Teaser Tuesdays: Tombland


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: September 08 |

Tombland

Book Seven of the Matthew Shardlake Series

by C.J. Sansom

Historical Crime Fiction | 882 Pages | Published by Mantle in 2018


“As I ate with my fingers, I thought that even a fortnight ago the idea of living in such conditions would have horrified me. The strange thing was that, despite the heat, with the bracken bed and regular movement, I was feeling better than for some time; my body more like a functioning organism than a disjointed collection of aching parts, though after my recent injury I still had to be careful.

~ Chapter Forty-Five | Page 444 | Tombland by C.J. Sansom


| Synopsis |

England, 1549: Two years after the death of Henry VIII, England is sliding into chaos…

The nominal king, Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, rules as Protector. The extirpation of the old religion by radical Protestants is stirring discontent among the populace while the Protector’s prolonged war with Scotland is proving a disastrous failure and threatens to involve France. Worst of all, the economy is in collapse, inflation rages and rebellion is stirring among the peasantry.

Since the old King’s death, Matthew Shardlake has been working as a lawyer in the service of Henry’s younger daughter, the Lady Elizabeth. The gruesome murder of Edith Boleyn, the wife of John Boleyn – a distant Norfolk relation of Elizabeth’s mother – which could have political implications for Elizabeth, brings Shardlake and his assistant Nicholas Overton to the summer assizes at Norwich. There they are reunited with Shardlake’s former assistant Jack Barak. The three find layers of mystery and danger surrounding Edith’s death, as a second murder is committed.

And then East Anglia explodes, as peasant rebellion breaks out across the country. The yeoman Robert Kett leads a force of thousands in overthrowing the landlords and establishing a vast camp outside Norwich. Soon the rebels have taken over the city, England’s second largest.

Barak throws in his lot with the rebels; Nicholas, opposed to them, becomes a prisoner in Norwich Castle; while Shardlake has to decide where his ultimate loyalties lie, as government forces in London prepare to march north and destroy the rebels. Meanwhile he discovers that the murder of Edith Boleyn may have connections reaching into both the heart of the rebel camp and of the Norfolk gentry…

Amazon Book Depository | Goodreads


| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

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This Week by Proxy: 31 August – 06 September


Welcome to This Week by Proxy. Join me as I link up with the Caffeinated Reviewer to look back on the past week and see what I’ve been reading, posting, watching and playing!


| This Week by Proxy: 31 August – 06 September 2020 |

Having not had a holiday in over six months, the other half and I made our way to the Lake District on Monday and spent the next four days reading books (or playing on the Switch), exploring the local landscape and visiting remote and ruined castles. It was wonderfully relaxing, completely peaceful and I only wish our stay could have been for just a bit longer.

The weekend, however, was spent picnicking in the park with my stepdaughter, visiting my mum and dad on their narrowboat, and relaxing with many a good book. Brilliant fun all round!

I hope you’ve all had a fantastic week and I will try to catch up on all the posts I’ve missed over the next few days! 


| Books Read |

Over the past week I completed both ‘The Trouble with Peace’ by Joe Abercrombie and ‘The Doors of Eden’ by Adrian Tchaikovsky and still managed to squeeze in a little Pratchett before the end. All different, all brilliant, and all a joy to read from beginning to end!


| Currently Reading |

This week I’m continuing to read ‘The Court of Broken Knives’, a brutal but beautifully written grimdark fantasy epic by Anna Smith Spark. Unfortunately, in my haste to pack my Kindle, I forgot to bring the book with me to the Lake District and I’m a little further behind than I wanted to be. I did, however, manage to pick up a wonderful assortment of books in the Kindle sale and have started ‘Tombland’, the seventh book in the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom.

I am also taking part in the Read-Along for Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, organised by Imyril at There’s Always Room for One More. My Week One post, which covers Chapters 1 – 16, can be found here. If anyone would like to join in with this Read-Along, just head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up.


| Upcoming Reviews |

Having spent an entire week on holiday (and most of that time spent reading!) I am even more behind on the review front, but will hopefully get a few out in the coming week! Every single one of these books was amazing so expect a whole host of glowing reviews!


| Watching |

Season One of Absentia was both an enjoyable and exasperating experience. Stana Katic was incredible as Emily Byrne and the overall plot was tense and unpredictable, but Nick Durand, Emily’s ex-husband and FBI agent, was an incredibly frustrating character who treated Emily like dirt, had serious trust issues, and couldn’t find a clue if it was stapled to his face.  He annoyed me so much I almost stopped watching altogether. However, I am glad I continued as it did have quite a gripping plot and Season Two is proving a far less rage-inducing experience.

