Book Review: Ash Princess

Title: Ash Princess
Author: Laura Sebastian
Genre: Young Adult-Fantasy
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Pages: 432
Buy This Book: Amazon/Audible (affiliate link)

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“Something in me is waking up. This is not my home. I am not their prize. I am not content with the life they have so kindly spared.”

I’m going to be honest here; I picked this book almost entirely based on the cover alone. It is STUNNING! So I’m going to start off with a kudos to the designers for their excellent cover art design.

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Now for the actual book… When I first started reading Ash Princess I wasn’t sure if I would like it, at least not nearly as much as I did. To start with, the use of the terms Prinz and Prinzessin really bothered me (I later learned that they are German terms and tied in with the term Kaiser, which means “emperor”, but initially I thought the author was just trying to be unique). I was also worried that the book was going to be predictable and full of YA fantasy tropes. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is truly an original, engrossing, and fully immersive read! It does have a love triangle, which is a trope I usually hate, but it was well executed and didn’t take over the storyline in any way. The plot also had plenty of twists and turns, enough to keep it from being predictable or cliche.

The world building in this book was great and I liked the concept of the gods, the spirit gems/magic, and the guardians. I also really liked that there were a lot of dark aspects to it, things that we don’t often see in YA books. The villain of this story (the Kaiser) is written as a very evil and cruel man. There are scenes describing Theodosia being whipped and physically/mentally abused, along with scenes detailing different characters’ deaths and, at one point, even implied pedophilia. While reading those scenes was definitely uncomfortable and a bit unsettling, they add a layer of depth and honesty to the story, which adds to the overall reading experience in my opinion.

One thing I didn’t like about this book, however, is the fact that I didn’t really connect with the main character, Theodosia, as much as I would have liked to. I can’t put a finger on it, but there’s just something about her that I find rather annoying and made it hard for me to become emotionally attached to her character. I’m hoping that will change over the rest of the series.

Overall, I found Ash Princess to be a solid start to a new series and I will definitely read the next book when it comes out. I’m giving it a 4/5 score.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

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WWW Wednesday: December 27, 2017

Christmas has come & gone and it’s time for WWW Wednesday again!

WWW Wednesdays

Hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words
(formerly hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading)

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

To join in this meme, just answer these three questions and post the link to your responses on Sam’s blog and in the comments below.


I am currently reading:

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

 

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GoodReads Synopsis:

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown and thinks he’s put his past behind him, but then he gets a letter in the mail containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank–until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

This is an ARC that I received from Blogging for Books. I just started it, but I am so excited to see if it’s as good as it looks! The description is definitely intriguing and almost all of the reviews I’ve seen so far have been positive, so I have high hopes for it.


I just finished reading:

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

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GoodReads Synopsis:

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed “Ash Princess.” Pretending to be empty-headed and naive when she’s not enduring brutal whippings, she pushes down all other thoughts but one: Keep the Kaiser happy and he will keep you safe.

When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can’t keep her feelings and memories pushed down any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser’s warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn’t expect to develop feelings for the Prinz. Or for her rebel allies to challenge her friendship with the one person who’s been kind to her throughout the last hopeless decade: her heart’s sister, Cress.

Cornered into impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she’s willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she’s willing to sacrifice to become queen.

This is another ARC, one that I received from NetGalley this time. This book really surprised me! I was expecting it to be somewhat predictable and full of YA fantasy tropes, but instead, it was rather original, highly imaginative, and thoroughly engrossing. Overall, it was an excellent read and a solid start to the series. And the cover art is simply stunning! I’m still working on my full review, but should have it finished and posted soon.


What I’m reading next:

All That Was by Karen Rivers

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GoodReads Synopsis:

Piper and Sloane were best friends. They grew up together, from childhood to first love, and in spite of how different they were, their friendship was supposed to last forever. That is, until Piper caught Sloane kissing her boyfriend—and just days later, Piper was found dead, washed ashore on a beach. Sloane was torn with grief and guilt. How do you make amends for hurting someone you love, if that person is no longer around? And how can you ever move on and love again?

Yet another ARC, and also from NetGalley. I got a little behind schedule with my reading over Christmas, but I’m slowly making my way through the stack of ARC’s I have to read.


So that’s my WWW Wednesday for this week. What have YOU read this week?

Merry Christmas!

This is going to be a short post, but I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and to those who don’t, I hope you have a wonderful day however you choose to spend it! For me personally, today is going to be a day for making memories, visiting family and friends, and eating delicious food. ❤️🎄😋 I have a couple new ARC’s waiting to be reviewed and I was nominated for the 2017 Liebster Award, so I will be tackling those posts once the holiday festivities wrap up. In the meantime, I would love to hear how you are all spending your holidays!

Book Review: Only The Rain

Title: Only The Rain
Author: Randall Silvis
Genre: Thriller-Suspense
Release Date: January 1, 2018
Pages: 186
Buy This Book: Amazon/Audible (affiliate link)

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“That’s what they really did to us, Spence. Every single one of us. Every war they’ve ever made us fight. They start by shaving our heads, but it’s our souls they destroy.”

If you’re looking for a thriller to keep you on the edge of your seat, you need to check out Only The Rain by Randall Silvis. I couldn’t put this book down! It is a quick read, but very well written, action-packed, and heart-pounding suspenseful.

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I also really enjoyed the realism that was worked into this book. The main character, Russell, is likable, a hard worker and family man, but flawed in a very honest and down-to-earth way. His actions (and reactions to the subsequent consequences) are all realistic and believable. It almost feels like reading a true story.

“What makes us act like such animals sometimes, Spence? I don’t want to be an animal. I want to be a man. I want to be a good husband and father and somebody who doesn’t flinch when he looks at himself in the mirror.”

The writing style used in Only The Rain is very unique. The entire book is written from Russell’s point of view – not as a typical narrative with chapters and obvious stopping points, but instead as a series of emails to his old war buddy. It is essentially one long stream of consciousness; he only stops an email when he gets interrupted while writing it, and then he picks right back up where he was at the start of the next email. Reading this book was almost like listening to a friend tell a story. I haven’t seen this tactic used before, but I was surprised by how much I liked it. It makes it really easy to get caught up in the storytelling and finish the book in one sitting like I did.

I chose Only The Rain as my Kindle First choice for December and I’m glad I did. I would definitely recommend this book. I’m giving it a 4/5 score.

Friday’s Book Excerpts

To all of the Monday-to-Friday workers, TGIF!

This Friday, I decided to share book excerpts with:

  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current book, as well as any first impressions or initial thoughts they might have. 
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an ebook), find one or more interesting sentences, and post them.

It’s great timing since I finished Renegades this morning and I’m getting ready to move on to my next read. I just found out about the controversy regarding Carve the Mark (sometimes I swear I live under a rock!), so I’ve decided to skip over that book. Instead, my next read is going to be Only the Rain by Randall Silvis.

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Synopsis from Amazon:

When family man and war veteran Russell loses his job as a quarry worker, his life suddenly seems more like a waking nightmare than a chance to finally live the American dream. Facing bills, a new baby, and a bone-dry bank account, he’s got nothing left to lose. Russell comes to the rescue of a naked stranger dancing in the rain, and what was supposed to be a straightforward good deed turns into a spiral of danger. When Russell finds an enticing stash of money in the woman’s house, he knows the cash could be his only hope. Taking just a handful will save his family’s future.

His “victimless crime” seems to be anything but risky—until the criminals he robbed come looking for their dirty money. Russell’s ready to surrender it, but then his daughter gets sick…and he must choose between saving her or giving the devils their due. Someone’s going to pay. The question is, how much?


Book Beginning:

“Hey Spence.

It’s been a long time, brother. Not that I haven’t thought about you since leaving you back there in the sandbox with the camel spiders and sand vipers. A couple days ago I read an article that said Iraq is the most dangerous place in the world, and not just because of the animals. I guess we can attest to that, huh?”


The Friday 56:

“Sometimes I look at her and feel like I’ve never seen her before. Like I’ve been dropped in from outer space or something. Like I’ve woken up in somebody else’s life.”


Initial thoughts:

I’ve never read any books by this author so I’m not quite sure what to expect. However, my curiosity is definitely piqued. I’m interested in finding out more about Spence, the narrator (his brother?? I’m assuming it’s Russell, the main character from the synopsis), and what they did in Iraq… Why can they attest to Iraq being the most dangerous place in the world? And why did he leave Spence behind? Was it just a matter of his deployment ending, or was it something more sinister? I’m excited to start reading and find out!

WWW Wednesday: December 13, 2017

Another week has gone by and it’s time for WWW Wednesday again!

WWW Wednesdays

Hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words
(formerly hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading)

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

To join in this meme, just answer these three questions and post the link to your responses on Sam’s blog and in the comments below.


I am currently reading:

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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It has to be fate. Just after I posted about how much I love Marissa Meyer on Monday, I received an email from the library saying that my Renegades copy was available. Perfect timing, am I right? I’m only a couple chapters into it so far, but I’m already hooked!


I just finished reading:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

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After finishing Heartless (Marissa Meyer’s prequel to this book), I decided to re-read the original classic story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. This will always be one of my favorite fairy tales!


