A VOW SO BOLD AND DEADLY by Brigid Kemmerer – double review!

Face your fears, fight the battle.

Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace. 

Fight the battle, save the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and a magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.

As the two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and a dangerous enemy returns, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.


Title : A Vow So Bold and Deadly
Author : Brigid Kemmerer
Series : Cursebreakers (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)/audio review
Page Count : 408
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Bloomsbury YA/Audio
Release Date : January 26, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★/ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think I’m only actually bothering to review this one because I have reviews for the first two on the blog and so my completionist gene poked me to.. well, complete the trilogy of reviews. But overall I really don’t have much to say?

I think ultimately what failed this series, though, was the villain. Where it worked was that often the stakes did feel high because the violence and death toll was real. The author did not shy away from some of the more brutal consequences. But at the same time.. like, it felt not high at all? I still struggle with the motivations of it all, really. It felt a bit like a misstep because the whole conflict felt off balance. And then ultimately.. I mean, really? All that for.. what.

But likewise I feel like the other characters, too, had their moments with this. Maybe that’s why this series never achieved great heights for me. I think I like the concepts and the unfolding of the story but kept getting knocked out of it because the characters themselves didn’t quite match the rest.

Having said that, though, the big confrontation conflict moment? Confusing. Chaos. Hard to follow. And then.. over. That is my biggest gripe with this particular installment. I had lost the love over the main pairing back at the end of book one, or early two, so I was only into the secondary pairing, and they definitely delivered. The first? Less so. But I think that also plays into me just not being into the main plot? And is why I liked book two more? Did I rate this book too high? Is this actually a 2.5? Hm.

Anyway. Overall, this series had some things to like about it but also had enough that either didn’t pan out or just didn’t work for me. But it also made for quick reads (this one being no exception) and I’m not mad about the time I spent in this world; but nor will they linger in my memory; which is totally fine. I need every ounce of salvagable free space in my brain I can get.


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Family fighting
New roles for old friends
The threat of war

I’m feeling an overall sense of satisfaction with where the series has left readers and the latter part of the reading journey was incredibly fulfilling. Some of the middle journey didn’t always keep me fully engaged.

The two factions of this story were really pitched against one another at the end of the previous book with the queen of evil in the middle. I appreciated the stories on both sides of this but what has been hugely interesting to me has been my own feelings across the series as I’ve gravitated from one set of characters to another in terms of loyalty. I wanted to stay in Grey’s crew and had to remind myself to care about Rhen and Harper. I do feel like Harper’s character has faded a little across the series. Lia Mara still left me feeling a bit ambivalent.

Things I enjoyed about this installment included the strategy, the uncertainty that characters had of one another, healing of old hurts and reconciliations. It felt good to complete the series.

This was an audio listen and I enjoyed the narrators, the atmosphere and the general vibe of the book in this format. There was an early slip up with one narrator saying ‘Lia Maria’ instead of Lia Mara a few times, but it didn’t get repeated more than twice.

Readers new to the series will get to power through the three books and I think this will be a great binge.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for this audio review copy.

LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer

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.
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.


Title : Letters to the Lost
Author : Brigid Kemmerer
Series : Letters to the Lost #1
Format : Library ebook
Page Count : 393
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing UK
Release Date : April 6, 2017

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I am so late to this series but it is nice to be reading the backlog and not only that but reading the backlog and enjoying it. This contemporary YA packed an emotional punch from the first page to the last and it was a strap-yourself-in kind of ride.

The story of The Dark and Cemetary Girl aka Declan and Juliet was one shrouded in secrets, reveals, lies and anger. These two crashed into each other through letters and messages and I enjoyed the brief epistolary starts to chapters.

The experiences that underpinned the stories, slowly revealed in this book were hefty ones but not unrealistic. The story flowed around grief and loss, touched on abuse and addiction and had that hated element of nasty parenting too. I do struggle with awful parents in YA sometimes but I was able to push through those elements in this story.

One of the absolute strengths of this story was the intensity of the online connection that these two had, it belied their ‘in real life‘ connection. What was even more surprising was that their intense relationship was all genuine and platonic compassion, concern and shared experience. There was a low level of romance but it really was not at the fore, nor did it need to be. I think for the kind of genre this is, it is unusual as romance is often the platform for connections in contemporary YA; Brigid Kemmerer showed her skill in this.

LETTERS TO THE LOST took me on an emotional journey, I felt the sadness and empathised with the loss and despite the lack of hope threaded through, I did enjoy this. It was definitely difficult to put the book down. I am really anticipating the next book and who I think the main character is. However, I have already read book three, chaotic reader that I am.

If you’re one of the few who haven’t read this book, like I was, I do recommend.

CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT by Brigid Kemmerer

From the author of the Zoella Book Club-pick Letters to the Lostcomes another emotionally complex, romantic story about two teens struggling to unpick the grey area between right and wrong, perfect for fans of John Green and Jennifer Niven.

Rob had it all – friends, a near-guaranteed lacrosse scholarship to college and an amazing family – but all that changed when his dad was caught embezzling funds from half the town. Now he’s a social pariah. 

Maegan always does the right thing. But when her sister comes home from college pregnant, she’s caught between telling their parents the truth about the father and keeping her sister’s trust. 

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a project, they form an unexpectedly deep connection. But Rob’s plan to fix his father’s damage could ruin more than their new friendship …


Title : Call It What You Want
Author : Brigid Kemmerer
Format : Library ebook
Page Count : 379
Genre : YA contemporary 
Publisher : Bloomsbury YA
Release Date : June 27, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★  ★ ★ ★ .5


4.5 stars

I’ve been meaning to read Brigid Kemmerer’s books both the fantasy and contemporary for ages and now I’m kicking myself for not reading her sooner. I started with her newest release and this tragic yet hopeful tale drew me in immediately. I had such a busy work week this week and yet, I read in spare moments because I could not put this down.

CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT is about two teens who are school pariahs for very different reasons. Rob was certainly in the most awful, heart punching situation day-in and day out. Rob was such a deep, appealing character, his feelings and emotion were slowly and cleverly revealed throughout the book and his situation just evoked all the emotions. Meagan was an outcast for less dramatic reasons but her similar social situation and a school project threw them together.

Rob and Meagan had a bucket full of family issues and they were slowly able to confide in one another. The growth of their friendship was just lovely to observe but it wasn’t an easy road by any means. Rob’s home situation made for difficult reading at times and the twist to why that had all happened made for some unexpected plot developments that I really appreciated.

This story had a coming-of-age feel to it that reflected the issue of finding your own values in the face of some very grey and downright awful behaviour and actions. Whilst the connections, romantic and otherwise made for great reading, what really captured my imagination in this book was the character development of Rob through his family situation. I had moments of fear for Rob’s path and so it kept me hooked right till the end. I could have totally coped with an epilogue to this story and I’m a little sad that didn’t happen.

So, if you’re like me and you’ve not read Brigid Kemmerer, make good on this and get out there and start. I have her fantasy lined up and her two other most recent YA contemporaries.