Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.
Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.
With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.
Title : Dark and Deepest Red Author : Anna-Marie McLemore Format : eARC Page Count : 320 Genre : YA fantasy Publisher : Feiwel & Friends Release Date : January 14, 2020
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : unrated
Hollis’ unrated review
I’ve had a few reasons to not rate books over the years. But sometimes the reason is simply because I honestly don’t know what the book deserves. This here is one of those times.
This is my first McLemore despite hearing nothing but wonderful magical things about their writing for.. years. And I can admit, this was magical and at times wonderful. But did I enjoy the experience? I’m not sure. There is so much to be gained by this story, the message within, the truths, the history.. some moments really did wow me. But, again, was this ever actually enjoyable? Not really? So I’m not rating it.
Would I recommend? Maybe. If you’ve read and loved this author before, I think this is going to be another winner for your shelf. With the added bonus of it being a queer retelling. For someone new to this author? I don’t know if this is one to rush out and read. But if you’re curious, feed the beast. Borrow it from your library.
I still have every intention on working through some of McLemore’s backlist.. so maybe that, right there, says it all. Or at least enough.
** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Balancing epic and intensely personal stakes, bestselling author Adam Silvera’s Infinity Son is a gritty, fast-paced adventure about two brothers caught up in a magical war generations in the making.
Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.
Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.
Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.
Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.
Title : Infinity Son Author : Adam Silvera Series : Infinity Cycle (book one) Format : ARC/eARC Page Count : 368 Genre : YA fantasy Publisher : HarperTeen/Simon & Schuster UK Release Date : January 14, 2020
Reviewer : Hollis/Micky Rating : ★/DNF
Hollis’ 1 star review
Here’s the thing. I didn’t really want to be here, posting a review for a much hyped book that I clearly didn’t like, but up until the 60% mark I was at least hoping to have one or two good things to say to warrant a two star “hey man, you tried, good on you” rating.
But no. I can’t round up on this.
A combination of mostly annoying (oh god I wanted Brighton to go DIAF times infinity) and or doing-nothing-for-me characters, so little world building that I honestly only understood maybe like 15% of the structure of this universe (and literally, after everything, still don’t know the difference between some of the classification/terms), and the weirdest prophecy or, like, Three Step Apocalypse plan ever? I just can’t.
I pushed on just to finish this because I was sorta hoping there’d be something worth looking forward to in book two and, again, because for the most part it was mostly meh with just a little frustrating.. until we got near the end and it became mostly frustrating, with lots of meh, and two handfuls of added what-the-fuck-ery.
We flip from action scene to action scene and half the time these kids are bouncing back like they just didn’t get their asses handed to them, while spouting the weirdest cheesey action drama dialogue, and.. yeah, I can’t. Sorry. I don’t even want to be writing this review anymore.
There’s lots of rep in here, which is great, and I’m glad Silvera was able to realize his dreams to write a fantasy with the representation that not only all books deserve but also where he can see himself, and others in, but. But. This just wasn’t a win for me in any way shape or form.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Micky’s DNF thoughts (can’t really call it a review)
I tried and tried and tried again but the world felt impossible without adequate world building and I could only stay confused for so long. The language for different beings was constantly thrown around without explanation. The writing style was what I can only describe as awkward. I didn’t once lose myself in the story but I was constantly jarred by the narrative style.
Excuse me while I weep as I wanted so much from this, having enjoyed Adam Silvera’s books previously.
Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.
Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.
Title : Love Her or Lose Her Author : Tessa Bailey Series : Hot & Hammered (book two) Format : eARC Page Count : 352 Genre : contemporary romance Publisher : Avon Release Date : January 14, 2020
After reading FIX HER UP, I knew I wanted to read on in this series, even though the only thing that saved that first book for me was Georgie. Oh, and her friend group. I’ve had a rocky reading experience with Bailey, not going to lie. However, knowing book two would be about a pre-existing couple trying to save their marriage? I was hooked on the potential for angst but I did worry a bit as second chance romances aren’t always my jam.
But wow did this work.
This was such a slower burn for the sexytimes compared to book one, even stranger considering there’s not only a relationship but a marriage already existing, but it actually worked so damn well. I think this choice actually is what saved this book. Honestly, I can’t really think of anything I didn’t love?
“Look, if you two assholes wouldn’t mind? I’d like to go knock some walls down.” “What you should have done is knocked your own walls down and let her in—“ “Oh, for fucks sake. You’ve been in a relationship for one minute and you think you’re an expert?“ “Yes.”
The hero, Dom, was alpha-y but nowhere near the extremes we’ve seen. He was very deliberately the way he was and it was explained; he was a doer, not a shower, not a talker, and he’d learned to be that way. Sure, sometimes this got a bit repetitive but honestly it just reinforced how much this was the way he thought things should be. Despite the fact that it contributed to his marriage.. not failing but almost breaking.
Every day, going through the motions and being so angry at him. How could she not have realized she was doing the exact same thing?
As for Rosie, she was just wonderful. Honestly. She wasn’t without her own epiphanies about her relationship, as nor was she faultless in the breakdown of life as she knew it, and I loved that. These two loved each other so hard but along the way life happened, insecurities festered, and boom, there it is. The journey back felt so genuine, organic, and not without frustrations. It felt real.
“.. they’re designed to put impure thoughts in a man’s head.” “Any inanimate object puts impure thoughts in a man’s head. Box of cereal. Boner. Ice-cube tray. Boner.“
As for the sexies, well. The build up was great, the climax of it all was hot, and actually my only complaint is that while “honey girl” was far from as offensive as “baby girl”, I still could’ve had less of it. But that’s a personal choice, I guess. Additionally, this book got me right in the feels more than once and I can’t even blame my period for it, so. It’s pretty much the whole package.
There’s a brilliant set up for the third (final?) book and I’m excited for it. This time it looks to be a younger and single dad trope matched up with something of a hate to love or opposites attract and heyyooo just call me weak but I want it.
** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Micky’s 4 star review
LOVE HER OR LOSE HER delivered on that bit more that I wanted from FIX HER UP but stayed in this small world of characters that I am beginning to get rather attached to. I was incredibly excited about Rosie and Dominic’s story because I love stories about married couples. This was a great example of a story with that trope.
The story started with an almighty crumble in Rosie and Dominic’s marriage. It was difficult to observe and my heart ached for them both. It was also an interesting context for marriage difficulties, a communication breakdown over time and I think that’s probably a common issue. It was written tangibly and with such heart and feeling.
The character growth in this story is full. It seemed like Dominic was the difficult party to the marriage demise but they both had some realisations, courtesty of their rather hilarious marriage therapist. The passion between these two was fiery and my kindle sometimes steamed of its own accord and passion was all these two were left with.
I loved the fun injected into this read that had such serious and heart breaking undertones. The balance between comedy and renovating this marriage was pretty perfect. It was mostly the side characters providing the comedy elements and I thoroughly enjoyed bits of Travis and Georgie from book one, but I am especially a fan of Bethany and I can’t wait for her book.
LOVE HER OR LOSE HER was a book with the feels, I didn’t cry until I read the last page and went gooey with happiness. I loved how involved I got with this couple and I especially loved not having ‘baby girl’ as the nickname in this one, I could live with ‘honey girl’ a little easier. This series is turning out to be a great one to invest in and I recommend the first two books.
Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for the early review copy.
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.
Title : Tweet Cute Author : Emma Lord Format : eARC Page Count : 368 Genre : YA contemporary Publisher : Wednesday Books Release Date : January 21, 2020
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5
Hollis’ 4.5 star review
So, before actually starting this book, I had a feeling this would be cute (and honestly that’s as high as my hopes were because I’ve been burned before!) but by 49% I knew I would love this. And I did. Side note, I know 49% doesn’t sound impressive considering it’s halfway through the book and most people can see the writing on the wall by that point, but this felt.. long. Not in a bad way, but this is a substantial romance read, so. I don’t know, I don’t know why I’m defending this point, regardless, I loved it, let’s move on!
This contemporary is chock full of all the best kind of tropes. Opposites attract, secret identities, business rivalry, slowburn, friends-to-more.. also, lots and lots of sassy tweets and memes.
Additionally, the author leaned into these tropes but made them better? I don’t know. If you’ve seen You’ve Got Mail, it’s pretty obvious how some of the events go down, and yet it felt less cheesy (hah!) and far more layered (with cheese?).
Pepper and Jack both have very real soul-searching to do, compounded by very real expectations, and obstacles, set in place by their parents. I’ll admit the area of the parentals is kind of where things got dragged down a bit for me, in particular I struggled with Pepper’s mom, but I do feel things are wrapped up nicely without it all feeling like a cop-out or too far fetched. It doesn’t mean I liked how things went down, but, I mean, there are underlying motivations that pushed everything in motion.
But back to Pepperjack. These two, I mean, wow. I loved how these two interacted from the very first page. It was such a gradual shift but it was so well done. The chemistry, everything, was just sweet and awkward and perfect. The banter sprinkled throughout, the humour infused in so many situations, even outside of the MCs, was so great. I laughed, nay, giggled, at so many spots. But it was the quiet moments, too, particularly between the two leads, which were just.. special. You really felt their connection, their understanding of each other, and that more than anything made this book wonderful.
This was such a fantastic debut and I look forward to more people reading it the closer we get to release (it’s November, as I write this, lolz), and am so excited to see what Lord has for us next. I’ll definitely be first in line to get my hands on it.
** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Author Bio : Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter.
Early Praise :
“Tweet Cute delivers in every possible way: a perfect enemies-to-lovers romance, a whip-smart plotline, and endearingly real characters. I devoured it.” – Francesca Zappia, author of Eliza and Her Monsters
“Sweet and fun! An adorable debut that updates a classic romantic trope with a buzzy twist.” – Jenn Bennett, author of Alex, Approximately and Serious Moonlight
“A witty rom-com reinvention for the Twitter age, Tweet Cute pairs delicious online rivalry with deeply relatable insights on family pressure and growing up. This fresh, funny read had us hitting ‘favorite’ from page one.” – Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, authors of Always Never Yours and If I’m Being Honest
With the warmth, wit, intimate friendships, and heart-melting romance she brings to all her books, Emma Mills crafts a story about believing in yourself, owning your mistakes, and trusting in human connection in Lucky Caller.
When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.
The members of Nina’s haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she’d hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.
The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina’s family is on the brink of some major upheaval.
Everything feels like it’s spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?
Title : Lucky Caller Author : Emma Mills Format : eARC Page Count : 336 Genre : YA contemporary Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Release Date : January 14, 2020
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★ ★
Hollis’ 3 star review
It breaks my heart a little to say this, and rate this book with only a three, but this is my least favourite Millsy.
There were still moments of out-loud laughter, though not as many. There was still a cool friend group, though it didn’t feel as strong or fleshed out. And there was still a moment — or two — that teared me up, but.. maybe too late in the game. The book was a bit shorter, the scope a bit smaller, and events and connections lean heavily on some not-present-day recollections, so.. I don’t know. Everything I want, and love, from this author was there. Just not as much. Overall everything just felt more muted.
I think if you have enjoyed a Mills before, you’ll still enjoy this, too. But it isn’t a favourite, I doubt I’ll reread, and those are things I’ve never said before when speaking of her work. But that’s okay! Not every book can, or will, be a winner. And I’m sure this’ll be someone’s favourite. It’s just not mine.
** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
1819. Jack ‘Crow’ Crowlas, the charismatic and troubled hero of K.J. Whittaker’s first novel, FALSE LIGHTS, has married his feisty love, Hester and with their baby daughter, settled down to enjoy their new life as Lord and Lady Lamorna of Nansmornow in Cornwall.
But for Crow, trouble is never far away and as Cornwall seethes with rebellion, he is arrested for treason. Spared execution on condition that he undertakes a highly dubious mission to St Petersburg, he finds himself tangled in a snare of treachery and illicit passion, violence and sexual deceit, where not only his love for Hester, but also his relationship with his only brother, serving with the British army in Russia, will be tested to the limit and beyond.
Title : Wicked By Design Author : Katy Moran Format : Hardback Page Count : 464 Genre : Historical Fiction Publisher : Head of Zeus Release Date : September 5, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 4 star review
I feel all the things on finishing this book, so many emotions. I didn’t expect such an angsty ride but it worked so well and I’m feeling a bit wrung out from the journey.
This was an epic historical novel, epic in that it spanned continents and the storytelling was vast and deep. There is a previous book about these characters (FALSE LIGHTS) but this book isn’t marketed as a series and it stands alone perfectly. WICKED BY DESIGN was a book with two main characters but it was so much about a family and the side characters were crucial to the story. The book was written in the era of the Napoleonic wars, where France was at war with England and the Cornish people were a separate country as such. I did some quick history brushing-up through my read of this book but I kept up with things well.
Lord John ‘Crow’ Lamora was a respected figure in the recent wars and was married to Hester, a black woman, daughter of a sea captain. Their marriage seemed to have begrudging acceptance in society but Hester was not truly accepted, only tolerated for the sake of her husband and his rank. The power dynamic between Hester and Crow was everything funny, heartbreaking and empowering. What these character went through in this book can only be described as hellish but I was glued to the page.
I went from really liking Crow to absolutely detesting his behaviour whilst understanding some of it. It was so hard to watch what happened to this man, to witness it and to feel it; and feel it I did. Not only for Crow but for Hester too, talk about putting my heart through the grater! Crow’s brother Kitto was a key character who I really liked. He was a bit young and impetuous but I found myself having a soft spot for him. The dynamic between Crow and Kitto however, was a difficult one. There needs be a little mention of Nadia’s character, she was superb in her gender role. Eventually, the story took these characters from Cornwall to St Petersburg. The description was rich but not heavy and it transported me to the sights, sounds and smells.
Katy Moran took me from page one and battered emotions out of me all along the way, right up until that last line. I felt dangled on a string, I wanted to lash out at the characters sometimes but all I can say is that her writing, her story made me feel. This is a historical fiction with some romance but more historical fiction than anything, I highly recommend it.
Thank you to Head of Zeus for this finished copy to review (the hardback is beautiful).
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.
TOUGH GUY by Rachel Reid actually came out yesterday so happy belated to book three in the author’s Game Changers series! This particular match up isn’t a coming out story and, like book one, features a hockey player and a non-hockey player romance. You can check out Hollis’ review here.
LUCKY CALLER by Emma Mills is out today and contemporary fans can rejoice at a spectacular way to kick off the new year! A review with Hollis’ full thoughts will be posted tomorrow.
LOVE HER OR LOSE HER by Tessa Bailey is book two in her Hot and Hammered series. Neither of us loved book one, FIX HER UP (sorry, baby girl), but this one surprised and delighted us both! Look for our review by the end of the week.
Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!