BIRTHDAY GIRL by Penelope Douglas

He took me in when I had nowhere else to go. He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work. 

I have to stop this. It can’t happen. 

My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable. Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one. 
I am. 

PIKE

I took her in, because I thought I was helping. As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to. 

But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight. 

And her boyfriend’s father. 

Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.


Title : Birthday Girl
Author : Penelope Douglas
Format : eBook
Page Count : 407
Genre : romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : April 17, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

I suppose this one is on me because I’m not really sure what else I expected when I picked up BIRTHDAY GIRL.

If what you want is a slowburn romance that leans into the taboo of not only an age gap but also the “wanting my boyfriend’s dad/wanting my son’s girlfriend” angle, I’m sure you could probably do much worse than this. However..

I’m not sure the characterizations were all that consistent. With maybe the one exception, surprisingly enough, being the nineteen year old protagonist. She was mature for her age, she was pretty focused, she was weathered by disappointment and experience (not the good kind) which gave her perspective and some gravitas. But she also had moments of being impulsive and.. maybe bratty is harsh but young. And it felt true to form. The thirty-nine year old older man, however? Way less consistent. And also didn’t remotely feel his age. But maybe that was purposeful to like.. make him more accessible and lend him that air of being younger than he seemed? Take the edge off both sides of the equation by mentally aging her up and then also mentally making him a little.. not young but. I don’t know how to explain it. And lastly, to round out the main trio (even though we didn’t get his POV), there was the boyfriend. A pretty inconsiderate person all around, his behaviour worse considering how he was treating not just someone who was supposed to be a friend first but also the person you love, and the abrupt pivot at the end with the magical fix? Eye roll. So, really, I only liked Jordan and basically thought both men unworthy of her.

Additionally, this story has a bunch of outside drama, too, incase the (actually relatively low, considering..) angst from the above wasn’t enough for you. We have evil exes (one also violent because why not), on both sides of the relationship, and all the drama that comes from a small town with nosy neighbours and the down on their luck or straight up trashy residents. Which I guess explains why so many people have excuses for their bad behaviour? I don’t know.

I guess overall I just expected something more? In the sense that this didn’t feel as edgy or taboo as I expected. It felt rather standard as far as romances go, just with an age gap. But as much as I wanted more, I also maybe wanted a little less. This felt a bit long.

So, yeah, not remotely a homerun for my first time reading Douglas but both this and PUNK 57 come recommended by so many people. So I’ll still be giving that a try before assuming we’re not a good fit.

THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost, Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.



Title : The Archived
Author : Victoria Schwab
Series : The Archived (book one)
Format : physical/hardback
Page Count : 337
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : January 22, 2013

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

This was another reread I chose to do for a spooky readathon and yet another world I’m really happy to have revisited. Similarly, it’s been about five years since I first read this series but this one has stood out in my mind pretty vividly. Up until Schwab’s most recent release, I considered this duology my favourite by this author. And while it’s easy to see how much progress she’s made as a writer, which sort’ve implies this is inferior.. it isn’t quite that. It’s a different target audience, for one, but yeah it does read a little younger — which is fitting for the characters. But my biggest issue with this on reread is perhaps the pacing. Everything else was still great. Also side note, I guess I just love all of Schwab’s writing when she’s in dark moods or leaning in melancholy and grief?

I flew through in a few short hours (yes I’m one of those one or two sitting binge readers!) and while that clearly implies it sucked me in — which it did! — I think this could’ve done with about a hundred more pages. Some places to flesh out events and characters but also even out some of that change in pace. To a certain degree it makes sense that the latter half is faster because events have escalated and are happening at breakneck speed, and you do get a sense of that slow building with the increase in Histories, so.. maybe it’s not quite so unbalanced. But I still think it would’ve been improved by more. Particularly in the case of a certain romantic element; had it been built up a little slower, giving it more strength, it might have felt less out of character. I got the why of the appeal but it did feel unlike our lead character.

Ultimately, if you didn’t already know, this story deals with a group of people who work for the Archive. Which is where, for all intents and purposes, a copy of those who die are kept. The visual is a big library, everyone a book on the shelf, but a backed up copy of a person’s life and/or upload into the metaphysical Cloud works, too. Within that Archive are levels of people from the Keepers, tasked with returning Histories (what amounts to our ghosts), all the way up to Librarians who monitor the Histories who are sleeping or have been returned to sleep after their escape. There are other players, too, but that’s the gist. It’s not dissimilar to THE STARLESS SEA in that sense but the story itself is vastly different.

After a loss, Mackenzie’s family uproots into a new town, into a new home, and there her responsibilities take an uptick as the hotel-turned-apartment building seems to have a high traffic of Histories to manage. In doing so she meets another Keeper, the first outside of her grandfather, and increasingly things change and also begin to spiral out of control. She’s balancing a new home, a discordant family dynamic as they all try to adjust to the new normal, grief, and suspicions that something within the Archive isn’t right.

There’s feels, and danger, and secrets. And also Wesley. Boy did I ever love him just as much the second time around.

And yes, surprising no one, even though I’ve just completed my required readathon reading by finishing this, I’m diving right into the second book.

THE GUY ON THE LEFT by Kate Stewart

It started with a lie. A night of blurred lines between a teacher and a student. 

I wasn’t her student, yet it was the single most defining night of my life. 

I’ve never been the man she thinks I am. 

Most people have no idea about the life I’ve lived or the words that ring true when it comes to me—still waters run deep. 

But you’d be hard-pressed to find a coed on the TGU campus who knows otherwise…because I’ve never corrected them. 

The clock is ticking down, it’s Fourth and Inches with the ball inside the one-yard line and the focus is on me, The Guy on the Left. I’ve never felt like a football god, inside I’m…just Troy. 

It’s time to set the record straight. 

For my son, I‘ll find the strength. 

In her eyes, I’m determined to gain redemption. 

I will have them both, even if I have to take my eye off the ball. 

All books in the series can be read as a stand-alone. 



Title : The Guy On The Left
Author : Kate Stewart
Series : Underdogs (book two)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 429
Genre : romance
Publisher : KLS Press
Release Date : December 6, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ .5



Hollis’ 1.5 star review

I was warned by some that book two in this series wasn’t on par with book one. But I’m not sure I expected it to be.. this.

I’m sorry to say there wasn’t a single thing in this that I enjoyed. Not the drama (of which there was a lot), not the characters, not the soap opera-style dialogue without any sense of actual emotion fueling them, just words thrown around, not the stalking-because-I-care behaviour that no one ever acknowledged was a problem (seriously he did this for years and at one point references hanging outside a window to listen to a baby cry.. like, wow, no), the back and forth rehashing of the same problems over and over again even though you thought you’d kind of resolved it the chapter before but surprise nope, the really annoying child character (I swear I got over this and found myself enjoying the young precocious child character concept but this one? nah..) .. I could go on.

Troy has always been diligent with his stalking. But can it really considered stalking when it’s your own child you’re watching over? I decide it can’t. <– this is from the female protagonist’s perspective. I hate it.

Everything I liked in book one was missing to the point that I truly don’t understand how this is the same series much less the same author. Was I drunk? Punked? I’m mostly being a shit but honestly, it makes you wonder.

I’ve already deleted this off my kindle and we’re just going to pretend it never happened. I think the third book is the final in this series but I’ve already side eyed some reviews, one from someone who warned me about book two but more telling are reviews by those who loved books one AND two, so that’s not reassuring. Completionist in me wants to wrap this up but considering I wanted to DNF this like twelve times.. the odds don’t look great. We’ll see. It won’t be soon, that’s all I’m saying. I would still recommend book one. But, as of right now, treat it as a one and done.

BOUND BY FOREVER by Samantha Young

Niamh Farren has been burdened by knowledge for most of her life. As one of seven fae children born into the human world with the ability to open the gate to Faerie, Niamh’s mission is to guide her fae brethren to do what’s right. Because Niamh has seen what will happen to the human world if she does not protect the gate. Throughout the years, she’s traveled the world with her brother Ronan, using her psychic visions to find the fae-borne and convince them to stay on the path that will keep the gate from opening. She has sacrificed much … but when she loses her brother to the mission, Niamh begins to lose herself.

For nearly one hundred and fifty years, werewolf Kiyo has wandered the planet as a lost soul. Cursed with immortality, he spends his awful eternity as a mercenary for hire. When the powerful Fionn Mór confides the truth about the existence of Faerie and hires Kiyo to protect one of the fae-borne, he accepts the challenge out of boredom, not heroism. Yet Niamh is unexpected in every way the werewolf can possibly imagine.

Guarding Niamh from her enemies is nowhere near as challenging as protecting the fae woman from herself. If Kiyo is to succeed, he must help Niamh find herself again, and not just for her sake. Ignoring the fierce connection between them may no longer be an option. A new enemy is rising and threatening to rip open the gate between worlds. To remind Niamh of who she really is, Kiyo must make the choice to lower his defenses and give into their bond. Or safeguard his own heart … and in doing so lead the human world to the brink of war.



Title : Bound by Forever
Author : Samantha Young
Series : True Immortality #3
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 388
Genre : PNR
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : November 17, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

There’s something about this series that keeps me coming back for more. This penultimate installment in the series had a character I was really looking forward to – Kiyo and he was 100% my favourite thing about the book. He had great character development and that reluctance to care with the soft inside. Niamh was an interesting character but for some reason, I didn’t connect with her that much.

As a couple rubbing along, these two had their fun moments to read about and I did believe their connnection. There’s a but here though, everything between them was a bit to insta and fast for me. However, this was a story told over a shortish time frame, so I guess things were going to happen quickly. I do prefer a relationship that takes time though.

This story and plot development was super fast-paced with lots of twists and turns, maybe a few too many for my reading preference. The story switched on, on page one and didn’t let go until the end. The story had a ‘chase’ feeling as the characters ran from The Garm and The Coven across the globe. There felt like some far-fetched elements but this is paranormal context and I can live with that.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read but the plot didn’t always float my boat. I’ll definitely be back to finish this series though.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – NOVEMBER 17, 2020

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 Burning God by R.F. Kuang is the third book, and finale, in the Poppy War series which we are definitely now interested in starting because — binge baby!



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

THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN by Holly Black

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.


Title : The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author : Holly Black
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 433
Genre : YA paranormal/urban fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 3, 2013

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I picked up this book for a spooky readathon prompt (shoutout to the #ScreamQueensReadathon hosts!) even though it would be a reread for me but considering it had been a few years — five, at least — it seemed timely to give it another go anyway.

That said, I did want to go back and peruse my thoughts before writing a new review and wouldn’t you know it this predates my GR reviewing. Fail. But it got me scrolling through some reviews from those on my flist and I got to say.. I laughed at how few people actually like this book. But I did! I feel like those who didn’t like this book are maybe the same readers who enjoyed The Folk of the Air series more than I did. No shade! It’s just amusing. And also interesting.

But back to this book. I probably won’t be able to properly explain why I liked it because I can definitely acknowledge there are bits that weren’t my favourite — the ending, for one; not the open endedness of it all but I felt it was a bit rushed to tie things up to the extent they did. I mean, some readers DNF’d this and others said it was too filled with bits they didn’t care for but I could’ve read another hundred pages no sweat!

Sure, there are some conveniences for our leading lady, some things she achieves in what could be the manner of a special snowflake but it all felt pretty reasonable to me, all things considered? And when pitted up against the exboyfriend who came along for the ride AND the people they ended up carpooling with who also came along for the more literal ride? She was certainly not at the top of my list of irritating or stupid characters.

If you didn’t believe in monsters, then how were you going to be able to keep safe from them?

This story leans into all the dark and gruesome of vampire legends (and in fact I loved the bloating detail after their feed, it’s gross and awesome!) and all the stangeness that comes with revering celebrities and the pedestal we put so many people on just for the circumstance of their existence. Because oh yeah, I didn’t mention, vampires live in lockdowned cities (the side eye) where the infected, those who have been bit or fed from, are also quarantined (quiet hysterical laughter), and these locations, called Coldtowns, are also filmed in Big Brother fashion and posted online. Though, much like an Instagram filter, the content is only one side of a coin and the reality isn’t all glamorous blood drinking parties.

This might not be for everyone (clearly isn’t if you look at GR!) but it worked for me!

INSTANT KARMA by Marissa Meyer

In this young adult contemporary romance, a girl is suddenly gifted with the ability to cast instant karma on those around her—both good and bad.

Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate. 



Title : Instant Karma
Author : Marissa Meyer
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA contemporary / magical realism
Publisher : Feiwel & Friends
Release Date : November 3, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 



Hollis’ 2 stars review

It’s not like I asked for this gift, so I figure I must’ve done something to deserve it.

So, full disclosure, I didn’t remember requesting this and when it popped up for download I did experience some minor trepidation. I’m not sure why. I just wasn’t sure about this one, even knowing as little about it as I did, so again, why on earth did I click? I blame quarantine brain.

I can punish and I can reward. It makes perfect sense. I’d just been so eager to right wrongs before that I hadn’t considered how karma flows in two directions.

And ultimately I guess my gut instinct was right. But not quite to the extent I expected. Because Prudence? Completely and utterly insufferable — even before she’s given the power to award and punish those around her for situations she infers at a glance. No context, no understandings, just snap judgments and bam, a bird shits on your car, bam you fall and break a leg, bam a baby pukes on your feet, and on and on. The reward element of her magical powers are very underutilized as is to be expected from someone who assumes she knows all and not only has a right to judge others but has somehow earned it.

So you’re officially volunteering at an animal rescue centre for the next month. How very selfless of you, dear Prudence.”
Hey, I can be selfless.
I know you can, but don’t you see the irony? You’re only doing this for the grade.
So? Actions make a person good, not motives.”
I’m not sure I agree with that.”

^^ additionally the irony is Prudence’s whole argument definitely feeds into her delusion of thinking she knows best. But also.. doesn’t the fact that she’s directing the universe to work through her to punish others also mean her actions, despite her motives, make her a bad person?

The frustrating thing is there was such a lovely element to this story, which thankfully did take up a lot of page time and is what kept me reading, regarding the animal rescue centre and all the animals requiring care and rehabilitation and, occasionally and happily, even a return to the wild. There is a big emphasis on the environment and conservation and protection of animals, both those in the wild but also farming practices and the meat industry too. It worked to ground the story, yes, but was also a nice distraction from everything else.

Ultimately, though, even though Prudence undergoes many little epiphanies and realizations that she’s erred in judging others, I’m just not sure she ever really overcame where she started from. I liked Quint, the love interest, but do not think he deserved half of what he put up with. Though he did have a line regarding his feelings towards Pru that summed it up perfectly, I think. I won’t spoil it though. It’s worth experiencing in the moment.

And, to make matters worse, there ended up being a person who deserved true karmic justice and ultimately didn’t get it. So after putting up with all Prudence’s choices for the whole book, when she finally gets the chance to make an informed decision and enact justice and retribution — even though I don’t agree with someone having that kind of power, particularly an entitled sixteen year old — the one person who does deserve it? Doesn’t get it. Arg.

This definitely wasn’t a win. It wasn’t quite terrible. But it definitely skirted the line for me. It was frustrating, and there were a few too many things left unresolved, but it wasn’t toss-the-book-across-the-room rage inducing. Plus, the image of big eyed seals are keeping me from rating this any lower. So, thank the seals.

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

DEAR JUSTYCE by Nic Stone

In the stunning and hard-hitting sequel to the New York Times bestseller Dear Martin, incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American prison system.

Shortly after teenager Quan enters a not guilty plea for the shooting death of a police officer, he is placed in a holding cell to await trial. Through a series of flashbacks and letters to Justyce, the protagonist of Dear Martin, Quan’s story unravels.

