Twisted: Belle’s Story Review (Destined #3)

Twisted: Belle's Story (Destined, #3)

Belle was in Ella’s story as one of the privileged students at the Royal Academy. She was also hurt in the attacks, but her family had the money to actually fully heal her. At least, that is the story told in Fated, Ella’s story.

The truth is that Belle was only pretending to act like a stuck-up privileged student to try to bring down her abusive father. She hates her father and was looking into his finances at the bank to see why her family stayed rich during the plague when all the other families took a financial hit. She thinks that she is onto something when the attack happens, and, and the brain damage she gets from the blast causes her to lose part of her memory. Her father refuses to let a healer heal her fully, and chooses to threaten her into submission. Without complete memory of what she was trying to achieve and who she was close to, Belle also has to deal with the prince trying to hit on her. He seems rather close to her, but she can’t even remember why.

I didn’t like Belle in Fated very much, but she only showed up for a brief moment. I wasn’t sure what to expect in a book that would be completely about her, but I knew that I wanted to finish the series. This book was a pleasant surprise.

Belle wasn’t as stuck up as I originally thought she was. She was only acting rude to Ella in order to make her father believe that she was on his side. Everything she did was an act to keep her father on her side, even though she was working against him. I was so sad when she lost her memories, she had been doing so well and was so close to her goal and then everything disappeared before her eyes because of the memory loss. She was one of the strongest “rich girl” characters that I have ever read in a story before, so I hope to see more of her in the books to come.

The only small complaint I had about this story was how much time Belle spent confused. It was kind of annoying after a while as a reader from Belle’s POV to know what she was supposed to be doing, and still see her wandering around, confused and in pain from her unhealed injury. I was only frustrated for a small amount of the book, but it was worth mentioning.

Another thing worth mentioning was that I couldn’t see much of the chemistry between the prince and Belle. They were an okay couple, but I didn’t love them as much as the couples in the previous two books. Overall, I think that this book would rank at the bottom of the books in this series, but because the series is so good, I think it is still a 4 star read.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new Beauty and the Beast retelling.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books

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Hidden: Rapunzel’s Story Review (Destined #2)

Hidden: Rapunzel's Story (Destined, #2)

Zel is a mage with the Touch. If she touches someone, she can drain the life out of them. She has been under the control of an evil witch for years, and she can’t leave because the witch holds her True Name. Anything her mistress tells her to do, she has to do it. Every time she tries to escape she is caught and punished for it. When she isn’t trapped in her Tower, she is forced to murder people at her mistress’ demands.

When a man randomly climbs up to her tower, Zel knows she will be punished when he is found. But she just can’t force him to go away when he is willing to help her. No one has shown her kindness in years, but he wants to help her escape.

I have to be honest, I never felt much towards the Rapunzel story as a child. It was one of my least favorite tales, some girl up in a castle all her life and then BAM prince to take her away. I didn’t even like Tangled when it came out! But I definitely gained a fondness for the story after reading this retelling of the book.

Zel can take care of herself, and she would leave the castle if her mistress ever gave the chance. She has tried to escape multiple times, but she just can’t break free of her true name being used. The man who comes into her castle can help her create a plan to escape, but she still has to be the one to do it herself. She has to be able to build up the strength to fight back. She has to think of herself as worthy of being saved before she can save herself. Eventually, the man isn’t even helping her to escape much, but instead he is more like the princess in the castle, waiting for Zel to return from another one of her expeditions.

This book also explains a lot of the things that made Zel act the way she did in Fated. I never really understood why Zel was so scared of being caught at the bakery, but once you see her body count in Hidden, you know the danger. There are entire clans after Zel who would want to do to her family what she did to theirs, they do not care that Zel wasn’t even in control of her body as she killed people.

This book moved smoothly, and I was excited to keep reading as I was in the thick of it. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen to Zel next, and I finished both books 2 and 3 in the same day while commuting to work! This Destined series will draw you in and will not let you go until you hear the stories of all these girls.

I would recommend this series to anyone looking for a new fairytale retelling series.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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Fated: Cinderella’s Story Review (Destined #1)

Fated: Cinderella's Story (Destined, #1)

Ella is the only non-mage in her household. Her stepmother Zel has to stay hidden because she is a powerful mage. She was under the control of someone who held her True Name and was forced to kill many with her powers in the past, so she has many enemies. Now that Zel has two twin daughters who are also mages, she has to make sure that she and her girls stay hidden. If Zel is arrested, the family will be torn apart. So Ella does all in her power to keep the bakery running to support her family. She is also studying at the Royal Academy to try to get a better job to move her family out of the small apartment at the bakery. A mage named Weslan shows up at the bakery looking for protection, and his staying at the bakery threatens Ella’s family’s safety. When a bomb goes off during her final exam and she is hurt, her chance for graduation goes out the window. Ella has to pick up the pieces of her life and find a new way to protect her family.

I have run this blog for 3 years now, and I have read countless fairytales and fairytale retellings throughout my entire life. Something just always draws me to these stories of love and fantasy. I can say, hands down, that this is the best fairy tale retelling series I have ever read. At first I was thinking it would be second only to Court of Thorns and Roses, but the other books in this series continued the fairy tale retelling theme, and it quickly bumped its way up to first place for that category.

Ella isn’t your typical Cinderalla. Zel isn’t cruel to her. She isn’t forced to work for her stepsisters. She does all the work that she does simply because she loves her family and would do anything for them. She wants to get a job by graduating from the Royal Academy so that they can live more comfortably. She would work every day that she lived if it meant that they were safe, and she wouldn’t let anyone get in between her and her family. This is what made her so admirable to me. Family came first, in everything, and she was willing to work hard to keep them safe, even if it stressed her out.

I would also say that this fairy tale retelling deviates some from the original story, which I enjoyed a lot. There is an entire story about Mages versus those with no powers. Those who hold the True names of mages can force them to do their bidding, which means that the Mage population is greatly oppressed in this world. This story is woven delicately in and out of the original Cinderella tale, to make a unique and powerful one of its own. This is what made it my favorite fairytale retelling of all time, and that’s how this book dragged me out of my reading slump.

This story flows perfectly from scene to scene. I don’t believe that the POV ever shifted from Ella, but if it did, it wasn’t confusing in any way and fit right into the rest of the story. There were no dead points in the story or characters that I found to be irritating, so everything made for a very pleasant read.

I won’t spoil anything else as this book was a quick read for me and I don’t want to give any major plot points away. I would recommend this series to anyone who loves fantasy novels or who wants to read a fairytale retelling. This entire series is free through Kindle Unlimited, and book 6 is coming out this year, so I am extra excited to see what Kaylin Lee has in store!

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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Lady Charlotte’s Dilemma Review

Lady Charlotte's Dilemma

Lady Charlotte accidentally gets turned into a vampire by Bess, a former prostitute who was turned into a vampire several quite some years before. The story alternates between the points of view and Charlotte and Bess. Bess had a very interesting life as she used to be on the streets of the city during the Elizabethen era before she was turned into an immortal vampire. Charlotte was a rule-following lady who just wanted to be happy and live a good life in society before she was turned into a vampire. Now, she wants to eat, but how will she find someone to drink from as a vampire without throwing away the values she has held dear for so many years.

I was truly looking forward to this historical fantasy/fiction mixture of a wonderful vampire tale. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy it half as much as I thought I would.

I didn’t feel as if I could connect with the characters. I felt as if Bess was shallow. Although she had several seemingly deep conversations with the man who had turned her, I felt like I didn’t get to know her as a character. We jump right from her being a older teenaged girl on the streets to being an old vampire who accidentally turned Charlotte. The way the points of view kept switching back and forth, I feel like I wasn’t able to learn enough about either character.

Charlotte was a good girl, but she seemed boring. Every single time I thought she was going to drink from a human and step away from society’s expectations of who she was supposed to be, she backed off and tried to go a different route.

The pacing of the story was also a bit off. I was moving through the story for the first 100 or so pages, but by the time I got to the middle, I felt like the story slowed down to a crawl. I struggled to finish the book, and this could have fueled why I didn’t feel connected to the characters.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone looking for a historical fiction novel or a fantasy vampire novel.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 1 out of 5 books

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The Deep ARC Review

The Deep

The Deep is a fantasy novel about the descendants of African slave women thrown overboard into the sea by slave owners. Pregnant women were thrown overboard for being “sick and disruptive cargo,” but what would have happened if their babies adapted to the new environment and survived anyways? The zoti are the answer to this “what if.” They are born from the bodies of women thrown overboard, but rather than having legs they have tails and can breathe underwater. They do not remember where they came from, as it is too painful for them to remember. Only Yetu is cursed with being the Historian. She is overcome by the pain of the History, of all the horrific memories of the first zoti and of the women thrown overboard. She barely remembers who she is, and she cannot rid herself of the History lest the rest of her people suffer as she does with the memories. But one day, she can’t take it anymore, and flees to the surface. She leaves the rest of her people in the process of the Remembering, the yearly pain of the memories coming to the surface again, and she flees to discover herself outside of the painful memories of the ancestors.

