Character Guest Post: Sebastian Blackwell of Love Lies and Hocus Pocus!

Today is an amazing day, massive congratulations to Lydia Sherrer on the the release of Betrayal (book #5 in the Love Lies and Hocus Pocus series) What better way to mark this day than with a character guest post from everyone’s favourite witch, Sebastian Blackwell! I have been a huge fan of this series from the start and one question I was itching to ask, was how did he learn to tame all the magical creatures that help (and also sometimes hinder) him in his escapades. Lucky for me, and you, he’s prepared this handy guide to help you tame a magical creature of your very own!

Sebastian Blackwell here, devilishly handsome Professional Witch and your guide to all things magical and beastly. It seems there is cause for celebration today because another one of our adventures has been “leaked” to you mundanes.

I think that’s all fine and dandy, but Lily is worried that some “poor” and “innocent” mundane is going to have the wrong idea and get themselves killed trying to copy us. Sooooo, I’m here to assure you that no cats were harmed in the writing of…hmm, that doesn’t sound right, what was it I was supposed to say? Oh yeah! All magical feats were performed by trained

professionals, and do not try this at home.

There, got that out of the way.

Now, since you’re going to pay as much attention to that warning as you do to the speed limit, the suggested serving size on a box of thin mints, and that safety tag you always tear off of your mattress, here’s a handy little guide to get you started. If you follow these ten rules, your chances of survival will go from about 1 in 5 to a good fifty percent.

Probably. Have fun!

Sebastian’s 10 Rules For Taming Magical Creatures

(AKA Sebastian’s Guide to Avoiding an Untimely and Grisly End)

So you want to tame magical creatures? Well, it’s not all exciting adventures, exotic animals, and fashionably dramatic cloaks, let me tell you. It’s more like life-threatening mishaps, seat-of-your-pants guesswork, and lots and lots of bleach—you’re gonna need that stuff by the gallon. Oh, and cloaks? Seriously? Talk about strangulation hazard right there. Ditch the cloak and stick with jeans and a t-shirt (and not your favorite jeans and t-shirt either, because they’ll probably get torn, stained, burned, and vomited on in short order).

  1. Never summon a demon.

Seriously, just don’t do it, no matter how desperate you are. Been there, done that, regretted it for the rest of my life. Plus, they stink like rotten eggs. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

  1. When it comes to ghosts, do your homework.

Or don’t, if you feel particularly lucky and enjoy the thought of gambling your eternal soul on the off chance that whatever spirit you’re bargaining with is a stand up kinda guy. Unlike the fae, your run-of-the-mill ghosts, poltergeists, and the like don’t follow any rules and will happily lie to your face if it serves their purpose. So, make sure you research the history of said floaty individual and know what kind of person they were in life, not to mention what’s motivating them to stick around in death. People don’t change when they die, they just get cranky about all their favorite foods they can’t eat anymore.

  1. Invest in a sturdy pair of leather boots.

They come in handy when those miniature alligator fae decide they’d rather take a chunk out of your juicy human foot instead of eating the perfectly good slab of raw beef you just threw at them.

  1. Pay attention to your teacher in Spanish class.

Why bother developing your foreign language skills when everyone speaks English anyway? I’ll tell you why, because when you mispronounce that demon’s name you’ve just summoned (because, of course, you’re a reckless masochist and have ignored Rule Number 1), the demon is going to laugh at you and then bite your head off. So, kids, bring your teacher a nice box of chocolates, sit in the front row, and study Spanish (or French or Latin or whatever) like your life depends on it.

  1. Never accept a gift.

Because probably, it’s not. No matter how much that magical creature seems to like you, gift-giving is just a sneaky way to rope you into doing something later that you’ll severely regret. Ask me someday about the time I got hoodwinked into hosting a full moon fae jamboree in my apartment. Imagine one hundred drunk toddlers…yeah, and Lily wonders why I never bother cleaning my apartment.

  1.  Take a bartending course.

Do you have any idea the kind of social skills it takes to bargain, cajole, bully, persuade, threaten, and trick various creatures into doing what you want? If you can’t make it as a bartender, don’t even think about trying to be a witch, not unless you want to be eaten alive, turned into a goat, or stuck in unending nothingness in-between dimensions (those are

just the first three things that came to mind, there are worse fates, believe me). Assuming you can handle bartending, such training will have the side benefit of teaching you about mixed drinks, which are a prime bargaining chips with pixies. Those little stinkers will do anything for a well-made cocktail.

  1. Always carry dog biscuits.

Because you never know when a well-aimed dog biscuit will be the difference between normal life, and life as a quadriplegic. Most hungry things with sharp teeth aren’t picky about what goes in their mouth, as long as something does. If you want to spice things up, you could even invest in some of those super fancy dog biscuits that look like cookies with icing and everything. Just don’t get them mixed up with the actual cookies (because who doesn’t carry around a handy bag of emergency cookies?)

  1. Build a greenhouse.

No, I’m not going all hippie on you. The greenhouse is so you have somewhere to cultivate the variety of grubs, herbs, and various other living things you’ll need to attract magical creatures. Or, if you’re lazy like me you could just use your kitchen sink and the back seat of your car. Back seats are a great place to ferment aged pizza, and there’s nothing better to attract mold fae.

  1. Adopt ten cats.

This one is not for the faint of heart. But I promise, if you can keep ten cats happy, you are much more likely to survive being a witch. Why do you think we have all those stories about witches keeping cats? It’s not because of the feline race’s winning personality, I can promise you that. Plus, cats are good at catching all the mice that’ll be hanging around if you’re cutting corners on Rule Number 8.

DISCLAIMER: I was in no way influenced to add this rule by the large grey ball of floof currently sitting on my lap. If Sir Kipling had his way, the rule would say “Find the nearest cat and give it salmon,” on the off chance that he might be near anyone reading it. When I pointed out that cats aren’t technically magical creatures, Sir Kipling decided to use my lap as a scratching post, so I quickly dropped the subject.

  1. Make friends with a wizard.

This is probably the most challenging rule, since wizards aren’t overly fond of witches. In fact, if you ever meet a wizard, best not to tell them you’re a witch until you’re reasonably confident they aren’t a “curse first and ask questions later,” kind of person. But if you do happenacross a rare specimen of magical impartiality and tolerance, be sure to:

a) Do your research (in case they are secretly a megalomaniacal narcissist plotting to rule the world—those are more trouble than they’re worth)

b) Give them lots of gifts (real cookies, not the dog biscuits) and

c) Don’t tell them about the greenhouse in your sink.

If they stick around after they meet your ten cats, then you’re golden. As long as you keep the cookies and/or mixed drinks coming (depending on their preference), they will most likely be excellent backup in any magically hazardous situation, and might even be persuaded to let you “borrow” their magical knick knacks (and by borrow, of course, I mean procure with no firm return date in mind).

Well, there you go! Ten sure-fire ways to stay on top of things when interacting with the various creatures of the magical underworld. Of course, it would be safer to just read about our adventures from the safety of your armchair with a cheese scone and a hot cup of tea close at hand. But then nobody has ever accused me of being “safe.” *Winks*

Good luck!

Betrayal (Love Lies and Hocus Pocus #5) is live now and you can grab it from Amazon here and it’s also available to KU subscribers.

You can also find my 5 star review of book five here and don’t forget reviews from all the books in the series are available in the blog review archive!

Review of Betrayal (Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus #5) by Lydia Sherrer

Would you betray your friends to save them?
It has been months since Lily Singer’s harrowing adventure in England, yet there has still been no word of her father or Morgan le Fay. Far from being able to relax, Lily has been kept busy doing the last thing in the world she ever imagined: dating Sebastian Blackwell.
Insanity must run in her family.
Things start to get interesting—that is, bothersome and entirely inconvenient—when former beau and FBI agent, Richard Grant, asks for help investigating a series of occult-related murders. Lily would rather decontaminate Sebastian’s mold-ridden car than open that can of worms, yet she might not have a choice. For a whisper has spread throughout the magical underworld—a rumor of creatures that will pit friend against friend and resurrect shadows from the past.

It’s so lovely to be back in the world of Lily and Sebastian, it’s like a warm cozy blanket of a series, although I have to admit given the way things ended in book 4, I was apprehensive about how would pan out. I have to admit that I was pretty surprised! The usual format with the story remains with 2 parts separated by an interlude, part one starting not too far from the closing events of the last but with enough time for some semblance of normality to return. In this first part there is a recap of the previous instalment. This is done in a really subtle way and doesn’t feel pushed into the story, it’s perfect for anyone who hasn’t read book 4 since it was released.

But I know that what you all really want to know about is what is happening with Lily and Sebastian! Setting up your two main protagonists in a potential relationship is always going to be a difficult dynamic to traverse. I have to say, whilst it was something I had been rooting for, I was worried about how it would affect their characters. It was therefore important to get this part right and I have to admit I found Sherrer’s approach to be refreshing. The potential for romance can sometimes lead to
the story being overrun by it, and whilst Lily and Sebastian are often frustrating in their courtship, they are also really endearing. Not all relationships start as epic love stories and the opening lines about
opposites attract, does set the tone perfectly for them.

The second part truly shows off Sherrer’s writing skill, as an utterly breathtaking action packed set piece takes up much of the final quarter of the book. That this level of action continues without let up or feeling repetitive is really something special, I defy anyone to put it down in these final stages. From Agent Grant to the Fae, everyone plays a part in this show down which takes more than one or two unexpected twists.

What I really liked about the book as a whole was the full introduction of a new big bad, for those who have also read the novella Cat Magic there will be a familiarity already. I didn’t feel that the story needed a break from John Faust, until one was there and it actually gave a refreshing change of pace and given the fragility of Lily and Sebastian’s situation I think adding John Faust to the mix may have left the book feeling angsty. Sir Kipling remains the real star of the piece and of the series as a whole, he brings things together so perfectly often voicing/meowing the opinions that needed to be said. The ending is unexpected, whilst the
epilogues traditionally wrap things up, this one ends on a real cliff hanger which isn’t usual for the series, but honestly, It couldn’t have ended any other way.

I loved this book just as I have loved every one before it, 5*

Betrayal is released on 28th February and is currently available for pre-order through Amazon 

Bookish Ramblings: Whats in a name change?

Today exciting things have happened, I have announced my new blog name on Instagram, my new logo is having the finishing touches put to it, and changes will be coming on the 1st March!!

Wait, what changes, this has been your home for years?? True, but lets roll back a bit, right to the start so I can give a full explanation as to why I have decided to change. When I started blogging 3 years ago, it was something I did for others, not for myself (wow it feels good to finally be honest about that) as a reaction to what I was hearing in the Indie Community at the time. Back then my world was heavily ensconced in Facebook (not healthy) involved with a group offering help and support to Indie authors just starting out. The group was 95% contemporary romance authors and the other 5% were frustrated at the lack of opportunity to promote their works on the platform. This was back in the heyday of Street Teams and pimping contests. Whilst a lot of blogs said they were multi genre, they were romance heavy because that’s what was mainly being written. Facebook blogs aren’t blogging in the traditional sense, so my view was skewed from the very beginning. I wanted to provide somewhere that was obviously not for contemporary romance authors and readers, so the dystopian, sci-fi and fantasy authors I had been talking with had a place to go. Initially I wanted Apocalyptic Playground, but that was already taken, so I then had to expand. I was excited to start this although I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I kind of liked that it was something that was just me. I set up a blogger site and twitter account alongside of my facebook page and I have to say it was a shaky start. Immediately I was bombarded by contemporary romance street teams who were pretty horrible to me for being genre specific and I have to admit I did want to quit. Initially authors were on board with my attempts to do something different but I admit that my love waned and I became just another promotional wagon…..

2 years ago, I had a breakdown.

I turned my back on the community, which at the time I felt had taken so much from me, and focused on reading for fun rather than for reviews. I was surprised that my love for reviews was rekindled quite quickly and I rediscovered the world of traditional publishing. I put all my new found time into building my brand and I was lifted by nominations for blogging awards from those who I thought had forgotten me. I finally felt like I knew what I was doing but that my name, that was picked for the benefit of others, no longer represented what I was doing. Even feeling this I continued to invest time in it. But, every time I posted a review for another YA fantasy book I felt that it didn’t reflect my name and kind of left me feeling guilty for not posting enough dystopia, like I was having to justify my name through my content. When I discovered bookstagram 18 months ago this really cemented my feelings that things weren’t right, but by that point I had come too far with it, hadn’t I? More than ever I felt that my content didn’t match my name.

I talked with friends, my husband, and also used Instagram’s handy poll feature to get a feel for things. Whilst many felt that my name was great, it was a unanimous decision that it didn’t reflect my content at all.  For a while now my most popular posts on Instagram have been my Friday night books and wine pictures, what can I say, I have a stressful muggle job and of a weekend I like a glass of wine or 3.  From those posts I quickly found my new name; Paperbacks and Pinot. It’s a name that is all about me as a reader, it reflects my content and allows me guilt free deviation from a set genre.

I will miss Post-Apocalyptic Playground though, we’ve been through a lot together. I will be sad that I can’t refer to the family as Mr Playground, Little Miss Playground and the Smallest Playground Dweller any more but if I don’t do it now I’ll procrastinate and then another year will go by.  I am a little worried about connecting a love of YA books with alcohol, but then there will always be something with any name. I’ve also wound down the review team, I’m so grateful to Katrina, Beverly and Fleur for all their fantastic reviews, but the time just isn’t there for me to maintain it and moving forward I just want to be able to do my own thing at my own pace. There will be guest reviews from them as they complete series they have already started with me.

I really hope that you all like the new name, I’m so grateful that the companies I rep for have been lovely and supportive and that the very talented Molly Phipps from We Got You Covered, found time to fit in a logo design for me. It’s perfect and I love it, I’ll share it all with you when the final tweaks have been done. If you’re still reading thank you for sticking with it and I hope you continue to stop by when things change on 1st March.

Gaynor ❤

Bookish Ramblings: Five things Friday

Weekly wrap up time!

New to my Queue

I’m so so excited, my pre-order of Song of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury arrived early!!! This book is beautiful and whilst I am still a little disappointed that it was only a paperback release, the stencilled sprayed edges are an absolute joy.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about this so far – I get the feeling a February book may get knocked off my tbr for this one!

My Favourite Book(s) this week

I’ve just finished up Betrayal which is book 5 in the Love Lies and Hocus Pocus series by Lydia Sherrer. I’ve had an interesting journey with this book as I was honoured to be asked to Alpha read in the early stages, I love how the story has evolved since then! It’s another 5 star read for me, the author took a real risk in changing a few things up in this instalment and it paid off in spades!

When I wasn’t reading

Little Miss Playground and I had an epic journey to London on Monday. We headed to the Waterstone’s in Piccadilly (which I believe is the largest book shop in Europe) to meet Cressida Cowell, author of the How to Train your Dragon series. She was fantastic, she gave an hour long inspirational talk about fostering creativity and imagination, we also picked up a signed book too! After walking around in circles for a while we eventually found the Forbidden Planet Megastore and oh my goodness their book floor is the stuff that dreams are made of for any fan of fantasy and sci-fi – I honestly didn’t know where to start, I think I would head back to London just to spend a day (and a small fortune no doubt) down there. Also Geeky Clean released their Crown and Crows, Grishaverse inspired collection this week – it all looks amazing, totally head over there and check it out and remember to use my code Postapoca10 for a discount!

Pic of the Week

I have often said on here that there is something a little special about when an author comments on a pic I’ve posted on Instagram. Having received my copy of Song of Sorrow I just had to post a pic, and I was so excited when Melinda Salisbury commented. I had been holding out to see if Fairyloot could work some magic to get another hardback edition but they have been silent since it was first mooted, so after a very small twitter chat with the author, I pre-ordered this Waterstones exclusive edition and I’m so happy I did. It is a shame that the editions don’t match and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way – I hope that Fairyloot takes on board all the comments from subscribers when turning a paperback release into hardback for their boxes in future.

Looking Ahead

I’m behind on my reading and really need to get a lot of blog and social media maintenance done. Being a working parent with a child who doesn’t sleep has really hit me hard at the moment and I can’t find motivation or inspiration a lot of the time. Honestly my MH is at a bit of a low which means my anxiety is in overdrive and I’m replaying a lot of things in my mind. I’m hoping that once I’ve caught up on some sleep things will be feeling a lot brighter! I’m looking to change a few things on Instagram to make me seem more of a person (I don’t think having my logo as my profile is helpful) and I’m also going to be updating some of the blog pages with a view to getting some more engagement – please let me know if there is anything that you would like to see more/less of 🙂

Take care everyone until my next weekly instalment!

The Brightest Darkness Pre-Order Blitz with Kate L. Mary

Title: The Brightest Darkness
Author: Kate L Mary
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Zombie
Publisher: Twisted Press
Editor: Lori Whitwam
Publication Date: March 18th, 2019
There was something evil living in Andrew. I’d seen it in his eyes, reflecting back at me like a spotlight. It was the brightest darkness I’d ever seen, bright enough to snuff every one of us out…
Still reeling from loss, Kellan and Regan set out to rescue Harper from Andrew and his men. Only now they aren’t just fighting to free a teenage girl, they’re fighting to keep a promise to the man who saved them, knowing if they fail, Harper won’t be the only one at risk.
Joining forces with a new group means having help and making friends, but it also brings new conflict and the risk of losing everything they’ve worked to build over the last night years. With zombies banging at their door and the threat of danger around every corner, Regan and Kellan will have to fight to keep their world secure and their secret from getting out.
Buy Links:
The Loudest Silence:
The Brightest Darkness:

 Kate L. Mary is an award-winning author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, ranging from Post-apocalyptic tales of the undead, to Speculative Fiction and Contemporary Romance. Her YA book, When We Were Human, was the 2015 Children’s Moonbeam Book Awards Silver Medal Winner for Young Adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fiction, and the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner for Young Adult Science Fiction, and her dystopian novel, Outliers, was a Top 10 Finalist in the 2018 Author Academy Awards for Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and the Winner in the 2018 Kindle Book Awards for Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

Author Links:
Buy Links:
The Loudest Silence:
The Brightest Darkness:

Six for Sunday: Bookish Hates

I’m doing another retrospective #sixforsunday prompt today, following on from my bookish loves last week, this once encompasses my bookish hates. The actual prompt for this week is characters I would like to date however, Rhysand has ruined me for any other book boyfriend so coming up with 6 would be struggle!

Printed stickers

Printed stickers are my biggest peeve when it comes to paperbacks. Even before I started bookstagram I found them to be incredibly frustrating and now they mar the beautiful covers for my pics I hate them even more. Why spend time and money creating a beautiful cover if the aesthetic is going to be compromised? I have to admit that I have spent a lot of time and often more money trying to track down covers of books that are without them, I know that so many readers hate these and I have often thought of starting up a petition but I doubt publishers will take any notice!

Movie tie ins

Movie or TV tie in covers just look cheap and nasty in my view. I understand why it happens as it gives new readers a beeline to go for if they recognise actors on the cover but they are often unimaginative and have that mass market feel to them. It’s like publishers know they will be a quick and easy sell whatever, which begs the question – give your readers the benefit of some intelligence and allow them to find a book in a store the normal way, they may even find some other great reads in the process.

Formatting the font to the edge

Nothing worse than picking up a book opening its pages to find that you can’t read easily because your thumbs are covering the words (I have pretty tiny hands too). I format books for print and make sure that this is never an issue but again I can see how it happens, but it doesn’t make it right. For me this is one of the reasons historically that I have rarely bought indie print books, however, with the rise of formatters like myself and my friend and mentor Jo Michaels, this is starting to become a thing of the past. I have to admit that I went to an indie book signing a couple of years ago and I have read 0 of the 10+ books I bought because they just look terrible inside. This isn’t an indie bash though as there are trad books which do it too. To this day I don’t understand why Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo was forced to be aesthetically the same size as Six of Crows, it’s led to it being a pretty unreadable book inside. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas was also a lesson in how not to format a book (tiny font and so heavy I could barely hold it up for long reading sessions,) although with a book of that size there was probably little they could do, rather than editing out the 200 pages or so of dead weight in my opinion.

Character pronunciation list at the end

I know that some times these are done to prevent spoilers but seriously it’s frustrating to realise that I have been been reading a name wrong throughout a whole book, it’s pretty much impossible to change it in my mind from then on. What makes it worse is that I’m aware that I’m saying it wrong in my head which pulls me from the story if I’m reading a series continuation – my worst offender for this is Feyre from ACOTAR, I think 3 books later though I have finally got it!

Unhealthy relationships in YA

I did a specific post about this last year following me reading a pretty popular trilogy that for me, encompassed every unhealthy relationship trait going. In adult fiction it’s easier in some ways to reconcile however, when young adult and teen readers are faced with toxicity regularly being normalised, it worries me about how they will perceive this kind of potential treatment in their own relationships. I feel that YA authors, and to a degree their editors, should consider the wider impact and in a world where sensitivity readers are becoming more commonplace, perhaps this is an area that should be considered too. I’m glad I read a lot of YA as I know which to steer my children from in future.

Long Waits

I know authors are not writing machines and people demanding the next book in a series will likely lead to a block in creativity but leaving more than a year between books is likely to end up losing readers. I think the most obvious and most lamented of these is George RR Martin and the Game of Thrones series. I didn’t come late to these books and I read a Dance with Dragons when it came out all those moons ago. The conclusion of the TV series (and yes I hated the Ned Stark tie in cover) will be coming in April and for me I’m going to be done with the series, there is no way I remember what happened in the books (as we all know how different the two beasts have become) and no way do I have time to re-read the whole series so I can safely say that when the last series finishes i’m going to be done with the story, although I know that many, including my lovely friend Vanessa, is in it for the long haul. My favourite indie sci-fi series too seems to have completely stalled, it’s been over 2 years since the last book and the author hasn’t announced a single thing about the next in the series (which ended on a whopping cliffy) as they seem now to be focused on writing romance, I’m pretty sad that I may not get to see how the story ends.

Did any of these strike a chord with you?

Review of Evermore by Sara Holland

Jules confronts the girl who is both her oldest friend and greatest enemy in the highly anticipated sequel – and conclusion – to the Top Ten Bestseller Everless.
Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: She is the Alchemist, and Caro – a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood – is the Sorceress.
The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Now Jules must piece together the stories of her past lives to save the person who has captured her heart in this one.

Firstly I just have to say I’m so happy the UK publisher decided to print Evermore in hardback, the books are beautiful together and also, unusually for me, I re-read Everless just before so I didn’t have to trust my memory for things. As it turns out Sara Holland makes a good job of recapping throughout the story and my re-read served to show how startlingly different the two books are from one another. Where Everless had a slight dystopian feel, Evermore is pure YA Fantasy. The writing feels more evolved than Everless, like there was more on each page. The words didn’t feel wasted and there was a hell of a lot going on. This was probably helped by the fact that Jules’s travels took her farther and wider which opened up greater possibilities with the writing.

Jules’s character develops hugely, as you would expect. The difficulty of reconciling the devastation being wrought in her name, whilst also being hit by wave after wave of her abilities as the Alchemist coming to the fore, is striking for her. I enjoyed the breadcrumb element of this story immensely, the signs of the Snake and the Fox holding valuable memories, gently painting a picture of the history between the Alchemist and Sorceress, each new clue taking Jules closer to the impossible truth.  There is a great twist in Ina’s tale which I was glad for as for the most part she has settled into the role of the old queen where Caro’s influence is clear, the tithe one of many tricks and cruelties to track the Alchemist down. It was a shame that Caro didn’t really seem to do much though, her character stays pretty static. World building wise, this is another area which is more accomplished than in Everless, not just insofar as the wider world goes but also with looking back over lifetimes. This for me was very well done, the flashbacks seeping into the present so you’re never entirely clear where one finishes and ends in a great reflection of the conflict Jules is going through. The pace ebbs and flows with some pretty big set pieces early on, which really drew me in and the last few chapters I just couldn’t get through quick enough, it’s a pretty great ending which left me with lots of thoughts.

The frustrations for me however fell within the established tropes that became repetitive. Jules routinely did the exact opposite of what she was being told by those trying to help her, running into danger without a backward thought to the impact on others. I often felt like Liam Gerling spent his days being frozen in time whilst Jules ran away for him then to catch up just in time and for her to meekly apologise.  I did also miss the sinister shadow of the blood irons, the time as currency aspect seemed to have been forgotten, which leads back round to my opening that this is far more a fantasy read than anything else.

Overall though I really did enjoy Evermore though and I thought it was a great conclusion to the story.


Bookish Ramblings: Five things Friday

It’s Friday, you know the drill!

New to my Queue

I’m pretty lucky to be Arc reading for two great authors and friends this week. I’m reading Betrayal by Lydia Sherrer, ready for an editorial review (nothing like reviewing under pressure!) and Awakening by Bethany Adams, I vowed not to leave it so long between her books and considering I read Abyss last month I’m doing well with that! Reviews for both coming very soon.

Favourite book(s) this week.

I’m putting King of Scars in for this week, I didn’t outright love it as much as I wanted to, but I think I put it on too high a pedestal if I’m being honest. It was full of feels and I did enjoy a lot of it, just not all…..

When I wasn’t reading

I’ve been pretty poorly this week, I’ve had that horrible flu which left me with chills and heavy achy limbs for days. You would think that would mean prime reading time but I’ve not been able to concentrate fully. One thing I have done though is that I have added another page to the menu of this blog, so if you wanted to catch up with all my bookstagram posts without having to go to Instagram – or if you don’t have instagram and you want to see what I’ve been up to over there – follow the Instagram link on the menu bar!

Pic of the Week

As before, I’ve been pretty poorly which has meant that I’ve not been feeling that creative, so I’ve not posted much on IG this week, however in honour of Valentines day, I did this post featuring a gorgeous new candle from Bookish Burns, they consistently knock it out of the park with their fragrances and this one my have just become my favourite!

Looking ahead

I’ve got a fair bit of Arc reading to do in the evenings, but it’s half term here in the UK and Little Miss Playground and I will be heading to London Town to meet Cressida Cowell for a How to Train your Dragon party – there will also be a trip to the Harry Potter Primark (as locally they never stock anything Ravenclaw) and if we have time we’re going to squeeze in a trip to the flagship forbidden planet for all our Pusheen and Funko pop needs 🙂

Review of King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal

Warning: There will be spoilers for the Shadow and Bone trilogy and Six of Crows Duology in this review.

King of scars had been placed upon the lofty pedestal of my most anticipated reads of 2019. I don’t think that was fair of me to do. Six of Crows is one of my favourite all time reads, the story is amazing jam packed with great characters and exciting situations – I will recommend it to everyone. Nina is a amazing character and I’m glad she was given the chance to shine again. The Shadow and Bone trilogy, however, I struggled with, the only saving grace for that series for me was Nikolai and other than Siege and Storm, he didn’t crop up a huge amount. Could the side characters of series books carry off a tale of their own? For me the answer is, mostly.

The start was so strong and properly had me in mouth drop mode in the first chapter, the tone was well and truly set. The writing immediately struck home as the more mature style from Six of Crows and I was pleased to see the multiple POV’s making a return too.  The story is an emotional one and I was in tears on several occasions whilst reading. Leigh Bardugo’s writing is powerful at times, Nina putting Matthias to finally to rest is a real tug on the heart and for me it brought back all the feels again. Zoya recounting her tale of how she came to the little palace is pretty shocking too and there is valuable backstory being laid.

The real star of this book though is Zoya, because of my feelings towards the Shadow and Bone trilogy, I didn’t really pay much mind to her character, but truly she is a force to be reckoned with. Strong and snarky, she has lost so much but comes back fighting and the dynamic between her and Nikolai is both joyful and heartbreaking. Nina’s story feels very much back in Six of Crows territory and I liked how the 2 tales were so different for each other whilst running along side. Matthias’s loss is pretty defining in her recklessness but as the story progressed, Nina felt like a crusader gathering strength from a tentative new partnership – which I admit has got me a slightly a flutter.

I feel though that I can’t just out of love for the characters justify more than 4 stars for this book. It often felt like it meandered, lots of dialogue that didn’t really take the story forward and there were scenes that a good edit should have removed. It didn’t need to be a 500 page book. Chapter length was pretty hefty too, if you’re trying to sneak in one more chapter – be sure to have around 40 minutes spare. Although as the pace geared up towards the end the chapters became more choppy and the chapters easier to fly through. I sadly felt that every time a character from Six of Crows was mentioned it felt cringy – like a forced name drop and it really stuck out, would their 2 worlds have collided outside of Nina? Maybe – but it just could have been done with a bit more finesse.

That ending? I’m sure it will continue to divide, but it wasn’t hard to see coming (and normally i’m terrible at spotting twists) and it was clearly designed from the start to be the cliff hanger point. It set’s it up for a very interesting concluding half though and it will be a great crowd pleaser, one things for certain, dynamics will certainly shift and things are going to get pretty explosive!


Guest Post: Stacey Rourke’s Apocalypse Five

Last month I was privileged to receive an advanced copy of Apocalypse Five by Stacey Rourke, it was a hugely enjoyable read and left me thinking about who I would want to see in that role – I then got to thinking about who the author would visualise, so I reached out to Stacey to ask this very question, the results – well, see for yourself in this fantastic guest post!

When Gaynor Smith first approached me about doing a blog spot of who I would put on my own Apocalypse Five team, my mind instantly began buzzing and clicking with possibilities. For a team designed to be earth’s last line of defense against looming catastrophe, who would I want acting as champions to man-kind? In the first draft of my list, I found many Marvel characters added into the mix. Anyone else see the fatal flaw there? Recently, Thanos proved that particular group can be whipped out with a snap of the fingers. Maybe they aren’t the best choice. Back to the drawing board for me. To make this a little more challenging, I decided to make all my picks from literary works. What better way to celebrate the launch of a new book, than by showing love to other amazing titles?

That being the case, let’s roll up our sleeves and really break this down. The security of the planet just might depend on it … (It totally doesn’t, but thanks for playing along.)

Okay—cracks knuckles—let’s get started!

We need a strong team leader, someone people will clamor to rally behind. They need to have unmatched strength of character, a self-sacrificing mentality, and an iron-clad will to fight for the greater good. I appoint to this role a young lady that knows a little something about being the face of a revolution—Katniss Everdeen.

Team lead in place, we need someone in charge of security. They need to be an expert in weaponry, security, and surveillance. Sharp-shooting skills being an added bonus. Who do I think would be an ideal fit? Jason Bourne. Even when the dude doesn’t know who he is, his training is embedded in his DNA. He would do whatever it took to keep the team safe.

So, what happens when a hostile lands a lucky shot? Or someone gets harmed in a simulation? We need a first rate healer in our group. I nominate Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser from the Outlander series. Having started as a war-time nurse, and going on to become a surgeon, her travels through time have educated her on how to find healing properties from her surroundings to best treat her patients.

Wherever the grid takes them, the team will need someone with a first rate knowledge of botany—to know what can be eaten, and what could turn them inside out. This person needs mechanical skills, a creative mind, and unparalleled problem-solving skills.   My selection? Mark Watney from The Martian. A guy that can find his way back from Mars by himself would be a huge asset to the crew.

Four strong individuals at the prime of their game. Who do we add as their fifth, to complete the unit? This one is going to seem a little far-fetched, so go with me on this. Everdeen, Bourne, Beauchamp, and Watney are all strong, self-sufficient people. What we need is a heart of the group, to rally them all together. Someone strong in spirit, but weak in stature or strength. This character will bind them as a unit. Their presence will make it mandatory for the A5 to work together towards their mutual goal—which in large part will become keeping their more vulnerable counterpart safe. When things get rough, and differing opinions make them want to go it alone, they will stay … for him. With this in mind, I select Auggie from the book Wander to be the glue that basically holds the team together. The safety of that boy, will become their driving force. Failure will no longer be an option.

There you have it, my picks for our A5 team. Now, they are loading into their pods and beginning their countdown to launch. That means there is only one thing left to say …

Good luck, and have a pleasant apocalypse.

Hope you all loved that as much as I did, amazing choices and some of which are favourite characters of mine too. Others I need to check out and add to my tbr (which is about to topple and crush me!)  Apocalypse 5 is released today and you can check out my review here and find it at amazon by following this link