Monday, May 26, 2014

BEA Here I Come!

I'm thrilled to be attending BEA again! I cannot wait to meet many of the friends I've made online this year, and see all of you I got to know at the event last year. This will likely be my last post until after the event. I didn't do a great job of scheduling in advance, and I'm just kidding myself thinking I'll be able to get anything else up this week. But I'll be around on twitter and Instagram while I'm away. I'll also be missing all of you who cannot attend!

I wasn't sure if I'd do a pre-event post, because so many of you have put out great info, but I'd figure I'd write mine to remind myself of everything again. 

I'll be wearing and giving out
these awesome buttons this year!

1) Make a spreadsheet in Google docs. I'm definitely a need to know type of person, and there's so much going on every day that I want to maximize my time as much as possible. I'll print my schedule, but if it's in docs, I can also pull it up on my phone for a backup if I lose my sheets.

*Jenna has linked a list on her website of all the YA related drops and signings. This is a great starting point. 

2) Memorize the floor plan. Or at least familiarize it. This is all part of my need to know where to be when. The exhibit floor is HUGE and publishers are fairly spread out this year, so knowing approximately where they are is so helpful. 

3) Set some goals. I have 2 major goals this year: a) I'm trying to be more picky and not just grab everything I see. Only books that interest me, and I think I'll be able to read. b) I'd also like to pick up a few more adult books instead of just YA. I did this at ALA and was so happy to find some new favorites! Hannah @ So Obsessed With has been helping me sort through the adult lists. 

*Last year was my first year and my goals were much less lofty. Knowing the layout and general structure of the event has left more room in my head for other things. We'll see wether I'm able to stick to them.

If you are a visual person, and want to know more about what BEA and Javits looks like, check my BEA in pictures post from last year. 

Outside the Javits center. I hope it's as beautiful this year as it was last!
1) Arrive at the Javits center early, at least by 8 am. 

Bag check
2) Check a bag - I thought I was too cool for rolling bags last year. Big Mistake. Your back will DIE if you try to carry everything all day. Even if you don't have a rolling suitcase, check a tote and fill it up throughout the day. I think it's around $3 to do this and is so so worth it. BUT the baggage check fills up quick, so do this when you arrive. Don't wait until it's midday and your arms are tired. 

3) If you don't have a morning breakfast/event, get in line by 8:30 for the exhibit floor. I'd suggest a door that isn't the main entrance, because less(ish) people will be there.

Roomies drop at Little, Brown BYR
4) Unless you have a signing line to be in immediately, do a quick run around to publishers to check morning drops, especially those that don't publish their schedules. 

5) As you go through the publisher booths - or on a second time through, since you will be circling the floor a lot - ask publicists whether they have drop schedules. Many will. Some have posted them already, like Macmillan. Some like to be secretive about what they give out/when, but if you ask nicely about specific books, you may be able to get an answer of when the book you want will be dropped. 

Long lines at the Autographing Area
6) Get into signing lines an hour ahead. Even in booth signings can have long lines, if they're popular books or authors. Sometimes signing lines wrap past the partition. Or sometimes if you're early enough, the previous signing is still going on, so you have to wait in a side area. Get to know the people organizing the lines and stay on top of where you are, so you don't end up in a fake line. 
Bags of books
7) Take breaks and be flexible. The event is overwhelming and there is lots happening all at once, stepping out of the exhibit floor throughout the day to take a breath is necessary. But you may not have time to go out for lunch, so bring lots of snacks. Realize that you may not be able to get everything you want, but you will get a lot of it. Also, schedules change, so be willing to go with the flow. 

8) BEA is better with friends. Last year I got lots of galleys that I hadn't known about previously, because other bloggers were excited about them, and I tagged along to the signing or drops. But it was so fun to meet other bloggers, and go through the experience with them. 


1) If you mail books - Last year I walked to the Post Office and sent 4 boxes home via media mail. They arrived safely, though at least one box was a little torn. That is by far the cheapest mailing method, and I'll probably mail at least one box this year. I'm going to try to roll the rest home on the train with me. 

If you will be mailing, I suggest you bring good packing tape and a sharpie marker. Though you can buy tape and boxes at the PO, if you don't want to bring anything. I'd also suggest you use smaller boxes to mail, even if that means more of them. Books are so heavy that I found the smaller ones held up better. Then tape the entire box up. Don't be shy. This saved my books last year.  

