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: Finale by Stephanie Garber

Review: Finale by Stephanie Garber

 

Title: Finale

Author: Stephanie Garber

Pages: 468

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Published: 2019

Source: Bought (also received an early copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

Rating: ★★★★★


Welcome, welcome to Caraval…all games must come to an end.

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finaly, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything.


If you know me, you’ll know that I absolutely love the Caraval series by Stephanie Garber and that it is actually one of my favourite series in the entire world. Because of that, Finale was one of my top three most anticipated reads of 2019 and I had high expectations going into it. It’s always a little scary going into a book that you have high expectations for because of the worry that it won’t live up to the hype or it won’t live up to the ideas you have in your headd but I was left feeling happy with the way that this series concluded.

Like both Caraval and Legendary, Finale was full of magic. I was expecting this book to feature a game that was more risky than the last and to be full of more adventure. I was not disappointed and it definitely met the expectations I had for it. It featured all the magic and adventure that I’ve loved ever since I first read Caraval back in 2017 and I just loved being back in this world with all the characters I’ve come to know and love.

Thoughts

Without spoiling too much, Finale is set in the same place as in Legendary and features much of the same characters from the previous book. It follows on from the events of Legendary fairly closely afterwards and of course, features another one of the famous games of Caraval. Although, as already mentioned, the stakes are higher in this book and the magic more prominent than ever before.

Unlike the previous two books, this book features two points of view, both of which we have read from already, those being Scarlett and Tella. I quite liked being able to go between the two and was happy that Stephanie had made the decision with this book to actually write it from both PoVs as opposed to just the one. I liked following both of the sisters as I think that in this book, they both have fairly unique PoVs. As well as seeing both Scarlett and Tella in this book, we also see a few other characters that are heavily featured in the previous two books which re both important to both Scarlett and Tella’s storylines.

The writing in this one was much the same as the previous two books. It was fast paced, magical and had me wanting to read and turn every page as fast as I could. I was completely engrossed in the story as the writing has a certain way of just pulling me into the story. I felt that the writing was quite descriptive, meaning that I was able to imagine things quite clearly in my mind – something that the map at the front of each book is also quite helpful in aiding. The writing definitely helps to make the plot more fast paced as it pulls you forwards through the story.

I really enjoyed the plot of this book. It felt a little different to the plot of the previous two books as it felt like there were more twists and turns and that there was also more complications to deal with and resolve throughout this book, however that kept it interesting. I felt quite invested in the story but also in characters as I already knew them. It was quite comforting to step into a world with characters that I already familiar with. Stephanie makes it she easy to just fall into the plots of her books.

This book does deal with quite a few differing themes including love, family, friendship, forgiveness and healing. All of these are explored in some detail throughout this book, particularly love and family.

Final Thoughts

Finale was such a good book and I’m so glad that my expectations of it were met. I thought that Finale was a great conclusion to this magical series. Although I definitely felt like I was left wanting more, I did also feel quite satisfied by this book. Although we won’t be getting any more books in this series, I’m looking forward to reading whatever Stephanie brings out next. If you’re looking for a magical and fast paced read, I’d absolutely recommend checking this out. If you need anymore encouragement, you can read my post on 5 reasons to read the Caraval series here.

Remember, it’s only a game…

Truly, Devious: Six Reasons to Read the Series So Far

Truly, Devious: Six Reasons to Read the Series So Far

Title: Truly, Devious | The Vanishing Stair

Author: Maureen Johnson

Pages: 416 | 384

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Published: 2018 | 2019

Source: Bought


I am still relatively new to the YA mystery genre but I’ve been exploring the genre a bit more over the last year or so. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed over the last year (and please correct me if I’m wrong) is that there aren’t a whole lot of YA mystery books out there at the moment but there are definitely more coming out.

Truly, Devious is a YA mystery series that I had on my shelves for a little while but hadn’t picked up. If I’m totally honest, I didn’t really know very much about it but once I read the synopsis, I was very much wanting to read it. Before I’d even finished reading the first book, I’d got the second book, The Vanishing Stair, on order. Let me tell you, I enjoyed The Vanishing Stair more than Truly, Devious which I had quite liked.

