CRY WOLF by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton never thought anything could be harder than solving murders. Until he had to plan a wedding.

After taking down an old adversary, Agent Cooper Dayton of the Bureau of Special Investigations has earned a break. Not that planning a wedding to his sexy shifter partner, Oliver Park, is necessarily stress free, but it’s better than worrying about the ominous warning, delivered months ago, that Cooper’s life is in danger.

When he’s dragged to an event by his family, Cooper braces for an awkward evening, but instead finds himself in the middle of an ugly feud between Park’s ex and a rebel pack leader. What was supposed to be a quick outing turns into a full-blown murder investigation after the pack leader ends up dead, Park’s ex goes missing, and Cooper and Park are sent a series of disturbing wedding gifts that are somehow connected to it all.

The list of potential suspects is long, and with the bodies piling up, Cooper must turn to the one person he trusts the least: the villain he’s already put behind bars once and who has nothing to lose by lying and everything to gain if Cooper is out of the picture—for good. 


Title : Cry Wolf
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book five)
Format : eARC
Page Count :
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ urban fantasy/romance
Publisher : CarinaPress
Release Date : January 18, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, wait, is this not the finale of the series? Because that did not feel like one. And if it is.. how rUDE. I have so many questions. So, yeah, no, it’s not over. Nope.

Is everyone you’ve ever dated an asshole?
Maybe I have a type.

Coming back to the Big Bad Wolf world was such a delight. I was entertained pretty much from page one and this particular mystery was a strange doozy. I had no idea where anything was going until we were all finally looped in. But that was fine because all along the way we had plenty of Cooper and Park banter, hijinks, and steeeeam. Hoo boy, hi. I’ve definitely been away from romance for a while and now read two steamers back to back. Delicious.

You know, it’s never too late to call off this engagement. You’re a catch, you’ll find someone.
I was cursed by an old witch to find him charming.”
That’s some dark magic.”

What I constantly enjoy, and seem to mention in all my reviews, is how every book evolves this world. Not in that “oh look suddenly this is happening” feeling where something comes out of left field for a purely convenient reason but in this organic unspooling of a culture, a world, a people. And it actually gets called out in this installment in the best of ways, as if to acknowledge it for the readers, but in a perfectly fitting way for the characters, too. It keeps you wanting to read more, not just for more of the characters, but in order to discover more and what might be awaiting both readers and characters alike.

Yes, we’ve met.
A technically true statement, if characteristically lacking in flair. Antony and Cleopatra met. Romeo and Juliet met. It’s what happened after that’s become the stuff of legends.
This day is certainly shaping up to be a tragedy, so maybe you’re on to someting.”

There’s really not much to say about a book this far into a series, even if it isn’t the finale, so suffice it to say if you’re needing paranormal romance/urban fantasy in your life and particularly a queer series? You absolutely need to give this one a go. It’s funny, it’s fresh, and the characters are complex and yet self-aware, or self-improving, and these two leads are made of wonky edges that fit together so beautifully.

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

DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS by Laini Taylor

What power can bruise the sky?

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited — not in love, but in tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as — from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond — humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. 



Title : Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author : Laini Taylor
Series : Daughter of Smoke & Bone (book three)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 640
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : April 17, 2014 (original) / December 1, 2020 (new editions!)

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

I have so many feelings.

Also it’s nice to have memories because wow did I have very few of those for this installment! I definitely clung to very few recollections of any events post-book one and honestly it made the whole experience feel like the first time. I kind of love that this is how it went down.

In the legends, chimaera were sprung from tears and seraphim from blood, but in this moment they are, all of them, children of regret.

I can definitely see why this ending made many readers mad and I think I’m somewhere in the middle. There was definitely A Lot jammed in right at the end but it also didn’t feel too rushed. It was just a hard left when you think you’re going right. But also, I kind of love it? Like another series I read recently which took a lot of unexpected and not-so-popular and very risky choices, I feel this was one of those. And I guess in my old age I’m appreciating the unconventional a little more.

It was a new idea for him, that happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won — some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it — but something to carry doggedly with you through everything.

Plus, having read her more recent series, I think I finally understand the tie-in. It’s nothing to the extent that you need to read one to read the other but. Something. I’m not spoiling anything but I had a moment and then my brain tried to remember the ending of MUSE OF NIGHTMARES and I sprained something, so that was a bust, but. I feel another Taylor reread coming on.

Anyway, I just had such a good time, truly. There’s not going to be any kind of insightful breakdown or poetical word weaving in this review. Taylor’s writing is gorgeous. She loves to torment her characters (and us). There is plenty of darkness but always hope. And there are moments of such silliness, such every-day-ness by having certain “normal” persons woven in amongst all the monsters and magic, gods and other worlds, that it just grounds everything. It all just works.

You are a conniving, deceitful hussy. I stand in awe.”
You’re sitting.
I sit in awe.

I do think, in hindsight of this reread, I might love the Strange the Dreamer duology more. But I would need to reread that one to confirm my five stars are still five stars. Because this series did lose a star from each book during this experience. I still love them, and will likely revisit again in a couple years, but sometimes the bowled over and devastated or delirious feeling doesn’t quite come back. Nonetheless, I had so much fun rereading these, and it was absolutely everything I needed right now.

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

CEMETERY BOYS by Aiden Thomas

A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as “groundbreaking.”

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.



Title : Cemetery Boys
Author : Aiden Thomas
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 350
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ fantasy
Publisher : Swoon Reads
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 



Hollis’ 3 star review

Man, I am so bummed right now. I really thought this was going to be a read that lived up to all the extraordinary hype and became a new favourite. But..

Okay, good stuff out of the way? The first half was pretty excellent (more reason for being bummed). The descriptions of both family and culture? So vivid. I could see the colours, I could smell the food, I could hear the overlapping chatter of families. Everything was written with such ease, such flow, that I couldn’t believe this was a debut. There were a few instances of repetition but it seemed to happen as new chapters started, almost like a reset, so.. I kinda forgave it. Also, I was a pretty big fan of Yadriel, our main protagonist, and thought his struggle to make a place for himself in the Brujx culture to be heartwrenching; he refused to give in, to compromise who he was even as every rejection, every time he was misgendered, or dead named, was a stab to his heart. That said, I didn’t love the love interest all the time. He had some extremes I wasn’t down with and while the protagonist didn’t always let him get away with it, it wasn’t fun to live through the tantrums. And some of the exchanges were just.. chaotic.

I would like to note that this isn’t a story with a big shocking mystery. You know who the villain is almost from the beginning. Or at least I did. But it’s fine. Just don’t be surprised if you are expecting a spooky dark mystery. This is actually fairly lighthearteded in the overall vibe.

Remember why we’re doing this.”
So they’ll see that I’m a brujo.”
Well, yeah, but other than that.
Spite?
Spite!

Where this went hella sideways was the big confrontation. I said things were chaotic at times? Wow, it got worse. Things happened at break-kneck speed and then my eyeballs were being assaulted by capslock and !? exclamations over and over again.. at which point events happen in such a way that a certain character is, like, doing something that amounts to crouching over another and snapping like a dog because they are worried or being protective, or both, and it was just. I had to put the book down because suddenly I didn’t know what I was reading or what was happening. Things just really went off the rails. It was all those moments I disliked about the character from before but magnified to a hellish extreme. Even the bestie of our main protagonist, who up until this point was a solid favourite, was just so.. over dramatic for literally no reason. It went full on soap opera/CW moment and I was just left baffled.

In conclusion. The first half? Very good. The second half? Actually, it’s not even a full half, it’s like.. maybe three chapters? It doesn’t drag out but it really slaps you in the face. Or at least it did for me. So that bit? A lot less good. But we had a sweet ending and there was something that did happen that I didn’t expect, possibly because I’m dumb, and said thing is a good thing. So while this wasn’t an overall win for me there is lots of enjoyment to be had, along with knowing you’re reading an #OwnVoices story with solid representation, and I will absolutely read this author again.

NIGHT OF CAKE & PUPPETS by Laini Taylor

In this stand-alone companion to the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone series comes the story of Mik and Zuzana’s fantastical first date—as a gorgeously illustrated gift edition with bonus content included.

Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to make the first move, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy is not going to know what hit him.

New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Originally published as an ebook, this new print edition will include breathtaking black and white illustrations, plus bonus content in a gorgeous package perfect for new and current fans of the series.



Title : Night of Cake & Puppets
Author : Laini Taylor (illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo)
Series : Daughter of Smoke & Bone (book 2.5)
Format : hardback
Page Count : 256
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Release Date : November 26, 2013

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 5 star review

Once you know magic is real, it’s really hard to remember what it was like not to know.

To me, this little book is magic. The story, the art, the way it breaks up the action in the main series to dazzle you.. everything about it is just perfection.

Zuzana in particular always felt like such a force as a supporting character but the brilliance of this novella is that she feels no different in the spotlight. Taylor had this character pegged from page one and she doesn’t feel any more real but instead feels just like herself.

The friendship moments between Zuzana and Karou, even just through text, are so authentic and silly and heartfelt that it felt like rereading my own texts to friends.

As for Mik, well. He’s definitely a sweet thing but doesn’t leave as much as an impression as either Zuz or even Karou. But it was how he thought about Zuzana, how he was instantly a believer in magic, and how self-aware he was, that make him worthy of our rabid fairy.

Reading this after my series reread makes me instantly crave more from this world and these characters — even though I only left them a week or two ago — and if that isn’t proof of magic, what is?

If you are a fan of this series but haven’t yet picked up this novella? You must.

DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?



Title : Days of Blood & Starlight
Author : Laini Taylor
Series : Daughter of Smoke & Bone (book two)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 528
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : November 6, 2012 (original) / December 1, 2020 (new editions!)

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5



Hollis’ 4.5 star review

“.. absolutely preparing myself to be destroyed and devastated all over again,” was how I wrapped my review of book one. Because I remembered the vibe of this story more than the events themselves. Infact, only a few scenes stood out to me, so it was almost like reading this for the first time. I think maybe I had forgotten most of what happened in this series outside of book one and a few broadstrokes. I have a feeling book three will be the one I recall the least.

What can a soldier do when mercy is treason, and he is alone in it?

I actually don’t think this book was quite the devastation or destruction I remembered it to be, vibe or no. But it’s definitely relentless. Hit after hit is taken, not all of them all-encompassing, but enough that it wears you down. Just like Karou is worn down, worn thin, believing she has no path but the one she’s on. And I think it was that atmosphere that allowed for those few (very few) moments of sweetness, of levity, to feel both out of place but impossible not to cling to. Like the image of Zuzana and Mik, fragile humans, playing amongst creatures of nightmare and imagination and death. Your brain questions it but you can’t look away.

Mercy, she had discovered, made mad alchemy; a drop of it could dilute a lake of hate.

There was a lot of hurt in this book; in the sense of loss, of betrayal, of grief, of a dream that will never be realized, of hope. Because hope, too, hurts.

As always, Taylor’s writing was impeccable, the way she toyed with us every time, making us believe one thing, only to reveal the opposite, was both breathtaking and left the heart pounding and also something of a trap. Because just when you come to rely on that, to expect it to happen each time, it won’t. Sometimes the bad, the sad, is the reality and there’s no surprise waiting to tell you otherwise. But it’s a compelling way to force one’s readers to devour page after page, chapter after chapter. Which is what I did. Not just out of hope but also because I just could not tear myself away.

For all that this was grim, and at times hopeless, I think it’s probably my favourite of the two. The questions posed, the wrong for the right reasons, the push for vengeance which only propels more violence to answer the call, the conflict our characters felt, made me feel so much.

I also feel helpless to do anything other than jump into book three.. right.. now.

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

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?



Title : Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author : Laini Taylor
Series : Daughter of Smoke & Bone (book one)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 433
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 27, 2011 (original) / December 1, 2020 (new editions!)

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

Don’t worry, I’m not late to the party when it comes to this series. This is a reread inspired by the upcoming release of the tenth anniversary paperback editions featuring new covers that, to be quite honest, I didn’t love at first sight. But in person? Wow do they grow on a body. And lets be real, as much as I love a cover, it’s the insides that really matter. And was I afraid this might not live up to my memories? A tiny bit. It’s 2020 after all. Much stranger things have happened.

Despite owning two different editions of this series, this was my first reread. I don’t know how that’s possible, either, but thankfully reliving the magic and wonder and heartbreak was only slightly less pow, bam, boom, amazing than the first time.

Loneliness is worse when you return to it after a reprieve — like a soul’s version of putting on a wet bathing suit, clammy and miserable.

Taylor’s writing is.. well, I mean, you either love it or you hate it. But I love it. I love how vividly and perfectly I can picture everything she describes. I love how I can sense the emotion she’s trying to convey. I love how her characters can make you laugh just as quickly as they can make you bleed. It’s really the whole package for me.

To take from the universe, you must give.
But.. why pain? Couldn’t you give something else? Like.. joy?
It’s a balance. If it were something easy to give, it would be meaningless.
You really think joy is easier to come by than pain? Which have you had more of?
That’s a good point.

If, after all these years, you’re still on the fence about this series, you should definitely.. get off that fence. There is such wonder and magic in this story and, yes, darkness but also humour, with strong characters, hints of destiny, and.. inevitability, I guess. In a good way.

Surprising no one, I’m diving face first right into book two and absolutely preparing myself to be destroyed and devastated all over again. Bring it.

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

THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN by Holly Black

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.


Title : The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author : Holly Black
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 433
Genre : YA paranormal/urban fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 3, 2013

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I picked up this book for a spooky readathon prompt (shoutout to the #ScreamQueensReadathon hosts!) even though it would be a reread for me but considering it had been a few years — five, at least — it seemed timely to give it another go anyway.

That said, I did want to go back and peruse my thoughts before writing a new review and wouldn’t you know it this predates my GR reviewing. Fail. But it got me scrolling through some reviews from those on my flist and I got to say.. I laughed at how few people actually like this book. But I did! I feel like those who didn’t like this book are maybe the same readers who enjoyed The Folk of the Air series more than I did. No shade! It’s just amusing. And also interesting.

But back to this book. I probably won’t be able to properly explain why I liked it because I can definitely acknowledge there are bits that weren’t my favourite — the ending, for one; not the open endedness of it all but I felt it was a bit rushed to tie things up to the extent they did. I mean, some readers DNF’d this and others said it was too filled with bits they didn’t care for but I could’ve read another hundred pages no sweat!

Sure, there are some conveniences for our leading lady, some things she achieves in what could be the manner of a special snowflake but it all felt pretty reasonable to me, all things considered? And when pitted up against the exboyfriend who came along for the ride AND the people they ended up carpooling with who also came along for the more literal ride? She was certainly not at the top of my list of irritating or stupid characters.

If you didn’t believe in monsters, then how were you going to be able to keep safe from them?

This story leans into all the dark and gruesome of vampire legends (and in fact I loved the bloating detail after their feed, it’s gross and awesome!) and all the stangeness that comes with revering celebrities and the pedestal we put so many people on just for the circumstance of their existence. Because oh yeah, I didn’t mention, vampires live in lockdowned cities (the side eye) where the infected, those who have been bit or fed from, are also quarantined (quiet hysterical laughter), and these locations, called Coldtowns, are also filmed in Big Brother fashion and posted online. Though, much like an Instagram filter, the content is only one side of a coin and the reality isn’t all glamorous blood drinking parties.

This might not be for everyone (clearly isn’t if you look at GR!) but it worked for me!

A KILLING FROST by Seanan McGuire

When October is informed that Simon Torquill—legally her father, due to Faerie’s archaic marriage traditions—must be invited to her wedding or risk the ceremony throwing the Kingdom in the Mists into political turmoil, she finds herself setting out on a quest she was not yet prepared to undertake for the sake of her future…. and the man who represents her family’s past.


Title : A Killing Frost
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book fourteen)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 362
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

Guess who’s back.. back again. Hollis is back. Back for punishment!

Okay but in all seriousness.. this might’ve been one of the least frustrating read for this series. That doesn’t make it good but it is an unimportant distinction to make. The caveat? It achieves this honour because despite one or two seemingly major events, nothing really happens. And those one or two big events? Hella underwhelming or anticlimatic. Both, even.

I’m unsure if this was just the calm before a whole new shitstorm but I guess book fifteen (yikes) will determine whether that bodes true or not. As for A Killing Frost? In adding yet another delay to a certain relationship, this had a fairly reasonable reason for doing so, which also helped to close the loop (ahaha honestly not sure why I keep thinking this to be a thing with this series, everything always gets resurrected even when it seems resolved) on something that has lingered throughout so many books. But this time with a twist. The character in question had become sort’ve a favourite of mine, not hard because I like so few of them, but in this one I admit I was disappointed. I felt some reactions felt overblown, or out of character, (and there was someone else who felt the same, so maybe that was just this book’s theme..) or maybe it was just his true nature finally coming through and leaving me to realize I liked him a different way. Regardless. I was sorta into this particular “happy ending” but also not. I’m curious how my buddies, both longtime fans, will take it (spoiler, they haven’t read this yet but somehow I have! what even).

As for the other major thing, well. As usual I have questions. So many questions.

I forever feel sorry for Toby because of how so many characters in this world treat her but equally she is a pain in the ass who likely deserves it. A matyr to the very end she is constantly slipping in moments of “oh is this what it’s like to watch me do x y or z? that sucks” and yet.. she persists. All because she’s a hero of the realm. The excuse wears thin, chickadee! And yet honestly I have no one to blame but myself for still being here.

And yes. I will still read on. Completionist to the bitter end.

EMERALD BLAZE by Ilona Andrews – double review!

As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart. 

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.  


Title : Emerald Blaze
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Hidden Legancy (book five)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 399
Genre : urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : August 25, 2020

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’ll be honest. Give me some Baylor family banter and hijinks and I’ll pretty much be happy no matter what angst or torture this duo puts me through. Which is pretty much what happened in EMERALD BLAZE. Though it was light on both angst and torture so even better?

He broke your heart.
I broke my own heart, Leon. He was just the hammer I hit it with.

While I found the mystery of the Big Bad plot to be fine (not quite interesting, but not boring), I found the Big Bad Monster element of said same plot to be.. weird and whacky and freaky and fantastic fun. You might disagree about the fun part if you’ve read this but I just found it fascinating where this author duo’s brain goes (yes, I made a brain joke, I am not sorry!).

Your ego would survive an apocalypse.”
Thank you.”
It wasn’t a compliment.
It was to me.

For me, the star of this show, beyond the aforementioned Baylor Banter (copyright pending), was some of the insight we got into decisions made in the previous books. I’ll admit I couldn’t quite tell what was new information and what was just expanded upon which tells me I definitely should’ve done a series reread before this book (whoops, my bad), but nonetheless it felt mostly new and very shocking. I felt like every time the Evil Grandmother was mentioned I could never remember exactly what, or who, she had twisted to her own purposes and now? Wow. Cards are all out on the table.

I wasn’t mourning Alessandro abandoning me. I was mourning the old me. For the new me to emerge, the old me had to disappear, and killing her bit by bit hurt.

So that was fantastic but so was the romance. I enjoyed the heck out of this dynamic in book four but I was so much more sold this time around. Because more cards are on the table for these two as well, yes, but I also felt they had grown as individuals, particularly Catalina. I find her such a great protagonist because she’s strong but not invulnerable, either physically or emotionally, and she perseveres because she must. And as for Alessandro.. like.. be ready for some heartbreak.

I do so love happy endings.
Happy ending for you, maybe. I didn’t get to shoot anybody.

As a bonus we also get some page time with Nevada and Rogan so truly this book is a gift that keeps on giving. Less lovely? That ending. I had seen some vague shrieking about it on the internetz before reading this book so I was expecting the worst and I mean.. it’s not good but wow my brain is clearly a dark place because I expected something else. Also, for those of you unaware, this was also released by the authors but only to be read after reading book five. Don’t you dare peek ahead of time! Not only do I feel a little more comforted about said ending now but also I totally want an Arabella-centic book. I’m sure it’s coming. Maybe? Who knows. At the end of the day I just want IA to never stop writing; and I don’t care what series it’s for. Is that too much to ask?


Micky’s 4 star review

No quotes from me on this one, guess which dumb reader sent the library book back before writing their review? Yep, me. EMERALD BLAZE had a bit of a flat-ish start for me, I wasn’t immediately pulled in but by 20% that changed. This instalment of the Hidden Legacy was the usual fast-paced story you’d expect, full of drama, magic, fighting and tension. The evil thing in this one was super creepy animated thing and gave me slight vibes of one of the Kate Daniels instalment but it was still unique enough to hold its own.

I wasn’t sure about that cover, the emerald aspect but in retrospect, it all makes sense. I love the building storyline of House Baylor that stretches over the whole series and seeing Catalina come into her own even more is story-goals. I really enjoyed some honest dialogue between Nevada and Catalina, it felt like they were finally on an equal footing and to be honest, I’ve missed Nevada. The snippets of her and Rogan were like candy treats.

The best thing about this book was the tension between Catalina and Alessandro, ‘coupled’ with Alessandro finally exposing himself honestly. I lived for how their story played out. This story gave me everything I needed and wanted with regards to Catalina and Alessandro and I’m currently a pile of contemplative mush on finishing.

Family was strong as ever for the Baylors and I love the characters, how they knit together, banter and support one another. Did Andrews finish this cruelly? I guess you’ll have to read and find out.

*side note – will there ever be a book of theirs I don’t like?*

THE UNKINDEST TIDE by Seanan McGuire

Hundreds of years ago, the Selkies made a deal with the sea witch: they would have the sea for as long as she allowed it, and when the time came, she would call in all their debts at once. Many people assumed that day would never come. Those people were wrong.

When the Luidaeg—October “Toby” Daye’s oldest and most dangerous ally—tells her the time has come for the Selkies to fulfill their side of the bargain, and that Toby must be a part of the process, Toby can’t refuse. Literally. The Selkies aren’t the only ones in debt to the Luidaeg, and Toby has to pay what she owes like anyone else. They will travel to the fabled Duchy of Ships and call a convocation of the Selkies, telling them to come and meet the Luidaeg’s price…or face the consequences.

Of course, nothing is that simple. When Dianda Lorden’s brother appears to arrest Dianda for treason against the Undersea, when a Selkie woman is stripped of her skin and then murdered, when everything is falling apart, that’s when Toby will have to answer the real question of the hour.

Is she going to sink? Or is she going to swim? 


Title : The Unkindest Tide
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book thirteen)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 366
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

We’re here. We did it. Thirteen books, plus a bunch of novellas, and it’s over (for now). 

I started this journey on April sixteenth. It’s currently May fifth. This is probably one of my worst binges as far as ability to read a series quickly or consistently but I’m sure, based on my feelings of said books, no one is particularly surprised. Plus it’s pandemic season so the reading it ebbs and flows.

Which is a great segue for this particular installment which is set amongst water and the merpeople of faerie. Except I’m not particularly inclined to talk about the plot (I rarely am) so it’s a poor segue but a segue nonetheless.

I don’t really have much to say about this one, to be honest. We had a lot of Sea Witch action, which is never a bad thing, and I loved that things were made to be a little happily ever after-ish in the sense that she could right a wrong without causing more harm (sadly, thanks to Toby, and not her own cleverness). Maybe for the first time since.. I forget, it’s been a long ride, but the first time since forever, we got a newly introduced character who I actually loved. I’m not counting the ones we won’t see ever again but Pete? Oh man. I loved her. Fabulous.

I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that Gillian has done a total wishy washy (haha the water jokes) aboutface in regards to her dealings, and feelings, about Toby but.. yeah, unsurprised. Probably going to drag that resolution out for a while, I imagine.

I have nothing more to say. Many will wonder why I read this far into a series I didn’t like, many more still might wonder why I intend to read on past this point. I have no good answers for you. I wanted to love this because my friends did. And I think buried under all the hope I thought I lost along the way (I would say that I fully lost said hope around book five ish) I still did want to find some joy. And I did! Book eleven was really good. It seems a meager win in the scope of the series, I guess. But what else did I have to do? Put it aside to read things I might actually like? Hahaha.

Ahem. I’ll try that next.