Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, S

Review: Shatter Me (Tahereh Mafi)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

I seriously don’t know why it took me so long to dig my claws into this book, but I definitely know that I don’t regret doing it! 😉

“Shatter Me” was an awesome read and I enjoyed it immensely! There were so many things I loved about this book and whilst it is true that many people complained about the writing style, I have to admit that I actually loved it.

“Hope is hugging me, holding me in its arms, wiping away my tears and telling me that today and tomorrow and two days from now I will be just fine and I’m so delirious I actually dare to believe it.”

I think it was something new and extraordinary and I loved the way Juliette described her world. The repetitions, her thoughts, the things she thought and even the truths she vehemently refused to admit. It all gave me a very good picture of her character and her mind, the many things she must have gone through shaping her into a person that distrusts everyone and desperately tries not to feel anything. XD Of course she’s failing but this actually only made her even more likeable. *lol*

See where I’m getting at? Tahereh Mafi knows exactly what she’s doing and she really managed to drag me into her world. Yes, I confess! I’m officially hooked now and I’m soo going to read all of the other books! ;-P
So be prepared to read many reviews! *LOL*

Okay, enough of the threats and right back to the characters! Oh, the characters! There’s so much to tell! XD

FAIR WARNING: Mild spoilers lying ahead of you! 😉

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Juliette:

At the beginning of the book you don’t even know her name. Everything you know is that she’s been imprisoned for ages and that she’s more than just a little insecure. Considering her ability this is no surprise though, the fact she can hurt and even kill people with just the touch of her fingertips making it kind of hard to be all too sociable. Juliette may not talk a lot but she sees everything and she’s more than just observant. She obviously also seems to have a knack for poetry and I really enjoyed the way she used her words.

“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.”

Adam:

That boy is hot as hell and Juliette’s new cell mate! Could a girl ask for more? Dark hair, blue eyes, awesome and muscular body! *drools* Okay, okay! I’m back on track! *lol* Yeah, as you can see Adam is just awesome boyfriend material and it’s no wonder that they kind of hit it off! He’s caring and gentle and he always tries to understand Juliette’s thoughts. I liked him from the beginning and I’m really curious to find out how things are going to proceed in the next books. =)

Sidenote: Is it just me or does he never tell Juliette that he loves her? O_o I thought this was kind of odd. Juliette told him she loved him but as far as I could read he never returned it…. Did I miss anything? xD

God, Juliette, I’d follow you anywhere. You’re the only good thing left in this world.”

Warner:

Oh my god! Warner! Gosh! Warner! Argh! Warner! *babbling mess* That boy, that boy gave me all the feels! Good and bad! Happy and angry! Disgusted and longing for more! *lol* I wanted him to touch Juliette and I wanted her to touch him! I just couldn’t decide if I wanted it because I wanted him to hurt or because I wanted them to make out! *LOL* What is it with me and the villains? Why do I love them so much!? XD First Maven and now Warner, I think I’m going to die! >_< Oh, well I think I’m supposed to say something about his character as well so here I go: He’s ruthless when he is with his soldiers but he is gentle whenever he is with Juliette. He seems to care about her a LOT and he even admitted that he loved her! But why does he hurt her so much? Warner is a big question mark and some sort of mystery I’m determined to solve. So yesh, I’m so going to read “Destroy me” after I wrote this review! XD

His smile is laced with dynamite. „Go to sleep.“
„Go to hell.“
He works his jaw. Walks to the door. „I’m working on it.”

„I’m nineteen years old.“ He clarifies. „I’m a fairly impressive specimen for my age, I know.“

Kenji:

I loved Kenji! That boy is so funny and I really enjoyed his sassy demeanour. He’s constantly hitting on Juliette and his character gives the book a hilarious edge. I want more of him and actually can’t wait to meet him again! =)

His grin is crooked. „I don’t know why, but I kind of like it when you threaten me.“
„That’s because you’re an idiot.“
„Nah.“ He shakes his head. „You’ve got a sexy voice makes everything sound naughty.“

So, if you haven’t already figured it out:
YES I liked “Shatter me” and I can easily recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a nice and short-lived page turner! =)

Enjoy! ;-P

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: And I Darken (Kiersten White)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten
 
Book 17 on My Book List 2020
 

She sat beside his bed for a long while. Finally, she put a hand on his shoulder and whispered, “You are mine.”

