A Curse So Dark and Lonely Book Review

A Curse So Dark and LonelyImage result for a curse so dark and lonely

Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Pages: 496
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads: 

“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. 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.”

WOW oh my goodness this Beauty and the Beast retelling is so much more than I thought it would be. It’s a clever take on the fairy tale set in the modern day but transports you to another land where Prince Rhen and a curse dwells, and Harper gets thrown right into the middle of it.

There is so much beautiful writing and description, I absolutely adore this sort of writing and it’s perfect for a fairy tale. I love how it starts off in the modern day and Harper, a girl from the 21st century, is hurled into a completely different land and culture. Watching her adjust and immerse herself into Emberfall was brilliant – she just took everything in her stride.

It was awesome to see a character with cerebral palsy and her attitude towards her disability, particularly when thrust into a world where her limp is seen as an infliction to be mended. She was resolute and so determined, and she let nothing get in her way – not even the enchantress, Lilith.

Prince Rhen and Grey – GREY – were brilliant characters and their relationship was a joy to read. I loved seeing their relationship with Harper develop throughout the story and the trust between the three of them change. What I also loved about this book was the focus on the relationship between Harper and her family – it wasn’t just left to the background, it kept that beautiful quality from the classic fairy tale and it was so sweet to read.

This really was an outstanding book with wonderful characters and a compelling story. It’s one to savour but you can’t help but keep reading, and when you get to the end – I won’t say any spoilers but I was not expecting that twist at all! And it’s fantastic.

A dazzling retelling of the heart-warming fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast.

Toil and Trouble Book Review

Toil and TroubleImage result for toil and trouble book

Authors: Tess Sharpe, Jessica Spotswood, Brandy Colbert, Zoraida Córdova, Andrea Cremer, Kate Hart, Emery Lord, Elizabeth May, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Lindsay Smith, Nova Ren Suma, Robin Talley, Shveta Thakrar, Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 405
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely–has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.”

This anthology of 15 witchy tales was a perfect read for autumn and it was all about WITCHES! Who doesn’t love a good story about a witch and witchcraft? There are stories set in the modern world and set in the 1800s, stories about girls loving girls and girls loving boys, stories about sibling love and rivalry, stories about using magic for good and for evil, and so much more! There’s something in there that you’ll like and I found myself liking more of the stories than not, which can be difficult with an anthology. While it starts off a bit disappointing, there are lots more stories inside worth a read with some creepy witchcraft sprinkled throughout the pages. Here is a list of the stories with their respective authors and my rating for each:

Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia ♥
Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
The Heart in her Hands by Tess Sharpe ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith ♥ ♥ ♥
The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar ♥ ♥ ♥
The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Divine are the Stars by Zoraida Córdova ♥ ♥ ♥
Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
The Well Witch by Kate Hart ♥ ♥ ♥
Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood ♥ ♥ ♥
Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore ♥ ♥
The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May ♥ ♥ ♥

City of Ghosts Book Review

City of GhostsImage result for city of ghosts uk cover

Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 285
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.”

I love anything V E Schwab writes and when I first heard her talk about this book at an event at Waterstones a few years ago, I was so intrigued by this idea! I loved the idea of her writing about ghosts and when I learnt it was a middle-grade book, I couldn’t wait to see how this story worked out.

It was an absolute joy to read with the perfect amount of creepy with some spine-chilling ghostliness swimming around the beautiful city of Edinburgh where the book is set. I absolutely loved Edinburgh when I visited a couple of years ago and I really want to go back there, and this book just made me feel like I was there all over again with mention of the gorgeous castle and some famous spots – I particularly liked the Harry Potter references!

Cassidy is a brilliant character, as is her friend Jacob. Together they navigate the world through the Veil – the in-between place where ghosts dwell. Cassidy learns more about herself and I loved how much she developed as a character throughout this short book. It took me no time at all to read but it was just as good as any other of Schwab’s books she has written. There was a cat called Grim (which we did not see enough of in my opinion!), a creepy villain and a lovely heap of friendship in this book, making for a wonderfully spooky book – perfect for reading around Halloween!

If you haven’t given Schwab’s writing a try yet or are a bit apprehensive about reading middle-grade books then let me assure you it’s totally worth it! The only difference with reading middle-grade books is that you read them so much quicker, simply because there is less text and the language just a bit easier to read, yet it doesn’t detract from a brilliant story! And if I haven’t already said it, Schwab is one of my favourite authors and her stories never fail to be anything short of superb.

Kingdom of Ash Book Review (spoilers!) and the Throne of Glass series as a whole

Kingdom of Ash Related image

Author: S J Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 984
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.”

It’s the end to the Throne of Glass series and we see Aelin and her friends battle against Erawan and Maeve as they try to save Terrasen and even all of Erilea from their destruction. It’s a book of battle and loss and choosing to risk it all for a better world.

I absolutely loved the Throne of Glass series from the minute I picked up that first book. My love for the series grew as I read more and more, Heir of Fire becoming a firm favourite of mine but suddenly there seemed to be a different tone set in Empire of Storms and it carries on through Kingdom of Ash. Ultimately, I did enjoy this last book to a beloved series but I do have a few things niggling away at me and it got me thinking about the Throne of Glass series and what it has become.

Kingdom of Ash picks up where Empire of Storms ended with Aelin being tortured daily and it’s as horrific as it sounds. Her friends are scattered all over the place with their own journeys to go on and tasks to complete, and after about 300 pages Aelin escapes – sort of like Feyre in A Court of Wings and Ruin where she’s stuck with Tamlin for a good portion of the last book to start with and then manages to get away.

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And the similarities didn’t end there.

What I’ve noticed with this series is how you can see the writing change throughout and the tone of the books with it. Throne of Glass was a teenage and young adult book but could really be read by anyone, almost like Harry Potter. But then you see the content and the tone change following the release of A Court of Mist and Fury and everything is suddenly a bit more… mature than what it had been. It’s like the writing style of the ACOTAR series leaked into Erilea and they suddenly weren’t two separate worlds any more, and it didn’t work for me.

Throne of Glass is completely different to ACOTAR but they suddenly became quite similar with mates being found left, right and centre, and details of everyone’s sex lives made apparent at any given opportunity (do you really feel like having sex when you’re that exhausted and have to prepare for battle tomorrow?!) That’s not Throne of Glass, that’s ACOTAR and it annoyed me they became so similar and Throne of Glass changed into something else entirely. It was originally about an assassin trying to escape her awful life, then she found out she had magic and that she was Fae, and then it turned into her needing to sacrifice herself because of some idiot ages ago and somehow the assassin was lost somewhere along the way and all the things I loved about that character was… different.

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I found as the series went on I started to dislike Chaol and grew to like Dorian with Tower of Dawn (one of my favourites in the series) really changing my opinion of Chaol for the better and introducing properly one of my favourite characters – Yrene. She was totally the winner of Kingdom of Ash for me and she deserved to be on that front cover. What did Aelin and Rowan do, really? I really liked Rowan when we first met him in Heir of Fire but throughout these last two books, he’s become a bit boring and almost like he’s just there but not capturing my attention in any way. He spent most of the book pining over Aelin and trying to cram in tattoos every five minutes, and Aelin became more of a symbol or figure of hope than defeating Erawan in the end. I was really hoping for more from Aelin in terms of her scheming and planning but after the whole torturing ordeal, she seemed a lot more hollow and distant which is obviously what you’d expect after someone has been tortured, for them to have changed but we lost that cheeky swagger from our favourite assassin. It was all about the Fire-Bringer who lost her fire in the end and with it her humanity which was sad. We lost the assassin in the end.

On another note, I have to say the whole ordeal with the Wyrdgate and the keys annoyed me relentless. All of that work to get the keys, and what does Aelin do? Try to trade for getting rid of Erawan for Elena who messed everything up in the first place, got her killed by the gods and still had to shut the gate, leaving Erawan in Erilea still.

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She was supposed to put Erawan back! Instead the gods killed Elena (harsh), Aelin trapped them in hell then returned back to Erilea with next to no power left? It just seemed like a waste of a scene or there could have at least been a bit more drama with the gods. This was the whole point of the series – leading up to putting Erawan back in the gate and it ended up being a wasted opportunity.

It seemed like any interesting scenes in this book – the Wyrdgate and the gods, Maeve and Dorian – they were skipped over far too quickly but oh my god the battles and the leading up to battles and the fighting fighting fighting just kept coming.

I know this is a book about war but, and maybe it’s just me that felt this, but this book was too long! There was so much dead space and chapters that could have been shorter or endless descriptions that could have been cut, it was almost like it was long just for the sake of being long. I love a juicy long book to get stuck into, but there was so much faff around the edges in this book it irritated me.

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Please just stop with all the endless fight scenes that are ultimately very similar to the last one in the fact that NO ONE DIES even though there’s about ten pages worth of everyone feeling scared witless that they’re going to die.

And the random scenes and sentences where all the couples that were clearly marked out in Empire of Storms get together or almost do or think about having sex as they look at their probably mate or finally do end up sleeping together –

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It was good in ACOTAR, it doesn’t work in Throne of Glass. Give it up. I don’t need to know Aelin and Rowan just tangled in the bed sheets, it literally adds nothing to the scene or story – I know they’re a couple, let’s move on.

When they weren’t getting it on with each other, they were scared they were doing to die the next day. I don’t know why everyone was so worried about dying in this book because barely anyone did. We see some baddies get killed which is pretty obvious is going to happen unless the series is going to end up in a Voldemort actually won sort of situation. I was almost glad we saw someone die to make for a more emotive story – the Thirteen all die together and that scene was pretty powerful and was one that had me hooked, because it was so devastating but heroic. Gavriel’s death on the other hand was sort of a cop-out with me asking, did he really have to die or did you just slot that in to say a main character had died?

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His death was completely avoidable and made me think that maybe he met Aedion and decided actually nope he didn’t want to be a dad so sort of just threw himself into open jaws. Apart from these, no one else died. Dorian and Aelin where apparently one definitely had to die? They’re both fine. Obviously.

I just wished that maybe a bit more thought had been put into this last book with a lot less chapters just for the sake of making it longer, more worthy deaths that actually meant something and the fact that they all ended up paired up and married by the end… It felt sort of boring in a way. Aedion and Lysandra? After what he said to her I wouldn’t ever want to be near him. Elide and Lorcan? I grew to like Lorcan towards the end but I found it a bit unbelievable that they would actually get together. Dorian and Manon randomly having sex all the time? They never get together. Nesryn and Sartaq? Literally what was the point. Why did everyone have to be paired off – you don’t have to get married and get pregnant for a happy ending!

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My favourite couple though, was Chaol and Yrene. They were the one couple I thought actually made sense and I enjoyed reading about them together in this book and the love they had for the other. I quite liked Dorian on his own in this book as well; Dorian and Manon never made sense to me in Empire of Storms and I think it was best to leave them going separate ways in the end.

Overall, I have to say I liked the happy ending with Erilea being saved and Erawan and Maeve destroyed, but I was sort of hoping for some more juicy scenes with them and Aelin. This book was very clear who was bad and who was good – not many twists to shock you along the way which are always a pleasure to read.

I guess this series changed too much for me half way through, or maybe I changed. All I can say is while I love the Throne of Glass series, Empire of Storms and Kingdom of Ash won’t be firm favourites of mine.

I do have to say though that the best bit in this book was probably the scene where Aelin is tumbling through worlds and sees none other than RHYS from ACOTAR in Prythian who helps her find her way home.

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It was quite a cute moment and for which I appreciated thoroughly.

All in all, it was a nice end to the series and I’m glad these characters got a happy ending. Throne of Glass is a series that I will always treasure and recommend to anyone who loves fantasy, but I think it lost its way towards the end a bit, but at least now all is well in Erilea.