Mirage–A Gem Among Political Space Romance

Genre: Young Adult Romance/Science-fiction32768520

Rating: 5/5

I have greatly been anticipating this book, especially after actually meeting Somaiya Daud while she was in conversation with Veronica Roth on The Fates Divide tour. Daud is an amazingly fun, friendly, exuberant person who also loves Star Wars. Mirage is her debut novel, and boy what a fantastic novel it is! I was already planning on buying it, having it pre-ordered since April 2018, but listening to Daud talk about the novel (not giving too much away, of course), I just couldn’t wait!

And I am still sold on this novel and am extremely excited to add it to my collection. I would like to thank NetGalley, Somaiya Daud, and Flatiron books for the opportunity to read this book in advance for an honest review. Did I mention I am definitely buying this book?

I love space novels and romance. Some of my favorites include These Broken Stars, Illuminae, and Zenith (among others), and this fits right in! When I first heard about this book, I was like “Huh, sounds somewhat like one of the subplots of Turn A Gundam,” which is likewise sci-fi. For those who don’t know, one of the plots in the anime involves a moon princess trading places with a girl on Earth who looks just like her. They do it for fun at first, then it becomes an act of political safety and scandal to keep the princess safe.

Mirage is similar in that eighteen-year-old Amani is taken from her home moon to its mother planet where the royal family lives. The planet was taken over by the Vath and aims to hold its power over the planet and its moons. Amani doesn’t know why she was taken from her home until she sees her own face reflected in that of Maram, the princess. Maram uses Amani as a political double, training her to be and act like Maram in every way so that Amani can be her body double for various events, in case of assassination attempts and the like.

In the process, Maram’s fiance, Idris, sees right through Amani’s guise. A romance buds between the two, but how far can they go without getting caught? And what happens to their relationship when it comes time for Maram and Idris to marry?

This novel is beautifully written and full of both romance and political intrigue. It’s a page-turner from start to finish. And…it appears there will be a second book (and a third?)! I am disappointed that I have to wait, but I am so excited that there is going to be more to Amani’s story and the world of Mirage by such a fantastic new writer in the world of young adult literature!

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War Storm (Red Queen #4)–Is It a Worthwhile Finale?

27188596Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Dystopian

Rating: 5/5

War Storm is the fourth and final major installment in Victoria Aveyard’s best selling Red Queen series. I was lucky enough to be at her publication party at Diesel, A Bookstore in Brentwood, where well over 100 people came to celebrate the release of this book, along with Victoria Aveyard in Conversation with Marie Lu. What an amazing event.

Nearly a month and a half later, I finally finish this 657 page beast that is War Storm.

More political and war/battle-filled over anything, the politics, strategies, and battles keep this novel fast-paced and full of constant action, which is generally always a good thing. Not only do Mare, Evangeline, and Iris return as leading ladies and perspective characters, but we finally get perspective chapters for both Cal and Maven (two chapters each). This shows Aveyard’s craft and ability as a writer by being able to take on these different perspectives and have these characters stand out from each other, and we can also see some of their reasons for doing things.

Some of my personal comments:

  • Iris is a SCARY lady
  • Evangeline is my favorite character (love her attitude and style)
  • I root for Cal

The ending is not quite what I imagined, and it is open in a way that there could be more short or side stories, or maybe even a little novella to show what some of the characters are doing in future. Overall, it is conclusive, and I feel that the ending is what it needed to be, whether it’s what I was expecting, or what I wanted, or not.

We, the reader, are taken all over the country in this book, and get to see different political sides to things and how different sets of people are living with this war going on. Montfort is very interesting, and we can blatantly see many political aspects in this novel that shout at what the U.S. is experiencing in 2018, something to help young readers look at and connect themselves with current issues through the reflections in the novel they read.

I don’t particularly want to give away any plot, so I leave you with this: War Storm is a fantastic read to match Red Queen. While Glass Sword and King’s Cage feel a bit droll, this wraps the series up nicely. I highly recommend finishing the series, even if you have been annoyed or frustrated with previous volumes, or picking up the series for the first time, to reach this final point. I also leave you with this promotional image from the publisher. Even after finishing the book, I still can’t figure out what some of these might be!

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P.S. A worthwhile finale!

The Door to the Lost–Should You Read It?

Image result for the door to the lostGenre: Children/Teen Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5

First of all, a huge thank you to NetGalley, Random House Children’s, and Jaleigh Johnson for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Jaleigh Johnson’s new novel for younger readers, The Door to the Lost, is an amazing gem among fantasy novels for younger readers. From what I can tell, it is a stand-alone, but there are potential opportunities for future adventures with the characters…maybe?

This book contains multiple worlds/dimensions, and in Talhaven, magic suddenly disappeared. In Vora, a magical war leads to the adult wizards sending their children to Talhaven. Hundreds of children find themselves in a world they don’t know with no memories of their names or families, but they all have different magical abilities. As these exiles learn to control and use their abilities, the people of Talhaven want to use them for their own needs, since the society that so heavily relies on magic can no longer replenish their own magical resources.

Since the children cannot remember their birth names, they each give themselves their own names, often based on their abilities. The main character of this story, Rook, is able to open gateways to any place in the world…just not to other worlds, like her homeland of Vora. But her doorways keep opening up to the same place against her best efforts, and she can’t seem to find out why. Her best friend, Drift, can use magic to fly, manipulating wind currents and air in various ways. The two aim to live a simple life in seclusion until two things happen: a giant magical Fox appears, and an adult wizard claiming to need their help to save the town the children temporarily occupy.

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I vastly enjoyed this book, and for 304 pages, it goes by in a flash! The story is told from Rook’s third person limited perspective, and her age resonates with a young adult. Readers both middle grade and high school will find enjoyment in the magic and adventure found in this book. It also deals with the thematic ideas of finding one’s own identity and what family means. A book that I would like to have in my classroom, this is a great read for a young adult audience.

Following Rook on her adventure was exhilarating, and despite the fact that this is definitely a conclusive volume, I wouldn’t mind seeing further adventures with these characters. Even if you are beyond the years of middle or high school, if you like a quick read and are a lover of fantasy, put this one on your list! This is a must-read book for all ages!

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1)-Should You Read It?

Image result for falling kingdomsGenre: Young Adult High Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes is the first book in a high fantasy series of the same name. This book has multiple perspective characters written in third person limited. Three kingdoms seemingly have peace: Auranos, the southern kingdom flourishing with game and crops, with two young princesses; Limeros, the northern kingdom covered in snow, but likewise flourishing; and Paelsia, a kingdom stuck in the middle, unable to access resources from its two bordering countries because the borders are guarded.

Cleo, younger princess of Auranos, finds herself venturing with her not-so-nice, soon-to-be fiance to Paelsia for some whine, his hot temper begins the entire conflict that drives the events of the novel. Always getting his way, he stabs an innocent man in the street, and all Cleo can do is stand by and watch.

Jonas is from a Paelsian family of wine sellers, and his brother has just been murdered in front of him. While Auranos may not think much of this murder, Paelsia will begin to gather forces and unite with Limeros against the Auranos king.

In Limeros, a whole different expanse of events is going on. Magnus is the prince, and his father is known as the King of Blood. Magnus finds that he is slowly following in his father’s footsteps, especially when he is asked to capture Cleo, and his blade tastes blood for the first time on that journey. Meanwhile, his sister, Lucia, finds that she is gaining magical abilities. The book starts with a girl being taken from her crib by a witch, and Lucia is the prophesied girl who will help reshape the world, and her “father” aims to use her as a tool. Oh, and let’s not forget that Magnus is in love with her, but she can’t see him beyond being a brother!

The original murder of Jonas’s brother has sparked an entire war, the first battle of which someone will definitely win by the end of the book, but which country will it be? And what will the losing side do to fix things?

This book definitely has a bit of a Game of Thrones feel to it, but on a more accessible level for a teen audience. There are a lot of elements I didn’t mention either, such as the Watchers, people who live beyond the plane of mortality and can only appear in the form of animals (hawks only, I think?). They are waiting for something, but what could it be? And Why? This book also has a beautiful writing style and a structure that takes the reader through a different character perspective every chapter. Albeit third person limited, the reader still gets a really good look inside the character’s heads. The character development is superb, and I expect even more from the next book.

This book is fast-paced, exciting, fun, full of risks, blood, princes and princesses, broken hears, and malice. I would recommend it for not only a teen audience, but anyone who finds enjoyment out of high fantasy that has well crafted plot, characters, settings, and unique world-building. Oh, and let’s not forget the magic! This is definitely one of the better fantasy novels I have read in quite some time, and I am already itching to read the next one! Let’s just say…I went out and bought the whole series after reading this book–that’s the promise the Falling Kindoms series shows!

The Shield Breaker (Book One in the Enclave Saga)–Should You Read It?

Image result for the shield breaker enclave sagaGenre: Young Adult Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

First and foremost, I would like to thank NetGalley and the author, Scott Beckman, for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

One of the fun thing about this book was that it was sent directly to my Kindle, and I can take notes on it. Some of the concepts and ideas were a bit hard to follow at first, but were explained later, so I am going to write about some of the things I noticed about this book full of magic. But first…

This book is about Cait, a girl who lives in a post-apocalyptic world in which magic was its downfall. Now there are a few wizards, but magic is so dangerous, wizards need to be trained and kept in check. When Cait finds a book of magic, she teaches herself with the guidance of a spectral wizard against the wishes of her own city’s guiding wizard.

Vitoria, the guiding wizard of Denver, finds that Cait’s meddling with another wizard is dangerous and that she should not meddle with this outsider again. This other wizard tells Cait all of these horror stories about Vitoria. But who is telling the truth? Who should she choose to guide her magic training? Who can be believed?

