30 April 2016

Monthly Wrap Up // April

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April has been one of the fastest months for me, but also one of the slowest. I’ve done very little, although it’s been nice to have old friends back in my life (even if they have then left me for London). I’ve been reading and renewed my love for both Pok√©mon and The Sims. I have failed epically when it comes to curbing my spending, but have been extremely successful in making myself happy. I’ve not really read a bad book this month and I’m happy with that.

Can’t Stop Listening

Ophelia – The Lumineers
7 Years – Lukas Graham
Gimme Chocolate – Babymetal (this is not a song for everyone but it’s so strangely catchy)

April Reads

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April Posts


April Links

Broc’s Bookcase // To Re-Read or To Not To Re-Read?
Boats Against The Current // YA Heroines: Likes and Dislikes
Quite A Novel Idea // Too Busy To Read? Try These Tips
Of Dragons And Hearts // Supernatural Love Interests
The Honest Book Club // Who Do We Comment For?
The Daily Prophecy // Feeling Uninspired
Feed Your Fiction Addiction // The Series Dilemma – Let’s Discuss
Buzzfeed // 13 Shows To Binge-Watch With The Slytherin/Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw/Gryffindor 

 

And there is my April. What have you been reading book-wise and on the blogosphere?

27 April 2016

Nobody But You // Another Perfect Book In A Series Which Just Keeps Getting Better

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Published: 29th March 2016
Source: Publisher (Headline Eternal)
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Small Town Romance
My Rating:
Fans of Jill Mansell, Debbie Macomber, Nora Roberts and Marie Force will fall head over heels for the Cedar Ridge series from New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis, featuring her trademark gift for humour, warmth and romance.


After an overseas mission goes wrong, Army Special Forces officer Jacob Kincaid knows where he must go to make things right: back home to the tiny town of Cedar Ridge, Colorado. All he needs to scrub away his dark past is fresh mountain air, a lakeside cabin, and quiet solitude. But what he discovers is a gorgeous woman living on a boat at his dock.

Sophie Marren has nowhere else to go. She's broke, intermittently seasick, and fighting a serious attraction to the dark, dishy, I'm-too-sexy-for-myself guy who's now claiming her dock. Something about Jacob's dark intensity makes her want to tease - and tempt - him beyond measure. Neither one wants to give any ground...until they realize the only true home they have is with each other.

Want more warm, funny romance? Don't miss the other delightful Cedar Ridge novels, Second Chance Summer and My Kind of Wonderful, visit spellbinding Lucky Harbor or experience some Animal Magnetism in Sunshine, Idaho in Jill's other unforgettable series.
Once more I ventured to Cedar Ridge with another book by Jill Shalvis and I will begin by saying I really enjoyed it.  That was never in doubt, I feel like I should preface all Jill Shalvis reviews by saying I’m biassed and therefore you should acknowledge that if you’re not a fan of small town romance already you won’t learn whether or not to read this book from my review alone.

The Basics, What Made It A Bit Different?


Anyway, let’s begin with why I enjoyed it so much. I think part of it is that these are both characters we’ve seen nothing of before. Too often you can get a certain idea of characters in small-town romances based on the secondary role they play in other books. It was refreshing to read a book with completely new characters. Sure, we had heard all about Jacob in the past couple of books, the missing brother of the Kincaid family, but we hadn’t ever seen him until this book. You have an impression of him, but he’s been gone without any contact for years and people change.

Let me say, Jacob lives up to all expectations. He is a bit snarky, and a whole lot of hot. He is on leave from the Special Forces and he is looking to reconnect with his family when his biggest regret was losing touch with them and effectively orphaning himself. As for Sophie, she was an easy to relate to character. She is a woman coming out of a bad marriage who is trying to pick herself up and not looking to lose herself in another guy, instead, she wants to find herself.

I liked that both Sophie and Jacob weren’t looking for a romance or even a real connection. They both had their own plans when they came across each other and got far more than they expected Jacob was back in Cedar Ridge for his family and his family only, whilst Sophie needed to figure out who she was without losing herself in a man and trying to live up to their expectations rather than her own.

Basically, It Was Love.


The romance was absolutely perfect. I don’t always think this about romance series like this one, but each book has slowly gotten better. I initially thought that the first book was going to stay my favourite with its second chance romance, which is a soft spot for me, but then this book came along. I think I fell in love as soon as Sophie threw up by Jacob’s feet. As soon as I realised this was going to be about the people more than a simple romance. Basically, I loved this book and I think it was mostly because I loved Jacob and Sophie, and together they were perfect.

Have you read any of Jill Shalvis’s Cedar Ridge series? Do you have a favourite book of hers (there are plenty to choose from)?

25 April 2016

What I Thought Was True // It Was A Slow And Interesting Book With A Strong Cast Of Characters

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Published: 7th April 2016
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
My Rating:
From the acclaimed author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-you-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.
I was so excited when I was given review copies of both this book and Fitzpatrick’s sequel to My Life Next Door so I had quite high expectations for this book. After reading My Life Next Door, I knew Fitzpatrick had the potential to be one of my favourite author’s. I remember seeing a few mixed review about this book. They weren’t bad ones necessarily, but they weren’t as strong as for My Life Next Door, which concerned me slightly. I decided to not go back and search for those reviews before I started reading and instead read and form my own opinion first, and I’m glad I did.

My Own Thoughts First


I do love a book set in a seasonal area. I don’t know, but I do. I suppose I like the idea of living in a tourist destination and especially the idea of living by the sea. I also liked the idea of there being the haves and the have-nots. A class divide may be nothing new in books, but it is certainly interesting to read again. Essentially, the set-up for this book was perfect. The entire premise is one that appeals to me, this was actually the Huntley Fitzpatrick book I was most excited to read. Before they began published in the UK I was seriously contemplating ordering me a US copy so you can imagine my excitement to read this.

I think the story was pretty great. I was a little confused at what kind of direction this book was going in when I started. I could tell Gwen had something going on that we weren’t directly told about, but I couldn’t figure out what for a little while. I liked the fact that it was set in the present but you had all the flashbacks to what happened to make Gwen sarcastic and wary of the well off side of the town. I got her general dislike, she’d witnessed the lives her parents had and wanted more, but her strong dislike for certain people seemed to have no basis until you learnt more about their shared past. I liked slowly discovering more about her relationship with Cass and her past with some of the non-island boys that made her so wary. It’s a slow read, you don’t get given all the information straight away. Instead, this book is this weird winding path to get to know Gwen as she brings her barriers down, it’s actually quite interesting as the more you learn about Gwen the closer she grows with Cass as she drops her barriers with him as well.

I do this book a disservice by claiming it’s all about Gwen and ass and their relationship, as it really isn’t. Much like My Life Next Door wasn’t simply a sweet romance neither is this one. This is about Nic and his girlfriend Viv as they grow and figure out their lives together. Are they going to be like their own family living on the island forever or are they going to follow their dreams and get away? It’s about Cass figuring out what he wants in life, does he simply wish to pursue acceptance from his family or does he want to follow his own path and accept responsibility for his actions? It’s a lot more than about two people, it’s about an entire cast of characters and that’s what made it good.

The other aspect of this book I really liked was that it approached sex in a really mature way for YA. Gwen had made some stupid mistakes, she was quick to rush into sex with someone without thoughts for the consequences. She's a teenager, she will do stupid things like that. Her reasons for doing it made so much sense, though, she has grown up too fast helping out her parents and looking after her brother and she has witnessed the seemingly perfect (and very sexually driven) relationship between her cousin and best friend and she wants that too. She is continually the third wheel and she is looking for someone to have that with and going about it in all the wrong ways. I liked that Gwen was a flawed character making mistakes and doing things wrong. It felt genuine, and I know some will struggle to connect with Gwen for acting so rashly, but I think it makes her come across as real and genuine and makes this book more relatable for me.

I do have some complaints, though


Look, no book can be perfect and there were a couple of things which bothered in this book. One of them was the fact you have all these really fantastic characters but they don’t get given enough page time. Sure, they got well-developed stories, you saw their lives happening, such as Nic and Vivien, but I did feel like they could have been given a bit more to be fully developed characters. You got brushes of them. Nic came across as a complete dick and if he had got given a bit more page time it could have been explained and he instead would have come across as a flawed character. I mean, poor Vivien got even less page time and that sucked. We’re told that she’s Gwen’s best friends, but they barely talk. Not sure, this is in some ways related to the story and is explained, but it bothered me. I love good bookish friendships and this one could have been really fantastic if only they’d gotten a chance to appear in the book together a bit more.

I think my other complaint is about the class thing. This is one which deals with the issue of the rich and the poor in a small coastal area. There are those with the money and those which work for them it appears. I liked that there was this weird divide in some ways, but it also didn’t feel genuine. It felt more like the divide was one created by those without. Sure, there were the old rich people that were judgmental, like the one old lady who refused to remember people’s names and the horrible son who hired Gwen to care for his mother. They seemed to live up to the rich stereotype, but that’s what it was a stereotype. I would have liked the class issue a lot more if had people who didn’t fall into the expected stereotypical role and instead came across as an original character. It’s not a big complaint, but I feel like you’re going to do something like that you should at least do it well.

Overall, It Was Amazing


I may gripe and moan about silly things, but they are things which bothered whilst reading. Did it make me put the book down? Not a chance. I wouldn’t have stopped reading for anything. This is a much slower book than My Life Next Door but in many ways, it’s the better for it. This isn’t the intense emotional rollercoaster which that book was, instead this is a slowly developing book about real life issues people can actually appreciate. This is a book about growing up and figuring out what you want in life and it’s fantastic. It’s filled with these amazing characters, like Grandpa Ben and Emory, and is just really enjoyable. This is a book you should read in the sun, on a beach, when you want to escape into someone else’s story for a while. Instead, I read it under about ten million blankets on my friend’s fold out sofa with no heating (I was in a seaside town, though) waiting for people to emerge from their beds as they were hungover (and I probably was as well).

How do you feel about books with a slower pace and a whole lot of story? Do you prefer fast-paced emotional books or their quieter cousins who have a less forceful emotional impact, but still stay with you?

24 April 2016

Sunday Summary // 24.04.2016

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Guys, we have a significant event to celebrate here (no, it’s not my birthday or my blogoversay which I forgot about). I had a good week at work this week!

I mean, Friday lasted about 10 days, but that was my own fault for starting the weekend countdown at 8am. Apart from my unusually long Friday, though, the week went rather quickly. That’s not to say there hasn’t been minor office drama (one of our directors is leaving to join a competitor and someone didn’t pay the Royal Mail bill so the postman refused to collect our franked post) but the minor office drama just added to the week. It gave it flavour. We are still all wondering about our office move (I’m telling you, someone knows something but they’re all keeping shtum) and a lot of people are excited about the festival they’ve arranged at work (I’m not going, it’s down in Tunbridge Wells and you aren’t allowed to bring friends as guests) but the office has been pretty upbeat. It’s not often you’ll hear me being happy about work (if it’s going well it doesn’t get mentioned) so I thought I’d fill you in on working life.

In other news… I have no other news. I managed to have an hour and a half phone call with a friend Monday night, which was fun. I feel I should add life coach to my emails and begin advertising my services after that epic phone call. And then my friends went and abandoned me to have their own lives. I mean, I say abandoned, the one has moved down to London for a job and the other had to attend a family reunion…. I can’t exactly fault them, can I? So, I’ve just been reading and hanging out with family, and successfully remembered about #ukyachat on Friday! I care about the little things… shall we move on to books?

What I’ve Been Reading

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I have been doing quite a bit of reading this week since I’ve been left to entertain myself and decided being social is overrated. I decided to catch up with The Austen Project and finally read Emma, which has been sat gathering dust on my shelf since last March. I like The Austen project and even thought the books so far haven’t all been amazing I will still be buying Eligible sometime soon.

