The Good SNOW LIKE ASHES had an interesting plot, once you get into the meat of the story. A fantasy world was torn apart 16 years ago, and one Kingdom is trying to recover their magic through a broken conduit stolen by the evil king of a neighboring kingdom, Spring. Monarchy can use magic, and each kingdom has powers that extend over the people. One girl, Meira, wants to matter to her Kingdom and the war to get back Winter and its people. I like the juxtapositions of the names against the kingdoms Raasch created some interesting opposites in SNOW LIKE ASHES. When I typically think of the winter season, I do think of snow, but I also think of long nights, depression (often associated with the season), and dead trees, plants and a world that is basically hibernating. Winter is cold and often unforgiving (if you live where it gets cold anyway).
But Raasch describes Winter (the kingdom) as beautiful, pristine and white, like new snow on a field. The subjects of Winter (called Winterians) love their kingdom and are beautiful, generous people who fight for a noble cause. What could be a cold, frozen place is actually one of warmth within its people.
Likewise, Spring (the evil kingdom) is described as beautiful, but behind the cherry blossoms and greenery lies a black evil controlled by a corrupt king. It reminds the reader not to judge a book by its cover, and that evil can be beautiful, too. The descriptions of the landscape were beautiful The descriptions of the landscape are well-done and vivid. As I mentioned before, the kingdom of Spring is described as colorful and fragrant, while Winter is described as white, cold but beautiful. Raasch has truly developed an alluring world where the reader can step into the pages of her imagination.
I really liked the ending. It led to questions and hopefully another novel, because I know Meira is right about Angra (the evil king). Of course, if there is no second novel, it also reads great as a stand-alone. Wonderful conflict resolution in this book. I liked a lot of the characters Probably my favorite character was Theron. I think I have a thing for secondary male leads. He reminded me (in personality) of Adrian from Vampire Academy, just in that he was rich and misunderstood in the beginning, but was actually a nice person who thought of others. I'm probably drawing a long line between them, but Adrian was the first person Theron reminded me of.
I did like Meira, even though she annoyed the hell out of me. She had good intentions, wanted more from life and for the kingdom she didn't know first-hand, and questioned what she was told often. And she was a fighter.
The Bad The beginning is slow. I had a hard time getting into SNOW LIKE ASHES. I went into it expecting to love it very much, so maybe it didn't even have a fighting chance against my expectations, because I only liked it. Although that's still good, it lacks something that makes novels like Throne of Glass stand out. We spend too much time in the narrator's head Overall, I liked Meira, our main character. She is resilient and a warrior willing to sacrifice herself for the better of her kingdom's return. But I often found her mildly annoying, because she spent too much time doubting herself and not enough time doing. She waffled a bit back and forth over decisions that needed to be made, when I really just wanted her to get on with it. This, of course, means that there is less dialogue than I like throughout the novel, since we're always being subjected to her inner thoughts. The plot was just too obvious and I didn't feel invested I felt like I was being led around by the nose throughout SNOW LIKE ASHES. While I don't mind tropes in a novel most of the time, I think too many of them were used in this book and they were way too obvious. For instance, we have: love triangle forming; main character who doesn't know who she is (I knew who she was in chapter 13 and what she was by Chapter 19); one main character who happens to disarm a kingdom basically by herself. Cities in the kingdoms (in the Seasons kingdoms) were named after real months, but altered a bit. I didn't necessarily mind that, but it reminded me of The Selection and America Singer. Cutesy but takes away a bit from the novel, because you're like, "Oh, Abril (April) and Jannuari (January). How cute. And obvious."
I wasn't invested in some of the scenes, like the outcome of Sir, the fight between Mather and Theron, the battle in Cordella. In fact, I didn't really become invested until Meira was residing in Spring. I also didn't real feel any of the romance; it just seems like a lot of time was spent on Meira's journey that there wasn't room left for any romance, and so Raasch squeezed it in where she could. Info-dumping I think the reason we were in Meira's head so much was because we needed info on how things happened, what the past was like and what the world looked like. I'm not a fan of info-dumping as a general rule unless it's done well, and I prefer my info via character dialogue, rather than long descriptions by the narrator as a general rule. Still a good YA fantasy novel While it may seem like I didn't like it very much, I actually did enjoy the story. YA fantasy fans will really dig SNOW LIKE ASHES because it's a gorgeous world with an engaging plot.
