BRAMBLES by Intisar Khanani

In the kingdom of Adania, everyone knows what Princess Alyrra did to earn the court’s contempt, her mother’s disdain, and her brother’s hatred.

She betrayed her own.

Yet, the truth hides another story, one of honor and honesty, of a princess gambling her own life for another’s. It’s a tale of courage and consequences, and a choice that can never be undone.

A short story prequel to her multi-starred fantasy, Thorn, Intisar Khanani’s “Brambles” gives Alyrra’s account of what really happened all those years ago, and how a few critical days turned her life into a daily fight for survival.


Title : Brambles
Author : Initisar Khanani
Series : Dauntless Path #0.5
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 40
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : December 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Brambles is a prequel novella to the full length and wonderful Thorn (you can see my review here). This story finds Alyrra quite a bit younger and back in time in her original lands. This really is a brief origin story about why Alyrra found herself on the end of Valka’s wrath and how the plot for Thorn eventually unravels.

I hated Alyrra’s brother and Valka in Thorn so this wasn’t the nicest company to be keeping in this novella. These two were bullies in Alyrra’s life, manipulating and controlling. Alyrra’s mother wasn’t much better either. I always hated that Alyrra didn’t have any allies at the beginning of Thorn and this is what we see in Brambles. BUT this was still a very engaging world to be in. Reading about villians can still be fulfilling!

The world created in this series is intruiging, pretty fresh and as a collective, I’ll alwaysbe happy to read in this world. If you aren’t aware, the second book in the series The Theft of Sunlight is coming in March 2021 and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Whilst Brambles is not essential reading to the series, it’s a welcome snippet and insight into the grand story.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

NICK AND CHARLIE by Alice Oseman

A short novella based on the beloved characters from the graphic novel Heartstopper and Alice Oseman’s debut novel Solitaire, which was praised as ‘The Catcher in the Rye for the digital age’ by The Times.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

CHARLIE: “I have been going out with Nick Nelson for two years. He likes rugby, Formula 1, dogs, the Marvel universe, the sound felt-tips make on paper, rain and drawing on shoes. He also likes me.”

NICK: “Things me and Charlie Spring do together include: Watch films. Sit in the same room on different laptops. Text each other from different rooms. Make out. Make food. Make drinks. Get drunk. Talk. Argue. Laugh. Maybe we’re kind of boring. But that’s fine with us.”

Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple – that they’re inseparable. But now Nick is leaving for university, and Charlie will be left behind at Sixth Form. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question – they’re ‘Nick and Charlie’ for God’s sake!

But as the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Or are they delaying the inevitable? Because everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever …


Title : Nick and Charlie
Author : Alice Oseman
Series : Solitaire #1.5
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 176
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Harper Collins Childrens UK
Release Date : August 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Being back with these guys a little older, was a delight. Nick was 18 and Charlie 17; with University and long distances afoot, their relationship moved to a position of insecurity for the first time in a while. Their journey in this novella was a bit painful to read for fans, seeing them go through couple stuff was hard. It all felt super realistic to that age group.

That said, I loved reading about later teen life. Their routines, their coupledom and how they were perceived by others as a couple. The changes in their future unsettled Charlie the most and his anxiety seemed to become overwhelming. I appreciated the bits of insight we got into where Heartstopper 3 had left Charlie and his problems. I’m wondering if we’ll get more of this in focus in Heartstopper 4.

I don’t want to visit the plot too much and its a short novella so a shortish review is inevitable. This novella, these characters made me feel everything (not unexpected) and even though this wasn’t a graphic novel, I enjoyed it just as much. There were pages with some Alice Oseman classic illustrations though, which I really brought these guys to life, like always.

My fandom for Nick and Charlie continues and will probably never abate. This novella adds something special to the Heartstopper world. Seeing them older was everything.

Thank you to Harper Collins UK for the gifted copy.

KOGITSUNE by Xia Xia Lake

A coming of age story set in medieval Japan. A friendship between a young fox god and his human childhood friend is built on deception, but grows stronger and purer as it’s driven by common purpose. However, the vast differences of the worlds they live in can’t be ignored, as their relationship is frowned upon by both humans and spirits.

As Kogitsune’s feelings for his human friend turn from friendship to something deeper, he will learn that love can be all consuming and heartbreaking. 

‘Kogitsune’ is a retelling of the famous Noh theater play ‘Kokaji’, a story about a swordsmith who requests the help of the Inari god to build a sword for emperor Ichijo (980-1011).


Title : Kogitsune
Author : Xia Xia Lake
Series : Takamagahara Monogatari (book 1)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 62
Genre : LGBTQIA+ historical fiction/fantasy
Publisher : indie
Release Date : September 10, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3.5 (rounded up) star review

This is such a sweet, magical, little story of the birth, and early years, of a kitsune; a fox god. As he discovers the world around him, he also meets a human boy, and they develop a sweet friendship that, over time and after reuniting after a separation where they each grow into their own, becomes a romance.

Despite how short this story is, Lake nonetheless manages to perfectly set the scene, delving into Japanese folklore and myth, all through the eyes of a curious and adorable protagonist, who is both naive and wise and, like mortals, just as susceptible to heartbreak, remorse, and love.

This is the first in a series and I can’t wait to read on.

SILVER IN THE WOOD by Emily Tesh

There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads.

When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.


Title : Silver in the Wood
Author : Emily Tesh
Series : The Greenhollow Duology (book one)
Format : physical (library)
Page Count : 112
Genre : LGBTQIA+ sci-fi/fantasy
Publisher : Tor.com
Release Date : June 18, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3.75 (rounded up) review

Thank goodness for the cover reveal of book two or I don’t know when I would’ve prioritized picking this one up.

SILVER IN THE WOOD is a slow-unfurling novella about the bargains made with old gods, the darkness of the wood, and new beginnings at the end of things. This wasn’t at all what I expected — I fully thought this would be darker, edgier, and instead it was more melancholy, charming, and sweet. Nonetheless I’m still rounding up, even if my expectations weren’t quite met, because I still enjoyed this so much.

We know there’s more to this Wild Man in the woods than just a caretaker and Tesh cleverly tells us the story of how things came to be as the curious new-owner of Greenhollow Hall is researching local legends and myth. And it’s when things go sideways, and a new character is introduced, that we somehow get a whole lot more worldbuilding that neither feels crammed down your throat or, considering the word count, too big for the story. But it’s the backstory that really feels rich, twisty, and also a little sad.

This novella was perfectly paced to leave you satisfied and yet wanting to read on and my only complaint is there isn’t more.. yet.

REINDEER FALLS SERIES by Jana Aston

The Boss Who Stole Christmas (Reindeer Falls #1)

Dear Santa,

Please bring me a new boss for Christmas. Mine is the worst. The worst, hidden in a six foot tall package of male perfection. It’d be easier if he looked like an old Scrooge, wouldn’t it?

Nick Saint-Croix doesn’t look like an old scrooge. He’s hot as-

Um, never mind. Just bring me a new boss. Please.

Sincerely,
Holly Winter


If You Give a Jerk a Gingerbread (Reindeer Falls #2)

Dear Santa,

I do not want Keller James for Christmas.

I will not fall for him, no matter how charming or irresistible or famous he is. I will not be swayed by his skills in the kitchen or by his British accent. I’m going to win the Great Gingerbread Bake Off and no one is going to stand in my way. Not even Keller.

All kisses are off. I mean all bets. All bets are off. And his clothes, those are off too.

Grr, never mind. I’ll figure this out myself.

XOXO,
Ginger Winter


The One Night Stand Before Christmas (Reindeer Falls #3)

Dear Santa,

Please stop by my house and pick up your suit. If you thought I was going to run it to the dry cleaners for you after you left it on my bedroom floor, you’ve got another think coming.

Best,
Noel Winter


Author : Jana Aston
Series : Reindeer Falls
Format : ebook
Page Count : 100/99/100
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Rutherford Press
Release Date : November, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
#1 Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
#2 Rating : ★ ★ ★ 
#3 Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Well, I can only say that these were fun and quick to read, just what the doctor ordered for a few days sickness and a desire for Christmassy reads. The author describes these as ‘over-the-top’ and ‘merrily-ever-afters guarenteed’, so I knew what I was getting into. They took minimal concentration and commitment which was perfect for my needs. Each book follows a different sister in the small town on Reindeer Falls…

Book one, THE BOSS WHO STOLE Christmas (3.5 stars), initially lined me up for a real grump-jerk but honestly, that was just the skewed perspective of the heroine. She was actually the jerk and her attitutde annoyed me but I enjoyed the story, the steam and the redemption. The hero, Nick was something of a sweetie and despite the short nature of the story, I bought into the chemistry. It did take a while to get going, so lost a bit on rating there for me.

The second book, IF YOU GIVE A JERK A GINGERBREAD (3 stars), was a meet cute with instant connection to more. This is one where you’d really have to take the author at her word of over-the-top feelings. I actually liked a lot of this story more than book one but the chemistry fell flat for me. It was a quick read and entertaining but the instalove was too insta-xmas for me.

The final novella, THE ONE NIGHT STAND BEFORE CHRISTMAS (3.5 stars) was a mistaken identity fun read. This one was pure fun as this one night stand turned into a who the hell was that? The hero, Teddy sure was unrealistically committed and instantly into Noel but whatever, I bought into the fun. This final instalment also cleverly tied up the what is happening now with the three sisters so we got a great update on a year later.

I found this three novellas generally entertaining. I enjoyed them, they weren’t realistic or forever memorable but they did what they promised on the tin. They’re also in Kindle Unlimited if you have a subscription.

CLOSER by Kylie Scott

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kylie Scott comes a new story in her Stage Dive series…

When a stalker gets too close to plus-size model Mae Cooper, it’s time to hire some muscle.

Enter former military man turned executive protection officer Ziggy Thayer. Having spent years guarding billionaires, royalty, and rock n roll greats, he’s seen it all. From lavish parties through to every kind of excess.

There’s no reason some Instagram stylista should throw him off his game. Even if she does have the most dangerous curves he’s ever seen…

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**


Title : Closer
Author : Kylie Scott
Series : Stage Dive #4.6
Format : eARC
Page Count :
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Evil Eye Concepts
Release Date : September 24, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


I had a bad day one friday before release of this book and needed an easy, complete story to drift into and away with. CLOSER took me from my life and wrapped me up in the engaging story of Mae and Ziggy. Following on from Strong, the precursor novella from 1001 Dark Nights, it has a bodyguard context with plenty of Stage Dive characters for good measure.

Mae was a model with a nasty package waiting for her when she returned from an assignment. Ziggy was the stoney-faced, gorgeously suit-clad close protection officer ‘bodyguard’ assigned to her. He was all ‘Miss Cooper’ and never cracked a smile. I really don’t want to say more than this about the actual story as this is a novella you can read in an hour and half, so you want all the good bits without any spoilers.

Bonus elements to this novella included a dash of this and a dash of that. There was chemistry for days with lots of uncertainty. There was slight suspense element and in the length of a novella there was slow burn, but not necessarily in days. Scott manages to avoid insta-love very well.

This is a novella on the shorter side yet it feels to be a complete story with detail and satisfaction as a reader. There is definite skill pulling this length of book off and Kylie Scott did. I will definitely re-read this when I need a quick, easy and satisfying romance.

Thank you to the author and Social Butterfly PR for the review copy.

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