With winter still holding us in it’s grasp (sorry southern hemisphere folks), it sure is nice to look ahead to warmer times, and reads can help us anticipate this. Spring is one of our favourite seasons and we thought it would be fun to think of the kind of books that give us spring vibes.
These aren’t necessarily spring-themed but books with a seemingly bright outlook and basically not wintry! As we made the list we realized it’s pretty much all romance, fantasy is about strife and cold, dark environments… so romance wins for spring.
Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.
Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.
Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.
Title : The Electric Heir Author : Victoria Lee Series : Feverwake (book two) Format : eARC Page Count : 469 Genre : YA dystopian / sci-fi / LGBTQIA+ Publisher : Skyscape Release Date : March 17, 2020
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★
Hollis’ 2 star review
After coming out of THE FEVER KING with much less love than I thought I would, I was pretty pleased by how strong I felt this follow up was. At least, initially.
My main problem was where this story went in regards to a certain relationship and the direction it took. There are so many complicated emotions, so many traumas, so much grief, wrapped up in the why or maybe the how of it. And Lee does (I think, at least) a good job of trying to explain the messiness of it all, the conflicting perceptions and means to which one might convince themselves of something, through her characters. But I still didn’t like it, and every time it came up I wanted to put the book down and walk away. One particular exchange, between the two POVs and leads, made me oh so very angry. And hurt. So, I mean, kudos for that. But that didn’t make me like the story anymore.
And the story itself, well, there’s not much I can say regarding the plot for a sequel/finale, but mostly I’m just confused. I have no idea how we got to the ending we did, and how it’s going to stick, considering.. everything. Additionally I guess I just don’t understand why the story, the series, happened in the first place? Why these kids, why couldn’t Lehrer just.. I don’t know. I feel like I understood what I read, what happened, but I’m missing the point, I guess.
For all that I clearly have no idea how to feel, despite knowing I didn’t love this, I have to say that Lee’s writing is strong. She doesn’t shy away from darker topics (there’s a warning at the front, and content/triggers listed at the back) and I feel she handles a lot of it with dignity and care. These characters, all of them, have been through so much, are still dealing with so much, and while sometimes it felt like too much, it’s all rather tied up in one catalyst. It’s heartbreaking and awful and while I didn’t hate Noam, one of our POVs, I absolutely adored Dara. Full stop.
Anyway, I don’t know. I feel like this is a series I should’ve loved and, when pitched to me, I knew I wanted to read it. Something about this just didn’t connect. And I’m sad about it. But I’m also an outlier, so, please read the glowy reviews and, if this sounds like your thing, definitely give it a try.
** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
“more forgetting time. more midnight dances with yourself.”
amanda lovelace, the bestselling & award-winning author of the “women are some kind of magic” poetry series, presents a new companion series, “you are your own fairy tale” the first installment, break your glass slippers, is about overcoming those who don’t see your worth, even if that person is sometimes yourself. in the epic tale of your life, you are the most important character while everyone is but a forgotten footnote. even the prince.
Title : Break Your Glass Slippers Author : Amanda Lovelace Series : You Are Your Own Fairytale #1 Format : eARC Page Count : 160 Genre : Contemporary Poetry Publisher : Andrews McMeel Publishing Release Date : March 17, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 5 star review
I got the early review copy of this poetry retelling and cracked it open immediately, I had zero chill. It was a good call because this is my favourite read so far from Amanda Lovelace. It was definitely less sad than some of her previous work and it was incredibly empowering.
The poems are told in a way that depicts a retelling of Cinderella. There are various narrators such as fairy godmother, Cinders and Charming. Fairy godmother was my favourite, instilling sage words for any women to have affirmed to them. The prose was simple and yet beautiful, it touched me on an emotional level.
her precious fairy tales showed her what would happen if she found her prince, but they never prepared her for what she should do if her prince turned out to be her unhappily ever after –cinderella
This book is so easy to read front to back, and I can definitely imagine myself rereading it but also dipping in and out of it. From what I can see from the electronic copy, the illustrations are beautiful and colourful but also simple. I can’t wait to see them in the flesh in a real book.
This is poetry that is suitable for young women and older alike. There are f-bombs that might make this unsuitable for younger girls however, the messages are powerful and empowering. I will be buying this for my daughter.
you are the only set of keys to your castle. the rest of them are nothing but bad copies.
Thank you to Andrews McMeel Publishing for the early copy to devour.
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 HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by TJ Klune is a heartwarming and heartwrenching story that Hollis can’t stop thinking about. If you like queer fantasy or found families or love reading things that make you feel? This’ll check all your boxes. Check out Hollis’ review here.
THE ELECTRIC HEIR is the follow up to Victoria Lee’s THE FEVER KING, another queer fantasy, but this one YA.
NVK by Temple Drake is a thriller based in Shanghai around a passionate affair between a business man and a gallery curator. Or is she a gallery curator…this story is interwoven with the supernatural and a review is up on the blog for this one.
You must have heard of Amanda Lovelace’s poetry by now and she has the first in a new series out this week called BREAK YOUR GLASS SLIPPERS. This book is lighter and more hopeful than her previous books and its is everything female empowerment. Micky has a review coming for this.
Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.
Title : The House in the Cerulean Sea Author : TJ Klune Format : eARC Page Count : 400 Genre : LGBTQIA+ fantasy Publisher : Tor Books Release Date : March 17, 2020
This book was a delightfully sweet and lovely cup of heartbreak, melancholy, and wonder. Which sounds almost awful, or hella sad, and probably contradicts the vibe the cover is putting out, but I don’t know how else to describe all the things this made me feel.
There is whimsy and wonder in this world where magical people exists, there’s melancholy in the reality that children who demonstrate these abilities are sequestered in orphanages and regulated schools or programs, monitored by the government with caseworkers who ensure their safety and well-being, and there’s sweetness in the particular caseworker we follow, Linus; a round middle-aged man believed to be wholly unremarkable, friendless but for his cat, who is in fact so much of the opposite.
“I’m afraid I don’t have magic.” “You do, Mr. Baker. Arthur told me that there can be magic in the ordinary.”
There were so many moments that had me a hair’s breadth away from crying. I welled up, swallowing hard, like.. six times? Probably more. At one point I was almost wrecked by a bloody button. And then, of course, there was a moment near the end where I just let go. Had my cry. I own it. The emotion Klune packs into his writing resonates so strongly and hits even harder because of the children in this story. Sal, in particular, just.. wow, yeah, I have no words.
Like Linus, it is impossible to remain impartial in the face of these children who were unwanted, unloved, or deemed too dangerous, too unique, to be anywhere else but this little island, far away from others. Through the narrative, Klune challenges prejudice, racism, and mob mentality, and does it beautifully. This is the perfect story for our time, our current climate, and it’s delightfully unique because of the circumstances and the rare collection of gems that are these atypical characters. Truly, the creativity of this story is something else.
I loved this book so much. For all the heavier topics and bittersweetness of it all, this was a lot of fun, too. It’s silly, weird, and delightfully charming, full of emotion and hope and love.
I definitely recommend.
** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Micky’s 4 star review
Headlines: Warm and whimsical THE most endearing found family Hurt and healing
Well, I didn’t know much going into this other than various friends’ love for the book and this review isn’t going to enlighten you. It’s going to be more of a feels than a plot review.
This is a totally character-driven story with a very engaging plot in the background but as a reader, all eyes were on the characters. From Linus, awkward and formal to my favourites Sal and Chauncey. Almost every character was special and sneak-stole my heart. It was a story about the unwanted being wanted and it had political and governmental tones. There were important themes that resonate.
He was but paper, brittle and thin, and he clutched the photograph to his chest, hugging it close.
This was a warm tale, full of whimsy and delightful magic. I got lost in the story and really enjoyed the experience. It made my eyeballs leak a little and I experienced that fuzzy feeling on ending.
*side note* I read this book after the stories of the heinous maltreatment and murder of indigenous children in Canada broke and so I entered this story with trepidation. In the early reading of the story, I saw a few uncomfortable parallels but I was able to sink into the story. However, I am not suggesting you forget the premise foundation for this story which is based in some reality, go out there and educate yourself as I intend to do further. My book bestie suggests this read as a starting place 21 Things You Might Not Know About The Indian Act.
A hypnotic, unforgettable Gothic page-turner soon to be a cult classic
One night in 2012, Zhang Guo Xing takes a group of European clients to a fashionable high-end nightclub in Shanghai. While there, he meets a strikingly beautiful young Finnish woman called Naemi Vieno Kuusela. The physical attraction between them proves irresistible, and they embark on an intoxicating affair. But Naemi is not what she appears to be…
To Zhang’s surprise, she veers between passion and wariness, conducting the relationship entirely on her own terms. He feels compelled to find out more about her, and is swiftly drawn into a web of intrigue, mystery, and horror. Is she a ghost? A demon? Do the living dead walk the streets of twenty-first century Shanghai?
Title : NVK Author : Temple Drake Format : Paperback Page Count : 320 Genre : Thriller Publisher : Titan Books Release Date : March 17, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 4 star review
This book could not be further out of my usual reading comfort zone if it tried and yet that synopsis reeled me in like a newborn flounder. It claims to be a page-turner and it was definitely that, I read it in one sitting on a Saturday afternoon/evening. The story intrigued me, creeped me out and kept me guessing. The cover and the title are very clever.
Don’t wander into this book if you have sensitive scruples or a weak stomach. Do wander into the book if it’s out of your comfort zone, I don’t like horror and this was just creepy at times, not scary. Zhang, the protagonist, had a wife and son living elsewhere and on the periphery of the story, they really did not factor into his high-powered business Shanghai life. Naemi’s story was creepy from it’s start a long time ago, she was of Sami/Finnish heritage and she had travelled the world.
The relationship between these two was both restrained and passionate with neither of them in control or understanding each other. I was there to find out who or what Naemi was and I actually felt sorry for her a number of times. The Mad Dog character brought a real richness to the story and I enjoyed reading about the doubts he created in Zhang’s mind.
As the book progressed the creep-factor increased for me. Please bear in mind that I am a wuss with scary books and so for many I am sure the creepiness would be mild. The book reached a cresendo and then ended with a question mark for me. Nevertheless, I was satisfied with the culmination, mystery and the story as a whole. I would definitely read Temple Drake again.
Thank you to Titan Books for early copy for review.
Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction.
Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.
Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.
Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assists Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even though she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned.
Title : Undercover Bromance Author : Lyssa Kay Adams Series : Bromance Bookclub #2 Format : eARC Page Count : 320 Genre : Contemporary Romance Publisher : Headline Eternal Release Date : March 10, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
Micky’s 3.5 star review
UNDERCOVER BROMANCE was everything light and fun. This was a quick and immersive read that made me smile, laugh but also made me want to dig a bit deeper.
If you read book one, you’ll recall Thea’s grouchy sister Liv. Liv was front and central to this book and I found her more human and slightly more approachable in this story. That said, Liv had all sharp corners with a bag on chips added; I did find her infuriating at times. Braden Mack, the Bromance Book Club ring leader was not quite so smooth and accomplished in this instalment and I found him fun and quite lovely.
“I don’t want a man. I don’t have time for a man. They’re needy, clingy and never keep their promises.”
I wanted Liv to give Mack a chance, I screamed it sometimes… These two had epic banter, I lived for their dialogue and laughed through it. Those moments helped me with the frustration I felt over Liv.
I felt like the book club was a little more in the background in this one (sad face) but their use of The Protector was pretty hilarious. Hop and Rosie were great new character addition as was Randy the rooster. The cover is the cutest and I love it. I will definitely be picking up the third book in this series, I’ve seen who the protangonists are and I’m looking forward to their story.
Thank you to Headline Eternal for the early review copy.
A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.
Title : The Priory of the Orange Tree Author : Samantha Shannon Format : Paperback/Audio Page Count : 804 Genre : High Fantasy Publisher : Bloomsbury Release Date : February 26, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 4 star review
There is so much to this book as you would imagine by the size, so much I could talk about, wax lyrical about but I’ll have to just focus in on some areas. This review is going to be more about contexts, themes and feelings rather than storyline. I wouldn’t know where to start to explain the story to you…I guess you’ll just have to read it.
If you are looking for a feminist read, this is the one for you. The characters and storyline are empowering from a feminist perspective without belittling men. However, women as leaders was a theme portrayed throughout this fantastical world and the characters of Ead, Tane and Sabran absolutely sold the show. Ead most of all was the star, quietly rising to might and yet selfless. Sabran was a character that had to grow on me and she did. I loved the connection between Tane and her companion sea dragon Nayimathun, I lived for their parts.
There were some great themes in relation to the validation or not of women through their ability to bear a child, I really appreciated that context and I’d like to see it more in literature. The romantic connections in this book were varied and there was a strong sapphic story to be told at the heart of this tale.
The story was told mainly in East and West chapters where, as a reader, you really gain a sense of the different cultures and beliefs. I came to favour one side over the other and then it all got thrown into the air. See the dragon on the front? Of course you did, but there are good and bad draconic creatures in this book, some referred to as wyrms and it took some reading to really find my way with which was which.
Like many people, I had a little trepidation about a large read like this but I was asked to join in a readalong and quickly got swept up. I would advise some intense reading for the first hundred pages or so and then you’ll find your way with the story and characters. Also do not miss the three sections at the back ‘persons of the tale’, ‘timeline’ and ‘glossary’. The persons of the tale was invaluable for me for the first few hundred pages, I referred to it numerous times. Go read this, it was an epic tale, truly enjoyable and one to remember.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for the review copy and to Tandem Collective for organising the readalong.
“Rich Boy takes you on a literal ride! Funny. Angsty. It’s a definite recommendation from me!
–Tijan, New York Times bestselling author
The Rich Boy, an all-new slow-burn standalone with white-hot chemistry and witty banter from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott, is out now!
I’m the type of girl who’s given up on fairy tales. So when Beck – the hot new busboy at work – starts flirting with me, I know better than to get my hopes up. Happily ever afters aren’t for the average. I learned that the hard way.
But how can I be expected to resist a man who can quote Austen, loves making me laugh, and seems to be everything hot and good in this world?
Only there’s so much more to him than that. Billionaire playboy? Check. Troubled soul? Check. The owner of my heart, the man I’ve moved halfway across the country to be with, who’s laying the world at my feet in order to convince me to never leave? Check. Check. Check.
But nobody does complicated like the one percent.
This is not your everyday rags-to-riches, knight-in-shining armor whisking the poor girl off her feet kind of story. No, this is much messier.
Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, 2014 & 2018, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.
Nick Hayes’s genius is in wringing out the universe’s secrets. It’s a talent that’s allowed him to carve paths through time. But the worst part is that he knows how his story will end. He’s seen it with his own eyes. And every year that passes, every breakthrough he makes, brings him a step closer. Mia’s accident is waiting for them both in 2011. If it happens then he’s out of choices.
Then a chance 1992 discovery reveals that this seeker of truth has been lying to himself. But why? It’s a question that haunts him for years. A straw he clings to as his long-awaited fate draws near.
Time travel turns out not to be the biggest problem Nick has to work on. He needs to find out how he can stay on his path but change the destination. Failure has never been an option, and neither has survival. But Nick’s hoping to roll the dice one more time. And this new truth begins with a lie.
Title : Dispel Illusion Author : Mark Lawrence Series : Impossible Times (book three) Format : paperback Page Count : 234 Genre : sci-fi/fantasy Publisher : 47North Release Date : November 14, 2019
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Hollis’ 4 star review
Well well welllllll.
This series has been a wild ride of weirdness, geekiness, violence, and wtf’ery. That last mostly in the sense of “I have no idea what’s happening, I’m so dumb, this book is hella smart, why am I reading this.” But this final installment?
W o w.
Not only is this my favourite of the set, it also wraps everything so.. perfectly. The cleverness of the author, of bringing all these convoluted strands of time, events, people, and more, together, is just unreal. Again, I stumbled my way through the first two, but this one — even though, again, my brain couldn’t keep up sometimes — actually made sense. It worked. And it worked because of everything that came before.
This is definitely a series I recommend that you binge but, if not, Lawrence was kind enough to include a “previously, on..” at the beginning of this third novella. I won’t say it helped to make things any clearer than it felt to actually read said previous books but it got me upto speed on some of the finer details I’ve forgotten since finishing book two. Which, again, meant I was still the tortoise in this hare race. But this time it was way more enjoyable overall.
But, yeah, this isn’t a series I would necessarily recommend because, again, complicated, and weird, and nerdy, but if you like time travel, if you like characters that play D&D, if you enjoy twisty turny, timey wimey, and aren’t afraid of being confused (or maybe you’re smarter than the average duck), you should give these a try. For all that your brain needs to invest a bit in the details, you aren’t really investing your time (hahahah I didn’t do that on purpose) because these novellas aren’t long. But a lot does happen. So, figure that one out.
Once again, this has cemented my need to read more from this author — something I haven’t done since finishing the last installment of this book, whoops — and I can’t wait to explore his epic fantasy series’.
** I received a finished copy from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **