17yo Merit is cursed to be a beast until she agrees to marry someone who her mother approves of. She meets 19yo Tevin, a professional conman, and they strike a bargain. Merit’s mother has set her up with three worthy candidates and Tevin is going to help Merit navigate their intentions because she doesn’t trust her instincts after being jilted by her boyfriend Jasper. Jasper left Merit after her mother offered him money to leave. Merit feels trapped by her mother and she doesn’t feel anything for the three candidates. As she confides in Tevin, the two of them become friends and more. As they work together, they unknowingly walk into danger and discover deception and they’re going to have to rely on each other more than they realize.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the wonderful descriptions of the setting. The humor is cute and funny. I grew to love the charming characters. Mature content: PG for brief passionate kissing. Language: PG for 7 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for bloody death of an animal. Ethnicity: Merit is white, other characters are of mixed ethnicity, including fairy.
Tress has left her home of Diggen’s Point to rescue the Duke’s son Charlie from a forced trip to meet and marry a worthy woman of royalty. He’s actually been sent to the Sorceress to die. Tress disguises herself as an inspector to board a ship and when the ship is attacked she boards the winning ship, Crow’s Song. Tress has adventures involving curses, dragons, magic and surprises in store. She also discovers her strengths and loyalties and how far she will go to take care of the people she cares about. Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the humor throughout the book. The snippets of wisdom were fun. I like the unknowns of Tress’ adventures. The prose is charming and the world building is imaginative. Mature Content: PG for brief kissing. Language: PG-13 for 12 swears, no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for bloody death. Ethnicities: The book contains a variety of ethnicities. Tress is presumably white.
In Tigang, Narra wants her mother to stay home but she insists on going to the capital to confess that she kept her marked daughter alive even when the law stated she must die. Narra is the marked daughter because of the birthmarks on her neck, which people believe makes her cursed. Her mother is imprisoned and Narra enters the competition that takes place every ten years to find a new ruler. She wants to win the competition so she can rescue her mother. Narra enters the trials with no magic, no weapons and no help. It takes all of her willpower and wits to get through it all.
Likes/dislikes: The vocabulary in the world building and introduction of characters gets confusing but it makes more sense as the story goes on. The story felt disjointed because of the competition, the past lives and the magic not necessarily blending well together. I did like Narra, the main character, and her companions, Virian and Dayen, and how they worked together and helped each other.
Mature content: PG for brief kissing Language: PG-13 for 19 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG for cuts on palms of hands as a gift of blood to begin a ceremony and a nondescript beheading. Ethnicity: The ethnicity is mixed with the following: olive skin, brown skin, deep russet skin, dark Tigangi skin, and dark brown skin.
Emeline Lark lives in Montreal where she’s trying to leave her forest hometown of Edgewood in the past. She’s on the verge of becoming a singer with a recording company but as she performs she sees signs of the Edgewood Forest creeping onto the stage. Emeline sees a mysterious hooded stranger in the audience who becomes the key to her past and future, unbeknownst to her at the time. Pa, her grandfather, has dementia and when she goes home to take care of him, she’s pulled into the Edgewood Forest and her life is thrown into upheaval and danger. To free herself from the evil and corrupted Wood King, Emeline will have to dig deep and get to the bottom of the forest curse.
5 solid stars!!! Mystery, fantasy, action and romance.
Likes/dislikes: The writing pulled me into the story with incredible world building and mysterious surroundings and characters. Hawthorn is a fascinating character. The story has action, tenderness and a roller coaster of emotions. Language: R for 14 swears and 3 f-bombs Mature content: R for Sex on page 295 that doesn’t mention genitals and is described vaguely; non-detailed oral sex on page 340. The relationship between the two characters is a loving one and the sex is because of this love for each other. Violence: PG for Stabbing of the Shadowskin creatures, no blood involved; danger and Shadowskins chasing people. Ethncity: Predominantly white in Montreal and Edgewood but mixed colors of skin in the otherworldly forest of the Wood King.
Ryn, Gareth and Ceridwen are siblings living alone since their mother died and their father went to the copper mine and never returned. Ellis is a mapmaker traveling in the mountains when Ryn finds him being attacked by a dead man that’s risen and she promptly saves him. The three siblings are barely scraping a living but they’re loyal to each other. Ellis wants Ryn to be his paid guide through the mountains so he can make a map and try to discover his origins. Ryn agrees because she wants to search for her father in the mine and also stop the rising dead, the bone houses. They travel together through dangerous terrain with bone houses all around and find the reason behind the curse. A wonderfully immersive story, 5 stars!
Language: PG for 8 swears, no f-bombs
Mature content: PG for kissing
Violence: PG for dead bodies rising and trying to harm people. Axe and sword cutting of the risen dead.
Likes/dislikes: I love this tale of bravery, mystery and loyalty set in a fantasy world. Ryn and Ellis are my favorite characters even though they’re very different from each other. I like that the author wrote this story out of respect for Lloyd Alexander’s books and the love that she has for his writing since her childhood.
Setting: An imaginary village, Colbern, is where Ryn lives with her siblings.
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer is one of the best fairy tale retellings that I have read.
The writing demanded my attention from the first chapter and each chapter ends in a bit of a cliffhanger! I had to force myself to stop reading to go to bed. Harper is kidnapped but for reasons that are different from what she ever expected. She’s been kidnapped from Washington D.C. to help break a prince’s curse. Prince Rhen and his top guard, Grey, are the only two that know about the curse and the secret that Rhen is horrified about. Lilith cursed Rhen years ago and he’s turned into a violent monster every season since. Once he changes, he has no memory or control, and because of that he’s ending up killing the royal family, his family. Harper doesn’t like Rhen at first but she understands him better the more she gets to know him. Grey is an intimidating guard but a kind and caring soul. Each season, Rhen becomes a different creature but he’s always violent and ruthless. Harper helps Rhen and his kingdom by pretending to be a princess. A cruel ruler threatens to take over the kingdom and Harper and Rhen tell her that the princess’s father is sending reinforcements to stop her. Rhen, Harper and Grey continue to work together and become closer. This story is full of action, loyalty and bravery and ends in an intense surprise, 5 stars!
Sea Witch, by Sarah Henning, opens as three young children play together and one ends up gravely injured. The story jumps to their teen years, the present time in this setting, when the Prince turns sixteen and the kingdom celebrates. Prince Nik and his best friend Evie dance and remember their third friend that is no longer with them. I like the alternating between the present time, and four years earlier around the time tragedy strikes, because it gives insight into the characters and their backgrounds and builds suspense. As the village prepares to celebrate, a young woman named Annamette appears. She confides in Evie her secrets and deepest wishes. This is where complications begin. With magic, royalty and the sea, problems brew and lives change drastically. Sea Witch is the beginning of transformation and the ending of innocence and freedom for Evie, 5 stars!
Thanks to Month9Books for the opportunity to read and review Tragedy of Me by Rebekah L. Purdy! Brielle feels that she’s being tormented by lost souls and she’s warned that dark magic is surrounding her. She has lost her best friend, her home and the ghosts of her victims are haunting her. Raul tries to protect her but then he becomes the target of his sister’s greed for power and her strong dark magic. Yalena uses Raul to help her find a powerful book that will gain access to the Nether, where a powerful demon resides. Yalena wants this power for her own. She forces Raul into a blood curse so Yalena won’t harm Brielle but this curse causes much more harm to Brielle, Raul and many others that he never planned on. In the meantime, Kenrick’s brother Daedric, shows up looking for Kenrick. He discovers how he’s been pulled into the Nether and Brielle shares what she’s learned about how residing in the Nether warps souls and makes them dark. Brielle and Daedric vow to go to the Nether to save Kenrick. It’s a race to see who gets to the Nether first! The way the book ends, I believe the author has more story to tell. Rebekah L. Purdy, the author, has continued writing despite her very difficult time and her family’s tragedy. My heart goes out to her. 4 stars ⭐️.
Sequel to Light as a Feather!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Cold As a Marble by Zoe Aarssen, the sequel to Light As a Feather.
McKenna and her friends’ lives were completely disrupted in the first book. Two out of their friend group died, Olivia and Candace, and they believe both deaths were caused by Violet, the new girl who insisted they play the game Light As a Feather. During the game, Violet described their deaths and McKenna accused Violet of killing her friends. A restraining order was placed on McKenna and she was sent away to a different school. She’s home for Christmas and more teenage girls are dying. McKenna, her neighbor and boyfriend Trey, and Olivia’s brother Henry diligently work together to stop Violet and the curse she’s helping along. Suspenseful and interesting adventures and actions that the three dive into cause stress and more problems in their personal lives than helping stop the curse. I liked this sequel better than the first book in this series because it was faster paced and had more character development. Spooky, dangerously fun read for young adults! 4 stars!