A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER by Holly Jackson

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.


Title : A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author : Holly Jackson
Series : A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 389
Genre : YA mystery
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : February 4, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Was this the epic murder mystery contemporary I have seen everyone else say it is? Maybe not. Was this hella engrossing and did I finish it in a record breaking timeframe? Yes.

I’m sure the Veronica Mars comparisons have all already been done ad nauseum and so I won’t say much more about it. But I will say that while it’s far and away from a direct lift of season one’s plots and concepts, you might still get some of those vibes. I sure did.

You, of course, have to suspend a bit of disbelief around some of this, as one might expect going into a YA murder mystery, but I’m okay doing that. It does, overall, maybe keep it from being the perfect read, though. Hence the rating. While some of the twisting and turning plots and schemes and secrets might elicit some side-eye, though, I enjoyed the cast of characters and the multimedia aspect of the story telling. While the Marshmallow comparison is an obvious one, the media element also did give me a small amount of Sadie vibes, and one particular event felt like a throwback to a certain nineties movie franchise I can’t hint at further for spoiler reasons.

So, yes, I did like this! Obviously. I’ve heard, though, that book two is even better than and because I’m on a completed-a-book-in-one-sitting high, I’m diving right into the sequel.

LORE by Alexandra Bracken

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.


Title : Lore
Author : Alexandra Bracken
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 545
Genre : Contemporary YA Greek Mythology
Publisher : Quercus Books
Release Date : January 5, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

Headlines:
Like a super hero film but YA/greek mythology contemporary
Complex, full attention required
Gritty with a few brutal moments

Lore was a clever concept, greek mythology brought into the modern day NYC with the kind of fast pace that reminded me of a Marvel or DC movie. Lore was a descendent of Medusa’s bloodline and every seven years, there was a fight amongst ancient greek gods (kinda). It is a really complex plot that is slowly unfurled for the reader. What helped me with the complexity was being willing to go along with the story even when I didn’t quite know what was happening or why.

I was interested from the early pages, I liked the characters of Lore, Miles, Castor and Van. There were a crop of nasty characters and I enjoyed Lore’s strong feelings about other families and gods. The story never once lost pace and because it was complex, I’d advocate a one book approach and keeping going with the read to keep the plot straight. There was lots of action, fighting, some strategy, quick thinking and a bit of gore.

Sometimes you just have to survive to fight another day. Even I knew those were bad odds.

I was pretty grateful we read this for bookclub because I learnt a few more things I hadn’t picked up on in our discussions and we helped one another with plot points we hadn’t quite grasped. So it’s definitely not a perfect read but it’s still worth your time and investment. I think it would make a great film.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – MAY 18, 2021

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.


Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake by Alexis Hall is a single parent Great British Bake-Off-style romance by the author of last year’s Boyfriend Material.

Off The Record by Camryn Garrett is a behind-the-scenes access of Almost Famous meets the searing revelations of #metoo in this story of a teen journalist who uncovers the scandal of the decade.

Mister Impossible is the second release in Maggie Stiefvater’s Dreamer Trilogy, which spins off of her Raven Cycle series, and we’ll just pretend we didn’t forget to include this on our Anticipated May Releases post. Facepalm.



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

ROSALINE PALMER TAKES THE CAKE by Alexis Hall – double review!

Following the recipe is the key to a successful bake. Rosaline Palmer has always lived by those rules—well, except for when she dropped out of college to raise her daughter, Amelie. Now, with a paycheck as useful as greaseproof paper and a house crumbling faster than biscuits in tea, she’s teetering on the edge of financial disaster. But where there’s a whisk there’s a way . . . and Rosaline has just landed a spot on the nation’s most beloved baking show.

Winning the prize money would give her daughter the life she deserves—and Rosaline is determined to stick to the instructions. However, more than collapsing trifles stand between Rosaline and sweet, sweet victory.  Suave, well-educated, and parent-approved Alain Pope knows all the right moves to sweep her off her feet, but it’s shy electrician Harry Dobson who makes Rosaline question her long-held beliefs—about herself, her family, and her desires.

Rosaline fears falling for Harry is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Yet as the competition—and the ovens—heat up, Rosaline starts to realize the most delicious bakes come from the heart.


