New Release: Go For Broke

Go For Broke by Daisy Knox

Cady Blackwell is a victim of her own bad judgment: dating the biggest losers, attracting a stalker, and unknowingly accepting a job that’s gotta be illegal. She can’t quit until she finds a way to protect herself from being framed for her bosses’ crimes, plus she wants to stay alive and out of prison. But nothing’s easy when she’s distracted by a charming financier and a f-boy detective. She’s in way over her head, and she’s fighting for her life. Her only chance for survival is to put her faith in the instincts she stopped trusting long ago. It’s time to go for broke, which will either save her or cost her everything.

Connect with Daisy
Website | https://daisyknox.com/
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Facebook | http://www.facebook.com/DaisyKnoxauthor
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Book Review: I Love You S’more (2021)

I Love You S’more by Wendy Dalrymple

She wanted to remember this moment forever, no matter what happened after the weekend. The sound of the night. The scent of the pine logs burning in the fire. His gorgeous, fun, friendly smile, still perfect and imperfect all at once after all these years. Even the way that their sons had become fast friends in the same way that she and Julian had. She didn’t want it to end.

What a sweet, wholesome, perfect-for-the-summer romance! I Love You S’More is my first read by Wendy Dalrymple and I’m definitely going to be devouring the rest of her books! This is filled with summer camp fun, second chance romance and more descriptions of s’mores than my hungry self could handle. I’m now so hungry it’s ridiculous. Must find s’mores!

Book Review: Along for the Ride (2021)

Along for the Ride by Rachel Bowdler

“Are you sure you want tae do this, Stripes? I’m not bringing you back if you get cold feet halfway to Dover.”

Oh my gosh, this is the perfect summer romance read. Fancy a day at the beach? Bring this book. Going on a hike? Bring this book. Going to the café? Yup, this book is perfect with your iced coffee! If you want escapism, sunshine, romance and sweet joy, this the book to read!

I really loved Rachel Bowdler’s Paint Me Yours, and I’m so happy that Along for the Ride is just as much fun. The story begins when Emmy, a young photographer seeking candid subjects on the streets, runs into Lachlan, a motorcyclist on the run from a grumpy landlord. On a whim, the pair become unintended buddies on a multi-country tour across Europe. As the days pass, their friendship grows, each realising that they are happy to be themselves around the other.

“My mum used to call me Plain Jane because I never really had an interesting face. I take pictures of all these different people, but I never feel like one of them.”

I really liked getting both perspectives and seeing how the romance was developing for both sides. Emmy and Lachlan are such lovely, relatable characters. Bowdler’s descriptions make the characters easy to like and you fall into their lives without effort. I was rooting hard for these two crazy kids from the get go.

He had no answer, no way to evade or deny or explain. Because it was true. He didn’t have a home; hadn’t for a while now. He just kept running, hiding, always looking for something better, something that didn’t exist. A better job. A better city.

Emmy was wonderful, but I do wish Lachlan had said something about his destination choice earlier in the story. He was so clearly smitten with her haha. Still, I thought the resolution was wonderful and original, and I really liked how Bowdler wrapped everything up.

Overall this is a fun, wholesome, sweet book that is definitely worth a read. And now on to my next book by Bowdler (here’s looking at you Partners in Crime)! [I swear, I’m gonna end up reading her entire library before the year is through at this rate. 😉]

Book Review: Hoglets’ Christmas Magic (2021)

Hoglets’ Christmas Magic by Lynette Creswell

Prickles and Primrose left the safety of their home in search of a new star.

This is a great little Christmas book for kids! The illustrations in this lovely little book are just so precious. The Hedgehog family are truly the cutest! I also liked that there was a good amount of storytelling and prose in the book despite being only 32 pages. It reminded me of older stories for kids, like The Wind in the Willows and Frog and Toad.

The author spins a detailed, wholesome little story of the Hedgehog family trying to save Christmas. When the Hedgehog siblings encounter Santa, who has misplaced a toy, they instantly offer their help. Adventure and hijinks follow!

Thank you to the author for a review copy.

Poetry Review: Black Movie (2015)

Black Movie by Danez Smith

‘why does it always have to be about race?’ Because you made it that way! Because you put an asterisk on my sister’s gorgeous face! Because you call her pretty (for a black girl)! Because black girls go missing without so much as a whisper of where?! Because there is no Amber Alert for the Amber Skinned Girls! Because we didn’t invent the bullet! Because crack was not our recipe! Because Jordan boomed. Because Emmitt whistled. Because Huey P. spoke. Because Martin preached. Because black boys can always be too loud to live. Because it’s taken my father’s time, my mother’s time, my uncle’s time, my brother’s & my sister’s time, my niece’s & my nephew’s time… how much time do you want for your progress?

If I could quote this whole collection of poetry and prose, I would. Each one tugged at my heart and filled me with emotion. I read it pretty much start to finish, only pausing once. The words in here are achingly raw, poignant and beautiful. The prose is exquisite and painful and brutal. A must read for sure.

I thoroughly recommend everyone give this their time.

Book Review: Gathering of the Four (2021)

Gathering of the Four (The Serrulata Saga #1) by A.E. Bennett

Gathering of the Four is the first book in A.E. Bennett’s Serrulata Sage and is set in the Realm, a futuristic place where Xanthcraft, a sort of magic, exists. Those who wield Xanthcraft have different skills and abilities that are natural to them. This is a big book, coming in at over 400 pages, and I really wish I’d read it in paperback! I handle big, fantastical books better in paperback, so this is definitely going on my will-be-reread list for sure! ebooks are great, but for big fantasy, it takes me a long time to sink in to the story and I have trouble doing that without a paperback. ANYWAYS, I digress …

“But outside of the Realm, if they follow the calendar of the Ancients, it’s 4385.”

I really appreciated this line, as it gives you a sense of how far into the future the Realm is and how much things have changed. When Leora learns that her stepmother and her father plan to sell her into ‘servantry’, she runs away. She soon meets Roland Shallowbrook and the pair become fast friends.

“Before New Market, I thought—and I know this is so silly but—I thought I was the only one. I knew it wasn’t true, but I’d never seen anyone else with eyes like mine. And then I saw Xanthi in New Market, and now I’ve met you and, well…it’s been very nice.”

We get other characters and POVs as well. I really enjoyed the relationships Bennett develops between the characters and the world-building of the Realm. Each character comes from a very different place and you get to spend time with the characters before their paths and storylines start to collide. One of the romances took me by surprise in the best way, too. BUT I SHAN’T SPOIL! 😉

Each chapter also begins with an excerpt that adds to the worldbuilding and I seriously loved them. You start to get proverbs from the Realm towards the end of the book that were wicked cool.

The Capitol is not an easy building to navigate. Different wings were constructed at very different times throughout the Realm’s history, and it doesn’t take one long to figure out that each new wing was built without a care for what already existed. I do not recommend wandering around alone.

The setting reminded me of The Hunger Games and the Shannara Chronicles in the sense that it feels both new and old. This is only book one and I’m so curious to see where Bennett takes the storyline!

Book Review: The Stars Will Guide Us Back (2021)

girl holding book, text says 'book review'

The Stars Will Guide Us Back by Rue Sparks

This is a collection of thirteen short, fantastical stories. I opted for the audiobook and I must say, I thoroughly recommend it! I’m supremely picky with audiobooks, and I’m delighted to say that Rue Sparks’ The Stars Will Guide Us Back was just wonderful! Lovely narrations by the two readers and exquisite prose by Sparks. I’m definitely going to be checking out Sparks’ next books.

Buddy read this book with The Book Trove. We’re hoping to shine some attention on independent books and authors. These books are picked totally at random and selected by vote amongst the group.

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Short Story Reviews: Battered Heart (2021) & On the Edge of Salt (2020)

Battered Heart by Maxime Jaz

Home. Tasting that foreign feeling word. Trying to forget that large house filled with sunshine and their love.

Oh, this short story was absolutely heartbreaking! It follows the last moments of an ending relationship and it’s just so shattering. Jaz writes wonderfully evocative characters that you just want to hug and protect. Definitely worth checking out!

On the Edge of Salt (Blood Brute #0.2) by Dixon Reuel

People might climb Holly Hill, might even pass through the ring of holly trees surrounding Owl Court. But nobody crossed that sacred boundary of their red brick wall. To Rise, it was an edge between worlds, marked by the coven with white, ancient salt rubbed deep into the brick foundations. Every dawn, the coven invoked a prayer in the Old Language to reinforce their sacred protection.

I haven’t read this series yet, but I saw the short story on my feed and it looked quite interesting, so I dove in face first like always with absolutely no context, haha. I really liked it!! Reuel’s writing is crisp and polished, and the characters are engaging. Very intrigued about the rest of the series! Definitely worth checking out!

Book Review: The Wolf and the Water (2020)

The Wolf and the Water by Josie Jaffrey

That was the point, of course: the people of Kepos didn’t understand that there was anywhere else to go. They were hemmed in by the cliffs, the wall and the sea. For as far as they could sail in their little fishing boats, there were only more cliffs and more sea.

Josie Jaffrey’s The Wolf and the Water takes place in a valleyed city inspired by Plato’s account of the island of Atlantis and has a lot of similarities to Ancient Greece. I’m used to reading Jaffrey’s vampires stories, so it was awesome to delve into another of her universes! In terms of genre, TWTW really reminded me of The Winner’s Curse in the sense of it being a fictional historical setting with a focus on the politics, engagements and troubles of city folk and the drama and machinations of those who want to rise higher and higher. Think Spartacus or Agora, with a new adult twist.

In Kepos, the story’s setting, our MC Kala is less than delighted by her mother’s remarriage after her father dies under questionable – at best – circumstances. Her new stepfather is abusive, murderous and disgusting. With the help of her life long friend, confidant and lover Melissa, Kala starts to delve into the mystery of her father and Kepos as a whole.

I adored Kala and Melissa, but Leon was a gem and a half. I just adored his characterisation. Can’t wait to get more of his banter in the next book ♡_♡

I also really appreciated the depth of the world-building in this tale and the detail Jaffrey put into developing the society and mythology. I did have a bit of a hard time keeping track of the names, titles and families, but there’s a helpful diagram at the start with all the family names and lineages.

Overall, I can’t wait to see where it all goes from here! Another Josie Jaffrey must read for sure!

Thank you to the author for an ARC.

Book Review Roundup

Tag and the Magic Squeaker by Sam Hundley

The illustrations in this book are made with scrap art and it’s honestly one of the coolest children’s books I’ve ever seen. The dog, cat and mouse are all made with different parts of metal, etc. I liked that the dog was made with a dog tag, haha. Very cute! The story is fun and endearing, too! Definitely worth a read!

Flower Crowns and Fearsome Things by Amanda Lovelace

never once has she felt as if
she’s interesting enough to be
the daring heroine of her own story,
& she’s oddly okay with that.
—she likes being nobody.

Amanda Lovelace is a new-to-me poet, but I’ve seen her works around. The covers are all cool and minimalist. I was instantly drawn in by the gorgeous cover on this one, too! The poems are short and punchy, focusing on loving yourself and putting yourself first. A good introduction to Lovelace for sure! I’ll definitely check out her other poems soon.

All The Colors of Life by Aisato Lisa

You feel like you don’t know the words to the song the grown-ups are singing.

Oh man. Oh man, this made me cry. I was not expecting this book at all. I picked it because the cover was really pretty. I was not anticipating the FEELS. It’s a long form illustrated book that contemplates the long winding road of life. That’s the best way I can describe it. Just give it a chance. Seriously. You won’t regret it.

The Little Lion That Listened by Nicholas Tana

Oh my, the artwork in this book is soooo good! I’m seriously impressed. Each page looks like a painting! The story is very sweet and wholesome, too! Little Leo is such a good listener and I liked how lovely and supportive his mother and siblings were.

His father was a bit frustrating, though. I do wish he apologised to Leo. It seemed like he was unsupportive of everything Leo tried to be, and only once Leo did what he wanted (roared), he accepted him. I didn’t like his characterisation much as a result. Kids should know their parents will love them even if they can’t reach a goal their parents want for them, so for a kids book, I’d want that scene of his father accepting him without him having to roar added in, you know? That’s my only nit-pick, though. The story is truly lovely and the art is gorgeous!

The Hiking Viking by Lauren Gehl

This has a similar message to another children’s book I just read, but it’s a very good one if done well: a young kid is different from their family and feels left out, the others learn to accept them for who they are, all is well by the end. It’s an important lesson for kids to learn and believe, and for adults to remember: there’s nothing wrong with being different from your family!

I really liked this book’s take: young Leif is a Viking who likes hiking. His father, mother and sister want him to train and fight so that their clan can win the Viking games! But it’s Leif’s appreciation for their homeland and all that they have which ultimately proves to be just as worthy as the ability to defend it.

I really liked that balance and the thought the book did it well. Given that it’s for a young age range, it’s short and sweet, but I do wish it had an extra page or two to draw out the ending. Just to give it that little bit of extra closure. That said, it didn’t detract from how much I enjoyed the book as a whole!

Overall this is a very cute, fun book! Definitely worth picking up! The artwork is absolutely precious, too.

Brian the Dancing Lion by Tom Tinn-Oisbury

Okay, this is simply lovely. A feel-good story of a lion who loves to dance and the fear he faces telling his friends about it. The reveal and twist are so sweet and wholesome. Cannot recommend enough!

Thank you Netgalley for the ARCs.