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NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER by Sophie Gonzales

A girl enters a reality dating competition to get revenge on her cheating, royal-adjacent ex-boyfriend, and ends up falling for another girl on the show—in fact, the girl he cheated on her with.

It’s been two years since Maya dumped her cheating ex-boyfriend Jordy, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country, and in the lead up to the wedding he captured hearts globally as the eligible younger brother. So, when Maya receives an invitation to be a contestant on Second Chance Romance, a new reality show in which the now-famous Jordy will re-date his ex-girlfriends in an effort to find “the one that got away,” she isn’t interested…that is, until she realizes she can use this opportunity to exact her revenge. If she can make it to the finale, she can reject Jordy and publicly break his heart. As far as Maya’s concerned, it’s payback with interest: just what a guy like Jordy deserves.

But when she gets to the set, she’s confronted with the one person she hasn’t accounted for: Skye, the beautiful, charismatic girl Jordy cheated on Maya with. How is she supposed to live with this girl for six weeks? Sharing bunkbeds, for crying out loud?

Except, of course, there’s more to Skye than she lets most people see. Skye has her own reasons for being careful with her heart, and might be more willing to take Maya’s side than it initially seems. If they can sustain their reluctant alliance—and keep their unexpected chemistry from interfering—they might just have a chance to take Jordy down.


Title : Never Ever Getting Back Together
Author : Sophie Gonzales
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ contemporary
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : November 29, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

So it is, perhaps, my fault for the way this one went down. Because I think I misconstrued the plot a bit when I clicked request and that makes it a me problem instead of the book problem. But, I suppose, that still doesn’t change how the book was not it.

However, having now reread (or maybe properly read it for the first time..) the synopsis, I think maybe I just stopped at the tagline.

I initially had this big long rant about timelines and how I found them hard to keep straight when it came to the ex-boyfriend’s relationships, because there were just so many for such young people (this would’ve been more believable had everyone been aged up and this not been YA) but it got deleted — notably, for December-me, I wrote this in July on the day half the country lost our internet, so, haha, fun nostalgia times! Hope things are better in the future! And ultimately, being that this is such a me thing, for all I know it’s just something I couldn’t follow as opposed to being an issue with the plotting (though this usually isn’t the case). I would’ve appreciated a flowchart though. And I really wished it had been clearer when he had become famous as a result of his sister marrying royalty. That would’ve helped. Except, again, the summary seems to make this clearer than the book ever did. Which is frustrating.

My frustration about timing aside, that was merely a drop in the bucket when it came to how frustrating it was to live through all of the ex-boyfriend’s dialogue and actions. Part of what I misunderstood about this book was I didn’t actually think the ex was supposed to be as much as a dirtbag as he was (could be the colourful illustrated cover gave me the wrong idea about the vibes, too). He does expose himself a few times before he gets his real comeuppance but unfortunately he does a great job of selling himself to be perfection. That said, the highlight for me, not just when it came to getting revenge but also just a highlight of the book in general, is when Maya comes up with a drinking game with the other contestants to showcase his behaviour. Genius.

Also, if I never see the word “chicks” again, it’ll be too soon.

Complaints about the evil ex aside, though.. I wanted to root for the romance. I wanted to cheer for these girls. But they felt incredibly inconsistent; or, rather, Skye did. She just wasn’t fleshed out. Maya, however, was the more solid of the two and there were times I actually enjoyed her (though maybe not when she was drunk, that was just silly.. in a dumb way). The one thing that perplexed me was this whole issue about college that seemed very shoehorned into constant discussions that were framed around her intelligence. Which wasn’t a her problem but a people-around-her problem. But I’m mad on her behalf. And also because it was a weird thing to lean into. But they didn’t stand out, not any of them, because their identities were just too much about the ex.

I took a risk on this book because I’ve enjoyed the author before (notably only Perfect on Paper though) but I knew the competition element could be my downfall. And it sorta was. There wasn’t as much girl-on-girl scheming and hate as there could’ve been but there was enough. I don’t love this set-up and this has solidified that I likely will avoid the concept in the future. But I thought, with my misinformation at hand, this author behind the wheel, and a queer love story coming out of having each dated the same boy, there could be some magic here. But there wasn’t. Again, this is mostly a me problem, though, so you may very well enjoy this. And I hope you do.

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

NONA THE NINTH by Tamsyn Muir

Her city is under siege.

The zombies are coming back.

And all Nona wants is a birthday party.

In many ways, Nona is like other people. She lives with her family, has a job at her local school, and loves walks on the beach and meeting new dogs. But Nona’s not like other people. Six months ago she woke up in a stranger’s body, and she’s afraid she might have to give it back.

The whole city is falling to pieces. A monstrous blue sphere hangs on the horizon, ready to tear the planet apart. Blood of Eden forces have surrounded the last Cohort facility and wait for the Emperor Undying to come calling. Their leaders want Nona to be the weapon that will save them from the Nine Houses. Nona would prefer to live an ordinary life with the people she loves, with Pyrrha and Camilla and Palamedes, but she also knows that nothing lasts forever.

And each night, Nona dreams of a woman with a skull-painted face…


Title : Nona the Ninth
Author : Tamsyn Muir
Series : The Locked Tomb (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 480
Genre : LGBTQIA+ fantasy/sci-fi
Publisher : Tordotcom
Release Date : September 13, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

So, listen. The transition from Gideon the Ninth to Harrow the Ninth was rough, right? We ended on such a heartwrenching note, after running around amok for hundreds of pages, only to be dropped into pure chaotic confusion with the sequel. Meaning I wasn’t really worried when Nona the Ninth also switched gears and we ended up in a whole new setting, facing familiar faces but new dynamics, and trying to understand things all over again. But knowing that Nona wasn’t supposed to exist but just got a little out of hand in the writing of the original third book, Alecto the Ninth, well.. it does sort of feel and read like that.

But maybe it’ll all fit together in hindsight, once the series is done, and on a reread. But as of now? There were some really delightful moments in the first half, and I was really into the interludes (so! much! explained! so! much! worldbuilding! wow), but on the whole? It really doesn’t feel like the series-part of the story starts until like.. 60%, if not more, into the book.

While book two had an adjustment in tone and voice, there still maintained some Locked Tomb-ness of the vibe and I don’t think we had that until right before the end in this third instalment. And yeah, it makes sense, but it also makes this book feel very much other from the rest.. and we already had an other book to content with. But at least that bore some similarity to the first. Equally, I didn’t find the writing as captivating, certainly not as funny, because everything was once again so different.

Yet, having said that, those delightful bits? The familial dynamic that we get to explore? Camilla fucking Hect? Chefs kiss. Really lovely. But, ultimately, this seems (at this stage) like a lot of filler and distraction and build-up; only to kick us in the pants for that big cliffhanger ending.

So, yes, I’m having f e e l i n g s about my most anticipated read of the last two years not being a standout but.. I have to trust the system, I have to trust Muir, and maybe next time I read this I’ll be slapping it with five stars because I will understand how much of this was needed for the end. But that day is not today, I’m afraid.

Please note, though, that none of this, none of it!, dims my excitement for the final instalment though. I need Alecto even more than I did before.

I’M THE GIRL by Courtney Summers

When sixteen-year-old Georgia Avis discovers the dead body of thirteen-year-old Ashley James, she teams up with Ashley’s older sister, Nora, to find and bring the killer to justice before he strikes again. But their investigation throws Georgia into a world of unimaginable privilege and wealth, without conscience or consequence, and as Ashley’s killer closes in, Georgia will discover when money, power and beauty rule, it might not be a matter of who is guilty—but who is guiltiest.

A spiritual successor to the 2018 breakout hit, SadieI’m the Girl is a masterfully written, bold, and unflinching account of how one young woman feels in her body as she struggles to navigate a deadly and predatory power structure while asking readers one question: if this is the way the world is, do you accept it?


Title : I’m The Girl
Author : Courtney Summers
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ mystery
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : September 13, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

After a pretty lackluster reading weekend, I pulled out the big guns and delved into I’m The Girl hoping that Summers, with (as it’s coined) her spiritual-successor to Sadie, which I loved, would break me out of the funk. But instead it just gave me a different one.

This was so hard to read, which is understandable and probably the point, but where I can respect some of what the author was doing and saying and forcing the reader to consider, I don’t know if it succeeded where it was meant to. Or at least it didn’t for me.

