The Heart of Betrayal

*** (3 out of 5)

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

The Remnant Chronicles Book 2

Betrayal

This is the sequel to The Kiss of Deception.

Urg I wanted to love this book, I really did, but it just didn’t do it for me.  It felt drawn out and got a bit tiring.  I got completely sucked in the first book, but it took me a while to get into this one.  It had sooo much potential yet it was just sort of flat.

I still love Lia.  She is amazingly strong despite all the bad things happening to her.  She does what she needs to survive.  She is resourceful and clever and everything a strong female character should be.  However, I am a little tired of the love triangle (or is it a love square? its kind of blurry where that one is headed)  I realize she needs to play certain games to survive, but does she really have to fall in love with them all?  Just because someone has a troubled past doesn’t excuse their current actions, even if their intent is sincere.

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I could have done with less interactions between Lia and the Komizar.  Or at least it would have been nice if the interactions had more variety.  They were very redundant.

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And what was his deal with obsessing over her hair and clothes?!? Oooooh maybe he is gay and in love with Kaden.  Haha that would be a cool twist.

I would have liked to know more about Rafe and his time as “emissary.”  For the most part you only see him when he is with Lia and that is not very often.  It would have been nice to learn more about who he is and what he thinks.  We did get a lot of insight into Kaden.

I also would have liked to know more about Pauline and her story.  There are only a handful of chapters where you see what she is doing.  I know that her actions will most likely come into play more in the next book, but it would have alleviated some of the monotony of Lia’s story, to see more of Pauline’s.

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This book is better than the first in the aspect that it actually has a conclusion of sorts.  It is still a huge cliffhanger but something big actually happens at the end of the book.  It was a slight improvement, but not enough to overcome all of its other shortcomings.

I am still very much invested in the story and am excited to start the third and final book.  Hopefully it isn’t slow (because there is a LOT that needs to happen).

The Kiss of Deception

**** (4 out of 5)

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Kiss of Deception

NOOOOOO

One of my biggest pet peeves is when an author draws out a story into too many books.  I like when each book in a series has its own story-line that gets resolved at the end of book.  Then all the smaller stories lend to the bigger story.  There are some cliffhangers, but the plot itself is not left half finished.  Does that make sense? Think about Harry Potter.  In The Sorcerer’s Stone Harry recovers the stone.  In The Chamber of Secrets Harry kills the basilisk and saves Ginny.  In The Goblet of Fire the tournament is concluded.  Each book is its own story inside of the bigger picture.

Reading The Kiss of Deception I got completely sucked in.  I couldn’t put it down! But towards the end of the book, I started to get the feeling that there wasn’t enough pages left for everything that needed to happen.

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And I was right.  The story didn’t resolve anything.  It felt like the author wrote one really long story and just needed a dramatic place to make the cut between book one and book two.

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But it was still a really good book, and I am dying to find out what happens next.  So after finishing book one I had a mad dash to get the next book.  Of course I finished it at like 1 am so there weren’t a whole lot of options.  (I didn’t want the kindle edition because I got the first one in paperback and I like to read all the books in a series in the same format).  The day after I finished it, I went to Barnes and Noble during my lunch break, but they only had book three. The customer service guy helpfully offered to order it.  It would only take a week or two to come in.  Hells No! I can’t wait that long.  I politely declined and went back to work to order it on Amazon.  With Prime I got free two day shipping so it should arrive today.  In the meantime I am stuck with nothing to read because I don’t want to start a new book in the middle of reading a different series.  I did end up buying the third book from Barnes and Noble so that I won’t have to go through this again.

The only thing that kept me from giving The Kiss of Deception 5 stars was the sudden ending with no conclusion.  Other than that I loved the book.  It is fast paced with plenty of action.  Lots of plot twists and turns. Its amazing.

