Book Review: Snow Like Ashes

snow like ashes cover
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

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, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom 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. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds 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.

I came into this book expecting a lot–and I was thoroughly amazed. I don’t read a lot of YA fantasy, because a lot of it doesn’t sound appealing to be. But this book caught my eye. I loved how the Winter people were the good guys for once. I looove winter, and cold, and snow; I mean, who doesn’t like watching snow fall? It’s just beautiful. Part of what made this book so wonderful was the description of the world around Meira; there was enough description to make the world seem real, and very beautiful, but not enough to bog down the story. I loved the little glimpses of the different kingdoms’ cultures, especially Autumn’s. They sounded almost elvish. I hope to see more of them in book 2.

The characters also shine in this book. Though part warrior/soldier, Meira was also funny and compassionate. She didn’t come off as whiny, and she really learned how to put the needs of others before her own wants. I also really liked Mather and Theron. Though there is a bit of a love triangle, romance took the backseat in this story. There were parts where I almost felt there could’ve been a bit more romance, but I’m guessing it will be more prominent in book 2. Meira’s two love interests don’t fall into the typical “bad boy/good boy” trope, and honestly…I can’t really choose between them. Well, maybe I’m leaning slightly towards Theron. He’s an artist/poet/writer at heart, but is also a prince. He was intelligent, artistic, and overall selfless. He was awesome. The villain, Angra, could’ve been a bit more developed, but hopefully we’ll get more background on him in book 2. I find it funny that his name is one letter away from being Angry…On the subject of names, Sir’s name tripped me up. I thought it was some weird fantasy name that should be pronounced “sear” as in searing a steak. But actually it’s just sir like as in Sir Launcelot. Huh.

The plot was overall good; there were certain aspects I saw coming, but it was cleverly done. And the magic was interesting; it was explained enough to make sense, but not too much bore me. The romance and language were clean; violence and gore weren’t bad either.

So yeah…I kind of really loved this book. What about you? Have you read Snow Like Ashes? And what is your favorite season? Do you like snow?

A Reader’s Unsung Heroes

There are lots of blogs dedicated to reading and books and reviews and more reading.  But I think we readers often forget to appreciate a very important thing…

Bookmarks!  Bookmarks are awesome.  They hold our place in books and can be pretty much anything flat, papery or otherwise.   They also have a habit of disappearing when you need them most…

But anyway, I like using bookmarks.  I also enjoy making bookmarks out of cute tags.  It’s a great way to turn cute, useless junk into something useful.  Here are some of my favorites:

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And one of my favorite bookmarks,  an Everblaze bookmark I got after pre-ording the book:

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I also have some special bookmarks, like one my parents got from Ephesus when on a cruise:
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So do you like using bookmarks? Have any of your bookmarks ever mysteriously disappeared?  I had an awesome bookmark I made out of a tag from an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit plush, but I can’t find it, and it makes me sad. What do you use as a bookmark?

So I Read Some Books Last Year

One of my goals last year was to read more books, I actually did!  I also branched out and tried some new genres–and I wasn’t disappointed.  So here are some highlights from this past year:

The Lunar Chronicles
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I had heard a lot of good things about this series, and hemmed and hawed, unsure if I wanted to read it.  (I can be really indecisive about reading).   But I buckled down and read all three books and now I’m hooked!  It’s such a good series, and it’s very clean too.  I appreciate when YA books can be compelling and wonderful without large quantities of swearing and unpleasant romance.  Don’t get me wrong, I like romantic subplots, but there are some things I just don’t need to read about, or want to read about.  Thankfully, I never ran into a book like that this past year.

One The Fence
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Since You’ve Been Gone
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The Ellie Sweet Books
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These were some of my first contemporary YA romances and they were both awesome!  I loved how close-knit Charlie’s family was in On the Fence.  Her relationship with her dad was really sweet.  And her brothers were hysterical.  The romance was cute and clean and overall, it was one of my favorite reads.  I also loved Since You’ve Been Gone.  The characters were so compelling and real.   And Frank…well, he was awesome.  He was so sweet, and really smart too!  And he had a Latin Decathlon shirt (I’ve taken a Latin test like that before…it wasn’t fun).  But the main character, Emily, made some choices sometimes where I was like, “That’s stupid.  And illegal.  Why are you doing this?” And her best friend Sloane wasn’t exactly a good influence.  Swearing and romance were very clean in this one, though.  I also really enjoyed the Ellie Sweet books; the first one I got as an ebook to read on the plane to Hawaii this summer, the second I won.  You have to read both to get the full story.  I didn’t like the guy Ellie picked at the end of book 1, but it completely flips around in the sequel.

I read some more Tales of Goldstone Wood books, too.

And these are good books.  They’re really deep and are definitely heavier reading.  But in a good way.  I bought Shadow Hand a few months ago, cause my library didn’t have it, but I have yet to read it.  And I hear that Golden Daughter is really good too–I want to read it as well!

I read some manga.

It was a really fun experience!  There were a couple series I really liked, but never got around to getting the next books.  It is confusing though, figuring out how to read a book backwards.  I had to read the few first pages a couple times, because I read the bubbles in the wrong order.  Oops.

I did have a couple disappointing reads, though.

Along with the first Ellie Sweet book, I bought Waterfall by Lisa Bergren.  I didn’t like it.  The main character rubbed me the wrong way, I also didn’t like Marcello (long, flowing curly hair = not my cup of tea).  Also, I read the Anomaly trilogy by Krista McGee.  I liked the first one, but the second two were…well, lacking.  There was unnecessary angst thrown in from pretty much the first page of book 2, and I lost interest.  On the plus side, the main character ended up with the guy I liked.

So by far, my favorite book of the year was…

Everblaze by Shannon Messenger
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As I mentioned before, this is pretty much the one series I incoherently fangirl about.  I love it.  When this book came in the mail, I was inwardly happy dancing and dashed upstairs to read as soon as I finished school.  The romance is so stinkin’ cute!  Well…it technically doesn’t qualify as romance.  It’s more adorable crushing, because all the characters are middle school aged.  The first book in this series was cute, and bit fluffy, but I loved it.  I think every book worm has one series where they love it, even if it has some faults or is a little cliché or a little fluffy.   I think I could say that about myself for the first two books of this series.  But the third book was so amazing; it had some awesome plot twists and an amazing ending, the kind is that is cliff-hangerish enough to leave you wanting the next book, but has a enough closure to be considered an ending.  So yeah…I loved this book.

So those were the highlights of my reading year.  What do you think?  Have you read any of these books?  What was your favorite read in 2014?  Do tell!

Say Hello to My Bookshelf

I don’t take a lot of selfies, because it’s a little hard to take selfies with an iPad.  But when I heard about shelfies, I thought, AWESOME!  But I should tell you first…

I don’t often buy books.  It’s a fact.  I either get them from the library, or I don’t read them.  I have couple series now that I will preorder the next book, because I know I’ll like them, but other than that–I often don’t feel compelled to own a book.  Unless I know I’ll like a book a lot, or the library doesn’t have it and I will die without reading it (because this happens) I don’t buy books.

So I only have one shelf full of books.

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On the far left you’ll see my collection of knitting books and other crafting books.  Following them, are a couple of old Marvel comics (one Spider-Man, one Thor) that I got from a friend for my birthday.  I have my collection of Wayne Thomas Batson books, my favorite author in middle school.  All of them are signed, which makes me happy. 😛

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I got some books for Christmas, namely, Plenilune, Two Gentleman of Verona, and Orphan’s Song.  I also have a couple books I won or got for free at my library’s summer reading program (I scored a paperback of Cinder this past summer–woot woot!) And then comes my prized collection of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, thus far.  This is really the only series I incoherently fangirl about (other than the Lunar Chronicles, maybe).  IT’S JUST SO CUTE AND AWESOME.  And the covers are gorgeous, too.  After those books comes my copy of all three Lord of the Rings, which I got for 75 cents at a yard sale.  A pretty good deal!

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And yes, that is a plushie of Gandalf.  I also have a Frodo one, and my sister has Bilbo and Legolas.  And my bookend is a Latin competition trophy.

So what about you guys?   Do you like buying books?  What do your shelves look like?

Goodbye, 2014

It doesn’t really feel a like a new year–it just feels like the end of the Christmas season.   And my News Year’s Eve was a spent eating pizza with my family, and watching Star Wars episode V.  Which I had never seen before.  (shhh….)  Now I’ve seen the original three, I feel qualified in being excited for the new Star Wars movie coming out this year.  Woohoo!

So, what happened this year in 2014?  Let me tell you…

I started this blog.  And if you’re reading this post, I want to thank you for taking time out of your day to read my little blog.  I really appreciate it!  I haven’t been very good with a regular blogging schedule, but I hope to change that in the coming months.

My novella Broken Glass got published.  If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you probably know that.  I’m really happy so many people liked it!   Getting published was an awesome and humbling experience.  The first time I got editing requests back from my publisher, I kind of wanted to crawl under a rock and hide.   But nothing can compare to the feeling of holding one’s own writing in print–that was probably the highlight of my year.

I wrote, edited, and entered Broken Glass’ sequel in the Five Enchanted Roses Contest.  That’s right, Corroded Thorns is done and sent off and I don’t have a to look at it again for couple months!  I am overall pleased with how it turned out, but I’m really not sure if it’ll win.  If it does…great!  If it doesn’t…never fear, you will get to read it.  I’ll probably end up posting it in sections on this blog.  It’s certainly different from Broken Glass; the cast of a characters is a bit smaller.  However, a certain couple from the first novella may have a cameo…I couldn’t resist.  I missed them too much.

I did some reading.  I didn’t read a lot, compared to other bloggers, but I did read more compared to my normal reading amount.  And I tried some new genres!  I’ll be posting soon about my 2014 reading adventures.

So what am I hoping to accomplish in 2015?

I’m gonna do NaNoWriMo.  I’m not sure what novel I’ll but writing, but I am soooo excited to finally do this thing!  The past two years I’ve been busy preparing for Latin Convention, but not next year.

Write a couple first drafts?  Complete a final draft of a story?  Start querying?  I have a vague goal to write more this year, and possibly start querying something.  But we’ll see.

Blog more!  Because it’s a sad fact I’ve only posted, like, 20 posts on this blog.  That needs to change.

So I want to hear your opinion, awesome readers:  what do you want to see on this blog in 2015?  What do you NOT want to see?  Do you have any goals for the next year?  Are you sad Christmas is over?

Cause let’s face it, taking down Christmas decorations is really depressing.  😦