Ah, back to what I love to do most after writing! Reading of course! And this month isn’t so thin on the ground with my reviews, as the last couple of months were. I’ve read some cracking stories and here’s my view of those reads.
The Art of Forgetting – Rider, by Joanne Hall
Genre: Fantasy, Epic
Plot: Gifted and cursed with a unique memory, the foundling son of a notorious traitor, Rhodri joins an elite cavalry unit. There, struggling with his own memories of his father, he begins to discover a sense of belonging. Until a face from the past reveals a secret that will change not only Rhodri’s life, but the fate of a nation.
Review: Occasionally you read a story and you become immersed within the tale before you realise it. That’s what happened when I read, The Art of Forgetting. There is a lot of depth and thought put into this story and the main character, Rhodri. Although not unique to many stories, this coming of age tale explores some of the nitty-gritty of adolescence, not only about trying to find acceptance and discovering oneself, but also exploring themes involving sexuality and gender roles. These themes I found reminiscent of Lynn Flewelling’s books and writing, which is a pretty darn good thing, because I love her books!
However, these are not the only topics this book revolves around. Joanne Hall has created a richly developed world, where she has taken careful consideration of not only the majestic a fantasy world can offer, but also its flaws and political instabilities. This runs parallel to the struggles Rhodri faces even before he joins the King’s Riders, and follows him as he grows into a young man. The characters each bring their own strengths and flaws, and at times the story weaves its way heartbreakingly towards the truth: not only for Rhodri, but for his friends. I admit, I was a little teary in one scene, but I’ll say no more as I don’t want to spoil things! But it’s the little intricacies of the characters – none are perfect – and the plot, that show the author to be a master of observation.
It had a conclusion which has left me wanting more and now I can’t wait to read the next instalment.
Rating: 5 out of 5 for an honest, thought-provoking book!
Child of the Ghosts by Jonathan Moeller
Genre: Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Mystery
Plot: For fans of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Sword & Sorceress”, Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, and Jennifer Roberson, here is a new story of a woman’s fight against an ancient evil. When her life is torn apart by sorcery and murder, young Caina Amalas joins the Ghosts, the legendary spies and assassins of the Emperor of Nighmar. She learns the secrets of disguise and stealth, of assassination and infiltration. But even that might not be enough to save her. For the evil that destroyed her family seeks to devour the entire world…
Review: To be honest, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic coming to read this book. I have no idea why really. It had been sitting a long time in my Kindle Library, but I decided it was unfair to leave it unread. At first I was thinking my first impressions were correct, but I was utterly wrong. The more I delved into Caina’s story, the more immersed I became in it. In many ways, it is like a cleverly laid out mystery. Threads, plots and subplots are entwined into a fantasy world and poor Caina’s horrific childhood experiences mark her for something different.
After a necromancer and her mother nearly kill her, she escapes and is taken in by the Ghosts, and taught to be a nightfighter – an assassin/spy. Caina is a strong and clever character with an uncanny gift for observation. She is taught and trained in every aspect of being a nightfighter, a lot of her skills use her wiles along with her fighting prowess. I have to admit, she’s a pretty awesome character.
The story builds momentum as Caina attempts to destroy the necromancer who destroyed her life and her family, but not everything is as straightforward as it seems. There are some great adventurous moments, but occasionally I felt the world created lacked some detail. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure and will definitely read the next in the series.
Rating: A slow smouldering 4 out of 5 stars
Awakening Foster Kelly, by Cara Rosalie Olsen
Genre: Fiction, YA
If only a pile of wayward curls and the inability to stay on her feet were seventeen year-old Foster Kelly’s most pressing concerns. Unfortunately, stubborn hair and clumsiness are just the tip of it.
At the age of five when Foster is told, “You don’t belong here,” it was only a mistake, but the result is one broken heart. These four carelessly spoken words have shaped and shadowed Foster, and now—a senior at Shorecliffs High-school—she seeks the wallflower’s existence, denying herself the most casual of friendships, much too afraid that someone will see what she believes is certain: she does not belong anywhere—or with anyone. This reality would continue to suit her just fine; however . . . Love has a long-standing history of undoing broken hearts.
Like a comet, an unexpected arrival knocks Foster out of the crowded, starry sky, sending her directly into the limelight. Exposed and afraid, she will attempt to regain anonymity; but it isn’t so easy now that someone is watching. He pursues this shy enigma, confronting Foster’s deepest fears head-on, and in the process falls wholly and completely in love with her. But there is something he is not saying . . . a secret capable of certain ruin.
Either he will break her heart once and for all, or he will heal it. In the end, though, it is Foster who must decide if she is worth mending.
Review: Awakening Foster Kelly is almost like reading a dream. In many ways it feels as though its floats upon one and you wonder where the tale will take you next.
The story is centred on Foster Kelly, a seventeen-year-old shy, young woman, who has brains to burn and musical talent to boot. It is written in the first person, so the reader has a keen sense of the character, who she is and where she needs to go. It is a beautiful thing to see her character develop as the story progresses.
Now, it is a long book and I think one that takes time to read. Some might find the prose flowery and tangential at times, but I have to say, I am a fan of the poetic and I thought a lot of this was beautifully written. Only occasionally did I feel that it interrupted some of the scene flow, but overall, I loved the style and the story.
Some of the characters left me smiling, especially Emily and her twin Jake. The banter between the two and their strong personalities are at times very comical, in light of the seriousness of Foster’s character. At first I wondered where Dominic (the love interest) would fit in, especially in light of his rather horrid behaviour to start, but he begins to redeem himself as the story goes on.
There are lovely little points of interest, which keep you reading on. You want to find out the little mystery behind Dominic and it was a really pleasant surprise when I reached the end and discovered the twist. I won’t give anything away – it has to be read to be discovered!
A beautiful book.
Rating: 4 sparkling sapphire gems out of 5
Kiss of Fire by Rebecca Ethington
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Plot: Joclyn Despain has been marred by a brand on her skin. She doesn’t know why the mark appeared on her neck, but she doesn’t want anyone to see it, including her best friend Ryland, who knows everything else about her. The scar is the reason she hides herself behind baggy clothes, and won’t let the idea of kissing Ryland enter her mind, no matter how much she wants to.
The scar is the reason she is being hunted. If only she knew that she was.
If only she had known that the cursed stone her estranged father sent for her 16th birthday would trigger a change in her. Now, she is being stalked by a tall blonde man, and is miraculously throwing her high school bully ten feet in the air. Joclyn attempts to find some answers and the courage to follow her heart. When Ryland finds her scar; only he knows what it means, and who will kill her because of it.
Review: Oh, I hate it when I write a load of good reviews and then I just have to write this. Ugh!
Good Points: The writer definitely has some talent and can write.
Bad Points: I just felt I was reading another twilight or something similar. Nothing about this felt original or different and there were times when I just had to sigh. And I hate that, because I want to love everything I read. I’m not even going to go on, I know some people will love it, but honestly, it was not for me.
Rating: Very sad 2 out of 5 (and I’m being generous, because I feel guilty)