Let Down in the “Forest of Ruin”

25174874Forest of Ruin by Kelley Armstrong
HarperCollin: April 5, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Free From Library

The view was nice, but the food was bad

Forest of Ruin picks up where Empire of Night left off: the empire is on the verge of war, Moria and Ashyn are separated and those that they care about are in imminent danger. Having LOVED Empire of Night, I anxiously awaited getting my hands on the final book of the Age of Legends trilogy. Did Forest of Ruin live up to my expectations? Well…no, no, it did not.

As soon as I cracked open Forest of Ruin it seemed that something was different. The tone seemed off and everything I liked about the second book seemed to not work for this time around. What I loved about Empire of Night was the author’s use of multiple perspectives. Both Ashyn and Moira get equal page time and readers are immersed into the twin’s perspectives and their very different personalities. I really appreciated this narrative style in the first two books, but I didn’t find either sister that interesting this time around. For me, the problem lays in the fact that Ashyn and Moira didn’t really seem to change that much in the final book. Ashyn continued to be reserved yet quietly strong, and Moira continues to be brash and impulsive. There was very little progression in either girl’s character development that reading their separate narrative felt like a re-hashing of Empire of Night. (more…)


Ruin and Rising – It all comes to an end

14061957Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha #3)
Henry Holt & Co., June 17, 2014 (Young Adult; Fantasy)

My rating: Outstanding Adventure (5/5)

Ruin and Rising was one of my most anticipated reads this summer. The more reviews I read about it, the more eager I was to get my hands on a copy. There was no question of waiting for my library to order a copy – I was getting myself to the bookstore on release day. And folks, the hype lived up to the book. This was a fantastic and satisfying conclusion to a trilogy. The main character did not die (Allegiant, you know I’m looking at you) and all of the complications that were thrown Alina’s way were resolved. If you know nothing about the first two books in the series, I also reviewed them on Monday and Wednesday as I re-read them.

The final book of The Grisha picks up soon after Siege and Storm. Alina has not succeeded in defeating the Darkling and she has barely escaped with her life. And now that she is essentially held prisoner underground, she has no hope of getting stronger, her link to her power all but gone. Getting back to the surface and it’s sunshine is the only way that Alina can get strong, so her cohorts stage an escape from the priestly order “protecting” the Sun Summoner. (more…)

Siege and Storm Re-Read

14061955Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha #2)
Henry Holt & Co., June 4, 2013 (Young Adult; Fantasy)

My Rating: Outstanding Adventure (5/5)

Siege and Storm was a complete blank in my memory, which is why I decided a re-read was in order before I started Bardugo’s final installment in The Grisha. I had a vague recollection of Shadow of Bone, but with the second book, I couldn’t remember the introduction of some very important characters. The awesomeness of Ruin and Rising would had suffered greatly had I not gone back to this one.

Siege and Storm picks up soon after the events of Shadow and Bone. Alina has escaped the clutches of the Darkling (now that she knows what he’s really up to), and she is now a fugitive with her childhood friend, Mal. Navigating a new relationship is tough at the best of times, and the odds are against these two from the start considering the Darkling’s power. Unfortunately, Alina and Mal’s freedom doesn’t last long. The Darkling catches up with them and wants to convince Alina of his idea of freedom for Ravka, and he’s willing to sacrifice a lot of people to achieve his goals. (more…)

Shadow and Bone Re-Read

10194157Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha #1)
Henry Holt & Co., June 5, 2012 (Young Adult; Fantasy)

My Rating: Outstanding Adventure (5/5)

When the last installment to Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy came out, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. When I stopped to think about it, I realized I had almost no memory of what happened in the previous two books. A trip to the books store later, my problem was solved, hence my re-reading of Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm. I’ll be posting my review of Siege and Storm on Wednesday, and my review of the conclusion to the trilogy on Friday.

I had originally read an advance copy of Shadow and Bone back in 2012. I had liked the book and was invested in the series. Reading the book a second time round, there’s so much more to appreciate. I don’t know why I didn’t fall in love with the wonderful setting and lush writing style right off the bat (perhaps because I knew there was a long wait ahead until the final book in the trilogy). There is something so beautiful about the writing in Shadow and Bone, something that harkens back to old folk tales that made this a pleasure to read.

Shadow and Bone is about a young woman, Alina Starkvov, she’s not stunningly pretty, nor enormously talented, and she’s in love with her best friend, Mal – who has no idea. Ah, unrequited love. It sucks to be young. During her required enlistment in the military service, Alina’s regiment is order to cross the Fold, a shadowy barrier filled with strange creatures, in order to gather supplies on the other side. When her skiff is attacked and Mal’s life is in danger, Alina’s latent powers come into existence. Alina is now able, and has no other choice, to join the Grisha, leaving Mal behind. (more…)

Irenicon: Part Renaissance Fantasy, Part Allegorical Fantasy, All Interesting

46031_Irenicon_MMP.inddIrenicon by Aidan Harte
(The Wave Trilogy #1)
Published by Jo Fletcher Books, March 29, 2014 (Historical Fantasy)*

My rating: Beach vacation

Irenicon has so many different elements. Alternate history of the European Renaissance variety, steampunk fantasy, understated romance, superhero battles, magical water creatures. It also has elements of religious allegory.

This book tells the story of Captain Giovanni, architect to the Concordian empire, and Sofia, heir to the city of Rasenna. Their lives intertwine when Giovanni is sent to build a bridge over the wily Irenicon river in Rasenna, a city dominated by two gangs. Decades ago, the Irenicon was flooded by a mechanical device built by Concord, to depress the wealth and power of its rival. Lives, homes, and people were destroyed, and since then, two groups of tower-jumping gangs have ruled the north and south sides of the city. Sofia is approaching her 17th birthday, and the day she officially becomes Countess of Rasenna. Her position and birth  make her a powerful pawn in the struggle between the gangs, but she has plans of her own. Giovanni, disgraced architect of Concord, meets her when he arrives to build the bridge over the Irenicon. Though it is a symbol and tool of Concord’s dominion over Rasenna, and will be used by an invading army to pass through the city, Giovanni gives it a different significance – one of unity. As the bridge is built, politics in the city shift, power moving swiftly between the north and south sides. Outside Rasenna, Concord makes plans of its own, which are revealed as the plot advances. (more…)

Happily Ever After? Article 5 Trilogy Ends with ‘Three’

17559899Three by Kristen Simmons
Tor Teen, February 11, 2014 (Young Adult, Science Fiction)*

My rating: I’d go there again! (4/5)

Three is the conclusion to Simmons’ Article 5 trilogy. If you’ve read the first two books, you can immediately understand the comparison to The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies. But what I think will appeal to fans of dystopias is the emphasis on the blurred lines between right and wrong that continually arises for the characters in Three.

Three picks up where book two left off. Ember and Chase are on the hunt for the survivors of a destroyed safe house and they find themselves embroiled in the rebellion. Ember is quick to give her support to the rebellion named Three, and Chase, dutiful and devoted as he is, supports Ember, although I think it’s clear that he has some reservations. However, like most conflicts the difference between right and wrong is not so simple. While Three is fighting to overthrow the overbearing and dictating FBR, it’s unclear whether their methods are all that different from their oppressors. This exploration of right and wrong is exactly what I liked about Three. In so many teen novels things are black and white, the characters always pick the “right” side and there’s no questioning of that choice. But in Three our heroes do question what they are fighting against and who they are joining forces with, and what their eventual decision means. I find this far more realistic and it does get you thinking of conflict and war in a larger sense.

Things weren’t black and white, but that didn’t mean you couldn’t pick a side. (p. 170)

I also liked how Simmons discussed the general population’s apathy and how that contributed to the FBR’s control. The American population wanted to be safe rather than question the dictates handed down and potentially put themselves and their families in danger. In that sense, the Article 5 trilogy was very much a cautionary tale about the extreme consequences from not questioning your government, and of not being informed. This is something that I thing is very topical and a lot of the Statues of this government will resonate with readers who are aware of current events.

This was not a happy story. Three presented a realistic picture of the consequences of a civil war and it was heartbreaking. No one was left untouched and even the “bad guys” like Tucker Morris were reevaluated. I liked it for the fact that it got me thinking.

While Three dealt with a lot of serious issues, it was not without it’s lighter moments. We had some lovely and girlish moments between Ember and Rebecca, where they could just talk and gossip like the teenagers they were. We had some humour with Sean’s fear of bugs. And we had the continuation of Ember’s relationship with Chase. None of this over powered the main political story arc, but necessarily balanced out what could have been a very bleak novel. Instead, these relationships that Ember had with her friends allowed for the novel to end with a point of hope for the future.

Three is an excellent addition to the teen dystopia genre and I will be recommending it to teen readers. There’s a lot in Three that will appeal to a wide audience, and I think it will be a handy trilogy to recommend when Divergent hits theatres.

*Review copy provided by the publisher.

Similar Reads

For another look at the break down of society, try Megan Crewe’s The Way We Fall. This one shows how a break down of society can occur, leading to something like the new America of Three. Added bonus, The Way We Fall is all Canadian!

The Way We Fall (Fallen World, #1)

Tomorrow When the War Began is a fairly lengthy series that takes place in Australia during a modern day invasion. Ellie and her group of friends decide to fight back. The group dynamic here brings to mind Three.

Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow, #1)

Lastly, I’m going to recommend The Age of Miracles. There’s something about the writing style that I find very similar, something in the sad tone. While, Age of Miracles isn’t YA, I think it completely suitable for teens since it’s a coming of age story in a time when the earth slowly stops rotating, causing all sorts of damage. It doesn’t exactly have a hopeful ending, but I found it very readable.

The Age of Miracles

Concluding a trilogy: ‘Taste of Darkness’

13617556Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder (Healer #3)
Mira, December 31, 2013 (Fantasy Romance)*

My Rating: Beach vacation.

Taste of Darkness is the final book in Snyder’s Healer series. It picks up promptly from where book two left off. This rapid continuation is something that I really enjoy about Snyder’s trilogies; they are like reading one big book. I also like the fact that Snyder’s fantasy books are lighthearted, and Taste of Darkness is no different. I do enjoy darker fantasy books, but at the same time it’s nice to have a book that’s on the lighter side of things. That’s not to say that Taste of Darkness did not have its moments where it’s characters were put through hell, but rather the levity in Taste of Darkness comes from the undeniable happily ever after. At no time did it ever occur to me that Avry, Kerrick and co. would ever not triumph. This may be predictable, but it’s nice to know that you’re going to be happy with the ending – at least from my perspective.

In the previous two books, Avry’s been put through a lot. She’s been kidnapped, accosted, manipulated, and see the death of a close friend. Through it all she’s kept her poise and followed her calling as a healer. In Taste of Darkness all of those thread come to a head. Avry’s resolve to her profession is tested, she has to deal with more manipulations, and her relationship with Kerrick is strained. There were many challenges put in front of this heroine, but she always managed to overcome them, sometimes at personal cost to herself.

While I did enjoy this conclusion to the trilogy, I didn’t feel completely satisfied. Having read (and loved) Posion Study, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the author’s previous work. And I have to say that I thought Poison Study was much more powerful, and I didn’t find the Healer series to be as original as it could have been having read other books by the author. Taste of Darkness was good, don’t get me wrong, but was not as invested in the characters as I was in Poison Study. In fact, what I really found engaging in Taste of Darkness was the wonderful secondary characters that filled the book. There’s so many of them, and I really felt they all had a life of their own and really added depth and levity to the book. Without these wonderful characters, Belen, Loren, Quain and so on, I fear that this book would have been very one-dimensional.

As for my last comment about Taste of Darkness, I should also mention the categorization of this trilogy as “adult.” The previous books in the trilogy are shelved in the adult area of my library, but  I would suggest that these would make excellent addition to the teen area. The age and the actions of the characters make me think that this would be a great teen book. It has the right combination of action, adventure and romance that would appeal to a wide audience.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I’m ready for something a little different from the author – or a return to the Poison Study world, which seems to be in the works!

*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.


Crown Duel (Crown & Court #1-2)First Test (Protector of the Small, #1)Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)


A Study in Ashes Concludes the Baskerville Affair Trilogy

A Study in Ashes by Emma Jane Holloway
Del Rey – December 31st, 2013 (Steampunk)*

My rating: A vacation by a beach I’d go to again (star equivalent: 3.5)

A Study in Ashes brings the events in The Baskerville Affair series to a strong finish. I reviewed the first in the series, and Jaclyn and I dueled over the second, and I’m back again to tell you that A Study in Ashes does not disappoint. WARNING: If you have not read the first two books, the next two paragraphs will SPOIL things for you!  Read on after the cover image if you’ve already read them.

a study in ashes (more…)

Your Ghostly Reading List


In honour of Halloween, I’m creating a ghostly reading list. All of the following feature ghosts in some way (whether real or psychological). Since I’m me, I wouldn’t say that any of these books are terrifying, I am the romance reader after all. But, I love the concept of ghosts in books (especially within a historical context) and all of the following interest me in some way. Most of the books I’ve read, although I have included a couple I haven’t read, since I’ve heard some great buzz about them.

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

One of my all-time favourite books. It features a destructive ghost and has an awesome romance between ghost hunter, Matthew, and his newly appointed assistant, Sarah. This one’s not super scary, but those moments when the ghost arrives are spine tingling. All of St. James’ other works also feature ghost hauntings and she is a complete master at interweaving romance with freaky and inexplicable events.

Wide Open by Deborah Coates

Wide Open is the first in a trilogy featuring Sergeant Hallie Michaels, who has returned home for her sister’s funeral. However, Hallie has survived a terrible accident in Afghanistan and she’s now left with the ability to see ghosts. So, here we get a little bit of mystery, paranormal and a dash of romance. An added feature, the ghostliness is related to Native American traditions, which I found extremely interesting.

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

Book one in the Graveyard Queen series, this one takes us to the South, where Amelia Gray struggles with her ability to see the dead. I loved the Southern setting to this, and since I’ve been to Charleston I can completely understand how this city could be haunted. The ghostly encounters in The Restorer was also extremely well done; I was completely creeped out by what Amelia was seeing, but there was no way I was going to put the book down.

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Throwing a little teen ghostliness into the mix with this one. The dead are organized into a large library, but there are times when they leave their place. It’s up to Mac as a Keeper to track them down and return them to the archive. Not really scary, but points for being set in a refurbished hotel (The Shining, anyone?).

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

By this point, you can probably tell that I like historical fiction and ghosts in historical settings are even cooler and creepier. In The Uninvited Guests we have a whole host of ghosts that arrive during a young woman’s twentieth birthday, but why are they there and how do they get rid of them?

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I think this one’s more of a psychological haunting than anything else, but I absolutely love this Shirley Jackson novel. The house seems to come alive, but is it is all in Nell’s head or is there something more sinister at work?

The Shining by Stephen King

I could hardly write this list without the inclusion of this classic ghostly tale. We have a haunted hotel and a psychic kid who can see all the lost souls left behind. A great read for Halloween!

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

For the ambitious reader. This is an extremely bizarre ghost story and a bit of a challenge to read considering the words literally tangle on the page. But, it’s worth checking out because the haunted house is seriously freaky, even creepier than the Overlook hotel.

This House is Haunted by John Boyne

I haven’t read this one yet, but I hear good things, plus I am very intrigued by the Victorian setting. I love the idea of spiritualism during this period and can’t wait to check this one out.

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Another one that I haven’t read, but a co-worker compared this one to the movie, The Conjuring, which scared the pants off me, so I am intrigued. Sounds like a creepy coming-of-age story. Count me in!

And that’s all from me! Are there any other ghostly reads that you’d recommend?