CONFESSIONS OF AN ALLEGED GOOD GIRL by Joya Goffney

Monique lives a perfect life – a preacher’s daughter and the girlfriend of the town’s golden boy. But it’s not that simple. She’s torn between her parents who want the pure virginal daughter, and her boyfriend, Dom, who wants to explore the more intimate side of their relationship.

Tired of waiting, her boyfriend breaks up with her, spurring Monique to discover she has a medical condition that makes her far from perfect and she concocts a plan to fix her body and win him back.

With the help of her frenemy, Sasha, the overly zealous church girl Monique’s mum pushes her to hang out with, and Reggie, the town’s bad boy, Monique must go on trips to unknown and uncomfortable places to find the treatment that will help her. But in doing so, she must face some home truths: maybe she shouldn’t be fixing her body to please a boy, maybe Sasha is the friend she needed all along and maybe Reggie isn’t so bad at all.

This is a powerful journey towards loving yourself, about body and sex positivity, with heart, humour, family intrigue and a dynamic and delicious love triangle.

Contains explicit references to sex and sexual health.


Title : Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl
Author : Joya G0ffney
Format : eARC
Page Count : 314
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : May 3, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Sex positive
Growing up in church
Confidences and friendships

This is one of the best examples of a sex-positive story I’ve ever read and this is hugely important in contemporary YA. Goffney crafting an impactful story that was also threaded with lightness so that it didn’t feel heavy. I blasted through this book in a day and I loved it.

Monique found herself under significant pressure to have sex, while also wanting to, but not being able to. There’s a physical condition afoot that was really good to see amongst these pages and while there were characters that were shady (hello Dom, I did not like you) there were a bunch of great characters in Reggie, Sasha and Aunt Dee. There was a whole layer of complication to this story about being brought up in a straight-laced church household where the parents were hugely unrealistic about life, sex education and natural adolescent development. I couldn’t decide if I really hated these parents but I guess it just diluted to dislike.

Reggie, the man of young men, I loved this guy on the page. His understanding, his humour, his respect were everything. I loved how these two brought great character growth in one another.

Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl was a YA read of the year for me and I highly recommend.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for the early review copy.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE by Dahlia Adler

In this sweet and funny new f/f romance from the author of Cool for the Summer, a cheerleader and the school’s newest quarterback are playing to win, but might lose their hearts in the process.

Amber McCloud’s dream is to become cheer captain at the end of the year, but it’s an extra-tall order to be joyful and spirited when the quarterback of your team has been killed in a car accident. For both the team and the squad, watching Robbie get replaced by newcomer Jack Walsh is brutal. And when it turns out Jack is actually short for Jaclyn, all hell breaks loose.

The players refuse to be led by a girl, the cheerleaders are mad about the changes to their traditions, and the fact that Robbie’s been not only replaced but outshined by a QB who wears a sports bra has more than a few Atherton Alligators in a rage. Amber tries for some semblance of unity, but it quickly becomes clear that she’s only got a future on the squad and with her friends if she helps them take Jack down.

Just one problem: Amber and Jack are falling for each other, and if Amber can’t stand up for Jack and figure out how to get everyone to fall in line, her dream may come at the cost of her heart.


Title : Home Field Advantage
Author : Dahlia Adler
Format : ARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : June 7, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

Welp, this wasn’t quite the “sweet and funny” romance I expected it to be. Clearly.

I’ll admit I requested this with the hope that all of what I liked about Adler’s previously queer YA, Cool For the Summer, would be magnified and even more fun in this other queer YA, particularly with the cheerleader/female quarterback angle, but.. it was not. It didn’t even measure up.

Look, it’s expected to navigate hard hitting topics these days, because they are timely, they are important, and they are realities faced by everyone but particularly marginalized peoples. However.. if you promise me sweet and funny, I want sweet and funny. And instead this was relentlessly misogynistic, homophobic, with bullying, and generally an overwhelming vibe of nothing fun or nice. However, Jack, our transplanted-from-another-school quarterback? She deserved to be rooted for. She did deserve her own cheerleader. I just wish she’d gotten a better one. Because Amber only occasionally had her good moments. But that didn’t make her unique. Pretty much right across the board, almost every single character sucked. And those who didn’t were like Amber; with only occasional good or redeeming moments.

So, yeah, maybe you aren’t like me and won’t feel offended or disappointed by all the frustrations in here — or the insta-love, which somehow continued to feel paper thin despite the passing of months — and you’ll appreciate the conflicts and the more or less happily ever after, but.. I’m not. I’m bummed. I’m also trying not to stare at this gorgeously colourful cover and feel like it hasn’t personally victimized and betrayed me.

You might like this; in theory there’s a lot to love. I just didn’t love or like it. As a result, I’m not sure I’ll risk picking up another book by this author.

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

WICKED BEAUTY by Katee Robert

She was the face that launched a thousand ships,
The fierce beauty at the heart of Olympus,
And she was never ours to claim.

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Helen of Troy, Achilles, and Patroclus that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*

In Olympus, you either have the power to rule…or you are ruled. Achilles Kallis may have been born with nothing, but as a child he vowed he would claw his way into the poisonous city’s inner circle. Now that a coveted role has opened to anyone with the strength to claim it, he and his partner, Patroclus Fotos, plan to compete and double their odds of winning.

Neither expect infamous beauty Helen Kasios to be part of the prize…or for the complicated fire that burns the moment she looks their way.

Zeus may have decided Helen is his to give to away, but she has her own plans. She enters into the competition as a middle finger to the meddling Thirteen rulers, effectively vying for her own hand in marriage. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see her dead than lead the city. The only people she can trust are the ones she can’t keep her hands off—Achilles and Patroclus. But can she really believe they have her best interests at heart when every stolen kiss is a battlefield?


Title : Wicked Beauty
Author : Katee Robert
Series : Dark Olympus (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : romance / retelling
Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date : June 7, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

This is easily my favourite of the series so far. I know that maybe isn’t the big statement it might seem considering this is only a three star but this series has been a strange ride because I continually want to enjoy what Robert has created, and occasionally do like elements of things, but I ultimately feel like it’s overruled and spoiled by other things. And that’s not all gone. I still really struggle with comprehending how this world works but for once I was completely distracted by the plot. Because for once we h a d plot.

I had such a good time with the Ares trials and really enjoyed how they were set up. It certainly wasn’t as well thought out or complex as a fantasy might have made them out to be but lest we forget (we cannot) this is a romance first. And we had a good mix of action to move the players forward, romance and sexy times and emotions, and also a subtle little side plot to add some conflict to the world itself and set up something (hopefully) interesting for book four.

Now, as for that romance. I definitely wavered in my liking and disliking of the men; initially I was put-off by Achilles — but we’re supposed to be, there’s good reason for it. And then later.. he wins you over and it’s Patroclus who was maybe a little too hesitant, a little too overthink-y. Helen ended up being the perfect solution. Watching these three bounce off each other, resist each other, give in, bend.. it was fun. Sexy, yes, but mostly fun.

I also realllyyyy loved how the main plot point resolved. I had hoped but I wasn’t sure it would go that way. I was pleased.

So, yeah, colour me really surprised with how this one shook out. I am still very shaky on this world and how it all works but clearly I’m just going to have to learn to stow that and turn my brain off and focus on the immediacy of it all.

As for who and what’s next couple-wise, I had no idea until I went to investigate because nothing is set up in this instalment and I already know the Zeus and Callisto match-up is likely to be the last one. So I’m not going to spoil anything but if you’re curious, you can definitely hunt it down!

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

FOR THE THRONE by Hannah Whitten – double review!

THE FIRST DAUGHTER IS FOR THE THRONE
THE SECOND DAUGHTER IS FOR THE WOLF

Hannah Whitten’s debut For the Wolf was an instant New York Times bestseller and word-of-mouth phenomenon. Now, the eagerly awaited sequel, For the Throne, concludes her brilliant dark tale of love, magic and the secrets written in the stars.

Red and the Wolf have finally contained the threat of the Five Kings, but at a steep cost. Red’s beloved sister – Neve, the First Daughter – is lost in the Shadowlands. But Neve has an ally, even if it’s one she’d rather never speak to again – the rogue king Solmir. Together they must journey across a dangerous landscape to find the mysterious Heart Tree – and finally claim the gods’ dark, twisted powers for themselves.


Title : For The Throne
Author : Hannah Whitten
Series : For The Wolf (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit Books
Release Date : June 7, 2022

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


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

My thoughts about For The Wolf were a little mixed, which I thought was only due to the delayed and prolonged reading of the book itself, but in hindsight.. maybe was just genuine feelings. Because other than the overall vibes and some character interactions, I felt rather lost by the story.

Well the same is true for the sequel. 

Even though I didn’t do myself a favour by making time to reread book one, I jumped right in and thought the first half was really good. It was slow reading but somehow also easy reading, even if I wasn’t engaged. However in hindsight, having finished the latter part, it was also the best half. Mainly because of Neve’s POV alongside her adventures with Solmir in the Shadowlands. As the story went on and we flipped to POVs for Red, and even Raffe, I was even more detached from things. I might not have been invested in the plot but, again, I was here for the vibes. I was here for the messy and evolving dynamic between Neve and Solmir. 

But where things really went off the rails for me, beyond being checked out during certain chapters, was the climax. I’m just.. I have no words. I don’t understand and I don’t want to understand. It is what it is and I’m not a fan.

I would probably pick the author up again but I could just as easily not. 

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


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Kings and trees
Souls and keys

I came into this sequel a bit unsure what to expect having really liked Red and Eamonn in For The Wolf and not sure if I was ready for a Neve-centric read. What I found was that Neve (and Solmir) pitched for my attention early on and won it. We got a fair bit of Red and Eamonn in this book, so fans of that couple should feel satisfied.

The Wilderwood evolved into something above and below with creepy feelings pervading. Whitten is particulary good at creating atmosphere with a sense of tension and foreboding. The quest involving keys, kings and souls was something that echoed things we’ve seen along folklore, fairytales and retellings in the past but with a sense of freshness to the plot.

However, some of the issues I had with For The Wolf around the plot complexity and not feeling the flow continued into this second book for me. While the plot was linear, it didn’t always feel linear and I stalled a few times reading this.

I like Whitten’s imagination in world and I especially like her characterisation. I’ll definitely read her again.

Thank you to Orbit Books for the eARC.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – JUNE 7, 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.


Stuck With You by Ali Hazelwood is the next release in the author’s STEMinist novella series.

For the Throne by Hannah Whitten is the final instalment in this woodsy duology featuring old gods and magic.

Final Orders by Gregory Ashe is the fifth instalment in this spin-off of a spin-off m/m contemporary series.

This Place Is Still Beautiful by Xixi Tian is a YA contemporary set around a family who are reeling from an unexpected hate crime. A very timely read, for sure.

Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert is book three in the Dark Olympus series and this time we’re navigating a polyamorous relationship between Achilles, Patroclus, and Helen (yes, that Helen).

Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler is a f/f YA contemporary romance between a cheerleader (!) and the quarterback (!!).

The Setup by Lizzy Dent is out today in the US/CAN but not until June 9, 2022 for UKers.



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

THIS PLACE IS STILL BEAUTIFUL by XiXi Tian

Two sisters. A shocking racist incident. The summer that will change both of their lives forever. 

Despite having had near-identical upbringings, sisters Annalie and Margaret agree on only one thing: that they have nothing in common. Nineteen-year-old Margaret is driven, ambitious, and keenly aware of social justice issues. She couldn’t wait to leave their oppressive small-town home and take flight in New York. Meanwhile sweet, popular, seventeen-year-old Annalie couldn’t think of anything worse – she loves their town, and feels safe coasting along in its confines.

That is, until she arrives home one day to find a gut-punching racial slur painted on their garage door.

Outraged, Margaret flies home, expecting to find her family up in arms. Instead, she’s amazed to hear they want to forget about it. Their mom is worried about what it might stir up, and Annalie just wants to have a ‘normal’ summer – which Margaret is determined to ruin, apparently.

Back under each other’s skins, things between Margaret and Annalie get steadily worse – and not even the distraction of first love (for Annalie), or lost love (for Margaret) can bring them together.

Until finally, a crushing secret threatens to tear them apart forever.


Title : This Place Is Still Beautiful
Author : XiXi Tian
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
Release Date : June 7, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3.5 (rounded up) star review

You know what else is beautiful? That cover. Hoo boy. Stunning.

I waffled a bit on this rating as of writing this — on whether to round up or not — because while this wasn’t perfect, and I was frustrated and uncomfortable and frustrated some more, I think that’s the whole point. And it’s important to sit with those feelings. And also acknowledge all the complex nuance that this author, and this story, definitely touches on.

They think me talking publicly about racism is more offensive than a actual hate crime. People would rather I just kept my mouth shut and looked sad. Then they could white knight in and express sympathy without feeling uncomfortable. I’m not in the business of keeping people from feeling uncomfortable.”

Not only is this a very timely story, with timely discussion, I think in general it’s just not something we’ve seen a lot of. Racist conflicts, sure. Siblings feeling pitted against each other, while also trying to navigate complicated parental dynamics, yes. Topics surrounding white-passing, more and more. But this tackled so much more while also delving into all the above.

I found Annalie’s POV and storyline the hardest to stomach not only because I was side-eyeing this guy she had been so keen to date for so long. But also because of what comes out about the hate crime and who was involved and how she, also, becomes involved. And it’s in a very different way than Margaret who is, unlike her younger sister, not white-passing and also the kind of person to shout from the rooftops, rattle chains, and make noise; all of which she does.

What are second chances anyway except the ability to screw up a second time?

And despite this, or maybe because of it, I actually preferred Margaret’s POV and I found her, despite how unlikeable she could be, to be more likeable as a result. Also, her own romance plot? Heartbreaking. The whole catalyst behind that is one of the main issues I was hinting at above but I’m not going to mention because spoilers.

I wish I could talk to her the way I want to. I wish I could make her understand my heart, or that I could understand hers, but between us, there is an entire ocean that we will never be able to cross.

This was definitely a more mature-leaning YA, between the subject matter and some of the topics and how they were handled, and I really appreciated that. This definitely had the right tones for the story. I’m sure I could find things to pick apart (some interactions, particularly in the beginning, didn’t quite fit, and there was definitely an inconsistency or two, but this is an ARC, so, I’ll let it slide, because they weren’t littered throughout) but again I think the strength of this outweighs the few weaknesses.

I worried this couldn’t possibly live up to the pitch (I saw the author speak to the nature and inspiration of this story and was totally mesmerized) but I’m glad this turned out to be a win. For so many reasons.

Would definitely recommend if this is already on your radar! This is a debut you don’t want to miss.

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

ORDINARY MONSTERS by J.M. Miro

The Dark Grace is dead.

Feared and despised for the sinister power in her veins, Alyce has spent 100 years wreaking her revenge on the kingdom that made her an outcast. Once a realm of decadence and beauty, Briar is now wholly Alyce’s wicked domain. No one escapes the consequences of her wrath.

Not even the one person who holds her heart.

Princess Aurora saw through Alyce’s thorny facade, earning a love that promised the dawn of a new age. But that love came with a heavy price: Aurora now sleeps under a curse that even Alyce’s vast power cannot seem to break, and their dream of the world they would have built together is nothing but ash.

Alyce vows to do anything to wake the woman she loves, even if it means descending into the monster Briar believed her to be. But could Aurora ever love the villain Alyce has become?

Or is true love only for fairy tales?


Title : Ordinary Monsters
Author : J.M. Miro
Series : The Talents Trilogy #1
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 660
Genre : Historical Fantasy/Horror
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date : June 7, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This has just been such a creepy and absorbing read. It’s a bit of a tome, it’s absorbing and it is incredibly unusual.

It’s a historical fantasy/horror that takes place between the US, London, Scotland, Tokyo…and places in between. There are children with ‘talents’ some of which are pretty scary gifts. And then, there are monsters of different descriptions after them. Thankfully there are some decent adults trying to protect them but then which are decent and which have other agendas? It isn’t clear for much of the book. I cheered all the way for the children.

This is a series starter and it’s going to be a trilogy. It’s atmospheric, eerie, dark and sad. The tension was pretty strong, there’s some gruesome elements but nothing I couldn’t cope with. There were twists on twists.

I’m definitely invested and I will be reading on when the next book is out. I could totally see this as TV series.

Thank you Bloomsbury Books for the gifted copy. The book is out now.

TIME’S CONVERT by Deborah Harkness

On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus’s deeply held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

Fast-forward to contemporary Paris, where Phoebe Taylor–the young employee at Sotheby’s whom Marcus has fallen for–is about to embark on her own journey to immortality. Though the modernized version of the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to be a vampire are no less formidable than they were in the eighteenth century. The shadows that Marcus believed he’d escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both–forever.

A passionate love story and a fascinating exploration of the power of tradition and the possibilities not just for change but for revolution, Time’s Convert channels the supernatural world-building and slow-burning romance that made the All Souls Trilogy instant bestsellers to illuminate a new and vital moment in history, and a love affair that will bridge centuries.


Title : Time’s Convert
Author : Deborah Harkness
Series : All Souls (book four)
Format : physical
Page Count : 448
Genre : paranormal romance / historical
Publisher : Penguin Books
Release Date : June 25, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

I hate to say it but this was almost as bad as book two. Except in some ways it was also worse as this felt.. well. I hate to say it but pointless? Yes, I realize, many books could be argued to be pointless but rarely do they give off that sense. Time’s Convert does.

While this does pivot, a bit, as far as plot and some themes, sadly we still have a lot of focus on Diana and Matthew. Which both sort’ve saved things and also didn’t; because while I quickly lost interest in Phoebe’s plotline and Marcus’, there were the occasional distractions with other matters. Even if I wasn’t interested in those, either.

You definitely won’t be able to read this without reading the main series so if you’ve mad it that far I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t pick this up. But at the same time.. obviously not recommending it. I think we are very much due for a Gallowglass story but only if it’s future-forward. I wouldn’t survive a six hundo page story of him pining after youknowwho so maybe we’ll get one of those? And maybe it’ll also keep the main focus away from Diana, Matthew, and their brood? Hard to say. Though having said that.. I would read a story about Ysabeau’s past.. so, yeah, okay, I’m clearly keen enough to not be done with any potential additions to this world but I’m clearly on the whelmed and under side of things.

Oh well! Another series tackled and finished. And another middling result. At least this isn’t one I have to unhaul.

MONTHLY WRAP UP – MAY 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

Book Lovers by Emily Henry — see Micky and Hollis’ reviews here

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston — see Hollis’ review here (!)
Book of Night by Holly Black — see Micky’s review here (!)
Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs — see Micky’s review here
A Lady For A Duke by Alexis Hall — see Micky’s review here
Until The Last Of Me by Sylvain Neuvel — see Micky’s review here
A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin — see Micky’s review here
The Trial of Lotta Rae by Siobhan MacGowan — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

Book of Night by Holly Black — see Hollis’ review here (!)
The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray — see Hollis’ review here
A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong — see Hollis’ review here
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston — see Micky’s review here (!)
My Eyes Are Up Here by Laura Zimmermann — see Micky’s review here
Faefever by Karen Marie Moning — see Hollis’ review here
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness — see Hollis’ review here
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness — see Hollis’ review here
My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth — see Hollis’ review here
Something Wilder by Christina Lauren — see Micky’s review here
What Time is Love? by Holly Williams — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ star reads

The Thief by Megan Whelan Tuner — see Micky’s review here
Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon — see Hollis’ review here
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness — see Hollis’ review here
With and Without You by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka — see Hollis’ review here

star reads

u n r a t e d

You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi — see Hollis’ review here
Inheritance : A Visual Poem by Elizabeth Acevedo — see Hollis’ review here

DNF

A Touch of Ruin by Scarlett St Clair — see Micky’s brief GR thoughts here


total reads by Micky : twelve (double really, just not reviewed for the blog)
favourite read of the month : Book Lovers by Emily Henry
least favourite read of the month : A Touch of Ruin by Scarlett St Clair
most read genre : contemporary

total reviews by Hollis : fourteen
favourite read of the month : Book Lovers by Emily Henry
least favourite read of the month : Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
most read genre : contemporary

DEAD SILENCE by S. A. Barnes

Titanic meets The Shining in S.A. Barnes’ Dead Silence, a SF horror novel in which a woman and her crew board a decades-lost luxury cruiser and find the wreckage of a nightmare that hasn’t yet ended.

A GHOST SHIP.
A SALVAGE CREW.
UNSPEAKABLE HORRORS.

Claire Kovalik is days away from being unemployed—made obsolete—when her beacon repair crew picks up a strange distress signal. With nothing to lose and no desire to return to Earth, Claire and her team decide to investigate.

What they find at the other end of the signal is a shock: the Aurora, a famous luxury space-liner that vanished on its maiden tour of the solar system more than twenty years ago. A salvage claim like this could set Claire and her crew up for life. But a quick trip through the Aurora reveals something isn’t right.

Whispers in the dark. Flickers of movement. Words scrawled in blood. Claire must fight to hold onto her sanity and find out what really happened on the Aurora, before she and her crew meet the same ghastly fate.


Title : Dead Silence
Author : S. A. Barnes
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 343
Genre : sci-fi horror
Publisher : Tor Nightfire
Release Date : February 8, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Hoo boy, fam, if you enjoy the thrilling sensation of feeling like you’ve seen something out of the corner of your eye, the certainty that something is hiding underneath your bed, combined by the terror and unpredictability (not to mention darkness) of space, you will love this book. Conversely, if you loved Serenity or The Illuminae Files, there are elements in here you might appreciate.

I will admit, there was a scene or two that really got me going. I had to set the book down and take a breath.

But beyond the suspense and gruesome parts, the beauty of this story is in the narrator’s uncertainty of what is real and what isn’t. Which adds to the scary. For reasons you’ll learn about, Claire is already an unreliable narrator. And it only gets worse as she tries to piece together what happened after she and her crew dock with a decades-long missing ship.

I had such a good time reading this, both because of the thrills and for following along to figure out the what of it all. The ending did surprise me, and I can see some people maybe not enjoy it for a few different reasons, but it landed fine for me.

Obviously, due to the horror — gore, violence, all that jazz — this isn’t one I can recommend to just anyone, but if the themes and synopsis seem to be in your wheelhouse, I would definitely give it a try. This is Barnes’ debut, under this penname at least, and I will definitely pick her up again.

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