An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir

January 31, 2016
Book Review, An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir, InToriLex, An Ember in the Ashes #1
Published By: Razorbill  
Format Read: Kindle Edition (453 pages)
Genre: Young Adult/ Fantasy/ Romance/ Dystopia
Series: Book One of the Amber in the Ashes
Source: Purchased  
Rating: FOUR POINT FIVE STARS
An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)
Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.


Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

REVIEW:

I tend to shy away from Young Adult Fantasy, but this rocked my socks off. I understand why there are mixed reviews about this book. But it worked for me because it had just the right amount of brutality and unique elements to balance out some common Young Adult tropes. This was fantasy done well. Although the characters Laia and Elias both start off skeptical about the supernatural, they quickly learn the world has so much more to teach them. Laia was not always a likable character to me, but her courage and will as the book went along out shined her naivety. Elias struggles against knowing the right thing to do, and having the strength to do it.
“I'd rather die than live with no mercy, no honor, no soul.”
The plot moved along well, the surprising relationships and society relations, made me very curious about whats to come. The Tribes, the culture, the Augurs, the training and the fighting all work together to develop a world that is imaginative and full of possibilities. Laia and Elias are both trying hard to navigate hard choices and deal with loss in their own way. The Commandant is a harsh and broken character who serves as a powerful reminder of how unforgiving and unfair the world can be. There were some times where rape and violence disturbed me in it's casualness, but the hope that kept the characters going kept me engaged and reading more. There is complex romantic feelings between Elias and his best friend Helene, Elias and Laia, and Laia and Keenan, a member of the reistance. The hard trials they go through keep them from ever being able to fully explore their feelings, but it's still developed well.
“There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”
The only thing that is keeping this from being a five star book for me is that I wanted a bit more world building. I would recommend this to everyone, there is something here for readers of all ages. I enjoyed the diversity here and the changing points of view flowed together seamlessly. I haven't read much fantasy set in a middle eastern setting, but this was a great glimpse into that place even though it was fiction. There is enough complexity with the characters, supernatural elements and ruling class to keep the series exploring new and interesting relationships and situations along the way.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

8 comments

Sex Criminals, Vol 1: One Weird Trick (Sex Criminals) by Matt Fraction (Writer), Chip Zdarksky (Artist)

January 28, 2016
Sex Criminals, Vol 1: One Weird Trick, Sex Criminals, Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarksky, Writer, Artist, Comic, Graphic-Novel, Book Review, InToriLex
FIVE STARS
Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick
~Amazon~  

SYNOPSIS:

Suzie’s just a regular gal with an irregular gift: when she has sex, she stops time. One day she meets Jon and it turns out he has the same ability. And sooner or later they get around to using their gifts to do what we’d ALL do: rob a couple banks. A bawdy and brazen sex comedy for comics begins here!

REVIEW:

Honest, funny and memorable. It's easy to call any comic that addresses sex unapologetically vulgar, but the vulgarity here is the point. Too many adults hold these fears and secrets about their sex lives, as if almost all human being aren't actively having sex or trying to have sex all the time. Suzie is able to harness her orgasm into an actual super power. But she's also had to deal with the loss of her father and detachment of her mother. We all have our own demons, and Suzie discusses hers aware of how it's seen as a inconvenience, promising that the humors coming soon.

Jon appears as the dreamy counterpart of Suzie, but he too shares that he struggles with being himself. The honest discussion of what it's like to have a mental illness and the costs of numbing through medication as a solution was refreshing. Together these too in these first five issues open up to each other, about pain but use comedy as a salve to bind it together into a worthwhile and fun read.


Using sex to stop time, opens up a world of possibilities and I can't wait to see how the creators of the comic will explore this. The artworks is really good, and the humor is familiar enough that you feel like a friends telling you a joke. There's also a great musical scene that the creators had to edit and censor but find a way to do it, while still conveying the intent. I would recommend this to all adult comic lovers, who are looking for a funny and refreshing glimpse into the human experience, with some bonus sex.
4 comments

Fairest:Levana's Story (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

January 25, 2016

Fairest: Levana's Story, The Lunar Chronicles #3.5, Marissa Meyer
FOUR STARS
Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)
~Amazon~
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?


Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

REVIEW:

"Only Levana- too young and ugly to matter- would go on living in her sister's shadow until she faded away and everyone forgot that she'd ever been there to begin with."
This was a fascinating glimpse into a broken and very lost girl's mind. Levana learns very quickly that no one can be trusted, and that her wants and desires should come before anybody elses. The result is a woman who can't ever find peace within herself, who really believes that through her power as Queen, she will win the entire universes affection. The author shows the desperate, violent and horrible steps that Levana is willing to take in her quest to be Queen. Levana is her own worst enemy because she cannot see past what she wants, even when faced with reality, her go to is to get rid of the problem instead of dealing with it.
Fairest:Levana's Story, The Lunar Chronicles #3.5, Marissa Meyer, Book Review, InToriLex

This is wonderful required reading for fans of the series and adds depth to a character we have only seen as a one dimensional villain. Leavana is truly crazy, her sister showed her that selfishness and seeking your desires at all cost was not only ok, but a reasonable way to live. The author did a great job of making me feel just a bit sympathetic towards someone who had little chance to be normal or whole from the beginning. I would recommend this because it gives a lot of background about why Levana is so power hungry and the level of evil Cinder has to face with the help of her friends. I'm really looking forward to reading Winter soon.
"Love is a conquest! Love is a war!"
My Other Reviews for the Series:
Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)
Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2)
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)
Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


I live in Tacoma, Washington, with my fiancé and our two cats. In addition to my slight obsession with books and writing, I'm big on road-tripping, wine-tasting, and hunting for antiques. I'm represented by Jill Grinberg.
4 comments

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

January 22, 2016
Orleans, Sherri L. Smith, Book Review, InToriLex
FIVE STARS!!!
Orleans
~Amazon~

SYNOPSIS:

First came the storms.
Then came the Fever.
And the Wall.


After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.

Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.

Sherri L. Smith delivers an expertly crafted story about a fierce heroine whose powerful voice and firm determination will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

REVIEW:

Jon Guillaume, Funeral March, InToriLex, Book Review, Orleans, Sherri L. Smith
This book showed me the power of a great story, I'm inspired. I started this book unsure what I was getting into it, because a dystopian in a destroyed Orleans, divided by blood, is a mountain for an author to tackle. However after losing myself in the main character Fen, it has more than exceeded my expectations. Fen is a determined protagonist who never stops moving and finds a way to escape death and destruction over and over again. She uses a simple dialect, that allows her to move throughout the Delta, but she knows French, Patois, Chinese and is teaching herself Spanish. The book slowly uncovers more and more about what makes Fen who she is, and what she has coped with in her past. 
"In the early days before the sky got so angry at the sea and went to war, there was a piece of land between them, and they called her New Orleans. She was a beautiful place, a city that sparkled like diamonds, sang like songbirds and danced a two step to stop men's hearts."
Daniel is a scientist who is ill prepared for what the Orleans is and who occupies it. When he joins up with Fen, their relationship becomes better as they trust and rely on each other. Since most people in Orleans are sick, starving, and clamoring for resources, friendship is a fragile thing grown from necessity. There is really powerful interactions, symbolism and experiences that Fen faces, but she has accepted life as it is fighting hard to not waste her life feeling sorry for herself. The plot moves well, and the contrasting point of views between Daniel and Fen are seamless and compelling. The author succeeds at making Orleans itself a character who reaches out and interacts with the reader.
"What is one human day in the life of a ecosystem? Nothing. And still we cannot see."
 I would recommend this to everyone, as a interesting glimpse into Orleans gone bad, and the different ways a virus could effect how we cope and band together. I enjoy speculative fiction, this was special, in it like in real life not everything is fair or happy. The author did a great job of balancing character development and plot. Fen and her journey for survival will stay with me for a long time.
4 comments

Book Scoop January 15-January 22 2016

4 comments

Lupans:Tek Hunters #1 by Tay Harris, Illustrations by Fariza Dzatalin

January 18, 2016
Book Review, Comic, Lupans:Tek Hunters #1, Tay Harris, Fariza Dzatalin, InToriLex
THREE POINT FIVE STARS
~Amazon~

SYNOPSIS:

Tek Hunters is a fantasy graphic novel series based on a world struggling to start over. Giant monsters and roaming gangs of punks have left only a few villages surviving. Junkyards of ancient technology litter the region as monuments of the past. Only a few actually collecting and trying to use the old parts and pieces. 

Milo is a nomad roaming around in search of his older brother. Split up when their village was wiped out by a gang of punks, he hasn't seen his brother since. Milo and his little buddy Neeko are currently searching a junkyard for a new weapon or something else valuable to help survive their travels.

Lily and Mae are on a scavenging mission looking for more pieces for another one of Lily’s inventions to help defend her town. Her companion Mae is a POWER, one of few who can use magic.

REVIEW:

This is a great launching board for what's to come. In this first issue we're given some introductions about the Lupans and the world they live in. When the characters are introduced their levels and powers are described. The level element shows me that the series can go alot of ways in terms of characters and adventures. We learn that some Lupan's can use magic and not all of the Monsters are harmful like Neeko, Milo's companion. Lily is a very smart character who will provide ingenuity, while Milo seems like a brave and compassionate counterpart.


Book Review, Comic, Lupans:Tek Hunters #1, Tay Harris, Fariza Dzatalin, InToriLex
The illustrations are great, they are well drawn and immerse the reader well into this world. This is the first installment of a self-published comic, so I'm cognizant of the challenges that may bring. I wish there was a bit more of the great illustrations used, but I'm sure as the comic grows the creator will be able to pour more resources into this.

I would recommend this for young adult readers who enjoy Fantasy and are looking for a taste of adventure. All of the characters and elements introduced in this issue, hint of great potential, and much more to learn about the Lupans and the monsters that they face.

This e-copy was provided to me in exchange for a honest review.
0 comments

Free of Malice by Liz Lazarus

January 16, 2016
Book Review, Liz Lazarus, Free of Malice, InToriLex
FOUR STARS
Free of Malice
~Amazon~

SYNOPSIS:

Laura Holland awakes in the middle of the night to see a stranger standing in her bedroom doorway. She manages to defend herself from the would-be rapist, though he threatens to return as he retreats. Traumatized with recurring nightmares, Laura seeks therapy and is exposed to a unique treatment called EMDR. She also seeks self-protection— buying a gun against the wishes of her husband. When Laura learns she could have gone to prison had she shot her fleeing assailant, she decides to write a hypothetical legal case using the details of that night. She enlists the help of criminal defense lawyer, Thomas Bennett, who proves to be well versed in the justice system but has an uncanny resemblance to her attacker. As the two work together to develop the story, Laura’s discomfort escalates particularly when Thomas seems to know more about that night than he should. Reality and fiction soon merge as her real life drama begins to mirror the fiction she’s trying to create. 

REVIEW: 

This book has wonderful suspense and an accurate portrayal of the legal system which kept me intrigued the whole way through. The main character Laura has to deal with the aftermath of a horrible attack, she tries to keep it together while controlling her fear. Barbara was her therapist, the included  notes from their session, gave me useful insight into the kind of thinking and behavior that was abnormal. This was a great contrast because the story is told from Laura's point of view most of the time.

The author has clearly done her research about how the legal system works, the legal explanations and descriptions ring true with my own experience as a lawyer. As Laura learned about her hypothetical trial, I kept thinking over and over about how most people should learn what's it's like to be charged and tried for a crime. The author also did a really job with character development, so good that I was disappointed that I didn't get more explanation about their lives. The book includes a great song called "Let Me Breathe" that you can listen to by scanning the QR code included in the text of the book. This brought a unique element to the book, I appreciate when authors take risks that add layers to the reading experience.

The ending surprised me and left me curious about the other character's who weren't as fleshed out. The only downfall of the book for me is that I didn't have a emotional connection to the main character. I would recommend this to any reader with a interest in thrillers, you will definitely enjoy what you learn along the way.

This book was provided to me by the Author in exchange for an honest review. 
2 comments

The Cheese Pirates: Cheddar Island by Christina Lewis

January 12, 2016
Book Review, The Cheese Pirates: Cheddar Island, Christina Lewis, InToriLex
FOUR STARS
The Cheese Pirates: Cheddar Island

SYNOPSIS:

To save a seamouse from certain death, Pepper Jack would leap down a sea monster’s throat. But endangering an entire crew and disobeying his captain’s orders gets him thrown out of the West Tillamook Trading Company. His career is over – until the WTTC desperately needs a hero.

Merchant galleons with rich cargos of cheese and root beer never return from the dreaded Ghost Lagoon. Seamice desert the docks in droves. Leading a brave crew against the PiRats’ black fleet, Pepper Jack has one chance to defeat Tillamook Bay’s greatest adversary – and one last chance at redemption.

REVIEW: 

I really enjoyed this novel. The characters names made me want cheese and their was enough of a conflict and character development for older and younger readers alike. The story is about mice  who have to fight back to save their livelihood and their way of life. They rely on the transportation and sale of Cheese and Root Beer to other mice by the sea. Pepper Jack is a brave and memorable character who knows how to lead, while taking risks in pursuit of some adventure.

The PiRats are a fierce enemy who greedily want to take and destroy the West Tillamook Trading Company. The pirates accents and descriptions made me feel like I was in the midst of great pirate story. While reading at times I did forget that these were mice, but the squeaks and reference to paws helped me keep that in perspective. The pacing and twists of the story kept me engaged and I finished wanting to know more about these mice, their pets and use of rabbits as transport.

The only reason why this wasn't a five star review for me is because of some reservations I had about the descriptions of the Bleu mice. Pepper Jack and his crew encounter Bleu mice which are described as speaking a different language and they use broken speech to communicate in Pepper Jack's language. The Bleu mice were described with a casual disregard to how difference should be valued, which may not be the best message for young readers. Despite this, I still would recommend this for middle aged children as a fun Cheese filled adventure.

I received a free copy of this book from the Author in exchange for a honest review.
4 comments

The Ultimate Book Blogger Scavenger Hunt Giveaway

January 10, 2016
Ultimate Book Blogger Scavenger Hunt, InToriLex, Giveaway

Each blogger in the lineup has a post set up for the event. Their post will include a keyword that is highlighted in the bulk of the post. So keep your eyes open for that highlighted word! That keyword will be your entry for the giveaway! At the end of each post, there will be a list of the other bloggers that are participating and you can just follow the links to enter some of their giveaways as well! All giveaways end on January 31st, 2016, so you better get on it! 

For this Giveaway I wanted to give Tea related things, because I love to drink tea while reading.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,  is one of the books that sparked my interest and later obsession with books. So I thought it would only be right to include something Alice related for the first Giveaway for this Blog!!

First: I'm Going to Giveaway This Awesome Alice and Wonderland Pocket Watch Necklace!! (US ONLY)

Sold by the Umbrella Laboratory on Amazon!!!
If for any reason this becomes unavailable before the Giveaway ends, the winner will be able to choose a different necklace from the shop sold on Amazon.


Second I'm Giving Away this  Mug Warmer From Amazon, for those Tea and Coffee addicted readers!! I have one and it's a great way to take your time and enjoy your hot beverage of choice while reading!! (US ONLY)


Don't forget to check out the other bloggers participating in the event and join their giveaways!
Bloggers Participating
Alex @ The Book's Buzz 
Talina @ Sassy and Dangerous 
Claire @ Cover to Cover
Cody @ Literary-ly Obsessed

Enter Through The Raffle Copter Below!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
10 comments

The Marauders by Tom Cooper

January 3, 2016
Book Review, InToriLex, Tom Cooper, The Marauders
FOUR STARS
The Marauders
~Amazon~

SYNOPSIS:

When the BP oil spill devastates the Gulf coast, those who made a living by shrimping find themselves in dire straits. For the oddballs and lowlifes who inhabit the sleepy, working class bayou town of Jeannette,  these desperate circumstances serve as the catalyst that pushes them to enact whatever risky schemes they can dream up to reverse their fortunes. At the center of it all is Gus Lindquist, a pill-addicted, one armed treasure hunter obsessed with finding the lost treasure of pirate Jean Lafitte. His quest brings him into contact with a wide array of memorable characters, ranging from a couple of small time criminal potheads prone to hysterical banter, to the smooth-talking Oil company middleman out to bamboozle his own mother, to some drug smuggling psychopath twins, to a young man estranged from his father since his mother died in Hurricane Katrina. As the story progresses, these characters find themselves on a collision course with each other, and as the tension and action ramp up, it becomes clear that not all of them will survive these events.

REVIEW:

Book Review, InToriLex


I started this book not knowing what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised with this snapshot in time through the Barataria.  The characters were flawed and relateable, all of them coping with hard times and using what they have to make it through. The atmosphere described and the dialogue driven prose, made me feel more like someone was telling me a long story. I enjoyed every word. There's so much said in between words when you talk to your parent or someone you love. Mr. Cooper did a great job describing real, troubled relationships through what was left unsaid. 
"Nobody's dreams are interesting, except to themselves."
The pacing was great, and I never felt like I was reading filler, This was a well though out and executed novel. There was suspense surrounding what would happen, but not an actual mystery that reaches a conclusion, The plot was a device used to tease out what made these characters push through not so great lives. I wanted the plot to be more developed and some details to be nicely wrapped up, but the characters were the bright-spot throughout. 

There is a bit of magical realism described, and I really wanted to learn more about how that worked in the small town. Although maybe the mystery behind it and surrounding it was apart of the story, I found myself immersed in the trawlers life and Linquist's journey to find something to hope for. I did wish there was more female character development and emotional impact, which my rating reflects. I recommend this to anyone who wants to read a unique novel that will enlighten you about the people of Louisiana, after the oil spill painfully rebuilding. 

I received this book from BloggingforBooks in exchange for a honest review.
4 comments
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