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NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER by Sophie Gonzales

A girl enters a reality dating competition to get revenge on her cheating, royal-adjacent ex-boyfriend, and ends up falling for another girl on the show—in fact, the girl he cheated on her with.

It’s been two years since Maya dumped her cheating ex-boyfriend Jordy, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country, and in the lead up to the wedding he captured hearts globally as the eligible younger brother. So, when Maya receives an invitation to be a contestant on Second Chance Romance, a new reality show in which the now-famous Jordy will re-date his ex-girlfriends in an effort to find “the one that got away,” she isn’t interested…that is, until she realizes she can use this opportunity to exact her revenge. If she can make it to the finale, she can reject Jordy and publicly break his heart. As far as Maya’s concerned, it’s payback with interest: just what a guy like Jordy deserves.

But when she gets to the set, she’s confronted with the one person she hasn’t accounted for: Skye, the beautiful, charismatic girl Jordy cheated on Maya with. How is she supposed to live with this girl for six weeks? Sharing bunkbeds, for crying out loud?

Except, of course, there’s more to Skye than she lets most people see. Skye has her own reasons for being careful with her heart, and might be more willing to take Maya’s side than it initially seems. If they can sustain their reluctant alliance—and keep their unexpected chemistry from interfering—they might just have a chance to take Jordy down.


Title : Never Ever Getting Back Together
Author : Sophie Gonzales
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ contemporary
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : November 29, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

So it is, perhaps, my fault for the way this one went down. Because I think I misconstrued the plot a bit when I clicked request and that makes it a me problem instead of the book problem. But, I suppose, that still doesn’t change how the book was not it.

However, having now reread (or maybe properly read it for the first time..) the synopsis, I think maybe I just stopped at the tagline.

I initially had this big long rant about timelines and how I found them hard to keep straight when it came to the ex-boyfriend’s relationships, because there were just so many for such young people (this would’ve been more believable had everyone been aged up and this not been YA) but it got deleted — notably, for December-me, I wrote this in July on the day half the country lost our internet, so, haha, fun nostalgia times! Hope things are better in the future! And ultimately, being that this is such a me thing, for all I know it’s just something I couldn’t follow as opposed to being an issue with the plotting (though this usually isn’t the case). I would’ve appreciated a flowchart though. And I really wished it had been clearer when he had become famous as a result of his sister marrying royalty. That would’ve helped. Except, again, the summary seems to make this clearer than the book ever did. Which is frustrating.

My frustration about timing aside, that was merely a drop in the bucket when it came to how frustrating it was to live through all of the ex-boyfriend’s dialogue and actions. Part of what I misunderstood about this book was I didn’t actually think the ex was supposed to be as much as a dirtbag as he was (could be the colourful illustrated cover gave me the wrong idea about the vibes, too). He does expose himself a few times before he gets his real comeuppance but unfortunately he does a great job of selling himself to be perfection. That said, the highlight for me, not just when it came to getting revenge but also just a highlight of the book in general, is when Maya comes up with a drinking game with the other contestants to showcase his behaviour. Genius.

Also, if I never see the word “chicks” again, it’ll be too soon.

Complaints about the evil ex aside, though.. I wanted to root for the romance. I wanted to cheer for these girls. But they felt incredibly inconsistent; or, rather, Skye did. She just wasn’t fleshed out. Maya, however, was the more solid of the two and there were times I actually enjoyed her (though maybe not when she was drunk, that was just silly.. in a dumb way). The one thing that perplexed me was this whole issue about college that seemed very shoehorned into constant discussions that were framed around her intelligence. Which wasn’t a her problem but a people-around-her problem. But I’m mad on her behalf. And also because it was a weird thing to lean into. But they didn’t stand out, not any of them, because their identities were just too much about the ex.

I took a risk on this book because I’ve enjoyed the author before (notably only Perfect on Paper though) but I knew the competition element could be my downfall. And it sorta was. There wasn’t as much girl-on-girl scheming and hate as there could’ve been but there was enough. I don’t love this set-up and this has solidified that I likely will avoid the concept in the future. But I thought, with my misinformation at hand, this author behind the wheel, and a queer love story coming out of having each dated the same boy, there could be some magic here. But there wasn’t. Again, this is mostly a me problem, though, so you may very well enjoy this. And I hope you do.

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

FIVE SURVIVE by Holly Jackson

Eight hours. Six friends. Five survive. A road trip turns deadly in this addictive YA thriller from the bestselling author of the worldwide phenomenon A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER.

Red Kenny is on a road trip for spring break with five friends: Her best friend – the older brother – his perfect girlfriend – a secret crush – a classmate – and a killer. 

When their RV breaks down in the middle of nowhere with no cell service, they soon realize this is no accident. They have been trapped by someone out there in the dark, someone who clearly wants one of them dead.

With eight hours until dawn, the six friends must escape, or figure out which of them is the target. But is there a liar among them? Buried secrets will be forced to light and tensions inside the RV will reach deadly levels. Not all of them will survive the night. . . . 


Title : Five Survive
Author : Holly Jackson
Format : physical
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA mystery / thriller
Publisher : Delacorte
Release Date : November 29, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

Alright, let’s get the good out of the way first.

The setting. 97% of this story takes place within the confines of a broken down RV that has six people crammed inside. That would be hellish without the whole murder mystery intensity element but at night? Stuck in a dark wooded area, with the thread of harm coming at them from both inside and out? Hoo boy. I’m sweating just thinking about it. Jackson gets mega points for this unique and creative version of a locked room mystery. Also, related, I’m not sure what would’ve enticed me to get into an RV in the first place but this has definitely ensured I never will.

The actual reveals. Obviously I can’t get into this but while the plot of the mystery is actually.. well, pretty far fetched, really, I enjoyed the unveiling of it all. I’m still a little side-eye about the reality of it but, hey, I’m suspending the disbelief.

But everything else? I don’t know.

I realize Oliver was a character no one was supposed to like but he exhausted me. Half the reason I blitzed through this so fast was because I wanted to stop reading about him. I’m sure there could’ve been a way to recreate his influence without it being done this way but what do I know. Maybe we needed his hateful self to push things forward. But I still hated it. Him. And I need a nap now.

The other characters I mostly did enjoy, though. I liked that we had secrets from all, some red herrings, some adjacent to the main mystery, and how each seemed valid and likely. Again, it was the main plot itself that I felt less likely but we already went over that. I’ll allow it. Being in Red’s head, though, was very.. meandering. Disjointed. And maybe that makes sense once we understand what she’s been going through, and doing, over the last little while but you’d almost think all that would make her hyper focused and detail oriented, not completely spaced out and lost. But she definitely rose to the occasion near the end so she didn’t disappoint completely.

And as for the ending, well. I’m glad we were left in suspense for so long after the big climax but I didn’t love how the final bits of the story were told. Except for the check boxes (if you know you know). That was cute.

Overall, though, this will be great for those of you who love locked room mysteries with high stakes. But I definitely preferred the author’s debut series, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. That being said, it’s a sure thing that I will pick up this author again.

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

THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD by Tiffany D. Jackson

Author Tiffany D. Jackson ramps up the horror and tackles America’s history and legacy of racism in this YA novel following a biracial teenager as her Georgia high school hosts its first integrated prom. 

When Springville residents—at least the ones still alive—are questioned about what happened on prom night, they all have the same explanation… Maddy did it.

An outcast at her small-town Georgia high school, Madison Washington has always been a teasing target for bullies. And she’s dealt with it because she has more pressing problems to manage. Until the morning a surprise rainstorm reveals her most closely kept secret: Maddy is biracial. She has been passing for white her entire life at the behest of her fanatical white father, Thomas Washington.

After a viral bullying video pulls back the curtain on Springville High’s racist roots, student leaders come up with a plan to change their image: host the school’s first integrated prom as a show of unity. The popular white class president convinces her Black superstar quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date, leaving Maddy wondering if it’s possible to have a normal life.

But some of her classmates aren’t done with her just yet. And what they don’t know is that Maddy still has another secret… one that will cost them all their lives.


Title : The Weight of Blood
Author : Tiffany D. Jackson
Format : ARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : YA horror / retellings
Publisher : Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date : September 6, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

This might be one of the first instance where the inclusion of the podcast-about-the-event shtick hasn’t been a win for me. I enjoyed the interviews, the snippets, but the podcast itself? Not really. I would’ve liked more story instead, actually, as I felt the interruptions broke too much of the tension instead of adding to it.

But so much of this was good. Fun to read about? Of course not. But there were so many varied discussions about racism, colourism, segregation, and what it means to be “Black enough”, and each time it actually had meaningful relevance to the story and characters, without feeling awkwardly shoehorned in — like many stories often do. This was also one of the few YA stories, at least that I’ve read recently, where the villains weren’t caricatures. They had nuance, they acted appropriately in ways that befit their beliefs and feelings, and — in one particular case — were committed to that right to the bitter end. IYKYK.

Speaking of characters though I’ll admit that I don’t think I liked Maddy, our main character, or the love interest all that much. I could feel for them, absolutely, and want the best for them, but oddly I think my favourite character might’ve been Wendy. And no, I won’t be taking questions at this time. But on the whole? I couldn’t put this down.

A lot of this story is going to be familiar as this is an homage to Carrie but I still think there will be a few things to surprise you along the way. And, again, I really enjoyed how Jackson added to the narrative and fleshed it out in a new way while still keeping true to the essence of it all.

If this is on your radar, definitely give it a go.

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

THE EMPRESS OF TIME by Kylie Lee Baker

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami Ren Scarborough is no longer the girl who was chased out of England—she is the Goddess of Death ruling Japan’s underworld. But her problems have never been greater. Her Shinigami see her as a foreigner on the throne. Her brother, Neven, is gone, lost in the deep darkness. And her fiancé, Hiro, has been killed by her own hand.

Then Ren receives the most troubling news yet—Reapers have been spotted in Japan, and it’s only a matter of time before Ivy, now Britain’s Death Goddess, comes to claim her revenge.

Ren’s last hope is to appeal to the god of storms and seas, who can turn the tides to send Ivy’s ship away from Japan’s shores. But he’ll help Ren only if she finds a sword lost thousands of years ago—an impossible demand.

Together with the moon god Tsukuyomi, who shares an uncanny resemblance to his brother Hiro, Ren ventures across the country in a race against time. As her journey thrusts her into the middle of scheming gods and dangerous Yokai demons, Ren will have to learn who she can truly trust—and the fate of Japan hangs in the balance. 


Title : The Empress of Time
Author : Kylie Lee Baker
Series : The Keeper of Night (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Inkyard Press
Release Date : October 4, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I don’t think I enjoyed this quite as much as book one, which is why I knocked off the half point, but overall I think it’s a pretty solid duology — even if it won’t be a new favourite.

This story really shines in both the tone and the worldbuilding/setting. It’s dark but somehow also vibrant. However, much of this one does feel a bit wheel spinny in the sense that Ren is sent running around Japan for.. reasons.. and only one of the encounters along the way was actually interesting. This side quest in the run-up to the big conflict does give a little breathing time for a certain reunion but it does also end up feeling like a lot of nothing happens between those bits. And this isn’t a short book!

Having said that, I was really pleased with how everything went down at the end. Unlike book one, I actually enjoyed the big conflict and how that resolved. I finished this feeling very satisfied and that’s a win despite some of the middling middle bits.

If this is on your radar, I would definitely suggest you give it a try. I will be very interested to see what comes next from this author.

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

I’M THE GIRL by Courtney Summers

When sixteen-year-old Georgia Avis discovers the dead body of thirteen-year-old Ashley James, she teams up with Ashley’s older sister, Nora, to find and bring the killer to justice before he strikes again. But their investigation throws Georgia into a world of unimaginable privilege and wealth, without conscience or consequence, and as Ashley’s killer closes in, Georgia will discover when money, power and beauty rule, it might not be a matter of who is guilty—but who is guiltiest.

A spiritual successor to the 2018 breakout hit, SadieI’m the Girl is a masterfully written, bold, and unflinching account of how one young woman feels in her body as she struggles to navigate a deadly and predatory power structure while asking readers one question: if this is the way the world is, do you accept it?


Title : I’m The Girl
Author : Courtney Summers
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ mystery
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : September 13, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

After a pretty lackluster reading weekend, I pulled out the big guns and delved into I’m The Girl hoping that Summers, with (as it’s coined) her spiritual-successor to Sadie, which I loved, would break me out of the funk. But instead it just gave me a different one.

This was so hard to read, which is understandable and probably the point, but where I can respect some of what the author was doing and saying and forcing the reader to consider, I don’t know if it succeeded where it was meant to. Or at least it didn’t for me.

I’m The Girl delves into the concept of grooming, of manipulation, of powerful people enforcing their rules and their wants on others, but everything around it just felt disjointed and shaky. Being in Georgia’s head was an awful place to be, with her self-worth and dreams tied up in belonging to this place where she misguidedly believes she can become something, which was tied into believing her worth was skin deep, and it just spiralled in and out of this vicious cycle. She was incredibly naive, incredibly needy, out of touch, and lost. She was constantly in situations she shouldn’t have been in, never quite seeming to learn from them, and you could blame some of that on the knowledge she didn’t have, secrets held out of reach by those around her, as well as the manipulation of others. It was painful.

And while all this is going on, there’s also a dead girl, the sister of a not-friend, more an acquaintance, and Georgia gets sorta tangled up in both because she discovers the body and because she finds herself roped into to helping determine what happened — I wouldn’t quite say she’s investigating things, the way the synopsis would have you believe, but there are a few side quests — and I liked that, unlike Sadie, Georgia is only tangentially connected to the death. She’s watching the devastation happen from the outside looking in, much the way she feels held back from the glamourous and prestigious world she wants to belong. But in that same drama, I almost feel there were too many added elements (maybe just one) that muddied the waters.

Maybe, on the whole, when combined with the romance, it was just too many things. And yet, despite this, what it also wasn’t, was a thriller. It also wasn’t anything like Sadie so if, like me, you were looking to recapture that feeling? Maybe just go for a reread.

I think this review is a little messy but so was the book. Or, at least, it just wasn’t for me. And that’s fine. I think fans of the author will likely appreciate this, the same way they appreciate her other works, because she’s consistent in shining a light on these dark areas. And that’s a good thing, don’t get me wrong. But it won’t always make for an enjoyable read, which makes sense, but equally it might not always made for a good read. Whereas my struggles with The Project had to do with the characters, not the plot, when it comes to I’m The Girl I would say this one is definitely the characters but also the plot. Again, in concept, I am so down with this particular narrative. I just wish it had played out differently. But. I will continue to pick up this author.. at least for now.

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

THE DROWNED WOODS by Emily Lloyd-Jones

A magical, ethereal fantasy from IndieBound bestselling author Emily Lloyd-Jones.

Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both.

The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing…but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.

The Drowned Woods—set in the same world as The Bone Houses but with a whole new, unforgettable cast of characters—is part heist novel, part dark fairy tale. 


Title : The Drowned Woods
Author : Emily Lloyd-Jones
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Minotaur Books
Release Date : August 16, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

While I don’t want to say that the pitch of this story is wrong — part heist novel, part dark fairytale, delightful Welsh world — I do want to stress the importance of the words “part”. Because the heist part.. well, it’s there but might not be the kind of heist you’re used to. And the same with the dark fairytale; in fact that might be the least present, I think. But they are all definitely players in this story. Just.. bit players. Mostly the whole story is just tiny pieces of things, really. They don’t feel disjointed by any means but we never get full solid bites of anything.

Overall this didn’t move me or enthral me the same way as The Bone Houses. I did like some of the characters — notably the corgi — but never felt the love for any. And I only got the slightest of tickle at the back of my throat near the emotional bit. But the writing was so good and I do love the Welsh setting.

I’ll admit I did spend most of the book trying to figure out how this connected to the aforementioned other novel and I thought it was just my memory failing me (I read too many books to remember lots of details.. it’s my curse) but then the penny finally dropped. And it was very well done.

I would definitely not want to deter you from picking this up, particularly if you’re a fan of the other book this connects to, but for me this had a strong start and a good ending. But the middle is where I got a bit lost and the characters couldn’t quite keep me in it. Having said that, I’ll absolutely continue to read this author.

Also, shoutout to that cover. Stunning!

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

NO LIMITS by Ellie Marney

New Australian YA romantic crime from the author of the award-winning Every series… 

Boozer, brawler, ladies’ man – nineteen-year-old Harris Derwent is not a good guy.

His one attempt to play the hero – helping out his old flame, Rachel Watts – has landed him in hospital. Now injured, broke and unemployed, he’s stuck back in the country, at his father’s mercy. Harris needs to pay off his dad’s debts, and fast. But working as a runner for a drug cartel is a dangerous path – especially if Harris agrees to narc…

Eighteen-year-old Amita Blunt is the perfect police sergeant’s daughter – practical, trustworthy, and oh-so responsible. Getting involved in Harris’s case was never part of the plan. But working at the hospital, she’s invisible – which makes her the ideal contact for a guy feeding information back to the police…

Harris and Amie’s connection is sizzling hot – but if the cartel finds out about them, things could get downright explosive. Backed into a corner, with everything at stake, it’s time for Harris and Amie to find out if love really has no limits..


Title : No Limits
Author : Ellie Marney
Series : Every (book four)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 420
Genre : NA/YA contemporary
Publisher : Bearded Lady Press
Release Date : August 14, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

Perhaps reading this back to back with the main Every arc did it a disservice. Because outside of Harris being a character from book three, and a few name drops of characters from the main trilogy, this really has no connection. And the vibes don’t quite match, either. Had I given it some space, let it breathe, be it’s own thing, would I have liked it more? We’ll never know.

But. It’s a gritty YA, set in Australia, as opposed to some random US town, featuring something of a redemption story, and there’s some intensity and high stakes, plus romance, so if you’re into that, by all means! Give this a whirl.

I can appreciate it for all that, and I do, but this won’t really stand out. In a few weeks, I’ll likely already start forgetting it. When I think back to this series, this world, I doubt I’ll include this one in the mix. And I definitely wouldn’t reread it. But Marney is a great writer and I’m not mad I spent time with this one; even if it was easy to put down or be distracted from it. I’m glad I made the effort to close the chapter on this series, finish book three, and give this one a whirl, too. But if you’re looking to dive into the Every books? You could easily give this a miss. But as a standalone? I can easily see it being a hit.

EVERY MOVE by Ellie Marney

Rachel Watts is suffering from recurring nightmares about her near-death experience in London. She just wants to forget the whole ordeal, but her boyfriend, James Mycroft, is obsessed with piecing the puzzle together and anticipating the next move of the mysterious Mr Wild – his own personal Moriarty.

So when Rachel’s brother, Mike, suggests a trip back to their old home in Five Mile, Rachel can’t wait to get away. Unfortunately it’s not the quiet weekend she was hoping for with the unexpected company of Mike’s old school buddy, the wildly unreliable Harris Derwent.

Things get worse for Rachel when Harris returns to Melbourne with them – but could Harris be the only person who can help her move forward? Then a series of murders suggests that Mr Wild is still hot on their tails and that Mycroft has something Wild wants – something Wild is prepared to kill for.

Can Watts and Mycroft stay one step ahead of the smartest of all criminal masterminds? The stage is set for a showdown of legendary proportions…


Title : Every Move
Author : Ellie Marney
Series : Every (book three)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 340
Genre : YA mystery / retellings
Publisher : Allen & Unwin
Release Date : March 1, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

While I’m awarding this the same as the rest of the series, I’ll admit it’s not my favourite of the series. Maybe because it’s new content for me, maybe I need to stew on it a little longer, but.. I also think it’s kind of typical. The big finales, when they come with confrontations with the Big Bad, don’t always live up. And I think there’s a little bit of that here, too.

On the whole, though? Marney once again does not pull punches. There were some twisted bits that Watts and Mycroft had to endure. There were moments of utter heartbreak. Detailed spirals of trauma. And some romance angst. Just a little. But with a few exceptions — Mycroft’s breakdown scene, Watts’ nightmares — I did feel a little removed from it all.

Maybe I just didn’t feel the connection of the whole why behind everything. Maybe I read this too fast. Maybe I need to reread it to appreciate all the pieces of the puzzle. I just don’t know.

But the characters themselves, even the secondary ones — and a new one, or two — were so great. For me, they’ve carried this series all along and they’ve never disappointed.

So, yeah, I realize this is probably coming across as a bit of a downer review, especially for a four star, but I did really enjoy it. And now I see where the fourth book comes into play, and why, and I’m curious to see where that goes. Onwards!

EVERY WORD by Ellie Marney

Sparks fly when Watts follows Mycroft to London in this second steamy thriller about the teen crime-fighting duo.

James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents without saying good-bye to his partner in crime, Rachel Watts.

Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behavior—not that Mycroft’s ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. Unable to resist, Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.

The theft of a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator and the deaths of Mycroft’s parents…Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events—or will she lose him forever?


Title : Every Word
Author : Ellie Marney
Series : Every (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 340
Genre : YA mystery / contemporary / retellings
Publisher : Allen & Unwin
Release Date : June 1, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

As much as I had loved these characters in book one, book two is where Wattscroft took it upon themselves to m u r d e r me. Also, yes, I’m going to thief from my original review a bit, which I didn’t do for the first instalment, because it pretty much sums up my feels to this day.

Every Word is everything that Every Breath was but turned up to eleven. The stakes, the action, the mystery, the scorching heat, the violence, the heartbreak.. everything.

Swoony hearts in eyes expression aside, this book definitely went a bit dark and my stomach fell to my feet multiple times. Not just because of Rachel and Mycroft but because Marney does not pull any punches. The vividness of the autopsy scene, the startling savagery of torture, the isolation; it was just as awful and as real as when our two heroes are stumbling along to understand each other, navigating both their relationship and the horror of Mycroft’s past. And how Marney handled this was just.. fantastic. There were so many things I think I appreciated more this second time around with how she unravelled Mycroft and his processing — or lack thereof. That turning point, once we finally get it, was just (chefs kiss). And the strangeness of how Rachel feels, knowing he has something new, and scarier, to fixate is just.. yeah, really well done.

Knowing what extremes and dangers these two faced, and that not having been the ultimate confrontation, I can only imagine what’s to come next.

EVERY BREATH by Ellie Marney

Rachel Watts has just moved to Melbourne from the country, but the city is the last place she wants to be.

James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old who’s also a genius with a passion for forensics.

Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. He’s even harder to resist when he’s up close and personal – and on the hunt for a cold-blooded killer.

When Rachel and Mycroft follows the murderer’s trail, they find themselves in the lion’s den – literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again…


Title : Every Breath
Author : Ellie Marney
Series : Every (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 341
Genre : YA mystery / retellings
Publisher : Allen & Unwin
Release Date : September 5, 2013

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Here it is, the second-to-last series on my Series to Finish list for 2022. I’ve been knocking these out pretty quick this year.. and, as typical, saving the biggest challenge for last. Welp. That’s future!Hollis’ problem.

But anyway, was this as good as the first time? No, but that’s only in comparing a five star to a four star. Also, having reread my first review, I was coming off a bit of a disappointment from another Sherlock YA retelling series so I think I was just extra excited about this being a win. But it’s still so good.

Unlike other retellings, this one focuses on Watts (Rachel) and Mycroft (James). Conan Doyle’s legacy exists in this world and there are a few cheeky throwaway references to it but on the whole this is more an homage than a recreation. This pairing meet as a result of Rachel moving to town and discovering a boy her age a few houses down. Their friendship, at the onset, seems more in line with Rachel taking care of James as he’s more of less left on his own, only an oft-absent aunt in the way of guardianship, and he happens to find himself in the occasional scrape. One night, they stumble upon the body of a transient, who happened to be a friend of theirs, and it’s off to the races — they start to investigate.

The mystery is fine, good even, but what carries this is the dynamic. It’s a little fraught, it’s a little angsty — they each have their backstories — but it’s so good. Marney writes them so well and they are absolutely electric together. And indeed, maybe, sparks even fly? I’ll neither confirm nor deny (for now).

I’m excited to dive right into book two (which, if I recall correctly, gets much darker) and then after that it’s all new territory for me.