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 Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis:
The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm―and even the monster within―to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.

The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.

The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.

King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.

Review:
This book gave us a chance to see some old faces from previous novels in the Grishaverse as well as a deeper understanding of both Nikolai’s desires and intentions for the future and Zoya’s past, and how that influenced the demeanor she’s known for. Both Nikolai and Zoya have to fight who they are to get to who they want and need to become to help both their country and themselves.

Nina’s story truly begins in this book, and I absolutely adored the journey she takes. While there are some things I was left a bit sad about, overall, it is perfect and like nothing I ever would have imagined. There were many times that I had hoped, expected, wanted her to do the rash thing she was known for, but somehow, she managed to be a bit more cautious and the end result was glorious. I can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever get to be truly herself again, or at least tailored to be a bit more like what she had been naturally.

While the ending isn’t quite a cliffhanger, by now I somewhat expect these books to continue, and I look forward to what I imagine will be a continuation of the Grishaverse.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis:
A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction―if they don’t kill each other first.


Review:
Definitely more enjoyable than the original Grisha trilogy, but still found it somewhat hard to get into. Once all the main characters were established it was easier to care about them, but it was quite deep into the novel before you really got any insight into the characters and their backstories. I’ll take Kaz Brekker over Mal in the Grisha trilogy any day, but I also have a special love for Nina and Matthias. All in all, there were stakes, and everyone really grew by the end. I look forward to reading Crooked Kingdom and seeing what mischief the crew manage to get into (or out of).

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Pearl of Magic: A Little Mermaid Romance by Emily Deady

Pearl of Magic: A Little Mermaid Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 3) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
Life in captivity is horrible.

But pretending to be a prisoner is worse. 

Aizel is a Majis and, against her will, a spy. She is supposed to be uncovering secrets for a cruel king, but spends most of her time listening to the haughty, self-absorbed musings of her captor, Prince Erich. 

It would be much less frustrating if she could at least complain about it, but the king has silenced her, taking away her voice so that she cannot wield her magic. 

If she fails to gather information from Erich, her family will be killed. But if she reports back to the king, her people’s only hope for freedom will be exterminated. Can she find a way to communicate with her captor and convince him of the truth about the Majis?

Review:
My goodness does this story have depth! Erich is the last born son, and as such, he finds himself not thought of and respected as his older brothers, and although he does have to act the part of a prince, he doesn’t enjoy having to squelch his self to be prim and proper. Aizel is the opposite, with lots of responsibility and guilt at not being more capable than she is. Both are good protagonists with a lot of depth and growth throughout the story. Both have to overcome obstacles and learn to see beyond the information they’ve had propagated throughout their lives.

I quite enjoyed all of the time alone that we got to witness, and how Erich and Aizel interact with their horses, and the mention of how one is with their horse tends to give an insight to how they are as a person. This may be my favourite in the series so far, though I truly loved A Shard of Glass. I absolutely adore how all of these stories are woven together within one family, but how each story gives more insights on parts of the story we read in previous novels in the series.

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 Shard of Glass: A Cinderella Romance by Emily Deady

Shard of Glass: A Cinderella Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 1) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
Once she was a noblewoman.

Now she is a palace servant.

Ashlin never pictured herself scrubbing floors. But with the family savings depleted and her stepmother crippled by grief, Ashlin selflessly takes a job at the royal palace. She can pursue her dreams of becoming a seamstress someday in the future.

However, as she forms an unlikely friendship with the prince, she learns that the future may not be so certain. Wielders of a powerful magic threaten their small coastal kingdom and Prince Onric does not believe that their defenses will hold. 

As Ashlin navigates growing feelings for the charming prince, she realizes that her unique skills could help save the kingdom. But can she trust the charming prince or he is merely exploiting her selfless nature? 

Shard of Glass is a fantasy retelling of Cinderella. Discover a world where heroines can be both powerful and worthy of protection. If you love sweet romance, a little bit of magic, and heart-melting conversations, then this story was written for you.

Review:
This book was sweet, with nice layers. It wasn’t your typical Cinderella story, but there were definite elements that would be recognized. Ashlin is kind, smart, and resourceful and although she allows herself to be manipulated, she is a strong, brave woman. I absolutely loved getting to see how Onric interacted with Ashlin, and how she got to become herself again after tragedy. I will likely continue reading this series, in part to get more glimpses of enthralling captivating fairy tales that you feel yourself fully drawn into and invested in.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Vessel of Destruction by Kel Carpenter

Vessel of Destruction (Daizlei Academy Book 4) by [Kel Carpenter]

Synopsis:
If there is one truth that I hold to in my life, it is that when it rains, it pours.

Perhaps that is why I built myself not for the everyday storms most experience.
But for the hurricanes I have had to learn to withstand.

I know what it is like to feel your heart crack in half like a tree that snaps under too much pressure.

I know the bone-deep, all-consuming, numbness that sets in when the wind and the cold and the water become too much.

I know the desperation that claws under the surface as you try to wait through the night, and hope that come the dawn, the storm has passed.
But perhaps, most importantly, I know how to survive.
Or really, I am too spiteful to die.

Either way, my world is falling apart around me. Death and destruction are knocking on my door. And a storm is coming. One unlike anything we have ever encountered before.