Meanwhile, the other half and I are watching Season Five of Lucifer, which is as lighthearted and comedic as ever, and Season Two of The Boys, which is both brutal and bloody brilliant.


| Gaming |

As the past week has been spent in literary bliss up in the Lake District, I’ve only had time for a few short but sweet games of Apex Legends since our return.


| Posts |

Review: The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

 

Music Mondays: Gurdy’s Green

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Foodie Book Covers

Teaser Tuesdays: Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

Waiting on Wednesday: God of Night by Tom Lloyd

Read-Along: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey – Week One

The Friday Face-Off: Cold and Crisp

My Top Ten Games of the Past Two Years


I hope you all have a wonderful, book-filled week!

What have you been reading, watching and playing this week? Have you accomplished any goals?

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My Top Ten Games of the Past Two Years


Welcome to My Top Ten of the Past Two Years series, where I look back at my favourite books, games and TV series (amongst other things) during my blogging hiatus.


| My Top Ten Games of the Past Two Years: July 2018 – July 2020 |

A long overdue welcome to My Top Ten Games of the Past Two Years!

It had been my intention to post a series of favourites gathered during my hiatus, kicking off with My Top Ten Books of the Past Two Years, but time, work and other commitments always conspired to delay my posts. In anticipation of going on holiday last week, however, I actually finished my gaming post and only had to up my game time for Apex Legends by another thirty-four hours!

As this post has been partially drafted since my return at the beginning of July, there are also a number of games I’ve recently picked up which deserve an honourable mention and will more than likely feature on next year’s list – I’m looking at you Red Dead Redemption 2, No Man’s Sky and GTFO. I’m sure there are also plenty of other brilliant games that I’ve either forgotten or am yet to play so let me know of any of your favourites in the comments.

In no particular order, here are My Top Ten Games of the Past Two Years!


| 1. |

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Play Time: 174 Hours

Rating


| My Thoughts |

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a phenomenal open-world RPG set in medieval Bohemia. With interesting mechanics, an expansive and detailed medieval world, a gripping storyline, and some of the best graphics I have seen, every hour spent in this world seems to lead to yet one more. This is quite simply a masterpiece.

Favourite Quest – Poverty, Chastity and Obedience

Favourite Location – Sasau Monastery

Favourite Skill – Alchemy


| About This Game |

Game

You’re Henry, the son of a blacksmith. Thrust into a raging civil war, you watch helplessly as invaders storm your village and slaughter your friends and family. Narrowly escaping the brutal attack, you grab your sword to fight back. Avenge the death of your parents and help repel the invading forces!

Story

Bohemia – located in the heart of Europe, the region is rich in culture, silver, and sprawling castles. The death of its beloved ruler, Emperor Charles IV, has plunged the kingdom into dark times: war, corruption, and discord are tearing this jewel of the Holy Roman Empire apart.

One of Charles’ sons, Wenceslas, has inherited the crown. Unlike his father, Wenceslas is a naive, self-indulgent, unambitious monarch. His half-brother and King of Hungary, Sigismund the Red Fox, senses weakness in Wenceslas. Feigning good will, Sigismund travels to Bohemia and kidnaps his half-brother. With no king on the throne, Sigismund is now free to plunder Bohemia and seize its riches.

In the midst of this chaos, you’re Henry, the son of a blacksmith. Your peaceful life is shattered when a mercenary raid, ordered by King Sigismund himself, burns your village to the ground. By bittersweet fortune, you are one of the few survivors of this massacre.

Without a home, family, or future you end up in the service of Lord Radzig Kobyla, who is forming a resistance against the invasion. Fate drags you into this bloody conflict and shoves you into a raging civil war, where you help fight for the future of Bohemia.

Massive realistic open world: Majestic castles, vast fields, all rendered in stunning high-end graphics.

Non-linear story: Solve quests in multiple ways, then face the consequences of your decisions.

Challenging combat: Distance, stealth, or melee. Choose your weapons and execute dozens of unique combos in battles that are as thrilling as they are merciless.

Character development: Choose your equipment, improve your skills and earn new perks.

Dynamic world: Your actions influence the reactions of the people around you. Fight, steal, seduce, threaten, persuade, or bribe. It’s all up to you!

Historical accuracy: Meet real historical characters and experience the genuine look and feel of medieval Bohemia


| 2. |

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Play Time: 161 Hours

Rating


| My Thoughts |

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is an expansive, detailed and thoroughly addictive game which follows the life of a mercenary in Ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian War. It may diverge from the original AC games but it is a worthy contender in its own right. With stunning locations, and a multitude of quests, side quests and DLCs, Odyssey is a game that I couldn’t put down until I completed Every. Last. Thing.

Played As – Kassandra

Favourite Location – Greece (There are too many wonderful locations to choose from!)

Favourite Ability – Rush Assassination


| About This Game |

Become a legendary Greek hero – In a first for the Assassin’s Creed franchise, you can choose which hero to embody throughout this epic journey, Alexios or Kassandra.

Choose your own path – Your decisions shape the world around you with over 30 hours of choice dialogue and multiple game endings.

Fight epic battles – Demonstrate your extraordinary warrior abilities and shift the tides of battle during the Peloponnesian War.

Sail across the Aegean sea – Find uncharted locations, uncover hidden treasures or cleave your way through entire fleets in naval battles.

A Land of myths & legends – Discover a world rich with myths and legends. From ancient rituals to famed statues, come face-to-face with Greece’s legendary figures.


| 3. |

Apex Legends

Play Time: 494 Hours

Rating


| My Thoughts |

Before Apex Legends, Battle Royale style first-person shooters just weren’t my thing, but this game is seriously addictive. With numerous legends, weapons and drop sites to choose from, this is a heart-pounding, infuriating and inexplicably exciting FPS that always has me going for ‘just one more game’.

Favourite Legend – Wattson

Favourite Weapon – Spitfire

Favourite Map – King’s Canyon


| About This Game |

Conquer with character in Apex Legends, a free-to-play Battle Royale shooter where legendary characters with powerful abilities team up to battle for fame & fortune on the fringes of the Frontier. Master an ever-growing roster of diverse Legends, deep tactical squad play and bold new innovations that level up the Battle Royale experience—all within a rugged world where anything goes. Welcome to the next evolution of Battle Royale.

A Roster of Legendary Characters – Master a growing roster of powerful Legends, each with their own unique personality, strengths and abilities that are easy to pick up but challenging to truly master.

Build Your Crew – Choose your Legend and combine their unique skills together with other players to form the ultimate crew.

Strategic Battle Royale – Use your abilities–and your wits–to make strategic calls on the fly, adapting your crew’s strengths to meet new challenges as the match evolves.

Genre-Evolving Innovation – Experience a brand-new array of innovative features that level up the Battle Royale genre, including Respawn Beacons, Smart Comms, Intelligent Inventory and an all-new way to drop into the action with Jumpmaster deployment.

Sweet, Sweet Loot – Drop in and loot up with a host of powerful weapons, diverse attachments and useful armor to protect you in battle. After the fight, collect a wealth of cosmetic options for personalizing your character and weapons, and unlock new ways to show off during the match.


| 4. |

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Play Time: 36 Hours

Rating


| My Thoughts |

Written by Rhianna Pratchett, the daughter of Sir Terry Pratchett himself, Rise of the Tomb Raider is an action-packed adventure game which balances puzzle games with both face-to-face and stealth combat. With a brilliant story, beautiful graphics, and perilous and frozen landscapes, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a seriously addictive adventure.

Favourite Location – Geothermal Valley

Favourite Feature – Challenge Tombs

Favourite DLC – Blood Ties


| About This Game |

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration includes the base game and Season Pass featuring all-new content. Explore Croft Manor in the new “Blood Ties” story, then defend it against a zombie invasion in “Lara’s Nightmare”. Survive extreme conditions with a friend in the new online Co-Op Endurance mode, and brave the new “Extreme Survivor” difficulty. Also features an outfit and weapon inspired by Tomb Raider III, and 5 classic Lara skins. Existing DLC will challenge you to explore a new tomb that houses an ancient terror in Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, and combat waves of infected predators in Cold Darkness Awakened.

