Book Review: The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

Book Review: The Story of My Life by Helen KellerThe Story of My Life by Helen Keller
Published: 1902
240 pages
Genres: Classic, Memoir
Source: Purchased

 
The Short, Sweet, and Spoiler-Free Blurb:

An American classic rediscovered by each generation, The Story of My Life is Helen Keller’s account of her triumph over deafness and blindness. Popularized by the stage play and movie The Miracle Worker, Keller’s story has become a symbol of hope for people all over the world. 

This book–published when Keller was only twenty-two–portrays the wild child who is locked in the dark and silent prison of her own body. With an extraordinary immediacy, Keller reveals her frustrations and rage, and takes the reader on the unforgettable journey of her education and breakthroughs into the world of communication. From the moment Keller recognizes the word “water” when her teacher finger-spells the letters, we share her triumph as “that living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!” An unparalleled chronicle of courage, The Story of My Life remains startlingly fresh and vital more than a century after its first publication, a timeless testament to an indomitable will.
4 Stars

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller is a beautiful memoir about the power of love, language, and learning.  It was sad and humbling to hear Helen describe how desperate she was to communicate with people.  Since Helen was deaf and blind, she would go into a rage after being so frustrated that no one could understand her.  That really struck home with me.  In college, I babysat a 5 year old boy who couldn’t talk because he had cerebral palsy.  He could answer yes or no to my questions by shaking or nodding his head.  There were times when I asked every question I could think of and he would break down in tears of frustration – just like Helen Keller described.  It was heartbreaking to see.  When the boy I babysat went to school and learned more complex sign language, he lit up.  I still remember the first time he was able to tell me a story.  He was absolutely glowing with joy.  Helen Keller’s story of learning was very touching to me since it similar to the experience that the boy I knew had.

How she was able to learn language was very interesting to read about since she was old to enough to remember the experience of understanding words for the first time.  Her teacher, Annie Sullivan, used a method of teaching with Helen that had never been done before.  The pedagogy behind how Annie taught language to someone who couldn’t hear or see was fascinating.  She had to break down and really think about how kids normally learn language and translate it into the senses that Helen had access to.  She realized that kids acquire language through imitation and through hearing it all day long every day.  So Annie would spell words into Helen’s hand all day long about everything they were doing even though Helen didn’t know what the words meant yet.  Helen learned that words represented the things that she could touch.  It was a bittersweet moment when Annie tries to teach Helen what love is and Helen can’t understand why her teacher won’t show it to her.

…how happy your little Helen was when her teacher explained to her that the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.

-Helen Keller, in a letter written to Rev. Phillips Brooks, June 8, 1891.

Before reading this, I had never realized how important books would be to Helen Keller.  They were a huge part of how she experienced a world that she couldn’t see or hear.  She talked about books as if they were her friends.

I have not shown how much I have depended on books not only for pleasure and for the wisdom they bring to all who read, but also for that knowledge which comes to others through their eyes and their ears. Indeed, books have meant so much more in my education than in that of others …

– Helen Keller, The Story of My Life, Chapter 21

There was a huge list of books that she read.  You know me.  Of course I wrote them all down.

Books Helen Keller Read

  • As You Like It By William Shakespeare
  • Speech on Conciliation with America by Edmund Burke
  •  Life of Samuel Johnson by Thomas Macaulay
  • Child’s History of England by Charles Dickens
  • The Arabian Nights
  • The Swiss Family Robinson
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • Little Women
  • Heidi
  • Ivanhoe
  • Iliad
  • Aeneid
  • Treasure Island
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • Jungle Book

Because reading had such an influence on her, she often described things the way that someone could see would.  She would describe trees as green even though she had never seen the color green because that’s what books described them as.  That being said, I noticed that a lot of her descriptions – especially of nature – centered on their scent and feel.  Also, I want to write book reviews the way that Helen Keller does.

The “Iliad” is beautiful with all the truth, and grace and simplicity of a wonderfully childlike people while the “Aeneid” is more stately and reserved. It is like a beautiful maiden, who always lived in a palace, surrounded by a magnificent court; while the “Iliad” is like a splendid youth, who has had the earth for his playground.

