SERPENT & DOVE | BLOOD & HONEY by Shelby Mahurin

This is a double review of book one and two, which I read pretty much back to back. First up, SERPENT & DOVE.



Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.


Title : Serpent & Dove
Author : Shelby Mahurin
Series : Serpent & Dove #1
Format : Ebook
Page Count : 518
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Harper Teen
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star review

Serpent & Dove has been topping the backlog pile for a while and with a lot of booksta friends being huge fans, I had to see what the fuss was about. This was another book that started slow for me but by half way I got what the fuss was about, so I’d call this one a ‘builder’.

I love a ‘marriage of convenience’ trope and the union between Lou and Reid (Lou Reid?!) was from such polar opposites – a witch and a witch hunter. Lou was such a snarky free spirit that she was easy to like. She had little cares to give, no filter and so her dialogue was fun. Reid was definitely more buttoned up and hard to like initally.

My husband was still the most pompous ass in an entire tower of pompous asses.

Lou and Reid together however, were a couple to cheer for and it transformed how I felt about Reid and in fact, this was what made the book for me. So at times, when I wasn’t sure about the flow of the story, I was sure about my affection for this couple. All that said, I think I needed a little more time to see the love grow between the MCs than we got, there was enough but I wanted a bit more credibility.

It was a layered story, complex at times. There were some great ‘baddies’, some twists and reveals that made you stop for a minute. My favourite character outside of the MCs was Ansel. I adored him as a character, his loyalty and more.

I’m just going to add here that I am surprised this is categorised as YA/teen because of the sexual content and detail.

So, this was a good fantasy read, a little fresh on story and lot to offer in terms of romance. I am looking forward to the next book which I have primed and ready!


Now for the highly anticipated BLOOD & HONEY…


After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.


Title : Blood & Honey
Author : Shelby Mahurin
Series : Serpent & Dove #2
Format : eARC
Page Count : 528
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Harper Teen/Harper 360
Release Date : September 17, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 2.5 star review

2.5 stars

I’m gutted to find myself at this rating but here we are. I’m new to this series and had the advantage of reading book one and two back to back, so I had all the detail of book one fresh in my mind. I’ve seen a few reviews recommending a re-read of SERPENT & DOVE first, so I’m glad the intracacies of the plot were fresh.

What went wrong with BLOOD AND HONEY was the lack of story and the demise of coupledom. The whole plot was the crew of friends wandering the countryside looking for allies until a handful of pages until the end. I can’t describe my disappointment at this. I wanted more action, more coherence, all the things I found were present in book one.

What anchored me to SERPENT & DOVE when I was wavering were Lou and Reid. They were mere shadows of themselves both individually but also as a couple. Their faith in one another was constantly wavering and there was little chemistry or connection. Reid’s attitude to magic really annoyed me as the book progressed. The best things about this book were Coco and Ansel who kept me going when I wanted to put the book down.

I’m not going to labour this with a long review and I hope others enjoy this highly anticipated sequel. I’m sad to say I’m unsure if I’ll bother with book three.

Thank you to Harper 360 for the early review copy.


And here are the UK buy links!

BLOG TOUR: NOTES FROM SMALL PLANETS by Nate Crowley

Journey from fantasy mountains to super-cities, through piratical seas and up into space without missing any must-see sights – or putting a foot wrong with the locals! Whether you’re Lord of the shoestring-budget or Luxe Skywalker – Notes from Small Planets is your pastiche passport through the best worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Your ultimate travel guide to all the must-see locations in the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The perfect gift for self-professed geeks and fans of all things genre – from classic genre listeners to new young disciples of nerdery. From misty mountains to wizarding schools, from the homes of superheroes to lairs of infamous villains – visit your favourite worlds and discover new ones – all without ever missing a single landmark or traditional dish. What’s orc for ‘bon voyage’? 


Title : Notes From Small Planets
Author : Nate Crowley
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 253
Genre : Sci-fi/Fantasy
Publisher : Harper Voyager
Release Date : September 17, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This book makes me think that it needs its own genre – Sci-fi-fantasy-com (as in comedy). This book is formatted like a traditional travel guide. The hardback is smaller than your normal book and inside it’s all travel destination-orientated, what you need to know before you visit. For example, you get people, creatures, sights, entertainment, wildlife, outings, currency and more.

Hilariously, space itself had its own chapter, with lots of imagination and fun. The illustrations, maps, pictures and formatting were well thought out and made the book have that travel-guide appeal. What’s enjoyable about this book is that you don’t have to devour front to back, you can go a chapter at a time, a destination at a time. If I wasn’t rushing to read for review, I would have taken it slower.

I feel like you have to be at least a part-time geek to enjoy this book but many like me will fit into this defintion and find this book wildly entertaining. The travel guide narrator is humerous and there are editorial comments as footnotes which I was less keen on.

This was fun concept, easy to read and a great addition to the shelf for any SFF fan. Thank you to Harper Voyager for the gifted copy.

Please check out the other tour hosts on the graphic below!

CHARLOTTE by Helen Moffett


Everybody thinks that Charlotte Lucas has no prospects. She is twenty-seven years old, unmarried, plain, and seemingly without ambition. When she stuns the neighbourhood by accepting the proposal of buffoonish clergyman Mr Collins, her best friend Lizzy Bennet is angry at her for undervaluing herself. Yet the decision is the only way Charlotte knows to provide for her future, and marriage will propel her into a new world, of duty, marriage, children, grief and ultimately illicit love, and a kind of freedom.

Jane Austen cared deeply about the constraints of women in Regency England. This powerful reimagining takes up where Austen left off, showing us a woman determined to carve a place for herself in the world. Charlotte offers a fresh, feminist addition to the post-Austen canon, beautifully imagined, and brimming with passion and intelligence.


Title : Charlotte
Author : Helen Moffett
Narrator : Isabella Inchbald
Format : ebook/audiobook
Page Count : 368/8 hours 17 minutes
Genre : Historical/Retelling
Publisher : Bonnier Books/Manilla Press
Release Date : September 3, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 -4 star review

This continuation story of Charlotte’s character in a full book was surprising, it was unexpected in terms of the story direction and wholly enjoyable overall. Charlotte is a character who has always had my attention every time I’ve read or watched Pride & Prejudice. I think we’ve all struggled to understand her decision over Mr Collins, at least initially. This book explored her as a person but also their relationship as a couple. However this book is all Charlotte as a women in all her facets.

The book joined Charlotte seven years into her marriage to Mr Collins with three children, but tragedy was around the corner. This book navigated Charlotte’s journey through life’s hurdles, difficulties and grief. How Charlotte got through her emotions, anger and desire sometimes made by eyebrows raise but it felt tangible and good storytelling.

The cast of characters in the background of this book were rich and familiar. Lizzy, Anne de Bourgh and Catherine de Bourgh brought some excellent reading and some surprising elements. I enjoyed the friendship and confidence between Anne and Charlotte and Charlotte had also won the respect of Anne’s mother.

“But what really has my admiration is that my mother considers this an excellent plan of action. This leads me to all but suspect witchcraft on your part, Mrs Collins. Did our gypsy friends weave a spell, perhaps?”

Some of Charlotte’s experiences were heart-aching and on the flip side, her passionate nature was surprising. I liked where the story ended up in terms of her passions and I will say no more.

I had both an ebook ARC and an advance audio copy. I listened mostly and read some by ebook. The narration was perfect for the book and really conveyed Charlotte as a character.

Thank you to Bonnier Books for the early review copies.

WHO I WAS WITH HER by Nita Tyndall

There are two things that Corinne Parker knows to be true: that she is in love with Maggie Bailey, the captain of the rival high school’s cross-country team and her secret girlfriend of a year, and that she isn’t ready for anyone to know she’s bisexual.

But then Maggie dies, and Corinne quickly learns that the only thing worse than losing Maggie is being left heartbroken over a relationship no one knows existed. And to make things even more complicated, the only person she can turn to is Elissa — Maggie’s ex and the single person who understands how Corinne is feeling.

As Corinne struggles to make sense of her grief and what she truly wants out of life, she begins to have feelings for the last person she should fall for. But to move forward after losing Maggie, Corinne will have to learn to be honest with the people in her life…starting with herself. 


Title : Who I Was With Her
Author : Nita Tyndall
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : Contemporary YA, LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Harper 360
Release Date : September 15, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I went from being unsure about this book to being impressed by the end. This was definitely the kind of story that built into a fuller appreciation of the characters. WHO I WAS WITH HER was a story of loss, grief, discovery, confusion and pressure to come-out. There were definitely difficult themes here but they were written with sensitivity and realism in terms of the age of the characters.

The story plunged the reader into the immediate death of Corrine’s girlfriend, Maggie and it was a tough start. I felt a little jarred by this but in retrospect, I get why this was the right way to start the narrative. The author used past and present really well to tell the story both of Maggie and Corrine but also the story of Maggie’s understanding of her own bi-sexuality. All the time frames were very clear.

Corrine was understandably messed up by Maggie’s death, but being unable to talk to anyone about her loss was a tough ride. She was closeted to her friends and family and finding someone to talk to was crucial to her being able to get through those early days of grief. Corrine made some rushed decisions and you could judge she was foolish but I totally got why she did some of the things she did; it felt realistic.

I loved her friendship with Julia, how they evolved to understand one another. I liked how Julia’s self discovery was a conduit for Corrine. I was less enamoured by her friendship with Elissa but the need for this outlet became clear. Corrine’s home life, her running life, college expectations and closeted-life all came to a cresendo. I appreciated the culmination and how things were resolved.

I feel that this story is potentially important for young people who aren’t out. There shouldn’t be any pressure from anyone to be out until you’re ready. I think this story tackled those issues well and I’d definitely like to read Nita Tyndall again.

Please be sure to check out some own voices reviews on this one too.

Thank you to Harper 360 for the review copy.

THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind–she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed–this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.


Title : The Bear and the Nightingale
Author : Katherine Arden
Series : Winternight #1
Format : Ebook
Page Count : 328
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Del Rey Books
Release Date : January 12, 2017

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 -4 star review

This read has been a journey, from starting the wrong book in the series first – I started Girl in the Tower, I don’t know how to explain my idiocy. Then I got back on track with the right book and found a slow build of the world and story. By mid-way I didn’t know if I was going to move from my middling feeling but the second half completely won me over.

This was a historical story of a Russian family, reasonably well off, living in a forest community with harsh conditions. But really this was a story of folklore, a reimagining of Russian tales and assembled around the character of Vasilisa (Vasya). Vasya was a daughter, a sibling but more than anything, she was wild, free and spirited. Added to that spirit, she saw the forest and house spirits and made friendships with them.

Some of Vasya’s family were great and some were not. I enjoyed reading about the family dynamics, her father, her brothers and her step mother. For a while though, it seemed slow and Vasya was young for a long time. In retrospect, I see how this built to a story of detail and depth and it made the foundation for the second half rich.

I loved when we finally got to Morozko, I felt like the whole story had been sewing seeds to get to this point. The cresendo of the story was creepy to me but I got through those aspects and loved where the story ended up. So here I am, converted unexpectedly. I feel like this is one of the cleverest tales I’ve read and I’m really looking forward to starting The Girl in the Tower again.

Thank you to the posse who have been book-pushing this one for a few years but mostly to its first champion, Hollis the bear-pusher.

BLOG TOUR – FURIA by Yamile Saied Méndez – double review!


In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.


Title : Furia
Author : Yamile Saied Méndez
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA Contemporary
Publisher : Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date : September 15, 2020

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


Micky’s 5 star review

Wow!

This was a fantastic feminist YA, with coming of age themes all set in the context of futbol in Argentina. I love a sporting context book, especially those empowering women and if you want a YA that strongly empowers young women, then look no further. There is a romance in this story but it is pitched well and doesn’t overpower the story or the amazing heroine Camila ‘Furia’ Hassan.

Set in the barrios of a city in Argentina, the background for FURIA was rich, vibrant, dangerous and varied. The environment was one where women were oppressed but fighting for equality, rights, a life and dreams. There were background story lines that painted a picture of life for all females especially children and young women, that were chilling.

Our family was stuck in a cosmic hamster wheel of toxic love, making the same mistakes, saying the same words, being hurt in the same ways generation after generation…I was la Furia, after all. I’d be the one to break the wheel.

Camilla ignited my interest like a flame with her hopes of becoming a professional futbol player and going to the USA where there were more possibilites. In fact, Camilla had familial credentials in professional football but no-one was championing a young women like Camilla, no matter how talented she was.

Camila however, had drive for her dreams and played secretly in a team. I loved the scrimmage and match play narratives, the description was excellent and I truly felt like a spectator watching ‘Furia’ come alive. Camila’s dream and life was complicated by Diego, her childhood friend returning for a visit from Juventus. Sparks ignited between these two and it was something real and beautiful.

This story took a direction that made my feminist heart sing for Camila. The decisions and sacrifices she made; the fights physical, verbal and emotional were all worth it to have hope. This was a read of excitement, with beauty in the barrios and characters to feel truly wrapped up in, but most of all it conveyed an empowering message for young women.

“There are too many people whose opinions control how you perform. Let them go. Be yourself. You’re la Furia, but remember, the game is beautiful.”

I highly rec this book, it’s going to be a favourite of the year. FURIA, FURIA, FURIA…(in football chanting song).

Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for the early review copy.



Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I was | | close to rounding up on this one because there are aspects of this story that are so strong, so wonderful, but I can’t quite boost it.

In my barrio, most of the people didn’t know my name or even that I existed. To them, I was only Pablo’s sister, or Andrés and the seamstress’ daughter — my mom, too, was nameless. But I was determined to leave my mark.

If what you’ve always wanted in life is a YA version of KULTI by Mariana Zapata but with a heavy dose of feminism and very relevant, and present, topics of life in Argentina, you absolutely have to pick this up. This story is both empowering and heartbreaking and sometimes those conflicting feelings are rooted in the same moment.

Fútbol could do that — make people forget about the price of the dollar, the upcoming elections, even their love lives. For a few hours, life was beautiful.

There were many triumphant moments both for our protagonist, Camila, and for her team. But not every triumph was due to winning. I loved how the author made a point to balance this group of women’s ambitions, including that of the coach, but constantly remind the team — and through them, us — to play for themselves, for joy, no matter the score. I feel like if you take away nothing else from this story, particularly the younger readers, that would be enough. But there are even more powerful messages within the pages, too.

I’d leave the house the first chance I got, but not by chasing after a boy, including my brother. I’d do it on my own terms, following my own dreams, not someone else’s.

I think what really took away some of the enjoyment for me were the family dynamics. I have no doubt it is more common than not but some of it just felt a little OTT or extra and while much of it shaped Camila, drove her, to be something else.. I don’t know, I just wanted those moments over with. So that’s definitely a personal thing. As for the romance, I initially thought it might have been the weaker element of the story but I was pleasantly surprised to have been wrong and, also, surprised by how that turned out. No spoiling!

Overall, I think this is definitely a book worth picking up, even moreso as it’s #ownvoices. And, I mean, did you read Micky’s review? Even I wanted to award this five stars after reading her thoughts — and even though I’m not, I would definitely read this author again.

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

Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine American who loves meteor showers, summer, astrology, and pizza. She lives in Utah with her Puerto Rican husband and their five kids, two adorable dogs, and one majestic cat. An inaugural Walter Dean Myers Grant recipient, she’s a graduate of Voices of Our Nations (VONA) and the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Méndez is also part of Las Musas, the first collective of women and nonbinary Latinx middle grade and young adult authors. Furia is her first novel for young adult readers.

Furia
By Yamile Saied Méndez
Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: September 15, 2020 | ISBN: 9781616209919
$17.95 | 368 pages
www.algonquinyoungreaders.com

PUNCHING THE AIR by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo.

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born


Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.

The story that I think

will be my life

starts today


Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both. 


Title : Punching the Air
Author : Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Harper Collins Children’s Books
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This book made my heart hurt. A short story, told in verse, drawing on Yusef Salaam’s experiences and channeled into Amal, a young man wrongly convicted of a crime. Injustice and justice was on the menu here and the use of verse poignantly reverberated the message.

So
I am ink
He is paper…
I am criminal
He is victim
I am alive
He is almost dead
I am black
He is white

The narrative in this novel had a moment-to-moment feeling that was pretty tension ridden and I read much of it with that sense of doom and despair conveyed by Amal’s feelings. There were some areas of the book that I felt were particularly impactful – both sides defendant and perpetrator were the same age, yet one was referred to as a boy and the other a man. That point really hit me deep. There were many more examples but I don’t want to spoil.

All of this book is relevant for now, for 2020 and beyond, I am sure. It couldn’t be a better time to pick this up amongst your menu of BIPOC fiction and it would complement anyone’s plan to educate themselves more.

The illustrations/formatting didn’t come across particularly well on the ebook galley but I imagine the hard copy will convey the visual elements much better.

Please make sure to also check out some black reviewers on this book.

Thank you to Harper Collins Childrens for this early review copy.

A ROGUE OF ONE’S OWN by Evie Dunmore

A lady must have money and an army of her own if she is to win a revolution—but first, she must pit her wits against the wiles of an irresistible rogue bent on wrecking her plans…and her heart.

Lady Lucie is fuming. She and her band of Oxford suffragists have finally scraped together enough capital to control one of London’s major publishing houses, with one purpose: to use it in a coup against Parliament. But who could have predicted that the one person standing between her and success is her old nemesis, Lord Ballentine? Or that he would be willing to hand over the reins for an outrageous price—a night in her bed.

Lucie tempts Tristan like no other woman, burning him up with her fierceness and determination every time they clash. But as their battle of wills and words fans the flames of long-smouldering devotion, the silver-tongued seducer runs the risk of becoming caught in his own snare.

As Lucie tries to out-manoeuvre Tristan in the boardroom and the bedchamber, she soon discovers there’s truth in what the poets say: all is fair in love and war…


Title : A Rogue of One’s Own
Author : Evie Dunmore
Series : A League of Extraordinary Women #2
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 416
Genre : Historical Romance
Publisher : Piatkus/Little Brown UK
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I have been highly anticipating this suffragette era historical romance and the devouring of it didn’t disappoint. The highlights include:

– a cat POV (small but memorable)
– slow burn
– poetry to swoon you into the present century
– Oscar Wilde cameo
– all the feminism a woman could need

Boudicca turned and was on her way down to the kitchen, because frankly, she was a cat, not a foot warmer. A lady might keep a pug for such services.

The two characters for this instalment were Lady Lucie, long since cast out from her family and status and her old, childhood acquaintance Lord Tristan. Recently returned from the wars, Tristan had been rogue-ing his way through London supposedly and Lucie couldn’t have been less impressed. These two found work foisting them into one another’s presence and I could see Tristan’s sweet centre; Lucie could not.

This was a slow-burning story, a connection forming over time with some beautiful building and foundations. I enjoyed reading Lucie’s spinsterdom with Boudicca but I loved it more when her plans crumbled and Tristan wormed his way into her heart.

“Your stubborn courage humbles me. Your rage inspires me.”

Tristan’s poet-nature was simply beautiful and his use of Tennyson swooned me like so.

I thoroughly enjoyed A ROGUE OF ONE’S OWN and nothing about the book disappointed. Evie Dunmore is able to follow up with a great sequel and so I trust her to deliver repeatedly now. I can’t wait for more of her feminist-themed historical romance, she commands this era with such skill.

Thank you to little brown uk for the #gifted copy.

(side note: I am aware of some contraversies regarding a plot point and I would nudge you to check out those reviews).

FABLE by Adrienne Young

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.


Title : Fable
Author : Adrienne Young
Series : Fable #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

I crushed this in a day, simply because I could not put it down. FABLE was the start of a strong duology, all at sea. It was a tale of survival, family and bonds stronger than family. Fable was a deep sea diver and everything about that was fascinating.

I’d dove almost every day since I was a child. The water was more of a home than Jeval ever was.

Fable herself was a strong young woman, almost feral but human under the shell. She had been abandoned in a place where food and resources were sparce. I was completely puzzled by her situation but quickly admiring of the adversity she had overcome and continued to overcome. I loved the subtle unveiling of her skills.

As a character Fable was rich in personality even though she revealed little of herself to those around her. I was intruiged by the Marigold and the crew, especially the helmsman, West. How the story interwove the characters and plot points was so clever. The relationship with her father was truly captivating, frustrating and and heart-breaking.

The writing in FABLE just made me disappear into the world and the worlds; I highlighted a lot. The story and the characters really hit the spot with me but I am partial to an adventure set on the seas. This is my favourite of Adrienne Young’s books so far. I cannot wait to read the second part, I need it now.

The silence of the sea found us, my heartbeat quieting, and I painted each moment into my mind.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for the early review copy.

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH by Adalyn Grace

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer – the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder – and more peril – than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever. 


Title : All the Stars and Teeth
Author : Adalyn Grace
Series : All the Stars and Teeth #1
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 416
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : August 4, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

This book wowed me on a number of fronts, I found it a totally unexpected YA fantasy with very little resting on predictable tropes or plot directions. I thought Adalyn Grace was a fresh voice and I didn’t realise how much I was ready for that kind of palate cleansing until I read this.

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH was unapologetically gory and blood-thirsty in parts, there was no smoothing of the gritty and I embraced this world masked by secrets. The protagonist, Amora was the most un-princessy princess I’ve come across in a while. She was fiesty, uninterested in appearances, she wanted to be a fighter and a sailor. She also had serious wanderlust.

The start of the story had her world come crashing down and everything unleased from there, dark magic, sea monsters, a pirate, a mermaid and some very shady characters. The characters that became the crew of Keel Haul found their way into my heart, so that by the end I was so fond of them. Alongside Amora, Bastian was a great character, his secrets and magic were fascinating. The low-level romance was pitched just right.

One of the best things about this book was the feminist tone throughout. I’m about to drop a mild SPOILER in here, so skim on if you don’t want to read that. In the story, Amora had a very obvious period accident on her clothing…we do not read these things enough in books and I commend Adalyn Grace for including this and also for how she wrote the guys’ reactions to it. Everything about Amora was generally feminist and the male characters in the Keel Haul crew had feminist undertones too.

This gorgeous cover contained a great debut and series starter all rolled into one. I simply cannot wait to be back with these characters and read on with the series. This is definitely a 2020 read I’m going to remember.

Thank you to Titan Books for the review copy.