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21 September 2020

My Autumn To Do List 2020

Tomorrow hails the start of the astronomical autumn, and since I was a bit tied up during the meteorological autumn I figured now is the best time to share my Autumn To Do List.

As I've posted before, autumn is my favourite season. I love the scents and smells and colours and it inspires me so much. I can't wait to get layered up as the days and nights cool down.

My Autumn To Do List 2020

Autumn To Do List

Walk 100 Miles

I'll only have 89 days to do this, so I'll have to get my boots on often! Part of the month will be me recovering from dental surgery, and the days are shorter, so it will be hard to do. But I did the same challenge in the summer on ViewRanger and it was excellent fun, and it's a good way to keep my fitness levels up and explore new places. I love autumn walks.

Rereading Favourites

We all know that I love re-reading books, and I do this most in the autumn. I'm have such a hankering to reread the DCI Ryan books by LJ Ross and now that I have the first four in paperback (gifted) I can do just that. I'm sure they'll inspire some of my walks too.

Bingewatching Shows

I am mid-way through Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace and I can't wait to binge the rest of the episodes on Prime Video (affiliate link). I'm also looking forward to Ghosts returning on BBC because it is excellent fun, and I'm re-watching Bedlam because it's creepy and atmospheric.


I have become a wee bit addicted to Elder Scrolls Online and invested in ESO Plus membership, so I will be taking full advantage of access to all of the DLC packs and the unlimited crafting storage. I've been having a lot of fun creating fictional characters on The Sims too, and I can't wait to play with my neighbourhood of Crescent City characters.

Hot Drinks and Cold Days

This ties in a lot to my walking goal - I'll likely have a flask with me so I can have a hot cuppa on the go. I love warming my hands, watching the steam rise. I can't wait! I do need a new insulated flask though, so if you have any recommendations please let me know.

What do you love most about Autumn?
What's on your Autumn To Do List?

18 September 2020

Book Beginnings: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A Brown

   For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A Brown cover

"Abraa! Abraa! Come and gather - a story is about to begin!"

I couldn't resist buying myself the Fairyloot edition of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A Brown - it's simply stunning. The cover is so pretty and striking, and my copy has gorgeous green sprayed edges.

This book is the first in a new fantasy duology, and aside from that I know nothing as I don't tend to read blurbs. I really appreciate that this book has a note from the author at the front with a list of possible triggers.

This first sentence I think is pretty clever - it sets the scene and indeed a story is about to begin. I like the writing style too, there is something also wistful about this first part told from Malik's perspective.

I'm reading A Song of Wraiths and Ruin for Conquer A Chonker this weekend, at 480 pages it's a Chonky Boi. Wish me luck!

Karina had stopped trying to scale that wall years ago.

This is from page 56 in my finished copy.

I have so many quotes written down from this book already! I am in love.

The characters have their own feel and voice when the perspective switches so I am finding it very easy to follow who is where and who is telling the story.

I know I'm not far through at all, but A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is truly excellent so far and I'm addicted. It'll be difficult to put down for sure.

What are you reading this week?

11 September 2020

Book Beginnings: The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

  For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall.
The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall cover

Long after the sun had set, when the passengers were nestled neatly in their cabins, the crew gathered on the deck of the Dove.

I was sent a free review copy of The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall.

I am so excited for this book. Queer pirates? Yes please.

The cover is absolutely stunning, I adore the details. It's so pretty, I would love it as an art print.

Evelyn's eyes went wide. "Don't you dare burn a book."

This is from page 56 in my review copy.

I am nowhere near this far but I have to agree with Evelyn, they'd better not dare burn a book!

What are you reading this week?

07 September 2020

Audiobook Review: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, narrated by Lesley Manville *AD Gifted

Penguin provided me with access to a digital copy of the audiobook for The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, narrated by Lesley Manville.

I have a thing for "celebrity" novels. They tend to be pretty easy to read and I fly through them. I purposefully seek them out and I keep my expectations middling. Which meant that The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman far exceeded my expectations.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, narrated by Lesley Manville cover

Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves

A female cop with her first big case

A brutal murder

Welcome to…


In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club.

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: Review copy

5 Word Review: Friendship, murder, mystery, retirement, life.

I found that The Thursday Murder Club was an easy read, but I also think this is the cosiest cosy mystery I have ever experienced. And it's truly excellent fun. And quite cleverly written.

Lesley Manville does an excellent job at narrating the story. Her voice suits the character so well and really brought them to life, with slightly different intonation for each when the story is told from their perspective. They were the perfect choice of narrator and I'll be keeping an eye out for other books they have lent their voice to.

The Thursday Murder Club feels very, very British. It is somehow slightly quaint, even being set in a luxurious retirement village. And that retirement village, wow. I would very much like to live at Coopers Chase myself, I'll take the risk. It sounds like heaven, and very expensive.

Some of the characters did grate me a little - mostly in how they played in to stereotypes. It did lend a very recognisable face of sorts to the characters, their flaws and the things that made me dislike them slightly made them all the more real. But I could have done without the cantankerous old man being a knob just because he can!

I kind of need more to the story - it was a really comforting read and I enjoyed the mystery. I would happily join the Thursday Murder Club for more of their investigations.

31 August 2020

NSFWathon Prompts and TBR

This is mostly a booktube readathon, and although I don't fancy filming myself I do fancy taking part. So here we go!

Not Safe For Workathon (or NSFWathon) runs from 1st September to 30th September, and is filled with truly filthy and funny prompts.

Not Safe For Workathon NSFWathon Prompts and TBR

NSFWathon Prompts

The prompts for NSFWathon made me spit out my tea when I first read them, but they really are excellent and imaginative prompts. I'm pretty sure I can hit each of them with mostly the books I already own anyway, which is even better!

G-Spot - mood read a book you think will hit the spot
Orgasm - listen to an audiobook
Golden Shower - read a book with gold on the cover
2 Girls, 1 Cup - read a book recommended by 2+ people
Popper - read a relaxing book that opens you up
Shooting Blanks - randomly select a book from your TBR shelf
Pussy - read a book that has an animal on the cover
Lube - read a book that's easy to glide through
Jaffa-Caking - read a book whilst eating a dessert (or your favourite food)
Clit - read an under-hyped book or one that was hard to find

My NSFWathon TBR

I honestly don't know what I'll be reading, except that it will be romance! I'm only going to count romance reads toward this readathon.

Expect a lot of Mills & Boon, probably more of the Dynastie series if I'm honest because I still have three bind ups to get through. I also picked up one of the Billionaire Boss bind ups so I think that might feature too.

There is one book that I know I will definitely be reading, romantic saga The Dover Cafe at War by Ginny Bell (AD - PR copy) it will probably fulfil the Lube prompt as I find sagas such an easy and comfortable read.

If you have any historical romance recommendations then PLEASE throw them at me. I definitely need some historical romance to go with this thoroughly autumnal weather. Also I need a book with an animal on the cover, so if you know a romance with an animal on the cover throw that at me too.

I am very excited for this readathon!

What are you planning to read in September?

24 August 2020

Book Review: Entangled by Eileen Wilkes

So basically I loved the first Dynasties bind up so much that I had to buy myself the next one. I like the power and the family drama, and all of the warm fuzzies that ensue. Also, the settings are lavish AF.

Dynasties: The Ashtons: Entangled by Eileen Wilkes cover

Cole Ashton has worked so hard to ensure his family’s vineyard is the valley’s premier boutique winery. 

But when graphic designer, and ex-flame, Daisy McCord turns up to work Cole’s thrown into turmoil. 

Both a ready to rekindle their passion but with what aims..?

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Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Family, friendship, lovers, regret, wine.

Dixie is such a fun character - she pushes boundaries and pushes Cole's buttons. She's flirty and sexy and she knows it, the kind of character to put a smile on everyone's face. She's also compassionate and creative, and I love when she was drawing or painting - it felt so real that I wonder if it's a passion of the authors too. It felt almost like I was a painter myself trying to capture someone.

Entangled has lots of nice little moments of quiet - where the characters and their feelings just are. It made this collision of passion even more intimate. I loved the scenes at the cabin, and I kind of want a cabin like that for myself. It sounds perfect.

Cole and Dixie do clash a lot, and at first I wasn't sure if it would pan out between them. Even though this is a romance so it's expected. I liked that they weren't so different after all, and the character development that brought them to that conclusion.

This book has made me really want to drink wine though. I want to sit and eat food paired with small glasses of wine. I want to curl up in front of a fire with my dog and a book and a glass of wine. I want to walk amongst vines and see the whole process. I feel like this will definitely be an ongoing theme for The Ashtons stories!

I can't wait to read more about The Ashtons.

She strolled. He wanted to get where he was going as efficiently as possible.

21 August 2020

Book Beginnings: FOXES by MA Bennett

 For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading FOXES by MA Bennett.
FOXES by MA Bennett cover
Last night I dreamed I went to Longcross again.

If there is one thing that MA Bennett does extremely well, it is first lines. They're always the type to stop you in your tracks, make you pause, hit you hard. And if you've read STAGS or DOGS then this line will definitely hit your hard. And I love that it's a hark back to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a classic novel I have never read past the first chapter of. One day, I will read it all.

I feel like again, you don't have to have read STAGS or DOGS first to read FOXES, but it will be an all round better experience if you have. First you get to experience the majesty that is the story so far, but also you get to know a lot about Greer and the school environment at STAGS.

The cover is perfect - it fits so well with the previous books, I love the colour scheme and the subtle embossing, it's so striking.

You see what I mean about dinner with the upper classes being a battleground?
This is from page 56 in my finished paperback copy.

I am... No where near this part. I literally just started reading it this morning. But I'm curious as to how Greer ends up in this situation.

I am so excited to get properly in to this book, especially as I loved the previous two:

What are you reading this week?

19 August 2020

Q&A with Adalyn Grace

I got the chance to do a Q&A with the author before my copy of All the Stars and Teeth arrived, and now it's here (and having done the Q&A) I'm more excited than ever to read it.

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace: Pirates and Mermaids and Magic, oh my!

Q&A with Adalyn Grace

Q&A with Adalyn Grace

Can you describe All the Stars and Teeth in five words?

Magic, pirate, adventure, man-eating mermaids!

What inspired you to write the All the Stars and Teeth?

Amora, the main character of the story, was the initial inspiration for the book.

At the time, I knew nothing about the world or the magic; all I knew is that there was a girl on a ship who, more than anything, wanted an adventure.

Amora came into my head as this brazen and ruthless girl who didn’t abide by any of the typical gender roles that are so often forced upon young women. I wrote her during this time when Game of Thrones was airing, and there was all this nonsense about how Arya Stark was so amazing while Sansa was annoying—because Sansa loved the idea of dating and court politics, while Arya was drawn to swords and fighting. It was very clear that in the minds of way too many, girls who liked dresses and dating were considered weak and worthless. It was as though, to be considered powerful as a woman, who had to shun all things considered “girly.” It felt very much like you could only be one role or the other, and that the “girly” role was very much considered “less than.” Amora was created in response to this. I wanted her to be the epitome of both of these things that are often portrayed in the media as polar opposites. She loves weapons and being in the thick of action, but doesn’t need to give up her gowns and makeup. To be fierce, she doesn’t need to turn up her nose at the idea of courting. In fact, she loves dating and getting attention. I didn’t want Amora to be a “not like other girls” character. I wanted her to just be a girl—one who’s messy, who likes many different things and is strong in many different ways, and who is unapologetically herself.

Which of your characters would you most like to sit down and have a cuppa with?

I would absolutely choose Vataea, the mermaid character from the book! I think her stories would be incredible, and imagine I’d either be gasping in disbelief or laughing the entire time I was with her. Everyone else would certainly be fun to hang out with, but Vataea is just so fascinating and vibrant, and I know it’d be a great time.

What magic would you choose for yourself?

I’ve thought about this quite a bit, and I’d choose enchantment magic! Can you imagine never having to spend time to get ready? I could have my makeup and hair done in seconds! And as anyone with curly hair knows, that would be a miracle. I also think the magic is so versatile, and would love to have it in my daily life. I recently bought some wigs because I wanted to see what I’d look like with fun hair colors without the commitment. With enchantment magic, I’d never have to commit and could try something new every day! I just think it’d be so much fun and so convenient.

Are you a planner or a pantser?

I started out as a bit of a hybrid. When I wrote All the Stars and Teeth, I outlined the book three chapters ahead at a time, and gave myself quite a bit of room to still explore. Now, I’m a pretty thorough outliner. I really love the beat sheet method, and in particular enjoy using the one from Save the Cat. I think pantsing and freewriting can be a lot of fun, but it’s really hard for me to write without knowing where I’m going. If I did that, the whole book would probably just be dialogue and bad jokes

What is your favourite thing about writing?

Outlining and discovering the concept and plot of the book is actually my favorite stage of the process. Everything feels so exciting at this stage! You have this fresh new idea, and it’s flourishing in your head. That said, that idea goes nowhere unless you actually draft the book, which is my least favorite part! Hahah, I’d love it if the idea from my head could just appear on paper, and then I could spend some time polishing it in edits. But alas!

Finally, what are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?

I recently finished up the sequel, All the Tides of Fate, and I’m so excited to get to share the conclusion of Amora’s story with everyone! Beyond that, I’m working on a project that’s a bit darker, and more romantic. I can’t talk about them too much just yet, but I’m having so much fun with it and am dying to talk about it publicly. Hopefully I’ll be able to soon!

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace cover

Will you be reading All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace?

17 August 2020

Book Review: My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh

I found My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh pretty much by accident. I was just scanning Twitter, hoping to find a deal, when someone tweeted that it was only 99p on Kindle. I can't always read ebooks, but at 99p I bought it for a good brain day. And luckily for me, I hit one the next week and jumped right in.

My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh cover

Lady Grace Wyatt is content as a wallflower, focusing on scientific pursuits rather than the complications of society matches. But when a handsome, celebrated naturalist returns from abroad, Grace wishes, for once, to be noticed. Her solution: to create the perfect man, to act as her suitor, and help her catch his eye. Grace’s colleague, anthropologist Sebastian Holloway, is just the blank slate she requires.

To further his own research on English society, Sebastian agrees to let Grace transform him from a bespectacled, bookish academic into a dashing - albeit fake - rake. Between secret lessons on how to be a rogue and exaggerated public flirtations, Grace’s feelings for Sebastian grow from friendship into undeniable, inconvenient, real attraction. If only she hadn’t asked him to help her marry someone else...

Sebastian is in love with brilliant, beautiful Grace, but their bargain is complete, and she desires another. Yet when he’s faced with losing her forever, Sebastian will do whatever it takes to tell her the truth, even if it means risking his own future - and his heart.

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Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Society, academia, expectation, love, friendship.

I was so incredibly impressed with My Fake Rake. It took a lot of commonly used tropes and dropped them on their heads. It was clever and fun and I barely had a smile off my face the whole time I was reading.

Eva Leigh is one of those authors where I know (ish) what I'm getting in to before I pick up the book. I know I'll enjoy the story and the characters, and with it being romance I know there will be a happy ending. And I know that I utterly adore their writing style so I'm in for a real treat. I highlighted over 100 passages.

My Fake Rake is legitimately one of the most fun books I have read for a long time. It had me giddy with excitement, I got so caught up in Grace and Sebastian's relationship and the back and forth hesitation between them is perfection.

I loved the play on fake-dating. I loved the make-over scene and the coaching and the hilarity that ensues. My Fake Rake is cheesy and it doesn't pretend not to be. There's a bit of nostalgia to the writing and Grace did often remind me of Evelyn from The Mummy with her sharp quips.

I think one of my favourite things was how Grace and Mason's interactions kind of mirrored Seb and Grace's. It was cute, the realisations they came to. And I something I really enjoyed was the exploration of Seb's anxiousness, and how he worked within himself to try and overcome it.

I loved how much actual science there was in the story. These two inquisitive minds are so awkward and it's the cutest. And fascinating too, seeing how society judges them so differently for it. The anthropological lens of Seb was fun to read,

I can't wait to read more Union of the Rakes books.

A burr of anger flared within her, that a woman could not exist in this world on her own. She would always be subject to a man’s munificence, always be less than because she’d been born a female.

14 August 2020

Book Beginnings: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas

 For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas.
House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas cover
There was a wolf at the gallery door.
I am reading House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas for Series Crackdown. It is the team read (Go Team Beasts!) and fulfilling my Fantasy and Read With A Snack prompts.

Confession: I have read the first chapters of House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas before. I read a five chapter provided by the publisher for free on NetGalley back in February.

Confession: For the longest time I thought that this book was called Crescent City, and that's down to the cover. The series name is so prominent compared to the book title, and it's a bit weird. The cover though is stunning. I am in love with the intricate illustration, although the colour version on the inside end papers is my favourite rendition.

I like the first line. It's striking and really grabs your attention.
Going on a date with Connor in a few days didn't mean she had to behave.
This is from page 56 in my finished phardback copy.

This is pretty much as far as I read previously so I'm excited to see exactly what's going to happen next in this 800 page monster. Especially with what happens at the end of this chapter.

What are you reading this week?

12 August 2020

Book Review: Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn *AD Gifted

Zephyr sent me a free review copy of Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn. I also received a gorgeous hardback copy in an Illumicrate box.

I didn't know anything about this book when it first landed on my door step, but as I unwrapped it and read the synopsis I was intrigued. And this book blew my expectations out of the water. Or through a wall and into the water.

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn cover, dark green with a small light green and gold hot air balloon in the top centre and black-gloved hands in the top corner holding silver thread that flows to the bottom and ends with a needle dripping blood. Centre bottom is a guillotine.

Camille, a revolutionary's daughter, leads a band of outcasts – a runaway girl, a deserter, an aristocrat in hiding. As the Battalion des Mortes they cheat death, saving those about to meet a bloody end at the blade of Madame La Guillotine.

But their latest rescue is not what she seems.

The girl's no aristocrat, but her dark and disturbing powers means both the Royalists and the Revolutionaries want her. But who and what is she?

In these dangerous days, no one can be trusted, everyone is to be feared. As Camille learns the truth, she's forced to choose between loyalty to those she loves and the future.

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Source: NetGalley, Review Copy

5 Word Review: Revolution, escape, power, injustice, choices.

Content Warnings: Human experimentation, execution, violence, gore.

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn could be the most fun heist novel I have ever read. Filled with fascinating history, a touch of the fantastical, and death-cheating disaster gays, it's a proper romp that I couldn't put down. It plays a lot with the history (it is fantasy after all) but it truly felt like the streets of Revolutionary Paris came to life.

I loved the romance between Camille and Ada, and I don't think I could pick between them if I had to decide on a favourite. I love Camille's determination and Ada's scientific mind. I loved the soft scenes and romantic thoughts from them, even as they went through so much.

The pace is incredible. This book is truly unputdownable, a real page-turner. I found that I read it very quickly, almost in a single sitting. It didn't feel like over 400 pages, and I was a bit shocked to find I'd reached the end. I really do need more and can't wait to see what happens next. If it's even the tiniest bit as exhilarating I know I will love it.

I do have to admit that at times the story made me hungry. Whether they were in a cafe drinking wine or throwing chunks of stale bread at each other, I somehow felt the hunger of the characters.

If you loved the narrow streets of Ketterdam in Six of Crows you will love the atmospheric streets of Paris in Dangerous Remedy.

29 July 2020

Audiobook Review: Critical by Dr Matt Morgan *AD Gifted

Simon & Schuster Audio UK sent me a free audio review copy of Critical by Matt Morgan via NetGalley.

I'd had my eye on this book anyway since I'd heard good things since its release, so when it came to testing out the new NetGalley app to see if it would work for me, I jumped at the chance to request it. The app doesn't work so well for me, but the audiobook certainly did.

Critical by Dr Matt Morgan cover, surgeons peering down from above, masks on and tools in hand.

Following in the wake of hugely successful medical memoirs such as Do No Harm and Fragile Lives, Critical is an intelligent, compelling and profoundly insightful journey into the world of intensive care medicine and the lives of people who have forever been changed by it.

Being critically ill means one or more of your vital organs have failed - this could be your lungs, your heart, your kidneys, your gut or even your brain. Starting with the first recognised case in which a little girl was saved by intensive care in 1952 in Copenhagen, Matt writes brilliantly about the fascinating history, practices and technology in this newest of all the major medical specialties. Matt guides us around the ICU by guiding us around the body and the different organs, and in this way, we learn not only the stories of many of the patients he’s treated over the years but also about the various functions different parts of the body.

He draws on his time spent with real patients, on the brink of death, and explains how he and his colleagues fight against the odds to help them live. Happily many of his cases have happy endings, but Matt also writes movingly about those cases which will always remain with him - the cases where the mysteries of the body proved too hard to solve, or diagnoses came too late or made no difference to the outcome.

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Source: NetGalley, Review Copy

5 Word Review: Health, medicine, history, research, dedication.

Doctor Matt Morgan narrates the book himself and does an excellent job - the anecdotes are particularly poignant with the inflection of personal experience. I loved the narration, the emotion and the pace. I like when authors narrate their own books, it add extra life and meaning to the audiobooks.

I think this is a difficult one to review - while it was fascinating it also felt deeply personal, and absolutely heartbreaking at times. It's a pretty harrowing read and the stories about the patients are full of heart. They were actual people, with lives and families and unexpected tragedy waiting just around the corner.

I loved the dives into medical history and innovation, from when ICU first starting becoming a thing in hospital and all of the gruelling work put in my doctors and nurses and students, and yes the patients too. I liked how it was split up into different parts of the body, the different parts that could go wrong and how the care can differ.

This is an excellent audiobook and perfect for fans of This is Going to Hurt and Unnatural Causes.

24 July 2020

Book Beginnings: Wonderland by Juno Dawson

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Wonderland by Juno Dawson.
Wonderland by Juno Dawson

Wake up, Alice.

This book was bought as a reward for myself for getting to the dentist and making it through an emergency appointment despite my phobia. It is also one of my most anticipated reads. I was previously provided with a free NetGalley copy by the publisher but my chronic illness prevented me from reading.

I utterly adored Clean and Meat Market, and I'm very excited to read the final part of this universe.

I like this first line, it's very mysterious. I can't wait to see how this pans out.

I am a teeny tiny bit disappointed in the cover - there's no foil! There is gorgeous embossing and spot UV and I love the colours. It is a truly gorgeous cover and I think it sets the tone really well for the story ahead.

I haven't thought that far ahead. "I... I'm not sure." I lean closer to her. "Do you know how to get to Wonderland?"
This is from page 56 in my finished paperback copy.

I can't wait to get up to this part of the story and find out more about Wonderland.

What are you reading this week?

17 July 2020

Book Beginnings: The Beholder by Anna Bright

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading The Beholder by Anna Bright.

Once upon a time always began on nights like tonight.
I  got this book in a Fairyloot box in May 2019 and I absolutely adored it. I even shared my five favourite quotes from The Beholder by Anna Bright. But I'm a year on from reading it and falling in love, and my pre-order of the sequel The Boundless has just arrived. So it's time for a reread.

I feel like this first line really sets the tone for the story. You immediately get a slightly wry hint that maybe fairytales aren't straight forward. It sets the scene too, I immediately picture an almost perfect night with twinkling lights and happy thoughts.

I could stare at this cover forever. It gives me Black Sails vibes, and I love the intricacies. The more I stare, the more details come out. It's truly stunning.

When my home was out of sight, I stood by myself, avoiding the gazes of the soldiers hustling around the deck and imagining how ridiculous I must look, filthy and staggering around in a ruined dress, one glittering shoe in hand..
This is from page 57 in my finished hardback copy (page 56 is blank).

This part of the story is where things truly take a turn. I love how this line echoes back to the familiar fairytal Cinderella, and how this captures how Selah feels in the moment. I think it's very cleverly written and perfect for this scene.

I can't put in to words how much I love this book, this story. The Beholder by Anna Bright is truly beautiful and I am so happy to be reading it again. I love the slow build and burn of the story, and t he epic adventure within the pages.

What are you reading this week?

10 July 2020

Book Beginnings: The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis.
The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis
It was easier, she'd been told, if you kept a tune in your head.
I bought this book back in April as a bit of a "cheer up" present to myself. Although it's not actually very cheery, it's just a book I know I'll love.

I love this first line. It captures the author's gorgeous writing style and immediately gets you wondering: what's easier?

The cover for this book is stunning, the foiling is exquisite and I could stare at it all day.

He sat heavily on the bed, muttered a low curse, and fell back. Aster hurried to his side. His eyes were half open but unseeing, his words faint and incomprehensible. If he wasn't already asleep, he would be soon.
This is from page 56 in my finished paperback copy.

I just... The story has me gripped. I am so invested in what's happening to the girls, what's going to happen, how everything will play out.

This is a very dark book and content warnings so far include sex trafficking, sex slavery, attempted rape, and sustance abuse. It is definitely not an easy read.

What are you reading this week?

08 July 2020

Book Review: Dark Blue Rising by Teri Terry *AD Gifted

Hodder Children's Books sent me a free electronic review copy of Dark Blue Rising by Teri Terry via NetGalley.

Dark Blue Rising is the first book in The Circle Trilogy and it is everything I could have hoped for. It's fast paced and a bit of a wild read, and it's very cleverly written. I absolutely loved it and can't wait for more.

Dark Blue Rising by Teri Terry cover
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Tabby lives a transient life with her mum Cate, never sticking in one place long enough to make friends.

Until one day, an accident changes everything. Cate is arrested and Tabby realises her life has been a lie: Cate is not her mother.

As she adjusts to her new life, Tabby finds herself drawn to the ocean - the only place she feels happy - and enrolls at a swimming summer school to help her heal.

But all is not as it seems. She and her new friends are cut off from the outside world and she's plagued by a repeating symbol of interlocking circles that follows her everywhere.

As Tabby begins to learn the truth about what the circles mean, and uncovers the terrible lies she's been told about her past, a final twist awaits her - a secret hidden in her DNA...

Source: NetGalley, Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, belonging, power, secrets, responsibility.

When I saw that there was a new Teri Terry I did a bit of a scream and ran to tell Charlotte so she could request it too. Then I picked it for her TBR and she read it before me, so when I did finally manage to read it she was subjected to all of my thoughts and swears. There were a lot.

Dark Blue Rising is dark and twisting and just when you think you've got things figured out BAM CURVEBALL. It's a truly exhilarating read that had me longing for the seaside. It's fast paced and full of action, but I loved that there were also softer scenes of thoughts and feelings - emotions are definitely not set aside to maintain the pace.

I loved the settings in Dark Blue Rising. The contrast of Tabby's transient life and that of her new/old home was brilliant and I think it helped portray her confusion and alienation more. Then we have the school, which was a whole  new layer of sinister.

This make you really think about the ethics of technological progression. It is one of my absolute favourite themes in Teri Terry's books, the way such issues and the darker side of them are explored. The fact that what happens in these books seems so real, that it could actually happen in a matter of years, makes it all the more sinister.

If you have read any Teri Terry books before, then know that there is a cat in this book. And if you've read her books before, especially the Slated or Contagion series, then you will know that cats mean something.

I loved that despite the dark themes and settings and happenings, Dark Blue Rising still has some hope in the story.

I utterly adored this book, and I can't wait for my pre-order to arrive so I can read it again and see that beautiful cover in person.

06 July 2020

What's in my Grab and Go Bag?

Stripes Books sent me a review copy of The Rules by Tracy Darnton.

I raced through The Rules, reading it in a single day. It's the Prepper Thriller that I never knew I needed in my life. I loved Amber's story and I loved how she has all of her reasoning behind what she has prepared at all times, but also has a little spark of defiance against her upbringing with impractical non-essentials.

What's in my Grab and Go Bag? The Rules Tracy Darnton

Inspired by The Rules, I'm sharing my own grab and go bags, with a little twist. I have a chronic illness so I always have a hospital bag ready to go just in case. I also utterly adore being outside and exploring and often on a Friday after work I would just up and away on an adventure.

So here we go, this is a peek inside my grab and go bags and a little bit about why I've included some of the items.

What's in my Grab and Go Bag?

What's in my Grab and Go Bag? The Rules Tracy Darnton

There are some things that I keep on a table next to my bag or in my handbag at all times - the things I feel are absolutely essential. This includes my lovely dragon skin medicine bag, which also houses a letter about my existing conditions and a toothbrush. I also have a compact first aid kit that lives in the car.

Always On Me

  • Medicine Bag
  • Portable Charger and Cables
  • Ear Phones
  • Scrunchie
  • Roll-On Perfume
  • Lip Balm
  • Misting Fan

I usually use a hair stick for my hair, but that's not really suitable in some situations so I switch it out for a scrunchie. That way I'm not jabbing myself in the back of the head or accidentally piercing an inflatable sleeping mat.

Grab and Go Hospital Bag

What's in my Grab and Go Bag? Hospital Bag

This is probably my most important piece of preparedness, and I was beyond thankful in March and April this year when I was in and out of hospital. Having this bag ready at all times means that if the worst happens and I end up in hospital, if I can't get the bag myself then it's easy for someone to bring it to me.

In The Bag

  • Slippers
  • Nice Pyjamas
  • Metal Free Comfy Bra
  • A Good Book
  • Notebook and Pen
  • Hand Cream
  • Roll On Deodorant
  • Soothing/Moisturising Face Spray
  • Mints
  • Tissues
  • Spare Undies (not pictured)

I very specifically pack my nicest pyjamas in my hospital bag - I always feel very judged by my nightwear on a ward, and it helps that they're 100% cotton so I can stay cool. I tend to end up needing MRIs and CT Scans so my metal free bra has had me about weeping with joy in the past. When you're in hospital it can be pretty terrifying but the extra layer makes me feel so much better. Also, it has dinosaurs on. Rawr. 

The air in hospitals and the constant washing of hands really dries my skin out, so I have hand cream that I apply regularly and some soothing mist that I can spray on my face to refresh myself with.

I pretty much always have a book on my person any way, or my kindle, but I make sure that the one in my hospital bag is something I'll be totally gripped by, because I need that distraction. Then I have a notebook and pen because I have a few cognitive and executive function issues and it helps to write everything down, especially if I've been given painkillers. 

Grab and Go Adventure Bag

What's in my Grab and Go Bag? Adventure Bag

This bag just has the essentials that I really need if I'm running off last minute because I found an excellent deal at lunch time on a Friday.

I like to keep things light for my adventure bag and keep spare space in my bag as I'm a bit of a magpie and if it's a break to a city like Edinburgh I'll come back with all sorts of souvenirs. Also I pick up snacks at the station, because who doesn't love a makeshift train picnic.

I'm quite sad that I haven't been able to use this bag for a while, and I can't wait to be able to grab it again in the future when I head out on an adventure.

In The Bag

  • Outdoor Trousers
  • Walking Socks
  • T-Shirt
  • Notebook and Pen
  • Torch
  • Factor 50 Sun Cream
  • 96 Hour Deodorant
  • Antibacterial Wipes
  • Tissues
  • Spare Undies (not pictured)

The Outdoor Trousers are one of my absolute favourite things to wear any time because they have so any pockets, but they're also showerproof and light-weight enough that I can comfortably wear them even during the summer. The walking socks mean I can rock a bit of a cottagecore vibe while not getting blisters, and the t-shirt is mostly because I always need a spare.

I have very rarely gone without a shower, as even the most basic camp sites tend to have one, but on those rare occasions that I have the super-long-lasting deodorant was a godsend. The anti-bacterial wipes are a just in case thing, I think I've used one in an entire year. I have quite fair skin and burn easily so although I apply factor 50 daily anyway I keep this one tucked away for when I'm away from home.

I have a special little notebook where I list my adventures and my plans and little moments I'm especially grateful for. It's holding up remarkably well considering how often it's rained on.

Do you have a Grab and Go Bag?

22 June 2020

Book Review: Marrying His Runaway Heiress by Therese Beharrie

I was browsing the True Love latest releases on the Mills & Boon website when I came across Marrying His Runaway Heiress by Therese Beharrie. I was looking for something heartwarming and passionate, and this sounded like it fit the bill.

I was not disappointed.

Marrying His Runaway Heiress by Therese Beharrie coverAdd to Goodreads button

A diamond isn’t forever…

… Until it’s from the right man!

For journalist and heiress Elena John, heading to Italy on assignment is her chance to avoid her impending arranged marriage.

But Micah Williams, the star of her article, is nothing like the uptight tycoon she’s been told to expect, and alone in Italy she falls under his charming spell.

Their time’s almost over, but Micah’s not ready to let her walk away…

His proposal? A convenient counteroffer!

Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Honesty, family, wealth, expectation, Italy.

I flew through this. It was exactly what I needed to cheer myself up.

Although there is instant attraction between the characters, the build-up of their relationship takes a little more time. The lust is there, the distraction, the physical attraction. The trust builds a lot more slowly and I really felt like we got to know the characters.

It is a bit of a whirlwind romance, things happen so quickly. I was almost out of breath just reading about the travels that Elena and Micah undertake in a single week.

Something I really enjoyed was the fashion in this book. Elena uses her clothes and accessories as an extension of herself and it's a really powerful bit of characterisation. I loved her unconventional wedding outfit, it sounded incredible.

Marrying His Runaway Heiress has such a satisfying ending, that honestly I didn't see coming. I know that romances have happy endings, but I really liked the way this one came about and it threw me a bit in the best of ways.

Where would you go on a romantic holiday?

17 June 2020

Book Review: Blood & Sand by CV Wyk

I got Blood & Sand by CV Wyk in an Illumicrate box a couple of years ago. It immediately caught my interest but ended up being pushed down my TBR for Reasons. Now I'm a little gutted, as I could have experienced it earlier!

This fantastic re-imagined Spartacus is fulfilling my second prompt from my Make Your Myth-Taker ReadathonTBR, read a book with a weapon on the cover.

Blood & Sand by CV Wyk coverAdd to Goodreads button

Forged in battle, from the dust of the arena, a legend will rise...

Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire―an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end ― and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus... 

Source: Purchase, Illumicrate

5 Word Review: Power, strength, survival, attraction, freedom, rebellion.

Content warning: Gore, violence, slavery.

If you know anything about the legend of Spartacus, then you'll vaguely know where this is going. If you have seen the TV series based on the legend, then you'll have an idea of how bloody this book is.

Blood & Sand is bloody and brutal and violent. And it's absolutely excellent.

I wasn't sure how a gender-switched Spartacus would work when I first heard of this book, but it did make me excited. And if anything it exceeded my expectations.

Now, I'm not a fan of gore and violence. I usually shy away from it, go for something softer. But the pace in this book was so relentless that I couldn't help but read (and even enjoy?!) the fight scenes. As much as my toes were curling, I was caught up in the action. And the small soft romance hiding in the story was beautiful to read, especially against the backdrop of such violence.

Attia is a fantastically complex character. She's strong in mind and body, she's a fighter in every sense of the word, and she's whip smart, She was a joy to read.

Also the hardback cover is gorgeous shiny foil, almost like fire. It is so pretty.

My only wish is that I had read this sooner so that I could have raved about it back then. It is absolutely outstanding and I recommend it to everyone. If you enjoyed Grace & Fury then you will enjoy this.

What's your favourite historical retelling?

15 June 2020

Book Review: To Win His Highland Wife by Elisabeth Hobbes

Back in May I reviewed A Runaway Bride For The Highlander by Elisabeth Hobbes. It was a book I enjoyed immensely, so when I found To Win His Highland Wife By Elisabeth Hobbes as a free read on the Mills & Boon website you can bet that I was straight on it.

This is a short story, and absolutely worth the read. It's fun more than anything, with an excellent slow-building romance. I'd definitely recommend it! To read it, and a host of other free romance books, all you need to do is register for the Mills & Boon website.

To Win His Highland Wife by Elisabeth Hobbes cover
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As the future Laird of Lochmore, Hamish Lochmore needs a wife.

So he enters a competition to win the hand of a woman he doesn’t know, let alone love. Hamish is determined to win, especially if he can defeat his arch enemy, Malcolm McCrieff. Until he encounters Annis Gowen, on a mission of her own.

Dressed as a boy, Annis hopes to wreak revenge on Malcolm for betraying her, and only Hamish can protect her from Malcolm’s rage. Soon Hamish is in love and marriage to a stranger is losing its appeal.

Maybe, he can find a wife by other means…

Source: Free

5 Word Review: Family, responsibility, secrets, escape, pride.

For being a short story, only 20 chapters, To Win His Highland Wife is an excellent slow-burn and a bit of an adventure.

It's a very fun story. Annis is proud and brave trying to get revenge against her betrayer.  I loved her strong will and her determination, how steadfast she was. I also loved her moments of vulnerability and how Hamish was part of them.

I really enjoyed the chemistry between the characters. I loved Hamish's confusion as what he felt of Annis when she was disguised, it was really cute watching him trying to figure things out.

This is a passionate story with passionate characters, and I love the Lochmore stories. I will absolutely seek more of them out!

To Win His Highland Wife by Elisabeth Hobbes is a great short historical romance. It's fun and adventurous and a bit of a compulsive read. I almost wish it was longer, but it was pretty perfect as it is. And it was free. I love a free romance book.

What's your favourite historical time period?