Fantasy · series · YA

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

I came back to this YA series to see what was happening with Rhen and Harper only to have the focus shift to Grey. As a huge fan of the hot Captain of the Guard, Grey, I am thrilled to spend more time with him and I cannot wait for book three.

Warning: this is a review of the second book in a series. As such, there are spoilers from the first book in the following synopsis and review. If you want to avoid them just know that I loved the first book (full review here) and I could not put the second book down!


In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.

Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Grey may be the heir, but he doesn’t want anyone to know his secret. On the run since he destroyed Lilith, he has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war. from Amazon.


“A Heart so Fierce and Broken” words are woven with vines on a green background.


One of the darker troubles in this book that Rhen is facing is himself. I wasn’t sure what to make of him at the conclusion of A Curse So Dark and Lonely and now I am completely confused. I also have a lot of questions about Rhen and Harper which were left unanswered because this book shifts its focus to Grey and a new character, Lia Mara.

Still, while Grey is certainly center stage, Rhen and Harper don’t completely disappear. Admittedly, Harper takes an extremely minor role in this story but I would have liked to see their romance or relationship grow a bit. Also, perhaps it is just me but Harper was a force to be reckoned with in Curse and the small snippets  we see of her here are fairly weak. Rhen remains a major player in the story but his actions and decision certain made me question what I knew about the Prince of Emberfall.

All of this didn’t matter one whit to me because I came back for Grey.

Admittedly, I was hoping that Grey would be vying for Harper’s attention and I wasn’t completely thrilled with Lia Mara being added to the mix. I’m a big fan of love triangles. Well, most of the time. I have to say that the author’s ability to make me care about this new character is impressive. She took Lia Mara from a character I didn’t know existed (and was annoyed with) to one I deeply rooted for by the end of the book.

This book also expanded the world of Emberfall by adding a whole new cast of characters. True, occasionally the rising action had to give way to make room for this character development and there were times it felt that the story wasn’t progressing. But as a reader who loves characters, I enjoyed each new addition to this rag-tag team. Tycho, Grey’s brave protege tugged at my heartstrings. Lia Mara’s sister and mother had me eternally grateful for my own family. And I loved the odd magical Iisak who I can just sense is going to play a major role in the third book. I was equally happy to see Noah and Jacob having a more major role in this story. All of these characters made the world real for me in a way that the romance and intrigue had to do alone in the first book.

loved this second book in the Cursebreakers Trilogy and I am very excited for the third book to land in my hands. I have complete faith that the author will bring all of the characters together in the culmination of this series and I cannot wait to see how she does it.

Tell me, please!

How do you feel when a series changes character focus?


Fantasy · series · YA

The Wicked King by Holly Black

wicked kingThe Wicked King, the sequel to Holly Black’s fascinating dark faerie tale, debuted just after the New Year but because of my self-imposed book buying restrictions I had to wait until the library saved me a copy. Thankfully, my library is the best so I didn’t have to wait too long for the second in The Folk of the Air series.

I had a few complaints about The Cruel Prince, mostly in regards to the occasionally slow pacing. Like so many first in a series books, The Cruel Prince had to lay an extensive foundation for the entire series in book one and the action suffered as a consequence. However, as Holly Black had given me some truly remarkable and unusual characters all was forgiven. Not to worry, there were no such problems with pacing in the second book!

If you have not read the first book and you are interested in the series you can check my review here. It is nearly impossible to review a series book without spoiling the prior publications and so I must warn you: there are spoilers for The Cruel Prince below!

The Wicked King begins a few months after the Cruel Prince dramatic ending. Jude Duarte’s brother Oak may be the heir of the Faerie but Cardan has been crowed King. In return Cardan has sworn to follow all of Jude’s directions for a year and a day. That gives Jude a limited amount of time to ensure her brother’s safety and manipulate herself into a position of greater power. While she finds her human ability to lie invaluable, she can never forget that truth and lies often come in subtle shades of grey and the Fey live in a world of secrets. Between her attempts to control Cardan, her investigation into Maddox’s plots, and a threat that comes from the surrounding Oceans, is it any wonder that a traitor could tip the balance of power so completely? But who is plotting against Jude?

This second book was action packed! I consumed the book and, unlike the first one, I could hardly wait to see what would unfold. I also enjoyed that Jude was more confident which I enjoyed tremendously. Holly Black paints a perfect picture of having a crush on someone you despise as Jude attempts to ignore her feelings for Cardon.

If I had one (very minor) complaint it would be that all of this action and focus on Jude meant that nearly everyone else was a static background character until the last few pages. Still, I cannot imagine how the author could have given me such an explosive and surprising ending as she did without leaving me in the dark as to the other character’s movements and secret desires.

All of my childhood I wished that Fairies were real. Holly Black has convinced me of two things: I would hate these Fairies and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Tell me, please!

If you could only pick one is the pace or the characters more important?

Audio Book · series

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

oddthomasIn 2013 Anton Yelchin stared as Odd Thomas in the film of the same name. I really enjoyed the movie and, like most great movies, I was unsurprised to find out that it was based on a book. I quickly added it to my Goodreads TBR shelf and forgot about it. But, since I am making a concerted effort to systematically work through my physical and electronic TBR, I borrowed the audiobook from my local library. Truthfully, I had forgotten what a wonderful writer Dean Koontz is and I quickly lost myself in Pico Mundo with Odd Thomas and all his ghosts.

Odd can see dead people. He can also see beings he calls bodachs. Bodachs surround themselves with evil and are present before and during moments of violence while they feed on pain of the victims. With the Chief of Police, his boss Teri, his best friend Little Ozzie and his soulmate Stormy Llewellyn as his psychic secret keepers Odd uses his sixth sense to intercede on behalf of the innocent people of his hometown. “I see dead people. But then, by God, I do something about it.” Odd says.

In this first book a new man in town dubbed “Fungus Man,” gains Odd’s attention when he appears surrounded by bodachs. Odd has never seen such a collection of these evil entities and, as such, knows that this stranger is planning to bring massive suffering to his town. As he investigates we learn more and more about Odd Thomas, his strange upbringing, and his social circle while we search along with Odd for clues as to what Fungus man is doing.

At times this book was so suspenseful that I found myself standing completely still while listening to it. The whole last two hours I dubbed “not safe for driving” because I kept startling. I was well and truly impressed by the sheer storytelling and character development of the book and, while I knew the basic ending because I had seen the film, I still found myself thrilled by the action sequences right to the very end.

As with most series books the first one includes tremendous set up. There were times when this book felt too long and too full of characters. But, for a series and for a storyteller like Dean Koontz this is all intended for future books. There are six Odd Thomas books and three graphic novels. If the subsequent stories are anything like this one I cannot wait to read more. However, I think I will read them myself, the audiobook proved to be excellent but too intense for me.

Tell me, please!

Have you ever found a new friend in an old series?

FrighteninglyGoodRead · series · Sunday Morning Comics

Sunday Morning Comics – FGR#7

I remember watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Friday night television as a kid. Sabrina was a delightful teenager, her cat Salem was scheming and snarky and her Aunts were wacky but well intended. In The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Sabrina is still a teenager but the rest of the story is as dark and different as Riverdale is to the Archie Comics of my childhood. I mean, helllloooo Betty!

This series, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack with artwork by Robert Hack is dark, scary and thematically grown up. Currently there are 8 issues of this horror sub-print. The 9th issue set to debut sometime this year.

Volume 1 (Issues 1-5), The Crucible, is the factual basis for all Sabrina-related stories. It introduces Sabrina’s parents, her childhood in the 1950’s and 1960’s and brings us up to Sabrina’s 16th birthday where she must choose between becoming a full witch or a mortal.

Volume 1 had me riveted. Everything in this volume is, as promised, chilling. Even though I was mildly shocked by the material (I really had the wholesome Sabrina deep in my psyche) I could not stop my speedy consumption of the storyline. As I am featuring Frighteningly Good Reads this month, this version of Sabrina was an ideal comic book series. But I was not mentally prepared for how dark this series was going to go!  I have so many story line questions but I would never spoil it for future readers. But, I am dying to know if anyone else see Zac Efron as the basis for Harvey Kinkle. Below is not the best example but it is the only one that doesn’t disclose plot points.

Volume II (Issues 6-10), Witch War, only has two issues out right now. Issue 7 and 8 focus on Sabrina’s witch father, Edward Spellman and his banishment and mysterious return to the land of the living. I was happily tearing through Issue 8 and I cannot even form the words to describe my disappointment when I realized I was going to have to wait for the next issues!

If you are looking for a dark and horror-filled version of the (formerly sweet) Sabrina look no further than The Chilling Tales of Sabrina. Just be warned, this is absolutely not TGIF Sabrina!

Tell me, please!

Are you into the whole Riverdale / dark turn on this old comics?

Fantasy · series · YA

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

thepiratekingEveryone knows that women aboard pirate ships are unlucky. When I first saw Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller I assumed, erroneously, that the daughter from the title would be another left-behind maiden yearning to travel the sea with her father. I could not have been more wrong.

Seventeen year old Alosa has been raised by her father aboard his ship. She is deadly, demanding, strong, and smart. She has her own ship, a crew of mostly women to which she is deeply dedicated. But, when ordered by the Pirate King to locate a piece of a legendary map she doesn’t balk in getting herself captured aboard a rival’s ship. The only thing between Alosa and successfully completing her mission is Riden, the clever and attractive first mate aboard the infiltrated vessel.

It took me a few chapters to be truly drawn into this story. The capture is exhilarating but then there is a fairly boring cycle of being fake captured, escaping, and being re-captured that quickly grew stale. Still, like most series books, the action increased dramatically in the second half of the story and the culminating chapters left me excited for the next book.

Most of all, Alosa is a wonderful character. Strong, both physically and mentally, she has been raised by her father to be a weapon. As a Princess and a Pirate she must follow his command but she longs for equal independence. Further complicating her life is the legacy gifted to her by her mother. The real question is whether Riden will be her equal in this journey or just another complication? My hopes are pinned on him letting her continue to kick ass. All I know is that I cannot wait to see more of Alosa’s story.

Tell me, please!

What makes a strong female character real to you?

Science Fiction · series

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

When there is a new book in a long adored series there is a unique sense of anticipation. On one hand you know the world. The characters are your friends and sometimes your favorite people. And it is so very thrilling to be back again. On the other hand, the author can make choices in this place you love that give you pause. They can kill off characters you have long treasured or simply change them in a way that negatively alters your connection. Plus, anytime there is anticipation and hype the pressure can kill the enjoyment. I felt all of this and more when I finally received my pre-ordered copy of Iron Gold by Pierce Brown.

irongoldThis book was one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2018. I feel I must make two things clear. First, I do not like dystopian science-fiction. Second, the Red Rising Trilogy is  dystopian science fiction and I am still a gigantic fan. I love the characters; Darrow, Mustang, all the Howlers (especially Sevro!) and Ragnar. I am fascinating by the different planets and caste systems. The pace and action are thrilling to the point of near exhaustion. If you enjoy science fiction I feel confident in recommending the Red Rising Trilogy.

When I first heard that there was a new book by Pierce Brown I had assumed that it would be a new series. Instead it is a new trilogy that begins ten years after Morning Star concludes. Darrow, Sevro and the Howlers are still fighting to take control of the inner ring planets. And, while Darrow and Mustang have married and have a son, Pax, the three are rarely together.

I will freely admit that I found the idea that these characters were not at peace after all of their trials and tribulations to be a bit exhausting. Furthermore, I had difficulty remembering who everyone was, especially since some of the main characters in Iron Gold were children or minor players in the prior trilogy. The shifting narratives created delayed comprehension of the story as a whole but eventually gave a much better understanding of the new story Brown was putting together.

By the middle of the book, I was quite torn. Then, slowly, Brown began to rebuild a new generation for the next wave of the revolution. All of the old guard still maintain a presence in the storyline but now the light is shone on a new cast of characters that I found obsessively interesting.

I closed the book thrilled and wanting more. At more than 500 pages it is an epic story. Visiting with some of my favorite characters from the original trilogy was enjoyable but eventually I found that I was more than happy that Brown is re-focusing on other characters for the subsequent books. Not unlike the Star Wars universe, I got to go back and see Luke, Han and Leia but I didn’t expect that they would be the only stars of the show.

Tell me, please!

Have you read the Red Rising Series? Are you interested in Iron Gold?

Fantasy · FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017 · series · YA

Frighteningly Good Reads #15

I know, I know. I’m falling further and further behind! But, you know whose fault it is? (Mine, really, because I apparently lack literary self control.) But some blame needs to be laid at Maggie Stiefvater’s door for writing an engaging and epic series.

ravenboysIt all started on October 15th when I started reading The Raven Boys. I was completely engaged from the tag line onward.


“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve. Either you’re his true love…or you killed him.”



Hello. More please.

The Raven Boys features a female lead, Blue Sargent, whose mother is clairvoyant and their home is filled with women who trade in predictions. Blue does not have the sight but she has the ability to intensify the gift in others. On St. Mark’s Eve she accompanies her mother every year as the soon-to-be-dead walk past. She has never seen them until this year, when a boy emerges and speaks to her. The boy wearing the uniform of the prestigious and affluent Aglionby school known to many as The Raven Boys. This experience is further complicated by Blue’s life-long knowledge that she will cause her true love to die.

Now, all of this seems like a lot to cover in one book which is why I should have suspected that this was actually a series. Also, a careful look at the cover would have tipped me off since it says, “Book 1 of the Raven Cycle.” I’m sorry! I was excited.

Occasionally, when this happens I am livid. Picture me tearing through the last 20 pages of the book muttering, “How on Earth are they going to wrap this up?!?” only to find a cliffhanger ending and the need to buy the next book. I am not even a little miffed that this is a series. I needed to spend more time with these characters on their creepy adventures.

So, for FGR #15 I give you The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. This creepy story presents the reader with multiple points of view as Blue and the Raven Boys try to solve one piece of an enormous mystery while avoiding becoming romantically entangled. The fourth and final book Now, please excuse me, the next two books in the series have arrived and I have hot cider to drink.

Tell me, please!

When you find out a book is actually a series are you thrilled or annoyed?


Fantasy · series

The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen

I read The False Prince when it first came out in 2012. Then, I somehow missed The Runaway King when it was published. Every since then, I keep seeing the trilogy and feeling badly that I didn’t finish it. Just the other day I was wandering through my local book store and saw the trilogy and I decided I had to finish it.

Sometimes, reading a series back-to-back is a bit painful isn’t it? You get to the end of the adventure in one book and when you start the next book it feels… slow. This is probably due to the five minute break between story culmination and starting again when, really, you were supposed to wait a year or more deep in anticipation for that next adventure. I did have a bit of series fatigue at the beginning of the second and third book (I had to re-read the first one!) but that is my fault not the authors.

And the fatigue wasn’t due to the the author packing the first three chapters with backstory. She did an excellent job of weaving that information into the continuing story. Rather, it is that the end of each book was so fast and filled with action that it was like driving on the highway for three hours and then trying to go 35 mph again. It’s not slow it’s regular speed.

The Ascendance Trilogy is also difficult to review as a three-book package without spoilers. Spoilers are the devils work. I will say that this trilogy must be read in order and I don’t recommend reading the jacket description of the second and third book until you have finished The False Prince.

Why, you may ask? Well, Jennifer Nielsen puts a decent number of surprises and twists into each book. There were definitely times when I felt like I could guess what was going to happen next only to be genuinely surprised. Additionally, there were moments when I really didn’t like a character in each book only to have them do something unexpected and win me over again.

Here is a book commercial for The False Prince that says it all (which is, as you will note, not much). And, um, is this voice over done by Taylor Lautner or am I imagining things?

