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NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – OCTOBER 20, 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.


Plain Bad Heroines by Emily A. Danforth has been pitched as, “a story within a story within a story and featuring black-and-white period illustrations, Plain Bad Heroines is a devilishly haunting, modern masterwork of metafiction that manages to combine the ghostly sensibility of Sarah Waters with the dark imagination of Marisha Pessl and the sharp humor and incisive social commentary of Curtis Sittenfeld into one laugh-out-loud funny, spellbinding, and wonderfully luxuriant read.” Consider us intrigued!

Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston is a story we have no idea about. But it has a gorgeous cover and early reviews have thrown about UPROOTED and THE BONE HOUSES, two books we here at the blog loved.

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult takes the themes of Egyptology and death weaving them into a heavy tale of two possibilities for the protagonist, Dawn.

My Heart Underwater by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo is a LGBTQ+ YA read set between the US and the Phillipines. This story has a number of tropes including a teacher-student connection. This is an own voices book and you should check some own voices reviews on this too.

The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett is a another LGBTQ+ book but this time set in a YA fantasy world that felt rather fresh. Its full on magic and focuses on the premise that the family want to kill one another!


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

MY HEART UNDERWATER by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

After Corazon’s mother catches her kissing her older female teacher, Corazon is sent to the Philippines to live with a half brother she barely knows. There she learns more about loss and love than she could have ever imagined.

Corazon Tagubio is an outcast at her Catholic school. She’s attending on scholarship, she keeps to herself, and her crush on her teacher Ms. Holden doesn’t help anything. At home, Cory’s less-than-perfect grades disappoint her mom and dad, who are already working overtime to support her distant half brother in the Philippines.

When an accident leaves her dad comatose, Cory feels like Ms. Holden is the only person who really sees her. But when a crush turns into something more and the secret gets out, Cory is sent to her half brother. She’s not prepared to face a stranger in an unfamiliar place, but she begins to discover how the country that shaped her past might also change her future.

This #ownvoices story takes readers on a journey across the world as Cory comes to understand her family, her relationships, and, ultimately, herself.


Title : My Heart Underwater
Author : Laurel Flores Fantauzzo
Format : eARC
Page Count : 288
Genre : YA contemporary/LGBTQIA
Publisher : Quill Tree Books
Release Date : October 20, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This was a gritty LGBTQIA coming-of-age story that moved from the US to the Phillipines. If you like messy family drama, this one will fulfill that remit. It had an inappropriate teacher-student relationship which I struggled with somewhat but there was a satisfying developing in the main character’s understanding over that element which helped how I felt.

It was a story of two halves for me, a more gripping first half, full of drama but a slower-paced second half that was wonderfully rich with Filipino culture. The main character Cory was bounced around out of her control, forced to travel back to the Phillipines but it proved an positive experience in the end. I have no personal experience of the Phillipines however, but it was brought to life with description for me.

Family drama was the core context to this story and I can’t say I liked any of her family but Bea slowly did grow on me. I felt like almost no-one was fighting Cory’s corner or trying to understand her evolving sexuality or personality. The catholicism was strong in this story and not often viewed in a favourable light.

My Heart Underwater was an interesting read and a solid debut. I welcomed this story’s Manila context and enjoyed a fresh voice from this author.

Please also check out own voices reviewers on this title.

Thank you to Harper 360 YA for the early review copy.

NONE SHALL SLEEP by Ellie Marney

The Silence of the Lambs meets Sadie in this riveting psychological thriller about two teenagers teaming up with the FBI to track down juvenile serial killers.

In 1982, two teenagers—serial killer survivor Emma Lewis and US Marshal candidate Travis Bell—are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers and provide insight and advice on cold cases. From the start, Emma and Travis develop a quick friendship, gaining information from juvenile murderers that even the FBI can’t crack. But when the team is called in to give advice on an active case—a serial killer who exclusively hunts teenagers—things begin to unravel. Working against the clock, they must turn to one of the country’s most notorious incarcerated murderers for help: teenage sociopath Simon Gutmunsson. Despite Travis’s objections, Emma becomes the conduit between Simon and the FBI team. But while Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he’s an expert manipulator playing a very long game…and he has his sights set on Emma.


Title : None Shall Sleep
Author : Ellie Marney
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA historical fiction/thriller
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think I would’ve enjoyed this a lot more if the tone, or writing style, had been a little different. Because the way this thriller unfolded, the chase, the crimes and the why, the whole set-up of using teens to hunt those who hunt and kill teens, is all fascinating. The fact that the backstories of these these junior investigators (not highschool age, this is a bit more realistic than that) were so traumatic, in very different ways, and how they battled those demons to do this work.. it was great.

Equally great was sidestepping much of what the female protagonist had gone through. We get hints, terrible hints, but nothing is explicitly explained and instead Marney lets us use our imagination — the scariest thing she could’ve done. It also, in a way, feels protective. Conversely, though, the author also leans into that when it comes to another character and that tease, as opposed to hitting us with every terrible thing, carries so much more weight.. but for a different purpose.

However. I felt quite removed from.. a lot of this. Maybe that was purposeful because there are pretty gruesome, not to mention traumatic, moments but Marney didn’t linger over them, didn’t sensationalize them, as they were already impactful. And yet still.. there were maybe only two highly charged moments that I truly felt, was truly moved by, and that just wasn’t quite enough.

I’m also left very curious as to how things wrapped. Is this the beginning of a series, maybe? Could there be more? I would absolutely read on. Maybe being familiar with the style would make a follow up book more enjoyable. I don’t know. But these two characters have me so curious as to where they would go next. Plus I liked how effortless it was to be thrown into the eighties without a thousand blinking neon signs reminding us of that fact at every turn. It was nice to leave the current timeline and skate back to something different. Even if it wasn’t sunshine and rainbows.

If you’re looking for thrills and chills during this spooky season, I would totally give this a try!

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

ON THE MOVE: POEMS ABOUT MIGRATION by Michael Rosen, Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Former Children’s Laureates Michael Rosen and Sir Quentin Blake join forces for a personal and uniquely affecting collection of poems about migration.

“What you leave behind
Won’t leave your mind.
But home is where you find it.
Home is where you find it.”

Michael Rosen and Sir Quentin Blake join forces for a landmark new collection, focusing on migration and displacement. Michael’s poems are divided into four: in the first series, he draws on his childhood as part of a first-generation Polish family living in London; in the second, on his perception of the War as a young boy; in the third, on his “missing” relatives and the Holocaust; and in the fourth, and final, on global experiences of migration. By turns charming, shocking and heart-breaking, this is an anthology with a story to tell and a powerful point to make: “You can only do something now.”


Title : On the Move: Poems about Migration
Author : Michael Rosen
Illustrator : Quentin Blake
Format : eARC
Page Count : 144
Genre : Children’s Poetry
Publisher : Walkers Books
Release Date : October 1, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★.5



Micky’s 4.5 star review

This is a stunning book of poetry with illustrations that hit at the heart. It also has a compelling story to be read as the whole, steeped in history, migration, war and prejudice. It is aimed at 9-12 year olds but like all the best Pixar and Disney animations, it has a level that speaks to the adult and I’m emotional just writing this review; it touched me deeply.

You can’t speak of it.
It is the unspeakable.
You can’t say it.
It is the unsayable.
You can’t say what you know.
It is the unknowable.

Rosen navigates his family’s story, from his own eyes and stories he’d heard. The themes are sometimes potentially distressing but they have much to say about the past and today.

This isn’t one of Rosen/Blake’s upbeat books but it is still wonderful like his Sad Book and it will open up these experiences to many readers, young and older.

Thank you to Walker Books for the early review copy.

THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen

Kelsea Glynn is the Queen of the Tearling. Despite her youth, she has quickly asserted herself as a fair, just and powerful ruler.

However, power is a double-edged sword, and small actions can have grave consequences. In trying to do what is right – stopping a vile trade in humankind – Kelsea has crossed the Red Queen, a ruthless monarch whose rule is bound with dark magic and the spilling of blood. The Red Queen’s armies are poised to invade the Tearling, and it seems nothing can stop them.

Yet there was a time before the Crossing, and there Kelsea finds a strange and possibly dangerous ally, someone who might hold the key to the fate of the Tearling, and indeed to Kelsea’s own soul. But time is running out…


Title : The Invasion of the Tearling
Author : Erika Johansen
Series : The Queen of the Tearling (book two)
Format : physical
Page Count : 547
Genre : fantasy/dystopian
Publisher : Harper
Release Date : June 5, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I have a feeling I’m going to finish this series and come back and want to five star all the books that came before. Like, I haven’t actually even added a point five to these fours and yet.. somehow I have that feeling. Even though I have a few friends who are side-eyeing this journey of mine and waiting for me to actually get to said final (but not final, there seems to be a book four with a 2021 release date on GR?) book because of how polarizing it is. And I mean I can maybe see why that could be; because where we were in book one vs book two? Talk about different.

I honestly don’t want to say much of anything because I feel like if you’re like me and you’ve somehow managed to avoid this series all of these years, or you like to avoid blurbs in general, you won’t want any hint of this book spoiled. And I’m a big believer in no spoilers anyway but suffice it to say we get a lot more pre-Tearling history in this book and much of how this world started, and why, is explained. Beyond just the “they set out with the goal of a Utopia, leaving everything behind” — which has sorta gone wrong over the years — concept we already knew about.

[..] it’s not wise, particularly in wartime, to silence the voice of dissent.

But I will reiterate what I mentioned in book one’s review : this is definitely adult content that happens to feature a nineteen year old protagonist. Do not be fooled by the “it looks like YA” covers or summary. This one, in particular, took some of book one’s darker themes and went on an extended jaunt through some sketchy AF woods. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s grimdark and I do not want to scare you away from reading it but if you’re looking for the more standard “heroine defeats baddies and saves kingdom” that glosses over most of the violence or horror of that kind of undertaking, as we typically have in YA (this isn’t criticism!), this might not be your cup of tea. There is much more grey here, much more nuance, and a lot more time confronting the dark depths and depravities that exist in the world.

With that mostly vague disclaimer out of the way, I’m still totally enthralled with this world, with these characters, with the evolving magic element, the past that laid the foundation for this world existed in the first place, and I still have so many questions.. about so many things. For all the answers we might have been given, there are still so many yet to be revealed, and in general I just feel like this continues to go in directions I’m not quite able to predict. Or maybe my mind just isn’t capable of wandering forwards or trying to speculate as I’m too captivated by the moment. Either or.

Part of me wants to hold off picking up the final book as I’m not sure I’m quite ready to leave this series yet. But the binge bish part of me? Is anxious for me to stop rambling in this review and get to it. So, I guess that’s my cue.

SPOILER ALERT by Olivia Dade – double review!

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. While the world knows him as Aeneas, the star of the biggest show on TV, he’s known to fanfiction readers as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous and popular poster. Through his stories, Marcus is able to get out his own frustrations with his character, especially the ones that feature the internet’s favourite couple to ship, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he’d be fired. Immediately.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s hidden her fanfiction and cosplay hobby from her ‘real life’ for years – but not anymore. When she decides to post her latest Lavinia creation on Twitter, her photo goes viral. Trolls and supporters alike are commenting on her plus-size take, but when Marcus sees her pic and asks her out on a date to spite her critics, she realises life is really stranger than fanfiction.

Even though their first date is a disaster, Marcus quickly realises that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. And when he discovers she’s actually Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to hide from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?


Title : Spoiler Alert
Author : Olivia Dade
Format : eARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus/Little Brown UK / Avon
Release Date : October 6, 2020

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


Micky’s 5 star review

Rounded up to 5 stars!

I lived for this book for 4 days of a work week, I couldn’t wait to get back to the characters. SPOILER ALERT was a contemporary romance with heart and some heat. It focused on fandom and fan-fic life and this couple’s story was something that most readers would cheer for.

April and Marcus met under unconventional circumstances, and for April it was an almost dream-like situation. I was completely on board and gripped from that moment. The chemistry between these two ended up being so believable because it took time to find its footing.

Both Marcus and April had trust issues and I really enjoyed the foundations of those back stories, they were real and identifiable. I did struggle somewhat with the secret between them. When this book turned serious and the peak of the inevitable crash happened…the emotion was raw and dialogue was fantastic. I highlighted and highlighted because it just hit me in the gut and made me feel.

At long last, he was letting her see him without any barriers, any artifice, any deception between them.

Basically, Marcus was my favourite character. He had such hidden depths and evolving character development, I couldn’t help but love him. April was his worthy opponent.

If you want a fun, flirty story that turns out to run deep with feelings, then SPOILER ALERT is for you. It’s one of the best contemporary romances I’ve read this year.

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

I feel there like there was no real downside to this book. In any way. What a fun ride.

SPOILER ALERT tackled so many things — particularly emotional things, like body shaming, like learning disorders, like being accepted for who you are and how you look — and yet never lacked in fun. I think this is partially because of the fandom aspect and how our leading man’s starring role was a Game of Thrones-esque phenomenon, complete with all the final season nonsense that we as fans (and they as actors) experienced, and also because not only did we get fanfic snippets between chapters but, my favourite? We got mini scenes and dialogue from the protagonist’s previous acting gigs.. and they were almost unanimously.. terrible. Hilariously bad.

While I do question the ease in which this relationship developed, with little to no celebrity + non-celebrity drama (not a bad thing, really, maybe it’s just that I’m used to that particular drama?), I loved the catalyst for it (we love a twitter connection!). And while I really liked the characters, I’ll admit they didn’t quite jump off the page for me. They both felt pretty real, and each had both baggage and hangups that never felt contrived or unrealistic, and even better they were on the not-twenty-five end of the age spectrum, I didn’t quite lose myself in them. But I did lose myself in the story; I couldn’t tear myself away all night. I’ve only just looked up to realize I’m hours past a reasonable time to eat dinner, haha, whoops.

This hit so many of the right notes and I’m so relieved because just before starting this I worried I was teetering on a slump or just general book ennui. Not so! Do yourself a favour and pick this one up. It’s hot, it’s got some heavy, but it’s also got heart. 

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – OCTOBER 13, 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.


BROTHERSONG by TJ Klune is the final book in the Green Creek series that so many have been (im)patiently awaiting. But it’s finally here! Packpackpack. Check out Hollis’ review.

THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES by Alix E. Harrow is set in 1893, in New Salem, and it was this part of the summary that grabbed us, “Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive. There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.”

BLACK SUN by Rebecca Roanhorse is a total cover-drew-me-in title and while the summary didn’t quite wow us, this bit? Intrigued. “Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.”

THE DEEP BLUE BETWEEN by Ayesha Harruna Attah is a story of twins caught in a raid which dictates where their future goes. Told historically between West Africa and Brazil.


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

CHECK, PLEASE! BOOK 2 : STICKS & SCONES by Ngozi Ukazu

Eric Bittle is heading into his junior year at Samwell University, and not only does he have new teammates―he has a brand new boyfriend! Bitty and Jack must navigate their new, secret, long-distance relationship, and decide how to reveal their relationship to friends and teammates. And on top of that, Bitty’s time at Samwell is quickly coming to an end…It’s two full hockey seasons packed with big wins and high stakes!

A collection of the second half of the mega-popular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: Sticks and Scones is the last in a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life. 


Title : Check, Please! Book Two : Sticks & Scones
Author : Ngozi Ukazu
Series : Check, Please! (book two/volumes three & four)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 352
Genre : YA LGBTQIA+ sports graphic novel
Publisher : First Second
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

I’m not sure how I managed to be oblivious to the fact that this was the final installment but.. I was. And I’m so sad about it.

But nonetheless this was such a sweet, wonderful, way to end this series made up of pure wholesome hockey fun. Even though we had some much bigger moments overall, I still think I liked book one a little more. This one did definitely feel a bit more real, though, as in with real stakes and real coming outs, among other things, and I loved it for that serious foundation.

I really don’t have a lot to say. This is soft, pure, laugh out loud delight, with baking, romance, coming of age and also coming into into your own. Also.. hockey. You should definitely read it.

GROWN by Tiffany D. Jackson

Korey Fields is dead.

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?

All signs point to Enchanted.


Title : Grown
Author : Tiffany D. Jackson
Format : ARC
Page Count : 380
Genre : YA contemporary/mystery
Publisher : Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date : September 15, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

This book is a hard one to rate for me for a few reasons. One being this just feels.. too real. It’s fiction, yes, and the author stresses in her foreword that this is not about R. Kelly.. but we’re all drawing those paralells anyway. And a result it toes that line between fiction and reality a little too closely for me to feel 100% comfortable rating it. But I will.

This book was brutal at times but also very strong. You watch as Enchanted is awed by the attention and praise of a super star. Is won over by his charm. How harmless innocent texting eventually changes tone. How opportunity becomes a cage. The manipulations, the abuse, the gaslighting, the isolation.. it’s hard. It’s tough.

We open up on the aftermath of all this, not knowing quite what has happened to get us there, when Enchanted wakes up to find her abuser, the superstar, is dead. I expected a bit of a whoddunnit, the uncertainty, because if you’ve read a Jackson before you know things can be twisty and fluid. But then things took an even stranger turn and that’s where I feel this lost some of its impact. I think there were too many elements being juggled — murder mystery, the grooming and abuse of power, and straight up abuse, the.. other element, I don’t quite want to mention for fear of spoilers, mental health, and then also the very relevant, and worthy, social commentary regarding why women don’t come forward; but more specifically why Black women are treated differently than white women when they do. It’s a lot. So much of it is important. But I think tackling so much affected some pacing, affected some character development (I wish Enchanted had felt more solid prior to everything that happened to her), and even though I was riding some of the highs (and I don’t mean in a good way but in the sense I couldn’t look away) and the lows (I teared up bad at one scene), and I hated everything that was going on, so was clearly affected on a visceral level, I just feel a half-step out of sync with the whole experience as things came to a head.

What I didn’t expect from this book, but which did give this a very well-rounded feeling, were some sorta mixed media elements and snippets that really felt perfect for the way the events of this book unfolded. I don’t quite want to spoil what these elements are or look like but I liked them.

I definitely think if you can handle the subject matter (please look for trigger warnings, many lovely reviewers on GR have listed them in their reviews; but also you can see them for yourself in the beginning of the book itself), you should read this. I also encourage you to seek out reviews by #ownvoices reviewers as their opinions and feelings should definitely get priority over mine.

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

BLOG TOUR – THIS GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND by Ayesha Malik

Everyone has a place they call home. But who gets to decide where you belong?

For years Bilal Hasham and his wife Mariam have lived contented, quiet lives in the sleepy rural village of Babbel’s End. Now all that is about to change.

On her deathbed, Bilal’s mother reaches for his hand. Instead of whispering her final prayers, she gives him a task: build a mosque in his country village.

Mariam is horrified by Bilal’s plan. His friends and neighbours are unnerved. As outrage sweeps Babbel’s End, battle lines are drawn. His mother’s dying wish reveals deeper divisions in their village than Bilal had ever imagined.

Soon Bilal is forced to choose between community and identity, between faith and friendship, between honouring his beloved mother’s last wish and preserving what is held dear in the place that he calls home.


Title : This Green and Pleasant Land
Author : Ayisha Malik
Format : eARC/ALC
Page Count : 464
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Zaffre
Release Date : October 1, 2020 (paperback)

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This was a poignant, real and sometimes witty story about legacy, identity, community separation and togetherness. THIS GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND centred on community and family. This was an own voices exploration of muslim main characters navigating an often stuffy English village life. It was enjoyable and kept my attention most of the time.

Bilal and his family were navigating a recent bereavement, deathbed promises and guilt built on top of that legacy. Bilal decided that this promise to build a mosque in his little patch of England would be followed through and the journey to seeing this to fruition was the meat of this story. The characters around Bilal, his family, his community connections were witty and rich, full of prejudice and yet sometimes supportive. These characters were an eclectic mix and some were just plain eccentric.

What engaged me most was the laughs it brought to me as I identified with the struggles that Bilal had with the people around him and just how hard this goal would be to achieve. The descriptions and dialogue were rich and vibrant. The story gentle wove the familial and community philosophies, prejudices and politics into everyday life; just as it really is. An enjoyable read.

I had a eARC and audio review copy and so I did a combination read of both. The narration was good throughout and captured the nuances of the characters and dialogue, so I would recommend both formats.

Thank you to Compulsive Readers Tours and Zaffre for the early review copies.