Saturday, May 4, 2013

MINI REVIEWS: The Frost Chronicles by Kate Avery Ellison

As you probably know from some of my previous reviews here, I enjoy reading self-published books by indie authors, though they can be very hit-or-miss. A friend of mine recommended the Frost Chronicles to me, since we share similar tastes in books. Kate Avery Ellison, the author of the Frost Chronicles, lives in Atlanta, Georgia, so I thought I would take the opportunity to support a local author. Lucky for me, the Frost Chronicles has turned out to be one of the best indie series I have come across so far! Every book is a relatively quick read -- the first is right around 200 pages, and each book is a little longer than the last. (Side note: I’m reading the eBook versions.) I devoured these books in just a few days and thought that rather than post four consecutive reviews (one for each book), it might make more sense to share four mini reviews here in one post. Then, when the fifth book is published later this year, I will devote one review to it as a finale of sorts. :-)

NOTE: If you haven’t read this series, you might want to stop reading my reviews after Frost, because eventually it will get a bit spoiler-y, given that I’m reviewing four books…

MINI REVIEW #1: Frost 
SYNOPSIS: In the icy, monster-plagued world of the Frost, one wrong move and a person could end up dead—and Lia Weaver knows this better than anyone. After monsters kill her parents, she must keep the family farm running despite the freezing cold and threat of monster attacks or risk losing her siblings to reassignment by the village Elders. With dangers on all sides and failure just one wrong step away, she can’t afford to let her emotions lead her astray. So when her sister finds a fugitive bleeding to death in the forest—a young stranger named Gabe—Lia surprises herself and does the unthinkable.

She saves his life.

Giving shelter to the fugitive could get her in trouble. The Elders have always described the advanced society of people beyond the Frost, the “Farthers,” as ruthless and cruel. But Lia is startled to find that Gabe is empathetic and intelligent…and handsome. She might even be falling in love with him.

But time is running out. The monsters from the forest circle the farm at night. The village leader is starting to ask questions. Farther soldiers are searching for Gabe. Lia must locate a secret organization called the Thorns to help Gabe escape to safety, but every move she makes puts her in more danger.

Is compassion—and love—worth the risk?

Frost sucked me right in -- you might recall my Teaser Tuesday post earlier in the week… Those first few sentences had me hooked from the start! Ellison has managed to bring something fresh to the YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Dystopian genre with this series. Part of me was sorry that Frost wasn’t a little longer, but at the same time, Ellison’s ability to so thoroughly paint the picture and fully tell the story in less than 200 pages was impressive! Admittedly, some of the writing and phrasing (and eBook formatting) could have been tightened up with just a bit more editing, but honestly, I really enjoyed Ellison’s storytelling and writing style -- it is very descriptive with vivid imagery. The only part of the story I had a small issue with was Lia’s and Gabe’s (admittedly brief) relationship -- it was just a little hard to believe Lia could have developed such strong feelings so quickly, but I like a little romance in my stories, so I could overlook this, mostly… As it was, immediately upon finishing Frost, I purchased and downloaded the next three books in the series (the fifth is yet to come), so that should tell you something! This book was THAT good.

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Frost (The Frost Chronicles, #1)
MINI REVIEW #2: Thorns
SYNOPSIS: Lia Weaver went against everything she’d ever known when she risked her life to help a Farther fugitive named Gabe escape from the Aeralian soldiers, and her life changed forever. And the Frost changed, too—the Farthers have taken over her village, a new group of vigilantes calling themselves the Blackcoats are making plans to overthrow the Farther occupiers, and the Thorns are seeking for her to join them.

Lia seeks to fight back against the evil and injustice that has swallowed up her home, but danger lurks at every turn. The monsters that dwell in the deepest regions of the Frost are growing bolder and more dangerous every day, a Farther noble takes up residence in the village on a mysterious mission, and Lia discovers that her parents were harboring even more secrets.

As the frozen world of the Frost grows even more perilous, can Lia survive?

