Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

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Image and blurb from Amazon:

“A striking fantasy tale of dark magic, dangerous politics, and discovering your true self—perfect for fans of Game of Thrones, An Ember in the Ashes and A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics—and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.”


thoughts

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I pretty much read it in one sitting which is always a good sign. While the plot originally seemed fairly typical of a YA novel (kingdom overrun by evil, young unlikely protagonist fights to reclaim her kingdom, etc) there were quite a few twists and turns throughout the story that I enjoyed.

It took me a while to catch on to the structure of the world in Snow Like Ashes, but once I did I appreciated the world-building. There are eight kingdoms, four Season and four Rhythm. Many of the cities are a play on the names of months such as Jannuari and Abril. Each kingdom has a magical conduit that helps ensure prosperity for the people (good health, agriculture, etc). The way magic was incorporated into the world was clever. It was used in concert with nature to provide for the kingdoms, which is fitting with the structure of the world!

Yes, there is a lot of information shared when you first start reading but I felt it was necessary to understand the workings of Meira’s world and the relationships between the kingdoms. Meira’s kingdom is Winter, and sixteen years ago they were conquered. There are not many Winterians left but they are planning on fighting to retake their kingdom. Mather is the heir, and Meira’s childhood friend. She also has feelings for him.

Again, this has a lot of elements of a typical YA fantasy plot, but pretty early on the book takes a surprising turn and things really speed up from there!

I really liked Meira as a character. She was an exciting, kick-ass heroine. I like that she was so overeager and naive in the beginning. She desperately wanted to be “someone” in her kingdom. She wanted to do anything possible to help, when she was often too young and inexperienced to go on the missions. This mindset made for some great character development later in the story when Meira is forced to face some truly difficult decisions and is faced with the possible extinction of her kingdom. Also, those chakram are awesome! I loved seeing her fight with such a unique weapon.

 

So then there’s that love triangle…

I actually didn’t mind it, and I honestly think it added to the story. Typically, I am not a huge fan of love triangles because the first love is the young childhood friend who never has a chance when the protagonist meets her new, more interesting love interest. That was not the case in this book! Both Mather and Theron are complex, wonderful characters and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. I hope there is more to see from both of them!

I even loved the fact that later on in the book when things start to calm down, Meria notices that the two boys are still jealous, and how happy she is that that’s all she has to worry about. I definitely get annoyed in some books when something huge is happening (like the fate of a kingdom) and the girl is sitting there dreaming about her man like its the end of the world. The romance here was appropriate and gave us more insight into each of the characters.

Normally when there is a love triangle, I am a fan of the new guy. While I REALLY did enjoy Theron, I loved Mather as well! He is such a beautifully complex character and I am not ready to give up on him yet. His relationship with Meira is complicated and I think they both have a lot of growing to do. But he is definitely not this flat, annoying childhood friend character that we so often see in YA books. Poor Mather goes through so much in this book and I feel for him! I think he will have a huge impact on future books.

I truly enjoyed this story and I while I was pleased with some of the directions the plot took, I still felt as if it lacked that extra step of originality. However it does have excellent character development and world-building. I am not desperately running to pick up the next book but it is definitely on my TBR! 🙂

4/5

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Review: The Bird and The Sword by Amy Harmon

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Image and blurb from Amazon: 

“Swallow, daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would sell his soul and lose his son to the sky.
My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.
But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?”


 

thoughts

This book got great reviews and I was excited to start reading it. Also, the cover is beautiful! I was not really sure what to expect other than it being a fantasy, as the synopsis does not give away much information. One of the first things I noticed about the book is that the writing is wonderful. Harmon has excellent pacing and I enjoyed the story so much more due to the beautiful, lyrical writing. I love how the story is framed with the idea of the power of words. In this particular story they have a magical quality, but we also see how Lark learns the value of words by learning to read and write. She sees power in words and that is an important theme throughout the story.

Our main character is Lark, a mute narrator. Though she is quiet, she has no trouble communicating with those around her. She is a wonderful narrator and we get plenty of insight through her internal dialogue. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lark’s character development throughout the story. She changes from someone who has been silent and caged for most of her life to someone who learns about herself and her gifts. She learns to use her words in a very powerful way.

Another major character is the king, Tiras. He is a complicated character as well. He has an unwavering loyalty to his kingdom but is also dealing with an internal struggle that prevents him from protecting the people of Jeru. While  I did enjoy Tiras and Lark’s interactions, I found their romance to be lacking. They definitely had their cute moments, but overall I felt as if the relationship was more strategic than anything else.

