THE TOWER OF NERO by Rick Riordan

At last, the breathtaking, action-packed finale of the #1 bestselling Trials of Apollo series is here! Will the Greek god Apollo, cast down to earth in the pathetic moral form of a teenager named Lester Papadopoulos, finally regain his place on Mount Olympus? Lester’s demigod friends at Camp Jupiter just helped him survive attacks from bloodthirsty ghouls, an evil Roman king and his army of the undead, and the lethal emperors Caligula and Commodus. Now the former god and his demigod master Meg must follow a prophecy uncovered by Ella the harpy. Lester’s final challenge will be at the Tower of Nero, back in New York. Will Meg have a last showdown with her father? Will this helpless form of Apollo have to face his arch nemesis, Python? Who will be on hand at Camp Half-Blood to assist? These questions and more will be answered in this book that all demigods are eagerly awaiting. 



Title : The Tower of Nero
Author : Rick Riordan
Series : The Trials of Apollo (book five)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 419
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Disney Hyperion
Release Date : October 6, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

Maybe I should’ve started with this as my slump buster.

Like my last read, Riordan is a comfort author and diving back into his Percy Jackson Universe is just.. fun. This final book in this particular series, which I think is also supposed to close the door on the whole world (?), was nostalgic and entertaining and just a great time all around. Though if it is the end it does feel a little.. well, not like an end? I think I would’ve expected more of a definitive and drawn out farewell tour. Which is why I think the door has been left open.. just a bit. Plus, I mean, did we get teased with the Nico stuff? There has to be more.

The only thing more unsettling than not understanding a prophecy was beginning to understand it.

Anyway. Not much I can say about a wrap up installment so suffice it to say you’ll just have to read it yourself! But this was exactly the kind of warm hug in book form that I needed.

I wanted to write a haiku in honour of Apollo but I’ve got nothing.

THE SUGARED GAME by KJ Charles

It’s been two months since Will Darling saw Kim Secretan, and he doesn’t expect to see him again. What do a rough and ready soldier-turned-bookseller and a disgraced shady aristocrat have to do with each other anyway?

But when Will encounters a face from the past in a disreputable nightclub, Kim turns up, as shifty, unreliable, and irresistible as ever. And before Will knows it, he’s been dragged back into Kim’s shadowy world of secrets, criminal conspiracies, and underhand dealings.

This time, though, things are underhanded even by Kim standards. This time, the danger is too close to home. And if Will and Kim can’t find common ground against unseen enemies, they risk losing everything.



Title : The Sugared Game
Author : KJ Charles
Series : The Will Darling Adventures (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 288
Genre : LGBTQIA+ romance/historical fiction
Publisher : KJC Books
Release Date : August 26, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’m not sure my feelings about this book are entirely fair as I’ve come out of quite a bit of a lull/slump and I knew the first book I picked up might suffer for it. But I thought a KJC might help battle that prediction and also I mean she’s kind of a guaranteed pick me up. And yet..

I don’t know about you, but the position of hand puppet to [spoiler] does not appeal to me.”
Nor me. If I want someone sticking their hand up my arse–
Oh, do go on.”
I’m not going to be [spoiler]’s hand puppet either, was what I meant.

Certainly not a bad book, not that I think she even has one, and a three star is far from a dislike but I didn’t quite enjoy this installment as much as book one. We did have some good reveals and how this plays out into book three will be interesting but to be honest I found myself less enamoured by the MC and the love interest and instead was just rooting for the ladies of the story. They had felt like full and realized characters in book one and yet they definitely stole the show for me in this one. And I love that it went that way because they are certainly deserving of a spotlight.

That said, if you are not yet on the KJC train you absolutely have to. If not this series, another, find a standalone, whatever. If you’re into queer fiction or historical fiction or where the two meet and you aren’t reading this author? What even are you doing!

Hoping that book three goes out with a bang but also hoping to not be battling anymore slumps between now and then. Fingers crossed!

NIGHT OF CAKE & PUPPETS by Laini Taylor

In this stand-alone companion to the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone series comes the story of Mik and Zuzana’s fantastical first date—as a gorgeously illustrated gift edition with bonus content included.

Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to make the first move, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy is not going to know what hit him.

New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Originally published as an ebook, this new print edition will include breathtaking black and white illustrations, plus bonus content in a gorgeous package perfect for new and current fans of the series.



Title : Night of Cake & Puppets
Author : Laini Taylor (illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo)
Series : Daughter of Smoke & Bone (book 2.5)
Format : hardback
Page Count : 256
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Release Date : November 26, 2013

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 5 star review

Once you know magic is real, it’s really hard to remember what it was like not to know.

To me, this little book is magic. The story, the art, the way it breaks up the action in the main series to dazzle you.. everything about it is just perfection.

Zuzana in particular always felt like such a force as a supporting character but the brilliance of this novella is that she feels no different in the spotlight. Taylor had this character pegged from page one and she doesn’t feel any more real but instead feels just like herself.

The friendship moments between Zuzana and Karou, even just through text, are so authentic and silly and heartfelt that it felt like rereading my own texts to friends.

As for Mik, well. He’s definitely a sweet thing but doesn’t leave as much as an impression as either Zuz or even Karou. But it was how he thought about Zuzana, how he was instantly a believer in magic, and how self-aware he was, that make him worthy of our rabid fairy.

Reading this after my series reread makes me instantly crave more from this world and these characters — even though I only left them a week or two ago — and if that isn’t proof of magic, what is?

If you are a fan of this series but haven’t yet picked up this novella? You must.

JULIET TAKES A BREATH by Gabby Rivera

A NEW GRAPHIC NOVEL ADAPTATION OF THE BESTSELLING BOOK!

Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But don’t worry, Juliet has something kinda resembling a plan that’ll help her figure out what it means to be Puerto Rican, lesbian and out. See, she’s going to intern with Harlowe Brisbane – her favorite feminist author, someone’s who’s the last work on feminism, self-love and lots of of ther things that will help Juliet find her ever elusive epiphany. There’s just one problem – Harlowe’s white, not from the Bronx and doesn’t have the answers. Okay, maybe that’s more than one problem but Juliet never said it was a perfect plan…

Critically-acclaimed writer Gabby Rivera adapts her bestselling novel alongside artist Celia Moscote in an unforgettable queer coming-of-age story exploring race, idenrity and what it means to be true to your amazing self. even when the rest of the world doesn’t understand.



Title : Juliet Takes A Breath
Author : Gabby Rivera
Illustrator : Celia Moscote
Format : eARC
Page Count : 176
Genre : LGBTQIA, YA, BIPOC
Publisher : BOOM! Box
Release Date : December 1, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ .5



Micky’s 3.5 star review

I think I tripped myself up with this one because I hyped it massively to myself and I seriously wish I’d read the book (which I own) before the graphic novel. What I found with Juliet Takes A Breath was a character I could adore but a story short on depth because…graphic novel length, I think.

What I cannot regret over this read was fantastic illustration and story potential. Juliet was beautiful, curvy and full of feisty get-go but also with a bit of fear and trepidation. There was a coming-out story, family woes and relationship stresses. Plenty for the reader to get their teeth into as long as you don’t want to bite too deep. I wanted more underneath, depth to the story which I’m guessing is present in the book.

Illustration wise, this was glorious. My favourite visualisation of characters were Juliet (of course), Kira, Maxine and Harlowe’s hairy legs. There’s also a wee bit of suggested visualised steam and that was nicely done.

So, if you want a taster of this story, the graphic novel is perfect. I imagine that those that have read the book already will love this visualation too. I think I need to reverse my steps now and read the book to get that bit more that I wanted.

Thank you to BOOM! Box for the early review copy.

EVERY LAST SECRET by A.R. Torre

Welcome to the neighborhood. Watch your husband, watch your friends, and watch your back.

Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get what she has: a gorgeous home; social standing; and William, her successful, handsome husband. Then a friendly new couple moves into the estate next door. While cautious, a good neighbor like Cat greets them with open arms and warm hospitality.

Neena Ryder isn’t a fellow lady of leisure. A life coach with off-the-rack dresses, personal issues, and a husband who hasn’t delivered, she’s anxious to move up in the world. This beautiful new town is a step in the right direction. It’s also making Neena aware of what she doesn’t have. Namely, William. When Neena’s infatuation escalates into obsession, it’s just a matter of eliminating a few obstacles to get the life she wants. The life next door.

As Neena’s secret fixation grows, so does her friendship with Cat. But beneath their cordial interactions is a wealth of temptations, secrets, and toxic jealousy. For both women, the desire for a perfect life can turn perfectly dangerous.



