MICHIGAN VS THE BOYS by Carrie S Allen

When a determined girl is confronted with the culture of toxic masculinity, it’s time to even the score.

Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls’ hockey team off the ice this year.

If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there’s still one team left in town …

The boys’ team isn’t exactly welcoming, but Michigan’s prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and “harmless” pranks that always seem to target her.

But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up – even if it means putting her future on the line.


Title : Michigan vs The Boys
Author : Carrie S Allen
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 308
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : KCP Loft
Release Date : October 1, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I would like it noted for the record that this is my do-over review after accidentally losing the first (much superior) draft. I am sad. But here we go; take two.

Wow, so. I knew going into this read that it would deal with some tough situations concerning bullying and hazing, but still. This was hard.

MICHIGAN VS THE BOYS feels like the second cousin to BEARTOWN by Fredrik Backman. Like that other story, this one also focuses on the mob mentality so often found in men, particularly in competitive sports. But that’s mostly where the similarities end.

Michigan loves hockey. So when her girls’ team is disbanded due to budget cuts, she makes the bold choice to try out for the boys’ team. Except no one wants her there. Not her coach and certainly not her teammates. But she wants to play, she is talented, and so she makes the cut.

Reading what the boys put her through, how she is ignored by the staff, and only trotted out when she out-plays, and out-scores, the boys, is so hard. Watching every hard-earned win, every success, be immediately torn down by those who are supposed to lift her up, cheer her on? Brutal. But watching her continue to push herself, to continue to succeed despite so much adversity, is remarkable. Though, ultimately, tragic because it’s so unnecessary and awful.

But for all that awful, there’s a balance of greatness, too. It’s also a story about friendship, first love, loyalty, and family. And, in some ways, so much of this is necessary. Because, as one character says, about a certain situation, which I will paraphrase, this story, the telling of it, is so important. For the girls who will see themselves in these moments; if not now, maybe in the future. For the boys who might realize that what they witness being done to others, what they don’t stop even if they don’t participate in, is wrong.

If you love hockey, if you love stories with great friendships or sibling relationships, hell, if you loved (or hated!) BEARTOWN, I would definitely recommend.

WORK FOR IT by Talia Hibbert

In this village, I’m an outcast: Griffin Everett, the scowling giant who prefers plants to people. Then I meet Keynes, a stranger from the city who’s everything I’m not: sharp-tongued, sophisticated, beautiful. Free. For a few precious moments in a dark alleyway, he’s also mine, hot and sweet under the stars… until he crushes me like dirt beneath his designer boot. 

When the prettiest man I’ve ever hated shows up at my job the next day, I’m not sure if I want to strangle him or drag him into bed. Actually—I think I want both. But Keynes isn’t here for the likes of me: he makes that painfully clear. With everyone else at work, he’s all gorgeous, glittering charm—but when I get too close, he turns vicious. 

And yet, I can’t stay away. Because there’s something about this ice king that sets me on fire, a secret vulnerability that makes my chest ache. I’ll do whatever it takes to sneak past his walls and see the real man again. 

The last thing I expect is for that man to ruin me. 


Title : Work for It
Author : Talia Hibbert
Series : Just For Him (book four)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 283
Genre : LGBTQIA+ contemporary romance
Publisher : Nixon House
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Goodness. I.. goodness.

So I treated myself to this book after a disappointing read, which felt good because I love supporting delightful authors, and then I ended up sorta impulsively buddy reading it with friends who also deserved a treat (also hahaha sorry guys, as always, I am the worst buddy reader), so generally everything about this read was heading towards a good time. And then I started getting sucked into this book and things got even better.

I may not be built like a lorry, like some people–
I prefer ‘brick shit-house’.”
–but I’ve been told I have a terrifying aura.”
Would be more terrifying you didn’t talk about auras.”

If you like Roan Parrish’s Riven series, you’ll love WORK FOR IT. Hibbert infuses this slowburn m/m romance with the same kind of mental health focus that Parrish does and she, too, does it so well. It adds layers to a story that didn’t need them, because it would’ve been good even without, but with them it’s delicious and emotional. Even better it’s a hate-to-love — in a broad sense, that is, but more specifically it’s a attracted-but-prefer-to-bicker-instead-of-bone which eases into friendship and then more. It’s not only beautiful but it’s a delight. 

How, exactly, does one say, “I assumed you would stop loving me if you found out how depressed and anxious I am,” without making it sounds as if you think the other person’s a bit of a prick?

This book steamed up my glasses, made me cry, made me laugh, made me swoon. There are passages that are angsty af as well as heartbreaking but the emotional evolution, the character growth and the challenges they face, it’s all such a perfect balance. For all the quick build of the connection, it’s equally glacial. The pacing between them is the perfect kind of slow, of cautious, of clear consent, and it’s completely and categorically hot. Also the feeeeeels.

What the fuck am I supposed to do with him if he doesn’t want tea? He’s just exhausted my social knowhow with five words.

I now realize I’ve said nothing at all about the book itself so let’s break it down :

depressed former playboy. reclusive grumpy farmer. opposites attract. age gap. size gap. wait, that last one sounds awful, I just mean one of them is Very Big and the other is Not As Big. kitchen hijinks. Soft Men (not boys, they are older, it’s great). trying a little tenderness. supportive friends. also some sheep.

This is how he wins, how he makes me all dizzy and soft: he smiles, for real, and for me.

I’m not sure that break down accomplished anything at all so instead you should just read this book.

For Christ’s sake, did he have to insult me with Scrabble words? Couldn’t he have just called me a tosser?

I will mention that in writing this review I discovered this is the fourth book of a series which does make sense considering some side characters who were woven in and out with backstory that was both briefly explained and implied, so. Maybe that’ll keep you from picking this up right away but. It definitely stands on its own. Though I may find myself working my way through the right order sooner rather than later..

YOU COULD MAKE A LIFE by Taylor Fitzpatrick

The first thing Dan says to him is, “we’re in the NHL!”, because that’s how he’s been greeting anyone wearing a jersey, and Marc Lapointe, ‘the future of the franchise’, is wearing Dan’s colours.

“I think you’re my new best friend,” Dan says, his excitement beating out common sense, social filters, the need to play it cool.

“It is nice to meet you, new best friend,” Marc says, his mouth twitching.

In hindsight, Dan probably falls in love with him in that moment, Marc laughing at him and with him all at once, but it takes a little while to figure that out.


Title : You Could Make a Life
Author : Taylor Fitzpatrick
Format : eBook (scribd)
Page Count : 202
Genre : LGBTQIA+ contemporary sports romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : December 20, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

It’s so hard not to compare this to the author’s more recent work (why, oh why, did I read this so soon after? who stole my chill?) which was similar but so different. And yet this was still so good. Just not one the same level, in so many ways, that THROWN OFF THE ICE was.

First of all, the angst is way lower in decibel. There is no age gap. And this one didn’t make me cry. But it was still sexy, funny, ridiculous, and had even more hockey than my first experience with Fitzpatrick’s writing did. I’ve said it for other authors and I’ll say it again : nothing makes me love a hockey romance more than when it is obvious the author is a true blue fan. This author definitely is.

Oh my god. There is totally a Quebec Secret Society, you lied to me!
We are not a cult. We are a province.”

Overall, if I had to recommend a reading order, even though I’m not sure they exist in the same universe (unless they do? I know she has other shorts and stories, seemingly all hockey based), I would recommend people start here. It’s lighter on all topics, really, with less blunt force on both the emotional impact as well as lighter on the sexy times, too. It sort’ve follows a more traditional path, one many LGBTQIA+ sports romance readers will be familiar with, but with more depth, if that makes sense.

He said you gave him a blowjob in Juniors and that it was terrible. [..]. Do not worry, I told him you are much improved at it now.”
Marc, don’t talk about my blowjob skills on the ice.”
Why is it always me that hears this shit?

The one (only?) major downfall to YOU COULD MAKE A LIFE is the beginning isn’t as solid as the latter half. It felt a little more surface level, and I’m not sure I liked some of the early angst conflict, and how quickly it resolved, that whole transition read weird to me, and even in hindsight I’m not sure about it all, but the last 60% was great, strong, fun, and just emotional enough that you are invested when things aren’t going right.

You are the Brangelina of hockey.”
I don’t want to be the Brangelina of hockey.”
You are years too late for that, bud. You guys have a following. If you ever broke up you would make girls cry.”
I don’t want to break up. Or make girls cry.”

So much of Dan was different than Mike, so much of Marc different from Liam, but you can see feel the author’s touch, her style, even after just one book. I love that. I’m glad this was different but still distinctive, with familiar tropes that are still made fun.

Dan’s always been a Leafs fan — his Toronto citizenship would have probably been revoked if he wasn’t one. <– hahah as a non-Leaf fan Torontonian, this killed me.

Even though I definitely dove into this too soon, and already kind of regret it, I’m so excited to have an author like this on my radar. If you’re into queer romance, or hockey romances, and love when they intersect, you absolutely need to be watching, and reading, this author.

GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE by Natasha Ngan

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.


Title : Girls of Paper and Fire
Author : Natasha Ngan
Series : Girls of Paper and Fire (book one)
Format : eBook (OverDrive)
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA LGBTQIA+ fantasy
Publisher : jimmy patterson
Release Date : November 6, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Though the current GR rating indicates I’m not the only one to not love this, I do think there are many who do, so please take this review (as one always should) with a sprinkle of salt.

Not that I’m salty about not loving this. To be honest, I don’t feel much of anything; not disappointment or frustration. Just pretty much nothing. 

I’ll admit that my understanding of this book was totally off base. I didn’t realize it was a fantasy, or at least not the particulars of the fantasy — with human, Paper Castes, and Demons, and the imbalance of power between them (lolz, I thought Demon King was an affectation, not, like, literal) — and all I really knew to expect was diversity and some darker subject matter. Both of which exist. But so does a lot of.. I don’t know, filler?

I’ll stop beating around the bush. I was bored. I didn’t particularly like any single character. I was traumatized by an early death within the first chapter or two and don’t think I ever recovered (how could you!). I did think the evolution of the romance was well done and like the whole long-awaited revenge plot/conspiracy but I just wish I could’ve cared about the characters themselves as opposed to just the general concept of their existence.

I’m.. not excited to read on but I do have an ARC of book two, which I will still be reading, and I hope that the change of pace, and setting, is more my speed than this one was. 

GODSGRAVE by Jay Kristoff – double review!

**Reviews edited April 2021. Micky & Hollis have left their original ratings and reviews but we would like to state that we hadn’t realised the harmful elements of the books in this series until now. For that, we are really sorry – we are referring to Asian stereotyping, antisemitic and albinism elements that have hurt readers. If our original reviews were conveyed as an endorsement of these issues, we want to apologise for that. We are learning and will continue to do so.**

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.


Title : Godsgrave
Author : Jay Kristoff
Series : The Nevernight Chronicle
Format : eBook/audio
Page Count : 448
Genre : NA fantasy
Publisher : St Martin’s Press
Release Date : September 5, 2017

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

Hahahahaha.. hahahha.. hahaha.. haha.. hah.. a..

The problem with being a librarian is there’s some lessons you just can’t learn from a book. And the problem with being an assassin is there’s some mysteries you just can’t solve by stabbing fuck out of them.”

If you, too, have read GODSGRAVE, I have no doubt this is one of probably only two reactions you had to that ending. Because hahahahah.. etc.

You’re not helping.”
“.. I am offering moral support..
You’re being an annoying little shit.”
“.. that too..”

But the sound of my mania aside, this was heads and bloody tails above book one. I had seen potential in NEVERNIGHT but there was just something missing, some depth, or some.. thing. I don’t even know. But GODSGRAVE? It had all the blood, violence, and sex of book one but somehow didn’t feel like a YA book trying not to be a YA book. This one seemed to find its own niche, revel in its unique existence, and just thrive in its adultness; instead of trying to find the balance between the YA and the dark.

He was a hero.”
We all think that of our parents. They give us life, after all. It’s easy to mistake them for gods.

The whole setting for book two is so different, and I loved it, even if the drive is still the same. The goal, the end game, nothing has changed. Mia is out for revenge and she has to get very creative in how she goes about that. And oh are the twists glorious. O glory!

How do you endure the unendurable?
We have a saying in Vaan : in every breath, hope abides. Just keeping breathing, little Crow.

And then there’s that ending. Big reveals, big surprises, big climax. If I didn’t have an ARC of book three at my fingertips I would be s h r i e k i n g right now. Or just laugh myself silly. As above. 

You don’t find any irony in earning your place in a cult of assassins by saving half a dozen lives?
I killed almost a hundred men in the process.”

If you gave NEVERNIGHT a chance and just didn’t love it, for whatever reason, I would highly recommend pushing on. This was a rewarding, riveting, raucous experience, even if it took me forever to read, and I don’t regret a single moment spent with this thicc monster.


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

3.5 – 4 stars

GODSGRAVE didn’t blow me away in the same way that NEVERNIGHT did. I missed T, I don’t like Ashlin so that was a struggle throughout and most of all I missed the Red Church. In NEVERNIGHT, the book really took off for me when Mia got to the Red Church, so that was a hole in my story heart.

The first third of the book had me confused, there seemed to be three different timelines and situations at play and I just couldn’t put them together, even though each was engaging on its own. I think some of this was to do with the disconnect audio sometimes brings where you can’t go back over a passage easily, or flick through previous pages. When those storylines finally wove together, I felt more involved in the story.

Mia remains one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever read, getting into her head (it’s damn sketchy in there) is like running the gauntlet but still I continue. Mia and Ash, I mean some of that was a little hot blushy, but I overall don’t buy into their relationship. And again, I miss T.

Jay Kristoff knows how to leave you with boom, boom and boom at the end. The reveals just came like a run of bullets and I sat there with my jaw open. He has guarenteed my continuing investment in this series and I look forward to DARKDAWN even while I shield my heart a little.

Holter Graham’s narration remained spectacular.

NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff – double review!

**Reviews edited April 2021. Micky & Hollis have left their original ratings and reviews but we would like to state that we hadn’t realised the harmful elements of the books in this series until now. For that, we are really sorry – we are referring to Asian stereotyping, antisemitic and albinism elements that have hurt readers. If our original reviews were conveyed as an endorsement of these issues, we want to apologise for that. We are learning and will continue to do so.**

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?


Title : Nevernight
Author : Jay Kristoff
Series : The Nevernight Chronicle
Format : eBook/Audiobook
Page Count : 448
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Thomas Dunne Books/Hodderscape
Release Date : August 9, 2016

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

There was a lot of build-up, hype, expectation — pick a word any word — for me before starting NEVERNIGHT. I knew that it was dark and violent with a wicked assassin and a cat that wasn’t a cat but I didn’t know much more than that. And it did live up to the pitch.

Nothing is where you start. Own nothing, Know nothing. Be nothing.”
Why would I want to do that?
Because then you can do anything.”

This is a revenge story, a coming of age in a time of blood story, a violent one, a twisty one, and a funny one. Yes, it was actually quite funny. What I didn’t expect, I guess, was it to read so.. I hesitate to say YA, because it’s not, but it was smart and clever and brutal and I don’t want to say YA books aren’t all those things. Because we know they are. But I guess I thought this was going to be more adult-sounding or adult-feeling than it was, than it’s supposed to be? It’s really hard to describe my disconnect over this. But that didn’t really take away any enjoyment.

Are you honestly telling me you’ve come to train among the most feared assassins in the Republic and you’re afraid of the bloody dark?

Did I love it? No. But I did like it. And there were characters that I did love (Mercurio! Mr Kindly!). I enjoyed the time with the school of assassins because I liked the competition and training aspect of it. I enjoyed the flashbacks and learning what drove Mia to this particular path. I enjoyed the banter, though felt a bit lukewarm about the relationship, and the hilarity in the back and forth riffing Mia does with Mr Kindly. I am definitely here for more twists and more reveals for book two because we’re definitely owed at least one big one and I can’t wait.

You’ll be a rumour. A whisper. The thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the never night. The last thing you will ever be in this world, girl, is someone’s hero. But you will be a girl heroes fear.”

So, if you are one of the last people to get around to reading this book, like me, would I recommend? I think I would. By now you should know what you’re getting into. Yes, it’s long af. But it’s also easily and compulsively readable. NEVERNIGHT is a mix of blood, sweat, sex, violence, and magic. All I want from the sequel is more of the same. 


Micky’s 4.5 star review

4.5 stars of crazy town

This was a reading experience I’m not sure I’ve had before. It’s a book where you are lulled into a familiarity with death, hideous creatures, beings and situations and you get to like them. Who am I and what did Jay Kristoff do to me? Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a sensitive reader when it comes to scary stuff, I stay away from it, I recoil from it, but I didn’t with Nevernight.

Mia Corvere takes the whole book to work out and then on the end pages it says something like, ‘don’t think you know the pale daughter, because you don’t’. I really liked Mia, I came to appreciate why she was the way she was and that she repeatedly showed humanity where other acolytes didn’t.

The twists in this book were always unexpected as I didn’t see a lot of foreshadowing…shadowing, see what I did there (if you’ve read it). I did have a gut feeling about one of the main characters that came to fruition but not in the way I expected. I still don’t know how I feel about some of the happenings, they were right for the story, but I was sad about it all the same. The school of the Red Church was everything fascinating and once Mia was there, this was my favourite portion of the book. I loved everything about it, the good, the bad, the freaking ugly.

The writing was superb. I am a footnote appreciater and I can say this this worked supremely well on the ebook. However, whilst I did swap between formats, this was mostly an audiobook listen for me. The narrator, Holter Graham carried this cast of characters with an epic collection of accents. Mia was initally a little unexpectedly peppy but I adjusted and reminded myself how old she actually was. I loved the audio so much, that I intend to listen to books 2&3 rather than read.

I cannot wait to get stuck into the rest. All hail the twisted mind of the Kristoff.