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Title: Ignite

Series: The Phoenix Flame (Book 1)

Author: Kara Swanson

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

I didn’t know quite what to expect from this book. I loved Kara Swanson’s Heirs of Neverland series, so I knew this would be another great story with riveting characters and deep themes. I also anticipated the plot would be intense.

The story ended up being majorly character-driven, with much more emphasis on Mara’s personal growth than any external plot. Which is fine; I just wasn’t expecting that. And it took me a little while to adjust to that.

Characters: Mara is a hurting, broken character who pulls at your heart and gently demands you listen to her story. It’s easy to get sucked into her world, to feel what she feels and grieve with her. She’s so well-written!

Eli is equally good; I enjoyed the couple of times we got to read from his POV. He’s a really good guy who feels so human.

As for the villains… Well. It’s hard to pinpoint who exactly the villains are, which is rather the point of the story. Nothing’s black and white, and that makes for an intriguing plotline.

Content: Phoenixes can be quite violent, harming others in brutal ways. One character has been horribly scarred from violence done against him. Another is forced to mutilate herself on multiple occasions (this happened in the past, but it’s a key part of the story).

A romance seems to be budding, but they’re just friends right now. There are only sparks of attraction (cheesy pun intended).

Writing: I expected good writing, and that’s what I got! The story pulls you in and keeps you interested to the end. Writing such depth of character as Mara presents requires talent, and Swanson pulls it off amazingly well. As aforesaid, I wasn’t expecting such an introspective narrative, but it works well for the story.

Summary: So then, why only three stars? I can’t quite explain, but it felt like something was missing. Obviously this is the first book of a duology, so the story’s only half complete, but so much of this book was setup that it’s hard to feel like it’s a story in its own right. That being said, though, it’s a great setup, and I’m excited to read the next book! Talk about a cliffhanger ending…

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Review—This Gray Canvas

Title: This Gray Canvas Author: Jaiden Phillips Genre: Middle Grade/Contemporary Rating: 4/5 stars FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


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