Publisher: Balzer & Bray


Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: Born of Deception by Teri Brown

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Review: Born of Deception by Teri Brown
Born of Deception
Teri Brown
Series: Born of Illusion #2
Genre: Historical, Paranormal, YA
Publication date: June 10th 2014
by Balzer & Bray

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Budding illusionist Anna Van Housen is on top of the world: after scoring a spot on a prestigious European vaudeville tour, she has moved to London to chase her dream and to join an underground society for people like her with psychic abilities. Along with her handsome beau, Cole Archer, Anna is prepared to take the city by storm.

But when Anna arrives in London, she finds the group in turmoil. Sensitives are disappearing and, without a suspect, the group’s members are turning on one another. Could the kidnapper be someone within the society itself—or has the nefarious Dr. Boyle followed them to London?

As Cole and Anna begin to unravel the case and secrets about the society are revealed, they find themselves at odds, their plans for romance in London having vanished. Her life in danger and her relationship fizzling, can Anna find a way to track down the killer before he makes her his next victim—or will she have to pay the ultimate price for her powers?

Set in Jazz-Age London, this alluring sequel to Born of Illusion comes alive with sparkling romance, deadly intrigue, and daring magic.
-A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review-

*Spoiler free for the series*

Having really enjoyed the wonderfully atmospheric and captivating Born of Illusion last year, I was excited to get back into Anna’s world full of magic and mystery.

Born of Deception is just as mesmerizing in its storytelling, and even more-so with its historical London setting. Brown is gifted in bringing these settings to life; making us walk the busy streets alongside our protagonist, feel the vibrancy of the city and the excitement of the crowds. As far as the writing goes, I loved it all. I did find disappointment in the plot itself, however. While Born of Illusion was full of mystique and wonder, this second installment has a big focus on a new love triangle in addition to – and somewhat the cause of – frustrating developments between the romance we all grew to love from book 1. Yes, book 1 also had a love-traingle-ish romance, but that one was crafted in a way that felt so realistic, plus it was clear where Anna’s feelings lay, the triangle only brought into existence by her mother’s manipulations. In this case, however, it bordered on cliché and offered nothing other than added dramatics to the story. This was made worse by how the coupling I enjoyed from book one took a turn for the worst. The relationship now consisted of pity fights and arguments caused by none other than lack of communication. So lets just say this part of the story leaves much to be desired.

The plot itself is a lot of fun and paced to perfection. It has the constant air of mystery that I enjoyed from its predecessor, with a bit higher stakes this time where murder and black magic is involved. We also learn more about the society and the magic surrounding this whole world. New characters are involved, most with lively personalities and distinct voices, and old favourites are back with just as much charm. What I found, though, was that it ended up being incredibly easy to predict most of the outcome of this story. I had my suspicions within the first 10% which ended up being correct. This was a bit of a bummer, strangely, though, it felt as if the author had planned it that way. The reveal is not done with much theatrics, but rather feels like a confirmation of what we should have already known. I’m not sure what to make of this, but it did make the whole book feel a tad underwhelming if you ask me. Especially when its predecessor was under such a constant cloud of secrets that it had me suspecting everyone and going back and forth in my theories – which equals to an incredibly addictive read, I did not feel the same spark of excitement and eventual satisfaction throughout this one, unfortunately. It did have me interested, but I was not wildly turning its pages to abate my curiosity.

Still, the writing is just as wonderful, the characters are just as charismatic, and I will read anything this woman writes. But…I do think that Born of Illusion stands best on its own.

3 Stars
3 Hot Espressos

Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

Posted by on 05/15/2014 • 14 Comments

After having a long stint of bad luck when it came to murder mysteries The Secrets of Lily Graves came at me like a breath of fresh air. It’s engrossing, it’s twisty and it managed to take me completely by surprise.

