THE TRUEST THING by Samantha Young

Nine years ago, Emery Saunders moved to Hartwell to start her life over as a bookstore owner. Her inability to trust people made it hard for her to find a place in the small community until Jessica Lawson moved to town and befriended the shy beauty.
But there was one person in Hartwell who tried to befriend Emery long before Jessica arrived…

Jack Devlin has his secrets. One of them is that he fell hard for Emery the moment she appeared in Hartwell. Another is that his father blackmailed him into covering up a dark family tragedy. It forced Jack to sever his relationships to protect the people he cared about. Yet, staying away from Emery has not been easy throughout the years and he hasn’t always succeeded. When Jack’s mixed signals hurt Emery once again, she puts him out of her heart for good.
Until the Devlin family secret is finally revealed, freeing Jack from his father’s machinations. What Jack wants more than anything is to repair his relationships, starting with Emery.

However, Emery isn’t ready to forgive and Jack’s not ready to give up.
And when the town’s latest scandal ties Jack and Emery together, Jack is not above using their new reality to prove to Emery once and for all that their love is worthy of the legend of Hart’s Boardwalk.


Title : The Truest Thing
Author : Samantha Young
Series : Hart’s Boardwalk
Format : eARC
Page Count : 380
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus
Release Date : August 18, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Fans of this series have been waiting for this book, for Emery’s story in particular. She’s been a rather special side character, present in most of the book and I have needed to see her story in focus. Thus the joy at this precious landing on my kindle.

I liked the style of storytelling for THE TRUEST THING, it started nine years ago and edged its way through Emery and Jack’s hurtful dance around one another to the present time. It was frustrating, slow-burnish and traumatic all at once but I couldn’t put it down.

The best thing about this story for me, was Emery’s slow emergence from her shell, her shyness and beginning to form friendships to eventually standing up for herself. The female friendships in this group were great reading and felt real to me. There was a moment, a line from Cat that completely cracked me up.

“Dana Kellerman is a pile of shit frosted in diamonds.”

Jack on the other hand, I really struggled at times with him. He frustrated the heck out of me. Yeah, yeah, he had all the reasons but how Emery stayed the hopeful distance is beyond me. I came to a place of grudging acceptance with Jack but I never really liked him.

This series has been a favourite of mine and each book has delivered on story, couples to cheer for and a building groups of characters across Hart’s Boardwalk. THE TRUEST THING really did feature all the couples from the other books and I loved their involvement.

If you’ve not started this series, or you’re not up to date, get on that, so that you can read this final (I think) instalment.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

 

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – AUGUST 18, 2020

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.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY by Matt Haig was actually released August 13th. This sometimes painful story, told with magical realism was rather special. Check out our review here.

THE FAITHLESS HAWK by Margaret Owen is the fantastic sequel to the equally fantastic YA fantasy debut THE MERCIFUL CROW. Fans of the first will be incredibly satisfied and I hope it encourages other readers to pick up book one and binge.

THE TRUEST THING by Samantha Young brings Hart’s Boardwalk to Emery’s story at last. If you’re a fan, you’ll have been waiting for this one.



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

THE BLACK KIDS by Christina Hammonds Reed

Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots.

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?


Title : The Black Kids
Author : Christina Hammond Reeds
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date : August 4, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

THE BLACK KIDS is a compelling look back at a black teen’s life in the Rodney King riots era. This couldn’t resonate more with recent events if it tried, but this was more so focused on Ashley’s realisation about her personal identity. I loved the era and the music but it was hard to like Ashley’s crew of friends.

Ashley was living a less usual life for a black teen, living in a white neighbourhood, going to a mainly white school and choosing to have only white friends. Both at school and at home, she lived a life of privledge and had lost some of her black identity along the way, as her parents aimed to keep her safe, well educated and give her a ‘better’ life.

My parents and grandparents have made it so that Jo and I know nothing. We know nothing of crack or gangs or poverty….We are, according to my father, spoiled rotten little brats.

This story was the unfurling of contemporary events at the time, prompting Ashley to pause, think about who she was, who her friends were and what direction she wanted to go. She had a pretty eclectic family mix and I really liked her sister and that side story. The school friends however, were all superficial friendship with a bit of vile mean girl under the surface. I welcomed seeing Ashley spread her friendship wings.

“Since when do you listen to so much black shit?”
“I’m black,” I say.
“Yeah, but you’re not, like, blackity black,” she says.

This was a full and deep story despite it coming from a seemingly flighty teen. There was great character development and weaving in of the riots of that time. I was absorbed throughout and I really enjoyed the writing. Highly recommended.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster UK for the early review copy.

THE FIXED STARS by Molly Wizenberg

At age 36, while serving on a jury, author Molly Wizenberg found herself drawn to a female attorney she hardly knew. Married to a man for nearly a decade and mother to a toddler, Wizenberg tried to return to her life as she knew it, but something inside her had changed irredeemably. Instead, she would discover that the trajectory of our lives is rarely as smooth or as logical as we’d like to believe.

Like many of us, Wizenberg had long understood sexual orientation as a stable part of ourselves: we’re “born this way.” Suddenly she realized that her story was more complicated. Who was she, she wondered, if something at her very core could change so radically? The Fixed Stars is a taut, electrifying memoir exploring timely and timeless questions about desire, identity, and the limits and possibilities of family. In honest and searing prose, Wizenberg forges a new path: through the murk of separation and divorce, coming out to family and friends, learning to co-parent a young child, and realizing a new vision of love. The result is a frank and moving story about letting go of rigid definitions and ideals that no longer fit, and learning instead who we really are. 



Title : The Fixed Stars
Author : Molly Wizenberg
Narrator : Erin Mallon
Format : Audiobook
Length : 6 hours 21 minutes
Genre : Non-fiction, memoir
Publisher : Dreamscape Audio
Release Date : May 12, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ 


Micky’s 3 star review

Don’t let that cover confuse you. To me, the cover conjures chick lit or romance, but this is non-fiction, a memoir. This memoir tackled interesting themes – understanding sexual orientation, gender and the potential for people to change in these respects as they grow and age. The author, Molly was in her 30s, married and a mother, when she went from feeling 100% straight to a different position.

This memoir was the unravelling of the status quo of her life and her process of working out who she was as a person, a woman, as a sexual being. Molly’s journey was incredibly interesting as was her self examination and discovery. However, the narrative style wasn’t particularly one that appealed to me. This story was told from the present time, then it would jump back into the past with lengthy descriptive periods that just lost my interest. Added to that, the timeline continually jumped back and forth in time but not staying with consistent time periods, if that makes sense. I found that approach jarring and confusing. I also wasn’t particuarly interested in her childhood or college years but I get that they had some foundational relevance.

I liked how the author used other texts and quotes to support her position, how she felt and that her experience was one that others had trodden. I do think it was a brave, exposing memoir.

The narrator is one known to me and not a narrator I favour, so I guess that might have slightly affected my listening experience too.

Overall, I think this is the kind of memoir that will appeal to those interested in a personal lgbtqia+ experience and also those trying to find answers to their own questioning. I generally found this anthropologically engaging and I think many others would too.

Thank you to Libro FM for the #gifted advanced listening copy.

https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781690588672-the-fixed-stars

BADLY BEHAVED WOMEN: THE STORY OF MODERN FEMINISM by Anne-Marie Crowhurst

Badly Behaved Women is the illustrated story of the past 100 years of the women’s movement, from suffrage, alleged bra burning and the politics of hair to Beyoncé, body positivity and #MeToo.

In the early twentieth century, through ceaseless dedication and fearless campaigning, the women’s movement achieved what had previously been unimaginable: a woman’s right to vote. Four waves of feminism and a century on, the rich cultural history of this movement is truly worthy of celebration.

Accompanied by stunning photographs, personal testimony essays from key figures and archive material from sources around the world, Anna-Marie Crowhurst’s compelling and entertaining retelling of this multi-stranded, global and ongoing story also examines the flaws of the movement and the future of feminism.

Personal testimony essays from: Alice Coffin; Juno Dawson; Diana Evans; Nadia Ghulam; Susie Orbach; Helen Pankhurst; Gisela Pérez de Acha; Laura Perlongo; Emeli Sandé; Anne Wafula Strike; Hibo Wardere; Harriet Wistrich; Rosie Wolfenden.


Title : Badly Behaved Women
Author : Anne-Marie Crowhurst
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 192
Genre : Non-fiction
Publisher : Welbeck Publishing
Release Date : August 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

The concept, the size…everything about BADLY BEHAVED WOMEN was stunning. The chapters, the timeline of feminism from 1900s to present time and most of all the powerful pictures supporting the themes were superbly thought out. This book had easy bites for chapters, you could dip in and out as well as read front to back, like I did.

I loved the stroll through history from the early 1900s starting with suffrage for white women , then considering black womens’ experience of this. From the fight to wear trousers to how WWII changed how women were perceived from a usefulness perspective. I found the start of reproductive rights so interesting. Initially, was the right to take the contraceptive pill and having some control over the number of children women had to have (unthinkable at the time that women might not want to have children). I never really thought of this when I started taking the pill, that women had once had to fight to do this. All closely linked to the women’s right to have sex as she chooses.

The book tackles the concepts of equal pay – this is still an issue in my career as is career progression. That said, I’m a white woman, this is so much worse for black women. Women of colour and their experiences were threaded throughout the book but also with some separate chapters as well, featuring some heroes of all our times, such as Angela Davis. Queer womens’ experiences were considered as a discreet chapter but were not particularly threaded through the book.

Not every topic was super serious, there was humour and celebration. Shoulder pads and handbags were featured. We might laugh at the Shoulder pads of the 1980s but they’re were a sign of power, think Grace Jones and Princess Diana.

I really enjoyed reading about the power of the media, such as TV, movies and music. I remember watching some movies when I was young with women as working women, juggling children as though a novelty. Then TV such as Buffy and The X Files where strong women were the centre. All this was alongside the reality of things such as female astronauts in space. I also loved the section on women’s football.

Present times in this book brought us to the #metoo experiences and movement, feminist comedians, and body positivity. The whole read felt like an enlightening and empowering stroll through the collective female journey. I highly recommend this for teens, adults and all genders, it was fantastic.

“Woman are powerful and dangerous.”

Thank you to Welbeck Publishing for the beautiful gifted copy.

THE BOY, THE MOLE, THE FOX, AND THE HORSE by Charles Mackesy

A book of hope for uncertain times.

Enter the world of Charlie’s four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons.

The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie’s first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too.


Title : The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse
Author : Charles Makesy
Format : physical/hardback
Page Count : 128
Genre : literary graphic novel
Publisher : HarperOne
Release Date : October 29, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 5 star review

This is one of the easiest (and, likely, shortest) five star reviews I’ll ever write. Because this is simply one of the loveliest, sweetest, most wholesome, emotional, reads I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting in front of my eyeballs. This might look like a children’s book but the messages within are ageless and cross all genres — this is meant for all people. And has likely never been more important, or needed, than right now.

Do you have any other advice?
Don’t measure how valuable you are by the way you are treated.”

This book is made even more special as it was a gift from my blog buddy. Thank you, Micky, for this loveliness. I can’t wait to reread it. I can’t wait to share it with my niece as she grows up.

I recommend it to one and all.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY by Matt Haig

‘Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?’

A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.


Title : The Midnight Library
Author : Matt Haig
Format : eARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : Literary Fiction
Publisher : Canongate Books
Release Date : August 13, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY was such a clever and engaging concept. The protagonist Nora’s journey was a walk through hopelessness to a chink of light, right through to a place of possibility. I was thoroughly engaged with this strange but wonderful story throughout. It’s a hard one to pin to a genre but I’d call it either magical realism or sci-fi realism…just made up a new one there!

The depiction of depression in this narrative was painfully real, identifiable to anyone who has felt this way or has been close to someone who has. There was no prettying up of the experience, it was raw and gritty. I felt for Nora, even though she wasn’t overly likeable at the beginning. Nora definitely grew on me along the way.

Nora went through her social media. No messages, no comments, no new followers, no friend requests. She was antimatter, with added self pity.

No way am I going to spoil for you what the midnight library was but when it was revealed to me as a reader, I literally felt delighted at the concept. It was fresh and unique but also, I believed in the idea of it, for this story. The stories within the story were all about possiblity, the what ifs, the second guesses, the fantasies and the maybes; it was hard to look up from the page.

Did I have a favourite possiblity or character? Maybe but I think I always knew where it was going to end and that felt just right.

Matt Haig has told a wonderful story through fiction, maintaining his reign as the best mental health advocate out there. No patronising, no assuming, just real and kind. Highly recommended and I’m sure this book will have wide appeal.

Howl, into the night,
Howl, until the light,
Howl, your turn to fight,
Howl, just make it right.

Thank you to Canongate Books for the early review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – AUGUST 11, 2020

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.

BLOODBORN PRINCE by Laura Lascarso is another that was released end of last week, this one on August 7th. This is the hotly anticipated sequel to THE BOOK OF ORLANDO which kickstarted this paranormal fantasy m/m romance series.

STAR DAUGHTER by Shveta Thakrar is a reimagining/homage to Gaiman’s STARDUST but with Hindu mythology. It’s also a YA fantasy but with a contemporary baseline. Also, have you seen that cover?



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

STAR DAUGHTER by Shveta Thakrar

This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.

The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.

Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.


Title : Star Daughter
Author : Shveta Thakrar
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : HarperTeen
Release Date : August 11, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

I couldn’t describe to you the excitement I felt when I mashed up my love for that cover with the realization that this was a STARDUST-inspired fantasy set alongside Hindu mythology. Except that I was, y’know, excited. But maybe my expectations were just too high?

Right off the bat I struggled a bit with the hyper-focus on Sheetal’s preoccupation with her sorta-boyfriend but as things transitioned out of the contemporary, leaving the boy problems behind, and into the fantasy? I was transfixed. The writing was a little offbalance at times, either incredibly flowery with lovely turns of phrase, or none of that at all — making the random switches back to the purple a little hard to gel with, but whatever. We were in some star kingdom in the sky with a competition, an inheritance of power, and it was all going pretty well.

Until it wasn’t.

I’m sad to say the events and conflicts that cropped up along Sheetal’s journey felt very humdrum and constantly pulled me away from the unique and interesting moments I did enjoy. The villains were pretty one dimentional. Occasionally I felt some scenes felt a little jumbled, people appearing and disappearing inconsistently (which, I mean, this is an ARC, that could be fixed before publication). But I also found some repetition just really wasn’t helping me lose myself in story — flame in her core, tingling in her palms, shimmering hair, etc. 

This definitely reads like a debut but there are some lovely shining bits that make me think this is going to be an author to watch. I enjoyed what she took from her insipration of Gaiman’s story and how she built on it, changed it, and made it very original. I really liked some of her prose. I loved the mythology and the culture of the setting. But I found some of the conflicts very typically YA, a little tired, and didn’t enjoy –any of — the characters.

So this is obviously a disapointment, because I was so excited for this, but again, I hope to love her next release.

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

BLOODBORN PRINCE by Laura Lascarso

As a bloodborn Nephilim, Vincent’s power of seduction can compel beings to spill their secrets, but he seeks to know the mysteries of only one man’s soul—those of his protector, Henri.

With the grief of his lover’s fate still fresh, Henri resists Vincent’s amorous advances. Even as the bond between them intensifies, and his self-control falters, Henri won’t risk losing his beloved again.

When Henri takes Vincent as his demon-hunting apprentice, their combined abilities uncover corruption amongst the gods. Tempers flare and loyalties are tested as the lies meant to protect become the same ones that ensnare.

And with divine forces attempting to coerce him at every turn, Henri must distinguish ally from enemy, and truth from deceit if he hopes to protect his bloodborn prince.


Title : Bloodborn Prince
Author : Laura Lascarso
Series : Mortal and Divine (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 374
Genre : paranormal romance / LGBTQIA+ romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : August 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Listen. I am hella privileged to be one of the beta-ish readers for this series so it’s impossible to say that I am totally unbiased about this world after being in it for so long however I do want to say that I’ve read this book three times and I loved it more each time.

This series, in general, is delightful because it feels different from so many other paranormal romances out there, queer or otherwise, and because it’s just dark enough to thrill you without leaning too hard on any particular buttons.

I’ve been waiting so long for a human to enchant me enough that I don’t wish to kill them. But they’ve all turned out to be disappointments.”
You might want to lower your expectations.
Maybe.”

This second installment, in particular, is a little less extreme in the ups and downs both in plot and in what happens to our much loved characters. But considering what we endured at the end of book one? I think Lascarso was just throwing us a bone. Or perhaps lulling us into a false sense of security because who knows what book three has in store for us (I can honestly say, at this point, I don’t even know!).

I made some very ugly and descriptive threats [when I learned about you].
What were some of the threats?
Oh, you know, I’d hunt you down and spit-roast you like a suckling pig. Carve up your flesh and feed it to you, unseasoned. Dissect your body and store your bits in separate jars, without labels.
Without labels? Asshole.
I’m very organized.

In a similar vein, I don’t know what I can really say about this book as it’s a sequel and we don’t believe in spoilers in this house b u t I do not think fans of book one will be disappointed. Yes, the angst and heartache is toned down a bit, but this is not without a few well-timed emotional gut punches, it’s got a few scenes that might send you running to shove your face in freezer, and it’s just as funny, if not funnier, than it’s predecessor. Humour is definitely an underrated element in books, particularly those like these which, as the author herself describes, contain “violence and moral ambiguity.”

Is there a cliffhanger, you might be asking? I’m not telling. But what I will say is that, once again, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars there isn’t a year to wait between these installments. I know I am.

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

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