MONTHLY WRAP UP – MAY 2019

To close out each month, we’ll be posting a break down of everything we reviewed, beginning with the reads we loved.. and ending with the reads we didn’t. Not only does this compile all our reviews in one handy summary for you to peruse, or catch up on, it also gives us an interesting birds eye view of the month and our reads. And maybe, even, our moods.


☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston — see Hollis’ review here
BIRTHDAY by Meredith Russo — see Hollis’ review here
HEATED RIVALRY by Rachel Reid — see Hollis’ review here
AYESHA AT LAST by Uzma Jalaluddin — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

THE AUSTEN PLAYBOOK by Lucy Parker — see Hollis and Micky’s reviews here
THE BRIDE TEST by Helen Hoang — see Hollis’ review here
UNDER THE NORTHERN LIGHTS by SC Stephens — see Micky’s review here
THE TAKEOVER EFFECT by Nisha Sharma — see Micky’s review here
COLLISION by Victor Dixen — see Micky’s review here
THINGS WE NEVER SAID by Samantha Young — see Micky’s review here
LUNA AND THE LIE by Mariana Zapata — see Micky’s review here
HER ROYAL HIGHNESS by Rachel Hawkins — see Hollis’ review here
PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND OTHER FLAVORS by Sonali Dev — see Micky’s review here
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE by Sandhya Menon — see Hollis’ review here
CRASH by Harper Dallas — see Micky’s review here
STEPSISTER by Jennifer Donnelly — see Hollis and Micky’s reviews here
SERIOUS MOONLIGHT by Jenn Bennett — see Micky’s review here
TIMES CONVERT by Deborah Harkness — see Micky’s review here
MY FAVORITE HALF-NIGHT STAND by Christina Lauren — see Micky’s review here
THE GOOD MAYOR by Andrew Nicholl — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

UNBROKEN by Jay Crownover — see Micky’s review here
FIELD NOTES ON LOVE by Jennifer E Smith — see Micky’s review here
THE UNHONEYMOONERS by Christina Lauren — see Hollis’ review here
THE LOVELY AND THE LOST — see Hollis’ review here

☆ ☆ star reads

TOP SECRET by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy — see Hollis’ review here
AYESHA AT LAST by Uzma Jalaluddin — see Hollis’ review here

star reads

DNFs

MILLION DOLLAR DEVIL by Katy Evans (Micky)
PRISONED by Marni Mann (Micky)
ROMANOV by Nadine Brandes (Hollis)
WE CONTAIN MULTITUDES by Sarah Henstra (Hollis)



total reads by Micky : fifteen (hear me roar)
favourite read of the month : AYESHA AT LAST by Uzma Jalaluddin
least favourite read of the month : MILLION DOLLAR DEVIL by Katy Evans
most read genre : contemporary romance

total reads by Hollis : twelve
favourite read of the month : RED, WHITE AND ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQusiton
least favourite read of the month : AYESHA AT LAST by Uzma Jalaluddin
most read genre : contemporary romance

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THE GOOD MAYOR by Andrew Nicoll

‘A triumph of tone, very moving, completely convincing’ – ANDREW MARR

‘A Baltic Brief Encounter’ – INDEPENDENT

Every morning, Mayor Tibo Krovic stops off at the local café on his way to work. He drinks his Viennese coffee with extra figs, leaves a bag of sweets for the owner, and then continues on to his office. There he awaits the arrival of his secretary: the beautiful, married, but lonely, Agathe Stopak.

In the respectable town of Dot, there is nothing the good Mayor Tibo can do about his love for Mrs Stopak. Until one day Agathe accidentally drops her lunch into the fountain and a family tragedy is revealed. In that moment, everything changes.

The Good Mayor is a magical story of fate and chance, of loss and love.


Title : The Good Mayor
Author Andrew Nicoll
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 352
Genre : Historical Fiction
Publisher : Black & White Publishing
Release Date : 16 May 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star review

THE GOOD MAYOR is a compelling, morally grey tale depicting tangible lives in a historical European context. I couldn’t predict where the story was going, nor could I look away.

In the town of Dot, a fairly bustling town in the Baltic, resided the ‘Good Mayor’, Tibo Krovic. Everyone called him good and so he was. He admired from afar, through the office door, his secretary Agathe Stopak. This story took a winding, lovely build from a professional relationship into something more. The routine working day between these two, emerged into a desperate love, with thoughts, little said, occasional touches, many lunches and no action. The feelings were mutual and despite Agathe’s marital status, I was invested.

“Tibo couldn’t help being kind. They warmed each other with those little gifts – kindness and beauty. They are precious. They are always in short supply.”

I thought I knew where this story was going, I didn’t. There were plot twists, there was warm, fuzzy and beautiful love, tempered by pitiful heartache. There were side characters to like such as the coffee shop owners with their supernatural sight and those to hate such as the Stopaks. I couldn’t fathom Agathe or Tibo’s decision-making at times and felt frustration but continued to hang around for this unpredictable ride, rather helplessly.

As the book sprinted to the end there was a rather weird story direction that I still don’t quite comprehend and the wrap up was a little rushed but I feel an overall satisfaction in this read. It felt different to many of the books I’ve read of late and so, a unique and unusual story is always welcome. I don’t know if I would call this women’s fiction or historical fiction with a strong romantic theme, maybe both. THE GOOD MAYOR is worth giving a chance and I would definitely read this author again.

Thank you Black & White Publishing for this early copy. Details of other blog stops are below.

FIELD NOTES ON LOVE by Jennifer E Smith

A delicious meet-cute romance about luck, love and serendipity from Jennifer E. Smith, author of Windfall and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.

It’s the perfect idea for a romantic week together: travelling across America by train.

But then Hugo’s girlfriend dumps him. Her parting gift: the tickets for their long-planned last-hurrah-before-uni trip. Only, it’s been booked under her name. Non-transferable, no exceptions.

Mae is still reeling from being rejected from USC’s film school. When she stumbles across Hugo’s ad for a replacement Margaret Campbell (her full name!), she’s certain it’s exactly the adventure she needs to shake off her disappointment and jump-start her next film.

A cross-country train trip with a complete stranger might not seem like the best idea. But to Mae and Hugo, both eager to escape their regular lives, it makes perfect sense. What starts as a convenient arrangement soon turns into something more. But when life outside the train catches up with them, can they find a way to keep their feelings for each other from getting derailed?

Jennifer E. Smith’s YA novel Field Notes on Love is a heart-warming love story about grabbing opportunities and trusting your instincts.


Title : Field Notes on Love
Author Jennifer E. Smith
Format : eARC
Page Count : 262
Genre : YA Contemporary
Publisher : Macmillan Children’s Books
Release Date : 30 May 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Micky’s 3 star review

FIELD NOTES ON LOVE was a sweet read. It was pleasant, easy to get into, with interesting characters. The premise for this storyline takes a bit of setting up before Hugo and Margaret make their epic train journey across the USA.

Hugo is a sextuplet (its relevant) from the UK and he needs a Margaret Campbell to use two tickets for his journey. Enters the perfect-aged Margaret Campbell. Both Margaret and Hugo had interesting families and they were cute to watch getting to know one another.

I didn’t make an emotional connection with the story or the characters particularly which left me feeling like an outside observer. I found the exes issue an irritation and perhaps a little bit of a predictable story arc. However, it was overall satisfying book.

This is an easy, appealing read with likeable characters. I would recommend for a day’s or weekend’s escapism reading.

I voluntarily read an early copy of this book. Thank you Macmillan and netgalley!

TIME’S CONVERT by Deborah Harkness

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches, a novel about what it takes to become a vampire.

Set in contemporary Paris and London, and the American colonies during the upheaval and unrest that exploded into the Revolutionary War, a sweeping story that braids together the past and present.

On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life, free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus’s deeply-held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

Fast forward to contemporary London, where Marcus has fallen for Phoebe Taylor, a young employee at Sotheby’s. She decides to become a vampire, too, and though the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to be a vampire are no less formidable in the modern world than they were in the 18th century. The shadows that Marcus believed he’d escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both–forever.

A passionate love story and a fascinating exploration of the power of tradition and the possibilities for change, Time’s Convert will delight fans of the All Souls trilogy and all readers of magic, the supernatural, and romance.


Title : Time’s Convert
Author Deborah Harkness
Series : All Souls Trilogy
Format : Audiobook
Time : 15 hours 46 minutes
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Penguin Audio
Release Date : September 18, 2018

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I came late to the All Souls books and have read them all in the last eight months or so, thoroughly enjoying the first three as a whole. I’ve liked Marcus throughout the books and I thought this book was about him and whilst he is in the fore, alongside Phoebe, it is more the Bishop/de Clairmonte families as a whole.

TIME’S CONVERT picked up where THE BOOK OF LIFE left off and that feeling of continuation was familiar and comforting. The twins were important in this story, Diana and Matthew were finding their place as parents and the senior members of the family were equal parts infuriating and supportive.

What I loved about this story was the parallel journey of Marcus slowly revealing his past and his transition to a vampire as we simultaneously witnessed Phoebe doing the same in the present. The past was mostly intriguing but sometimes slow, thus the loss of one star. I came to appreciate the long life Marcus had had when I had previously misjudged him as a bit of a pup. Phoebe was a much more interesting character than I had given her credit for in THE BOOK OF LIFE. I continued to miss Gallowglass in this book and I hope this is purposeful building of anticipation for a story of his own.

The narration for TIME’S CONVERT was great. Saskia Maarleveld had an easy voice to sink into as she transitioned between a multitude of characters so seamlessly. I recommend audio as a format for this book.

AYESHA AT LAST by Uzma Jalaluddin – double review!

Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist 

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on.  Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. 

When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind. 


Title : Ayesha At Last
Author : Uzma Jalaluddin
Format : eARC
Page Count : 343
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : HarperCollins
Release Date : June 4 (US & Can), June 12, 2019 (UK)

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ /  ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

4.5 stars that I am rounding up.

I am buzzing finishing this book, I have devoured it in 36 hours as life made me put it down a few times. This was a loose pride and prejudice take set in the Muslim community in Toronto. Most importantly it is own voices written (and a debut).

Khalid is a beta-male character with little to paint an admirable picture of his personality. Khalid was a bit of a jerk, he lacked a verbal filter, judged too quickly but he was definitely misunderstood. Khalid grew on me, he was pretty endearing at times and he was a man with integrity and kindness. He didn’t know how he was perceived but awareness did begin to creep in.

Ayesha was a vibrant character, headstrong, a feminist, bucking some traditions that seemed unnecessary to her. I liked her immediately and her quirky ways. Khalid and Ayesha met through friends initially and later at the mosque organising a conference. Misunderstanding and chemistry seemed to be the nature of their relationship.

“Because while it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single Muslim man must be in want of a wife, there’s an even greater truth: To his Indian mother, his own inclinations are of secondary importance.”

This was a strong story, with amazing side characters, mostly family and community, that painted a rich depth. I was glued to this book and I thought about it when I wasn’t. The connection between Khalid and Ayesha was slow developing but full of feeling. This was a clean read along the lines of pride and prejudice but it didn’t need anything more. I could have done with a little more about Khalid and Ayesha in the end, however.

This is an amazing debut from Uzma Jalaluddin. Her writing flowed beautifully and I was hooked so easily; I am eager to read more from her and this context.

Thank you to Readers First for my review copy.


Hollis’ 2 star review

It pains me to rate this so low considering all the excitement I had surrounding this title, not to mention the brilliant diversity in this particular retelling, but..

If this story had been just about Ayesha and Khalid, with the former’s delightful grandparents thrown into the mix, I probably would’ve rated this much higher. But then it also wouldn’t have been as true to the PRIDE & PREJUDICE retelling. Or.. maybe it could’ve been! All I know is there were so many villains, so many unpleasant characters, and I was just bothered and frustrated by it all.

But even some of the non-villains were just.. annoying. The drama was really turned up and I know this is fictional but I was really uncomfortable, not to mention fairly rage-y, over the discrimination in the workplace plot line. Like.. no, I’m sorry. I just can’t see that going as far as it did; and maybe I’m extra sensitive about it because this took place in my hometown? I’m not saying I’m naive enough to believe things like this don’t happen in some form or another, as much as we think we’re all above it, but it just went too far.

I think what it comes down to, more than anything, is while I’m aware that most of these caricatures existed in the original, I’m honestly starting to wonder if I just can’t get behind the book anymore; if maybe I wouldn’t even like the original if I tried to read it today. Maybe I should just stick to movie or TV adaptations from now on.

I love that this book exists for the representation it brings, I did enjoy the changes to the family structures the author made, could appreciate the Toronto setting (even if it only amounted to random references to Timbits and a fairly loose, though accurate, description of Scarborough..), but.. lots of buts.

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – MAY 28, 2019

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!

As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


THE GOOD MAYOR by Andrew Nicholl is a historical novel set in the Baltic about a good, steadfast man, the mayor, and his love for his secretary. The secretary is married, though, so this is not a straight forward situation; but the synopsis has a lot of heart. I’m wondering what the author will do with this to make a potential cheating situation justifiable. Micky was fortunate to get an early copy and the review will be coming soon.

FIELD NOTES ON LOVE by Jennifer E Smith is a YA contemporary fiction about coincidences adding up to a lot more than chance. This is a UK release date, as it is already out in the US. Sextuplet Hugo is about to embark on a cross country rail trip in the US and he needs someone with the exact name of his ex-girlfriend to be able to take the trip with him. He finds his Margaret in more ways than one. This was a cute read and Micky’s 3 star review will be up on the blog soon.

SAVAGED by Mia Sheridan is out this week and news only broke a few weeks ago. I can say that the blurb gives me Archer’s Voice feels and I’m pretty excited about that element. The story centres around a double murder that the protagonist Harper is investigating. Some evidence points to a suspect described as a savage, Lucas. Let me at it and it has just been made live, go go go!

MINE by Courtney Cole is a psychological thriller to finish off the releases we’re interested in for this week. The story is focused on a woman’s worst nightmare, finding nudes on her husband’s device. In the midst of a hurricane, the wife lures the mistress over and at the end of the storm things look very different. Definitely one for when I’m in the mood for a good thriller.


Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!

MY FAVORITE HALF-NIGHT STAND by Christina Lauren

From the New York Times bestselling author that “hilariously depicts modern dating” (Us Weekly) comes a sexy romantic comedy about online dating, and its many, many fails.

With a world-famous speaker at their university, Mille Morris and her four woefully single male colleagues make a pact that they’ll all find dates. Unfortunately, Millie has more success helping them make matches online than she does navigating the onslaught of lewd pics in her own feed. But when she creates a fictional name for a new account, Millie finds herself vying for the online attention of a man she sees every day in the flesh.


Title : My Favorite Half-Night Stand
Author Christina Lauren
Narrators : Shayna Thibodeaux & Deacon Lee
Format : Audiobook
Length : 7 hours
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Simon Schuster Audio
Release Date : 4 December 2018

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

I can’t rationalise why but MY FAVORITE HALF-NIGHT STAND wasn’t high on my tbr agenda on release, I think the blurb didn’t capture my attention quite as much as Christina Lauren’s books normally do. Therefore, I ambled into this book just ambling, looking around…and wow, sneak attack, I got all wrapped, up all very quickly.

The story centres on a friendship circle that I found endearing but I wanted in on this circle myself. I think the setting of a bunch of academics reeled me in, as one myself, it was realistic and I thought, ‘why isn’t my faculty like this at lunchtime?’ Reid and Millie were the central characters and they had such a great, fun and platonic connection. But see that title up there? Yeah, it becomes something more, briefly.

As the story moves on, there’s a dating app all the friends engage in and there are messages and secrets. I found the whole story line appealing, a wee bit angsty and a whole lot of fun. The messaging was brilliant and some of that was definitely enhanced by the audio, more on that in a bit. I loved the role reversal on characteristics, Millie was the one lacking in emotional connection and Reid wanted that.

Now, to turn to the narration. This was a dual POV narration and the characters were captured perfectly. The messaging was brought to life with quips and banter. I don’t think it could be more perfectly narrated. So this is the format I would recommend if you are going to jump into this book. I am definitely adding it to my bookshelf as a favourite for this year.