Ember Queen by Laura Sebastian

Ember Queen (Ash Princess Trilogy #3)
Author: Laura Sebastia
Publisher: Delacorte Books For Young Readers
Release Date: February 4th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Fiction, High Fantasy, Science Fiction, Magic, Epic Fantasy

The thrilling conclusion to the series that began with the instant New York Times bestseller “made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir” (Bustle), Ember Queen is an epic fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people.

Princess Theodosia was a prisoner in her own country for a decade. Renamed the Ash Princess, she endured relentless abuse and ridicule from the Kaiser and his court. But though she wore a crown of ashes, there is fire in Theo’s blood. As the rightful heir to the Astrean crown, it runs in her veins. And if she learned nothing else from her mother, she learned that a Queen never cowers.

Now free, with a misfit army of rebels to back her, Theo must liberate her enslaved people and face a terrifying new enemy: the new Kaiserin. Imbued with a magic no one understands, the Kaiserin is determined to burn down anyone and everything in her way.

The Kaiserin’s strange power is growing stronger, and with Prinz Søren as her hostage, there is more at stake than ever. Theo must learn to embrace her own power if she has any hope of standing against the girl she once called her heart’s sister.

The Ember Queen is both a bittersweet and sweeping end to this trilogy. I think the strongest thing about this story is the amazing character arcs and how it doesn’t shy away from horrors of war.

I have two character arcs in particular that are my favorites. The story of Theo and Blaise is probably a top one. You might groan and go ugh a love triangle but it’s not that at all. Not really. Theo and Blaise's story from the beginning to the end is such a great exploration of a relationship that can mean different things at different times. It ranges from love, to codependency, to friendship and even at times slight enemies. I loved watching their story and the ending of it was one that made sense.

The other character arc that I found to be amazing was Thora and Cress. There are so many many layers to this deeply flawed friendship. From the very beginning they have a friendship based on situation. I think the first book really explored the complications of that. Of how Thora is a prisoner and her friendship with Cress is a little Stockholm. The thing as Thora was confused about it, I was confused about it. When she escapes and becomes herself, Theo dosia, she leaves Thora behind with Cress. No matter what happens though, I think it’s a part of her that she can never truly shake off. Their ending is also really really fitting and I felt like well done.

Theo has many different roles she has played in her life. Going from Thora to finding herself again and taking up her moniker as Queen Theodosia. What I think is her true form though is Theo. The girl who was broken and put back together and loves her friends fiercely. Who thought she would never trust again but finds that not everyone in the world is cruel. She has to make the hard decisions as Queen Theodosia and she has to live with those decisions as Theo. I really loved her character and seeing her change. Her own story arc is very much entwined with the characters around her but definitely stands out on her own.

Again there are so many character arcs I could talk about but I think those are just my top three. Yes, Soren, Art, Eric, Dragonsbane and Heron are also important ones that really drive the plot as well. This review would be fifty pages if I kept going.

The plot has gone from a spark in Ash Princess to quite the intensive war in Ember Queen. I read Lady Smoke and Ember Queen one right after the other and I almost can’t imagine doing it any other way. The two books flow so perfectly from one to the other that I almost can’t find the seam. I don’t doubt if I read the whole trilogy that way it would be the same. Nothing is held back in the war, not casualties and not brutalities. It’s heartbreaking to see the things that people have to endure but also that is the way of war. It’s not pretty and it’s not pretty in the story. There are victories and losses and things you hate to see happen. I really liked the plot there was only one thing that I wasn’t the biggest fan of. It was the introduction of a weapon that I didn’t think was needed and felt too out of place. There is so much and it’s so well excuted, fast paced and interesting.

I really loved this trilogy and I would recommend it to anyone. The characters development is just so great. I can’t say enough about it.

Laura Sebastian was born and raised in South Florida (the Redlands and Key Largo) and has always loved telling stories–many apologies to her little brother who often got in trouble because of them. No copies of her first book, a Cinderella retelling about angels circa 2nd grade, remain. Thankfully.

After getting her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, she moved to New York City thinking that she would stay for a couple of years before going somewhere better suited for a small-town, sun-loving girl. Five years later, she’s still here and madly in love with it.

When Laura isn’t writing, she’s probably reading, baking cookies or cupcakes, buying more clothes than her overstuffed closet can fit, or forcing her lazy dog Neville to take a walk.

Her debut ASH PRINCESS, the start of a YA fantasy trilogy, will be out April 24th, 2018 from Delacorte (Random House).

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Prize: Win (1) copy of THE EMBER QUEEN by Laura Sebastian (US Only)
Starts: 16th March 2020
Ends: 30th March 2020
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Bone Crier's Moon by Kathryn Purdie

Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace #1)
Author: Kathryn Purdie
Publisher: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen
Release Date: March 10th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Bone Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.

Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.

Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die.

Bone Crier’s Moon is such and intriguing and different story. I really loved it and the characters.

We get the story in three perspectives Bastian who is hungry for revenge against the Luress that killed his father. Sabine who is the best friend of the Luress heir. Ailesse the heir to the Luress “throne” which is really just the leader of the group of Bone Crier’s.

I really enjoyed all three POV’s. Even though Bastian is bent on revenge, he isn’t unreachable. He tries to hold on to his misconceptions and hate but he is able to see the truth. I really liked him, even when he wasn’t necessarily the most understanding, he is always kind because that his the base of his personality.

Bastian has two accomplices Jules and Marcel who are siblings. They also lost their father to a Bone Crier but in a different way than Bastian. I did not like Jules, even before all the characters came together. There was just something about her that bothered me. Then I felt bad because maybe I should be more understanding. She’s driven by jealousy and hate and it kind of seemed like she didn’t want to let go of it.

Ailesse is such a great character because she is so strong and so driven. She has her own issues because she has never really felt like she is good enough. Her love for Sabine is one of her best qualities. The bond and relationship between the two of them is one of my favorite friendships of all time. They are support one another and call the other out when they are being stupid. I also like how Ailesse isn’t afraid to question what she’s been told her whole life. She really takes the information others give into consideration. She also tries to explain her side of things, even when people don’t listen.

I loved Sabine because she had the most character development in the story. I really like her arc and don’t want to give too much away about it.

The plot is so creative, it kind of felt like a combination of some myths. Bone Crier’s kind of reminds me of a combo of banshee and mermaid. I thought the way they obtain their magic and ferry the souls was also really creative. As far as world building, we get a lot in the catacombs if not so much the city proper but I felt completely immersed. Even with the small areas we go between. It’s just a really great plot for some reasons.

I can’t wait for the next book. I want to see what happens with these characters. Bone Crier’s Moon ranks high on my list this year.

Read an Excerpt
Kathryn is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the BURNING GLASS series. Her love of storytelling began as a young girl when her dad told her about someone named Boo Radley while they listened to the film score of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Kathryn is a trained classical actress who studied at the Oxford School of Drama. She also writes songs on her guitar for each of her stories and shares them on her website. Kathryn lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and three children.

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Prize: Win (1) of (3) signed hardback copies of BONE CRIER'S MOON, a set of two character bookmarks, and an 11x17 poster of the book cover (US Only)
Starts: 4th March 2020
Ends: 18th March 2020
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Havenfall by Sara Holland

Havenfall (Havenfall #1)
Author: Sara Holland
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release Date: March 3rd 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it--at any cost. New York Times bestselling author Sara Holland crafts a breathtaking new contemporary fantasy perfect for fans of Melissa Albert and Holly Black.

Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds--each with their own magic--together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.

For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie's brother. It's where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it's where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.

But this summer, the impossible happens--a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She'll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she's letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie--no one can be trusted, and no one is safe . . .

Sara Holland takes the lush fantasy that captured readers in Everless and Evermore and weaves it into the real world to create a wholly captivating new series where power and peril lurk behind every door.

Havenfall reads like a murder mystery in a mythical place that combines different fantastical worlds. I loved both the magic and mystery element to it.

Havenfall is such a cool idea. It’s an inn that resides on Earth and It’s the only realm that doesn’t have magic and so it’s considered a neutral zone. This is why Earth is called Haven by other worlds. There are many doors leading to other realms but most have been closed due to either the world dying out or disagreements. One in particular is Solaria which is what a lot of the story is based around. I really like how the magic system works. Although for some reason I kept mixing up the two worlds that were open even though their names are nothing alike it was really interesting. I’ve always loved when you get to have different fashions and cultures in a fantasy world.

I don’t want to give away the plot because there are lots of twists and turns. Not all that I was expecting, some I probably should have seen but didn’t. There are hints to things and there were points when you knew certain things were connected but not exactly how. I liked it, I think a mystery always keeps a story moving.

I feel bad for Maddie. There are things that she has to deal with, with her mom that I feel like if someone had just told her the whole truth might have relieved some parts of it. Not all of it. She is very resilient though, she always pulls herself up again. Even if she would rather just curl into a ball. She kept moving because she needed to.

So there is a little bit of a love triangle but the characters weren’t all interacting at the same time. Not really so it wasn’t annoying. Brekken is the boy she’s loved forever and Taya is the new girl that brings a different element to her life. I loved the way Maddie and Taya meet because it just reminded me of some kind of old school movie.

I enjoyed Havenfall and I think it will be interesting to see where the story goes. I liked that the ending felt good. It wasn’t that there weren’t questions to be answered but it ended in a good place.

Sara Holland grew up in small-town Minnesota among hundreds of books. She graduated from Wesleyan University and worked in a tea shop, a dentist’s office, and a state capitol building before heading to New York to work in publishing. These days, she can be found exploring the city’s bookstores or finding new ways to put caffeine in her bloodstream. EVERLESS is her debut novel.

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