Google+ YA Romantics: Mini-Reviews: Snow Like Ashes and Even in Paradise

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Snow Like Ashes and Even in Paradise

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Welcome to Mini-Reviews, in which I give you a quick opinion on a couple of new books. Today I'm featuring a YA fantasy and a book that I thought was a YA contemp, but is actually a retelling ... and both of them had plot twists that I guessed early on!


Snow Like Ashes
by Sara Raasch
Published on October 14
by Balzer + Bray

Source: eARC from the publisher

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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 mini-take: I'm a big believer in trusting your instincts as a reader. If I'm not connecting with a book after four or five chapters, things rarely turn around for me. I'm also a picky fantasy reader who looks for a simultaneous complexity of world and characters with a simplicity of concept. 

Sadly, Snow Like Ashes wasn't for me. I love strong heroines, but Meira's constant going-to-prove-myself-whatever-it-takes attitude felt reckless rather than brave. I didn't really understand the season-themed story world. The book features a love triangle comprised of three fickle people, and had a plot twist that I saw coming. That was the main reason I kept reading -- I wanted to see if I was right.  (I was!) I can see from my Goodreads stream that some of my fellow bloggers and friends have liked this, so don't take my word for it -- if you're a big fan of fantasy, definitely read other reviews and/or give this one a try. And if you loved this, let me know why in comments!


Even in Paradise
by Chelsey Philpot
Published on October 14, 2014
by Harper Teen

Source: eARC from the publisher

Synopsis from Goodreads: When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do. Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian. But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now.
My mini-take: Even in Paradise felt like a book that I've read many times before.  I wrote that on Goodreads, and then another blogger messaged me and was like, "hey, Jen this is a retelling of Brideshead Revisited." Well ... okay, then.  I haven't read the book, seen the movie or the mini-series, but this still felt like a pretty familiar story:

Charlotte, a poor scholarship student at a fancy boarding school, befriends Julia, a rich, madcap girl from a super-connected Kennedy-esque family. When Julia was fourteen, she was the sole survivor of a car accident that killed her sister and her sister's boyfriend. The story's pace is pretty slow, and there's an obvious CHADDS (Constantly Hinted At Deep Dark Secret) that you have to wait for until the end.  I had a prediction about the CHADDS ... and ... I was right :)

I'm not generally a fan of "wait and wait and wait until the big reveal" plots, unless the reveal is truly surprising. And for me, this story didn't bring anything new or surprising to the whole "rich people behaving badly and then throwing money at all the problems they make" plot. But if you love stories like that -- or if you're a Brideshead fan -- you should definitely give this a try.

If you want to see the plot twist for each book, click on the spoiler button below:

12 comments:

  1. Aww, I adored Snow Like Ashes. It felt like Frozen with but with more drama. I have to read the other book. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I'm glad you loved it -- you were not the only one!

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  2. Sorry you didn't like SLA. I'm a big instinct believer too, if I don't like something by the 100th page, I know it's going to be a painful read. :/

    Amber Elise @Du Livre

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    1. Yes, normally I'd just stop reading. But I was curious!

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  3. i thought Even in Paradise is a retelling of The Great Gatsby? lol that's what i heard. Which is why I stayed away form the book. Also.. I am very hesitant about snow like ashes.. i have an ARC (unsolicited) so I wasn't sure if i'll read it or not but heard amazing things about it. Still, i tried the first chapter and wasn't that impressed. Don't like the love interest or the main protagonist all that well.. still, I'll probably give it another try when I have time for it. Great reviews. I'm also NOT a fan of books that keep you waiting and waiting for a big reveal you already was able to guess easily.

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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    1. It is a similar storyline to Gatsby, but apparently the characters' names are based on BR. In any case, it felt really familiar to me...

      On Snow Like Ashes, I'd say if you aren't liking the main character or the love interest, you may come out like I did. But let me know!

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  4. I can see how Meira's tendency to reckless could be a negative factor

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  5. I was sent like 3 copies of Even in Paradise so I'm gonna try to read it. It sounds cute, I hope I like it.

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  6. awww, sorry SLA didn't work for you :-( I thought the world was a bit convoluted but I did enjoy it by the end. I was not a fan of Theron or the love triangle, grrrr.

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  7. That sucks to hear Snow Like Ashes wasn't your thing! I get annoyed by hero/heroines who have no self-preservation! Love triangle makes my wary, too. Thanks for the mini review!

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  8. Awww I'm sorry you didn't like SLA. Even in Paradise does have a similar story to some comtemporaries. I just thought it was well done, if a bit outlandish in parts. Here's to hoping your next books are better!

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  9. It's a shame you didn't like Snow Like Ashes because on my half, this is something I have been anticipating to read for a while. But then again, one book is not for everyone. As for Even in Paradise, when it comes to books in that genre sometimes it is hard to find ones which are truly unique. Good mini reviews ^^

    http://olivia-savannah.blogspot.nl/2014/10/you-had-me-at-hello-review-giveaway.html

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