ANTICIPATED SEPTEMBER 2019 RELEASES

Each month, we’ll be putting together a list of our top most anticipated releases; from romance, to sci-fi, to fantasy, and everything in between. These releases might be ones we’re counting down the days for or ones we’ve already read and want you to read (and love!), too.

What you do need to bear in mind is that living on different continents we have different release dates. So as a general rule there might be some repeats from one month to the next.. it’s not that we’re just being weird. Though we can’t dismiss that totally out of turn.


For September, Hollis’ hotly anticipated titles are :

AMERICAN ROYALS by Katharine McGee is out September 3, 2019, and is geared towards everyone who can’t get enough of Harry and Meghan, or Will and Kate, but personally I’m just curious to see what this reimagined world is like, and the logistics of it all, with America having a royal family.

A smashing fantastic historical romance debut (!) you don’t want to miss out on is BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE by Evie Dunmore, also out September 3, 2019. This is feminist and fierce and fun and forking swoony (alliteration stretch..). This might not sound like anything new but it’s a concept somehow made fresh because of circumstances and characters that leap off the page. And hella chemistry. Hollis read it what feels like ages ago and absolutely loved it. Keep an eye out for that review very shortly!

THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS by Katy Rose Pool was a fantasy surprise for me. It’s a little bit GRACELING and a little bit Falling Kingdoms and a whole heck of a lot of fun, surprise, and cleverness. This is yet another September 3, 2019, release and Hollis’ review will be up very soon.

One of the most anticipated releases for so many people also comes stab stab stabbing into the world on September 3, 2019, and that’s DARKDAWN by Jay Kristoff. Hollis’ review will be live on release day and she can’t wait to see reactions from longtime fans!

One of the taglines for Tamsyn Muir’s GIDEON THE NINTH was “lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space” and nothing has ever made me happier. This debut is out September 10, 2019.

BEARD WITH ME might be book 5.5 in the Winston Brothers series but it’s also the origin story, the prequel, to what we know of Billy and Claire so far. It’s the beginning of the end (hah) and I’m ready for the pain Penny Reid is no doubt going to unleash. This anticipated heartbreaker is out September 16, 2019.

WAYWARD SON, the hotly anticipated sequel to Rainbow Rowell’s CARRY ON, is out in US/CAN on September 24, 2019, and if the insides are half as amazing as all those special edition limited covers we’ve been tortured with? I’ll be a very very happy gremlin. But seriously, I can’t wait for more post-Chosen One antics and Baz just being.. Baz.



For September, Micky’s hotly anticipated titles are :

AFTER THE FLOOD. Stunning cover, stunning story, stunning debut. This is a post-apocalyptic/dystopian read that feels frightingly close to future possibilities. The story is told through the lens of a mother and her children, get ready to feel.

THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK is also a top excitement for Micky but I’m not going to repeat what Hollis has already said. This was immediate cover love for me and as half-Viking blood, I’m so ready for this.

BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE again, I know, we’ve had hype from Hollis but I want add mine. Feminist, feminist, feminist read alert! Also as soon as I read my arc, I pre-ordered a hard copy. Go!

BEARD WITH ME, ditto Hollis, many warnings from Penny Reid about how romance-orientated this is as it is Claire and Billy’s origin story. Brace and read!

THE AVANT GUARDS a new graphic novel that is gorgeously diverse and sports-orientated, LGBTQIA+ and a fun read. This edition starter really is lots of building and holds lots of potential for future episodes.


What titles are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments below!

DAISY JONES AND THE SIX by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.


Title : Daisy Jones & The Six
Author : Taylor Jenkins Reid
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 336
Genre : historical fiction
Publisher : Doubleday Canada
Release Date : March 5, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m going to come right out and say it : I think my love for this book might be a wee bit biased. Because if you try and convince me this is anything other than Fleetwood Mac fanfiction, I will laaaaaaugh in your face.

Little (hah) known fact about me? I love Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks is my patronus. So, ask me if I loved DAISY JONES AND THE SIX? The answer is duh.

I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else’s muse.
I am not a muse.
I am the somebody.
End of fucking story.


