Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: Snow Like Ashes

SNOW LIKE ASHES
Snow Like Ashes #1
Sara Raasch
Young Adult/Fantasy
432 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

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 THOUGHTS
Snow Like Ashes is as unique as the frozen flakes that haunt the memories of every citizen of the defeated Kingdom of Winter, beautifully rejecting anything remotely formulaic and instead giving us a world of power and cruelty inhabited by people who shine vibrantly even in the shadow of tyranny. Ms. Raasch doesn't waste valuable page time explaining the parameters of Meira's fantasy world or its political and military history, rather she immediately introduces us to young Meira, a gorgeously determined underdog amidst a larger group of underdogs who seek to retake what was brutally stolen from them years before. The connection to Meira therefore forms swiftly and easily, swept up as we are in her quest to prove herself to both the leader of their ragtag group as well as her best friend and longtime crush, Mather. From this emotional foundation Ms. Raasch builds the aforementioned history of Primoria and its kingdoms, first ensuring our hearts are beating in time with Meira's before fully engaging our minds as she skillfully weaves a dark past in and through the shimmering promise of a better future.

Meira is a heroine who easily sets a new standard against which all future female characters will be measured, her fervent desire to be an asset to those around her–to be someone who makes a difference on a scale small or large–inspiring enough that we simply can do nothing but pour every ounce of faith we have into her. Not only is she dedicated to all things Winter and fiercely protective of a kingdom of which she has very little memory, but she also refuses to stay silent and accepting when she disagrees with the actions or orders of those around her. Many times willfull characters can come across as whiny and petulant in their objections, allowing heightened emotion to reduce the effectiveness of their argument, but Meira argues her points with passion backed by logic and reason, forcing the other person to see the validity of her words through the anger or hurt that colors them. She proves again and again that she has a spine of steel, but accompanying that backbone is an impressive self-awareness and ability to recognize her strengths as well as admit to her weaknesses.

Though some readers may feel this story has a love triangle simply because there are two young men in Meira's life, the romance is anything but so simply labeled, and Meira impresses at every turn with her ability to navigate what could easily become emotionally treacherous waters. Though both Mather and Theron express an interest in Meira, their feelings are far more complicated than merely admitting interest, each of them bound to circumstances beyond their control that have a profound effect on the dynamic between the three of them. As the story continues, however, we begin to see how one young man shuts his eyes to the person Meira truly is while the other opens his wide and sees her inside and out. It needs to be mentioned too that the romance, while a notable and intrinsic aspect of this story, is hugely secondary to the journey Meira herself undergoes, her path toward freeing her kingdom from the shackles of a seemingly impenetrable darkness leading to the discovery of who she wants to be as a woman, a friend, a soldier, and a proud Winterian.

Overall, Snow Like Ashes is a stunning debut from Ms. Raasch, characters leaping from the pages and wrapping themselves around our hearts so tightly we have little choice but to give them the full weight of our hope, love and attention. We're thankfully left with one epic battle behind us and no cliffhanger in sight, but on the distant horizon a familiar shadow can be seen, inviting us to count the days until we return to Meira and join the effort to rebuild Winter once again.

Rating: 5/5



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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

44 comments:

  1. Well then, you have me wanting to read it. I know some people have only been lukewarm about it, but it sounds like it's worth a try.

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    1. I hope you give it a chance Christy, it was a huge WIN with me:) Obviously:)

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  2. It sounds so well done! I heard great things about this one and I confess that it made me really curious. The universe sounds wonderful to discover. And it's nice that you don't have a big cliffy.

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    1. YES! I may have flipped to the back first just to check for a cliffhanger and was thrilled when I didn't find one:)

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  3. I do love fantasy...loooove fantasy, so maybe :)

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    1. I adored this one. But then again I adored Heir of Fire, so maybe YA fantasy just isn't for you ;-)

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  4. Awesome review! You have me so excited to check this book out. I love that there isn't the traditional love triangle and Meira sounds like an amazing heroine. I'm definitely looking forward to this one and I'm glad you loved it!

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    1. I ADORED Meira Christina! She was outstanding in my opinion:)

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  5. Excited to see her this weekend! Great review, as usual

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  6. Beautiful review Jenny! If I didn't already want to read this your review would have totally had me convinced. ;)

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    1. Thanks Ali! I hope you give this one a try and love it as much as I did:)

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  7. Snow Like Ashes has me very intrigued, I was very tempted to get this one. Meira sounds like a really strong sensed character which I love in books. I'm kicking myself that I didn't get this book now...*sighs* Great review, Jenny!

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    1. I can't recommend it enough Emma. I just loved the world itself and Meira in particular:)

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  8. EEEEK! I am so excited to read this one, Jenny. Gabrielle reviewed it so it took the pressure off me reading it quickly, but I definitely plan to get to it soon. Plus, Sarah is a local author and she is SUCH a sweetie.

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    1. I'm looking forward to meeting her this weekend!!!

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  9. I have been waiting for your review for this book since you told me you loved it, Jenny and it was worth the wait for sure. :)
    Your review is so gorgeous and you got everything that I loved in this book. One of the things I absolutely loved was how the romance is very secondary to the plot. Plus, the love triangle didn't bother me as much mostly because I find both guys decent although I think one may have a hidden agenda. The wait for the next book is going to be hard! :/
    Lovely review, Jenny!

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    1. YES! I was super concerned when Theron entered the picture, I thought we'd go in the typical YA love triangle direction, but we didn't. Hopefully things don't get stickier in book 2 and this series instead goes the way of Crown of Midnight where the potential for a triangle is done away with entirely:)

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  10. Raasch is a debut author?? I did not know that! I make it my goal to read a few first timers every year, so I'm taking note of Snow Like Ashes. Your 5-star review might have had something to do with that as well. And, no cliff hanger, YAY!!!!

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    1. I believe she is! It says "debut YA fantasy" on her site, so I guess that could mean this is her debut in this particular genre, but I couldn't find any other books on her site either. Either way, I highly recommend this Carmel!

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  11. I just want to stare at that cover. I do so appreciate when the book is as good as the cover.

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    1. Isn't it amazing? And it fits with the story. Which should be a given really, but isn't always ;-)

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  12. I am so excited to read this one. Your review got me even more stoked. I love the sound of the world. I have it scheduled in November after Wicked!

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    1. Can't wait to see what you think Heidi!

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  13. OMG! I'm almost done with this one. I HAD to put it down to do something strange like sleep. Darn it! I so agree with you. I kept expecting to be exasperated with the triangle but didn't. I get it and I see the twist looming. I already want the next book!

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    1. YAY!!!! Glad you're loving it Melissa!

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  14. Huh, and just when I thought this was one to skip! I'm definitely adding it to my list now!

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  15. Woah, 5 Stars? I think it's been awhile since I saw a full five stars from you, Jenny, so that speaks volumes. I've heard that, as far as YA Fantasy goes, Snow Like Ashes is an extraordinarily promising debut. I'm still skeptical to pick it up since I've been burned too often by YA Fantasy in the past, but perhaps if the rest of this trilogy continues to be as solid as this first volume, I'll dive into my ARC of this after all. Wonderful review, dear--so glad you found a new favorite in this.

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    1. I don't give many 5 star ratings Keertana! I think this one and Rites of Passage are maybe the only two this year. I'd have to look it up though:) I just loved it:)

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  16. Glad you enjoyed this one, Jenny! It's funny how I rarely see 5/5 stars from you, and the one you DO rate 5 stars is one I didn't love as much. It sure was a great book, though! Fab review :)

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    1. We all like different things, that's what makes book blogging fun. Glad you enjoyed this one for the most part Hafsah!

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  17. This sounds fantastic and I'm so eager now to pick this up, Jenny! Meira has some great sounding heroine qualities that I would like. I have this for review and now I'm wondering what's been taking me so long to pick this one up. And despite both Mather and Theron expressing an interest in Meira, I'm excited to hear one of them seems to be the right pick who 'sees' her as she should be. Lovely review! :)

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    1. I hope you pick this up Kim! I was really pleased with how the triangle sorted itself out, and Meira was just super low key in terms of romantic drama. I love her:)

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  18. What a lovely review Jenny - I'm thrilled to see 5 stars on this one! I was meant to read it this weekend but life intervened. I could not be more excited to meet Meira and dive into this world! Love this description - "a world of power and cruelty inhabited by people who shine vibrantly even in the shadow of tyranny" Absolutely gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks so much Lauren! Hope you're able to get to it this week!

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  19. *FIST PUMP* This book is awesome right! I totally loved it. So happy you enjoyed it as much as me! WOOHOO!

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  20. Oh wow, what a gorgeously-written review ♥ I'm planning on reading this one soon (probably sooner now) and reading this just made my day :D I love, love, love the way you describe Meira, her journey, her passion and her strenght. She sounds exactly like my kind of heroine! All that stuff about kingdoms always gets me excited BUT this sounds a lot more imaginative and fresh than even I could have hoped for! And the romance sounds wonderfully layered and clearly an added bonus to the core of the story. Wonderful things all around! Can't wait to be caught up and compare notes Jenny!! x

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  21. 5 stars?! Oh I want to read immediately! This sounds like something I will really love. And your review just has me super eager!

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  22. Wow,Jenny, your excitement over this book leaps off the computer screen! I've been anxiously awaiting the release of this book for quite sometime. I can't wan't to meet Meira and am thrilled to learn that there's no love triangle and cliffhanger. I think I'll really like this book.

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  23. YAY!! So glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did :D I just loved the storyline and the characters and the plot and EVERYTHING! Wonderful review :)

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

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  24. It's a huge deal to me that you loved this so much, Jenny! You make the heroine especially sound like someone I want to meet. YES! to this: "Many times willfull characters can come across as whiny and petulant in their objections, allowing heightened emotion to reduce the effectiveness of their argument, but Meira argues her points with passion backed by logic and reason, forcing the other person to see the validity of her words through the anger or hurt that colors them." It is amazing to hear that you were able to sympathize with her so much in situations where other heroines fail miserably.

    I still think I'm going to hold back on reading this, because I want to see a bit more about how the romance plays out. (Crossing my fingers that the love triangle lessens). I do like that it is in the background, and that the heroine continues to be smart about it. Curious which guy seems to be really seeing her, and which one isn't. Great review! I can tell your enthusiasm.

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  25. OH YESSS!! I'm so so happy that you loved this one so muuuch!! I've just landed back home today myself, and here was my signed copy awaiting me and now I'm even more excited to read it, love triangle and all! Even more since you say that it isn't the usual typical love triangle!
    Fantastic review Jenny!!

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  26. Oh woah, I definitely pay attention when a book gets such high praise from you, Jenny!

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