Embers from Ash and Ruin


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You cannot stop it. My favourites are made up of books that filled me with happy excitement or, alternatively, books that ripped my heart out and made me cry. An Ember in the Ashes , however, made me angry. No, not angry - furious. And damn, it was amazing. You know those rare books that just make your heart pound? Those that take you so far out of the real world that you have to remind yourself afterwards that it's all fiction, or else you won't be sleeping?

For me, this was one of those books. Everything about it was gripping, from the godawful but mesmerizing setting to those two bloody love triangles love square? I don't even care that there were love triangles. That seems like too simplistic a term for this complex web of relationships, anyway. It isn't about choosing between hot dude 1 and hot dude 2, there's far bigger things at stake here and every character is so well-developed that you genuinely wonder and care what their fate will be. This fast-paced story is told from two perspectives.

Laia is one of the Scholars - now ruled over by the Martial Empire - many of whom are poor, illiterate and even enslaved. When her brother is arrested and presumably tortured by the Masks masked soldiers , she seeks out the Resistance for help. However, they will not help her for free and demand that in return she must enter Blackcliff Military Academy as a slave in order to spy on the Commandant.

Elias - the son of the Commandant - makes up the other perspective in this book. Initially, I drew some comparisons between this and Legend , but though I liked the latter, I still don't think it's anywhere near as compelling, interesting, fast-paced or evil as this book. And despite the similar premise, this book branches off in many very different and exciting directions, including the arrival of creatures believed to only exist in myth.


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I mentioned my fury before and I'm going to elaborate a bit. This book is nasty.

Embers from Ash and Ruin by Heather O'Brien - FictionDB

This world is nasty. The Commandant is an evil hellbitch and complete sociopath. There's torture, child abuse and the threat of rape none of it is really graphic but it's effective just the same. The stakes are higher; it made me actually afraid for Laia when she was sneaking about and spying on the Commandant. It's hard to not grind your teeth at the unfairness and simultaneously feel powerless to stop it. It's been a while since I've read such an evocative novel. So, I enjoyed pretty much everything about this book. I liked the varied cast of characters and that Laia wasn't a typical badass heroine but a scared girl going against her every instinct to save her brother.

I loved the use of prophecies and the way Elias has to try and understand what they mean in order to do the right thing. I loved the Augurs - a bunch of hooded holy men who claim to deliver prophecies. Such a great read and I can see people eating it up and being desperate for more. The book is rounded off well and is supposed to be a standalone, but there's room for more here and I'd love to see the author revisit this story and these characters.

Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. A sequel is on the way! View all comments. This was so awesome and engaging, I had trouble putting it down to take breaks for food and sleep! I'm glad the sequel is officially happening, because I need more! I thought both main characters were great. I did prefer Elias' chapters because they were more action packed, though Laia went through some excellent character development!

Overall, this was an awesome read! Probably the best debut novel I've read in a while, and I'm really looking forward to discussing this in the liveshow! View all 19 comments. An Ember in the Ashes is truly a unique and captivating book that I recommends everybody reads!

Embers Ashes - The Eye of the Storm "The Eye of the Storm"

View all 11 comments. I'm sososo happy that there's going to be a sequel. View all 3 comments. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I will be rereading this series and writing a very, very, very scholarly review for it when I return from my holiday. I had been under the impression that my initial review explained my thoughts in enough depth, but apparently not; apparently my opinions on this book and why I did not like it were not clear enough for some people, who continue to feel obliged to enter the comments and explain to me as if I am a fucking idiot why this book was GREAT.

You asked for it. So in two I will be rereading this series and writing a very, very, very scholarly review for it when I return from my holiday. So in two weeks there will be a new review of this book for all of you to enjoy and that will hopefully penetrate the senseless WALL of arrogance that that some of this series' stans have surrounded themselves with. My teeth and ambitions are bared. View all 97 comments. Really enjoyed this one!!! Flew through it - here's my booktalk: The field of battle is my temple.

The swordpoint is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release. A story that will grip. We follow the path of two main characters: Laia is a Scholar in search of her brother. To do so, she aligns with the Resistance, believing they will free her brother if she helps them. Whoever wins will become the next emperor. My lightness melts away.

I was wholly engrossed in the story. While it was slow-paced and the action not present throughout, I never felt the lack of it. A good balance was offered. Some characters were indeed shockingly pitiless or rudely villainous, some emotions so strongly raw that they had an impact on my state of mind, the atmosphere thick and oppressive… but everything was bearable and, instead of discomforting me, it made me want more. It made me want to kick some asses, to break that infectious system of theirs and hold tight to unlucky dear Laia. A love-triangle can be manageable and, under some circumstances, quite pleasurable but, two?

I tried to let it go. She let both guys pursue her heart. That other one — two girls for a boy — could have been avoided. I believe a girl and a boy can truly and only be friends… sigh. But beneath their cold gaze, I feel small. All the beauty of the stars means nothing when life here on earth is so ugly. The other thing is the ending. If this is a standalone set in stone really and unchangingly, it is probably the most infuriating I have ever read, because of the monumental amount of questions that remained inside my head. It would feel as if the story has been cut in two for unknown reasons.

