Friday 22 December 2017


Title: 'Tis The Season
Authors: Kate Hardy, Heidi Rice, Amy Andrews, Aimee Carson
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Holidays
Publisher: Entangled Indulgence
Release Date: 9th December 2013

BLURB from Goodreads
‘Tis the Season to Kiss Santa by Kate HardyWith the help of a sprig of mistletoe and some snow angels, a recently single pastry chef teaches a highly successful and sexy Scrooge the true meaning of the holidays on a snowy Christmas Eve that quickly heats up.

‘Tis the Season to Get Lucky by Heidi RiceWhen a Christmas Day blizzard strands an up-and-coming marketing manager and her boss’s very off-limits, very hot playboy son in his department store, the two toe the line between naughty and nice as they unwrap their holiday presents—and each other!

‘Tis the Season to be Kissed by Amy Andrews
A down-on-her-romantic-luck kindergarten teacher plans to drown her New Year’s Eve sorrows in a gallon of spiked eggnog, but the arrival of her best friend’s sexy brother threatens to melt the snow piling up outside the tiny Vermont cabin.

‘Tis the Season to be Tempted by Aimee Carson

After the worst year ever, a jilted music manager rings in the New Year alone, swearing off men forever. But things get complicated when her brother’s best friend, the perfect man with the perfect body, tempts her to break her vow—if only for one hot night!


I thought it was time to read a few Christmas themed books so I could review them before Christmas. As I have been reading more of the contemporary genre I decided to go for this Novella anthology.

Each book has its own cover and there are different male torso's featured for each novella to represent the main male characters in the stories, which also suggest that the individual novella's are romance in genre. The bylines on the bundle cover are "Tis The Season For Romance. . . " and "Baby It's Cold Outside" both fit all the novella's within this bundle.

The genre's I have seen listed for this novella collection are Contemporary, Romance, and Holidays, which I totally agree with. The "holiday" featured in each novella is Christmas. The genre and book are certainly the type of feel good slushy read to sit by the fireside reading on the cold dark winter nights.

All the novella's are set within the holiday season of Christmas, and their main theme running through them is romance. Another theme featured within the novella's is "unlikely matches" in that those who find romance are not necessarily two individuals you would put together and expect to work out as a couple.

‘Tis the Season to Kiss Santa by Kate Hardy

The main female character is Ellie, who is visiting her Aunt Betty who is in hospital having a hip operation. Ellie takes the place of her Aunt at the children's hospice as Santa's Elf.
The main male character is Mitch Carter, he didn't have a great childhood, hence he doesn't have a lot of contact with his family and never goes home for Christmas. Mitch's boss kind of blackmails him into taking his place and being Santa at a local children's hospice siblings party. The party has been given by Mitch's boss and Ellie's Aunt at the Children's hospice for the sibling of the terminally ill children for many years. 
Mitch and Ellie don't get off to the best start when Mitch is almost late. Ellie is wholeheartedly into making the party great for the children. Mitch is initially not feeling in any way festive but his mood is changed by the siblings of the children in the hospice and how kind and thoughtful they are. Mitch ends up giving Ellie a lift back to her Aunt's home, going in for a coffee and ends up stranded there because of the snow. . . 
I did enjoy reading this novella, it certainly had the spirit of giving with CJ (Mitch's boss) and Betty putting on a party for children that would probably be forgotten about otherwise. The novella definitely had the "feel good" factor and was a good seasonal read. This novella is for an 18+ age group because of it's steamy nature and specific, rather explicit language. I would take a closer look at any other novella's/books by this author.

‘Tis the Season to Get Lucky by Heidi Rice

The main female character in this one is Kate Braithwaite who has recently landed a great job in Manhattan, initially she maintained a long distance relationship with her boyfriend. She is looking forward to her Skype call with him later, but when she checks her email she finds out he has dumped her via email! She goes into work deciding she may as well use her time productively. It's whilst she is working that she hears a loud noise. It turns out to be the Bosses son who was in the process of choosing a gift. Kate has heard rumours about the bosses son, that he is arrogant and stuck up too. So when Kate finds he is the cause of the noise and the disarray of the Christmas sales displays she is not impressed. But when they end up having to stay in the department store overnight due weather conditions, Kate gets to see a totally different side to Ryder. They end up having an enjoyable night but is that all it is. . . or could it lead to more.
Oh wow I really loved this novella. The way both Kate and Ryder jump to conclusions about each other, proving first impressions are not always right. Then as they get to know each other better and enjoy living the dream of being locked in a department store and using whatever they need! I really like both characters and it was a shame we didn't get to meet Ryder's daughter. This novella left you wanting to know what happened next too.

‘Tis the Season to be Kissed by Amy Andrews

Tamara is 30 years old and is hiding away from the Christmas and New Year's Eve at a friends cabin. Tamara is ready to settle down with Mr Right but all she seems to be attracting is Mr Wrong who wants a fling or a no ties relationship. It's cold at the cabin and she can't find the matches to light the open fire so she is wearing layer upon layer of clothes and drinking eggnog already at 11am in the morning! 
A rather drunken Tamara is startled when she hears someone at the door of the cabin trying to get in. Tamara quickly looks around and finds a golf club as a weapon and uses it when a male figure enters the cabin. She finds herself in a tussle on the floor of the cabin with her friend Georgia's brother Luke. It turns out the bad weather means the cabin was the nearest place to home he could get transport to. Luke is 25yrs old though feels older with all he has seen on his tours of duty. He is home from Afghanistan to surprise Georgia for her birthday party. Luke soon gets the open fire going and then the drunken Tamara begins stripping her layers off much to Luke's amusement. It soon becomes apparent that they both find each other attractive, but can Tamara trust the younger male is wanting a relationship and to settle down as she is wanting. . . .Can Tamara get over the fact she is seriously crushing on her best friends younger brother....
Again I really enjoyed this novella and left me wanting to read more, like Georgia's reaction at her party when she realises what has happened between her brother and best friend. I will be checking out other novella's/books by this author.

‘Tis the Season to be Tempted by Aimee Carson
In this novella the main female character is Evie Lee Burling and she is on a plane even though she hates flying traveling home with a bunch of "I told you so" comments awaiting her at home. Evie as had an awful year whatever could go wrong quite literally has gone home. 
Also on the same plane is her brother Dan's best friend Wes. Wes didn't have a great family life as a child, in fact he spent much more time round at his friend Dan's house where he was made to feel like part of the family. Most people distanced themselves and were downright rude to Wes when his father was found guilty and imprisoned for embezzling money. Dan and his family never turned their back on Wes which he still appreciates even though he has become a successful business man in his own right now. So when Wes hears Evie voicing her fears and concerns about the possibility of a plane crash he feels duty bound to try to calm her down before she gets herself thrown off the plane. Wes ends up having little choice but to sit next to Evie on the plane and ends up taking care of her when she is drunk after drinking alcohol to calm her nerves about flying. 
One thing leads to another . . . Evie had sworn off men after just being dumped, but Wes is a friend. . . .she can trust Wes can't she, and its fun to wind him up as he is such a "prim & proper" male. They end up being stranded because of a weather storm too, sharing a room, but will what they have be a one night only?, or could Wes be the guy to tame the rebellious Evie?
Another great novella read that leaves you wondering how things worked out for Wes and Evie. I would have liked to read even more about these two characters.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the novella bundle were great set of novella's to get you into that slushy Christmas mood. Certainly discovered a new Author or two to read more of.

So to finish up my thoughts after reading the whole novella bundle was that they make a great read, if you are wanting to get into the Christmas spirit. These novella's are perfect to read with a hot drink snuggled up and warm by the fire and all have a "feel good factor" within them. This bundle is a great way to discover some new contemporary genre authors too. The novella's can be read individually during your "wind down to sleep" time. 

Wednesday 20 December 2017


Title: Christmas Beginnings
Author: Emerald Barnes
Release Date: 5th December 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Christmas is meant for new beginnings, and Megan Whitehead is in desperate need of one. 

Jobless, homeless, and divorced, Megan returns home to her small town in Mississippi and gets a job working for her former high school sweetheart, Ryan McKinley, at his pet store. Falling for him again was never supposed to happen, but as Megan has to face who and what she ran from and the whole sad truth comes out, Megan must face why she ran. And Ryan is offering help each step of the way—along with her faithful Basset Hound companion, George. Will Megan find love and healing in time for Christmas?


Emerald Barnes is one of my favourite authors so when I heard about this book I knew I had to read it. That and I was also trying to read some Christmas themed books too, so this novella fit the brief perfectly.

The cover has a couple on it to represent main characters Megan and Ryan. Megan is actually wearing an outfit described as a Mrs Claus outfit in a scene in the book and of course Ryan is also wearing a Santa hat. The colour red is featured a lot which fits the Christmas theme. It's quite a cosy little scene on the cover which if you are looking for a bit of a Christmas romance read is just right. I think the cover would stand out enough on a shelf to make me want to pick up the book in a bookstore.

The genre I would say this book falls into is Romance. It really is a book to curl up with on a cold night near the fire with a warm drink. I guess I'm trying to say this book would suit quite a large age range and variety of reading tastes.

Once I started this novella I didn't want to put it down. I think most people think about endings and new beginnings around Christmas time and that is exactly the position Megan finds herself in. Megan's marriage didn't work out so she has now divorced her husband and as she worked with him she finds herself without a job or a home to call her own. Naturally like most of us would she returns to her childhood home and her parents. Megan reconnects with her old friend and school sweetheart, Ryan. Ryan generously gives Megan a job at his large pet store. The more time Megan spends around Ryan the more she feels herself falling for him all over again. Then she doubts herself thinking perhaps she is rebounding from the breakdown of her marriage. Megan has a secret she hasn't told anyone that is a heavy burden to carry alone. The whole sorry mess and the reason for her desperate sadness is revealed when her ex-husband turns up to visit her.
Who is the right man for Megan? Could she rekindle the love she and her now ex-husband had prior to the accident that caused all her sadness. Or is Megan now able to put her past behind her once and for all and move on with a new relationship with Ryan?
The only thing that seems to comfort Megan at all is her beloved, loyal basset hound George.