Key Features

Lara’s Journey – Lara uncovers an ancient mystery that places her in the cross-hairs of a ruthless organization known as Trinity. As she races to find the secret before Trinity, the trail leads to a myth about the Lost City of Kitezh. Lara knows she must reach the Lost City and its hidden secrets before Trinity. With that, she sets out for Siberia on her first Tomb Raiding expedition.

Woman vs. Wild – In “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” Lara battles with not only enemies from around the world, but the world itself. Hunt animals to craft weapons and scavenge for rare resources in densely populated ecosystems. You’ll encounter beautifully hostile environments, full of treacherous conditions and unstable landscapes that will require Lara to push her limits to the very edge.

Guerilla Combat – Use the environment to your advantage, scale trees and dive underwater to avoid or takedown enemies, configure Lara’s gear, weapons, and ammo to suit your play style from stealth to guns blazing, craft explosives on the fly to sow chaos, and wield Lara’s signature combat bows and climbing axe.

Return to Tomb Raiding – Tombs are back, and they’re bigger and better than ever. In “Rise of the Tomb Raider” you’ll explore huge, awe-inspiring ancient spaces littered with deadly traps, solve dramatic environmental puzzles, and decipher ancient texts to reveal crypts as you take on a world filled with secrets to discover.


| 5. |

Warhammer: Vermintide II

Play Time: 37 Hours

Rating


| My Thoughts |

Warhammer: Vermintide II is an action-packed combat game in which you must join up with others to vanquish the Skaven horde. With a wonderful array of characters with a wide range of builds, alternating skills, talents and difficulties, Vermintide II is an incredibly fun game which is reminiscent of the mechanics for Left 4 Dead 2.

Favourite Character – Victor Saltzpyer

Favourite Career – Witch Hunter

Favourite Quote – “The power of Sigmar compels thee!”


| About This Game |

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is a 4-player co-op action game set in the Warhammer Fantasy Battles world. Sequel to the critically acclaimed Vermintide, Vermintide 2 is the latest instalment in a franchise best known for its intense and bloody first-person melee combat.

Our five heroes have returned to take on an even greater threat than before – the combined forces of a ruinous Chaos army and the swarming Skaven horde. The only thing standing between utter defeat and victory is you and your allies. If you fall – so too will the Empire.

Fight through endless hordes of enemies together with up to 3 friends in this visceral co-op action experience

Choose between 5 different characters, each with 3 branching careers to master

Evolve your skill and climb the difficulty ladders, from Recruit, Veteran, Champion to Legend

Customize your own unique style of play with 15 different talent trees and 50+ Weapon Types

Explore the war-ravaged lands of a dying world with a wide range of stunning levels to experience


| 6. |

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Play Time: 157 Hours

Rating


| My Thoughts |

An utterly compelling story (thank you Andrzej Sapkowski), brilliant combat, beautiful graphics and amazing DLC, combine to make The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt one of the most brilliant, beautiful and detailed games of all time. This is, most definitely, an undisputed favourite which needs no more introduction.

Favourite Location – Novigrad

Favourite Sign – Igni

Yennefer or Triss – Yennefer


| About This Game |

Play as a highly-trained monster slayer for hire

Trained from early childhood and mutated to gain superhuman skills, strength and reflexes, witchers are a counterbalance to the monster-infested world in which they live.

Gruesomely destroy foes as a professional monster hunter armed with a range of upgradeable weapons, mutating potions and combat magic.

Hunt down a wide range of exotic monsters — from savage beasts prowling the mountain passes, to cunning supernatural predators lurking in the shadows of densely populated towns.

Invest your rewards to upgrade your weaponry and buy custom armour, or spend them away in horse races, card games, fist fighting, and other pleasures the night brings.

Explore a morally indifferent fantasy open world

Built for endless adventure, the massive open world of The Witcher sets new standards in terms of size, depth and complexity.

Traverse a fantastical open world: explore forgotten ruins, caves and shipwrecks, trade with merchants and dwarven smiths in cities, and hunt across the open plains, mountains and seas.

Deal with treasonous generals, devious witches and corrupt royalty to provide dark and dangerous services.

Make choices that go beyond good & evil, and face their far-reaching consequences.

Chase down the child of prophecy

Take on the most important contract to track down the child of prophecy, a key to save or destroy this world.

In times of war, chase down the child of prophecy, a living weapon foretold by ancient elven legends.

Struggle against ferocious rulers, spirits of the wilds and even a threat from beyond the veil – all hell-bent on controlling this world.

Define your destiny in a world that may not be worth saving.


| 7. |

Assassin’s Creed Origins

Play Time: 89 Hours

Rating


| My Thoughts |

Assassin’s Creed Origins combines a beautiful, heart-wrenching story, a vast and beautiful open-world, and an incredibly addictive combat system to create a brilliant game in one of my favourite franchises. Ancient Egypt is conjured in wonderfully atmospheric detail and Bayek of Siwa is undoubtedly one of my favourite AC characters of all time.

Favourite Weapon – Predator Bow

Favourite Location – Alexandria

Favourite Ability – Attack and Push


| About This Game |

Ancient Egypt, a land of majesty and intrigue, is disappearing in a ruthless fight for power. Unveil dark secrets and forgotten myths as you go back to the one founding moment: The Origins of the Assassin’s Brotherhood.

A Country to Discover – Sail down the Nile, uncover the mysteries of the pyramids or fight your way against dangerous ancient factions and wild beasts as you explore this gigantic and unpredictable land.

A New Story Every Time You Play – Engage into multiple quests and gripping stories as you cross paths with strong and memorable characters, from the wealthiest high-born to the most desperate outcasts.

Embrace Action RPG -Experience a completely new way to fight. Loot and use dozens of weapons with different characteristics and rarities. Explore deep progression mechanics and challenge your skills against unique and powerful bosses.


| 8. |

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Play Time: 15 Hours

Rating


| My Thoughts |

A Plague Tale: Innocence is a beautiful and terrifying tale of a world ravaged by plague. This short and captivating game sees Amicia and her brother Hugo flee across France as disease, swarms of rats and the Inquisition vie to capture or destroy them both. Gripping and heart-wrenching with a brilliant narrative, A Plague Tale is nothing short of incredible.

Favourite Location – The University

Favourite Projectile – Ignifer

Favourite Villain – Lord Nicholas


| About This Game |

Follow the grim tale of young Amicia and her little brother Hugo, in a heartrending journey through the darkest hours of history. Hunted by Inquisition soldiers and surrounded by unstoppable swarms of rats, Amicia and Hugo will come to know and trust each other. As they struggle to survive against overwhelming odds, they will fight to find purpose in this brutal, unforgiving world.

Story

1349. The plague ravages the Kingdom of France. Amicia and her younger brother Hugo are pursued by the Inquisition through villages devastated by the disease. On their way, they will have to join forces with other children, and evade swarms of rats using fire and light. Aided only by the link that binds their fates together, they will face untold horrors in their struggle to survive.As their adventure begins… the time of innocence ends.

Characters

Amicia De Rune – At just 15 years old, Amicia is already a strong woman, independent and physical, trained by her father in the art of hunting. She had little contact with her brother while they were growing up, but soon their bond will be keeping them alive.

Hugo De Rune – The younger Hugo is a frail child of just five years, afflicted with an unknown disease that has kept him locked in his room for much of his lonely childhood. He has little knowledge of the outside world, but prefers even its dangers to his previous confinement.

The Inquisition – As war and sickness engulf 14th Century France, the Inquisition pursue the De Rune children for unknown reasons, out to capture their younger targets. Lacking the strength to defeat fully-grown knights, Amicia and Hugo will require guile and stealth to escape.

The Rats – Rats swarm in uninterrupted waves throughout the territory of France. In the plague-ridden villages, countryside and battlefields, this uncontrollable and voracious mass advances relentlessly devouring everything in their path. Only the light of the flame seems to slow down this swarming menace.


| 9. |

Warframe

Play Time: 237 Hours

Rating


| My Thoughts |

This free to play, sci-fi action game is expansive and detailed with a huge variety of warframes, weapons and companions to choose from. The storyline is interesting, the combat and abilities are wonderfully creative, and the movement is so fluid that it’s hard not to expect other game characters to bullet jump or sprint across levels.

Favourite Warframe – Trinity Prime

Favourite Sentinel – Helios Prime

Favourite Location – Lua


| About This Game |

Choose your warframe – With more than 30 Warframes, each fully customizable with their own unique abilities, you can create the perfect Warframe for you.

