Review | The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

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.

2 cupcakes

I really enjoyed The Adoration of Jenna Fox and I love high fantasy, so I was really looking forward to reading The Kiss of Deception. Unfortunately, despite its strong start, The Kiss of Deception didn’t quite meet my expectations.

The Kiss of Deception started out quite strongly, however once Lia fled her kingdom, there wasn’t much plot progression. There were scenes of her travelling, scenes of her working as a barmaid in a tavern, scenes of her picking berries… and this carried on for ~300 pages. To add to this, the prince and the assassin didn’t live up to their promised roles; instead, they became hopelessly infatuated with Lia as soon as they set eyes on her, creating a love triangle that quickly overshadowed the main plot. Furthermore, the assassin possessed a secret delicate nature and was reluctant to kill his target, rather than creating gruesome murders and general tension/intrigue like expected.

Lia, herself, was an alright heroine. She wasn’t quite the badass I had expected, though I did appreciate her sharp tongue and willingness to stand up for herself and others. I didn’t agree with her decision to flee her kingdom, especially knowing the importance of the alliance, however I understood her need to create a future on her own terms.

The romance was interesting at first, as it wasn’t revealed which party member was the assassin and which member was the prince. Unfortunately, once the romance weighed down the plot progression, I no longer found myself invested in its outcome and became irritated by how Lia had chosen one boy but continued to lead on the other.

Overall, I likely would have enjoyed Kiss of Deception more if the love triangle wasn’t so heavy, and if the plot had more substance.

Review | The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts

A streetwise girl trains to take on a gang of drug dealers and avenge her best friend’s death in this thriller for fans of Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman.

People say when you take Heam, your body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of heaven. Faye was only eleven when dealers forced Heam on her and her best friend, Christian. But Faye didn’t glimpse heaven—she saw hell. And Christian died.

Now Faye spends her days hiding her secret from the kids at school, and her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her life and murdered her best friend. But life never goes the way we think it will. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye’s plan suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Chael seems to know everything about her, including her past. But too many secrets start tearing her world apart: trouble at school, with the police, and with the people she thought might be her friends. Even Gazer, her guardian, fears she’s become too obsessed with vengeance. Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?

2.5 cupcakes

Having read and enjoyed Dark Inside and Rage Within, I was really looking forward to reading The Bodies We Wear. Its Kill Bill vibe and promise of delicious revenge drew me in, and while it delivered on some levels, I was left feeling fairly underwhelmed.

I loved the dark, gritty world that Roberts created. Although Heam’s origin wasn’t explained very much, it isn’t difficult to imagine its existence or why it would appeal to a significant portion of the population – a drug that allows you to glimpse Heaven for the price of dying momentarily is quite an interesting concept.

At first, I was intrigued by our protagonist, Faye. Her anger was all-consuming, so I was really interested to see how her self-destructive pathway to revenge would play out. Unfortunately, despite her constant reminders of how much of an amazing fighter she was, Faye wasn’t really that much of a badass. She spends the majority of the story pitying herself (which was understandable at first, but then began grating on my nerves) or fawning over the mysterious Chael, leaving much to be desired in the actual “revenge” aspect of The Bodies We Wear. Also, for an individual who has been exposed to Haem, she didn’t seem to suffer any of the side-effects that the other addicts did – aside from the scarring, that is. She barely spoke of her addiction and managed to attend school on a regular basis, all of which should have been impossible, given the way that Haem had previously been presented. Despite this, I did enjoy her transformation over the course of the novel as she learned about forgiveness and the power that it holds; I just wish that she had lived up to the Lisbeth Salander comparison.

The romance is where The Bodies We Wear really went downhill for me. The “mysterious” Chael (whose identity I had pieced together within the first ~50 pages) admits to stalking Faye, yet he’s gorgeous enough that it’s acceptable. It wasn’t the best first impression, and their interactions over the course of the story felt forced and unnecessary.

Overall, The Bodies We Wear had a strong start but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting (or what it was marketed as), leaving me fairly disappointed.

Top Ten Bookish Problems

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, she posts an idea relating to books and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own top ten lists.

This week’s topic is “top ten book-related problems that I have.” It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, and this looks like such a fun topic!

1. Finding time to read. 
I’m currently taking 5 biology courses and their associated laboratory components, which means that I’m at school from 9:30-5:30 on weekdays. On top of that, I’m the Marketing & Communications Director for a student-run group on campus, I visit elementary school classrooms with Let’s Talk Science to run fun biology experiments, and I’m on the Lab and Design Team for the University of Waterloo’s iGEM team (which I am incredibly excited about!). All of this has left me with very little time to blog, let alone read – if I can sneak in a few chapters over breakfast, I consider it to be a good day.

