THE GUY ON THE RIGHT by Kate Stewart

Strike One-My mother named me Theodore after her favorite chipmunk.

Not cool, Mom.

I‘ve spent most of my life answering to Teddy, because I couldn’t make Theo work. Except for here. College. The place where all bets are off, and I’ve managed to redeem myself. There’s only one problem, my new roommate, Troy, is football royalty and looks like he stepped off the set of an Abercrombie shoot.

Doesn’t matter, I cook a mean breakfast for his panty parade, and we get along well. And anyway, this year I got the girl. And she’s perfect.

That’s right. Theodore Houseman, former band geek, now marching band rock star has finally landed the girl of his dreams.

Everything is perfect.

That is, until Troy takes a good look at her.

I’m not going down without a fight. As a matter of fact, I’m not going down at all. As glorious as these days may be for my all-star roommate, Laney is my end game. 

I may not know much about play strategy, but I’ve been the good guy my whole life. I’ve been listening and I know exactly what women want. Framed in a picture standing next to me, Troy may seem like Mr. Perfect, but he’s underestimating the guy on the right.

Spoiler alert: In this story, the underdog is going to win.


Title : The Guy on the Right
Author : Kate Stewart
Series : The Underdogs (book one)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 364
Genre : NA/college romance
Publisher : KLS PRESS/indie
Release Date : July 25, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .25


Hollis’ 4.25 star review

So, funny story, I had never actually read the synopsis for this book, only inferred from the cover what it might be about, plus friend reviews and word of mouth, and I’m glad I didn’t glance over it before one-clicking and picking this up, because I don’t think the summary is accurate to the vibe of this book at all! My advice? Don’t read it, just read the book.

That said, I’m left feeling a little bowled over by this read. I had been hearing rave reviews from friends for ages but, like most good things, kept putting off actually reading it. But after a recent string of disappointing fantasy reads I though, well, I need to mix things up anyway, so..

I’m so glad I reached for this.

I’ve got mabs.”
Mabs?
Maybe abs?

This is a nice-guys-don’t-finish-last best-friends-to-lovers romance and it might be my new favourite friends to lovers story. I don’t read many of them, it’s just not the trope I lean into very much, but this one? Puuuuurrrrfection.

We shouldn’t fit, but we do, and our fit is nothing short of spectacular. There’s no wool in the world thick enough to make me blind to that.

The enduring hilarity and loveliness of this friendship, the epic tension and build to the shift in their relationship, the steamies.. everything was (chefs kiss). I expected the big blow up, and the why, and I never really love that anyway, and so I didn’t really love this one either, but the grovel, the make up, moment? Oh wow. Fabulous. Grand gestures don’t always land for me, but this one? It fit so beautifully.

Both characters are a little offbeat, a little unexpected, though neither come off as a manic pixie dreamgirl or the alternative loner that another author might have made them out to be, and the complexity of both characters is what makes them feel real, genuine, and like people you’d want to be friends with. It rounds out the story and makes the whole thing that much more memorable, too.

Also, that cover? So perfect with context.

If you want laughs, feels, swoons, and just a really great feel-good story (she says, with tears drying on her face)? You need this in your life.

ONE SALT SEA by Seanan McGuire

October “Toby” Daye is finally doing all right—and that inevitably means it’s time for things to take a turn for the worse. Someone has kidnapped the sons of the Duchess Dianda Lorden, regent of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist. To prevent a war between land and sea, Toby must not only find the missing boys, but also prove that the Queen of the Mists was not behind their abduction. She’ll need all her tricks and the help of her allies if she wants to make it through this in one piece.

Toby’s search will take her from the streets of San Francisco to the lands beneath the waves. But someone is determined to stop her—and whoever it is isn’t playing by Oberon’s Laws. As the battle grows more and more personal, one thing is chillingly clear. When Faerie goes to war, not everyone will walk away.


Title : One Salt Sea
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book five)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 368
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 6, 2011

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

What I find interesting about this installment is that while I was still mostly bored in the lead-up to the climax, I wasn’t annoyed about as many things as I usually am. Either I’m being innoculated to this world or it really wasn’t as frustrating as the books that came before or a bit of a break did a world of good. Also, what I was warned would annoy me.. didn’t. At least not much. Mostly because I was resigned to it but, also, all the spouting off of randomness and foreshadowing.. well, foreshadowed the end.

How’s that for vague?

It’s going to be harder and harder to review these books the further I go into this series, this being five of a current thirteen (twenty, fifty, who knows how many in the end). So, suffice it to say I wasn’t delighted by the romance because it wasn’t what I know to be endgame and therefore wasn’t my preference. However, that said, my choice of pairing is going to have a lot of explaining to do as there’s been some build-up that implies certain things and I have questions. But it seems I’m the only one who does because once again with all this new information and hinting floating around, October makes a token effort to look confused, complain about the vaguery, like one time, then move on. Also, again, I have to wonder at the attitudes of so many of the characters in this world. Pretty much everyone outside of the main circle sucks and even those within sometimes just.. choose poorly? Expect so much? It’s constantly confusing and annoying and exhausting.

All that to say it’s the same stuff I’ve been bitching about the entire time I’ve been reading these books.

I think I’m definitely getting a little fae’d out, this world is very one note, however that did get a bit of a mixup in this installment as we visited a different kind of fae scenery. But still. There’s definitely something to be said for a not-just-one-kind-of-paranormal in an urban fantasy series; particularly one of this length. 

I have a little more enthusiasm going into book six, doubly so as I’ve been told I might get me some feels, though overall I wouldn’t say I’m excited, but I do still have a bit of hope that I’ll come out the other side of all this loving these books. Maybe it’s just one hell of a slow burn. Maybe I’m just a stubborn delusional idiot. Only time will tell.

LATE ECLIPSES by Seanan McGuire

October “Toby” Daye, changeling knight in the service of Duke Sylvester Torquill, finds the delicate balance of her life shattered when she learns that an old friend is in dire trouble. Lily, Lady of the Tea Gardens, has been struck down by a mysterious, seemingly impossible illness, leaving her fiefdom undefended. Struggling to find a way to save Lily and her subjects, Toby must confront her own past as an enemy she thought was gone forever raises her head once more: Oleander de Merelands, one of the two people responsible for her fourteen-year exile.

Time is growing short and the stakes are getting higher, for the Queen of the Mists has her own agenda. With everything on the line, Toby will have to take the ultimate risk to save herself and the people she loves most—because if she can’t find the missing pieces of the puzzle in time, Toby will be forced to make the one choice she never thought she’d have to face again…


Title : Late Eclipses
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book four)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 400
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : March 1, 2011

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Welp, I’m sort’ve resigning myself to not loving this series at this point. This one failed to entertain, and in fact it just dialed up all my frustrations to eleven, but we also took a bit of turn in direction for some things. So while I am taking a break from this series, for the moment (and maybe to lessen some the strength and immediacy of some of my frustrations), I am at least somewhat curious about the next chapter, as it were.

I mentioned this in my review for book one, and also chatted about it with my buddies (sorrrrry), but the ‘blame October for literally everything’ was once again strong in this one. The strongest it’s ever been. And I just can’t with that. There is nothing worse than a one-note villain that makes no attempt to be sane, or rational, and when you get three or four of them in one book? I want to throw myself into traffic. 

I also have a bad feeling any inroads we were making on the ship of my choice RE the romance may just be about to take a wrong turn because of.. events. I’m not surprised, because we’re dragging this out apparently, but I imagine I’ll be less than happy with that.

So, yes, I don’t know. There are elements of this series that should be great but there’s just so much being kept hidden, and even when a character goes spouting off about new information, even if it’s vague, October just shrugs and lets the subject get changed. And considering the big reveals in this one? I want to smack her upside the head. She’s not made to be a smart heroine and I do not understand why. It makes it hard to root for her.

But I will read on. I just need a vacation from this world. 

AN ARTIFICIAL NIGHT by Seanan McGuire

Changeling knight in the court of the Duke of Shadowed Hills, October “Toby” Daye has survived numerous challenges that would destroy fae and mortal alike. Now Toby must take on a nightmarish new assignment. 

Someone is stealing both fae and mortal children—and all signs point to Blind Michael. When the young son of Toby’s closest friends is snatched from their Northern California home, Toby has no choice but to track the villains down, even when there are only three magical roads by which to reach Blind Michael’s realm—home of the legendary Wild Hunt—and no road may be taken more than once. If she cannot escape with all the children before the candle that guides and protects her burns away, Toby herself will fall prey to Blind Michael’s inescapable power.

And it doesn’t bode well for the success of her mission that her own personal Fetch, May Daye—the harbinger of Toby’s own death—has suddenly turned up on her doorstep…


Title : An Artificial Night
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book three)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 384
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 7, 2010

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

So, book three was better. Was it the kind of greatness I was promised and expected? No. But that’s okay.

This particular installment weaves in the story of Tam Lin and though I love that story, it didn’t make me love the book. The writing, unlike in book two, was much improved. We had a better flow for both the refresher moments and for slipping us into the story itself after the time that has passed since the previous installment. The pacing, everything, it was fine. I was just.. bored.

October is still not winning me over as an MC/heroine. Which is funny because there’s a very similar character named May who I liked a lot. There’s also a sea witch I adore. So the cast isn’t a total loss. And while we had a few glimmering moments between Toby and the character who make up the ship of my choice, even he wasn’t doing it for me in this book. 

Also, we’re really just leaning in hard to the months-for-names thing, huh? October, January, April, May.. and that’s just after three books.

I really want to love this series. Both because of previously mentioned (in other reviews) buddies who adore it and also because this should be everything I love, too. But I’m still waiting. I’m worried if I pause to read something else I won’t come back to this (like my read through of the bajillion JD Robb novels which.. what, did I stop after only two? whoops. we don’t know her) so I’ll likely be spending my weekend a’binge’ing even more. I hear something great awaits in book six. Let’s see if I can make it that far.

A LOCAL HABITATION by Seanan McGuire

October “Toby” Daye is a changeling, the daughter of Amandine of the fae and a mortal man. Like her mother, she is gifted in blood magic, able to read what has happened to a person through a mere taste of blood. Toby is the only changeling who has earned knighthood, and she re-earns that position every day, undertaking assignments for her liege, Sylvester, the Duke of the Shadowed Hills.

Now Sylvester has asked her to go to the County of Tamed Lightning—otherwise known as Fremont, CA—to make sure that all is well with his niece, Countess January O’Leary, whom he has not been able to contact. It seems like a simple enough assignment—but when dealing with the realm of Faerie nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Toby soon discovers that someone has begun murdering people close to January, whose domain is a buffer between Sylvester’s realm and a scheming rival duchy. If Toby can’t find the killer soon, she may well become the next victim.


Title : A Local Habitation
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book two)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 390
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : March 2, 2010

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ .5


Hollis’ 1.5 star review

S t r u g g l e b u s.

That’s what this whole read was. It’s a good thing I was warned in advance that this book would not be a favourite and would require some pushing through because oh boy was that accurate. So I’m paying it forward and passing along that warning.

Some of what I expressed as my main issue with book one was definitely present in book two. More romantic entanglements (because why not), more making things complicated with the existing ones (because why not), and combined with a mystery that I felt was just dragged out (because.. you get it), made worse by so much information being kept away from the MC and her investigative buddy (..), and compounded by an element I’m sure was supposed to be a surprise regarding a certain character, but wasn’t because duh it’s obvious and I’ve seen it before, just.. overall? Not a good time.

Don’t even get me started on the appearance of a certain line that is iconic for the Kate Daniels world showing up in this one. Multiple times. Sure, it’s not owned by IA, nor is it an unusual thing to say, but still. Grr arg. I was even trying not to compare anymore and then that happened. Not my fault.

October as an MC failed to impress me, I wasn’t loving the romance (as mentioned above and also because this didn’t further my ship), the mystery was annoying, and this is also the second book where October is being blamed for things that have nothing to do with her? This better not be a trend. One of the characters kidnapped in book one literaly blames October for it, even though she didn’t do the act, and was also disappeated for over a decade because she was trying to help, and in this one? Same thing. Suspicion, blame, distrust, like.. constantly. So annoying.

Also annoying? October tells everyone to pair up, no one should be alone, due to killer on the loose. Right after, everyone spends at least some time on their own; when confronted by the fact that they aren’t following orders, and they explain why, even though all the reasons are dumb, October accepts it. Then October is alone multiple times. Other people are alone. Again. She bitches them out. Then suddenly she’s alone again and only then realizes she’s a hypocrite. Eye twitch. And this was only one example of just some of the dumb ridiculous trudgery. 

Another being.. why was there so much crying? 

I’m no stranger to McGuire’s books, though obviously not this series, and I’m surprised how.. not great the writing is? Was this her first few books? I should look into that.

So, yes, not a favourite, though not surprised due to advance warning (even though, yes, surprised by just how much I disliked it), and holding out hope book three lives up to all the hype it was getting in my group chat. Thanks, again, buddies for the support. I really needed it for this book. If this had been book one, this would’ve been as far as I went. Probably, maybe. It would’ve been a “might pick this up again later..” aka never situation. But we shall push on.

ROSEMARY AND RUE by Seanan McGuire

October “Toby” Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas… 

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening’s killer. 


Title : Rosemary and Rue
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book one)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 346
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 1, 2009

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

A few friends have been waiting very patiently (hah!) for me to start this series and I turned down a reread to start a (as of the writing of this post) thirteen book series, with seventeen listed on GR plus a handful of novellas/shorts, to do so. That’s love right there. Particularly in this panslumpic times. Shoutout to Milana and Flavia for already enduring my commentary in the group chat after only one book.

As for the book itself, well, I liked it! It did fall into some familiar patterns, which is fine, but I did find myself comparing it to the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, which is much beloved by I, and I need to get my head to stop doing that. This was a solid opener into this fae urban mash-up and the way we are introduced to October is, well, kind of heartbreaking. Also very unique. A changeling, and low on the totem pole when it comes to fae hierarchy, she is trapped as a fish for over fourteen years, and emerges into a world she once knew but, even with the long lasting years of the fae, so many have moved on; including her very human child and fiancé. Talk about a hook!

The story evolves into a murder mystery, with betrayal, debts to cash in at a later date, tantalizing hints from potential allies.. and also some little insights into October’s background, insights she might be unaware of. Obviously with so many books already out, and more to come, I imagine not all will be revealed right away. And that’s totally cool.

My one real complaint about this is that it did seem to be leaning into the ‘everyone wants the MC’ shtick and while one avenue has very decidedly closed at the end of this book, thank god, there’s still a few more potentials lurking in the background. Well, one less, but still. Again, I imagine this will be dragged out to get the shippers into a frenzy (I have already committed to one direction and that was after, like, 20% of the first book, oy, I’m probably in for it..) but, sorry to bring this up again, I hope things go the way of the Kate Daniels series in the romantic department.

As I’m going to be deep diving into a binge, I hope to see more groundwork laid out for my (it’s way too early to be calling this, you utter idiot) endgame, and less nonsense with anyone else, but I’m also excited to see more from this world. And I can’t wait to finally get to the installment that turns this from a like into love. No pressure..

DOCILE by K.M. Szpara

There is no consent under capitalism 

Docile is a science fiction parable about love and sex, wealth and debt, abuse and power, a challenging tour de force that at turns seduces and startles.

To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents’ debts and buy your children’s future.

Elisha Wilder’s family has been ruined by debt, handed down to them from previous generations. His mother never recovered from the Dociline she took during her term as a Docile, so when Elisha decides to try and erase the family’s debt himself, he swears he will never take the drug that took his mother from him. Too bad his contract has been purchased by Alexander Bishop III, whose ultra-rich family is the brains (and money) behind Dociline and the entire Office of Debt Resolution. When Elisha refuses Dociline, Alex refuses to believe that his family’s crowning achievement could have any negative side effects—and is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect Docile without it.


Title : Docile
Author : K.M. Szpara
Format : eARC
Page Count : 496
Genre : science fiction / LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Tor.com
Release Date : March 3, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated


Hollis’ unrated review

Hello darkness, aka I don’t know what to rate what I read, my old friend..

So my biggest problem with this book had nothing to do with this book. I got stuck at 30% for almost two weeks after being beat-up by the flu and then I went into a slump. I felt no motivation to pick this back up (or anything else, really, though I felt honour bound to finish what I had started) because the beginning of this book is the most uncomfortable part.

In the beginning we are neck deep in watching Alex, our rich entitled ‘thinks he’s a do-gooder’ protagonist train our Docile protagonist, Elisha, into being the best little slave he can be — all so his family’s debt can be paid and they can be afforded a stipend so they can try not to incur any more debt. Yes, Elisha’s signed away all but his most basic rights, though some apparently still exist and yet everyone is shocked when they are called into play, but he exists inside a system where a drug was created so that you can be treated more or less like furniture. Worse than furniture, even. Anything can be done that does not do harm. That’s a.. broad range, particularly when you’re the Docile of a trillionaire and feel you are afforded the right to do anything.

But outside of the framework itself, and beyond the knee-jerk sympathy felt towards Elisha, I didn’t feel much for either of these characters. Elisha is in the unenviable position of having to sign over his life to clear his family’s debt, sure, and Alex is trying to do the best he can for his Docile who he has to actually consider a real person because he’s not on-meds, and the whole thing is just uncomfortable because until this moment, Alex never did. Consider them real people, I mean; not that anyone but the poor seem to, either, but still. The drug is his family’s legacy but, more than like, like all of the haves vs the have-nots, there’s just no consideration, no awareness, and this ends up being a thirty-year-delayed wake-up call for him — and, maybe, for society?

I’m not saying this isn’t supposed to be uncomfortable. It definitely is. And I suppose it’s no different than comparing District Twelve to District One in THE HUNGER GAMES but, like, add sex instead of violence? It was definitely good at spotlighting at decadence and depravity of this society’s culture in stark contrast to the fact that people are literally signing over years of their lives so that they, and future generations, can avoid prison or worse. But halfway through this took a sharp turn into a sorta conspiracy and then courtroom drama, all while one character is trying to recover from trauma and rediscover their agency, and it’s just a lot of things.

This was a story that I requested because I wanted to be shocked, made angry, even heartbroken, but I think I wanted to feel those emotions from the complexity of the story and less uneasy over the spoiled antics of the rich. But I think therein lies the problem. Even today, the rich are just so rich, while so many people have so much less, and it’s a tough pill to swallow to think that one day they might own people, too.

Ultimately, DOCILE seems to follow the standard (from what I know which, is, admittedly not much..) tropes of slavefic stories and I think if you go in knowing that, you’ll appreciate what Szpara does. I just wish there’d been more explored for how this had started, whether or not the rest of the world followed along (this deals primarily with only one State and while it’s mentioned vaguely that Maryland isn’t the only one, I have to wonder..) and.. I don’t know, I think I just wanted this to feel bigger than it did. But maybe I would’ve minded less if not for the slump? Which is why, well, there’s no rating.

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

KOGITSUNE by Xia Xia Lake

A coming of age story set in medieval Japan. A friendship between a young fox god and his human childhood friend is built on deception, but grows stronger and purer as it’s driven by common purpose. However, the vast differences of the worlds they live in can’t be ignored, as their relationship is frowned upon by both humans and spirits.

As Kogitsune’s feelings for his human friend turn from friendship to something deeper, he will learn that love can be all consuming and heartbreaking. 

‘Kogitsune’ is a retelling of the famous Noh theater play ‘Kokaji’, a story about a swordsmith who requests the help of the Inari god to build a sword for emperor Ichijo (980-1011).


Title : Kogitsune
Author : Xia Xia Lake
Series : Takamagahara Monogatari (book 1)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 62
Genre : LGBTQIA+ historical fiction/fantasy
Publisher : indie
Release Date : September 10, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3.5 (rounded up) star review

This is such a sweet, magical, little story of the birth, and early years, of a kitsune; a fox god. As he discovers the world around him, he also meets a human boy, and they develop a sweet friendship that, over time and after reuniting after a separation where they each grow into their own, becomes a romance.

Despite how short this story is, Lake nonetheless manages to perfectly set the scene, delving into Japanese folklore and myth, all through the eyes of a curious and adorable protagonist, who is both naive and wise and, like mortals, just as susceptible to heartbreak, remorse, and love.

This is the first in a series and I can’t wait to read on.

NEVER TELL by Lisa Gardner

A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun. 

D.D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman–Evie Carter–from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many. 

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim–a hostage–and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder. 

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?


Title : Never Tell
Author : Lisa Gardner
Series : Detective D.D. Warren (book ten)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 414
Genre : mystery/thriller
Publisher : Dutton
Release Date : February 19, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’ll be the first to admit that while it was Gardner, and her three cross-over series, that kicked off my renewed fascination with the thriller/mystery/detective genre back in 2016, the last few installments of this main series (correction, sorry, it’s been one book and one novella) just haven’t wowed me. For various reasons. But NEVER TELL? Hi hello, we’re back again.

This story slots in under the main Detective D.D. Warren series but, like most of Gardner’s books, there’s crossover. Recently, since book eight, the survivor of that story has become a supporting character as she transitioned into a vigilante slash confidential informant, aka CI, for DD. And she’s not the only familiar face.

I really couldn’t recommend this book to people who hadn’t read at least the last three, starting from FIND HER, but honestly this whole series is worth investing in. Are they all great? No. But there’s been such an evolution, including the books in the companion/spin-offs, and those are even relevant for a certain guest-star in this book, both in character and how some of the stories weave together, that even the stories that don’t rate as high still feel worth the effort (also, for some perspective, I’ve only rated one book below three stars and while that was the first book.. let’s just say the opening books were a different vibe). Basically what I’m saying is block out some reading time over the holidays, put the whole backlist on hold at your local library, and get ready to rock and roll. And by rock and roll I mean experience some dark twisty additive af procedurals.

This review has become less about the book and more about the series as a whole but honestly there’s not much you can put in a review for a thriller that the summary doesn’t already.. summarize. There are twists, death, and surprises. Rinse and repeat. This mystery definitely had a tighter pacing than the last, unfurled in a great way, and also had me tearing up. So I guess we can throw ’emotions’ into that list, too.

I can’t wait for the next one.

THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone – double review!

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

And thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more.

Except discovery of their bond would be death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right? 


Title : This Is How You Lose The Time War
Author : Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 209
Genre : sci-fi
Publisher : Gallery / Saga Press
Release Date : July 19, 2019

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

This is a book that was recommended to me by every friend who read it. The hype was real, the library wait was long, and the book itself was short. My feelings, however, are hard to pin down.

Like Chamber’s TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE this is a short sci-fi novella, that I would describe as a thought provoking slowburn. This one is far more romantic than the aforementioned story, but the telling of it feels similar, even if the subject differs hugely.

This was at turns way over my head complex, hauntingly heartbreaking, and clever af. This a love story between time travelers who work for competing purposes, who flit in and out of points in the universe, in history and the future, and who communicate first through taunts and later through understanding, connection, desire.

I’ll admit I did see a few things coming, which felt like a feat considering how dumb this made me feel sometimes. But overall it was a fascinating and thrilling and strange and sweet experience. I just don’t know how one rates something like this. A four? Let’s say it’s a four. I think if you stripped away some of the strange, hard to imagine, unbelievably complicated elements, held up the bare bones of a story that is still strange and complicated, but without the white noise that may have distracted you.. yeah. This feels right. But the story itself needs those elements, it does; though I can see others, maybe, not liking it because of them. Which might be where I got stuck, too.

If you like sci-fi, if you don’t mind when a plot leans heavy on a romantic connection, I would recommend.


Micky’s 1 star review

This was metaphor hell. A love story (eventually) between robot-horse-wolf-seeds in shades of red and blue through letters. It is about time travel, a vaguely recognisable earth and espionage with lots of killing.

I hated it.

I imagine you reaching over my shoulder to correct my hand on a victim’s throatNice.

The world falls into place like rain. Blue licks her bloodied snout, her paws, her gouged shoulder.Not sure what creature Blue was at this point.

You ask if we eat.
It’s a hard question to answer. There is no mono-we; there are many usses. The usses change and interleave.
 Welcome to my perpetual confusion.

Towards the end we got some comprehensible connection and sense of love but I was too far gone down the wtf road.

I’m not dissing anyone else’s experience, I have a bunch of friends who loved it but my PhD didn’t help me through the confusion of this one.