a little different in the sense that every blog is running their own giveaway for one copy of the book. So there will be one winner per blog who wins only ONE copy of the book. It's totally okay to enter the giveaway in all the blogs on tour to maximize your chances of winning but if ever you find yourself winning on 2 blogs we ask that you please decline one of the wins and just claim your one copy and give the chance to someone else to win the book :) And be honest when entering the giveway-i'll be checking the entries. Please respect this so it's fair! 
Best of luck to everyone :P


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SPELLCASTER REVIEW

TITLE: Spellcaster
AUTHOR: George Bachman
SERIES: ?
PUBLICATION DATE: April 3 2017
PUBLISHER: Self Published
SOURCE: review copy from author


Christine Daniel suffers in ways no sixteen year-old should and that no doctor has been able to cure. That's because the excruciating pains and high fevers slowly debilitating her aren't triggered by a physical cause but by visions of a youth calling to her while fleeing a mysterious man who means him harm. This could hardly be happening at a worse time, when she and her beautiful older sister Allison are making their début in high society, like other wealthy socialites seeking matches with titled but impoverished gentlemen in Victorian England.
Because of his pleas, Christine is convinced that to stop the visions she must somehow save this youth. But first she has to find him, and since she's seen him only in visions, she needs someone who'd know how to locate someone through means outside the known senses, the paranormal. Unfortunately the authorities have driven underground all but one of the country's occultists, and the reason she isn't hiding is the only reason she might help Christine, something she wants in return. Christine must convince Allison to marry the occultist's lover, one of those impoverished gentlemen, so that the illicit pair can share her part of the family fortune while continuing their affair.
If Christine doesn't stop the visions by saving the youth, the pains and fevers will eventually kill her. But if she does what the occultist wants, she will betray Allison to a lifetime of misery. Can she lead her sister into a marriage with a very bad man if doing so is the only way to save her own skin - literally?



Christine is plagued by visions and nightmares. Being in the midst of a posh society that thrives on gossip, scandal and shunning, she has to be careful not to draw the wrong attention especially since it's nearly her time to debut. So she turns to witchcraft and magic to find out why she's plagued by those weird dreams but she can't do everything on her own and so she starts to seek out help from the renowned occultists in society all while trying to keep her outrageous behavior from tainting her reputation. But the occultist that hasn't been banned wants something in return-she wants Christine's sister to marry her lover so that they can share the family fortune.


The premise and plot of this story was exciting! Christine is having visions of her past life and she feels like she's not herself because of these visions. She was really strong headed and a bit stubborn in my opinion because she refuses to let her sisters and friend's now that she's suffering. I also really appreciated that in her past life the author didn't automatically make her a woman but rather a man.


"I knew things i could not possibly know and i have to fight the overwhelming feeling that...that i am not only me."


The two story lines and the differences in setting were pretty cool! A British society and the medieval knight setting. It was a book that mixed Austen feels and  maybe some kind of medieval-king Arthur knight feels, But the transition from one setting to another wasn't as smooth as it could have been. The shift was a bit too abrupt i think.


The beginning was a bit rough for me because i got easily confused with all the characters we were introduced to at the beginning. I had trouble keeping up with who was who and it felt a little like we had an onslaught of background in one go instead of a gradual explanation spread out within the first chapter.


The author did an amazing job with his writing, that is one thing i really have to mention. It was really good writing and his interpretation of each of these eras was excellent. There was a lot of time and effort put into those settings. There was also a great build of tension and mystery throughout the writing which i found pretty cool :P

"I laid in bed for a week hearing and seeing things only spirits can show, not hallucinations. Voices strong as memories. It was not with my eyes and ears alone, it was all the way inside me."


Unfortunately the story didn't grip me, and though the author did a spectacular job with his world building, at times it felt like a little too much descriptions were included. When you spend so much time describing and describing, the reader kind of loses focus on the story and i found myself skipping a couple of heavy description filled paragraphs but once i got back to the story, i had kind of already lost the gist of it. The story grips your attention but then you're distracted by the descriptions and once you get back to the story, your attention isn't really won over again.


Overall it was an interesting read that i'm sure loads of people would love but this one just wasn't for me unfortunately :/ Have a great week guys!


ACOWAR SPOILER DISCUSSIONS



ACOWAR has literally been the most awaited book of 2017! I stayed up all night until it was delivered on my kindle at 4.00 a.m. I started readign straight away and finished at around 20.30!!! I'm so proud of myself because it is the largest book i've ever read in one day!




