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Kingdom of Curses and Shadows #1

The Cup and The Prince

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Yes, 17-year-old Zora cheated her way into the Royal Games, but it was for a very good reason.

Her ex-boyfriend thought she couldn't attain glory on her own. Just because she was a girl. And he was the real cheater.

So she took his place.

Now she's competing for the legendary Blood Cup, representing the Dark Valley. It's her chance to prove her worth and bring glory for her people. If she wins, of course.

But winning is far from easy. The younger prince thinks she’s a fragile damsel who doesn’t belong in the competition. Determined to eliminate her at all costs, he's stacking the challenges against her. Ha. All he’s doing is making her want that cup more than ever.

The older prince is helping her, but the cost is getting Zora entangled in dangerous flirting games. Flirting, the last thing she wanted.

And then there's someone trying to kill her.

The Cup and the Prince is a quirky, fast-paced YA fantasy with romance, action, and intrigue, for readers 15 and older. It's book 1 in the series Kingdom of Curses and Shadows.

256 pages, Paperback

First published October 15, 2020

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About the author

Day Leitao

15 books1,518 followers
🪄 Magic, 💜 heart, 🗡️ action, and 😆 fun!
Find me at dayleitao.com

Day Leitao believes in the power of stories, the power of characters, and she writes books with heroes (of both genders) finding their own magic and opening their hearts. Of course, there's also the banter and all the shenanigans that happen when personalities collide. 😂


Originally from Brazil 🇧🇷, she lives in Montreal, Canada.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 358 reviews
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
614 reviews237 followers
September 17, 2020
"Fail to measure your competition, and you'll soon be measuring your failures."

While The Cup and the Prince was at times entertaining, I found the overarching story nothing unique and the relationships (whether romantic or friendly) slightly underdeveloped.

~★~ What is this book about? ~★~

After Zora’s boyfriend cheats on her and demeans her worth for being a girl, she cheats herself into the royal games in his place.
In a kingdom where being a woman means quick judgement, Zora is underestimated from the start. As the competition begins, she strikes a bargain with a prince, is in danger of getting kicked out by another, and is becomes the target of a mystery assassin.


This is a fairly short instalment for the beginning of a fantasy series, and it’s partially evident in how things play out. For example: in depth explanations were presented regarding varying shadow creatures in this world, yet none were actually present in the book. There wasn’t enough background on the things that really did unfold.

Zora was definitely a fitting narrator. I liked her consistent resilience and determination towards proving herself. As for the side characters, none of them stood out. Zora didn’t have a romance (which I don’t mind, sometimes even enjoy the absence of), but she didn’t have any good friendships, either. I tend to favour character driven stories a lot, and this one was definitely not that.

The Cup and the Prince is an entertaining and fast read, though quite forgettable in its similarities to many YA fantasy novels. A solid book one, though one I’m almost certain I’ll forget soon.

Thank you to Netgalley and Sparkly Wave for the E-arc!
Profile Image for Lucie V..
978 reviews1,516 followers
September 29, 2022
This book is free on Amazon (Canada) - (for now at least). 🙂

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

✅ World-building
✅ Politics / Betrayal
✅ Action and Pace
✅🆗 Plot
✅🆗 Politics
✅🆗 Characters
🆗 History / Explanation of the shadow creatures
🆗❌ Romance (kind of hate-to-love)

"Fail to measure your competition, and you'll soon be measuring your failures."

This is an entertaining book, but the plot is nothing unique and the relationships are underdeveloped and underwhelming.

Zora lives in a kingdom where being a woman means being inferior and underestimated. After she learns that her boyfriend cheated on her and was planning on leaving her, she cheats her way into the royal competition held only once every three years.

“Petty revenge. He was my boyfriend. Or I thought so. But he was a liar and a cheater and didn’t plan to come back. So…” It was hard to say it because it sounded awful, but strangely, she didn’t feel any shame or regret. “I took his place.” Larzen stared at her for a moment, then laughed. “Scorned women. Dangerous thing.”

First, I loved the world-building. Zora comes from the Dark Valley, where shadow creatures come to life if there is shadow. People in her village always have lights on, they don't use any covers, skirts, or even tables because it creates shadows and the creatures can be born in these shadows. I would have liked to know a little bit more about this mysterious curse on their Valley. Why is it only there that the shadow creatures exist? How did it come to happen? Maybe we will learn more about it in the next book.

So… Zora enters the competition as the representative of the Dark Valley and there she meets the young king and the two princes (they are all between 18 and 23 years old). She must prove to one prince that she is a worthy opponent in the competition while surviving a mysterious assassin, striking bargains with the other prince, and trying to evade the flirting of the king.

It’s easy to say you want something. It’s easy to convince yourself you want something. The hard part is to do whatever it takes to get it, to commit to getting it. That’s the part everyone skips.

Many characters in this story were shady, I honestly did not know who the good ones were and who were the bad ones until the end (with a few exceptions of course). Zora is a nice female character, she is strong and independent and even though she is still young, she is not disillusioned about love and romance. I liked her resilience and determination, and how she always wants to prove her worth and prove that she is not to be underestimated only because she is a woman. The secondary characters were sadly a little bland. The princes and the king were intriguing and all of them were suspicious at some point in the story, but I didn't grow really attached to any of the side characters.

There is a little bit of romance near the end, but it did come out of nowhere and I do not see what it adds to the story. It will probably be further developed in the second book, but it felt rushed as if the author only wrote this last part to add a romantic interest in Zora's life when she was quite happy to remain celibate for the whole book.

Despite the lack of development in the history of the land and the secondary characters, this is an easy and fast-paced read. It is a good mix of action and intrigue, with good descriptions and some betrayal, but I have to say that while I enjoyed reading it, it is nothing out of the ordinary and resembles many of the YA books I've read before.

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Profile Image for Darcey.
906 reviews192 followers
October 1, 2020
ARC copy provided in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my rating or review.

4 addictive stars!

Ooo this was such fun! Our badass MC wouldn't take no for an answer (in a good way) and showed everyone that women are just as capable as men, making her a brilliant main character. I loved seeing her progression through the story, and her humour was wonderful! Add in the stunning pettiness and her astounding revenge plan, and Zora might just be my new favourite book best friend.

"Contrary to what stories told, being petty, revengeful, and deceitful felt amazing."

That's my girl!
This book, the first novel in what's sure to be an amazing series, had everything needed to create a fun and exciting book for teen readers.
Sassy protagonist? Tick.
Interesting magical creatures? Tick.
Hot princes? Tick.
Enemies-to-lovers romance? Tick. (Though they're not really lovers yet, but we can all see they're going to be ;))
Sweet side characters? Tick.
A badass nemesis? Tick.
Basically, this book had it all! Sure, the characters may have made a few dumb mistakes here and there, but what realistic character doesn't? I did find the writing style a little simplistic and childish at times, but I also enjoyed the way it flowed, and the world-building was well done, so I overlooked it.

There wasn't much romance but I actually liked that, it made the slight bit of romance present all the more exciting and sweet, and it also left more time for the competition, the main plot-line of this book. I also found the shadow monsters really interesting! I mean, imagine a world where you literally can't let shadows exist. You can't have clothes that cause shadows between your legs, can't have tables with space underneath them, can't have shoes that leave an open, shadowy space when you take them off. It would be such a hard life, and a life where a mistake such as leaving a bucket upside-down could cause fatal damage. I loved the whole idea of it, and I can't wait to learn more about it in book 2, when we'll get more of Dark Valley! I'm excited!

Now, a proverb from Mauro, just 'cause he's a babe.

"Fail to measure your competition, and you'll soon be measuring your failures."

Amen! Mauro knows his stuff! All that the men in this book seem to do is underestimate our brilliant MC because she's female (a dig at the misogynistic world we live in? I like to think so), and it definitely grows irritating at times. But our girl doesn't let that put her down, she just keeps trying harder and proves those dumbasses wrong. And I loved her for that! Sure, cheating isn't the best approach to most situations, but when everyone is cheating, is it really cheating?

All up, this was such fun, and I finished it in a day because it was so addictive! A brilliant book to pass the time! I can't wait for book 2. Sorry for the chaotic review!
Thank you so much to the author and publisher for the ARC copy, and to Favourite Pages Book Club for organising the tour :)).
October 4, 2020
2.75 stars

takes a deep breath

Okay, where to start?

The Cup and The Prince tells the story of 17-year-old Zora, a girl from a village called the Dark Valley, a place that’s been sentenced to isolation for the shadow monsters that spawn within its walls. When her boyfriend tries to pressure her into sex and cheats on her, she exacts revenge by taking his place in the royal games, representing the Dark Valley for the first time since their condemnation. There, she gets caught up with the three royal sons and ends up playing more games than the one she came for.


In theory, this sounds like an amazing story. A royal competition? Shadow monsters? Political intrigue? A kick-ass female MC?

But alas, the execution is where this book failed for me.


Surprisingly all the Minecraft references weren’t the worst part of the book. Sure, they’re blatantly obvious to even the most casual of Minecraft players, but they do seem a bit out of place when this book does tackle a few mature themes. I couldn’t take this book seriously especially when being reminded by my old childhood obsession, but I give a little bit of credit to the author--the idea that these “shadow monsters” only spawn in one part of the cursed kingdom was interesting (especially how it affects our MC). But alas, I still wish it had been expanded on more.

Characters and Relationships

I just couldn’t make myself feel anything but indifference for these characters, as much as I wanted to love them. Zora was betrayed by her boyfriend and took matters into her own hands instead of wallowing, which I greatly respect her for, but that can’t outweigh her naive actions in the games. I know she hasn’t exactly been out in “society” but she felt like a middle-grade protagonist more than a young adult one. And considering that she’s a teacher in the Dark Valley and works as a role model for the children, I would expect her to be a bit more mature.

Griffin and Alegra...I honestly just did not care about either of them, much less their relationship. It felt a lot like puppy-love, which I get is what the author might have been going for, but I barely know anything about their personalities to know if that’s true or not.

The only characters I felt anything for were Larzen and Mauro. Larzen because he was probably the most interesting character in the whole book, his schemes and blackmail and all. And Mauro, because he had the most depth to him as a character, and considering he’s a side character, I think that says a lot about the main ones.

But the other side characters were non-existent. I didn’t feel Zora’s urgency to win the games as much as I would have if I had known who she was up against and had the author given the competitors personalities outside of their physical descriptions.

As for the love interests, this wasn’t really the biggest aspect of the book until we started towards the end, but it just felt way too rushed. I’ve read enough YA to identify who the love interests are gonna be from page one, and this book did not surprise me. It did, however, surprise me on the account of how little relationship development we got. Yes, there is a semblance of a connection between Zora and her love interest, but a platonic one at most, definitely not a romantic one in my eyes.

And just a mini-rant:


It’s decent. I won’t lie and say it’s spectacular, but it’s pretty solid. It does live up to the Throne of Glass comparison but isn’t an exact rip-off. It was definitely a fast-paced book, and I didn’t feel as bored at any point of the book, but sometimes it was a little too fast, especially in the climactic scenes or during the challenges. There was little to no tension, and it seemed as though everything had been going the characters’ way the entire time. There was barely any sense of a struggle, and that in turn made the characters more distant from me.

Writing Style

My biggest problem in the book would have to be how there is so much more telling than showing in the writing. This plays into all the other problems I’ve had in the book (no tension, detachment from characters, awkward action scenes). We often have times where the author tells us that so and so was scared, or that someone said something with anger. I don’t want to be told these things, I wanna know how so and so wiped their tears hastily from her face as they faced the challenge in front of them, or how someone’s mouth contorted into a snarl as they pointed a finger in another person’s face. Telling isn’t the devil and can be useful in less dramatic scenes, but it shouldn’t be abused either.

Another problem (which isn’t really a problem) I had with the writing style is that there were a lot of parts where it read more like a middle-grade novel. This isn’t a bad thing, but it sucks that I have to point out that this book is not the best fit for its target audience because the plot is truly YA and could do well in the market, but there is so much more to YA literature than just making your protagonist a young adult.


Yeah, I know, this isn’t supposed to be some sort of literary analysis (I’m currently on a school break, so I’m trying to stay far away from anything remotely school), but I thought I’d bring this up. The Cup and the Prince does bring up some important topics, such as what it means to be female in a male-dominated space, and I did enjoy the book in this regard. The concept does seem a little bit forced into the narrative, but other than that it flows well into the story. Zora is the only female champion in the games (another calling to Throne of Glass), and while she is aware of it, she doesn’t let it faze her.

One of my favourite scenes was where Zora sees some pretty...inappropriate paintings of her being sold and confronts the painter, who claims he only paints them because sex sells and he has a family to feed, but that he actual admires her. I thought this part illustrated the realities of our world really well without taking me out of the story, and it was a surprise to see this aspect included in this sort of story.

Overall Thoughts

I was debating on whether to give this 2.5 stars or 3, so I’ve settled in the middle for 2.75 stars. It was an easy and somewhat entertaining read, but as a writer myself, I saw a lot of developmental issues that a beta reader or two might have caught. And if this book had gone through professional developmental editing, I can’t see why an editor wouldn’t have commented on some things. Day Leitao’s writing is certainly clean and easy to read, and the world she’s created is interesting, but there are some things this book does that I can’t forgive.

I want to support independent authors, I really do, but this just does not cut it out for me. I wouldn’t say I’d recommend it, but it seems as though many other reviewers have enjoyed it more than I have, and maybe one of them could be you.

tl;dr: solid plot, bad execution :(

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


this was pitched as minecraft x throne of glass and it went as well as you'd expect it to

Profile Image for ★ Jeanette Trinidad ★.
80 reviews25 followers
September 21, 2020
I have received an e-arc copy of this book via netgalley.

Spoiler free review

Two things drew me into this book; The cover (which is absolutely stunning) and the author. This is my second book i’ve read by Day Leitao Star Spark being the first (which I also left a review for) I loved star spark a lot and the cup and the prince did not disappoint! I think that the cup and the prince is a unique book (in a good way of course). This book has a lot of potential and I can’t wait for the next installment to this series.

The plot of The cup and the prince is a very understandable and unexpected one. The cup and the prince follows our main character Zora, who finds herself in a championship competing for the blood cup a cup that can make potions etc. And yes there is magic! The pace of this book is quite fast and a steady read. I loved all the plot twists and the thirst in this book. PLOT: 4.5/5

I definitely liked the writing in The cup and the prince. The very first sentence had me hooked and very interested. The whole book stayed like that. The cup and the prince is written at a fast pace so this is a good book for getting out of slumps or a quick read. Moments in this book were very descriptive and I liked that. The cup and the prince was very captivating and exceptionally written. WRITING: 4/5

I love Zora as a character so much. She really is an inspiring main character. Zora is an independent, strong, fighting character. Some other characters where hard “understand” mainly with their motives which made me suspicious of them. Most characters had a personality and backstory which was nice. CHARACTERS: 4/5

Do I think you should read The cup and the prince? Yesss! I think you should give it a try and see what’s it’s about. I’ll be recommending this book to most people I know! I really enjoyed this book a lot. Again, Can’t wait for the next book! OVERALL: 4/5

REVIEWED: 9/17/2020
Profile Image for Ingrid.
443 reviews55 followers
September 7, 2020
Big thanks to the author for sending me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review! <3
I couldn't stop reading! I highly enjoyed the story, hence the rating! :)

Here's my review for The Cup and The Prince!:

1. Theme
The theme of the book is quite similar to some other classic YA stories. But nonetheless the story the author wrote was unique! It had such a unique take on fantasy and storytelling!

2. Plot
I loved the plot! It was fast paced, it was exciting, it was thrilling and it was so adventurous! The writing style was so satisfying for this book! I really connected with our main character: Zora. And that's all thanks to the plot and the writing style. I even felt sorry for one of the bad guys eventually. I love when a book, a story can do this to your feelings!

Oh, and the ending was so good! I loved how the author managed to make EVEN MORE CURIOUS to the next book! It was such a great ending and I get that people get upset over it!

3. Characters and point of view
Zora is such a fun and BADASS female main character to read about! She's tough and she's been through a lot in one book! I have to say that I really enjoyed all of the characters. They were so diverse and so loveable, even when they were supposed to be bad guys!

We read mainly from Zora's point of view which is great, because you get to know her even better and that's what I loved. Zora is my favourite character!

4. Conclusion
Overall, I loved this book! It was really well written, great characters, good plot. This plot is leading up perfectly to the next book! Really well done :3
Profile Image for Andrea.
270 reviews59 followers
October 5, 2020
Well, that was disappointing. I would’ve DNFed it if it weren’t so short.

This is a typical case of a great premise but not so great execution.
The premise: One prince wants her out. Another wants her as a pawn. Someone wants her dead. And also: A badass female MC? A royal competition? Dark magic? Court games?
The execution: There are princes. And a female main character who suddenly starts crying every now and then. Also a competition and some magic. And everything is written like this. Very anti-climatic.

In this book we follow Zora as she cheats her way into the Royal Games as the ‘chosen’ champion to represent the Dark Valley and the only female in the competition. So full-on Throne of Glass vibes. Book one, that is.

The plot was pretty solid, but that’s about the only good thing I can say about this book. And that it’s short.

For starters, the writing was overly simple, which bothered me to no end. Most of it read like a middle-grade novel. I needed more descriptions, more depth, more background on the world, the Blood Cup, the magic system. The world-building was practically non-existent.

There was a whole lot of telling instead of showing, so I didn’t feel any real tension or development, things just happened and I felt absolute indifference throughout the story. Without depth, a lot of the scenes felt rushed and, without tension or a sense of struggle, it just looked like there were no stakes at all and the characters had nothing to work for or worry about, which in turn made it very difficult to connect with them.

Which gets me to my next point: the characters. They were all one-dimensional. We got no backstories, no character arcs, we didn’t even get to see their personalities. I still don’t know who these people are, their hopes and dreams, the reason that drives them to behave the way they do. Obviously, that makes it a little difficult to actually care for any of them. Larzen was probably the most interesting character, I could see a rough draft of someone along the lines of a gay version of Nikolai from Ruin and Rising in him but, like the rest of them, he needed a whole lot of development.

There was no actual foundation for the relationships either, friendly or romantic. They just happened out of the blue. Relationships need to be built. For example, the romantic relationship between Zora and her love interest could have been a great enemies-to-lovers slow-burn romance, but instead it just felt rushed, underdeveloped and totally anti-climatic.

And then we have the plot holes and inconsistencies, the main one being the games themselves. We are told over and over again how dangerous and life-threatening they are, but the challenges weren’t very impressive at all. Not to mention that we don’t even know who Zora is up against or what the Blood Cup actually is, so that sense of urgency and dire need to win the games is not conveyed at all.

I understand that there are things left open for future books to tackle, like who is this sun goddess Zora dreams about? But then there’s the issue of Seth. He just seems to be chillin in the dungeons and everyone just forgets about him. I get that he’ll be mad at her when she goes back home and all, but it was still a useless plot point.

Overall, this felt like a first or second draft of a great idea. It just needs more in every aspect: more world building, more character depth, more relationship development, more tension. Basically, more writing like this was meant for a YA audience and not for a 10 year-old. It had so much potential but it fell way short for me.

A big thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC in exchange of an honest and voluntary review.
Profile Image for Vedika Mehendale.
54 reviews1 follower
September 19, 2020
For lovers of the Folk Of The Air series and haters-to-lovers trope, read this book!
I was instantly drawn by the synopsis as I love court drama, especially with badass female characters. The story is about Zora. A girl from the Dark Valley, who finds her way into the triannual royal tournament. She immediately becomes immersed in court politics and has to win the Blood Cup to prove her worth. But that meant facing problematic princes and terrifying challenges.

Now I enjoyed it as a read, but if I had to critique it then there are many things I would like to point out.
I felt like the book was not elaborate enough. Considering that there was a tournament going on, there was never enough description or the writing wasn't enough to have the natural tension build up. There were not any highs or lows that had me on the edge. It was a bit too monotonous.
But the strong points I think were the characterization and world-building. I liked how the writing showed through the characters just how well imbibed the world building is. It reflected in the actions and fears of the characters and made it realistic. The emotional build-up and in turn the way situations unravel was done very well and made me want to keep reading!

So in the end, it was a good enjoyable read! Happy Reading!
p.s. I will be posting a review of the book tomorrow on my Bookstagram, feel free to drop in and check it out!
Profile Image for Bash .
90 reviews13 followers
October 6, 2020
I’d like to thank the publisher for giving me “The Cup and The Prince” in exchange for my honest review.

The cup and the prince is about Zora, a girl of seventeen years old, she lives in the Dark Valley, the worst place in the kingdom because the shadows creatures spawn from the dark and attack the people, so the jobs are to defeat every shadow.
Zora it’s the girlfriend of Seth, the chosen one to go to represent the Dark Valley in the games of the kingdom, until she found out about something that makes her want revenge.

that's the only way I could describe it with no spoilers.

The book was intriguing and well-paced, I never wanted to let it go and every time it was getting better and better, and I just loved it, and it might be one of my favorite books this year by far, and I really want to clap at the author for making such a great book.

The cover was not that beautiful, still, it was good.
The plot was really good, I was captivated by it. I think there’s something that this book should have and that is a decent final, for me it would have been good to end with an honest explanation, answering us: what kind of monster is Griffin?, I would have been happy if it finished at least with Zora and Griffin getting at the Dark Valley’s gates, I would have been really intrigued to read “The Curse and The prince” with that end, so the end of this book was a little low.

I also love the fact that she was a woman and that she doesn’t want to be controlled by men, and that she fights because she doesn't want to be controlled by men, and she also taught that even if you’re a woman you could do everything a men does, and that there’s always hope and you should never give up, and you only need the love of your family and friends, not any other.

Finally I give this book 5 stars and I will wait for “The curse and the prince”. It was lovely to have read this book, and that it gives me some kind of The hunger games vibe but more like fantasy that I don’t get bored of.

Profile Image for human.
628 reviews932 followers
October 15, 2020
Thank you to Netgalley and Sparkly Wave for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(actual rating: 3.5/5)

This book is pitched as "Throne of Glass meets Minecraft", and it did not disappoint.

The only reason Zora cheated to get into the Royal Games is that her boyfriend cheated on her, thought that she could never win because she was a girl, and planned on leaving the Dark Valley on their own. But things start heating up and her life becomes more and more in danger, while she gets increasingly involved with the drama surrounding the princes.

One of the biggest things I liked about this book was the main character. Sure, she makes some bad decisions, but who doesn't? Especially when you've been cut off from the rest of society for your entire life. She refuses to back down and holds her own in tough situations. Other than that, the Minecraft references in this book seemed really obvious, even if they weren't very important to the plot (yet. I suspect the next book will rectify that). The pacing was good - pretty fast and action-filled, but not overly so. There's even some political intrigue and some romance drama, which I enjoyed.

The world-building was decent, and the characters remained just shy of feeling 3-dimensional. The writing gets the job done, but isn't anything particularly special. Zora's constant paranoia gets a bit irritating at times, but it is understandable. Even though this book claims to be YA romance, the romance itself isn't very important until the end, and even then, it didn't feel all that well developed to me.

I think my favorite character was either Larzen or Zora. My least favorite character may have been Griffen, because of how contradictory and overly 'protective' he was, but I hated his relationship with Alegra even more because of how rainbow-unicorns-puppies-and-fluffy-kittens it seemed.

(Just a side note that this book ends on an extremely dramatic cliffhanger, to which I had only one word: WHY??)

All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who's looking for a light fantasy read.
Profile Image for Malischa Weijkamp.
1,039 reviews23 followers
May 20, 2021
Big thanks to the author for sending me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review❤I couldn't stop reading! I loved the story😇

Here's my review for The Cup and The Prince:

1. Theme
The theme is of the book is mostly similar to other classic Ya Fantasy stories.
But nonetheless the story the author wrote was unique! And i loved it and couldnt put it down.

2. Plot

I loved the plot! It was fast paced, it was exciting, it was thrilling and it was so adventurous! The writing style was so satisfying for this book! I really connected with our main character: Zora & Griffin. And that's all thanks to the plot and the writing style. I even felt sorry for some of the people in the book. But maybe thats just hormones talking🙈

Oh, and the ending was so good! I loved how the author managed to make EVEN MORE CURIOUS to the next book! It was such a great ending. And i cried a little bit.

3. Characters and point of view

Zora is such a fun, a and BADASS female main character to read about! She's tough and she's been through a lot in one book! I have to say that I really enjoyed all of the characters. They were so diverse and so loveable, even when they were supposed to be bad guys! But i got here and there some vibes of oh no im not good enough. But maybe thats just me.

I read mainly from Zora's point of view which is great, because you get to know her even better and that's what I loved. Zora is my favourite main character!

And i also love the Inside even if it was a little about griffins nightmares about Zora. But i also had a little Awh when he met Zora the first time😂. And had a fun laugh at that point.

4. Conclusion

Overall, I loved this book! It was really well written, great characters, good plot. This plot is leading up perfectly to the next book!
And the cover is beyond beautiful❣ And im looking forward to book 2. I really need this book one in my collection🥰

sorry i cant put it on Amazon so i hope this will do to 😊 i've also shared it on goodreads 😇
Profile Image for Beatrice.
84 reviews3 followers
September 15, 2020
read my full review on wordpress

I was gifted this book on NetGalley as an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book was written by Day Leitao and is set to be published on October 15th, 2020 by Sparkly Wave.

I think there’s a lot of potential in this world that Leitao is building. Perhaps this is one of those YA series that takes a book or two to hit it’s stride. Even from the start of this book to the end of it, the world building improves, the characters become more robust, there’s just more *umph* behind the story Leitao is telling. I’m excited to see where this series goes and will keep my eye out for the second installment.
Profile Image for Monet.
Author 1 book35 followers
September 17, 2020

"Contrary to what stories told, being petty, revengeful, and deceitful felt amazing." ~ The Cup and The Prince

This is the perfect series for fans of the Poison Study series and the Throne of Glass books. I love how "The Cup and the Prince" has the similar concept of a young girl traveling to a new kingdom and completing dangerous tasks. Just like in "Poison Study" and "Throne of Glass," the main heroine of this novel learns about court intrigue, tries magic spells, and makes important allies. Zora and Griffin's relationship reminds me so much of Yelena and Valek's relationship! If you ship Yelena and Valek, you will fall head over heels for Zora and Griffin. Also, I love that Zora has the same level of sass that Celaena has.

I loved "The Cup and the Prince" because it puts all of my favorite fantasy tropes to great use and abandons all the overrated tropes. For example, yes, the kingdom, knights, and magic trope is overplayed, but Zora breaks tradition by refusing to date any of the princes. She straight out refuses to date anyone until she secures a future for herself. All of the princes are shocked at this turn of events and so was I! I was pleasantly surprised at that the author didn't rush to throw the main heroine into a silly romance.

I have few critiques for this book. If anything, I wanted it to be longer! I know there will be a sequel, but this first novel was extremely short and there are quite a few loose ends. THAT CLIFFHANGER TOO! I am dying to know what is wrong with Griffin. I'm okay with not having all the answers, but I have too many questions and no release date for the next book. I'm praying that the sequel is as amazing as this novel.

I was completely swept away into the beauty and sheer ferocity of this story! Zora is smart and strong, kind and sincere, and sensitive but also terrifying when she has to be. She has all my favorite personality traits that I want in a fictional heroine! Also, her friendship with Mauro is to die for. I love them! I can't wait for this book to premiere on October 15th so I can discuss it with other readers.

Some of my favorite quotes:

"Forget that she'd even accepted to give her body as a gift. She was nobody's gift."

"She squeezed Zora's hand. 'Keep being amazing and representing us. Show these men what a woman can do.'"

"Perhaps in a way his heart had been broken, too. She didn't think much of men's hearts, but didn't mind doing something to alleviate a person's suffering."

"He frowned. 'No. No. Of course not. You can say no to anyone you want anytime you want, even if it's the king of the universe.'"
Profile Image for Trinity Casey.
327 reviews37 followers
October 3, 2020
Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me this book for review. This does not have any influence on my thoughts or opinions.

5/5 Stars



Oh man, what a pleasant surprise. I never go into any book with high hopes because I think they all deserve a fair chance to make an impression on me. However, I never expected to absolutely love this book as much as I did.

This book has some of the things I love most in the book world: court politics, badass women, plot twists you definitely didn't account for, and a dash of love interests on the side.

I think the book was a little short and that some parts of the competition could've been a lot more fleshed out than they were. As it is, everything seems to happen really quickly.

The ending was unexpected and I still don't quite know how I feel about it except that I'm hooked and can't wait to read the next book in the series. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT PLEASEEEE!
Profile Image for Marilisa.
196 reviews12 followers
October 3, 2020
I read "The Cup and the Prince" in one day, only stopping when absolutely needing to, I loved this story, I fell in love with Zora from the very beginning. I appreciated her moral greyness and her sarcasm, her love for her people and strength,

I figured out a plot twist quite early on, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment at all, and even though it was something I don't usually appreciate, it was done masterfully by Day Leitao.

In general, I'm a sucker for outsiders and magical games or just any type of games, so this book was the perfect mix for me. I honestly can't wait for the sequel to be out, I need to learn more about this story and this fascinating world. Also, more Dark Valley time, if possible.

I'd like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an early e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Day Leitao.
Author 15 books1,518 followers
October 22, 2020
This book is coming out on October 15th, yay! It's a brand new series and I'm super excited about it.

You can find more info about it and buy links at https://dayleitao.com/books/the-cup-a...

It was a fun story and I had some inspiration from Minecraft in the worldbuilding. I started thinking what it would be like to live in a place where monsters spawn in the dark, and the implications of that. From there, the story went on. I guess it's also a little about being a woman in male-dominated spaces. Anyways, I'm pretty sure reviewers will have more interesting things to say about this book than me.
Profile Image for Emma☀️.
332 reviews326 followers
October 21, 2020
2.5 stars
This was a solid start to the Kingdom and Curses and Shadows series, however I am slightly underwhelmed.

The Cup and the Prince was marketed as Throne of Glass meets Minecraft, and I can definitely see the similarities. The Minecraft references made me chuckle and it was pretty fun to pick out all the references.

The story was extremely fast-paced and this kept me reading. I am a sucker for tournament-based tropes and will read anything with the said trope. However, at the beginning of the novel, we are thrust straight into the action without any explanation. This was a bit jarring as there was a lack of world-building and no background information.

In terms of the plot, it was fun but nothing really stood out. Zora had to compete in a tournament to win the Blood Cup, along the way, she had to overcome some obstacles. It was pretty linear with a couple of twists and slightly predictable. The ending was a welcome surprise though since I did not see that coming!

I wasn’t really connected to any of the characters because the story was so fast-paced and plot-driven. We did not get the time to learn about their personalities and motivations. Everything was pretty surface-level, from the relationships to the plot. I’m hoping the sequel will dive deeper into that.

I really liked the feminist themes throughout the novel. Zora was determined to not let any man undermine her and I loved her ambition to succeed. She was a likable protagonist and I hope to learn more about her in the sequel.

Overall, this was a solid read. I recommend if you enjoy tournament-based plot lines or if you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced book.

Thank you to Sparkly Wave and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Erica Nicole.
85 reviews15 followers
January 19, 2021
“It was hope that kept her going, hope that prevented her heart from growing cold. Except tonight. Tonight, she was fueled by anger. And it was so much more powerful than hope.”

The Cup and The Prince follows the story of Zora, a girl who lived her life inside walls due to mistakes that were made years and years ago. Her people were supposedly the root of those mistakes and were forced to live in the Dark Valley, a place that consists of creatures that can spawn and kill anyone, anytime, anywhere absence of light occurs. And she wants to free her people of that constant fear, of that place and the dangers it constantly poses. In order to do that, she must rise to fight in a dangerous competition that could be a damnation or salvation. But there's a problem: she isn't supposed to.

From cover page to the dedication to the actual content, this book gave me the chills. The positive, pleasure-induced chills. I love it!

The conversational style the author used in some parts of the book was neither cringey nor awkward, it was effective. The author's writing style is also immaculate, fitting the book and the genre.

The book reflects the reality we face today. Toxic relationships that often involve manipulation, discrimination, debt-inheritance, wars and a sort of prejudice.

One of the aspects I most appreciated in this book is the fantastic world building. The description and explanation for Zora's world was given adequately and thus it wasn't hard to picture and understand.
The Cup and the Prince will hook you from first page. I was in a reading slump before reading this and guess what---from the time I saw the cover onwards, I couldn't put the book down! I stayed up until 6 am in the morning, eyes trying hard to stay open, my brain battling with my will to finish the book immediately. In the end, I slept unintentionally, shut down due to exhaustion, while still trying to proceed with The Cup in the Prince. Then I woke up and thought: “I need to finish this story ASAP!”...and that I exactly did after just 30 minutes!

The ending was absolutely amazing. And the revelation---I never even entertained the possibility for one single moment, yet the author managed to pull it off, in the most elegant way possible!

This book is full of mind-boggling puzzles, questions and many many ponderings for the reader to face. It will make you wonder about many things (both regarding the story and it's applications to our society) and it will shine light upon many morals that we need to understand today: wariness, meticulousness, digging deeper, vigilance, love and more.

If you are a fan of fantasy, adventure, mystery, high-class romance and some amazing entertainment then this book is your jam.

I can't wait to devour the second book of the saga: The Curse and The Prince.

A very entertaining, exhilirating, fantastic read.

P. S. i did not, and cannot imagine booing you for the ending, Author Day.
Profile Image for Shannon.
10 reviews11 followers
September 27, 2020
There may be nothing better on the world than a book that once you start reading you can not put it down, and this book did that for me. Grabbed ahold and demanded I'd read straight to the end.

If you, like me, are a fan of strong female characters who take matters into their own hands, then you will love Zora. I am hesitant to say more because I don't want to spoil it for you but the book kicks off with a devastating revelation that would have me reaching for the ice cream and tissues. Instead Zora takes matters into her own hands to not only get revenge but to do what is best for her people.

If you are a fan of Sarah J Mass or Tahereh Mafi I think you should give this series a try.

Important note this is the first in a series, many things are left unanswered. I am desperate to read the next installment!

I did receive an advanced copy and this is my honest review.
Profile Image for Stephanie Barnes.
52 reviews4 followers
September 6, 2020
I read this book in 2 days. I was hooked! It was an easy read and easy to follow. Love the storyline and characters! I need the sequel now :)
Profile Image for Fatirah Murtaza.
69 reviews35 followers
September 12, 2020
First off, I was really entreated to get this book because of its beautiful cover and as well as its promising premise which revolves around the strong female character and the complexities of royalty life. And you know the drill, having royalties in a YA Fantasy is such a *chef kiss. 

Anyway, the plot is very clear, nothing that can confuse you because the whole ride is very interesting for readers to follow up. Unputdownable I would say. You can actually read this book in one sitting due to its easy and comprehensive narration. This book is written from an omniscient point of view and I think it's better in that way since it's a high fantasy. 

YUP, there's some magic included here and for once I'm relieved that this book doesn't turn out to be like a typical one where the main character who comes from the slums suddenly breaks down the barrier between the poor and the rich by having an unbeatable power (You know what I'm saying). Instead, what I found profound and unique in this story is that the main character itself holds a very indomitable spirit as she doesn't really possess any special qualities. Her skills are only built up from her usual routines which are killing the shadow creatures and teaching other children how to survive and kill them. Not only that, but I also like her bravery in confronting a head-on with anyone who looks down upon the women's status. I SMELL WOMEN EMPOWERMENT HERE. So it's definitely a yes book for me. 

If you're looking for a strong feminist who suddenly finds herself entangled in the game of royalties (3 princes at that) then this book is for you. I honestly live for the funny banters between the female character and the youngest prince. Both of them have the same wrath harbored towards each other and the fact that they are competitors in a quest for attaining the glory of the Blood Cup is really entertaining and interesting. 

One star is missing because of that abrupt ending and the unexpected blow. The twist in the end really propelled you to get anticipated for the upcoming second book, The Curse and The Prince, which will be released in 2021. I can't wait to start reading it. Thank you to Netgalley and Day Leitao for providing me an e-arc of this in exchange for an honest review. 
Profile Image for Whitney.
339 reviews28 followers
January 5, 2021
**Thank you to Netgalley and Sparkly Wave for an eArc in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changed my rating**

The Cup and the Prince has two main protagonists: Zora, a girl who leaves her dangerous village as a means of petty revenge on her cheater ex, and Griffin, a prince with a secret. Both enter into a dangerous series of competitions, as well as games of political intrigue.

This was a perfectly good Fantasy book. The idea of the shadow creatures Zora has to fight in her home village and her underlying motivation to win the competition to help her people were bright spots. Additionally, I liked all three royal brother characters (although Larzen was my favorite). I liked that Zora was a capable female character with capable female friends, which is a trait that is all too often skipped in YA series nowadays.

That said, the idea that the main motivation for another female character appears to be jealousy the entire book up until the bitter end was a problem for me. The actual issue behind her character was so much more intriguing than "a pretty girl is flirting with a prince" and I would have liked to have been let in on that earlier. Additionally, the ending left a lot open. I would probably read the second book of this series because it was left in a place that I want to know what happens and the writing was good enough to check it out. I just am hoping for a little more detail on the parts that were left open (where did the shadows come from? can they be stopped for good? What's going on with Griffin?) and less petty girl fights and open underestimation of female characters due to sexism.

4/5 stars
Profile Image for Petra.
68 reviews15 followers
October 9, 2020
Thank you to Victory Ediing Netgalley Co-op for providing me with ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Absolutely devoured this book in no time!
Easy flowing writing style , intriguing setting and world building makes it such a compelling read.
Our main female character Zora - living in the isolated part of the kingdom ( the Dark Valley) is a teacher to the children in her community, helping them with self defense against the dangerous creatures that can spawn from dark spots in this dangerous place.
She's charmingly naive , but sassy and brave at the same tame so it's impossible to leave you impassive. (little fun fact - in my native language Zora (Зора) means dawn so it's a nice meaning given the shadows in the Dark Valley).
On the other side we have prince Griffin...i really had a love/hate relationship with his character...good hearted yes but incredibly foolish and all over the place so you get a little frustrated at his reactions (but again no matter the emotion he evokes,since there is one its a good thing right?).
The one thing that bring them and the other compelling characters (the other brother and also prince - Larzen and the third brother and a king - Kiran) is the dangerous Blood Cup tournament in which everyone has their own agenda and hidden motives.
I really enjoyed the journey and the reason I'm not giving full five stars is that i felt the real thing started at the end of the book and i really wish that it was longer(and i little bit more back story about the Dark Valley but given how things ended in book one i suppose we'll have more of that in the second book that i  can't wait to read).
Profile Image for -ˏˋclaraˊˎ-.
143 reviews29 followers
October 5, 2020
I guess I'm going to be the unpopular opinion here, but this was not good.

I had such high hopes for this, I mean, just look at that cover. I wanted to love it, but this is one of the dullest, most boring books I've ever come across.

For starters, the writing was bad. Like, really bad. The dialogues seemed like they were taken from a cringey teen movie with lots of pointless drama that just didn't fit the overall ambience of the story. The book was full of choppy sentences and the same words or phrases repeated over and over again, sometimes within the same paragraph. The word stupid appeared so many times I almost wanted to throw my phone away every time I read it.

The plot of this book was a combination of every YA fantasy trope ever invented, all mixed together and executed poorly. Some concepts might have been original, but again, the bad writing and the underdevelopment of the world and magic system, plus the absence of actual action made it all feel too bland and monotonous. Zora and Griffin were the only characters that had some sort of depth to them, and barely so: the rest were there for the sole purpose of having a large cast of characters that would play some smaller role in helping the MC.
Also, something that really upset me was Zora herself. She was annoying as hell. She was supposed to be this badass MC that was ruthless and strong and brave, but then she literally did nothing to earn her place as a champion. Everything she achieved was by sheer luck, or by using these "potions" that she conveniently knew how to brew even though we never get to actually see her do anything magic related. She would complain that everybody looked down on her because she was a girl, but then she would also whine because the challenges were "too hard for her". And she would cry all the freaking time. Her "romance" with Griffin was as predictable as it was poor. There was absolutely no chemistry between them.

I honestly don't think I will continue with the series, as this was clearly not for me. However, many people seemed to like this and I think that other readers might enjoy the series more. Unfortunately, I was not one of them.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Tina.
179 reviews17 followers
October 17, 2020
Thank you to Day Leitao for getting me out of a book slump!
NEVER underestimate a girl from the shadowlands. When Zora's boyfriend tries to pressure her into sex before he leaves for a tournament. She does the only logical thing… She drugs him and takes his place.
Zora then has to use her wits to overcome the challenges of the tournament while not getting caught in her deception. She also has to maneuver with the three royal brothers who each seem to have their own schemings going on and someone is trying to kill her!
This book was fast-paced and exciting. It may not seem groundbreaking to some but it was thoroughly enjoyable for me after a run of mediocre books. I will definitely be watching for book two to come available to see what happens with Zora.
Profile Image for Marilisa.
196 reviews12 followers
October 3, 2020
I read "The Cup and the Prince" in one day, only stopping when absolutely needing to, I loved this story, I fell in love with Zora from the very beginning. I appreciated her moral greyness and her sarcasm, her love for her people and strength,

I figured out a plot twist quite early on, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment at all, and even though it was something I don't usually appreciate, it was done masterfully by Day Leitao.

In general, I'm a sucker for outsiders and magical games or just any type of games, so this book was the perfect mix for me. I honestly can't wait for the sequel to be out, I need to learn more about this story and this fascinating world. Also, more Dark Valley time, if possible.

I'd like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an early e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
820 reviews6 followers
September 11, 2020
Wow! What a great read! So much angst and plot twists, where everyone has hidden motive and some you do not even know where their true thoughts lie. I love Zora, for she is such a strong and independent character, who wants to prove herself. She fights the shadows in the Dark Valley and has knowledge of potions. After a betrayal, she decides for some revenge and wants to prove her worth. Everyone wants to use Zora for some purpose, which has her pulled in many directions and leads to confusion, frustration, and anger. Each of the three princes has a plan for Zora, whether they each realize it or not. Zora needs to show she can be strong and win like the men she competes against, even though things and events are stacked against her. However, nothing is at it seems and Zora does not know who she can trust. The wrong decision can lead to disastrous consequences.
Looking forward to the next novel in the series!

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Hope Mafokwane.
8 reviews6 followers
September 8, 2020
I received the book from the author as a free arc, in exchange for a review. I just loved the synopsis of it and couldn't wait to get into it. So basically we have this fierce, selfless and hopeful heroine named Zora who comes from this valley which fight these shadow monsters, children are taught from a young age how to defend themselves.

An invitation is extended to the Valley to compete in what is known as the Royal Games. A champion is chosen from her Valley who happens to be her boyfriend Seth, Seth promises to bring glory to the valley, but those are just false promises, Zora's heart is broken in the process and she decide to avenge herself and her Valley and proof that even though she's girl she can still accomplish whatever a man can.

So she steals Seth's place in the competition, which I believe he deserved, he was nothing but a jerk. You know how most YA fantasy books go, there's always a twist, someone you least expect betrays the main characters "my favourite trope" it happens here as well. I remember scratching my head not knowing which of the Princes to trust, but I more especially didn't trust Larzen. There was also this girl Alegra, didn't like her. Don't want to say much because I'll end up spoiling, but just go grab this book and enjoy the ride.
Profile Image for Ines Jesus.
37 reviews16 followers
November 26, 2020
I received a free copy from Net Gallery in exchange for an honest review. This book by Day Leitão is set to be published on October 15th 2020 by Sparkly Wave.

Absolutely loved this book. What a great first instalment of the series.

Zora is such a likeable character. The way she betrayed her boyfriend and took his place was amazing. I love an independent character. However the other characters weren’t as interesting as I would have hoped. I was curious about Griffin and all the mystery revolving around his supposed curse. Very curious how this is going to unwind in the next book.

Loved the idea of the shadow monsters present in Dark Valley, it was such an interesting concept but I wished there was more explanation and more details. It would be interesting to know more about how this ‘curse’ came to the Dark Valley. Overall a good idea.

The love interests weren’t a main aspect in this book (which I sometimes enjoy), only happened towards the end but it felt too predictable. I’m curious for the relationship development in the next book.

In conclusion it was a well written book, with interesting characters. Can’t wait for the next book.
Profile Image for Allie Wilckens.
20 reviews2 followers
September 12, 2020
I read this book in one night. It was well written and a great storyline. I honestly was not able to predict what would happen next as I can with some books. Warning, once you get to the end you will want to read the sequel immediately, but you will have to wait a few months.
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