Review: Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong

21480854Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: April 7, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy

Extent: 432 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


Sisters Moria and Ashyn are the Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood.

Or at least, they were.

Their village is gone. Their friends have betrayed them. And now, they are all but prisoners in court, forced to watch and wait while the Emperor decides whether to help the children of Edgewood, who remain hostages of the treacherous Alvar Kitsune.

But when the emperor finally sends the girls on a mission to rescue the children – accompanied by Prince Tyrus and a small band of men – the journey proves more perilous than any of them could have imagined. With lies and unrest mounting in the empire, Moria and Ashyn will have to draw on every bit of influence and power they possess to unite their people and avert an all-out war.

In this second book in her epic and captivating Age of Legends trilogy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong blends romance, danger, and magic to send readers on a heart-racing journey through an unforgettable world.


Empire of Night is what I’ve been waiting for out of this series! It bursts with honour, duty, filial piety, betrayals, and political trickery and plays. It certainly doesn’t suffer from second book syndrome. It is, by far, my favourite out of the series. Kelley’s plot twists are action packed and fast paced.

Once Moria and Ashyn, the Keeper and Seeker, find refuge at the Empire, Emperor Jiro Tatsu tasks them with the duty to find the missing Edgewood children, along with Ronan, an exiled convict who escapes the Forest of the Dead with Ashyn, and the Emperor’s bastard son Tyrus. But this journey proves more dangerous than anyone expects.

In this instalment, you get more multi-layered characters. Tyrus is a worthy companion for Moria, and while he doesn’t push Moria like Gavril does, he has a sixth sense when it comes to her, as if he and she have bonded over years rather than weeks. They share an intense chemistry, but I wonder which relationship will prevail: Moria and Tyrus or Moria and Gavril.

And here is where I gush over Moria’s arc. What more can you throw at a character? Kelley pits her against ruthless guards, dangerous beasties that she’d never think she’d see, and the savage Alvar Kitsune. Moria is the star attraction. I love her growth. But I can’t forget Ashyn. She’s one character who exhibits a strong quietude that flourishes once she sees herself as something more than her sister’s shadow. Because of their Northern heritage, Ashyn and Moria are seen as fetishes, a part of a minority, and simpleminded creatures. Readers can argue that the main characters are still white, but Kelley plays these race scenes and division in ethnicities rather well, and they bring a unique twist to the series.

Japanese heritage and history take centre stage in this instalment. Kelley sticks to the honour and duty that many families revered in that society, especially filial piety. And these morals intertwine in each character and arc. You especially see them in Tyrus and Gavril. Although I enjoyed reading Sea of Shadows, I felt that is too isolated, and even though the reawakened creatures and the kidnapped children carry the book quite well, Empire of Night expands on the world building tenfold. You finally see how the imperial city rules its lands and its people and how the citizens of the Empire are anxious, wary, and concerned of the unexplained occurrences.

Alvar––the former imperial marshal and father of Gavril, a warrior who helps Moria escape the ruins of Edgewood in Sea of Shadows––uses that suppressed fear and morphs it into a beast waiting to attack the imperial family and Empire itself. Some residents still question the exile of Alvar. Gavril doesn’t play a huge role in Empire of Night, but he does play a pivotal one, though. So at least we get some good Gavril parts.

The Age of Legends series gets better after every book. Forest of Ruin will be a great finale to this thrilling series! I hope Ashyn gets her chance to show this cruel world what her strength really is. And that ending killed me.

What did you think of this book or series? What were your thoughts on that ending? Expecting it or not? Tell me in the comments!

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August 2016 Book Haul

Ah! My first blog book haul (for the blog at least). Look at these beauties. I’m about to cry. So, as you can see, I’m a tad late with last month’s book haul post. But at least I got it up.

 

Harry Potter Box Set: The Complete Collection by J. K. Rowling

IMG_0319This box set is gorgeous, much more gorgeous in person. I had spent some time looking for the right set. I’m not a huge fan of paperbacks, so hardcover it is. With the children’s box set, I feel as if I can relive my childhood thrill of opening up my first Harry Potter book.

I wasn’t as dedicated to the books as I was with the movies. A teacher ruined the series for me back in Grade 6. But I’ve read about half of the series, though.

But when I opened up this set, I was more giddy than a child on Christmas (sadly enough, the set is for a Christmas gift, so I’ll have to wait reading the books (WHY did I agree with having these as a Christmas gift? Why?!).

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Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong

IMG_0325.jpgI received an ARC from Random House Canada, so I know what happens in the book. But I want to complete my collection, so tada, another Kelley Armstrong book!

This book has a tons of backstory in fae lore, and it sets up for a fantastic finale. The love triangle in Betrayals can be dicey for some readers, but the way Kelley has handled it moves the story and the characters in a great direction.

You get to see Ricky shine in this sequel, and I can’t help but feel sorry for him. You also see more POVs, which I appreciated greatly. I’m still hesitant with Gabriel because of Gwynn’s sway on him, but Gab prevails in the end.

I cannot wait until I read the last book in the series.

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A Torch against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

img_0351It’s here. It’s finally here! I haven’t waited as long as other readers, but doing so was tough. I fell in love with Sabaa’s debut novel. I’m currently reading this one, and I’m blown away! My fangirl is screaming and crying. I have bigger hopes for this book than I had for the first one, and so far, Sabaa is meeting all of them.

And the book is so pretty. Instead of being wrapped in traditional black, the book is in a navy blue, which matches the colour theme in the cover. And there are maps on both endpages! The back endpage shows the Kauf Prison! Eee!

I really don’t know how I can wait for the third book.

😍😍😍

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Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

17236366Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Kelley Armstrong

Publication Date: April 8, 2014

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy

Extent: 416 pages

Rating: 4/5


In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.


Strong female leads, legendary creatures long thought as extinct, riveting storyline, and unexpected betrayal––What more can you get out of a book? With Sea of Shadows, you get all the above and more. Kelley hasn’t delved into high fantasy before, so I wasn’t sure what to anticipate with this debut novel.

After Moria and Ashyn’s town is massacred, the Edgewood children are kidnapped, and the Seeking is interrupted, Moria, Ashyn, Gavril, and Ronan plunge into a perilous journey that forces them to fight reawakened creatures and to cross the deadly Wastes so they can save the children.

Edgewood is perched on the border of the Forest of the Dead, where the Empire sends its convicts. The Seeker begins the annual Seeking, a day to relinquish the trapped and enraged spirits. The Keeper stays to protect the town and its people. Many of the Edgewood residents staunchly believe in the legends of old. Moria and Ashyn are often revered by the town. The book’s shining beacon is the twins. But they are nothing alike. Moria is sharp and hard like steel, while Ashyn is quiet as a breeze, but she has a hidden strength not many see. Together? They are an unbelievable force.

“She watched as her sister read it. Watched as her face crumpled, as her shoulders shook. Ashyn caught her and held her, and they fell against each other as the tears came.”

I adore Moria and Ashyn’s relationship. I got to see how siblings truly protect each other. I grew up with half-siblings, but I’ve never felt a sisterly bond with any of them. The twins’ relationship is effortless, relatable, and, at times, gut wrenching. Moria and Ashyn, along with their father, often defy tradition and the Empire as a way to honour their mother, who took her life to protect them. Reading the twins’ bond, I now see how a real blood bond looks like.

Getting into the Age of Legend series took me a while, but with a second, and for this review, a third reread, I truly enjoyed the book. Kelley creates a captivating world that I haven’t seen in other stories. Sea of Shadows is a solid high-fantasy YA novel that’s rich in mythology. It may have a slow start, but at the heart of this story are two sisters whose wish is to serve their Empire and their people. As Kelley brings long-lost legends to this series, the backstory for each just adds more to the world building. I can’t wait to visit this world again.

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Wrap-Up: August 2016

August2016roundup

This month certainly wasn’t the most productive, and I haven’t put a dent in tackling my bookshelf. But I’ve read some captivating books!

The Oddity by Kat Hawthorne

How much can I gush about this small little treat? Kat’s work made me think. A lot. And not many others do. Sure, you get some books that may make you question a few things, but this one made me think. The story is simply stunning and enchanting, and I hope to have this book on my shelf soon!

One thing I can say is that I love me some beautifully designed books. My Ryerson program has taught me how to appreciate the simplicity and the love of book design. Here’s my review.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong 

I’ve read this book about three times, and every time I do, I fall in love with the world building, the characters, and the storyline. What I love about this series is that it still contains similar themes as her other work, but this one has such a dynamic world I haven’t seen before, and I truly appreciate the mythology behind this story! It truly captured me.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong

Moria truly shines in this sequel. While I didn’t like how the twins were separated, I love how they grew as indidivuals. And the mythology in this book is superb! My God, I love it. I cannot wait to read Forest of Ruin.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ll be posting my reviews for both books soon! And you’ll soon see a big change on my site, so don’t worry. A different name but the same content! One reason why I haven’t been around lately.

