A Cursed Heart by. Jenny Hickman | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: A Cursed Kiss (Myths of Airren, #2)

Author: Jenny Hickman

Format: ebook (KU)

Pages: 429

Publication Date: 5/10/22

Publisher: Midnight Tide Publishing

Categories: Fantasy, Mythology, Romance, Series

Living on an island plagued by magic and mythical monsters isn’t a fairy tale . . . it’s a nightmare.

Aveen is the perfect lady, placid and well-mannered, concealing her discontentment beneath false smiles and gentle nods. As the eldest, her duty has always been to her family legacy and her sister’s happiness. But when she finds herself forced into betrothal to a man she loathes, she swears she’ll do anything to escape. Even if it means bargaining with a wicked fae prince.

Rían is a devious half-fae with a dark secret, concealing his true nature beneath glamours and lies. When a fascinating human accidentally catches his eye, it’s clear he’ll do anything to take her for himself. Including making promises he can’t-or won’t-keep.

Confronting hidden dangers and haunting pasts, the two reluctantly come to rely on each other to survive a world where nothing is what it seems and darkness encroaches from all sides.

Will their tangled web of lies bring freedom they crave . . . or will it unravel them both?

A Cursed Heart is the second book in the Myths of Airren, a series of inter-connected standalone fantasy romances set on the magical island of Airren.

Content Warning: violence, sexual assault

Here is book two in the Myths of Airren series and it’s about Aveen and Rian. I didn’t think anyone could have more chemistry than Tadhg and Keelyn but I was wrong, because here is Aveen and Rian who have a love/hate relationship going on. Here’s what I thought:

+ Aveen took the role of Keelynn’s big sister but also her mother since their own died. She is the oldest and has the responsibility of making a good marriage. Keelynn is her whole world but all Aveen wants is a life where no one tells her what to do, especially where men are concerned. Rian is Tadhg’s brother which means he has the same arrogance and sex appeal as his brother – these boys are such rascals! When Aveen and Rian meet, it’s fireworks…not so much a love at first sight, but oh so much bickering. Their relationship made me laugh!

+ This was an interesting story because it gives a backstory – so it starts before Keelynn and Tadhg story, but also becomes parallel it for some time. So basically this is Aveen’s perspective of what was going on. I found her story fascinating because we barely met her in book one. Here we realize how much earlier she and Rian met.

+ I feel like Aveen and Rian got more time to be friends, compared to Keelynn and Tadhg. I love both romances but Aveen and Rian definitely had more ups and downs and time together. Aveen is supposed to be the more proper of the sisters, the responsible one, so maybe it makes she gets the wilder one of the brothers! She does not fall for his beauty, Aveen is pretty much over men and their demands when she meets Rian, which was fun to see Rian and her fall for one another. And Aveen and Rian had hotter scenes too!

~ I think because we got the story in full from before Keelynn’s story starts…the ending when Aveen and Rian deals with his curse feels rushed. And I wish they had more time to expand on his curse, but the story had to cover so much.

Tropes: falling in love with a monster, breaking curses, sacrifice

Spice Level: 🌶🌶🌶

Why you should read it:

  • Aveen and Rian have so much spark between them, I love how they hate one another haha…makes them falling in love much sweeter
  • Ruairi is back and I love him!
  • we get a very full story from beginning to end

Why you might not want to read it:

  • Finding out about Rian’s curse and fixing it feels rushed at the end because we had the full story of Aveen and Keelynn’s timeline in this one.

My Thoughts:

I’m going to say I love this one as equally as the first book, just in different ways. I still love Tadhg more because he’s softer than Rian, which is surprising because I like the bad bad boys. Aveen and Rian are perfect for one another – she isn’t scared off by him and he needs that. I’m looking forward to reading book three!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A Cursed Kiss by. Jenny Hickman | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: A Cursed Kiss (Myths of Airren, #1)

Author: Jenny Hickman

Format: ebook (KU)

Pages: 411

Publication Date: 11/23/21

Publisher: Midnight Tide Publishing

Categories: Fantasy, Mythology, Romance, Series

Living on an island plagued by magic and mythical monsters isn’t a fairy tale… it’s a nightmare.

After Keelynn witnesses her sister’s murder at the hands of the legendary Gancanagh, an immortal creature who seduces women and kills them with a cursed kiss, she realizes there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to get her back. With the help of a vengeful witch, she’s given everything she needs to resurrect the person she loves most.

But first, she must slay the Gancanagh.

Tadhg, a devilishly handsome half-fae who has no patience for high society—or propriety—would rather spend his time in the company of loose women and dark creatures than help a human kill one of his own.

That is until Keelynn makes him an offer he can’t refuse.

Together, they embark on a cross-country curse-breaking mission that promises life but ends in death.

Content Warning: violence, sexual assault

I was in the mood for a faerie book and chose this one from Kindle Unlimited and it really did satisfy my craving! Here’s what I thought:

+ My favorite part of this book is Keelynn and Tadhg (how do you say his name?!) and their constant bickering. He is quite the charmer though with his kohl lined eyes, and ready smile. These two clashed but in the best ways – plus their attraction to each other was undeniable. Plus their love story is sweet!

+ Keelynn is going to kill the Gancanagh so she can revive her beloved sister, and bring her back to life. But there are a few twists and turns in this story. I like that it’s a quick read and kept moving!

+ In this world, humans and monsters live among one another but clearly, there is tension between them. Keelynn has been brought up to fear the monsters but when she meets Tadhg and is immersed in his world of Pookas and faeries – she realizes she never really knew anything about monsters.

~ At times Keelynn could be frustrating. I definitely loved Tadhg more between the two of them. It really took her time for her to open her eyes to some things…like Robert!

Tropes: falling in love with a monster, breaking curses

Spice Level: 🌶🌶 (scenes do fade to black though)

Why you should read it:

  • you like stories about the Fae – there are creatures from mythology in the story and they live among humans, though they deal with racism and prejudice
  • Keelynn and Tadgh are fun, hot and sweet together
  • lots of fun twists in the story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • Keelynn isn’t the most likable – she loves her sister clearly, but sometimes she came off a bit cold – Tadgh is good for her

My Thoughts:

This one is a fun quick read and I wanted it a Fae story with a little bit of spice, tension and humor and it delivered! I think I’m in love with Tadgh. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I’m already going to read the second book which is about Keelynn’s sister and Tadgh’s brother – that should be an interesting story!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A Lair of Bones (Curse of the Cyren Queen #1) by. Helen Scheuerer | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Title: A Lair of Bones

Author: Helen Scheuerer

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 304

Publication Date: 7/13/21

Publisher: Alchemy

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Sirens

A deadly contest. A vaulting ambition. How far will one cyren go to win?

Mighty cyrens have ruled the ancient lair of Saddoriel for centuries. A cavernous fortress, a subterranean labyrinth of tunnels and levels, powered by magic and music… 

From the moment she was born, Roh, the daughter of an infamous criminal, has been despised by her own kind. Restricted to the Lower Sector and forced to work as a common bone cleaner, she has always believed she belongs above: where lies adventure… and power.

Opportunity arises in the form of the Queen’s Tournament, a treacherous set of trials that could see the victor crowned ruler of the entire lair. Up against the most cunning, dangerous cyrens in all the realms, does Roh stand a chance?

A Lair of Bones is the first gripping book in the dark fantasy quartet, Curse of the Cyren Queen.

I went into this story kind of blind. I love how dark and ominous the cover looks and I don’t usually read many books about Sirens or Cyrens as they are spelled in this series, but I was needing something different and I’m glad I borrowed this one.

Rohesia, or Roh is the daughter of a criminal so it’s only natural that she wants to know why her mother did what she did, what really happened, and to do anything to get out of the Lower Sector. She can do all these things if she joins the Queen’s Tournament and wins it all – the winner becomes Queen. But the trials are not easy and she is assigned a human to keep alive at the same time. But Roh has it in her to win, even if she has to hurt the people she loves to do it.