2. Deciding what to read next
I probably spend more time staring at my bookshelves to pick out my next read than I spend actually reading…

3. Buying matching covers/editions
In a perfect world, all of my books would be of the same type and same edition. Unfortunately, I’m really impatient, and insist on pre-ordering everything, so my series are a mix of hardcovers and paperbacks.

4. Saying “no” to pretty-looking books – especially when I already own another edition
I recently tried convincing my mother that a good 21st birthday present would be the new Bloomsbury editions of Harry Potter, since I love their covers. She said no, since I already have a perfectly good, original hardcover set… so I’m just going to have to buy them myself. And the illustrated editions, once those come out.

5. Binge-reading a series, only to find out that the next book is released a lot later than I originally thought
Here’s looking at you, Winter.

6. When none of my friends understand why I’m crying over a fictional character
The worst was when I was reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue and had to show them the scene I was crying over. IT WAS REALLY SWEET, OKAY.

7. Getting a new book in a series, but forgetting what happened in the previous books
Thank goodness for The Recaptains, and Wikipedia. (I usually would do a reread, but if I tried that once Winds of Winter comes out, you guys would never hear from me again).

8. When I borrow an ebook from the library, and it expires before I have a chance to finish it
This always happens with new releases, since I have the hardest time reading multiple books at once… which means I have to go back on the incredibly long holds list.

9. Getting interrupted in the middle of a good scene
Especially if it’s to ask what I’m reading.

10. Deciding how to organize my bookshelf
Alphabetical? By colour? Do I give myself a favourites shelf? Such a hard decision! My bookshelf is the only part of my room that needs to look perfect. Now, if only it had infinite space…

What are your biggest book-related problems? Leave me a list or a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post in the comments below.

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Review | The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

2.5 cupcakes

I hadn’t heard the term “DUFF” (or “designated ugly fat friend”) before the trailer for this movie premiered. That being said, I’m quite familiar with assessing one’s worth on the basis of comparisons, so I’m glad that Keplinger decided to tackle this issue. Everyone has moments of insecurity, and I appreciated how Bianca wasn’t treated any less for having them.

All of the characters in The DUFF are flawed, realistic portrayals of high school students though I can’t say I really fell for any of them. Bianca’s snarky attitude and cynicism initially won me over, but her selfish nature made her difficult to like at times. I understood why she initially threw herself at Wesley – after all, I’ve been known to indulge in retail therapy as a method of distraction – but I couldn’t get on board with her disregarding her best friends to avoid her problems.

Regardless of how sweet Wesley Ayers seemed later in the story, I just couldn’t get behind the romance. A large part of this is likely because he made a point of referring to Bianca as “duffy” every time they spoke; he did genuinely apologize about it later on, but that couldn’t cancel out my first impression of him.

Although I loved The DUFF‘s realistic portrayal of teenagers and their insecurities, I didn’t feel that the secondary issues were handled very well. Alcoholism and divorce were important portions of Bianca’s home life, but they didn’t receive much exploration and were resolved too neatly for my liking.

Overall, The DUFF was merely an average read for me. Hopefully the movie is more enjoyable.

Review | Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

Perfect for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, Love and Other Foreign Words is equal parts comedy and coming of age–a whip-smart, big-hearted, laugh-out-loud love story about sisters, friends, and what it means to love at all.

Can anyone be truly herself–or truly in love–in a language that’s not her own?

Sixteen-year-old Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups, and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue — the only people who speak that are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. So when Kate gets engaged to an epically insufferable guy, how can Josie see it as anything but the mistake of a lifetime? Kate is determined to bend Josie to her will for the wedding; Josie is determined to break Kate and her fiancé up. As battles are waged over secrets and semantics, Josie is forced to examine her feelings for the boyfriend who says he loves her, the sister she loves but doesn’t always like, and the best friend who hasn’t said a word — at least not in a language Josie understands.

5 cupcakes

Love and Other Foreign Words first came onto my radar after its protagonist was compared to Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars. While I understand why the comparison was made (after all, both teens are intelligent), I’d argue that these teenager’s voices were more authentic.

I absolutely loved Josie’s character. She’s incredibly intelligent, and aspects of life that she can’t discern through a mathematical formula confuse her (especially the notion of love). Josie is incredibly analytical and overthinks everything, and all of her interactions need to be translated from their respective language to the language of Josie. This had the potential to become annoying, but thanks to McCahan’s compelling writing, Josie’s voice was endearing and entertaining.

