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JUST LIKE MOTHER by Anne Heltzel

A girl would be such a blessing…

The last time Maeve saw her cousin was the night she escaped the cult they were raised in. For the past two decades, Maeve has worked hard to build a normal life in New York City, where she keeps everything—and everyone—at a safe distance.

When Andrea suddenly reappears, Maeve regains the only true friend she’s ever had. Soon she’s spending more time at Andrea’s remote Catskills estate than in her own cramped apartment. Maeve doesn’t even mind that her cousin’s wealthy work friends clearly disapprove of her single lifestyle. After all, Andrea has made her fortune in the fertility industry—baby fever comes with the territory.

The more Maeve immerses herself in Andrea’s world, the more disconnected she feels from her life back in the city; and the cousins’ increasing attachment triggers memories Maeve has fought hard to bury. But confronting the terrors of her childhood may be the only way for Maeve to transcend the nightmare still to come…


Title : Just Like Mother
Author : Anne Heltzel
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 320
Genre : contemporary / mystery
Publisher : Nightfire
Release Date : May 17, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Creepy cover aside this isn’t what I, personally, would classify as horror. But I think maybe that’s my only complaint about this experience.

I went into this without knowing anything about the plot, despite the fact that it was all over bookstagram last year, and in fact the only reason I actually picked it up was because this was one of the recommendations for my Twelve Books in Twelve Months challenge. So while I expected horror, even though I didn’t get it.. I got a lot of other stuff. Good stuff. Weird stuff. Fucked up stuff.

I’ll have to read some reviews to determine if everything that was happening in Just Like Mother was supposed to obvious or not because despite the fact that Maeve is oblivious to everything going on around her, I, the reader, was not. This could definitely have ruined any potential tension and build-up but the story still managed to evoke a sense of dread and discomfort. Maybe moreso because I knew what the protagonist did not. It’s like when you’re yelling at the tv during a slasher flick, screaming for the heroine not to go down in the basement where the killer is waiting to, well, slash. You know what’s about to happen but it doesn’t make it any less scary.

What was so interesting about this story, though, was how flipped on it’s head it was compared to the standard issue paradigm I’ve seen in other books about cults. Or at least the few I’ve read. It was perverse and sinister in new ways and the motherhood mantra was oppressive and icky and so the whole vibe was really well done. And the cherry ontop? That ending. You sort’ve see it coming based on the seeds that had been planted earlier on but still.. it was good.

Okay, actually, I thought of one thing that just didn’t quite fit. The bit with the cops. I just.. that seemed hard to swallow but it’s a blink and you miss it moment considering so much else is happening. And I don’t even know why I’m mentioning it here in such a vague way when it won’t mean anything to anyone who hasn’t read it but. Here we are. IYKYK.

Not quite sure who I would recommend this to, if anyone, but I had a surprisingly good time with it.


NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – FEBRUARY 7, 2023

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.


These Infinite Threads by Tahereh Mafi brings the second installment of this Arabian-esque, magic carpet flying, jinn and royalty story. We can’t wait.

Stoneblind by Natalie Haynes gets it’s US and Canada release today. This Medusa retelling is definitely worth your time according to the UK contingent of this blog!

Wildwood by Lauren Blackwood is a “story of a girl who must find the strength to defeat the demons of the jungle as well as her own to find where she truly belongs.



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

WILDBLOOD by Lauren Blackwood

Eighteen-year-old Victoria is a Wildblood. Kidnapped at the age of six and manipulated by the Exotic Lands Touring Company, she’s worked as a tour guide ever since with a team of fellow Wildbloods who take turns using their magic to protect travelers in a Jamaican jungle teeming with ghostly monsters.

When the boss denies Victoria an earned promotion to team leader in favor of Dean, her backstabbing ex, she’s determined to prove herself. Her magic may be the most powerful on the team, but she’s not the image the boss wants to send their new client, Thorn, a renowned goldminer determined to reach an untouched gold supply deep in the jungle.

Thorn is everything Victoria isn’t – confident, impossibly kind, and so handsome he leaves her speechless. And when he entrusts the mission to her, kindness turns to mutual respect, turns to affection, turns to love. But the jungle is treacherous, and between hypnotic river spirits, soul-devouring women that shed their skin like snakes, and her ex out for revenge, Victoria has to decide – is promotion at a corrupt company really what she wants?


Title : Wildblood
Author : Lauren Blackwood
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : February 7, 2023

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★.5 


Hollis’ 1.5 star review

I’m sad to say it but I think had the setting, and some of the magic and wildness of the jungle — at least in the first half — not been so interesting, this rating would be even lower.

It didn’t take long before every chapter, every page, every interaction between these cardboard characters, became a chore. It became a trial not to DNF around the 30% mark, and maybe it would’ve been earlier had I not chipped away at this so slowly after initially picking it up, but I convinced myself I could at least try to skim through a little further to see where things were going and, unfortunately, eventually read through to the end. I’m not sure why I bothered.

No, sorry, I do know why. Because I enjoyed the author’s debut so much.

This did have a few good things to offer outside of the setting; it also talks about colourism, human trafficking, and more, but it quickly shifted gears to focusing on a stuttering girl getting starry eyed over her love interest. Complete with confessions of feelings and love after two days.

Sorry, miss me with this. I already had one foot out of the door but this was too much. Especially with the whole evil ex dynamic and.. yeah, no.

Victoria’s character see-sawed all over the place and there were too many men involved, plus a pseudo-brother/son who she seemed willing to do anything for and who just mostly slept the whole time. I truly have no idea what was going on with these characters and why. But I think in general there just wasn’t a solid running vibe because the latter half of the story goes off the rails; both in plot and tone. Sometimes jokey, sometimes angsty, quick to forgive, quick to abandon things it had spent a lot of time and energy setting up.. it was all over the place.

I am hugely disappointed by this but mostly disappointed in myself for not just putting it down and walking away instead of pushing on to make it work. Do not recommend.

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

EMILY WILDE’S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FAERIES by Heather Fawcett

Enter the world of the hidden folk – and discover the most whimsical, enchanting and heart-warming tale you’ll read this year, featuring the intrepid Emily Wilde. . .

Emily Wilde is good at many things: she is the foremost expert on the study of faeries; she is a genius scholar and a meticulous researcher who is writing the world’s first encylopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at people

So when she arrives in the hardscrabble village of Hrafnsvik, Emily has no intention of befriending the gruff townsfolk. Nor does she care to spend time with another new arrival: her dashing and insufferably handsome academic rival Wendell Bambleby

But as Emily gets closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones – the most elusive of all faeries – she also finds herself on the trail of another mystery: who is Wendell Bambleby, and what does he really want? To find the answer, she’ll have to unlock the greatest mystery of all – her own heart.


Title : Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries
Author : Heather Fawcett
Format : Physical
Page Count : 336
Genre : Cosy Academia/Fantasy
Publisher : Orbit Books UK
Release Date : January 19, 2023

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : no rating


Micky’s important message about this book

Headline: cultural accuracy matters

This book is on semi-permanent hold. Why? Because the setting for this book is, I quote:

“an island situated off the wild seas off the Norwegian mainland”

and yet the author has used Icelandic alphabet (including letters that don’t exist in the Norwegian alphabet), Icelandic names and Icelandic naming conventions for second names. How can research go so wrong and no one notice all the way to publication?

I am a second generation Norwegian/English reader and have significant knowledge of the language. I have spent a fair amount of time in Iceland and have absorbed lots of their language rules and similarities.

I tried to keep reading but every single time (every page, pretty much) there was a name, a place and it drew me out of the book. I got as far as half way.

I emailed the publisher in a very respectful way and had an unsatisfactory reply that basically blew me off. I really hope that black, queer and other minority readers get better replies to their concerns about any book than I did, as they have enough BS to put up with in life.


WILDWOOD DANCING by Juliet Marillier – double review!

High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.

But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he’s there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena’s sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom–an impossible union it’s up to Jena to stop.

When Cezar’s grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can’t imagine–tests of trust, strength, and true love.


Title : Wildwood Dancing
Author : Juliet Marillier
Series : Wildwood (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 407
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Alfred A. Knopf
Release Date : January 23, 2007

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


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Even though this couldn’t be more different from the Sevenwaters Saga, there is something intrinsically Marillier about this story. A group of siblings. A mystery to be solved. Transformation. Magic. The Other folk. But this is still very unique, for all that it’s also based on, or paying homage to/a retelling of, folklore stories like The Twelve Dancing Princesses and, well, another one I won’t mention so it doesn’t ruin the surprise. Additionally, we have a story set not just in Britain, or Ireland, as most folklore and fairytales are, but in Transylvania, making the story further unique; because how often do we get that for a setting? And, complementing that setting, some of her creatures may feel a little.. familiar, too.

Joining me on this adventure was Micky but unlike previous Marillier buddy reads, I’m not sure I ever read this one. GR says no and having now read it I don’t think that was a data entry oversight on my part. While this won’t be one I revisit the way I reread her other works, there’s a lot of good here. But also, unfortunately fitting with the times perhaps, in addition to just being the conflict and antagonist of the plot, it’s also a struggle. Now, of course, often times I can enjoy the conflict for what it is without feeling like the book itself was less fun as a result but in this case.. what at first became a game to theorize and assign blame on a character, who was shit from the start, over time because wearisome. Marillier is always great at creating fantastic villains who truly believe they are on the right side, doing the right things, but this time.. it wore on me. Maybe because instead of machinations sprinkled over the course of a trilogy, everything was crammed into one instalment. Or maybe it was the kind conflicts (misogyny, patriarchal behaviour, all flavours of that kind) just rubbed me in places that were too raw. What also frustrated me was the fact that our lead was rarely, if ever, supported by those around her to fight these conflicts. Sure, again, maybe it’s a sign of the times. The reality was they had little support in the first place which could explain why things happened the way they did. But it was exhausting.

As for the mysteries and magic, well. They were mostly fairly obvious from the get-go. We definitely saw a lot of it coming without much surprise. Which is fine. And I did absolutely love how everything kicked off (the game they played as children and the ripples it would have throughout their lives) because it felt true to the mischief and mayhem that comes with involving yourself with the Others. So, too, was all of Jena, our lead’s, assumptions and judgments. She did become rather difficult near the end after having spent so much time judging her sister and what she was going through, only to be found guilty of her own follies and not truly realize the parallels (I’m thinking of her preoccupation in her moment of loss which she saw Tati going through the whole time). Having said that, though, said sister was a little.. dramatic I think. To go from distracted and heartsick to what she did.. I don’t know. A little much.

I definitely wanted to love this more than I did. But I did enjoy the world, even if the characters sometimes frustrated me, and as usual Marillier does fae like few authors can. And, of course, it was a joy to read this with my buddy and theorize and rant about what was going on at any given time.

I do want to read on and I’m looking forward to seeing what new experiences await in book two. 


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
A flavour of retellings
Dancing sisters
Other folk of many types

Marillier knows how to craft an interesting world to invest the reader from the start. In this duology starter, I found myself in the Transylvanian mountains of Romania, somewhere I’ve never been in fiction before; so fresh. This story had the flavour of some fairytales but set in it’s own unique way, one of the influences was the twelve dancing princesses (but there weren’t twelve).

In no surprise to any Marillier fan, the other folk and their world collided with those of the protagonist Jena and antagonist Cezar. Cezar, (deep sigh) was vile in an exponential way as the story developed. Expect to feel shades of patriarchy, misogyny and control. There were many parts of this story with Cezar that enraged me. That said, many of the men in this story were empowering towards women.

Jena and her sisters were a colourful bunch. By the end, I really wanted a Tati story, more of what happened to her in this story and the afterwards. Gogu was a great character and although Hollis and I guessed much about this character, the reading of it was still entertaining.

In the other world we met a lot of different folk, dissimilar to her sevenwaters fair folk. The night people were illusively intriguing, I loved the brief pictures and connections between the sisters and Anatoli, Sten and othe dancing partners.

The romp to the end was predictable in some ways and less so in others but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment. I’m looking forward to the next book (and hoping my buddy is on board for this soon) and wishing already that there were more than two books in this series.

ARE YOU HAPPY NOW by Hanna Jameson

At a New York City wedding, on a sweltering summer night, four people are trying to be happy.

Yun has everything he ever wanted, but somehow it’s never enough.
Emory is finally making her mark, but feels the shame more than the success.
Andrew is trying to be honest, but has lied to himself his whole life.
Fin can’t resist falling in love, but can’t help wrecking it all either.

And then the world begins to end. The four of them watch as one of the wedding guests sits down and refuses to get back up. Soon it’s happening across the world. Is it a choice or an illness?

Because how can anyone be happy in a world where the only choice is to feel everything – or nothing at all?

An intensely compulsive novel for anyone who has ever felt hopeful and helpless in one breath, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW is about how you keep living when the world is on fire. Perfect for fans of Emily John St. Mandel’s Station Eleven, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Patricia Lockwood’s Nobody is Talking About This and Naomi Alderman’s The Power.


Title : Are You Happy Now
Author : Hanna Jameson
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 360
Genre : Contemporary/Dystopian
Publisher : Penguin Books
Release Date : February 2, 2023

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
A different kind of pandemic
Relationship reactions to impending risk
Melancholy, sometimes sad and definitely not happy

Firstly, I just want to say that I do not read pandemic books, it’s too early for me but this isn’t like anything we experienced in recent years, apart from how humans behave. Most people will feel safe reading this in my opinion. I’m not going to spoil the events this book is built around, but suffice it to say, it’s a clever concept.

This book was full of quirk and weirdness while being rather engrossing. The characters were completely eclectic and apart from Andrew who I liked, the rest I just observed with popcorn. Yun who I initally liked, didn’t cope with what the world was offering and that ending was strangely surprising. Emory I liked more early on but her characterisation lost a bit of shading as it went on. Fin was an interesting addition later on.

This book’s strengths lie in the telling of human reaction to fear, risk and the sometimes resulting resilience. It’s fascinating how life rolls on and how relationships form and crash along the way. Societal reactions to what happened were very in the background and I thought that was missing a bit from the narrative.

I’m aware this review is somewhat vague but I think this is a read best served without prior knowledge.

Thank you to Viking Books for the review copy.

MONTHLY WRAP UP – JANUARY 2023

To close out each month, we’ll be posting a break down of everything we reviewed, beginning with the reads we loved.. and ending with the reads we didn’t. Not only does this compile all our reviews in one handy summary for you to peruse, or catch up on, it also gives us an interesting birds eye view of the month and our reads. And maybe, even, our moods.


☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

A Shadow In The Ember by Jennifer L Armentrout — see Micky’s review here
The Six Deaths of the Saint by Alix. E. Harrow — see Hollis’ review here

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire — see Hollis’ review here
Mysteries of Thorn Manor by Margaret Rogerson — see Hollis’ review here
Six Times We Almost Kissed (And One Time We Did) by Tess Sharpe — see Hollis’ review here
Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn — see Hollis’ review here
Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert — see Hollis’ review here
Glitterland by Alexis Hall — see Hollis’ review here
A Familiar Stranger by AR Torre — see Micky’s review here
Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo — see Hollis’ review here
Alone With You In The Ether by Olivie Blake — see Micky’s review here
What the Dead Know by Nghi Vo — see Hollis’ review here
A Taste Of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland — see Micky’s review here
Saint by Adrienne Young — see Micky’s review here
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

Fairy Tale by Stephen King — see Micky’s review here
Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner — see Micky’s review here
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery — see Hollis’ review here
Undercover by Tamsyn Muir — see Hollis’ review here
Out of the Mirror, Darkness by Garth Nix — see Hollis’ review here

☆ ☆ star reads

Begin Again by Emma Lord — see Hollis’ review here
Finlay Donovan Jumps The Gun by Elle Cosimano — see Hollis’ review here
Godkiller by Hannah Kaner — see Micky’s review here
The Candles Are Burning by Veronica G. Henry — see Hollis’ review here

star reads

The Garden by Tomi Champion-Adeyemi — see Hollis’ review here
Persephone by Lev Grossman — see Hollis’ review here

u n r a t e d

DNF


total reads by Micky : nine for the blog
favourite read of the month : A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L Armentrout
least favourite read of the month : Godkiller by Hannah Kaner
most read genre : fantasy

total reviews by Hollis : seventeen (but it’s kind of a cheat due to that series review..)
favourite read of the month : The Six Deaths of the Saint by Alix. E. Harrow
least favourite read of the month : Persephone by Lev Grossman
most read genre : fantasy

ANTICIPATED FEBRUARY 2023 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.

Be aware that some of these are sequels and it’s at your own spoilery risk if you read the blurb!


For February, our hotly anticipated titles, in chronological order, are :


These Infinite Threads by Tahereh Mafi | February 7, 2023

Full of explosive magic, searing romance, and heartbreaking betrayal, These Infinite Threads is the breathtaking sequel to the instant New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller This Woven Kingdom

With the heat of a kiss, the walls between Alizeh, the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom, and Kamran, the crown prince of the Ardunian empire, have crumbled. And so have both of their lives.

Kamran’s grandfather, the king of Ardunia, lays dead, the terrible secret of his deal with the devil exposed to the world. Cyrus, the mysterious copper-haired royal, has stolen Alizeh away to Tulan, the neighboring kingdom where he rules. Cyrus has made his own deal with the devil—one that would require Alizeh to betray her feelings for Kamran if she’s to reclaim the Jinn throne.

Alizeh wants nothing to do with Cyrus, or his deal with Iblees. But with no means of escaping Tulan, and with the tantalizing promise of fulfilling her destiny as the heir to the Jinn, she’s forced to wonder whether she can set aside her emotions—and finally become the queen her people need.

Kamran, meanwhile, is picking up the pieces of his broken kingdom. Facing betrayal at every turn, all he knows for certain is that he must go to Tulan to avenge his grandfather. He can only hope that Alizeh will be waiting for him there—and that she’s not yet become queen of Tulan.

Stoneblind by Natalie Haynes | February 7, 2023

The national bestselling author of A Thousand Ships and Pandora’s Jar returns with a fresh and stunningly perceptive take on the story of Medusa, the original monstered woman.

They will fear you and flee you and call you a monster. 

The only mortal in a family of gods, Medusa is the youngest of the Gorgon sisters. Unlike her siblings, Medusa grows older, experiences change, feels weakness. Her mortal lifespan gives her an urgency that her family will never know.

When the sea god Poseidon assaults Medusa in Athene’s temple, the goddess is enraged. Furious by the violation of her sacred space, Athene takes revenge–on the young woman. Punished for Poseidon’s actions, Medusa is forever transformed. Writhing snakes replace her hair and her gaze will turn any living creature to stone. Cursed with the power to destroy all she loves with one look, Medusa condemns herself to a life of solitude.

Until Perseus embarks upon a fateful quest to fetch the head of a Gorgon . . .

In Stone Blind, classicist and comedian Natalie Haynes turns our understanding of this legendary myth on its head, bringing empathy and nuance to one of the earliest stories in which a woman–injured by a powerful man–is blamed, punished, and monstered for the assault. Delving into the origins of this mythic tale, Haynes revitalizes and reconstructs Medusa’s story with her passion and fierce wit, offering a timely retelling of this classic myth that speaks to us today. 

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi | February 14, 2023

A sumptuous, gothic-infused story about a marriage that is unraveled by dark secrets, a friendship cursed to end in tragedy, and the danger of believing in fairy tales–the breathtaking adult debut from New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi.

Once upon a time, a man who believed in fairy tales married a beautiful, mysterious woman named Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada. He was a scholar of myths. She was heiress to a fortune. They exchanged gifts and stories and believed they would live happily ever after–and in exchange for her love, Indigo extracted a promise: that her bridegroom would never pry into her past.

But when Indigo learns that her estranged aunt is dying and the couple is forced to return to her childhood home, the House of Dreams, the bridegroom will soon find himself unable to resist. For within the crumbling manor’s extravagant rooms and musty halls, there lurks the shadow of another girl: Azure, Indigo’s dearest childhood friend who suddenly disappeared. As the house slowly reveals his wife’s secrets, the bridegroom will be forced to choose between reality and fantasy, even if doing so threatens to destroy their marriage . . . or their lives.

Combining the lush, haunting atmosphere of Mexican Gothic with the dreamy enchantment of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRueThe Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a spellbinding and darkly romantic page-turner about love and lies, secrets and betrayal, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive. 

Only You by Samantha Young | February 21, 2023

Once upon a time, Monroe Sinclair was Brodan Adair’s best friend, but now he’s a stranger and one of Hollywood’s leading men…

It took Monroe Sinclair eighteen years to return home to Ardnoch after a fateful night that devastated her friendship with Brodan Adair. She fled her unrequited love for him, as well as her difficult family life, and tried not to look behind her. Only a daughter’s guilt could lure her back to the Highlands and the assumption that Brodan Adair rarely ever sets foot in their hometown. She can handle seeing the rest of the Adairs so long as she can avoid her ex-best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Nothing is more important to Brodan than family, and only his demons have the power to keep him from them. For years, acting was something he was lucky enough to be good at, yet it wasn’t his priority—Ardnoch and his siblings were. But when a ghost from his past returned out of the blue, Brodan tried to outrun its haunting, taking him further and further from home. When exhaustion finally forces him back to the family fold, the last thing he wants is to encounter another ghost. But that’s exactly what Monroe Sinclair has been to him.

When a promise to his nephew obliges Brodan to work with Monroe, it forces them to face their past. The explosive connection that has always existed between them resurrects truths long buried. Yet, just when they might be on the brink of a second chance, the ghost from Brodan’s past finally catches up to him and threatens not just their happiness, but their very lives.

The Strangest Forms by Gregory Ashe | February 24, 2023

Watson is dead. Holmes is alone. And Jack is desperate.

Sixteen-year-old Jack Moreno is managing to hold his life together. Barely. After a terrible car accident leaves his father unable to work, Jack makes ends meet by dropping out of school and covering his dad’s custodial shifts at a school for troubled teens, high in the Wasatch Mountains. Everything is going all right until the night Jack finds Sarah Watson—yes, descendant of that Watson—dead.

When the icy but intriguing Holloway Holmes—yes, descendant of that Holmes—learns of Watson’s death, he is determined to discover the killer on his own. But Jack and his father are the prime suspects in the official investigation, and Jack refuses to sit by and wait.

In an uneasy alliance with Holmes, Jack must hurry to learn what really happened to Sarah Watson, which means facing down a Moriarty, unearthing secrets and blackmail, and trying to solve the other murder at the Walker School, one that happened more than twenty years before. Working together is the only way Jack and Holmes might find the killer before he catches up with them, but both boys are keeping secrets of their own—secrets that threaten the fragile trust they’ve managed to build between them. 

A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon | February 28, 2023

The stunning, standalone prequel to the New York Times bestselling The Priory of the Orange Tree.

Tunuva Melim is a sister of the Priory. For fifty years, she has trained to slay wyrms – but none have appeared since the Nameless One, and the younger generation is starting to question the Priory’s purpose.

To the north, in the Queendom of Inys, Sabran the Ambitious has married the new King of Hróth, narrowly saving both realms from ruin. Their daughter, Glorian, trails in their shadow – exactly where she wants to be. 

The dragons of the East have slept for centuries. Dumai has spent her life in a Seiikinese mountain temple, trying to wake the gods from their long slumber. Now someone from her mother’s past is coming to upend her fate.

When the Dreadmount erupts, bringing with it an age of terror and violence, these women must find the strength to protect humankind from a devastating threat.

Intricate and epic, Samantha Shannon sweeps readers back to the world of A Priory of the Orange Tree, showing us a course of events that shaped it for generations to come.


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

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – JANUARY 31, 2023

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.


Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun by Elle Cosimano marks the third instalment in this single-mother-writer-accidentally-becomes-a-hitwoman series following, none other, than Finlay Donovan.

Chain of Thorns by Cassandra Clare is the third and final instalment in the Last Hours series.

Are You Happy Now by Hanna Jameson is a dytopian story with a pandemic of malady. An interesting read promised.

Song Like Silver, Flame Like Night by Amelie Wen Zhou heralds this author’s return with a new trilogy start based in Chinese mythology.



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

FINLAY DONOVAN JUMPS THE GUN by Elle Cosimano

Author and single mom Finlay Donovan has been in messes before―after all, she’s a pro at removing bloodstains for various unexpected reasons―but none quite like this. When Finlay and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero accidentally destroyed a luxury car that they had “borrowed” in the process of saving the life of Finlay’s ex-husband, the Russian mob did her a favor and bought the car for her. And now Finlay owes them. 

Mob boss Feliks is still running the show from behind bars, and he has a task for Finlay: find and identify a contract killer before the cops do. The problem is, the killer might be an officer themself.

Luckily, hot cop Nick has just been tasked with starting up a citizen’s police academy, and combined pressure from Finlay’s looming book deadline and Feliks is enough to convince Finlay and Vero to get involved. Through firearm training and forensic classes (and some hands-on research with a tempting detective), Finlay and Vero use their time in police academy to sleuth out the real contract killer to free themselves from the mob’s clutches―all the while dodging spies, confronting Vero’s past, and juggling the daily trials of parenthood.

From USA Today bestseller and Edgar-Award nominee Elle Cosimano, comes Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun—the highly anticipated, hilarious, and heart-pounding next installment in the beloved Finlay Donovan series…


Title : Finlay Donovan Jumps The Gun
Author : Elle Cosimano
Series : Finlay Donovan (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : mystery / thriller
Publisher : Minotaur Books
Release Date : January 31, 2023

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

Pretty sure in my review for book two I said something about my suspension of disbelief button getting a workout but hoo boy. That’s nothing compared the third installment in this series. Poor pointer finger is exhausted.

That aside, I have to say, I found it extremely hard to get back into this world; or, maybe more accurately, the writing. I cared nothing for the characters, the nonsense they had once more gotten themselves twisted up in, and certainly not the romance. Can I blame all that on the writing or am I just over this concept? I’ll admit the red herrings for the mystery were well done but it sorta feels like everything was made more convoluted and dramatic, as opposed to less, because of Finlay and Vero’s involvement. And that did not make for a great experience.

I am all for a plucky heroine stumbling into bigger things and having to navigate but like.. it’s just not working anymore. Things are either too big for her to be emerging unscathed or things just aren’t being taken seriously enough and therefore the stakes aren’t high. Or both, sometimes at the same time. It’s a weird feeling. The vibes are off.

Also, that big near-final scene happening surrounded by all those cops? Yeah bloody right. The eyerolls.

Also also, the very meta writing bit about Finlay and her characters is getting tired, too.

While Vero had definitely saved some of the bits that I had previously given side-eye, she did not fare so well in this one. I worried her subplot would add to the OTT and ruin her and yeah, I think it did. Honestly, the only character I really enjoyed in this one was Wade, a firearms instructor, because his lack of fucks really spoke to me. Nick, one of the many (!) love interests, wasn’t too bad, either. I am just bewildered by all these menfolk panting after Finlay because I do not get the appeal.

But what do I know; the same could be said about my feelings for this series vs the many many readers who are having a blast. So.

While I had hoped to find a spark of love for this series, I think I’ll stick this on the back burner until the end is in sight.

ps, still wishing Steven was dead.

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