The Heart of Betrayal 4 Stars

21569527Title: The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2)

Author: Mary E. Pearson

Publication date: July 7, 2015

Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy

Synopsis: When Princess Lia flees the palace on her wedding day she thinks she is done with royal life. She should have known it wouldn’t be that simple. She is pursued by the prince she was supposed to marry and an assassin sent to kill her. Lia must keep her wits about her if she wants to survive.

Review: This book was a pleasant surprise after the first one. I had a huge problem in book one with both the pacing and Princess Lia herself who annoyed me because she didn’t once even stop to consider that by running away from a marriage that was a political alliance she is risking starting a war between her people and Dalbreck.

The twist everyone talks about in this book was something I figured out fairly early on, and it wasn’t until the last twenty-five pages or so that I actually started to get interested in the story-line. It’s because of the way book one ended that I decided to pick up this book, and in the end I’m glad I did.

The writing in this book is very good. It’s almost poetic, but does not feel at all like purple prose.

Pearson’s portrayal of Vendan culture in this book is excellent. In book one we’re shown how the people of Morrighan view the people of Venda as “savages” because their cultures are so different from one another. In this book we learn how many of these “savage” cultural aspects actually made sense when taking into account the circumstances the people lived under. So many authors write about fictional cultures the main character’s culture views in a negative way and make some of the characters’ from said other culture not evil, but never explain the logic behind the other cultures seemingly “savage” rituals. I loved that Pearson didn’t fall into this trap.

The pacing in this book was much better than that of The Kiss of Deception, but it still lagged towards the middle. I ended up skimming through several sections around that point. Most epic fantasy books have the characters moving frequently from place to place even if the story happens entirely in a single city. I think the fact that the setting was the Sanctum for almost the entire book may have contributed to this fact. Pauline’s perspective also felt a bit unnecessary to me and I skimmed though most of her sections.

The Komizar was a complex and well developed antagonist. From the Komizar’s point of view he is doing what is best for his country and his actions are not evil. Despite this I did have a slight issue with some of the side characters’ believabiliy and this is the same issue I had with the first book. I had particular trouble with the Assassin. He just showed too much sympathy to those he was tasked to kill for me to believe he was the most accomplished assassin in Venda who had been training for this since childhood.

I was really hoping the magic system would be expanded upon in this book, but although we got to see a little more of it the magic remained in the background. I’ve noticed a lot of young adult high fantasy novels hardly mention the magic system at all. I love innovative magic systems so this is not a trend I like, but I think it might have something to do with the fact that young adult books are expected to be shorter so there is less time to expand upon one.

What readers should know: This book does contain some language and some character deaths occur. If this were a movie I think it would be rated PG.

Rating: I enjoyed this book, but I had several issues as listed in this review that kept me from absolutely loving it so this book is getting a four out of five.

4 blue jays

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The Summer Reader Book Tag

Since the official end of summer is fast approaching here in the northern hemisphere on the 23, I figured I’d better do this tag fast or wait another eight months for it to be relevant again. Even if where I live it’s going to remain almost unbearably hot for another month or two.

The Summer Reader Book Tag was created by islandOFbooks over on Youtube and I was tagged by Parneet @ The Enchanted Book.

Lemonade: pick a book that started off bitter but got better.

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The beginning of Keeper of the Lost City is very fast paced and I can see why it would appeal very well to the middle grade audience it was meant for, but the way everything was introduced felt cliched to me so I almost gave up on it to read something else. The second half of the book, which involves a mystery, was much more interesting to me than the first.
Golden Sun: pick a book that made you smile beyond compare.

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For some reason Rick Riordan’s books’ have a way of making me really happy. A few years back whenever I wanted to be in a good mood I used to reread one of his books.

Tropical Flowers: pick a book set in a different country.

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The characters in Daughter of Smoke and Bone travel to many different places, but they spend a significant amount of the book in Prague.
Tree Shade: pick a book in which a mysterious or shady character was first introduced.

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Crow from The Seven Realms series is first introduced in book two, The Exiled Queen. There isn’t much I can say about Crow without spoilers, but sufficient to say he has a lot of secrets.
Beach Sand: pick a book that was grainy, and the plot barely developed.

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This is one of my least favorite books of all time. I will say that I did enjoy the first couple books in this series, but in this one there were huge plot holes and for that reason I feel like the plot never really developed. If I had read this more recently I probably wouldn’t have made it nearly this far in the series, but back when I read this book I used to make an effort to finish every books/series I’d started.
Green Grass: pick a character that was full of life, making you smile.

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I pick Iko from The Lunar Chronicles which is kind of ironic because she is technically a robot and therefore not alive, but she just has such a fun personality and always makes me smile. I’m using “full of life” in terms of the phrases meaning and not literally here.
Watermelon: pick a book that had some juicy secrets.

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Mistborn: The Final Empire is the first of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere books I read. Like his other books there are a lot of plot twists, but I chose this one because one of the characters likes to say the phrase, “There’s always another secret.”
Sun Hat: pick a book that had a vast, big universe/setting.

7235533Roshar, where The Stormlight Archives takes place, is an incredibly vast world. Brandon Sanderson has gone so far as to create his own plants and animals who have been forced to adapt to Roshar’s unique weather patterns.
BBQ: pick a book in which a character was portrayed as a hunk.

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I just finished Queen of Shadows, and in it Rowan is described as matching this description very well to say the least.
Summer Fun: pass the tag on.

Since summer is coming to a close I’m not going to tag anyone lest they have to wait until next summer to avoid doing the tag in fall, but anyone who wants to do this tag and hasn’t yet should feel free.

The Martian by Andy Wier 4.5 Stars

18007564Title: The Martian

Author: Andy Wier

Published: 2011

Genre: Adult Science Fiction

Synopsis: Mark Watney was part of an early mission to Mars, but what had been the opportunity of a life time quickly becomes a disaster. Believing Watney died in a Martian sandstorm, the crew has left Watney behind. The next Mars mission isn’t scheduled to arrive for another four years and Watney’s supplies were designed to last 31 days. With no way to contact NASA, Watney must find a way to defy the odds and survive.

Review: It’s next to impossible to write a good book where the main character is alone almost the whole time, but somehow Andy Weir has managed to pull it off.

This book is extremely well researched. As someone who has done a significant amount of research on Mars for the purpose of writing my first (never to be published) novel which was set on the red planet this is something I really appreciated. One of my issues with Red Rising was that it was clear little to no research had been done on the planet itself despite the fact that the entire book was set there. (Note that I still really enjoyed Red Rising overall in spite of this and gave it four stars.)

Our narrator, Mark Watney, has very strong voice. This allows him to carry the story on his own without it falling apart due to the lack of character interaction. The sections told in third person by members of NASA also add side characters to the story.

The pacing in this book is good. Just when one disaster ended another that somehow seemed even more desperate than the last began. In spite of this, I somehow did not feel as strong an urge to keep flipping pages and keep reading whenever possible as I do with some books. This brings me to my next point.

The reason this loses half a star is due to the fact that I didn’t feel enough emotional attachment to what was going on. I can’t say exactly why this is as the stakes were high at pretty much every moment. It might have something to do with the fact that we never seemed to get to hear much about Mark’s backstory, or at least it seemed that way to me. We heard a little bit about his college life and he mentioned his parents, but beyond that we never got to hear about someone outside of the crew who personally knew and cared about Mark. I think giving someone from Mark’s personal life a little page time or revealing more about his past may have made me care more.

What readers should know: This book is intended for adults. The language would be enough to make it rated R if they kept all of it in the movie, but due in part to the low amount of character interaction the language is just about the only thing that could be potentially deemed inappropriate.

Rating: This is a very realistic depiction of a Mission to Mars. Even though it wasn’t always as gripping as I would have liked it was still a great read and one that I highly recommend to readers who are even the slightest bit interested in Mars or space exploration.

4.5 blue jays

August 2015 Wrap-Up

August was a great reading month. I read nine books: one adult sci-fi, three adult fantasy, and five young adult fantasy. I also started revisions on one of my writing projects.

From now on I’m going to be splitting my monthly wrap-ups into three sections: reading, writing, and blogging.

Reading

The Martian by Andy WeirShort Synopsis: Astronaut is stranded on Mars.

Thoughts: A very realistic, well researched portrayal. Though I really liked it, the book didn’t always grip me as much as I would like. Review to come.

Rating:

 4.5 blue jays

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Short Synopsis: A princess is forced into a marriage to the mysterious “God-King” in an attempt to prevent war between too nations. While this princess settles in to life in the foreign palace her sister tries desperately to free her.

Thoughts: Once again Brandon Sanderson’s world building proves extraordinary. The plot is captivating and unpredictable, the breath and color based magic system is well thought out and unlike any I’ve read before. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating:

 five blue jays

Elantris by Brandon SandersonShort Synopsis: Elantris was once the city of the gods. Now it is a city of the living dead.

Thoughts: I can really tell this is the first novel Brandon Sanderson published. His prose were really clunky and this is the only Sanderson novel where I’ve skimmed sections. Still an overall enjoyable read though, it’s interesting to see how much Sanderson has improved over the years.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabShort Synopsis: Kell is one of the only people left who can travel between parallel worlds. Kell uses his ability to illegally smuggle objects between worlds. One day an object Kell smuggles turns out to be especially dangerous and it’s up to Kell to dispose of it before it’s too late.

Thoughts: I haven’t read a lot of books about parallel worlds, but when done right it’s a topic I find intriguing. There were times when I felt this story felt a little predictable and the characters not as developed as I would like, but it was an excellent read overall. Review to come.

Rating:

4.5 blue jays

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Short Synopsis: A princess struggles to free herself from expectations of her. Book two in the Heart of Betrayal series.

Thoughts: I’m surprised how much I liked this one as I had mixed feelings about the first, but there were certain aspects I really liked. Review to come.

Rating:

4 blue jays

The Demon King by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

Short Synopsis: A thousand years ago one nation became seven and the world was shattered during a terrible disaster. Now Han, an ex-thief, and Raisa, the princess heir, must learn from the past in hopes of a better future. The entire Seven Realms series.

Thoughts: The pacing at the beginning was a bit slow, but once I got into these I just couldn’t seem to put them down. I read the last three over what was primarily a two day period of time. The world building is some of the best I’ve read in YA (in a lot of YA it tends to be lacking), and the characters were so much fun. I’m surprised this series isn’t more popular. Can’t wait for the spin-off series Shattered Realms.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

Currently Reading: 

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Writing 

What I wrote last month: In August I started revisions on my high fantasy work in progress. It’s working title is A Rose Like Death, and it was my project for NaNoWriMo last November. Most of what I’ve been doing so far is rearranging the files of chapters and scenes into an order I think would better fit the story. (I use Scrivener.)

My main focus right now is big picture edits and making everything flow. I’m also doing a lot of rewriting to change my main character, Yuliana’s, voice because the narration feels too distant at the moment. Feedback from everyone who has read the first chapter has been very positive overall with most issues involving grammatical and sentence construction errors that I don’t intend to fix until far later. Everyone seemed to have a much better grasp of the world building and character dynamics than I expected by the end of chapter one, and each person who read it had a different theory about the direction the plot would take. Only one really got anywhere near to the truth.

What I plan to write next month: I plan to continue with what will become the second draft of A Rose Like Death. Now that summer is over progress is going to slow and the goal is to have it finished by October 31 so I can start a new project for NaNoWriMo in November, but I’m not sure if that is realistic yet.

Blogging

I know I’m behind on my tags. It might take me a while to get them posted, but I haven’t forgotten about them. I’ve been tagged for the quote a day challenge and my blog has been given the Liebaster Award, but have yet to post about them. I’m planning to combine the quote a day challenge into one day instead of three because I post once a week and like to keep it consistent.

Read or write anything interesting in August? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!