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MONTHLY WRAP UP – JULY 2021

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

The Idea Of You by Robinne Lee — see Micky’s review here
A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren — see Hollis’ review here
Subject Twenty One by A.E. Warren — see Micky’s review here
Falling by T.J. Newman — see Micky’s review here
These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan — see Micky’s review here
Would I Lie To You by Aliya Ali-Afzal — see Micky’s review here
The Stand-In by Lily Chu — see Micky’s review here
A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson — see Hollis’ review here
Is This It? by Hannah Tovey — see Micky’s review here
Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams — see Micky’s review here
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers — see Hollis’ & Micky’s review here
Just Folking Around by Penny Reid — see Hollis’ & Micky’s reviews here
Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim — see Hollis’ review here
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris — see Micky’s review here
Lobizona by Romina Garber — see Hollis’ review here
The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey — see Micky’s review here
Reputation by Lex Croucher — see Micky’s review here
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides — see Micky’s review here
Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee — see Micky’s review here
Totally Folked by Penny Reid — see Hollis’ & Micky’s reviews here
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri — see Micky’s review here
53 Letters For My Lover by Leylah Attar — see Hollis’ review here

☆ ☆ star reads

The Forevers by Chris Whitaker — see Micky’s review here
Lore & Lust by Karla Nikole — see Hollis’ review here

star reads

u n r a t e d

The Taking of Jake Livingstone by Ryan Douglass — see Hollis’ review here
21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph — see Hollis’ review here

DNF


additional reads not reviewed for blog : several!
total reads by Micky : nineteen
favourite read of the month : A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas
least favourite read of the month : The Forevers by Chris Whittaker
most read genre : contemporary wins this month

total reviews by Hollis : eleven
favourite read of the month : The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
least favourite read of the month : The Taking of Jake Livingstone by Ryan Douglass
most read genre : contemporary

ANTICIPATED AUGUST 2021 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 August, our hotly anticipated titles, in chronological order, are :


Nolyn by Michael J. Sullivan | August 1, 2021

After more than five hundred years of exile, the heir to the empyre is wary about his sudden reassignment to active duty on the Goblin War’s front lines. His assignment to rescue an outpost leads to a dead-end canyon deep inside enemy territory, and his suspicion turns to dread when he discovers the stronghold does not exist. But whoever went to the trouble of planning his death to look like a casualty of war did not know he would be assigned to the Seventh Sikaria Auxiliary Squadron. In the depths of an unforgiving jungle, a legend is about to be born, and the world of Elan will never be the same.

From Michael J. Sullivan, the New York Times, USA Today, and Washington Post bestselling author, a new adventure begins with the first book in The Rise and Fall trilogy. Although this series is set in the same world as the Riyria novels and the Legends of the First Empire books, it is a standalone tale. As such, no prior knowledge of the other works is required to enjoy this tale to its fullest.

Dark Waters by Katherine Arden | August 3, 2021

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Arden returns with another creepy, spine-tingling adventure in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Small Spaces and Dead Voices.

Having met and outsmarted the smiling man in Dead Voices but fearful of when he’ll come again, Ollie, Brian, and Coco are anxiously searching for a way to defeat him once and for all. By staying together and avoiding remote places, they’ve steered clear of him so far but their constant worry and stress is taking a toll on their lives and friendship. So when Ollie’s dad and Coco’s mom plan a “fun” boat trip on Lake Champlain, the three are apprehensive to say the least. They haven’t had the best of luck on their recent trips and even worse their frenemy Phil is on the boat as well. But when a lake monster destroys their boat, they end up shipwrecked on a deserted island. This isn’t just any island though. It’s hidden from the outside world in a fog and unless everyone works together to find a way to escape, they won’t survive long.

If The Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy | August 3, 2021

After having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, and trying to get her feet on the ground, Cindy is working for her stepmother, who happens to be the executive producer of America’s favorite reality show, Before Midnight. When a spot on the show needs filling ASAP, Cindy volunteers, hoping it might help jump-start her fashion career, or at least give her something to do while her peers land jobs in the world of high fashion.

Turns out being the only plus size woman on a reality dating competition makes a splash, and soon Cindy becomes a body positivity icon for women everywhere. What she doesn’t expect? That she may just find inspiration-and love-in the process. Ultimately, Cindy learns that if the shoe doesn’t fit, maybe it’s time to design your own.

As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson | August 5, 2021

The third thrilling book in the bestselling, award-winning A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series

Pip Fitz-Amobi is haunted by the way her last investigation ended. Soon she’ll be leaving for Cambridge University but then another case finds her . . . and this time it’s all about Pip.

Pip is used to online death threats, but there’s one that catches her eye, someone who keeps asking: who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? And it’s not just online. Pip has a stalker who knows where she lives. The police refuse to act and then Pip finds connections between her stalker and a local serial killer. The killer has been in prison for six years, but Pip suspects that the wrong man is behind bars. As the deadly game plays out, Pip realises that everything in Little Kilton is finally coming full circle. If Pip doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears . . .

Role Model by Rachel Reid | August 10, 2021

Troy Barrett has been freshly traded to Ottawa after calling out Dallas Kent during a team practice. He wants to be a better person, and the weird, scrappy energy of the struggling Ottawa team seems like the place to…well. It seems like the only place that will have Troy right now.

Fortunately the Ottawa team includes Ilya Rozanov and Wyatt Hayes, and also includes an adorable social media manager, Harris Drover. Harris is the opposite of Troy in every way: friendly, cheerful, chatty, and goofy with a booming voice, a startlingly loud laugh, and Pride pins all over his denim jacket. Definitely not the sort of person Troy would normally associate with, and yet…

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker | August 17, 2021

Beloved author Lucy Parker pens a delicious new romantic comedy that is a battle of whisks and wits.

Ready…

Four years ago, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on the hit baking show, Operation Cake. Her ingenious, colorful creations captivated viewers and intrigued all but one of the judges, Dominic De Vere, the hottest pastry chef in London. When her glittery unicorn cake went spectacularly sideways, Dominic was quick to vote her off the show. Since then, Sylvie has managed to use her fame to help fulfill her dream of opening a bakery, Sugar Fair. The toast of Instagram, Sugar Fair has captured the attention of the Operation Cake producers…and a princess.

Set…

Dominic is His Majesty the King’s favorite baker, the go-to for sweet-toothed A-List celebrities, and a veritable British institution. He’s brilliant, talented, hard-working. And an icy, starchy grouch. Learning that the irksome Sylvie will be joining him on the Operation Cake judging panel is enough to make the famously dour baker even more grim. Her fantastical baking is only slightly more troublesome than the fact that he can’t stop thinking about her pink-streaked hair and irrepressible dimple.

Match…

When Dominic and Sylvie learn they will be fighting for the once in a lifetime opportunity to bake a cake for the upcoming wedding of Princess Rose, the flour begins to fly as they’re both determined to come out on top.

The bride adores Sylvie’s quirky style. The palace wants Dominic’s classic perfection.

In this royal battle, can there be room for two?
 

Living Beyond Borders edited by Margarita Longoria | August 17, 2021

Twenty stand-alone short stories, essays, poems, and more from celebrated and award-winning authors make up this YA anthology that explores the Mexican American experience. With works by Francisco X. Stork, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, David Bowles, Rubén Degollado, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Diana López, Xavier Garza, Trinidad Gonzales, Alex Temblador, Aida Salazar, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Sylvia Sanchez Garza, Dominic Carrillo, Angela Cervantes, Carolyn Dee Flores, René Saldaña Jr., Laura Perez, Justine Narro, Daniel García Ordáz, and Anna Meriano.

In this mixed-media collection of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and comics, this celebrated group of authors share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate as Mexican American. Living Beyond Borders is at once an eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and hopeful love letter from the Mexican American community to today’s young readers.

Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis | August 19, 2021

What if you fell in love…

… and then he disappeared?

When Noelle and Sam’s lives collide one snowy evening, they spend eight perfect hours stuck side by side believing that they’ll never see each other again.

