Friday, March 30, 2018

Review: FIRE by Kristin Cashore

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

After hearing so much that Fire was better than Graceling, I was looking forward to reading it. However, I must be of the minority because I didn’t care much for Fire. I found it to be quite slow with a generic plotline, no subplots, and generally unlikeable characters.

The story of Fire is one you’ve heard many times before: there is unrest in the kingdom, and rebels threaten to kill the king and take his place, so the king’s armies have to fight to defend the throne in a largescale battle in the end. This story takes place about thirty-five years before Graceling in a different land with different characters, so the books don’t have to be read in order. In fact, I think reading Fire first would actually make more sense, seeing as it’s the prequel.

First off, let’s talk about our protagonist, Fire, who reminded me too much of another protagonist I just read about. Katsa and Fire are both strong female leads, but their similarities are more than coincidental; in fact, I was getting frustrated with how much Fire seemed to be based on Katsa. I love strong female characters, but there’s more than one way to write them, and Cashore seemed to fill in the mold with both of these women. Both Katsa and Fire have a superhuman ability, Katsa having the Grace of fighting and Fire having the ability to control people’s thoughts. Both women are well-known in their land for their uniqueness and therefore must be protected from those who wish to do them harm because many men seek to hurt each of them. Both are very closely related to the royal line. Both dote “feminist” qualities and refuse to ever be married even though they each have a lover who they care for dearly and they enjoy the presence of children. Both are viewed as fierce but are actually quite gentle in character. I liked Katsa in Graceling, but I was too irritated with Fire to really care much about her.

Almost all the characters in Fire were so awful that it made for quite the disappointing reading experience. I disliked Leck so much in book one that I wasn’t happy to see him again in book two. I liked getting his backstory in the prologue, but that scene really would have been more impactful in Graceling. Fire’s romantic partner, Archer, is a vile, insufferable man, and I hated him. What a wanker. I don’t know why Fire ever liked him or how she was able to degrade herself to sleep with him for so long. I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a love interest as strongly as I did Archer. Our secondary love interest, Prince Brigan, is so boring, although he is worlds better than Archer as far as character goes. He’s a typical prince with no memorable qualities, and I’ll probably forget about him by next week. Honestly, there are so many unlikeable characters in this book that I just couldn’t wait to finish reading it. I wanted to be done with all of them. The only person I actually liked was the little girl Hanna, and she hardly made any appearances in the story.

Another aspect of the book I didn’t like was the amount of infidelity. I was honestly just disgusted. The only purpose of it was to “further the suspense” by revealing that so-and-so is actually this person’s father, or that character is actually related to this other character. With how often this happened in this book, I’m pretty sure everyone’s related to everyone at this point.

All the big revelations had no bearing on me because I just didn’t care about the characters or where the plot was going. Honestly, Fire could have died and I wouldn’t have been surprised or upset. Life happens. As it is, the book passed quite slowly for me. I had to resort to the audiobook for most of the story because I couldn’t force myself to pick up the physical copy and read. I will say that the narrator did a good job on the audiobook; it was the story itself that I didn’t like.

For some reason, the concept of “monsters” in this land just didn’t sit right with me. It sounded way too immature to be in a young adult book; it’s a concept that would fit better in a children’s story. In the Dells, monsters look just like regular people or animals, but they are brightly colored. For example, you could have a purple rabbit or a blue horse or a green lion. Fire herself is a human monster, as seen by her flame-colored hair. But these creatures don’t act any different from regular humans or regular animals; the only difference is their color. How does that make them monsters?

This book was so heavy on the politics that they became the story. It is easy to guess, very early on, where the plot is going and how it will end. Most of the plot was consumed with war plans and strategies, questioning prisoners, Fire sitting around in the castle. I like political intrigue in my fantasy books, but I don’t like a book that’s entirely based on the politics. There was basically no other story happening.

Overall, I didn’t really care for Fire, and I thought it was too similar to Graceling but a lot weaker. I’m going to give Bitterblue a try because I’m hoping that the story will wrap up nicely with our original characters that I liked much better, but this book really didn’t feel necessary at all.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Review: GRACELING by Kristin Cashore

Rating: 4/5 stars

In the world of the Seven Kingdoms, some people are born with exceptional skills called Graces. These people are called Gracelings, who can have any kind of skill ranging from cooking to fighting to mind reading to eating rocks without getting sick. Our protagonist Katsa is Graced with killing with her bare hands. Because of her competence, she is forced to work for the king, who is also her uncle. He uses her as his personal assassin, sent to deal with anyone that wrongs him across the land. But Katsa is tired of hurting innocent people and listening to his every demand. She decides to team up with Po, a Graced prince from a different kingdom, to do the world some good and escape from her conniving uncle.

The first third of Graceling was pretty slow, not a lot of action or plot happening. I’m actually a bit disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this book more in the beginning. It had been sitting unread on my shelf for nearly ten years, and maybe that wait had hyped it up too much for me. Thankfully, however, once I got a fair way into the story, my outlook turned around and I really started to enjoy it more.

Cashore’s writing was a bit lackluster in this book. Some of her descriptions were clumsy, and lots of the characters’ thoughts were repeated. I actually thought I was rereading earlier pages at times because the words used were almost exactly the same as what was said a few pages back. This made me a little frustrated because I thought the prose could have been a lot more cohesive than it was. This book actually helped me to discover something about myself when it comes to books: even if the storyline is awesome and the world-building is plentiful and the characters are likable, I won’t enjoy the book if the writing is below average and doesn’t flow well. I’ve enjoyed books before with exquisite writing but unforgettable characters and a slow plot. However, books that have all the right elements but lack in quality writing are just hard for me to get through. I thought Graceling would be like this during the whole book, but it was only the beginning that was a struggle. The first third of the book was three stars, the middle third was four stars, and the last third was five stars with a fantastic ending. The writing gradually improved as the story progressed, and I slowly started gaining interest in what was happening.

This book actually felt like an adult fantasy novel in some ways. I know that’s a weird description, but let me explain. What I mean is the level of depth that is put into the world building and character development, and the direction the plot goes, are all things I would expect out of an adult fantasy rather than a young adult fantasy. The only difference is the characters are young here, hence the young adult genre. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this book felt mature, and I liked that. Sometimes young adult fantasies can feel trite or childish, but this one didn’t to me.

I loved the characters in this book. I think my favourite was Bitterblue. When introduced, she was quiet and submissive, but by the end she was strong-willed and she learned to carry herself with confidence. I love to see character arcs like that. Katsa also had a nice progression throughout the story. She discovers her true worth and decides she will not let anyone control her. I loved how she was able to overcome that trial and stay true to herself. And Po was equally as awesome! We need more guys like him in literature. Likewise, Katsa and Po are a great hero/heroine duo. They had a nice friendship that I admired, but what I didn’t care for was the instalove in the beginning. I normally don’t mind, or sometimes even enjoy, a quick romance in books, but in this book, it felt a bit forced. Katsa was angry at Po one day shortly after meeting him, and the very next day she’s riding out of town alone with him, staring into his eyes. This seems sudden, and it’s very obvious where their relationship is going. I would have liked to see more in-between time when their feelings develop. This book is long; there was time for that. Luckily, though, by the end, their relationship had developed and was tested and felt genuine.

I did feel while reading this book like the plot was suffering a bit in the middle of the story. Particularly when they’re in the mountains, I didn’t have a clear idea of what the end goal was. It felt like Katsa and Po had a problem and wanted to fix it, but they had no idea how to do that so they were running from it with no plans beyond just getting away from the situation. That all changed when they arrived at the island, though, and the plot kicked back into full gear. Despite the huge amp up in tension at this point, the resolution felt too rushed for me. I was on edge from the second they arrived on the island, but a few pages later the big conflict was solved, too quickly and easily it seemed. I expected more action and a not-so-simple solution, but it was entertaining to read nonetheless.

Overall, Graceling is an interesting fantasy story with a unique magic system (the Graces). It has great characters, especially some strong female leads. Although it started out slow, it only got better and better, and I’m so glad I finished the story. I can’t wait to see where the companion books take me in the rest of the series because I know it will be an awesome journey.

Monday, March 19, 2018


Rating: 4/5 stars

Colin has dated nineteen girls, and all have them have been named Katherine. But Colin is tired of getting dumped by Katherines, so he takes a post-graduation road trip with his friend Hassan down to Gutshot, Tennessee, a small town in the middle of nowhere, to escape from all the Katherines in his hometown. Here, Colin is able to look back on his nineteen relationships and, being the child prodigy and general smartypants that he is, Colin devises a theorem to determine the length of a relationship, hoping to use it to be able to predict future relationships to avoid getting dumped again.

This story was wonderfully adorable, and I really enjoyed it. I didn't love it like I loved The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns, but I still had a really good time reading it. And it was funny! I was actually laughing out loud at parts.

My favourite part was all the math aspects this book contained. There were diagrams, graphs, equations, and lots of footnotes. This sounds complex, but it wasn't. The book is tailored toward any audience, not just those math-loving people out there (of which I am one). Even though there's no way to actually predict the length of a relationship, Colin's theorem seemed so realistic and believable in the story, and I loved that.

I also really enjoyed all the characters in An Abundance of Katherines. Colin could be whiny at times, but I loved how he was so full of knowledge and just wanted to share all that knowledge with people. I was genuinely interested in what he had to say because I love random tidbits of information, but Hassan was always shutting him down. Granted, he was just trying to help Colin be less "socially awkward," but I thought it was rude sometimes. Otherwise, Hassan was a really neat friend. His character is mostly what made the book funny. As for Lindsey, I liked her a lot too. I'm glad she had the realization about herself that she did at the end of the book. All the characters go through some trials and come out stronger on the other side, and that was nice to see in young adult literature.

Overall, any contemporary reader or John Green fan is sure to love this book. Despite the title alluding to many Katherines in the story, there is not actually that much direct romance in this book. There were, however, many of good messages and morals in this book, and the ending is very satisfying.

"He always had books. Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they'll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back." 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Review: BEATRICE AND VIRGIL by Yann Martel

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

I feel as if this book is a study on taxidermy, but I know it’s not, despite the huge amount of information I learned about taxidermy while reading this. It’s actually about animals and their suffering.

This story is about an author named Henry who receives a letter from a taxidermist who says he needs Henry’s help. Henry travels across town to meet the taxidermist in his shop and becomes engrossed in all his works of taxidermy, finding particular interest in a howler monkey named Virgil that’s perched atop a donkey named Beatrice. The taxidermist presents to Henry a manuscript of a stage play that he wrote, featuring Beatrice and Virgil as its two main characters. The entire novel is spent discussing the play, the taxidermist reading excerpts, and Henry giving critiques and talking about its meaning.

It seems like the play is the actual story, and the narration surrounding the play is Martel telling the readers, through Henry, why the play is symbolic and meaningful, while the actual novel itself lacks meaning. The best part of this book is the play, the parts of it that we readers get to experience. I do NOT mean all the talking about the play, but the actual play itself that I like. It’s the kind of play that could be a work of literature on its own (maybe). (For some reason, the play reminds me of Waiting for Godot, probably intentionally, because Martel does make a reference to Beckett in the book.)

Although most of the writing in the actual book was bland, the passages from the play were lyrical, full of imagery and symbolism. There were sentences of beautiful description, metaphors akin to those in Life of Pi. At one point, we are given a seven-page description of a pear, and it was delightful. The writing style remains similar to what I expected to see from Yann Martel, and that is the main reason I read this book: Life of Pi is one of my favourites, a masterpiece of literature that I will always treasure. Surely an author that creates a work as ethereal as that one will continue to write books that tantalize my senses, but that was not really the case with most of Beatrice and Virgil. It probably doesn’t help that I wasn’t overly interested in the premise of this book and picked it up purely because of the author.

While I did like the play, I didn’t want to spend the whole book reading it and reading about it. It was interesting, but its prevalence caused the book to have no plot and become bogged down in the middle because I just kept waiting for the plot to jump out and start going. One of the problems with this play in Beatrice and Virgil is that, while it is full of symbolism that is deeply meaningful, Martel struggles to communicate why the symbolism is important and what the actual meaning is. I just felt like he tried too hard to write a book to the caliber of Life of Pi, but the book itself wasn’t even what was indicative of his writing style, it was the play in the book.

This novel does a lot of literary things that I’m having trouble explaining. The story from Henry turns into the story from the taxidermist, which turns into the story from Henry again. Not literally but figuratively, and it’s very interesting how all facets of the novel link together to create meaning. I love how the story comes full circle in the end, connecting the taxidermist’s play to Henry’s novel that he tried to publish at the beginning of the story. This is the kind of book I would have liked to read in school so I could ink out all the meaning and get my thoughts to be coherent about it. I’m thinking about many aspects of this book, all related, but I can’t create a picture with them in my head.  (My entire description of this book is becoming very convoluted; I’m sorry.) I think this is the kind of book I need to read twice to really grasp all that it’s trying to communicate with me, but alas, I don’t really want to reread it.