The characters I really liked other than the main two of Megan and Ryan where Megan's grandmother who takes everything and anything in her stride. Megan's grandmother comes across as a very wise, wily lady who would love nothing more than to see her grand-daughter Megan happily married. The other character I loved was George the basset hound, the way he always comforts Megan and yet seems to know when to leave her alone. It's difficult to explain why I loved George but I guess he made me smile and laugh too. 

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this novella were that I loved it and that I'd also love more of these characters and perhaps meeting other characters from the small neighborhood Megan and Ryan live in would be great too.

Monday 18 December 2017


Title: Hark! 
Byline: The Biography of Christmas
Author: Pauk Kerensa
Genre: Non-fiction, Customs & Traditions, Society & Culture
Publisher: Lion Hudson IP Limited, Lion Books
Release Date: 22nd September 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
In this delightful sleigh ride through Christmas history, Paul Kerensa answers the festive questions you never thought to ask… Did Cromwell help shape the mince pie? Was St Nicholas the first to use an automatic door? Which classic Christmas crooners were inspired by a Hollywood heatwave? And did King Herod really have a wife called Doris?

Whether you mull on wine or enjoy the biggest turkey, the biggest tree or the biggest credit card bill, unwrap your story through our twelve dates of Christmas past. From Roman revelry to singing Bing, via Santa, Scrooge and a snoozing saviour, this timeless tale is perfect trivia fodder for the Christmas dinner table.


Approaching this book I was hoping for some funny stories about the different aspects and traditions of Christmas. With a foreward by Chris Evans, and an endorsement from Miranda Hart (Who I find really funny to watch) saying "The Perfect Stocking-Filler" I had high expectations for this book.

The cover has a light sky blue background with a decent amount of snow fall too. The cover has Christmas themed items within the "sky" part of it such as trees, a sleigh, doves, a stag/reindeer etc. Then the prominent part of the cover are like pieces you would put on a MR or Mrs Potato head, so there's reindeer ears, glasses, a Santa hat and red nose. All this adds to the Christmassy feel to the book. The title Hark! is quite dominant and catches the eye well, so I guess it should stand out well on a book shelf. There's what I would describe as an endorsement, or maybe recommendation or quote from Miranda Hart of "The Perfect Stocking-Filler". I admit as I do like Miranda Hart as I find her quite funny so her comment would encourage me to purchase this book.

The genre of this book is described as "humour" on Netgalley, and yes it does have some funny parts within the book and yes certain parts of the book made me smile. 
In my opinion the content within this is more of an informative, factual nature, with the addition of a little wit rather than funniness. The other genre I think applies to this book is nostalgia when finding out where all the small decorations, and traditions began and the original meanings behind them.This meant I didn't think the genre choice was specific or clear enough, meaning for me the book wasn't what I thought it would be.

The book is quite long and has lots of factual information within it from talking about the twelve key dates that have shaped our modern day Christmas. Apparently some early non-Christian Christmas' were merely the gathering of friends and family that coincided with winter and Christmas. This would also be the type of Christmas that existed before Christ, and the more religion connected Christmas. Years before celebrating the birth of Jesus, the "party" was to urge on Spring so not so much praising the "risen son" as "rising sun".
The book also reveals the four traditions around the Yule log and it decrease in popularity when fire places were much smaller and other decorations were increasing in popularity.
The book also discusses the story of St Nicholas which I can remember clearly listening to being told at the Church of England School that I attended. The whole poor man with three daughters that needed dowry money to enable them to be married, and St Nicholas throwing a bag of coins in through an open window that land in a stocking hung up near the fireside. It is covered in a little more detail in the book. Re-reading and recognising this certainly made me smile and gave me that feeling of nostalgia.

I enjoyed both learning about the traditions from different cultures, religions and countries too. Such as the Christmas Tree tradition originally being German tradition. The book also covers Christmases of old when stores closed for a couple of weeks so you had to buy in large amounts of food and drink to tide you over until the shops re-opened. These days most shops only close for Christmas Day, with larger retailers re-opening on Boxing Day for sales. Speaking of sales we have some stores starting sales Christmas Eve! 

I found various parts of the book really interesting such as the section which talks about the Santa equivalent different countries have such as Italy has an old woman called Befana that rides on a broomstick and hands gifts for the good and coal to the not so good. Russia also has a female equivalent of St Nick. She is a white robed elf maiden who has a sleigh. In the Ukraine it is Father Frost and the Snowflake Girl.

The book also discusses Advent Calendars and their origin, as well as famous "Christmas Crooners".  Christmas Carols and songs are mentioned going into quite a lot of detail about them. At the very end of the book there is a timeline from 4000BC to 2015. There is also an added joke prediction entry for the year 2048!