But soon their lives become entangled in ways they never expected – and it’s going to change everything…

The Second Rebel by Linden A. Lewis | August 24, 2021

The following synopsis is for a sequel so beware of spoilers!

Linden A. Lewis returns with this next installment of The First Sister Trilogy, perfect for fans of Red Rising, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Expanse.

Astrid has reclaimed her name and her voice, and now seeks to bring down the Sisterhood from within. Throwing herself into the lioness’ den, Astrid must confront and challenge the Aunts who run the Gean religious institution, but she quickly discovers that the business of politics is far deadlier than she ever expected.

Meanwhile, on an outlaw colony station deep in space, Hiro val Akira seeks to bring a dangerous ally into the rebellion. Whispers of a digital woman fuel Hiro’s search, but they are not the only person looking for this link to the mysterious race of Synthetics.

Lito sol Lucious continues to grow into his role as a lead revolutionary and is tasked with rescuing an Aster operative from deep within an Icarii prison. With danger around every corner, Lito, his partner Ofiera, and the newly freed operative must flee in order to keep dangerous secrets out of enemy hands.

Back on Venus, Lito’s sister Lucinia must carry on after her brother’s disappearance and accusation of treason by Icarii authorities. Despite being under the thumb of Souji val Akira, Lucinia manages to keep her nose clean…that is until an Aster revolutionary shows up with news about her brother’s fate, and an opportunity to join the fight.

Bombshell by Sarah MacLean | August 24, 2021

New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean returns with a blazingly sexy, unapologetically feminist new series, Hell’s Belles, beginning with a bold, bombshell of a heroine, able to dispose of a scoundrel—or seduce one—in a single night.

After years of living as London’s brightest scandal, Lady Sesily Talbot has embraced the reputation and the freedom that comes with the title. No one looks twice when she lures a gentleman into the dark gardens beyond a Mayfair ballroom…and no one realizes those trysts are not what they seem.

No one, that is, but Caleb Calhoun, who has spent years trying not to notice his best friend’s beautiful, brash, brilliant sister. If you ask him, he’s been a saint about it, considering the way she looks at him…and the way she talks to him…and the way she’d felt in his arms during their one ill-advised kiss.

Except someone has to keep Sesily from tumbling into trouble during her dangerous late-night escapades, and maybe close proximity is exactly what Caleb needs to get this infuriating, outrageous woman out of his system. But now Caleb is the one in trouble, because he’s fast realizing that Sesily isn’t for forgetting…she’s forever. And forever isn’t something he can risk. 

Uncharted by Adriana Anders | August 24, 2021

Hotshot pilot Leo Eddowes is afraid of nothing and no one. So when she’s asked to evacuate a man from the wilds of Alaska, she doesn’t hesitate. But with enemies in close pursuit and the weather turning sour, what should have been a simple mission quickly shifts to disaster.

And there’s only one way out.

When Elias Thorne disappeared, he was America’s most wanted. Now he’s spent more than a decade in one of the most remote places on earth, guarding a dangerous secret. Leo’s arrival, quickly followed by a team of expert hunters, leaves him no choice but to join forces with her—and run. Neither is prepared for their reluctant partnership to flare into something as wild and untamed as the frozen world around them…but as desperately cold days melt into scorchingly hot nights, Leo and Elias must learn to dig deep, trust in each other, and forge a bond as strong as the forces of nature.

Stranded together in a frozen wilderness,
There’s nowhere left to run…

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang | August 31, 2021

A woman struggling with burnout learns to embrace the unexpected—and the man she enlists to help her—in this heartfelt new romance by USA Today bestselling author Helen Hoang.

When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand herself. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.


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

THE STAND-IN by Lily Chu 🎧

How to upend your life:
-Get fired by gross, handsy boss
-Fail to do laundry (again)
-Be mistaken for famous Chinese actress
-Fall head-first into glitzy new world

Gracie Reed is doing just fine. Sure, she was fired by her overly “friendly” boss, and yes, she still hasn’t gotten her mother into the nursing home of their dreams, but she’s healthy, she’s (somewhat) happy, and she’s (mostly) holding it all together.

But when a mysterious SUV pulls up beside her, revealing Chinese cinema’s golden couple Wei Fangli and Sam Yao, Gracie’s world is turned on its head. The famous actress has a proposition: Due to their uncanny resemblance, Fangli wants Gracie to be her stand-in. The catch? Gracie will have to be escorted by Sam, the most attractive – and infuriating – man Gracie’s ever met.

If it means getting the money she needs for her mother, Gracie’s in. Soon Gracie moves into a world of luxury she never knew existed. But resisting Sam, and playing the role of an elegant movie star, proves more difficult than she ever imagined – especially when she learns the real reason Fangli so desperately needs her help. In the end, all the lists in the world won’t be able to help Gracie keep up this elaborate ruse without losing herself…and her heart. 


Title : The Stand-In
Author : Lily Chu
Narrators : Phillipa Soo
Format : Audiobook
Length : 10 hours, 55 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Audible Original
Release Date : July 15, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Sweet and engaging
Funny moments
Fake relationship

The Stand-In brought such a fresh and sweet romance orientated around a fake relationship but it wasn’t as straight forward as that sounds. The three people involved (Gracie, Sam and Fangli) really grew into three characters I felt totally invested in, especially Gracie. This grudging period these three navigated together was mostly light but it did bring some deeper themes of mental illness and physical illness.

Sam really grew on me from the arrogant, judgemental guy to the one willing to listen and be supportive. I loved seeing Gracie challenge his prejudicial views on her mixed cultural heritage. The whole stand-in storyline was fun and delightful.

This audio came with an almighty twist that I didn’t see coming. Major writing props for that! It truly finished this story in place where it felt like more than the average contemporary romance.

The narration was single POV and the narration captured all the characters and dialogue well. It brought the story perfectly to life.

Thank you to Audible for the early listening copy.

53 LETTERS FOR MY LOVER by Leylah Attar

This is not your typical love story. 
It’s not so black and white. Lines are crossed. 
Walls are smashed. Good becomes bad. 
Bad becomes very, very good.

Shayda Hijazi—the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect daughter. For thirty-three years, she has played by the rules, swallowing secrets, burying dreams and doing whatever it takes to anchor her family. Shayda Hijazi is about to come face to face with the one thing that can rip it all apart, the one thing her heart has always been denied: Love.

Troy Heathgate—untamed, exhilarating, dangerous—a man who does exactly as he pleases. Life bends to his will. Until he comes across the one thing he would give it all up for, but can never have.

Born on the same day in opposite corners of the world, their lives collide. And nothing is ever the same again. 

Spanning three decades, 53 Letters for My Lover is a fiercely sensual, emotional ride to the heart of an epic, forbidden love that defies it all—an intimate exploration of love, loyalty, passion, betrayal, and the human journey for hope, happiness and redemption.


Title : 53 Letters For My Lover
Author : Leylah Attar
Series : 53 Letters For My Lover (book one)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 398
Genre : romance
Publisher : Pitch73 Publishing
Release Date : June 17, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Micky has been waiting for me to read this since 2015.. this probably isn’t how she expected to be repaid by me finally reading it.

As usual I did not have any real clue what this was about before going into it so suffice it to say I was immediately off balance by this story because it seemed to be setting up a cheating plotline. Additionally when we first meet the love interest, he isn’t put in a very flattering light. And I wonder if this was done on purpose. I’m sure the author knew she would have to make this convincing for her readers and we had to be right alongside the MC with fighting off our desire for this connection, this affair. I can appreciate that in hindsight. But it made my early enjoyment pretty low.

Strangely, I was won over. Not always. I found some elements of this story to be a little all over the place, including some of the character behaviours, almost as if scenes from something else had been spliced in to an existing manuscript. But then.. I was totally pulled under by the sheer loveliness of some of this; the irresistible connection. The love. Also? It was smoking hot. I feel like we don’t get sex scenes like this anymore? 2014, you were something else. Come back, I miss you.

So, yes, a little bit of a mixed bag. I’m so glad I finally read this; mostly because I’m cashing in a very overdue promise but also because the good? Was very good. Obviously this won’t be for everyone but honestly if not for the recommendation, and had I actually known the plot, I probably wouldn’t have ever picked it up.

Also, as a bonus for my fellow Canucks, this is set in Toronto. And while it doesn’t go overboard with sight seeing or references, it was still fun to see little name drops and occasionally be able to picture where a scene was unfolding.

Also also? Make sure you read the novella that follows this. I won’t be reviewing it for the blog but it’s required reading for sure.

IS THIS IT? by Hannah Tovey

-Employed (you have frequent nightmares about your job)
-Single and fabulous (swiping Tinder in your pyjamas while your best friend shops for engagement rings)
-Thriving (surviving)

Ivy and Mia have been best friends since the fun, messy, hungover years of their twenties.

Ten years later, Mia has it all – the man, the house, the career. Ivy is skint, single, and scared that she isn’t a ‘hot mess’ any more – she’s a walking disaster.

But one night, Ivy switches her phone off, peels last night’s drunken pizza off the sofa, and makes a list. A list that changes everything . . .

The new Ivy has a proper job. She goes on fancy dates in wine bars. She’s starting to think: maybe ‘faking it till you make it’ is easy?

But then she meets Scott.

Curly-haired, sarcastic Scott.

Sh*t.


Title : Is This It?
Author : Hannah Tovey
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus Books
Release Date : July 22, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Witty & Welsh
Finally getting your act together
New beginnings

Is This It continued the story of Ivy from The Education of Ivy Edwards but you could totally read this as a standalone. That said, the Ivy in this story was an Ivy I could identify with more and I loved seeing her journey here. I felt that new attitude in Ivy from the first few pages and the story pulled me in really quickly.

Ivy hadn’t changed completely but she had realised she needed a direction, a focus and she was determined. This really was a story of your life can be in the gutter for some time, but it is possible and believeable to find a way out. This book was full of positivity alongside the occasional typical Ivy high jinks.

There were a range of other characters I loved in this book but none more than Scott, Anna and Eleanor (with an honourable mention for Mr Reid). Scott saw that spark in Ivy that seemed hidden in the previous book and he helped her shine, I loved these two but they did put me through some angst (but I secretly loved it). Anna and Eleanor were such an important part of this story and I really liked the sisterly closeness and the complete unreserved love Ivy had for Eleanor. I thoroughly disliked Ivy’s mother and her cruel comments to her daughters.

Ivy’s education and job journey really drew me in and I thought how she blossomed was quite special. The kids were hilarious and Ivy really was made for the profession.

I think Is This It was made more of a sweet experience because of the hard won journey from book one. I could read about Ivy again!

Thank you to Piatkus Books for the finished review copy.

LORE & LUST by Karla Nikole

The slow burn vampire romance you didn’t know you needed…

Haruka Hirano is alive, but not quite living. Surviving but not thriving. As an elite purebred vampire in the twenty-first century, he is broken. Content in his subpar existence.

He is done with life. But life is not finished with him.

When he receives a formal request to oversee an antiquated vampire ritual at Hertsmonceux Castle, Haruka grudgingly leaves his home to meet another purebred. The vampire is not what he expects. Truly, he is unlike any vampire Haruka has ever encountered: cautious, innocent and with the warmth and gravitational pull of the sun.

Lore and Lust is an exploration of cultures, contemporary society and romance. It puts a whimsical spin on traditional vampire lore, while also creating a vivid new world where love is love. No questions asked.


Title : Lore & Lust
Author : Karla Nikole
Series : Lore & Lust (book one)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 284
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Karla Nikole Publishing
Release Date : October 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Surprising no one, I have disappointed buddies once again by not being able to love a non-recommendation (they don’t recommend books to me anymore, this is my fault, not theirs). To be fair, I think I expected something very different from this because despite of the title, and because of what many of us have grown accustomed to with vampires/paranormal plots. So, heads up : this is very slow moving and more sweet than angsty and violent or dark.

This actually gave me some All Souls series vibes as one of the plot points surrounds this document one of the main characters has in his possession which details accounts and records of vampires who have bonded (mated, for context) and the circumstances around that. And some random vampire suddenly seems really keen to get his hands on it. But that’s likely where the comparison stops. However it also gave me Mortal & Divine series vibes with some of the formality in both customs and speech, not to mention the fact that there’s aristocracy and clans with these particular vampires, but, again, that’s where that comparison stops, too.

It’s definitely a unique take on vampires as a culture, sort’ve in line with Regency era behaviours, except also.. not. Because these vampires are almost all exhaustingly useless and rude and entitled but simultaneously thirsty (and not just literally) AF. And I found most of them hard to endure. Some of which, in a different sense, spilled over onto one of the main characters, Haruka. I could sorta feel bad for what he had gone through, how insufferably he was constantly treated by others (which I mean.. I still feel like I didn’t get a good handle on the why behind this? was it just snowflake syndrome and he was just All That? still not clear). But the only character I actually liked was our other lead, Nino.

Aspects of this world was interesting, how the vampires mingled (or didn’t) with humans, how apparently they are not apart but worked into knowledge and existence (again, not a hundred percent clear on this, either), and the whole bloodline thing. But was I liking anything? Not really. Did anything really happen? Also not really. This was pretty slow, both in plot — of which there is no action only weird discussions about art and politics? these vampires are so weird — and also in romance, but we do at least get some satisfaction on the latter before the end of this instalment.

I struggled a bit with the writing, too, and how descriptors were constantly repeated and used as reference to people; male, dark, male, dark, etc. In addition the tense this was written in (third person present) just kept throwing me out of the story; and considering I struggled to connect to begin with, and then stay connected, it just all added to being checked out.

Overall, though? This just wasn’t what I thought it was and while the second half was easier to chew through than the first, I can’t claim to be a fan. But once my fellow buddy reader (hi buddy!) catches up, I’ll be reading on. Hopefully book two offers something more exciting; but if not at least I’m prepared for it.

FALLING by T.J. Newman 🎧

You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.


Title : Falling
Author : T.J. Newman
Narrators : Steven Weber
Format : Audiobook
Length : 8 hours, 26 minutes
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date : July 6, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Fast-paced
Two tandem/linked stories
Won’t put you off flying

I’m giving this book 4 stars as much for the sweeping audio experience and the storyline in general. I think audio was the right format for this thriller for me, it felt like watching a really great disaster movie.

The story was fast-paced following a hostage situation and a plane situation. All focus was on Bill the pilot and Jo the head steward. These two characters really made the story but in addition, so did the whole air steward crew.

The baddies of the piece weren’t always obvious and I enjoyed the twists we got along the way. The backdrop for why all this happened was an interesting piece of contemporary political history that feels less explored in thrillers.

This was a ride and I sure enjoyed, punching through this in a few days, wishing myself back to the audiobook.

Thank you to LibroFM & Simon and Schuster Audio for the review copy.

https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781797128221-falling

ISN’T IT BROMANTIC? by Lyssa Kay Adams

With his passion for romance novels, it was only a matter of time before Vlad took up the pen to write a novel the Bromance Book Club would swoon over.

He’s ready to create his own sweeping romance – both on and off the page.

Elena Konnikova has lived her entire adult life in the shadows. As the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared, she escaped danger the only way she knew how. She agreed to marry her childhood friend, Vladimir, and move to the United States, where he is a professional hockey player in Nashville.

Vlad, aka The Russian, thought he could be content with his marriage of convenience. But it’s become too difficult to continue in a one-sided relationship. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more.

The Bros are unwilling to let Vlad forgo true love – and this time they’re not operating solo, joining forces with Vlad’s senior citizen neighbours, a group of meddling widows who call themselves The Loners. But just when things finally look promising, the danger from Elena’s past life intrudes. Now the book club face their first-ever life-or-death grand gesture as they race to a happy ever after.


Title : Isn’t It Bromantic?
Author : Lyssa Kay Adams
Series : Bromance Book Club #4
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Headline Eternal
Release Date : July 20, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Second chances
All the good guy vibes
Dr Doolittle

Vlad ‘The Russian’ story has been long awaited and this installment of the series was fun, sweet and warm. For those wondering, the gluten allergy was under control and toilets weren’t a big feature of this story. What was a big thing of this story was Vlad’s marriage of convenience to Elena and how that evolved.

Vlad finally had a dose of the Bromance Book Club and the twist to the book in this one was pretty great; I’d definitely read Promise Me. I really enjoyed getting to know Vlad’s personality, his warmth, his integrity and affinity to animals. He really was the kind of good guy I love to read about.

Elena was a complex and restrained character but she did open up. The banter and dialogue was en pointe in this book, just as I have come to expect from this series. I would share some quotes but most are pretty hilariously double entendre. Friendships are always a theme in this series and I’m wholly entertained by the guys but I have to say the women stole the friendship stakes in this one. Claud was particularly funny.

I do hope there’s more to come of this series because I’m not tired of it yet.

Thank you to Headline Eternal for the early review copy.

THE SOULMATE EQUATION by Christina Lauren

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands. At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess–who is barely making ends meet–is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist–and the science behind a soulmate–than she thought.


Title : The Soulmate Equation
Author : Christina Lauren
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 365
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Gallery Books
Release Date : May 18, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I have been so disappointed by the last handful of CLo novels so I guess it was about time my luck changed.

I saw a lot of early buzz and excitement for this release but I expected nothing less. What intrigued me was seeing the same excitement from other often-disappointed CLo fans. That made me sit up and take notice.

It’s so hard for me to be inspired to pick up a book during the working week and yet I sat down the same night my library hold came in and I d e v o u r e d the whole thing. It made me laugh. It made me soft. It maybe even made me tear up once.

Is the premise of this book a little outlandish? Yes (if it’s based in real science pls insert my apologies here but I suspect not). Did some elements of the romance veer a little too quickly into the all-systems-go lane once the hook had taken over, particularly after the way their previous interactions had gone? Yes. Did I hate the financial conflicts with the MC’s mother? A thousand times yes (this kind of plot is a huge issue for me in general though so I didn’t expect anything different). So, is it perfect? No. But I had such a great time.

There’s a core group of supporting characters that are funny and charming and lovely, the reluctant connection between humans who don’t seem to click, or are so different, as a base for the romance is always (often) a hit, and I was definitely feeling the chemistry even in this lower range of heat we’ve come to expect from the new CLo books. Though I do think maybe there was more going on this time than there has been. Coincidence? I think not.

Suffice it to say I had a really good time and while I will not hold out hope that this trend will remain true with what’s to come from this duo, there’s a reason I keep picking these authors up. When they are good, they are good.

A DOWRY OF BLOOD by S.T. Gibson

A lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides, A DOWRY OF BLOOD is a story of desire, obsession, and emancipation. 

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets. 

With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death. 


Title : A Dowry of Blood
Author : S.T. Gibson
Format : eBook
Page Count : 248
Genre : historical fiction fantasy
Publisher : Nyx Publishing
Release Date : January 31, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Maybe had I not been disliking so much of what I have been reading this wouldn’t have been as memorable. Or maybe it just is that good. I can’t tell anymore.

I should have paid more attention to the convenience with which you arrived. There are no angels in this world to accompany the dying in their final moments, only pickpockets and carrion birds.

A Dowry of Blood is a sorta epistolary/memoir-style recounting of what basically amounts to the brides of Dracula, even though she never names him, and their undead lives over the course of centuries. Much like the first bride, Constanta, I was enthralled. Not only in the story but how it was told.

This isn’t very long, there are passages of time we only get vague explanations for, but the retelling of events centers around three specific brides, and how the arrival of each changed the dynamic of Constanta’s relationship and inevitably led to its downfall; by unmasking the abuse hidden just below the surface of a suffocating love used as an excuse for control. Each bride responds to it differently and I thought the author’s choices in this regard were so well done.

It’s not only all that and a bag of chips but it’s also sapphic, it’s also queer, and it’s almost novella-like. The winning just doesn’t quit.

Definitely recommend if this seems like your jam.