Review of Devastation: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling by M. J. Haag

Devastation: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling (A Beastly Tale Book 3) by [M.J. Haag, Ulva Eldrige]

Synopsis:
Everything has changed…

Abused and rejected, Benella strives to regain a purpose for her life that does not involve the beast.  However, when her father loses his employment, she finds herself returning to the last place she ever wanted to see.

A beast no more…

Alec, Lord of the North, is a man once more, a man Benella doesn’t know or understand.  As she struggles to reconcile the cold, distant man with the beast she once knew, she must also learn when it is right to forgive and when it is time to move on. 

Review:
This book really put so much into perspective of how Benella felt about relationships and trust between people. There were multiple times one had to stop and wonder why she kept doing the same stupid thing without thinking, but then, people are not always wary all the time. Seeing Alec as a man as he attempts to understand and work with Benella is quite nice, especially when he slips and she is reminded of their time alone. Of course I wouldn’t wish bad things on our main character, but it did seem like there was a lot of almosts that set her mind on a course that could have made a very different end. I realized as I neared the end, constantly worried that the happily ever after wouldn’t happen, that Benella was quite a believable character, with real concerns even if the reader (omnipresent as one is) knew shouldn’t have worried. There were times she misplaced care for possession, though I couldn’t truly blame her as she hadn’t been looked after for most of her life. Many things in life could be far more easily understood if we looked from both perspectives, our own and others, after all.

There were two great quotes that I will share from this final book in the Beastly tales.

“My mother once told me time changed everything. In that moment, I realized what she meant. Nothing ever stayed the same.”

“Her search for material wealth and social standing wouldn’t bring her happiness. Happiness wasn’t so easily obtained. It took kindness and some true sacrifice, neither concept truly understood by my sister.”

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Deceit: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling by M. J. Haag

Deceit: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling (A Beastly Tale Book 2) by [M.J. Haag, Ulva Eldrige]

Synopsis:
Only Beauty can tame the Beast.

Safely hidden within the estate’s enchanted walls, Benella no longer has time to fear her tormentors. She’s too preoccupied attempting to determine what makes the beast so beastly. It might be the taxing visits from the aged enchantress who cursed him or his growing vexation at not being allowed to touch Benella.

In order to gain her freedom, she must find a way to break the curse, but first, she must help him become a better man while protecting her heart.

Review:
The world grew and it became larger and more coloured and I thought that Benella had truly touched the beast. I thought that despite her sisters and how horrible they were that she would turn out not differently in part because she was so sensible. We had so much more added to both knowledge of how Benella grew up to also the people who had been around the Beast and how he cared for them. The ending… how, how could he just do that?! I need to read the third book, immediately! One star off for the end!

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Depravity: A Beauty and the Beast Novel by M. J. Haag

Depravity: A Beauty and the Beast Novel (A Beastly Tale Book 1) by [M.J. Haag, Ulva Eldridge, Allisyn Ma]

Synopsis:
Seductively dark. Deliciously beastly.

Benella is concerned with two things–avoiding the two village boys who torment her and scrounging for food to help feed her family. Unfortunately, the best wild fruit and vegetables are near the walls of the estate, a dark misty place inhabited by an unforgiving beast.

When her tormentors lock her behind the massive gates, Benella knows her fate is sealed. Yet, the fate isn’t one she expects. Her encounter with the beast starts a bizarre cycle of bargaining for her freedom, a freedom the beast seems determined to see her lose.

Review:
I quite enjoyed this beginning of Beauty and the Beast’s tale by M. J. Haag. There wasn’t too much spice, but it set a very good scene for what Benella’s life was like, as well as how the Beast acted. Opening scene with the baker left a very lasting impression in my mind thought part of me wonders why Sara would be upset about the particular change in price since it seemed more beneficial to her. I found it very interesting that he was so kind and careful with her for so long. The duality of how she is treated depending on what she wears is not lost. I quite look forward to seeing how the story continues to unfold.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Gleam by Raven Kennedy

Gleam (The Plated Prisoner Series Book 3) by [Raven Kennedy]

Synopsis:
Book 3 of this adult fantasy series continues in this epic story inspired by the myth of King Midas, fae, fated romance, and insurmountable greed.

