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HENCH by Natalie Zina Walschots

Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy?

 As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called “hero” leaves her badly injured.  And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one.

So, of course, then she gets laid off.

With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.

Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing.  And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.

It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.

A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics.


Title : Hench
Author : Natalie Zina Walschots
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 403
Genre : sci-fi / fantasy
Publisher : William Morrow
Release Date : September 22, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★  .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This was brutal and yet brilliant, not to say they are mutually exclusive, and I loved it. I spent a week and a half reading this (very unlike me, this year has been weird so far..) and yet even when I wasn’t, I was still thinking about it. Maybe had I blasted through it at my usual supersonic speed I would have more things to nitpick but.. this is how it went.

The vibe is much more shitty start-up than lair.”
Oh.”
Did you think there was a fucking lava moat?
Shut up.”
You did.
Shut up.”

If the show (or at least the premise) of The Boys intrigues you, if you love superhero stuff but want something grittier, want something that tackles the repercussions of heroism and super powers, if you want to see the villains win (maybe?) for once, you should absolutely pick this up.

Anna, do you know what this means?
That I may never walk normally again?
You fought Supercollider! You’re, like, a real supervillain!
If by ‘fought’ you mean ‘bled internally’ then, yes, the battle was long and valiant.

I honestly think that I would truly recommend you just read the synopsis for this one because I don’t think I could sell it to you any better. There are low-level henchmen pumping through excel sheets and crunching data, there is social media weaponry, there is physical therapy from an on-the-job injury, there is questioning of how far can one go even when you taking down the real bad guys, and just so much more.

Superheroes, for all their good PR, were terrible for the world.

It swings from being hilarious, thought provoking, and then gut-clenchingly gross (though to be fair this really only happens during one scene) and is made up of all the moral shades of grey. And.. yeah, I’ll say it again : so much more.

This definitely won’t be for everyone but for those who enjoy it, I think you’ll enjoy it a lot.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – JANUARY 18, 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.


Real Easy by Marie Rutkoski is a step into a new genre for this author with a retro thiller set in a strip club. We’re definitely interested in seeing what this is like!

One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner is book in the Frankie Elkin series which follows Frankie, a middle aged non-professional, as she investigates — and solves! — cold cases.

Beyond the End of the World Amie by Kaufman & Meagan Spooner is a much anticipated sequel to The Other Side of the Sky, a YA fantasy filled with magic and logic, fate and choice, and deadly love.

Electric Idol by Katee Robert is the second instalment in the author’s Dark Olympus series, this time tackling Psyche and Eros.



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

ONE STEP TOO FAR by Lisa Gardner

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, a thrilling new novel that sends Frankie Elkin into the woods in search of a lost man–and the shocking truth about why he went missing in the first place.

Frankie Elkin, who readers first met in Before She Disappeared, learns of a young man who has gone missing in a national forest. Law enforcement has abandoned the search, but a crew of people led by the young man’s father are still looking. Sensing a father’s desperation, Frankie agrees to help–but soon sees that a missing person isn’t all that’s wrong here. And when more people start to vanish, Frankie realizes she’s up against something very dark–and she’s running out of time.


Title : One Step Too Far
Author : Lisa Gardner
Series : Frankie Elkin (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : crime/mystery
Publisher : Dutton
Release Date : January 18, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

When I started this follow-up instalment in Gardner’s new series, featuring something of a lone-wolf cold case investigator (though not a professional one, just a concerned and capable citizen), I did not expect to cry as much as I did. But maybe that’s just me being a softie as always.

Now, the emergency whistle.”
I have a whistle! I carry it around tough neighbourhoods all the time.”
Your idea of self-defence in an urban environment is a whistle? Are you trying to die?

This particular case that Frankie stumbles her way into is so very different from the first we experience through her. Gone are the mean streets of Boston; say hello to the wilds and dangers of Wyoming. She hears about the fifth year anniversary — and final hail mary search — of a missing man who went camping with his groomsmen for their bachelor party and later disappeared. She manages to negotiate her way into the hiking expedition and from then on it’s exhaustion, sweat, secrets revealed, and everything going wrong.

I hate pity.”
Then stop being so pathetic.”
I hope Bigfoot kicks your sorry ass.
Wouldn’t that be something? Please take video.”

As I feel is often the case with Gardner mysteries, I did not see the reveal for this one coming. I had suspected something very different and was way off base. But this wasn’t one of those twists that come totally out of left field, either. So I loved that.

I thought you mountain-guru types were supposed to be able to sniff the dirt, lick a pine cone, then state unequivocally who came here at what date and time, not to mention their favourite food and astrological sign.
I know you’re a Virgo, does that help?
How do you know that?
Because you’re a pain in my ass.

I also loved all the new characters we were introduced to. Which is probably why I cried so much. Plus there’s a dog! But in addition to the new faces, I still really liked Frankie — or rather, maybe stated to like her more, as I don’t know if I appreciated her in book one the way I did in this one. Her internal monologue is a little repetitive when she gets going and thinking about her past, her life up until now, but it also makes sense considering her pile of regrets and the fact that she’s a recovering alcoholic. But I like the concept of her, this rogue individual, the fact that she’s lived a hard life and is committed to doing for other people, and also that she’s middle aged and not a spring chicken.

If a dog can do this, I tell myself, than I can, too. Of course, the dog has had way more training.

The whole unravelling of this mystery worked so well; the stakes were high, the players all had varying levels of expertise and capabilities, and again, the reveal? So good. I also really enjoyed how contemplative Frankie was near the end and how this story wrapped. That whole section was lovely.

Why do I do what I do? Because at the end of the day, the people left behind matter as much as the ones who are missing. We mourn the ones we’ve lost, but we agonize over the pieces of ourselves they took with them.

I’m always excited for new releases from this mystery/thriller author and I am happy to say I’ll now be as excited for a new Frankie book as I would be for a new DD book. Give me anything from this author. Looking forward to the next!

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

A RUSH OF WINGS by Laura E. Weymouth

Rowenna Winthrop has always known there’s magic within her. But though she hears voices on the wind and possesses unusual talents, her mother Mairead believes Rowenna lacks discipline, and refuses to teach her the craft that keeps their Scottish village safe. When Mairead dies a sinister death, it seems Rowenna’s one chance to grow into her power has passed. Then, on a fateful, storm-tossed night, Rowenna rescues a handsome stranger named Gawen from a shipwreck, and her mother miraculously returns from the dead. Or so it appears.

This resurrected Mairead is nothing like the old one: to hide her new and monstrous nature, she turns Rowenna’s brothers and Gawen into swans and robs Rowenna of her voice. Forced to flee, Rowenna travels to the city of Inverness to find a way to break the curse. But monsters take many forms, and in Inverness Rowenna is soon caught in a web of strangers who want to use her raw magic for their own gain. If she wishes to save herself and the people she loves most, Rowenna will have to take her fate into her own hands, and unlock the power that has evaded her for so long.


Title : A Rush of Wings
Author : Laura E. Weymouth
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA historical fantasy / fairytale retelling
Publisher : Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date : November 2, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

So there were three big, huge, reasons why I almost never read this book. One being that the fairytale this is inspired by also inspired my actual favourite book of all time (ten points if you’ve been here long enough to know which one) and so naturally nothing could ever measure up; two, I had already read another Six Swans inspired YA retelling this year (two back to back after all this time? it was weird!), and three, this is my third attempt reading this author after two massive fails and the only reason I broke my promise to never read her again was because of the premise. Spoiler alert, I probably am issuing that promise again because, as you can tell from the rating, this wasn’t a win. But.. it also wasn’t a fail.

The best part about this version of the story was the writing. Weymouth did a great job bringing me onto the rocky misty shores of this random village (or whatever) while bringing into focus the historical setting and tumultuous past of Culloden and an occupied Inverness. It made for a very real but mundane kind of danger while abutting all the fey dangerous magic, and also creatures, that was also present in this world. It certainly wasn’t perfect (I am still side eyeing the fact that the guards never saw the four boys going back and forth from within the castle or grounds or whatever while Rowenna was captured but, you know, we trudge on) but I could get swept up in it.

Where things didn’t work was.. well, almost everything else. This version definitely mixes things up; Rowenna is no Sorcha and I’m glad of that. I actually appreciated that she wasn’t the darling, wasn’t sweet, wasn’t easy, and was battling not just the curse but also herself. The lack of six brothers also speeds things up a bit for her as she has less curse breaking to do. But at the same time another hundred pages would’ve done a lot for this, I think. Mostly in giving us more familial dynamic because honestly beyond the general hope for her brothers to be returned to her, we didn’t know them well enough, or get enough foundation of their relationships and dynamics to root for them beyond principle — once they stopped treating Rowenna badly, at least. Which also applies to the love interest.

Strangely the strongest relationship or bond was between Rowenna and a sea creature. Now that could’ve been a story..

In all honesty, though, the absolute weakest part might have been the magical villain (as opposed to the human one) because I don’t quite think I ever understood their actual goal. Even in the end, when we see the devastation wrought, I’m still like.. (insert Ryan Reynolds, “but why?” gif here).

As for the aforementioned human villain, well.. the scene that almost made me chuck the iPad across the room is when Rowenna has an opportunity to triumph and does not. Like, yeah, I get it, but wow. Considering all the devastation he was responsible for, wow. But sure, get on that high horse. However what’s worse is how she initially ends up in his hands, and forced to do his bidding, and that whole little plot and.. I don’t know. I’m mixed about it all.

So, yes, incase you were wondering, this wasn’t a win and I don’t think it’s all to do with my bias though I’m sure that plays a part. If you’re a fan of this retelling, or just think it sounds up your alley, I would cautiously recommend, especially with the Scotland setting and uprising in the mix. H o w e v e r, while I’m normally not one to spell things out, I do want to caution you that if animal death or violence done to animals is a big trigger for you? Even when it’s somewhat spelled out without being graphic (if that makes sense)? Stay away.

A MINI SPORTS ROMANCE FESTIVAL

January often brings tones of blue-ness to the scene and books slumps are rife post-Christmas. What more could we need than a bit of romance, a bit of spice and add in some sports.

Micky here. I indulged in an unplanned sports romance re-read fest recently because my brain needed comfort with complete and utter attention-grabbing reads. Sports romance is a sub-genre I particularly love and I lean on old favourites as I can’t say that I’m up to date with more recent releases in this sub genre.

I’ve got some recs from my little impromtu sports-romanceathon and then some other sports romance I’d also rec. I’d love to hear from you about some more recent releases that you’d rec to me. Spice levels on a scale of 1-5 (but this is subjective).


First up, Real & Mine by Katy Evans. I lived the life of underground fighting with Remington ‘Riptide’ Tate and Brooke, his sport’s therapist and more. These were first published in 2013 and I’ve read them a number of times. They are super spicy and super alpha if that’s your bag. In truth, I don’t go for these types anymore but I will forever love these two. This is a six book series, with the first three focused on the same couple and later books are companions. Spice level : 🌶️🌶️🌶️🌶️🌶️
Content warnings for violence and mental illness

Next in my sports-romanceathon were Ride & Crash by Harper Dallas. These books are set in an elite snowboarding world with interconnected couples in each book. These stories are all push and pull, chemistry, a little drama and completely unputdownable. They’re also in Kindle Unlimited. There’s a third book to come in the Wild Sequence series and although it’s been a while, I can’t wait for more from Harper Dallas.
Spice level : 🌶️🌶️🌶️


Now to some much-loved sports romance recommendations from Hollis and I:

The Keeper by Jillian Liota (YA) – female football (soccer) — 🌶️
Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu (NA) – LGBTQIAP+ hockey — 🌶️
The Wall of Winnipeg & Me by Mariana Zapata – American football — 🌶️🌶️
Kulti by Mariana Zapata – football (soccer) — 🌶️🌶️
Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez (YA) – female football (soccer) — 🌶️🌶️
From Lukov With Love by Mariana Zapata – ice skating — 🌶️🌶️
The Best Thing by Mariana Zapata – rugby — 🌶️🌶️
Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan – basketball — 🌶️🌶️🌶️
Wrecking Ball by P Dangelico – American football — 🌶️🌶️🌶️
Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid – LGBTQIAP+ hockey — 🌶️🌶️🌶️
The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen (NA) – hockey — 🌶️🌶️🌶️
Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy – LGBTQIAP+ hockey — 🌶️🌶️🌶️🌶️
The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan – American football — 🌶️🌶️🌶️🌶️


So now we need your help. Update us on the more recent sports romances that you’ve loved, please and thank you! Tell us what your favourites are and if we share any.

DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS by Sue Lynn Tan – double review!

A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.


Title : Daughter of the Moon Goddess
Author : Sue Lynn Tan
Series : Daughter of the Moon Goddess (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 512
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Harper Voyager
Release Date : January 11, 2022/January 20, 2022

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


Hollis’ 2 star review

Nothing like starting off the new year with a very anticipated read and.. well, not hating it, but this took a lot of willpower to push through over the course of the first few days of 2022 and honestly, with the exception of one plot point, I did not enjoy.. any of this?

This is a long book, see above page count, however the problem was it also felt long. The beginning especially seems to go on forever with very little happening and also a very strange sense of time passage within the story itself. And considering how things started, and all the urgency that kicks off the story, well.. it dissipated as quickly as my New Year diet resolutions.

And I think overall that’s my issue with the whole story. The sense of forward motion, of urgency, of our main character’s dedication to saving her mother totally vanishes into the mundane doldrums of a whole other different story. And it’s only near the end that she suddenly seems to phase back into that main concern. Yes, she was working towards a thing that she maybe could use to her advantage but.. I don’t know. This felt like three different books in one and not in a good way.

As for the romance, well. I appreciated what the author tried to do with this love triangle, which was a more mature way of handling the usual YA fallback, however, at the same time, it didn’t work for me. And I worry about what awaits us in book two in that regard. Though.. I don’t think I’ll be reading it.

Normally I’m full of second (third, fourth, fifth..) chances for authors, particularly debuts, but nothing in this writing was passionate. Or compelling. Or enthralling. It was lovely at times but honestly it was pretty dry. Again, where was the urgency, the tension, the stakes, and, yes, the passion. Hell, emotion of any kind. I felt nothing, no matter how hard I tried. Sadly this read likely tripled my screentime for the month because I kept putting it down.. which, yeah, added to the time it took me to finish but goodness I took any excuse to look away.

Again, this is a huge disappointment as I fell in love with this cover months ago and thought it sounded utterly captivating and unique. But for me? It wasn’t it. As always, of course, don’t just take my word for it; I highly encourage you to check out other reviews as this low rating is but a drop in the current rave review ocean.

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


Micky’s 5 star review

Headlines:
Epically captivating
Triangles and twists
Lands, lore and dragons

This was a sweeping, wonderful reading experience. It’s a book with depth, a plot to twist you into knots and characters that you stand behind in complete support and belief. Daughter of the Moon Goddess was told over many years, these immortals have long lives after all. The main character Xingyin was young when we met her, but this woman she came to be was reading gold.

Xingyan battled for a place to exist in the celestial world both figuratively and later rather literally. Her companion and supporter Liwei stole my heart early on but then I came to doubt my heart’s loyalties. Wenzhi complicated matters and I liked him. I could never have guessed the twists, turns, betrayals and loyalty that lay ahead in this plot; it was extremely clever and made for addictive reading.

The celestial, demon, mortal worlds and more were painted so vividly. I had grand pictures of places, forests, seas and dragons. There were quests and battles but none too drawn out. The strong woman that Xingyin became was a dream to read. There were plenty of sketchy characters, those that were obvious and those hiding in plain sight.

This fantasy epic tied up the story well but I can see there is a second book to come. I loved these characters so much that I can’t wait to read more of their journey and adventures.

Thank you to Harper Voyager for the eARC copy. My pre-order is already filed and waiting, I need this on my shelf and I think you do too.

DEAD LUCKY by Andreina Cordani

Lucky to be rich. Lucky to be famous. Lucky to be alive.

Xav, Ed, Leni, Maxine.

They are the influencers, the lucky ones. Gifted, gilded people who have everything – fame, respect, adulation, more freebies than they can ever unbox. Their lives, loves and feuds are shared with millions of fans on the streaming platform PlayMii, and they are living the dream.

But it’s broken Ed’s heart.

It’s crushing Maxine.

It’s destroying Leni’s friendships.

And it’s gone to Xav’s head.

Then, a masked figure walks into Xav’s apartment and murders him on camera.

As the world reels with shock, Maxine discovers Xav was sitting on a file of secrets about his fellow creators – career-destroying secrets that they’d do anything to keep hidden. And if she doesn’t find the file, she could be next . . .


Title : Dead Lucky
Author : Andreina Cordani
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 323
Genre : Thriller YA/NA
Publisher : Atom Books
Release Date : January 13, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines
Egos
Shocks from start to finish
What is filmed lives forever
Behind the scenes of influencers

Dead Lucky started with a big boom that basically sealed my allegiance from the get go. My reading experience was that I couldn’t put this down and I loved the wild ride.

This story is centred around a group of ex-high school friends who started a dare/stunt channel on the popular PlayMii site that went viral. This rocketed these kids to fame and they all went their seperate influencer way. This lifestyle, the individual personalities of the influencers and their insipid and occasional genuine ways were addictive reading. From Xav to Maxine, this was a hold your breath while judging read.

Most of the story was told from Maxine’s pov. She was heralded the dumb influencer but she was more mature and insightful that most of them; I enjoyed her character growth. As to the who-dunnit, that consumed the book…and me. I didn’t figure it out until late on and my initial guesses were off base.

This YA/NA thriller is well written, it doesn’t poke too much at the concept of influencers but it does expose some elements that we all wonder at. What it does do, is it brings the real person behind the influencer to the fore, what’s behind the camera, the campaigns, the videos. There’s much to unpick here about this element of contemporary society if that’s your thing.

I highly recommend this thriller, I enjoyed it front to back.

Thank you to Atom Books for the early review copy.

WEATHER GIRL by Rachel Lynn Solomon

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?


Title : Weather Girl
Author : Rachel Lynn Solomon
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : January 11, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

It hurts a bit to round down on this one because there is a lot in this story that is deserving of four stars. From the representation to how charming and slow-burny sweet it was and more. But the more I thought about it after having finished the more I started questioning things.

First off, I have to say, this was way better than another “scheme to get our bosses back together” romance I read in the last year. I can’t even remember the title of it, which says a lot, but you probably know the one I mean. This was handled so much better; it wasn’t nearly as manipulative and while their goal was to end some of their own frustration, it was also a plan hatched out of realizing that their bosses still had unresolved feelings. So if that is making you hesitant to pick this up, I think you’ll be happy with how it’s done.

You’re the kind of person who makes other people feel good to be around. That’s a great thing.”
You feel good being around me?
All the time.

Having said that, though, we have another romance marketed as a rom-com and it is.. not. I remember laughing out loud twice, probably at things no one else would laugh at, but overall this is a contemporary with serious topics and situations and romance. I don’t think I’d argue it’s steamy women’s fiction the way I have for other reads, though. It’s just got depth alongside the sex.

Why was abject horniness not listed as a side effect on this medication?

But about that sex, I’ll admit that for me the sexiest scene was one without any sex at all. Barely even touching (each other or themselves). However I did appreciate that their first time is not intercourse and some other elements and discussion around that early scene which I won’t detail. More of this please!

There are tropes to this romance I didn’t know going in, mostly because I’m a #NoBlurbsClub — but also because they aren’t mentioned. And? I loved them. I really did. I enjoyed both of these leads, too, as separate humans. But did I love them together? I.. don’t think so? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that they didn’t fit, I just didn’t feel it. I wanted to but it just didn’t spark. Even as I rooted for them and who they were, the struggles they had, and how accepting they both were of those struggles.

Eventually, you deal with something for long enough that it comes such an intrinsic part of you, and you cant imagine yourself without it. You accept it, maybe because you feel you deserve it but also because you’re scared that if you tried to change it, it wouldn’t work.

So between the lack of com to the rom and a romance that didn’t make me swoon, here we have a bit of a rounded down rating. But. Everything else? Again, the characters themselves? The discussion around mental health and depression, the presence of an plus-sized male love interest getting some well deserved love, the inclusion of not one but two (!) Jewish main characters, and more that I refuse to tell you? It was all so good.

I will continue to eat up Solomon’s romances so I can’t wait for what’s next.

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

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – JANUARY 11, 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.


Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon is a Set It Up-like premise between coworkers who conspire to reunite their bosses for the sake of their own sanity. And who find their own romance along the way!

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan not only has one of the prettiest covers we’ve seen but it’s also a “debut fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess, Chang’e, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.”



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

A PAINTED WINTER by H Barnard

In the misty highlands of fourth century Scotland, two Pictish brothers conspire with the Ancient People from beyond the Great Wall to attack the Romans.

Roman power in Britannia is weakening. Brothers Brei and Taran, Princes and warriors of a Pictish Kingdom, seek revenge against the Romans for attacking their city, killing their father, and taking their mother as a slave. The sudden arrival of Sorsha, a mysterious woman with an incredible gift, sets the brothers on a path to warfare.

A Painted Winter is book one of the four-part Pictish Conspiracy series. H. Barnard’s debut novel blends historical fiction and Celtic mythology in a thrilling adventure that will leave you wondering who the real barbarians are ….


Title : A Painted Winter
Author : H. Barnard
Series : Pictish Conspiracy #1
Format : Physical
Page Count : 340
Genre : Historical
Publisher : Shadowfax Publishing
Release Date : December 21, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Mysterious and magical
Druidic powers
It’s grim up north

I am not experienced in politics or warfare, but it seems to me that we first create a barbarian, an enemy, and then we take away their lands.

A Painted Winter was impressively easy to read for what could have been quite a heavy historical read, but wasn’t. I’ve found myself drawn to this era of history through a few books in the last year such as Gawain, Daughter of the Forest and The Look of a King. The Pictish/English divide and a more ancient time in history where powers of the earth were harnessed through druids, is pretty fascinating.

This story was a dual POV told from a Pictish Prince Brei and a lost but found woman from the south, Sorsha. I was much more drawn to Sorsha’s story, her POV but we needed Brei’s perspective for the grand plot of the tale. Brei wasn’t a character I liked, I was much more interested in Taran. Other sketchy characters included Serenn and Anwen.

I couldn’t help but internally cheer for Sorsha as she came into her gifts, felt more empowered and followed her path. She was strong and a fascinating character, I think there’s so much more to her yet that the reader doesn’t know and I look forward to reading more about her.

This read felt well researched and immersed you in Pictish life with some later Roman perspective. The historical elements were incredibly strong. I think my other reading in this era helped my understanding of the druid workings, even though in this book, they were depicted as being rather nefarious.

All in all, this has been a great debut and I definitely want to read more. Thank you to Shadowfax Publishing and InstaBookTours for the review copy.