"A children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last." --C.S. Lewis
Hello, friends! I already wrote about attending BEA here and here, if you're curious. Some of the books I am about to review I received from BEA. One I received prior to BEA. Of these five books, I will be giving away four (one is personalized...). I hope that the four winners will really enjoy these novels (PS - see yesterday's post for other books to anticipate + its giveaway). Please join me in getting excited for these novels!
The Kiss of Deception - Mary E. Pearson | Goodreads
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Published by: Henry Holt
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 assassin 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.
The beginning of this novel feels like a high fantasy made realistic for a modern audience. I have wondered at how many YA fantasies begin with an arranged marriage that the hero(ine) cannot protest or will not out of some unshakable sense of duty. To start The Kiss of Deception with Lia, out on her own, trying to claim her destiny and understand who she is outside of duty -- well, that makes it not only easy to identify with Lia but also, for modern readers, to cheer for her. Especially teens, I would imagine, because that action feels pretty realistic for a modern teen. Lia remains admirable in the coming days; a princess who finds joy in the simple pleasures and labors of life because they are ordinary and allow her to think on what she wants of her future; a princess who faces her adversaries despite her losses and stays strong in the face of threats from various regions of the world (think Grisha trilogy in terms of the world politics; interactions between the various countries do occur, but our main allegiance and focus will be with Lia and her country). Lia is a great heroine and the main reason why I continued to read on in this novel.
Another great thing about this novel is the potential. When I finished, I knew that I wanted to read the sequel. The Kiss of Deception is like a blend of historical fantasy and a quest-oriented fantasy, and sometimes feels like an introduction book but still maintains enough momentum, deception (there will be mind games here, folks), and world intrigue to keep the plot taught with tension. The romance (somewhat love triangle elements), Lia's questioning of her chosen path, and the themes reminded me of a historical-set Matched and the religious and world-building elements reminded me of The Girl of Fire and Thorns. By the end, there are a lot of big implications for coming action and struggles, and it's not often that I'll finish a novel and know with 100% certainty that I will want to read the sequel, but there you have it. Also, although the cover and the summary both hint at a love triangle, I would not consider the romance here to be one as Lia is clear in reserving her affections for one interest alone; however, the set-up does allow for the possibility of a triangle in future novels. So: great heroine, interesting world politics, a demonstration from the author that she's willing to take risks and throw in some different plot twists, sweet romance, and the promise of more action and raising stakes in future novels. What's not to like?
Hopefully, I will post a longer review closer to the review date. Stay tuned for more... otherwise get excited for another new imaginative fantasy series!
Black Ice - Becca Fitzpatrick | Goodreads
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late.
Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.
In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.
But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?
BLACK ICE is New York Times bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick’s riveting romantic thriller set against the treacherous backdrop of the mountains of Wyoming. Falling in love should never be this dangerous…
Fans of Becca Fitzpatrick will love her latest title. Fitzpatrick follows a similar style and structure to Hush, Hush: first Fitzpatrick has a prologue that gives a different slant to our villain and adds an undercurrent of tension throughout the novel -- who are these characters and how will we find out more about them later? And again that element of uncertainty related to the romance: who should Britt trust? Will the people she loves let her down? One thing I liked more about Black Ice than Hush, Hush was Britt's character arc. Over the course of the Hush, Hush series, Nora steps into her leadership role; in Black Ice, Britt learns how to fend for herself - more so than I'd say Nora did, at the very least in Hush, Hush. Britt realizes how she has let other people take care of her and her needs to the point of dependency and learns to reclaim herself. There's more ground for inner character conflict here: Britt is facing a treacherous landscape and wondering who to trust, while Nora's struggles were more penned in by the characters she met. Although I was able to guess who Britt should not trust, there was enough tension that I continued to flip the pages to confirm my suspicion and understand why it was correct. I was also thoroughly impressed with Fitzpatrick's research on the Teton Range and those dangerous weather conditions; she certainly made the danger feel very much real yet controlled with her plotting. Her writing, too, seemed more taut, the pace fast, focused and building steadily. If you were a fan of the Hush, Hush series, you'll be very pleased with Black Ice.
Landline - Rainbow Rowell | Goodreads
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.
Maybe that was always besides the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
I found Rowell's latest to be wonderful as always but also harder for me personally to relate to than her YA titles. As a single twenty-two-year-old who has not had a lengthy relationship, particularly one as involved as Georgie's marriage + kids, I found it harder to relate to Georgie and Neal as opposed to dialing back six years and remembering first love in Eleanor & Park or a couple of years back for college in Fangirl. I liked this better than I liked Attachments -- but my case is unusual and regardless of these comparisons, I'm still here to say that Rowell does a job well done in Landline. Though I might have found it hard to relate to Georgie's struggle, I still sympathized with her, her family, and the other characters. Georgie's struggle will find resonance with a lot of women trying to balance time with their families with time at their other job. The humor (Rowell and her quirky characters, as always) neatly balances the underlying conflict and the wonderful premise -- the ability to change relationships based on an ability to see into the past? That's resonant with all audiences, anyone who's ever felt regret and wondered what they would do differently if they were given another chance. Neal is an adorable love interest too. I like that Rowell has branched out in the romantic interests she's created, and how she's clearly made them to match her heroines; steady nerd Neal is exactly who dream-driven Georgie needs. Rowell's signature quirky characters and humor, in addition to her pitch-perfect execution of her magical realism elements, guarantee Landline's popularity with adult and YA readers alike. Are you excited?!
Heir of Fire - Sarah J. Maas | Goodreads
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Published by: Bloomsbury
Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.
While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?
Though I liked Heir of Fire less than I liked Crown of Midnight, HoF is still another solid title in the Throne of Glass series. Heir of Fire feels darker than Crown of Midnight; those of you who have read CoM know what happened to cause Celaena's deep depression (synopsis says it too!). As a result, we learn more about Celaena's past, things she would rather keep quiet but that quickly arise in her struggle between claiming her past and future and feeling like she's worthless in her present. She is very lost, and with the guidance of (and pushing from) other fantastic new characters, she will learn how to cope with her loss and how to understand the legacy she's ignored. This book is the turning point in her character arc, and it does a good job with that and hinting at what's to come for Celaena. Heir of Fire also explores the fate of other heirs with their added perspectives: Dorian's legacy and his struggle to keep his power secret; Chaol's promise to his father and his inner conflict between duty and his love for Celaena; Manon's leadership over the Blackbeak witches and her rise to power among their folds despite ethical questions; and more including Aedion Ashryver's (too spoilery to explain his arc). There are other great characters, who, if you follow Sarah's feeds on twitter or Pinterest, I'm sure you've heard of (Ronan, for one, seems to be getting a lot of attention). And you know, with Sarah's history in Throne of Glass, that she'll build up these characters and quickly get you to attach to them before... before things happen. Heh. Explosive things happen. Those were not just reserved forCrown of Midnight, folks.
Another great thing about Heir of Fire is that it's also the turning point in the series in terms of its deepening magical elements. I know some people complained about Throne of Glass having too much romance; this book has much less in favor for deepening the character struggles and our understanding of the magical balance in the world. Magic! We get to directly experience magic in a more positive light before dealing with some of its uglier consequences. Lots of creepy creatures and legends come to life in this novel, and Maas does an excellent job keeping the stakes high in terms of plot and character conflict. Though Heir of Fire is darker and more slowly paced than Crown of Midnight, it deserves no less praise.
A Little Something Different - Sandy Hall | Goodreads
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Published by: Swoon Reads
The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.
Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together....
I just want to cuddle with this book. While we were at BEA, my friend talked a lot about this book. Her excitement made me excited and I am glad I read A Little Something Different. First off: the nostalgia. I can't remember if Sandy Hall specified where this college was, but immediately I was nostalgic for the setting she'd established and the opportunities for romance therein. I wish my creative writing professor had been like Lea and Gabe's; and I was definitely reminded of that class with the realistic assignments Hall wrote for her characters. (Also sometimes I really do wonder how much professors and teachers notice about their students and their romantic interactions. So I loved exploring that aspect of the class and the professor's perspective). Second off: Gabe's struggle. This book is short, but not so short that Hall didn't explore Gabe's issues. Those issues ring genuine and aren't of the typical NA variety, which I personally have a hard time identifying with. Another great thing about this book? The humor. With fourteen different perspectives, you might think: too much. But Hall manages to weave them together into a cohesive story with lots of humorous tidbits, especially those from the perspective of a bench and a squirrel. A Little Something Different is the perfect story for when you want something light and fluffy and absolutely adorable. I was most definitely rooting for Lea and Gabe and I hope you will be too.
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