I’m (Micky) the kind of reader that occasionally flits in and out of a KU subscription, sometimes a complimentary 3 months (lets have more of this please). Along the way I’ve found some great reads that are mostly in the romance genre and some quick, hot, reads. I make no excuses for the quick, hot reads, sometimes that’s the flavour your mood requires. I’ve also found some fails; which aren’t included in this post.
This KU list relates to what I’ve read on UK Amazon and so there may be some regional variability. Also if you come to this post a little late, titles do move in and out of the KU subscription according to the author’s preference.
Game of Thrones meets Gladiator in this debut epic fantasy about a world caught in an eternal war, and the young man who will become his people’s only hope for survival.
The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.
Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.
Title : The Rage of Dragons Author : Evan Winter Series : The Burning (book one) Format : eARC Page Count : 544 Genre : adult fantasy Publisher : Orbit Release Date : July 16, 2019
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★ ★
Hollis’ 3 star review
If the pitch of Gladiator meets GAME OF THRONES drew you in, you’ll probably be very happy with THE RAGE OF DRAGONS. Because in addition to those things, it’s also as not-white as you can possibly be. This is a world that I guess would be the fantasy version of Africa, or fantasy-inspired version, and the “savage” people are no less dark than the “Chosen” people.
This is a pretty long book, clocking in at almost five hundred and fifty pages, but if you love battle scenes, or long arduous periods of training, you probably won’t notice the passing of time. There’s a whole lot of worldbuilding that we don’t really get at the beginning, though we definitely get some, and that Winter actually sprinkles in along the way and, surprisingly, this worked really well for me. It’s not overly complicated but there are complexities to this world and I found easing us into it made it much easier to digest.
“You won’t help your people if you don’t know your place.” “I don’t think I like the place they’ve set for me.” “It’s based on what you are.” “They don’t know what I am.”
Think RED RISING, if you’re familiar with that series, as far as this caste system goes. There are Lessers, and Nobles, full bloods and not, and then Gifted. Crammed in there are also various rankings of military people, too. Also similar to RED RISING, Tau, our lead character and the main POV (we do get brief chapter interludes with three other characters, I believe, but they are single-shot snapshots), is very much like Darrow, like all lower-born men who rise to become more, or to represent more. There’s also shades of The Princess Bride as he does get a little Inigo Montoya along the way.. (+10 points if you understood that reference). But don’t get it twisted, this isn’t an African RED RISING, there’s so much of this world that stands alone. There’s a spirit world at play, demons, and, of course, the dragons.
Despite how long this book is, I won’t say that it felt long until.. the sixty percent mark. By this point it was all Revenge Time, all the time. And the training and battle scenes (though maybe more the training than the battle) were, well, proving a point. The time was definitely taken to show Tau becoming better, stronger, faster. I think this is a hard balance to maintain; too short and it’s not believable, too long and it can get boring. I wouldn’t have minded a few time jumps with convenient flashback or summary paragraphs though..
That said, when I was reading it, I was invested. But if I put it down, I never thought about it or felt any burning desire to pick it up. It’s good but I would say the weakness, beyond the drawn out moments, was definitely the dialogue. It felt either kind of cheese or just weak. The storytelling, though, felt pretty solid which, thankfully, helped to bolster some of those moments where I side-eyed the words coming out of the characters’ mouths.
Overall I was surprised by one or two characters along the way, grew to enjoy some of the others (not Tau but that’s mostly because I think he’s the driving force, the change, not so much a personality) but the plot itself didn’t wow me or blow my mind. I will still read on in the series because I think there’s a lot of backstory and worldbuilding to explore, and I have questions about what happened prior to the opening chapter of the book that started everything that lead to this particular place and time. I think, ultimately, I’m hoping for more GAME OF THRONES plot twists and less playing-with-swords or ruminating-on-my-revenge montages. Fingers crossed for that!
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
I’ve just had the emergency breaks go off in my head because (using my shouty voice)…we have a new Leylah Attar book coming. I am a huge Leylah Attar fan and often roar about books such as 53 Letters for my Lover and Mists of the Serengeti. So, I can’t stow my excitement about Moti on the Water. I am here and I am ready. Are you ready to hear all about it and see the new cover? Come tell us what you think and if you’re as excited as me, I don’t like to be idiotically squeeing alone!
