Hayley Soon by Andrew Henley (Transgressive Fiction)

Andrew Henleys ‘sophomore’ novel ‘Hayley Soon’ follows the story of Korean-american trans girl – Hayley Soon – as she tries to decide what direction to take her life in.

Joined by a colourful cast of characters – Cleo, who does her best to keep Hayley grounded is my favourite’ – this is a book you won’t be able to put down until the very end!

Goodreads summary:
Hayley Soon is the tale of a Korean-American transgirl with a fractured mental health, obsession with pop culture, cosplay and a rapidly declining interest in her studies.
Featuring movies, music and a diverse cast all entangled in themes so dark you’ll need a flashlight, Hayley Soon puts the trans in transgressive fiction.

My rating: 5*

So, I had the honor of beta-reading Hayley Soon last year, and even in its raw state, I was able to see how much potential it had! Potential which Andrew was able to bring with the finished copy!

It’s definitely one of those books you won’t be able to stop yourself from thinking about when you finally put it down!

Even now I have moments where I see the world differently because of the things said in this book. It certainly opens your eyes in more ways than one!

Which, I think is because Hayley isn’t the sort of characters to wear any rose tinted glasses and she see’s the world as it is, along with all it’s flaws and injustice – just as much as she does with herself!

And that, in turn, makes Hayley a character you can relate too in the first two pages! She’s real, and I think it just makes what she goes through all that more painful and ‘real’ for the reader!

It’s a fun novel, especially with all the pop-culture references and cosplaying antics, but at its core, it looks at some pretty dark themes – dark enough you’ll need a flash-light – but with a cast of ‘grounded’ characters behind Hayley, it doesn’t feel as if all is lost.

This book made me cry, laugh, think and even get mad (in a good way)

What else could you want from a book?

And, at just 99p on amazon kindle, or at just £8.99 for the paperback, you can read this book too!

And, don’t forget, if you live in or near Newcastle, on the 2nd June 2018, Andrew is having a belated book launch at Newcastle City Library for Hayley Soon!

He’s currently looking for writers and authors to go on a panel, so, if your interested, make sure to get in contact with him through either his instagram or website!

But until then though guys,

Just Keep Writing,

Jade x

Breaking the Gladiator by Nicola Rose

Boasting captivating characters, scenery, and a story line to match, Breaking the Gladiator: An Alpha Attraction novella by debut indie author Nicola Rose was released today on kindle, and, considering this steamy, hot mess is only 99p, you have to have a good excuse not to buy it!

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Cassian
I’m trained to kill… for the amusement of others.
Slave. Fighter. Beast.
Emotions are a weakness, so I have none; except anger and hate. All the good ones were beaten and starved out of me long ago. I barely even feel pain anymore.
But when she touches me? Feelings thrash to the surface, and in my world those are dangerous. She’s poison, feeding off my rage for her own sick pleasures. I hate her. She keeps finding cracks and opening them up, squeezing herself inside my chest.
She’s going to get me killed.

Livia
I’m Domina of the Atticus ludus, where we train gladiators to compete for victory.
Wealthy. Attractive. Powerful husband.
It appears I have it all… and I wish I could make myself feel that way. But I’m numb. Too broken to even care. The only time I feel alive is when I’m with my husband’s champion gladiator. My slave. In the arena, and the bedroom.
It’s disgusting for a woman of my rank to sleep with a man like him. He’s a dirty, worthless animal. His touch should feel repulsive. His gaze upon me should make my skin crawl.
But he’s mine. And I want more.

“Dirty, Senseless, Dangerous, Sinful and Mouth-Watering”

I had the honor of reading the arc of this book in January, in exchange for an honest review, and, it was honestly my first five star read of 2018, and left me all satisfied and full (if not wanting more of Cassian that is!)

With only 20,000 words, Nicola’s characters were so well-developed that you feel as if you’ve already known them for a life time, and with a style of writing that flows off the tongue and immerses you in this wonderful and fantastical roman world; Nicola has done a beautiful job at introducing us in to the worlds she’s made to create!

I, for one, cannot wait for her debut novel later this year if this one is anything to go by!

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nicolarose

Nicola’s favourite things to write about include vampires, fantasy and romance that isn’t always sweet!

Living in the UK with her husband and two boys, when she’s not reading or writing, she can be found walking in the country-side, faffing around on photo-shop and playing board games!

You can also find her obsessing over vampires and bad boys!

You can buy Breaking the Gladiator here
Follow her on instagram @nicolaroseauthor
Visit her website here
Her Goodreads here

Her debut novel Taste the Dark: Elwood Legacy Book 1 is due out on the 30th April!
Pre-order that here!

Life Lessons in Ness’ A Monster Calls

My first journey in to the world of Patrick Ness broke my heart and then patched it back together again…

Following young Connor, plagued by his mothers illness (and read in four hours), this kid is this sassy little guy who I loved as soon as the first words came out of his mouth! The attitude, the sass, it makes you want to root for this kid from the very beginning!

Which is good, because this book, it takes something really real, and really hard to talk about, and think about, and it makes it easier for people to understand. It took this horribly dark situation and made it so that it was okay! It sort of assures you that the things you may think when your in a similar (or the same) situation as young Connor, are completely natural, and you’re not being as selfish as you think you are.

It also let’s you know that you’re not the only one who’s thought it!

It portrays really well how someone feels when, in this case, someone is terminally ill, happens! People have no idea how to act, or what to say, and you’re not treated the same as before. It can anger a lot of people, but it’s not the subject we allow ourselves to talk about in day-to-day life – because it’s too hard – so how can we really, criticise all the sorry for your troubles – when, we honestly don’t know ourselves how we really want to be treated – or how we would act eve.

You may want to be treated as normal, but, is that really the best way to go?

I, myself, was able to catch on to the monsters coming a bit before Conner did, or before he admitted it out loud anyway. I also think that sort of shows the difference between an adult and a child, and how they sometimes need a bit more time to process these things, especially at Conners tender age!

This book makes you think, whether it’s something menial or really important, it makes you think about the things you need to admit to yourself. Is a job not working for you? Is a relationship not working for you? Is something you’ve wrote, or created, not really getting anywhere? Is there something you’re keeping deep down because you’re worried about other people?

It could be something minor, or major, but you just have to take a step back, think about it, and then admit it. You don’t have to do anything about it straight away, maybe not at all if the circumstances don’t permit it, but if you admit it to yourself, you’re one step closer to being wherever you want to be!

During this little reading binge (which took place last year and now, I’m finally posting this), I was reading quite a lot of middlegrade books, and even though, they all have dark connotations floating about, they’ve all been able to teach these valuable lessons that both children and adults need.

Some of the suspected MG books I’ve read have been a little long-winded, but, you don’t have to worry about that when it comes to Ness! He’s so simple with his words, and I honestly think that a child could learn one or two things from his writing!

I’m gonna just get out there and give him 5*. There was nothing I didn’t like about it!


So, the second posts of the week are, honestly, just going to be all about books! And, because I have no idea whether I want to post these on a Saturday or Sunday, I’m just gonna give the name Weekend Reading, and post when I want to! Although, the weekday post might be changing, but, we’ll experiment and see how things go!

Until Wednesday,

Just keep on reading,

Jade x

Top Ten Reads Of My 2017

So, I read quite a lot of books last year, and probably found some that I’m not gonna forget any time soon!

And, as I’m hoping that my regular Friday books will focus on all things bookish, I thought, to set the tone, I’d tell you about my top ten read from 2017! (Better late, than never, right?)

Number one, is ultimately, my number one. Without a doubt. The rest to follow are in no order at all!

1. Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

I honestly didn’t think I’d like this book, but damn it, I did! I loved it, and it’s happily up there with my favourite books of all time! The humor he uses is just up my street, and he had me belly-laughing at some points! As did the second book, Shadowblack!I wrote a review all about the first one here. The second one is on it’s way!

2. Wonder by R.J.Palacio

I only read this book because I knew it was coming out in the cinema soon, but, it was one of those reads that stay with you forever! It was so heart-breakingly sweet that I recommend everyone read it! My personal review can be found here.

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3. HON Otherworld: Loved by P.C and Kristin Cast

I couldn’t not read this book and love it. The writing really get’s on my nerves, even more now I’m a bit older, but I love the #Nerdherd too much not to love the book anyway! A review/discussion on this book can be found here.

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4. Secret Of Souls by Aubrie Nixox

Aubrie was one of the first people that I followed on instagram, and, I was lucky enough to watch the final moments of her publication process! And even get in on some pre-order swag! SOS was different and unique, and she made me love the lover-boy sidekick and then wham! Broke my heart! But, still, I loved it, and I can’t wait to see what happened next! A review for that can also be found here.

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5. A Dogs Purpose by Bruce Cameron

How can anyone not like this book? Like Wonder, I read the book because the movie was out soon, and I loved it! But, how can you not like a talking/thinking dog? You can’t? So, yeah! A comparison review of the movie and the book can be found here.

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6. Six of Crows by Leigh Budargo

Six of Crows was one of those hype reads, and, I’ll be honest, in the first hundred pages, I thought it would be a book that I DNF’d. I could easily put it down and not pick it back up, but, somehow, I found the motivation to keep going, and I’m so glad I did! It is a really great book, and the world-building is phenomenal! Man, if I could world-build like Leigh does, I’d be on to a gold-mine! I have a review coming soon!

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7. Traitors Blade by Sebastien de Castell

Another thanks to BookBoxClub, because, obviously, I never would have found this guy without them, and I never would have found my own three musketeers, known as Falcio, Brasti and Kest! The humor used is consistent with Spellslinger, and it made it such an easy read because of it! The stories something I love too, so, all in all, another great book by, my top favourite author of 2017! The review will be coming soon!

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8. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Like Wonder, it’s one of those books that really pull on your heart-strings, and it made me wonder why I’d never read anything by Ness before! I loved the style and the story, and just everything about this book!

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9. One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

Another BookBoxClub read, OOUIL took a spot in the top ten just because it made me fall in love with mystery again! I really enjoy watching all the cop shows, and the detective shows, and I can’t wait for Lethal Weapon to start tonight, but, reading it was something else! I didn’t think I would enjoy it, but I did, and I now have a whole array of mystery books in my TBR, and some local authors there too, which is awesome! My review for OOUISL can be found here.

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10. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

I don’t think this is really a surprise. It was the first book I’ve read by Mr. Green, and again, I loved it! I’d already watched the movie about three years ago, and I couldn’t believe that it made me cry again, and again, and again. Like, I think it would make me cry every time I re-read it!!!

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This year, I’m hoping to read more books, experience more authors, and more genres, and just watch the bookish community grow! There are some awesome books coming out this year, and I can’t wait to read them (and review them)!

I have so many reviews back-logged though, and, most are the books I’ve mentioned here. I need to get on that!

What were your favourite books of 2017? I’d love to know! (Because I obviously need more recommendations to add to my TBR pile!)

Anyway, T.G.I.F! I have a busy-ish weekend due to the little brothers 21st birthday celebrations, but, I’m hoping to get a bit of reading and writing in there somewhere!

I’ll see you guys on Wednesday!

Jade!

A Girly Cut-Throat for Aubrie Nixons Debut (Secret of Souls Review)

Secret of Souls has been on my radar for a while! Since I joined the bookstagram community, I’ve been following Aubrie Nixon and been awaiting the release of her debut novel Secret of Souls! I look a good book with a strong female character in it, and that’s exactly what I got, with a hint of love for cinnamon rolls and dresses!

Summary (Goodreads)

The Empire of Lucent has stood for centuries as a beacon of strength and light. But now an otherworldly realm has unleashed an army of nightmarish creatures upon the peaceful empire, spreading a lethal plague called The Decay which consumes its victims mercilessly from the inside out.
The king of the Empire of Lucent calls upon “Lady of Death” Zephera Travelle—an infamous assassin with a weakness for braided cinnamon bread and a striking aptitude for murder and mayhem. He sends her on an impossible quest to find the one person who can concoct a cure and save the realm from total annihilation. Together with her best friend Zadkiel, mage extraordinaire Brenner, girly city-guard Oriana, and broody warrior Daegan, she embarks on a journey that will test her wits, will, and sanity. Along the way, she discovers that no one—and nothing—is as it seems, including herself.

So, first off, it was fast-paced, but not too fast-paced, I felt like she found the happy medium between and it really kept me engrossed! I love a book that doesn’t ramble and gets to the point, and I think it took me half the day to read it!

Zephera is also not your typical cut-throat, she’s not your typical fearless female. She has a girly side that she likes to indulge in, which I found quite different, and definitely gave her this soft, delicate side as well!

Aubrie also did the impossible! She made me like the childhood sweet-heart/friend guy. Normally, I just see them as the annoying little twits who are just there to cause trouble and be a pain in the ass when you want the protagonist to fall in love with someone else.

Well, to see how that ended, you need to read the book…

I loved the whole concept of this book, but there was something that threw me off a bit, and that was the public displays of affection that Zephera was involved in. Now, this girl ain’t scared to jump over a bar and ravish you for a free drink, but with one of the lovers, it seemed a tad bit out of place, for me, anyway.

Other than that, the only problem I have is that I have to wait for the next one to come out!

This book is a great debut novel for Aubrie Nixon, and I think, if she keeps this up, she can make something great!

Here is a close-up of the swag I received because I preordered Secret of Souls!

Until next time guys,

Just keep reading!

Jade x

The Cast’s bring back the #Nerdherd with HON: Otherworld Loved

I wasn’t sure about this book. As much as I love House of Night, despite all the stereotypical and cringe worthy ‘bullpoopie’, I was worried they wouldn’t be able to do anything more than what they’ve already done. Twelve books following the same group of people is a lot, and you could argue the fact that they dragged it out a bit.

When I first heard about it, I thought it would perhaps be a book about Nyx and the overworld, but all I had then was a title without a synopsis (which I obviously didn’t look at right, because ‘otherworld’ and ‘overworld’ are two different things).

Then, a bit more about the story came out, and I realised it followed on Zoey’s adventure, and the sort-of aftermath of the final House of Night books. I honestly thought it would be this same old-same old thing. That I would continue to read anyway because it’s just nostalgic, and teenage me was in love with it.

But, they did bring something different, they brought this whole new thing that I only understood towards the end of it.

And man, guys, I had all the feels again.

From Goodreads:

It’s Zoey’s eighteenth birthmas and the Nerd Herd has been scattered across the country busily adulting for almost a year when Stark calls them back to Tulsa to surprise Z. But all is not well in T-town. Strange, dark signs are appearing—could it be possible Neferet is stirring? Not willing to chance disaster striking again, Zoey calls on her newly reunited friends to circle with her and add a layer of protection over Neferet’s grotto jail. Easy-peasy, right?

Wrong. Nothing at the House of Night is ever as it seems.

With rabid red vampyres closing in, Zoey and the Nerd Herd must come together again and battle evil. But a year is a long time. Have these old friends grown too far apart?

When the world fractures and allies become enemies, will darkness devour friendships or will light save those she’s loved?

From Goodreads:

It’s Zoey’s eighteenth birthmas and the Nerd Herd has been scattered across the country busily adulting for almost a year when Stark calls them back to Tulsa to surprise Z. But all is not well in T-town. Strange, dark signs are appearing—could it be possible Neferet is stirring? Not willing to chance disaster striking again, Zoey calls on her newly reunited friends to circle with her and add a layer of protection over Neferet’s grotto jail. Easy-peasy, right?

Wrong. Nothing at the House of Night is ever as it seems.

With rabid red vampyres closing in, Zoey and the Nerd Herd must come together again and battle evil. But a year is a long time. Have these old friends grown too far apart?

When the world fractures and allies become enemies, will darkness devour friendships or will light save those she’s loved?

There are still things that irked me though. The language is childish, really childish sometimes, especially for what is supposed to be eighteen year old’s and it sort of doesn’t appeal to me as much as it did. I felt the same in the last book of HON, but I still read it anyway (I even put it off for the longest of times because I didn’t want the ourney to end). It’s almost feels like it borders on middle grade as well, when it’s supposed to be a YA book. What still makes me cringe is the fact that these adults don’t swear and say bullpoopie instead, except for Aphrodite…

And there was some things in it that just felt too easy, you know. I felt like a certain person shouldn’t have got off as easy as they did, but I’m trying to stay spoiler free for this part so I won’t say who. Lets just say that sometimes, you can be too merciful.

And, another thing I only noticed in this book was that sometimes, it almost felt like one of those scripted reality TV shows you see all the time, but, again, that’s more because of the language and the words they say. There were parts where the characters were like, ‘oh, this person went here because of this and I’m here’, and it just sounded too much like a bad tv show.

Despite that though, I enjoyed reading it. I finished it within two days, with work and all sorts in between, and it was so nice to be back in that world, even if some of it does seem a bit far-fetched sometimes; the joys of fantasy though, right?

All in all, despite my lists of negatives, and the more in depth reasons to follow in the spoiler part of this post – cause I need to vent somehow – it’s a good follow on, it’s P.C and Kristin to a tee, and they do it again and again, and is just the first book of this new series, which I am really excited about! And I can’t wait to read the next one! Which has been titled Lost and is already up for pre-order on Amazon!

All they need to do now is make sure it publishable in the UK so it doesn’t take so long to get to me!

Now in to the detail, all the irks and the problems that peed me the hell off.

Perhaps if you don’t want spoilers, you shouldn’t read this…

I’ll give you one more line to get out of here before I start giving spoilers and some ranty sort of stuff (more for my own benefit than others)

Now, if you’ve read it, I would love to know how you feel about the following, or of if you don’t care to read it, tell me if you think it should be more violent, or realistic… I guess.

So, other than a handful of red fledglings and a load of humans, none of which we really have any sort of connection with as a reader, no one dies, you know. And they even brought a very much dead Jack back to life, but obviously, it’s not thee Jack, but a different Jack, so perhaps it’s okay? I don’t know.

But, I felt like, the synopsis sort of said about this whole thing that was gonna happen, how a year might have been too long for the nerd herd to band together and be one, but there wasn’t much of any conflict between them that really stood out, nothing as drastic as I expected. Except for Aphrodite getting drunk, and Damien having a breakdown.

Also, the whole Aphrodite thing, the whole giving a piece of her humanity to someone without it. It’s believable, but the fact that Nyx just gives it to Jack and those other red fledglings and vampyres without Aphrodite losing any of hers, I felt was a bit of a cop-out. I feel like Aphrodite should have at least given one of them their humanity back herself. Perhaps, it’s all needed for the books to come, perhaps she’ll have a whole house of night to give her humanity too once it all ends. We’ll have to wait and see. And, I think she should die at the end of it too, not just die a human, or lose herself (I don’t know why I want more people to die, I just do. I’m in that bit of my own writing journey where I feel like I need to kill people off…)

And that whole Damien and depression thing that’s looked at. How did we not know about it before? How did it skip over all them books? Or did I miss something? Damien was always this strong gay guy, and not the depressed and sad one we saw throughout this book.

And I love Jack, but Jack should stay dead… And I really felt like he might have killed Duchess at one point too. I think that would have caused a bit of interesting conflict.

Although, I think I watch too much Game of Thrones and I think more people should die. Like, give me a significant death at least once a book.

And finally, this whole Heath thing. I almost thought that last bit was setting us up to follow Kevin on his journey in to the otherworld, and just have Zoey and the nerd herd be like the extra’s, maybe showing up every now and then when they send reds over to them. I’m not disappointed that their going to be playing a bigger role than I thought, I love them all, but I thought they could explore so much more with Kevin as the main protagonist, and his gang.

And, actually, if the world is the same on both sides, with the same vampyres and fledglings, how on earth is Kevin not a vampyre in Zoeys world? Did they explain that and I completely missed it?

If you’ve read it, I would love to hear your opinions on it, and whether or not you’re going to read the second book, either because you want to or for old-times sake!

And, if you’re a fellow writer, and you made it through all this ranting, do you think killing characters is an important part of writing a novel?

Birthday Celebrations Outlaws Unboxing

BooxBoxClub September 2017

This month, its BookBoxClubs Birthday, and to celebrate, they packed us a box full of goodies and treats, and, it was full to the brim! And, most of the items you’ll find here are exclusive to the bookboxclub and just made it all that much better!

The first thing I seen after I hid the info card so the box wasn’t spoilt for me, was this bookish tote bag! I love a good old bag, and the design is so pretty! It’s perfect for taking your books with you wherever you go, or buying more, and even my puppy decided he liked it enough to taste it!

The next thing to emerge from this lovely box of blue was a little note from Libby and Kate, and a little shortbread cookie, made by Nila Holden. It’s safe to say that the puppy didn’t get a taste of this, it was far too delicious to share, and went perfectly with my hot chocolate!

The next thing was a pair of Sante socks in honor of the heroine of Septembers featured read! Their so comfy and soft, and I don’t think they’ll last until the new year because I’ll wear them to death! And are the first pair of bookish socks I’ve ever had, so that’s gonna add a whole new concept to my bookish #SockSunday!

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Next, was this gorgeous little magnetic bookmark by Marked by Hephaestus and it is so adorable, and such good quality! It’s in the shape of the most outlawish outlaw of all, Robin Hood! I’ve been waiting to get one of these, and it’s just wonderful! It’s also one of this months exclusive items!

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The next bookish goodie to catch my eye was this little letter set inspired by four of our favourite bookish outlaws of all time – the marauders! It comes with three different prints x 2 with some gorgeous little orange envelopes so you have three to put up on your wall and three to send off to your friends! They’d make great little postcards!

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This box also featured a second book, and I got ‘How to hang a witch by Adirana Mather’, an arc that doesn’t come out until January 2018! It’s a perfect book to read for October, and I’m looking forward to it so much! The cover is also very glossy, so trying to get a photo was a bit of a hinderance!

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I took the featured book out next, but before I unwrapped it, I looked in the back of the box and found a few more things!

Hidden among the crinkled blue paper was this little lip balm inspired by Inej, one of the characters from Six of Crows that I still haven’t read yet! Its on the TBB list, don’t worry! I’ve heard too much about it not to get it! It was designed by Oriandle and was another exclusive to this box! It smells so good, you want to eat it!

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Next was a pencil set inspired by John Green! I can add them in to my John Green pencil case now!

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And, as always, some book promo! This month there were two samplers, which I think is great that they include, and a beautiful postcard! I’ve not heard of any of the books, but they all sound amazing and are books I would love to see on my shelves!

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Lastly, I unwrapped this months featured book, a signed hardback called A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe!

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The story goes: Sante was just a baby when she was ashore, seemingly the only survivor of a tragic sinking of  ship carrying migrants and refugees. Fourteen years on, she’s a member of Mama Rose’s unique and dazzling circus. But, from their watery grave, Sante’s people call her to avenge them!

It sounds like an interesting book, and Sante is a younger protagonist, sort of a between middle-grade and YA that I haven’t seen much of so I’m excited to delve in to her world and see how her journey changes her!

And obviously, included was an invite to the book club meeting where you get to meet the author and talk about everything and anything Sante! I wasn’t able to participate much in this months book club chat, but can I just say, it got a bit saucy at times and had me belly laughing some times! These group of people could have their own talk show!

Again, like every other month, this box was wonderful, and although I still deeply love my first book box ‘Wizards at War‘, this may be my new favourite, but I’ll wait to see how the book pans out first! I also can’t thank Libby and Kate enough for what they do!

Next months box is Legands and Myths, so if you love Narnia and Game of Thrones, this is the book box you need to be subscribed too! But, be quick! Their almost sold out!

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