Check out the Video Here

Truthfully, I didn’t expect to like the second and third book very much. The False Prince was excellent but the other two received mixed reviews from other bloggers and on Goodreads. If I didn’t feel the guilt of a good Catholic with a job unfinished I might not have picked the series up again. I am so glad that I did!

The Ascendance Trilogy was thoroughly enjoyable. It was a fast paced read with great characters and lots of surprises. And, for myself, it means that every time I see The False Prince I don’t cringe internally because I didn’t finish the Trilogy!

Tell me, please!

Have you ever started a series, loved it, but just forgot / neglected to finish it?

Did you ever get back around to finishing it?

Fantasy · fiction · series

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

RedQueenVictoria Aveyard‘s Red Queen is the manifestation of my childhood query, “Why wouldn’t the X-Men rule the world?” In her terrific debut novel the premise is almost that simple – people with silver blood are born with inherent and supernatural gifts. Those born with red bl



ood have no gifts and as such are destined to a life serving the Silvers. The main character, Mare Barrows, is a Red who steals to support her family while she counts down the moments until her mandatory conscription into the army. A twist of fate exposes that she has supernatural abilities. But, she is a Red, how is this possible?!

Beyond the premise, the pace of the book is fast but not fervent and the characters are well formed and given good motivations for their actions. Still, I saw so many mixed or negative reviews on this book that it sat on my shelf for (embarrassingly) at least two years. I am so glad I cracked into it because I really enjoyed the story. There were one or two times that I wanted a wrinkle ironed out or a scene slowed down a bit but the book was fun a
nd interesting. I am already looking forward to see how the storyline progresses in subsequent books (my thanks to Ali at the terrific I Wuv Books for letting me know this is not a trilogy and a fourth book is set to come out in 2018).

Mare is a great character. I relished her dedication to her family and friends. However, she is also a seventeen-year old who does not always make the right choices and occasionally trusts the wrong person. I enjoyed that she was strong and spirited but, like so many of us in our teenage years, was not omnipotent or perfect. A naturally flawed heroine makes for a fantastic story – especially in the fantasy realm. Here is to hoping that she grows in wisdom in subsequent books without loosing that fierce spirit!

Fantasy · fiction · series

The Age of Legends Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong is a prolific writer and I was excited to experience her take on the young adult subgenera of the supernatural.  The Age of Legends trilogy tells the story of twin sisters Moria and Ashyn who are the Keeper and the Seeker of their village.  This trilogy was packed with an adventurous and constantly developing story and full of wonderful characters.  All three books are completely enjoyable!

In the first book, Sea of Shadows, we are introduced to Moria and Ashyn and their small village on the outskirts of their empire.  Ashyn the Seeker is tasked with quieting the lost and angered souls of the damned.  If peace cannot be found Moria, the Keeper, is ready to battle the souls into the second world. But the souls will not be quiet and tragedy ensues. At the opening of the story, Moria and Ashyn are entering their first year of performing their goddess-designated tasks without supervision.

The girls are great characters. While they are physically identical twins their personalities are as different as any sibling and their reactions to their changing world are unique. The story took me a little bit to become truly absorbed but it was worth the slow build when everything, as it seems to in books of this nature, came apart.

Furthermore, the supporting cast of characters are wonderful. Some make it through the book and some do not and since this is a never-ever-spoil website I will not name the characters I really enjoyed because some do not survive.  Suffice to say, these are well written characters who are enjoyable to follow through the story.

I did not think the second book, Empire of the Night, would be quite as fast paced or character driven as the first book. I was so wrong! The second book allows us to see the girls as they continue to thwart evil and we meet many new characters that help keep the second book interesting and engrossing.

I was so taken with the developing story in this series that I could not wait, nor could I figure out, how the series would end.  Book Three, Forest of Ruin, absolutely does not disappoint!  Right until the final page I was fully invested.

It is always difficult to review a whole trilogy without any spoilers. You want to really explain what made it a great story that needed three books to finish. But, unless I want to spoil it for you all (never!) I can’t really give details. All I can say is that this trilogy was engrossing and enjoyable through all three books. Check it out and enjoy The Age of Legends Trilogy!