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Fifth Birthday

Happy blog birthday to me! I can’t believe that it has been five years since I first set up my little book blog. I have absolutely loved getting to know new authors, discovering new books, and generally sharing the book love far and wide. What I thought would be a little hobby has turned into a huge part of my life, culminating in 2022 with my being a part of the judging panel for the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award. That was an absolute blast to be involved with and I loved chatting with the other bloggers on the panel.

Five years feels like a bit of a milestone, so I thought now would be a good time to look back over some of my blogging statistics.

  • I have had the honour of sharing 65 author Q&As and guest posts. The first of these was Jennifer Gilmour right back in January 2018, and the most recent was Val Penny in January 2022. I would love to host more of these types of post, so if you are a writer and would like to be featured, please get in touch!

I found it so interesting looking back over my first five years as a book blogger, and I am excited to see what the next five years bring! Thanks for taking this little trip down memory lane with me!

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Top 10 of 2022

Happy 2023 folks! It’s that time of year again when I share my favourite books from the outgoing year. I always struggle to narrow it down to just ten books, but this year was particularly hard as I have read some truly amazing books. After much toing and froing though, I have managed to whittle my list down from 40-something to just ten. These are purely in the order that I read them rather than a chart run down. Click on the titles to read my reviews of each of these:

  • Dusky Dahlia – Lucy Holden
    • I absolutely adore the Nightgarden Saga by Lucy Holden, and having read the final three books in the series in 2022, it was hard to choose just one. In the end, it had to be Dusky Dahlia because of the depth of emotion in the story.
  • The Embroidered Book – Kate Heartfield
    • Two of my favourite genres are historical fiction and fantasy, so when the two collide, it is a dream come true for me. This stunning book is a reimaging of Europe at the time of Marie Antoinette, and I could not put it down!
  • Nothing Burns As Bright As You – Ashley Woodfolk (review coming soon)
    • This YA novel in verse is as beautiful as it is devastating. I wanted to review it as soon as I read it, but I just could not find the words – to be honest, nine months later, I am still struggling.
  • Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl – Joya Goffney
    • This was a tricky decision for me, because I also read Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya in 2022, and I loved both books equally, but only had space for one. I ended up choosing this one because I think that its subject matter is something that should be spoken about more.
  • The Ghost of Ivy Barn – Mark Stay
    • I can’t get enough of the Witches of Woodville series by Mark Stay, and I loved this latest instalment. Each book has a slightly different feel to it, and I found this one a lot more emotional than I had expected. Oh, and I cannot stress this enough, you HAVE to look up Mr Stay’s unboxing videos!
  • The Wedding Cake – Isabella May
    • If you don’t know by now that I am a huge Isabella May fan, then I don’t know where you have been for the last five years! I love, love, love her Foodie Romance series! It is just wonderful.
  • Words In Deep Blue – Cath Crowley (review coming soon)
    • Oh my, this book! It was recommended to me by a friend, you know the type, “You have to read this book, it will destroy you!” and she certainly wasn’t wrong. I know this is a book that I will keep coming back to – just as soon as I recover from reading it the first time!
  • We Are All Constellations – Amy Beashel
    • Yet another book that left me in absolute bits! I think maybe I should read some happier books in 2023, but I just can’t help myself with the emotional rollercoasters!
  • Goblins of Lapland – Caedis Knight
    • While a lot of the books on my list this year are YA, this one is most definitely an 18+! The latest in the Blood Web Chronicles is a festive prequel full of Christmassy delights!
  • The Witch and the Tsar – Olesya Salnikova Gilmore
    • Finishing off this year’s list is one of the last books I read in 2022, and another where history meets fantasy, this time in Russia as Ivan the Terrible encounters a reimagined Baba Yaga. It was the perfect wintery read to curl up with in the days before Christmas.

What were your favourite books in 2022? I would love to see your lists to add to my TBR!

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Bookish Christmas Book Tag

The quiet period between Christmas and New Year seemed the perfect time to hop on to the Bookish Christmas book tag. Thanks to Danni at For Book’s Sake for tagging me to do this. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out her blog!

This tag was originally created by Callum McLaughlin.

Father Christmas: Name a book you received as a child that you treasure to this day.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. I adore the Chronicles of Narnia, but this was my first introduction to the world, a gift from my much loved godmother.

The ghost of Christmas past: Is there a book or series you like to revisit each year at Christmas time?

Fittingly for the start of this question, I always like to experience A Christmas Carol in some way at Christmas, whether that be reading the book or watching one of the many screen adaptations. This year, I was lucky enough to attend an interactive dramatic reading of the book at a stately home near where I live, which was so much fun (if this sounds like your kind of thing, check out their website – Torchlight Tours)! I do keep a folder of festive books on my Kindle as well to dip into if I fancy it. Some of the books on there include Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar, The Gift by Cecelia Ahern, and Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather.

Christmas tree: Name a series that reaches new heights with every entry.

This has to be Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter Chronicles. I am absolutely addicted, and I am currently counting the days until the next instalment releases (35 days including today, in case you were wondering).

Friends and family: Name a book with fantastic characters.

Oh so many! As this is a friends and family question, I think I will say the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo. The characters there may not be blood, but they are still very much a family.

Decorations: Name a book with a gorgeous cover you would proudly display on your shelves.

I see so many absolutely beautiful books being published these days, but I think that the Blood Web Chronicles by Caedis Knight take some beating – especially all lined up together. Designed by Jacqueline Silvester, one half of Caedis Knight, the colours are simply stunning, and the detail in each globe is spectacular. Find out more about this spicy series HERE.

Christmas cards: Name a book that carries a great message.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I remember a friend telling me that I had to read this book, but not telling me anything much else about it. At the time, I thought this was a bit strange, and when I started reading and found it was a book about a boy on a boat with a tiger, I thought it was an even stranger book to recommend. However, I ended up being absolutely blown away by it. I can’t say much more about it, or the message it carries, without spoiling it for anyone who is yet to read it, but it really is an astonishingly good book.

Ice and snow: Name a book that you were hoping to love, but which ultimately left you feeling cold.

Oh no, there’s no ice and snow here this Christmas, just hot chocolate and lebkuchen for all!

Christmas lunch: Name a book that was big and intimidating but oh so worth it in the end.

I love a big chunky book, so I don’t tend to find a high page count intimidating, and to be honest, I read mainly on Kindle, so I often don’t even know how long a book is before starting to read it. According to Goodreads, the longest book I read in 2022 was The Stone Monkey by Jeffrey Deaver at 657 pages. I really enjoy his Lincoln Rhyme series, so I am sure this didn’t feel anywhere near as long as it is.

Mince pies: Name a book you found sweet and satisfying.

A food based question at Christmas? There is only one possible answer that I could give – Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bar by Isabella May. It is an absolute delight featuring all the Christmas loveliness that your heart could desire. Read my review HERE.

Presents: What book do you wish you could give everyone to read?

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. I read this book way back in way back in February 2018, and I still find myself thinking about it. It is just such a beautiful book in every single way. You can read my review of it HERE.

Spreading the festive cheer: Tag some friends to help spread the festive bookish love.

K T Robson

Kate Kenzie

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The Fall Cover Reveal

I have the honour of being part of the cover reveal for the latest thriller from the wonderful Louise Jensen today. The Fall is due to be published in April 2023, and is available to pre-order now. The eagle-eyed among you may have already spotted the cover on my social media, but before I share it here, check out the all important blurb, which I am sure you will agree sounds amazing. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

BLURB:

She promised she wouldn’t tell. They made sure she couldn’t…

At her surprise 40th birthday party, Kate Granger feels like the luckiest woman in the world but just hours later her fifteen-year-old daughter, Caily, is found unconscious underneath a bridge when she should have been at school.

Now, Caily lies comatose in her hospital bed, and the police don’t believe it was an accident. As the investigation progresses, it soon becomes clear that not everyone in the family was where they claimed to be at the time of her fall.

Caily should be safe in hospital but not everyone wants her to wake up. Someone is desperate to protect the truth and it isn’t just Caily’s life that is in danger.

Because some secrets are worth killing for…

If that sounds like it might be up your street, you can pre-order here.

Now, who is ready to see the cover? Here goes!

I think this is an absolute gorgeous cover, and I am so excited for the release – my 2023 TBR has this book on it already!

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BBNYA Spotlight – The Vicar Man – Amelia Crowley

Kicking off another week of BBNYA Spotlights, we have The Vicar Man, by Amelia Crowley.

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 50 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight blitz tour for each title. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 10 finalists and one overall winner.

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

BLURB:

Dora is a barmaid.

Usually her life is fairly simple: she gets up, cleans the inn, feeds the chickens, argues with the increasingly obstreperous cockerel, listens to the woes of her fellow barmaid, avoids doing the laundry, and serves drinks to the motley crew of islanders who lurk about the taproom every night.

The same old routine, day in, day out.

Tonight, though, is different.

Tonight, just one week before the vernal equinox, after a catastrophically bad harvest the year before, a stranger has walked into the bar…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amelia lives in Yorkshire with her family.

At least she definitely had a family around here somewhere, but to be honest she’s spent so much of the last year staring into a word processor she thinks they may have wandered off.

Her writing is fuelled by mugs of terrible, over-sugared coffee, much better chocolate, and the occasional macaron, and is punctuated by her soulless whimpers and the sound of her head hitting the keyboard.

She posts updates on her books and writing at https://www.ameliacrowley.com/ When she remembers.

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BBNYA Spotlight – Dark Apprentice – Val Neil

Happy BBNYA spotlight day to Val Neil, and her fantasy novel, Dark Apprentice.

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 50 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight blitz tour for each title. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 10 finalists and one overall winner.

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

BLURB:

A psychopathic wizard. An immortal mage. An epic battle of wills.

Nikolai doesn’t want much out of life: sex, immortality, and the power to disembowel anyone who crosses him. But with dark magic forbidden, his only option is Medea–a mage so deadly even the Enforcers give her a wide berth. Despite dire warnings that her apprentices don’t survive, Nikolai won’t stop until she agrees to train him. After all, he’s a killer himself.

Barbaric and brutal, the training is a far cry from what Nikolai expects. When a mysterious illness strikes Nikolai down, he suspects he’s found the secret to Medea’s longevity. He resolves to find out what happened to her previous apprentices. If he can locate the source of her power, he can turn it against her.

Medea swore off training dark wizards–none of them take the craft seriously and the ungrateful bastards always try to kill her. This one definitely seems the backstabbing type, but magic is dying out and she hasn’t felt such magical strength in centuries. If she can control the boy, show him that magic is more than curses and necromancy, he might obtain the power he desires. If not, well . . .

What’s one more dead apprentice?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Val was diagnosed with autism at the age of forty-one and couldn’t be happier to have her weirdness professionally validated. She lives in California with her ADHDer spouse, three children (two neurodiverse and one undecided), a normal number of dogs, and an abnormal number of birds.

For a free short story, witty ramblings and recommendations, sign up for my monthly newsletter: subscribepage.com/t7a2d4

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BBNYA Spotlight – Dragon’s Reach – JA Andrews

After a short break, I am back with another BBNYA semi-finalist to share.

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 50 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight blitz tour for each title. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 10 finalists and one overall winner.

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

Today’s spotlight is on epic fantasy novel, Dragon’s Reach, by JA Andrews

BLURB:

Sable has spent ten years trapped in the slums, indebted to a ruthless gang boss Kiva, and scrambling to keep her younger sister safe.

She has nothing but the power to feel the truth in people’s words and a gnawing longing for freedom.

When she catches the slightest glimpse of escape through a traveling theater troupe, she must decide if the chance is worth risking Kiva’s wrath.

But there are more vicious evils in the world than gang bosses, and some threats you can’t outrun.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JA Andrews lives deep in the Rocky Mountains of Montana with her husband and three children. She is eternally grateful to CS Lewis for showing her the luminous world of Narnia. She wishes Jane Austen had lived 200 years later so they could be pen pals. She is furious at JK Rowling for introducing her to house elves, then not providing her a way to actually employ one. And she is constantly jealous of her future-self who, she is sure, has everything figured out. You can find her at http://www.jaandrews.com.

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BBNYA Spotlight – The Naseby Horses – Dominic Brownlow

I have another fab sounding novel to share with you all today as part of the BBNYA Spotlight event. Today, we are looking at Dominic Brownlow’s The Naseby Horses.

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 50 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight blitz tour for each title. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 10 finalists and one overall winner.

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

BLURB:

‘Stunning and original’ The Literary Sofa

Seventeen-year-old Simon’s sister Charlotte is missing. The lonely Fenland village the family recently moved to from London is odd, silent, and mysterious. Simon is epileptic and his seizures are increasing in severity, but when he is told of the local curse of the Naseby Horses, he is convinced it has something to do with Charlotte’s disappearance. Despite resistance from the villagers, the police, and his own family, Simon is determined to uncover the truth, and save his sister.

Under the oppressive Fenland skies and in the heat of a relentless June, Simon’s bond with Charlotte is fierce, all-consuming, and unbreakable; but can he find her? And does she even want to be found?

Drawing on philosophy, science, and the natural world, The Naseby Horses is a moving exploration of the bond between a brother and his sister; of love; and of the meaning of life itself.

‘A novel that blends the supernatural with the psychological in a way that is surprising, subtle, and unexpectedly satisfying.’ Ray Robinson, author of The Mating Habits of Stags

“A tonally assured debut with a powerful understanding of the contradictory emotional forces at play when someone close to you is lost… tense, intriguing, and absorbing” Peter Jinks, author of Hallam Foe

“A riveting debut” S A Harris, author of Haverscoft

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dominic Brownlow lives near Peterborough with his two children. He lived in London and worked in the music industry as a manager before setting up his own independent label. He now enjoys life in the Fens. The Naseby Horses is his first novel. It was long listed for the Bath Novel Award 2016.

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BBNYA Spotlight – The Chocolate Clouds – Marc Remus

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 50 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight blitz tour for each title. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 10 finalists and one overall winner.

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

Today’s spotlight is on The Chocolate Clouds, a Middle Grade fantasy from Marc Remus.

BLURB:

Everybody in Sugarland is overweight because there’s no food other than sweets. For decades, delicious Chocolate Clouds soared above Choco-Locoville, the hometown of ten-year-old Henry. They would melt in the intense summer sun and chocolate would drip from the sky. Henry’s family collected the drops and made a fortune, building a candy empire that controlled Sugarland’s food supply.

One morning, Henry wakes up to the shocking news that the Chocolate Clouds have disappeared. With the family‘s empire in jeopardy and Sugarland at risk of starvation, Henry now ventures beyond the scary Monster Mountains and embarks on a wild journey.

Along the way, he befriends magical creatures, learns about healthy food choices, and discovers that the Chocolate Clouds didn’t just disappear but were actually stolen. Now he must visit the creepy Barebone Island, where monsters are said to live …

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marc Remus is an award-winning German painter and author. His books have received more than twenty literary awards and have been translated into seven languages.

Remus was educated in the United States, graduated with a BA in art and illustration from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, and lived in Japan and Central America for many years. He has traveled to almost seventy countries and visited over a thousand cities, of which he has painted over two hundred. His work has been featured on TV and in many magazines and newspapers in Germany, USA, and Mexico.

During his art studies in California in the 1990s, Remus took his first children’s book illustration class. His college teacher inspired him to start writing and not just illustrating. The result was a picture book called Painting Brian, which led to his first book and eventually to the Magora series. In the early 2000s, Remus studied for four years at the Institute of Children’s Literature. In 2016 the Magora book, which he had initially written more than twenty years before, was finally published. During the five years that followed, eight more books were published, and Remus received many literary awards for his achievements.

Having a sweet tooth since childhood, Remus embarked on a new journey in 2019. Surrounded by many overweight friends and family members, Remus came up with an idea to teach children a healthy way of eating without preaching. This idea resulted in The Chocolate Clouds. It took the author two years to illustrate the book. With over 150 drawings, it is a rarity in children’s literature.

Today, Marc Remus is working on a new children’s book while The Chocolate Clouds are being translated into more languages. He continues to eat chocolate.

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BBNYA Spotlight – Journeys: The Archers of Saint Sebastian – Jeanne Roland

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 50 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight blitz tour for each title. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website https://www.bbnya.com/ or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

Today’s spotlight is on medieval YA novel, Journeys: The Archers of Saint Sebastian by Jeanne Roland.

BLURB:

15-year-old Marieke disguises herself at the elite all-male archers’ guild of Saint Sebastian, the most prestigious institution of Ardennes and the place she suspects houses her father’s brutal killers. Here every year the twelve best young archers in the country compete as Journeymen in a series of grueling public competitions: six will win permanent guild membership; one will win a coveted spot on the prince’s bodyguard. Marieke’s been obsessed with St. Sebastian’s for as long as she can remember, but when she flees to the guild for refuge, there are really only two things she knows about the place: one is that a mysterious injury ended her own father’s Journey days.

The other?

There are no women allowed inside Saint Sebastian’s. 

Marieke knows disguising herself as a boy at the guild means embarking on a dangerous deception. But it might be her only chance to find out the truth about her father’s past, and to keep a deadly plot from coming to fruition. And when the handsome young Journey Tristan takes her under his wing as his squire, she’s got to stay – at least long enough to help him beat out his bitter rival to pass the guild trials. Keeping her identity hidden will be hard. Living among all those gorgeous boys, without giving herself away? That will be harder still. But the hardest thing of all will be keeping the vow she makes for herself: to see Tristan become the next Guardsman, without ever letting him discover her secrets.

Robin Hood meets Mulan and Princess Bride in this frothy but literate coming-of-age romp through 14th century Belgium that’s packed with romance, wit, a hint of mystery, and plenty of longbow archery competitions. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Roland hails from Davis, California, where she spent most of her youth lounging at the pool, soaking up the sun, and daydreaming. She had a key ring that read ‘I’m running away to join the circus,’ and her favorite moment of the day was when the local movie theater went dark, and the slogan ‘escape to the movies’ appeared on the screen. As an adult, her passions include all things melodramatic and beautiful — everything from classic movies, British romantic poetry, ancient tragedy and epic, to Italian opera. She is now a professor of Classics in a small midwestern town, where she lives with her Greek husband, her fraternal twins, and a Bernese mountain dog named Franco Corelli.

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