HEARTSTOPPER VOLUME 3 by Alice Oseman

In this volume we’ll see the Heartstopper gang go on a school trip to Paris! Not only are Nick and Charlie navigating a new city, but also telling more people about their relationship AND learning more about the challenges each other are facing in private…

Meanwhile Tao and Elle will face their feelings for each other, Tara and Darcy share more about their relationship origin story, and the teachers supervising the trip seem… rather close…?


Title : Heartstopper Volume 3
Author : Alice Oseman
Series : Heartstopper
Format : online via webtoon
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Hodder Children’s Books
Release Date : February 6, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Sooo because of a case of epic frantic “more more” clicky finger I skipped right past the end of this volume and found myself in what is clearly (after reading the synopsis) volume four. Oops. Spoiler alert : it’s good.

But as for what amounts to this installment, I really did like it. Obviously. That said, I did like a tiny bit less than volume two, hence the slight downgrade, but what I did love is that we spent more time branching out into the friend group — and in a fun little direction I didn’t think Oseman would lean into, loved that element — which makes sense as the boys break out of their insular little twosome bubble.

I’m hesitant to say more as I truly don’t know where volume three should’ve ended if not for being click happy so.. I’ll just button it for now. And maybe come back to this review for some added thoughts once I’ve read the overdrive version.

THE WINTER OF THE WITCH by Katherine Arden

Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingaleand The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

The Winternight Trilogy introduced an unforgettable heroine, Vasilisa Petrovna, a girl determined to forge her own path in a world that would rather lock her away. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all. 


Title : The Winter of the Witch
Author : Katherine Arden
Series : Winternight (book three)
Format : physical hardback
Page Count : 372
Genre : historical fiction/fantasy
Publisher : Del Rey Books
Release Date : January 8, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This was a reread for me, though unlike the other books in the series it was only my second time doing so. Not to sound like a broken record but I still cannot believe how long it’s been since originally reading this series, considering how much I love this world, but I am so happy to have been reunited.

Love is for those who know the griefs of time, for it goes hand in hand with loss. An eternity, so burdened, would be a torment. And yet –yet what else to call it, this terror and joy?

Unlike my recent reviews for book one and two, however, I am SOL to cheat and just copy in parts of my original reviews from GR here to the blog. Mostly because I was too in my feels to properly review it at the time. And I’m pretty much right back in the same boat so, like, damn this sucks.

The world has lost its wonder.

As opposed to the book which resoundly does not.. suck, that is.

You shouldn’t have told them I was a girl. Then they might have believed that I was dangerous.

If I thought I couldn’t say much about book two its a whole lot of that but more for a finale. But if you’re expecting a big confrontation, or two (or three?), a whole bunch of secrets revealed, heartbreak, and romance, and tears, and more? You’ll get it. A lot of all of that.

I am sorry for this awful non-review review but you’ll just have to believe that the book, this series (this author!), is worth reading. I truly honestly cannot recommend this series enough. And cuddling up to it on Christmas Eve, with some much deserved snow coming down? Nothing better.

THE GIRL IN THE TOWER by Katherine Arden

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.


Title : The Girl in the Tower
Author : Katherine Arden
Series : Winternight (book two)
Format : physical hardback
Page Count : 384
Genre : historical fiction/fantasy
Publisher : Del Rey Books
Release Date : December 5, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This was a reread for me, my third in fact (!), and yes if you’re feeling deja vue I had also just reread The Bear and the Nightingale for the third time, too. I still cannot believe how long it’s been since originally reading this series, considering how much I love this world, but I am so happy to be reunited.

Witch. We call such women so, because we have no other name.

That said, as with my recent review for book one, I’m going to cheat and just copy in parts of my original reviews from GR here to the blog. Mostly because I’m lazy but also because none of my opinions have actually changed.

Has the world run dry of warriors? All out of brave lords? Are they sending out maidens these days to do the work of heroes?
There were no heroes. There was only me.


I honestly don’t know how to review this book. So much of this story relies on book one’s plot and information but the basics are : The Girl in the Tower is a story about a brave girl and her impossible horse. But it’s also a story about the tug of war between the faith in the old world, the myths and the legends, and that of God and wealth and power. It’s about the harsh bite of cold, the hollow cramp of an empty belly, villages burned to the ground, girls stolen away in the night, and a power desperate to be unleashed from its bridle. And through all that, Vasya is still fighting for her place in the world — not that of marriage or stuck in a convent, but for adventure.. and to be believed by those she loves. The politics in book two take a sharp turn, though they’ve always been present, and an uprising must be stopped even as an ghost from Vasya’s past, who plays a significant role in a present-day evil, is laid to rest.

It is going to end. One day. This world of wonders, where steam in a bathhouse can be a creature that speaks prophecy. One day, there will be only bells and processions. The chyerti will be fog and memory and stirrings in the summer barley.

The Bear and the Nightingale is like a slow-moving chill, it creeps up on you and chips away at your warmth ever so subtly, until you’re frozen. Whereas The Girl in the Tower is more like trying to out-pace a blizzard. Both books are enjoyable but in this sequel we see Vasya tested even more than she was in the first book.. and we also see her rise above. She gets a glimpse of who she could be if not for the constraints of her sex and it’s bittersweet and beautiful.

Curiosity is a dreadful trait in girls.” 

Knowing how this one played out in advance, I loved picking up on all the clues, all the foreshadowing, that Arden laid out for her readers. None of the excitement was lost; and certainly none of the trepidation, either, for a specific chapter with a certain race. I now feel my own bit of added trepidation knowing what awaits me in book three. I want to race to it but I also want to lurch to a halt and wait. I want both. I want it all.

Suffice it to say, you need to read these books. Arden’s series is atmospheric, harsh, brutal, unkind, beautiful, magical, wonderful, hopeful. It’s everything. You deserve some of that.

DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST by Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier brings us a beautifully re-imagined version of the Six Swans myth in Daughter of the Forest.

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift–by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all… 


Title : Daughter of the Forest
Author : Juliet Marillier
Series : Sevenwaters #1
Format : Paperback/Audio
Page Count : 416
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Tor Books
Release Date : May 5, 2000

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Wow, wow, wow. A late contender for my favourites of 2020 bookshelf but so worthy. I’ve been meaning to read Daughter of the Forest for a few years, had the audio, then recently acquired the paperback and I read it with these formats in tandem.

This was a description-rich story told over a number of years and it captured my imagination almost immediately. The setting of the forest, the Celtic family, the mystical islands and the sense of magic were enchanting. Sorcha a girl on the cusp of woman-hood was a character that I felt invested in. Her affinity and intuition with the forest made for good reading.

I don’t want to speak to the plot at all but it was such a tale, a tale I hadn’t read before but with plot lines that I really enjoyed. Some of the plot was just painful, the difficulties Sorcha and her family endured just hurt my heart. As the story travelled in years and location, the characters navigated some saving moments and awful ones too.

There were some fabulous characters to hate. Lord Richard and Lady Oonagh should win some kind of Maleficent award for their actions and behaviour. All the boos!

As the story wrapped up, I found myself emotional, fulfilled, heart-aching and wonderfully satisfied. I can’t wait to read on in the series

This definitely isn’t a story to rush; its detailed and full of the kind of depth that is worthy of savouring. This was published 20 years ago and although I’m late to the party, I do think readers will be discovering this still for decades to come.

Guess who rec’d this to me…yep, Hollis.

HEARTSTOPPER VOLUME 2 by Alice Oseman

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the second volume of HEARTSTOPPER, for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon. 

Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie’s gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn’t. 

But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family … and himself. 

Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us. 


Title : Heartstopper Volume 2
Author : Alice Oseman
Series : Heartstopper
Format : online via webtoon / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Hodder Children’s Books
Release Date : July 11, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5



Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This was rude. I teared up like three times.

This was everything pure and lovely and cute from book one but more, better, fabulous. This is one of the softest things I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing whilst still, again, tackling issues like homophobia and bullying. Nonetheless the enduring sweetness and joy, and delight, is just so powerful.

If I thought I had steamrolled through volume one it was nothing compared to how I clicked through this one. Compulsive. Addictive. Yes, more. Also, shoutout to my buddy who hooked me up with the webtoon version so I wouldn’t have to wait on my library. Though I haven’t given up my hold as I will absolutely want to reread this when it pops up and experience it all over again.

Also, once again this review is not quite the greatest thing ever but you know what is? Micky’s. You can find her thoughts here for volumes one AND two.

Editing to add, after having read the official eBook version via my library, I maybe loved it a tiny bit less (I’m dropping down a tiny .5), but there were a few flourishes I don’t remember from the online version and I thought they were lovely. This is still the cutest thing ever.

DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS by Laini Taylor

What power can bruise the sky?

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited — not in love, but in tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as — from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond — humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. 



Title : Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author : Laini Taylor
Series : Daughter of Smoke & Bone (book three)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 640
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : April 17, 2014 (original) / December 1, 2020 (new editions!)

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

I have so many feelings.

Also it’s nice to have memories because wow did I have very few of those for this installment! I definitely clung to very few recollections of any events post-book one and honestly it made the whole experience feel like the first time. I kind of love that this is how it went down.

In the legends, chimaera were sprung from tears and seraphim from blood, but in this moment they are, all of them, children of regret.

I can definitely see why this ending made many readers mad and I think I’m somewhere in the middle. There was definitely A Lot jammed in right at the end but it also didn’t feel too rushed. It was just a hard left when you think you’re going right. But also, I kind of love it? Like another series I read recently which took a lot of unexpected and not-so-popular and very risky choices, I feel this was one of those. And I guess in my old age I’m appreciating the unconventional a little more.

It was a new idea for him, that happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won — some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it — but something to carry doggedly with you through everything.

Plus, having read her more recent series, I think I finally understand the tie-in. It’s nothing to the extent that you need to read one to read the other but. Something. I’m not spoiling anything but I had a moment and then my brain tried to remember the ending of MUSE OF NIGHTMARES and I sprained something, so that was a bust, but. I feel another Taylor reread coming on.

Anyway, I just had such a good time, truly. There’s not going to be any kind of insightful breakdown or poetical word weaving in this review. Taylor’s writing is gorgeous. She loves to torment her characters (and us). There is plenty of darkness but always hope. And there are moments of such silliness, such every-day-ness by having certain “normal” persons woven in amongst all the monsters and magic, gods and other worlds, that it just grounds everything. It all just works.

You are a conniving, deceitful hussy. I stand in awe.”
You’re sitting.
I sit in awe.

I do think, in hindsight of this reread, I might love the Strange the Dreamer duology more. But I would need to reread that one to confirm my five stars are still five stars. Because this series did lose a star from each book during this experience. I still love them, and will likely revisit again in a couple years, but sometimes the bowled over and devastated or delirious feeling doesn’t quite come back. Nonetheless, I had so much fun rereading these, and it was absolutely everything I needed right now.

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

HEARTSTOPPER VOLUME 1 by Alice Oseman

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…? 

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…




Title : Heartstopper Volume 1
Author : Alice Oseman
Series : Heartstopper
Format : graphic novel eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 288
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Hodder Children’s Books
Release Date : February 7, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

This has been a long overdue read for me, mostly because I put it off thinking I would not enjoy (I don’t know where I got this idea..), and also because of sudden demand through my library, and luckily this popped up on my holds just when I needed a distraction.

This glosses over a host of topics in a fairly easy flip, but when I say gloss I don’t mean to imply anything is taken or handled lightly, and I think that’s because you get a double impact via the dialogue and the expressions and actions of the illustrations. It packs a punch whilst still distracting you with sweetness or pretty things and works to balance it all really well.

I flew through this so quickly as is fairly typical for a graphic novel. This might have been a series that would be better to binge, and I definitely wish I had the rest on hand, too, but alas.. we must continue to wait.

If you’re looking for a sweet YA graphic novel to lift your spirits, or if you need something to bump that GR reading goal up, you can’t go wrong with this.

Also, this review is not quite the greatest thing ever but you know what is? Micky’s. You can find her thoughts here but just be mindful she’s also reviewed volume two on the same post. Watch out for any potential spoilers incase you’re averse.

THE OFFICE PARTY by Whitney G

I can’t believe that I pulled my boss’s name for our company’s annual Secret Santa tradition…

As the devil incarnate, this infuriating, cocky bastard never gives us the holidays off, and he honestly expects us to be grateful for his generous alternative: The Office Party.

It’s a mandatory, all-expenses trip for two weeks at a surprise luxury resort—where we still have to work twelve to fifteen hours a day.

I’m so over this…

So, I put zero percent effort into his gift. I tear the tag off whatever my sister gifts me, add a five-dollar amazon gift card, and hand it off to him.

It’s not until my sister sends me a text that I realize how terrible of a decision that was.

If that’s not bad enough, this year’s “luxury trip” will be in my hometown–the place I’ve avoided for years. At the resort that my grandmother owns…

If the universe gets me out of this, I will never ‘regift’ anything ever again… 


Title : The Office Party
Author : Whitney G
Format : eARC
Page Count : 117
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : WGW Books/Indie
Release Date : December 18, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star review

This short Christmas steamy novella was classic Whitney G and it was perfect for a one-sitting with a cup of something and a snack. It gave all the hate-to-more, heat and Christmassy vibes all in one and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The male MC was the boss and his top executive was the female MC, Savannah. I was glad that the boss was less of an a-hole than many of her books and the pretend hate was just a load of fun. Savannah ended up pulling her boss’ name in the secret santa.

Whoever pulls Mr West’s name in the Secret Santa game this year, can you please gift him ten hours of psychological therapy? Then again, can we all pitch in for that anyway?

I would love to see Whitney G do a little role reversal in future books where the female is in a position of power rather than the hero. I like her brand of characters but I’d also like to see some variety on occasion.

So go forth and make your afternoon or evening’s free time with this short gem to get you into the season.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

STARBREAKER by Amanda Bouchet

Captain Tess Bailey and Shade Ganavan never wanted to be heroes. Now, revolution is in the wind and the universe on the brink of catastrophic war. Tess, Shade, and the remaining crew of the Endeavor are still the galaxy’s Most Wanted. With the Dark Watch—and every bounty hunter known to humankind—scouring the known sectors for them, the situation couldn’t be more desperate.

The clock is ticking. As their attraction builds and secrets are revealed, Tess and Shade must decide if they trust each other enough to plan their next move together. They could change the course of history…or at least bring hot water to the showers aboard the Endeavor. They’ll just have to tackle one crisis at a time.



Title : Starbreaker
Author : Amanda Bouchet
Series : Endeavor #2
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 448
Genre : Sci-fi Romance
Publisher : Piatkus, Little Brown UK
Release Date : November 5, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★



Micky’4 star review

The world of the Endeavor is one that I’m fully on board with. I really enjoyed being back with Tess, Shade, Jax and Merrick in particular. This crew are a family, found family and I have all the needy vibes now for book three.

As with book one, this was a fast-paced read, for all nearly 500 pages of it. Sometimes, I felt like I had to hold on tight with the drama and I let it sweep me along; that’s not a negative, just a sense of the tension this read brings.

I knew in book one that there was something fishy about Uncle Nate, so his storyline in Starbreaker didn’t surprise me and I liked where it was going but I’m gonna need that conclusion from book three. Shade and Tess gave me life and I enjoyed the development of something deeper from them. As with book one, I didn’t always gel with the on-page steam.

Close? It was all I could do not not flinch. I didn’t want close. I wanted fucking combined.

Bonk, the ship’s cat was just a delight, I’m such a sucker for animal companions. When he was in the story, I was at 100% attention. I could have done with a bit more of him.

Bonk followed her out like Tess was the comet and he was the tail that trailed behind her.

This is definitely sci-fi that’s heavy on the romance but I’ve found a world and family that I’m invested in and eager for the conclusion.

Thank you to Piatkus for the finished review copy.

A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS by Robyn Carr

A Christmas Miracle in Virgin River

Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life, and gave her three more years with him. Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby to safety in Fallujah four years ago then disappeared. Since then, Marcie’s letters to Ian have gone unanswered.

When Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River she finds a man haunted by his past and afraid to look to his future. Not easily scared off Marcie pushes her way into Ian’s reclusive life to see beyond his pain to the man he once was. The man he can be again.

Ian doesn’t know what to make of the determined young woman who forces him to look into the painful past and, what’s worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.


Title : A Virgin River Christmas
Author : Robyn Carr
Series : Virgin River #4
Format : eARC
Page Count : 296
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Mills & Boon
Release Date : November 1, 2011

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I have a happy sigh over here because I am the worst to please when it comes to Christmas stories; they rarely work for me. I knew this one had a chance because I’ve become a fan of this series, both book and TV.

What was fabulous about this Christmas story was that the Virgin River characters were very in the background and the main characters were two new recruits to the series. This story was very focused around marine (combat) experiences which fit with Jack and Preacher’s legacy well.

Marcie was a widow of a marine searching for the best friend and Sargeant of her late husband. Ian was that man but really he was a wild bear of man, nomading in the wilderness, in a very sparse cabin. Their story was just beautiful and their forced proximity was aided by flu, snow, Doc and Mel. Marcie won me over with her determination and big heart.

There was a scene in the book where Marcie recounted her late husband’s death and I had quiet tears just dripping down. This book truly had all the feels. I really hope that these two characters will feature further in the series because I am such a fan.

Thank you to Mills & Boon for the review copy to fit with the season.

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