WHAT I LIKED


So first thing's first, Feyre in the Spring Court be like
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No but seriously, Feyre was absolutely phenomenal in this book! Badass and kickass don't even begin to describe her! You could really see how happy and at ease she was at the Night Court compared to the Spring Court mostly because we could compare her to another outsider-Lucian.

I've always loved Lucian! Even though in ACOMAF i get that he was too busy worshiping Tamlin to help Feyre but i always liked this dude! And omigosh Calanmai!!!!!! I actually did not hate Tamlin after ACOMAF-i didn't like him at all but i didn't hate him. But after i found out that because of him Lucian had to perform the ritual with that conniving Bitch-excuse the language-Ianthe, i totally hated him! My poor Lucian!!!! But for the rest of the book i absolutely loved him! Ugh there's so much heartache surrounding him and the fact that Elain was in love with another man!!!! And now i think Azriel is gonna swirl up trouble between them.

Am i the only one that doesn't like Elain? I get her character and she's super well written but i just don't like her at all. Nesta however i'm really starting to like. I really didn't know if i hated or liked her in the previous books but towards the end of ACOWAR she started to grow on me! She was really the pillar of strength and the idea that She took something back from the Cauldron? YES. YES JUST YES. Nesta's portrayal was so feral, sharp, wild, untamable (I don't that that's a word) and AMAZING!!!! Taking something from the Cauldron is just somethign she would do!

AZRIEL OMIGAWD I THINK I LIKE HIM MORE THAN RHYS <3

“Chain me to a tree, Rhys,” Azriel said softly. “Go ahead.” He began checking the buckles on his weapons. “I’ll rip it out of the ground and fly with it on my damned back.”

Did anyone else see sparks between him and Elain?

Cassian my beautiful Cassian.I cried, i full on cried when we learned his wings were cured!!!

"A shadow slammed into the earth before us, cracking the ice toward every horizon. Not a shadow. An Illyrian warrior. Seven red Siphons glinted over his scaled black armor as Cassian tucked in his wings and snarled at Eris with five centuries’ worth of rage. Not dead. Not hurt. Whole. His wings repaired and strong."
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I'm shipping Nessian so much!!!!! 

Ianthe-I AM THRILLED ABOUT HOW SHE DIED. YES. YES. YES. But the Suriel? I really couldn't believe our favorite Gossip Girl died and SJM did confirm our suspicion that in ACOTAR when the Suriel had said "Stay with the High Lord," he'd meant Rhys not Tamlin.


Now on to Mor's confession! So Yes i'm so happy for Mor but at the same time i did feel a lot of chemistry between Azriel and herself so i'm just wondering if SJM came up with this twist in ACOWAR because of all the hate she was getting due to the lack of diversity or if that was legitimately always the plan for Mor? Either way, no complaints for me here but PLEASE SOMEONE GET ME A BOOK ABOUT AZRIEL!!! I volunteer myself as his mate.
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It was also super interesting to meet all the other high lords and explore their territories. One thing SJM does FLAWLESSLY is her world building. 


One of the reasons i was so excited for ACOWAR is that this is the first time SJM ever finished a series so what does that say about how she'll end ToG? Will she play it safe again? No idea! I was in need of a hug after the end though!

Kudos to SJM for including diversity! Basically SJM has been attacked for the lack of diversity in her books but we have to remember that she's a white female and doesn't have the same background as a POC! She's writing what she knows and though i know it bothers a lot of people that the POC in her books were either non-existent or killed off, we cannot make her write what we want. In ACOWAR she really made an effort! 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!!!! But i still prefer ACOMAF...Even though this book had loads of Azriel... Did i love it-YES YES YES YES! But it still falls short of ACOMAF for me :/ But it's still a 5 star read!

So please don't hate me and please understand and believe me when i say i love every single one of those characters! But does anyone else feel that Sarah was a little too convenient in her ending? I was waiting for at least one death to break my heart and tear me apart because this series was so epic i felt like it needed that ground breaking and heart aching finale. The Archeron father doesn't count and although i BAWLED MY EYES OUT when i thought Rhys died, the end was too cheesy for a battle that could supposedly turn the world upside down.

I kind of wished Sarah had taken a risk instead of playing it safe *hides from glares*. Like Amren coming back? That was just way too happy for me...ugh this is hard to explain. As a fan i am thrilled that everyone survived but as a reader who thrives on books that bring out emotions, i really didn't feel that rush of emotions at the very end that followed ACOMAF, and the rest of the ToG books.  When i finished the book i just put it down-sure my mind was reeling a little and it hit me that OMIGOSH RHYS AND FEYRE'S STORY IS OVER but i wasn't completely shaken and rattling from the end-which i thought we would have had with ACOWAR. For such an epic story with epic stakes i felt like someone just needed to die. We needed a heart wrenching impact ending. It did not have that EPIC ending that i've been waiting for for a whole year...of course that's just my personal opinion and everyone is welcome to their own :) Please don't attack me!