So although I did like most of the book there were sections that seemed to drag on and I felt a little impatient with those. I do agree with the quote Miranda Hart makes on the cover that this book would indeed make a great stocking filler gift, especially if the person you are buying is a bit of a history buff. My initial thoughts immediately as I finished the book was that this is an informative book and Christmas and its origins, customs and traditions from around the world.

PS. Since reading the book and writing this review, I have spoken online to the author and this was never meant to be given a label of "humour" at all. Which knowing that really puts a different perspective on the book because as a non-fiction, customs & traditions and society & culture this book is a great read!

Friday 15 December 2017


Title: A Very British Christmas
Byline: Twelve Days Of Discomfort And Joy 
Author: Rhodri Marsden
Genre: Entertainment, Non Fiction
Publisher: HQ (Story HQ)
Release Date: 2nd November 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Imagine if all your Christmases did actually “come at once”.
That idiom is supposed to evoke an image of delight, happiness and nothing going wrong, but the British Christmas doesn’t always turn out that way. Yes, sometimes all the gifts are perfect, everyone’s on great form and no one chokes on a mince pie. But on other occasions you’ll fall through a glass cabinet or set your cardigan on fire.
A Very British Christmas pays tribute to all the peculiar ways we choose to celebrate; it tells stories of our propensity to behave badly, our uselessness under pressure and our unquenchable joie de vivre. Join us as we salute cultural icons, dissect national customs and hear from people who’ve eaten all the turkey and lived to tell the tale.
Tidings of discomfort, tidings of joy.


I always try to read a few Christmas themed books in November/December in an attempt to get into the "Christmas-sey mood" so I was looking for an appropriate book to read and review when I found this one. As I am British I was interested to see what Christmas rituals and traditions are thought of as British in origin. I also thought it would be interesting to compare some of my families traditions to those featured in the book.

The cover is in a "festive" red colour and the book title is presented in way that makes it kind of represent a Christmas Tree. At the very top of the "A" there is an ornament, perhaps a homemade Fairy or Angel. There's the addition of a Santa's hat on top of the letter "S". Under the title and byline there's a rather disheveled looking family squashed onto a sofa in various states of "Christmas Cheer"! There's also the somewhat regulatory scattering of Christmas wrap we all end up with all over the floor! It's a fantastic visual of the typical British Christmas home at around 3pm or 4pm on Christmas Day! The byline reads "Twelve Days Of Discomfort And Joy" which I think if we are being totally honest about the festive season we all have a few times during Christmas that we have a tad more discomfort than the joy we were hoping for! I think the cover is a fun one which represents the book well and it is a rather "tongue in cheek" look at some families Christmas traditions! There are also quotes about the book from India Knight and Al Murray. Though these types of quotes are my pet hate on book covers, I guess the one from Al Murray made me a little more eager to read the book as I do find some of his comedy quite good. I would just rather have the celeb or author quotes on the back cover or the inside cover, but I totally understand why they are used and placed on the front covers.

The genre's I have seen listed for this book are Non-Fiction and Entertainment, hmm well the book is non-fiction although you could imagine some of the stories being written for comedy sketches! The entertainment label fits well as I did find reading the book entertaining. I would also add humour to the genre listings as in parts the book has you laughing.

My favourite parts of the book were the other peoples stories that they had shared with Rhodri. Rhodri links into the individual stories and quotes really well. I think the first thing I noticed that made me laugh was the contents listing.....and yes I did end up singing it out loud to the correct tune of The Twelve Days Of Christmas of course!
The contents listings included, 12 Twelve gifts unwrapping, 9 Nine journeys trekking, 5 Five broken limbs. In place of "A partridge in a pear tree" is "And a nice fibre optic tree"! The whole contents list really made me laugh out loud. 

Another statement I really identified with was "However hard we might wish it, Christmas doesn't automatically shower good times upon us" I think everyone will recognise this aspect of Christmas. We will all have had the oh so high expectations of how we wanted things to flow and planned for everything only to have it all go wrong on the actually day.

One of the most enjoyable bits of this book together was to talk about Christmas with people of other faiths, such as those people who might observe Hanukkah, Diwali or Mawlid yet they still "do Christmas" too! Perhaps not in reverence to Jesus and his birth but because they like the other aspects that celebrating Christmas brings, such as the family gathering, the food, and the present giving. It's like you don't need to be celebrating the birth of Jesus to enjoy watching the Christmas Top of The Pops Show. Christmas is also about gathering together, becoming more unified and enjoying somethings together.
In this modern age families perhaps no longer all come together on a Sunday for the whole eating together as a family, some people will probably be working or be unable to make it every week. Whereas at Christmas we seem to make that little bit more effort, or maybe we are guilt tripped that little more to give in and agree to the large family get together. 
This book also informs the reader that Christmas cards only started as a tradition in the mid nineteenth century, yet it is one the majority of people eagerly follow in the present day. Then there's newer things like the "Secret Santa" gift at work. Everyone agrees a price limit, say £5 or maybe £10 and all those participating have their names put into a hat and you draw someone and you buy the £5 or £10 gift for that one person rather than your whole workplace. I've taken part in a few of these and they can be quite funny, though it can be difficult if you draw someone you don't know very well to have to think of an appropriate gift for within the price range.

