A Heart So Fierce & Broken and A Curse So Dark & Lonely Double Review

Given the love for Brigid Kemmerer’s Beauty and the Beast retelling, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and the anticipation for the sequel, A Heart So Dark and Lonely, I decided to dive into the series during the summer. I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of A Heart So Fierce and Broken at Book Expo 2019, so I was able to binge read the first two books in the Cursebreakers series ahead of the second installment’s January 7, 2020, release.

cusesoA Curse So Dark and Lonely Summary (from the publisher):

Fall in love, break the curse.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. 

 

A Curse So Dark and Lonely Thoughts

 My Rating: 4/5 Stars

A Curse So Dark and Lonely reminded me of Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses, with the major exceptions being its slightly urban fantasy twist and overall a simplified fantasy setting. It took me the first one hundred pages or so to fully get into this book. Much of this had to do with the fact that despite her princess of Disi act (such a funny take on D.C.), it took Harper a lot of time to adjust and understand the world of Emberfall.

Like many readers, I really appreciated that Harper had cerebral palsy, something that we do not see a lot in YA. Having cerebral palsy by no means affected her strong personality and charisma, but it did prevent her physically in some situations. This is an element, or at least having characters with different or similar health conditions, that would be cool across many other fantasies and YA books.  

I found myself truly invested in the book in its last two hundred pages, with Harper and Rhen’s chemistry increasing and the stakes getting higher. However, despite that Brigid Kemmerer has said that the book does not feature a love triangle, it did feel like there was a love triangle to me, or at least hints of one. Even though some readers are over the love triangle trope, it’s been a while since I’ve read it and I enjoyed at least considering the chemistry between certain characters.

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MEET THE BOOKS: 2020 Reading Goals

My main reading goal of 2020 is no different from any bookish fangirl’s: read ALL the amazing books as possible!

My 2020 reading goals primarily revolve around the amount of books that I want to read and specific books that I want to pick up in the new year. I really want my 2020 reading to really focus on specific titles I have been wanting to pick up and titles I have selected for review, but also be as stress-free as possible.

I love the premise and creativity behind yearly reading challenges – maybe one year I’ll actually complete POPSUGAR’s annual challenge– but I find that I don’t like adapting my TBR and picking up certain books at a specific time to mark off a check box.

Read at least 60 books

My 2020 reading challenge of 60 books is lower than my normal reading goal. For example, in 2019, I set my reading challenge on Goodreads to 70 books, knowing that I personally wanted to reach 100 books. While I successfully reached my goal at 127 books, it might seem weird that I don’t set my challenge to a higher amount. With my college graduation ahead in May, I really don’t know what life is going to look like in 2020, hence I don’t know what my free time aka reading time will be this year. Reading will always be a part of my life for sure, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to have months where I can get to 15 books a month. Although I’ve proven that I am able to read a lot during super busy periods of life, I don’t want to set a “high” number because I don’t want to put pressure on myself to read.

Read more new adult and adult fiction

Although I read more YA books than not, I started picking up more and more new adult and adult fiction titles between May and the end of the year. Specifically, I found myself reaching for contemporary and contemporary romance titles. Since so many of the new adult and adult books that I picked up earned 5 stars, I really want to continue to pick up more of the same type of books. I’d love to read more books from the authors that I did read and find new-to-me authors and books. My favorite sub-genre within new adult and adult contemporary romance was sports romance.

Some 2019 favorites were:

The Books

I feel like I’ve gotten better and better about re-reading each year. I’ve discovered that challenging myself to reread specific books does not work, having done so in both 2018 and 2019 and failing to reread most of the books on those reread TBRs. Much of my rereading in 2020 is focusing on rereading books in anticipation for the next book in the series.

Reread The Royal We for The Heir Affair

Royal-inspired reads has become one of my favorite contemporary subgenres over the past few years. One of the reads that inspired my love for this ‘genre’ back in 2015 was Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s The Royal We. The Royal We follows an American college student studying abroad in England who happens to fall in love with the crown prince. It was announced in 2019 that there would be a book #2, The Heir Affair, coming out on June 16, 2020. Since I absolutely loved the first book and haven’t read it since 2015, I’m in definite need of a reread before summertime.I know a lot of people will be checking out both books from the library, so the sooner I check The Royal We out for my reread, the sooner I’ll have it. Unless I break out my holiday Barnes & Noble gift cards…

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MAX WATSON LOVE: The Map from Here to There Review ft. The Start of Me & You Reread Thoughts

42972032._UY630_SR1200,630_Summary (from the publisher): 

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions.

 

 My Rating: 4/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

9781619639386Emery Lord’s The Map from Here to There, the sequel to The Start of Me and You, was on my TBR since it was first ever announced. Why? Because Max Watson is one of my fictional boyfriends and I needed our reunion ASAP. Fictional crush set aside, I was really excited for this sequel because I’ve really enjoyed all of Emery Lord’s books- The Names They Gave Us still holds the #1 place though- and The Start of Me and You was one of my favorite contemporary reads of 2017.  The Start of Me and You follows high school senior Paige’s junior year, determined to make a year of new memories and experiences after the death of her boyfriend a year prior. 

