Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Book Review

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
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A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

What I thought
Thank you Macmillan Audio and Netgalley for giving me an audio copy of this book for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When I picked up this book all that I knew about it was that it was a YA fantasy inspired by Persian mythology and a Rappaccini’s Daughter retelling. I was sold by that concept alone. Oh and it’s a standalone. I had not read anything by this author before so I was amazed at the beautifully enchanting writing of this book. This book was very atmospheric, I had no issues imagining every aspect of the story.

This is the story of Soraya, a girl that was cursed as a baby to be poisonous. The only living thing that she can interact with is flowers. I found Soraya to be a very frustrating character due to her making a lot of really bad decisions and could be very naive; however, what do you expect from someone that was forced to hide away with little to no interaction for her entire life.

The heart of this story is Soraya’s journey of self-love and acceptance. Soraya has spent her life not liking herself due to the way that she is. During this story she is able to see that what made her so different is also what makes her special. Which is a wonderful theme for a YA book.

I really enjoyed the narrator of this book. The way that she read the story pulled me in. She was able create the voices that seemed to fit each character.

My Rating: /5

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Review: Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz

Book Review

Jo & Laurie
by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz
Young Adult, Retelling, Romance
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1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration—museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!

But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo’s desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart’s desire or lose the love of her life forever?

What I thought
I was sent a copy of this book from Megan Beatie Communications through Net Galley for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I feel the need to state that this review is coming from someone that has not read Little Women nor have I watched the movie. I feel this is important to point out because I think that if you have read Little Women or even watched the movie you would already have some connection with these characters from the beginning.

I am a fan of Melissa de la Cruz’s books and this one did not disappoint.

This story takes place between the publication of Little Women and Good Wives. This book is first and foremost a love story between Joe and Laurie. But another bonus is that this book shows how a whole everyone in a family can deal with grief differently. I do not think this was meant to be a main plot point but I think it was displayed well.

This book took me about 100 pages to really get into it but I really think its because I did not know the original story.
I loved watching Joe and Laurie’s relationship. Everyone in the story knew that those two were meant to be together except Joe. She had a lot to work through to discover that she is allowed to be happy too. I liked the portrayal of grief and depression in this story and seeing how it was worked through. I felt so many feelings while reading this book that I did not expect to feel.

I recommend this book to anyone that thinks that the story sounds interesting. Just note if you have not read Little Women it will take a little bit to connect with these characters.

My Rating: /5

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Review: The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen

Book Review

The Lady in the Coppergate Tower
by Nancy Campbell Allen
(Steampunk Proper Romance #3)
Fantasy, Steampunk, Retelling
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Hazel Hughes has spent her life believing she is a Medium—someone who can talk to ghosts. But as of yet, that skill has remained frustratingly elusive. She is also suffering from a reoccurring childhood dream of someone who looks almost exactly like Hazel, but this dream version of herself is slowly going mad.

Sam MacInnes is a talented surgeon who runs in the highest social circles thanks to his family’s position and history. When Sam hires Hazel to assist him with his medical practice, he is immediately drawn to her intelligence, wit, and beauty.

Their potential relationship is derailed one evening when a mysterious count arrives in London and reveals to Hazel the truth about her past: she was abducted at birth and her twin sister has fallen dangerously ill.

Hazel agrees to travel to Romania with Count Petrescu in order to save her sister, and Sam insists on accompanying her. The count has secrets, though, and the journey grows more sinister with every mile that draws Hazel closer to her homeland. Even as her feelings for Sam become deeper and more complicated, she fears she might not survive the quest to save her sister with her heart intact, not to mention her life. She must learn to draw on gifts she doesn’t know she has if they are going to ever return home again.

Hazel and Sam must fight their way past dark magic, clockwork beasts, and their own insecurities as they try to reach her sister in the impenetrable Coppergate Tower before time runs out.

What I thought
This story is a Steampunk Rapunzel retelling. This is also a proper romance novel. I love Nancy Campbell Allen’s Proper Romance Steampunk Fairy Tale retellings. Even though this is the third part to this series these books can be read as stand-alones.

I really enjoyed watching Hazel and Sam together. Hazel believes her gift is being a Medium however she finds that she is a healer. Since Hazel works for Sam he knew that the balance of power was his so he was so very careful to not cross lines. My absolute favorite character from this book had to be Eugene. When things got tense you could count on him being the balance. He made me laugh so many times.

I guessed Count Petrescu’s big secret shortly after meeting him but there were sometimes when I doubted what I thought I knew. Even knowing what/who he was did not take away from this story for me. I was left guessing what I thought I knew enough times to keep me on my toes.