Moti on the Water, an all-new summer must read from New York Times bestselling author Leylah Attar is coming August 13th and we have the amazing cover!
A Greek family. An Indian family. A summer wedding on the Aegean coast…
Meet Moti Ferreira—spectacularly jinxed from the day she’s born.
Saddled with an eccentric mother, she stumbles upon the one man who holds the key to her freedom—the best man at her cousin’s upcoming wedding.
All Moti has to do is overcome her fear of water, board a yacht to the Greek Isles, seduce the dreamy Nikos Manolas, and survive two weeks at sea with her oddball family.
The only obstacle Moti doesn’t see coming is Alexandros Veronis, the onboard chef and star witness to her awkward mishaps. He transforms onions into chocolate and aroma into nostalgia. Day by day, his alchemy works its magic on Moti. But she’s not the only one falling under his spell. Everyone has a secret, growing round and ripe at Chef Alex’s table. When the masks fall off, they spill out one by one, and everything blows up in their faces.
Now Moti’s truth is exposed, and worse, she’s hooked on more than Alex’s midnight snacks. But this time, screwing up could be the best thing she’s ever done…
Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime. For what the two discover on the Riviera and during a sultry evening in Rome is the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.
The psychological maneuvers that accompany attraction have seldom been more shrewdly captured than in André Aciman’s frank, unsentimental, heartrending elegy to…
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.
RAGE OF DRAGONS by Evan Winter is Gladiator meets GAME OF THRONES and if that isn’t a hook, what is? This is a series opener that promises so much more to come and I’m excited to see where it goes! Look for Hollis’ review tomorrow.
THE WEDDING PARTY by Jasmine Guillory is an interesting proposition of a best friend in the middle of two other friends who hate one another. The kind of hate that turns into a mistaken one night. The two frenemies, Maddie and Theo, have to get ready for their mutual best friend’s wedding and it sounds like shennanigans ensue. I might give this one a go.
Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!
One dark and handsome control-freak sports star meets one smarty pants bioengineer with hair to match her fiery temper. It’s an experiment straight out of sexual thermodynamics.
Every good scientist knows the second law of thermodynamics: the universe’s disorder, entropy, is always increasing. Professionally and personally speaking, Nairne’s familiar with the principle. After a streak of costly fame, now she’s set on saving the world, microscope in hand, and there’s no time for romance. Problem is, when a rude, despicably sexy Adonis shows up to run their board meeting, chemistry and its ensuing chaos become more than a formula—now they’re a burning hot reality.
Mafia prince. Professional footballer. Bad boy demeanor and a reputation for being as talented between the sheets as he is on the pitch. Rumors are the man’s an absolute brute. And he turns out to be just as demanding, controlling and vicious in person as he is on paper. The Law of Attraction’s proven true, as Nairne finds herself accepting Zed’s proposal: rough, wild stress release, more orgasms than she can count, and most importantly—no falling in love.
Agreement in place. End date secured. No attachments. No forever.What could possibly go wrong?
Title : He’s a Brute Author: Chloe Liese Series : Tough Love #1 Format : e-ARC Page Count : 263 Genre : Contemporary Romance Publisher : Indie Release Date : May 6, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating: ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 3 star review
HE’S A BRUTE was a cover love, blurb appealing arc click. There’s a lot going on in this contemporary romance with a slice of the erotic. It’s a tale of two very strong MC’s who were multi-talented. Zed is a background mafia boss-second, professional footballer (soccer, you American guys!) and lead of an ethically sound organisation; he was something of a contradiction to himself. Nairne was an ex-pro footballer, a scientist and she battling some pretty heavy baggage. I felt like there was almost a bit too much going on with these characters.
The two clashed with strong personalities and there was a tangible attraction between them but despite this, I didn’t always feel their connection. What ensues between these two was a contract, some dominance and submission which really isn’t my bag, but it was fairly mild. I didn’t always buy Nairne’s ability to submit to Zeb. I found Zeb’s desire to care of Nairne controlling despite his arguments to Nairne about this actual issue and so I didn’t feel that attached to them as a couple.
This book has the most amazing disability rep, truly fabulous. I loved the way the sexuality of this character was written with this in mind. Their sexual relationship wasn’t hindered by the disability but it was totally interwoven into what they did and how they did it. Total kudos to the author for this. This aspect of the book is part of why I am still interested in reading more from this series.
I didn’t always love the writing style of this book and I found the intimate scenes weren’t that interesting. HE’S A BRUTE was a debut and the story of Zeb and Nairne will continue across two more books. This isn’t an abrupt end but I do find I want to know more about these two and I will probably read on with these characters. Book two is out now, with book three to come.
Thank you to netgalley and the author this review copy.
The heart-rending and inspiring novel from the critically acclaimed author of NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST.
How can you have a future if you can’t accept your past? Mel Hannigan doesn’t have it easy. Mourning the death of her firework of a brother, trying to fit back into a school she’s been conspicuously absent from and struggling to deal with the loss of three friendships that used to mean everything. Struggling to deal with a condition that not even her closest friends know about.
So Mel tries to lock away her heart, to numb the highs and lows, to live quietly without hope – but also without pain. Until someone new shows her that it can be worth taking a risk, that opening up to life is what can make it glorious…
And that maybe, Mel can discover a tragic kind of wonderful of her very own.
Title : A Tragic Kind of Wonderful Author : Eric Lindstrom Format : Hardback Page Count : 346 Genre : YA contemporary Publisher : Harper Collins Release Date : December 29, 2016
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I’m trying to stow my gush a little but it is not easy. This book was a stunning and memorable read, delivering on a contemporary YA story with the best mental health representation I’ve read in a long time.
Mel has been through stuff, bigger stuff than most teens her age (16-17) have been through, losses, divorce and relocation. Oh yes, and getting to grips with diagnosis of a significant mental illness. Mel was a self-aware and strong teen, at least on the surface. She was endearing in her flaws and had a unique way to track her illness and moods. Each chapter begun with an mind-body-heart-overall update and it was so well thought out.
“I’m a different kind of mixed. Miserable and serene. Heaven and hell are the same place.”
Over this book I felt like I really got to know Mel, I wandered not only into her world but also into her mind and with that I felt sadness, frustration and compassion. The story isn’t all heavy-heavy, there’s plenty of lightness, especially in the first half. Friendships were a key factor in Mel’s mental compass and well-being, when they were right, she did okay but when things went wrong, life got more complex to navigate. Friendships from the past and those from the present had a direct impact on Mel’s life and I really enjoyed the slow unpeeling of where and how things with Annie, Zumi and Connor unravelled. I simply felt everything; it was very raw in the last third.
Another strength of this book was the family context. HJ, her mum, her brother and to a lesser extent, her dad brought such depth to Mel’s character and life. David was a friend to Mel and there was a low-level romance in this book that has the back-seat but is quite beautiful.
I don’t know why I hadn’t read this book before considering my love for his previous book NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST. Therefore, it’s no surprise to me that this book blew me away. Eric Lindstrom dealt with this particular mental disorder with thorough research. He addressed labelling, disclosure of diagnosis and I am in awe of the way he depicted life through Mel’s lens.
“You’re not [disorder name], Mel. You have [disorder name]. You also have vibrant blue eyes, a wonderful personality, a tendency to undervalue yourself, and many, many other things. None of those things are you.”
Thank you Amazon vine and the publisher for this gifted title.
For today’s blogchat, we thought it would be fun to give you a fuller flavour of when our differences in books have been stark; so much so, it’s been so funny it hurts. We like the same books often, we love the same books sometimes, but when we are opposites on books we have the most interesting conversations. We have never been annoyed that the other doesn’t enjoy a beloved book; there may be a moment’s disappointment but we usually have a fun discussion.
WARNING, NO FEELINGS WERE HURT IN THE MAKING OF THIS BLOG POST.
This is a post for the readers and not authors. Not a moment’s disrespect meant to any author mentioned in this post. Because isn’t it just part of life that we don’t like the same things? If a book isn’t for me, that’s not to say it’s not a good book or not written well — maybe it’s just not my kind of thing. Both of us have a Goodreads shelf for this – baa baa black sheep!
THE GREAT ALONE by Kristin Hannah — Micky gave it 5 stars | Hollis couldn’t deal, left it unrated FOOLISH HEARTS by Emma Mills — Hollis (5 star) loved this | Micky gave it ashrug emoji(2 star) AYESHA AT LAST by Uzma Jallaluddin — Micky (5 star) loved this | Hollis (2 star) tolerated REAL by Katy Evans — Micky 5 starred (and reread!) this one | Hollis gave it a generous 2 ALEX, APPROXIMATELY by Jenn Bennett — Hollis shouted her 5 from the rooftops | Micky 3 star didn’t hate it SERIOUS MOONLIGHT by Jenn Bennett — Micky (4 stars) thought it super cute | Hollis (3 stars) wanted more THE PERFECT FIND by Tia Williams — Micky (4 stars) laughed her way through | Hollis tapped out at 9% (unrated) THE OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS by Justin A Reynolds — Hollis (4 stars) loved how this was told | Micky (2 stars) thought it was too repetitive MISTER WESTON (formerly TURBULENCE) by Whitney G — Micky (5 star) was absorbed af | Hollis (1 star) couldn’t even finish ACHE FOR YOU by JT Geissinger — Micky (5 star)lost herself in this read | Hollis (2 stars)rounded up WHITNEY, MY LOVE by Judith McNaught — Hollis gave4 stars for the great parts that were great | Micky has some PTSD for this 2 star read BEARTOWN by Fredrik Backman — Hollis (5 star) was enthralled by this complex story | Micky (1 star) couldn’t understand why A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN by Sarah J Maas — Micky (4 stars) can’t wait for more | Hollis (2 stars) was just glad it was over THE BOY AND HIS RIBBON by Pepper Winters — Micky (4 star) found it addictive despite some of the plot elements | Hollis (1 star) barely clung to her sanity THE TAKEOVER EFFECT by Nisha Sharma — Micky‘s 4 star hopes were realized | Hollis‘hopes were 1.5 star unrealized
So here we are in our opposites glory, our ratings bared for your perusal. Does this resonate with you? Do you find it uncomfortable to be in opposition rating-wise with your book buddies?
There is a sequel post to come. Watch out for SHE SAID, SHE SAID… #2 MAGNETS where we show our glowy similarities.
The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?
Nina considers her options. 1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.) 2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee). 3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)
It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.
Title : The Bookish Life of Nina Hill Author : Abbi Waxman Format : eARC Page Count : 352 Genre : women’s fiction, contemporary Publisher : Berkley Release Date : July 9, 2019
As Neil Gaiman once memorably said, “books were safer than other people, anyway.”
THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL has an adorable cover, a ridiculously appealing plot, and overall seemed to cater directly to my interests and needs. I mean, it’s about a bookish woman who likes being alone, has a cat, and works in a bookstore (to which I say #goals), so, I mean, this was ringing all my bells and checking all my boxes.
In public Nina was a quiet, reserved person; in private she was an all-singing, all-dancing cavalcade of light and motion. Unless she was a quivering ball of anxiety, because that was also a frequently selected option.
And for the first 50%, I was convinced this would be a strong, even high, four star read. Nina is quirky and organized, anxious and intelligent, sassy and shy, also a total snob (which I can’t say I loved but it felt authentic), and just.. relatable. I could see myself in her, the good and the bad, and yet it wasn’t the painful kind of self-reflection, or too campy and therefore cheesy or caricature-like. The narration was witty and fun and was constantly throwing random trivia and stream-of-consciousness tangents at you and I was having a great time.
It’s hard to be human sometimes, with the pressure to be civilized lying only very thinly over a brain of a nervous little mammal.
Nina had a maybe hate-crush on a member of an opposing trivia team, she voiced her cat, Phil’s, thoughts, and suddenly, after being a single-parent child her whole life, a lawyer pops out of nowhere and drops a dead dad on her. In the sense that she’s inherited a family and possibly something else, too, but she’ll need to go to the will reading to find out.
“Do you young people actually date anymore, or do you run algorithms to see if it’s going to work?”
And so begins this really strange and charming discovery of this huge extended family, people so like her and also different, and reconciling this found-yet-related mass of people into her world view after thirty-plus years of living and being on her own. Throw in a love interest and it’s all sorts of emotions.
Life can throw you major curveballs, but it’s rare you can do much more than duck.
Most of which were good and fun to work through. Even the confusing ones felt natural. I just think that eventually we did cross a line into a sorta campy OTT strange drama where warring businesses threw ice cream at each other in the streets and some of Nina’s charm kind of wore off and overall, with maybe one or two exceptions, I just wasn’t as fond of the second half as the rest of the book. Some of it felt cliche, after having otherwise felt very fresh and different, and the ending in particular just didn’t land for me.
“Do lesbians do this?” “Send dick pics? Only if we’re breaking up with someone and want to make sure they block our number forever.“
THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL has a lot of great moments — tons of one liners and hilarious observations and I highlighted many many a passage. This book will definitely hook you from the start. I just wish I had loved it the same amount by the end.
** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Micky’s 3.5 star review
This book was full of appeal for any booklover and Nina was a relatable protagonist in terms of her love for books. Nina was quirky, nerdy, anxiety-ridden, something of a loner but she was actually much better with people than she perceived.
THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL had depth and complexity but this was offset by humour, quips and banter. Nina’s inner monologue was insightful into her psyche but also pretty funny at times.
Nina tried to pull herself together. She’d been irritable all week. Either her period was coming or she had a brain tumor, and at that moment the tumorfelt more appealing, which probably meant it was her period.
The story was overwhelmingly about finding family and for Nina this was a first. Her evolving relationships with Archie and Peter were my favourities but I also appreciated Millie and Lydia. The family were almost farciscal in their make up and they were rather fun to watch interact.
There is a lowish-level romance in this book with Tom from a rival quiz team, it made for cute reading but I really did want more from this aspect of the story. I felt somewhat disconnected from their own connection.
There were some pacing issues in this read for me, slow parts leading to more faster-moving scenes. I would have preferred a more active pace throughout the book.
Overall, this was a good read and I think this could be categorised as women’s fiction or romance but again, it was less on the romantic front for that genre.
I voluntarily read an early copy of this book, thank you netgalley and the publisher.
It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.
It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
Title : Wilder Girls Author : Rory Power Format : ARC Page Count : 368 Genre : YA LGBTQ+ dystopian horror Publisher : Delacorte Press Release Date : July 9, 2019
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
Hollis’ 3.5 star review
WILDER GIRLS has left me with oh so many questions. I want so much more from this world. So there better be a second book on the horizon.. and, because I’m not sure there is, that’s why I’m hesitant to round this up to a full four. Because if this is just the end? Part of me is going to be maaaaad.
But on to the story.
There is such a stark, almost hopeless, beauty to this world. A casual kind of horror. A strange, uncertain, weirdness that you just can’t look away from. Oh, and, if any kind of unnatural physical deformations trigger or weird you out, you may not want to read this one.
WILDER GIRLS is a story about this school full of girls quarantined for their own safety — or maybe the safety of the rest of the world, more accurately. It’s been two years since the outbreak and no one has answers. They are barely surviving on the delivery of food they receive and the girls continue to die from Tox flare ups which seem to happen seasonally. But they continue on, they endure. Until Hetty’s best friend disappears.
I knew going into this that the story would have a sapphic romance and I both love and hated it; I loved it because it was complicated and a little messy and I hated it because there wasn’t enough of it because it was complicated and kind of messy. But it was beautiful, too. I wish we had had a bit more character development in Hetty; she was our main POV and I felt I understood her the least, in some ways. But I think, too, we maybe aren’t supposed to know too much about these characters. Not for who they are, but maybe for what they represent?
This is a weird world that feels only half formed, which makes sense because we know so little, but the bits we do discover by the end were really interesting. I just need more because.. where do we go from here? What happens to Hetty and Reese and Byatt? What happens to the world around them?
And then I wonder.. should we just take this story as something more allegorical and focus less on the specifics, and wanting more, and instead just appreciate what this author wants us to take from the story? I suppose that’s up for interpretation, like all things. But I choose to do both. Look at the bigger picture and still want more.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **