THE ONE FOR YOU by Roni Loren – double review!

The highly-anticipated fourth book in Roni Loren’s unforgettable The Ones Who Got Away series.

She got a second chance at life.
Will she take a second chance at love?

Kincaid Breslin wasn’t supposed to survive that fateful night at Long Acre when so many died, including her boyfriend—but survive she did. She doesn’t know why she got that chance, but now she takes life by the horns and doesn’t let anybody stand in her way

Ashton Isaacs was her best friend when disaster struck all those years ago, but he chose to run as far away as he could. Now fate has brought him back to town, and Ash doesn’t know how to cope with his feelings for Kincaid and his grief over their lost friendship. For Ash has been carrying secrets, and he knows that once Kincaid learns the truth, he’ll lose any chance he might have had with the only woman he’s ever loved.


Title : The One For You
Author : Roni Loren
Series : The One Who Got Away (book four)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date : December 31, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

Well, we’ve come to the final book in this story. This series was one I had such huge expectations for, and I’m not quite sure why. There have definitely been emotional moments, multiple in each book, because the topic of grief and guilt surrounding surviving a school shooting is just so real. This is a tough subject and, really, so much of it, in each book, has been done so well. Not every couple, or romance, always worked for me, and the same applies to this final book, but overall I like that Loren took the risk to tackle something like this.

Will it be a series I recommend or reread? The latter, no, the former, maybe? I think it’s worth exploring for readers and, I mean, if you want feels and angst, there’s plenty. Also it offers up HEAs for survivors who have taken back their lives after going through something horrific. No matter the details, that’s worth respecting.

I think, out of all of them, this may have been my favourite of the series as far as the couple went. I won’t say it is without some of the same pitfalls or irritations found in other contemporary romances, but for the most part I love how these two fit. I didn’t love some of the revisionist history near the end, the cutesy bow on the already-solidified happy ending, so that did sour things a little, but the ending itself was pretty strong and powerful and was a nice chapter to close on the overall story for these four women.

These books weren’t my first experience with Loren and while this wasn’t quite a homerun series for me that I thought it would be, I would definitely pick her up again.

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


Micky’s 4 star review

THE ONE FOR YOU was a strong finale to this series that I have enjoyed overall. For me, this final book was as enjoyable as the first book, my other favourite in the series. It has been good to see completion of all the characters from Long Acre and catch up on those from previous books.

This story took some getting into for me. I liked the storyline immediately, both the characters of Kincaid (who I’ve liked from the other books) and Ash were engaging but I found the pacing off initially. It picked up some speed of execution around the 30% mark and then I didn’t look back.

Kincaid have both a second chance and friends to more thing going on. Both these elements were complicated, their friendship however was lovely and that was their safe place. I enjoyed the slow build of chemistry and how these two came together. However, all elements of their relationship remained complex.

Ash was a bit of a contradiction in characteristics at times which was fun. On the one hand, supporter, passive and on the other, ready to punch someone in defence of Kincaid and dominant in other ways. He felt unpredictable and I liked that. The story of these two had a predictable feel but it didn’t stop my enjoyment. However, we did get some twists from the past that I didn’t see coming and found pretty jaw dropping. There were some lose ends to parts of this story that I wanted a bit more of like Ash’s parents.

The full circle of this story and the four books was like finishing a long journey. I was pleased to get to the destination but I enjoyed the scenary along the way. I’ve enjoyed the topic of a high school shooting affecting people in the long term as a back drop to this series, it’s felt pretty unique in the genre.

Thank you to Sourcebooks for the early review copy.

LOVE LETTERING by Kate Clayborn – double review!

In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts one woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .


Title : Love Lettering
Author : Kate Clayborn
Format : ARC/ebook
Page Count : 320
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Kensington Books
Release Date : December 31, 2019

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


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This is a hard review to write because I want to get it right. Why I loved this. How extraordinary the writing is, the moments we were given, shown, even the ones that were hidden until they were ready to be told.

To me, this a love story for all the people who were told they were mistakes or were mistaken, and even felt it in themselves. Who never got a do-over, never got a second chance, or the opportunity to explain themselves. It’s a quiet story, in a way, one that just goes along with things.. until it doesn’t.

I’ll preface this, a little belatedly, by saying that if you don’t love a little whimsy in your novels, if you can’t use your imagination to bring something to mind, you might not always love this read. Fonts, lettering, as one might infer from the title, play a very big part. And I loved this. It offered a richness, a uniqueness, to the characters and this world — even if it is our own.

