UNCHARTED by Adriana Anders

Hotshot pilot Leo Eddowes is afraid of nothing and no one. So when she’s asked to evacuate a man from the wilds of Alaska, she doesn’t hesitate. But with enemies in close pursuit and the weather turning sour, what should have been a simple mission quickly shifts to disaster.

And there’s only one way out.

When Elias Thorne disappeared, he was America’s most wanted. Now he’s spent more than a decade in one of the most remote places on earth, guarding a dangerous secret. Leo’s arrival, quickly followed by a team of expert hunters, leaves him no choice but to join forces with her—and run. Neither is prepared for their reluctant partnership to flare into something as wild and untamed as the frozen world around them…but as desperately cold days melt into scorchingly hot nights, Leo and Elias must learn to dig deep, trust in each other, and forge a bond as strong as the forces of nature.

Stranded together in a frozen wilderness,
There’s nowhere left to run… 


Title : Uncharted
Author : Adriana Anders
Series : Survival Instincts #2
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : Romantic Suspense
Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date : August 24, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Action-brimming
Survival with proximity
Page-turner

The second book in this series did not disappoint me at all, in fact, it lived up to all my hopes. It was a new couple and I wondered if I could feel the same connection as the previous couple. The answer was I did and quickly.

The story started with a bang and with Leo, a pilot, brave and a bit stupid gung-ho. She held the stage until Elias entered the story and together they made compelling reading. I want to say nothing about the plot because it was clever and kept the story from book one going but in a fresh way, however these two were part of that complex picture.

While this book had its adrenaline moments, feelings of helplessness, that was well balanced with a suspicious connection between the MCs that built into both investing in surviving. As that relationship evolved, it was as much of a page-turner as was the suspense plot.

He felt rearranged by this woman. His insides would never be the same again.

I loved everything about the Alaskan context, the danger of it, the nature. The set up for the next book sounds good and I can’t wait to read more.

Thank you to the publisher/netgalley for the early review copy.

THERE WITH YOU by Samantha Young

For Regan Penhaligon, there’s no better place to run to than the exclusive Ardnoch Estate in the remote Scottish Highlands. Her impulsive behavior has finally caught up with her and Regan’s visit with her sister, Robyn, is an opportunity to hide from someone who has grown dangerously obsessed with her.

Determined to make amends for her mistakes, Regan plans to repair her relationship with Robyn by staying close. And when an offer of help comes from Thane Adair, Regan gratefully accepts.

Widower, Thane, needs a new nanny housekeeper for his two young children and when they bond with Regan Penhaligon, he offers her the job. But as the weeks pass and the complex American reveals who she really is, Thane struggles with his growing attraction to her.

Regan never expected to feel so intensely for Thane, but she can’t deny her passion for him or her love for his children. When someone from Thane’s past threatens his family, Regan wants to be his pillar of support. However, his continued inability to trust her might just destroy their chance at future happiness… and the person who drove Regan to Ardnoch might snuff out her chance for any future at all.


Title : There With You
Author : Samantha Young
Series : Adair Family #2
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 374
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Self Published
Release Date : August 24, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Too Scot to handle
Gentle suspense
Sense of family

I’m already getting sad that this is marked as a three book series on Goodreads and retailers as I know I will want more than three books from this family and setting. I really enjoyed book one and I loved book two. This series is clearly building into a favourite contemporary romance/romantic suspense.

While the suspense in There With You felt gentler than book one, it was no less gripping. There was something very tangible about Thane and Regan’s story. With a nanny(ish) trope and the most engaging family, this story had me struggling to put my kindle down for the 24 hours that I read it. Thane could be an a**e but he had valid reasons and Regan was so misunderstood; I really enjoyed people realising her character just by being around her for a while.

“These Adair men…emotionally constipated, I tell you.”
“So what are we? The laxative?”

The chemistry between these two was so believable and had all the feels, as did the reluctant emotional connection. On top of that, I have been reflecting on the thoroughness of plot points, large and small in many of Samantha Young’s books and There With You was a great example of this. I was never once left feeling something was loose ended, nor were things neatly tied; she hits a great balance.

Sign me up for more Adair, I want more, I need more and I will definitely re-read this series. Oh, and I read this book in Gairloch on the NW coast of the highlands…pretty perfect all round.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy, this has not affected this unbiased review.

THE WOMEN OF TROY by Pat Barker 🎧

Following her bestselling, critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker continues her extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest myths.

Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails.

But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended – the body of Priam lies desecrated, unburied – and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held them together begin to fray, old feuds resurface and new suspicions fester.