This time it is not Anastasia I will face on the battlefield, but the one who calls to me. The one I cannot face.
This is one storm I don’t know if I will survive . . . or if the price of living is too high.

Review:
This one finally tied the series up, and I have to say, there were still some twists and turns I didn’t see from beginning to end. It was well based, and I did enjoy getting to see Selena further develop from what one wants to do and what one has to do, even if it means giving up things you hold dear. The end has a bittersweet tie in, and the only question I had left (besides the usual wishing it wasn’t over of a good book series) was whatever happened with Blair and Alec. Perhaps another book/series might pick up on that someday…

If you’re looking for an adult paranormal/urban fantasy romance similar to this, I still highly recommend Kel Carpenter’s Queen of the Damned book series.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Scion of Midnight by Kel Carpenter

Scion of Midnight (Daizlei Academy Book 2) by [Kel Carpenter]

Synopsis:
My name is Selena Foster, and I am the first of my kind in a millennium.

I thought that made me invincible. Untouchable. All it really makes me is a target…and a weapon.

The Supernatural Council is going to war, and they’ve decided what better spear than the girl that can slay demons?

So they blackmail me, and I become the property of the Council. 

They think they own me, but you can’t own what you can’t control. 

I thought the first year at Daizlei was hard…but the second might kill me.

Either way, I’m not going down without a fight.

Review:
Wow, what a drudge! This book was hard to get into, and I was 70% through before I started being interested and invested again. So many annoying things happen in the beginning of the book, all to do with Selena being a moody teenager. How her interactions with Lucas go are so frustrating, and even by the end I was still mad at her for all the time she wasted being irritated with herself when apparently the true way to get anywhere is to LET YOURSELF GO, but in the next breath, have control! It isn’t even a matter of her trying to gain skills and better herself, she just has a pity party and never seems to snap out of it. All of her relationships suffer in this book, and while it is likely a set up for the next I really hope the angst and inability to be proactive are lost/worked through. While I am not pleased with how the book ended, I have enjoyed a couple of other series by Kel Carpenter so intend to stick it out and hope it gets better.

There is A LOT of connection in this particular story with similar things in the Queen of the Damned series, which while it was written second, I do think I prefer so far. It’s an adult series, so if adult urban fantasy romance is your jam, check it out.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯

Review of Heir of Shadows by Kel Carpenter

Heir of Shadows (Daizlei Academy Book 1) by [Kel Carpenter]

Synopsis:
There’s only one rule in the world I come from.
Keep our existence a secret. Period.

The day my sister broke that rule one too many times, I knew there would be consequences. I expected us to be sent to one of those schools for “troubled” kids—and maybe Daizlei Academy was, in a way. But really, it was far more complicated than that.

You see, I thought that world had forgotten me. Forgotten us. For years we were left alone, and one day . . . we weren’t.

It was only when I got there that I remembered the second rule:
Trust no one.

Because in our world? They would kill me if they knew the truth of what I am.

Daizlei Academy is a school for Supernaturals.

And me? I’m so much more.

*This is a YA+ Academy series with slow-burn romance and a strong but flawed heroine. It is labeled YA(+) for stronger language and some mature situations. As the heroine ages and grows so does the content of the stories.*

Review:
While I recently (starting in December, I believe) have been binge reading Kel Carpenter, this book has been quite a bit different than many of the other series I’ve read. From the beginning we learn about the triplets Selena, Alexandra, and Lily and we are brought on a journey with them. Firstly, we learn very early on about Alexandra and Lily’s powers, but I can honestly say that I had no idea what Selena’s were until she revealed it herself–an enigma that would have made me want to keep reading even if I hadn’t already been fairly invested in the story.

Selena goes through so many things that I feel so many people would resonate with–being the “oldest”/one who has to look out for her siblings and make sure they’re okay, as well as having guilt/trauma over not being able to fix things or prevent life altering things in the past (and having a complex because of that). Selena also throws herself into something she’s trained in, and I feel like many people, especially those with trauma or trying to forget things and focus on something better, also do that to escape their thoughts, feelings, emotions. Seeing her grow as a person, both kill wise and psychologically, was an enjoyable experience.

All of the main characters are rather well done and fleshed out, and like most series, I immediately started the next one when I finished this one.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy Book 3) by [Leigh Bardugo]

Synopsis:
Soldier. Summoner. Saint. The nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

The Darkling rules from his shadow throne while a weakened Alina Starkov recovers from their battle under the dubious protection of the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Now her hopes lie with the magic of a long-vanished ancient creature and the chance that an outlaw prince still survives.

As her allies and enemies race toward war, only Alina stands between her country and a rising tide of darkness that could destroy the world. To win this fight, she must seize a legend’s power—but claiming the firebird may be her ruin.

Review:
It was hard to get into this, seeing Alina start as such a meek and modest person. Despite continuously not wanting to be used and controlled, she always tends to end up in situations where people are telling her what to do, how to look, how to act. She never really steps up and figures out what needs to be done- there’s always someone else there with the answer (Thank you, David).

This book was when I finally gave up any hope that the Darkling would be redeemed. So much potential for him to be changed. I did, however, quite come to like between the second and third books, Nikolai. In many ways I was disappointed in how this one ended, in part because I thought she would have made a good queen to Nikolai. Of all the things they could have done when free, I hadn’t expected what they chose.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