A Curse so Dark and Lonely. ARC Book Review.

Title: A Curse so Dark and Lonely

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Published: Bloomsbury Publishing

Year: 2019

“There is blood under my fingernails. I wonder how many of my people I’ve killed this time”

A Curse so Dark and Lonely

At first I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this book but boy am i glad to be proven wrong. It had a very slow start and it took me awhile to realise it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling but it didn’t take long to pick up and i became invested in the characters and the story. This is the first book by Brigid Kemmerer that I’ve read and I enjoyed the way she writes, especially the different character perspectives. I enjoyed the diversity in our heroine, Harper, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. I loved that she doesn’t let that get in the way of how she wants to live. Harper comes from the modern era in Washington D.C. Our other main character Prince Rhen, comes from a completely different world called Emberfall where he and his guard commander, Grey, are cursed to relive Rhen’s 18th birthday over and over again until he finds true love to break the curse.

Rhen’s guard commander, Grey, is my favourite character in the book, I found myself wanting his survival and happy ending more than Rhen and Harper. Each season Grey is allowed one hour to go to the real world (our world) to find a girl to bring back to Emberfall to break the curse. This season while he is trying to abduct a girl in D.C, Harper intervenes and thus Grey brings her back instead.

Harper has a highly realistic, troubled life in D.C, her mother is dying of Cancer and her brother has had to become a gang enforcer to pay off their father’s bad debt so being taken unwillingly to a different world was not something she had planned and she is eager to return to her family. Once Harper finds out about the curse she is adamant she won’t fall in love with Prince Rhen. Harper is a strong, intelligent and resourceful female lead, I admire her very much.

Our lead villain, the Enchantress is quite active in the story and commits some unspeakable acts of cruelty that make you truly loathe her and hope for her demise. Part of the curse is that Prince Rhen is turned into a beast each season though he never knows what kind of beast he’ll become. Over the last 300+ seasons Rhen as a beast has killed his whole family and nearly everyone in Emberfall, the guilt for which he feels immensely.

The relationship between Harper and Grey is one of the best parts of the story in my opinion. He teaches her how to throw knives and sword fight, they play cards together and the loyalty they end up feeling for each other is inspiring. The slow-burning romance between Rhen and Harper creates a lot of intrigue and suspense which i found enjoyable. The ending leads me to believe there may be a second book coming which if that’s the case I am extremely eager to read it.

Overall I think readers will really enjoy this book and fans of Beauty and the Beast can rest easy knowing this retelling has done it justice.

Rating out of 10: 8

You can pre-order here for it’s release on January 29, 2019: A Curse so Dark and Lonely

Unspeakable: A Deadly Secrets Novel. ARC Book Review.

Title: Unspeakable – A Deadly Secrets Novel

Author: Elisabeth Naughton

Published: Montlake Romance

Year: 2018

“At what should have been one of the tensest moments of his life, Rusty laughed. And for the first time, he was glad he wasn’t alone.”

Unspeakable

‘All his siblings have moved on from their troubling pasts, but Rusty McClane can’t leave his behind. Not even when his freedom is in jeopardy. Legal investigator Harper Blake can sense a bad boy. She’s drawn to them—like she is to her mysterious and brooding new client. The police believe that Rusty is involved with the case of a missing underage girl. Harper’s job is to find evidence to defend him. But is her sexy suspect a predator…or something else? If Rusty is guilty of anything, it’s of stirring something primitive in Harper. The closer they get, the harder it is to believe the worst of him. But in an underworld filled with sex trafficking, kidnapping, and murder, Harper will need to be cautious about whom she trusts. Because Rusty isn’t the only one with secrets.’

Fast-paced, raunchy as hell sex scenes and deep dark twisty shit that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Love, love, loved this book! Only took me a day to read it, I went to bed early just so I could keep reading and I stayed up until 3 AM to finish it. The drama, the romance, the sex, the emotions, all written so well I felt like I was living through it myself.   I really felt the connection between Rusty and Harper, their relationship was so similar to my own with my partner so I really related to what they were going through, falling in love and learning to trust, not only each other, but trust that they deserved the happiness they were finally feeling after both having such a rough past.

I can see why Elisabeth is a best-selling author, her writing flows, she creates suspense and keeps you wanting more. She writes with confidence and doesn’t shy away from sex, she puts a fire in your belly you can’t put out. This book was also quite humorous and had a great family aspect where you feel warm and comforted knowing there are good people and good families out there. I absolutely loved how everything tied together in the end, very clever storytelling. Elisabeth shows she can create a relationship as well as connect her readers with her characters, which is no small feat for an author. TO make you want to care, to make you invested in a characters outcome, even if they’re not the main character. I was just as concerned for some of the supporting roles as I was for Rusty and Harper.

Those who love Nora Roberts and Jackie Collins will absolutely adore Elisabeth Naughton, I for one can’t wait to read more!

Rating out of 10: 10

Unspeakable will be available in November 2018. You can pre-order it here: Unspeakable

 

Outrun the Wind. ARC Book Review.

Title: Outrun the Wind

Author: Elizabeth Tammi

Published: Northern Star Editions – Flux

Year: 2018

Outrun the Wind 2.jpg

ARC provided by Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued by the Goddess Artemis, Kahina becomes part of the hunt, and now lives amongst the female warriors. On a routine mission things don’t quite go right and Kahina finds herself breaking the first rule to save Atalanta. In order to earn back Artemis’s favour, Kahina is sent to complete a task in the kingdom of Arkadia, which turns out to be where Atalanta came from and where she discovers her father who is in fact, their King. Atalanta’s father is insisting on marrying off his daughter to the highest bidder, Kahina helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage and when word spreads throughout Greece, fate is tempted as suitors from all over arrive to race Atalanta for her hand in marriage. The game turns deadly when two men from both of their pasts arrive to compete and Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule. 

Right from the start you’re introduced to a very large array of characters, it was hard to keep up with at first so I ended up taking notes just to keep track. We have two main characters in this story and the view points change each chapter to show us the story from both their points of view, which I really enjoyed. Atalanta and Kahina, two strong, brave young ladies who have both had tough lives. Atalanta never knew her parents, has spent her life trying to be accepted and finally found her place when she met her best friend Meleager, Prince Meleager that is. Atalanta is handpicked by him with a group of others to hunt down the Goddess Artemis’s Calydonian boar. It’s on this hunt that Atalanta and Kahina come across each other for the first time. Kahina is a huntress of the Goddess Artemis, she and the other huntresses have been tailing Atalanta and their group for some time, they’re to protect the Goddess’s boar at all costs. But something stirs within Kahina and she can’t bare to see Atalanta hurt, she takes a huge risk and thus starts a chain of events she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams. There wasn’t a huge amount of character depth which I feel the story could really use. This was actually my first f/f love story, their relationship had a really slow build and started off similarly to most, with them hating each other for no real reason and getting on each other’s nerves until the things they did to annoy each other became endearing to them.

I love the way this story is told, based on actual mythology and set in Ancient Greece, Elizabeth made this story her own in the most perfect way. I actually thought it was going to be a series, being introduced to so many characters at the start but not having them all properly explained made me feel like this was just the first book, a set up novel to the next two, alas unfortunately I was wrong! A lot happens to Atalanta and Kahina, both of their pasts are quite horrible and had you feeling for them both, these pasts however are what bring the two together. You can tell Elizabeth has done her research but also put quite a bit of herself into the story. It only took me two days to read because the story simply grasped me straight away and I didn’t want to put it down until I knew what happened next. I love all the strong female characters and loathe pretty much most of the men, not sure if that was the intention but all the men, with the exception of two, came off as savage beasts. I would have loved a bit more back story on the magic side of things that happened to Kahina, while reading it felt like there was a lot more that could be told. I would really love to have some prequel stories about the other amazing characters we met, especially on the huntresses. All in all I very much enjoyed reading this book and have no issue recommending it to others, I have no doubt at all that this book will do really well when released later this year.

Rating out of 10: 8.5

You can pre-order this novel here: Outrun the Wind

 

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy Book Two)

Title: Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy book two)

Author: Deborah Harkness

Published: Headline Publishing Group

Year: 2012

“It began with a discovery of witches…”

Shadow of Night

Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened. Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven…

OK so it took me a little over a year to read the whole book. It’s a big book. It’s a slow book. It has a lot of content and characters and if you’ve read the first one and thought there was a lot of tedious conversations and a lot of history you’ll find it hard to believe there is even more in this one. Now you probably think i hated the book, but i didn’t! I just really struggled to stay focused on it. It isn’t a book you can just pick up one afternoon and read the whole thing. There’s a lot going on and a lot to process so i found myself getting overwhelmed quite regularly and had to put it down and pick it up either a couple of days or even a couple of months later, hence it taking me so long to complete it.

Matthew and Diana travel back in time to Elizabethan London and Diana learns a lot more about Matthew straight off the bat. ‘”Just who are you, Matthew?” I hadn’t thought to ask him before we departed.’ This sentence really sums up A LOT about their relationship. Diana realising she has been a bit reckless and learnt virtually nothing about the man she is now magically tied to, not that it changes the way she feels about him.  We are introduced to new characters, members of the School of Night which include Christopher Marlowe (who is a Daemon who goes by the name Kit), Walter Raleigh, Thomas Harriet, George Chapman and more. The historian that Diana is can barely contain her excitement and disbelief that Matthew not only know these people but is friend to them as well! I enjoyed the name dropping in the beginning but they didn’t end up adding much to the story/plot which was disappointing. I’m really glad Deborah didn’t write everything in Elizabethan English, it would have grown tedious quickly. I found it very clever of her to explain how much Diana was struggling with it, that was enough reference for me. Gallowglass, Matthews brother, became my favourite character virtually as soon as he was introduced mostly because of his relationship with Diana that blossoms so naturally.

The reason they traveled back in time finally comes back into the picture, they need to find a witch professor to teach Diana her magic. They find one and it goes about as well as you’d expect (not well at all) and now Diana may be in even more danger. So now they have to leave and go somewhere safer and find someone else to teach her, they end up travelling to Sept Tours and the Village of Saint-Lucien and we’re introduced to Matthew’s vampire father, Phillippe, who i adore instantly. Not all of Matthew’s family that we meet are as likable, some i downright hated.

Diana learning her magic, how to weave the strands of time and discovering she has a fire-drake were all interesting points in the story. There were a few twists and unexpected turns, more travelling to different places like Prague and discovering all the different things Matthew was involved in. I’ve read a lot of other reviews for this book and most disliked the ending, i myself found it was well suited and made me curious to what would come in the final book. Part of the ending also made me quite emotional, Diana went through so much in this book which you don’t really full take in at the time, so when she is finally reunited with loved ones you can’t help but feel for her. Speaking of the end of the book, there is a list of all the characters (because there are so, so many) and descriptions of them so if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed like i was, flip to the back of the book and you’ll find your way back on track. I wish i had known about the list when i first read it!

Book two didn’t grab me like the first did, i’m glad i persisted and finished it though because book three is just stunning so i’ll be posting a review for that very soon.

Rating out of 10: 6

You can find book two here: Shadow of Night

 

 

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy Book One). Book Review.

Title: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy Book One)

Author: Deborah Harkness

Year: 2011

Published: Viking Penguin

‘Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries and she is the only creature who can break its spell.’

Discovery of Witches

This book, this series, has everything you could possibly want in a story. Love, history, libraries, witchcraft, adventure, time travel and more. If you love tales the likes of Harry Potter or Twilight you will enjoy this read, especially as it’s a more adult version of those stories. I absolutely adore book one, I’ve read it three times now and it just gets better and better each time. Deborah writes so well, she makes you feel and she makes you connect to the characters on a level no other author has done to me before. Okay now in saying that i did also have some issues, mostly with one vampire in particular, our male lead, Matthew Clairmont who is an attractive professor of biochemistry and neuroscience. He spends far too much time bossing Diana around, growling at her and everyone else (he is a generally mopey character as he’s been alive a long time and has had quite a depressing past). He controls her, essentially, and she just lets him so that’s a bit of a problem for me because come on, she is a scholar, she’s a freaking witch! And she’s letting a vampire tell her what to do? It’s just a bit unrealistic to me.

The other issue i had was the book is a little bit too long and too much time is spent on arbitrary things like what Diana is eating for instance. I feel a good 200 pages could have probably been cut, especially since this is the first book in a series. Too many adjectives used, i mean do we really need 5 different ways to describe the taste of a cup of tea or wine? Not really. I understand it’s a way to help you be in the moment but you can do that with a sentence.

Diana is such a powerful character in the beginning and i love her family, her Aunt and Aunt’s partner are so eccentric, so loving and funny. They all care so much for each other and are fiercely protective, especially when meeting Matthew. Witches and Vampires aren’t supposed to fall in love and be together, the congregation won’t allow it so when Diana brings one “home” to her Aunt you can bet she wasn’t too impressed. What i wish hadn’t changed was Diana’s independence, falling in love doesn’t have to mean giving up yourself which is exactly what she does. This is a journey of self-discovery for her and yet she is more enamoured with discovering the dark secrets Matthew has than being in awe of the magic she possesses.

There is a scene in the story that really got under my skin and i think you’ll know exactly which when you read it, it was heart stopping and had me wondering if there would even be a happy ending. One thing Deborah writes really well is the romance and “sex scenes”, she gives you a sense of true desire while keeping it relatively PG (these scenes reminded me a bit of Twilight actually).

This book got so many mixed reviews, a lot of negative ones too, which i think is because this is not an easy read, and the people who gave it negative reviews probably thought it was. There is so much depth, both in characters and in the rich history. Deborah has clearly done her research and managed to seamlessly incorporate true history into fiction, a feat few authors accomplish. All i can say to those who start this book and struggle, don’t give up too soon, it is so worth getting through it, especially to get to the third and final book which is an absolute masterpiece.

Rating out of 10: 8.5

You can find book one here: A Discovery of Witches

You can find book two here: Shadow of Night (book two) 

I’ll be putting up a review for Book Two shortly.