This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books they’ve read and share what they have got up to during the last week.
It’s been a while since I’ve visited – the days trickle by and I’m a bit shaken that we’re already more than halfway through February. The weather has been a lot milder since the beginning of the month, which I’m pleased about. Though we’re about to grit our teeth as our fixed rate fuel tariff finishes at the end of the month – and we will be confronted with a bill that will be nearly triple what we’re paying now. It wouldn’t be so bad if that was the only thing going up in price – but food just goes on steadily getting more expensive, as well as clothing… shoes… electronic goods… you name it!!
Half term is just coming to an end. Though Ethan has been very busy visiting universities and friends, so hasn’t been here all that much. The brilliant news is that he has had an unconditional offer from one of his top two university choices – and it will be the first time that anyone from his college course has been offered a place there. We’re so very proud of him and what he’s managed to achieve. He still has at least two more visits lined up – but now the pressure is off, so hopefully he can relax a bit and enjoy the process. Up to now, it’s been a rather nerve-wracking business!
Oscar has still been struggling with migraine headaches, so we ended up seeing his Dr. She’s prescribing some medication that is intended to actually prevent them from happening. I am so impressed with the care we’ve received from the NHS despite the pressure they’re under – and very much hope that these new tablets will prove more successful. Poor Oscar has suffered far too much since Christmas.
So far, February’s been a trudge. Himself had a shocking cold during his rest days this week, so the trip we’d planned to the Wetland and Wildfowl Trust had to be postponed. Fortunately, he’s recovered well, but we could do with a day out enjoying ourselves and relaxing. What with one thing and another – we haven’t done that since Christmas.
Thank goodness for reading – and writing. I’m now working on the third book in my Picky Eaters series – Problems with Power, charting the adventures of grumpy old Castellan the Black, a grandfather dragon who unexpectedly finds himself in the middle of family life after his grandchildren get him evicted from his lair. It has been a rather stop/start affair, given my health issues, but I am beginning to get some momentum going which makes writing so much more fun.
Last week I read:-
Delicious Death – Book 2 of the Madame Chalamet Ghost Mysteries by Byrd Nash
Thwarting an assassination wasn’t on the menu. Elinor’s holiday is ruined when a poisoner targets a royal guest. What’s even more irritating? The duke thinks he can solve the case before she can.
In the southern town of Vouvant, Elinor’s goal was to eat rich food at the Winter Revels, but an attempt on the king’s life implicates her favorite chef. Between saving a young society lady and solving the problem of a widower who grieves too much, she has her hands full.
Trained as a medium by the elite Morpheus Society, Elinor Chalamet uses her skills to aid the police while she hunts for her father’s killer.
The second of a six part gaslamp fantasy ghost mystery series featuring a strong female character in a slow burn romance.
I thoroughly enjoy Nash’s writing – so finding this entertaining series was a huge treat. The protagonist is experienced and sure of herself, which is a nice change from all those youngsters rather desperately flailing around, trying to work out who they are while grappling with hidden magical talents. There is a nice sprinkling of humour and the slow-burn romance is well handled. All in all, a solid treat. 9/10
Darkwood – Book 1 of the Darkwood series by Gabby Hutchinson Crouch
Magic is forbidden in Myrsina, along with various other abominations, such as girls doing maths.
This is bad news for Gretel Mudd, who doesn’t perform magic, but does know a lot of maths. When the sinister masked Huntsmen accuse Gretel of witchcraft, she is forced to flee into the neighbouring Darkwood, where witches and monsters dwell.
There, she happens upon Buttercup, a witch who can’t help turning things into gingerbread, Jack Trott, who can make plants grow at will, the White Knight with her band of dwarves and a talking spider called Trevor. These aren’t the terrifying villains she’s been warned about all her life. They’re actually quite nice. Well… most of them.
