MINI-REVIEWS #29 & #30: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore & The Ruining by Anna Collomore

Title: Graceling
Series: Graceling Realm
Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Harcourt
Release Date: October 1st, 2008
Pages: 471 pages, Hardcover
Source:  AudioBook
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:
His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn't shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn't seem human....

Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.

Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.

In a world where people born with an extreme skill - called a Grace - are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

I had heard only good things about Graceling  so I was really excited to start the book.  I alternated between reading and listening to the audiobook.  It took a little while to get into the book though.  I am attributing some of this to starting the book as an audiobook, since Graceling is a fantasy book, the building and explanation of the world and characters was harder to keep track of when listening.  When I switched over to the text version, the novel just flew by.

Kristin Cashore did a phenomenal job describing the world of the graced, the various kingdoms, and the lifestyles Katsa and Po live.  Katsa is strong, powerful, and often times stubborn young adult with the unique Grace. Po has an even more unique and taboo Grace.  Even though Katsa is stubborn, she loves Po with such intensity its hard not to like their love story.Yet Katsa is still a knife-slinging, strong fighting tough girl that you admire.   Bitterblue and Katsa's relationship builds slowly throughout the story, Katsa being a protector and becoming like an older sister to Bitterblue.  By the end, I couldn't help but cheer for Bitterblue as she grew into her role. 

Overall this was a 4.5 star read. I love the characters and how they had flaws, like Katsa and Po's stubbornness, it made the more likeable and real.  The story was a bit slow in some parts (which is why its not a 5 star for me) yet there was a perfect mix of love story, friendship, and adventure. A great high fantasy read with an unexpected ending. 

Title: The Ruining
Author: Anna Collomore
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 7th, 2013
Pages: 313 pages, Hardcover
Source:  ARC
Rating: 4 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Annie Phillips is thrilled to leave her past behind and begin a shiny new life on Belvedere Island, as a nanny for the picture-perfect Cohen family. In no time at all, she falls in love with the Cohens, especially with Libby, the beautiful young matriarch of the family. Life is better than she ever imagined. She even finds romance with the boy next door.

All too soon cracks appear in Annie's seemingly perfect world. She's blamed for mistakes she doesn't remember making. Her bedroom door comes unhinged, and she feels like she's always being watched. Libby, who once felt like a big sister, is suddenly cold and unforgiving. As she struggles to keep up with the demands of her new life, Annie's fear gives way to frightening hallucinations. Is she tumbling into madness, or is something sinister at play?

The Ruining is a complex ride through first love, chilling manipulation, and the terrifying depths of insanity.

Both Nicole and I read this book, so instead of completely re-reviewing this is just a mini-review.  Click here for her longer review.

Contemporary/Psychological thrillers are not my normal choice but The Ruining had me instantly captivated, flying through the book.  Collomore developed the relationship between Annie and Libby (her boss) with such detail and intensity it was hard to start to feel creeped out by what was happening.  By the end you really start to question Annie's sanity and try to figure out what is Libby's deal and piece together the clues given. The relationship between Annie and Owen moved a little quick at first, but I did like their relationship especially way Owen cared for Annie.  The plot pace was excellent there was no slow parts; all the elements built perfectly upon one another to the exciting climax.

The Ruining is definitely a 4 star read.  I agree with Nicole's comment about the ending, while there was some resolve and explanation, it did seem a bit rushed.  I would have liked a bit more of a conclusion and assurance of Annie's mental state. Annie's downward spiraling life was believable, exciting and unsettling; I would recommend it if you are in the mood for a creepy read that will have you on edge and uneasy through the whole story.



  1. I listened to the Graceling audiobook too and had to look up a map online when they started rambling on about Estil and Wester and whatever. It helped tons- I have no idea how anyone could manage sans map :/

    But yeah- fabulous book with a great cast. Nice reviews :)

  2. Graceling sounds very good. I need to pick that one up soon. The concept and the world-building sound great. I like the cover from The ruining! Great mini-reviews :)



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