readingcook

Archive for May, 2015|Monthly archive page

An Ember in the Ashes

In YA Book Reviews on May 25, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Unknown

by Sabaa Tahir

YA High Fantasy/©2015/464 Pages/Part of a Series/Recommended for Ages 12+

Publisher’s Blurb (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

My Thoughts:

What a stunning debut novel! The characters are unique and fascinating, and the plot is compelling and full of twists and surprises. Definitely a page turner!  This was supposed to be a stand alone book, but a sequel has recently been announced and is already in the works. Good to know because I have lots of unanswered questions!

News Release – There will be a sequel!!!

Other Thoughts:

NPR Review

Mashable.com (includes interview with the author and book trailer)

Companion Books:

The Throne of Glass series, The Winner’s Curse series, and Grisha series

The Winner’s Curse

In YA Book Reviews on May 1, 2015 at 4:34 am

Unknown

 by Marie Rutkoski

YA Fantasy/©2015/355 Pages/The Winner’s Trilogy #1/Recommended for Age 12+

Publisher’s Blurb:

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

My Thoughts:

This story has a strong female protagonist and a fascinating fantasy world reminiscent of ancient Rome and Greece. That was enough to catch my attention, and it hung on tight as Kestrel’s and Arin’s relationship built and became more complex, especially as the power dynamic shifted. As if the tension filled relationship wasn’t enough, the author added to the plot with a healthy amount of battle strategies and political intrigue. And more than once, just when I figured I knew where the story was headed, it didn’t. I liked the pacing of the story – slow at first, giving adequate time to develop the characters and plot line, then picking up quickly towards the middle, with an ending that makes reading the next book in the trilogy inevitable. All in all, I think this is a very enjoyable, well written fantasy.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Other Resources:

Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy Book #2)

Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy Book #3) March 1, 2016

The Book Addict’s Guide

Companion Books:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir