The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green- Blog Tour Review

thesmokethievesThe Smoke Thieves
By: Sally Green
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Viking

My Rating:
star

Summary:
A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict.

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?

My Thoughts:
I have been so excited about Sally Green’s newest book, The Smoke Thieves. That summary! The cover! I just knew I had to read it as soon as I could. I am so excited to be part of the blog tour and share my thoughts about this book with you.

This book was written with multiple point of views which really helped to get a great look at the cast of characters. We follow several characters on their journeys- I believe my favorite was Princess Catherine. I enjoyed seeing the world from her view. Her father was overbearing and thought very little of her. She was a pawn for him to use to strengthen his own reign. It was hard reading about how she was treated by him and even her brother. Her one bright spot was her relationship with her hand maids and Ambrose, her body guard. Like her, I clung to these little moments she could find of happiness. As the story progressed she really grew and found her voice. I am so excited to see where her character goes in the next book.

Tash was such a fun character- she was essentially demon bait. She helped lure demons into a trap where they are killed and their essence was captured. When they die they release a smoke that if captured and then inhaled by humans has drug-like effects. Her scenes had a lot of action and she was very mature for her age. I got the impression she was very young but her rough life had her dealing with far more than her age  group should be dealing with. Her dialog with her boss as well as her scenes were some of the most fun in the book- though I did feel that she was a tad less developed as some of the others. I’m hoping we get a lot more from her in the next book.

March was a hard one for me to really connect to. He was out for revenge after his people were virtually wiped out. I felt that his people as well as himself were a bit less delved into. I want to know much much more. I did like seeing him have to grapple with his feelings versus the goals he had set for himself.

With comparisons to Game of Thrones you will  expect a sweeping fantasy with a lot of characters, lands and motives. Don’t expect the level of violence you’d find in Game of Thrones but there was a lot going on and I imagine as the series continues the stakes will be raised and there will be a lot more political intrigue.

Final Thoughts:
The Smoke Thieves will give fantasy readers characters they will love and a world they’ll want to know more about. I loved that Green added demons into the mix- not often do we get them in books. I hope eventually we’ll learn more about why the demons are around and if they have thoughts, feelings and plans.

Blog Tour Review- Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

 unnamedI am SO excited to be participating in the blog tour for Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton. I love these books so much! Today I’m reviewing the last in the series. But first…

ABOUT THE BOOK:

HeroAtTheFall_JK.inddHero at the Fall
By: Alywn Hamilton
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Summary:
When gunslinging Amani Al’Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she’d join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn’t have a choice.

Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untameable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn’t exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.

AUTHOR BIO:

Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and lived between Canada, France, and Italy until the was three, when her family settled in the small French town of Beaune. She studied History of Art at King’s College, Cambridge, graduated in 2009, and lives in London.

MY THOUGHTS:

This book was a rather lengthy read but I sped through it in no time (a couple of days). I fell in love with the first book, Rebel of the Sands, and have been eagerly awaiting this finale. I had no clue where Hamilton would take and end the series and I’ve got to admit I was scared! Would the characters be ok? Would my ship sail?

Amani was just as awesome as always in this book. She has really grown as a character and you can feel the weight of her worries baring down on her shoulders. She makes really tough choices in this book (I was at the edge of my seat seeing what she would do). I loved that her actions had consequences. This book was full of action, suspense and heavy stakes.

What made it a faster read really were the characters. They all had such well developed personalities and their interactions with each other really is my favorite aspect of this series. The friendships are gorgeously rendered and upped the tension so much! How would they all make it out safely? And, of course, Amani and Jin. SIGH. I love these two so, so much. They really bring out the best in one another. I love having read how they have grown together as the books have progressed.

Another thing I LOVE- the setting! Each book adds more and more to this world and in this on we have a LAND SHIP sailing over the desert! I loved this part SO much. I mean, how often do we get to see that? The descriptions were all so vivid and it played out in my mind like a movie. Pure perfection really.

If you haven’t read these books DO SO SOON. Hero at the Fall releases March 6th so it is the perfect time to start these books (or reread or continue)

HERO AT THE FALL TOUR SCHEDULE

REBEL AT THE SANDS SCHEDULE
 
WEEK ONE
1/30 – Spinatale Reviews – Review
1/31 – Library Ladies – Review
2/1 – I Fangirl about books – Review
2/2 – Aimee, Always – Quote Wallpaper
 
WEEK TWO
2/5 – Opalsbookjems – Review
2/6 – Mundie Moms – Review
2/7 – As Told By Michelle – Review
 
TRAITOR TO THE THRONE SCHEDULE
 
WEEK THREE
2/12 – YA and Wine – Review
2/13 – Adventures of a Book Junkie – “5 Reasons to Read the Series”
2/14 – ReadingAnyone – Review
2/15 – The Clockwork Bibliophile – Booklook + Photo Feature
 
WEEK FOUR
2/20 – The Lovely Books – Review
2/21 – Never Too Many To Read – Creative
2/22 – Sisters Who Read – Creative Post
 
HERO AT THE FALL SCHEDULE
 
WEEK FIVE
2/26 – Writing is Hard – Review + Social Media Promo
2/27 – Mike the Fanboy – Fun Recap of Series
2/28 – My Friends are Fiction – Review
3/1 – The Young Folks – Review
3/2 – Lisa’s Lost in Lit – Creative
 
WEEK SIX
3/5 – The Reader Bee – Review + Bookstagram Post
3/6 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Review + Creative Insta Post
3/7 – A  Book and A Cup of Coffee – Playlist
3/8 – Fiction Fare – Moodboard
 
WEEK SEVEN
3/12 – The Eater of Books – Moodboard
3/13 – Love Is Not a Triangle – Review + Bookstagram Picture
3/14 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Creative Content
3/15 – Forever Young Adult – Review

Review of The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2) by Alison Goodman

thedarkdayspactThe Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2)
By: Alison Goodman
Release Date: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen to spend the summer season in Brighton so that he can train her new Reclaimer powers. However, the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work have taken hold, and his sanity is beginning to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are even higher for Helen as she struggles to become the warrior that everyone expects her to be.

My Thoughts:
I fell so deeply in love last year with The Dark Days Club I couldn’t wait for this sequel. The moment it showed up I dived into it and I wasn’t disappointed at all. Goodman is impeccable at coloring her world with historical accuracy and it allows for the reader to fully become immersed in the time period. The idea that she’s added a paranormal aspects into such a realistic storyline with such vivid characters and world is just perfection.

The characters- oh how I love each of them. Lady Helen is such an excellent character to follow the story with. We read from her point of view and I just love seeing how she views her world. She isn’t a perfect character by any means which allows her to be so relatable. I love her interactions with the supporting cast and her struggle to fully embrace her powers and role in the Dark Days Club.

My favorite character has to be Carlston. He’s so mysterious, likeable and just a touch of Darcy. I think he’s the perfect mix of these things and his stony façade has me itching to always learn that tiny bit more about what’s under the surface. His interactions with Lady Helen are my favorite parts of the book. I only wish he could have been in this book even more. I don’t think I can ever get enough of him.

As with the first book the beginning starts a tad slower paced with the author spending time on the setting, clothing and traditions of the time. I love how she slowly immerses the reader into everything before pulling the rug and sending you on a fantastic ride wrapped in action, intrigue and suspense. Prepare yourself for the last bit of the book- you’ll not want to put it down and once it ends you’ll be desperate for book 3.

tddpig

Final Thoughts:
Yes, this review is short but I can’t say enough about this series. If you are a fan of paranormal and/or historical you must pick these books up. The character chemistry, world, storyline- are all just perfect. These are by far some of my favorite books ever.

Review of The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller

TheForbiddenOrchidCoverThe Forbidden Orchid
By: Sharon Biggs Waller
Release Date: March 8th 2016
Publisher: Viking
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls’ father is a plant hunter, usually off adventuring through the jungles of China.

Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan fails to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid, meaning that he will be thrown into debtors’ prison and the girls will be sent to the orphanage or the poorhouse. Elodie’s father has one last chance to return to China, find the orchid, and save the family—and this time, thanks to an unforeseen twist of fate, Elodie is going with him. Elodie has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China.

But even if she can find the orchid, how can she find herself now that staid, responsible Elodie has seen how much the world has to offer?

My Thoughts:
This was the first book I’ve read by Sharon Biggs Waller and I went in with high expectations because of all the amazing things I’d heard about this author’s prior book, A Mad, Wicked Folly. Overall, I found this book to be an entertaining read and enjoyed the storyline and adventure. I did have some issues with the characters but I’ll get to that in a bit.

First, let’s talk about the things I did enjoy. The setting was lush and I felt the descriptions lent themselves to very clear imagery and helped progress the story for me. The novel was told in first person from the main character, Elodie’s, point of view. I really enjoyed that the novel’s progress was split into three sections, one in England, aboard a tea clipper and then the final, in China. My favorite section was the shortest, aboard the tea clipper. I felt that Waller did an exceptional job describing the boat and how it would feel to be Elodie traveling across the ocean for the first time.

Where I had issues with this book was in the character representations. I felt like they were all caricatures of themselves. It’s hard to explain but I’ll try…some of the characters felt like they played on a stereotype rather than on an in depth character. The two most obvious to me were Deacon Wainwright and Ching Lan. Wainwright was described and acted so much like Mr. Collins (of Pride and Prejudice) to me. He was bumbling, homely and sexually repressed. He seemed so typical of a clergyman it stood out to me. It wasn’t enough to really deter from the book but it was something I noticed.

As the story moved to China I noticed other characters feeling more stereotypical than well developed. I have zero knowledge of this time period or culture but certain things (language mostly) sort of felt…I don’t know, cliché? It’s hard to put my finger on it but it was bothersome for me personally. It left me feeling like more could have been done to bring something deeper to Ching Lan’s character rather than her exotic description, concubine plight or her expressions of ‘wah’ and ‘ai yah’ I felt there was an opportunity missed to create a well developed, diverse character.

My favorite character was Elodie’s father. I felt he was possibly the most interesting character of them all and I enjoyed that he had elements that made him not the greatest man or father. Elodie herself was a decent main character though at times her character did aggravate me with her naiveté. There are several examples of her making decisions I found to be incredibly frustrating such as trusting someone when she had every reason not to and wearing completely inappropriate clothing for where she was.

Those wondering about the romance- there was one (no triangle) and it was done fairly well. I was able to feel the character’s chemistry and I felt it was believable. I think most readers will enjoy the relationship and how it develops.

Final Thoughts:
Though The Forbidden Orchid had some strengths-certain weaknesses stood out so strongly I had trouble looking past them. I wished that the author would have taken the opportunity to create a better diverse character and also give her main character some worldly sense. I wonder if you read this book yet did these things trouble you? Am I alone?