THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY by Alix E. Harrow

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.


Title : The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Author : Alix E. Harrow
Format : ARC
Page Count : 385
Genre : historical fiction fantasy
Publisher : Redhook
Release Date : September 10, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

This was nothing that I expected it to be while also being exactly what I thought it would. Go figure that one out because I’m not sure I do!

Doors [..] are change, and change is a dangerous necessity. Doors are revolutions and upheavals, uncertanties and mysteries, axis points around which entire worlds can be turned. They are the beginnings and ending of every true story, the passages between that lead to adventures and madness and even love.

THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY is portal fantasy and historical fiction but, mostly, is about lost parents, absent parents, adoptive controlling parents, good people who make poor choices, bad people who care, the love of a dog, and the ones who stick around through good times and bad. Words have power, doors do more than just open to the next room, and there really are monsters that go bump in the night. 

There’s only one way to run away from your own story, and that’s to sneak into someone else’s.

For all the magic and wonder and strangeness of this world, and the ten thousand others we visit, it had a very strong backbone that felt relatable to the reader, whilst still being utterly magical, too. I loved how this story connected, though none of it was a surprise to me, and how each piece was slotted together. I loved the ending, too. There are some things I wish had been better explained but I suppose that would spoil some of the whimsy and wonder and, really, overall it doesn’t take away any of my enjoyment. It’s a small wish.

It’s a profoundly strange feeling, to stumble across someone whose desires are shaped so closely to your own, like reaching toward your reflection in a mirror and finding warm flesh under your fingertips. If you should ever be lucky enough to find that magical, fearful symmetry, I hope you’re brave enough to grab it with both hands and not let go.

I would absolutely read more by this author because if this is her debut, which is hard to believe, I can only imagine what is to come from her. 
If you’re looking for a lyrical, dreamy, diverse read, with plenty of historical foundation and all sorts of creative fantastical elements, you’ll want to pick this one up.

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

AMERICAN ROYALS by Katharine McGee

What if America had a royal family? If you can’t get enough of Harry and Meghan or Kate and William, meet American princesses Beatrice and Samantha.

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. 
Two girls vying for the prince’s heart. 
This is the story of the American royals.

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren’t just any royals. They’re American. And their country was born of rebellion.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

The duty. The intrigue. The Crown. New York Times bestselling author Katharine McGee imagines an alternate version of the modern world, one where the glittering age of monarchies has not yet faded–and where love is still powerful enough to change the course of history.


Title : American Royals
Author : Katharine McGee
Series : American Royals (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : NA alt-history contemporary
Publisher : Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

AMERICAN ROYALS was a concept I was excited about because, for all the royalty romances out there, we’ve never had one that reimagined, and rewrote, American history to fashion them with royalty (or at least I’ve never seen/read one!). Beyond that, however, I didn’t really know what to expect. My guess was drama, politics, and many things in between.

It’s definitely drama. Politics, not so much. This is all drama. It’s like Gossip Girl on steroids in some ways, I think. Maybe. I only watched like two seasons of that and it was a long time ago and okay maybe I should move away from this comparison.

Princess Beatrice is the eldest, the heir, set to become the country’s first Queen. The laws have changed and the monarchy is looking to be more progressive in regards to inheritance with women not being passed over for just having the bad luck to be born first but female. Yay! But only in that one way. Welp. Commoners are still not eligible for marriage and lo and behold isn’t that who Beatrice finds herself falling in love with? All despite trying to still adhere to the law, to tradition, and find herself an actual suitable match her parents, and the country, will approve of.

Then there’s her siblings, twins Samantha and Jefferson. They have a commoner friend, Nina, with whom they grew up with. Who is trying to keep the royal and regular sides of her life separate. To distance herself from the twins after an event that happened the night they graduated high school. 

Sam, who is everything Beatrice isn’t, who is directionless, troublesome, and Jeff who is beloved by all. And who dumped his longterm girlfriend, Daphne, even though she has no intention of staying dumped.

This book is a lot. I thought I was actually enjoying it at first, despite some of the nastier drama, but honestly I think I kept expecting something of this book that it wasn’t. And that’s on me. I was feeling leftover heartwarming RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE feelings and I thought this was going to be more rom-com, maybe, or just.. fuzzier. But it’s not.

AMERICAN ROYALS is definitely more in line with a soap opera, or reality shows (no shade! but I hate them), while still being clever enough to be riddled with the strangeness of the reimagined history, historical figures, and different way of life. As weird as it was, I sorta liked it, but it might be weirder for actual Americans who actually care, or are patriotic, about it all. I think this book will be a love or a hate; you’ll love the drama or you won’t, you’ll love the alternate universe feel or you won’t. And while I definitely didn’t hate it, I just didn’t love it. 

I couldn’t find myself feeling much for any of the characters or their various plights or plots; I never lost myself in this story or world, I was always keenly aware I was just reading about them. The only one who got much of a reaction out of me was Daphne. At first I just hated her, felt icky about her, but more and more I had to kind of admire her. Not for good reasons. But hey, at least she inspired a reaction.

I might read on, as it’s definitely not a standalone, but I’m not sure I’ll be clamouring for the sequel with the kind of curiosity I had about its predecessor. Mostly I’m just hoping it’s not a trilogy and everything wraps up in two books. Guess we’ll find out.

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

THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS by Katy Rose Pool

The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it?

For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.

All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Children of Blood and Bone, and An Ember in the Ashes.


Title : There Will Come a Darkness
Author : Katy Rose Pool
Series : Age of Darkness (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 496
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I think when I requested this book, the only bit I knew about it was “the Age of Darkness approaches and five lives stand in its way”. Because when I opened this book and started reading it, I was delightfully surprised. And hooked.

He’d been on his own since he was eleven years old, and in that time he’d traded parts of himself — dignity, virtue, a clear conscience, if he’d ever had those things — to save the whole. He hadn’t balked once.

This actually feels like a more mature, and darker, version of the Falling Kingdoms series. We have multiple POVs and the main characters overlap and connect in various ways, though they aren’t coupling up the way the other series did. Or at least not yet. The over arcing plot is a Big Bad who is looking to eradicate the Graced, a percentage of the population who have powers, who can channel esha (the energy of the world), to their bidding. Some have strength, some can heal, other see the future. So it’s not quite GRACELING where everyone’s Grace is unique, but rather that some are Graced and others.. not. And that’s the big conflict. Beyond the, whole you know, Age of Darkness ending the world and all.

The Paladin were the servants of the Prophets, and they had left to protect their last secret. But what if, in leaving, they had abandoned the Prophets’ subjects at the moment they’d been most needed? Were they then to blame for how hollow the City of Faith had become?

There is a secret order of people who have guarded the last big prophecy from the world, who retreated when the last Prophets left, and this prophecy pulls on the threads of fate for our main characters. Some are harbingers, some are hope, others helpless to do anything but play their roles. It’s twisty and so so compelling. But the author, through her characters, challenges some of those fantasy tropes and sprinkles doubt into the minds of our characters. I felt that to be so great, so authentic, and far more interesting than the usual scope of fantasy archetypes we normally see.

Whether or not you agree with the Witnesses, you cannot deny that you have been held back by the rules set down by the Prophets centuries ago. That the Graced will rule, and the rest of us will merely be footnotes in their stories.”

I’m not sure I have favourites yet but more importantly there wasn’t a single POV I disliked. I loved how the plot played out, the betrayals, the reveals, the mystery that still lies heavy over everything. Again, I hate to make the comparison because plot-wise and theme-wise they aren’t the same, but this is exactly what I wanted when I picked up the Falling Kingdoms series. And it’s also diverse — there seems to be no racism or prejudice.. beyond the fact that the Witnesses and Hierophant want to eradicate the Graced. But, strangely, even his argument lends a kind of logic to it all. I won’t spoil it but.. yeah, I was just really impressed with pretty much everything in this book.

I can’t wait for more!

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

DEAD VOICES by Katherine Arden

Bestselling author Katherine Arden returns with another creepy, spine-tingling adventure in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Small Spaces.

Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.

Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie’s watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.

With Mr. Voland’s help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help–or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted.

Dead Voices is a terrifying follow-up to Small Spaces with thrills and chills galore and the captive foreboding of a classic ghost story.


Title : Dead Voices
Author : Katherine Arden
Series : Small Spaces (book two)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 256
Genre : MG fantasy/paranormal mystery/horror
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date : August 27, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Well hello, I’m delightfully creeped out right now.

DEAD VOICES reunites us with the trio from SMALL SPACES, Arden’s first in this middle grade fantasy and paranormal horror mystery series. They survived the creepy scarecrows and fall-themed maze, they survived the Smiling Man, and now they are off to vacation at a ski resort during the holidays. But the vacation ends up being less hot chocolates and fun in the snow and more snowstorms and failing heat, hauntings and danger.

Since October, none of them had liked being alone in the dark. It wasn’t that they were afraid, exactly. But they had learned that bad things could happen to you. At night. Alone. In the dark.

Arden is no stranger to weaving magic with her words and creating a biting, brutal, and unforgiving atmosphere. The Winternight Trilogy still makes me cold to think of it (amongst other things!) and she brings that same talent to this instalment. What I think is actually the coolest (hah) part of this series is each book is set during a season; fall for SMALL SPACES and now winter for DEAD VOICES. It’s wonderfully creative. But onto this story itself.

The Ouija board was like the worst text messenger ever, Coco thought in annoyance.

If your imagination is overactive during the night, seeing shapes move in shadow and darkness, if you hear voices in the whisper of the wind, feel someone move behind you as your skin breaks into goosebumps, but there’s no one there.. you’ll probably hate this story. In the best way! Because this book really was eerie, really was creepy, and the ghoulish fear of spirits and the unforgiving violence of the cold is right in your face. Sometimes literally.

Beyond the characters and the seasons, there is connection between book one and two and I was not totally expecting it. But we also see some non-fantastical growth, too, and it was lovely to be back with this trio — and Ollie’s dad, too. Shoutout to awesome parents in fiction!

I am definitely hoping that Brian will be getting some time front and centre with the upcoming instalment and, based on how this one went, giving Coco some of the focus in addition to Ollie, I would be surprised if that wasn’t the plan anyway.

Can’t wait for more from this world and this author.

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

LOVE, UNSCRIPTED by Owen Nicholls

Owen Nicholls’ Love, Unscripted is an uplifting love story, following film projectionist Nick as he tries to understand the difference between love on the silver screen and love in real life. Perfect for fans of David Nicholls, Nick Hornby and Laura Barnett.

For film projectionist Nick, love should mirror what he sees on the big screen. And when he falls for Ellie on the eve of the 2008 presidential election, it finally does.

For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie as much as he loved his job splicing film reels together in the local cinema. Life seemed… picture-perfect.

But now it’s 2012, Ellie has moved out and Nick’s trying to figure out where it all went wrong.

With Ellie gone and his life far from the happy ending he imagined, Nick wonders if their romance could ever again be as perfect as the night they met.

Can love really be as it is in the movies?


Title : Love, Unscripted
Author : Owen Nicholls
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : Romantic Comedy
Publisher : Headline
Release Date : August 22, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★


I’m going to keep this pretty brief but unfortunately LOVE, UNSCRIPTED didn’t work for me. I found the whole read a struggle and a bit of a chore.

Marketed as a romantic comedy, I found the wit to be mild at best. This is the story of the beginning and end of a relationship, what happens in-between and afterwards. It had great potential but I didn’t find either character particularly likeable. Nick was a geeky-guy, stuck in a rutt and unable to move forward, he projected all his motivation in life into the other person in his relationship and I felt the kind of pressure Ellie must have felt under. Ellie was definitely more appealing but I didn’t feel that the narrative gave the opportunity to get to know her particularly well. The element I enjoyed the most was Nick as the protagonist, even if he was a little irritating at times.

Nick and Ellie’s story is told in past and present, sometimes this works for me in a story but in this particular format, I struggled. I found the past narrative slow and the present more engaging, this approach was mostly in alternating chapters. In general, the pacing was slow for my taste.

I’m disappointed this didn’t work for me, maybe I had different expectations going in due to the rom-com marketing.

Thank you the publisher and amazon vine for the review copy.

FIRST COMES LOVE by Emily Giffin

What happens when love, marriage and children don’t come in the expected order?

Fifteen years after the tragic death of their older brother splintered Josie and Meredith’s already fragile relationship, the two sisters are following very different paths.

Hardworking, reserved Meredith thought she’d done it all the right way round – married the perfect man, had the perfect daughter – but now she’s wondering if she got the love part wrong.

Impulsive and spirited Josie has been single for years. She wants a child so much that she’s preparing to head straight for the baby carriage all on her own.

As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and secrets from the past surface, Josie and Meredith must come to terms with their own choices. Perhaps they’ll find that they need each other more than they know…


Title : First Comes Love
Author : Emily Giffin
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 351
Genre : Women’s Fiction
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : September 22, 2016

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


I like Emily Giffin’s writing style and have previously enjoyed a number of her books. She writes good, reliable women’s fiction about families, relationships and the challenges that arise in life. That said, FIRST COMES LOVE was just an okay read for me.

The book starts very strong with a family tragedy and the story centres on the ripples going out from this event 20 years later. Central to this are the joint protagonists, sisters called Meredith and Josie. Imagine two 8 year old sisters biccering and this is much of how these two behave in the book but with adult themes. I think the reason I only found this an okay read was because of the juvenille relationship these two had. I much preferred the focus on their lives seperately.

Meredith’s life centred on her husband and child but there really was a ‘finding yourself’ theme to her story which I quite enjoyed. Josie’s story was more about reaching her goals and she had a couple of friendships that were fun reading. I did find Josie’s obsession with previous failed relationships a bit irritating. The story isn’t heavy on romance but had a relationships focus, mostly family and platonic relationships.

This book did have a reasonably good culmination. Although this wasn’t my favourite Emily Giffin, I still enjoyed her writing style and I’ll be back to read more from her.

Thank you to Hodder books and amazon vine for the review copy.

THE MERCIFUL CROW by Margaret Owen

A future chieftain
Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince
When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard
Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?


Title : The Merciful Crow
Author : Margaret Owen
Series : The Merciful Crow (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date : July 30, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m super glad I’ve just bemoaned all the disappointing YA fantasy so far this year because the universe sat up, said, ‘oh yeah?’, and tugged the rug right out from under me.

Bookies, I present to you : THE MERCIFUL CROW. I knew nothing about this before beginning (#TeamNoBlurbs) and was delighted at every turn the story took.

This world is made up of Castes centered around various birds : Crows at the bottom, Pheonixes at the top. We see the world through the Crows’ eyes; they are mercy killers, resistant to the plague that sweeps the nation, able to draw power from teeth (it sounds weird but it’s so cool), and overwhelmingly reviled by everyone else. They are spit upon, treated abominably, and yet every dying soul calls to them for mercy. They keep the realm safe because without them plague would run rampant, everyone would die. And yet..

Fie and her father’s band of Crows are called to the kingdom to dispose of two bodies. This is a rare event because royals, for whatever reason, haven’t been struck down by the plague in centuries. And when they are moments away from burning the corpses.. it turns out they are far less dead than everyone thought. And that one of them is the prince.

THE MERCIFUL CROW then goes on to weave a breakneck tale of disaster, betrayal, acceptance, more disasters, more betrayals, and on and on. This world was so rich and fascinating and holy forking hell was it diverse and delicious. Skin colour, sexuality, talk of periods.. Owens tackled them all without ever feeling like she was checking off a box for including one element of another. I loved that so so much. It felt effortless. Infact her writing in general was smooth and fierce and fraught with emotion. Just like her characters. 

My one complaint is that, and it might be my fault for missing it though I’m not sure I did, I’m not entirely clear why there is a plague in this world. It was never explained. But I thought every other bit was. Jasimir, the prince, was mostly a naive, spoiled, shit — as one expects — but through him we get a closer look at the prejudice and discrimination and ignorance of this world and the thoughtlessness (which is the kindest form of treatment they ever receive) towards the Crows. How the whole world is built on hating these people.. and yet relying on them. How no one has thought to question why or wonder about them. Or treat them as something more than trash. It was insidious, underlying every interaction or belief, and the author did a fabulous job at making this treatment abhorrent without ever making the story depressing. Just tense and brutal.

As for Fie, our lead and sole POV, she was.. wow. Brave and angry, fierce and uncompromising, full of doubt as she remained strong. She burned herself out, sacrificing not only for her people but for two individuals who hadn’t known her name, hadn’t cared about her Caste until they needed her; time and time again she pushed herself. For a promise, for the hope of a better future, even if it meant she wouldn’t see it herself. 

We also had a love interest and I won’t say I saw it coming but.. I did. And that was okay because I was totally onboard, totally shipping it, and the fact that we had some excellent exchanges around consent as well as discussion around sex itself..? Hello hi here for more of this in YA please.

When it comes to the ending, I’m also a huge fan of it. This is apparently a series (duology? trilogy? don’t know) and yet the ending was perfect. I am so satisfied and yet curious and excited and maybe a bit worried. Nothing has really resolved and yet it doesn’t really feel like anything is left hanging, either. It’s a great balance. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be clamouring for book two.

I’m totally shocked this is the author’s debut and highly anticipate this’ll be something of a surprise hit for many readers. You definitely need to keep this one on your radar. I totally recommend.

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

EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER by Linda Holmes

In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken–and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they’ll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they’ve broken, the plans they’ve changed, and the secrets they’ve kept. They’ll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance–right up until the last out.


Title : Evvie Drake Starts Over
Author : Linda Holmes
Format : Paperback arc
Page Count : 304
Genre : Women’s fiction, romance
Publisher : Hodder Paperbacks
Release Date : June 25, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Linda Holmes took a story that was rather ordinary and turned it into something quite special. Evvie Drake was like many women, many people; she didn’t feel good enough, she felt the guilt of life and her past and she was afraid to live and be happy.

Evvie had reasons for being this way, but she also had a lot of secrets, not the bank-robbing kind, but secrets that she didn’t tell anyone. Evvie was grieving and yet she felt that she wasn’t. She had lost her place in life, her autonomy and her sheer existence seemed about keeping an appearance of a widow and not hurting other people. The pacing of this story was perfection, as was the timeline. Nothing happened in an instant, time passed tangibly and the changes and evolution in her life were realistic. Evvie as a character was flawed and endearing.

Evvie had an amazing friendship with Andy, I loved how they were so genuinely there for one another. Everyone needs an Andy in their life, but their dynamic changed and that was pretty tough to read. Andy however, brought Dean, her tenant into her life. Dean was a uncomplicated man but he had some difficult problems to work through and he needed a break from New York. Small town Maine brought that escape for him. A slow friendship between these two developed and it was everything unputdownable. I devoured this storyline and these two together and apart. Their romance was one of the most believable stories I’ve read in a long time in contemporary fiction.

EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER is a debut, a fantastic one. Linda Holmes has shown in one book her ability to craft believable characters you want to read more about, pace the story with refinement and leave you unable to put the darn book down. I am going to be recommending this book all over because I believe it is that good. You don’t need to know any more than this is a book that needs and deserves to be read widely.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

PAN’S LABYRINTH : THE LABYRINTH OF THE FAUN by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke

Oscar winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke come together to transform del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth into an epic and dark fantasy novel for readers of all ages, complete with gorgeous and haunting illustrations.

This book is not for the faint of heart or weak in spirit. It’s not for skeptics who don’t believe in fairy tales and the powerful forces of good. It’s only for brave and intrepid souls like you, who will stare down evil in all its forms.

Inspired by the critically acclaimed film written and directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and reimagined by New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke, this haunting tale takes readers to a darkly magical and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous men, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.

Perfect for fans of the movie and readers who are new to del Toro’s visionary work, this atmospheric and absorbing novel is a portal to another universe where there is no wall between the real and the imagined. A daring, unforgettable collaboration between two brilliant storytellers.


Title : Pan’s Labyrinth : The Labyrinth of the Faun
Author : Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke
Format : ARC
Page Count : 262
Genre : YA fantasy horror / retelling
Publisher : Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date : July 2, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, I totally thought this was an MG story and hahahaha no.

I don’t know about the rest of you but when I think Pan’s Labyrinth I think [insert creepy dude with eyes in the palms of his hands here]. I only saw the movie once, a million years ago, and I thought this was an extension of the story or just inspired by it. But from what I understand (because I sure don’t remember enough to say for certain) is that this is an expanded, additionally layered, version of the movie itself.

Which should tell you who should or should not be reading this.

This is classified as YA I think but it is quite dark, if not considered outright horror, but it’s not just the fantastical elements that are dark. It’s the human elements, too. The brutalities done not only by bad men during times of war but bad men, period, who need no excuse.

There is melancholy and bitterness and grief and loneliness and yet the enduring belief in magic, in fairytales, in hope, too. The story is both bleak and yet also whimsical, captivatingly creative and cringey creepy, and the illustrations were just gorgeous.

This book consumed me and I loved every moment.

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

WICKED FOX by Kat Cho

A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.


Title : Wicked Fox
Author Kat Cho
Series : Gumiho (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : YA paranormal/fantasy
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date : June 25, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating
: ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

This is a paranormal fantasy, with a heavy focus on Korean mythology, set in present day Seol. And boy did it hook me right away.

My mother says gumiho are always women because we gain our power from the moon.”
And what is a man?
Dinner.”

Honesty, the first 1/3rd of this book was nonstop delight. It was interesting, refreshing, funny, thrilling.. I loved both our heroine, a half-human half-nine-tailed fox — who chooses to siphon the life force from evil men to survive (unlike her mother, a full gumiho, who prefers to go straight for the liver) — and our plucky, clumsy, devil-may-care hero, who has the good (or bad, depending on your point of view) fortune to be rescued by her. 

[his grandmother] used to tell Jihoon stories about [goblins] tricking humans and nine-tailed foxes eating the livers of men. Horror stories camouflaged as fables to teach lessons. But those types of stories were supposed to stay in books, not come to life and almost choke him to death.

Both characters have endured the loss of parents and are variations of isolated or alone : Miyoung because she doesn’t fit in, and her mother has taught her to not stand out so as to never give herself away, and Jihoon who, despite having two good friends, just tends to keep things light, and on the surface, so he can’t be hurt by further loss. 

And your father is a gumiho, too?
He was human.”
Was? Is he dead?
How should I know? I’ve never met the guy.”
How dysfunctionally ordinary.”

I loved that, without feeling heavy handed about it, these characters also put the more typical fantasy gender stereotypes somewhat on their head. Miyoung is the one with the power, the strength, and she’s the one recusing the hero. But she’s also the monster.

When you’re constantly treated as a pariah, and labeled bad, you might begin living up to the expectation.”

Things get — extra — complicated when Miyoung’s bead, her soul, is separated from her body, and there are shamans, secrets, and betrayals galore. I especially enjoyed events right around this time, when Miyoung is trying to solve her problem without crossing her stern mother, when she’s trying to fend off Jihoon’s attempts at friendship, and all the funny little exchanges they have. But this book did kind of falter shortly after most of that early action and things felt pretty dragged out. This is also a pretty long book (over four hundred pages) so a long book was made to feel longer because stuff just.. isn’t happening?

If I die, it’s not for you. I’m dying for me.”

That said, I found the world effortless to lose myself in. The writing, the mythology, the worldbuilding, the chapters that showcased and told us of past Gumihos, it was all fascinating. The characters, too, I really liked and it was, at times, really funny. And while the middle did drag, I thought the ending captured some of that early magic for me, so I’ll definitely read on (not sure if this is a duology or a trilogy at this point).

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

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