Photographer, book reviewer, mama, cat-lover in Seattle. Originally from England.
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**UPDATED WITH REVIEW 2/15/19:
This much-anticipated follow-up to ASH PRINCESS will be releasing on February 5th, 2019!
I absolutely loved Ash Princess so LADY SMOKE immediately went on my TBR as soon as I finished, and then I made sure to receommend it to everyone I could.
If you’re a fan of YA fantasy in the vein of EVERLESS, REIGN OF THE FALLEN, or GRACE & FURY, I would hazard to say you will enjoy Laura Sebastian’s books.
**So, I am still waiting for my ARC from the publisher (there was a change of marketing personnel at the time of submitting addresses), SO I am going to put the blurbs below, as well as the GIVEAWAY INFO.
Also, make sure to check out my previous review for ASH PRINCESS (see about the book below) and PREORDER LADY SMOKE NOW!
Thank you to Rock Star Book Tours for having me on the tour!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, LAURA SEBASTIAN
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.
ABOUT THE BOOK
LADY SMOKE (Ash Princess Trilogy #2)
**you can read about Ash Princess below, plus the link to my previous review)
Pub. Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
The sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that was "made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir" ( Bustle ), Lady Smoke is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people.
The Kaiser murdered Theodosia's mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo's country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess--a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn't realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.
Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage--Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser's rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.
To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.
Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.
MY REVIEW OF LADY SMOKE
Theodosia has now finally fled Kalovaxia and captivity under the vicious, cruel Kaiser. With the aid of her aunt, the notorious dreaded pirate Dragonsbane, she sails on the Smoke with her crew of friends Artemesia, Blaise and Heron, to Sta’Crivera where she is expected to find a husband and marry. This is the task of the new Queen of Astrea if she expects to gain an army that will go back with her to seek revenge on the Kaiser. Theo also has to bear the fact that they are holding Prinz Søren as prisoner (basically a bargaining chip); since he is the son of the Kaiser, and the person who dangerously holds her heart, she has to find ways to ingratiate him to those who see him as the enemy.
In Sta’Crivera they are given the royal treatment by their host King Etristo as she is paraded in front of suitors from lands near and far; if she marries a husband who will secure her the troops she needs, she will have to give access to the mines that hold the magical gems. But as much as Theo loves Astrea, she is torn between what is right for her people, and by what is true in her heart: staying independent and free after being held captive for so long and by not being treated like an object herself.
It has been (a bit over) a whole long year since I closed up Ash Princess and easily declared it one of my favorite YA fantasy reads. Laura Sebastian swept me away with the magic and darkness of her first book and so I was nervous and excited to read the follow up.
This has everything one could ask for in the perfect YA fantasy: excellent world-building, which keeps right on building seamlessly from the first book, also equal elements of all the right things, adventure, romance, complex relationships, friendships, treachery, and a good amount of fighting and some murder.
*Trigger warning: Theo was subjected to years of abuse at the hands of the Kaiser, and along with discussion and flashbacks for that, there is a good deal of violence involving descriptions of battles and deaths.
The underlying themes that again come through with Sebastian’s writing are those of obligation and duty, vs. fighting for your beliefs and the good of those around you. The bonds of the characters in Lady Smoke also speak to the importance of loyalty and trust. Character development is excellent, and I have come away from the second book with an even stronger attachment to Theo and the others, and a more vivid sense of the world that they live in.
Theo resists norms and also questions the Sta’Criveran’s emphasis on outward beauty; she also shows a lot of compassion to the refugees, and is frustrated by the barriers of the deeply patriarchal society she lives in. All of these elements make her and the plot highly relatable. There are also some great plot twists as the novel moves into high gear, and Theo really has to push past her grief and sadness about the past, reach a place of acceptance, and then find a lot of courage to reach her goals.
Smoke didn’t disappoint me one word, this book being even chunkier than the last one. Yet it still wasn’t long enough at 512 pages, as I never wanted to this to end. Thoroughly captivating; I can not wait for Book #3!
And so, you must enter this awesome GIVEAWAY!
THREE FINISHED COPIES of LADY SMOKE are up for grabs (US only), and you can enter for that HERE!!
I'm right at the end of the blog tour this time so you will have missed all the other posts but you can catch up with everything at Rock Star Book Tours!
ABOUT ASH PRINCESS
If you haven't read the first book, right about now is when you should go and read it, as you have time before the release of Lady Smoke! Quick! (before 2.5.19)
My previous post with review for ASH PRINCESS is RIGHT HERE, so be sure to check that out!
ASH PRINCESS (Ash Princess Trilogy #1)
Author: Laura Sebastian
Pub. Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Theodosia 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.
**I truly hope you delve into this spell-binding trilogy; I can't wait for the next book already!