Assemble your arsenal – Katanas. Crossbows. Flamethrowers. Expand your Arsenal with more than 300 diverse Weapons, then modify each one to match your playstyle.

Experience fast-paced combat – Slice and dice through hordes of enemies, or go in guns blazing, or sneak your way in — the choice is yours.

Explore open worlds – Explore, discover, fight, and fly in massive open landscapes within Warframe.

Fluid parkour movement – Seamlessly leap, slide and glide through capital ships and underground compounds with a robust movement system.

A solar system in ruin – In the far-future world of Warframe, grotesque clones and capitalist machines dominate our solar system. Fight back against greed and corruption as you explore 18 worlds filled with techno-organic horrors.

Squad up – You don’t have to work alone. Invite three friends or fight alongside the 38 million strong in our Tenno community.

Ninjas play free – Warframe is entirely free-to-play. With no barrier to entry, there’s nothing to stop you and your friends from joining our world. Welcome to the Origin System, Tenno.


| 10. |

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Play Time: 38 Hours

Rating


Continuing the narrative of Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is another brilliant addition to the franchise which sees Lara venturing to the tropical regions of The Americas and to the lost city of Paititi. With brilliant challenge tombs, puzzles and combat, and beautiful graphics and locations, I only hope it won’t be too long before before another Tomb Raider is underway.

Favourite Location – San Juan

Favourite Mission – Via Crucis / Mystery of the White Queen

Favourite Challenge Tomb – Howl of the Monkey Gods


| Back of the Box |

n Shadow of the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition experience the final chapter of Lara’s origin as she is forged into the Tomb Raider she is destined to be. Combining the base game, all seven DLC challenge tombs, as well as all downloadable weapons, outfits, and skills, Shadow of the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition is the ultimate way to experience Lara’s defining moment.

Survive and Thrive In the Deadliest Place on Earth: Master an unforgiving jungle setting in order to survive. Explore underwater environments filled with crevasses and deep tunnel systems.

Become One With the Jungle: Outgunned and outnumbered, Lara must use the jungle to her advantage. Strike suddenly and disappear like a jaguar, use mud as camouflage, and instill fear in enemies to sow chaos.

Discover Dark and Brutal Tombs: Tombs are more terrifying than ever before, requiring advanced traversal techniques to reach them, and once inside they are filled with deadly puzzles.

Uncover Living History: Discover a hidden city and explore the biggest hub space ever found in a Tomb Raider game.


Stay tuned for my follow up posts:

My Top Ten TV Series of the Past Two Years 


What have been your favourite games of the past few years?

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The Friday Face-Off: Cold and Crisp


Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe. Check out Lynn’s-Books for upcoming themes!


White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi


Welcome to the Friday Face-Off where this week we’re comparing covers with a cold and wintry feel!

Fortunately, I had spotted White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi whilst writing another blog post and it was a perfect and beautiful fit for this week’s face-off.

This week’s offerings are the Picador 2009 cover versus the Picador 2010 cover with artwork by Jon Klassen. Take a look and see which one is your favourite!


Picador 2009 | Cover #1

Picador 2010 | Cover #2

Artwork by Jon Klassen


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

Both these covers are beautiful, simple and follow a similar theme. The Picador 2009 cover works in paper cut silhouettes with fruits, paintings and skulls hidden amongst the branches of the trees. The darkened house sits comfortably in the shade of the trees with the white trees shadowing the black in the foreground.

The wonderfully witchy typeface that graces both covers stands out in bold red on the Picador 2010 cover. The composition is a darker, more dramatic and more atmospheric version of the 2009 edition – The trees are tall, spiny and angular; the sky is a smokey, leaf blown off-white; and the house with its singular glowing window emerges from the dark, dark ground. As lovely as the 2009 cover is, it doesn’t come close to the more sophisticated and infinitely more creepy 2010 cover.

Which cover wins your vote this week? Have a cover of your own? – Post the link below!

Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads


Next week’s theme is:

Patterns

A cover featuring a pattern

Remember to check Lynn’s Books for upcoming themes


| Links |

Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

Lynn @ Lynn’s Books

Mogsy @ The BiblioSanctum

Steve @ Books and Beyond Reviews

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Read-Along: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey – Week One


Welcome to the Kushiel’s Dart Read-Along, where week by week we read and explore the first in the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. If anyone would like to join in with this Read-Along, just head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up.



| Week One |

Welcome to the first post in the Kushiel’s Dart Read-Along, where week by week we read and explore the first in the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. If anyone would like to join in with this Read-Along, just head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up.

The first novel in the Kushiel’s Legacy series has got off to a rather slow start but, while I’m not fully invested in Phèdre or the Night Court just yet, I am keen to see how the narrative unfolds in this popular fantasy read. This week Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More has some juicy questions to kick off the Read-Along in which I’ll discuss the elements of the narrative I enjoyed and those that weren’t entirely to my taste.

Be warned – there will be spoilers!


| The Questions |

| 1. |

You know it’s an epic fantasy when it starts with not only a map but a list of Dramatis Personae. How do you feel about this approach to beginning a new story? Do you read the character list or use it for reference along the way?

I am always here for a map, and the more of them the merrier!

I don’t often read through Dramatis Personae, unless I am starting a subsequent book in a series and need a bit of a refresh, but I have no problem with either starting or ending a book with one, especially when there are so many characters with incredibly florid names.


| 2. |

What are your first impressions of Elua and his Companions, and of D’Angeline culture? Are you comfortable with the way in which Jacqueline Carey has re-imagined the world?

This romanticised and dreamlike take on our world is interesting and detailed, if a little too idealised. There is an incredible amount of information to take in at this stage, and the florid language only serves to add another layer of complexity to a world which is already verging on the confusing for this first time reader.

| 3. |

Phèdre’s story begins in the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers. What are your thoughts on the Court, its adepts, the service of Naamah and the earning of marques? What House would you patronise – or belong to?

The Court of Night-Blooming Flowers is one of the most confusing, disturbing and interesting aspects of this novel so far.  The Night Court is described in such a way that it seems as though it is the centre of noble society – a society seemingly made entirely of courtesans. Now I understand this is probably confusion on my part but, apart from the vaguest hints, where are all the other citizens? What do they do when they don’t belong to the Night Court or use its services? I know there’s only so much that can be put into these overlong opening chapters but I found this lack of clarity very confusing.

I also found the aspect that children grow up to serve Namaah and are essentially groomed to join one of thirteen houses of the Night Court incredibly disturbing and off-putting. While the children, Alcuin and Phèdre included, do make their own choice to serve Namaah when they ‘come of age’, and I’m all for sex positivity, it is a choice bred of grooming, psychological manipulation and a lack of worldly knowledge and I’m not entirely comfortable with that. There also seems to be much buying and trading of flesh between houses which amounts to little more than slavery. These aspects of the novel make me incredibly uneasy and I find Phèdre’s obsessive desire at such a young age, and the desire of numerous adults for those who can only be considered children, unbelievably disturbing.

| 4. |

Guy, Alcuin and Phèdre are all devoted to the mysterious Anafiel Delaunay. Do you think he deserves their love? For first time readers, what are your theories about his past – and what do you think he is trying to achieve?

Both Alcuin and Phèdre seem content to blindly follow Delaunay to the ends of the earth, even though his motives are most certainly not clear at this stage. He  treats them well, or as well as you could treat someone you’ve bought with the intention of controlling, but he is not entirely honest and his protégés most definitely hero-worship with little thought to the reasons behind their purchase.

| 5. |

What do you make of Phèdre’s choice of signale?

Phèdre’s choice of signale is both sad and beautiful. To have but one true friend in the world who doesn’t require anything in return for that friendship highlights what a lonely existence children of the Night Court lead. I am all here for Phèdre and Hyacinthe’s honest, beautiful and roguish friendship.

| 6. |

Last but not least, the big week one check-in: now that you have seen a Showing and witnessed Phèdre’s first assignation, are you still in?