This book was also a first for me, in that I didn’t know who was who.  I don’t get a lot of firsts anymore so it was really cool and creative.  Most of the chapters are from the point of view of Lia, the runaway princess.  She meets two characters named Kaden and Rafe.  As the reader you know one is a prince and one is an assassin, but you don’t know which is which.  Every once in a while you get a chapter from Kaden or Rafe’s point of view, and other times you get a chapter from the prince’s or the assassin’s point of view.  The Kaden/Rafe chapters are about the characters interactions with Lia, and the prince/assassin chapters are about the characters internal thoughts, and interactions away from Lia.  The reader is left guessing who is who.  I kept flipping back and fourth trying to decide who I thought was which person.

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It was a super fun, unique way to experience the story.  About halfway through the book you do find out who is who.  (The reader finds out when Lia finds out)  After that all the chapters are Lia or Kaden/Rafe.  Pearson did a wonderful job keeping all the interactions/thoughts just vague enough that she didn’t give anything away until the big reveal.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult fantasy.  It is a really great read.  Just be prepared and have the second book ready when you finish!

 

Tattoo Update

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I love my tattoo so far! Its about half done. There are still some parts of the ship that need to be done and then the background.

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Apparently I am a big wuss when it comes to pain (I already knew that but this just reinforces that fact) I had a friend that sat for a 4 hour tattoo, but after 2 hours my leg was twitching so bad. Even if I wanted to continue, the artist wouldn’t let me because he didn’t want a twitch to mess it up.  It hurt so bad.  And your calf is supposed to be one of those places that doesn’t hurt as much.  I have an appointment on 8/23 to get the second half done.

If you have any cool book related tattoos, or just cool tattoos in general, I would love to see them!

National Book Lover’s Day

Today is National Book Lover’s Day!

The only reason I know that is because I got an email from Barnes and Noble.  (BTW they are having a sale through 9/4 where a bunch of classics are only $5)

Completely coincidental to what day it is, I am getting a tattoo today!!! And my tattoo just happens to be book related.

I absolutely love this poem by Emily Dickinson:
There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –

In general I don’t like poetry.  Mostly because I don’t understand it.  But I LOVE this poem.  I memorized it in High School and still know it by heart.

For my tattoo idea I took the first two lines:

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away

I thought it would be super cool to have a ship with books for sails.  So after years of playing with the idea I finally pulled the plug and went and met with a tattoo artist.  This is what we came up with:

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So I have my first session today and I am super excited but also super nervous.  It is actually helping my nerves that it is National Book Lover’s day.  I don’t care how silly it is, I have decided to take this as a positive sign!

If all goes well I will post pictures tonight or tomorrow of the beginnings of my tattoo.  The artist thinks it will take 2 sessions, so it won’t be complete, but hopefully it will still be awesome!

Midnight in Austenland

*** (3 of 5)

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

midnight in austenland

Midnight in Austenland is the sequel to Austenland.  I really really liked Austenland, buuuut unfortunately Midnight in Austenland didn’t live up to its namesake (Lets see how many times I can say “Austenland” before it gets old).

I was so excited to read this book.  Maybe that was part of the problem.  My expectations were too high going in?  Maybe if I hadn’t have been so excited I would have liked it better? Probably not.

The plot of Midnight in Austenland was a mix between suspense and romance.  It was a far stretch from the original Austenland, which was straight up romance. (Not steamy romance, but like a love story romance)

Time for a tangent …. I am a huge chicken when it comes to scary or suspenseful books.  And I refuse to watch scary movies.  Even scary commercials are too much for me.  One time at the movie theater they showed a commercial for one of those creepy doll movies (Annabelle maybe?) and my heart rate literally spiked.  I had a fitbit that kept track of my heart rate.  It thought I was exercising.  Thats how bad it was. And it was only a commercial.  My body physically reacts to being scared and I don’t like it. (Maybe everyone’s does? I don’t know, but personally its too much for me) I couldn’t imagine what my heart would do if I had to sit through a full movie.  Last time I went through a haunted house I had a panic attack and my mom had to take me out the way we came. (I was 12 ish) Another time on a school overnight retreat the upperclassmen made a “haunted house” and all the underclassmen “got” to go through it.  Everyone else had a ton of fun,  it definitely was meant to be fun, not mean, but I hated it.  Just thinking back I can feel my heart start to race. So, yea, I don’t do scary