– Helen Keller, in a letter to Mrs. Laurence Hutton, October 23, 1898

Helen desperately wanted to go to college but practical things made it extremely difficult.  She struggled with being able to even take tests since they had to be dictated to her.  Books weren’t available in braille quickly enough and she would fall behind in classes. Lectures had to be written down in advance for her to follow along.  It makes me appreciate not only my education but the technology today that allows equal access to books for people with disabilities.  I just wanted to travel back in time and make her books because they were so hard to get in braille!  As much as Helen loved books, she hated tests.  Like really, really hated them.  She describes the feeling of forgetting an answer on a test perfectly.

You are sure it is somewhere in your mind near the top—you saw it there the other day when you were looking up the beginnings of the Reformation. But where is it now? You fish out all manner of odds and ends of knowledge—revolutions, schisms, massacres, systems of government; but Huss—where is he? You are amazed at all the things you know which are not on the examination paper.

– Helen Keller, The Story of My Life, Chapter 20

She talks about the administration of the school and how they sometimes unintentionally made things even more difficult for her.  But instead of letting it frustrate her, she felt accomplished that not only had she gotten an education but she had overcome the challenges in getting one as well.

Overall, it’s an amazing story of overcoming difficult trials and making the best of what is given to us.

Content Rating: None. Clean read.

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links. 

About Helen Keller

Helen Keller

Helen Keller would not be bound by conditions. Rendered deaf and blind at 19 months by scarlet fever, she learned to read (in several languages) and even speak, eventually graduating with honors from Radcliffe College in 1904, where as a student she wrote The Story of My Life. That she accomplished all of this in an age when few women attended college and the disabled were often relegated to the background, spoken of only in hushed tones, is remarkable. But Keller's many other achievements are impressive by any standard: she authored 13 books, wrote countless articles, and devoted her life to social reform. An active and effective suffragist, pacifist, and socialist (the latter association earned her an FBI file), she lectured on behalf of disabled people everywhere. She also helped start several foundations that continue to improve the lives of the deaf and blind around the world.

Audiobook Review: Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton

Audiobook Review: Soul Surfer by Bethany HamiltonSoul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton
Published: October 1, 2004
Narrator: Eleni Pappageorge
Audiobook Length: 3 hrs and 52 mins
Genres: Memoir, Young Adult
Source: Library

 
The Short, Sweet, and Spoiler-Free Blurb:

The amazing story of the thirteen-year-old surfer girl who lost her arm in a shark attack but never lost her faith -- and of her triumphant return to competitive surfing.They say Bethany Hamilton has saltwater in her veins. How else could one explain the tremendous passion that drives her to surf? How else could one explain that nothing -- not even the loss of her arm in a horrific shark attack -- could come between her and the waves?

"Soul Surfer" is a moving account of Bethany's life as a young surfer, her recovery in the wake of the shark attack, the adjustments she's made to her unique surfing style, her unprecedented bid for a top showing in the World Surfing Championships, and, most fundamentally, her belief in God. It is a story of girl power and spiritual grit that shows that the body is no more essential to surfing -- perhaps even less so -- than the soul.
3 Stars

After watching the movie Soul Surfer, I wanted to read the original biography that the movie was based on.  The story line in this book was very similar to the movie but I think I liked the movie better.  The movie focused on her struggles and overcoming them.  The book focused more on her life before and after the shark attack and what she learned from it.  If you liked the movie, the book is still definitely worth reading because it shows what an amazing person she is and how she learned from all of it.  But I feel like the book was a lot of telling about her life instead of showing us the details of what happened.  Even though it was short it made it a little difficult to get through because the writing wasn’t that great.  I felt like I connected more with the story in the movie.

At the end of the book, she also talked about the experience of making the movie which was fun to listen to.  She did all the surfing in the movie which I didn’t know until I read this.  Bethany Hamilton also talked about the history of surfing which I thought was so cool.  I could really see her passion for the sport come through in Soul Surfer.

