Fiction Friday: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Grishaverse, #0.5 & 2.5 & 2.6)

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Like all of Leigh Bardugo’s work, I have heard nothing but great things about “The Language of Thorns”. And like so many other books before this, I refused to give in to the hype and read it. However once I came across the “The Witch of Duva” in an Audible sale, I was hooked. Leigh Bardugo’s tales and fascinating and frightening. They terrify but enthrall. I NEEDED more.
“The Language of Thorns” contains six dark stories that leave you captivated, vaguely unsettled but still wanting more.
Forbidden love, backstabbing and betrayal are family who cannot be trusted are just some of the themes that are explored in this collection.
I especially enjoyed the unique backstory/adaptation provided for Ursula from “The Little Mermaid”.
If you are a fan of fantasy and fairytale, definitely give this a try.
There is no way you can possibly NOT enjoy this.



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7 Books to Read to Get You Out of a Book Slump

There is nothing I detest more than a book slump. It makes most books awful and unappealing. I pick up book after book and nothing is good. Until I find one that is. To help you with your book slump, here are some of the books I recommend to help you get out of a slump.

  1. Harry Potter (or any other book that is an old favourite of yours)- I used to love picking up the Harry Potter books as a cleanser between series when nothing was appealing to me. Unfortunately once I divided my books into read and unread, my Harry Potter books were lost to the wilderness that is my read book collection.
  2. The Creepy Hollow series by Rachel Morgan- I absolutely love Rachel Morgan’s Creepy Hollow series and just like Harry Potter, they are great to get you out of a slump.
  3. The Kiss Thief by L.J Shen- If contemporary is more of your buzz (or you would prefer a contemporary read for your slump), “This Kiss Thief” is a perfect light yet compelling read. I dare you to pick this up and try to stop midway without finishing this book.
  4. Anything by Leigh Bardugo- Leigh Bardugo is amazing and everything she writes is gold. That is all. My all-time favourite series by her is the Six of Crows duology.
  5. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer- I credit this book for getting me out of my current book slump. It is a gorgeous retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” that I devoured in a single sitting.
  6. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas- Another great “Beauty and the Beast” retelling. Readers either love or hate it but it is worth reading if only to get to the major twists in the sequel.
  7. Caraval by Stephanie Garber- Excellent writing, unusually magical world-building and a mysterious hero/villain who no one ever sees but somehow sees and knows everything. Caraval is one of my all-time favorite books and I definitely recommend it if you are in a book slump.

What do you read when you are in a book slump? Are there any books you think I might have missed?

Let me know below.

Fiction Friday: Book Review- A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I had so many mixed feelings when this book was announce. My initial reaction was “Do we really need another Beauty and the Beast retelling? (This should tell you how bad my book slump is. We ALWAYS need retellings especially of Beauty and the Beast) followed by “This book is way too hyped to be any good.”
Boy was my initial thoughts wrong.
I found this book on sale on Amazon (thank you Amazon) AND OH MY GOD, I DEVOURED IT!
From the second I purchased this book, I was glued to my Kindle app. I refused to sleep until I got to the end (something that rarely happens anymore).
“A Curse So Dark and Lonely” follows Prince Rhen who is cursed. Rhen has to get someone to fall in love with him or he turns into a beast at the end of the season and terrorizes everyone around him.
Rhen’s only guard, Grey, helps Rhen by kidnapping girls and bringing them to the castle.
During one of these trips, Harper sees Grey trying to kidnap a girl and decides to step in. Instead she ends up being kidnapped and brought to the castle.
Unlike most of Rhen’s victims, Harper is stubborn and strong. And for Rhen, she may be his only hope of helping his people.
This book was everything I loved from “A Court of Thorns and Roses” and “Cruel Beauty” mixed in one.
I LOVED THIS BOOK SO SO SO MUCH. Just read it! If you are a fan of fantasy or retellings you definitely need to read this.



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Fiction Friday: Book Review- The Moonlight Masquerade by Rachel Morgan (City of Wishes #3)

The Moonlight Masquerade

The Moonlight Masquerade by Rachel Morgan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I started reading “The Moonlight Masquerade” as soon as I got home from work. Cinderella was not one of my favourite fairytales but I loved the idea of the ball.
I was looking forward to seeing how it would be depicted here and Rachel Morgan did not disappoint.
Ella makes the decision that she would lie to the Godmother that she will kill the prince. I get that she wants her freedom but it worries me that she would risk tangling with one of the most dangerous magical beings around.
Anyway, so the Godmother helps Ella go to the ball where she needs to pretend to kill the prince, keep away from her step-mother and step-sisters AND try to avoid the vampires looking for her.
I loved that this is a Cinderella adaptation but it is such a loose one that the City of Wishes series can stand on its own merits.
The plot is fast-paced, the writing is excellent and the worldbuilding always leaves me awed.
Definitely give this a try if you’re looking for something fun and not too long.



