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SHADOW OF NIGHT by Deborah Harkness

Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey. 


Title : Shadow of Night
Author : Deborah Harkness
Series : All Souls (book two)
Format : physical
Page Count : 584
Genre : paranormal romance / historical
Publisher : Viking Adult
Release Date : June 10, 2012

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

Oof, okay, yes. I remembered this as the turning point for why I threw in the towel — and having just recently struggled through the show’s second season for a very true-to-book recounting of plot meant it was also very fresh — and I completely get why this turned the tide for me. What a slog. I felt like I was reading this for eighty-four years.

But, having said that, there were some parts that did their best (though failed) to make the whole bearable. I’m thinking mostly of the Philippe plotline. And.. oh damn, maybe that’s it. Gallowglass! He was a nice distraction from things. Queen Elizabeth, too, was feisty and rather fun. Matthew’s buddies, the School of Night? Mostly ugh. Particularly Kit (though honestly I doubt anyone likes Kit). I’ll never get over how Matthew let that whole dynamic thrive despite every instinct that should’ve been screaming at him to do otherwise. Considering his behaviour in, oh, I don’t know, every other circumstance when there was even less provocation? Yeah, brutal. 

To keep the romance element interesting, the author decided to augment all of Matthew’s bad behaviours under the guise of having to be more of who he was once before in order to “blend in” but also for the purpose of building up to one particular milestone in their relationship. It definitely felt a bit manufactured but the further away from it I am the more I understand it was a natural growing pain to the development of their connection. They do move quickly, after all, and throwing in the whole vampire possessiveness and Matthew’s own persona.. yeah, I get it. But I didn’t have to like it. Particularly as, on brand for this book, it gets dragged wayyy out. At least it’s over with now though. I think. I hope. Please.

Complaints aside, I do have to say how well the show has adapted these books. There are, of course, changes. Not only are these books just too long to be 100% faithful but where possible the show also combined some elements or cut out those that were similar enough to be represented by only one character instead of two. It also fleshed out scenes that we don’t see happen on page (maybe I said that in my review for book one? but it bears repeating as it’s relevant in this instalment, too). 

I’m definitely looking forward to a) finishing this series but b) finally seeing if this final book deserves all the hype. Knowing how things ends, too, takes some of the pressure off. At this point though I’ll be happy to just end on a higher note than this one. The bar is low!

WITH AND WITHOUT YOU by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

#Wibbroka is back with another swoony YA–this time tackling long-distance relationships, in a novel based on their own romantic history.

If high school seniors Siena and Patrick were a superlative, they’d be the Couple Most Likely to Marry. They’ve been dating for three solid years, and everyone agrees they’re perfect for each other. But with college on the horizon, Siena begins to wonder whether staying together is the best idea. Does she really want to be tied down during possibly the most transformative years of her life? So she makes a decision to break up with Patrick, convincing herself it’s for the best. Before she can say the words, though, he beats her to the punch: his family is moving out of state. Caught off guard by the news, Siena agrees to stay with Patrick, believing their relationship will naturally fizzle out with time and distance. But over a series of visits throughout the school year, Siena begins to see a different side of Patrick–one that has her falling in love with him all over again. 


Title : With and Without You
Author : mily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date : April 19, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★.5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

It’s probably not great that my least favourite read by this duo happens to be the one that is based (loosely, I hope?) on their own romance. Whoops.

But what really hurt this story was the lack of a secondary POV. I truly can’t recall anymore if all their books are like this or if some are dual (I really need to start making GR shelves for this but alas I probably will never do it) but this one needed it. Siena’s narrative was not always fun and while the second voice wouldn’t have improved that it would’ve given us something of a break.

I don’t begrudge this story for existing, particularly for all the YAers who are feeling similar things — not just the conflict inspired by leaving for college and whether the relationship will endure, but the added conflict of that looming issue when already dealing with a long-running relationship that you feel you may have outgrown. There needs to be space for these conversations and these dynamics and these circumstances.

But. That doesn’t mean I had to like this one. Siena spent the majority of the book wondering if she still fit with Patrick and honestly, girl, I wonder the same. He may have been unwilling to be open to new things without realizing the importance of them but she was equally rigid and uncompromising. And while you’d think living in her head would make you more sympathetic to her perspective (hah) oh no, it was worse. The book wasn’t all bad but that first 30% was real rough and I just don’t think it ever recovered.

Having said all that, I am hopeful that I won’t continue to reside in the 2.5-3 range for any more of their books because when they are good, they are great. I would maybe just give this one a pass.

INHERITANCE : A VISUAL POEM by Elizabeth Acevedo

They tell me to “fix” my hair.

And by fix, they mean straighten, they mean whiten;

but how do you fix this shipwrecked

history of hair? 

In her most famous spoken-word poem, author of the Pura Belpré-winning novel-in-verse The Poet X Elizabeth Acevedo embraces all the complexities of Black hair and Afro-Latinidad–the history, pain, pride, and powerful love of that inheritance.

Paired with full-color illustrations by artist Andrea Pippins in a format that will appeal to fans of Mahogany L. Browne’s Black Girl Magic or Jason Reynolds’s For Everyone, this poem can now be read in a vibrant package, making it the ideal gift, treasure, or inspiration for readers of any age.


Title : Inheritance
Author : Elizabeth Acevedo
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 48
Genre : poetry / picture book
Publisher : Quill Tree Books
Release Date : May 3, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated


Hollis’ unrated star review

I am not rating this due to the length (it’s short! and to mirror that this review will be, too) and also because it’s poetry and that’s almost on par with non-fiction for me. Having said that I wanted to boost this onto the blog because the illustrations are gorgeous and I think a lot of readers will appreciate this. Also, love the pun with the title.

Definitely check it out if you can!

ADULT ASSEMBLY REQUIRED by Abbi Waxman

A young woman arrives in Los Angeles determined to start over, and discovers she doesn’t need to leave everything behind after all, from Abbi Waxman, USA Today bestselling author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

When Laura Costello arrives in downtown Los Angeles, her life has somewhat fallen apart.

Her apartment building has caught fire, her engagement to her high school sweetheart has been broken off, and she’s just been caught in a rare LA downpour and has no dry clothes.

But when she seeks shelter in Nina Hill’s local neighbourhood bookshop, she finds herself introduced to the people who will become her new family. And as Laura becomes friends with Nina, Polly and Impossibly Handsome Bob, things start to look up.

Proving that – even as adults – we all sometimes need a little help assembling and re-assembling our lives…


Title : Adult Assembly Required
Author : Abbi Waxman
Format : Physical
Page Count : 397
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Headline Books
Release Date : May 17, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Found family
Quirky, eclectic characters
Slow-burn

I enjoyed this story from Abbi Waxman that is interconnected to her previous Nina Hill book. That said, this can be read and enjoyed as a standalone. The story centred on a found family of boarders in a LA house owned by the generous Maggie. The house sharers were a strange but mostly lovely bunch, add in some pets, a garden and it made for a warm vibe.

Laura, the protagonist was recovered physically from a serious car accident but not recovered psychologically. This book gave a credible insight into panic disoreder related to PTSD while not detracting from the full characterisation of Laura outside of her mental health problems. Bob (insanely handsome Bob) was a gardener, landscaper who was so incredibly humble and unsure of himself. These two left everything unsaid, they were awkward and yet formed such a firm friendship.

This book took place over nearly a year and so any connections, friendships and more were tangible and not rushed. I really appreciated the bonds in this book, those between Laura and her friends and then Laura and Bob. This was something of a slow burn that almost took me to frustration but brought me back from the edge.

If you like quirky characters, pets and a lack of egos, this is a read I would recommend.

Thank you to Headline books for the review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – MAY 17, 2022

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.


Something Wilder by Christina Lauren is back with another romance but this time featuring the daughter of a treasure hunter? Intrigued!

How To Live Without You by Sarah Everett is “a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story about family, grief, and second chances.”

Glow by Raven Kennedy is the fourth book in The Plated Prisoner series, the adult fantasy romance inspired by the myth of King Midas, and you can get your hands on it on May 19, 2022



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

SOMETHING WILDER by Christina Lauren

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.


Title : Something Wilder
Author : Christina Lauren
Format : Physical
Page Count : 366
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus Books
Release Date : May 17, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Romancing the stone vibe
Second chances in the desert
Riddles and challenges

This book was so utterly different to any Christina Lauren book I’ve read and I’ve read almost all of them and yet it had similarities in style. The author notes at the end explain these differences well. If you are aware of the 1980s/1990s films in the Romancing the Stone series or even Raiders of the Lost Ark, this book captures some of that kind of feel. There were some twists, unexpected happenings, chases, near-death experiences and of course romance. It made for an utterly fun read.

At the heart of this story was a bitter split between young lovers 10 years ago and their meeting again in the now. Lily and Leo were an interesting pair but I could totally see why they had originally fit together and also why they separated. I did cheer for them.

The side characters in this story were crucial, they were on a trail through the desert, guided by Lily (for fun…) but there was some nastiness plotting in the background. I did not expect a lot of where this story went. The romance was there but on the backburner and I guess I didn’t get the feels quite as much for this particular story, but I did enjoy the read overall.

Thank you to Piatkus books for the finished copy for review.

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together. 

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. 

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.


Title : A Discovery of Witches
Author : Deborah Harkness
Series : All Souls (book one)
Format : physical
Page Count : 579
Genre : paranormal romance / historical
Publisher : Viking Penguin
Release Date : February 8, 2011

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

We’re back and it’s time to tackle yet another unfinished series! Yes, once again, as is generally the case, books one and two in the All Souls trilogy (series, whatever) are familiar to me (from many moons ago) but book three (and in this case the companion/book four) are not. Having said that, because I had long ago decided I had given up on this series, I did start watching the show. And, even after deciding on this series completion journey, I continued to watch the show. So everything is jumbled now and there’s likely nothing at all that will be new or a spoiler; except book four. 

Having said all that, this book exists with a five star rating on GR from back when I logged it after creating my account. And it’s definitely not keeping that rating. As you can see. But what’s interesting is while I was constantly forever frustrated by Matthew in the adaptation, and I was sure the book would make me feel better about him.. he might actually be worse in the source material. Hard to believe. They did keep the characters pretty true to form but I’m struggling to remember if they had gentled some of Matthew’s extra aggressive/overprotective tendencies because while book-Diana pushes back a lot, I feel like show-Diana had to push back less. So I suppose there’s a positive to be seen in some upgrades.

Overall though the first season was so true to this instalment. The only changes were actually fleshing out backstories/parallel plots for a few characters we meet along the way; again, an upgrade, in my mind. 

I can definitely see why I did love this in the moment. It was an adult — and far more complex — paranormal offering in the era of Twilight and felt like a logical stepping stone in the vampire resurgence. In hindsight, all these years later, it’s.. fine. Maybe even good.

I do question my sanity in picking up a chonky series when in the midst of a slump but I must’ve been on to something because even though this took a few days to get through I did keep coming back to it. Even as a reread. Even with the show so fresh in my mind. I’ll take that as a win! I’m somewhat dreading book two because this is where it all went wrong for me, and why I chose to throw in the towel. Again, with having seen season two, I think I know why it went wrong but I guess we’ll see if season two was equally faithful to the book. And how it lands on this second go-round.

UNTIL THE LAST OF ME by Sylvain Neuvel

The First Rule is the most important: ‘Always run, never fight’.

For 3000 years Mia’s family has shaped Earth’s history to push humanity to the stars, making brutal, wrenching choices along the way.

And now, in the year 1968, Mia finds herself about to help launch the first people into space. She can’t take them to the stars, not quite yet. But with her adversary almost upon her, and with the future of the planet at stake, it’s becoming clearer that obeying the First Rule is no longer an option.

For the first time since her line’s first generation, Mia will have to stand her ground.

Because the overwhelming odds mean that she risks not only her bloodline, but also the future of the human race . . .


Title : Until The Last of Me
Author : Sylvain Neuvel
Series : Take Them To The Stars #2
Format : Physical
Page Count : 304
Genre : Sci-Fi Thriller
Publisher : Michael Joseph Books
Release Date : March 17, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Feminist stem sci-fi thriller
Ancient meets contemporary
Space programme

Okay, I jumped into this second installment hoping I’d be able to remember my place in the story and who was who with the characters. Neuvel wrote this in a way that readers will remember with ease this Kibsu race of women with a tendency for maths, space, killing and evasion.

While the whole premise of this story is about history repeating itself and how that played out with these generations of women, the story landed back with Mia and her daughter Lola. After the last book, the reader has a sense of what is coming to these women but also there was so much newness in the plot as the years went from the 1960s to the late 1980s. It was so interesting seeing the space race play out and Mia’s subtle contribution but desire for more.

Lola was a whole other kind of daughter not seen in the previous story. She was rebellious, hard-headed and perhaps with less of a sense of Kibsu than her matriarchal predecessors. I winced over many of the decisions Lola made but it made for good reading; I am left wondering about Catherine…a lot.

The ancient had a place in this story, how the Kibsu women influenced their time and how they were able to communicate with Mia and Lola. I found that fascinating. The trackers were prevalent and hella messy. Violence always followed these guys but the Kibsu were not innocent by any means.

Suffice it to say, I am fascinated by this story, the historical-sci-fi-thriller pitch of the tale feels so fresh and I look forward to the conclusion.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the review copy.

FAEFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

He calls me his Queen of the Night. I’d die for him. I’d kill for him, too. 

When MacKayla Lane receives a torn page from her dead sister’s journal, she is stunned by Alina’s desperate words. And now MacKayla knows that her sister’s killer is close. But evil is closer. And suddenly the sidhe-seer is on the hunt: For answers. For revenge. And for an ancient book of dark magic so evil, it corrupts anyone who touches it.

Mac’s quest for the Sinsar Dubh takes her into the mean, shape-shifting streets of Dublin, with a suspicious cop on her tail. Forced into a dangerous triangle of alliance with V’lane, an insatiable Fae prince of lethally erotic tastes, and Jericho Barrons, a man of primal desires and untold secrets, Mac is soon locked in a battle for her body, mind, and soul. 

As All Hallows’ Eve approaches and the city descends into chaos, as a shocking truth about the Dark Book is uncovered, not even Mac can prevent a deadly race of immortals from shattering the walls between worlds—with devastating consequences.…


Title : Faefever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book three)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 393
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : September 16, 2008

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I can’t tell if this actually deserves to be rounded up or if, after a bit of a reading dry spell, I’m just excited to have finished something — and in one sitting no less. <– oh hey, deja vue, this was the same situation I was in for book two! Though I think I’m in (or was in..) an actual slump this time. It’s rough out here.

It bears repeating that : I think we all know the deal with this series. It is definitely a product of it’s time. But we are already seeings signs of where Moning pushed her characters, and the series, away from their awkward beginnings.

Having said (again) that, this particular instalment slows things all way down. While book two was nonstop action, we had very little action in the third. It really decided to embody the term “slow burn”. And then of course leaves us on that cliffhanger (if you are familiar with the series but, like me, struggle to piece together which came when, here’s a hint : the cover). Once again, I found myself unprepared for how early this particular event happened. It really just was a blur that first time around, huh?

But. This particular event is (if my memory is to be trusted which, spoiler, it is not) does kick off a certain relationship in a certain direction. Otherwise though yeah that final chapter changes everything for everyone in this series. Though it doesn’t change the fact though that this was one big (slow) build to that finale; so it does feel a bit like a transitional/lead-up instalment. Which isn’t a bad thing because I feel like the next one does not pull punches so maybe we needed this calm before the storm.

Either way, I’m excited to dissect this one with my buddy reader (we already cackled about the MacHalo and I mean.. if you know you know) and, more broadly, I’m hoping this read can wiggle me out of the slump.

CRY WOLF by Patricia Briggs

Charles Cornick is his pack’s enforcer and lives a harsh life, doing jobs other wolves can’t – or won’t. And his most recent task was rescuing Anna Latham from a life of brutality. This leaves him shot and wounded, but he’s happy to pay the price. Charles is strongly drawn to Anna, and her growing ‘Omega’ powers will see his people through dangerous times.

Anna desperately needs her new mountainous home to be safer than the life she’s left behind. But when a rogue werewolf starts murdering hikers, Charles and Anna are sent into the winter forests to investigate. Charles is still weak and will need Anna’s strength as they discover a web of witchcraft that could drag down the whole pack. Including its leader Bran, Charles’s father, head of a vast network of wolves. And if Bran weakens, dark madness could run like a fever through half a continent.


Title : Cry Wolf
Author : Patricia Briggs
Series : Alpha and Omega #1
Format : Physical
Page Count : 321
Genre : Fantasy/PNR
Publisher : Orbit Books
Release Date : December 3, 2009

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Briggs on the UF/PNR forever
New couple, new obsession
Omega reveals

**PSA: read the prequel novella first (it was fantastic) which is 0.5 in this series and is called the same as the series title Alpha and Omega.**

Having met and loved Charles and Anna in the prequel novella to this series, I knew I’d enjoy this first full story offering, and I did. It comes with an extra appreciation if you’ve read the Mercy Thompson series because you get the Marrok’s pack and familiar side characters.

The tentative stepping around one another that Charles and Anna made as they got to know one another was my favourite part of this book. They connected so well but it was all very new and about getting to know one another. I look forward to the deeper connection that is sure to come in later books. The plot was strong in this book and the omega element continues to be interesting.

I got the answer to a question that has been on my mind for most of the Mercy Thompson series. Why the hell is Bran mated/married to Leah. I am now in the know and feel so much better to finally have that answered.

Patricia Briggs is my favourite discovery of the 2021/2022 (thanks to Hariette) and I hope her books will last the year as I make my way through both these connected series. Late to the party but here all the same.