A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.
Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.
One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.
Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.
Title : Mooncakes Author : Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu (artist) Format : eARC Page Count : 256 Genre : YA LGBTQ+ fantasy graphic novel Publisher : Lion Forge Release Date : October 15, 2019
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★ ★
Hollis’ 3 star review
This graphic novel about witches, werewolves, and magic, is adorable, queer, and inclusive. There is a ton of every day representation mixed in amongst the magical, the bittersweet, and the fantastical. But I think where this would’ve been a bigger success for me is if more time had been spent in the set-up.
The reunion between these two main characters is very unexpected and things between them seem sped up while the reader is left trying to catch up to the why and how the all the backstory. We do get some of that after the fact, in the wrap up of the story, but I would’ve preferred some of it upfront instead of how it was done.
I also found myself a little lost in some of the nuance of the magic, the culture, and how it all worked. But maybe I’m just spoiled by longer fantasy epics like SAGA where the world building has time to, well, build.
This is definitely cute and diverse but I’m not sure it’ll be wholly memorable in a month’s time.
** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.
She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.
Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…
Title : Postscript Author : Cecelia Ahern Series : PS I Love You #2 Format : eARC Page Count : 368 Genre : Women’s Fiction Publisher : Harper Collins Release Date : September 19, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 4 star review
POSTSCRIPT was the sequel I never thought I needed. Let’s face it, PS I Love You finished in a good place and so it has existed for over a decade. I was worried that book two would sully the good memories I have of book one, I was worried it would disappoint, it did none of these things.
Holly was seven years down the line from Gerry’s death, living her life, happy, in a relationship and officially in a different phase of her life from when she recceived the original letters. I wondered where Cecelia Ahern would take us, without harping back to the experiences of the first book too much but Gerry’s letters were used for good, to empower others.
What I liked about Holly in this book was that she was still a bit of a hot mess. She didn’t have it all together, even after all this time, showing this was just a personality trait. What I also loved reading about was Holly’s grief for Gerry and the life she lost. The grief that shone through was dulled down but with occasional acuteness and this seemed real.
The quest that Holly went on alongside others in her PS I Love You club was a journey. I had my reservations about it just like her boyfriend, friends and family but I was won around by those characters of Bert, Genika and Jewel especially. I made it to 88% rather smugly thinking that ‘I’ve not cried, I wont now’… and then proceeded to sob twice before the end.
…ultimately, it’s all anyone wants. Not to get lost, or left behind, not to be forgotten, to always be a part of the moments they know they’ll miss. To leave their stamp. To be remembered.
Cecelia Ahern wrote about the journey towards death and the grief that ensues with sensitivity and tangibility. She also wrote it in an uplifting style. She connected me to the characters and narratives with skill and affection. I am so glad that this second instalment came along and made it seem as though no years had passed since the last book.
Thank you Harper Collins for the early review copy.
The streets of Creije are for the deadly and the dreamers, and four crooks in particular know just how much magic they need up their sleeve to survive.
Tavia, a busker ready to pack up her dark-magic wares and turn her back on Creije for good. She’ll do anything to put her crimes behind her.
Wesley, the closest thing Creije has to a gangster. After growing up on streets hungry enough to swallow the weak whole, he won’t stop until he has brought the entire realm to kneel before him.
Karam, a warrior who spends her days watching over the city’s worst criminals and her nights in the fighting rings, making a deadly name for herself.
And Saxony, a resistance fighter hiding from the very people who destroyed her family, and willing to do whatever it takes to get her revenge.
Everything in their lives is going to plan, until Tavia makes a crucial mistake: she delivers a vial of dark magic—a weapon she didn’t know she had—to someone she cares about, sparking the greatest conflict in decades. Now these four magical outsiders must come together to save their home and the world, before it’s too late. But with enemies at all sides, they can trust nobody. Least of all each other.
Title : Into the Crooked Place Author : Alexandra Christo Series : Into the Crooked Place (book one) Format : eARC / ARC Page Count : 380 Genre : YA fantasy Publisher : Feiwel & Friends/Hot Key Books Release Date : October 8, 2019
Reviewer : Hollis / Micky Rating : ★ ★ / DNF
Hollis’ 2 star review
Here’s a big reason why I think the current GR rating is what it is (which, as of the writing of this review, is 3.73) : it very much feels, and reads, like another book. Which, as my buddy said, doesn’t mean a certain author holds the copyright to heist ensemble gangster anti-hero/amoral stories. It’s just.. like, wow, a little effort to be different, when so much of today’s culture is comparisons, would’ve been nice?
But here’s where I get a little less snarky. After bemoaning the comparisons, and the utter boredom, for almost 50%.. this book did shift gears. A little. I won’t say I liked it after the first half but while I predicted a lot of what was coming.. some things I didn’t. I felt good about the ending — particularly the last 20% — which, I mean, I guess didn’t take much considering how not-good I was feeling about the book in general, so that’s definitely a low-ish bar. Also, the shift in plot doesn’t quite take away from how much this book is like other things. I’m talking vibe, tone, names.. yeah, it’s a lot.
But. Again, I say, but.
I might pick up book two (thank goodness it’s not a trilogy). Hell, I probably will. I’m a bit of a masochist but I did feel this ended on a good — well, no, not good, but you get what I mean — note. Also there is a lot of diversity in this story, which is one of the few uncomplicated things to celebrate.
So, yes, this is kind of a hash, for a book I wanted to DNF and yet now find myself intending to read even more of now that I’ve finished it, and yet here we are.
** I received a ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Micky sadly DNF’d at 30% – unrated
I’m sorry to say that this was a full day’s struggle of picking it up and putting it down repeatedly because I did not like this world that felt pretty familiar and I did not buy into the characters or story. I found the names of people and phrasing too similar to the Grisha world to discount and it was told without the finesse of that one.
I strongly believe there is no copyright on this kind of story (heisty-gangster fantasy) because the whole book world is built on a jenga pyramid of similar stories. That said, its hugely important to find your slice of uniqueness and according to my bud Hollis, that issue settled a bit from half way in. I didn’t get that far because I just didn’t engage with the story and I was consistently bored.
I feel disappointed in myself on the one hand because I loved Christo’s previous book but I think this review would look a whole lot worse if I had.
Thank you to Hot Key books for the review copy and I’m sorry I couldn’t see this through to the end. Gratitude for the chance to read early.
Girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.
Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for their chance to grab one of the girls in order to make their fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.
With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.
Title : The Grace Year Author : Kim Liggett Format : eARC / ARC Page Count : 416 Genre : Dystopian/Fantasy Publisher : Wednesday Books Release Date : October 8, 2019
Reviewer : Micky / Hollis Rating : ★ ★ / ★ .5
Micky’s 2 star review
Two little black sheep, all in a row, baa baa, this didn’t work us.
I got on board with THE GRACE YEAR for the first 15-20%, I was intrigued with village life, the dystopia and the female oppression themes. I also wanted to know what the heck this grace year was, oh so mysteriously referred to as it was.
I stick by my early status on Goodreads from that point where I said ‘hello, Lady of the Flies’. THE GRACE YEAR was just that, a descent into craziness, madness and destruction. I found it incredibly discomforting to read, which is not to say that discomfort is unwelcome, I enjoy that in a well written book. However, this was an unpleasant experience with a storyline that was unwieldy and didn’t hang together.
Things that I could not buy into included Tierney, the protagonist as she reached the heights of grand integrity whilst all around her crumbled. Ryker and Tierney…just no. What even was that, Stockholm syndrome? Michael after the grace year felt totally out of character and too convenient. I did like Kiersten’s character for the general evil and nastiness. You can see that I wasn’t enamoured by a lot.
The plot line felt to be general chaos, disconnection and what the hell moments, but not in a good way. There were a bunch of disconnected parts, with a narrative that did not coherently mesh together. I did not highlight a thing in this book as the writing did not jump out at me. I felt like I just had to power through to the end and I did.
I realise that many have enjoyed this book already and I would say maybe it is just me but I do think the writing, characters and story development are weak. I will stand by that.
Thank you to St Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books for the early review copy.
Hollis’ 1.5 star review
So this wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. This is more LORD OF THE FLIES than THE HANDMAID’S TALE, though there’s definitely shades of the latter, and the main problem is I didn’t like LORD OF THE FLIES. And neither did I like the all-female version of it, either.
There’s also a weird sorta-THE HUNGER GAMES element that I couldn’t unsee, once I kind of picked up on it, but maybe that’s because I just wanted to see some good in this. Something that didn’t feel like a strange altered-state fever dream of random and nothing and awful.
So much of this world, this societal structure, feels.. not fleshed out or vague for the sake of suspense and uncertainty. At least up until a certain point. And afterwards, it’s just, like.. that’s it? That’s all we get?
The backbone of the story, the theme or message that we earn by making it through the hazy plot, which you don’t see until almost the very end, is worth celebrating. There are elements that feel important, because they are, but they are mired in.. everything else. Honestly, I’m just baffled. I’m disappointed. And I’m not sorry to say there was some skimming because this wasn’t exactly how I wanted my Friday night of reading to go : both bored and confused. But at this point, I’m definitely an outlier, because so many people are buzzing about this (heck, we were buzzing about this in our anticipated list!), so, this might be worth picking up if only to give it a try.
** I received a ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
What I learned after last year’s distractions cost my hockey team our entire season? No more screwing up. No more screwing, period. As the new team captain, I need a new philosophy: hockey and school now, women later. Which means that I, Hunter Davenport, am officially going celibate…no matter how hard that makes things.
But there’s nothing in the rulebook that says I can’t be friendswith a woman. And I won’t lie—my new classmate Demi Davis is one cool chick. Her smart mouth is hot as hell, and so is the rest of her, but the fact that she’s got a boyfriend eliminates the temptation to touch her.
Except three months into our friendship, Demi is single and looking for a rebound.
And she’s making a play for me.
Avoiding her is impossible. We’re paired up on a yearlong school project, but I’m confident I can resist her. We’d never work, anyway. Our backgrounds are too different, our goals aren’t aligned, and her parents hate my guts.
Hooking up is a very bad idea. Now I just have to convince my body—and my heart.
Title : The Play Author : Elle Kennedy Series : Briar U (book three) Format : eRC Page Count : 422 Genre : NA contemporary romance Publisher : Elle Kennedy Inc. Release Date : October 7, 2019
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★
Hollis’ 2 star review
Okay, it’s official. I’m tapping out of this series. I’ve clearly outgrown it or maybe it’s just the genre itself. I don’t know. I love hockey romances, enjoy ensemble casts that lean heavily on hijinks as the comic relief, but while I did recently reread (and love, again) the series that spawned this one, nothing since THE CHASE has worked. So I guess that was the fluke.
This is everything that you would expect it to be, both as a fan and from what it says on the box. It’s got a reformed playboy who meets a girl he has to remain platonic with both because of her boyfriend and his vow of celibacy — a vow he’s taken in order to do right by his team, to succeed and lead sans distractions, and atone for his previous mistakes. But then the boyfriend goes buh-bye, girl wants a rebound, so, you see where this is going.
I didn’t love Hunter or Demi, but neither of them annoyed me the way Hollis and Rupi annoyed me in the background of THE RISK. Even though they were both present in this one. Again. Sigh.
The conflicts were fairly predictable, the speed bumps, too, and honestly everything was pretty standard. No surprises, no real joy, no real laughs, either. Definitely sucks to have to tap out but it’s not worth reading on when it’s doing both the author and me as both a reader and longtime fan a disservice.
So, yes, I think this will satisfy and entertain many. But just like in book two, I’m not one of them. In which case, please take this feedback with the tiniest grain of salt. As always.
** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
The Larkin family isn’t just lucky—they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer.
But wrecks seem to run in the family: Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.
Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family’s missing piece-the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century.
She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival.
Epic, funny, and sweepingly romantic, The Last True Poets of the Sea is an astonishing debut about the strength it takes to swim up from a wreck.
Title : The Last True Poets of the Sea Author : Julia Drake Format : eARC Page Count : 400 Genre : YA contemporary Publisher : Disney Hyperion Release Date : October 1, 2019
Reviewer : Hollis Rating: ★ ★ ★ .5
Hollis’ 3.5 star review
This is such a lovely, and rather hard-hitting, story (and from a debut no less!) that it feels a little strange to not rave about it and slap it with a high rating. But while there was so much good, so much of it moving, some of it also left me a little unmoved, too.
I became a bad sister and a bad daughter in an hour; an exile in just under two. By comparison, the Titanic sunk in two hours, forty minutes. Pretty impressive, to have sunk to the bottom even faster than the twentieth century’s greatest shipwreck.
Tackling issues of depression, anxiety, self-harm, grief, and self-destructive behaviour, the story takes place against the backdrop of a small seaside town in Maine, featuring the mystery of a shipwreck, a romance that bloomed after, and focusing on the ancestors of the sole survivor of that long-ago tragedy.
I didn’t think it was possible to be blindsided by a truth you’ve always suspected, but there you have it. As it turns out, it’s devastating.
The story is queer, and lyrical, and funny, with quirky weirdness and awkwardness and charm. All from the perspective of a tall girl — woo! It’s got a lot of things going for it and I really did love the writing, too. So while this one maybe, for whatever reason, didn’t quite hit the mark, I will totally be keeping an eye on this new author and definitely picking up her next book.
There wasn’t going to be magic healing; there’d be only a strong of ands on which we’d thread our survival.
This is definitely going to be a hit for a lot of people, I think. I just wish I could count myself among them.
** I received a ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
New York Times Bestselling author Samantha Young writing as S. Young.
Thea Quinn has no idea what she is. All she knows is that her abilities have been a plague upon her life since she was a child. After years of suffering at the hands of a megalomaniac, Thea escaped and has been on the run ever since.
The leadership and protection of his pack are of the utmost importance to Conall MacLennan, Alpha and Chief of Clan MacLennan, the last werewolf pack in Scotland. Which is why watching his sister slowly die of a lycanthropic disease is emotional torture. When Conall is approached by a businessman who offers a cure for his sister in exchange for the use of Conall’s rare tracking ability, Conall forges an unbreakable contract with him. He has to find and retrieve the key to the cure: dangerous murderer, Thea Quinn.
Thea’s attempts to evade the ruthless werewolf are not only thwarted by the Alpha, but by outside dangers. With no choice but to rely on one another for survival, truths are revealed, intensifying a passionate connection they both fight to resist. At war with themselves and each other, Conall and Thea’s journey to Scotland forces them to face a heartrending choice between love and betrayal.
War of Hearts is a standalone paranormal romance.
Title : War of Hearts Author : S. Young Series : True Immortals #1 Format : eARC Page Count : 447 Genre : Paranormal Romance Publisher : Indie Release Date : October 1, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
This was an interesting paranormal world created by Samantha Young that was overall something I could invest in for this book but also for a series ahead. It’s been a while since she’s written in this genre and since I’ve read her older fantasy/PNR but I guess it’s like riding a bike because it worked for me.
WAR OF HEARTS focuses on Thea, a human type of being from unknown descent and difficult to label. She was a loner and she’d been on the run for a long time. I really liked how her character, powers and abilities were constructed; she was exciting to read about. I felt like it took a bit of time to get to know her, but she was kind of mysterious so this fitted in with the story.
Conell was a shifter, a Scottish wolf and the alpha of his pack, sent to literally sniff Thea out. The story of Connell and Thea, in opposition to one another and grudgingly developing changes in perception, was superb to observe. I got very absorbed and involved. At the heart of this was a great romance and rode with the tide on this one.
The story straddled Europe and that element made for engaging reading. I struggled a bit initially to get on board with the fae element of the storyline and the narrative of the past. I did come to appreciate parts of that, however.
There’s so much to this story, needing world building and that was delivered. The characters were well developed and on top of enjoying this first story of the series, I think there’s lots of good reading to come with characters from this story merging into the next book.