Blood Heir eARC Review

 

 

Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao

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GoodReads:
In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

 

My Review

 

** I’m writing this review from the eARC I received last month.

I admit I don’t know what all changes had been made as I did not read it before it was pulled from publication and then put back, so, there’s a lot I cannot comment on.

I’m simply rating it four stars because I really had fun reading it, but, I will go in-depth with my review, and I also have to say I’m certainly not qualified to be critical of it on certain important matters but I am happy to read the other reviews and listen to others to better understand.**

So, let me get onto my review now.

We start off with this scared young woman, a princess without a kingdom in a lot of ways, afraid of herself and what she could do more than anything else. Why? Because not only is she has what they call an affinity but a blood infinity, capable of great and terrible things. Still, she intends to bring her father’s murderer to justice, to win back her own right to be a Princess and live in the palace and there’s a very long road to get there.

Ana’s story is a bit of an Anastasia Romanov story, but, also, its own unique tale of Affinites, and has a lot of Russian folklore/traditional influences for the Cyrilian Empire.

Ana has been presumed dead after the tragic incidences that lead to the point in time where you meet her, but this has helped thus far in her search for her Father’s killer.

Ramson is a bit of an ass, but, he is definitely the one that made me grin the most while reading. He is in a lot of ways really not a good person, BUT with the potential for it, and he’s not strictly a bad person either, I would say he’s selfish and in the grey area for a good chunk of this book, but his development was probably even more satisfying to read about than Ana’s and that’s saying something for me.

Ramson is NOT an Affinite, and that is a nice counterweight to Ana’s affinity. Though he’s from the underbelly of the crime world, he is still more accepted in society than Ana, as she has a power that sets her aside.

Most if not almost all Affinites are indentured servants, the thing that sets them apart from others, what should make them more powerful, has been there downfall as far as the Cyrilian Empire is concerned. So, this is of course, when boiled down, slavery.

Ana never dared to open her eyes to that fact when she was living in the palace as Princess, but now that she’s on her own in the ‘real world,’ Ana is forced to see the truth. I love that she went from seeing things from how only privileged tend to view them, to seeing things how they actually are, she is understanding how her Empire, and more importantly, her Father had faults. She knows now that there needs to be change and that wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t been accused of murdering her father.

Ana is naive in a lot of ways because until a year ago she led an incredibly sheltered life, and as an accused killer she’s also had to keep to the shadows, so, in this book we get to watch her have her eyes opened.

May was possibly my favorite character, Ana’s friend, a young indentured child looking for her mother, and though much younger than Ana, in a lot of ways, it was May who took care of Ana.

Ramson sees Ana as something to be used, she’s a means to an end and so he’s completely jaded and corrupt in comparison to Ana and yet the balance between them is so perfect and eventually, we do see this great development in him as we do in Ana.

The Affinites have been oppressed and enslaved and the Cyrilian Empire is to blame, the rest of the world has their own views of the Affinities but the moment they step foot into the empire, they’re forced into a ‘lawful’ employment contract. Now there could be a plot of bringing down every non-affinite, of making them pay for all the crimes that have been done against Affinites.

So the story’s focus is on the Affinites, and there’s more than just angry people wanting revenge, there’s the hint of revolution and Ana’s possible play in changing things if she can get her title back.

Now, for the bad parts, there were at times where Ana was so naive and impulsive that you did want to shake the crap out of her. And Ramson was a bit overly selfish, so again, wanted to shake him too.

But as far as the writing goes, there were a lot of stereotypes and cliches.

For me, that’s not a bad thing, but I know that it can be off-putting for many.

I’ve not read Six of Crows but I’ve heard there are some uncanny similarities to Ramson and…Inej? I think I’ve heard, so, that’s something to keep in mind.

Again, the cliches and stereotypes were probably the biggest issues with the writing style.

I thought this was actually a super enjoyable read, I felt that Ramson and Ana had great banter, and more than that, I felt like Ana went through a lot of character development.

Pros:
-Anastasia Vibes
-Slow Burn Romance ftw
-Magic
-Grumpy Cinnamon Roll
-Scary Bloody Cinnamon Roll
-Affinites are amazing
-The injustices are well done and heartbreaking
-Political Plots
-Revolution Plots
-Murder Plots
-ALL THE THINGS PLOTS
-Fun escapes

Cons:
-Similarities to other stories possibly therefore might be ‘overdone’
-Issues before it was pulled from publication and then put back out, not sure how well things were resolved as I didn’t read the other eARC
-Ramson may be too selfish
-Ana may be too naive
-Cliches in abundance
-Stereotypes in abundance
-At times Ana did feel a bit immature, but I would say that was because of her sheltered life.

