Book Review: The Kiss of Deception – Mary E. Pearsons

Title:  Kiss of Deception (The Remant Chronicals – Book 1)

Author: Mary E. Pearsons
Synopsis from Goodreads:

A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love. 

My Review:
Kiss of Deception is a little bit hard for me to rate, because while part of me felt just a bit “eh” about the whole thing, another part of me could NOT.STOP.THINKING.ABOUT.IT.  I love the concept, the story of a young adult standing up for her rights and even wants and need; but then having to face the consequences of those actions. Lia was a strong and growing character, and I felt like I grew right along with her – I felt the injustice of an arrange marriage, her confusion as she was starting to discover her gift, and then her devastation at realizing the chain of events that has followed as a result of her running away.  The LOVE TRIANGLE (yes, of course) was beautiful, I was trapped between Rafe and Kaden, and had a very difficult time “choosing” a side, because throughout the first half of the book, both boys kind of made my heart melt.  All of that sounds great, so I’ll tell you what was wrong;  this book felt like it just draaagged on forever without a whole lot of action, and even that little bit kind of felt flat to me, which could have been the result of how long it took to get from Point A to Point B.

Rated: PG
Genre:  Young Adult – Dystopian, Romance
Rating: 3-Stars

Book Review: The Jewel – Amy Ewing

Title: The Jewel (The Lone City Series, Book 1)

Author: Amy Ewing
Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

My Review:
In a cross between The Selection by Kiera Cass and Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien, The Jewel is a story with a class system and a bit of rags to riches (Selection), where the rich need something from the poor in order to survive (Birthmarked) and of course forbidden romance (both); this book was right up the dystopian-lover’s alley!  While I enjoyed this book, I cannot say that it was among my favorites.  The relationship between Violet and Ash seemed to fall short for me for some reason, perhaps the “passion” moved too quickly?  The politics are what kept the book interesting rather than the romantic interest, which is a bit unusual, however I was invested in plot and wanted to know what exactly what was going to happen next.  And in true ‘series’ form; the cliffhanger, while wasn’t a big shocker given the foreshadowing, left me sitting on the couch with mouth hanging open thinking, “Nooooo….”

Rated:  PG
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Dystopian
Rating:  3 Stars

The Girl in the Steel Corset – Kady Cross

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Add half star to my rating…Goodreads, my suggestion – we need half stars please!)

GENRE: Young Adult – Paranormal/Fantasy/Steampunk
FORM: eBook – Nook
SERIES: The Steampunk Chronicles  #1

SYNOPSIS: Finley Jane, living in England late 1800’s, seems to have a split personality. One side of her is a sweet, gentle, kind-hearted girl despite her pension for sarcasm, the other side is much darker and thrives on confrontation and is prone to egg on anyone who wishes to challenge her or gets her mad. It is this other side that, she believes, is responsible for her heightened sense of sight, smell, hearing, agility, and strength; combined with fast healing abilities, Finley Jane is a force to be reckoned with. She meets up with Lord Griffin King, and his group of friends, all of whom seem to have special ‘talents’ of their own. Together, they will investigate a series of machine mishaps, believed to be caused by someone who calls himself “the Machinist,” and also discover a few of the what’s and why’s of their abilities.

REVIEW: I was really psyching myself up for this book. It had popped up all over the review blogs, and Goodreads and other discussions. The more I saw it, the more drawn to it I was. Of course the beautiful cover didn’t hurt any. I had never heard of “Steampunk” until this book started popping up, and even now I’m not completely sure what it is, exactly. I do know that, while this book is set in the late 1800’s, Steampunk seems to a popular thing right now, (I just heard of a “steampunk’ed themed bridal shower.”) Someone is going to need to educate me, I think. Of course, I could always just google.

Anyhow, so I’m all excited to get this book, and I am going to say that now that I’ve read it, I think I psyched it up a little too much in my mind. There really were parts that I loved, and parts that I didn’t love so much. So, I’m going to just jump into that portion of my review template, and they will be a bit longer than normal…

WHAT I LOVED: Lets see…the setting. Victorian era, London…the perfect mix of beautiful and sludge. I really enjoy novels set in this time-frame. In this case, it was nice not to be a reading about a debutant in a Victorian parade of lace and tradition. I liked seeing a bit of the underbelly; people who are not necessarily a part of all the pomp and circumstance, but stand outside of it.