“I don’t choose him. Not anymore. I’m choosing me.

King Midas made me the woman I am today. Notorious. Unattainable. His.

The thing about being confined is that you believe it’s to keep the bad out. …Until you realize it’s about keeping you in.

I’m now in a strange kingdom surrounded by liars, with no allies of my own, but I won’t sit idly by and let myself wither. No, there’s something that’s bloomed from the pit of my repression. Something dark. Something angry.

But the last thing I expected was for my anger to call out to him. King Ravinger.

He’s sinister and powerful and entirely too seductive. I’ve learned my lesson with trusting manipulative kings, so why does my chest constrict every time he’s near? I need to tread carefully, or I’m at risk of losing much more than just my freedom.

Regret and revenge war inside of me, and I need to figure out a plan fast before I get tangled up in the schemes of kings and queens.

Because I won’t be caught in a cage again. No, this time, it’ll be me setting the trap.
…I just hope my heart comes out of this unscathed.

Please note: This is an adult fantasy series with dark elements that may be triggering, including Stockholm Syndrome and emotional manipulation, as well as explicit romance scenes. Read at your own discretion.

Review:
Firstly, the trigger warning on this one is different than the others, which is interesting, but going into the story itself…

There are so many moments of finally in this novel! Unfortunately I personally found that while certain awaited scenes were nice, I was drawn out of the story because of the modern language usage that in no way fits any other part of this series. Additionally, this was the first book in the series that I found myself actively skimming parts of instead of fully reading to continue on. Auren finally looks inside and realizes all the ways that she was taken advantage of, and her resolve is quite inspiring. There were moments of sheer triumph, and there were also moments of true uncertainty and potential terror. Towards the very end there was a huge twist revealed that I never expected and wow. We end, as usual, with a big cliffhanger, though not quite so bad as some of the others- so frustrating that the next isn’t out until May!

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Glint by Raven Kennedy

Glint (The Plated Prisoner Series Book 2) by [Raven Kennedy]

Synopsis:
“You want to make your life easier? Then be the caged bird that you are and sing.”

For ten years, I’ve lived in a gilded cage inside King Midas’s golden castle. But one night changed everything.

Now I’m here, a prisoner of Fourth Kingdom’s army, and I’m not sure if I’m going to make it out of this in one piece. They’re marching to battle, and I’m the bargaining chip that will either douse the fire or spark a war.

At the heart of my fear, my worry, there’s him—Commander Rip.

Known for his brutality on the battlefield, his viciousness is unsurpassed. But I know the truth about what he is.

Fae.

The betrayers. The murderers. The ones who nearly destroyed Orea, wiping out Seventh Kingdom in the process. Rip has power sizzling beneath this skin and glinting spikes down his spine. But his eyes—his eyes are the most compelling of all.

When he turns those black eyes on me, I feel captive for an entirely different reason. I may be out of my cage, but I’m not free, not even close.

In the game of kings and armies, I’m the gilded pawn. The question is, can I out maneuver them?

This is the captivating second book of The Plated Prisoner series. It’s an adult epic fantasy story blending romance, intrigue, and beautiful imagery. Return to the seductive story of magic inspired by the myth of King Midas, and get caught up in the world of Orea.

Please note: There is explicit language and romance in this book, not suitable for those under the age of 18.

Review:
Finally. Finally, Auren becomes the her that I thought was hiding underneath. She’d guided to see herself and stop hiding what she is, who she is, and facing up to how she is treated versus how she’s perceived herself to be treated. This book was perfect. There was a slow build, tension, but we truly see how strong Auren is, and what she could be, if cultivated. I love Rip. I did suspect what we learn of Midas’ power, but I would think that wouldn’t be a hard deduction.

A few highlights were in chapter 18 when Malina thought, “The women might not all be the heads of their houses, but they speak into the ears of the men who are. If done right, those whispered encouragements can become the subconscious thoughts of ignorant men.”

Another gem would be, “Foolish is the king who does not prepare for attack. From outsiders, as well as those within.”

Another, from the illustrious Rip, “Yes, how magnanimous of him to lock you behind bars all day and call you his favored whore.”

