Category: julie c. dao

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao…

Title: Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix

Author: Julie C. Dao

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Rise of the Empress, book two

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was one of my favorite books of last year, so I was so excited when the sequel finally came out. After yet another library haul redo, I decided to keep Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix: I didn’t want to take it back to the library before I’d had a chance to read it. I was richly rewarded for my patience, and Julie C. Dao has become one of my favorite authors with this spellbinding, lush duology! It picks up where Forest of a Thousand Lanterns left off, with Xifeng’s stepdaughter, Jade, coming of age. With beautiful prose, magic, secrets, folktales, and more than one magical creature, I loved Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, and I was so happy with how these two wonderful books ended! I can’t wait to see what Julie C. Dao has in store for us next!

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix picks up where Forest of a Thousand Lanterns left off, with Xifeng’s stepdaughter, Jade, coming of age to eighteen. I loved how this book brought Jade, as a young adult, into the spotlight. Forced away from court and her father at the young age of four, she is forced to navigate the glittering, treacherous arena that is her stepmother’s court. All the while, she is trying her best to deny what is her true birthright: the throne that her stepmother has stolen, through wicked magic, murder, and deceit. Forced again to leave her rightful home, Jade of the Great Forest must reach deep inside of herself to claim what is hers by right and law, even if it means confronting all of her deepest fears and fiercest demons…

I really enjoyed this book! It took a little bit to get into it, since it had been a while since I’d read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. But Dao returned with gorgeous prose, breakneck pacing, strong, well-drawn characters, magic, shocking twists and thrills, more than one awesome magical creature, and an amazing ending! Sequels make me so nervous; I call it sequel anxiety, because there have been so many times where I’ve loved a book and was so exciting for the next one, and got let down. But that wasn’t the case with Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. I loved how, in this book, it was Jade in the spotlight, fighting for her rightful place on the throne and the broken land of Feng Lu. Her character development was wonderful; it was my favorite part of the novel for sure. I loved watching her transition from a sheltered, naïve girl into a strong, courageous young woman, and I also adored her friends, Wren and Koichi. I really liked the way that the story felt like a classic folktale; I’m such a sucker for anything that feels like a fairy tale. And that ending! It was so fulfilling and exciting; that, too, was one of my favorite parts. My feelings are bittersweet, but overall, I really loved The Rise of the Empress duology, and I can’t wait to see what Julie C. Dao is going to do next! Absolutely stunning! The bottom line: Gorgeous, thrilling, and courageous, I loved Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, and I’m so sad that it’s all over! More please! Next on deck: My New Crush Gave to Me by Shari Petroff!

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver Review

Title: Broken Things

Author: Lauren Oliver

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Lauren Oliver is one of my favorite authors: I loved her dystopian series, Delirium, so when I heard that she had a new book coming out, I reserved it at my library. It’s been sitting on my library stack for almost a month now, and after an enormous rehaul, I pushed it to the top once I realized that someone had put a hold on it. I’ll be honest: I finished this book about a week ago and I couldn’t review it right away: My feelings were too tangled up. Even now, as I put the review on paper, I’m still not sure exactly how I feel. Overall, I really enjoyed it, but there were some things that are sticking like thorny burrs in my brain, and so I’m going to do my best to vocalize how I feel. Lauren Oliver has penned a dark, spinetingling tale of obsession, toxic friendship, dangerous secrets, and the power of stories, and I was captivated, even though there were some parts I wish had been taken care of more neatly.

               It has been five years since Summer Marks was brutally slain in the woods. The entire world believes that Mia and Bryn, her best friends, did the killing as a result of the three girls’ obsession with a fantasy novel called The Way into Lovelorn. But there’s a twist: They didn’t do it. On the anniversary of Summer’s deaths, both Bryn and Mia, set adrift by the false accusations and the loss of Summer herself, are drawn back together in an attempt to clear their names and find out the truth about who murdered Summer. All over again, the line between fact and fiction, truth and lies, blurs, and they both must confront what really happens in the woods five years ago, even if it means unearthing secrets that could end up deadly…

               There were elements of the book that I really enjoyed, and others that I’m still chewing on like pieces of gristle, sticking in my brain. Lauren Oliver writes with her signature, quiet bravado, pulling punches and delivering pacing like no other. The prose was gorgeous, even captivating, and I was utterly spellbound by Mia, Bryn, the ghost of summer, and the small snatches of the fictional novel, The Way into Lovelorn, that preceded each chapter. I liked the mystery of it and the way the point of view bounced between Mia and Bryn, seamlessly joining the past and present. I also really liked the side characters, especially Wayne, Owen, and Mia’s parents. I enjoyed the way that I was constantly guessing; mysteries and thrillers make me nervous because I tend to guess the killer before I even crack a hundred pages. But there were several parts of the book that bothered me, which was the ending. I won’t spoil it, because it’s one of the biggest plot points in the whole novel. But it just really bothered me; I was really hoping for more resolution. I wanted, too, more information about Summer; I wanted more of a proper picture of who she was in a person, the good and the bad. Nonetheless, Lauren Oliver has created a dark, horrifying tale of monsters, both real and imagined, obsession, secrets, and desire that will stick with me for as long as I live. The bottom line: A beautifully written, meticulously plotted mystery filled with secrets, shocking twists, and real-life monsters, Lauren Oliver has created a gripping, tense thriller of a book that will stay with me forever! Next on deck: Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao!

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao …

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao Review: undefined

The Glass Spare by Lauren Destefano Review

The Glass Spare by Lauren Destefano Review: undefined

Currently Reading: Forest of a Thousand Lanter…

Currently Reading: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by @juliecdao! I just finished The Glass Spare in the tub last night, and I started this book before going to bed. Honestly, I’m absolutely entranced. The prose is gorgeous, the premise is exciting, (I am such a die-hard for Evil Queen retellings!) plus blood, gore, dark magic, and mysterious prophecies! I am loving this and I’m so happy that I finally am able to get to it. Shout out to my local library for hooking me up! What are you guys currently reading this week?