WRAPPED UP IN YOU by Talia Hibbert

William Reid is nothing special, except for his billion-dollar acting career and his, you know, face. (Apparently, it’s a good one.) Winning ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ was nice, but this Christmas, he has more important goals in mind… like finally winning over his best friend’s little sister, the super-smart and kinda-scary Abbie Farrell.

When a blizzard leaves Will and Abbie alone at Grandma Farrell’s house (if bunking with 27 pets counts as ‘alone’), it’s the perfect opportunity to pull off a Christmas miracle. Convincing clever, frosty Abbie to give Will a chance will take more than mistletoe, but hiding his lifelong crush on her is no longer an option.


Title : Wrapped Up In You
Author : Talia Hibbert
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 127
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Kobo Originals
Release Date : November 16, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

What a perfectly timed addition to my library’s Recently Added section. Even better it was available for immediate reading which I did. Immediately. And in one sitting. Which was kind of a no brainer as it was a short little novella full of holiday cheer, angst, and romance.

I’ll admit, this time, Hibbert’s male love interest won the game. The show. My heart. A Chris Evan’s-ish kind of character, William grew up next door to Abbie but upon reaching young adulthood went to Hollywood to became an actor. And he became quite successful, actually. He is a bit of a himbo and honestly that just adds to his appeal. An appeal that was already a lot considering his intense and enduring, but patient, love for Abbie.

Abbie meanwhile has been through some stuff. She’s also not the biggest fan of Christmas. So when her longtime friend, who she’s harboured complex but impossible feelings for, suddenly reveals all on Christmas? What’s a girl to do but deny deny deny.

Anyway, I won’t go into any more detail, not that it’s hard to follow along where things go next, but. For such a short story, this was eMOTIONAL. There was a gorgeous scene between Abbie and her twin brother that just.. ugh, things got blurry. But also every confession, every hard-won exchange of feelings between the two leads, all the realness and trauma and patience was just.. gah.

I wish I could’ve had this in long novel form but even in it’s shorter span it was still delightful. I do think, though, it would have a higher rating from me had some of the issues been.. well, more of an issue, to warrant the angst. Or at least had more time to breathe? I don’t know quite how to describe it. But also, Will’s childhood? That little bit of exposition? Oh my god, I desperately want it.

Nevertheless, Hibbert rarely stumbles and this certainly isn’t one of them. Definitely a must for the season.

FATED BLADES by Ilona Andrews

An uneasy alliance between warring families gets heated in this otherworldly novella from bestselling author Ilona Andrews.

At first glance, the planet Rada seems like a lush paradise. But the ruling families, all boasting genetically enhanced abilities, are in constant competition for power―and none more so than the Adlers and the Baenas. For generations, the powerful families have pushed and pulled each other in a dance for dominance.

Until a catastrophic betrayal from within changes everything.

Now, deadly, disciplined, and solitary leaders Ramona Adler and Matias Baena must put aside their enmity and work together in secret to prevent sinister forces from exploiting universe-altering technology. Expecting to suffer through their uneasy alliance, Ramona and Matias instead discover that they understand each other as no one in their families can―and that their combined skills may eclipse the risks of their forbidden alliance.

As the two warriors risk their lives to save their families, they must decide whether to resist or embrace the passion simmering between them. For now, the dance between their families continues―but just one misstep could spell the end of them both. 


Title : Fated Blades
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Kinsmen (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 222
Genre : fantasy sci-fi romance
Publisher : Montlake
Release Date : November 23, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★  


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, listen, this might not measure up to other books by these authors that I’ve given four stars to but it feels like it’s been a hundred years since they published a book (time has no meaning anymore) and I started having a good time almost immediately after starting it, and said good times pretty much didn’t stop, so. It gets a four.

He felt a sudden urge to do something dramatic and impressive. He needed to get ahold of himself.

I probably should’ve reread the preceding novellas to see if there was, in fact, any carry-over or easter eggs in this one because as far as I can remember the first two were completely unconnected, beyond being set in the same universe, and this one feels the same. I’ll leave it to my blog buddy to confirm this, though, as she’s read them more recently than me.

All you really need to know is this is Andrews but sci-fi. The world, the hierarchies, it’s all pretty much explained in this novella so if you choose to start here, you aren’t going in with a loss of context. Everything relevant you need is here.

Am I seeing things? Clearly this is just a weirdly specific bad dream, one where two people who hate each other team up to bust into my office and destroy my prized furniture.

Oh, and also? It’s an enemies-to-lovers romance but more in the sense that the enmity is inherited, not personal, and they have to come together in an extreme situation when they are both, similarly, betrayed. The journey takes them through a reluctant teaming up, to respect, to.. well, more. Obviously.

If you like action scenes, if you like family politics, if you like snark and banter, if you like my-enemy-is-my-enemy-but-I’m-making-them-my-friend dynamics, and also if you can’t infer the other trope I won’t list by the title..? Well, just give it a think.

This is a very biased review because there are so few books by this duo I don’t enjoy and I would honestly read their grocery list and probably have a good time. And I make no apologies for it. If you haven’t yet joined the Andrews bandwagon, what are you waiting for?

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

ONCE MORE UPON A TIME by Roshani Chokshi

Once upon a dream, there was a prince named Ambrose
and a princess named Imelda who loved each other…
But alas, no more.
“What a witch takes, a witch does not give back!”
their friends and family warn.
They resign themselves to this loveless fate…
A year and a day pass.
And then their story truly begins…

Embark on a perilous journey with Imelda and Ambrose as they brave magical landscapes and enchanted creatures on their quest to reclaim their heart’s desire…But first they must remember what that is… Immerse yourself in the beauty of a highly unusual fairy tale by New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi.


Title : Once More Upon a Time
Author : Roshani Chokshi
Format : eARC
Page Count : 144
Genre : fantasy / fairytale retellings
Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date : October 5, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

So, silly me, I requested this thinking it was a full length adult romance novel and not a novella (though it is adult, I guess). That said, I have nothing against novellas at all and was happy to have something short to sneak in between reads.

This was a pretty standard unconventional fairytale in the sense that how they come together is standard but, unlike how most go, they are then broken up — while still being together. They go on a journey, with a few side quests, and along the way discover more about each other than they ever did before.

I think what I loved most about this, though, was their backstories. I would’ve read a whole book about their lives before this or, even, a full length that included said backstories and expanded on their adventures from this one.

It was cute, sometimes funny, a little silly, and sweet. If this had been longer, and more adult in the vein of the romance, I think I would’ve really loved it. That said, I would not discourage you from picking this up.

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

BLACKOUT by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon – double review

Six critically acclaimed, bestselling, and award-winning authors bring the glowing warmth and electricity of Black teen love to this interlinked novel of charming, hilarious, and heartwarming stories that shine a bright light through the dark.

A summer heatwave blankets New York City in darkness. But as the city is thrown into confusion, a different kind of electricity sparks…

A first meeting. 

Long-time friends. 

Bitter exes. 

And maybe the beginning of something new.

When the lights go out, people reveal hidden truths. Love blossoms, friendship transforms, and new possibilities take flight.

Beloved authors—Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon—celebrate the beauty of six couples and the unforgettable magic that can be found on a sweltering starry night in the city.


Title : Blackout
Author : Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon
Format : eBook (overdrive)/Paperback
Page Count : 256
Genre : contemporary / diverse reads
Publisher : Quill Tree Books/Electric Monkey Books
Release Date : June 22, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : unrated/3 stars


Hollis’ unrated review

I’m leaving this unrated and instead rating the stories separately with mini reviews.

Tiffany D Jackson’s story, The Long Walk, is the main driving force of these interconnected stories of Black kids during a city-wide blackout, with four parts that break up the anthology. This story focuses on a couple who have since broken up and both happen to arrive an internship there’s only one spot for. Before it can be resolved, the blackout hits. With nothing else to do, they agree to walk home together and, along the way, hash out their issues. This definitely got a bit overwrought at times, I’m mostly thinking of Act Three, and maybe I’m just used to Jackson’s more mature stories but this felt very.. young, on the childish end of YA, despite the fact that the characters were eighteen. And it’s such a bummer as I’ve loved so many stories from this author. But this one just didn’t do it. Two stars.

Mask Off by Nic Stone : a coming out/coming of age short between two boys who weren’t ever quite friends but were in each other’s orbit throughout the years. Until a queer masquerade party brings them together.. in a way. But it isn’t until they are stuck on the train together when the blackout hits that the masks (not literally!) come off. Honestly, this one was just.. fine. Nothing really remarkable. Two stars.

Made to Fit by Ashley Woodfolk : this short was set in an senior’s living facility, where two girls, one the granddaughter of a resident and the other, who visits the seniors with her therapy dog, meet. When a photo goes missing, the two girls search the home and, as they spend time together, sparks fly. This was a little too insta for me but it tied in with the theme of all the epic love stories being told around them. It was also a tiny bit repetitive RE the granddaughter’s sorta ex but it was cute. Three stars.

All the Great Love Stories.. and Dust by Dhonielle Clayton : hmm, sorta mixed feelings about this one. I love the idea of these two best friends with their history of bets combing through a library to find the greatest book of all time. She’s working up the courage to tell him how she feels and we get pieces of their history together; he’s got a revolving door of girlfriends, she never bothers. Does he feel for her what she feels for him? Again, love the concept, but some of this, despite being a novella, dragged out a bit. The pacing was a little off. But, still, it was cute. Three stars.

No Sleep Till Brooklyn by Angie Thomas : this short features a girl on a tour bus, on a school trip from Mississippi, struggling with feelings for her crush.. when she already has a boyfriend. I’m not going to say much more about this and risk spoiling it, because it didn’t end the way I expected, but the tie-in is that the driver is another character’s father and he may have accidentally gone off-route to drive them towards the block party happening in Brooklyn, where all the other characters we’ve met so far are also planning to attend. Four stars. And, in hindsight, though I loved Yoon’s writing best, this was my favourite story.

Seymour & Grace by Nicola Yoon : easily the best written of the bunch! And I enjoyed the story, too, even if it felt extra short. A girl is trying to find her way to the block party all the characters have made it to where she plans to confront her ex who dumped her because she’d “changed”. She ends up in a Ryde with someone listening to a philosophy podcast and they strike up a conversation; but it’s a rocky meeting. Things go wrong on the way to their destination but, eventually, they get there. And then.. well. Spoilers. I would’ve loved an extra chapter of this, instead of the extended Jackson story, and I’m sad it was so short. It’s a softer story but felt very Yoon-like. Which is a good thing. Four stars.

But while the little throw away tie-ins in Yoon’s story to bring everyone into the story, into the party, was nice, it still boggles my mind we didn’t get a concluding chapter that made it feel, after all this build up, that we were actually at this party?.That’s still confusing. It just kind of ends. Even though the Jackson wasn’t my favourite story, it held the anthology together, working as the glue. So couldn’t we have had a proper ending?

Overall, this wasn’t bad, but I expected to love a lot more from this bind-up than I did. So that’s a bit of a bummer. But I’ve not read anything by Woodfolk or Clayton before, though I’ve definitely had the latter on my radar, and I will definitely be picking up their solo offerings in the future.


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Different stories
Different authors
Threads to bring it together

I didn’t love this collection of stories but it was engaging in the main. This story captured black teens lives in a New York city-wide blackout, trying to get somewhere, or home or to a party. I definitely enjoyed some more than others and I’ll give a flavour of my favourites.

It’s no surprise to me that Nic Stone’s story Mask Off was my favourite because there’s something about her writing that always pulls me in. This coming out story for JJ and his past and present experiences with Tremaine really pulled at my heartstrings. There was some nod to the difficulties of queer sportsmen coming out and how that cascaded down to college age students. Overall this was really compelling.

The Long Walk by Tiffany D Jackson wove right through the books with various installments in between other stories. For me, this was the meatiest story, I got to know the characters best as these ex-es worked through the what went wrong and how we feel now. There was something tangible about this couple.

Finally, I enjoyed the short story of the Ryde driver Seymour and his passenger Grace (FYI Seymour is a similar age to Grace, just in case you were wondering. This tale by Nicola Yoon was cute and funny and I just enjoyed the ‘ride’.

The other three authors’ stories didn’t float my boat as much, thus my rating. Overall this collection is worth a read but like many anthologies, you’re gonna like some much more than others.

A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT by Becky Chambers – double review!

It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools. Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again. Centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They’re going to need to ask it a lot.

Becky Chambers’ new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?


Title : A Psalm for the Wild-Built
Author : Becky Chambers
Series : Monk & Robot (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 160
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ scifi/fantasy
Publisher : Tordotcom
Release Date : July 13, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★  / ★ ★ ★.5


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’ll admit that I didn’t look too hard into what this was about (though that’s not too much of a surprise as I’m #TeamNoBlurb) but I was definitely hoping this would be more in line with To Be Taught, If Fortunate, than the author’s Wayfarers series. Alas it wasn’t; but it wasn’t bad, either.

I figured you’d be all numbers and logic. Structured. Strict, y’know?
What a curious notion.”
Is it? Like you said, you’re a machine.[..] And machines only work because of numbers and logic.”
That’s how we function, not how we perceive.

I think this was a little more philosophical and cerebral, definitely existential, than I expected it to be. But in hindsight, a series about a robot and a monk? How didn’t I see this coming. That’s on me.

I made made of metal and numbers; you are made of water and genes. But we are each something more than that. And we can’t define what that something more is simply by our raw components.”

This is definitely a gentle, wholesome, thoughtful, novella, not unlike we are to expect from this author, that simultaneously makes you think while also taking you out of your head a bit — as the dedication goes, this is for all of us who need a break (boy do we ever). Much like the art of choosing a tea and savouring it, there was something meditative about this, and, as a side effect, made me a little sleepy.

This won’t be a favourite but I’m definitely curious as to where this series is going.

Side note? I’m so in love with that cover.

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


Micky’s 3.5 star review

A Psalm for the Wild-Built was conceptually clever (when is Becky Chambers ever not?) and in many aspects, it was quite a beautiful tale. It started off curiously, then built and built into a connection between a monk and a robot. Yes I did just say that and if that doesn’t draw you in, I don’t know what will.

This sci-fi offering comes with Chambers unique perspective on the genre, it carries a ecological tone along with sense of searching. Robot and humans were estranged for centuries in this book until the monk and robot happen upon one another.

The story was engaging the most from the point of those two meeting and exploring each other’s species. There was banter, misunderstandings and poignant moments. There were also some slower moments, where I had to push on, thus my rating.

“So, that’s…sorry, I’m slow at math.”
Dex frowned. “What?” How was the robot slow at math?
“Hush, I can’t multiply and talk at the same time.”

I’m definitely pleased that this is going to be a series. I have questions and a desire to see this journey through. A gorgeous cover and clever concept from Chambers.

Thank you to Tor for the early review copy.

FUGITIVE TELEMETRY by Martha Wells

No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

Again!


Title : Fugitive Telemetry
Author : Martha Wells
Series : The Murderbot Diaries (book six)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 176
Genre : sci-fi
Publisher : Tor.com
Release Date : April 27, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I was [..] a construct made of cloned human tissue, augments, anxiety, depression, and unforcused rage, a killing machine for whichever humans rented me, until I made a mistake and got my brain destroyed.

So let’s get the mild bits that bummed me out.. out of the way. First of all, this is a novella length installment again, after book five was full length. Not too bad, really, as we’re mostly used to this. However the major thing that bummed me out? No ART.

Don’t look at me like that’s my fault. I’m just telling you shit I know.

But otherwise? This was another Murderbot adventure that made me laugh, snicker, and entertained me. After all the excitement of book five it maybe was a little lacking in tension and edginess but it was still really great. I likely have more quotes I want to insert than I actually have material for a review because I mean.. at this point we all kind of know what to expect. Murderbot rescues people despite a lack of trust. Murderbot wishes they are just watching Sanctuary Moon. Hijinks ensue.

I would have either disposed of the body so it was never found, or made it look like an accident.
How would you dispose of a body so it wouldn’t be found?
If I told you, then you might find all the bodies I’ve already disposed of.

If you aren’t already into this series you totally should be.

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

EVERGREEN by Cari Z.

Soldiers. Explorers. Lovers.

Broken apart.

Cy Konstantin and Scottie Andrews are supposed to make Project Evergreen’s one-way trip to Mars together. A near-fatal accident during training knocks Cy into a coma for half a year, and out of Project Evergreen. He works his way back to Scottie’s side, but he can’t rejoin the mission. Once Scottie leaves, they’re destined to live millions of miles apart for the rest of their lives.

A deadly accident on Mars might spell the end of their distant romance, though—or be the thing that saves it.


Title : Evergreen
Author : Cari Z.
Format : eBook
Page Count : 59
Genre : LGBTQIA+ sci-fi romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : January 13, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I wanted something short and possibly sweet as I’m between reads right now and figured why not give this a try! Having arduously compiled all my unreads books on a spreadsheet, including all my eBooks, all that hard work paid off as my eyes immediately gravitated to it (after having long since forgotten about it), and boy am I glad I did.

Right off the hop I was enjoying the story and the narrative but wasn’t sure about the characters. We had members of a crew brought together to man a mission to Mars as a one-way trip and within said crew was the charming and gregarious American astronaut and the rather reserved Russian one and I though okay sure, here we go. But. But.

While we don’t see every moment of their evolving friendship into a romance, as this is a novella and we do skip around a bit, I was definitely sold before the end. And this goes in different directions than you might expect!

This might not be a new favourite but I’m pretty pleased I one-clicked this and was glad to have been entertained by it for a little while on this saturday evening. Additionally? Also very happy to knock it off the tbr and into the read pile.

MEMENTO by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – double review!

From New York Times bestselling authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff comes an Illuminae prequel digital novella that gives readers a hair-raising glimpse into the calamity that befell the invincible AI system known as AIDAN–and the daring young programmer who would risk her life to keep it from crashing.

AIDAN is the AI you’ll love to hate.

The advanced AI system was supposed to protect a fleet of survivors who’d escaped the deadly attack on Kerenza IV. AIDAN was supposed to be infallible. But in the chaotic weeks and months that followed, it became clear that something was terribly, terribly wrong with AIDAN…


Title : Memento
Author : Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series : The Illuminae Files (book .5)
Format : audiobook (overdrive)
Page Count : 59 (hour and a half via audio)
Genre : YA sci-fi
Publisher : Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date : October 20, 2020

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

I had intended to read this in true Illuminae Files form by listening to the audiobook and following along with the physical but, as I was doing chores while listening along, the physical follow along kind of crashed and burned before it could even take off. That said, shockingly, this was so easy to follow along with anyway; a big miracle for me considering I only do audio for rereads. But I think between my familiarity with the world, and the short novella length, this wiggled its way into a sweet spot for me.

I absolutely loved returning to this world, and to this fantastic production and full cast audio, and it shed some light on the events leading into the events of book one in this world. The problem I have is now wanting to just continue on and reread the rest..

This whole premise is basically a spoiler to the main series so there isn’t much I can say but if you like space, like snark, and want to have a mini movie playing out between your ears? Give this a go. And then do what I am now resisting : read the rest. This series is just perfection. Highly recommend.


Micky’s 4 star review

Fantastic short story but how I wanted more. How dare Kristoff and Kaufman drag you into new characters, get you invested and then it be over within a brief time. I love this world, this series and I miss it. This story took you to the prior to of Illuminae, AIDAN was at the centre of this and all I can say is …sneaky, sinister AIDAN who I can’t help but like. He’s the darkest of heroes.

I don’t want to spoiler, I won’t spoiler, but AIDAN what the f***. I did really love Olivia and her story arc was definitely a roller coaster. What all this tells me is that my favouritie author duo could definitely write more in this world…pretty please?

I do feel like the narrator for this AIDAN was different to rest of the series and I preferred the original cast member.

FOREVER WILD by K.A. Tucker – double review!

From the international bestselling author of The Simple Wild comes Forever Wild, a novella that continues the story of Calla’s journey to the Alaskan wild and a life she never imagined for herself. 

The holiday season is upon Calla and Jonah, and with the mistletoe and gingerbread comes plenty of family drama. Jonah is bracing himself for two weeks with a stepfather he loathes, and while Calla is looking forward to her mother and Simon’s arrival, she dreads the continued pressure to set a date for their wedding … in Toronto. Add in one bullheaded neighbor’s unintentional meddling and another cantankerous neighbor’s own family strife, and Christmas in Trapper’s Crossing will be anything but simple. 


Title : Forever Wild
Author : K.A. Tucker
Series : Simple Wild (book 2.5)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 156
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : December 1, 2020

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

So somehow this novella did what the previous full length installment didn’t do for me. It made me happy, it made me sad, it made me cry, and it also made me excited about a companion book featuring the same cast and crew but with a different protagonist. It was also all that and very festive and lovely for the holiday season, too.

My one gripe would be that there was a dynamic introduced between Jonah and another character that definitely worked as a way to give this short read some angst and tension.. but I’m not entirely sure it wrapped in a satisfying way. Or, like, at all? It also had another suspense/tension element that ties into this and also maybe wasn’t necessary, particularly as the thing that ties it all together was.. again, not quite a resolution. So if I think too hard on that I might be tempted to round down but.. honestly, carrying over from the major positive in book two? Roy. Roy broke me in this one. I had so many feels. I enjoyed the Calla and Jonah romance dynamic too, don’t get me wrong, but was more periphery for me. I was more invested in the whole town/group dynamic. And yeah mostly Roy. My heart..

So if you want something sweet and cozy and maybe also a little sad but still lovely, and you’re already a fan of this series, you absolutely need to fit this in before the end of the year; or at least while still in the throes of winter.

Micky’s 3 star review

A short and bland review from me I’m afraid. As with all the books in this series, Forever Wild was easy reading and mildly entertaining but it didn’t give me much on the feels front. It’s definitely an added extra and not required reading in the series. In fact, I felt short-changed a bit by the end section, it was very rushed.

I do have an vague affinity for Calla and Jonah but even more for the setting of Alaska and romance in that context. I liked Calla in this but Jonah fell flat for me on this one. There wasn’t much of his personality on the page unless you count the grounching at parents. The storyline was sweet and enjoyable. Roy was a highlight, his grumpy self was so endearing.

One of the best things was the promise of a book for Marie, I’m definitely here for that.

NIGHT OF CAKE & PUPPETS by Laini Taylor

In this stand-alone companion to the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone series comes the story of Mik and Zuzana’s fantastical first date—as a gorgeously illustrated gift edition with bonus content included.

Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to make the first move, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy is not going to know what hit him.

New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Originally published as an ebook, this new print edition will include breathtaking black and white illustrations, plus bonus content in a gorgeous package perfect for new and current fans of the series.



Title : Night of Cake & Puppets
Author : Laini Taylor (illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo)
Series : Daughter of Smoke & Bone (book 2.5)
Format : hardback
Page Count : 256
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Release Date : November 26, 2013

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 5 star review

Once you know magic is real, it’s really hard to remember what it was like not to know.

To me, this little book is magic. The story, the art, the way it breaks up the action in the main series to dazzle you.. everything about it is just perfection.

Zuzana in particular always felt like such a force as a supporting character but the brilliance of this novella is that she feels no different in the spotlight. Taylor had this character pegged from page one and she doesn’t feel any more real but instead feels just like herself.

The friendship moments between Zuzana and Karou, even just through text, are so authentic and silly and heartfelt that it felt like rereading my own texts to friends.

As for Mik, well. He’s definitely a sweet thing but doesn’t leave as much as an impression as either Zuz or even Karou. But it was how he thought about Zuzana, how he was instantly a believer in magic, and how self-aware he was, that make him worthy of our rabid fairy.

Reading this after my series reread makes me instantly crave more from this world and these characters — even though I only left them a week or two ago — and if that isn’t proof of magic, what is?

If you are a fan of this series but haven’t yet picked up this novella? You must.

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