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Tellulah Darling

Tellulah Darling writes YA & New Adult romantic comedy because her first kiss sucked and she's compensating.

Sassy girls. Swoony boys. What could go wrong?

A chilling dystopian with a ton of heart

The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey

Gonna make a giant generalization here and say that it’s easy to make a creepy dystopian. I mean, that’s kind of the baseline, right? We want to be chilled and unnerved by this vision of a near-future that has just enough recognizability to feel like what’s in store for us should we fail to get our collective act together.


Then there are the books that take it one step further into heart wrenching emotion. (Hunger Games and Feed trilogies, I’m looking at you.) The books that not only devastate us, but uplift us, because even when things are at their bleakest, humanity will find a way to love, and laugh, and hope.


Enter The Girl With All The Gifts. I’m not going to give away spoilers, though things are revealed pretty quickly. The future this book presents is chilling and bleak and in the hands of a lesser author, that would have been the entire takeaway.


However, the heart of this book is the relationship between Melanie and her teacher Miss Justineau. This relationship pushes the book into the realm of the truly great in this genre.

Melanie is a lens through which our understanding of all the adult characters is filtered. The naive student ends up teaching us more about humanity and ourselves than could have been imagined by anyone at the start of the novel.


There is a second book, but this story feels complete in and of itself. So if you’re looking for your next great read, pick up The Girl With All the Gifts.


Took me long enough

Keystone - Dannika Dark

Honestly? I was a little worried at first. It felt kind of info dumpy and I wasn’t sure it was going to hit its stride. But it soon did and then, bam! We were off like a rocket.


Plotwise, this book brilliantly avoided some expected tired twists and turns. I loved the direction it took and that I didn’t see a lot of it coming. It managed to play with conventional tropes while keeping them unique and fresh.


Raven, our heroine, is prickly, badass, stubborn, determined, and kinda broken. Qualities I love in my uf MCs. The devil is in the details, namely, how Dark keeps Raven from ever feeling whiny. We’re rooting for her, never rolling our eyes at her. Her emotional baggage is relatable and stems from a genuine, organic backstory.


And then there’s Christian. Yes, he ticks all the hot guy uf boxes, and managed to have a lovely charisma. Without spoiling anything, there was a plot turn near the end that really had me sit up and take notice, because it sets up all kinds of intriguing character growth (or stumbling) in future books.


All in all, thrilled I finally dove in to Keystone and can’t wait to see where book two takes me.

Craving more!

Constant Craving - Tamara Lush

I meant to read one chapter of this book when I started. I had a lot to do and I just wanted a quick break. One. Chapter. So, the end of the book later, having been totally consumed by it, I raised my bleary eyes and muttered “More.” I’ll get to that.


Constant Craving was delightful. You all know how much I love second chance romances, right? Well, this one made my heart bleed. Justine and Rafa’s original relationship was death by a million little cuts and the painful nicks showed no sign of stopping upon their reunion. I was so tense for them to emotionally survive their latest encounter.


Lush’s writing is, well lush. She’s officially become one of those “why do I bother when I can’t write like her” authors. The story is sumptuous, the sexual tension made me light-headed, and the sex itself gets so deliciously filthy at times. Rafa is definitely alpha but, since that’s my catnip, all good.


All that would have made the book worth reading, but complicating Justine’s and Rafa’s relationship is the fact that her family newspaper that she runs is circling the drain and Rafa, now a real estate mogul has shown up as the financier who can make or break its continuing existence. Lush is an experienced journalist and she brings a fascinating level of detail and authenticity to the story. I loved all the newsroom elements as much as the romance.


Now for the “more.” There’s also the bonus of reading Rafa’s POV (he of the sexy Cuban accent) on Radish, a platform for serialized reads. I know I’ll be checking it out to get into his head. Meantime, enjoy the combustive chemistry of these two and pick Constant Craving up today!


Another great read from Lily Morton

Rule Breaker - Lily Morton

The “enemies to lovers” trope is only slightly less delicious to me than the “best friends to lovers” one. There’s so much delightful antagonism and so much infuriation that turns to explosive sexual content.


*fans self*


Dylan is the mouthy best, but for all his snark, he is a big softie with a heart of gold. It was such fun to watch him alternate between wanting to murder Gabe and wanting to screw him senseless. He’s just a good guy who deserves his HEA.


Trouble his, the object of his fantasies is a cold-hearted player – or is he? The more I read about Gabe, the more I adored him. He is a broken man, but with every glimpse, I rooted for him to get over his issues and beyond his past hurts, and embrace the love waiting for him. That sounds so sappy, I know, but seriously, I just wanted these two together so badly.


I’ve read one other Lily Morton book, and I gotta say, so far, you can’t go wrong with any of them. Can’t wait to catch up on the rest!

Possibly my fav 2017 read

The Duchess Deal - Tessa Dare

This book made my cold, dead heart feel all the feels. I am in looooove! Let’s start with our protagonist, Leia, nerd girl extraordinaire, graphic novelist, and soon-to-be mother thanks to a one-night stand at a comic convention with Batman. I mean, I can’t even. I was already so happy.


The Almost Sisters has so much depth: it tackles family, sisterhood, fathers, dementia, and reconciling a vision of the American south that is so welcoming with the “second South” involving deeply entrenched racism. There was humour and heart and unlike some other Southern-set stories I’ve read recently, these characters popped off the page, crackling with life and spirit and individuality.


I cannot recommend this book enough. It gets all the stars and then some.

Anna Bradley nails another HR

Lady Eleanor's Seventh Suitor - Anna Bradley

OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK SO HARD! Cam is the worst autocrat. I mean really, he blackmails her into marriage. Talk about imperious and demanding. Yes, there are good reasons, but still. Much as I love my alphaholes, there were many ways for this to go so wrong. But in Anna Bradley’s brilliantly capable hands, I adored his underhandedness and ruthlessness. Of course, it made all the difference that Lady Eleanor was equally ruthless in her schemes not to be trapped by Cam.


There is so much collateral damage and heartbreak and stubborn stubborn people incapable of saying what they really mean. Absolutely delicious. Reward yourself with this book!

When two signs collide the results are delightful

Scorpio Hates Virgo - Anyta Sunday

What a treat! I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about the dictionary entry at the start, and to be honest, those never really did it for me, but other than that small detail, I loved this book. It was funny, there was clever word play, and the growing awareness between Perseus and Callahan that they couldn’t consider themselves nemeses anymore had me rooting so hard for them.


This is also very much a story about grief and loss and a community, an extended family actually, coming together to help the healing process. The Sherlock Gnomes game was a ton of fun and gave great insights into all the secondary characters. I’d love to read more in this world, so I’ll definitely be going back to read Theo’s story.


Thank you to NetGalley and Anyta Sunday for the opportunity to read this title in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Gimme all the Alisha Rai!

Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

I was in the most delicious agony, desperate for these two to figure things out and get their HEA. This story combines two of my favourite tropes: enemies to lovers and second chances. Plus, how often do you get a steamy romance that deals with the family history of the tragedy of Japanese internment camps?


It’s Romeo and Juliet in modern times without all the stupidity! The characters must not only battle family history and their own insecurities around emotional intimacy but depression, in a way that felt very real. The chemistry between Livvy and Nicholas was incredible, and their push and pull had me on the edge of my seat.


The writing is gorgeous; the characters have depth and flaws, and there is just enough humour to balance all the angst. Rai hits every right note with this one and I can’t wait to dive into more of her work.

Sharp and compelling

Unravelling Oliver - Liz Nugent

“Unraveling” is the perfect way to describe this story as we peel away the layers of various narrators with varying degrees of reliability, to get to the truth of who Oliver is and what he’s done. I think a big reason of why this book really appealed to me was timing. There is a lot of unrest in our world these days, and a lot of people behaving in ways I just don’t understand. So here was an opportunity to get inside the head of this one man and try to comprehend why he behaved the way he did. How he could act so callously.


The answers aren’t pretty, but then again, I didn’t expect them to be. And even having the answers, I wasn’t particularly satisfied, but I think that’s what also made this book work for me. Would I be satisfied in real life knowing why someone had committed X or done Y? Not really. The knowing doesn’t make it easier. And I appreciated that Nugent didn’t try to manipulate us into an acceptance of Oliver’s actions–or any real forgiveness.


If you’re looking for a chilling albeit interesting psychological portrait, then you’ll enjoy Unraveling Oliver.

If my judgemental ways had made me miss this book, it would have sucked hard!

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman

I really am a judgmental girl. The synopsis, the cover – all left me eyeing the book laying on my shelf with utter distaste. Honestly, if I hadn’t been on vacation, bookless, and feeling like I should at least read a couple pages to tell the friend that had lent it to me that I tried, I would have missed this fabulous, wonderful read.


By the end of chapter 1, I was smiling. By chapter three, I was crying, and then pretty much the rest of the book was alternating between those two states of being. I then handed it over to my husband, because he was now bookless on vacation, too. He does not read these kinds of books. Mystery, fantasy, sure. Dude did not put it down.


I adored Ove and Parvaneh and every single one of the characters . There is not a single misstep.  If the synopsis isn’t your thing, then ignore it and just trust me. This is one book you don’t want to miss out on. It’s so funny and charming in all the best ways and ultimately, an amazing affirmation of life and love. This book punched me in the heart – let it punch you.

The Night Market is a delicious thriller

The Night Market - Jonathan Moore

The Night Market is certainly a thrill ride. It’s a great set up with this bizarre crime and then Carver having to not only solve it, but piece together his missing memories at the same time. Carver is your classic hard-boiled detective, swimming through layers of betrayal and corruption while trying to get the skinny on the femme fatale character of Mia.


Tons of twists and turns. The world reminded me of Blade Runner San Francisco-style, which was a plus in my books. And I loved the thematic commentary on a consumer culture run rampant.


Apparently this is the third and final book in a series featuring loosely interconnected characters. I didn’t know that at the time, and it didn’t impact my reading enjoyment, though it did make me want to go back and read the others. Loved it!


Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Golden House is Golden

The Golden House: A Novel - Salman Rushdie

This is some serious, epic Greek tragedy. At its heart is the question of “Can a man be both good and evil?” and yet it is also about the role of the storyteller and the unmasking of America. As always, his wordplay is a twisty, tangled delight, filled with a myriad of literary and cinematic references that gladdened the heart of this lifelong reader girl and degree holder of a Masters in Film Theory.


This is a long book, over the top in many ways, but so so clever. I was totally caught up in the lives of the Golden family – Nero and his three sons all cloaked in mystery that the intrepid Réné is hellbent on unraveling for his own artistic pursuits. And so, the narrator becomes part of the story.


And Rushdie’s commentary on American politics was brilliant. I suspect this book will earn him as many enemies as fans, but I adored it.


Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Hockey m/m romance book crack

Breakaway - Avon Gale

I would rather stick hot needles in my eyes than watch any kind of team sports, so the fact that I love love love hockey romances, especially m/m ones, is a mystery to me. I blame it on some kind of hard-wired Canadianness.


My favourite m/m hockey romances are written by Sarina Bowen, so when she recommended Avon Gale's romances, I knew I'd be checking them out.


Lane is the best. First off, he's Canadian, which yay! But he's so socially awkward. This kid just does not have a filter button, which I love, and yet he makes everyone want to both hug him and punch him at the same time. I don't know how Gale pulled this character off, but she did it brilliantly.


Jared is about 11 years older than Lane. The veteran player. I usually cringe at this age gap, but again, it worked and I totally rooted for them. Both of them are at very different places in terms of their sexual identities and experience and Gale really brought a genuineness to her exploration of that.


There's not a lot of worry about what will happen with Lane and Jared. They get together quite soon on and it's more going along for the ride in their relationship than nail biting "will they overcome all these horrible things and finally get an HEA."


Breakaway is a totally satisfying standalone but I bet that like me, you'll be buying book 2 as soon as you're finished. I'm almost done that one as well, and yeah. Just as good.

The White Hot sizzle of Ilona Andrews' magic

White Hot -  Ilona Andrews

White Hot was worth every second of the wait. The second book in a trilogy can be tricky because it can feel like filler for the final showdown. That does not happen with a master like Ilona Andrews. If there is a gold medal podium for urban fantasy authors, this husband and wife writing team are standing on it.


I tend to go on at length when discussing Andrews about her incredible world building skills, but come on. Her mythologies are fascinating, original (not an easy feat in the crowded UF market) and have me flipping the pages to learn more just as much as her characters do.


And speaking of characters, the MC Nevada, is a joy to read. What I love most about her is not, shockingly, her snark or kick-ass abilities, it's how close she is with her family. From the get go there is this mutual love and respect with all the members of her extended family. And she never has Too Stupid To Live moments. When she does keep things from them, I understand why, and honestly, most of the time, she's upfront about everything.


Then there's Mad Rogan. Can I honestly say I'm crushing on a psychopath with off-the-charts magic power? Why yes, yes I can. See, the thing is, Rogan is a product of his environment and in Andrews' hands we are exposed to not just Mad Rogan the monster and the legend, but Connor, the man. My heart broke in several places during this second book as we develop a whole new understanding of him.


I basically put my evening on hold and devoured this next installation, and it is with great relief that I only have to wait a couple of months for the finale instead of 2.5 years. But again, I know it will be worth it.

I had a Strange and wondrous dream

Strange the Dreamer - Laini Taylor

Taylor is one of those authors whose writing is so lush and evocative and gorgeous, that I sit there wondering why I bother to tell stories and Strange the Dreamer is no exception. I loved the world of Weep so damn much. It's classic storytelling, using a ton of archetypes and mythology/fairy tale tropes, which in the hands of someone as skilled as Taylor feel fresh and unique.


I know this is frustrating, but I kind of don't want to tell you anything about it. I didn't know anything beyond the synopsis and I think that's the best way to go into this. (Along with the realization that it's just book 1.) Lazlo is a fabulous character, I adored the blue-skinned goddess, and really, there's not a boring person in the bunch. It's fitting how they all have their personal demons, yet there is so much light and wonder with these characters.


You will laugh, you will sob, it's truly epic storytelling.


So, yeah, I'm going to be totally coy but trust me: let the secrets of Weep unveil themselves to you, page by page. Don't read other reviews. But absolutely read this book.

Sad I could only read this for the first time once

Black Iris - Leah Raeder

Confession time. The only reason I read this book was because I was at the library, it was sitting there on the shelf at eye level and I was facing a bookless bus ride home. To say my enthusiasm for diving in to this story that I'd so actively opted not to read so many times was low, would be generous.


Hi. I'm Tellulah Darling and I'm an idiot. I don't know what my problem was because I'd read Raeder's Unteachable about a student/teacher relationship and if (I'm going to refer to the author as Elliot Wake now because he has transitioned), he could get me fully onboard with that subject matter and loving that book, my reticence here was a mystery. Wait - no it's not because I just re-read the synopsis and I thought it was every NA that I was tired of reading.


Oh, how wrong I was.


Black Iris is stupendous! I read it in about 3 hours, ignoring my entire family to do so. Dark, haunting, twisted, sublime, lush, this book has taken root in my brain and I suspect it will be a long time before I stop thinking about it. Where I expected it to zig, it zagged, when I was sure I understood a character, a bombshell was dropped on me. I couldn't set my smug reader expectations on this book and it was fabulous.

Take a primal revenge story, birth it in the devastation of mental illness, wrap it in several layers of sexual identity and heartbreaking homophobia and then shine it to a high gloss with the brittle beauty of Laney and Blythe. This book nails every single dizzying element. So don't be like me, go read it immediately, and bow before Wake's writing prowess.