Other than Tiras and Lark, there were not any other well-developed characters. While I enjoyed learning about other characters such as Kjell, Lark’s father and Boojohni, they were not developed enough and they came across as very two-dimensional.

The plot itself was multi-layered and complex. On the surface, Lark and Tiras face a very physical threat to the kingdom. The story is also very much a coming of age/self-discovery story for both Lark and Tiras. I loved the symbolism of the title with the story, it has so many meanings! Both Lark and Tiras are caged (in a way) and are searching for a way to be free. Tiras wants to protect his kingdom, Lark’s father wants to be king and protects Lark’s life but also holds her back. I believe Harmon intended for there to be multiple meanings for the bird and the sword in the title. I also enjoyed the twists at the end as well as Lark’s revelations about herself and the power of her words.

Finally, I really enjoyed some aspects of the world-building although I wish this too was developed more. Towards the beginning of the book we learn about the history of the changers, tellers, spinners and healers but that was all we learned about them. Why were the abilities so varied in different people? Why did some people seem to have multiple abilities? Why were some people stronger than others? Some of these questions were not fully explained, just accepted as fact in the story. There was a lot of beautiful dialogue about these gifts but nobody explained it further.

I was overall quite satisfied with the story and will definitely be picking up another Amy Harmon book in the future! I do wish there was more development from the supporting characters and the world-building, but that is mostly because I was so interested in Lark’s world and I wanted to learn more. It is a lovely book and I would definitely recommend.

4/5

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Kindle Deal: An Ember in the Ashes

I am always a fan of great deals on my kindle. An Ember in the Ashes is now $2.99 for the ebook! I’m pretty sure I bought it for wayyy more than that. If you haven’t read it yet, you should definitely pick it up. You can see my review of it here. The sequel comes out soon and it looks AMAZING!


an-ember-in-the-ashes-by-sabaa-tahirFrom Amazon: “Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.”

 

Teaser Tuesday #1

 

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

This is my first time trying out a meme and this one seemed fun! I actually just finished the Bird and The Sword but since I haven’t posted the review yet, here is my teaser: 

“She was a Teller and her words were magic. She spoke and the words became life.”

-Pg 11, The Bird and The Sword by Amy Harmon

 

 

 

 

29008738Synopsis (from Amazon):

“Swallow, daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would sell his soul and lose his son to the sky.
My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.
But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?”

Review: Paper Princess by Erin Watt

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Blurb and image from Amazon: 

“From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone. 

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.”


 

thoughts

I picked up this book because I wanted something different than my norm of fantasy. This got some good reviews and I was hoping it would be a fun, sexy read. I was unfortunately very disappointed. Was it entertaining? Yes. Was it enjoyable? Honestly, not really. I know this book got a lot of great reviews and I really tried to love it but I just didn’t. Let me explain:

Ella starts off as this tenacious, fierce character. She’s completely on her own trying to support herself. I liked Ella. She’s tough, but she’s sensitive under that tough exterior. When Callum Royal picks up Ella and claims to be her legal guardian, I was excited to meet the Royal boys.

I don’t know how I expected them to act. I know they all come from a dysfunctional family, and I knew they would all gang up on Ella as the newcomer. So they were all jerks, that’s fine. Ella is smart and sassy and she gets her revenge on them for treating her poorly.

Then she starts crushing hard on Reed. Reed treats her the worst out of all of them, so of course she crushes on Reed. And you know what? Reed is still horrible to her. Sure he has his moments, but overall he is consistently a jerk. And what bothered me most is that Ella completely overlooked that and continued to pursue him. Where was that spunky, independent character I liked so much in the beginning?

Sure, there were some sexy scenes. There were a lot of parties and fights, and yes, it was a fun read. Although, the party scenes were quite unrealistic for high school age kids and I wasn’t a huge fan of how the Royals resorted to physical fights to solve all of their problems.

After I read the ending, I was not surprised. I am also not inclined to pick up the second book when it comes out. If you read this book, I do think you will be entertained! The writing is good and I wanted to learn about the characters. This is definitely not a bad book, I just wasn’t a huge fan on the story line. This was, unfortunately, just not my cup of tea.

2/5

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5 Kindle Deals for Less Than $5

If you are anything like me, you probably spend too much money on books. I love being able to find a great deal on a kindle book that is  also a satisfying read! Here are 5 books that I really enjoyed for less than $5:

1.  Forty Four by Jools Sinclair

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From Amazon:

“Last year after falling through the ice, seventeen-year-old Abby Craig woke up from death.

But she woke into a world she barely recognizes. She can’t see colors, memories have been erased, and her friends all hate her. And then there’s Jesse, who she loves, but who refuses to forgive her the one mistake she made long ago.

Just when she thinks it can’t get any worse, the visions begin. In them, she sees a faceless serial killer roaming the streets. While the police believe that there have been a lot of accidents in town lately, Abby knows differently. And she soon realizes that it’s up to her to find him.

But to stop him, she’ll have to confront more than just the killer. She’ll have to face something else that was lost in those dark waters. The truth. “

While I’ve only read the first few of this 13-book series, I really enjoyed them! Its a great mix of a murder mystery with a paranormal twist.

Kindle price: $0.99


 

2. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

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From Amazon:

“Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can.  

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. There is.
 
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. She’s wrong.”

 

This book is also a gem! It has the feel of a psychological thriller with some paranormal elements. Mara is a great main character and it is exciting learning the mystery of her past along with her.

 

Kindle price: $2.99

3. Angelfall by Susan Ee
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From Amazon:
“It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back. Anything, including making a deal with Raffe, an injured enemy angel. Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco, where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.”

 

This is one of the best post-apocalyptic angel books I have read! Penryn is a fierce main character who will do anything to protect her family. If you haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend it.

 

Kindle price: $3.99


4. The Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan
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From Amazon:

“Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale has one job: protect humans from dangerous magical creatures. It’s a job she’s good at—until her latest assignment, a cute human guy who can somehow see through her faerie glamour, follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild law and risked her future as the top graduate of her class.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the guy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? Not when you factor in evil faeries, long-lost family members, and inconvenient feelings of the romantic kind. Vi is about to find herself tangled up in a dangerous plot—and it’ll take all her training to get out alive. “

 

I know I’ve already written a review about this entire series but I just love it so much! And its FREE for the first book. Vi is a likable, strong heroine and there is some great world-building with an exciting plot. Definitely try this one! You can read my full review on the series here. 

 

Kindle price: FREE $0.00

5. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
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From Amazon:

“Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king–a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do.”

 

I plan on writing a full review for this series eventually because it is AMAZING! I highly recommend the entire trilogy. Elisa’s development throughout this book (and series) is expertly written and probably one of my favorite character transformations.

 

Kindle price: $1.99

Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

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Image and blurb from Amazon:

“About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace- and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dusté and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear—.”


thoughts

 

I enjoyed this book and for the $1.99 ebook version, it is definitely worth the read. Our main character Yelena must become the food taster for the Commander of Ixia and learn to taste any poisons before they get to the Commander. She chooses this path only to escape certain death, but she quickly learns that many other poison tasters previously died on the job. We also briefly learn that Yelena is sentenced to die for killing someone, however as the reader we are not aware of the specific circumstances. This is revealed later on as we learn more about Yelena’s background and character. I appreciated that we learn more about Yelena and her past as the story progresses, rather than getting an info dump at the beginning of the book. It leaves some mystery surrounding her character and kept me reading until I got answers.

What I liked:

  • The poison tasting. I have not read another book with this premise and it was interesting to learn about the different types of poisons, their effects and the daily life of a poison taster (and how important their job is!).
  • Ari and Janco. Yelena meets these two fairly early on and they become her close friends. I enjoyed their witty dialogue and comic relief.  They quickly become Yelena’s protectors and I found their relationship endearing. They added depth to Yelena’s character and enhanced the plot of the story.
  • The plot was fast-paced and exciting. I read it quickly and it held my attention. The writing was simple and straightforward. Not amazing, but good.
  • Commander Ambrose. He is a powerful, no-nonsense leader. At first Yelena fears him, but throughout the book we learn that while his leadership is strict it is also fair. Snyder leaves it up to the reader to decide if this leadership of Ixia is better or worse than the previous monarchy. There were some interesting revelations about his character and I hope to see him more developed in future books!

What I didn’t love:

  • While the poison taster premise was original, it is clouded by other elements as the book progresses. Yelena learns to fight, she discovers she has powerful magic and falls in love. These plot elements are typical of other YA novels and took away from the original poison study premise that I found so interesting.
  • Valek. I liked him in the beginning. He is a hardened, ruthless assassin and I enjoyed his scenes with Yelena as he instructed her on various poisons. While I could see that Snyder was setting up the plot for a relationship, it was still too out of the blue for me. Valek honestly didn’t treat Yelena very well at all, and suddenly they are in love? It was too much, too quickly.
  • I wish all of the characters were more well-developed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about them but never really felt connected to any character.

