All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Mini Reviews {8}: What I’ve Been Reading Lately

on October 31, 2019

Flame In The Mist (Flame In The Mist #1)
Renee Ahdieh
Hodder & Stoughton
2017, 402p
Read from my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

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

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

This was chosen for my Mate-A-Thon participation, for the prompt read a title with the letters M A T E in the title. I’ve read one of Renee Ahdieh’s books before (although I haven’t read the second in that duology!). I actually spotted the sequel of this, Smoke In The Sun on the display shelf at my local library and it had such a lovely cover that I grabbed it and was able to find this one as well and it fit a prompt perfectly.

For the most part I enjoyed this but there were things that irritated me about it. Mariko is a privileged daughter on her way to be married to the son of the Emperor when her convoy is attacked and everyone except her is murdered. She decides to hunt them down, despite the fact she survived by accident rather than any real skill. And when she finds them they sort of kidnap her and pretend like they’re going to kill her but most of the time they’re just massive dicks to her and it got a bit annoying, when they were just tormenting her for the literal sake of it. She’s disguised as a boy so it’s all confusing when she starts having feelings for one of the Clan and in response he doesn’t feel as though he can trust her because there’s something about her/him that unnerves him blah blah. I actually couldn’t tell at first which of two characters she was supposed to be going to have feelings for but then she picks the most annoying one because of course.

But underneath these childish two bickering was an entertaining story. The world is interesting (I think it’s supposed to be kind of inspired by Mulan but I’ve never seen Mulan nor read any versions of it so I didn’t have feelings about that either way) and I liked some of the characters. I like Mariko when she wasn’t bickering with some of the Black Clan but she needed to take her own advice and not react so much. She keeps priding herself on being calm but she also keeps biting at every jibe that comes her way. I definitely want to see what happens – this book finished on a bit of a cliffhanger, probably the most interesting thing that happened all book and Mariko puts herself in an interesting position too. So I’m glad I already have the next one from the library so I can finish it off.

It was okay. Not amazing but certainly enough to keep me entertained for an afternoon.

7/10

Book #174 of 2019

Book #5 in my Mate-A-Thon Challenge.

We Hunt The Flame (Sands Of Arawiya #1)
Hafsah Faizal
Farrar Straus Giroux
2019, 469p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a world inspired by ancient Arabia.

I’d heard some really good things about this online and the cover drew me a couple of times when I was browsing in a local bookstore.

I picked it up a couple weeks ago and when I was looking for a book that might have a map for my Mate-A-Thon challenge, I figured I’d check this one and yep – there’s a map! So it became part of that challenge.

Not going to sugar coat it, this started off quite slow for me. In fact so slow that I actually put it down and basically fell asleep one afternoon – but it probably wasn’t all the book’s fault. I was lying in the sun and it was the first good spring day in a while, so it was a combination of things. I picked it back up again a couple hours later and it definitely picked up and the further into it, the more intrigued by the world and the happenings I became. It’s nothing terribly unique to be honest – it’s set in a world that mimics or is inspired by ancient Arabia, a world that used to possess magic. But a bit over 100 years ago, the six sisters that controlled? were the reason for magic? the power of? I’m not sure really, died. And now there’s no magic. The world is split into caliphates with a kind of overruling Sultan who is becoming more power hungry by the day – there’s also a weird creeping forest that’s covering the land. Zafira receives an invitation to go and retrieve some sort of book from some island that will help return magic to the world. She is one of the only people who can navigate the creeping forest and she hunts to provide for her village, despite the fact that women are not valued in such a way and are not supposed to do such things.

Zafira of course has special abilities, the devotion of her childhood friend and she also catches the attention of the man sent to make sure she succeeds in her task (and then he must kill her). At times it felt like there were a lot of things I’d read before but a lot of the rest of it was fresh and I appreciated the interesting setting. There’s a strange group of people basically thrown together (ah the reluctant allies, one of my favourites!) and at first there’s a lot of hostility and distrust but the further they get, the more they kind of grow on each other and bonds of loyalty are formed and strengthened. Things got really interesting probably the last third of the book or so and it’s definitely enough to make me want to pick up the next in the series, whenever it’s going to be released.

7/10

Book #177 of 2019


One response to “Mini Reviews {8}: What I’ve Been Reading Lately

  1. Very nice reviews. I lost interest in Flame in the Mist – no idea why. I really want to get to We Hunt the Flame though – that one really looks up my alley.

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