THE BEAUTY OF DARKNESS by Mary E. Pearson

Lia has survived Venda—but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it.

With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldier—as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down.

In this conclusion to the Remnant Chronicles trilogy, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance.


Title : The Beauty of Darkness
Author : Mary E. Pearson
Series : The Remnant Chronicles (book three)
Format : physical
Page Count : 684
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Henry Holt
Release Date : August 2, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think this might have been, overall, the strongest of the series but it’s still not without some pitfalls or frustrations.

There isn’t much one can say about a finale but this was the big build up to a confrontation, a destiny, a prophecy, and may or may not resolve a romance or two. Most of all of that worked for me, in mostly satisfying ways, but despite how quickly I tore through this, it was still long, and somehow certain events were glossed over, or rushed, and ultimately I still didn’t get as many answers around the worldbuilding as I liked. Or maybe, instead, they were just too vague for my liking? I wanted it a little more spelled out. Which is likely my problem with some of the motivations of some of the characters. We had some big reveals, a few unmaskings, and maybe I just read it all too fast but like.. motivations are important. And I felt like I didn’t understand any of them for certain characters. They just kind of felt like roles they were playing.. but why? I don’t know, maybe it’s a silly thing to focus on, but considering the scope of the story I would’ve liked to have been a little more certain as to some of the whys of it all.

In speaking of characters, though, surprising no one my greatest joy was still Lia and she continued to be strong, stubborn, and so kickass. Her ending wasn’t really a surprise but I’m surprised, again, by some of the noise (or lack thereof) around it. But I think that just goes back to certain bits feelings rushed or not fully formed. Maybe we’ll get more in the spinoff? Which, yes, I’ll be reading. I don’t expect it to follow the same characters but maybe it’ll fill it in some gaps.

In the end, was this series a favourite? No. Is it going to stay on my shelves? No, I’m unhauling. Besides that somewhat rough middle book aside, I’m not mad at the time I spent with these characters. And hey, I mean, now I have some space on my shelves, and I knocked a book off my tbr/owned list that had been sitting around since 2015, so, it feels like a win all around. Even if it’s kind of a lose.

A DESTINY OF DRAGONS by TJ Klune

Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice, Sam of Wilds, got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever. Life is good. 

Until it’s not. 

Because Vadoma, the leader of the gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side. 

And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv. Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone


Title : A Destiny of Dragons
Author : TJ Klune
Series : Tales from Verania (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 377
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ fantasy romance
Publisher : BOATK Books
Release Date : November 12, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated


Hollis’ unrated review

If I thought this series would get any less like a bizarro trippy experience? I was dumb. Because why would it do that if we’d made it this far. If anything this series just gets weirder, and more absurd, in this second installment but it’s still compulsively readable. Likely I would not be prioritizing this series if not for my buddy reading buddies (hi!).. otherwise, well. I don’t think I would drop it but, yeah, suffice it to say it would not be topping my read pile right now. But whatever.

You really don’t understand boundaries, do you?
Only that they were meant to be broken.

Everything from book one is back again, from the oversharing and crude ridiculousness, to the almost parody-like fantasy plot, and if things were thought to be dramatic before? It gets better/worse/more (pick your preference).

You don’t see the way he stares at me sometimes.
I’ll bite. How does he stare at you?
Like I’m an idiot.
Sam. You are an idiot.”
Oh. Things suddenly make much more sense right now.”

As far as the romance, things are also better/worse/more (pick your preference) as book one’s conflict is replaced with something new but also different. It definitely got one of my buddies to switch shipping teams (literally the highlight of the whole read). But I also like how it resolved; though I’m not sure we’ve seen the last of it.

Sam, we’re born from magic. We don’t have parents. We are created when the world needs us most. There’s magic everywhere, in the smallest of things. Once there’s enough concentration of it, and once the world wills it so, a dragon is born.
But.. but, that’s so stupid. What the fuck is that esoteric bullshit?”

For all that this is still whacky and weird and I’m obviously continuing on with the series (hi again buddies), I still don’t really think I actually like this. There are moments, sure, that I might laugh or be entertained by something. And it’s certainly high on the hot scale compared to my other experiences with Klune. But for all that, and I realize it’s not much so this will come as no surprise, I am definitely not recommending it. It just exists; and I’m spending time with it. Nothing more.

THE HEART OF BETRAYAL by Mary E. Pearson

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save Lia’s life, her erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: There’s Rafe, who lied to Lia but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be savages. Now that she lives among them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country… and her own destiny.


Title : The Heart of Betrayal
Author : Mary E. Pearson
Series : The Remnant Chronicles (book two)
Format : physical
Page Count : 473
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Henry Holt
Release Date : July 7, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

Welp, that didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I think this feels like a bigger disappointment for two reasons. One, according to GR, when I read this the first time, it was a five star experience. And two, I can see why past-Hollis thought so highly of it. So I get it.. but it’s definitely not that anymore.

In my review for my book one I had mentioned how one of the main three POVs were pretty weak and I wanted better. Well this time I wanted better for every POV that wasn’t Lia. Because what’s consistent about this series so far is that she is the only thing propping it all up. That said, we did start get to more information from those previously mentioned hints and teases about the worldbuilding but not quite as much as I wanted. The machinations and politics definitely got a little twistier and I’m enjoying that but it does feel like Pearson is dolling out too few crumbs to really satisfy. And instead of making me hunger for more it’s making me feel less inclined to sit at the table, you know? But not in the sense that I’m giving up. It’s not quite that bad. Plus, I mean, Lia.. girl is still a badass.

Overwhelmingly this series is just really weakened by the romance and things got even more busy in that sense in this second installment. Again, I can see how this once worked for me, maybe I was excited by the drama or something, and I know similar things still do work for me today, but this one? It was something of a slog.

Having not read book three (and the reason for this whole reread!), I’m very interested to see where we go from here, particularly in light of how this one ended and a few of those tiny little reveals we did get. But it’s definitely going to have to blow me away in order to not only redeem this particular book, and the series as a whole, but also to keep its place of pride on the shelves. No pressure.

THE LIGHTNING-STRUCK HEART by TJ Klune

Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.

Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the King’s Wizard, Morgan of Shadows.

When Sam is fourteen, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.

At fifteen, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle. Sir Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.

Naturally, it all goes to hell through the years when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the King sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.

Or so he thinks.


Title : The Lightning-Struck Heart
Author : TJ Klune
Series : Tales from Verania (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 480
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ fantasy romance
Publisher : BOATK Books
Release Date : November 12, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated



Hollis’ unrated review

If ever a book made you feel a little like you were on drugs, it would probably be this one. What a trip.

This was such a weird experience. I knew going into this to expect some extreme or absurb fantasy, with Klune himself leaning into the absurb slapsticky kind of humour, and yet somehow I was still not prepared. This is weird and wild and I would probably not recommend this to most readers. Particularly if you haven’t at least had a taste of what Klune can do.

I’m trying to be subtle here.”
You’re a talking unicorn. Sometimes when you poop, it comes out as rainbows and smells like cookies. There is nothing subtle about you.”

This story features a hornless gay unicorn, a half giant, an aggressively horny dragon, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The good thing is that most of those specific characters, along with our protagonist, Sam the apprentice wizard with the great power and great responsibility, were some of my favourites. They were ridiculous and their antics were outright lunacy but the friendship bonds were just so wholesome (even when they weren’t) and sweet and discounting the fact that Sam sometimes had two page run-on monologues (despite the fact that a running joke is how the Dark Wizards are monologue fiends and they hate it) I really did love them.

I would ask you to dance, but I don’t know how to dance, so maybe we can just stand near each other and talk awkwardly.”

I do just wish there was more, like, distinction between some of the other characters. The main cast came through pretty clear (with the love interest maybe being the one exception because he was all other the place For Reasons) but some of the secondary/tertiary characters felt a little lumped in together/silly and same-y, and considering some of their roles I don’t think it made sense. But that’s a fairly picky thing to pick at considering, like, this whole book was just.. strange compulsively funny readable strange nonsense.

Everything is a life lesson. Like these invitations from potential suitors.”
Your segue was clunky and I am embarassed for you.”

Which is why I’m not rating it because where would I even begin.

I’ve just had the most wonderful idea.”
Uh oh. Hold on to it. I have a feeling those are a rarity.

It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s pervy AF, it’s bizarre, crude, hella queer, occasionally annoying or frustrating, but also fun. This somehow manages to be a light fantasy, and also sort’ve a parody, while still being fantastical and questy and destiny.. -y. If that sounds like your cup of acid trip, definitely pick this up. For all that there’s a significant page count, I don’t think this’ll bore you, just bewilder you, but you’ll probably still find yourself laughing along. And if you come out of this story not loving Gary? We need to talk.

PAROUSIA by Laura Lascarso

After months of imprisonment, Vincent is struggling to adapt to the outside world. His body and mind are strangers to him, and Henri, his one constant his entire life, doesn’t understand the man he’s become.

Henri wants Vincent to take time to heal, but the revolution is rapidly unfolding with the thirteen tribes amassing at their doorstep to plot the Imperium—and Azrael’s—demise. Vincent gets swept up in the conflict and in doing so, puts himself in harm’s way. Parousia be damned, Henri will not to allow Vincent to become a martyr for the cause.

With his demoness mother at the helm of their campaign, Vincent must battle Lena’s ambitions and the other tribes’ gambits to usurp power if their revolution is to be successful. But he’ll never succeed with Henri obstructing him at every turn.

Both men are in love and at war with each other, but only one of them can rule.

Parousia is the final installment of the Mortal and Divine trilogy. Revenge never tasted so sweet, or so bloody.


Title : Parousia
Author : Laura Lascarso
Series : Mortal and Divine (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 390
Genre : paranormal romance / LGBTQIA+ romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : February 7, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Listen. I am hella privileged to be one of the beta-ish readers for these books so it’s impossible to say that I am totally unbiased about this world after being in it for so long.

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. This finale I think maybe dialed it up a notch or two from book two but book one definitely takes the cake for darkest. So hopefully that reassures anyone who starts into this world but wonders where it might go.

That said, seeing as this is a finale, am I going to spoil anything? Hahah nope. Will I tease? Yes. The steam will have you reaching for a fan, the soft moments will have you melting, the stakes will have you clutching for a hand hold, and the snark will definitely inspire a laugh or three.

Lascarso has created a complex mythology and many an intrigue and this final book in the Mortal and Divine world really fleshes out the bigger picture of the whole conflict that has been building since the start.

But at it’s core this really is just about two souls and the lengths they would go for each other — the sacrifices, yes, but also promises they break, thinking only to protect. These two are such a perfect fit but not seamless, very much their own part of the tapestry, and their battles on the grand scale never precludes them from battling each other, and sometimes that means crossing lines, making mistakes.. and it’s such a real evolution, a give and take, and I loved the dynamic, especially when it wasn’t perfect.

This has been such a great ride and while I’m sad it’s over I can’t wait to see where Lascarso will go next.

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

WHAT BIG TEETH by Rose Szabo

MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN MEETS THE ADDAMS FAMILY IN THIS HAUNTING STORY OF ONE GIRL’S ATTEMPT TO RECONNECT WITH HER MONSTROUS FAMILY.

Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid’s boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather’s tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. And she remembers the way they looked at her, like she was the freak. 

When Eleanor finally finds the courage to confront her family and return to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. “I read this in the cards,” her grandmother tells her. However, Grandma Persephone doesn’t see all, for just as Eleanor is beginning to readjust to the life she always longed for, a strange and sudden death rocks the family, leaving Eleanor to manage this difficult new dynamic without help. 

In order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother, Grandmere, from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone to confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere-and herself.


Title : What Big Teeth
Author : Rose Szabo
Format : eARC
Page Count : 226
Genre : YA fantasy/paranormal thriller
Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date : February 2, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

This wasn’t quite what I was expecting after being hooked by that absolutely incredible cover and then, very quickly after, by the pitch.

I honestly don’t quite know what this was. It’s such a hodge podge of so many things, and almost feels like twelve different stories in one — a bizarre mix of everything in the pantry plus the kitchen sink — and so sometimes I would love a taste, other times I would wonder who thought to mix such things together and why, and then even still I would just be hunting for the other shoe before it could drop.. even though I thought I was already wearing both shoes. Does any of this make sense? Likely not. Probably because of so many mixed metaphors. But it feels fitting.

I was tempted to leave this unrated because I truly don’t know how to feel about this but ultimately even considering the bits I liked, it all just feels like.. not cohesive? Weirdly stitched together? Better yet.. you know that feeling you get when your long sleeved shirt is bunched up high on your arm under your hoodie? The shirt is comfortable, the sweatshirt even moreso, but you are highly uncomfortable anyway. That’s maybe the best I can do. Separately everything about this, on its own, and maybe even in some combinations, are things I like. All together? Bizarre. Strange. Weird. Pick a synonym.

Having said that, there is definitely going to be an audience for this. I read this two months early and I already see a lot of advance praise for it. So take this review, as always, with a grain o’salt.

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

THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love. 


Title : The Kiss of Deception
Author : Mary E. Pearson
Series : The Remnant Chronicles (book one)
Format : physical
Page Count : 489
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Henry Holt
Release Date : July 8, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

Starting off the year strong with not only a reread but a reread to kick off completing a series that has contributed to an unread-book-three-on-my-shelves problem. All this will also determine if said series is still worth having a spot on my shelf! YA hardbacks take up precious real estate, yo.

But anyway. Was this as good as I remembered it being? No. But it kept me turning pages. And the best part was seeing Lia’s transformation. Sure, much of that is due to the circumstances of hardship and loss but she starts the book running away from an arranged marriage to someone who could not be bothered to see her as a person. Not to mention her conflicted feelings over her role in the greater tradition of being a First Daughter and the gift that comes with that.

The fun in the telling of the story after that fact is she’s then caught in the orbit of two men; one of whom is the prince she was to marry and the other an assassin from another region who is to kill her. And as readers we don’t know which POV is which. It’s pretty clever storytelling and definitely keeps you turning pages. That said, the most enjoyable part of the story is definitely closer to the end when.. well, I’m not going to tell you, of course.

Because of the way the story is told, clever though it is, even with brief glimpses into other POVs, they don’t feel as strong. That said, I have vague recollections that book two changes that but I could be wrong and maybe it’s only wishful thinking. One POV in particular needs improvement as it was one of the main reasons I realize this is a little weaker than I think it otherwise should have been. That and, like, some of the more typically YA romance elements that I don’t really get on with anymore. But that’s because I’m old. Also 2014 feels like a long time ago, particularly considering the last twelve months have actually been twelve years, so.

I’m looking forward to the new direction, and setting! and stakes!, in book two. And I’m definitely excited to see Lia kick more ass. Because while there are little sprinklings of teasing around the worldbuilding and history, and where it seems to be heading is very interesting, the princess is definitely my favourite part of this world. So far.

WINTERKEEP by Kristin Cashore – Hollis’ review!

Four years after Bitterblue left off, a new land has been discovered to the east: Torla; and the closest nation to Monsea is Winterkeep. Winterkeep is a land of miracles, a democratic republic run by people who like each other, where people speak to telepathic sea creatures, adopt telepathic foxes as pets, and fly across the sky in ships attached to balloons.

But when Bitterblue’s envoys to Winterkeep drown under suspicious circumstances, she and Giddon and her half sister, Hava, set off to discover the truth–putting both Bitterblue’s life and Giddon’s heart to the test when Bitterbue is kidnapped. Giddon believes she has drowned, leaving him and Hava to solve the mystery of what’s wrong in Winterkeep.

Lovisa Cavenda is the teenage daughter of a powerful Scholar and Industrialist (the opposing governing parties) with a fire inside her that is always hungry, always just nearly about to make something happen. She is the key to everything, but only if she can figure out what’s going on before anyone else, and only if she’s willing to transcend the person she’s been all her life.


Title : Winterkeep
Author : Kristin Cashore
Series : Graceling Realm (book four)
Format : eARC/paperback
Page Count : 528
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Dial Books
Release Date : January 19, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5 


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

Woe, for I am bummed.

Lets start with the good : where this book really shines is the worldbuilding. While the world had expanned a time or two in the first three books of the Graceling Realm series, it goes even further in Winterkeep. That plus the in-book passage of time, and new problems, is what keeps this series feeling fresh and, particularly in the case of coming back to a series so many years after publishing what seemed to be the final book, makes it feel less like the cash grab we so often see. But that said..

Maybe had I not just reread the first three books I wouldn’t have noticed as much (though that isn’t to say I would’ve liked it any more than I did..) but none of the recurring characters felt true to form. Giddon, in particular, felt strange as if he didn’t quite fit into the shape he’d once been formed of, and Bitterblue.. I don’t know. She was a harder character to like throughout the series but she was a character you could respect, to sympathize with, and yet she also felt a little untethered in this book, too. As for the new introductions? Didn’t like a single one.

The plot itself felt disjointed but I’m used to Cashore stringing us along on a wild ride that only starts to make sense near the end, but this one? I don’t know. Basically everything from the characters to their motivations, and how it drove the plot and their machinations, nothing really felt all that solid. I both appreciated and yet hated the inclusion of yet another twisty and toxic emotional dynamic, because it’s definitely important to shed light on and have young readers educated on how it’s not acceptable, but combined with the fact that I wasn’t enjoying the story, or the character who took the brunt of it all? Yeah, it was tough.

I think there was potential here, for sure, and I definitely maybe had too high a set of expectations after revisiting and rediscovering my love for books one to three all over again, but.. this just didn’t work for me. Not as a fan of the series or as just a reader of fantasy. I couldn’t love it, could barely like it, and it seemed to take me way too long to get through. I’m sad.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who hasn’t read already the Graceling Realm books but I would also caution fans to lower their expectations. I have no idea if this is kicking out even more books to come in this world but, despite how I feel about this one, I would still read more.

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


WINTERKEEP by Kristin Cashore – Micky’s review

Four years after Bitterblue left off, a new land has been discovered to the east: Torla; and the closest nation to Monsea is Winterkeep. Winterkeep is a land of miracles, a democratic republic run by people who like each other, where people speak to telepathic sea creatures, adopt telepathic foxes as pets, and fly across the sky in ships attached to balloons.

But when Bitterblue’s envoys to Winterkeep drown under suspicious circumstances, she and Giddon and her half sister, Hava, set off to discover the truth–putting both Bitterblue’s life and Giddon’s heart to the test when Bitterbue is kidnapped. Giddon believes she has drowned, leaving him and Hava to solve the mystery of what’s wrong in Winterkeep.

Lovisa Cavenda is the teenage daughter of a powerful Scholar and Industrialist (the opposing governing parties) with a fire inside her that is always hungry, always just nearly about to make something happen. She is the key to everything, but only if she can figure out what’s going on before anyone else, and only if she’s willing to transcend the person she’s been all her life.


Title : Winterkeep
Author : Kristin Cashore
Series : Graceling Realm (book four)
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 528
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Gollancz
Release Date : January 19, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★. 5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

If you’re not familiar with this series, the Graceling realm has different lands, humans and creatures. Each book has completion but they all closely link to one another. They do need to be read in order to be enjoyed in the best way.

I was not done with Bitterblue at the end of the same named book and so when Winterkeep picked up her tale again alongside Giddon and Hava, I was pretty pleased. Winterkeep itself was a land of capitalism, supposed ethics but in reality, it was a place of few scruples. I might not have liked the land but I did like the worldbuilding. The characters were colourful and I had favourites like Lovisa and Ad Fox.

Talking of foxes and this cover, foxes are pretty pivotal to this story. I had a bit of love-hate-love relationship with these creature characters but they did grow on me. I liked the idea of the silbercrows and even the keeper became likeable after a difficult start. I love the way that the author introduces new lands, creatures and experiences in each book; it’s a wonderland.

As to some of our old Graceling realm friends, they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I don’t want to say why, but that premise is so poignant in this book. The feels I got from the characters that were apart were huge and I had stickies all over my paperback.

As they drank, Hava asked Arni so many questions that Giddon was able to retreat into a kind of stupor. Raise cup to face, tip liquid in. Think nothing, feel nothing.

The main and side characters were epic as always. Giddon and Hava had Banter for days. Giddon held my heart in this book. The villainous characters were very three dimensional, sly and sometimes appearing otherwise. I loved to hate these guys.

Winterkeep was a page turner with a storyline to keep you guessing. It had flow and pace that really worked for me. I loved the early tragedy (sicko) and how that played out into the rest of the story.

I’m so excited for fans to read this long awaited installment and I hope they love it like I did.

Thank you to @gollancz for the early review copy.

CRY WOLF by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton never thought anything could be harder than solving murders. Until he had to plan a wedding.

After taking down an old adversary, Agent Cooper Dayton of the Bureau of Special Investigations has earned a break. Not that planning a wedding to his sexy shifter partner, Oliver Park, is necessarily stress free, but it’s better than worrying about the ominous warning, delivered months ago, that Cooper’s life is in danger.

When he’s dragged to an event by his family, Cooper braces for an awkward evening, but instead finds himself in the middle of an ugly feud between Park’s ex and a rebel pack leader. What was supposed to be a quick outing turns into a full-blown murder investigation after the pack leader ends up dead, Park’s ex goes missing, and Cooper and Park are sent a series of disturbing wedding gifts that are somehow connected to it all.

The list of potential suspects is long, and with the bodies piling up, Cooper must turn to the one person he trusts the least: the villain he’s already put behind bars once and who has nothing to lose by lying and everything to gain if Cooper is out of the picture—for good. 


Title : Cry Wolf
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book five)
Format : eARC
Page Count :
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ urban fantasy/romance
Publisher : CarinaPress
Release Date : January 18, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, wait, is this not the finale of the series? Because that did not feel like one. And if it is.. how rUDE. I have so many questions. So, yeah, no, it’s not over. Nope.

Is everyone you’ve ever dated an asshole?
Maybe I have a type.

Coming back to the Big Bad Wolf world was such a delight. I was entertained pretty much from page one and this particular mystery was a strange doozy. I had no idea where anything was going until we were all finally looped in. But that was fine because all along the way we had plenty of Cooper and Park banter, hijinks, and steeeeam. Hoo boy, hi. I’ve definitely been away from romance for a while and now read two steamers back to back. Delicious.

You know, it’s never too late to call off this engagement. You’re a catch, you’ll find someone.
I was cursed by an old witch to find him charming.”
That’s some dark magic.”

What I constantly enjoy, and seem to mention in all my reviews, is how every book evolves this world. Not in that “oh look suddenly this is happening” feeling where something comes out of left field for a purely convenient reason but in this organic unspooling of a culture, a world, a people. And it actually gets called out in this installment in the best of ways, as if to acknowledge it for the readers, but in a perfectly fitting way for the characters, too. It keeps you wanting to read more, not just for more of the characters, but in order to discover more and what might be awaiting both readers and characters alike.

Yes, we’ve met.
A technically true statement, if characteristically lacking in flair. Antony and Cleopatra met. Romeo and Juliet met. It’s what happened after that’s become the stuff of legends.
This day is certainly shaping up to be a tragedy, so maybe you’re on to someting.”

There’s really not much to say about a book this far into a series, even if it isn’t the finale, so suffice it to say if you’re needing paranormal romance/urban fantasy in your life and particularly a queer series? You absolutely need to give this one a go. It’s funny, it’s fresh, and the characters are complex and yet self-aware, or self-improving, and these two leads are made of wonky edges that fit together so beautifully.

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