My Kyrosmagica Review of Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

thCSEYXVC1

Goodreads synopsis:

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 waiting for the opportunity 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 her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. 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.

My Review

If you start Snow Like Ashes and decide to stop reading it I shall have to kill you, no seriously I will have no choice but to find, borrow, or steal Meira’s weapon, a lethal Chakram, and hurl it at you because you will undoubtedly be missing the best part of this wonderful debut novel.

It starts a bit slow, there’s a lot to take in, Sara Raasch fills us in on the details and if you’re not careful you can start to feel you’re eyes clouding over a bit. There’s an information, over-telling overload. But don’t be fooled. It is forgiveable because this is one heck of an exciting read, so stick with it. Boy, does she know how to write a strong female character, as well as interesting supporting characters and those thrilling battle scenes, well you might just find yourself wincing in parts. You can just feel  super pumped high adrenalin charging through your veins!

Main character – Meira

Meira is one of eight of the surviving Winterians characterised by white skin and white hair. She lives in Primoria, a land of eight kingdoms. This orphan may be only sixteen years old but she is used to hardship and warring and sparring with warriors.  This struggle will help her to understand and overcome the obstacles in her way to ensure that her defeated land Winter is once again a powerful kingdom. She learns who to trust and whom to avoid, and she discovers that freedom to choose a suitor is not always a gift that we can all have when political circumstances stand in the way.

The Seasons and The Rhythms

There’s four Season Kingdoms: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, as well as the Rhythms, whose four seasons occur naturally in a typical cycle: Cordell, Ventralli, Yakim and Paisly. The  Season of Winter is as you would expect a chilly, frozen landscape of snow and ice. The thought of this just sends my teeth chattering. In contrast, Summer is a smouldering land of eternal sunshine. Like the sound of this one. Autumn is a kingdom of  fallen, crisp, autumnal leaves.  Spring is a place of  awakening blooms, but instead of gentle flowering, evil lurks in this one. You get the picture? It’s interesting that Sara Raasch chose Spring to be the season of evil,  rather than the more typical choice of harsh, unforgiving, Winter.

Evil King Agra

Spring may sound like a nice gentle season but don’t be fooled. No, sixteen years ago, Spring’s evil king Agra,  stole the magical conduit and brutally conquered Winter, destroyed their magic, and enslaved most of the Winterians in the process, all except Meira, our heroine, Sir, her guardian, Mather, the heir of Winter, and five other Winterians.  The two halves of the magical conduit are useless until they can be joined together, in a magical version of yin and yang. Yes, the clue’s in the wonderful cover of the book itself, you couldn’t get more conflicted yin and yang if you try.

The Former Queen of Winter, Hannah

Meira starts dreaming of the former queen of Winter, Hannah. To begin with she can’t understand these visions. But in time these dream sequences act as a device to explain, and fill us in on details in this great world-building, magical fantasy.

Winter are Tough Cookies

Winter may be a tough old season, and its people are too.  The Winterians have taken one hell of a bashing, and some of them have just about given up. Our heroine Meira along with her seven other surviving Winterians are tough cookies but can they, and Meira in particular, save and restore Winter to it’s former glory?

Mather and Theron

Mather is introduced to us as the heir to the Winter kingdom, but unfortunately The Winter Kingdom is a matriarchy, where magic is passed on through a female-blooded conduit. So Mather may be a well meaning type of guy, but he just isn’t going to be the one to save the kingdom.

But can our heroine Meira save the kingdom? She spars with the men, is as fierce as the next guy, but there are times when her female side comes to the fore. No more so when she finds herself in amongst several warriors sparring with their tops off. Ok, so this kind of hormonal brain activity brings her  down to normal mortal level, rather than kick ass heroine. But is it a bad thing?  Not altogether in my opinion if the ……. yes, you guessed it …… love triangle is done well, and is shirts off, entertaining!  This trio of love entanglement consists of our heroine Meira,  her first love Mather, and Theron the Prince of the Cordell kingdom, who she is forcibly engaged to, an alliance reluctantly arranged by Mather himself. All’s fair in love and war!

Poor Mather you can’t help but feel sorry for him particularly when it becomes apparent that Meira starts to feel a bit of a smouldering attraction to Theron. Who can blame her? In my opinion, Theron comes across better, than Mather. The love interest is undoubtedly a cute well written diversion but it didn’t inspire me or fire me up quite as much as Meira’s  fierce determination, bravery,  and compassion in the face of adversity. As to the battle scenes these were thrilling, I never realised I was so blood thirsty! Meira sets out to find a solution to save Winter, and well let’s just say this young lady sure fights for what she believes in.

My Recommendation

So to sum up, great characters, wonderful world building, and magic. Just love that word, MAGIC, it just rolls of your tongue.  I loved the idea of the seasons, the rhythms, oh and the decay was just fantastic too.  There are a couple of unexpected twists at the end of the novel, maybe not too surprising a turn of events, but I won’t say anymore on that, no spoilers! This sits beautifully as a stand-alone novel but I do believe there is more to come. A sequel. Fantastic. Definitely looking forward to reading more from Sara Raasch.

As to the criticism that Sara Raasch shouldn’t have made the Winterian’s pale skinned, I think this is taking political correctness just a little too far, thank goodness we’re talking about a magical kingdom here, not real life slavery. Oppression is oppression whatever the colour of the person’s skin. So if it’s dudes with white skin, and white hair, being enslaved, let’s rise up against it! I’m with you Meira!

So highly recommended for readers of high fantasy, fantasy, young adult, romance.

My rating:

4.5 stars.

star-154143_640 star-154143_640 star-154143_640 star-154143_640star-154143_640

My favourite quotes:

The descriptions of winter just make you shiver inside!

“It’s so cold that foreigners have to wrap in layers of fur to walk from building to building, while our natural Winterian blood keeps us warm even in the worst conditions. And snow is everywhere, always, so much that the grass beneath it is white from lack of sun. An entire kingdom wrapped in an orb of eternal winter.”

You just can’t help supporting Meira, she’s strong, STRONG, STRONG!!!!!

“I don’t need made-up strength. I’m strong enough on my own—me, Meira, no magic or conduit or anything.”

“No matter what happens, no matter who turns on me, no matter what pompous swine thinks he has power over me, I am still me. I will always be me.”

This is just so poignant!

“Someday we will be more than words in the dark.”

She wants to be kick ass but also wants to be a woman. GREAT!!!

“I wanted to be a soldier. Someone who would earn standing in Winter. Someone Sir would look at with pride. Someone Mather would look at and —”

“I’m at the center of this, a weird possessive feud between the Winter king and the Cordellan prince.”

These simple words are so visually compelling

“Even the strongest blizzards start with a single snowflake”

“Fear is a seed that, once planted, never stops growing.”

For those amongst us who can’t resist a bit of well-toned bare skin!

“But I just stand there, eyes narrowing to hide the fact that my initial reaction is to gape at Theron’s bare expanse of glistening skin. He’s shirtless — and it’s clear that Cordell subjects its men to rigorous chest exercises.”

“But everything I want to say dies the instant I see him. Because –mother of all that is cold– he’s shirtless too, with only the locket half dangling around his throat and his freckled skin reflecting the sheen of a good workout. “

Have you read Snow Like Ashes? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

file

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica review of Garth Nix’s Lirael

liraelpb

Goodreads synopsis:

Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. Now, two years past the time when she should have received the Sight that is the Clayr’s birthright, she feels alone, abandoned, unsure of who she is. Nevertheless, the fate of the Old Kingdom lies in her hands. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil.

In this sequel to Sabriel, winner of the Aurealis Award for Excellence in Australian Science Fiction, New York Times best-selling author Garth Nix weaves a spellbinding tale of discovery, destiny, and danger.

My review:

This wonderful trilogy was introduced to me on Goodreads via the Hot Key books Old Kingdom READ-ALONG.

It is quite fascinating how Garth Nix fast forwarded the essential elements of the story many years into the future, rather than continuing Sabriel and Touchstone’s more youthful story. We are introduced to Lirael, a young woman who wants desperately to be accepted as a Clayr,  yet she is lacking in one important quality that the Clayr must possess. Each year she grows older but the ability to see into the future, which is a coming of age gift of the Clayr, bypasses her. Lirael can’t help but feel excluded, an outsider, overgrown, useless, lonely and ultimately desperate.

Unable to bare her wretched existence a day longer she decides to commit suicide by flinging herself off of  the glacier, a  dramatic attention seeking act! But she is thwarted  by her own fear and by an unexpected interruption. We are re-introduced to the Abhorsen Sabriel, and King  Touchstone but the two main characters of the previous novel play a much smaller part in this second novel.  Instead of killing herself Lirael  discovers a sense of purpose in the quiet duties of a Librarian, learns Charter magic, and creates the magnificent Disreputable dog a Free Magic creature infused with Charter Magic. If you loved Mogget, an ancient Free Magic cat construct  of unknown origin bound by a red Charter magic collar to serve the Abhorsen, you’ll love the dog. These two furry characters are just so amusing. Loved them both! Their banter is just so on point.