Let's just go back to Amren for a second because i remember that was the part that ACOWAR kind of lost its glossy sheen to me. That beautiful poetic unleashing of Amren as she soared the skies and defeated the enemies? YES. YES. This is what SJM is epic for, these groundbreaking, heart stopping moments that leave you in complete awe of her characters. And then, Amren comes out of the cauldron to live her happily ever after. wait. what? I love Amren but seriously? After we spent two books about how dangerous she was and that when she was unleashed everyone should cower in fear she' just gonna reappear in the cauldron as a high fae? From that point on ACOWAR just kind of breezed by, i lost the rush of emotions that i'd hoped would carry on till the very end.

And the amount of time and foreshadowing spent on hinting that Cassian wouldn't survive, that Amren wouldn't survive, that Azriel wouldn't survive, all this built up of tension just kept increasing and increasing and increasing but instead of a big sigh of relief at the end, it just hit a wall and dropped flat.
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And is anyone else seeing a trend in SJM's books? This paragraph has EoS spoilers so if you haven't read this book please skip this paragraph! In both ACOMAF and CoM Chaol/Rhys get captured and Celeana/Feyre save their asses in deadly fights and then that epic battle at the end of ACOWAR with all the allies coming in was a little too similar to the end of EoS where Aelin's allies arrived...I get that the end of EoS wasn't a battle but still..then the part where Feyre had to reforge the Cauldron-just like Aelin has to reforge the lock? And the similarities between Aelin and Rhysand? Both are always calculating one step ahead and keeping all their decisions secret from their friends. It did bother me a little.
*UPDATE* Thanks to Soudha in the comments i found another similarity-both the king of Hybern and the King of Adarlan have no names :3

Also one thing that made me gag a little. I am a Feysand shipper till the end! I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! But this quote went a little too far in my opinion.

"As much as i'd like to see you attempt to lick off a week's worth of dirt, sweat, and blood..."His eyes gleamed with the challenge, and i laughed again.
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No. Just no. This attempt at sexy feysand time just fell completely short. For some reason, i wasn't fangirling about Feysand moments except for the part where they reunited. And this i only realized after i finished the book-and i still don't understand why i wasn't fangirling as much as i was in ACOMAF.

OH OH WAIT I HAVE A THEORY!!!! So Feyre threw the book into the void right? WHAT IF THAT WAS THE WALKING DEAD FROM THE TOG SERIES!? AND IT'S WRITTEN IN WYRDMARKS

"But the gold was engraved with symbols only one being on this earth knew how to read, and she was gone. I hurled the damn thing into the void inside the Cauldron."

Also this reminded of the Eye Of Elena from ToG. 

"The Carver traced three overlapping, interlocked circles in the dirt." 

Was this a coincidence? Was SJM trying to make a connection to ToG? Or is it just a similarity like the others that she might not have known she was making.

I know a lot of people felt quite unfulfilled by the ending because there were so many unanswered questions but it didn't bother me at all because there is ACOTAR 4-just not with Feyre and Rhys as MCs.


TO CONCLUDE

So Queen Mass has left A LOT of open ended strings that could potentially turn into a new story! There are just so many unresolved things at the end i don't know in what direction the rest of the books will go. Maybe Lucian, Elain and Azriel? Maybe to the dark Master that turned the mortal queen into a firebird? Maybe Drakon and Myriam's story?

There's absolutely no question that SJM is a talented author with an amazing ability to create the most beautiful, complex and rich fantasy worlds. Her writing just keeps getting better with every book! This book had me on the edge of my sea, i was never ever bored and i love all these characters and the story so much! That's why this book is still a 5 star read!

Do i like it better than ACOMAF? Nope ACOMAF was much much better to me.
Was it still entertaining as hell? YAS WITHOUT A DOUBT.
Was it worth the year long wait spent agonising fangirling? *screeching halt* No i'm sorry as much as i loved this book, it didn't send me into a whirlwind of emotion that i'd expected and hoped for once i was done. Not like EoS which left me in a book slump. After ACOWAR i was like "omg it's really over someone hold me i'm gonna miss them" and a few hours later i stared reading something else. No book slump, no staring at the wall trying to process everything that happened.

