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: ✯✯✯

Review of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy Book 1) by [Leigh Bardugo]

Synopsis:
Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold—a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed.

Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha, her country’s magical military elite—and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift.

As the threat to the kingdom mounts and Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation.

Welcome to Ravka . . . a world of science and superstition where nothing is what it seems.

Review:
It was hard for me to get into this book at first, and it wasn’t until the third chapter that I really got into it and became invested. The relationships were definitely not enticing, and there were several times I was hoping she would give up on what she knew before and embrace what she could have instead. I did enjoy how the author had Russian influences, because it’s always fun to learn about another culture, and I will say I think it very much added to this trilogy.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of A Goose Girl by K. M. Shea

A Goose Girl: A Retelling of The Goose Girl
Entwined Tales: Book 1
By K. M. Shea

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 117
Winter 2018

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
As a royal lady’s maid, Rynn has one task: Escort the princess of Astoria to her intended’s kingdom and return home. Unfortunately for the former goose girl, the princess has other plans.

When her charge flees, Rynn’s not only forced to take the princess’s place, but she must also contend with a spiteful fairy horse, a good dose of political intrigue, and Conrad…the mysterious and all-too observant lord who consumes more of her thoughts than he should.

But with war looming on the horizon, Rynn stands to lose more than her heart. Can she convince the princess to return, end the charade, and make peace between the kingdoms?

More importantly, can she possibly avoid a death sentence when the truth is revealed?

A Goose Girl is a romantic fairy tale novella. It can be read on its own but is more fun when read as a part of the Entwined Tales, a series of interconnected fairy tales by six different authors. Each story follows the adventures of one of seven children from the same family as they seek out their own happily ever afters in spite of their reluctant fairy-godfather.

Review:
Wow. This book was fabulous. The characters had such depth and there was such a unique plot line in place. I thought I might have had an idea what was going to happen since I knew the original story, but I was nowhere near close. While the Princess is infuriating, Rynn is a very relatable character. Acting aside, one cannot help but absolutely love the royal family, and how Rynn infiltrates what could be a dastardly war.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
K. M. Shea is a fantasy-romance author who never quite grew out of adventure books or fairy tales, and still searches closets in hopes of stumbling into Narnia. She is addicted to sweet romances, witty characters, and happy endings.

She is also extremely committed to her readers—who have set up their base camp at kmshea.com—and lives in the idyllic Midwest with her furry pet, Perfect Dog.

Review of A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury
A Court of Thorns and Roses book 2
By Sarah J. Maas

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Historical
Number of Pages: 640

Date Started: December 28, 2017
Date Finished: December 30, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.

Review:
Things change. I think that’s the most important lesson in life and love that anyone can get. When things change in one person’s life, the other in a relationship must be willing to adapt and change as well. Sometimes things don’t work out, but relationships always have to be a give and take– as Feyre learns.

The depth of characters is expanded upon as we are introduced into more people, and learn that there is usually more to a person than an acquaintance would know and understand, and that rumours and gossip are not always true. But Feyre, Feyre is growing and changing and while she wants stability, she also wants to DO something, to have a purpose– for as a wise man once told me, life isn’t worth living if it’s stagnant.

The selflessness of some characters, in being so connected and invested, yet allowing others to do what would make them happy, was an excellent contrast to how some may not necessarily truly love a person but the idea of a person–what they represent, what they wanted/expected them to be, but not necessarily who they are.

Needless to say, this book was tremendous, and I’m well into the third at the time of writing this review. Read this series– it’s by far my favourite new series I’ve read in 2017.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog.