SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY by Emma Scott

How long would you wait for love? 

Max Kaufman was kicked out of his home as a teen and his life has been an uphill battle ever since. From addiction and living on the streets, to recovery and putting himself through nursing school, he’s spent the last ten years rebuilding his shattered sense of self. Now he’s taken a job as a private caretaker to Edward Marsh III, the president and CEO of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Max soon learns Marsh’s multi-billion-dollar empire is a gold and diamond-encrusted web of secrets and lies.

The longer Max works and lives with the Marsh family, the tighter the secrets tangle around him. And his heart—that he’s worked so hard to protect—falls straight into the hands of the distant, cold, and beautiful son of a dynasty…

Silas Marsh is set to inherit the family fortune, but his father is determined his heir be the “perfect” son. Before Silas can take over the company and end its shady business practices, he must prove himself worthy…and deny his true nature.

Silas must choose: stand up to his father by being true to himself and his undeniable feelings for Max. Or pretend to be someone he is not in order to inherit everything. Even if it means sacrificing a chance at happiness and real love.


Title : Someday, Someday
Author : Emma Scott
Format : eARC
Page Count : 374
Genre : LGBTQIA+ romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : November 24, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

So, I want to be clear, that I respect what the author set out to do with this story. With the subject matter, the redemption, the healing.. even dragging something as relevant to our every day as the opioid crisis into the spotlight. But..

.. but. This story feels a lot like it’s trying very hard for me to feel things. For me to be heartbroken, or angry, and to champion the MCs, to rage against the villains. All of which, like, valid. The material is there. I just didn’t quite sink into any of it. Probably because so much of it is melodramatic, or manufactured, and also just vacillating between different extremes to the point that things felt a little (a lot) unbelievable and hard to hold onto.

I’ll say it again. I appreciate some of the topics, I appreciate the representation, but this was just a little too OTT for me whilst also not being enough for me to feel much of anything. But hey, what do I know, this is beloved by almost everyone, so, hey. Grain of salty salted salt.

This was my first Scott, despite having bought up most of her books during one kindle sale or another, and I would like to give her other works a try. This is definitely not the worst ‘romance author tries m/m’ foray I’ve ever read. I think I’ve just read too many better ones to think much of this one. But a lot of potential was here so I definitely won’t be deleting her off my kindle. I might even finally read those other books! Sounds like a good 2020 goal.

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

REGRETTING YOU by Colleen Hoover – review and giveaway!

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.


Title : Regretting You
Author : Colleen Hoover
Format : eARC
Page Count : 365
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Montlake Romance
Release Date : December 10, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Micky’s 3 star reciew

I know this opinion will separate me from the populous but for me, this was a very run-of-the-mill read. I didn’t hate it, I kind of liked it but I definitely didn’t love it even though I wanted to.

I found the start to this story interesting with the four characters of the past, I liked that more than the present, initially. However, by 22% I was finding it so slow that I was willing SOMETHING to happen. I actually got my wish with the dropping of an emotional bomb. Am I sadistic that I was grateful for that? Whatever, I welcomed it and enjoyed the story a bit more from there.

This was a story of families and relationships intertwined and connected in the most complex way, a really unsatisfying way. It was about two generations, mother and daughter, father and son, sister and sister and husband and wife. I hated some of the characters, and I was supposed to. I much preferred the narrative around Morgan and Jonah than I did of Clara and Miller. I felt frustrated with Clara and Miller but I know their actions and behaviours were fitting for 17/18 year olds.

I struggled with some of the instant connections, some of which were supposedly built on older feelings but I didn’t buy into the elements of this, especially with the younger characters. There were other parts of the story that I wanted more of, like Gramps.

Overall, I’ve come out of REGRETTING YOU feeling a bit ‘what was that explosion and why is everything now peachy’. I needed more tangibility in the longer term but I appreciated some of the elements of the grief narrative which really hit the spot.

Thank you to Montlake Romance for the early review copy.


Author Biography


Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including the bestselling women’s fiction novel It Ends with Us and the bestselling psychological thriller Verity. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance three years in a row—for Confess (2015), It Ends with Us (2016), and Without Merit (2017). Confess was adapted into a seven-episode online series. In 2015, Hoover and her family founded the Bookworm Box, a bookstore and monthly subscription service that offers signed novels donated by authors. All profits go to various charities each month to help those in need. Hoover lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys.

Visit www.colleenhoover.com.

Social Media Links
Website: http://www.colleenhoover.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorColleenHoover/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/colleenhoover
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5430144.Colleen_Hoover


RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

You can win a $100 giftcard and a copy of Regretting You. Go, go, go and click the link underneath!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/07c2363f256

THE PLACES I’VE CRIED IN PUBLIC by Holly Bourne

Amelie loved Reese. And she thought he loved her. But she’s starting to realise love isn’t supposed to hurt like this. So now she’s retracing their story and untangling what happened by revisiting all the places he made her cry.

Because if she works out what went wrong, perhaps she can finally learn to get over him


Title : The Places I’ve Cried In Public
Author : Holly Bourne
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary
Publisher : Usbourne Publishing
Release Date : October 3, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


This was my first Holly Bourne read but I have come away a little unsure if her writing style is for me. I am a stalwart fan of British contemporary YA, some of my favourite YA is UK written and based, because of course I want that real connection with my culture.

It took me a good third of the book to really get settled into the story and the characters. Overall, I didn’t really connect with any character in the book and I feel that I should have connected with Amelie. She irritated me on and off. Needless to say, I hated Reese, however I did like her friends, Hannah, Archie and Jessa. I would have loved more about these friendships.

Bourne narrates some important themes in this book in the form of insidious and manipulative behaviour in a significant other. In fact the behaviour was much more than that. There was a slow reveal of what that ‘more’ is and some of the handling of how that reveal happened was a little messy in execution for me, losing some clarity of the severity and wrongness of the behaviour. I also struggled with the past and present timelines, they just didn’t flow well in and out of one another but I did get used to the framing eventually. I don’t normally struggle with this approach but there was just something about the chop and change that made it difficult to stay inside the story.

There were some strong elements that really captured me but they were small parts of the story. I thought how the counsellor and counselling was represented was realistic and positive. I thought the assault element took an less talked-about path that was good to have out there in literature without being too graphic. I also liked the music teacher and the tentative confidante that was offered and appreciated.

I am left with questions however, why was there no mention of reporting this heinous crime? This was a problematic big hole in this story that is meant to and will influence young people having some similar experiences told in this story.

I have rated this 3 stars for the important themes, but I do feel it could have been executed better both in writing dealing with such sensitive topics.

Thank you to the publisher and Amazon Vine for the finished review copy.

ANNIE’S SONG by Catherine Anderson

Annie Trimble lives in a solitary world that no one enters or understands. As delicate and beautiful as the tender blossoms of the Oregon spring, she is shunned by a town that misinterprets her affliction. But cruelty cannot destroy the love Annie holds in her heart.

Alex Montgomery is horrified to learn his wild younger brother forced himself on a helpless “idiot girl.” Tormented by guilt, Alex agrees to marry her and raise the babe she carries as his own. But he never dreams he will grow to cherish his lovely, mute, misjudged Annie and her childlike innocence, her womanly charms and the wondrous way she views her world. And he becomes determined to break through the wall of silence surrounding her; to heal…and to be healed by Annie’s sweet song of love.


Title : Annie’s Song
Author : Catherine Anderson
Format : Mass Market Paperback
Page Count : 410
Genre : Historical Romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : August 27, 2013

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star read

ANNIE’S SONG was an enjoyable read and a breath of fresh in terms of uniqueness of story, I’ve not read the like before, particularly not in the historical romance genre.

Firstly, this book starts out with an incredibly difficult first chapter, there are triggers here front and centre for some people. The issue wasn’t exactly a trigger for me but it still took me aback and felt an abrupt and brutal start.

Annie had a disability and much of the early story is about misconceptions and misunderstandings about her disability. I struggled a little with where the story went in terms of consent issues to decisions made. I really hated observing some of what happened there. Added onto this, Annie had horrendous parents and what she had suffered in her childhood home was difficult to see recounted.

Alex was a man of integrity and I admired his actions on the one hand but I also wanted to knock some sense into him as he navigated decisions, their life and future direction. However, where would Annie have been without him? In a much worse situation is the answer. Alex did learn and grow as a man and partner, he was also a quite a forward thinker for the era.

Their romantic connection was a slow burn but even the were both adults, Annie’s innocence made me feel like my skin was crawling as Alex tried to coax Annie into intimacy. So while I was enjoying much of the story, this element just took the rating down a little for me.

I’m grateful for the rec on this unusual story and I would definitely read Catherine Anderson again.

A SCARCITY OF CONDORS by Suanne Laqueur – double review!

Juleón “Jude” Tholet has survival in his DNA. His father, Cleón, lived through imprisonment and torture during Pinochet’s military coup in Chile. His mother, Penny, risked everything to gain her husband’s freedom and flee the country with their newborn son. But as a closeted gay teenager growing up in Vancouver, Jude is targeted by a neighborhood bully called El Cóndor, culminating in a vicious hate crime that forces the Tholets to flee their country again. 

Jude cautiously rebuilds his life in Seattle, becoming an accomplished pianist, but his his wings have been clipped and he cannot seem to soar in his relationships. Only family remains a constant source of strength and joy, until a DNA test reveals something that shocks all the Tholets: Jude is not their child.

Stunned by the test results, the Tholets must dig into their painful past, re-examine their lives in 1973 Santiago and the events surrounding Jude’s birth story. It’s a tale rooted in South America’s Operation Condor. It spreads through Pinochet’s terrifying regime of detention camps, torture, disappeared civilians and stolen children. The journey forces Penny Tholet to confront the gaps in her memory while Cleón must re-live an ordeal he’s long kept hidden away in a secret world. The tale ends with Jude digging through his genetic code in a quest to find his biological parents. Are they alive? Or are they among Los Desaparecidos—the Disappeared Ones?

Suanne Laqueur’s third book in the Venery series explores the desperate acts of love made in times of war, and the many ways family can be defined.


Title : A Scarcity of Condors
Author : Suanne Laqueur
Series : Venery (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count
Genre : contemporary fiction
Publisher
Release Date : December 31, 2019

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

This rating might surprise people who know how much I love this author, and this series, but my problem with this story is that, for the most part, I didn’t really find myself connecting to these characters. For me, they would come alive in family or group setting moments, not always but often, or in the cheeky sizzle of chemistry-infused interactions leading upto the romance, but overall I didn’t fall in love with these people or places the way I have in other Laqueur — specifically, Venery — books. 

Rosie, I need a favour.”
What, baby?
I’m attempting to seduce this gorgeous gentleman and he’s wisely being prudent about consorting with arrogant and audacious men he doesn’t know.”
In other words, Tuesday.”

This particular installment feels like a big epilogue, and then some, to a story that started in AN EXALATION OF LARKS and, to a certain point, somewhat in the background, continued in A CHARM OF FINCHES. This is a conclusion that part of me thinks would’ve made a great novella or short story to wrap up certain questions from the first book. Because while some of this touched me, I mostly felt myself just going through the motions of the EMOtions without ever really being bowled over by them. Which makes for a lot of page time where I just wasn’t really immersed in it all.

Having said that, the events, the horrible situations, they were treated with the usual care of all the author’s other works. Without shying away from the stark harsh reality but equally without being gratuitous about it, either. Two very different scenes in particular come to mind where it’s a retelling of second-hand events, from the perspective of someone they knew, but without putting the elements and experiences on page in all their gory or brutal glory. Which, considering the telling, was a relief. But it wasn’t without impact. Which I think shows how masterful the author is. She knows when to push and when to pull back, all without losing the gravity of the moment.

When I wasn’t hiding in the closet, I was hiding under the piano.
Well, there’s a Freudian analyst’s wet dream. The strong, solid barrier of wood and ivory hiding your genitals with definitive black-and-white distinctions of tone and.. sorry, I forgot where I was going with that.”

And that applies to so much of this story. The introspection, the therapy, even just random events. She broke them down, processed them, likened them to other feelings or images for the characters and the readers to meet halfway and experience. Some times it was so achingly beautiful. But in this particular story I did feel a lot of it was repetitive, redundant, or rehashed.. sometimes almost word for word. I could understand revisiting some things but I think I expected to learn or see a new perspective when it was brought up again. And rarely did we get that kind of pivot.

Everything Laqueur did in this story had echoes of her other works in the sense that you know you’re in the same world, with characters that connect in some ways, even only in the periphery, so things feel similar — and I mean that in a positive way. Each story handles something important, critical, pivotal, necessary. Often hard, but without flinching. Often beautiful, but also heartbreaking. This one still did all those things. Just not with the same impact on me as a reader. This had all the things I loved from other Venery books. But just didn’t hit the same way. 

[it] was untrue and unfair. Irrational. But sometimes you felt what you felt and nothing could assuage it.

Ultimately, I think my enjoyment of this story was less about the big picture, big connections, and more about the little ones. Quiet moments, devastating moments, which caught me in my feels, whereas the big tie-ins and some of the backstory just didn’t do as much. But I suspect, and expect (and know) many people, fans or newbies alike, will love this. I will forever, and always, recommend the Venery series and my feelings on this book hasn’t changed that one bit.  

As per usual, I read this with my Laqueur buddy (and blog buddy!) Micky and we had a great time reading, discussing, speculating, breaking things down over the course of our Condor-ified weekend.


Micky’s 3 star review

This book had atmosphere, emotion and a family saga to end all sagas. A SCARCITY OF CONDORS was a complex read but then I expect complexity from Suanne Laqueur. If you are fan of the Venery series, you will feel the intertwining of these books, but in particular, there was a strong connection to book one, AN EXALTATION OF LARKS.

The third book returned fans to Chile, Pinochet’s heinous regime but it also opened that Pandora’s box wider and invited the reader to witness some of the atrocities. I say go with trepidation and that there may be themes that are difficult for some.

The book had a slow start for me, taking some time to get into the context and characters. Things I enjoyed included Penny, she was the shining light for me, easy to get to know, easy to empathsise with and admire. What was unusual for me was that I didn’t really connect fully with some of the other characters.

Jude was a character I liked but didn’t love. His repetitive reliving of past events with his psychotherapist was a bit overkill for me. I was ready for him to set down events of the past. So, imagine my delight, truly, when we got to the meet, greet and connection between Jude and Tej. These two connected at a time I just needed some levity in the heavy within these pages. All that said about this relationship, when it came to toils and troubles, there hadn’t been enough narrative for me to feel what they were feeling and so instead I felt like an outsider looking in. I loved these two the most in their early days when they were all playful banter.

The card has some digits on it. If you punch them into your phone, magic things will happen.

The themes of being disappeared, lost babies, torture and reconnecting with unknown loved ones carried gravity of emotion. There was so much going on, almost all of it was incredibly serious as you would imagine and I felt the weight of that. However, there were only a few moments of real emotional connection with the story for me and I am sad about that. Without wanting the spoil, I loved the reappearance of the character who I knew would reappear because of the context and from 70% to the end was a more avid reading experience. I struggled with Cleon’s short chapters throughout. Hollis and I buddy read this and we agreed that in some ways, parts of this book would have made a great novella to book one.

If you know me, you know that I recommend the Venery series to many and all, that hasn’t changed. This hasn’t been my favourite read but it does add to the overall narrative of these characters and context. I don’t know why some elements missed the mark for me but they did and I can’t change that. I have learnt historical detail from this book and what has been translated through human stories in this world. I am the richer for that.

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

CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. 


Title : Clockwork Angel
Author : Cassandra Clare
Series : The Infernal Devices #1
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 528
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Walker YA
Release Date : November 7, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4.5 – 5 star review

I’ve got to tell you that I entered this read as a newbie with trepidation, I had tried City of Bones earlier in the year and found it a little too teeny for me. I wasn’t sure that I would gel with the world but oh my word, I was off the mark with that. I was gifted a copy of the special edition, joined a readalong and the whole experience was absolutely fantastic.

Firstly, I can say that no knowledge of the The Mortal Instruments series did not hold me back at all. I learnt about the world all from this book and enjoyed the revealing of the rules, creatures, magic and beings existing in Victorian London. All this was improved by that historical fantasy setting, knowing London well, I enjoyed a geographical insight into places and the visual that created.

Stepping through the Institute’s iron gate, Tessa felt a bit like Sleeping Beauty leaving her castle behind its wall of thorns.

What was special to me about this book was the amount of characters at the fore. Whilst Tessa, Will and Jem seemed the lead protagonists, there were so many other characters to get your teeth into properly, more than your average side characters. I liked and want(ed) more from Sophie, Charlotte, Henry and Thomas. I loved to hate Nate, the Magister, the Dark Sisters and those damn clockwork creatures (shudders).

The plot was complex and interesting. Everything about this book was enhanced by the visuals, visuals of the main characters which were absolutely superb. The pictures of the MCs were perfect for my imagination, they all fitted for me. The sketches at chapter beginnings were subtle and beautifully done, it created a whole atmosphere within the book that might not have been quite as strong without the visual. There were twists and turns, turns and twists galore but so that I could follow the plot well.

The book finished well and on something of a cliff, but I know a lot of answers now. I do have about 40 more questions as a result however. I strongly feel that Will is on self-sabotage mode, that this triangle-ish thing will end badly and that Jem is just an all round good guy. But then, who likes the good guy after all (me, actually). What a great experience this was, I am excited for more.

Thank you to Walker Books and Tandem Collective for the gifted special edition and for creating the readalong.

WOULD LIKE TO MEET by Rachel Winters

In this charming, feel-good debut novel, a cynical assistant at a screenwriting agency must reenact the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedy movies in order to help her #1 client get his scriptwriting mojo back–but can a real-life meet-cute be in store for someone who doesn’t believe in happily ever after?

After seven years as an assistant, 29-year-old Evie Summers is ready to finally get the promotion she deserves. But now the TV and film agency she’s been running behind the scenes is in trouble, and Evie will lose her job unless she can convince the agency’s biggest and most arrogant client, Ezra Chester, to finish writing the script for a Hollywood romantic comedy. 

The catch? Ezra is suffering from writer’s block–and he’ll only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. With the future of the agency in jeopardy, Evie embarks on a mission to meet a man the way Sally met Harry or Hugh Grant met Julia Roberts. 

But in the course of testing out the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedies IRL, not only will Evie encounter one humiliating situation after another, but she’ll have to confront the romantic past that soured her on love. In a novel as hilarious as it is heartwarming, debut author Rachel Winters proves that sometimes real life is better than the movies–and that the best kind of meet-cutes happen when you least expect them.


Title : Would Like To Meet
Author :  Rachel Winters
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date : December 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

This read is sort’ve hard to pin down for me. It has everything you could possible want in a rom-com : an imperfect heroine who messes up but you still want to root for, a hilarious friend group you would totally go drinking with, a hero (or two!) who might be the one, and a meet cute (or twelve hundred). I loved so much of it. Some of it, both dialogue and situations, were great. Other moments just.. maybe dragged on or, just due to circumstance, frustrated me.

This is definitely an author I would read again. It’s a pretty great debut. There’s a lot of heart here, a lot of greatness, but I do feel like it’s also just trying to do a little too much. And that’s not counting all the big movie moment recreations.

I honestly don’t have much more to say. I will point out there are a few bits in the summary that don’t quite jive with the plot itself, or feel a little misleading in hindsight, but not necessarily in a bad way? I would just recommend you go in with a vague or general idea of what to expect and ride it out.

Also? This would make a great movie. I’d definitely watch it.

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

BLOOD HEIR by Amelié Wen Zhao

This hot debut is the first book in an epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to clear her name for her father’s murder. 

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls. 

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.


Title : Blood Heir
Author : Amelié Wen Zhao
Series : Blood Heir (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count :  459
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : November 19, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

While this story opened up with a banger of a first chapter, unfortunately I think it was a concept that worked better as a pitch.

This fantasy feels fairly familiar to other revenge plot stories but with a twist : the heroine, the princess, the fugitive, is a monster. Or, rather, has a monstrous power. And the hero, well. He’s a conman with a seedy past. With a Russian-esque feel to the worldbuilding, think Grishaverse but not as direct a copy as another recent release, and interesting character archetypes, I really thought this would be a winner.

But sadly I was feeling some concerns around the 20% mark and it didn’t really get better. Sometimes it got worse.

There were a lot of familiar tropes and situations, the dialogue would occasionally fall into awkward cliche, and everything good and interesting just felt overshadowed by the rest. Also, I found myself rather confused by some of the timeline and events that lead up to where everything opened up. Maybe it was just me, maybe I missed it, but that confusion certainly didn’t help. There was definitely potential, and again in theory this should’ve been great, I just don’t think the writing did it any favours. Nor did a few repeats (and more repeats) of certain things I won’t spoil.

Considering all the controversy around this one, I’m extra sad I didn’t love this. I don’t know what changes, if any, were made, but as of the reading of this edition, I don’t believe any of the complaints were warranted. Topics of exploitation and the violation of human rights, it’s all worthy dialogue. Set against a fantasy backdrop makes the reality less devastating to experience but this was a main plot point and definitely key for our lead character and what drives her. She’s trying to do good, fix her world, and we need more of that in our world. The outcry just seems ridiculous and also so very shortsighted. But I digress.

I’m not sure if I’ll read on in this series. But who am I kidding; I probably will.

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

REINDEER FALLS SERIES by Jana Aston

The Boss Who Stole Christmas (Reindeer Falls #1)

Dear Santa,

Please bring me a new boss for Christmas. Mine is the worst. The worst, hidden in a six foot tall package of male perfection. It’d be easier if he looked like an old Scrooge, wouldn’t it?

Nick Saint-Croix doesn’t look like an old scrooge. He’s hot as-

Um, never mind. Just bring me a new boss. Please.

Sincerely,
Holly Winter


If You Give a Jerk a Gingerbread (Reindeer Falls #2)

Dear Santa,

I do not want Keller James for Christmas.

I will not fall for him, no matter how charming or irresistible or famous he is. I will not be swayed by his skills in the kitchen or by his British accent. I’m going to win the Great Gingerbread Bake Off and no one is going to stand in my way. Not even Keller.

All kisses are off. I mean all bets. All bets are off. And his clothes, those are off too.

Grr, never mind. I’ll figure this out myself.

XOXO,
Ginger Winter


The One Night Stand Before Christmas (Reindeer Falls #3)

Dear Santa,

Please stop by my house and pick up your suit. If you thought I was going to run it to the dry cleaners for you after you left it on my bedroom floor, you’ve got another think coming.

Best,
Noel Winter


Author : Jana Aston
Series : Reindeer Falls
Format : ebook
Page Count : 100/99/100
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Rutherford Press
Release Date : November, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
#1 Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
#2 Rating : ★ ★ ★ 
#3 Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Well, I can only say that these were fun and quick to read, just what the doctor ordered for a few days sickness and a desire for Christmassy reads. The author describes these as ‘over-the-top’ and ‘merrily-ever-afters guarenteed’, so I knew what I was getting into. They took minimal concentration and commitment which was perfect for my needs. Each book follows a different sister in the small town on Reindeer Falls…

Book one, THE BOSS WHO STOLE Christmas (3.5 stars), initially lined me up for a real grump-jerk but honestly, that was just the skewed perspective of the heroine. She was actually the jerk and her attitutde annoyed me but I enjoyed the story, the steam and the redemption. The hero, Nick was something of a sweetie and despite the short nature of the story, I bought into the chemistry. It did take a while to get going, so lost a bit on rating there for me.

The second book, IF YOU GIVE A JERK A GINGERBREAD (3 stars), was a meet cute with instant connection to more. This is one where you’d really have to take the author at her word of over-the-top feelings. I actually liked a lot of this story more than book one but the chemistry fell flat for me. It was a quick read and entertaining but the instalove was too insta-xmas for me.

The final novella, THE ONE NIGHT STAND BEFORE CHRISTMAS (3.5 stars) was a mistaken identity fun read. This one was pure fun as this one night stand turned into a who the hell was that? The hero, Teddy sure was unrealistically committed and instantly into Noel but whatever, I bought into the fun. This final instalment also cleverly tied up the what is happening now with the three sisters so we got a great update on a year later.

I found this three novellas generally entertaining. I enjoyed them, they weren’t realistic or forever memorable but they did what they promised on the tin. They’re also in Kindle Unlimited if you have a subscription.

NEVER TELL by Lisa Gardner

A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun. 

D.D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman–Evie Carter–from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many. 

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim–a hostage–and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder. 

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?


Title : Never Tell
Author : Lisa Gardner
Series : Detective D.D. Warren (book ten)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 414
Genre : mystery/thriller
Publisher : Dutton
Release Date : February 19, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’ll be the first to admit that while it was Gardner, and her three cross-over series, that kicked off my renewed fascination with the thriller/mystery/detective genre back in 2016, the last few installments of this main series (correction, sorry, it’s been one book and one novella) just haven’t wowed me. For various reasons. But NEVER TELL? Hi hello, we’re back again.

This story slots in under the main Detective D.D. Warren series but, like most of Gardner’s books, there’s crossover. Recently, since book eight, the survivor of that story has become a supporting character as she transitioned into a vigilante slash confidential informant, aka CI, for DD. And she’s not the only familiar face.

I really couldn’t recommend this book to people who hadn’t read at least the last three, starting from FIND HER, but honestly this whole series is worth investing in. Are they all great? No. But there’s been such an evolution, including the books in the companion/spin-offs, and those are even relevant for a certain guest-star in this book, both in character and how some of the stories weave together, that even the stories that don’t rate as high still feel worth the effort (also, for some perspective, I’ve only rated one book below three stars and while that was the first book.. let’s just say the opening books were a different vibe). Basically what I’m saying is block out some reading time over the holidays, put the whole backlist on hold at your local library, and get ready to rock and roll. And by rock and roll I mean experience some dark twisty additive af procedurals.

This review has become less about the book and more about the series as a whole but honestly there’s not much you can put in a review for a thriller that the summary doesn’t already.. summarize. There are twists, death, and surprises. Rinse and repeat. This mystery definitely had a tighter pacing than the last, unfurled in a great way, and also had me tearing up. So I guess we can throw ’emotions’ into that list, too.

I can’t wait for the next one.