WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD by Ciannon Smart

Divided by their order. United by their vengeance.

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom – and vengeance. 

Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power. 

Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But power is intoxicating, revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain – except the lengths they will go to win this game.

This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy has the twisted cat-and-mouse of Killing Eve with the richly imagined fantasy world of Furyborn and Ember in the Ashes


Title : Witches Steeped in Gold
Author : Ciannon Smart
Series : Witches Steeped in Gold (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 560
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : HarperTeen
Release Date : April 20, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated


Hollis’ unrated review

Look, I’m not saying I’m an idiot for picking up a dense complicated fantasy while trying to pull myself out of a slump but.. if the shoe fits, right?

While a good portion of my struggle with this book is, as above, my own damn fault, I also think the first half of this book is just too thick. There is so much to wade through as far as history and worldbuilding and terminology, which is kind of understandable with a series-starter, but it just didn’t sink in. And while the second half of the story was full of action and betrayals and reveals, oh my, I’m still left wondering if I understand anything about this world.

I’m also kind of confused as to where we ended up with one of the main characters. But that’s a whole other thing.

Easily my favourite thing about this was the writing; even when I was struggling with a character, or two, or the plot, I enjoyed how it was all written. But overall, beyond the representation, I’m not entirely sure this is memorable and I know I will absolutely to remember anything about this by the time the sequel is out. Which is a bummer.

I definitely suggest you still give this is a try if you’re interested, though; I’m writing this just two weeks shy of its release and the early buzz is poppin’. This is connecting with, and entertaining, so many readers. So don’t let this slumpy party pooper put you off.

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

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – APRIL 20, 2021

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.


What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka is another compulsively readable YA contemporary. This release offers up a nerdy hate to love between competing students.

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart pulled us in with this fabulous pitch : “This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy has the twisted cat-and-mouse of Killing Eve with the richly imagined fantasy world of Furyborn and Ember in the Ashes.

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli seems to figure a love triangle but with a twist. Two best friends in-crush with the same new kid at school? What could possibly go wrong..

The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout is the third book in the Blood and Ash series. But we don’t need to tell you that. How many of you already have this in your grabby hands?


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

WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

An academic enemies-to-lovers YA with all the nerdy drama, high school antics, and heartpounding romance of the Netflix original series Never Have I Ever

Since high school began, Alison Sanger and Ethan Molloy have competed on almost everything. AP classes, the school paper, community service, it never ends. If Alison could avoid Ethan until graduation, she would. Except, naturally, for two over-achieving seniors with their sights on valedictorian and Harvard, they share all the same classes and extracurriculars. So when their school’s principal assigns them the task of co-planning a previous class’s ten-year reunion, with the promise of a recommendation for Harvard if they do, Ethan and Alison are willing to endure one more activity together if it means beating the other out of the lead. 

But with all this extra time spent in each other’s company, their rivalry begins to feel closer to friendship. And as tension between them builds, Alison fights the growing realization that the only thing she wants more than winning…is Ethan.


Title : What’s Not To Love
Author : Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA contemporary romance
Publisher : Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date : April 20, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

I am so relieved right now. I was really starting to think If I’m Being Honest was a fluke for this duo. While I had liked everything else they had written, nothing had edged over into love category and while I enjoyed the topics and themes, I was nonetheless a little disappointed.

What, Sanger? You don’t enjoy our conversations?
They’re not conversations, they’re hostage negotiations.

Until now.

For every reason I have to despise Ethan, I’m grateful for the chance to prove my worth. To prove not that I am the best, but that I can be the best.

That said, I was definitely feeling some minor trepidation with this one, too. I was loving the competitive dynamic between the two leads but, not unlike in another romance (though, that one was adult, not YA), I worried it was just a little too much to come back from. Too often toeing over that line where the bickering and banter becomes too harsh, the back and forth too toxic, the overall relationship too problematic. But not only did the characters have dialogue about those moments but how it all unfolded ended up working just right.

I’m surprised this many people want to celebrate his birth. I would rather commemorate it the way one would a natural disaster or other unfortunate occurence — somber social media posts, vows to stay strong on this dark day.

This particular match-up was also so much more than I expected it to be, in regards to motivations and self-awareness. I’ve definitely appreciated how these two authors have explored the strangeness of post-highschool life, and what that looks like, what it has to be, both on personal and romantic levels, and I liked how they worked through it via a new angle with these two characters; and even with those within their friendships and families.

Even when you think you’ve found your story, you might need to change it later if the one you’ve living doesn’t work.

Overall it was just.. fun. The tension, the combativeness, the mixed feelings when one would deviate from the expected, and how that looks going into their future. I would definitely recommend this one. Obviously.

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

THE THERAPIST by B.A. Paris



The multimillion-copy New York Times best-selling author B.A. Paris returns to her heartland of gripping psychological suspense in The Therapist – a powerful tale of a house that holds a shocking secret.

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive….

As Alice is getting to know her neighbors, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem….


Title : The Therapist
Author : BA Paris
Narrator : Olivia Dowd & Thomas Judd
Format : Audiobook
Length : 9 hours, 23 minutes
Genre : Domestic Thriller
Publisher : Macmillan Audio
Release Date : April 15, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Creepy storyline
Trust
Lies

I definitely enjoyed this listen of BA Paris’ latest domestic thriller and I couldn’t guess whodunnit, no matter how I tried to speculate, so there are ticks in those boxes. The conclusion was slightly disappointing and I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I leave the book behind glad that I’d read it.

Alice and Leo move in together, doing so in an exclusive development called ‘The Circle’. Immediately, I thought, those people are weird (chuckles). There’s a definite underlying premise to where the main character Alice finds herself and that is…don’t move in with someone too quickly (this is not a spoiler) but a general life lesson.

The story of The Therapist was intricate with little details that came back to prod you later. It was all about who to trust and the lies that people tell but ultimately, this was a whodunnit. Alice seemed to be a really niave character, damaged by her own traumas but easily led by others. Leo lacked some character development, I felt as I didn’t know him much by the end. The plot was a little far fetched at times but it remained pretty gripping.

As with any thriller on audio, the temperature and mood of the listen is particularly important and the narration was able to conjure some sinister feelings and sense of foreboding. This was a multiple POV with dual narrators that worked well.

Overall, a good story with a bit of fading towards the end. The format was definitely a winner.

Thank you to MacMillan Audio for the early review copy.

ROYALLY YOURS by Emma Chase

Princess Lenora Celeste Beatrice Arabella Pembrook had an unusual childhood. She was raised to be a Queen—the first Queen of Wessco.

It’s a big deal.

When she’s crowned at just nineteen, the beautiful young monarch is prepared to rule. She’s charming, clever, confident and cunning.

What she isn’t… is married.

It’s her advising council’s first priority. It’s what Parliament is demanding, and what her people want.

Lenora has no desire to tie herself to a man—particularly one who only wants her for her crown. But compromises must be made and royals must do their duty.

Even Queens. Especially them.

**

Years ago, Edward Langdon Richard Dorian Rourke, walked away from his title and country. Now he’s an adventurer—climbing mountains, exploring jungles, going wherever he wants, when he wants—until family devotion brings him home.

And a sacred promise keeps him there.

To Edward, the haughty, guarded little Queen is intriguing, infuriating…and utterly captivating. Wanting her just might drive him mad—or become his greatest adventure.

**

Within the cold, stone walls of the royal palace—mistrust threatens, wills clash, and an undeniable, passionate love will change the future of the monarchy forever.

Every dynasty has a beginning. Every legend starts with a story.

This is theirs.


Title : Royally Yours
Author : Emma Chase
Series : Royally (book four)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 304
Genre : NA romance
Publisher : Emma Chase LLC
Release Date : Octobe 29, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Of all the books in this series, this is not the one I thought I would love. I kinda thought this would be a throwaway addition of the Royally world and wow was that a bad assumption. Hello you, I am ass.

This story is the prequel of the series, chronicling Queen Lenora, the first Queen of Wessco, and the heartbreak and victories that became the foundations of her life. Oh yeah and this book made me cry at least twice. Possibly thrice.

The emotional beats of this installment are so good, without being overblown, and I think this was actually the most solid romance of the series, too. Almost everything felt pitch perfect, though, yes, maybe a bump or two along the way but hey, no road is totally smooth. I’m willing to acknowledge but don’t quite hold those bumps against the overall story.

If anyone who loved, or even just enjoyed, this world hasn’t read this final (?) installment, I would highly recommend it. It even kind of works great just as a standalone. Though you might find yourself hooked and want to backtrack through the rest.

I’m so delighted to have put this on my Series to Finish in 2021 list because I’m not only glad to put this series to bed, finally, after all this time, but I’m so so happy it also ended on a good note. 

SISTERSONG by Lucy Holland

535 AD. In the ancient kingdom of Dumnonia, King Cador’s children inherit a fragmented land abandoned by the Romans.

Riva, scarred in a terrible fire, fears she will never heal.
Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, when born a daughter.
And Sinne, the spoiled youngest girl, yearns for romance.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold – a last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. But change comes on the day ash falls from the sky, bringing Myrddhin, meddler and magician, and Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear the siblings apart. Riva, Keyne and Sinne must take fate into their own hands, or risk being tangled in a story they could never have imagined; one of treachery, love and ultimately, murder. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.


Title : Sistersong
Author : Lucy Holland
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 416
Genre : Historical
Publisher : Macmillan
Release Date : April 1, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Three siblings, three povs
Detailed
Twisty

This fantasy-esque historical story was very different to my expectations and not in a bad way. The story starts with three sisters and ends with three siblings, that detail was core to this story. As such, I favoured Keyne’s evolving story to that of Riva and Sinne. I did sometimes wish for more time in each POV before they switched.

This was a deep and detailed story that slowly gathered pace and plot. Set in a time post-Roman rule and at a time of expectation of Saxon invasion, the sense of impeding war was ever present. The story pitched a convincing battle alongside this of old magical ways versus newer Christian beliefs.

Most of the characters in this story were rather complex, none more than Keyne, Mori and Tristan. There were plenty of characters to be suspicicious of and some to really dislike. The context of this English land during this time conjured a dark and barren place in my mind. Freedoms even for the King’s children were minimal and there was a sense of oppression from numerous directions.

The plot was clever, twists a-plenty with deep, historical research apparent. Overall, this was an immersive read.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan/Black Crow PR for the early review copy.

THE SUMMER JOB by Lizzy Dent

Have you ever imagined running away from your life?

Well Birdy Finch didn’t just imagine it. She did it. Which might’ve been an error. And the life she’s run into? Her best friend, Heather’s.

The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather. Actually there are a few other problems…

Can Birdy carry off a summer at a luxury Scottish hotel pretending to be her best friend (who incidentally is a world-class wine expert)?

And can she stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked (but who thinks she’s someone else)?

A snort-out-loud romcom for fans of The Flatshare.


Title : The Summer Job
Author : Lizzy Dent
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Publisher : Viking Books
Release Date : April 15, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

The Summer Job delivered on some of the aspects I adore in books – a Scottish setting, great characters and couple chemistry, all with the added extra of wine. The main character, Birdy (Elizabeth) was something of a mess, but she was an endearing mess that you couldn’t help but like.

The story was wrapped around the concept of lies and those lies getting deeper and complex, until it’s too much. That complexity was wonderfully offset by Birdy’s bright and hopeful nature, James the chef and a cast of characters in the gorgeous Loch Doon hotel.

Having spent a lot of time in the highlands, I have to say Lizzy Dent conjured a setting that really worked, I could envisage the Loch, the wildness and the people so well. I want to go and stay there, taste the wine and maybe nibble the chef… I mean his food!

James is calm, considered and deliberate. And I like it.

I so enjoyed the context of the life of a sommelier, it’s not something I’ve seen in contemporary fiction and I was pretty consumed by the idea. This story built on lies took the inevitable down turn and it was pretty hard to observe the crash but I continued to love and believe in Birdy.

The Summer Job was a refreshing, funny and wonderful read that will transport you to the highlands and immerse you in great characters. I think it’s the perfect read for summer and I can’t wait for others to read this.

Thank you to Viking Books for the early review copy.

THE PRISON HEALER by Lynette Noni – double review!

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

From bestselling author Lynette Noni comes a dark, thrilling YA fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, and Sabaa Tahir.


Title : The Prison Healer
Author : Lynette Noni
Series : The Prison Healer (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : HMH Books for Young Readers/Hodder Books
Release Date : April 13, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Hollis’ 2 star review

When you have to take a shower mid-read to wake up because the book is putting you to sleep : my experience with The Prison Healer.

Look, that snarky intro notwithstanding, there were things in this story that felt pretty compelling and or interesting but so much just.. didn’t make sense. At first I loved that our setting was limited to this prison, where our protagonist had been locked up for ten years, completely cut off from the world and politics around her, but then I got really.. anxious. The limited scope started to bother me. So did the weird extreme sweeps into d a r k n e s s and d e s p a i rand then, like, light hearted flirting with the new prisoner.

We also had this ACOTAR-esque challenge to undergo but the only people witnessing it were the prisoners? The royalty are banished from watching it and it seems to not actually matter to the world outside the prison? Like.. how is this a thing? Why is it even happening?

And the whole idea of this prison being unchallenged by royalty, not subject to rule by any authority by the Warden (I don’t know, I’m now questioning my understanding, so don’t quote me on that..), was initially interesting but also how the hell did that fly. Just kind of seemed like an excuse to let some awful shit happen.

And then there was this whole civil war thing.. man, like I said, some really cool elements that just felt a little untethered. Trying to sum up all the plot points is leaving me tired.

As for the characters, well. Suffice it to say we aren’t supposed to have many to root for, seeing as we are in a prison full to the brim of nasty characters, but Naari, one of the guards, was the only one I actually liked. I got a lot of whiplash from our lead, the love interest was nice but kind of predictable, there’s a younger pseudo-brother character who has an endearing stutter but I got pretty tired of reading about it, and there’s.. not much else. Bad guard one, bad guard two, evil guard one, evil guard two, unpleasant prisoners x y z, shifty Warden guy, lots of sick and or dead people.. you get the idea.

What saves this for me was the ending. Because.. okay, sure, yeah, that happened. I am both very excited by it and also now very frustrated by everything up until this point, but, sure, yes. I’m hooked and I will read book two (please say it’s only a duology..).

I realize most people would not continue on a series where the initial book only warranted a two but I am not most people.

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


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Captivity
Trials
Twists

This story was interesting from the start but it executed a sneak attack by building and building into something pretty fantastic. The Prison Healer was set completely inside a prison, one with few rules and a regime of brutality and fear. Kiva was the healer, a skill learnt and from her father but built on by necessity. She had few perks from her role even though she was vital to that society.

The characters inside the prison were rag-tag bunch of characters and I took the lead from Kiva who trusted virtually no-one but Tipp, her young helper in the prison infirmary. New arrivals sparked some interesting characters form the guard Naari to Jaren and Tilda. I’m laughing at my naive self now having finished the book…little did I know.

A part of the storyline were trials that one of the characters had to go through and that was a fascinating steer throughout the chapters, I really enjoyed those elements. Most of all I enjoyed the mystery of the characters and some of the twists. There was one almighty twist that had me putting on the brakes, going back half a page because I wasn’t sure I’d read that right.

I really enjoyed how platonic and ‘something more’ relationships developed through the story. Moreso, I liked to see Kiva learn to trust a bit more and open up ever so slightly. Again, I’m laughing at my face-value reading of some of the characters knowing what I know now.

The Prison Healer was a gripping fantasy read, full and detailed, interesting and fresh. I’ve not read Lynette Noni before but she’s secured my interest and I have no idea how I’m going to wait until The Gilded Cage comes out. I have all the need for it.

Thank you to Hodder books for the early review copy.

PAUSE by Kylie Scott

An unpauseable new romance from New York Times bestselling, Audie Award winning author Kylie Scott!

When Anna wakes up from a coma after a car crash, she discovers life has gone on without her. Her husband has been unfaithful—with her best friend—and she’s been long since replaced at work. While her old life is a distant memory, her new life feels like an empty shell. Then she meets the stranger who saved her life during the crash, and he changes everything.

Leif Larsen—tattooist, joker, and player—has his own scars thanks to the crash that put Anna in a coma. Helping her move on from her failed marriage, and create a new life, sounds like a perfect distraction. So when he needs a new roommate, he invites Anna to begin her new life with him.

Although their lives may have been put on pause, together they just might find a way to heal.


Title : Pause
Author : Kylie Scott
Narrator : Andi Arndt
Format : Audible Audio
Length : 6 hours, 17 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Audible
Release Date : April 13, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Accidents
Betrayal
Quick fulfilment

I feel like I’m the champion of Repeat by Kylie Scott, I loved that audio and I’ve since re-listened and re-read. So Pause had big shoes to fill and alongside that Leif wasn’t the easiest character like in Repeat having fouled up in his relationship choices bringing consequences.

Pause started with an accident and hospitals which felt reminiscent of Repeat but I didn’t mind that to be honest, as Anna’s story was different enough to feel new. The circumstances she found herself in however, were pretty vile.

I liked hearing about how Anna’s life unraveled and came back together, I perhaps wanted a bit more narrative about her recovery. Anna and Leif had chemistry but it felt pretty fast moving. I enjoyed the story but I wasn’t wowed by it.

This was a quick listen, I would say this is a perfect for a day or a weekend, with great narration. Andi Arndt excels at male dialogue, so while this is a single POV story, when Leif speaks, it feels so credible on the audio.

Thank you to Audible for the early review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – APRIL 13, 2021

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.


Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne is the much anticipated release by the author of The Hating Game. Do you even need to know more?

Malice by Heather Walter is a sapphic retelling that promises us villains in a new light. Here for it.

The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni is a great start of a fantasy series, you won’t be able to put this one down.

The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent is one of those books that is perfect as your summer read. Think lies, wine and lobsters..oh and a Scottish chef.


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