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 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 Beauty and the Beast: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast by Melanie Karsak

Beauty and Beastly: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast (Steampunk Fairy Tales Book 3) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
In this tale as old as time, Isabelle Hawking must tinker a solution to a heartbreaking mystery.

When Isabelle Hawking and her papa set out from London on a sea voyage, Isabelle is thrilled. Visiting foreign courts, learning from master tinkerers, and studying mechanicals is her dream. And it doesn’t hurt that the trip also offers Isabelle an escape from her overbearing and unwanted suitor, Gerard LeBoeuf.

But Isabelle never arrives. Swept up in a tempest, her ship is lost.

Isabelle survives the storm only to be shipwrecked on a seemingly deserted island. The magical place, dotted with standing stones, faerie mounds, and a crumbling castle, hints of an ancient past. Isabelle may be an unwilling guest, but her arrival marks a new beginning for the beastly residents of this forgotten land.

See how New York Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak puts a steampunk spin on the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale set in gaslamp London.

Review:
Of all the steampunk style stories I have read this is one of my absolute favourites. It has everything amazing and right going for it: we have a spunky, intelligent heroine, we have the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, we have faeries, and we have incredibly well designed tech that doesn’t quite make sense, for good reason. I loved so much about this, the redemption of the characters and how they grew with time, even those that we really didn’t like or expect to see again. Everyone and everything had a purpose, and the story was quite endearing. I often ended up into the late hours of the night wanting to read more, but too tired to do so. If you like steampunk, you like fairy tales, and you love Beauty and the Beast– this will become a clear favourite.

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 Thorn of Rose: A Beauty and the Beast Romance by Emily Deady

Thorn of Rose: A Beauty and the Beast Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 2) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
Beauty is a curse.

It attracts the basest sort of men, even a beast.

With her father deathly ill, Isabel Bielsa throws herself into their mutual passion: bookbinding. Hiding in the library also allows her to avoid the unwanted attentions of the local self-absorbed noblemen. But, there is only so many times one can read the same book. When the governing council demands her father’s skills she happily goes in his stead. 

However, her new library assignment is far from private. Prince Aden of Iseldis, cursed into the form of a beast, keeps interrupting her work. With his idealistic standards and comfortable self-righteousness, she sees him as just another man besotted by her beauty. That is, until Isabel discovers that his curse has also affected his eyesight. 

As her feelings for him grow, Isabel nears the end of her assignment. Can she break Aden’s curse before the magical attacker comes back to finish him off for good?

Thorn of Rose is a fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It is a sequel to Shard of Glass, but can be read out of order. If you love sweet romance, a little bit of magic, and a self-assured heroine, than this story was written for you.

Review:
Both Isabel and Aden have strong ideals and personalities, which make them clash and have to actually work to get to know each other–something that likely could have and would have happened even without his curse. Isabel is very opinionated and used to dealing with people thinking she is stupid (something any reasonably attractive female is unfortunately well acquainted with, I fear) and perhaps because of that can be rather brash and cruel, assuming all men are the same because most she has come to know have been. Aden is both brash but quite emotional and carrying, and his relationship with Warrior and dedication to keeping people safe is sweet.

I absolutely love this take on Beauty and the Beast, because while some versions (Disney) claim she’s a beauty but don’t necessarily show it beyond one annoying suitor, this not only shows why she would be so annoyed with men in general, but also gave her a depth and level of intelligence other versions lack. There were always high stakes, and the story flowed very well, and was hard to put down. I absolutely loved the integration of her love of books and how connected she is to her father through her love of reading and the written word.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Enchant: Beauty and the Beast Retold by Demelza Carlton

Synopsis (from Amazon):
A beastly prince. An enchanting beauty. Only love can break the spell.
Once upon a time…
The wicked King Thorn forced the enchantress Zuleika to cast a terrible curse. She fled his court to travel the world, helping those who need her magic most. Until a search for her merchant father’s lost ships leads her to an enchanted island, where Prince Vardan, the island’s ruler, is afflicted by the most powerful curse Zuleika has ever encountered. She’s not sure she can reverse the spell, but she’s determined to try. After all, a prince who fights pirates can’t be all bad…no matter how beastly his appearance.
Together, can the enchanting beauty and the beastly prince break the spell?