Martel mentions many works of literature in this book, real works by other famous authors, moderns and classics alike. I’m sure if I had read all those pieces of literature prior to reading this book, I would have a deeper grasp of the story and all its nuances of meaning. The only story I was even remotely familiar with was Dante’s Divine Comedy. Beatrice and Virgil were named after characters from Dante’s work (I’m glad the author mentioned the reasoning behind those names and how they relate to The Divine Comedy because I think the reason is significant to the story). Also, the taxidermist makes a comment about traveling through Dante’s Inferno. This comment held significance in the story because the fate of all the characters at the end relates to that idea. I don’t mind when authors reference other authors’ works in their books, but a book needs to be able to be understood on its own without the reader having any knowledge of other books. The references should merely enhance the reading experience, not be the support that an entire book is built on.

I wonder if Beatrice and Virgil is a fictional memoir of Martel in some way. I’ve noticed a number of subtle parallels between protagonist Henry and author Yann Martel. Henry’s son’s name is Theo, and Martel’s son’s name is also Theo. In Beatrice and Virgil, Henry wrote his debut novel about animals and it was a wild success, just like Life of Pi was for Martel. Now Henry is trying to publish his sophomore novel about the Holocaust and the all editors think it stinks. I’m wondering if, like Henry, Martel tried to publish a novel/nonfiction essay about the Holocaust and the idea didn’t work for his publishers, so he wrote this book instead, a book that addresses the Holocaust from an entirely new, subdued perspective. On the surface, this story is primarily about animals, but in the crevices of the story, we see the suffering of animals and the effect it has on them; this is not unlike the effect of the Holocaust on everyone involved. This idea of Martel portraying himself in this work is all purely hypothetical, but with so many parallels that already exist between protagonist Henry and author Yann Martel, I’m wondering if there are more similarities than meet the eye.

A note on the cover: I wasn’t particularly fond of the cover at first, but now after having read the book, I appreciate how relevant it is to the play in the story. Every aspect of the cover is mentioned in the play, and I’m glad to see the cover art remain true to the story.

Ultimately, I’m glad I read this book, but I was right in my assumption that it wouldn’t live up to Life of Pi. It was an odd sort of story that was enjoyable at times and dragged at others. It was full of potential and deep meaning but failed to fully communicate its importance to the audience. I will probably continue to read Yann Martel’s work in the future, but I will also probably continue to be disappointed with it.

“If you are pitched into misery, remember that your days on this earth are counted and you might as well make the best of those you have left.”

Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

Rating: 5/5 stars

This is my first Margaret Atwood book. For how short it is, it took me a long time to read, but with this book, I think it’s better that way. It’s provocative and thought-provoking, and I know the messages in this book will stay in my mind for years to come.

In short, this novel follows Offred, a handmaid to a Commander in the Republic of Gilead. Her role is to bear the Commander’s child for him and his wife, for if she can’t, she will become an Unwoman. Handmaids are not allowed any freedoms once embraced by women: they are not allowed to have families, jobs, money of their own; they are permitted to wear only red dresses; they cannot talk amongst other handmaids or secure friendships; they are not allowed to read or write; and it is forbidden even to think for themselves. The Republic of Gilead spawned from a world that used to be our world when the government tried to eliminate all of the immoral and sacrilegious acts from society, but the ramifications of that action were the abolition of many liberties that currently go unappreciated, including the independence of women.

I didn’t have any idea what this book was about before I started it. I chose it at random from a list of all my unread books, and to be honest, I was a bit hesitant to read it at first. Literary fiction isn’t usually my thing, and I struggle with books that are “supposed to be read in school.” This is one of those books that is rich with meaning. I do wish I could attend some kind of seminar that discusses this book in complex detail so I could delve further into its meaning and purpose because I want to know more about the concept behind this novel. I loved this book, and I want to share my ideas on it with others. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to discuss a literary work more than I do with this book. My copy is pre-owned, and it came with highlighted passages in it, but no handwritten notes. I kept finding myself wondering why its previous owner highlighted some of these phrases, and what secrets do they hold that I’m not able to see. I highlighted some passages of my own, but I’m still curious what treasures this book’s previous reader found that I wasn’t able to see.

Something I did notice was the significance of the colour of clothing. All the handmaids wear red, a colour of blood, of sin, of lust. All the Wives wear blue, a colour of elegance and status. All the Aunts wear brown, a colour of wisdom and maturity. All the daughters wear white, a colour of purity and innocence. All the Marthas wear green, a colour of subservience and cleanliness. And all the Econowives wear stripes because they have to fulfill the roles of Wife, Martha, and handmaid.

