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26 February 2021

Book Beginnings: An Orphan's Journey by Rosie Goodwin *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 An Orphan's Journey by Rosie Goodwin.

An Orphan's Journey by Rosie Goodwin cover

"Come on, girl, your dad will be home wi' no dinner on the table if yer don't get a move on, an' yer know what that means!"
I was sent a free finished copy of An Orphan's Journey by Rosie Goodwin by the publisher.

If I'm being honest, I wanted this book the second I finished The Winter Promise by Rosie Goodwin when I read it last year, and I knew that the Precious Stones series was about to become a fixture on my TBR. The books are all standalones, the only link is the characters being named after precious stones. You'll often see Rosie Goodwin being lauded as the new Catherine Cookson and the comparisons are spot on.

I have only read the prologue so far, and my heart is already breaking. Rosie Goodwin knows how to get your right in the feels.

The cover is very pretty and has a feel of hope about it - I can't place what it is, but it's a nice feeling. Even if the first chapter is pretty darn heartbreaking.

Now it was Pearl's turn to smile and it lit up her beautiful face. These were the most wonderful gifts she had ever received and she didn't quite know how to express her gratitude.
This is from page 56 in my finished hardback copy.

Although I've only read the prologue myself so far, I know that I am going to love this story, and love Pearl. I'm excited to see her journey. As I scanned the page to get the quote for this part, I got really excited - it seems like a lovely part of the story where there is some joy brought to Pearl and Eliza's lives.

I can't wait to see what happens next, and although I have no idea of the journey about to be undertaken (one day I'll read a blurb, I'm sure) I know that it will be a rollercoaster of emotions.

What are you reading this week?

23 February 2021

My Skull Inspired Wishlist

I am joining in the #TeamMina festivities in the run up to the release of Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw on the 1st of April.

Putting this post together, I was living my best goth girl life. Mina sounds so much like teen me, and I am here for it. I cannot wait until April when I can read all about her myself.

When I was 17 I was pretty much skint, but I did save up my EMA (anyone remember that?) to buy my first pair of Doc Martens - spray painted silver of course - and a Nemesis Now journal. Today I'm sharing some skull-shaped and inspired things that I would have bought if 17-year-old-me had access to Etsy and a little more money to spend.

*sighs in teenage nostalgia*

Not going to lie, I'm tempted to buy all of this on payday.

Hand Painted Vampire Skull Nails

Hand Painted Vampire Skull Nails

I am a massive fan of painting my nails, but sometimes I'm too tired or don't have time or I'm just being lazy. Or maybe I have a special occasion coming up. When the situation calls for it I reach for the falsies.

I love there vampire skull nails, the detail is gorgeous!

Skeleton Cameo Earrings

Skeleton Cameo Earrings

I just. I can't. They're adorable and creepy and have that vintage aesthetic all at once, and I think I need them desperately in my life. I love cameos, I love skulls, I love these skeleton cameo earrings.

I'm tempted to get myself a little collection of jewellery.

Skulls and Rose Glass Tumblers

Just look at them. Look at them. They're gorgeous. Creepy and slightly romantic, and I'm a total magpie for anything shiny. And how good would they look with red wine in them?

Skulls And Roses Reusable Bamboo Travel Mug

I don't have much need for this right now as I'm still shielding, but once I'm allowed out again? I'll need this for my adventures. I love a cuppa on the go and this one is so freaking pretty.

Go Smudge Yourself Wax Melts

Go Smudge Yourself Wax Melts - Rebel Potions

I just ant to see a skull melting, I guess. It'd look so cool. Also it smells like lavender, sage, rosemary, and mint and it think it sounds amazing.

So there we have it, all the little skull inspired things on my wishlist and soon to be in my basket. I think I'm most excited about the wax melts. No, the glasses. No, the travel mug. Nah, I'm excited for it all.

#TeamMina #MinaAndTheUndead

18 February 2021

Book Review: The Duke's Runaway Bride by Jenni Fletcher *AD Gifted

I was provided with a free copy of The Duke's Runaway Bride by Jenni Fletcher ahead of the blog tour.

I have to admit that I haven't read either of the other two Regency Belles of Bath books, although I have heard excellent things about them and they were high on my TBR. And after reading The Duke's Runaway Bride by Jenni Fletcher they've been pushed even higher. This was an exquisate Regency romance.

The Duke's Runaway Bride by Jenni Fletcher cover Mills & Boon historical

From shopkeeper...

To duke's wife.

When Beatrix, Duchess of Howden, writes to her estranged husband offering a divorce, she’s stunned when he arrives on her doorstep with a different proposition: a six-week marriage trial!

Quinton Roxbury seems cold and inscrutable, but Beatrix gradually realises his rough exterior hides a heavy burden.

As their connection deepens, dare she trust him with her own scandalous past and risk the marriage she never knew she wanted?

Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Trust, family, belonging, duty, redemption. 

Missing Bridgerton? Pick this up. Pick it up now and revel in it because it is stunning. From the characters to the settings, I loved it all.

Beatrix is so strong willed and independent, and I absolutely loved her for it. She is a little but too critical about herself, but it was endearing, especially when she started to come out of her shell.

Quinton is pretty noble and honourable in bearing and personality, he tries so hard to shy away from scandal. I loved how determined he was to right the wrongs of the past., and I loved how respectful he was toward Beatrix, and indeed almost everyone he met.

I loved the instant spark that neither of them would admit to, and the slow burn of the relationship between Beatrix and Quinton. Seeing Beatrix's heart and mind battle it out meant that I was never quite sure what way she would go, even though this is a romance so I knew there would be a HEA. To be honest, either way I would have been happy for Beatrix, but the ending was so satisfying.

All I wanted to do while I was reading this book was drink tea and eat biscuits. Which was actually pretty perfect if I'm honest.

They were already on my TBR because of the good things I'd heard, but now I'm more desperate than ever to read the other Regency Belles of Bath books. If you like your heroines fierce and headstrong and independent then look no further.

She'd felt safe. Unexpectedly, unfathomably and utterly safe.

The Duke's Runaway Bride by Jenni Fletcher publication push

12 February 2021

Book Beginnings: The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige

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 Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige  cover

The witch looked at the blonde girl cowering on the ground, her eyes wide with fear.
I was sent this book to review and simultaneously received a copy in my Illumicrate box.

I was super excited for The Ravens - I love dark academia and all things witchy, and the tagline had me sold.

The first line has me gripped - I want to know that what and the why and the who.

I love the details of the cover, how at first it seems pretty plain but the longer you look at it the more details of the ravens come through.

Scarlett looked up, startled to find the entire circle's gaze on her.
This is from page 56 in my finished hardback copy

I am 100% in love with this story. I love the mystery, the small dramas and the magic. I like the characters in their own way, and I love how they clash and are pushed together.

I am having so much fun and feeling so inspired by this book.

What are you reading this week?

10 February 2021

Blog Tour: Escaping From the Shadows by C L Tustin *AD Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Escaping from the Shadows by C L Tustin ahead of the blog tour.

Escaping from the Shadows by C L Tustin cover

Anastasia Travess is caring, beautiful and talented, but all her life her abusive father has kept her down. Seeking love wherever she can there has only ever been one man she trusts, one man who makes her complete and he rejected her years ago.

Piers Talbot is an enigma, a charming bachelor with only one woman in his heart. But when offered a choice between fixing his estranged family and obtaining his heart’s desire he makes probably the worst decision of his life.

When Anastasia rekindles her past relationship with Piers’ younger brother, the lines between love and loyalty become blurred. Amid danger, betrayal and deception, Anastasia is forced to question everything she thought she knew.

But will Anastasia have the courage to escape from the shadows?

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, control, freedom, drama, jealousy.

This book starts off with heartbreak. I was almost in tears myself at Anastasia's mother's attempt at escape, and how it all went so wrong. The prologue was so intense and gripping that it then took me a while to settle in to the story proper, as it picks up at a bit of a softer pace.

This book felt a bit like a wider storyline-arc in Hollyoaks, but in a really good way. It was like a season of Dynasty, but in book form. I loved it, and it made for some pretty addictive reading.

On the surface of it, Anastasia Travess has a life that many would envy, but scratch the surface and not all is as it seems. Life hasn't actually been so good for Anastasia, and money definitely does not buy you happiness.

I loved the way toxic relationships were explored in the story - nothing is quite as simple as you think and just when you think that a certain someone cannot get any worse, they reveal even more of themselves. And they suck.

Escaping From the Shadows was a drastically intense read. I felt almost on the edge of my seat the whole time, and I ached to know what would happen next.

08 February 2021

Mills & Boon Monday: The Proud Italian by Alison Roberts

As soon as I finished the previous book in the 200 Harley Street series I picked up The Proud Italian by Alison Roberts. This is a series that is definitely easy to race through.

Girl from the Red Carpet by Scarlet Wilson 200 Harley Street Mills & Boon Medical romance

The Proud Italian...

Top-notch surgeons Rafael and Abbie de Luca were once the Hunter Clinic’s ‘dream-team’. But when their baby daughter fell ill, their idyllic life came crashing down.

Now reunited, it’s clear to this proud Italian and his wife that their time apart has changed them – but can they rekindle their once bright and burning passion?

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Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Family, belonging, lust, love, belief.

Content Warnings: Medical procedures, cancer, child death. 

I loved Abbie, I empathised so much with her. I felt so much for what she had been through. I also absolutely understood where Rafael was coming from, especially when an event from his past medical career was revealed.

As much as this story is a romance between Abbie and Rafael, it's also very much about the broken relationship and how they both reacted to what was happening with their daughter. They have to examine their past together and I love how that sparks them remembering the good times and the passions. Theirs was very much a relationship built on lust that then develops into love.

The ending was so so lovely, a part I would happily read over and over.

I haven't hit a book in this series I haven't enjoyed yet, so wish me luck!

Next up, American Surgeon in London by Lynne Mashall.

04 February 2021

Blog Review: The Puritan Princess by Miranda Malins *AD Gifted

Orion sent me a free finished copy of The Puritan Princess by Miranda Malins.

I've never read a book set in this era of history before, but I couldn't resist the gorgeous cover and the description cinched the deal.

The Puritan Princess by Miranda Malins book cover

London, 1657

The youngest daughter of Oliver Cromwell, eighteen-year-old Frances is finding her place at England's new centre of power.

Following the turmoil of Civil War, a fragile sense of stability has returned to the country. Her father has risen to the unprecedented position of Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, and Frances has found herself transported from her humble childhood home to the sumptuous palaces of Hampton Court and Whitehall, where she dreams of a love match that must surely be found at court.

But after an assassination attempt on the Cromwell family, Frances realises the precarious danger of her position - and when her father is officially offered the crown, Frances's fate suddenly assumes diplomatic and dynastic importance.

Will she become a political pawn, or can Frances use her new status to seize control and further her own ambitions?

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Source: Review Copy

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

5 Word Review: Family, politics, control, survival, intrigue.

My interests when it comes to historical fiction are usually quite a bit earlier or quite a bit later than the English Civil Wars. It meant I was a little apprehensive when I started this book. It wasn't in my comfort zone.

This book starts in the most despairing and desolate way. And after that I felt it took a little while to get going, it is quite slow. But the writing is absolutely gorgeous, and by the time I was a quarter of the way through and the pace picked up I was hooked.

The characters are so real and so vivid that I couldn't help but get invested. From Frances's first grief stricken moments, I wanted to know everything about her. She's fantastically headstrong and wilful and I loved it, and how it caused all sorts of extra tensions for her. She wasn't one for giving up. I can definitely see that she is not a character that everyone would like, but I loved her for it.

Excellent characterisation is backed up by exquisite settings. The world comes to life on the page, and I loved the small details that made it real. It is obvious that an incredible amount of research has gone into The Puritan Princess.

There was something almost epic-feeling about this book that I can't put my finger on. As much as the book only takes places during a relatively short timescale but the end I felt like I had been on a proper journey.

I learnt a lot about the one time non-King ruling family. How much of it was fact or fiction I have no idea, but I do know that I loved every moment. I will absolutely read more by this author, and I'm less afraid of picking up English Civil War books now.


29 January 2021

Book Review: Reunited with Her Blue-Eyed Billionaire by Barbara Wallace *AD Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Reunited with Her Blue-Eyed Billionaire by Barbara Wallace ahead of the blog tour.

I went in to this one totally blind, I saw the title, thought YES and then that was that. And it was a gorgeous surprise for myself.

Reunited with Her Blue-Eyed Billionaire by Barbara Wallace book cover mills & boon true love romance

Could a reunion at a wedding…

Lead to a happily-ever-after of their own?

For billionaire Whit Martin, Jamie Rutkowski is the one who got away.

Now his college girlfriend is back to celebrate their best’s friend’s marriage. As their chemistry reignites into an even greater passion, Whit’s determined that this time their relationship will work.

But are they ready to unlock the secrets of their past… If it means a chance at forever?

Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Friendship, art, writing, love, wealth.

I have a thing for bookish books. I love it when characters are just as bookish as I am, or are involved in the industry in some way.  So Jamie being a writer - and not only that, but a ghost-writer for a famous detective - meant this book was a hit from the start for me.

Jamie is a bombshell, both with her looks and her mind. I loved her outset, her proud manner and how she'd put her chin up and keep going. Her accomplishments are hers, and they're pretty secret, and she's so proud of herself - it made her quite a buoyant character who I loved to read about, it was so endearing.

At first I wasn't a fan of Whit. He's a rich polo player and I have to say I judged him on that at first. But he's not as shallow as I thought, he has surprising depths.

One of my favourite things about this book was Jamie and Whit reconnecting. Their passion had never really gone, they'd just ended up apart, and I loved seeing them try to work though that. I liked the small hidden histories between them, the recalled pillow-talk from long ago, the hesitant familiarity when they met again. I liked the small clashes and misunderstandings, and the love between them that was always there. It was so so lovely.

Honestly, I couldn't fault this book. I loved the characters, and the story, and the settings, and the history and mystery. It was excellent and a joy to read.

This was not my first Barbara Wallace romance (that honour went to Christmas With Her Millionaire Boss) and I can say that it definitely won't be my last. This book was another heart-warming success!

For starters, she wasn't a starry-eyed student who jumped into things heart first anymore.

Reunited with Her Blue-Eyed Billionaire by Barbara Wallace blog tour banner

27 January 2021

Book Review: Her Banished Knight’s Redemption by Melissa Oliver *AD Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Her Banished Knight’s Redemption by Melissa Oliver ahead of the blog tour.

I am having an excellent run at the moment with historical romances, every single one I have picked up has been a hit for me and Her Banished Knight's Redemption is no exception!

Her Banished Knight’s Redemption by Melissa Oliver book cover Mills & Boon historical romance

A lady’s need for protection

A knight’s chance for redemption

Exiled Knight William Geraint answers only to himself. Yet, a mission to find and reunite lost heiress Lady Isabel de Clancey with her family is Will’s chance to finally atone for the torment of his past. 

With every rushed mile, their intense attraction becomes dangerously thrilling.

He swore to protect Isabel not seduce her, but their desire for each other could threaten the redemption he’s worked so hard to achieve...

Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, trust, danger, passion, love. 

I was looking for a fun historical read and I was not disappointed Her Banished Knight's Redemption ticked all of the boxes for me for historical fiction, never mind romance!

I loved that there was a cameo of sorts of one of my favourite historical personalities - I am trash for William Marshal.

From very violent beginnings, I love how the story and the romance blooms.

Isabel is an excellent character - she is headstrong and wary and although she has experienced great tragedy and trauma she is confident and proud and knows what she wants. You would think that any girl would love to be found to be an heiress of vast fortune and lands, but all Isabel wants is to continue with the life she's built. I liked the way that Will brought her round (ish) and he's so honour bound that at times I wanted to give him a smack around the head.

I loved the tentative, slow build of passion between Isabel and Will. I loved the way the spark started to burn and just thinking back on it makes me want to put my hand on my heart and do an exaggerated sigh - in the best of ways. Their personalities clash in exactly the right way, and it's pretty intoxicating.

Outside of the romance, I loved all of the little details. This is definitely a book that will make you hungry and make you want to dance and have you wishing you could sleep under the stars. I had a huge grin on my face for so much of my time reading this book.

Melissa Oliver wrote an amazing medieval historical romance, and I can't wait to read more of their books. Definitely an author I will be keeping an eye on! 

"Oh, but who would need their wits at a time like this and in such a place as this?"

Her Banished Knight’s Redemption by Melissa Oliver blog tour banner

25 January 2021

Girl from the Red Carpet by Scarlet Wilson

I couldn't wait to read Girl from the Red Carpet by Scarlet Wilson after I finished the first 200 Harley Street romance, Surgeon in a Tux by Carol Marinelli. I actually bought the entire series after finishing the first one, and I've been racing through them ever since.

Girl from the Red Carpet by Scarlet Wilson 200 Harley Street Mills & Boon Medical romance

Behind the PR girl's smile…

Lexi Robbins is determined to throw off her daughter-of-a-celebrity image and make her name as the Hunter Clinic’s Head of PR.

And if that means pestering gruff, sexy Scottish surgeon Iain MacKenzie till he co-operates, she’ll do it! She’ll shine up this rough diamond and make him a star!

That’s the last thing long-grieving Iain wants, but could Lexi’s dazzling smile be his redemption…? 

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Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Fame, family, recognition, love, attraction.

Content Warnings: Medical procedures, infertility, death in childbirth. 

I didn't know if I'd like Lexi - I'd barely seen a glance of her in the first book. But I needn't have feared - she is an expectational character and I absolutely loved her.

Lexi has been through a lot before this book - she hides it well but her insecurities cut to the quick. I felt so sorry for her, and I hated that I knew exactly how she felt at times. I'm glad that just like Lexi I'm in a better place.

Lexi is a PR Powerhouse. Iain is a successful surgeon. Together they are just a firework waiting to explode.

Iain has a lot of trauma in his past. He's standoffish and at times quite aloof, but he has a big heart and a fierce protective streak. I do have to say that his whole alpha routine at around three quarters through the book didn't do it for me, but otherwise I loved him.

And the passion between them. Wow, pass me a fan, I need to cool down.

I am absolutely loving the 200 Harley Street series, I have a feeling that every book will be a hit because I am enjoying it  that much. The ebook bundle of all eight romances is just £6.49 from Mills & Boon.

Next up, The Proud Italian by Alison Roberts.

24 January 2021

Six for Sunday: Books I'm Excited For in 2021

 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 all about books, and this week the prompt is Books I'm Excited For in 2021. My mind went automatically blank except for my first pick, which I cannot contain my excitement for.

Six for Sunday: Books I'm Excited For in 2021

Six Books I'm Excited For in 2021

The Infinity Files by SM Wilson
I am so freaking excited for this book. I absolutely adored The Extinction Trials, and I'm excited to see this author's next sci-fi steps.

Crescent City II by Sarah J Maas
House of Earth and Blood was a big surprise for me last year. Big in that it's bloody enormous, and a surprise in that I totally loved it. Even though it tied up excellently and would work as a standalone, I need more Bryce in my life.

Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn
I have read Dangerous Remedy three times already, and I can't wait to find out what happens next. Bring it on!

A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer
I have had this on pre-order for the longest time, and I just need to to arrive already. And I actually need to read the second book, but there you go.

Nowhere by Brandon Sanderson
I absolutely raced through the previous two books in the series and I can't wait to do it all again. That's if Nowhere even comes out this year!

Namesake by Adrienne Young
Adrienne Young has been an auto-buy author for me ever since their debut, Sky in the Deep. They can do no wrong and I love everything they write. I can't wait to read the rest of Fable's story.

Which books are you excited for this year?

22 January 2021

Book Beginnings: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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 Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo cover

By the time Alex managed to get the blood out of her good wool coat, it was too warm to wear it.
I have had this book since it came out - I pre-ordered it and I'm sure I even have two copies.

So naturally I haven't yet read it!

The cover is dark, and because I hate snakes I actually have it covered up with a fabric book jacket.

I absolutely love this first line. I love the mystery of it, and how it starts to show the setting. In just a few words I know that the weather is turning from winter to spring, and I'm itching to know all about the blood on the coat and who is cleaning it off.

Ninth House is Leigh Bardugo's adult debut. I'm excited to see where it takes me and how I enjoy it.

There were plenty of human monsters out there. Alex had met a few.
This is from page 56 in my finished hardback copy

I feel like the pace at the moment is quite middling, which I wasn't expecting. I was honestly expecting Ninth House to be a lost faster in terms of pace. Don't get me wrong, a lot has happened and I'm loving the story, but it's not quite leaving me breathless.

This is going to be another difficult read, so wish me luck!

What are you reading this week?

18 January 2021

Book Review: Surgeon in a Tux by Carol Marinelli

I'm not really a fan of medical romances (or so I thought) yet something about Surgeon in a Tux by Carol Marinelli piqued my interest. So I bought it.

And I have no regrets. I raced through it in a single sitting and then immediately bought the rest of the books in the 200 Harley Street series too.

Surgeon in a Tux by Carol Marinelli 200 Harley Street Mills & Boon cover

Unbuttoned by the boss!

Renowned plastic surgeon Leo Hunter has sacrificed everything to restore the Hunter Clinic to its former glory. Now this legendary playboy - equally at home in a tux as he is in his scrubs - always has a glamorous woman on his arm.

So why is he drawn to his prim and ├╝ber-efficient new head nurse, Lizzie Birch?

She’s the first woman in a long time who is resistant to Leo’s intoxicating charms.

And it might break all his rules, but Leo can’t resist the challenge of unbuttoning the intriguing Lizzie!

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Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Reputation, love, family, care, prestige.

Content Warnings: Medical procedures 

If I'm honest, I bought Surgeon in a Tux on a whim back in 2015, when it was free in a promotion. Medical romances generally aren't quite my thing because I'm very squeamish. But this weekend I found myself without an internet connection and in the mood to read a romance - and this was the only unread one that was already downloaded to my kindle.

This book didn't have many scenes to be squeamish about, for all that it is set in a luxurious clinic. So I had nothing to worry about! There were a few scenes with minor operations and the removal of stitches, but they were few and far between and not graphic at all. Any content warnings are very minor and brief.

I loved Lizzie. She's so selfless that it's almost a flaw, and it's so understandable why she is the way she is. She's so caring, and so suited to her job.

At first the last thing I wanted was her and Leo together. Being a romance, I knew it was inevitable. They are driven very much by lust, and I loved how their relationship developed from it. This romance moves fast, propelled along by the fast-paced working environment of the clinic. I loved seeing Leo soften, and by the end I was rooting for them to be together.

I have gone on to buy the complete 200 Harley Street series and I can't wait to read the rest. Also, Carol Marinelli is definitely going on my romance-authors-auto-buy list because I absolutely loved the writing style.

17 January 2021

Six for Sunday: Books I Wish I’d Read in 2020

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 all about books, and this week the prompt is Books I Wish I’d Read in 2020. This list is actually a lot longer than just six books, but these are the ones I really wish I'd read.

Six for Sunday: Books I Wish I’d Read in 2020

Six Books I Wish I’d Read in 2020

Heartstopper Volume Three by Alice Oseman
I was supposed to go to an event for the release of this, but Covid was starting to spread internationally and I decided for my health to stay put. I did go and collect my copy and my goodies on a quieter day, but I still haven't got around to reading it yet. Which is weird, because I know it's going to be super comforting, like a hug in the form of a graphic novel.

The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven
I guess I just need to pick this one up. I absolutely loved The Exact Opposite of Okay, Laura Steven's writing is hilarious.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
I have this book, it's on my shelves, I have no excuse. I keep hearing absolutely amazing things about it from everyone, so I know it's going to be a hit.

Midnight Twins by Holly Race
I am hearing about this book more and more, and wishing more and more that I had read it when I got it! I'm determined to get to it this year.

Historically Inaccurate by Shay Bravo
It sounds amazing, it sounds fun, and yet it's just sitting on my shelves. Why am I like this? Why?

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed
I have picked this book up, read the first chapter, loved it, and yet put it down. About six times. I have no idea why as I love the writing and I'm hooked, but er... I don't know. I definitely want to read it sooner rather than later.

Which books did you wish you'd read in 2020?

15 January 2021

Book Beginnings: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

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 Gilded Ones by Namina Forna.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna book cover

Today is the Ritual of Purity.
I got The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna in a Fairyloot box last year, and it's gorgeous.

The cover of mine is covered in gold foil, it is so so shiny. Book magpie that I am, I am in love.

Right at the front is a small box stating that The Gilded Ones includes scenes of violence which some readers may find distressing. I appreciate the content warning so much but to go a little more in-depth, warnings include violence, death, genocide, rape, torture, confinement, racism, misogyny, religious bigotry and gore. And I'm not even finished the book yet.

The first line gives nothing away, but it does hint at some religious fervour, or at least a heavily religious society. All at once I am intrigued and my guard is up - the concept of purity is something that grinds my gears. As you get in to the first chapter you end up absolutely riveted.

More memories, all so sudden and powerful, my body trembles from the force of them.
This is from page 56 in my finished paperback copy.

The Gilded Ones is incredibly fast paced, and it's a book I struggle to put down. So much has happened in just 56 pages, it truly is incredible.

This is a hard read, but it is also excellent.

What are you reading this week?

13 January 2021

Audiobook Review: Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina

I can't remember when I bought my audiobook copy of Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina, but I know it was a fair few years ago.

For whatever reason, it's been languishing on my Audible shelf, un-listened-to. Which is surprising, as I have a great love of speculative fiction, and Steampunk in particular. It is the first book in The Magnificent Devices Series.

Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina cover The Magnificent Devices series

She wants to be an engineer, but her parents – and society – will never allow it.

Until riots break out in steampunk London and she seizes her chance…

It’s 1889, and Lady Claire Trevelyan is expected to do nothing more with her life than catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, her talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the laboratory, where her experiments have an embarrassing habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine despite the fact that everyone knows the world runs on steam, Claire finds herself out in the street with nothing to her name but her steam landau and her second best hat.

But the embarrassments of her old life might be the talents that save her now… If she can stay alive long enough to barter her skills for a street gang’s protection. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the London underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices… A double life Claire must keep secret if she is to achieve her dream and become the assistant to a world-renowned scientist …

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Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Adventure, steampunk, family, friendship, society.

Content Warnings: Suicide.

First and foremost, this book is an excellent adventure. It's a proper Steampunk romp, lots of fun to experience, and with a well-fleshed out world. The story itself isn't long, but it is the first in a series and sets up the world magnificently.

Fiona Hardingham does an amazing job narrating the story - the voices and intonation she puts on is perfect.

I love how this world is still full of political intrigue and societal restraints. As much as technologies have advanced, the rights of women have not, and Claire rallies against it. I love her headstrong actions, her sense of adventure, her desire to learn more. She's inquisitive and bright and this is evidenced right from the start in a pretty explosive way. And as everything unfolds her whole world changes.

I quite enjoyed the familial dramas, although one was tragically heart-breaking. Claire's mother wants what she thinks is best for her, but it does mean that she and Claire butt heads quite a lot. With society as it is in the book, it's understandable and at times I was a little exasperated with Claire. Her mother does love her, really, and she's trying her best under terrible circumstances.

I was quite sad that Claire found herself so alone and a little lost. But it was where the adventure truly kicked off, where things got so dire that they had to change. It's where Claire properly came into herself her sharp mind and tenacity took centre stage.

Lady of Devices was such a fun a read, and I will absolutely continue with the Magnificent Devices series.

Girls should certainly be heard. It is their voices the world is missing.


11 January 2021

Book Review: The Heiress’s Pregnancy Surprise by Donna Alward *AD Gifted

I was provided with a free digital review copy of The Heiress’s Pregnancy Surprise by Donna Alward ahead of the blog tour.

But honestly, I would have picked this up regardless of the blog tour - I love a bodyguard romance and it has been so long since I read one.

The Heiress’s Pregnancy Surprise by Donna Alward cover mills and book

A VIP assignment...

An unexpected consequence!

Ex-SAS officer Jacob Wolfe's latest job, as aristocrat Charlotte Pemberton's bodyguard, is pushing him to his limits.

Never one to step over the line, he's determined to ignore their intense connection.

Until a single dance leads to a forbidden kiss... and Jacob is tempted to break all his rules.

But their resulting night together has an unexpected consequence...

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Source: Review Copy | Blog Tour

5 Word Review: Family, obsession, danger, love, responsibility.

You know when you're just about shouting at your book KISSSSSS. NOW KISS? Yup, this book. 

I love the chemistry sparkling between the characters, I love the dual perspective, I love the vibrant settings. I felt at home in the world, loved the fashion and the colour. 

Charlotte is headstrong and confident, but not wihh out insecurities. It was lovely to see her grow and bloom under the influence of Jacob. Jacob is very much bound by his own code of honour, and haunted by his past. He has layers which were excellently explored, slowly peeled away. 

One thing I didn't like much about this story was that Charlotte kept throwing Jacob's past with Jacinta back at him. It hurt to read, and it felt out of character for Charlotte, even with her past experiences and the walls she has up. 

The beginning of this book was a much faster pace than I am used to for romances, and it was excellent. I was gripped and couldn't bear to put it down, and I ended up so invested in the story, and in Charlotte and Jacob.

10 January 2021

Six for Sunday: Bookish Wins of 2020

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 all about books, and this week the prompt is Bookish Wins of 2020. I actually found this prompt quite hard because 2020 was a shit show if I'm honest, but it was also really rewarding once I figured out my six wins. It was like... Yeah, I did do something.

Six for Sunday: Bookish Wins of 2020

Six Bookish Wins of 2020

I read Priory of the Orange Tree
This gets a win all of its own, because it is A Beast of a book at over 800 pages, and it took me a fair while to get through. I read it for my first Series Crackdown in February,

I Unhauled 100 Books
During the spring/summer I set a little table up at the top of the front garden with a box of books for people to take for free - I needed to un-haul books, libraries were closed, it was a success.

I Chased Happy Endings
I read So Much Romance in 2020, and I loved it. I love the joy of happy endings so much that continuing to read lots of Romance has made it into my Bookish Resolutions for 2021.

I read House of Earth and Blood (twice)
This is another book that I picked up due to Series Crackdown, although this time in August, and it is another Beast of a book at over 800 pages. Only this time I managed to read it twice, because I wanted to break my heart repeatedly.

I Found Bookish Podcasts
I found some amazing bookish podcasts to listen to! My favourite is Literally Gagging, although I now hear their voices reading the sex scenes in romance books every so often which is less than ideal but also quite hilarious.

My Nephew is a Reader
He's currently reading about four years ahead of his classmates and I couldn't be more proud! I'm struggling to keep up with what to buy for him, but it means I'm reading a lot more kid lit too which is very fun.

What was your bookish win of 2020?

09 January 2021

Medieval-A-Thon TBR

Medieval-a-thon is a month long readathon hosted by Holly Hearts Books.

The aim of the readathon is to increase your nobility with every book you read You start as a prisoner with nothing, and then build yourself up the ranking with each book you read. You also read books to fulfil prompts for different professions.

I am extra excited because I have commissioned some more pieces of my character from Franki!

Medieval-A-Thon TBR

First off, for every book you read your rank increases. 


Medieval-A-Thon rank

Profession Prompts

I think that the prompts are excellent, there is truly something for everyone. I decided pretty quickly which profession I wanted to go for, as the prompts fit some books I already intended to read this year.

Blacksmith Profession

  • Read a book with gold, silver, or bronze in the title or cover
  • A book you're scared to read
  • A book with a weapon on the cover
  • A hardcover
  • A series finale

Medieval-A-Thon Prompts - Choose your Profession - Blacksmith

So there are the prompts for the Blacksmith Profession. But what will I be reading?

Medieval-A-Thon TBR

Like everyone else, I am starting out as a prisoner, with nothing to my name. I'm hoping to get to at least princess rank, anything beyond that is a massive bonus.

  • Read a Book with Gold, Dilver, or Bronze in the Title or Cover
    • The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
      I got a copy in a Fairyloot box last year, and I wanted to hold off until closer to publication before I picked it up. Now it's time! And the cover is gorgeous, covered in gold foiling.
  • A Book You're Scared to Read
    • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
      This book has been languishing on my TBR since my pre-order arrived. I've just been a bit scared to pick it up because I know it will be a difficult read.
  • A Book with a Weapon on the Cover
    • The Poppy War by RF Kuang
      There's a bow on the cover, and I have been meaning to reread this book for a while. I know it's going to be hard, I've been there before.
  • A Hardcover
    • The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang
      When I originally finished The Poppy War I wanted the next one immediately. Unfortunately I had read a review copy and had ages to go. And then when The Dragon Republic came out I wasn't in the right headspace. Now it's time.
  • A Series Finale
    • The Burning God by RF Kuang
      I have very specifically put this on my TBR to make sure that I finish this series. One of my Bookish Resolutions for 2021 is to finish more series.

There we have it! Just this profession will let me hit my goal, but I am hoping to read a few more for this readathon. I am not counting any Romance books towards my goal, as I have a separate year long challenge for Romance books going on in the background.

What's on your TBR for the next month?


08 January 2021

Book Beginnings: Lore by Alexandra Bracken *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 Lore by Alexandra Bracken (free copy).

Lore by Alexandra Bracken cover

He woke to the feeling of rough ground beneath him and the stench of mortal blood.
I was sent a free finished copy of Lore by Alexandra Bracken.

The cover is beautiful, it's mostly black and white except for the barest colour in one eye and the gold foil on the lettering. It's very striking.

I like this first line. We're plunged into the action straight away and immediately I want to read more of the story. I want to know who "he" is, why he is on the ground, and why he can smell blood. This story starts with blood and violence and gore, and I was not expecting it.

"Bind you fate to mine," the goddess said again, offering her bloodied hand. "Your heart... it aches for it..."
This is from page 56 in my finished paperback copy.

Oh boy I am desperate to get to here. So much blood in these snippets. As I type, I'm only on chapter three, but this book is surprisingly dark.

What are you reading this week?

06 January 2021

Five Favourite Quotes: A Throne of Swans by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

I have read this book at least four times now, and while I can never quite find the words for a review (does that happen to you too when you love a book?) I thought it was finally time to at least share my favourite quotes from A Throne of Swans by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr.

Today I'm sharing my five favourite quotes from this gorgeous fantasy, and hoping I will inspire you to read it.

A Throne of Swans by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr favourite quotes

Today I'm sharing my five favourite quotes from the first book in the duology.

I have learned that it is possible to stand in the open air with the wind on my face and still suffocate.
Now my father is dead, I am the only swan here. 
And I do not fly.
'History books don't lie, my lady.' 
I want to point out that surely that depends on who is writing them.
I want him to die, I suppose. I've had it planned out for long enough: how I would kill him if I ever found him.
I fear war is coming, whatever we do.


Just sharing these quotes has me itching to pick up A Throne of Swans again (again, again)! Luckily the second book A Crown of Talons releases soon.

04 January 2021

Book Review: A Midnight Kiss to Seal the Deal by Sophie Pembroke

Earlier this year, I read Awakening His Shy Cinderella by Sophie Pembroke and I absolutely loved it - in that story we got the barest glimpse of Celeste and Theo and I needed more.

As soon as A Midnight Kiss to Seal the Deal by Sophie Pembroke came out I bought it, and it was a gorgeous read for Betwixtmas. 

A Midnight Kiss to Seal the Deal by Sophie Pembroke cover Mills & Boon

The start of something magical...

This New Year's Eve

TV heartthrob Theo Montgomery and historian Celeste Hunter are complete opposites. Yet -  suddenly - they have one thing in common... They're at the centre of a media disaster.

Could a fake relationship save their reputations? With the world watching, they must convince the public they're the real deal.

But if their relationship is just pretend, why do they never want it to end...?

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Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Family, fame, reputation, secrets, love.

I was between books and in a bit of slump, with no real inspiration when I picked this up. And I'm so glad I did because the spark in this book brought out the spark in me, and I couldn't stop reading.

I absolutely love a fake-dating story, because the real feelings always surface. I love the anticipation, the slow build, the realisation. A Midnight Kiss to Seal the Deal does it perfectly.

Celeste is confident and smart and driven - she's a bit of a force of nature. Despite that she's also unsure of herself. I loved the layers to her character, how all was not as it seemed.

Theo is a lot deeper than he seems and I loved it - he has hidden depths and I loved seeing them revealed as the story progressed. He's a pretty fun personality, despite his family life. And when he and Celeste come together? Yes.

I could read about Celeste and Theo forever, they're an excellent couple and I loved how they came together. The chemistry was incredible, and their relationship was so easy to believe.

'I couldn't start the new year without you,' she shouted, the words hitting his heart.