LITTLE WHITE LIES by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

“I’m not saying this is Sawyer’s fault,” the prim and proper one said delicately. “But.”

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother’s “society” might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father’s identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn’t expect to find is friendship, but as she’s drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn’t the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother’s glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer’s search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.

Set in the world of debutante balls, grand estates and rolling green hills, Little White Lies combines a charming setting, a classic fish-out-of-water story, and the sort of layered mystery only author Jennifer Lynn Barnes can pull off. 


Title : Little White Lies
Author : Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series : Debutantes (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Freeform
Release Date : November 6, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

My love for this book has definitely been helped by a string of disappointing and/or boring reads but that’s not why I loved it. It just gave it a bit of a boost, is all.

I’m a big fan of Barnes’ writing, catch me in the corner forever mourning the fact that we only got two books in her Fixer series, but. But. If not for that fact, maybe this book, and series, wouldn’t exist. And that would be a crying shame.

This story follows Sawyer, raised by her single flighty mother, who has never known her father or family, until the moment her very polished, very Southern, grandmother shows up with a proposition : spend nine months in the place her mother grew up, before getting kicked out when she was a pregnant teen, in exchange for an all-expenses paid college tuition. Sawyer is suspicious but takes it. Because maybe, just maybe, she can figure out who her father is.

From the tone in her voice, you would have thought we were in a life raft in the middle of piranha-filled waters. Then again, I was about to make my debut in high society. Maybe we were.

Naturally drama ensues but maybe not the kind you’d expect. There’s blackmail, and kidnapping, and violence, and betrayal, and it’s a riot. Sawyer, the girl from the other side of the tracks, thrown in amongst the rich, the elite, the debutantes, makes friends, finds family, but both are somewhat fluid, and yet the journey is fabulous. It doesn’t exactly follow the same path as you might expect from a story with that bare bones concept and, as an added bonus, Barnes keeps you guessing, keeps things twisty, right up until the very end. Almost every character is flawed, or layered, and fascinating. The wit and charm that I love from this author is also present in her characters, in the dynamics, and I enjoyed the hell out of it all. Like in the last book I read (in fact, maybe all since her Naturals series), there’s no real romance plot for her protagonist. And I can’t tell you how much I love that. These stories stand on their own, with deep friendships, and family connections, that negate the need for added drama or angst or entanglements. I won’t be sad if a certain something happens between Sawyer and a certain guy but if it doesn’t.. I still won’t be sad.

Clearly, I’d been mistaken for the help. Unfortunately for Campbell, there were two kinds of people in this world : those who weren’t condescending and needlessly cruel and those I was pretty content to leave duct-taped to a chair.

I’m ever so happy to have an ARC of book two in my hands because I’m running high off the joy of this story and I can’t wait to see the trouble these girls get into next. And what mysteries, and what heartbreak, lies in wait for them.

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WORK FOR IT by Talia Hibbert

In this village, I’m an outcast: Griffin Everett, the scowling giant who prefers plants to people. Then I meet Keynes, a stranger from the city who’s everything I’m not: sharp-tongued, sophisticated, beautiful. Free. For a few precious moments in a dark alleyway, he’s also mine, hot and sweet under the stars… until he crushes me like dirt beneath his designer boot. 

When the prettiest man I’ve ever hated shows up at my job the next day, I’m not sure if I want to strangle him or drag him into bed. Actually—I think I want both. But Keynes isn’t here for the likes of me: he makes that painfully clear. With everyone else at work, he’s all gorgeous, glittering charm—but when I get too close, he turns vicious. 

And yet, I can’t stay away. Because there’s something about this ice king that sets me on fire, a secret vulnerability that makes my chest ache. I’ll do whatever it takes to sneak past his walls and see the real man again. 

The last thing I expect is for that man to ruin me. 


Title : Work for It
Author : Talia Hibbert
Series : Just For Him (book four)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 283
Genre : LGBTQIA+ contemporary romance
Publisher : Nixon House
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Goodness. I.. goodness.

So I treated myself to this book after a disappointing read, which felt good because I love supporting delightful authors, and then I ended up sorta impulsively buddy reading it with friends who also deserved a treat (also hahaha sorry guys, as always, I am the worst buddy reader), so generally everything about this read was heading towards a good time. And then I started getting sucked into this book and things got even better.

I may not be built like a lorry, like some people–
I prefer ‘brick shit-house’.”
–but I’ve been told I have a terrifying aura.”
Would be more terrifying you didn’t talk about auras.”

If you like Roan Parrish’s Riven series, you’ll love WORK FOR IT. Hibbert infuses this slowburn m/m romance with the same kind of mental health focus that Parrish does and she, too, does it so well. It adds layers to a story that didn’t need them, because it would’ve been good even without, but with them it’s delicious and emotional. Even better it’s a hate-to-love — in a broad sense, that is, but more specifically it’s a attracted-but-prefer-to-bicker-instead-of-bone which eases into friendship and then more. It’s not only beautiful but it’s a delight. 

How, exactly, does one say, “I assumed you would stop loving me if you found out how depressed and anxious I am,” without making it sounds as if you think the other person’s a bit of a prick?

This book steamed up my glasses, made me cry, made me laugh, made me swoon. There are passages that are angsty af as well as heartbreaking but the emotional evolution, the character growth and the challenges they face, it’s all such a perfect balance. For all the quick build of the connection, it’s equally glacial. The pacing between them is the perfect kind of slow, of cautious, of clear consent, and it’s completely and categorically hot. Also the feeeeeels.

What the fuck am I supposed to do with him if he doesn’t want tea? He’s just exhausted my social knowhow with five words.

I now realize I’ve said nothing at all about the book itself so let’s break it down :

depressed former playboy. reclusive grumpy farmer. opposites attract. age gap. size gap. wait, that last one sounds awful, I just mean one of them is Very Big and the other is Not As Big. kitchen hijinks. Soft Men (not boys, they are older, it’s great). trying a little tenderness. supportive friends. also some sheep.

This is how he wins, how he makes me all dizzy and soft: he smiles, for real, and for me.

I’m not sure that break down accomplished anything at all so instead you should just read this book.

For Christ’s sake, did he have to insult me with Scrabble words? Couldn’t he have just called me a tosser?

I will mention that in writing this review I discovered this is the fourth book of a series which does make sense considering some side characters who were woven in and out with backstory that was both briefly explained and implied, so. Maybe that’ll keep you from picking this up right away but. It definitely stands on its own. Though I may find myself working my way through the right order sooner rather than later..

MOONCAKES by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu (artist)

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.


Title : Mooncakes
Author : Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu (artist)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 256
Genre : YA LGBTQ+ fantasy graphic novel
Publisher : Lion Forge
Release Date : October 15, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

This graphic novel about witches, werewolves, and magic, is adorable, queer, and inclusive. There is a ton of every day representation mixed in amongst the magical, the bittersweet, and the fantastical. But I think where this would’ve been a bigger success for me is if more time had been spent in the set-up.

The reunion between these two main characters is very unexpected and things between them seem sped up while the reader is left trying to catch up to the why and how the all the backstory. We do get some of that after the fact, in the wrap up of the story, but I would’ve preferred some of it upfront instead of how it was done.

I also found myself a little lost in some of the nuance of the magic, the culture, and how it all worked. But maybe I’m just spoiled by longer fantasy epics like SAGA where the world building has time to, well, build.

This is definitely cute and diverse but I’m not sure it’ll be wholly memorable in a month’s time.

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

JACKPOT by Nic Stone

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Dear Martin –which Angie Thomas, the bestselling author of The Hate U Give, called “a must read”–comes a pitch-perfect romance that examines class, privilege, and how a stroke of good luck can change an entire life.

Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas ‘n’ Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she–with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan–can find the ticket holder who hasn’t claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite…or divide?

Nic Stone, the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out, creates two unforgettable characters in one hard-hitting story about class, money–both too little and too much–and how you make your own luck in the world.


Title : Jackpot
Author : Nic Stone
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 339
Genre : YA Contemporary
Publisher : Simon & Schuster Kids UK
Release Date : October 15, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

JACKPOT is the second book by Nic Stone that I’ve really enjoyed. She has a way of making you exist in her fictional world and get completely wrapped up her characters. This is book brimming with diversity, the have and have-nots and coming-of-age.

I didn’t know what to expect going into this read, I knew there was a lottery ticket and a young woman. What I got was the compelling character of Rico, working every hour outside of school to help her mum with keeping the eviction notice away, whilst looking after her young brother, Jax. It was pretty tragic to read as Rico had no kind of normal teenage existence. There was a sense of desperation around Rico that invaded the atmosphere.

Rico embarked on a quest to find a winning lottery ticket and she got up the courage to grab Zan to help her. He seemed to be her opposite in every way especially in terms of his financial situation. However, the more I got to know Zan, the more I realised that Zan and Rico were similar in many ways. What made this story was that Zan and others that entered Rico’s life, brought some normal teen experiences, some firsts and it was precious to read Rico having these experiences.

There were some unexpected twists to this story and some tragedies too that had me on the edge of my seat. I can honestly say this was a great reading experience and that I enjoyed the book from cover to cover. Nic Stone’s narrative felt realistic, representing poverty tangibly and with messages that need to be heard without a preachy feel. I love her writing style, it makes for ease of reading. Highly recommended.

THIRTY by Christina Bradley

Thirty days till she turns thirty… Just thirty dates to find The One…

Bella Edwards is a hot mess.

Days away from turning thirty, single, struggling to reconcile where she is with where she imagined she’d be by this point in her life, Bella has come to believe her entire future happiness is based on meeting ‘The One’.

After an unfortunate encounter with a fortune teller, where it seems Bella’s single fate is sealed, she hops on a plane from London to New York to seek the wisdom of her best friend who, in turn, presents Bella with a challenge: thirty dates in thirty days before Bella turns thirty.

Challenge accepted, Bella embarks on a crazy road trip across America to San Francisco, with one clear objective: to find ‘The One’ and prove the fortune teller wrong. What ensues is a raucous adventure of dating, love, and – mostly importantly – self-discovery. 


Title : Thirty
Author : Christina Bradley
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 421
Genre : Contemporary
Publisher : Headline Books
Release Date : August 22, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This is a light, entertaining read with a good dose of fun as the story follows Bella. Bella was trying in her own chaotic way, to prove a fortune teller’s predictions about her chance of a happily ever after…wrong.

Bella immediately came across as a flawed heroine with relatable personality traits. Everything was not together, in fact, the whole premise of this story was built on the tower of cards that had fallen. Bella had amazing inner monologue and banter moments that I found incredibly funny and sometimes endearing.

As Bella traversed geographical travels and different potential men in her goal to find ‘the one’, there was a rich and detailed story. There were many varied side characters. There was also a theme underlying of Bella finding herself, being satisfied with her lot, who she was and the value of friendships. There were also some great romantic moments. This story was definitely more than I expected from the synopsis because whilst this was rom-com territory, there were moments of poignancy and hurt that hit you right in the gut.

This was a generally satisfying read and a great one for a weekend or holiday.

Thank you to Headline Books for the review copy.

POSTSCRIPT by Cecelia Ahern

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.

She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.

Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…


Title : Postscript
Author : Cecelia Ahern
Series : PS I Love You #2
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : Women’s Fiction
Publisher : Harper Collins
Release Date : September 19, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

POSTSCRIPT was the sequel I never thought I needed. Let’s face it, PS I Love You finished in a good place and so it has existed for over a decade. I was worried that book two would sully the good memories I have of book one, I was worried it would disappoint, it did none of these things.

Holly was seven years down the line from Gerry’s death, living her life, happy, in a relationship and officially in a different phase of her life from when she recceived the original letters. I wondered where Cecelia Ahern would take us, without harping back to the experiences of the first book too much but Gerry’s letters were used for good, to empower others.

What I liked about Holly in this book was that she was still a bit of a hot mess. She didn’t have it all together, even after all this time, showing this was just a personality trait. What I also loved reading about was Holly’s grief for Gerry and the life she lost. The grief that shone through was dulled down but with occasional acuteness and this seemed real.

The quest that Holly went on alongside others in her PS I Love You club was a journey. I had my reservations about it just like her boyfriend, friends and family but I was won around by those characters of Bert, Genika and Jewel especially. I made it to 88% rather smugly thinking that ‘I’ve not cried, I wont now’… and then proceeded to sob twice before the end.

…ultimately, it’s all anyone wants. Not to get lost, or left behind, not to be forgotten, to always be a part of the moments they know they’ll miss. To leave their stamp. To be remembered.

Cecelia Ahern wrote about the journey towards death and the grief that ensues with sensitivity and tangibility. She also wrote it in an uplifting style. She connected me to the characters and narratives with skill and affection. I am so glad that this second instalment came along and made it seem as though no years had passed since the last book.

Thank you Harper Collins for the early review copy.

STILL by Kennedy Ryan 🎧

I’ll be there.
Through thick and thin.
Ride or die.
You can count on me.

The promises people make.
The vows we take.
Assumptions of the heart.
Emotion tells us how we feel, but life…life has a way of plunging us in boiling water, burning away our illusions, testing our faith, trying our convictions.
Love floating is a butterfly, but love tested is an anchor.

For Grip and Bristol,
Love started at the top of the world
On a Ferris wheel under the stars
But when that love is tested, will they fly or fall?


Title : Still
Author : Kennedy Ryan
Narrators : Jakobi Diem, Maxine Mitchell
Series : Grip #2
Format : Audiobook
Length : 13 hours, 12 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Tantor Audio
Release Date : September 18, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

What a boom! of a completion to this series, which I think is my personal Kennedy favourite so far. My love for this series stems from the decency that is Grip. He’s no saint but he’s good guy born and bred. My second love of this series is the flawedness and loyal Bristol. She has been a growth of love on my part and growth in character on Kennedy Ryan’s part.

The strength of this tale, this instalment, lies in the timeline. There is no rushing, it jumps and then it focuses in on hours and days and I cannot tell you how well that worked for me. Taking this approach just enhanced my connection to these characters and their lives, I felt like family.

There were some difficult storylines but when things were basically peachy at 70%, I smelled a rat and knew that I was about to take a dive off a cliff with these two. What I didn’t expect until I saw it coming, was that this would go into my work -life expertise. I cringe and worry when a story delves into writing these topics because I’ve seen it butchered. Yet, I remain conflicted because I want to see these topics make the cut in books. Kennedy Ryan narrated this emotive topic with sensitivity, research and excellence. There was some medical detail that was spot on but on the whole, she concentrated on the emotional narrative that had this person with a PhD in the subject with waterfalls down her face. You rocked this, Kennedy and I am beyond impressed.

I waited to experience this book by audio, having loved Grip this way. The narration brought this story and the emotions to life. These narrators epitomised Grip and Bristol.

Fiction is just that but excellent fiction takes reality and carves a life story. Kennedy Ryan wowed me from the first to the last page and I love that I was able to get this series signed in London recently. Read this series and feel from your heart to your soul, I did.