GIDEON THE NINTH by Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth is the most fun you’ll ever have with a skeleton.

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.


Title : Gideon the Ninth
Author : Tamsyn Muir
Series : The Ninth House
Format : eARC
Page Count : 437
Genre : LGBTQIA+ sci-fi fantasy
Publisher : Tor.com
Release Date : September 10, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So listen. The only reason I’m not giving this five stars is because sometimes, while reading, I would feel a little lost. Confused, even. It’s been awhile since I read an adult science-fiction novel, particularly one as complex as this, with such a large cast, and during the over (!) two (!!) weeks (!!!) it took me to read this, between slumps and life chaos and other ARC deadlines, it was just.. a lot.

I would have thought you would be happy that I needed you. That I showed you my girlish and vulnerable heart.
Your heart is a party for five thousand nails.”

But I never stopped having fun.

Gideon would’ve sworn there were tears in her eyes, except that no such liquid existed. Harrow was a desiccated mummy of hate.

The characters in this series are.. just, everything. Gideon is a riot. I spent most of my time, confused and non-confused, reading this book and giggling. Snorting. Cackling. Highlighting. This isn’t a comedy but is comedic af. The author, through Gideon, is snarky and sarcastic and just.. relentlessly relatable. For all that she’s the cavalier, swords-person/bodyguard, of a necromancer, in space, who is battling to riddle out puzzles of which the end goal is to make them immortal and all-powerful. You know, totally relatable.

I cannot and will not read your thoughts, control your body, or look at your most intimate memories. I don’t have the ability and I certain’t don’t have the desire.
It’s for your own protection, not mine. I imagined Crux’s butt once when I was twelve.”

I’ve seen this pitched, and even pitched it myself, as ‘lesbian necromancers in space’ and that does such an injustice to the scope and breadth and complexity of everything, plot and characters, of this book. But it’s one hell of a great hook and if it’s what pulled you in, fantastic. Just buckle the hell up and know there is so much more to this.

I’ll still do it.”
Why?
Probably because you asked.”
That’s all it takes, [..]? That’s all you demand? This is the complex mystery that lies in the pit of your psyche?
That’s all I ever demanded, you asswipe.”

This book is spooky, funny, heartbreaking, hilarious, rich in ‘I’m too dumb for this’ science, and even weirder magic. The cast is vibrant and diverse and while sometimes I wish I had taken notes on who is what and why and what are the Houses.. even confused, I was happy. Truly. This is a book that needed more time than I had to give it and that’s on me. Even though, yeah, okay, it’s on me but I’m also knocking down a star.

Why was I born so attractive?
Because everyone would have throttled you within the first five minutes otherwise.”

But.

Nav, show them what the Ninth House does.
We do bones, motherfucker.

I will say, brace yourselves. This isn’t the standalone I thought it would be. And I was u n p r e p a r e d for the end of this book in many many ways. I may have cried. Well, okay, welled up. But regardless I need book two yesterday. The good news is I’ll definitely reread this before the sequel (is it a duology? a trilogy?) so I hope to a) maybe have a better handle on things earlier on in the unfolding of the story and b) maybe, hopefully, round up.

Gideon was experiencing one powerful emotion : being sick of everyone’s shit.

Regardless, if you’re comfortable with adult sci-fi, prepared to hunker down with a long book, and want hilarity alongside diversity? You need this. The fact that this incredible title is a debut just blows my mind. Just the way the book itself did. Infact, just putting this review together, and pulling the quotes, actually makes me want to just.. start reading it all over again. And that almost never happens to me. So I hope that says it all! Even though I said.. a lot. Already.

You are my only friend. I am undone without you.”

Oh, did I mention there’s a hate to love f/f romance? Hm? Did I?

You definitely need this one in your life.

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

THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK by Adrienne Young – double review!

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.


Title : The Girl The Sea Gave Back
Author : Adrienne Young
Series : Sky In The Deep (book two)
Format : ARC/Finished Copy
Page Count : 336
Genre : historical YA fantasy
Publisher : Wednesday Books / Titan Books
Release Date : September 3, 2019

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

I feel like everything that kept me from loving SKY IN THE DEEP, was missing in THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK. This makes me very very happy.

I was sure this was going to be an easy three star read; lots to like but not quite getting me all the way there which, I mean, would’ve been a better result than book one. So colour me surprised by this rating.

This story takes place ten years after the events of SKY IN THE DEEP and, once again, we have warring clans. The characters we knew from book one have known peace and a time of rebuilding, rebirth, as a united people but now another group, the Svell, are stirring up trouble. Made worse by the fact that the Svell people are, themselves, divided. Additionally, they feel they are cursed by the existence of an outsider who lives among them, who washed up on their shores, and yet they also rely on her for her gifts at reading the runes, and predicting the future, as she is a Truthtongue. 

It’s Tova’s prediction that sparks tragedy for Halvard’s people and we watch as they are on opposites sides of a war neither of them want. Halvard loses people he loves and Tova is blamed for things beyond her control as the fragile trust she has with the man who has raised her.. frays. Betrayal abounds with the Svell people and she’s tossed amongst them, lost, confused, and resigned.

Tova doesn’t know who she is, Halvard is bound so strongly with his family, both blood and found, and I actually really enjoyed bouncing back between their perspectives and the glimpses we got from their past. Their connection isn’t much, either, but yet feels.. present. There’s almost no romance here and yet we see possibility, potential, and that’s honestly where this book became more than I thought it would be.

I found the pacing to be pretty much perfect and I loved where the book, and our characters, ended up. This is a stronger book and the events, the loss and brutality, felt more real. The stakes somehow higher. The surprises (of which maybe there was only one but it was a good one) more surprising. I definitely have a question or two about how some things played out but those niggles are buried pretty far underneath my general contentment over the story.

If SKY IN THE DEEP wasn’t a book you were able to get on with, I would definitely recommend you pick up this sophomore offering. And if you loved SKY IN THE DEEP, I think you’ll be just as satisfied, if not more, by this follow-up in the author’s viking world.

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


Micky’s 3 star review

This was my first read by Adrienne Young and I was informed by a few that it stands alone as a book and reading book one wasn’t vital. I made the mistake of jumping straight into THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK and I think that I missed out on some world building that would have helped me so much with this read. There wasn’t much space given to any world-building in this book and felt like I was playing catch up with the different tribes, their names, their belief systems and allegiences.

After about 20% of the book I felt that I had some context to understand the story that was playing out with two characters having alternate POVs – Tova and Halvard. These were two characters that were mystically connected but geographically separated. Halvard was a reluctant heir to leading his people and Tova was a virtual prisoner of her adopted people. This story is told over just a number of days with battle, strategy and mysticism at the core.

I enjoyed the mystical part of this story, the fate ruled by runes, spinners and the All Seer. I liked the concept of Tova and her race. There were however, a lot of characters to dislike in this book. So many prejudiced people with cruelty being part of life. The back and forth of past and present was written a little confusingly to me.

Ultimately, I felt unsatisfied with the story overall and this was just an okay read for me. I felt that the connection between Tova and Halvard was pointless in the end but I appreciated the how the different races were at war or peace at different times.

Thank you to Titan Books for the early finished copy for review.

WELL MET by Jen DeLuca

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.


Title : Well Met
Author : Jen DeLuca
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : women’s fiction, romance
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

If what you’ve always wanted is a romance set against a Renaissance Faire, with a hate to love trope, then WELL MET is sure to be the book of your dreams. Or at least one of your top favourites from 2019.

I’ve only read one other book with this kind of setting, and honestly both the title and the author escape me, so that probably says a lot about how much I liked it. As a result I maybe went in to this one with lower expectations but whether that had anything to do with my enjoyment or if this is just that fun? Who can say (spoiler : it’s just that fun).

So, what, am I just supposed to pull an extra bard out of my ass now?
Not a bad idea. It might dislodge the stick that’s up there.”

This is a women’s fiction title but is more romance heavy than some of the more recent ones I’ve read and it was honestly just.. cozy. We have two sisters, separated by quite a few years, reconnecting when the older sister is injured in a car accident and needs help not only going to and from doctor’s appointments but also with her teenager daughter. As Emily’s life has recently imploded, losing her job and her boyfriend, it isn’t much hardship to uproot herself to her sister’s small town. Additionally, Emily thrives on organization and handling crises. Win win win.

Emma the Tavern Wench missed Captain Blackthorne greatly. She wanted him to come by the tavern he’d been neglecting lately, because she thrilled to see him and lived for those moments where his attention was like the sun. But Emily the Regular Person wanted to give Simon a good shake and ask him what his problem was.

Part of what Emily takes on is a volunteer position in the local Renaissance Faire. Her niece wanted to be part of it and the only condition is a parent or guardian volunteering alongside. So Emily jumps in with both feet; and splashes all over the event organizer, Simon. I don’t mean that literally. But Simon is basically the raincloud of Emily’s sun and it sets the whole tone for their relationship over the coming weeks.

A month ago I hated the guy, and I thought he hated me. This is like a summer romance on steroids.”

The Faire takes up the majority of the plot and events but it also acts as a great foil for some of the emotional issues that crop up over the story. DeLuca’s story touches on topics of grief and self-worth and I thought both were done really well and also just emotional enough without the angst or agony dragging on too long. I’ll admit there were brief moments where I thought Emily a touch too in her head or oblivious but it does fit in with her hangups and previous experiences and, in hindsight, I think it fits.

I wanted to crawl in to him, become part of him so he would never feel alone again. But I didn’t know how to tell him that without it sounding like the world’s creepiest Valentine’s card.

Additionally there were so many moments where I thought “well here comes the misunderstanding or lack of communication romance trope” and instead.. nope. I think that might honestly be the only thing that makes this stand apart from your typical romance. A few less frustrating tropes on the checklist.

Brace yourself. I’m going to woo your ass off.

If you want some great banter, some excellent tension, smoldering sweet swoons, and a good emotional backbone for a story set against old timey cosplay and fun, you should definitely pick this one up. I’m pleasantly surprised by yet another debut title and can’t wait to see what DeLuca does next. And if it involves a companion novel featuring a certain kilted not-so-meaty-meathead and a certain sister..? Here for it.

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

THE LADY ROGUE by Jenn Bennett

The Last Magician meets A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this thrilling tale filled with magic and set in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains where a girl must hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring in order to save her father.

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.


Title : The Lady Rogue
Author : Jenn Bennett
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA historical fantasy
Publisher : Simon Pulse
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

I requested this book for one reason, really, and one reason only : the name next to “author”. I’m a big fan of Bennett’s contemporaries and I’ve dabbled in her adult PNR series (which I still have to finish!) so seeing her switch from YA contemporary to YA historical/fantasy didn’t concern me. I was excited. I might not have loved SERIOUS MOONLIGHT but I love her writing, her previous books, and had every reason to expect the same of this one.

But nope.

This book was a chore to read. I pushed through it quickly because the last thing I needed was another slump, and it wasn’t too long, and I just kept waiting for the spark. Or any spark, really. I felt nothing for the characters who were, respectfully, spoiled and or sulky as well as overdoing the charm to the point of not being charming. I felt nothing for the angst over the romance which we were beat over the head with to a ridiculous degree. And honestly the Vlad the Impaler plot/mystery that sent these two gallivanting all over Eastern Europe just.. didn’t really hook me and, like, did it ultimately even matter? I’m so confused.

I also want to say the pitch comparison to THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE definitely had me thinking this was queer. And it is not.

I didn’t love the characters, the angst, the romance, the plot. Even Bennett’s writing, which I normally love, felt different and failed to entice. If this hadn’t been an ARC, I would’ve DNF’d. If this was any other author, I would probably one star. But I just can’t bear to. And I do think maybe this is a me problem? Despite everything?

Anyway, I don’t think this is a series, so I’m relieved about that, but even if it was.. I wouldn’t be reading on.

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

AMERICAN ROYALS by Katharine McGee

What if America had a royal family? If you can’t get enough of Harry and Meghan or Kate and William, meet American princesses Beatrice and Samantha.

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. 
Two girls vying for the prince’s heart. 
This is the story of the American royals.

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren’t just any royals. They’re American. And their country was born of rebellion.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

The duty. The intrigue. The Crown. New York Times bestselling author Katharine McGee imagines an alternate version of the modern world, one where the glittering age of monarchies has not yet faded–and where love is still powerful enough to change the course of history.


Title : American Royals
Author : Katharine McGee
Series : American Royals (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : NA alt-history contemporary
Publisher : Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

AMERICAN ROYALS was a concept I was excited about because, for all the royalty romances out there, we’ve never had one that reimagined, and rewrote, American history to fashion them with royalty (or at least I’ve never seen/read one!). Beyond that, however, I didn’t really know what to expect. My guess was drama, politics, and many things in between.

It’s definitely drama. Politics, not so much. This is all drama. It’s like Gossip Girl on steroids in some ways, I think. Maybe. I only watched like two seasons of that and it was a long time ago and okay maybe I should move away from this comparison.

Princess Beatrice is the eldest, the heir, set to become the country’s first Queen. The laws have changed and the monarchy is looking to be more progressive in regards to inheritance with women not being passed over for just having the bad luck to be born first but female. Yay! But only in that one way. Welp. Commoners are still not eligible for marriage and lo and behold isn’t that who Beatrice finds herself falling in love with? All despite trying to still adhere to the law, to tradition, and find herself an actual suitable match her parents, and the country, will approve of.

Then there’s her siblings, twins Samantha and Jefferson. They have a commoner friend, Nina, with whom they grew up with. Who is trying to keep the royal and regular sides of her life separate. To distance herself from the twins after an event that happened the night they graduated high school. 

Sam, who is everything Beatrice isn’t, who is directionless, troublesome, and Jeff who is beloved by all. And who dumped his longterm girlfriend, Daphne, even though she has no intention of staying dumped.

This book is a lot. I thought I was actually enjoying it at first, despite some of the nastier drama, but honestly I think I kept expecting something of this book that it wasn’t. And that’s on me. I was feeling leftover heartwarming RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE feelings and I thought this was going to be more rom-com, maybe, or just.. fuzzier. But it’s not.

AMERICAN ROYALS is definitely more in line with a soap opera, or reality shows (no shade! but I hate them), while still being clever enough to be riddled with the strangeness of the reimagined history, historical figures, and different way of life. As weird as it was, I sorta liked it, but it might be weirder for actual Americans who actually care, or are patriotic, about it all. I think this book will be a love or a hate; you’ll love the drama or you won’t, you’ll love the alternate universe feel or you won’t. And while I definitely didn’t hate it, I just didn’t love it. 

I couldn’t find myself feeling much for any of the characters or their various plights or plots; I never lost myself in this story or world, I was always keenly aware I was just reading about them. The only one who got much of a reaction out of me was Daphne. At first I just hated her, felt icky about her, but more and more I had to kind of admire her. Not for good reasons. But hey, at least she inspired a reaction.

I might read on, as it’s definitely not a standalone, but I’m not sure I’ll be clamouring for the sequel with the kind of curiosity I had about its predecessor. Mostly I’m just hoping it’s not a trilogy and everything wraps up in two books. Guess we’ll find out.

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

BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE by Evie Dunmore – double review!

A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar’s daughter takes on a powerful duke in a love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke..


Title : Bringing Down the Duke
Author : Evie Dunmore
Series : League of Extraordinary Women
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : historical romance
Publisher : Berkley / Little Brown UK
Release Date : September 3, 2019

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


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

And another debut author smashes it out of the park in 2019!

It is becoming clear to be me why a fair girl like you has been left on the shelf. You are not only bookish but a radical political activist. All highly impractical in a wife.”

BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE was just.. pure fun? Deliciously swoony? Just the right amount of angst?

There came a time in a duke’s life when he rarely encountered an honest opinion, where he could be on his way to hell in a handcart and everyone would politely step aside and wish him godspeed.

You might find yourself looking at this plot summary and thinking, sure sure, read that HR a thousand times. Bluestocking attracts a Duke? Nothing new. And yeah okay maybe. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t worth your time.

Have you by any chance missed that class at finishing school where they teach you to feign delightful ignorance in the presence of a man?
I’m afraid so.”

These characters all but leap off the page. The attraction, the chemistry, the sizzle is.. damn. Their backstory has elements of drama but are never overblown, or overwrought, and come out in the open naturally without being held onto until the last minute. Every up and down, back and forth, push and pull, was so.. organic? And also, strangely, refreshing. Additionally the side characters, the bluestocking suffragettes, were just fabulous. All of them. Hattie might have been my favourite.

Did you really give a man a nosebleed?
Yes.”
Why?
I suppose because the village lads I ran with as a girl didn’t teach me how to slap like a lady.

The specifics of the setting, that this takes place during the opening of the first women’s college, and focuses mostly on women’s rights, feminism, and the injustice of the sexes, I mean.. there’s never a wrong time to tackle those issues but right now it feels so so timely. And how sad is that; this book is set in 1879 and here we are.. still fighting.

She had never really known her place. Where others were appropriately intimidated, she seemed oddly intrigued by the challenge.

This debut is so strong and so clever. The cover might make it seem that this is all lighthearted joy and hijinks but don’t be fooled. This is a love story between people who have their eyes wide open. Who are sensible, and logical, and intelligent. Who know the implausibilities of a union between them and fight it because they know better. Which makes that tension even more delicious. And yes, sure, there is still fun to be had.

Would you have me change my place in history to prove how much I want you?

BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE is compulsively readable and a delight to devour; I finished this in a shockingly small handful of hours which, considering my slumpy month, is a miracle. And I’m ecstatic to see that not only are we guaranteed more from this debut author, but we’re getting more from this series and set of characters. I’m going to be clamouring for more A League of Extraordinary Women books and likely seriously regretting my decision to read this early because now the wait will feel even longer than just a year.

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


Micky’s 5 star review

Hold me, because after reading this, I feel a book hangover coming on. This was a sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of historical romance read but with extra bonuses. What are these extra bonuses I speak of? This was one of the most feminist reads I’ve had in an age and injecting this level of feminism into HR is no easy feat. Second bonus, the battle for equality was on both sides.

Annabelle was low-born, intelligent but encumbered by the will of her cousin for what happened in her destiny. After much struggling she had secured a stipend to be one of the first cohort of women at Oxford. What I hadn’t realised was that life at Oxford for these women was just a smidge of an experience compared to the men. Annabelle joined a suffragette movement and ended up petitioning the Duke of Montgomery, Sebastian.

Sebastian was a stick up his…kind of Duke, a lot cold, obsessed with his duty and roles for the queen and parliament. However, this story is a journey of Sebastian’s unravelling. His character development was vast as he opened up his mind to women’s position in life through Annabelle and also as he opened himself up to being able to feel.

These two had chemistry off the historical charts, with a slow build of kisses and touches. Being together was an undeniable eventuality and it was compulsive reading, beautiful and delicious. I appreciated Annabelle’s prior experience and how this was handled in the book.

She had tried to climb Montgomery like a cat.

The story took me on a journey of giggles, entertainment, longing and some heartbreak. I have come away from this book so delighted by the content that I immediately pressed pre-order on a physical copy because I will be rereading this.

BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE is a debut of exciting proportions, with a slightly slow start but a pace that will delight very quickly. The story, characters and research underpinning this read make it something rather special. Evie Dunmore is an author to watch and I will be waiting with bated breath for her next book. Rounded up to 5 stars.

Thank you to Little Brown for the early review copy.

DARKDAWN by Jay Kristoff – double review!

**Reviews edited April 2021. Micky & Hollis have left their original ratings and reviews but we would like to state that we hadn’t realised the harmful elements of the books in this series until now. For that, we are really sorry – we are referring to Asian stereotyping, antisemitic and albinism elements that have hurt readers. If our original reviews were conveyed as an endorsement of these issues, we want to apologise for that. We are learning and will continue to do so.**

A ruthless young assassin’s journey for revenge comes to a stunning end in the conclusion of this acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy.

The Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia Corvere has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.

Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, across the Sea of Swords, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive?


Title : Darkdawn
Author : Jay Kristoff
Series : The Nevernight Chronicle (book three)
Format : eARC/audiobook
Page Count : 512/22 hours
Genre : YA fantasy/Not YA
Publisher : St Martin’s Press/Hodderscape
Release Date : September 3, 2019

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

Writing a review for book three, or any concluding novel, in a series feels like an impossible task. Not quite up there with writing said concluding novel, or the ones that came before, but.. y’know. Close. Ish.

‘Byss and blood, how did you find us?
I poked my nose into the first whorehouse I saw. After that, I just followed the trail of vomit.”

I lived and breathed this series for close to three weeks or so. I was late to the game but determined to figure out what it was all about as it came to an end. What was this character, who was to murder as a maestro was to music, all about; how dark was it really; and gosh darnit, what was all the fuss about the footnotes?

Do you remember that time we were acolytes and you talked me out of doing something I desperately wanted by appealing to my sensible side?
No.”
Me neither.”

Now I know. Now I understand. Now I can’t wait for you to read this book.

How do you all know each other?
We studied together.”
O aye? Public institution, or Iron Collegium, or..”
.. it was a school for fledging assassins run by a murder cult..
Ah. Private tutors, then.

For those of you who made it as far as GODSGRAVE, and survived that ending, I think you’ll be very very happy with what Kristoff has done, and how he’s done it, in the end. The build, the evolution, the smut, the heartbreak, the hilarity, the vastness of this world.. it’s just something else. I had finished NEVERNIGHT somewhat ambivalent, a little wanting, but I haven’t wanted for much since. The following two instalments have been so much good, with much gore, and even more graceful weavings of such a complex story.

..’deserve’ has nothing to do with this life. Blessings and curses fall on the wicked and the just alike. Fair is a fairytale. Nothing’s claimed by those who don’t want it, and nothing’s kept by those who won’t fight for it. So let’s fight. Fuck the gods. Fuck it all. Let’s take the world by the throat and make it give us what we want.”

And yet I am satisfied. Maybe a little sad. Maybe a little stunned. But satisfied.

If I don’t come back.. remember me, neh? Not just the good parts. The ugly parts and the selfish parts and the real parts. Remember all of it. Remember me.

This is a series I can see myself returning to, maybe even loving enough to award full marks to if I ever do revisit, and that says a lot, I think. More than anything else I could say. Because this is hard to describe. It features young adults, but it’s an adult story. It’s sweet, but brutal. It’s devastating, but heartwarming. It’s heartbreaking, but hilarious. It’s bloody, but adorable. It’s smutty and delightful and complex and yet, ultimately, very simple. It’s also such a visual tale. The city, the mythology, the monstrosities, the sky. Kristoff’s writing is long and descriptive af but damn does it do the job.

Death is the promise we all must keep, sooner or later.

I loved this journey. And I’m excited to read on in this author’s other solo works. But more than that, I can’t wait to experience the reactions of those readers who have waited, and waited, for this ending. I hope it was worth it! Because, though I do think book two miiiight be my favourite, I definitely thought this a worthy conclusion.

Would recommend!

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


Micky’s 4 star review

DARKDAWN felt like a really long book, longer than the others even when I know it’s not, but I feel like so much more happened. The different phases of the story were so different and vast. There was a slightly annoying amount on time spent on the love triangle in this book and considering I’ve never liked Ashlinn, I think we can all guess who I was rooting for in this. The outcome of that was slightly dissatisfying but bearable. After all, it wasn’t the most important part of the book to me.

The dead boy has a fan in me and I thought he deserved so much better but in some ways he was a little one-dimensional in his devotion and zombie-like status. I think this was intentional in terms of who he’d become but I missed the old T. On the one hand I judge Mia for her decisions and on the the other, who am I judge?

The Scava and Jonan storylines were like candy to me, I ate those parts up and adored the journey of the relationship between Mia and Jonan. The stories of Eclipse and Mr Kindly were tough and warm, hard and endearing. Mercurio was Mercurio but with shiny bits. The ocean journeys were long, and the story that became the culmination was less my cup of tea. The final demise of Mia (we don’t have to pretend we don’t know this, it’s the first page of the first book) was a bit of an anti-climax to me. I almost tuned out a bit after this as it kept going, thus my 4 star rating despite much enjoyment earlier.

Holter Graham’s narration continued to bring this story to life in the best way and I’m so glad I took an audio route on this series. I have to disagree with Hollis on the genre, it isn’t YA fantasy in my opinion or Mr Kristoff’s I believe, grim dark fits best. I think this series overall is pretty fantastic and memorable and I’m just going to spend a bit of time getting the phrase ‘Byss and Blood’ out of my head!

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – SEPTEMBER 3, 2019

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!
As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE by Evie Dunmore is a fantastic debut addition to the historical romance genre. This is the first in a series in which a fiercely independent vicar’s daughter takes on a powerful duke in a love story that threatens to upend the British social order. Hollis AND Micky loved this! Look for their reviews tomorrow.

THE HARP OF KINGS is the newest offering from Juliet Marillier. This new series opener features bards and warriors and even has a few throwaway references to her last series, Blackthorn and Grim — but this can totally stand on it’s own. If you love historical fiction with fantasy leanings, specifically fae, you should definitely check this out. And then go back and read all the Sevenwaters books..

DARKDAWN, the final book in the Nevernight Chronicle trilogy, by Jay Kristoff, is off to stab stab stab its way into your heart. Possibly literally. Look for Hollis’ review later today!

THE GIRL THE SEA CAME BACK by Adrienne Young is the companion to SKY IN THE DEEP. I would definitely recommend this viking YA fantasy, particularly to those who didn’t love the first book (like me), because it was everything that was good about book one but.. better and more.

THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS by Katy Rose Pool is a mashup of GRACELING and a more mature Falling Kingdoms while also being a great twisty, epic, dark fantasy. Hollis really enjoyed this and can’t wait for more.


Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!

THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS by Katy Rose Pool

The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it?

For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.

All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Children of Blood and Bone, and An Ember in the Ashes.


Title : There Will Come a Darkness
Author : Katy Rose Pool
Series : Age of Darkness (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 496
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I think when I requested this book, the only bit I knew about it was “the Age of Darkness approaches and five lives stand in its way”. Because when I opened this book and started reading it, I was delightfully surprised. And hooked.

He’d been on his own since he was eleven years old, and in that time he’d traded parts of himself — dignity, virtue, a clear conscience, if he’d ever had those things — to save the whole. He hadn’t balked once.

This actually feels like a more mature, and darker, version of the Falling Kingdoms series. We have multiple POVs and the main characters overlap and connect in various ways, though they aren’t coupling up the way the other series did. Or at least not yet. The over arcing plot is a Big Bad who is looking to eradicate the Graced, a percentage of the population who have powers, who can channel esha (the energy of the world), to their bidding. Some have strength, some can heal, other see the future. So it’s not quite GRACELING where everyone’s Grace is unique, but rather that some are Graced and others.. not. And that’s the big conflict. Beyond the, whole you know, Age of Darkness ending the world and all.

The Paladin were the servants of the Prophets, and they had left to protect their last secret. But what if, in leaving, they had abandoned the Prophets’ subjects at the moment they’d been most needed? Were they then to blame for how hollow the City of Faith had become?

There is a secret order of people who have guarded the last big prophecy from the world, who retreated when the last Prophets left, and this prophecy pulls on the threads of fate for our main characters. Some are harbingers, some are hope, others helpless to do anything but play their roles. It’s twisty and so so compelling. But the author, through her characters, challenges some of those fantasy tropes and sprinkles doubt into the minds of our characters. I felt that to be so great, so authentic, and far more interesting than the usual scope of fantasy archetypes we normally see.

Whether or not you agree with the Witnesses, you cannot deny that you have been held back by the rules set down by the Prophets centuries ago. That the Graced will rule, and the rest of us will merely be footnotes in their stories.”

I’m not sure I have favourites yet but more importantly there wasn’t a single POV I disliked. I loved how the plot played out, the betrayals, the reveals, the mystery that still lies heavy over everything. Again, I hate to make the comparison because plot-wise and theme-wise they aren’t the same, but this is exactly what I wanted when I picked up the Falling Kingdoms series. And it’s also diverse — there seems to be no racism or prejudice.. beyond the fact that the Witnesses and Hierophant want to eradicate the Graced. But, strangely, even his argument lends a kind of logic to it all. I won’t spoil it but.. yeah, I was just really impressed with pretty much everything in this book.

I can’t wait for more!

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