Winged Reviews A young adult book blog for those a little bit older.

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The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. PearsonThe Kiss of Deception
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Date: July 2014
489 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
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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.

The Kiss of Deception took me 10 months to read. Yep, that’s right. I began reading it in September 2015 but only just finished it July 2016. This wasn’t because it was a bad book at all, slow but not bad. The reason why it took me so long is because I have been in a big reading slump since September 2015. I’d read a book and then be in a slumpy mood again and it has been the worst but I think I’m really beginning to come out of it now!

By November, I’d got half way through this book (about page 200ish I think!) before putting it down, however little did I know that once the book hits page 300, that’s when it really gets interesting! After seeing my friend Christine was reading, I thought I’d join her once she’d got up to the page I was on. She sprinted ahead of me, but told me how much better it got throughout, and this really spurred me on to read it!

To give you the general jist of things, The Kiss of Deception is about a girl who is to marry a prince, which is more of a political alliance than anything else between two kingdoms. In short, the princess does not want to marry the prince, whom she has never met, and so she runs away, but an assassin is sent to kill her, and the prince goes off to find her.

This story is quite unique as we have Lia who is our main character, the assassin and the prince. We are given two names; Rafe and Kaden. These are the names for the assassin and the prince but have fun trying to guess who is who because you don’t find out until towards the end. I kept thinking I knew who was who but in the end I just gave up as I had no clue!

Lia is a fab leading lady and is such a strong character throughout this book. In fact, there were quite a few strong, independent ladies in this book which was so great. I liked having Lia guide us through this book, however at times the story was quite slow and so I did then find her a bit boring, oops. But other than that, I thought she was great to follow. What I liked about Lia which I have mentioned is her independence, this girl does not need a man, though there is a bit of friendship and love thrown into the mix with this book. As a girl who has grown up with all brothers and no sisters, I feel that this really contributed to her character, making her a lot stronger.

The plot is one that flows really nicely and is a pretty great idea. I do really like the uniqueness that this book has with the not knowing of who is the prince and who is the assassin – I think that’s a great touch. Though I did find this book was quite slow and steady, I suppose it makes sense considering it is part of three-book series. As I mentioned earlier, the slowness of it in parts really was a bit of a killer for me, as I was already slipping into a slump and the pace of this book didn’t really help. But thinking about it, the slow pace between the middle of this book almost reflects the sort of life the princess is living after running away. Personally, I think that if I’d just kept reading, I probably would not have found it so slow, but unfortunately I did. In comparison to the middle of the book though, both start and finish were pretty fast paced!

The romance, friendship and family aspect in this book were not too heavily done. The friendship between Lia and one of the ladies, Pauline was really lovely to see. The connection that Lia had with her brothers, especially her brother Walther was great to read about, I enjoyed having this family element to add to this book. The romance as well wasn’t too bad either – there was a slight love triangle I felt, but not too much of one. The romance wasn’t too pushy and I didn’t feel like it really overpowered the story itself.

All in all, though I put it down half way through and didn’t return back to it for literally months, I liked it, but really began to enjoy it after hitting the page 300 mark. I do think that this could probably have been condensed just a slight bit more, however you never know what bits may become important to the future books. I’m looking forward to making a start on the next book in this series, The Heart of Betrayal and finally finishing it with the newly released The Beauty of Darkness.

4 Stars

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His Royal Secret Duology by Lilah Pace

His Royal Secret Duology by Lilah Pace

His Royal Secret Duology by Lilah PaceHis Royal Secret
Date: July 19th, 2016
185 pages
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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James, the handsome, cosmopolitan Prince of Wales, is used to being in the public eye. But he's keeping a king-sized secret...James, next in line for the throne, is gay.

He’s been able to hide his sexual orientation with the help of his best friend and beard, Lady Cassandra. Sometimes he feels like a coward for not coming out, but he daren’t risk losing the crown. If he did, the succession would fall on his deeply troubled younger sister, Princess Amelia. To protect her, James is willing to live a lie.

While on holiday, he meets Benjamin Dahan—a rugged international reporter with a globe-trotting, unattached life—who catches far more than James's eye. And when Ben is transferred to London, it seems fate may finally be smiling on James.

But what began as a torrid fling grows into something far more intimate and powerful. Soon James will have decide who he is, what he wants from life and love, and what he’s willing to sacrifice for the truth...

This is quite the fairy tale m/m romance! I first read His Royal Secret back in July but waited to review it and His Royal Favorite together as it really is one story. The main focus is on James, Prince of Wales, who is unhappily in the closet due to his concerns regarding how much of a tailspin his sexuality would throw both the monarchy and his family in were it to be known. He has a number of decent reasons for this, ranging from a mentally ill younger sibling who does not want to inherit, a scheming uncle who does, and worries over what kind of stance The Church of England will take and how that will affect public support. Beyond all that, James as lived a very privileged but undeniably controlled and limited life in preparation for becoming king, loss of the crown would make the loss of a normal youth feel a waste in so many ways and he is a both tender and steely young man who takes the duty he was raised for seriously. On a trip to Kenya is encounters globe-trotting reporter Benjamin Dahan and their clandestine affair is the center of the first book. Since their coming together was with the original understanding that no one was to ever know, and that it would have an end date, the relationship in the first book is more physical than emotional. Especially on the part of Ben, as he typically avoids relationships after having a very negative, but impactful, one in his youth. Everything changes when James makes the decision to come out publicly and Ben has to either accept that the affair is over or face the limelight. The only real drawback I felt the first book had was that it did feel almost entirely sexual at times, but that was also a reflection of the fact that, at that point, out of necessity on the part of James (who knew he wished he could have a real relationship) and unwillingness for more from Ben, it was all they agreed to.