What I’m reading next:

Carve The Mark by Veronica Roth

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I am horrible about planning ahead with my reading since I’m a hardcore mood reader (I make my reading choices based on my mood that day). However, I still have this on loan from the library and I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, so this will most likely be my next pick.


That’s my WWW Wednesday for this week. What have YOU read this week?

Book Review: Heartless

Title: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Fantasy-Young Adult
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Pages: 464
Buy This Book: Amazon/Audible (affiliate link)

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“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

“Fascinating, isn’t it, how often heroic and foolish turn out to be one and the same.”

Marissa Meyer is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. It started with the Lunar Chronicles (which I read this summer and absolutely LOVED!) and now Heartless, which is an absolute masterpiece. I loved everything about this book. It’s incredibly well-written. It stays true to the imaginative world created by Lewis Carroll, without relying on the reader’s prior knowledge of the world, but also without being overly redundant for readers who are already familiar with the world. It fits in beautifully with Carroll’s work but is still a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing stand-alone book. Whether you are a fan of Alice in Wonderland or not, I highly recommend this book to you.

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Personally, I have been a fan of the Alice in Wonderland books and movies franchise since childhood. However, Heartless made me see all of the Wonderland characters in an entirely new light. Even though I knew that she would ultimately become the Queen of Hearts, I still found myself yearning for a happy ending for the Catherine we meet at the beginning of the book. Her transition from a sweet, simple girl to a raving mad, evil queen (known for her favorite phrase “Off with their heads!!”) is tragic but still relatable and believable.

And can we just take a minute to talk about Jest, who’s absolutely perfect (but not in a sickeningly obvious way)? ❤️❤️

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Seriously, you all need to read this book! I’m giving it an easy 5/5 score.


Have you read Heartless? If so, what would you rate it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

WWW Wednesday: December 6, 2017

My first book blog meme! (insert happy dance)

I decided to do WWW Wednesday.

WWW Wednesdays

Hosted by: Taking on a World of Words
(formerly hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading)

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Okay, so here goes…


I am currently reading:

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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This has been on my TBR list forever, but I just recently picked up a copy at a library sale so I’m finally getting around to reading it. So far I really like it and I’m excited to watch the movie after I finish.

Side note: Yes, I’m one of those people who refuse to watch a movie until after I’ve read the book it’s based on. But in my defense, the book is always better and I don’t want it spoiled by watching the movie first!


I just finished reading:

When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.

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This book was in my Recommended Books from Amazon and the description sounded pretty good, so I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did! The story pulled me right in from the start and I read through it in just a couple sittings. I’ve given it a 4/5 score. Definitely worth checking out.


What I’m reading next:

This is where you guys come in! I have two books on loan from the library right now. They are:

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

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…and…

Carve The Mark by Veronica Roth

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Both are YA books (I’ve been on a YA kick lately), but they’re obviously very different and I can’t decide which one I want to read first. Help me choose! Leave your suggestion in the comments below.

A Work In Progress

Hey, guys! Fair warning – I’m going to be switching some things around on here. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking that this is still a baby blog and I haven’t even gotten a handle on what I’ve been doing so far… But I swear this will be worth it!

I decided last week that I wanted to set a strict blog schedule and stick to it. Being the super nerdy person I am, I started off by researching what other book bloggers use for their blog schedules. I think it’s fair to say I was not expecting to find so much content I was missing! Book blog tags… Memes… Lists… Discussion posts… Blog tours… Author interviews… Here I’ve spent the first month of my blog posting almost entirely book reviews, which as it turns out, are actually the WORST kind of blog posts if I want people to actually read and enjoy my blog. Yes, reviews are usually necessary, especially for bloggers who like getting ARC’s like I do. But they also tend to do poorly on stats and do not normally prompt much, if any, conversation/discussion. The other types of posts? Those are the bread and butter of the blog. That’s where I can really express myself individually, start discussions, and make people want to follow me to read more of what I have to say.

I have a lot to learn. 

So here’s where the changes come in… I don’t think I’m ready to set a strict blog schedule yet. Instead, I’m going to start experimenting with different types of blog posts first. Memes, tags, lists, discussion posts, you name it. There’s going to be a little bit of a learning period as I try these out and get to know which content works best for me. Don’t worry, I will still continue posting book reviews as well; I’m going to aim for at least one review a week. However, these other types of blog posts will help fill in gaps, like when my life gets too chaotic or when I’m re-reading an old favorite (yasss Harry Potter!).

I might also make some changes to the look of the blog – adding my own graphics, different backgrounds/fonts, etc. I’m still playing with that idea for now, though, so I’ll have to keep you updated.

As usual, I welcome any and all feedback! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.