Book review: Batter My Heart by Nenia Campbell

Published March 4th 2022

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Two brothers.

One mistake.


Dahlia Blackwell is a good girl. Or, at least, she tries to be. But after rejecting the advances of the most dangerous boy in town, Audric Dubourdieu, she finds herself the target of a vicious harassment campaign that unburies secrets about her family that she never knew. When she gets accepted to the local college on scholarship, the bullying only gets worse: in a hothouse full of gilded lilies, there’s no room for stubborn weeds.

Theo Dubourdieu lives his life like it’s a stick of dynamite burning at both ends. Fraternity president, prominent medieval scholar, heir to the family fortune: on paper, he looks perfect. But beneath the surface, his life is a chaotic maelstrom of dark desires and bad decisions. Which is why, when he encounters the strangely intense girl walking along his family’s private beach, his first impulse is to kiss first and ask questions later.

Dahlia despises Theo and everything he represents, but he makes her feel things she knows she shouldn’t—and he’ll let her keep her thorns if she’s willing to bleed for them. She’s a wildflower. He’s a storm. Together, they’ll find either salvation or destruction as they batter each other’s hearts.

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Mini book review: Only a Monster by Vanessa Len

Published February 22nd 2022 by HarperTeen

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With the sweeping romance of Passenger and the dark fantasy edge of This Savage Song, this standout YA contemporary fantasy debut from Vanessa Len, is the first in a planned trilogy.

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .

. . . she is not the hero.

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Book review: Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone

Published September 28th 2021 by Henry Holt and Co

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A gothic fantasy about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake.

There are monsters in the world.

When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.

There are monsters in the woods.

As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…

There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.

Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.

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Book review: Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

Published January 18th 2022 by Wednesday Books

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A gothic tale full of mystery and romance about a willful female surgeon, a resurrection man who sells bodies for a living, and the buried secrets they must uncover together.

Edinburgh, 1817.

Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry.

Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die.

When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, the university will allow her to enroll. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need bodies to study, corpses to dissect.

Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then.

But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets. Hazel and Jack work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society.

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Book review: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Published April 7th 2020 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

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When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

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Book review: Pretty When She Cries by A. Zavarelli

Published October 22nd 2020

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Your first kiss is supposed to be sweet. Ours was baptized in fire.
I was the new girl trying to find her place.
Landon was the brooding neighbor I tutored over the summer.
I didn’t know he was a legend at Black Mountain Academy.
I didn’t know they worshipped him like a religion.
But I fell for him before I knew those things.
To me, he was just the tortured soul who drew me in like a magnet.
And then he did something so unspeakable, so unforgivable, it shattered me.
I ran away then because I was weak, but I’ve shed my tears.
He stole my heart and my dignity, and I’m here to take it back.
The only problem is… he’s not giving it up without a fight.

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The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Published September 28th 2021 by Avon

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New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins, writing as Erin Sterling, casts a spell with a spine-tingling romance full of wishes, witches, and hexes gone wrong.

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

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Book review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Published September 14th 2021 by Berkley Books

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As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

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Book review: The Savage and the Swan by Ella Fields

Published July 14th 2021 by Independently Published

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The king of wolves was more beast than man, more tyrant than king, and so much more than he seemed.
Raised to avenge his murdered parents, he’d been trained and conditioned until nothing but violence and hatred lined the walls of his dead heart.

For nearly four years, I’d done all I could to help my kingdom as we faced the wolf king’s unconquerable evil—hardly anything at all.
As the only heir to the Gracewood line, I’d been relegated to menial tasks that would keep me and my secrets safe.

A chance to do more than fret behind our castle walls arrived when I breached them after overhearing my parents’ plans for my future. Fleeing, I unknowingly raced into a fate we’d all desperately hoped to avoid.

By the time I saw him coming, it was far too late. For my family. For my kingdom.
For my heart.
Before I could staunch the bleeding, the king had me under his giant paw, and one wrong move after another caused those razor-sharp claws to sink deeper and deeper beneath my bruised skin.

I might have been trapped, naïve, and furious, but I still had a kingdom to save—and a plan. Yet when we collided, the bloodshed, the fear, his atrocities… all of it dissolved like stardust upon the night sea.

The stars had mapped out our destiny, but it didn’t matter what they or my heart wanted. I refused to see the enigmatic male, the heartless lost boy with a soul beneath the flesh of a monster.
The savage king who’d destroyed everything I loved would fall—even if my heart fell with him.



Inspired by Hades and Persephone, Rumpelstiltskin, and The Swan Princess, The Savage and the Swan is not connected to any other Ella Fields novel. It’s a full-length standalone romantic fantasy containing mature content.

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Published August 9th 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks

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Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman


Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

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