STAR DAUGHTER by Shveta Thakrar

This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.

The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.

Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.


Title : Star Daughter
Author : Shveta Thakrar
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : HarperTeen
Release Date : August 11, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

I couldn’t describe to you the excitement I felt when I mashed up my love for that cover with the realization that this was a STARDUST-inspired fantasy set alongside Hindu mythology. Except that I was, y’know, excited. But maybe my expectations were just too high?

Right off the bat I struggled a bit with the hyper-focus on Sheetal’s preoccupation with her sorta-boyfriend but as things transitioned out of the contemporary, leaving the boy problems behind, and into the fantasy? I was transfixed. The writing was a little offbalance at times, either incredibly flowery with lovely turns of phrase, or none of that at all — making the random switches back to the purple a little hard to gel with, but whatever. We were in some star kingdom in the sky with a competition, an inheritance of power, and it was all going pretty well.

Until it wasn’t.

I’m sad to say the events and conflicts that cropped up along Sheetal’s journey felt very humdrum and constantly pulled me away from the unique and interesting moments I did enjoy. The villains were pretty one dimentional. Occasionally I felt some scenes felt a little jumbled, people appearing and disappearing inconsistently (which, I mean, this is an ARC, that could be fixed before publication). But I also found some repetition just really wasn’t helping me lose myself in story — flame in her core, tingling in her palms, shimmering hair, etc. 

This definitely reads like a debut but there are some lovely shining bits that make me think this is going to be an author to watch. I enjoyed what she took from her insipration of Gaiman’s story and how she built on it, changed it, and made it very original. I really liked some of her prose. I loved the mythology and the culture of the setting. But I found some of the conflicts very typically YA, a little tired, and didn’t enjoy –any of — the characters.

So this is obviously a disapointment, because I was so excited for this, but again, I hope to love her next release.

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

BOOKISH AND THE BEAST by Ashley Poston – double review!

In the third book in Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series, Beauty and the Beast is retold in the beloved Starfield universe.

Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.

On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.

When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.

But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.


Title : Bookish and the Beast
Author : Ashley Poston
Series : Once Upon a Con (book three)
Format : paperback / eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Quirk Books
Release Date : August 4, 2020

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★★★ / .5


Micky’s 4 star review

This was such a fab, reel-you-in story, full of books, libraries, jerks, nerds and most importantly…jerk redemption. I have to admit, I’ve missed out book two along the way, but I will put that right soon. However, I was still able to follow this interconnected standalone with ease. There was something about the love of books, in this book, that just spoke to my soul. This quote below and the whole section around it resonated with me completely.

I can recognise these books from anywhere – even ten, fifteen feet away. I know their spines. I know their titles. I know their thirty-year-old smell. I am at those books, my fingers running down their broken, well-loved spines…

The vibe of the two characters, Rosie and Vance were complicated, or maybe just rather simple hate. Rosie was a complete clumsy disaster whenever in the proximity of Vance. She repeatedly overstepped privacy boundaries in a cringeworthy way but it made for hilarious hiding-between-the-fingers reading.

She’s strangely intimidating, like a squirrel with a butcher’s knife.

Vance was a jerk, pure and simple. A rich kid, Hollywood royalty and a star in the movies this series is based on. Points in his favour were administered early on for Sansa the dog, but that was all he had to endear himself. Slowly over time, over their joint project, these two had some grudging connection. I loved how their story unfolded.

There was a bi-Dad storyline which I adored to the point that I wanted some more. Space Dad was so cool and his crush potential deserved its own story. The friendship circle around Rosie was sweet and loyal with a non-binary friend going for Homecoming Overlord.

Amongst the cute, were serious themes of grief and berevement. I found Rosie’s narrative, inner feelings and reluctancy to talk about her loss believable. Vance’s parent issues warranted a bit more depth, I think.

Out of the two I’ve read of this series, this is my favourite. It was a devourable read with cover details that I’m only just appreciating now. This book was everything I want and need from a contemporary YA with the added bonus of books as a context.

Thank you to Quirk books and JamiedoesPR for the finished copy to review.


Hollis’ 1.5 star review

Unfortunately, the latest installment in this fandom-and-nerdy-love-explosion just.. really missed the mark. The third book in the series, centering around the revival and cult-following of a tv-series-turned-movie-adaptation relies heavily on the previous fairytale-esque romances set in and around the fandom and conventions and, unfortunately, fails to live up to anything that came before. Added to the mix was an attempted Beauty and the Beast retelling that didn’t remotely land.

So what did work in this one’s favour? It’s diverse. Literally, that’s it.

I couldn’t get behind the lead characters or their blink and you miss it transition from strangers in reluctant proximity to star-crossed lovers who make out. I couldn’t get behind the random other-guy plot and all (and I mean all) the drama that ensued from that (also, hey, where those consequences at? how is this never ever addressed?). I tried to appreciate and respect the thread of grief woven through the story, our MC having lost her mother the year before, but for every time she says she never wants to talk about it, all she’s doing is thinking about it, or thinking she’s defined by it, when it seems no one actually looks at her as ‘the girl who lost her mother’. Only she does. Which I mean, fine, valid, but. It was confusing. The friend group was cute, I liked Rosie’s two buds, but overall this felt haphazard and messy and just slapped together.

This was a definite miss and though book one was just a like for me, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed book two, so that adds an extra layer of sad for this one which didn’t work at all.

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

THE GILDED WOLVES by Roshani Chokshi

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive. 


Title : The Gilded Wolves
Author : Roshani Chokshi
Series : The Gilded Wolves (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 386
Genre : YA historical fiction/fantasy
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : January 15, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

You know when you’re reading something that has bits of everything you love, and you’re mostly following along with plot or worldbuilding or mythology (mostly might be generous..), so you think you’re having a good time? That’s what my experience with THE GILDED WOLVES was like.

I’ve avoided this for ages because of my weird struggles with Chokshi’s writing and all the comparisons to the other big YA heist story/series but finally decided to give it a try. And.. yeah, I think I liked this? I think? Maybe?

Honestly. Who looks at a vase covered in bull testicles and says, ‘You. I must have you.’?
The bored, the rich, and the enigmatic.

The middle is easily the best part of this book. I found it slow going to settle into the setting, and all the complicated clues and problem solving with esoteric history lessons or references we were made to follow along with, and I found the ending was both rushed and hard to picture (which I find a common problem with this author, I just can’t picture what she’s describing), and that was before we jumped around with short chapters, and the passage of time, from all the POVs before a little nugget of a game changer to end the installment. But the middle? The middle was a good time. I felt I was starting to know the characters, even if for the most part we rehashed a lot of the same things we had learned in the beginning, but I love me an ensemble, so, it’s cool, it’s good. But the problem in hindsight is now I don’t really think I know any of them. Everything feels very surface level and I’m left feeling like spent a few hours watching actors perform a play instead of eavesdropping on real lives. Does that make sense?

Additionally, there was kind of a dead giveaway to a particularly element/event with how this story unfolded. I won’t say what it was (I deleted it, actually) because maybe some readers won’t pick up on it. I only noticed because I’ve been tricked this way before. I see you, authors. I see you.

Also why was the poison issue never addressed? I was 98% convinced there was a time travel element at play (sorry, is this a spoiler?) and then, nope, but then.. why?

So, yes. I think there was some greatness in here, particularly in the diverse cast and the representation, and overall the author is clearly very smart to piece all these historical tricksy bits together. I’m too dumb for it, obviously, but it felt well researched. I just wish I had been able to picture things. I wish the big climax had been a little less extreme, or easier to follow. And I wish the ending had flowed instead of feeling so chopped together to close or unpick some loops for book two.

I’m curious to read on, though, so I guess we’re coming out of this one with a win. Though I tend to read on more than I should so.. is it? I’ll stop now.

THE EXTRAORDINARIES by TJ Klune

Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Marissa Meyer’s Renegades in TJ Klune’s YA debut.


Title : The Extraordinaries
Author : TJ Klune
Series : The Extraordinaries (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : LGBTQIA+ YA fantasy
Publisher : Tor Teen
Release Date : July 14, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I feel like my feelings on this book went up and down as the story went along. There were some pretty great highs (and I mean that not necessarily limited to light hearted delight but also momentsof pure emotion and sadness) and also some middling.. not lows but, like, middles. 

Are you both all right?
Aside from the emotional trauma that will probably rear its head when I’m thirty-seven and working at my cubicle in a dead-end job that I hate, just fine.
I’m fine. Any trauma I might have had is being washed away by the tragic comedy occurring right in front of me.

If you’re a fan of Klune’s humour, you’ll absolutely have a good time. Some passages had me in stitches. If you’re a fan of Klune’s angst, you probably won’t be super satisfied but you’ll be content. This is a YA with comedic leanings, so, it’s got sufficient heartache but isn’t quite on par with the torment the author inflicts in his adult stories. And we also have a story that looks fairly typical on the onset and maybe doesn’t go in every typical direction. There’s still some predictable paths taken but less than you might think. I don’t know if some of that predictability comes from the fairly standard superhero/comic tropes or it was done to showcase just how stunningly oblivious our main character was, but.. I mean, it could be both. 

He felt badly for all the generation that had come before him, unable to access queries immediately such as if it was okat for boys to give other boys flowers. Two minutes later, he was somehow reading a Wikipedia article on the Women’s Cricket World Cut, unsure of how he got there.

I’ll admit said main character, Nick, was maybe my least favourite character of the bunch, which had nothing to do with his ADHD, or how extra of a stan he was about his love for his heroes, though maybe was influenced by his self-centeredness, but was really more to do with how fabulous Klune’s supporting cast was. Gibby and Jazz were just exceptional. And Seth was the soft geeky cinnamon roll we all love to love. But where Nick was his best was in every father-son scene. His relationship with his father was complex and hard but their devotion, their love for each other was just wonderful. And I can’t wait to see more of that in future books and how, maybe, that might change. Or won’t. You know. Depending on.. things. Which, yes, again, maybe a little predictable. But it’s fine.

I’m not fragile.”
I know. I figured that out the first time I dropped you on your head and it made a little dent. You didn’t even cry.”
What do you mean, the first time? There was more than once?
Being a parent is hard. Kids are slippery.”

So, yes, this is a like not a love but I think many readers will love this one. And I will definitely read on in the series.

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

MONDAY’S NOT COMING by Tiffany D. Jackson

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone? 


Title : Monday’s Not Coming
Author : Tiffany D. Jackson
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 432
Genre : YA mystery/contemporary
Publisher : Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date : May 22, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

Oof, man, oof. Jackson does not pull punches with her stories.

Whereas ALLEGEDLY gripped me, sometimes terrified me, twisted me up in knots, MONDAY’S NOT COMING, by contrast, was an equally important story — this time about the children, particularly those of colour, (and in this case, a young Black girl) who go missing — but failed to maintain that same intensity, of suspense. There was definitely some dread to be felt, as a reader, knowing that this would not have a happy ending, but getting to that moment, and wading through all the scenes leading upto it, felt a bit.. arduous. This wasn’t helped by the fact that our protagonist, Claudia, read very young. I mean, she is, I believe she’s fourteen or fifteen at the onset, but her voice felt even younger. Particularly when set against some of the subject matter. But maybe that was a deliberate choice.

This story was heartbreaking to read because for so long only Claudia notices something is wrong. Only Claudia cares. And watching how others were so slow to action, how reluctant people were to pay attention, was just excruciating. The circumstances that Monday (and her siblings) endured? Horrific. That’s where the aforementioned dread came in. You could see it happening, unfurling in slow-mo, as we live through the “before” moments; all the clues that Claudia was just too young to understand, too quick to believe otherwise, it was awful.

Where this particular read failed to land, however, was in the timeline shifting back and forth; yet another unexpected element that definitely makes me think I should be wary of getting the rug pulled out from under me for all of Jackson’s books; and there was a little too much meandering around in-between all the Monday-centric stuff. That said, of the meandering, I did like that we had some focus on Claudia’s struggle with dyslexia and some very positive and helpful moments with teachers towards coping with that.

So, yes, I had some pretty high expectations coming off of reading this author’s debut and this didn’t quite measure up. But it’s still a read touching on some very real and important issues and would recommend you give it a go.

CRAVE by Tracy Wolff

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.


Title : Crave
Author : Tracy Wolff
Series : Crave #1
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 592
Genre : YA PNR
Publisher : Entangled Teen
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star review

Well then, that was one heck of a crazy experience. It had unapologetic shades of twilight but it was original enough to carry a fresh story. CRAVE was full of violence, wars and rivalry at a boarding school for all sorts of paranormal creatures. I found it addictive and fun with some good twists, whilst also being somewhat predictable.

The reading experience was an addictive one, it was hard to put this down and reading this with buddies made that feeling even worse as we egged one another on and built up the angst (as if it needed any help).

I’m pleased to say that both the main characters, Grace and Jaxon had more actual personality than Edward and Bella but the story wasn’t as good (if you are a Twlight fan). There were sercrets to make the reader infuriated and lots of guesswork about who, what creature and again…who. I really enjoyed the guessing and laughed at how involved I got in the book, it really did take me back to the original feeling of reading it’s cover inspiration.

I’m really not going to tell you anything about the story but it ended in a really unexpected way, knocking the rating up to 4 stars. I respect the story so much more for that ending despite the dramarama and angsty fun on the way.

So, should you read it, hell yeah, why not! Oh and if you have a first edition, you get some alternate POV chapters at the end, which is a nice touch.

WIRE WINGS by Wren Handman

Graciela does as she’s told: she cowers beneath the towering intellect of her parents, goes to school, toes the line. But in the Waves, a virtual reality world, Graciela can be anyone, anywhere, anytime. Free.

In the real world, Graciela is drowning. Her best friend recently passed away, she’s suffering from crippling panic attacks, and her only connection to life is Khaiam, who keeps trying to draw her back to reality.

But how can he compete with the Waves? There, she can be whoever she dreams. And in that world, there’s Thomas, the stunning stranger with haunted eyes she’s only ever met online. Thomas seems to be able to defy the rules of the Waves, and he holds secrets of his own—about the origins of his creation, the nature of AI, and about Gracie’s own past. He will lead her on a dangerous road to truths she isn’t ready for, and the ultimate decision between acceptance and identity, duty and love, life and freedom.


Title : Wire Wings
Author : Wren Handman
Format : eARC
Page Count : 284
Genre : YA sci-fi/fantasy
Publisher : Parliament House Press
Release Date : June 23, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

WIRE WINGS is a compelling story about grief; about the gaping holes left by the lose of someone you loved. It’s about escapism; pushing aside your real-world worries, and leaving reality behind. It’s about identity; the masks we choose for ourselves, and the core of us beneath them all. It’s about love; the awkwardness of friendships that existed because of other people, the complicated dynamics of parent and child, and the purity of connection that reaches down past your skin and into the truth of you and being accepted for it.

[..] sometimes she wonders what makes a person real.

This story takes place in the not-so-distant future and Handman’s world mostly resembles our own but the world she’s created in the Waves, this VR-esque experience, is like nothing else. Calling them games doesn’t do them justice, but the experiences, everything, are vivid and fascinating and a stark change in pace from Graciela’s every day existence where she’s barely getting by, barely able to breathe, and feeling overlooked and lost.

WIRE WINGS is equal parts exciting and colourful as well as heartbreaking and tragic. There is such beauty in the prose, mirrored in all the worlds we flit in and out of, but that ache of loss and devastation is never truly gone and resonates both viscerally and also subtlely throughout. It’s reaching for the hand that isn’t there. Walking into rooms that were once filled with laughter. In the friendships held together by a body that no longer takes up any space. It’s in the bloom of a romance that can’t be shared with the one you most want to tell. The name you can barely speak for choking on the syllables. But most of all, it’s in the acknowledgement of their memory when you find moments of happiness and not flincing away from it or feeling guilty.

This story is brilliant, bittersweet, and beautiful, and I think you should read it.

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

AURORA BURNING by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces.

And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri.

Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.


Title : Aurora Burning
Author : Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Series : Aurora Cycle (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 512
Genre : YA sci-fi
Publisher : Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date : May 5, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

So I think I’m in the same boat for book two in this series as I was for book one. There are good, and interesting, and twisty things happening, with some mostly fun characters, but I’m definitely not loving this series compared to the duo’s other books.

There were some big reveals in AURORA BURNING; some I saw coming, others I didn’t, and while there is a bit of overall underwhelmingness happening here for me (and that makes me a little sad), I’m not about to get off this ride because we’re only one book away from the end. However, that said, I did chew through this book in one afternoon, so it’s still got that compulsive readability that you would come to expect from these talented authors, both as solo writers and a duo. It just doesn’t have the kind of characters I’m used to loving unequivocally, and for all the Big Moments, Big Stakes, I’m still just not feeling them.

I’m again surprised (I can’t remember if I mentioned it in my review for book one or not) about the heavy romance element that we have going on, mostly because it feels so less organic than their previous couples, and as a result less romantic despite the additional page time, so, it’s just adding to the weird headspace I have over this whole series.

But.

When it comes down to it, I think if you loved AURORA RISING, you’ll be very satisfied with this follow up — but probably pretty mad about that ending.

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

TIME OF OUR LIVES by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

A boy desperate to hold on, a girl ready to let go.

Fitz Holton waits in fear for the day his single mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s starts stealing her memory. He’s vowed to stay close to home to care for her in the years to come–never mind the ridiculous college tour she’s forcing him on to visit schools where he knows he’ll never go. Juniper Ramirez is counting down the days until she can leave home, a home crowded with five younger siblings and zero privacy. Against the wishes of her tight-knit family, Juniper plans her own college tour of the East Coast with one goal: get out.

When Fitz and Juniper cross paths on their first college tour in Boston, they’re at odds from the moment they meet– while Juniper’s dying to start a new life apart for her family, Fitz faces the sacrifices he must make for his. Their relationship sparks a deep connection–in each other’s eyes, they glimpse alternate possibilities regarding the first big decision of their adult lives. 

Time of Our Lives is a story of home and away, of the wonder and weight of memory, of outgrowing fears and growing into the future.


Title : Time of Our Lives
Author : Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Format : ARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date : April 21, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I totally respect what this book is trying to do. And what, I imagine, it will successfully do for many readers. It just didn’t quite work for me.

This is such a great representation of the mixed emotions young people (I was young once!) feel going into the next stage (ie, post-high school) of their lives. The momentum that pushes them forward to escape their current situation (overbearing family, no room to be yourself, too much responsibility at too young an age, etc) and the reluctance to go too far afield (family obligations, health, anxiety, worry, etc). These characters were perfect representations of those, often conflicting though sometimes singular, feelings. I felt it.

I already know what the future holds. It’s right now that has the potential to be extraordinary.”

Where this book failed for me, I think, was I didn’t quite love the characters. I didn’t love what followed their initial meeting and connection, and how that all came about, and I was hard pressed to believe how quickly they just “got” each other. Thankfully this relationship wasn’t smooth sailing, I appreciated the arguments, the speed bumps, but overall it did kind of stretch my belief. Maybe if I had liked them more, I would’ve bought it? I don’t know. Part of me had hoped this had gone a different way, been a story that connected these characters but didn’t quite overlap.. she says, vaguely.

There’s a claustrophobia in comfort. The threads become a web, confining the person I want to be to the person I was.

There are definitely emotional elements to this story, with some suffocating but reassuring (for the character) familial roles (honestly, the first few chapters dealing with Juniper’s family made me want to break out in hives, but that’s just me) and some heartbreaking health issues when it comes to a parent. Again, like before, I could feel it. But..

But overall, no matter how great the writing, how stunning some of the turns of phrase, this was a story very character-focused, and I just couldn’t love them. The characters. Also, a certain cameo from IF I’M BEING HONEST made me so mad initially.. but that was redeemed. Had it not? I would’ve been devastated.

So this was a mixed bag, but also a strong read. These authors are definitely talented, and not writing the same story in each release (thank goodness for that), but this was also not what I got from IF I’M BEING HONEST and maybe, in part, that’s also contributing to some disappointment. Even though I said different things are great. And they are. If you’ve enjoyed this duo before, I think you’ll like this, too. Maybe not as much, maybe more. Who is to say. What I can say, though, is even though I didn’t love it, I’ll continue to read whatever they put out.

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

RUTHLESS GODS by Emily A Duncan

Darkness never works alone…

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become. 

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer. 


Title : Ruthless Gods
Author : Emily A Duncan
Series : Something Dark and Holy (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 544
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I feel like I’m in exactly the same place with RUTHLESS GODS as I was with WICKED SAINTS. This series, the content in these books, the twisty story of betrayal and blood and more betrayal, is both worthy of love and full of frustration for me. The worldbuilding, the pantheon of gods, of monsters, of heretics and holy people, it’s all very complex and fascinating, but equally confusing and repetitive.

I feel this one did hold together better than book one, where we know so little and even less is made clear (which is apparently how the author wanted it), whereas things took a turn here that revealed both more and, in some ways, well.. not less but definitely not everything.

Another aspect that I both loved and didn’t was the romantic element(s). One couple I was hugely there for (yes, please, more), and the other? I felt smitten by it at times and over it for others. It’s a very push, pull, and then throw the other off a cliff kind of dynamic and it makes it fascinating and fun and also agonizing (not in a good way) as you struggle to keep up and, also, parse it all. Also like in book one, I’m pretty sure I would die for Serefin, and, I mean, I would at least call 911 for the others. If they asked me to.

So, yes, hardly a glowing review, but I think book three has the potential to knock this out of the park. We’re on stronger footing at the end of this installment — it definitely didn’t feel like book two syndrome — and if this trend continues it’ll be bigger and bloodier and probably even more betrayalier (it’s a word). I’ll read on. I’m two books in, after all; can’t stop me now.

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