THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL ANGRY PLANET by Becky Chambers

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.


Title : The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
Author : Becky Chambers
Narrator : Patricia Rodriguez
Series : Wayfarers #1
Format : Audiobook
Length : 15 hours, 41 minutes
Genre : Sci-fi
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : August 13, 2015

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Sadly I’m feeling rather underwhelmed by this series starter when I really expected to enjoy it. I’m a lover of sci-fi and the idea of a fun bunch of species romping the galaxy sounded right up my street and in some ways it was.

THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL ANGRY PLANET was incredibly complex in terms of characterisation of species. I initially thought the whole book would be from Rosemary’s POV but as soon as she landed on the Wayfarer, it became multi-POV. I wasn’t always enamoured by some of the POVs, nor all of the ship’s crew as characters. I did like Rosemary, Ashby, Lovey, Dr Chef and Pei. Sissex and Ohan took some getting used to and I think that some of the early description of their species lacked the depth I needed to connect.

What I did like was the vibe of the crew on the ship; it was light hearted, warm and welcoming. They were a close crew, a family really. I also liked how relationships were depicted, gender, connections were of little importance and there was a natural tone to how romantic connections were made.

The plot was slow at times but it always picked up eventually with some event happening. I think I wanted a bit more space drama than there was. Maybe this was exaggerated by listening on audio, although the narrator was good.

My ultimate feeling on finishing is that there is enough here for me to carry on with the series. I have finally made some connections with the characters and there was a little action towards the end that I hope spells a better pacing ahead.

THE SHELF by Helly Acton


Everyone in Amy’s life seems to be getting married (or so Instagram tells her), and she feels like she’s falling behind.

So, when her boyfriend surprises her with a dream holiday to a mystery destination, she thinks this is it — he’s going to finally pop the Big Question. But the dream turns into a nightmare when she finds herself on the set of a Big Brother-style reality television show, The Shelf.

Along with five other women, Amy is dumped live on TV and must compete in a series of humiliating and obnoxious tasks in the hope of being crowned ‘The Keeper’.

Will Amy’s time on the show make her realise there are worse things in life than being left on the shelf?

A funny, feminist and all-too-relatable novel about our obsession with coupling up, settling down and the battle we all have with accepting ourselves, The Shelf introduces the freshest new voice in women’s fiction. 


Title : The Shelf
Author : Helly Acton
Narrator : Daisy Edgar-Jones
Format : eARC/audio
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Release Date : July 9, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I didn’t expect to enjoy this one as much as I did considering I’m not a fan of reality shows but with the protagonist, Amy as an insider and almost a victim of the show, this was super clever. A great concept, good writing and fantastic narration, THE SHELF turned out to be a winner for me.

I mostly listened to the audio on this one but also a little ebook (ARC) too at night when I just had to carry on with the story. This story is a woman in a relationship’s worst nightmare of dumping alongside a reality TV show. It provoked some serious irritation in me on behalf of Amy but this was an unfolding story, with character development and resilience to come. It was also a story of sisterhood and I really appreciated that.

What stopped this from feeling a too tragic or morose was the with which Helly Acton told the story. Amy had an awakening and with that came a more quippy character who could laugh at herself and her outlook on life. I love a flawed character (aren’t we all) and Amy delivered on that. I would have loved to have known a bit more about the red flag development in the epilogue. The other characters in the house brought a fair bit of hilarity.

What was a constant theme was the misogyny underwriting the whole of the TV show, get ready to feel irritated and incensed by that. I have to admit the whole time I was listening, I was imagining the big brother house and that helped me.

The narration was exceptional and if you’re a fan of Normal People from Netflix you will recognise Daisy Edgar-Jones voice. She brought character, tonation and spirit to this listen and she brought the characters alive.

I’m not 100% certain what genre to call it but I’m not sure that’s important, however I’d go with contemporary women’s fiction. It’s definitely a read to pick up and a great debut from Helly Acton.

Thank you to Bonnier Books for the ALC.

THREE HOURS IN PARIS by Cara Black 🎧

In June of 1940, when Paris fell to the Nazis, Hitler spent a total of three hours in the City of Light—abruptly leaving, never to return. To this day, no one knows why.

The New York Times bestselling author of the Aimée Leduc investigations reimagines history in her masterful, pulse-pounding spy thriller, Three Hours in Paris.

Kate Rees, a young American markswoman, has been recruited by British intelligence to drop into Paris with a dangerous assignment: assassinate the Führer. Wrecked by grief after a Luftwaffe bombing killed her husband and infant daughter, she is armed with a rifle, a vendetta, and a fierce resolve. But other than rushed and rudimentary instruction, she has no formal spy training. Thrust into the red-hot center of the war, a country girl from rural Oregon finds herself holding the fate of the world in her hands. When Kate misses her mark and the plan unravels, Kate is on the run for her life—all the time wrestling with the suspicion that the whole operation was a set-up.

Cara Black, doyenne of the Parisian crime novel, is at her best as she brings Occupation-era France to vivid life in this gripping story about one young woman with the temerity—and drive—to take on Hitler himself.


Title : Three Hours in Paris
Author : Cara Black
Narrator : Elizabeth Rodgers
Format : Audiobook
Length : 10 hours, 21 minutes
Genre : Historical Thriller
Publisher : Recorded Books
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

This was a strong character-driven historical read set in WW2 France and Britain. Told from the POV of Kate, an American living on the Orkneys where she lived with her late husband, this was a tense and fast-paced suspense. Kate was recruited because of her marksmanship with a rifle and found herself on a high profile job.

What entailed was a story all about her survival in Paris during German occupation. She ricocheted from one situation to and her, not knowing who to trust. Kate was a woman in the full depths of grief over a significant loss and yet she was navigating this high stress situation. The story gave me Charlotte Gray vibes. It was a gripping listen and totally enjoyable.

The narration by Elisabeth Rodgers encapsulated Kate, her journey and her desperate circumstances so well. She transported me to the era and the story completed.

Thank you to LibroFM and Recorded Books for this ALC.

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo 🎧

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.


Title : With Fire On High
Author/Narrator : Elizabeth Acevedo
Format : Audio ARC
Length : 7 hours 26 mins
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : September 19, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH was the kind of contemporary YA to get swept up in very quickly. I always find that I love food-centric fiction and the protagonist Emoni, was a born-chef. She had talent but she also had a natural magic with food that made those who sampled her food feel when eating.

This was a story that depicted a tough but also blessed life of this teen, mom to a toddler, living with her grandmother and trying to successfully finish school. There was hardship but there was gratitude for the good things in her life. I appreciated that this wasn’t an overly dramatic story but still, it was gritty and real.

Emoni was not looking for a new friend but Malachi the latest student transfer into her school wanted her friendship. Malachi was the kind of young man out to prove that not every guy was a jerk. He was such a cute character but again, he was real.

The narration was rich with wonderful tonation and Elizabeth Acevado narrated her own story with heart. I would love to hear her narrate again. From a writing perspective, I enjoyed the short chapter approach and the timeline of story.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for the audio review copy.

DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor 🎧

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living – one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel – a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.


Title : Days of Blood and Starlight
Author : Laini Taylor
Narrator : Khristine Hvam
Series : Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2
Format : Audio
Length : 16 hours
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : November 8, 2012

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This is going to be a shorter review than normal because I’ve been ill and I’m writing this much later than I normally would. However, it means I’ve had time to reflect and really think about this instalment.

This was a book steeped in sadness and regret. The way that DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE ended was a blow and so I picked up the next book desperate to know things but also feeling Karou’s sadness as my own. I felt her grief both from the loss of loved ones but also the betrayal and rift between her and Akiva.

Most of this book was told from the separate sides of Karou and Akiva, I missed them together BUT there were bright spots. Karou got to know and live in her heritage and I loved finding out about all of that. Zuzana and Mik were the brightest spots and their place in this story was everything to me. Ziri was a newer character and he really grew on me.

There are a few bad guys in this series but the one that had my focus was Thiago, I hated him. He was vile and never had me fooled but equally he was a great character to hate and fear. Ten, his sidekick was something of a tool too. What a pair.

There was a fair bit of world building in this book as new layers were added mostly in form of life in Eretz. It wasn’t too complicated and brought a richness to the story. The narration continued in excellence from Khristine Hvam.

I can feel it in my bones that this series is going to be beloved by me and I’m straight into book three.

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor 🎧

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?


Title : Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author : Laini Taylor
Series : Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Format : Audiobook
Narrator : Khristine Hvam
Time : 12 hours 32 minutes
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Audible Studios
Release Date : September 29, 2011

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4-4.5 star review

Starting this much-loved series that has been on my tbr forever was my main reading aim for the beginning of the year. You do know that Hollis and I are of the ‘no-blurbers’ club, don’t you? What this means is that we read a synopsis when we first put something on our tbr, then we don’t go back to it before we read it. What this also means is that you fall foul sometimes of not knowing what a book is about and for DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE this was nearly a derailment. I will explain…

I do not like angel stories, I avoid them at all costs. There’s only one thing worse than this and that’s angel and demon stories. An hour into this listen and it was beginning to become apparent that there were creatures and then there were angels. Fast forward to a hilarous ‘there there, Micky’ convo of encouragement from Hollis and what I found was that this wasn’t a Christian depiction of those beings but otherworldy, yet set in our world. I was able to get into this aspect.

I loved lots about this book but primarily, I loved Karou. She was a character of quirks and giftings that was fascinating. She was also a character full of heart and passion and that was catching. There was an amazing friendship between her and Zuzana that was funny, loyal and heartbreaking too. I was unsure about Brimstone, he creeped me out whilst I found him endearing in moments.

Akiva was a late entry to the proceedings, certainly in the background for much of the first half of the book but when he came face to face with Karou, oh boy, I just sat back and listened. There was something deep and mesmerising when these two were together and they convinced me of their pull pretty quickly. They made me think of Romeo and Juliet, in fact their whole tale did. When all was said and done, the story of Madrigle gave that perspective that slotted everything into place, but it was not a comfortable tale within a tale.

The narration was exceptional for this book. Khristine Hvam narrates with emotion and a wide range of impressive accents. She helped me truly sink into the story.

So, am I fan? Yes I am. Can I deal with these angels and creatures? In this situation, yes I can. There’s maybe a lesson to be learnt for me not to toss certain tropes and contexts out of hand immediately. The proof of this story is really in the fact that I’ve already started book two, mere hours after finishing book one. Thank you to everyone who’s ever recommended this book to me over the years, I got there in the end.

THUNDERHEAD by Neal Shusterman 🎧

The Thunderhead cannot interfere in the affairs of the Scythedom. All it can do is observe—it does not like what it sees.

A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent.

As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the “new order.” But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change.

Will the Thunderhead intervene?

Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?


Title : Thunderhead
Author : Neal Shusterman
Narrator : Greg Tremblay
Series : Arc of a Scythe
Format : Audiobook
Page Count : 13 hours, 2 minutes
Genre : YA Dystopian
Publisher : Audible Studios
Release Date : January 9, 2018

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

I am blown away (again by this series and how it ended). This was the kind of second book that we don’t see as readers very often, the kind of book that exceeds the first book in expectation and enjoyment. THUNDERHEAD took all of my preconceptions from book one and set a bomb in the middle of them, leaving me jaw-dropped to the floor.

THUNDERHEAD itself had much more characterisation in this book and I loved every reveal, every moment of narration from the Thunderhead. I learnt so much more about the workings, ethics and even affection that the Thunderhead had and used to operationalise the world in this age. The scythes, however were an unhinged s**t show. Oh how they unraveled in this story and how I loved reading it all. The usual suspects were there, Scythe Curie, Scythe Anastasia (Citra) and Scythe Lucifer (Rowan). But oh my word, there were some scythe surprises too. I was shook.

This installment introduced the concept of unsavouries which was an interesting depth to this age and Grayson’s character made for interesting reading. We also learnt a bit more about the tonists too.

So who stole the show in this book? Two characters, firstly the THUNDERHEAD themselves and then Scythe Anastasia. I am now left in total suspense for what will happen in the final installment of this excellent series.

If my body is the Earth, then I am nothing more than a spec of dust in the vastness of space. I wonder what it would be like, then, if my consciousness were to someday span the distance between the stars. – THE THUNDERHEAD

The narration was excellent. One narrator, multiple POVS conveyed very well with tonation and mood. If you’ve not started Arc of a Scythe, then what have you been doing with your life?

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B.A. Paris 🎧

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie? 


Title : Behind Closed Doors
Author : BA Paris
Format : Audio
Length : 8 hours, 46 minutes
Genre : Domestic Thriller
Publisher : Macmillan Audio
Release Date : August 9, 2016

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 -4 star review

I don’t read many thrillers these days when once, thrillers were the only thing on my book menu! Anyway, I was in the middle of a book slump and fancied something totally different. Plus, I’m all about reading the backlog. This domestic thriller was told in past and present with a slowly unfurling and creepy story.

The focus of this story was Grace and her meeting, relationship and marriage to Jack. Grace had a sister with Down’s Syndrome and this meant a vulnerability from an exploitation perspective. Jack was the ‘perfect’ man but insidious psychopath; no one on the exterior would guess the depravity to his needs or behaviours. What was interesting to me was the lack of a physical element to the behaviours and therefore the author excelled at being able to convey the cruelty of mental and emotional torture.

It took time to build up to the true picture of what was going on behind the doors of the perfect house and perfect couple. The sceptical part of me remains amazed at any women who will give up their job and own identity for the love of any man. On the one hand, I felt Grace was a bit of a sap before the abuse but once that was in play, she was clearly purely a victim. There were times in this story that leaned towards the incredulous but the author seemed able to pull this back before it became too extreme.

I was surprised where the eventual plot of this book went, having felt a predictability at times, so colour me surprised at the twists. The audio kept me wrapped up in the story and I always wanted to get back to it on my commute and made excuses to myself to finish the audio. The narration was generally good. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and I will defintely read more by BA Paris.

ONE YEAR HOME by Marie Force 🎧

He came home a hero and lost the only woman he’s ever loved…

John
I have no idea how to survive without my beloved Ava. She had no choice but to move on with her life during my six-year deployment and has now married Eric. I hate him for taking her from me. I’d prefer to wallow in my depression and heartbreak, but the whole damned world wants a piece of the SEAL Team leader who helped capture the world’s most-wanted terrorist. I need help handling the relentless requests, and when Ava sends her new sister-in-law to manage the media circus for me, I’m prepared to hate her on principle. Her brother took my Ava. What else do I need to know about her?

Julianne
It takes five seconds to realize Ava’s ex is going to be the most complicated and difficult client I’ve ever had, but the opportunity to represent the most celebrated man in the world could make my career. I’m determined to do the job, even if I dislike John from the moment I meet him. And I like everyone. So much so that my brothers worry about me being exploited by those who would take advantage of my unwavering love for others. But John… He’s in a class by himself, and his bitterness is a festering wound that I begin to wish I could somehow fix for him. The more time we spend together, the more our mutual disdain morphs into something that feels an awful lot like desire. There’s no way I can want this man, or so I tell myself, and when Eric finds out I’ve developed feelings for the man causing trouble in his new marriage, well…
That’s going to be a hot mess.


Title : One Year Home
Author : Marie Force
Series : Navy Captain John West #2
Format : Audio
Length : 8 hours, 37 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : HTJB, Inc
Release Date : August 20, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

If you were left after FIVE YEARS GONE (book one) satisfied like me, you might question the need for a second book. Ten minutes into this listen, I realised that this was the sequel I didn’t know I needed and I could quickly see I was in for an emotive and angsty ride.

I knew this story was going to centre on John, broken, battered and bruised both outwardly and psychologically. This reluctant hero, thrown into fame and fortune he didn’t want or seek, made for compelling reading. After FIVE YEARS GONE, I felt sorry for John but I still wasn’t his biggest fan, I wanted Ava with Eric so…yeah. Coming at this story from John’s POV meant everything from an altered perception and I became his cheer team.

John’s story included accurate and compelling narrative about recovery from amputation to shrapnel, PTSD and sepsis. I challenge anyone not to be pulled into the journey. Yet, most compelling was John’s mangled heart and broken soul. The story of John connecting to Julianne was fast but not too fast, and I devoured the story.

So you think you know where this review is going? Colour me surprised when this isn’t just John’s story but it was very much back to Ava and Eric. I didn’t know how I felt about that and what was happening with this very new HEA; it was a rollercoaster. I was just glad we had four fantastic narrators along to present the ride to the listener.

This duology has been one of my favourite and most memorable military romances. I don’t often seek out this kind of story but Navy Captain John West series is one you should read if you’re a fan of this sub-genre or if you’ve never tried it before. This duology has made a Marie Force fan of me and I am eager to try my hand at her other kinds of romances and in 2020, I will.

STILL by Kennedy Ryan 🎧

I’ll be there.
Through thick and thin.
Ride or die.
You can count on me.

The promises people make.
The vows we take.
Assumptions of the heart.
Emotion tells us how we feel, but life…life has a way of plunging us in boiling water, burning away our illusions, testing our faith, trying our convictions.
Love floating is a butterfly, but love tested is an anchor.

For Grip and Bristol,
Love started at the top of the world
On a Ferris wheel under the stars
But when that love is tested, will they fly or fall?


Title : Still
Author : Kennedy Ryan
Narrators : Jakobi Diem, Maxine Mitchell
Series : Grip #2
Format : Audiobook
Length : 13 hours, 12 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Tantor Audio
Release Date : September 18, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

What a boom! of a completion to this series, which I think is my personal Kennedy favourite so far. My love for this series stems from the decency that is Grip. He’s no saint but he’s good guy born and bred. My second love of this series is the flawedness and loyal Bristol. She has been a growth of love on my part and growth in character on Kennedy Ryan’s part.

The strength of this tale, this instalment, lies in the timeline. There is no rushing, it jumps and then it focuses in on hours and days and I cannot tell you how well that worked for me. Taking this approach just enhanced my connection to these characters and their lives, I felt like family.

There were some difficult storylines but when things were basically peachy at 70%, I smelled a rat and knew that I was about to take a dive off a cliff with these two. What I didn’t expect until I saw it coming, was that this would go into my work -life expertise. I cringe and worry when a story delves into writing these topics because I’ve seen it butchered. Yet, I remain conflicted because I want to see these topics make the cut in books. Kennedy Ryan narrated this emotive topic with sensitivity, research and excellence. There was some medical detail that was spot on but on the whole, she concentrated on the emotional narrative that had this person with a PhD in the subject with waterfalls down her face. You rocked this, Kennedy and I am beyond impressed.

I waited to experience this book by audio, having loved Grip this way. The narration brought this story and the emotions to life. These narrators epitomised Grip and Bristol.

Fiction is just that but excellent fiction takes reality and carves a life story. Kennedy Ryan wowed me from the first to the last page and I love that I was able to get this series signed in London recently. Read this series and feel from your heart to your soul, I did.