DANGEROUS WOMEN by Hope Adams

Nearly two hundred condemned women on board a sailing ship bound for Australia. One of them is a murderer. From debut author Hope Adams comes a thrilling novel based on the 1841 voyage of the convict ship Rajah, about confinement, hope, and the terrible things we do to survive.

London, 1841. One hundred eighty Englishwomen file aboard the Rajah, embarking on a three-month voyage to the other side of the world.

They’re daughters, sisters, mothers–and convicts.

Transported for petty crimes.

Except one of them has a deadly secret, and will do anything to flee justice.

As the Rajah sails farther from land, the women forge a tenuous kinship. Until, in the middle of the cold and unforgiving sea, a young mother is mortally wounded, and the hunt is on for the assailant before he or she strikes again.

Each woman called in for question has something to fear: Will she be attacked next? Will she be believed? Because far from land, there is nowhere to flee, and how can you prove innocence when you’ve already been found guilty?


Title : Dangerous Women
Author : Hope Adams
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 400
Genre : Historical Fiction
Publisher : Michael Joseph Books
Release Date : March 4, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Suspense on the seas
Desperation
Emotive
Gritty themes

The cover of this book swept me away initally, followed by the synopsis. Reading the book totally lived up to my hopes and expectations. I would categorise this as a historical suspense. Its strengths partially lie in the fact that this story context is reality, the voyage of convicts being transported and occupying themselves by making a quilt. The other strength was the execution, the writing that transported me along with the passengers of the ship.

The story was told from the POV of the ship’s ‘matron’ Kezia, a 23 year old women of respectable background, there to oversee the female convicts on their way to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania). There were other POVs of some of the prominent convict characters. There was a stabbing some weeks into the journey (this is the the blurb, no spoiler here) and much of the story I spent speculating and getting it wrong.

This was very much a women’s book, about women, for women, understanding women of that era However, these women were ever at the mercy of men and it wasn’t set in a time where women were empowered so I wouldn’t necessarily call this a feminist read. However Kezia did have her moments of assertion among the leading men of the ship.

This was a compelling tale, with twists and turns. Ship life had all the smells, hardship and difficulty you might imagine but the description enhanced your sense of these womens’ existence. I would have loved an epilogue of what happened to these women after they got to their destination. I wanted to know if they really got their new chance.

We’re many small pieces, each of us different but now stitched together. A patchwork of souls.

If you love historical reads and/or if you love suspenseful reads, Dangerous Women will not disappoint. There are triggers in here for some and please check out other reviews or message me if you want details.

Thank you to Michael Joseph Books for the review copy.

NAMESAKE by Adrienne Young

Trader. Fighter. Survivor.

With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and its crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when she becomes a pawn in a notorious thug’s scheme. In order to get to her intended destination she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.

As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception she learns that her mother was keeping secrets, and those secrets are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save them then she must risk everything, including the boy she loves and the home she has finally found.

Filled with action, emotion, and lyrical writing, New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with Namesake, the final book in the captivating Fable duology.


Title : Namesake
Author : Adrienne Young
Series : Fable #2
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : March 16, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Cover win & inside goodness
Full & satisfying
Trousers over dresses

Helmsman. Dredger. Trader. Orphan. Father. Daughter.

This second piece in the duology did not let me down. I can’t tell you how relieved that makes me when I loved book one, there’s always that trepidation over the next one. This story, this crew, Fable and West really captured my book-loving heart and being able to follow the story to completion was everything.

Interestingly, Fable was a little less tough and a little more weepy in Namesake, showing a vulnerability I didn’t expect. Talking of expectations, family continued to be a key theme in this instalment and it was hard to trust anyone related to Fable.

One of the things that captivated me in Fable was the diving and dredging; I loved for those moments in this book too and there were plenty. I just found that element so interesting, vivid, dangerous and wild.

Even from above, I could feel them – the soft songs of the gemstones hidden in the reef below.

West really struck me with the faith he had in Fable. She pulled some tough decisions, some gut feelings that weren’t based in much and he made things happen as a consequence. West was morally grey but 100% committed. I loved how their power dynamic played out, push and pull but one more in control than the other.

I am all satisfaction at the story, pacing and characterisation of this duology. This will sit happily on my shelves as a favourite.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for the early review copy.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT by Clare Pooley

Six strangers with one universal thing in common: their lives aren’t always what they make them out to be.

What would happen if they told the truth instead?

Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life.

Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighbourhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she’ll be inspired to write down her own story.

Little do they realize that such small acts of honesty hold the power to impact all those who discover the notebook and change their lives completely.


Title : The Authenticity Project
Author : Clare Pooley
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Penguin Books
Release Date : February 18, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines
Uplifting
Friendships and bonds
Preconceptions smashed

I’ve heard about this book in the last year, all positive murmurings. The actual experience of reading it was pretty joyful to be honest. It was real, fun and it was about friendships across age groups. I adored that aspect as it’s something I personally identify with.

The idea of this notebook, encouraging the next person to pick it up, to be authentic, was powerful without being preachy. How this book brought together this eclectic group of people and how they bonded was the kind of reading you get immersed in. Julian was a favourite, despite his flaws. His flamboyance, his eccentricity and spirit touched my heart throughout.

The themes of everyday difficulties, jobs, relationships, addictions and loneliness brought a sense of realism and ordinary-ness to the book. It also made the story feel identifiable in many ways. Added to this were a number of unexpected turns alongside a few expected ones as well.

I think it would be hard for anyone to pick this up and not feel enchanted.

Thank you to Penguin Random House and Adventures with words for the review copy.

ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWN by Talia Hibbert – double review!

In Act Your Age, Eve Brown the flightiest Brown sister crashes into the life of an uptight B&B owner and has him falling hard—literally.

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior. 


Title : Act Your Age, Eve Brown
Author : Talia Hibbert
Series : The Brown Sisters (book three)
Format : eARC/audio
Page Count : 400/10 hours 51 minutes
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Avon / Little Brown UK
Release Date : March 9, 2021

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


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

I mean, is anyone surprised that this was a delight? Nope. Because I don’t think Hibbert can do any wrong. And The Brown Sisters series has been truly wonderful and I’m pretty sad it’s over. But.. might there be hope of a spinoff? With the Montroses? Pretty please?

[..] you’re not even supposed to give them bread.
You aren’t? Oh dear. Why on earth not?
It’s bad for the disgestion! Christ, woman, read a waterfowl blog.”
Which you do because..
Because. Know thine enemy.

This final installment was a grumpy/sunshine delight of a matchup. These are two such very different characters and their first interaction, quickly followed by disaster, certainly set the tone for their wee bicker banter battles. The evolution from that, to friends, to scorching, to more, well.. it was delicious and fun and sweet and also a little heartbreaking. What added to the loveliness of this pairing wasn’t just their differences, though, but also how they fit together almost like two sides of the same coin. Not the same but alike.

Jacob’s attitude was rather like a barbed-wire fence; designed to rip you to shreds if you got too close, but only to protect something special.

While I still think I maintain that book one, Get a Life, Chloe Brown, was my favourite, as much as seeing the sisters and their partners was nice, it didn’t get me as excited as I would’ve thought, as Eve was truly was the star of her own story. And I just wanted more time with her. Jacob, too, was just.. I can’t think of any word but special. But he was.

[..] the world would be a much better place if they stopped congratulating themselves on being normal and started to accept that there were countless different normals, and Jacob’s kind was just as fine as everyone else’s.

My only tiny complaints were the third act drama, though now that I’m outside of the moment I think I’m less bothered by it in hindsight, it’s far from the worst I’ve read!, and the ending. Despite the sweetness of the moment, and how it’s not leading upto what you might think, it did end a tad abruptly and I was left bereft; and not just because it’s over.

This is such a lovely town. I don’t know how you manage to stay so grumpy when you live here.”
Through great force of will.”

If somehow you’ve managed to resist picking up this series, or even a single Hibbert, I’m here to yell at you until you change your mind. This is a much beloved author for a reason and you will be better for reading her books. I can’t wait to see where she goes from here and, surprising no one, will pick up whatever she releases next.

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


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Neurodivergent rep
Steam
Bad driving
Sisterhood
Did I mention steam?

There’s something just so easy about sinking into a series where you know something about the characters and The Brown Sisters is a series that has really floated my boat from the start. As with the other Brown sisters, Eve was wholly individual but also quirky, confident and yet not.

The story started with a blow-up, an escape and a bang as Eve found herself in the Lake District which was pretty fun but <enter side left> came Jake. Abrupt, grumpy, perfectionist and with a hard shell, Jake’s character had to be unravelled and Eve was certainly up to the task.

This story had elements of the ridiculous (just as life is sometimes) and the combination of Eve and Jake interacting and at odds with each other brought much humour, me sniggering and dialogue that you just couldn’t make up. I can’t deny that when the family came together in the story I had moments of cosily settling in, seeing these sisters and their partners together.

The representation in this book felt genuine, not forced. The story repped neurodivergent characteristic and body positive behaviour with sloganed T-shirts. All these things for the win. I would be interested in finding some neurodivergent #ownvoices reviews to check how this felt on reading.

Overall, Act Your Age, Eve Brown was a pleasurable read with intense heat and the wit I’ve come to know Talia Hibbert for. These books go on the re-read pile.

I did a combination of physical and audiobook and the narration (dual POV) was excellent and fitted the mood and characters really well.

Thank you Piatkus, Little Brown and LibroFM for the early review copies.

PERFECT ON PAPER by Sophie Gonzales – double review!

In Sophie Gonzales’ Perfect on Paper, Leah on the Offbeat meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: a bisexual girl who gives anonymous love advice to her classmates is hired by the hot guy to help him get his ex back

Her advice, spot on. Her love life, way off.

Darcy Phillips:
• Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes―for a fee.
• Uses her power for good. Most of the time.
• Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham.
• Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke…who is in love with someone else.
• Does not appreciate being blackmailed.

However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89―out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service―that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach―at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.

Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.

Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong?


Title : Perfect on Paper
Author : Sophie Gonzales
Format : eARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ contemporary romance
Publisher : Wenesday Books/Hachette Kids-TeamBKMK
Release Date : March 9, 2021

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

It’s always strange to like something but have complicated thoughts or feelings about aspects of it.. and yet still can’t help but rate it highly. That’s really where I’m at. I don’t think this is going to be a particularly informative or cohesive review, just warning you now.

Overall I just want to say how happy I am that, conflicted confusedness aside, it is easier to like to this vs how I felt about Only Mostly Devastated, which just didn’t settle with me very well. The abovementioned was so messy and while we do have some mess, some misguided elements in Perfect on Paper, it was.. a more acceptable mess, if that makes sense. Or maybe I was just more forgiving of it.

You do realize I’m agreeing with you here?
I guess I’ve never had agreement feel so much like an argument.”

I can definitely suspend some of my disbelief at how competent a sixteen year old was at dispensing sage and well researched romantic advice to her peers but the narrative is pushed that said advise is well researched, well intentioned, so I can probably eat that one. And what helps to sell it is that while she’s being paid, she’s doing it to help others, as a passion project, and that goes a long way vs just doing it just for cash or to collect secrets on her peers. The motivation changes everything.

Did a fight lead to the breakup?
More or less. I guess I gave her an ultimatum.
You didn’t.”
I wish that were true.
Why didn’t you just throw a fucking grenade between you while you were at it?

So many elements of this felt strong; the mention but lack of focus, or harping, on her sister’s transition. The discussion around queerness, specifically internalized and externalized biphobia. The ego checks our lead received throughout regarding missteps in advice, in realizing some people didn’t want her help, and more.

Where I think this was a bit weak, even though it played a big role, was her relationship with her best friend and, initially, the characterization of a love interest. Eventually the latter smoothed out but I do wonder if I missed something to explain why he behaved the way he did in the beginning. I’m not quite complaining as I found the interactions totally delightful because of how frustrating they found each other, but I still wish maybe something had been offered up as a why. But for the best friend, well.. I don’t know. Something never really sat right about that dynamic. And I don’t want to touch on too much for risk of spoilers — and a few other niggles are maybe too specific to mention for that same reason — so.. insert vague vagueries here.

I don’t know if this review is coming across as positive as a four star would warrant but I’ll refer you back to my opening paragraph. Something about this just confuses me even though I enjoyed it so so much. Was it perfect? No. But it did just enough right. And I was just so happy about the ending, particularly one little interaction that shouldn’t be so momentous, and may not even be remarked by many, but just.. wrecked me a bit. Left me so soft. And that combined with the fact that I couldn’t tear myself away from this, well.. here we are.

After my (albeit, strange) success with this sophomore release, I’m even more excited for what is to come for this author.

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


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Page turner
LGBTQIA+ rep for days
Incredibly cute

A clever story was contained in these pages, all centred around Locker 89 and Darcy. Darcy was bi-sexual, crushing on her friend and seemed to limit her life options and expectations. She also ran an advice service through locker 89 (you’d have to read to understand). Now I’ve got that out of the way, I can talk about my own expectations – I had no idea where the romance of this story was going to go for the first part; I loved the lack of expectation.

Friendships were on the menu, a smattering of drama, lots of secrets and lies and problematic parents. I liked Brooke but only a bit, Ray definintely grew on me, Ainsley was fab and Brougham delivered on the slow building chemistry. Brougham slowly defrosted in this story and I enjoyed the reveal of his character.

There was something special about being seen the way that Brougham seemed to see me.

There was something flawed and cocky about Darcy but also plenty of self-realisation and awareness to mitigate the cockiness. The bi context delved into the some really important experiences, which only enhanced the story even more. This book had a lovely pitch of light with the odd casting of darkness across the page. I loved that circle back around to the ‘job’ towards the end.

Perfect on Paper confirmed that Only Mostly Devastated was not a one-off piece of goodness, Sophie Gonzales followed that up with another superb offering. I still need to visit her back catalogue of titles.

Thank you to Hachette Kids & TeamBKMK for the early review copy.

MARRIAGE AND MURDER by Penny Reid – double review!

The Devil is in the details . . .

Cletus Byron Winston wishes to marry Jennifer Anne Donner-Sylvester (aka The Banana Cake Queen) posthaste! He’s spent the last year wanting nothing more than for the celebrations to be brief, libations flowing, and BYOB (bring your own blueberries). His future mother-in-law has other plans, plans his intended has been willing to indulge, much to Cletus’s chagrin. Therefore, so must he. To a point. But truth be told, he wouldn’t mind if the meddlesome matriarch disappeared, at least until the nuptials are over.

On the night of Cletus and Jenn’s long-awaited engagement party, just when the surly schemer is of a mind to take matters into his own hands, a shocking event upends everyone’s best laid plans and sends the small hamlet of Green Valley into complete disarray. The final months leading up to Cletus and Jenn’s matrimonial bliss are plagued with chaos and uncertainty. Will Cletus and Jenn finally make it to the altar? Or will murder and mayhem derail their happily-ever-after?
And most importantly, who done it?

‘Marriage and Murder’ is the second book in the cozy mystery series Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries. It is best read after Winston Brothers #3, ‘Beard Science’ (which can be read as a standalone) and Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries #1, ‘Engagement and Espionage.’


Title : Marriage and Murder
Author : Penny Reid
Series : Solving for Pie : Cletus and Jenn Mysteries (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 347
Genre : romance/contemporary mystery
Publisher : Cipher-Naught
Release Date : March 2, 2021

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

I snuck a peek at my review for book one of this series just to see if my feelings about this follow-up were on par and.. you know, mostly? Yes. Also it’s funny to see I had spent a sunday afternoon reading book one and here I spent a sunday morning reading this one. Sundays are for mysteries?

But to reiterate from my previous review, seriously, what is in the water in this town? I realize this is a “mystery” series spinoff from the main books but honestly. Town o’lunatics. Having said that, though, there were fewer characters who irritated me this time around (we love to see growth!) but the drama level is high. Even though I think this one was tamer.. in a few ways. Vague comments are vague.

Overall I find a lot of the conflicts in Reid’s books are a wee bit OTT but I think it feels manageable because her characters are also full of personality. So it all kind of feels on-par.. until you stop and think about it.

Cletus, one of the characters with the absolute most personality, however? He was really off his game in this one. There were reasons (excuses) given of course but it was interesting to see Reid put him through being.. well, fallible. Not quite the smartest in the room. I’m not sure I had many thoughts about Jenn, or about her realizations or the things she came to terms with, which may not be a good thing but neither was it bad. And, I mean, even though this is their series, overall it’s the ensemble that really sells this for me. As always.

Somewhat bonkers plot and conflict aside, even if my feelings overall are becoming bit muted about these books as time goes on, I still had a pretty good time being back in this world. And after all this time, and after all these books and spinoffs, it would take something pretty big to get me to stop reading at this point.

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


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Shenanigans upon shenanigans
Family crises
Cue Barry White music

Marriage and Murder took me by surpise in a few ways. Things happened fast and I did not expect that to happen. Another thing I didn’t expect in this book was the pace change in terms of the intimacy between Jenn & Cletus. Book one was a desert and book two was a flood. All the mayhem was wrapped up in the usual tone of the Winstons, Cletus especially bringing that sanguine, dry wit.

I didn’t always love the story in this one but I will always love the Winstons per se and we got lots of side servings. I particularly loved the Ash side storyline in this one, it was pretty special and I have missed Ashley a little. I could have done with a bit more Drew, though. The Iron Wraiths are a necessary evil in this book but they always discomfort me and I think they’re supposed to.

I liked seeing Jenn’s self confidence rise but I also didn’t feel like I got enough of Jenn’s psyche in this book, especially considering how all the events would have had such an impact on her.

The pacing was fast to lull, then it picked up again. Sometimes I had to push a little reading but the culmination was a doozy (a good one). This series is definitely one for the fans and Penny Reid pulls off the suspense alongside keeping the wit and romance of the Winstons.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

ALL THE TIDES OF FATE by Adalyn Grace

Through blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses.

No one can know about the curse in her bloodline. No one can know that she’s lost her magic. No one can know the truth about the boy who holds the missing half of her soul.

To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. As she tries to balance her loyalty to her people, her crew, and the desires of her heart, Amora will soon discover that the power to rule might destroy her.


Title : All The Tides Of Fate
Author : Adalyn Grace
Series : All The Stars & Teeth #2
Format : ebook/audio
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Titan Books/MacMillan Audio
Release Date : February 2, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ .5


3.5 stars

Headlines:
New roles
All at sea
Who needs a man?

This was ultimately a satisfying finale in this exciting duology from Adalyn Grace. I was fortunate to do both audio and the ebook, having review copies of both formats and I enjoyed both experiences. While this installment didn’t hit the heights of book one, I was still happy with the completion.

Amora seemed to have taken a few steps back initially in this book but she was in a new role and grieving. Expectations were heavy on her shoulders and she seemed to falter in decision-making, direction and leadership. Those early and mid-way wobbles made her believable but perhaps not as likeable. The whole, ‘search for a husband cover’ made me sigh heavily but the direction this went was a good outcome.

I felt happiest reading this book when the crew were back together on Keel Haul. I loved the voyages, the team, the banter and togetherness. One of the story directions killed me and I’m still not okay with that event.

This was a fast paced read/listen and pretty exciting with a great wrap up. The last 20% of the read was probably my favourite section. The narration was good with single pov narration that captured Amora, her age and her character well.

Thank you to Titan Books and Macmillan Audio for the early review copies.

BLOOD HEIR by Ilona Andrews – double review!

Atlanta was always a dangerous city. Now, as waves of magic and technology compete for supremacy, it’s a place caught in a slow apocalypse, where monsters spawn among the crumbling skyscrapers and supernatural factions struggle for power and survival.

Eight years ago, Julie Lennart left Atlanta to find out who she was. Now she’s back with a new face, a new magic, and a new name—Aurelia Ryder—drawn by the urgent need to protect the family she left behind. An ancient power is stalking her adopted mother, Kate Daniels, an enemy unlike any other, and a string of horrifying murders is its opening gambit.

If Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. So her plan is simple: get in, solve the murders, prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, and get out without being recognized. She expected danger, but she never anticipated that the only man she’d ever loved could threaten everything.

One small misstep could lead to disaster. But for Aurelia, facing disaster is easy; it’s relationships that are hard.


Title : Blood Heir
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Aurelia Ryder (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 359
Genre : urban fantasy / paranormal romance
Publisher : NYLA
Release Date : January 12, 2021

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

It happened. It really happened. We are back in the Kate Daniels universe. What a time to be alive.

However, so saying, I don’t even know where to begin writing this review. Everything kind of feels like a spoiler? Even though the synopsis reveals the score it still feels like it could be a surprise to those who are even more blurb and spoiler averse than myself. So suffice it to say.. you are in for so much fun.

My patience is an infinite lake. Feel free to drown yourself.

I feel like that quote, however, is a direct callout to the readers. Because these authors now know (always knew..) we are going to be clamouring for more and thankfully have quickly set expectations for their schedule. This series is not being traditionally published so it comes last in current commitments but from what I recall they said they would be starting to draft this year (incase you didn’t know they did confirm two more for this series) and maybe spending next year dealing with a bunch more self-published works? I think that even (finally) might mean more Hugh.. dreams do come true! But the fact that this even became a book at all is just.. I’m so happy.

I realize this review is mostly a discussion about the authors and book release, so, ahem. Here you go. I loved being back in this world, I loved the new direction, and I loved how things have shifted (hah.. sorry, shifter joke) for some of the familiar faces. Snark, banter, kickass battle sequences, weird ass monsters, nostalgia (for me AND our lead), complex magic, prophecies and destinies and predictions of death, and aaaaaangst. It is all here. Good times.

Also don’t forget to check out the little extras at the end! Even more good times.


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Happy sighs, favourite world
Slow burn
Secrets
Potential couple goals

I am all smiles that I got to read another book in this world when I thought re-reads would be the only balm on Kate Daniels need. I loved that even though there was much familiarity, there was also freshness to revel in.

Aurelia was unexpected and fierce. I really enjoyed the details of her character, her powers, her missing history was slowly revealed and I was always guessing about her. I know for sure there is more revealing to come as this series plays out.

Aurelia wasn’t the only familiar face to spring through the pages and some I knew would be coming and others bowled me over with a bit of a shock wave. This one wasn’t to gory for my delicate nature (I often had to grit my teeth through Kate Daniels gore). I felt like there was some nuture coming into play with Aurelia and the street kids. That was something that really drew me to Aurelia.

There’s a slow burn of something in this first installment and it oh so reminded me of Kate and Curran but again with a fresh feel. No details here but I found it pretty thrilling. Also banter, this world brings all the banter and I lap it up

“Stabby.” She claimed it wasn’t a proper name for a weapon, so after the first Dakkan broke, I offered to name the new one Sharpy McStabbison, the Son of Stabby.

Ilona Andrews fans will not be disappointed.

THE COVEN by Lizzie Fry

“Let me repeat myself, so we can be very clear. Women are not the enemy. We must protect them from themselves, just as much as we must protect ourselves.”

Imagine a world in which witchcraft is real. In which mothers hand down power to their daughters, power that is used harmlessly and peacefully.

Then imagine that the US President is a populist demagogue who decides that all witches must be imprisoned for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them – creating a world in which to be female is one step away from being criminal…

As witches across the world are rounded up, one young woman discovers a power she did not know she had. It’s a dangerous force and it puts her top of the list in a global witch hunt.

But she – and the women around her – won’t give in easily. Not while all of women’s power is under threat.

The Coven is a dazzling global thriller that pays homage to the power and potential of women everywhere.


Title : The Coven
Author : Lizzie Fry
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 448
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Sphere, Little Brown UK
Release Date : February 25, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star review

I’m here for dystopia and I’m here for fantasy, so bring me a pairing of the two and that’s pretty exciting. The Coven was a contemporary envisioning of a dystopian, patriachial future centred around the idea of erradication of witchcraft. In ways, this wasn’t a new topic, indeed the book leaned on the historical past we know of, to underpin the contemporary.

The book had an eclectic mix of characters and some shocking beginnings to grab you in to the story. There were character stories in parallel until they became one and I have to say, that aspect was very well written. I was doubly invested from the start. Chloe was such a hard character to like but her father was incredibly endearing. Adelita and Ethan were likeable from the start.

The story navigated oppression, misogyny, captivity, rebellion and some rather scary powers. After a strong first half, I did find elements of the storyline in the second half chaotic and I had to really concentrate to keep up with power plays and plots.

I have to mention that a racial slur was included in the book without being necessary. It didn’t add to the plot, it wasn’t corrected by another character and the narrative just breezed on by. I do think that this kind of inclusion potentially gives licence to that word’s use and I’m sad it was there. I can only hope it didn’t make it to the final edit.

Overall, The Coven was a clever and engaging concept all wrapped up in a dystopian feminist fantasy standalone.

Thank you to Sphere, Little Brown UK for the review copy.

MAKE IT SWEET by Kristen Callihan

From New York Times bestselling author Kristen Callihan comes a charming, emotional romance about redefining dreams and discovering unlikely love along the way.

Life for Emma isn’t good. The world knows her as Princess Anya on Dark Castle, but then her character gets the axe—literally. The cherry on top is finding her boyfriend in bed with another woman. She needs a break, and sanctuary comes in the form of Rosemont, a gorgeous estate in California promising rest and relaxation.

Then she meets the owner’s equally gorgeous grandson, ex–hockey player and current recluse Lucian Osmond, and she sees her own pain and yearning reflected in his eyes.

He’s charming when he wants to be but also secretive and gruff, with protective walls as thick as Emma’s own. Despite a growing attraction, they avoid each other.

But then there’s an impromptu nighttime skinny-dip, and Lucian’s luscious homemade tarts and cream cakes start arriving at Emma’s door, tempting her to taste life again…

In trying to stay apart, they only grow closer—and their broken pieces just might fit together and make them whole.


Title : Make It Sweet
Author : Kristen Callihan
Format : eARC
Page Count : 367
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Montlake
Release Date : February 23, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Grumpy guy
Pastries and baking
Innuendo and double entendre for days
Funny and sweet

Make It Sweet was a satisfying contemporary romance with two protagonists steeped in fame but crashing to earth. This was a dual POV story and that really brought a richness to the narrative.

These characters were opposites in many ways and wary of one another but there sure was was chem-is-try. Once I got over the initially irritating cream innuendos…they made more sense as time went on, I was sold on this story. There were definitely shades of Game of Thrones context for the heroine Emma and I liked that visualisation in the background. Luc had struggles with his career and he was the type of man who found it hard to open up.

I think we read a lot of contemporary romance where the heroine is trying to ‘find herself’ and I enjoyed this turn of tables where it was the hero finding his direction.

Back to the chemistry I alluded to earlier, this read had quite a bit of heat and coupled with the baking context that made for some funny loaded banter and dialogue. I did settle into this and eye rolled/laughed my way through. I found it all endearing on the whole. I will add that Kristen Callihan knows how to write that kind of scene.

This standalone was a great romance, with a rich storyline, good side characters in addtion to the main characters and a lovely culmination. I just loved where it ended and it wasn’t an obvious ending.

Thank you to Montlake for the early review copy.