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18 December 2020

Book Beginnings: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow

 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.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow cover illumicrate

There's no such thing as witches, but there used to be. 

I started The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow some time after midnight when I couldn't sleep. It was possibly a mistake as I didn't want to stop reading and managed the prologue and five chapters.

It's off to a great start, and I love the writing style. It's got a fairytale feel to it, and it feels historical and contemporary all at once.

There are some excellent quotes in this book, and the first line is a perfect example. I'm in love.

Juniper looks at her - this little old woman with a powdered wig and a big office on the facncy side of town - and understands perfectly well.

This is from page 56 in my finished hardback copy.

I love the anger and resentment in this scene, the pompousness and the classism. I absolutely love it.

The cover is stunningly detailed, so many small things that take on more significance as you progress in the story.

What are you reading this week?

17 December 2020

Series Crackdown: Festive Fun Readathon Prompts and TBR (and Dartalong)

This is my third time taking part in Series Crackdown and I am yet again super excited! The Festive Fun edition runs from Friday 18th of December to Sunday 27th December. I'll be working five of those days but hope it will be quiet enough for a sneaky audiobook in the background.

I am usually a mood reader, but this time I am planning out a proper TBR. Mostly because I need some structure if I'm going to get the reading done. I will be joining Team Reindeer.

I'll also be taking part in Dartalong alongside this as it runs for some of the same dates. I absolutely love Kushiel's Dart.

Series Crackdown: Festive Fun Readathon Prompts

The Prompts

I am using one book for two prompts, because honestly I think that's the only way I'll get through them! I have been reading rather slowly this year *gestures at world* and although I'm off of work for the festive period I feel like I might need some extra motivation.

  • A Book You Think You'll Love
  • Gathering Dust on Your Shelf
  • A Book That was Gifted to You
  • Red Cover
  • Listen to an Audiobook
  • Read Snuggled Up Warm
  • Read with a Festive Drink/Snack
  • White Cover

I love the prompts, and I know exactly which books to squeeze in to them. It was surprisingly easy to pull my TBR together.


I have been slowly falling back in love with my bookstagram so I'm looking forward to joining in the photo challenge again. I like trying to post every day, as my regular Instagram posting is pretty sporadic.

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  • Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
  • Holy Island by LJ Ross
  • The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow

I am excited for all four of these books to be honest! Two of them will be rereads, but I am very much enjoying rereads at the moment.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden is the team read for Team Reindeer and it's the perfect excuse to read a book that has been gathering dust on a shelf. It's also a book that I think I will love.

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey is one I will read snuggled up warm and with festive drinks and snacks - it's the kind of book that begs for a glass of red wine, and some comforting snacks.

Holy Island by LJ Ross is a book that I bought on audio years ago, but it's also a book I was gifted by the author - she very kindly sent me a paperback copy with the gorgeous new cover. I'm excited to experience the story again (again, again).

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow has both red and white on the cover so err... I'm going to count it! My Illumicrate copy also has gorgeous dark red sprayed edges. I'm being sneaky with this one and reading it with the Illumicrate group readalong, although I'll be starting a day late and playinig catch-up.

The Photo Challenge

I have been slowly falling back in love with my bookstagram so I'm looking forward to joining in the photo challenge again. I like trying to post every day, as my regular Instagram posting is pretty sporadic.

Series Crackdown: Festive Fun Readathon Instagram Photo Challenge

  • Festive TBR
  • Represent Your Team
  • Favourite Christmas Decoration
  • Books and Beverages
  • Christmas Traditions
  • Favourite Festive Film
  • Christmas Eve Traditions
  • Merry Christmas!
  • Books Santa Brought
  • Wrap-Up

I think that the only prompt I'll struggle with is Books Santa Brought, because my family never buys me books as gifts. Maybe a kind internet stranger will buy me something from my bookish wishlist.

Dartalong Schedule

I absolutely love Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey, although at over 900 pages it is a bit of a beast. It's an astonishingly epic fantasy, although it comes with a massive list of content warnings and is absolutely not for everyone.

Date Chapters
19/12 1 - 12
20/12 13 - 24
21/12 25 - 36
22/12 37 - 48
23/12 49 - 60
24/12 61 - 72
25/12 Day Off!
26/12 73 - 84
27/12 85 - 96

So there we have it!

Wish me luck, because I will need it.

Will you be taking part in either of these?
What are your festive reading plans?


14 December 2020

Book Review: Christmas at Court by Blythe Gifford

I bought myself a three book bind up of historical Christmas stories called Tudor Christmas Tidings, and first up is Christmas at Court by Blythe Gifford. I haven't read much historical fiction set in the Tudor period, so I'm excited to see how I like it!

Tudor Christmas Tidings cover Mills & Boon Historical Tudor Romance

Make Merry at Court

…with three Tudor Christmas stories!

In Christmas at Court by Blythe Gifford Sir John Talbot and Lady Alice’s secret betrothal must wait until Henry Tudor claims the throne.

Next in Secrets of the Queen's Lady by Jenni Fletcher the lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves is unexpectedly reunited with a handsome - younger - diplomat at the palace’s festivities!

And in His Mistletoe Lady by Amanda McCabe, Catherine seeks help from a mysterious Spaniard to free her father in time for Christmas!

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Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Family, power, responsibility, love, court. 

This is the first up in the Tudor Christmas Tidings collection, and it is a pretty cute court romance, full of intrigue and plotting.

Christmas at Court by Blythe Gifford covers several tumultuous years at a court in the midst of a power struggle, as the first Tudor king is brought to power.

This is a slow burn romance as it happens over years, but because story is only really told at Christmas in those years it's a surprisingly quick read. The timeline is choppy, but it means that we only get the really good bits - the spark between them when they are together, the slow build of trust, the fast burn of lust, the danger of intrigue.

Alice and John's story is a story to fly through, and the ending is so so lovely.

I'd recommended getting this bind up for this story alone, it was so so good. It did make me want to re-watch The White Princess though.

Every time she closed her eyes, she felt his kiss again, not just on her lips, but on her skin, in her blood. Even - dared she think it? - in her soul.


11 December 2020

Book Beginnings: Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan

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.

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan cover
Kayla Green cranked up the volume on her favourite playlist and blocked out the sound of festive music and laughter wafting under her closed office door. 

It's no secret that Sleigh Bells in the Snow is one of my all time favourite festive books. I first read it about seven years ago, and I come back to it often.

This is such a familiar story that I love so dearly, and I totally understand where Kayla is coming from. I used to be the same when I first read this book, but now I love Christmas.

The landscape was dotted with red barns and white-steepled country churches and the late-afternoon sun sent a wash of light over breathtakingly beautiful forests turned white by snow.

This is from page 56 in my finished paperback copy.

This is where we start to properly see the magic of Snow Crystal, and I love it. I want to go there so badly, even if it is fictional.

What are you reading this week?

07 December 2020

Book Review: A New York Christmas Fairy Tale by Sarah Morgan

I've had my eye on A New York Christmas Fairy Tale by Sarah Morgan for a while now, ever since I spotted it as a free read on the Mills & Boon website back in April. I knew it was perfect for the festive period and I've been eagerly awaiting the longer evenings for the excuse to pick it up.

A New York Christmas Fairy Tale by Sarah Morgan cover Mills & Boon free reads

Roxy has learned the hard way not to believe in fairy tales, but this Christmas she wants her little daughter, Mia, to have everything she's ever dreamed of.

As the snowflakes start to fall over Manhattan, Roxy can no longer deny her own secret dreams - that her gorgeous colleague, James, will kiss her under the mistletoe!

James knows he needs to take things slowly with Roxy - she's been hurt before, and it's not just her heart she's protecting, it's adorable Mia's, too. But as December nights get colder, and the chemistry simmering between them gets hotter, James decides it's time to act!

If Roxy will let him, maybe this Christmas he can make all her dreams come true…

 Read for Free 

Source: Free

5 Word Review: Family, friendship, attraction, work, love.

A New York Christmas Fairytale is a fairly quick read. It's fun and festive and full of the feels. The only bad thing is that the links between chapter 17, 18, and 19 are bit broken, but they work if clicked from the main page in the link above.

This is the perfect story to put a smile on your face in the run up to Christmas.

Roxy is fantastically snarky and sarcastic, and she knows her own mind. She's not afraid to stand up for herself and especially Mia, and she'd do anything for her little girl. Roxy has had such a terribly hard life, and yet she is so full of love. Mia is absolutely adorable and a couple of scenes with her gave me a giggle. Such a sweet little girl.

The romance between Roxy and James is so lovely. It's caring and generous and they're both so aware of each other and cautious that they don't cause harm. Just let me have a little swoon thinking back on it...

There are some wickedly funny parts to this story, and I laughed out loud and snorted tea out of my nose. It's so heart-warming, and perfect for when it's barely above freezing outside. A quick read for a quick cheer up.

He had a way of looking at her, as if he saw the whole way through, to all of her.

05 December 2020

Book Review: The Winter Promise by Rosie Goodwin *AD - Gifted

Zaffre sent me a free finished copy of The Winter Promise by Rosie Goodwin.

This is the second Memory Lane Club books that I've read, and I think I've found a new go-to author for when I need a saga that will break my heart and then mend it.

The Winter Promise by Rosie Goodwin memory lane cover


When Opal Sharp finds herself and her younger siblings suddenly orphaned and destitute, she thinks things can get no worse.

But soon three of them - including Opal - are struck down with the illness that took their father from them, and her brother Charlie is forced to make an impossible decision. Unable to afford a doctor, he knows the younger children will not survive. So, unbeknownst to Opal, Charlie takes their younger siblings to the workhouse, where he knows they will at least be fed and have a roof over their heads.

Opal is heartbroken and struggles to forgive him. Charlie, in turn, takes bigger and bigger risks to try to support what's left of the Sharp family and earn Opal's forgiveness - but he takes it too far and finds himself in trouble with the law. Soon, he is sent on a convict ship to Australia.

As poor Opal is forced to say goodbye to the final member of her family, she makes a promise to reunite them all one day.

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Source: Review Copy

Content Warning: Sexual assault, corporal punishment, child abuse, infant death (off page).

5 Word Review: Family, desperation, betrayal, love, lies.

Have you ever sat on a Sunday afternoon and put on the Drama channel and spent the whole afternoon caught up in a Catherine Cookson drama, drinking endless cups of tea? It's a fantastic act of self-care ,but sometimes you've seen The Rag Nymph a few too many times and you need something different. That's where The Winter Promise comes in.

It was raining outside when I first picked up this book.

I had a fresh cup of tea, a virtual fireplace crackling away in the background, a blanket across my lap. The big light was off, the lamps were lit, and I turned the first page.

I was glad of the hot drink and the blanket because I got chills from the vivid descriptions. I could feel the snow, the unforgiving wind, the chill of a draught. I almost sighed when I read about Opal making that first pot of tea, taking a sip myself. And I was hooked. So much happens in just the first fifty pages that I was pretty breathless reading them.

The story evolves slowly, and yet the pace is incredible. So much happens to every character, and their story arcs seem so different. As a family, Opal, Charlie, and Susie are so similar, and yet as the story dips in and out of their lives they have very distinct voices and personalities.

Opal is absolutely the main character, and my heart broke for her over and over again. She's so lovely and nice and she cares so much, and what she goes through would break most. She's resilient and determined and I loved her for it. She is the perfect main character for a saga, and I could happily read about her forever. All she wants is her family back together, and she does what she thinks is best. She is manipulated at her lowest point and my heart aches for her.

Charlie is... Well, he tries his best. But he's a bit flighty and he's not the type to stop and think properly before he acts. Despite all he's been through he's still a bit of a dreamer. And it was frustrating.

Susie kind of falls on her feet, and it's difficult not to like her. She's warm and fed for the most part, and her hardships are generally glossed over. She doesn't truly understand the horror of what surrounds her at times, and she's always focused on finding her way back to Opal.

There are times that the story had me gorgeously frustrated: when they were so close and yet so far, when I wanted to shake Charlie, when I wanted to wrap Opal up and keep her safe.

This book spans sixteen fraught years, and it is a Journey. I was hooked, I couldn't stop turning the pages. It's almost 500 pages long and yet I read it in a single day, switching from tea to red wine as the story progressed. I felt a little bit broken in the best of ways when it ended.

The Winter Promise felt a bit like the very best of Catherine Cookson, like the best bits of The Dwelling Place crossed with The Glass Virgin. It was outstanding, and you can easily see why Rosie Goodwin was the first author to be allowed to follow on from some Catherine Cookson stories. I couldn't recommend this book, and this author, more.

30 November 2020

Book Review: The Queen's Impossible Boss by Natalie Anderson

A discount code for the Mills & Boon website dropped in to my inbox back in October and I just couldn't resist. I picked up the The Queen's Impossible Boss / Stolen To Wear His Crown bind-up. I love a secret royal story.

The Queen's Impossible Boss by Natalie Anderson cover Mills & Boon romance

Bound by duty...

Tempted by desire!

Switching places with her twin was supposed to give Queen Jade a couple of weeks escape from duty in New York. Now she has to handle a professional scandal and her sister’s impossible billionaire boss!

Yet, perhaps, Jade and Alvaro Byrne can explore their unrivalled connection… Just for Christmas!

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Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Work, responsibility, family, love, goodness.

The Queen's Impossible Boss was excellent - it's the type of romance that makes you giddy, that you can't get enough of. It's infectious in its passion.

First off there was the wonderful chemistry between Jade and Alvaro. And if that wasn't enough there was then the fantastic character building - I loved them so much and especially so together. Then it hits up the Secret Royal trope and it just gets better.

Jade is incredible as a person, she is bound by duty and a product of her lonely upbringing, but is truly good and hard-working and honest. And earnest. She is an absolute joy to read, and I just want to be her friend.

Alvaro has had a really tough life, and despite it all and the tough exterior, he's such a sweetie. I want to give him a hug and a smack around the face all at once.

The story does have a hint of Christmas, but it doesn't over-take the rest of the plot. The Queen's Impossible Boss just happens to fall in the holiday season and it makes the romance all the sweeter. It's a fantastic romance, and I heartily recommend it.

Next up, Stolen to Wear His Crown by Marcella Bell.

25 November 2020

Book Review & Extract: The Maiden and the Mercenary by Nicole Locke *AD - Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of The Maiden and the Mercenary by Nicole Locke ahead of the blog tour.

I was originally supposed to only be posting an extract, but after I read the extract I knew that I needed the book myself too! The writing is excellent and the story is amazingly passionate. This is a historical romance with a twist.

The Maiden and the Mercenary by Nicole Locke cover Mills & Boon Historical

Keep your friends close...

But your enemies closer?

In order to find a legendary treasure map, mercenary Louve of Mei Solis must infiltrate his enemy's fortress under the guise of a servant. There, Louve meets beautiful maiden Biedeluue, a fellow servant with her own hidden agenda... To save her sister from the malevolent lord's clutches!

Their high-stakes missions may be at odds with one another, but their attraction cannot be denied even in this most dangerous of situations...

Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, friendship, trust, betrayal, passion. 

I read a lot of general historical fiction, and The Maiden and the Mercenary certainly rivals a lot of them in terms of attention to detail and family plotting and drama.

I almost can't believe how much intrigue and conspiracy there was in the story, and it kept me gripped. I absolutely loved the background conflict of the Warstones and the tension it lent to the story.

I love that although there is an instant attraction between Bied and Louve, it takes a while to come into fruition. They have Very Sure Ideas of themselves and what they want. Bied thinks pretty much only about saving her sister, and Louve is all about getting the job done and getting out of there.

One of my favourite things was the slow change of the relationship between Bied and Louve. It evolves on page so subtly that I almost didn't realise it had happened until the end. There is so much passion and lust between them, and it gradually builds in to more.

The Maiden and the Mercenary is an absolutely excellent read and I'd recommend it to all fans of medieval historical romance. I'd love to read more about Bied and Louve as they're such a compelling couple.


This is the moment the heroine, Biedeluue, meets Louve, the hero. She’s in the kitchen playing a drinking game with other servants by stacking goblets on table. He’s just been hired as Usher (overseer of the kitchens). He’s truly a mercenary on a secret mission, of course, she’s on a secret mission to save her sister. But right now, she’s falling from a table-top and he’s nearby. 

That wasn’t right. Bied’s vision changed to the top of the ceiling, the thick oak beams heavy with smoke, and bird droppings that needed to be—
Oh, my. She was falling and it was going to hurt. ‘Henry! Henry, you were supposed to remain behind— oomph!’
Her head cracked against the top of a shoulder, two arms snapped around her waist, her body continued to plummet, but didn’t fall. Only continued to press, press, press against an unyielding object, who cradled her body until her feet slid to the floor one after the other.
A clumsy safe landing that was part drunkenness, part the fall and entirely the fault of the man who was holding her steady.
She swung around in his arms, stared at a chest that no amount of poorly weaved tunic could disguise as absolutely glorious and stabbed her finger right into the middle of it. ‘How dare you!’
The arms around her constricted, her breasts pressed tighter, her nose bumping forward, flattening her palm between them. A palm that might have ever so slightly brushed across to feel every ripple. Yep. Glorious.
‘Can you even stand?’ 
She peered upwards to an unknown strong jawline. ‘Where’d you come from?’
‘Bring a chair,’ he boomed.
That voice! She shoved against his chest—he didn’t move. ‘Let me go!’
‘Chair, now! Remove that man from the kitchens, clean up the mess he made. You and you, get these goblets back to the pantry, and, you, take care of this ale. You as well. And all those gawking in the doorways, if you don’t clean the floor immediately, and that includes the flour, I’ll wipe it up with your carcases.’
People moved. They moved as if this glorious-chested man with his strong jawline had anything to do with any of them.
‘Now wait! You have no authority here. This is a private…affair. We’re conducting important matters for the lord, we are. You can’t barge in here.’
‘Sit,’ he ordered.
Where had the chair come from? ‘You sit,’ she told the jawline.
Ooh, this was different. Very different. His voice wasn’t booming, but the authority was there. Yes, it was, more so, and it caused her eyes to wander a bit higher and then a bit higher yet.
Glorious…everything. Black eyelashes, brows, aquiline nose, a tiny scar under his left eye that begged for a kiss.
Then there was blue. A blue so blue, the sky would be envious. And…so many eyes. Why did he have so many eyes when the rest of them only had two? Unfair!
‘You’re too far gone for the chair, aren’t you?’ He’d swung his gaze away from her. ‘Who is responsible for this female?’
‘Now that you are hired, that would be you.’ The Steward’s reedy voice slithered into the kitchens.
Steward, who controlled everything, including her employment. A position which was important because she needed it to save her sister.
‘I think I’m going to be sick,’ she whispered.

The Maiden and the Mercenary by Nicole Locke blog tour banner

20 November 2020

Book Beginnings: The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

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.

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty Daevabad Trilogy Harper Voyager cover Fairyloot exclusive edition

He was an easy mark. 

This series has regrettably been on my TBR for far too long. I have had a copy of The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty since its release but never picked it up, even though it sounds right up my street. Then I bought the Fairyloot exclusive editions of the entire trilogy and decided it was time.

First off I love the cover, it's so so pretty. My copy also has gorgeous stencilled edges in a matching design. It is stunning, 10/10 for attractiveness to book magpies.

This first line doesn't give much away at all, but it does have me hooked. I want to know who the mark is, and who it is doing the marking. Or the swindling, you know.

With a single flap of his wings, he rose in the air and vanished into the crimson sky.

This is from page 56 in my finished hardback copy.

Page 56 isn't that far through this book, it's a chonky boi at over 500 pages and a small typeface.

S. A. Chakraborty is really good at packing sentences with punch. The tension in the writing is addictive and I cannot put this book down.

What are you reading this week?

16 November 2020

Book Review: Awakening His Shy Cinderella by Sophie Pembroke *AD - Gifted

I was luck enough to win a Halloween giveaway from the author, and she kindle included her latest book Awakening His Shy Cinderella by Sophie Pembroke. I also requested and was accepted for a NetGalley review copy.

I jumped on it pretty much straight away, because it sounded like exactly what I needed, and it fulfilled the Newest ARC prompt for Galleyathon.

Awakening His Shy Cinderella by Sophie Pembroke cover Mills & Boon True Love Romance

Can a festive flirtation last…

After the final cracker has been pulled?

Damon knows Rachel’s always prioritised her family’s needs above her own and it’s time for her to step out of her comfort zone!

Damon usually steers clear of commitment, but neither can resist indulging in a very temporary affair! 

Only when the time comes, can he walk away…?

Source: Giveaway | NetGalley

5 Word Review: Love, family, work, passion, Christmas. 

So err... Awakening His Shy Cinderella was perfect.

I related to Rachel so much, and I loved that I could see parts of myself in her. Her insecurities and small fears really brought her to life, and  I wanted to give her a hug and tell her what an amazing person she is.

Damon is an excellent romantic hero, and I loved how we got to see his own family struggles too. This book is full of complicated and messy family relationships and I loved it.

This story takes the classic Cinderella tropes of an evil step-mother and nasty step-sisters and makes them seem fresh. I could really believe their motivations and it was an excellent layer added to secondary characters. It wasn't so much a Cinderella retelling as a modern interpretation of the story, and instead of a fairy godmother there was a charming hero by Rachel's side.

In terms of festive cheer, Awakening His Shy Cinderella is full of it. I loved the small magics and wonders of Rachel's Christmas window displays, and it invoked memories of Fenwick's Christmas Window as a child and how magical it all felt. I liked the community sense of story in the arcade and even in the big department store.

I want to go to a Victorian Christmas market and drink hot chocolate and listen to a choir sing. I want to string fairylights all around. This book helped me get fully into the festive mood, and I'd love to share the magic.

09 November 2020

Galleyathon Prompts and TBR

I have a lot of NetGalley review copies that have built up while my health has prevented me from reading them, and since I'm in a good place in terms of function right now and Galleyathon is starting today I thought there was no better time than the present to tackle some of them!

Galleyathon also comes with a Self Care board game which sounds perfect! The board has 11 bubbles to tick off and a fantastic list of self care ideas. I plan to do one for each 50% I get to in a galley, so two per book.

Galleyathon Prompts

There are four main prompts for Galleyathon, but they also have a bingo board.

The Prompts:

  • Your Newest ARC 
  • Your Oldest ARC
  • An ARC You're Excited For
  • An ARC You Regret Requesting
The Bingo Card:
  • An Expected Rejection
  • Complete Three Self-Care Challenges
  • Finish a Book
  • Read a Book Set in Winter/Christmas
  • Clear Your NetGalley Shelf
  • A Book That's Already Released
  • An Own Voices Read
  • A 5 or 1 Star Read
  • A Hyped Read

I like how the bingo is a mix of prompts, and not necessarily reading. There is no way I can clear my NetGalley shelf, but I can definitely make a start on clearing specifically the eight Mills & Boon titles languishing there, and if I manage them all I will consider that square ticked off.

Self Care Challenges

I will be using a random number generator for my self-care challenges every 50% of a book that I read, except for the final prompt as we're in lockdown where I am (and I was shielding anyway) which I'll be replacing with Drink Gin.

  • Take a relaxing bath or shower
  • Have a hot beverage
  • Have a snack
  • Do some meditation
  • Go for a walk
  • Call/Text a friend
  • Dance Party!!!!
  • Watch some funny videos or tik toks
  • Take a picture of your reading spot (and send it to @galleyathon)
  • Watch a movie/TV show for a well deserved reading break
  • Take a picture of your bookshelves (and send to @galleyathon)
  • Do a facemask
  • Watch a Booktube video
  • Treat yourself to a new book perhaps? (we won’t tell)
  • Go on a trip to the library (wear your mask of course)

My Galleyathon TBR

I'm going to pick the book for my Newest ARC at the end of the readthon, because there are a couple of pending requests for Mills & Boon titles on my shelf and I am very excited for them.

My Oldest ARC is The Scandal of the Season by Annie Burrows so that will be first up for me. It sounds like excellent fun and I love historical romance, especially those set around the Season and all the small dramas that ensue.

An ARC I'm excited for is The Takeover by SL Swan, mostly because I absolutely loved The Stopover by TL Swan when I read it last year and it blew my expectations out of the water.

For an ARC that I regret requesting, I will be reading The Maid's Best Kept Secret by Abby Green. I actually don't regret requesting this book at all because I only request books I really want to read, but I do regret the timing. It was the worst possible time I could have requested any book in terms of my physical and mental health.

I am very excited for this readathon and where it will take me. Bring on the happy endings and making a dent in my NetGalley shelf. My feedback ratio currently sits at 27% and I'm hoping to up that a bit.

What are you planning to read next?

07 November 2020

Book Review: A Princess By Christmas by Julia London *Ad - Gifted

I was sent a free copy of A Princess By Christmas by Julia London by Mills and Boon ahead of the blog tour. I was so excited to be invited to join the tour, because I absolutely loved the previous books The Princess Plan and A Royal Kiss and Tell.

A Princess By Christmas by Julia London cover

A Secret.

A Lie.

A Revolution.

Hollis Honeycutt has written her London gazette since the death of her husband – featuring fashion plates, marriage advice, and the latest gossip in and around Mayfair. But now she feels her gazette should have more meaning, cover topics of more consequence than the latest curl cream.

The opportunity presents itself when Hollis overhears rumours of a potential coup in the Kingdom of Wesloria, a coup linked to the highest level of government in London. During her investigation Hollis spies a man with no business lurking around peace talks, and determines to expose him for the traitor he most certainly must be.

When Weslorian Marek Brendan was fifteen he was shocked to discover his heritage was not what he believed – he was whisked away from the Weslorian palace when he was born because there was fear that corrupt forces would try and kidnap him. Now he is determined to stop these corrupt forces staging a coup in his home country. Except for the beautiful woman whose questions are putting his own investigation at risk. Yet soon Marek realises that pretty Hollis can help him. But when he confides his suspicions, Hollis’s loyalties are tested and she must choose between her loyalties to her family, or her heart…

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, gossip, friendship, plotting, royalty. 

Hollis, I think I love you.

Hollis has been there in the background of the two previous books and I have been desperate to discover her story, especially with the snippets of her Gazette. I managed to read it in a single day so it definitely ticked all of the boxes for me. Hollis is so good and kind and generous, and I couldn't help but fight for her side - she's the type of character you want with all of your heart to be happy.

I loved the mistaken-yet-secret-identity lark, it was a very fun spin on a well used trope. With it being something that could hurt her friends, Hollis is extra investigated, even if she weren't always keeping an ear out for her Gazette.

The chemistry between Hollis and Brendan is excellent. There is suspicion and attraction in equal measure. The intrigue added extra drama, and served to bring things to almost boiling point.

As much as this is a series of books, they can absolutely be read as standalones and even out of order. But of course you get the full experience of all of the characters and the drama and the feels if you read them one after the other.

A Princess By Christmas was an absolutely fantastic read, and I loved the Christmas cheer at the end. It's made me even more excited for the festive season, and at one point kind of made me fancy some absinthe. It's fun and you will not regret it.

29 October 2020

The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake *Ad - Gifted

I was sent a free copy of The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake ahead of the blog tour. And even though it's only October, I very much enjoyed it. Now I'm desperate to get my decorations up.

The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake cover

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Recently divorced, the family home sold and her son all grown-up, Clare is at a crossroads. She's dedicated her whole adult life to her family, and now it's time she did something for herself.

In the lead up to Christmas, Clare decides that a bit of time in the countryside might be just what she needs, so she moves back to Little Bramble, the village she grew up in. But living with her mum for the first time in years - and not to mention Goliath the Great Dane - can be challenging.

When Clare finds herself running the village Christmas show, it feels like she has purpose in her life again. Bringing together people from all sides of the community, and all walks of life, will Clare manage to pull off a festive feat like no other? And will she find the new start in life - and possibly love - that she's been looking for?

The Country Village Christmas Show is the perfect romantic read to get cosy with this winter. 

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, community, love, Christmas, friendship.

The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake has all of the drama and antics you'd expect from an actual village show, and as someone who has lived in a village all her life it really hit the mark. It took a while to get in to, but after a few chapters the story flowed really well and was easy to read.

I really enjoyed the themes of community and friendship, it was very heart-warming and uplifting. I wouldn't say it's a romance, even if there are some romantic elements. It's more of a small village caper as a woman whose life has been turned upside down find herself again.

I don't think I warmed as much to Clare as I could have but that's because she was outshone by Goliath. This giant dog really stole the scene and I would like to be dragged through a hedge by him.

Although it took me a while to get in to, I ultimately really enjoyed The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake, and it got me very much into a festive mood.

21 October 2020

Book Review: Hit Me With Your Best Scot by Suzanne Enoch

St Martins Press sent me a free NetGalley copy of Hit Me With Your Best Scot by Suzanne Enoch.

The third in the Wild Wicked Highlanders series, Hit Me With Your Best Scot can be read as a standalone. But believe me, once you are introduced to the MacTaggert's you will want to know the story behind them all.

This is definitely a book for your pre-order radar.

Hit Me With Your Best Scot by Suzanne Enoch cover

The MacTaggert brothers have one task:

Find English brides or lose their land!

Coll MacTaggert, Viscount Glendarril, is a big, brawny Highlander who doesn’t like being told what to do - not even by his exasperated English mother who is determined to see her eldest son wedded and bedded. However, when he comes to the rescue of an irresistibly beautiful woman, Coll discovers that he may have found his perfect match...

The challenge isn’t that Persephone Jones is famous, wealthy, independent, and smarter than anyone he knows. The problem is that she is not interested in marrying any man - especially not a hot-headed Scot - even if he is the only man who seems to understand who she really is even when she’s not sure herself. When Coll learns that Persephone is actually a lady-in-hiding and someone is willing to kill her for what she stands to inherit...Well, Coll has never been one to turn down a fight.

When hearts are involved, nothing comes between a Highlander and his lady.

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Source: Review Copy

5 Word Review: Love, responsibility, scandal, family, secrets.

Earlier this year I got the chance to read Scot Under The Covers, the second of the Wild Wicked Highlanders books. While I have somehow still not got around to read the first book, It's Getting Scot In Here, I jumped at the chance to read the third book.

There is something about the MacTaggert's that draws you in like a magnet. They're wild and witty and I just want to swoon at the lot of them. They're big and brawny and fiercely loyal, and they remind of kittens almost in how caring and gentle they can be. 

I liked how this story played around with the fact that Persephone was an actress and Coll pretty much always puts on a dumb highlander act. It was clever and funny to watch play out, and I love how both of them defied expectations. It was fantastic fun. There are secrets and hidden identities and a would-be murderer hiding away, and it all makes for a pretty exhilarating read.

If you're looking for a masquerade ball to tick off for Romance Book Bingo, then look no further, as Hit Me With Your Best Scot has a pretty tense and exciting one near the end.

Now that I know Coll and Aden's stories in full, I can't wait to go back and read about Niall, even if I know the gist of what happens from the two books that I have read. Suzanne Enoch is definitely a romance author to look out for if you love passion that make you want to swoon.

20 October 2020

Ten Books I Read Because I Was Recommended Them

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Most Recent Books I’ve Read Because Someone Recommended Them
I haven't read much recently, it turns out. I'm going to blame the on-going world situation and the fact that I've mostly been rereading the same few books over and over.

I had to go back over an entire year to make this list up. I think only one of these books wasn't quite my cup of tea, the rest of them were 4 stars or above!
  • The Matchmaker and the Duke by Ann Lethbridge
  • The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi
  • House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas
  • Scythe by Neal Shuserman
  • Blood & Sand by CV Wyck
  • The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  • Wilder Girls by Rory Power
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon 
  • Scot Under the Covers by Suzanne Enoch
  • Circe by Madeline Miller
What book would you recommend?

19 October 2020

Book Review: The Matchmaker And The Duke by Ann Lethbridge

I recently discovered the Literally Gagging podcast, and one of the books they recently covered was The Matchmaker And The Duke by Ann Lethbridge. It sounded excellent and I bought it because I am easily led and have no self control. 

The Matchmaker And The Duke by Ann Lethbridge Mills & Boon cover

Is it ever too late

… to marry a duke?

Sought-after matchmaker Amelia Durant wants the best for her three young ladies as they make their debut. So when the highly elusive but very eligible Duke of Stone shows an interest, she is shocked. Could the handsome devil who dashed her young hopes all those years ago be a changed man? And is he really interested in a debutante as a wife… Or is it Amelia herself who has sent His Grace’s pulse skyrocketing?

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Love, responsibility, respectability, passion, wealth. 

I love a good historical romance, and this one was definitely good.

I liked the contrast between cynical Amelia and her two romantic young charges. I loved the energy it brought to every situation and I felt the excitement of the two girls. I loved the heightened drama of it all, and the will-they-won't-they little dramas.

Throughout the entirety of this book, in my head Stone was Matthew Macfadyen. Every line he spoke was that voice in my head. Every time I pictured him, guess who I'd see. And that's definitely not a complaint. Even the story at times, and particularly Stone's attitude, reminded me of Pride & Prejudice.

I loved build up between Stone and Amelia, the passion between them. The scenes where they came together alone were simmering away and the sex scenes were very steamy.

One little thing that I noticed were that there were quite a few typos. Usually these aren't something I'd pick up, but I have only been reading finished copies recently rather than review copies so I'm out of the ignore-typos mindset. It was jarring and took me out of the story, which was a shame as I otherwise readily enjoyed it.

Overall this was an excellent read and one I would read again. It was great fun and I loved the passion.  Amelia was an excellent character and I'd happily read more about her life. I'd definitely be interested in a prequel about her own disastrous season.

Men did as they pleased and women trod warily. It wasn't fair, but it was the way of the world.

16 October 2020

Book Beginnings: Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly *AD Gifted

 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 Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly *AD Gifted.

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly cover

Once upon long ago, always and evermore, a girl rode into the Dark Wood. 

I was sent a free copy of Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly ahead of the blog tour hosted by Kaleidoscopic Book Tours. 

Isn't that beautifully lyrical? I love it, it's an excellent first line. It harks back to fairytales, and as a reimagining of Snow White I think it's a perfect way to start.

I like the cover, the shattered apple. I think it's very clever imagery.

The spider started spinning, just as fast as he could.

This is from page 56 in my finished copy.

This part is right in the action - Poisoned is not holding back and the pace is incredible.

What are you reading this week?
What is your favourite fairytale retelling?

11 October 2020

Six Characters I'd be Scared to Meet

I'm joining in with Steph at A Little But A Lot's Six for Sunday feature! It's a weekly feature that gets you thinking and sharing.

The theme this month is Pumpkin Spice Goodness and this week the prompt is Characters You’d be Scared to Meet. I'm a right wimp, so this was easy.

Six For Sunday: Six Characters I'd be Scared to Meet

Six Characters I'd be Scared to Meet

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'd die.

Faraday from Scythe by Neal Shusterman
I'm not ready to die, OK?

Mary from Say Her Name by Juno Dawson
Uhh... See above? No thank you.

Irina from Fashionistas: Irina by Sarra Manning
She'd chew me up and spit me right now.

Henry from STAGS by MA Bennett
I'd be sport. Nope.

The Trees from Fir by Sharon Gosling
They have power. And I'm afraid.

Which characters would you be scared to meet?

10 October 2020

The Dover Cafe at War by Ginny Bell *AD - Gifted

Zaffre sent me a free finished copy of The Dover Cafe at War by Ginny Bell.

This book is one of the Memory Lane Club books - they're  heart-warming and moving stories about women’s lives, featuring wartime, family and romance. And The Dover Cafe at War by Ginny Bell certainly ticked every one of these boxes.

It's a bit of a tonic of a book. 

The Dover Cafe at War by Ginny Bell Memory Lane Club cover

Dover, 1939

At the heart of Market Square lies Castle's Café, run by the formidable Nellie Castle and her six children.

Since the scandalous birth of her son ten years ago, Marianne, Nellie's eldest daughter, has preferred to stay in the kitchen, hidden away from the scrutiny of the town gossips. Overcome with shame, she has never revealed the identity of Donny's father - not even to her own mother.

But with World War II just around the corner, soon Marianne's past catches up with her. And suddenly the lives of the Castle family become a lot more complicated.

Will the secrets from her past destroy their future? 

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Source: Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, secrets, betrayal, blame, love.

This book was very much like a tonic to read - it had strong themes of family and love and belonging, and I couldn't have enjoyed reading it more.

Marianne is excellent - she's an excellent mother, daughter, sister, and cook. She's had a hard time of it growing up and some small lies she once told are now bigger than she could have imagines and out of control.

Most of the characters are excellent and lovely people, but there are a couple truly despicable ones that it becomes easy to hate. 

As much as The Dover Cafe at War has a pretty fraught setting as war breaks out and overtakes the lives of everyone around, there is something fantastically soft about the story. There are moments that make you stop and sigh and forget about the bigger picture.

This book was brilliant, and I cannot wait to read more about the characters. I'm torn between wanting the next book to be about the Castle's or Marianne's friends!

09 October 2020

Book Begininngs: Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

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 Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis.

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis cover

Transcript of interview with Nolan Nox, Director of Ninghtjar, for Scream Screen magazine (Nightjar twentieth-anniversary special feature) 

I got Harrow Lake in a Wildest Dreams book box earlier this year, and I've been saving it for spooky season. I utterly adore YA Horror, but it's not something that is easy to find.

Harrow Lake starts with a transcript of an interview, which I thought was quite clever. It really gives you an idea about Lola's dad's personality.

I am intrigued and want to read more.

No. I can't be seen wearing my absentee mom's old clothes while Nolan lies attached to machines back in New York.

This is from page 56 in my finished copy. Which also has excellent bright yellow sprayed edges.

The mystery in this book is excellent and I am loving the very slow chill that is building. It's so subtle  yet intense that it makes me stop and think and I love it.

What are you reading this week?
Do you ever read horror?

08 October 2020

Blog Tour: Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble *AD - Gifted

I was sent a free finished copy of Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble: Magical Poems chosen by Paul Cookson, Illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon ahead of the blog tour.

Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble cover

Can you hear the distant dragon's rumble of thunder? And smell the sweet swampy aroma of the ogre? Can you taste the tangy tarantula tarts? And see the girl who's really a wizard? From magic carpets and wands to unicorns, potions, creams and lotions, Paul Cookson's brewing a spell of fantastically magic poems.

On this tattered magic carpet
You can choose your destination
For nothing's quite as magical
As your imagination

Beautifully illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon, this enchanting anthology brings together work from a range of classic, established and rising poets. Whether you're in the mood for a haunting or a spell gone wrong, this collection of mesmerising poems will have you bewitched from beginning to end!

Poets include: William Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Benjamin Zephaniah, John Agard, Valerie Bloom, Matt Goodfellow, Joshua Seigal and A.F. Harrold.

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Source: Review Copy

5 Word Review: Magic, mystery, witches, wonder, poetry.

I am a massive fan of poetry, especially curated collections like this that bring together so many different styles and voices. I liked the mix of old and modern, and how there were modern spins on classics like Song of the Witches from Macbeth. It felt very balanced.

This is a great wee book for youngsters trying out poetry for the first time. My nephew enjoyed coming up with tunes and trying to sing some of them like songs. And anything that makes reading fun is a fantastic thing.

This is an easy collection to pick up and flick through. There are poems to make you laugh and poems to make you think.

This is a gorgeous little book, and it feels very special. The illustrations are beautiful and creative takes on the poems they sit by, and it feels very cohesive.