2) Business cards - You will give these out to other bloggers and publishers. If you don't have your address on your cards, write it on a few of them for publishers. You might also want to bring some post-it notes to wrap around the cards. If you talk to a publisher specifically about a book they promise to send you, put it on the post-it so they remember. They might not anyway. I had a few tell me they'd send me a book last year and it never happened. Try to get their cards as well and send a follow up email. This was much more successful for me. 

3) Snacks. Comfortable shoes. Portable phone charger. Layers - temperatures on the show floor can fluctuate. 

Any hints you want to give me? 

I'd love to know if you'll be at BEA too! 

Please don't be shy about introducing yourself to me next week! 
I do look like that picture on my sidebar. 
And we can be friends even if you like love triangles. 

Yesterday, I narrowly escaped a dinosaur attack!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan
or why I love Percy Jackson

The House of Hades
by Rick Riordan

Read: May 11 - 15, 2014
Published: October 8, 2013 by Hyperion Books
Source: Kindle purchase
Category: Greek gods, demigods, Middle Grade

Series: The Heroes of Olympus #4 (after Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5)
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.


This review is SAFE for all readers, whether you've read this series or not. In fact, I encourage you to read this if you're curious about these books but have yet to tackle them.

If you have never met Percy Jackson, well, I'm sorry for you. But I bet you're feeling daunted by the prospect of all of the books you'd have to read to get to this point. Five books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and then three books in The Heroes of Olympus series, before reaching this one, book four, The House of Hades (that's nine total if you count the series together). Let me tell you that it's definitely worth it. 

I never read long series. Five or six books is about my limit, but I enjoyed The House of Hades as much as the previous set. I can't wait for the final book, The Blood of Olympus, which will end the series and hopefully let Percy and Annabeth rest a little bit. 

If you're wondering whether or not to give these a go, here are some reasons I can't get enough of these books:

1) Greek mythology in a modern setting - Okay so that's a given. But I've always been a huge fan of Greek mythology, and I have been majorly impressed with how it's been presented in this series. These books are rich with characters and stories that make Greek mythology come to life in all its messy complexity. I have learned so much about gods, goddesses and myths that surround them. But it's also fun to see how they've been put into the modern world - some are more adaptable than others - and how Riordan has explained details like why Mount Olympus is now in New York? I thought for sure we'd have run out of material by now, but every book is a new experience, and The Heroes of Olympus series has taken everything in an even more exciting direction. 

2) Not formulaic - Way back when I read the first two books in the first Percy series, I enjoyed them, but the quests were structured the same, so I started to think that the whole series would contain the same plot flow. Nope. It would be easy to go that direction, but I remember being pleasantly surprised when book 3 set the story up differently. Although the demigods are always going on quests and encountering dangers, tests and vengeful gods, each book has been fresh and exciting. In this installment The House of Hades, Percy and Annabeth travel through Tartarus, which is a whole new experience. 

3) Witty - These books and the characters in them amuse me. I'm constantly highlighting lines that make me laugh. They aren't comedies, although they're funny at times, but the language is delightful and constantly entertaining. 

Example 1:
She kicked and struggled, trying to keep both of them afloat. Another cosmic joke for Gaea to laugh at: Annabeth dies trying keep her boyfriend, the son of Poseidon, from drowning. Not going to happen, you hag, Annabeth thought.
Example 2: 
He tried to get up. His limbs were useless. Someone was tugging at his waist, maybe a friend trying to help him up? No. His friends didn't smell like heavily perfumed monkey cages. 

4) Percy and Annabeth aka Percabeth - I love these two individually, but together they are incredible. They have grown up a lot in the series (from 13 - 17 years), and they form one of my favorite literary ships ever. We are nine books into their relationship (they didn't start dating right away, but they began going on quests together in book 1), and watching them literally navigate through hell together has solidified them even more as a YA power couple. They are aware of their own strengths and insecurities as well as each others, and they trust and support each other implicitly. Constantly battling outside forces intent on their demise, they would not have survived this book without the strength of their relationship. 
Reyna shrugged. "Says the demigod who fell into Tartarus and found his way back." 
"He had help," Annabeth said. 
"Oh, obviously," Reyna said. "Without you, I doubt Percy could find his way out of a paper bag."  
"True," Annabeth agreed. 
"Hey!" Percy complained. 
5) Everyone else - Although they are my favorites, Percabeth are not the only characters in this book. Percy voices the entire first series, but the second set of books has a cast of demigod narrators, all of whose lives I've become invested in - Jason, Leo, Piper, Hazel, Frank. Each of them plays an integral role in in this installment. They all have their own struggles, insecurities and triumphs. It's also fun (and sometimes not) to meet other former characters again - some friends, some definitely enemies. 

