YOU AND ME ON VACATION by Emily Henry – double review!

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart–she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown–but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together–lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?


Title : You and Me On Vacation (UK) / People We Meet On Vacation
Author : Emily Henry
Narrator : Julia Whelan
Format : Paperback/Audio/eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : romance
Publisher : Penguin UK / Berkley
Release Date : May 11, 2021

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


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Roller coaster friendship/love
Holiday vibes
Chem-is-try

There was nothing that I didn’t enjoy about Emily Henry’s upcoming release. The fact that she delivers on summery read to remember (again) and that I was lucky to read and listen in tandem to this book. Both formats were as good as one another.

You and Me on Vacation was told over a number of summers, charting the most lovely friendship; in the main this was platonic…until it wasn’t. Then, oh boy, the chemistry set fire to the pages, slowly.

We’re magnets, trying to draw together even as we cradle the careful distance between us.

In all the ways, both Poppy and Alex were opposite in personality and goals. They worked so well as friends and their summer trips were fun expeditions and something they both lived for. I loved seeing these trips unfurl as the years were recounted. I loved the people they met, the places they went but nothing was more interesting than THIS SUMMER. I loved getting back to that narrative.

The pages of this book, the minutes of the audio just turned themselves and I was sad to get to the end. Emily Henry knows how to inject just a little drama and tension with a great contemporary story. I’m here for next summer’s installment!

Narration-wise, this was single POV and single narration and it was excellent. I got all the sense of characterisation and the emotional feels from the listen. It’s such a perfect format to absorb the story while on literal vacation!

Thank you to Penguin for the gorgeous book and audio early copies.


Hollis’ 4 star review

I absolutely loved Beach Read so to say People We Meet On Vacation was highly anticipated would be an understatement. Expectations were high (sorry self! sorry book!). Then I found out it was a best-friends-to-lovers romance and I braced myself; it’s not one of my favourite tropes (though I like it a lot more than second chance romances) and the track record for enjoyment has been pretty hit or miss. I don’t mind people who initially start as friends and transition but long-time friends to more? I don’t know, I’m generally not sold.

But this might be a new favourite?

He is tall, quiet, and eager to see the library. I’m short, loud, and hoping someone comes by and invites us to a real party. By the time we part ways, I’m fairly confident we’ll never speak again.

The way this story was told flirts with that “one day a year in the life” concept but in a much better way. Also, on the topic, the flashback element? Solid. Sometimes it just does not work well but it was so good. Particularly how it built. Also also this was one of the better-done third act breakups (it’s not a spoiler, we all know to expect it!) because I hate manufactured drama and this just felt perfectly timed for r e a s o n s.

When a hot babe approaches you at a bar, the number one thing you should not bring up is your codependent relationship with your asshole cat.”
First of all, Flannery O’Connor is not an asshole. She’s shy.”
She’s evil.
She just doesn’t like you. You have strong dog energy.”

This doesn’t quite get full marks from me but I think that’s my fault. Mostly. The ARC has some minor but annoying formatting issues, yes, but more than anything I think I just read this too fast. I did not savour this experience and I wonder if maybe I should’ve soaked up the feels and the nuance and the awkward and the everything else that this book did such a good job of doing. I will definitely be adding this to the re-read pile and I hope to eventually come back and bump this up a little higher. But it’s still such a great time. Because of the sorta-grumpy-sunshine mix. The millenial ennui. The way so much just didn’t go according to plan. The heart. The so much more I’m not even touching on.

I think you’ll like this! And if nothing else you can live vicariously through the vacation and jetsetting. That alone is worth picking this up. The laughs and swoons are just a bonus.

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

LOVE IS FOR LOSERS by Wibke Brueggeman

A laugh out loud look at first love, loss and trying to avoid the girl of your dreams.

What a stupid expression that is in the first place: To fall in love.
Like you fall into a ditch or something.
Maybe people need to look where they’re going.

As far as Phoebe Davies is concerned, love is to be avoided at all costs. Why would you spend your life worrying about something that turns you into a complete moron? If her best friend Polly is anything to go by, the first sniff of a relationship makes you forget about your friends (like, hello?), get completely obsessed with sex (yawn) and bang on constantly about a person who definitely isn’t as great as you think they are.

So Phoebe isn’t going to fall in love, ever.
But then she meets Emma . . .

Love is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann is a hilarious, life-affirming novel about all the big stuff: love, sex, death, family, heartbreak, kittens . . . and kisses that turn the whole world upside down.


Title : Love Is For Losers
Author : Wibke Brueggeman
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 508
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Macmillan Children’s Books
Release Date : May 28, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Love Is For Losers has a strong and powerful British narrative voice, that is told in a diary format. I loved this format and it accounts for why there are so many pages in the book, it isn’t necessarily a long book but spacing for the diary accounts for some of this.

Phoebe, the protagonist is the kind of character with a big chip on her shoulder, shes spikey, hard to like and I only just got to like by the end. Despite her character, there are many reasons to still enjoy the book because not every protagonist regurgitates hearts and rainbows. Phoebe is on a journey in this book, reconciliation with the state of her maternal relationship, finding first love and losing friends. I found it to be a compelling read.

I did have struggles however with Phoebe, some early attitude towards disability was annoying, even though it was corrected. She was pretty judgey with all of those around her and she didn’t really endear herself to the reader. She came across as immature, judgmental and in need of some familial love. I felt annoyed at her mum and found her to be selfish, so I got where some of that element came from.

Overall, this was a solid read with many enjoyable facets. The diary writing style made it very engaging and kept me invested. There was great open dialogue about sex and sexuality for this mid-teen age group. I would definitely read this author again.

Thank you to Macmillan Kids UK for the early review copy.

A VOW SO BOLD AND DEADLY by Brigid Kemmerer – double review!

Face your fears, fight the battle.

Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace. 

Fight the battle, save the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and a magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.

As the two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and a dangerous enemy returns, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.


Title : A Vow So Bold and Deadly
Author : Brigid Kemmerer
Series : Cursebreakers (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)/audio review
Page Count : 408
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Bloomsbury YA/Audio
Release Date : January 26, 2021

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think I’m only actually bothering to review this one because I have reviews for the first two on the blog and so my completionist gene poked me to.. well, complete the trilogy of reviews. But overall I really don’t have much to say?

I think ultimately what failed this series, though, was the villain. Where it worked was that often the stakes did feel high because the violence and death toll was real. The author did not shy away from some of the more brutal consequences. But at the same time.. like, it felt not high at all? I still struggle with the motivations of it all, really. It felt a bit like a misstep because the whole conflict felt off balance. And then ultimately.. I mean, really? All that for.. what.

But likewise I feel like the other characters, too, had their moments with this. Maybe that’s why this series never achieved great heights for me. I think I like the concepts and the unfolding of the story but kept getting knocked out of it because the characters themselves didn’t quite match the rest.

Having said that, though, the big confrontation conflict moment? Confusing. Chaos. Hard to follow. And then.. over. That is my biggest gripe with this particular installment. I had lost the love over the main pairing back at the end of book one, or early two, so I was only into the secondary pairing, and they definitely delivered. The first? Less so. But I think that also plays into me just not being into the main plot? And is why I liked book two more? Did I rate this book too high? Is this actually a 2.5? Hm.

Anyway. Overall, this series had some things to like about it but also had enough that either didn’t pan out or just didn’t work for me. But it also made for quick reads (this one being no exception) and I’m not mad about the time I spent in this world; but nor will they linger in my memory; which is totally fine. I need every ounce of salvagable free space in my brain I can get.


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Family fighting
New roles for old friends
The threat of war

I’m feeling an overall sense of satisfaction with where the series has left readers and the latter part of the reading journey was incredibly fulfilling. Some of the middle journey didn’t always keep me fully engaged.

The two factions of this story were really pitched against one another at the end of the previous book with the queen of evil in the middle. I appreciated the stories on both sides of this but what has been hugely interesting to me has been my own feelings across the series as I’ve gravitated from one set of characters to another in terms of loyalty. I wanted to stay in Grey’s crew and had to remind myself to care about Rhen and Harper. I do feel like Harper’s character has faded a little across the series. Lia Mara still left me feeling a bit ambivalent.

Things I enjoyed about this installment included the strategy, the uncertainty that characters had of one another, healing of old hurts and reconciliations. It felt good to complete the series.

This was an audio listen and I enjoyed the narrators, the atmosphere and the general vibe of the book in this format. There was an early slip up with one narrator saying ‘Lia Maria’ instead of Lia Mara a few times, but it didn’t get repeated more than twice.

Readers new to the series will get to power through the three books and I think this will be a great binge.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for this audio review copy.

PROJECT HAIL MARY by Andy Weir – double review!

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission – and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crew mates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realises that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian – while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.


Title : Project Hail Mary
Author : Andy Weir
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : Sci-Fi
Publisher : Del Rey UK
Release Date : May 4, 2021

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


Micky’s 5 star review

Headlines:
Rookie astronaut
Dystopia background
A rainbow of emotions

Just wow. I feel like Project Hail Mary has spoilt me for other books in 2021 and it’s only April. So much could be said about the plot but everything would potentially be spoilery, so this review will be more about the reading experience than context. All I can say about context is that Earth was in peril, the protagonist Ryland Grace was an unusual ‘saviour’ and that the story was complex but so wonderfully deep and follow-able. I highlighted a lot but again, no quotes shared here so as not to spoil.

I am science-geeky, I like my sci-fi reads to be well grounded in science and good research. This book had all that and more. For me, this book might just top The Martian or at least tie, in terms of that kind of goodness. What we got in this book was a deep sophistication of writing alongside the most amazing plot.

I didn’t expect the story direction but I delighted in it. I adored Rocky and that Rookie-Rocky connection so damn much. I loved the linguistics, the materials, the experiments, the in-space context as well as the earth context. The past and present narrative was excellently executed and not overused. It had a real purpose in this story and when answers from the past came, they really were worth the wait.

There were so many banter-y moments of dialogue/monologue, sarcasm, laugh out loud moments that made this signature Weir. However, there were bucket-loads of tension and surprisingly, I found myself in tears twice, once in sadness and another time in pure joy.

I cannot imagine this not being at the top ten of 2021 reads, it’s definitely a contender and totally unforgettable. Please, please can we have a film too? I imagine this is going to be epic on audio and so I’ll be planning in a re-read that way.

Thank you DelReyUK for the early review copy, you made my year!


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

So I definitely did not like this as much as my buddy (hi buddy!) but I did like it.

Despite my insane love for The Martian (the movie), I’ve actually not read the book, or any Weir, so this was my first experience with the author. And wow he really doesn’t skimp on the science! Page after page had me feeling more and more stupid but it was also.. easy to follow? Like, nothing was dummed down but it was still explained in a way that I understand. So on behalf of dummies everywhere, thank you?

While there was some humour, however, I didn’t much like the dialogue. Whether this character in particular was supposed to be a little weird or a little silly or just offbeat, or that’s just how the author writes (I can’t say!), I don’t know. But I found it was a weird balance.

There is plenty of uncertainty, suspense, some feels, and yes, a few laughs. There are definitely moments that stand out for me (Rocky!) but overall I don’t think I’ll think much about this overall. But that said, this is very actiony and tense and exciting and, honestly, will make a fabulous movie. I would definitely watch it.

KATE IN WAITING by Becky Albertalli

Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.

But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.

Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship. 


Title : Kate In Waiting
Author : Becky Albertalli
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Penguin
Release Date : April 22, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Sweet, fun and musical
Friendships colliding and together
School crushes

This was an easy, fun and light read from Becky Albertalli. Kate In Waiting was uplifting with strong themes of friendship; I mean we’re not surprised about that, are we? Musical theatre fans will gush towards this book because it’s framed around a high school drama/musical theatre group. While I’m not a groupie of that kind of entertainment, I still enjoyed the backdrop and got on board with the ride.

This read was all about the bonds within the group, but friendships were tested as crushes grew. It was funny throughout with mild tension at times and it brought a welcome light-vibe to my week. Becky Albertalli has a skill of getting you involved in friendships groups and she can make you connect with more than the MC; I did in this.

While this wasn’t my Albertalli favourite it was fun and easy to sink into.

Side note: I don’t ever want to see the phrase f**kboy or f-boy 63 times again.

Thank you Penguin for the early review copy.

ARIADNE by Jennifer Saint

A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS.

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.


Title : Ariadne
Author : Jennifer Saint
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 388
Genre : Mythology/Retelling
Publisher : Wildfire Books
Release Date : April 29, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★. 5


Micky’s 4. 5 star review

Headlines:
Feminist and sisterhood
Bittersweet
Betrayal
I’m so over Greek mythology men

I was captivated by the writing and story of Aridane’s world very quickly but honestly, don’t come into this story expecting gentleness. Ariadne was told with raw brutality at times, no holds barred and personally, I appreciated the gritty immersion. Please do check trigger warnings on other reviews or dm me for details.

The story was ladened with tragedy and also times of happiness but there was always that overwhelming sense of foreboding. It wasn’t a book that left you settled, it left me on edge and tense. Most of these feelings stemmed from the male characters in this book, mortal and god alike. Misogyny was rife but some of the key male characters were simply awful.

I had cried all the tears I thought I could ever produce; I had spat and screamed and now I felt strangely cleansed.

The separate stories of Ariadne and Phaedra were so interesting and I had such hopes for their presents, futures and their ability to deal with the past. The legacy of their experiences was a heavy burden and these sisters were close but driven apart by circumstances.

The tone of the story was broadly feminist with a sense of sisterhood at the heart of it. The children were also a balm to the tragedies. I’m not going to lie, I did struggle with the conclusion a little but it was true to the tale and to the tone of the book overall.

Ariadne was an immersive experience with the kind of writing that got you lost in the page. It was a truly impressive debut. The cover is stunning and I’ve ordered myself a finished copy. I can’t wait to see which story Jennifer Saint will retell next.

Thank you to Wildfire Books/Headline for the early review copy.

cxz

BROKEN FRENCH by Tasha Boyd

A widowed, billionaire, single dad romance.

Josie thought she was getting a promotion at her architectural firm, but instead her career implodes. She impulsively takes up her roommates’ offer to nanny for a little girl on a mega yacht in the South of France. Even though she can’t stand boats, this seems like fate giving her an opportunity to lick her wounds in a bucket list paradise while she figures out how to get her life back.

But this little girl she’s arrived to look after has a daddy. A widowed, hot, young, billionaire of a daddy. A man who, for all his wealth, is grumpy, conceited, and utterly closed off.

Xavier Pascale is on an emotional island of his own making. It’s just him and his daughter and he likes it that way. He works hard, his shareholders are happy, his best friends are his body guard, and the people who work for him. What’s wrong with that? But then he meets Josephine Marin. Her arrival in his life is like a deep ocean tremor along a catastrophic emotional fault line. And now… well, now, he’s very, very aware of his isolation and his very human need. But he can’t be distracted. When he gets distracted terrible things happen.

He should send the nanny home.
He really should.
But what if he just takes what he wants, just this one time …

This is a standalone, contemporary romance. It includes luscious scenes of sparkling blue ocean, and tantalizing, seductive food, as well as a smoking hot, dirty-talking Frenchman. If traveling scares you, or sexy times scare you, then this book is not for you. But if you’re looking for a decadent armchair vacation after being stuck in one place for over a year–that will make you laugh, swoon, and cry–then this one is for you!


Title : Broken French
Author : Tasha (Natasha) Boyd
Format : eARC
Page Count : 499
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Self-published
Release Date : April 26, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Yachting around the coast of France
Nanny-single dad
Chem-is-try
Plot depth

Broken French brought all the French visuals and smells to this pale, English reader. Visuals of turquoise seas, sun, yachts, bread, wine and the most delightful little family that took a second and third glance to get to know. Alongside this, there was a found-family crew that was endearing.

The protagonist, Josephine was not really a nanny but one by circumstance. Her quick entry into the lives of this family was both awkward and natural all at once. Josephine had a temper and bite but Xavier came across arrogant and cold. Xavier’s dad-skills had a lot to do with my tolerance of him until I got to know him better.

If the nanny trope is not your favourite, I want to tell you that this felt so much more than that. There was a depth to the characters and story, a unexpected turn of events, some suspense and a bucketful of chemisty. I’m still fanning my face over here.

Dauphine was a signficant part of why I enjoyed the story. She wasn’t precocious as I imagined and the bond between her and Josephine was pretty gorgeous to observe.

This longer than normal romance was worth every page and the depth to the plot and story in general was refreshing. I am delighted to have read a new Tasha Boyd book after her hiatus and I definitely look forward to more.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

THE INTIMACY EXPERIMENT by Rosie Danan

Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test.


Title : The Intimacy Experiment
Author : Rosie Danan
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 336
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus, Little Brown UK
Release Date : April 6, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Faith & Intimacy
Rabbi & Naomi
Refreshingly sweet & deep

I liked Naomi in The Roommate but it was a mild interest. In The Intimacy Experiment, Naomi’s character was slowly evolving and revealed. She kept that hard, successful shell but there was more to her.

It cannot be escaped that what made this book so great was the idea of a Rabbi and an ex-sex worker. But it’s so much more than that, there were deeper themes of faith and intimacy that I found really poignant. I do have a faith, but I’m not Jewish. I have scoured reviews to find some own voices take on how the reform Jewish perspective was conveyed but I can’t find any. I really enjoyed that aspect but I will continue to look out for own voices reviews.

“It’s simpler than that. I want to give people a reason to believe. In themselves, each other, and something more.”

There was a softness to this book that gave me something more to feed my reading soul. The vulnerabilities and honesty of both main characters really hit the spot for me. Ethan especially had such a kind and genuine soul, his lack of judgement but also his humanity really drew me into the story. I highlighted so many lines, bits of dialogue, inner monologue that just hit the gut with me. I will forever think of “the cuddling incident”.

The Intimacy Experiment brought a fresh take to this year’s contemporary romance and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I can’t wait to read more from Rosie Danan.

Thank you to Piatkus for the review copy.

MALICE by Heather Walter

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who cursed a line of princesses to die, and could only be broken by true love’s kiss. You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one actually cares about what happens to our princesses. I thought I didn’t care, either. Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to the throne. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating – and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again. Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I-

I am the villain.


Title : Malice
Author : Heather Walter
Format : Paperback ARC
Length : 468
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Del Rey UK
Release Date : April 13, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Headline:
Twisty plot
Retelling heaven, so fresh
Exponential explosion

Welp, what am I supposed to do with myself now? Malice consumed my down time in a work week, going to bed reading it, waking up thinking about it, finishing and now staring into the distance…

So cleverly written, Malice delivered a plot of intricacy that was carefully built and easily followed. Inspired by Sleeping Beauty but really, so far removed, Alyce was a wonderful, morally grey protagonist. She was oppressed but slowly rising above that difficult life, inspired by the cursed crowned princess Aurora. The contrast of the graces’ powers and the dark grace’s power was such an interesting aspect to the story. Rose was a complex, love to hate character.

Aylce and Aurora’s friendship to more was so well written and credible but also, it was peppered with problems, roadblocks and ultimately a lot of difficulties. While I got to know Aurora less than I hoped (I’m such a greedy reader), there was enough connection there. As an Alyce fan, I needed some better times for her, people to trust (like who?), and friendship.

I am beyond glad there’s another book because I’m in freefall. I need some resolution, some more Alyce, some revenge, some regret. I think you can see that I have all the feelings.

This was a stunning read, a page-turner and the kind of book that makes you wish away the months till you can get hold of the next. I highly advise taking a dive into this book.

Thank you to DelRey UK for the early review copy.

DARK LULLABY by Polly Ho-Yen

For fans of Black Mirror and The Handmaid’s Tale, in Dark Lullaby a mother desperately tries to keep her family together in a society where parenting standards are strictly monitored.

When Kit decides to have a child, she thinks she’s prepared. She knows how demanding Induction is. She’s seen children Extracted. But in a society where parenting is strictly monitored under the watchful gaze of OSIP (The Office of Standards in Parenting), she is forced to ask herself how far she will go to keep her family together. 


Title : Dark Lullaby
Author : Polly Ho-Yen
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : Dystopian
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : March 23, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 2.5 – 3 star review

Dark Lullaby was a tale centred around infertility dystopia and needless to say, this was a story that was mostly impactful on women. The book plunged the reader immediately into a sad and oppressive world where there seemed to be limited hope and expectations for people. This world was very similar to the world we exist in now. As a reader, you did feel the various stages of desperation that the women in this book experienced. I would have liked more from the male characters in the book.

It was a discomforting read as you would imagine, but it was also an unsatisfying read for me. The story was told in ‘then’ and ‘now’ and this element was executed well but I was left wondering about issues all the way through, some of which were never answered. There were conveniences in the plot that I struggled with; the ending felt rushed.

Overall, I was left somewhat unsatisfied throughout the read and in the culmination. The theme of the story had all the potential, the characters were not necessarily likeable but they were robustly developed. I don’t why this just didn’t hit the spot for me considering my enjoyment of dytopia. I’m a huge fan of The Handmaid’s Tale that also tackles this theme of infertility changing the world but that book was so much more, in my opinion.

Thank you to Titan Books for the early review copy. Dark Lullaby is out now.