October wrap up

Books and e ARCs received for review


Forging a Nightmare by Patricia A Jackson ( publication date 23 November 21)

I enjoyed this urban fantasy with featuring a diverse cast including a half-angel and half human FBI agent as well as a Nightmare, a damned marine. The biblical influences and the concept of Nightmares (a sort of creature formed from the souls of the damned) were new to me and I found this an original read.

Pretty Deadly by Kelsay Josund ( Publication date 26 October 21)

I enjoyed this Dark Fantasy starring a deadly Cinderella who doesn’t need a fairy godmother to help her get her man. This Cinderella will literally kill anyone standing in her way with her pretty, glass slippers and this is a version of Cinderella I prefer.

The Pickwick Murders by Heather Redmond ( publication date 26 October 21)- Read my review here

An enjoyable murder mystery featuring Kate Hogarth, Charles Dicken’s fiancé who must solve increasingly complex puzzles to prove his innocence. I struggled to figure out who the murderer was and I loved the author’s descriptions of Dickens’s London.

Obsidian by Sarah Haley ( publication date 22 January 2022)

Finally, a fantasy heroine who is refreshing pragmatic about her love life and won’t let it get in the way of her mission. The book has an interesting blood magic system and interesting heroine in Shade, Lady Witch, who must raise a magical veil to protect her people even though the price she must pay maybe her life.

Published books

Grace on the Horizon by Emma Lombard( review here)

The second book in The White Sails Series continues Grace and Seamus journey through life and on the high seas on an exploratory vessel. I enjoyed reading Grace’s struggles with being a wife and mother when her soul was made for adventure.

Books I have read that wasn’t given to me for review

Parting the Veil by Paulette Kennedy

A gothic romance with a slice of spooky ghostliness.

Eliza leaves New Orleans with her half-sister Lydia to settle in England in 1899 to claim her inheritance and to start a new life as an independent woman. She learns that she will only inherit her vast fortune if she marries within a few months and finds herself resented by the other women in her local circle who also seeking a husband. She meets Michael, her neighbour in Havenwood manor and marries him despite the many warnings she receives about him. She moves into Michael’s manor but can’t understand the change in her husband’s behaviour and who is the ghost that’s haunting her room.

The Foundling by Stacy Halls

I read this book for my reading group and found, this historical fiction a predictable read. A story of baby given up for adoption by a mother who can’t look after and her attempts to claim her back many years later from a wealthy family.

The Binding by Bridget Collins

An interesting premise and I hoped the fantasy elements would be more predominant, but this is more romance than fantasy. We follow Emmett  apprentice as a Binder, a person who is able to take people’s memories away an write them away in a book and his shock when he finds a book with his name on.

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

This crime fiction wasn’t what I expected, especially the unresolved ending and the fact this was written by Stephen King. Who killed the Colorado Kid? Well, I still I don’t know!

The Midnight Man by Caroline Mitchell

I read this murder mystery quickly but while I enjoyed this it wasn’t one of my favourite reads.

The Goblin Emperor by Kathrine Addison

I enjoyed this fantasy of political intrigue despite the confusing names and occasional slow pace. Eighteen-year-old, Half Goblin outcast becomes emperor after his family dies and learns to navigate prejudice the dangerous world of the Imperial court.

Summon the Blood by RN Morris

The first book in the Silas Quinn books introduces my favourite detective as he solves a series of gruesome murders in the early 1900’s.


The Ringed Castle by Dorothy Dunnett( Review here)

The book after Pawn In Frankincense was always going to have a lot to live up to but this is still an amazing read. Lymond escapes to Russia with Guzel after the tragic chess game in Pawn Of Frankincense. Lymond and Guzel want to influence the Tsar in dragging Russia into modern times. Unfortunately, no matter how much he tries, Lymond can’t escape the people he left behind in England and Scotland, both family and foe, and finds his life in danger in the depths of Russia.

Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett

The epic finale to the Lymond Chronicles. Will Lymond ever find out the truth about his parentage? Will he find happiness with the woman he loves? Will he ever be free from Margaret Lennox?

The Magicians

What if Narnia was real and discovered by a Grown-up Harry Potter?

 Other Posts published

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Bookish Peeves

Ten Top Tuesday- Book vs TV

Black Drop by Leonara Nattrass

First Line Friday

Parting the Veil by Paulette Kennedy- Book Review

Read my Halloween review of Parting the Veil a spooky, gothic romance set in 1899 by Paulette Kennedy

#gothicromance #bookreview

Genre: Historical fiction

When Eliza Sullivan inherits an estate from a recently deceased aunt, she leaves behind a grievous and guilt-ridden past in New Orleans for rural England and a fresh start. Eliza arrives at her new home and finds herself falling for the mysterious lord of Havenwood, Malcolm Winfield. Despite the sinister rumours that surround him, Eliza is drawn to his melancholy charm and his crumbling, once-beautiful mansion. With enough love, she thinks, both man and manor could be repaired.

As Eliza delves deeper into Malcolm’s troubling history, the dark secrets she unearths gain a frightening power. Has she married a man or a monster? For Eliza, uncovering the truth will either save her or destroy her. 

I picked this from Amazon’s first picks and it seemed a good choice for Halloween- I love a spooky gothic romance and this book is definitely spooky, gothic with lots of romance.

Continue reading “Parting the Veil by Paulette Kennedy- Book Review”

First Line Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page.

Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first.

Finally… reveal the book!

England was freedom. For Eliza, there was a certain kind of irony in that.

A sharp blast of steam announced the SS Evangelina’s arrival, coal smoke billowing from its twin stacks. Eliza steadied herself against the railing, her pulse fast behind her ears.

Did you guess? It was an Amazon first picks- A spooky gothic romance perfect for Halloween.

It’s Parting the Veil by Paulette Kennedy.

Continue reading “First Line Friday”

The Pickwick Murders by Heather Redmond- Book Review

I enjoyed reading this historical crime fiction featuring Charles Dickens and his finance trying to prove his innocence in a gruesome murder in 1836.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 26/10/21

Series: Dickens of a Crime

Charles Dickens, an up and coming journalist and writer in 1836, receives an intriguing invitation to join the exclusive Lightning Club. But his initiation takes a sinister turn when he stumbles across a dead body and is accused of murder. Dickens finds himself in Newgate prison fighting for survival and dependent on his friends and loved ones to prove his innocence. Kate Hogarth, his fiancé, finds herself targeted by a mysterious letter writer who demands she solves increasingly twisted puzzles to keep Charles safe but she soon realised the cost of failure isn’t just Charles’s safety but also her family’s.

I received a review copy from NetGalley and Kensington Books in exchange for my honest, unedited feedback.

I watched a documentary on the amazing Catherine Dickens born Hogarth who was an incredibly talented writer, wife and mother. She found herself subject to a painful divorce when Dickens fell in love with someone else. So, I was interested to read this book which features a young Kate deeply in love trying to solve a murder.

I haven’t read the previous books in the series but it was easy to jump into the story without having read the older books in the series.

I found Kate a refreshing heroine and her descriptions of her taking on the role of an investigator with hesitance rang true. She is unable to investigate freely given the restrictions on women in the 19th Century for example not being able to follow a lead as her Father forbids her to do so as it could be too dangerous in the fog. I felt sorry for Dickens as he found himself trapped In Newgate prison, a place he had written about because of its appalling environment.

The mystery around the murder and the Lightening society was satisfyingly interesting and I could not guess who the eventual murderer was until the final reveal. The puzzles that poor Kate had to solve were appropriately literary and introduced women writers from that time that I am ashamed to say I haven’t heard of. 

The atmosphere is well described and the descriptions of the grubbiness of Newgate. The smells and sounds of the streets really bring 19th Century London to life especially when the author describes the food Kate frequently buys from the street vendors.

There are several secondary characters, both real and fictional. I loved reading about Julie Aga, an actress, who doesn’t let pregnancy or society get in the way of helping her friends.

Content warning

Possible sexual assault ( off-page)

Perfect for Fans

Historical crime featuring real-life people


I will definitely be adding the backlist of the Dicken of a Crime series to my reading list.

Top Ten Tuesday- Top Book vs TV

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TTT-NEW.png

This week is a freebie!

I love books and TV shows based on books. If I find out my favourite book has been filmed for TV I have to watch it and vice versa much to the annoyance of the people watching TV with me. 

I always assume that I will love the book more but is that always the case?

So here is my top book vs TV show and let’s see whether books trump TV shows!

Game of Thrones by G.R.R Martin

This is a controversial one. I watched the TV show after my other half told me how great it was and of course I then had to read the book. I found myself reading book after book in this series, gasping with the audacious plot twists and shocks. I continued watching the TV show especially when I realised this might be the only end to the story. But somehow I didn’t feel the same thrill of the books despite how beautiful the show looked. My other half was bemused when Daenerys turned into an autocratic dictator but this was no real surprise if you had read the books- GRRM had planted the seeds early on. The ultimate clincher in the books have the terrifying Lady Stoneheart!

Verdict: The Books win even though the ending is still not in sight and not just because I love Lady Stoneheart.

Shadow and Bone/ Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Burdugo 

The TV show combines the characters in Shadow and Bone as well as The Crooked Kingdom and the result was surprisingly interesting. The TV show changed the normal and boring Alina to a more feisty half- Shu who is of course beautiful. I did prefer the ordinary Alina from the books. The irritating Mal from the books is transformed and with this Mal, I could understand why Alina was devoted to him. The characters from the Crooked Kingdom felt a little out of place and it felt their story was just about to start.

Verdict: A tie, I love the books and the TV show for different reasons

Read my review here

The Vampire Diaries by LJ Ross

This is a classic vampire story with a young, beautiful teenage girl and two handsome vampires who love her. The TV show is so dark with twists and shocks thrown in every episode. It doesn’t hurt that the fact that the actors who play Damien, Elena and Stefan were gorgeous and talented especially when playing the evil versions of themselves. The secondary characters like Bonnie and Caroline are much more developed and interesting. The books are a much tamer affair.

Verdict: TV show wins over the book in my view.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

I didn’t warm to Quentin, a grown-up Harry Potter in Narnia when I read the first book but returned to the series after watching the TV show. The TV show shows Quentin’s depression and how he overcomes this to make him a more relatable character. The TV show’s diverse cast and writing bring alive the many characters in the books to create some unforgettable characters. The show has a strong sense of humour that is missing from the books.

Verdict: TV show wins though the books are well worth reading.

Read my review here

The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski

When I think of The Witcher, I think of the start of Covid. I enjoyed watching the first few episodes of the TV show. When it become evident that shops would be closed as part of the lockdown including bookshops, I panicked and took a risk- I bought all the books in The Witcher series without reading the first book from my local bookshop. I’m glad I did. The series is so well written with an overall story arc running through all the books and neatly resolved by the last book. Geralt of Rivia is a strong, interesting and grumpy character Yennefer’s story obsession with having a child makes more sense when you read the books and I loved her equally tetchy character in the books.

Verdict: It’s a tie- I can’t wait for the next season of The Witcher even though I have finished all the books.

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is my favourite urban wizard- funny, brave, maverick, sarcastic and I have loved reading his journey from single,carefreeish wizard to a major player in the Chicago magic scene. His friendship with Karrin the equally brave, single, detective is a highlight of the books. Unfortunately, the show managed to lose everything that made Dresden special and why did they change Karrin?

Verdict: Book wins without a doubt

read my review here

The Colorado Kid by Stephen Kid ( TV show Haven)

Haven is one of my favourite tv series. Haven is a small town in Maine beset by Supernatural troubles and needs FBI agent Audrey Parker who has the gift to ease these troubles. The underlying mystery to the show is the Colorado Kid and who killed him. I finally found a copy of the Colorado Kid and was surprised to see that there is absolutely nothing in common between the book and TV show except for the grumpy newspapermen and the dead Colorado kid. The book is an old-fashioned story of a dead man with no supernatural elements and the mystery is disappointing never solved.

Verdict: TV show beats the book

The Expanse by S.A Corey

I came to these books via the TV show and this is probably my favourite science fiction series. The books are an epic combination of space politics, intrigues, battles and aliens with a diverse range of characters including one of my favourites the foul-mouthed politician Avarsala. Understandably, so much of the books can’t be transferred across to the TV show.

Verdict: Books win by a tiny bit over the TV show- I can’t wait for the final instalment!

Read my review here

The One by John Mars

The book by John Mars is based on the premise that the concept of the soulmate or is based on biology and people can be tested to find ‘ The One. The author does a great job in describing the complete fallout on relationships when this is made public. The book also has one of the best twists I have read.

The TV show is still based on this premise but introduces a completed mystery and backstory that isn’t half as good as the underlying deceit in the book. The emotional fallout on ordinary couples is ignored and of course, the main characters matches are all photogenically gorgeous.

Verdict: Book wins over the TV show  

Well, I guess I prefer books over TV 

What are your favourite books vs TV?

The Colours of Death by Patricia Marques- Book review

Read my review of The Colours of Death by Patricia Marques a paranormal murder mystery set in an alternative Lisbon featuring a Detective with a special Gift.

Isabel Reis is Gifted and a Detective. In an alternative Lisbon, a minority (I use this term deliberately) of people are ‘Gifted’ either telepathic or telekinetic. In the past, Gifted people were tolerated and marginally accepted but after an incident when a rogue Gifted telepath lost control, they are feared and subject to increasing discrimination. In midst of all this tension, the head of the Institute is responsible for finding out who is gifted is murdered. Isabel has to find the Gifted person responsible for this very public murder even if this puts her in harm’s way.

This book worked well on a number of levels. The mystery around the very public death of Gil dos Santos, head of the controversial testing centre for the Gifted was interesting in itself. But add in an extra paranormal element and this becomes a complex and layered story of prejudice against anyone perceived as different.

Isabel is telepathic, she can read people’s emotions and thoughts and rifle through people’s memory which should make her great at her job, you would think. But as a Gifted Detective, she is limited to what she can do especially when the non- Gifted view her with suspicion and as unnatural. It doesn’t help her Gift is levelling up and has to hide this in case she is carted off to a government camp and never heard of again. She has to deal with all of this along with her complicated relationship with her family and her ex. Isabel is a realistic character and the author does great job describing her fears, angry and frustrations when she is treated as an outsider, I really felt for her when is cruelly rejected by the people she loves.

The book describes the discrimination of minorities really well and how the fear of anyone different can be used by powerful people for their own gain. The descriptions of Lisbon were vivid especially all the different food Isabel has to eat ( because of her gift). I now want to find an authentic Portuguese restaurant to try the cuisine,

My only criticism and it is a small one- the language in places felt a little clunky.

Content warning

Descriptions of child neglect

Perfect for Fans of

Gritty paranormal crime

Summary4 and a half stars- I enjoyed this murder mystery with a paranormal twist and hope we see more of this Gifted Detective.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman Book vs TV series review (Spoiler free)

What if Narnia was real and discovered by Magicians. Read my review of the fantasy series, The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

Genre: Fantasy

Books in series( complete)

Book 1: The Magicians

Book 2 : The Magician King

Book 3: The Magician’s Land

Book series review

I first read The Magicians almost a decade ago when I saw a tagline- Harry Potter goes to college- and had to read it. I finished the first book and while I didn’t dislike the book, I didn’t love it either and didn’t bother with the sequels until watched the TV show ( more on that later). I reread the first book before reading the sequels but while I enjoyed the first book a lot more as well as the sequels, don’t think this is a series I would read again.

Continue reading “The Magicians by Lev Grossman Book vs TV series review (Spoiler free)”

The Ringed Castle by Dorothy Dunnett- Book review

The fifth instalment in the Lymond Chronicles has a restrained Lymond trying to influence change in Russia, in The Ringed Castle, historical fiction by Dorothy Dunnett.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: The Lymond Chronicles ( Review my series review here)

Lymond escapes to Russia with Guzel after the tragic chess game in Pawn Of Frankincense. Lymond and Guzel want to influence the Tsar in dragging Russia into modern times. Unfortunately, no matter how much he tries, Lymond can’t escape the people he left behind in England and Scotland, both family and foe, and finds his life in danger in the depths of Russia.

 Book Review

“Not to every young girl is it given to enter the harem of the Sultan of Turkey and return to her homeland a virgin.”

I have to make a confession- this is not one of my favourite books. I’m not sure why- it has everything I have come to expect from Dorothy Dunnett. Perhaps, this would be true of any book that comes after Pawn in Frankincense. But when I read this again recently, I found there is so much to like yet it remains my least favourite book in the series.

Continue reading “The Ringed Castle by Dorothy Dunnett- Book review”

Grace on the Horizon by Emma Lombard- Book review

Grace’s journey continues in Grace on the horizon, book 2 of the White Sails series by as she navigates life as the wife of an explorer in the 19th century in this intricate historical fiction Emma Lombard.

from Amazon

I received a free copy of this ebook from the author in return for an unbiased and honest review.

Genre: Historical Fictions

Series: The White Sails Series

First Book: Discerning Grace ( review here)

Grace on the Horizon picks up three years after Discerning Grace. Grace and Seamus are settling into life as a married couple in London but there are problems. Grace finds herself excluded from high society and Seamus is struggling with this lack of progress in his Naval career as a result of the unfortunate events of the last book. So after a personal tragedy, they both jump at the chance of an expedition funded by the intriguing Hamilton. Hamilton convinces Seamus to take a priest on his ship to establish a mission elsewhere for a large sum of money but he hides the fact the priest is accused of murder from Grace.

Continue reading “Grace on the Horizon by Emma Lombard- Book review”

First Line Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page.

Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first.

Finally… reveal the book!

“Not to every young girl is it given to enter the harem of the Sultan of Turkey and return to her homeland a virgin.”

Any Ideas?

It’s from Ringed Castle, Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett

Fifth in the legendary Lymond ChroniclesThe Ringed Castle leaps from Mary Tudor’s England to the barbaric Russia of Ivan the Terrible. Francis Crawford of Lymond moves to Muscovy, where he becomes advisor and general to the half-mad tsar. Yet even as Lymond tries to civilize a court that is still frozen in the attitudes of the Middle Ages, forces in England conspire to enlist this infinitely useful man in their own schemes

 The blurb from Goodreads focusses on Lymond but The Ringed is as  much about Phillipa Somerville, the young girl alluded to the opening lines.

Did you guess the book?