Narrator Rating: ★★★★

The narration for this novel was great.  The narrator did an amazing job of reading this like a teenager would.  She was interesting to listen to and read at a great pace.

Overall, a great read about overcoming hardships from an inspiring teenager.

Content Rating: Mild, for non-graphic descriptions of a shark attack.

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links.  

About Bethany Hamilton

Bethany Hamilton

Bethany Hamilton has become a source of inspiration to millions through her story of faith, determination, and hope. Born into a family of surfers on February 8, 1990, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, Bethany began surfing at a young age. At the age of eight, Bethany entered her first surf competition, the Rell Sun Menehune event on Oahu, where she won both the short and long board divisions. This sparked a love for surf competition within her spirit.

At the age of thirteen, on October 31, 2003, Bethany was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. The attack left Bethany with a severed left arm. After losing over 60% of her blood, and making it through several surgeries without infection, Bethany was on her way to recovery with an unbelievably positive attitude. Lifeguards and doctors believe her strong water sense and faith in God helped get her through the traumatic ordeal.

Miraculously, just one month after the attack, Bethany returned to the water to continue pursuing her goal to become a professional surfer.

Married at the age of 23 to Christian youth minister, Adam Dirks, Bethany has a story that is continually growing as she strives to be the best at whatever God calls her to do. The future is truly wide open for this young soul surfer!

Flashback Friday: Welcome to the First Class You Will Ever Fail

Flashback Friday is a feature I did in 2011 when I first started this blog.  It was a way to practice my writing by sharing stories of things that happened in my life.  This feature is what inspired the name of my blog.  This short story is about a class I took in college where I got the first F of my life and it was quite shocking.  Hope you enjoy it.

“Welcome to Piano Literature! I’m Professor Beekman and we will be studying the wonderful world of the Romantic period.  Lizst, Brahms, and Chopin are just some of the great composers we will get to know this semester.  Please take one syllabus and pass them down.”

Professor Beekman seems nice.  He’s young unlike most of the piano professors.  He’s average height and has a gentle smile, unlike the head of the piano department who is short, terrifying, and smiles in a condescending way.  Professor Beekman also still has all of his hair which is a nice bonus.

“Are there any questions before I hand out the music?”

YES. WHAT THE CRAP IS PIANO LITERATURE.

I’m about to raise my hand but I look around the room first.  Two students are sleeping, four are staring off into space and the girl next to me is taking detailed notes.  Great, I’ll be the idiot freshman who wants to know “What IS piano literature?”  I don’t raise my hand.

During the noise of CDs being passed around the class along with huge notebooks that contain the scores to the CDs with at least 100 pages in them, I turn to the girl next to me who was taking notes.  Her name is Maggie.

“So…what is piano literature exactly?” I try to seem curious and not dumb by slouching a little and twirling my pencil casually.

“I don’t really know, either.” She shrugs with a small smile.

That’s okay.  I’m sure I’ll do great in this class even if I don’t know what it’s even about yet.

CRYING MAKES MY PROFESSOR QUOTE TOLSTOY

Here’s the short version of what piano literature is: it’s the class from hell.  The long version: It’s a class to help you recognize all of the major piano works just by listening to them and learning about the lives of the famous piano composers.  To accomplish this we have to take tests that are so laughably hard that my friends thought I was kidding when I described the tests to them.

For our first quiz, Professor Beekman plays 30 second clips from the four hours of music the we have been listening to.  And he doesn’t play the main themes of the pieces that everyone recognizes.  Oh no. That would be too easy. He takes way too much delight in playing the very obscure, transitional parts of the music.  I can’t remember the names of any of the pieces.  I should have memorized them.  You know that charming, beautiful music from the romantic period? It all sounds the same.  I end up getting 2 out of 5 right on my first quiz.  The seniors that were sleeping on the first day of class all get 4 out of 5 right.  That should be me.  I slept through calculus in high school and still got an A. Something must be wrong.

