Friday 31 July 2020

Pottering: A Cure For Modern Life (ARC Review)

This book was novel change of pace for me mostly because it was a non-fiction book but also because it falls into the category of "Health, Mind and Body" or "Self-Help" which I normally avoid.

The reason I opted to request a review copy is that I was curious. The concept of Pottering is a very British thing, imo, and it has a very specific meaning. To me, you are not pottering around your house at the weekend if you're spending it harrassed and running around, or playing computer games or mindlessly watching tv and movies. 
Pottering, to me, was about getting stuff done but almost absent-mindedly getting stuff done. 
It's soothing, calming... Peaceful. 
It's not about attacking an unending to-do list with single-minded purpose. 
It's not about large scale projects like re-painting a kitchen or laying a patio, it's slower and more subtle than that. 

Pottering: A Cure For Modern Life re-enforced my perception of what it means to potter but it also broadened my view and made me realise that aimlessly going for a walk and staring at the ducks on the river - just because - is also pottering. 
The book defines it as, "to occupy oneself in a pleasant way but without plan or purpose."

The first chapter explains the basics: Making do with what you've got, don't try too hard, movement, keeping it local and keeping it digital free.
While I'd never have categorised it in those terms myself they make perfect sense as do the examples and explanations the author gives for each point.
I found myself nodding away in agreement as it's pottering in a nutshell but so is the point that not all elements are of equal importance and the emphasis on each will vary person to person and task to task. 
The subsequent chapters explore each element in more detail. 

The book is easy to read, relatable, amusing and makes perfect sense. 

The take away points for me are that:
- Pottering is not a chore. 
Yes, you may be pottering doing household tasks but you're deriving some pleasure/satisfaction from it.
- What you want and what you need are very different things.
Improvise and compromise!
- Don't try too hard
Pottering is not about pressure, it's not supposed to be stressful, it's a productive calming activity.
- It's not all about household tasks!
You can potter around local shops. You can potter around a park. It's not all about the house.
- Everybody potters whether they call it that or not
- There is no one way to potter
- We could all do with more time away from digital devices and social media
- Pottering helps you think and mentally declutter
- Pottering around is not procrastination
- Pottering is good for the soul

Ultimately, pottering is about finding peace and joy in the little things. 
It's about switching off from the stresses of the world and being happy with what you've got, living in the moment, appreciating the little things. Many "self-help" techniques (like mindfulness) try to impart a similar principle but because of how they're presented they become a "thing" and just another something that you're "failing" to do or keep up with. 
Pottering... It's just a way of life. 
I find I'm happiest and more relaxed when I've spent a day pottering around the house so I guess my take away from reading this book is I need to switch off the electronics a little more often and just potter! I'd be happier and more content for doing so.

Ultimately, I recommend giving this book a read and seeing if adopting a pottering approach would be a positive thing for you. I don't see how it could fail to be a positive thing for anybody and I feel a little bit sad that with the pace of life nowadays we're losing the subtle art of it. 


PS - Sitting down for 10 minutes, drinking a cup of tea and reading a book in between tasks is a valid pottering action! πŸ˜‰

PPS - The only truly weird suggestion I found was writing a cheque to pay for something just for funsies... Do retailers still accept cheques?! Banks in the UK aren't even issuing cheque books as standard anymore so I'm confused by this one. *shrug*

Pottering is written by Anna McGovern and illustrated by Charlotte Ager.
Publication Date: 26 Oct 2020
Review copy received via NetGalley.
Format: ebook

Thursday 30 July 2020

Four Shifters and A Stranger & A Damsel and A Demigod by Annette Marie

You all know how much I love the Guild Codex and getting two short stories/novella prequels just makes my day!

Four Shifters and A Stranger by Annette Marie

When a bounty hunting job goes wrong, a mysterious aeromage saves Aaron's life...

Delve into the three mages' pasts in this exclusive Guild Codex short story, available as a free download for subscribers of the author's newsletter.

This is a short novella that shows how Ezra met Aaron and Kai, how they learned his secret, and how he joined the Crow and Hammer Guild!
It's told from the POV of Aaron and getting to peek inside the fire-mages head cemented my opinion that he is an awesome dude who deserves all the nice things.
He may be a hot-headed eejit at times but he has a heart of gold.
I don't know how Annette Marie does it but she packs a coherent and engaging story into a tiny number of pages... It's got character development, action and engages the emotions.
The story could be read by anyone no matter what they know/have read about the series but I think it packs the best punch if you're already familiar with the characters and world... Probably why it's a freebie gift for being part of her mailing list!

If you're a Guild Codex fan, you've got to read it. It's perfect to inhale over a single lunch break.

A Damsel and A Demigod by Annette Marie

Only one thing matters to Kai: getting the job done, and doing it better than anyone else.

But when a beautiful thief crashes his security gig, claiming she's trying to protect the valuable artifact he's guarding, all his careful plans go up in flames. He doesn't believe a word she says—until the item is stolen right out from under them.

