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

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1)

By Mary E. Pearson

SummaryA 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.

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Source: I purchased a Kindle copy


I really enjoyed The Kiss of Deception. It was recommended to me in the Owlcrate Society Facebook group, but I had my doubts because I didn’t quite enjoy The Winner’s Trilogy nearly as much as everyone else in the universe seemed to and that was also recommended at the same time. But I wanted a good YA fantasy that wasn’t Sarah J. Maas because I know she’s not the only great author. I wanted something I could kind of fall into that didn’t make my eyes roll. I wanted a heroine who wasn’t this whiny teenager who had the fate of the world in her hands. I’m so sick of that. 

I admit, once I read the beginning and the character went all woe-is-me and ran away from an arranged marriage on like page one, I put the book down and read some other books. It wasn’t looking to good on the whole quest to find a main character who wasn’t a whiny teenager. But I finally decided I could deal and picked it up again. I’m glad I did because it was really good.

The world building is kind of slow. I like how the author just sort of stuck me in the story and slowly began to explain the regions and the religions and what the main character was really running from. Although Lia is important to the fate of the world somehow, it’s not really clearly how or why just yet, so I’m happy with the direction of the story. I felt like I needed a story where the main character was someone I could respect and her decision to just be a normal person in a small town was exactly what I needed. She wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and be a regular person. She didn’t mourn the loss of her station, her power, her money, or anything like that and wasn’t any sort of whiny princess. Still, she was a bit misguided about her thoughts on the whole arranged marriage thing, but she kind of realized how immature it was to just run away from her problems and I liked that. Lia felt like someone realistic and I really liked her character.

The story was mostly from Lia’s point of view, but there were two other POVs as well. The prince, the one Lia ran away from, searched for her. Mostly out of curiosity. It seemed perhaps they’d have a lot in common about the idea of arranged marriages. His POV was simply labelled The Prince. Another POV was from The Assassin. He was sent to kill Lia. It’s what he was trained to do. 

The cool thing about the other POVs was that there were also chapters from the POV of Kaden and Rafe, two men who came to the town Lia stayed in. It was clear that one of them was the prince and the other was the assassin. Some POV chapters were from their POV. Anything that was specific to the thoughts of the prince or the assassin was separated from their named chapters, so we really didn’t know who was who. It seemed like it could possibly venture into love triangle territory, but it wasn’t annoying like she was trying to gain both of their affections or anything. Lia knew something was up with both of them, but she started to kind of connect with Rafe. I think she liked the way they viewed her because it was the first time anyone had ever truly looked at Lia and saw her and not the princess. 

All my thoughts about who was who ended up being way off, but I enjoyed not knowing who was who. And I’m glad that we did finally discover who Rafe and Kaden were. It was like the author knew just how long to drag that on for before moving the plot forward. 

I really enjoyed the story and I’m eager to see what will happen next. I’m next in line on the wait list for book two at the library and I’ve been on it for like a week now, so I’m at the point where I have no idea if I will break down and buy it or just be patient. 

I definitely recommend The Kiss of Deception!

Star 4


Review – The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes


The Shining Girls

By Lauren Beukes

SummaryThe Girl Who Wouldn’t Die Hunts the Killer Who Shouldn’t Exist

The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless. It has a terrible fury all its own.

Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.

Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times. 

At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He’s the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives.

Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth . . . 

The Shining Girls is a masterful twist on the serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing heroine in pursuit of a deadly criminal.

Source: I purchased a hardcover.

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 The Shining Girls was a strange mixture of crime thriller and time travel. Harper, a killer, found a house that led him to other periods of time in the same city of Chicago. He was urged by himself and the house to search for the shining girls and snuff them out. Kirby, one of his victims, survived her attack, grew up, and worked as an intern for a newspaper. She had an obsession with piecing together her case and figuring out who attacked her. 

Part of me feels like the book was lacking and it left me feeling strangely empty despite being long enough to have given me more than I felt it gave me. Another part of me feels like the book was perfect and very well done. It was strange, mysterious, quirky, and thought provoking. The shining girls seemed to be random girls that somehow sparked an interest in Harper, but they were kind of linked in that each of them were ahead of their times, important to a cause, passionate about something, and truly shined as women in fields that did not necessarily invite women. But it’s not a super obvious connection, nor is the book focused on that aspect.

Kirby was a quirky and likable heroine with a strange fashion sense and a dark sense of humor. I enjoyed watching her banter with Dan, the sports writer she interned under at the newspaper. She didn’t let her circumstances turn her into a broken version of herself, so she threw out spots of humor in subjects others wanted to tip toe around. She didn’t want to be a statistic, nor did she want to see pity in the eyes of everyone around her.

Harper was an interesting character and I liked watching him go through the different time periods and find his victims, though I don’t feel like I got into his head enough to figure out what truly motivated him. Despite getting his parts, I don’t feel like the novel ventured into who he was as a person, which would’ve been interesting. 

The Shining Girls would make a fantastic movie. I would aboslutely love to see the concept on screen because I think the jumps through time would be a lot neater if we could see it all unfold instead of having to keep track of the headers to discover what POV and what time period it was.

I would also recommend it for a book club book, though not for the faint of heart as it was a tad violent and dark. But the fact that the women were all ahead of their time and the way the House targeted and allowed entry with a “ticket” are all interesting points that could definitely be explored further if readers have the opportunity to discuss all of that. It was definitely thought provoking and strangely haunting. The end left me unsatisfied, but I wonder now if that wasn’t the whole point. I think I read another book of hers that left me feeling the same way at the end, so I think maybe that’s the goal. 

Star 3

Review – The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith


The Geography of You and Me

By Jennifer E. Smith

SummaryLucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and—finally—a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

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Source: I purchased a paperback.


I really enjoyed the author’s other book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, so I figured I’d pick up another promising contemporary romance from her. 

If I’m being perfectly honest, I feel like this book was kind of a waste of time. I loved the beginning and how Lucy and Owen met and explored New York during the black out. It was one of those chance moments. But I expected the book to spend more time on their evening in New York, so I was surprised it was over within just a few pages. So then after I realized both characters were going in separate directions, I thought we’d have this awesome postcard long distance relationship. 

But the book didn’t contain a long distance relationship or even a meaningful sort of correspondence. 

I mean, I suppose the way it ended worked out and the idea that they sent postcards to each other was cute, but it just fell really flat and seemed so anticlimactic. I don’t feel like i really knew the characters or even rooted for them as a couple. I just feel like I wasted my time. Maybe I’m just grumpy but that was not at all what I expected from or wanted from the story. It lacked any sort of depth.

I think it’s best to skip this one.

Star 2

Review – Daughter of the Pirate King (DotPK #1) by Tricia Levenseller


Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1)

By Tricia Levenseller

SummaryThere will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King. 

Source: I received a hardcover in the March 2017 Owlcrate box.


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I’ve been kind of in this weird slump lately where I just can’t seem to get into a book. Nothing is hooking me right away. I even reread the Shatter Me series to help get me out of it. Although I enjoyed the last few books I’ve read, I’m not really as into them as I should be. I was in the mood for a snarky and enjoyable heroine who doesn’t let her circumstances get the best of her. Although I finished The Winner’s Trilogy recently and Kestrel kind of fit the description, her actions led to the biggest miscommunication issue and she was always at war with herself which was not what I needed. Someone in the Owlcrate group recommended I begin March’s Owlcrate book and I’m so glad I did!

Alosa was exactly what I needed. I was hooked from the very first page. I loved her confidence and the way she carried herself. She was great at figuring out exactly who she needed to be in any given situation to carry out her plan, but not nearly as harsh as characters like Celaena in Throne of Glass. She was likable and strangely sweet, even though we all know she had this crazy plan up her sleeve. Alosa was “kidnapped” in a big ruse, held captive aboard a ship she had plans to search. Her main goal was to find a map. She did everything she was supposed to, but she was knocked a bit off balance by the ship’s first mate, Riden. But it’s not a romance. Mostly they just had this back and forth banter that they both enjoyed, but they weren’t singing sweet nothings in each other’s ears for the whole novel, which was perfect. 

I absolutely loved Daughter of the Pirate King. It was fun, it had me on the edge of my seat, and it was just pirate-themed enough to be enjoyable, but it wasn’t over the top. I loved Alosa’s character, her push and pull kind of relationship with Riden, and I loved seeing her work through situations to try to come out on top. I didn’t really know what would happen, but I loved the way the story progressed. 

I definitely recommend the book, especially if you’re in the same mood as I was, looking for a heroine you can root for who isn’t overly emotional, but not unlikable. It was the perfect book for me and I feel like it pulled me back into enjoying a book from page one. 

Star 4

Review – The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3)

By Marie Rutkowski

SummarySome kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.
As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win? 

Source: I borrowed a kindle copy from the library.

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The Winner’s Kiss was probably my favorite book in the trilogy. I felt like I finally got to know the characters and appreciate their strengths and weaknesses. Kestrel’s memory loss made her unable to plot and scheme for the good of everyone. Instead, she focused on helping Arin and figuring out who she was and what she stood for. It was so much more satisfying to see.

I like Kestrel and Arin and I don’t just feel like they were drawn together to create a plot, but it took all of this time for me to really see that. I wanted this sort of togetherness and insight in the beginning. I even felt like I knew more about who they were as individuals and how they were to their friends. I never got any of that from book 1 or 2 and maybe that was my issue with both of them. I’m glad I stuck with the trilogy because it was ultimately really good as one big piece. I feel like the first two books could’ve been longer with more plot and character development overall, but at least book three tied it all together. 