I also loved the characters themselves. Finley Jane has a slightly vindictive, sarcastic side that I love to read in books. That kind of attitude never seems to stop making me smile. Of course, it’s not so nice when it’s not coming out of a demon hunter; or, as in this case, out of a girl trying to protect her virtue. She is also just one of those female leads I love to read about; beautiful butt-kicker! Griffin was a well put together young man; he seemed to know exactly how to take advantage of his power and money. It was extremely convenient to write him as a rich young ruler (of sorts) with no real parental guidance. It makes doing whatever, whenever so much easier, right? Then there is the true “underbelly” character of the book, Jack Dandy. Good guy? Bad guy? Will we ever really find out?

I also really, really enjoyed the action/fighting scenes. They were just about perfect.

Okay, now comes the harder part.

NOT SO MUCH: Let’s see…I had a really hard time merging the modern technology with the Victorian setting. I understand this is at the cusp of invention, and of course the entire “FICTION” portion of this Fantasy book…but there was just so much. It was too much, too convenient, too easy.

I also felt, while I loved the characters individually, they didn’t fit together very well. I didn’t feel any real connection between them. We have (KIND OF) two love triangles going on in this book (which I also think is too much), but I could care less who ends up with whom. I have no opinion. I felt no heat, no real attraction. Some kind of connection was missing. The perfect place for some heat between characters would have been the tattoo scene. What about a light touch of his hand caressing her back. His breath on her neck raising goose bumps. It was like the perfect set-up – and when the scene was over I wanted to scream: “YOU MISSED IT!!!! Opportunity over.” It felt like there was so much time spent on including the “new” technology and machines, and on describing what the characters were wearing, that we missed out on some other important parts of what makes a really good book. I think finding a harmony here is what is needed. It was neat; the way they dressed, that they had special abilities, they had cool, new technology – but you don’t need to stop and beat the point in with a stick. The book needs to flow into relationships and the story itself. Maybe I’m trying to say, it felt a little bit disjointed.

I sort of hinted at this a little bit above, but I felt like the story was also drawling off of a very popular Cassandra Clare series…one that involves strong, sarcastic teenagers; fighters with abilities, tattoos, and machines, set in the Victorian era?!? Unfortunately, the two books make an unfair comparison. If this is the aim for the Steampunk Series, then as I have been saying; step it up on some of the character interactions. We need to see some more jealousy and tension, if there are to be love triangles. Random acts of passion. (A nice backing up against the wall scene is always nice). More sarcasm, less gloating about our particular skills. Keep the outfits, just dedicate less time to each of their descriptions.

Coming in 2012:  The Girl in the Clockwork Collar

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Wedding Season – Katie Fforde

Wedding SeasonWedding Season by Katie Fforde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

GENRE: Adult – Romance or ChickLit
FORM: Book (Library)

SYNOPSIS: Sarah is a wedding planner who does not believe in marriage. After catching her first love in bed with another women, and the fact that more often than not, the marriage ends up splitting, she figures she’s better off single. That does not stop her from throwing everything’s she’s got into the wedding that she’s planning. This becomes more obvious as she agrees to organize her younger sister’s wedding, and get’s her first big name client on the same day. What’s worse is, both of their weddings are rushed and are happening on the same day as well, in two months time. It’s a good thing she enlists her best crew, and fast growing friends; Bron, the hair and make-up artist, and Else, a dress maker, and then there’s Hugo, the fabulous and charming photographer.

REVIEW: Wedding Season is a great, happy, summer read. What’s better than a romance novel about weddings, anyway? All of the characters were fun and likeable. Even though the story was extremely predictable, it was fun to watch as each of the girls unfolded as people and grew into their new relationships and lives.

WHAT I LOVED: I really just loved the story in general. Like I said, it was just a fun, light read. Nothing heavy or hard to deal with. No surprises or anything of that sort. Just a lovely romance with a triple dose happily ever after.

NOT SO MUCH: I sort of felt like the book took a long time to get to any action. Especially for Sarah and Hugo. I was hoping on another steamy moment or two before Sarah snapped into place and got her head straight on her shoulders. Instead she just did a lot of thinking and trying not to think about Hugo. It kind of had me thinking, “just go GET him already!”