Review:
I loved this take on Beauty and the Beast. The premise was unique and refreshing. I did have some issues with the heroine’s name, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. I quite liked Zuleika’s growth and humility throughout the novel, as well as Vardan’s, however, instead of speaking and troubleshooting feelings and emotions verbally, Vardan brushes off Zuleika’s issues and essentially says “It’ll be great because I’m great.”

Unlike most versions of the story, Zuleika knows from the beginning that Vardan is cursed, so instead of being railroaded to liking him and spending time with him by his servants, she understands and wants to help. What irritated me was how long it took Zuleika to realize what had happened to Vardan, considering how intelligent and knowing in magic she is supposed to be by the time she meets him.

Most Amazon reviews seem to have a problem with the sexual mindset of the male protagonist, as well as the sexual parts of the story. I had downloaded this book knowing it was a fairy tale retelling, and that it had been on my list of ones I wanted to eventually read, picking it at random to read from the titles on my kindle. While it is a fairy tale retelling, it likely should be listed under romance first. Though not as carnal as Lidya Foxglove’s Fairy Tale Heat, with only a few instances, there is still a sexual mindset that if one isn’t expecting, might be found irritating.

**WARNING** BOOK BEGINS WITH GRAPHIC (SEXUAL) VIOLENCE

Star Rating: 

Review of Bellamy and the Brute by Alicia Michaels

Synopsis (from Amazon):

A fresh twist on a classic story, Bellamy and the Brute proves true love really is blind.

When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she’s reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill―including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin’s eldest son, Tate. The former football star and golden boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness―one that causes deformity and turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she’s told that if she takes the job, she must promise to never, ever visit the third floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth hidden there.

Tate’s condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin House. There are gaps in the family’s financial history that don’t add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3 rd floor, past the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go…

As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head… in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?

Review:
This story felt like it went on forever, and I never wanted to set it down. There are twists and turns everywhere, both supernatural and common teenage problems to see and deal with, and all of it very relatable. Bellamy’s father is known for being crazy, and people worry or laugh suggesting she’ll be the same, so already, Bellamy has to deal with being ostracized and belittled, even if just for being smart at times.

With supernatural uncertainties, Tate and Bellamy find themselves having to figure out a mystery, while also learning about each other and how to associate with someone physically disabled. All in all, I thought the situations, and their reactions to them, were very realistic, and the story was gripping and quite wonderful. I certainly recommend, especially to those who enjoy Beauty and the Beast.

Star Rating: 

Review of Fractured Beauty by Adrienne Monson, Angela Corbett, Angela Brimhall, Lehua Parker

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Beauty and the Beast may be a tale as old as time, but in this collection by the Fairy Tale Ink you’ll meet five newly imagined Belles and the Beasts they love.

Angela Brimhall’s beast is a terrifying sea monster cursed by a scorned gypsy. He must risk all to save the strong-willed princess before losing his last chance at love and redemption, becoming forever damned to the briny deep.

Lehua Parker’s Nani is trapped by Indian and Hawaiian traditions and a fiancé locked in stasis in a medi-mod. Cultures and expectations collide in this sci-fi futuristic world where nano-bot tattoos and dreams reveal the secret of Nani’s heart.

Angela Corbett’s Ledger is determined to find out more about the mysterious woman who saved him from certain death and uncover the secrets of  Withering Woods, but some beasts are better left caged.

Adrienne Monson’s Arabella rushes to an enchanted castle to pay her father’s debt, but is met with a burly beast with a mysterious past. It’s a howling paranormal regency romp that will keep you turning pages well past your bedtime.

Review:
Brimhall’s– Quite enjoyed this story, the way that it twisted and curved, with everything twined together.

Parker’s- I loved this story. I didn’t necessarily think of it as Beauty and the Beast, but it was brilliant, unique, and I quite enjoyed it.