Since there was a two year gap between me reading the book- I was fortunate enough to grab a copy of The Map from Here to There at Book Expo and read it in July-, I wanted to binge-reread The Start of Me and You and then read the sequel.

The Start of Me and You Reread Thoughts:

  • So where do I sign up to get an Alcott’s (Oakhurst’s coffee shop and bookstore) in
    my town? It makes for the perfect setting, especially for Max and Paige’s reading hangouts.
  • Max Watson for sure is still on my fictional bf list
  • While Max and Paige’s relationship is definitely the relationship of (most) focus, I forgot how much this book is about Paige’s friendship with her three best friends
  • There are so many great moments and quotes about books and reading! For example:

Max thought hard, his eyes moving away from me. He blinked and then returned his gaze to mine. ‘Like you had been drowning, and the book was air.’

I was quiet, caught in the surreal moment of having my feelings described so exactly. That was how it felt to me, to live in other worlds—books or TV—like breathing became second nature again with their safety” (222).Read More »

Book & Fangirl Christmas Haul 2019

The holiday season has always been one of my favorite times of the year. I absolutely love getting into the festive spirit and listening to Michael Buble’s Christmas album. Although I couldn’t be more than excited for the new year ahead, I admit that I still have a little bit of the holiday spirit in me- how could I not when Arthur Christmas was just added on Netflix?? I have a few bookish and fangirl gifts that were generously given to me by Santa (aka my family) this Christmas that I have to look forward to using and reading in 2020.

Books

Rebel (Legend #4) by Marie Lu

Rebel is the much anticipated follow-up fourth novel to Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy. The Legend trilogy were the first Marie Lu books that I had ever read. They still remain as my favorite Marie Lu series. I had intended to reread Legend, Prodigy, and Champion in 2019, but I’ll be 100% honest and admit that I ended up not in the mood to reread them this past fall. Rebel can apparently be read as a standalone, but I really want to re-familiarize myself with this world. One of my reading goals for January and February is reread all three books and then dive into Rebel.

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The Risk and The Play (Briar U #2 and Briar U #3) by Elle Kennedy

Elle Kennedy is one of favorite new adult authors, having loved her Off-Campus series and really enjoying the first book in the Briar U series, The Chase. Briar U is the spin-off series to Off-Campus. Both books are set at the fictional Briar University and follow relationships between a wide cast of female characters and male Briar U hockey players. I absolutely love sports romance, so I knew I needed to continue on with the Briar U series with The Risk and The Play. Each of these books can be read as a standalone, as they follow different couples in the Briar U world. However, I personally like reading each book in publication order because Elle Kennedy often  features previous main characters. I decided to ask for these books for Christmas because my library unfortunately does not have the Briar U series and I already own The Chase.

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WINTER BREAK READS & TV WATCHES: December 2019 Wrap Up

With the fall semester officially over, much of my December was spent reading and watching up TV. Unfortunately, I basically had a cold when I came home from school for winter break that lingered around until Christmas. It went back and forth from going away to getting worse over the course me having it, likely not being helped by my winter break job either.

In short, feeling a bit under the weather gave me more of an excuse to spend some time resting and catching up on all the books and TV shows. While I’m really content with the amount and the actual books I read, I’m also glad I spent a lot of time this month with family and best friends. I had such a great, but very busy fall semester with an already equally busy January and spring semester ahead that it’s been really nice to relax and recharge.

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My December reading was primarily split between some (okay, two) fantasy conclusions and plenty of contemporary and contemporary romance.

Archenemies (Renegades #2) by Marissa Meyer | My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I’ve really enjoyed this superhero-inspired series from Marissa Meyer so far, although I feel that Archenemies suffered from middle book syndrome.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams | Rating: 5/5

My favorite read of the month, my love for The Bromance Book Club inspired the rest of my contemporary reading in December.

The Queen of Nothing (Folk of Air #3) | Rating: 2/5

I had such high hopes for The Queen of Nothing given my love for The Wicked King, but was unfortunately really dismayed with this trilogy conclusion.

One Day in December by Josie Silver | Rating: 5/5

The only strictly holiday read on my December TBR, I’m so glad I finally got to One Day in December because I loved it so much!

How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian (ARC) | Rating: 4.5/5

I also got a small start of my 2020 review reads with How to Build a Heart, which featured many of my favorite YA contemporary elements with its own twists.

Intercepted (Playbook #1) by Alexa Martin | Rating: 5/5

Hi my name is Haley of Fangirl Fury and sports romance is one of my new favorite genres, much in thanks to Alexa Martin’s Playbook series.

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2019 5 Star Predictions Results

Many of you likely know by now that I love to create themed or different types of TBRs. One of my new-to-me TBRs in 2019 was a 5 Star Predictions to-be-read list, in which I chose 6 backlist books that came out before 2019 that I believed would be 5 star reads for me. Out of the six books I chose, I only read 4 out of 6.