Overall, I give this four cups of…hot chocolate. [See what I did there? Cause it’s holiday season?]

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Voyager UK for the eARC in exchange for my honest review.

 

About the Author

Amélie Wen Zhao

Amélie Wen Zhao is a Paris-born Chinese national who fell in love with stories since she was old enough to hold a book. Raised in an international community in Beijing, she had the opportunity to grow up steeped in the values and teachings of three different cultures. Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Les Misérables, and Wuthering Heights were among her favorite works.

It wasn’t long before she wanted to tell her own tales. After graduating from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business in 2014, Amélie began working as a finance professional by day, and writing by night. Her young adult fantasy trilogy, BLOOD HEIR, debuts in 2019 from Delacorte Press / Penguin Random House.

Amélie hopes to empower young readers with messages of acceptance, strength, and love through her works, and to continue to push the boundaries of young adult literature by exploring new, cross-cultural themes.

Author Links

Webpage | Twitter | Instagram

War of Mist – Blog Tour

War of Mist (2019)

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Synopsis:
War is here.
Toxic mist drives all life to the brink of destruction and the conqueror queen, Ines, has her talons in the kings of the realm.
Bleak, having discovered her true heritage, must now scour the lands for the one thing that might save them all. 
But the search is a treacherous one, one that will push her to the very limits of endurance. 
Amidst secrets, lies and the intricacies of battle, Bleak and her companions learn just how far they’ll go for the ones they love. But will it be enough?
As deadly forces grapple for power across the continents; families, friends and allies unite to take one final stand.
Explosive revelations, heart-wrenching betrayals and breathtaking magic soar in the epic conclusion to Helen Scheuerer’s bestselling trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles.

BOOK INFORMATION
Title: War of Mist
Author: Helen Scheuerer
Publisher: Talem Press
Publication date: 15 July 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

GoodReads Link

 

Excerpt

‘If you want something done right, do it yourself,’ she muttered under her breath. Her fingers toyed with the layered necklace resting against her collarbone, a pretty gift from the infatuated king. She was fond of this piece in particular, adorned with rare jewels from lands long forgotten. It reminded her of something her mother had worn so many years before. A piece she was meant to inherit, before they’d taken her and stripped her of all her rights and belongings. The order of the high priestesses allowed no effects, no personal property, but now … now she had many things to call her own.

Below, the castle maze sprawled across the grounds, and beyond the walls and gatehouse, the whole of Ellest bent to her will. It was all hers. She had taken it easily, as was her destiny. The instinct of the magic in her veins drove her to take and take, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted to add to her kingdom, her collection. The need to do so raged within her, a demand, a drive to fill the gaping hole in her chest.

 

My Review

 

Do you remember the first time you finished a series that just swept you off your feet? For me, there were a couple that comes to mind but not recently. Suddenly though I finished this book and I realized that this was now a favorite trilogy of mine. From the first book, it had me captured. In fact, I hadn’t read any of these until the tour sign up, I read all three in less than a workweek, I could hardly put down the first two and I did put down War of Mist until I’d read it through in one very long sitting. I devoured all three books and could hardly believe that someone could write so descriptively without bogging down the world with words.

Helen has presented a lush world full of varied landscapes, cultures, and a variety of people. There is great diversity in her writing from the characters to the lands and it shows in every sentence.

In fact, to give you an idea to my reaction to this book, I was looking through my notes and the first thing I had written was; ‘Ugh, what is this book doing to me?!’ If that isn’t a sign of greatness, I don’t know what is. There’s also a note that just says ‘*internal sobbing* Beautiful, perfect…’

Not to sound too much like a screeching fangirl but this book was a perfect conclusion to such an emotionally charged trilogy.

Bleak has grown so much from the alcoholic ‘hobo’ in book one to how she ended up. [I would say more, but spoilers!] She showed so much growth in her emotional maturity to her abilities both physically and magically. In fact, I would say I wish I had more of her but considering the balance of characters in War of Mist there was no better way to do it than how Helen did. There’s multiple POVs and I loved them all.

During the whole of all three books, the characters are all amazing and all so well developed by the end, you loved and hated something about each character. Except for Dash, Olena, and Fiore, mostly because they were perfect in each and every single way. Sorry, it’s the truth.

