Tag Archives: Holly & Andrew

Top 16 Books of 2016

2016 was a good year for me – I got to read a lot of books, both new and old. So here is a list of my favourite sixteen reads for this year.

falling-pomegranate-seeds16. Falling Pomegranate Seeds by Wendy J. Dunn
This is the first historical fiction that I have ever had the privilege of reading, and it has almost made me a convert. The topic is dense and heart-wrenching, but there is such a strength to the characters, that you can’t help but fall in love. The fact that Dunn used real historical figures to create her masterpiece of women’s rights, the relationships of mothers and daughters and a beautiful tale of coming of age just added to the poignancy of this tale.

skinwalker15. Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
I loved the new take on Native American skinwalkers in this story. The fact that it primarily focused on a woman of a minority culture was a great added bonus. To add to the great basis of fantasy, this story was dark and slightly twisted, but frankly honest about it’s chief protagonist – she was never painted as pure, but rather as a flawed human being.


Wickedly Powerful14. Wickedly Powerful by Deborah Blake
I found this series this year, and it completely changed my previously sceptical view on paranormal romance. Of the three books and five stories, this was by far my favourite. The lead Baba Yaga in this tale was far pricklier and more awkward around people than the others, and the love interest was a victim of mental illness – PTSD. This combined to create a beautiful love story with a potent message about PTSD that I cherished.

haunted13. Haunted by Kelley Armstrong
I love the Women of the Otherworld series – the heroines are not in any way, shape or form innocent and “good”. At least as books traditionally portray people. Instead they have their own challenges in life and difficulties. Eve Levine of Haunted has so far been my favourite of these characters. She is dead, but that doesn’t stop her from constantly attempting to help and guard her young daughter. This at the beginning of the story appears to be her only redeeming aspect, and as the story progresses, the true depth of her character is slowly revealed. It is a story that will make you fall in love with a flawed woman and this series again and again and again.

Raelia12. Raelia by Lynette Noni
A great sequel to the first Medoran Chronicles story, Raelia is all about the choices that we make. The storyline in this is so much more intense which is why I rated it slightly above the first book in the series, Akarnae. The ability of this story to capture my attention was immensely impressive, and I am constantly double checking what the release date for the next book in the series is.

The One11. The One by Kiera Cass
This story can make anyone believe in true love again. It is the sweetest, most charming love story I have ever read. Although, it doesn’t go over board with the sappy factor. The dystopian future setting helps to create a more fantastical and enhanced world than our own, which I thoroughly enjoyed and the creation of the caste system seriously made me question how I view and judge others. However, it is America and Maxon’s dance of romance that truly had me hooked and this story let me find out how their negotiation of love ended.

bad-blood10. Bad Blood by Lucienne Diver
I have an obsession with mythology, so any story or series that does a good job of recreating one of the ancient mythologies is going to get my attention. However, Diver’s approach to this was so completely unique that I was mesmerised from the first page. The sass and smart-mouthed attitude of the lead only added to my very quick falling for this series. As did her unique ancestry.


Kicking It9. Forked Tongues by Rachel Caine
This was one of the best short stories that I read this year – it combined fantasy with a strong woman and love. Not an easy combination to throw into less than one hundred pages. The image of a Cowboy Witch has stuck in my head since I read this months ago. A great, easy read to bunker down with for half hour or so.



body-double8. Body Double by Tess Gerritsen
The best crime book that I have read this year by far. Not only is it a tale of spine-tingling criminal acts, but it also investigates the nature versus nurture debates – one of my favourite intellectual discussions. Maura’s slow discovery of who she comes from and who she is highlights this, but it also reminds us that we are who we choose to be, not who other people want us to be. The strength of both Maura and Jane throughout the story is astonishing and admirable – it is so easy to imagine them walking around the streets of Boston.

night-shift7. Night Shift edited by Nalini Singh
A great way to find new authors and series is anthologies, which was partly why I bought this collection. I didn’t know that it would introduce me to one of my favourite series. Not one of these four short stories was even remotely tedious, and it was incredibly difficult to decide which author I wanted to read more of. The variety in the stories was enough that they were fascinating tales, but the underlying themes present in all of them still tied the anthology together nicely.

Queen of Shadows6. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
The Throne of Glass series is such an epic tale of war, love, loss and inner strength, so any book in this series could make it onto this list. However, I loved Queen of Shadows the most because Aelin is able to truly embrace her future and role in life. She is also able to find someone who sees her for who she is and truly accept the fact. One battle in this series is finally over, but a much, much larger one is looming in the future.

black-wings5. Black Wings by Christina Henry
So much sass and blundering in this story, which is probably why I love it so much. There is something that I find so relatable about an uncoordinated heroine that makes me fall in love with a story – probably because I myself am more than a little accident prone. The use of old lore such as Gremlins and Fallen Angels was also a unique spin on a tale of paranormal fantasy.


lirael4. Lirael by Garth Nix
I have always felt insanely connected to the character of Lirael in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series. She doesn’t quite belong with the people she calls family, and is always an outcast. Even after she finds her true calling in life, she walks a lonely path and isn’t quite able to relate to her peers. Yet, for all of that, I don’t think that her story is a sad one, rather one about finding out who you are and how you fit in the world. And realising that not everyone is going to fit in with others very well.

on-the-prowl3. Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs
I have been in love with Patricia Briggs for a long time now, but there is something about the novella Alpha and Omega that holds my attention every single time. Anna and Charles truly have love and first sight, but it has such a great twist to it. Add to that the fact that they both have some pretty serious inner demons, and it is a really sweet tale of overcoming the odds and finding that perfect fit in your life. Even if it is the last fit that you would expect.

magic-breaks2. Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews
It was so incredibly difficult to choose a favourite story in the Kate Daniels series. I’ve loved every single tale and would check the post office religiously when a new book was going to be delivered. However, I think that this is a good selection. Kate and Curran are not only battling for the children of their people, but they are also being forced to deal with the challenges of a new relationship. I got so emotionally invested in this story that I actually threw it across the room whenever it bothered me.

mine-to-possess1. Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh
Tales of paranormal romance are a new genre to me, and this series is a GREAT introduction. Like the Kate Daniels series, it was incredibly hard to find a favourite, but ultimately, this is the book that I found the sweetest and continue to think about. Aside from the rest of the developing Psy-Changeling drama, the story of Clay and Tally is what a lot of people dream of. Finding that one person in childhood who will always be yours – someone who is able to always understand you on an entirely different level.

So there you have it, my favourite stories from my reading list for 2016. I can’t wait to find some more great tales in the new year!

Feature image source: Now! Bali
Image 1 source: Amazon
Image 2 source: Amazon

Image 3 source: Deborah Blake
Image 4 source: Goodreads
Image 5 source: Lynette Noni
Image 6 source: Wikia
Image 7 source: Goodreads
Image 8 source: Penguin
Image 9 source: Amazon
Image 10 source: Audiobooks
Image 11 source: Live Journal
Image 12 source: Christina Henry
Image 13 source: Garth Nix
Image 14 source: Patricia Briggs
Image 15 source: Ilona Andrews
Image 16 source: Pinterest

Forked Tongues by Rachel Caine


Kicking It

Title: Forked Tongues
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: Holly & Andrew #3
In: Kicking It (Faith Hunter & Kalayna Price)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect),
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Roc
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: And that was when the devil dog opened its red eyes and stepped out of the shadows ten feet ahead of us.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide


New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine has modern-day potions witches Holly and Andrew facing off against a firebrand politician who wears literally killer boots in a Texas-sized rodeo of trouble.


I would love for this short story to be part of a much bigger series – it caught me and fascinated me in the first paragraph. I thoroughly enjoyed the urban fantasy setting and the idea of witches each having his or her own type of power – they have limitations, just like everyone else. Caine was able to build a wonderfully realistic world that sat perfectly within our own.

Holly and Andy are a gorgeous, simplistic couple. I love the simplicity of their relationship in this story and their acceptance of one another – they are able to work side by side to overcome obstacles in a self-efficient, unassuming manner. Combine this wholesome relationship with a gun-toting man of the West who also has witch powers and you have a winning blend.

There are so many stories that remind us that the ‘us vs them’ mentality can have severe consequences and truly hurt the innocent. Caine’s third Holly & Andrew short story is no different. The chief antagonist is the embodiment of using others’ fear of the different to attack and vilify a minority group. Writing about this from the minority’s point of view is a great way in which to remind us that just because someone or something is different, it doesn’t mean that it is bad.

 <- Holly’s Balm Review Kicking It Review ->
Image source: Penguin

Holly’s Balm by Rachel Caine



Title: Holly’s Balm
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: Holly & Andrew #2
In: Hex Appeal (P.N. Elrod)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: I felt abandoned, nevertheless.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide


Holly and Andrew’s love is tested in the next instalment in this fantastic short stories series.


Another great short Holly & Andrew story, but this time, it’s their relationship that is tested. Hanging on to life for the sake of someone you love is admirable, but it also means that there can be some pretty severe consequences if something goes awry. Caine uses Holly’s Balm to test the limits of love and trust in a uniquely trialled way.

Caine showed in her previous short story, Death Warmed Over, that she has an amazing grasp on the ways in which death and legal legislation was able to work in a world where raising the dead is a reality. It is always a pleasure when such seemingly minor details are worked out so intricately and fully that it is incredibly fulfilling and satisfactory to read.

This non-ambiguity within Caine’s world further lends itself to the serial killer theme within this tale. The idea of re-killing the dead left goosebumps marching up my arms in uncomfortable anticipation of the story’s climax.

 <- Death Warmed Over Review Forked Tongues Review ->
Image source: Succubus

Death Warmed Over by Rachel Caine



Title: Death Warmed Over
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: Holly & Andrew #1
In: Strange Brew (P.N. Elrod)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: Sam Twist wasn’t answering – not his phone, his cell, or his secret emergency number.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide


A witch with a penchant for raising the dead, raises an old cowboy witch from the West.


The overarching message in this short story is that love can conquer all – even death. That is, if you have enough power to try. The concept and the story itself is incredibly sweet, and enough to make anyone believe in true love again.

I love Holly’s quiet strength and integrity throughout the piece – she doesn’t wish to re-raise those who are already deceased because of their potential torture and pain. Her unerring ability to do what is right and take care of Andy and the victims of horrific crimes shows her steely resolve and courage. But, it is her compassion and morality which make her such an admirable heroine, one that has made me want to jump further into the worlds of Rachel Caine.

Caine uses this short story beautifully to remind us that death is an integral part of our lives – without death, life doesn’t have the vibrancy and beauty that makes it worth living. Not only is messing with death and somebody’s afterlife seriously frowned upon, but it also can have some serious consequences, not only for the deceased, but those who tamper with it.

 <- Strange Brew Review Holly’s Balm Review ->
Image source: Goodreads