Corbett’s– It was an alright short story, but I didn’t quite see a big Beauty and the Beast theme, except for one character’s appearance. My least favourite of the stories.

Monson’s– I quite enjoyed the way she delivered an enchanted castle, and the way the romance developed. I also really enjoyed why Arabella’s father was sent away, and what it meant to and for her, and the Beast, ultimately.

All in all, an alright compilation, but most would have been better if allowed to shine on their own, without being considered a “Beauty and the Beast” novel.

Star Rating: 

Review of Bleeding Heart by Allana Knight

Bleeding Heart: A Reimagining of Beauty and the Beast

The Baroque Fae Series Book 1
By Allana Knight

 

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 175
Winter 2018

Synopsis: (From Amazon) 
Magic is dangerous in seventeenth-century Venice. Fairies are outlawed. No one can quite remember why. Mirabelle is what the city folk call sangua de fata, tainted — a girl with fairy blood. Abandoned on the streets of Paris, Mirabelle has come to live with a merchant’s family on the outskirts of Venice. Brought up as one of their own, still she is daily reminded that she doesn’t belong. Cursed with the power of fairy blood as well as its beauty, experience has taught her that magic, especially hers, comes with a terrible price. As her family’s fortunes dwindle each day, the people of Venice mutter that Mirabelle is cursed. And when her father returns from a fateful journey with a magic rose, Mirabelle will have to face her worst fears if she wants to save him from a fae curse. She will have to enter Ombre Mondiale, the Faerie Realm, and become the wife… of a beast.

Bleeding Heart is a reimagining of Beauty and the Beast, the first in a series of fairytale retellings set in an alternate version of seventeenth-century Europe, where magic is common and the fairy kingdom is one of many world powers striving for domination.

Review:
While this story is a reimagining predominately of Beauty and the Beast, there are various other fairy tale story elements. I did like the connection between the Beast and the faeries, and thought that was a quite ingenious way to connect an “enchantress” in. I loved Mirabelle’s reason for feeling comfortable with leaving home to be with the beast as well as the role of the rose. I loved how Mirabelle’s parentage played into the story, especially with her connection to her father.

This was certainly a decent read that I would definitely recommend.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Allana Knight is the pseudonym of a Southern author and educator who enjoys fantasy, fairy tales, and young adult fiction. She is a reader by day and an author by night. She only accepts authentic reviews, and it is her policy not to solicit reviews or recommendations of her work.

Review of The Unbreakable Curse by Jenna Thatcher

The Unbreakable Curse: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling
By Jenna Thatcher

 

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 210
Winter 2018

Synopsis: (From Amazon) 
When Helen is kidnapped from her home, she enters a life of horror where lies are woven as she slowly begins to fall apart. For centuries, a great Beast hides in his castle, the forgotten story of his curse now a bedtime fable. A powerful Witch is certain her curse will hold, and as time passes, it seems inevitable. Until one day a young girl is given a choice; to live or die. Magic, adventure, and romance come together in this beautifully reimagined tale where Beauty and the Beast meets the tales of Scheherazade.

Review:
A nice, unique retelling while still maintaining a lot of the original fairy tale’s elements. It was neat how Helen’s love for stories developed a connection between she and the Beast, and it was even more ingenious how her “stories” were true things that had happened in their world during the time that the Beast had been removed from society.

The way magic works, or presents itself, to the humans in this world is quite unique. I like that while the magic powers give people a heads up, it doesn’t necessarily save them from danger even if they knew to be wary.

I quite enjoyed this novel, including the ending. I’d definitely recommend it to those who like fairy tale retellings.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Jenna Thatcher lives in a quiet little valley surrounded by mountains. She has been to every state in the US (except Alaska), and has a soft spot for volcanoes. Her favorite job ever was as a children’s librarian where she ordered the 500s – 600s. Three kids and a smart-mouth cat keep her busy, but thankfully she has an amazing husband to juggle them all (not literally). You can find Jenna on Goodreads and at her website; jennathatcherauthor.wordpress.com