If you’re looking for a fast paced book with lots of action and historical accuracy you better turn around and leave this review, because I can guarantee that you won’t get either of those two things if you start to read “And I Darken”. If you’re looking for a slow paced and very character driven story that has quite a unique setting and lives and breathes intrigues and machinations… Well, you’re welcome to stay! 😉

I really enjoyed this story because it was something different and even though there were some things you could argue about – for instance Lada’s full name being Ladislav which is definitely a male name that could have easily been changed into a female one – Kiersten White never claimed historical accuracy or well, I suppose just accuracy in that particular case. *lol* This book is placed in the genre of historical fiction after all and even though it borrows a few names and facts every now and then the story and the characters in it are clearly fictional. Just to put it out there as information for the people that might take offence when they read this. XD

And speaking of historical facts: Yes, Vlad II had two sons named Vlad (equivalent of Lada) and Radu who served as bargaining chips and were captives of Sultan Murad II. Funnily enough Mircea was actually Vlad’s elder brother and Radu (who was indeed called “Radu the handsome” or “Radu the fair”) was his half-brother. According to historical facts Vlad and his half-brother weren’t able to stand each other. Also Mehmed II (named Mohammed before he became the sultan) was actually Murad’s and Huma’s son. So there you go with the historical facts. History geek that I am, I probably could go into even more detail, but I’ll just leave it at that and talk about the fictional book instead. ;-P The history lesson is officially over now! You can breathe again. *lol*

2

So this is the moment when I welcome you to Edirne where machinations and plots are brewing as thickly as a Mercimek Çorbası. If you don’t want to be spoiled you better leave now! If not: Be my guest and eat soup with me. 😉

Lada:

”Lada had a sense for power – the fine threads that connected everyone around her, the way those threads could be pulled, tightened, wrapped around someone until they cut off the blood supply. Or snapped entirely.”

This girl is fierce, relentless, unapologetic and tenacious. And she’s driven! Driven by her love for Wallachia, her brother and yes, even Mehmed. I think I rarely met a bookish character that was so self-assured and knew exactly what it wanted. Lada wants to go back to her homeland and her deep love for Wallachia trumps everything else. I think she’s kind of similar to Aelin when it comes to this, only that Aelin’s Terrasen is more like a vague idea of something that used to be and Lada’s Wallachia is everything that’s out of her reach. She’s longing for her country and her people and she’s ready to do whatever is needed in order to get back there. But she’s also conflicted. So very conflicted. She refuses to give up on her religion, she doesn’t want to adapt to Ottoman customs and she fights against her tutor, yet there is one thing or rather one person she can’t seem to be able to refuse and his name is Mehmed. Throughout the entire book it felt like she was torn inside and I suppose she was. Between what she wanted and what she needed or craved for. I’m not sure the ending solved that problem but she made a choice and she’ll have to live with it. For better or for worse. >_<

”She had to be the smartest, constantly surprising and delighting him. She was terrified that the day she stopped amusing him would be the day he remembered he had no use for a daughter.”

”She kept a pleasant smile on her own, kept her hands loosely folded in her lap, kept control. Control was power. No one would make her lose it. And eventually the tutor would realize that she would let him hit Radu over, and over, and over.
And only then would Radu be safe.“

”On our wedding night,” she said, “I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your own blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied.”

”Why was she still here? What had become of the girl who was the daughter of a dragon? Was this it, then? Had she reached the pinnacle of her potential? A command of fifty men in service of a man she loved, who ruled an empire she loathed?”

Radu:

”Radu had gotten all the beauty their father had wished on his daughter. His eyes were framed by thick lashes, his lips full, his gentle curls kissed with a hint of Saxon gold.”

