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review 2018-02-25 09:17
‘Ash Princess’ brings dark themes of abuse and violence to YA fantasy but it’s wholly absorbing; bring on the Astrean rebellion!
Ash Princess - Laura Sebastian-Coleman Ash Princess - Laura Sebastian-Coleman

This was admittedly a little slow for me to get into but it had quite a bit to do with me starting it while away on a sunny beach at Amelia Island in Florida (it was in stark contrast to the dark world in the novel, so I had competing worlds in my head).

Nevertheless, once I got into 'Ash Princess' further, I became captivated by the darkness, and contrary to some interpretations of it being a story that is there to shock its readers with the relentless abuse, and of murders of whole populations, I read this book and absorbed this in a very different way. I'll get back to all of that in a moment...
The novel is centered around a young girl, the 'Ash Princess', Theodosia, who is now known as Lady Thora, who is being held captive in the palace that her mother, the Fire Queen was murdered. The cruel and murderous Kaiser, has subsequently enslaved the Astrean people, and now the Kalovaxians rule the land, although there's a rebellion brewing.

Theo's position is complicated to say the least. She has suffered a decade of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her mother's murderer, but she knows that if she is to survive, she needs to bide by the Kaiser's wishes. Theo's closest friendship is also complex, since she is friends with the daughter of the enemy Theyn, the Kaiser's right-hand man; Crescentia is close with Theo, but looks the other way when things are hard for her friend (namely, her beatings), quite happily will give her the less flattering dress to wear, and doesn't see many things that are right under her nose (luckily).
Another complication: where would a good YA novel be without a little bit of confusion over what boy you like? It's even more complicated when one is supposed to be the enemy, the Prinz (and your best friend hopes to marry them some day), and the other is a long time friend, and orchestrating the plot to escape, amongst other things (*no further spoiling!).

Beyond the walls of the palace, there are also battles fought for more land, in the name of the Kaiser, and in terms of how this comes across to me, is that I liken this to how I see much of European history. I'm not talking about the Kaiser specifically but when I think back to what I know of centuries of history across Europe and all the battles fought, particularly for land, the pillaging of villages, the murdering of its people, these sorts of things happened. I liken what I'm reading to that sort of knowledge I have of history of the way that lands are conquered; even royalty has been imprisoned within their own castle walls. History really has been that cruel, so when I read something like this (or like many other fantasy novels), it really has been played out. What's wonderful in a book like this though, is that the people are waiting for this young woman, Theodosia, to take back the throne again.

So, ultimately I felt like this was a tale of survival in a very harsh world, where Theo has to make hard choices to not only survive, but to try and fulfil what she believes is a destiny expected of her by the Astrean people. It leads her to do some things she doesn't want to do sometimes, and through that, she actually becomes stronger as the novel progresses, but at a cost.

This is not a novel for someone who wants their books about fallen kingdoms to be light and with frequent uplifting turns; this book is pretty heavy, and high on dark content, but if you're willing to fall into a novel where kingdoms don't get taken back easily, and in which many lives are lost in the process, you will be ready for this. There are strong characters in this and I hope they're developed even further in the next book. I'm looking forward to seeing the rebellion of the Astrean people continue!
YA fantasy has ANOTHER amazing author, Laura Sebastian, to pay attention to!

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review 2018-02-25 08:43
Patch Job
Patch Job (ReMade Season 2 Episode 1) - Gwenda Bond,Matthew Cody,Andrea Phillips,E. C. Myers,Amy Rose Capetta

Patch Job is the first episode in the second season of ReMade and rather than starting of where the first season ended (without answers on a cliffhanger), this starts something new. A character that was thought to be gone for good is in a sense ReMade all over and dropped into the world again. Also, there is a special connection with the caretakers.

I'm curious to see where this is going.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2018-02-25 08:35
The End Of The Beginning
The End of the Beginning - Kiersten White,Matthew Cody,Gwenda Bond,E.C. Myers,Andrea Phillips,Carrie Harris

The End of the Beginning doesn't really provide either an end or a beginning. Instead we are served a cliffhanger and no answers. I hate it when a book or in this case a season cannot stand on its own but instead the reader is forced into continuing just in order to get some of the answers.

Inez's point of view is a bit tiring at this point, as I can't seem to like her. There is also some last minute death that didn't make a lot of sense either. Rather disappointing conclusion from a series that by times was really nice and for the most has been a fun, quick read. I've dedicated to reading the second season, so I hope the story will pick up again.

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review 2018-02-25 08:25
The Slow Fade
The Slow Fade - Matthew Cody,Kiersten White,E.C. Myers,Andrea Phillips,Carrie Harris,Gwenda Bond

For me there was some time between reading these episodes and the rest of the first season, but it didn't really form a problem. There is some tension rising as you feel they are nearing the end. Holden is one of the more interesting characters in the series, and he plays a major role in this one. However, at this point, I'm ready for this season to end.

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review 2018-02-24 22:56
Forbidden Song (Hearts of Metal Book 5) by Brooklyn Ann
Forbidden Song (Hearts of Metal Book 5) - Brooklyn Museum

This is the fifth book in the Hearts of Metal series but I promise it can definitely be read as a standalone. I know this because I’ve only read the previous book yet I never felt lost. 
I love how the author was able to weave so many characters into one book without making it feel convoluted. All of them felt true to their nature, including “slutty” Cliff, who can still be a jerk at times but now that we start seeing things from his POV it’s impossible not to have feelings for the guy. Christine’s independent spirit causes more trouble than not but even so she was a lovable character because it was not mischief what drove her but an honest will to live her own life. 

I felt this book centered more around the dynamics of the band’s members and their personal struggles, but even so it did not lack in the romance department. Christine and Cliff’s relationship may take a backseat at times but it’s always present throughout the book. Their emotions are all palpable and when they were together it was all but fire on the pages! The mix of drama and funny, laugh-out-loud moments made this book pretty enjoyable. And the fact that we get to visit with all of the other bands, including Rage of Angels (from the Bride of Prophecies series) makes it a memorable one as well. In short, I think this story is the perfect tease because if anyone picks this one up before the previous books in the series will want to get them all and start reading them asap. 

***I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.***

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