Recovering the artifact before the real thief can unleash its ancient magic requires insider knowledge—information the mysterious trespasser possesses. Teaming up with a stranger isn't Kai's idea of smart, but he'll need all the help he can get to take on a notorious rogue and arcane power from the time of the gods.

Originally published in the limited-time charity anthology, Love Potion.

First up, let me say that this can be read as a standalone novella completely separate from the main Guild Codex series. It's told from the pov of Kai and is set a couple of years before Tori stumbles into the Crow and Hammer Guild and the main series begins.
However! This is the story of how Kai met Izza and anyone who has read the GC books is going to want to read this if you have any interest in that particular (apparently doomed) ship...

The story is set during a Crow and Hammer mission. Kai and co have to prevent the theft of an artifact and when it goes wrong, retrieve the artifact before a rogue mythic unleashes untold chaos.
It's packed full of banter, action and magic. Romance is firmly on the down-low but the sparks are definitely there.
Izza is different in this novella from the Izza we get to know in the GC series. She's younger, less experienced and just starting out with her guild (Odin's Eye) but the path to how she becomes the Izza we know is laid out clearly here.
The novella left me a little bit sad that we don't get to see her grow into the badass she becomes but happy that we got to see this first meeting with Kai.

It's a wonderful little read for fans of the series and a taster for those who have yet to dive into this world.


Tuesday 28 July 2020

TTT: Books By My Favourite Authors That I Still Need To Read.

Oooh, I like freebie topics! Only, I couldn't think of one for myself... So, I went back into the archives and plucked one out and here we are!

Books by my favourite authors that I still need to read.
(It would probably be more accurate to call it, "books by frequently read" authors because I struggle with calling any author a favourite but whatever. Let's not split hairs!)

Kulti & Hard Pass by Mariana Zapata

Kulti I have owned for a couple of years now and Hands Down is her new release that I downloaded immediately via Kindle Unlimited... I have no excuse for not having read them yet beyond I've got to be in the mood!

Fates Edge & Steel's Edge by Ilona Andrews

I love Ilona Andrews books... All of their series, but the Edge series is my least favourite and I have no idea why I never finished the series beyond they're interconnected standalones so I felt no compulsion to jump onto the next one after finishing the one before. *shrugs* I'll finish off the collection at some point, I'm sure. Just need the mood to strike.

Spellweaver Series by Annette Marie

I discovered Annette Marie via her Guild Codex series and while waiting on the next book(s) to release worked my way through her back catalogue. People rave about her Steel and Stone series but I wasn't as enamoured with it as her Guild Codex series so decided not to read the spin-off of Steel and Stone (aka Spellweaver) until I'd sufficient "cleansed my palette" and could appreciate it. Needless to say, I haven't been bothered to read it yet but I will!
Annette Marie can write.

The Turn by Kim Harrison

A novel set in the world of The Hollows. A novel featuring Trent Kalamack's mother at the beginning of the Turn, an event that spawned the entire premise of the Hollows.
I've owned it for years but, again, haven't read it. I don't even know why at this point...

Shatter The Night by Karen Chance

I was super dooper excited for this book. I bought it as soon as it released... Then I never read it. I guess I'm waiting to find out when the next one is due for release before I dive in. That, or the mood to strike. I find I've got to be in a specific mood for Chance's brand of UF.

Repeat by Kylie Scott

Another book I have and another book I just have not read yet.
I have an addiction. I'm only a little bit sorry...

Trials of Apollo & Magnus Chase by Rick Riordan

I blame coronavirus and my lack of commuting time in the past four months for not having listened to these books yet.

As for why I haven't listened to/read the Trials of Apollo series... First, the kid was listening to the audiobooks and I can't listen to them at the same time or the app gets confused with who is where in the book. Second, after the kid started dying inside and demanding to know when the final book releases - because he neeeeeds it - I decided to time listening to them so I was ready for the final book right about the time the kid will have finished listening to it.
I don't need the added suspense of this series hanging over my head. I have enough series torturing me book to book as it is! πŸ˜‚

Monday 27 July 2020

Mid Year Freak Out Tag (Better Late Than Never!)

I don't think I've ever taken part in this tag! Honestly, I probably wouldn't have taken part this year either but TΓ’nia tagged me so I figured, why not?
Yes, it's super late for "mid-year" but who cares? 😝

What is the best book you've read so far in 2020?

Nope, can't choose just one...

So I choose: Druid Vices and A Vodka and Lost Talismans and a Tequila by Anette Marie, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

What has been your favourite sequel of the first half of the year?

I could have chosen Lost Talismans and A Tequila but since I already listed that as one of my favourites this year I switched it up. πŸ˜‰

Hunting Fiends for The Ill-Equipped was awesome!

Is there a new release that you haven't read yet but you're really excited for?

Not Like The Movies by Kerry Winfrey. I haven't read anything by the author before but I love the sound of this one and the cover is amazing!

What is your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

No, sorry, can't give just one... There are LOTS. 
Seriously, the second half of the year is going to ROCK! But, more than a few of them don't have covers yet so I'll restrain myself and only choose a couple. 

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews releases in August and Grave War by Kalayna Price releases in November.

What is your biggest disappointment so far?

Dear Ava by Isla Madden-Mills. It was a perfect example of a misleading cover and blurb.

What is your biggest surprise so far?

The Rich Boy by Kylie Scott. 
It surprised me how much I enjoyed it (5-stars) given how... underwhelming I'd found some of her more recent releases. 

Who is your favourite new to you, or debut author?

Hailey Edwards. 
Her Beginner's Guide To Necromancy series is awesome and saved my sanity during the early days of lockdown.

A book that made you cry?

I haven't cried at a book this year. To be fair, I don't often cry when it comes to books as I tend to avoid those I suspect will be tear-jerkers unless that's the mood I'm in.

A book that made you happy?

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. How could anybody read about Khai and Esme and not be happy?!

Your favourite book to film/TV show that you've seen so far?

Erm... Pass?

What is your favourite post that you've written so far this year?

Erm... I guess it would be Bookish Things That Make Me Smile, Book Titles That Would Make Good Band Names, or Reasons To Love Urban Fantasy.

What is the most beautiful book that you've bought?

You're asking me to remember what I've bought this year?! Oh man... I'm going with Of Curses and Kisses because it's the most recent.

What are six books you want to read by the end of the year?

I'm going to exclude books I don't own and books that haven't released yet from this one and choose six from the bookshelf that I want to get to...

Of Curses and Kisses, House of Earth and Blood, Fangirl, Brooklynaire, Well Met, and Cinder.

Friday 24 July 2020

Audio Review: The Journals of Octavia Hollows by Stacey Rourke

I'd already listened to the audio of book one so when the entire boxset on audio was offered for review how could I say no?!
I enjoyed the first one so much and the narrator did a great job, so, of course, I said yes!

That said, it took me far longer than I would have liked to finish it because of my temperamental reading mood... But oh well! Better late than never!

*Audiobook provided free for review*

With a touch of her hand, Octavia Hollows can restore life. Yet, she couldn’t save the man she loved from the horrific accident that stole him from her. Octavia thought she could outrun the pain, but ghosts from the past refuse to be silenced. Out of options, she chooses to retrace her wayward journey across the country in search of answers. Surrounded by baffling mysteries of the undead, what she learns about herself along the way might become her greatest weapon.

This six novella series chronicles Octavia's adventures in:
Wake the Dead
Dead Man's Hand
Caught Dead
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Dead Ringer
Dead As A Doornail

Octavia Hollows is one weird chick.
She is a necromancer who is set apart from other necromancers in that she can fully restore life to dead things. She doesn't bring back zombies, she fully heals the body/vessel and restores the soul so you have a 100% living breathing being back.
She travels with a pig she brought back from the dead and named Bacon, and Bacon seems to be her only friend.
She was bounced around foster homes as a kid until she was taken in by a coven who she also had to leave when she was a teenager and she has been painfully alone for all her life except from when she was with Elba - her fiance.
However, when the story starts Elba is already dead.
Not a problem for someone who can fully restore life, right?
Except, someone stole his body before Octavia could get to him. So he is gone.

That is where we meet Octavia. Travelling around and trying to solve the mystery of what happened to Elba.

Each instalment takes her to a different town and helps her piece together more of the puzzle and in each book, you learn a little more about Octavia and her background.
In each town, she is thrown into some supernatural mystery - independent from the overarching mystery of what happened to Elba - that she helps to resolve before moving onto the next location.

Each story is a little bit nuts, very quirky and funny as all hell.
Seriously, one of the things I loved most was that despite the grim subject matter it made me laugh. Octavia is snarky, her pig provides endless comic relief and the people she brings temporarily back from the dead are oddballs that make you laugh too.
These aren't exactly comedies though, some are a little creepy... They're not scary but they can definitely be atmospheric!
They're also full of heart and you wouldn't expect them to be. Octavia cares about people and things and it takes her a long to realise that maybe others care too.

The ending wasn't what I expected it to be but I was 100% there for it.
It was simple, heartfelt and perfect. An ending that didn't take Octavia backwards but cemented who she'd become and moved her forward into the future with hope and a new beginning.

The audiobook is so easy to listen to and the fact that it's comprised of six novellas is fantastic as you can break it up into one a day without stopping in the middle of a story! Or, if you just need a breather and want to dip into something else before continuing.
I could listen to one, be happy at the conclusion and when I dove back into the collection at some later point I didn't feel like I was scrambling to get back into the story as I was starting a new novella and embarking on a new adventure!
The series thread was easy to remember and somewhat recapped each time.

The narrator didn't get on my nerves (a massive win for me when it comes to audiobooks) and she was clear and animated in her narration as well as giving different voices to different characters which helped bring the stories to life and made it easier to follow.

All in all, I highly recommend this series for UF and mystery fans who are not opposed to a little bit of magic!

(Oh! And for those who aren't that fond of romance in your UF... Look no further!)

Audiobook Length: 14hrs 22min
Narrated by: Brenda Scott Wlazlo
Listening Speed: 1.25x

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Sweep With Me, American Demon and Poison & Honey

Sweep With Me by Ilona Andrews

A charming, short novella in the Innkeeper Chronicles, from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ilona Andrews.

Thank you for joining us at Gertrude Hunt, the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, during the Treaty Stay. As you know, we are honor-bound to accept all guests during this oldest of innkeeper holidays and we are expecting a dangerous guest. Or several. But have no fear. Your safety and comfort is our first priority. The inn and your hosts, Dina Demille and Sean Evans, will defend you at all costs. [But we hope we don’t have to.]

Every winter, Innkeepers look forward to celebrating their own special holiday, which commemorates the ancient treaty that united the very first Inns and established the rules that protect them, their intergalactic guests, and the very unaware/oblivious people of [planet] Earth. By tradition, the Innkeepers welcomed three guests: a warrior, a sage, and a pilgrim, but during the holiday, Innkeepers must open their doors to anyone who seeks lodging. Anyone.

All Dina hopes is that the guests and conduct themselves in a polite manner. But what’s a holiday without at least one disaster?

Oh, it’s been too long since we had a catch up with Sean and Dina! And that’s exactly what Sweep With Me is - a catch up. It’s a novella-length visit to Gertrude Hunt during an Innkeeper holiday.

It picks up not long after the events in One Fell Sweep and is a basic story of Sean and Dina going about their business just being innkeepers. Obviously, there’s action and excitement and all the usual fun things you’d expect from an Ilona Andrews story but the novella doesn’t really move the overarching plot forward any. There are no Maud and Arland developments (I get the impression the timelines between the novella and Maud’s book overlap) and there are no developments on the mystery of what is corrupting Ad-Hals (Innkeeper enforcers) and no new developments with regards to the mystery of what happened to Dina’s parents.
Everything is just, nice, sweet and fun. Exactly what you’d expect from a holiday novella, even one featuring a fictitious holiday!

It’s a good read for those who are fans of the series but if you haven’t read the previous three books featuring Dina and Sean there isn’t much point in you starting here.

American Demon by Kim Harrison

Rachel Morgan is back--and The Hollows will never be the same.

What happens after you've saved the world? Well, if you're Rachel Mariana Morgan, witch-born demon, you quickly discover that something might have gone just a little bit wrong. That the very same acts you and your friends took to forge new powers may have released something bound by the old. With a rash of zombies, some strange new murders, and an exceedingly mysterious new demon in town, it will take everything Rachel has to counter this new threat to the world--and it may demand the sacrifice of what she holds most dear.

I adored the original Hollows series and I loved the ending (especially the epilogue set 25 years later) so I was both super super excited to return to the world of Rachel Morgan but also terrified that it would be diminished... That by returning, the author would somehow un-pick the happy ending and change things in a way that would ruin the original series for me.
I shouldn't have worried.
Rachel and the gang are back and are as awesome as always! The relationships are just as strong, the characters as fierce and funny (and slightly annoying), the story just as action-packed and engrossing, and even though they're mixed up in a new world of hijinks and chaos, I'm sure they'll end up right where they are supposed to be. (Although, I'm nervous about Bis! *sobs*)

American Demon is perfect for fans of the original series and for new fans to join the fun. There is a nifty little "case file" at the beginning that recaps characters, relationships, key plot points and lots of other bits and pieces to help navigate the series from this point out. You may not want to begin here if you're super spoiler adverse and plan on reading the first 13 books but if you don't welcome back to the Hollows!

Poison & Honey by Kristen Brand

Leigh Morgan has known that magic existed ever since an unearthly monster abducted her sister. It’s why she’s in Otherworld now, posing as a servant in its dark, decadent palace. She’s gathering intelligence and working with a small band of allies to bring down the Others and free their human captives. Her mission depends on blending in, so the last thing she wants is to attract the attention of a cunning prince.

Dredarion Rath wants one thing: to disgrace his older brother and prove himself the worthier heir to the throne. And out of all the servants in the palace, he chooses Leigh to help him. Just her luck.

Now Leigh has to keep her work a secret from a bewitching man who sees right through her--and who's not nearly as cold and inhuman as he seems. She can't screw this up, or the humans forced into servitude will never go home. But juggling two conspiracies at once, it's only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down, and the man she's falling for has her executed for her betrayal...

This was an interesting read. The novella isn't quite Urban Fantasy as it's set in "the Otherworld", a world full of magic, castles, medieval clothing and a whole host of strange creatures but the "mud people" are humans kidnapped from our world and taken to the Otherworld to be slaves. Given how things play out, I assume it will flip back and forth between the human world and the Otherworld as the series unfolds... But I get ahead of myself.

There is a lot of information to absorb in this novella. You meet the characters, you learn their motivations, you learn a little about how the world works and there are power plays and politics galore! It was interesting and absorbing and kept me turning the pages wanting to see how Leigh and Dredarion's relationship would develop and how their personal feelings would mix with their respective goals.

