DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS by Laini Taylor

What power can bruise the sky?

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited — not in love, but in tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as — from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond — humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. 



Title : Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author : Laini Taylor
Series : Daughter of Smoke & Bone (book three)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 640
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : April 17, 2014 (original) / December 1, 2020 (new editions!)

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

I have so many feelings.

Also it’s nice to have memories because wow did I have very few of those for this installment! I definitely clung to very few recollections of any events post-book one and honestly it made the whole experience feel like the first time. I kind of love that this is how it went down.

In the legends, chimaera were sprung from tears and seraphim from blood, but in this moment they are, all of them, children of regret.

I can definitely see why this ending made many readers mad and I think I’m somewhere in the middle. There was definitely A Lot jammed in right at the end but it also didn’t feel too rushed. It was just a hard left when you think you’re going right. But also, I kind of love it? Like another series I read recently which took a lot of unexpected and not-so-popular and very risky choices, I feel this was one of those. And I guess in my old age I’m appreciating the unconventional a little more.

It was a new idea for him, that happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won — some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it — but something to carry doggedly with you through everything.

Plus, having read her more recent series, I think I finally understand the tie-in. It’s nothing to the extent that you need to read one to read the other but. Something. I’m not spoiling anything but I had a moment and then my brain tried to remember the ending of MUSE OF NIGHTMARES and I sprained something, so that was a bust, but. I feel another Taylor reread coming on.

Anyway, I just had such a good time, truly. There’s not going to be any kind of insightful breakdown or poetical word weaving in this review. Taylor’s writing is gorgeous. She loves to torment her characters (and us). There is plenty of darkness but always hope. And there are moments of such silliness, such every-day-ness by having certain “normal” persons woven in amongst all the monsters and magic, gods and other worlds, that it just grounds everything. It all just works.

You are a conniving, deceitful hussy. I stand in awe.”
You’re sitting.
I sit in awe.

I do think, in hindsight of this reread, I might love the Strange the Dreamer duology more. But I would need to reread that one to confirm my five stars are still five stars. Because this series did lose a star from each book during this experience. I still love them, and will likely revisit again in a couple years, but sometimes the bowled over and devastated or delirious feeling doesn’t quite come back. Nonetheless, I had so much fun rereading these, and it was absolutely everything I needed right now.

** I received a finished copy of the new edition from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

LAYLA by Colleen Hoover

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover comes a novel that explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love.

When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.



Title : Layla
Author : Colleen Hoover
Format : eARC
Page Count : 301
Genre : Contemporary/PNR
Publisher : Montlake
Release Date : December 8, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ .5



Micky’s 2.5 star review

A curious tale to start, turning into something I wasn’t expecting (trying to stay spoiler-free here) and then too much of the ridiculous for my taste. Layla and Leeds (Leeds is a city, not a town by the way) met and magnetised in a lust at first sight kind of interaction. I was all eyes and ears for this. What ensued was a quick obsession with one another until tragedy knocked at their door.

Leeds was a musician, song writer and I have to say how much I love when Colleen Hoover writes song lyrics, she really hits the spot with her words through lyrics and I will always relish when I see them in her books. However, I would prefer to see heroes from authors with different occupations. I don’t want to compare to Maybe Someday, for example. Leeds was the narrator in this story and I enjoyed that it came from his POV, even though I didn’t like him at all as a character.

What ensued was me being scared with the paranormal element until things were explained, then I settled into it. The story kept me reading and did provide three good twists but I felt like things weren’t always explained well enough and there was a bit of ‘that’s just how it is’. ‘The interviewer’ exasperated me…and that’s how I felt a bit at the end, exasperated and a bit deflated. It just didn’t work as a story for me but I’m sure many will love it.

I admire Colleen Hoover for turning her hand to different genres but so far, only her romances hit the spot for me. I guess we can’t like them all, it’s that age old thing but I was really buzzing for this one and then disappointed when it didn’t work for me.

Thank you Montlake for the early review copy.

DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?



Title : Days of Blood & Starlight
Author : Laini Taylor
Series : Daughter of Smoke & Bone (book two)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 528
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : November 6, 2012 (original) / December 1, 2020 (new editions!)

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5



Hollis’ 4.5 star review

“.. absolutely preparing myself to be destroyed and devastated all over again,” was how I wrapped my review of book one. Because I remembered the vibe of this story more than the events themselves. Infact, only a few scenes stood out to me, so it was almost like reading this for the first time. I think maybe I had forgotten most of what happened in this series outside of book one and a few broadstrokes. I have a feeling book three will be the one I recall the least.

What can a soldier do when mercy is treason, and he is alone in it?

I actually don’t think this book was quite the devastation or destruction I remembered it to be, vibe or no. But it’s definitely relentless. Hit after hit is taken, not all of them all-encompassing, but enough that it wears you down. Just like Karou is worn down, worn thin, believing she has no path but the one she’s on. And I think it was that atmosphere that allowed for those few (very few) moments of sweetness, of levity, to feel both out of place but impossible not to cling to. Like the image of Zuzana and Mik, fragile humans, playing amongst creatures of nightmare and imagination and death. Your brain questions it but you can’t look away.

Mercy, she had discovered, made mad alchemy; a drop of it could dilute a lake of hate.

There was a lot of hurt in this book; in the sense of loss, of betrayal, of grief, of a dream that will never be realized, of hope. Because hope, too, hurts.

As always, Taylor’s writing was impeccable, the way she toyed with us every time, making us believe one thing, only to reveal the opposite, was both breathtaking and left the heart pounding and also something of a trap. Because just when you come to rely on that, to expect it to happen each time, it won’t. Sometimes the bad, the sad, is the reality and there’s no surprise waiting to tell you otherwise. But it’s a compelling way to force one’s readers to devour page after page, chapter after chapter. Which is what I did. Not just out of hope but also because I just could not tear myself away.

For all that this was grim, and at times hopeless, I think it’s probably my favourite of the two. The questions posed, the wrong for the right reasons, the push for vengeance which only propels more violence to answer the call, the conflict our characters felt, made me feel so much.

I also feel helpless to do anything other than jump into book three.. right.. now.

** I received a finished copy of the new edition from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?



Title : Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author : Laini Taylor
Series : Daughter of Smoke & Bone (book one)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 433
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 27, 2011 (original) / December 1, 2020 (new editions!)

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

Don’t worry, I’m not late to the party when it comes to this series. This is a reread inspired by the upcoming release of the tenth anniversary paperback editions featuring new covers that, to be quite honest, I didn’t love at first sight. But in person? Wow do they grow on a body. And lets be real, as much as I love a cover, it’s the insides that really matter. And was I afraid this might not live up to my memories? A tiny bit. It’s 2020 after all. Much stranger things have happened.

Despite owning two different editions of this series, this was my first reread. I don’t know how that’s possible, either, but thankfully reliving the magic and wonder and heartbreak was only slightly less pow, bam, boom, amazing than the first time.

Loneliness is worse when you return to it after a reprieve — like a soul’s version of putting on a wet bathing suit, clammy and miserable.

Taylor’s writing is.. well, I mean, you either love it or you hate it. But I love it. I love how vividly and perfectly I can picture everything she describes. I love how I can sense the emotion she’s trying to convey. I love how her characters can make you laugh just as quickly as they can make you bleed. It’s really the whole package for me.

To take from the universe, you must give.
But.. why pain? Couldn’t you give something else? Like.. joy?
It’s a balance. If it were something easy to give, it would be meaningless.
You really think joy is easier to come by than pain? Which have you had more of?
That’s a good point.

If, after all these years, you’re still on the fence about this series, you should definitely.. get off that fence. There is such wonder and magic in this story and, yes, darkness but also humour, with strong characters, hints of destiny, and.. inevitability, I guess. In a good way.

Surprising no one, I’m diving face first right into book two and absolutely preparing myself to be destroyed and devastated all over again. Bring it.

** I received a finished copy of the new edition from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

EMERALD BLAZE by Ilona Andrews – double review!

As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart. 

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.  


Title : Emerald Blaze
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Hidden Legancy (book five)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 399
Genre : urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : August 25, 2020

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’ll be honest. Give me some Baylor family banter and hijinks and I’ll pretty much be happy no matter what angst or torture this duo puts me through. Which is pretty much what happened in EMERALD BLAZE. Though it was light on both angst and torture so even better?

He broke your heart.
I broke my own heart, Leon. He was just the hammer I hit it with.

While I found the mystery of the Big Bad plot to be fine (not quite interesting, but not boring), I found the Big Bad Monster element of said same plot to be.. weird and whacky and freaky and fantastic fun. You might disagree about the fun part if you’ve read this but I just found it fascinating where this author duo’s brain goes (yes, I made a brain joke, I am not sorry!).

Your ego would survive an apocalypse.”
Thank you.”
It wasn’t a compliment.
It was to me.

For me, the star of this show, beyond the aforementioned Baylor Banter (copyright pending), was some of the insight we got into decisions made in the previous books. I’ll admit I couldn’t quite tell what was new information and what was just expanded upon which tells me I definitely should’ve done a series reread before this book (whoops, my bad), but nonetheless it felt mostly new and very shocking. I felt like every time the Evil Grandmother was mentioned I could never remember exactly what, or who, she had twisted to her own purposes and now? Wow. Cards are all out on the table.

I wasn’t mourning Alessandro abandoning me. I was mourning the old me. For the new me to emerge, the old me had to disappear, and killing her bit by bit hurt.

So that was fantastic but so was the romance. I enjoyed the heck out of this dynamic in book four but I was so much more sold this time around. Because more cards are on the table for these two as well, yes, but I also felt they had grown as individuals, particularly Catalina. I find her such a great protagonist because she’s strong but not invulnerable, either physically or emotionally, and she perseveres because she must. And as for Alessandro.. like.. be ready for some heartbreak.

I do so love happy endings.
Happy ending for you, maybe. I didn’t get to shoot anybody.

As a bonus we also get some page time with Nevada and Rogan so truly this book is a gift that keeps on giving. Less lovely? That ending. I had seen some vague shrieking about it on the internetz before reading this book so I was expecting the worst and I mean.. it’s not good but wow my brain is clearly a dark place because I expected something else. Also, for those of you unaware, this was also released by the authors but only to be read after reading book five. Don’t you dare peek ahead of time! Not only do I feel a little more comforted about said ending now but also I totally want an Arabella-centic book. I’m sure it’s coming. Maybe? Who knows. At the end of the day I just want IA to never stop writing; and I don’t care what series it’s for. Is that too much to ask?


Micky’s 4 star review

No quotes from me on this one, guess which dumb reader sent the library book back before writing their review? Yep, me. EMERALD BLAZE had a bit of a flat-ish start for me, I wasn’t immediately pulled in but by 20% that changed. This instalment of the Hidden Legacy was the usual fast-paced story you’d expect, full of drama, magic, fighting and tension. The evil thing in this one was super creepy animated thing and gave me slight vibes of one of the Kate Daniels instalment but it was still unique enough to hold its own.

I wasn’t sure about that cover, the emerald aspect but in retrospect, it all makes sense. I love the building storyline of House Baylor that stretches over the whole series and seeing Catalina come into her own even more is story-goals. I really enjoyed some honest dialogue between Nevada and Catalina, it felt like they were finally on an equal footing and to be honest, I’ve missed Nevada. The snippets of her and Rogan were like candy treats.

The best thing about this book was the tension between Catalina and Alessandro, ‘coupled’ with Alessandro finally exposing himself honestly. I lived for how their story played out. This story gave me everything I needed and wanted with regards to Catalina and Alessandro and I’m currently a pile of contemplative mush on finishing.

Family was strong as ever for the Baylors and I love the characters, how they knit together, banter and support one another. Did Andrews finish this cruelly? I guess you’ll have to read and find out.

*side note – will there ever be a book of theirs I don’t like?*

KISS OF VENGEANCE by S. Young

A standalone adult paranormal romance from New York Times Bestselling author Samantha Young writing as S. Young.

Fionn Mór was once a high king of Ireland; a fierce warrior who led his tribes against the invading fae. It was a war he couldn’t win and to save his family he turned consort for the Fae Queen. Fionn escaped as the thing he once despised, and the people he loved betrayed him for it. Now, centuries later, it’s time to reopen the gates to Faerie to take his revenge against the Faerie Queen.

At sixteen Rose Kelly discovered family secrets that changed her forever. Years after, she’s still lost, traveling across Europe in search of that elusive missing ‘something’. When she’s attacked by a vampire, not only is she wrenched into a supernatural underworld she never knew existed, a knock on the head releases a spell on her mind and unlocks powers beyond her wildest imaginings. And with them more questions. Questions Fionn Mór claims to have answers to.

Following the powerful and enigmatic Fionn to Ireland, Rose quickly realizes she’s a pawn in his plan for vengeance. What begins as a passionate battle of wills leads to an inexplicable but undeniable connection. One that will force them to face an impossible choice between the deepest love… and the darkest revenge.


Title : Kiss of Vengeance
Author : S. Young
Series : True Immortality #2
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : Paranormal Romance
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : March 3, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★. 5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This second in the True Immortality series is definitely a standalone, the characters do ultimately connect to the wider story but you could start here if you wished (don’t do that, read book one). Thea and Connor from book one do make an appearance later in the story too. This book however focused on Rose who briefly appeared in WAR OF HEARTS. Rose was roaming Europe, stopping to work in cities when she encountered a bunch of odd people one evening in the bar she worked in. One of those people was Fionn, there was something strange immediately about how he made her feel.

Fionn was a character I really struggled to get on with. He was fae like Rose, he was arrogant and he had an obsessive focus with revenge at the exclusion of everything else. Even over time when he and Rose became more, he prioritised his obsession. I struggled with his superiority, egotism, his closed-off feelings and redemption on this front came late.

Rose however, was a character I liked. I enjoyed her experience of coming into her powers and she had integrity, maybe her character brought balance to Fionn’s. Sometimes, I didn’t know how she persevered with Fionn.

The story itself was interesting, pretty fast-paced and through it, I learnt more about the Immortality world. I am definitely interested in this world and how the supernatural creatures interact, fight and exist. I am so very excited about the next couple, especially because the male character I like and seems less like Fionn.

Overall, I had a few problems with the male MC but I am invested in this as a series.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

WAR OF HEARTS by S. Young

New York Times Bestselling author Samantha Young writing as S. Young.

Thea Quinn has no idea what she is. All she knows is that her abilities have been a plague upon her life since she was a child. After years of suffering at the hands of a megalomaniac, Thea escaped and has been on the run ever since.

The leadership and protection of his pack are of the utmost importance to Conall MacLennan, Alpha and Chief of Clan MacLennan, the last werewolf pack in Scotland. Which is why watching his sister slowly die of a lycanthropic disease is emotional torture. When Conall is approached by a businessman who offers a cure for his sister in exchange for the use of Conall’s rare tracking ability, Conall forges an unbreakable contract with him. He has to find and retrieve the key to the cure: dangerous murderer, Thea Quinn.

Thea’s attempts to evade the ruthless werewolf are not only thwarted by the Alpha, but by outside dangers. With no choice but to rely on one another for survival, truths are revealed, intensifying a passionate connection they both fight to resist. At war with themselves and each other, Conall and Thea’s journey to Scotland forces them to face a heartrending choice between love and betrayal.

War of Hearts is a standalone paranormal romance.


Title : War of Hearts
Author : S. Young
Series : True Immortals #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 447
Genre : Paranormal Romance
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : October 1, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


This was an interesting paranormal world created by Samantha Young that was overall something I could invest in for this book but also for a series ahead. It’s been a while since she’s written in this genre and since I’ve read her older fantasy/PNR but I guess it’s like riding a bike because it worked for me.

WAR OF HEARTS focuses on Thea, a human type of being from unknown descent and difficult to label. She was a loner and she’d been on the run for a long time. I really liked how her character, powers and abilities were constructed; she was exciting to read about. I felt like it took a bit of time to get to know her, but she was kind of mysterious so this fitted in with the story.

Conell was a shifter, a Scottish wolf and the alpha of his pack, sent to literally sniff Thea out. The story of Connell and Thea, in opposition to one another and grudgingly developing changes in perception, was superb to observe. I got very absorbed and involved. At the heart of this was a great romance and rode with the tide on this one.

The story straddled Europe and that element made for engaging reading. I struggled a bit initially to get on board with the fae element of the storyline and the narrative of the past. I did come to appreciate parts of that, however.

There’s so much to this story, needing world building and that was delivered. The characters were well developed and on top of enjoying this first story of the series, I think there’s lots of good reading to come with characters from this story merging into the next book.