I loved the complexity, the contradictory, and the chaos that is this kind of storytelling. The interview process, the different perspectives, the shift of memory, maybe even the falsehoods, it was fascinating. It felt real and authentic. I could so easily picture this as a Behind The Music segment on MTV — or whatever channel it would be these days. Hell, I’ve probably watched all of the ones to do with the Mac, so, yeah. The picture is vivid. As for hearing, I definitely want to reread this on audio at some point. I want to feel these voices in my soul. It’ll either be an even better experience or, expecting Stevie and getting something else, I’ll be disappointed. Fifty/fifty, really.

That’s how it was back then. I was just supposed to be the inspiration for some man’s great idea. Well, fuck that. That’s why I started writing my own stuff.

But anyway. If you know anything about the Mac, you’ll understand what this is about. If you don’t, it’s the start of a band, of a singer, and their collision and meteoric rise to fame in the seventies. It’s about drugs, sex, longing, hate, jealousy, music, family.. it’s everything. 

I came to hate that I’d put my heart and my pain into my music because it meant that I couldn’t ever leave it behind. [..] It made for a great show. But it was my life.

Honestly, the only thing I didn’t like? The ending. You’d think I would, wouldn’t you? But no. 

Would definitely recommend this for Mac fans and non-Mac fans alike (sidenote, if you can watch the 1997 The Dance version of Silver Springs and not lose your cool.. I mean, wow, kudos, but how). Again, I’m probably biased. But at least I’m honest about it.

Now, excuse me while I load up a youtube playlist full of all my favourite live versions, kthanxbai.

HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS by Kerrigan Byrne — blog tour!

Romantic, lush, and suspenseful.”― Suzanne Enoch, New York Times bestselling author

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days, an all-new must read historical romance from USA Today bestselling author Kerrigan Byrne, is available now!!


These men are dark, bold, and brave. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees…

Famed and brilliant, Lady Alexandra Lane has always known how to look out for herself. But nobody would ever expect that she has darkness in her past—one that she pays a blackmailer to keep buried. Now, with her family nearing bankruptcy, Alexandra strikes upon a solution: Get married to one of the empire’s most wealthy eligible bachelors. Even if he does have the reputation of a devil.

LOVE TAKES NO PRISONERS

Piers Gedrick Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne, is seeking revenge and the first step is securing a bride. Winning a lady’s hand is not so easy, however, for a man known as the Terror of Torcliff. Then, Alexandra enters his life like a bolt of lightning. When she proposes marriage, Piers knows that, like him, trouble haunts her footsteps. But her gentleness, sharp wit, independent nature, and incredible beauty awakens every fierce desire within him. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe in his arms.


Download your copy today!
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JO1z3A
AppleBooks: https://apple.co/2MkW6mN
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/LoveaDuke10Days
Nook: http://bit.ly/2Mh1s2t
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2QFuXJW
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2QzwpNO
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Amazon Audio: https://amzn.to/2HpU53N

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2YWZBkQ


See Hollis and Micky’s double review here!


Excerpt:
Redmayne turned to her, looming closer. Larger.
“Don’t,” he whispered. “Don’t what?” “Don’t try to make me a good man.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it, Your Grace.” When she should have retreated, she didn’t.
Instead, she finished her whisky, enjoying the warm languor spreading from her middle to her blood.
“Good.” He became very still, watching as she licked the last of the honeyed liquor from her lips. The cool of the night suddenly disappeared, the air turned heavy with salt, and moisture, and . . . something more illicit.
Possibly dangerous.
“Have you ever really been kissed, Alexandra Lane?”
She blinked. And froze. However, the usual paralyzing terror that would have cinched around her bones at such a predicament . . . didn’t. Fear was more of a faint shimmer through veins made sluggish with whisky. It was accompanied by another more curious emotion. Not excitement, but something adjacent to it. Why did he want to know? What did he hope her answer would be? Indeed, what should she say?
The truth, of course. A lie would not serve her here, and besides, she’d too many of those on her conscience to bother with a flippant fib in the dark.
“N-no.” She wished her voice were stronger. That she’d had a different, more worldly experience to share. But alas, she’d never allowed a man close enough to kiss her. As far as she was concerned, men had long ago ceased wanting to.
“I thought not,” he murmured, setting his glass next to hers on the banister. Alexandra forced another swallow. “How—I mean— why thought you not?” And why was she suddenly speaking nonsense?
A faint hint of arrogance brushed at his lips. “Men like me can just tell.” Her heart kicked against her lungs, evoking shorter, shallower breaths.
“Men like you?”
“Hunters.” The vibration of the word spread down her spine and unfurled in the most alarming places. “Your lips, innocent as they are, beg to be kissed whenever I am near. Your tongue moistens them. Your teeth worry at them. And when I stare, as I am doing now, they soften and part, like an invitation . . .”
Stunned, Alexandra curled her lips around her teeth as if to hide them from him. Had he really gleaned all that from her mouth? Had her lips truly betrayed her so?
He paused, glancing up. “Your eyes are always afraid, though. I think it’s because you can sense I want to kiss you, too.”
“Y-you do?”
He nodded, his own lips melting into a soft smile at the abject astonishment in her question.
“Since the moment we met on the train platform, I’ve dreamt of kissing you in more than a dozen ways.”
The sound she emitted was somewhere between a cough and a gasp. Were there more than a dozen ways to kiss? How many more?
“We . . . we shouldn’t be speaking of such things, Your Grace.” She turned away from him, suddenly trembling at the edge of an abyss, ready to leap into madness. He drew close, never once touching her. But the heat and strength of him stretched beyond his physical being, threading through the night toward her, endangering her composure. Her resolve.
“It’s wrong, I know it,” he murmured, his voice containing an agony that tugged at her racing heart. “I’m to announce my engagement to your friend this very night, and all I can think of is what you’d taste like. I’m more of a monster than any scars or scandals I claim. But I’ve not kissed a woman since before the jaguar. I’ve not particularly wanted to until your lips drove me to distraction.”
Unable to hear any more, she whirled around.
“Would you marry me?” The idea had sparked like a fever, an idea that could fix everything. An idea that would release them all from the clutches of their sins. All it would cost was her soul.


About Kerrigan

Kerrigan has done many things to pay the bills, from law enforcement to belly dance instructor. Now she’s finally able to have the career she’d decided upon at thirteen when she announced to her very skeptical family that she was going to “grow up to be a romance novelist.” Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in almost every story. She lives in a little Victorian coast town on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State with her wonderful husband. When she’s not writing you can find her sailing, beach combing, kayaking, visiting wineries, breweries, and restaurants with friends, and hiking…okay…wandering aimlessly clenching bear spray in the mountains.


Connect with Kerrigan
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ALL THE BAD APPLES by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. ‘This will be really embarrassing,’ I kept saying to my family, ‘when she shows up at the door in a week or two.’

When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true.

And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.


Title : All The Bad Apples
Author : Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Format : ARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA mystery contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Kathy Dawson Books
Release Date : August 27, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

This is what a curse does : It takes a truth and twists it. It punishes those who don’t conform.

ALL THE BAD APPLES is, to quote the author, a story that “was, in part, fueled by rage.” I don’t want to veer away from the specific history she’s shed light on but for anyone who has looked around, confused and shocked and angry, about some of the abortion bills trying to be passed in the US? You’ll want to read this book. Because Ireland had been living that life up until 2018.

That’s the problem with having a funeral for your sister without really knowing whether she’s dead. Without a body in the coffin, how can you be sure she won’t come back?

Overwhelmingly, this book is a very Fowley-Doyle story. If you’ve read her before, you’ll know exactly what I mean : she infuses her twisty whimsy, her magical storyweaving, her mysterious realism, into a narrative that has deeper, darker, roots. In ALL THE BAD APPLES it’s about women, it’s about shame, it’s about family.

I can see the headlines now. Runaway Queer Kids Become Victims of Remote Cabin Chainsaw Killer, Surprising Absolutely No One.”
I’m not queer, sorry.
Then chances are you’ll be the only one left alive.”

I won’t be speaking much to the plot because half the journey is not knowing what’s real and what’s not. Half of this is about the history that came before the events of the moment. Some of it will challenge where you think the story is going. Most of it will probably break your heart. The rest will make you angry.

I wonder — are all legends kind of warped? The scream of a banshee is supposed to foretell a death, but really it’s a warning. They’re supposed to be evil ghosts, but they only ever wanted to help. [..]
I bet if the banshees were men the myths wouldn’t have gotten it wrong.”

What you should know : it’s queer, it’s family-focused, it’s about grief, being heard, belonging, owning up to who you really are, and is rife with secrets. And apples. Lots and lots of apples. Bad apples, nice and normal apples, all kinds.

Tell your story. Speak your truth. Shatter the silence.

I would definitely recommend reading the author’s note when you finish this one. It was educational and even more heartbreaking. I was tempted to rant about the factual elements that make up the backbone of this story, that are woven in amongst the fiction and the fantasy, but. That rant doesn’t belong to me. I’m not here to regurgitate or educate on something I know so little about. But.. read it. Read this book. And then go find THE SPELLBOOK OF THE LOST AND FOUND. And continue to enjoy the wonder and weird magic that is a Fowley-Doyle experience. You won’t regret it.

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

SAPPHIRE FLAMES by Ilona Andrews


From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews comes an enthralling new trilogy set in the Hidden Legacy world, where magic means power, and family bloodlines are the new currency of society…

In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.


Title : Sapphire Flames
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Hidden Legacy (book four)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : paranormal urban fantasy, romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : August 27, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Was this everything I wanted it to be? Can I get a hell yeah? Did I love this Catalina-centric installment more than the Nevada-centric ones? Really.. long.. pause.

Maybe?

It’s been a while but I do have great memories of the trilogy that kicked this series off. And yet for some reason this one just shines a little more brightly. And not only because it’s obviously fresh in my mind.

Other kids were encouraged to be cute, to perform for adults. If I smiled, the adults became mesmerized, and if I wanted them to like me, they would love me with obsessive intensity.

Catalina’s struggles, and her struggles with her magic, just felt.. interesting. Fresh. Exciting. Her power is different and that gives her role something a little different. The love interest was a flipping delight, too. There are so many layers to Alessandro and I loved how they played off each other. 

I found your vomit muffin. He’s driving a crappy silver Italian import. He’s about to merge on the 1-10. Where are you?
In the passenger seat of the crappy import.
This is a great car.”

I enjoy the politics and the messiness of this warped world. All the side characters, too. Honestly there isn’t much I didn’t love. The only thing keeping this back from a full five stars is some of the intensity of Catalina’s feelings. I get she’s been invested for a while, and also somewhat resigned to a complicated future romance, if any, but it did come off strong. She was just very in it when it wasn’t really a thing to be in yet? Hard to describe. But it only came off weird a few times. For the rest? I was quite pleased.

But what would I do alone for hours with no one to admire me?
Take selfies, kill random people, take selfies of you killing random people?
Is that why you think I’m not a good person?
No, lots of people take selfies. You just do it more than most.

I have so many questions about where things are building, who is hiding what, and the authors did tease some things that I’m sure are to be revealed down the road. Hell, I’m still waiting for the reveal from the epilogue of book three. Did we get that? I can’t remember. Suffice it to say there’s so much more for this series to give us, so many places it can go, and I’m delighted there’s so so many characters that could take us to all these yet-uncharted areas. Want, need, more. But I always say that. These authors rarely, if ever, fail to deliver.

I don’t know if you know, but Leon is psycho. I heard him talking to himself when shooting people. He used funny voices, Catalina.
Your brother thinks he’s a werewolf.
Good point.

I’m so so excited for more of this world and it was such a delight to slide into an Andrews in this post-Kate Daniels world.

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

DEAD VOICES by Katherine Arden

Bestselling author Katherine Arden returns with another creepy, spine-tingling adventure in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Small Spaces.

Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.

Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie’s watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.

With Mr. Voland’s help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help–or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted.

Dead Voices is a terrifying follow-up to Small Spaces with thrills and chills galore and the captive foreboding of a classic ghost story.


Title : Dead Voices
Author : Katherine Arden
Series : Small Spaces (book two)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 256
Genre : MG fantasy/paranormal mystery/horror
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date : August 27, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Well hello, I’m delightfully creeped out right now.

DEAD VOICES reunites us with the trio from SMALL SPACES, Arden’s first in this middle grade fantasy and paranormal horror mystery series. They survived the creepy scarecrows and fall-themed maze, they survived the Smiling Man, and now they are off to vacation at a ski resort during the holidays. But the vacation ends up being less hot chocolates and fun in the snow and more snowstorms and failing heat, hauntings and danger.

Since October, none of them had liked being alone in the dark. It wasn’t that they were afraid, exactly. But they had learned that bad things could happen to you. At night. Alone. In the dark.

Arden is no stranger to weaving magic with her words and creating a biting, brutal, and unforgiving atmosphere. The Winternight Trilogy still makes me cold to think of it (amongst other things!) and she brings that same talent to this instalment. What I think is actually the coolest (hah) part of this series is each book is set during a season; fall for SMALL SPACES and now winter for DEAD VOICES. It’s wonderfully creative. But onto this story itself.

The Ouija board was like the worst text messenger ever, Coco thought in annoyance.

If your imagination is overactive during the night, seeing shapes move in shadow and darkness, if you hear voices in the whisper of the wind, feel someone move behind you as your skin breaks into goosebumps, but there’s no one there.. you’ll probably hate this story. In the best way! Because this book really was eerie, really was creepy, and the ghoulish fear of spirits and the unforgiving violence of the cold is right in your face. Sometimes literally.

Beyond the characters and the seasons, there is connection between book one and two and I was not totally expecting it. But we also see some non-fantastical growth, too, and it was lovely to be back with this trio — and Ollie’s dad, too. Shoutout to awesome parents in fiction!

I am definitely hoping that Brian will be getting some time front and centre with the upcoming instalment and, based on how this one went, giving Coco some of the focus in addition to Ollie, I would be surprised if that wasn’t the plan anyway.

Can’t wait for more from this world and this author.

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

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – AUGUST 27, 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.


SAPPHIRE FLAMES by Ilona Andrews is the first full-length installment from Catalina’s POV as the new headliner of the Hidden Legacy series. I love this her take, I love her powers, I love that more books are still to come. Look for Hollis’ review later today!

ALL THE BAD APPLES by Moïra Fowley-Doyle is the latest standalone from this author whose style is whimsical and magical and twisty and feminist. This particular story focuses on women, family, and is set around the very real and timely subject of reproductive rights.

HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS by Kerrigan Byrne is the first in a brand new series called Devil You Know. While we’re all familiar, and fond, of Byrne’s antiheroes, she does mix it up a little with this one. It’ll still feel familiar, and it’s definitely fun, and hella swoony.


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

HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS by Kerrigan Byrne – double review!

These men are dark, bold, and brave. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees…

Famed and brilliant, Lady Alexandra Lane has always known how to look out for to herself. But nobody would ever expect that she has darkness in her past—one that she pays a blackmailer to keep buried. Now, with her family nearing bankruptcy, Alexandra strikes upon a solution: Get married to one of the empire’s most wealthy eligible bachelors. Even if he does have the reputation of a devil.

LOVE TAKES NO PRISONERS

Piers Gedrick Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne, is seeking revenge and the first step is securing a bride. Winning a lady’s hand is not so easy, however, for a man known as the Terror of Torcliff. Then, Alexandra enters his life like a bolt of lightning. When she proposes marriage, Piers knows that, like him, trouble haunts her footsteps. But her gentleness, sharp wit, independent nature, and incredible beauty awakens every fierce desire within him. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe in his arms.


Title : How to Love a Duke in Ten Days
Author : Kerrigan Byrne
Series : The Devil You Know (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 447
Genre : historical romance
Publisher : St Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date : August 27, 2019

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

I was so worried about HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS. The opening chapters, in some ways, read a lot like THE HIGHWAYMAN, the first book by this author I loved (and unrelated to this series..). I was side-eyeing the story, some familiar elements, until.. those similarities dissipated and this story, different and with its own strengths, emerged.

Loneliness was safer than love.

This book is dedicated to survivors, to the #metoo movement, and that probably says a lot about some of the content in this book. Infact the very first chapter opens up with a sexual assault on our heroine and she spends the rest of the story dealing with the aftermath. She learns to disguise her form and navigate life to avoid touch, avoid danger, and basically any men who could be a threat. She becomes a traveler, an academic, preferring the company of dead men and their bones to real flesh and blood ones. Even though it’s a dead man who haunts her.. as well as a very real person who is blackmailing her over it.

Just who were these ladies? Where were the tears and histrionics? Couldn’t they have at least afforded him a modicum of feminine display for his — he wasn’t too modest to say — rather heroic behaviour?

She and her two best friends from school reunite when one of them announce their engagement to a duke. And it’s when Alexandra inadvertently runs into said duke, prior to an introduction, that her carefully curated life goes off script.

I know we’re both in a great deal of trouble at the moment, but that is no reason to marry a man. When has the addition of anyone of the opposite sex ever improved one of our situations?

It’s no secret that Byrne’s specialty is dark, damaged, anti-heroes. But this time, with Piers, she gives her typical (atypical?) hero a bit of a twist; he’s dark, he’s damaged, but he’s also charming. Funny. Tender. Kind. He’s not an anti-hero, more just resigned to his fate, for all that he’s blessed with riches and a dukedom. He’d rather tend the horses, travel, and be far from the ton and their two-faced-ness, as well as any and all wearying social niceties.

You’re like no duke I’ve ever met.”
And you’re unlike any lady of my acquaintance.”
I–I didn’t at all mean that as a slight.”
And I was paying you the highest compliment.”

Both have secrets. Both have their own scars. And both somehow discover this incredible connection over the course of (you guessed it) ten days. While I would almost never buy this in a contemporary, and I’m sure I’ve doubted it in a HR, too, somehow.. Byrne makes me believe it. The intensity of the events, with (multiple!) near death close-calls, the emotional rollercoasters they have to navigate as they get to know each other, plus the heightened connection by way of their attraction and everything they have to navigate in order to be together.. it just works. In the same way that the secret, hovering over their heads, worked. It wasn’t something that could just be blurted out and I didn’t begrudge it for its existence. Every reason for keeping it a secret was valid. Somehow everything about this story just.. fit. Everything that was introduced was handled beautifully, respectfully, and overall this was just so well done. Even the outlandish or harder to believe bits.

All I’m asking is for you to have mercy on me, [..]. If there is a battle to fight, a villain to face, I beg you to allow me the honour. Because the cruelest thing you could do, is sentence me to a world without you in it.

This was all the swoon, all of the fun, all of the mystery (though I did actually guess right!), that I’ve come to love from Byrne and I’m so relieved considering the last additions to the Victorian Rebels series had me worried. They seemed to be missing some of the early spark I had come to love and rely on from this author; but the same cannot be said here. It might feel a little familiar for those who know, and love, the aforementioned series.. but it’s in the best kind of way. And it definitely stands apart. I’m very keen to read on in this series, which, additionally, had the next couple cunningly teased (not that we couldn’t guess..) in the epilogue. Just to hook you. So, consider me hooked!

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


Micky’s 4 star review

I was so ready for a new series from Kerrigan Byrne and HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS, took me on a delightful, fun journey. It had intrigue, suspense, a marriage of convenience and a real connection. I was worried about the title in terms of insta-love and while it was fast moving in that way, it didn’t feel instantaneous.

This story opens with a rather difficult scene, there may be triggers for some in this book. It was a opener that drew you in by the heart strings and it made me immediately invested in the protagonist, Alexandra. She took her vulnerability and forged herself into a strong woman, an academic, no less.

I love a beastly rogue of a character and Piers (the Duke) was rough corners and couldn’t care less about convention or appearances. His meeting with Alexandra on the platform was all growls and harsh man but he had a more refined side to him. That said, the man on the platform felt to be truth of him.

How did she prefer him? The hunter, predatory and insolent? Or the duke, charismatic, sleek and cunning?

Secrets are the name of the game between Piers and Alexandra, sometimes secrets between characters infuriate me but with this story, it worked. There was a mutual respect between them, equality was a given and I loved watching their friendship evolve around the other elements of their relationship. I loved that Alexandra constantly surprised Piers.

Could she be real? Did he hold in his arms the rarest of creatures? A woman of substance. Of integrity?…One who thrived on intellect and honor and genuine interaction rather than the empty endorsements of her peers?

After launching with enthusiasm into this book, I did find it took a while to really get into it, but by 30% in, I was truly invested. I’m looking forward to more from this series and possibly from Alexandra’s two friends.

Thank you to St Martins Press for the early copy of this book.

GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE by Natasha Ngan

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.


Title : Girls of Paper and Fire
Author : Natasha Ngan
Series : Girls of Paper and Fire (book one)
Format : eBook (OverDrive)
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA LGBTQIA+ fantasy
Publisher : jimmy patterson
Release Date : November 6, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Though the current GR rating indicates I’m not the only one to not love this, I do think there are many who do, so please take this review (as one always should) with a sprinkle of salt.

Not that I’m salty about not loving this. To be honest, I don’t feel much of anything; not disappointment or frustration. Just pretty much nothing. 

I’ll admit that my understanding of this book was totally off base. I didn’t realize it was a fantasy, or at least not the particulars of the fantasy — with human, Paper Castes, and Demons, and the imbalance of power between them (lolz, I thought Demon King was an affectation, not, like, literal) — and all I really knew to expect was diversity and some darker subject matter. Both of which exist. But so does a lot of.. I don’t know, filler?

I’ll stop beating around the bush. I was bored. I didn’t particularly like any single character. I was traumatized by an early death within the first chapter or two and don’t think I ever recovered (how could you!). I did think the evolution of the romance was well done and like the whole long-awaited revenge plot/conspiracy but I just wish I could’ve cared about the characters themselves as opposed to just the general concept of their existence.

I’m.. not excited to read on but I do have an ARC of book two, which I will still be reading, and I hope that the change of pace, and setting, is more my speed than this one was. 

GRIP by Kennedy Ryan 🎧

Resisting an irresistible force wears you down and turns you out. I know. I’ve been doing it for years. 

I may not have a musical gift of my own, but I’ve got a nose for talent and an eye for the extraordinary. And Marlon James – Grip to his fans – is nothing short of extraordinary. 

Years ago, we strung together a few magical nights, but I keep those memories in a locked drawer and I’ve thrown away the key. All that’s left is friendship and work. 

He’s on the verge of unimaginable fame, all his dreams poised to come true. I manage his career, but I can’t seem to manage my heart. 

It’s wild, reckless, disobedient. And it remembers all the things I want to forget.


Title : Grip
Author : Kennedy Ryan
Narrators : Maxine Mitchell & Jakobi Diem
Series : Grip #1
Format : Audible Audio
Hours : 14 hours 49 min
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Tantor Audio
Release Date : August 8, 2017

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Well, it’s beens about two years since I read Flow (the prequel) but I remembered Bristol and Marlon’s connection well. Anyway, Grip (the book and the man) came into my life and kind of took over. This was a book that built and built into an explosion of intense feeling that was a brimming cup of emotion.

No matter how ‘hard angles’ Bristol came across as in this book, I admired her. She was a women who was driven but she cared deeply. She had all the high walls around her heart and I totally got why, but her loyalty blew my mind; I loved her, even when her reticence irritated me.

Grip was a man with his heart on his sleeve and he was all beautiful talent with a genuine personality. Despite his rising fame, Grip was a man who was grounded and he was grounded in Bristol. These two together were frustrating but all bubbling attraction and emotion.

I found the second half of this book so damn addictive and as the book built, my attachment to the characters grew. The second half was everything and Kennedy Ryan is the master of the sexual tension crescendo.

The narration for this audio was overall fabulous with dual POV and narration. At first, I was unsure of Maxine Mitchell as Bristol but she grew on me and her ability to translate male dialogue was superb. Jakobi Diem rocked the role of Grip. I need to read Still but I am totally waiting for the audio to drop in September because I need more of these two in audio format.