Garden of Thorns – Amber Mitchell (Review)

Title: Garden of Thorns
Author: Amber Mitchell
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, 2017 (March 6)
Genre: YA Fantasy

**I received a copy of this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review**

This review can be found on my BlogTeacherofYA’s Tumblr, or my Goodreads page

My Review:

Let me start with the fact that I’ve been on a streak lately and I’ve been reading a ton of great books! So I have been extremely fortunate and I think it’s because I’m choosing a lot of books that sound like something I would enjoy. I hope that keeps going! 

Here is the copy I’ve been reading on my Kindle:

 And then let me show you this cover in all its wondrous glory…

So so pretty. I would love to own a physical copy of this book…I love just looking at it. And it represents the story well.

But you can judge that for yourselves…

Rose has a secret.

It has nothing to do with the fact that she is a Flower in the Garden, a sleazy illegal show featuring girls all captured and used in some way. Rose’s best friend Fern is what’s called a Wilted: anytime the “Flower” Rose screws up in her dance routine or in her behavior, the “Gardener,” or head of the show, takes it out on Fern. Each Wilted’s body is covered in scars, reminders of their Flower’s mistakes. 

 Rose has been in the Garden for many years, but she is always worried her secret will be discovered and she will be used by someone worse than the Gardener, the only person who knows her secret (and promises not to tell as long as she stays in the Garden).

One day, a major mistake costs Fern her life, and Rose knows what she must do: she must free all the Flowers and Wilteds; she must free her other sisters in slavery. When she chooses the right time, and picks a random stranger during the show to take hostage, she makes a major mistake…

She happened to pick the most wanted man as her hostage.

Now Rose’s secret is in danger of being discovered….but she has no choice. The “hostage,” the notorious nephew of the Emperor, has decided that picking him out of a masked crowd means she could be an assassin. Rayce cannot make the mistake of letting Rose go. But Rose needs to free her sisters and she needs to keep her secret safe.

But the longer she’s away from the Garden, the more the walls she has built up all her life start to crumble around her.

Who is Rayce, this mysterious nephew with the jagged scar across his cheek, the man who runs a rebellion full of people willing to die to change their way of life? Is he someone Rose can trust? Or, if he discovers Rose’s secret, will he tell the Emperor in exchange for what he wants…peace for his people? 

Who can Rose trust? 

Can she trust anyone? 

Is It Classroom-Appropriate?

Definitely. I love the concepts in this book…there’s so much to discuss. For one, the culture of Delmar and Zareen. Delmarians live in the nice city surrounding the Emperor. There are temples to different goddesses, and the decor is reminiscent of (perhaps) an Asian influence. Rayce is called the “shogun,” and the names of the people and the decor of the city mix elements of sandy deserts and Japanese gardens. You could ask students if they see any examples of cultures and have them describe how they picture Delmar and Zareen.

Zareen has the ability to create light with the rocks around them. Is this a chemical reaction? What could cause such a reaction in the land around them? I had so many questions and I could see more coming from sequels that could quench my curiosity. Though the book is currently a standalone, I think it NEEDS a sequel.

Main point: lots of areas to discuss: sex trafficking in the case of the Garden, Rose’s trust issues toward men, and the dynamics of the different societies of Delmar and Zareen. This is a book that could be discussed at length. 

Age Range

Now, once again when it comes to small published books, there are no Lexile scores available for Garden of Thorns. I will have to do my best and use my judgement here, and I encourage y’all to use your own as well. There are no inappropriate scenes despite what the Garden represents, and there isn’t any swearing. However, there are some violent scenes. I would say 13 and up to be on the safe side…you all know by now that I always err on the side of caution! But I actually feel comfortable giving this one to my niece to read, and I think she would like it. I don’t have a physical copy, but if I did, I would be more than happy to lend it out.

End Result

I liked this a lot. I was on the fence with four and five stars…and the only real reason I went with what I went with is because:

  1. There are no half-stars and 
  2. There needs to be a sequel to explain some things I still have questions about

So, I give Garden of Thorns ★★★★☆. Or in other, Stephanie-rating-land words…

So, are you intrigued? Does that cover pull you in? Or maybe the wicked Garden? I’m clamoring for a sequel so here’s hoping!

What are YOU reading, my little bloggerinos? 

73 thoughts on “Garden of Thorns – Amber Mitchell (Review)

    1. Maybe I overdid it bc I was trying to keep the important secret a secret. Basically they are dancer slaves and she escapes and runs to the people who are rebels. They take her captive. Love ensues. It’s really quite good.
      Hope that makes it a little better! Sorry about the info dump! 😳

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ohh, You don’t have to apologize at all! I think I’m the one who didn’t express herself clearly, I just wanted to say that I feel that reading this book would be a bit harder for me, because I’m one of those lazy readers, who don’t like to imagine too much when reading.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh…I get ya!!
      Yeah, then it makes sense to skip it then. I really liked it, but I like plot-heavy books.
      I’m reading another one now so hopefully I’ll have another to share soon. And I’ll be having a giveaway for a book here at the end of the month, so keep an eye out! 😉😘

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Whoa! Do you get confused by their names? Rose and Ferns and Garden and Wilted!! OMG.. I’m trying so hard to follow your review but all of these names, which I love how easy it is to pronounce, just doesn’t go well on this book. It sounds so complicated somehow. I did enter in a Goodreads giveaway for this book but I don’t think I want to read it.. Great review though! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s because it’s “the Garden.” The Flowers are the dancers and the Wilteds are the ones who get the punishments. There’s only two names that really stick out, Rose (the main character) and Fern (her best friend and the one who is punished for Rose’s mistakes). I really liked it. But it is plot-heavy.
      If you win it, send it my way then, lol!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Some people have been saying they find it confusing so I’m glad you liked it!
      I think you would like the book too…she’s a very sympathetic character: abused and wary and with a big heart. I loved her and I loved the idea of The Garden…so creepy but good execution. 😘

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review for this book Stephanie, it has a gorgeous cover, which is normally the first thing that catches my eye, but the blurb also sounds really interesting as well so this may have to be one I add to my to-read list. It sounds like there are a lot of controversial topics discussed throughout this book but it also sounds like it was well written and handled throughout as well.
    I hope this book gets a sequel, especially if it needs one to answer the questions you still have about it! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I certainly hope so too! It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but it ends where another installment would naturally pick up. Without a plan for one, I would be okay with the ending, but I would still have some questions…but I guess I could live without the answers. The cover is gorgeous, isn’t it? 😍
      I think you’d like this one…I could see a three or four star review at least from you: because even if it’s not your type of book for some reason, the plot is interesting enough to keep you going!
      There’s a Goodreads giveaway I entered for this as I would love a physical one just to own…I got the file as a PDF and those are a pain to read! 😫

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are a few books I’ve read like that as well, a sequel isn’t necessary but it would be nice to have one just to answer all the questions left over. Here’s hoping you get one, and soon as well! 😀
        Well in that case I’ll definitely add it to my to-read list, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed you win the GR giveaway as well. It’s always nice to have physical copies of books this gorgeous! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I’d love my library to be filled with beautiful books. I’m tempted even sometimes just to buy horrible books with pretty covers bc it’s like art on my shelf! 😂😂😂
      I did go to Goodwill on the way home from the dentist yesterday and came across a copy of Elixir by Hillary Duff…and I bought it for $.60!! I mean, super cheap and the cover is pretty…but a book by Duff? I can’t imagine it being any good…soon Britney Spears will write a YA title! I know that the two Kardashian younger sisters wrote one! 🤢
      Eww. But it’s so pretty, so it’s half-eww. I’ll now have to read it to see if it’s a complete abomination. 😂🤣😅

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I love seeing my bookshelves filled with pretty books. I don’t think I’ve ever felt the urge to buy a book because of the cover if it was bad. Maybe that just means I haven’t found the right cover yet! 😀
        Wow that is a good deal. And hey you never know until you try it, it could be a really good read but I actually wasn’t aware she’d even written a book. Still for $0.60 you cant really go wrong can you?

        Liked by 1 person

    3. I saw it at the library and was thinking I would never read it…and now I own it. There’s only one pretty book that I hated but still would love for the cover, and that’s Shadows of the Forest. But only if it was free, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Another book I’m going to have to add to my TBR! I love the whole concept of it. It sounds like it goes a bit into some important topics too. Also, that cover. I swear Stephanie you always find the books with the most beautiful covers. 😍😍
    Great review as always! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you!! I now have a Pinterest board filled with great beautiful book covers! 😍❤️😍❤️😍❤️😍
    This one is interesting. The Garden concept is very creative. I’m so glad this sounds like something you would like bc it sounded like that to me, too!! 😉


  5. That’s awesome that you’ve been reading so many great books lately! This one seems like no exception, and it sounds great! This is a B&TB retelling, correct? Or I’m making that up? I absolutely love the cover. I didn’t except it to be so dense in terms of issues covered in the story. Which is fantastic. I’m glad you enjoyed this book, Stephanie!

    Wonderful review! Have a lovely week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I appreciate you stopping by!
      I thought it was a Retelling as well…but it’s not. It’s a whole new story! I love retellings and I am addicted to them! Seriously addicted! 😂😂😂
      I’ve been on a good streak so I’m crossing my fingers 🤞 that it continues!


  6. That cover is definitely gorgeous and seems very much appropriate after reading the main synopsis. I am glad this was a success for you. We cannot complain about reading too many good books 😉

    I have to ask,, the book touches on a relevant but difficult topic, sex trafficking and you say age 13 to be safe, so that means it is not very graphic? Curious as to how the author tackled this for a younger audience. My daughter would never read about it (but she is a sensitive kid). I find it fascinating when authors can approach such delicate situations in a way that incorporates a larger audience. And sex trafficking is a real problem. Young children need to be aware of the dangers.

    Excellent review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. it truly was a good read! 😊😘
      So it’s never stated that the Garden girls sleep with the customers. They dance, scantily-clad, for the patrons. There’s a line that says some customers (I don’t recall the exact quote) get private dances when they pay more. It’s technically sex trafficking but I would also consider it just human trafficking in general. The girls are abducted or purchased, and then they are made to entertain patrons by dancing and performing. My first thought was like a traveling strip club, but clothes aren’t removed.
      So it’s more PG-13 and less R if you know what I mean…
      Good questions, though!
      I hope I answered that well. It’s easier when in person than over the internet.
      Glad you liked the review! Really want to own this one!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It is amazing! I have to admit, it blew me away though I need more!!
      I am a big fan of hers now. I have always tended to love Entangled’s books, though. They are a good smaller imprint. I hope more ppl will read this one now! 😉


    1. It’s hard to explain: essentially, there’s a Garden (that’s what it’s called) and the girls are dancers. The “Flowers” dance but to avoid scars, the “Wilteds” get the punishments. The Flowers have to look their best to dance, you know?
      Rose never tries to escape bc she has a secret that the Gardener is threatening to tell if she does. Plus, he will take out her escape on the other girls.
      When her friend is killed, she decides she’s going to escape and free them all. She takes someone hostage…but the guy she picks to take hostage from the audience is a wanted man…so it doesn’t help. So she has to flee.
      The wanted man doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that she chose him out of the audience to be a hostage, so he takes her to his group and eventually she begins to trust them.
      Is that better? Because other ppl have said it was confusing so I’m trying to break it down a little more. I enjoyed it so I might not have explained it well. That’s on me.
      And the cover is so pretty, lol!! 😅


    2. I’ve never read The Whipping Boy…but if it’s about abuse and child slavery, then yes? 🤣😉
      I think you’d like it…it’s hard to tell what you like in YA bc you read a lot of classic literature and I would think you would want a challenging read…still trying to get a read on your tastes! 😊


    3. Oh, I know you do!
      If you like YA fantasy with a tough MC and a scarred sexy love interest, you’ll like this. The only downside is that it ends right when it could get exciting. So I hope there’s a sequel!


  7. So I’m REALLY upset right now, because I just realized I have not been getting email notifications when you post like I should be! So I’m so sorry I haven’t been commenting on your posts. I haven’t been seeing them. I think I need to just start using my Reader in the app instead. Anyway, this is a GREAT review. I love how thoroughly you discuss classroom appropriateness, and I think this book sounds fascinating. I’ll definitely be checking it out now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      That happened to me, too! I usually get email notifications but every once in awhile, I’ll find out the box isn’t checked or randomly all notifications will have the blocked box checked. I hate that!
      I’m just glad you found it now! I figure ppl get busy when they have a successful blog like you! 😘
      Glad you liked the review! Got my first giveaway coming up here really soon so that will be fun!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. SUPER frustrating! Haha, I appreciate you saying that, but it’s totally not that successful, and it would never be so successful that reading my friend’s posts wouldn’t be a priority. That’s exciting you’re doing a giveaway though! Can’t wait for details!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Awww, that’s what I love about you!
      I think your blog is awesome! Makes me want to start drinking! 😂🙌
      Who would’ve thought we would be closer on Twitter than on our blogs? I never thought Twitter would introduce me to someone as awesome as you!
      Smooches, my darling! 😘❤️😘❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha! Oh, I just laughed out loud. Now, I’m driving people to drinking! But yes, I’m so glad we’ve become friends! And also so glad I figured out I was missing your posts, so I won’t anymore! Internet hugs!!! ❤️❤️❤️

        Liked by 1 person

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  9. This sounds like such a different book with an ABSOLUTELY BREATH-TAKING COVER! I saw it around, but I was a little hesitant to put it on the TBR but it definitely is now!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! I’m so glad you’re going to give it a try! And Amber is super awesome possum.
      I really really really hope you like it too. The book def needs a sequel, but other than that I loved every min of it.
      And the cover…makes me melt! 😍❤️


  10. This was a great review! I like that you pinpoint elements worth discussing. I was quite surprised that you mentioned sex trafficking, yet it sounds like a very accessible book for younger folks (like you niece). Glad you enjoyed it nonetheless! Hopefully the sequel answers the questions that were left lingering in the first. 🙂

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I certainly hope so too! I don’t know if I can handle waiting to see if one will be published or not. 😫
      The sex trafficking is a lot more like human trafficking bc they are made to dance (sex is implied but never stated), but the biggest problem of all is that the girls are held against their wills. It’s a very good story. Very creative and the MC is strong.
      Hope you get a chance to peep it out!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Both the cover and the synopsis sound fantastic, to be honest. I’m a huge sucker for this type of romance and I can’t just say no to it hahaha The story also sounds unique and intricate enough to grab my attention for a long while. So I’ll definitely add this to my TBR.
    Great post, Stephanie! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I hope you do read this one! I’m a big fan of this book! I really want a sequel bc there is so much more to explore! I’m so glad you enjoy my reviews bc I enjoy yours soo much!!
      It’s good to see you on my comments and you always make me smile!!


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