TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN by Talia Hibbert – double review!

Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral…

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom. 

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse? 

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs. 

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?


Title : Take a Hint, Dani Brown
Author : Talia Hibbert
Series : The Brown Sisters (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Avon/Little Brown UK
Release Date : June 23, 2020

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m going to preface this (likely short and terribly unsatisfying) review by saying I read the first 65% basically in one sitting and then got smacked with a slump for over a week; so while this is definitely a book I loved, enjoyed, swooned at, got weepy over, I can’t know for certain if it wouldn’t have been rated even higher if not for that break. I’m sad I didn’t do right by this book, or this author, and will have to make an effort to reread this (and book one!) before the third comes out. For quality control’s sake. And, like, also, because it was great.

Danika Brown was the queen of one-time things. Zaf wouldn’t know what to do with a one-time thing if it showed up with a fifty-page instruction manual and slapped him on the dick.

Hibbert always fills her stories with representation, of all kinds, and this one is no exception; her treading of sensitive topics ever so considerate; and her steam? (fire emoji fire emoji). We have the sweetest of family dynamics, the focus this time more on Zafir’s side — though we do get some Brown sister moments, of course, but Dani leans on her bestie Sorcha more in this one — and I just.. well, listen, I loved Dani, don’t get me wrong, but big burly RBF’d yet soft and tender Zafir? He stole both my heart and the show.

Liar.”
What?
That’s your lying voice. It’s all tight and scratchy.
Who are you? The bloody.. voice police?
I hope next time you’re in the shower, you think of seventy things you could’ve said just then that would’ve been way better than ‘voice police.’

I know I already mentioned it but it bears repeating : I loved, I laughed, I cried, I hurt, I swooned. It’s a Hibbert. These things kind of go without saying. But here I am saying it twice anyway.

Sweetie, are you crying?
No, I’m leaking masculine pain from my eyeballs.”

I’m certain you’ll love this book. And I can’t wait for book three.

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


Micky’s 4 star review

I hope you are ready to swoon over this book because the hero Zafir is something a bit special. I knew immediately he was going to sell this book, this story line. That’s not to say Dani Brown isn’t a great character, but she’s a contradiction of sharp corners and loyalty; she took some getting to know, to like.

Dani Brown was an academic chasing a PhD (that certainly resonated with me) and pretty career focused. She was only in the market for friends with benefits of any gender. Considering her and Zafir had been friends for some time, stepping it up was almost natural, if it wasn’t for Dani’s rules of engagement. Dani was a curvy, strong and intelligent woman but she knew she didn’t connect emotionally as well to people, so beyond her family she seemed to stop trying. I enjoyed seeing her character grow.

Zafir, Zafir, Zafir…a big, kind, ex-Rugby star, romance-reading, beta-male with anxiety. How could that combination not float my boat? He was considerate, thoughtful and a big bag of lust combined with affection over Dani. The dialogue and inner monologue were perfection and chuckle-inducing.

“Good morning,” he purred, his eyes landing on Dani’s chest like tit-seeking missiles.

Despite Zaf’s niceness towards Dani, he was gruff and grumpy looking. There was a whole back story to Zaf that was deep and engaging. His mental health issues were well written and he was that kind of character that just pulled you in.

“This is just my face. I have a murder face.”

“Honestly, Zafir, you’re so grumpy you could create your own storm clouds.”

The second book in this series had a story just as engaging as the first. These sisters are different, unique and so funny. There were cameo moments for Chloe and Red that made me a little gooey. And Eve…I just know her book is going to be hilarious.

Go get your moves on for TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN. Talia Hibbert just writes these women with a realness and wit that you cannot resist.

Thank you to Little Brown UK for the early review copy.

A MADNESS MOST DISCREET by Laura Lascarso

Michael D’Agostino is a bestselling mystery author suffering from writer’s block when he meets Arden Evans, a beguiling escort and catalog model attempting to write a memoir of his own.

Michael is captivated by the young man, whom he finds refreshingly honest and authentic. When Arden asks that they “keep it simple,” Michael readily obliges. Their arrangement becomes increasingly complicated, however, as Michael begins to want more from his enchanting lover.

And then there is the matter of Arden’s finances, something so fiercely personal that Arden refuses to discuss it. This same debt is what obligates Arden to his wealthy benefactor, much to Michael’s vexation.

Michael wants their love affair to last, but how do you hold onto a man whose gaze is forever fixed on the horizon?


Title : A Madness Most Discreet
Author : Laura Lascarso
Series : A Midsummer Story
Format : eARC
Page Count : 298
Genre : m/m romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : June 20, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

As is often the case with me, I tend to forget what books are about by the time I pick them up. There are obviously times where this isn’t the case but it happens more often than you might think. Case in point : I had convinced myself that Lascarso had written something light and fluffy because a) my brain is a sieve these days due to work and the world and b) that cover is gorgeous and lovely and gives me happy vibes.

This book was way more than the cover implies. But it’s also a Lascarso so I’m an idiot for thinking it wouldn’t be more.. though one day she’ll probably write fluff just to mess with me.

What started out as a story leaning into a PRIDE AND PREJUDICE vibe (as explained by the author herself) due to the economic disparity — as well as the vast distance between opportunity and circumstance — between the protagonist’s situations shifted instead into a something sorta resembling Sex and the City. But with an HBO edge.

You’re cultivating a mystique.
I have to. It’s my only currency.”

This is a story I’ll admit did not hook me right away (though to be fair reading is a struggle these days..). But after a turning point, and I couldn’t even really say what or when that was, I looked up and it was eleven PM on a worknight, so. That says it all.

A MADNESS MOST DISCREET isn’t all sparkling Cosmos and the male-equivalent of Manolo Blahniks (right, that was the shoe? I maybe watched one episode of SatC), there are some less than comfortable situations, abutting completely real and often testy but still lovely friendship dynamics, so much steam it’s unreal, and is, still, somehow, also really sweet.

My one complaint is to do with an element of one of those uncomfortable situations because I do wish it had been clearer if there had been an end-in-sight to a certain arrangement, how long it had lasted, and/or how much traction had been made in the ensuing years.. but perhaps I had missed some of this info, as I did read well past my bedtime and it could’ve been one of those situations where your eyes see the words but the brain doesn’t get the memo. So, as I fully see myself rereading this, I will table that under the “maybe I’m just dumb” and eventually follow up. If it’s not mentioned, I mean, it doesn’t have to be, we as readers definitely get the idea, as well as the breadth of the situation, but it’s something I found myself musing on after finishing the book.

That said, if you couldn’t tell, I definitely recommend, and I definitely want more from this series. Whether that’s a companion, a sequel, or even a book focusing on the other couples. I don’t care what it looks like. I just want it.

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

WHITE FRAGILITY by Robin Di Angelo

The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.

Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.


Title : White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism
Author : Robin DiAngelo
Format : ebook
Page Count : 187
Genre : Non-fiction
Publisher : Beacon Press
Release Date : June 2, 2018

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

WHITE FRAGILITY is one of a range of reads I’m accessing to educate myself further on this journey many of us are on. Most of the non-fiction titles I have planned for myself are own voices reads and whilst this title isn’t, it is relevant and addresses so many pertinent issues. This read is challenging, provocative and makes you examine yourself, your actions previous and now and has provided many ‘oh my’ moments for me (about society and about myself).

Whilst all of the topics in this book have been educational and thought-provoking, these are the areas that have been most useful to me in my self examination and how to challenge racism:
– racial control and the protection of white advantage
– interrupting the forces of racism
– social constructs and their perpetuation of white privilege
– a system of advantage based on race
– institutional power
– reward for not interrupting racism, punishment for interruption
– white fragility in action
– feelings and behaviours

I think this should be part of a range of mandatory high school texts in the UK, influencing evolving thinkers at a crucial time; I wish I had read this earlier. As I move on to more non-fiction reads that get me thinking on my personal journey, I think this was a good starting point.

I have to add that this was a library loan and I was blown away by the excellent selection of reads in multiple formats that my local library has invested in. This may be due to the fact that ten years ago my locality experienced race riots of their own and this investment has been part of the changes in my area.

SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT by Meryl Wilsner


A showrunner and her assistant give the world something to talk about when they accidentally fuel a ridiculous rumor in this debut romance.

Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time–threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.

As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.

With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames? 


Title : Something To Talk About
Author : Meryl Wilsner
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : LGBTQIA+ Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus
Release Date : June 18, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

That gorgeous cover reeled me in to reading the blurb and from there, I knew I wanted to read SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT. What I love about this book was that it sat in true contemporary romance territory, very low on steam, slow burn and with great main characters.

Jo, ‘the boss’ was quietly closeted, as someone in Hollywood, followed by reporters and photographed, she maintained a close privacy. Her assistant Emma, was a younger woman, super efficient and professional and with a small crush on her boss. This story took the office setting and made it interesting.

This book has a fair bit of miscommunication in it, misunderstandings that were just occasionally frustrating. Jo was 100% in charge and Emma was a bit sheepish at times, I wanted to see more of Emma asserting herself but she rarely did. There were interesting themes throughout this story, including #metoo issues. I also loved how asthma was represented in this story, I appreciated seeing that episode so much; I feel it’s so rarely conveyed in fiction.

The slow burn aspect of Emma and Jo’s connection had you hanging on a long time to see their relationship connect the dots. As a fan of slow burn, this was okay with me. However, I would have loved to have seen some epilogue and HEA in there.

SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT was refreshing and a perfect read to start #pridemonth. I would love to read more contemporary romance like this and I hope this is a sign of things to come. Rounded up to 4 stars.

CHASING LUCKY by Jenn Bennett – double review!

Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.

What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.

Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is…


Title : Chasing Lucky
Author : Jenn Bennett
Format : eARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Simon & Schuster Children
Release Date : June 11, 2020 / November 10, 2020

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


Micky’s 4 star review

What Jenn Bennett does to my reading soul is simply the best, I can rely on her that her books will hit the spot, make me happy and smile. CHASING LUCKY was no exception and this story of old friends getting to know one another as teens was gorgeous. There was an eclectic story that had Bennett’s characteristic uniqueness and whit; I got wholly wrapped up in all of it.

Lucky was Josie’s best friend until she left town with her mom, age 12. Returning at age 17 was a different experience with Lucky 2.0, family issues, a mom who frankly was hard to fathom and the grandmother matriarch from hell. Lucky 2.0 though, was the kind of puzzle worth fathoming.

“Whoa,” Evie says, leaning over the counter to peer out the window with me. “Got to admit. Phantom cleans up real nice. He’s the male Medusa. Don’t look into his eyes. Might get your pregnant.”

If you’re familiar with Jenn Bennett’s male characters, you’ll be pleased to know that Lucky was one of her most excellent beta male creations. I loved him in every way; he was genuine, with personality in bucket loads. Josie’s journey to friendship and more with Lucky was worth every page turn.

Josie’s family relationships made for avid reading. The family was truly dysfunctional but not beyond help in most cases. Josie’s relationship with her mother was probably the most frustrating but I felt pretty annoyed with Evie too at moments. The family was able to make me laugh though.

“Be careful” is all Mom warns me very seriously. I’ve got this. It’s only grandmother. Not an actual weapon of war.

I read this book with a smile on my face some of the time. That’s all the recommendation that you need. Go forth and enjoy.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for the early review copy.



Hollis’ 3 star review

I went into CHASING LUCKY with a little bit of trepidation as my last few forays with Bennett post-STARRY EYES haven’t been great. Some I liked ish, others I didn’t at all, so when the first 30% of this book was both not wow’ing me and also veering into not great, uncomfortable, directions? I was anticipating the worst.

But this did, eventually, level out for me.

This story does give off a bit of a STARRY EYES vibe in the sense that Josie and Lucky were friends as young’ins and then something happened to split them apart and now they are trying to reconnect and understand, and navigate, the whys of what happened. And also maybe what could happen if they got close again. I’m still not quite sure I feel we got any real closure, or explanation, as to why they couldn’t continue their friendship from afar but, honestly, that’s the least of my complaints (don’t worry, I really did like it, but yikes). Overall I do think there maybe was a bit of a pacing issue? Or maybe it’s just that we were thrown into a town, and a world, where there’s so much history and so many pre-existing characters from the backstory, that you’re kind of left playing catch up, and not always getting as much time spent on some things, giving them their due, and others have too much time spent on them or spent on nothing much at all? It did sorta give me the Stars Hollow vibe of Gilmore Girls, mixed in with a non-magical Practical Magic-esque family, so that gave it some feeling of familiarity but also the book was also nothing like those things, so. Samey but not?

One of the main components of this story deals with side-bar relationship between Josie’s cousin and an on-again-off-again boyfriend, who causes a lot of drama outside of his stalking and drunken nonsense, and that whole thing? It’s good to see it on page for the younger readers, to understand it’s not acceptable, but yikes how I hated it. So that’s a personal thing for me. I can handle uncomfortable subject matter, have read heaps of things worse than this, but it just rubbed me wrong. And it’s supposed to. Again, I don’t know. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right headspace to deal with it, because we also have lots of lies and miscommunications amongst all sorts of characters, and that ontop of the toxic BS? It was just a lot.

But there was also a bunch of good, too, a bunch of sweet, a bunch of gentle fun, mixed in there in the middle. We had a few big revelations that turned the tide for both the main character and her family and it was around that time where this story just really worked for me. I love that moment where you get the payoff and things come together. I don’t know that I quite liked Josie but I could feel for some of her baggage. And I really liked Lucky. And, as a pair, I really liked when they were sweet on each other and to each other; even when they bickered. Maybe especially then? This story is a bit strange in that so much happens and also not much, it’s both loud and kind of quiet. I did get to that like stage for CHASING LUCKY but this won’t be a favourite. But if not for that goodness, that sweetness, this wouldn’t be a three. So it was something of a close call.

If you’re a Bennett fan, and can withstand some of the messy bits within this read, I think you’ll be very happy. If you’ve yet to read this author and are looking for more good YA contemporary, you definitely need this Bennett on your radar. This might not the smoothest ride but you don’t have to go too far back into her backlist to find pure greatness.

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

BLOG TOUR (UK) – BEACH READ by Emily Henry

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.


Title : Beach Read
Author : Emily Henry
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 384
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Viking Books/Penguin
Release Date : July 9, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I’m going to preface this whole review by saying this was not the totally light read that I was expecting, with more serious tones to the story than I thought. BUT it was an easy reading experience with two characters that engaged the pages immediately and who had the most interesting yet heavy baggage.

The idea of two authors writing in different genres was an enticing one and the context did not disappoint. The grudging friendship and buddy writing including exposure to one another’s processes enriched the story as they navigated their mutual emotional mess and writer’s block.

I’ll take you through my research process. I’ll help you lean into your latent nihilism, and you’ll teach me how to sing like no one’s listening, dance like no one’s watching and love like I’ve never been hurt before.

January’s family situation had me wanting some answers all the way through and Gus’ elusiveness about revealing himself also left me guessing. Some of reveals about Gus had me giddy with the feels.

Why does this book deserve the hype it’s getting? The dialogue was a dream, I highlighted almost nonsensically as I read, loving how Gus and January interacted with one another through their friendship and journey to more. My favourite moments had to be some of the window notes. January in particular was the queen of the killer quip and I adored her sharp-shooting humour.

BEACH READ seems to be the it-read of the summer season and I can’t argue with that. It wasn’t hard to pick up but it’s definitely hard to put down. I’m joining the crowd of people recommending you pick this one up.

BLOG TOUR – AIX MARKS THE SPOT by S.E. Anderson

Hi everyone! Today we’re excited to participate in the bookstagram & creative blog tour for Aix Marks the Spot by Sarah Anderson organized by MTMC Tours! Sent to live with her estranged grandmother in Provence, 16 year old Jamie finds her parents’ old love letters – and clues to a secret treasure hunt that could save her family after the accident that tore them apart , the full synopsis is below. This YA Contemporary Travel Romance releases on June 16th, 2020 from Seabreeze Books!


One of the things I wanted to talk about is how hungry this book made me. The French are known for their delicious food and viewed through Jamie’s novice taste buds, I just wanted to eat EVERYTHING.

I’m talking croissants (of course), brioche glacee which I wanted to taste myself so much, saussisson with a white gravy, barbecue skewers of meat and veggies…oh and a bit of champagne!


SYNOPSIS
Jamie has been dreaming of this summer forever: of road trips and intensive art camps, of meeting cute boys with her best friend Jazz. What she didn’t count on was the car accident.

Exiled away from her family as her mother slowly learns to walk again, Jamie is sent to Provence and trapped in an isolated home with the French grandmother she has never met, the guilt of having almost killed her parents, and no Wi-Fi. Enough to drive a girl mad. That is, until, she finds an old letter from her father, the starting point in a treasure hunt that spans across cities and time itself. Somehow, she knows that the treasure is the key to putting her shattered family back together and that whatever lies at the end has the power to fix everything.

Armed only with a high-school-level of French and a map of train lines, she must enlist the aid of Valentin, a handsome local who’s willing to translate. To save her family, she has castle ruins to find and sea cliffs to climb; falling for her translator wasn’t part of her plan…


Title : Aix Marks The Spot
Author : S.E. Anderson
Format : eARC
Page Count : 380
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Seabreeze Books
Release Date : June 16, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This was an engaging coming-of-age story of an American-French teen, Jamie. Set in Provence, it gave me Love & Gelato vibes but it floated my boat so much more than that book did. That said, I do think fans of that series would be drawn to this story.

Jamie arrived in Provence on a rush, sent by her parents to stay with her rather eccentric Grand Mere she had never met. It became immediately apparent that there was a language barrier and one of the things I liked about this book was picking through the french and translated dialogue peppered throughout. I liked guessing and testing my school French but I was always left understanding what was being said. Jamie was left to her own devices and had to explore the local village where Valentine took pity on her. What ensued was a crazy adventure, a treasure map set by one of her parents nearly twenty years ago and a colourful few weeks of fun.

A cute, nerdy French boy wanted to show me around a castle and knew exactly what cheeses I was going to like. Talk about a fairy tale…

Except this really wasn’t a fairy tale, underpinning this whole story was a terribly dysfunctional family, long in the making, that needed to communicate. Grand mere was frankly a little scary, intimidating and giving mixed (French) messages all over. The situation back home was complex and Jamie was stuck in a rut with regards to her thinking about it all.

They say the opposite of love is hate, but it really isn’t, it’s indifference.

AIX MARKS THE SPOT was a fun read, a cute read even but it had serious tones with a solid plot line and great character development. It’s the kind of book to be demolished in a day or weekend with truly summer vibes which I really appreciated on a hot day locked-down in my garden. Rounded up to 4 stars.

Thank you to MTMC Tours and the author for the early review copy. You can hop over to Micky’s bookstagram for a better look at the book .

All the buy links are here:
Links: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository | B&N


About Sarah Anderson:
S.E. Anderson can’t ever tell you where she’s from. Not because she doesn’t want to, but because it inevitably leads to a confusing conversation where she goes over where she was born (England) where she grew up (France) and where her family is from (USA) and it tends to make things very complicated.

She’s lived pretty much her entire life in the South of France, except for a brief stint where she moved to Washington DC, or the eighty years she spent as a queen of Narnia before coming back home five minutes after she had left. Currently, she is working on her PhD in Astrophysics and Planetary sciences in Besançon, France.

When she’s not writing, or trying to science, she’s either reading, designing, crafting, or attempting to speak with various woodland creatures in an attempt to get them to do household chores for her. She could also be gaming, or pretending she’s not watching anything on Netflix.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram


JUST FRIENDS by Holly McCulloch

It’s easy to put someone in the friend zone. But what happens if you change your mind?

Bea isn’t happy. Desperate for a change, she looks to her friends for inspiration. Every single one of them is paired off, perhaps that’s what she needs too.

So, she starts dating again. But everywhere she goes – amid the hilarious and scarring dates – there’s Peter. Good old, oddball Peter, her closest friend from university. He’s always been firmly in the friend zone but something’s happened lately – he seems taller, more handsome and suddenly making him smile is Bea’s favourite thing.

But how can Bea possibly risk their friendship? And how do you even go about taking someone out of the friend zone? What if Bea and Peter were only ever meant to be just friends…


Title : Just Friends
Author : Holly McCulloch
Format : eARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Transworld Digital
Release Date : June 11, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

I have a weakness for friends to more stories and that’s what pulled me in to request this book. This is an adults friends story and Bea and Peter were old university friends, surrounded by other old friends, in couples, marriages and other situations.

It took me some time to warm to Bea as a character, I just found her a little dry and difficult to like initially but she did improve on further reading. However, Peter was easy to like immediately, he was an awkward, quirky character but there was just something warm, loyal and genuine about him. From my perspective, Bea needed to earn his favour and work to deserve him, even if that’s not how it was written.

The story moved from dating other people to a realisation of attraction and possibility; there were funny moments and banter along the way. This was a quick and pleasant read that I read fairly easily in a couple of sittings but it didn’t set my heart on fire like I hoped. I didn’t always feel the chemistry like I wanted to but I did like the story development overall.

This is ideal for a weekend contemporary and light read, maybe the beach if anyone gets to go there!

Thank you to Transworld Digital for the early review copy.

DRAGON UNLEASHED by Grace Draven

A dragon shapeshifter and a healer with power over the earth fight a corrupt empire in this thrilling and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Magic is outlawed in the Krael Empire and punishable by death. Born with the gift of earth magic, the free trader Halani keeps her dangerous secret closely guarded. When her uncle buys a mysterious artifact, a piece of bone belonging to a long-dead draga, Halani knows it’s far more than what it seems. 

Dragas haven’t been seen for more than a century, and most believe them extinct. They’re wrong. Dragas still walk among the denizens of the Empire, disguised as humans. Malachus is a draga living on borrowed time. The magic that has protected him will soon turn on him–unless he finds a key part of his heritage. He has tracked it to a group of free traders, among them a grave-robbing earth witch who fascinates him as much as she frustrates him with her many secrets.

Unbeknownst to both, the Empire’s twisted empress searches for a draga of her own, to capture and kill as a trophy. As Malachus the hunter becomes the hunted, Halani must risk herself and all she loves to save him from the Empire’s machinations and his own lethal birthright.


Title : Dragon Unleashed
Author : Grace Draven
Series : Fallen Empire (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : fantasy romance
Publisher : Ace
Release Date : June 9, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Much like my experience with PHOENIX UNBOUND, book one in the Fallen Empire series, I have very mixed feelings over this read. Mostly because I have adored so many of Draven’s stories and want to support this well-deserved achievement in being lifted up by one of the big publishing houses. But the reality is this just seems like such a lesser offering than all her previous tales.

I remember saying it in my review for book one, but this writing? It doesn’t feel at all like Draven. I feel so removed, so disconnected, by everything. The plot, the characters, the dialogue. It’s awkward or stilted or poorly transitioned. It feels like a debut author as opposed to a seasoned one who was often wowed me, stunned me, made me burst out laughing, with her words. I definitely felt some chemistry and excitement in book one’s pairing, fitting as one character wielded the power of fire, but this one? Way less chemistry, less connection, and there was only one moment between them where I felt.. something. Maybe because I appreciated that two people, with different backgrounds and perspectives, could do some self-reflection and appreciate they didn’t understand what it was like to be in each others’ shoes. But everything else..?

I wanted to be wowed by this, I wanted to feel that rounding up on book one had paid off with this follow up story, but instead I want to go back and knock off a star from PHOENIX UNBOUND. I’m sad. 

I don’t know if there’s more to come from this series but I’m sure I’ll pick it up anyway. Particularly if it helps to ease the pain of waiting for the next Wraith Kings installment.

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

KINGS OF THE WYLD by Nicholas Eames

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best — the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld. 

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk – or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It’s time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld. 


Title : Kings of the Wyld
Author : Nicholas Eames
Series : The Band (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 544
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : February 21, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

This book was so much damn fun.

If the idea of a bunch of past-their-prime warriors getting back together to help save the daughter of one of their buddies doesn’t appeal to you..? Well, I mean, fine. But you’re missing out.

How do I look?
Old.”
Tired.”
Fuck you guys.”

This story is hilarious, both in concept and execution, as well as dialogue, but it’s also poignant, moving, nostalgic, and bittersweet. Their glory days are behind them, they’ve grown old, and fat, and worn down by life and circumstances, but they still band together (as a band, elle oh elle), they still have each other’s backs, even when the odds are great none of them will survive. Which is no different from the odds they faced back in the day but see aforementioned old, fat, worn down.

How many hopeless battles have we fought?
A few..
And how many did we win?
All of them?
All of them. And yeah, sure, we’ve just been robbed by a gang of girls–
Twice.”
Twice, yes, well.. we’re a bit rusty.

The cast of characters are delightful, the circumstances bizarre, and the world is even weirder. But it’s also vivid and fascinating and unbelievably tongue in cheek and/or witty and sometimes both. There’s a very modern appeal to this story — not unlike the reason we have movies like The Expendables, I guess, and delight in seeing old favourites reunite and flex their atrophied muscles for the greater good — and beyond the fantastical creatures, the heart of this story is friendship, family, love. 

I honestly don’t know what else to say. I had such a great time, and was so invested not only in the events of the book but the way the story would pause, give a moment or observation space, and then slap you in the face with something hilarious. I have so many highlights and so few original words to prop them up against, so : to sum up? Read this book. Meanwhile I’ll just be over here counting down the seconds until I can dive into the sequel.