Rating: 4 STARS
Genre: Historical Romance
Series/Standalone: The Penwich School for Virtuous Girls #1
How I got this book: Bought
She works to live...
One would think the last place a beauty like Fallon O'Rourke could keep her virtue was in the Mayfair mansion of London's most licentious duke, the notorious Dominic Hale. Yet Fallon—who's endured nothing but lecherous advances since her father's tragic death—is perfectly safe there...disguised as a footman! Beneath the notice of the dark-haired devil with his smoldering blue eyes and sinful smile, Fallon never imagines her secret will be discovered. But how long can her deception last when she begins to wish she is one of the many women traipsing in and out of the sinful rogue's bedchamber?
He lives to sin...
Most men envy the duke, never suspecting his pleasure-loving ways are a desperate attempt to escape, however briefly, the pain of a past that's left him with a heart of stone. Only one woman can break down his defenses. Only one woman can win his love...if she reveals her secret and succumbs to the sins of the wicked duke.
TW: Child-abuse (beating).
My first book of the year was very much a comfort read.
After binge-watching Bridgerton over the holidays, I desperately wanted to read something set in the same period and with the same level of upstairs/downstairs gossip and drama.
So, not having Julia Quinn's, The Duke and I, in my collection, I turned to an old favourite!
“I wish for adventure. I wish to matter. I wish for a home.”
Sins of a Wicked Duke is one of my favourite romance novels. Sophie Jordan does a brilliant job of creating Fallon, a strong heroine who, as a reader, I completely empathise with as she struggles to deal with life as a woman in the service of men.
Since leaving the orphanage where she was raised and abused by the headmaster, she goes into work without a reference befitting her education and can only find work as a maid. But life as a woman in service is hard; with the unwanted attention from the men who employ her driving her out of every steady position.
Faced with no choice, and with the help of her two best friends, Fallon decides that the only way for her to get the money she needs to escape this life is to pretend to be a man and take the job of footman at the house of the most notorious Duke in the ton.
I absolutely love Fallon. She's fierce, tough, and compassionate. Damien is, at first, the polar opposite. He's a complete rake with no manners and no respect for women. Until his layers are revealed, and we see his true nature, hidden beneath the trauma of his childhood, not so dissimilar to Fallon's in the abuse he received as a child.
With a guaranteed HEA and a Mulan-style gender-swapping twist, Sins of a Wicked Duke is the perfect read for lovers of Bridgerton and Downton Abbey who're looking for a little heat!
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary YA
How I got this book: ARC via NetGalley and UCLan Publishing
When his dad moves out, Jamie tries to fill his shoes. He needs to become head of the household – right? With his mum dealing with the aftermath of toxic masculinity at its finest, and his little sister Bex struggling to understand what’s going on, Jamie has to navigate the choppy waters of what he thinks it means to be a man.
Having learned that the best way to deal with feelings is to push them down as far as they’ll go, he finds help from an unlikely source. Drinking makes him feel invincible – Super Jim can take on anything – and anyone… But how long will it be before this particular well of wisdom runs dry? And what will it take for Jamie to realise that help was at hand all along?
From the author of the Geekhood series, the first of which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Award, comes Smashed by Andy Robb. Funny, touching, with a narrator readers’ will instantly love, Smashed is a rollercoaster exploration of young masculinity. The story would appeal to fans of Me Mam, Me Dad, Me and Noah Can’t Even.
TW: domestic violence, emotional abuse, manipulation, blackmail, kidnapping, depression, teen alcoholism, sexism.
The main reason I was drawn to this book was that it was recommended to fans of Noah Can't Even, which I adored.
It becomes very clear, very quickly, that this book centres around domestic violence. Jamie is struggling to cope after The Night Everything Went Weird when his mum got The Rainbow Eye and his dad started sleeping downstairs. He now finds himself as 'man' of the house, responsibilities stacking up as he has to mediate his mum and dad's relationship, take care of his younger sister and bear the 'Weight of Manhood'.
I really liked Jamie at first, he's a compelling character, with an inner voice that draws you in and makes you hope everything will work out for the best.
Just thinking of Bex saying those words is enough for the recently installed radiator in my throat to get hot and my eyes to blur with the sting of salty tears.
But, there came a point where his inner voice stopped being an almost 16-year-old boy and instead took the tone of a grown man trying far too hard to be funny and falling completely short (to put it simply, the voice of the author overtook Jamie's voice, and it wasn't enjoyable). When he describes his English teacher's breasts as 'pendulous milk tanks' I almost threw up, threw the book, and stopped reading.
The writing reeks of sexism, even though the supposed point is to make a stand against toxic masculinity.
So, I was at the point where I felt convinced I wouldn’t finish this book. The choice of language, the toxic masculinity and the blatant sexism annoyed and disgusted me, but something was compelling about Jamie and his plight that almost forced me to keep reading.
I blink twice, before smearing on the smile I rehearsed in the mirror. "Oh, you know me, Becky" I nod. "I'm fine."
Jamie finds that the 'Weight of Manhood' becomes harder and harder to carry, but he's got no choice. His mum needs him, his little sister needs him, and he doesn't know how he feels about his dad. Add to this a girlfriend he feels is smothering him, Jamie needs an escape, and his mum's drinks cabinet is right there...ready for the taking.
There were a few things in this book that made me cringe. If it hadn't been for the sexist language (I mean, for god's sake, he literally gives a girl the nickname 'nipples' at one point), the almost forgiveness for unforgivable acts and some really stupid decisions that would NEVER EVER HAPPEN.
At no point would you EVER freely allow your young child to go off with a man that a.) hit you, b.) stole from you, c.) basically kidnapped your child, d.) has previously used said child to manipulate/blackmail you and the child in question.
You'd literally call the police and keep the man as far away from your children as possible.
The secondary characters do add a lot to the story. Jamie's best friend is a great character, and I'd actually love for him to have his own story. His girlfriend is sweet and his little sister is both adorable and heart-breaking as she struggles to understand what's happening at home.
One thing I can say for Andy Robb is that he can write a villain with scary accuracy. I held my breath through the entirety of Chapter 30 and wanted nothing more than to see Jamie's dad behind bars.
The pacing also is fantastic. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, watching with wide eyes as Jamie's life crashes and burns around him.
Overall, Smashed is a heart-breaking journey of a young boy who spirals out of control as he attempts to deal with the aftermath of domestic violence and to come to terms with what it truly means to be a man.
I can't deny that it was compelling, but I think that some language choices and messages left a lot to be desired.
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel
How I got this book: NetGalley ARC
Ever felt anxious or alone? Like you don't belong anywhere? Like you're almost... invisible? Find your kindred spirits at The Sad Ghost Club.
This is the story of one of those days - a day so bad you can barely get out of bed, when it's a struggle to leave the house, and when you do, you wish you hadn't. But even the worst of days can surprise you. When one sad ghost, lost and alone at a crowded party, spies another sad ghost across the room, they decide to leave together. What happens next changes everything. Because that night they start the The Sad Ghost Club - a secret society for the anxious and alone, a club for people who think they don't belong.
For fans of Heartstopper and Jennifer Niven, and for anyone who's ever felt invisible. You are not alone. Shhh. Pass it on.
I've been trying to read more graphic novels lately, especially as my 6yo has become low-key obsessed with them. So, when I saw the adorable-looking, The Sad Ghost Club, I had to request it.
This is such a relatable book. I don't know of a single person in my life who doesn't suffer from some type of anxiety, myself included, and this book really resonated with me; even down to blaming my cats for their bad advice!
The illustrations in this book are really cute and very reminiscent of Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, the story starts off quite dark as you see the extent of the main characters loneliness and fear of not being accepted.
But the message of the book is really kind and sweet and made me feel so much better about my own insecurities. I'd highly recommend this book to everyone; kids, teens and adults alike.
It's like a little warm hug letting you know you're not alone.
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
How I got this book: ARC via NetGalley
All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.
I love it when you read a book that isn't tagged as LGBTQ+ but it turns out that it is! (Especially when it's representing your own identity!)
It wasn't much, just a fleeting mention, but it sort of changes the way you connect with a book and it's characters when you see part of yourself reflected back at you.
I was completely intrigued by the bio of this book (and the cover because let's be honest, it's gorgeous and looks a lot like an A Court of Thorns and Roses novel) and when I started reading I instantly fell under its spell.
The main draw for me at first was the books, which are fantastic and such a great concept - it reminded me so much of The Pagemaster (if you haven't seen this gem, just go and watch it, you won't be disappointed!) and I felt so nostalgic! I love how the books are such an integral part of this story from start to finish, how they change and the secrets they hold, it's all fantastic!
What's also amazing (and unusual) about this book is that I loved each and every one of the characters. Elisabeth is so relatable and if you love books, you're going to love her and see a lot of yourself in her. She's fierce, courageous, loyal and true. Her bravery in the face of insurmountable odds is stunning and she makes a fantastic heroine.
Nathaniel's expression grew odd. "You like this place?"
"Of course I do. It has books in it."
Then we have Nathaniel, who is just delightful and now one of my favourite male characters. He's a tortured soul (because this is a YA and he has to be dammit!) with a dark secret (see last bracketed note), but he's so sweet and just adorable. I love how his and Elisabeth's relationship grows, their chemistry is so sweet. The fact that he continually calls her 'menace' and 'terror' is too adorable and their story has a real Pride and Prejudice vibe to it (but with magic and swords!)
"Of course you can stay, you menace. It isn't as though I could stop you even if I wanted to."
Then we come to my absolute favourite character in this whole book - SILAS!
Silas is amazing, he starts the book as such a sinister, menacing character and by the end, you just want to put him in your pocket and protect him from the world. He's such an incredible character with a level of sass that's off the charts. At one point he basically bitch slaps another character and it's glorious!
He looked aggrieved. "I have hardly been absent for twenty-four hours, and already the world has descended into ruin."
Through Elisabeth, the author weaves a fantastic feminist tale, putting into sharp focus the hardships faced by women at the hands of men, and the struggles women have to stand up and be heard when opposing a man. I particularly love the juxtapositions between certain real-life events.
To think that the world could fall to ruin due to the decisions of a single small-minded man in charge - that was all it took to doom everyone-
The ending of this book almost had me in tears, and truly, I'm so glad that this book is a standalone because, whilst I would love to revisit these characters, this book is fantastic as it is because of that stunning ending.
So, if you're looking for a feminist fantasy with a Pride and Prejudice style romance, magic, demons, swords and more books than you could hope for, go read Sorcery of Thorns.
Have you already read it? Come chat to me because I have so much to rave about with this book!
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
Series/Standalone: The Christmas Angel #6 (Can be read as a standalone).
How I got this book: Bought
Pax Polo is the swashbuckling guitarist for Serenity Free.
Correction: Was the swashbuckling guitarist for Serenity Free.
Now he sports a black eye and his bros have kicked him out of their band—three weeks before Christmas. It’s an unfamiliar kick to his over-inflated ego, but . . . whatever.
Thanks to some stellar eavesdropping, an unexpected angel ornament, and a bribe to open for his favorite band ever, Pax will weasel his way back into his mates’ good graces.
All he has to do is friend Clifford, the neighborhood man-shrew, for the summer. Distract him a bit so Clifford’s younger sister can sneak around.
It sounds like a piece of beginners Beethoven. Jolly good fun.
Because, Pax totally knows how to friend people. He has heaps of friends. This shrew’s no match for his shrewd ways. Or is he?
TW: Grief and homophobia.
EEEK! This book has me all mushy and gooey just thinking about it (even though I finished it days ago!)
It might be the middle of summer here in the UK (not that you could tell from the awful weather) but this Australian Christmas romance has melted me like chocolate by the fire.
You know one of those books where you bite your lip almost the entire way through, just to contain the big goofy grin that's desperate to break out? Well, this is one of the best.
Anyta Sunday knocks slow-burn romance out of the park each and every time with her friends-to-lovers romances and I just can't get enough of her characters!!
This book is also hilarious, from the back and forth banter, the scheming teenagers, and those perfect Clifford the Big Red Dog jokes.
Clifford and Pax are the perfect pairing, they have amazing chemistry, great dialogue and are so stupidly cute. Watching as Pax tries to bring chaos into Cliff's well-organised life was so much fun!
Cliff cast his gaze heavenward. “Really? This is the guy I . . .?” Pax leaned against the doorframe and arched a cocky brow. “The guy you what?”
Anyta has this amazing talent of being able to bring the most loveable idiots to life with a story that's fairly drama free but that keeps you wanting more.
Throw into the mix the varied supporting cast (and sub-plots) and this was a book I could not put down. The trio of love-struck teens were great fun to read about, especially Luca who's just the cutest little cinnamon bun of a character - I wish I had his cheery outlook on life.
“English is my third language. Italian, my second. Emotion, my first.”
“That is easily the corniest line you’ve said.”
There are some heavier topics in this book (see trigger warnings above) that both characters have to face but they're dealt with well and in a manner that doesn't detract from the warm feeling you get from reading this book as a whole.
What I love about this book also is that it's a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew (with some great 10 Things I Hate About You references). It works really, really well!
Shrewd Angel is part of a collection of Christmas romances called 'Christmas Angel' in which an angel figurine passes through the generations and weaves its magic. However, each story can be read as a standalone. I think I'll try Eli Easton's contribution to the collection next.
So, if you're in the mood for a toe-curling, grin-inducing m/m romance featuring two surprisingly mature leads who have a great deal of fun stepping on each other's toes, Shrewd Angel is the book for you.
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
How I got this book: Bought via Audible
It’s not easy for a young gay artist like Jordan Carson to grow up in Jefferson, Wisconsin, where all anyone seems to care about in middle school and high school are the sports teams. But Jordan was lucky. He met Owen Nelson in the second grade, and they’ve been BFFs ever since. Owen is a big, beautiful blond and their school’s champion wrestler. No one messes with Owen, or with anyone close to him, and he bucks popular opinion by keeping Jordan as his wingman even after Jordan comes out at school.
Their friendship survives, but Jordan’s worst enemy may be himself: he can’t seem to help the fact that he is head-over-heels in love with a hopeless case—his straight friend, Owen. Owen won’t let anything take Jordan’s friendship away, but he never counted on Jordan running off to find a life of his own. Owen will have to face the nature of their relationship if he’s to win Jordan back.
TW: Homophobia, suicide, consent.
I just want to start by saying how much I LOVED the narrator! Eli Easton is a fantastic author and Tristan Wright truly bought this book to life and injected so much emotion that I could not put it down and ended up starting the book before bed and finishing it at around 1:30am (oops!)
I love Jordan (Jordi) - he is so, so sweet and relatable and adorable and I just felt my heart breaking for him throughout the entire book.
Owen is a pure soul and so incredibly naive that I often found myself wishing I could wake him to the truth.
The friendship between these characters is just beautiful, made even more so by the pain and turmoil they each face. Eli Easton writes drama, tragedy and pain incredibly well, none more so (for me at least) than in Boy Shattered but there are sections of this book that are equally moving and heart wrenching.
There was so much drama, emotion, humour and friendship in this book and it was just fantastic!
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Standalone/Series: Spellslinger #4
How I got this book: ARC from Bonnier Zaffre and Hot Key Books via NetGalley
The fourth book in the page-turning SPELLSLINGER fantasy series.
Perfect for fans of The Dark Tower, Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, Terry Pratchett, Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.
(Not much of a synopsis on Goodreads, but, if you haven't read the first three books in the Spellslinger series yet, you can find them here!)
I discovered the first book in the Spellslinger series in December 2017, and after reading the following two books in the series earlier this year, it's become a huge favourite.
So, I was more than excited to see Soulbinder pop up in NetGalley as I was desperate to find out what happened after the events of Charmcaster. I'm going to do my very best here to keep any spoilers out of this review, but if you haven't read the first three books of this series, you might want to look away now. You can find my reviews of book two (Shadowblack) and book three (Charmcaster) by clicking on the respective links.
This series goes from strength to strength with each new instalment that I read, and Soulbinder is no exception. It felt much more action-packed than the other books in the series, which really sped up the pace.
I have noticed a few recurring trends in these books, often with how they start (in the form of the trouble that Kellen is usually in), something bad happening to my favourite character, and the endings which lead Kellen on a new path and show how much he's grown, but each time it's something a little different that keeps things fresh and moving forward, and whilst each individual book has a sub-plot, the overall plot is continuously fuelled and driven forwards.
One of the best things about this book is the new characters, in particular, Butelios who is the absolute sweetest person, and the source of many, many smiles during his interactions with Kellen.
"...wearing an idiots smile so bright it made you want to kiss him. Even if you weren't into boys."
(Shame, because I'd totally ship these two!)
Kellen has developed beautifully throughout this series, discovering new strengths, facing his weaknesses, learning new truths and just becoming a better person. He truly rules this book (as does my little fur baby Reichis, of course) and his agony was so painful to witness, even though at the same time you can visibly see just how much he's grown and learned from Ferius and Reichis, becoming the hero (I personally believe) he was destined to be all along.
This book is the most heart-wrenching of the entire series, and I was so close to sobbing at one point that I almost didn't want to continue, so brace yourself for ALL THE FEELS!
"Life ought to be more than just losing the things you love one after another until you have nothing left."
As always, the politics between the various regions, clans, peoples etc. in this series, made the book extremely interesting, as did seeing the cast of new characters clashing with the old. Look out for some pretty awesome new displays of magic!!
The book itself is absolutely stunning, so far we've had beautifully illustrated covers in red, blue, orange and now green...I think the next one is purple and it's going to look stunning! The illustrations inside are also beautiful and work extremely well alongside the funny and poignant quotes at the start of each paragraph.
"Cages have bars and everyone knows you're supposed to escape a cage, but houses have walls and people lock themselves inside to feel safe. You ask me, it's a lot easier to break out of a cage than a house. - What passes for Squirrel Cat Wisdom."
After reading Soulbinder, I can't wait to find out where Kellen's journey takes him next, to discover new enemies, reface old ones, to reconnect with past characters, to be introduced to new ones, and above all, to see what kind of man he becomes.
"...I won't know for sure until I meet the man you're going to be once you finally get tired of being the boy you once were."
If fantasy and magic is your thing and you're looking for a story featuring an unlikely non-typical hero, a ferocious, bloodthirsty squirrel cat, beautiful friendships, brutal enemies and uncertainty at every turn, I highly recommend that you read this series!
Feel free to chat with me about it in the comments whilst I twiddle my thumbs waiting for book 5!
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Genre: Contemporary Romance
How I got this book: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review
Brooklyn Manning thought her life was perfect in every way, until it crumbled down around her and turned into a dumpster fire. With her pride wounded and her tail tucked between her legs, she leaves New York and goes back to her tiny hometown of White Timber, Montana.
No more twenty-four-hour taco trucks, no more shopping at the best designer stores within walking distance, no more giving taxi drivers the finger when they angrily honk at her. She didn’t think it could get any worse. But then Clint Hastings walked into the room and insulted her.
Her arch nemesis from high school is no longer a nerdy computer whiz, masturbating to pictures in PC World magazine in his free time (allegedly). He’s grown up to be a hot-as-hell cowboy, and she has no other choice but to be a smart ass right back to him. After all, it’s what they do. It’s what they’ve always done, and twelve years apart hasn’t changed anything.
Only this time, getting under each other’s skin is a hell of a lot more fun than it used to be.
Pumpkins. Enemies to Lovers. Pumpkins. Cute Kids. Pumpkins. Sexy Cowboy. Pumpkins. Friendship. Pumpkins.
If, like me, you freaking LOVE AUTUMN and you're ready for falling leaves, chilly evenings, blankets, jumpers, gorgeous sunsets, morning frost and Halloween...I know, I know, I didn't mention pumpkins, fun fact, I don't like pumpkins (not that I take offence at the fruit itself, I love carving the buggers), I just hate the taste, so pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice latte, all that fun stuff that people go crazy for at this time of the year, I just can't stand...PLEASE DON'T BURN ME AT THE STAKE!!
Anyway, if you love Autumn, and you're looking for a book to match your Autumn mood, The Simple Life is the book for you.
Brooklyn is a hot shot writer living in New York City but her 'perfect' life quickly goes south and she's forced to move back home to the town she fled when she was younger. Forced to face facts, not to mention an incredibly handsome and infuriating man who she hasn't seen for years, along with a couple of fun, yet struggling kids, Brooklyn's life is about to be turned upside down.
This book is so much fun! Tara Sivec has this way of writing that just draws me in and hooks me from page one and I always have trouble putting her books down. The Simple Life was no exception. The characters are realistic, the humour is blunt and hilariously inappropriate and the chemistry is sizzling.
I loved the insult trading between the two main characters. I loved seeing each character grow and develop over the course of the book, especially Brooklyn who completely came out of her shell, and then there's the girls; the two amazing crazy girls, the youngest of which totally reminded me of my own crazy, free spirited daughter.
I love the farm life aspect of this book and I love the unfiltered humour. Brooklyn and Clint's sarcastic nature along with their sizzling off-the-page chemistry really made this book stand out and made their relationship one of my favourites.
I devoured the book, not wanting to put it down, which is how I am with almost all of Tara Sivec's books, so if you're looking for a cosy, romantic, autumn read, The Simple Life is definitely the book for you.
This book is a 100% feel-good romantic comedy from one of my favourite romance authors with a guaranteed HEA.
Welcome to my stop on The Soul Keepers blog tour!!
Big thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me to participate, I really enjoyed reading this book and I'm excited to share my review with you all.
Rating: 3.5 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
Death is just the beginning.
After dying in a terrible car accident, Rhett awakens in the afterlife and is recruited to join the crew of the Harbinger, a colossal seafaring vessel tasked with ferrying the souls of the dead. To where exactly, no one knows. But the crew must get the souls there, and along the way protect them from vicious soul-eating monsters that will stop at nothing to take the ship and all of its occupants.
Rhett and his new friends have a hard enough time fighting back the monsters that grow bolder and more ferocious every day. But then a new threat emerges, a demon who wants something that Rhett has. And if she gets it, it could mean the end of everything... for both the living and the dead.
This book took me COMPLETELY by surprise!
I admit that I struggled a little to get into it at the beginning but I quickly got caught up in the fantastic mythology.
To sum it up, this book felt like a mixture of Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and a modern spin on Greek mythology.
I loved the writing style, particularly when it came to the action scenes which were fantastic, and also the plot twists which were extremely unexpected.
The characters were varied and interesting, keeping me engaged throughout and the mythology is fascinating, especially the ship itself, and its changing nature.
My only complaint with this book was the ending, I just felt that it left so many unanswered questions. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend The Soul Keepers to mythology and YA fantasy lovers in general.
You can click the cover photo above to add the book to your Goodreads TBR and enter below for your chance to win a print copy of The Soul Keepers (US/CAN only - giveaway hosted by Xpresso Book Tours).
Finally, you can click the banner at the top to follow the rest of the tour and feel free to leave your comments below :)
Rating: 3 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from HarperCollins UK, Children's via NetGalley
Everyone knows what happens in the end.
A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss.
But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends.
One feared, one royal, and one already dead.
Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch.
A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.
But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.
The rise of Hans Christian Andersen’s iconic villainess is a heart-wrenching story of friendship, betrayal, and a girl pushed beyond her limits—to become a monster.
I spotted this book on NetGalley and was drawn to it for two reasons:
1.) The cover is gorgeous! It's a little superficial to judge a book by its cover, I know (yet we all do it!), but it really drew me in. I loved the creepy, mysterious vibe to it and had high hopes for a dark story.
2.) From the synopsis, it's obvious that this story is connected to The Little Mermaid and I've really enjoyed a lot of the fairytale retellings that have been released year!
On that note, as you can probably gather from the cover and the synopsis, this story isn't so much a retelling as an Ursula origin story, which I was more than on-board with! I love a good villain story!
My thoughts on this book are a little mixed, so please bear with me as I'm still processing!
The opening chapter was interesting but a little confusing and I wasn't entirely sure I'd be able to get into this book. However, I soon found myself flying through chapters, the pace really picked up and I became heavily invested and intrigued to find out what would happen next.
It was definitely an interesting start to the story. I was invested in the characters, most particularly Evie, her story of hardship and life as an outcast made her character much stronger.
I also really liked Tante Hansa and Annemette; the latter really comes into her own as we near the end of the book and Tante Hansa's no-nonsense approach to life made me an instant fan of hers, especially with this particular quote,
"Don't grant all the prince's requests, darling girl. Men are always asking for more than they should."
Sadly, I wasn't too keen on the other characters. Iker was predictable from the start and Evie's obsession with him never made sense to me.
Nik is a marginally better character but the 'romance' aspect of this book really threw me off. It felt a bit messy and wishy-washy in places, leading up to a 'surprise' reveal at the end that was quite strange and didn't really make sense to me.
Sadly, just over halfway through the book, whilst I didn't at all lose interest or get bored, I did become more and more frustrated with Evie. She's so naive and at times almost oblivious to what's immediately in front of her and I just found some of the storyline a bit repetitive as she goes back and forth over how she's treated by everyone, her attraction to Iker, and her guilt.
I did push past this and kept reading, which I'm really glad I did because things got decidedly better when a certain 'truth' is finally revealed, which does take the story to a much darker place, and I did enjoy this a lot more.
The epilogue was probably my favourite chapter, although I ultimately felt sad that what I'd hoped at the beginning would be an empowering female novel, ended on a bit of a sour note for me.
Overall, whilst I did enjoy the premise of the story and the backstory it provided, I just felt that the main character lacked a little punch.
Recommended for fans of To Kill A Kingdom, The Language of Thorns and fairytale retellings in general.
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
THIS BLOG IS SPOILER FREE!
5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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