Thursday, September 23, 2021

Top Ten (or More) Books on My Fall 2021 TBR


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and That Artsy Reader Girl. Will this list be limited to ten books? Let's be real, probably not.

1. To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames (September 21, 2021)













2. Into the Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool (September 21, 2021)













3. She Who Rides the Storm by Caitlin Sangster (September 21, 2021)













4. The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider (September 21, 2021)













5. Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone (September 28, 2021)













6. For All Time by Shanna Miles (September 28, 2021)













7. Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco (October 5, 2021)













8. Payback's a Witch by Lana Harper (October 5, 2021)













9. Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson (October 5, 2021)













10. Little Thieves by Margaret Owen (October 19, 2021)













11. The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley (October 26, 2021)













12. Briar Girls by Rebecca Kim Wells (November 2, 2021)













13. The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl (November 2, 2021)













14. Margot Mertz Takes it Down by Carrie McCrossen and Ian McWethy (November 2, 2021)













15. The Midnight Girls by Alicia Jasinska (December 7, 2021)













16. Fools in Love edited by Rebecca Podos and Ashley Herring Blake (December 7, 2021)












Monday, September 20, 2021

Quarantine Releases (60)


I can't believe we've reached 60 of these posts! As they say, time flies when you're melting from anxiety during a global pandemic! We've got a bunch of great new books out this week, some of which have got some great hype leading up to release! This feels like too many sentences in a row with exclamation points, but I'm gonna roll with it.

Things We Say by Jay Coles

From one of the brightest and most acclaimed new lights in YA fiction, a fantastic new novel about a bi Black boy finding first love . . . and facing the return of the mother who abandoned his preacher family when he was nine.

There's always been a hole in Gio's life. Not because he's into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio's life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he's started to get his life together, she's back.

It's hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio's started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio's not sure . . . especially because he's not sure what he wants from anyone right now.

There are no easy answers to love -- whether it's family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn't Say, Jay Coles, acclaimed author of Tyler Johnson Was Here, shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity -- hoping at the other end he'll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.

Places to Purchase:

The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi

Returning to the dark and glamorous 19th century world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with the final riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever.

In love they breathed. In destiny they believed. In the end, will divinity be their demise?

After Séverin's seeming betrayal, the crew is fractured. Armed with only a handful of hints, Enrique, Laila, Hypnos and Zofia must find their way through the snarled, haunted waterways of Venice, Italy to locate Séverin. 

Meanwhile, Séverin must balance the deranged whims of the Patriarch of the Fallen House and discover the location of a temple beneath a plague island where the Divine Lyre can be played and all that he desires will come to pass. 

With only ten days until Laila expires, the crew will face plague pits and deadly masquerades, unearthly songs and the shining steps of a temple whose powers might offer divinity itself...but at a price they may not be willing to pay.

Places to Purchase:

As If On Cue by Marisa Kanter

A pair of fierce foes are forced to work together to save the arts at their school in this swoony YA enemies-to-lovers romance that fans of Jenny Han and Morgan Matson are sure to adore.

Lifelong rivals Natalie and Reid have never been on the same team. So when their school’s art budget faces cutbacks, of course Natalie finds herself up against her nemesis once more. She’s fighting to direct the school’s first ever student-written play, but for her small production to get funding, the school’s award-winning band will have to lose it. Reid’s band. And he’s got no intention of letting the show go on.

But when their rivalry turns into an all-out prank war that goes too far, Natalie and Reid have to face the music, resulting in the worst compromise: writing and directing a musical. Together. At least if they deliver a sold-out show, the school board will reconsider next year’s band and theater budget. Everyone could win.

Except Natalie and Reid.

Because after spending their entire lives in competition, they have absolutely no idea how to be co-anything. And they certainly don’t know how to deal with the feelings that are inexplicably, weirdly, definitely developing between them…

Places to Purchase:

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation. In this edge-of-your-seat mystery from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake, the truth is as hard to believe as it is to find.

Summer 1958. A gruesome killer plagues the Midwest, leaving behind a trail of bodies completely drained of blood. 

Michael Jensen, an aspiring journalist whose father happens to be the town sheriff, never imagined that the Bloodless Murders would come to his backyard. Not until the night the Carlson family was found murdered in their home. Marie Catherine Hale, a diminutive fifteen-year-old, was discovered at the scene—covered in blood. She is the sole suspect in custody.

Michael didn’t think that he would be part of the investigation, but he is pulled in when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to. As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?

Places to Purchase:

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames

Debut voice Alison Ames delivers with a chilling, feminist thriller, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls and Sawkill Girls.

Moon Basin has been haunted for as long as anyone can remember. It started when an explosion in the mine killed sixteen people. The disaster made it impossible to live in town, with underground fires spewing ash into the sky. But life in New Basin is just as fraught. The ex-mining town relies on its haunted reputation to bring in tourists, but there’s more truth to the rumors than most are willing to admit, and the mine still has a hold on everyone who lives there.

Clem and Nina form a perfect loop—best friends forever, and perhaps something more. Their circle opens up for a strange girl named Lisey with a knack for training crows, and Piper, whose father is fascinated with the mine in a way that’s anything but ordinary. The people of New Basin start experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices that only they can hear. And no matter how many vans of ghost hunters roll through, nobody can get to the bottom of what’s really going on. Which is why the girls decide to enter the mine themselves.

Places to Purchase:

Into the Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool

In the jaw-dropping conclusion to the Age of Darkness trilogy, hearts will shatter, cities will fall, and a god will rise. 

Following the destruction of the City of Mercy, an ancient god has been resurrected and sealed inside Beru's body. Both are at the mercy of the Prophet Pallas, who wields the god’s powers to subjugate the Six Prophetic Cities. But every day, the god grows stronger, threatening to break free and sow untold destruction.

Meanwhile, far away from Pallas Athos, Anton learns to harness his full powers as a Prophet. Armed with the truth about how the original Prophets killed the god, Anton leads Jude, Hassan, and Ephyra on a desperate quest to the edge of the world. With time running out, the group’s tenuous alliance is beset by mounting danger, tumultuous romance, and most of all by a secret that Anton is hiding: a way to destroy the god at the price of an unbearable sacrifice. But the cost of keeping that secret might be their lives—and the lives of everyone in the Six Prophetic Cities.

The Age of Darkness trilogy is perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Children of Blood and Bone, and An Ember in the Ashes.

Places to Purchase:

Spells Like Teen Spirit by Kate Williams

The final installement in the hilarious, action-packed Babysitters Coven series that Refinery29 calls candy for 90's girls and Gen Z'ers alike, featuring a coven of witchy babysitters sworn to protect the innocent and defend the world from an onslaught of evil--all before bedtime.

Ever since Esme met Cassandra Heaven and discovered the truth about their shared legacy--that they're Sitters, supernaturally-gifted teens tasked with protecting the innocent from evil--her life has been moving at 90 mph. During the day, she chases wild toddlers, and at night, she employs a different skill set for a different kind of demon. Like, literal ones. And sometimes, it's almost fun. Her spells are getting better, her telekinesis is on point, and now that Esme's dad and her best friend Janis know the truth, she's no longer lying to the people she loves. She's also learned that there's a way to undo her mother's curse, and with the Synod out of the picture, she might even have a chance to do it.

If she could just figure out how. But she can't, and even with her mom living at home again, Esme can't shake the feeling that she's failing. Throw in the fact that Pig is still gone, Esme's crush is also MIA, and that it's cold, slushy February, and she's in bummer city.

Esme needs a serious pick-me-up, and Janis has a plan: a Galentine's stay-cation, with the Sitter friends Esme and Cassandra made at the Summit for a serious girls weekend. Except, things are getting weird in Spring River again. Esme and Cassandra just discovered a new band, and not in a good way: these guys reek of Red Magic, and their music sucks too. Trouble is brewing, and if Esme's not careful, this show might be her last--and no one likes a one-hit wonder.

Places to Purchase:

When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez

An unforgettable, torrential, and hopeful debut young adult novel-in-verse that redefines what it means to make it," for readers of Nicholasa Mohr and Elizabeth Acevedo.

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied.

When We Make It is a love letter to anyone who was taught to believe that they would not make it. To those who feel their emotions before they can name them. To those who still may not have all the language but they have their story. Velasquez' debut novel is sure to leave an indelible mark on all who read it.

Places to Purchase:

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid's Tale in this blend of Chinese history and mecha science fiction for YA readers.

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn't matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. 

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it's to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister's death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ 

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Places to Purchase:

This Is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore

Everyone in Gardiners Bay has a secret.

When Jenna Dallas and Adam Cole find Colleen O'Dell's body floating off the shore of their coastal town, the community of Gardiners Bay is shaken. But even more shocking is the fact that her drowning was no accident.

Once Jenna's best friend becomes a key suspect, Jenna starts to look for answers on her own. As she uncovers scandals inside Preston Prep School leading back to Rookwood reform school, she knows she needs Adam on her side.

As a student at Rookwood, Adam is used to getting judgmental looks, but now his friends are being investigated by the police. Adam will do whatever he can to keep them safe, even if that means trusting Jenna.

As lies unravel, the truth starts to blur. Only one thing is certain: somebody must take the fall.

Places to Purchase:

Sidelined by Kara Bietz

An emotional YA romance about small town secrets, high school football, and broken hearts.

Julian Jackson has a short to-do list for his senior year at Crenshaw County High School in Meridian, Texas: football, football, and more football. He knows he's only got one chance to earn a college scholarship and make it out of his small town, and keeping his head down, his grades up, and his cleats on the field is that one chance. And then Elijah Vance walks back into his life, throwing all of his carefully-laid plans into a tailspin.
 
Elijah and Julian used to be best friends, maybe even on their way to something more than just friends. But three years ago, Elijah broke into the school to steal money from the coach's office, and Julian was the one who turned him in. After that, Elijah and his family disappeared without a trace. And now he's back, sitting at Julian's grandmother's kitchen table.
 
But time and distance haven't erased all of their feelings, and Elijah knows that he finally has a chance to prove to Julian that he's not the same person he was three years ago. But with secrets still growing between them and an uncertain future barreling towards them, it may be harder to lean on each other than they thought.

Places to Purchase:

Maybe We're Electric by Val Emmich

From Val Emmich, the bestselling author of Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel, comes a deeply affecting story of two teens who find themselves thrown together overnight during a snowstorm and discover a surprising connection—perfect for fans of Nina LaCour, David Arnold, and Robin Benway.

Tegan Everly is quiet. Known around school simply as the girl with the hand, she's usually only her most outspoken self with her friend Neel, and right now they're not exactly talking. When Tegan is ambushed by her mom with a truth she can't face, she flees home in a snowstorm, finding refuge at a forgotten local attraction—the tiny Thomas Edison museum.

She's not alone for long. In walks Mac Durant. Striking, magnetic, a gifted athlete, Mac Durant is the classmate adored by all. Tegan can't stand him. Even his name sounds fake. Except the Mac Durant she thinks she knows isn't the one before her now—this Mac is rattled and asking her for help.

Over one unforgettable night spent consuming antique records and corner-shop provisions, Tegan and Mac cast aside their public personas and family pressures long enough to forge an unexpectedly charged bond and—in the very spot in New Jersey that inspired Edison's boldest creations—totally reinvent themselves. But could Tegan's most shameful secret destroy what they've built?

Emotionally vivid and endlessly charming, Maybe We're Electric is an artfully woven meditation on how pain can connect us—we can carry it alone in darkness or share the burden and watch the world light up again.

Places to Purchase:

She Who Rides the Storm by Caitlin Sangster

In this atmospheric YA fantasy that is Wicked Saints meets There Will Come a Darkness, four teens are drawn into a high-stakes heist in the perilous tomb of an ancient shapeshifter king.

Long ago, shapeshifting monsters ruled the Commonwealth using blasphemous magic that fed on the souls of their subjects. Now, hundreds of years later, a new tomb has been uncovered, and despite the legends that disturbing a shapeshifter’s final resting place will wake them once again, the Warlord is determined to dig it up.

But it isn’t just the Warlord who means to brave the traps and pitfalls guarding the crypt.

A healer obsessed with tracking down the man who murdered her twin brother.

A runaway member of the Warlord’s Devoted order, haunted by his sister’s ghost.

A snotty archaeologist bent on finding the cure to his magical wasting disease.

A girl desperate to escape the cloistered life she didn’t choose.

All four are out to steal the same cursed sword rumored to be at the very bottom of the tomb. But of course, some treasures should never see the light of day, and some secrets are best left buried…

Places to Purchase:

The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider

Channeling the modern humor of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, bestselling author Robyn Schneider creates a Camelot that becomes the ultimate teen rom-com hotspot in this ultra-fresh take on the Arthurian legend. 

Welcome to the great kingdom of Camelot! Prince Arthur’s a depressed botanist who would rather marry a library than a princess, Lancelot’s been demoted to castle guard after a terrible lie, and Emry Merlin has arrived at the castle disguised as her twin brother since girls can’t practice magic.
 
Life at court is full of scandals, lies, and backstabbing courtiers, so what’s a casually bisexual teen wizard masquerading as a boy to do? Other than fall for the handsome prince, stir up trouble with the foppish Lord Gawain, and offend the prissy Princess Guinevere.
 
When the truth comes out with disastrous consequences, Emry has to decide whether she'll risk everything for the boy she loves, or give up her potential to become the greatest wizard Camelot has ever known.

Places to Purchase:

The Insiders by Mark Oshiro

Three kids who don’t belong. A room that shouldn’t exist. A year that will change everything.

Perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead and Meg Medina, this debut middle grade novel from award-winning author Mark Oshiro is a hopeful and heartfelt coming-of-age story for anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t fit in.

San Francisco and Orangevale may be in the same state, but for Héctor Muñoz, they might as well be a million miles apart. Back home, being gay didn’t mean feeling different. At Héctor’s new school, he couldn’t feel more alone.

Most days, Héctor just wishes he could disappear. And he does. Right into the janitor’s closet. (Yes, he sees the irony.) But one day, when the door closes behind him, Héctor discovers he’s stumbled into a room that shouldn’t be possible. A room that connects him with two new friends from different corners of the country—and opens the door to a life-changing year full of magic, friendship, and adventure.

Places to Purchase:

Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds by Samira Ahmed

From bestselling author Samira Ahmed comes a thrilling fantasy adventure intertwining Islamic legend and history, perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the Land of Stories.

On the day of a rare super blue blood moon eclipse, twelve-year-old Amira and her little brother, Hamza, can’t stop their bickering while attending a special exhibit on medieval Islamic astronomy. While stargazer Amira is wowed by the amazing gadgets, a bored Hamza wanders off, stumbling across the mesmerizing and forbidden Box of the Moon. Amira can only watch in horror as Hamza grabs the defunct box and it springs to life, setting off a series of events that could shatter their world—literally.

Suddenly, day turns to night, everyone around Amira and Hamza falls under a sleep spell, and a chunk of the moon breaks off, hurtling toward them at lightning speed, as they come face-to-face with two otherworldly creatures: jinn.

The jinn reveal that the siblings have a role to play in an ancient prophecy. Together, they must journey to the mystical land of Qaf, battle a great evil, and end a civil war to prevent the moon—the stopper between realms—from breaking apart and unleashing terrifying jinn, devs, and ghuls onto earth. Or they might have to say goodbye to their parents and life as they know it, forever.…

Places to Purchase:

City of Thieves by Alex London

In a modern mega-city built around dragons, one boy gets caught up in the world of underground dragon battles and a high-stakes gang war that could tear his family apart.

Once, dragons nearly drove themselves to extinction. But in the city of Drakopolis, humans domesticated them centuries ago. Now dragons haul the city’s cargo, taxi its bustling people between skyscrapers, and advertise its wares in bright, neon displays. Most famously of all, the dragons battle. Different breeds take to the skies in nighttime bouts between the infamous kins―criminal gangs who rule through violence and intimidation.

Abel has always loved dragons, but after a disastrous showing in his dragon rider’s exam, he's destined never to fly one himself. All that changes the night his sister appears at his window, entrusting him with a secret...and a stolen dragon.

Turns out, his big sister is a dragon thief! Too bad his older brother is a rising star in Drakopolis law enforcement...

To protect his friends and his family, Abel must partner with the stolen beast, riding in kin battles and keeping more secrets than a dragon has scales.

When everyone wants him fighting on their side, can Abel figure out what's worth fighting for?

Places to Purchase:

The Legacy by Elle Kennedy

The international bestselling Off-Campus series returns with a collection of four novellas by New York Times bestselling author Elle Kennedy This brand-new installment provides the much-anticipated answer to the question: where are they now?

Four stories. Four couples. Three years of real life after graduation...

A wedding.

A proposal.

An elopement.

And a surprise pregnancy.

Can you guess which couple is which?

Come for the drama, stay for the laughs Catch up with your favorite Off-Campus characters as they navigate the changes that come with growing up and discover that big decisions can have big consequences...and big rewards.

Places to Purchase:

I'm a little overwhelmed by how many amazing books are coming out! I've got All These Bodies, To Break a Covenant, Into the Dying Light, The Other Merlin, and The Legacy all on preorder, and I have a feeling I will be picking up Iron Widow soon. What books are you looking forward to this week?

Friday, September 17, 2021

Romance Round-Up (6)


I've read a number of great romance novels recently, and I need to tell you all about them!

Title: A Duke Worth Fighting For
Author: Christina Britton
Publisher: Forever
Release: August 24, 2021
Series: Isle of Synne
Pages: 340
Review: 4.5 Stars

I was approved for an ARC of A Duke Worth Fighting For on Netgalley. I was really excited for the book, so I dove right in (or as soon as school allowed me anyway). The beginning was on the slow side, but once Margery and Daniel's romance took off, so did the pace of the book.

Daniel is socially awkward, and his anxiety is heightened by his experiences in way and worry about his scars. For most people, the first thing they see about him is his scars, and many are scared away. Margery doesn't see just his scars, but his beauty. As they get to know and trust each other, they realize that people aren't always what you expect. There romance was well done, and I always find it fun to read books with widows, as they were allowed more leeway in the romance department than debutants.

It was fun seeing some of the previous main characters getting their happily ever afters as Margery and Daniel worked towards theirs. Lots of cute babies, which is always a plus. I definitely enjoyed this book, and will read the next one when it comes out!

Synopsis:

Daniel Hayle, Duke of Carlisle, returned from Waterloo a hero, and he has the wounds to prove it. But he dreads the coming London season as he never did the battlefield, where his lack of social skills is certain to make it difficult to find a wife. What he needs is someone to help him practice socializing with the ton. Someone who isn’t frightened away by his scars . . .

Margery Kitteridge is still mourning the loss of her husband. So when she receives a blackmail letter accusing him of desertion, she’s desperate to protect his reputation. The answer to her troubles appears in the form of a damaged, reclusive—and much-too-desirable—duke in need of a wife. She proposes an alliance: she’ll help him find a bride, in return for the money to pay off the blackmailer. But working so closely together awakens passions they never imagined possible, and reveals secrets that might tear them apart.

You Can Find it At:
Amazon

Title:
The Good Girl's Guide to Rakes
Author: Eva Leigh
Publisher: Avon
Release: February 22, 2022
Series: Last Chance Scoundrels
Pages: 384
Review: 5 Stars

I almost did a happy dance when I got an ARC of The Good Girl's Guide to Rakes! Eva Leigh is a favorite of mine, and I will read every book she writes. I've been particularly anticipating this one, as the description looks extra exciting.

The book starts off with a wedding, that goes disastrously awry. As a result, Kieran, his brother, and their best friend (who happens to be Celeste's brother) are all required to get married within a year. Kieran makes a deal with Celeste that she will introduce him to polite society, and he will show her some of London's scandalous side. Both have some feelings for each other at the start of the book, but spending time together ignites those feelings into an inferno.

I honestly don't know what else to say. I don't want to spoil the book but most everything else I have in my head is just squeals. Long story short, I really enjoyed this book and recommend reading it when it comes out. I know I can't wait for the sequel!

Synopsis:

In USA TODAY bestselling author Eva Leigh's new novel a notorious rake and an innocent debutante strike a scandalous bargain...

When Kieran Ransome’s latest antics result in a massive scandal, his father issues an ultimatum: find a respectable wife or inherit nothing. But as one of London’s most inveterate scoundrels, Kieran doesn’t know any ladies who fit the bill. Or does he?

Celeste Kilburn is a society darling, beloved by influential members of the ton. But keeping a spotless reputation leaves little room for adventure and she longs to escape her gilded cage, especially with her impending engagement to a stuffy earl. When Kieran—her older brother’s best friend and an irresistibly attractive rogue—begs for her help, Celeste makes a deal: she’ll introduce him to the right social circles if he’ll show her the scandalous side of London.

In between proper teas and garden parties, Kieran escorts Celeste—disguised as “Salome”—to rowdy gaming hells, wild fêtes, and sensual art salons. As they spend more time together, their initial attraction builds to a desperate desire that neither can ignore. But when someone discovers their midnight exploits, Celeste’s freedom and reputation are endangered, and Kieran must save the woman he loves… respectable or not.

You Can Find it At:

Title: The Captive Duke
Author: Grace Burrowes
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release: January 25, 2022
Series: Captive Hearts
Pages: 312
Review: 5 Stars

I got approved for an ARC of The Captive Duke on Edelweiss, and I was so excited I dove right in! Both main characters were compelling, and came from difficult backgrounds. I had suspicions about the twist from early on, but I still find it was developed well and pulled off nicely.

Gilly is a widow, recovering from the abuse of her deceased husband. Christian was captured and tortured during the Napoleonic war. He struggles dealing with his time in captivity, having complicated feelings about his captors who treated him with alternate brutality and respect. He is also physically recovering from a long time mostly immobile, slowly regaining his strength and health, often with support from Gilly. To top off their struggles, Christian comes home to England only to find his wife (who happens to be Gilly's cousin) and son have died. As he grieves, Gilly helps him regain purpose by helping him rebuild his relationship with his still-living daughter.

The book would have been solid with just everything mentioned above. But it adds a final, overarching plot that connects Gilly and Christian's pasts with a threat to their future. In true romance novel fashion, they must must figure out how to overcome their struggles and find their happily ever after.

Synopsis:

A dazzling Regency romance from New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes. Christian Severn, Duke of Mercia, nearly lost his will to live after coming home from brutal fighting in France. That is, until Gillian, Countess of Windmere, shows him that he still has plenty to look forward to.

Captured and tortured by the French, Christian Severn knew he'd left a part of himself behind, even after he returned home to England. But even his estate is no comfort to him, when he has to take back the reins of his life while mourning the death of his wife and son. It's not until his late wife's relation, Gillian, Countess of Windmere, pointedly reminds him that he still has a daughter, that he realizes he still has much to live for, and that he can forever be the duke both Gilly and his daughter need...

As Gillian pushes, prods, and drags Christian back from the brink and works tirelessly to discover what happened to Christian's young daughter, that led to her refusal to speak to anyone, she and Christian spend more and more time together trying to heal the little girl and build a safe and happy life for her. Gillian proves at every turn that she's a true lady, but can their new love survive, when she finally unearths Margaret's terrible secret?

You Can Find it At:

Title: Electric Idol
Author: Katee Robert
Publisher: Sourceobooks Casablanca
Release: January 18, 2022
Series: Dark Olympus
Pages: 240
Review: 4 Stars

Just a heads up before I dive in to the review, Electric Idol is a bit spicier than most of the romances I recommend. If that's not for you, you can keep on reading to the next review!

I'll admit, I didn't love this as much as I did Neon Gods. Persephone and Hades were just *chef's kiss*. While I enjoyed Psyche and Eros' romance, it felt somewhat run of the mill. Don't get me wrong, the book is well-written and enjoyable.

My favorite part of the book is probably the larger world. Olympus is filled with an amazing cast of characters! There's Psyche's two other sisters who have yet to find love, Eurydice and Callisto. I hope we get books for both of them, especially given the events of Electric Idol. Helen is an absolute riot so I'm really excited to have her book next (it's Helen/Achilles/Patroclus). Seriously, give it to me now! Psyche's mother Demeter is also a fascinating figure. She keeps putting her daughters in horrible situations, but she really does seem to love them.

I can't talk about it much without spoiling the book, but it had a solid plot outside the romance. The quick and dirty version is that Aphrodite (Eros' mother) wants Psyche dead, but Eros doesn't really want to kill her. A lot of romance novels put plot on the back burner, but not this series. While there are plenty of plot breaks for sexy times, it's not all sex all the times. In fact, it takes a little while for the sexy times to truly get started. I'm sure that will annoy some readers, but I really felt it gave time for the characters to get to the point that the sexy times were believable.

In some ways this falls into a bit of a second book dip, but don't be worried. I still enjoyed Electric Idol and totally plan to keep reading the series! Seriously, give me book three now!

Synopsis:

He was the most beautiful man alive.
And if I wasn't careful, he was going to be my death.

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Psyche and Eros that's as sinful as it is sweet.*

In the ultra-modern city of Olympus, there's always a price to pay. Psyche knew she'd have to face Aphrodite's ire eventually, but she never expected her literal heart to be at stake...or for Aphrodite's gorgeous son to be the one ordered to strike the killing blow.

Eros has no problem shedding blood. But when it comes time to take out his latest target, he can't do it. Confused by his reaction to Psyche, he does the only thing he can think of to keep her safe: he marries her. Psyche vows to make Eros's life a living hell until they find a way out of this mess. But as lines blur and loyalties shift, she realizes he might take her heart after all...and she's not sure she can survive the loss.

You Can Find it At:

Title: West End Earl
Author: Bethany Bennett
Publisher: Forever
Release: June 29, 2021
Series: Misfits of Mayfair
Pages: 377
Review: 5 Stars

West End Earl was an absolute delight! This review is short and sweet. Often, when I really love a book, I don't have anything to say beyond general squealing, which is the case here.

Even before Calvin realizes Ophelia is a woman he notices her in a way that leads to romance. I appreciated the development of their relationship, and I appreciated that Calvin didn't immediately make assumptions about Ophelia being in disguise. He considered the possibility that she might identify as a man or be attracted to women and find life easier in male garb, and went in prepared to support her no matter what. While neither of the characters are written specifically as queer, I could see Calvin identifying as bisexual if he had the terminology/safety. West End Earl delivers a great romance with a great grovel at the end! I definitely recommend it, and will be checking out the series as it continues!

Synopsis:

From the series guaranteed to "win the hearts of Regency fans” comes a story of secret identities, unlikely love, and forbidden romances that will warm even the coldest of hearts (Publishers Weekly).

While most young ladies attend balls and hunt for husbands, Ophelia Hardwick has spent the last ten years masquerading as a man. As the land steward for the Earl of Carlyle, she’s found safety from the uncle determined to kill her and freedoms a lady could only dream of. Ophelia’s situation would be perfect—if only she wasn’t hopelessly attracted to her employer.

Calvin, Earl of Carlyle, is determined to see his sister married this season. And he’ll do it with the help of his trusted right-hand man. But when he finds out his man is a woman, and that her life is in danger, his priorities change. Their attraction is passionate, all-consuming, and if they aren’t careful, it could turn downright deadly—for both of them.

You Can Find it At:

Title: The Wrong Marquess
Author: Vivienne Lorret
Publisher: Avon
Release: June 29, 2021
Series: The Mating Habits of Scoundrels
Pages: 384
Review: 5 Stars

I really enjoyed reading Ellie and Brandon's story! Ellie worries about basically everything. She has a fear of death and dying that means any situation that could possibly kill her freaks her out. For much of her life she has seen her neighbor George as her rock and plans to marry him, but upon meeting Brandon she slowly comes to realize that George isn't as reliable as she thought him to be.

While Brandon is initially annoyed with Ellie and thinks that she is targeting him to be a titled husband, he quickly falls for her. Brandon is sure in his feelings long before Ellie is, and uses that time to woo her, to which Ellie is quite susceptible.

Along with Ellie and Brandon, her aunts and his sister play large roles. The aunts Maeve and Myrtle are hilarious, and my favorite subplot is how they steal recipes from every home and party they visit. Brandon's sister Meg is a delight. She immediately takes to Ellie and I love their friendship. I love how the secondary relationships are still well developed.

My one complaint is a problem that honestly plagues romance novels. Like most historical romances, there's the 'dark moment' in act three that the characters must overcome. But the book goes immediately from the dark moment resolution to the epilogue. I would have liked a chapter or two of the characters being together and doing things like telling their loved ones everything was resolved. Instead, it felt like I got a pat on the back and an assurance that everything was fine, without actually *seeing* that it was fine. Brandon isn't even in the epilogue.

Last but not least, the book ends in a way that sets up the next book, which is about Prue. I'm really intrigued and can't wait to read it, even though I have to wait until *next year*!

Synopsis:

USA Today bestselling author Vivienne Lorret continues the Mating Habits of Scoundrels series with a debutante who believes she is destined to marry the lord next door until a fateful encounter with a rogue makes her wonder... if she might be falling for the wrong marquess!

The wrong place...

Elodie Parrish can feel spinsterhood breathing down her neck. That’s the trouble with waiting for the marquess next door her entire life. But Ellie knows if she gives him one last Season, he’ll finally propose. The only problem is, her path keeps crossing with the arrogant Lord Hullworth, who is convinced she has designs on him.

The wrong time... 

Brandon, Marquess of Hullworth, never wanted to be “London’s Most Elusive Bachelor,” or have a horde of hopeful debutantes and their scheming mamas follow him around. His past has left him too jaded to consider marrying any of them. At least, that’s what he thinks... until he meets Ellie. She’s quirky, opinionated, blushes easily, and drives him absolutely wild. The only problem is, she believes she’s in love with someone else.

Ellie never imagined that one sultry summer could change everything. But the more time she spends with Brandon researching her book on the mating habits of scoundrels, the more she wonders if she might be falling for…

The Wrong Marquess

You Can Find it At:

This post is split between recent and upcoming releases. Have you had a chance to read any of the new books yet? Let me know in the comments. And I definitely recommend reading these upcoming ones when they release in a few months!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Quarantine Releases (59)


Welcome to a new Monday. Everyone have a good weekend? I wasn't feeling well, and spent the weekend waiting on results for a covid test, but luckily it came back negative. Stupid allergies causing confusing symptoms. I had hoped to binge read an older book series I finally dived into (Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco), but said allergies kicked my butt. Crossing my fingers I'll be able to squeeze some time in between classes this week. What about you all? Do anything fun over the weekend? Any great plans for this week? Let me know in the comments!

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

From New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer comes a blockbuster fantasy series perfect for fans of Holly Black and Victoria Aveyard, about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down.

Apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her people die. King Harristan and his cruel brother, Prince Corrick, ignore the suffering of their people and react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion, even as a sickness ravages the land. That's why she and her best friend Wes risk their lives each night to steal the petals of the delicate Moonflower, the only known cure. But it's not enough to keep everyone she loves safe-or alive.

When Prince Corrick commits an act of unspeakable cruelty, Tessa becomes desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds there makes her wonder if it's even possible to fix their world without destroying it first.

Brigid Kemmerer's captivating new series is about those with power and those without . . . and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future.

Places to Purchase:

The Corpse Queen by Heather Herrman

In this dark and twisty feminist historical thriller, a teenage girl starts a new life as a grave robber but quickly becomes entangled in a murderer's plans.

Soon after her best friend Kitty mysteriously dies, orphaned seventeen-year-old Molly Green is sent away to live with her "aunt." With no relations that she knows of, Molly assumes she has been sold as free domestic labor for the price of an extra donation in the church orphanage's coffers. Such a thing is not unheard of. There are only so many options for an unmarried girl in 1850s Philadelphia. Only, when Molly arrives, she discovers her aunt is very much real, exceedingly wealthy, and with secrets of her own. Secrets and wealth she intends to share--for a price.

Molly's estranged aunt Ava, has built her empire by robbing graves and selling the corpses to medical students who need bodies to practice surgical procedures. And she wants Molly to help her procure the corpses. As Molly learns her aunt's trade in the dead of night and explores the mansion by day, she is both horrified and deeply intrigued by the anatomy lessons held at the old church on her aunt's property. Enigmatic Doctor LaSalle's lessons are a heady mixture of knowledge and power and Molly has never wanted anything more than to join his male-only group of students. But the cost of inclusion is steep and with a murderer loose in the city, the pursuit of power and opportunity becomes a deadly dance.

Places to Purchase:

The Hollow Heart by Marie Rutkoski

Intrigue, romance, and magic abound in the heart-stopping conclusion to Marie Rutkoski’s Forgotten Gods duology.

At the end of The Midnight Lie, Nirrim offered up her heart to the God of Thieves in order to restore her people’s memories of their city’s history. The Half Kith who once lived imprisoned behind the city’s wall now realize that many among them are powerful. Meanwhile, the person Nirrim once loved most, Sid, has returned to her home country of Herran, where she must navigate the politics of being a rogue princess who has finally agreed to do her duty.

In the Herrani court, rumors begin to grow of a new threat rising across the sea, of magic unleashed on the world, and of a cruel, black-haired queen who can push false memories into your mind, so that you believe your dearest friends to be your enemies.

Sid doesn’t know that this queen is Nirrim, who seeks her revenge against a world that has wronged her. Can Sid save Nirrim from herself? Does Nirrim even want to be saved? As blood is shed and war begins, Sid and Nirrim find that it might not matter what they want…for the gods have their own plans.

Places to Purchase:

Idol Gossip by Alexandra Leigh Young

Delicious gossip squares off with genuine heart in this inside look at a K-pop academy.

Every Friday after school, seventeen-year-old Alice Choy and her little sister, Olivia, head to Myeongdong to sing karaoke. Back in San Francisco, when she still had friends and earthly possessions, Alice took regular singing lessons. But since their diplomat mom moved them to Seoul, her only musical outlet is vamping it up in a private karaoke booth to an audience of one: her loyal sister. Then a scout for Top10 Entertainment, one of the biggest K-pop companies, hears her and offers her a spot at their Star Academy. Can Alice navigate the culture clashes, egos, and extreme training practices of K-pop to lead her group onstage before a stadium of 50,000 chanting fans—and just maybe strike K-pop gold? Not if a certain influential blogger and the anti-fans get their way . . .

This debut novel is about standing out and fitting in, dreaming big and staying true. It will speak to fans of K-pop and to anyone who is trying to take their talents to the next level.

Places to Purchase:

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out in this chilling YA psychological thriller and modern take on the classic haunted house story from New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson!

Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper.

The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.

But “running from ghosts” is just a metaphor, right?

As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.

Places to Purchase:

A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell

When her siblings start to go missing, a girl must confront the dark thing that lives in the forest—and the growing darkness in herself—in this debut YA contemporary fantasy for fans of Wilder Girls.

Derry and her eight siblings live in an isolated house by the lake, separated from the rest of the world by an eerie and menacing forest. Frank, the man who raised them after their families abandoned them, says it’s for their own good. After all, the world isn’t safe for people with magic. And Derry feels safe—most of the time.

Until the night her eldest sister disappears. Jane and Derry swore to each other that they’d never go into the forest, not after their last trip ended in blood, but Derry is sure she saw Jane walk into the trees. When another sibling goes missing and Frank’s true colors start to show, feeling safe is no longer an option. Derry will risk anything to protect the family she has left. Even if that means returning to the forest that has started calling to Derry in her missing siblings’ voices.

As Derry spends more time amidst the trees, her magic grows more powerful . . . and so does the darkness inside her, the viciousness she wants to pretend doesn’t exist. But saving her siblings from the forest and from Frank might mean embracing the darkness. And that just might be the most dangerous thing of all.

Places to Purchase:

Kneel by Candace Buford

This fearless debut novel explores racism, injustice, and self-expression through the story of a promising Black football star in Louisiana.

The system is rigged.

For guys like Russell Boudreaux, football is the only way out of their small town. As the team’s varsity tight end, Rus has a singular goal: to get a scholarship and play on the national stage. But when his best friend is unfairly arrested and kicked off the team, Rus faces an impossible choice: speak up or live in fear.

“Please rise for the national anthem.”

Desperate for change, Rus kneels during the national anthem. In one instant, he falls from local stardom and becomes a target for hatred. But he’s not alone. With the help of his best friend and an unlikely ally, Rus will fight for his dreams, and for justice.

Places to Purchase:

Stalking Shadows by Cyla Panin

A gothic YA fantasy debut about a young woman striving to break her sister's curse and stop the killing in her small French town

Seventeen-year-old Marie mixes perfumes to sell on market day in her small eighteenth-century French town. She wants to make enough to save a dowry for her sister, Ama, in hopes of Ama marrying well and Marie living in the level of freedom afforded only to spinster aunts. But her perfumes are more than sweet scents in cheap, cut-glass bottles: A certain few are laced with death. Marie laces the perfume delicately--not with poison but with a hint of honeysuckle she's trained her sister to respond to. Marie marks her victim, and Ama attacks. But she doesn't attack as a girl. She kills as a beast.

Marking Ama's victims controls the damage to keep suspicion at bay. But when a young boy turns up dead one morning, Marie is forced to acknowledge she might be losing control of Ama. And if she can't control her, she'll have to cure her. Marie knows the only place she'll find the cure is in the mansion where Ama was cursed in the first place, home of Lord Sebastien LaClaire. But once she gets into the mansion, she discovers dark secrets hidden away--secrets of the curse, of Lord Sebastien . . . and of herself.

Places to Purchase:

The Lost Girls by Sonia Hartl

Getting over Your Vampire Ex is as Easy as Killing Him and Stealing His Girlfriend

Holly Liddell has been stuck with crimped hair since 1987 when she agreed to let her boyfriend, Elton, turn her into a vampire. But when he ditches her at a gas station a few decades into their eternity together, she realizes that being young forever actually means working graveyard shifts at Taco Bell, sleeping in seedy motels, and being supernaturally compelled to follow your ex from town to town—at least until Holly meets Elton’s other exes.

It seems that Holly isn’t the only girl Elton seduced into this wretched existence. He turned Ida in 1921, then Rose in 1954, and he abandoned them both before Holly was even born. Now Rose and Ida want to kill him before he can trick another girl into eternal adolescence, and they’ll need Holly’s help to do it. And once Holly starts falling for Elton’s vulnerable new conquest, Parker, she’ll do anything to save her.

To kill Elton for good, Holly and her friends will have to dig up their pasts, rob a bank, and reconcile with the people they’ve hurt in their search for eternal love. And to win the girl, Holly will have to convince Parker that she’s more than just Elton’s crazy ex—even though she is trying to kill him.

Places to Purchase:

Before We Were Blue by E.J. Schwartz

Get healthy on their own—or stay sick together?

At Recovery and Relief, a treatment center for girls with eating disorders, the first thing Shoshana Winnick does is attach herself to vibrant but troubled Rowan Parish. Shoshana—a cheerleader on a hit reality TV show—was admitted for starving herself to ensure her growth spurt didn’t ruin her infamous tumbling skills. Rowan, on the other hand, has known anorexia her entire life, thanks to her mother’s “chew and spit” guidance. Through the drudgery and drama of treatment life, Shoshana and Rowan develop a fierce intimacy—and for Rowan, a budding infatuation, that neither girl expects.

As “Gray Girls,” patients in the center’s Gray plan, Shoshana and Rowan are constantly under the nurses’ watchful eyes. They dream of being Blue, when they will enjoy more freedom and the knowledge that their days at the center are numbered. But going home means separating and returning to all the challenges they left behind. The closer Shoshana and Rowan become, the more they cling to each other—and their destructive patterns. Ultimately, the girls will have to choose: their recovery or their relationship.

Places to Purchase:

Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach

Emergency Contact meets Moxie in this cheeky and searing novel that unpacks just how complicated new love can get…when you fall for your enemy.

Eliza Quan is the perfect candidate for editor in chief of her school paper. That is, until ex-jock Len DiMartile decides on a whim to run against her. Suddenly her vast qualifications mean squat because inexperienced Len—who is tall, handsome, and male—just seems more like a leader.

When Eliza’s frustration spills out in a viral essay, she finds herself inspiring a feminist movement she never meant to start, caught between those who believe she’s a gender equality champion and others who think she’s simply crying misogyny.

Amid this growing tension, the school asks Eliza and Len to work side by side to demonstrate civility. But as they get to know one another, Eliza feels increasingly trapped by a horrifying realization—she just might be falling for the face of the patriarchy himself.

Places to Purchase:

It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi

Two exes must revisit their past after their siblings start dating in this rom-com perfect for fans of Sandhya Menon and Morgan Matson.

After Kiran Noorani's mom died, Kiran vowed to keep her dad and sister, Amira, close--to keep her family together. But when Amira announces that she's dating someone, Kiran's world is turned upside down.

Deen Malik is thrilled that his brother, Faisal, has found a great girlfriend. Maybe a new love will give Faisal a new lease on life, and Deen can stop feeling guilty for the reason that Faisal needs a do-over in the first place.

When the families meet, Deen and Kiran find themselves face to face. Again. Three years ago--before Amira and Faisal met--Kiran and Deen dated in secret. Until Deen ghosted Kiran.

And now, after discovering hints of Faisal's shady past, Kiran will stop at nothing to find answers. Deen just wants his brother to be happy--and he'll do whatever it takes to keep Kiran from reaching the truth. Though the chemistry between Kiran and Deen is undeniable, can either of them take down their walls?

Places to Purchase:

Walking in Two Worlds by Wab Kinew

An Indigenous teen girl is caught between two worlds, both real and virtual, in the YA fantasy debut from bestselling Indigenous author Wab Kinew. Perfect for fans of Ready Player One and the Otherworld series.

Bugz is caught between two worlds. In the real world, she's a shy and self-conscious Indigenous teen who faces the stresses of teenage angst and life on the Rez. But in the virtual world, her alter ego is not just confident but dominant in a massively multiplayer video game universe. 

Feng is a teen boy who has been sent from China to live with his aunt, a doctor on the Rez, after his online activity suggests he may be developing extremist sympathies. Meeting each other in real life, as well as in the virtual world, Bugz and Feng immediately relate to each other as outsiders and as avid gamers. And as their connection is strengthened through their virtual adventures, they find that they have much in common in the real world, too: both must decide what to do in the face of temptations and pitfalls, and both must grapple with the impacts of family challenges and community trauma. 

But betrayal threatens everything Bugz has built in the virtual world, as well as her relationships in the real world, and it will take all her newfound strength to restore her friendship with Feng and reconcile the parallel aspects of her life: the traditional and the mainstream, the east and the west, the real and the virtual.

Places to Purchase:

Witch Rising by Paige McKenzie and Nancy Ohlin

Sorrow Point High's witchiest have returned in this conclusion to the thrilling B*Witch duology—and this time, the danger is even closer to home. 

Two rival covens, led by frenemies Greta and Div, are investigating a radical anti-magic faction—the New Order—for the murder of a sister witch. In fact, Div and her coven mate Mira are pretend-dating a couple of New Order members to infiltrate it and bring it down for good. But when the president of the United States aligns himself with the dangerous group and local police ramp up their search for suspected witches, the covens must be more careful than ever. 

Even outside of politics, complications abound as Iris and the new witch, Torrence, fight for Greta's affections...and Ridley can't get over her crush on a dead girl...and Binx's own crush turns out to be harboring deadly secrets. 

If the covens wish to solve their friend's murder and protect their kind, they'll have to rise above their problems, big and small. But as they grow closer to the truth, one thing becomes certain—trust no witch. 

Places to Purchase:

Oaths of Legacy by Emily Skrutskie

Torn between loyalty and love, a young prince will learn how much he's willing to sacrifice as he tries to destroy the rebellion that threatens his throne in this exhilarating sequel to Bonds of Brass.

Gal’s destiny has always been clear: complete his training at the military academy, prove his worth as a royal successor, and ascend to the galactic throne. When a failed assassination plot against Gal sends him and Ettian—his infuriatingly enticing roommate—on a mad dash through the stars, Gal’s plans are momentarily disrupted. But he was born to rule the Umber Empire, and with Ettian by his side, nothing will stop him from returning home and crushing the growing insurgency threatening his family’s power.

But nothing is ever that simple in war—or in love. Gal is captured by the rebellion during a skirmish and faces public execution, his grand fate cut short. To save Gal’s life, Ettian does the unthinkable: he reveals himself as the secret heir to the fallen Archon Empire and rightful leader of the rebellion . . . and, therefore, Gal’s sworn enemy. Now a political hostage in this newly-reignited conflict, Gal must use his limited resources to sabotage the rebellion from within, concoct an escape plan, and return to the empire he’s destined to lead. And if that means taking down the man he thought he loved?

All the better.

Places to Purchase:

Lots of good books this week! I know I've got a lot of preorders, and I can't wait to get them all!
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