The downside. 
1) With 7 different narrators in The House of Hades, it was hard to focus as much as I wanted on each storyline. I wanted to see more of all of them! If this worries you greatly, this book is the first where we've all their voices together, usually it's only a few of them at once. Thankfully, we got a lot of Percabeth. And I'm hoping that the final book finally gives us Nico's perspective. I love him. 

2) I read the first 5 books in this series in 2010, but I've read the new series as it's released. The House of Hades especially includes a lot of reminiscing between Annabeth and Percy. With so much packed into each book, I struggle to remember the individual stories from the first series set. I loved Bob in this installment, but I could not remember him at all in previous books. 

I don't know how Riordan does it every time, but this series has been consistently excellent from the beginning. Despite the ever present quest and conniving gods and goddesses, it has stayed fresh and exciting throughout. I can't wait for the finale!

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Definitely less than the last book! But these characters have a lot more to come. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Series Review: Reboot and Rebel by Amy Tintera

by Amy Tintera
Read: May 4 - 9, 2014
Published: May 7, 2013 by HarperTeen
Source: Kindle purchase
Category: Dystopian, zombies, romance, YA

Series: Reboot #1
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.


Mini review: While this story is fun and the romance is sweet, I just couldn't muster that much enthusiasm for Reboot. I have a very low tolerance for dystopian/post-apocalyptic/zombie type stories these days, so part of my reaction to this book is definitely the fact that my over saturation levels on this subject have been reached. The concept of the Reboots - humans that die and the come back stronger with amazing healing abilities - and the KDH virus that caused them was interesting. But I wanted to know more about the world at large - is everyone else in the country dead? I also thought the drug being given to the under 60s (Reboots dead for less than an hour before they came back) was quite mysterious, I never got a full picture of how it would work. Wren is pretty badass and unemotional, and I liked seeing how Callum was a counter to her, and also how he made her question what she believed about herself, humans and the reboot program. I enjoyed their romance, though I'm not sure they'd realistically be kissing as much as they were, on the run during some of the more intense moments. Although I never fell in love with this book, I did enjoy it enough to read the sequel. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium (Not a stressful scene, but definitely mid series)


by Amy Tintera
Read: May 17 - 19, 2014
Published: May 13, 2014 by HarperTeen
Source: Kindle purchase
Category: Dystopian, zombies, romance, YA

Series: Reboot #2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

The sequel to the action-packed Reboot is a can't-miss thrill ride, perfect for fans of James Patterson, Veronica Roth, and Marie Lu.

After coming back from death as Reboots and being trained by HARC as soldiers, Wren and Callum have finally escaped north, where they hope to find a life of freedom. But when they arrive at the Reboot Reservation, it isn't what they expected. Under the rule of a bloodthirsty leader, Micah, the Reboots are about to wage an all-out war on the humans. Although Wren's instincts are telling her to set off into the wilderness on their own and leave the battle far behind, Callum is unwilling to let his human family be murdered. When Micah commits the ultimate betrayal, the choice is made for them. But Micah has also made a fatal mistake . . . he's underestimated Wren and Callum.

The explosive finale to the Reboot duology is full of riveting action and steamy love scenes* as Wren and Callum become rebels against their own kind.

*I don't remember this…though there was some great romantic moments, I think "steamy love scenes" is a stretch!

I enjoyed Rebel a lot more than Reboot! I was so much more invested in these characters and their story. I think that happened for a few reasons:

1) The author added Callum's POV, which was a GREAT decision. He is much more emotionally expressive than Wren, and I connected with his narrative better than hers. I also really liked seeing Callum step it up in this book. He mostly followed Wren around in the last story - he was a new Reboot and incapacitated for part of it - but I wasn't sure how their different abilities and perspectives would work in a longterm relationship. I enjoyed seeing more balance between them, and watching Callum take on more leadership and responsibility. I love how supportive they are of each other, and the way they acknowledge that each has his/her own strengths. They are also willing to ask each other and themselves hard questions, but despite that, this book never fell into an angst trap. 

2) I'm happy this story focused less on a revolution plot, which seems standard to any dystopian, and more on social, community questions. How can humans and reboots co-exist in this society? Are they destined to be separate? Should one group be eliminated? There's a lot of suspicion and hurt between the two: is it possible to heal that? Of course violence and battles are part of the immediate answer, but what will happen longterm? I enjoyed exploring this within the characters, especially Wren, who had to grapple with it a lot more than Callum. We also saw these questions play out in the larger world. 

3) Micah was a great character who added complexity to this story. He is the leader of the Reboot reservation. Though he creeped me out from the start, it isn't clear right away whether he'd turn into a villain or what role he'd play. Watching Wren's perspective of him slowly change was extremely well done, especially how that affected her overall view of the world. I was much more on the edge of my seat while reading this book than the first, and that had a lot to do with Micah's addition, especially in the first half of the book. But Micah wasn't the only secondary character who stood out. I enjoyed getting to know Addie better, as well as seeing Wren's old trainer Riley, the Austin Rebels and Callum's brother. Wren was so emotionally isolated in the first book, and Rebel had more of a community feel to it. 

Reboot and Rebel are a solid series that is a little more romance based than the traditional dystopian story. It is another reminder to me how much I prefer to read series books back to back than spread out over years. The first book was fresh in my mind when I read the second and the two together created great momentum. Although many of my additional world building questions were not addressed in the finale, I really liked the shift in focus to the characters and society. I'm glad I read these!

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Series conclusion

Friday, May 16, 2014

Early Review: Hexed by Michelle Krys

by Michelle Krys
Read: April 26 - 28, 2014
Published: June 10 2014 by Delacorte Press
Source: ALA, (Thank you, RH!)
Category: YA, witches, LA

Find: Goodreads | Amazon

If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.


I have mixed feelings about this book. The idea of combining witches and cheerleaders in southern California was too fun to pass up, but unfortunately, this story didn't deliver as much as I'd hoped. 

Indigo Blackwood is everything you'd think of a high school cheerleader. She has popular friends, a football star boyfriend, and she doesn't want anyone to see when her nerdy neighbor Paige talks to her. Indie also tries not to advertise the fact that her mom owns an occult shop. Then one day Indie sees a guy die right in front of her, and the family Bible her mom is obsessed with protecting gets stolen. Soon a hot guy she's never met named Bishop is telling her that witches are real and she might be one of them. Not only that but she somehow gets stuck in the middle of a war between witches and sorcerers (whom she'd never heard of either). 

What's interesting about Indie is that we learn right away that she cares a lot less about her actual social status than she does about maintaining her best friend, and resident queen of popularity, Brianna. Indie is very much a follower, but one who is also loyal. As someone who has always been more comfortable with a couple of close friends, I can understand the part of Indie that has worked to maintain her friendship with Brianna. However, Indie does realize the truth about her friend and boyfriend, and starts to go her own way for once. Indie stops caring about popularity, and develops a friendship with her nerdy neighbor Paige. And Indie very quickly realizes that she's involved in a lot more important and dangerous things than high school. I enjoyed seeing her become stronger and step out of her earlier behavior as the story progressed.

I liked the friendship that Indie develops with Paige, and the fact that it does require apologizing on Indigo's part. Paige is actually much stronger than the social pariah that Indie initially depicts her. Paige has he own friends and it's clear she's much more content with her life than Indie has been. 

The slowly developing relationship between Indie and Bishop is also a highlight of this story. When the book begins, Indie does have a boyfriend, but it's clear that they aren't a great match. Thankfully, it doesn't drag out very long before there is a decisive end. Indigo and Bishop have a fantastic amount of tension and swoon, but also wonderful honest conversations. They also bond over tough emotional situations that they've both faced. 

However, despite liking the main characters and romance, I struggled with the world building in this book. The difference between witches and sorcerers was vaguely described in a few sentences, and I never got the point of their huge war. I wanted to know more about both societies, especially the witches. Also, the bad guys were we encountered were like cartoon characters, they were so over the top. Without a strong grounding, the whole paranormal aspect of this book ended up seeming incredibly silly to me, especially in the very real LA setting. 

This installment of the series ends solidly, but there is a cliffhanger at the very end that sets up the action for the following book. I hope that there will be more world building details to come in the future. But Hexed is more focused on action than any of that, so I'm not sure that will happen. At this point, I don't know if I will continue this series, because the aspects I liked were not enough to make up for those that I did not. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars
by E. Lockhart
Read: May 12 - 13, 2014
Published: May 13, 2014 by Delacorte Press
Source: ALA (Thank You, Random House!)
Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.


BEFORE reading: In my mind, I equated We Were Liars to being something like The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I was also convinced I wasn't going to like it, so I went in with very low expectations. Not because of my preconceived literary comparison, but because of the very mixed reactions I'd seen. 

AFTER reading: Surprise. Surprise.

Surprise #1: I really liked this! I was shocked at how well it worked for me. Also, I wasn't totally wrong with The Secret History comparison. I mean it's not that story at all, but both books center around wealthy New England youth who deal in twisty lies, scheming and shenanigans. In fact, this story invoked the spirit of some of the classics I've read featuring powerful, destructive families and class issues. Brideshead Revisited was also mentioned in passing through the course of the narrative. And there's a film that's different from those, which I also thought of while reading this book, especially towards the end when I figured out what was happening. But it's a spoiler, so I will refrain from mentioning it.

Surprise #2: Even though I guessed the big reveal, I still liked this. Watching the pieces come together just heightened my experience with this story. However, I do wish everyone wasn't talking about the fact that this book centers around a a big THING you're not supposed to talk about. Because I don't think I would have guessed if I'd gone into the book more organically, and hadn't known to be looking for it. 

What I loved so much about We Were Liars is the broken, hazy feel to the story, set off by the short sentences, the poetic vivid imagery, Cadence's missing memories and the fact that we know so little about the characters - only their summer selves. And only what Cadence remembers and chooses to share with us. This is not a character driven story, and I've seen complaints of people not connecting to the players, but this all worked to heighten the creepy mystery atmosphere. After working at an overnight camp for a few summers as a teen, I can definitely relate to the idea of a separate summer life. Like your summer self is not reality. Or it is somehow more vivid, and who you really are. 

Some elements in this story are far fetched and I can see where knowing the characters better would have made connections and motives stronger and more relatable, but that didn't bother me while reading. And I can see where those things also might have taken away from the atmosphere created by the prose and storytelling, which I quite liked. This book is clever, beautifully tragic, and riveting. I encourage you to pick it up and experience it for yourself. The only way you'll really know what you think about 
We Were Liars is to read it for yourself. 

Love Triangle Factor: None 
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 

Monday, May 12, 2014

LET'S DISCUSS: The Decoy Boy

Original image source

Definition: (also Decoy Girl) In a story, the other person the main character (MC) dates or flirts with that isn't her/his True Love Interest. Utilized a lot in contemporary YA romantic fiction, the addition of a Decoy Boy/Girl is different from a love triangle because this character doesn't last long as a love interest and the overall romantic tension in the story is not between this character and the MCIt's usually obvious that Decoy Boy is not the best match for the MC, and clear that he's not real competition for the True Love Interest. Sometimes, the True Love Interest has a decoy romance happening that parallels the one between the MC and Decoy Boy. 

Reasons authors include a Decoy Boy/Girl in their stories:

1) Confusion and conflict - Decoy Boys are very good at causing confusion and tension between the Main Character and her True Love Interest.  They are a way to add conflict to the overall plot, and obstacles between the couple that the story is really about. 

2) Another Purpose - Sometimes this character will play a different more important role in the book, and his role as decoy romantic interest is just a smoke screen for his real purpose. When this happens, the decoy love interest plot is in itself a decoy for his bigger purpose in the story. (If I didn't explain that well, Blake in Onyx of the Lux series is a good example of this).  

3) Jealousy and a wake up call - Decoy Boys are a great way to make the True Love Interest jealous, and a way for the MC to finally realize who she really wants, which is not Decoy Boy. 

4) Filler - Gotta keep that tension high, and not let the real romance peak too soon. Throw in a decoy romance to fill some time!

My thoughts on this phenomenon:

It's probably not surprising that I'm not the biggest fan of decoy characters, though I find them much easier to handle than real love triangles. As mentioned above, it's usually very obvious that this guy is not the right match for the MC, and equally obvious that the MC isn't that into him. However, there's almost always a generous lag time between me thinking the Decoy Boy is getting in the way of the Main Love Story, the heroine fingering out that he's not who she wants, and then when she finally drops him. I'd rather save myself the trouble and cut him out completely, or shift his role in the book. There are only a few cases where I've appreciated his role in the romance. But considering the amount of times I've run across him recently, I have a feeling he's here to stay. 

This boy is everywhere! Stories I've read recently featuring this concept:

What do you think of the Decoy boy? 
Love him, loathe him, indifferent? Is he a necessary evil? 
Or should we rid the world of him? Thoughts?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Early Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception
by Mary E. Pearson
Read: April 6 - 19, 2014
Published: July 15, 2014 by Henry Holt **UPCOMING**
Source: Macmillan (Thank you!)
Category: Fantasy, kingdoms, runaway princess 

Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assasin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.


This review goes out to all the love triangle dislikers out there. 
Because I’m trying to avoid love triangles at all cost these days, especially in series, I asked several early readers whether The Kiss of Deception had one or not. The answers weren’t straightforward, which worried me. Several people told me NO there is not a triangle in this book, but others told me there was one, or there eventually could be one, which is just as scary for me. I’m a big fan of fantasy, and I loved the premise of this story (minus the triad), so decided to read it and find out for myself. Then break down my assessment for you. 

Story set-up
On the morning of her wedding to a man she's never met, Princess Lia runs away instead of going through with the prearranged marriage. The only daughter in her family, Lia grew up playing and exploring with her brothers, but her life has been increasingly controlled by duty and tradition in recent years. Lia feels that the only way she can get control of her life is by leaving for good.  

Lia escapes with her ladies maid Paulina and together they travel to a quiet seaside town to begin their new lives. Lia is thrilled to be free from the obligations and responsibilities she has never wanted nor cared about. But soon after Lia arrives in Teravina, two mysterious and handsome strangers show up as well. Lia doesn't realize that one is the prince she left behind, and the other is an assassin sent to kill her. Deception, love and betrayal will occur and each of them will change the lives of the others. 

Does this book have a love triangle?
No, it does not…but. It’s that but where things get sticky. Basically everything about this book is set up to make you think there will be a love triangle. Lia meets Rafe and Kaden at the same time. She finds them both attractive, and muses on this fact quite frequently. Pretty much the entire time they're in the town of Teravina, she's thinking about them, and they're thinking about her. We also get all three of their perspectives throughout the course of this story. Anticipation wise, I was convinced a triangle was looming on the horizon, and it definitely affected my enjoyment of the story, at least in the first half.

However, even though this book appears like its purpose is to introduce a love triangle, one never materializes. Lia picks a favorite boy pretty much immediately and sticks to that person throughout this story. I actually have always been one to pick my favorite guy (in real life and books), so the fact that she singles one out immediately, did not bother me - it made things easier, honestly. However, I did think their romance started very quickly. To me, instant-attraction doesn't rule out the emotional steps of building a relationship, and I wanted a little more from them. Also, I was distracted by the other guy floating around, and worried about a potential triangle, which made it hard for me to focus on these two as much as I would have liked.

A lot more is happening than a romance. 
As mentioned, I struggled with the section of this story that takes place in Teravina. Lia, Rafe and Kaden are all stuck there together with nothing much happening besides a berry festival. However, I will say that there's a point to this part of the book besides creating a love triangle, so I'd encourage you to stick through it and try not to stress as much as I did. Eventually, something big happens and the story switches directions in an exciting way. Even though that section makes more sense in hindsight, I wish it had been written a little differently to take the focus off the relationships.

What I enjoyed
I love the political atmosphere in this world, especially as it relates to the three main characters. I think it's going to be exciting to explore that going forward. The very beginning and second half were the strongest sections for me. Lia impressed me a lot in the latter half of the book. There are a few scenes where her strength shines, and I cannot wait for more of that fierce girl to come in the future. We also meet several secondaries besides the three I've talked about, that I'm eager to see again. Finally, this book ends explosively with some events and revelations that made me definitely want to pick up the next book (assuming not triangle revives). 

Looking ahead
Actually the end of this story makes it seem less likely that any romantic waffling will happen in the future. But I've stopped trusting my instincts when it comes to those things. We still know so little about this world, it's history, countries, magic,  or even many of these characters, when the book ends. Although those are the details that I'm most excited about. I wish that the focus of the first book had been a little more on those themes, but I'm hopeful that the next book will flesh out the hints that we got. I also want a map in the next book!

Love Triangle Factor: None/Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium

PS. I was initially very worried about that cover, because it seems like the girl in the center is looking back between two guys. But the author informed me that one of the characters in the background is a girl. So it's not a Rafe and Kaden. 
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