Anyways these are just a few of my thoughts i thought i'd share :) Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

ALL THE STARS LEFT BEHIND ARC REVIEW

TITLE: All The Stars Left Behind
AUTHOR: Ashley Graham
SERIES: Maybe a sequel?
PUBLICATION DATE: June 6 2017
PUBLISHER: Entangled Teen
SOURCE: ARC from publisher



Relocating to Arctic Norway would put a freeze on anyone’s social life. For Leda Lindgren, with her crutches and a chip on her shoulder the size of her former Manhattan home, the frozen tundra is just as boring as it sounds. Until she meets her uncle’s gorgeous employee. 
Unfortunately, no matter how smoking hot the guy is, Roar comes with secrets as unnerving as his moving tattoos. And Leda doesn’t trust him.
Roar shouldn’t be drawn to the moody human girl with eyes that leave him weak in the knees. But when Leda gets shot by one of his enemies and survives, Roar finally understands why he’s drawn to her: Leda is exactly what he was sent to Earth to find. A weapon of immense power capable of saving his planet.
She just doesn’t know it yet.



Hi guys!!! First of all apologies for not posting in a while, things have been pretty hectic since this is my last month in Mauritius before i move to London! Can't wait to catch up with everyone's posts in the blogosphere ;)

Okay so basically things started to go a little downhill for me when we get hit with a bad, bad case of Insta-Love. Going through the book you start to question if it was really Insta-Love or a connection because she's the so-called weapon. But still it kind of threw me off...
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But i kept reading because the plot was intriguing!

 Roar was sent to Earth with three of his friends after his planet was being destroyed by an enemy alien race-the Woede-with the task of locating the weapon that could save their planet. But as time passes, desperation has taken its tole on the four aliens and with the humans breathing down their neck to "blend in", it's not long before they start to loose hope that they'll ever find the weapon. 

Leda on the other hand, has just lost her loving father and moved to live with her uncle, away from her mother who doesn't care for her at all. Being crippled. she gets quite defensive when someone tries to coddle her too much because she doesn't want to be seen as weak. 

I have to say, that i liked the side characters much more than Leda and Roar! I actually kind of liked Roar but Leda was a pretty "meh" character to me. I loved the individual personalities of the four aliens, you could tell the author really put in an effort to make all of her characters stand out! 

Kudos for making these book diverse with it's characters! The story itself was pretty action packed and though it could be predicable at times, we did have some pretty interesting twists! 
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If you can get past the Insta Love (ish) feels and really get into the story then it's a pretty cool read :)! 

MULAN DREAM CRATE!!!






Lootcrate is a monthly subsciption box featuring awesome anime/tv/gaming/pop culture merchandise for any fan! The Dream Crate idea is absolutely genius because Lootcrate is giving fans the opportunity to fans to create their own crate with no restrictions and is totally based on what they would like to have in a subscription box. So if you're a fangirl/fanboy or you're involved in a fandom, Dream Crate is definitely for you!

You can subscribe right here :P https://www.lootcrate.com/subscription-crates/gaming

Lootcrate inspired me to create my own Dream Crate! I was immediately ecstatic about this since i've never ever gotten a subscription box and i've always wanted one! Trying to find and stick to one theme was absolute hell because there were so many things i wanted to do but i settled on YA retellings!

The crates could range from Beauty and The Beast inspired to Mythology retellings! Loads and loads of YA books are based on retellings  and mythology so imagine a monthly crate with one myth/fairy tale featuring corresponding books, art, jewelry and maybe a candle? There could be a Beauty and the Beast one with ACOTAR merchandise, Anna Shoemaker's art, and a Cruel beauty book maybe? 

I was thinking for days and days about which character i wanted to feature in the box and i settled on Mulan. A few things have inspired this Mulan Crate-firstly the fact that i recently got an ARC of Flame in the Mist -one of the most anticipated YA reads of 2017 by Renée Ahdieh that's inspired by Mulan! After reading that book (You can find my review here) i just remembered how much i LOVED this other series by Sara B Larson which has a lot of Mulan inspired facts though it's not set in China! More details about those books below!

So the Mulan trend in this crate-it's inspired by YA books where the main character has to basically go undercover as a spy/hide as a man and hide her identity.

Books -  Defy series by Sara B. Larson and Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh. The books are pretty thin so they can fit in the box lol :P (Click the covers to get redirected to the Goodreads page).



           


These gorgeous sword earings!


    
                                                                                                                    








A Mulan Funko-Pop!





A tote bag inspired by Mulan from the Once Upon A Time series! (click the link to go to the shop)
 

This awesome mug with the MOST AWESOME quote ever!!!! (Click the link to go the shop).

