Tuesday 16 November 2021

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The hype machine did its job! I finally read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (in paperback thanks to the lovely Sam @ We Live and Breathe Books)... So, what did I think? Read on, my friends! Read on! But first, just in case you've been living under a rock and have never heard of the book...

Ageing and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.

When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Oh my... The amount of hype that surrounded this book when it was released was something else... And it's not often that a book lives up to the hype but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is one that absolutely does!

The book had me spellbound from beginning to end. 
It wasn't one I binged in a single sitting. No... I read it over the course of a week - husband to husband - for it was one that needed to be savoured and slowly digested, piece by piece.
Seven months later, the characters and story still live rent-free in my head. 
(Yes, it's taken me that long to write up my thoughts, thankfully I have notes.)

What struck me most about it all was that Evelyn was not a likeable person but she was utterly fascinating. Her life story is painfully realistic but also over the top in an 'only in Hollywood' kind of way. I marvelled at her, I ranted at her, I cried for her and I cried with her... When I finished the final page I had no idea what to feel about her beyond the woman was indisputably a legend.
But she wasn't real! None of the characters are real! But they felt real. 
The entire story felt like it could be a Hollywood biography from the golden years... Like I could google their names and watch their movies and flick through a picture book of photos from their public moments. I think it hurts that I can't! Like when I read Daisy Jones and The Six and couldn't listen to the album Aurora... But I'm drifting off topic. 

The writing was brilliant. The story was wonderful. The ending was shocking and surprising and I bawled my eyes out more times than I can count. 
It's definitely a book I won't forget.
I loved it.


Tuesday 12 October 2021

TMST: It's been a while... tell us more about you! (Including, how do you read?)

So, I suck at blogging lately (and by lately I mean this entire year). 
I suck at reading... I suck at life.
Seriously this year has been tough and I have had little to no interest - at most sporadic bursts of interest - in my hobbies and various passions: especially reading and bookish pursuits.
This obviously makes book blogging rather difficult. 
I've thought a million times that I was ready to "come back" and get "back to normal" but nothing is normal for me at the moment and I doubt it will be for a long while to come so I've decided not to force it and rather than hide from my current reality I'm going to roll with a new normal.

I'd been avoiding my blog as something as simple as opening up the web browser and typing in the URL sent me into a negative spiral.
Seriously... it's not healthy. But why? 
Honestly, I'm not 100% sure I even know, but I think it's because I feel like I'm failing and letting people down... It's a bit ridiculous really. How can I fail at a hobby?! It's not a job. I don't get paid to post. I'm not forced to read other peoples blogs. I do it because I want to and if I don't want to, or can't, I don't. It should be that simple, right? Ha! Tell that to my stupid brain! 

Then there is the fact that I struggle to muster regular enthusiasm about books and reading even though I LOVE both books and reading because... that's how depression works. It robs you of your passions.
So, how can I have a book blog when I'm struggling with books? 
Weeeelllll, I've decided to post whatever I feel like and to heck with being a book blog for now!

To be clear, I'm still classing myself as a book blogger, I'll still have a lot of bookish posts, but right now I just need to get back to posting regularly and building a routine whilst I recover...

I guess you could call this a soft re-launch? A facelift without actually changing appearance? An experiment? I dunno... Maybe it'll just be another failed attempt at returning to blogging but it's worth a try!

Now onto Tell Me Something Tuesday...

It's been a while... tell us more about you! Was last week's Tell Me Something Tuesday question that I meant to answer but missed because of the whole "sucking at blogging" thing I've got going on.
Paper, electronic, audio... How do you read? is this week's question.

I figure that both of these questions would make a wonderful place to re-start blogging!
I'm drawing a line under all the comments I haven't answered and all the blogs I haven't read.
I'm attaching cement shoes to the guilt and tossing that bitch into the ocean.
It's the only way forward... Starting over without actually starting the blog over!

So... Hello all!
I'm Nicci, a "book" blogger in my mid-30's from the UK.

('Tis me! I don't think I've ever really shared pictures of myself on here before... Have I? I don't remember. 👀) 

I'm married, and I'm a mother (of one). 
I love animals, especially cats.
Tea is my favourite beverage.
Reading romance is my jam.
Rock music is my jam.
Farming sims... Bring me joy.
I'm a marvel fanatic. 
I love to bake.
I cross-stitch.

My educational background is Bio-Med but nowadays I work as a Project Manager for a STEM organisation which feeds my need to plan shit, organise people, and make lists.

I have a weird sense of humour, I'm sarcastic, prone to snark, and will metaphorically bite people if they bug me.

Oh! And I love Lilo and Stitch. It's the best Disney movie ever. Fight me. 
(And yes... I enjoy the sequels. And the tv show. And have merch. I'm not sorry.)
Erm... I don't know what else to add! I guess for those that have known me for a while very little of the above is news... I guess, ask a question in the comments if there's something you want to know and I'll answer... 


When it comes to reading... I read anywhere and I consume in all formats: paper, electronic, and audio. I have my ereader, my kindle reading app on the phone and audiobooks with me pretty much everywhere I go. Physical books, I read less often but when I do read one I prefer paperbacks as hardbacks are too awkward when reading in bed. 
I'm a non-monogamous reader (aka more than one book on the go at all times) as my audiobook and ebook are always different. Plus, I'm a mood reader so sometimes I have multiple ebooks on the go at once... But only ever one audiobook as I tend to only listen whilst cleaning, cooking or driving and if I had multiple audios on the go simultaneously I'd never manage to finish one! (Thanks to covid and more WFH I don't drive much anymore so it severely reduces the audio time.)

How do you prefer to read?

Monday 26 July 2021

The Mid-Year Freak Out Tag 2021!!

Mid-Year Freak out time!
Yes, it's the end of July but I don't care... Being late is the story of my life! 😆

I can't choose!!! I have 3 very different favourites of the year, so far...
Lancelot by Giles Kristian
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Erm... I guess it would be Hellbound Guilds and Other Misdirections by Annette Marie and Rob Jacobsen.

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas
Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews

The One and Only Crystal Druid by Annette Marie

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz

Jen DeLuca

Ren Bergman from Always Only You by Chloe Liese

Nava Katz from The Unlikeable Demon Hunter series by Deborah Wilde

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo had me bawling my eyeballs out towards the end.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

I can't really think of any book to movie adaptations we've watched this year beyond doing a re-watch of the Hunger Games movies so I'll go with those!

Bwahahahaha! I've written about 20 posts total this year and I wouldn't say any of them are a favourite but I'll go with "Reasons why I love reading and reading romance!" as it was fun.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

It's much prettier in "person" with embossing and foil etc.

Too many to count! But here's a few that spring to mind...

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Keystone by Dannika Dark
Great and Precious Things by Rebecca Yarros
Camelot by Giles Kristian
House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang


Did any of these make your lists?

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Books I Read In One Sitting

This week's Top Ten Tuesday question is: 
Books I read in one sitting... Or would have if I'd had the time.

Oooh... and what a lovely question it is! The problem is that there are so many!!! 
And I'm only going to focus on books I read in one sitting... The "would have if I'd had the time" would keep us here forever!

Okay, let's start with 2021, so far...

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz

Rhapsodic by Laura Thalassa

The Unlikeable Demon Hunter by Deborah Wilde

And now for 2020...

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Beginner's Guide To Necromancy series by Hailey Edwards. 

Yes, the series... One book after another (paced at one book a day). It was lockdown... I had nothing else to do and it hooked me.

Damned Souls and A Sangria by Annette Marie

Touch of Evil by Cecy Robson

Grave War by Kalayna Price

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

You Had Me At Hockey by Kelly Jamieson

Huh... What do you know; that's eleven (plus)!
And I could have gone on from 2020... Let alone 2019 and beyond (behind?) but I'll stop there.

What can I say? I like a good binge read.
What about you? What's on your list? 

Sunday 18 July 2021

Sunday Post - Hot and sticky with a side of reading...

This week has been a quietish one without work (I'm on medical leave) to juggle alongside the day-to-day activities. 

Monday to Wednesday pretty much consisted of me going for a walk in the morning and reading the rest of the day until the little dude got home from school. 
On Thursday and Friday, I mixed things up a little by meeting a friend for coffee in the morning, then walking, then reading... What an exciting life! 😆 In all seriousness, I need the routine, I need the calm and I need the time to adjust to the medication I'm on, so it's all good. 
On Saturday, we ran errands in town, checked out flooring options (we're looking to replace the downstairs carpets probably with wood flooring), and had a BBQ in the evening. 

The weather has been so freaking hot this week and it looks like next week will be the same and I'm not happy about it... I hate it when it gets too hot... Ugh, sticky and gross!
 As I write this, it's not quite 10am, and it's already 26c/79f. 😞 If yesterday is any indication, it'll be above 30c by lunchtime and there is nowhere to hide! The only one in this house who can handle the heat is the professor who thrives on it.

The little dude breaks up from school this coming Thursday so I think I'm going to spend the day planning some summer activities. It's going to be nice having something to look forward to!

This week was a mixed reading week... 2 novels, one novella!
I really enjoyed Romancing the Duke but the other two mostly missed the mark for me.

Romancing The Duke by Tessa Dare 
Never His Mate by Sarah Spade
How To Catch A Wild Viscount by Tessa Dare

I blame Jen DeLuca and Well Met because I'm re-watching Once Upon A Time! I'm halfway through S2 and enjoying having it on in the background immensely!

Apart from that, all we've watched is the season finale of Loki.

Friday 16 July 2021

Lancelot by Giles Kristian

Audiobook Duration: 22hrs 56min
Narrator: Phillip Stevens

The legions of Rome are a fading memory. Enemies stalk the fringes of Britain. And Uther Pendragon is dying. Into this fractured and uncertain world the boy is cast, a refugee from fire, murder and betrayal. An outsider whose only companions are a hateful hawk and memories of the lost.

Yet he is gifted, and under the watchful eyes of Merlin and the Lady Nimue he will hone his talents and begin his journey to manhood. He will meet Guinevere, a wild, proud and beautiful girl, herself outcast because of her gift. And he will be dazzled by Arthur, a warrior who carries the hopes of a people like fire in the dark. But these are times of struggle and blood, when even friendship and love seem doomed to fail.

The gods are vanishing beyond the reach of dreams. Treachery and jealousy rule men’s hearts and the fate of Britain itself rests on a sword’s edge.

But the young renegade who left his home in Benoic with just a hunting bird and dreams of revenge is now a lord of war. He is a man loved and hated, admired and feared. A man forsaken but not forgotten. He is Lancelot.

Set in a 5th century Britain besieged by invading bands of Saxons and Franks, Irish and Picts, Giles Kristian's epic new novel tells - through the warrior's own words - the story of Lancelot, that most celebrated of all King Arthur's knights. It is a story ready to be re-imagined for our times.

Do excuse me while I rock in the corner bawling my eyes out because I am not okay! Lancelot freaking wrecked me to the extent that I wish I could turn back time... and read it all over again, like it was the first time, because I bloody loved it!

Lancelot has always been the character from the Arthurian legends that held the most appeal to me and this book - fiction though it may be - cemented that for all time.

It was stunning... Breath-taking, soul-stealing... Haunting.
Giles Kristian is a wonderful writer capable of transporting you to a different time and place with his words... Told from the pov of Lancelot himself, he fully immerses you into the life of this legendary character to a degree that he became flesh and blood, not smoke and words.
The story is a long and winding journey taking you from Lancelot's childhood through to his end... Lancelot is not a perfect man but as a warrior, he is something truly special - and I loved him. I loved his loyalty, his courage and his fierce devotion.

I loved how the famous love triangle of Guinevere, Lancelot and Arthur was handled... Yes, it's heart-breaking. Doomed from the start. A beautiful disaster... But it didn't matter. Guinevere was never truly Arthurs in this tale... There's nothing underhanded or seedy about it all. It's just tragic and it makes your heart bleed for all of them. Lancelot, Guinevere and Arthur...

This is a story of a special boy who grew to be an extraordinary man.
A story of a dream... Camelot was the dream. Something that could have been but never was because even the very best of people have flaws and vices.
The 'what could have been' is what haunts you... If only Arthur and Lancelot hadn't been pulled apart!
If only, if only, if only...

The story is intense, gritty, graphic, and utterly engrossing.
The characters of legend are familiar but so different to what you've seen before.
The book is very grounded in reality but still has hints of "magic"... An otherworldly something in the shape of Merlin, the Lady and even Guinevere.

I'm not going to lie, the book can be slow in places and won't be for everyone but it absolutely worked for me.
It was a unique take on the Arthurian legends and it will stay with me for a very long time.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

TMST: What are your favourite posts to read?

This week's question on Tell Me Something Tuesday is... What are your favourite posts to read?

My favourite types of posts are posts that let me get to know the person behind the blog; Sunday Posts, recaps, slices of life. Getting to know the blogger, liking the blogger, is what keeps me reading when a mutual love of books may not be enough.
I also enjoy discussion posts and lists.

I think my least favourite posts are book blitzes and cover reveals. I understand the need for them, and have found quite a few favourites from taking part in or seeing a blitz post  - and I love admiring book covers! - but when a blog posts too many of them I switch off. Especially when they don't personalise them in any way.
I like to see personality, you know?

What about you?


Monday 12 July 2021

Well Met and Well Played by Jen DeLuca!

Warning! You'll want to run away to a Renaissance Fair after reading these books... You can't say you haven't been told! I just warned ya!

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon's family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn't have time for Emily's lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she's in her revealing wench's costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they're portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can't seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

This book is utterly delightful!! The definition of joy in a book... I absolutely loved it! The Renaissance Fair setting, the characters, the family dynamics, the friendships... All awesome.The romance? Top notch.

Simon freaking ruled! Okay, I could be 100% biased on this point because I cannot think of this book, and Simon, without picturing Hook from Once Upon a Time but that's irrelevant: Simon was a good dude but his Captain Blackthorne alter-ego stole the show! Did Simon annoy me at times? Yes. Did his ren-fair control-freakery make me stabby sometimes? Yes. Do I care? Nope! Give me that pirate!
His relationship with Emily was gold and had me smiling - and laughing - like an eejit.

Emily was super endearing. I loved how she found her home in that quirky little town (and fell in love with the pirate English teacher... Did I mention the pirate yet?!) She'd had a tough time of it and it was wonderful seeing her find her purpose and her tribe.
It was all just adorable. I read it through in one sitting (I seriously don't think I stopped to even get a drink) and I loved it. I didn't want it to end and jumped straight onto the next one in the series.
Highly recommend it (especially if you love a sultry, flirty (non) pirate!)

Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it's been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she'll even find The One.

When Stacey imagined "The One," it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she's not sure what to make of it.

Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey's shock, it isn't Dex—she's been falling in love with a man she barely knows.

After devouring book one, Well Met, I dove headfirst straight into this one. I did not stop, pass go, nor collect two hundred pounds. (Otherwise known as pop to the loo, grab a drink and have a snack...) I just clicked on the book and off I went!

We met Stacey in book one and I adored her. She was just so friendly and kind. This girl lives and breathes the ren-fair but beyond that, I feel like I knew little about her so it was a pleasure getting to know Stacey outside of the Fair, from her family to her cat, in this book. Her reasons for still being in town, how alone and left behind she felt... You just wanted good things for her so it made the Dex/Daniel thing infuriating.

I knew going into this book that it would give me Don Quixote vibes but I wasn't prepared for how conflicted I'd feel about it all playing out. Daniel is so likeable and he genuinely cares about Stacey (unlike Dex!) but I cannot reconcile that with him not telling her who she was actually talking to for so long... On the other hand, when confronted, he was a big boy about it. He didn't lie, he didn't hide, he owned it and he and Stacey worked through it like sensible adults! Imagine that! People actually talking things out like rational hooman beans... Unusual to say the least when most authors would have rolled with the drama.

The ups and downs in Stacey and Daniel's relationship were understandable. How everything played out made perfect sense... And I adored the ending! However, I feel like this one lacked a little bit of the sparkle that made Well Met shine so brightly. I enjoyed Well Played immensely but it was missing a certain something... (And no, I'm not talking about a certain pirate - he crops up!) Regardless, it's well worth a read and I cannot wait to read more in this series! Just keep 'em coming!


Thursday 8 July 2021

The Kiss Quotient (by Helen Hoang) and Sick Kids In Love (by Hannah Moskowitz)

One adult contemporary romance and one young adult contemporary romance... Two wonderful books I highly recommend!

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

I finally read this book! Yay! I feel like everyone has read it - and loved it - and I was the odd duck in the corner who hadn't but now I have and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long!

This book is so easy to read... You just slide into the story on page one and are promptly swept away on a gentle current of laughter and romantic awesomeness.

The book has a super simple premise that is executed beautifully. Filled with loveable characters, real challenges and understandable conflict, it was a super enjoyable read.

The Asperger's elements really hit home for me (as I imagine they would for anyone who is close to an Aspie) and I adored the care and understanding Michael showed Stella even before he knew anything about it. (If only the majority of people in real life were so kind and understanding of people's differences...)

Michael is such a wonderful character... I mean, Stella is fine - I liked her - but Michael stole the show and my heart. The lengths he went to for his family... Not many would. I totally understood why he did the escorting but I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't struggle with it. It gave me a slightly skeezy feeling whenever I thought about how many women he'd slept with. I honestly don't know how Stella could handle it but the pair of them were so good together that I'm glad she could!

I didn't love The Kiss Quotient as much as I did The Bride Test but, if you haven't read it already, I highly recommend it just the same!

Isabel has one rule: no dating.
It's easier-- It's safer-- It's better --for the other person.

She's got issues. She's got secrets. She's got rheumatoid arthritis.
But then she meets another sick kid.
He's got a chronic illness Isabel's never heard of, something she can't even pronounce. He understands what it means to be sick. He understands her more than her healthy friends. He understands her more than her own father who's a doctor.
He's gorgeous, fun, and foul-mouthed. And totally into her.

Isabel has one rule: no dating.
It's complicated-- It's dangerous-- It's never felt better -- to consider breaking that rule for him.

This book caught me completely by surprise! I mean, I thought I'd like it (of course I did or I wouldn't have read it) but I didn't expect to like it, nay love it, as much as I did! Isabel and Sasha just blind-sided me and made me feel so happy... What a pair they were. Two chronically ill (not terminally ill, thank goodness!) teenagers who meet, fall in love, and go about their business... It was that simple and that complicated.

I loved them together, and apart. I loved their friendship, their relationship and how they were just two teenagers in love...

I laughed so much while reading this book. Despite the "sick kids" label, it is not a heavy read. It's pragmatic about the realities of living with a chronic illness but doesn't get weighed down by it. They are still kids, teenagers, and they're just living their lives. It was so easy to read... I didn't really want it to end!

I have no idea why this book resonated so much with me but I adored it even when people - I'm side-eyeing you, Isabel - got on my nerves. It brought joy and happiness. Thus five stars and I think everyone should read it! lol.


Tuesday 6 July 2021

Reasons Why I Love Reading... And Reading Romance!

My answer to this week's question - why I love reading - is twofold, so let me being with reading in general:

To escape! There is a book for everyone and every mood. No matter what is plaguing you, you can escape into a book. A book can help you cope with what's going on in your life. A book can make you forget and it can help you remember.  
Through a book, you can experience new and different things and maybe, just maybe, you'll be suitably inspired to try some of those things for real...
Through books, you can learn! About people, life, the world... Facts, vocabulary, you name it! Fiction, non-fiction, it doesn't matter! They all have things to teach you.
Books can challenge your perspective by putting you firmly in someone else's shoes. They foster empathy for other human beings, other creatures, by exposing you to realities and situations you may never have encountered in your own life. 
Reading engages your brain!  It educates. It makes you think, it makes you feel... Improving your imagination and keeps you mentally on your toes. It provides endless hours of pleasure, entertainment and comfort.
Reading makes you a better, more rounded, person. Especially if you read a wide variety of books from a wide variety of authors.
Everyone should read!

Now onto me personally...

I read all sorts of books from a host of genres in both the fiction and non-fiction realms but I class myself primarily as a romance reader. 
Romance novels are my jam. 
Yes, I read a lot of UF/F books but my favourites in those genres are the ones that have strong romantic entanglements throughout to keep me hooked. 
I love love!
My reasons for reading romance are because you get to experience - like the ultimate voyeur, people falling in love. You fall in love with them! You get to live a million meet-cutes. A million first dates. All the trials and tribulations of new relationships (and established relationships), all the giddy highs of meeting someone, falling for someone, without moving from your favourite reading spot or jeopardising your own, real-life, relationship! 
You have strong women (actually, all kinds of women) who get theirs... You know what I'm saying?!
You have smouldering alphas (and sexy betas) with abs galore! 
You don't like muscles? It's cool, there are romance novels to cover you too!
Same sex? No sex? All the sex? You're covered. 
Monogamy, polyamory... Abducted by tentacled space beasties? Don't you worry... You'll find it all in romance! Romance has every sub-genre imaginable! Seriously... you'll find whatever makes you tick and you'll find it with a happily ever after (minimum happy for now). It doesn't matter what hell the author puts you through... It will all be okay with romance! Can any other genre say the same? I don't think so.


So tell me... Why do you love reading?

Wednesday 30 June 2021

A Deal With An Elf King (by Elise Kova) and An Enchantment of Ravens (by Margaret Rogerson)

Two very different fae-based fantasies... One a hit, one a bit of a miss!

The elves come for two things: war and wives. In both cases, they come for death.
Three-thousand years ago, humans were hunted by powerful races with wild magic until the treaty was formed. Now, for centuries, the elves have taken a young woman from Luella's village to be their Human Queen.
To be chosen is seen as a mark of death by the townsfolk. A mark nineteen-year-old Luella is grateful to have escaped as a girl. Instead, she's dedicated her life to studying herbology and becoming the town's only healer.
That is, until the Elf King unexpectedly arrives... for her.

Everything Luella had thought she'd known about her life, and herself, was a lie. Taken to a land filled with wild magic, Luella is forced to be the new queen to a cold yet blisteringly handsome Elf King. Once there, she learns about a dying world that only she can save.
The magical land of Midscape pulls on one corner of her heart, her home and people tug on another... but what will truly break her is a passion she never wanted.

Hades and Persephone... Beauty and The Beast. My catnip. My kryptonite. This book has all the elements and gives off all the vibes so, needless to say, I was hooked from the beginning and I freaking loved it.

I loved the slowish burn of the romance and enjoyed the slow pace of the story - but acknowledge that some may find it irritating.
The world-building is straightforward and uncomplicated... Especially when compared to Fantasy books in general but I feel like this is a point in its favour as it provides a backdrop for the romance between Luella and Eldas without ever drowning it out. The romance, the relationship between the pair, is front and centre. I'd even argue that this isn't a fantasy book... It's a romance in a fantasy setting and fantasy romance is a very different beast to a fantasy that contains romance... I think if more people went into it knowing that there'd be less complaining on Goodreads... But I digress.

Neither character - Luella or Eldas - was particularly memorable on their own but I liked them both and I liked them together. I admired Luella's compassion and determination and I admired Elda's kindness even though it had to be tempered by duty to his people. The secondary characters in the book were window dressing... Pretty underdeveloped and only there to push a plot point forward but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story.

A Deal With An Elf King is not a perfect read but it ticked so many escapist and happy place boxes for me that it goes onto the keeper and love shelves. It was just what I needed right when I needed it most.

If I'm honest, I'd say that it's the kind of book that people will love or hate... And for me it's love.

Oh! One final point... I'd have been pretty miffed with some elements of the book's ending if I hadn't read the bonus epilogue that you get by signing up for the author's newsletter so that's something to bear in mind... It's something that should 100% be included in the actual freaking book and not as a subscriber grab but oh well.

Every enchantment has a price.
With a flick of her paintbrush, Isobel creates stunning portraits for a dangerous set of clients: the fair folk. These immortal creatures cannot bake bread or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and they trade valuable enchantments for Isobel’s paintings. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—Isobel makes a deadly mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes, a weakness that could cost him his throne, and even his life.

Furious, Rook spirits Isobel away to his kingdom to stand trial for her crime. But something is seriously amiss in his world, and they are attacked from every side. With Isobel and Rook depending upon each other for survival, their alliance blossoms into trust, perhaps even love . . . a forbidden emotion that would violate the fair folks’ ruthless laws, rendering both their lives forfeit. What force could Isobel's paintings conjure that is powerful enough to defy the ancient malice of the fairy courts?

Isobel and Rook journey along a knife-edge in a lush world where beauty masks corruption and the cost of survival might be more frightening than death itself.

I'd heard so many wonderful things about this book that I couldn't not buy it when I saw it come up on a 99p ebook sale. I was in a fae mood and it would have been rude not to. The cover is cool, the title is awesome and - as I said - people seemed to love it so I was excited... But then, it didn't take me long to realise that my favourite part of this book is likely to forever be the title: An Enchantment of Ravens.

Now, I realise that sounds quite negative and I don't mean to be! An Enchantment of Ravens isn't a bad book, it's just a very specific kind of book that I think will leave people enchanted or completely underwhelmed and I was in the underwhelmed category.
It had so much potential but I felt like it just never reached it.
I felt like I was being teased all the way through. Teased by a story that could sweep me away into another place but never did. Teased by a romance that could have been everything but wasn't. Teased by an opportunity that just never manifests.

The world building is pretty cool, with an interesting take on the fae, but it leaves more unexplained than shared. The characters... Well, you barely scrape the surface of them. The pacing is weird, sometimes it's super slow and other times super fast. The romance has so much potential but left me feeling unsatisfied just like the ending which leaves too much hanging!

Rogerson is clearly a gifted writer able to evoke beautiful images and feelings with her words but the whole book felt like an unfulfilled promise and so it frustrated me more than it delighted me... but, just to be an awkward contraction, I enjoyed it just the same and read it cover to cover over a 24hr period.

I just don't know what to tell you... Except that I'd definitely read a sequel if there was to ever be one. Especially if that sequel tied off all the loose ends and fulfilled the promise that this book made but never quite delivered.


Monday 28 June 2021

To Kill A Fae, To Kill A King and To Kill The Dead by CS Wilde (Hollowcliff Detectives books 1-3)

The Hollowcliffe Detectives series is classed as Urban Fantasy but it is set in a fictitious world quite unlike our own so it's heavy on the fantasy and light on magical realism.

This isn't a problem for me but it may be for others who want the things that go bump in the night to be mingling with a facsimile of the world as we know it.

The series has a range of beasties with the major players being Fae, Sirens, Lycans, Witches and Vampires. Humans exist but are not the focus of the series.

The world-building is pretty light but the author gives you enough throughout the course of the books to satisfy. It's safe to say though that the series is very character-driven and if you don't care about Mera or Bast, you'll probably struggle.

The books build on each other so this is definitely a series you need to read from the beginning (and in order) otherwise there is no point.

Fae enjoy playing dangerous games.
In detective Mera Maurea’s experience, three things motivated a murder: secrets, convenience, or passion. But none of the three can explain why the Summer King is dead.
With a tight deadline hanging over her head, Mera has to figure out who’s the culprit before the frail balance that holds the nation of Tagrad together crumbles into dust.
To aid her—or turn her life into a living hell, hard to tell which—is her fae partner Sebastian Dhay, a snarky detective with a penchant for the illegal. He’s a volatile wild card who will do anything to solve the murder, even if it means his doom.
The clock is ticking. And Mera is hiding a deadly secret of her own.

Book one sets the scene and introduces you to Bast and Mera when they are forced to work together (at the expense of Mera's long-term police partner Julian) to solve a human/Fae murder.

I liked that Mera was a Waterbreaker/Siren as I haven't read too many books featuring Sirens as a lead character. Her powers were interesting, she was a strong woman who got the job done and was fierce without being an annoyance. Her childhood was brutal and it was easy to see how it shaped the woman she grew to be.

I loved Sebastian's character. In a word, he was yummy! I adored his sarcastic self and how he gelled with Mera despite her reservations. The slow-burning romance between the two was delicious! Definitely more than meets the eye with this guy and this pairing... Although, I really hope there isn't a love-triangle looming on the horizon with Mera, Bast and Julian. That would get on my nerves.

The pace of the story was good and I didn't guess the outcome of the case so that was a win!

All in all, definitely worth a read if you like UF/F reads and are looking for something new.

Book one sets the scene and introduces you to Bast and Mera when they are forced to work together (at the expense of Mera's long-term police partner Julian) to solve a human/Fae murder.

I liked that Mera was a Waterbreaker/Siren as I haven't read too many books featuring Sirens as a lead character. Her powers were interesting, she was a strong woman who got the job done and was fierce without being an annoyance. Her childhood was brutal and it was easy to see how it shaped the woman she grew to be.

I loved Sebastian's character. In a word, he was yummy! I adored his sarcastic self and how he gelled with Mera despite her reservations. The slow-burning romance between the two was delicious! Definitely more than meets the eye with this guy and this pairing... Although, I really hope there isn't a love-triangle looming on the horizon with Mera, Bast and Julian. That would get on my nerves.

The pace of the story was good and I didn't guess the outcome of the case so that was a win!

All in all, definitely worth a read if you like UF/F reads and are looking for something new.

Book two picks up not long after the end of the first book in the series. Mera and Bast are now officially permanent partners - in the detective sense - and have become poster-children for interborough/species collaboration.

Being the dream-team, it shouldn't be a surprise that they're asked to work a case involving the death of the Night King but, given that the King was Sebastian's father, it is.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The Night Kingdom's island of Lunar Insul was fascinating. Bast's family dynamic was gripping. From liked brothers to hated brothers and everything in between... It kept you on your toes and kept you guessing as Bast and Mera worked to solve the mystery of his father's death! We learned so much about his history and what made him walk away and become a cop... It was awesome. We also learned more about Mera and "the plot thickens" regarding her history and the Waterbreakers.

The romance between Mera and Bast heats up and starts to take on a "fated mates" vibe which I'm not at all opposed to but I did find it weird how Julian (her former cop-partner and object of romantic interest) disappeared off the face of the earth in this book...

Book two as a whole was a faster-paced, more emotional, and interesting read than book one. I inhaled it in under a day and was constantly curious about what came next. It left me super excited for book three!

All terrible things come in two.
Mera never imagined she would have to face a necromancer without Bast, her fae partner, but the Captain decided to separate them on a whim - or so she thinks.
Running against the clock to avoid an outbreak that could destroy the human borough, Mera is forced to work with Julian Smith, the man she used to love before the Night Prince came waltzing in her life.
Not good. Not good at all.
Meanwhile, Bast chases Poseidon with the help of his brothers, knowing it’s the only way to ensure Mera's safety. He’ll do anything to save her, even if it means his doom.
The dead are rising. And Poseidon is coming.

Book three is the busiest book of the series, so far! A mission to hunt the "big bad" Posideon separates Bast and Mera and sees Mera pairing back up with her former partner (Julian) to solve a case involving a necromancer.

Separating Bast and Mera gave the book a different vibe from the others in the series and in bringing Julian back into the picture loose threads are resolved but not without some irritating (and completely unnecessary) relationship drama! Despite my irritation with the drama, it acted as the catalyst for Mera and Bast to sort themselves out and seals the deal on them as an official couple so I tolerated it with only minor outbursts.

The story is another fast-paced one filled with death, chaos and major peril... There are huge reveals which will lead to an explosive series finale. I don't want to say more or I'll definitely spoil things for those intending to read but I'd guessed who the necromancer was before the "big reveal", I just didn't understand "how" it could be that person but it all made sense in the end!

A personal highlight of the story for me was how the events of book two had altered Bast's relationship with his brothers and how they really came through for him here...

All in all, I'm really looking forward to the conclusion of this series! So many questions. So many ways it could all go!

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