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ICYMI Kindle Unlimited is Finally Available in SA

South African bookworms rejoice! Amazon has finally granted us access to their Kindle Unlimited Program.

If you haven’t heard of Kindle Unlimited before, basically it works as a sort of e-book library. You pay a monthly fee of $9.99 and get access to over a million titles as well as thousands of audiobooks.

You borrow the title you want by clicking “Read for Free” and once you are done, simply “return” it.

Kindle Unlimited does offer a free trial so you can try before deciding if it is for you.

I have joined already and so far it has been really fun reading L.J Shen’s books without having to pay for them.

Have you joined Kindle Unlimited? What are some of your Kindle Unlimited recommendations? Let me know below.

Fiction Friday: As Kismet Would Have it by Sandhya Menon

As Kismet Would Have It

As Kismet Would Have It by Sandhya Menon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book was the main reason for me going back to try “When Dimple Met Rishi” again.
Dimple has made her thoughts on marriage clear repeatedly. It’s a sexist institution and as a feminist, she wants no part of it.
Rishi, on the other hand, is far more traditional and would love to marry Dimple (even if they are still fairly young but okay).
Eventually things come to a head when Rishi confronts Dimple about her issues with marriage. In return, Dimple wants to “think things over”
Here’s the thing though. From my very first read of “When Dimple Met Rishi”, I wondered where any sort of relationship with this two would go. Dimple and Rishi are opposites and it is tough for me to imagine them ending up together.
This was a fast read but incredibly enjoyable. I am glad to finally have answers to my questions about Dimple and Rishi’s future.



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Fiction Friday: Book Review- The Vampire Trap (City of Wishes #2) by Rachel Morgan

Cover of The Vampire Trap (City of Wishes #2)

The Vampire Trap by Rachel Morgan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Vampire Trap follows Dex and Ella as they try to lure in the vampires with Elle as bait. Elle is desperate to know how the vampires know her mother while Dex wants more knowledge on the “Allegiant” vampires.
Meanwhile, Elle’s step-mother just becomes more and more awful.
This chapter is far more action-packed than I expected. There are several plot twists and I loved seeing more of this world.
These characters are witty and well-written. It is such a delight watching Elle go out with Dex and his friends. I would love to see more of Dex and his world.
If you’re a fan of fantasy then I definitely recommend you give this a try. This is a unique twist on the Cinderella fairytale which I enjoyed immensely.



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Book Review- The Memory Thief by Rachel Morgan (City of Wishes #1)

The Memory Thief (City of Wishes #1)

The Memory Thief by Rachel Morgan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


“The Memory Thief” is an urban fantasy Cinderella retelling. Set in a world full of fae, vampires and werewolves, “The Memory Thief” follows Elle, a human with the unique power to remove memories.
Elle spends her days as a slave to her step-mother while her nights are spent removing memories in return for Essence.
Essence is a substance that will allow Elle to purchase a wish in order to escape her vile step-mother.
Elle’s plan is on track until she runs into a vampire who takes a sudden interest in her.
When the vampire goes after Elle’s family, she has no choice but to fight back if she wants to keep her plans (and her Essence) a secret.
This was an intriguing read that I devoured in one sitting (and then immediately started on the next part because I just COULD NOT STOP!).
The world-building is amazing. The plot is intriguing and I love that Rachel Morgan has a series that includes vampires (I’ve been waiting for her to write vampires since her Creepy Hollow series ended).
I cannot wait to read the next part of this serial.



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I Don’t Want to Adult Anymore

Excuse me while I hide out in my pillow fort…forever

Last week Saturday, my family and I received news that my dad was turned down for a job.

It was pretty startling since it was made to seem as if the job was 100% certain. The company made travel plans and accommodation arrangements for him. Now they were saying they thought it over and did not actual require a manager.

I dealt with this in a very mature fashion. I went to my bed and stayed there for half an hour.

I felt numb and in shock. Did I read the signs wrong? Why would you talk about travel and accommodation plans if you are NOT hiring? What on Earth had happened?

Finally once I was done moping I decided to reorganise my vanity cupboard and sort out my scarves for winter. I told myself this was fine. Sure, my dad didn’t have a new job but he still had his current job.

I knew the company he worked at was closing but that was in a few months So he just had to look for something within the next two to three months. No biggie.

The Tuesday after this, the company my dad worked at, sent out their official communication that they were closed.

It was like a very cruel prank. This was the one thing I was depending on.

Here’s the thing. I come from a family of three. As in me, my mother and my father.

My mother is medically boarded and I am still in pretty early stages of my career. Basically my father’s the main earner in the house. (Also can I just say how pathetic my story sounds? Boohoo my dad has no job and my mother has Lupus. I could cringe just thinking about it).

If there is one thing my epic magazine failure (yes, going to an interview and deeming the industry as dying is definitely an epic failure in my books) taught me, it is that you should cry. Cry a river if you feel like it would make you feel better. But after that, build a bridge and get over it.

The parents and I sat down. Drew up a budget. Inside, a part of me died. There is one thing we did not address in our family budget. One unspoken but very critical rule.

The shopping would need to stop.

I love shopping. It makes me feel better. I have a stressful job and shopping is my way of fixing it. Could I really give it up? (Spoiler Alert: It is really looking like I can).

So we decided on who would cut out which spending and replace it with paying an account. All was good.

Then my dad’s side job as a driver fell through. At this point I feel like I’m living in my own “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. It is kind of amusing though. Anything that can go wrong is going wrong

So why am I sharing this?

At some point in the distant or not too distant future, I want to look back at this and say “hey remember that time your dad lost his job and you had to change your spending habits? You say you couldn’t but you did!”

Or even “remember that time everything was going wrong and it was so bad it was funny? It will just be nice to look back and say “I made it. Even when I thought I couldn’t.

There has been several times when I was like “nope, I can”t do this. I will not do this” but I got through it fine.

Like my final of year of college when the campus was on fire and I had to skip classes because my Criminology module clashed with English. Then there was that time I was convinced I would never get a job because I was scared to speak on the phone (hello, I now work in a call center).

You never really know what you can and can’t do until you have actually tried to do it.

Fiction Friday: Blog Tour Excerpt- No Other Duke by Valerie Bowman

I am very excited to be sharing an excerpt from Valerie Bowman’s latest “Playful Brides” series.

This series is one of my favourite historicals and I love seeing old characters pop up again and again.

Synopsis:
A lady with a love potion. A Duke who takes it by mistake. Romance and mischief ensues when plans go awry in No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman.
SINGLE LADY SEEKS DUKE
Lady Delilah Montebank has her marital sights set on the Duke of Branville. There’s just one problem: he barely knows she exists. But no matter, she’s got a plan to win him over with her charm, her wit—and perhaps the love potion she has in her possession wouldn’t hurt her cause…
Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks his best friend Delilah’s quest to become a duchess is ridiculous. He’s always said he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life. Besides, he knows that Delilah’s love potion can’t possibly win over Branville…since she accidentally gave it to him instead. But perhaps this is the excuse he needs to show her he’s always loved her…
Delilah can’t believe she gave the potion to the wrong duke. Then again, Delilah could do a lot worse than win the hand of her handsome best friend. Could it be that the right duke has been before her eyes
all along?