Largely unnoticed by her squabbling captors, Briseis remains in the Greek encampment. She forges alliances where she can – with young, dangerously naïve Amina, with defiant, aged Hecuba, with Calchus, the disgraced priest – and begins to see the path to a kind of revenge. Briseis has survived the Trojan War, but peacetime may turn out to be even more dangerous…


Title : The Women of Troy
Author : Pat Barker
Narrator : Kristin Atherton
Format : Audiobook
Length : 12 hours, 18 minutes
Genre : Greek Mythological Retelling
Publisher : Penguin Audio
Release Date : August 26, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Intensely detailed retelling
The rise of women
Tragedy and heartbreak

The Women of Troy picked up the story immediately after the end of The Silence of the Girls. It amazed me that a successful outcome of the war didn’t really change dynamics in the camp. The men still treated the women terribly, used and abused them with zero respect. The men across the ranks were petty and egotistical, none more than those who were senior. Again, with this installment, I found there was hardly a man to cheer for. Expect to feel emotions of anger at the misogyny and abuse.

I enjoyed hearing the story from Briseis’ perspective; she really was a character to admire. She was all about survival but she maintained a degree of integrity and compassion for her female companions and occasionally for some men. When the story flipped on occasion to one of the male’s perspectives, I was less invested but Briseis carried the majority of the story.

The narration was superb and the emotional temperature of the camp was translated well.

This story definitely is on the heavier end of spectrum for Greek mythology/ancient history fiction. The detail was both welcome but also at times slow in pacing. I did prefer the first installment of this series but I’m also glad I saw this story through to it’s completion. It ends in a place of possiblity of more but I’m not sure if this is the plan.

Thank you to netgalley and Penguin Audio for the early review copy.

VOW OF THIEVES by Mary E. Pearson

Kazi and Jase have survived, stronger and more in love than ever. Their new life now lies before them―the Ballengers will be outlaws no longer, Tor’s Watch will be a kingdom, and the two of them will meet all challenges side by side, together at last.

But an ominous warning mars their journey back, and in their rush to return to Tor’s Watch, just outside the fortress walls, they are violently attacked and torn apart―and each is thrust into their own new hell.

Unsure whether the other is alive or dead, Kazi and Jase must keep their wits among their greatest enemies and unlikeliest allies. And all the while, Death watches and waits.


Title : Dance of Thieves
Author : Mary E. Pearson
Format : eARC
Page Count : 496
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date : August 6, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .75


Hollis’ 3.75 star review

So, my theories were crap. But only because at least one thing I expected to be revealed.. wasn’t. Which is perplexing. Are there more books to come for this world to explain? Is it something that just won’t be? I have fewer theories but more questions.

I truly don’t know how to rate these books. More and more I hate having a star system and wish I didn’t have to assign a value to anything. Anyone else? Anyway.

What Pearson does so well, and this book/series is no exception, is how messy and complex and crafted the plots are. Some characters (usually the villains) are eight steps ahead of the rest of the players; not in an outlandish, it’s not possible, kind of way but legit villainy. Obsession. Carefully considered moves and steps and feints. Which makes sense because the heroes, those fighting back, are so good, so clever, themselves that they need a true opposition to make the stakes feel high. And they always do feel high; especially in this instalment. 

For all that the action was dialled up in this one, letting the romance take a bit of a backseat, I did find myself pulled away from the story more than book one. I don’t know why. Might’ve just been my distractible brain.

But for all that I’m fretting over the rating, for all that I wasn’t as absorbed, I did still devour this book and am actually kind of sad I’m now all caught up. I guess I’ll be joining the queue of fans to see if there’s more to come from this world which is such a strange mix of fantasy, dystopia, and science fiction. Am I still the only one who doesn’t quite know how the original world fell apart, though? Maybe one day I’ll figure it out.

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

CAZADORA by Romina Garber

In Cazadora, the follow-up to Lobizona, Romina Garber continues to weave Argentine folklore and real-world issues into a haunting, fantastical, and romantic story that will reunite readers with Manu and her friends as they continue to fight for a better future.


Title : Cazadora
Author : Romina Garber
Series : Lobizona
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : August 17, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2.75 star review

Did I think this was a duology? Yes. Am I disappointed? A bit. Because even though my feelings about this instalment were kind of lukewarm, the ending hooked me. I kind of expect to be in the same spot again with book three, where I end this review thinking the next book might inspire some love and probably being a little let down again.. but oh well, we’re going to do it anyway.

Bruja. Lobizón. There’s no accompanying symbol, but there’s no need. The gendered language makes it clear which one is for girls and which one is for boys. There’s no breaking out the binary, no room for anything in between.

Some of what I struggled with in book one wasn’t here in book two, which was great, but overall I’m not 100% what actually happened in this book to differentiate it from book one. I mean, yes, we had the big capture, the big confrontation, but the majority of this book was just going through similar motions except the world expanded a bit more from the binary structure introduced in Lobizona. Until those misfits, much like their strict counterparts, weren’t willing to unbend quite as much as expected. Part of me appreciated it, because going with the flow would’ve been a little too easy, but it did reinforce the whole ‘what was the point of this’ feeling. I imagine where we go next will be to lean back into a lot of the themes of book one — isolation, illegal, unwanted — with a few key differences.. such as the truth being out in the open. I can’t picture how this ends, though; so that’s something.

They’ve been making up stories about independent girls in every tradition since forever. And I think it’s time we take back our narrative.

As creative and visual as this world is (don’t ask me why but my brain conjures Avatar-like colours and scenery), I do think it is a bit of a distraction from the dragged out plot. The themes, the dialogue, are all just as important and great as they were in book one, but.. I don’t know. There’s just a but for me.

Again, the ending was good, I will be back for more, but am I still sad I’m not loving this world? So much. Because of that, please disregard this review. I won’t recommend you pick it up but I think this is important enough that you should anyway.

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

VIPER by Bex Hogan

He will make me a killer. Or he will have me killed. That is my destiny.

Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.

But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.

He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.

She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?


Title : Viper
Author : Bex Hogan
Series : Isles of Storm & Sorrow #1
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Orion Children’s Books
Release Date : April 18, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Fast-paced pirate-y high jinks
YA with brutal events, descriptive gore
Trust issues on trust issues

Hooked from the first few pages, Viper plunged me into the world of Marianne, daughter of a brutal sea captain, dictator and killer. Her life was pretty miserable but she’d learnt the art of survival, mistrust and battle skills. A lot happened in these pages, plenty of twists and turns and it was the kind of book that didn’t break pace but it didn’t make me exhausted by that fact.

There was brutality and heartbreak within these pages. For YA, this was pretty graphic on the battle stakes, killing and torture on the agenda. However, it fitted in well with the story, the characters and plot. There was a time where Marianne found a family who became hers, all the feels gushed over this.

The friends/found family built over the story, connections and trust were interesting to read. I am completely invested in more of this story, where the magic takes the crew of the Viper and Marianne herself. Roll on book two!

DANCE OF THIEVES by Mary E. Pearson

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.

Mary E. Pearson’s Dance of Thieves is a new YA novel in the New York Times bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts. 


Title : Dance of Thieves
Author : Mary E. Pearson
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 521
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date : August 7, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .75


Hollis’ 3.75 star review

So, in hindsight, I should’ve read these much sooner after finishing The Remnant Chronicles. Especially the novella, Morrigan. Most of the mythology/worldbuilding did come back to me but it was slowish going and I’m sure some bits flew over my head because I’d forgotten some nuance. This does follow new characters, and mostly new conflict (with familiar faces all around, including a villain or two), but it’s still tied into the main series enough that I grumbled about my poor sieve of a memory.

That said, like with Pearson’s original series, I loved Kazi. How this author makes me fall in love with her female protagonists is just pure magic. Jace wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the women who shine. Kazi is very different from Lia, with a background that is the literal opposite to the other, but she is just as clever, just as cunning, and likely even craftier. Not to mention skilled. 

I like how once again this series is challenging the theory of an assumed-upon history of a world and how what is known maybe isn’t true. While that wasn’t the main issue of the plot it definitely plays a big part. I’m curious to see how it plays out in book two. Because for all that we definitely wrapped up some loose ends, you know there’s more to unravel in the coming book; particularly after that epilogue. And I have t h e o r i e s.

I’m diving right into book two and oh boy am I hoping this series has a stronger end than the last one.

THE FOXHOLE COURT by Nora Sakavic

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.


Title : The Foxhole Court
Author : Nora Sakavic
Series : All For The Game #1
Format : e-book
Page Count : 237
Genre : NA Sports Fiction (no romance)
Publisher : Self published
Release Date : July 30, 2013

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

3.5 stars

Headlines:
Buckle up for the ride
More questions than answers
Brutal and raw

I don’t even know how to process my feelings on this one. It was a completely wild ride and although I’d heard ‘things’ about this book, nothing prepared me for the raw and brutal story. It was violent, abusive and certainly a strange way to envisage any sporting team. There are simply so many triggers in this book, so go look for those before reading if you need to.

Despite my reservations about what I found between these pages, there was much to draw me in. Neil as an MC was such a compelling character, all his past, present and potential future had you literally willing things to work out for him. What Neil found with the foxes was not pleasant with bullying to a degree that was unfathomable, hazing like could not be believed, to the point that I hate-read one chapter; it was tough reading.

Yet, saying all that, I am invested in this odd and messed up crew. The backstories were particularly confusing relating to Neil/Kevin/Riko and their familial connections and businesses. I didn’t really find myself enlightened by the end but that’s also a part of why I’m invested. I pretty much hate Andrew, I don’t understand his illness, I don’t understand how his psyche works and I don’t understand his connection with Kevin. I find myself drawn to Kevin and really want to know more about him.

Important note: I have deducted half a star from this read because the author used the ‘r’ word twice in a totally unnecessary, off the cuff way. There really is not any necessary use of this word which should be expunged from the vocabulary of all folks. It is utterly disrespectful to any person with learning difficulties or disabilities.

Stray into this series if you are brave enough. I’m not a brave reader but I find myself here anyway.

Thank you lovely Tara for holding my hand.

ALL’S WELL by Mona Awad

Miranda is a theatre professor whose life is less than satisfactory. After falling during a performance early in her acting career, she finds herself in constant, seemingly incurable pain and struggles to even sit still. When she hopes to revisit the glory of her acting days by having her class stage Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, she is met with a mutiny from her students, led by her least favourite undergrad–the devious Briana. Forced instead to put on Hamlet, Miranda is devastated at the duplicity of her students, underhandedness of her boss, and is consumed by frustration at the lack of control she has over her own body and life.

When she’s drowning her sorrows at the local pub one night, her path takes a sharp turn. Three mysterious men in suits who seem to know everything about her–her pain, her glory, and her deepest desires–offer to help her. After drinking a glowing, golden liquid, she wakes up the next morning with no memory of the night before, and her chronic pain has lifted. Miranda’s life starts falling into place: she is not only walking but running with ease; Briana has become gravely ill; and a twist of fate allows Miranda to stage her beloved All’s Well That Ends Well. But as a lover of the Bard, Miranda should know that sudden streaks of luck always come at a price… 

All’s Well is a searing exploration of chronic pain and depression through the classic tensions between saints and sinners, healers and witches, revenge and jealousy, love and lust to craft a completely modern and truly unique rendition of a Shakespearean play


Title : All’s Well
Author : Mona Awad
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : contemporary / magical realism?
Publisher : Hamish Hamilton
Release Date : August 3, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ 


Hollis’ 1 star review

All’s well.. now that I have finished this book. Because this was not for me.

I don’t quite know what I expected from this; well, okay, this was one of those rare cases where I did read most of the blurb before requesting. So I expected the summary. Which does sound good. And yes, I had heard some strange and varied things about Bunny, the author’s previous release, and thought, of the two, this might be more my speed to test the waters on a new-to-me author.

But no.

While the commentary surrounding chronic pain and how it is treated in the medical community, particularly with women patients, was definitely frustrating, and heartbreaking, the writing was.. manic? Stream of conscious strangeness? And that was before the was-it-magic-or-delusion-who-even-knows.

This was just so strange, and often uncomfortable — in the sense that it was visceral and I did, often, find myself in Miranda’s shoes as if I, too, was haunted by her pain; at least in the beginning, before I started to check out. So I did feel things but I didn’t like anything I felt and, again, the rest just felt like it went a bit off the rails. It was also a bit repetitive with the actual preparation of the play, which made it feel dragged out, and.. yeah, obviously, I didn’t like this so why I’m still trying to justify the reasons, I don’t know.

I can’t make myself round up on this and definitely can’t recommend it, either.

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

RED WOLF by Rachel Vincent

For as long as sixteen-year-old Adele can remember, the village of Oakvale has been surrounded by the dark wood—a forest filled with terrible monsters. A forest that light itself cannot penetrate.

Unlike her fellow villagers, Adele cannot avoid the dark wood.

Adele is one of a long line of guardians: women who secretly take on the form of a wolf, in order to protect their village.

But when accepting her fate means giving up the boy she loves, abandoning the future she imagined for herself, and breaking her own moral code, she must decide how far she is willing to go to keep her neighbors safe.


Title : Red Wolf
Author : Rachel Vincent
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count :359
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Harper 360YA
Release Date : August 5, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Such easy reading
Fresh retelling vibes
Unexpected plot directions

We’ve had a few wolf stories hit the shelves this year and they’ve all worked for me. What is totally in Red Wolf’s favour is the writing and ease with which the reader can sink into this story and not want to put it down.

Red Wolf set the scene well immediately, a dark wood, evil woodland creatures and a village at risk. I will say no more as the events that arise from there were pretty unexpected and I was hooked to the page.

The Duvall women in this story were captivating; they were brave, humble and focused. Adele had a lot of carry on her shoulders and she struggled to adjust, very understandably. I thought Max was a great character, supporter, feminist and I definitely need more of him.

This book has left me wanting more. It was full of action, pace and some tragedy. This is my first book by Rachel Vincent but she’s reeled me in.

Thank you to Harper360 YA for the review copy.