January 2020 Wrap Up [Books]

January 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

This wasn’t something I did month by month last year, mainly because I was only reading a few books a month. But I managed to start the year by reading nine books in one month, so I thought a wrap up would be a good idea! And I know this is fairly late, but hopefully I can get ones up earlier throughout the year.

Sangre: The Wrong Side of Tomorrow – Carlos Colon

received_2714049208646313I read this as part of a blog tour, hence why the review isn’t yet up. But it is a book I definitely enjoyed, with interesting takes on the vampire mythos. The story is told in two strands – the MC’s past, entwined with his present, as he tries to avoid the attention of the authorities after a few too many murders. It’s a good book, and I can’t wait for you to see the blog tour in May!

Yuri – Steve Stred

yuriMy Review

Yuri is a short, tightly packed read. It was really enjoyable, had me absolutely gripped, and is definitely worth checking out. Stred creates a really interesting world here, and I’m really looking forward to checking out more by this author.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance – Tomi Adeyemi

COV&V_JKT_Trade_032819.indd

My Review

I was really looking forward to this, after having thoroughly enjoyed Children of Blood and Bone. I maybe didn’t enjoy this installment as much as the first, but I still liked it and am now eagerly awaiting the third book in the series.

Slay My Love – Lee Colgin

slay my love

My Review

This book reminded me of my love for paranormal romance, and for vampires. And the vampires presented here are fairly different from those in Sangre, so it was great to get the different genres and different views of them. I’ve always loved vampires, and I absolutely devoured Slay My Love.

Devil’s Creek – Todd Keisling

devil's creek

Review Coming Soon on Dead Head Reviews

This is a fantastic release from publisher Silver Shamrock, and if you’re not paying attention to them yet you really should be. They are seriously putting out some amazing horror into the world, and I’m always thrilled to get one of their releases. Devil’s Creek was no exception, an intriguing, gripping story based around a cult and the children of cult leader Jacob Masters. Keep an eye out for this one.

Will Haunt You – Brian Kirk

will haunt you

Review Coming Soon on Dead Head Reviews

I was kind of in two minds about this, but in the end it was an enjoyable book to read, and fairly twisted. If you like books that are a little off the rails, definitely worth checking this one out. And keep an eye out on Dead Head for my review, too!

The Roo – Alan Baxter

the roo

Review Coming Soon on Dead Head Reviews

Tell me what’s not to love about a demented kangaroo terrorising an Australian outback town? Baxter did an absolutely fantastic job with this, and just look at that cover! It’s a really engrossing novella, hard to put down, and if you like any sort of creature features, I cannot recommend this one enough.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken – Brigid Kemmerer

a heart so

My Review

This was another book I was really looking forward to, having absolutely loved A Curse So Dark and LonelyAgain however, it didn’t quite live up to the first book in the series. Grey and his new love interest just weren’t as gripping as Harper and Rhen, and I think I preferred the more limited view of Grey we got in the first book. But Kemmerer’s writing is absolutely fantastic all the same, and I’ll still be reading the third book when it comes out.

Magic Unleashed – Devri Walls

venators

This is another blog tour book, so keep an eye out for the blog tour with some amazing bloggers coming in March. This book was really enjoyable, combining so many different elements I thoroughly love. I’m really excited for the review to come out, and hopefully a few more people will pick this up on the back of the blog tour!

So there we have it, the wrap up for January 2020. Any books you read in the first month of this year you really enjoyed? Any of these you’ve picked up and liked? And yeah, hopefully I can get the February wrap up out much quicker!

A Heart So Fierce and Broken – Brigid Kemmerer [Book Review]

a heart soThe curse is broken. Harper has remained in Emberfall with her brother Jake and his boyfriend, Noah, and with Rhen. With no sign of Grey, rumours of another heir threatening to break the kingdom apart, added to the fact people believe the alliance with ‘Disi’ is a scam, something must be done.

Grey has killed the enchantress Lilith and returned to Emberfall, but with a secret he is unable to share with Rhen, he goes into hiding, taking on the name ‘Hawk’ and working at a tournament ground, staying as hidden as he possibly can.

Look, I’m going to be honest. I was completely and utterly revved up for this book. I don’t often pre-order books, but I did for this one, cause damn was I keen on returning to Emberfall.

Unfortunately, this is one of those sequels that makes you wish the original was a standalone.

I gave this 4*s on Goodreads because Kemmerer’s writing is, in all fairness, fantastic – it’s vivid and beautiful. And the last third of the book had me hooked, but before that…

Well it took a while to get into this one.

The book starts with Harper, then shifts into two POVs which take over for the novel – Grey and Lia Mara, the eldest daughter of Karis Luran but not the heir, that honour going to her sister, instead. And that’s where I felt like the book let me down first. Karis Luran enters Emberfall with her daughters, keen to marry off her heir to Rhen and forge an alliance with Emberfall.

For a lot of the book, I found Lia Mara to be overly whiny and woe-is-me. She’s not helpless, at all, but every other sentence was about how her sister is stronger and how her sister is going to be queen and how she doesn’t match up to her sister and mother. I think a lot of her, especially in earlier chapters, felt forced, too. Like there were moments that felt less relevant to the plot, and there only so we could have some slight reason to like her.

She had some strong moments, but these were overshadowed by the really annoying ones. And then there is Grey. Although I didn’t fully buy into the idea of a love triangle in A Curse So Dark and Lonely, it was evident here, and felt like there was going to be a bit of a build up between Harper and Grey. But nope, we’re quickly whisked away from Harper almost as soon as we get a tiny glimpse of her.

The romance between Grey and Lia Mara, again, felt a little forced. Grey remains one of my favourite characters, but so much of this book was him – and yep, again – whining. Following motions and never really doing much of anything until he was backed into a corner. I liked the way he did react to certain situations, as it’s clear he’s still very much a guardsman, and once more, a lot of the issues I found in the first half disappeared in the second.

Regarding Rhen and Harper now. In A Curse, I absolutely loved the three characters who formed the focus on the book. Harper was a strong, powerful woman who did not put up with anything untoward from either Grey or Rhen. Rhen was troubled and tortured and desperate to do anything to save his kingdom, and throughout the novel it really felt like he grew as a character.

We get none of that growth in this book, none of Harper’s fierceness. Every time we see her, she’s running to greet one of the men in her life or blushing under Grey’s praise. She basically lets Rhen torture people, she sits back while his kingdom is falling to pieces around him because he’s too stubborn to do really consider any option except kill. There are moments near the start of the book where Grey could have actually spoken to Rhen, but they all decide that nope, dying is the best option so let’s just get this over with!

Okay! Things I liked, because I did like a few things. I liked the relationship between Lia Mara and her sister. I liked the additional characters we meet in this novel, and the way the discord among the populace is shown. We also get to see more magic here, used in much better ways, and it works well.

This book isn’t as good as A Curse So Dark and Lonely, which felt more natural in terms of plot progression, character development and the choices made by the characters. Instead, we have two intelligent characters who go around in circles seeming to make life more difficult for themselves, making it feel like everything they do is in service to the plot rather than the world around them. The writing remains beautiful, and Kemmerer clearly has a way with words, but unfortunately the two main characters we follow in this book have less of an impact than both Harper and Rhen, two characters thrust aside for the sequel, whose presence could have made this book that much stronger.