Roh is a morally gray character – do I like her? I like the reasons for her ambitions but I also worry what power will do to her as well. I don’t know if I quite trust her fully to do the right things, since she shows she’s willing to do some wrong things to get her way. Her ambition stems from how she was brought up, at orphan, despised, marked and kept down in the lower sector. She wants more than that…as she should. The way she goes about it is suspect though but I’m hoping for more character growth…she’s already starting to get there with Odi, her human by her side. They have an interesting relationship and I want to see what happens with them and I don’t mean that in a romantic sense – there is no romance in this book, but if there somewhere in the next book, I won’t mind at all! Usually I need romance in my fantasy novels but I like this story as is right now.

I love the characters we meet in this story from Roh’s mom, her best friends, Odi, the Queen and even Roh’s foes. It just makes the story so interesting.

The story itself is creative and I enjoyed the world building of this world of Cyrens. I love how music was incorporated with the Cyrens kidnapping human musicians. I was engaged with how Roh was going to carry out her plans and see if her ambitions would make her do whatever it takes to win or she would learn other ways to accomplish her goals.

Triggers: death

Roh is a morally gray character so you either like her or you don’t. She is ambitious, but she has a fascinating backstory, or at least her mother does and I really know what Cerys’ story is. Odi seems to be changing Roh in some ways, softening her up when it comes to human interactions at least. Will she able to mend her friendship with her best friends though? I hope so.

I liked the trials of the Queen’s tournament but I think there could have been more intensity to it. At least with the first two. I did like the twist of the second trial, but the third was the most action packed of them all. I hope the series gets more intense with the second book and the next quest Roh embarks on.

It would be nice to have some kind of romance? But that’s a ME issue haha, because I love romance.

Why you should read it:

  • fascinating world of Cyrens (Sirens), detailed world building
  • a tournament to win the throne, competition
  • interesting characters
  • morally gray character

Why you might not want to read it:

  • no romance
  • some trials lacking in intensity

My Thoughts:

This is a really great start to a series and I’m surprised I loved it even with no romance in it. Roh’s journey is not over and I hope we get to learn more about the other characters in the book. They all stand out in their own way and I love that about the stories. I especially love this dark world of the Cyrens that the author has created and I eagerly look forward to reading the sequel.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Book Review: The Lovely War

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Author: Julie Berry

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 480

Categories: War, Gods, Romance, World War I

Book Blurb:

They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.

MY REVIEW

The Lovely War, is amazingly written and I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when Aphrodite starts narrating this love story. I was afraid the narration would take me out of the story and maybe sometime near the ending, it did just a smidge – because it was wrapping up the story lines and felt a little rushed. But other than that, this book is really fantastic.

“Let them start their dreadful wars, let destruction rain down, and let plague sweep through, but I will still be here, doing my work, holding humankind together with love like this.” – Aphrodite

The Lovely War by. Julie Berry

The story is a combination of mythology, history, music history and romance. Romance is what drives the story but it also explored prejudice and racial divides of the American troops especially when the black regiment is sent to fight in World War I. I will admit this, I know so much more about World War II because there are many movies, tv series and books about it that World War I is sort of lost on me. I know it happened, I learned about it in history class twenty plus years ago, but no one continues to talk about it as much as WWII. So this book was engaging and I kept highlighting passages in the book to make sure I do some research on it later. But the author goes into more depth with historical notes after the story ends and also added a selected bibliography list. Thank you to the author, Julie Berry, for that!

Aphrodite’s purpose for telling this particular story is due to the fact she is being put on “trial” by her husband Hephaestus for infidelity. The story of Hazel and James, and Colette and Aubrey is her evidence of some of her greatest work as the goddess of love. Their beginning is sweet and appropriate as it was in that era but I was afraid of a sad ending for all them. I love Colette, she is so strong. I adore how she and Aubrey come together through their trials in life and love of music.

