Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Musing Mondays - #WhyIReadRomance days 7-9 | #30DaysofReadathon days 29-27 | thoughts on book clubs

Musing Monday, September 11, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I'm super excited to tell you about Parajunkee's #whyIreadromance event & the 24 hours of Dewey #readathon #30daysofreadathon event

I decided to nix daily posts in favour of grouping a couple of days together at a time so this is going to be a slightly longer Musing Monday post than normal.

Day 7 - Best Happily Ever After

The Darkest Seduction (Lords of the Underworld #9) by Gena Showalter

At long last, New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter unveils the story of Paris, the darkest and most tormented Lord of the Underworld.

Possessed by the demon of Promiscuity, immortal warrior Paris is irresistibly seductive — but his potent allure comes at a terrible price. Every night he must bed someone new, or weaken and die. And the woman he craves above all others is the one woman he'd thought was forever beyond his reach... until now.

Newly possessed by the demon of Wrath, Sienna Blackstone is racked by a ruthless need to punish those around her. Yet in Paris's arms, the vulnerable beauty finds soul-searing passion and incredible peace. Until a blood feud between ancient enemies heats up.

Will the battle against gods, angels and creatures of the night bind them eternally — or tear them apart?
After eight, EIGHT, books of build up Gena Showalter FINALLY resolved Paris's storyline in 2012, 4 years after introducing him in The Darkest Night in 2008. The reason that Paris's story out of all of the Lords (and out of all the happy endings I've read) is, in my opinion, the best happily ever after is partly because of how long he had to suffer. Paris is the Keeper of Promiscuity so he starts off as a sex fiend ladies man, but then he meets Sienna and everything changes for him. She's taken from him too soon and he devolves into a books long depression that has all of his friends concerned for his immortal existence. He becomes addicted to drugs and danger and everything sets his anger off. So the fact that he manages to actually get a happily ever after with Sienna in this book is soooooooo incredibly satisfying.

Day 8 - Most Kickbutt Females

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
Claire doesn't necessarily do a whole lot of physical ass-kicking, there is a little bit of that, but that's not what makes her the most kick-butt female. She's tough, resilient, adaptable, resourceful and clever. She doesn't lose her head in emergency situations. Claire actually saves Jamie almost, if not just as often, as she saves him. Jamie does acknowledge her as an equal mainly because of her cleverness and resourcefulness. She kicks butt because she manages to not only survive travelling back in time 200 years but because she begins to thrive in her new time.

Day 9 - Best Thrills...

Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong
When Olivia's life exploded--after she found out she was not the adopted child of a privileged Chicago family but of a notorious pair of convicted serial killers--she found a refuge in the secluded but oddly welcoming town of Cainsville, Illinois. Working with Gabriel Walsh, a fiendishly successful criminal lawyer with links to the town, she discovered the truth about her parents' crimes in an investigation that also revealed the darker forces at work in the place that had offered her a haven. As if that wasn't enough, she also found out that she, Gabriel and her biker boyfriend Ricky were not caught in an ordinary sort of love triangle, but were hereditary actors in an ancient drama in which the elders of Cainsville and the mysterious Huntsmen who opposed them had a huge stake.
     Now someone is killing street kids in the city, and the police have tied Ricky to the crimes. Setting out with Gabriel's help to clear Ricky's name, Olivia once again finds her own life at risk. Soon the three are tangled in a web of betrayals that threatens their uneasy equilibrium and is pushing them toward a hard choice: either they fulfill their destinies by trusting each other and staying true to their real bonds, or they succumb to the extraordinary forces trying to win an eternal war by tearing them apart.

This entire series is full of thrills, but as we get further into the series the stakes get higher and the stories get even more thrilling. Betrayals is the most recent entry having been released in August of last year. It definitely delivered on the thrills front. With her boyfriend wanted for murder and her bost/best-friend/potential-3rd-side-of-a-love-triangle is a little bit tempted to let him take the fall so he can have Olivia all to himself again Olivia's life is clearly complicated and she's caught right in the middle of everything. The mysteries that swirl around this whole series deepen and simultaneously get more revealed in this book. It's very exciting.

I'm dropping a cut because this post is getting super long...

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Strictly Come Dancing 2017 Week One

It’s Week One! It’s Week One!

Yes Strictly is back on our screens finally and the dancing can begin.  Two weeks ago saw the launch show where the celebrities were assigned their pro partners for the series.  There were some blatantly obvious ones such as Aston Merrygold being partnered with Janette Manrara, she’s the only dancer small enough to match him, he’s not the tallest of guys.  Also obvious was the pairing of Ruth Langsford with Anton Du Beke.  Poor Anton, he always gets the (how shall we put this diplomatically) older lady/outsider.  Past examples are Judy Murray, Anne Widdecombe and Jerry Hall who come immediately to mind so we had all but predicted Anton to get Ruth.  Following the pairing up show, a couple of partnerships interested me right off the bat.  AJ, who was one of my all time favourites last year with Claudia, has been paired up with Molly King of The Saturdays so I am predicting great things for them.  Also, I have taken to Charlotte Hawkins as well and she has the lovely Brendan Cole so I will be watching them with interest also.

So off the celebs went to be put through their paces ahead of their first dances, safe in the knowledge that they cannot be eliminated in their first dance and will at least get to perform twice.  Two weeks training flew by and here we are with baited breath for the opening numbers and fifteen performances to look forward to.

If I listed all of the performances this would be an exceptionally long and boring post, so I will just pull out some of the highlights (and lowlights) from Week One.  I was impressed with Alexandra Burke’s dancing of the waltz however, she is going to get right on my nerves as a person. It’s a shame because I love her partner Gorka.  Brian Conley, Simon Rimmer and Ruth were poor as was the Reverand Richard Cole.  Unfortunately, I have a horrible feeling the Reverand is going to be the new Ed Balls and people will vote to keep him in, the trouble is I’ve seen performing seals at the zoo with more rhythm and grace than him so I hope he goes early on.

Despite being top of the leaderboard from the judges, Aston just didn’t do it for me.  He was good but he seems overconfident and cocky, winking at the camera and just comes across as though he thinks he has this in the bag.  I hope he doesn’t. Nothing against his dancing, I just prefer other couples.

Having high hopes for Molly an AJ from the start, I was left disappointed as their Jive was not as impressive as I had hoped for but it is a difficult dance and it is week 1 so there is room for improvement.   I think the problem with the jive is that Ore Oduba has set the bar so high after his amazing week 4 performance last year ( I seriously think that’s the dance that won the series for him).  Having said that there was one other Jive performed this week and it was FABULOUS!  Mr Joe McFadden, you are my new favourite and I am backing you all the way to the finals!  Such cheekiness and for a week one jive, my hat is off to you!  Thank goodness Katya has a chance this year.  You could tell she was a great choreographer with the routines she had to come up with dancing with Ed Balls so now she has someone with a bit more going for him, it’s her chance to shine.

Speaking of shining, a real dark horse was Debbie McGee.  Now I mentioned Anton getting the older ladies.  Ruth is not the oldest performer at age 57, Debbie McGee is at the age of 58 (okay I know, not much in it but still).  There may only be a year between their ages but their talent is light years apart. Whereas Ruth struggled to make it through her waltz, Debbie McGee sizzled her way through an explosive and stunning Paso Doble.  Her partnership with Giovanni was electric and she was dancing better than someone half her age.  It just goes to show age can be just a number.  She can go far in this competition.

So the leaderboard looked like this after everyone had taken to the dancefloor for the first time.

Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara 31
Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice 30
Joe McFadden & Katya Jones 29
Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova 27
Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez 24
Molly King & AJ Pritchard           23
Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole 22
Chizzy Akudolu & Pasha Kovalev 21
Gemma Atkinson & Aljaz Skorjanec 20
Johnny  Peacock & Oti Mabuse 20
Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton    20
Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton 17
Rev Richard Coles & Dianne Buswell   17
Brian Conley & Amy Dowden                16
Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke         16

So these scores will all roll over to next week when we will see our first elimination.  A rule of Strictly is if you performed a ballroom dance in week one then in week two you must perform a Latin number and vice versa.

Last years Strictly was my favourite so far, I’m hoping this year will live up to my high standards.

