Book Review

Book Review: Heart’s Blood by Julie Marillier

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy Romance / Retelling
Length: 402 pages
Author: Julie Marillier
Publisher: Roc
Release Date: November 3rd, 2009
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the region in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies of Anluan’s family and his people. The woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom. And Anluan himself has been crippled by a childhood illness.

Then the young scribe Caitrin appears in Anluan’s garden, admiring the rare plant known as heart’s blood. Retained to sort through entangled family documents, Caitrin brings about the unexpected changes in the household, casting a hopeful light against the despairing shadows.

But even as Caitrin brings solace to Anluan, and the promise of something more between them, he remains in thrall to the darkness surrounding Whistling Tor. To free Anluan’s burdened soul, Caitrin must unravel the web of sorcery woven by his ancestors before it claims his life and their love.

BACKLIST B&tB.

This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling.

It was okay.

Honestly, got kind of bored about halfway through.

It was an interesting story [mostly]. It’s background was an Irish setting with all the things you’ve seen in B&tB. A small town with a mysterious ruler, magic, a woman who comes in to save the day (running from her own Gaston). For a retelling I thought it did line up on point for the original story. There were some additional tidbits to make it older, but that was mostly it.

I didn’t feel the chemistry between Caitrin and Anluan. It wasn’t bad, but I don’t know. Wasn’t working for me. I was also really confused by the magic. There were these magic mirrors that kept showing flashbacks? And then I would forget I was in a flashback, and things got convoluted at that point.

It’s a slow ride. I found myself forcing myself to finish, but was too far in to stop. The story wasn’t bad and I know others will probably really enjoy it. It was a not for me book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy romance, retelling
  • Language: little
  • Romance: kisses to some mild love scenes (mostly closed door)
  • Violence: war, skirmishes, physical
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexual assault, domestic abuse, ableism, loss of loved ones, suicide, suicide ideation, murder

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Curses by Lish McBride

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Retelling
Length: 488 pages
Author: Lish McBride
Publisher: GP Putnam
Release Date: July 20th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Merit Cravan refused to fulfill her obligation to marry a prince, leading to a fairy godling’s curse. She will be forced to live as a beast forever, unless she agrees to marry a man of her mother’s choosing before her eighteenth birthday.

Tevin Dumont has always been a pawn in his family’s cons. The prettiest boy in a big family, his job is to tempt naïve rich girls to abandon their engagements, unless their parents agree to pay him off. But after his mother runs afoul of the beast, she decides to trade Tevin for her own freedom.

Now, Tevin and Merit have agreed that he can pay off his mother’s debt by using his con-artist skills to help Merit find the best match . . . but what if the best match is Tevin himself?

Thank you to PenguinTeen for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

NOT BAD.

Just not great either.

I love the cast of characters. There were many, with unique personalities and I love how they were portrayed. It’s a great group of friends that end up working together to end Merit’s curse. The villains were plenty wicked (though it became too convenient in the end) and some morally gray ones are also a fun addition.

What I didn’t love was the lack of romance. It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling…shouldn’t there be more? By the time Tevin is confessing his love I realized I’m not emotionally invested in this. It was a big let down for me because I definitely had higher hopes. Over the course of a long book I thought more page time could’ve been spent developing their relationship rather than my other problem, the amount of POV’s.

Usually I love multiple points-of-view. In this case, I thought it should have stuck to the main two. It would have helped a deeper connection with the main characters. We’d flit off to some side story that could have been handled (and honestly, would have been more surprising) coming from one of the main characters [Merit or Tevin]. I didn’t need to hear about everyone else to get the whole picture.

I liked the set-up for the story and how this retelling was managed. It really did feel distinctly B&tB reminiscent. I could see many parallels that helped [& occasionally hindered] the plot. There’s some good humorous moments and some soft ones too. I wish I had felt more emotionally invested to fully enjoy this tale.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy Retelling
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical altercations, animal attacks, poisonings

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Book Review

Book Review: Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta's Academy #1) by Sandhya Menon

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: YA Romance / Retelling
Length: 384 pages
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 18th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The first novel in a series set at an elite international boarding school, that’s a contemporary spin on Beauty and the Beast.

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

NOT FOR ME.

With a heavy heart, I have to say, this is the worst Beauty and the Beast retelling that I’ve read so far. And oh, how I wanted to love it (even had requested it on Netgalley), but it was not meant to be. I fortunately read it through the library, and sent it back as soon as I could.

My big issue that I could not get past? Jaya, the main character. I did not like her demeanor, attitude, naivete, anything. I thought she was completely wrapped up in this revenge plot idea against Grey, when from moments of meeting it was abundantly clear that he wasn’t involved. The way she treated her sister wasn’t the best, even if it came from a place of protectiveness, it did not read that way. I was hoping that all of this would change by the end, and while it did maybe a little, I was already over it at that point.

Grey was my favorite. He was broody and was beast-like as he should be. I enjoyed how he grew and adapted over the book. I liked his character most. Pretty sure he and Isha (Jaya’s sister) were the only ones I did like reading about.

And the reveal at the end about what the rose really meant? Fell completely flat. Not as high stakes as I thought it should be (and would have upped the ante).

I’m keeping this short, no need for a long review, this just did not work out for me.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult retelling (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Language: a little strong language
  • Romance: kisses

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Book Review

Book Review: Heart of the Fae (The Otherworld #1) by Emma Hamm

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy romance + Retelling
Length: 350 pages
Author: Emma Hamm
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: November 26th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Beauty and the Beast meets Irish Mythology in this sweeping retelling of the beloved fairytale….

Once upon a time…

A plague sweeps across the emerald hills of Uí Néill, leaving a young midwife’s father with months to live. To save her people, Sorcha makes a deal with a dangerous Fae. She must travel across the sea, through merrow and kelpie lands, to find a forgotten king on a crumbling throne.

Born king of the Seelie Fae, Eamonn fought battles unnumbered to uphold honor, duty, and freedom… until his twin brother sank a blade between his shoulders. Crystals grew from the wound, splitting open skin and bone. His people banished him to a cursed isle for his disfigurement, now king of criminals and fools.

With the help of brownies, pixies, and will-o’-the-wisps, Sorcha battles to break through his crystalline shell and persuade him to take back his stolen throne.

This determined beauty could come dangerously close to stealing his beastly heart. 

A GREAT RETELLING.

I definitely think this is one of the better retellings of Beauty and the Beast that I’ve read.

This really followed the flow of B&TB. I could definitely tell what scenes were being recreated and the plot line it was going for. I enjoyed this take on it because of that fact. I liked seeing how someone else interpreted the story (and adding fae is ALWAYS good). This was full of faeries and the romance was kicked up to a much steamier vibe.

The romance felt a *tiny* bit insta-love at first. It came off as mostly lust and I was worried how that was going to affect the story. Never fear, the way that Sorcha and Eamonn built their relationship after some initial contact was fantastic. I loved the enemies to lovers type banter, the slow tender moments they had, that all led to a partnership that I ship.

Sorcha as a character was amazing. Her role as a healer gave focus to her decisions and mindset. I liked how firm she was on HER choices and that she never gave up on her original intentions for seeking out the fae. There was no wishy-washy character here. Sorcha was a lovely and strong heroine.

Eamonn was the beast. And that sentence is wholly accurate. His role was exactly how I expected it and I LOVED seeing the small things he started doing for Sorcha purely to make her happy. Ohhhhh so cute y’all.

The story itself was well put together and I thought the plot had everything it needed. There was a point and reasoning behind choices and I never had to ask why. I love the way the fae were woven into everything and I love all things faerie in general.

I’m definitely interested in continuing this duology (and the other books in this universe). This was a self-published book and I LOVE finding these kind of gems.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy romance + retelling
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses, make outs, one moderately detailed love scene
  • Violence: physical, magic, skirmishes with swords, a creepy blood beetle epidemic

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