In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.
Find the heir, win the crown. The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.
Win the crown, save the kingdom. Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?
The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.
Title : A Heart So Fierce and Broken Author : Brigid Kemmerer Series : Cursebreakers (book two) Format : eARC Page Count : Genre : YA fantasy Publisher : Bloomsbury YA Release Date : January 7, 2020
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
Hollis’ 3.5 star review
That moment when the ending gives you an ‘aHA‘ moment that almost redeems a major factor that had been dogging most of the book. But.. doesn’t quite.. do it. So close, though.
Some of the things I disliked in book one were both present in this one and yet not. In some ways some of my issues did mellow; the characters that annoyed me went through a growing pain stage and we’ve come out the other side of it; and the one element I was kind of side-eyeing at the end of book one has completely gone away. And as a result of that, it opened the door for what was one of my favourite parts of this follow up installment.
A lot of this book is going from one place, to another, away again, then elsewhere, and then back to where it all began. There’s a lot of running around. Thankfully some of that is used to further some character relationships, as well as introduce a few new characters — two of whom I really enjoy — so it wasn’t all wandering about without purpose while the clock ran down on the ‘time left to finish book’ countdown.
There were definitely some surprises, some things I didn’t think we’d see until book three (if ever), and particularly one thing.. well, again, it explains a lot. I don’t like it, it doesn’t forgive, but it makes so much sense. I just almost wish it didn’t. How’s that for vaguery..
Anyway, I think based on where we got to with this one, where things are set up to go, some elements of book three will be frustrating (not, like, because of the author, but because of certain situations) in the way of book one, and also totally kick ass. She says, hopefully.
If you liked book one, I think you’ll like this one even more.
** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Nina continues to learn how to use her slayer powers against enemies old and new in this second novel in the New York Times bestselling series from Kiersten White, set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Now that Nina has turned the Watcher’s Castle into a utopia for hurt and lonely demons, she’s still waiting for the utopia part to kick in. With her sister Artemis gone and only a few people remaining at the castle—including her still-distant mother—Nina has her hands full. Plus, though she gained back her Slayer powers from Leo, they’re not feeling quite right after being held by the seriously evil succubus Eve, a.k.a. fake Watcher’s Council member and Leo’s mom.
And while Nina is dealing with the darkness inside, there’s also a new threat on the outside, portended by an odd triangle symbol that seems to be popping up everywhere, in connection with Sean’s demon drug ring as well as someone a bit closer to home. Because one near-apocalypse just isn’t enough, right?
The darkness always finds you. And once again, it’s coming for the Slayer.
Title : Chosen Author : Kiersten White Series : Slayer (book two) Format : eARC Page Count : 368 Genre : YA fantasy Publisher : SimonPulse Release Date : January 7, 2020
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★
Hollis’ 1 star review
So, listen. My experience with book one wasn’t awesome because the first 60% or so was frustrating af but I thought the ending was intense and interesting and as a result was looking forward to this sequel.
Except CHOSEN was a miserable reading experience without charm, sense, or any kind of joy.
I won’t drag this review out as I imagine, as per usual, I’m going to be an outlier but honestly? Other than name dropping and references, this resembled nothing of the Buffyverse I loved and deviated far from any potential from book one. Everything about this read, the plot, and the characters, was a chore.
I think it’s over, I believe this is a duology, not a series, and I’m not sad about it.
** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Bestselling author Laurie Faria Stolarz’s thrilling novel Jane Anonymous is a revelatory confessional of a seventeen-year-old girl’s fight to escape a kidnapper—and her struggles to connect with loved ones and a life that no longer exists.
That’s how long I was kept captive.
Locked in a room with a bed, refrigerator, and adjoining bathroom, I was instructed to eat, bathe, and behave. I received meals, laundered clothes, and toiletries through a cat door, never knowing if it was day or night. The last time I saw the face of my abductor was when he dragged me fighting from the trunk of his car. And when I finally escaped, I prayed I’d never see him again.
Now that I’m home, my parents and friends want everything to be like it was before I left. But they don’t understand that dining out and shopping trips can’t heal what’s broken inside me. I barely leave my bedroom. Therapists are clueless and condescending. So I start my own form of therapy—but writing about my experience awakens uncomfortable memories, ones that should’ve stayed buried. How far will I have to go to uncover the truth of what happened—and will it break me forever?
Title : Jane Anonymous Author : Laurie Faria Stolarz Format : eARC Page Count : 320 Genre : YA thriller/suspense Publisher : Wednesday Books Release Date : January 7, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
Micky’s 3.5 star review
I loved the idea of this book from the blurb and I think that YA thrillers and suspense are in shorter supply, so I was all anticipation over reading it. This was a story of a 17 year old teen, Jane who was kidnapped and held by a mysterious young monster of a man. There is so much more to this story than meets the eye.
JANE ANONYMOUS was a fast-paced and tense read. My heart was beating and in my mouth at various junctures. Jane’s capture and imprisonment were told in the ‘then’ time frame but much of the story was also told in the ‘now’ post-escape and her difficulties to return to life. The kidnapper was not at all what I expected, which led to unfurling of later events with her captor. I did see some of the twists that came before they were revealed.
I was engaged throughout this book, I read quickly and avidly. I felt anger, sadness and frustration, often all at once. I felt such sorrow for Jane obviously around her time in captivity, but even more for her time afterwards, I think. I really appreciated the parental perspective, those small insights were heartbreaking and felt so tangible.
I would have loved to have rated this book higher but as more was revealed about her kidnapper and certain events that were hazy, there was a lack of clarity that was frustrating. Even more so, being left with unanswered questions in the end left me unsatisfied overall. This book had masses of potential but it didn’t quite realise all of the possibility. All that said, this author wrote in a very engaging style and I would definitely read her work again.
Thank you to Wednesday Books and netgalley for the early review copy.
‘Bonnie. Never Mum or Mummy or Mother. Just Bonnie.’
When it comes to flying under the radar, Ro Snow is an expert.
And strictly NO VISITORS.
It may be lonely, but at least this way the truth remains where it should – hidden.
Then Tanvi Shah, the girl who almost died, comes tumbling back into her life, and Ro finds herself losing control of her carefully constructed lies.
But if Ro’s walls come crumbling down, who’s going to take care of Bonnie…
Title : Paper Avalanche Author : Lisa Williamson Format : Paperback Page Count : 384 Genre : YA Contemporary Publisher : David Fickling Books Release Date : January 2, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 5 star review
If you know me, you know that YA contemporary is a bit of a sweet spot but none more than those set in the UK. I find it so identifiable, the language, the nuances, the culture. Sarcasm abounds, no-one is ‘awesome’ and life is generally a bit grittier than we see in the average YA set in the US.
PAPER AVALANCHE was all those things from the first few pages, utterly engaging and heartachingly provoking. The protagonist, Ro was 14 years old, so in some ways, this was a young YA; but it wasn’t. Ro was a carer, certainly a caretaker and a provider in her house. She was an old soul, but a jaded old soul. She wasn’t experiencing a childhood, she hadn’t for a long time and it hurt to read sometimes.
The story of living in the house of a hoarder was certainly unique to my reading experiences. The whole context and narrative voice felt incredibly fresh. Ro’s reluctant maturity and survivor mode had my own parenting instincts on full alert. I hated both her parents with a passion and I think I hated the father more.
Bonnie’s hoard no longer encroaches on my space, but I still feel the weight of it all around me.
In the midst of this mess (excuse the pun), some new experiences were waiting for Ro in the form of friendships, a crush and self-belief. It felt so good to cheer for Ro as she navigated a little good along with the bad.
This is a book worth reading and not only that, it is a book worth shouting about. The writing had such an ease to it, that I slipped into the story and the characters which were rich and unusual. I loved everything about the reading experience with PAPER AVALANCHE and I’m wondering why I never picked up the heralded first book by this author; I will do now.
I highly recommend this contemporary YA set in Brit-land for a slice of the grim and a lack of cookie-cutter. Lisa Williamson keeps it real, advocating with her story for some of the difficult lives that young people navigate with integrity and bravery. I’m a fan.
Thank you to David Fickling Books and Ed PR for this review copy.
Hi, Hollis here. Because we are seconds away from closing the door on 2019, I got to thinking about all the books set to release next year that we know of (which, admittedly, only really spans the January to June-ish portion of 2020). There are so many! And so many still yet to be announced. So while I know we will have a few of these anticipated release posts throughout the year, I thought to be a little.. mean.
I’m challenging myself, and my blog buddy, to narrow down an anticipated list of only ten titles. Yes. Ten. That’s not even one title per month. Ten. Dix. Dieci. Diez. T e n.
Hollis’ Top Ten (I ALREADY HAVE REGRETS) Anticipated Releases of 2020 (in order of publication) :
The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.
Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.
Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.
Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.
Title : The Bromance Book Club Author : Lyssa Kay Adams Series : Bromance Book Club (book one) Format : eARC Page Count : 352 Genre : contemporary romance Publisher : Berkley/Headline Eternal Release Date : November 5, 2019/January 30, 2020
Reviewer : Hollis/Micky Rating : ★ ★ .5/ ★ ★★ ★
Hollis’ 2.5 star review
What, in concept, should be such an excellent take on a second-chance/save-the-marriage romance, with manly men learning to navigate the pitfalls and stumbling blocks of their relationships from romance novels, really only 100% succeeds in concept form.
The author throws us right into the thick of things. The story opens up with the hero on a bender because, after a month of silent treatment following a devastating reveal from his wife, he’s finally walked out. They are headed for divorce. But don’t despair! The wise yet comedic ensemble to the rescue!
“Men are idiots. We complain that women are so mysterious and shit, and we never know what they want. We fuck up our relationships because we convince ourselves that it’s too hard to figure them out. But the real problem is with us. We think we’re not supposed to feel things and cry and express ourselves. We expect women to do all the emotional labour in a relationship and then act confused when they give up on us.”
Honestly, they were the best part. But mostly Mack.
“You hear the voice, too?“ “It’s your subconscious. At some point in this process, every one of us have had to fight a British aristocrat in our brain that identifies things we would otherwise prefer to ignore.“
The problem I think, for me, is lack of context and foundation. Which I think in theory is what the author was going for. We didn’t know who these characters once were, and why we should be sad about their current state, because they’ve lost themselves (or, really, the heroine has). They have changed, faked their way through happiness, and more, until they — she — reaches her breaking point. But conversely this worked against the story — again, probably only for me — because I didn’t.. care as much? And also I found neither of them really had a leg to stand on. But, I mean, I’m not married, so what do I know?
Nothing on Earth is as strong as a woman who’s good and fed up.
The heroine’s biggest point of contention is that she feels betrayed by her husband for not seeing how much she has changed since they met. How many parts of herself she’s sanded down, or swallowed, for the sake of their family and his career. He doesn’t see all the ways she has faked living, and loving, the past few years of their relationship. But, I mean also, she throws it in his face and yet she’s also never said boo about any of it. Whereas the hero, okay yes didn’t react all that well, but every time he tried to reach her, to make up, she would push him away or shut down. I didn’t blame him for some of his frustrations. And this went back and forth for a while, with her seriously punishing him beyond where I think the limit should’ve been, and then I guess we’re meant to forgive her because it’s all been a symptom of her childhood and resulting insecurities and expectations..? Whatever. Again, this might have worked if I had.. cared.. more.
“What the hell is a Regency?“ “That means it’s set in eighteenth or early nineteenth century England.” “Oh, great. That sounds relevant.”
The romance novel/story within the story was sometimes fun but also a little much, too on the nose considering how meta this was already feeling with some of the discussions amongst the bros, but it also kinda proved that this author could write a historical romance and I would probably really enjoy it. Her writing seemed better suited to those passages than the contemporary ones.
“[it’s] at least a BB four.“ “Do I want to know what that means?“ “It’s our rating system for how much sex is in it.“ “But what does BB stand for?“ “Book Boner.”
So, overall, I didn’t quite love this. And definitely not to the extent I expected to.
This is on the shorter end of things reading wise, and it does move fairly smoothly, I felt like I made a lot of progress in a short time, but overwhelmingly the characters just kind of failed to live up to the potential. I adored the ensemble of dudes as a supporting cast because it was less of the relationship drama, though can fully admit they read more like caricatures for the comedic relief, and am tentatively looking forward to Mack in a starring role. But as a result of who I assume he’ll be paired with.. I have concerns.
“The point of all of all of this is to court her, Gavin. Not seduce her.” “What’s the difference?“ “It’s a fucking miracle you got married at all. The difference, is to make her want you, not prove how much you want her.“
I would definitely read on, and read more from this author, but I might suggest lowering expectations just a tiny bit. I definitely could’ve done with that before diving in.
** I received a ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Micky’s 3.5-4 star review
This was such a fun concept, from the blurb to the excellent book cover. I read THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB after reading a very heavy book and it was just the light kind of fun I needed. This is a perfect weekend or beach read but it also feels like a fresh concept.
I love to read a book about married couples and these two, Gavin and Thea had a marriage on the rocks and in deep trouble. It was the kind of marriage suffering from neglect and lacking in honesty. However, I could see from the start that there was much to salvage and I enjoyed their journey.
This is a romantic comedy at times with periods of seriousness. The guy friends in Gavin’s life enlisted the help of some regency books to teach Gavin how to woo and satisfy his wife. Everything about this aspect was hilarious and I adored how there was a second mini story within this book in the form of the regency novel he was reading.
He pulled ‘His Pissed-off Countess’ or whatever it was called from the drawer. Del took it from him and held it aloft like a preacher about to drop some gospel.
Gavin learning to change his behaviour was central to this story and he was kind of dumb but also humble and willing to change. I grew to like him and to root for their marriage. I was glad to see some wake-up in Thea too.
“It absolutely is true. A woman remembers every time a man winks at her, because we love winking. It’s like catnip. Wink at us, and we roll over and start purring. You haven’t winked at me in a long time.” “Then I’m an idiot.”Gavin slowly lowered his gaze to lips. “Because I wouldn’t mind hearing you purr.”
There was a strong sense of family in this book with twins in the middle of this marriage. There were some incredibly sweet moments between the four of them that just made me warm and cosy.
I’m really looking forward to reading more from this series and this author, she reeled me in with this fun story.
Thank you to Headline Eternal for the early review copy.