Even the heartbreaking moments in the book were perfect and well called for and I don’t think there’s any other way to end it than how she did. A perfect ending, there were flaws, it had hope and love, and so much more.

Another thing that really struck me is that Helen handles romance perfectly, she doesn’t let it override important plot points that have nothing to do with it, and she creates a perfect balance of it.

Honestly, this review is me trying not to repeat myself on how much I freakin’ loved this book/trilogy and to hold in my pterodactyl screeches.

Bleak was probably my favorite character in the end but there was such a huge variety. A blind princess, a queen who prefers her dogs to people for company [I mean, I feel that way too], a Matriarch torn between love of all sorts and her duty, a long lost sister, and characters both worthy and unworthy of redemption, but all earning an ending befitting them.

The pacing was fantastic, and the imagery the author called forth made it feel like one was watching a movie play out as you took in the words that transported you.

The other two books and this one both received 5 Cups of Coffee from me, this was insanely good from start to finish for me.

**Thank you to Shealea/Caffeine Tours and Helen Scheurer for an early copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. As part of the tour I have also provided an excerpt -above-, photos, and a creative feature post below.**

 

Photos

[Expect a fancy Bookstagram Post later today]

 

Creative Feature Post: What Ability Would I have? [And Why]

We have seers, mind whisperers, travellers, collectors, and these are just a few of the abilities for those in The Oremere Chronicles.

I have to say, I totally see why Bleak drank to push down her powers, and quite frankly I’d do the same in her case, so I’ll pass on hers.

Being a seer seems too frustrating, so I’ll pass on that too. Sorry to Dash, Swinton, and Eydis.

Henri’s ability is completely amazing, but not quite what I’m looking for. I’d end up just throwing stuff all over the place…I mean not a bad thing for me but maybe for others!

You couldn’t pay me to take on Casimir’s powers haha, and Ines, well, very cool but not for me.

So what does that leave me from our cast of characters…?

I want the Tailor’s powers, I want to be a traveller. I can’t tell you how much fun I would have popping around different places and visiting friends and landmarks without a care in the world!

However, if I could pick any ability and thrust myself into Helen’s world, I would probably take on the power of making things grow.

Hear me out.

Someone comes at you with a stabby thing, you freeze them on the spot by growing ivy to root them in place -like my pun?- or have it wrap around the sword. Effect AND aesthetic. And it would work on most of the continents which is a plus, can’t say I’d be able to thrive much in Eydis’s court!

Brilliant.

I know.

But what about you all? What ability would you want from the book or in general?

 

About the Author

Author (Helen Scheuerer)

Bio:
After writing literary fiction for a number of years, Helen Scheuerer was inspired to return to her childhood love of fantasy thanks to novels like Throne of Glass, The Queen’s Poisoner, and The Queen of the Tearling.
Helen is also the Founding Editor of Writer’s Edit, an online learning platform for emerging writers. In its first year, Writer’s Edit reached thousands of new authors, and soon became its own small press, with Helen overseeing the production and publication of three creative writing anthologies. It’s now one of the largest writing websites in the world.
Helen now lives by the mountains of New Zealand and writes full time. She has many more books planned for the future.

Author Links

Website/Newsletter | Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

 

Twitter Chat

Invite (War of Mist)

There’s going to be a Twitter Chat on July 20, 9AM EST/9PM PHT #WarOfMist #CBTTC

I’d love to see you all there because I’m most certainly going to be attending!

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

Prize: Audiobook copies of War of Mist and Reign of Mist (one winner only, INTL)

Link to Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Rest of the Tour Schedule

Schedule (War of Mist)

Special Post: Cover Reveal

Hey all!

Some of you may not know but I am on the #FirstRidersStreetTeam For the AH-MAZING Nick Pau Preto, the author of one of my fave 2019 reads, Crown of Feathers, I wasn’t on the team for the first book but I am now and let me tell you, yesterday when I saw the cover drop for Heart of Flames I near about squealed like a One Direction Fangirl back in the good ol’ days of One Direction.

But I digress. [Shocking. I know.]

Anyway the purpose of this post is to share that gorgeous cover with you all.

You saw my chaotic Blog Featured Image but here’s some better close ups of what we’re expecting, and let me tell you, be ready to drool…

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Swooning yet? But wait! There’s more!

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Check out the artist, here.

Check out the article from paste magazine, here.

 

Now go forth, swoon, drool, add to GoodReads, do a little dance, I won’t judge!