I still have to read Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. In an effort to get to more backlist titles on my TBR, I plan on picking it up from the library in 2020. I did not pick up I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman, partly because I lost interest in its synopsis, partly because my local library system does not have it and I’m not sure if I want to buy my own copy (it’s also not sold here in the US).I also created a 5 Star Prediction list for 2019 releases and posted my results a few weeks ago. 

I ended up enjoying all the books on my TBR. The books that ended up not receiving 5 stars were only slightly off.

 My Correct Predictions

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti- A Heart in a Body in the World basically earned a 5 stars from me as soon as I started reading. I really couldn’t let go of this book, in love with its fantastic cast, story, and writing style. After surviving a horrific tragedy, Annabelle decides to run 2,700 miles across the country, followed by her grandfather and brother in a RV. It’s definitely a very relevant book, following a hot-button issue here in the US. While heart-breaking, Deb Caletti approached the situation and Annabelle’s reaction so incredibly well.

My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih- My Real Name is Hanna was such a unique historical fiction read set during the Holocaust, following a Jewish girl whose family is forced to go into hiding in the woods when the Gestapo raids their Ukrainian village. I learned so much while reading this book, all complimented by Tara Lynn Masih’s beautiful and vivid writing style.

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ARE THERE MORE THAN 19?: 19 Favorite 2019 Reads

2019, you were filled with so many books- 125 books as of today to be exact. Having read so many great reads this year, it was really hard to narrow down my favorites. The first draft of this post originally had over 40 books,! I decided to be on trend and narrow it down to my top 19 favorite books.

I read the most books in a year that I ever had in 2019. A lot of this was in thanks to my summer reading, basically reading (and yes, watching Netflix) during any free time that I had in between working two summer jobs and catching up with my best friends. While my school life was supremely busy both in the spring and fall, I’m very content with the fact that I was able to read at least four books each month- sometimes five to seven depending on how many papers I procrastinated on. In between the holidays, work, and Netflix, I’ve also spent time eating up some romantic contemporaries this December as well.

Despite the amount of books I’ve read, and the amount of favorites & honorable mentions on this list, I feel like I’ve become a more critical reader and ‘favorite book’ evaluator in 2019. Earning 5 stars was pretty hard in the Fangirl Fury book this year. At the same time, there are some 5 star books that I’ve read that aren’t exactly favorites of mine, and there are books that I didn’t give 5 stars that still stole my heart and became favorites.

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81qTLTauYbLAmerican Royals by Katharine McGee

Katharine McGee’s American Royals was the Princess Diaries 2-like book I didn’t know I needed until upon reading. I’ve seriously fallen in love even more with this book in the months after I’ve finished. Set in a United States with a monarchy instead of a democracy, American Royals was the perfect blend of romance, politics, and family drama with such an addicting writing style.

 

71uhR9E2dnLSerious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

If there’s one book on this list where I absolutely loved every element within, its Jenn Bennett’s Serious Moonlight. I definitely need to do a reread of all of Jenn Bennett’s YA books, but Serious Moonlight may just be my favorite book of hers! I related so much to the protagonist, Birdie, and I loved this book’s atmosphere and premise so much.

 

81WHkIj6+yLNinth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House instantly become one of my favorite reads of 2019 as soon as I read its final sentence.  I read and love a lot of books, but something about that ending made me realize that it had been such a long time that I had ‘this feeling’ of loving a book so much immediately right after finishing it. Ninth House is such an incredible blend of fantasy and literary fiction. I’m so excited to see where this series goes.

 

41150487Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

The crowd favorite of the year, I loved Red, White & Royal Blue even before the hype really began. Like many of the books on this list, RWRB perfectly balanced all its elements, from political drama, family, friendship, and of course, the romance.

 

 

thegThe Goal (Off Campus #4) by Elle Kennedy

New adult (and adult) romance is for sure one way to label my 2019 reading year, much in part to Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series. I particularly fell hard for the last book in the series, The Goal. I read The Goal over the course of two sittings, in love with the two main character’s chemistry and overall story. And yes, my fictional crush on Tucker likely has something to do with my love for this installment.


81fibqn7f2lImprison the Sky
(The Elementae #2) by A.C. Gaughen

Imprison the Sky is such a fantastic follow-up novel to A.C. Gaughen’s Reign the Earth. I’m usually not a fan of pirate books or books set-at-sea, but Imprison the Sky completely changed that for me. I loved how it interwove elements and charatcers from book #1 while introducing us to a new cast. The world-building and twists constantly kept me on the edge of my seat. Although I’m so sad that there are currently no plans for books #3 and #4, I highly recommend picking up these books!

91mtMzHwLOLLovely War by Julie Berry

Julie Berry’s Lovely War is hands-down my favorite historical fiction read of the eyar. I didn’t read as much in the genre as I would have liked, but Lovely War easily made up for itself. Julie Berry’s writing style is absolutely beautiful. The book is narrated by Aphrodite and other Greek Gods, following four characters whose lives are interwoven with one another over the course of World War I.

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