BLACKPLUME

lover of written words

Ruined by Amy Tintera

Ruined

“Make people fear you… Stop worrying about what you don’t have and start focusing on what you do. Make people tremble when they hear your name. Fear is your power.”

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Ruined is a strong start to a new fantasy series by Amy Tintera. It introduces a world where people with especial abilities or power called Ruined are hunted and killed to extinction by neighboring Kingdoms, Lera and Vallos. Emelina Flores is one of the Ruined and she wants revenge.

All Emelina’s loved ones are taken from her – her parents were killed, her sister Olivia was kidnapped and taken as a prisoner, her country is being destroyed, and her people are hunted one by one. She has nothing left but a goal to make her enemies pay. With an elaborate plan of deceit and lies Emelina will do everything to achieve her revenge. Her plan — she will pose as the Prince’s betrothed, while trying to get information about her sister and free her, and then kill the whole Royal family of Lera.

The story is well plotted that ensures readers to keep turning pages after pages. There are more than enough of plot arcs and twists to get lost into. Between waiting for Emelina’s identity to be revealed, her plans of killing the Royal family, her relationship to Cas, saving her sister, helping her people without them knowing, and her alliance to the other Kingdom there’s so many things going on and many are at stakes.

People dies, trust broken, sacrifices are made in this powerful story of revenge.

Amy Tintera introduces Emelina Flores to readers as the cold-blooded heroine. Just few pages from the start readers will find Emelina killing a Princess so she can take the Princess’ place as the Prince’s betrothed. From there Emelina will remove every obstacle on her path to get her revenge and have her sister back. She’s not exactly ruthless but she is non-apologetic. She is very determined and will do anything to survive. For someone who doesn’t have powers like her own people, Emelina is pretty skillful. She does what she can with what she has.

Prince Casimir started as a sheltered and naive Prince. He is unaware of how his father is ruling their Kingdom. But when he met Emelina with her unfiltered opinions and thoughts, Cas then started to see things differently and begin to questioned his father and the way they treat the Ruined.

The ending won’t exactly leave readers hanging over the edge of a steep cliff, but will surely want to know more what’s next to Emelina Flores, her sister Olivia, her people, and her Prince. It actually promise a darker story and leaves a foreboding remarks for readers to eagerly anticipate the next installment.

The only mild complaint with this book is the world building or the lack of it. For fantasy book, I really like when I can easily picture the world or surroundings where the story is set up. I do get that there are four Kingdoms in this book — Ruina, Lera, Vallos and Olso but the relation of these Kingdoms to each other and their actual land positions are pretty vague. Also, the reasons of why Lera and Vallos are targeting Ruina, and the Ruined powers wasn’t explored that much. Let’s just hope that Amy Tintera will tackle all those and more in the next installment.

All in all, Ruined is a fast-paced, thrilling, and riveting story. With lies, secrets, betrayal, murder and well written action scenes this new fantasy series by Amy Tintera will surely keep readers hooked from start to end.

* This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.

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Book Tour: Invision by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Features & Giveaway)

So thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Invision, the seventh installment of Chronicles of Nick by best selling author, Sherrilyn Kenyon. As part of the tour, I get to share with all of you a short excerpt from the book and the video trailer.

Also, there’s a fabulous giveaway hosted by the publisher where you got a chance to win signed copies of all the books from The Chronicles of Nick. Yes! that’s correct, 7 signed books of Sherrilyn Kenyon and the best part, there are seven sets that are up for grabs, which means more chance of winning!

But before all that here’s a little more info about INVISION

ABOUT THE BOOK

INVISION COVERBook Details:

Title: Invision
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: May 02, 2016
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover, eBooks

Think you have a lot of pressure on your shoulders? Nick Gautier was born to bring about the end of the world . . . it’s not easy being the heir of a demon overlord.

But Nick is determined to thwart his destiny and get into a good college. To be more than his genetics and prophecy foretell. No one is ever going to tell this stubborn Cajun who and what he really is. Or how to live his life.

Not even the Fates of the Universe. But now that he and his team of ancient gods and demons have claimed the Eye of Ananke and he sees the missteps of the future, he has to battle the demons within that are far deadlier and more treacherous than any he’s battled before. All the while his arch nemesis is back and determined to reclaim his place as the harbinger for Armageddon. Even if it means killing Nick and barbecuing everyone he loves to do so.