To say Radu is a precious cinnamon roll would be kind of insulting because even though he is, the Slytherin in him is still strong! *lol* I really loved that about his character because it made him so much more intriguing. There is this beautiful and sweet boy that knows exactly how to use his good looks and charisma to his advantage and he never even hesitates to do just that. As long as it helps him to protect Lada and Mehmed he won’t have any qualms about his actions. If I’d have to describe Radu in a brief sentence I’d say that he is: Beauty with a sting. XD But despite all his good cheer and easy nature he’s also a very lonely and insecure character which is easy to see whenever he’s around Mehmed. At first he doesn’t even realize that what he feels for Mehmed is love and once he figures it out he’s trying to suppress it. Because of his good looks and friendly nature he was always teased and I think the fact that he harboured feelings for his best friend only made it even harder to come to terms with himself. His father basically thought he was soft and worthless so it’s no wonder he’s super insecure about his feelings. Especially at a time like that and in a country where the Sultan has an entire harem of women. It’s no wonder poor Radu is lost and I’m kind of afraid of what will happen to him in book two. =S

”And then, seeing the relief shining in Mehmed’s black eyes, Radu knew what he hoped for: He hoped for the best for his friend. Regardless of what that meant for himself.“

”What had Lazar seen? What did he suspect? Could he tell simply by watching Radu that something was very wrong with him, when even Radu did not understand what it was? All he knew was that there was some light, some pull, some fire that Mehmed carried, and Radu only felt truly alive when he was nearby.”

”You have both been so busy learning tactics and studying battles, you have failed to see the truth of where thrones are won and lost. It is in the gossip, the words and letters passed in dark corners, the shadow alliances and the secret payments. You think I am worthless? I can do things you could never dream of.”

”I know it would help you, to have someone you could trust on that throne. And I want to serve you, to do whatever I can to help you gain Constantinople and be the sultan your empire has waited for. I will do whatever I can. But please, I beg you, do not ask this of me.”

Mehmed:

”The more I pushed, the more they looked the other way. My father never saw me, my mother could not be bothered to take so much as a meal with me. No one cared who I was or what I became.”

Dare I say it? Yes, yes I do. Don’t kill me but I think in comparison to the complexity of Lada and Radu’s characters, Mehmed was actually pretty… bland? *lol* Ahh it feels good to get that off my chest. XD I really don’t know why both of them fell for him because aside of his occasional kindness there is actually not a lot that speaks for him. He’s as spoiled as you’d expect the son of a sultan to be and even though there was an obvious effort to show that he was never loved by his father he still had it so much better than anyone else. Mehmed might not have been happy about his role but he still played it and used his harem to father children. I guess in some way he was as torn about this as Lada and Radu were about their allegiances, but this certainly didn’t stop him from seeking out his harem and for using his power as he saw fit. So yes, underneath it all he’s still spoiled and carries some sort of entitled arrogance with him. Which ultimately didn’t make him all too likeable in my opinion. I DID appreciate his efforts to protect his infant brother though and I was as heartbroken as he was when Huma arranged for him to be killed. T_T

”I want you to think of an amount you feel is fair but generous. It is important to me that your soldiers – and you – know that no one values you or can take care of you as much as I can.” Mehmed’s smile dropped off, his eyes becoming as shard as his tone. “No one can offer you what I can, and if anyone tried, it would be treason.”

”He knew then that his posterity, his wandering, homeless people, would rule the world. Is how far we have come not a testament to the truth of his vision? I have inherited that, Lada. It is a calling and a dream I cannot deny. The tree is mine to spread, and I must.”

3

Radu & Lada:

Radu nodded, snuggling into her shoulder. “Will you protect me?”
“Until the day I kill you.” She jabbed a finger into his side, where he was most ticklish, and he squealed with pained laughter.

In some way this is such a typical sibling relationship and then again it isn’t. I think everyone who has a brother or a sister can relate to the rivalry between those two and sometimes even to the animosity they feel at the beginning of the book. Lada realizing that she loves and cares about her brother deeply is something very typical for siblings. When you’re little they are always there and steal the attention from you, so you try to get some of your parents attention too, but the older you get the more you realize that the person you took for granted is very dear to you and that you wouldn’t want to miss them for the world. So regarding their early years this felt very relatable. Their relationship as they grow older is something entirely different though. Where normal siblings would have gotten along by then, Lada and Radu are still struggling. It’s obvious they love each other but at the same time they also kind of hate what they’ve become. Lada can’t forgive Radu for embracing their new home and Islam and Radu doesn’t understand why Lada is holding on to their old ways. This by itself is a pretty interesting dynamic and if you add Mehmed into the mix it gets even more complicated. At first it was their father that sowed the seed of discord and later on it’s Mehmed. Lada knows about Radu’s feelings yet she also knows that Mehmed has only eyes for her, and Radu is painfully aware that Mehmed only wants his sister and not him. Despite all that their bond is strong and when push comes to shove it’s Lada, Radu rescues. XD I really wish those two siblings would have talked more and that Lada would have explained why she let their teacher hurt Radu. *sighs* What being apart will do to their already strained relationship I dunno, but you bet I’m ready to find out. 😉

”But they were both silent in the shared secret of their escape, the truth that Mehmed could never know. Their secret was deeper and darker than the pool in the woods. Lada took her brother’s hand and squeezed it, a grip as painful as their new bond. They had betrayed Mehmed.”