Despite being interesting throughout, it does have a relatively slow start but it doesn't change the fact that I was on the edge of my seat as the story slowly built to an explosive conclusion that left me desperate to read the next book.
Word of caution: The ending isn't quite a cliffhanger but it flirts with the edge sufficiently to irritate.

My main complaint - and I can't believe I'm saying this - was that the relationship between Leigh and Dredarian went from something teasing and promising to serious feelings, in the blink of an eye. It felt rushed and slightly unsatisfying but even so, I'm not going to lie about being stupidly excited to see how things evolve between them given the events of this book.

I'm also curious as to how Dredarian's relationship with his brother plays out... The pair of them give me Thor and Loki vibes (with Dredarion being the Loki-esqe character) and I thought they were awesome.

Kristen Brand is a new to me author and Poison and Honey is book one in a new series. I had no idea what to expect when I started this book and I'm still not entirely sure what to expect going forward but I'm excited to read more of the series just the same!

Monday 20 July 2020

Dead in The Water, Head Above Water and Hell or High Water by Hailey Edwards! (Gemini Series)

The series is technically a spin-off series from the author's Blackdog series, and characters from that series crop up in this one, but you don't need to have read the Blackdog books to read and appreciate this one... I hadn't read them and could follow what's what just fine.

Dead In The Water by Hailey Edwards

Camille Ellis is the Earthen Conclave’s golden girl. Her peculiar talent solves cases with a touch. She isn’t afraid of getting her hands dirty, but every bright star casts a shadow, and her deepest scars lurk just beneath the skin.

A routine consultation goes sideways when a victim’s brother gets involved in the investigation. Riding the edge of grief, the warg will go to any lengths to avenge his sister’s death. Even if it means ensuring Cam’s cooperation at the jaws of his wolf.

When the killer strikes again, Cam is caught between a warg and a hard place. To save the next victim, she must embrace her past. Even if it means dragging her darkest secrets into the light of day.

This book (series) is very different from Edwards' Beginners Guide To Necromancy series. It's darker, the protagonist is reserved and super serious and it focuses on the fae and earth-born shapeshifters called Wargs.
The story begins with Camille - a young fae agent tracking a serial killer who targets children - being called to the scene of his latest victim. This victim is a Warg and Cam is forced to play nice when the pack inserts itself in the investigation.

The book was well written, the characters and world are fleshed out and the story was interesting but something about it all just fell flat for me. I don't know if it was the lack of romance, the dark subject matter, the pacing or something else but I just couldn't lose myself in it the way I could the author's other work.
It was very much a case of I liked it well enough but I didn't love it. However, I will keep reading the series. The book has a good conclusion that isn't a cliffhanger but it leaves so many things unresolved that you really need to continue the series to get answers.

Head Above Water by Hailey Edwards

Camille Ellis has tracked many killers during her career,but this time it's personal. Cut off from conclave resources, she won't let a small thing like a suspension keep her from accepting Cord Graeson's offer of help.

Pretending to be mated to him is one way to secure allies, but the best that can be said of the Chandler Pack is they haven't killed or eaten her. Yet. Between the alpha's displeasure and the pack's distrust of fae, she's working overtime to keep her head above water.

Just when the fur starts to fly, a tip cracks her case--and her life--wide open.

Head Above Water picks up immediately after the first book in the series and sees Camille on "sabbatical" from her job and off to join Cord on his pack's lands. Despite being on sabbatical, and her organisation believing the serial killer case closed, Cam is not willing to stop looking for answers and is determined to bring an end to the true culprit.

Once again, the pace of the story is slower than I would have liked. The romance between Cord and Camille that was nought but a teasing possibility in the last book develops but it is constantly hampered by pack politics. There's also something about the romance that doesn't sit right. I like Cam and Cord and was rooting for them to get together but I wasn't feeling the love at all so it made everything that came about harder to believe.

I liked learning more about Warg pack dynamics, more about Camille's family and how Camille started to come out of her shell but I was disappointed that little progress was made towards catching the bad guy and if I hadn't had book three ready to go I'd have been royally miffed by the cliffhanger of an ending.

Once again, it was an okay read overall but I definitely could take or leave this series in general.

Hell or High Water by Hailey Edwards

Camille Ellis has gone rogue agent, and there’s no turning back now. The conclave might have put the Charybdis case to bed, but Cam isn’t willing to let it lie. No badge doesn’t mean no backup these days.

As mate to an alpha warg, she has access to new and lethal resources. A whole pack full of them. And they all want justice for the sins committed against them.

But the stakes are higher than she knows, the secrets exposed darker than she feared, and the cost of winning higher than she ever imagined.

I'm not going to lie, I spent a fair bit of this book re-reading passages and wondering if I'd accidentally skipped something but I hadn't... The story just goes down a twisty and confusing rabbit hole that's hard to follow. Needless to say, that hampered my enjoyment.
The pace was also problematic as for such a short book (~ 200 pages) it felt like it took forever to read!
However, I liked that the bad guy finally got booted (even if it was confusing af) and I enjoyed seeing the formation of Cord and Camille's pack and the developments in their relationship. Camille has come quite the distance from the beginning of this series and I like that she finally got to grips with her power and settled into her own skin (so to speak).

All in all, I don't think I'd be rushing to recommend this series. It'll appeal to some I'm sure but Edwards has better series than this and if you're looking for a fae fix there are other series, by other authors, that are much better than this.

*Series read via Kindle Unlimited*

Thursday 16 July 2020

The Television Tag!

Saw this a couple of months ago over at Lili Lost In A Book and had to add it to my list of tags to do at some point! I mean, I love books but sometimes it's good to share the non-bookish love and TV shows are something I love to binge-watch! 

1. Favourite Shows?

The Umbrella Academy, Medici, The Witcher, Lucifer, Young Sheldon, Charmed, Once Upon a Time, The Musketeers, Battlestar Galactica, Big Bang Theory, Rome, The White Princess, Stargate: SG1, Downton Abbey.

2. Favourite Genre?

I guess it would be fantasy. Although I DO love period dramas... Hmmm.
Fantasy or period dramas! I can't choose!

3. Least Favorite Show?

The Simpsons. I hate it. Really hate it.
Homer absolutely disgusts me and I do not find him even a little bit funny. I get enraged every episode... I seriously don't understand why Marge would stay married to that pig of a man!

4. Most rewatched show/favourite show to binge-watch?

Who knows?
At the moment, I'd probably say The Musketeers or Big Bang Theory.
However, in the past, it would probably have been Friends, Sex and The City, Buffy or Stargate.

5. Do you prefer watching things week by week or binge-watching?

Generally speaking, I prefer to binge-watch but there are certain shows, like Picard and Lost in Space - Sci-Fi shows I guess - that I can only handle in smaller doses so I prefer those to be week by week.

6. Favourite Television Characters?

None jump to mind.
I favourite characters from each show I watch but I wouldn't list any as a favourite really.
Sorry... That's kind of boring, lol.

7. Favourite Television Ships?

Some of these sailed into the sunset of happily ever afters, some sunk to the depths of the ocean and some are still drifting out at sea with no bloody resolution but that doesn't change how much I love them!

Emma Swan and Hook from Once Upon a Time.
Caroline and Klaus from Vampire Diaries.
Skye and Ward from Agents of Sheild.
Chidi and Eleanor from The Good Place.
Betty and Jughead from Riverdale.
Bellamy and Clarke from The 100.

8. Show you could never get into?

Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, Glee, Lost... Plus a load of others!

9. Show you fell out of love with?

Grey's Anatomy.
I think I made it to about season nine then started to get really pissed off with how no one ever gets to be happy but persevered until season 11 happened then I. Was. Done. 

10. Cancelled too soon?

Witches of East End. 

11. Guilty Pleasure Show?

I don't really have one.
I always think of soaps or reality TV shows as guilty pleasures and I don't watch any... Unless you count Strictly Come Dancing and I don't feel remotely guilty about that.

12. What are you currently watching?

Medici: The Magnificient and DC Titans on Netflix.

Thinking I'll be starting The Originals at some point soon too.

Tuesday 14 July 2020

TTT: Bookish Things That Make Me Smile

I'm tweaking this weeks topic but only a little... Instead of listing 10 books that make me smile, I'm going for 10 bookish things that make me smile.

(I should add that these are in no particular order.) 

Bookish Merch.
Stickers, cups, t-shirts, buttons, badges, bags... You name it, I want it.
(And probably own it.)

Eyeballing Bookstagram pictures.
They're so pretty... How do they make them so pretty?!

All those books. All that merch. All those notebooks and stationary!
Bonus points if they have a coffee shop attached to scent the air with caffeinated goodness!

Buying books for the bookshelf... Just because I like the cover. 
I mean, one day I'll get to reading them too but if I just wanted to read them I'd buy them on kindle.

Book Blogging
I've met so many awesome people through book blogging... I'm so happy to be a part of this community. It has it's downsides, sure, but I wouldn't still be pottering away at it after almost 8 years if it didn't make me smile.

Mutual Book Love
Right now, I'm talking about that feeling, that happy slightly euphoric feeling, you get when you see someone falling in love with a book, series, or author that you've adored for a long time.
It's that weird blend of joy that they get it and enviousness that they're getting to experience it for the first time followed by the giddiness that you have someone to fangirl with.

Raising A Bookworm
My kid loves books. He gets as excited as me about trips to the book store (and spends even more money!) He loves physical books, he loves graphic novels, he loves comics, he devours audiobooks.
He fanboys over bookish t-shirts, gets irritated at inaccurate movie/tv adaptations... He is awesome and the joy it brings knowing that this love has come from me, that I planted those bookish seeds in his little brain and they've grown and evolved and that is freaking awesome.
There is nothing better than sitting with the kid over breakfast and listening to him talk about the audiobook he was listening to last night or giggling over the extra chapters he "sneaked" rather than going to sleep...

Now, I know these can be a curse and a burden as much as they can be a joy but how big is the smile, how potent the happiness, when you receive a book you are super hyped up for? A book you've been anticipating and stalking and now you finally have within your grasp?!

A New Series From A Beloved Author
I guess this could apply to standalone novels too but I don't tend to get as excited about those.
I DO get insanely excited about a new series set in a favourite world by a favourite author.
Those kinds of announcements get me all in a tizzy.

Fan Art
I absolutely love eyeballing art of my favourite series, characters, scenes etc.
I cannot draw a convincing stick man so I am in awe of those who can draw and when they choose to draw something that perfectly captures a mood or a moment between favourites?
Smiles and bliss.

What bookish things make you smile?

Monday 13 July 2020

Switch Bidder, Will You Be Mine, Love Game

Sometimes I have the attention span of a fly but still want to read. That's where handy little novellas come in!
Today, I bring you quick reviews for three contemporary romance novellas: Switch Bidder by Sarah Ney, Will You Be Mine by Rizly Adams and Love Game by Emma Scott.

Switch Bidder by Sara Ney

Piper has been crushing on Ryder Williams for years..
What better chance to make her move on him than when he’s sacrificing himself on an auction block for a squealing mass of fans at a charity event? Too bad she’d rather hide in the bathroom than raise her paddel; what girl actually bids on a guy who doesn’t know she exists?
Not. Piper.
But that's what friends are for...
One meddling best friend, and an overpriced bid later, and Ryder Willams is Piper's for the taking. Too bad that she has no intention of collecting on his debt.
Too bad Ryder is determined to find out why.

This was a super short story that ties into Sara Ney's Jock Row series.

I loved what I read but it was too short.
Yes! I knew it was a short story when I started reading it BUT I expected it to read like a short story not the beginning of something so much bigger.
It was 5 chapters long and the first three chapters read like the beginning of a really awesome college sports romance and I was all in to get to know these two characters and watch them fall in love... I lost myself in the beginnings and totally forgot it was a short story and therefore the wham bam wtf of the final two chapters was jarring and annoying. The actions of Piper (and I guess Ryder) seemed forced and out of character. To go from too shy to talk to someone to - well. I won't spoil it in case you decide to read it.

It's sweet, it's fun, it could have been awesome but it was just too short to fully explore the characters or give them a proper story.

Will You Be Mine by Rilzy Adams

JT Johnson has been in love with his best friend for as long as he can remember. Hallie, however, seems clueless or deliberately obtuse. When she asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend for her ex-best friend's wedding, JT hesitantly agrees. Will their escape to the Caribbean be Heaven or Hell in Paradise?

Will You Be Mine was an impulse purchase (brand new to me author) after someone shared the cover on twitter - can you say hot?! - and, even better, I found out it was a friends-to-lovers and fake dating romance. Winner!

The book was flirty and fun with Hallie and JT's chemistry lighting up the pages. They were a couple I was rooting for despite the fact Hallie's blindness to JT's feelings occasionally got on the nerves!
I was expecting a light-hearted romance but what the story actually delivered was an emotional punch alongside dramatic fireworks surrounding Hallie's ex-best friend's wedding. It gave the characters depth and the way JT handled everything made me adore him even more than I did already.
Will You Be Mine is book two in a series featuring JT's siblings and I think I'll be checking the others out... Especially with the tease of an ending obviously intended to launch the next brother's book!

Love Game by Emma Scott

Sikai Solomon is a tennis prodigy.
A mega-talent.
A legend in the making.

Kai is also the official, undisputed, bad boy of the “gentleman’s” sport with more smashed rackets than trophies; more penalty fines than prize money. The temperamental Australian sells out every match and the crowd loves his unconventional style of play, but when his fuse gets lit? Game. Over.

With the Australian Open only a few weeks away, a Grand Slam win should be a no-brainer. Instead, Kai’s self-sabotage has him on the verge of being banned from professional tennis for life. As a last-ditch effort to help save his career, his agent hires Daisy Watson to spend two weeks with the hotheaded superstar.

Daisy is a specialist in the healing arts. Or she will be, someday. Right now, she’s a broke receptionist at a Reiki Wellness Center in Maui, Hawaii, trying to make ends meet and heal her own emotional wounds from a dark episode in her past she’d rather forget.

Kai and Daisy are fire and water, but her compassion could be the perfect balm for his hot-blooded temper. His fearless, take-no-prisoners approach to life could be just what she needs to rediscover her own power…or they might end up with nothing.

Because in the sport of tennis, love means zero.

 Love Game was my first Emma Scott book and it won't be my last! I loved her writing style and how I was sucked immediately into the story. For a novella, the characters were well fleshed out, their story was emotionally engaging and the ending incredibly satisfying.

One thing I really appreciated about the characters was that they both had baggage but they helped each other carry it. Kai could be an asshole as a result of his damage but when he verbally lashed out at Daisy he knew he'd messed up and he apologised and, more importantly, his apologies weren't pretty words or empty promises. He worked hard to be a better man for her and she worked hard to be there for him. I loved their connection and their banter and I wish they'd had a full-length novel to erase that warp-speed novella feeling but irrespective of this Love Game is definitely worth a read for contemporary romance fans.


Friday 10 July 2020

Lost Talismans and A Tequila by Annette Marie (Guild Codex: Spellbound #7)

*Minor spoilers ahead for this book, previous books and maybe a little of the Demonized books too.*

You know that squirmy sensation in your gut when you have no idea what you're doing and you're about to screw everything up?

Yeah, that feeling.

I thought I was a good judge of character, but recent events proved me very wrong. Now, in a brilliant demonstration of my newfound caution, I'm putting all my faith in a demon—a demon who's tried to kill me before. The squirmy feeling is making sense, right?

Unfortunately, I don't have any other options. Ezra's time is almost up, which means I need answers and I need them fast. So it's time to toughen up, pack my gear, and find me one of the most illegal, reviled, and scarce mythics out there: a demon-mage summoner.

And all I have to do is follow a demon's instructions on where to look. How could that go wrong?

I have no words and simultaneously too many words to describe how much I loved this book!
Holy forking shirtballs guys! The end is coming and it's going to be a-freakin-mazing!!! 
This book was amazing!
I just... I can't. I cannot describe the feelings!
Tori and Ezra are life! Ezra is utterly badass in this book! We get Ezra POV chapters!!!!
They finally admit they're in love!!!

After book three of the Demonized series (because the two series are super intertwined) I was worried that there wouldn't be a lot of Ezra in this book but there was!
There was lots of everyone! Aaron was on point, Kai was his sexy fierce self, Tori's brother Justin re-emerged and Kai's unwanted fiancee Makiko was helpful and badass too!
There was some Girard, Alister and Darius. Robin, Amalia and Zylas.
And demon-mages. Lots of demon-mages.

There are major reveals regarding "Claud", Enright, and the hydra-esqe infiltration of a demon fighting guild by the enemy!
The mastermind behind all the hinky goings-on in previous books from suped-up vamps to strange werewolves and golems that run on demon blood, is revealed!
Everything is coming together now and the only remaining question is how it all ends!
How is Annette Marie going to get our motley crew of beloved characters through what's to come and out the other side to a happy ever after?!
 I have no idea but I am here for whatever she has to throw at us.
It is going to be epic!

This series... It's full of humour, heart and magic. Wonderful, action-packed storylines. Slow-burning romance, friendships and characters that you will adore with every fibre of your being.
If this sounds appealing to you, you've got to read it! It gets better and better with each book and this book delivered in a major way.
Loved it!


Thursday 9 July 2020

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

On an ordinary summer's afternoon, Alice tumbles down a hole and an extraordinary adventure begins. In a strange world with even stranger characters, she meets a rabbit with a pocket watch, joins a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, and plays croquet with the Queen! Lost in this fantasy land, Alice finds herself growing more and more curious by the minute...

This is quite possibly the most random book I have ever read in my life. Call me old-fashioned but I expect a book to have an actual point… A beginning, middle and end with highs and lows and varying pace but this book had none of that. There was no point whatsoever and I’m utterly befuddled on how it became a classic. It read like a freaking acid trip with Alice plodding along like an entitled brat from one random encounter to another. Nothing is explained, nothing seems to have a particular purpose… It’s like random word vomit jumping from one scene to the next.
It begins abruptly and it ends worse than the series finale of Lost.
However! I was bemused from beginning to end and actually laughed out loud a few times.

If I’d been reading this book instead of listening to the audio, I’d have struggled to get through it but listening to it in the car to and from work was not a chore for Miriam Margolyes' narration was absolutely superb! She was animated and really breathed life into the characters giving each their own accents and inflections and varying her tone and pace to suit the story.
Her narration generated a sense of enthusiasm for the text that I feel I wouldn’t have managed to conjure up on my own so I highly recommend listening to it if you fancy falling down a rabbit hole!

When Alice steps through the looking-glass, she enters a very strange world of chess pieces and nursery rhyme characters such as Humpty Dumpty, Tweedledee and Tweedledum and the angry Red Queen. Nothing is what it seems and, in fact, through the looking-glass, everything is distorted...

Through The Looking Glass: And What Alice Found There is every bit as nonsensical, whimsical and ridiculous as the first book. The only difference is that Alice steps through a mirror into a random world rather than falling down a rabbit hole. 
It was pointless, slightly annoying, and had me questioning why the hell Alice is a literary classic. 
It was definitely something conjured up during an opium binge and probably only truly likeable if you are likewise wasted. 
It was less funny and entertaining than the first and, once again, it was only Miriam Margolyes' narration that saved the tale and prevented it from being a DNF. Her storytelling and plummy accent suit this story beautifully and she does a marvellous job of bringing the characters to life.

All in all, I cannot say I recommend but it's nice to have read the books and to have formed my own opinion on them!
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