First Line Friday: 9/22

Okay, so explanation time. I got sick this week. It has majorly sucked. So that’s why I haven’t hardly posted this week at all. Now let’s move on to First Line Fridays.

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers (formerly) hosted by Wandering Words, but I saw it over at One Book More.

What if instead of judging a book by the cover, author or most everything else, we judged it by its content? Its first lines?

If you want to join in, all you gotta do is:

📚 Take a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open it to the first page
📝 Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
📙 Finally… reveal the book!

Here are the first lines:

Be still now, and I will tell you a tale.

It begins deep within Verloren, the land of the lost.

Do you know what book it is? Here’s a little hint. Or two or three, you know the drill by now.

Do you know the book now? If you don’t, here are some gorgeous pictures of novels to scroll through while you consider it…

Annnd the book is 🥁🥁… Cursed by Marissa Meyer!!

(Did you guess it?)

Cursed by Marissa Meyer

Cursed by Marissa Meyer

What books have you been reading lately? What’s on your TBR that you’re most excited about?

As always, thank you for reading, and I hope you have an excellent day/night!

See ya ~Mar

Book Review: “Thornhedge” by T. Kingfisher

The love of monsters was uncomplicated.

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

LENGTH: 116 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Fiction


RELEASE DATE: 15 August 2023


From USA Today bestselling author T. Kingfisher, Thornhedge is an original, subversive fairytale about a kind-hearted, toad-shaped heroine, a gentle knight, and a mission gone completely sideways.

There’s a princess trapped in a tower. This isn’t her story.

Meet Toadling. On the day of her birth, she was stolen from her family by the fairies, but she grew up safe and loved in the warm waters of faerieland. Once an adult though, the fae ask a favor of Toadling: return to the human world and offer a blessing of protection to a newborn child. Simple, right?

If only.

Centuries later, a knight approaches a towering wall of brambles, where the thorns are as thick as your arm and as sharp as swords. He’s heard there’s a curse here that needs breaking, but it’s a curse Toadling will do anything to uphold…

My Review

“There is a story,” Halim said, watching her closely, “of a beautiful maiden in a tower, enchanted by some terrible magic.”

“There cannot be a story,” said Toadling, almost inaudibly. “Everyone has been dead for so long. There cannot be a story. Who told you such a story?”

Thornhedge was a book I was looking forward to, ever since I first heard about it a few months back. I fairytale retelling? By the author of What Moves the Dead? Oh, heck yeah!

But I didn’t really like this book as much as I hoped that I would. Which has been a bit of a trend lately, unfortunately. (I’m looking at you Witch King. And you, the rerelease of Masters of Death.)

But I did like a few things about it. So I’m gonna talk about it. Uh, yeah.

(I’m just so eloquent, huh?)


I really liked the characters. Toadling was a very different take on the fairy who cursed the princess, and one I’ve never seen before. She’s nervous and insecure, but she has a phenomenal sense of duty that keeps her tied to the tower surrounded by thorns. She’s also curious, and longs to get a taste of the world(s) beyond her exile. Which is where our other major character comes in.

Halim was a great take on the knight in shining armor. Particularly because he’s not much of a knight – in his own words. He’s even more curious than Toadling, as that’s what led him to the tower to begin with, but he’s even more kindhearted. Even when he and Toadling meet face-to-face, he’s far more curious to her predicament than he is hostile, and spends the majority of the tale doing everything in his power to help her.

Beyond the characters, the other two things that I liked were the way T. Kingfisher built her world, and the lack of romance. Concerning the first of the two – I love the way that she weaves her stories (so far). The world building itself is just so intricately tied into the narrative in a way that I can’t imagine any other way to tell the story. I found it beautiful.

Regarding the lack of romance – I love gen relationships! There aren’t enough books completely free of romance out there, especially in the fantasy I’ve read, and it hurts me. I love a good friendship, and there aren’t enough novels where the main characters are just really close friends that exist. Particularly in a fairytale retelling.


As much as I loved the way the world building was, and how the story of Thornhedge was told… I don’t know how to explain it, honestly. I guess the novel itself just wasn’t quite for me.

This is nothing against the writing – I already said I liked it. I think the problem was there was too much background, and yet not enough. Maybe. Like I said, I think I just didn’t end up liking it as much as I’d wanted. I don’t know. So I’m not really sure what to put in my little con section here, lol.

Final Thoughts

She had so many choices and she had never had choices, never been given a chance to choose anything more important than what fish to snatch or what herb to pick.

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher was a very interesting and different take on Sleeping Beauty. Despite the fact that I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I’d have liked to, it was still a very refreshing take on a fairytale retelling.

I think that people who’ve read and enjoyed more of the author’s work will probably like this one, at least a little bit. I also think that those who just enjoy fairytale retellings and retellings in general, will find something to like about it, too. (As well as my fellow gen lovers!)

So yeah, as always, thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

My Links:

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “Thornhedge”

Here I am! With the moderately rare double post! What can I say? There’s a few books releasing in the near future that I’m excited for!

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings (and was previously hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine where it was known as Waiting on Wednesday) to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. They’re usually books that have not yet been released.

This week’s book is:

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher!

I absolutely love a good fairytale retelling or what-if story. There’s so much potential with them! And this one seems pretty interesting. Plus, I really liked What Moves the Dead, and I want to read more T. Kingfisher stuff.

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

Are you looking forward to Thornhedge? Have you read other T. Kingfisher books? What books are you looking forward to coming out in the near future?

As always, thank you all so much for reading, and I really hope that you have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“Cress” by Marissa Meyer: Book Review

“Maybe great, epic romances don’t just happen. We have to make them ourselves.”

Rapunzel and the Satellite | Cress by Marissa Meyer [Book Review]

★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

The #1 New York Times Bestselling Series

In this third book in Marissa Meyer’s bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she’s just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she’d ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

NOTE: I’ve reviewed the first two books in The Lunar Chronicles. You can read them both here:

Cinder Review | Scarlet Review

The Summary Checks Out

Now that’s a good summary. Does what it’s supposed to. Doesn’t falsely describe the book in any way. It’s a very accurate depiction of what lies in store in the novel. (Unlike some books. Ugh.)

Cress is a 2014 novel written by Marissa Meyer, and is the third book in The Lunar Chronicles. (It’s also published by Feiwel & Friends, and is 552 pages.) This time, it formally introduces sci-fi Rapunzel as a major character, but also continues with the overarching story introduced in Cinder.

The Characters are Once Again the Stars of the Show



“Do you think it was destiny that brought us together?”

He squinted and, after a thoughtful moment, shook his head. “No. I’m pretty sure it was Cinder.”

Meyer has a knack for writing likable and interesting characters, and that continues with this book. Funnily enough, all of the major characters in the novel had already been introduced to us in Cinder and Scarlet. Even this novel’s titular protagonist – Cress.

Cress is a character that I was initially not very fond of. She was mildly interesting, but I just didn’t care for her personality at first. She was just too… innocent, I guess. And innocent-type characters tend to hit or miss for me. But she grows and evolves a lot throughout the book, and I really ended up liking the Cress in the last third of the book.

Thorne was introduced in Scarlet, and was also a key character there. We didn’t really know that much about him until this book though, and his character and personality really shine through even more here. He also has a decent amount of character development, which was nice to see.

“Come on, Iko.”

Iko was still hiding, hugging herself self-consciously. “Is he looking?”

Kai raised an eyebrow.

“He’s not looking,” said Cinder.

A hesitation. “Are you sure?”

Cinder gestured exasperatedly at Kai. “You’re not looking.”

He cast his eyes to the ceiling. “Oh, for all the stars.” Crossing his arms, he turned his back on them.

Cinder and Kai were doing their things, which were very similar things, but were doing them thousands of miles apart from one another. (Until they weren’t.) They both had things about themselves and each other that they had to grapple with, but I was pleased with the results.

Iko was a joy to read about as always, but that goes without saying.

Despite being our hot couple from the last book, Wolf and Scarlet really didn’t do much in Cress. Especially Scarlet. She has very few POVs compared to everyone else here, and she doesn’t really do a lot, or appear that often, after the first third of the book.

The Plot was Fun (…Once It Got Going)

“If you honestly believe that,” said Thorne, stowing the gun again, “then you really don’t recognize true value when you see it.”

This book had a much slower start compared to its predecessors. And that made it more difficult to get into. It wasn’t until over a quarter of the way through that things really started happening.

As with the first two, there’s a lot of references to story beats from the original fairytale: Cress escaping from her “tower,” Thorne going blind, Thorne’s name being a reference to how the prince is actually blinded in Rapunzel, wandering through a desert. There’s a lot. And I knew a bunch of it going in, so I was very excited to see it all play out.

I really like how we’re kind of going around the globe in this series. It makes the setting and Meyer’s world building even better to behold. We haven’t seen hardly anything of Luna (Earth’s terraformed moon) yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing more of it in Winter.

Final Thoughts

It always came back to love. More than freedom, more than acceptance—love. True love, like they sang about in the second era. The kind that filled up a person’s soul. The kind that lent itself to dramatic gestures and sacrifices. The kind that was irresistible and all-encompassing.

Cress was something I started reading quite a while ago, after reading it’s two prequels, and even though I’ve had a bit of a tumultuous reading experience with it, I’ve always been determined to finish it. And I’m very happy that I did. It was a fantastic read overall, and I highly recommend fans of the series to continue on with book three.

The Lunar Chronicles is such a fun and interesting series as a whole, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends when I read Winter. And I’ll also maybe read Fairest and Stars Above eventually too sometime. I don’t know yet, though.

Anyway, thanks so much for reading, and have an amazing day/night!

See ya ~Mar

LINKS: Goodreads | Instagram

Book Review: “Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik

The real story isn’t half as pretty as the one you’ve heard.

Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Length: 466 pages

Genres: Fantasy, Fiction

Release Date: July 10, 2018


With the Nebula Award-winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk–grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh–Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. She will face an impossible challenge and, along with two unlikely allies, uncover a secret that threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike.

My Review

Star Rating: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

And at the end of the day she would pour a lake of pennies onto the floor and roll them into paper to turn them into silver.

I really enjoyed this book. I had hoped that it would be so, but I’m usually not into slower paced novels. But I did like it. A lot.

The Characters

The characters were the real stars of this book. Yes, there’s a plot too, and a very compelling one; and the setting is very interesting. But the characters were what carried Spinning Silver.

There are several character POVs here, all of which are in first person, but there are three that stick out to the most. Miryem, the main protagonist, as well as Wanda, and Irina. They all have their own crucial part to play in the narrative, and I loved seeing their individual B Plots intersect and build on one another, weaving together the much bigger A Plot.

I realize that I just made it seem like this is a pretty complicated story, but trust me, it actually isn’t really. It’s actually a relatively simple main plot. The characters and setting are just so well-realized that it seems a bit more complex than it actually is.

“There are men who are wolves inside, and want to eat up other people to fill their bellies. That was what was in your house with you, all your life. But here you are with your brothers, and you are not eaten up, and there is not a wolf inside you. You have fed each other, and you have kept the wolf away. That is all we can do for each other in the world, to keep the wolf away.”

Getting back to before my little tangent: the characters. As I said, out of the three girls’ POVs, Miryem is definitely what I’d consider to be the main character. She seems cold-hearted without context, and she definitely has hardened her heart some. But that’s a result of years of frustration, mistreatment and prejudice by her village, and near-starvation. In reality, she’s one of the kinder characters in the novel.

Wanda was also a very interesting point of view, because of all the ways her family-life (and just life in general) differs from Miryem’s. The same can absolutely be said for Irina. All three young women lived very different lifestyles growing up, due to their differing statuses, and it molded them into the characters that we read about.

I also liked seeing how all three of their lives and stories ended up colliding. Novik carefully wove an incredible story wherein the threads of the plot are cleverly woven into each of the characters in the book. Even the ones that don’t have many point-of-view sections, or any whatsoever. (I especially 100% stan Stepon. And anybody who doesn’t stan that adorable child is wrong.) Novik made sure that none of the characters were unnecessary or extraneous. Everyone felt like they had their own roles to play.

The Romance

He let go both my hands and stepped back and in a deep graceful courtesy went down on one knee before me and bowed his head, and said, “Lady, though you choose a home in the sunlit world, you are a Staryk queen indeed.”

And I absolutely have to talk about the romance. Or lack thereof. It’s complicated, okay? It’s not really apparent at first – okay, for anyone who’s familiar with romance tropes, it totally is. What I actually mean is, it didn’t feel like a slow-burn, or really romantic at all, until rather close to the end. But the love interests were very interesting and complex, and it’s very obvious from the get-go that there’s sot more going on under the surface for the boys than it seems. I’m not going to spoil anything though.

I also appreciated how unnatural the Staryk (the ice fairies) appeared to behave compared to the humans. Their dialogue seemed so archaic compared that between the humans, and the way they were described to move, and carry the cold with them. Not to mention the magical environmental changes that would happen every time the Staryk king would show up. But yeah, after ACOTAR, this was refreshing to read.

Stuff I Didn’t Like As Much

But yeah, before I wrap up this review, I guess I should mention any criticisms I had with Spinning Silver. Hmm… Well, I guess the writing style slowed down the read for me. And it made the book difficult to come back to, every time I went back to read a chunk of it.

But that’s kind of a me thing, only. Those who enjoy slower paced books with wordier prose will probably love this. But that’s kind of my only gripe with the novel.

Final Thoughts

So yeah, I really liked Spinning Silver and I definitely recommend it to fantasy lovers, and those who enjoy fairytale retellings. (Cuz this is also a Rumplestilskin retelling. Forgot to mention that. Whoops.) (I also adore how unique it and Gilded are from one another, despite how both are retellings of Rumplestilskin.)

I also didn’t really have a chance to mention it above, but the ending was my favorite thing about this novel. It was just so good. I can’t say anything about it, because that would spoil absolutely everything, but I will say that the character development really shines through, and all of the little plot threads appear to be neatly tied up. But yeah, this is an absolutely fantastic book, with great prose, and a really wonderful wintery read.

Thanks for reading, and gave an awesome day/night! Tune in next time for more bookish things!

~ Mar ~

Retrospective Review: Among the Beasts and Briars

Briars, brambles, bones, and blossom, I smell a girl who can’t be forgotten.

It’s been weeks since I last ruminated on a book from my past. So, I thought that it was beyond high time for me to another reading retrospective. This time, I’m retroactively reviewing Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston.

Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston

Length: 352 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale, Romance

Release Date: October 20, 2020

Book Description

Cerys is safe in the Kingdom of Aloriya. Here there are no droughts, disease, or famine, and peace is everlasting. It has been this way for hundreds of years, since the first king made a bargain with the Lady who ruled the forest that borders the kingdom. But as Aloriya prospered, the woods grew dark, cursed, and forbidden.

Cerys knows this all too well: When she was young, she barely escaped as the woods killed her friends and her mother. Now Cerys carries a small bit of the curse—the magic—in her blood, a reminder of the day she lost everything.

As a new queen is crowned, however, things long hidden in the woods descend on the kingdom itself. Cerys is forced on the run, her only companions a small and irritating fox from the royal garden and the magic in her veins. It’s up to her to find the legendary Lady of the Wilds and beg for a way to save her home.

But the road is darker and more dangerous than she knows, and as secrets from the past are uncovered amid the teeth and roots of the forest, it’s going to take everything she has just to survive.

My Review

Then: ★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

Now: ★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

I always thought that gardeners’ daughters couldn’t thrive where our roots didn’t grow. But maybe we were like dandelion tuffs.

I love, love, loved this book when I first read it twice years ago, and I still love, love, love it now. It was a wonderful fall fairytale, and I regret completely that I never made a fall vibes book recommendation list like I did for Halloween and winter, so that I could recommend it. (Maybe something for next year? Hmm…)

The vibes and prose in this book are – as I said before – absolutely perfect for autumn. Personally, I recommend the days leading up to Thanksgiving, if you have the time. It just feels the most like fall during that time to me, and since this book embodies the season so well… you get it.

Anyway, like I said, the prose and writing in this book was fantastic. I love the way that Poston describes things. It presents such a wonderful visual.

The leaves on the trees we approached were a molten gold, like an artist had taken a sunset and poured it over the forest, and the crisp smell of the coming winter floated on the autumn breeze. It was early afternoon, and the birds sang bright and loud in the treetops.

See? An absolutely beautiful description. And just one of many, I might add.

The story and characters were also great. I loved Cerys. I loved how she wasn’t a so-called “strong female protagonist” and that, even though she had a strange power via a curse, she never felt “special.” She just felt like a nice girl trying her best to fulfill her mission. Fox was a fantastic personality for Cerys to interact with, and I loved his POV sections just as much as Cerys’, if not more. He just had the right amount of sass to be both hilarious and compelling.

The plot was also fantastic. It wasn’t super complex, but I loved the fairytale inspired aspect of it, as well as how it never slowed down or dragged at any point. I also loved how the forest was essentially a character in its own right – the lush descriptions really made it feel like one too.

She said that the people who die never really leave. That we carry them with every breath we take, until the wind itself is gone.

Anyway, yeah, this book was still just as good as the first time, and I completely recommend it. Definitely check it out if you haven’t read it – it’s a wonderful fairytale-like story. Pair it with some fall scents, a warm blanket, and some hot chocolate, and everything will be more than perfect when you read it. Thanks, as always, for reading, and join me next time for more bookish things.

Gold Spinners & Ghastly Spirits | Gilded by Marissa Meyer [A Book Review]

“Not every story is willing to reveal itself right away. Some of them are bashful.”

About This Book

Title & Author: Gilded by Marissa Meyer

Series: Gilded Duology

Length: 512 pages

Publication: Feiwel & Friends [November 2, 2021]

Book Description

Long ago, cursed by the god of lies, a poor miller’s daughter has developed a talent for spinning stories that are fantastical and spellbinding and entirely untrue.

Or so everyone believes.

When one of Serilda’s outlandish tales draws the attention of the sinister Erlking and his undead hunters, she finds herself swept away into a grim world where ghouls and phantoms prowl the earth and hollow-eyed ravens track her every move. The king orders Serilda to complete the impossible task of spinning straw into gold, or be killed for telling falsehoods. In her desperation, Serilda unwittingly summons a mysterious boy to her aid. He agrees to help her… for a price. Love isn’t meant to be part of the bargain.

Soon Serilda realizes that there is more than one secret hidden in the castle walls, including an ancient curse that must be broken if she hopes to end the tyranny of the king and his wild hunt forever.

My Review

Star Rating: 🌾🌾🌾🌾🌾 • 5 / 5 bundles of gilded straw (yes I know it’s the wheat emoji. shut up.)

“As I understand,” she said, “gold has caused as many problems as it has ever solved.”

I absolutely adored this book. Marissa Meyer has done it again – she’s written yet another amazing retelling of a classic fairytale.

I’ll admit it: I’ve never actually finished The Lunar Chronicles, though I have read the majority of the series. I loved the sci-fi twist on the magic and such. But I just never had the time to finish reading TLC when I was first reading it. Perhaps I’ll come back to it one day…

Anyway, back to Gilded. I definitely liked it just as much as the TLC books I read, probably ever more so. This time Meyer goes full fantasy with a novel packed full of dark-fairytale creatures, ghosts, curses, and even hellhounds. It’s amazing.

Now if you haven’t guessed by the book’s title, which alludes to gold, this is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. It’s very different from the original fairytale, though. Sure it’s got the bare-bones spinning straw into gold deal – along with a couple other things that are spoilers – but Meyer adds so many more subplots and characters that are entirely wonderful and original.

The characters are fantastic in Gilded, as per the usual with Meyer. Serilda 📖 is a great protagonist, and I loved her neverending mischievous streak. She does make a few pretty stupid decisions – that seem to only happen for the plot to continue which I hate – but this is only part one of two in a duology, so it can be forgiven (for now), and chalked up as arrogance.

“I know I’ve barely met you,” he said, his voice fighting not to tremble, “but I can tell that you are worth all the bad luck in the world.”

Gild 💛 , Serilda’s new friend (and possibly more?? 😉), is a total sweetheart. I’m so tired of the “bad boy” archetype that’s so often used in YA – wherein it’s especially popular – and Gild is the furthest thing from that. He’s kind, brave, supportive, and loves to joke around. And his relationship and banter with Serilda are absolutely fantastic. I look forward to more of him in the sequel.

The Erlking is a big ol’ a-hole. I’m sorry, there’s just no other way of putting that. But he’s the villain of the story, so it totally makes sense that he would be. He’s cruel, does whatever he wants, and goes on a magic hunt every full moon to kidnap and kill humans and beasts alike. That’s where all the ghosts in the book come from, see.

The Erlking and Serilda become acquainted during one of those hunts: she saves a couple of forest spirits that he considers his “prey.” She tricks him into sparing her life by convincing him that she can spin straw into gold. This comes back to bite her, however, when he returns on the next moon, expecting her to do just that for him.

Anyway, this book was absolutely fantastic, and a great fairytale retelling. It’s sooo good, and I can’t wait for the sequel that’s coming out.

Have any of you read Gilded? What did you think? Are you excited for the sequel, Cursed?

Anyway, thank you all so much for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!