I'm sure I am not alone in dreading all the gift wrapping?! A lady called Julie Gubbay is quoted in the book as saying " A lot of the skill of present wrapping is down to patience". To be honest I have to do more than one session of wrapping as I get so irritated and stuck up with the cellotape if I try to persevere and do them all in one session! Some store offer gift wrapping, usually at an extra charge. Some even offer wrapping free! 

Another thing covered in the book is the "lets not offend anyone attitude". So as not to offend non Christians we should refer to Christmas as Winterval, Christmas Lights should be called Winter Night Lights, Mince Pies known as Winter delicacies and finally Christmas it self should just be called End of December. I guess this could be controversial but I believe in the old traditional names and references so Christmas, Christmas Lights, Christmas Carols, Mince Pies etc etc. If you don't want to celebrate then fine don't but you shouldn't be allowed to dictate about a Christian Christmas simply because you or your religion doesn't recognise it! I mean in these progressive days and multiple different religions we "Christians" can wish others Happy Diwali, or Happy Hannukah can't we? We all have to co-exist in this world. It just irritates me when people try to say someone else is wrong for celebrating Christmas. I think people seem to forget Christmas is a religious festival for Christians. 

I agree that over the years Christmas has become more and more commercialized and we seem to be encouraged to spend spend spend irregardless of whether we have the money, or can afford to do so. I have worked in a couple of retail organisations, one was both a rental and retail store called Choice Video. Initially it was a place where you could rent a video. . . yes video and then later a dvd or games such as playstation or nintendo games for anything from a couple of nights to a week. The people that would come in on the 22nd or 23rd of December and couldn't understand why you couldn't order a specific games console or even a certain dvd for them and have it by the 24th December.
I also experienced similar when I worked for WHSmiths, I could and would work on any department I was needed on. We did late nights to allow those who worked could call by after work, we would advertise that if it wasn't in stock we could order it. There was even a little Christmas brochure to hand out that could be ordered from and still on Christmas Eve you could guarantee being asked by an annoyed, indignant, customer why you didn't have X,Y, Z, in stock? Didn't we know it was Christmas? I would finish work with steam literally coming out of my ears from being shouted at by irate customers. Then there's the last minute shoppers who either want something they fleetingly saw on TV that would come in asking for Customer: That book they advertised on This Morning yesterday......Me: hmmm I was at work so have no idea can you give me more details? Customer: Yes it had a blue cover! Or the very last minute gift/bargain hunters, clueless about what to buy . . Customer: What can I get my father in law? Me: A Book? A CD? A DVD? Customer: I don't know what would you buy him? Me: (Inwardly screaming). Or they'd want the latest bestseller and want to know why you had no stock of it left at 5 minutes to closing time on Christmas Eve. And no it wasn't appropriate for me to point out we had had this best selling book in stock since the last week of November, and they'd had a month to purchase it!!

The thing is I think most people can find something they love about Christmas.....the music they used to listen to with their mum when they were kids, the baking round at grandmothers or putting the Christmas Tree up together as a family. 

I think one of the aims of this book was to make us all a little nostalgic and yep it worked. I went from laughing at Christmas mess ups, gritting my teeth remembering working in retail at Christmas to remembering watching Morecambe & Wise with my grandparents every year. As well as getting misty eyed and sighing at the memories of watching either The Wizard of Oz, The Sound Of Music, Mary Poppins or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with my Grandparents at Boxing Day tea eating salmon sandwiches, pork pie and pickled onions! This book sure made me wish we could wind back time to revisit those happier times again.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were that "This book can make you laugh, tear up and sigh whilst looking back at Christmas past with that nostalgic feeling you sure didn't feel at the time!"

So whether you are looking for something to get you into the Christmas mood, or are already irritated and feel like a little laugh at others disastrous Christmas efforts, or feel like reading about "British Christmas Traditions" then this is the book for you! 

Oh and if you are stuck for a gift for that one person who has everything (you know the one I mean) you could always buy them this book as a gift!

Tuesday 12 December 2017


Title: The Last Wolf
Series: The Legend Of All Wolves
Author: Maria Vale
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Shifters
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: 6th February 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
For three days out of thirty, when the moon is full and her law is iron, the Great North Pack must be wild. Silver Nilsdottir is a lone runt with a crippled leg, facing a life of endless submission in the Pack.

Then Tiberius Leveraux stumbles wounded into their territory with a plea for protection. If Silver is to make a real place for herself, she must fight for Tiberius—her only chance at ever having a mate. And in the end, she is forced to shield all of them—the Pack, the land, and the man she loves—from ancient enemies.


Maria Vale is a journalist who has worked for Publishers Weekly, Glamour magazine, Redbook, the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a logophile and a bibliovore and a worrier about the world. Trained as a medievalist, she tries to shoehorn the language of Beowulf into things that don't really need it. She currently lives in New York with her husband, two sons and a long line of dead plants. No one will let her have a pet.

Visit her at


In which Silver, in an act of mercy, kills her former shielder.

The circle of wolves in the Clearing tightens around Ronan, and for the first time since my Dæling, I am deeply grateful that I am not Pack. I am just a guest and don’t have to be part of this. But when I start to lope away, Ti doesn’t move. He doesn’t understand what is happening, so I nip at his pant leg. The Alphas of each echelon
are taking up their positions at the front of the circle. Everyone wants this over with quickly. Opening a passage for Charlie, John nudges Ronan’s father toward his son. In its mercy, Pack law allows First Blood to Ronan’s family, so that when the Pack eviscerates him, Ronan won’t feel anything. I plant my front paws and pull Ti harder, because I really don’t want to watch Charlie rip out his son’s throat.
Ti doesn’t move. John nudges Charlie again, but Charlie just stares at Ronan, his head cocked, his mouth open. Then his eyes roll around the circle searching for help he won’t find, because to be on Pack land as an exile is bad enough, but the only response to an attack on a pup, is a Slitung, a flesh-tearing, and every wolf shows teeth. Charlie throws himself on the ground in front of John, his feet up in the air, his hips shimmying back and forth in a clownish show of submission. John snaps at him.
Charlie follows our Alpha around, one ear up, the other down, his mouth open in a rabid leer, until with a quick look over his shoulder, John signals Tara to drag the broken wolf away from the Pack. Tara grabs his muzzle tight in her powerful jaws and drags him off mewling. I run beside him whimpering too, begging Charlie to come to his senses long enough to do this last kindness. He seems not to even see me, more interested in the furry thing following behind him. As soon as Tara lets him go, he starts to chase his tail, barking. Tara turns her back on him with a growl and a dismissive kick of rain-sodden soil. She heads back to the Pack, which clears a path for her. As John’s Beta, Tara has a place of honor, but she also has a place of responsibility and is expected to be right up front for the Slitung. I stick to her slipstream and push through to the whimpering Ronan. Rubbing my muzzle against his, I turn to John, my body down, my head between my paws. I’m not sure he will accept my claim to First Blood, but I have a better chance if I at least smell like the wolf who had been my schilder, but who never wanted to be my mate.
Then John’s nose bumps against mine, telling me to get up. With a quick snap of his jaws, the Pack retreats, giving us room. John is a good wolf and a great Alpha and, if given a choice, will always choose mercy. First Blood allows for one bite only, and if Ronan decides to fight me, I doubt I’ll be able to make the kill. But after everything that has happened, the once-upon-a-time Alpha of the 14th Echelon seems to understand that his luck is not going to change again. He lies back with his chin stretched high, staring at the mountains and the pinpoints of stars and the real world, the world of men, that he so wanted to be a part of. Opening my jaws wide, I gently take his throat between them. It’s what we do, and it means trust me. It means I see you at your most vulnerable. I bite down fast and hard on the cartilage tube, giving it the same fatal break I would for a deer. Ronan struggles a little, and blood spurts into my mouth. I curl my tongue against the back of my throat, because I don’t want to swallow this blood. I don’t want to be nourished by this death. The pulse of his blood slows, but I don’t lift my head until it stops. Before I even stumble out of the way, the Pack surges forward, eager to be done with this particular bit of ritual butchery. I race for Clear Pond, my paws sinking through the cold, thick mud and dying edges until I am in deep. Pushing the air out of my lungs, I sink and stay down until my own throat is on the verge of collapse, and the blood that had already started to stiffen on my muzzle and chest and legs begins to melt away from my fur. Maybe there was so much that all of Clear Pond is tainted, but no matter how many gulps of water I take, my mouth still has the sharp, metallic tang of blood, and there’s something stuck in my teeth. I start to change, and as soon as I’m finished, I pick at the thing with my fingers until it comes loose. I don’t look at it before throwing it into the weeds. I think the change was a mistake though, because in skin, I feel the intense cold of the schist on my naked body and the icy water running from my hair down my back and the taste of death in my mouth. I can’t stop shivering. I try to get wild again, but my muscles are spasming so hard that I can’t. I lurch up on all fours and then to my legs and stumble only a few steps before collapsing again, my head on
my knees. A warm coat that smells like angelica and green corn and the earth before a storm settles around my shoulders.
Put it on, says that quiet voice, and Ti lifts me, guiding my arms into the sleeves, and then pulls me close to his even-warmer body. He says nothing, just holds me tight, letting me shiver against him.
I killed him,
I finally stutter.
He lifts my sodden hair out from under the collar of the coat.
Yes, you did. And if you hadn’t, he would have died in pain and the whole Pack would have had the burden of it. Now only you do.
Ti doesn’t say that I wasn’t responsible or that I shouldn’t feel guilty, but rather that it’s a burden worth carrying and one that I’m strong enough to bear. His faith calms me in a way that no amount of coddling ever could.
It’s one of the things I love about him....
I can’t get the taste of blood out of my mouth.
He doesn’t respond. I guess he didn’t hear, or knowing him, he did hear, but doesn’t
think there’s any point in responding. It doesn’t matter. I settle my head back on his chest and listen to his heartbeat.
Did I say love?
He frees one arm and lifts my chin. It’s dark for my poor human senses, but he’s not like me and the nearly full moon lights up the green glow of the lucidum in his eyes.
He hesitates, his lips hovering above mine, like a boy nervously contemplating his first kiss. But I know what he’s hiding, and I stretch up as high as I can and wrap my arm around his neck, feeling the shape of his skull under the roughness of his cropped hair. I feel his mouth against mine, firm and ripe and warm and still closed.
Nuzzling the seam of his mouth, I catch his lower lip gently between my fangs, pulling him closer.
I know you, Tiberius. I know the wildness that you’ve always hidden there, but I am not human and I want the untamed, inhuman sharpness of your mouth.
I let go and lick my lip before gently circling his, my breath feathering his sensitive skin. Finally, his lips open softly and I seal my mouth around his, because this is his first kiss and mine too, and I am his shielder in all things.

2 Advanced of The Last Wolf 

2 posters
2 advance copies of
The Last Wolf
and 2 posters
2 advance copies of
The Last Wolf

and 2 posters

Tuesday 5 December 2017


Title: Year One
Byline: As This World Ends, A New One Begins
Series: Chronicles Of The One
Author: Nora Roberts
Genre: General Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Piatkus, St Martins Press.
Release Date: 5th December 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
With one drop of blood, the old world is gone for ever. And in its place, something extraordinary begins...
They call it The Doom - a deadly pandemic that starts on a cold New Year's Eve in the Scottish countryside. There's something mysterious about the virus and the way it spreads. As billions fall sick and die, some survivors find themselves invested with strange, unexpected abilities.
Lana, a New York chef, has the power to move things and people with her will. Fred can summon light in the darkness. Jonah, a paramedic, sees snatches of the future in those he touches. Katie gives birth to twins, and suspects that she has brought fresh magic into the world, along with new life.
But The Doom affects people differently. Along with the light, a dark and terrifying magic will also rise. As the remaining authorities round up the immune and the 'Uncannies' for testing, Lana, Katie and others flee New York in search of a safe haven. The old world is over, and Year One has begun.


I'd yet to read anything by Nora Roberts, so when I discovered this book had a deadly virus that seemed to be suggesting it would have an apocalyptic feel to it, I thought it was the perfect book to read. I was a little unsure about the Uncannies, what they would be and what part they would take in the book but the promise of the apocalyptic feel tempted me enough to give reading the book a chance. 

There are multiple covers for this book, though the one I love the most is the one featured above this review which is a stark white cover with a large crown that looks like its ready to grab some sort of prey with its claws. There are also feathers shed around in the air/space surrounding the crow on the cover. The cover features a great byline "As this world ends. A new one begins" which fits the book perfectly. The font and colours on the book title, byline and author name all suggest darkness, and give a distressed apocalyptic feel to the cover. The cover is naturally the first thing you see and it certainly attracts the eye and makes you curious enough to know more to pick up the book or click to read the blurb. I think its a great cover and fits in with a few scenes in the book.

The genres I have seen assigned to this book so far have been General fiction, Fantasy, and Romance which I do agree with but personally I would also add, pandemic, post apocalyptic and magical. This book really has a fantstic mixture of genres that really do work well together. The virus is a major part of the book and its effects cause the world to spiral downwards pretty quickly making the world apocalyptic. Then there is the elements of magic with the Uncannies. There are many different kinds of Uncannies featured in the book, from people who can touch someone and see how they will die, to seers, those who have prophetic dreams, witches both good/light and bad/dark ones. 

I loved this book so much I feel a little at a loss as to where to start reviewing what I have read. It really is an amazing read! It all begins with the Macleod family, who are celebrating at the family farm at Dumfries, Scotland, as they do every year. The only difference this year is that a couple of family members are missing are Tony and Katie, and that's because Katie is heavily pregnant so was unable to travel safely and comfortably.  Ross, brother Rob and their cousin Hugh are out doing their traditional hunting and shooting whilst the women stay at the farmhouse cooking and baking all the food and making the preparations for the New Years Eve party. The Macleod men folk have a good shoot bringing home even more food to be prepared and cooked for the party. The party is in full swing when an old lady called Mrs Frazier grabs hold of Ross and says "The shield would be broken, the fabric torn, by the blood of the Tuatha Danann. So now the end and the grief, the strife, and the fear - the beginning and the light. I ne'er thought to live for it" Ross just lays his own hand over the elderly ladies, thinking to indulge her odd behaviour. Though some in the area believe Mrs Frazier to be fey. Others just think doddering and perhaps not all there in her mind. But when she continues speaking to Ross telling him it starts with him, he feels chilled to the bone as if he has been stabbed at the base of his spine. The old lady continues with the prophecy oblivious to the effect it is having on Ross. The party goes on and then ends with everyone finally retiring to bed to get some sleep before having to travel home the following day. When Ross gets up the following day he complains of feeling a little off. The family laugh it off putting it down to eating and drinking a little too much. Unfortunately Ross and his wife Angie along with all those that attended their New Years Eve party have contracted a strange new virus that comes to be referred to as "the Doom".  Ross and Angie become the first two victims of the Doom to die but they have also spread this awful sickness to everyone they have had contact with. So everyone at their New Years Eve party, the rental car clerk they return their hire car to. They've also infected the porter who carried their bags, all the other passengers on the plane they traveled home with. Then those they infected have also spread the sickness to everyone they have had any interaction with and so on and so on.

The book then switches to other groups of characters and how they are coping in the increasingly dire consequences of the Doom. It seems some people are immune to the disease, which you would think would be a good thing, sadly with the world in chaos there are those who looting, stealing and killing just for the hell of it. There are also lots of strange sights being mentioned, such as those who now have wings and can fly, or people who can turn the street lights on and off with a flick of their wrist. These people are being referred to as the "Uncannies". As with everyday people there are good and bad, or as it is referred to in the book those who have the light within them that wish to heal and do good things as well as those who have the dark in them, who are violent and do bad things.  The world has become a darker more dangerous place to try to survive in, let alone have any sort of life in. 

We meet and follow different groups of characters. Like Jonah and Patti-Ann the paramedics that bring Ross Macleod and his wife into the hospital. Dr Rachel Hopman who is trying to find out what this weird rapidly debilitating illness is. Sadly more and more people die, it becomes apparent those in the medical profession have no real idea how to treat this disease all they can do is try to make the patients last hours as comfortable as possible.

Another person we meet is Arlys who at the start of the epidemic is a lower ranking TV news reporter but rapidly rises through the ranks as reporters die or fail to turn up for work. Arlys is determined along with a few workers who manage to continue to get into the studio to bring news updates to all those who have locked themselves in their own homes. Arlys is in regular contact with a computer hacker called Chuck who gives her the real news he has found out rather than the "official new updates" the government are releasing. It becomes more and more apparent that the government are trying to hide the scale of this disaster. Soon the situation becomes impossible and Arlys has to choose whether to deliver the real truth in her news report. Later in the book Arlys and TV station intern Fred flee before they can be arrested for telling the nation the truth. They have to make a dangerous journey across the city, seeing some gory sights, lots of violence as well as a few acts of bravery and kindness.

Probably the most important characters in the book and for the future of the world are witches Lana and Max. They have been living together just 6 months and practicing their witchcraft. When the Doom begins it seems that the witches power grows and they certainly end up needing that extra power on more than one occasion in the book. I won't explain anymore about their major roles in the book as it would reveal too much.

It seems the way to survive is to band together in little groups. People are trying to cross cities to family or friends they haven't been able to contact since the outbreak began. Some are reunited, others find their families perished either due to contracting the disease or being killed by others that wanted something they had. At times it seems like certain characters have found a place of safety and are well on their way to rebuilding society and the world but then someone who either wants what they have or are just set on violence and destruction, come along and take it away. Then the virus continues to kill people as well as giving power to some who cannot cope with it. 

I guess this makes the book seem all "doom & gloom" but it really isn't. There are those who are willing to help those in need, such as Dr Rachel Hopman and paramedic Jonah who continue to turn up at work at the hospital helping those with the virus die as peacefully as possible and treat others that at survivors of violence or have more normal needs, such as mothers giving birth. When Jonah feels he can take no more of the illness and devastation around him and is going off alone, he is stopped by Katie when she is in labour. I loved the feeling of irony that it is Dr Rachel Hopman that helped Katie's parents Ross and Angie die as comfortably as possible, and was then the Dr who delivers Katie's twins. 

This book really is like a rollercoaster ride, as just when a successful settlement seems to be working, there are those who seek to spoil things for everyone by taking more than their fair share. You would think after all that has happened both with humans and the Uncannies they could live side by side, grateful to work together for a better future, but still there are people who refuse to work together and will not accept Uncannies can be good and be part of a community.

There are lots of characters I love in this book, one of my favourites who features heavily in the book is Lana who uses her increasing powers for good and to help people. When she has to scavenge for food or clothes she only takes just enough for what she needs and even offers to barter in exchange for food. I am looking forward to reading more about her in the rest of the series too. Another character who comes into the book nearer to the end of the book is Simon, who is living on his parents farm, growing food and is willing to share what he has with anyone in need that passes by. Simon used to be in the army so knows how to handle a gun which comes in very useful when people seek to take things he has worked hard for. 

At first I thought I wouldn't like the Uncannies element in the book but it does end up really fitting in well with the whole virus, pandemic and the apocalyptic components in the book. I loved the majority of the people that created and lived in the settlement they called New Hope, sadly there are those that bring disaster to Hope. Though I'd like to know who actually did survive and what happened afterwards. Maybe some of the characters will be re-introduced in the next book. There is a bit of a jump at one point where the different individual groups suddenly are together. I would have loved a little more detail on Max, Lana & Eddie's journey and those they meet that tag along with them. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series and learning much more about the baby that is born at the very end of the book as well as the babies that were living in New Hope too.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were Brilliant! Loved it from beginning to end. What a great mash/mixture of genres resulting in a really fantastic book.