If you like a good character driven story than this is a great one for you.

My Rating: /5

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Review: Curiouser and Curiouser by Melanie Karsak

Book Review

Curiouser and Curiouser by Melanie Karsak
(Steampunk Fairy Tales #1)
Fantasy, Steampunk, Retelling
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To save the Hatter, Alice must work with the one man she despises so much that she might still love him.

Alice thought she’d turned over a new leaf. No more working for Jabberwocky. No more making deals with the ruthless Queen of Hearts. No more hanging around The Mushroom with tinkers, tarts, scoundrels, and thieves in London’s criminal underbelly. But she’d been bonkers to dream.

Hatter’s reckless behavior leads Alice back to the one person she never wanted to see again, Caterpillar. Pulled into Caterpillar’s mad schemes, Alice must steal a very big diamond from a very royal lady. The heist is no problem for this Bandersnatch. But protecting her heart from the man she once loved? Impossible.

Sometimes love is mad.

See how NY Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak reimagines Lewis Carroll’s classic fairy tale, Alice in Wonderland, with a steampunk twist! Join us at The Mushroom in gaslamp Victorian London.

What I thought
I received a copy of this book from the Author, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I was sold when I heard that this was a Steampunk version of Alice in Wonderland. I have read other books by this author in her steampunk world and I loved them so when I saw that there was a Alice and Wonderland one I couldn’t sign up fast enough.

I am really picky about my Alice in Wonderland retellings. There are a lot of them and I have found that not a lot of them put a new twist on the story. I really enjoyed this twist on Alice in Wonderland. This whole story takes place in Victorian London and all of your players are there. Following the white rabbit down the rabbit hole has a new twist. One thing that I did appreciate is that you not only get your classic characters but you get to see Alice’s sister and Dinah their cat.

There is enough room for Melanie to expand Alice’s story if she wanted to write another book following her.

This story isn’t very long so I do not want to spoil the story for you. But do know that if you like the world that she has created then you are in for a treat because all of her steampunk books take place in the world.

My Rating: /5

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Review: Howls and Hallows by Melanie Karsak

Book Review

Howls and Hallows
Howls and Hallows
by Melanie Karsak
(Steampunk Red Riding Hood #5)
Fantasy, Retelling, Steampunk
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You’re invited to the All Hallows Ball.
*Werewolves prohibited.

Busy tracking down thieving werewolves in London, Clemeny is surprised when Edwin asks her to lead a new case in the Fenlands of east England.

The Cabell family is haunted by a curse. Something in the misty moors surrounding Cabell Manor has come howling just days before the exclusive All Hallows Ball. How gauche. But London’s best agent is on the case.

Clemeny soon finds herself learning the ropes of polite society while hunting an apparition on the foggy fens. She’ll need to solve the case quickly if she hopes to be the belle–not the bruiser–of the ball.

Continue Clemeny’s adventures in Howls and Hallows , a Halloween-themed tale. Journey to gaslamp London in the 19th century in this steampunk retelling of the classic Red Riding Hood fairy tale by New York Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak.

What I thought
This is the 5th book in the series.  This may not have been one of my favorite in this series but I really like how it ends.  I am so happy that Clemeny is finally taking charge of her heart and not letting other disctiate how she should feel.  I really liked the old Celtic God aspect that this book focuses around.  It just did not grab me like the others in the series have.  This book is definitely setting up the conclusion to this story and I am so pumped for where this is heading.

This whole series is available through Kindle Unliminated.

My Rating: /53.5 stars

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New Releases

Waiting On Wednesday: The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each Wednesday you got to highlight a book that you were really looking forward to. Unfortunately, the original creator is no longer able to host the meme and it has now linked up with Can’t Wait Wednesday over at Wishful Endings.

This week I’ve chosen:  The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis

The Raven and the Dove
The Raven and the Dove
by Kaitlyn Davis
(The Raven and the Dove #1)
Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Four fates collide in this avian-inspired, epic fantasy retelling of Tristan and Isolde perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo!

A princess longing to be free…

On the dawn of her courtship trials, Princess Lyana Aethionus knows she should be focused on winning her perfect mate, yet her thoughts wander to the open sky waiting at the edge of her floating kingdom. One final adventure calls. Upon fleeing the palace, the last thing she expects to find is a raven prince locked in a death match with a dragon.

A bastard aching to belong…

Reviled son of a dead king, Rafe would do anything for his beloved half-brother, Prince Lysander Taetanus, including posing as him in the upcoming courtship trials. When a dragon interrupts their secret exchange, he orders his studious sibling to run. After suffering a fatal blow, Rafe is saved by a beautiful dove who possesses forbidden magic, just like him.

Fate brought them together, now destiny will tear them apart…

Unknown to the world above, on the foggy sea ten thousand feet below, a young king fights a forgotten war. He believes Lyana is the queen prophesied to save the world, and with the help of his favored spy, hidden deep in the highest ranks of the dove royal house, he will stop at nothing to have her.

Three shocking betrayals. Two star-crossed lovers. One unforgettable journey. If you like fierce heroines, brooding heroes, forbidden romance, and action-packed magical adventures with twists you’ll never see coming, don’t miss The Raven and the Dove!

Expected publication:  March 9, 2020

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New Releases

Blog Tour: When Stars Are Bright by Amber R. Duell @AmberR_Duell @RRBookTours1 #WhenStarsAreBright #YABooks #YAReads #FairyTale #BlogTour #RRBookTours

WhenStarsareBright copy

I’m so excited to share this highly anticipated release with you all today!

When Stars Are Bright is a YA fairy tale retelling of “Thumbelina” by author, Amber R. Duell. Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a paperback copy of the book!


When Stars Are Bright
by Amber R. Duell
Publication Date: January 7th, 2020
Genre: Young Adult/ Fairy Tale Retelling
Publisher: Crescent Sea Publishing

For Lina Holt, a Dutch seventeen-year-old with a flair for singing, 1930 is going to be her year. Her long-time boyfriend is about to propose and her mother will finally realize their relationship isn’t a passing phase. But when a stranger snatches her from her backyard, everything changes.

Lina is thrust into the spotlight of a New York vaudeville show where she’s paired with Nik, a mysterious pianist. The two bond during rehearsals and it doesn’t take long before Nik puts himself at risk to confess a hidden truth. Without Lina, the show is in its last season and there’s no way she’ll be allowed to slip through the owner’s fingers. Not when she carries fairy magic in her blood—an gift that turns her song into a dangerously addictive drug.

If Lina ever wants to return home, she must learn who to trust before she’s forced to remain a prisoner on stage forever.

WHEN STARS ARE BRIGHT is a historical Thumbelina retelling with a touch of magic.

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There’s a certain thrill in doing something forbidden. Sneaking out past curfew, dancing freely to a jazz band, stealing kisses in a dark corner. Any one of those things will send my mother into hysterics. I’m not sure what she’ll do if she finds out I’m doing them all at once. When she finds out, because she always does.

But, if I want to see Christian, it’s my only choice.

The band electrifies the air with each note they play. At least fifty strangers twist and turn around us in the empty barn, and the lingering scent of hay tickles my nose. Christian doesn’t seem to notice the lack of marble floors or fancy wall sconces. His eyes haven’t left my face since we got here, except for the kissing.

His arms cocoon me near the wall, and I lean into his chest. He’s warm and sturdy against me, and I close my eyes. The soft thump of his heartbeat beneath my palm dulls the sharp edge of missing him, but it never stops cutting. It won’t as long as we’re forced to sneak around behind our parents’ backs.

“Are you tired, Lina?” Christian twists one of my curls around his finger. “We can go.”

“We’ve only been here an hour.” And there’s no telling how long until we can meet again. I stretch up on my toes, the hem of my yellow skirt tickling the back of my knees, and kiss the fine stubble on his cheek. “Come on. I love this song.”

Pulling Christian behind me, I find a free spot in the middle of the barn. Dozens of worn, dusty boots and Mary Jane’s slam down on the planked floor, sending bits of straw and dirt into the air. The music vibrates against my body, and we join the rhythm.

The band wears worn slacks and checkered shirts like the rest of the crowd. Christian’s the only one here without patched clothes or any idea of the work that will go into filling this barn with hay tomorrow. No one will have the energy for dancing after a day of haying. They’ll be lucky to drag themselves to bed before collapsing, my mother and I included, though it will be a different field we work in the morning.

Sweat trickles down Christian’s temple as we kick up dust of our own, and a wide grin breaks out on my face. I’m not the best swing dancer, far from it, but I don’t care. Giving myself over to the music makes me feel weightless. Free. No one pays attention except Christian, and he’s not much better. When the trombone sounds its last note, I laugh and collapse into his arms, breathless.

“Want to get something to drink?” I ask over the start of the next song.

He nods and leads me back through the crowd. His cotton shirt clings to his skin, showing off the muscles in his arms and back, and gray suspenders hang down from his waist. After more than a year together, it’s the most I’ve seen of him, and it would be a lie to say I’m not enjoying it. If we didn’t have to sneak around, I’d make him go dancing every weekend for the view alone.

“Wait here.” He slips under a slanted support beam at the back of the barn, and kisses me. When he steps away, he keeps hold of my hand until he’s too far to reach. “I’ll be right back.”

I scoot farther under the protection of the beam until it grazes my hair, and watch his head bob above everyone else. A lantern burns beside me, casting a warm glow, and the band plays their own version of Puttin’ on the Ritz. There’s no singer tonight, without a microphone it would be impossible to hear one anyway, but I know the words. I hum along with the smooth sound of the saxophone, my foot tapping in time with the bass and, before I realize it, I’m singing.

It’s a cheery tune, but I keep my voice quiet. My mother is the only one who’s heard me sing since I was little, and she insists I keep it that way. Being known as the infant abandoned in a tulip field, I’m used to whispers behind my back. Going steady with the heir to the Van Buren petroleum fortune only makes things worse. I don’t mind being thought of as an unlovable gold digger—not much anyway—but I’m tired of standing out. I especially have no interest in drawing a crowd tonight like I did when I was five. Twelve years later, I still get chills thinking about the people that closed in on me as I hummed in the marketplace.

A heavy man inches along the wall, hunching over to fit beside me. His eyelids droop over dark eyes, and his round face is close enough that I can count the pockmarks. His breath wheezes over the music. “You have a lovely voice. Where did you get it?”

I slam my mouth shut on the last line of the song. Naturally, the one time I sing in public someone’s listening. Though it’s only one person, this is somehow equally unnerving.

“Have you thought about a career?” The strange man leans closer. From his dialect, it’s obvious he’s from a different part of Holland.

“A career?” I shift away, and scan the crowd for Christian. When I don’t see him between here and the water barrel, I step away from the wall.

The man bobs his head up and down, his jowls shaking, swallowing the yellow-stained Marlboro collar. “In show business. With that delicate face of yours, the blond hair and blue eyes, it would be easy to make a name for yourself. I’ve never felt an addictive quality as strong as yours either. Of course it’s rare. Where did you get it?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Keep your secrets, little Symric. Fairy folk always do.” He inches closer still. “But what do you say? You want to make it big in America with me?”

My laugh is quick and high-pitched. Where are you, Christian? “No.”

“You should.”

“She should what?” Christian asks from the opposite direction. He steps up beside me without refreshments and wraps an arm around my shoulders. I lean closer.


This book was received from the Author/Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have never read anything by this author before and now I need to read more.

I am not very familiar with the original story of Thumbelina but I do enjoy a good retelling. And I have never heard of a Thumbelina retelling to date. Which was great since everyone seems to be down the same 2 or 3 stories over and over again.  

The first 130 pages seemed to take me longer to get through than the rest of the book.  Once I got to that point I finished the book in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down.  I loved the magical aspect in a 1930s setting. Most of the books I have seen seem to be in the 20s so it was great to see a different decade. 

The ending was heartbreaking for me and that epilogue.  I didn’t realize until the end how much I wanted it to go another way for Lena,  but that is how the cookie crumbles. And their song….I will never be able to look at this title and not have some feels.

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Author Bio


Amber R. Duell is an award-winning young adult author, Navy wife, and mom of 2 awesome boys. She has been a #WriteMentor mentor since 2018 and is a co-host on the live broadcast show Young Adult Edition. Red Bull keeps her kicking.

Amber Duell| Twitter | Facebook | Instagram



Blog Tour

WhenStarsareBright copy

February 17th
Reads & Reels (Spotlight)
Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
Jessica Belmont (Review)
Tales of Natural Spoonie (Review)

February 18th
Tsarina Press (Spotlight)
C Vonzale Lewis (Review)
Life’s a Novelty (Review)
Once More with Reading (Review)
Tranquil Dreams (Review)

February 19th
I Love Books and Stuff (Spotlight)
Cup of Toast Blog (Review)
Bibliophile Ramblings (Review) http://lego–ergo–

February 20th
Book Dragons Not Worms (Review)
Crossroad Reviews (Review)
Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review)
Port Jerricho (Review)
The Faerie Review (Review)

February 21st
Ghoulish Life & Reviews (Review)
Rambling Mads (Review)
Phantom of the Library (Review)
Vick’s Bookish Writing (Review)
Sophril Reads (Review)

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