Aubrey’s story portrayed the prejudices he and his regiment experiences being an American soldier, well not quite soldier, he’s a musician. Aubrey, being from progressive New York City has much more opportunities there but as he points out, it was still segregated. Racism was everywhere in America and it shows us how far we’ve come and how much more we have to go. Another interesting aspect of his story is the introduction of rag-time and jazz music in Europe! I learned so many things in this book.

When James goes to war, I know it’s inevitable but it still broke my heart. I thought the war scenes were intense but it really moved the story along. And it gave me a sad feeling in his happily ever after with Hazel, just knowing their children will come to experience WWII. We also get a glimpse of James suffering from PTSD and how he deals with it. And I learned a lot about the roles of women back in WWI, since they weren’t allowed to fight. Hazel and Colette worked with the YMCA and the Red Cross. Because I was raised on stories of WWII, the iconic image of women helping in the war was Rosie the Riveter. So shining a light on the women of WWI was a nice change.

Now the gods were great characters in the story as well, Hades being my favorite. We see death as something depressing and scary, but Hades’ narration was a lovely way of showing how even though our loved ones are gone, they are watching us from beyond.

“I am so often moved by souls whose first concern is not for their own lost years, but for the grief their passing will cause to those they love.” -Hades

The Lovely War by. Julie Berry

With all the love stories being told, you’d think I would have been attached to the main characters. And the gods have their own love story too. But the story that finally got me was the moment James talks to Frank Mason’s wife. That’s the moment this book almost brought me to tears. 😢 The Masons scenes were brief but so impactful. I think all the sorrow, stress, fears and anxiety culminated it in that point for James and the whole story. That moment was a big exhale, a very pivotal moment for the characters to choose to go on living.

After everything these characters go through with this war and how it brings them together, tears them apart and for some together again, there is still love. There is hope and forgiveness also. This story moved me in so many ways. It is an emotional and beautiful homage to part of our history and the people that lived through it. It also reminds us that love is always worth fighting for.

Get it here: Amazon

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Book Review: What The Woods Keep

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Author: Kataya De Becerra

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 365

Categories: Mystery, Psychology, Physics, Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Mythology

Book Blurb:

On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

MY REVIEW

This is one of those books where I borrowed it because of it’s lovely cover. The book blurb sounded interesting but I didn’t quite know what to expect.

What The Woods Keep, follows Hayden, who just turned eighteen and inherits her mother’s home in Promise, Colorado. Hayden has a quite a past: a childhood in Promise with memories of these dark woods, her mother disappearing, her dad who is a physicist but obsessed with Nibelungs. And yes I had to google Nibelungs to see if they were a real thing and they definitely are a thing, a thing of legend and lore.

This story is different and I was drawn into Hayden’s psychosis. She has dreams that haunt her, she’s a warrior on a horse. Hayden’s past also revolves on an incident of unexplained violence at her school – her counseling sessions are presented to us in the book like evidence.

When she goes to Promise with her best friend Del, more strange things start to happen. The people in town have eyes like her, one color different than the other. The woods around them are creepy and a white raven is constantly watching her. Plus there is a facility called Blue Haven Research Institute in Promise with security guards. What is going on? I kept reading to find out, so this book definitely kept me engaged.

This book is hard to categorize. It’s a mashup of sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery. I really loved how most chapters started off with some scientific tidbit on physics or psychology. And some parts were creepy too whenever it was about the woods. What is in these woods? What did Hayden’s mom do there? How did she die or disappear? Are the Nibelungs real? The story moved along quickly for me. I loved all the extra things in this book like Hayden’s case files, newspaper clippings and her mother’s hand written notes.

The only thing that didn’t grab me was the romance between Hayden and her old childhood friend Shannon. It happens a bit quick after they reunite but I guess I can surmise the feelings were always there because they grew up so close together.

Overall, this was a pleasantly surprising fun book to read! It is a really good debut from this author. I look forward to seeing what she writes in the future.

Get it here: Amazon

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