Title : Every Last Secret
Author : A.R. Torre
Format : eARC
Page Count : 389
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Thomas & Mercer
Release Date : December 1, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Every Last Secret was enjoyable, unputdownable and a little crazy. This book was a bit consuming, a lot conniving and cunning with characters I don’t think I was ever supposed to like. However, I definitely appreciated the characters, their development, the evil sides and morally grey-ness. There were a few good types thrown in just to balance it out though.

The story focused on an uber-rich community and a interloping couple Neena and Matt. Cat and William were too good to be true and boy did that play out in a spectacular way. William in particular was an aloof character, not particularly nice and Cat was a crafted and perfected individual; lots of facets for the reader to get their teeth into.

The real William Winthrope was an asshole, and I was fascinated by him.

While I was there for every twist and turn, I did know where it was going broadly and who the perpetrator was. I really enjoyed the dynamics between Cat and Neena, Cat and William, Matt and everyone. The blurring of lines between these couples was gripping and kept me hooked.

She smiled, and I smiled, and the morning chill didn’t have anything on us.

There was something about the end portion of the book that begged for a little more depth in my opinion although I did love the final pages. This was such a clever story and A.R. Torre always gets me with her thrillers/suspense. I think this genre is where she is most talented.

Every Last Secret really gave me Big Little Lies-vibes so if you’re a fan of that book, definitely try this one.

Thank you to Thomas & Mercer for the early review copy.

LAYLA by Colleen Hoover

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover comes a novel that explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love.

When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.



Title : Layla
Author : Colleen Hoover
Format : eARC
Page Count : 301
Genre : Contemporary/PNR
Publisher : Montlake
Release Date : December 8, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ .5



Micky’s 2.5 star review

A curious tale to start, turning into something I wasn’t expecting (trying to stay spoiler-free here) and then too much of the ridiculous for my taste. Layla and Leeds (Leeds is a city, not a town by the way) met and magnetised in a lust at first sight kind of interaction. I was all eyes and ears for this. What ensued was a quick obsession with one another until tragedy knocked at their door.

Leeds was a musician, song writer and I have to say how much I love when Colleen Hoover writes song lyrics, she really hits the spot with her words through lyrics and I will always relish when I see them in her books. However, I would prefer to see heroes from authors with different occupations. I don’t want to compare to Maybe Someday, for example. Leeds was the narrator in this story and I enjoyed that it came from his POV, even though I didn’t like him at all as a character.

What ensued was me being scared with the paranormal element until things were explained, then I settled into it. The story kept me reading and did provide three good twists but I felt like things weren’t always explained well enough and there was a bit of ‘that’s just how it is’. ‘The interviewer’ exasperated me…and that’s how I felt a bit at the end, exasperated and a bit deflated. It just didn’t work as a story for me but I’m sure many will love it.

I admire Colleen Hoover for turning her hand to different genres but so far, only her romances hit the spot for me. I guess we can’t like them all, it’s that age old thing but I was really buzzing for this one and then disappointed when it didn’t work for me.

Thank you Montlake for the early review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – DECEMBER 8, 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.



Layla by Colleen Hoover is a paranormal suspense with a bucket load of romance thrown in. This is a different offering from CoHo but if you were a fan of Verity it might be up your street.

Brambles by Intisar Khanani is a the prequel to Thorn (re-released last year). It’s a short read but brings a wider understanding to the whole premise of Thorn. It also whets the appetite for book 2 in the Dauntless Path series.



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

BRAMBLES by Intisar Khanani

In the kingdom of Adania, everyone knows what Princess Alyrra did to earn the court’s contempt, her mother’s disdain, and her brother’s hatred.

She betrayed her own.

Yet, the truth hides another story, one of honor and honesty, of a princess gambling her own life for another’s. It’s a tale of courage and consequences, and a choice that can never be undone.

A short story prequel to her multi-starred fantasy, Thorn, Intisar Khanani’s “Brambles” gives Alyrra’s account of what really happened all those years ago, and how a few critical days turned her life into a daily fight for survival.


Title : Brambles
Author : Initisar Khanani
Series : Dauntless Path #0.5
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 40
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : December 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Brambles is a prequel novella to the full length and wonderful Thorn (you can see my review here). This story finds Alyrra quite a bit younger and back in time in her original lands. This really is a brief origin story about why Alyrra found herself on the end of Valka’s wrath and how the plot for Thorn eventually unravels.

I hated Alyrra’s brother and Valka in Thorn so this wasn’t the nicest company to be keeping in this novella. These two were bullies in Alyrra’s life, manipulating and controlling. Alyrra’s mother wasn’t much better either. I always hated that Alyrra didn’t have any allies at the beginning of Thorn and this is what we see in Brambles. BUT this was still a very engaging world to be in. Reading about villians can still be fulfilling!