I think I understand why so many people recommend the trilogy. Now that I’m done, even though I didn’t have many great things to say in the beginning, the finale made up for it all. I definitely recommend The Winner’s Trilogy. It’s heart wrenching. The last book truly moved me and I felt the characters and their motivations more than ever. I knew them in my bones and I felt their suffering and the weight of their decisions.

This book is definitely not one to miss. If you’re struggling through the trilogy, just keep reading. It’s well worth the effort. 

Star 5

Review – The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski


The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2)

By Marie Rutkowski

SummaryBook two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement… if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.
As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from the library

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Everyone raved about this trilogy and I enjoyed book one, but I wasn’t completely sold on this story just yet. The Winner’s Crime was almost like a totally different story as Kestrel was set to marry the emperor’s son and she attempted to stay in her place, ensure Arin was able to keep Herran as the independent territory, and spy for Herran. 

Here’s the thing. I like the plot, I like the idea of this whole game being played and Kestrel trying to balance both sides as a strategist. But I still just feel like something is missing, things are kind of glossed over, and it’s just way too easy for Kestrel to succeed. And when she doesn’t or other people don’t, people die, and it still doesn’t even feel like it’s dangerous. I don’t know. I’m just missing a crucial piece here and I can’t seem to really care about the characters because I don’t really know them. I just felt like I was watching a show that everyone else has been watching for seasons and I just don’t know who any of these characters are supposed to be. 

It seems like I’m in the minority for not liking this book. I needed the story to not switch gears so much and start doing some more character development. The walking-on-eggshells in the court to stay under the emperors radar would have been so much more satisfying if I was more involved with who the characters were. The fact that the events in the first book happened so quickly just made me skeptical about everything involving the political plot. 

Honestly, I think maybe it’s me. For some reason, I’m not connecting the way I feel like I should’ve and I’m not quite certain why it fell so flat for me. 

Star 3

Review – The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy) by Marie Rutkoski


The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) 

By Marie Rutkoski

SummaryWinning what you want may cost you everything you love 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy.

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The Winner’s Curse has been on my TBR for awhile. I vaguely remember the hype when it came out and then, more recently, the hype when the finale released. I am glad I waited to read it because I didn’t have any expectations at this point and just wanted an entertaining story to engage me and not feel like work to trudge through. The Winner’s Curse was exactly what I needed and I enjoyed it.

Kestrel was a likable character because she was different. She was not a rule follower and the fact that her father was a general allowed her a little more freedom to be more of herself. She played instruments and went around without an escort despite the society frowning upon it. She had great instincts and was good at strategizing, even giving her father tips when she felt so inclined. She ended up purchasing a slave at an auction without really understanding why. She wasn’t the type to take advantage of her station and participate in the slave trade, but she couldn’t help herself. 

It could’ve been a love story and I suppose in some ways it was, but not in the way I expected. It was like she noticed the slave’s defiance and craved that as someone who also considered herself defiant. She wanted someone who understood her, I think. And he did, but he had some motives of his own. I feel like they had a mutual respect that neither one wanted to acknowledge too much and I don’t know if it’s really love so much as respect and attraction, but I’m intrigued to see where the story will go after the events that took place in this first book. I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, but I was glad that it wasn’t centered completely on Kestrel and her feelings for a slave and dealt with outside plots and forces, too. 

I don’t think the book is without flaws, though. The romance, if you can call it that, seemed a bit rushed, but maybe that’s because I don’t really think they love each other and I think they have a respect and wariness about the other that creates a sort of push and pull. It was good tension, but I’m not completely sold on the relationship. I also think it rushed what takes years or even decades to happen in societies. I don’t want to give too many details away, but the events, while plausible, would not happen overnight and literally do in the book. That’s not how revolutions or wars work in short spans of time, though the things that happen would totally happen over a longer length of time. I don’t understand why the events are so rushed, but it kind if makes the whole book seem a lot less plausible as a whole. I have to believe there’s a reason for the rushed events because the author has some places she needs to put the characters in order to formulate her grand story, so since it’s the first book, I’ll cut it some slack and continue reading. 

I am concerned about a triangle, though, but I haven’t read the synopsis of book two, so I might be way off.

Overall, the book was entertaining and I finished it quickly, so it did exactly what I needed it to do. I’m back on my reading wagon where I don’t spend days on the same paragraph of whatever book I’m trying to finish, and that’s what I needed. I recommend the book, but only as long as you’re not expecting it to be the next earth shattering YA novel. It’s.. it’s just not quite there yet.

Star 4