Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

 

 

Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Pages: 477

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 2019

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★


Fall in love, break the curse.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. 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 constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? 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.


if you haven’t read this book yet, please be aware that this review MAY contain minor spoilers. Proceed at your own risk!

Like a lot of books, A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a super hyped book that I was a little unsure of. However, a lot of my friends have read this book and enjoyed it so I thought I probably would too. I definitely was not wrong!

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and follows Harper after she is taken from the real world to the land of Emberfall. In Emberfall, she must become the curse breaker, a role she doesn’t know about yet.

Thoughts

I decided to pick this book up as I traded with someone for an ARC of A Heart So Fierce and Broken which is the second book in this series, coming out in January, so I decided it was about time that I read the first book. I really enjoyed this book but I think my main criticism of it is that it did feel a little bit slow at times. I know that books can’t constantly have action all the time, but I felt that the pace of this did slow down a lot between those kinds of scenes.

I quite liked the writing of this book, although as mentioned, I did find the pacing quite slow at times. I do think the writing suited this book and I found myself wanting to keep reading it when I couldn’t. I actually went into work quite tired a few days as I stayed up to finish this book. I’d describe the writing in this book as addictive. It was easy to read and understand which made it for a rather fast read overall. It was also perfectly descriptive – not too little but also not too much.

I thought the plot of this book was quite good. I went into it vaguely knowing what the storyline was going to be like seeing as it’s based on the story of Beauty and the Beast. Of course, it follows a girl being taken in by a Beast and this girl must break the curse. In this book, the Beast is a prince that relives the same season over and over again. It at the end of each season, he turns into a horrifying monster. Harper is the last girl that Rhen must try to capture the heart of before he becomes a monster enslaved to the one who cursed him forever.

Harper is a fierce character that I quite liked following throughout this book. She is an independent and feisty character. Plus, she lives with cystic fibrosis which does not hinder her or her character in any way. I thought it was really positive to see a character living with a disability that didn’t define her. This was really great to see in a fantasy book and I think it’s just even better to see disability representation in YA books so that more people can actually relate and see themselves in books. Harper is a compassionate character who really focuses on helping those less fortunate than her, despite everything going on in her life. From her mothers illness, to her and her brother just trying to keep going, she tries to help those that are in need.

The other characters in this book are Prince Rhen and Grey. I thought that Prince Rhen was a good character and similar to Harper in some ways but I also felt that he was a little selfish at times, not being able to see past what he wanted due to being blinded by the curse that binds him. Despite this, he did genuinely try to do what he thought was right and tried to protect his people from the Beast inside. Grey’s character was a tricky one. Throughout this book, he remains fairly neutral but a loyal friend to Rhen. However, in some scenes throughout this book, you could see his softer side peeping out.

In regards to the world building of this book, I thought that the land of Emberfall was described really well which definitely aided the story as I was able to easily imagine the different settings. The majority of this book did take place in a castle though which was a fairly easy setting to imagine. I think the setting up the world in this book was fairly important as it’s a fantasy So based entirely on the authors imagination, but I definitely think she was able to get her vision across in this book really well.

Final Thoughts

I’m glad that I picked this book up and that it pretty much lived up to the hype. It wasn’t a love love love book for me, but I did really enjoy it and as mentioned earlier, it did have me staying up past my bed time to read more of it and that’s something I haven’t done in a long, long while. I would recommend this if you’re looking for a retelling or a fantasy book, especially for the Autumn/Winter weather coming up. You’ll want to get cosy with this one!

Review: Rebel Dogs! Heroic Tales of Trusty Hounds

Review: Rebel Dogs! Heroic Tales of Trusty Hounds

 

 

Title: Rebel Dogs! Heroic Tales of Trusty Hounds

Author: Kimberlie Hamilton

Pages: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 2019

Source: Early Finished Copy (Thanks to Scholastic!)

Rating: ★★★★


Tail-wagging tales of real-life Rebel Dogs! 

Get your paws on the stories and secrets of some of history’s most heroic hounds!

An engaging collection packed with over 30 real-life dogs, including film stars with fur, hounds that love to help, superstars of science and war heroes – these rebel dogs are the stars of their own stories.


Rebel Dogs! is a fun book that also encourages learning about facts in a fun and colourful way. Although it is about heroic dogs and, it provides a different and interesting way of educating people about these trusty hounds. I really enjoyed learning about the different dogs in this book.

As mentioned, the spreads in this book are quite colourful with wonderful illustrations of each dog, making the book quite a fairly interactive experience. The book lays out each heroic dogs actions as well as what happened to them after, leaving no room for questions about what happened to each dog afterwards. I personally enjoyed the stories more about the dogs involved in war stories but this book doesn’t just talk about dogs that were involved in war.

This book is aimed more towards Children, as demonstrated by the colourful page spreads and the easy to read stories on each dog, but that doesn’t mean that older children, teens and adults won’t enjoy this too. It could just be the perfect book for children and older siblings, parents or other family members to read together.

After reading this, I actually passed this to my cousin who is still in primary school. She loves animals and I know how much she wants a dog so passed this onto her. I’m not quite sure my auntie will be thanking me for encouraging her want of a dog more but I knew that my cousin would love looking at all of the pictures and learning just how clever dogs can be. She had a quick flick through when I gave it to her and really liked the images and colourful spreads!

Final Thoughts

Rebel Dogs! is such a fun book, perfect for your animal loving friend or family members. It especially appeals to children with all of the brightly coloured pages, pictures and the facts that are included. This book would be a really wonderful gift for those ‘crazy dog people’ in your life, especially if they’re kids.

 

First Chapter Feels: A Different Time by Michael K. Hill

 

 

 

Title: A Different Time

Author: Michael K. Hill

Pages: 197

Publisher: Tangent Press

Published: 2019

Source: Early Copy (Thanks to TheWriteReads)


Keith Nolan falls in love with a remarkable young woman from the past, talking to him on a home video she recorded in 1989. To keep their conversation going, he must find more of her tapes—while forces work against them both, and time is running out.


First Chapter Feels is something new to this blog that I thought I would introduce on the blog tour for A Different Time by Michael K. Hill, hosted by The Write Reads. I wanted to do something a little different for this blog tour and this post was what came to mind.

From the synopsis, this sounds like an interesting book that I believe would appeal to perhaps more adult audiences. It’s a short book so it can easily be read in a few hours.

The prologue and first chapter heavily revolve around comic books. The prologue establishes that our main character, Keith, has had a love of comic books from a young age. The first chapter shows that many years later, Keith is still into comic books, but has a more important reason to be completing a specific collection.

When we meet Keith later in this book, he has obviously grown older and is now at the age of 22. When we meet him again, he is on the look out for comics when he stumbles across an old video tape. At this point, we know nothing about the old video tape or what it might contain and Keith promptly forgets about it after making a considerable important purchase.

Both the prologue and first chapter are quite short, which is understandable, given that this book is just under 200 pages. As I said before, this book does sound quite interesting and after reading the first chapter, I am intrigued to find out more about what is on the tape.

Would I carry on with this book? Based on the first chapter, I think that this book definitely makes the reader interested in discovering more information about what this tape contains and what with it being so short, it would suggest that this book is relatively fast paced.

What do you think about First Chapter Feels? Do you believe that you can get an idea for how a book will be paced or how it may end from the first chapter? Or do you need to read a few chapters to settle in?

Make sure you check out all of the other blog posts on this ultimate blog tour hosted by The Write Reads, who you should definitely check out should you have a blog!

Review: Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

Review: Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

 

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Title: Tunnel of Bones

Author: Victoria Schwab

Pages: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 2019

Source: Early Finished Copy (Thanks to Scholastic!)

Rating: ★★★★


Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.


Tunnel of Bones is the sequel to Victoria’s debut children novel, City of Ghosts. Like the first book in this series, which I reviewed here, it follows Cassidy Blake, a girl who almost died once and can now cross the veil between the living and ghosts.

When I finished City of Ghosts last year, I was already excited for the sequel. I rarely read children’s books, so this was a little bit of a surprise to me but if a book or author is good, then who am I to stop myself from reading what I enjoy?

