Blogmas Book Review: Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.
King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.
Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.
As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.
Set in a richly imaginative world with striking similarities to our own, Brigid Kemmerer’s captivating new series is about those with power and those without… and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future.

Book Cover

Defy the Night follows Tessa Cade and Prince Corrick who live in the kingdom of Kandala. Their kingdom is overrun with sickness and the people are suffering. We get to see two very different sides of the struggle since Tessa is an orphan, barely making ends meet. But Prince Corrick lives among the elite. He lives in a palace, with unlimited access to the medicine that will help the sickness. But we also get to see that not everything is black and white. Corrick is known to be incredibly cruel and ruthless, but We learn that there’s more to it than that.
I think Kemmerer has a great writing style and the pace of the story never slowed. Once I got to the 100-page mark, I just flew through the story. I was interested in the world and politics. I think sometimes with big worlds like this where we see players from other areas, a lot of the world outside of the main setting can get lost, but I don’t think that happened. I feel like I had a really good understanding of the surrounding areas.
As for our two main characters, I liked them. I liked that there were two sides to Corrick that we got to see. But I would have actually liked to see a bit more of “Cruel Corrick” in action. We see him do things because he HAS to, but from things that other characters say, it’s clear that he doesn’t really have the effect he’s going for. We’re told, often, why the people think of him this way, but we don’t really get to see it. Tessa was easy to love. She’s dealt with hardship. She witnessed her parents killed. But none of that hardened her. She’s still a really nice and sometimes naive girl. I wanted to see more of her apothecary knowledge at work.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked both the main characters. They had backstories that made sense for who they are now. The world was descriptive but still easy to understand. I liked most of the supporting characters too. I also really enjoyed that this book was wrapped up pretty nicely. I think I will continue the series when the next book comes out.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

GoodReads Summary:
Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?
The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.
In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.
A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, #2)Review:
Let’s talk about disappointment friends. So, I flew through this story because Kemmerer is an incredible writer and can draw me into the story even if I don’t particularly care or like what I’m reading. So many books that I’ve read in the last few months have fallen into the trap of one of the sequels (sometimes the second and sometimes the third book) completely undoing the events of the previous book. It seems like Rhen just completely undoes all of the character development that we saw in the first book. He’s cruel and horrible, even after finding out the identity of the heir. I hated him and hated that Harper was staying with him.
The next biggest issue I had was that it really felt like…nothing happened? Like I said above, Kemmerer is an amazing writer, so the story is paced well and I never felt bored, but I finished the book and honestly wondered what the point of the book was being really nothing happened aside from the heir deciding he wanted to be the heir instead of hiding or dying.
Despite these issues, I still enjoyed reading it? I know that doesn’t make any sense. I liked Lia Mara. I liked that she could see what was wrong with her country and how things could be better if only things other than cruelty and viciousness were valued.
Overall, I’ll probably finish the series when the third book comes out, but I won’t have very high expectations.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Call it What you Want by Brigid Kemmerer

Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?
Rob lost everything when his dad was caught embezzling funds from half the town—his friends, his status at school, even his family. Although his father’s suicide attempt failed, the dad he knew is gone.
Maegan was the typical overachiever, until the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping up the appearance of the “perfect” family might be too much for Maegan to handle.
When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plans to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…
Brigid Kemmerer pens a captivating, heartfelt story about two teens struggling in the space between right and wrong.
Call It What You WantReview:
Brigid Kemmerer can do no wrong. I read this book in three hours and just couldn’t stop once I’d started. Call it What you Want is a story that follows two teens who have lost the respect and trust of their classmates. They find solace in one another.
I adored Maegan. I loved her relationship with her sister. I thought their relationship was realistic and I loved seeing them confide in one another. I think Maegan was such a good character. She did something wrong, and couldn’t seem to escape from the effects of that one mistake. Seeing her try to go through the motions and get through every day was interesting. Once she befriends Rob, things get so much more interesting.
Rob is a guy that is facing the consequences of something his father did. No one believes that he didn’t have a clue what his father was doing, even though it’s the truth. I really enjoyed seeing Rob open up to Maegan and also to the friend he makes at lunch. The relationships that he finds and the one that he mends were the best part of this story.
The character development and growth for these characters was incredible. Kemmerer has a way of creating characters and making me become so attached to them in a way that not many other authors can do. Along with the characters, the plot took directions that I did not see coming. I love stories that are unpredictable and this was exactly that.
The only thing that I would have liked to see more of was Rob’s relationship with Mr. London, the librarian. I would have liked for Rob to open up to him sooner. I loved reading about them talking books and then just about life.
I loved everything about this book. So, go buy it or borrow it from your library or get it in whatever way you get books. This is one you need to read. A story about right and wrong and where to draw the line in between them.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir to 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, 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
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 (A Curse So Dark and Lonely, #1)Review:
I loved this book. Brigid Kemmerer has done it again. She is certainly an auto buy author for me and the thought of waiting a year for A Heart so Fierce and Broken has me slowly withering away on the inside. There were so many things I loved about this book and really not a single thing that I didn’t like. The inside is just as beautiful as the cover of this baby.

“Not all scars can be seen, my lady.”

First, the story. I thought the time twist was interesting. The characters keep repeating the same season over and over in an attempt to break the curse. Next, the twist on the beast was also interesting. I liked that it wasn’t the traditional beast and was more of an actual terrifying monster. Beauty and the Beast has never been my favorite fairytale, but this was definitely one of my favorite twists on the classic story.

“The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but the are choices nonetheless.”

I really enjoyed the characters. We will start with Harper. She’s just trying to look out for her brother and help take care of her sick mother. She’s a fighter from the second that she’s introduced on the page. After being whisked away to Emberfall she basically does whatever she wants (and the complete opposite of what she’s told to do). She does her best to try to escape because she needs to get back to her brother. She proves again and again that her disability isn’t going to hold her back from anything. I thought she was sassy and funny. She also cared even when she didn’t need to and tried to stick up for people that couldn’t or wouldn’t fight for themselves, which is the whole reason she ended up in Emberfall in the first place. She didn’t let this stop her. She saved some villagers, proceeded to bring them food despite being told not to. She stole Rhen’s horse like five times (and I loved it more and more each time.) She sticks up for those that are vulnerable. (Enter Rhen.)

“This was  never a curse to be broken. This is a death sentence. The true curse has been the though that we might find escape.”

Rhen is standoffish, sassy, and almost even rude when he sees how headstrong Harper is. He tries to be nice to her, but quickly realizes his usual tricks aren’t going to work on her. I really enjoyed the hopelessness that Rhen felt in this book. His inner dialogue was one of my favorite parts of the story. He talks so lightly of all the different ways he’s tried to end the curse, some more extreme than others. My next favorite part was his character in general. He’s already done his growing. He’s learned from the countless previous seasons and the things that have happened in them. His character growth isn’t dependent upon Harper and I really enjoyed that. The story was only sort of about breaking Rhen’s curse, it more focuses on being a better person and Harper encouraging/inspiring him to do better for the people he’s supposed to be ruling over. She shows him that even if he’s not meant to break the curse, he can still be trying to take care of the people in his kingdom.

“It is not the moment of passing that is most important. It is all the moments that come before.”

Then there’s all the supporting characters I loved. Grey, the ever-loyal commander. I love the friendship that Harper formed with him. I like that they became fast friends despite Grey being the one to take her to Emberfall, because he tried to be her friend. He taught her things and played cards with her and they talked about everything. I enjoyed their friendship even though there were hints of a love triangle. Then there’s Freya, who was sweet and motherly and always there when Harper needed her. I thought she was so sweet. The final character I want to mention was Zo, Harper’s female guard. They become fast friends and Harper wants to share where she’s really from with her, but doesn’t. They make me laugh with the silly things Harper teaches Zo and I wish she had come into the story sooner. I can’t wait to see these girls interact more (hopefully) in the next book.

“Failure isn’t absolute.  Just because you couldn’t save everyone doesn’t mean you didn’t save anyone.”

Finally, I adored the combination of Emberfall, this fantasy world, meeting the real world of Washington, DC. I thought this was such an interesting idea, fantasy meshing with the real world. I would have liked to see a little bit more (maybe in the next book?) We really were just teased with it and then the ideas and knowledge that Harper brings into Emberfall. It definitely added something extra to the story and I adored this aspect of the story.

“I do not understand how she can fill me with such hope and fear simultaneously.”

Overall, this is a new favorite of mine. I loved every page. I loved the story, the characters, the world, even the cliffhanger. I read this almost five-hundred-page book in one sitting, which says a lot. I literally could not put it down. If you haven’t read this, I recommend it without a doubt.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

Rev has managed. to keep the demons of his past at bay…until he. gets a letter from the abusive father he hasn’t seen in years, and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.
Emma. has only one escape from her parents’ fighting: the computer game she built from scratch…until an online troll’s harassment causes her to fear for her safety.
When Rev and Emma cross paths one night, they’re both longing to confide in someone-to share the weight of their worries. They connect instantly and deeply, vowing to help each other no matter what. But soon Rev’s and Emma’s secrets threaten to crush them, and they’ll need more than a promise to find their way out. In an achingly beautiful story from the author of Letters to the Lost, two teens find the courage to lift the burden of their scars-old and new.
Brigid Kemmerer has done it again. I adored this story. Rev and Emma pulled me, chewed me up, and spit me out. Their wonderfully developed characters with interesting and complex stories.
Rev has a complicated past, and not in a good way. I knew I wanted to know more about him when I met him in Letters to the Lost. I’m so happy that he got his own book. We really learn about what goes on in Rev’s mind. We learn his fears and doubts and the things he does to try to combat them. I loved the relationships with his family. I thought it was really interesting to learn about Kristin and Geoff adopting Rev and all the other kids that they’ve fostered over the years. The love they have for Rev was so heartwarming and wonderful to read about. I also really enjoyed seeing more of Declan. I thought it was interesting to see the other side of their relationship. I thought Rev was a strong, courageous character that faced his demons down and stayed true to himself.
Emma was stubborn. Sometimes to the point of annoyance. She gets herself into trouble because of the typical ‘not sharing information’ trope where she could have solved all her problems by telling someone the truth. She was shitty to her friends and didn’t appreciate the things she had in her life. Despite all of this, I couldn’t help but like her. By the end of the book, she knew she’s been an ass and start making amends with those she’s treated poorly. She had great growth and I really appreciated that. I also liked that she’s a gamer. It’s not that common of a hobby for girls and the fact that she created her own game is just fascinating.
Overall, I loved this book. It was heartwarming and heart wrenching at the. same time. I’m so invested in these characters I’d die for another book. I have information from a little birdie that there is potential for Matthew (Rev’s foster brother) to get his own book and I would flip. Kemmerer is officially an auto-buy author for me and I cannot wait to read her newest book A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

GoodReads Summary:
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.
Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.
When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.
I’m binge-reading all of Brigid Kemmerer’s books because I’m going to her book signing on the 28th and I want to have read the book that I’m going to have her sign. I have heard nothing but good things about her writing and I was certainly not disappointed by Letters to the Lost. This story was interesting and thought-provoking, compelling and heart-wrenching.
Juliet and Declan were both such captivating characters. Each of them dealing with the death of a loved one, each feeling in their own way like that death was their fault. I really liked both of them. Juliet, dealing with the death of her mother, trying to get through each day to get her life back to normal. She finds that she can’t do all of the things she loved before her mother died. She won’t pick up a camera. She’s basically just going through the motions each day. I thought it was really interesting seeing how the deal of a loved one can affect your passions. Grief is more than just sadness and Letters to the Lost really shows that with these characters. For Juliet, it’s being consumed by wanting her mother back and losing interest in things she loved previously. For Declan, it was different. He put the responsibility on himself. So along with grief, he feels an overpowering amount of guilt. His grief shows in different ways than Juliet. He’s abrasive and volatile, embracing the ‘delinquent’ reputation that he has.
I found this story so relatable. Showing that everyone grieves differently is such an important message and its one that is shared so well by this story. Kemmerer tells a captivating story of love and loss and how to move toward loving and living again after losing someone you love.
Overall, I’m so happy I read this story and I can’t wait to read more by Kemmerer. Her writing was beautiful. It was also super interesting to read about the area that I live in because Kemmerer lives in a town near me (how cool right?) I definitely recommend reading this book if you haven’t already.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Click on the book cover! It’s an affiliate link so we will make a small percentage from your purchase, feel free to support us!