ORDINARY MONSTERS by J.M. Miro

The Dark Grace is dead.

Feared and despised for the sinister power in her veins, Alyce has spent 100 years wreaking her revenge on the kingdom that made her an outcast. Once a realm of decadence and beauty, Briar is now wholly Alyce’s wicked domain. No one escapes the consequences of her wrath.

Not even the one person who holds her heart.

Princess Aurora saw through Alyce’s thorny facade, earning a love that promised the dawn of a new age. But that love came with a heavy price: Aurora now sleeps under a curse that even Alyce’s vast power cannot seem to break, and their dream of the world they would have built together is nothing but ash.

Alyce vows to do anything to wake the woman she loves, even if it means descending into the monster Briar believed her to be. But could Aurora ever love the villain Alyce has become?

Or is true love only for fairy tales?


Title : Ordinary Monsters
Author : J.M. Miro
Series : The Talents Trilogy #1
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 660
Genre : Historical Fantasy/Horror
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date : June 7, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This has just been such a creepy and absorbing read. It’s a bit of a tome, it’s absorbing and it is incredibly unusual.

It’s a historical fantasy/horror that takes place between the US, London, Scotland, Tokyo…and places in between. There are children with ‘talents’ some of which are pretty scary gifts. And then, there are monsters of different descriptions after them. Thankfully there are some decent adults trying to protect them but then which are decent and which have other agendas? It isn’t clear for much of the book. I cheered all the way for the children.

This is a series starter and it’s going to be a trilogy. It’s atmospheric, eerie, dark and sad. The tension was pretty strong, there’s some gruesome elements but nothing I couldn’t cope with. There were twists on twists.

I’m definitely invested and I will be reading on when the next book is out. I could totally see this as TV series.

Thank you Bloomsbury Books for the gifted copy. The book is out now.

MAD ABOUT YOU by Mhairi McFarlane 🎧

Two strangers.
One big coincidence.
Driving each other crazy is just the beginning…

Harriet Hatley is running away from everything.

Getting married.
Her boyfriend’s family.
Her past.

A dream house-share seems like the perfect place to hide, but her unlikely housemate Cal is no stranger to running away himself. And he’s also hiding secrets of his own . . .

Can these two take a crazy risk, face the past and finally find a reason to stay?


Title : Mad About You
Author : Mhairi McFarlane
Narrator : Chloe Massey
Format : audiobook
Length : 10 hours, 15 minutes
Page Count : 422
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Harper Collins
Release Date : April 14, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Sarcastic wit
Chips are down
Coercive control

This story from McFarlane was equal parts sarcastic wit and life handing out crap one piece at a time. It started in one place and ended up in completely different location by the end. It took time for the themes of the story to emerge but they were valuable. Romance was very much on the backburner in this book.

The story centered around weddings, the endings of them, the photographing of them and a really impressive finale. Harriet was a likeable heroine, a hardy Yorkshire lass with the best Huddersfield accent on audio (I live 15 minutes away from that location and appreciated that so much). This tale took you on a mainly contemporary but sometimes retrospective journey of the past men in Harriet’s life and it wasn’t pretty.

Emotional abuse in the form of coercive control was a important part of this story and it’s a theme I welcome more about as it is so insidious in it’s form and difficult for victims to speak about and break free from. Bravo, Mhairi for this.

Overall, I wouldn’t say this was a fun read but it was absorbing and enjoyable. Excellent narration.

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the audio review copy.

WHAT TIME IS LOVE? by Holly Williams

1947. 1967. 1987.
When Violet and Albert first meet, they are always twenty.

Three decades.

Over the years, Violet and Albert’s lives collide again and again: beneath Oxford’s spires, on the rolling hills around Abergavenny, in stately homes and in feminist squats. And as each decade ends, a new love story begins…

Two people.
Together, they are electric and the world is glittering with possibility. But against the shifting times of each era, Violet and Albert must overcome differences in class, gender, privilege and ambition. Each time their lives entwine, it will change everything.

One moment is all it takes…

As their eyes first meet, for a split-second it’s as if the clocks have stopped. Nothing else matters. Yet whichever decade brings them together, Violet and Albert are soon forced to question: what if they met the right person at the wrong time?


Title : What Time Is Love?
Author : Holly Williams
Format : Physical
Page Count : 320
Genre : Historical-Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Orion Books
Release Date : May 26, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Contemporary with magical realism
Time jumps
Complex couples

What Time is Love was a rather unusual read and concept that lulled you into the story you thought was the story, then pulled the rug out from under you. This is a book where I really think it helps if you read the synopsis before entering to prempt any confusion.

It was a story told in thirds, three couples or the same couple in different times, you decide. The first story was in one breath my favourite but it was incredibly tragic. The second, explored the makings and breakings of an open relationship. The third, brought Violet and Albert into the most contemporary times and gave them a different start, different challenges and a different end.

I think this was a clever concept and there was much I enjoyed about it. I did have times of frustration over unfinished ends, especially over story one which I was very partial to. I’m not sure what I thought about how these storys did or didn’t weave together, I need to think on it.

This was an absorbing read, it felt like nothing I’d quite read before and I definitely became invested in some of the couples.

Thank you to Orion Books for the review copy.

THE TRIAL OF LOTTA RAE by Siobhan MacGowan

On Halloween night, 1906, young working class Lotta Rae is attacked by a wealthy gentleman. She seeks justice at an Old Bailey trial alongside her barrister, William Linden, who she believes to be her ally.

The verdict is devastating and Lotta Rae soon realises the guardians of justice do not support her. But what none could foresee were the shocking consequences.

Twelve years later, as the suffragettes rise and the ghost of WW1 looms large over London, William is joined again by Lotta Rae. Now they will travel to a fateful destination, where truths must be faced and wrongs will be righted.

The day in court is done. But tonight he will hear her testimony.


Title : The Trial of Lotta Rae
Author : Siobhan MacGowan
Format : Physical
Page Count : 312
Genre : Historical Fiction
Publisher : Welbeck Publishing
Release Date : May 26, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Tragedy on tragedy
Compelling feminist era of history
Miscarriages of justice

I am all wrung out on finishing The Trial of Lotta Rae. This historical read was compelling from front to back, it made me feel so many things and most of my emotions at the events in this book centred on anger, frustration and sadness. The story is incredibly tragic but it is also important. Content warnings below.

I thought the trial from the title would be the centre of the book, but actually it was early in the story but a crucial catalyst for the events that came after. Essentially, this book was about men and women, men’s power over women in the era before and during suffrage and ultimately a personal tale of that experience. Lotta was such a complex character to unravel. She was abused, bereaved, a fighter, manipulative and a feminist. There were very few good men in her life but Pap and Raff were such amazing advocates for her and women in her situation, I lived for their words and support in this.

William. What can I say but that this man’s story unfurled slowly and insiduously. It took the whole book to find out the depth of what he had done and I found myself ultimately shocked. It was initally strange to me that William became worse than ‘The Man’. Talking of which, I wanted a bit more wrap up on what happened to that particular piece of disgusting human.

This story gave me all the feels, many of which were uncomfortable. From suffrage to the personal stories, I experienced it as a bystander and raged. This debut was excellent and I highly recommend this book to all feminists and historical fiction fans.

Thank you Welbeck Publishing for the review copy.

CW: rape, sexual violence, mental illness, murder

A LADY’S GUIDE TO FORTUNE-HUNTING by Sophie Irwin

The season is about to begin – and there’s not a minute to lose…

Kitty Talbot needs a fortune.

Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. This is 1818 after all, and only men have the privilege of seeking their own riches.

With just twelve weeks until Kitty and her sisters are made homeless, launching herself into London society is the only avenue open to her. And Kitty must use every ounce of cunning and ingenuity she possesses to climb the ranks.

The only one to see through her plans is the worldly Lord Radcliffe and he is determined to thwart her at any cost.

Can Kitty secure a fortune and save her sisters from poverty? There is not a day to lose and no one – not even a lord – will stand in her way…


Title : A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting
Author : Sophie Irwin
Format : Physical
Page Count : 341
Genre : Historical Fiction
Publisher : Harper Fiction
Release Date : May 12, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Enemies spatting
Mercenary ethics
Snobs and realists

I had an absolute blast reading this book. It engaged me, made me laugh throughout the book and really made me love the main characters over time. The writing was all ease to get into and I read it in two sittings.

Kitty was a young woman on a mission, head of her family with four sister dependents to secure a future for. The mission was her own marriage to someone of fortune and she was utterly blinkered and focused. She had some shady approaches, she was two-faced to her suitors and a great liar. She was such a likeable heroine.

She met her forthright match in Radcliffe, they did not like one another and he was soon ‘onto her’ and worked out her schemes. These two verbally sparred, coerced favours out of one another but very slowly, something happened.

‘Dance with me,’ she demanded, walking straight up to him. He eyed her warily.
‘Thank you, but no,’ he said. ‘I should have mentioned that I also do not dance with persons who appear to want to murder me.’

I loved how this book shone light on the snobbery of the ton and the judgement passed on those of reduced circumstances and how the men perceived women and their role is society. I adored how Kitty smashed through those preconceptions but with subtlety. Kitty made Radcliffe and Radcliffe made Kitty.

This totally has a Bridgerton vibe but without the heat. For me, the heat wasn’t missing, the plot was rich and chemistry bubbled. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this book and I want more.

Thank you to Harper Collins and Insta Book Tours for the review copy.

A LADY FOR A DUKE by Alexis Hall

A lush, sweeping queer historical romance from the bestselling author of Boyfriend Material-perfect for fans of Bridgerton, Evie Dunmore, and Lisa Kleypas!

When Viola Carroll was presumed dead at Waterloo she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood.

Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognises her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become.

As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again.


Title : A Lady For A Duke
Author : Alexis Hall
Format : Physical
Page Count : 480
Genre : Historical Romance/LGBTQIAP
Publisher : Piatkus Books
Release Date : May 24, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Best friends then and now
Identity beautifully written
Angsty ride

A Lady For A Duke is something of a special historical romance because it features a trans main character. I have read another book of a similar era with this representation but nevertheless, this is such a welcome offering. All that said, Viola’s identity was often background and the dynamic between the couple was in the foreground.

There was such a complex friendship in this story, none of which I’m going to describe because it was impactful and emotional reading that shouldn’t be spoilt. Gracewood was a shell of a man when Viola found herself back in his life and secrets were everything. Suffice it to say, Hall wrote this whole story with care but in particular, Viola and Gracewood navigating the changes to their dynamic was pretty beautiful.

I really appeciated how the power between these two MCs was pitched. Viola was a strong woman in many ways and Gracewood was diminished physically but he was protective and an advocate for everything that Viola was.

“Forgive my language, but…fuck the world. I will change it for you if I have to.”

I loved the first half of this book, I felt the emotions so strongly in that section, simultaneously feeling mush for these two whilst feeling heartbroken in part. The second half was more plot driven than character driven which made for a full story. Overall, this was a memorable and valued story.

Thank you to Piatkus Books for the early review copy.

ADULT ASSEMBLY REQUIRED by Abbi Waxman

A young woman arrives in Los Angeles determined to start over, and discovers she doesn’t need to leave everything behind after all, from Abbi Waxman, USA Today bestselling author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

When Laura Costello arrives in downtown Los Angeles, her life has somewhat fallen apart.

Her apartment building has caught fire, her engagement to her high school sweetheart has been broken off, and she’s just been caught in a rare LA downpour and has no dry clothes.

But when she seeks shelter in Nina Hill’s local neighbourhood bookshop, she finds herself introduced to the people who will become her new family. And as Laura becomes friends with Nina, Polly and Impossibly Handsome Bob, things start to look up.

Proving that – even as adults – we all sometimes need a little help assembling and re-assembling our lives…


Title : Adult Assembly Required
Author : Abbi Waxman
Format : Physical
Page Count : 397
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Headline Books
Release Date : May 17, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Found family
Quirky, eclectic characters
Slow-burn

I enjoyed this story from Abbi Waxman that is interconnected to her previous Nina Hill book. That said, this can be read and enjoyed as a standalone. The story centred on a found family of boarders in a LA house owned by the generous Maggie. The house sharers were a strange but mostly lovely bunch, add in some pets, a garden and it made for a warm vibe.

Laura, the protagonist was recovered physically from a serious car accident but not recovered psychologically. This book gave a credible insight into panic disoreder related to PTSD while not detracting from the full characterisation of Laura outside of her mental health problems. Bob (insanely handsome Bob) was a gardener, landscaper who was so incredibly humble and unsure of himself. These two left everything unsaid, they were awkward and yet formed such a firm friendship.

This book took place over nearly a year and so any connections, friendships and more were tangible and not rushed. I really appreciated the bonds in this book, those between Laura and her friends and then Laura and Bob. This was something of a slow burn that almost took me to frustration but brought me back from the edge.

If you like quirky characters, pets and a lack of egos, this is a read I would recommend.

Thank you to Headline books for the review copy.

SOMETHING WILDER by Christina Lauren

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.


Title : Something Wilder
Author : Christina Lauren
Format : Physical
Page Count : 366
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus Books
Release Date : May 17, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Romancing the stone vibe
Second chances in the desert
Riddles and challenges

This book was so utterly different to any Christina Lauren book I’ve read and I’ve read almost all of them and yet it had similarities in style. The author notes at the end explain these differences well. If you are aware of the 1980s/1990s films in the Romancing the Stone series or even Raiders of the Lost Ark, this book captures some of that kind of feel. There were some twists, unexpected happenings, chases, near-death experiences and of course romance. It made for an utterly fun read.

At the heart of this story was a bitter split between young lovers 10 years ago and their meeting again in the now. Lily and Leo were an interesting pair but I could totally see why they had originally fit together and also why they separated. I did cheer for them.

The side characters in this story were crucial, they were on a trail through the desert, guided by Lily (for fun…) but there was some nastiness plotting in the background. I did not expect a lot of where this story went. The romance was there but on the backburner and I guess I didn’t get the feels quite as much for this particular story, but I did enjoy the read overall.

Thank you to Piatkus books for the finished copy for review.

UNTIL THE LAST OF ME by Sylvain Neuvel

The First Rule is the most important: ‘Always run, never fight’.

For 3000 years Mia’s family has shaped Earth’s history to push humanity to the stars, making brutal, wrenching choices along the way.

And now, in the year 1968, Mia finds herself about to help launch the first people into space. She can’t take them to the stars, not quite yet. But with her adversary almost upon her, and with the future of the planet at stake, it’s becoming clearer that obeying the First Rule is no longer an option.

For the first time since her line’s first generation, Mia will have to stand her ground.

Because the overwhelming odds mean that she risks not only her bloodline, but also the future of the human race . . .


Title : Until The Last of Me
Author : Sylvain Neuvel
Series : Take Them To The Stars #2
Format : Physical
Page Count : 304
Genre : Sci-Fi Thriller
Publisher : Michael Joseph Books
Release Date : March 17, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Feminist stem sci-fi thriller
Ancient meets contemporary
Space programme

Okay, I jumped into this second installment hoping I’d be able to remember my place in the story and who was who with the characters. Neuvel wrote this in a way that readers will remember with ease this Kibsu race of women with a tendency for maths, space, killing and evasion.

While the whole premise of this story is about history repeating itself and how that played out with these generations of women, the story landed back with Mia and her daughter Lola. After the last book, the reader has a sense of what is coming to these women but also there was so much newness in the plot as the years went from the 1960s to the late 1980s. It was so interesting seeing the space race play out and Mia’s subtle contribution but desire for more.

Lola was a whole other kind of daughter not seen in the previous story. She was rebellious, hard-headed and perhaps with less of a sense of Kibsu than her matriarchal predecessors. I winced over many of the decisions Lola made but it made for good reading; I am left wondering about Catherine…a lot.

The ancient had a place in this story, how the Kibsu women influenced their time and how they were able to communicate with Mia and Lola. I found that fascinating. The trackers were prevalent and hella messy. Violence always followed these guys but the Kibsu were not innocent by any means.

Suffice it to say, I am fascinated by this story, the historical-sci-fi-thriller pitch of the tale feels so fresh and I look forward to the conclusion.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the review copy.

CRY WOLF by Patricia Briggs

Charles Cornick is his pack’s enforcer and lives a harsh life, doing jobs other wolves can’t – or won’t. And his most recent task was rescuing Anna Latham from a life of brutality. This leaves him shot and wounded, but he’s happy to pay the price. Charles is strongly drawn to Anna, and her growing ‘Omega’ powers will see his people through dangerous times.

Anna desperately needs her new mountainous home to be safer than the life she’s left behind. But when a rogue werewolf starts murdering hikers, Charles and Anna are sent into the winter forests to investigate. Charles is still weak and will need Anna’s strength as they discover a web of witchcraft that could drag down the whole pack. Including its leader Bran, Charles’s father, head of a vast network of wolves. And if Bran weakens, dark madness could run like a fever through half a continent.


Title : Cry Wolf
Author : Patricia Briggs
Series : Alpha and Omega #1
Format : Physical
Page Count : 321
Genre : Fantasy/PNR
Publisher : Orbit Books
Release Date : December 3, 2009

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Briggs on the UF/PNR forever
New couple, new obsession
Omega reveals

**PSA: read the prequel novella first (it was fantastic) which is 0.5 in this series and is called the same as the series title Alpha and Omega.**

Having met and loved Charles and Anna in the prequel novella to this series, I knew I’d enjoy this first full story offering, and I did. It comes with an extra appreciation if you’ve read the Mercy Thompson series because you get the Marrok’s pack and familiar side characters.

The tentative stepping around one another that Charles and Anna made as they got to know one another was my favourite part of this book. They connected so well but it was all very new and about getting to know one another. I look forward to the deeper connection that is sure to come in later books. The plot was strong in this book and the omega element continues to be interesting.

I got the answer to a question that has been on my mind for most of the Mercy Thompson series. Why the hell is Bran mated/married to Leah. I am now in the know and feel so much better to finally have that answered.

Patricia Briggs is my favourite discovery of the 2021/2022 (thanks to Hariette) and I hope her books will last the year as I make my way through both these connected series. Late to the party but here all the same.

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