With the Huntsmen on the warpath, Gretel must act fast to save both the Darkwood and her home village, while unravelling the rhetoric and lies that have demonised magical beings for far too long.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Gretel and her brother, Hansel, are enjoyable protagonists, as are Buttercup and the White Knight – although my favourite has to be Trevor the talking spider. The humour is unforced and funny – and rides alongside the real danger hanging over the villagers of Nearby village so that I burned through this one, really caring about the characters. It is a joy. I’m always a bit wary of humorous fantasy, as Terry Pratchett has cast a very long shadow over the genre and I’ve read far too many paler imitations. The real disgust at political hypocrisy and lust for power that also runs through Pratchett’s work rang through this one without spoiling the story. I’m really looking forward to reading the next two in the series and finding out what happens next to Darkwood and its inhabitants. 9/10
Before I Sleep – Book 24 of the Bill Slider series by Cynthia Harrod Eagles
The clock is ticking for DCI Slider when a woman goes missing. Can he find her – and does she even want to be found?
Felicity Holland is missing. She left her handsome West London house to go to her weekly pottery class and didn’t come back. She’s a mature, sensible woman with a stable home life and a happy marriage – no reason to abscond. Her distraught husband is convinced she must have been snatched.
DCI Bill Slider and his team know that when a woman goes missing, you have to move fast if there’s to be a hope of finding her alive. But with no evidence of foul play – nothing to go on at all – where do you even start looking?
The clock is ticking. But as Slider tries to retrace the last known movements of Felicity Holland, he is led ever further down a dark and twisted path into the secret past of this beautiful, enigmatic woman.
This is a cracking police procedural that starts with almost a non-event. A well-known writer insists his wife has disappeared and DCI Bill Slider is put on the case before she’s even officially missing. But as he and his team get stuck in, a picture builds up of a lovely, vibrant person who I really cared about. I’ll remember this one for a long time… Review to follow. 1010
AUDIOBOOK – Zahara’s Gift – Book 1 of the Bond of a Dragon series by A.J. Walker
Nineteen-year-old Anders lived a fairly normal life until the only family he had was taken away from him. When he finds himself forced to embark on an action packed adventure, he discovers there is more to the world than he was told. The magical force that flows within everything around him becomes revealed. Dragons, elves, orcs, and goblins lurk around nearly every turn along the path as he pursues his two kidnapped cousins.
As Anders discovers more about his family’s past, he learns of their involvement in The War of The Magicians and the circumstances leading up to the attack of his hometown. When Anders is told about his potential involvement in a prophecy involving dragons and their powerful magic, he will need to make a difficult decision. Will he continue to follow the path that is laid out for him or can he make his own destiny? Will he ever be reunited with his family again? And if he succeeds, will he ever be able to return to the life he once knew?
The plotting and character progression worked well. But I found the dialogue rather clunky and unrealistic – and when listening to an audiobook, that can be trying. It was never bad enough that I was tempted to DNF, but I’m not in a hurry to tuck into the second book. 7/10
My posts last week:
Review of NETGALLEY NOVELLA Delicious Death – Book 2 of the Madame Chalamet Ghost Mysteries by Byrd Nash
Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring One Extra Corpse – Book 2 of the Silver Screen Historical Mystery series by Barbara Hambly
*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* The Luminaires – Book 1 of The Luminaries series by Susan Dennard
Hope you, too, had some brilliant books to tuck into and wishing you all a happy, healthy week😊.
You aren’t alone, the prices here on everything are out of control. From food to heating. I must say, your recent reads and listens sound spectacular.
Urg! It’s thoroughly depressing. Thank goodness for books – and yes… I’ve hit a marvellous run recently, Kimberly. I hope you have a good week:).
Congratulations to Ethan. My oldest son has started back at Uni today for his second year. He spent last week brushing up on his maths. Interesting reviews. I like the sound of Before I Sleep.
Thank you, Roberta:). Best of luck for your son on a successful 2nd year – I hope it goes smoothly for him. And yes – Before I Sleep is a cracking read by an author who knows her craft and her characters inside out.
It sounds great. Thanks. Greg has been back two days and is as happy as a sandboy.
Glad to hear it!
The soaring prices seem to be a common denominator across the world: just stocking up on groceries has become a tour into hell! And let’s not think about other commodities…. But at least you have some great news to counterbalance the “price gloom”, and that’s something to be both happy and proud of 🙂
Oh I know. I was braced for an increase in our energy bills – it was the extent of it that shocked me:((. I wouldn’t mind quite as much if the price of oil and gas hadn’t dropped right back down, again. But yes – there is light in amongst the gloom:))).
Nice to see you in my feed. Sorry to hear about the heating costs. Ugh. Inflation is absolutely EVERYWHERE. And congrats to Ethan! What an accomplishment!
Thank you, SJ for your kind good wishes for Ethan – we are so proud:)). Yes… I think everyone is struggling right now. At least we are through the worst of the winter – daffodils are starting to bloom and that’s always an encouraging sign!!
I’m glad to hear you’re writing again! Congrats to Ethan, and good luck with Oscar’s migraines. I was a migraine sufferer for years until I went through menopause, so I know how excruciating they can be😬
Thank you, Tammy! I am keeping my fingers crossed that we finally can see these headaches off. And we’re so pleased to see Ethan’s work ethic get him where he wants to be:). As for me – yay for being able to write semi-regularly again! Have a great week and thanks for swinging by:).
Great news about Ethan. I hope all of you will feel better sooner and more consistently. Exciting that you are writing again.
Oooh! I missed “Picky Eaters 2” – looking to see if it’s available…
Sorry, that wasn’t a very coherent post 🙂 I saw the reference to “Picky Eaters 3” and got excited. Is there a second volume out? I’m glad that your health is allowing you to write. I hope the migraine medicine helps. They are so miserable! All the best to you and yours!
Ah – bless you! I’m enormously cheered at your excitement over Picky Eaters:)). No – I’ve finished the first two full-length novels and am working on the third one, which I wanted to have completed before I started publishing them. My self publishing career is currently lying fallow since I got Covid – and I want to have a couple of books in hand, given that my health still isn’t back to its shiny best:).
That sounds like a great plan. I’ll look forward to them! The first was a great read 🙂 Here’s hoping the health continues to improve! I’m sorry that it’s been such a long road for you.
Thank you, Anne:)). I’ve so enjoyed writing them – but it’s the next step that needs a lot of extra work in fields that I find demanding, so I need to be really well before firing everything up, again.
All of the ‘putting together’ takes a lot of energy. Here’s hoping with warmer weather comes better health!
Ah – thank you, Anne:)).
Congratulations to Ethan on his University acceptance. I totally understand how that takes the pressure off. I hope the new med helps with Oscar’s migraines, pain is not good, especially in one so young. Is Picky Eaters 2 out? Have a great week, Sarah.
Thank you for your kind good wishes, Carla. And yes – I am hoping the new meds will ease down Oscar’s headaches very soon. And also – thank you for the interest in the Picky Eaters’ story! No… I haven’t yet released any of the novels. I’ve completed Flame & Blame and Trouble With Dwarves – but I wanted to get Problems with Power finished before I started releasing them. All this was my marketing plan before I went down with Covid – which seems a lifetime ago! I managed to resume writing last summer, though I was able to complete an editing run before then. Given that I’m still coping with relapses and a very busy domestic life – I think having the 3 books finished and ready to go is a solid plan, before I begin publishing, again:)). Ethan will be designing the covers for my books over the summer – so I want to have them all finished and formatted, so he can complete the paperback cover before he disappears off to uni:). I hope that you, too, have a lovely week, Carla.
That sounds like a great plan, Sarah. I wish you all the best getting them out next fall and will watch for them. How cool that Ethan will design the covers.
Thank you, Carla. It all depends on my health and general energy levels! And yes… Ethan will be working on the cover designs for my books over the summer break – we’re both excited about the project:)).
Congratulations to Ethan! How exciting! I hope Oscar gets some relief from migraines. I’ve had them for years and they can be such a struggle. I don’t know if it is possible with NHS but if the preventative isn’t as effective as he would like you might try a chiropractor. I had some issues with my neck that really aggravated my migraines and once that got dealt with they became much easier to control – though of course I’m much older and have a lot more wear and tear than Oscar! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week.
Thank you, Katherine. And thank you for suggestion – he’s really shooting up at present and plays quite a lot of playground football with plenty of rough and tumble. I’m aware at this age ligaments tend to soften to allow bones and muscles to grow – so there might be a problem. It’s certainly worth checking out… I really appreciate the suggestion:)).