IF THIS GETS OUT by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich – double review!

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?


Title : If This Gets Out
Author : Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich
Format : eARC/Paperback ARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : YA romance
Publisher : Wednesday Books/Team BKMRK
Release Date : December 7, 2021

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


Hollis’ 2.75 (rounded up) star review

I think this would’ve resonated a lot more with me had I been a One Direction or BTS fan. It’s been a long time since I was into this kind of musical group, though I’m obviously not too old to understand the dynamics and the archetypes and the pressure; I’m not blind or deaf to social media. But it was hard to transport myself into this mindset because, well.. I was too young to pay that kind of attention when I was into these kinds of groups. Not to mention, I think the media and paparazzi — while they were probably no less toxic back in the day — well, the coverage was just different. Because the internet. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to deal with for those who were the subject of it all, of course, but how it was later consumed? The frenzy. The focus. The demand for more, for all? I feel that’s such a different animal now.

But anyway, that’s a long intro that isn’t saying much, so lets move on.

Overall I don’t have a lot of feelings about this. Or at least not strong ones. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, and it was a quick consumption of entertainment. But don’t take that to mean this was light or fluffy or easy to process; there are real issues, some heavy subject matter, mixed in with the boyband and romance elements. But I felt the same way about the story as I do reading about the aforementioned real-life bands; my brain was processing the information, I would sympathize, but ultimately my investment was low.

That said, I think a lot of people will like this — I don’t think being into these bands is at all a prerequisite. I just, personally, think I would’ve liked it more if I was.

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


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Self discovery
Friendships to moreships
Band life

If This Gets Out was a read with plenty of drama that I think has particular appeal for teens who love bands, fandoms, band life and are questioning or closeted. I appreciated all those themes and how Zach and Reuben navigated life with their restrictions. I’m not a fan of some of the big bands out there and I think this might have affected my enjoyment somewhat.

The developing more-ship between Zach and Reuben was sweet and made for easy reading. The life of the band on tour was tough, exactly how I imagine in terms of control and restrictions and that was uncomfortable reading.

Self discovery, identity and the desire to come out felt well-handled in this book. One of my yuk factors in YA is crappy parents and parenting; be ready for those elements.

This was a roller coaster of a read with sweet elements and a relationship to buy into.

Thank to TeamBKMRK for the review copy.

A MARVELLOUS LIGHT by Freya Marske – double review!

Red White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in debut author Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light, featuring an Edwardian England full of magic, contracts, and conspiracies.

Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.

Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.

Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.


Title : A Marvellous Light
Author : Freya Marske
Series : The Last Binding #1
Format : Physical ARC / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 384
Genre : Historical Fantasy/LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Tor Books
Release Date : December 9, 2021

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


Micky’s 3.5 -4 star review

A Marvellous Light really was a great debut novel, bringing that genre I love of historical fantasy and spotlighting a gay relationship in that era. This was the kind of read that I liked as soon as I dipped my toe into but it still took me a little while to truly get into it. When I did, I appreciated the unfolding magical world in historical England and most of all, I adored the connection that began to evolve between Edwin and Robin.

Looking back over the story as a whole, the plot really was rather clever. If I had moments of fogginess over what was happening, clarity did come without me feeling overly confused. The rules of the magical world and what was happening with Robin had a pressing sense of urgency, I was willing things to resolve. There was intelligence and wit throughout.

I can’t believe we were almost killed by a hedge.”

These two really were chalk and cheese, both in magical power and lack of but also in personality, physicality and communication. I particularly loved Robin, his openness, generosity of feeling and willingness to go with the flow. The chemistry between these two rose off the page…

“You are the most fascinating thing in this beautiful house. I’d like to introduce my fists to whoever taught you to stop talking about the things that interest you.”

There were a few periods in the book that felt a bit pacey, but if you feel that too, it’s worth pushing through. I didn’t like Edwin’s family at all and some of that focus was longer reading for me.

I would definitely recommend this read to you. It read authentically in terms of context and culture to my knowledge (and limitations) and I’m really pleased this is a series. I’ll be turning up for the next book!

Thank you to Tor Books and Black Crow PR for the review copy.


Hollis’ 3 star review

Just need to get this out of the way : I don’t think this ever should’ve been compared to Red, White & Royal Blue. It shouldn’t have been in the pitch. Prior to reading the book it made me hesitant to pick this up and post-reading the book I’m just perplexed.

That caveat aside, I did struggle with this book which made the times when I was really enjoying it a bit of a bummer because it would inevitably take a dip into a less enjoyable section or get a bit bogged down. But considering it’s a series and it sounds like there’s a lot of moving parts and things to reveal and overcome, a battle even maybe, I understand there’s a lot to set up. Having said that, I might’ve liked less emphasis on the romance knowing we had more books to come and therefore more time to let the romance breathe. I did enjoy it but also.. I wouldn’t have been bothered by some added yearning as opposed to resolving most (I assume..) relationship issues within the opening instalment.

What I didn’t have a problem with, however, was how the plot conflict was handled near the end. I disliked a huge portion of the characters in the story, as we’re meant to, and dragged my feet through a lot of the middle because of those scenes, but there was a fist pump moment with how deftly and cleverly one of the villains of the piece got their ass handed to them. It showed a lot of foresight for what these protagonists know they are to face and it was a “lose the battle to win the war” bit of craftiness that I adored and is so rarely seen in fantasy.

Another thing I adored? A certain house/cottage. While the magic system and a lot of the worldbuilding was somewhat interesting, though also at times kind of vague (maybe that’s just me?), I am hoping this house and the magic around it is a clue that things aren’t quite how they appear at first glance. Because I am so here for that.

I am looking forward to reading on in this series but, between the hype and the interesting choice in comp, just be wary going into this one that it doesn’t oversell itself before you cash out.

SEA OF RUIN by Pam Godwin

Bennett Sharp is on the run. 
Wanted for piracy, she fears neither God nor death nor man. Except Priest Farrell. 

The unfaithful, stormy-eyed libertine hunts her with terrifying possessiveness. Nothing will stop him from coming for her. Not his unforgivable betrayal. Not when she’s captured by the ice-cold pirate hunter, Lord Ashley Cutler.  She must escape Ashley’s prison and Priest’s deceit. But can she walk away from their twisted desires? 

Two gorgeous captains stand on opposite sides of the law. When they collide in a battle to protect her, the lines blur between enemies and lovers. Passion heats, secrets unravel, and hearts entangle until they break. 

Can love prevail in the sea of ruin?


Title : Sea of Ruin
Author : Pam Godwin
Series : Sea of Ruin (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 482
Genre : dark historical romance
Publisher : Heartbound Media, Inc.
Release Date : April 28, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 4 star review

You know how we don’t call books guilty pleasures anymore? Or try not to, at least? If we still did, I think this would be one of them. There are so many reasons to feel guilty about enjoying Sea of Ruin. Starting with the ship-full of triggers and dubious content within the pages.

However.

This somehow still managed to be a lot of fun? Compelling as fuck? Delicious? Whilst also constantly making me question myself because of aforementioned dubiousness. Truly. At one point this skirts (if not outright crossed into) torture porn because Bennett, the protagonist, goes through pretty much every kind of awful and pain imaginable. The entire spectrum of bad. And once or twice it even happens with a love interest. Sometimes bits are glossed over in a way that.. well, doesn’t make you forget what’s happening but is less of a play by play. Other times not so much. So, you know, when they say dark romance.. (jazz hands) they mean it.

The vibe here is basically Pirates of the Caribbean minus the campy fun meets all the grittiness of Black Sails. Dark bites aside, I didn’t expect to enjoy a pirate book this much as I’ve been pretty meh about every one I’ve read thus far (not many). But maybe that’s because they were YA. This isn’t remotely in that category. Insert big flashing sign saying tHisS iS aDuLt here, please.

I can’t say I was surprised about some of the unraveling of plot but to be honest I don’t think we’re supposed to be. And when I say plot, I mean that in the vaguest sense of the definition of the word. This is mostly a lot of adult content (both sexy and side eye-y) wrapped around a few pivotal scenes that have information related to backstories and motivations but otherwise.. yeah, not a lot of actual plot. But to be honest I didn’t even really notice until after I’d finished it and realized it was more character driven and, also, character-tossed -about-in-and-out-of-harm-or-sexy-times.

And still.. it worked.

For readers of dark romance I don’t know how this measures up to other reads as I don’t tend to dip into this subgenre so I don’t know if this is technically tame or just par for the course; but, regardless of your tastes, if you are worried about triggers, I definitely encourage you read other reviews and especially any content warnings to see if you’re up to braving these turbulent seas. It’s not hard to find the specifics.

I think it very likely I’ll read this author again — I’m sure I have a few of her books on my kindle from various sales over the years — because if she can make me like a book this much despite all the dodgy bits? What can’t she do.

If you want something gritty, sexy, historical, piratey, dark, romantic, and more, Sea of Ruin might just fit the bill. Also, it’s recommended you read the prequel after this book to avoid any spoilery bits that are revealed within the main book. Just a heads up. I’m off to read that now.

AS GOOD AS DEAD by Holly Jackson

The highly-anticipated finale to the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series, the instant bestsellers that read like your favorite true crime podcast or show. By the end of this mystery series, you’ll never think of good girls the same way again…

Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears?

Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars.

Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself—or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle . . .and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears. . . 


Title : As Good As Dead
Author : Holly Jackson
Series : A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 464
Genre : YA mystery
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : September 28, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

If not for the fact that I feel obligated to review this, as the first two books are on the blog, I would probably take the coward’s way out and just not review; because I have no idea how to process my feelings about this. Or, rather, I am still processing them.

In hindsight all the extremes we visit in this finale do make sense. The argument could definitely be made that it was all building to this. But I wish we could’ve had the same result via a different means. I wish we hadn’t needed to see those extremes. It added a whole other thriller-y layer to this series, that’s for sure, but it’s hard to settle with.

It does prove that age old adage true, though. I won’t tell you which one, though; it would be a spoiler.

I’m going to slap this with a three because I think the craft and calculation behind this series, and this finale, is well done. And I would definitely read this author again. Especially if she writes in this genre. But the way this one fell out is just a little too.. well. Too something.

However, if you’re looking for a YA thriller/mystery series that definitely gets darker as the series goes on, with mixed media elements, with strong will-go-to-hell-and-back friendships aka found family presence, I would actually recommend.

CROSSED by Eliza Crewe

War is here.

Full-scale war has erupted between the Crusaders and demons and even Chi has to admit isn’t going well. Like any sensible rat, Meda’s eager to abandon the sinking ship but, unfortunately, her friends aren’t nearly as pragmatic. Instead, Meda’s forced to try to keep them all alive until the dust settles.

As the Crusaders take more and more drastic measures, the tables turn and Meda suddenly finds herself in the role of voice of sanity. No one is more horrified than she is. When old enemies reappear as new allies and old friends become new enemies Meda has to decide—again—whose side she’s really on.

And then the Crusaders decide that Meda should go to Hell. Literally.

Can’t a monster ever catch a break?


Title : Crossed
Author : Eliza Crewe
Series : Soul Eaters (book three)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 346
Genre : YA paranormal fantasy
Publisher : Strange Chemistry
Release Date : August 13, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★  


Hollis’ 4 star review

I definitely expected this ending to be unexpected but the fact that it was also delightful and delicious? So good.

I have seen too much good in my enemies, too much evil in my allies.

Obviously there’s even less I can say about this finale than the books that came before because I in no way want to spoil the surprises that await you. But just know.. they await. Patiently.

It’s this, my own depravity, that makes me unable to condemn others for theirs, that makes me want to believe that no matter what mistakes I make, that there is forgiveness. There is hope.

This series has a snarky hilarious narrative built around our not-at-all innocent soul eater, a half demon, Meda. It has strong female friendships that are complicated by differences and realness but endure nonetheless. It has an interesting and complex romantic element that constantly surprised me. It has darkness and violence but also hope and light. And so much more.

Just as the Crusaders are plagued with hate, demons are afflicted with hope. The equal opposite nature of the cosmic game board means no one is above reproach, and no one is below it.

If you’re looking to beef up your backlist reading, you love YA, and you enjoy a twist on the usual formula; if you love to revel in some excellent dialogue around good and evil, the truths we avoid and the lies we tell ourselves, no matter what side we’re on, this would be a high recommend from me.



KINGDOM OF GODS by N.K. Jemisin

For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameris’ ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war. 


Title : Kingdom of Gods
Author : N.K. Jemisin
Series : Inheritance Trilogy (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 613
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : October 11, 2011

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★  


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’m trying not to be bummed because three stars is still a good rating (and I think I’m an outlier, on a brief scan of ratings on GR) but this just didn’t satisfy me the way books one and two did.

I’ve mentioned in my other review that the way book two fit into book one was different but still connected. Well that trend continues with book three but this one steps even further away from the major themes that connected those earlier instalments. This one also shifts gears in the particular perspective we follow.

Regardless of my liking of it, though, it’s impossible to argue against the fact that Jemisin did really interesting things with this. We really delved into the meat of her world, her characters, and the division between her mortals and her gods and all from the perspective of a character we’ve grown to love up until this point. But while I appreciated some new facets to him, and again a better understanding of the way it all worked, I think the problem was I just wasn’t as compelled by him; or the new characters we met along the way.

But again, it was all interesting.

It can’t be said Jemisin isn’t creative as hell and what she does with her concepts, the narratives and explorations, not to mention her late stage reveals, are just brilliant. And while I dragged my feet a bit, and didn’t love the (long) journey of this one every step of the way, I did actually like the ending. It’s such a change from where we started and I love that.

And it’s not over! I actually have two novellas still to complete but I don’t think I’ll do much reviewing of them unless they blow me away. So thus concludes the last series on my latest Five On Our TBRs list. Super glad I gave myself the push to get through this and don’t regret a single moment of it. If you’ve read to read Jemisin, if you’ve yet to read this debut series of hers, don’t delay. I highly recommend.

FATED BLADES by Ilona Andrews

An uneasy alliance between warring families gets heated in this otherworldly novella from bestselling author Ilona Andrews.

At first glance, the planet Rada seems like a lush paradise. But the ruling families, all boasting genetically enhanced abilities, are in constant competition for power―and none more so than the Adlers and the Baenas. For generations, the powerful families have pushed and pulled each other in a dance for dominance.

Until a catastrophic betrayal from within changes everything.

Now, deadly, disciplined, and solitary leaders Ramona Adler and Matias Baena must put aside their enmity and work together in secret to prevent sinister forces from exploiting universe-altering technology. Expecting to suffer through their uneasy alliance, Ramona and Matias instead discover that they understand each other as no one in their families can―and that their combined skills may eclipse the risks of their forbidden alliance.

As the two warriors risk their lives to save their families, they must decide whether to resist or embrace the passion simmering between them. For now, the dance between their families continues―but just one misstep could spell the end of them both. 


Title : Fated Blades
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Kinsmen (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 222
Genre : fantasy sci-fi romance
Publisher : Montlake
Release Date : November 23, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★  


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, listen, this might not measure up to other books by these authors that I’ve given four stars to but it feels like it’s been a hundred years since they published a book (time has no meaning anymore) and I started having a good time almost immediately after starting it, and said good times pretty much didn’t stop, so. It gets a four.

He felt a sudden urge to do something dramatic and impressive. He needed to get ahold of himself.

I probably should’ve reread the preceding novellas to see if there was, in fact, any carry-over or easter eggs in this one because as far as I can remember the first two were completely unconnected, beyond being set in the same universe, and this one feels the same. I’ll leave it to my blog buddy to confirm this, though, as she’s read them more recently than me.

All you really need to know is this is Andrews but sci-fi. The world, the hierarchies, it’s all pretty much explained in this novella so if you choose to start here, you aren’t going in with a loss of context. Everything relevant you need is here.

Am I seeing things? Clearly this is just a weirdly specific bad dream, one where two people who hate each other team up to bust into my office and destroy my prized furniture.

Oh, and also? It’s an enemies-to-lovers romance but more in the sense that the enmity is inherited, not personal, and they have to come together in an extreme situation when they are both, similarly, betrayed. The journey takes them through a reluctant teaming up, to respect, to.. well, more. Obviously.

If you like action scenes, if you like family politics, if you like snark and banter, if you like my-enemy-is-my-enemy-but-I’m-making-them-my-friend dynamics, and also if you can’t infer the other trope I won’t list by the title..? Well, just give it a think.

This is a very biased review because there are so few books by this duo I don’t enjoy and I would honestly read their grocery list and probably have a good time. And I make no apologies for it. If you haven’t yet joined the Andrews bandwagon, what are you waiting for?

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

CRUSHED by Eliza Crewe

Meda Melange has officially hung up her monstrous mantle and planted her feet firmly on the holy and righteous path of a Crusader-in-training. Or, at least, she’s willing to give it a shot. It helps that the Crusaders are the only thing standing between her and the demon hordes who want her dead.

The problem is, the only people less convinced than Meda of her new-found role as Good Girl are the very Crusaders she’s trying to join. So when a devilishly handsome half-demon boy offers escape, how’s a girl supposed to say “no?”

After all, everyone knows a good girl’s greatest weakness is a bad boy.

uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny… she may finally give into it.


Title : Crushed
Author : Eliza Crewe
Series : Soul Eaters (book two)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 271
Genre : YA paranormal fantasy
Publisher : Strange Chemistry
Release Date : August 5, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★  


Hollis’ 3.5 (rounded up) star review

So, yes, I’ll admit the rating on this one may be a bit confusing but I’ll explain. This one is not quite as satisfyingly all around excellent as book one but nonetheless it’s still really good. Which is why it’s rounding up. But within the ranking of the series it’s worth noting this is not quite on par.

Having said that, Crewe had already shown she was willing to do things differently with this series and she continues that trend and then some. While things in this world are pretty black and white, despite some book one teasing about the good guys willing to lie, cheat, and steal, as long as their intentions were honourable or purposeful to the cause, this one really leans into the extremes for which both sides will go to win. And for Meda, who is half demon and half good, with a third important element within her at play, this is a dangerous place to be; especially when she’s chosen the side she’s chosen.

Contrary to what you might expect, I don’t go on a murderous rampage. A real monster is too clever for that. A real monster shakes the hands of elderly couples as he invests their life’s savings in his Ponzi scheme; she kisses babies and runs for political office; he waits until she’s in love. A real monster knows that an attack huts; but a betrayal scars.

It’s not easy being caught up amongst the stirrings of a war and she learns she doesn’t fit anywhere. Worse, her best friend, doesn’t seem to be standing with her, either. And that’s the final straw. Something’s got to give.

I can’t be good, but apparently I can’t be mad, either. I’m a wasted half of everything.

Honestly, I’ll admit, the first half of this book was hard. It was hard seeing Meda stuck where she was and at the mercy of those around her. Specifically there was a possession scene that had me crawling out of my skin. It was just.. wow. Huge kudos. This series, for all its darkness and violence and death, has never felt truly dark or horror-ish but that moment was it for me. Hoo boy.

But, don’t worry, the humour was still here too. Meda’s voice is a little less cheeky, mostly because of her circumstances, but it’s still there. And there’s heartbreak, too, that was so beautifully done. Again, this author is really challenging our expectations for the usual plotlines and expectations of how things go, particularly with YA.

Super excited to see how Crewe wraps this in book three because I have a feeling more unexpected excellence is awaiting me but I won’t have to wait long because yes I’m diving right in.

THE BROKEN KINGDOMS by N.K. Jemisin

In the city of Shadow, beneath the World Tree, alleyways shimmer with magic and godlings live hidden among mortalkind. Oree Shoth, a blind artist, takes in a homeless man who glows like a living sun to her strange sight. This act of kindness engulfs Oree in a nightmarish conspiracy. Someone, somehow, is murdering godlings, leaving their desecrated bodies all over the city. 

Oree’s peculiar guest is at the heart of it, his presence putting her in mortal danger — but is it him the killers want, or Oree? And is the earthly power of the Arameri king their ultimate goal, or have they set their sights on the Lord of Night himself?


Title : The Broken Kingdoms
Author : N.K. Jemisin
Series : Inheritance Trilogy (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 384
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : November 3, 2010

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★  


Hollis’ 4 star review

And here I was just saying how book one hadn’t been as devastating as other Jemisin works. Welp, eating my words a little here. Nom.

I had a weird time with this book because while it was so different from book one, it was also great. Yet I had a hard time focusing on it despite that. Probably a me thing. Though there could’ve also been a bit of a middle lull. But I’m not shaving off any points because overall I’m so enjoying this story. And also because the last 15%? I devoured. And I was aforementioned devastated by.

I definitely shouldn’t have doubted this author because how the hell did we end book one with a very clear horrible villain and here I am in book two.. feeling bad for them?

While I couldn’t have predicted how this series tied together after The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, it makes so much sense now. I may have been overthinking it because, haha, in hindsight it’s obvious. Also not quite as mind-bendy as the narrative in her other series, which is fine, because again, I think this is a more palatable and easier fantasy to follow and process. But that doesn’t make it any less interesting or special or challenging or thought provoking.

It’s all very well to say the world values reason and compassion and justice, but if nothing in reality reflects those words, they’re meaningless.

It’s been ten years since the end of the big shake-up, the end of book one, and in The Broken Kingdoms we follow Oree, who is blind but able to navigate to some degree due to her ability to see the echoes and presence of magic. She lives in the shadow of the World Tree, under the city where book one took place, which is city now populated by godlings. Some are her friends, another was a lover, and so when godlings start dying, Oree is caught in the middle of it. Made worse by the presence of a stranger she rescues who won’t speak, isn’t a godling, but is something.. else.

Watching the way things played out in the aftermath of book one was, in some ways, somewhat predictable, based on the geas, but in other ways? Not at all.

Even now, with a better understanding of the way this series is piecing itself together, I can’t predict what might await us in book three. Mostly because I’m sure Jemisin has some surprises along the way. And hopefully some more devastations. Because what can I say, she does them well, and I like the pain.

THE KINSMEN UNIVERSE by Ilona Andrews

** PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED – This is an anthology edition of the Kinsmen Universe, which includes SILENT BLADE, SILVER SHARK, plus a new short story, and three original illustrations.**

Family is everything. Talent is power. And revenge is sweet.

In a distant, future world Kinsmen-small powerful groups of genetically and technologically advanced families-control vast financial empires. They are their own country, their own rulers, and their only limits are other Kinsmen. The struggle for power is a bloody, full-contact sport: in business, on the battlefield…and sometimes in the bedroom.

Silent Blade
Old hatreds die hard. Old love dies harder.

On the planet Rada, Meli Galdes’ family is of minor rank, and were relying on her marriage to Celino, the razor-smart, ruthless leader of the powerful Carvanna empire. When he abruptly breaks their engagement, he ruins her family and guarantees that Meli will never marry, as no suitor will oppose the rich and influential Carvannas.

But Meli has a rare, secret, lethal-and valuable-talent. As a melder of energy, she’s capable of severing anything in her path. So she ‘leaves’ her family and trains to become one of the best and most lethal of assassins, all the while covertly guarding her family’s interests. Now she’s ready to quit; but she has one more assignment.

To kill the man who ruined her life.

Silver Shark
Claire Shannon is a killer…and her weapon is her mind.

Born on a planet torn by war for over 300 years, Claire is a soldier: a psycher, with the ability to read, control, and destroy the minds of enemy psychers and to infiltrate the biological network where they battle to death.

When Claire’s faction loses the war, she barely escapes extermination from both sides, as her talent brands her as too dangerous to society. By so-deeply burying her ability that she avoids detection, Claire is instead deported to Rada as a refugee, where she must find work to remain. She finds a job as personal assistant to Venturo Escana, a premiere kinsman; one of Rada’s most wealthy entrepreneurs—and most powerful psychers.

She thought she had left war behind, but now she must hide her skills and her growing feelings from Venturo…and this battle might just cost her everything…

A Mere Formality
The leader of the fierce Reigh people expires during an intergalactic summit, putting 30 million colonists’ lives and livelihoods in jeopardy. When the new heir to the Reigh throne, Lord Nagrad, demands restitution, the phrase “‘a life for a life” turns the intergalactic calamity into an arranged marriage contract between Lord Nagrad and sharply intelligent diplomatic analyst Deirdre Lebed… and the negotiation of terms becomes anything but formal!


Title : The Kinsmen Universe
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Kinsmen #1 -#2.5
Format : ebook
Page Count : 235
Genre : Sci-Fi Romance
Publisher : NYLA
Release Date : December 31, 2018

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★  


Micky’s 4 star review

I was feeling all slumpy and Ilona Andrews helped me through the weekend (again). Each installment featured couples in the same universe, sometimes with a little crossover. It was delicious sci-fi with a good dollop of romance. What’s pretty special with this ebook boxing of the three stories is that you get some beauiful illustrations that I can imagine are amazing in the physical book too.

This book is three elements wrapped up in one book:

Silent Blade:
This novella would have got a 4 star rating on it’s own for me. A quick transportation to a new world, easy to fathom with a couple crafted from Andrews gold. I was sad to leave these two behind and wanted to see them in the next story.

Silver Shark:
I didn’t get my wish, this was a different couple and a different perspective to these planets, but after 5 minutes of reading and hoping for the previous couple, I was wrapped up in the new guys. This story focused on psychic powers and a scary place called the bionet, less scary than real life on two warring planets though. I would happily read more into the world of both the two first couples.

A Mere Formality: I was more meh aboout this one, a very short story in the universe but it didn’t capture the magic of the previous two. That said, I’m all set for Fated Blades which is out soon.

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