Overall, this book is definitely worth the read even if it is lacking in some areas. It did end with a huge cliffhanger and I am eager to find out what happens.

3.5/5

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Mini Review: The Creepy Hollow Series by Rachel Morgan

Its been a while since I read this series (I did read it twice though!) but I honestly thought it was wonderful. It is also a great deal for the ebook- book 1 is free, and books 2 + 3 are $3.99 each. The story follows Vi, an aspiring faerie guardian. She wants to graduate her class and join the Guild to protect humans from creatures in her Fae world. This trilogy was well-written, with an exciting plot and well-developed characters. This series is a gem (and a great deal). I was pleasantly surprised!

Book 1: The Faerie Guardian

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Blurb and image from Amazon:

“Enter a hidden world of magic, mystery, action and romance …
Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale has one job: protect humans from dangerous magical creatures. It’s a job she’s good at—until her latest assignment, a cute human guy who can somehow see through her faerie glamour, follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild law and risked her future as the top graduate of her class.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the guy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? Not when you factor in evil faeries, long-lost family members, and inconvenient feelings of the romantic kind. Vi is about to find herself tangled up in a dangerous plot—and it’ll take all her training to get out alive.”


As I mentioned above, I was pleasantly surprised with this book! Vi is an easy character to sympathize with- she’s fierce and determined to be the top of her class. She is also a little lonely- her family is gone and the only person she really cares about is her mentor, Tora. This probably leads her to break the Guild rules and make contact with Nate, a human. While I wasn’t a huge fan of Nate and Violet together, he is a hugely important character in this series. We also meet Ryn in this first installment, although he mostly antagonizes Vi throughout the book until they are forced to work together when he needs her help rescuing a loved one.

This book had the right mix of likable characters and a well-developed world. I loved learning about how the Guardians protected the human realm and how some faeries had extra gifts. After finishing this first book, I happily purchased The Faerie Prince and I was not disappointed!

4/5


Book 2: The Faerie Prince

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Blurb and Image from Amazon: 

“Guardian trainee Violet Fairdale is just weeks away from one of the most important occasions of her life: graduation. After messing up big time by bringing a human into the fae realm, Vi needs to step up her game and forget about Nate if she hopes to graduate as the top guardian of her year. Everything would be fine if she wasn’t forced to partner with Ryn, her ex-friend, ex-enemy, current ‘sort of friend.’ They might be trying to patch up their relationship, but does she really want to spend a week undercover with him for their final assignment? On top of that, the possibly insane Unseelie Prince is still on the loose, free to ‘collect’ as many specially talented faeries as he can find–and Vi is still at the top of his list. Add in faerie queens, enchanted storms, complicated not-just-friends feelings, and a murder within the Guild itself, and graduation is about to become the least of Vi’s problems. “

*Spoilers from Book 1*


This installment was even better than the first. Action-packed with a swoon-worthy romance. If you were unsure about the romance in book 1, you will not be disappointed here! Still reeling from Nate’s betrayal and graduation approaching, Vi is so close to her goal of becoming a guardian. She has one more task to complete and she has to work with Ryn as her partner. I loved seeing Vi’s relationship develop with Ryn- the dialogue was great and we got to see an antagonistic relationship develop into..something more. We also get to see more of Vi’s world in this book with a trip to the Seelie court as well as learn about Vi’s true motivations for wanting to be the top of her class and win this trip. The book also ends with a HUGE cliffhanger and I could not wait to purchase the third.

What I love about this series is that while the main plot seems to be about Violet’s guardian training and graduation from the Guild, Morgan expertly creates a story about something much bigger than Violet and her school. There is this overarching story about the fate of her world and the faerie relations in it. Vi also goes through an incredible transformation through these first two books, and hits a low at the end of book 2. I  was blown away by some of the twists and turns throughout this book. It was an exciting ride!

5/5


Book 3: The Faerie War

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Blurb and image from Amazon: 

“Violet Fairdale is in big trouble. Her home is gone, her beloved forest lies in ruins, the guy she gave her heart to has deserted her—and she doesn’t remember any of it. The powerful Lord Draven is taking over, brainwashing guardians into fighting for him. No one is safe from the evil spreading throughout the fae world. 

As alliances are forged between the remaining free fae, Vi struggles to reclaim her identity and figure out where she belongs in this new world. When someone from her past shows up, life gets more complicated. He brings with him a long-forgotten weapon and an ancient prophecy that places Vi at the center of the fight against Draven. With the future of the fae world at stake, can Vi carry out the prophecy’s instructions before it’s too late?”

*Includes spoilers from Books 1+2*


We ended the last book with Vi choosing to erase her memory, and the first part of this book is truly heartbreaking as a reader because we know what she lost. She is now with a new community of Reptiscillas as she tries to recover her memory. This book is told with alternating viewpoints with Ryn, and I really enjoyed seeing things from his perspective. When they finally meet up, I loved watching Ryn and Vi trying to mend their relationship it was both parts heartbreaking and adorable.

This final installment is focused on the threat of Lord Draven and his brainwashed army. I don’t want to give away too much, but it was expertly done. There are no one-dimensional villains in this series and that makes it both exciting and unpredictable. This was a fantastic finale and as soon as I finished I was tempted to start the series over again!

 

5/5

Review: An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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Image and blurb from Amazon: 

“Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.”


 

thoughts

I really enjoyed this book! It had the right mix of an exciting plot with well developed characters.

Laia has grown up hating the Masks. She watches as they come arrest her brother Darin and murder her grandparents. In order to get her brother back, she joins the resistance as a spy and infiltrates Blackcliff (the school that trains Masks). As a slave in Blackcliff, Laia is aware of the cruel treatment she will receive and yet she does not hesitate in her decision if  it means saving her brother. I loved this about Laia- her unwavering loyalty to her brother even if she is aware sneaking into Blackcliff could kill her.

Elias is a Mask in training at Blackcliff. He has doubts about becoming a Mask and does not agree with their cruel ways. Early on, he has thoughts about deserting even though it would mean a death sentence if caught. This is further complicated by his best friend Helene. Helene was such an interesting character! Despite Elias having his doubts against Blackcliff, Helene is completely indoctrinated and loves the idea of becoming a Mask. Although you can hardly blame her for following the ideas and values she has been taught her entire life. Helene and Elias’s relationship is complicated- they are very close, but their fundamentally different beliefs make things difficult.

I really enjoyed the alternating viewpoints between Elias and Laia, it helps the reader  sympathize with both sides of the conflict. I also liked the way Tahir handled Elias and Laia’s growing relationship. It was very realistic considering they were on different sides.

I didn’t enjoy Keenan as a character, I felt like he was kind of a forced love interest for Laia and wasn’t necessary to the plot of the story.  If you took out all of his scenes, the story would have flowed fine without him.

And finally, that ENDING! I was happy to see that a sequel will be released very soon (August 30th!)  and I can’t wait to read it! 🙂 Definitely recommend An Ember in the Ashes- it was a great read.

4/5

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Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

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Image and blurb from Amazon:

“Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, one of those souls vanished, and no one knows why.

When Ana travels to the capital city of Heart, its citizens treat her as a nosoul, suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?”


thoughts

 

I picked up this book after finishing Orphan Queen (which was a great read!). I wanted to try out another Meadows book and was attracted by the beautiful cover and unique premise. Incarnate is a very different book than I am used to. The world centers around a city called Heart. Every person in Heart has been reincarnated over and over again until Ana, a newsoul or nosoul, is born. Ana leaves her abusive mother Li, finding her purpose in Heart as well as developing a close relationship with Sam.

The idea behind this world is fantastic and mysterious. I love the idea of reincarnation and Meadows definitely introduced some ideas that I will continue to think about after reading this book. She also brings up interesting ideas regarding sexuality. Each of the souls can be born into a male or female body, and we get to explore some of the past lives of these characters. However I feel like this idea as well as the dynamics of this society were not explored enough. For example, someone who you had a relationship with in a past life could be your parent in another life? We also didn’t really explore the idea that these children were born with all of their knowledge of their past lives. Does it ever become too overwhelming with all these memories? While I did not get as many answers as I hoped I would by the end, I am interested enough to continue reading.

Ana bothered me in the beginning. To be fair, she was so physically and emotionally abused for her entire life that I was surprised she could function normally at all. I got tired of reading about how she was so overly-defensive all the time. Sometimes I just wanted to shake some sense into her.

I also did enjoy the relationship between Sam and Ana. It was a slow build up and very sweet at times.

I enjoyed many aspects of this book and some parts had me thinking, but some things just didn’t sit right with me. I didn’t feel as if some of the characters’ reactions matched how the author characterized them. I know it must be incredibly difficult to write 5000 year old wisdom into characters, but it is unfortunate when it falls flat.

3/5

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