Following Emma I was in the mood for romance so decided I needed a trashy romance and read Tied to Trouble (it was alright, hard to go wrong with romance). 

At the same time, Danya had asked me to buddy read Jane Steele with her and I am so glad she did! I am terrible for putting off reading books and I would have done the same with Jane Steele and I shouldn’t have. It was amazing! Once you get into it, so after the first chapter or two, and then you’ll be hooked.

Then I was back on the romance train and read some historical romance in the forms of Falling into Bed With a Duke and a re-read of Ten Ways to be Adored. All I can say is I love Sarah MacLean and I seriously need to read more Lorraine Heath because that was a good book.

And to finish the weeks reading off? Well, I decided to read Truthwitch before my next Illumicrate arrives in May. I’m enjoying it so far. I’m not completely hooked but I am enjoying it. There are some fun characters in here, I just wish I had a glossary of terms as I keep getting confused.

New To Me

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I’ve been in a bit of a romance mood as of late… also, I shouldn’t be allowed near NetGalley because I simply can’t help myself when I see a good book available. The Tessa Dare books and Off The Hook were purchased. I in no way need to justify Tessa Dare to you, but I’ve been told Off The Hook is supposedly for fans of Jill Shalvis (it both delights and annoys me books are advertised in comparison to others) so I thought I’d give it a chance. Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet was requested on NetGalley for the simple reason Charlie N. Holmberg has written books I’ve enjoyed so far, so I want to read this one. And Nina Is Not Ok just sounds interesting so I had to request it on NetGalley. That, and the email NetGalley sent out about it has a quote from Graham Norton and I love Graham Norton.

And there is my week. How have your weeks been, anything interesting happen? And please tell me your thoughts on any of the books on the page, what do you reckon I should read first in my new purchases?

22 April 2016

My Thoughts // Do I Rate Books Too Highly?

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My Thoughts is a feature where I attempt to write bookish discussions. If you had spent any time with me in real life you would learn I have this habit of blurting out random thoughts from time to time when I allow my mind to wander. It’s from these random thoughts these posts emerge as I attempt to write some coherent thoughts about what’s been on my mind. I am trying to combine this with my attempts at participating in the Discussion Challenge this year.

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I know I’ve spoken before about ratings and about how it feels wrong to give the same star rating to very different books, but I want to talk about ratings in a slightly different way. I want to discuss with you whether or not you can be too generous a reviewer and whether or not it’s possible to be too easily pleased by something? Can you be too generous with your ratings?

This is very vaguely inspired by a post Danya did way back when (like seriously, it was ages ago) because she has had a similar experience of questioning this. Hers was based on a rude message she received, mine is inspired by the fact I rated Passenger well but I’ve seen a lot of bad reviews for that book as well from bloggers I love. How can I rate a book so differently to them? Is it me. Am I too easily pleased?
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Let’s start off with me explaining I am very easily easily pleased. I know this. It’s possibly a character flaw. If I like something I like it. I am black and white in my liking. I either love it or hate it, I find it difficult to give degrees of liking. I’ve always been of the mind-set that if I like something why do I need to say how much? It feels like each of my books, or films, or TV shows are competing for my affection and I like them all for their own reasons and own ways.

It doesn’t make sense me reviewing books and giving them a star rating with that logic, does it? If I can’t be critical then how can I possibly accurately review a book? I don’t know.

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was not my inability to be critical. Or, it is, but it’s more than that. I mean, am I being too nice? Is that a thing which is possible?

I keep a spreadsheet of books bought and books read (it’s Crini’s one if you’re wondering) and it keeps track of all the book details and everything and looking at my book ratings so far this year I have a whole lot of 4 star reviews and I can’t understand how. I mean, do I hand out 4 star ratings too easily? My Goodreads average rating is 3.94, that’s quite high.
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I know I read a lot of books and the books I choose tend to be books I know I’ll like anyway. I mean, who goes out of their way to read books that won’t like? That’s stupid. But, am I more likely to rate a book highly which I enjoyed but may never read again? Do I rate books I liked higher than other people because they are better at giving their like a degree to it? I just don’t know. Is it me?

There are a lot of questions here and I don’t think there are any solid answers. I don’t think I’m too nice. I think I know what I like and I may be too nice, but I’m okay with that. I know what I like (a lot of things it turns out) and I will keep on reviewing my books exactly the way I do. I need to remember that just because I have similar tastes as people does not mean we will always have the same opinions. I need to remember that who cares what anyone thinks? I am my own person and I will rock my opinions. We need those reviews where you say something different so people can get a balanced view of books. It’s okay to be different with what you think. Is it being too nice? No, I don’t rate books higher than I think they deserve. Just because I give a high rating doesn’t mean I’m not being critical. I can still recognise the flaws in a book I’m just saying that those flaws didn’t affect my enjoyment of it as a whole. I’m a nice person. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Do you think that it’s possible to be too nice? Should we question when are ratings differ from other peoples? Should we just shrug it off and move on because being nice is not a bad thing and liking too easily isn’t a negative?

20 April 2016

The Dark Days Club // It May Not Have Been Perfect, But I Could See The Potential For More

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Published: 21st January 2016
Source: Gifted
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
My Rating:
London, April 1812. Eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is on the eve of her debut presentation to the Queen. Her life should be about gowns and dancing, and securing a suitable marriage. Instead, when one of her family's housemaids goes missing, Lady Helen is drawn to the shadows of Regency London.

There, she finds William, the Earl of Carlston. He has noticed the disappearance, too, and is one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of powerful demons that has infiltrated every level of society. But Lady Helen’s curiosity is the last thing Carlston wants—especially when he sees the searching intelligence behind her fluttering fan. Should Helen trust a man whose reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her headstrong sense of justice lead them both into a death trap?

In The Dark Days Club, internationally best-selling author Alison Goodman introduces readers to a heroine who is just as remarkable as Eona—and yet again reinvents an established literary genre, making it her own.
I was so excited about this book. I first heard about it on LoveReading in December and I couldn’t believe I had to wait for the book to be released! I then had to wait for my birthday as it was on my bookish birthday list. Thankfully, I finally got it and read it as soon as I had a chance. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I have a few thoughts.

I’ll Begin With The Bad


I know I said I was insanely excited, well that led to me having high expectations, which can often lead to a bit of disappointment. It wasn’t my expectations which were the issue though, it was the writing style. I got used to it quite quickly, but it took time. It’s very formal and difficult to adapt to the writing style. For those not eager enough to keep reading it could very easily drive them away.

Not only does the writing put you off a bit, but the story itself took a while to… you know… start! I was reading away and I kept waiting for the things which are revealed in the blurb to actually happen. Where were the demons? Where were the revelations about The Dark Days Club? Where was the action because, whilst I love a good regency book, that’s not what I wanted when I started reading. Thankfully, the story gets going and you are completely absorbed, but that did annoy me waiting for something more substantial than a small rebellion against her strict uncle to happen.

But That’s Just me Trying to Be Well Rounded In My Review


Look, I know I’ve been really negative, but that is not even an accurate representation of this book. Yes, it’s slow and the writing put me off when I first had to adjust to it, but once I got stuck in I was hooked. I wanted to know what was happening with Helen. What happened with her parents? I wanted to punch her uncle in the face. Where on earth has this Carlston bloke had been? Did he kill his wife? What about this mentor bloke? And, seriously, what is with this bloke that keeps hanging around? Is he a good guy? Can I trust him? Why is he such a wet blanket? Why is her brother so negative? How have there not been more clues in life? And what is the big bad lurking around?

I know that some people may have felt that it was slow. I felt it was slow, but then it’s a first book setting up a complex world and Helen is restricted by the era she lives in. It’s not like she could wonder off and not tell anyone where she was going and then come back again. She lived in an era where her time was accountable to her guardians, she was required to have a chaperone in most circumstances and her days were hardly her own. It meant that whilst there was this fantastic world out there she wished to explore but simply couldn’t.

I think this very smartly explained the stop start nature of the book and the fact that the central point was essentially what life Helen wished to pursue. She had choices to make and you can see the stark difference in the slow, sedate, and quite honestly dull pace of her everyday life in comparison to her fast-paced and exciting life with The Dark Days Club. I really enjoyed how the story developed (you know, once it did) and I was intrigued by it.

In The End, I Loved It


I gave this book five stars for a reason. I was sucked in. I was hooked. I was utterly fascinated and could not stop reading. I had all these questions and I cannot wait for the next book. This one was very much build up for the next. I can see all the potential and I think that helped in the high rating. I can tell there was a good reason for being excited and I’m glad I chose to read it. It’s fantastic and I cannot wait for the next one. Don't get put off, all the potential is here for something great. I think once the next book comes out you’ll get a more in depth story and it’ll be worth it. Now, I just need to find Goodman’s Eon books.

Have you ever read the book where you liked it for the potential of the story, especially when it’s the first book?

17 April 2016

Sunday Summary // 17.04.2016

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This week has been good. It has actually been a good week. I have had no drama, no bad moods and nothing ridiculous happening at work. It’s been nice to actually relax. Although, that relaxing atmosphere has made work seem like it’s lasting forever whilst I wait for the other shoe to drop, but I can’t complain about something as minor as that.

I can’t claim to have had an interesting this week, though. I have mostly spent the week at home with family, which I always enjoy. It’s not very glamorous, though. It basically involves me coming home from work and immediately donning my home uniform of pyjamas (known as loungewear when worn outside of the bedroom). I have watched some very ridiculous TV (anyone seen the Yorkshire Vet? And what about First Dates on Channel 4? I love that show) and have been eating a lot of chocolate (Cadbury World chocolate is still uneaten). It’s been the laziest week I’ve had in a long while and I’ve loved that. It’s nice to do nothing, you know?

I did decide to venture out in polite society Saturday. I got myself dressed and did something I don’t do very often. I went shopping. Not normal food shopping, but shopping shopping. I browsed clothes shops. I tried things on. I complained loudly my feet hurt after a few hours and I stuffed my face with food that probably does not benefit my health. It was fun. I like shopping when I’m in the mood for it and I was. I came home with clothes, books, DVDs and a dozen assorted Krispy Kreme donuts. I deem that a successful trip. Is anyone noticing a trend that I like to buy very unhealthy food as well?

What I’ve Been Reading

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It’s been a slower reading week for me. I finished a book I began last week and have only read a few books more this week. The Invisible Library series is getting good, I can’t wait for the next one. I will most definitely be buying once it’s released. And I always forget how much I enjoy a good historical romance and then I read another Spindle Cove novel and fell in love again. I need to get better at keeping up with my romance series. Maybe buy a book a month for them so I can get all caught up? Way Down Dark was an interesting read. I don’t think I’ve read a book like it but I’m glad I got it from the publisher now, it was amazing! Can we all celebrate the fact I’ve read my first Maggie Steifvater book as well! I own quite a few of her books (a surprising number considering she is an unknown author to me. I obviously give into the hype very easily) but I’m glad I chose to venture into the Wolves of Mercy Falls series first because it’s good.

New To Me

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I was so proud of myself on Thursday when I realised I’d not bought any new books so far this week… then Friday and Saturday happened. I just can’t turn down a good deal. As soon as I noticed Daughter of the Forest available cheap I bought it on Kindle because I’ve been intrigued by the series for a while. I then ventured into one of my favourite shops on Saturday, The Works. The Works is one of those shops that has books and craft stuff and then a bunch of random stuff and somehow draws you in. I get drawn in by need to know what books they have and once I found two I was interested in reading I knew I needed a third. Sadly, I didn’t realise my third choice, Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, was a second book in a series so I’ll have to invest in the first now (this happens more often than you would expect).

How have your weeks been? Does anyone else enjoy those relaxing weeks of doing nothing or are you a person that always needs to be doing something?