DREAMFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

MacKayla Lane lies naked on the cold stone floor of a church, at the mercy of the erotic Fae master she once swore to kill. Far from home, unable to control her sexual hungers, MacKayla is now fully under the Lord Master’s spell.…In New York Timesbestselling author Karen Marie Moning’s stunning new novel, the walls between human and Fae worlds have come crashing down. And as Mac fights for survival on Dublin’s battle-scarred streets, she will embark on the darkest—and most erotically charged—adventure of her life. 

He has stolen her past, but MacKayla will never allow her sister’s murderer to take her future. Yet even the uniquely gifted sidhe-seer is no match for the Lord Master, who has unleashed an insatiable sexual craving that consumes Mac’s every thought—and thrusts her into the seductive realm of two very dangerous men, both of whom she desires but dares not trust. 

As the enigmatic Jericho Barrons and the sensual Fae prince V’lane vie for her body and soul, as cryptic entries from her sister’s diary mysteriously appear and the power of the Dark Book weaves its annihilating path through the city, Mac’s greatest enemy delivers a final challenge.…

It’s an invitation Mac cannot refuse, one that sends her racing home to Georgia, where an even darker threat awaits. With her parents missing and the lives of her loved ones under siege, Mac is about to come face-to-face with a soul-shattering truth—about herself and her sister, about Jericho Barrons…and about the world she thought she knew. 


Title : Dreamfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book four)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 498
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Dell
Release Date : August 25, 2009

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I mean.. in a lot of ways we know what that horrible cliffhanger reveals but still that one hurts. Worse than the last one! 

Overall, I think I expected to love this instalment more than I did. It has a lot of good juicy excellent bits, both character and plot wise, but I felt it to be strangely rushed along. Some moments got some of their due but others..? Others I think needed a lot more. 

What has been consistent, though, as I’ve said in probably all these reread reviews, is the presence of the usual side-eye towards Mac’s inner voice. We get less of that this time considering what she’s just survived and how she’s pretty much fully Mac 4.0 (whatever that means beyond wearing leather and caring less about pink, also, did we skip 3.0?) now. And honestly you sort’ve just have to lean into it or step around it, whatever works best. But the other consistency? The other consistency is for the times where there are these lovely passages full of wisdom, truth, grief, and hope. And they usually pop out when you least expect them. 

Also, as I was reading, I was picking up on foreshadowing for something (well, a few somethings!) I had completely forgotten about. As I said to my buddy reader, it’s so funny what the mind chooses to remember and otherwise completely deletes from the brain. Hoo boy. 

The author’s note at the end of this book, fourth in the Fever series, goes on to say how book five is the end of the journey. But we know that’s not true. It is, however, where I do recall the story started to shift.. and maybe go downhill?

I had such a good time chatting about this one with my buddy (shoutout to Hayley!) and we’re both really chomping at the bit to pick up where this left off and see what reveals await us (remembered and not) in the “final” of Mac’s story arc.



FAEFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

He calls me his Queen of the Night. I’d die for him. I’d kill for him, too. 

When MacKayla Lane receives a torn page from her dead sister’s journal, she is stunned by Alina’s desperate words. And now MacKayla knows that her sister’s killer is close. But evil is closer. And suddenly the sidhe-seer is on the hunt: For answers. For revenge. And for an ancient book of dark magic so evil, it corrupts anyone who touches it.

Mac’s quest for the Sinsar Dubh takes her into the mean, shape-shifting streets of Dublin, with a suspicious cop on her tail. Forced into a dangerous triangle of alliance with V’lane, an insatiable Fae prince of lethally erotic tastes, and Jericho Barrons, a man of primal desires and untold secrets, Mac is soon locked in a battle for her body, mind, and soul. 

As All Hallows’ Eve approaches and the city descends into chaos, as a shocking truth about the Dark Book is uncovered, not even Mac can prevent a deadly race of immortals from shattering the walls between worlds—with devastating consequences.…


Title : Faefever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book three)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 393
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : September 16, 2008

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I can’t tell if this actually deserves to be rounded up or if, after a bit of a reading dry spell, I’m just excited to have finished something — and in one sitting no less. <– oh hey, deja vue, this was the same situation I was in for book two! Though I think I’m in (or was in..) an actual slump this time. It’s rough out here.

It bears repeating that : I think we all know the deal with this series. It is definitely a product of it’s time. But we are already seeings signs of where Moning pushed her characters, and the series, away from their awkward beginnings.

Having said (again) that, this particular instalment slows things all way down. While book two was nonstop action, we had very little action in the third. It really decided to embody the term “slow burn”. And then of course leaves us on that cliffhanger (if you are familiar with the series but, like me, struggle to piece together which came when, here’s a hint : the cover). Once again, I found myself unprepared for how early this particular event happened. It really just was a blur that first time around, huh?

But. This particular event is (if my memory is to be trusted which, spoiler, it is not) does kick off a certain relationship in a certain direction. Otherwise though yeah that final chapter changes everything for everyone in this series. Though it doesn’t change the fact though that this was one big (slow) build to that finale; so it does feel a bit like a transitional/lead-up instalment. Which isn’t a bad thing because I feel like the next one does not pull punches so maybe we needed this calm before the storm.

Either way, I’m excited to dissect this one with my buddy reader (we already cackled about the MacHalo and I mean.. if you know you know) and, more broadly, I’m hoping this read can wiggle me out of the slump.

CRY WOLF by Patricia Briggs

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

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


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

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOK OF NIGHT by Holly Black – double review!

In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.

Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

With sharp angles and prose, and a sinister bent, Holly Black is a master of shadow and story stitching. Remember while you read, light isn’t playing tricks in Book of Night, the people are.


Title : Book of Night
Author : Holly Black
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : urban fantasy / paranormal
Publisher : Tor Books / DelReyUK
Release Date : May 3, 2022

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think even the mightiest of Black stans might lose it over that ending, hoo boy. I loved it but I also kinda hated it.

So here’s the thing. If this is a standalone, I’m a lot less happy than a three star. Okay, fine, maybe it’s just docked half a point. But if this is a series opener.. yeah, maybe I could bump it a half point. As it is, there’s a lot of good in this adult debut from this beloved author but there’s also an equal amount of stuff I could’ve lived without.

I do think most people will come out of this book loving our MC, Charlie. She is unflinchingly herself and herself is messy. She’s a twenty-eight year old ex-con artist and thief who is painfully aware of her baggage cart full of faults, failed relationships, and rather questionable childhood. She’s trying to turn a new leaf, one that is away from the sketchier aspects of her skillset and focus on being somewhat of a law abiding citizen as well as guide her sister towards school and a future (a bit I never quite understood considering her sister’s age and lack of interest and also, side note, did anyone else assume her sister was like sixteen? she did not act her age). Having a boyfriend who, for once, is not a scumbag, though maybe a little weird, helps, too.

In this world, which I’ll admit I still find somewhat hard to grasp, there are people who can work magic through shadows. That’s basically the simplest way to describe it. And while that’s a main event in this world, the story itself focuses more on both mystery and heist and the overlords who rule the underworld. Does that sound dramatic? It kind of is.

While Charlie’s world was dark and violent and gritty, the details didn’t always interest me. Much like how I was invested in about half the characters and the rest could go hang. There was a sweet spot that kept me invested but on the whole there were parts that left much to be desired. Which, again, if this is a series.. I could see myself being swayed if we got more depth or detail. If not, well. It’ll be halfway memorable.

I would absolutely read on and I so hope we continue to get more adult releases from our favourites in the YA genre, particularly when they go dark side. This didn’t quite ease the sting of the long wait for the next Alex Stern novel but I’m not mad at it for distracting me for a few hours, either. You’ll either pick this one up or you won’t and I doubt this review will sway you otherwise. Having said that, I can’t wait to see more reviews and how this works (or doesn’t) for other readers.

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


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Morally dark-grey goodness
Darkness and shady shadows
Corruption

I loved so much about this fantasy offering from Holly Black. There was an absolutely fantastic female MC in Charlie Hall. She was shady, she didn’t give a s***, she took risks like it was a daily snack but she had a big heart for the few she loved. Her childhood was a complete mess of exploitation of her supposed magical abilities and she wasn’t protected as she should have been. Thus was the adult Charlie as a result.

The story brought a couple I really wanted to cheer for, or did it, maybe, I hope. Vince was difficult to fathom but I got a sense of true connection and love, even if it lacked verbal expression. The plot around Vince was deep and led into some places you wanted it not to but truly, it was incredibly clever and delicious to read.

The other characters of the piece outside the sister Posey, were honestly a nasty bunch. None more than Salt, he was heinous but I also loved to hate Adeline. You’ve got to pay attention to this plot, it definitely became exponentially more complex and the use of past/present was both helpful while being a little pacey at times. That ending 100% worked for me, knowing this is going to be a series; I love a messy ending on those terms.

Black has announced her entrance into adult fantasy with a slickness of characterisation and a wholly adult feel to the piece. I am a fan and ball of anticipation for the next book.

Thank you to Delrey UK for the gorgeous proof to review early.

SILENCE FALLEN by Patricia Briggs

Mercy Thompson has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy’s bond with the pack—and her mate—is broken, she’ll learn what it truly means to be alone…
 
Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes—only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…
 
Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…


Title : Silence Fallen
Author : Patricia Briggs
Series : Mercy Thompson #10
Format : ebook
Page Count : 379
Genre : Urban Fantasy
Publisher : Ace Books
Release Date : March 17, 2017

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
The separation
The longing
Sneaky, clever Mercy

loved this installment, one of my favourites of the series which is odd because I don’t always like it when a couple is separated throughout the story. This one worked so very well. It opened straight into the action and the story got me completely on board, worried about Mercy, thinking how Adam would cope.

Vampires were the focus in the main for book 10 (10…how did I get here? This is how amazing this series is). Bad vampires were prevalent rather than some of the friendlies we’ve got to know in the series. There was a lot of mental strategy in this story which felt less reactive than some of the action storylines we’ve previously experienced. I enjoyed the European backdrop for the story rather than the normal Tri-Cities context, it made for a fresh feel.

The chapters were told in alternate Adam-Mercy style and Briggs did something different with the timeline on this one and somehow she made it work…well. The story brought all the couple feels, as a reader, I was longing beside Mercy and Adam.

I devoured this in a day.

BLOODFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

I used to be your average, everyday girl but all that changed one night in Dublin when I saw my first Fae, and got dragged into a world of deadly immortals and ancient secrets…

In her fight to stay alive, MacKayla must find the Sinsar Dubh—a million-year-old book of the blackest magic imaginable, which holds the key to power over the worlds of both the Fae and Man. Pursued by assassins, surrounded by mysterious figures she knows she can’t trust, Mac finds herself torn between two deadly and powerful men: V’lane, the immortal Fae Prince, and Jericho Barrons, a man as irresistible as he is dangerous.

For centuries the shadowy realm of the Fae has coexisted with that of humans. Now the walls between the two are coming down, and Mac is the only thing that stands between them.


Title : Bloodfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book two)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 349
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : October 16, 2007

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I can’t tell if this actually deserves to be rounded up or if, after a bit of a reading dry spell, I’m just excited to have finished something — and in one sitting no less.

Listen, I think we all know the deal with this series. It is definitely a product of it’s time. But we are already seeings signs of where Moning pushed her characters, and the series, away from their awkward beginnings.

While Mac is definitely a little too keen and bloodthirsty, not to mention fearlessly scrappy, for this stage of things, I’m willing to give her a bit of a pass. She’s already growing up a bit, dropping the eyerolling fake-swears, starting to find herself in amongst who she used to be and who Barrons was forcing her to act like in the beginning, and I respect that. I also really like how the momentum continued from where we left off with book one. Also, the cast is starting to grow (I forgot we met Dani this early, holy shit! not to mention MacKeltar.. even if I have only the vaguest recollection of the role he plays later on..) and we’re starting to get more on the ever mysterious Barrons and who (what?) he really is.

There was almost nonstop action but the pauses we did have were really.. good pauses. I especially loved the little illusionary experience Mac had in Faery because that was cathartic and also really lovely. In fact, amongst some of the ridiculous (like, seriously, some of the “I’m so pretty” behaviour and constant barrage of attractive people or Mac being recognized as attractive is a bit.. much, but we still haven’t fully left the Shallow Era of things, I guess) there were quite a few stunning lines. Whether it was Barrons dropping some wise truthbomb in the middle of a lecture or a temporary fugue of grief or reflection.. they kind of sneak up on you but they are very appreciated.

I’m sorta sad I can’t binge this (my buddy and I are doing one a month) but at the same time maybe I’ll enjoy the ride a little more by having to wait between each bit. Definitely keen to read on.

DARKFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

“My name is MacKayla, Mac for short. I’m a sidhe-seer, one who sees the Fae, a fact I accepted only recently and very reluctantly.

My philosophy is pretty simple – any day nobody’s trying to kill me is a good day in my book. I haven’t had many good days lately. Not since the walls between Man and Fae came down. But then, there’s not a sidhe-seer alive who’s had a good day since then.”


When MacKayla’s sister was murdered, she left a single clue to her death, a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone. Journeying to Ireland in search of answers, Mac is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to master a power she had no idea she possessed – a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho…while at the same time, the ruthless V’lane – an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women – closes in on her. As the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: to find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book – because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control both worlds in their hands. 


Title : Darkfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book one)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 342
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : October 31, 2006

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

So, this is a two star I’m not really mad (or surprised!) about. Even when I first read this series, back in (checks notes) 2015, it was only about a three for me. It hadn’t really aged all that well back then and it certainly hasn’t improved in the intervening years. But I think once you move past that (the dated references, the preoccupation with outfits, the occasional dodgy bit, the stereotypes, some of the general cringe.. you know, the usual early aughts PNR/UF issues), it’s still possible to see what Moning was building towards.

This series quickly escalated into a crack-like obsession for me and I remember devouring the first seven (the only ones out at the time) of these books in like five days or something insane. I know there’s a lot of problematic stuff to come but, upon chatting with a buddy, I was (we were) still really keen to see if I (we) would love these books — flaws and all — the same way on a reread; well, it’ll be mostly a reread, I haven’t read the two final books. So that’s what we’re doing! One a month for the rest of the year. So, yes, expect these reviews to keep popping up in your feed, sorry not sorry?

But as for Darkfever itself.. what’s there to say? You’ve either read these books or avoided them. The series kicks off with Mac, a simple southern belle from Georgia, relocating to Ireland upon learning of the murder of her older sister and, eventually, uncovering that there’s a lot more to her world than she ever knew; and also more to herself. In following some of the clues Alina has left her, she stumbles into danger, denial, and darkness. She meets Barrons, who might be a friend but also just as likely to be a foe, who begins to guide her through the world of the Fae, and yet also needs her help to track down the very thing her sister warned her must be found.

Again, as mentioned, this is a very 2006 kind of read. You’ll trip over all the references, you’ll glaze over when Mac once more describes her outfits in detail, you’ll sympathize with Barrons over her preoccupation with pink, you’ll quickly end up drunk playing the “take a shot every time she says ‘bosom’ game”, and don’t even get me started on her southern alternatives for swearwords, but.. at the same time, Mac is uniquely herself. And she is forced to undertake many changes, both to fit in to her new world and survive, and yet she still remains unapologetically herself. She’s a mix of a very simple almost-shallow (but never quite fully crossing that line, I don’t think) person and yet not without some layers and strength. It’s possible Moning leaned into the former to make that transition from Before and After more stark but, I mean, yeah it’s a little annoying and she is a little all over the place. The same could be said for Barrons, though. No one is quite all-around likeable in this series opener because there are too many unknowns, too many actual secrets, and everyone is just settling into themselves.

It’s definitely a book that will either send you in the opposite direction or hook you juuust enough to push on. This two star doesn’t scare me off at all, really. I think, for anyone who loves this world, any reread would inspire a whole lot of “yeah, not great. B U T”, and I have that same vibe. I think this series could still work for me the same way it once did. And I’m excited to find out if that holds true.

WHEN SORROWS COME 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

It’s hard to be a hero. There’s always something needing October “Toby” Daye’s attention, and her own desires tend to fall by the wayside in favor of solving the Kingdom’s problems. That includes the desire to marry her long-time suitor and current fiancé, Tybalt, San Francisco’s King of Cats. She doesn’t mean to keep delaying the wedding, it just sort of…happens. And that’s why her closest friends have taken the choice out of her hands, ambushing her with a court wedding at the High Court in Toronto. Once the High King gets involved, there’s not much even Toby can do to delay things…

…except for getting involved in stopping a plot to overthrow the High Throne itself, destabilizing the Westlands entirely, and keeping her from getting married through nothing more than the sheer volume of chaos it would cause. Can Toby save the Westlands and make it to her own wedding on time? Or is she going to have to choose one over the other?


Title : When Sorrows Come
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book fifteen)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 384
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 14, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Yep, it’s me. I’m still reading this (in my opinion) lacklustre series. 

Overall I’m rather underwhelmed about this instalment which makes a nice departure from previous instalments which have often annoyed me. Toby is up to her usual cavalier shenanigans, her narration is full of lighthearted dramatics, she’s delightfully (not) hypocritical about others who crack jokes in tense situations right after she’s done the same, she spews meaningful backstory to strangers for no reason except exposition as well as redundantly trying to convince us things are meaningful..

.. oh but she finally got married. To Tybalt. Eventually.

Before it can happen, though, we have coups and assassinations and all sorts of the usual-in-this-world hijinks. And, again, as usual, the High King of Everything (whatever) felt pretty incompetent and, at times, needed fae-specific things explained to him. Him. The High King. Was it to make Toby look better or what? Not sure. I didn’t understand this. But it certainly didn’t stop him, or the Queen, from throwing the occasional jabs and blame her way.. even though she hadn’t even wanted to be there and everything would’ve been worse had she not been there to save the day and be the hero. I know I complain about this series, and this character, all the time but there are times that the bigger injustice is how other characters treat this character I don’t even like. Not always. But sometimes. In this case it was milder than it’s been in the past but still a recurring and perplexing phenomenon. 

I did kind of love (this wasn’t a surprise, we’ve known since book one) that the High Kingdom or whatever is situated in Toronto but this time we were actually there, visiting, and there were some Canadian and maple flavoured jokes sprinkled around. That gave me the occasional tickle. And I clung to said amusement like Jack clung to the door.

Of note, it was rather disheartening to see a few typos sprinkled in amongst this traditionally published and edited novel. Almost as disheartening as having to sift through passages where someone says something and Toby reiterates it mostly the same way.. just because she’s the MC. Filler, got to love it.

Thankfully my massive binge has dissipated enough from my mind that I was okay riding this book out and got through it pretty quickly. Maybe because I felt removed from it all, though unfortunately had no issue remembering all the little details — helped by all the rehashing spread through the story — but overall this wasn’t as frustrating as I’ve come to expect. That said, as always, I’m still hoping the end of this series is nigh (there’s three more already announced but unclear how long the series is anticipated to last). 

THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON by Ryan Douglass

Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA social thriller where survival is not a guarantee.

Jake Livingston is one of the only black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed sixteen kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win. 


Title : The Taking of Jake Livingston
Author : Ryan Douglass
Format : eARC
Page Count : 256
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ fantasy/thriller
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date : July 13, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated


Hollis’ unrated review

Hm. I’m leaving this unrated for now (for good?) because my thoughts are kind of all over the place.

I think, when you’re neck deep in the spooky thrilling creepiness of this story, you’re in it. You’re having a good scary time. The problem is when you pause, put the book down, and start wondering.. why. Why are these things happening, what is this world, what is the history.. and, the biggest most perplexing thing, why did the author choose to go in this direction with the villain.

I honestly think this would make a great movie because the atmosphere and the ambience, though hella confusing, still did a great job at creeping me out. Some of the visuals were, again, sometimes confusing but somehow still managed to be translated into my brain. But so much of this needs more. Yes, the story is short, so I guess a lot of this surface level non-explanation could be blamed on that but.. why was it short? Why wasn’t this longer, more fleshed out, given context? So much could’ve been improved, including the romance.

If you want a short spooky dose of a novel that brushes up against topics of racism and homophobia, without making them the central theme, and that will likely keep you on the edge of your seat, you could probably do worse. I just wish it could’ve done.. not better, maybe, but more.

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

BIG BAD WOLF by Suleikha Snyder

In 2016, New York became a Sanctuary City for supernaturals…but things quickly spun out of control. Now, Third Shift is an elite team of operatives tasked with exposing the gritty underbelly of New York’s criminal-supernatural underworld, taking down the worst of the worst and protecting human- and shifter-kind alike.

Joe Peluso has blood on his hands. But lawyer and psychologist Neha Ahluwalia is determined to help him craft a solid defense…even if she can’t defend her own obsession. Because Joe took out those Russian mobsters for good reason–they were responsible for the death of his beloved foster brother. Those six bad guys were part of the ruthless clan of bear shifters who control Brooklyn’s Russian mafia, so his vigilante justice has earned him countless enemies in New York’s supernatural-controlled underworld, and no friends in a government that now bends to Russia at every turn.

Joe knows that creatures like him only deserve the worst. Darkness. Solitude. Punishment. But meeting Neha makes him feel human for the first time in forever. He’s never wanted anything in his life like he wants Neha, and he’ll break almost any rule to spend a minute alone with her. But when the Russian mob attacks the jail for payback, Joe and Neha are forced to escape. Before long they’re on the run–from monsters who want him dead and from their own traitorous hearts.


Title : Big Bad Wolf
Author : Suleikha Snyder
Series : Third Shift (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 368
Genre : urban fantasy/PNR
Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date : January 26, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ 


Hollis’ 1 star review

Here’s a series I can unequivocably say that I will not be continuing. See? Even I have limits.

Where to even start, gosh, well. If you thought post-2016 was A Lot, buckle in, folks! In Snyder’s world it gets worse. All those awful real-life things plus a big supernatural outing and rarely does the author miss an opportunity to remind you just how shitty things are. Sure, its fiction, but it doesn’t feel like fiction when you’re rehashing 80% of the crap you’ve just lived through in a gritty dystopian paranormal fantasy. No thanks.

If that wasn’t bad enough, one of the (many) POVs you get is from Mister Melodrama Man Pain himself. Like, I don’t want to shit too hard on this guy, not all his boo hoo’ing was without reason but.. well. Most was. Yeah. The constant spirals of “I’m the worst, you deserve better, I’m a killer” were exhausting. Watching the other half of the pairing put up with it, be reduced to hormones, and waiting until it all got rehashed post-bang? I was so over this very early on in the game. Particularly as I found little to no chemistry between them (or anyone) despite the whole relationship hinging on this big dose of epic lust.

Actually even before we discovered the man pain, I was twigging to this not likely being my thing — as early as the first chapter — but what had interested me about this in the first place was my previous experience reading one of the author’s novellas.. which I thoroughly enjoyed. This? No. Zero enjoyment. Only boredom or frustration or pure misery.

This is clearly being set up as a huge series because we had lots of POVs with lots of little offshooting set-ups for coupledom, or drama, or adventures, and while some of those minor dynamics sort’ve interested me at first, I just eventually lost the will to care. The writing isn’t terrible but it does not draw you in; I found it very hard to keep track of events in some of the scenes, particularly action sequences, and had to backtrack to determine what had happened, and yet we were forced to rehash so much dialogue (literally, pulled from previous chapters, as one character or another relived it) and all together it just felt so offbalance.

I somehow dragged my lifeless carcass through this book to the bitter end but hey that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. Particularly if you want a gritty pseudo-real world PNR that somehow manages to lean into all the cheese and tropes that call this genre home. As mentioned, though, this is as far as I go.

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