When I read a dystopian, the most important thing to me is to learn how and why the world got that way. I cannot read a dystopian and believe that a world without government or with a heavily corrupt government “just happened.” At the start of this book, I was worried because I was particularly interested in the why of this story, why the world was how it was, but I didn’t think any of it would be explained in this short novel. I was wrong. Snippets here, pieces there, and by the end we have the whole backstory, the how and why of this society. I like how Atwood drops bits at a time, not info-dumping all at the beginning, still leaving the reader wondering from chapter to chapter. Another critical element of dystopian novels is that the how and why have to be plausible; I have to really believe that X, Y, and Z could happen to create this kind of society. And in The Handmaid’s Tale, the backstory is believable enough. I think it’s a solid and well-thought-out reason for 1985, when the book was published, but looking at it in 2018, it feels a little bit less reasonable, but just a little. With the progress we’ve made today as far as gender equality and equality in the workforce, I’d really be surprised to see something like this happen. But I guess that’s the point of a dystopian world, that it’s surprising and unexpected nonetheless. I did really like the reasons provided in this book, though, and they did help me to understand the world better.

Atwood’s writing is very distinctive, probably indicative of her specific style, but I haven’t read any of her other books to note the similarities. She has a way of capturing the nuances of the world, details that most people overlook but are a part of everyday life, and I love the way it almost slows down her storytelling, adding in extra bits of information that only add to the imagery of her novel, making the reader focus on specific items and memories. And her writing is in a stream of consciousness style. I don’t know that I’ve read too many books written like that, but I like it. My mind jumps around a lot, and I can appreciate the quickness that this stylistic choice gives the story, almost like an impatience to say everything on Offred’s mind before it’s too late.

Something interesting is that much of the story is written without quotation marks. It seems like this dialogue is what Offred is thinking in her mind, or what happened in the past, and then when quotation marks are used, that’s what’s actually happening in the present. I wish I knew why Atwood chose to write like this because it’s a unique choice. I feel like not many authors could pull it off so effectively, so grippingly. I’ve read one or two books before that don’t use quotation marks, and I just get irritated that I can’t tell who is talking and when. The Bible does that too, omitting quotation marks. I just don’t like feeling confused about when dialogue is taking place, but in The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s evocative; it works without being confusing.

There are also countless comma splices in this book. I don’t know how she was able to get all those misused commas past an editor, but somehow I think each incident was deliberate, a point of style. This technique almost never works without creating deep agitation within me, but here I liked it. Margaret Atwood is a writer unlike most, able to make stylistic decisions that other authors wouldn’t dare try for fear of seeming unintelligent or uneducated. I don’t know how she pulls it off so well.

The Handmaid’s Tale reminds me a lot of Orwell’s 1984, which I loved, and I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so well. I like the premise of a futuristic depressed “utopian” society that’s controlled by the government, even down to people’s thoughts. It’s as if the government is a cult. It’s terrifying to think about, but that’s what makes it so interesting to read about.

I would be petrified to live in this world, especially since I take a lot of pride in my virtue. I would be one of the women to prefer death to this lifestyle. I find it intriguing that all the ways for one to commit suicide have been eliminated in this society, yet the threat of death hangs over the citizens’ heads with every action. You can’t kill yourself, but you can commit some “crime” and find yourself dead just the same. I love how Offred’s every thought ultimately leads to suicide. Everyone is fooled by happiness in this world.

“He’s said a forbidden word. Sterile. There is no such thing as a sterile man anymore, not officially. There are only women who are fruitful and women who are barren, that’s the law.”

This book made me angry, but not necessarily in a bad way. More like an angry that pushes people to take action. How can women be treated this way, perceived as naught but for bearing children, worthless, submissive, “two-legged wombs, that’s all”? This book turns readers into feminists. How can it not? When you’re forced to come face to face with the darkest issues that plague your society, you are forced to have an opinion on them. And any person who understands the value in all human beings will see how screwed up the world is in The Handmaid’s Tale, but they will also see how much it parallels our own world, even thirty years after its publication.

