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EVERY WORD by Ellie Marney

Sparks fly when Watts follows Mycroft to London in this second steamy thriller about the teen crime-fighting duo.

James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents without saying good-bye to his partner in crime, Rachel Watts.

Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behavior—not that Mycroft’s ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. Unable to resist, Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.

The theft of a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator and the deaths of Mycroft’s parents…Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events—or will she lose him forever?


Title : Every Word
Author : Ellie Marney
Series : Every (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 340
Genre : YA mystery / contemporary / retellings
Publisher : Allen & Unwin
Release Date : June 1, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

As much as I had loved these characters in book one, book two is where Wattscroft took it upon themselves to m u r d e r me. Also, yes, I’m going to thief from my original review a bit, which I didn’t do for the first instalment, because it pretty much sums up my feels to this day.

Every Word is everything that Every Breath was but turned up to eleven. The stakes, the action, the mystery, the scorching heat, the violence, the heartbreak.. everything.

Swoony hearts in eyes expression aside, this book definitely went a bit dark and my stomach fell to my feet multiple times. Not just because of Rachel and Mycroft but because Marney does not pull any punches. The vividness of the autopsy scene, the startling savagery of torture, the isolation; it was just as awful and as real as when our two heroes are stumbling along to understand each other, navigating both their relationship and the horror of Mycroft’s past. And how Marney handled this was just.. fantastic. There were so many things I think I appreciated more this second time around with how she unravelled Mycroft and his processing — or lack thereof. That turning point, once we finally get it, was just (chefs kiss). And the strangeness of how Rachel feels, knowing he has something new, and scarier, to fixate is just.. yeah, really well done.

Knowing what extremes and dangers these two faced, and that not having been the ultimate confrontation, I can only imagine what’s to come next.

THE WOLF AT BAY by Charlie Adhara

Going home digs up bad memories, so it’s something Bureau of Special Investigations agent Cooper Dayton tries to avoid. When he’s guilted into a visit, Cooper brings along Oliver Park, his hot new werewolf partner, in the hopes the trip will help clarify their status as a couple…or not.

When Park’s keen shifter nose uncovers a body in the yard and Cooper’s father is the prime suspect, Cooper knows they’re on their own. Familial involvement means no sanctioned investigation. They’ll need to go rogue and solve the mystery quietly or risk seeing Cooper’s dad put behind bars.

The case may be cold, but Park and Cooper’s relationship heats up as they work. And yet if Cooper can’t figure out what’s going on between them outside of the bedroom, he’ll lose someone he… Well, he can’t quite put into words how he feels about Park. He knows one thing for sure: he’s not ready to say goodbye, though with the real killer inching ever closer…he may not have a choice.


Title : The Wolf at Bay
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 262
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 24, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Once again, I sit here shaking my head a bit. Past me was having such a struggle bus time with Cooper. Current me? J’adore.

Also, this one got me reaaaallly in my feels. Woof.

So book two in this instalment continues the trend of being the least paranormal-paranormal series ever (thus far). While it’s obviously built into the world, but limited to those in the know, it really just is a procedural sprinkled with an extra something-something. And in this case the procedural takes a trip home.

Cooper finds himself bringing Park to visit his family — not as a boyfriend but just as a coworker and partner. But when they discover a body buried on Papa Cooper’s property, well. Suddenly they are the ones under investigation. And it brings all sorts of secrets to light. Whilst simultaneously forcing Cooper to unearth and stare hard at his feelings for Park and what it might mean for their future.

So, yeah, I mentioned feels? There were two big scenes that got me. One was between Cooper and his dad. And the other was between our main men. The hotel scene? Yeah.. you know the one. 

When I think back on this series there are two books that stand out to me : the third and fourth, for two different reasons. The next book is a favourite because it was where, in the past, I had turned the corner and fell absolutely in love with this series. The fourth is because that book is pretty much perfection. So I’m so excited to pick up the third and see whether the reread bumps that one up, too (also, worth noting, I’m pretty sure we meet the star of Adhara’s upcoming spinoff in this third book. So that’s exciting, too!). 

Why I was so stingy or so reluctant to love these back then.. well, yes, again, I know why. Cooper. I’m just so happy it’s not going that way on this second go round. I needed this. 

ALL FOR THE GAMES SERIES WRAP by Nora Sakavic

Micky here, I started the All For The Game series last year but didn’t get past book one. I think it was part trepidation about what was to come and part not being sure what I thought about the series. I also had a pretty strong hatred for one of the MCs (oh naive Micky). Anyway, I finished the series in the last week and here are my feels.

If you don’t know much about the series, I’d frame it this way – new adult age, LGBTQIAP+ characters, a fictional sport called Exy, gangs and hazing. Book one was a brutal read for me and to be honest the difficult content continued throughout the books. I’ve put some content warnings at the bottom of this post.

Here’s the blurb for book one:
Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.


So what are my feelings about the series? They are compelling but gruesome reads. There’s a gang of sports men and women to really get to know, some I loved and some not so much. The affiliations with Japanese mafia-types was a odd fit at first but I did adjust. I never adjusted to some of the difficult themes however, I read with pause, heartache and anger.

I would say each of the books are slow starters, it took me a good 20% to get into the book each time but the author makes what comes afterwards worth it. I’ve been left a little wanting in the finish. My ratings went like this:

The Foxhole Court – 3.5 stars
The Raven King – 3.5-4 stars
The King’s Men – 4 stars (I’m leaving you with my review for the final book below)

Micky’s 4 star review

Slow start building up to almost too tense to handle
Difficult reading
All for Andrew and Neil

Welp, this series has taken me on a journey, from hate to love, experiencing true gang-land evil and witnessing abusive situations that just plain hurt. With all that, you’d think this would be an almighty nope but I have come out of book three with the highest rating of the three books.

Once again Sakavic delivered a slow start to the book, it only truly getting going at 25%, it made me pause on it for a day. Then the pacing went light speed to the worst situation for my beloved Neil. I liked that that part wasn’t at the end of the book and that the story rolled out much further.

Sakavic won me truly round on Andrew and yet…I felt dissatisfied in some ways at where the main relationship was left. I needed and wanted more of particularly Andrew’s emotions. Yes, he’s a cold, closed off ‘hater’ but he isn’t really I don’t think and we didn’t get to see that.

It really is a memorable series especially for its gruesome parts and the roller coaster readers go on with these books.


Content warnings: rape, torture, sexual abuse, physical abuse

THE SET UP by Lizzy Dent

SHE HAS A PLAN . . .
FATE HAS OTHER IDEAS.
—————–

There are two men in my life. But this is not a love triangle.


Mara Williams reads her horoscope every day – but she wasn’t expecting to be in a whole other country when destiny finally found her. Just as a fortune teller reveals that her true love is about to arrive, a gorgeous stranger literally walks into her life. And now Mara is determined to bring them together again . . . Surely even fate needs a nudge in the right direction sometimes?

But while Mara is getting ready for ‘the one’, the universe intervenes. Her new flatmate Ash is funny, and kind, and sexy as hell . . . There was no predicting this: it’s as if her destiny just arrived on her doorstep.

So will Mara put her destiny in fate’s hands – or finally trust herself to reach for the stars?


Title : The Set Up
Author : Lizzy Dent
Format : Physical
Page Count : 320
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Viking Books
Release Date : June 7, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ . 5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Car crash heroine
Setting up ‘v’ serendipity
Wit and warm

The Set Up was an engaging contemporary read with wit and warmth. The protagonist Mara, took some time to get to know and like but she was worth the investment. She was definitely a complex character with some issues that Dent explored well.

This story took the reader from Budapest to various interesting locations across England. Everything Mara did came with a check on her horoscope to see if that gave her direction. I’m not a fan of horoscopes but I managed to rub along with that element.

The plot built to an impasse of setup versus serendipity and I was here for the serendipity of the housemate. You have to read to find out where Mara ended up.

Thank you @vikingbooksuk for the #gifted review copy.

UPGRADE by Blake Crouch

‘You are the next step in human evolution . . .’

What if you were capable of more?

Your concentration was better, you could multitask quicker, read faster, memorize more, sleep deeper.

For Logan Ramsay, it’s happening. He’s beginning to see the world around him, even those he loves the most, in whole new ways.

He knows that it’s not natural, that his genes have been hacked. He has been targeted for an upgrade.

Logan’s family legacy is one he has been trying to escape for decades and it has left him vulnerable to attack. But with a terrifying plan in place to replicate his upgrade throughout the world’s population, he may be the only person capable of stopping what has already been set in motion.

To win this war against humanity Logan will now have to become something other than himself . . .

Intricately plotted and epic in scope, Upgrade asks us to ponder the limits of our humanity – and our boundless potential. Are you ready for the impossible?


Title : Upgrade
Author : Blake Crouch
Format : eARC
Page Count : 341
Genre : Thriller
Publisher : Pan Macmillan
Release Date : July 7, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
The arrogance of humanity
Futuristic thriller with a shade of dystopia (or reality)
All the science goodness

We don’t have an intelligence problem. We have a compassion problem.”

I could not put this book down and for 24 hours, the themes of this book have truly invaded my thoughts. The subjects of environmental demise, political and international inertia to make change and the break neck speed of scientific and genomic progress felt close to where we are in 2022. So, this story set in a future felt utterly believable.

This story started and ended with the arrogance of individuals, thinking they knew best and being sure their intelligence superseded others. The sacrifice of some outweighing the many was part of this arrogant belief. Imagine if you could upgrade the intelligence and strength of humans…would that be the answer to all our problems? Logan the protagonist was the epicentre of this conundrum and this whole problem was through his eyes over a number of years.

The story was fast-paced, immediately gripping and it kept the reader’s attention throughout. The science was fascinating, not beyond my grip and I’m no geneticist. Nevertheless, this kind of science dominance of the story was right up my street, I could see how much research and expertise was sought to make this story work so well.

This story provoked the reader to consider individual morals and societal ethics and yet, this was not a heavy read. The pacing, the plot and characters kept the reader moving through the story as fast as their normal-speed mind could manage.

The triumph of this book was in how it ended, basically as well as it started. When a book tackles such a big plot and dilemma as this storyline presented, there’s always the risk that it’ll disappoint as it culminates. Crouch finished this superbly, with some bittersweet-ness and a bang.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan and Black Crow PR for the review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – JULY 5, 2022

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!

As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood brings another novella to our plates. This time too scientists in the frost the Arctic. Ready to get chilly with these two?

The Darkening by Sunya Mara promises A fierce revolutionary. A desperate prince. Together they will face the Storm, or be swept away . . .

Something Certain Maybe by Sara Barnard is out on July 7. This book isa powerful novel about first love, friendships and embracing the uncertainty of an unknowable future‘.



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

FIVE ON OUR TBRS

We’ve found that breaking down our TBRs can be something that inspires us to pick up hidden or briefly forgotten reads. ‘Five on my TBR’ is something that we have done a few times on bookstagram but it originated with someone else, though, eek, we’ve no idea who (if you’re the creator of this, please let us know and we will credit you!).

We are starting off the new year with the hope that we will include updates in this TBR series more often than we might have done last year. But whether we do or not (who can say!), here we are showing what’s risen to the top of our TBRs and/or what has us buzzed.

Micky’s five


Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
The Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
XOXO by Axie Oh
Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar

I finally mastered King of Scars so now it’s time for Rule of Wolves. I am haunted on my netgalley shelf by The Blood Heir, so I’m pushing myself on that. The other three are owned books I keep looking at, feel enthusiatic about but don’t pick up. Do we share any excitables?


Hollis’ five

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano
Save of the Game by Avon Gale
Father Complex by Gregory Ashe
Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May
Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

This TBR is a pile of series — except the last. Why, why am I doing this to myself? Because I am a binge queen! I will naturally have to follow up each of these instalments with the subsequent ones and finish the series. Gulp. As for the reasons? The Cosimano because it’s everywhere and I’m curious about the hype! The Gale because it’s a long-overdue series to finish; I had picked up an ARC of the final book, gone back to read book one, and then.. got stalled, somehow. The Ashe because I’ve been hoarding each release of this spin-off (of a spin-off) waiting until the series finished. The Lam and May because I’ve put it on this TBR series twice now and I’m overdue. And, finally, the CLo because it’s a CLo and I’m curious about this different take on their usual fare.


Tell us the top five books on your TBR! Do any of ours make your lists?

EVERY BREATH by Ellie Marney

Rachel Watts has just moved to Melbourne from the country, but the city is the last place she wants to be.

James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old who’s also a genius with a passion for forensics.

Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. He’s even harder to resist when he’s up close and personal – and on the hunt for a cold-blooded killer.

When Rachel and Mycroft follows the murderer’s trail, they find themselves in the lion’s den – literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again…


Title : Every Breath
Author : Ellie Marney
Series : Every (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 341
Genre : YA mystery / retellings
Publisher : Allen & Unwin
Release Date : September 5, 2013

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Here it is, the second-to-last series on my Series to Finish list for 2022. I’ve been knocking these out pretty quick this year.. and, as typical, saving the biggest challenge for last. Welp. That’s future!Hollis’ problem.

But anyway, was this as good as the first time? No, but that’s only in comparing a five star to a four star. Also, having reread my first review, I was coming off a bit of a disappointment from another Sherlock YA retelling series so I think I was just extra excited about this being a win. But it’s still so good.

Unlike other retellings, this one focuses on Watts (Rachel) and Mycroft (James). Conan Doyle’s legacy exists in this world and there are a few cheeky throwaway references to it but on the whole this is more an homage than a recreation. This pairing meet as a result of Rachel moving to town and discovering a boy her age a few houses down. Their friendship, at the onset, seems more in line with Rachel taking care of James as he’s more of less left on his own, only an oft-absent aunt in the way of guardianship, and he happens to find himself in the occasional scrape. One night, they stumble upon the body of a transient, who happened to be a friend of theirs, and it’s off to the races — they start to investigate.

The mystery is fine, good even, but what carries this is the dynamic. It’s a little fraught, it’s a little angsty — they each have their backstories — but it’s so good. Marney writes them so well and they are absolutely electric together. And indeed, maybe, sparks even fly? I’ll neither confirm nor deny (for now).

I’m excited to dive right into book two (which, if I recall correctly, gets much darker) and then after that it’s all new territory for me.

THE WOLF AT THE DOOR by Charlie Adhara

A former FBI agent is partnered with the enemy in this suspenseful male/male shifter romance from debut author Charlie Adhara

Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.

Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.

When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.


Title : The Wolf at the Door
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 288
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 24, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m so happy to be back in this world I could cry. Also I’m so happy to be reading something that I’m enjoying. Rereads can be risky but I knew (okay, hoped) this would go well. But I’m even happier to be able to say I enjoyed this even more the second time — which, I mean, was kind of a gimme as I only (for some reason!) rated this a three the first go around. And okay fine, I know why. Cooper.

Cooper’s our only POV and he’s a little prickly and is even affectionately referred to as a porcupine. And clearly his prickliness was a factor that worked against his favour on my initial read. Now? Now I just love him to bits. Possibly the benefit of hindsight.. but also possibly not because I know many of my friends did not struggle with him the way I did.

He was starting to wonder if Park bothered to argue with anyone. Not because he seemed like a doormat but because he had been beyond even-tempered all day. An almost annoyingly laid-back, Zen sort of person who didn’t so much as avoid confrontation as he seemed uninterested in it entirely. Bored by it, even. There was something about that kind of self-control that simultaneously drew Cooper and made him want to break it.

But aNyWaYs. What’s this about, you ask? It’s a queer paranormal investigative series. Werewolves are the particular flavour here and they are also.. partially out of the closet. In a way. A select group are aware of their existence and thus have created an offshoot of the FBI to help manage any issues that come up, as well as investigate in cases of supernatural crime or worse. Which is where Cooper comes in. A particular brush with said supernatural had him making the change from FBI to BSI and, when the agency’s reputation starts to sour and their PR takes a hit, Cooper is paired up with Park — a representative of the Trust, which is basically the werewolf equivalent of the BSI as well as the ruling/governing body — to try and ease tensions and promote teamwork and unity. And boy does it ever.. sorta. Eventually. Maybe.

Should’ve known you were a cat person.”
Why, because I don’t like you?”
Because you’re an antisocial asshole.

Investigations, mysteries, and hijinks ensue! Also sPaRKs.

I loved watching these two interact. The hesitancy, the lack of trust, the occasional glimmers of banter and respect, and then how they would have to start all over again when inevitably someone (Cooper) would mess it all up. It was extra fun watching Park be so amused by it all — when he wasn’t nursing a pout or legitimately (and adorably? I don’t know, it was sad but cute) wounded feelings. 

So many things make this series different but one of those biggest differences was how this focused more on the procedural element than the supernatural. I actually loved that. I loved so much. And in fact, I’m going to shut up and just recommend you pick this up. Find out for yourself why there’s so much love for this world and these characters. Do it! I dare you.

MONTHLY WRAP UP – JUNE 2022

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

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus — see Micky’s review here
The Blood Traitor by Lynette Noni — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

This Place is Still Beautiful by XiXi Tian — see Hollis’ review here
Dead Silence by S. A. Barnes — see Hollis’ review here
Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro — see Micky’s review here
The Seawomen by Chloe Timms — see Micky’s review here
Juniper & Thorn by Ava Reid — see Micky’s review here
Half A Soul by Olivia Atwater — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

The Silver Chain by Jion Sheibani — see Micky’s review here
Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert — see Hollis’ review here
Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane — see Micky’s review here
For The Throne by Hannah Whitten — see Micky’s review here (!)
Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning — see Hollis’ review here
This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede — see Micky’s review here (!)

☆ ☆ star reads

For The Throne by Hannah Whitten — see Hollis’ review here (!)
Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness — see Hollis’ review here
Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler — see Hollis’ review here
This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede — see Hollis’ review here (!)

star reads

Katzenjammer by Francesca Zappia — see Hollis’ review here

u n r a t e d

DNF

Marx Girl by T.L. Swan — no review to see from Micky!



total reads by Micky : ten for the blog plus a few others not reviewed here
favourite read of the month : Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
least favourite read of the month : Marx Girl by TL Swan
most read genre : fantasy

total reviews by Hollis : nine
favourite read of the month : Dead Silence by S. A. Barnes
least favourite read of the month : Katzenjammer by Francesca Zappia
most read genre : fantasy

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