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HOT COPY by Ruby Barrett

Corinne Blunt knows what people think of her—she’s an icy, unapproachable executive. It’s the price she’s had to pay to get to the top. But there’s knowing you have a reputation in the office, and there’s hearing your new intern laugh when someone calls you “Blunt the C*nt” in the elevator on his first day.

She’d hoped to finally find an ally in Wesley Chambers, but she’s not about to let him off the hook for joining the office boys’ club. Taking refuge in the professional boundaries between them, she relegates Wes to assistant work—which would do the trick, if he weren’t so eager to prove he’s a decent human being.

Wes is sincerely apologetic, insisting it was a misunderstanding, and to her surprise, Corinne believes him. Being forced to work together was one thing, but long hours at the office with what turns out to be a kind, thoughtful man soon has their business relationship turning personal, and things get complicated—fast. Could this be something more serious than either of them dared to hope for? Or is their relationship just playing into the harmful power dynamics Corinne’s had to endure her entire career?


Title : Hot Copy
Author : Ruby Barrett
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 297
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : April 13, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated


Hollis’ unrated review

If you craved the dynamic from The Proposal but wanted it to get the full sexy treatment? You might like this. At least, that’s what I thought to expect about this when going into it (because I don’t read blurbs). Except in Hot Copy not only is there an age gap (I was still on board) but he’s an intern.. not the assistant (I’ve edged a foot off the board at this point).

The latter would’ve been pushing it a bit to begin with but this went a step further. Everyone is not only consenting but also adult however it made for a frustrating parallel to the very real, and pervasive, inappropriate conduct happening all around the couple. As if to say, “this is okay because want it and aren’t sleazy about it”? I don’t know. I could probably have put my brain on hold about the whole thing if not for all the ick going on around them because it kept reminding me that this wasn’t great. But, when I could check my brain out for a second, I appreciated the switch up of the dynamics we’re used to seeing play out.

Except Corinne kept wrongfooting the whole relationship (or not-relationship) which is ironic as they get off on the wrong foot because she wrongly attributes something to him. So, I mean, maybe it’s not ironic. Maybe that initial interaction was foreshadowing for the whole story. He would be everything sweet, caring, kind, understanding, dedicated, and she would abuse it, not appreciate it, take it for granted.

Which isn’t to say Wes is perfect as he becomes so wholly invested in her that his real life suffers for it. And then the one time he doesn’t put Corrine first.. well, lets just say I fucking hated that particular argument.

What frustrates me about the whole experience though is that this could’ve been really good. There’s an emotional thread woven through the story that really got me choked up at times and while I thought the repetition of that same element was maybe too much.. I still cried at a certain scene near the end. I wasn’t immune. But yeah, the nitpicky part of me wishes it had been similar but not the same.

I’m mixed about my feelings so I’m totally copping out and not rating this (at least for now). I would definitely read from this author again as I thought the writing was surprisingly solid for a debut but this particular dynamic/romance will definitely be polarizing.

If you’re down for a bit of a messy romance, and are craving something to fog up the glasses, check out some reviews and see if this’ll be your cup of tea.

REAPER AT THE GATES by Sabaa Tahir

Beyond the Martial Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister’s life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. Yet danger lurks on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable and violent, while Keris Veturia, the ruthless Commandant, capitalizes on the Emperor’s volatility to grow her own power—regardless of the carnage she leaves in her path.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows that the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. During the hunt to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would help her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. However, in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that demands his complete surrender—even if that means abandoning the woman he loves.


Title : Reaper at the Gates
Author : Sabaa Tahir
Series : Ember Quartet (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 458
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Razorbill
Release Date : June 12, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

I don’t know where to begin. I wish I had some positive things to say but they are just overwhelmed by the stuff that annoys me, bores me, or frustrates me. There are glimmers of good, or maybe just fine, but ultimately it’s hard to hold onto them in the face of so much other stuff.

One of those glimmers? The final chapter. That really captured my attention (I didn’t reach for my phone once!). But overall I’m just really perplexed by where we’re going and how we’re getting there. I struggled through three of the four (five?) POVs this time. I’m long since over the romance — since early book two, actually, you’ll notice I didn’t even mention it in my review. And at this point I just want to get to the ending for all the whys. Mostly, why I’m enduring this (haha, completionist pain).

This book did feel a little stronger overall than the last one, occasionally less repetitive (though now we’ve introduced “bleeding” as a curse and boy did we make up for lost time on that..), so clearly that extra time between releases was put to good use. But, yeah, overwhelmingly I’m just kind of sitting back and watching things happen, mostly as a result of character choices, and marveling : why.

Here’s hoping book four offers some satisfaction. Because there hadn’t been much of that yet.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR DANCING by Nicola Yoon

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon is back with her eagerly anticipated third novel. With all the heart and hope of her last two books, this is an utterly unique romance.

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?


Title : Instructions For Dancing
Author : Nicola Yoon
Format : eARC
Page Count :304
Genre : Contemporary YA, BIPOC
Publisher : Penguin
Release Date : June 3, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Ropes you in
Cute, fun, engaging
Then that happened

Wow. I am a little lost for words, hyperventilating somewhat and pretty disappointed with that outcome. Instructions for Dancing was a cute, fun and hugely engaging story. It had MCs and side characters to love and get lost in. It was low on angst, all until….

The story had a side slice of clever magic (literally) that was the premise both for how the female MC Evie navigated the story and made changes in her life. It was also ultimately the vehicle for my disappointment. The male MC X (Xavier) was pretty delightful in all the ways. I was cheering these two on.

I’m going to keep this short. I’m crushed, surprised and some trust in Yoon’s storytelling has melted away, which is sad because three quarters of the journey was delightful.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Children’s for the early review copy.

SEVEN DAYS IN JUNE by Tia Williams – double review!

Seven days to fall in love, fifteen years to forget and seven days to get it all back again… From the author of The Perfect Find, this is a witty, romantic, and sexy-as-hell new novel of two writers and their second chance at love.

Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York.

When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas, but the eyebrows of New York’s Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can’t deny their chemistry-or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since.

Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva’s not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered. . .

With its keen observations of Black life and the condition of modern motherhood, as well as the consequences of motherless-ness, Seven Days in June is by turns humorous, warm and deeply sensual. 


Title : Seven Days in June
Author : Tia Williams
Format : e-ARC / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count :337
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Quercus
Release Date : June 2, 2021

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


Micky’s 5 star review

Headlines:
Swept away by second chances
Dialogue dream
Epic summer read

This wasn’t my first Tia Williams book, but it had a completely different vibe. It was deeper, more desperate with the kind of longing that makes you feel. This was a second chance story that was full of emotion but also delightfully light in the moment.

Eva (Genevieve) was a mother, a writer and a women who had shelved her own life to some extent. She had a hidden disability and got through the days. She had some friends that were the family she’d never really had.

When Shane entered the story, everything froze. The connection, my word, the connection was magnetised. There was a huge story to tell with these two that was mostly in the contemporary but it did have some past chapters that were woven cleverly and not over-used.

“I idealize you in fiction because I idealized you in real life.”

What I loved about this story and the writing was the dialogue. I have so many highlights on my kindle that just tickled me or made me feel. I lived for this story in the 24 hours that I read it and I truly didn’t want it to end. The cover is glorious and really just captures these two.

I would challenge anyone not to need this couple together. I loved the humility of Shane, the hope of Eva despite her life and the ebb and flow of life getting in the damn way.

Shane was her lighthouse. If he went dark, she’d be lost, treading black water forever.

This was the kind of sweeping romance that just made my summer and I recommend this to all my romance-reading friends.

Please note there are a number of triggers in this book – please look on other reviews or DM me if you want more info.

Thank you to Quercus for the early review copy.


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Based on the cover of this book, I had no idea what was waiting for me. I knew Micky had raved about this earlier in the year and so I’d added it to my TBR but otherwise? I had no expectations, no concept, and no real urge to pick it up and devour it. And wow what a mistake that was.

You can’t imagine what you were like then.
I know what I was like.”
You don’t. You burst into my solitude, demanding to be seen. You were overwhelming. Just wild and weird and brilliant, and I never had a choice. I liked everything about you. Even the scary parts. I wanted to drown in your fucking bathwater.

While I didn’t get the same easy five-star feelings from this one, it’s so close. Because this story was beautiful, compelling, raw, emotional, and just utterly captivating. I started this late last night and was so mad at myself for doing so because I couldn’t stay up to finish it and had to be pulled away. Which makes for a complete change from my only other experience with this author (a very very early DNF of The Perfect Find).

Girls are given the weight of the world, but nowhere to put it down. The power and magic born in that struggle? It’s so terrifying to men that we invented reasons to burn y’all at the stake.

It’s so hard, after the magic of this read, to try and sum up or quantify or pitch this book to others because I won’t do it justice. But this is a story of second chances, drama, family, grief, pain, addiction, laughter, and passion. The chemistry is electric, the insider book community commentary is hysterical, the inclusion of chronic illness, particularly one of the invisible disabilities, was so well done, and every single character had presence.

Shane Hall, you’re not scary anymore.”
I know. I put the ‘hug’ in thug.”


As annoyed as I am for waiting so long to read this, I’m also kind of pleased this was an end of the year read because I want all my next few reads to be like this one. Close 2021 with a bang.

She wanted to figure out who she was – and then be her, delight in her. Delight in everything! Have an actual life and live it! She vowed to herself to be honest – with herself and with others. In pain? Admit it. In love? Claim it. Life was too short to be anything but herself.

Pick this book up. You won’t regret it.

FABLE by Adrienne Young – double review!

reblogging as this is now a double review!

A Take from Two Cities

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him…

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NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – JUNE 15, 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.


The Maidens by Alex Michaelides is “a spellbinding tale of psychological suspense, weaving together Greek mythology, murder, and obsession.”

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury is “a rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.”


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

FOR THE WOLF by Hannah Whitten – double review!

We’re reblogging #ForTheWolf because it’s now a double review with Micky’s thoughts. Similar rating, different spin!

A Take from Two Cities

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…

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THE IPPOS KING by Grace Draven – double review!

reposting this as it’s now a double review!

A Take from Two Cities

The Wraith King saga continues.

The demonic horde that threatened to devour the world has been defeated, but at great cost.

Plagued by guilt and nightmares, Serovek Pangion sets out to deliver the soulless body of the monk Megiddo to the heretical Jeden Order for safekeeping. Accompanying him is sha-Anhuset, the Kai woman he admires and desires most–a woman barely tolerant of him.

Devoted to her regent, Anhuset reluctantly agrees to act as a Kai ambassador on the trip, even though the bold margrave known as the Beladine Stallion gets under her skin like no other, and Anhuset fears he’ll worm his way into her armored heart as well.

But guilt and unwelcome attraction are the least of their problems. The demons thought vanquished are stirring again, and a warlord with blood-soaked ambition turns a journey of compassion into a fight for survival. When the Beladine king brands Serovek a…

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A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT by Sabaa Tahir

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both. 


Title : A Torch Against the Night
Author : Sabaa Tahir
Series : Ember Quartet (book two)
Format : hardback
Page Count : 452
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Razorbill
Release Date : August 30, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Wow so this took a turn.

As I read this installment I kept questioning if I had been too kind to book one; was it just my ever revolving slump mode that make me think more kindly of it? Was it really that good? I almost went to change my rating, that’s how a) convinced I was that I must’ve been too generous and b) how annoyed I was about this one. But ultimately I think it stands; book one was good. I had a good time, slump or no, and it really just is that this book just.. doesn’t remotely measure up.

Between some bizarre sideplots and elements introduced out of nowhere, with very little sense of cohesion, this was just also.. not well written? And also had poor characterizations? There were moments, of course, but ultimately this felt like it had maybe a handful of a well executed and polished chapters that were tossed into a rough draft.

And if I ever see the word “skies” again I might lose it. I hate repetition, yes, and I understand that words get overused as a touchstone but I swear I came across a single page (as in, one!) with three repeats of that word. And not just one time, but multiple times. Some chapters? At least six utterances. I would see other words, too, reused when it would’ve been more appropriate for a synonym — yes, this is picky bitch shit but it stands out. And it does not make a meh reading experience any easier. Editors : you are valuable and desperately needed. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Also, please up your prices, you’re worth it.

Getting through this was a chore and I was bored and frustrated pretty much the whole time. My enthusiasm for the rest of the series is incredibly diminished but we’re in it now. I just hope I can get through book three a lot faster than this one.

THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN by Ava Reid

In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.

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.


Title : The Wolf & The Woodsman
Author : Ava Reid
Format : Paperback ARC/Audio
Page Count/Running Time : 448/13 hours, 9 minutes
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : DelRey UK
Release Date : June 8, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Unique fantasy standalone
Dark and sinister moments
Get lost in the visual imagery

This felt like such a fresh story to me with three different belief systems intersecting through the characters. It was a story told in the forest, plains and sometimes cities and villages. I was happiest reading when the story was in the forest even though that where the monsters were.

Evike was a character to get behind, she was complex, morally grey on occasion and resillient. She was ever at the mercy of whatever people she was with. Her self discovery of her lineage, the faith of her father and the Yehuli people were fascinating and the chinks of light in this tale. Gaspar, woodsman and a man with many facets, was equally complex and how their grudging collaboration evolved was great reading. The friendship was a slow burn for sure.

There were monsters, witches, creatures with powers, kings with powers, megalomaniac princes and the kind of tales told to really give you the chills. This easily scared reader coped with it all and it conveyed a murky atmosphere of not knowing what was around the corner. There were some dark and gory moments but they truly added to the story.

I was fortunate to read the hard copy and audio for this and the narration was superb. The characterisation and dialogue fitted that dark atmosphere I described so well.

I thought this was a great debut, a standalone to recommend and I can’t wait to read more by Ava Reid.

Thank you to DelRey UK for the early review copies.