5, 4, 3, 2, 1..

We are (depending on your timezone) mere hours away from the New Year and we don’t know about you — though we kinda do.. — but here at A Take From Two Cities we are hoping for a much better year than the ones that have come before.

Whether you’re having a quiet celebration with your household, hanging out on your own, making a virtual splash, or (finally!) safely with a group, we are raising a glass to you and hoping you are all safe, well, and content (we almost said “happy” but the bar is still low..).

Here’s to not only a fresh start in 2022, and hopefully a few less disasters, but also a ton of great books and a lot more laughs.

From us to you,

Hollis and Micky xx

ANTICIPATED JANUARY 2022 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 January, our hotly anticipated titles, in chronological order, are :


Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon | January 11, 2022

A TV meteorologist and a sports reporter scheme to reunite their divorced bosses with unforecasted results in this charming romantic comedy from the author of The Ex Talk.

Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, legendary Seattle weatherwoman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. Ari, who runs on sunshine and optimism, is at her wits’ end. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer.

In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell.

Working closely with Russell means allowing him to get to know parts of herself that Ari keeps hidden from everyone. Will he be able to embrace her dark clouds as well as her clear skies?

Real Easy by Marie Rutkoski | January 18, 2022

A compulsive, tenacious, and unexpectedly hopeful thriller set in a midwestern strip club, told by New York Times bestselling author Marie Rutkoski in the spirit of Gillian Flynn and Tana French

It’s 1999 and Samantha has danced for years at the Lovely Lady strip club. She’s not used to mixing work and friendship―after all, between her jealous boyfriend and his young daughter, she has enough on her plate. But the newest dancer is so clueless that Samantha feels compelled to help her learn the hustle and drama of the club: how to sweet-talk the boss, fit in with the other women, and make good money. One night, when the new girl needs a ride home, Samantha agrees to drive: a simple decision that turns deadly.

Georgia, another dancer drawn into the ensuing murder and missing person investigation, gathers information for Holly, a grieving detective determined to solve the case. Georgia just wants to help, but her involvement makes her a target. As Holly and Georgia round up their suspects, the story’s point of view shifts between dancers, detectives, children, club patrons―and the killer.

Drawing on her experience as a former dancer, Marie Rutkoski immerses us in the captivating world of the club, which comes alive with complicated people trying their best to protect themselves and those they love. Character-driven and masterfully plotted, Real Easy gets to the heart of the timeless question: How do women live their lives knowing that men can hurt them.

Beyond the End of the World Amie by Kaufman & Meagan Spooner | January 18, 2022

This is a sequel so read the synopsis at your own peril!

Perfect for fans of Brandon Sanderson and Laini Taylor, this sequel to New York Times bestselling authors Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s genre-bending fantasy The Other Side of the Sky takes us to the grand sky-city of Ciel, where danger and mystery await.

Time to stop Inshara. Time to find a way between worlds. Time to find each other again.

Nimh still holds on to her divinity, if only by a thread.

In her final confrontation with Inshara, the woman determined to take her place and rule Nimh’s kingdom, both Nimh and her enemy were sent to the world above, in the cloudlands.

Now North looks to the sky, left behind on the surface world.

Desperate for a chance to join the girl he loves and save his world, North will stop at nothing to find a way back to his home in the sky-city of Ciel. Before it’s too late to save anyone.

But more awaits them in the world above than North or Nimh could ever expect. And as they come together and team up with allies from above and below, they face an ultimate test of their bond, their abilities, and their belief in each other in a quest to save their worlds.

Vivid, compelling, and absolutely magnetic, this much-anticipated sequel to New York Times bestselling authors Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s The Other Side of the Sky has something for every reader: a star-crossed love full of tantalizing longing, unique and immersive new worlds to explore, and nonstop thrills that escalate into an unforgettably electric conclusion. 

Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall | January 25, 2022

From the acclaimed author of Boyfriend Material comes a delightfully witty romance featuring a reserved duke who’s betrothed to one twin and hopelessly enamoured of the other.

Valentine Layton, the Duke of Malvern, has twin problems: literally.

It was always his father’s hope that Valentine would marry Miss Arabella Tarleton. But, unfortunately, too many novels at an impressionable age have caused her to grow up…romantic. So romantic that a marriage of convenience will not do and after Valentine’s proposal she flees into the night determined never to set eyes on him again.

Arabella’s twin brother, Mr. Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton, has also grown up…romantic. And fully expects Valentine to ride out after Arabella and prove to her that he’s not the cold-hearted cad he seems to be.

Despite copious misgivings, Valentine finds himself on a pell-mell chase to Dover with Bonny by his side. Bonny is unreasonable, overdramatic, annoying, and…beautiful? And being with him makes Valentine question everything he thought he knew. About himself. About love. Even about which Tarleton he should be pursuing.

The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka | January 25, 2022

They were cowriting literary darlings until they hit a plot hole that turned their lives upside down.

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.

Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman | January 25, 2022

A pure pleasure of a novel set in Georgian London, where the discovery of a mysterious ancient Greek vase sets in motion conspiracies, revelations and romance.

There is a fine line between coincidence and fate…

London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.

But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.

Gorgeously atmospheric and deliciously page-turning, PANDORA is a story of secrets and deception, love and fulfilment, fate and hope.


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

FIVE SERIES TO FINISH IN 2022

Hi, Hollis here! A few years ago I bemoaned all my started-but-unfinished series and went to some painstaking effort to shelve them on GR to keep track. I quickly discontinued that effort but the fact remains that we as readers, and we here at A Take from Two Cities, start so many series and only manage to finish some. Whether that’s because said series are yet to be completed, delayed, or just forgotten about amidst all the other new releases, who can say. But to keep us (me) accountable, I want to start a blog series not unlike our Five On Our TBRs but where we (I) try to complete (at least!) five series a year.

This was incredibly successful for me in 2021 (I finished all five!), and kept me not just accountable but motivated.

Topping my list for series I’d like to complete in 2022 are :

Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series. As we’ve come to expect by now, this will necessitate a reread of book one and book two, as I read these back in highschool in [year redacted]. I may also attempt to read past the main trilogy (books four to six and seven to nine both have their own arcs, I believe) but I’m not committing to that on paper.

The Middle of Somewhere series by Roan Parrish. This was one of my early(ish) forays into discovering m/m authors and I only got as far as book one because I was flitting from one thing to another. While I haven’t loved everything by this author, I hope this series might turn out to be a win.

The All Souls series by Deborah Harkness. I bailed on book three after how disappointed I was by book two but almost all my bookie friends say this was a very good end, so. I need to get on this one. And the fourth book, companion, too, I guess.

Danielle L Jensen’s Malediction Trilogy was such a huge find at the time of it’s release because.. troll YA fantasy? How cool! Book one was so also good. Sadly I remember nothing about book two which might explain why I held off on book three. Unlike the last few this is an owned physical series so if this doesn’t end up satisfying..? Well at least I get back some shelf space.

And lastly, for this round up, Ellie Marney’s Every series. This is a YA reimagining/modern retelling of Sherlock Homes (sorta) except it’s about Watson and Mycroft and I absolutely went nuts for books one and two. To the point that I wouldn’t shut up about it. And then I never read book three. Much like another series on this list there’s also now a fourth book that I believe is less connected to the main series and more a companion? I’ll tackle that, too.

Last year’s edition of this post made it seem I was a “one and done” series reader. But almost this whole 2022 edition is spotlighting “Hollis has a book three problem”. I guess you can be both!


Are there any series you’re prioritizing this year? We’d love to know!

ALL THE FEELS by Olivia Dade – double review!

Hollis is raining on Micky’s parade with this reblog as she had a lot less good feels than her buddy about this one.

A Take from Two Cities

FollowingSpoiler Alert, Olivia Dade returns with another utterly charming romantic comedy about a devil-may-care actor—who actually cares more than anyone knows—and the no-nonsense woman hired to keep him in line.

Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Sex appeal. Wealth. Fame. A starring role as Cupid on TV’s biggest show, God of the Gates. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he’s dogged by old demons, and his post-show future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.

Enter Lauren Clegg, the former ER therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over handsome but impulsive Alex shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time they spend together, the harder it gets to keep her professional remove and her heart intact, especially when she discovers the reasons behind his recklessness…not to…

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TOP TEN READS OF 2021

It is with much angst and wringing of hands that we present our Top Ten Reads of 2021.

For clarity, these are books we read in 2021, not necessary books published in 2021, and presented in no particular order.


Micky’s Top Ten of 2021

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier
Fire by Kristin Cashore
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata
Seven Days In June by Tia Williams


Hollis’ Top Ten of 2021

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane
The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews
Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
Lore Olympus : Season One by Rachel Smythe
Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier (reread)


Have you made a top ten, top three or top fifty? Let us know some of your favourties.

AURORA’S END by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

The squad you love is out of time. Prepare for the thrilling finale in the epic, best-selling Aurora Cycle series about a band of unlikely heroes who just might be the galaxy’s last hope for survival.

Is this the end?


What happens when you ask a bunch of losers, discipline cases, and misfits to save the galaxy from an ancient evil? The ancient evil wins, of course.

Wait. . . . Not. So. Fast.

When we last saw Squad 312, they were working together seamlessly (aka, freaking out) as an intergalactic battle raged and an ancient superweapon threatened to obliterate Earth. Everything went horribly wrong, naturally.
But as it turns out, not all endings are endings, and the team has one last chance to rewrite theirs. Maybe two. It’s complicated.

Cue Zila, Fin, and Scarlett (and MAGELLAN!): making friends, making enemies, and making history? Sure, no problem

Cue Tyler, Kal, and Auri: uniting with two of the galaxy’s most hated villains? Um, okay. That, too.

Actually saving the galaxy, though? 

Now that will take a miracle. 


Title : Aurora’s End
Author : Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series : The Aurora Cycle (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 512
Genre : YA sci-fi
Publisher : Knopf Books For Young Readers 
Release Date : November 9, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

I definitely didn’t expect to rate this one higher than a three but I did not quite expect to rate it lower than a three. Yet here we are.

Obviously, nothing I say in this review will make any kind of sense because it’ll all be vagueries because this here is a series ender. That aside..

This was a very.. samesies kind of series. We of course had big moments, big reveals, big heartbreaks, of varying kinds, in each instalment, but in each review I was just feeling a lot of like, no real love. Certainly not any other strong emotions about anything. And it was all that but worse in this finale.

Once again, things did take a turn I wasn’t expecting, we had some interesting direction to much of the squad’s conflict (both separate and as part of the whole) but, again, I was only half tuned in. As in, I wasn’t distracted or bored but I could easily have been pulled away from the book and not been mad about it.

Having read books by both of these authors, as solos or various duos, and enjoyed most of those other reads, I definitely don’t think it was an author or writing thing. I just think it was a plot and character thing. Mostly I just kept wishing I was reading the Illuminae Files. Sorry not sorry?

However. If you love sci-fi, if you love big stakes, aliens, romance, and action, you could probably do worse! In fact, I know you could. I also know I’m a bit of an outlier for this series so hey what do I even know. What I do know is that I might be a little less keen for whatever these specific two put out next; not in the sense that I wouldn’t pick them up but more in the sense of expectations and investment.

WRAPPED UP IN YOU by Talia Hibbert

William Reid is nothing special, except for his billion-dollar acting career and his, you know, face. (Apparently, it’s a good one.) Winning ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ was nice, but this Christmas, he has more important goals in mind… like finally winning over his best friend’s little sister, the super-smart and kinda-scary Abbie Farrell.

When a blizzard leaves Will and Abbie alone at Grandma Farrell’s house (if bunking with 27 pets counts as ‘alone’), it’s the perfect opportunity to pull off a Christmas miracle. Convincing clever, frosty Abbie to give Will a chance will take more than mistletoe, but hiding his lifelong crush on her is no longer an option.


Title : Wrapped Up In You
Author : Talia Hibbert
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 127
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Kobo Originals
Release Date : November 16, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

What a perfectly timed addition to my library’s Recently Added section. Even better it was available for immediate reading which I did. Immediately. And in one sitting. Which was kind of a no brainer as it was a short little novella full of holiday cheer, angst, and romance.

I’ll admit, this time, Hibbert’s male love interest won the game. The show. My heart. A Chris Evan’s-ish kind of character, William grew up next door to Abbie but upon reaching young adulthood went to Hollywood to became an actor. And he became quite successful, actually. He is a bit of a himbo and honestly that just adds to his appeal. An appeal that was already a lot considering his intense and enduring, but patient, love for Abbie.

Abbie meanwhile has been through some stuff. She’s also not the biggest fan of Christmas. So when her longtime friend, who she’s harboured complex but impossible feelings for, suddenly reveals all on Christmas? What’s a girl to do but deny deny deny.

Anyway, I won’t go into any more detail, not that it’s hard to follow along where things go next, but. For such a short story, this was eMOTIONAL. There was a gorgeous scene between Abbie and her twin brother that just.. ugh, things got blurry. But also every confession, every hard-won exchange of feelings between the two leads, all the realness and trauma and patience was just.. gah.

I wish I could’ve had this in long novel form but even in it’s shorter span it was still delightful. I do think, though, it would have a higher rating from me had some of the issues been.. well, more of an issue, to warrant the angst. Or at least had more time to breathe? I don’t know quite how to describe it. But also, Will’s childhood? That little bit of exposition? Oh my god, I desperately want it.

Nevertheless, Hibbert rarely stumbles and this certainly isn’t one of them. Definitely a must for the season.

WISHING YOU..

We just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best. Whether you celebrate Hannukah, Solstice, Christmas, or nothing at all, we are thinking of you and hoping you are (again and always) well, safe, and hale.

It’s been another hard year, after an already hard year, for us all and for some of you this holiday season may be adding to that; especially for those of you on your own or unable to celebrate. You are all in our thoughts.

Micky & Hollis xx

TOP TEN DISAPPOINTING READS OF 2021

Despite the title, this isn’t a post where we plan to poo-poo on authors who have disappointed us. It’s more to be reflective of the books we were initially anticipating or desperate for.. and how they fared in execution vs expectation. Also please know that if any of these books, or authors, are your favourites, that’s great! Every reading experience is different.

Worth noting is some of these books might have been three stars. But if we expected it to be a five, it’s kind of disappointing to only like, not love, it. Please bear that in mind. Disappointment doesn’t mean hate; but there might be some on those in this list, too.

For clarity, these are books we read in 2021, not necessary books published in 2021, and presented in no particular order.

And so with those disclaimer out of the way..

Hollis’ Top Ten Disappointing Reads :

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
Dark Rise by C.S. Pacat
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles
The Ippos King by Grace Draven
King of Scars Duology by Leigh Bardugo

Micky’s Top Ten Disappointing Reads :

Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harlow
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Madam by Phoebe Wynn
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins-Reid
Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
The Forevers by Chris Whittaker
An Emotion of Great Delight by Tarereh Mafi
Little Thieves by Margaret Owen
Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Santoro
The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood-Hargrave


If you were one of those “lucky” few who caught us (Hollis) accidentally publishing a draft of this early, sorry! But sURPRISE, the nature of our post has changed, so you likely didn’t actually get spoiled by our list. And speaking of which.. do you have a list of any disappointments? Let us know in the comments!

FROM BLOOD AND ASH by Jennifer L Armentrout

A Maiden…

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty…

The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom…

Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.


Title : From Blood and Ash
Author : Jennifer L Armentrout
Series : Blood and Ash #1
Format : ebook
Page Count : 622
Genre : Fantasy/PNR
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : March 29, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Slow start but picked up at 20%
Shocks around the corners
Jaw dropping addiction

That was one hell of a ride! From Blood and Ash starts slow, there’s world building to be done but do not be put off because by 15-20% of the way in, it was an addiction. That world building I mentioned? Yeah, some of that comes tumbling down, all to shock the reader.

Poppy as a character was complex and well-constructed. She was a woman shielded from life but revered and abused at the same time. She had scars in all the ways and I loved her tenacity, badassery and deep compassion. Hawke was a complex character and more difficult to fathom, shady as-**** but appealing all the same. I still feel conflicted but addicted by him at the end. There was serious conflict between these two that channeled in lust and hate.

Plot wise, this was cleverly thought out, lulling the reader into one way of thinking then producing twist after twist. I dropped into some buddies DMs giving them live reactions and gif while they laughed at me. Such a satisfying read in terms of unexpectedness despite the one main twist I guessed.

It’s not a perfect read with the slow start but it feels like a great read all the same. I can’t wait to read the next one.

I’ve read pretty much all of JLA’s catalogue and I’ve been reading her nearly for a decade but she still managed to surprise me with this one and this was probably the most steamy of hers I’ve read.

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