Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (#1) by Brigid Kemmerer

40891244

Goodreads | Amazon

Fall in love, break the curse.
It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

As always, I can’t believe it took me so long to get round to reading this book. It may have taken me a while to read it, but as a friend put it, I savoured this book rather than rushed through it. And it was still worth it in the end.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but it had just the right balance for me of being a retelling and being original. The fairytale aspect was only a small part of the story, which left room for so much more.

‘We are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win – but we must all play the cards the fate deals.’

This world felt so real and beautiful to me, and I pictured it as Hyrule in Breath of the Wild funnily enough. The characters were all great for their own reasons, especially Harper. We don’t have enough strong female protagonists, and having a disabled main character with Cerebral Palsy is so rare, especially in fantasy. Having not got a disability myself, I can’t talk about the accuracy of the writing from her point of view, but I really admired her all the same.

Rhen wasn’t my favourite character, but I grew to know and love him all the same. Reading about him was fascinating, as he turned out to be a different person as the book progressed, but his progression felt entirely natural.

Even though it took me a while to get through, when I did manage to sit down and read, the pages seemed to fly by. So it definitely wasn’t a problem with the pacing, but instead with my situation in the past month!

‘The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.’

Unfortunately I’m not giving this book a full 5 stars, purely because I didn’t feel quite as drawn in as I’d have liked to. Although my pacing was partly to do with my own situation, I also feel like I could have been more drawn into the story and made to want to pick it up.

★★★★ 
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook |

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thebooksareverywhere

Blog Tour & Review: The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

Hello readers! I was lucky enough to be selected by Source Books Fire through Midas Public Relations to take part in this blog tour. It was such an exciting tour to be a part of and I’m really grateful for the ARC copy they sent me in exchange for this honest review. Thank you again, Source Books Fire!

I’m finishing up this tour alongside DMCI Reads and The Library Looter. Go check them out!

38330596

Goodreads | Amazon

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.
That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.
But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

I fell in love with this book the moment I saw it. I mean, the beautiful cover is a pretty good start, right? As soon as I started reading, I felt somehow comforted, in the sense I just knew I was going to enjoy this one.

It felt so lovely to read a good fantasy. I recently read The Last Namsara, and even though I liked it, The Storm Crow just seemed to add the things I missed in that one. For a start, the world was beautiful and so well described – I felt enveloped in the rich, lush description of the lands and kingdoms. The writing was poetic and lovely.

One of my favourite parts of this book was the first chapter. It was full of action and intrigue, and kept me intrigued for the lulls and slower parts. And unfortunately, the only downside for me was that this book did lull. Although the writing was great, the pacing unfortunately wasn’t. The action was very sporadic and I felt left for the majority of the book without any. Part of me understands due to Thia’s mental health, and the slow plot did make me sympathise with her personal struggles.

But that’s where my complaints end – I adored everything else about The Storm Crow. Thia resonated deeply with me in a way characters in fantasy don’t usually. I find with fantasy there can be some disconnect if the characters seem unattainable or unrealistic. With Thia, things are different. She struggles openly with grief and depression, and the way this was discussed felt so important. She was still a badass, passionate and heroic woman, but she was also struggling and surviving day by day. It made her so much more real.

My love for the characters doesn’t end there. This book had a great cast of side characters too, and I loved them all for their own roles. Thia’s relationship with her sister felt well written, and so did her friendship with Kiva, who I loved. Her friendship with Caylus and difficult friendship with her husband-to-be also offered interesting, dynamic relationships I became quickly invested in. And I can’t write this review without giving a shoutout to a villain I absolutely loved to hate, Razal.

The whole crow element to this book is something I’ve not really seen before in YA, and I loved it. Having such a strong connection to the magic and animals gave the story a whole different dynamic and focus, rather than just the politics. Instead, the story flickered between politics and magic and Thia’s passionate love for the crows, which kept me on my toes and interested.

Overall, this book encompassed me in such a love for a rich world, diverse (in all ways), lovable characters, magic and passionate writing. All in all, the only reason this didn’t quite get 5 full stars from me is unfortunately the pacing – everything else was there and I loved it.

★★★★★ 
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook |

Review: The Last Namsara (#1) by Kristen Ciccarelli

36130547

Goodreads | Amazon

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer. 
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her. 

I saw that this author is going to be at YALC 2019 and decided to give it a go! Unfortunately, it was a super slow burner for me and I’m left with very mixed feelings. I always find reading fantasy for me can go two ways – either I love it straight away or it takes me a long time to completely understand the story and eventually might enjoy it. This was the latter!

For a start, I couldn’t, even at the end, picture the characters very well at all. It just seemed to lack basic imagery, and I would have loved more detail about the characters appearances and the land itself. I find that some authors, especially for debuts, will be able to picture a world in their head so well that they struggle to include the smallest details on paper, because for them, they aren’t needed. But for us as readers, we need even the smallest detail to build up a picture of the world.

‘Then may Death send his worst. Cold to freeze the love in my heart. Fire to burn my memories to ash.’

Unfortunately because of this, it took me almost a week to finally finish this book. I just wasn’t drawn to it for the majority, and I didn’t particularly mind what happened to the characters. However I pushed through and got to the last 150 pages, where I felt the book really picked up!

For a start, I loved Asha as a main character. She was strong, brave, and a brilliant woman. After reading the acknowledgements at the back of the book, I found an even deeper respect for Asha as a female main character. I love the strength she had and I love that she challenged what is expected from her as a woman. We definitely need more girls like her in literature!

‘Wind to force me through the gates. Time to wear my loyalty away. I’ll wait for you at Death’s gate.’

I could definitely see the writing improve greatly by the end of the book, and had a clearer picture of the world in my mind. I was more invested in the characters and loved Safire (Asha’s cousin), Dax (Asha’s brother) and Torwin.

Even though this wasn’t my favourite, it slowly grew on me and I’ve decided to continue with the series eventually! Considering this was a debut, I saw the improvement throughout the first book and I’m sure the writing improves with the others.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook |

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

34433755

Goodreads | Amazon

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.
But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have 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. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

It’s been a while since I’v read a good fantasy, and this one was just a delight to dive into. I admired this book so much, it was such an immersive experience with beautiful writing, and I’m so glad I picked it up.

Girls of Paper and Fire follows a world with 3 castes, Paper (fully human) being the lowest, followed by Steel (partly demon) and Moon (fully demon, with animal like qualities). The premise is somewhat like The Selection series, with 8 Paper girls being chosen each year to please the King, who is of the highest caste. This story follows Lei, who was unexpectedly chosen and taken away from her family to become a Paper girl, and seeks revenge for an attack on her village that killed her mother.

‘But time has a way of folding itself, like a map, distances and journeys and hours and minutes tucked neatly away to leave just the realness of the before and the now,’

I say this book is like The Selection, but the likeliness stops there. This book, this world, holds so much more. More depth, more emotion, more intrigue and fight and hardship. It’s no secret that this book tackles some difficult topics, such as sexual abuse, and even though I was prepared, I was left with tears in my eyes in parts. Despite, or maybe because of these difficult subjects, this book is just so powerful.

The politics were interesting to read about and I loved hearing the side of the story from the people who wanted revenge against the Palace. It balanced out perfectly with the gentle friendships the girls found in each other, a unique bond with intriguing characters I could easily read more about.

‘as close as hands pressed on the either side of a rice-paper door.’

The romance that blossoms within this story is beautiful, powerful and healthy. I found myself being reminded of my own relationship and seeing reflections of how myself and my partner support each other, and it was so lovely to read about. I won’t say too much to avoid spoilers, but it felt so wholesome and made me love the characters even more.

The only small problem I had with this book was the pacing at the beginning. Unfortunately, it took me a good few days to get through the first 100 pages, but after that I couldn’t put it down! I was soon whirled away with the lovingly written landscapes, friendships, romances, action and much more. In fact, I want to end by saying the writing was just incredible. I saw a Goodreads review describing it as sensuous, and that is just spot on. Ngan has such a way with words, that resonated with me and has stolen my heart.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook |

T5W: Friends in Sci Fi and Fantasy

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey. You get a new topic every Wednesday, and you list your Top 5 books related to that topic. If you’d like to take part, join the Goodreads group, and add your name to the list of bloggers & booktubers!

21523103

Goodreads | Amazon

When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he’s the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts, a wizarding school brimming with ghosts and enchantments, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers which could be valuable, dangerous – or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

23437156

Goodreads | Amazon

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
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
Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

17675462

Goodreads | Amazon

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

25494343

Goodreads | Amazon

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.
Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…
Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Which friendships do you love in sci-fi or fantasy?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook |

The Dead Girls Dance (Morganville #2) – Rachel Caine

13512717

Goodreads | Amazon

Claire has her share of challenges. Like being a genius in a school that favours beauty over brains; homicidal girls in her dorm, and finding out that her college town is overrun with the living dead. On the up side, she has a new boyfriend with a vampire-hunting dad. But when a local fraternity throws the Dead Girls’ Dance, hell is really going to break loose.

I really enjoyed this book, and I flew through it. But unfortunately, I remember it in a fonder light. I remember my first read of this being gripping, on the edge of your seat and so emotional. I’m not going to lie, it was emotional, but I feel like Caine missed some opportunities for some really good scenes.

It’s like instead of remembering what actually happened in this book, I was taking the best parts and remembering a different, better version. Maybe that’s a problem with re-reading books later in life when you have a lot more maturity and reading experience!

‘Claire: “So we do nothing?”‘

That being said, I did still love reading this book. It’s still gripping (to a degree), and I was definitely kept entertained. I read this in less than 2 days once again and couldn’t put it down, the pages really fly by in this series. I also love the variety of scenes all over the town, with such a big cast of characters, that added so much to the atmospheric feel of this book/series.

This book is definitely more of an introduction to Morganville. We’ve met the main characters, we know who we’re rooting for and who we’re against, and now it’s time to learn about this creepy town. The description of the town is definitely one of my favourite things about this series. Caine knows how to build up atmosphere.

‘Michael: “We do the best nothing you’ve ever seen.”‘

I still adore the characters, even Claire, although I understand why most readers seem to find her annoying. She does make some stupid decisions, but mostly she’s just a real, scared, courageous, 16 year old girl who is completely out of her depth. Her loyalty is outstanding, and I love her for it.

There is still no doubt this series is pure entertainment. But I can’t help but love it anyway.

★★★★ 
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook |

T5W: Underrated Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey. You get a new topic every Wednesday, and you list your Top 5 books related to that topic. If you’d like to take part, join the Goodreads group, and add your name to the list of bloggers & booktubers!

Hi all! So I’m definitely going off-topic with this one as we were meant to be talking about creatures from sci-fi and fantasy books. But that’s a topic I struggle with and we did a similar one late last year, so I’m going to do underrated fantasy and sci-fi instead!

All of these books (aside from the last one, which has just over 20,000), have under 10,000 ratings on Goodreads.

23711685

Goodreads | Amazon

I loved this book so much when I read it. It’s an underrated dystopia, and is about a cult/religious group. Such a unique concept, and one I loved so much!

32601841

Goodreads | Amazon

I cannot even tell you how much I adored this book. It blew my mind, and I can’t wait to hopefully re-read it soon as it’s been too long!

23266378

Goodreads | Amazon

Lauren James is by far my favourite sci-fi author, so she deserves to have 2 books on this list, okay? Okay.

25467698

Goodreads | Amazon

A romance book that includes time travel? Hell yes. Another one I’m due for a re-read soon.

34076952

Goodreads | Amazon

Of course this one might not be quite so underrated, it’s Leigh Bardugo for gods sakes, but I had to mention it. If you love fantasy and short stories, this is the book for you. It was one of my favourite reads of 2018!

Which underrated fantasy and sci-fi books do you love?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook |