A BRUSH WITH LOVE by Mazey Eddings – double review!

Harper is anxiously awaiting placement into a top oral surgery residency program when she crashes (literally) into Dan. Harper would rather endure a Novocaine-free root canal than face any distractions, even one this adorable. 

A first-year dental student with a family legacy to contend with, Dan doesn’t have the same passion for pulling teeth that Harper does. Though he finds himself falling for her, he is willing to play by Harper’s rules.

So with the greatest of intentions and the poorest of follow-throughs, the two set out to be “just friends.” But as they get to know each other better, Harper fears that trading fillings for feelings may make her lose control and can’t risk her carefully ordered life coming undone, no matter how drool-worthy Dan is.

Blood, gore, and extra-long roots? No problem. The idea of falling in love? Torture. 


Title : A Brush With Love
Author : Mazey Eddings
Format : eARC/audio
Page Count : 336/10 hours, 30 minutes
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : St. Martin’s Griffin/Macmillan Audio
Release Date : March 1, 2022

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


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Oof, I don’t know if this was a situation of expectations just being too high — and for a debut, no less — but maybe my expectations were just too high. Even after all this time, I haven’t learned.

I don’t want to downplay all the good within these pages, the conversations around how grief changes you, the shocking way anxiety can control your life and how debilitating it is, even with coping and control methods, the importance and positivity around therapy.. and like, I did find the main characters cute.

But this book just didn’t take over my mind or my thoughts. I obviously reached for it way early, because I was keen, but I wasn’t bowled over by this. It’s good, sometimes very good, sometimes very sweet, but overall? I don’t think I’ll remember it in a week.

I did like that this centered around dentists, I don’t think I’ve ever read (or, now that I think about it, watched..) a story with this as the career or back drop and it was interesting to have that change in scenery.

I feel like a heel; I’m bummed to have read this so early (hi from June 2021! does 2022 suck less? please say yes..) and now won’t be screaming and shouting and pushing this on everyone and anyone I know. I still think if you were interested, you should absolutely give it a shot. I think it’s very possible I’m just the human embodiment of a wet blanket these days so this could totally just be a me thing. That said, I would read this author again, for sure.

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


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Easy listening romance
Work-place connections
Teeth, anxiety disorder and drilling

This was an easy romance debut to get into and somehow, the author made the world of dentistry school, cavities and maxillo-facial surgery an entertaining environment. Daniel and Harper were opposities and their first meeting had me engaged with their story.

What Eddings weaves into this story is a building understanding of Harper’s anxiety disorder, it seemed mild at first, but she’d made an art out of hiding her distress. How this rolled out through the story and into the budgeoning relationship was well written and a core strength of this story.

Daniel was such a nice guy, a character I could really like. I enjoyed his flaws, how he navigated family burdens and trauma. While Harper was a really complex character with a lot going on, I could help but be endeared by her.

The dual POV story and dual narration played into the audio of the book so well. Overall, a satisfying and fun listen. I’d definitely look out for this author’s next book.

3.75 stars rounded up

Thank you Macmillan Audio and LibroFM for the review copy.

ANTICIPATED MARCH 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 March, our hotly anticipated titles, in chronological order, are :


Gallant by V.E. Schwab | March 1, 2022/March 8, 2022 (UK)

Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.

Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him? 

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake | March 1, 2022 (US/CAN) and March 3, 2022 (UK)

The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…

– Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.
– Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.
– Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.
– Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.
– Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them.

Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye | March 8, 2022

This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster. I will be the worst monster they ever created.

Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.

Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.

Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she ahbors.

Following one girl’s journey of magic, injustice, power, and revenge, this deeply felt and emotionally charged debut from Deborah Falaye, inspired by Yoruba-Nigerian mythology, is a magnetic combination of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and Daughter of Smoke and Bone that will utterly thrill and capture readers.

The War of Two Queens by Jennifer L. Armentrout | March 15, 2022

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

From the desperation of golden crowns…

Casteel Da’Neer knows all too well that very few are as cunning or vicious as the Blood Queen, but no one, not even him, could’ve prepared for the staggering revelations. The magnitude of what the Blood Queen has done is almost unthinkable.

And born of mortal flesh…

Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for. With the strength of the Primal of Life’s guards behind her, and the support of the wolven, Poppy must convince the Atlantian generals to make war her way—because there can be no retreat this time. Not if she has any hope of building a future where both kingdoms can reside in peace.

A great primal power rises…

Together, Poppy and Casteel must embrace traditions old and new to safeguard those they hold dear—to protect those who cannot defend themselves. But war is only the beginning. Ancient primal powers have already stirred, revealing the horror of what began eons ago. To end what the Blood Queen has begun, Poppy might have to become what she has been prophesied to be—what she fears the most.

As the Harbinger of Death and Destruction.

Impossible by Sarah Lotz | March 17, 2022 (UK) and March 22, 2022 (US/CAN)

In this funny and poignant novel, two strangers learn that their soul mate might be both as close as breath and as distant as a star, from British Fantasy Award recipient Sarah Lotz.

Bee thinks she has everything: a successful business repurposing wedding dresses, and friends who love and support her. She’s given up on finding love, but that’s fine. There’s always Tinder. Nick thinks he has nothing: his writing career has stalled after early promise and his marriage is on the rocks, but that’s fine. There’s always gin. So when one of Nick’s emails, a viciously funny screed intended for a non-paying client, accidentally pings into Bee’s inbox, they decide to keep the conversation going. After all, they never have to meet. 

But the more they get to know each other, the more Bee and Nick realize they want to. They both notice strange pop culture or political references that crop up in their correspondence, but nothing odd enough to stop Bee and Nick for falling hard for each other. But when their efforts to meet in real life fail spectacularly, Bee and Nick discover that they’re actually living in near-identical but parallel worlds. With a universe between them, Bee and Nick will discover how far they’ll go to beat impossible odds.

Pennyblade by J.L. Worrad | March 29, 2022

A sharp-tongued disgraced-noble-turned-mercenary has to stop the world collapsing into chaos in this gripping, savagely funny epic fantasy packed with unforgettable characters, for fans of Joe Abercrombie.

Exile. Mercenary. Lover. Monster. Pennyblade.

Kyra Cal’Adra has spent the last four years on the Main, living in exile from her home, her people, her lover and her past. A highblood commrach—the ancient race of the Isle, dedicated to tradition and the perfection of the blood—she’s welcome among the humans of the Main only for the skill of her rapier, her preternatural bladework. They don’t care which of the gleaming towers she came from, nor that her grandmother is matriarch of one of Corso’s most powerful families. 

But on the main, women loving women is a sin punishable by death. Kyra is haunted by the ghost of Shen, the love of her life, a lowblood servant woman whom Kyra left behind as she fled the Isle. 

When a simple contract goes awry, and her fellow pennyblades betray her, Kyra is set onto a collision course with her old life, and the age-old conflict between the Main and the Isle threatens to erupt once more.

Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May | March 29, 2022 (US/CAN) and March 31, 2022 (UK)

In the aftermath of World War I, a naive woman is swept into a glittering world filled with dark magic, romance, and murder in this lush and decadent debut.

On Crow Island, people whisper, real magic lurks just below the surface. 

Neither real magic nor faux magic interests Annie Mason. Not after it stole her future. She’s only on the island to settle her late father’s estate and, hopefully, reconnect with her long-absent best friend, Beatrice, who fled their dreary lives for a more glamorous one. 

Yet Crow Island is brimming with temptation, and the biggest one may be her enigmatic new neighbor. 

Mysterious and alluring, Emmeline Delacroix is a figure shadowed by rumors of witchcraft. And when Annie witnesses a confrontation between Bea and Emmeline at one of the island’s extravagant parties, she is drawn into a glittering, haunted world. A world where the boundaries of wickedness are tested, and the cost of illicit magic might be death.

When Our Worlds Collided by Danielle Jawando| March 31, 2022

A powerful coming-of-age story about chance encounters, injustice and how the choices that we make can completely change our future. The second YA novel from the critically acclaimed Danielle Jawando, perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Gayle Foreman, Jennifer Niven and Nikesh Shukla.

When fourteen-year-old Shaq is stabbed outside of a busy shopping centre in Manchester, three teenagers from very different walks of life are unexpectedly brought together. What follows flips their worlds upside down and makes Chantelle, Jackson, and Marc question the deep-rooted prejudice and racism that exists within the police, the media, and the rest of society.


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

COURT by Tracy Wolff

No one survived the last battle unscathed. Flint is angry at the world, Jaxon is turning into something I don’t recognize, and Hudson has put up a wall I’m not sure I’ll ever break through.

Now war is coming, and we’re not ready. We’re going to need an army to have any hope of winning. But first, there are questions about my ancestors that need answers. Answers that might just reveal who the real monster is among us.

And that’s saying something in a world filled with bloodthirsty vampires, immortal gargoyles, and an ancient battle between two gods.

There’s no guarantee that anyone will be left standing when the dust settles, but if we want to save this world, I have no choice. I’ll have to embrace every part of me…even the parts I fear the most.


Title : Court
Author : Tracy Wolff
Series : Crave #4
Format : Physical
Page Count : 704
Genre : Fantasy YA
Publisher : Entangled Publishing
Release Date : February 1, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Why so much detail…
Hud-ace or Gra-son 4 eva
Wild, convoluted plot

So, here we are again, I’m expressing some of the same things about this series but I’m still here and intending to read on. This series has incredible detail to a fault, the books are mostly about 700 pages and there’s a lot of padding we don’t need. Most of that padding is inner monologue and plot detail to the highest degree. However, I have come to be invested in the characters, especially Grace, Hudson but also Jaxon and Flint. I can’t seem to walk away quite yet, even though the reading experience is annoying at times.

I buddy read this with Bethany which really helped and although Bethany is perhaps a bigger fan of this series than me, she felt the same issues on reading. Things I enjoyed about this book were the trials (but less detail), Grace and Hudson’s connection, the Jaxon/Flint suggestion and the reveals regarding Grace’s family tree. I loved the unkillable beast. I’m not overly invested in Remy or Macy and I hated Cyrus.

There’s a full cast of characters in this series if you like that kind of set-up, with many paranormal creatures. I do love Grace’s gargoyle context.

For me, this has been a case of 3 to 4 star ratings for this series. I think I have one read for this series left in me!

BAD JUDGMENT by Sidney Bell

Embry Ford was a quiet, ordinary guy—until tragedy ripped his life apart. Now he’s living under the radar, desperate to hide his identity and determined to learn the truth behind what happened. Even if that means working for—and bedding—a man he loathes.

As a bodyguard to a shadowy arms dealer, Brogan Smith knows distractions can kill as easily as a bullet. But when he sets his eyes on his client’s sexy assistant, he can’t get him out of his mind. Even more unnerving: the closer he gets to Embry, the more Brogan starts to suspect he might be protecting the wrong man.

Embry was sure nothing but vengeance would satisfy him—until Brogan offers him something far more tempting. Now Embry must choose: punish the people who nearly destroyed him or fight for a future with the man who has become his entire world. 


Title : Bad Judgment
Author : Sidney Bell
Format : eBook
Page Count : 359
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ romance / suspense
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 19, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Okay, so, I am once again cheating by stealing big chunks of an old review for this review as I just did a reread of this with two buddies (hi buddies!) and honestly.. other than some in-the-moment-specific commentary, my feelings of this — even five years later! — have not changed. I did downgrade it from a full five to half a point less but honestly that’s just semantics that this point. This book is still fantastic and I’m still pretty trash for this author. Which is a sad thing to say because I have no idea if she has any plans to release any more books. So I must, instead, sit here and hope.. and pine.

I’m sorry, you’re going to have to say that again, because I heard that with the ear that only catches stupid sentences.

But anyway.

Brogan, why the hell are you sending dirty texts to Ford? On MY phone. My mother could have read this! Do you want to get fired? Why did you turn off autocorrect? What is wrong with you?

This book has everything. An OTP that will wreck you in every possible and wonderful way. Seriously hilarious dialogue and banter that is at times silly and ridiculous but so charming and adorable. Such sass oh my god the sass. Mystery, tragic backstory, violence, abuse, thrilling corporate espionage, murder.. yes, it’s all in there to keep you on the edge of your seat, but the friendships, the connections, are what make this story so spectacular and wonderful.

Do you remember the good old days when straight men were too macho and insecure to talk about gay sex? I do. They were nice days.

I’m not saying it isn’t without it’s less awesome moments. There’s definitely elements the reader isn’t supposed to like, and man did I not like them (see above RE abuse), but Bell packs so much into this story to outweigh those little bits, even when they are integral to the plot.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve wanted something badly enough to feel it with my whole body, Mario. I’m not saying it’s not a mistake. I’m saying it might be a mistake worth making. Sometimes mistakes lead to the best moments of your whole existence.

It’s not often that some of the events that occur in darker contemporary reads that feature m/f pairings are echoed in m/m stories and I love how Bell treated the genre equally. I mean, those events aren’t really something to cheer for but the inclusion makes it realistic. I loved the emotion, the pain, the rage, the love, the forgiveness, the impossible to resist heat.. everything was described and shown so beautifully. All these years later I’m still amazed this was the author’s debut because it’s so so strong. The chemistry between these two was just.. and the characters themselves.. ugh, I’m just a mess.

He was utterly, wildly, madly furious with Brogan for making him into this divided creature with hopes and feelings and thoughts of a future.

I really don’t want to give much about the plot away. But the story, using only google-esque search keywords, involves : bodyguards, weapons manufacturing, illicit activities, espionage, looooove, shitty bosses, dog farts, handcuffs, vengeance, pirate pyjamas, and whistleblowing. And a whole lot more than that. 

I don’t have time to deal with whatever is going on with you right now, but later, we’re going to talk about why you’re lying to me. Then we’ll have a separate talk about why you’re such an awful liar, because it’s embarrassing.

If you’ve yet to read this, or yet to read this author at all, I highly suggest you take some corrective action. Her books are almost exclusively a little on the darker end of things, definitely less contemporary romance and more suspense or action romance (I don’t know, there’s probably a specific , but it’s absolutely got enough of everything to always feel balanced and something about her writing.. it just works for me. So much so that after revisiting this world, I want to revisit her other series, like, now. And I think that really says it all.

STEALING HOME by Sherryl Woods

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods returns readers to her world of strong friendships and heartfelt emotions in this classic Sweet Magnolias novel

Maddie Townsend might live in a town called Serenity, but there’s been nothing calm or peaceful about her life since her marriage broke up. This stay-at-home mom has no job skills, an out-of-control sixteen-year-old son, a talkative fourteen-year-old who’s suddenly gone silent, a six-year-old daughter whose heart is broken, an ex-husband whose younger girlfriend is expecting their baby and two best friends who think she’s somehow qualified to help them open a fitness spa for women.

But if Maddie is a tad on edge with all that on her plate, it’s nothing compared to the chaos that ensues when she discovers that her son’s baseball coach has feelings for her and the whole town disapproves. Maddie’s faced a lot of challenges lately with strength and resolve, but Cal Maddox may turn out to be more than she can handle.

Then again, he could just be the one man in all of South Carolina who can help her find serenity.


Title : Stealing Home
Author : Sherryl Woods
Series : The Sweet Magnolias #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 377
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Mills & Boon
Release Date : November 1, 2011

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
The netflix series is better
Cal and Maddie are sweet
Less sisterhood than I expected.

I’m going to do a pros/cons review here, pitching the book versus the TV series. I know no-one asked for this, but that’s what you’re getting! Let me just say firstly, that I enjoy the TV series immensely, its easy and cheesy but I’m so drawn to the three women who feature.

The book
Maddie is at the helm and she’s an amazing MC but Dana Sue and Helen are not that prominent and I love them hard. I’m hoping the series pans out to include them more. Bill was (shocker) a little more self aware in the book, sometimes contrite but still hella frustrating and annoying. Noreen was similar. I was pleased the dialogue didn’t have the constant God-cheese.

I loved Cal and Maddie’s build until it turned into a sprint and towards the end everything just developed too fast for me, especially that surprise at the end, which was a no-no. Family vibes were strong throughout the book and I do feel all soft-spotted over the kids in this book.

The TV series
In contrast, the TV series decided not to rush Maddie and Cal which was the best decision ever. Bill and Noreen are like splinters all over your body, riling the watcher every moment. I have to say the book found more balance for that aspect.

The sisterhood in the TV series is strong and for me, that’s one of the greatest pulls. I love more detail on Helen and Dana-Sue. The biggest drawback of the TV series is the constant Christian platitudes, they make my teeth hurt.

Overall, this series is worth your time. Whether you want to read first or binge TV is your choice. At the moment the TV series is winning for me, but the book also compliments nicely.

THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH THE SEA by Axie Oh

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…


Title : The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea
Author : Axie Oh
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 321
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : February 22, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines
Beautiful characters
Lyrical, fantastical and misty mystery
Spirited Away vibes

The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea had my imagination on overdrive, creating visuals akin to Studio Ghibli. The vibe of the whole piece was stunning, the villages above the sea but even more, beneath the sea, was fascinating.

Mina was a sweet, selfless and often foolish 16 year old. She loved fiercely and stepped in to save those she loved from their difficulties…and found herself attached quite literally to the Sea God. I was not enamoured by the Sea God at all and for a hot moment I thought I was going to lose my interest until that plot point developed and I gave my full investment.

The book was rounded with some amazing character aside from Mina. Shin had all my attention, I couldn’t work him out, who he was, what he wanted but I believed in his connection to Mina. I adored Dai, Miki and Mask quite quickly, but I couldn’t work out their purpose in the story but when I did, oh my word, the emotions were rolling through me.

If I were to describe this book, I’d say it was a beautiful read, a special standalone and one I’d recommend to all YA fantasy lovers.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the beautiful review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – FEBRUARY 22, 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.


The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea by Axie Oh is an”enthralling feminist retelling of the classic Korean folktale “The Tale of Shim Cheong,” perfect for fans of Wintersong, Uprooted, and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care
by Ashley Herring Blake is a queer f/f contemporary romance from two opposites who definitely attract.

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len is a “sweeping romance of Passenger meets the dark fantasy edge of This Savage Song in this stunning contemporary fantasy debut, where the line between monster and hero is razor thin.

Extasia by Claire Legrand is a “bone-chilling YA horror novel about a girl who joins a coven to root out a vicious evil that’s stalking her village.”



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

DELILAH GREEN DOESN’T CARE by Ashley Herring Blake

A clever and steamy queer romantic comedy about taking chances and accepting love—with all its complications—by debut author Ashley Herring Blake.

Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her.

When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.

Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to…


Title : Delilah Green Doesn’t Care
Author : Ashley Herring Blake
Series : Bright Falls (book one)
Format : eARC/Paperback
Page Count : 384
Genre : contemporary LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : Berkley/Little Brown UK
Release Date : February 22, 2022

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

While this wasn’t quite the “wow, new-favourite!” read I had maybe hoped it would be, I would definitely read this author again, so I think that’s still a win.

I think ultimately why this doesn’t rate higher for me is a bit because it’s at times somewhat childish and immature (such as in the case of the plans/hijinks the girls come up with to sabotage their friend’s/sister’s relationship, all towards proving said friend/sister isn’t meant to be with him) but also.. yeah, I don’t know. For a bunch of thirty year olds, somehow, it just read a little young. Maybe it was all the leftover childhood angst that infused it? I don’t know.

I really wanted to root for the romance — heyo, ladies who are super into wanting each other, more of this please — but while I liked both characters in theory, only one really came off the page for me. And that was Delilah. I felt for what Claire was going through, appreciated who she represented (not only a young mother but also having had a child with a man while still being very bi and how that dynamic had zero angst [well, not that kind of angst, at least]), but.. I didn’t really like her beyond the theory? Delilah though.. she broke my heart. She was vibrant and dynamic and I was a little in love with her myself.

Sure, it has a bit of that Cinderella-ish feel to it, and I wish maybe some of the “villains” of the piece had been less campy (maybe this is where I felt the immaturity from, too?) but overall there’s enough emotion to keep this grounded and from veering off in the direction of Too Much. Though some plot points maybe needed A Little More, too.

So, yes, on a whole? Not quite a slam dunk. But I will definitely read on in this series — well, I say series, I imagine it’ll be companion novels for the other friend and then the sister. But either way! I will read.

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


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Great chemistry
Quirky cuteness

This book had all my excitement engaged, I fancied everything about this blurb, the potential of the couple, the small town and returning home vibe and the family complications. In execution, I enjoyed all these elements, just not as much as I’d hoped.

The strengths of this couple for me was that together they brought a quirky cuteness, Delilah brought the strong but untouchable feel to the piece and Claire brought a overwhelmed hot-mess-ness when really she wanted to project capability and organisation. I liked them together, their potential, their chemistry. There were some interesting side characters in Claire’s friendship threesome, especially Astrid, Delilah’s step mother and then the whole marriage scenario. The plot was interesting for sure.

So, all that is really positive but there was just something that made this read drag a bit for me. Honestly, I can’t quite put my finger on it but it took me weeks of picking up and putting down this book to finish and I’m sad about that. I wanted to be totally spun into the story that I couldn’t put it down.

Overall, I came out feeling this was an okay read with some good parts and slow parts.

Thank you to Little Brown for the early review copy.

ECHO by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

It’s One Thing to Lose Your Life
It’s Another to Lose Your Soul

When climber Nick Grevers is brought down from the mountains after a terrible accident he has lost his looks, his hopes and his climbing companion. His account of what happened on the forbidden peak of the Maudit is garbled, almost hallucinogenic. Soon it becomes apparent more than his shattered body has returned: those that treat his disfigured face begin experiencing extraordinary and disturbing psychic events that suggest that Nick has unleashed some ancient and primal menace on his ill-fated expedition.

Nick’s partner Sam Avery has a terrible choice to make. He fell in love with Nick’s youth, vitality and beauty. Now these are gone and all that is left is a haunted mummy-worse, a glimpse beneath the bandages can literally send a person insane.

Sam must decide: either to flee to America, or to take Nick on a journey back to the mountains, the very source of the curse, the little Alpine Village of Grimnetz, its soul-possesed Birds of Death and it legends of human sacrifice and, ultimately, its haunted mountain, the Maudit.


Title : Echo
Author : Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Format : Physical
Page Count : 416
Genre : Horror
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : February 3, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Just get past the prologue
Shivers, fear and birds
This couple were goals, strange ones, but still goals

I am a no-time horror reader but the climbing element of this book made me sign up. I read the prologue and quite frankly, I was petrified. It plunged the reader into a kind of relatable nightmare but I can say that post-prologue it relented on that level of adrenaline scare. The plot of this story was exceptional in my opinion. The sinister feels, the unthinkable being real had the ability to really capture my attention.

What you get with Echo is a consistent feeling of tension, a background of looking over your shoulder (was that something in your side vision?) and strange happenings following one of the protagonists around. Nick had been involved in a climbing accident that had caused a major injury and his partner Sam found himself plunged into a test of the strength of their relationship.

I really admired Sam, this story was a representation of how we might behave if we found our partner changed by injury. Sam was definitely not sure if he could be up to the task but he tried really hard. I loved how Sam believed Nick, even if he wasn’t sure if this was delusion, psychosis or something more sinister. Nick was difficult to fathom as a person after the Maudit, but he was such an interesting character. I was cheering for them, even though I didn’t have much hope.

I have to make a serious nod to the author for the authenticity of the climbing in this book. An amateur climber myself and as someone who has devoured endless climbing expedition non-fiction, the detail and accuracy made this read something extra. Non-climbers might have to look up some technical words occasionally but google is your friend.

As I look at the Maudit, I realize this mountain’s soul is old and dangerous. I see it as an evil, dark blot. A cancer spreading over the valley. I suddenly become dead scared.

Overall, I will sleep tonight after finishing, which is more than I did after reading that prologue but please do remember I am a 10 on the wuss-scale so this was a read out of my comfort zone. I enjoyed this so much that I might dip my toe into another of Heuvelt’s books, which is something when I never seek out horror.

Thank you to Hodder Books and Pride Book Tours for the review copy.

SCORPICA by GR Macallister

A centuries-long peace is shattered in a matriarchal society when a decade passes without a single girl being born in this sweeping epic fantasy that’s perfect for fans of Robin Hobb and Circe.

Five hundred years of peace between queendoms shatters when girls inexplicably stop being born. As the Drought of Girls stretches across a generation, it sets off a cascade of political and personal consequences across all five queendoms of the known world, throwing long-standing alliances into disarray as each queendom begins to turn on each other—and new threats to each nation rise from within.

Uniting the stories of women from across the queendoms, this propulsive, gripping epic fantasy follows a warrior queen who must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne, a healer in hiding desperate to protect the secret of her daughter’s explosive power, a queen whose desperation to retain control leads her to risk using the darkest magic, a near-immortal sorcerer demigod powerful enough to remake the world for her own ends—and the generation of lastborn girls, the ones born just before the Drought, who must bear the hopes and traditions of their nations if the queendoms are to survive.


Title : Scorpica
Author : GR Macallister
Series : The Five Queendoms #1
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 464
Genre : Adult Fantasy
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : February 22, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
An epic worldview
Female-dominated political intrigue
Brutal & engaging
Progeny

I have so many thoughts on finishing this book. I feel like I’ve been brought into an fantasy world that is something of an epic and I’m very ready to carry on with the series.

This book feasted in the themes of feminism, female leaders, matriachal families and the prominence of female children. Those elements had problematic sides as you can imagine. Equality wasn’t necessarily on the menu but quite honestly, it felt refreshing to read an adult fantasy in the ilk of Game of Thrones from the female view point.

There were a range of stories in tandem being told until the connections started to knot together. I championed lots of the characters, but it wasn’t always wise to get too invested. It was a magical world with some interesting powers and gifts but don’t be misled, this world was also about the brute force of some of the female soldiers and queens; magic had a place, but it wasn’t the only power.

Scorpica was a dense fantasy read and that depth of world building and characterisation really worked for me. It felt like something I could really get my teeth into. Definitely a recommendation for all adult fantasy fans.

Thank you to Titan Books for the review copy.

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