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text 2017-06-12 06:41
Stop Misassigning The Original Stories in Retellings
Romancing the Throne - Nadine Jolie Cour... Romancing the Throne - Nadine Jolie Courtney
Flame in the Mist - Renee Ahdieh

Hello everyone! I've been away for a long time dealing with my personal life. I normally only post book reviews and musings here, which is why even though I've been blogging on my main blog for a few weeks now, nothing's been posted here, because I've only been doing memes and tags for that, and I'm still not reading anything. But here's a musing I feel pretty strongly about and I wonder if anyone else cares as much as I do?

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review 2017-05-29 19:25
Terrible book.
Flame in the Mist - Renee Ahdieh

A story inspired by the story of 'Mulan' set in feudal Japan? I'm intrigued. 


When I read about the premise of the book I knew I had to read it. I had not been thrilled with the author's previous work 'The Wrath and the Dawn' (I didn't read the second book of that duology) but I thought I'd give author Ahdieh another go. This seemed like such a neat concept and I thought maybe she'd improve with another book.


Not so much. Young Mariko is on her way to her arrangement marriage when her convoy is attacked by the Black Clan, an obviously evil group of evildoers who are there to do evil. In order to survive Mariko disguises herself as a young man and infiltrates the Black Clan, to learn their ways and to seek vengeance. But as she trains with them, gets into personality conflicts with them and gets to know them, Mariko finds that her mission is not as easy as she thought it would be.


Meanwhile Mariko's twin brother Kenshin believes his sister cannot be dead and goes on the hunt to find his twin.


Much to my disappointment I did not know that this was another duology (I think when I first read about the book there was no hint that it would be but it's clear by the ending that it is). And then everything all goes downhill from there. The same problems that were present in Ahdieh's work seemed to pop up here again.


She's just not a very good writer. The concepts and stories she wants to tell sound really interesting. And this book began (like 'Wrath') with a good bang: in this case it opens with Mariko's convoy and the attack. Then the story just drags and drags. None of the characters are particularly interesting or stand out (I had trouble telling who was who in the Black Clan). Mariko is a poor substitute for Mulan.


Which gets into other points. When I first heard about it I felt somewhat uneasy by putting the story of Mulan (which is a Chinese one) reset in feudal Japan but wanted to give it a chance. I cannot speak to the historical accuracy of the setting, the story usage, etc. but there are several reviews that point out errors on those topics. There are also several comments about the problems of a young woman disguising herself as a young man from LGBT reviewers/perspective and how it's handled by the author. That is also something I cannot speak to but would urge readers to at least keep that in mind or seek out those reviews.


I loved the idea when I first read about it and thought it could have worked but Ahdieh most definitely wasn't the author for it.  I wouldn't recommend this book at all, unfortunately and will be skipping her future books.

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review 2017-05-26 16:05
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
The Wrath and the Dawn - Renee Ahdieh

Full disclaimer I bought this on a whim because I thought the cover was pretty. I honestly didn't know much about it, but I had seen it a lot online. This was a couple of years ago so when I decided to pick it up the other day I went in remembering really nothing about it. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It was a good way to really get back into reading. I finished it in nearly a day because I was just so intrigued by the story. 

I really loved the entire premise of the book because it was so different from anything else I've read from what I remember. I immediately wanted to know what exactly was going on with Khalid. It was just so fascinating. I enjoyed the depth the character had and I really enjoyed how Shazi didn't immediately think that everything was ok after she unlocked his Tragic Backstory. 

Truthfully I didn't like Shazi at the beginning. I understood her motives, but I don't get why she started telling Khalid a story her first night. I feel like it was risky and how could she have known that it would work. It just seemed odd to me even though I enjoyed the stories. After awhile her character did grow on me because she's very headstrong and people respect her for that. 

I really loved the story and the characters, but the book wasn't without flaws. The romance between Shazi and Khalid was classic insta love. Honestly I'm surprised I didn't have an issue with it. I usually can't stand it when books have this, but I was able to look past it because after it happened the story was just so good. It kept me wanting more to the point where I didn't want to put it down. 

I can't wait to read the next book in the series because the end of this one left me wanting more.

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review 2017-05-08 18:31
Review: Flame in the Mist
Flame in the Mist - Renee Ahdieh

I wound up with two review copies of this one. I first put in a Netgalley request which I figured was a long shot, and when I didn’t hear anything back in months, I used some of my Penguin First to Read points to secure a copy when it popped up on their read to review site. And then when I’m half way through the book my Netgalley request was approved. Oh well.


I don’t really know what to make of the novel in the end. I gave it a generous 3 stars, but it’s more like two and a half. While I can appreciate the journey of inner strength from the main character, Mariko, I didn’t actually like her all that much. I found the first 100 pages or so incredibly boring. The novel is beautifully written, the scenery is fantastic and the descriptions are vivid and lyrical. The fantasy setting in a Japanese world is fascinating. All marks of a fantasy I should love.


But personally, I just could not get into the plot. I found Mariko almost aloof, I didn’t get much of a sense of personality from her at all. I couldn’t connect with her character in a way that would make me as a reader care about what happened to her.


That being said, as the novel progressed, the plot did get better and Mariko did show some pretty impressive growth and strength. She’s definitely intelligent and determined, you have to give her that. On the way to her politically arranged marriage her carriage party is attacked by a notorious mercenary group the Black Clan. Mariko survives the attack and doesn’t cower in fear. She’s furious and decides she wants to know the reasons behind. Disguising herself as a boy, she follows the Black Clan and worms her way in.


Back in her home province, Mariko’s twin brother Kenshin, is convinced she survived the assassination attempt. Other plots include devious goings on between the Emperor and his Mistress who seems to have some hint at dark dangerous magic and her own political agenda. The Empress who seems quite passive but there’s more to her than meets the eye. The Emperor’s legitimate son (Mariko’s intended) and the illegitimate son with their own squabbles. And while all this is going on Mariko in the guise of a boy is uncovering the inner secrets of the Black Clan.


Of course there are lots of plot twists and everyone has secrets of their own. Mariko uncovers some shocking truths about the lands she came from and how her lord father runs them, and must decide where her true loyalties lie. There’s a romance agenda as well for Mariko when the truth about her identity is revealed. There are secrets within the Black Clan itself.


The plot did improve as the novel goes on and starts getting more into the twisty secrets, there’s a barest hint of some sort of magic involved, but very little of it is explained. Though it’s enough to make the reader want to know more (or it certainly worked that way for me). While Mariko was a difficult character to warm to, her journey throughout the novel is impressive, even with a kind of predictable romance, I want to know what happens next.


Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.


Thank you to Penguin First to Read.

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review 2017-05-03 02:11
Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
Flame in the Mist - Renee Ahdieh

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this book. I went into it not really knowing what to expect. I hadn't read anything by Renée Ahdieh before this book but had heard great things about her work. I saw so many comparisons of this book to Mulan that I was a little fearful that this would just be a rehashing of a very familiar story. I had no reason to worry since this was really a very original story. This was one of those books that I found myself thinking about during the times that I couldn't read.

Mariko is on her way to be married when her entourage is attacked. She is able to escape to safety but she has no idea how long she will be able to remain safe. She decides to dress as a boy and find the group that tried to kill her. She does find them and is eventually taken back to their camp. Things start out hard at the camp and she is treated as a prisoner. Eventually, she earns some trust and gets to know some of the members of the group.

The way this story was written really just pulled me in. Everything flowed so perfectly and the pacing was well done. I liked this author's voice a lot. It seemed that the words all came together almost magically to create a story that was beautiful and entertaining. There are a lot of really exciting scenes that are offset by others that are more thoughtful.

The characters were amazing. Mariko is smart and determined. She learns a lot of really hard truths over the course of this story and is able to accept them and decide how to proceed with her life. Okami was a bit of a mystery which I really liked. He was obviously drawn to Mariko almost immediately and I liked the tension between them. They had some really great banter that was a lot of fun.

I would highly recommend this book to others. This is a really great start to a new and exciting series. I seriously did not want it to end and can't wait to find out what happens next!

I received an advance reader edition of this book from G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers via First to Read.

Initial Thoughts
I liked this one a lot. I really wasn't ready to end. What happens next? I need to know!

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