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Ups and Downs: The Flame in the Mist by Kitt Grindstaff

Welcome back BookTasty Friends!

I’ve been working pretty hard to get caught up with my book reviews, because as of now I’m still a month or two behind! *GASP* I just read so much faster than I can write a review, which isn’t really a problem! haha

Today’s review is for fantasy read, The Flame in the Mist by Kitt Grindstaff.

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Set in an imagined past, this dark fantasy-adventure is for fans of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass and features Jemma, a fiery-headed heroine held captive in Agromond Castle, yet destined to save mist-shrouded Anglavia.

Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaffand lies behind her life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy—all these reveal the truth about Jemma’s past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia.

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Fantasy is most definitely my favorite genre. I just love the idea of different worlds where magic is the norm! Because so many of my favorite books are fantasy, so I was excited to pick up The Flame in the Mist. In the end this book had it’s ups and downs. I didn’t love it, nor did I totally hate it either.

First of all the pacing of Jemma’s story is pretty slow, which was a struggle for me because the book is well over 400 pages (which makes for a long audibook!). It’s not that I don’t have the attention span for slowish story-lines, but Jemma makes two perilously long journeys that just felt like they dragged on and on at times. These journeys were necessary and many significant events occurred on them both, but I found myself thinking that the story could have been condensed a bit to make it seem less sluggish.

Jemma is one of those characters that are, from the beginning, pretty easy to cheer for. Her life has been full of so many secrets and betrayals relating to her detestable family that the reader turns every page with the hope that the Agromonds will get what’s coming to them. Although Jemma is easy to root for however, she isn’t that multifaceted a character, which makes the cast of secondary characters all the more exciting because they all (mostly) are surprisingly complex, especially some of Jemma’s family members. In fact, I believe that one of this book’s strongest qualities is it’s characters. Also, let’s not forget about Jemma’s two sidekick rats, Noodle and Pie – I loved them!

The Flame in the Mist is definitely a middle grades fantasy novel, but will appeal to older fantasy lovers as well. As with most fantasy novels magic is a common theme in this story, but there are times where I wonder if some of the said magic is too dark and creepy for younger middle school readers. Although this wasn’t the best fantasy I’ve read, it was still a fun audiobook to listen to and it kept me entertained.

Author: Kitt Grindstaff

Publisher:  Delacorte Press (April 9, 2013)

Format: Audiobook (Listening Library)

Length: 13 hours and 29 minutes

Narrator(s): Rosalyn Landor

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG/YA

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Young Elites

Hi!

I hope you’re having a good week so far. If you haven’t made time to read a good book yet, what are you waiting for?! Get on it!

This week for Waiting on Wednesday I’m showcasing The Young Elites by Marie Lu.

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Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness The Young Elites by Marie Luswept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

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My husband and I listened to Lu’s Legend trilogy on audiobook together and really, really liked it. So, because I am always a fan of fantasy, and Marie Lu has a great track record so far, I have high hopes for this new fantasy series! The Young Elites is scheduled to release in October 2014, so I only have a few short months to wait!

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Waiting on Wednesday: Stitching Snow

Hiya!

For this week’s upcoming new release let’s talk about Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis!

Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewisassuming she wants to return at all. Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

Guys!

It’s a sci-fi retelling of Snow White! WHAT! WHAT!

Seriously, I’m incredibly interested in reading this one since I always enjoy a fairy tale retelling! Also, this computer chip inspired cover is pretty darn awesome! I am a little nervous that its going to be a lot like Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, but I don’t want to assume that it will be. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get the change to read Stitching Snow in October 2014 when it is scheduled to release! That’s not too long of a wait is it?

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Not As Strong As I Hoped: The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Hi there!

This weekend the Husband and I are spending a little mini break in Savannah for a few days! Yay for cool historic towns that are close by! After that we’ll be headed to Florida to visit family and friends for a week. It’s going to be so hot, but fun!

Today let’s talk about conclusions to trilogies…one trilogy in particular, the Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Recently I finished The Shadow Throne, which is the third and final book in this middle grades fantasy series.

One war. Too many deadly battles. Can a king save his kingdom, when his own survival seemsThe Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen unlikely?

War has come to Carthya. It knocks at every door and window in the land. And when Jaron learns that King Vargan of Avenia has kidnapped Imogen in a plot to bring Carthya to its knees, Jaron knows it is up to him to embark on a daring rescue mission. But everything that can go wrong does. His friends are flung far and wide across Carthya and its neighbouring lands. In a last-ditch effort to stave off what looks to be a devastating loss for the kingdom, Jaron undertakes what may be his last journey to save everything and everyone he loves. But even with his lightning-quick wit, Jaron cannot forestall the terrible danger that descends on him and his country. Along the way, will he lose what matters most? And in the end, who will sit on Carthya’s throne?