So the adventure continues and what an entertaining ride it is. Along the way we meet Sameth, Sabriel and Touchstone’s son, who is overwhelmed by his princely duties as Abhorsen in waiting. He would prefer to construct toys to catch insects than stare into the eyes of evil Necromancers and who can blame him? He feels inadequate, and the efficiency of his sister Ellimere  just makes him feel even more useless and paranoid.  There are interesting parallels between Sameth and Lirael, but the way in which they deal with overcoming obstacles are quite different. Lirael is without a doubt the stronger character. It is interesting how Garth Nix writes strong female characters but his male characters tend to be a bit lacking and not quite up to the task! All in all, I really enjoyed the character of Lirael, I warmed to her straight away. Sameth was a bit pathetic at times but he grew on me! Even when he tries his best to escape trouble he just seems to walk deeper into its clutches!

The ending came as a bit of a surprise but maybe I should have seen it coming!

Overall, I would highly recommend Lirael to readers of Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, and Adventure.

My rating:

imagesFA9DHJ69

Have you read Lirael? Do comment I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

file

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica Review of Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

untitled

Goodreads Synopsis:

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

My Kyrosmagica Review:

thX6CCXIK9

Rebel Belle really tickled me pink! I love the cover, the sword through the girlie necklace. Our debutante shocks us right at the beginning of the novel with a sudden shift in behaviour.  I must confess I didn’t pay too much attention to the blurb, I just read the story blind and I was so glad I did. I was stunned when our heroine Harper, the girl who was bound to be homecoming queen, ended up in the toilet of all places kicking ass.  At first glance Harper seemed more interested in lipstick and the trappings of being crowned but don’t be fooled, Harper is a Paladin, and Paladin’s aren’t to be trifled with. I liked the title Paladin,  kind of made me think of Aladdin! Actually, there are also Mages, and an Oracle too, but no more about that, just thought I’d whet your appetite a bit!

From that opening night she’s drawn into the biggest responsibility of her whole life,  and believe me this girl is used to a heck load of responsibilities, and extra curricular activities! She must protect David, the guy that she’s  been fighting with since seventh grade. Not only does she have to be his protector but she soon learns that she must protect him at all costs, giving up on all the things she still wants to do, and even to the point of losing her own life. A bit of a tall order! But you get the sense that Harper is up to it, trust me Harper is not one to sit quietly doing nothing. All this with the most important night of her life, Cotillon,  just around the corner. Expectations are high, her sister was also homecoming queen, but there is more to this than I want to divulge in this review. It’s a bit of a spoiler so no more said.

I love the characters in Rebel Belle, they are so well crafted and draw you into the story. Harper and her friend Bee are just such good friends, looking out for each other. David is so cute, and so different from her boyfriend Ryan. I loved the way that Harper and David begin by hating each other but slowly understand and develop feelings for each other.  With her superpowers it is as if she can now see more clearly and realises that even though her boyfriend, Ryan may be a heartthrob, Mr. Popular, and super nice, he may not be the one for her. She needs someone a bit more quirky, and David  could be the one to fit the bill. I also really enjoyed Harper’s aunts, so entertaining. Full marks for characterisation.

The middle section of the novel though good,  dragged a little for me, I would say that the beginning and the end of the novel are absolutely first class. So stick with it, it’s well worth it. Some reviews have criticised the love triangle between Harper, her boyfriend Ryan and new love interest David, but I enjoyed this aspect of the novel. I thought some of the details of the magical powers were stretching the believability factor a bit, but overall I really enjoyed Rebel Belle. It’s a lovely, light-hearted read, just don’t take it too seriously!

end-139849_640
Pixabay.com

I loved the ending so, so much. In fact it made up for any tiny flaws.  I just found it so funny. I won’t go into details as that would spoil it for you, but if you don’t laugh I will have to kill you!

This is a definite Laugh out Loud book, with a wonderful touch of fantasy, if you don’t like stories with these two elements then don’t touch it with a barge pole. But hey, who doesn’t like a good chuckle?

My rating:

star-154143_640  star-154143_640star-154143_640star-154143_640

My favourite quotes:

“Looking back, none of this would have happened if I’d brought lip gloss the night of the Homecoming Dance.”

“I picked up the nearest weapon I could lay my hands on: a stapler. I lifted it, going for “menacing.” I admit it lacked a certain elegance, but hey. It was worth a shot. David placed his hand on my arm and pushed it back down.
“What?”
“Just . . . that’s embarrassing for all of us,” he replied.”

“The great thing about best friends is that they know you really well. And the terrible thing about best friends is that they know YOU really well.”

“He and I had loathed each other since kindergarten. Heck, even before that. Mom says he’s the only baby I ever bit in daycare.”

“Look at him. Whole life turned upside down, and he’s in there making pizza rolls.”