Wrap-Up: July 2016

roundup

In July, I found some memorable reads and some fantastic ones. I’m only eight books away from my Goodreads Reading Challenge! Woo!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

A thought-provoking WWII story that explores the heart-breaking journey of two sisters who survive in occupied France. I haven’t cried so hard when I finished this book.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

A heart-pounding and character-driven fantasy that is sure to captivate any reader. Sabaa has a rare and upcoming talent that I hope will enchant me even more. I simply adore her debut novel. Her characters are one the best I’ve seen in years. I can live in her book for weeks!

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

I can’t ask more from Kelley. She sure knows how to write a suspenseful and action-packed thriller. I love how Kelley brings out the psychologist in her. Her ability to address mental illness is superb.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong

A great Canadian read from my favourite author. This novel has a sprinkle of mystery, suspense, and supernatural. I love the banter between the two main characters.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong

A heart-wrenching fantasy that will not let you go! Kelley excels in her fantasy worlds. She is a master in her craft. I’m in love with this Cainsville series. I was not expecting this ending. Wow, I’m blown away. I can’t wait until Rituals is out!

Kelley’s fourth book in the Cainsville series will be out on August 9. You can also find the first five chapters here.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (4.5 actually)

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Review: Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong

25174916Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Random House Canada

Publication Date: August 9, 2016

Genre: Modern Gothic, Fantasy, Suspense, Thriller, New Adult

Extent: 432 pages

Rating: 4.5/5


When Olivia’s life exploded–after she found out she was not the adopted child of a privileged Chicago family but of a notorious pair of convicted serial killers–she found a refuge in the secluded but oddly welcoming town of Cainsville, Illinois. Working with Gabriel Walsh, a fiendishly successful criminal lawyer with links to the town, she discovered the truth about her parents’ crimes in an investigation that also revealed the darker forces at work in the place that had offered her a haven. As if that wasn’t enough, she also found out that she, Gabriel and her biker boyfriend Ricky were not caught in an ordinary sort of love triangle, but were hereditary actors in an ancient drama in which the elders of Cainsville and the mysterious Huntsmen who opposed them had a huge stake.

Now someone is killing street kids in the city, and the police have tied Ricky to the crimes. Setting out with Gabriel’s help to clear Ricky’s name, Olivia once again finds her own life at risk. Soon the three are tangled in a web of betrayals that threatens their uneasy equilibrium and is pushing them toward a hard choice: either they fulfill their destinies by trusting each other and staying true to their real bonds, or they succumb to the extraordinary forces trying to win an eternal war by tearing them apart.


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Note: I’ve received an ARC for an honest review. No, receiving one doesn’t affect my opinion of this book. But whatever Kelley writes will always be on my to-read list. So the point is moot. And no, I will not give any spoilers.

I never thought I’d receive an ARC for a long while, so when I found out I won a Goodreads giveaway, I nearly freaked. Thank you Random House Canada! Ahem. Now onto the book.

···

Betrayals begins four months after Deceptions. Olivia must now accept that she has no other choice but to help Pamela get acquitted. She’s at odds with this decision, even though releasing Pamela will ultimately help Todd with his acquittal. Gabriel and Liv’s relationship is strained from his betrayal in Deceptions. But Gabriel is willing to do anything to get Todd released, even work with Pamela, who tried to frame him for James’ murder. Reluctantly, Liv teams up with Gab when a new case potentially frames Ricky for the disappearance of a man who was stalking him.

Betrayals is a masterly written novel. The expanded mythology opens new worlds for the Cainsville series and quickly draws you in. Kelley cleverly takes legends and shapes them into her own. And while the fae world envelopes her characters and threatens to tear them apart, they have genuine vulnerabilities. She has her craft down to a science.

Throughout Betrayals, you see how Liv, Ricky, and Gab’s bond shapes them. Kelley surprises you with more backstory and mythology than the first three books. This history from the other Matildas, Gwynns, and Arawns is what anchors this book. Betrayals also breaks away from Liv’s POV; it now delves into Ricky’s and Gab’s. I was hoping for Kelley to let us see more of their perspective, and she doesn’t disappoint!

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Oh, that pesky little love triangle. Some readers are bored of it, but I find it enjoyable, because Kelley crafts it in an effortless way. She doesn’t throw it in to cause tension; she uses it to its fullest potential. You get to see how their past life affects their current one. Ricky and Gab don’t become the two men Olivia must decide to choose from; they become a part of a whole. But I do want to smack Ricky and Gabriel (especially Gabriel) around, though.

I appreciated the time jump! The first three books are in quick succession of each other, so having one in the Cainsville series was needed. Betrayals illustrates each characters’ growth within this time. All three characters exhibit natural traits that Matilda, Arawn, and Gwynn had, but Liv, Ricky, and Gab evolve further. I simply adore how Liv shines in this book. And Ricky, too. Ah, Ricky. He transforms from the page to the king (and if you don’t know that reference, I may smack you as well!). Gab is an iffy character for me. Sometimes he’s an enduring man I want to protect, and other times, I’m not sure if Gwynn has a stronger sway on him. I see a part of me in Gab. And I understand why being alone for him is his ability to sidetrack pain. But his past deceit makes me question what he’ll be willing to commit, especially when he realizes his feelings for Liv. How much of Gwynn is in Gab?

The mythology in this book is superb. Kelley incorporates Welsh folklore into each book, and this one contains even more. Now Betrayals opens the world of the Cŵn Annwn and the Tylwyth Teg wide open. Finally, you discover how these fae beings survive and thrive. In Omens, I fell in love with Cainsville. Hell, I fell in love with the entire series. But Betrayals solidifies that thrill. I want to hunt for gargoyles, jump in to old books, have visions, and run with The Wild Hunt.

There is one thing I must say: I was not expecting that ending or that heart-wrenching fight. They floored me when I got to the end. My God. Kelley brings subtly to a new level. Kelley creates an action-packed universe filled with deceitful tricksters and enduring characters. At the heart of the Cainsville series,  a poignant love story of three fae shapes a enchanting mystery that won’t let you go. Betrayals beautifully lays out the groundwork for the finale, Rituals. I cannot wait to have the last book in my hands. Prepare yourself for your trip down the rabbit hole.

You can find the first five chapters here.

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Mini Review: The Masked Truth and The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong

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24733600The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Orca Book Publishers

Publication Date: October 13, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary, Thriller

Extent: 352 pages

Rating: 3/5


Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for. Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal. The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage. The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree. Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.


Therapy camp, murder, and teen mental illness? Sign me up! Surprisingly, I enjoyed reading this novel. I had no high expectations, but I savoured the easy read and fast-paced action in The Masked Truth. It does take a foreign path I’m not accustomed to with Kelley, so I wasn’t expecting to be hooked so quickly.

With The Masked Truth, you get to see Kelley’s other side. She studied for a degree in psychology before she became an author, and her experience shows through in her writing. How Kelley addresses mental illness––especially schizophrenia and PTSD––in youth is what sparked my interest.

This book reminds me of Kelley’s Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series, but without the fantasy. Riley is a relatable teen who witnesses a brutal crime that causes her to attend this deadly therapy retreat, and Max is a teenage boy who simply cannot accept his diagnosis (I know I couldn’t, especially with my family connection to his illness). Both work great as a team, and I enjoyed both POVs.

Two negatives are Max’s obsession to continuously make out and his tendency to wander. I get why he’s intrigued by Riley, but I believe your life has a higher priority than kissing her, even if she is cute. And now I sound old. Great. Anyways, Kelley took a chance with this standalone book, and while there were some rough edges, The Masked Truth is a fun read.

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003188_1163d3ae7b517100f7d7003e0c15cb18The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: September 29, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Supernatural, Mystery

Extent: 264 pages

Rating: 3/5


Tess has always been tormented by waking visions that make her question her sanity. When the orphanage she lives in burns down, she decides to face her fears and find out once and for all what is wrong with her. She believes the truth must lie with her parents, and so, armed with only an address and phone number, Tess travels to a crumbling mansion in rural Quebec, where she discovers evidence of mistreatment of mental patients. She also makes an unlikely ally and gradually unearths her family’s sad history—and finally accepts the truth about her paranormal powers.


When Kelley brings Canadiana to her work, especially setting her book in Canada, I am eager to get my hands on it. I don’t always see Canadian settings. Don’t get me wrong; I love other countries, but when I know which city or town authors write about, I’m thrilled to immerse myself in their work.

This book is a part of the Secrets series from Orca Book Publishers. I’m not intrigued by all the books in Secrets, but I’m interested in a few: Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer, My Life before Me by Norah McClintock, and Innocent by Eric Walters.

This book also deals with mental illness but is sprinkled with some suspense and supernatural undertones. At first, Tess annoyed me a little, especially when she doesn’t listen to her instincts. But I grew to like her, though. I enjoyed her character’s growth and the banter she has with Jackson. Both have an interesting bond. But I felt that the ending was rushed. The Unquiet Past is a quick and compelling read. I wish Kelley fleshed out the ending, though. The rating would be different. Overall, it was a nice read.

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