Unlike City of Ghosts, which is set in Edinburgh, Tunnel of Bones follows the Blake family to Paris which is a perfect setting for a ghostly book. Paris is a place full of so much history with plenty of ghosts, I’m sure. Just take the Catacombs for example! I thought that the book being set here was really cool, plus there is a map at the front of the book pointing out important places in the city. What I loved about this book being set in Paris was that it reminded me so much of my own trip to the city two years ago.

The plot of this was really easy to follow and very fast paced. It was full of action and was quite tense at times, but really gripped me the whole way through, so much so that I didn’t want to put it down! In all honesty, you could probably read this book in about 3-4 hours based on how quick it is, plus it has the larger font as most children’s books have!

img_0524In terms of the characters, we are back with the same characters from the first book, with the introduction of some new ones including a few ghosts! Of course, these books are about ghosts but this one was different to the previous books in terms of it’s creepiness. What I found with this book is that we got to know the characters a little better as we’re spending a bit more time with them. I liked following Cassidy on her adventures through Paris and think that she is quite a likeable character.

I would say this book is aimed at older children, I wouldn’t recommend reading this to say, a 5 or 6 year old in case it freaks them out. At the age of 24, even I was a little creeped out at times, but then I am scared of ghosts (I’m on the fence about whether they exist or not). I think if a book has an ability to really make you feel affected by its content, like me being creeped out at times, then it’s definitely a good one.

Final Thoughts

Tunnel of Bones was a really great sequel to City of Ghosts and I’d fully recommend picking it up, especially as the spooky season is approaching us! Both books are incredibly fast reads due to their quick pace so if you haven’t picked up the first one yet, I’d suggest doing that but also reading them back to back!

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Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

 

 

Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

Author: Holly Jackson

Pages: 432

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Published: 2019

Source: ARC from YALC 2018 (Also bought)

Rating: ★★★★★


The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?


I heard about A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder just before YALC last year and heard that there would be early copies available. As the genre of this book is YA mystery, I knew that I had to get my hands on it and I was one of the lucky lot that did. It took me three days of chasing Holly down to get this but it was absolutely worth it. As it wasn’t out until May this year, I decided to not pick it up until closer to the time of its release. I know, I know, I had a copy so early that I had the opportunity to read it before everybody else but I just wanted to read it closer to its release date.

I read this book a few months back now over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend actually, which was in April. It’s taken me a little while getting to review it but that absolutely isn’t a reflection of how much I enjoyed this book. In fact, I read this book in 5-6 hours and that should give you more of an idea of how much I enjoyed this book. It is definitely a 5-star read but if I could, I would give it more.

Thoughts

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder follows Pippa as she does her final year project on the murder of And Bell, a girl from the same small town as Pippa, Little Kilton. Pippa believes that Sal has been wrongly accused of her murder and starts her own investigation into the case where she ends up discovering some dark truths.

As this book hadn’t yet been released, there wasn’t a lot of hype surrounding it and so that meant I went into it without the opinions of others which I quite liked. It meant that I could go into this book with little to no expectations and see how much I really liked it. As I mentioned earlier, I read this book in 5-6 hours and pretty much in one sitting. That is how much I enjoyed it. There was so much suspense and I just really wanted to keep reading to find out more. It was an exciting and thrilling read that I throughly enjoyed.

The writing is mostly told from Pippa’s perspective, but there is the inclusion of forms like Pippa’s final year project form and other things like that which help to break the book up but also help to tell the story a little bit more as you are given factual information. I quite liked Holly’s style of writing and found that in this book, it was quite fast paced and consistent all the way through, both having helped me to read this book so quickly.

In this book, we follow our main character Pippa who ends up focusing the majority of her time on this project, with the help of Sal Singh’s younger brother, who is desperate for answers. I quite enjoyed Pippa’s character. She’s a straight A-student with a few friends and a good family around her. She is an easily likeable character and very good at investigating into things further, being able to see things that others may not. She’s also a compassionate character but can get frustrated at times when trying to get answers in uncomfortable situations. Pippa does get a bit consumed with the project as the book goes on, but I think that the reader also becomes that way inclined as, like Pippa, you want answers. I quite liked Pippa’s family who were quite supportive of her.

I also quite liked Ravi, Sal Singh’s younger brother. Pippa has a lot of dealings with him throughout this story as he looks for answers about his brother and you can really sympathise with him and his family in this book, as they feel shut out from the Little Kilton community after their son and brother has been accused of murder.

This book was just so full of suspense and it’s just so, so good. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is such a great addition to the ever growing YA Mystery genre, a genre that I have been loving over the last year and have been eager to find more books that come under it. This is also a UKYA book which is great as I definitely want to make an effort to read more books by UKYA authors.

Final Thoughts

I would absolutely recommend picking up A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. It’s full of twists and turns and I read it so quickly. It really does capture you from the first page and it doesn’t let go of you until its ended. We definitely need an expansion of the YA mystery genre and this is such a great addition to it which I really do wish more people would pick up. It is such a thrilling read and a solid debut. I am most definitely looking forward to seeing more of Holly’s writing in the future.

Review: The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Review: The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

 

Title: The Kingdom

Author: Jess Rothenberg

Pages: 352

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Published: 2019

Source: ARC (I received a copy from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review)

Rating: ★★★


The Kingdom is a place where technology helps dreams come to life. Formerly extinct species roam the park, and twelve beautiful ‘Fantasists’ – half-human, half-android princesses – entertain visitors and make wishes come true. But this fairytale ends in murder, and now Ana, one of the twelve Fantasists, is in the dock after finding herself experiencing emotions and romantic feelings against all her programming . . .
Told through court testimony, interrogation records, film footage, eye-witness accounts and fragmented flashbacks.

You may think you’ve heard of The Kingdom before, well you probably have but it’s wearing a different cover. The US edition and the UK edition do have different covers that are quite different to each other. The US edition looks fairly different, as you can see.

I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t have much of an idea of what The Kingdom was about prior to reading it other than what I got from the blurb. What intrigued me was the fact that the plot is told via various methods with court testimonies, interrogation records and flashbacks being the main methods used. I find books that are set out this way to be fairly quick but also that they keep you guessing!

Thoughts

In this book, we follow Princess Ana who is a Fantasist which means she is half-human, half-cyborg. It follows her mostly through the flashbacks that make up the majority of this book. As already mentioned, the book is also told via court testimonies and interrogation records as there has been a murder. Through these different ways of story telling, we find out a lot of information about The Kingdom itself and it’s Fantasists.

This book hasn’t had a big hype around it but I definitely feel like all the reviews I have seen of it have been really positive, so I was a little disappointed to find that I just didn’t love it the same. However, I do think that’s more me than the book itself. Sci-fi isn’t usually a genre that I read that much of, especially books that are set in Space or books set in a very technological future which is the section of Sci-fi I would definitely group this book into.

The writing of this book was interesting. As mentioned a few times now, it’s told via various different methods and that made it quite a quick read. I think my favourite parts of the book to read were the court testimonies and interrogation records. I did also like the flashback scenes because they offered more information but I did find some of them to read a little bit slow at times. The writing was quite easy to read though and the pacing was fairly consistent through most of the flashback scenes. Of course, the shorter interrogation records and court testimonies read much faster.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really connect with the characters of this book. It’s odd because I felt like the characters weren’t really human at all, what with the fact that they definitely felt more programmable rather than capable of feeling things. Although, I did feel like the systems started to get overridden over the course of the book. I guess the thing is, I didn’t really care all that much for Ana, the main character. Throughout this book, she is learning new things about the world all the time, despite never having seen it. Some of her sisters are also the same, what with learning the truth about a world that they have never been able to see. It was interesting to see the characters learn about things, but at the same time, I did just feel like I didn’t really care about the characters all that much.

The world was quite easy to get to grips with. The Kingdom, to me, was a more futuristic version of Disney World, what with a Castle and the monorail, it was definitely giving me Disney vibes and so because of that, I found it quite easy to imagine the setting. Because I had his image in my head, I did like the world because I do like Disney World. The setting is quite important to the story because it is where the majority of the book takes place, save for the court and interrogation sessions.

The themes of this book are quite clearly technology and how it could advance, but also the uglier side to it and the humans that create it. This book does show both the good things that could come of it and the bad. It’s interesting in that respect because The Kingdom is something that could realistically become a reality in our ever-changing and ever-growing, technological world.

Final Thoughts

I’m still not sure The Kingdom was quite the book for me, but I know that lots of people have really enjoyed this book and so I know that the book isn’t really the issue, it’s just that it’s not really my kind of thing. I would recommend it if you are into Disney and books with futuristic vibes as this definitely has both of those.

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

 

Title: Girls of Paper and Fire

Author: Natasha Ngan

Pages: 380

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Published: 2018

Source: Bought (Paperback received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

Rating: ★★★★


Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king.
It’s the highest honour they could hope for…
And the most demeaning.

This year, there’s a ninth girl.
And instead of paper,
She’s made of fire.

Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class in Ikhara. Ten years ago, her mother was snatched by the royal guards, and her fate remains unknown. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl whose golden eyes, whose rumoured beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. There, Lei does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.


Girls of Paper and Fire has been on my TBR since I picked it up at YALC in 2018. I (shamefully) didn’t pick it up until May of this year and I instantly regretted the fact that I had waited so long to get to it.

Before going into this book, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from Girls of Paper and Fire. All I really knew was that it had a pretty cover and that, from the blurb, I was interested to find out more. I did also know that there was quite a bit of hype surrounding this book and that piqued my interest too. I was intrigued to find out why this book had so much hype and whether it would live up to it.

Thoughts

Girls of Paper and Fire is set in Ikhara and follows our main character, Lei. Lei’s mother was taken ten years prior to when we meet her in this story and we can see how that affects her though she is content with her life. Lei is an intriguing character to those in Ikhara because she is the girl with golden eyes, eyes that shouldn’t belong to her. She gets taken from her home to become a Paper Girl at the King’s palace and that is where our story really starts.

Girls of paper and fire by natasha naan lay flat on an open copy of Girls of paper and fire on top of a wooden box, surrounding by a grey blanket. The books cover has a pair of eyes surrounded by hair covering part of the face, with the title in a large font across the bottom two thirds of the book, with the authors name at the bottom. The cover is a dark purple, hot pink with bits of gold throughout the hair covering the face.

I enjoyed the writing of this book and felt that the writing really settled into the story more as the book went on. I did find that the pacing was a little bit slow at first, which could be down to the slight reading slump I was in, but after the first 100-150 pages, I felt that the pace was then consistent until the last 50 or so pages when the plot really began to amp up and everything started to come together. The pacing did work for this book although I did feel it could have been a little quicker, but this did mean that it gave enough time to take in all the information given to us. I found the pacing and writing went well together, especially towards the end.

I did enjoy the plot of this book and found it to be quite interesting but also a little sad at times. The plot centres around Lei and her position of being a Paper Girl along with 8 others. The girls can be both supportive of each other and also mean. I mostly enjoyed the scenes when Lei was with certain characters as they felt more nerve wracking than others. The book explores themes of LGBTQ+ relationships and forbidden love within an environment that especially doesn’t permit it. The book also deals with themes of loss and grief and how both are dealt with. Overall, I thought the plot was interesting and solid.

As mentioned, we follow the character, Lei. Lei is quite a defiant character who deals with a lot throughout this book. After being taken from her family and all that she’s known, the wound of losing her mother is torn open again as she looks for answers as to what happened to her. Lei also fights the system in this story, displaying her strength and belief for what is right. I quite enjoyed her character and felt sorry for the situation that she had been forced into. As well a Lei, there were a few other girls in this book that Lei befriends that I liked. Though the Paper girl’s are not exactly close, we see glimpses of how they feel and because of that, I found myself warming to quite a few of them.

I thought that this was a great novel from Natasha. If you didn’t know, this is not actually her first novel, her first novel, The Elites, was actually on my TBR for a while but I never managed to get to it. Like many, Girls of Paper and Fire is my first introduction to her writing and I’m looking forward to reading more of it.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, I read this book when I was in a little bit of a slump so had I not been in a slump, I do think that I would’ve enjoyed this book more. Because of that, I have given it a more generous rating because I do genuinely think that it would’ve been a top read, had I not been going through a slumpy time. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book and felt that the ending of it has been set up quite well for the sequel. I’m excited to read what happens next in Girls of Storm and Shadow.

Make sure you check out the rest of the posts on this blog tour where you can find plenty of other Girls of Paper and Fire content!