Lily Graves hasn’t had the most traditional of upbringings. She’s been raised in a small home attached to her families business which just happens to be a funeral home. She’s grown up fascinated with the dead and has even worked on embalming bodies at a very young age. I loved how quirky and unconventional Lily was. She had a good sense of humour and she was really smart. Sure she got a little love sick over Matt (the boy she’s crushing on) but what teenaged girl doesn’t go…

Review: Tease by Amanda Maciel

Review: Tease by Amanda Maciel

Posted by on 04/14/2014 • 16 Comments

Tease is a book that is not going to be for everybody.  It is chalk full of slut shaming, unlikeable characters and cringe worthy bullying scenarios.  As someone who looks for uncomfortable doses of reality in her reading I appreciated all of those things very much.  I went into this one expected a gritty tale about bullying and this novel delivered ten-fold.

What is unique about this story is that we are not getting it from the perspective of the person being bullied, we are the bully.  We see the story unfold through the eyes of Sarah Wharton.  She’s not exactly the Queen Bee at her school but she is best friends with her.  Most of the things that Sarah did in this story were incredibly frustrating because it felt…

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Posted by on 04/03/2014 • 34 Comments

To anyone who thinks research for a book is not worth the time or effort, Prisoner of Night and Fog proves to the contrary. Based on true historical events, Anne has crafted a brilliantly compelling and incredibly authentic story entwined with real historical figures who are given a second breath of life. This is a story of a girl’s desperate search for the truth.

Underneath it all, Prisoner of Night and Fog is a gripping account of Hitler’s rise to power. The plot introduces many real-life characters who were part of Hitler’s entourage or impacted his life in some way. Naturally, fictional characters are also added to the mix to initiate an engaging mystery that, although fictional, is entangled inside real historical events. I may not be a history buff,…

Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Posted by on 03/05/2014 • 24 Comments

I loved parts of this book, while others irritated me. Or I should say Alice irritated me. However, the angle of getting a second chance at a life you were done and over with does give you food for thought for which I applaud. Cancer books are not stories I go into lightly; there’s so much cancer in real life already, why would I want to read about yet another victim of this monster? Still, there’s something about this one that called to me and I’m glad I read it. It brings up a different, highly thought-provoking side to a terminal illness. It’s a great story, but the characters made loving this book a stubbornly difficult task.

Alice had her whole life ahead of her. Sure she had a…

Review: The Lure by Lynne Ewing

Review: The Lure by Lynne Ewing

Posted by on 01/21/2014 • 20 Comments

The Lure and I went through a tumultuous relationship. I started out in love with it and that love slowly declined as the novel went on, eventually leading me to be pretty angry at where we ended up. See, in the beginning it was gritty, authentic and raw, but by the end I didn’t know if I was reading a contemporary novel or the screenplay for a daytime soap opera.

As the novel starts out we meet Blaise and her friends Melissa, Ariel and Kaylee as they are making their way home one night. The atmosphere is set right from the beginning and we realize that these girls don’t come from a good neighbourhood. Seeing a group of people drinking on a stoop and then hiding in the trees while…

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Posted by on 01/10/2014 • 32 Comments

Cruel Beauty is really confusing, even kind of a mess at first, but eventually the story does paint a gorgeous, dangerous picture. Still, much of it is quite mind-boggling. I’ve been mulling over what I read for days.

Retellings are always difficult for me, especially that I wasn’t big in fairy tales as a child. I’m kind of discovering them inside retellings, actually, so they can be a hit or miss. Cruel Beauty falls in-between for me. I did love the Beauty and the Beast angle, all while bringing an extremely creative story to the table. Originality is not something Cruel Beauty is lacking. It involves a world that becomes simply mind-blowing. Distorting the perception of everything you thought you knew, kind of mind-blowing. It’s not easy to grasp,…

Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

Posted by on 11/25/2013 • 36 Comments

Is insta-love ever a good idea? One where with only a handful of pages two people have already felt that they are experiencing the beginning of something “real”? Something that would change their lives? Pffft! Well ok even if this stuff can – or so I’m told – happen in real life, I need a lot more substance to convince me in fiction. I have very rarely seen cases of insta-love – or instant somethings – where I could actually feel a genuine connection forming between two characters, The Promise of Amazing was not one of them. This insta-love was in its purest eyeroll-inducing form. This was the first sign that I should have listened to.

I’m sure my dislike for Grayson played into my complete disinterest in the…