Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing this last year but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Last week:

Still very busy last week but I’m pleased to say that I’ve started to catch up with blog hopping, if I’ve not visited you yet I have made good progress and this week hopefully will get to everyone.  On the reading front I’ve read two books, both a little spontaneous and off plan – but, never mind – The Blacktongue Thief which I really enjoyed and Later by Stephen King which was also very good.  I do need to get back to The Helm of Midnight by Marina Lostetter and The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper.  Both of those were not quite working their magic for me so I will try again this week.  I also will be reading the next instalment of the second Discworld book later this evening.

Complete The Helm of Midnight and The Wolf Den as mentioned above. I will also make a start on The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan.

  1. A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
  2. The Shadow of the Gods by John Grynne
  1. Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
  2. The Ikessar Falcon by KS Villoso
  3. Later by Stephen King
  4. The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

Progress Update: Wyrd and Wonder reading #WyrdandWonder


We’re half way into May and so today I’m giving an update of the books I’ve read so far for Wyrd and Wonder – details here (but in short W&W is a fantastic month long celebration of all things fantasy) and also looking at those books I’d like to fit in for the second half of the month.

1 The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne – okay, this was brilliant.  What a way to start the event.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  Please give it a go, I seriously. 


2 Later by Stephen King – I listened to the audio version for this one.  I haven’t read a King book for a while and  although I haven’t written my review for this one yet I can say it will be favourable.  I really liked this story and was thoroughly gripped.



3 Ikessar Falcon by KS Villoso – I started this book a while ago and put it down.  Nothing to do with the book and all to do with my strange up and down reading mood.  Anyway, I decided to start it again and part read/part listened to it.  I really enjoyed it.  It’s a winning combination of action and character focus.  Review to follow soon.


4 The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman.  My review for this will be up soon – I had so much fun with this book, literally laughed out loud on a number of occasions – much to the delight of the OH.



That’s my reading so far this month – and it’s been very good – so the second half has got a lot to live up to.  

Well, firstly, this month I hope to complete the second Discworld book that I’m buddy reading with the lovely Louise at Lousbookstuff.


And, here’s a little medley of books.  I probably won’t get to them all but maybe 5 or 6:

So, what you reading for the rest of the month.

Friday Face Off : The earliest fantasy you recall reading


Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

The start of Wyrd and Wonder.  A month long celebration of fantasy. The earliest fantasy you recall reading – or the first fantasy book you really loved, maybe the book that kickstarted your love of fantasy

May is the month of Wyrd and Wonder so for the FFO themes I’m choosing fantasy books:


This is an easy one for me  I did read a few fantasy books that I recall quite young, The Wizard of Oz, The Borrowers and The Wind in the Willows spring to mind immediately.  But, without doubt the book that sealed my love of fantasy fiction was Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, I’m pretty certain I read this when I was about 15 and I’m also fairly confident that I formed a huge crush on Aragorn.  Here is a small selection of covers.

My favourite this week:  I can’t really choose but I like these three because : Gandalf/Epic/Ring:

I’ve updated the list now to include themes for next year.  If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next week – The start of Wyrd and Wonder.  A month long celebration of fantasy : The Top Hat



Month of Wyrd and Wonder

21st – The Top Hat

28th – The Hood


4th – The nose boop – any animal, or human, with a close up shot.

11th – A cover that annoyed you and why

18th – Out of Perspective, or make you feel a bit dizzy

25th – Upside down, back to front or topsy turvy


2nd – A book with a landscape you’d like to visit

9th – A Wicked Grin

16th – Books with ‘book’ in the title

23rd – A Black Hole – could be in the universe or going deep into the ground

30th – Chaos – maybe too much going on in this one


6th – “They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest, os so very delicately!” – The Motel

13th – A favourite holiday read

20th – Dressed to kill (could be literally someone dressed to kill, or someone dressed up for a big night out

27th – Sunbathing or on the beach

September (RIP event)

3rd – 1920s feel, noir detective

10th – I’m Henry the Eighth I am – let’s look at Kings or other Emperors/rulers

17th – Books with ‘Murder’ in the title

24th – A favourite thriller


1st – A Halloween read

8th – Chills – anything at all that almost makes you too scared to pick up the book (your own pet hate)

15th – Your favourite book of magic

22nd – Books with ‘Queen’ in the title

29th – Must be gothic

November – Sci Fi Month

5th – Your earliest sci-fi read or the first sci-fi you reviewed

12th – A book with ‘star’ in the title

19th – Futuristic vista

26th – A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground


3rd – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

A Slightly Different Review : A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by VE Schwab

Today is a slightly different format for a review.   This is my second buddy read with Mayri at the Bookforager blog.  If you haven’t visited Mayri before I heartily recommend you do so, she’s a wonderful blogger. Our first buddy read was Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.

