WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo 🎧

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.


Title : With Fire On High
Author/Narrator : Elizabeth Acevedo
Format : Audio ARC
Length : 7 hours 26 mins
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : September 19, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH was the kind of contemporary YA to get swept up in very quickly. I always find that I love food-centric fiction and the protagonist Emoni, was a born-chef. She had talent but she also had a natural magic with food that made those who sampled her food feel when eating.

This was a story that depicted a tough but also blessed life of this teen, mom to a toddler, living with her grandmother and trying to successfully finish school. There was hardship but there was gratitude for the good things in her life. I appreciated that this wasn’t an overly dramatic story but still, it was gritty and real.

Emoni was not looking for a new friend but Malachi the latest student transfer into her school wanted her friendship. Malachi was the kind of young man out to prove that not every guy was a jerk. He was such a cute character but again, he was real.

The narration was rich with wonderful tonation and Elizabeth Acevado narrated her own story with heart. I would love to hear her narrate again. From a writing perspective, I enjoyed the short chapter approach and the timeline of story.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for the audio review copy.

HOUSE OF EARTH AND BLOOD by Sarah J. Maas

Bound by blood.
Tempted by desire.
Unleashed by destiny.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.


Title : House of Earth and Blood
Author : Sarah J. Maas
Series : Cresent City #1
Format : library/audio
Page Count : 803
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date : March 3, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This wasn’t a flawless book from Maas but my, does she know how to wrap your attention around her little finger. HOEAB was a book that required your attention and commitment to get through the first 25% of info dump and some narrative passages that seemed superfluous. However, from that point on, the characters had embedded themselves on my psyche and I was a willing captive to their stories.

Told from the perspective of half-fae-human Bryce, this was about a journey of death, grief, loss and the fight for justice. It felt like a fantasy-thriller if there is such a genre. Bryce and her foisted upon partner, Hunt Athalar, were the investigators of a two-year-old murder. That murder led them into a complex tale involving species of magical creatures and other worlds.

It was an incredibly twisty tale, some of the twists I saw coming and others I didn’t. I can honestly say that for the final quarter of the book, I was pumping adrenaline, taking little breaks and pulling my hair at the angst. The way the story’s intricacies finally interconnected was very clever and reminded me why Maas is a master storyteller.

The chemistry between the two main characters was a different experience to my knowledge of Maas’ previous writing. This was a slow burn from hate to friendship and then more. The on-page steam was very limited, a surprise to me and maybe others considering this was in adult genre. I would say that genre classification comes from the violence and gore constantly on the page.

Maas has pulled me well and truly into her new world, I enjoyed this suspenseful and thrilling hunt for answers and I cannot wait to read more in this series.

RULES FOR BEING A GIRL by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotungo

From Katie Cotugno and author of Sex and the City Candace Bushnell comes this fierce and feisty exploration of feminism: standing up, speaking out and rewriting the rules.

Don’t be easy. Don’t give it up. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be cold. Don’t put him in the friendzone. Don’t act desperate. Don’t let things go too far. Don’t give him the wrong idea. Don’t blame him for trying. Don’t walk alone at night. But calm down! Don’t worry so much. Smile!

Marin is a smart, driven, popular girl – she’s headed for Brown when she graduates and has a brilliant career as a journalist ahead of her. Especially in the eyes of English teacher Mr Beckett. He spends a lot of time around Marin, and she thinks it’s harmless . . . until he kisses her.

No one believes Marin when she tells them what happened, so she does the only thing she can: she writes an article called ‘Rules for Being a Girl’ for the school paper to point out the misogyny and sexism that girls face every day. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and rewrite her own rules.


Title : Rules for Being a Girl
Author : Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotungo
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Macmillan Children’s Books
Release Date : April 16, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

RULES FOR BEING A GIRL is a YA contemporary with themes of feminism woven throughout. It is the kind of book that I recommend reading the synopsis before you launch in because there are triggers and difficulties for some in the context. Even though nothing in this story triggered me, I still found the story direction hugely discomforting, probably because I’m a teacher and this got me so mad at the teacher in this book.

Marin, the protagonist was very likeable to me. She was just a genuine young woman, passionate, hard-working and fully taken advantage of. What I liked about Marin was how she went on to handle the events, she wasn’t a sudden explosion of anger, she was slower bubble of fury and injustice. Marin’s experiences opened her eyes to whole host of inequalities.

Now to the other characters in this book. Bex was vile, in fact, vile doesn’t quite suffice to describe him. On top of that, I was furious with Marin’s friend, even in the face of the unfurling of the storyline; I really struggled with this aspect of the story. Gray and Marin’s parents however, were highlights from a character perspective.

I definitely think there are life lessons for the YA age group in this story but I didn’t always love how the story played out. I did love the overall message and feminist themes.

Thank you to Macmillan Childrens/My Kind of Book for this early review copy.

RUTHLESS GODS by Emily A Duncan

Darkness never works alone…

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become. 

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer. 


Title : Ruthless Gods
Author : Emily A Duncan
Series : Something Dark and Holy (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 544
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I feel like I’m in exactly the same place with RUTHLESS GODS as I was with WICKED SAINTS. This series, the content in these books, the twisty story of betrayal and blood and more betrayal, is both worthy of love and full of frustration for me. The worldbuilding, the pantheon of gods, of monsters, of heretics and holy people, it’s all very complex and fascinating, but equally confusing and repetitive.

I feel this one did hold together better than book one, where we know so little and even less is made clear (which is apparently how the author wanted it), whereas things took a turn here that revealed both more and, in some ways, well.. not less but definitely not everything.

Another aspect that I both loved and didn’t was the romantic element(s). One couple I was hugely there for (yes, please, more), and the other? I felt smitten by it at times and over it for others. It’s a very push, pull, and then throw the other off a cliff kind of dynamic and it makes it fascinating and fun and also agonizing (not in a good way) as you struggle to keep up and, also, parse it all. Also like in book one, I’m pretty sure I would die for Serefin, and, I mean, I would at least call 911 for the others. If they asked me to.

So, yes, hardly a glowing review, but I think book three has the potential to knock this out of the park. We’re on stronger footing at the end of this installment — it definitely didn’t feel like book two syndrome — and if this trend continues it’ll be bigger and bloodier and probably even more betrayalier (it’s a word). I’ll read on. I’m two books in, after all; can’t stop me now.

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

YOU DESERVE EACH OTHER by Sarah Hogle

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other. 


Title : You Deserve Each Other
Author : Sarah Hogle
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I wavered a bit in the actual ranking of this read because despite how much this made me laugh, moreso in the latter half but even in the beginning, this wasn’t always a.. nice story. This enemies-to-lovers (who-were-already-lovers aka affianced) romance errs very much on the side of OTT. Sometimes ridiculous, sometimes mean, sometimes (mostly) immature. There’s a definite almost-real-hate edge to this and that makes it hard to read, makes the characters hard to like, even as you can see, through Naomi’s POV (our only POV) that she hates that she doesn’t love Nicholas the way she once did. That she can be irrational, petty, self-absorbed. And that so can he.

It’s messy af. But it went from uncomfortable, weird, but still funny, to sweet, heartbreaking, and hilarious. And there was a moment at the end, where we relive something, something the reader wasn’t privy to until that moment, and I was just.. gah. The little tendernesses (is it a word? it’s a word now), the slow build up to this possible-maybe reconciliation, was gorgeous, but that scene? Wow. I have a feeling this will be one I reread and love when I do.

That said, I’m not going to say this’ll be for everyone. It almost wasn’t for me (see aforementioned uncertainty of ranking). I think some readers won’t want to tough it out in the beginning, which is valid, but I think if you can move past the antics, you will see some of the underlying issues, and then you can appreciate the one-up-manship. Or maybe you’ll only see it in hindsight. But outside of their relationship, there are also external elements that have soured things, of which family, friends, and career all play a role. This isn’t a one-note story about a couple who has drifted apart only to overlook real issues and earn an HEA. There is growth, there is understanding, there is communication. All while still being feisty and funny. Sure, it does go from one extreme to another but.. it works. Or, rather, it worked for me.

This read went from a “hm, I don’t know, it’s funny, but..” to “wow, I can’t wait to relive this all again”. So there you are. Definitely a debut to keep an eye on if it sounds like your thing and I will totally pick up what Hogle puts out next.

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

WHO SPEAKS FOR THE DAMNED by C.S. Harris

It’s June 1814, and the royal families of Austria, Russia, and the German states have gathered in London at the Prince Regent’s invitation to celebrate the defeat of Napoléon and the restoration of monarchical control throughout Europe. But the festive atmosphere is marred one warm summer evening by the brutal murder of a disgraced British nobleman long thought dead.

Eighteen years before, Nicholas Hayes, the third son of the late Earl of Seaford, was accused of killing a beautiful young French émigré and transported to Botany Bay for life. Even before his conviction, Hayes had been disowned by his father. Few in London were surprised when they heard the ne’er-do-well had died in New South Wales in 1799. But those reports were obviously wrong. Recently Hayes returned to London with a mysterious young boy in tow–a child who vanishes shortly after Nicholas’s body is discovered.

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is drawn into the investigation by his valet, Jules Calhoun. With Calhoun’s help, Sebastian begins to piece together the shattered life of the late Earl’s ill-fated youngest son. Why did Nicholas risk his life and freedom by returning to England? And why did he bring the now-missing young boy with him? Several nervous Londoners had reason to fear that Nicholas Hayes had returned to kill them. One of them might have decided to kill him first.


Title : Who Speaks for the Damned
Author : C.S. Harris
Series : Sebastian St Cyr (book fifteen)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : historical fiction/mystery
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I am late to this series, having wanted to read it for years but only actually getting around to it back in December, but after fifteen books, no matter how recent a fan, you have to wonder : how long will it go on?

This installment definitely felt episodic in the sense that this was removed from what I sort’ve expected to see come to light by now. Events I can’t hint at or speak of due to s p o i l e r s. Instead this was just another vaguely run of the mill murder mystery that Sebastian involves himself in, much to the dismay of almost everyone around him, and as a result a lot of other people die in the midst of trying to cover something up from long ago, now come back to haunt them, and which is forced out into the open because they tried to cover it up.. again.

The one positive I can say (well, okay, that sounds terrible, this book wasn’t bad, but..) is that some of that copy and paste feeling I had reading these books, particularly when dealing with a certain character, wasn’t present this time. Some of the laziness was absent from this fifteenth book and that made everything feel much less rote, which I appreciated. Again, I just wonder, how long can things continue? I have nothing against a long series but only when the new books offer something worthwhile or fresh for the characters; that’s why we read these. Not for the plot or villain of the week but for progress.

There did seem to be some nostalgia and hearkening back to book one in this installment, some what-if and it-could’ve-been-me which did allow for some perspective on Sebastian’s part but I think we had already worked through most of that, so why was it important to rehash?

If you missed these characters, I think you’ll be satisfied by the new book. If you expected that long-awaited drama to bubble up and dealt with head-on, you might be disappointed. But either way I think you’ll enjoy sinking into a familiar world considering the world outside is looking mighty strange right now. This will be comforting in that respect but a new favourite? I wouldn’t expect so.

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

EMPIRE OF DREAMS by Rae Carson

Even though Red Sparkle Stone is a foundling orphan with an odd name and a veiled past, she’s about to be adopted into the royal family—by Empress Elisa herself. Sixteen-year-old Red can hardly believe her luck. Then, in a stunning political masterstroke, the empress’s greatest rival blocks the adoption, and Red is left with no family and no future.

Grieving and lost, but determined to find her place, Red hatches a daring plan: she will prove herself as a recruit for the world’s most elite fighting force, the legendary Royal Guard—something no woman has done before. But it’s no coincidence that someone wanted her to fail as a princess, someone whose shadowy agenda puts everything she loves at risk. As danger closes in, it will be up to Red and her new friends—and maybe some new enemies—to save the empire. If they can survive recruitment year.


Title : Empire of Dreams
Author : Rae Carson
Series : Girl of Fire and Thorns (book four)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Greenwillow Books
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Set in The Girl of Fire and Thorns series, this book takes place eight (ish?) years after THE BITTER KINGDOM and focuses not only on Red, a mixed race girl the protagonist from the main series had adopted, but also on the tensions in a world post-major conflict between two warring peoples.

I loved being back in this world, getting small glimpses of the much beloved dynamic between one of my favourite couples, and I did enjoy Red.. mostly. This book flashes between past and present perspectives, we see what Red endured before meeting Elisa, and all the trauma she experienced and now knowingly carries and also unknowingly carries, and how she’s coping. She’s not quite welcome as the Empress’ heir, both because of prejudice and conspiracy, and so she finds a different way to prove herself and also discover her true self — all while also challenging so much of the tradition and stereotyping built into this society.

I’ll admit I wasn’t really interested in the flashback POV chapters. Maybe because it felt a little rehashed (we know some of Red’s life pre-on page meeting but obviously not to quite this extent) but also it kept pulling me away from the more exciting training montages and dialogue in the present day where Red was, like, fighting the patriarchy.

I’ve never trained a girl before.”
You’ll find it uncannily similar to training any other person.

That said, I wasn’t always super into the present day stuff, either. There are some big high stakes moments near the end, a lot of which is built up along the way to that point, but things do come to a head pretty quick, and then its all over. I got the happy feels and excitement and joy at the end, don’t get me wrong, but this story somehow felt both a little dragged out and also over too fast. A standalone in an existing universe where we previously had a trilogy.. I mean, that’s tough. But there is an eclectic mix of new faces amongst the familiar, some good banter, and the one thing you can always depend on from this author is a fabulous ensemble cast.

So, I had almost rounded up because bias and nostalgia (infact, after finishing, I had rated this a four with a “but it’s really a three” caveat but as I drifted off to sleep that night.. I knew I shouldn’t have, so, here I am fixing the situation slightly) but ultimately I think where I’ve put it is true to the story itself. But. I loved being back with these characters, seeing some grown up, grown into their own, and others thrive despite the history and tragedies, not to mention traitor’ing (it’s a word), that predate them. But is it perfect? No. But I don’t think most fans will care and, best of all, I hope it inspires those who haven’t yet read The Girl of Fire and Thorns series to pick it up. Because it’s excellent.

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

CHOSEN ONES by Veronica Roth – double review!

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended. 


Title : Chosen Ones
Author : Veronica Roth
Series : Chosen Ones (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 432
Genre : sci-fi/dystopian
Publisher : John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date : April 7, 2020

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’m going to start by saying I like the Chosen One trope. I do. And I also really like the post-Chosen-One-now-what-the-fuck-happens trope. I find the former is done a lot better than the latter (though we haven’t had that many) but this might’ve been the best post-Chosen story I’ve read so far. I think.

There is a lot of really interesting, and quality, content in Roth’s tale. The plot definitely keeps you guessing, too, as while the tone doesn’t really change, the context and angle does. And also, like, the setting? Things went to a strange place around the halfway mark (maybe earlier, can’t remember) and at first I really wasn’t a fan.. and then it clicked. What didn’t quite work for me was the motivation or, I guess, reason for a certain character and/or plot, but the concept of it, the bare bones structure, was pretty great.

I definitely think this is going to be book that either works or doesn’t work for readers. The characters aren’t easy to love (or like) and the plot shifts gears — sideways, upside down, backwards — but there are definitely shining moments in both the telling of the story as well as the processing of the grief and trauma and uncertainty of surviving something so beyond comprehension. It feels very true for a lot of us; we survive life to a certain point and then hit that wall of, “now what?”. The only difference is the average body doesn’t hit that wall after defeating a dark magical being. But there are glimpses of hope, of being known, of being understood, despite it all.

I will say that, for an adult story, I don’t feel the characters read their supposed age (thirty). Early twenties I would’ve believed, definitely. But, honestly, had you redacted the on-page stating of how old they were supposed to be and handed me this book? I would’ve guessed YA.

So, there you have it. Roth’s first adult novel is interesting, creative, and not hard to put down, but not easy, either. But despite it all, not as close to great as I hoped it might be. I have no idea what to expect from book two, particularly as I felt this wrapped really well, but I will pick it up for sure.

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


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

This was a tale of complexity, the creation of a world(s) that really captured my imagination but no way could I have predicted this wild story direction and culmintion. Veronica Roth once again has proven she has a great imagination and ability to commit this to the page.

I do like a chosen one trope but this really was a reimagining of that idea with a washed up, traumatised and arrogant crew. Sloane was the protagonist that was just treading water after her great input in saving the world ten years ago. I really liked how the world unfurled its laws and history through her flashbacks but also her reading of past documents. The magic of that earth was pretty creepy at times, with the fight to save the world having been somewhat gory and violent. I didn’t like many of the other crew apart from Albie and maybe Innes but she was in the background. I liked the second part much better.

When the world and story twisted life got much more exciting and I got more invested in the story. I loved the elements and mysteriousness of the needle, Sloane’s connection to deep dives and Mox. This story really was a case of not knowing who were the good guys and who were the bad guys; my ideas got flipped on their heads.

There is a concentration investment needed for this story, the world building comes in layers and pieces but nevertheless it is intricate and you need your brain switched on. The culmination did not let me down and I am a little unsure where another story will spring from for this series but I am here to read more. On a side note, I can see this making a pretty good film.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.

ACROSS THE VOID by S.K. Vaughn

A visceral space thriller—perfect for fans of Arrival and The Martian—following the sole survivor of a catastrophic accident in space that leaves her drifting in the void with only the voice of her estranged husband, a NASA scientist, to guide her back to Earth.

Commander Maryam “May” Knox awakes from a medically induced coma alone, adrift in space on a rapidly failing ship, with little to no memory of who she is or why she’s there.

Slowly, she pieces together that she’s the captain of the ship, Hawking II; that she was bound for Europa—one of Jupiter’s moons—on a research mission; and that she’s the only survivor of either an accident—or worse, a deliberate massacre—that has decimated her entire crew. With resources running low, and her physical strength severely compromised, May must rely on someone back home to help her. The problem is: everyone thinks she’s dead.

Back on Earth, it’s been weeks since Hawking II has communicated with NASA, and Dr. Stephen Knox is on bereavement leave to deal with the apparent death of his estranged wife, whose decision to participate in the Europa mission strained their marriage past the point of no return. But when he gets word that NASA has received a transmission from May, Stephen comes rushing to her aid.

What he doesn’t know is that not everyone wants May to make it back alive. Even more terrifying: she might not be alone on that ship. Featuring a twisting and suspenseful plot and compelling characters, Across the Void is a moving and evocative thriller that you won’t be able to put down.


Title : Across The Void
Author : SK Vaughn
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : Sci-fi
Publisher : Skybound Books
Release Date : July 2, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I straight up loved lots about this book which fit into a niche favourite genre I like to call ‘catastrophised sci-fi’. The book opened straight into an messed up situation that continued pretty much to the end. It was an angsty, thrilling ride with so much to it.

The protagonist was May, alone on her vessel after some kind of event that she didn’t recall due to illness and amnesia. Just her and AI, creepy, am I right? This is the kind of story where you don’t know who the bad guys are and it takes a whole lot of twists, turns and suspicions to see the final issues laid out.

Alongside this lone adventure was the background story of a married couple, May and Stephen. Stephen was on earth, a gifted scientist and part of the reason May was on her vessel in the first place. There were other characters, good and awful that interplayed with this story. I actually found myself really wrapped up in this aspect.

This book was so incredibly moment-to-moment angsty, that I had to put it down a few times, just to give the adrenaline in my body time to settle. Vaughn used short chapters and a bit of past/present to ease the angst and I appreciated that writing style.

This was a great read, totally up my sci-fi street and I would love to read more by this author.

DEAR ENEMY by Kristen Callihan – double review!

As kids, they hated each other. Macon Saint was beautiful, but despite his name, Delilah knew he was the devil. That he dated her slightly evil sister, Samantha, was no picnic either. When they broke up, it was a dream come true: Delilah never had to see him again.

Ten years later, her old enemy sends a text.

Delilah’s sister has stolen a valuable heirloom from Macon, now a rising Hollywood star, and he intends to collect his due. One problem: Sam has skipped town.

Sparks still sizzle between Macon and Delilah, only this heat feels alarmingly like unwanted attraction. But Delilah is desperate to keep her weak-hearted mother from learning of her sister’s theft. So she proposes a deal: she’ll pay off the debt by being Macon’s personal chef and assistant.

It’s a recipe for disaster, but Macon can’t stop himself from accepting. Even though Delilah clearly hates him, there’s something about her that feels like home. Besides, they’re no longer kids, and what once was a bitter rivalry has the potential to be something sweeter. Something like forever.


Title : Dear Enemy
Author : Kristen Callihan
Format : eARC
Page Count : 386
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Montlake
Release Date : March 31, 2020

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


Hollis’ DNF review

I’m not rating this one, because generally my DNF rule of thumb is, unless the read is heinous, I will only rate if I made it more than halfway into the book. And I tapped out of this one just shy of 40%. But it’s worth noting this is a favourite author and I wanted out after 20%, and had concerns after the first few flashback/past event chapters, so. Be aware of that.

My issue with DEAR ENEMY is more than just in the continuity or inconsistencies (which, fair, could be corrected between now, March third, and the release, March thirty-first). The origin of this pairing begins when they are young, pre-teen or so, and how they meet again ten years after highschool. It’s one of those hate-to-love romances where the premise is setting things up one way at the get-go and we seem to be finding things are maybe not as they may seem later on. Someone has secrets, I imagine we’ll find there were reasons why certain people behaved in certain ways and they will be forgiven for it, and oh hey, there was always this big connection between them, despite the fact that he dated her sister for other reasons, and blah blah.

I honestly didn’t have time for this.

Delilah enters into some BatB-esque servitude to work off her shady sister’s debt with Macon and the homage to the fairytale was pretty loose in some sense and also it felt like one entire scene was lifted from the movie. I’m not against retellings, in fact JT Geissinger’s BURN FOR YOU followed along those lines and worked really well for me, amongst other retellings, but between everything else..? I just can’t get on with the characters. Things seem to be moving along fairly predictably, too, with certain interactions between the main protags and I’m just bored.

I’m used to a lot of complexity from his author, or at least a lot of fun, and this feels very surface level and, if I’m being honest, a little tired. Maybe it would’ve improved along the way, I’ve seen some positive early reviews, but at this point I don’t have the energy to invest in hoping it would turn around.

Based on the first 40%? This would’ve been a 1.5 for me.

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


Micky’s 4 star review

Okay, now wash your mouth out because we’re zinging from dnf to jolly enjoyment! DEAR ENEMY had some of my most favourite tropes all wrapped up in banter and jibes – second chances, hate-to-more and slow burn. It did however, have a trope I’m not keen on, stepping into a relationship with someone who’s been with a friend/family member. That said, I could cope with it because of the circumstances but I think that might alienate some readers. After a difficult to navigate prologue, this book took off well for me.

What was so delicious about this contemporary romance? It was the vulnerability of Macon stepping into feelings unknown but taking a deep breath and getting on with it. Meanwhile, his life was fun-laden barbs, and forced proximity with the heroine, Delilah. Add into that some chef-ing and food which always seems to make for a good story in my book.

She’s all twitchy now, eyeing me like a feral barn cat as if I might try to lash out and catch her.

The banter between these two was pretty entertaining and the chemistry was swoonish. I enjoyed the semi-hate especially as it seems to turn before it got irritating. Delilah was hard to win over and the annoying sister was…very annoying. The sister element was something I didn’t settle with but the circumstances were just about palatable.

The slow burn was spot on and there’s just something about Kristen Callihan’s romances when she’s in the zone that gives me all the feels; this one did just that. DEAR ENEMY was a great entertaining read that I just wanted to get back to when I wasn’t reading. Just the thing for a weekend read.

Thank you to Montlake for the early review copy.