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Book Review: Entwined – Heather Dixon


Title: Entwined
Author: Heather Dixon
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy

Synopsis: Azalea and her 11 sisters are princesses in what was once a very magic castle, but is now mostly not magical, with a very few exceptions, and has been running low on finances as well. They have just lost their mother, and their father is no longer acting as though he belongs to the family, leaving Azalea to take care of her 11 sisters. As if that wasn’t enough, the next blow comes when they realize that as the royal family they were all going to be required to participate in a year of mourning, which means no sunlight, no working clocks, black dresses, and NO DANCING. As dancing is their one and only escape, the thing that keeps them centered and acts as an outlet for their emotions, this last part is the hardest of all. After breaking the rules several times and getting caught, Azalea discovers a secret and passage in their room that leads down to a magical forest and pavilion under the castle. It is there that they meet Keeper, who is trapped there as the keeper of the pavilion, and who gives them permission and even encourages them to come back and dance every single night. What Azalea doesn’t realize is that Keepers generosity is not without its costs.

Review: First of all, I added this book to my “to be read” list for one reason – when I read the description on Goodreads, and found out the main girl’s name was Azalea, I HAD to read it. (My daughter’s name is Azalyah, pronounced the same). It was so fun to listen to the book and hear her name over and over, and I hope to one day let her listen to it as well, as I’m sure she will get a kick out of it too. It’s not the most common of names (however beautiful it is). So that being said, I had NO IDEA I was reading a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. In fact, the book was almost done, and Keeper was doing a little reprise version of the story before I actually figured it out. It was them forehead-slap moments for me. I should have seen it from the beginning. Anyhow, since I’ve never watched a movie or read a book in the past based on this story, I cannot compare other versions with how I felt about the book – so there will be no Barbie Princess comparison here…(I’m sure you all are sighing in relief, right?)

So this book was so beautifully written, and read (props to the narrator). The accent the book was read in was slightly British, which made me think of a Victorian setting. I’m not sure if that was the intention or not, but it worked well. There were moments when I couldn’t help but make associations back to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast , what with the Teapot and sugar tongs with the bad attitude and all. I am incredibly impressed with Heather Dixion’s ability to have so many girls, and so many different personalities, and for those personalities to remain consistent throughout the book. Of course, a few of the sisters were young enough to not really have much of a part of the book, so it wasn’t exactly 12, but it was enough! I wish I could sit here and name them all – but having listened to the book, not read it – all I’ve got for you is Azalea, Bramble, and Clover, then I’m stuck. I’m pretty positive the baby was Lily.

This book was a tiny bit bi-polar on whether it was going to be a nice princess-y type book, or whether it was going to be dark and gothic. This is not necessarily bad. The thing is Azalea and her sisters were not dark nor gothic at all. They wanted a bright happy life filled with dancing and..well I was going to say men, but I really think they might have been happy with just the dancing. If the world was as it should have been for these sisters, they would have been outside every day in the sunshine, with rainbows and butterflies, dancing the day away. However, the girls did know and understand their responsibilities as princesses, and they did take those responsibilities about as seriously as they were capable to for their ages. And since their world was not as it should have been, they were trapped in darkness and did with it what they could. However, I will say, that the darkest and most gothic parts of the book came when Keeper started revealing his true self to Azalea. He was the perfect mix of “the bad guy you love, “ and “the bad guy you love to hate.” He sort of had a Phantom of the Opera thing going on there, what with living beneath the castle, and being undeniably attractive and all. But when his story started to unravel, I went from thinking that this book would be great for thirteen year olds,, maybe 15 or 16 will be more appropriate, as it had a sort of creepy, nightmare factor going on there at the end.

I think one part that sort of threw me for a loop was their general not much reaction to losing their mother. She was sick for a long time, and Azalea had already been established as the caregiver, but it seems like there would have been more of a reaction. I mean, these are girls, and I don’t care what you say, girls are emotional from the day they are born. I know that dancing was their way of coping, but it doesn’t seem completely believable. I was thankful that the girls were forced to reconcile with their father, and address the fact that he just lost his wife, the love of his life; he actually was in mourning.

What I Loved: The Entwine dance. Now that was sexy!  Oh, and isn’t that a beautiful cover???

Not So Much: That Azalea did not dance the Entwine with HER love (yes she has a love, as do Bramble and Clover – I failed to mention above, because those stories seemed so bi-product to the rest of the book). But, with a dance where your partner wraps you up and you are bound to him – this had some very potential electrifyingly hot material – but this book wasn’t really sensual, and I guess it wouldn’t have been appropriate.

Song Dedication: I don’t think I have one. Clare de Lune? It would have to be music only, no words, whatever it is.

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