STAR DAUGHTER by Shveta Thakrar

This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.

The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.

Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.


Title : Star Daughter
Author : Shveta Thakrar
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : HarperTeen
Release Date : August 11, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

I couldn’t describe to you the excitement I felt when I mashed up my love for that cover with the realization that this was a STARDUST-inspired fantasy set alongside Hindu mythology. Except that I was, y’know, excited. But maybe my expectations were just too high?

Right off the bat I struggled a bit with the hyper-focus on Sheetal’s preoccupation with her sorta-boyfriend but as things transitioned out of the contemporary, leaving the boy problems behind, and into the fantasy? I was transfixed. The writing was a little offbalance at times, either incredibly flowery with lovely turns of phrase, or none of that at all — making the random switches back to the purple a little hard to gel with, but whatever. We were in some star kingdom in the sky with a competition, an inheritance of power, and it was all going pretty well.

Until it wasn’t.

I’m sad to say the events and conflicts that cropped up along Sheetal’s journey felt very humdrum and constantly pulled me away from the unique and interesting moments I did enjoy. The villains were pretty one dimentional. Occasionally I felt some scenes felt a little jumbled, people appearing and disappearing inconsistently (which, I mean, this is an ARC, that could be fixed before publication). But I also found some repetition just really wasn’t helping me lose myself in story — flame in her core, tingling in her palms, shimmering hair, etc. 

This definitely reads like a debut but there are some lovely shining bits that make me think this is going to be an author to watch. I enjoyed what she took from her insipration of Gaiman’s story and how she built on it, changed it, and made it very original. I really liked some of her prose. I loved the mythology and the culture of the setting. But I found some of the conflicts very typically YA, a little tired, and didn’t enjoy –any of — the characters.

So this is obviously a disapointment, because I was so excited for this, but again, I hope to love her next release.

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

THE FIFTH SEASON by N. K. Jemisin

This is the way the world ends. Again.

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.


Title : The Fifth Season
Author : N. K. Jemisin
Series : The Broken Earth (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 378
Genre : fantasy / science fiction / dystopia
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : August 4, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

So, wow. I’m not sure I actually have anything to really say? Particularly that hasn’t already been said a hundred times.

Reading this book, this series, is incredibly overdue and to be honest I didn’t know what to expect beyond the apocalypse. And yeah that happens. A lot. And is happening again. I was totally drawn in the moment I started this, to the point I read almost 50% in one sitting, and then felt a moment of astonishment when I finally put something together. And considering the weirdness of this world, the complexity, which we learn about as we go but is so smart, I mean.. it made me feel pretty smart for having figured something out.

[..] she [pays] no attention to the world that is ending outside. Her world has already ended within her, and neither ending is for the first time.

This story is cleverness and heartbreak and not only weaves in very relevant (always relevant) discussions about systemic oppression and internalized racism but gives us powerful POVs from Black women, features queer characters all along the spectrum, and.. honestly, you need to read it. Sooner rather than later. Now, even.

BLOODBORN PRINCE by Laura Lascarso

As a bloodborn Nephilim, Vincent’s power of seduction can compel beings to spill their secrets, but he seeks to know the mysteries of only one man’s soul—those of his protector, Henri.

With the grief of his lover’s fate still fresh, Henri resists Vincent’s amorous advances. Even as the bond between them intensifies, and his self-control falters, Henri won’t risk losing his beloved again.

When Henri takes Vincent as his demon-hunting apprentice, their combined abilities uncover corruption amongst the gods. Tempers flare and loyalties are tested as the lies meant to protect become the same ones that ensnare.

And with divine forces attempting to coerce him at every turn, Henri must distinguish ally from enemy, and truth from deceit if he hopes to protect his bloodborn prince.


Title : Bloodborn Prince
Author : Laura Lascarso
Series : Mortal and Divine (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 374
Genre : paranormal romance / LGBTQIA+ romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : August 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Listen. I am hella privileged to be one of the beta-ish readers for this series so it’s impossible to say that I am totally unbiased about this world after being in it for so long however I do want to say that I’ve read this book three times and I loved it more each time.

This series, in general, is delightful because it feels different from so many other paranormal romances out there, queer or otherwise, and because it’s just dark enough to thrill you without leaning too hard on any particular buttons.

I’ve been waiting so long for a human to enchant me enough that I don’t wish to kill them. But they’ve all turned out to be disappointments.”
You might want to lower your expectations.
Maybe.”

This second installment, in particular, is a little less extreme in the ups and downs both in plot and in what happens to our much loved characters. But considering what we endured at the end of book one? I think Lascarso was just throwing us a bone. Or perhaps lulling us into a false sense of security because who knows what book three has in store for us (I can honestly say, at this point, I don’t even know!).

I made some very ugly and descriptive threats [when I learned about you].
What were some of the threats?
Oh, you know, I’d hunt you down and spit-roast you like a suckling pig. Carve up your flesh and feed it to you, unseasoned. Dissect your body and store your bits in separate jars, without labels.
Without labels? Asshole.
I’m very organized.

In a similar vein, I don’t know what I can really say about this book as it’s a sequel and we don’t believe in spoilers in this house b u t I do not think fans of book one will be disappointed. Yes, the angst and heartache is toned down a bit, but this is not without a few well-timed emotional gut punches, it’s got a few scenes that might send you running to shove your face in freezer, and it’s just as funny, if not funnier, than it’s predecessor. Humour is definitely an underrated element in books, particularly those like these which, as the author herself describes, contain “violence and moral ambiguity.”

Is there a cliffhanger, you might be asking? I’m not telling. But what I will say is that, once again, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars there isn’t a year to wait between these installments. I know I am.

** I received an ARC the author (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. **

THE GILDED WOLVES by Roshani Chokshi

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive. 


Title : The Gilded Wolves
Author : Roshani Chokshi
Series : The Gilded Wolves (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 386
Genre : YA historical fiction/fantasy
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : January 15, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

You know when you’re reading something that has bits of everything you love, and you’re mostly following along with plot or worldbuilding or mythology (mostly might be generous..), so you think you’re having a good time? That’s what my experience with THE GILDED WOLVES was like.

I’ve avoided this for ages because of my weird struggles with Chokshi’s writing and all the comparisons to the other big YA heist story/series but finally decided to give it a try. And.. yeah, I think I liked this? I think? Maybe?

Honestly. Who looks at a vase covered in bull testicles and says, ‘You. I must have you.’?
The bored, the rich, and the enigmatic.

The middle is easily the best part of this book. I found it slow going to settle into the setting, and all the complicated clues and problem solving with esoteric history lessons or references we were made to follow along with, and I found the ending was both rushed and hard to picture (which I find a common problem with this author, I just can’t picture what she’s describing), and that was before we jumped around with short chapters, and the passage of time, from all the POVs before a little nugget of a game changer to end the installment. But the middle? The middle was a good time. I felt I was starting to know the characters, even if for the most part we rehashed a lot of the same things we had learned in the beginning, but I love me an ensemble, so, it’s cool, it’s good. But the problem in hindsight is now I don’t really think I know any of them. Everything feels very surface level and I’m left feeling like spent a few hours watching actors perform a play instead of eavesdropping on real lives. Does that make sense?

Additionally, there was kind of a dead giveaway to a particularly element/event with how this story unfolded. I won’t say what it was (I deleted it, actually) because maybe some readers won’t pick up on it. I only noticed because I’ve been tricked this way before. I see you, authors. I see you.

Also why was the poison issue never addressed? I was 98% convinced there was a time travel element at play (sorry, is this a spoiler?) and then, nope, but then.. why?

So, yes. I think there was some greatness in here, particularly in the diverse cast and the representation, and overall the author is clearly very smart to piece all these historical tricksy bits together. I’m too dumb for it, obviously, but it felt well researched. I just wish I had been able to picture things. I wish the big climax had been a little less extreme, or easier to follow. And I wish the ending had flowed instead of feeling so chopped together to close or unpick some loops for book two.

I’m curious to read on, though, so I guess we’re coming out of this one with a win. Though I tend to read on more than I should so.. is it? I’ll stop now.

WHITE WOLF by Lauren Gilley

NYPD homicide detective Trina Baskin is having nightmares. Vivid ones. Full of blood, and snow, dead wolves…and a young man with pale hair who howls like an animal. She chalks them up to stress and an overactive imagination, too many Old Country stories from her Russian father who, when he’s had too much vodka, starts to rave about dark forces and things that look like men…but aren’t. 

But then a case hits her desk that can’t be explained. A young man found outside a club with a nasty bite mark on his neck – and not a drop of blood left in his body. With no leads, no theories that bear exploring, too little sleep, and a partner who seems to be willfully throwing his career down the toilet, the last thing Trina needs is a full-on out of body experience…in which her family’s past is revealed to her, and everything starts making a whole lot of terrifying sense.

In 1942, Trina’s great-grandfather, Nikita, is a captain of the Cheka, the Soviet political police – or so it seems. He and his men are sent to Siberia to retrieve a “volunteer,” the boy who’s going to win the war against the Nazis – and potentially unleash hell on earth. 

The world’s immortal population has been living quietly, secretly, hiding from the wars of men, hoping the past can stay buried. But what happens on the Eastern Front in the winter of 1942 will change everything.

In 2017, Trina is about to come face-to-face with her own past in a way she never thought possible. It turns out monsters are real – and they might be the only hope for survival. 


Title : White Wolf
Author : Lauren Gilley
Series : Sons of Rome (book one)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 558
Genre : paranormal (contemporary & historical)
Publisher : HP Press
Release Date : October 29, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, as usual I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started WHITE WOLF. I knew it featured a detective but I figured she would be solving mysteries that would be paranormal in nature and.. I mean, it’s not not that, but it’s so much more.

Nikita caught one last glance of Sasha’s falsely brave smile and thought this is why men cave to tyrants. To make brave smiles worthwhile.

As you might have noticed by the page count, this is not a short book. I believe this is an epic series and boy does it feel that way. That being said, I did not expect to be transported to World War II era Russia after only, like, two chapters. But more than that, I didn’t expect to spend 85% of the book in that time period once we got there. And I certainly didn’t expect to love it so much. I actually resented transitioning back to the contemporary timeline because I was so invested in the characters I had come to love (like, seriously, Nikita and Sasha? I adore. but in general I’m such a sucker for an ensemble).

He was a good man! A holy man. He–
Was probably fucking your mother.

Time will tell if I come to appreciate these modern characters as much as the others but there are spoilery things I can’t mention that have me very satisfied with the shift back to 2017 now that we’re likely to stay there. Though who knows where book two (and beyond) will take us.

For wolves — werewolves — it’s unnatural to take a true mate.”
Please. Everybody fucks. That’s the most atural thing in the world.”
For mortal humans, yes, of course. But Familiars aren’t entirely human, and the laws of nature don’t apply the same way.”
You’re telling me superpowered people who live forever don’t fuck? What’s the point of living forever if you can’t get laid?

If you like the paranormal but also like historical fiction, or very detailed mythology twisted up with real historical figures, you should definitely look into starting this series. I’m loathe to recommend it too hard as I’m only just getting started but this definitely surprised me — and in a good way. There is definitely a bit of something here for everyone; romantic elements (though this is not a romance so don’t expect too much page time or focus), comedic elements (unless I’m just warped but I did laugh out loud quite a few times), and darker elements (hello vampires and werewolves and also war time events). I know this won’t be for everyone, some readers may not want so much history, so much time spent on backstory, but this worked for me. It took a few days to get through but each time I picked it up I couldn’t tear myself away.

I’m so keen to dive into book two.

THE EXTRAORDINARIES by TJ Klune

Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Marissa Meyer’s Renegades in TJ Klune’s YA debut.


Title : The Extraordinaries
Author : TJ Klune
Series : The Extraordinaries (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : LGBTQIA+ YA fantasy
Publisher : Tor Teen
Release Date : July 14, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I feel like my feelings on this book went up and down as the story went along. There were some pretty great highs (and I mean that not necessarily limited to light hearted delight but also momentsof pure emotion and sadness) and also some middling.. not lows but, like, middles. 

Are you both all right?
Aside from the emotional trauma that will probably rear its head when I’m thirty-seven and working at my cubicle in a dead-end job that I hate, just fine.
I’m fine. Any trauma I might have had is being washed away by the tragic comedy occurring right in front of me.

If you’re a fan of Klune’s humour, you’ll absolutely have a good time. Some passages had me in stitches. If you’re a fan of Klune’s angst, you probably won’t be super satisfied but you’ll be content. This is a YA with comedic leanings, so, it’s got sufficient heartache but isn’t quite on par with the torment the author inflicts in his adult stories. And we also have a story that looks fairly typical on the onset and maybe doesn’t go in every typical direction. There’s still some predictable paths taken but less than you might think. I don’t know if some of that predictability comes from the fairly standard superhero/comic tropes or it was done to showcase just how stunningly oblivious our main character was, but.. I mean, it could be both. 

He felt badly for all the generation that had come before him, unable to access queries immediately such as if it was okat for boys to give other boys flowers. Two minutes later, he was somehow reading a Wikipedia article on the Women’s Cricket World Cut, unsure of how he got there.

I’ll admit said main character, Nick, was maybe my least favourite character of the bunch, which had nothing to do with his ADHD, or how extra of a stan he was about his love for his heroes, though maybe was influenced by his self-centeredness, but was really more to do with how fabulous Klune’s supporting cast was. Gibby and Jazz were just exceptional. And Seth was the soft geeky cinnamon roll we all love to love. But where Nick was his best was in every father-son scene. His relationship with his father was complex and hard but their devotion, their love for each other was just wonderful. And I can’t wait to see more of that in future books and how, maybe, that might change. Or won’t. You know. Depending on.. things. Which, yes, again, maybe a little predictable. But it’s fine.

I’m not fragile.”
I know. I figured that out the first time I dropped you on your head and it made a little dent. You didn’t even cry.”
What do you mean, the first time? There was more than once?
Being a parent is hard. Kids are slippery.”

So, yes, this is a like not a love but I think many readers will love this one. And I will definitely read on in the series.

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

THE DAMNED by Renée Ahdieh

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with the second installment of her new sumptuous, sultry and romantic series, The Beautiful.

Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.


Title : The Damned
Author : Renée Ahdieh
Series : The Beautiful #2
Format : eARC
Page Count : 456
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : July 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Damn but that was good (see what I did there). THE DAMNED utilised all that world-building from book one and just pressed launch. This read was full to the brim of vampiric content and I came to love these characters so much more in this installment. It was an exciting read from cover to cover with a reasonably fast-pace, peppered with lulls to catch your breath.

Sometimes when a book is really good, I highlight and highlight text but with THE DAMNED, I forgot about highlighting, I was that absorbed. The characters I’d come to like from THE BEAUTIFUL became characters I loved and of course, Bastien and Celine were central to this. With that ending to THE BEAUTIFUL, you just know that the world was a confusing place for both these characters at the start of this book.

The story was complex and cleverly woven, but some of the confusion I felt in book one was not a factor in this book. That previous world building paved the way for the characters and different beings to play out with ease. There were so many unexpected factors and plot twists that kept me on the edge of my seat. I enjoyed particularly the Wyld and the Vale components to the story.

This book /series has delicious side characters and Odette continued to float my boat and I enjoyed getting to know Jae, Ahrun and even Nicodemus better. Pippa had some low level involvement but I see more from her to come.

The chemistry between Bastien and Celine was like a vampire sizzling in the hot sun (snort). These two had a journey and I had no idea where it was going to end up. I will say that Bastien was the kind of hero I could get on board with.

“Do you wish you could make this decision for me?”
“I do. More than I care to admit.”
“Then why have you given me the choice, against this inclination?
“Because I should not make your story about me.”

THE DAMNED blew book one out of the water for me. It gave me all the vampire I wanted and needed and a story to grip consistently. I want more from this series and the end indicates that’s the case.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.

DRAGON UNLEASHED by Grace Draven

A dragon shapeshifter and a healer with power over the earth fight a corrupt empire in this thrilling and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Magic is outlawed in the Krael Empire and punishable by death. Born with the gift of earth magic, the free trader Halani keeps her dangerous secret closely guarded. When her uncle buys a mysterious artifact, a piece of bone belonging to a long-dead draga, Halani knows it’s far more than what it seems. 

Dragas haven’t been seen for more than a century, and most believe them extinct. They’re wrong. Dragas still walk among the denizens of the Empire, disguised as humans. Malachus is a draga living on borrowed time. The magic that has protected him will soon turn on him–unless he finds a key part of his heritage. He has tracked it to a group of free traders, among them a grave-robbing earth witch who fascinates him as much as she frustrates him with her many secrets.

Unbeknownst to both, the Empire’s twisted empress searches for a draga of her own, to capture and kill as a trophy. As Malachus the hunter becomes the hunted, Halani must risk herself and all she loves to save him from the Empire’s machinations and his own lethal birthright.


Title : Dragon Unleashed
Author : Grace Draven
Series : Fallen Empire (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : fantasy romance
Publisher : Ace
Release Date : June 9, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Much like my experience with PHOENIX UNBOUND, book one in the Fallen Empire series, I have very mixed feelings over this read. Mostly because I have adored so many of Draven’s stories and want to support this well-deserved achievement in being lifted up by one of the big publishing houses. But the reality is this just seems like such a lesser offering than all her previous tales.

I remember saying it in my review for book one, but this writing? It doesn’t feel at all like Draven. I feel so removed, so disconnected, by everything. The plot, the characters, the dialogue. It’s awkward or stilted or poorly transitioned. It feels like a debut author as opposed to a seasoned one who was often wowed me, stunned me, made me burst out laughing, with her words. I definitely felt some chemistry and excitement in book one’s pairing, fitting as one character wielded the power of fire, but this one? Way less chemistry, less connection, and there was only one moment between them where I felt.. something. Maybe because I appreciated that two people, with different backgrounds and perspectives, could do some self-reflection and appreciate they didn’t understand what it was like to be in each others’ shoes. But everything else..?

I wanted to be wowed by this, I wanted to feel that rounding up on book one had paid off with this follow up story, but instead I want to go back and knock off a star from PHOENIX UNBOUND. I’m sad. 

I don’t know if there’s more to come from this series but I’m sure I’ll pick it up anyway. Particularly if it helps to ease the pain of waiting for the next Wraith Kings installment.

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

KINGS OF THE WYLD by Nicholas Eames

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best — the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld. 

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk – or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It’s time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld. 


Title : Kings of the Wyld
Author : Nicholas Eames
Series : The Band (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 544
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : February 21, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

This book was so much damn fun.

If the idea of a bunch of past-their-prime warriors getting back together to help save the daughter of one of their buddies doesn’t appeal to you..? Well, I mean, fine. But you’re missing out.

How do I look?
Old.”
Tired.”
Fuck you guys.”

This story is hilarious, both in concept and execution, as well as dialogue, but it’s also poignant, moving, nostalgic, and bittersweet. Their glory days are behind them, they’ve grown old, and fat, and worn down by life and circumstances, but they still band together (as a band, elle oh elle), they still have each other’s backs, even when the odds are great none of them will survive. Which is no different from the odds they faced back in the day but see aforementioned old, fat, worn down.

How many hopeless battles have we fought?
A few..
And how many did we win?
All of them?
All of them. And yeah, sure, we’ve just been robbed by a gang of girls–
Twice.”
Twice, yes, well.. we’re a bit rusty.

The cast of characters are delightful, the circumstances bizarre, and the world is even weirder. But it’s also vivid and fascinating and unbelievably tongue in cheek and/or witty and sometimes both. There’s a very modern appeal to this story — not unlike the reason we have movies like The Expendables, I guess, and delight in seeing old favourites reunite and flex their atrophied muscles for the greater good — and beyond the fantastical creatures, the heart of this story is friendship, family, love. 

I honestly don’t know what else to say. I had such a great time, and was so invested not only in the events of the book but the way the story would pause, give a moment or observation space, and then slap you in the face with something hilarious. I have so many highlights and so few original words to prop them up against, so : to sum up? Read this book. Meanwhile I’ll just be over here counting down the seconds until I can dive into the sequel.