GIVE THE DARK MY LOVE by Beth Revis

When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her. 

All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague. 

Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness. 


Title : Give The Dark My Love
Author : Beth Revis
Series : Give The Dark My Love (book one)
Format : physical book
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Razorbill
Release Date : September 25, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I’ve had this book literally sitting on my nightstand for almost a year. I guess it’s better late than never but wow. I feel pretty accomplished and satisfied right now — calm down, Hollis, you tackled one book on your backlist. One.

Anyway.

This book was so good. I didn’t know what to expect beyond necromancy and a girl crossing over into darkness. I didn’t know why or how or what. What are those details, you ask? Plague. The desire of one small-town girl wanting to help. And then heartbreak and desperation pushing her to the brink.

“.. your path has always been longer than this little road. You were meant for the city streets, for ships across the sea, for places where there are no roads. I don’t want you to take my book cart. [..] I’d never fold you up into books sold to strangers. You’re going to live your own story.

This isn’t quite the anti-heroine story I thought it would be but that might very well change in book two; particularly considering how this ended.

Everything I’d done since arriving in Northface Harbour had been just a little off. I longed to fit seamlessly into a world with no openings.

The only thing that really knocked this down for me, which will explain my rating considering all the above buzz, is the romance. I saw book two pitched in a way that it was about the boy who loved the MC trying to bring her back from the darkness. I guess I expected a strong romance in here to be that backbone for what was to come. And I didn’t really get it. Sure, he’s a nice, kind, soft boy.. but he is really only those words. There wasn’t really any meat or substance to him. There was some connection, a good reason for them to have drawn to each other, pushed together, but I wish instead it had just been a case of strong, beautiful, friendship. I think we need more of those in YA. And it would’ve made this book pretty damn close to perfect for me if it had been present in this one.

I wondered if it were possible to remove myself from politics, or if my silence had been its own choice.

Alas, I still enjoyed it. This book is.. not depressing, but hard, maybe? For the characters. There is a bleak kind of desperation in this world’s conflict. There is a tirelessness to fighting something that can’t be stopped. And then the tragedy of losing one’s whole world. Before the rage that steps in to take its place, to do what shouldn’t be done, to fight back.

I guess sometimes it’s just easier to keep things they way that they are.”
I think that depends on what your now looks like.”

I loved the last minute twists, the turns, and I’m so keen to read on and see where Nedra goes next — and boy am I glad that I have an ARC of book two, I don’t need to wait to find out.

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

THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY by Alix E. Harrow

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.


Title : The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Author : Alix E. Harrow
Format : ARC
Page Count : 385
Genre : historical fiction fantasy
Publisher : Redhook
Release Date : September 10, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

This was nothing that I expected it to be while also being exactly what I thought it would. Go figure that one out because I’m not sure I do!

Doors [..] are change, and change is a dangerous necessity. Doors are revolutions and upheavals, uncertanties and mysteries, axis points around which entire worlds can be turned. They are the beginnings and ending of every true story, the passages between that lead to adventures and madness and even love.

THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY is portal fantasy and historical fiction but, mostly, is about lost parents, absent parents, adoptive controlling parents, good people who make poor choices, bad people who care, the love of a dog, and the ones who stick around through good times and bad. Words have power, doors do more than just open to the next room, and there really are monsters that go bump in the night. 

There’s only one way to run away from your own story, and that’s to sneak into someone else’s.

For all the magic and wonder and strangeness of this world, and the ten thousand others we visit, it had a very strong backbone that felt relatable to the reader, whilst still being utterly magical, too. I loved how this story connected, though none of it was a surprise to me, and how each piece was slotted together. I loved the ending, too. There are some things I wish had been better explained but I suppose that would spoil some of the whimsy and wonder and, really, overall it doesn’t take away any of my enjoyment. It’s a small wish.

It’s a profoundly strange feeling, to stumble across someone whose desires are shaped so closely to your own, like reaching toward your reflection in a mirror and finding warm flesh under your fingertips. If you should ever be lucky enough to find that magical, fearful symmetry, I hope you’re brave enough to grab it with both hands and not let go.

I would absolutely read more by this author because if this is her debut, which is hard to believe, I can only imagine what is to come from her. 
If you’re looking for a lyrical, dreamy, diverse read, with plenty of historical foundation and all sorts of creative fantastical elements, you’ll want to pick this one up.

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

WELL MET by Jen DeLuca

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.


Title : Well Met
Author : Jen DeLuca
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : women’s fiction, romance
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

If what you’ve always wanted is a romance set against a Renaissance Faire, with a hate to love trope, then WELL MET is sure to be the book of your dreams. Or at least one of your top favourites from 2019.

I’ve only read one other book with this kind of setting, and honestly both the title and the author escape me, so that probably says a lot about how much I liked it. As a result I maybe went in to this one with lower expectations but whether that had anything to do with my enjoyment or if this is just that fun? Who can say (spoiler : it’s just that fun).

So, what, am I just supposed to pull an extra bard out of my ass now?
Not a bad idea. It might dislodge the stick that’s up there.”

This is a women’s fiction title but is more romance heavy than some of the more recent ones I’ve read and it was honestly just.. cozy. We have two sisters, separated by quite a few years, reconnecting when the older sister is injured in a car accident and needs help not only going to and from doctor’s appointments but also with her teenager daughter. As Emily’s life has recently imploded, losing her job and her boyfriend, it isn’t much hardship to uproot herself to her sister’s small town. Additionally, Emily thrives on organization and handling crises. Win win win.

Emma the Tavern Wench missed Captain Blackthorne greatly. She wanted him to come by the tavern he’d been neglecting lately, because she thrilled to see him and lived for those moments where his attention was like the sun. But Emily the Regular Person wanted to give Simon a good shake and ask him what his problem was.

Part of what Emily takes on is a volunteer position in the local Renaissance Faire. Her niece wanted to be part of it and the only condition is a parent or guardian volunteering alongside. So Emily jumps in with both feet; and splashes all over the event organizer, Simon. I don’t mean that literally. But Simon is basically the raincloud of Emily’s sun and it sets the whole tone for their relationship over the coming weeks.

A month ago I hated the guy, and I thought he hated me. This is like a summer romance on steroids.”

The Faire takes up the majority of the plot and events but it also acts as a great foil for some of the emotional issues that crop up over the story. DeLuca’s story touches on topics of grief and self-worth and I thought both were done really well and also just emotional enough without the angst or agony dragging on too long. I’ll admit there were brief moments where I thought Emily a touch too in her head or oblivious but it does fit in with her hangups and previous experiences and, in hindsight, I think it fits.

I wanted to crawl in to him, become part of him so he would never feel alone again. But I didn’t know how to tell him that without it sounding like the world’s creepiest Valentine’s card.

Additionally there were so many moments where I thought “well here comes the misunderstanding or lack of communication romance trope” and instead.. nope. I think that might honestly be the only thing that makes this stand apart from your typical romance. A few less frustrating tropes on the checklist.

Brace yourself. I’m going to woo your ass off.

If you want some great banter, some excellent tension, smoldering sweet swoons, and a good emotional backbone for a story set against old timey cosplay and fun, you should definitely pick this one up. I’m pleasantly surprised by yet another debut title and can’t wait to see what DeLuca does next. And if it involves a companion novel featuring a certain kilted not-so-meaty-meathead and a certain sister..? Here for it.

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

AMERICAN ROYALS by Katharine McGee

What if America had a royal family? If you can’t get enough of Harry and Meghan or Kate and William, meet American princesses Beatrice and Samantha.

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. 
Two girls vying for the prince’s heart. 
This is the story of the American royals.

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren’t just any royals. They’re American. And their country was born of rebellion.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

The duty. The intrigue. The Crown. New York Times bestselling author Katharine McGee imagines an alternate version of the modern world, one where the glittering age of monarchies has not yet faded–and where love is still powerful enough to change the course of history.


Title : American Royals
Author : Katharine McGee
Series : American Royals (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : NA alt-history contemporary
Publisher : Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

AMERICAN ROYALS was a concept I was excited about because, for all the royalty romances out there, we’ve never had one that reimagined, and rewrote, American history to fashion them with royalty (or at least I’ve never seen/read one!). Beyond that, however, I didn’t really know what to expect. My guess was drama, politics, and many things in between.

It’s definitely drama. Politics, not so much. This is all drama. It’s like Gossip Girl on steroids in some ways, I think. Maybe. I only watched like two seasons of that and it was a long time ago and okay maybe I should move away from this comparison.

Princess Beatrice is the eldest, the heir, set to become the country’s first Queen. The laws have changed and the monarchy is looking to be more progressive in regards to inheritance with women not being passed over for just having the bad luck to be born first but female. Yay! But only in that one way. Welp. Commoners are still not eligible for marriage and lo and behold isn’t that who Beatrice finds herself falling in love with? All despite trying to still adhere to the law, to tradition, and find herself an actual suitable match her parents, and the country, will approve of.

Then there’s her siblings, twins Samantha and Jefferson. They have a commoner friend, Nina, with whom they grew up with. Who is trying to keep the royal and regular sides of her life separate. To distance herself from the twins after an event that happened the night they graduated high school. 

Sam, who is everything Beatrice isn’t, who is directionless, troublesome, and Jeff who is beloved by all. And who dumped his longterm girlfriend, Daphne, even though she has no intention of staying dumped.

This book is a lot. I thought I was actually enjoying it at first, despite some of the nastier drama, but honestly I think I kept expecting something of this book that it wasn’t. And that’s on me. I was feeling leftover heartwarming RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE feelings and I thought this was going to be more rom-com, maybe, or just.. fuzzier. But it’s not.

AMERICAN ROYALS is definitely more in line with a soap opera, or reality shows (no shade! but I hate them), while still being clever enough to be riddled with the strangeness of the reimagined history, historical figures, and different way of life. As weird as it was, I sorta liked it, but it might be weirder for actual Americans who actually care, or are patriotic, about it all. I think this book will be a love or a hate; you’ll love the drama or you won’t, you’ll love the alternate universe feel or you won’t. And while I definitely didn’t hate it, I just didn’t love it. 

I couldn’t find myself feeling much for any of the characters or their various plights or plots; I never lost myself in this story or world, I was always keenly aware I was just reading about them. The only one who got much of a reaction out of me was Daphne. At first I just hated her, felt icky about her, but more and more I had to kind of admire her. Not for good reasons. But hey, at least she inspired a reaction.

I might read on, as it’s definitely not a standalone, but I’m not sure I’ll be clamouring for the sequel with the kind of curiosity I had about its predecessor. Mostly I’m just hoping it’s not a trilogy and everything wraps up in two books. Guess we’ll find out.

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

GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE by Natasha Ngan

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.


Title : Girls of Paper and Fire
Author : Natasha Ngan
Series : Girls of Paper and Fire (book one)
Format : eBook (OverDrive)
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA LGBTQIA+ fantasy
Publisher : jimmy patterson
Release Date : November 6, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Though the current GR rating indicates I’m not the only one to not love this, I do think there are many who do, so please take this review (as one always should) with a sprinkle of salt.

Not that I’m salty about not loving this. To be honest, I don’t feel much of anything; not disappointment or frustration. Just pretty much nothing. 

I’ll admit that my understanding of this book was totally off base. I didn’t realize it was a fantasy, or at least not the particulars of the fantasy — with human, Paper Castes, and Demons, and the imbalance of power between them (lolz, I thought Demon King was an affectation, not, like, literal) — and all I really knew to expect was diversity and some darker subject matter. Both of which exist. But so does a lot of.. I don’t know, filler?

I’ll stop beating around the bush. I was bored. I didn’t particularly like any single character. I was traumatized by an early death within the first chapter or two and don’t think I ever recovered (how could you!). I did think the evolution of the romance was well done and like the whole long-awaited revenge plot/conspiracy but I just wish I could’ve cared about the characters themselves as opposed to just the general concept of their existence.

I’m.. not excited to read on but I do have an ARC of book two, which I will still be reading, and I hope that the change of pace, and setting, is more my speed than this one was. 

BLOG TOUR FOR MOTI ON THE WATER by Leylah Attar

A Greek family. An Indian family. A summer wedding on the Aegean coast…

Meet Moti Ferreira—spectacularly jinxed from the day she’s born.

Saddled with an eccentric mother, she stumbles upon the one man who holds the key to her freedom—the best man at her cousin’s upcoming wedding.

All Moti has to do is overcome her fear of water, board a yacht to the Greek Isles, seduce the dreamy Nikos Manolas, and survive two weeks at sea with her oddball family.

The only obstacle Moti doesn’t see coming is Alexandros Veronis, the onboard chef and star witness to her awkward mishaps. He transforms onions into chocolate and aroma into nostalgia. Day by day, his alchemy works its magic on Moti. But she’s not the only one falling under his spell. Everyone has a secret, growing round and ripe at Chef Alex’s table. When the masks fall off, they spill out one by one, and everything blows up in their faces.

Now Moti’s truth is exposed, and worse, she’s hooked on more than Alex’s midnight snacks. But this time, screwing up could be the best thing she’s ever done…


Title : Moti On The Water
Author : Leylah Attar
Format : eARC
Page Count :
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Pitch 73 Publishing
Release Date : August 13, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

MOTI ON THE WATER is a departure from Leylah Attar’s normal style of the intense, emotional read with a punch, but it isn’t an unwelcome departure. This is a read that is as colourful as a rainbow with the funnest characters and dialogue to die for.

Moti (Mo-thi pronunciation) is a bit of a disaster or she perceives herself as a disaster. She and her family embarked on a Greek cruise on a private yacht prior to a family wedding. The whole set up had a bit of an ‘upstairs, downstairs’ feel which I found enchanting. I enjoyed the desi culture in the background to Moti’s world that underpinned some of her superstitions and destiny beliefs. Moti’s family was part of the colourful picture and they gave me plenty of laughs along the way.

Moti had a selection of man potential in Nikos and Alex. The contrast between these two men was stark and my loyalties were quickly spoken for as an observer. Food was part of the colour in this book and Chef Alex was a basically food conjurer, but I am seeing that to be able to write this, Leylah Attar must be a serious foodie.

The story was light and fun with couple chemistry that was absorbing to read. There was attraction, lust and longing in buckets, colourful buckets. A smattering of tragedy had my heart in my mouth but I was pulled back from the brink, keeping this rom-com in the genre safely.

MOTI ON THE WATER is an ideal weekend read, a beach read, an anytime read. You can live vicariously, feel the sun and sea through the gorgeous descriptions and laugh all the way along the storyline.

Thank you to the author and Social Butterfly PR for the early review copy.

DISCRETION by Karina Halle

From New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle comes a delicious saga of wealth, luxury, and scandal—and the wicked secrets of success behind an envied family dynasty.

The Riviera means indulgence—if you’ve got money. For Sadie Reynolds, a down-on-her-luck student, the Riviera means dingy hostels and back streets. When a wrong turn puts her in jeopardy, the last thing she expects is to be saved by the most handsome stranger she’s ever locked eyes with. When she later wakes up in a luxury suite with a Mediterranean view, she’s in the tender care of her rescuer: Olivier Dumont, France’s most eligible bachelor, billionaire hotelier, and heir to the Dumont fashion fortune.

Olivier also owns his reputation for scandal. But Sadie is unlike any woman he’s ever met. Her humble persona and wild innocence promise real passion. He’s promising Sadie something too: anything she wants. From Bordeaux to Cannes to Paris, Sadie’s past in America is swept away and replaced with a fantasy too good to be true.

Pulled into Olivier’s orbit of wealth, glamour, and excess, Sadie discovers that the Dumont dynasty comes with a legacy of wicked secrets. And Olivier’s secrets may be the most damning of all…


Title : Discretion
Author : Karina Halle
Series : The Dumonts #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 288
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Montlake Romance
Release Date : August 6, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


2.5 -3 stars

I have to admit, requesting this arc was somewhat influenced by the cover, that guy just had some appeal and when I read the blurb it was definitely interesting. I mostly enjoy Karina Halle’s books but this one was a bit of a miss for me and I will try and explain why.

The Dumont family were alluring French designers and hoteliers. They were a rich and entitled set of two sides, one side of inscrupulous types and another side with some integrity. Olivier was a rescuer with a great accent when Sadie needed a knight. Their meeting had all the potential and promise. I really liked how they were from opposite sides of the track.

I could buy into their insta-attraction for a time but I didn’t buy into the emotional attachment that ensued rather quickly. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy or feel their connection when reading their physical relationship. I felt outside of the situation and not drawn in. I struggled to connect with either Olivier or Sadie on an individual level and so I felt separate from them as characters, with neither love nor hate.

What I did appreciate was the suspenseful element to the storyline although I do feel even that went a little far sometimes with the evil side of the family.

I think this will appeal to those seeking a quick, hot romantic suspense but unfortunately this wasn’t to my taste. Nevertheless, I know that Karina Halle is likely to write another book or series that will be.

Thank you to Montlake Romance and netgalley for the early review copy.

GOOD GUY by Kate Meader – double review!

He’s a Special Forces veteran making his pro hockey debut. She’s a dogged sports reporter determined to get a scoop. She’s also his best friend’s widow…

Fans can’t get enough of Levi Hunt, the Special Forces veteran who put his NHL career on hold to serve his country and fight the bad guys. So when his new Chicago Rebels bosses tell him to cooperate with the press on a profile, he’s ready to do his duty. Until he finds out who he has to work with: flame-haired, freckle-splashed, impossibly perky Jordan Cooke.

The woman he should not have kissed the night she buried her husband, Levi’s best friend in the service.

Hockey-stick-up-his-butt-serious Levi Hunt might despise Jordan for reasons she can’t fathom—okay, it’s to do with kissing—but her future in the cutthroat world of sports reporting hangs on delivering the goods on the league’s hottest, grumpiest rookie. So what if he’s not interested in having his life plated up for public consumption. Too bad. Jordan will have to play dirty to get her scoop and even dirtier to get her man. Only in winning the story, she might just lose her heart…


Title : Good Guy
Author : Kate Meader
Series : Rookie Rebels #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 322
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : July 30, 2019

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


Micky’s 3 star review

I’ve really enjoyed all of Kate Meader’s Chicago Rebels series and this is a new series in the same team, so I’m not sure why this is a different series name, but I was down with more from this context. If you too have enjoyed the Chicago Rebels, you will enjoy the familiarity of the management, characters and team.

GOOD GUY was about the oldest rookie in hockey. Levi was out of the special forces (Green Berets) and back to hockey which was his plan before he enlisted out of college. Now in his early 30s, everyone had their eye on him, especially Jordan, a reporter tasked with getting the inside scoop. Jordan and Levi’s previous connection was a barrier and facilitator.

These two were like chalk and cheese, grumps and bubbles. It was definitely interested and there was tangible chemistry which I enjoyed. These two had banter and there was honesty.

“I can’t really help that I have resting scowl face, Jordan. I’m not the most expressive guy.”

In actual fact, I thought he put his heart out there, but I found Jordan hard at times. Jordan had her reasons and there was a whole misogynistic storyline that took on a life of its own towards the end. Points scored for that element of the story.

All that said, this start to the series didn’t wow me. I think I struggled with Jordan as a character and Levi was truly a good guy and perhaps they weren’t the fit I envisaged together. I found the hump in the road a bit predictable as was the solving of the problem.

I know I’m not done with this team and I have an inkling of who might be the next Rookie Rebel. I think Elle might be in a future storyline too as there’s lots of mystery there. This was an enjoyable read, even if I wanted a bit more.

Thanks to the author and netgalley for the early review copy.


Hollis’ 2 star review

So maybe I read this too soon after wrapping the original series, maybe I should’ve given that space.. and maybe I should round up my review of HOOKED ON YOU. Because GOOD GUY? Wasn’t great for me.

I think this story’s biggest downfall is it’s just trying to unpack a lot of things. Grief, death of a spouse, a rough upbringing, a desire to give back, sexism in the workplace, misogyny in general, internet culture, conflict of interest relationship, a sorta-but-not-really second chance romance if we consider ‘almost’ a second chance.. all that and cameos, and repercussions, from as far back as book one in the Chicago Rebels series, plus all the life updates for the couples from the original books. Phew. That was a lot to just sum up, never mind read about, whilst still enjoying the Cinderella story of this team of hockey misfits and a slowburn romance we’re somehow supposed to believe in.

I didn’t love Levi but he’s an all-around paragon of virtue and low self-worth so you can’t hate him. I didn’t love Jordan even though she’s a tough, hard working, woman in a male-dominated industry, who is focusing on a career previously set aside by marrying young and supporting her now dead husband — though, to expand, I didn’t love the reporter dynamic because even though we’re told she’s not got a malicious bone in her body.. she did some shady things, sat on a lot of information, and used not-quite-above-board tactics to get what she wanted..  all of which are couched in nicey-nice and conflicted feelings but.. nonetheless.. yeah, this dynamic was the extra bit that didn’t work for me — and to poop on her feels like pooping on women as a whole. I didn’t feel much chemistry, didn’t love the romance, the only bit I liked about them together was some of the brutal, forthcoming, honesty that defined most of their interactions.

What saved this book from being a total wash is the ever fun cast of side characters and hockey personalities that sprinkle the pages and the background. I’m not sure how I feel about what I assume is to be the next couple but I guess we’ll see.

This low rating, and disappointment, aside I would still recommend this author and these hockey books (and I might even investigate her firefighter ones as this is the second book she’s had cameos, and dropped some not-so-subtle backstory, about couples and people from those other works). They are fun and sexy and relevant and often quite funny. This is definitely the biggest outlier for this reader. So, take this review with a grain of extra salty salt — as always.

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

THE MERCIFUL CROW by Margaret Owen

A future chieftain
Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince
When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard
Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?


Title : The Merciful Crow
Author : Margaret Owen
Series : The Merciful Crow (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date : July 30, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m super glad I’ve just bemoaned all the disappointing YA fantasy so far this year because the universe sat up, said, ‘oh yeah?’, and tugged the rug right out from under me.

Bookies, I present to you : THE MERCIFUL CROW. I knew nothing about this before beginning (#TeamNoBlurbs) and was delighted at every turn the story took.

This world is made up of Castes centered around various birds : Crows at the bottom, Pheonixes at the top. We see the world through the Crows’ eyes; they are mercy killers, resistant to the plague that sweeps the nation, able to draw power from teeth (it sounds weird but it’s so cool), and overwhelmingly reviled by everyone else. They are spit upon, treated abominably, and yet every dying soul calls to them for mercy. They keep the realm safe because without them plague would run rampant, everyone would die. And yet..

Fie and her father’s band of Crows are called to the kingdom to dispose of two bodies. This is a rare event because royals, for whatever reason, haven’t been struck down by the plague in centuries. And when they are moments away from burning the corpses.. it turns out they are far less dead than everyone thought. And that one of them is the prince.

THE MERCIFUL CROW then goes on to weave a breakneck tale of disaster, betrayal, acceptance, more disasters, more betrayals, and on and on. This world was so rich and fascinating and holy forking hell was it diverse and delicious. Skin colour, sexuality, talk of periods.. Owens tackled them all without ever feeling like she was checking off a box for including one element of another. I loved that so so much. It felt effortless. Infact her writing in general was smooth and fierce and fraught with emotion. Just like her characters. 

My one complaint is that, and it might be my fault for missing it though I’m not sure I did, I’m not entirely clear why there is a plague in this world. It was never explained. But I thought every other bit was. Jasimir, the prince, was mostly a naive, spoiled, shit — as one expects — but through him we get a closer look at the prejudice and discrimination and ignorance of this world and the thoughtlessness (which is the kindest form of treatment they ever receive) towards the Crows. How the whole world is built on hating these people.. and yet relying on them. How no one has thought to question why or wonder about them. Or treat them as something more than trash. It was insidious, underlying every interaction or belief, and the author did a fabulous job at making this treatment abhorrent without ever making the story depressing. Just tense and brutal.

As for Fie, our lead and sole POV, she was.. wow. Brave and angry, fierce and uncompromising, full of doubt as she remained strong. She burned herself out, sacrificing not only for her people but for two individuals who hadn’t known her name, hadn’t cared about her Caste until they needed her; time and time again she pushed herself. For a promise, for the hope of a better future, even if it meant she wouldn’t see it herself. 

We also had a love interest and I won’t say I saw it coming but.. I did. And that was okay because I was totally onboard, totally shipping it, and the fact that we had some excellent exchanges around consent as well as discussion around sex itself..? Hello hi here for more of this in YA please.

When it comes to the ending, I’m also a huge fan of it. This is apparently a series (duology? trilogy? don’t know) and yet the ending was perfect. I am so satisfied and yet curious and excited and maybe a bit worried. Nothing has really resolved and yet it doesn’t really feel like anything is left hanging, either. It’s a great balance. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be clamouring for book two.

I’m totally shocked this is the author’s debut and highly anticipate this’ll be something of a surprise hit for many readers. You definitely need to keep this one on your radar. I totally recommend.

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

A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR by Laura Trentham


The timeless romance, soaring passion—and gorgeous men—of Scotland comes to modern-day America. And the rules of love will never be the same… 

Isabel Buchanan is fiery, funny, and never at a loss for words. But she is struck speechless when her mother returns from a trip to Scotland with a six-foot-tall, very handsome souvenir. Izzy’s mother is so infatuated by the fellow that Izzy has to plan their annual Highland Games all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. The Highlander’s strapping young nephew has come looking for his uncle…

Alasdair Blackmoor has never seen a place as friendly as this small Georgia town—or a girl as brilliant and beguiling as Izzy. Instead of saving his uncle, who seems to be having a lovely time, Alasdair decides he’d rather help Izzy with the Highland Games. Show her how to dance like a Highlander. Drink like a Highlander. And maybe, just maybe, fall in love with a Highlander. But when the games are over, where do they go from here?


Title : A Highlander Walks Into A Bar
Author : Laura Trentham
Series : Highland, Georgia #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : St Martins Paperbacks
Release Date : July 30, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

I think I shot myself in the foot a bit with this read because I had self-hyped it such a lot. I loved the title, I loved the synopsis and the cover is pretty cute too. However, for me, this was just a cute, okay read; it didn’t blow me away like I wanted. That said, I want to tell you what worked and some of things that didn’t.

Firstly, it’s important to understand going into this that it is set in the US not in Scotland, if you’ve read the synopsis, you’ll know this. It is a story of two couples coming together in a mirrored way. Rosie and Izzy (mother and daughter) run an estate that is a piece of Scotland in Georgia, US. Izzy’s mother returns from a Scottish trip with a highlander as a ‘souvenir’. Soon enough, his nephew Alasdair comes to investigate who has captured his uncle’s interest and what her intentions are. From this, Izzy and Alasdair find themselves thrown together for practical reasons.

I found Rosie and Gareth’s story incredibly cute, even though their story was very much in the background. The secrets and lies were less appealing and made for something of a predictable plot point. I found Izzy to be a character that was rather difficult to get to know and this was a barrier to liking her overall. Alasdair was infinitely more likeable. The chemistry between Izzy and Alasdair made for the best part of the book.

My main issue with this story was pacing and the slow sense of the story moving along. I can’t quite put my finger on why I felt a difficulty pushing through but it was pretty consistent. I’ve read and loved Laura Trentham’s books before, so I know this isn’t her normal style of pacing.

The story wrapped up in an amusing and sweet way, also laying the foundations for book two. I am undecided whether I will continue with this series.

Thank you to netgalley and St Martins Press for the review copy.

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