8 Terrific Things about “A Torch Against the Night”

“A Torch Against the Night” An Ember in the Ashes Book 2

by Sabaa Tahir

Nikki’s Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary: Racing to the Empire’s most secure prison, in an attempt to rescue Laia’s brother, Laia and Elias are being hunted. Targeted by the deranged Emperor Marcus, the vicious Commandant and sadistic Warden of Kauf who all want them dead. Worst of all, Elias former best friend and the person who knows him best, Helene, the Blood Shrike, is commanded to execute them or have her family slaughtered. As Elias and Laia try to outwit their pursuers, they end up tangled in ancient myths and mysteries that are better off left unknown.

8 Terrific Things about Sabaa Tahir’s “A Torch Against the Night

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. The Characters

The Ember in the Ashes series has some of the most compelling characters. Tahir does an amazing job of creating characters with complexity and depth; all the characters have elements of goodness and parts of darkness and each of them makes mistakes from time to time. They are all very relatable. Some notable favorites, in no particular order, are Elias, Laia, Izzi, Helene, and Harper.

2. The Villian(s)

While many stories have one big “bad” villain that the protagonist(s) are trying to defeat, “A Torch Against the Night” has a few and they are not necessarily working together which adds more difficulties for all the protagonists. These villains include the Commandant, an utter bitch determined to kill her own son, Elias, the Warden of Kauf who is sadistic and unfortunately well trained in torturing his prisoners, Emperor Marcus who is both bloodthirsty and power-hungry, a dangerous combination, and then there is the Nightbringer.

3. The Myths

I love that Sabaa Tahir pulled from the mythology of her heritage and uses the Jinn in her lore. Other fey creatures introduced thus far are efrits, ghouls and wraiths. I’m interested in seeing more of these fey and learning more about them.

4. Tragedy

The Ember in the Ashes series is full of tragedy, the backstories of all the characters include heartbreak. And then we continue witnessing them being broken down by obstacles and tragedy. However, Tahir does an amazing job of showing that there is still beauty and love to be found in loss and calamity. Broken, to be remade.

5. Writing Style

Sabaa Tahir is a fantastic writer. As noted earlier, she does well with character development and world building but also with story pacing and creating a complex plot with many unexpected twists and turns.

6. Love

As always, I’m a sucker for romance and love. I appreciate that Tahir had Leia have feelings for both Keenan and Elias, it is so human to have an attraction to more than one person at a time. But I also want to scream and shake Tahir because Elias and Leia are not really “together” and may never be able to be.

7. The Nightbringer

Keenan… the Nightbringer??? Did not see this one coming at all!!! Well played Tahir.

8. A Reaper at the Gates

Thankfully Sabaa Tahir has mercy on us all and continues her wonderful An Ember in the Ashes series in “A Reaper at the Gates“.

What are your favorite things about Sabaa Tahir’s “A Torch Against the Night“?

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

10 Terrific Things about “The Tea Dragon Society”

“The Tea Dragon Society”

by Katie O’Neill

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: A beautifully illustrated fairytale about Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and her introduction to the magical world of Tea Dragons. Featuring a wise Jasmine Tea Dragon, a playful Rooibos Tea Dragon, a sweet Chamomile Tea Dragon, and a little fire brick creature, this short graphic novel is so heartwarming!

10 Terrific Things about Katie O’Neill’s “The Tea Dragon Society”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Cuteness

I cannot get over how adorbs this graphic novel is! An enchanting story, captivating characters, cute little companions, and beautiful artwork. The only complaint is that it was too short.

2. Humanoids

I loved that the characters weren’t all human, rather several of them were human in the sense of having self-awareness, executive cognitive functioning, walking upright, etc. but physically they looked like animals.


Whether Katie O’Neill identifies as LGBTQ+ or is simply an ally, I appreciate that she included characters that identify as such and how normalized it is in the story. 2 of the main characters, Hese and Erik, are a gay couple and while the story unfolds it seems that Greta and Minette, the other 2 main characters, may become an item in the future as well.

4. Illustration

Artwork style can really make or break my interest in a graphic novel. Happily, Katie O’Neill’s style is charming and very kawaii cute, which I love!

5. Objects

“… I want to keep making objects for people to love and give them a story…” Love this quote as it reminds us that material things can hold sentiment and have “value” beyond just monetary value and cherishing a physical object doesn’t mean you are “materialistic”.

6. Friendships

The characters all look drastically different from each other, are of different genders, and different ages, and yet, that does not seem to matter to any of them.

7. Tea Dragons

Little pet dragons that grow magic tea leaves. I want one and I don’t even drink tea!

8. Memories

Brew magic tea leaves and you get a delicious tea that allows you to experience memories that the dragons share with their owners. Very unique and magical idea!

9. Lil Brick dude

Greta has a small fire creature named Brick that follows her around and he is so cute!

10. The Tea Dragon Festival

More Tea Dragons coming Fall 2019!

What are your favorite things about Katie O’Neill’s “The Tea Dragon Society”?

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

7 Enriching Things about “An Ember in the Ashes”

“An Ember in the Ashes” An Ember in the Ashes Book 1

by Sabaa Tahir

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: In a world based on Ancient Rome, Laia a Scholar slave, finds herself at the mercy of the people responsible for the death of her family. Spying for the Resistance, a group of Scholar rebels, whose help Laia needs to rescue her brother, Laia infiltrates the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There she meets Elias, their best soldier, who, like Laia, is desperate to escape the clutches of the Empire and be free. But destiny has other plans.

Elias is dragged into a deadly competition against his best-friend Helene, who is secretly in love with him. The Resistance launches a devastating attack against the Empire. And Laia is caught in the middle of all of this, simply trying to save her last remaining family member from torture and death.

7 Enriching Things about Sabaa Tahir’s “An Ember in the Ashes”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Ancient Rome

While “An Ember in the Ashes” is no Historical Fiction, Tahir did base her fictional world on our Ancient Rome and this is one of my favorite places for a novel to take place!

2. Elias

Haunted, strong, handsome alpha male? Sign me up! But in all seriousness, I enjoy the complexity of Elias and how regardless of the way he was brought up and raised, he questions the Empire. I cannot get over who his mother is and I’m interested to see how that dynamic began. I’m hoping his story will not end up breaking my heart.

3. Down with the Status Quo!

Perhaps it fits with the way I’m feeling in our own political climate but stories about evil governments being taken down by rebels are very captivating for me and well, it’s a classic plot.

4. Keris, the Commandant

Fucking bitch. I have nothing else to say other than Tahir did an absolute amazing job of creating a very interesting villian who I just utterly hate and yet I want to know more about her and why she is the way she is.

5. Laia

Strong, capable female that constantly second-guesses herself, I can relate! I love Laia’s fire and drive, she is so spirited and her dedication to her brother is inspiring. I also appreciate that she has a very clear idea of what is wrong and right, she doesn’t do something that she believes to be wrong, sticks to her morals even when it is difficult to do so.

6. Helene

Another strong, independent female but damn this woman frustrates me so! Poor girl. I do feel for her; for her love for Elias and the pain of rejection by someone you love but it also maddens me how much she just blindly follows. I know this is slowly changing but I wanted to strangle her so many times throughout “An Ember in the Ashes”.

7. Intrigued

Overall, I’m intrigued. I NEED to know what happens to Elias, Helene, and Laia for my own sanity! Thank you Sabaa Tahir for creating such a beautiful world with very interesting characters and a dynamic storyline.

What are your favorite things about Sabaa Tahir’s “An Ember in the Ashes”?

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Nikki Page, the artist

Just a little blurb on me:

Born and raised in Northern California, Nikki Page is a self-taught artist who believes in celebrating all the little things in life and spreading magic wherever she goes. Adopted at birth, “Page” is for her biological mother who loved unconditionally and so selflessly; she gets the blame for Nikki’s overactive imagination and quirkiness. “Nikki” is for the family who raised her, nicknamed her “Picky-Nikki”, and indulged her overactive imagination, creativity, and curiosity with unlimited books, comics, music, and play! Nikki Page continues living a blessed life with a wonderful, loving husband, two purrfect furbabies, a fun, rewarding job, and lots and lots of books in Chico, California.

Book Reviews of 2018

Young Adult Books

Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas:

Empire of Storms

Tower of Dawn

Kingdom of Ash

Caraval Series by Stephanie Garber:


Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi:

Shatter Me

Unravel Me

Ignite Me

Restore Me

Self-Help Books

Romance Novels

Lords of the Underworld series by Gena Showalter:

Into the Dark

After Dark

The Darkest Torment

The Darkest Promise


Historical Fiction

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.