Writing this review as soon as I finished the book, because I cannot wait to get and dive into book 3! *Warning, this book ends in a delicious cliffhanger. Thank goodness the next book is already out!

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Sky of Wind: An East of the Sun West of the Moon Romance by Emily Deady

Sky of Wind: An East of the Sun West of the Moon Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 4) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
He’s my fake husband. Our kingdom’s only hope.
And he has no idea that I’m desperately in love with him.

I’m not strong and powerful like my brothers. I’m just a princess. A rather spoiled princess. My skills will not help us win this war.

But turns out, my mischievous mind and diplomatic mouth are perfect for subterfuge. By marrying Sol–a magic-wielder–I can sweet talk our way directly into the enemy’s headquarters where Sol can destroy the source of their power.

I just can’t let myself get distracted by my fake husband’s stormy eyes, or the gentle pressure of his hand on my arm as we exchange pleasantries with fellow dignitaries.

Pull it together, princess. Your people come first.

Sky of Wind is a standalone sweet romance with a happily ever after set in a larger fantasy world. It can be read on its own, but if you don’t like spoilers, start with Shard of Glass.

Review:
I absolutely loved this book. Having just finished the book about Robin when she was younger it was so great seeing not so young Meena. I absolutely loved seeing Robin again as well, especially with the knowledge that Lady or Maid gave. Meena shows that she had deep feelings and puts others first, even if her family never gives her the chance to ever do anything. Perhaps it’s because she’s a girl, perhaps it’s because she’s youngest, but seeing her learn of the real world and plight of other people was both heartbreaking and endearing. She took everything in stride and worked so hard to try to keep her people, and Sol, safe. This series is magnificent and I loved this book. Highly recommend this series and Emily Deady as an author.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Lady or Maid: A Goose Girl novella by Emily Deady

Lady or Maid: A Goose Girl Novella (Fairy Tale Royals) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
Most people wouldn’t complain about being sent to live in a palace.
But I’d rather stay in my forest home.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a choice. I’m far too young to inherit Lockwood and the king of Iseldis is now my guardian. His luxurious feasts, blazing fires, and fancy clothing will do nothing to ease the fresh pain in my heart.

But my maid has an excellent suggestion. If we switch places before we arrive at the palace, I can grieve my lost parents in peace before my entire life changes.

What could go wrong?

Lady or Maid is a short story about Ian and Robin which takes place ten years before Shard of Glass. It is a sweet retelling of The Goose Girl and takes place during the Iseldan version of Christmas. Cuddle up for some cozy snow, sour berries, and a first crush.

Review:
This book was just perfect. I loved how donkeys were worked in instead of merely horses; it gave an interesting and neat development to the story that hasn’t been done. It was also neat how Robin showed herself to Ian despite supposedly being a goose girl, and how much he could see from his interactions with her. His keen insight after studying under his father to become king was quite well shown. I quite enjoyed this novella, and didn’t want to set it down. It was easy to read, but what really drew me in was how it really revolved around the emotions, relationships, and connections between the royals and their inner circle. Absolutely loved it.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

Synopsis:
Kingdoms will clash. Choose your side.

The incredible conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.

Face your fears, fight the battle.
Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone–even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.

Fight the battle, save the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and a magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.

As the two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.

Review:
I waited and waited for the two factions to end up together and honestly I was not disappointed when they were together. However, when the parties were separate, it really seemed like Harper and Rhen left any sort of real connection for most of the book. When they finally came back together, their spark was undeniable, but it remained very obvious that Harper never really found a purpose in Emberfall, though she originally tried to help out in previous books. Jake finally found a purpose, which was great to see, but, Harper really failed quite a bit and really played the part of “uncertain little sister” in this book. The men were great, grew, had good arcs. The women, however, seemed to grow less certain of themselves. Harper’s spark was seen when she fled the castle, but Lia Mara never truly seemed to become fully confident in herself.

While I loved the last chapter and where it seemed to be going I felt like we dropped off with part of the story left untold. Harper still had no real “end” and while we can assume Noah and Jake are together we don’t know where they are staying or what they plan to do. It feels like there should be another book to tie up loose ends, which is to say, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one set 16 years in the future or so…

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

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: ✯✯✯✯