Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry (Book Review)

Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

Jesse and Scarlett have been through a lot. Jesse’s warm, loving gran, who raised him after his flighty mother was murdered, lost her fight with cancer and is now residing inside an urn that lives atop the heater in his dilapidated trailer. In the huge mansion across the way from Jesse’s farmland, Scarlett’s forbidding dad is controlling and physically abusive, but her timid mum is insistent that this is all perfectly normal. Once, Jesse and Scarlet were the best of friends. Of course, they haven’t spoken in 3 years… Not since Jesse froze her out at the start of high school and began spreading rumours about her. 

Don’t worry about not liking or relating to these characters, you’ll like them just fine; I’m so glad this was written with a dual POV. You’d think Jesse would be at least a little unlikable, considering he did ignore Scarlett for 3 years, but he’s actually swoon worthy… You might also think you’d get frustrated that Scarlett doesn’t speaking out immediately about her abusive dad, especially with a vulnerable younger sister to consider, but that wasn’t my reaction at all. All I felt was empathy. The fact is, Katie McGarry might write baggage like nobody’s business, but her characters are so well drawn that you can’t help loving them despite their weaknesses – they might make silly choices, but you always end up thinking, “I probably would have done that too…” 

Finally, I loved the southern-gothic vibes of this story – from the magical realism in the cursed land, to the quiet horrors of abusive families, and the psychic, distantly-related cousin who lives amid endless woods and predicts fates. This setting, combined with a wickedly twisty plot and slow burn romance, make this a great YA contemporary that has a heavy dose of suspense. I found this a difficult read to put down and spent my entire Saturday reading it… I’m sort of hoping that Leo and Veronica get their own spin off story. (Hint, hint! Miss McGarry…)

Edition read: Hardback (January 2019)

Age recommendation: 14+

Triggers: physical and emotional abuse

Rating: 5 yummy cupcakes!!!!!

Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

The Wicked King by Holly Black.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

My brain is on fire… It’s whirling backwards and forwards, trying to decide and imagine what could possibly happen in the third book, or rather, what I would like to happen! I cannot believe I have to wait another year for The Queen of Nothing to be published. Sometimes life is incredibly unfair.

Holly Black is my go-to fairy queen. I love the way she peppers her worlds with just enough details to make you gasp and squirm. Rotting dresses and bloody, undercooked meats… She can sure plan a fairy celebration! Her books are certainly not for the faint of heart. Jude has more guts in her pinky, than most teenagers, which is I guess, why I like her so much.

I seriously thought that Jude and Carden had played with my poor, foolish romantic heart enough, but I was proved wrong… Holly Black, you are a cold, cold, woman! How could you toy with me this way, again? Erg, these two are perfect for one another. I just need them to realise that! Pronto! Okay… enough whining.

My advice? If you haven’t already started this series (by reading The Cruel Prince) steer well clear until ALL of the books have been published! It’s just that good… Then binge read them all in the space of a week. Deal? Also, remember to buy them in hardback – they will get some serious wear, when you lend them to all of your friends!

Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, is cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, until a girl falls in love with him. But at the end of each autumn, he turns into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. And now, powerful forces are now amassing against Prince Rhen and Emberfall.

Born with cerebral palsy, nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. Her father’s gone, her mother’s dying, and her brother constantly underestimates her. When she tries to save someone on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead sucked into Rhen’s cursed world…

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know what to think, but she certainly doesn’t believe in fairytale endings…

This book was a mash up of ‘mediaeval’ fantasy and fairytale, a combination that I found hard to resist. This book had everything: suspense, warring countries, fight scenes, political intrigue, myths, humour and a sprinkling of romance.

The romance aspect was light, but compelling and a love triangle, was hinted at. (I’m a romance fan, so now I’m definitely planning to read the sequel – A Heart So Fierce and Broken – which due out in January 2020.)

I was afraid that this story would be a tragic one, because of Harper’s cerebral palsy – The Fault in Our Stars set in a fantasy world. I could not have been more wrong. Harper is an independent, stubborn, capable heroine, who always tries to do the best she can for others – even placing their safety above her own. She’s never whines and I admired her feisty, can-do attitude. Rhen’s character freely admits to having been selfish and arrogant in the past, but proves himself to be a somewhat-reformed prince!

On the strength of the writing in this book, I have gone ahead and ordered Brigid Kemmerer’s earlier novel, Letters to the Lost, which also sounds compelling!