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Back to the review … While Austenland was loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, Midnight in Austenland tends toward Northanger Abbey.  The heroine has a very active imagination and she is thrust into a world that is not as it seems.  Her stay at Austenland is themed by a mystery. (think murder-mystery dinner but 2 weeks long and you are solving a really old mystery)  As she is searching for clues she finds more than whats intended and she can’t tell the game from real life.

At one point they play a game in the dark where one person is the “murderer” and everyone tries to find them.  The heroine is obviously flustered and unsure but everyone else presses her to play anyway.  This hit a little to close to home.  When I read I often get lost in the story and connect with the heroine, so them forcing her to play made me uncomfortable and brought back memories of makeshift haunted houses.  I did not like it at all.

So my biggest issue with the book was the plot.  I am sure there are tons of people who love the suspenseful plotline, but it ruined the story for me.

You may be asking “If she hated it so much why did she give it 3 stars?”

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Well I am glad you asked!

I didn’t actually hate it.  It just wasn’t my cup of tea.  I can tell that it is a good book, and that most people who enjoyed the first book would probably like it.  And there were parts I liked.  I liked the heroine, Charlotte.  I liked how she was introduced.  How she was described in the beginning.  It made her especially relatable.   I also liked how the story jumped back and fourth between present and past.  It made her so much more real, seeing how she handled different situations.  And it brought you there gradually.  Showing you what you needed to fully understand why she reacted the way she did.

So overall the book was just okay, if you like suspense and romance I would recommend it.  If you are like me and don’t like suspense then I would probably skip this one.

Austenland

***** (5 out of 5)

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Austenland

Do you ever imagine scenarios in your head while you are trying to fall asleep? Like if you are reading a really good book and you replace yourself with the main character?You go through all the scenarios in the book and then make up new stories using the same characters? No? Then this book probably isn’t for you.

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But if you are like me, and especially if your scenarios tend toward the romantic side, then this book is just what you have been looking for.  (I don’t have a good word to describe these “scenarios” I play in my head.  The closest thing I can come up with is daydreaming, but that isn’t quite right) In the book Jane gets to live out her “daydreams” in Austenland.  Don’t you wish you could actually experience the romances that play out inside your head?

Jane is a perfectly normal Thirty-three year old New Yorker with a Pride and Prejudice obsession.  While she loves the book it was the Colin Firth DVD that did her in.  Every boy she dated she compared to Mr. Darcy.  She took it to the point where it interfered with her relationships.

When Jane’s Great-Aunt Carolyn arranges a trip for her to Austenland, Jane hesitates but ultimately decides to go.  At Austenland she gives up all her 21st century gizmos and clothing and submerse herself into the 1800s (with the added luxury of indoor plumbing and electric kerosene lamps).  Austenland contains a mix of guests and actors.  No one is allowed to break character.  For 3 weeks she lives and breaths as if she actually lived in the 1800s.

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I can’t say much more without giving any spoilers, but once Jane enters Austenland, her life changes forever.  She struggles with remembering that everything is just an act and she learns a lot about herself in the process.

The book is amazingly witty and fun to read.  I got sucked in and couldn’t put it down.  I loved all the references to the different Jane Austen books.  They were obvious enough that I could pick up on them without having read the books in years, but they weren’t forced either.  They fit naturally into the story.

