Thursday 27 February 2020

Kill The Queen by Jennifer Estep (Crown of Shards #1)

Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

This book had been waiting for me on my kindle for over a year before I plucked up the courage to finally read it. Why did it take me so long? I have no idea! I guess I was nervous that it wouldn’t live up to expectations. The cover is awesome, the blurb sounds awesome, the feedback from those who have read it is that it’s awesome, but too much hype and praise can be a bad thing for setting a person’s expectations super high and it all conspired to make me super anxious about beginning to read.
However! I’m glad that I got over it for Kill the Queen was a super enjoyable fantasy adventure filled with plotting, scheming, politics, loss, vengeance and strength.

The book is set in the fantasy kingdom of Bellona. The characters are human but most - if not all - wield magic to varying degrees. Lady Everleigh Saffira Winter Blair (aka Evie) is a distant relative of the monarch. She was orphaned as a child so has been raised at court, she doesn’t have the magical abilities or strength of her relatives and generally, she has a hard time of it. Initially, she seems perfectly pleasant but mousey and unremarkable. Certainly not the badass I assumed she was from the blurb and cover.

The book drags on a fair bit in the beginning and I’m not going to lie in that I was getting super worried that the book would be one of the super-hyped reads that I just did not see the fascination with but then the shit hit the fan in a spectacular way and changed my mind!

Now, a massacre is hardly a good thing to get excited about but it marked the moment that this book landed for me. From the moment the blood started to flow - around 15-20% into the book - the story seized me by the throat and wouldn’t let me go until the end.

The massacre was both the end and the beginning for Evie. It marked the end of her life as she knew it and set her on the journey to becoming a gladiator and gave her the tools to rise up, avenge her relatives, and rise to become the Winter Queen. It made her a badass.

Evie grows so much throughout this book and I quickly grew to love her! I have so many questions as to what being a Winter Queen means, what the full extent of her hidden power is and lots of pent up romantic frustrations regarding her and a certain someone that I could burst!

The friends and allies she makes throughout the book are noteworthy, memorable and truly loyal. I loved them so much!
The villains of the story are truly villainous and I hated them and am super nervous to see what they have in store next.

Kill The Queen is my first novel by Estep and it won't be my last! I can’t wait to get stuck into Protect The Prince!

If you’ve been on the fence about reading this get yourself off the fence and do it! It’s worth it.

Favourite Quotes:

“The day of the royal massacre started out like any other. With me doing something completely, utterly useless.”


“Someone always wanted to kill the queen.”


Tuesday 25 February 2020

A Tell Me Something Tuesday Collection #1

I haven't taken part in Tell Me Something Tuesday for quite a while so I thought, "why not jump in and answer a bunch of questions all in one go?" So, I did!

Let's dive in...

What's your favorite underrated book/series?

Hmmm... This is tricky and I'm not 100% sure I'd class them as favourites but I liked them very very much...

Kalayna Price's Grave Witch series springs to mind for underrated UF. 

Katie Delahanty's In Bloom springs to mind as an underrated book (contemporary romance)...

 As does Heather Lyon's Deep End of The Sea (fantasy romance). 

I'm sure there are countless others but these are the ones my brain spat out at me so I'm rolling with them as my favourites, lol. 

Who are some of the recent debut/ new to me authors that impressed you?

This year, so far, Helen Hoang is the only new to me author who I adored! 
If you haven't read The Bride Test you so should... I fully intend to read more from her including the first book in the series, The Kiss Quotient. 

My favourite new-to-me author of last year was Annette Marie (no surprise there, lol!)
 I went from never having read anything of hers to having read almost everything because her blend of UF and Fantasy is freaking awesome!

Do you take advantage of free chapter previews?

Typically, no, as I don't see the point in reading the beginning of a book then being cut off for months! However, I have read a few chapter previews and when I do, I tend to read them in the days leading up to the book's release basically giving me a head start on reading it. That way, if I'm enjoying it,  I can just buy the book and keep on reading. 

I think this method defeats the publisher's intention though... They want people to read them in advance and generate buzz and build anticipation, but without having to pony up a full arc. 
If people ignored preview chapters (or read them just before release) they'd have to rethink that strategy. 
I guess the preview chapters would be enough for some people to decide whether they want to buy a book or not so could be used as a quick and cheap way for a reader to make a decision on whether to invest in a book but I still believe it's more about publishers wanting to limit arcs and the potential for spoilers. 

What type of books do you like to cuddle up with in winter?

Whatever book I feel like! I'm a mood reader and I'm just as likely to read a "beach read" in winter as I am a "festive read" in summer. 
That said, I do enjoy festive reads in the run up to Christmas, and I do think I tend to crave things like PNR/UF more in autumn and winter than I do in summer. 
Summer, I crave more contemporary romances.

Do you read/listen to more than one book at a time, or do you give every book your undivided attention? 

I tend to have an audiobook and an ebook on the go at the same time. 
Sometimes, although it's rare, I have multiple ebooks in progress of different genres as well as an audiobook.
Having the books I'm reading in different genres is the key thing for me. 
I can't have multiple books of the same genre in progress simultaneously or it annoys me. The purpose of different books is to serve different reading moods and that purpose would be defeated if they were the same genre. 

Tell me about the city/town you live in.

I live in a small village bordering Salisbury (which is our postal town) and the New Forest.
Salisbury is a cathedral city in the south of England. 
A cathedral city is basically a town which is way too small to be considered a city under standard definitions but is classed as one anyway because it has a cathedral: Yep, it's weird, I have no idea why they have this definition but it is what it is... Anyway, the professor and I moved here after University (11 years ago) and here we remain!
It's very pretty here and it's excellently placed for travel to lots of locations with the centre of London being only a 90 minutes train ride away.

What's your favourite underrated books/series? 

Monday 24 February 2020

Family Adventures! Sarum Lights: A light and sound spectacular (Salisbury 800 years Celebrations)

This year marks the 800th anniversary of Salisbury and that means that this lovely cathedral city of mine is doing lots of random stuff to celebrate.

The kick-off event was this week at Salisbury Cathedral where they held "a light and sound spectacular" dubbed Sarum Lights. 
Combining light and sound projections, the exhibit explored the history of the cathedral over its 800 years celebrating the founding of the cathedral all the way through to modern-day Salisbury. 

I've been enjoying the trend of projecting light onto buildings to change them or bring them to life so there was no way I was going to miss this!

Salisbury has been our home for 11 years now and the cathedral is a dominating feature of the skyline which I guess isn't surprising seeing it has the tallest (and oldest) church spire in the UK. 
For my fellow history aficionados, Salisbury Cathedral houses the best preserved of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta. (Which is on public display if you ever want to see it.)

The event took place at night so the lights could work their magic and we were super lucky that the rain that had been plaguing us for weeks took a night off!

They'd turned out the street lights of the Cathedral Close and lit up the pavement cutting across the grass with fairy lights.
The spotlights that lit up the cathedral were also turned off which gave it a spooky almost gothic feel and when combined with the eerie blue glow of the projections from inside the Cathedral, the majestic building looked haunted! lol.
Very atmospheric.

Following the fairy light path around the building to the West Wall, we stood back on the grass and watched them project the history of the Cathedral onto the cathedral itself.
It took us back in time from when the Cathedral used to be out at Old Sarum, the decision to relocate it and the legend of an arrow being shot from Old Sarum and landing at the site of the "new" cathedral (yep, the 800 year old one, lol).

I should also mention that the legend is actually less pretty than what was projected but I guess the arrow hitting a stag and the stag running until it collapsed dead at the site of the current cathedral is less appealing to the masses...

While the story was projected in pictures onto the side of the cathedral, beautiful music was played from speakers surrounding the site and the music, more than the images, generated a whole load of feels in those present. I heard quite a few people talking about the music giving them goosebumps, etc. 

After watching the external displays, we went into the cathedral itself and it was breathtaking.
There was music that again created a majestic atmosphere and different images projecting different stories onto different parts of the cathedral as you walked through... It was like walking through a kaleidoscope at times, which could be disorienting, but still cool.

(Fingers crossed the video works!)

I thought that the inside stories were less clear and harder to follow than the outside display but it didn't detract from how visually appealing it all was.

Salisbury Cathedral sits right in the middle of the city and its spire can be seen for miles outside the city if the lay of the land is right but it is so easy to take it for granted as it's part of the furniture so to speak. It's awesome seeing it celebrated for the incredible building it is. I'm in actual awe of the fact that this building (including the spire) was founded 800 years ago. The fact that the entire building was built within 40 or so years, is mind-boggling especially when you factor in that they built a spire that's over 120m high all the way back in the medieval period!


The event cost £14 for the three of us (as we booked in advance) and it was well worth the ticket price. As our time slot wasn't until 19:00 we had a meal out beforehand and it made for a really lovely evening.


Thursday 20 February 2020

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

*minor spoilers ahead*

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

The Bride Test is another one of those books that I’ve been seeing everywhere since before it even released up to the present day.
Everyone seems to love it and I’ve always felt like I was missing out on something by not reading it. I’ve always liked the sound of the book and I would have read it sooner but I’m contrary and rebellious and the more something is hyped the more reluctant I am to read it, even when I want to!

So, that’s what happened with The Bride Test and why it took me so long to read it.
And what an idiot I was! I completely agree with the hype machine! This book was awesome.

It’s funny, sad, sweet, sexy, emotional, frustrating, and motivational and sometimes it’s all those things near simultaneously!

The cultural aspects of the story were fascinating but utterly alien to me.

The level of what I’d consider poverty that Esme and her family lived in was eye-opening and I could wholeheartedly understand why she’d agree to fly to America and marry a stranger to provide a better life for her own daughter (and her mother/grandmother).
I love how hard a worker she was. I adored how much she wanted to learn and “make something of herself.” She never gave up, she was always kind, always tried to be cheerful and look on the brightside. She didn’t complain and she was such a lovely person that I’d want to be her friend if she were real!

Khai was also wonderful. He’s a good son and brother and he works hard. He shows kindness to the random interloper his mum drops in his lap with little warning and tries his best to accommodate her until it’s time for her to go home… For his mother’s scheme will never work, right?

I thought the way Khai was written was very well done. His autism doesn’t define him but it does make him see the world differently and interact with it differently. Esme learning about it and learning what Khai needed was just perfect. Khai learning to live his life with another person and learning that he was capable of love? Also perfect.

Esme and Khai just worked so well together. I was rooting for them all the way through. I was so happy reading this book that I never wanted it to end and to leave these people. I thought the ending was a bit far-fetched but I enjoyed how everything played out.

The only reason I didn’t give the book five stars was the fact that Esme never actually told Khai about her daughter! She kept putting it off and putting it off and the way he found out (even though he handled it like the sweetheart he is) was just not good enough. 

My one and only grumble aside, I highly recommend this book to my fellow romance lovers!

Favourite Quotes:

“How did you change your life when you were trapped like this? Her history didn't define her. Her origins didn't define her. At least, they shouldn't. She could be more, if she had a chance.”


“She needed to get ready for bed, but first, she wanted to do nothing for a few moments. Just nothing. Nothing was such a luxury.”


“My heart works in a different way, but it’s yours. You’re my one.”

Tuesday 18 February 2020

The Arrangement by Sylvia Day, Minerva Spencer, Kristin Vayden

#1 international bestselling author Sylvia Day, hailed as "one of the most successful romance writers in the world," is joined by powerhouses Minerva Spencer and Kristin Vayden for a trio of sizzling historical romances that prove passion is timeless in...The Arrangement.

Mischief and the Marquess by Sylvia Day - Available for the first time since 2007!

Justin, the Marquess of Fontaine, and Lady Sophie Milton-Riley, are completely ill-suited to one another. But they will have to prove it in order to end to their mothers' insistence that they should marry. Yet the more they attempt to demonstrate how wrong their union would be, the more surprisingly, irresistibly right things feel...

The Duke's Treasure by Minerva Spencer - First time in print!

Plain, prickly Josephine Loman has loved Beaumont Halliwell, the Fifth Duke of Wroxton, since the first time she saw him. But the most beautiful man she's ever met had eyes only for Jo's erstwhile friend, who betrayed Beau's trust by marrying his brother. Beau hasn't been home in years, but when his brother dies in an accident, he must marry to save the impoverished dukedom. And Jo is the overlooked heiress who will turn his world upside down...

The Inconvenient Countess by Kristin Vayden - First time in print!

As the eldest in a poverty-stricken family of daughters, Miss Diana Katherine Lambson's only option is a marriage of convenience. Her only prospect is a rogue with a miserable reputation. Her only true desire: freedom. And that is exactly what Charles Brook, Earl of Barrington, is willing to offer, in return for the respectability their union will give him. He will even provide Diana with a contract. But does she dare entrust her future to a scoundrel? Does she dare not to?

*Review copy received via NetGalley*

It’s been a really long time since I’ve read any historical romance but I couldn’t resist this collection of novellas mainly because Sylvia Day’s historicals (back in ‘the day’) were so damn addictive!

Mischief and the Marquess by Sylvia Day
The first story in the collection is Day’s and it was just as I remembered her books to be: sexy, passionate and utterly addictive!
In Mischief and the Marquess, we get a marquess reuniting with a woman he had loved when they were young but who was utterly oblivious to his affections and therefore agreed to marry another. A scandal ruined her reputation and now she lives quietly with her grandmother - who just happens to be close friends with the marquess’s mother. Naturally, match-making schemes ensue!
I liked both the characters very much, their chemistry set the pages on fire and I was left thoroughly charmed and delighted by their story.
My one complaint is my almost universal complaint when it comes to novellas - even ones written as well as this was - it was too short to have any real depth! There was no time to properly dive into the characters and the complexities of society thus overcoming the barriers to their pairing in a believable way… But Day still gave me more than I was expecting, so it’s a minor niggle.

The Duke's Treasure by Minerva Spencer
Minerva Spencer was a completely new to me author coming into this novella but after reading I’ll definitely be checking out her other titles.
The Duke's Treasure is a story of a soldier returning from war to deal with his family's estate - and his new title - after the death of his elder brother. His estate is in desperate need of money so he marries a stupendously wealthy gentleman’s daughter who is technically beneath a duke’s station seeing as her father made his fortune (and continues to do so) in trade. Both characters were prickly about the union and they didn’t get off to the easiest start and I found their prickly interactions and sniping a bit irritating when all I wanted was a nice story but I was pleased to see them get over themselves fairly quickly and build a union that worked.
This one was my least favourite of the three novellas but I still enjoyed it.

The Inconvenient Countess by Kristin Vayden
Kristin Vayden is another new to me author but I enjoyed her writing style very much. 
In this novella, we have a workaholic rake in need of a wife in order to show he’s turning over a new leaf and becoming a family man in order to secure the purchase of another estate. Due to his reputation, he’d struggle to find a bride in London society so he returns to his country estate in order to secure a marriage of convenience with the eldest daughter of an impoverished family of suitable standing. Naturally, things go against his plan and the pair fall in love and live happily ever after! 

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect with this pair but I liked both the main characters, I enjoyed how there was no major quarrels and no shrewish behaviour.  The story flowed nicely and the easy way in which the temporary marriage became a real and lasting one. 

All in all, this was a super enjoyable book with three deliciously bite-sized novellas to indulge in. If you’re looking to “test” the waters with regency romance then it’s a great sampler to begin with and if you’re a fan of the genre looking for some quick and lovely reads then it’s a must have.

Friday 14 February 2020

What Genre Do You Like The Most? (Reasons To Love Urban Fantasy)

It won't come as a surprise to anyone who follows this blog (or spends five minutes skimming through it) that I am a romance lover.
I love LOVE, people!
But what maybe a little more surprising is that the genre I love most is Urban Fantasy
Gasp! I know! But it's true!

Today, I want to discuss all the reasons that I love this genre the most and why it trumps all the others for me.

Reason Number One: It is pure escapism

With UF you have magical and sometimes monstrous creatures living in a world that is not too dissimilar to the world in which we live in. You can escape into it because it's familiar while being foreign. It's exciting learning about the new world - the world-building is amazing - and you can accept a lot of whacky and unlikely shit because the world is different when magic and magical beings exist.

Monsters are more often than not literal monsters so reading about the bad things they do is easier than reading, say, crime/thriller novels where the monsters are people just like like you.

As for comparing them to something like contemporary romance... Contemporary romances are set in the world we live in, just as it is. You know the rules, you know what people are like and therefore the opportunities to do something whacky without it jarring me out of the story are far less.
Some of the situations that present in contemporary romances are painfully unrealistic to the point where I spend a lot of mental energy actively reminding myself it doesn't need to be true to life.
This doesn't mean that I can't enjoy a contemporary romance - I love contemporary romances! - but it's one of the reasons that the genre isn't my favourite.

Reason Number Two: They're a little bit of everything!

The range of topics, styles, genres, within UF is unreal!

You love romance? (Hell yeah!) Paranormal Romance? (Yes, please!)
Then you can find plenty of rockin' UF series with a strong romantic couple to root for throughout five, six, seven, eight, twelve books!
The romance can be established in book one but more often than not it's a slow burn that develops beautifully over a few and I am here. For. It.

You like mysteries? Thrillers? Then look no further!
I don't think I've ever read a UF that doesn't have a crime or some other mystery to solve. I typically avoid crime, mystery, thrillers but when it's wrapped up in UF I love it!

You like action? You got it!
You want history? Mythology? Fantasy? It's all there!
No sex, a little sex, pure smut? You'll find something that caters to this too.

Urban Fantasy is a melting pot and it has no limits.

Oh, and if you hate romance in your books? (I don't know how to talk to you 😜) Then you can find UF that meets that criteria also!

Reason Number Three: Lots of kick-ass characters!

There are many UF that have a strong male leads but there are just as many (if not more) that have kick-ass women in the lead.

Whether our protagonist has extraordinary magical powers or not, they are rarely powerless.
They fight for what they perceive as right. They are brave. They grow into their abilities - or learn to adapt without them - and they learn to own their destiny.
They're often snarky, spunky and fierce but with a soft squishy side.

You're not going to find any damsels in distress in UF. The women in these novels handle their own business and don't need a big strong anyone to charge in and save them... (Except when they do and that is also fabulous.)

People can just be who they are in UF unless they are hiding some forbidden power or something... That's less true of other types of fiction set in the real world.

Reason Number Four: They are series!

You get a character you love and you get to watch them evolve over multiple books.
You are with them from start to finish. Good times, bad times and all the times in between.

Often, the characters start a low point and you get to watch them rise. To overcome their struggles and become the people they were born to be.

Each book has a plot that wraps up at the end but also contributes to an overarching plotline.
This system removes the requirement for cliffhangers but keeps you coming back for more!

With other genres, this happens less so.
With romance genres (aka the category I principally read in) the most you typically get is seeing the characters crop up again in interconnected standalones.
When you're a very character-driven reader (like moi), this is hard! I fall in love with people then have to live on scraps! UF in comparison is an all you can eat buffet.

You may have to kiss a few UF frogs before you find the series/author that works for you, and you may be unwilling to get up close and personal with something so strange, but I guarantee you that there IS a series that would work for you and you would love every second of the journey.

Now, fight me. 
Do you love UF? Why/Why not?

To view the linky list of this weeks Hop participants, please visit The Coffee Addicted Writer.

Thursday 13 February 2020

Thief & Hate The Game

Thief was a freebie novella and Hate The Game is a full-length novel I grabbed via Kindle Unlimited.
Both are told in alternating, first-person, pov.


It always happens when you least suspect it.
The chemistry.
The pull.
Even when you don’t want it to.
Timing—it’s a bitch.
And then you have to make a choice.
Do you regret what is, or what isn’t?
Because when love is involved, there’s always regret.
And my story is no exception.

This novella started off super strong but went downhill pretty sharply once it moved from the past and into the present.

It starts off in the past and shows you the friendship between Vi and Max and how Dash came to be part of their friendship. It shows how the relationship between Vi and Dash started and how the loss of Max both sealed them together forever and simultaneously tore them apart.
Considering this novella is around 100 pages, it was very well done.
And then it moved into the present and I had such hopes for the reunion of Vi and Dash as adults and was bitterly disappointed.
For a start, Dash had a girlfriend who he immediately dumped upon the return of Viola. Nice and classy. Real prince there. I think it was supposed to highlight his devotion to Vi but it was an epic dick move that devalued him in my eyes.
Then, as if there hasn't been enough drama, Fernando manages to pack in some more with over the top reactions and misunderstandings.
It was like the first half of the book was meant to be part of something so much bigger but then the author thought, fuck it, I'm gonna cut this short and battered out a reunion and ending that took place in the blink of an eye, was riddled with unresolved issues and painful to read.

So, yeah. If you're new to the author, I don't think I'd start here. Her novellas - the two I've read - have been very weak compared to her full-length novels so I'd suggest going for one of those.


Talon Gold is a lot of things: good at football, bad at love. Obsessed with scoring, refuses to play by the rules. Cruel. Relentless. Brilliant. Intoxicatingly attractive.
Despite his demanding reputation and propensity for being the most arrogant a-hole ever to strut Pacific Valley University’s picturesque campus, everyone wants a piece of him: coaches, scouts, and pretty little campus fangirls with pouty lips and perfect top knots.
But Talon … he only wants a piece of me.
And four straight years of infuriating rejection means I’m almost positive he’d take a night with me over a national championship trophy.
But I’m no fool—he only wants me because he can’t have me. And with graduation approaching, time is running out. He’s more desperate than ever, pulling out all the stops and doing everything in his power to get in my good graces.
They say, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”
But to that I say, “Why not both?”
I have my reasons ...
Sorry, BMOC. This victory? Not going to happen.

This book was brain fluff when I needed it most. It was easy to just sit and read it, cover to cover, without interruptions.
It wasn't an angsty story, it wasn't overly dramatic (although there was some drama), and it wasn't even that interesting. It was just a nice steady story about a superstar athlete who has wanted the one girl since he first laid eyes on her in their first year of college and the girl who has studiously avoided him, rejected him, and judged him without knowing him all because of her past bad experiences with football players.
In short, Talon was likeable but could be a bit of a dick to anyone who wasn't Irie, and Irie was a judgemental bitch who didn't entirely deserve him (and wasn't overly likeable) but somehow the story worked.
There were a few moments when I sat there genuinely wondering what the hell the author was thinking - like the reason Irie hated jocks - but beyond that, I liked it well enough and would read more of the author if something caught my eye but not enough to actively seek out more of the author's work.

Saturday 8 February 2020

Demigods and Magicians by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson/Kane Chronicles Crossover)

Join Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase and Carter and Sadie Kane as they do battle with an ancient Egyptian magician determined to become a god. Against impossible odds, the four demigods and magicians team up to prevent the apocalypse.

Contains the short stories The Son of Sobek, The Staff of Serapis and The Crown of Ptolemy, together in one volume for the first time.

Audiobook Narrated by: Rick Riordan

First up, I need to say that I started listening to this novella collection immediately after finishing the Kane Chronicles. The Kane Chronicles have amazingly talented narrators and therefore I was gutted to find out the narrator for these novellas was none other than Rick Riordan himself and while he didn't do a bad job - in that they were easy to listen to - he didn't do a great job either.
It was like being read a bedtime story by your dad... Soothing and nice but not what you'd expect of an audiobook.
However! You get used to it pretty quickly and the content of the novellas more than made up for any complaints about the narration.

I've been super excited at the thought of the Egyptian magicians meeting the Greek demigods since Carter's uncle Amos made a comment about "Manhatten having its own problems" - all the way back in the first book of the Kane Chronicles - and the meeting of the two worlds didn't disappoint!

Up first was the Son of Sobek - a kick-ass adventure featuring Carter Kane and Percy Jackson.
The story was pretty basic - giant crocodile terrorising an area - but it provided all that was needed to introduce both worlds while opening the door to future co-operation.
It was told from the pov of Carter and I almost died in happiness at seeing Percy through his eyes... (Little Percy Jackson has grown into one kick ass dude and I love him.)
I loved how, despite being super short, the Son of Sobek highlighted the strengths and weakness of both characters and didn't elevate one above the other. It was made clear that they are different but neither of them is better or worse for being/not being the child of a god.
It was funny, it was exciting and I immediately wanted more!

The Staff of Serapis was the second novella and told from the pov of Annabeth. A funky monster catches her attention in the subway station - a strange blending for Greek and Egyptian - so using that big brain of hers, Annabeth deduces that it's somehow related to Percy's adventures a month earlier with some Egyptian guy and resolves to take care of it. Her path crosses with that of Sadie Kane - Carter's sister - and they join forces to stop the rise of Serapis.
It was hilarious watching Annabeth with Sadie. Both are smart, fierce and resourceful but Sadie is also impulsive and a bit random - much like Percy! So Annabeth's commentary had me in stitches.
The Staff of Serapis was a much longer novella than The Son of Sobek and despite it being a lot of fun watching the girls rock the girl power thing, I really missed Carter and Percy!

Luckily, The Crown of Ptolemy - novella number three - brings all four of them together for the final battle against the mad magician who is determined to make himself a god by combining Greek and Egyptian magic.
This final instalment was from the pov of Percy and I never wanted it to end!
My favourites, rocking their power and magic, battling a big bad to save the world, making new friends, making me laugh with their banter and keeping me throroughly entertained from beginning to end... Can't really ask for more than that!

I'm not entirely sure I'd recommend these novellas to someone who hadn't read at least one of the series - Percy Jackson or Kane Chronicles - but if you have read one then it's a nice introduction to the other and if you've read both? I can't see how you'd fail to enjoy them.
If Rick Riordan ever decides to write full length cross over novels, I'm here for it.  

Tuesday 4 February 2020

Sunshine Blogger Awards

The Sunshine Blogger Award is an award given by fellow bloggers to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community. 
I actually cannot believe that I was nominated by not one but two of my fellow bloggers for this! It's not something I associate with myself at all but I'm flattered that some people do! 

I was nominated by Sarah at All The Book Blog Names Were Taken and Stephanie at Stephanie Jane / Literary Flits so massive thank yous to them!
This is a longish post because I'm not only answering Sarah's questions but Stephanie's too in the same post.

I should also probably apologise for the fact I was nominated months ago but am hopeless at keeping on top of things and responding promptly! 😆

The Rules of the Sunshine Blogger Awards are:
1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in a post and link back to their blog
2. Answer 11 questions the blogger asked you
3. Nominate 11 blogs to receive the award and write for them 11 new questions
4. List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award in your post and/or on your blog

I'm being a rebel and breaking the rules though. I'm not nominating nor am I writing new questions. 
I feel like it's been too long and the season of the award has passed so there's no point. 
Know that I value all the blogs I regularly visit. If I didn't, I wouldn't visit you. You all bring a little bit of sunshine into my day with your love for books and support and I hope you all continue doing so!


Sarah's Questions

1. What genres do you prefer? Why?

Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, Contemporary Romance.
Interesting worlds, interesting stories, plenty of action, fascinating characters and stories full of heart.
Not to mention the fact that I'm in love with love and adore a happy ending.

2. What genres do you refuse to read? Why?

I basically refuse to read books that will give me nightmares and make me paranoid about walking in the dark and being by myself and make me feel scared or unsure of my own or my family's safety.

3. What is the easiest thing about blogging for you? The hardest?

The easiest thing about blogging for me is marching along to the beat of my own drum and not worrying about being one of the cool kids.

The hardest is finding the time and motivation to write posts or read & visit other bloggers posts when I'm tired all the time or busy.

4. If you could become a character in any book, which book and why?

I would love to choose someone like Kate Daniels, someone kick ass, brave, powerful and with a guy who loves her more than anything else... But alas, I'd be exhausted after the first battle and be desperate for a warm bath and cozy bed rather than ready to jump into the next battle.
So maybe someone from a contemporary romance... I dunno. Pass.

5. If you could travel to any period in history, which would it be, and why?

Probably Tudor. 
It's an interesting period what with the antics of the monarchs, political tensions in Europe, religious upheaval, the discovery of the 'new world' etc etc. 

6. Do you ever DNF books? What makes you DNF?

Yes, I DNF. 
I can put up with a lot of drivel in a book if it's amusing me in some manner or another (for good or evil) but when it becomes boring to the point I just can't bear to go near it anymore then I call it quits. 

7. Who are your favourite authors?

Favourite author is a hard one. I have favourites of the moment but an enduring favourite?
Only one would fit the bill and that would be Ilona Andrews... But right now, I probably could list about 6 authors who I'm loving.

8. How important is book cover quality to you? Why?

Very important. I am a complete cover whore. If a cover is ugly, I'm unlikely to give the book any time of day at all. The blurb could be awesome but I probably won't even read it if the cover is hideous or offensive to me in some way. That's how important a cover is to me. It's what sets a book apart and pulls me in. 

9. Name a character that you would want to be best friends with, and why.

Tori from Guild Codex: Spellbound.
She's fun, she's supportive, she's loyal and she's an ordinary human living an extraordinary life.

10. Name a character who would become your mortal enemy, should you ever cross paths in real life.

I have no idea. None spring to mind. 

11. Which authors would you invite to a dinner party? (never mind silly things like death)

I don't think I'd want to invite any authors to a dinner party. It'd stress me out. 


Stephanie's Questions

1. If you read about characters eating a tempting new food do you then buy/cook it for yourself?

No, not really. I can't think of a single example where this has happened.

2. Have you ever visited somewhere purely because it sounded great in a book?

Erm... Not that I can think of! 

3. Or chosen a book because it was set somewhere you love?

Again, nope.

4. Have you ever felt obliged to read something because 'everyone else' had? If so, what? And was it worth it?

Yes, I guess so. The Cruel Prince, for example. I'm positive it would have made its way onto my radar on its own eventually (it's the kind of book I like) but all the blog hype had me buying it long before I was ready to read it so it sat on my kindle, neglected, for a very long time.
I can finally say that I've read it though! (And I loved it.)

5. Which author(s) inspire(s) you?

I don't think I'm inspired by any particular author but I'm in awe of so many! Mostly fantasy authors for not just creating brilliant characters and interesting stories but for creating whole new worlds that I'd love to live in!

6. How does the size of your TBR affect your reading choices?

It doesn't. I honestly don't care about the size of my TBR as I can easily ignore it. It's stored on GoodReads and I'm very good at not paying attention unless I'm looking at it for a particular purpose.
What stresses me out is my NetGalley TBR! That I can't ignore as easily and obviously have an obligation to complete.

7. How do you keep track of other bloggers' recommendations? And do you ever get round to reading those books?

I stick them on my GoodReads TBR for future reference and - if I'm super interested - I'll add it to an Amazon Wishlist which I check regularly to see what's on sale, track price changes and review to see if I'm still interested or if the impulse has passed when the hype dies.

I often read books recommended by other bloggers but I always wish I could read more!

8. Do you like using libraries, Little Libraries, or book exchanges?

I'm a member of my local library and I do use it occasionally but unfortunately, a lot of the books I want to read are not available in British libraries so I mostly used the library for books for the kiddo and even he's outgrowing what is typically available.
The audiobook selections are also hideously lacking... I'm so envious when I hear of what's available to US bloggers from their libraries. *sigh*

9. What strategies do you have to drag yourself out of a reading slump?

I re-read favourites or busy myself with TV, movies and other things until I want to read again. I don't try to force it or else it gets worse. 

10. Are your nearest and dearest as bookish as you are?

Yes and no. 

My son always has a book on the go. Actually, he usually has several on the go. He always has an audiobook he's listening to and a physical book he's reading (a requirement for school) pretty much at all times. Even though he only gets through two or three books a month I'd describe him as bookish... I mean, he's not yet nine! And this doesn't include his comics of which he reads several a week.
I'd say that the little dude is more bookish than I was at his age.
Plus, more important than the number of books a person reads is their enthusiasm for the topic and the little dude is a serious fanboy for books. You can have awesome book conversations with him and he can't pass a bookstore without going in.

My husband reads a lot of journals and spends a lot of time reading online but probably only reads one or two books a year so I wouldn't call him bookish at all.

My mum is a reader and always has a book in progress but she's a lot slower at reading than I am and only reads a couple a month usually. I wouldn't describe her as bookish but she's definitely a reader...

11. If we were all Icelandic, what book(s) would you be hoping to get for Jolabokaflod?

I don't think I'd care what book I was given as long as the rest of the tradition was honoured and I was left alone to read it - while eating my chocolate - for the evening!

Saturday 1 February 2020

How Winston Delivered Christmas by Alex T. Smith

It's a bit random to be sharing this now the festive period is over but it's never too early to grab something awesome and put it aside for this year's Christmas!

An advent story told in twenty-four-and-a-half chapters! 

When a mouse named Winston finds a lost letter addressed to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, he sets off an unforgettable journey to personally deliver the letter to Santa! 
How Winston Delivered Christmas is a heart-warming story, organized in twenty-four and a half chapters, to share during the countdown to Christmas. Starting on December 1st, children can read a chapter a day, and each chapter is followed with a fun and festive holiday activity to complete. 
This illustrated advent story tells of the adventures of an adorable mouse and how a good deed can lead to a very happy ending.

I saw this book mentioned on another blog last November (can't remember whose now, sorry!) and knew I had to grab it for it's an advent book, folks!
You read a short chapter every day on the run up to Christmas with an extra chapter for Christmas day.

It tells the story of Winston who is a brave little mouse just minding his own business when he finds a lost letter to Santa and sets out on a mission to make sure it gets to him so a little boy isn't without a present on Christmas. He makes various friends along the way who help with his journey and it's all very sweet, festive and lovely.

I dutifully read a chapter each day with the little dude and we shared the job of reading aloud.
Reading it together guaranteed that we carved out a little bit of time every day, at such a busy time of year, to just sit together and enjoy some calm.

The chapters weren't too long, only about 6 pages a day and some of that was taken up by the beautiful illustrations. The vocabulary used was easy for the little dude who is eight years old (and an advanced reader) but little ones will need support to make their way through it.

The activities at the end of each chapter were fun arts and crafts activities which helped keep him occupied and channelled the festive excitement into tasks.

My favourite part was sitting by the tree - before present opening - on Christmas morning with the little dude and reading the final chapter. No one else had come down yet and it felt like we were in our own little bubble and it was special.
The little dude obviously felt so too as he's decreed we'll be reading it on an annual basis!

If you have kids in your life who love stories then I can't recommend this charming little tale highly enough. It's a perfect compliment (or replacement!) for the chocolate advent calendar and will no doubt help generate some perfect moments and memories to cherish.
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