So I was not fully impressed with Through the Ever Night, though it seems most people loved it as much as Under the Never SkyWhat an epic conclusion!!
So I was not fully impressed with Through the Ever Night, though it seems most people loved it as much as Under the Never Sky. I felt it lacked the oomph of the first novel. But Veronica Rossi has fully redeemed herself in my eyes as a master storyteller!
Into the Still Blue picks up right where Through the Ever Night left off: the Tides and refugees from the pod have gone into the cave by the beach. Perry and Aria are reunited, but for how long when so much still remains uncertain?
Things I Loved About Into the Still Blue:
The Dwellers and Outsiders are forced to become one unified society, else they may just perish. They need the numbers to stand against Hess, Sable and the Horns. I loved Cinder’s and Perry’s loyalty to each other. It’s the kind of loyalty you don’t often find in real life or books and it defied DNA or friendship. I think it really spoke to each of their characters and it was refreshing to read about characters as awesome as they were. (view spoiler)[I liked that to ultimately reach the Still Blue, the Tides and Dwellers had to compromise with Sable and the Horns, because it showed how well they could work together in times of a crisis. (hide spoiler)] I loved that Soren comes so far in this story. He goes from a willful, spoiled brat who makes unstable decisions to someone who is steady, medicated and a team player. Of all the characters, Soren probably developed the most in this entire series. I loved Roar. Period. Everything about him. His relationship with Aria, which was never romantic, was sweet and something she needed. And so did he! I think I’d really love to see his own full-length story, a romance, because I want romantic redemption for him. I want him to find love again. Getting to the Still Blue was never going to be an easy task, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Nothing worthwhile is easy and it showed that those causes worth the most will cost the most. They were not without loss, but you can’t measure happiness without loss. I loved that it wasn’t easy to reach. Aria and Perry’s relationship wasn’t insta-love even though she had come back from the Rim. They had to learn how to work through their issues like adults, and ultimately they each grew because of that. The way Rossi described the Still Blue was exactly as I had imagined it. (view spoiler)[There were some aspects about it I didn’t expect like it being completely unpopulated but overall, I had the island from LOST in my head and she basically delivered that. (hide spoiler)] Aria’s father. <3 The final showdown! Gah! <3
Things I Side-Eyed:
I thought it was entirely too easy for Sable and his men to throw over Hess. Or maybe Hess was just that stupid. Who knows. Sable’s method for disposing of Cinder and Perry was really obvious and I could see it coming from a mile away. Rossi explained away Perry’s reappearance way too easily. Into the Still Blue was just amazing. I would love to see the film rights sold for this. Pleeeeaaaase, Warner Brothers, give us a movie!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Back off, ladies, Etienne St. Clair is my boyfriend. And I pretty much loved him, Anna and this entire novel from the start.
Everyone has told me how mBack off, ladies, Etienne St. Clair is my boyfriend. And I pretty much loved him, Anna and this entire novel from the start.
Everyone has told me how much they just adored ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, but I have always resisted, mostly because the hardback cover doesn’t do a lot for me and neither does the title. I’m the kind of reader you need to market from top to bottom. But Stephanie Perkins was in town with a handful of other authors in February for a signing and once again, friends were telling me how amazeballs her books are, so I broke my book-buying ban and grabbed them.
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS did not disappoint! It was fun and snarky and easy to read. It also didn’t lose the seriousness I like hidden within the pages of the novels I read. I like fluff when buried underneath are messages to the reader. I want to be able to nod along with the writing and be all, “I totally get you, giiiiirl.” ANNA is no exception. She is the quintessential American girl, is nerdy, but not ashamed of it, and wears Batman pajamas. I totally loved her.
