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Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Series: Ash Princess Trilogy #1

ash princess -laura sebastianTheodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.


4 Drink Me Potions


**Ash Princess comes out April 24, 2018**

An ARC was provided by the publisher and Indigo Books & Music

My name is Theodosia Eirene Houzzarah, and like my mother and all my foremothers before her, I am a Fire Queen, with the blood of a god in my veins.


Ash Princess features a strong heroine who would not be broken by her captors while placing everything on the line for the people she aimed to serve. This was a story that embraced self-sacrifice, the bonds of friendship forged in the craziest of times, and courage. A totally feel-good kind of story where no matter the trials and sacrifices made along the way, the good people will triumph in the end (although that may occur later in the series).

As other reviewers have mentioned, this book wasn’t necessarily a happy story. Theodosia, otherwise known as Thora to her Kalovaxian captors, was subjected to much abuse. Whether it be the physical markings of a whip to her back or the threat of the ruler wanting her physical body, this story can get a bit much at times. Although I wouldn’t say it was as dark as some recent dark YA fantasies (see Rosamund Hodge or Kendare Blake), it’s still not a pleasant situation Theo’s in.

That aside, there’s plenty to love in this book. All your favourite fantasy tropes are here – whether that be a good thing or not. You’ve got your almost-love triangle (where I for once did not hate it at all), a sworn enemy that the protagonist is attracted to against her strongest will, an evil tyrant ruling their beloved kingdom, and a strong heroine who would do anything for her people. Yes, it sounds like any other YA fantasy story out there, even down to the religion and special abilities derived from the 4 elements of nature, but we read these things because we like them, right?

The romance was sweet. I’m a sucker for a forbidden match where you wonder “how can they possibly be together?” The other potential guy is an amazing match for Theo too, but I’m holding my judgment to see where that’s going.

Secondary characters make you want to believe in their cause. None are perfect. Their experiences have been tough, but these rebels who band around their queen – grudgingly or not – make the foundation of the story. Underlying all the self-growth and courageous themes that Theo had to go through, there’s the strong implication that she’d be nothing and nowhere if it wasn’t for those who were willing to step up, no matter their station and circumstances in life, and do their part for their futures. Including encouraging a queen who felt the weight of all her people on her shoulders.

“…that’s how water works. The river flows, pushing against a stone, even as it knows it won’t move it. It doesn’t have to. Enough currents go by, over enough time, and even the strongest stone gives in. It might take a lifetime or more, but water doesn’t give up.”


Of course, this book wouldn’t be complete without betrayal and an ending that makes you want to grab the next novel! For a debut novel, Laura Sebastian is definitely an author to look out for, especially if you love all these common YA fantasy tropes (and don’t mind the somewhat lack of originality).

Overall Recommendation:
Ash Princess has everything I love about YA fantasies. Featuring a heroine who grows into her own as she faces down an evil tyrant for her kingdom, this story is one of growth, courage, and trusting others. While many of the tropes found in this book are not anything you haven’t seen before in the YA genre, the lack of originality is made up by the real and lovable characters, even the semi love triangle that’s kind of going on. All in all, I would say you should give this debut novel a try as you may find yourself falling in love with these common tropes that really do fit so well together.

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Review: The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

Series: Charlotte Holmes #3

the case for jamie -brittany cavallaroThe hotly anticipated and explosive third book in the New York Times bestselling Charlotte Holmes series.

It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken.

Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for.

Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows her Watson can’t forgive her.

Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it’s clear that someone wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time.

Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.


2 Drink Me Potions


As mysteries go, A Case for Jamie wasn’t too complex or heavily-focused on the whodunit that I particularly enjoy in mystery novels. No, in fact, this story revolved more around the complexity of Holmes and Watson’s messed-up relationship.

I mean, I guess there are people who absolutely adore their strange chemistry lined with thinly veiled sexual tension. I, for one, am not part of that group of people. And while it was mildly more enjoyable due to the fact that Holmes and Watson were separated for the majority of the book, their thoughts revolving around each other and the toxic nature of their dependency, particularly Watson’s, on one another didn’t make me a huge fan.

Okay, I will backtrack and talk more about the ACTUAL story.

A year’s passed since the events of book 2 – no, I am STILL not over the fact of how that book ended even though it’s been over a year since I’ve read it – and you would think Jamie’s moved on with his life a little. There’s been no signs of Charlotte Holmes, who you can guess, is out for blood in the aftermath of the mess SHE created.

Fan favourites Uncle Leander Holmes and Jamie’s father make fun appearances in this book, playing a bigger role in some ways than in the previous ones. The other students at school are still kicking butt when push comes to shove, although that may only apply to Holmes’ ex-roommate Lena. And as usual, someone’s out to pin the blame on Jamie for crimes he didn’t commit. What’s really new, hmm? You’d think, new year, new Jamie, right?

The main plotline is to find Lucien Moriarty. Holmes for one reason, the Watsons and Leander for another reason (and that’s obviously to find Charlotte themselves). While that may seem kind of exciting – we’re chasing an infamous Moriarty who’s actually representing his last name! – like I mentioned before, this story hardly focused too heavily on it. The one highlight I can think of is finally getting to see inside Charlotte Holmes’ head. And it’s not always pretty thoughts that go on inside that girl.

So how do I really feel about this supposed conclusion? I liked that the relationship was kept minimal due to the separation between Jamie and Charlotte. I still think it’s toxic and they’re not really good for each other. I do, however, think the way this book ended felt right, especially on where their relationship stood. It was healing in a healthier way.

The secondary characters could’ve played a bigger role, in my opinion, and that could’ve happened if the main mystery behind Watson’s supposed crimes and the connections to Moriarty were better fleshed out. But I suppose we don’t get everything we want in life. The mystery culprit(s) behind it all was hardly too astounding, very quickly wrapped up and tied with a bow. I didn’t feel very impressed, but then again, I hardly brought many expectations into this book.

Overall, The Case for Jamie fared better than I felt the other 2 books before did in some ways, but it slipped a lot from its potential as a true MYSTERY novel. Would I necessarily recommend this book (or this series, for that matter)? That answer is a blatant no. The will-they-won’t-they nature of their partnership/relationship was too much and overshadowed all else in this series to make it too enjoyable. In that way, it really limited its ability to just soar with a modern day Holmes-Watson pair in America. Why couldn’t Brittany have taken a page from the show Elementary? No tension, just friendship and plenty of ass-kicking mysteries. Now that’s my kinda Sherlock story.

Overall Recommendation:
The supposed conclusion to this modern-day Sherlock pairing was neither exciting or mysterious in any way. While our Holmes and Watson are separated after the events of book 2 (be still my heart!), their POVs revolved too heavily on what the other was doing or thinking instead of the main “mystery” at hand. Someone was trying to make Watson look bad (oh no!), but it’s not like that hasn’t been done before. You could hardly call it a true mystery when SO little of the book space was truly given to it. Aside from possibly making fans of this Charlotte-Jamie pairing happy, this book didn’t make me feel anything, not even anger at this point, which in my books is not good enough. And no, it doesn’t give any more peace of mind about what happened before. In case you’re wondering.

Review: Dream On by Kerstin Gier

Series: Silver #2

dream on -kerstin gierThings seem to be going well for Liv Silver: she’s adjusting to her new home in London; she has a burgeoning romance with Henry Harper, one of the cutest boys in school; and the girl who’s been turning her dreams into nightmares, Anabel, is now locked up. But serenity doesn’t last for long.

It seems that Liv’s troubles are far from over—in fact, suddenly they’re piling up. School gossip blogger Secrecy knows all of Liv’s most intimate secrets, Henry might be hiding something from her, and at night Liv senses a dark presence following her through the corridors of the dream world.

Does someone have a score to settle with Liv?


4 Drink Me Potions


Dream On continues along in the same thread as its first book with whimsical dreaming and the threat of dangerous entities waiting for our protagonists in their dreams.

There are many things I love about this book. First, for a second book in a trilogy, it sure was a fast read. Things have settled down somewhat since the crazy ending events in book 1, but there seems to be something hanging in the air that unsettles poor Liv. And while the danger that presents itself isn’t anything crazy (now don’t be thinking of demons and weird monsters and other fantastical creatures), it’s no less a dangerous threat to these sweet individuals I’ve come to love.

That brings me to this point. The characters. They’re just so…. lovable !

Liv and her sister Mia are fun and so real. They don’t necessarily act like mini adults that a lot of YA seems to portray their protagonists. They’re sweet girls who sometimes have a hard time adjusting to their new familial lives with the Spencer family. They make mistakes – no one’s perfect – but the thing is, neither of them are particularly special either. And they don’t have to be! I love them for how they are, their unique personalities that make them so tangible, without having those super protagonist powers that also are so prominent.

The secondary characters are all unique as well. From the eccentric but sweet au pair to the boys Liv hangs with and the completely intolerable Spencer matriarch, each one isn’t just a cookie cutter mold of someone else that is vaguely familiar.

I will admit that the plot is a bit slow at times, especially when it comes to isolating what this feeling of trepidation is whenever Liv and Henry are exploring the dream corridor. But the romantic tensions between them both drove me nuts and kept me reading like crazy. The progression of their relationship felt real. No need for weirdly complicated love triangles, dastardly plots trying to destroy their relationship or other crazy things that I’ve seen occur. Liv just had her doubts about Henry’s interest in her sometimes. And the trajectory of their sweet romance was a lot fun to follow, especially for you romance lovers out there! It was just enough to the story that added a bit of sugar on top.

I once said that this whole series reminded me of Wonderland. Maybe it’s the covers with the keyhole showing the other side of one’s dream door. Maybe it’s the whimsical and nonsensical nature of what goes on in dreams sometimes. Maybe it’s the innocence and curiosity of Liv that I see in Alice as well. I’m not sure if this extra layer could’ve coloured my view on these books, but either way, I think it’s another solid story added to the series and I can’t wait to see how things go for this wonderful eclectic family of dreamers.

Overall Recommendation:
Dream On has a bit of everything: suspenseful wait for what other dangers may be present, romantic relationships with a certain dreamer and the fun antics of a truly unique family. I loved every single bit of it, but especially the way that Gier makes her characters come alive. For any dreamer out there, I definitely recommend this book – in fact, the whole darn series – for you. ‘Cause in dreams, anything can happen. And the imagination can run wild, although sometimes a little too wild as these wonderful protagonists find out.