With only the Shield to protect the city from the devastation of the outside world, Cait has some serious choices to make.

One of the main aspects of this novel is that the main city’s name is Denver. I don’t recall the book ever explicitly saying that it is the same Denver we know in Colorado, but perhaps this is a potential future to our society where magic becomes prominent and deadly. The other thing it reminded me of was The Maze Runner series’ The Death Cure and how the main city is Denver. Why is Denver such a popular place for post-apocalyptic settings? Another thing that actually reminded me of The Maze Runner series were these creatures called vorazi, described in a way that is reminiscent of Cranks, but later we learn even more about these creatures that separates them from that type of “undead,” as it were.

In this world, technology once used to be a prominent thing. Now generators are run by magic from the few wizards living in the city. People live in tends strewn about as various communities. Cancer is as real as ever. And there are different types of wizards. Some can see through the eyes of animals while others can control minds.

I find Cait to be a pretty interesting character, although her internal conflict doesn’t seem too strong about some of the choices she makes. When a friend tells on her, she seems to be mad for too short a time. With this in mind, the end leaves room for some fun character and relationship development, as well as opening up to a longer adventure for Cait, so that will be fun to read.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it pretty fast compared to some other books I have picked up recently. It’s not too complicated, and things get explained more than once, which seems warranted for some of the more complex ideas that might not stick in the reader’s head right away. I would definitely recommend this for readers 12-18 (or anyone who loves a good story about magics and wizards in a post-apocalyptic world), and I find that the next book will be even more fast-paced and exciting than the first!

Scythe-Should You Read It?

Image result for scythe shustermanGenre: Young Adult Fiction/Almost Dystopian?

Rating: 5/5

While the world of Scythe is set in a far future society, the world is almost like one giant utopia. Almost.

Citra and Rowan have grown up in a society hundreds of years beyond the Age of Mortality. Science and medicine have come so far as to be able to revive a person from things such as jumping off buildings (known as “splatting” in this world), a knife to the heart, and even beheading! The only thing that people cannot be revived from is a flaming death–the remains are too far gone to be able to revive.

People grow up with nanites withing their bodies, little machines that can emit pain killers, balance one’s fat ratio, and control one’s emotions, making every human perfect in terms of peace.

In this society where people can no longer die, murder isn’t even a contemplation. It just doesn’t exist. But the population of humanity could reach a high point, and then the entire world would be in poverty, running out of resources. That’s where the Scythedom comes in. The Scythedom is an organization that ordains people–called scythes–to select people at random to glean (their society’s word for kill), for population control and peace. There are only a number of scythes per region in the world, and they are responsible for gleaning a certain number of people every year, a quota to meet to keep the population in check in a world of immortality. How a scythe selects their target, their meathods of gleaning (weapon of choice), and where are completely up to them as long as they follow the ten commandments of the Scythedom. Scythes cannot kill based on any form of bias, such as race, gender, of popularity. Their selections should be random.

Citra meets Scythe Faraday when he visits her home for dinner only to glean her next door neighbor. Rowan meets Scythe Faraday when he comes to a school to glean a student. The two show traits that would make a good scythe: schythes shouldn’t want to be a scythe, shouldn’t enjoy killing.

Faraday takes the two on as apprentices, but a scythe who enjoys killing and wants to change the Scythedom for the worse, claims he shouldn’t have two apprentices. Now Citra and Rowan must both strive to be selected as a scythe, but only one can get the scythe ring. And their first act will be to glean the loser.

First and foremost, you should read this book! It is an utterly amazing and unique take on population control as well as future technology and what people can do with it. It also has a number of controversial issues regarding some of the ways people are killed, especially Scythe Goddard’s methods which involve mass gleanings–reflecting all too well the events of society today. A book that can highlight these issues is important to bring forth discussions, especially in young people. This book is recommended for readers age 12 and up for these reasons.

One of the other things I really like about this book is that it has reading group discussion questions and activities–both of which can be applied to fit the needs of a classroom. As an educator, I see an exponential amount of promise in this book and using it in the classroom. Because of the questions and activities–which can be easily adapted for any grade level 7-12–this book can be easily made into a current events unit because of how much it reflects many of today’s controversies. I also think students should have more of a variety in what they are required to read at school, rather than just the “great literary canon,” because some of those ideas might not fit with a certain generation of students, although many elements can still be applied today. It’s important to find something that relates to student passions, and students today follow current events now more than ever before, once again making this a viable book to bring into the classroom.

 

Dragon’s Epitaph: Slayer–Sneak Peek!

syreniaCheck out Mullin Publishing’s Dragon’s Epitaph page to see a first look at upcoming YA fantasy novel Dragon’s Epitaph: Slayer! Learn about one of the perspective characters, Syrenia.

You can also read the prologue of the book as an available PDF excerpt, and look forward to another excerpt from chapter one coming later in the summer! More art coming throughout the summer.

Let us know what you think so far in the comments! Enjoy!

~Mullin Publishing~