“I had to get out of this before I was killed with some elaborate cutlery.”

“Aunt May, my sweet Aunt May, who taught me how to knit, who bought me a piece of candy every time we went to the store, jabbed a cocktail fork at my eye.”

Recommended for Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Romance, and Contemporary readers. Lots of scope there!

Authors website http://readingwritingrachel.blogspot.com

and her tumblr:

https://therealladyhawkins.tumblr.com

Twitter:

@LadyHawkins

Have you read Rebel Belle? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

file

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica Review of Half Bad by Sally Green

Half_Bad_book_cover

Goodreads Synopsis:

Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

My Review:

I am a big fan of fantasy and love witches, and magic, so Half Bad by Sally Green just said read me. I found the opening chapters of Half Bad really gripping, and Sally Green did a great job of drawing me into the story.

The main protagonist Nathan is the son of the Blackest of black witches.  Nathan is unwanted, a baby that is hidden away in a drawer. His birth is not a cause for celebration, a  card at his birth, says “Kill it.” His early life is horrendous, he is kept in a cage and subjected to a rigorous routine of exercise and torture which would make most mere mortals buckle, but Nathan has the blood of his father, Marcus in his veins, and his father has just a bit of a reputation.  Nathan is an outsider, who is not accepted into white witch culture and is not a fully fledged black witch either. Sally Green does a great job of exploring alienation and prejudice in witch culture and serving it up as a thoughtful reflection for modern-day issues. Also Sally Green’s questioning whether White witches are just as bad as Black witches is an interesting, and thoughtful theme in the book. Will the most evil Black witch of all time have a soft side?

The story takes us on Nathan’s journey to find his father and find his place in this society. So in a sense it is about growing up, and the choices we make, some decisions can and do have disastrous consequences.  Along the way he is constantly questioning, and debating issues of morality, and struggling with his conscience. If he sides with his father, and becomes a fully fledged Black witch will he sell his soul to the devil?

Unfortunately I felt that the promise of the opening chapters did not quite deliver what I was expecting in the latter part of the book. I did feel for Nathan, but his journey to find his father just didn’t quite capture my attention in the way I would have hoped. I found it difficult to connect with some of the supporting characters, apart from Gabriel, Mercury, and Nathan’s brother Arran, and I ended up feeling a tad disappointed when I finally met super black witch, Nathan’s dad, he just didn’t quite match up to my expectations.  The build up was so good, “I know it was him. Only he can make time stop, ” but the dialogue in the final chapter just didn’t quite hit the spot for me. He just didn’t come across in the way I expected. I couldn’t quite picture him.

Though, in Half Bad’s favour I found Sally Green’s use of second person narration developing into Nathan’s first person, point of view an interesting and different way to approach the novel, and I really liked this. I really enjoyed the detail about the witch’s eyes. “Oh well, like nothing else, really. The nearest I can say is that they are thin slices of silver and they move around, twistin’ and turnin’, like bits in one o’them snow-shaker toys. That’s what it’s like.” I also think  Sally Green did a grand job of creating a sense of Nathan’s separateness and uncertainty, and his shocking ill-treatment when he picks a white witch for a girlfriend. Again elements of prejudice  keep creeping their way into this novel, and are handled really well. Also Nathan’s branding at the hands of the council, his tattooed fingers, is an excellent, and imaginative idea. I won’t say any more on that one, as I don’t want to spoil the book for you! So for a thoughtful read about witches that is a bit different from what you have read before this has to score points most definitely.

imagesHX22CU8B

Would I recommend Half Bad?  It was pretty good, but there is so much more to come.  I sense that the second and third books in this trilogy will be so much better, after all this is Sally Green’s debut, and writers tend to progress and improve with future books, so yes I would say read Half Bad, and follow the progress of this author. Also I believe the Half Bad is going to be a film, so that can’t be Half Bad at all! Sally Green really has done remarkably well. She was at YALC at Earl’s court in London this weekend and I was amused by her background, she only started writing four years ago, previously she was an accountant who didn’t consider herself particularly creative, well she certainly discovered her creativity, and good luck to her.

Recommended for readers of Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal, Witches. Magic.

My rating:

This was a difficult one for me  to rate. I was quite torn, it  felt that it wasn’t quite a four star for me, and yet it was above a three star, so I settled for giving it 3.75 stars!

star-154143_640star-154143_640star-154143_640star-154143_640

DISCLAIMER: “As of 13th September 2017 we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”  

My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review. 

Links:

Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/2fM2Jfg

Paperback UK: http://amzn.to/2wgQdKI

For more details of Sally Green and Half Bad: www.halfbadworld.com

Have you read Half Bad? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

file

Marje @ Kyrosmagica x