Slight spoiler alert – this didn’t really work out as well as we both hoped.  It’s a good book for sure and probably a few years ago I would have adored this but at this stage we probably won’t continue with the series but will instead look for a new book to start.  Read below for our thoughts.

We decided to post our review during Wyrd and Wonder the details of which can be found here.  This is a celebration of fantasy  It’s a fantastic event and it’s never too late to join in the fun.


Similar to our last buddy read this review will take the form of our chat back and forth.  This time round Mayri is posting the opening chapters and I will be going with the conclusion – so, ideally you might want to step away and go read Mayri’s post before continuing to read on.   

Also, before I start, I would mention that given the nature of our ongoing conversation during our read this post will contain spoilers so if you’re planning on reading this book you might want to avoid both posts.

Mayri has posted our conversation for week 1 and 2.  The conversation below follows weeks 3 and 4:

A Darker Shade final for IreneWeek 3 – Chapters 9-11

Mayri : Is it just me, or did the pace just kick up a notch? I even wrote down the page number (page 261) where I felt things started to get … not interesting, it’s been interesting from the beginning, but … more urgent, I guess. Like the vague threat of what the black stone can do suddenly became immediate. What do you think, Lynn?  

Lynn : The pace definitely picked up in fact when I read this section I almost pressed on because I felt like I was finally getting into the stride of things.  I didn’t though, I showed massive restraint! 

Mayri : (I’m so proud of you!) I was wondering when the Dane twins were going to rear their heads again, but wasn’t expecting Astrid to turn up inside Rhy! That was pretty cool. 

Lynn : Oh yes, I definitely didn’t see that coming.  What a surprise.  I think the only downside that I felt about that was if it’s really so easy to infiltrate a member of the royal family then that really isn’t very good.  In fact anybody could be taken over and manipulated.  But yes, such a shock – and I do like a good shock.

Mayri : Good point. Why haven’t they guarded against this possibility? They know about magic, so they know what can be done with it…

And I’m not sure that the magic in the stone is going to be wield-able. I’m pretty sure it’s got its own ideas. I really like the way it’s growing itself now it’s found people with more magic in them to burn. 

Lynn : Yes, that stone is pretty scary and quite tricksey too.  Is it just me or does it seem to be finding itself more ‘capable’  bodies to take over.  The last chapters definitely make me think that the stone poses a greater threat than I first suspected.  I wonder what will happen if Kell and Lila manage to take the stone back.  Will it’s presence fade then from the other Londons or will it keep on growing in strength.

Mayri : Good question. It’s interesting how power seems to be distributed differently across the Londons. I liked the description of the people of Grey London as only having a candle’s worth of life in them. And I think we’ve now got a pretty good idea of what happened to Black London, if not why. I’d like to know how the magic got the way it is now – sentient and hungry. 

Lynn : Yes, why did the magic change.  This black stone is certainly very hungry and incredibly willful!

Mayri : And Lila. She definitely remains the more interesting of the two. I love that she recognises the cunning of the stone. 

Lynn : Yep, I like Lila.  I mean, to be fair, I don’t dislike Kell but considering how much he knows and his experience he comes across as a little naive in some respects and you just can’t help thinking that he’s really put his foot in it.

Mayri : Definitely. I still find Kell bland, even this far in and think Lila makes the more compelling character. I love when she gets to dress up! That was awesome! I can picture her in her horned mask – what a badass look! 

Lynn : It was a good scene and I loved her choice of outfit. She’s very calm in most situations isn’t she, even managing to swipe an invitation for herself. I had a horrible sort of dread that the young ladies she took the invite from would figure it out and be lying in wait. You have to admire her too. Walking into this elaborate, royal party, on her own, and with no real qualms. Go Lila.

Mayri : Yeah, go Lila! 


Week 4 – Chapters 12-14

Mayri : Man, I still don’t really know how to feel about this story! On the one hand, I love the four Londons, I love Lila, and I was fascinated by Holland and what had been done to him. But on the other, I feel it’s been an uneven ride, slow to start and now, in this last section, all in a hurry to finish. Holland is vanquished like that *snaps fingers* when I wanted so much more from him. Rhy dies, but oh, nope, it’s OK, Kell’s done a spell. And Athos and Astrid never quite got the room or time to make their menace truly felt before Kell and Lila defeated them, (although they’ve definitely left an impression).

I sound like a right moaning min, I know, but my overall feeling is one of disappointment. There were a lot of promising ideas that didn’t ever get off the ground. And I don’t know if I can be bothered to read on. The only story I want more from is Lila’s …

Perhaps I feel this way though because we weren’t grabbed from the beginning, and so we never gained any momentum?


Lynn : To be honest I couldn’t agree more.  Like you say, on the one hand there were so many promising ideas and people and yet on the other I feel like they weren’t given a fair shot somehow or just failed to reach their potential.  All the threats that loomed were easily defeated and the twins were definitely a disappointment. And I can’t help wonder why Holland had to die?  It just seemed such a shame.  I do like Lila and I loved that she walked away at the end and didn’t even glance back.  She has a lot of potential especially now she has discovered she has a small glimmer of magic herself, but much like you, I’m not really interested in continuing this one.  To be fair, I don’t think I’m the target audience and these days I’m less inclined to be bowled over by the promise of a dreamy relationship, which, I realise didn’t happen here – but it does hold the potential for a love interest in future instalments, even maybe the dreaded love triangle.  

I vote we move on and see if we can find something that will really blow us away.

Mayri : Ha! I second that! I’d much rather discover something new than read something because it might get better. 

And, yeah, I felt this wasn’t really written for me either. I can see how everything that happened in this book could whet the appetite for some (especially that possible romance *shudder*), but unfortunately, it didn’t grab me.

And there are so many books out there … waiting for us. 😁


So, there we have it.  All wrapped up.  It’s a shame this one didn’t quite work out for us both.  There are some fabulous ideas here and to be totally fair – I recently read and adored The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue by the same author so it could be that my expectations were unrealistically high going into this one.  This book does enjoy a lot of love though so don’t be put off by the fact that it didn’t quite win us over.


#SPFBO Wrap Up and Announcement

Posted On 12 May 2021

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: , ,

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

If you’ve been following SPFBO (The Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition, brain child of Mark Lawrence) you’ll probably be aware already that we have our winner.  It was a close competition with some excellent reads – I advise you to step over here to see what takes your fancy. 

The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson topped the charts and is a worthy winner.  This was closely followed by my first book (and definitely not my last) by Michael R Fletcher a dark and grim little number called Black Stone Heart.  Shadow of a Dead God by Patrick Samphire was actually the first finalist I read and it really set the bar high (so no surprise that it came in the top three).  Anyway, I won’t go through all the finalists here, the final order, scores and all the reviews can be found on the link above and I highly recommend giving them all a try in fact I think I can safely say that there’ll be something here to satisfy every taste – from epic style fantasy to character focused, to grimdark, to norse retelling to gladiatorial style fight club and much, much more.  (Never forgetting of course that there were some amazing books that didn’t make the final cut – check out the blogs to see their thoughts on their original batch of books and eventual semi finalists).


Moving swiftly on – ‘WHAT!!’ you may say.  ‘Already? No, it’s too soon’. 

Well, SPFBO 7 will be starting on the 1st June so this post also acts as a ‘heads up’ for all you authors out there who would like to submit your work for the next competition.  The details can be found here  – (hint – the doors for submission open on the 14th May).

Two things must thee know about SPFBO.  

Firstly, it’s a competition – you have to be in it to win it.

Secondly, 300 books may enter the gates but…


Don’t be put off by those odds though – come for the competition but stay for the community, the camaraderie and the friends you will make along the way.

That is all.  Keep your eyes glued to Mark Lawrence’s blog, check out the SPFBO Facebook group or sign in to Twitter (#SPFBO) for further updates.



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