The Whimsical Mama

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*ARC Review* Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch May 11, 2015

***mild spoilers may follow***

***affiliate links are used***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 14 October 2014
Publisher: Balzer+Bray, HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Format: e-ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Status: Book 1 of the Snow Like Ashes trilogy

Summary:

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.

My thoughts:
I was SO excited for Snow Like Ashes. Before it was posted on Edelweiss, I told hubby I HAD TO HAVE it in my life. When HarperCollins posted the Fall 2014 books, I downloaded it and threw my TBR out the window.

I am normally not thrilled with the “for the fans of,” “if you loved ____, you’ll love ____” type lead ins. They’re actually usually a big turn off. This time, seeing Snow Like Ashes and A Game of Thrones together made me give it a look. I am so glad I did. I’m also glad I ignored the hype that was building way before ARCs came out. Hype is another thing that usually makes me run from a book!

I immediately fell in love with the world Sara created. An epic fantasy with a bit of a medieval feel to it. Sara starts strong and builds an incredible, tangible world.

The main group and leading lady, Meira, are from the fallen kingdom of Winter. Sara gives enough historical background to the fall of Winter in bits and pieces through the story, so there’s no fear of overwhelming info dump.

The big plot twist, I easily predicted, but the way it was presented is done in a way that it doesn’t come off as lame. It’s also done that if you aren’t paying SUPER close attention, it could easily sneak up on you!

The eight kingdoms are a fascinating approach. I love the use of seasons for four of the kingdoms. I also really loved the use of conduits and magic!

It could be easy to think there is a love triangle that develops, but I believe it is two very different types of love towards the two guys. I’m Team Theron anyway. 🙂

There is so much that happens in this fantasy debut. It’s incredibly action packed. You would think with SO much happening, it could become bogged down. Sara manages to go into Martin and Tolkien detail without the massively flowery language. A Game of Thrones is brilliantly done and I can’t wait to read Ice Like Fire. Keep an eye out for my review closer to October! 🙂

About the Author

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures., the first in a trilogy, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.

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Review: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare April 14, 2015

***mild spoilers may follow***

***affiliate links are used***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 27 May 2014
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Format: hardcover
Status: Book six of The Mortal Instruments series, book three of the second trilogy in the full series

Summary:

In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother.

Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.

The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris – but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?

When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee – even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned…

Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments!

My thoughts:

The end. Wow. Another series ending. It doesn’t get easier for a series to end, but I still haven’t had a series cripple me like Harry Potter ending. I do have to say, the epilogue slayed me. Wow. The epilogue alone was perfection.

I really enjoyed the glimpse into the LA Institute. It will be nice to be able to see these characters come into their own/ I am hoping there will be more Mark. I want to know what will happen between the Faerie Court and the Clave.

I loved the Malec feels. From the start to the end, it was incredible. Communication is key in any relationship and that showed between all of the couples. It’s a hard lesson to learn.

I loved getting to see more into how the Clave worked. City of Heavenly Fire set up nicely to connect the transition between The Mortal Instruments and The Dark Artifices. I also loved how The Infernal Devices were woven in too. I hope they make more of an appearance in The Dark Artifices.

I have to say, I was not surprised with the Seelie Queen’s allegiance declaration. It was terribly clear to me what would happen there.

City of Heavenly Fire was very good, but there were times it felt too long and drawn out. It could’ve been because I never had much time to read in long spurts.

There were things I was disappointed over. Not quite as bloody as I was expecting. I was expecting more deaths. There were twists I wasn’t expecting though, which is always nice. Never fun to see everything coming!

I loved getting a look into a demon realm. It was fascinating and scary at the same time. Especially concerning Magnus’s parentage. Finally! Glad we got that answer. I thought it was neat The Bane Chronicles were alluded to through City of Heavenly Fire and at the end.

Even though knowing things had to end with Sebastian, Cassie still kept it interesting and full of twists. I actually cried!

Okay. I cried a lot. Like a lot, a lot. Especially during the epilogue. Sobbed. I’m surprised I didn’t wake up my kids haha.

City of Heavenly Fire is the best of the second The Mortal Instruments trilogy. With other enemy forces, Sebastian felt more believable I guess. It felt more fleshed out. It was a massive read. I guess I hadn’t paid attention to the page count when I ordered it!

I am pleased with how things went. I would like to know how relationships pan out. Hoping for snippets of that in The Dark Artifices. It will be a long wait til fall 2015 (I wrote this review immediately after I read The Mortal Instruments, I’m just now posting it!) but I’m sure it’ll be worth it. All The Infernal Devices references and character action makes me crave a reread. I recommend you check out the Shadow World if you haven’t I believe these books are worth the hype and controversy.

 

 
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