Cassandra’s review of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

an-ember-in-the-ashes-by-sabaa-tahirIn the martial empire, inspired by ancient Rome, defiance is met with blood. Any flicker of resistance is instantly snuffed out. Instead the people’s hatred remains hidden, preparing for the right moment to release itself. Within the center of suspense, there are two embers in the ashes who are waiting to spark and burn: Laia, who risks her life to spy for the Resistance from within the Empire’s greatest military academy in order to rescue her brother from the Empire’s hands, and Elias, the academy’s finest soldier who only wants to be free of the tyranny that he is trained to enforce. Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither of them is free. However, together they have the power to change the fate of the Empire, but only if they find the courage to burn.

An Ember in the Ashes literally burns bright in my mind. The action-packed plot keeps the fire going throughout the novel. In contrast to the harsh setting and piercing story-line, the imperfect characters add a tinge of softness to the story. Laia is not the typical brave and brash heroine. She is also not the typical “normal” teenage character placed into a weird situation. Instead, Laia is a PERSON who is struggling with the guilt of running away. Elias, as well, is a PERSON who is struggling between mind and instinct. Both characters are definitely imperfect, but, in a way, that is what makes them perfect for this story. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to see “Ad Astra Per Aspera” in action. This is a story about how people can overcome hardships and reach for the stars.

Cassandra rates this book 5/5 stars

Review: A Fierce & Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

fiercesubtlepoisonLucas lives in Puerto Rico part of the year, where his dad is a developer.  He has friends, but he knows he’s tolerated–an outsider who, despite his nonchalance, desperately wants a place in this world.  Throw in the mystery of the wish granter, missing girls that show up dead on the beach, and poison, and you have the elements of the plot.

If you’ve read any gothic romance, especially of the Nathaniel Hawthorne/Bronte variety, or if you enjoy magical realism, you’ll get a kick out of this book, which takes you from the winding streets of Old San Juan where the old ladies tell tales to the jungle, where not only is the weather out to get you, but the flora and fauna are too.

Mrs. Ashworth rates this book 4/5 stars.

Cynthia’s review of More than This by Patrick Ness

morethanthis-patricknessA boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies. Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive. As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

I… didn’t like this much as I expected to. I loved everything else by Patrick Ness that I’ve read, but parts of this felt unnecessary to me. However, the characters were the best of ever: Regine is terrifyingly cool. Tomasz is Polish and adorable. But it still sounded too much like the Matrix for my comfort… It’s not horrible but not Very Extremely Good either.

Cynthia rates this book 3/5 stars.