With that, and the cover reveal of the third and last book in this trilogy, The Hand on the Wall, I wanted to do a little post featuring six reasons why you should pick up the books in this series.

1. As mentioned, The Hand on the Wall, which is the final book in the series had it’s cover revealed yesterday. It’s coming out in 2020 and so you should absolutely pick up the first two books in this series so you’re up to date and ready to complete this series once the third book has been released.

2. It’s a YA mystery set in a boarding school. Need I say more?

3. Ok, the blurb already mentions it so I don’t feel like it’s a spoiler but this series isn’t just a mystery series, it’s a murder mystery series. But just saying that doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s also a mystery based on a historic case that happened at the boarding school in the 1930s which is being investigated.

4. The characters are smart and interesting. Ok, yes, they do feel immature at times but then weren’t we all when we were their age? The characters are at a boarding school for some of the most intelligent kids and are given free reign over most things so that makes things quite interesting!

5. As with any mystery book, there’s twists and turns at every angle. I love trying to solve mysteries myself but with this one, we have an advantage as there are flashback scenes. I love the inclusion of the scenes from the original case as I feel like we have an advantage over our main character who is also trying to solve the case. However, despite the extra information we get, I don’t seem to be very good at trying to crack the mystery!

6. It’s fun! I know, a slightly funny thing to call a murder mystery fun but it’s true. It is quite a well thought out mystery story and it’s just even better that it’s a YA!

I’m really happy that I finally picked up this series earlier this year and whilst I understand mysteries aren’t for everyone, I hope that I’ve managed to convince you enough to give this series or at least the first book in the series, Truly, Devious, a try.

Review: Gumiho: Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Review: Gumiho: Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

 

Title: Gumiho: Wicked Fox

Author: Kat Cho

Pages: 420

Publisher: Penguin RandomHouse

Published: 2019

Source: ARC (Thanks, Penguin RandomHouse!)

Rating: ★★★★


Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.


Gumiho: Wicked Fox is about a girl who is also a fox with nine tails and is based on Korean mythology. When I read this, I thought it sounded so intriguing and I immediately wanted to read it. Not to mention that the cover is stunning.

I picked this one up because of my interest in it, but I became more eager to read it when I started reading the positive reviews of others and after seeing how much people were loving it. I didn’t really know what to expect when reading it other than hoping that I’d love it and I definitely did. I really enjoyed reading this one and would absolutely recommend it.

Thoughts

Gumiho: Wicked Fox is a quite a fun book but it’s also quite serious at times. As the blurb above says, Miyoung is a Gumiho who loses her bead and must find a way to get it back otherwise it could have drastic consequences. The plot was so fast paced and I definitely felt like I was left wanting to know what happens next whenever I put the book down.

I enjoyed the writing of this book. As mentioned, I thought it was fast paced and that the chapters were a perfect length. One of the things I really liked (and it’s something that I mention often with other books) is that the chapters weren’t too long. The longest chapter was probably Chapter 2 and then that was it for the remaining 400ish pages. The shorter chapters really contributed to the pace of this book. I also thought that the writing was descriptive but in a way that wasn’t too overdone. I felt that I could imagine most things quite well whilst reading this book.

Miyoung and Jihoon are our main characters that we follow throughout this book. Miyoung is afraid to get close to anybody and of disappointing her mother. She is quite naive at times but she is also smart. She is a character that just wants approval from her mother and to know what it’s like to be loved and have friendship. Jihoon is a positive character the majority of the time and is seen to be quite popular with everyone but really only has a few close friends. He is still dealing with the aftermath of being left to live with his Halmeoni, who he adores, when he was a child and that still affects him. What I liked about both of these characters is that while they do have flaws, but they are fiercely loyal. In this book, there’s a theme of family and friendship throughout which I really enjoyed. I loved the closeness of the Jihoon’s friends that they had almost formed a family unit themselves.

The world building didn’t need that much because of course, it’s based on the city of Seoul. I really liked the urban fantasy feel of the world that I thought this book really gave the vibes of and I just loved the inclusion of the Gumiho mythology throughout this book and how it linked it to the characters.

I really enjoyed reading Gumiho: Wicked Fox because it was unlike anything I’d read before and I loved that about it. I also enjoyed reading it because of the setting and the interesting mythology. There was a lot of food mentioned that I did google because 1. I wanted to make sure I was pronouncing things correctly and 2. I wanted to see the delicious food that was mentioned and oh my, I wasn’t disappointed. I feel like I immediately need to go and try everything. I found it so interesting to learn and read about a culture different to my own and it has definitely encouraged me to read even more books about cultures that are different to my own.

Final Thoughts

Gumiho: Wicked Fox is an intriguing book that I am really glad that I read because I did enjoy it so much. I would absolutely recommend it to anybody who is looking for a fast paced read that really draws you in. The characters are just like you and I with both their positives and negatives.

Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

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Title: The Wicked King

Author: Holly Black

Pages: 322

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Published: 2019

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★.5


You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.


This review is a little bit late as I read The Wicked King almost immediately after it came out in January. If I’m honest, I’ve struggled to write this review because I really enjoyed it and I couldn’t really say much else other than ‘I LOVED IT’ for a good while.

I really enjoyed The Cruel Prince, which I reviewed here, and so I just had to read The Wicked King straight away because I really couldn’t wait. The Wicked King is full of more scheming, more angst and of course, more faeries.

When I read, I’m usually quite aware of how long I have left in a book as getting closer to the end of a book gives me an extra kick to get a book finished but with The Wicked King, I came to the last page without even realising. I enjoyed it so much and my only real issue was that it wasn’t longer.

Thoughts

Just like in The Cruel Prince, The Wicked King follows our main character Jude after the events of the first book. I was interested to see where the plot of this book and the characters would go too seeing as The Cruel Prince ended on a cliffhanger and it definitely did not disappoint.

The characters are much of the same we saw in The Cruel Prince so in this book, it was more a case of how the individual characters would deal with the events that transpired in the first book and how that would enable their characters to develop.

The two main characters in this book are Jude, with the book being told from her POV just like in The Cruel Prince, and Cardan. I enjoyed following Jude in this book more than the first one which I think is because we had already got to know her character before so I knew what to expect from her. I enjoyed getting to know Cardan more in this book as things were touched on in The Cruel Prince but I feel like we really got to know him more in The Wicked King. I would say that Cardan is a difficult character to judge and whilst he is cruel, he is also using that as a barrier to almost protect himself.The Wicked King by Holly Black, which has a cover with a gold crown being dropped into blue water, is placed on top of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, which has a white cover with gold branches on it. Both are placed on top of an open book with two themed bookmarks and a special The Cruel Prince themed badge next to the books.

The pace of this book is so fast that I barely even realised how quickly I was actually reading it. As I mentioned above, I ended up getting to the last page without even realising how close I was too it. The Wicked King really did suck me into it’s pages and basically spat me back out in shock. I thought the writing was great and that the length of the chapters was perfect and that they contributed to making this book such a fast read.

The ending of this book….THE ENDING OF THIS BOOK. I’m not going to say anything about it except it ended on such a cliffhanger and I won’t even lie, I was flicking through the acknowledgement pages almost manically and internally saying to myself ‘there has to be more??’. I was mostly just in a moment of shock when I finished it following the events in the last few pages and just didn’t really know what to do. I am fully invested in this series now and must know what happens next immediately!

It might be worth noting that between reading The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King, I actually read the novella titled The Lost Sister that is from Taryn’s POV. I don’t think this necessarily contributed to my overall reading experience of the second book but it did give me a little more insight into Taryn’s character. It’s not essential to the reading of this series but if you’re as obsessed with this series as I am, then it’s worth a read plus it’s short!

Final Thoughts

After reading The Wicked King, I absolutely need the third book, The Queen of Nothing SO. BADLY. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and liked getting to know the characters better. Holly has done such a great job with the books in this series so far and both times, I have been left wanting more but The Wicked King really has me feeling that way after that ending. I actually went back and read the last 3/4 pages about 6 times because I just needed to process the end of it.

Just in case you missed the news – The Queen of Nothing will now be publishing in November 2019 instead of January 2020!