THE ASYLUM by Karen Coles

1906: Being a woman is dangerous, being different is deadly.

Maud Lovell has been at Angelton Lunatic Asylum for five years. She is not sure how she came to be there and knows nothing beyond its four walls. She is hysterical, distressed, untrustworthy. Badly unstable and prone to violence. Or so she has been told.

When a new doctor arrives, keen to experiment with the revolutionary practice of medical hypnosis, Maud’s lack of history makes her the perfect case study. But as Doctor Dimmond delves deeper into the past, it becomes clear that confinement and high doses are there to keep her silent.

When Maud finally remembers what has been done to her, and by whom, her mind turns to her past and to revenge.


Title : The Asylum
Author : Karen Coles
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 352
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Welbeck Publishing
Release Date : April 1, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines
Eerie and sinister
Gothically good
Revenge

The Asylum was a page-turner of a gothic thriller. Set inside the mind and experiences of Maud who was incarcerated with amnesia, this was a story of such mistreatment that it was tough to read at times. There was no doubt that Maud was mentally ill, but beyond help…no.

The story tracks a good doc/bad doc situation in this historical asylum. One psychiatrist determined to advocate for Maud and help her with getting her memories back, the other was determined to prevent this. Maud’s story as it unravelled was sad, discomforting, tragic and at times horrendous.

There are no chains binding me, no manacles, yet I am chained to this place as securely as if there were indeed a manacle around my neck. I am chained here by my madness.

The powerless of women in this era, especially those without means, was underlying the whole story. Men in control, men taking advantage, men doing much worse. There were women as accessories to the bad experiences but Maud eventually found inner strength in her lucidity.

I found The Asylum hard to put down, those pages turned themselves as I wanted answers for the mystery. This was a great, satisfying thriller with a rather dark foreboding feel to it. That cover is stunning and clever. There are a number of triggers in this book for some readers, so please look for trigger warnings or DM me for details.

Thank you to Welbeck Publishing for the early #gifted review copy.

ROYALLY MATCHED by Emma Chase

Some men are born responsible, some men have responsibility thrust upon them. Henry John Edgar Thomas Pembrook, Prince of Wessco, just got the motherlode of all responsibility dumped in his regal lap.

He’s not handling it well.

Hoping to help her grandson to rise to the occasion, Queen Lenora agrees to give him “space”—but while the Queen’s away, the Prince will play. After a chance meeting with an American television producer, Henry finally makes a decision all on his own:

Welcome to Matched: Royal Edition.

A reality TV dating game show featuring twenty of the world’s most beautiful blue bloods gathered in the same castle. Only one will win the diamond tiara, only one will capture the handsome prince’s heart.

While Henry revels in the sexy, raunchy antics of the contestants as they fight, literally, for his affection, it’s the quiet, bespectacled girl in the corner—with the voice of an angel and a body that would tempt a saint—who catches his eye.

The more Henry gets to know Sarah Mirabelle Zinnia Von Titebottum, the more enamored he becomes of her simple beauty, her strength, her kind spirit… and her naughty sense of humor.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day—and irresponsible royals aren’t reformed overnight.

As he endeavors to right his wrongs, old words take on whole new meanings for the dashing Prince. Words like, Duty, Honor and most of all—Love. 


Title : Royally Matched
Author : Emma Chase
Series : Royally (book two)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 276
Genre : NA romance
Publisher : Emma Chase LLC
Release Date : February 21, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Here it is, the start of another series to knock off my list and complete as per an earlier blog post. Though I had ended up rereading books one and two to complete the first series I tackled, I didn’t bother rereading book one in the Royally series as, while events carry over, we pick up with new characters. I didn’t really think I needed the details, just the broad strokes of what came before; and that much at least I did remember. Not that I even needed to as much of it was rehashed. Contemporaries are good like that!

This was really fun though. It didn’t quite warrant very high marks as I did feel some of the relationship moved quite fast, even if it did start with a decent amount of friendly foundation, but I did have a good time. It was quite raunchy, actually, and if book one was like that, well, I totally forgot. But it was definitely steamy, with some good emotional strings being plucked along the way, and actually the whole Bachelor-style reality show happening in the wings was pretty fun. I liked how that was done without any really petty or catty behaviour. We love to see it!

One of my nittier picky things was definitely the grand gesture (we hates them, precious) but that’s always a personal pet peeve thing for me so it’s not the fault of the book. But there was one shithead in this book, who granted didn’t get much page time, but I kind of wish we’d seen some fallout. There was something alluded to that may have happened in book one (sigh, this is why I generally reread, guess my opening paragraph was a little bit “spoke too soon..”) and I think because of that something more should’ve happened. Unless we’ll see him in future books? Hard to say.

Overall though we had a really well rounded and fabulous cast. I definitely want to see more of some of these periphery characters. I’m hoping they crop up in future books. I guess I’ll find out soon as, surprising no one, I will likely be knocking the rest of these out in short order.

If you’re looking for a quick but fun, and sexy, romance with a royal edge, you could definitely do a lot worse than these!

KING OF SCARS by Leigh Bardugo

Face your demons… or feed them.

The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.


Title : King of Scars
Author : Leigh Bardugo
Series : King of Scars (book one)
Format : physical
Page Count : 527
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Imprint
Release Date : January 29, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

It’s finally happened! All these years later, despite all my anticipation — like so many things — I have finally read this book. And.. it didn’t quite do All The Things I expected it to do; but that might be due to a few factors. Like, my slump. Like, my soul-deep exhaustion when I started reading this. Or maybe the beginning just was kinda slow. Even all of the above. But right around the 60%ish mark.. I was hooked. I was in it. And that ending was evil.

Zoya, say something spiteful.”
Why?
Because I’m fairly certain I’m hallucinating, and in my dreams you’re much nicer.
You’re an idiot, Nikolai.
Not your best work.”

We have a few rotating POVs featuring almost all familiar faces but for the majority of this book I was only keen on Zoya’s. Yes, even though Nikolai was one of said POVs, he just wasn’t the draw for me. Zoya was. More Zoya. Zoya all the time, please. Nina’s POV had me a bit emotional during a certain moment, I’m sure you’ll guess the one if you’ve already read this, and while I liked what she was doing and where her adventures had taken her, I wouldn’t say I was always mad to be pulled away from it. Again, I’ll draw your attention to Zoya. Her POV was the only one I was ever sad to leave. Though, the one unknown POV? Pure sweetness. Also other emotions I won’t hint at.

Do something!
Like what?
You have guns!
I’m not going to shoot at bees.”

This is definitely not a series I think you can start without previously reading — at the very least — the main Grishaverse trilogy. But also there’s so much Six of Crows content in here, alluded or referenced to, that like.. you really shouldn’t be reading this at all if you haven’t read those series. Not just that but it spoils so much. Don’t put yourself through that. Obviously I’m late to the game with this warning but still. I’m putting it out there.

Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are made of scars instead of wounds.”

I’m definitely glad circumstances made it so I waited until almost the eve of the release of book two to read this because, again, that ending was rude. I’m happy to know I’ll have resolution soon. Imminently. And I hope the overall experience of book two kicks all sorts of ass. Can’t wait.

MONTHLY WRAP UP – MARCH 2021

To close out each month, we’ll be posting a break down of everything we reviewed, beginning with the reads we loved.. and ending with the reads we didn’t. Not only does this compile all our reviews in one handy summary for you to peruse, or catch up on, it also gives us an interesting birds eye view of the month and our reads. And maybe, even, our moods.


☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

How To Fail At Flirting by Denise Williams — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales — see Hollis’ & Micky’s review here
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert — see Hollis’ & Micky’s review here
Beneath the Keep by Erika Johansen — see Hollis’ review here
The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley — see Micky’s review here
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi — see Hollis’ review here
Dangerous Women by Hope Adams — see Micky’s review here
The Sad Ghost Club by Lize Meddings — see Micky’s review here
Namesake by Adrienne Young — see Micky’s review here
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta — see Hollis’ review here
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid — see Micky’s review here
The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani – see Micky’s review here
Jane Austen’s Best Friend by Zoe Wheddon — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn — see Hollis’ review here
The Devil in Her Bed by Kerrigan Byrne — see Hollis’ review here
Enlightened by Joanna Chambers — see Hollis’ review here
A Touch of Stone and Snow by Milla Vane — see Hollis’ review here
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angelina Boulley — see Hollis’ review here
All The Tides Of Fate by Adalyn Grace — see Micky’s review here
Marriage and Murder by Penny Reid — see Hollis’ & Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ star reads

In the Quick by Kate Hope Day — see Hollis’ review here
Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly — see Hollis’ review here
Odin’s Child by Siri Petterson — see Micky’s review here

star reads

Big Bad Wolf by Suleika Snyder — see Hollis’ review here

u n r a t e d

The Consumption of Magic by TJ Klune — see Hollis’ review here
A Wish Upon the Stars by TJ Klune — see Hollis’ review here

DNF

Striking Distance by Sarah Rees Brennan – no rating or review from Micky


additional reads not reviewed for blog : Three
total reads by Micky : Fifteen
favourite read of the month : How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams
least favourite read of the month : Odin’s Child by Siri Petterson
most read genre : Fantasy

total reviews by Hollis : sixteen
favourite read of the month : Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
least favourite read of the month : Big Bad Wolf by Suleika Snyder
most read genre : contemporary