NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – AUGUST 6, 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.


SAY YOU STILL LOVE ME by K.A. Tucker is a second chance romance that flips between present-day, where the hero doesn’t remember the heroine, and their past time at summer camp as they fall in love. Look for Hollis’ review on the blog tomorrow!

THE TURN OF THE KEY by Ruth Ware is out today. I’ll admit I haven’t read anything by this author before but all my mystery/thriller buddies seem to love her!

THE DRAGON REPUBLIC by R.F. Kuang is the sequel to the much-loved THE POPPY WAR. I still haven’t read book one but it is literally on my library hold list. This diverse epic fantasy sounds right up my alley and I smell a binge coming..

ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane is a UK August release. I’ve been seeing hype about this book of two families and how they’re interwoven with friendship, tragedy and love. The story moves from childhood to adulthood and the story seems to be quite complex. Micky’s review for this is coming soon.

DISCRETION by Karina Halle is a series starter for the Dumont Family. This is a story of a serendipitous meeting between a young American backpacker and the son and heir of the Dumont family. It promises that lovely Mediterranean feel.

TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE by Becky Chambers is a novella but a very full sci-fi story where the explorers’ bodies are adjusted according to their prospective environments. This book digs into the environments and the psychology of the explorers and it sounds wonderful.

WE HUNT THE FLAME by Hafsah Faisal is a YA fantasy debut that also releases in the UK in August. I love the cover and the inside should be just as enticing. The blurb gives me Robin Hood vibes set in ancient Arabia and both the lead characters sound rich and fascinating. This book hijacked Micky’s weekend in the best way!


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

COVER LOVE – FANTASY EDITION

This post doesn’t need much more introduction than the title, really. We’re here to showcase the pretties — fantastical ones. We’re not here to talk about the insides or how much we loved, or hated, the book itself. This is strictly about the packaging. The pretty pretty packaging. And we’re not even going to say anything. So, without further ado, here they are.



What fantasy title would you add to our cover-love list?

HEARTSTOPPER VOL 1 & 2 by Alice Oseman

Volume One

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…? 

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

From the author of Solitaire and Radio Silence comes a bind up of the first two chapters of Heartstopper, an ongoing webcomic.


Volume Two

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the second volume of HEARTSTOPPER, for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon. 

Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie’s gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn’t. 

But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family … and himself. 

Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us. 

This is the second volume of Heartstopper, with more to come.


Title : Heartstopper Vol 1 & 2
Author : Alice Oseman
Series : Heartstopper
Format : Paperback Graphic Novel
Page Count : 278/315
Genre : YA LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : February 7, 2019/July 11, 2019

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


Volume 1 – 5 stars

What a blissful, sink-into-the-story book this was. I was engaged from the first block and page with first Charlie and then Nick. It had my heart and my emotional buy-in immediately.

The protagonist, Charlie is 14, he’s gay, mature but knows his identity. He’s emerged of the other side of his coming-out and survived some intense bullying. Nick is in the year above in their boy’s school and he’s 16 and straight. These two are in the same form and their friendship is just gorgeous to observe evolving. The gentle interest, slow touches and flirtation were absolutely captivating.

Charlie’s identity as a gay young person was handled well in this storyline; he didn’t have it all sorted. Even better, I appreciated how Nick’s character and sexual identity emerged, how he handled his growing feelings and how natural these two were alongside one another.

There was realistic depiction of other friends reactions to both Nick and Charlie as individuals but also as friends, not all positive and empowering of course. The storyline of Ben was tough reading but gave some important representation of power, abuse, assault and broke through the stereotypical perception of these issues for young people.

I can’t describe how much I adored the illustration of this story brought to life. Alice Oseman narrated the story well but conjured it into being with the visuals of the characters and nuances of their characteristics.

This was an empowering read and I loved it.


Volume 2 – 5 stars

HEARTSTOPPER 2 blew me away as equally as Volume 1. This was cute but so real and raw. This volume deals with Charlie and Nick’s evolving relationship but it has a specific focus on Nick’s search for a sexual identity. It was quite beautiful.

Charlie was all insecurity and disbelief in this story, he had a sense of undeserving which was no doubt part of the bullying legacy he’d experienced. I loved the small snippets of Charlie’s family who were full on support and love. His sister cracked me up with her swift appearances and en-pointe observations (sip, sip). There was also a great concerned dad moment.

Heartstopper Vol 2 (p, 461). Written and Illustrated by Alice Oseman

Nick’s storyline was intense to watch and read, full of beautiful emotion and difficult confusion. What came across throughout his story arc was what a bloody, great guy Nick was. He was just a great human, with admirable morals and natural loyalty. His nervousness with Charlie was adorable and these two together packed all the welcome heart thumps, all at once.

Friends had more of a focus, both good and bad in this book. Alice Oseman dealt with stereotyping, so-called good-natured (not so good-natured) teasing and exposed these experiences for what they were – unacceptable. However, this was a credible and tangible storyline where of course Nick and Charlie were encountering challenges and prejudice.

Heartstopper Vol 2 (p.433). Written and Illustrated by Alice Oseman.

I simply could not be more enamoured than I am by this series. I continued to adore how Alice Oseman illustrated the emotions, chemistry and feelings on the page. I cannot wait until Volume 3 is ready.

Thank you to the publisher and amazon for this review copy.

SARONG PARTY GIRLS by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Just before her twenty-seventh birthday, Jazzy hatches a plan. Before the year is out, she and her best girlfriends will all have spectacular weddings to rich ang moh – Western expat – husbands, with Chanel babies to follow.

As Jazzy – razor-sharp and vulgar, yet vulnerable – fervently pursues her quest to find a white husband, the contentious gender politics and class tensions thrumming beneath the shiny exterior of Singapore’s glamorous nightclubs are revealed. Desperate to move up in Asia’s financial and international capital, will Jazzy and her friends succeed?

Vividly told in Singlish – colourful Singaporean English with its distinctive cadence and slang – Sarong Party Girls brilliantly captures the unique voice of a young, striving woman caught between worlds. With remarkable vibrancy and empathy, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan brings not only Jazzy, but her city of Singapore, to dazzling, dizzying life.


Title : Sarong Party Girls
Author : Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 320
Genre : Contemporary, chick-lit
Publisher : Allen & Unwin
Release Date : August 1, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★


I’m going to be rather brief in my review on this one because it was a struggle to be engaged or stay engaged with this read. SARONG PARTY GIRLS feels initally like a light read with vapid characters, I could see quite quickly that that most of the characters were deeper than first glance but I struggled nonetheless to make connections with them.

Singapore life for the rich and entitled was like many that of the young and rich in other cities but with a different cultural landscape. These women were aiming to secure a white, western man but all did not go to plan. The tale completely immerses the reader from the first page in Singlish – a patois of the region which although was comprehensible, it was difficult to get lost in the words or story because I was constantly trying to make meaning and connections between words.

Overall, this read wasn’t for me.

Thank you to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

A-HOLE CHARACTERS

Asshole.
Jerk.

Pardon my gutter mouth. I (Micky) have an on/off relationship with ‘a-hole’ characters, particularly in romantic fiction. Sometimes I love them, sometimes I like them, and sometimes I hate them. I think the key to my relationship with ‘a-hole’ romance in particular, is in the writing and, of course, the promise of any book like this is the redemption. Redemption must happen and it must be sweet in it’s transformation, maybe a bit reluctant too. I think my connection with this kind of jerk character all started with Mr Darcy…

My feminist self bristles at the thought of enjoying a good ‘a-hole’ male character but I remind myself that this is fiction and sometimes I want the kind of read that isn’t related to the kind of relationship I would seek in real life. That’s the escapism beauty of reading fiction, especially romantic fiction.

So far, I’ve been talking about this phenomenon in the genre of romantic fiction, yet I wholeheartedly believe it exists in fantasy, both YA and adult. THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black isn’t named this for no good reason, the boy-man is a jerk to the power of 100. Another example is the Darkling from the The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo; he is the kind of jerk I love to hate. Don’t even get me started on Rhysand in A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, even though he transformed early in the series. This is definitely a trope that crosses genres.


THE KISS THIEF by LJ Shen
VICIOUS by LJ Shen
TROPHY WIFE (formerly THE DUMONT DIARIES) by Alessandra Torre
RULE by Jay Crownover
THE WALL OF WINNIPEG AND ME by Mariana Zapata
KULTI by Mariana Zapata
MISTER WESTON (formerly TURBULENCE) by Whitney G
TWO WEEKS NOTICE by Whitney G
LEAD by Kylie Scott
FIGHT OR FLIGHT by Samantha Young
RIDE by Harper Dallas
BURN FOR YOU by JT Geissinger
BAD JUDGMENT by Sidney Bell

THE CRUEL PRINCE/THE WICKED KING by Holly Black
The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES by Sarah J Maas
OBSIDIAN by Jennifer L Armentrout
THE CAPTIVE PRINCE TRILOGY by CS Pacat
IRON AND MAGIC by Ilona Andrews
GOLDEN DYNASTY by Kristen Ashley
MASTER OF CROWS by Grace Draven
MAGIC BITES by Ilona Andrews

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen
THE DUCHESS DEAL by Tessa Dare
THE DUKE OF MIDNIGHT by Elizabeth Hoyt


What title tops your list of favourite books featuring asshole or jerk characters? We’d love to know!

MONTHLY WRAP UP – JULY 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

A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL by Eric Lindstrom — see Micky’s review here
EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER by Linda Holmes — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

RAZE by Roan Parrish — see Hollis’ review here
THE MERCIFUL CROW by Margaret Owens — see Hollis’ review here
PAN’S LABYRINTH : THE LABYRINTH OF THE FAUN by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke — see Hollis’ review here
DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone — see Micky’s review here
LIES by Kylie Scott — see Micky’s review here
THE AU PAIR by Emma Rous — see Micky’s review here
CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT by Brigid Kemmerer — see Micky’s review here
THE MARRIAGE CLOCK by Zara Raheem — see Micky’s review here
THE FRIEND ZONE by Abby Jimenez — see Micky (and Hollis’ June thoughts) review here
MAGIC BREAKS by Ilona Andrews — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL by Abbi Waxman — see Hollis’ and Micky’s review here
WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power — see Hollis’ review here
THE RAGE OF DRAGONS by Evan Winter — see Hollis’ review here
HOW TO HACK A HEARTBREAK by Kristin Rockaway — see Hollis’ review here
THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER by Lena Kaaberbol — see Micky’s review here
HE’S A BRUTE by Chloe Liese — see Micky’s review here
HOOKED ON YOU by Kate Meader — see Hollis’ review here
GOOD GUY by Kate Meader — see Micky’s review (and Hollis’ 2 star review) here
A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR by Laura Trentham — see Micky’s review here
HOW TO BUILD A BOYFRIEND FROM SCRATCH by Sarah Archer — see Micky’s review here
OUR STOP by Laura Jane Williams — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ star reads

GOOD GUY by Kate Meader — see Hollis’ review (and Micky’s 3 star review) here

star reads

THE HELPLINE by Katherine Collette — see Hollis’ review here
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME by Andre Aciman — see Micky’s (and Hollis’ June thoughts) review here



additional reads not reviewed for blog : 3
total reads by Micky : 24
favourite read of the month : A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL
least favourite read of the month : CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
most read genre : contemporary

total reviews by Hollis : 10
favourite read of the month : THE MERCIFUL CROW
least favourite read of the month : THE HELPLINE
most read genre : contemporary

ANTICIPATED AUGUST 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 August, Hollis’ hotly anticipated titles are :

THE WALLFLOWER WAGER by Tessa Dare is out August 13, 2019. Do I even need to talk about this one? Pretty sure if you’re a fan of Dare, or at the very least a fan of this series, you’ll be grabbing this one on release day!

HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS by Kerrigan Byrne is the newest release from this historical romance powerhouse author. The queen of antiheroes and darker romances, she freshens things up with this start of a new series and with a hero that isn’t quite her usual fare. Look for this release (and our reviews) on August 27, 2019.


SAPPHIRE FLAMES by Ilona Andrews is the first full-length novel extending the original Hidden Legacy trilogy that featured Nevada and Rogan. Now Nevada’s younger sister is Head of their new House and dealing with all the complexities that entails.. plus her own powers that make every day complicated anyway! I’m so excited for a) more IA and b) more from this world now that Kate Daniels is (for now?) wrapped. This title releases August 27, 2019.

ALL THE BAD APPLES by Moïra Fowley-Doyle is a very Fowley-Doyle take on the dark history of Ireland and reproductive rights. Which is very relevant for much of what we’ve been seeing in the US lately. She infuses her twisty whimsy, her magical storytelling, 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. This book releases August 27, 2019.



For August, Micky’s hotly anticipated titles are :

Okay so Hollis has stolen my thunder with those two historical romances because I also neeeed those. Read the same thoughts from me. I am looking forward to a bunch of books this August and I’ve been furiously reading ARCS.

TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE by Becky Chambers is a novella but a very full sci-fi story where the explorers’ bodies are adjusted according to their prospective environments. This book digs into the environments and the psychology of the explorers and it sounds wonderful.

THE YEAR I LEFT by Christine Brae sounds perfect for a vacation read. It seems to have a women’s fiction/contemporary romance cross-feel. It promises to be an honest look at love, marriage, work-life and stress. I think it might be a challenging but satisfying read.

ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane is a UK August release. I’ve been seeing hype about this book of two families and how they’re interwoven with friendship, tragedy and love. The story moves from childhood to adulthood and the story seems to be quite complex. I’m really looking forward to this one.

WE HUNT THE FLAME by Hafsah Faisal is a YA fantasy debut that also releases in the UK in August. I love the cover and the inside should be just as enticing. The blurb gives me Robin Hood vibes set in ancient Arabia and both the lead characters sound rich and fascinating.


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