I came into this novel expecting a hard-hitting dark fantasy book that mixed history with the secrets of the ocean in a beautiful way. WHat I read was a confusing story that jumped around in time, where I was never sure of who was speaking. Sometimes the POV only referred to the main character as “We”, sometimes the POV was clearly from Yetu, and sometimes I could never tell who was speaking at all. I kept reading hoping that things would clear themselves up by the end of the story, but they didn’t. The book was so short that I never truly felt any connection to Yetu or her people, and I couldn’t figure out how the side characters were even important to the story at all.

One thing that confused me the most in this story was Yetu’s multiple (?) love interests? I could not tell whose POV the story was supposed to be being told from at the time, but Yetu was with a male side character, and then she was talking to and seemed to be romantically interested in a female character Oori. I am not completely sure if it was even Yetu with the male character, as that occurred during a POV switch where the only pronoun being used was “we.” But it made the story confusing to read as it seemed like Yetu was with both this male character and the female character at the same time, just going back and forth between the two. This is simply one example of something that didn’t add up within the story.

I also couldn’t understand why the other zoti didn’t understand why Yetu was in such pain being the Historian. She was cursed with the Rememberings constantly, and she had to lead them through their own Rememberings as well, so why didn’t they understand her pain. They were clearly in pain during the Rememberings, so why was it so difficult for them to understand that this was how she felt all the time?

The only part that I did like about this book was the dark fantasy aspect. I was horrified by the description of the zoti helping the newborn zoti out of the bodies of their dead mothers, but I loved how it was described and how the instant connection was made from this horrific real world to the underwater fantasy one. I also did enjoy reading some of the flashbacks of history, even though I felt like they could have been expanded on.

If this book had been longer and focused on Yetu’s story alone, I believe I would have really enjoyed it. If the book had been this length and been a collection of short stories from the Rememberings without trying to connect the main plot of Yetu, I believe I would have enjoyed that as well. But as this story was written, it feels more like a hodge-podge of information than a coherent tale, and I could not recommend it.

I received an advance copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 books.

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Freya Snow #13: Pandora Review

Pandora (Freya Snow Book 13)

Freya knew she was going to be the Queen of the Underworld because her father was the king, but she knew she had time until her father would die and she would have to take that position. When her father gets sick and reveals that he is dying, Freya is distraught. Not only does she have to deal with her father being gone, she has to deal with maintaining order in the Underworld as she transitions from Princess to Queen. On top of all that, Freya’s mother is back in her life and Pandora’s Box has to be closed, and Alex is back in her life after several years of being with the Enhanced.

This book truly shows how Freya has grown throughout the series. At first she was a teenaged foster child, unsure of herself but eventually sure that she had a crush on her friend Damon. Then, she was in her late teens and gaining her powers as an Angel, and falling for an Enhanced human named Alex. Now she is in her 20s, happily married to Damon, and preparing to name her fiancée Alex as her heartbond. She thought that everything was going well with her life, but now her father dies and her mother is back as a ghost. When she was a teenager, she hated her mother for leaving her on Earth as a baby and not helping bring her back to her father, the King. Now, she is a Queen, older than her mother who is frozen as a 19 y/o ghost, and she has lost both of her parents. I am unsure of how close we are to the end of the Freya Snow series, but this book seems like a perfect setup for the end. Freya is finally reaching the peak of her powers, and she even has all of her true loves by her side. It is truly a beautiful thing to read.

I also enjoyed how Alex was woven into the story. Damon and Freya are both autistic, but Alex is not. There are some things that Alex picks up on that Damon and Freya would not. There are some connections that Damon and Freya have that Alex is not a part of, whether it be magical or just emotional. But she still manages to fit into their dynamic. I’m unsure if Damon and Alex are ever going to have a romantic relationship or if they will always just be connected through Freya, but I am happy either way. The only thing I was confused about was how Jan would weave into this story. She is technically still with Alex, but Alex is living with Freya in the Demon World. I hope this is cleared up in the next few Freya Snow or Engineered Rebel books!

I finished this book quickly as I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next with some of my favorite characters. This book didn’t end off on the best note though, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Freya and her friends/family/lovers in the next installment of this series. Everything is at the point where all the side series are crossing over with the main Freya Snow novels, and it is really unique to be able to see what the side characters are also doing while Freya is going through this time in her life. I would definitely suggest to check out the Engineered Rebel and Royal Cleaners series if you are enjoying this series!

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an adult LGBT+ romance novel.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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