ANTICIPATED FEBRUARY 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 February, our hotly anticipated titles, in chronological order, are :


Love Locked Down by Beth Reekles | February 1, 2022

Five couples. One week. A love story like no other . . . 

When an apartment block is put on lockdown, its residents are in for a whirlwind week. Wild and reckless Imogen is stuck living with a one-night-stand in Flat 14 whose name she can’t remember (and who she tried to steal a t-shirt from while sneaking out), and is forced face the reality that maybe it’s time she grew up.

Upstairs, Isla and Danny are still in their honeymoon period, but a warts-and-all week together so early in the relationship could make or break their romance (hello, secretly applying concealer in the bathroom at 6am). Meanwhile, Zach and Serena’s steady relationship is on tenterhooks, and pineapple on pizza might actually be the last straw.

At Flat 22, Olivia’s Maid of Honour duties are pushing her to the edge as a wedding-planning weekend has turned into an entire (nightmarish) week… And speaking of weddings, this whole thing has made Ethan realise he wants to spend the rest of his life with Charlotte, if only he can surprise her with the perfect proposal – and find a way to sneak her into the building . . .

Castles In Their Bones by Laura Sebastian | February 1, 2022

A spellbinding story of three princesses and the destiny they were born for: seduction, conquest, and the crown. Immerse yourself in the first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the author of the New York Times bestselling Ash Princess series.

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other?

Domestic Animals by Gregory Ashe | February 11, 2022

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

Sometimes, the most dangerous animals are the ones you let inside.

When a man hires Emery Hazard to track down a teenager who, he claims, robbed him, Hazard isn’t convinced. The story has holes in it, and the client seems eager—too eager—to keep the authorities from getting involved. But Hazard is willing to play along; he suspects something much darker is going on, and he wants to know what it is.

Then his husband, John-Henry Somerset, connects the boy in question to an ongoing suspicious death investigation, and both men realize they’ve stumbled upon something much more complicated. There are too many loose threads: missing money, stolen jewelry, a husband back from the dead, and a string of violent assaults on men paying for sex. And there are too many people with their own agendas.

After Hazard’s client turns up dead, though, the pressure is on. The killer isn’t done yet, and the closer Hazard and Somers come to unearthing the connection between the victims, the greater the danger. They find themselves in a race to uncover the truth before another victim is claimed—and, if Somers is really lucky, in time for him to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day.

House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas | February 15, 2022

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

Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.

The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it. 

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len | February 17 (UK), February 22 (US/CAN), 2022

With the sweeping romance of Passenger and the dark fantasy edge of This Savage Song, this standout YA contemporary fantasy debut from Vanessa Len, is the first in a planned trilogy.

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .

. . . she is not the hero. 

Mickey 7 by Edward Ashton | February 17, 2022

A sci fi adventure tackling questions of who we are, what is human, and how far would we go to stay alive?

Mickey7 is an Expendable: a disposable employee on a human expedition sent to colonize the ice world Niflheim. Whenever there’s a mission that’s too dangerous—even suicidal— the crew turns to Mickey. After one iteration dies, a new body is regenerated with most of his memories intact. Mickey signed on to escape from both bad debts and boredom on Midgard. After six deaths, Mickey7 understands the terms of his deal… and why it was the only colonial position unfilled when he took it. 


On a fairly routine scouting mission, Mickey7 goes missing and is presumed dead. By the time he returns to the colony base, surprisingly helped back by native life, Mickey7’s fate has been sealed. There’s a new clone, Mickey8, reporting for Expendable duties. While Expendables make most of the crew nervous, the idea of duplicates is universally loathed. If caught, they will likely be thrown into the recycler for protein.


Mickey7 must keep his double a secret from the rest of the colony. That includes everyone from best friend and combat pilot Berto to his Expendable-hating superior Commander Marshall. Meanwhile, life on Niflheim is getting worse. Niflheim’s atmosphere is unsuitable for humans, food is in short supply and terraforming is going poorly. The native species that had helped Mickey survive his scouting mission, known to the colonizers as Critters, are growing curious about their new neighbors. And that curiosity has Commander Marshall very afraid. Ultimately, the survival of both lifeforms will come down to Mickey7. That is, if he can just keep from dying for good.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea by Axie Oh | February 22, 2022

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…


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

CASTLES IN THEIR BONES by Laura Sebastian

Born to rule. Raised to deceive.

The plot: overthrow a kingdom. The goal: world domination. The plan: marriage.

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides – because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal – to bring down monarchies – and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vestria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans – and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone – not even each other?

Laura Sebastian stuns in this new trilogy from the New York Times bestselling author of Ash Princess. A spellbinding story of three princesses and the destiny they were born for: seduction, conquest, and the crown.


Title : Castles In Their Bones
Author : Laura Sebastian
Series : Castles In Their Bones #1
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 528
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : February 1, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3-3.5 star review

Headlines:
Three princesses separated but working together
Nothing is as it seems
Control, subversiveness and stardust

Castles In Their Bones was a really interesting world and concept, I have lots of positive things to say about this book and reading experience. It started very strong and it was incredibly easy to get my teeth into.

This story is orientated around three star-born triplet princesses coming into adulthood and off to marry Kings and princes in other lands as agreed at their birth. What was engaging about this story was how Beatriz, Sophronia and Daphne were raised, to be tools and to be strategic. Their mother was not nurturing.

There was a background magic system orientated towards the stars, the ability to draw dust from the stars and it’s uses. It wasn’t overtly prominent but it was a convenient plot device. The characters these sisters met and crafted relationships with in their new lands were interesting. I must say it was hard sometimes to keep track with the three new lands and their characters in tandem. In general, the narrative was orientated around the three sisters’ POVs.

I enjoyed this read but it didn’t wow me, I’d definitely like to see where it goes in the next book thanks to a twisty ending and a late shock plot turn. It felt a little long to read and it lost pace a little for my taste, but that could have just been me. I think this read will appeal to those lovers of YA fantasy with royal context.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.

FIVE ON OUR TBRS

We’ve found that breaking down our TBRs can be something that inspires us to pick up hidden or briefly forgotten reads. ‘Five on my TBR’ is something that we have done a few times on bookstagram but it originated with someone else, though, eek, we’ve no idea who (if you’re the creator of this, please let us know and we will credit you!).

We are starting off the new year with the hope that we will include updates in this TBR series more often than we might have done last year. But whether we do or not (who can say!), here we are showing what’s risen to the top of our TBRs and/or what has us buzzed.

Micky’s five


King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
The Last Astronaut by David Wellington
The Sad Ghost Club Volume 2 by Lize Meddings
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier

Yes, I’ve transferred King of Scars for the third time but triumphing in that I read the other four off my last 5 on our tbrs posts. After finishing a Juliet Marillier series recently, I need more so this duo of hers is calling me and Hollis bought me one of the books. Sad Ghost Club volume 1 was a delight, so I need to jump into the second. Do we share any excitables?


Hollis’ five

Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee
Girls of Fate and Fury by Natasha Ngan
The Barnabus Project by Terry Fan

I’m using some of the similar energy I channeled in the last post of this series and I’m tackling a trilogy in lieu of three separate books. The Green Bone Saga isn’t part of my Series to Complete goal but still one I’m way overdue to complete. I’m excited to crush the finale of the Girls of Paper and Fury series not because I like it (welp) but because I want to.. well, complete it. And finally I’m just generally excited about The Barnabus Project because it was pitched at a publisher event and looks adorable and if it is as amazing as I hope it’s going on the books to buy list for my nieces.


Tell us the top five books on your TBR! Do any of ours make your lists?

SOMETHING FABULOUS by Alexis Hall – double review!

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. 


Title : Something Fabulous
Author : Alexis Hall
Series : Something Fabulous (book one?)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 363
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ historical romance
Publisher : Montlake
Release Date : January 25, 2022

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

This read was a bit of a peaks and valleys situation for me. How I was feeling when this book started was not how I felt all throughout but definitely by the end I had come back around so many times that I ended on the same note I began. Which is to say.. it was fine.

You doubt my capacity? How infirm do you think I am?
I never said you were infirm. You’re very firm. Almost.. excessively firm, really.
I understand you’re trying to be reassuring, but stop it at once.

But there was so much greatness in and around the fine-ness.

What really ruined this for me was our male love interest’s sister, the one Valentine, our protagonist, is meant to be marrying. While we do — riiiight near the end — get some general insight as to what is driving her, beyond the obvious, to avoid this marriage, I’ll admit.. the damage had long been done. She was just too frustrating and ridiculous and dramatic and honestly I was glad we didn’t have more scenes with her than we did.

I’m relieved that one of you at least is blessed with some modicum of sense.
I mean, she could be captured by pirates or highwaymen or.. or vampires or anything.”
Forgive me, I spoke prematurely.”

Whereas Valentine, our Duke, for all that he was seemingly in the wrong.. I didn’t think he deserved half his bad rep? He broke my heart more often than not. Maybe that’s the benefit of having his perspective vs the others but honestly he didn’t deserve the half of it.

The twin, Bonny, well. He was a slowburn warm up, at least for me. I was tickled by his early interactions and then just mildly tolerant but overall I did enjoy him. He was definitely the right amount of outlandish sunshine-y silliness to Valentine’s.. well, Valentine.

I can’t believe you like me.”
If it’s any consolation, neither can I.

I will warn you that this is a bit ridiculous, a lot of camp, even some satire. Hall deploys all the usual tropes with a twist while also making this historical incredibly and enthusiastically, and unabashedly, queer. But heavy emphasis on the silly and ridiculous. Just know that going in.

I wish I had loved this a little more but Belle honestly did too much damage to my sanity to rate this higher. But. The good times? Were great. As was most of the banter. I’m not at all mad about the time I spent with this one. I don’t quite know if it’s to be a series, not GR definitely lists a “one” next to the series, so I’m keen to see who we would read about next. But if it’s Belle’s story.. well. Maybe not.

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


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Silliness and camptastic
A romp across the country
Irritation to more

Stow your serious side as you enter into Something Fabulous. It’s silly but endearingly entertaining all the same. It had shades of the ridiculous but again, you tolerate it for the ride. These two characters, a lesson in rubbing one another up the wrong way were such polar opposites.

Valentine was the pompous Duke who seemed to have little insight into his own sexual preferences, desires and he had no idea how others perceived him. Self awareness was not his forte and was his early downfall in the marriage stakes. Bonny was all contrast, overtly aware of who he was, what he liked and he seemed to like Valentine.

Their banter seemed to multiply exponentially which sometimes proved a bit much for my tastes but overall, I had plenty of laughs along with these two. I did not have laughs with Belle, Bonny’s sister however. Reading this I would go from snickers to annoyance in a few pages and that dragged my enjoyment down. It took me a while to read this one and I’m blaming Belle in the background and foreground!

Thank you to the publisher through netgalley for an early review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – JANUARY 25, 2022

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.


Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall is a queer historical romance romp from the author of Boyfriend Material.

The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka is this author’s adult romance debut and features it’s own author duo having to come back together to write another book after their friendship, and partnership, has fractured.

Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman is a historical novel where an ancient greek vase is found in 1799, what could go wrong with that title?

Running Wild by KA Tucker is the newest addition in The Simple Wild series but this is more of a companion, focusing on Marie.

Seven Mercies by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May wraps up this feminist space opera duology. Micky is planning on seeing this one through.



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

THE ROUGHEST DRAFT by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

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.


Title : The Roughest Draft
Author : Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : January 25, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

Welp, this one is a wee bit of a bummer. Not that three stars is b a d, she says, endlessly into the void that is her own guilt complex. Ahem. But. Yeah, I definitely through this would wow me a lot more than it did.

This is the Wibbroka duo’s first adult romance so, hey, it’s basically like a debut, so I definitely won’t shy away from picking up their next attempt (please tell me there’s a next attempt) and it certainly won’t put me off their YA titles. But the epic spark and chemistry I expected.. well, it fizzled. Right as the couple got together.

These two writers, once darlings, have split after two books together. Four years have passed and with another book still on contract, and some pressure from Katrina’s fiancée (spoiler, I hated him, and you’re supposed to), not to mention how the buzz might inspire more sales for Nathan’s recent solo offering which.. didn’t flop but is not flying off the shelves, they reunite.

Untangling what went wrong, experiencing their tension, the struggle to fake being friends, even as they slowly become friendly again, the whole dynamic was great. But when we find out what sent them in opposite directions — by the way, we get flashbacks through the story — well. I had feelings. And then when these two finally worked it all out and their relationship changed.. I was.. not underwhelmed but. I was whelmed.

I was really into the concept of this, I enjoyed some the post-working-it-out conflict and unresolved angst of it all, and I especially enjoyed watching these two characters’ method for co-authoring (could it be how the authors themselves right? curious!), but between the fiancée, the letdown of the aforementioned reveals and romance, it just kinda went sideways on me. Part of this could be my expectations, I was hyped for this, but the other part I don’t think is me. So. Make of that what you will!

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

LOVE AND OTHER DISASTERS by Anita Kelly

The first openly nonbinary contestant on America’s favorite cooking show falls for their clumsy competitor in this delicious romantic comedy debut “that is both fantastically fun and crack your heart wide open vulnerable.” (Rosie Danan, author of The Roommate)

Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she’s focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money.

After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.

As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after.


Title : Love And Other Disasters
Author : Anita Kelly
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : Contemporary Romance/LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Headline Eternal
Release Date : January 18, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Great characterisation
Finding the real
Sweetness

I requested this book for the non-binary MC and for me, that element and the romantic connection was the thing I enjoyed most about this book. London was a grumpy, serious then often sweet character. Delilah was wildly flamoyant with anxious tendencies which made for an interesting mix as a couple.

The context of the cooking show had me somewhat disinterested and that’s probably because I’ve read a few this year, so I just wasn’t ready for another. I didn’t feel like we saw a great depth to the other characters in the story but Delilah and London were strong.

It was interesting seeing London and Delilah throw off their baggage, previous lives and find some new reality, I welcomed those parts. Overall this was enjoyable but it didn’t blow me away.

Please check out queer reviewers on this title.

Thank you to Headline Eternal for the review copy.

A FATAL CROSSING by Tom Hindle

November 1924. The Endeavour sets sail to New York with 2,000 passengers – and a killer – on board . . .

When an elderly gentleman is found dead at the foot of a staircase, ship’s officer Timothy Birch is ready to declare it a tragic accident. But James Temple, a strong-minded Scotland Yard inspector, is certain there is more to this misfortune than meets the eye.

Birch agrees to investigate, and the trail quickly leads to the theft of a priceless painting. Its very existence is known only to its owner . . . and the dead man.

With just days remaining until they reach New York, and even Temple’s purpose on board the Endeavour proving increasingly suspicious, Birch’s search for the culprit is fraught with danger.

And all the while, the passengers continue to roam the ship with a killer in their midst . . .


Title : A Fatal Crossing
Author : Tom Hindle
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 449
Genre : Historical Murder Mystery
Publisher : Century Books
Release Date : January 20, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
High seas mystery
Crew, toffs, mob and conmen

This historical murder mystery set on an atlantic crossing in the 1920s is unlike my usual reading choices but it turned out to be a good choice nonetheless. This was a story that started out with what seemed to be a reasonably easy to fathom death that may or may not be a crime. All this evolved into an incredibly knotted web of shenanigans. I was hooked from the first chapter.

The story brought two key characters in Birch, the ship’s officer and Temple, the policeman who happened to be on the boat; don’t ever believe in coincidences. Birch really had my heartstrings with his rather tragic past and depressed nature. I liked him a lot and felt him to be the intergrity compass of the piece. Temple seemed shady from the start with a slice of maybe he’s okay.

Side entrance to some stolen artwork, a lot of entitled toffs, a few characters from third class and a the crew being encouraged to hide what was happening to 2000 passengers. I read avidly, there was a bit of a lull after midway but then it picked up again.

There were some incredible twists to the plot, none more than the final twist. I would never have seen that coming and I really didn’t sense any foreshadowing even on reflection. Raymond maybe had me wondering at something but I wasn’t sure what.

This was a great debut, a great whodunnit that was really well crafted and written.

Thank you to Sarah Harwood PR and Century Books for the early review copy.

REAL EASY by Marie Rutkoski

Three Women meets Tana French in a compulsive, unflinching and unexpectedly hopeful thriller set in a midwestern strip club.

It’s 1999, and Samantha has danced for years at the Lovely Lady strip club.

She’s not used to taking anyone under her wing – after all, between her disapproving boyfriend and his daughter, who may as well be her own child, she has enough to worry about. But when Samantha overrides her better judgment to drive a new dancer home, they are run off the road. The police arrive at the scene of the accident – but find only one body.

Georgia, another dancer, is drawn into the investigation as she tries to assist Holly, a detective with a complicated story of her own. As the point of view shifts from police officers and detectives to club patrons, the women circle around a list of suspects, all the while grappling with their own understanding of loss and love.

As they get closer to the truth they must each confront a fundamental question:

How do women live their lives knowing that men can hurt them?


Title : Real Easy
Author : Marie Rutkoski
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Tinder Press
Release Date : January 18, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★


Micky’s 2 star review

Headlines:
Plot potential
Choppy writing
Many, many POVs

This is a hard review for me to write as I love MR’s books in the fantasy worlds she’s written but I didn’t love this despite wanting to. The stripper club world of Real Easy was engaging, interesting and fascinating, all the more for being set in the late 1990s.

This ‘sisterhood’ of dancers behind the scenes was full of connections, jealousy, support and rivalry. I connected as reader with Samantha but ultimately that was a mistake. The other characters in this story were tolerable but there were not any that I could connect with. Once the book hit 30%, the POVs exploded and it made for difficult reading. Adding to that, the choppy moves from one POV to another, sometimes after a page or two were jolting. This was a book written with very descriptive detail.

Plot wise, I was on board for the first quarter but I stayed around for completion. I didn’t enjoy the plot and I ultimately found it a dissatisfying story.

From a social commentary perspective of the time, the seedy world that was portrayed, this book had fascinating aspects but ultimately the execution of the story and the POVs didn’t work for me.

There are lots of content warnings for this book, so please DM me if you want to know more.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an early copy of this book.

FLAME OF SEVENWATERS by Juliet Marillier – double review!

Maeve, daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, was badly burned as a child and carries the legacy of that fire in her crippled hands. After ten years she’s returning home, a courageous, forthright woman. But while her body’s scars have healed, her spirit remains fragile, fearing the shadows of her past.
 
Sevenwaters is in turmoil. The fey prince Mac Dara is desperate to see his only son, married to Maeve’s sister, return to the Otherworld. To force Lord Sean’s hand, Mac Dara has caused a party of innocent travelers on the Sevenwaters border to vanish—only to allow their murdered bodies to be found one by one.
 
When Maeve finds a body in a remote part of the woods, she and her brother, Finbar, embark on a journey that could bring about the end of Mac Dara’s reign—or lead to a hideous death. If she is successful, Maeve may open the door to a future she has not dared to believe possible…. 


Title : Flame of Sevenwaters
Author : Juliet Marillier
Series : Sevenwaters (book six)
Format : physical
Page Count : 432
Genre : fantasy / historical fiction / retellings
Publisher : Roc
Release Date : December 7, 2010

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


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Riding the waves of all the feelings
Animals to break and heal your heart
Family

This series means so much to me now, finishing this last book on such a high has been emotional, wonderful and special. This series across generations has connected me to the Sevenwaters family and characters in the most unforgettable way.

Flame of Sevenwater brought us back to Maeve who we last saw in tragic circumstances in book three. This book represents disability so well, with realism, difficulty but also in an empowering way, showing Maeve’s autonomy and determination. Maeve was an easy character to love, a true heroine with biggest heart. Her skill, love and care towards animals was everything.

Bear, Badger, Swift, Finbar and the snatch we saw of Becan were so much of my favourite parts of this story. While I saw where the plot was ultimately going, there was one genius twist towards the end that pulled me back from ‘how could she do this to us again’ to Marillier is a genius’ territory.

That’s it. I’ll be over here in my emotions, my soggy tissues and in our buddy reading DMs until I’ve run out of gush.

Go read this series.


Hollis’ 4 star review

2022 has been off to a slightly shaky start but sinking into a Sevenwaters book was just what I needed; even though this was a bittersweet undertaking knowing it was the last in the series.

This world has such a special place in my heart, as I’ve gone on about endlessly, and it was so nice to have a reread, with some special friends, and also have the opportunity to finally reread the companion trilogy. They don’t quite hold a candle to the originals but each are special in their own way. And with Flame of Sevenwaters, Maeve’s story, we had a culmination of everything these last books had been leading up to whilst also having something of an homage to the original book that started it all. 

If I were telling a story of Sevenwaters — and it would be a grand epic told over all the nights of a long winter — I would surely end it with a triumph. A happy ending.”

And it is. A happy ending; as much as one can have in a Marillier story, at least. Maybe not in the obvious way for everyone, and certainly it isn’t an end for all, but there is an ending of a kind and happiness to be found for many — some immediately and some to come. And that’s what has always been a marvel about this world. It is so real, full of complex and complicated characters, differing motivations even within the same family, different priorities, but always a strong love, a strength of character. 

We don’t get a full reunion of all the siblings in the way many series-enders get but we did get a few people together again — even as a few bid farewell — and it was more special because of that, and less overwhelming, too. There are too many standout characters to have seen them all and there were enough updates along the way that those characters without page time still felt seen.

As for Maeve, I love that Marillier gave us a heroine with a disability. We’ve seen a main character before that had a different physical challenge, though in that case it had less to do with how others treated her and more about how she looked upon herself. In some ways it was also easier to hide. In this case it was very much out in the open and while Maeve wasn’t without some self-pity on occasion it was more in light of how others treated her vesus how she often felt about herself. Additionally, it was a disability that needed not just strength to endure but trust in those around her; both in knowing how much she could push herself, or be capable of, but also to trust they not be embarrassed or ashamed of her. Which makes coming back to Sevenwaters, after so long away, and to where she had been hurt, all the more frightening and challenging. But Maeve does it; not for herself but for a charge in need of her strength. A strength that plays a key role in the inevitable confrontation with the Big Bad.

I had done my best not to weep. I had tried not to feel sorry for myself. It came to me that it is not trials and travails that bring us down, but unexpected moments of kindness.

This one didn’t get me quite as emotional as many other in this series but there were plenty of feels during many interactions between Maeve and her brother and also with Ciarán. Once again this unlikely character from the main trilogy has had a chokehold on me for every book that has followed book three and I love that this book made a point to highlight his impact; not just on the others but the impact on him, too. 

As for the romance, well. This one may surprise you a little but if you followed the breadcrumbs.. maybe not. I’ll admit things do rush ahead a bit during the big moments, which was a bit of a pacing whiplash after all the dragging on prior to the conflict (I found myself rather impatient during these scenes, maybe because I just wanted all to finally be revealed? don’t know), but we get a few calmer quiet scenes to solidify all the big dramatic outpourings. And, again, as we have seen before, I like that things aren’t quite all wrapped up and signed, sealed, delivered by the final page. But we know they will be.

My issue with the pacing notwithstanding, this might be my favourite of the companion trilogy just for how much it gave me some original series vibes while still being very much it’s own creature. It was a nice way to book end this series and it definitely ends things on a higher note than the last two. I’m so pleased my Sevenwaters Squad feels the same way, too, as this whole journey was all new for them and I didn’t want them to come out feeling disappointed in any way after all my hype and bother.

With the series wrapped, we might not be the Sevenwaters Squad any longer but there’s plenty of Marillier still to consume. Maybe we’ll be the Marillier Maniacs instead? Who knows. 

If you still have yet to discover this series, or this author, I cannot recommend her enough. With stories full of heart, wisdom, respecting the earth and hearth, feats of strength of all kinds, love stories that truly conquer all, magic and sacrifice, the bonds of family, heartbreak and healing, and so much more, you can’t go wrong.




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