Title : Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake
Author : Alexis Hall
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : Forever/Piatkus
Release Date : May 18, 2021/August 5, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★/ ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3 star review

I definitely had warmer feelings about this story overall than I did about my last few Hall reads but unfortunately most of those warmer feelings kind of depleted over the course of the story. Not because of the events as much as because of certain characters.

When this story focused on some of the secondary cast, specifically Lauren, Harry, and Anvita, it was a great bantery blissful time. When we were in the bake-off segments with the ensemble in addition to all the filming hijinks? Delight. When we were dealing with Alain, or sometimes Rosaline herself? Ugh.

I don’t really want to reveal who Rosaline ends up with, especially for those #TeamNoBlurbers who won’t read the summary, or for those who might not infer from the synopsis how it all goes down, but. I’m very happy with the end result. It was just quite the journey to get there. And I’m not quite sure Rosaline deserved him, full stop, but also because the way things just fall into place is well.. convenient. For her.

Notably, another thing that dampened my enthusiasm about this story, was that it falls into a common and recent trend of feeling like a very “teachy” kind of book. Lots of discourse about gender stereotypes, important dialogue about biphobia, classism, and more, but not only does it handle that.. it also sorta beats you over the head with it. Both in how it’s challenged but also the frequency. Lumped into this were the circumstances of Rosaline’s life, her daughter, and so many horses died in the telling and overtelling of that plotpoint. But what made it worse was how inconsistent, and flipfloppy, even Rosaline told it.

Overall Rosaline was just a very flawed character, which is fine, I just wish maybe it had been showcased differently? For all that Alain was a dick, I understood his reasons (except for that one part; that one part is completely not understandable). I didn’t understand when Rosaline was also a dick (but I think maybe one specific area I couldn’t get was very British-specific in regards to classism that I just don’t think we have in my part of the world; at least not in this way). I didn’t understand her appeal. She had great friends but.. I don’t think she, herself, was always a good friend. We see everyone constantly stepping up for her and rarely does she return the favour. I realize this is her story, not anyone else’s, but it feels unbalanced, in a way.

There’s definitely a lot to recommend within the pages of Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake. I think a lot of people will like this. It is definitely an easier, more mainstream read, than Boyfriend Material (which I realize I’m biased against, so, I mean, grain of salt). But I can also see people who loved that book also loving this. Mostly I’m just happy that my experience with the other might have been an outlier because for all that this wasn’t a win, it wasn’t quite a fail, either. In the century that is 2020-2021, we take what we can get.

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


Micky’s 4.5 star review

4.5 stars

Headlines:
Brit Bake Off vibes
Banter for days
Charmed to the hilt

If I could describe my reading experience of Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake in one word, I would say charming. The characters were just simply a delight to sink into. They were messy, flawed but they were also incredibly endearing and a bucket load of funny.

I’m 100% a ‘Bake Off’ fan so this reimagining of a British TV Show in a similar vein was always going to speak to my fandom and it delivered completely. I loved the baking scenes in the competition alongside the behind-the-scenes elements. I grew to love Rosaline as a character, to cheer for her crawl out from the weighty expectations of her parents and she was doing a great job of the mother-juggle. Her bi-sexuality was such an issue for some people and this book really explored other people’s perceptions, expectations and some rather hideous elements to that.

“It’s me. I’ve done it. I’ve made a penis. I’ve made an enormous bread penis. Someone always makes a penis. And this year it’s me who made the penis.”

The two guys of the piece, Alain and Harry really altered my allegiances and expectations along the way. A lot of what happened with them was unexpected in the main and I loved how that story played out. Amelie, Rosaline’s daughter was a super-intelligent and outspoken eight year old but I did enjoy her character.

This book bantered me from front to back, I highlighted so much that it would take an essay to share them all but you won’t be disappointed at the dialogue and Rosaline’s inner monologue. As with all Alexis Hall’s offerings, everything about this book was quintessentially British and I love his style of bringing different British types of characters, accents and speech to the page.

And Rosaline tried very hard to keep her face ungifable.

I’m pretty enamoured with this book and I can see myself returning for a re-read. This story is definitely on my contemporary 2021 favourites line-up.

Thank you to Piatkus Books for the early review copy.

HERE WITH ME by Samantha Young – double review!

Settled in the tranquil remoteness of the Scottish Highlands, Ardnoch Estate caters to the rich and famous. It is as unattainable and as mysterious as its owner —ex-Hollywood leading man Lachlan Adair—and it’s poised on the edge of a dark scandal.

After narrowly escaping death, police officer Robyn Penhaligon leaves behind her life in Boston in search of some answers. Starting with Mac Galbraith, the Scottish father who abandoned her to pursue his career in private security. To re-connect with Mac, Robyn will finally meet a man she’s long resented. Lachlan Adair. Hostility instantly brews between Robyn and Lachlan. She thinks the head of the Adair family is high-handed and self-important. And finding closure with Mac is proving more difficult than she ever imagined. Robyn would sooner leave Ardnoch, but when she discovers Mac is embroiled in a threat against the Adairs and the exclusive members of the estate, she finds she’s not yet ready to give up on her father.

Determined to ensure Mac’s safety, Robyn investigates the disturbing crimes at Ardnoch, forcing her and Lachlan to spend time together. Soon it becomes clear a searing attraction exists beneath their animosity, and temptation leads them down a perilous path.

While they discover they are connected by something far more addictive than passion, Lachlan cannot let go of his grip on a painful past: a past that will destroy his future … if the insidious presence of an enemy lurking in the shadows of Ardnoch doesn’t do the job first.


Title : Here With Me
Author : Samantha Young
Series : Adair Family #1
Format : eARC / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 506
Genre : Romantic Suspense
Publisher : Self Published
Release Date : May 11, 2021

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Broody v ballsy
Sinister escalations
Feisty female lead

I love a good romantic suspense read and Here With Me reminded me very much of a Nora Roberts read in that genre. I think that’s a pretty high accolade. This was a long book but it didn’t feel it.

The meeting of a Bostonite and a Scot on a highland estate was the premise for this read but there was a rich plot of Robyn’s estrangement from her dad, Mac and some sinister goings on at the exclusive club that Lachlan owned.

Lachlan was the right level of brooding with character depth and Robyn was such a great, confident and feisty character. I loved Robyn’s attitude towards Lachlan and how their antagonism grew into something more.

The suspense plot was good, with periods of tension but not constant. To be fair, I guessed the person behind the things happening on the estate early on but it didn’t affect my enjoyment. I am here for more from this series and I curious as to whether they will all be suspense. Here With Me will appeal to On Dublin Street fans even with the suspense added in, the characters have a similar vibe.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Having never read anything by this author before I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had seen friends really enjoy this series and thought hey, my library has it, why not. And while we started off a little rocky with some inconsistent details that my brain refused to let go of, despite the fact that it was pretty silly, and I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with the love interest, Robyn quickly won me over; and honestly she’s the reason I enjoyed this so much.

We love to see a strong, badass, kickass, capable, woman — but one who doesn’t also fall into the pitfalls some authors lean into by also making her emotionally closed off or invulnerable. Robyn was very well rounded, very open with her thoughts and feelings and communicated them well, and honestly I don’t think Lachlan deserves her. But I did warm to him over time; Young gave him some realistic reasons for the way he was but.. he still didn’t make a great impression and did still frustrate me at times as he continually stumbled over things, screwed up, and had to make amends. Again and again. But. I respect how the author made him challenge himself and his emotional response to some things (I’m thinking of one particular instance) even if half the time his family had to kick his ass to get it all moving in the right direction.

I did guess who was behind the big whoddunit it of the story pretttyyyy early on and I want to make a comment about something kind of obvious that was a huge red flag clue but I don’t want to hint or spoil at anything for anyone else so I’ll zip it. So that was a little annoying to live through b u t I also appreciate that we got to see how frustrating it can be for investigators when clues don’t add up in a neat way, you’re fooled by what’s right in front of you, and cases drag out. There was no quick solve here and that did feel pretty realistic.

I’ll admit one thing I really dislike in a story is getting a backstory via internal exposition and then immediately having it explained in dialogue as well; it’s one thing to have it come up a chapter or two before and then it’s expressed in dialogue later but Young often had it back to back and I was a bit annoyed by that. I don’t know if that’s a style choice or it just happened to show up in this one. Not my favourite.

This book, and likely the series, is made up of some pretty complicated and complex dynamics; in both sibling and parental relationships and I did enjoy some of it but others kind of drove me batty. I’ll be interested to see how the second book plays out considering I feel zero compassion towards the new leading lady (though I’m sure she’ll be made out to have reasons for her actions) whereas I have plenty for the love interest. So maybe my bias will switch out for that one? Who knows.

Here With Me is definitely a little over the top in some ways, a bit dramatic, but there’s a backbone of really good emotional beats and discussion around family and forgiveness that, as mentioned, was carried by a great leading lady. I might not be awarding top marks but I devoured this (not short) book in one sitting so maybe that says enough.

THE LOOK OF A KING by Tom Dumbrell

Two young men.
One with a dark past, the other with a bright future.

Cyrus is a storyteller frustrated by the mundane trappings of village life, while Prince Augustus struggles to meet high expectations after an upbringing of royal privilege in the bustling capital. As both try to forge their own paths, a royal assassination unexpectedly closes the gap between them. The nation of Easthaven is thrown into war with their oppressive neighbours, and so begins a conflict from which neither can walk away.

Will a young prince finally measure up to his destiny? Will a storyteller create a legend of his own?

Cyrus and Augustus’s lives may seem worlds apart, but perhaps they aren’t so different after all…

The Look of a King is a fast-paced, adventure fantasy for readers aged 12+. It is perfect for readers who enjoy the pacing of books like The Hobbit, but with the unpredictable ruthless quality of Game of Thrones, where nothing is as it seems. Readers have described The Look of a King as ‘enthralling’, ‘engrossing’, ‘fantasy without the waffle’. The book will suit reluctant or time-poor readers who want a book that is easy to pick up and dive into with movie-like action. Book II: No Place for Peace – coming October 11th, 2021.


Title : The Look Of A King
Author : Tom Dumbrell
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 262
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Self Published
Release Date : March 6, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Historical in a fantasy world
Coming of age in war time
Identity

The Look of a King was a fast and engaging read. It was historical, in a fantasy world but not a magical world. It had some themes I really enjoy like found family, familial relationships and all that happening during a time of great unrest and war in this world.

The protagonist Cyrus was very likeable, humble and lacking in self belief but due to the circumstances of the story, there was a lot of character growth. Cyrus was a young man, finding his way in the world, finding a personal route in life until holy twist on a stick, things happened.

Talking of twists the story had a smattering of them, none of which I saw on the horizon, so that kept me glued to the story. There were some great side characters, those to cheer for and those not so much. The two sides of the coin could not have been more different despite outward appearances and ugh, I did not like one character in particular.

I would say that this book is definitely a grower, it didn’t start with a boom but it got me on board in a few chapters. I’ve ended it really wanting to know what’s going to happen with the double crossing, double-faced characters and with those I’m rooting for. Tom Dumbrell has written a great debut with care; it’s definitely worth checking out.

Thank you to the author for the gifted copy, this did not affect my honest review.

COOL FOR THE SUMMER by Dahlia Adhler

Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.



Title : Cool For The Summer
Author : Dahlia Adhler
Format : eARC
Page Count : 272
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ contemporary romance
Publisher : Wenesday Books
Release Date : May 11, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 



Hollis’ 3 star review

If you’re looking for a cute summery romance that happens to feature a girl torn between the guy she’s crushed on for years and the girl she met, and discovered previous unknown parts of herself with, over the summer, you should definitely pick this one up. This would be a great way to kick off the season of beach-y reads.

How do you tell people who’ve listened to you babble about your crush on a guy for a thousand years that whoops, you spent the summer fooling around with a girl?

What keeps this from being a love instead of a like is that certain parts did feel a little rushed (which makes sense as this isn’t very long) and while I believed in the unexpected romance between the girls, and also could totally understand the protagonist’s longtime crush on the boy, I didn’t quite buy into him suddenly sitting up and noticing her after so long. And I didn’t quite buy.. something else, that I realize might be a bit spoilery. This isn’t going well to explain my reasons but suffice it to say some parts of how this was set up and executed was so well done, others.. less so.

How do you tell your closest friends, when you only have one year left before you all head off in new directions, that they don’t know you as well as they think? How do you have that conversation when it means facing that you didn’t know yourself as well as you thought you did?

Additionally, I think I only actually liked our main character? I didn’t dislike the romantic interests, or anyone really, but she was the only one who felt really well rounded. I loved how she discovered a new sense of herself (beyond her sexuality) when she was put into a situation away from her home and longstanding friends. I loved how she started seeing herself from the outside and how she felt hampered by that view but would also think about the friendships and relationships had defined so much of her life. Not in a negative way, I loved the reflections she had about her very different friend group, but I really liked the introspection, of trying to figure herself out. Again, I really liked Lara.

Cool For the Summer is a quick fun read that also has a bit of YA-appropriate steam. Between the bi-questioning, the very different kinds of love interests, and the Grease vibes, this is definitely worthy of being on your radar.

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

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – MAY 11, 2021

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.


You And Me On Vacation (UK) / People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry is likely on everyone’s radar after last year’s Beach Read.

Switch by A.S. King is, “a surreal and timely novel about the effects of isolation and what it means to be connected to the world” which, granted, is maybe a little too on the nose for some people right now!

Cool For The Summer by Dahlia Adler is a cute summery romance that happens to feature a girl torn between the guy she’s crushed on for years and the girl she met, and discovered previous unknown parts of herself with, over the summer.

Heartstopper 4 by Alice Oseman isn’t out until May 13, 2021 (in the UK), but we need it n o w.



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

YOU AND ME ON VACATION by Emily Henry – double review!

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart–she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown–but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together–lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?


Title : You and Me On Vacation (UK) / People We Meet On Vacation
Author : Emily Henry
Narrator : Julia Whelan
Format : Paperback/Audio/eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : romance
Publisher : Penguin UK / Berkley
Release Date : May 11, 2021

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5 / ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Roller coaster friendship/love
Holiday vibes
Chem-is-try

There was nothing that I didn’t enjoy about Emily Henry’s upcoming release. The fact that she delivers on summery read to remember (again) and that I was lucky to read and listen in tandem to this book. Both formats were as good as one another.

You and Me on Vacation was told over a number of summers, charting the most lovely friendship; in the main this was platonic…until it wasn’t. Then, oh boy, the chemistry set fire to the pages, slowly.

We’re magnets, trying to draw together even as we cradle the careful distance between us.

In all the ways, both Poppy and Alex were opposite in personality and goals. They worked so well as friends and their summer trips were fun expeditions and something they both lived for. I loved seeing these trips unfurl as the years were recounted. I loved the people they met, the places they went but nothing was more interesting than THIS SUMMER. I loved getting back to that narrative.

The pages of this book, the minutes of the audio just turned themselves and I was sad to get to the end. Emily Henry knows how to inject just a little drama and tension with a great contemporary story. I’m here for next summer’s installment!

Narration-wise, this was single POV and single narration and it was excellent. I got all the sense of characterisation and the emotional feels from the listen. It’s such a perfect format to absorb the story while on literal vacation!

Thank you to Penguin for the gorgeous book and audio early copies.


Hollis’ 4 star review

I absolutely loved Beach Read so to say People We Meet On Vacation was highly anticipated would be an understatement. Expectations were high (sorry self! sorry book!). Then I found out it was a best-friends-to-lovers romance and I braced myself; it’s not one of my favourite tropes (though I like it a lot more than second chance romances) and the track record for enjoyment has been pretty hit or miss. I don’t mind people who initially start as friends and transition but long-time friends to more? I don’t know, I’m generally not sold.

But this might be a new favourite?

He is tall, quiet, and eager to see the library. I’m short, loud, and hoping someone comes by and invites us to a real party. By the time we part ways, I’m fairly confident we’ll never speak again.

The way this story was told flirts with that “one day a year in the life” concept but in a much better way. Also, on the topic, the flashback element? Solid. Sometimes it just does not work well but it was so good. Particularly how it built. Also also this was one of the better-done third act breakups (it’s not a spoiler, we all know to expect it!) because I hate manufactured drama and this just felt perfectly timed for r e a s o n s.

When a hot babe approaches you at a bar, the number one thing you should not bring up is your codependent relationship with your asshole cat.”
First of all, Flannery O’Connor is not an asshole. She’s shy.”
She’s evil.
She just doesn’t like you. You have strong dog energy.”

This doesn’t quite get full marks from me but I think that’s my fault. Mostly. The ARC has some minor but annoying formatting issues, yes, but more than anything I think I just read this too fast. I did not savour this experience and I wonder if maybe I should’ve soaked up the feels and the nuance and the awkward and the everything else that this book did such a good job of doing. I will definitely be adding this to the re-read pile and I hope to eventually come back and bump this up a little higher. But it’s still such a great time. Because of the sorta-grumpy-sunshine mix. The millenial ennui. The way so much just didn’t go according to plan. The heart. The so much more I’m not even touching on.

I think you’ll like this! And if nothing else you can live vicariously through the vacation and jetsetting. That alone is worth picking this up. The laughs and swoons are just a bonus.

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

A VOW SO BOLD AND DEADLY by Brigid Kemmerer – double review!

Face your fears, fight the battle.

Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace. 

Fight the battle, save the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and a magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.

As the two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and a dangerous enemy returns, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.


Title : A Vow So Bold and Deadly
Author : Brigid Kemmerer
Series : Cursebreakers (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)/audio review
Page Count : 408
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Bloomsbury YA/Audio
Release Date : January 26, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★/ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think I’m only actually bothering to review this one because I have reviews for the first two on the blog and so my completionist gene poked me to.. well, complete the trilogy of reviews. But overall I really don’t have much to say?

I think ultimately what failed this series, though, was the villain. Where it worked was that often the stakes did feel high because the violence and death toll was real. The author did not shy away from some of the more brutal consequences. But at the same time.. like, it felt not high at all? I still struggle with the motivations of it all, really. It felt a bit like a misstep because the whole conflict felt off balance. And then ultimately.. I mean, really? All that for.. what.

But likewise I feel like the other characters, too, had their moments with this. Maybe that’s why this series never achieved great heights for me. I think I like the concepts and the unfolding of the story but kept getting knocked out of it because the characters themselves didn’t quite match the rest.

Having said that, though, the big confrontation conflict moment? Confusing. Chaos. Hard to follow. And then.. over. That is my biggest gripe with this particular installment. I had lost the love over the main pairing back at the end of book one, or early two, so I was only into the secondary pairing, and they definitely delivered. The first? Less so. But I think that also plays into me just not being into the main plot? And is why I liked book two more? Did I rate this book too high? Is this actually a 2.5? Hm.

Anyway. Overall, this series had some things to like about it but also had enough that either didn’t pan out or just didn’t work for me. But it also made for quick reads (this one being no exception) and I’m not mad about the time I spent in this world; but nor will they linger in my memory; which is totally fine. I need every ounce of salvagable free space in my brain I can get.


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Family fighting
New roles for old friends
The threat of war

I’m feeling an overall sense of satisfaction with where the series has left readers and the latter part of the reading journey was incredibly fulfilling. Some of the middle journey didn’t always keep me fully engaged.

The two factions of this story were really pitched against one another at the end of the previous book with the queen of evil in the middle. I appreciated the stories on both sides of this but what has been hugely interesting to me has been my own feelings across the series as I’ve gravitated from one set of characters to another in terms of loyalty. I wanted to stay in Grey’s crew and had to remind myself to care about Rhen and Harper. I do feel like Harper’s character has faded a little across the series. Lia Mara still left me feeling a bit ambivalent.

Things I enjoyed about this installment included the strategy, the uncertainty that characters had of one another, healing of old hurts and reconciliations. It felt good to complete the series.

This was an audio listen and I enjoyed the narrators, the atmosphere and the general vibe of the book in this format. There was an early slip up with one narrator saying ‘Lia Maria’ instead of Lia Mara a few times, but it didn’t get repeated more than twice.

Readers new to the series will get to power through the three books and I think this will be a great binge.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for this audio review copy.

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