Guest Review: The Body in the Woods by April Henry

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Guest Review: The Body in the Woods by April HenryThe Body in the Woods by April Henry
Series: Point Last Seen #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 17, 2014
Pages: 263
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

A message from Meredith: Hey everyone! Today, I have Kaitlyn Johnson here with a guest review for The Body in the Woods by April Henry.

You can find Kaitlyn on The Odyssey and on Twitter!

Without further adieu, here’s Kaitlyn’s review! Enjoy!


The Body in the Woods has one thing going for it: it does make you feel invested in learning the truth. You want to keep reading; if for nothing more than to make sure the characters don’t come to bad ends, it keeps you going. Though it was extremely hard to figure out exactly who had the role of Main Character (SPOILER: All 3 technically are, which felt just a tad annoying at the end), Henry at least allows the reader to care about each one in their own capacity.

Where the book stumbled in execution was actually delivering on the suspense aspect of a YA thriller. Henry attempted to convey this by dropping random chapters here and there from the killer’s POV, but that just led to more distaste since the book is already segmented into random chapters by the three high schoolers. Those “culprit” chapters gave more away than really adding to the story itself. The identity of the killer was also hinted at far too early, yet again mishandling what could have been an intense, suspenseful thriller.

I did enjoy the fact the author did not get lost in the “life” of a high school character. Too often, word counts are heightened meaninglessly by suffocating scenes of the high schooler wandering around through their weekly classes. Henry found a great way to stick to the action of this book rather than get bogged down with unnecessary scenes. High school wasn’t the heart of the story, so she didn’t try to make it that.

Unfortunately, I rate this book at a 3.5 out of 5 rather than a 4, mainly due to the lack of true suspense and the abundance of errors within the text which I am praying were fixed in the finalized version. I enjoyed the read; it was ok. Nothing spectacular or memorable, but I could get through the pages and not hate it. However, especially since I am a HUGE stickler for correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation in published works, I really hope this ARC does not reflect the quality of the final copies. Also, I didn’t know where the setting was for the longest time. Yes, Portland. Does Henry understand there are two Portland locations? I assumed Oregon when I read the author’s bio (surprise, Henry lives in Oregon), but only knew for sure in the story itself when the Oregonian newspaper is mentioned on page 107.

All in all, it was an ok read, but not one that impacted me or that I’ll ever want to attempt again.


Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Dregs #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on September 29, 2015
Pages: 480
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

After binge reading the entire Grisha trilogy, I was super pumped to dive right into Six of Crows. I had extremely high expectations for this book, since I loved the Grisha trilogy so much – and Six of Crows more than delivered! With incredible world-building, epic characters and Leigh Bardugo’s gorgeous writing, this book was everything I hoped it would be and more!

First of all, I love this world. I love that we (those who read the Grisha trilogy) know this world – it’s established and we know the rules and laws, but it’s also a different side of the world we know and love. It’s darker and heavier, yet it still has moments that make you laugh out loud. Bardugo’s world-building and writing skills have gotten even better since she did the Grisha trilogy and since that trilogy was insanely amazing, it’s hard to believe she could get even better than she already was!

I also loved these characters. They have so much depth and richness – I was immediately and completely invested in them and their story. They were insanely awesome and had such great chemistry, I just shipped everyone with everyone!

Kaz is incredibly cocky, sarcastic and bad-ass. He had nothing and no one and he had to build himself up and, essentially, start from scratch. He needed a roof over his head, a source of income, a way to ensure his safety and reputation – and he did all of that and more. He’s fiercely loyal to the Dregs and his friends, yet driven by revenge

I had a major girl crush on Inej. I loved everything about her – her background, who she was to the Dregs and Kaz, her attitude and personality, how badass and loyal she was – absolutely everything. She’s a trained fighter and capable of holding her own. In those regards, she reminded me of Alina and Celaena.

I 100% shipped Kaz and Inej. They were just perfect together. They were both loyal and bad-ass and they could both hold their own in a sticky situation, yet they still watched each other’s backs, kept each other’s secrets and were concerned beyond words for each other’s safety when things looked grim. Yet they still butted heads over a number of things and the tension between them was insane. My heart completely broke for them at the end of this book and I’m anxious to see what happens next for them.

I wasn’t really crazy about Jesper in the beginning, but then he grew on me. He and Wylan (one of my favorite characters) were hilarious and perfect together. It’s hard to pick who my OTP was, between them and Kaj & Inej, but I can definitely say that they were one of my absolute favorite ships in this book!

For the most part, I liked Nina. She was hilarious and I loved the role she played in the group, but I never fully trusted her – She had her own agenda and I was always waiting for her to stab them all in the back, to do what she had to in order to fix the messes she found herself in.

Matthias was an okay character, but he wasn’t stand-out for me. What he did was brave and it showed that he DOES know right from wrong and he CAN learn to do the right thing. But I wasn’t crazy about his background or his personality. And I definitely did NOT ship him and Nina, which made me very sad because I had heard a LOT about this ship prior to reading the book and everyone loved them. I wanted to like Matthias and I wanted to ship him and Nina but I just couldn’t. Not after the things he did and how many times he betrayed her or hurt her. He reminded me of the Darkling – I wanted to like him, but I could’t forgive the things he did.

Normally, this many POVs in one novel would annoy me – Unfortunately, too many multiple POV’s (greater than three) are almost always done because it’s the only way to kept the story moving and without them, there would be less plot and a shorter novel. But Bardugo made it work and I loved seeing inside everyone’s heads! I also felt the pacing was pretty spot on. Some people found it slow to get going, but I think that’s because Bardugo really took the time to develop this world and these characters and, as a very character-driven reader, I really appreciated and enjoyed that. For me, nothing felt like filler – it all felt relevant and important to the overall story. Others might disagree and that’s okay! But I do suggest pushing through the potentially slow beginning – it’s so worth it for the epic cliffhanger ending!

And, my goodness, was that cliffhanger epic, intense and insane! This book JUST came out a week ago and I’m already dying for the sequel! So many revelations, so many plot twists, so many crazy character developments… My poor heart couldn’t take it!!! I really don’t want to say more for fear of spoilers, but trust me, it was ridiculously good!

Overall, if you couldn’t tell from my rambling-filled fangirl review, I LOVED this book, I LOVE Leigh Bardugo and I CAN’T wait for her next book (both in this series and in general). I can’t get enough of this world, these characters or Bardugo’s crazy-good writing! I HIGHLY recommend this book, whether you read the Grisha trilogy or not (Side note: You DON’T have to read the Grisha trilogy before you read Six of Crows – they’re companion novels and can be read together or separately; however, I HIGHLY recommend you read both the Grisha trilogy AND Six of Crows because both are amazing beyond words), give this one a chance! It’s filled with amazing characters, an epic plot and a rich, well-developed world – So, basically, it has everything that makes an amazing book!


Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh BardugoRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 17, 2014
Pages: 422
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Amazon

The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Warning: This is a hard book to review without spoilers, because it’s the last book in a trilogy and so much happened. I tried not to out-right spoil anything, but I definitely alluded to certain spoilers. So if you haven’t read all three books, I suggest waiting to read this review!


Ruin and Rising was one giant rollercoaster of emotions! There were so many revelations and plot twists, I actually feel exhausted from reading this book. After the cliffhanger in Siege and Storm, I was anxious to see what happened next. Though I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending, this book was definitely INSANE and this trilogy is still one of my absolute favorites of all time!

It was very frustrating to see Alina so weak in the beginning of Ruin and Rising, whether it be real or exaggerated, for the eyes of the Apparat. I’m so used to her being strong, bad-ass and take-charge – it was SO hard to see her with her tail between her legs, putting on sweet smiles and motherly tones to appease him and make him think she was his good little lap dog saint. It made me want to throw up a little, actually. The weakness act didn’t last long, thank goodness, and Alina really put the Apparat in his place!

Alina was her usual bad-ass self for the remainder of the book. She didn’t have much character growth in Ruin and Rising, but she’s grown so much throughout the entire trilogy, I don’t mind that the level of growth dropped a bit in the final book. Looking back to where she started in Shadow and Bone and where she ended in Ruin and Rising, Alina has kind of gone full circle. I’m not sure how I feel about the way her story ended, though. I don’t like what she lost and I was hoping she would end up with someone else. But I’m satisfied with her overall journey from beginning to end.

I still think Mal is completely in the friend zone. I still only mildly like him. I grudgingly admit he was slightly better in this book than he was in the last two. I also think he was completely robbed of an epic ending. He sacrificed SO MUCH and then it felt like his sacrifice was.. For nothing. Taken away. I think his sacrifice should have been permanent and honored. I’m not saying I didn’t want him in Alina’s life, but what he did was noble and then it was, essentially, dismissed. And it made his willingness to sacrifice so much feel.. cheap (for lack of a better word).

I still can’t wrap my head around the idea of shipping Alina and the Darkling. The Darkling was the villain, the bad guy. He did HORRIBLE things. But at the same time, I saw a different side of him in this book. He genuinely believes what he’s doing is for the greater good. He truly wants to bring peace. In his own way, he really does love Alina and truly wants to rule beside her. His desires might be borne of evil and power hungry-ness, but he does want these things and wholeheartedly believes he’s doing what’s best to achieve his goals. That made him an incredibly frightening villain and an epically intriguing character. I was BEYOND SHOCKED by the way his story ended. Also, shockingly, I was very saddened by the way his story ended. I didn’t expect it and it felt like such a… human way for his story to end, when he was much greater than a simple human. He was an ancient, immortal man who deserved to go out like a firework, not a firecracker.

Nikolai definitely got the short end of the stick in this book. He was my absolute favorite of the guys and my heart broke for him. I wanted so much more for him and his story and it just didn’t happen. Plus there wasn’t nearly enough of him in the second half of the book for my satisfaction! I can’t say much without spoilers, though, so… Moving on!

There were so many epic, wonderful characters in this book – and throughout the entire trilogy. It’s impossible to discuss them all, but major hearts and feels go out to Genya, Tamar, Tolya, Zoya, Nadia, David, Baghra, Ruby, Fedyor, Botkin and anyone else I’m forgetting. These characters are so real and beloved, they’re like family at this point. I’m happy when they’re happy and I’m sad when they’re hurting. I rooted for all of them, even the ones I didn’t like or the ones who didn’t deserve to be rooted for.

There were also many, many shocking deaths in this book and many of them broke my heart. I can’t discuss them without spoilers, obviously, so I’ll just silently mourn them all.

As far as pacing goes, the first 119 pages were a bit cumbersome and filler-ish. There were some important revelations and things that had to be taken care of/dealt with, so I get it. The rest of the book flew by fairly quickly with a more even pacing. There were a few points when the pacing lulled a bit, but it always picked up again fairly quickly. The middle of the book (from roughly 237-338, depending on what edition of the book you have) was epic, intense and insane. The number of revelations, plot twists and feels in this section made my heart hurt! I actually had to put the book down and stop reading for the night, to give myself a chance to recover.

But then those last 79 pages? JUST AS FEELS-INDUCING! Seriously, I don’t think I can discuss anything that happened in those last 79 pages AT ALL because SO MANY SPOILERS. And honestly, I don’t even know if I could find the words to describe the epic and awesome and heartbreak and feels. So I’m just not even going to try. Just read this book! Read this trilogy! See for yourself how crazy it is! Then you’ll get why I can’t put it into words.

I’ve never been more conflicted over a book’s ending – or a trilogy’s ending – than I am with Ruin and Rising. I’m a little disappointed, but at the same time, it feels…. Right. Like it couldn’t have ended any other way, though I certainly have ideas/thoughts of how I wish it had ended. For better or worse, though, this is definitely an ending I’ll remember for a long time and ponder over for a long time.

Overall, this trilogy was amazing and one of my absolute favorites of all time! Leigh Bardugo is an epic writer and storyteller. Her world, her characters – they’re all so real and so beloved. I felt like I went on this incredible journey right along with them. Now, when people ask what my favorite fictional world is, I’ll have to say “Hogwarts… And Ravka!”


Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh BardugoSiege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 4, 2013
Pages: 435
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Amazon

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

If you’re looking to create a list of books that suffer from Second Book Syndrome, then you need to look elsewhere because you’ll find none of that in Siege and Storm. If anything, Siege and Storm is even better than Shadow and Bone! The first chapter started off a little bit slow, but once the action began, it never let up. This sequel is incredible and intense, with amazing characters and epic plot twists – the stakes are high and the characters have so much more to lose.

Alina has changed SO MUCH since the beginning of Shadow and Bone! Her character growth was a bit stagnant throughout the beginning and middle of Siege and Storm, but then really picked up speed again during the last 100 pages. Honestly, I have a bit of a girl crush on Alina. She’s just completely epic and she’s come so far! Her revelations and plot twists at the end were insane! I’m BEYOND excited to see what happens next for her, especially after that EVIL cliffhanger!!!!

In Shadow and Bone, I didn’t ship Mal and Alina because he was a bit of a jerk to Alina. I also felt like he was completely in the friend zone. But in Siege and Storm, I just really couldn’t stand him at all. My deepest apologies to those who love him and who ship him and Alina, but he was SUCH a whiny brat, I seriously just wanted to slap him silly! He moped and got angry with Alina for not telling him things, but then when she tried to, he stalked off like a sullen kid. He had some okay moments in the beginning of the book, but the closer it got to the end, the more annoying he became. And then he did something that put him beyond redemption for me – though I’ve been told he DOES redeem himself in Ruin and Rising, so I guess I’ll see what happens…

I still don’t understand how anyone can ship the Darkling. He’s the villain! He’s evil! He’s the bad guy Alina has to defeat. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen hard for the bad guys who seem beyond redemption before (*Cough*Damon*Cough*) But… I just don’t see any redemption in the Darkling’s future. He’s done a lot of terrible, heartless things and he’s incredibly power hungry. He’s in so deep, I just can’t see him giving up all of that and changing his ways. I have to admit, though, I love the way his story ended in Siege and Storm and I’m very intrigued to see what happens next for him in Ruin and Rising!

And then there’s Sturmhond…. Major heart-eye emoji! He’s so cocky and full of himself and his big reveal was epic beyond words! He’s charming and hilarious and not only do I adore him, but I 100% ship him and Alina! But the way his story ended… My heart is breaking with worry for him and I’m desperate to see how things go for him in Ruin and Rising! (Sorry for the vagueness and shortness.. Trying to avoid spoilers here!).

At some point, roughly 150-pages from the end, I started to feel like the pace was slowing down. But then I started to wonder if I was just anxious to see how it ended and to get to Ruin and Rising. And almost as soon as I thought the pacing was slowing, things picked up speed and became so intense, my heart was in my throat! There were some character deaths that shocked and saddened me – some more than others – and some revelations and plot twists that left me reeling!

As I’ve mentioned, the cliffhanger at the end of this book was super evil and super intense! I can’t even imagine how the people who read this right when it originally released felt – They finished it and had to wait an entire year to read Ruin and Rising! I finished Siege and Storm last night and I’m starting Ruin and Rising later today and I’m like O___O – and I’m only going a few hours without reading! I can’t imagine having to wait a year to see what happens next!

Seriously, Leigh Bardugo is a goddess and officially on my auto-buy list. She took her incredible world and her beloved characters and made them even more incredible and beloved. I regret that it took me so long to read this series and I’m loving it so much! I’m super pumped for Ruin and Rising – though I’m conflicted because, while I desperately want to see how it ends, I DO NOT want it to end! I’m already anticipating a major bookish hangover after Ruin and Rising! But it will be SO WORTH IT to see how this epic series ends!

If you couldn’t tell from my all my fangirling, this book was BEYOND epic and a MUST-READ! I HIGHLY recommend this trilogy (and I’m not even finished reading it)!


Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh BardugoShadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 5, 2012
Pages: 358
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Amazon

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.

Everyone I know who has read this book/trilogy, loves it! I had no interest in reading it until the third book, Ruin and Rising, released. At that point, I figured I could add them to my TBR and then binge read all three. Still, it’s taken me another year since then to get to them – And I’m SO sorry I didn’t read this brilliant, wonderful series sooner! Shadow and Bone was epic beyond words! The world/world-building was beautiful and full of depth, the characters were realistic and likable and Leigh Bardugo’s writing was rich and gorgeous.

I love Alina. She’s so real and relatable and awesome. I love how she’s not perfect and her gift doesn’t come easy to her. I love how she defends herself and speaks her mind, even to people who could kill her with a snap of their fingers – even to the Darkling. I love how she’s both brave and vulnerable. I also loved her progress throughout the book. She struggled, slowly learning how to master her gift, getting a little bit better, day by day. I loved that it didn’t come easy to her. She had to work hard and fall a few times, but she got right back up each time.

She actually reminded me of Celaena from Throne of Glass. Both are strong, fierce, badass women. Both have identities/gifts they kept hidden. Both have the potential to change the world. The big difference is that Celaena was raised to be a badass assassin and, up until now, Alina was a regular girl who didn’t know she was special. But both are two of my all-time favorite female MC’s now!

I know Mal is the major love interest in this book, but I really just got the friend vibe from him. Also, he acted like a major jerk and I wanted to smack him for the way he spoke to Alina and the way he treated her. As much as I hate to admit it, though, he really redeemed himself as the book went on. By the end, I really liked him, but he still never felt like a potential love interest. I always felt like he and Alina were great friends and that’s all they should be. Maybe that will change as I get into the second book. But for now, I’m not convinced of their ship.

In the beginning, I was wary of the Darkling. He’s the bad guy you can’t help but swoon over, the one you hope ends up on the side of good, who realizes the error of his ways. Overall, the Darkling was an epic villain. He’s a master manipulator and it’s hard to tell when he’s being deceitful in order to get his way and when he’s being sincere – something that makes it easy to fall into his trap, to believe his lies and doubt his truths. It makes him very, very scary. The revelations regarding him and his background were insanely epic and completely blew my mind. But keeping them in mind, I can’t help but wonder how anyone could ship him and Alina – no offense to anyone who does! I still have two books to convince me otherwise! But his actions at the end of Shadow and Bone left much to be desired…

I really liked Genya in the beginning. She was kind and more authentic than most of the other characters we met. But her actions near the end had me doubting her authenticity. I hope we see more of her in the second book and I hope she redeems herself. The Apparat was creepy and I don’t trust him, but I have a feeling there’s more to him than we know.

There were a LOT of secondary and tertiary characters in this book. While I couldn’t possibly talk about them all, I want to say that I did really like a lot of them, even when they were getting on my nerves! They just made this whole world feel that much more real and authentic. Really, I just loved everything about this world – the magic, the rules, the history, all of it. The whole thing was breath-taking and wonderful. Ravka is definitely in my Top Ten Favorite Fictional Worlds!

The ending was epic and intense. I’m very excited to pick up the next book and see what happens next for our beloved characters. Leigh Bardugp is a gorgeous writer who will pull you into her world and make you fall for her characters. I highly, highly recommend this book for fans of fantasy and magic. If you loved Throne of Glass (and books like it), you’ll love Shadow and Bone!


Review: The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. PearsonThe Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #2
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 7th 2015
Pages: 470
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.

I loved The Kiss of Deception so much – it was one of my favorite books of 2014 – so I was really nervous to start The Heart of Betrayal, worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations or would have Second Book Syndrome. It picks up right where The Kiss of Deception ended, plunging the reader right back into this amazing world. Despite the slow pacing in the middle of the book, this was an overall enjoyable read.

Lia is filled with sass and fire. Despite everything that happened to her, she remained strong and fierce. She’s determined to play the game and deceive the Komizar, ensuring Rafe’s safety and their freedom in the process. She played the game so well, I almost started to ship her and the Komizar! Though she falls apart a few time and she has some unlikable moments, she has a lot of growth in this book. And that evil cliffhanger…!!!! I NEED book three, like, now!

When I reviewed The Kiss of Deception, it was hard to talk about Rafe and Kaden, since their identities were a mystery (as far as which was the prince and which was the assassin). If you read that review, though, you know that this back-and-forth guessing game left me confused and frustrated and actually distracted me from the overall story. Going into The Heart of Betrayal, I had a lot of trouble remembering which guy I liked from book one and why because of the left-over confusion. So, because I couldn’t remember anything about my feelings for them from book one, I had to rely solely on how I felt about Kaden and Rafe based on their behavior in The Heart of Betrayal.

I’m pretty sure I liked Rafe more and shipped him with Lia in The Kiss of Deception, but to be honest, his chapters in The Heart of Betrayal bored me. And at times, I really shipped Lia with Kaden more. But they both had their moments of bad behavior and I almost got to a point where I didn’t ship Lia with EITHER of them. By the end of the book, I think I was back on Team Rafe – and I say “think” because I’m still not sure how I feel about certain things.

I struggled with my feelings for the Komizar, as well. At times, I couldn’t stand him and at times, I really liked him. I kept waiting for him to open up to Lia and soften towards her. I guess, in hindsight, that may have been a bit predictable and I’m almost glad it didn’t happen. He was the villain and that’s how it should be. The ending was INSANE, though. I kind of expected what happened to happen, but it still came as a huge WHOA moment. But since we didn’t get “final confirmation” on what happened, it still feels very open ended and like anything could happen next. I have a LOT of theories…

Some of my favorite characters – as was the case in book one, as well – were Pauline and Gwyneth. They’re hilarious together and I really want to see more of them! I actually really liked Calantha, even when she was being evil and manipulative. There was something about her character that intrigued me. The revelation of who she is was pretty epic. I also really liked Aster and my heart broke for her at the end. Finally, I really liked Griz and Eben, though it took me a while to remember who they were from book one.

And that leads me to the parts that were confusing… I barely remembered anything about the “ancient” characters from book one, so whenever they came up, it slowed me down while I tried very hard to remember. I think a “Who’s Who from Book One” character guide would have been helpful. And maybe a short page or two on the “History of Morrighan, Venda and Dalbreck.” I couldn’t remember who Gaudrel was from “The Last Testaments of Gaudrel” and it took me a long time to remember the history of Morrighan and Venda.

As I’ve mentioned a few times, the ending was an EPIC INSANE CLIFFHANGER OF INSANELY EPIC PROPORTIONS. I can’t even wrap my head around it and I finished reading it like a week ago! The ending almost makes up for the slow pacing and confusion in the middle of the book. I’m very excited for the third book and can’t wait to get my hands on it to see what happens next!!!


Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. PearsonThe Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 8, 2014
Pages: 492
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

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 Kiss of Deception had everything I love reading about, all in one book. I love books that take place in the past – specifically, in 1800s England. I love books that take place in similar time periods, as well. I also love books set in the distant future, in which all technology has disappeared and it seems as though the plot takes place in 1800s England or a similar time period. That was a lot of babbling, but hopefully you guys understand what I’m trying to say! Basically, I LOVE the time period this book is set in. I love the characters, the plot – Pretty much everything about this book pulled me in and kept me reading (I read it in two sitting and in the second sitting, I read 375 pages without stopping!).

Barely 60 pages in and I was already in love with the world, as well as Lia’s character and voice. There’s a fine line between her wanting to live her own life in her own way, and her being kind of selfish for running away and abandoning her duties as Princess. But I understand why she ran and, if I were in her position, I would have run, too. I knew it was too good to last, but I enjoyed the life she made for herself and the people she met. I admired her, though, for knowing when it was time to go home. In that particular moment, I could really see the character growth, that moment when she finally acknowledged her duties and responsibilities and realized she couldn’t run from them. It took a lot of maturity to come to that conclusion.

It’s really difficult to talk about the prince and assassin without giving anything away. This was the biggest mystery in the book and one of the very few things that annoyed me a little bit. Trying to guess who was who was a fun mystery at first, but after awhile, it started to distract me from the story and it became very confusing. I focused so much of my attention on trying to figure it out that I’m pretty sure I missed some key plot points and revelations. It was also a lot of back and fourth, thinking “Well, I love the assassin/prince… But I love _______. I hope they’re the same person! But what if ________ is the assassin/prince? I don’t like him as much!” (Sorry for the confusion! Leaving out the male character names to avoid spoilers or even a hint of a spoiler!)

After a LOT of going back and fourth, I finally just tried to enjoy the story as it was told to me. I tried to stay in the moment and avoid thinking about it, though several hints are dropped and some are hard to ignore. But, thankfully, the “name” that I loved turned out to be the “title” that I loved so it all worked out in the end!

I adored Pauline. She was a faithful servant and friend to Lia. She didn’t have to do what she did and she didn’t have to abandon everything she knew and everyone she loved. But she stuck by Lia through everything. I also loved Gwyneth. She was that person who can be your best friend or worst enemy and she tells it like it is, whether you want to hear it or not. Sometimes, Lia needed Gwyneth’s brutal honesty in order to see things clearly. Another great character was Berdi. She was the much-needed mother figure for Lia, Pauline and Gwyneth. She was strict when she had to be, but caring when she needed to be.

The “journey” at the end was interesting at first, though it began to drag and I grew bored with it. I just wanted it to end or something to happen. There were some epic character and plot revelations sprinkled into the journey, though, so it was still worth-while in the end. It also showed that Lia was tougher than she gave herself credit for. She endured a lot throughout the journey. She also suffered terrible heartbreak, but she still pushed on. She didn’t bow down to her enemy, not once.

Overall, despite two things that bothered me (the annoying back-and-fourth of who was who and the too-long “journey” that dragged), I loved The Kiss of Deception so, so much! It had all the elements of a perfect book (in my mind, at least) and it was everything I love to read about, all in one book. The ending was incredible and a complete cliffhanger! I can’t wait to get my hands on book two! Mary E. Pearson is an amazing writer and a masterful story-teller. She created an incredible, believable world filled with wonderful, complex characters. I highly recommend this book!


Review: The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April HenryThe Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 11, 2013
Pages: 213
Format: Hardcover
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.

In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive.

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die was a twisted, mind-blowing mystery that kept me guessing until the very end.

In true April Henry fashion, the book starts right in the thick of things. There’s no 50-100-page set-up, where we have to wait and wonder what will happen. The book opens with the main character, Cady, waking up in the cabin. I actually really love this about April Henry. Sometimes, those first 50-100 pages can be really slow and boring while we’re waiting for something to happen. And knowing something WILL happen, I find sometimes I tend to overlook that 50-page set-up because I’m waiting for the action to start. I can’t speak for other readers, but that’s just me. So not having to deal with that is pretty refreshing.

Cady (who’s name we don’t learn until half-way through the book), was really intriguing. With amnesia, she doesn’t remember who she is, where she is, who is after her or why. This puts not only the character in the dark, but also the reader. Just as Cady didn’t know who to trust, neither did we. Every time she made the decision to do something or trust someone, my heart was in my throat because I always wondered, can she really trust this person?

We, as the reader, are also given two possible theories for what happened, how Cady came to be in that cabin, who was trying to kill her and why. It isn’t until almost the end of the book that we learn which theory is true and, until then, the back-and-forth on what was happening almost made me dizzy with confusion, doubt and worry. It added to the question of who could be trusted and made me second-guess everything Cady decided to do.

I liked Ty a lot, but I never fully trusted him, thanks to the two different theories and wondering which to believe. But he seemed kind and caring through it all. I don’t know how believable it was that he would help a total stranger in the way he did, but we were given an explanation as to why he did what he did and I guess I can understand where he was coming from.

I loved the timeline and the big reveal at the end. It wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. Plus, just as April Henry begins her books right in the thick of things, she also ends them abruptly – not in a bad way, but I got to a point where I had 13 pages left and had no idea how she would fit everything into that last 13 pages and still wrap the plot up nicely, but she did! I don’t read many thrillers, and it was kind of fun being on the edge of my seat the whole time, trying to guess what would happen and how it would end.

Overall, just as I was glad Girl, Stolen was my first April Henry book, I’m so glad I chose The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die as my second April Henry book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved seeing the similarities and differences from the first book to the second. I’m also really excited to pick up my third April Henry book because I’ve come to expect the kind of thrills, twists and turns in her books that will leave me feeling satisfied with the ending. I definitely recommend this book!


Review: Girl, Stolen by April Henry

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Girl, Stolen by April HenryGirl, Stolen by April Henry
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on December 1, 2010
Pages: 213
Format: Hardcover
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of the car while her stepmom fills a prescription for antibiotics. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, the car is being stolen.

Griffin hadn't meant to kidnap Cheyenne and once he finds out that not only does she have pneumonia, but that she's blind, he really doesn't know what to do. When his dad finds out that Cheyenne's father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes--now there's a reason to keep her.

How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare?

Girl, Stolen was a fast-paced, suspenseful read that kept me on the edge of my seat.

I loved the main character, Cheyenne. She was strong, brave and resilient, even when it seemed like there was no hope. She was sick with pneumonia and blind, but she never let those things slow her down. If anything, she used them to her advantage. At times, she used these things to seem weak and helpless so she could lie in wait and attempt to escape. At other times, she used them to try and beg for her release. She never gave up hope and never gave up fighting.

I wish I could say I liked Griffin but my feelings are mixed. He claimed he never meant to kidnap Cheyenne, he just wanted the car. He claimed his dad would fix things and let her go. And at times, Griffin is kind and sympathetic to Cheyenne. He even protects her at times. But at every turn, he seemed to make stupid decisions. The issue of grand theft auto aside, he was stupid to steal the car so impulsively. He was stupid not to let Cheyenne go before he got home to his dad. So I really don’t feel bad for him and I can’t fully like him, despite the few kind things he did do. I will say that he was pretty innocent, in the ignorant sense of the word. He was young and scared and didn’t think about the consequences of his actions. He did kind of redeem himself in the end, though.

I also have mixed feelings on the relationship between Cheyenne and Griffin. On the one hand, trying to develop a friendship with your capture can inspire feelings of sympathy with said capture, making the capture see his victim more as a person than just an annoyance that needs to be “dealt” with. At times, Cheyenne tried to make Griffin realize that she was a person, she was sick and – because of her blindness – she wouldn’t tell the cops anything if they just let her go. At other times, she tried to elicit sympathy from him, by saying she was sick and needed her antibiotics. So I can understand the motivation behind it. On the other hand, I don’t know any kidnap victim who would get THAT friendly with the person who kidnapped her.

I definitely felt, though, that I learned a lot about being blind from the discussions Cheyenne had with Griffin. It felt educational and insightful. I didn’t feel like it was being thrown in the reader’s face or shoved down their throat, as some books that try to teach a lesson tend to do, even if not intentionally. At the same time, I didn’t feel like Cheyenne being blind was the main point in the story. It wasn’t her being blind that made me (as the reader) feel bad for her – it was that she was kidnapped and she was sick with pneumonia and scared.

The only part where Cheyenne being blind really played a factor was the end. I need to be SO vague here so as not to spoil you guys, but her being blind and not knowing what was going on also put the reader in the dark, making it more scary and suspenseful. I definitely started crying in fear and worry a few times.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I couldn’t put it down because I was desperate to see how it ended. I would absolutely recommend this book. I have four of April Henry’s books but have only read this one and I must say, I’m definitely glad it was my first April Henry book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it makes me very excited to dive right into the next one!