One of the best parts of this book was its ending, more specifically its historical notes post-ending. After the actual ending was left somewhat open-ended and left me wanting more, I read the historical notes on The Handmaid’s Tale. This fictional symposium transcript illuminated a lot of answers and details on the story, and it put the events directly happening to Offred in a bigger light spanning centuries. Readers were able to see the effects of this society on a later generation, and, most importantly, the events that led to the corrupted government rule present in this book. What was the most astonishing to me were the events listed that forced this society into creating the Republic of Gilead are events happening right now in our world. I cannot explain it even close to the way Atwood portrays it in her book, but the last ten pages of the novel were definitely the most eye-opening for me, and they gave the entire story a whole new meaning.

I can’t wait to watch the movie and the new tv series. I hope they just expand on this world in a deeper way. I also am looking forward to reading more books by Margaret Atwood, who may be a newfound favourite author of mine. I’m very curious to see how her writing compares across all her works because the writing was my favourite part of this book.

“I avoid looking down at my body, not so much because it’s shameful or immodest but because I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to look at something that determines me so completely.” 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Review: THE BEAUTY OF DARKNESS by Mary E. Pearson

Rating: 5/5 stars (realistically, 4.9/5 stars)

What a conclusion to this amazing series! The Beauty of Darkness is the third and last novel in the Remnant Chronicles, and it was well worth the near-700 pages of stress.

*Spoilers ahead for books one and two of the Remnant Chronicles*

Book two ends with Lia near death and stuck in the wilderness of the Cam Lanteux. I feel like saying anything at all after that is a spoiler, but it's pretty evident that Lia survives, given she's the protagonist of the series. She makes it with Rafe and his crew of trusted Dalbreck soldiers to a Dalbretch outpost a few days' journey away. But Lia doesn't want to stay; she wants to return to her homeland of Morrighan to warn her people of the imminent threat of the Komizar's invasion.

The first one hundred pages of the book were Lia and Rafe and some others traveling through the wilderness. This was the slowest part of the book because I felt like the bits that were important, like all the conversations and discussions of plans and reuniting of characters, could have been condensed into fewer pages, and I also just really wanted to get to the action. This little bit of slowness was the only thing that made this book not fully five stars for me. But for all intents and purposes, the book gets a 5/5 because the rest of the story more than makes up for it.

Almost all of this book is Lia making preparations for the final battle of the series, the one between Lia and the Komizar. But there's so much detail and political intrigue and secrets laced into her plans that I couldn't stop reading. I read this book quicker than the other two, and it's the longest in the series. It was just so exceptional that I couldn't look away from the pages.

All of the secrets come to light in this final installment, all of the lies revealed. I loved that because as I read the series I had a mental puzzle of the world and all its happenings. With each new detail or fact uncovered, I would add a piece to my puzzle and slowly start to see the whole image appearing. And with this last book, I knew I was just so close to getting all my questions answered. I could see the end, but I knew I was missing just three or so more details! It was agonizing in the best way to read this book. Pearson keeps you on your toes throughout the whole journey, constantly testing your memory and trying your trust. I thought I knew who was guilty or where the plot would take me, and then the rug was pulled out from under me, so to speak, and I was left staring at the pages, mouth agape.

I loved the ending of this book. The final battle was a tiny bit shorter than I thought it would be, with all the hundreds of pages that went into planning it. And once the battle ended, the book jumped ahead a few days. I guess we don't need that in-between stuff, but I wanted it. I still want so much more from this world because I am just in love with these characters.

I am happy who Lia ended up with in the end. I actually didn't think she would end up with anyone, the way things were going, but then the ending pleasantly surprised me, even though I've been wanting her to be with the other guy the whole series. (There really was no love triangle though, if we're being honest. Her feelings have been plain and clear from the beginning.) And I'm very pleased with Pauline's ending! I didn't even know I wanted that until it happened, and then I was giddy about it. Honestly, all the (surviving) characters got a happy ending, and I was so nervous that Pearson was going to kill off someone I loved.

This book is everything, this series is everything, and I'm very happy I decided to pick up The Kiss of Deception on a whim because this series is a new favourite. I love everything about it.

Don't even try to use the map in this book though, by the way. It's a total joke by book three because more than 70% of the important cities or settlements or locations in the book are not on the map at all. Not even close. It was clearly drawn to depict the important places in book one but never updated with each book. That is my one wish for this series, that the map could have been more complete. It's only like 50% there, and that first half of it is awesome! But it's still missing its other half, and I just want to know where all the battles took place.

Overall, if you want a thrilling low-fantasy series that feels more like an old historical fiction with strong-willed characters and lots of surprises, then give this series a try. The writing is beautiful, the characters are beautiful, the story is beautiful. I'll definitely be rereading this one someday.