ONE LAST STOP by Casey McQuiston – double review!

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.


Title : One Last Stop
Author : Casey McQuiston
Format : eARC/Audio
Narrator : Natalie Naudus
Page Count : 432/12 hours 10 minutes
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ romance / speculative (sci-fi?) fiction
Publisher : St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date : June 1, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

It’s the biggest question of them all, isn’t it : is One Last Stop better than Red, White & Royal Blue? Personally, for me, no. But that isn’t a bad thing; and nor can one be compared to the other, anyway. One was magic for me and one has magic.

You are projecting so many feelings right now, I can’t believe your skin’s still on.
I’m repressing it!
I can see how you would think that is what you’re doing.

Right out the gate I have to say : I absolutely loved the ensemble of friends/found family in this book. McQuiston does this so well and this one in particular was so colourful and lovely. If that’s what you want in your books, or that’s what you need, you will love it here. Truly. And, in general, this book was so vibrant. The people, the places, the parties, everything was bright. I could picture it all. It’s a great feeling to have something you’re reading, particularly something so inclusive and welcoming and warm, spinning out so vividly in your brain.

Maybe you’re meant to be. Love at first sight. It happened to me.
I don’t accept that as a hypothesis.”
That’s because you’re a Virgo.”
I thought you said virginity was a construct.
A Virgo, you fucking Virgo nightmare. All this, and you still don’t believe in things. Typical Virgo bullshit.”

While I definitely felt the connection between our main lovebirds, I don’t know if I ever fell in love with them. Maybe Jane more than August but still. I was invested in (most of) their adventures, their struggle, delighted by their mix of soft tentative chaotic flirtations to their outright horny happiness, but.. this book isn’t short and sometimes, often in scenes just between the two of them, it felt long. I would get distracted by the ensemble but then it would kind hit home that it felt like I was reading about this forever.

When you spend your whole life alone, it’s incredibly appealing to move somewhere big enough to get lost in, where being alone looks like a choice.

There is an inherent magic to this whole story (I’ll direct you to the Kate & Leopold pitch for an idea of how that looks) and an additional element is there is layer upon layer of coincidences. Some are sweet, some are strange, others are outrageous. There is much disbelief to suspend (obviously, being as someone is out of time and all..) but just bear that in mind. It often worked but.. not always.

Living with a psychic is a pain in the ass.

Beyond the magic, beyond the romance, the heart of One Last Stop felt like a tribute to queer communities, past and present. It felt like McQuiston used Jane as a way to shine light on where things were in the seventies to how they are now. The Q train might have been what anchored this story together but an equally important anchor were queer lives — their liberties, their sacrifices, their pain, their losses, and their triumps. Their right to be.

Remember the rules. Number one —
Us versus everyone.”
And number two —
If they’re gonna kill you, get their DNA under your fingernails.

Overall this was pretty great. I think so many of you are going to love it. Will I hold it in my heart the way I do RWRB? No — and, in fact, months later as I repost this for release day, I realize I don’t think I’ve even thought of it since; the good parts are good, the long parts? Long! This is maybe more of a 3.5 but I’m not going to downgrade. Just bear that in mind. For me, it’s shiny and lovely in the moment but the longterm impact? Little to none, especially vs the author’s debut. But I still recommend you pick it up.

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


Micky’s 3 star review (rounded up)

Headlines:
From odd to quirky
MCs to invest in
Never getting a subway ride again

One Last Stop was very different to my expectations, so much so, this non-blurber went back to look at the blurb and that helped to be honest. This story is LGBTQ+/speculative fiction with a slice of time slip. All this is in the blurb, so no spoilers here.

Things I liked about this book were the two main characters, August and Jane. They stole the show and they were meant to, I’m sure. Both these characters were not immediately lovable but I did grow to like them more and more as the story evolved. Jane in particular was a character slowly revealed.

The story was…odd, it took me ages to get on board with the whole premise for what was going on and even then, it was a bit wacky for my taste. The side characters were just okay for me when I think readers are supposed to love this crew of flatmates and co-workers; I just didn’t. I did enjoy the finale of the story but it felt like a long story to get there. However, I was cheering for this couple.

The narration was a good, solid capture of August’s POV.

Thank you to the publisher and LibroFM for the early review copies.

ANTICIPATED JUNE 2021 RELEASES

Each month, we’ll be putting together a list of our top most anticipated releases; from romance, to sci-fi, to fantasy, and everything in between. These releases might be ones we’re counting down the days for or ones we’ve already read and want you to read (and love!), too.

What you do need to bear in mind is that living on different continents we have different release dates. So as a general rule there might be some repeats from one month to the next.. it’s not that we’re just being weird. Though we can’t dismiss that totally out of turn.


For June, our hotly anticipated titles, in chronological order, are :


Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid | June 1, 2021

Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over–especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud–because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own–including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston | June 1, 2021

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten | June 1, 2021

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.

We Are Inevitable by Gayle Forman | June 1, 2021

‘I got this whole-body feeling… it was like a message from future me to present me, telling me that in some way we weren’t just bound to happen, that we had, in some sense, already happened. It felt… inevitable.’

So far, the inevitable hasn’t worked out so well for Aaron Stein.


While his friends have gone to college and moved on with their lives, Aaron’s been left behind in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, running a failing bookshop with his dad, Ira. What he needs is a lucky break, the good kind of inevitable.

And then he meets Hannah. Incredible Hannah – magical, musical, brave and clever. Could she be the answer? And could they – their relationship, their meeting – possibly be the inevitable Aaron’s been waiting for? 

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon | June 1, 2021

Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.

As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met.

Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi | June 1, 2021

It’s 2003, several months since the US officially declared war on Iraq, and the American political world has evolved. Tensions are high, hate crimes are on the rise, FBI agents are infiltrating local mosques, and the Muslim community is harassed and targeted more than ever. Shadi, who wears hijab, keeps her head down.

She’s too busy drowning in her own troubles to find the time to deal with bigots.

Shadi is named for joy, but she’s haunted by sorrow. Her brother is dead, her father is dying, her mother is falling apart, and her best friend has mysteriously dropped out of her life. And then, of course, there’s the small matter of her heart– It’s broken.

Shadi tries to navigate her crumbling world by soldiering through, saying nothing. She devours her own pain, each day retreating farther and farther inside herself until finally, one day, everything changes.

She explodes.

An Emotion of Great Delight is a searing look into the world of a single Muslim family in the wake of 9/11. It’s about a child of immigrants forging a blurry identity, falling in love, and finding hope–in the midst of a modern war.

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin | June 3, 2021 (UK)

Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighbourhood. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening Three Sisters.

When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighbourhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant—who might not be a complete stranger after all.

As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be

The Start Up Wife by Tahmima Anam | June 3, 2021 (UK)

Meet Asha Ray. Brilliant coder and possessor of a Pi tattoo, Asha is poised to revolutionize artificial intelligence when she is reunited with her high school crush, Cyrus Jones.

Cyrus inspires Asha to write a new algorithm. Before she knows it, she’s abandoned her PhD program, they’ve exchanged vows, and gone to work at an exclusive tech incubator called Utopia.

The platform creates a sensation, with millions of users seeking personalized rituals every day. Will Cyrus and Asha’s marriage survive the pressures of sudden fame, or will she become overshadowed by the man everyone is calling the new messiah?

In this gripping, blistering novel, award-winning author Tahmima Anam takes on faith and the future with a gimlet eye and a deft touch. Come for the radical vision of human connection, stay for the wickedly funny feminist look at startup culture and modern partnership. Can technology—with all its limits and possibilities—disrupt love?

The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian | June 8, 2021

Kit Webb has left his stand-and-deliver days behind him. But dreary days at his coffee shop have begun to make him pine for the heady rush of thievery. When a handsome yet arrogant aristocrat storms into his shop, Kit quickly realizes he may be unable to deny whatever this highborn man desires.

In order to save himself and a beloved friend, Percy, Lord Holland must go against every gentlemanly behavior he holds dear to gain what he needs most: a book that once belonged to his mother, a book his father never lets out of his sight and could be Percy’s savior. More comfortable in silk-filled ballrooms than coffee shops frequented by criminals, his attempts to hire the roughly hewn highwayman, formerly known as Gladhand Jack, proves equal parts frustrating and electrifying.

Kit refuses to participate in the robbery but agrees to teach Percy how to do the deed. Percy knows he has little choice but to submit and as the lessons in thievery begin, he discovers thievery isn’t the only crime he’s desperate to commit with Kit.

But when their careful plan goes dangerously wrong and shocking revelations threaten to tear them apart, can these stolen hearts withstand the impediments in their path? 

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid | June 8, 2021

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all. 

My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows | June 22, 2021

Welcome to Renaissance France, a place of poison and plots, of beauties and beasts, of mice and . . . queens?

Mary is the queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. Except when she’s a mouse. Yes, reader, Mary is an Eðian (shapeshifter) in a kingdom where Verities rule. It’s a secret that could cost her a head—or a tail.⠀

Luckily, Mary has a confidant in her betrothed, Francis. But after the king meets a suspicious end, things at the gilded court take a treacherous turn. Thrust onto the throne, Mary and Francis are forced to navigate a viper’s nest of conspiracies, traps, and treason. And if Mary’s secret is revealed, heads are bound to roll.

Darling by K. Ancrum | June 22, 2021

On Wendy Darling’s first night in Chicago, a boy called Peter appears at her window. He’s dizzying, captivating, beautiful—so she agrees to join him for a night on the town.

Wendy thinks they’re heading to a party, but instead they’re soon running in the city’s underground. She makes friends—a punk girl named Tinkerbelle and the lost boys Peter watches over. And she makes enemies—the terrifying Detective Hook, and maybe Peter himself, as his sinister secrets start coming to light. Can Wendy find the courage to survive this night—and make sure everyone else does, too?

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon | June 22, 2021

Six critically acclaimed, bestselling, and award-winning authors bring the glowing warmth and electricity of Black teen love to this interlinked novel of charming, hilarious, and heartwarming stories that shine a bright light through the dark.

A summer heatwave blankets New York City in darkness. But as the city is thrown into confusion, a different kind of electricity sparks…

A first meeting. Long-time friends. Bitter exes. And maybe the beginning of something new.


When the lights go out, people reveal hidden truths. Love blossoms, friendship transforms, and new possibilities take flight.

Beloved authors—Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon—celebrate the beauty of six couples and the unforgettable magic that can be found on a sweltering starry night in the city. 

Subtle Blood by KJ Charles | June 23, 2021

Will Darling is all right. His business is doing well, and so is his illicit relationship with Kim Secretan–disgraced aristocrat, ex-spy, amateur book-dealer. It’s starting to feel like he’s got his life under control.

And then a brutal murder in a gentleman’s club plunges them back into the shadow world of crime, deception, and the power of privilege. Worse, it brings them up against Kim’s noble, hostile family, and his upper-class life where Will can never belong. 

With old and new enemies against them, and secrets on every side, Will and Kim have to fight for each other harder than ever—or be torn apart for good.


What titles are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments below!

HANI AND ISHU’S GUIDE TO FAKE DATING by Adiba Jaigirdar

Everyone likes Humaira “Hani” Khan—she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they invalidate her identity, saying she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship…with a girl her friends absolutely hate—Ishita “Ishu” Dey. Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college. But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl.

Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after.


Title : Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating
Author : Adiba Jaigirdar
Format : eARC
Page Count :352
Genre : Contemporary YA/LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : May 25, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Bisexual fake dating trope
Parental pressures
Toxic friendships
Prejudice

This book, and Hani & Ishu as characters in particular, secured my interest in this story very quickly. Adiba Jaigirdar once again set this story in Ireland with the backdrop of a Bengali heritage, cultures and traditions.

Hani and Ishu brought some stark differences to one another as well as some similarities. I enjoyed the spikey-ness of Ishu alongside Hani’s open and generous nature. Ishu was from an Indian heritage with no faith in the background while Hani was from a Bengali muslim family. Seeing these two cultures intersect without clashing was really superb storytelling; differences don’t have to be polarised.

These two were high schoolers, 16 and 17 years old, one out to her family and the other not. They felt somewhat set apart from their peers at school but there were some really toxic friendships afoot that took time to be revealed. There were also some slices of family problems, parental pressures and drama. The fake dating trope was pretty sweet and solidified a friendship with chemistry.

Hani declares she’s going to drop me home like we’re some antiquated heterosexual couple and not two queer teens who don’t even have access to a car.

These two stole my heart with a delightful but real story.

Please check out some own voices reviewers on bisexuality and Bengali perspectives. There are also a number of triggers in this story, so please look for those if you need to or DM me for more info.

THREADNEEDLE by Cari Thomas

Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.

Magic is the first sin. It must be bound.

Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.

It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.

Nothing – and no one – could change her mind before then. Could it? 


Title : Threadneedle
Author : Cari Thomas
Series : The Language of Magic #1
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count :576
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Harper Voyager
Release Date : May 27, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Fantasy in a contemporary London setting
Coming of age
Magic exploration

I enjoyed the setting of Threadneedle immensely, I thought the idea of a contemporary London as the backdrop for this tale added an interesting layer. Anna was a mousey, scared character on first glance but she was living in a controlling household where free-thinking, never mind free actions were not permissable. Anna had a lot of character development through the book.

I don’t know why, but I thought this was adult fantasy when it was overtly YA from the off. That meant some teen drama and behaviour I wasn’t expecting and I don’t know if it was just that change to my expectations that brought this read down a bit. I wasn’t always keen on Anna’s grudging companions through the story although some did grow on me.

The themes of freedom, exploration and finding yourself were welcome ones and that was interesting reading in a magical context. This is a long book and the pacing had moments of slowness but then it picked up with gusto and I was enthused to continue.

Overall, this was an appealing concept, a good start to a series and it has a fantastic cover . It will be interesting to see where the series goes.

Thank you to Harper Voyager for the early review copy.

THE IVIES by Alexa Donne

Everyone knows the Ivies: the most coveted universities in the United States. Far more important are the Ivies. The Ivies at Claflin Academy, that is. Five girls with the same mission: to get into the Ivy League by any means necessary. I would know. I’m one of them. We disrupt class ranks, club leaderships, and academic competitions…among other things. We improve our own odds by decreasing the fortunes of others. Because hyper-elite competitive college admissions is serious business. And in some cases, it’s deadly.

Alexa Donne delivers a nail-biting and timely thriller about teens who will stop at nothing to get into the college of their dreams. Too bad no one told them murder isn’t an extracurricular.


Title : The Ivies
Author : Alexa Donne
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA thriller
Publisher : Crown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : May 25, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

This is exactly the kind of thing that would make a great mini series. Mostly because it felt not unlike a Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars mashup (I say this without ever having watched or read PLL, so I could be off base, but from random ads I’ve seen it has the thriller vibes needed). Except throw in the Gilmore Girls education focus that Rory and Paris had in their final year at Chilton.

There were ruthless students before us — they just weren’t as well organized.

All that to say, this was a hot twisty priviledged backstabby underhanded mess and boy was I enthralled. I think what worked against it, though, and why I’m not rating higher, is I felt our protagonist was just a little too inconsistent in both her feelings and her reactions. I don’t know if maybe that was on purpose, particularly with how this ended, but.. it made for strange reading sometimes. But the cliquey Ivies, the school itself, it was all so messed up but so fascinating.

Equally, I think, had this been done (or when it’s done? who knows!) in a television format I think we could’ve had some extra nuance or layers that maybe would’ve rounded this out a bit. The mystery itself wasn’t too straight forward, despite the red herrings or supposed red herrings, but there were a few other twists I found rather easy to see coming. But, again, maybe that was on purpose so we didn’t guess the other? Hard to say.

Do you know how hard it is to be a rich, above-average white guy in college admissions?
Oh, wait, you’re being serious? Sorry.

I also found it interesting how much this actually said about the whole college admissions mania. Not being American I’ve only ever really seen this portrayed in fiction and this definitely took it up a notch or twelve but I think there’s a lot of reality buried into this fictional narrative, too.

I probably could’ve done without the two or three throwaway references to the pandemic but as this is an ARC who knows if that feedback will make it up the chain or not.

I had a fun time with this, though, and it was the perfect twisty ride to pass a gloomy afternoon.

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

TOKYO EVER AFTER by Emiko Jean

Crazy Rich Asians meets The Princess Diaries in this irresistible story about Izumi, a Japanese-American girl who discovers her senior year of high school that she’s really a princess of Japan.

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after? 


Title : Tokyo Ever After
Author : Emiko Jean
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA contemporary romance
Publisher : Flatiron Books
Release Date : May 25, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

Can we just take a minute to appreciate this cover? And maybe a second minute? Because it’s stunning.

As for the book itself, well. While I found the writing-style to be easy going it did sort’ve trick me into think this was well-paced. Which in hindsight.. sometimes yes, sometimes no. But I was mostly convinced of that because at a certain point in the book, considering certain events, I was sure this wasn’t a standalone and we’d have a series to explore more. But from the looks of it, and considering the ending, this has a distinct one-and-done feel. I could be wrong, of course.

Equally, though it might seem obvious, this does feel like two different books. Likely because it’s two separate and very different worlds colliding. But as much as I enjoyed the immersion into the Japanese side of things I think the American just-another-YA-contemporary side felt more fleshed out. The close knit girlfriends, the single mum, etc, just felt so effortless and fun. The other side had moments of pure delight, don’t get me wrong, but I think more time to explore, ie not a standalone, would’ve knocked this out of the park. Given time to flesh out not only the relationships (the romance was too rushed, that was a true downfall for me) but the characters themselves, too. That said, I did enjoy the dialogue surrounding that struggle to find the right space to be. Izumi isn’t mixed race but she’s brought up in America without any roots; and yet, despite feeling an instant connection to Japan, she is too American. As a white reader I obviously can’t speak to how that impacts other readers who have experienced the same, or how true it read, so please, as always, seek out #ownvoices reviews. But it resonated quite a bit.

If you go in just wanting something to live up to the pitch, Crazy Rich Asians meets The Princess Diaries, I think you’ll be happy. It definitely fits the bill. Criticisms aside I did quite enjoy this, I just wanted more. Also, I thought this was a debut, so I was about to be all “and for a debut it was so strong!”. Delete delete. Not sure either of her backlist offerings are tempting enough to pick up but I would read her again.

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

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – MAY 25, 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.


Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean is “The Princess Diaries meets Crazy Rich [in this] story of an ordinary Japanese-American girl who discovers that her father is the Crown Prince of Japan.

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy is the final (!) novel in this world, apparently, and is about drag, prom, and embracing your inner Queen.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid | May 27, 2021 (UK) is the story of one unforgettable night for a family and it all started with a party. Totally intrigued.

Threadneedle by Cari Thomas | May 27, 2021 (UK) is a much hyped release about a alternate London where magic is a sin. It sounds like this one straddles YA and adult genres.

The Couple by Helly Acton | May 27, 2021 (UK) is such a clever and witty novel about a slightly dystopian view on love.

Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky | May 27, 2021 is a space opera series starter with aliens, lgbtqia+ characters and enhanced humans.



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

THE COUPLE by Helly Acton

Millie is a perfectionist. She’s happy, she’s successful and, with a great support network of friends and family (and a very grumpy cat), she’s never lonely. She loves working at a big tech firm and is on track be promoted to her dream role. The last thing she needs is romance messing up her perfectly organised world.

Besides, normal people just don’t have romantic relationships. Everyone knows that being in a couple is a bit . . . well, odd. You know, like having a pet snake or referring to yourself in the third person. Why rely on another person for your own happiness? Why risk the humiliation of unrequited love or the agony of a break-up? No, Millie is more than happy with her conventional single life.

So, when Millie lands a new project at work, launching a pill that prevents you falling in love, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. That is, until she starts working with Ben. He’s charming and funny, and Millie feels an instant connection to him.

Will Millie sacrifice everything she believes in for love?


Title : The Couple
Author : Helly Acton
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Zaffre Books
Release Date : May 27, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
The war of singledom versus coupledom
Banter for days
A question of ethics

If you asked me what genre The Couple was, I’d describe it like this: rom-com/women’s fiction with side serving of dystopia. Have I read anything quite like it before? No. Did it deliver? Oh, yes.

Unusually, I’d recommend that you read the blurb before you start, otherwise you might not find your footing with the context easily because of that smattering of dystopia. I loved the context, the flipping on reality of singles and couples. I thought it was so clever to question the grand ethics of the world in this story and the idea of oxytocin. This was definitely a more feminist world than we live in.

Love is an illness. Love can make you miserable. Love can push you over the edge.

All that aside, the two characters at the fore, Millie and Ben brought a light and funny narrative. Ben especially was all the good guy you might need, alongside Millie’s cautious nature. Their friendship was fun and genuine and it was enjoyable to see changes happen. They had a natural chemistry and they had banter. The texting dialogue was amusing.

Helly Acton has a signature style of writing and is really good at telling an innovative story you can buy into. Fans of The Shelf won’t be disappointed with her second book.

I loke The Couple (not a typo).

Thank you to Zaffre Books for the review copy.

GOOD GIRL, BAD BLOOD by Holly Jackson

Pip is not a detective anymore.

With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.

But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh.

The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?


Title : Good Girl, Bad Blood
Author : Holly Jackson
Series : A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 388
Genre : YA mystery
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : March 2, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

So this wasn’t quite the amazing, out of this world, sequel I had expected it to be, or been led to believe it was, but that’s just my opinion so, as always, grain o’salt.

This particular mystery plot was definitely a bit less of a disbelief stretch, though still a little wild, and even though I was far from crying or even tearing up somehow this ended up also being more emotional. There were some incredibly moving scenes from events leftover from the previous book and specific to this book’s plot and all that just made everything really solid.

I felt this particular installment also had a chance to really dig deep into both the main character and some of the characters on the periphery. I liked the changing, evolving, and surprising, direction of certain dynamics and am very interested to see how that all plays out in book three.

I also appreciate that Jackson isn’t leaving the main character unscathed by these rather unprecedented events. She’s almost sorta spiraling into self-destruction, but not quite, and battles a bit with coming to terms with who she really is, what she’s willing to do, and also forgive, and those were really interesting moments. Another thing I’ll be curious to see play out.

Overall this is a really solid series that definitely sucks you in. This installment might even be a four star. I may come back and change that later.

A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER by Holly Jackson

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.


Title : A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author : Holly Jackson
Series : A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 389
Genre : YA mystery
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : February 4, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Was this the epic murder mystery contemporary I have seen everyone else say it is? Maybe not. Was this hella engrossing and did I finish it in a record breaking timeframe? Yes.

I’m sure the Veronica Mars comparisons have all already been done ad nauseum and so I won’t say much more about it. But I will say that while it’s far and away from a direct lift of season one’s plots and concepts, you might still get some of those vibes. I sure did.

You, of course, have to suspend a bit of disbelief around some of this, as one might expect going into a YA murder mystery, but I’m okay doing that. It does, overall, maybe keep it from being the perfect read, though. Hence the rating. While some of the twisting and turning plots and schemes and secrets might elicit some side-eye, though, I enjoyed the cast of characters and the multimedia aspect of the story telling. While the Marshmallow comparison is an obvious one, the media element also did give me a small amount of Sadie vibes, and one particular event felt like a throwback to a certain nineties movie franchise I can’t hint at further for spoiler reasons.

So, yes, I did like this! Obviously. I’ve heard, though, that book two is even better than and because I’m on a completed-a-book-in-one-sitting high, I’m diving right into the sequel.

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