I’m The Girl delves into the concept of grooming, of manipulation, of powerful people enforcing their rules and their wants on others, but everything around it just felt disjointed and shaky. Being in Georgia’s head was an awful place to be, with her self-worth and dreams tied up in belonging to this place where she misguidedly believes she can become something, which was tied into believing her worth was skin deep, and it just spiralled in and out of this vicious cycle. She was incredibly naive, incredibly needy, out of touch, and lost. She was constantly in situations she shouldn’t have been in, never quite seeming to learn from them, and you could blame some of that on the knowledge she didn’t have, secrets held out of reach by those around her, as well as the manipulation of others. It was painful.

And while all this is going on, there’s also a dead girl, the sister of a not-friend, more an acquaintance, and Georgia gets sorta tangled up in both because she discovers the body and because she finds herself roped into to helping determine what happened — I wouldn’t quite say she’s investigating things, the way the synopsis would have you believe, but there are a few side quests — and I liked that, unlike Sadie, Georgia is only tangentially connected to the death. She’s watching the devastation happen from the outside looking in, much the way she feels held back from the glamourous and prestigious world she wants to belong. But in that same drama, I almost feel there were too many added elements (maybe just one) that muddied the waters.

Maybe, on the whole, when combined with the romance, it was just too many things. And yet, despite this, what it also wasn’t, was a thriller. It also wasn’t anything like Sadie so if, like me, you were looking to recapture that feeling? Maybe just go for a reread.

I think this review is a little messy but so was the book. Or, at least, it just wasn’t for me. And that’s fine. I think fans of the author will likely appreciate this, the same way they appreciate her other works, because she’s consistent in shining a light on these dark areas. And that’s a good thing, don’t get me wrong. But it won’t always make for an enjoyable read, which makes sense, but equally it might not always made for a good read. Whereas my struggles with The Project had to do with the characters, not the plot, when it comes to I’m The Girl I would say this one is definitely the characters but also the plot. Again, in concept, I am so down with this particular narrative. I just wish it had played out differently. But. I will continue to pick up this author.. at least for now.

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

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE by Dahlia Adler

In this sweet and funny new f/f romance from the author of Cool for the Summer, a cheerleader and the school’s newest quarterback are playing to win, but might lose their hearts in the process.

Amber McCloud’s dream is to become cheer captain at the end of the year, but it’s an extra-tall order to be joyful and spirited when the quarterback of your team has been killed in a car accident. For both the team and the squad, watching Robbie get replaced by newcomer Jack Walsh is brutal. And when it turns out Jack is actually short for Jaclyn, all hell breaks loose.

The players refuse to be led by a girl, the cheerleaders are mad about the changes to their traditions, and the fact that Robbie’s been not only replaced but outshined by a QB who wears a sports bra has more than a few Atherton Alligators in a rage. Amber tries for some semblance of unity, but it quickly becomes clear that she’s only got a future on the squad and with her friends if she helps them take Jack down.

Just one problem: Amber and Jack are falling for each other, and if Amber can’t stand up for Jack and figure out how to get everyone to fall in line, her dream may come at the cost of her heart.


Title : Home Field Advantage
Author : Dahlia Adler
Format : ARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : June 7, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

Welp, this wasn’t quite the “sweet and funny” romance I expected it to be. Clearly.

I’ll admit I requested this with the hope that all of what I liked about Adler’s previously queer YA, Cool For the Summer, would be magnified and even more fun in this other queer YA, particularly with the cheerleader/female quarterback angle, but.. it was not. It didn’t even measure up.

Look, it’s expected to navigate hard hitting topics these days, because they are timely, they are important, and they are realities faced by everyone but particularly marginalized peoples. However.. if you promise me sweet and funny, I want sweet and funny. And instead this was relentlessly misogynistic, homophobic, with bullying, and generally an overwhelming vibe of nothing fun or nice. However, Jack, our transplanted-from-another-school quarterback? She deserved to be rooted for. She did deserve her own cheerleader. I just wish she’d gotten a better one. Because Amber only occasionally had her good moments. But that didn’t make her unique. Pretty much right across the board, almost every single character sucked. And those who didn’t were like Amber; with only occasional good or redeeming moments.

So, yeah, maybe you aren’t like me and won’t feel offended or disappointed by all the frustrations in here — or the insta-love, which somehow continued to feel paper thin despite the passing of months — and you’ll appreciate the conflicts and the more or less happily ever after, but.. I’m not. I’m bummed. I’m also trying not to stare at this gorgeously colourful cover and feel like it hasn’t personally victimized and betrayed me.

You might like this; in theory there’s a lot to love. I just didn’t love or like it. As a result, I’m not sure I’ll risk picking up another book by this author.

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

DELILAH GREEN DOESN’T CARE by Ashley Herring Blake

A clever and steamy queer romantic comedy about taking chances and accepting love—with all its complications—by debut author Ashley Herring Blake.

Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her.

When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.

Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to…


Title : Delilah Green Doesn’t Care
Author : Ashley Herring Blake
Series : Bright Falls (book one)
Format : eARC/Paperback
Page Count : 384
Genre : contemporary LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : Berkley/Little Brown UK
Release Date : February 22, 2022

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

While this wasn’t quite the “wow, new-favourite!” read I had maybe hoped it would be, I would definitely read this author again, so I think that’s still a win.

I think ultimately why this doesn’t rate higher for me is a bit because it’s at times somewhat childish and immature (such as in the case of the plans/hijinks the girls come up with to sabotage their friend’s/sister’s relationship, all towards proving said friend/sister isn’t meant to be with him) but also.. yeah, I don’t know. For a bunch of thirty year olds, somehow, it just read a little young. Maybe it was all the leftover childhood angst that infused it? I don’t know.

I really wanted to root for the romance — heyo, ladies who are super into wanting each other, more of this please — but while I liked both characters in theory, only one really came off the page for me. And that was Delilah. I felt for what Claire was going through, appreciated who she represented (not only a young mother but also having had a child with a man while still being very bi and how that dynamic had zero angst [well, not that kind of angst, at least]), but.. I didn’t really like her beyond the theory? Delilah though.. she broke my heart. She was vibrant and dynamic and I was a little in love with her myself.

Sure, it has a bit of that Cinderella-ish feel to it, and I wish maybe some of the “villains” of the piece had been less campy (maybe this is where I felt the immaturity from, too?) but overall there’s enough emotion to keep this grounded and from veering off in the direction of Too Much. Though some plot points maybe needed A Little More, too.

So, yes, on a whole? Not quite a slam dunk. But I will definitely read on in this series — well, I say series, I imagine it’ll be companion novels for the other friend and then the sister. But either way! I will read.

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


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Great chemistry
Quirky cuteness

This book had all my excitement engaged, I fancied everything about this blurb, the potential of the couple, the small town and returning home vibe and the family complications. In execution, I enjoyed all these elements, just not as much as I’d hoped.

The strengths of this couple for me was that together they brought a quirky cuteness, Delilah brought the strong but untouchable feel to the piece and Claire brought a overwhelmed hot-mess-ness when really she wanted to project capability and organisation. I liked them together, their potential, their chemistry. There were some interesting side characters in Claire’s friendship threesome, especially Astrid, Delilah’s step mother and then the whole marriage scenario. The plot was interesting for sure.

So, all that is really positive but there was just something that made this read drag a bit for me. Honestly, I can’t quite put my finger on it but it took me weeks of picking up and putting down this book to finish and I’m sad about that. I wanted to be totally spun into the story that I couldn’t put it down.

Overall, I came out feeling this was an okay read with some good parts and slow parts.

Thank you to Little Brown for the early review copy.

GIRLS OF FATE AND FURY by Natasha Ngan

The epic romance of Lei and Wren comes to a breathtaking conclusion in the explosive finale to the acclaimed, New York Times bestselling Girls of Paper and Fire series.

‘Don’t struggle, Lei-zhi. It’s time to take you back to the Hidden Palace. You’re going home.’

The jaw-dropping conclusion to Girls of Storm and Shadow left the fates of Lei and Wren hanging in the balance. There’s one thing Lei knows – she can never return to the Hidden Palace. The trauma and tragedy she suffered behind those opulent walls will plague her forever. She cannot be trapped there with the sadistic king again, especially without Wren.

The last time Lei saw the girl she loved, Wren was fighting an army of soldiers in a furious battle to the death.

With the two girls torn apart and each in great peril, will they reunite at last, or have their destinies diverged forever? 


Title : Girls of Fate and Fury
Author : Natasha Ngan
Series : Girls of Paper and Fire (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date : November 30, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

“Anyway, suffice it to say I’m still waiting to be won over by this series and at this stage I can only hope it ends well. It’s a pretty low bar for me at this point.

That was how I left off my review for book two in 2019. Suffice it to say.. hopes were dashed. Having said that, though, this was not the series for me and I think I mostly knew that by book one. So no one is surprised by this result and also, you know, grain o’salt.

Also please note I’m only putting in this low-bar effort to review because we have reviews for the first two books on the blog. Otherwise this likely would’ve only existed on GR. Aren’t you all lucky.

I found the first half of this finale to be an utter and total slog to get through — true, I could remember almost nothing about how book two ended, or much about book two in general because it being a journey-centric instalment. But I soon remembered enough to get by. And even still, despite the bonus of having a new POV, nothing sparked joy or excitement. There was some minor enjoyment, or at least I was dialled in, for about twenty percent near the middle, but once that had passed.. more slog. Somehow, despite everything going on, especially a certain reveal near to the end, there was so intensity. There was no dramatic sense of stakes or danger or anything. Which I think is my whole issue with both the story and the writing : while sometimes emotion is conveyed, I can never actually feel it.

I can absolutely understand why people not only love this world but also the representation found within the pages as well as identifying with the characters. I appreciate all of those things. But that’s as far as it goes.

I doubt I’ll read this author again but I’m glad to have completed this series, and have one less unfinished story hanging over my head.

A LESSON IN VENGEANCE by Victoria Lee

For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past.

Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School.

Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.

Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.

And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself. 


Title : A Lesson in Vengeance
Author : Victoria Lee
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ paranormal/thriller
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : August 3, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I think this would’ve worked so much better if, like one of the comp titles, this had been an adult (or at least new adult) novel. I think so much of what I struggled with, or found hard to believe, could have been easier to swallow if this had been aged up.

That said, I really enjoyed the first half of the story. We open up with our main character returning to this elite/exclusive/preppy highschool, almost like a pre-college collegiate style school, after time away in recovery from her girlfriend’s death. She soon finds being back on campus is damaging to her ability to discern reality from the belief that she’s being haunted; not by her girlfriend (or not only..) but by the ghosts of girls long dead who are built into the history, the mythology, of the school. Felicity sees things, feels things, and it makes the reader question her reliability as a narrator; is she delusional, is her grief causing her prior obsession with witchcraft, with the dead girls, making her see things that aren’t there or are these manifestations actually real?

.. grief would tie itself to the small things, that I’d be living my life as normal and then a bit of music or the cut of a girl’s smile would remind me of her and it would all flood back in.

Felicity’s journey, her obsession, her grief, her hauntings, they were all compelling. Where I started to side-eye things was with.. well, almost everything else. Certain characters, with certain influences and motivations, and how transparent it all seemed. And also, my biggest problem really, was just.. why? Maybe there wasn’t supposed to be a why. Maybe I just didn’t get it.

There was one big exception to the transparent bit, though. Something I definitely didn’t see coming. And I loved it? I don’t think many will. Infact, I think the ending in general will be polarizing. You’ve been warned!

I was definitely a bit hesitant going into this, no matter how pumped I was over the concept, because I had a rough go with Lee’s debut series. This? I loved the writing, I loved the dip in and out of spooky paranormal horror, the uncertainty of it all. I started this late at night and I won’t say it scared me but oh did it do a good job with the eerie vibes.

This might not have been a solid win but parts of it worked so so well for me. I’m definitely looking forward to more from this author, especially if they write more in this darker vein, but I think Lee would absolutely excel at an adult story. I hope one day it happens.

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

COOL FOR THE SUMMER by Dahlia Adhler

Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.



Title : Cool For The Summer
Author : Dahlia Adhler
Format : eARC
Page Count : 272
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ contemporary romance
Publisher : Wenesday Books
Release Date : May 11, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 



Hollis’ 3 star review

If you’re looking for a cute summery romance that happens to feature a girl torn between the guy she’s crushed on for years and the girl she met, and discovered previous unknown parts of herself with, over the summer, you should definitely pick this one up. This would be a great way to kick off the season of beach-y reads.

How do you tell people who’ve listened to you babble about your crush on a guy for a thousand years that whoops, you spent the summer fooling around with a girl?

What keeps this from being a love instead of a like is that certain parts did feel a little rushed (which makes sense as this isn’t very long) and while I believed in the unexpected romance between the girls, and also could totally understand the protagonist’s longtime crush on the boy, I didn’t quite buy into him suddenly sitting up and noticing her after so long. And I didn’t quite buy.. something else, that I realize might be a bit spoilery. This isn’t going well to explain my reasons but suffice it to say some parts of how this was set up and executed was so well done, others.. less so.

How do you tell your closest friends, when you only have one year left before you all head off in new directions, that they don’t know you as well as they think? How do you have that conversation when it means facing that you didn’t know yourself as well as you thought you did?

Additionally, I think I only actually liked our main character? I didn’t dislike the romantic interests, or anyone really, but she was the only one who felt really well rounded. I loved how she discovered a new sense of herself (beyond her sexuality) when she was put into a situation away from her home and longstanding friends. I loved how she started seeing herself from the outside and how she felt hampered by that view but would also think about the friendships and relationships had defined so much of her life. Not in a negative way, I loved the reflections she had about her very different friend group, but I really liked the introspection, of trying to figure herself out. Again, I really liked Lara.

Cool For the Summer is a quick fun read that also has a bit of YA-appropriate steam. Between the bi-questioning, the very different kinds of love interests, and the Grease vibes, this is definitely worthy of being on your radar.

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

HARROW THE NINTH by Tamsyn Muir

She answered the Emperor’s call.

She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.

In victory, her world has turned to ash.

After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her. 

Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?


Title : Harrow the Ninth
Author : Tamsyn Muir
Series : The Locked Tomb (book two)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 512
Genre : LGBTQIA+ fantasy/sci-fi
Publisher : Tor.com
Release Date : August 4, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

No one does it quite like Muir.

I could protect you, if you’d only ask me to.
I would rather have my tendons peeled from my body, one by one, and flossed to shreds over my broken bones. I would rather be flayed alive and wrapped in salt. I would rather have my own digestive acid dripped into my eyes.”
So what I’m hearing is.. maybe.

And by that I mean no one confuses me so utterly, for so long, in such devastating ways, only to give me exactly what I want, and then completely messes with my mind, all over again, by the final pages of the book.

What the fuck is going on?” <– what a mood

Like, what, even is that? Huh? Seriously? How dare.

You’re certain that [spoiler] tried to kill Harrow?
Yeah.”
But that doesn’t– why would she–?
Do not fucking ask me for information. I could not be more lost right now.”

In a scarily similar recreation of my reading experience with GIDEON THE NINTH, this book took me forever to get through because of slumps, work, life, the world, etc. Also because this book is over five hundred pages of who even fucking knows. Truly, I had no idea what was happening because while I understood the words I was reading, and there were familiar characters and faces, even some familiar-ish events.. nothing made sense. I was confounded, confused, and having a crazy good time anyway. This author has skills, I tell you. No one else could put me through this nonsense and have me asking for more.

Stay here.”
Get fucked. I absolutely did not become the eighth saint to serve the King Undying so [spoiler] could play hero for me.”
Why did you ascend to be Lyctor?
Ultimate power — and posters of my face.

All I can say is : don’t go in expecting to understand anything. Possibly ever. Because what little I thought I had eventually grasped by the end of book one, was just, poof, gone, by the start of this. And then what I thought I had pieced back together just before this concluded? Obliterated. Elle oh elle.

She wants the D. [..] The D stands for dead.

But speaking of that, I laughed, oh how I laughed. Some parts were so outrageous I couldn’t believe it. It was weird, it was whacky, it was wonderful. I want more. Because here we are again where I have been devastated with how this second book has concluded and I.. what.. but.. I..

I was not following all of this, because necromantic theory is a lot of hot bullshit even when I’m not busy having Complex Emotions.

Yeah, I need book three, like, yesterday.

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

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.