Keep Dancing!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

#30DaysofReadathon - 30 days to go until the Dewey 24 hour #readathon

I swear to god I am not a masochist! I know you're probably thinking I am crazy signing up for another challenge in 2017 given that I still have 5/6 to complete by December 31...but that's the beauty of this challenge! Dewey's 24-hour read-a-thon is a 24-hour event to read as much as humanly possible in that 1 day time period. This is actually perfect for helping me to plough through some of my challenge items!! Apparently, this particular read-a-thon (which happens on Saturday, October 21) marks the 10th anniversary of the annual read-a-thon. To mark the celebration the read-a-thon people are running a lead-in event, which I have elected to participate in. It's a countdown using different categories to showcase books participants like as you can see from the list of topics in the above below.

30. Favourite book

It is the summer holidays, and one night Harry Potter wakes up with his scar burning. He has had a strange dream, one that he can't help worrying about...until a timely invitation from Ron Weasley arrives: to nothing less than the Quidditch World Cup!

Soon Harry is reunited with Ron and Hermione and gasping at the thrills of an international Quidditch match. But then something horrible happens which casts a shadow over everybody, and Harry in particular...

I have a lot of "favourite" books, but even among all those favourites the entire Harry Potter series stands out as my absolute favourite. And if I have to highlight only one book from the series and say "That, that one right there is my favourite." then it's going to be Goblet of Fire. It used to be Prisoner of Azkaban but that changed with the most recent re-read of GoF earlier this year. In my most recent read, I realised the GoF is my favourite because so much more happens in it. It's the first of the long Harry books and it sets the stage for everything that is to come in OoTP, HBP, and DH. It does a really good job of setting that stage. All the shit starts to hit the fan and you really start to see a lot of growth and development in most of the characters in this one.

Friday, 22 September 2017

#WhyIReadRomance Day 6 - most emotional destruction

a Parajunkee event

The romance that most destroyed my emotions

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once."

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

I don't think John Green new that he was writing a capital R Romance novel when he wrote this. Obviously, he knew he was writing a romance novel, the romance between the characters being at the centre of the story and the plot, but I don't think he intended or understood that it would fall into the Romance genre. At least 7900 other people (myself included) on Goodreads consider this a Romance novel and have shelved it as such. But I think if you asked John, he would probably waffle about it before agreeing that yeah we're right it's a Romance novel, not just a novel that happens to have romance in it. I've spoken at least twice before about how much this book destroyed me, so I'm not going to repeat myself. The total emotional destruction this book causes the reader is without question which is to be 100% expected given the subject matter. Even though you know what to expect going into it, that doesn't stop it from completely gutting you when the end happens.

#WhyIReadRomance Day 5 - most feels

a Parajunkee event

The romance with the most feels

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Oh god did this book ever give me the feels. Up and down, up and down! This book was stressful on my feels in a REALLY good way. I could really empathise with Monty throughout the entire story. I think that's why anytime he put his foot in his mouth or dug his hole a little deeper, especially with Percy, that I would get sent on an emotional roller coaster ride and have to put the book down for a few minutes. And Monty spends a LOT of time in this book either putting his foot in his mouth or digging himself a hole.So this is definitely a book of many feels, happy, sad, concerned, thrilled, annoyed, angry and anxious. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

#WhyIReadRomance Day 4 - most empowering/empowerment

a Parajunkee event

The romance with the most empowerment/that is the most empowering

Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

It's not always easy being a female warrior with a nickname like Annwyl the Bloody. Men tend to either cower in fear - a lot - or else salute. It's true that Annwyl has a knack for decapitating legions of her ruthless brother's soldiers without pausing for breath. But just once it would be nice to be able to really talk to a man, the way, she can talk to Fearghus the Destroyer.

Too bad that Fearghus is a dragon, of the large, scaly and deadly type. With him, Annwyl feels safe - a far cry from the feelings aroused by the hard-bodied, arrogant knight Fearghus has arranged to help train her for battle. With her days spent fighting a man who fill her with fierce, heady desire, and her nights spent in the company of a magical creature who could smite a village just by exhaling, Annwyl is sure life couldn't get any stranger. She's wrong...

G.A. Aiken is really, really good at empowering her female characters in the Dragon Kin series. A lot of them are badasses to start with but not always, and the ones that aren't physical badasses she does a great job of empowering them in other ways. Dagmar who is introduced in the third book of the series, for example, is the smartest of all of the characters and the absolute best at strategy but she starts off living in a place where none of that matters just because she is a woman, so her empowerment comes through being able to get out of that environment and going somewhere where they encourage her. Dragon Actually is the first book in the series and I would argue that it is the best of all of them at empowering its main character. Annwyl starts off as being a good warrior but she also has a really dark backstory of abuse at the hands of her brother and father. Her empowerment comes through Fearghus's mentoring and training. He helps her to be able to deal with that past and channel it so that she can take on her brother and father and free herself from them. 

#WhyIReadRomance Day 3 - best fairy-tale romp

a Parajunkee event

The romance with  the best Fairy Tale Romp

Jingle Spells: Naughty or Nice?\She's a Mean One\His First Noelle\Silver Belle by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Rhonda Nelson, Kira Sinclair & Andrea Laurence

To protect Christmas, this family of wizards will have to use a whole different kind of magic…
Part of the Winter clan, the Evergreen family is considered magical nobility. While Evergreen Industries in picturesque Gingerbread, Colorado, might look like an ordinary office building, this is where the magic of Christmas unfolds. Above Santa's workshop, the Evergreens hold court, manage Christmas and, sometimes against their will and better judgment, fall in love. When it comes to love, the Evergreens know that sometimes you have to play a little naughty to get exactly what (or who) you want from Santa. Celebrate the holidays with Evergreen siblings Cole, Ethan, Dash and Belle in this enchanting collection from New York Times bestselling authors Vicki Lewis Thompson and Rhonda Nelson, Kira Sinclair and Andrea Laurence.

This is actually an anthology of four novellas. The four novellas actually go together. They are all about different members of the Evergreen family, who as you can see from the summary above, are responsible for Christmas. That's what makes it a fairy-tale romp for me. It's not about a princess or a retelling of a classic fairy-tale with added romance elements. But how can a collection of stories that feature Santa Clause himself, not to mention elves, and the magic of Christmas not be considered a fairy-tale? It's such a campy collection of stories and I loved it. I really don't know what else I can say about it beyond that. It's a Harlequin Nocturne so it's got tropes that you'd expect it to have. It's just a nicely written and entertaining romp with fairy-tale elements and that's all I was asking of it so expectations met!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Musing Mondays - #WhyIReadRomance days 1 & 2 and reading ambiance

Musing Monday, September 11, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I'm super excited to tell you about Parajunkee's #whyIreadromance challenge/event…

So the event actually started yesterday, but I am an idiot and thought the first post was supposed to go live today, so OOPS I'll just do days 1 and 2 together and cram them into one post. The event is in honour of Women's Friendship Day which was September 17, and there are 13 days worth of categories.

Which romance novel gave you the most/best

  1. romantic adventure
  2. swoon scenes
  3. fairy-tale romps
  4. empowerment
  5. ...feels
  6. emotional destruction
  7. happily ever after
  8. kick butt females
  9. ...thrills
  10. ...chills
  11. escape
  12. emotional roller coaster
  13. book boyfriend(s)

Day 1 - Best Romantic Adventure

The Loving Daylights by Lynsay Sands

New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands delivers a "madcap escapade" (Publishers Weekly) in this contemporary romance about a quirky inventor and unexpected love.
Shy Jane Spyrus loves gadgets. She can build anything B.L.I.S.S. needs in the international organization's fight against crime—although its agents aren't exactly lining up at her door. Some of them think her inventions are a little too . . . well, innovative. Like her shrink-wrap prophylactic constraints or her spray-on truth serum.
Of course, you can't use wacky inventions to fix all your problems; Jane knows that better than anyone. Her neighbour has been kidnapped, driving that point home. She will have to team up with another human being—and Abel Andretti arrives just in time. He will help Jane find her neighbour, stop a villain, and, most of all, he will show Jane how to love the daylights out of something without batteries.
I spotted this on the 2 for $15 mass market shelves in Walmart, and what snagged my attention was the title, it's a very amusing play on the title of what happens to be my personal favourite James Bond film, The Living Daylights, well actually it's probably a toss-up between that one and Timothy Dalton's other one License to Kill, but either way Timothy Dalton is my favourite Bond...BUT I DIGRESS. So it was the title that caught my attention and the summary that totally drew me in. It's sort of like if you took Austin Powers but made it from Liz Hurley's character's POV and dumped that into a blender with Get Smart, Spy Kids (if the kids were adults), and the Ghostbusters reboot and then gave the resulting outline to a romance novelist. It's just a really, really fun adventure. If you've ever seen NCIS LA there's an episode where Deeks and Kensie have to pretend to suburbanites and they end up in their neighbours' basement "playroom", this is basically that scene in novel form and it's amazing. Let me give you a quote:

"Four of the men moved forward. They took away the gun Edie held, Abel's belt of vibrators, and Jane's bag and shoes. "Um, can I wear those?" Jane asked hopefully. She still had her laser bracelet and bomb earrings, but the shoes had six unspent darts in one heel and four in the other. They could come in handy."

Day 2 - Best Swoon Scenes

The Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey

Summary of Book #1 Hearts at Stake

On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family.
Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart.
Even fans of the genre who’ve seen it all will find a fresh read with kick-butt characters and family dynamics that ring true for all brothers and sisters—vampire or otherwise.

I couldn't choose just one book in this six book series, mainly because the primary source of swoon-worthiness is Nick and Lucy's relationship and they never get their own dedicated book. But that being said there is no shortage of scenes that cause you to swoon over all of the Drake brothers and Kieran Black. But then again I might be swooning wrong? I don't know if what makes other people swoon is what makes me swoon and vice versa. For that reason, this was a hard category for me to figure out a book for haha.

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Do you like something playing in the background while reading?

Yes, I prefer to have ambient noise in the background while I am reading a physical book or an ebook. I don't have a preference either, it can be music or it can be a movie or TV show. If it's the former I've even been known to sing along when I am reading. However, if it's the latter it can only be something that I have seen dozens of times before and that I know won't pull me in away from my book. Not obviously, if I'm listening to an audiobook, of course I don't want any other background noise if I can at all avoid it.

Can you read in silence or do you need background noise?

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Musing Mondays - this week's book haul & vacation reading lists yes or no

Musing Monday, September 11, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I bought the following book(s) in the past week…

I keep saying I'm going to lay off buying books for several reasons a. to save money, b. because I am running out of shelf space AGAIN, c. because my physical TBR shelf already exceeds 250 items and d. because Sophia challenged me to finish my entire TBR shelf (physical and digital) by the time she graduates in 2019...a challenge that seems impossibly harder when weekends like this past weekend happen. Chapters was having a 10x the plum rewards points sale for orders of $30 or more. I LOVE the 10x the plum points sales because they get me more points on books I wanted anyway so I get closer to the higher end gift cards for Christmas so I can get even MORE books with my holiday money haha. So of course I caved and bought 4 books, but only 2 are for me, the other 2 are Christmas gifts for my mum.

As I Was Saying . . .: The World According to Clarkson Volume 6 by Jeremy Clarkson

This is one of the ones that I bought for my mum. She and I enjoyed watching Jeremy, James and Richard being absolute idiots on Top Gear when the three of them were still the hosts. It was mainly their friendship and the way they terrorised one another that made it fun to watch. When I was visiting Angie in May I bought my mum one of Clarkson's books in the WHSmith's at Manchester Airport, and she really liked it, so I figured another Clarkson book would go over just as well as a gift.
Crikey, the world according to Clarkson's been a funny old place of late . . .
For a while, Jeremy could be found in his normal position as the tallest man on British television but, more recently, he appears to have been usurped by a pretend elephant.
But on paper the real Jeremy remains at the helm. That's as it should be. For nearly thirty years he has been fearlessly leading the charge as one the best comic writers in the country. And in 2015, he shows no sign of slowing down.
So, whether it's pondering
If Jesus might have been better off being born in New Zealand
Why reflexive pronoun abuse is the worst thing in the world
How Pam Ayres's head trumps Gordon Gecko's underpants
Or what a television presenter with time on his hands gets up to
Jeremy is still trying to make sense of all the big stuff.
Circumstances change. Nothing's forever. But As I Was Saying provides glorious proof that Jeremy remains as funny, puzzled, excitable, outspoken, insightful and thought-provoking as ever. As if you ever doubted it . . 

As You Do: Adventures with Evel, Oliver, and the Vice-President of Botswana by Richard Hammond

Another Top Gear book for my mum, this time by Richard Hammond. I chose this one specifically because we both get such a laugh about Richard's relationship with Oliver, the little, ancient Opal he drove through Botswana in the first African special. I decided that I should balance her Top Gear library out with books from the other hosts. There's a James May one I want to get her but it's not out yet, and at some point, I'll get her the book written by the first white-suited Stig too.