I talk to my professor after class about my grade and explain that I correctly identified the Hungarian Rhapsody.  “I can live with a C if I get this one more question right….”  He smiles a little and says “But the title of the song is Hungarian Rhapsody NUMBER 2.”

“But you didn’t say we had to list the whole title of the song.”

He helpfully suggests that he’ll announce it in class next time and now I know.

He must have been Snape in another life.  He walks out the door but he sees me crying before he gets there and says some quote from Tolstoy about how everyone is unhappy in different ways.  THANK YOU THAT’S VERY HELPFUL.

I have to come up with a plan to pass this class.

STUDYING STRATEGY #1 – BUY ENOUGH BATTERIES TO FILL A SMALL LANDFILL.

I can feel my husband watching me as I cram my portable CD player, my bulky headphones, my CD wallet, and a ten-pack of batteries into my backpack.

“What are all the batteries for?”

“I have to listen to my CDs to study for piano lit.  My portable CD player eats batteries for breakfast.”

“But….10 batteries?”

“I know.  I hope it’s enough to get through the day.”

The study by osmosis method didn’t work.  I thought I could just listen to the music over and over without really paying attention since I can memorize tons of radio songs that way.  Learning this music is going to take more work.  I listen to my piano lit CDs for at least an hour and a half every day.  And now I know that he loves transitions.  So I pay special attention to the strange parts of the pieces.

The professor hands back my first test.  I got 35 right out of 100. How pathetic is that.  It’s not even enough for random chance.  It’s like my brain is trying to get them wrong.  At least I didn’t cry this time.

And then.

THEN.

He passes out four more CDs with FOUR MORE hours of music to learn.  We get a new set of music at the end of each month.

I can’t breathe.  How is everyone else passing this class? Why did I decide to be a piano major?

STUDYING STRATEGY #2 – TO PASS THIS CLASS YOU MUST KILL TREES

“It’s okay. I didn’t do so well on my test either,” Maggie says as she looks at my test.  I glance at her paper.  She got a C. I’ve never gotten one of those either.  I went from an A student right to an F student.  It would have been nice to pass through mediocrity first before I went straight for failure.

“A bunch of us are going to study together.  Do you want to join us?”

Heck yes I do.  I’m no longer Hermione. I’ve officially become the Ron of this study group.

The study group gives tips for remembering transitions that sound similar in songs.  I also notice that all of them have copied the over 100 pages of the scores for the music.

“How do you even copy 100 pages of music?” I ask Maggie at one of our study sessions.

“Oh it’s easy actually.  They have a tray the feeds the paper for you.  But you’ll need to get a copy card to copy that many pages.”

Between the batteries and the copy card, this class is costing me a fortune.

I stare at the pages during the study sessions like everyone else.  I’m not exactly sure what they are looking for.  I memorize all the names of the pieces and ask my professor if I can write them down on a piece of paper before the test starts.  Maybe the confidence of having options to look at will help.  It’s clear from the look on his face that in all the years he’s taught this class,no one has ever asked him that but he says it’s fine.

I get 40 out of 100 right this time.

I’ve gone from a straight A high school student to completely failing a class.  Half of my grade is an F.  After lots of calculations, I figure I can get a C- if I get 200% on the next two tests.

“I shouldn’t be a piano major.” I tell Maggie as we leave the classroom.  “I suck at it.  No matter how much I listen to the music, it just falls out of my head.”

“No, you don’t suck! Everyone just learns differently.  We’ll study  more and you’ll do great.”  Maggie then gives me a hug and a big smile.

She’s annoyingly chipper.

At the end of the day, the broken record of “I’m a failure” and “Everyone learns differently” is still playing in my head when I realize something.

I LEARN DIFFERENTLY.

I have almost photographic memory for things I read and see but I’ll forget the beginning of a conversation by the time I get to the end of one.  Especially if the person yammers on a lot.  I remember learning in psychology that some people are visual learners and some are aural learners.  Now that I think about it, I realize that I am definitely a visual learner.  I can totally pass this class if I find a way to make piano lit visual instead of aural!

Right. I have no idea how to do that. I’m pretty sure it’s not possible to make a listening test visual because it’s, you know, a LISTENING TEST.  But I need to do this for me.  No matter what grade I end up with at the end of the semester, I can’t help thinking that I haven’t failed until I give up.  This is a class for my major.  If I don’t pass, I can’t be a piano major anymore.  Besides – what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll get another F?  The thought makes me laugh for a moment before it turns into a sob.

STUDYING STRATEGY #3 – CRAYONS AREN’T JUST FOR PRESCHOOL

“What are you doing?” my friend Maggie asks.

“I’m studying for piano lit.”

“Ok. But what’s with the crayons.”

I look at my score spread out before me.  There are blue circles, green lines, and red dots just on this page alone.

I shrug. “The colors help me remember the themes. Hopefully.”

It’s the last test of the semester.  I’ve been studying 3 hours a day for this class alone.  I spent the last of my money on a brand new iPod Mini just for this class that even has a built in quiz function.  I think my classmates are a little jealous of it.  At my desk, I furiously write down my song list before he begins the first clip.  I am so ready.

I get 60 out of 100 hundred right.  OH YEAH!!! That’s more than half right! Which means statistically it wasn’t just guessing!  I so rocked that test.

EPILOGUE – NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER

My professor calls me into his office later that day.  He invites me to sit. I’m so sure that he’s going to congratulate me on my score that I don’t understand what he says at first.

“I’m a little concerned about your grade.”

“….Oh. Well I got 60 right this time.” A huge smile spreads across my face. I can’t help it.

He purses his lips together and gives me a look full of pity. “That’s a D.”

My smile deflates.  “Oh. I guess it is.” Some people just don’t look at the positive in life.  I see it as more than half right, he sees it as almost half of them wrong….

“Look I know you’ve been studying hard.  I’ll take that into account for your final grade.  You can do some extra credit and your writing tests should help bump up your grade a little.”

My final grade that semester was a B-.  I’m crying because I’m more proud of that B- than I was of all the other A’s I had earned combined.  Next semester we studied 20th century music which was mostly glass and nails on piano strings and other disturbing things.  But I had my study methods down to an art.  I was getting 90 out of 100 right on my tests.  Remember those sleeping seniors? They had never heard any of this so-called music and wanted to learn our studying strategies.  So I got to be Hermione again by helping them study.  And that was a wonderful feeling.

Book Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Book Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria SempleWhere'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Published: August 14, 2012
330 pages
Genres: Adult Fiction
Source: Library

 
The Short, Sweet, and Spoiler-Free Blurb:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.
5 Stars

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a literary book that is full of witty, intelligent humor.  The voice of the teenage girl, Bee, who narrates this book is delightful and sarcastic especially about some of the crappy things that happen to her.  I love the humor of the unpopularity of Bee’s dad working at Microsoft where they are “acronym-happy (pg. 123).”  Bee has a sweet personality, too.  She is collecting letters, emails, transcripts, and blog posts in this journal that she is writing about where her mother went.  I ADORE the blog post that Bee puts in the book that is 500 words long and literally all the post says is that it’s going to rain.  Ah to love something that much that you could write 500 words about the smallest detail.

The writing is amazing in this book.  I don’t think there is a single cliche thing said in the entire book.  There’s a scene where people freeze as they stare at an argument.  But does she just say that they froze? No.  She describes them as this:

Nobody had moved.  Some hands were frozen in midair, in the middle of doing a fold.  It looked like a wax museum diorama of an origami presentation.

– Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette pg 275

I love it.  This was an example of the ultimate show not tell with everything from the unique structure of emails, faxes, and letters, to the writing itself.  Where’d You Go, Bernadette was very entertaining and full of personality.

The crazy small community that this story is set in was hilarious and it kind of reminded me of the small town charm and quirkiness of Gilmore Girls.  This book was full of interesting characters.  Literally all of them exaggerate.  We get to see different perspectives and how each character tends to bend the story a little in their favor to make themselves the victim.

