THE GUY ON THE RIGHT by Kate Stewart

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

Not cool, Mom.

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

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

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

Everything is perfect.

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

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

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

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


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

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .25


Hollis’ 4.25 star review

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

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

I’m so glad I reached for this.

I’ve got mabs.”
Mabs?
Maybe abs?

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

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

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

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

Also, that cover? So perfect with context.

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

HOUSE OF EARTH AND BLOOD by Sarah J. Maas — excerpt review!

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.


Title : House of Blood and Earth
Author : Sarah J. Maas
Series : Crescent City (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : five chapter excerpt
Genre : NA fantasy
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date : March 3, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

I’ll be honest, I don’t know why I clicked on this excerpt. I’m certainly not shy about not being much of a fan of this author and her work. But it seemed like a low-investment peek into what this book, the first of Maas’ new adult series, would be like. And overwhelmingly, I feel mostly ambivalence with a side of confusion. There’s a lot of world-building, which is helped a bit by a glossary of terms near the beginning so, thank you for that, and a set-up which I won’t say completely lost me but I definitely know I was just kind of reading along even if I wasn’t 100% sure of references or meaning to things.

As for the characters, there was a lot of time spent setting up an existing friend group and dynamic, even a possible romance, before things go sideways right at the end of this teaser. Having not refamiliarized myself with the synopsis before diving in, I’m not sure where things might go after this point (beyond the obvious vengeance questing), but I also find myself curious enough to.. maybe.. pick this up and read on. Which I guess means the tease was a success. My expectations are pretty low, and certain things felt very in line with the Maas-elements I don’t normally like (specifically in her characters), and I actually felt the writing of this far less pretty and compulsive than her other works, but.. I guess we’ll see.

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

THE PLAY by Elle Kennedy

What I learned after last year’s distractions cost my hockey team our entire season? No more screwing up. No more screwing, period. As the new team captain, I need a new philosophy: hockey and school now, women later. Which means that I, Hunter Davenport, am officially going celibate…no matter how hard that makes things.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that says I can’t be friendswith a woman. And I won’t lie—my new classmate Demi Davis is one cool chick. Her smart mouth is hot as hell, and so is the rest of her, but the fact that she’s got a boyfriend eliminates the temptation to touch her.

Except three months into our friendship, Demi is single and looking for a rebound.

And she’s making a play for me.

Avoiding her is impossible. We’re paired up on a yearlong school project, but I’m confident I can resist her. We’d never work, anyway. Our backgrounds are too different, our goals aren’t aligned, and her parents hate my guts.

Hooking up is a very bad idea. Now I just have to convince my body—and my heart.


Title : The Play
Author : Elle Kennedy
Series : Briar U (book three)
Format : eRC
Page Count : 422
Genre : NA contemporary romance
Publisher : Elle Kennedy Inc.
Release Date : October 7, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Okay, it’s official. I’m tapping out of this series. I’ve clearly outgrown it or maybe it’s just the genre itself. I don’t know. I love hockey romances, enjoy ensemble casts that lean heavily on hijinks as the comic relief, but while I did recently reread (and love, again) the series that spawned this one, nothing since THE CHASE has worked. So I guess that was the fluke.

This is everything that you would expect it to be, both as a fan and from what it says on the box. It’s got a reformed playboy who meets a girl he has to remain platonic with both because of her boyfriend and his vow of celibacy — a vow he’s taken in order to do right by his team, to succeed and lead sans distractions, and atone for his previous mistakes. But then the boyfriend goes buh-bye, girl wants a rebound, so, you see where this is going.

I didn’t love Hunter or Demi, but neither of them annoyed me the way Hollis and Rupi annoyed me in the background of THE RISK. Even though they were both present in this one. Again. Sigh.

The conflicts were fairly predictable, the speed bumps, too, and honestly everything was pretty standard. No surprises, no real joy, no real laughs, either. Definitely sucks to have to tap out but it’s not worth reading on when it’s doing both the author and me as both a reader and longtime fan a disservice.

So, yes, I think this will satisfy and entertain many. But just like in book two, I’m not one of them. In which case, please take this feedback with the tiniest grain of salt. As always.

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

AMERICAN ROYALS by Katharine McGee

What if America had a royal family? If you can’t get enough of Harry and Meghan or Kate and William, meet American princesses Beatrice and Samantha.

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. 
Two girls vying for the prince’s heart. 
This is the story of the American royals.

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren’t just any royals. They’re American. And their country was born of rebellion.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

The duty. The intrigue. The Crown. New York Times bestselling author Katharine McGee imagines an alternate version of the modern world, one where the glittering age of monarchies has not yet faded–and where love is still powerful enough to change the course of history.


Title : American Royals
Author : Katharine McGee
Series : American Royals (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : NA alt-history contemporary
Publisher : Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

AMERICAN ROYALS was a concept I was excited about because, for all the royalty romances out there, we’ve never had one that reimagined, and rewrote, American history to fashion them with royalty (or at least I’ve never seen/read one!). Beyond that, however, I didn’t really know what to expect. My guess was drama, politics, and many things in between.

It’s definitely drama. Politics, not so much. This is all drama. It’s like Gossip Girl on steroids in some ways, I think. Maybe. I only watched like two seasons of that and it was a long time ago and okay maybe I should move away from this comparison.

Princess Beatrice is the eldest, the heir, set to become the country’s first Queen. The laws have changed and the monarchy is looking to be more progressive in regards to inheritance with women not being passed over for just having the bad luck to be born first but female. Yay! But only in that one way. Welp. Commoners are still not eligible for marriage and lo and behold isn’t that who Beatrice finds herself falling in love with? All despite trying to still adhere to the law, to tradition, and find herself an actual suitable match her parents, and the country, will approve of.

Then there’s her siblings, twins Samantha and Jefferson. They have a commoner friend, Nina, with whom they grew up with. Who is trying to keep the royal and regular sides of her life separate. To distance herself from the twins after an event that happened the night they graduated high school. 

Sam, who is everything Beatrice isn’t, who is directionless, troublesome, and Jeff who is beloved by all. And who dumped his longterm girlfriend, Daphne, even though she has no intention of staying dumped.

This book is a lot. I thought I was actually enjoying it at first, despite some of the nastier drama, but honestly I think I kept expecting something of this book that it wasn’t. And that’s on me. I was feeling leftover heartwarming RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE feelings and I thought this was going to be more rom-com, maybe, or just.. fuzzier. But it’s not.

AMERICAN ROYALS is definitely more in line with a soap opera, or reality shows (no shade! but I hate them), while still being clever enough to be riddled with the strangeness of the reimagined history, historical figures, and different way of life. As weird as it was, I sorta liked it, but it might be weirder for actual Americans who actually care, or are patriotic, about it all. I think this book will be a love or a hate; you’ll love the drama or you won’t, you’ll love the alternate universe feel or you won’t. And while I definitely didn’t hate it, I just didn’t love it. 

I couldn’t find myself feeling much for any of the characters or their various plights or plots; I never lost myself in this story or world, I was always keenly aware I was just reading about them. The only one who got much of a reaction out of me was Daphne. At first I just hated her, felt icky about her, but more and more I had to kind of admire her. Not for good reasons. But hey, at least she inspired a reaction.

I might read on, as it’s definitely not a standalone, but I’m not sure I’ll be clamouring for the sequel with the kind of curiosity I had about its predecessor. Mostly I’m just hoping it’s not a trilogy and everything wraps up in two books. Guess we’ll find out.

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

GODSGRAVE by Jay Kristoff – double review!

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

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


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

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

3.5 – 4 stars

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

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

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

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

Holter Graham’s narration remained spectacular.