Disney Mulan Quote Mug | Mushu Quote | Dishonor Quote | Disney Quote | Disney Funny Mug



That's it! Everyone is free to do their own Dream Crate!!! So come on bloggers make your own post and who knows it might actually get turned into an actual subscription box! Don't forget to share your post on twitter and tag Loot Crate so they can see your amazing creations! And as much as possible try and link back to any Dream Crate posts you saw on the net or appreciated from other bloggers so that everyone gets promoted as much as possible :)


So the rules are simple, choose a theme and make your crate! Be as imaginative as you want and make it as crazy as you want but try and make it ABOVE $50! There you go, enjoy and have fun :) Remember to drop down your links here if you decide to make your own post so we can all see it :)!


FLAME IN THE MIST ARC REVIEW

TITLE: Flame In The Mist
AUTHOR: Renée Ahdieh
SERIES: Flame In The Mist #1
PUBLICATION DATE: May 16 2017
PUBLISHER: Penguin
SOURCE: Netgalley ARC


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.




I requested this on Netgalley a few days ago and after a long day of watching television and stuffing myself with Easter chocolates i finally decide to check my mail. Seeing the mail from Netgalley i was just like-ugh probably got rejected. IMAGINE MY SURPRISE WHEN I WASN'T!!!! I still can't believe i got an ARC of this book-it's one of the most anticipated books of this year!!!! So a huge huge thanks to Penguin for this; it seriously made my week-but this in no way affects my review!

One thing that would be cool to clear up-this is not a Mulan retelling. Aside from the protagonist dressing up as a boy, a background of a war ridden Japan and the importance of honor permeating the whole book-that's where the similarities end!
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Mariko wasn't physically a warrior like Mulan but she was intellectually pretty smart and she kind of sets herself apart from her society because she's too curious. She tends to question things instead of just going along with them like women are expected to do. And unlike Mulan, dressing up as a man doesn't allow her to become a warrior like Mulan wanted to be but it just gets her the freedom which she craves . At least it's the first step to figuring out who she is without societal constraints. So while she went through an existentialist crisis at the beginning of the book i can really see her character start to take shape when she was given her freedom. She has  a super sharp mind and incredibly creative when it comes to custom weaponry!


"When Mariko had erred, it had usually been intentional. An attempt to push barriers. Or a desire to learn. Usually it was that. A wish to know more. As she grew from a curious child into an even more curious young woman, the word she most often overheard at her back was odd. Much too odd. Far too prone to asking questions.
Far too apt to linger in places she wasn’t meant to be.” 



Romance wise, going into this book i was absolutely terrified that a love triangle would erupt. And then i kept getting the feeling that a love triangle was gonna happen the more we got introduced to the characters  but thankfully it didn't! I think a love triangle would have totally ruined it so thank the YA gods the author didn't fall into that trap!

I'm not going to go too much in depth with who the love interest is cause it's better if you figure it out for yourself whenever you read it but he was awesome!!! The first few lines in which he was described was certainly...unique. But he is seriously amazing and his character develops from cold and untouchable to someone with a lot of vulnerabilities and secrets.

One of my favorite things in Ahdieh's books is her phenomenal word building! The World building was hands down absolutely FANTASTIC!!! It was a total immersion into the culture and the background down to the smallest details of food! Seriously spectacular!

I do wish we had a little more romance-i guess i was used to it from Wrath and the Dawn! Now this might make me totally crazy but i was imaging the whole book as an anime in my head-i watch way too much anime! And the fantasy elements weren't so prominent on this book so hopefully in book 2 we'll get more of that :P

I also have to mention that one of my favorite characters was Kenshin-Mariko's brother and the Dragon Of Kai. He was quite complex but from the very first chapter from his POV he was just oozing power and strength! And the mutual trust, love and dedication between Mariko and him was completely adorable! He never gave up on his sister no matter what anyone else said.

"Mariko was not dead. She was simply fighting a different kind of war. Though Kenshin had yet to understand her purpose, he believed in his younger sister. Supported her.
Just as he knew she believed in and supported him. They would always be there for each other. Whatever may come."

And the ending omigosh!!! There's just twist after twist after twist. I had to put my kindle down for a while after i finished and just process EVERYTHING.


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 And the villains in this book? Ahdieh will keep you guessing until the very last pages and then blow everything up with another twist!

  
Then there was the moment when there were no more pages to swipe on my kindle and i was so angry that i was glaring at my kindle like it could somehow magically make more pages appear.
*Me swearing at the ending*
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Whew once i calmed down and realized that it's not my kindle's fault i actually got around to writing a review :P Amazing side characters, amazing world building, amazing main characters, amazing plot and amazing setting! This book certainly lived up to all its hype!!!

What are your thoughts?? Have any of you read/planning to read this???