”You – It does not seem like you. I never thought you could do something like this.”
Radu stiffened. “You may have been the one who stopped the dagger last time, but I am the one who will know before the dagger ever comes close to Mehmed.”

”You saved me,” she said.
“Of course I did.”
She shook her head. “Not when I was falling. When Ilyas had us both on the floor. You chose me over Mehmed.”
“You are my family,” he whispered. Lazar had been right, after all.

”She did not acknowledge it or the immense gratitude welling in his eyes. She owed him a debt. Nothing was more important to him than Mehmed’s trust. Perhaps it would have been kinder to break that trust and force a removal. Maybe then Radu could be free of the impossible love he carried. But she could not do that to him, not when it was so easy to take this blow on her own shoulders.”

Lada & Mehmed:

”Would you command me to stay? And if I refuse? Will you have me beaten? Whipped? All that and more I have faced in your father’s courts. I did not bow before your god or your sultan then, and I will not now. Why did you bring me here, Mehmed? I will not be ruled.”
Mehmed’s face fell. He lowered his hand, and the line of his back – so straight – curved. “I have never wanted to be your master. I have servants. And teachers, and guards, and a father who despises me. I want you … to be my friend.”

I think this relationship was doomed from the beginning because neither Lada nor Mehmed are able to change the way they are. Lada’s first and only true love is Wallachia and Mehmed is the sultan of the Ottoman Empire and has responsibilities he’ll never be able to escape. If Lada would have given in they might have had a chance but she’s too independent and stubborn to give up her dreams. Also I probably would have disliked her if she would have chosen Mehmed over everything she loves. If you break it down to the basics all Mehmed can give her is being one of many women to bear him children, always standing on the sidelines, designated to be nothing more than the shadow of the sultan. Lada has to go her own way and even though she had to rip out her heart in order to do so, she made the sacrifice willingly because she knew it was necessary. She’ll never be a docile wife and Mehmed should have realized this way earlier than he did. Their cultures and stances just clash too much. So I think this ship has sunk even though I doubt that we’ll have seen the last of them together. *lol* There’s still book 2 and 3 after all so I’m sure they’ll meet again eventually.

”And the harem, I – It is not real, Lada. I visit, and they flit about like phantoms, like paintings. None of them are real to me.” He paused again, placing a hand flat against the door. “You are the only real thing in my life.”

Mehmed blinked rapidly, then shook his head. “Lada, I was not talking about my son. Do you think he is the only thing here I value?”
“Then what?”
“You! I will not take you into battle! You have no idea what the conditions are like, no idea how many ways there are to die.”

”Say you are mine.” He trailed his lips down her neck. She arched into him, digging her fingers into his back.
“I am yours,” she whispered. The words cut like knives, barely out of her mouth before he stole them, sealing them with his own lips.

“Because thinking like that is the only way to keep from losing our minds.”
“What about our souls?” Mehmed whispered.
Before Lada walked out, she paused at the door. “Souls and thrones are irreconcilable.”

Radu & Mehmed:

Mehmed put a hand on his shoulder, his smile healing the hurt of Lada’s mocking. “I know what you meant. This pool is as old and as pure as that story, I think.”
“It will be ours, then.” Radu beamed.
“Our secret,” Mehmed agreed.

