THE FOXHOLE COURT by Nora Sakavic

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.


Title : The Foxhole Court
Author : Nora Sakavic
Series : All For The Game #1
Format : e-book
Page Count : 237
Genre : NA Sports Fiction (no romance)
Publisher : Self published
Release Date : July 30, 2013

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

3.5 stars

Headlines:
Buckle up for the ride
More questions than answers
Brutal and raw

I don’t even know how to process my feelings on this one. It was a completely wild ride and although I’d heard ‘things’ about this book, nothing prepared me for the raw and brutal story. It was violent, abusive and certainly a strange way to envisage any sporting team. There are simply so many triggers in this book, so go look for those before reading if you need to.

Despite my reservations about what I found between these pages, there was much to draw me in. Neil as an MC was such a compelling character, all his past, present and potential future had you literally willing things to work out for him. What Neil found with the foxes was not pleasant with bullying to a degree that was unfathomable, hazing like could not be believed, to the point that I hate-read one chapter; it was tough reading.

Yet, saying all that, I am invested in this odd and messed up crew. The backstories were particularly confusing relating to Neil/Kevin/Riko and their familial connections and businesses. I didn’t really find myself enlightened by the end but that’s also a part of why I’m invested. I pretty much hate Andrew, I don’t understand his illness, I don’t understand how his psyche works and I don’t understand his connection with Kevin. I find myself drawn to Kevin and really want to know more about him.

Important note: I have deducted half a star from this read because the author used the ‘r’ word twice in a totally unnecessary, off the cuff way. There really is not any necessary use of this word which should be expunged from the vocabulary of all folks. It is utterly disrespectful to any person with learning difficulties or disabilities.

Stray into this series if you are brave enough. I’m not a brave reader but I find myself here anyway.

Thank you lovely Tara for holding my hand.

ONE LAST STOP by Casey McQuiston – double review!

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.


Title : One Last Stop
Author : Casey McQuiston
Format : eARC/Audio
Narrator : Natalie Naudus
Page Count : 432/12 hours 10 minutes
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ romance / speculative (sci-fi?) fiction
Publisher : St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date : June 1, 2021

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

It’s the biggest question of them all, isn’t it : is One Last Stop better than Red, White & Royal Blue? Personally, for me, no. But that isn’t a bad thing; and nor can one be compared to the other, anyway. One was magic for me and one has magic.

You are projecting so many feelings right now, I can’t believe your skin’s still on.
I’m repressing it!
I can see how you would think that is what you’re doing.

Right out the gate I have to say : I absolutely loved the ensemble of friends/found family in this book. McQuiston does this so well and this one in particular was so colourful and lovely. If that’s what you want in your books, or that’s what you need, you will love it here. Truly. And, in general, this book was so vibrant. The people, the places, the parties, everything was bright. I could picture it all. It’s a great feeling to have something you’re reading, particularly something so inclusive and welcoming and warm, spinning out so vividly in your brain.

Maybe you’re meant to be. Love at first sight. It happened to me.
I don’t accept that as a hypothesis.”
That’s because you’re a Virgo.”
I thought you said virginity was a construct.
A Virgo, you fucking Virgo nightmare. All this, and you still don’t believe in things. Typical Virgo bullshit.”

While I definitely felt the connection between our main lovebirds, I don’t know if I ever fell in love with them. Maybe Jane more than August but still. I was invested in (most of) their adventures, their struggle, delighted by their mix of soft tentative chaotic flirtations to their outright horny happiness, but.. this book isn’t short and sometimes, often in scenes just between the two of them, it felt long. I would get distracted by the ensemble but then it would kind hit home that it felt like I was reading about this forever.

When you spend your whole life alone, it’s incredibly appealing to move somewhere big enough to get lost in, where being alone looks like a choice.

There is an inherent magic to this whole story (I’ll direct you to the Kate & Leopold pitch for an idea of how that looks) and an additional element is there is layer upon layer of coincidences. Some are sweet, some are strange, others are outrageous. There is much disbelief to suspend (obviously, being as someone is out of time and all..) but just bear that in mind. It often worked but.. not always.

Living with a psychic is a pain in the ass.

Beyond the magic, beyond the romance, the heart of One Last Stop felt like a tribute to queer communities, past and present. It felt like McQuiston used Jane as a way to shine light on where things were in the seventies to how they are now. The Q train might have been what anchored this story together but an equally important anchor were queer lives — their liberties, their sacrifices, their pain, their losses, and their triumps. Their right to be.

Remember the rules. Number one —
Us versus everyone.”
And number two —
If they’re gonna kill you, get their DNA under your fingernails.

Overall this was pretty great. I think so many of you are going to love it. Will I hold it in my heart the way I do RWRB? No — and, in fact, months later as I repost this for release day, I realize I don’t think I’ve even thought of it since; the good parts are good, the long parts? Long! This is maybe more of a 3.5 but I’m not going to downgrade. Just bear that in mind. For me, it’s shiny and lovely in the moment but the longterm impact? Little to none, especially vs the author’s debut. But I still recommend you pick it up.

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


Micky’s 3 star review (rounded up)

Headlines:
From odd to quirky
MCs to invest in
Never getting a subway ride again

One Last Stop was very different to my expectations, so much so, this non-blurber went back to look at the blurb and that helped to be honest. This story is LGBTQ+/speculative fiction with a slice of time slip. All this is in the blurb, so no spoilers here.

Things I liked about this book were the two main characters, August and Jane. They stole the show and they were meant to, I’m sure. Both these characters were not immediately lovable but I did grow to like them more and more as the story evolved. Jane in particular was a character slowly revealed.

The story was…odd, it took me ages to get on board with the whole premise for what was going on and even then, it was a bit wacky for my taste. The side characters were just okay for me when I think readers are supposed to love this crew of flatmates and co-workers; I just didn’t. I did enjoy the finale of the story but it felt like a long story to get there. However, I was cheering for this couple.

The narration was a good, solid capture of August’s POV.

Thank you to the publisher and LibroFM for the early review copies.

ROYALLY YOURS by Emma Chase

Princess Lenora Celeste Beatrice Arabella Pembrook had an unusual childhood. She was raised to be a Queen—the first Queen of Wessco.

It’s a big deal.

When she’s crowned at just nineteen, the beautiful young monarch is prepared to rule. She’s charming, clever, confident and cunning.

What she isn’t… is married.

It’s her advising council’s first priority. It’s what Parliament is demanding, and what her people want.

Lenora has no desire to tie herself to a man—particularly one who only wants her for her crown. But compromises must be made and royals must do their duty.

Even Queens. Especially them.

**

Years ago, Edward Langdon Richard Dorian Rourke, walked away from his title and country. Now he’s an adventurer—climbing mountains, exploring jungles, going wherever he wants, when he wants—until family devotion brings him home.

And a sacred promise keeps him there.

To Edward, the haughty, guarded little Queen is intriguing, infuriating…and utterly captivating. Wanting her just might drive him mad—or become his greatest adventure.

**

Within the cold, stone walls of the royal palace—mistrust threatens, wills clash, and an undeniable, passionate love will change the future of the monarchy forever.

Every dynasty has a beginning. Every legend starts with a story.

This is theirs.


Title : Royally Yours
Author : Emma Chase
Series : Royally (book four)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 304
Genre : NA romance
Publisher : Emma Chase LLC
Release Date : Octobe 29, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Of all the books in this series, this is not the one I thought I would love. I kinda thought this would be a throwaway addition of the Royally world and wow was that a bad assumption. Hello you, I am ass.

This story is the prequel of the series, chronicling Queen Lenora, the first Queen of Wessco, and the heartbreak and victories that became the foundations of her life. Oh yeah and this book made me cry at least twice. Possibly thrice.

The emotional beats of this installment are so good, without being overblown, and I think this was actually the most solid romance of the series, too. Almost everything felt pitch perfect, though, yes, maybe a bump or two along the way but hey, no road is totally smooth. I’m willing to acknowledge but don’t quite hold those bumps against the overall story.

If anyone who loved, or even just enjoyed, this world hasn’t read this final (?) installment, I would highly recommend it. It even kind of works great just as a standalone. Though you might find yourself hooked and want to backtrack through the rest.

I’m so delighted to have put this on my Series to Finish in 2021 list because I’m not only glad to put this series to bed, finally, after all this time, but I’m so so happy it also ended on a good note. 

ROYALLY ENDOWED by Emma Chase

Logan St. James is a smoldering, sexy beast. Sure, he can be a little broody at times—but Ellie Hammond’s willing to overlook that. Because, have you seen him?? 

Sexy. As. Hell. 

And Ellie’s perky enough for both of them.

For years, she’s had a crush on the intense, gorgeous royal security guard—but she doesn’t think he ever saw her, not really. 

To Logan, Ellie was just part of the job—a relative of the royal family he’d sworn to protect. Now, at 22 years old and fresh out of college, she’s determined to put aside her X-rated dreams of pat-downs and pillow talk, and find a real life happily ever after. 

The Queen of Wessco encourages Ellie to follow in her sister’s footsteps and settle down with a prince of her own. Or a duke, a marquis…a viscount would also do nicely. 

But in the pursuit of a fairy tale ending, Ellie learns that the sweetest crushes can be the hardest to let go.
***
Logan St. James grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, in a family on the wrong side of the law. But these days, he covers his tattoos and scars with a respectable suit. He’s handsome, loyal, brave, skilled with his hands and…other body parts. 

Any woman would be proud to call him hers. 

But there’s only one woman he wants. 

For years he’s watched over her, protected her, held her hair back when she was sick, taught her how to throw a punch, and spot a liar.

He dreams of her. Would lay down his life for her. 

But beautiful Ellie Hammond’s off-limits. 

Everybody knows the bodyguard rules: Never lose focus, never let them out of your sight, and never, ever fall in love


Title : Royally Endowed
Author : Emma Chase
Series : Royally (book three)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 275
Genre : NA romance
Publisher : Emma Chase LLC
Release Date : August 14, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

In the moment, after finishing this, I thought it might be my favourite of the series (so far). But after being distracted before I could actually write out my thoughts, and with a little more time to think on it, I’m not going to round up on this one.

While I question some of the bits of this plot, I do have to say, as far as laying groundwork for a long slow-buid, this one definitely did do that, unlike book two. But where I enjoyed the background noise of the plot in book two, this one did follow somewhat typically cliché bodyguard tropes. Which, I mean, nothing wrong with that. But one particular element of said trope was kind of a there-and-gone bit of conflict and in the grand scheme of things had all the lasting power of something.. well, there-and-gone. It either should’ve been a bigger problem, with more fallout, or lifted from the page completely.

But anyway.

My other complaint would be that as much as I liked Ellie, and thought she was fun, Chase kind of did her a disservice by making her painfully horribly stupid at times. Granted, it was done when the character was still young-ish but still.. wow, it hurt. I don’t think I had any real complaints about Logan except, like another mentioned bit of the plot doing little to nothing, inserting his family into the story was also a non-event. I think the author tried to dot too many i’s and cross too many t’s in this one. This is where, in hindsight, it felt a bit messy.

But, again, as it is with most of these, it was a bit of quick sexy low-angst kind of fun and in true end of the series fashion (book four is a prequel, from what I could tell from just the name in the synopsis), it worked as a big come together kind of wrap up, catching us up all the events from as far back as book one background all the way to “present day”, so we got to see all the couples together. And I’m a sucker for an ensemble, so.

I’ll be dipping into the little novella, even though it’s marked 4.5, to get a bit of a HEA timejump from book two’s couple and then I’ll wrap this series with Royally Yours tomorrow and call time on yet another unfinished series. Once again, these won’t be a favourite, but I’m not mad to have spent time with them.

ROYALLY MATCHED by Emma Chase

Some men are born responsible, some men have responsibility thrust upon them. Henry John Edgar Thomas Pembrook, Prince of Wessco, just got the motherlode of all responsibility dumped in his regal lap.

He’s not handling it well.

Hoping to help her grandson to rise to the occasion, Queen Lenora agrees to give him “space”—but while the Queen’s away, the Prince will play. After a chance meeting with an American television producer, Henry finally makes a decision all on his own:

Welcome to Matched: Royal Edition.

A reality TV dating game show featuring twenty of the world’s most beautiful blue bloods gathered in the same castle. Only one will win the diamond tiara, only one will capture the handsome prince’s heart.

While Henry revels in the sexy, raunchy antics of the contestants as they fight, literally, for his affection, it’s the quiet, bespectacled girl in the corner—with the voice of an angel and a body that would tempt a saint—who catches his eye.

The more Henry gets to know Sarah Mirabelle Zinnia Von Titebottum, the more enamored he becomes of her simple beauty, her strength, her kind spirit… and her naughty sense of humor.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day—and irresponsible royals aren’t reformed overnight.

As he endeavors to right his wrongs, old words take on whole new meanings for the dashing Prince. Words like, Duty, Honor and most of all—Love. 


Title : Royally Matched
Author : Emma Chase
Series : Royally (book two)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 276
Genre : NA romance
Publisher : Emma Chase LLC
Release Date : February 21, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Here it is, the start of another series to knock off my list and complete as per an earlier blog post. Though I had ended up rereading books one and two to complete the first series I tackled, I didn’t bother rereading book one in the Royally series as, while events carry over, we pick up with new characters. I didn’t really think I needed the details, just the broad strokes of what came before; and that much at least I did remember. Not that I even needed to as much of it was rehashed. Contemporaries are good like that!

This was really fun though. It didn’t quite warrant very high marks as I did feel some of the relationship moved quite fast, even if it did start with a decent amount of friendly foundation, but I did have a good time. It was quite raunchy, actually, and if book one was like that, well, I totally forgot. But it was definitely steamy, with some good emotional strings being plucked along the way, and actually the whole Bachelor-style reality show happening in the wings was pretty fun. I liked how that was done without any really petty or catty behaviour. We love to see it!

One of my nittier picky things was definitely the grand gesture (we hates them, precious) but that’s always a personal pet peeve thing for me so it’s not the fault of the book. But there was one shithead in this book, who granted didn’t get much page time, but I kind of wish we’d seen some fallout. There was something alluded to that may have happened in book one (sigh, this is why I generally reread, guess my opening paragraph was a little bit “spoke too soon..”) and I think because of that something more should’ve happened. Unless we’ll see him in future books? Hard to say.

Overall though we had a really well rounded and fabulous cast. I definitely want to see more of some of these periphery characters. I’m hoping they crop up in future books. I guess I’ll find out soon as, surprising no one, I will likely be knocking the rest of these out in short order.

If you’re looking for a quick but fun, and sexy, romance with a royal edge, you could definitely do a lot worse than these!

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!

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

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

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


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

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

3.5 – 4 stars

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

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

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

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

Holter Graham’s narration remained spectacular.

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