Anna’s foray into a foreign country for the school year was both fun and heartbreaking as she tries to accept the changes in her life, the loss of her friends who are back home in the ATL, and new social customs. Oh and learning French. Can’t forget the French. Perkins’ descriptions really brought me into the book, and into Paris, SOAP, as I walked the streets with Anna and her Parisian friends. I could wax poetic about Perkins’ writing, but you’ve probably read it, I don’t need to. If you haven’t read it… ah! DO IT NOW.
The relationships Anna has to learn how to forge are brilliantly done and realistic: Anna and her parents, Etienne and his parents, Anna and Etienne. ANNA AND ETIENNE. Le sigh. The two of them together were ridiculously cute and romantic and I loved that they have so many misses. Anna’s friends bring such a nice roundness to the novel; there is something wrong with all of them, whether it’s insecurities, family troubles, liking a boy you know you can never have. Hey, we’ve all been there, right?
Overall, this is a sweetly romantic novel that melts your heart in all the right places. ...more
I just didn’t find myself getting into ASK AGAIN LATER by Liz Czukas, for a number of reasons: no story development, no world-building, lack of characI just didn’t find myself getting into ASK AGAIN LATER by Liz Czukas, for a number of reasons: no story development, no world-building, lack of character development. It really only got two stars from me because of some light humor.
Heart doesn’t date guys because she has this hang-up about her mother. So not dating resolves everything that could potentially go wrong, even though she knows it’s BS, and so does everyone else. She’s nice enough, I suppose, but just your average teenager who doesn’t really stand out.
But here we go with the whole trope of “the average girl is always the center of attention” again! This is seriously starting to become overdone, guys. There is nothing spectacular about her: she’s not a nerd, but she’s not popular. She doesn’t date, she’s not slutty, she has divorced parents, her dad isn’t rich, her brother is neither a loser nor a genius (nor is she). She is the girl you forget about unless you are forced to pay attention to her. And while not every guy is tripping over their feet to get to her (thanks for that, by the way, because that story is old, too) – and yes yes, I know average chicks get guys too, because hello, I am one – I just don’t see how her life day story was interesting. And that’s all it was. One day in the life of Heart while she decides who she is going to go to prom with.
Except there is this weird alternate universe thing, so was it sci-fi or was it…? I don’t even know what to call that, but I didn’t like it. The story of prom is told in “Heads” or “Tails” and each one is a reality she lives and the perspective jumps between them. Heart is propositioned by two boys, and decides to break her “no-dating” policy to give a pity date to one of these two (OH PLEASE GIRL) dudes: a friend and her brother’s jock friend. A pity date for a jock from an average girl actually deserves an eye roll:
Anyway, so the tale is told in both perspectives and what would happen if she chose one or the other. I do give props to Czukas for merging the storylines together so that they meshed well. The message that you can’t avoid fate was pretty clear and that was actually neat. I am willing to bet that wasn’t easy to write, but it was a bit painful to read, not gonna lie. This is not because I dislike alternate realities; I actually really like them. But in contemporaries? PASS.
I just feel like this could have been so much better than it was. It wasn’t horrible, don’t get me wrong. Parts of it were cute and funny; in fact the first page is what grabbed my attention, because it was so well-written. It just unfortunately dropped off quickly from that, and it’s all because of the (lack of) plot and the characters. There is no world-building, and it’s not like you need a lot, because after all, this is a contemporary (or something, I’m still not sure with that whole alternate reality thing going on), but some details would have been nice. There was little character development for anyone. Heart is really the only character who experiences any kind of growth…in one freaking day, which is rather unbelievable. And it’s never explained why she’s so freaking great. We’re just supposed to accept that she’s the chosen heroine of this story and that’s it.
There are sadly no surprises, either. I knew who she was going to end up with at 7% into the book. Blah.
I guess I just like my novels with a little more in them and this wasn’t it. Some will really like this because parts are snarky and fun, but others will find it lacking. Probably a good read for the much younger YA crowd, like middle school....more