his royal favorite

His Royal Favorite (book #2) by contrast is all about making a relationship work and I absolutely loved it! Here we go on a journey with two men who, it can be fairly said, have never been in a real relationship before. Throw in that one of them is a member of the royal family and the other has never had any interest (and in most cases respect) for said institution as well as a media, family, and  public reacting in their own ways and you have a recipe for tension that runs fairly high for most of the book. While poor Ben is fairly miserable during a lot of this,  probably my biggest surprise was how funny I found this half of the story to be! Lilah Pace has another duology plus a novella that came out last year that I loved, but that was much darker and didn’t really have any laugh-out-loud moments for me. His Royal Secret didn’t either, then all of a sudden I start reading book two and wonder when this woman got so funny!!!! I literally laughed out loud at least a dozen times during this book, mostly just funny turns of phrase and ways of describing things, but it really helped ease the tension as well as fit tonally with how absurd aspects of royal life would come across to someone previously on the outside. I also felt genuine emotion of a very high degree when James gave his coming out speech to the press. I wanted to jump into the book and hug him for how perfect it was. *sniff* The epilogue is a good length and one of the most satisfying I have read (bonus points for that Freddy Eynsford-Hill reference! :))

This duology is perfect if you are looking for a romance that is heart-warming and charming while also taking the reader on an interesting modern what-if  scenario.

 

5 Stars

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Event Report: V.E. Schwab in Waterstones Birmingham

Event Report: V.E. Schwab in Waterstones Birmingham

Event Report

I met V. E. Schwab on Thursday 4th of August at Waterstones Birmingham and it was fabulous. This was my first author event and signing in 3 years so let’s just say going to author events is pretty new to me. I was so nervous before going, however my friend Christine had met her the day before and told me how lovely she was, so that helped a bit, but also made me more nervous because what do you even say when you meet an author? Well, I was about to find out what exactly would come out of my mouth when I actually was stood in front of her!

The event started at 6:30pm, and started off with a moderator asking her different questions about the book This Savage Song (which I’m 100 pages through and it’s pretty good so far!) as well as her other publications. It was really insightful as Victoria spoke about her characters and how she doesn’t think of them as characters, but as actual people. She also talked about how she always knows how a story is going to end, so she almost works back from that – like looking at who they are now (end of the book) and who they were before (start of book). In the Q&A, she talked about her new book which sounds so interesting and unlike anything I’ve ever heard of before, as well as talking about how if a new idea springs to mind, she lets it sit on the back burner as she only works on one project at a time. When she is finished and ready, she then goes back to the idea and by that time she’s let it simmer and become a fuller story.

We also did a quiz which tbh, I was so worried it was going to be spoilery as I have only read A Darker Shade of Magic so far out of her books, so I really didn’t want to have any of the other books spoiled! After that, we had the signing! I met two lovely people at the event so I waited in line with them however because of my train I had to be pushed to the front of the line which I felt so rude doing! I got all of my books signed, including Vicious which I bought there, and I got TSS personalised as I bought a signed copy of it when I was in New York at the beginning of July. Victoria was really lovely, I mentioned that I missed her by a day in NY, and that we both have the exact same first and middle name which is pretty cool! I then asked how to get the creative juices flowing and where she plots/writes. She said about how she keeps on at a project, even if a shiny new idea pops up. She also said she plots on paper but drafts on computer, which I really think I might do more of. I’ve started plotting and wrote my first chapter of a book, and I did find the first bit of plotting to be so much easier on paper!

After my quick chat, I grabbed a picture before she told me ‘go go, don’t miss your train!’ so with that, I power walked all the way to the train station and hoped on my train with 10 minutes to spare! I wish I could have asked about her calendar system in more detail, but perhaps next time!

Have you ever been to an author event, or met Victoria Schwab? I’m already looking forward to my next one!

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It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

It Ends With Us by Colleen HooverIt Ends With Us
Publisher: Atria Books
Date: August 2, 2016
384 pages
Genres: Contemporary
Buy the BookGoodreads

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

I’ve read quite a few of Colleen Hoover’s stories, some have been hits for me and others misses. I didn’t go into this with a lot of expectations and now that I’ve read it I’m not certain how detailed I should be. This book is an experience, a very painful one. It succeeds at bringing you inside a situation most only observe from the outside. Once there you may not understand why this is happening any better than the characters do, but you will have trouble not feeling their confusion, betrayal, and how miserable a decision can be to make even when it is clearly the only sane one. No one is black and white here, it would be easier to judge and write them off if they were. Instead I was left with compassion, deep sorrow, and satisfaction at seeing the main character, Lily, make a choice that serves as an example of strength, love, and good judgement.

This story does not follow the line that any of her previous books do, and I think that may be really important for some readers to know ahead of time. If you tend to go into a book and start shipping right away… don’t do that here. Romance is not the point this go-round, nor is wish-fulfillment. It is a story about trauma, relationships, and consequences. I would say it has an important message, but that doesn’t feel like the write word. It takes you on a very up and down journey and I suppose the message is all in how you process it.

Hoovers novels are always full of humor and lovable characters and this one is no exception! There were many high moments, scenes full of laughter and the sweeping rush of falling in love – which made the soul crushing reality of this book that much more painful and yet also helps put you in a place of empathy as opposed to judgement. I would definitely read the authors note at the end once you have finished, clearly this was a very personal story and I think you will miss out on some valuable perspective without it. One of Hoover’s best books and totally singular in tone in comparison with her other works. Highly recommended.

4 Stars

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