My favourite part of Love and Other Foreign Words, though, was its in-depth exploration of love in all its forms as Josie searched to find the true meaning of the word “love.” Romantic love is the most celebrated form of love (and the love interest in this story was absolutely adorable), but familial relationships and friendships are equally important. As a result, I was incredibly happy to see that Josie’s family was close-knit and present (even with the realistic arguments between siblings) and that her friendships were strong and supportive.

Overall, Love and Other Foreign Words was adorable, quirky, and laugh-out-loud funny. It was exactly what I needed to break my reading slump, and I’m looking forward to re-reading it on a rainy day.

Review | Red Rising by Pierce Brown

The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

3.5 cupcakes

After seeing all of the raving reviews and Goodreads Choice Award nomination, I knew that I had to give Red Rising a read. Of course, I knew absolutely nothing about the book – I hadn’t read the synopsis, and I wasn’t even sure what genre it fell under – but I can honestly say that I wasn’t expecting whatever this was. It has a dystopian/science-fiction setting and premise, but is filled with the language and world-building of high fantasy, making for a truly unique read.

The first ~30% of Red Rising was a rough read, and if it weren’t for the excellent writing and the promise that it would get better, I likely would have given up. There’s a fair amount of info-dumping and dancing that didn’t seem to be relevant to the plot. It was rather slow paced and contained a ridiculous amount of terms and slang that weren’t defined and thoroughly confused me – between bloodydamn helldivers and highColors, I had no idea what was going on at first. Thankfully, the world-building was explained as the story progressed, and I really enjoyed seeing the parallels to Roman mythology.

Once the pace picked up a bit, Red Rising really became interesting. Between military strategies, sieges, revenge, and betrayal, there was more than enough action to capture my full attention. The battles are brutal and dramatic, and the atmosphere is filled with dark tension and intrigue, making it incredibly difficult to put Red Rising down.

I wasn’t able to connect with our protagonist, Darrow. The underdog-turned-revolutionary-leader is usually something I enjoy in a book, but Darrow was just too perfect. For an uneducated member of a low caste, it was unbelievable that he would be the one person able to be artificially enhanced and compete against the most intelligent, strongest, and most powerful members of society. This level of perfection made him really difficult to relate to or sympathize with, despite the author’s best intentions.

I did, however, like the majority of the secondary characters as they were complex and, often, morally ambiguous. My favourites were easily Pax, the surprisingly kind-hearted giant, and Sevros, the wicked little “Goblin.” I really enjoyed how there were many strong female characters (like Mustang) who showed themselves capable in battle, strategizing, and at being genuinely caring individuals. Unfortunately, some of them served only to show how enlightened and heroic Darrow was, as seen by the very problematic treatment of rape over the course of the story.

Overall, there were many aspects of Red Rising that I enjoyed, but the slow pacing and my inability to connect with the protagonist somewhat dampened my reading experience. Here’s hoping that Golden Son is a smoother read.

If You Like… CLASSICS


If You LikeWelcome to my feature, If You Like…. INSERT THING HERE. In this feature, I’ll be sharing books related to various television shows, movies, other books…. anything and everything!

I’ve been reading a lot of classics lately, so I thought that this week I’d recommend some classics that I’ve recently enjoyed.

Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Although this novel is a lot different from what I expected it to be (I thought it would be a romantic love story- it’s not!) I still really enjoyed. It’s basically like reading a soap opera because it’s so dramatic and ridiculous. It’s really well written and you can’t help but love to hate the characters. It’s a pretty quick read as well, which is great if you’re in any sort of time crunch.

Catcher in the RyeThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I’m in the middle of rereading this novel for the second time right now, and I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying it. Yes, Holden Caulfield can get a bit irritating at times (everything is just so PHONY to him) but I think that deep down we can all relate to him at least a little. It’s also really interesting to read it knowing how it ends because it definitely puts a different perspective on his entire situation. For anyone who has ever felt lonely, misunderstood, or just frustrated with the world, I think you’ll definitely find a connection with poor Holden!

Great ExpectationsGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens

I haven’t actually finished reading this one entirely yet- I’m reading it with my AP English class right now and I’m currently about half way through it- but I am absolutely adoring it thus far so I thought I’d recommend it anyways. Pip is a spectacular narrator because he’s so easy to relate to. The characters in this novel seem to leap right off the page and Dickens’ writing is brilliantly witty. If the second half of the novel is as good as the first, this book is one fantastic read!

I hope you enjoy these recommendations! What classics would you recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY (Nut Free Nerd)

P.S. Can you tell that I’m in love with the Penguin English Library collection? <3