If you’ve read my reviews for the first two books (The False Prince and The Runaway King) you’ll know that I was a huge fan of the first book, but was disappointed in the second. Well, good news! I liked The Shadow Throne more than book two, but not as much as the first. The only thing that really kept me from loving this third book is the repetitive nature of the storyline. Jaron, the stubborn one, completely ignores everyone’s advice and get’s himself stuck in an impossible situation only to do something over the top to escape. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jaron and I love these characters, but after a while this plot line makes me roll my eyes a little.

Now, there is a major plot point that occurs right at the beginning of the book that had me reeling! I can’t say what it is only that I literally (yes I’m using this word correctly) had to go back and reread those pages more than one time to see if I had read it correctly! Oh! It’s a good twist that will trip you up!

Regarding the characters, Jaron has matured a lot since book one (despite his ever-persisting stubbornness) and we see this primarily in the way he has learned to accept help from his friends…for the most part. Also, we see growth in the supporting characters like Tobias standing up for his gifts and passions, while at the same time Roden realizes that he has strong leadership capabilities and figures out how to harness them for good.

Although The Shadow Throne was not as strong as I had hoped it would be, it was a fine conclusion and fans of the first two books will enjoy finding out what becomes of Carthya and these characters.

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Publisher: Scholastic Press (February 25, 2014)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 317 pages

Series: Third book in the Ascendance Trilogy

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book:

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Storyspinner

Hi!

Today I’m at Epcot…with a whole bunch of excited 6th graders!

I’m also waiting on a pretty cool sounding book called The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace!

In a world where dukThe Storyspinner by Becky Wallacees plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. All Johanna Von Arlo wants to do is become a Storyspinner. But her options are so limited that she is forced to work for the aggravating and handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. While in his employ, Johanna is exposed to a dangerous game of thrones, a game where she will discover that the magically inclined Keepers from her stories might be real after all.

The Keepers are searching for an heir to a great power and the key to saving their land. They aren’t alone in their hunt. Girls matching the heir’s description are turning up dead all over the kingdom. Girls who look exactly like Johanna.

I’m definitely not a huge fan of the cover, but the summary sounds pretty interesting and you know I am always in the mood for a quality fantasy! The Storyspinner will be supposedly be hitting bookstores in March 2015, so we have until then to wonder if it’s as interesting of a read as it sounds!

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Glass Sentence

Welcome back!

I’ve been in the mood to read more middle grades fiction recently, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that for this week’s Waiting on Wednesday post I’m focusing on the upcoming middle grades fantasy  The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove.

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It is Boston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grovegenerations, have been traveling and mapping the New World—a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods.  Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. Life with her brilliant, absent-minded, adored uncle has taught Sophia to take care of herself.

Then Shadrack is kidnapped. And Sophia, who has rarely been outside of Boston, is the only one who can search for him. Together with Theo, a refugee from the West, she travels over rough terrain and uncharted ocean, encounters pirates and traders, and relies on a combination of Shadrack’s maps, common sense, and her own slantwise powers of observation. But even as Sophia and Theo try to save Shadrack’s life, they are in danger of losing their own.

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I am completely intrigued by the premise of this book!  The whole idea of each continent experiencing a different time period sounds utterly cool, I can’t handle it. I have a feeling this could totally be a Doctor Who plot! Luckily, the advance reviews on Goodreads are really positive, so I’m hoping that when The Glass Sentence (which is supposed to be the first book in a trilogy) on June 12 (only a few short days away!) I’ll be able to get my hands on a copy and see for myself!

What books are you waiting for this week?

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Waiting on Wednesday: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Hi there!

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine. It’s set aside as a time to celebrate upcoming new releases that I’m excited about. This week, I’m looking forward to Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the third installment in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterI read the first book, The Raven Boys, in the series and really, really enjoyed it! I was pleasantly surprised by how unique it was among all the other supernatural fiction out there. But then I read The Dream Thieves, the second book in the series, and had issues. Maybe it was just the wrong time for me to read it or something, but we just didn’t mesh. It took me forever to finish it. With that said, I’m definitely interested in Blue Lily, Lily Blue because I’m wondering how the rest of the series will go. I really, really want it to be as good as the first book…I want to love it!

I can’t find a summary anywhere online, so I guess Stiefvater hasn’t released it yet. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for it, but I do know that Blue Lily, Lily Blue is scheduled to be released this coming October.  I’m excited to see how this one goes!

What book are you waiting on this week?

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Mortal Heart

Welcome back BookTasty friends!

I hope you’re all having a stress-free week so far! For today’s Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine) post I chose to focus on Robin Mortal Heart by Robin LaFeversLaFever’s third book in the His Fair Assassin series, Mortal Heart.

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has.

