The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

A warrior princess trained in isolation, Lara is driven by two certainties. The first is that King Aren of the Bridge Kingdom is her enemy. And the second is that she’ll be the one to bring him to his knees.

The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom enriches itself and deprives its rivals, including Lara’s homeland. So when she’s sent as a bride under the guise of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture its impenetrable defenses. And the defenses of its king.

Yet as she infiltrates her new home and gains a deeper understanding of the war to possess the bridge, Lara begins to question whether she’s the hero or the villain. And as her feelings for Aren transform from frosty hostility to fierce passion, Lara must choose which kingdom she’ll save… and which kingdom she’ll destroy.

★★★☆☆

It genuinely makes me sad to give a book three stars, but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought that I would. After seeing it compared to the ACOTAR series and From Blood and Ash, I was sooo looking forward to it and bought it to fill the void left by A Court of Silver Flames.

Our story begins with our assassin princess pulling the only shocking move in the whole book, which helps her win her father’s twisted competition and therefore, the right to marry the enemy king and be the one of to murder him. There are quite a few awkward moments and tense conversations and revelations about Lara’s father and his kingdom. Right from the jump, its pretty easy to see where this whole thing is going: Girl comes to assassinate boy and destroy his kingdom, girl starts to fall in love with boy, girl becomes very conflicted, relationship tension ensues just as the action between kingdoms starts to pick up.

While there is plenty of adult language and sexual tension, its very clear that the author is used to writing YA. There’s some banter that made me laugh and the relationship had some cute moments, but there was a lot to be desired. The plot is predictable, the writing and dialogue are on par with someone’s first Wattpad novel, and the world-building is questionable at times. I really do believe that this book had the potential to be great, but just fell a little short. Was it easy to figure out pretty quickly? Yes. Were there a few plot holes and things that didn’t totally make sense? Also yes. But would it be a good break from deeper, heavier series that can weigh us down sometimes? I think so.

If you’re looking for a fast read that makes you laugh and gives just a little bit of spice, this book is a good selection. It was a fun, quick book, but it just wasn’t fulfilling in the way a well-formed story is.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

★★★★☆

“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives–or to find strength in a very long one.”

This was the first book that I ever bought after experiencing the peer pressure of TikTok’s book community. It had so many rave reviews that I just had to see if it lived up to the hype.

Intelligent, resourceful, and unwilling to be trapped in a normal life in her small village, she makes a deal with a trickster god that seems to give her everything she wants. She immediately finds out that maybe her immortality isn’t all its cracked up to be, as her entire existence is erased. We then follow Addie through time in what is probably the loneliest existence anyone can imagine, being forgotten as soon as she leaves someone’s line of sight. Sure, she lives an extraordinary life: experiencing vibrant cultures, being an artistic muse more times than you can count, traveling the world. But she doesn’t really get to enjoy all of these things as someone usually would because of the predicament she’s in. She longs for normalcy, though she appreciated her freedom and immortality; Addie’s internal struggle is even further heightened when she meets someone who remembers her. After 300 years of being completely and totally alone (save the sarcastic, brooding god who helped her into this mess), Addie clings to the possibility of finally sharing her story even if it is only ever going to be heard by one soul.

As a reader, I was in awe of Schwab’s ability to think of everything that could possibly happen in this situation, and how well she wrote the explanations of how Addie deals with the difficulties on a day-to-day basis. Addie has no home (landlords don’t remember she exists, much less that she’s a tennant), no real possessions (its hard to have anything when you’re homeless and constantly traveling), no way of documenting her own story in any kind of permanence (how would anyone forget her if she had the ability to write something down or appear in photographs), no real relationships (can’t be in a relationship if they leave the room and re-enter not having the slightest clue who you are), but she endures in some rather crafty ways. She develops a profound appreciation for the arts and a deep sense of self, knowing what she wants and how to get it. She becomes a stronger protagonist than the free-spirited girl we begin the journey with.

This book is an ode to the ideas and art and love and loss and sacrificing yourself for the right thing. It’s also a cautionary tale of what can go wrong when you get what you wish for. Well-written and well-though-out, its a solid stand-alone novel. I’ve seen it marketed as both YA and New Adult, but it gives me more young adult vibes. It’s a fairly thought-provoking and deep, but its in a sort of lighthearted manner. It could’ve been darker and grittier and earned a more mature rating, but in my opinion, its firmly YA.

This is a wonderful book, I really enjoyed every moment. It made me giggle, it made me cry, it made me contemplate my existence.