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Lydia Chass doesn’t mind living in a small town; she just doesn’t want to die in one. A lifetime of hard work has put her on track to attend a prestigious journalism program and leave Henley behind—until a school error leaves her a credit short of graduating. Undeterred, Lydia has a plan to earn that credit: transform her listener-friendly local history podcast into a truth-telling exposé. She’ll investigate the Long Stretch of Bad Days: a week when Henley was hit by a tornado and a flash food as well as its first—and only—murder, which remains unsolved.

But Lydia needs help to bring grit to the show. Bristal Jamison has a bad reputation and a foul mouth, but she also needs a credit to graduate. The unexpected partnership brings together the Chass family—a pillar of the community—and the rough-and-tumble Jamisons, with Bristal hoping to be the first in her family to graduate. Together, they dig into the town’s worst week, determined to solve the murder.

Their investigation unearths buried secrets: a hidden town brothel, lost family treasure, and a teen girl who disappeared. But the past is never far, and some don’t want it to see the light. As threats escalate, the girls have to uncover the truth before the dark history of Henley catches up with them.

Title : A Long Stretch of Bad Days
Author : Mindy McGinnis
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA mystery / thriller
Publisher : Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date : March 14, 2023

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5

Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Anyone who has read this author before knows that you really don’t know what you’re going to get when dipping into one of her books. But, having said that, this might be her most straight-forward, or dare I say tame?, or maybe just easily-marketable, books in a long long time. I haven’t always loved McGinnis but she always does something different — often bonkers weird — and even if I’ve disliked her previous release, I still pick up the next. And because of the aforementioned tame-ness of this one, I think — hope! — this gets her a slew of new fans.

“.. even when everyone involved has the best intentions [..], sometimes people fall through the cracks.
Funny thing about those cracks. Most of them are teenage-girl shaped.

A Long Stretch of Bad Days gives off shades of Veronica Mars in some ways. Or, if that reference is now a little too old for the YA crowd (urk, my heart), think Sadie. Or A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. While our two characters don’t set out to solve a crime, they end up in the middle of one anyway, complete with viral podcast episodes. But where this differs is.. the stakes. No one sets out to investigate a loss that is deeply personal to them. And no one is intentionally throwing themselves into the line of fire. What starts out as a trip down memory lane to revisit a horrible disaster in their small town, turns into something more.

Aggravated assault? How is that different from regular assault?
It’s the level of intent of harm meant for the victim. But it totally needs to be renamed because I’ve never committed an assault where I wasn’t aggravated first.”

But also? It’s fucking funny. Like, I cannot tell you how many times I laughed out loud. We live this story through Lydia’s perspective but Bristal often outshines her. But both these characters are brilliant. Complex, layered, and so real.

There is also something of a wo-mance (haha, I hated this immediately, sorry) between these two in the best kind of way. Or, put another way, if it was a romance, I would say it’s an opposites attract, with one girl from the wrong side of the tracks, even. But it’s not a romance so I can’t say that. You get it, though. Also? I love that it’s not a romance. I love when we just get a great platonic friendship to spotlight instead of something more, especially in YA.

I think initially I said this was straight-forward but I don’t mean there aren’t twists and turns and discoveries to be found. You might guess things along the way (I had my suspicions!) but the earlier reference is just in relative terms to the author’s other works. I think you’ll still be surprised by how things fall out with this one. And it’s especially chilling when you think back to earlier scenes and dialogue. This is a book I definitely want to reread; and I’m sorta hoping there’s a full cast set for audiobook for this because I think it would make for great listening, especially the podcast bits.

There is so much here that is a win. The friendship. The mystery. The podcast. The small town vibes (good and bad). The humour. Uneven Steven. The characters. The facebook jokes. The serious conversations that never felt like TedTalks or lectures. And so much more.

So yeah, I had a wonderful time with this one and I would highly recommend it.

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

SOLOMON’S CROWN by Natasha Siegel

Two destined rivals fall desperately in love—but the fate of medieval Europe hangs in the balance.

“A pair of thrones between us, and my heart clutched like a rosary within his hands …”

Twelfth-century Europe. Newly-crowned King Philip of France is determined to restore his nation to its former empire and bring glory to his name. But when his greatest enemy, King Henry of England, threatens to end his reign before it can even begin, Philip is forced to make a precarious alliance with Henry’s volatile son—risking both his throne, and his heart.

Richard, Duke of Aquitaine, never thought he would be King. But when an unexpected tragedy makes him heir to England, he finally has an opportunity to overthrow the father he despises. At first, Philip is a useful tool in his quest for vengeance… until passion and politics collide, and Richard begins to question whether the crown is worth the cost.

When Philip and Richard find themselves staring down an impending war, they must choose between their desire for one another and their grand ambitions. Will their love prevail, if it calls to them from across the battlefield? Teeming with royal intrigue and betrayal, this epic romance reimagines two real-life kings ensnared by an impossible choice: Follow their hearts, or earn their place in history.

Title : Solomon’s Crown
Author : Natasha Siegel
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : historical romance / LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Dell
Release Date : March 14, 2023

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★

Hollis’ 2 star review

I think my problem, and what will likely be an issue for some readers, is that this takes so many liberties with the historical figures it uses — and the author is upfront about this, both in the foreword and the author’s note at the end, so it’s not the liberties themselves I take issue with — that I don’t really know why Siegel didn’t just write something original. Maybe it’s to capture the historical fiction readers? The history buffs? To start (continue?) the discussion about the nature of these real peoples’ relationship ala Patroclus and Achilles? I don’t know. But for me, the historical element was both one of the few things I liked but also, I think, one of the reasons I couldn’t get on board.

Also because, sadly, for all that the writing was incredibly easy to read, and easy to digest, it wasn’t gripping. Little to no emotion was imparted, which didn’t help me care about the characters, and while I understand the author wanted something joyful as opposed to gritty and dark, there was also no tension. The stakes should have been huge — Philip was a King! Richard was heir to the throne and a Prince and Duke in his own right — but like.. no tension. No angst. No risk. And, as a reader, no reward.

As for the romance, things move pretty quickly and get intense even quicker and I don’t really understand how or why these things happened. I found it hard to understand them as individuals, beyond their basic traits, and why I should want them together; but I also think this was impeded by the fact that I heard too much of the author’s voice in their characterization, if that makes sense? They didn’t read true.

While I’m disappointed this wasn’t a win, it wasn’t one that I had been anticipating as this was offered to me directly from the publisher. It did sound interesting, or else I never would’ve signed on, but it’s not quite the blow it would’ve been had this been on my radar before. I’m very thankful to have been offered this and think there is definitely an audience for this — I can see many people enjoying it and some early readers already have! — I just wasn’t one of them.

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


You can have everything you want if you sacrifice everything you believe.

Kihrin D’Mon is a wanted man.

Since he destroyed the Stone of Shackles and set demons free across Quur, he has been on the run from the wrath of an entire empire. His attempt to escape brings him into the path of Janel Theranon, a mysterious Joratese woman who claims to know Kihrin.

Janel’s plea for help pits Kihrin against all manner of dangers: a secret rebellion, a dragon capable of destroying an entire city, and Kihrin’s old enemy, the wizard Relos Var.

Janel believes that Relos Var possesses one of the most powerful artifacts in the world―the Cornerstone called the Name of All Things. And if Janel is right, then there may be nothing in the world that can stop Relos Var from getting what he wants.

And what he wants is Kihrin D’Mon.

Title : The Name of All Things
Author : Jenn Lyons
Series : A Chorus of Dragons (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 589
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Tor Books
Release Date : October 29, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★

Hollis’ 2 star review

As excited as I was by the culmination and events at the end of book one, I’ll admit to some trepidation when we kicked off book two with yet another kind of storytelling. This time it’s a form of backstory for a character we sorta met, sorta didn’t, in book one and it is obviously setting the scene for our path forward but.. I wasn’t as impressed. Particularly as the new place we found ourselves in for the majority of the book had a strange cultural paradigm involving horses. Some of it was interesting, their take on gender and sex, particularly as it related to politics and caste, for once wasn’t mired in sexism or nepotism, and I liked that, however I got a little tired of all the “stallions” and “mares” and “foals” as monikers. And no, I’m not joking, that’s what they called each other. Endlessly.

Once again, it took about until the 75/80% mark to get to where the filling-in-backstory bit ended and the action, again, began. And as to how I felt about all said backstory? It felt a little convenient. I had hoped after all the deaths in book one we wouldn’t be revisiting certain events, and certainly not certain characters, but Janel ended up entwined with many many people that Kihrin had tussled with throughout book one and so it was a double whammy of having to go through some of what I thought we’d left behind and also side-eye over the convenience of it all. And a lot of it just felt too reminiscent of the arc of book one. Different themes, different situations, but still too much of the same. Particularly with those same characters popping in and out. And somehow, I don’t know if it’s because we’re supposed to believe all of this gets told in the span of a night, but the sense of time passage did not feel real, and I wonder if that’s because Lyons couldn’t even convince herself that all this had taken so long, just so it could line up with Kihrin’s timeline? I don’t know. But it was hard to picture it all.

Also, full stop, Janel is not remotely who I expected her to be based on that interaction in book one. I’m a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I like some of the aspects of her character, and she’s definitely being hyped up like whoa for a major purpose, but she’s turned out to be something different and I’ve still not adjusted. Six hundred pages later, even. But then again, Kihrin acted so unlike himself in this one, maybe because he had a supporting role (and a minor one at that) and so he felt out of place? In his own series? All the characters were a bit weird in this one, not going to lie. The healer priest was a broken record, Janel’s nurse was annoying as all get out, Nina was just constant walking suspicion until a certain point.. so, yeah, no real standout winners. In fact the only character I tolerated was the Big Bad. Made rooting for the good guys kind of hard, really.

So, yeah, for all this was once again very complex and clearly well thought-out (and I mean, that applies not just to the individual books at this point, it’s the whole series and world, full stop), I will admit I’m feeling less positive about this one than I did book one. I hate to say it was much of the same, because it wasn’t totally, but the devices used were similar enough, as was the road we seemed to travel, that I feel less satisfaction for the journey. But I’m still interested in the whole. I think. Or I’m just committed to finishing. Hoping, as ever, that the next yields better results!

THE HONEYS by Ryan La Sala

From Ryan La Sala, the wildly popular author of Reverie, comes a twisted and tantalizing horror novel set amidst the bucolic splendor of a secluded summer retreat.

Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline’s radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who’d grown tragically distant.

Mars’s genderfluidity means he’s often excluded from the traditions — and expectations — of his politically-connected family. This includes attendance at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy where his sister poured so much of her time. But with his grief still fresh, he insists on attending in her place.

What Mars finds is a bucolic fairytale not meant for him. Folksy charm and sun-drenched festivities camouflage old-fashioned gender roles and a toxic preparatory rigor. Mars seeks out his sister’s old friends: a group of girls dubbed the Honeys, named for the beehives they maintain behind their cabin. They are beautiful and terrifying — and Mars is certain they’re connected to Caroline’s death.

But the longer he stays at Aspen, the more the sweet mountain breezes give way to hints of decay. Mars’s memories begin to falter, bleached beneath the relentless summer sun. Something is hunting him in broad daylight, toying with his mind. If Mars can’t find it soon, it will eat him alive.

Title : The Honeys
Author : Ryan La Sala
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 344
Genre : YA horror / LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : PUSH
Release Date : August 16, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Hollis’ 4 star review

I am not sure what I expected from The Honeys so I can’t quite say this wasn’t it but.. this wasn’t it.

First of all, the writing? Incredible. La Sala had me hooked, nay entranced, buzzing to read the next word. Their descriptions, the voice, the power of it all, the uncertainty woven into the narration via the story, it was all so so well done. And that’s saying nothing of the story itself.

Which, hah, I won’t really be going into. This is one to go in with little to no knowledge except the v i b e s. So, secondly, said vibes? Excellent. This definitely is one of those slow-moving, creeping sideways in your direction, sidling up with a smile kind of reveals. And the whole time that’s happening? You’re in Mars’ head, dealing with having to revisit a place he was horribly bullied, in the aftermath of losing his sister, and trying to find out what led to everything falling apart. He is alone, without allies, grieving, and everything at Aspen is strange. The people there are either ignoring his existence, bullying him once more, or hiding things.

I loved pretty much every second of it.

There was, however, a moment where things took a turn. And for about two chapters (maybe less?) I thought this was going to take a hard nosedive. But La Sala pulled things off and while it did still take a hit out of some of my enjoyment, I think we’ve ended on a good note. I think. It’s all a bit strange, she says, as if that isn’t a huge understatement.

If you’re looking for a story with gender fluid rep, an incredibly beautiful journey through grief, some spooky weirdness, body horror, just full out strangeness, and a setting that’ll maybe have you side-eyeing both trees and bees, you should absolutely pick this one up.

I am so happy I was given the push to read this as one of my Twelve Books in Twelve Months challenge and if any of the above sounds like your thing, consider this your recommendation from me to give it a go.

NEVER NEVER by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

Charlie Wynwood and Silas Nash have been best friends since they could walk. They’ve been in love since the age of fourteen. But as of this morning… they are complete strangers. Their first kiss, their first fight, the moment they fell in love… every memory has vanished.

Now Charlie and Silas must work together to uncover the truth about what happened to them and why. But the more they learn about the couple they used to be… the more they question why they were ever together to begin with.

Forgetting is terrifying, but remembering may be worse.

Title : Never Never
Author : Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher
Format : Physical
Page Count : 416
Genre : New adult/thriller
Publisher : HQ Stories
Release Date : February 28, 2023

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5

Micky’s 4.5 star review

Amnesia cycling
Mysterious happenings
Family fall-out

I read part of this book years ago when it was released in novella parts but I never completed the reads. I jumped into this full release with high anticipation and it didn’t let me down; nor did I recall any of it.

Charlie and Silas were a messed up pair. Messed up by deep family drama, pressure from said family and you could say they weren’t that likeable. The start of this book, took my breath away with a deep hook of mystery and that hook was embedded in my brain for the couple of days reading it. The less you know about this book before entering the better, I think.

This book was part-thriller, part romance with lots of suspense. I was kept guessing until quite near to the end and my theories were all wrong. I would have like more wrap up on ‘the shrimp’ (I hate to use that name but I’m trying to keep it vague). I thought the epilogue twist was great.

This duo did the deed well with this romantic thriller and it’s the kind of story that will stay in my mind. Highly recommended.

SWEEP OF THE HEART by Ilona Andrews

From the New York Times #1 bestselling author, Ilona Andrews, comes a fun and action-packed new adventure in the Innkeeper Chronicles! We invite you to relax, enjoy yourself, and above all, remember the one rule all visitors must obey: the humans must never know.

Life is busier than ever for Innkeeper, Dina DeMille and Sean Evans. But it’s about to get even more chaotic when Sean’s werewolf mentor is kidnapped. To find him, they must host an intergalactic spouse-search for one of the most powerful rulers in the Galaxy. Dina is never one to back down from a challenge. That is, if she can manage her temperamental Red Cleaver chef; the consequences of her favorite Galactic ex-tyrant’s dark history; the tangled politics of an interstellar nation, and oh, yes, keep the wedding candidates from a dozen alien species from killing each other. Not to mention the Costco lady.

They say love is a battlefield; but Dina and Sean are determined to limit the casualties!

Title : Sweep of the Heart
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Innkeeper Chronicles (book five)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 456
Genre : fantasy / sci-fi
Publisher : NYLA
Release Date : December 13, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★.5

Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Admittedly, this is not my favourite IA series but looking back I’ve given this series more four stars than I would’ve thought. Probably because somehow this author duo still manages to pull things off even if I’m not invested in the plot or as enamoured by the characters as I am for their other works. And also because this series takes more.. concentration, focus, and requires more push to make it through the events and (often) huge strange cast of characters involved. And this was no exception.

Book five in this series can basically be summed up as a intergalactic alien Bachelor extravaganza with all the expected politics and assassins one might expect. But Gertrude Hunt, Dina and Sean’s inn, along with their motley crew, are roped into hosting for the benefit of a favour. Also a nice little bump in rations and reputation if they manage to keep everyone alive.

While the events that take up 85% of the plot weren’t always interesting — I skimmed some of the long paragraphs of some of the dates or the backstory of some of the players — I was really fond of how it resolved. It gave me a bit of an inner squish.

Having said that, I don’t think I was fully prepared for the shift in the plot, once the favour was granted, because a few pages later I found myself crying over a house. Okay, crying sounds dramatic, but I got choked up and felt weepy about it. I’ll admit I did predict some of the reveal but nevertheless it still had impact.

So, yeah, is this my favourite world? No, but it’s creative as hell. Is this my favourite couple? Absolutely not, unfortunately I don’t find either of them all that charismatic or interesting, though the events and circumstances around them can be; and I dig the magic system. But I am invested in the big mystery of the piece and it seems like we’re finally getting closer to that. I have no idea what the longterm plan is in the sense of forecasted length for this series but I’ve yet to give up on anything IA and I’m not starting now.

EXES AND O’S by Amy Lea

A romance novel–obsessed social media influencer revisits her exes on her hunt for true love in this romantic comedy from the author of Set On You.

Romance-novel connoisseur Tara Chen has had her heart broken ten times by ten different men–all of whom dumped her because of her “stage-five clinger” tendencies. Nevertheless, Tara is determined to find The One. The only problem? Classic meet-cutes are dead thanks to modern dating apps. So Tara decides to revisit her exes in hopes of securing her very own trope-worthy second-chance romance.

Boston firefighter Trevor Metcalfe will be the first to rush into a burning building but the last to rush into a relationship. Love just isn’t his thing. When his new roommate Tara enlists him to help her reconnect with her exes, he reluctantly agrees. But Tara’s journey is leading him to discover his own new chapter.

The more time they spend together, the more Tara realizes Trevor seems to be the only one who appreciates her authentic, dramatic self. To claim their happily-ever-after, can Tara and Trevor read between the lines of their growing connection?

Title : Exes and O’s
Author : Amy Lea
Series : The Influencer #2
Format : eARC/Physical
Page Count : 398
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Viking Books
Release Date : January 10, 2023

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 4 star review

The humble guy
The clinger
Bookstagramming and plants

There was so much to just enjoy in this second book in The Influencer series. For me, this was a stronger read than book one. Getting to know Tara as a main character, even though we’d met her before in book one, revealed a rather desperate side to her need to be partnered. She knew this about herself but didn’t seem one iota in control of the level 10 desperation.

Tara moved in with Trevor to give Scotty and Crystal their space and a pairing two very different roommates. Trevor was in the no-commitment club and Tara was planning baby names for the yet to be named partner’s offspring. The friendship between these two made for a beautiful read. Bookstagramming and plants were part of the evolving connection as were romantic tropes. The story made me laugh…a lot and while Tara had moments of annoyance, Trevor pulled me through.

I loved how Tara got Trevor to open up and the eventual succumbing to something more was pretty satisfying to read. It felt somewhat slow-burning, it was built over time and it felt authentic.

Exes and O’s has me anticipating whatever book three will be.

Thank you to Viking Books for the review copy.


Combining scientific facts with the art of poetry, this is a humorous and educational picture book about animals that look alike.

How do you tell a llama from an alpaca, an alligator from a crocodile, or a dolphin from a porpoise? The animal kingdom is full of creatures that look so similar to others that they are often confused for each other. A Llama Is Not an Alpaca pairs rhyming animal riddles with factual responses to both teach and engage young readers as they compare and contrast features of commonly misidentified animals. How many will you get right?! 

Title : A Llama Is Not an Alpaca : And Other Mistaken Animal Identities
Author : Karen Jameson & Lorna Scobie
Format : physical
Page Count : 30
Genre : children’s picture book
Publisher : Running Kids Press
Release Date : March 7, 2023

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 

Hollis’ 3 star review

I definitely thought this was going to be a funnier compilation of animal facts and comparisons to their dopplegangers as opposed to just facts but that’s likely the adult in me. I’m sure said facts are going to be a whole new fascinating world to young’uns. What I can say, though, is that the art is gorgeously colourful and drawn in a very lovely way, too.

I don’t really know how to review this beyond saying that my niece glommed onto this right away (she’s a bookie so I’m not too surprised; what can I say, she’s being raised right!) and the feedback I received from her parents was definitely positive; it also included photographic proof of her held in thrall by the pictures. And if nothing else it gives them something new in the book-at-bedtime rotation.

So I guess we’re calling that a win!

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

THE VILLA by Rachel Hawkins

From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set at an Italian villa with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.

As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.

Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.

Title : The Villa
Author : Rachel Hawkins
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 279
Genre : mystery / thriller
Publisher : St. Martin’s Press
Release Date : January 3, 2023

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★

Hollis’ 3 star review

The Villa gave me Fleetwood Mac/Daisy Jones & The Six vibes mashed up with the very real summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at a Lake Geneva castle (aka where Frankenstein was conceived) with a dash of The Haunting of Hill House. Or maybe just any horror with a creepy house, that one’s just my favourite. There’s also an element at play I won’t try and comp for fear of spoilers. Despite all those excellent references to things and or peoples, many of which I adore, I didn’t adore the book. And I didn’t find it all that gripping — evidenced by the fact that I started this a week ago and put it down and forgot about it. But, when I did pick it back up, I read it right through to the end. Mostly to see if there would be twists and what they would be; besides the obvious ones.

So I guess, if you want an easy read (it’s short, too), with maybe a surprise or two along the way, you could do worse!

The highlights for me? The dual timeline. This flips between the seventies and present day — the former of which leads up to a time before a scandal rocked the world, and the latter detailing a girl’s weekend at the very house said scandal took place. I liked the past timeline a lot more than the present but I think it was because the present day protagonist’s best friend just irritated me. Hawkins did a great job writing Chess’ character and even though I don’t know anyone like her, I think we all sorta know someone like her. And also I suppose I expected something a little more insidious to occur? Which I suppose could apply to the past timeline, too. I almost think the bright cheerful cover squeezed some of the spooky darkness out of the whole story. This could’ve been way darker. Even the final twist, one I’m not sure I liked, took some of that punch out of everything. I’m left feeling quite strange about it all.

But maybe the true insidiousness is how everything is left up in the air with Emily and Chess and what their life now looks like after it all?

I’m looking forward to reading through some reviews and seeing where folks landed on this one. It’s not quite a disappointment because my investment was low — I keep middle of the road’ing this author’s books but I’m constantly reeled in by the premises — but I do hope Hawkins pushes the envelope a little more one day because I think that’ll be the one that’s a hit with me.

All in all, not a bad way to spend some time, especially if you’re tired of looking out the window at the (I assume..) dreary winter landscape and want to imagine yourself in Italy for a while.


When destiny calls, there’s no fighting back.

Kihrin grew up in the slums of Quur, a thief and a minstrel’s son raised on tales of long-lost princes and magnificent quests. When he is claimed against his will as the missing son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds himself at the mercy of his new family’s ruthless power plays and political ambitions.

Practically a prisoner, Kihrin discovers that being a long-lost prince is nothing like what the storybooks promised. The storybooks have lied about a lot of other things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, and how the hero always wins.

Then again, maybe he isn’t the hero after all. For Kihrin is not destined to save the world.

He’s destined to destroy it.

Title : The Ruin of Kings
Author : Jenn Lyons
Series : A Chorus of Dragons (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 560
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Tor Books
Release Date : February 5, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★

Hollis’ 3 star review

Remember that feeling you had when you first watched season one of The Witcher? How nothing made sense and things seemed out of order and confusing? Yeah. This is that times a bajillion. It also has that Tamsyn Muir Harrow the Ninth kind of wtf’ery going on but because this was book one, and I hadn’t already fallen in love with the characters, and understood (a tiny tiny bit of) the worldbuilding, it was.. hard. I almost gave up many many times in the first 30%. And bearing in mind the length of this novel, that’s a lot of pages. Every percent (throughout the whole reading, not just the beginning) was hard earned.

But here we are. I made it. And I am definitely reading on.

Demons and monsters are obvious; we’ll always band together to fight them off. But real evil, insidious evil, is what lets us just walk away from another person’s pain and say, well, that’s none of my business.”

It’s hard to say if the battles would be worth the war for another reader because the series is far (if you consider the upcoming page lengths in my future, far far far far x a lot) from over. And I still do not have a handle on all the things going on. Not only is this a dense fantasy and told in alternating timelines but it is so complex. Not just politically either it’s.. there are so many confusions with who is really who, when they were those people, who they are now, the origins of the bloody world which definitely still play a part, the gods, the various races, the.. yeah. There were many a time I just had to stop and close my eyes because my brain was crying out in pain. But the more you read, the more you trick yourself into thinking maybe you’re following things. Or, rather, when you finally get to where the narration catches up with the plot, it’s very action packed, and you have been distracted by the new bit of shiny that is a different narrative style and also, well, in theory you will be able to follow the climax better. And it’s true, you will.

But also so many people die at the end of this book that there’s hope some of the details won’t hold as much relevance for future plots. Though I’m sure that’s a vain hope because there’ll be more things to keep track of, and more people and new conflicts arising from said things and people, as we go on.

So, yes, this was a weird experience. It felt like I was reading it for an eternity and not in a great way. But there’s still a lot to be interested in and a lot that was interesting and clever and it’s hopefully all going to be worth it in the end. Having said that, I had thought to binge this series but hahahah no. I cannot. That might very well break me. But I do hope to continue soon before too many details fade.