The first two books in this series are both really, really well written books that will hook you from the beginning. I adore the idea of medieval assassin nuns and LaFevers’ characters are just so captivating! I have enjoyed getting little tidbits about Annith in both Gave Mercy and Dark Triumph, so I’m excited to learn more about her story. I am wondering how she’ll fair as she attempts to be an assassin because she just seems so innocent and sweet compared to Ismae and Sybella!

I’ll have to ask for Mortal Heart for my birthday because it is scheduled to release in early November 2014, and my birthday is November 13. *hint hint nudge nudge*

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The Much Dreaded Curse: The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Hola!

Books about kingdoms and royalty are kinda up my ally. Duh. I love them! So, it’s no surprise that I’m a fan of Jennifer A. Nielsen’s Ascendance trilogy!  Today we’re focusing book two, The Runaway King.

Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly Runaway King by Jennifer A. Neilsensituation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

The Runaway King is the second book in the Ascendance Trilogy and although still a fun read, it’s pretty clear that this installment has fallen slightly into the much dreaded “second book curse”. Did it live up to the first book? No. Was it still fun? Yes!

I think a huge part of the weakness of this book is in Jaron’s character himself and the lack of world building. Jaron/Sage is so awesomely awesome in book one – he is this snarky, secretive, competitive, stubborn and loyal boy who’s daring sarcasm kept me entertained the whole time.  In The Runaway King, it seems a little like Jaron is a bit overshadowed by the plot. There is so much going on that it’s like Jaron has forgotten to be his witty self…or, rather, Nielsen forgot to write him that way. It is almost like she wrote him so well in The False Prince, that she felt like she could take a break. Jaron is there, but he’s kind of like a much dimmer, more muted version of himself.

Since most of this story takes place out in Jaron’s kingdom of Carthya and the surrounding areas, I was really hoping to explore the region in more detail. I wanted more information about the culture of his people and how the kingdom looked. Expect for a few tiny details, there really wasn’t much to sink your teeth into. Nothing to truly make you care about Carthya. Honestly, Carthya could be any random fictional kingdom – it just doesn’t seem to have a personality of its own.

Okay, so I did say the story was still fun and it really was. All of my favorite characters were back. Yes, Imogen, Mott, Amarinda, Tobias are all back by Jaron’s side and we even see those I dislike…such as Conner for example.  It’s interesting that while Jaron’s personality seems to fade into the background a little, his supporting characters all glow a little brighter in this book, especially Imogen and Amarinda. Plus, we’re introduced to pirates! Pirates are always cool!  Also we have a lot of buildup to a cliffhanger ending, which of course always makes you crave the next book no matter what!

So, while I was slightly disappointed in The Runaway King, I did still enjoy it in the end and you might too.

Author: Jennifer Nielsen

Publisher: Scholastic Press (March 1, 2013)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 331 pages

Series: Second in The Ascendance trilogy

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: The Runaway King: Book 2 of the Ascendance Trilogy

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Won’t Let You Down: The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen

Welcome back friends!

Sometimes I read a book, love it, and go on with my life only later realizing that I never reviewed it! What?! How can this be?! Especially when it’s a book I truly enjoyed. I have to admit that The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen accidentally fell between the cracks of my review schedule. OOPS!

The False Prince by Jennifer A NielsenIn a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

There is nothing about this book I didn’t like. It has everything readers are looking for in a quality read. A snarky main character, a kingdom on the bring of civil war, deception, political intrigue, romance and a plot twist that is so awesome it makes you freak out!

ExcitedLet’s start with that snarky main character. Sage is hilarious and just fall for his defiant, witty, street urchin persona right off the bat! Sage is definitely not a romantic hero, in my opinion anyway. Instead he’s kind of like the little brother who keeps on doing annoying things but you just have to love him anyway. You want him to stick around because he just keeps things interesting.

When we meet Sage, we discover, as he does, that the kingdom of Carthya is on the brink of civil war. Multiple kingdoms are threatening to take over and it seems that there isn’t anyone who truly wants what is best for the people of Carthya. But that’s just it, with the royal family poisoned, who will take over the throne?  Political intrigue and deception abound! Nielsen just writes this so well that you never really seem to know who to trust.

Plus there is romance brewing between a quiet, pretty housemaid and our beloved street urchin. The friendship and romance that comes here is just so innocent and sweet. It is definitely not a super steamy romance with Sage as the teen heartthrob because…guys…remember this is a middle grades novel! This romance is so perfectly endearing and full of friendship that it just makes you smile warmly on the inside.

Okay, so I mentioned the awesome plot twist. And that’s all I’m going to mention. Because we no like spoilers! But just know if you’re looking for a fun middle grades read that will appeal to both boy and girl readers than The False Prince is a strong pick that will not let you down!

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Publisher: Scholastic Press (April 1, 2012)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 342 pages

Series: First book in the Ascendance Trilogy

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: The False Prince: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy