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THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL by Abbi Waxman – double review!

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.


Title : The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Author : Abbi Waxman
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : women’s fiction, contemporary
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : July 9, 2019

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

As Neil Gaiman once memorably said, “books were safer than other people, anyway.”

THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL has an adorable cover, a ridiculously appealing plot, and overall seemed to cater directly to my interests and needs. I mean, it’s about a bookish woman who likes being alone, has a cat, and works in a bookstore (to which I say #goals), so, I mean, this was ringing all my bells and checking all my boxes.

In public Nina was a quiet, reserved person; in private she was an all-singing, all-dancing cavalcade of light and motion. Unless she was a quivering ball of anxiety, because that was also a frequently selected option.

And for the first 50%, I was convinced this would be a strong, even high, four star read. Nina is quirky and organized, anxious and intelligent, sassy and shy, also a total snob (which I can’t say I loved but it felt authentic), and just.. relatable. I could see myself in her, the good and the bad, and yet it wasn’t the painful kind of self-reflection, or too campy and therefore cheesy or caricature-like. The narration was witty and fun and was constantly throwing random trivia and stream-of-consciousness tangents at you and I was having a great time.

It’s hard to be human sometimes, with the pressure to be civilized lying only very thinly over a brain of a nervous little mammal.

Nina had a maybe hate-crush on a member of an opposing trivia team, she voiced her cat, Phil’s, thoughts, and suddenly, after being a single-parent child her whole life, a lawyer pops out of nowhere and drops a dead dad on her. In the sense that she’s inherited a family and possibly something else, too, but she’ll need to go to the will reading to find out.

“Do you young people actually date anymore, or do you run algorithms to see if it’s going to work?”

And so begins this really strange and charming discovery of this huge extended family, people so like her and also different, and reconciling this found-yet-related mass of people into her world view after thirty-plus years of living and being on her own. Throw in a love interest and it’s all sorts of emotions.

Life can throw you major curveballs, but it’s rare you can do much more than duck.

Most of which were good and fun to work through. Even the confusing ones felt natural. I just think that eventually we did cross a line into a sorta campy OTT strange drama where warring businesses threw ice cream at each other in the streets and some of Nina’s charm kind of wore off and overall, with maybe one or two exceptions, I just wasn’t as fond of the second half as the rest of the book. Some of it felt cliche, after having otherwise felt very fresh and different, and the ending in particular just didn’t land for me. 

Do lesbians do this?”
Send dick pics? Only if we’re breaking up with someone and want to make sure they block our number forever.

THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL has a lot of great moments — tons of one liners and hilarious observations and I highlighted many many a passage. This book will definitely hook you from the start. I just wish I had loved it the same amount by the end.

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


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This book was full of appeal for any booklover and Nina was a relatable protagonist in terms of her love for books. Nina was quirky, nerdy, anxiety-ridden, something of a loner but she was actually much better with people than she perceived.

THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL had depth and complexity but this was offset by humour, quips and banter. Nina’s inner monologue was insightful into her psyche but also pretty funny at times.

Nina tried to pull herself together. She’d been irritable all week. Either her period was coming or she had a brain tumor, and at that moment the tumor felt more appealing, which probably meant it was her period.

The story was overwhelmingly about finding family and for Nina this was a first. Her evolving relationships with Archie and Peter were my favourities but I also appreciated Millie and Lydia. The family were almost farciscal in their make up and they were rather fun to watch interact.

There is a lowish-level romance in this book with Tom from a rival quiz team, it made for cute reading but I really did want more from this aspect of the story. I felt somewhat disconnected from their own connection.

There were some pacing issues in this read for me, slow parts leading to more faster-moving scenes. I would have preferred a more active pace throughout the book.

Overall, this was a good read and I think this could be categorised as women’s fiction or romance but again, it was less on the romantic front for that genre.

I voluntarily read an early copy of this book, thank you netgalley and the publisher.


WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.


Title : Wilder Girls
Author : Rory Power
Format : ARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA LGBTQ+ dystopian horror
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : July 9, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

WILDER GIRLS has left me with oh so many questions. I want so much more from this world. So there better be a second book on the horizon.. and, because I’m not sure there is, that’s why I’m hesitant to round this up to a full four. Because if this is just the end? Part of me is going to be maaaaad.

But on to the story.

There is such a stark, almost hopeless, beauty to this world. A casual kind of horror. A strange, uncertain, weirdness that you just can’t look away from. Oh, and, if any kind of unnatural physical deformations trigger or weird you out, you may not want to read this one.

WILDER GIRLS is a story about this school full of girls quarantined for their own safety — or maybe the safety of the rest of the world, more accurately. It’s been two years since the outbreak and no one has answers. They are barely surviving on the delivery of food they receive and the girls continue to die from Tox flare ups which seem to happen seasonally. But they continue on, they endure. Until Hetty’s best friend disappears.

I knew going into this that the story would have a sapphic romance and I both love and hated it; I loved it because it was complicated and a little messy and I hated it because there wasn’t enough of it because it was complicated and kind of messy. But it was beautiful, too. I wish we had had a bit more character development in Hetty; she was our main POV and I felt I understood her the least, in some ways. But I think, too, we maybe aren’t supposed to know too much about these characters. Not for who they are, but maybe for what they represent?

This is a weird world that feels only half formed, which makes sense because we know so little, but the bits we do discover by the end were really interesting. I just need more because.. where do we go from here? What happens to Hetty and Reese and Byatt? What happens to the world around them? 

And then I wonder.. should we just take this story as something more allegorical and focus less on the specifics, and wanting more, and instead just appreciate what this author wants us to take from the story? I suppose that’s up for interpretation, like all things. But I choose to do both. Look at the bigger picture and still want more.

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

THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER by Lena Kaaberbol

Up on the blog today is Micky’s review of The Shamer’s Daughter, a MG-YA fantasy

Dina has unwillingly inherited her mother’s gift: the ability to elicit shamed confessions simply by looking into someone’s eyes. To Dina, however, these powers are not a gift but a curse. Surrounded by fear and hostility, she longs for simple friendship.

But when her mother is called to Dunark Castle to uncover the truth about a bloody triple murder, Dina must come to terms with her power–or let her mother fall prey to the vicious and revolting dragons of Dunark. 


Title : The Shamer’s Daughter
Author :  Lena Kaaberbol
Series : The Shamer Chronicles
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 202
Genre : MG/YA
Publisher : Pushkin Press
Release Date : July 4, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER leans more towards middle grade reading than YA but it is an engaging story with an unusual special-power characteristic that I’ve not come across before in fantasy literature.

Dina was the daughter of a shamer and in this fantastical kingdom, shamers were used to get a confession for heinous crimes. So while people were frightened of shamers, they were also respected from a distance. Dina had inherited her mother’s gift.

What started off as 11 year old Dina making sense of her young life and altered friendships since her gift had manifested, quickly merged into an intruiging tale that put her family at risk. There were dragons, prisons, friendships and deceit. Dina’s gift was put to the test and she showed a tenacious ability to problem-solve and survive.

This is a fast-paced read, quite exciting and definitely appealing to a younger YA market and middle grade readers. This is a series starter that is likely to leave readers ready to jump into the next books. With books 2&3 being published imminently and book 4 on it’s way, there won’t be a long wait for the story to evolve. THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER has a visually catching cover that has a theme caught by the following books.

Thank you Puskin Press for the finished copy to review.

THE AU PAIR by Emma Rous

Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.


Title : The Au Pair
Author : Emma Rous
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 360 pages
Genre : Suspense
Publisher : Piatkus, Little Brown Book UK
Release Date : 11 July 2019

Reviewer :  Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

They say lies make for a tangled web but I don’t think I was prepared for the knotted mess that this story played out to be. This tale was carefullly plotted out with a cluster of circumstances that were crazy good reading.

Told in past and present and through two main POVs of Laura and Seraphine who narrated the story. In the past, the story focused on Ruth and Dominic, a married couple, their friend Alex, their au pair, their son, Ruth’s mother….I could go on. The tale in the present focused on Ruth and Dominic’s children, trying to find the truth behind events 25 years ago. It was everything intruiging and the author cleverly drip fed information on a need to know basis.

From early on in the story, I was guessing, this and that. In the long run, I made some good guesses, some that I went on to disregard turned out to be founded in some truth. The story built and built with dramatic but believable turns, culminating in the past and present clashing in a revealing way.

THE AU PAIR was a well-written suspense, leading the reader on in semi-darkness but making it almost impossible to put the book down. I felt satisfied in the culmination and I would definitely read Emma Rous again. Highly recommended.

Thank you to Piatkus and Little Brown Books UK for the review copy.

PAN’S LABYRINTH : THE LABYRINTH OF THE FAUN by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke

Oscar winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke come together to transform del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth into an epic and dark fantasy novel for readers of all ages, complete with gorgeous and haunting illustrations.

This book is not for the faint of heart or weak in spirit. It’s not for skeptics who don’t believe in fairy tales and the powerful forces of good. It’s only for brave and intrepid souls like you, who will stare down evil in all its forms.

Inspired by the critically acclaimed film written and directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and reimagined by New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke, this haunting tale takes readers to a darkly magical and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous men, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.

Perfect for fans of the movie and readers who are new to del Toro’s visionary work, this atmospheric and absorbing novel is a portal to another universe where there is no wall between the real and the imagined. A daring, unforgettable collaboration between two brilliant storytellers.


Title : Pan’s Labyrinth : The Labyrinth of the Faun
Author : Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke
Format : ARC
Page Count : 262
Genre : YA fantasy horror / retelling
Publisher : Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date : July 2, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, I totally thought this was an MG story and hahahaha no.

I don’t know about the rest of you but when I think Pan’s Labyrinth I think [insert creepy dude with eyes in the palms of his hands here]. I only saw the movie once, a million years ago, and I thought this was an extension of the story or just inspired by it. But from what I understand (because I sure don’t remember enough to say for certain) is that this is an expanded, additionally layered, version of the movie itself.

Which should tell you who should or should not be reading this.

This is classified as YA I think but it is quite dark, if not considered outright horror, but it’s not just the fantastical elements that are dark. It’s the human elements, too. The brutalities done not only by bad men during times of war but bad men, period, who need no excuse.

There is melancholy and bitterness and grief and loneliness and yet the enduring belief in magic, in fairytales, in hope, too. The story is both bleak and yet also whimsical, captivatingly creative and cringey creepy, and the illustrations were just gorgeous.

This book consumed me and I loved every moment.

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

RAZE by Roan Parrish

Sometimes the walls we build to save ourselves have to come tumbling down.

For the last ten years, Huey has built his life around his sobriety. If that means he doesn’t give a damn about finding love or companionship for himself, well, it’s probably better that way. After all, the last thing he wants is to hurt anyone else. Until Felix Rainey walks into his bar, fresh-faced, unbearably sweet–and, for some reason Huey can’t fathom, interested in him.

As the eldest of five kids, Felix Rainey spent his childhood cooking dinner, checking homework, and working after-school jobs. Now in his twenties, he’s still scrambling to make ends meet and wondering what the hell he’s doing with his life. When he meets Huey, he’s intimidated . . . and enamored. Huey’s strong and confident, he owns his own business–hell, he’s friends with rock stars. What could he ever see in Felix?

As Huey and Felix get closer, the spark catches and soon they can’t get enough of each other. But Huey’s worked hard to avoid intimacy, and Felix threatens his carefully constructed defenses. Huey realizes he needs to change if he wants to truly put his past behind him–and build a future with Felix.


Title : Raze
Author: Roan Parrish
Series : Riven (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 316
Genre : contemporary romance, LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Loveswept
Release Date : July 2, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I forgot you’re not supposed to bring up masturbation at the dinner table on the first date.
Yeah, that’s strictly second-date dinner convo.

Right off the bat, I have to say, this cover does not do Felix justice. I wasn’t really a fan of it to begin with but after seeing how the character was not only described but acted? There’s no match-up here whatsoever. But, having said that, at the end of the day it’s about the content, not the window dressing.

Felix seemed like a map folded up small and perfect that would sprawl when unfurled, and show you everything. And I..fuck, I wanted to see it.

This is easily my favourite series by Parrish and while RAZE didn’t match my love for RIVEN, and nor did REND, each book has been emotional, lovely, heart wrenching, beautiful, tough, real, all the things. Oh and swoony and sexy af. The author devastates with the simplest of things, like a hug, and exposes very real insecurities in her characters that I think everyone can immediately connect with. No matter their size or strength, no matter their fame or success, no matter what they’ve overcome or shouldered, each individual is struggling or hiding or avoiding something. Just like every day humans. And it’s this connection that makes these books, even set as they are around rockstars and the music industry, even only peripherally (at least since book one), so so easy to love. Just as it’s impossible not to love these imminently precious characters who, in some form or another, feel they aren’t worthy or deserving of love; or are just overlooked, maybe even just held back.. by outside forces or themselves. Never seen or pursued by the right person.

The problem with feeling so much pleasure, so much joy, so much contentment — with feeling so much, period — after so long spent feeling very little, was that I instantly craved more of it.

If you’re looking for sweetness and sexiness, with a solid foundation of grit and realness, I would definitely recommend this series.

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

RED, WHITE and ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston 🎧

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?


Title : Red White & Royal Blue
Author : Casey McQuiston
Narrator : Ramon de Ocampo
Format : Audiobook (OverDrive)
Time : 12 hours 15 minutes
Genre : Rom-com m/m
Publisher : Macmillan Audio
Release Date : 14 May 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

First of all, if you haven’t read Hollis’ review for this book, stop what you’re doing and read that first here. After all, that’s what made me want to read, well that and the constant prodding…I was getting a bit of a bruise.

I went into listening to this book with a dose of ‘help me with the hype’ and a slice of native Brit anti-monarchy (there are many of us, by the way). I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get past the issue of this being an English royal prince. Casey McQuiston gently herded me on board with how she dealt with the issue of the monarchy as an institution and more than anything, by writing Henry, “just as he was” (think Bridget Jones moment).

I challenge anyone not to be blown away by Henry and Alex but for me, most surprisingly, it was the humanity of Henry’s character that sold this story to my big, feeling heart from minute one to hour twelve. Henry was Prince stick-up-his-arse and pretty hilarious in this facet. Alex, the more down to earth of the two, was rude but also funny. These two, building a friendship and then building a relationship, were just about one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever read. My heart expanded with their poignant words and genuine connection.

The adversity these two have to traverse made for a fierce and heart-wrenching story. I have to say how I loved the author’s use of that vile rag, The Daily Mail. It truly is a publication without scruples or heart and was rightly placed to play a role in what happened. My heart and mind rode the roller coaster with Henry and Alex, I mentally wore a supportive T-shirt and waved a flag. I felt a lull as this book reached it’s culmination and the last 10% lost a little traction for me, but overall it was bloody fantastic.

The narration blew me away. Again, as a Brit, I had sceptacism regarding one narrator doing both British and American accents (also Mexican accents) but this guy HAD IT DOWN. He brought the banter, the dialogue and the love to life. Ramon de Ocampo will be on my audio searches now.

I feel a little late to the game on this, six weeks down the line, but I want to recommend the audio for this book. You will be invited in to the intimacy and brought to life by the humour.

EVERYTHING I DO (Outlaws #1) by MC Frank

Robin Hood is about to steal your heart.
A robber and a princess.
A girl disguised as a boy.
A medieval reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood packed with adventure, sacrifice and romance.

Robin Hood, hidden deep in the Sherwood Forest, is fighting to restore the crown to its rightful king, surrounded by faithful friends, green leaves and clear skies. Burdened with secrets, betrayal and an incredible responsibility, he struggles to stay alive and keep the starving people fed. One day, a boy saves him from the Sheriff’s poisoned arrows. Robin, impressed by the slender youth’s courage and skill, takes the boy with him to the forest.

Only, the boy is not a boy.

In the castle of Nottingham, a maid who used to be a princess is forced to obey the wishes of a tyrannical Sheriff. She dons on male clothes and trains to become a fierce assassin, vowing to catch the greatest criminal in the kingdom. But when she saves Robin Hood’s life nearly losing her own, she is rescued by the outlaws.

When Robin and the “boy” meet, two worlds collide, resulting in unimaginable danger and intense romance. Who will survive when they learn each other’s secrets? What happens when the assassin falls in love with her victim?

Filled with danger, intrigue and slow-burn passion, this is a Robin Hood story unlike any you have ever read before!


Title : Everything I Do
Author : MC Frank
Series : Outlaws #1
Format : .pdf
Page Count : 228
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : 17 April, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

I’m always interested in a retelling and Robin Hood contexts are few and far between. Add this to the gorgeous cover for EVERYTHING I DO and this was definitely something I wanted to read. I like it when retelling flip preconceptions on their head a little and this story did just that. Robin and his band of brothers were as expected but Ru, the main protagonist in this story was not what I expected.

This was a story of lies, deception, revenge, pain and integrity. The alternating POVs were welcome. It took me some time to know Robin, his intentions and motivations. I was interested in the story but I didn’t always relate to the style of explaining everything in detail or completely believe the tangibility of the romantic connections. Sometimes I felt like the story went round in circles but the story did unfurl, finally revealing some answers but leaving the reader with questions.

All in all, it was a clever story with interesting characters and there is more to come with book two on the way.

Thank you to the author for a review copy.

LIMITED WISH by Mark Lawrence

One choice. Two possible timelines. And a world hanging in the balance.

It’s the summer of 1986 and reluctant prodigy Nick Hayes is a student at Cambridge University, working with world-renowned mathematician Professor Halligan. He just wants to be a regular student, but regular isn’t really an option for a boy-genius cancer survivor who’s already dabbled in time travel.

When he crosses paths with a mysterious yet curiously familiar girl, Nick discovers that creases have appeared in the fabric of time, and that he is at the centre of the disruption. Only Nick can resolve this time paradox before the damage becomes catastrophic for both him and the future of the world. Time is running out—literally.

Wrapped up with him in this potentially apocalyptic scenario are his ex-girlfriend, Mia, and fellow student Helen. Facing the world-ending chaos of a split in time, Nick must act fast and make the choice of a lifetime—or lifetimes.

Game on.


Title : Limited Wish
Author : Mark Lawrence
Series : Impossible Times (book two)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 222
Genre : YA sci-fi / historical fiction
Publisher : 47North
Release Date : May 28, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

LIMITED WISH was both a little bit deja vue, though slightly out of alignment from the first book, and also.. way more timey wimey wibbly wobbly than book one. We have converging timelines, paradoxes, choices, divergences.. honestly I didn’t understand half of it. At least half of it.

But everything that intrigued me from book one was still present, there was even more D&D, and things fell into place that allowed for some events from book one to come about. Yes, it’s confusing, I think that’s sorta the deal when you have time travel on the board.

There was a bit of a Sliding Doors-esque choice for our main protagonist to make in this installment. Each book has been named for a key piece of the plot and in this case it’s a wish. You won’t get everything you want and you might not get it for long, because the wish is limited. And that’s kind of where we are at the end of this one. I’m curious to see where we end up in the final book. Shockingly this whole trilogy is being released in one calendar year so I only have to wait until November to find out!

Meanwhile, these books have definitely solidified my interest in reading Lawrence’s other series, the Book of the Ancestor. So maybe I’ll get going on that while I wait.

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

WICKED FOX by Kat Cho

A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.


Title : Wicked Fox
Author Kat Cho
Series : Gumiho (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : YA paranormal/fantasy
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date : June 25, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating
: ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

This is a paranormal fantasy, with a heavy focus on Korean mythology, set in present day Seol. And boy did it hook me right away.

My mother says gumiho are always women because we gain our power from the moon.”
And what is a man?
Dinner.”

Honesty, the first 1/3rd of this book was nonstop delight. It was interesting, refreshing, funny, thrilling.. I loved both our heroine, a half-human half-nine-tailed fox — who chooses to siphon the life force from evil men to survive (unlike her mother, a full gumiho, who prefers to go straight for the liver) — and our plucky, clumsy, devil-may-care hero, who has the good (or bad, depending on your point of view) fortune to be rescued by her. 

[his grandmother] used to tell Jihoon stories about [goblins] tricking humans and nine-tailed foxes eating the livers of men. Horror stories camouflaged as fables to teach lessons. But those types of stories were supposed to stay in books, not come to life and almost choke him to death.

Both characters have endured the loss of parents and are variations of isolated or alone : Miyoung because she doesn’t fit in, and her mother has taught her to not stand out so as to never give herself away, and Jihoon who, despite having two good friends, just tends to keep things light, and on the surface, so he can’t be hurt by further loss. 

And your father is a gumiho, too?
He was human.”
Was? Is he dead?
How should I know? I’ve never met the guy.”
How dysfunctionally ordinary.”

I loved that, without feeling heavy handed about it, these characters also put the more typical fantasy gender stereotypes somewhat on their head. Miyoung is the one with the power, the strength, and she’s the one recusing the hero. But she’s also the monster.

When you’re constantly treated as a pariah, and labeled bad, you might begin living up to the expectation.”

Things get — extra — complicated when Miyoung’s bead, her soul, is separated from her body, and there are shamans, secrets, and betrayals galore. I especially enjoyed events right around this time, when Miyoung is trying to solve her problem without crossing her stern mother, when she’s trying to fend off Jihoon’s attempts at friendship, and all the funny little exchanges they have. But this book did kind of falter shortly after most of that early action and things felt pretty dragged out. This is also a pretty long book (over four hundred pages) so a long book was made to feel longer because stuff just.. isn’t happening?

If I die, it’s not for you. I’m dying for me.”

That said, I found the world effortless to lose myself in. The writing, the mythology, the worldbuilding, the chapters that showcased and told us of past Gumihos, it was all fascinating. The characters, too, I really liked and it was, at times, really funny. And while the middle did drag, I thought the ending captured some of that early magic for me, so I’ll definitely read on (not sure if this is a duology or a trilogy at this point).

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