And speaking of the characters.. they were all, equally, in their own way, five stars. With exception to one obvious selection (Cameron) and one maybe not so obvious (not naming names, cough, Sibby, cough). Meg was a delight; watching her come into her own, every step she made, every mistake.. it was lovely. Reid, however, I almost have no words for. This is the most charming of all romance heroes. Not a grump, not an alpha, not a jerk. Just a giant, awkward, stoic creature. A total gentleman, a diehard math nerd, completely out of his element in almost every situation. He stole my heart, totally, and every interaction between them was just.. I want more.

Reid, did you make a joke?
Probably not. I’m not known for my sense of humour.

For such a quiet story, the plot of this did take me a bit by surprise, but in hindsight everything slots into place. Every t gets crossed, every i gets its dot. But the banter, the chemistry, the build up.. everything, was fantastic.

I hesitate to say more because, again, I really want to get this review right. I’m not sure I succeeded. Just know this book made me laugh, made me soft, made me gushingly share passages with a friend (who had already read it!) and, I mean, full stop, what better expresses a reader’s love than that? At this point, all I can say is : read this book.

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


Micky’s 2.5 star review

2.5 stars

saved this book for when I needed a go-to, guaranteed great romance. I had a number of friends singing it’s praises. Let me tell you, that backfired on me so bad. I’m not here to rant just to tell you why this didn’t work for me.

I was confused when by 20% I just did not get what was going on with this couple. I got that Meg was trying to engage Reid but what did Reid think he was there for? Reid was a super awkward character that I think may have had ASD (just my take, unconfirmed) and I really liked him. However, I felt like a spectator without a translator, missing half of the story and I promise, I was concentrating.

I can say I finally got into this a bit more by 60%, which is too much reading commitment for me to finally feel a bit of something. From there on I did feel chemistry with the MCs but overall, the story fell incredibly flat for me. Reid’s big secret seemed unnecessarily shoe-horned into the story but I’d lost my give-a-damn by then.

I’m sorry I missed what so many found special about this story, but it is what it is, a flop for me.

INSTACRUSH by Kate Meader

Theo Kershaw is the luckiest guy alive.

Roaring back from a life-threatening injury, he has the world at his skates as defenseman for his new team, the Chicago Rebels. Everyone adores his big personality, his on-ice talent, and his killer smile. Everyone but his prickly neighbor – or so he thinks. One chilly Christmas Eve, Theo will learn that maybe the girl next door isn’t such a hater after all …

Elle Butler is the most embarrassing person on the planet. 

How else can the ex-military-now-bartender explain her crush on the hot jock who lives across the hall? True, he has gorgeous green eyes and perfect cheekbones, but the filter between his brain and too-sexy mouth is permanently malfunctioning. Yet she can’t stop checking out his Instagram antics or sneaking looks at him when he’s in her bar. So. Mortifying. Running from a past filled with damning secrets, Elle’s determined that this guilty pleasure remains buried in her deepest fantasies.

Because she couldn’t possibly indulge with the Theo Kershaw or make a mistake that draws attention to her under-the-radar life. And she especially couldn’t be a mom to a pro-athlete’s baby … could she?


Title : Instacrush
Author : Kate Meader
Series : Rookie Rebels (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 319
Genre : sports contemporary romance
Publisher : Kate Meader LLC
Release Date : December 10, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

So, I wasn’t planning to review this officially because it’s sunday, almost Christmas (as I write this, it’s the twenty-second), and because we don’t really need blog content (gasp, yes, I said it). But then my mini GR review started to turn into, like, thoughts and so I just went with it.

This is book two in the Rookie Rebels series, a spin-off from the Chicago Rebels series, and reunites us with two obviously-going-to-start-something non-couple from the background of book one’s story, Elle Butler, army buddy of Levi Hunt’s, and now bartender at the local team’s bar, and Theo Kershaw, chatty sunshine defenseman with the bubble butt. And let me tell you, both of their backstories took me kinda by surprise.

This would’ve been an easy story to keep light and focus on the I-want-you-but-won’t-admit-to-it element that Elle had in regards to dealing with Theo. Instead we get a rockier history to Theo’s life, both with his upbringing and then with a major health scare, plus Elle’s got a lot of reasons for her toughness and walls; and they aren’t limited to just being in the army. I’ll admit her backstory was interesting because it was different, particularly for a sports contemporary romance, but there were also elements that felt a little unbelievable, much more in line with the soap opera storylines that a few of the players enjoy so much, and in general I felt Elle’s character arc to be less consistent. Whereas Theo was a joy and his ups and downs felt very true to form and appropriate to some of his growth.

Additionally there’s a plot element to this romance that is not my favourite, nor in how they were made to approach it, but. It didn’t piss me off, either, so, win?

What might have been my favourite part, beyond Theo and his Thirsty Instagram Stories, was catching up with all the familiar faces. I loved where some of their lives had gone, what they were doing, and I’m hella keen for Gunnar’s story as that’s clearly being set up for book three. I expect tons of angst and I want it. Particularly after this rather sugary book. Give me angst and feels.

This isn’t quite the awesome, dying seconds of overtime goal kind of winning story, but it was a fun way to pass a sunday afternoon. And I am keen to read on, so, another win.

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B.A. Paris 🎧

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie? 


Title : Behind Closed Doors
Author : BA Paris
Format : Audio
Length : 8 hours, 46 minutes
Genre : Domestic Thriller
Publisher : Macmillan Audio
Release Date : August 9, 2016

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 -4 star review

I don’t read many thrillers these days when once, thrillers were the only thing on my book menu! Anyway, I was in the middle of a book slump and fancied something totally different. Plus, I’m all about reading the backlog. This domestic thriller was told in past and present with a slowly unfurling and creepy story.

The focus of this story was Grace and her meeting, relationship and marriage to Jack. Grace had a sister with Down’s Syndrome and this meant a vulnerability from an exploitation perspective. Jack was the ‘perfect’ man but insidious psychopath; no one on the exterior would guess the depravity to his needs or behaviours. What was interesting to me was the lack of a physical element to the behaviours and therefore the author excelled at being able to convey the cruelty of mental and emotional torture.

It took time to build up to the true picture of what was going on behind the doors of the perfect house and perfect couple. The sceptical part of me remains amazed at any women who will give up their job and own identity for the love of any man. On the one hand, I felt Grace was a bit of a sap before the abuse but once that was in play, she was clearly purely a victim. There were times in this story that leaned towards the incredulous but the author seemed able to pull this back before it became too extreme.

I was surprised where the eventual plot of this book went, having felt a predictability at times, so colour me surprised at the twists. The audio kept me wrapped up in the story and I always wanted to get back to it on my commute and made excuses to myself to finish the audio. The narration was generally good. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and I will defintely read more by BA Paris.

TOP TEN READS OF 2019

Drum roll please.

Photo by Nicholas Goh on Unsplash

It is with much angst and wringing of hands that we present our Top Ten reads of 2019. We are not shoe-horning in an extra two, we have whittled it down to ten.


Micky’s Top Ten of 2019

EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER by Linda Holmes
BIRTHDAY by Meredith Russo
A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL by Eric Lindstrom
TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE by Becky Chambers
MAGIC RISES by Ilona Andrews
CRASH by Harper Dallas
NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff
A QUIET KIND OF THUNDER by Sara Barnard
AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones
REPEAT by Kylie Scott


Hollis’ Top Ten of 2019

RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston
BIRTHDAY by Meredith Russo
HEADLINERS by Lucy Parker
GET A LIFE, CHLOE BROWN by Talia Hibbert
HEATED RIVALRY by Rachel Reid
THROWN OFF THE ICE by Taylor Fitzpatrick
DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME by Mhairi McFarlane
GIDEON THE NINTH by Tamsyn Muir
TWEET CUTE by Emma Lord
LOVE LETTERING by Kate Clayborn


Have you made a top ten, top three or top fifty? Let us know some of your favourties.

AURORA RISING by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – double review!

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic. 


Title : Aurora Rising
Author : Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series : Aurora Cycle (book one)
Format : physical
Page Count : 472
Genre : YA scifi
Publisher : Knopf Books for Young Readers/Rock The Boat
Release Date : May 7, 2019

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

AURORA RISING, to me, feels like what would happen if the coupling of Firefly and The Expanse had a baby with the child of Star Trek and The Losers. That’s a lot of movie references, I know. But this felt like so many things, a total mashup of weird and snarky and creepy, and it just seems to.. fit.

That doesn’t mean it was a perfect or totally solid book. So many elements made it seem that way but I’ll admit this wasn’t as smooth as the author duo’s previous series and some things.. well, I mean, some disbelief has to be suspended, of course it does, but this was a fun read, a bit of a wild whacky ride, and it’ll make absolutely great tv (guess that’s why it’s been optioned!).

There was a lot of build-up, a lot of mystery, in this series opener and I have a feeling (and hope) that as a result of having some of the reveals out in the open, on the table, book two will feel tighter. Much I think of what dragged this down for me was just trying to make sense of things while also bouncing between a lot of POVs.

And speaking of POVs. With a less savvy writer team, these characters might’ve been nothing more than walking talking archetypes. And thankfully that wasn’t the case. They weren’t my favourite ensemble, I didn’t fall in love with the dynamic right away, but when they broke off into pairs, or smaller groups, it worked. Being in their heads, each time the shift felt unique, not same-y, and if I had favourites, welllll. Can you blame me? There’s definitely lots to explore and I’m curious as to their dynamic going into book two as a result of.. certain.. events.. #spoilerz.

But though I hate to compare.. it really doesn’t match the greatness of ILLUMINAE. At all. But that’s fine. This is it’s own animal and I’m not here to argue apples and oranges. Because that’s what it is. This is an orange to the aforementioned’s apple but, I guess, I feel obligated (defensive?) to explain why I didn’t love it quite like I expected to.

But I am definitely looking forward to more.


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Double review and some mirroring of feelings over here. Hollis and I started this book together, same day…but I finished it two weeks later because I struggled with feeling engaged and investment in the plot. The good news is, by the end of the book, I had regained some investment.

The 312 squad was a great concept and their coming together as a team was pretty hilarious. All the quippy banter was to be had when they were together. I basically liked the team dynamic and most of the characters individually but there’s a whole lot of different species, physical characterstics and cultural values to process as you get to know them. I found myself confused a number of times. The world building felt unwieldy at times but I gradually got to grips. All that said, I still didn’t know Finian and Zila by the end of the book and I think I should have been more knowledgeable by then. The differing POVs didn’t always help reader cohesion with characters and the plot.

Aurora was a superb main character because there was so much to fathom and her initial appearance was just the surface of what was to come. I liked Tyler and Scarlett but Tyler seemed to lack depth, however I suspect this was about the walls he put up as he led the squad. My other favourite was Kal, again a mysterious character with depth and complexity, I kind of wanted to get my teeth into him…snigger. I am here for the pairing potential in its infancy in this book and that element gave me the feels and interest.

So, what didn’t I gel with? The pacing was up and down and I lost interest a few times so that I felt that I had to push through. I felt disengaged with the plot at times and the middle section of the book was a bit like walking through mud. I have to say though, the last 20% reignited my interest with fast-paced and exciting developments.

I am definitely invested in the bigger picture that this series offers with a slight trepidation about the bigger plot that was revealed in the end of the book; at the moment that doesn’t float my boat. I hope to go into AURORA BURNING with my love for some of the characters, carrying me through.

THE QUEEN OF NOTHING by Holly Black – double review!

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.


Title : The Queen of Nothing
Author : Holly Black
Series : Folk of the Air #3
Format : library ebook (overdrive)
Page Count : 300
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : November 19, 2019

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


Micky’s 3.5 confused star review

First I’m going to give you my emotions – woop, oh, what, how, squeee, ffs, oh man, sigh, heart eyes, snake eyes, squirm, wtf. So yes, this is going to be a bit of a cluster of a review but it’s going to be spoiler-free and consequently, maybe vague.

THE QUEEN OF NOTHING started off really well for me, I felt back with the crew I loved rather quickly and into the current events. The pace of this final instalment moved fast and I liked it. Jude in the human world, life continuing in the faerie world but predictably, those worlds crossed. From there, I had some pacing issues, I would love a number of chapters, then feel a bit bored for a few.

I loved elements of this book but then I struggled with some plot developments. The bridle was a great plot device that…came to little. The snake was a great plot device that…I don’t know what that was. I loved the crown, I loved the throne and I loved Jude’s connection to the earth. So many exciting things but when that excitement didn’t come to fruition, I felt a bit disappointed.

Jude and Carden had a different dynamic in this book and I am going to leave it there even though I want to say so much more. There was a hole missing and I am grateful I got to see the letters from the Barnes & Noble edition because that filled the hole up. That leaves me thinking why wasn’t that part of the main body of the story; I just don’t get it.

I hope all that doesn’t sound too negative because overall this was read brought enjoyment and excitement with the frustration. I am happy with where the story ended up despite the fast wrap-up. I will look back at this series as a great one and a memorable one. I just wanted a bit more from this book.

How do people like us take off our armor?
One piece at a time.


Hollis’ unrated review

This is a book. And I read it.

Okay, but seriously, I don’t know how I feel about this one. THE QUEEN OF NOTHING frustrated me a hell of a lot less than THE WICKED KING but I mean.. at least the latter made me feel something? Because, to be honest, I felt pretty muted about this whole installment. There was a sense of unreality about it all because I was unsure why some things were happening, some things weren’t figured out, and also why there were literally no fireworks, no suspense, no sense of dread or urgency, or like, any kind of chemistry and intensity. N a d a. From anyone.

Also ARE YOU SERIOUSLY TELLING ME WE JUST FUCKING FORGIVE TARYN? WHAT THE HELL.

Ahem, okay, so I have like. One strong feeling about this story.

Anyway, we had some sweet moments, which I liked, but also.. I could’ve done with a lot less sweet moments because that would’ve felt truer to the characters. Again, I just missed the fire. For someone who didn’t even really like this series, that probably says a lot.

But ultimately I don’t even know how to feel about this story or this book. I don’t know what to rate. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, and often it wasn’t even interesting. I was just passing the time. Not quite bored but far from immersed.

As a result, rating (likely never) to be determined.

ONE YEAR HOME by Marie Force 🎧

He came home a hero and lost the only woman he’s ever loved…

John
I have no idea how to survive without my beloved Ava. She had no choice but to move on with her life during my six-year deployment and has now married Eric. I hate him for taking her from me. I’d prefer to wallow in my depression and heartbreak, but the whole damned world wants a piece of the SEAL Team leader who helped capture the world’s most-wanted terrorist. I need help handling the relentless requests, and when Ava sends her new sister-in-law to manage the media circus for me, I’m prepared to hate her on principle. Her brother took my Ava. What else do I need to know about her?

Julianne
It takes five seconds to realize Ava’s ex is going to be the most complicated and difficult client I’ve ever had, but the opportunity to represent the most celebrated man in the world could make my career. I’m determined to do the job, even if I dislike John from the moment I meet him. And I like everyone. So much so that my brothers worry about me being exploited by those who would take advantage of my unwavering love for others. But John… He’s in a class by himself, and his bitterness is a festering wound that I begin to wish I could somehow fix for him. The more time we spend together, the more our mutual disdain morphs into something that feels an awful lot like desire. There’s no way I can want this man, or so I tell myself, and when Eric finds out I’ve developed feelings for the man causing trouble in his new marriage, well…
That’s going to be a hot mess.


Title : One Year Home
Author : Marie Force
Series : Navy Captain John West #2
Format : Audio
Length : 8 hours, 37 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : HTJB, Inc
Release Date : August 20, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

If you were left after FIVE YEARS GONE (book one) satisfied like me, you might question the need for a second book. Ten minutes into this listen, I realised that this was the sequel I didn’t know I needed and I could quickly see I was in for an emotive and angsty ride.

I knew this story was going to centre on John, broken, battered and bruised both outwardly and psychologically. This reluctant hero, thrown into fame and fortune he didn’t want or seek, made for compelling reading. After FIVE YEARS GONE, I felt sorry for John but I still wasn’t his biggest fan, I wanted Ava with Eric so…yeah. Coming at this story from John’s POV meant everything from an altered perception and I became his cheer team.

John’s story included accurate and compelling narrative about recovery from amputation to shrapnel, PTSD and sepsis. I challenge anyone not to be pulled into the journey. Yet, most compelling was John’s mangled heart and broken soul. The story of John connecting to Julianne was fast but not too fast, and I devoured the story.

So you think you know where this review is going? Colour me surprised when this isn’t just John’s story but it was very much back to Ava and Eric. I didn’t know how I felt about that and what was happening with this very new HEA; it was a rollercoaster. I was just glad we had four fantastic narrators along to present the ride to the listener.

This duology has been one of my favourite and most memorable military romances. I don’t often seek out this kind of story but Navy Captain John West series is one you should read if you’re a fan of this sub-genre or if you’ve never tried it before. This duology has made a Marie Force fan of me and I am eager to try my hand at her other kinds of romances and in 2020, I will.

WILDFIRE by Ilona Andrews

Just when Nevada Baylor has finally come to accept the depths of her magical powers, she also realizes she’s fallen in love. Connor “Mad” Rogan is in many ways her equal when it comes to magic, but she’s completely out of her elements when it comes to her feelings for him. To make matters more complicated, an old flame comes back into Rogan’s life…

Rogan knows there’s nothing between him and his ex-fiance, Rynda Sherwood. But as Nevada begins to learn more about her past, her power, and her potential future, he knows she will be faced with choices she never dreamed of and the promise of a life spent without him.

As Nevada and Rogan race to discover the whereabouts of Rynda’s kidnapped husband and are forced to confront Nevada’s grandmother, who may or may not have evil motives, these two people must decide if they can trust in each other or allow everything to go up in smoke. 


Title : Wildfire
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Hidden Legacy #3
Format : ebook
Page Count : 400
Genre : Urban fantasy
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : July 25, 2017

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

I love that this Hidden Legacy series is paced a little faster than the Kate Daniels series, what I mean is that the longer storylines are happening over less books. Its not that I don’t appreciate all ten books and novellas of the KD series, but I was ready for a little less commitment. WILDFIRE moved Nevada into a new position in this book, secure in her relationship and becoming the leader of her family in a more formal way. Both these elements made me love this book.

First and foremost for me in this series, is the Nevgan (awful ‘ship’ name alert). These two continued to dig through who they were together and where their boundaries sat. What I love about Connor (Rogan) is how he was selfless and both selfish in his love, that said, he had the balance just right as situations presented. These two got to have a date in this book and I lived for that experience. I think I am possibly too hung up on these two…

“I’m starving. I haven’t had anything to eat since I stole a bear claw from your kitchen this morning.”
“You didn’t steal it. All my bear claws are yours.”

The whole storyline about the becoming of a House was fascinating and the reveals about the youngest Baylor sister and Leon were pretty wow. The baddies were fierce and I definitely saw parallels between Grandma Tremaine and Kate Daniels father – the strong, evil patriach/matriach but with a dose of they might care a bit.

I am hugely excited for where the next book goes. I need more of this family but more importantly more of ‘Nevgan’ (sorry). They’re not quite Kate and Curran but probably only because I don’t know them quite as well. Ilona Andrews know how to create a story, a couple to last and cheer for.

WHEN THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens

A novel about a young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.

But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.


Title : Where The Crawdads Sing
Author : Delia Owens
Format : Paperback Arc
Page Count : 368
Genre : Literary Fiction
Publisher : Corsair/Little Brown
Release Date : December 12, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING was a singular story, carried by a cast of many in the background but only Kya in the foreground. It was a story evoking strong emotion, anger and empathy and I experienced all of these feelings many times whilst reading. It was also a tough reading experience from a contextual perspective in a number of way and therefore there may be trigger themes for some readers.

Kya was a young girl, a ‘marsh girl’ abandoned by first her mother, then her siblings and finally by her father. She resided in a shack in the marshlands and learnt how to live. This aspect was much of the early book and my heart ached on reading. Kya was vulnerable, naive but a survivor with the kind of resilience that was hewn out of circumstance; it was do or die. Seeing Kya’s unfulfilled longing for love and relationships was distressing. There were themes of racism, prejudice and extreme poverty. I felt that these aspects were written exceptionally well with such tangibility.

There were people who came into Kya’s life and made it bearable, Jumpin’, Mable and Tate. I adored Jumpin’ and I loved Tate’s desire to help Kya without wanting anything from her. The lack of plain sailing was inevitable but it stung to read how things turned out. Chase was rotten from the first encounter and it was hard to see Kya’s naivety lead her in a sticky direction. The mystery that later unfolded was fascinating in a painful way.

The narrative and description in this book was decadent in terms of the flora and fauna but there were no holds barred in terms of the reality of marsh and shack life. Delia Owens had a way of bringing nature to life, birds, trees and feathers, through their sights and sounds. My visualisation was vivid and that was down to the descriptive prose.

I was grateful for the time frame and the journey in this book. I was relieved to have answers at the end and some surprises. This book has the kind of story that would appeal widely, regardless of what genre you might prefer; it is worth any reader’s time. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING was a rare case of a book that lasts a lifetime and I sense it could also stay with me as long.

Thank you to Corsair and Little Brown for the proof copy for review.