October 23, 2014

Latest Read: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1) by Sara Raasch
Publication date: Oct 14, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Category: Young Adult - Fantasy
Source: Received ARC via Edelweiss (Thanks!)
Summary: 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 trying 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. So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. 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. (greads.com)

The good
Why hello Snow Like Ashes, you have earned a spot on my favorites bookshelf. (No seriously, I bought a copy and put it on my actual shelf for favorite books.) This is only the second time this year I’ve felt this excited about a brand new fantasy series and it took me completely by surprise. The world-building is extensive, the story is engaging and I fell in love with the characters, particularly the heroine Meira. She’s part of the Winterian kingdom, or rather what’s left of it. Its citizens are enslaved with the exception of Meira, her best friend and future king Mather, the Winterian general who raised her Sir and five others. Together they live as refugees preparing for the day when they can restore Winter’s magic and monarchy and are searching for the ancient locket that can help them do this. The story kicks off when Meira completes a mission deemed impossible but her success leads their enemies straight to them. As they make a run for it and head to another kingdom to ask for help, Meira finds herself caught in a web of magic and politics that leads to surprising discoveries about Winter and herself.

Meira is one of the most memorable heroines I’ve read about in a while. And you know what made her stand out to me? She made me laugh! Sure, she’s tough, feisty and determined to help her kingdom. But when those around her try to take control of her life, her first reaction isn't to pout in a corner or even accept her fate like a martyr. Instead she gets angry and throws one of the best fits I've ever read (there's one scene in particular that's actually one of my favorite moments in the book). She's opinionated and unafraid to go after exactly what she wants or what needs to be done. But what I also admire is that she can also step back and look at the bigger picture when all is said and done. That's not an easy thing to do when you have to make a choice between yourself and your people. Of course, there are certain characters who do play a role in her decisions. Sir is this formidable figure that raised her and who she craves approval from. Mather is going to be king one day but she's been in love with him for so long and it seems like he may feel the same way. And then there's someone else who I can't tell you about (I'm sorry!) but I will say that I'm in love with him and personally, I thought he brought the swoon to the book.

(Teeny tiny) Reservations
Like I said, the world building is incredible! There are eight kingdoms total and four of them are based on the seasons -- Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. Then half of those kingdoms require female rulers, the other half male. Plus there's a history of their magic and the desire to see it in the right hands. A war, slavery, good versus evil. All of which felt so vivid through the author's words. But I will admit that all these details were a bit difficult to keep track of. Especially all the idiosyncrasies of the kingdoms and who their rulers were. That didn't deter me though because I feel confident that we will learn more and it will come naturally as the series progresses.

Do I recommend?
I can't say enough how much I recommend this book. Fantasy lovers, put this at the top of your list!

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

What's your favorite season?
I love summer! Warm weather, the sun still being out when I leave work, wearing dresses almost every single day, flip flops. It's my favorite season, hands down. Obviously I'm picturing high 70s with a nice breeze (not a humid, gross day) and to me that is just perfect. But fall is a close second favorite because I love wearing my knee-high boots and leather jackets and seeing the leaves change color. 

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