From a troubled childhood and bad timing to a coerced confession and prejudiced police work, Nic Stone’s newest novel takes an unflinching look at the flawed practices and ideologies that discriminate against African American boys and minorities in the American justice system.


Title : Dear Justyce
Author : Nic Stone
Series : Dear Martin #2
Format : E-ARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Release Date : October 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

I wouldn’t have believed it, but this read even surpassed Dear Martin for me and I think that was somewhat to do with the continuation and connection to these characters spinning on from book one. Jus was his epic self but he was a side character in Quan’s story.

Nic Stone wrote realistically, painfully so, transmitting all the feelings and hurt. Quan who I didn’t like all that much in Dear Martin, carved a special place in my heart. Being able to see the world through his perspective, his narrative and reflections, truly was something; something profound.

The journey, the bad decisions that often seemed like the only decisions, the injustices, were all falling off the page. If you like a read with impact, this is it. There were so many lines that touched me, kicked me in the gut and spat me out.

But he was telling me how growing up, he was this real good kid until some stuff happened in his family. So he went looking for a new family. Like a lot of us do.

Nic Stone has that ability to touch me and teach me without preaching to me. This duo of books is on my required reading list now and I have a feeling I will revisit myself and definitely continue to rec the socks off these books.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK for the review copy.

UNFRIENDING BOOKS – part one (of likely many)


Reading is such a subjective pass time, what’s my love is often Hollis‘ meh or hate and vice versa. That said, we’re still entitled to dislike books. If we liked them all, it would be great…but would we really appreciate other books as much?

In this feature we wanted to just give a flavour of those books we’ve unfriended, then you can get to know more about our tastes and what doesn’t float our boats. If you’re a blogger or bookstagrammer, we’d love you to use the tag and have a go #unfriendingbooks.


Micky here with some of the books I’ve unfriended and why…

Whitney My Love by Judith McNaught. There is no book I hate more than this one because abuse is written as love and I hated the hero beyond my wildest nightmares. If you want to know more my GR review is here.

His & Hers by Alice Feeney and this is a strange one. There’s nothing really wrong with this book, other than I should never have picked it up, it definitely wasn’t for me. I’m a scaredy cat, this scared my inner cat, especially as it was on audio and the serial killer had a pov using a voice distorter. Nightmare territory.

Dark Notes by Pam Godwin. Again, abuse written as love, power over a minor. You can probably see I have a problem with these themes and shouldn’t read them but the blurb didn’t tell me what this was going to be like. Also, it had a piano on the cover which renders me helpless. My GR review is here.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan and this viewpoint is a really unpopular opinion but one that I stand by with gusto. The palliative care situation was butchered in this book, in a most unrealistic way. I have clinical expertise in this area so I know this needed much better research and a direction change in the writing.

While we’re here, lets mention that’s why I hated The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. A side story delved into children’s pallitative care (my job for 15 years, I have a PhD in the subject) and it was painfully unrealistic. I understand that these books are completely enjoyable without this insight so please just go ahead and enjoy them; I just can’t.

Adding a note for the same old reason (sorry) about Full Tilt by Emma Scott. The weeks running up to a characters death were completely unrealistic but the death itself was beautifully written. Even so, it’s still a thumbs down for me.

Another unpopular opinion about This Is How We Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I love sci-fi but I just didn’t get this one, I’ll quote my own review by saying it was a love story between robot-horse-wolf-seeds in shades of red and blue through letters…

Now that’s enough spouting from me, let’s hand over to Hollis.


Whiteout by Adriana Anders was a book I picked up earlier this year because Micky had such a good time reading it but alas.. we did not get along. You can see our double review here and decide for yourself! This suspense thriller adventure is set in the Yukon and.. that’s about all that recommends it for me. So, not at all, really.

Infinity Son was, like I think for many of us, a total disappointment. What should’ve been exciting queer fantasy just was.. well, queer fantasy, but not particularly exciting and definitely not enjoyable. A one star should make it obvious that I’m disinclined to continue the series but I’ve yet to decide if I might read on or not..

The Fantasyland series by Kristen Ashley. Yes, this was a five book series, yes I read them all (reviews can be found on GR if you’re curious enough to hunt for them), yes it was quite the adventure. I liked some, hated others, even sorta hated the ones I did like. But it was a series I thought had the best chance of winning me over considering I was already dubious about the author’s others works (later, Micky and I tried to read the Honey series.. elle oh elle to that disaster) and ultimately I’m just unfriending the author as a whole. But at least I saw this series through to the end!

Swear On This Life by Renée Carlino is memorable to me because Micky and I were reading this at the same time back in 2016 and ended up on opposite ends of the spectrum. She with a five star, me with a one star. This had flashbacks, reunion with childhood friends, a story-within-a-story.. all things that should’ve worked, and none that did.

The Duke’s Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley is book four in the Mackenzies and McBrides series, a historical romance series I thought would be a new favourite and was excited to binge (I think there are currently eleven books, as well as novellas? not sure if it’s even complete yet..), but which pretty tanked any momentum to continue on back in 2017. I ranted quite a bit in my one star review on GR. Granted, my enjoyment was steadily decreasing after book one so maybe it was just inevitable.

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff was yet another disappointment considering it should’ve once again been something right up my alley. Historical, women-centric, some action, some romance.. but no. Poorly drawn characters, ridiculous circumstances and events, forced love stories.. and more. You can check out my thoughts here.

Last but not least (for this round, at any rate!) is The Binding by Bridget Collins. Another that appealed to me on almost every level, the concept of magic, the vibe, the cover!, but yet failed, because the elements that were featured in the marketing of this book just didn’t seem to live up to the reality. This one didn’t net itself a one star but it wasn’t far off. This read also pre-dates the blog, like most of this list, but I have a review on GR here.


What have been some memorable book unfriendings for you? Or maybe some recent ones? We’d love to know!

HAVOC & HAPPINESS by Wren Handman

Michaela Peters didn’t let dying get her down.

After all, it was only for a few minutes, and the hospital paid her a huge settlement. Now she’s an emancipated minor with nine million dollars in the bank and her entire future ahead of her. Life could be a heck of a lot worse!

Michaela moves to Montana, determined to enjoy the queer high-school drama that life is serving up. Instead, she finds herself caught in the crosshairs of a fight between horrible monsters that shift with a person’s imagination, and the gorgeous trigger-happy siblings who hunt them. The problem? She seems to be able to destroy the monsters with a thought, but the hunters haven’t decided which side she’s on. 



Title : Havoc & Happiness
Author : Wren Handman
Series : Agathi Adventure (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 290
Genre : YA paranormal / LGBTQIAP+ contemporary romance
Publisher : Wandering Roots
Release Date : October 26, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5



Hollis’ 3.5 star review

The easiest way to pitch this book is Supernatural meets Kaylee, from Firefly, if she was queer.. and also sixteen. Look, the pitch isn’t perfect but that’s the vibe. Our main character is a relentlessly cheerful and hopeful human and honestly if Kaylee isn’t the first person you think of, who is? But I digress.

Michaela, the protagonist of HAVOC & HAPPINESS, has been dealt a hand that would bring lesser humans low. And somehow she keeps on going, and with a smile on her face. Add to that the fact that she’s left the foster system, emancipated herself, and willingly thrown herself into a new school, trying to make new friends, all while living on her own. Said new school comes with plenty of drama.. even before she stumbles across a dead body and the siblings who are hunting the thing that did the killing.

The Supernatural vibes are strong in this one but it’s balanced by the total opposite of that show’s dark and brutal aesthetic. The tone is light even as it tackles heavy topics like grief, abandonment, and a few other things I don’t want to mention because spoilers, and as a bonus it’s also diverse af.

Also? This is the first book in what might be a trilogy, but I think will actually be a duology. So if you’re looking for a new paranormal series to lose yourself in that’s got a healthy portion of romance, angst, trying to find one’s place in a world that is more complex than at first glance, as well as the strangeness of monster hunting stakeouts, all while balancing homework and highschool parties, this would be one to try!

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