Blog Tour Review for Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

ashprincessAsh Princess
By: Laura Sebastian
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Summary:
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.

My Thoughts:
There are some books that just resonate so well with me and this is one of them. From the start Ash Princess hit me just right. I loved the world, characters and writing. I especially loved how dark this book was. I didn’t expect such an emotional read with beautifully executed scenes that are just so raw and really moved me.

I can’t imagine what Theo has had to go through- her country was invaded and she had to witness her family murdered. Then she was kept captive and forced to live among her enemies. Every time the Kaiser had reason to be angry with her people he publicly raged at Theo. She was forced to bear the brunt of his anger and also be his public demonstration of hate for her people. Every major gathering she was forced to wear a crown made of ashes. These scenes were so, so vivid and just wow. So powerful. I can’t imagine how angry and lonely she would be. I loved this aspect because instead of crumbling she had a spark of hope and fight within her. I loved watching that spark grow and seeing her form relationships even with those she should hate.

I felt all the characters were beautifully complex. The relationships were my favorite aspect. Since Theo has been raised with her enemies she can’t help but have made friends with the daughter of one of her captors. It is such a complex situation Theo finds herself in. I couldn’t help but wonder what I would do in her situation.

Be aware- since Theo lives with her family’s murders there are some brutal whippings and she withstands a lot of abuse at the hand of the Kaiser. It isn’t pleasant to read but I felt it was done very well. This book deals with a lot of heavy themes but I didn’t have trouble reading it and in fact I felt it was a very compulsive read and I couldn’t’ stop reading. I had to know what would happen next.

Final Thoughts:
I loved Ash Princess and I am desperate to read more of Theo’s story. I was so impressed with Sebastian’s writing and the inner struggles of her characters. This book wasn’t a happy read but it was beautifully done and very emotional.

 

Review of Tandem by Anna Jarzab

TandemTandem (Many Worlds Trilogy #1)
By: Anna Jarzab
Release Date: October 8th 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Purchase:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

My Rating:
star

An electronic copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

Summary:
Everything repeats.
You. Your best friend. Every person you know.
Many worlds. Many lives–infinite possibilities.
Welcome to the multiverse.

Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather’s stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real–until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.

To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she’ll be trapped in another girl’s life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love–one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she’s someone she’s not.

The first book in the Many-Worlds Trilogy, Tandem is a riveting saga of love and betrayal set in parallel universes in which nothing–and no one–is what it seems.

The Story:
I have read a few multi-universe books this year and have honestly not been overly impressed with the majority of them. I felt that I would love this genre but for some reason it’s left me unsatisfied. Tandem manages to be different than the other books I’ve read mostly due to the other universe being rather varied from this one.

The other universe Sasha gets thrown into had some nice fantasy aspects including castles, queens and kings. I actually really enjoyed this aspect and wasn’t expecting it. This addition gave the book a light fantasy feel rather than science fiction to me. It helped distinguish the two universes from each other and gave the main character a lot of learning to do.

Although I enjoyed the distinction between the universes: I wish I had felt stronger than a general sense of ‘meh’ about Tandem. I loved the cover and wanted to be immersed and gripped by the story but something was missing. I’m not entirely sure which element that was. The story wasn’t overly predictable though I didn’t feel that keen an interest to find out what would happen. For some reason I didn’t feel the tension and though some chapters were titled as a countdown until the big ‘thing’ was going to happen I didn’t feel any stress.

The Characters:
Perhaps, my biggest disconnect was with the characters. I wanted to get behind them and really feel what they were going through but that never really happened. I honestly wasn’t overly concerned with if Sasha made it back to her old life. I sort of kept thinking, why not stay? Having that question really removed any stress for things to be set right.

The romance was rather light and was obvious with who and when it would occur. It wasn’t done poorly but wasn’t incredible either. I was very pleased there wasn’t a love triangle because it could have easily gone that direction.

I’ll say that the characters were pretty one dimensional in their good vs bad. I never felt that any of them were conflicted or very deep. Everything had a very ‘on the surface’ feel to me.

Final Thoughts:
As you can see I felt very meh about Tandem, its plot and characters. There were aspects that I thought were on a really interesting path but it never seemed to really get there for me. I wanted a bit more depth and internal conflict with the characters and for someone to surprise me with their actions.

Review of Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart (Reckoners #1)
By: Brandon Sanderson
Release Date: September 24th 2013
Publisher: Delacorte
Pre-order:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Thank you Stephanie (Inspiring Insomnia) for letting me borrow your copy!

My Rating:
star

Summary (via Goodreads):
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

The Story:
Steelheart is the first Brandon Sanderson book I’ve read. I’ve heard everyone singing his praises and after reading this I can see why. This book was fast paced (though I did struggle just a tiny bit a third in due to a reading slump) well written and action packed.  I absolutely loved Sanderson’s take on people with enhanced abilities and the ways that being ‘epic’ might just make those gifted lose their humanity. The beginning line, “I’ve seen Steelheart bleed” was so powerful and central to the entire story. I loved how Sanderson was able to transport me to the bank and seeing everything through David’s ten year old eyes.

There is a trend lately of showing the point of view of the villain or focusing more on those that could be heroes doing more for dark than good. Sanderson incorporated this idea by showing what would happen if all our traditionally thought of ‘heroes’ were actually evil and concerned more with themselves than the good of man. Super strength, invincibility, flight, teleportation–all of  these powers would be terrifying in the hands of the wrong people. What would it be like to live under the rule of only villains with no heroes to swoop in and save the day?

The world and landscape Sanderson described seemed plausible and incredibly interesting. He was able to draw in details and really give an unforgettable impression of a city under the strict rule of a dictator and people doing anything to stay alive. We only venture into Steelheart’s city but references are made of worse places where there is absolutely no order. I think we’ll see more about them in later books.

The Characters:
Seeing the first scene through David’s young eyes immediately had me rooting for him and immersed in his story and life. The side characters were interesting especially the details of the Epics and their powers. I hope we get to learn more about them in more detail.

There is a small glimmer of romance, only shown in vague interest between David and a Reckoner. This book focused on the action and the bigger themes on a person’s humanity and what it means to stand up for more or try to just get by.

The Reckoners were very well drawn out and I could picture them and their headquarters vividly. I wished I could have connected a bit more with the members of the team.

Final Thoughts:
Sanderson created an action packed and beautifully crafted book. The writing is seamless and the action vividly drawn out. The only problem I had was in connecting with the secondary characters though they did seem to be well rounded I just never got attached to them. I look forward to more from this series and will be picking up more of Sanderson’s books.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson will be available September 24th 2013 by Delacorte