If this turns out to be the first in a new series though, it is one hell of a starter! View all 55 comments. But I have my characters whole lives planned out, so I could write them forever. View all 64 comments. I will graciously accept any punishment you deem appropriate.

I would also like to thank you for bringing this book into my life. Full of life and dark and strength and spirit. You are in our dreams. You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes. Laia and her family try not to stick out, until her brother is arrested for treason and the only way to make the Resistance set him free is to become their spy within Blackcliff, the infamous military academy that breeds human weapons, the Masks, whose only purpose is death and destruction. Until he is informed that the only way to become truly free is to participate in the Trials that will determine the next Emperor, Trials so harsh and brutal that their cost might be too great.

Thoughts Have you ever wished that you could forget a book only to experience reading it for the first time once more? An Ember in the Ashes is one of those books. While I turned the pages, while I inhaled Sabaa Tahir 's words, everything around me ceased to exist. Everything was frozen and the only thing I could hear was my heart.

Sometimes it beat incredibly fast. Some others it was flooded with a warmth that spread through my veins into every inch of my body. It was beautiful and ugly, sweet and brutal, heartbreaking and heartmending. War, battles, trials, espionage, rebels, slaves, ruthless villains, ancient creatures of immense powers, ghouls and wraiths, unbreakable swords , all of them woven together resulted in a story that kept you on the edge, that made you hold your breath and pray that your heroes will be spared the agony and the pain that was about to come.

But it wouldn't happen. They suffered, and you suffered with them. They hurt and you hurt. They were broken and you tried in vain to glue them back together. There was raw brutality that made you cringe, and strength and dedication and courage and harsh decisions that gave you goosebumps. There was hope in despair, light in darkness ,life in death. And I loved every single moment.

They were driven by their passion for freedom, they felt guilty for their actions, they blamed themselves for everything that was wrong in the world. Elias was a controlled chaos, lethal but noble, while Laia was weak and scared but she recognized her fear and she tried to tame it for the sake of the people she loved. You may have heard that there is a love square in this book, but things are a little more complicated. You see, Elias and Laia don't have many scenes together. Both of them have another love interest that makes them confused, but I strongly believe they are mere distactions, a way to show that Elias and Laia come from different worlds and there are people who are more suitable for them, but the attraction and connection between them is off the charts and simply, they belong together.

Which is unfortunate for me because I have a huge I want to have your babies crush on Elias. If you were patient enough to read this review, then you understand you have to drop everything you're doing and grab An Ember in the Ashes as fast as you can. View all 99 comments. My original review for this book consisted of the following statement: And for some reason those three words have kinda pissed peeps off and landed me in some hot water elsewhere.

I feel like enough time has passed for me to give my true feelings. So here they are: This book is mediocre. There's nothing special about it. Nothing groundbreaking is contained in its pages. In other words, it's average. And that's what a 2 star rating for me is. I'm one of those reviewers My original review for this book consisted of the following statement: I'm one of those reviewers who actually goes by the Goodreads ratings.

It also means I can see why others liked it. What it doesn't mean is that the book has no redeemable qualities or that your love for it is misplaced. I also want to point out that I really like Sabaa Tahir and have had the wonderful opportunity to meet her in person. She's truly lovely and I'm happy her novel has done so well. So take several seats if you've come here to troll me. So anyway, now that that's out of the way, back to An Ember in the Ashes.

Sometimes the problem with being a book blogger is that I know too much. Publishers love getting bloggers involved in campaigns to help promote their books because it's a fantastic way to generate hype and buzz for a title. So the expectations I had for An Ember in the Ashes were ridiculously high and probably impossible to meet. I think my primary issue with An Ember in the Ashes is that it bit off more than it could chew and, therefore, only began to scratch the surface.

The halfway developed characters made for uninteresting, multi-POV narration. Even though I listened to the audio version, it only mildly helped the situation. And usually when I run into characters who aren't fleshed out completely, there's the plot to compensate, but not even that worked for me because everything moved at a snail's pace with no clear indication which direction the finish line lay.


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  • Laia's role as a rebel was probably my least favorite aspect of the novel. Not only was she absolutely dreadful at it, but the rebels seemed shocked to find Laia hurt on a number of occasions. Things like this was worthy of an eyebrow raise because Laia was attempting to spy on the most dangerous person in the story, The Commandant, knowing that their previous spies were tortured and killed.

    So why are Laia's bruises a surprise? Elias' POV was no better, to be honest. He spent most of his time mulling over his constant mommy issues and romantic feelings for his best friend. So basically, it was a lot of wangst that I could have done without. Also, he pulls a bit of a dick move that momentarily made me saw red. Not to mention Elias' character arc seems to revolve around a Prophecy and I'm just kinda over that in YA right now. Still, since this is a 2-star review, there are some things that I did like. Deliciously evil and sadistic in all the right ways. She seemed to remain the most consistent and interesting throughout the book and I found myself enjoying scenes that she cameoed in.

    Even though I didn't exactly care for the romance, I enjoy the tension it created and that it caused his best friend to have more page time. She was such a badass and I loved her. Also, I started seeing some forms of a love rhombus and oh god please don't. Tahir ended up killing off a few side characters I didn't realize I actually cared about. The audio narration was especially wonderful during that part. All in all, it's not terrible, but also not knock-your-socks-off-amazing either. I don't feel invested enough to read the sequel since I found this one to be such a chore to get through in the first place.

    However, if I start seeing whispers of a Laia and Helena ship starting to form in book two, I might just need to rethink everything I thought I knew. This review can also be found on my blog, Dana and the Books. This book was amazing. Sabaa Tahir, I love you. An Ember in the Ashes has been hovering on my to-read list ever since it's release about a year ago. It got a lot of praise, a lot of hype, and it's all totally warranted. It even earned a spot on my 'favourites' list. Laia's grandparents are murdered and her brother taken prisoner; her only course of action is to join the resistance against the empire to save her brother.

    Elias is a sol This review can also be found on my blog, Dana and the Books. Elias is a soldier for the empire, but wants nothing more than to desert. At first, I was pretty into it. Then I was really into it.

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    Then I couldn't stop reading And now it's over. Seriously, go read this. It's a fantastic fantasy story with great character development and it will keep you from sleeping because you can't imagine going to bed without finishing the story. View all 15 comments. This one will be popular. This book will destroy you. Elias is mine shhhh no one understands him like I do. View all 12 comments. View all 23 comments. This book was just so damn exciting to read!

    I felt high constantly, because Sabaa Tahir was not letting her readers breath for even a moment. As if they were planning to leave us with that ending and so many plot lines left open. So far, Elias is my favourite character. His section was written really well, or his tone came across better. The multiple POV added a really amazing and fast paced dynamic to the story. The writing did an awesome some at bringing the tension and atmosphere to live. This book was just pure enjoyment. Seems like Sabaa Tahir is destroying her readers with her latest book and I want to be part of it.

    View all 29 comments. There had better be a sequel for this book! Penguin, you can't just leave us hanging there! The first few chapters are absolutely riveting you can read an excerpt here, btw: The feel of this book reminded me of the Legend trilogy, actually, though I think Ember is more complex in plot, characters, and setting. It's fantasy that feels a bit dystopian, which is pretty inter Well, damn. Nearly two years have passed since the events that upended the Grant family. Ben resumes composing from his backyard studio in sunny Key Biscayne, Florida. Chris is less fortunate.

    The official story is as convenient as it is contrived. Questions linger that police cannot—or will not—address. Could a failed burglary account for the tragic turn of events? His gut points him in a singular direction: Meanwhile, Lockhardt Sound, Inc. Once the leader in an ever-changing industry, LSI has suffered under the loss of its three biggest commodities. Worst of all, a Windy City reporter speculates on events the mega-mogul must keep buried.

    Left with little more than creative accounting and a grass roots strategy, Jameson struggles to bring his failing enterprise back to black in time to avoid a buyout. He must retire a success and hand Bobby his rightful legacy. After spending his entire career covering a life of criminal activity, he will go to any length to ensure no one puts him off course.

    When an innocent request from a former colleague leads to a true confession, a life and death race begins. And time is running out. Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review. The great-great-granddaughter of world-renowned cellist Bruno Steindel of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, she can trace back her creative roots to five generations of notable musicians, artists, and toy makers.

    Her family tree contains the branches of many disciplines of the finer arts. A seeker of what motivates the heart, Heather has a knack for creating complex characters who explore the sometimes painful dynamics of life and love, choice and consequence, regret and reconciliation.

    Embers From Ash and Ruin (book 2)

    Though her stories often take place in the entertainment industry, she infuses intense humanity into an industry perceived as lacking the very things that connect us. Each of her books is heavily researched in order to create the most realistic telling possible. Heather grew up in Plumas County, mostly in the small town of Quincy, California. One such story later became the completed first draft of The Ties That Bind, handwritten on spiral notebooks when she was in the 6th grade. She insists this first draft will be cremated with her when she dies.

    Like all human drama, the overarching plotline for her The Ties That Bind saga is multiplex and surpasses the confines of a single novel. Over time, the story has grown from a sequel to a trilogy, and eventually into to a seven-book series. The overall foundation remains the story that found her at age eleven.

    Along with her then-editor, a talented science-fiction writer and enthusiast, she assisted other budding authors with the benefits of her talents and experiences. It is said that the measure of a person is their ability to recognize and control the vectors of life and to control his or her own fate. These carrots and sticks of our psyches are what separate us from these demons. Life specializes in irony and the unexpected. Everything comes at a price.

    Regret is the anguish that lingers deep inside our souls.

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