The world created in this series is intruiging, pretty fresh and as a collective, I’ll alwaysbe happy to read in this world. If you aren’t aware, the second book in the series The Theft of Sunlight is coming in March 2021 and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Whilst Brambles is not essential reading to the series, it’s a welcome snippet and insight into the grand story.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

LOVE IN LOCKDOWN by Chloe James

Sophia is afraid lockdown will put her life on pause – just as she was she was going to put herself out there and meet someone. When the first clap for the keyworkers rings out around her courtyard, she’s moved to tears for all kinds of reasons.

Jack is used to living life to the fullest, and is going stir-crazy after just days isolating. Until that night he hears a woman crying from the balcony beneath his. He strikes up a conversation with the stranger and puts a smile back on her face.

Soon their balcony meetings are the highlight of Jack and Sophia’s days. But even as they grow closer together, they’re always kept apart.


Title : Love in Lockdown
Author : Chloe James
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Avon UK
Release Date : November 23, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ .5



Micky’s 2.5 star review

I’m going to preface this whole review by stating that I’ve been seriously ill with COVID in the last month and I’ve read this during my still difficult, ongoing recovery. Thus, I’ve read this when I wasn’t really in the mood to be immersed in pandemic and lockdown topics.

Love in Lockdown was a gentle read, slow to steadily paced and lacking in a bit of excitement for me. The two main characters were in apartments above one another and both with health problems. Neither the character of Jack or Sophia really captured by attention fully and I found I had to push through to finish the book. What I really struggled with was the inevitable lack of meeting of the two MCs.

This was a story not just of the couple but of family and community. It did capture some of the early feeling of UK lockdown, the sense of togetherness and pulling together locally. However, some elements of the community storyline felt a little twee and sometimes cringey. Sophia herself also gave me those vibes a bit.

I would say this was not the read for me now but I also think it wouldn’t really be up my street generally. I do think it will appeal to some, maybe those not personally affected by pandemic tragedy.

Thank you to Avon UK for the early review copy.

DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?



Title : Days of Blood & Starlight
Author : Laini Taylor
Series : Daughter of Smoke & Bone (book two)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 528
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : November 6, 2012 (original) / December 1, 2020 (new editions!)

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5



Hollis’ 4.5 star review

“.. absolutely preparing myself to be destroyed and devastated all over again,” was how I wrapped my review of book one. Because I remembered the vibe of this story more than the events themselves. Infact, only a few scenes stood out to me, so it was almost like reading this for the first time. I think maybe I had forgotten most of what happened in this series outside of book one and a few broadstrokes. I have a feeling book three will be the one I recall the least.

What can a soldier do when mercy is treason, and he is alone in it?

I actually don’t think this book was quite the devastation or destruction I remembered it to be, vibe or no. But it’s definitely relentless. Hit after hit is taken, not all of them all-encompassing, but enough that it wears you down. Just like Karou is worn down, worn thin, believing she has no path but the one she’s on. And I think it was that atmosphere that allowed for those few (very few) moments of sweetness, of levity, to feel both out of place but impossible not to cling to. Like the image of Zuzana and Mik, fragile humans, playing amongst creatures of nightmare and imagination and death. Your brain questions it but you can’t look away.

Mercy, she had discovered, made mad alchemy; a drop of it could dilute a lake of hate.

There was a lot of hurt in this book; in the sense of loss, of betrayal, of grief, of a dream that will never be realized, of hope. Because hope, too, hurts.

As always, Taylor’s writing was impeccable, the way she toyed with us every time, making us believe one thing, only to reveal the opposite, was both breathtaking and left the heart pounding and also something of a trap. Because just when you come to rely on that, to expect it to happen each time, it won’t. Sometimes the bad, the sad, is the reality and there’s no surprise waiting to tell you otherwise. But it’s a compelling way to force one’s readers to devour page after page, chapter after chapter. Which is what I did. Not just out of hope but also because I just could not tear myself away.

For all that this was grim, and at times hopeless, I think it’s probably my favourite of the two. The questions posed, the wrong for the right reasons, the push for vengeance which only propels more violence to answer the call, the conflict our characters felt, made me feel so much.

I also feel helpless to do anything other than jump into book three.. right.. now.

** I received a finished copy of the new edition from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

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