Moving quickly on from the devastating crash that nearly killed him, Richard ranges widely over his life and times—a visit to Glastonbury with James May reminds of him of his early years of playing in a band and how and why he never quite made it as a rock star; the stunts and other perils that come his way like the Top Gear North Pole race (why is it Richard who is out in the howling elements in a dog sled while the others are in the heated cab of an all-terrain vehicle?); Africa where he falls in love with and repatriates a stray car; and the U.S. (once to be chased by rednecks in middle America, the other in pursuit of his hero Evel Knievel); his passion for cars, what he owns and why, and although he loves his wife why it is a toss-up whether he says hello to the wife or the cars first. Balancing home and family with a crazy, peripatetic working life (or not, sometimes), the Hamster is well and truly back on the wheel About The Author: Richard Hammond is internationally famous for co-hosting Top Gear. His previous titles include On the Edge and Richard Hammond's Car Confidential. 
The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden

I read this as an e-book back in 2014 because I got a free review copy during my brief stint as an e-book Reviewer over at Parajunkee's view. According to my review, I read it in April specifically, so it's been over 3 years since reading. This is one of those books that has always stuck into the back of my mind. I really loved it. It was what got me started on paranormal fantasy set in New Orleans. So when I found out that it had been published in paperback and hardcover (it was originally only for the Kindle), I knew that at some point I was going to want to buy a physical copy of it. So this past weekend I finally did!

Seven girls tied by time.
Five powers that bind.
One curse to lock the horror away.
One attic to keep the monsters at bay.
After the storm of the century rips apart New Orleans, sixteen-year-old Adele Le Moyne wants nothing more than her now silent city to return to normal. But with home resembling a war zone, a parish-wide curfew, and mysterious new faces lurking in the abandoned French Quarter, normal needs a new definition.
As the city murder rate soars, Adele finds herself tangled in a web of magic that weaves back to her own ancestors. Caught in a hurricane of myths and monsters, who can she trust when everyone has a secret and keeping them can mean life or death? Unless... you’re immortal.
The Romeo Catchers by Alys Arden

At the same time that I found out The Casquette Girls now existed as a physical book, I also found out that a sequel was released earlier this year. Since I absolutely adored the first book I knew I was going to need to acquire the sequel as well. So it too made its way into my cart during the 10x rewards point sale. I am super duper excited for this book you guys.

Is blood thicker than magic in La Nouvelle-Orléans?
Tormented by the fate she condemned her mother to, and by the lies she’s forced to tell to cover it up, Adele scours Storm-ravaged New Orleans for the truth about her family’s magical past. But every turn leads her back to the one person she's determined to forget: Niccolò Medici. Not even the multitude of enchanted locks on the attic door trapping Nicco within can break their connection.
Sensing Nicco calling to Adele, Isaac tries relentlessly to keep her from exploring paths too dark that would endanger them all. But a new threat is rising: the Medici’s presence has attracted something else to New Orleans…an older enemy, one that will bring Isaac’s haunted past to life, test the witches’ friendships, and jeopardize Adele and Isaac’s blossoming relationship.
In this spellbinding continuation of The Casquette Girls saga, Adele must draw on the past—from seventeenth-century Florence, a time bubbling with alchemy and fraternal betrayal—and sort history from fantasy if she is to have any chance of saving her mother, her coven, and her magic.
Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

While I was looking over my Amazon wish list to see what books I wanted to get in the Chapters sale I came across Glitch on sale for $3.64 cents. I've needed Glitch to complete my series set since I read it back in 2013. See, I originally borrowed it from the local public library - really enjoyed it - went out and bought the next two books in the series - didn't read them - and then never went on to get a copy of Glitch so that I could read through the entire series in one go. I have now rectified that situation, even if I did have to pay for shipping, even with the shipping it was still only about $10 which I think is a perfectly fine deal. You can tell I discovered this one during my YA dystopian phase.

In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.
When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.
As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.
In this action-packed debut, Glitch begins an exciting new young adult trilogy.

So then after spending all that money on those books. I got an email from Audible announcing another one of their fantastic $4.95 sales. The beauty of those sales is that I can get 3 books for about the cost of 1 single credit which only gets me 1 book. So needless to say I have taken advantage of every instance of the $4.95 sale that I have seen since I became an Audible member last year. I got:

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

This is the first book in the series, but I forgot that. So a few months back I actually bought the second book A Court of Mist and Fury during a different $4.95 sale. I want these books because I have heard nothing but good things about them. Everyone I know who has read them has really enjoyed them. I decided to do them as audiobooks because her other series is currently on my physical TBR shelf, or at least 2-3 parts of it are, I'm compiling that set piecemeal as I find it on sale in places. I might need another trip to bookoutlet.ca to see if I can't finish it off.

Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

This is one of those books that in reader's advisory class in library school they sort of recommend that you read. Apparently, it's very popular at public libraries. I've heard mixed things about it, but to me, it's always seemed sort of fascinating. One of the most consistent bits of it I have heard though is that it can be very hard to actually get through as in it's a very slow read. So that's why I decided since I could get it for under $5 and my PL doesn't have an audiobook copy that I would try it as an audiobook and see if I can get into it. It's not something I would have paid a full credit for but I'm happy to get it as part of a 3-for-1 deal.

This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Through Jean M. Auel's magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear.
A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly--she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza's way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.
The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hayes

I had never heard of this one until I saw it in the sale. Needless to say the title DEFINITELY grabbed my attention, it sounds hilarious. And I do always enjoy a vampire novel, I have been a vampire fan since I was about 8 or so, I'd have to check with my childhood friend Stacey to see whether or not I'm wrong about that age haha. I know we were into witches for sure at that point, maybe vamps were a few years later, can't be sure. Anyway, that's beside the point. I went and peeked at the description and some of the reviews on Goodreads and those sold me enough that I decided that for under $5 this was something I wanted to try for myself. I've picked a couple of my $4.95 sale audiobooks like that now so we'll see! Apparently, there are wereponies which I am just super excited to learn more about.

Some people are born boring. Some live boring. Some even die boring. Fred managed to do all three, and when he woke up as a vampire, he did so as a boring one. Timid, socially awkward, and plagued by self-esteem issues, Fred has never been the adventurous sort.
One fateful night – different from the night he died, which was more inconvenient than fateful – Fred reconnects with an old friend at his high school reunion. This rekindled relationship sets off a chain of events thrusting him right into the chaos that is the parahuman world, a world with chipper zombies, truck driver wereponies, maniacal necromancers, ancient dragons, and now one undead accountant trying his best to “survive.” Because even after it’s over, life can still be a downright bloody mess.

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Do you plan a reading list while on vacation?

Not so much an actual reading list per se. Before I go on holiday I consider what books I have on my devices and whether or not I'll be in the mood for them, be they audiobooks or ebooks. I learned a lesson though when I went to visit Angie in May, and that lesson was that none of the Audible, Kobo and Kindle apps actually wanted to work properly for me on the plane. Now that was possibly my fault I might not have done something right before boarding but I don't know, so I was stuck for my whole flight over with absolutely nothing to read because I didn't bring any physical books with me (mainly because I *ALWAYS* buy at least 3 while I am visiting her and this time was no exception I came home with like 6...). The plus side to that was that I actually ended up getting a lot of sleep which was a good thing because I was well rested for my first day with Angie :D. Now I know to pack a backup paperback though to cover for tech issues. So once I check to see if there's anything I want, I buy something if there's not.

It really also depends a lot on where I'm travelling to, I do the vast majority of my travelling to visit Angie in England and I always stay with her. I love staying with her, her flat is 100% my second home in this world. There are many perks to staying with her, and one of them is that I get to raid her library. So sometimes even when I have said to myself that there were books on my devices I wanted to read while I was there, I end up raiding her shelves instead. This past, for example, I ended up reading 5 of her books because about 2 days in I decided I wanted to try and read as much of the 19 young Obi-Wan Kenobi books as I could. Turns out my limit was 5, I finished #5 as we were pulling into the parking lot at the airport on my way home in fact. I probably could have done about 2 more but I only took 3 with me when we went to London and after finishing those I switch to an ebook on my phone instead.

Do you plan your reading in advance or do you just read whatever catches your fancy on a trip? Do you try and read books about or set in your destination before you arrive?