Mundie Moms

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS By Julie C. Dao / Blog Tour: Book Review & Giveaway #ForestofaThousandLanterns

Welcome to the next stop in the FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS blog tour, hosted by Penguin Teen. I'm so thrilled to feature Julie's debut on the blog today. Below, you'll find my review, and a giveaway! Be sure to enter to win. 


By: Julie C. Dao
Published by: Penguin Teen 
Released on: October 10, 2017
Series: Rise of the Empress #1
Purchase from: Publisher | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 4 stars 
An arc of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review 

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.

Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and  exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with both breathtaking pain and beauty, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns possesses all the hallmarks of masterful fantasy: dazzling magic, heartbreaking romance, and a world that hangs in the balance. Fans of HeartlessStealing Snow, and Red Queen will devour this stunning debut.

An enchanting, dark debut. Rich in Asian mythology and folklore, Dao has created an unique, and mesmerizing story that reads like an ancient legend you'd find hidden on the shelves in an old bookstore. This book had my attention from the get go. Even though the story went into a different direction than I was excepting it to, I couldn't stop reading it. 

My word, this story has one intriguing anti-heroine who takes being an evil Empress/ruler, to a whole new level. I was NOT excepting that. I guess next time I need to do a better job at researching what I'm going to read. I'll admit, the element of surprise was great. I've not always been a fan of the anti-hero/anti-heroine storyline, but there's something about Xifeng I both admired, and feared.  

Xifeng is a strong character who had a troubled up bringing. Being raised by an abusive aunt, and not in the best circumstances should have broken her. In some ways it did, but it also made her a resilient character who learned patience, found her inner strength, and discovered that sometimes patience was best when it came to getting what she wanted. It afforded her time to calculate how to best act. She's cunning. She is one character who will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. If someone is in her way, well, than they pay for it. Dearly. 

In her quest to following her destiny, Xifeng becomes the fearless, passionate, empress who won't let anything get in her way. She is an incredibly well written anti-hero you can't help but continue reading about, because you want to see how her story will transpire. I have to admit, I admired her strength. To match Xifeng, are also a variety of well written characters who breathe life, love, passion, and a host of other elements to this story. I love it when characters have purpose, and each of the characters in this book do. Whether for good, or bad, they all add something to Xifeng's over all story arch.

Dao effortless transported me into Xifeng's frightening story, and I loved how everything came together. The East Asian culture is so vivid in this story. It's one of my favorite elements. Not only was this the heart of the story, it was also crucial to it as well. It was incredibly easy to visual the colorful apparel the characters adorned, smell the spices and foods they ate, and picture how each of the characters looked in my mind. Same could be said about the world in which they live. This fantasy world was fascinating. 

Dao's writing and imagining is simply stunning. If this is Dao's debut, I can hardly wait to read her next book. I definitely need more of this story! If you love a good villain story with some strong characters, and vivid story telling, pick up this book! 


Julie C. Dao ( is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes. 


Enter for a chance to be one (1) of three (3) winners to receive a hardcover copy of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao. (ARV: $18.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on October 2, 2017 and 12:00 AM on October 27, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about October 30, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
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 Week One:
October 2 – Alexa Loves Books – Author Guest Post 
October 3 – No BS Book Reviews – Review
October 4 – The Young Folks – 10 Reasons to Read FOATL
October 5 – Chasing Faerytales – Author Guest Post
October 6 – Arctic Books – Favorite Villains & Anti-Heroes
Week Two:
October 9 – NovelKnight – Review
October 10 – The Book’s Buzz – Author Q&A
October 11 – Across the Words – Author Q&A
October 12 – What Sarah Read – FOATL Mood Board
October 13 – One Way or an Author – History 
Week Three:
October 16 – MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It Book Reviews – Review 
October 17 – Twirling Pages – Author Guest Post 
October 18 – Mundie Moms – Review
October 19 – Book Nerd Addicts – Author Q&A
October 20 – Little Lillie Reads – Review & Playlist
Week Four:
October 23 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Guest Post  
October 24 – The Eater of Books! – Favorite FOATL Quotes
October 25 – A Page With a View – Author Q&A
October 26 – A Perfection Called Books – Review & Mood Board
October 27 – Xpresso Reads – Author Guest Post

THAT INEVITABLE VICTORIAN THING by E.K. Johnston / Blog Tour: Book Review & Giveaway #ThatInevitableVictorianThing

Welcome to the next stop in the THAT INEVITABLE VICTORIAN THING blog tour, hosted by Penguin. Today's stop features my review, along with a giveaway! Be sure to enter to win the giveaway at the end of the post. First, about the book.


By: E.K. Johnston
Published by: Dutton
Released on: October 3, 2017 
Purchase from: Penguin Random HouseAmazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 3 Stars - It's A Good Read
An arc of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendent of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history. The imperial tradition of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage. But before she does her duty, she'll have one summer of freedom and privacy in a far corner of empire. Posing as a commoner in Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire's greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an extraordinary bond and maybe a one-in-a-million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process.

Set in a near-future world where the British Empire never fell and the United States never rose, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a surprising, romantic, and thought-provoking story of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.

An alluring mix of Victorian romance, and historical references set in an intriguing, futuristic new world order. E.K. Johnston has created a new mix of various YA elements that I love, to write an original story that is unlike anything I've read before. 

Imagine there's a new world order. A not so distant, futuristic one where the U.S. is much different than it is today. In-fact nothing is what it is today, because the British Empire never fell. Imagine a world where there's no racism, and diversity is strongly encouraged, and widely accepted. Much of how the world is today, is different, and in many instances more unified. That's the world that makes up Johnston's newest release. It's such a fun, imaginative world that often times had me wondering, "what if", as I read it. 

The technology advancement plays well into this futuristic world. It's a mix of traditional and advanced technology. It plays a huge role in this story, especially when it comes to the romance and relationships. This society is all about genetic match making, as much as it is about falling in love with who you choose. At 16 you can have a chip that will find your perfect genetic match. If you don't want a match, than no worries, you're free to choose to fall in love with whomever you'd like. Having this option definitely poses some interesting questions, especially for Helena, and puts a twist in a complex, yet sensible romance. I won't spoil it for you, but what transpires makes sense.

When it comes to the Royal Family, they of course want the best genetic matches for their family. Naturally this not only allows them to continue to grow in political strength and power, it allows for the best in continuing their family lineage. For Margaret, Princess and heir, it means she has some tough choices to make when it comes to following this tradition, or following her heart. 

Character wise, I really liked getting to know Helena, August and Margaret, though this story felt like it was much more Helena's story. I loved the relationship between August and Helena, and their rich history together. Their families go way back, and they definitely have plans for their future together.... I loved getting the glimpses of their past history together, as well as what their future could be like, together. I also liked their family ties, and seeing the two of them not only figure things out together, but on their own as well. What transpires between them is natural. I'll admit, I love that they have spent so many summers together on the lake in northern Ontario. 

The world building is one of my favorite things about this book. To match it, is a vivid setting in Ontario, Canada. It completely captured my love for the outdoors. I'll be honest, the setting stole my heart. What's not to love about a northern lake setting, or any northern setting for that matter. You don't even need to visit Ontario in person, because Johnston's detailed descriptions will make you feel as though you're there. I absolutely love the way she visually brought this book's setting to life. Now I really do want to go spend a summer there. 

The twist in this book is Margaret's role in Helena and August's life. I like that she wanted to break away from the Royal Family life, and just have a chance to be herself. Hence her trip to Ontario for the summer. What transpires between these three is interesting, and made sense. It was a natural progression with how their relationships grew. It was very easy for me to like Margaret as much as I did Helena and August. 

While I enjoyed the storytelling, and loved the bits of history that the chapter breaks added to the story, I wasn't a fan of the ending. It felt incomplete, rushed, and wrapped up a bit too smoothly. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for happy endings, but this felt a bit odd. The twist with the genetic matching / following ones heart definitely plays a role in this. While I did like the book, and didn't want to leave this book's setting, the ending left me feeling like there needed to be a bit more before the book just ends. Hopefully this means there will be a sequel. 


E. K. Johnston is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several YA novels, including the L.A. Time Book Prize finalist The Story of Owen and Star Wars: Ahsoka. Her novel A Thousand Nights was shortlisted for The Governor General's Award. The New York Times called The Story of Owen “a clever first step in the career of a novelist who, like her troubadour heroine, has many more songs to sing" and in its review of Exit, Pursued by a Bear, The Globe & Mail called Johnston "the Meryl Streep of YA," with "limitless range." E. K. Johnston lives in Stratford, Ontario. Follow her on Twitter at @ek_johnston.


Enter for a chance to be one (1) of three (3) winners to receive a hardcover copy of That Inevitable Victorian Thing E.K. Johnston. (ARV: $17.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on October 2, 2017 and 12:00 AM on October 23, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about October 25, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Week One:
October 2 – YA Bibliophile – Author Guest Post 
October 3 – Bookiemoji – Review 
October 4 – Fiction Fare – Author Q&A
October 5 – Icey Books – Quote Candy 
October 6 – BookCrushin – Review 

Week Two:
October 9 – Alexa Loves Books – Bookish Style Files
October 10 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Review & Style Board
October 11 – What Sarah Read – Top 10 Most Swoonworthy Royal Couples 
October 12 – Arctic Books – Playlist 
October 13 – Xpresso Reads – Author Guest Post | Favorite Victorian Women

Week Three:
October 16 – A Page With a View – Author Q&A
October 17 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Royal Women Throughout History
October 18 – Mundie Moms – Review
October 19 –  The Young Folks – Review 
October 20 – Brittany Book Rambles – Author Guest Post | Playlist