Speaking of things fitting naturally into the story.  I really liked how the author set up the story.  It is hard to put 21st century characters into a 1800s type setting.  I liked that everyone knew they were being “transported” in time.  That they were all in on it.  I hate books and movies where a person is unwillingly transported to another time or when two character switch bodies.  (Freaky Friday, Its a Boy/Girl thing, Big, 13 Going on 30, Kate and Leopold, etc.) That whole story line makes me cringe.  It probably has something to do with a deep-seated fear of not fitting in and making a fool out of myself, but lets not get into that.  It is almost physically painful for me to watch people trying to fit into those situations.  I don’t find them funny at all.

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I almost didn’t read this book because I was worried that it would follow that path.  It sound just different enough that I decided to give it a chance, mostly because living in Austenland seemed to fit so perfectly with my “daydreams.”  I had no intention of finishing the book if it went into cringe-worthy territory, but, to my immense relief, it didn’t.  It was amazingly written, and there was no cringing!

I would recommend this book to any Jane Austen lover who has ever fantasized about meeting her “Mr. Darcy” (or his “Mr. Darcy”, no judgement here)

There is a sequel to Austenland called “Midnight in Austenland”  It is definitely the next book on my reading list.  They also turned Austenland into a movie!  It didn’t get very good reviews, but I am going to watch it anyway.  Even if it is only half as good as the book I know I will enjoy it.

 

Used Book Stores!

Sad news! The used book store by my house is closing today.

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Good news! They had a going out of business sale

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So apparently I cannot be trusted in a going out of business book sale. I probably would have bought the whole store, but I only had $40 and, luckily, they only accepted cash. As it was, I picked out a ton of books and had to put a couple back, because I went “over budget.”

They had pretty good sale prices:

  • $1 Small/Mass Paperback and Kid’s Paperback
  • $2 Large/Trade Size Paperback
  • $3 Hardcover/Leather-bound and Kid’s Hardcover
  • $5 Audio-books

In case you are curious, here is what $40 of books looks like:

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And yes, I bought 4 copies of Pride and Prejudice and, yes, I bought all 3 versions of the Pride and Prejudice Spark Notes.  I collect Pride and Prejudice books with different covers, “So don’t judge me, Lizzie. Don’t you dare judge me.”

I am not the only one that went a little crazy.  My friends, Vince and Emily, bought a bunch of books too:

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When considering where to by a real book (not a kindle book), every type of book store has its good points and bad.  I have 4 main criteria when judging a book store:

  1. Cheap Books – Can I get them for cheaper than cover price?
  2. Huge Selection – Do they have the book I want? And if they don’t can they get it for me?
  3. Physical Books – Can I hold the book while deciding if I want it? (This is for decision making purposes … this is not a kindle vs real book debate, I will save that for another day)
  4. Quickness – Can I get my book today?
Barnes and Noble Amazon and Ebay Used Book Stores
Cheap Books
Large Selection
Physical Books
Quickness

So each type of store has its pros and cons.  If I know exactly what I want and don’t mind waiting then Amazon/Ebay is the way to go.  If I know exactly what I want and want it today then Barnes & Noble it is.  But if I don’t know what book I am looking for, then a used book store is the best.  And since most of the time I don’t know what I want to read, used book stores are my personal favorite.

The best used book ever store is Powell’s Books in Portland Oregon.  They are mind blowing!

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The store takes up an ENTIRE CITY BLOCK and is 3 stories high.  They are huge! According to their website they have an estimated one million books (read that in Dr. Evil’s voice from the second gif and it makes it so much better!) I have gotten lost in Powell’s more than once.  They have so many books that they separated the store into 9 different rooms, which are color coded for your convenience.

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Powell’s sells both new and used books, so they have everything you could ever want.  They are the best of both worlds.  For a lot of titles Powell’s has both new and used copies.  You can get a brand new copy for full price, you can get a super beat up copy for dirt cheap, or you could take the middle ground and get a gently used copy for a decent price.

Seriously, if you are ever in Portland you absolutely have to go see Powell’s.  Its freaking amazeballs.