Perhaps the best part about having an eReader is being able to immediately download the next book in a series… (Well, assuming it’s been published, haha.) I loved that I didn’t have to wait after finishing Frost to begin Thorns. For me, Thorns and the third book, Weavers, are my favorites in the series so far. Thorns was fast-paced and I liked the direction Ellison decided to take Lia’s affections this time (despite the invetible love triangle). To me, this attraction was much more believable than Lia’s fast tumble for Gabe in the first book. I had actually wondered if this particular romance might develop when I was reading Frost, but that’s all I’m going to say on that subject. J Trying to keep things as spoiler-free as I can here… Ellison does much to advance the story in this book, developing the conflict caused by the Farther occupation of Iceliss, and still further building the world of the Frost (and beyond!) -- I could not put this book down. Once again, Ellison’s writing is beautifully descriptive and this time I really felt like it was spot on and very well-edited. With the way events were left in the Frost and the fact that Lia’s new romance was not quite fulfilled, needless to say, I had to jump right in to Weavers
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Thorns (The Frost Chronicles, #2)

MINI REVIEW #3: Weavers
SYNOPSIS: Every day, life in the Frost grows increasingly perilous for its inhabitants. The Farther occupation continues, and food is becoming scarce. And Lia Weaver’s family is facing increasing perils, too—Jonn pushes his health to the brink as he works to uncover the secrets of Echlos, and Ivy risks everything to get food for the family. And for the second time, the Weaver family is harboring a fugitive, but Lia doesn’t trust her.

Lia has personally braved many struggles—a Farther occupation, family secrets, a heart torn between two men, and Watcher attacks—as she struggles to keep her family safe. But now she will face her greatest challenge and uncover the Frost’s deepest secrets as she completes her most dangerous mission yet for the Thorns.

Wow, Weavers almost left me breathless by the end of the book, as once again Ellison packs quite a punch in her stories! As much as I enjoyed her writing in Frost (despite some minor flaws) and then again in Thorns, it just keeps getting better and better. As the conflict increases in the Frost, I really like that we are beginning to see the more vulnerable side of Lia, who has struggled for so long to provide for her siblings in the harsh climate (both weather-wise and politically-speaking) of the Frost, while trying to complete missions for the Thorns and subsequently doing what she can to help end the Farther occupation of the Frost and the village of Iceliss. Isn’t that enough to wear anyone down? And then there’s her whole struggle with her feelings for two boys, poor girl, though really, that frustrates me to no end because at this point I just don’t think Gabe should be a factor. Admittedly, I’ve pretty much been “Team Adam” from the start of this series, when he wasn’t even on the radar, yet! And oh, the end of this story and the cliffhanger! I was fortunate that Ellison just released Bluewing because I didn’t have to wait long to find out what happened next.
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Weavers (The Frost Chronicles, #3)

MINI REVIEW #4: Bluewing
SYNOPSIS: Lia Weaver is a fugitive. Her family's farm has been confiscated by Farther soldiers, her sister has been reassigned to a new family in the village, and her official status is "missing." Now, she and a band of fugitive followers must make their home in the harsh wilderness of the Frost. Food is scarce, and hope is scarcer still as Lia tries to find information about the whereabouts of her missing friends. She is determined to rescue them, but when a surprising ally steps forth with an offer that will both return her friends and expel the Farthers from the Frost in exchange for something very precious, Lia must make a choice.

While I enjoyed Bluewing, I thought it started off a little slower compared to the other books in the series and it took me longer to really immerse myself in the story. I can’t quite pinpoint what it was, because the writing continues to be outstanding and a lot does happen in this book to further the plot, but for some reason Bluewing just didn’t grab me early on the way the first three books did. Perhaps it's simply that most of the action was in the latter half of the book. Ivy, Lia’s younger sister, continues to play a larger role in this story, and we also see a lot more of Gabe’s brother, Korr, who first came into the picture in Weavers. The Blackcoats and Thorns join forces against the Farthers, and that alliance brings with it a few surprises. Interestingly, a rather significant portion of the storyline wraps up by the end of the book, though we are definitely left with several questions and a pretty big cliffhanger, so there is plenty of the story left for Ellison to tell in the final book. As for that cliffhanger, I have my suspicions, so I am anxious to see if they are confirmed in the final book. And this time, darn it, I have to wait, haha…
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Bluewing (The Frost Chronicles, #4)

If you stuck with me through all of that, suffice it to say that I LOVED these books and would recommend them to anyone who is a fan of YA Dystopians. And I'd also like to extend props to whoever designed the covers for this series -- I love them all!

Read this series…
  • If you like YA Fantasy/Dystopian/Sci-Fi (this story is a great blend of all of those genres)
  • If you enjoyed the Under The Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi
  • If you liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson


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