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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Book Review

Book Review: If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary + Romance + Retellings
Length: 362 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Expected Release Date: April 23rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good.

In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…

But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.

READ IN ONE SITTING. YES IT’S THAT GOOD.

Ahhhhh, I absolutely loved this y’all.

First though, I know nothing about The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare. I know as much as the novel told me about and so I can’t really comment on how well this retellings went. I loved it though, so hopefully others thought it was great from the retellings perspective.

Cameron. Oh, bless her heart. Boy did she make me want to shake her sometimes. As she started off being completely terrible, I knew we were in for a great character arc. I was not let done. This was more than just a romance book. Watching Cameron learn about herself and what it means to be a true friend and being kind to others was almost more than my heart could take. She learned so much over this book and I felt I could really relate to these kind of struggles from high school. Working through who your true friends are, being with the guy you deserve to be with, dealing with iffy parents, the whole thing. I connected with novel y’all.

The romance though, was ABSOLUTELY JUST YAAAAAS. Oh it was SO CUTE. And the BANTER and the MOMENTS. ALL THE CAPS BECAUSE I AM OBSESSED. Cameron and Brendan forever. High school sweethearts PLEASE. Their romance was filled with forgiveness and tenderness that made it impossible to put this down because I needed to watch it unfold. I love the way it was done and seriously can’t stop gushing about it. This is the way a young adult contemporary romance should be written and I can easily say it’s one of (if not THE) top YA Contemporary I’ve read in 2019. I also adore that Brendan was a nerdy gamer and YOUNGER than Cameron because I feel like I haven’t seen that much in contemporaries and I was HERE FOR IT. All the heart eyes.

There is a much deeper message in this book. That it’s about second chances and how it’s not too late to decide the type of person you want to be. This bumpy road that Cameron went on was filled with hard choices that ultimately brought her to a state of peace.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary retelling + romance
  • Language: some throughout (occasionally strong)
  • Romance: a few kisses (it’s clean y’all, YAY!)
  • Violence/Trigger warnings: emotional and verbally abusive parenting, talks of cheating on someone

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Book Review

Book Review: Wild Savage Stars (Sweet Black Waves #2) by Kristina Pérez

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + retelling
Length: 420 pages
Author: Kristina Pérez
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Iseult, Wild Savage Stars is the spellbinding sequel to Sweet Black Waves.

Branwen has a secret powerful enough to destroy two kingdoms.

Her ancient magic led to a terrible betrayal by both her best friend, the princess Essy, and her first love, Tristan. Now this same magic is changing Branwen. Adrift in a rival court, Branwen must hide the truth from the enemy king by protecting the lovers who broke her heart―and finds herself considering a darker path.

Not everyone wants the alliance with Branwen’s kingdom to succeed―peace is balanced on a knife’s edge, and her only chance may be to embrace the darkness within… 

CAN I HAVE BOOK THREE PLEEEEEASE?

Whoa y’all. This was one of my top TBR books for 2019. After last years Sweet Black Waves, I was left SHOOOOK. And here I am, still feeling the same. I seriously have no clue where book three is going to go. Many, many things happened in the last 50 pages of this book that really brought home this solid 4 star rating.

Branwen is a mystical MC. I never know quite what to do with her. I like her most of the time, other times I want to shout at her, but all in a day’s work right? I feel like she has a lot on her shoulders that have heavily influenced her decisions on motives. Branwen doesn’t always make the right choice, yet I can tell her heart is in the right place. That ending though? Oooooh boy, I can see myself being utterly devastated by the last book. I’M SPECULATING WILDLY.

I’m here for Branwen and Ruan though. As soon as he walked on screen, Tristan was out of my mind (well, that happened at the end of book one). They have great chemistry and while I didn’t love how their relationship started, I loved how it formed from that point. What read as a bit rushed, was well thought out. I want to see more of them ASAP. I get a happy ending right?

Ugh, you know who I hate? Tristan and Eseult. BYE FELICIA. Goodness gracious. Both of them are whiny, immature, and selfish. I can’t handle them and need them to be taken down a few pegs. I wanted to feel more remorse for them, but really struggled too. They definitely weren’t making it easy on me.

Marc. This man grew on me. Made my heart hurt. And i just wanted to find him and give him a hug. I think he needs one after that hand he was dealt this book. THAT POOR MAN. HE JUST WANTS TO BE A GOOD KING. I want him to get the story he deserves, though I’m worried if that will happen. I also don’t want to go into detail because I don’t want to spoil it for y’all. You will love Marc by the end of WSS.

I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop in here. And i gotta say, I’m not sure that happened? There were some moments at the end where secrets started spilling out. I am excited for book three (and did you see the cover reveal? GORGEOUS). Really though, I love this setting and the way this re-telling has been done. It’s all fantastic.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + retellings
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, one mild-detailed love scene, a few others (that are not even fade to black, whatever is considered before that, she says “I need a distraction” then the scene ends, but you know what they obviously did), a lot of discussion of maidenhood (being a virgin by the standards of the religion for this fantasy)
  • Violence: murder, poison, knives, swords, battles, skirmishes; fairly detailed/bloody at times
  • Trigger warnings: miscarriage resulting from a bad fall

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