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.

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.

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.

MAD ABOUT YOU by Mhairi McFarlane 🎧

Two strangers.
One big coincidence.
Driving each other crazy is just the beginning…

Harriet Hatley is running away from everything.

Getting married.
Her boyfriend’s family.
Her past.

A dream house-share seems like the perfect place to hide, but her unlikely housemate Cal is no stranger to running away himself. And he’s also hiding secrets of his own . . .

Can these two take a crazy risk, face the past and finally find a reason to stay?


Title : Mad About You
Author : Mhairi McFarlane
Narrator : Chloe Massey
Format : audiobook
Length : 10 hours, 15 minutes
Page Count : 422
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Harper Collins
Release Date : April 14, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Sarcastic wit
Chips are down
Coercive control

This story from McFarlane was equal parts sarcastic wit and life handing out crap one piece at a time. It started in one place and ended up in completely different location by the end. It took time for the themes of the story to emerge but they were valuable. Romance was very much on the backburner in this book.

The story centered around weddings, the endings of them, the photographing of them and a really impressive finale. Harriet was a likeable heroine, a hardy Yorkshire lass with the best Huddersfield accent on audio (I live 15 minutes away from that location and appreciated that so much). This tale took you on a mainly contemporary but sometimes retrospective journey of the past men in Harriet’s life and it wasn’t pretty.

Emotional abuse in the form of coercive control was a important part of this story and it’s a theme I welcome more about as it is so insidious in it’s form and difficult for victims to speak about and break free from. Bravo, Mhairi for this.

Overall, I wouldn’t say this was a fun read but it was absorbing and enjoyable. Excellent narration.

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the audio review copy.

MY MECHANICAL ROMANCE by Alexene Farol Follmuth

Nerds are so hot.
Especially battle robot building nerds.

Bel would rather die than think about the future. College apps? You’re funny. Extracurriculars? Not a chance. But when she accidentally reveals a talent for engineering at school, she’s basically forced into joining the robotics club. Even worse? All the boys ignore Bel—and Neelam, the only other girl on the team, doesn’t seem to like her either.

Enter Mateo Luna, captain of the club, who recognizes Bel as a potential asset—until they start butting heads. Bel doesn’t care about Nationals, while Teo cares too much. But as the nights of after-school work grow longer and longer, Bel and Teo realize they’ve built more than just a combat-ready robot for the championship: they’ve made space for each other and themselves.

This sharply funny, academic rivals to lovers romance explores both the challenges girls of color face in STEM and the vulnerability of first love with unfailing wit and honesty.


Title : My Mechanical Romance
Author : Alexene Farol Follmuth
Format : eARC
Page Count : 272
Genre : YA contemporary romance
Publisher : Holiday House
Release Date : May 31, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

Okay, before the three star scares anyone else, please note, this was really cute. And the enjoyable parts were very enjoyable. There is a good chunk of diversity, this is STEM-focused, and, for something a little different, it’s engineering kinda sorta Big Hero 6 style with combat robotics. Very fun. Overall I think this is also likely very relatable on the subject of expectations for YA-aged kids transitioning into college, etc, too. Especially these days.

“Sometimes I think I’d rather be forty and wondering where my life went instead of seventeen and relentlessly hounded about my future. I can’t wait for my life of quiet desperation so I can finally meditate on all the ways I wasted my precious youth.”

So with all that goodness, why not a higher rating? Truthfully I don’t know. There was just something.. missing. I don’t know if I wanted the rival-flavoured dislike (not quite hate) to go on longer or not because I really liked how they warmed up to each other. I appreciated, too, that it wasn’t all easy fun joy within the robotics group itself. There were contentious relationships and dynamics and that felt very real. It wasn’t just outsiders (notably other boys) who made life difficult, and judged, the female MC for being involved, it was also the other girl in the group. And her reasons do eventually become revealed and are valid. Not 100% but like.. even the female MC comes around to it. It worked.

She’s acting like she knows me, and I feel like that’s not fair. I’ve been enjoying getting to know her, but apparently to her I’m nothing new.

But between those conflicts, the pressure the male MC had pressing down on his shoulders from those around him, and particularly his parents, it was again very real. Though of course I liked this particular style of conflict less. But I can’t say it really soured the whole enjoyment.. I don’t think?

You’re new, you know? You’re like this new colour I didn’t know existed and now I see it everywhere and I’m like, thank god I can see it now. Such a bummer if I never did.”

See, honestly, I don’t know what was missing, or what maybe hit a wrong note (maybe it just could’ve been longer? maybe something could’ve been better fleshed out, more time with the secondary support so they felt a tiny bit more like their own persons? maybe, as I ponder this more, everything was just a little too.. surface) but regardless I think this is definitely worth your time if you’re interested in picking it up.

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

A RIP THROUGH TIME by Kelley Armstrong

In this series debut from New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong, a modern-day homicide detective finds herself in Victorian Scotland—in an unfamiliar body—with a killer on the loose.

May 20, 2019: Homicide detective Mallory is in Edinburgh to be with her dying grandmother. While out on a jog one evening, Mallory hears a woman in distress. She’s drawn to an alley, where she is attacked and loses consciousness.

May 20, 1869: Housemaid Catriona Mitchell had been enjoying a half-day off, only to be discovered that night in a lane, where she’d been strangled and left for dead . . . exactly one-hundred-and-fifty years before Mallory was strangled in the same spot.

When Mallory wakes up in Catriona’s body in 1869, she must put aside her shock and adjust quickly to the reality: life as a housemaid to an undertaker in Victorian Scotland. She soon discovers that her boss, Dr. Gray, also moonlights as a medical examiner and has just taken on an intriguing case, the strangulation of a young man, similar to the attack on herself. Her only hope is that catching the murderer can lead her back to her modern life . . . before it’s too late.

Outlander meets The Alienist in Kelley Armstrong’s A Rip Through Time, the first book in this utterly compelling series, mixing romance, mystery, and fantasy with thrilling results.


Title : A Rip Through Time
Author : Kelley Armstrong
Series : A Rip Through Time (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : mystery / sci-fi / historical fiction
Publisher : Minotaur Books
Release Date : May 31, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

Once upon a time I used to associate Armstrong with paranormal novels. Now not only are detective/mystery plots her speciality but she seems to be using time travel a lot, too. Not that I’m complaining..

This one veers in a different direction from her last time travel story and whereas that was a romance this has none to speak of — though.. maybe set up for something in the future? there were glimmers — due to some complicated dynamics but also the strangeness of the whole situation Mallory suddenly finds herself in. One minute, it’s 2019 and she’s a detective on leave in Edinburgh, just out for a jog. Next, she wakes up after having been attacked, but it’s 1869 and she finds herself in the body of an unrecognizable housemaid. Not only does she have to quickly adjust, adapt, and come up with a plausible reason for being confused and out of sorts (beyond being attacked), but she also has to solve her own case; and the case of a local murder or two.

If this had been a standalone, well, a) that would’ve been a very unsatisfying ending (but it also would’t have ended that way) and b) this would be a very different rating. It’s still not as high as I think it might be in the future because, now that we have the set-up out of the way, and know our cast of characters, I think the next book (books?) will be very very good. I really enjoyed both siblings that Mallory finds herself, as Catriona, working for — one is a funeral director (well, what passes for one in the times) and also has a side hustle with the police as a medical examiner, and the other is more or less a chemist. Both intelligent, if a little unusual, for the times and for even more reasons than I’ve mentioned (leaving some surprises for you). Another character is the local criminal investigator who is also a friend to both.

It was fascinating to see Armstrong, through Mallory, try and determine what criminology and forensic sciences were already at work at the time and navigate the conversations and investigations with her own knowledge while, somehow, trying to make it fit. She didn’t always succeed, and often surprised those around her, but I think that made it more believable. I always side-eye a story that has the time traveler way too prepared to blend in to new surroundings.

While the mystery and reason behind why Mallory was attacked in the first place, and why she continued to be targeted, was kind of.. well, not exciting, I also respect having this kind of storyline play out. So often we expect big nefarious reasons for these crimes but rarely are they so dramatic.

So, yes, overall I had a good time with this but I’m very glad we got this stage of the story out of the way and now things can get even better. Can’t wait to see what adventures await this ensemble in the coming books.

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

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