Book Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK, INVISION

Hanging his head, he pushed his chair back to face her. “What do you want me to say, Kode? You saw what I did. It’s hopeless. I’m going to end this world. Whether it’s tomorrow or a thousand years from now. I’m going to lose it all. Break bad and tear humanity apart. . . . Don’t matter what we do. Whatever we try. We just delay the inevitable outcome. So I’m going to sit here with my eats. And just . . .” he let his voice trail off as the full horror of his future played through his mind for the five millionth time.

He was the end of everything.
Everyone.
All he loved.
The entire world would one day fall to Nick’s army of demons.

Yeah, there was something to put on his college applications. That ought to have schools lining up to accept him. Who wouldn’t want that as their alumnus? We have graduated senators, presidents, movers-and-shakers, and the Malachai demon who ate the world whole…

It was the one reality Nick wanted to deny and couldn’t. Everything eventually came back to that one inescapable fact he wanted to runaway from and couldn’t.
I’m only sixteen. Too young to deal with this crap.

He was supposed to be worried about his grades. About keeping his girl happy. Staying out of trouble. His mom finding his friend’s porn magazines stashed in his room. Getting to work on time. Making curfew.

Not hellgates and demons coming for the throats of his family and friends.
Definitely not about the fact that his birthright was to bring on the destruction of all humanity.

BOOK TRAILER

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sherrilyn KenyonNew York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon is a regular in the #1 spot. This extraordinary bestseller continues to top every genre in which she writes. With more than 40 million copies of her books in print in more than one hundred countries, her current series include The Dark-Hunters, The League, and Chronicles of Nick. Her Chronicles of Nick and Dark-Hunter series are soon to be major motion pictures.

Find Sherrilyn

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Signed copies of THE CHRONICLES OF NICK!

To enter

Click the photo below to be redirected to the giveaway hosted by the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin

 

Invision Blog Tour Header for Bloggers

Good Luck!!!

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Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine von Radics

Mouthful of Forevers

“The poems never judge me for healing wrong.”

Titled after the poem that burned up on Tumblr and has inspired wedding vows, paintings, songs, YouTube videos, and even tattoos among its fans, Mouthful of Forevers brings the first substantial collection of this gifted young poet’s work to the public.

Clementine von Radics writes of love, loss, and the uncertainties and beauties of life with a ravishing poetic voice and piercing bravura that speak directly not only to the sensibility of her generation, but to anyone who has ever been young.

Personal Thoughts:

I’m not sharing my own poetry composition today, instead I’ll be sharing my thoughts about the latest poetry book I read, Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine von Radics. This book is actually part of my required reading for this month as it was picked by Precious for our literary reading challenged this year. It is not a literary book but since April is National Poetry Month, we made an exception of adding a poetry book in our list.

To be honest, I didn’t even know that this book exist, if not for Precious Mouthful of Forevers is totally out of my radar. For someone who write poetry, I don’t really read published poetry books. Though I have read few contemporary fictions written in verse or those that has poetries in them such as Sarah Tregay’s Love and Leftovers and Fan Art, and Colleen Hoover’s Slammed series, I rarely pick-up poetry books. There are only few poetry titles you will find from my shelves and most of them are gifted to me.

Anyway, Mouthful of Forevers is the first poetry book I am reviewing here on the blog. I’m not sure if I know how to do review for poetry books nor if I am qualified to write one. Even if I do write poetry and appreciate verses and lines I’m not sure how to critique them. They are not fiction where I can point out the plot’s details or issues, character developments, or the writing style, poetry is more sophisticated and personal. It has more layers and depth that can be interpreted in hundreds of ways but still may not equal to the authors own meaning or interpretation.

So instead of interpreting Mouthful of Forevers or try to explain the poetry inside it, I will just discuss my experience in reading Clementine von Radics poems.

As someone who write poems, I know that poetries are form of expression. That’s what it is for me most of the time. It’s my way of expressing my self and my thoughts. With that, poems for me should at least show the writer’s emotions/feelings and thoughts. Poems doesn’t need to be relate-able but it is best if the verses are affecting the readers. If I can feel the writer’s thoughts, hear his voice, picture a story in my mind, and affect me with his words then I can say that his poetry is a good piece of writing.

In Mouthful of Forevers, I can easily picture Clementine words and thoughts but for some reason I can’t hear her voice. I’m not pertaining to the actual sound of her voice of course, all I’m saying is I cannot picture the author in her writings. I cannot reached unto her no matter how hard I tried. Maybe she’s a teenager or at least young adult based from the entries, but did I feel her words like a soul pouring her feelings and emotions to the pages of this book? Sadly no. Is that too much to ask for poetry book? Probably yes but I still prefer my poetry reads affecting.

I even do a reread hoping that the second time will finally give me idea what Clementine wants to express in this collection. But in the end, I still don’t feel her in her writings. I cannot tap to her thoughts and feelings like I normally experience when I read good poetry. And sadly, I didn’t feel her words like real emotions to experience.

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Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Sword and Verse

“What might happen if writing were a shared endeavor, meant to connect people instead of being hoarded as a tool of power and privilege.”

Raisa was only a child when she was kidnapped and enslaved in Qilara. Forced to serve in the palace of the King, she’s endured hunger, abuse, and the harrowing fear of discovery. Everyone knows that Raisa is Arnath, but not that she is a Learned One, a part of an Arnath group educated in higher order symbols. In Qilara, this language is so fiercely protected that only the King, the Prince, and Tutors are allowed to know it. So when the current Tutor-in-training is executed for sharing the guarded language with slaves and Raisa is chosen to replace her, Raisa knows that, although she may have a privileged position among slaves, any slipup could mean death.

That would be challenging enough, but training alongside Prince Mati could be her real undoing. And when a romance blossoms between them, she’s suddenly filled with a dangerous hope for something she never before thought possible: more. Then she’s approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slaves—to help liberate the Arnath people. Joining the Resistance could mean freeing her people…but she’d also be aiding in the war against her beloved, an honorable man she knows wants to help the slaves.

Working against the one she loves—and a palace full of deadly political renegades—has some heady consequences. As Raisa struggles with what’s right, she unwittingly uncovers a secret that the Qilarites have long since buried…one that, unlocked, could bring the current world order to its knees.

And Raisa is the one holding the key.

Personal Thoughts:

Being a lover of written words Kathy MacMillan’s debut novel instantly piqued my interest from the blurb alone. Imagine a world where literacy are reserved only for the most elite people. Where reading and writing are not easily accessible. I don’t think I want to live in a world like that but a story set in it has its intrigue.

Sword and Verse introduced us to Raisa and her world. Raisa belongs to the lower class of Qilara – a nation where literacy is for the higher class only. When the tutor-in-training to the Royal family is executed for treason, Raisa was chosen as a replacement. Together with Prince Mati, she got the privileged to learn not just to read and write but also know the very highest order of language and the language of the Gods.

But learning how to read and write nor having the chance to spend time with the Prince doesn’t changed her status as a slave. She still belong to the lower class and the Resistance wants her help to get their freedom back. But Raisa’s relationships with the Prince complicate her stance. Between her people and love, which side she will choose?

What I really love about Sword and Verse is the central theme of the book – how important knowledge is or in this case – literacy. For me, knowledge or information is one of the things that should be shared or given freely. No one should hold information in tight fist, especially the knowledge of learning such as reading and writing. Sharing knowledge can accomplish many things and it will benefit a lot more.

As for the the writing, Sword and Verse is a triumph for a debut novel. Kathy MacMillan clearly knows what she is doing in her first book. Her writing style is easily accessible, her characters are realistically drawn, and her world is uniquely setup and vividly sketch.

The mythology before each chapter is very intriguing. It reminds me so much of one of my favorite series The Thief by Megan Whalen-Turner. Though in here, the mythology started as own stories that eventually blended to Raisa and Mati’s world. The way Kathy MacMillan intertwined those two worlds is simply outstanding. She crafted the mythology with enough intrigue and details. At first, it so easy for readers to take the mythology as a different entity, giving only brief anecdotes at the beginning of each chapters, but as the story progress, readers will see how Kathy MacMillan mirrored the story of Gods and Goddess to Raisa and Mati’s world which eventually resulted to a more exciting and thrilling combination.

The intricate writing system is impressive. I’m sure lovers of language/words and writings will surely appreciate this part. The reader in me surely does. The way Kathy MacMillan described the scripts, symbols, languages of the Gods, and the written words in this tale is detailed, making the scenes so vivid. Sometimes I imagined Raisa and Mati in a calligraphy or lettering class doing all the symbols meticulously described by Kathy MacMillan. I almost see the letters and words in my mind like floating symbols.

All in all, Sword and Verse is a gorgeously drawn fantasy that will surely captivate readers from start to end. Kathy MacMillan blends fantasy, mythology, and romance beautifully creating an imaginative, exciting, and satisfying read.

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The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

The Smell of Other People's Houses

“We don’t have to be blood to be family.”

In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.

Four very different lives are about to become entangled.

Personal Thoughts:

The Smell of Other People’s Houses is surprisingly absorbing read. It’s a powerful story that offers a truly unique reading experience with it’s melancholic and quiet tales of life’s hardships and uncertainties.

The title alone, piqued my interest to read this book, it has this metaphorical vibe in it, that I feel like there’s a real interesting story behind that title, which just makes me want to discover the real deal. And after reading the book, I finally see how Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock match the smell of houses to her characters and their stories. Because the smell of houses tell so much more about the people living inside it.

The Smell of Other People’s Houses is told from multiple point of views – Ruth, Dora, Alyce, and Hank, these four characters who are experiencing life’s difficulties and hardships. Each of them has their own story to tell, which means readers can actually read each part as one whole story but at the same time Hitchcock also intertwined their stories into one, creating a more powerful tale.

“I remember my dad saying that sometimes you can be inserted into another person’s life just by witnessing something you were never really supposed to be a part of.”

Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock writing style is uniquely atmospheric. I’m sure I haven’t encounter something like it before. At first, I don’t know what to expect, the first chapter kinda throw me unexpectedly but once I get the hang of the writing style, I get to appreciate the uniqueness of it. Hitchcock descriptions of 1970 Alaska is easy to imagine and the life of her characters are vividly described. So vivid that I can easily feel their struggles, hopes, and dreams. That sometimes I wish there’s something I can do for them to feel more better. And the way Hitchcock tied all those characters together is simply impressive.

All in all, The Smell of Other’s People Houses is a unique addition to young adult genre. With sympathetic characters, atmospheric settings, and writing format that offers a unique reading experience this debut novel from Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock deserves to be experience and appreciated. It’s haunting, heart-wrenching, and more importantly beautifully crafted.

* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children via NetGalley.

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Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Legacy of Kings

“Weakness, he has learned, isn’t in the arm or the leg or the back. Weakness is in the mind.”

Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to a newcomer…

Katerina must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But she doesn’t account for her first love…

Jacob will go to unthinkable lengths to win Katerina, even if it means having to compete for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince.

And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet betrothed, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the shocking details of real history, New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known, Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

Personal Thoughts:

Historical fiction is always a tricky read for me simply because I cannot disregard some facts about where the story is based which makes reading full of comparisons instead of just enjoying a new tale.

Legacy of Kings though fiction with added fantasy is actually based from real person, Alexander The Great. I don’t have much knowledge about Alexander the Great except for those details I got from my history class during middle school and few movies I have seen before. But with those little details I formed a bit of expectations for Legacy of Kings even before I started reading the book. I expected some familiar characters to appear, places to see, and few known facts about Alexander The Great but with considerations of the time-line since this one is set during Alexander The Great’s teenage life.

Eleanor Herman version of Alexander the Great’s teenage life is pretty well done. Clearly she did her research well enough to weaved a new story that readers will enjoy whether they knew or not the real Alexander the Great. The settings and characters are detailed in a way that readers will surely feel that they are in the real era where the King of Ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedon lives.

Legacy of Kings has six point of views. Six characters who are all connected to Alexander in some way. As much as I like getting more informations of what is happening to everyone, the multiple point of view actually is one of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy the story that much. Though their voices are clearly distinct, I feel like they are also stretched too thin. Normally, I don’t get irritated when scenes are cut in order to give way to other characters but in here I got frustrated. I feel like not everyone’s story is that interesting or at least not really that important to make the plot move. Not everyone’s point of view are necessary to the story, at least not yet in this installment. Maybe the author is planning to expand them in the next books but the way it was put in this first installment, they become more of the unnecessary pause for readers than introduction or developments to characters.

But there are three characters that stand out of me – Alexander himself, Kat and Cyn. I think the story will still work the same even if it was told just from two perspectives – Alexander and Kat. The other point views can be omitted or mixed together with those two, after all, they are all connected in a way.

With so many point views, the plots goes into different directions but mostly all are just set-up for a whole series. Nothing much is clear except for characters’ motives and actions which for sure will be expand more to the next installments.

The fantasy part of the story actually works with the historical part. It’s not overly magical which makes them quiet believable and even fitting to the era and settings. Nothing made my eyes rolls or questioned the existence and reality of them in the story. A very welcome addition to this version of Alexander’s life.

With all that, Legacy of Kings is still an interesting read in-spite of some slow points and unnecessary details. I think it is best to read this from the perspective of a series, as the book is clearly plotted with the other installments in mind. So if you want to read this fictional with touched of fantasy version of Alexander The Great’s life, I suggest for you to wait first for the other installments of this series or at least expect this book to be a grand set-up for a whole series.

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