Excerpt

Delilah glanced up and down the dim hallway. It was well past three in the morning, she was still dressed in the pink ball gown she’d worn to the party, and she clutched the small vial of Cupid’s Elixir in her sweaty, guilty palm. She pressed her back against the shadowed wall not far from the Duke of Branville’s bedchamber. She could do this. More importantly, she would do this. She’d come this far, hadn’t she? What did a little sneaking about in the middle of the night matter?
She’d got detailed instructions to Branville’s room from Derek, who thankfully hadn’t asked any questions about why she wanted to know. According to him, the room was four doors to the right, just past the staircase on the third floor. The third floor was where all the bachelor gentlemen were sleeping. It would be a complete scandal if she was found lurking about alone at this time of night, but she’d waited until the household seemed quite asleep and then waited a bit longer for
good measure. Anyone who saw her now would be skulking about themselves, which meant they would hardly be in a position to judge her. She briefly wondered if she’d run into Lavinia.
It was not as if she was out to do anything particularly scandalous. It was more silly and frivolous than anything else. She’d simply die, however, if Branville woke up and asked her what she was doing sprinkling pixie water in his eyes. She’d already decided to pretend as if she were dreaming, thinking she was Puck in the play. Sleepwalking. That would make all the sense in the world. Wouldn’t it? She swallowed hard. Probably not, but she wasn’t about to let the fear of being caught stop her. Besides, all of her and Lucy’s matchmaking had turned into a colossal mess. If a spray of perfume could sort it out, so be it. Of course, Delilah’s conscience reminded her that she hadn’t offered any of the perfume to Rebecca to use on Thomas. She didn’t want to even contemplate that. She’d already shared it with one other person, and that made her guilty enough. The image of Madame Rosa’s disapproving, craggy face had haunted her all evening.
Delilah shook off the thought and turned her attention back to the matter at hand. Pressing her empty palm against the darkened wall, she inched her way along until she came to Branville’s door. She felt like a spy. This was how professional spies did such things, wasn’t it? Too bad she
was too embarrassed by her actions to ask the veritable house full of professional spies who happened to be asleep behind other doors right now.
She transferred the vial into her opposite hand and slowly reached to grasp the door handle.
The metal was cold in her bare hand. She’d discarded her gloves, deciding that they would make her actions more clumsy. The last thing she needed tonight was to be more clumsy than usual.
Decidedly, she needed to be less so.
She clutched the door handle like a lifeline and closed her eyes, steadying her shaking fingers on the knob. She was close, so close. Praying that the door wouldn’t squeak, she turned the handle slowly. The only sound was the thumping of her own heart in her ears.
When the handle was turned as far as it would go, she pushed it, praying fervently that it wasn’t locked. It took a moment before she realized the door was opening. Its hinges silent, merci a Dieu. Completely silent.
She slipped inside the cool, dark room. Steady, deep breathing came from the bed. Thank goodness, she hadn’t woken the duke with her entrance. She could barely see a thing, but she didn’t dare light a candle. A tiny stream of moonlight filtered into the room through a small opening in the curtains on the far window. She used that to identify the hulking bed in the center of the room. She tiptoed over to it slowly, taking care in case there was anything to trip over. No doubt she would find it if there was.
She made it to the foot of the bed without incident and paused, trying to quell her nerves and dispel her guilt. She clutched the vial more tightly in her palm, shaking with fear and anxiety. Now that she was here, she had no earthly idea how to drop liquid on a man’s eyes without awakening
him. Besides, how much of it was she supposed to use? Surely not much. She would employ the tiniest drops possible so as not to disturb him, but she also needed to ensure the perfume touched his eyelids. Tricky business, this being a fairy. She had a sudden appreciation for Puck.

Holding her breath, she lifted her skirts with her free hand and tiptoed to the right side of the bed. Because it was summer, the bed curtains weren’t drawn. The window was open, and a slight breeze blew through the crack in the curtains.
The outline of the duke’s body was barely visible in the moonlight. He was turned away on his side, his back to her, his face toward the window. She would have to lean over his body to sprinkle the elixir on his eyes. The bed was tall. She must carefully climb up to do this task properly.
She only hoped she didn’t jostle the mattress enough to wake him.
She waited in silence for a few moments to ensure his breathing remained steady, then she carefully lifted first one knee and then the other, bracing them on the mattress and pulling herself up, still clutching the vial. She winced as he moved slightly in his sleep, but he kept his face turned away. Blast it.
Once she was fully atop the bed, she paused and hoped the hammering of her heart didn’t wake him. He smelled good, a combination of soap and maleness that she wanted to breathe in.
There was something vaguely familiar about his scent.
Shaking away that unhelpful thought, she moved gingerly across the mattress on her knees until she came to a stop at his side. His shirt was off. The beam of moonlight hit his smooth, muscled arm. She swallowed. The man’s chest was positively swoon-worthy. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and uncorked the vial. Then she carefully leaned over as far as she could to locate his eyes. They remained shrouded in the dark, but she took a guess as to their general direction and tipped the little vial as slowly and carefully as she could. He turned then, and she was afforded enough light to see that the first tiny drop of liquid did indeed fall directly onto his eyelid.

He blinked, and she held her breath. When he settled back into sleep, she closed her eyes and said a brief prayer that she would get away with it a second time before tipping the vial once more to allow another tiny drop to fall on his other eyelid.
He blinked and rubbed at his eyes while Delilah held her breath again, paralyzed with fear.
Soon, he settled back into his pillow and his breathing returned to its steady pace.

She pressed a hand to her throat. It was over. She was done. All she had to do was extract herself from the bed and the room without being seen or heard. The difficult part was behind her.
Still praying he wouldn’t stir, she backed away from the duke. Slowly. Slowly. She’d nearly made it to the edge of the bed when he flipped over to face her. A beam of moonlight slid over his sleeping features.
Delilah gasped.


From No Other Duke But You. Copyright © 2019 by Valerie Bowman and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Purchase a copy here



Author Bio:
Valerie Bowman grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzers, Huckleberry and Violet. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.


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