Read this if you're in the mood for: epic fantasy YA, dual POV, romance, strong supporting characters, awesome world building, kickass heroine

Summary: Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Read this if you like:
LEGEND by Marie Lu
With a male/female dual POV living under a brutal dictatorship, in which one is a rebel and one is a soldier, fans of LEGEND are bound to find AN EMBER IN THE ASHES appealing!

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins
Sure, a lot of books get plugged as “The Next Hunger Games!” But Tahir does a masterful job at creating a high stakes, tension-filled, page-turnings story, just like Collins.

Gladiator (2000)
If you love the epic scale of this movie and Russell Crowe’s quest for justice for his family, you won’t be able to put down this book.

The Rec:
This one caught my eye on Edelweiss back in October because it had a ridiculously high first print number. What is this book, I wondered, that clearly everyone already knew about but me?

It turns out what everyone was excited for is one of the most tension-filled, high stakes books I’ve read in a long time. Tahir doesn’t give a chance to orient yourself or get comfortable in her world—just like the main characters, Laia and Elias, the reader is thrown in head first and has to hit the ground running. As I read, I kept thinking—how will the next part of the book top what’s already happened? How can she raise the stakes from here? Yet every time the story rose to the challenge and surpassed it.

One of my favorite parts of the book is what’s driving Laia to take so many risks and put her life in danger again and again. It’s for a boy, but it’s not about romance. Another standout aspect for me is the world building. Tahir does a masterful job of balancing character interaction and growth, pacing, plot, and plunging the reader into a fully realized, well-thought-out world. When you pick this one up, be prepared to read it all in one sitting!

The Caveat: Tahir doesn’t shy away from violence or disturbing consequences. It adds to the fantastic world building, but it may not be the right choice to read on your lunch break!

You should read this because: It's non-stop, page-turning awesome with skillful writing and a vivid world — the trifecta!

Read this book!
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir (Penguin, April 2015)
Indiebound / B&N

Recommendation by: Sara