Book Review – What the Knocker-Upper Woke Up


What the Knocker-Upper Woke Up combines the darkness of both the modern era and times past into an atmospheric paranormal. The story starts in Victorian-era London as it follows a few characters who stumble upon the darkness awaiting in a derelict mental asylum. Fast forward to present day, and the evil of the place continues to cause trouble for the characters of the present.

The writing style here is both rich and evocative in describing the creepiness of the Sideways and its inhabitants. Tess and the other characters are likable and easy to root for, but I did feel like this one was a bit slower to develop. (However, as I usually prefer breakneck pace, I think this is definitely a personal preference. 😂) The ending was unexpected though, and I thought it perfectly wrapped up this spooky paranormal. Recommended for fans of unique, well-written YA paranormal.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½

As a fellow not-morning person, being woken up at an ungodly hour is probably my villain origin story too.
Just sayin.

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – We Could Be Villains


I absolutely love when a book delivers on its premise, and this one is right on the money! We Could be Villains follows Rosemary, a huge Vigil & Ante (read: Marvel-esque) fangirl as she stumbles into the high-stakes reality behind her favorite movies. With her difficult home-life, cinematic passion, and quirky tagalong co-worker, Rosemary is definitely a character that you can connect with almost immediately, and it’s so fun to follow both her excitement and fear as she navigates the new and dangerous world of undercover superheroes. It was really interesting to see the Vigil & Ante world unfold before her, along with some twists that definitely caught me by surprise.

Interspliced with her narrative is an interrogation of Ironfall, the smooth villain of Vigil & Ante and Rosemary’s blackmailer. I absolutely loved seeing the contrast between his take on events and Rosemary, and the chemistry between them is intense! Let’s just say I’m a big Ironfall fan. The promise of a enemies-to-lovers romance is THICK and definitely has me checking for the release date of the sequel!

Definitely recommend for any superhero fans looking for a fast-paced romp through a world that you’ll definitely will want to jump into for yourself!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Throwback to that one time I was a superhero! It’s always a good time.🦸‍♀️

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Kingdom of the Wicked


This book had so many elements that I enjoyed. The Italian vibes, the creepy darkness of the prose, and a plot of murder, princes of hell, and witches. I was totally on board. But, the MC, Emilia, kind of ruined it for me. Oh boy. Seriously, I could not Even with her. Though the audiobook was beautifully narrated, there were a couple times I had to pause it because Emilia was killing me. Again. The mental gymnastics she goes through to repeatedly end up at the wrong conclusion was exhausting, and her treatment of Wrath (who saved her life way too many times to count) was not cool. Seriously, run, Wrath. I’m sure there have to be other witch fish in the sea. So, great premise, great writing, but a nonsensical MC I really couldn’t find redeemable. But! That’s just my opinion, so if you’re into dark fantasy with strong Italian flavor, maybe give it a look!

⭐⭐⭐

Emilia, girl, seriously, I just can’t with you.

Thanks for reading!

Into The Churn Cover Reveal – Preorders LIVE!

Me & my Into the Churn copy! Are those hearts in my eyes?!?!

AHHHHHH! FINALLY! You all. I have been living with this secret since I first saw the cover in September, and it has been KILLING me. And then the ARC came last week, and I seriously wasn’t sure I was going to make it! Sorry, you’re going to have to forgive me for the caps everywhere but I’m so excited for this book release I can’t take it! 🤩

One thing I absolutely adore about Whimsical Publishing is how each one of their covers is a work of art. Non-figuratively. Micheline is an incredible artist, and I’m blown away with her ability to capture the feel of my romantic sci-fi in her artwork. Micheline’s passion for these characters and this story honestly makes me want to cry happy tears. This book incorporated so many of my experiences and feelings as an international/collegiate fencer and ultramarathoner, so it truly is a book of my heart, and I’m so excited to share with everyone!

Naturally, I have to tease with the blurb first though:

Earth was tame. Belethea is not.

Seventeen-year-old Ezren Hart interns in her mother’s terraforming lab, studying Belethea’s deadly storms with the dream of giving her backwater planet open teal skies. But when budget cuts threaten to shut down her mother’s lab, Ezren enters Belethea’s Race Royale, the system’s deadliest and most lucrative race. To win, she’ll have to run, drive, and fight her way across Belethea’s barren landscape while navigating its savage and volatile storms. With her planet’s future, and her family’s, on the line, she can’t afford to lose. But first, she’ll have to convince her handsome royale partner that their planet is worth saving.

Foster Sterling is a jaded ex-prodigy royaler still reeling from his partner’s death in a training accident. When Ezren Hart comes charging into his life, her passion reminds him of what he once loved about racing and his dream of returning pride to their planet. Still, no matter how fast they go, they can’t outrun the mysterious string of deadly accidents following them like a curse. As Foster falls harder for Ezren, he races to piece the clues together. But with time running out and their survival on the line, he’ll have to decide if their dreams are worth their lives.

Perfect for fans of underdog heroes, slow-burn romance, and high-stakes sci-fi, INTO THE CHURN races across a new planet of savage storms and dazzling tech. Fall in love with Ezren and Foster as they battle side-by-side to save their scrappy world on a ruthless interplanetary stage where appearances are everything, speed means survival, and the only thing deadlier than the storms are the other racers.

Two royalers, besieged by tornadic storms, running across a mauve, rocky terrain under a teal sky peppered with foreign planets

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Isn’t it beautiful!?!? 😍😍😍 And to make launch even BETTER, Whimsical Publishing is giving away some incredible preorder incentives – including artwork of scenes from the book!

Preorder incentives include character art of emotional scene in their royaler suits, awkward scene with a shirtless Foster, bookmarks of cover art, map art, and signed bookplate! Preorder incentives only available with orders through whimsicalpublishing.ca

Okay, is this even real life? Someone pinch me. I’m legit still in shock. To get in on all the amazing preorder goodies, you can preorder INTO THE CHURN from Whimsical Publishing’s site here.

You can also add Into the Churn on Goodreads here! Stay tuned to both my Instagram @hayleyreesechow and @whimsicalillustration for more character art and sneak peeks in the coming weeks!

All right. I have more secrets, but I thinks that’s all I can give away for now. Please excuse me while I go happy screech around the office for the rest of the day.

Totally not considering walking around like this for the rest of my life or anything… 😂

Audiobook Review – Once Upon A Broken Heart


This was a charming fantasy about a girl who makes a deal with a fate following a broken heart. For me, the highlight of this story really came in the world itself. Roughly split between Magic and non magic, there’s tons of interesting lore and eccentricities that really made me want to soak this world up. The mystery of the fates, prophecy, and stories without endings also definitely kept me turning pages. But though I liked Jax and Evangeline well enough, I didn’t totally fall for them, and I was definitely wishing the connection between them was a little stronger. Really, Evangeline’s goals in general didn’t feel super compelling, and the ending felt a little forced. The narration was great though, and I’d still totally recommend this to YA fantasy readers. Although this doesn’t work well as a stand-alone in any way, I’d definitely give the sequel a look to see what happens next!

⭐⭐⭐⭐½

(Update: Tried to listen to the sequel, The Ballad of Never After, and got a third of the way through before I had to DNF. Evangeline’s poor decisions were killing me, but lots of people love that series, so it could just be me!)

This is why I never trust sequels!

Thanks for reading!

Into the Churn: Street Team Sign-Ups & ARC Requests Open!

This week Whimsical Publishing officially revealed the title and blurb for my upcoming Young Adult Science Fiction, INTO THE CHURN, launching April 4th 2023! 🥳 So now, I’m thrilled to announce some other exciting news!

First, the Into the Churn Street Team is officially open for sign-ups here! If you’re willing to help with the December cover reveal & spreading the word, we’d love your help & can offer some fun perks—including the chance to win a *very* rare physical advance reader copy (ARC) in return! And if you’ve never seen Whimsical Publishing’s books, they’re absolutely gorgeous. 😍

Second, if you’re interested in an electronic advance reader copy (eARC) you can request one on Whimsical Publishing’s website here!

And lastly, if you’d like to check out a sneak peek of a scene from the book, you can find it on Whimsical’s back-up Instagram account here!

As a author publishing with a small press, we depend on readers to help spread the word, so any social media shares, retweets, posts are so greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much for reading, and the text-version of the blurb is included below!