First of all I’ve to say: DAMN IT!!! How could Mehmed not realize that Radu didn’t come along with them?!!?? Like seriously!! He’s his best friend and he didn’t realize his absence until about an hour or so has passed?! WTH??  Poor Radu! T_T It broke my heart! As did Radu being in love with Mehmed. I was constantly wondering if Mehmed is even aware of it but considering that he didn’t even notice Radu was missing he obviously only has eyes for Lada. It’s like Radu is some sort of afterthought and I hurt for Radu because he deserves so much better than that. I still don’t know how I feel about Radu’s marriage with Nazira but I suppose in some way it will be good for them both. I mean Nazira can be with her maid Fatima and be happy and maybe she’ll be a good companion for Radu. Someone he can confide in when he feels lonely and lost. That he had to kill Lazar because he betrayed Mehmed made me very sad but I understand why he did it. >_< Still, Lazar was an old and trusted friend that only tried to protect Radu so that he died at his own hands was a cruel twist. =(( I wish I would have gotten Mehmed’s POV because I think some part of him is aware that Radu loves him and even uses it to bind him to his side… His POV certainly would have been helpful in that regard. *lol* And I don’t even know who that guard from Constantinople was that held Radu’s gaze for such a long time but I’m pretty sure he would have been way more healthy for Radu than Mehmed. XD I’m kinda disappointed nothing happened between those two. *lol* But I’m pretty sure sooner or later Radu will meet a guy that will reciprocate his feelings and hopefully he’ll be ready to take the leap. =) He deserves to be loved and I hope it will happen in book two. XD

”He wanted Mehmed to look at him the way he had looked at Lada.
He wanted Mehmed to kiss him the way he had kissed Lada.
He wanted to be Lada.
No, he did not. He wanted to be himself, and he wanted Mehmed to love him for being himself.

„Radu knelt beside Mehmed, putting a hand on his shoulder. Mehmed looked up in surprise, but whatever he was about to say died on his lips as he squinted at Radu. Without a word, he threw himself forward. He wrapped his arms around Radu’s torso and buried his face in his shoulder.”

”She is lovely and a good match. And you will still be here.” He stopped and looked up. A hint of fear mingled with the trouble behind his eyes. “You will still be here.”
“Of course.”
“I depend on you. I trust you as I trust no one else.”
Radu smiled, lifting a hand to his heart. “And I you.”

After she was gone, Radu held Mehmed as he wept, Radu’s joy at cradling Mehmed was like a kick to the stomach, overpowering and destined to linger with bruises long after it was over.
“Never leave me.” Mehmed’s grief-choked voice still rang with command.
Radu closed his eyes. “I will never leave you.” Mehmed was in his arms, but he knew Lada was the only thing in Mehmed’s heart.

4

Kiersten White took historical names and spun her own story around them and what a marvellous tale it turned out to be! If you like historical fiction and books with a slow plot and multifaceted, independent characters this one certainly will be for you. Add a little bit of love, jealousy, an LGBTQ rep and lots of intrigues and you’re all set for a while. ;-P

 
 

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Brigid Kemmerer)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 11 on My Book List 2020


”My father once said we are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win – but we must all play the cards fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.”

So after reading “A Curse so Dark and Lonely” I was actually kind of surprised to discover that a lot of my favourite bloggers only rated this book 3 or 2 stars. I get that they are tired of “The Beauty and the Beast” retellings but I don’t get the low ratings. O_o In short: Yours truly is confused! *lol* Sure, there are a lot of retellings at the market right now and yes, ACOTAR is among them, but that doesn’t mean that this wasn’t good. Quite the contrary, in its own way it had quite a unique spin. Well, at least in my humble opinion it did. 😉

For instance Harper, the love interest, has cerebral palsy, the beast is no beast right away but slowly turns into one the more time passes, and even more interesting Rhen actually has a (best) friend. XD (Though I’m pretty sure a lot of people might disagree with me, when it comes to that last part.) Also there’s an evil sorceress that apparently has nothing better to do than to torment our MCs. Who doesn’t love a wicked witch? *lol*

Joking aside this was a lot of fun to read and it definitely kept me reading. Sure, you might argue that the jump from modern DC to Emberfall was quite sudden and jarring and yes, I’m the first one to admit that Grey (the side-character) was my favourite character in this book. Still, I might have not been as attached to Harper and Rhen as I was to Grey, this doesn’t mean that the book or its characters were bad though. Sometimes you just like the side-characters more and this is certainly one of those particular cases. (Come to think of it this seems to be a recurring thing when it comes to “The Beauty and the Beast” retellings. After all I loved Lucien and Rhys way more than Tam too. XD) Anyway, if you’re looking for a fast and entertaining TBATB retelling I’m pretty sure you’ll like this one too. 😉 And now that we got that out of the way, let’s jump right to my characters section!

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Welcome to Emberfall where we always have autumn and it never gets cold. But that’s not all!  We also have a lot of amazing sights like for instance lots of spoilers, a beast, enemy troops and a super evil enchantress. Just like the spoilers you might want to avoid the enchantress though. *lol* This is a fair warning! If they get their hands on you I’m not responsible. ;-P

Harper:

”She wasn’t conscious. She wasn’t going willingly.” Her words are fierce. “And for the record, I’m not either.”

Ahh that fire! I really liked Harper right from the beginning. This is a girl that thinks on her feet and stands by her opinion! She is certainly no damsel in distress and I was happy to see such an independent character. Harper is ready to fight for her life and for what she thinks is right and she won’t back down just because of an evil enchantress and a curse. I think in some way that made her the perfect match for Rhen because she’s not broken and he actually needed a strong willed person like her. This said, I don’t know a lot about cerebral palsy but for me the rep was done really well. I liked that Harper was honest about it and that she considered herself to be lucky. Just like epilepsy, cerebral palsy seems to come with different characteristics and with a different severity for every person that’s affected by it and I could really relate to that. I’m really curious where Harper’s character will go in the next book and I can’t wait to see more of her relationship with Rhen.

”It affects everyone differently,” she says. “Some people can’t walk, or they can’t speak, or they have to use a wheelchair. I was a lot worse off when I was younger, so I had to have surgery to correct my left leg. I still have trouble with balance, and I walk with a limp, but I’m really lucky.”

”You are not angry about what Lilith has done?”
“Oh, I’m furious. But not about my face.”
“Then what?”
Her voice fills with steel. “I’m mad I missed.”

Rhen:

”I remember a time when my people feared the day I would come to lead – because I was seen as spoiled and selfish and not half the man my father was.
Now I am spoiled and selfish in another way, and no better fit to rule.”

Lord Vincent Aldrhen, Prince of Emberfall, son of Broderick, King of the Eastern Lands. Wow! That’s quite a long title, no wonder he goes by Rhen. *lol* Rhen was a very difficult character to gauge. I guess this is mostly due to him having to endure not only the curse but also the company of Lilith. At first I thought he was just reserved and cautious but the more I found out about him, the more I realized that he was thoroughly broken. He didn’t dare to hope that the curse could be broken and after so many years he was demoralized and resigned. Not even desperate, just done with the world and the curse. Well, and then Harper came along and gave him hope. I really liked that he always did what was best for his people and it’s no surprise Grey was so loyal to him. What Karis Luran told him at the end was quite a revelation though and I’m more than just ready to find out if it’s true. XD

”My lady, please – please know I meant you no harm. I meant your family no harm. I have tried everything I can think of to break this curse. I have tried to destroy myself. I would undo it if I could. I promise you.”

”This was my father’s kingdom,” he says. “This is now my kingdom. I may not be able to save myself – but I may be able to save my people.”

Grey:

Grey sights and gather up the cards. “You asked how I got her to play with me. As if there were some trick to it.” He wraps up the stack. “My lord, I did nothing. I sat down and asked.”

Ahhh my precious Grey! I haven’t been as enamoured by a side-character ever since I read ACOTAR and this says quite something! Lucien was/is so intriguing and Grey is too! XD For me he was legit the best thing about this book and I can’t wait to read “A Heart so Fierce and Broken” because I’ll finally get his POV! I loved that he was such a complex character yet at the same time he was so easy to be around. He took everything in stride and his loyalty to Rhen and Harper was amazing. ❤ This said I think that he suffered at least as much from the curse as Rhen did because he is a good person and to stand aside while Rhen was tortured by Lilith must have been pure hell for him. He’s compassionate and kind and he has some special brand of dark humour that was especially endearing. (at least for me it was. *lol*) In short: He’s an angel and an honourable soul and I really hope that he won’t suffer even more in the next book. I hate that Lilith and Karis Luran drove a wedge between him and Rhen and I really hope they’ll be able to talk things out in book two. >_<

”If His Highness allowed it, I would take her provocation by tenfold. I would fight her until I had no breath left to breathe.” His voice turns almost lethal, and in the dim light of the hallway, Grey’s eyes seem to darken. “My duty is to bleed so he does not. And now,” he says, “my duty is to bleed so you do not.”

”I speak too freely. This cursed drink has bewitched my thoughts.”

3

Harper & Rhen:

”Rhen,” she calls after me.
I pause in the doorway and face her.
“I’m not going to fall in love with you,” she says.
Her words are not a surprise. I sigh. “You won’t be the first.”

Mhmm… I know they are the two MCs that were supposed to fall in love but I didn’t really feel their relationship. If anything it was more some sort of friendship that formed between them and even though they were attracted to each other I never had the feeling that they were I dunno, head over heels? Truly, madly, deeply? *lol* But then again this was the same problem I had with ACOTAR. Only attraction just isn’t working for me and considering that they apparently fell in love by the end of the book their relationship was actually pretty chaste. I think the most outrageous thing they did was hold hands and brush lips. XD What a scandal! *lol* Sorry, my sarcasm is surfacing. ;-P I think what it comes down to, is that I missed the passion between those two. But maybe I’ll get more of it in the next book? *shrugs* One thing is for certain though, for the main MC couple their love story was pretty lukewarm and probably the only thing I didn’t like about the book. Let’s hope I’ll be persuaded and swept of my feet by them in the next instalment.

She studies me. “I never know when to trust you. Everything always sounds so calculated.”
I jerk back, stung.
“Until you said all that.”

”What will you offer to stop it? What will you offer for passage home?”
“Anything.” She draws a hitching breath. “God, Rhen. Any –“
“No!” My voice is sharp, and she jumps. I put a finger over her lips. “Never offer blindly, my lady. Not for your family. Not even for yourself. Certainly not for me.”

”I want so desperately to turn it into more, to see where this blossoming attraction will lead. But I have come close before. I have found this moment before. The only difference is that I have never wanted it so badly. I draw back, then press my lips to her forehead.
“I want to know it’s real, too,” I say.

”I’m sorry,” Harper whispers. “I’m sorry I didn’t break the curse.”
I lift a hand to brush the tears off her cheeks. Oh, Harper. I wish she had. Not because of the curse, or because of Karis Luran, or because of Emberfall.
Because I have fallen in love with her.”

Harper & Grey:

”I’m finding that Grey has a dark sense of humor hidden under the formality. It’s subversive. I like it.”

Haha! I really liked those two! And yes, in my opinion they had more chemistry than Harper and Rhen. Might have been due to Grey’s intensity though. *lol* Either way I enjoyed their friendship and it was such a natural thing. Like they were just honest with each other and appreciated each other’s company. Nothing about them was complicated and it was the easiness and their companionship that made their scenes together so nice to read. =) Also that scene at the inn! *lol* I loved that Grey just followed Harpers order and how surprised she was at what he did. Haha! One of the best scenes in the entire book. XD I’m not sure I like the insinuation of Grey being romantically interested in Harper though. For me they had nothing but a great friendship and that conversation between Grey and Rhen when they drank together didn’t sit well with me. It came out of nowhere and sure Harper is great but we all know she’s Rhen’s love interest so why insinuate a love triangle that will lead nowhere? Just for the sake of it? Nope. Not buying it. They will be friends and that’s it. ;-P

I look at Grey, remembering how he made faces at the children in the snow. “You’re good with kids,” I say. “That’s like the most … incongruous thing about you.”
“Is it?” he says, his voice dry. “Truly, my lady?”

I hold his gaze and refuse to look away. “Commander Grey. Prove how serious I am.”
Grey’s hand flicks out. The man shouts and drops to the ground. The hilt of a knife protrudes from his knee. Whoa. I have no idea what I expected him to do, but that’s even better.

Harper & Jake:

”You think I’m going to sit upstairs eating cake with Noah while you’re out risking your life?” he snaps. “Quit staring at me. I’m coming with you.”

Harper and Jake gave me all the sibling vibes! ❤ I loved their relationship and that they were so close. We might have only gotten them together near the end of the book but the few scenes they had were really wholesome and typical for siblings. The bickering, the conversations, the wish to take care of each other, their protectiveness, it was on point. Also I kind of liked that Jake had a bf and that no one was bothered by this. *lol* In fact Grey’s reaction was hilarious! The healer’s concubine. I’m still not over it. XD I can’t help but wonder what they’ll do now that they are stuck in Emberfall though. Harper was always supposed to end up with Rhen, but her brother and Noah came there by accident and I’m curious if they’ll stay in Emberfall or if Grey will return them to DC one day. Guess I’ll have to find out by continuing with the series. 😉

”No,” says Jake, speaking for the first time in a while. “Harper, you didn’t do this.”
“But I could have stopped it. I couldn’t get out of my own way –“
“No,” he snaps. “And damn it, for once would you listen to me? You didn’t curse him. You didn’t bring yourself here.” He takes a long breath. “You didn’t – you didn’t give Mom cancer. You didn’t force Dad to borrow money from the wrong people –“
“You didn’t, either,” I say to him. “But you still went to work for Lawrence.”
“I did what I had to do,” he says. “To give Mom time. To protect you.”
“Me too,” I say.

Then he smiles, a shadow of the old Jake, before life clobbered us all. “Mom would be really proud of you, Princess Harper.” He kisses me on the forehead, then heads back through the doors into the castle.

Lilith & Rhen:

„I cannot wait to see how your monster manifests this season,” she says. “Perhaps I will keep you on a chain and put you on display for my enemies.”
A sudden chill grips my spine. This is an outcome I have never considered.
“Would you like that?” she says, moving closer again. “Mine for all eternity, Prince Rhen?”

I rarely witnessed such an abusive relationship in a book and whilst Harper’s and Rhen’s relationship was super chaste the same couldn’t be said about Lilith and Rhen. That woman tortured him in every way possible, manipulated him, enslaved him, sexually and emotionally abused him, humiliated him and did everything in her power to make him submissive. >_< I felt so sorry for Rhen and it’s no wonder he gave up hope and was broken. Seriously, Lilith’s relationship with Rhen was such a harsh contrast to his relationship with Harper and the differences couldn’t have been even more pronounced. Which was most likely Brigid Kemmerer’s intention. An abusive relationship vs. a wholesome one. Still, I hated Lilith for what she did to Rhen and Grey and I really hope Grey managed to end her. Hopefully she won’t appear in the next book. Good riddance!

”Humiliation burns my eyes, my throat. When she breaks the kiss, relief nearly breaks me. I want to shove her away, but I am pinned to the wall. My breathing is rough and ragged. I cannot look at her. I can barely move. My hands are still in fists, my muscles so tense I am trembling. And hope that bloomed in my chest has now withered and died.”

Rhen & Grey:

”Are you prepared to die, Grey?” I demand. “Because that is all that exists at the end of this path. I am sure of it. This was never a curse to be broken. This is a death sentence. The true curse has been the thought that we might find escape.”

What they both endured and what they went through together… I think it’s safe to say that they aren’t just friends but actually brothers. (no pun intended, I swear. *lol*) They tried to keep it professional for so long but the longer the season proceeded the more they gave up on their formality. And I think that was good the way it was. After so many seasons it was about time they admitted that they are friends. You can’t survive things like they did without forging a bond and theirs is strong. I’m confident that whatever Karis Luran and Lilith threw their way … they’ll overcome it in the next book. They have too much history together and I believe in them. Grey might think he won’t be welcome at Emberfall but we all know that Rhen misses him sorely! So there’s that! I really hope they’ll meet in “A Heart so Fierce and Broken” and that they’ll finally be able to have the friendship they were supposed to have all along. =)

”I do speak freely, my lord.”
His loyalty should inspire me. It does not. I have done nothing to earn it. I find that I regret his oath.
“Leave me,” I say.
The door whispers shut. Grey has always been good at following orders. And for the first time, I wish he wasn’t.

”Your first order was to seal the borders. You sent word to each city to govern from within.”
I do not understand how he can speak of my failures as if they are victories. “It was all I could do.”
“You asked why I keep my oath. In that moment, I never meant it more.”
“I do not deserve your loyalty, Grey.”
“Deserved or not, you have it.“

”You are incorrigible. I have no idea how I put up with you for so long.”
I raise an eyebrow, more amused than anything else. “Is that the drink talking?”
The shadow of a wicked smile finds his lips. “You told me to speak my mind.”

4

“A Curse So Dark and Lonely” definitely lived up to its title. Some scenes were truly dark and I felt really sorry for the lonely MCs! XD In this case I’ve to admit that I loved the side-character more than the MCs though. Grey just stole them both the show and I was quite fine with that. ;-P Still, for another TBATB retelling this was as good as they come and I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book. I’ve been told there will be Grey’s POV so I’m already pumped! *lol*