Chrissi Cupboard Month

All posts in the Chrissi Cupboard Month category

Daughter Of Smoke And Bone – Laini Taylor

Published June 11, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

What did I think?:

Unpopular opinion time! Okay, if you liked Daughter Of Smoke And Bone, you might want to give my review a miss. Just putting it out there. I really wanted to like this book. I mean, REALLY wanted to. It had so much hype when it first came out, I love a great fantasy story with angels and monsters – what was there not to like? Well….I’ll get round to that in more depth a bit later but unfortunately this series is definitely not for me. I should have listened to my sister Chrissi @ Chrissi Reads, (Note to self: I should ALWAYS listen to my sister!). She told me: “I don’t think you’re going to like this book!” and I still put it on one of my Chrissi Cupboard Months determined that the Goodreads average rating of 4.03 meant that of course I would like it. She was right, I was wrong. Obviously I never like to write a more critical review without mentioning the positive aspects but generally, this was a really disappointing read for me. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, the romance made me cross and it all just felt a bit too vague and airy-fairy for me personally. Nope, sorry. Just can’t do it.

Laini Taylor, author of the Daughter Of Smoke And Bone series. Who will become my best friend after this review. Or er…probably not. I’m sorry Laini!

The story follows our seventeen year old female protagonist, Karou, an art student in Prague and errand girl for her demon foster parent called Brimstone. Her main responsibilities consist of collecting teeth for some strange, unknown purpose although Karou is aware of their potential to grant wishes. Meanwhile, in this odd other world called Elsewhere where Karou completes her tasks, scorched hand-prints are appearing on the portals which Karou uses to travel back to Brimstone, effectively closing her means of returning home. Then she meets a strange young man called Akiva and not only do they fall dangerously in love but it unlocks certain secrets about Karou’s own life that will have a staggering impact on the rest of her life.

The Chimera, a creature from Greek mythology that also lends its name to some of the half human/half animal creatures in Daughter Of Smoke And Bone.

Oh, this book should have been right up my street and that’s why I was so desperate to read it in the first place! Angels and demons, creatures taken from Greek mythology….it really should have worked and I’m genuinely surprised that for me, it just didn’t. The weird thing is, it had so much promise in the beginning. I loved the author’s descriptions of Prague, her lyrical writing style, the mystery of Karou’s parentage, the strange lands and the enemies that Karou has to face and what on earth is the teeth thing all about?! I was intrigued, I read it and prepared to get completely invested and then…..well then, it just fell apart a little bit with the introduction of our male lead, Akiva.

I didn’t enjoy the romance in this novel at all. Okay, so one minute, Karou is a brave, fiesty female who goes on dangerous missions just to retrieve some teeth (yes, I know how odd this sounds!) and the minute she meets Akiva she turns to molten lava. I mean, really? I was just starting to get interested in her character and then she has to go and do something like that and thoroughly disappoint me. Insta-love, star-crossed lovers that shouldn’t be together, you get the whole she-bang and I’m sorry, it just didn’t work for me. It reminded me far too much of the typical, cliched YA novel with a sickly-sweet immediate romance that wasn’t believable in the slightest (even for a fantasy novel!) and frankly, doesn’t cut the mustard with me anymore. I’m afraid from that instant I was resolved to dislike this story and unfortunately, it didn’t get much better from there.

Insta-Love, exit right left here if you please!

The sign of a good novel for me is when you can remember specific scenes/events, even quotes if you form a deep connection with the characters or the writing. Well, I’ve been musing about writing this review for a while as I’ve been a bit worried about exactly what I’m going to say but I can barely remember any scene in detail in Daughter Of Smoke And Bone. I have a very vague outline of characters, people flying and half-human and half-animal creatures but as to what happened in the end? I’m a bit ashamed to say I can’t remember. Unfortunately, this novel hasn’t left its mark on me and sadly, I won’t be continuing on with the series.

However, I would love to hear from you if you’ve read this novel and loved it or if you felt the same way as me. I may not have enjoyed this story but I’m sure other people will do. Why else would it have such a strong rating on Goodreads? As a good friend once told me – different strokes for different folks!!  😀

Would I recommend it?:

Probably not.

Star rating (out of 5):

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June 2018 – Chrissi Cupboard Month #9

Published June 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

It’s June, and that means….drum roll please…it’s Chrissi Cupboard Month!

Hello everyone! Every other month I alternate what I’m reading quite specifically between three things. It’s either Real Book Month (in February and August) where I try and read all the physical books just waiting to be devoured on my bookshelves. (and that’s a lot!) Then there’s Book Bridgr/NetGalley/ARC Month (April and October) where I try and catch up on all those ARC/review copies sent to me by authors, publishers, NetGalley and Book Bridgr. (also a lot!) Finally, there’s Chrissi Cupboard Month (June and December) where I try my best to get through all the books my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads lends me (you’ve guessed it – there’s lots!). So this is what I’ll be reading for the month of June:

1.) Behind Closed Doors – B.A. Paris

What’s it all about?:

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

2.) Shtum – Jem Lester

What’s it all about?:

Powerful, darkly funny and heart-breaking, Shtum is a story about fathers and sons, autism, and dysfunctional relationships.

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point. His ten-year-old son Jonah has severe autism and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope.

When Ben and Emma fake a separation – a strategic decision to further Jonah’s case in an upcoming tribunal – Ben and Jonah move in with Georg, Ben’s elderly father. In a small house in North London, three generations of men – one who can’t talk; two who won’t – are thrown together.

3.) How Not To Disappear – Clare Furniss

What’s it all about?:

Hattie’s summer isn’t going as planned. Her two best friends have abandoned her: Reuben has run off to Europe to “find himself” and Kat’s in Edinburgh with her new girlfriend. Meanwhile Hattie is stuck babysitting her twin siblings and dealing with endless drama around her mum’s wedding.

Oh, and she’s also just discovered that she’s pregnant with Reuben’s baby…

Then Gloria, Hattie’s great-aunt who no one previously knew even existed comes crashing into her life. Gloria’s fiercely independent, rather too fond of a gin sling and is in the early stages of dementia.

Together the two of them set out on a road trip of self-discovery – Gloria to finally confront the secrets of her past before they are wiped from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future.

4.) The Last Time We Say Goodbye – Cynthia Hand

What’s it all about?:

There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

5.) My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True Story by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

What’s it all about?:

A comical, fantastical and witty re-imagining of the Tudor world, perfect for fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger – and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

 

As always, I’m really excited for all these books. My sister knows what I will like (and what I will avoid like the plague!) so I’m confident in her choices and I can’t wait to get to all of these. I have been especially looking forward to How Not To Disappear for years now, I’ve heard great things about My Lady Jane and Chrissi told me I absolutely HAD to put the B.A. Paris book on my list for this month. 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What should I read first? Let me know in the comments!

If You Find Me – Emily Murdoch

Published May 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

What happens in the woods, stays in the woods. . .

Carey is keeping a terrible secret. If she tells, it could destroy her future. If she doesn’t, will she ever be free?

For almost as long as she can remember, Carey has lived in a camper van in the heart of the woods with her drug-addicted mother and six-year-old sister, Jenessa. Her mother routinely disappears for weeks at a time, leaving the girls to cope alone. Survival is Carey’s only priority – until strangers arrive and everything changes . . .

What did I think?:

If You Find Me was another book pushed onto me by my sister, Chrissi Reads and I included it in one of my bi-yearly Chrissi Cupboard Months. I’ve mentioned before when she recommends that I read a book, I really should listen because she is preparing me for something amazing but I really wasn’t prepared for how outstanding this novel was. Warning – it deals with some VERY tough and emotive subjects, including child neglect/abuse so if you’re particularly sensitive to those subjects, this might not be the book for you. However, I was surprised by how much hope and joy filled these pages, despite the horrific past that our main character and her sister have had to suffer. Additionally, although some people have criticised the “tied up in a bow,” ending, I thought it was the perfect way to wrap up a heart-breaking yet optimistic story.

Our female lead is a fifteen year old girl called Carey who lives with her younger sister, Jenessa (Nessa) in a camper van in the middle of the woods with their drug addict mother. Carey is responsible for all of her younger sister’s care and her mother disappears for long periods of time, sometimes days, occasionally weeks meaning that Carey must look after, feed and entertain a little girl who hasn’t known anything different from the life that they lead.

One day, their mother has been gone for a particularly long time and strangers arrive to take the two girls away, back to a family of their biological father, stepmother and a stepsister who have been living their lives completely ignorant of the trials that Carey and Nessa have had to suffer. Both girls must now learn to live in a world where school is mandatory, large groups of people and noises can be terrifying and they must get to know a complete stranger who calls himself their father. Meanwhile, Carey is hiding a terrible secret about their time in the woods, something that no-one must find out. Yet people are starting to ask questions, especially as to why Nessa remains mute and refuses to speak. What secret could be so dangerous that they are petrified to tell another living soul?

As I’ve alluded to in the beginning of my review, this book goes to very dark places and I don’t think you’ll be able to read this story without being moved in some way. For me, it was a very peculiar experience. The reader only sees a snippet of their time in the woods, they are rescued quite early on in the novel but what I saw was seriously enough for me. I felt dread in the pit of my stomach, that horrible lump in your throat when you try not to cry and at times, I thought I would have to take a break. It’s not explicit in the slightest, let me assure you. Although I was horribly upset at the situation Carey and Nessa found themselves in, I think I was really affected by the relationship between the siblings. I’m the oldest of three children myself and as you’re probably aware, I’m very close to my little sister. Carey’s relationship with Nessa very much reminded me of the way I feel towards Chrissi – hugely protective, almost as if I was a bear and she was my cub! (Chrissi’s so going to laugh at this….).

In all seriousness, Carey is like the mother that Nessa has never had and I really felt awful for her, having to grow up well before her time and take on all that responsibility of the care-giver that SHOULD have been down to their mother. This is also reflected when she is taken away from the situation, the adult way of speaking she uses, the way she tries to fit in at school and how she reacts to her father and new family. Carey has always had to be the strong one and protect Nessa, despite the feelings she has herself which are often hidden as a way of shielding her sister. It broke my heart at times how much she tried to hold it together and be resilient. I just wanted to give her a hug!

Most of this novel is based after Carey and Nessa escape the woods and although I wasn’t sure I was going to connect with this part I was incredibly wrong. I loved seeing their journey, how they adapt to “normal life,” the moments when they realise that they might be safe and no-one will hurt them again and, of course, the revelations of the huge secret and burden that the girls are carrying with them. This is a stunning, emotional and powerful piece of writing that was difficult to read at points but so very rewarding. Wait a minute…it’s a debut novel?! I will certainly be looking out for other books by Emily Murdoch and indeed reading anything else she happens to write.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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The Last Beginning (The Next Together #2) – Lauren James

Published January 20, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The epic conclusion to Lauren James’ debut The Next Together about love, destiny and time travel.

Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation?

For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future.

What did I think?:

The Last Beginning is the second book in Lauren James’ wonderful science fiction/time travel duology and after the absolute gorgeousness of the first novel, The Next Together, this book was a must-read that I knew I had to get to very soon. I think I mentioned in my first review that this series really benefits from being such a beautiful mixture of different genres. First of all, it’s young adult fiction with a hint of romance. Then there’s the historical detail gifted to us from the moments when our characters travel through time. Finally, a spattering of mystery, some nods to science and technology and a mere pinch of dystopia with an LGBT element makes this series so appealing to a variety of fiction lovers. Was I worried that it might suffer from second book syndrome? Well, a little bit but to be honest, I’m not sure if that perceived effect of a second book not living up to expectations is as common as I once thought as I’ve read quite a few second novels now that are on a perfectly equal footing with the first. This is definitely one of them.

If you’ve not read the first book in the series yet, I won’t spoil things too much for you but all you need to know about this book is it is told from the perspective of the daughter Clove, of the main characters in The Next Together, Katherine and Matt. Her parents promised to come back for her when she was a baby after they dealt with a very sticky situation of their own but they have never returned. At the beginning of this novel, Clove has just found out the truth behind her parentage and has been given a lot of old papers and letters belonging to her parents. She is determined to solve the mystery behind why Katherine and Matt keep being reincarnated, appearing in different periods of history and falling in love with each other in each separate period of time. This involves Clove also travelling back and forward in time, learning about her parents, finding love for herself and discovering valuable lessons about why certain things in history should never be messed with.

The Last Beginning wins top marks from me for originality, an inventive and thrilling plot and like the first book, a fascinating reading experience visually speaking, with the author using emails, messenger conversations, letters and diary entries which only enhanced my enjoyment of the narrative overall. I’ve mentioned in countless reviews now that I don’t like romance to be “sickly sweet.” Well, I’m happy to announce that once again, I found the relationship between Katherine and Matt to be honest, funny and heart-warming, a pure joy to read about. I also enjoyed that we got to see new relationships developing between Jen and Tom who raised Clove as their daughter and Clove and Ella. which were just as adorable. If this book was a race at the Olympics it would be the relay. I sprinted through it lightning quick but time and time again I kept getting passed those magical batons that changed the story in ways I would have never expected. I love being surprised and I never anticipated the directions Lauren James took me as a reader. I can’t say anything else except if you love young adult fiction and are in the mood for something delightfully different, read this series!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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The Last Beginning by Lauren James is the fourth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

 

The Haunting – Alex Bell

Published January 18, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Some curses grow stronger with time…
People say that all Cornish inns are haunted, but the Waterwitch’s history is particularly chilling. Built from the salvaged timber of a cursed ship, the guest house’s dark secrets go further back than anyone can remember.
Emma is permanently confined to a wheelchair after an accident at the Waterwitch which took place when she was ten. Seven years later, she decides to return to the place where the awful event occurred. But the ancient inn still has its ghosts, and one particular spirit is more vengeful than ever…
A chilling new title in the Red Eye horror series from the author of Frozen Charlotte.

What did I think?:

I’ve been a fan of Alex Bell for a little while now and have really enjoyed her adult reads including The Ninth Circle and Jasmyn, which I read in my pre-blogging days and of course, her relatively recent release of Frozen Charlotte with Red Eye publishers. The Haunting is her second book for Red Eye and once I realised that it involved something “witchy,” I was completely sold. I’m loving Alex’s foray into young adult fiction, particularly horror as it’s something I used to read almost exclusively when I was a teenager. When I read things like Frozen Charlotte and The Haunting I’m reminded of the Point Horror books released in the 1990’s which I used to adore and spend all of my pocket money on. As a result, reading her books written in this vein are incredibly nostalgic and I find myself just as gripped by the narrative as when I used to read books under the duvet with my torch in the middle of the night.

The Haunting follows our disabled protagonist Emma, confined to a wheelchair after a horrific accident as she goes to visit her sick grandmother in Cornwall. Her grandmother owns an inn called The Waterwitch and begs Emma not to return there, swearing that it is haunted and therefore dangerous but when Emma sees a mysterious light in the inn one evening, she is determined to investigate with her trusty assistance dog, Bailey. Reunited with her old friend Jem and his sister Shell, strange and creepy things start happening at The Waterwitch and Emma begins to realise that one particular spirit has a mission she is resolved to carry out, which could prove deadly for anyone that stands in her way.

As with most thrillers/mysteries I don’t want to go much more into the plot than I already have for fear of spoilers. I really loved the whole atmosphere of this novel, including our plucky characters (and I’m always a sucker for a brave dog too!). It was wonderful to see a protagonist that was not able-bodied and I appreciated her unwavering need for answers, returning to the place where her accident occurred and facing things that would have most ordinary people running for the hills! Alex Bell sets the scene beautifully with an inn that is built from the remains of a shipwreck of the same name, The Waterwitch, to tell a story that will give you chills and have you checking the darkest corners of your room before you go to sleep. It’s delightfully eerie but the perfect level of fright for teenagers without giving them nightmares so for that I heartily recommend it. Finally, I really appreciated a young adult piece of fiction that wasn’t all about the romance, had friendship and family much deeper at its core and wasn’t afraid to travel to some very dark places. I can’t really compare it to Frozen Charlotte if you’ve read that – in my eyes, it’s just as uncanny and definitely has the potential to raise a few goosebumps.

For my interview with Alex Bell, please see my post HERE

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Conspiracy Of Blood And Smoke (Prisoner Of Night And Fog #2) – Anne Blankman

Published January 16, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The gripping sequel to Prisoner of Night and Fog. The epic tale of one young woman racing to save the man she loves during one of history’s darkest hours. For fans of The Book Thief and Beneath a Scarlet Sky.’

It’s terrifying and incredible to think how much of this story is true’ Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity on Prisoner of Night and Fog 

Gretchen Muller has three rules for her new life:

1. Blend into the surroundings
2. Don’t tell anyone who you really are
3. Never, ever go back to Germany

Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: she used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. When she made an enemy of her former friends, she fled Munich for Oxford with her love, Daniel Cohen. But then a telegram calls Daniel back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside down when he is accused of murder.

To save Daniel, Gretchen must return to her homeland and somehow avoid capture by the Nazi elite. As they work to clear Daniel’s name, they discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and escape in time – or will Hitler find them first?

What did I think?:

Conspiracy Of Blood And Smoke is the second book in the Prisoner Of Night And Fog duology and if you like young adult historical fiction with a strong focus on Germany just prior to World War II, this is definitely the series for you. I’ve always had an interest in that period of history and love to indulge myself in a mixture of fiction and non-fiction so when I thoroughly enjoyed Prisoner Of Night And Fog recently, I was determined to find out what happened to Gretchen and Daniel in the follow up novel. Now, there’s always a worry for me that the second book in a series isn’t going to match the first but luckily Anne Blankman has written another stellar outing for our star-crossed lovers and it was wonderful to be back in Gretchen’s world once more, particularly when she returns to 1930’s Germany. The research the author has done into this period of time shines through in a believable, frightening and super atmospheric story that I devoured in about two sittings.

I’ll try to be kind of vague for those of you that haven’t read the first novel in the series yet but basically all you need to know is that Gretchen, former pet and golden girl of Adolf Hitler is forced to return to Germany with her Jewish boyfriend, Daniel after he receives a telegram in England that makes him worry for his friends and families lives. They return back to Germany in absolute secrecy and in disguise as Daniel is now a wanted criminal and Hitler is obviously very sore at the fact that his former Nazi protégée Gretchen is now in love with a Jewish man. Being discovered would mean certain death for both of our protagonists but they are determined to first of all, clear Daniel’s name for a murder he never committed, and to expose Hitler for the psychopath he is suggested to be to the British authorities before he can have the chance of ruling Germany and starting a war.

This series was recommended to me by my wonderful sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads and I literally jumped at the chance to read it when she told me the synopsis. You might know that I’m not the biggest fan of romance but for some reason, Gretchen and Daniel’s romance just touches my heart. I’m not sure if it was because she was raised by Hitler to hate all Jewish people and when she eventually met Daniel, she realised that Hitler’s propaganda was completely false and incredibly dangerous. I have to say, I am a bit of a sucker for a Romeo/Juliet type love story and this is exactly what this relationship feels like. However, I also adore that the author challenges normal gender stereotypes (especially in 1930’s Britain/Germany) by making our lead female protagonist quite the brave heroine that thinks nothing of risking her own life in order to save Daniel.

Another thing I love about this series is that not everything is tied up with a bow. We know as a reader, there isn’t necessarily going to be a happy ending, we realise from history that Hitler DOES end up becoming Chancellor of Germany and obviously, we understand that World War II did happen and a huge number of people lost their lives. The “bad guy,” cannot be vanquished in this case but Gretchen and Daniel do manage to carry out a great deal of good that alerts certain individuals to exactly how dangerous in fact Hitler really is. This novel feels for me like one big adventure with such fast-paced action that at times it almost left me breathless. Expect the unexpected, suspend your disbelief slightly and just enjoy the evocative world that Anne Blankman has created.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Conspiracy Of Blood And Smoke by Anne Blankman is the third book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest for the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

The Heart Of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) – Mary E. Pearson

Published December 6, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save Lia’s life, her 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 savages. Now that she lives among 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.

What did I think?:

The first book in the Remnant Chronicles, The Kiss of Deception, was a huge surprise for me a couple of years ago in that I was shocked how much I enjoyed a novel quite heavy on the romance side of things. If you’ve followed my blog for a while you might remember I tend to roll my eyes/turn my nose up a little bit when things get a bit romantic. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy love in novels, I do of course but it has to be done in just the right way otherwise things can get a little bit cringey. The Kiss Of Deception really spoke to my cynical little heart and I kid you not, I was practically swooning at the sweetness of it all. My worry with The Heart Of Betrayal is that it wold suffer from the dreaded second book syndrome and my expectations for the series were already sky high. Whilst it was not a five star read like its predecessor, it was still a brilliant read and I’m excited to see how the story is going to conclude in the final novel, The Beauty Of Darkness.

So, trying to avoid major spoilers, Lia has become a prisoner in Venda, under the rule of the dangerous Komizar, taken there by a man she thought she trusted. Her magical gift has been discovered and the people of Venda begin to revere her and are delighted by her presence. Meanwhile, Rafe hot-foots it to Venda too in an attempt to rescue Lia, in disguise as the Royal Emissary of Dalbreck to disguise who he really is. Both struggle to maintain their relationship when the memories of their mutual deception threaten to overwhelm them. Lia is also wrestling with her opinion of Kaden who she feels has betrayed her but ultimately, the real test of her strength lies in pacifying and fooling the Komizar of Venda, who develops a rather particular and obsessive interest for her. Set against war, major political upheaval and dastardly plans, Lia must draw on all her resources and make some questionable allies if she is to have any hope of escape.

A lot of people have expressed their thoughts on the love triangle in this series and I’d like to throw my own opinions into the mix. I honestly don’t believe there actually is a love triangle to speak of in this novel – in that the main female protagonist has feelings for both of the male leads in love with her. It is pretty clear to me where Lia’s heart lies and I think she deals with the situation very well. Kaden as a character I have to admit I’m not warming towards and indeed at times I was a little bit frustrated with his thoughts and actions. However, I adore Lia for her determination, pig-headed stubbornness and kindness of heart and there were a number of other secondary characters introduced that I also enjoyed. The Komizar was a fantastic “love to hate him,” villain with such darkness and brutality behind his character that he made for a tantalising reading experience. The world-building as with the first novel was top notch although I would have liked a little more political intrigue and a little more action, rather than all the thrills being concentrated in the final moments of the story. This made for a jaw dropping ending, that’s undeniable but I felt it kind of threw the pace of the entire book off slightly. Saying that, this was a wonderful sequel to The Kiss Of Deception and I’m now one hundred percent invested in this world, the characters and their future, however tenuous that might seem.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0