 

Anna Undreaming ARC Review


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GoodReads Blurb:Anna is a student surviving the city, and she lives by a simple credo, “Never play their game; their game is always rigged.” For every man she has ever known, it’s a saying that has served her well.

That all changes on the night of “The Big Storm,” when Anna is slipped a date rape drug. Though she saves herself and her best friend, Anna is lost to the dark heart of the city and finds herself hunted by The Night Collectors. Unsure if these monsters are real or hallucinations, Anna nonetheless fights them as best she can. The battle attracts a stranger—Teej—who saves her using powers she cannot understand. He explains that she is an Undreamer and possesses the same powers, and in the future, he will not be the one to save her. She will save him.

But Anna is not yet ready to join Teej and stand against The Dreamers. She has difficult decisions of her own to make. Decisions she has always run from. She still has her partner’s suicide letter. It remains unopened. She still wears his ring, though she can’t seem to remember his face.

Anna learns of The Dreamers – artists so preeminent in their respective fields that they can paint, dance, sew or sing new realities – and as she travels through their creations, she learns that there’s as much beauty in the world as there is horror. With a complex conspiracy at work within the community of Dreamers that threatens to undermine reality itself, Anna will have to look deep within herself, and eventually have to face the horrors of her own past, to save her old world as well as her new one.

Anna Undreaming is a dark urban fantasy, and the first book in the The Metiks Fade trilogy.

Recommended to me by Kaleena!

I was lucky enough to receive this book from Thomas Welsh and Owl Hollow Press after responding to a tweet about a review copy. My review is honest and given with no strings attached! But still, a big THANK YOU to the and Kal who strongly recommended this book!

It’s rare to get a good dark urban fantasy [It’s one of the reasons I became enamoured by Holly Black but I digress] but this one was a very good dark urban fantasy. It was creepy without being too much if you get my drift and the ‘worlds’ called ‘Hazes’ were surreal and wonderfully chilling at times. Speaking of Hazes and other things, we were lucky enough that Thomas Welsh put a glossary in the back which came in handy at the start but he also does a great job of explaining the terms during his worldbuilding. And his worldbuilding is not only introducing us to this new setting but Anna as well so it doesn’t feel out of place or redundant. [The Sump was my favorite place.]

Never play their game. Their game is always rigged.”

Anna is raw, real, she is suffering through a dark time in her life and she has learned a mantra that suits someone living in a world that’s felt so harsh to Anna. I absolutely loved that quote and each time I read it I would be nodding as if to say ‘that’s right Anna, you got this.’ Because usually, she was in the middle of dealing with everything under the sun when that quote came up. Her background isn’t thoroughly given up and neither is Teej’s, but, you don’t need their full histories for this, you’re sucked into their world and are rushing with them through everything that happens!

Teej, her mentor of sorts, tries to help Anna in this new world she’s been flung into but ultimately Anna is on her own, she is the one who is supposed to be saving him and she saves herself over and over and you have to admire that kind of strength. ❤

The pacing was on point, it never really dragged for me, I mean I got impatient but that was not on the book, that was on me, haha. And it’s divided into two parts but come on, I read right into the second part to see what was going to happen, who wouldn’t? I really enjoyed this book and it was a great read for me.

Pros:
– Anna is completely human, I mean, there are times you’re like ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING’ but, you know, people make you do that. Especially in cars.
– It’s dark goodness, creepy enough to make you go ‘oooooh’ while reading, or at least I did.
– Anna doesn’t need saving, well, she might but she doesn’t get it and has to get through everything on her own one way or another.
– There are so many good quotes in this book it could take a post on its own to get them through.
– Welsh really does a great job with world building
– The hazes are super interesting
– Great pacing
– Leaves you wanting more at the end, I can’t wait for the second

Cons:
– You may not want something dark like this, so, there, you’ve been warned
– In the second part a few chapters talk about another character, given the outcome, I feel I could have done without, BUT, BUT, I think it still served a purpose, I just enjoyed those chapters the least (though I really appreciated the creation of that one thing no spoilers damn it.
– You could do with knowing more about Anna’s motivations, it might make you want to shake her less during certain parts.
– We need to talk about Sue but we won’t because of spoilers. But I had some issues with that friendship and felt Anna’s choice at one point was totally validated and Anna is a great friend just from the first chapter alone to Sue lol.
– I can’t wait for the second book.

**This is the first book in a trilogy and the second book, Anna and the Moonlight Road will be published this year so keep an eye out!**

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In a world of dwindling light, you’re a bonfire in the night”