Seventeen-year-old Ezren Hart interns in her mother’s terraforming lab, studying Belethea’s deadly storms with the dream of giving her backwater planet open teal skies. But when budget cuts threaten to shut down her mother’s lab, Ezren enters Belethea’s Race Royale, the system’s deadliest and most lucrative race. To win, she’ll have to run, drive, and fight her way across Belethea’s barren landscape while navigating its savage and volatile storms. With her planet’s future, and her family’s, on the line, she can’t afford to lose. But first, she’ll have to convince her handsome royale partner that their planet is worth saving.

Foster Sterling is a jaded ex-prodigy royaler still reeling from the death of his partner in a training accident. When Ezren Hart comes charging into his life, her passion reminds him of what he once loved about racing and his dream of returning pride to their planet. Still, no matter how fast they go, they can’t outrun the mysterious string of deadly accidents following them like a curse. As Foster falls harder for Ezren, he races to piece the clues together. But with time running out and their survival on the line, he’ll have to decide if their dreams are worth their lives.

Perfect for fans of underdog heroes, slow burn romance, and high stakes sci fi, INTO THE CHURN races across a new planet of savage storms and dazzling tech. Fall in love with Ezren and Foster as they battle side-by-side to save their scrappy world on a ruthless interplanetary stage where appearances are everything, speed means survival, and the only thing deadlier than the storms are the other racers.

This is the Canva cover I put together when drafting. I can’t WAIT to share the real thing Whimsical Publishing created. It’s absolutely GORGEOUS!

Author Interview: Shelby Elizabeth

I’m so excited to announce I’m going to start posting fun little author interviews as part of this bookish blog as well! And for our first author interview, it’s my pleasure to introduce Shelby Elizabeth, a fellow indie author of young adult novels!

Shelby Elizabeth is an English teacher in Upstate New York. She’s also a major geek. When she isn’t writing about fantasy worlds or romance, she can be found reading, playing with her nephews and spending time with family, or watching just a bit too much television. She is the author of the Celestials trilogy and a standalone contemporary romance novel, Don’t Hate the Player.

Hayley: Hey Shelby! Thanks so much for letting me ask you a few questions! Reading your Goodreads bio, I see you’re a big fanfiction writer! What are some of your favorite fanction works and how do you think that’s influenced or inspired your novels?

Shelby: I started out writing fanfiction, and wrote one as recently as early 2022! I can’t advocate it enough. It really helps you find your voice and hone your craft–and it’s a lot of fun! My favorite fanfics to write let me explore big moments in my favorite characters’ stories. Introspective pieces that really dig into the characters’ thoughts and feelings. I’ve actually reworked pieces of fanfics into my books!

Hayley: Very cool! Hearing you talk about it definitely makes me want to give it a go. I also see that you’re a teacher! How awesome! How does your role as a teacher influence or inspire what you write in your novels?

Shelby: Thanks! Classroom conversations generate a lot of ideas, haha! Whether it’s random side conversations (with colleagues or students) or interpretations of a class text, the environment inspires creativity for me.

Hayley: So, though I have Stars Begin to Burn downloaded on Kindle and Don’t Hate the Player is definitely on my TBR, I haven’t gotten a chance to read either of them yet! What are some common themes or elements we can expect from your books?

Shelby: That’s awesome! I always have found family in my books. It’s one of my favorite tropes, and I love exploring different types of found family dynamics. And at least one character will be a geek in some way. Riley (Stars Begin to Burn) loves Harry Potter. Eli (Don’t Hate the Player) loves music. As for common themes in my books, some favorites are exploring shades of gray and recognizing the power of love (platonic, familial, and romantic).

Hayley: That sounds absolutely lovely. So I see you’ve both finished a series (Celestials) and written a standalone (Don’t Hate the Player), but do you prefer writing one over the other? When you write your series, do you plot the whole thing out from the beginning or do you just see where the story takes you?

Shelby: I love the challenge of writing a series, but I also love the succinctness of having one book tell a whole story. I plan to do more of both–and series of connected, standalone books, as a happy medium. For my Celestials trilogy, I knew how books one and two would end when I started it, and had a rough idea for the end of book three. I knew all of the big events, and filled in smaller arcs as I went. Some projects I outline a lot. Others I outline the big things and fill in.

Hayley: I love the flexibility there! But what’s next? I know from Twitter you’re working on a Pegasi novel for Nanowrimo, and I think I saw a teaser that you might also be thinking about a volleyball inspired romance? When do you think we can expect to see your next work? Do you think you’ll stick to YA or do you have plans for other genres and age groups?

Shelby: I have an idea for an MG fantasy series using Greek myth at some point, but for now I’m sticking to YA. My current focus is a series of interconnected standalone fantasy romance novels called All the World’s a Story. Shakespearean inspired, with magical creatures. The first one, Lady of Dragons, is in the editing phase and should release next year! The second, Lord of Pegasi, is my work-in-progress. I might write the volleyball romance next, and set it in the same school as Don’t Hate the Player. I found I like alternating between contemporary and fantasy, though fantasy remains my focus.

Hayley: Thank you so much for your thoughtful answers! Now it’s time for a Lightning Round!

o    Favorite book you’ve read lately?

A Curse of Hope and Shadows Parts Two and Three by Katherine Macdonald

o    Favorite quote?

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” – J. K. Rowling

o    Favorite trope?

Friends to lovers! And found family.

o    Favorite season?

Spring or fall.

o    Advice for aspiring indie authors?

Write what you want, when you need to. Just keep writing as long as it makes you happy. Oh, and before you publish, build up hype for your book by sharing snippets and info about the characters. It makes a huge difference to have people excited to read your book on release day, instead of telling them about it after you’ve published (trust me on that).


Yay! Thanks so much to Shelby for coming on as our first author interview! I really enjoyed your passion, and I can’t wait to read your books! To hear more from Shelby, you can check out her Twitter here for updates. I hope you all enjoyed this interview, and if you’re an author interested in an interview please feel free to drop me a line! As always, thanks for reading!

Time’s Orphan: Chapter One

I’ve officially sent Time’s Orphan off to the proofreader so it’s time for the first chapter reveal! Note: Although this is book 3 in the Odriel’s Heirs series, each book occurs after a 10+ year time gap, focuses on a different character, and the stories stand alone. If you’d like to catch up on the series, Odriel’s Heirs books 1, 1.5, 2, and 2.5 are currently 0.99 on Amazon or free on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple. With that, here we go!




Speak of dragons,

And I’ll tell you of warriors

Who walked their flames.

Speak of shadows,

And I’ll tell you of heroes

Who brought the dawn.

Speak of pain,

And I’ll tell you of the Time

Who stole it away.

– The Heir’s Way, Chapter 17, Passage 9



CHAPTER ONE

FAVENO BLEEDS

With the bitter ash of fourteen burning towns still thick on her tongue, Emara thought she would’ve gotten used to the salty, iron tang of death. She knelt beside the whimpering soldier, gripping his rough, dirty hands in hers. As her yanaa, her Odriel-gifted energy, coursed through his body, it washed his agony away from him and into her. A fiery pain ignited in her stomach that mirrored the gaping, crimson hole through his middle. His smooth jaw could scarcely grow a beard, and yet here he lay among Faveno’s wounded defenders, breathing his last. She squeezed his hand as his eyelids fluttered one last time, the grimace of suffering at last easing to an empty stare.

As her yanaa retreated from him, the remnants of his pain faded from her own body. Drawing in a trembling breath, Emara shut his eyes with a practiced hand. “May Odriel guide you.”

“Oi! Mari!” Iree, a broad-shouldered blonde, shouted from where she helped an injured soldier into the back of the wagon. “Stop wasting time on the dead ones!”

The relentless thrum of the Rastgol’s war drums carried on the dusty air, a malignant heartbeat pounding through the frenzied city. Shrill cries of the manic residents streamed around their impromptu casualty camp in the middle of Faveno’s main square. The afternoon sun shone on the vibrant greens and blues of the stone houses ringing the plaza—the peaceful, oceanic colors standing in stark contrast to the city’s nearly palpable dread. A salty sea breeze ruffled the crude canvas canopy stretched above them, but it did nothing to relieve the nauseating stench of urine, sweat, and blood.

The reek of a losing battle.

Heavier now with another lost soul, Emara stumbled to the nearby trough and scrubbed the freshly dried blood from her brown skin until her hands stopped trembling. Straightening, she pushed her dark curls away from her face as she surveyed their makeshift camp. The other casualties lay in rows on blood-stained straw pallets—some crying out, others far too silent. Some wore the hodgepodge leather armor of Faveno’s Shields, while others bore only the simple dress of fishermen, tradesmen, and farmers.

“Odriel take me,” Iree swore, wiping the sweat from her forehead before grabbing a white-bearded soldier by his tunic and roughly hauling him up. “Where in the wretched skies are the bleeding Heirs when you need ‘em?” 

“Got their hands full keeping the Dead King’s Lost army in the south, they say.” Emara darted over to help Iree lift Whitebeard into the wagon, the bandages around his leg dark with blood. She sent a ripple of yanaa along his fevered skin, just enough to urge the bleeding to stop, but hopefully little enough to escape his notice. Still, the pain of the gash made her wince.

 “The girl’s right,” the man muttered as they shifted him deeper into the wagon bed. “Last I heard, the younger Dragon holds Gyatus while the elder Drake trains an army in Catalede, the old Shadow protects Aquilond, and the younger one stalks the throne in Austerden, waiting for her moment to assassinate the king.”

Iree spat onto the splotchy brown cobblestones as she pushed up her sleeves, chest heaving. “So you’re saying no one’s coming to save us.” She turned to the driver, a skinny boy of maybe a dozen years. “Cart’s full. Drop ‘em at the docks and come back for another load.”

Emara frowned as she turned to the wounded again, stooping to the unconscious woman next in line and shifting her onto a fresher bed of straw. “Hard to save us when we’ve already lost.”

Carriette, a younger girl with pigtail braids and a sharp chin, scowled from further down the line where she offered a ladle of water to a soldier with a full head of bandages. “Skies above, Emara, do you have to be so negative? It could still happen! The Heirs have beaten the cannibals back before.”

“And you only mentioned the Dragon and Shadow Heirs,” the bandaged soldier said with a weak smile. “Isn’t there supposed to be a third line? An Heir of healing or some such? I could use some of that right now.”

Emara glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, her skin prickling at the mention of healing. But his attention was squarely on the water, and her shoulders relaxed just a touch.

The Heirs’ legendary abilities passed down to their firstborns, but others, like Emara, could be born with random gifts like her minor healing touch. She’d heard of those with the power to make seeds sprout, change the wind’s direction, or share a thought without speaking.

Such smaller gifts of yanaa were also said to be bestowed by Odriel, the legendary spirit-guide. However, while the Time Heir of legend could heal armies, as one of Odriel’s Blessed, Emara could scarcely heal an ugly gash without getting out of breath. But with the Rastgol and the Dead King hunting down anyone with a scrap of yanaa tingling in their fingers—Heirs and Odriel’s Blessed alike—she tried to keep her abilities hidden.

But when everyone was dying around her, that was easier said than done.

“They haven’t been seen in a decade. Definitely dead.” Iree stooped and put a hand to the chest of a pale soldier lying all too still. With a tsk, she tugged his blanket up to cover his face. “And if they aren’t, I would whip their legendary hide for holing up while we’re busting our arses trying to save this place.”

Carriette slumped. At fifteen, she was only two years younger than Emara, but this was her first battle, and she hadn’t quite let go of her childish fantasies. Her eyes still glinted with the hope of Odriel’s chosen protectors endowed with godlike powers of fire, invisibility, and healing. It wouldn’t be long before she understood though—here, there were no heroes coming to their rescue, no happy endings, and no real winners. Both sides always lost in war; one just lost more than the other.

They’d been at war almost as long as she could remember. The Rastgol armies encroached further north and east into Okarrian lands every year. The necromancing Dead King’s army of undead—the Lost—crawled over the south, and the ancient, bloodthirsty man-killers his two commanders had unleashed from their Carceroc prison hunted everywhere else.

She’d lost her mother to the undead early, then from there had followed her grandmother’s merchant tribe as they scurried from town to town, searching for pockets of safety. But there were none to be had.

Still, it did no good to dwell on it.

“But who needs the Heirs when we have the mighty Iree?” Emara called to Carriette, getting a begrudging smirk out of her.

“Oh, you hush.” Iree waved her off as she rifled through a crate of bandages and filled waterskins.

Emara smiled at the image of the burly Iree taking on one of the legendary defenders of Okarria. She didn’t envy anyone who had to face her fury, yanaa or no. “I would bet on you over an Heir any day, Iree. In fact, I—”

Emara flinched as a horn blasted from one of the spires, signaling another Rastgol attack.

The three of them exchanged a tense glance before Emara lurched into action, lifting the crate of supplies. “I’ll take these to the east spire. They’ll be needing it.”

“No, let me.” Carriette’s face hardened with determination as she grabbed it from Emara.

“Wait, I—” Emara started, but Carriette was already striding away.

 “Don’t worry. I’ll get it there.” With that, she took off across the square against the flow of the crowd fleeing for the docks. Emara couldn’t help but smile. Though naïve, the girl was brave; she had to give her that.

Even from their relative safety inside the inner wall, the roar and clang of battle drifted to them on the dusty air. Although the maimed sun, ever chipped by the Dead King’s power, drew high on the fourth day of the siege, the blood-worshiping barbarians only seemed to grow stronger. They battered Faveno’s stone walls in unending waves of horror and violence. Each day, as Faveno’s defenders fell, the Rastgol’s bellowing drums grew louder, grew closer. Too close.

A pair of bony mules pulled the creaking wagon up to their camp in the middle of the square, and the skinny boy waved frantically from the driver’s bench. “This is the last trip! Load ‘em as quick as you can. The last ships are readying to sail north, and word is we’ll lose the outer wall within the hour.”

Already? Emara’s gaze flicked to the smoke curling behind the thick stone walls looming over the rooftops. “How many can you take?” She dried her hands on a stained rag, trying to measure the wagon against the rows of bodies. They’d already sent the walking wounded down to the wharf, but there were still dozens left.

Iree bent over the first in the row, a young man with his left leg missing from the knee down. Grabbing his proffered hand, she hoisted him up and helped him in. “I don’t care if we have to stack ‘em. If they fit, they’re going.”

Emara hurried over, lifting the little girl that had come in earlier with the arrow in her gut. “Hey love.” The girl’s blue eyes flicked open. “It’s okay, we’re getting you out of here.”

“Not that one, Mari,” Iree said, helping another soldier into the wagon. “I saw her this morning. We can’t waste space on lost causes.”

Emara ignored her, sending a pulse of her yanaa into the girl’s wound. The pain of it flooded back to her, and she grit her teeth, careful not to drop the girl. “It didn’t go deep. Take another look, Iree. She’ll be fine.”

Iree turned from the wagon, her gaze sliding from the girl’s face to the bandages around her middle. She lifted the bandage to peek under, and then raised a brow at Emara. “I must have misjudged. Put her in.”

Sweat gathering at her temples, Emara settled the girl in the corner of the wagon before turning to get the next. Iree bent down beside her, each grabbing an arm of a burly man. He groaned as they boosted him into the wagon bed, and Emara let her fingers linger on his wrist. She sent another pulse of yanaa into him, the rot of the infection in his leg knocking the breath from her lungs. She pushed harder, pulling it from him like a parasite. Sweat beaded on her forehead with his fever and nausea turned her stomach, but the furrows in his brow eased. Though the yanaa leached her energy, it was just as quick to return after she pulled away—all she had to do was endure.

“You need to be more careful, Mari,” Iree whispered, her gaze fierce. “There are people here that will give you to the Rastgol in a second if it means sparing their own hides.”

Iree’s counsel needled Emara’s guilty conscience, an echo of her mother’s warnings scorching through her. Though Emara tried her best to hide her gift, the sharp-eyed elder medics nearly always saw through her, but she had neither the time nor the patience to worry about it now. “We should all be careful,” she said, moving to the next patient.

They worked in silence, Emara’s hands lingering on the worst of them, until finally the cart could hold no more. Iree hopped into the front and took the reins from the boy. “Coming, Mari?”

Emara glanced at the spires again, another horn blast splitting the air. “I’ll wait for Carriette.”

A frown dug into the well-worn lines around Iree’s mouth. “It’s your choice, but if we lose the wall…” Her gaze met Emara’s, concern softening her expression. “Don’t linger.”

“Be safe, Iree,” Emara said, her hand to her chest. “And I’ll see you on a sunnier day.”

With a grim nod, Iree clicked her tongue, and the wagon rolled away, its charges dull-eyed and moaning. They were nearly packed on top of each other, but they’d almost managed to get all of their wounded aboard. The ones left here probably wouldn’t see the sunset, Rastgol or no. But perhaps she could still ease their passing.

“Emara!”

Emara whirled at the elder medic’s familiar voice. Her gaze narrowed on his thin string of a body and receding gray curls as he limped toward her on his clubbed foot, pulling a younger man with fluttering eyelids.

“Gunther, are you okay?”

A horn bellowed from beyond the wall, followed by two more short blasts, and a bonfire crackled to life on the western spire. A chorus of wails erupted from the square as the crowds of evacuees surged toward the docks, and Emara’s heart sank. “The outer wall… It’s fallen.”

“Yes. Faveno is completely surrounded.” Sweat streaked down the wrinkles in Gunther’s swarthy countenance. “You must go now if you want to get out. The wharf is the only way.”

Emara looked over her shoulder, scanning the knots of soldiers fleeing the walls. “Did you see Carriette on the way here? She was headed for the outer wall.” Her hands immediately moved to grip the wrist of both Gunther and the man at his side. Gunther bore no wounds, but the gash above the man’s waist would need assistance. She squeezed his hand as she urged the blood to stop flowing and the skin to knit. With a gasp, she grabbed her own side, his pain becoming hers.

“Stop that, Emara. Think of yourself now,” Gunther said, grabbing her shoulder. Beside him, the man straightened, blinking with confusion. Gunther gave her a small push toward the wharf. “You must go.”

“What about Carriette? We sent her to the east spire with supplies.”

“On the outer wall?” Gunther winced. “I’m sorry, my girl. It’s too late for her now.”

Emara looked eastward to the spindly stone tower, and then to the fire that burned from the west—where the Rastgol had breached the city. “They’re not there yet. I can make it.” She snatched up her bow and quiver.

“No! There’s no time! You’ll get stuck out there.”

But Emara was already running.


Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak of Time’s Orphan. Advanced Review e-Copies should be ready when I get it back from the proofreader (hopefully by the end of November)! If you’re interested in one, just drop me a line here or on Twitter/Insta/Tiktok @hayleyreesechow. Time’s Orphan launches on 8 February 2023 and is available for preorder here.

Also keep an eye out for the title and blurb reveal for my YA Sci-fi TOMORROW! 😱 If you’re interested in being part of my street team to help post the reveals and spread the word, please let me know. I could definitely use all the help I can get! 😊 And of course, happy Halloween everyone!

Audiobook Review – Fable


Fable was another solid read that I didn’t love. Fable is the story of a girl abandoned by her ship-captain father on a rough island where she desperately tries to scrape together enough coin to escape and confront her father.

I really loved the concept of this book along with the found-family themes on the rough and tumble high-seas and the subtle magic in an intriguing, unforgiving world. But I found myself really wishing for more connection between Fable and the other characters, particularly the love interest. Told from the first person, Fable seems to stay in her own head a lot, and although everyone in this world is supposed to be reserved and guarded, I really found myself wanting more inter-character interaction and connection.

I think part of the problem might be that this book does not stand alone in any way. I’d say it ends on a cliffhanger, but honestly it doesn’t really feel like an end. It feels like we got cut off in the middle of the book – so maybe the second book would bring that depth and satisfaction I was missing. The audiobook narrator wasn’t my favorite voice, but overall I enjoyed the listen, and would recommend to fans of seafaring YA.

If I see the sequel ever pop up in the library, I’d probably pick it up, but I don’t think I’ll be pining for it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I think Tula has begun to dread the possibility of a reading slump! Ever hopeful, we continue to search the horizon for new, amazing reads.

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – LIFEL1K3


I put this book on my Amazon list after I loved Illuminae and Geminae. I wasn’t crazy about Obsidio, and then Aurora Rising wasn’t really for me, so I guess this was like a tie-breaker for me on Jay Kristoff. And I can say, this was probably my least favorite so far.

Lifelike takes place in a tech-filled dystopia full of androids, logikas, etc. It follows scrappy Eve after she finds a lifelike (basically a high-tech android) and starts getting chased by all kinds of bad. The world was cool, and while I usually like sci-fi slang, it felt a bit too cutesy/light for the bleak setting. Although I loved the action and the world-building, I had trouble connecting with the characters, and I found their quirky catchphrases (“don’t call me little” etc) to be a bit irritating. Even so, I would’ve given it four stars if it weren’t for the ending.

I felt like Eve did a complete 180 in the last 3% that didn’t seem to jive with anything I knew of her character. If you’re a Jay Kristoff fan and looking for a quirky YA sci-fi, I think you’ll probably enjoy this book, but it left me feeling dissatisfied and a bit annoyed, so I don’t think it was quite for me.

 ⭐⭐⭐

Meh.

Thanks for reading!