THE GRAVITY OF US by Phil Stamper

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.


Title : The Gravity of Us
Author : Phil Stamper
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : LGBTQIA+ YA romance/contemporary
Publisher : Bloomsbury YA
Release Date : February 4, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

I wish I could say this was everything sweet and lovely and as interesting that I hoped it would be.. but it wasn’t.

This is a story about a space mission, social media, and first love. But the space mission never really felt real until near the end, there was so much streaming or reality tv that I felt like shaking my fist and yelling at kids to get off my non-existent lawn, and the first love was hella insta-love-y and took off at the speed of light.

Additionally this ARC was brutally formatted and the little chapter break sessions with the company running the reality tv show were unreadable. So if there was an added element that might’ve explained something.. I missed it. It was just not comprehensible and my brain bled trying to make sense of it.

That said, there is a dramatic element that results in a cool viral campaign to save NASA and I did like how that was done. It gave me the feelings of watching similar movements unfold on twitter and all the traction it gets and all the positive and, unfortunately rare, good things that happen as a result. But it was pretty late in the game to redeem the story on a whole, or even the characters — the one who spearheads the videos is the MC who is, almost in every other situation, a grade A knob.

But maybe this isn’t as bad as it seemed to me. Maybe some of my technical issues contributed to what should’ve been only minor disappointments. But I didn’t enjoy the writing or the characters and any of the good, the diversity and the mental health rep, it was all overshadowed by the unbelievable romance, the self-centered MC, and the boring everything else.

Sadly this debut didn’t wow me and I probably wouldn’t pick up anything by the author again. But I’m glad we’re getting more queer stories (particularly #ownvoices ones) and the effort was made to be inclusive, so, that is why I’ve rounded up just enough to not drop this into one-star territory.

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

BOOK OF ORLANDO by Laura Lascarso

Henri has a policy of not interfering with human affairs—he’s a courier of souls, no more, no less—until he happens upon a boy who reminds him there is goodness and light amidst the sorrow.

Orlando is in a vulnerable situation when Henri intercedes on his behalf and initiates the bond between them. Despite being punished in the past for similar transgressions, Henri finds himself getting more entangled in Orlando’s life over the years, doling out “justice” to those who mean to harm his beloved friend.

In time, Orlando ages into a beautiful young man with agency all his own, and he harbors desires only Henri can satisfy. But there are grave consequences for the mortal and divine when they consort with one another, and the gods will have their sacrifice.

The first of a trilogy, Book of Orlando is a work of adult, erotic fiction. It contains violence and moral ambiguity.


Title : Book of Orlando
Author : Laura Lascarso
Series : Mortal and the Divine (volume 1)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 358
Genre : paranormal / erotica
Publisher : indie
Release Date : February 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

I am not sure where to begin with this one.

I want to impress upon you how this isn’t quite like any other paranormal you’ve read; sure, you might be familiar with the usual angels and demons in your fantasy, but this is something new. Are you tired of the same old immortal bloodsuckers, sparkly or otherwise? Lascarso’s got you covered. Want all that and for it to be hot and.. well, scorching hot? Yep and yep.

I find writing this review impossible, and have written and deleted innumerable iterations of this, because I was trying to detail the story and give nothing away and that is just not happening. Everything feels like a spoiler, everything feels like I’m saying too much and ruining the surprise. And that’s the last thing I want to do.

So, suffice it to say that this book deals with trauma, agency, sexual discovery, consent, assault, and abuse, but is also sweet, tender, sexy as hell, and so much more. Orlando is the sassy sweet brat you never knew you wanted to read about, Henri is the epitome of a gentleman demon, and their connection, their love, is everything. The world around them, the magic and the immortals, the age old grievances and the blood, is fascinating, complex, and dark.

I need book two, like, now.

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

THE WORST BEST MAN by Mia Sosa

A wedding planner left at the altar. Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s managed to make other people’s dreams come true as a top-tier wedding coordinator in DC. After impressing an influential guest, she’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch… she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials. 

Tired of living in his older brother’s shadow, marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning—absolutely off-limits—ex-fiancée. And she loathes him. 

If they can survive the next few weeks and nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own. 

But even the best laid plans can go awry, and soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again…


Title : The Worst Best Man
Author : Mia Sosa
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : February 4, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ .5


Hollis’ 1.5 star review

On paper (hah), there’s nothing wrong with this story. It’s diverse, there’s communication, it’s sorta-enemies-to-lovers, or reluctant-rivals-y-to-lovers, whatever, there is friction, and there’s other good things. But I was bored pretty much from 8% right on through to the end. Suffice it to say, my Wheel of Fortune app got a lot of attention the last day or so.

But anyway.

Yes, points for diversity, points of tackling sensitive and relevant topics such as “acceptable” behaviours for people — specifically women — of colour. Except.. I didn’t feel anything. The playful almost-hate banter in the beginning? Odd or juvenile and sometimes both. The sudden attraction? Not a single zing. The touching warming-up-to-each-other moments? Yawn. The sexy times? They felt.. I don’t know, awkward. Too much talking. Too much.. something. I don’t know. The weird transitions? Weird.

Also, this is a weird criticism, and one I’m making again that I made in another review just recently, but this whole going hard to be socially savvy or relevant, by having all this dialogue around certain topics is.. I don’t know, overkill. I’m sure there’s a way to touch on all these hot button issues without making the reader feel like they are being condescended to, or preached at, but maybe some readers aren’t as dialed in or don’t mind? I don’t know what it is. And I doubt I’ll ever be able to articulate my feelings on this properly. But. It’s just a lot.

Anyway, this never really got better, but nor did it deep dive into anything terrible, and yet here we are. This was my first Sosa and while the concept appealed enough for me to request it, there was no feeling in the writing or the story. Or at least nothing that made me feel anything. So I doubt I’ll pick up this author again.

I think other readers will like this, particular those who enjoy Sosa’s writing. So don’t take my word for it. Try a sample and see how it goes.

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

IN RESTLESS DREAMS by Wren Handman

Sylvia is a normal girl with huge, normal problems–her mother’s attempted suicide; trying to make friends in a rich prep school where she doesn’t belong; whether or not to trust the cute boy with the dangerous eyes. She thinks that’s more than she can handle, but she tests the limits of her endurance when she learns that she is the long-awaited Phantasmer, a human who can change the fabric of Fairy simply by believing in a new story. Sylvia’s life is thrown off course as two warring Courts, the Seelie and Unseelie, both attempt to co-opt her gift to attack the other Court. All while she’s trying not to get kicked out of school for fighting. And it doesn’t help matters that the fairies begging for her help are both attractive young men–with their own agendas.


Title : In Restless Dreams
Author : Wren Handman
Series : The Phantasmer Cycle (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 293
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : The Parliament House
Release Date : January 28, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

If you read A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES and wanted the same magical discovery of Fae, not to mention the exploration of a fantasy world that abuts our own, but wanted content that actually stayed YA? This might just be the book for you — or the book you should buy for your teens and/or young people.

This book opens up with very traditional YA elements, like starting at a new highschool, navigating rocky social waters, and all that drama that ensues with both, then some not-so-traditional (and a might heavier) elements, like how to process your mother’s mental health issues and connecting with an absent father. And then, halfway through, tosses you into a whole new ocean; a purple one!

Sylvia isn’t perfect; she struggles like all sixteen year olds do, like all humans do, and that’s compounded by discovering she has a magical heritage that is dangerous and seems impossible, and meeting a boy (or two!) from that magical world — a boy (or two!) she isn’t sure she can trust. Because that dashing knight might not be the hero, and maybe that stranger made of shadows and darkness is as kind as his eyes; maybe they are trapped in archetypes that should mean one thing, but are in fact something else. Or maybe not. But aside from the romance, there’s also wonder and magic and Handman’s unique and brilliant way of describing.. well, magic and wonder and emotion.

The high point of this story, for me, is just experiencing said magic, the unusual, the very interesting take on a Chosen One trope (in every generation a Phantasmer is born.. or, in this case, every few centuries..) and, more than that, what this Chosen One can do and how they are woven into the very fabric of something so much bigger than them. And what it means to choose for others and what it means to make decisions with the best of intentions. Where she starts out, lashing out at bullies, arguing with her younger brother, is not quite where she ends up, burdened not only with power and responsibility, and coming out the other side intact. Mostly.

IN RESTLESS DREAMS will give you a new perspective on imagination, creativity, emotion, fear and loneliness, the burden of memory, and of the longing to change who you are. This is a solid series opener and I think it’s only going to get better from here.

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

HEADLINERS by Lucy Parker – double review!

Sparks fly when two feuding TV presenters are thrown together to host a live morning show in Lucy Parker’s latest enemies-to-lovers contemporary romance.

He might be the sexiest man in London, according to his fan site (which he definitely writes himself), but he’s also the most arrogant man she’s ever met.

She might have the longest legs he’s ever seen, but she also has the sharpest tongue.

For years, rival TV presenters Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have traded barbs on their respective shows. The public can’t get enough of their feud, but after Nick airs Sabrina’s family scandals to all of Britain, the gloves are off. They can barely be in the same room together—but these longtime enemies are about to become the unlikeliest of cohosts.

With their reputations on the rocks, Sabrina and Nick have one last chance to save their careers. If they can resurrect a sinking morning show, they’ll still have a future in television. But with ratings at an all-time low and a Christmas Eve deadline to win back the nation’s favor, the clock is ticking—and someone on their staff doesn’t want them to succeed.

Small mishaps on set start adding up, and Sabrina and Nick find themselves—quelle horreur—working together to hunt down the saboteur…and discovering they might have more in common than they thought. When a fiery encounter is caught on camera, the public is convinced that the reluctant cohosts are secretly lusting after one another.

The public might not be wrong.

Their chemistry has always been explosive, but with hate turning to love, the stakes are rising and everything is on the line. Neither is sure if they can trust these new feelings…or if they’ll still have a job in the New Year. 


Title : Headliners
Author : Lucy Parker
Series : London Celebrities (book five)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : CarinaPress
Release Date : January 20, 2020

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


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This will likely come as no surprise to readers who have experienced, and loved, Parker’s previous London Celebrities books but HEADLINERS just made me so happy. This book was like a warm, funny, sweet hug and it was everything I wanted it to be and everything I needed right now.

This was Nick Davenport. He was Nick. She kept silently repeating that as a sort of protective mantra. But it was starting to — it was starting to mean something different.

I’m a huge fan of Parker’s opposites attract stories, her grumpy heroes, her lovely heroines, but this particular match up was a real hate-to-love. Or maybe extremely dislike, not quite hate. In book four, Nick did something truly terrible that impacted Sabrina and her family. I couldn’t wait to see how their dynamic would shift into something a lot less murdery and a whole lot swoonier. And the author, and her characters, did not disappoint. Every little bit of common ground won was hard earned, every brush of the shoulders, every touch of the hand, every single interaction was.. palpable. It was such a great build-up and I loved every second of it.

Nick’s no longer the one dimensional comic-book foe, then?
No. It’s very upsetting.”

Not only did this match-up work for me, but individually so did the characters. The cherry ontop of this sundae was also seeing almost all of the familiar faces from the previous books and, with this particular story set around the holidays, it really reinforced that feeling of warmth and loveliness that I almost always get from the author’s writing.

If you’ve loved prior books in this series, I have no doubt you’ll love this one, too.

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

Micky’s 4 star review

How damn adorable is that cover? It gave me vibes before I started the book, but it gives me serious heart eyes on finishing. HEADLINERS took me a little while to get into, but once I did (about 20%), I was hook, line and sinker for this story and these characters.

This interconnected standalone in the London Celebrities series was a enemies to more trope but I want to impress that this gave so much more than that phrasing suggests. There was a longish standing dislike between Nick and Sabrina but events in the previous book led to an all-out hatred between these two that was not comedic at all, it was real. This was no fakey-hate. No, I believed their lines in the sand when they were thrust together to present a new show.

All that said, there was total tangibility in Lucy Parker’s ability to move this pair from presenting couple to real-life couple. As co-presenters, they spent a lot of time together having to seem to be on the same team. It was amusing, almost slapstick at times and I loved reading about them. What I loved even more was the trickle of real connection and feelings that evolved. The chemistry went from non-existent, to subtle to sizzle and I was glued to my kindle.

She was beautiful – she was fucking gorgeous, but he couldn’t even objectively see her physical features anymore. He just saw her, which was something that only happened with the people he cared about the most.

There was a bit of banter, some fun dialogue but generally, I think this might have been a tad more serious than some of Lucy Parker’s others in the series. I didn’t enjoy it any the less for this fact. Not all couples are super funny, some are just who they are and these two captured your attention and kept it.

This was another fabulous read in one of the most consistently good contemporary romance series I’ve enjoyed in years. You can’t go wrong with a bit of Lucy Parker.

Thank you to Carina Press and Netgalley for this early review copy.

INFINITY SON by Adam Silvera – double review!

Balancing epic and intensely personal stakes, bestselling author Adam Silvera’s Infinity Son is a gritty, fast-paced adventure about two brothers caught up in a magical war generations in the making.

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.


Title : Infinity Son
Author : Adam Silvera
Series : Infinity Cycle (book one)
Format : ARC/eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : HarperTeen/Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date : January 14, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★/DNF


Hollis’ 1 star review

Here’s the thing. I didn’t really want to be here, posting a review for a much hyped book that I clearly didn’t like, but up until the 60% mark I was at least hoping to have one or two good things to say to warrant a two star “hey man, you tried, good on you” rating.

But no. I can’t round up on this.

A combination of mostly annoying (oh god I wanted Brighton to go DIAF times infinity) and or doing-nothing-for-me characters, so little world building that I honestly only understood maybe like 15% of the structure of this universe (and literally, after everything, still don’t know the difference between some of the classification/terms), and the weirdest prophecy or, like, Three Step Apocalypse plan ever? I just can’t. 

I pushed on just to finish this because I was sorta hoping there’d be something worth looking forward to in book two and, again, because for the most part it was mostly meh with just a little frustrating.. until we got near the end and it became mostly frustrating, with lots of meh, and two handfuls of added what-the-fuck-ery.

We flip from action scene to action scene and half the time these kids are bouncing back like they just didn’t get their asses handed to them, while spouting the weirdest cheesey action drama dialogue, and.. yeah, I can’t. Sorry. I don’t even want to be writing this review anymore.

There’s lots of rep in here, which is great, and I’m glad Silvera was able to realize his dreams to write a fantasy with the representation that not only all books deserve but also where he can see himself, and others in, but. But. This just wasn’t a win for me in any way shape or form.

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


Micky’s DNF thoughts (can’t really call it a review)

I tried and tried and tried again but the world felt impossible without adequate world building and I could only stay confused for so long. The language for different beings was constantly thrown around without explanation. The writing style was what I can only describe as awkward. I didn’t once lose myself in the story but I was constantly jarred by the narrative style.

Excuse me while I weep as I wanted so much from this, having enjoyed Adam Silvera’s books previously.

LOVE HER OR LOSE HER by Tessa Bailey – double review!

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.


Title : Love Her or Lose Her
Author : Tessa Bailey
Series : Hot & Hammered (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : January 14, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

After reading FIX HER UP, I knew I wanted to read on in this series, even though the only thing that saved that first book for me was Georgie. Oh, and her friend group. I’ve had a rocky reading experience with Bailey, not going to lie. However, knowing book two would be about a pre-existing couple trying to save their marriage? I was hooked on the potential for angst but I did worry a bit as second chance romances aren’t always my jam.

But wow did this work.

This was such a slower burn for the sexytimes compared to book one, even stranger considering there’s not only a relationship but a marriage already existing, but it actually worked so damn well. I think this choice actually is what saved this book. Honestly, I can’t really think of anything I didn’t love?

Look, if you two assholes wouldn’t mind? I’d like to go knock some walls down.”
What you should have done is knocked your own walls down and let her in
Oh, for fucks sake. You’ve been in a relationship for one minute and you think you’re an expert?
Yes.”

The hero, Dom, was alpha-y but nowhere near the extremes we’ve seen. He was very deliberately the way he was and it was explained; he was a doer, not a shower, not a talker, and he’d learned to be that way. Sure, sometimes this got a bit repetitive but honestly it just reinforced how much this was the way he thought things should be. Despite the fact that it contributed to his marriage.. not failing but almost breaking.

Every day, going through the motions and being so angry at him. How could she not have realized she was doing the exact same thing?

As for Rosie, she was just wonderful. Honestly. She wasn’t without her own epiphanies about her relationship, as nor was she faultless in the breakdown of life as she knew it, and I loved that. These two loved each other so hard but along the way life happened, insecurities festered, and boom, there it is. The journey back felt so genuine, organic, and not without frustrations. It felt real.

“.. they’re designed to put impure thoughts in a man’s head.”
Any inanimate object puts impure thoughts in a man’s head. Box of cereal. Boner. Ice-cube tray. Boner.

As for the sexies, well. The build up was great, the climax of it all was hot, and actually my only complaint is that while “honey girl” was far from as offensive as “baby girl”, I still could’ve had less of it. But that’s a personal choice, I guess. Additionally, this book got me right in the feels more than once and I can’t even blame my period for it, so. It’s pretty much the whole package.

There’s a brilliant set up for the third (final?) book and I’m excited for it. This time it looks to be a younger and single dad trope matched up with something of a hate to love or opposites attract and heyyooo just call me weak but I want it.

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


Micky’s 4 star review

LOVE HER OR LOSE HER delivered on that bit more that I wanted from FIX HER UP but stayed in this small world of characters that I am beginning to get rather attached to. I was incredibly excited about Rosie and Dominic’s story because I love stories about married couples. This was a great example of a story with that trope.

The story started with an almighty crumble in Rosie and Dominic’s marriage. It was difficult to observe and my heart ached for them both. It was also an interesting context for marriage difficulties, a communication breakdown over time and I think that’s probably a common issue. It was written tangibly and with such heart and feeling.

The character growth in this story is full. It seemed like Dominic was the difficult party to the marriage demise but they both had some realisations, courtesty of their rather hilarious marriage therapist. The passion between these two was fiery and my kindle sometimes steamed of its own accord and passion was all these two were left with.

I loved the fun injected into this read that had such serious and heart breaking undertones. The balance between comedy and renovating this marriage was pretty perfect. It was mostly the side characters providing the comedy elements and I thoroughly enjoyed bits of Travis and Georgie from book one, but I am especially a fan of Bethany and I can’t wait for her book.

LOVE HER OR LOSE HER was a book with the feels, I didn’t cry until I read the last page and went gooey with happiness. I loved how involved I got with this couple and I especially loved not having ‘baby girl’ as the nickname in this one, I could live with ‘honey girl’ a little easier. This series is turning out to be a great one to invest in and I recommend the first two books.

Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for the early review copy.