Monday, February 8, 2016

Review: The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson

Published: July 8th 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
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.
- Goodreads

This book seems to evoke both ends of the emotional spectrum for most, and starting this book, I was a little hesitant on whether I would fall into the negative side, considering how Pearson's earlier books were not quite my type of read. But fear not, this book caught me hook line and sinker, with the kind of intensity I was not expecting. It's a slow read, like a flower unfurling its petals, and at a point I can't particularly pinpoint, I was fully immersed in the characters and their unwinding fates.
If I could only reach out and touch the stars, I would know everything. I would understand.
As someone who feels particularly negative towards romantic polygons, I was wary of the hint of the two decidedly male characters who appeared in the synopsis, all but declaring that there would be a love triangle. Fortunately, the suspense of the mystery behind the identities of both males made the first part less odious than expected. Call me morbid but having an assassin around more often than not sparks up some interesting dynamics in the character relationships, especially in conjunction with a prince. I spent a good deal of the book anticipating and speculating over which of the characters was which, and I'm happy to say that I was rather taken by surprise and the two males are quite difficult to pinpoint, with clever character development and intriguing appearances all the more better to disguise their true intentions.
"Some things last."I faced him. "Really? And just what would that be?""The things that matter."
But of course who is a commendable love interest without a worthy partner? Lia, our heroine is a brave-hearted girl, despite her slightly wishful tendencies, and at heart she is true and fierce, making her a worthy candidate for her illustrious title. She had my sympathy from the start with her political bindings, and while she may seem rather too winning in her new-found role after running away, there is a strength in her that brought out admiration and love. Even with the introduction of potential romance between some of the characters, she never seems flighty, and her earnest belief in the power of love touched my heart. Towards the end, we see Lia tap into her inner strength, and I am excited to read the sequel in hopes of seeing more of that aspect shown.
"And if one can't be trusted in love," I added, "one can't be trusted in anything."
Of course I have a favorite character, and in hopes of keeping the surprise of his identity intact I will not mention names, but the assassin has slowly crept into my heart, which is not surprising, with my tendency to develop a soft spot for morally unsound souls and their various shades of gray. As for the prince, he is equally handsome and charming, it is almost unfair how these two must be put in the same book for readers and Lia to favor one over the other. Loyalty and love, both emotions run deep into this book and propels the trio towards a rather compelling finale, with dangerous stakes teetering on each side.
Maybe there was no way to define it. Maybe there were as many shades of love as the blues of the sky.
There is also the fantasy of the magic that whispers and echoes through the book, which was not explored too much due to reasons, but has laid out a solid groundwork for the sequel to build upon and introduced roots of history that revolve around Lia. Speaking of history, the cultures within the different regions in the book are developed carefully and reflect the dangerous power dynamic fraught with tensions well, reminding me of some of my favorite fantasy books.

The writing while leisurely paced, did not mince with the blades of tension and danger, thrilling the inner fantasy lover in me. While it is written in first person, which usually deters me in fantasy I enjoyed reading this book once I became accustomed to its stride and speed.

This book sharply veers into much more dangerous territory towards the latter third, and I am quite pleased with the implications of these actions. The less you know the better, but as always, power and deception are quite the pair, with aftereffects that are catastrophic beyond repair. It is a relief to know the sequel is within grasp and I cannot wait to return to the world of the Remnant Chronicles.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Suspended in January: A Lazy Yet Hectic Start

I am well aware my title is contradictory at best, although it aptly describes myself in this first month. In some aspects, the new year did a fine job of spurring my inner ambitions, while in others I just barely pulled myself into gear.

San Fran trip + Viet food 
I led a rather shameful existence where I did not interact with anyone but my family for the period of my break, save for a lunch date with a dear friend, which alludes to how much of a bum I was during those few weeks. I stuffed myself full of my beloved Japanese food and shopped winter essentials before flying back to school. I signed up for a more ambitious course load this semester, which provides a welcome jolt of drive, as did the sharp cold that comes with below freezing temperatures. It snowed quite a lot, and I got to wear my adorable snow boots, as well as feel more authentic about being in winter. Trekking through snow just gives me quite a thrill I'd never quite experienced when I was younger due to the perpetually warm climate I was used to, and while I'm sure the novelty will wear off at some point, for now, I am a bundle of bright winter cheer.

Reading wise, I had a rather ambitious start. Of course I set my yearly reading goal on Goodreads to a optimistic 150 books, which seems to have spurred a rather impressive jump start with which I have read books this past month. By pure statistics, I think I read around 20 books, which I'd like to be proud of, although does it truly count if I spent half the month lazing around and being a general sloth, from sleeping in to effectively making my breakfast a brunch, just from the time slot I ate at in the mornings. I destroyed my sleep schedule very often through a determination to finish books in one sitting, either from sheer brilliance on the author's part or through my admittedly vulnerable heart which seems to attach itself readily to all variations of characterization.

more food + snow

Listing every book I read would be impossible indeed I would exhaust you, but grouped by genre I can briefly skim through the list. I started the year with my not-so-secret adoration of contemporary romance books, there just seems to be something about that genre that draws me in whether it be witty and smart banter to chemistry distinct from those of teenagers. My dear friend Lisa was very adept in directing me in the right direction, and I must say the highlight was Laura Florand who is absolutely phenomenal with her characters and each of her books is quite magical, I'm so utterly impressed by how intricate her relationships are. I finally finished Six of Crows, which if you can believe, I started on my plane ride home last month, yet never attempted to finish, a failing on my part since I adore this book now. I was not very taken with her original Grisha trilogy, but Bardugo has pulled a heist of my love indeed, I could gush eons about this book. I also read The Fixer, which I admit did not quite blow me away as I wanted. Switching genres, I read a lone regency in January, The Rogue Not Taken, which was just as wonderful as I expected, a channel for my occasional cravings of rogues and rakes, ladies with utterly clever banter, and ridiculously swoony scenes. Inferno, a highly awaited sequel for me, exceeded my expectations despite my misgivings about the precedent, and has me eager to continue this trilogy. Aptly described as The Godfather meets Romeo and Juliet, it's worth the frustration of the first one to get to this gem of a book. To round out the month, I finally ventured into the prestigious Winner's Trilogy, the first which lured me in slowly and the second which destroyed me with its jagged edges. Needless to say, besides my emotional investment in this trilogy, I am also firmly in awe of political tangles and the web of plot angles that Rutkoski has created.

I'm still struggling to find time outside of the chunks of reading time to construct blog posts, but I saw a post floating on the internet saying January is a trial month, February is where the real year begins, or something along those lines, so I have decided to take this to heart. January was a slow rise from the proverbial dead, which I dub my inner force, and now that the wake-up call of a new semester has kicked in, what with all the productive time slots I have available.