YA Books

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston – ARC Review

Thank you to Quirk books for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review.

I love the first two books in the Once Upon a Con series so I was so excited to read this book and it certainly lived up to expectations!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.

On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.

When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.

But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.

We first met Vance in The Princess and the Fangirl and I hated him! He was the exact type of guy I cannot stand but somehow Ashley got me to fall in love with him in this book. We learn there is a lot more to him than we think and that he isn’t quite like the persona he shows to the media.

Rosie was a wonderful character and a total booknerd! I loved her from the moment she spoke about her love for books and how much these fictional worlds mean to her. She was so relatable and I think all of us booknerds will immediately love her.

This story takes all the great parts of Beauty and the Beast and puts a fresh nerdy spin on it. Obviously an integral part of the story is the incredible library and we spend a lot of the story there which I loved! I liked how both Rosie and Vance slowly put their guards down and showed their vulnerable side and it all happened when they were both in the library. My nerdy heart could not take it when Rosie read the story to Vance I had a huge grin on my face! The build up of Rosie and Vance initially not liking each other at all and the tension and the angst was so good! I was literally screaming at them!

I really loved Rosie’s friends and that Vance had at least one true friend who basically told him to get it together. The Gaston of the story was the absolute worst and the way he manipulated things and doesn’t know how to take no for an answer. I was mad on Rosie’s behalf. I also loved seeing cameos of characters from the previous books and seeing what they were doing now.

Overall this was a cute nerdy story that I’m sure everyone will enjoy, especially you love beauty and the beast. It will fill your nerdy heart with joy and Rosie is all of us introverted booknerds who would rather spend the evening reading than go to party.

Diverse Books, YA Books

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon – ARC Review

Thank you Hodder Books for sending me and ARC in exchange for an honest review.

As soon as I heard about a Desi Beauty and the Beast retelling I knew I had to read it! And it did not disappoint! This has become my favourite Beauty and the Beast retelling!

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Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

This book was such a wonderful read and one I could not put down. Even when I wasn’t reading it my thoughts kept going back to Jaya and Grey. I loved that Sandhya kept true to the story but also included some really interesting twists to them and throughout the book I was reading thinking is it truly magic? Or not? It made the story even more intriguing to not really be certain either way so we can make up our own minds.

One of the things that I loved was that it was set in a boarding school rather than the beasts castle as it took away the whole kidnapping and keeping Beauty hostage part of the story which I absolutely hated because Stockholm syndrome anyone?! With it being in a boarding school and Jaya having actively decided herself to go and attend the school it took away that issue. And the boarding school gave it a fresh take on the story too as there are other characters and their stories which are interwoven into Jaya and Grey’s.

I loved Grey from the moment we meet him because unlike other Beasts, he isn’t a jerk. He isn’t cursed because he was a horrible person. He is really closed off and doesn’t like interacting with anyone and that is mostly down to him being aware of the curse since he was a kid. He is called a misanthrope, who is someone who avoids human society, and honestly I think we can all relate to that! He is actually a pretty great person but because of his curse he feels like he shouldn’t bother thinking about the future or making friends. Despite him not wanting to make friends, he still does have some pretty great people in his life who do call him a friend and that was so lovely to see.

Jaya was someone who I initially wasn’t particularly fond of, she was condescending and judgemental towards anyone who had a different opinion to her when it came to her conservative view of how a young woman should behave or be allowed to do. She doesn’t approve of her sister wanting to study mechanics because it isn’t something appropriate for a princess. She does however have such a wonderful character arc that made me end up really rooting for her and really loving her. We learn that there’s more to her than we initially see.

The rest of the characters we meet, Grey’s friends and Jaya’s sister and even the “popular couple” have more depth to them than we initially think they would. Their friends are wonderful and I loved seeing that there was a great group of friends who were supportive and accepted each other for who they were. I also loved seeing Jaya’s relationship with her sister and how they are always there for each other and how much Jaya tries to protect and keep her sister safe.

I also loved seeing Indian culture incorporated into the story and how it’s an important part of Jaya’s life but also how some parts of the culture have certain expectations for women and expect women to stay in their place and how Jaya learns to deal with that inner battle of being who she is expected to be by her parents and society but also being true to herself. It also touches on the British Empire and colonialism and how the effects of that still affect people living in India today.

This whole story and the slow burn romance had me feeling all happy and gooey inside and I just loved this book so much. I saw a brown girl be the book nerd princess and my inner child just loved it so much! I really loved how the ending showed how much they have grown together and because of each other. And I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in this series.

Fiction Books, YA Books

A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer – ARC Review

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed the first book especially as it wasn’t your typical retelling but had a much larger story arc but I was really disappointed by the sequel.

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Rating: 2/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

*This review contains very mild spoilers*

I was really looking forward to seeing where the story would go next especially with the way Curse ended but I was left feeling really unsatisfied by this book. I was expecting lots of action and political tension with contrasting views between Rhen and Grey but we don’t get any of that.

Instead we get a whole lot of nothing really, during this whole book absolutely nothing of consequence happens. I found myself completely bored and not wanting to pick the book up for days at a time. We only see Grey’s and Lia’s point of view so we don’t even know what is happening outside of their small view as they spend most of the time on the run and in seclusion or trapped in a castle far from Emberfall.

While I do love Grey and I did end up really liking Lia I wish more had actually happened. I wanted to see more interaction between Rhen and Grey I wanted to see more of Harper. I also was not a fan of Rhen’s character development, or the lack thereof, he went backwards and I ended up not liking him at all in this book. He also very obviously has PTSD but this is used to make him a ruthless villain who even tortures a child at one point. I was so confused by this as Brigid did a great job showing Harper’s disability positively. I just wish the conversation was more nuanced.

I do love Grey and how much he cares for others and how kind and fair he is and we can see that he would become a great King, one that would actually help it’s people and I really liked seeing Lia interact with him. She was another character that while I did like did also annoy me at times. Though I did like how she has beaten down to the point that she doesn’t always trust her own judgement and ability because she would actually be a great Queen but not one that her mother wants her to be as she won’t be completely obedient to Karis. I enjoyed watching her learn to trust herself more and how Grey and Lia helped each other grow.

This is a very long book which had very little substance to it and felt like we didn’t really need much of the plot at all. It felt like a lot of filler information whereas the direction the story we were hinted at in Curse was one of brothers who become rivals with real consequences whereas we only see them have one conversation about the future of Emberfall in the very last chapter!

Friday Favourites

Friday Favourites – Favourite Villains

This is hosted by Something of the Book who created this tag out of a love for lists. There are different topics for us all to be able to take part and you can find the prompts here. There isn’t a specific number of favourites so it’s entirely up to you how many you share. You can share your most or least favourites too!

As I did a post on my favourite villains not too long ago, I thought I would share my favourite Disney villains instead!

So here are the Disney villains I love or love to hate!

1 Hades from Hercules – I actually love Hades, I mean I know he’s trying to take over Olympus but he’s so sarcastic while doing it that you just can’t help but root for him just a little.

2Maleficient from Sleeping Beauty – The only good thing about this film was Maleficent.

3 Scar from The Lion King – Another absolutely awful villain who was sarcastic enough for me to actually enjoy his presence

4 Gaston from Beauty and the Beast – The Disney version of white male privilege and damn I could not stand him.

5 Jafar from Aladdin – I really hated him and how he view Jasmine as a thing to be owned

6 Mother Gothel from Tangled – I have never hated a Disney villain more than her. She manipulated, isolated and controlled Rapunzal and gaslit her when she tried to fight for her dream. Urgh! I really hate her!

So these are the villains I love to hate! Let me know who your favourites are!