Review of A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Synopsis:
Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Grey may be the heir, but he doesn’t want anyone to know his secret. On the run since he destroyed Lilith, he has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

Review:
This book is just as epic as the last, however, in different ways. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one. I wasn’t a fan of Lia Mara and moreso the concept at first because I loved the dynamic of Grey, Harper, and Rhen. Unfortunately, this book really made it more and more apparent that Rhen isn’t the protagonist he may have appeared to be previously. While there are understandable reasons for his actions and reactions, I have found myself disliking him more and more… but also liking Grey more.

My personal opinion at the end of this is that Harper would do better as ruler herself, and that there better be a damn good final book in the trilogy to somehow tie this train wreck together. It would have made quite a bit more sense, in my head, for Rhen to have told Harper, and ended up with Harper himself. Instead, everyone seems completely different than they were, and while I enjoyed seeing Grey go out and find a love of his own, it seemed as if there was a major plot missing because as some other reviewers have mentioned, Rhen had lived with Grey for years and should have been able to spot there was an issue. Clearly, the heart so fierce and broken was Rhen’s, in retrospection.

I am not a fan of the actual ending at all. Who would do that after all those three had been through?!

Star rating: ✯✯✯

Review of A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (The Cursebreaker Series Book 1) by [Brigid Kemmerer]

Synopsis:
In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Review:
Firstly, I love that this book featured a character with disabilities. It was a fun take on what made the heroine less capable and have to work harder to manage her goals. That being said, there were several times, especially towards the end, where this condition didn’t seem to make a difference and there was no mention of it. Overall, it was a great addition and way to explain both Harper’s knowledge of skills many no longer have (without giving it away) as well as her tenacity to keep trying, even knowing that she may not be as good as others.

Rhen truly grows, but there is a lot of intensity between Grey and Harper, so it becomes hard to tell who is truly starting to care for whom. While that can be interesting, in many ways, all three characters seem to grow and resonate at the same time with each other and it becomes an interesting take on understanding what the other is going through.

This is a great epic fantasy and I would definitely recommend it. It does a great job of pulling you in and making you want to see what happens next. The only thing I didn’t particularly like was the ending, however, I hadn’t realized it was the beginning of a trilogy before I started writing this.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser 

Synopsis:

In this English translation of the hit German young adult novel from Mechthild Gläser, each book is its own world―with its own dangers. Can a young girl navigate these new worlds and get out alive?

Amy Lennox doesn’t know quite what to expect when she and her mother pick up and leave Germany for Scotland, heading to her mother’s childhood home of Lennox House on the island of Stormsay. Amy’s grandmother, Lady Mairead, insists that Amy must read while she resides at Lennox House―but not in the usual way. It turns out that Amy is a book jumper, able to leap into a story and interact with the world inside. As thrilling as Amy’s new power is, it also brings danger: someone is stealing from the books she visits, and that person may be after her life. Teaming up with fellow book jumper Will, Amy vows to get to the bottom of the thefts―at whatever cost.

Review:
This book sounded amazing and I was so excited to read it! I had heard of it, but it took me quite a while to actually pick it up, and I believe that I finally did due to a deal on Amazon I had gotten an email about, either that, or went through my giant pile of books saved on a wishlist and picked it out. Either way, I was glad that I did!

The book is completely unique and interesting in that it went between Germany and Scotland, and the place in Scotland is very secluded. There was great backstory and depth to the location and the people who settled there, and I quite enjoyed it. I also loved getting to have the intimate interactions with characters, and how they can somewhat live outside of their role, much like actors.

Unfortunately I did have some questions at the end that hadn’t been resolved: about Will and how he came to be there, and just quite the unease about how the story ended, with no real resolution to the many problems that had been laid out by Besty.

SPOILER:
Major Bridge to Terabithia vibes. And the story they were trying to save, the main character just seems irredeemable.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Trial By Magic by K. M. Shea

Trial of Magic (The Fairy Tale Enchantress Book 4) by [K. M. Shea]

Synopsis:
Lord Enchanter Evariste has been missing for years. Everyone has given up all hope of finding him—except for Angelique.

Because he dared to befriend her when all other mages scorned her due to her dangerous magic, Angelique is determined to find him—no matter the cost. But as years have passed and she has failed to locate Evariste, she’s forced to realize that he was more than a friend.

Battle weary and sick of politics, Angelique is close to breaking…until she hears a rumor that Evariste was taken north.

To confirm the information, she’ll have to break into a den of black mages, hide her identity, and master her magic—which she fears above all else.

But when she finally finds Evariste, she learns she is woefully unprepared for the enemies that hold him captive.

Trial of Magic is an epic fantasy fairy tale that follows a reluctant heroine who wants nothing to do with romance, magical battles, and curse breaking, but finds herself mucking with all three. Like its companion series, Timeless Fairy Tales, this series has clean romance.

Review:
Worth the wait! Was definitely bummed when I read the first three books in quick succession with plans to read the entire series because I couldn’t get enough of Angelique and Evariste and came to find out only three books were done! I was so excited to see Angelique grow as a person, and learn more about fairy tale enchanters and how the aging process works. It was also awesome to have so many badass heroines that weren’t simply having children as soon as they were married.

There were still so many questions and so much left to lose (and gain) at the end of this book! I found myself reading slower and less towards the end because of course I don’t want it to end and have to wait for more, but this was a very substantial book, considered epic fantasy for a reason. I cannot wait to see more of Angelique and Evariste and what happens in the continent, though I’m also hoping to learn far more about Pegasus as well!

**Potential Spoiler!**
Given Evariste’s reaction my prediction is that he might be more human/powerful than Angelique knows, though I am fairly certain he can actually talk.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan

Synopsis:
Thorn, an outlaw’s son, wasn’t supposed to be a slave. He’s been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they’re headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire. Lilith Shadow wasn’t supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?

Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky. Book 1 of a three book series.

Review:
This book is spellbinding. From the moment I started I found it hard to set down. The chapters are all the perfect length. It flows well. There are lots of little word games and word connections for readers to find, which is quite fun. I loved all the aspects of this novel, and there were no parts I glanced over or was annoyed at having to read to get to the juicy parts.

I absolutely loved the characterization; everyone had such solid personalities and attitudes, especially for the teenagers. There wasn’t as much forward knowledge of the thoughts and feelings of the adults, but that was understandable. The knowledge and love of different hobbies and activities shown by the main characters in their daily lives was refreshing, even if they might not like their overall jobs.

I loved this book, and am only sad I didn’t realize it was a three book series based on the blurb on the back when I purchased it at the store. I will, of course, continue on to finish this series- hopefully sooner than later! I do believe this was written for a younger audience, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome!

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

Synopsis:
Alosa’s mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he’s under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father’s justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.

Review:
This book had everything; treachery, slow burn romance, betrayal. There was a lot of psychological problems worked through, and I quite enjoyed it. The ending was a bit lackluster, but then, that is likely because this book just didn’t have as much pizzazz as the first.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Synopsis:
A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling young adult tale.

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map―the key to a legendary treasure trove―seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Review:
This book was quite easy to fall into, pleasant, and I really enjoyed it. Given the title of the second book in the series, a major plot point is already spoiled to anyone that knows there is a sequel, however, that didn’t change how enjoyable the book is. I loved how dastardly some of the pirates were shown as, as well as the redeeming qualities of others. Riden I absolutely love, and I love that one never truly knows who has the upper hand. It was quite interesting seeing Alosa struggle with her duality, something most people can relate to at least sometimes in their life. I quite loved this book, and look forward to seeing what happens in the sequel!

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Enchantment by Camille Peters

Enchantment (The Kingdom Chronicles Book 5) by [Camille Peters]

Synopsis:
When Maren runs away from the threat of a forced marriage, the last place she expects to end up is the Malvagarian Palace, home to the enchanted gardens, a cursed prince, and a magical rose that traps her there. Crown Prince Briar isn’t pleased to be stuck with a troublesome guest, especially one as mischievous and curious as Maren. She, on the other hand, is determined to escape, but instead finds herself inconveniently falling in love with him. Despite her lack of beauty, feelings steadily blossom between her and the prince.

Their budding romance is soon threatened when sinister magic begins to eclipse the enchanted gardens, a darkness which quickly spreads not only to the kingdom, but to the king himself. In order to stop it, Briar and Maren will both be forced to make a heart-wrenching sacrifice, only to realize that the gardens’ requirements may prove too high a price.

Inspired by Beauty and the Beast

Review:
So as we all know, I’m a sucker for enchanted roses. I’d been wondering and wondering where Briar would fall in this series, torn between the Beast and some odd hybrid of Sleeping Beauty, but my first inclination was correct. I was so glad to see that back home Briar has a slightly different demeanor and personality, as he was rather drained and unpleasant in Reflection. Maren, however, I wasn’t sure I would like. From the beginning, her self esteem issues were a bit annoying, though understandable given her father never showed her love. It was frustrating that despite constantly saying that she was used to it her actions proved that she cared far too much about other’s opinions on her “beauty” or lack thereof. Despite this, I quite enjoyed her quips and how prepared she always was to get into both mischief and not let others tell her falsehoods. I could resonate quite soundly with doing all sorts of things like Maren, however, my interests were always nourished and encouraged by family, and when others would make me doubt myself, it generally made me even more determined to become better at whatever it was.

I love the personification of the garden, and quite enjoy how Maren and Briar dance around each other. While originally hard to really understand Briar, Maren’s good nature prevails and his character is revealed in how he deals with tragedy as well as his own issues with self doubt. I also loved the background characters of Maren’s childhood, and how completely dastardly the men in her life reveal themselves to be.

I was so glad to see Prince Drake and Prince Rhea again but we were left with a lot of baggage regarding them that was never resolved. I do hope to see them and a resolution in a future book, though I’m not sure we’d see them in the next book about Seren (Aiden’s sister from the first book in the series, Pathways). Seren was almost as nasty as Lavena in this book, so while I originally thought the next book would be about Princess Lavena (featured in Identity) it is unsurprising to know that the King Thrushbeard story will fall to Seren.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke

Synopsis:
Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.
But then, the Devil once told me that it’s easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.
The problem with River West Redding was that he’d done both to me.

The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet’s life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River’s other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn’t long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own . .

Review:
I’m so torn in what to say here. I love that we get an adventure, and there is so much up and down, but oh my goodness the ending is so openly ambiguous I can hardly stand it!

I love how these books take something from the past and meld it into the future, of how Violet feels as if she’s bound to repeat Freddie’s path in the past, but Violet is a very different person than the Freddie that we learn more about. I love all the characters, and in the end I was quite pleased with Violet’s choice, but I wish there was a more definitive (happy) ending, because there is so much left that could go wrong.

This book series is a whirlwind and I am not quite sure how to articulate all of my thoughts about it. I absolutely loved it and would highly recommend it. There are so many fantastic thriller/horror elements, and I definitely felt my fair share of H. P. Lovecraft vibes from this one, as well as a little bit of the uncertainty and ambiguity of V. C. Andrews.

Thank you, TikTok(BookTok). I absolutely loved these books.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Synopsis:
You stop fearing the Devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery…who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

A gothic thriller romance with shades of Stephen King and F. Scott Fitzgerald, set against a creepy summertime backdrop–a must-read for fans of Beautiful CreaturesThe Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and Anna Dressed in Blood.

Review:
This book was not at all what I expected it to be. It was light and airy but deep and gripping, like the breeze off water. There are haunting moments of past between Violet and those she has loved, and so many mysteries. The synopsis does nothing to prepare you for the whirlwind you’re about to jump into reading this book. So many twists and turns. Unlike many stories with absentee parents, this one actually makes it seem like, while still weird, it was normal for this family. From the beginning Violet’s oddness made me think she would be an unreliable narrator, and while in some ways parts were unreliable, they were for a completely understandable reason. The ending twist I really hadn’t expected and I quite enjoyed!

This is a great coming of age story, with a hint of that thriller in there. I definitely can see the F. Scott Fitzgerald vibes. There were also a lot of odd metaphors and older references which, while peculiar, really solidified the setting. I actually really loved the peculiar names some characters have, and the names themselves are such that the actual time period this is supposed to be in isn’t quite clear, but it’s a wonderful and addictive book all the same.

I actually bought this book and the sequel based on a booktok (TikTok section dedicated to books), though I can’t recall which video convinced me to do so. Keep sharing that book love with people, and if you have a recommendation that you’d like me to read or review, feel free to email me.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