I learned so much from the character of Bernadette.  She showed me that creativity is sometimes found within extreme limits.  I admired her ability to use her interpersonal skills to help her thrive in the male dominated professions of architecture.  Remember to embrace your talents – even the weird ones – and use them to do something you love that no one else can do.  I also loved the theme of Bernadette getting lost literally and figuratively in motherhood which I found very relatable.  Even though Bernadette doesn’t say this particular quote, I think it describes motherhood perfectly.

I felt so alone in this world, and so loved at the same time.

– Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette pg. 199

Overall, it was a impeccably written and hilarious story full of fascinating characters that taught me a lot about embracing your talents – even the weird ones.

Content Rating: High, for some strong language – about a dozen or more f-words.

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links. 

About Maria Semple

Maria Semple

Maria Semple's first novel, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, where she also wrote for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She escaped from Los Angeles and lives with her family in Seattle, where her second novel takes place.

Book Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Book Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara RaaschSnow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Published: October 14, 2014
432 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: For Review

 
The Short, Sweet, and Spoiler-Free Blurb:

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.
3 Stars

The fantasy world that Snow Like Ashes is set in is the best and worst thing about this book.  The idea of seasons being a kingdom is pretty cool.  Some kingdoms have one season all the time and some kingdoms have all four seasons every year.  The Season Kingdoms and the “Rhythm” Kingdoms don’t like each other.  That’s a lot of kingdoms and weather to keep track of, which is where the love/hate relationship comes in.  The world is interesting and complex but difficult to figure out which made the narrative prone to info dumping at times.  Thankfully, the kingdoms and their cities had obvious names to help me out.  I liked the play on the names of calendar months for the capital cities – Jannuari, Abril, Oktuber, and Juli.  But going for the obvious made it feel a little cliche.  The people in the Autumn Kingdom had a Native American ethnicity.  The people of the Winter Kingdom had all white hair and blue eyes.  It’s fun and cheesy at the same time and I still can not figure out how I feel about it.

The magic system grew on me.  I did not like it at first.  From a logical standpoint, it seemed completely stupid to have magic reside in an object that can easily be stolen (see also: the entire conflict of this novel).  I wanted to tell the whole Winter Kingdom, “Duh.  That’s obviously a stupid idea.”  Many, many chapters later it’s explained why magic only resides in objects and I changed my mind about not liking it.  The nature of evil is portrayed through magic as feeding on itself and being about a choice between good and evil.  It was actually pretty interesting.  Although, there was one scene at the beginning that seemed like it was supposed to have a lot of shock value but since the rules of magic hadn’t been explained yet, I was not impressed.

The writing wasn’t the best I’ve read.  It had a few cliche sayings that pulled me out of the story and would sometimes tell me things I had already figured out.  Villain motivation is very important to me.  This villain fell into the category of wanting more power for no particular reason.  That is probably the least interesting motivation that a villain can have.  I mean, at least have a reason for all this power.  Maybe he’s always wanted all the things because he never had the things.  Please.  Something.  I kept wondering through the whole book what it was that he wanted.  They just called him “evil” the whole time.

Meira is a strong, spunky female lead.  I liked her character and reading about her.  She wants to be a soldier, not a princess.   As much as I liked Meira though, I loved Theron.  I thought he was the best character in the book.  He was so far from cliche that I don’t think Theron and cliche have ever met.  Theron says my favorite quote from the entire book:

“There will always be a THEY in your new life, Meira. THEY make decisions; THEY mold your future.  The trick is to find a way to still be YOU through it all.”

-Sara Raasch, Snow Like Ashes (Chapter 14)

Overall, this was a good epic fantasy with an interesting world (once I figured it out) full of fun characters but had a few too many cliche moments for me to completely love it.

Content Rating: Medium, for some violence that is mildly graphic.

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links.  I received this book for review from the publisher, Harper Collins, in exchange for an honest review. I was not told what to say, I was not paid to write this review and all the opinions expressed are my own.  I read an Advanced Reading Copy for this review. 

About Sara Raasch

Sara Raasch

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then -- her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, is coming out Fall 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures. She is represented by Charlotte Sheedy Literary.