While, for me, this was something of a slow start which wades through much of Phèdre’s childhood in excessive, flowery detail, the incredible number of good reviews from so many respected reviewers means I am more than happy to stick with it in hope that the narrative will soon start to kick off. I’m also looking forward to enjoying the story from Phèdre’s adult perspective as I find the childhood sexualisation and servitude somewhat disturbing.


| The Schedule |

Week One

[ Thursday 03rd September ]

Chapters 1 – 16 – hosted by Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More

Week Two

[ Thursday 10th September ]

Chapters 17 – 31 – hosted by Susan at Dab of Darkness

Week Three

[ Thursday 17th September ]

Chapters 32 – 47 – hosted by Zezee at Zezee with Books

Week Four

[ Thursday 24th September ]

Chapters 48 – 61 – hosted by Mayri at BookForager

Week 5

[Thursday 01st October ]

Chapters 62 – 79 – hosted by Peat Long at Peat Long’s Blog

Week 4

[ Thursday 08th October ]

Chapters 80 – End – hosted by Lisa at Dear Geek Place

If anyone would like to join in with this Read-Along, just head on over to the Goodreads group page and sign up.


Stay tuned for Week Two of this Read Along on 10th September

What are your thoughts on this week’s instalment of Kushiel’s Dart?

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Review: The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor



The Ashes of London

Book One of Marwood and Lovett

by Andrew Taylor

Historical Fiction | 496 Pages | Published by Harper Collins in 2016


| Rating |


| TL;DR |

As the Great Fire rages and the utter devastation of London becomes ever more apparent, murder, mayhem and conspiracy abound. In order to protect both himself and his father, James Marwood must solve the unfolding mystery as it cuts dangerously close to both home and the crown.

Wonderfully descriptive and incredibly evocative throughout, The Ashes of London is a feast for the senses that had me guessing to the very end.

| Synopsis |

London, September 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Even the impregnable cathedral of St. Paul’s is engulfed in flames and reduced to ruins. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, and reluctant government informer.

In the aftermath of the fire, a semi-mummified body is discovered in the ashes of St. Paul’s, in a tomb that should have been empty. The man’s body has been mutilated and his thumbs have been tied behind his back.

Under orders from the government, Marwood is tasked with hunting down the killer across the devastated city. But at a time of dangerous internal dissent and the threat of foreign invasion, Marwood finds his investigation leads him into treacherous waters – and across the path of a determined, beautiful and vengeful young woman.

| Review |

A raging inferno. A mysterious young woman. A cold-blooded murder. As the Great Fire consumes all in its path, James Marwood, the son of a former traitor and a government clerk, becomes embroiled in murder and conspiracy as a body is pulled from the ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral. With the circumstances surrounding the victim’s death going well beyond the inferno, and talk of dark and dangerous conspiracies abound, Marwood must unravel a mystery which comes uncomfortably close to home.

Written with historical and atmospheric detail, The Ashes of London weaves a tale of freedom, murder and rightful vengeance amidst the flames and destruction of The Great Fire of London. Six years have passed since Charles II returned to the thrown and the pursuit of those who sentenced his father still holds the country in a vice of fear and distrust. As tales of murder and violence emerge from the ruins of the city, it becomes ever more apparent that a dark and dangerous conspiracy may be gaining traction in the heart of London itself.

Amidst the crumbling ruins of the old city, a tale of old enemies, bitter betrayals and freedom emerges as the protagonists, James Marwood and Catherine Lovett, vie to survive in the death throes of the old city and escape the sins of their fathers. From the raging inferno and crumbling city, to the ensuing fear and chaos, Andrew Taylor has written a rich and evocative novel which breaths life into the 17th century and conjures an atmosphere of tension, fear and suspicion.

With Utopian visions of Christopher Wren’s London, and the frightening, desolate comparison of a devastated city, the true strength of The Ashes of London is the evocative quality of Taylor’s writing as Restoration England comes to life. The plot steadily winds its way through these stark descriptions, which in no way hinders the tension developed in the ensuing chaos, to portray a city of profound corruption, excessive greed and unexpected optimism.

James Marwood, our first-person point of view character, is a likeable and interesting protagonist who finds himself in a number of hopeless situations as he hunts for a killer across the crumbling ruins of London. Whisked into plots far beyond his control, he must jump to the whims of his masters whilst protecting his ageing and ailing father who, as an ex-prisoner of the crown, often lets slip his treasonous views to the detriment of both himself and his son. As the narrative weaves a complex tale of treachery and murder, James must skilfully navigate both the dangerous streets of London and the upper echelons of society.

In alternating chapters, the story shifts from the first person perspective of James Marwood to the third person perspective of Catherine Lovett, daughter of a puritanical traitor. Cat is a gifted and unusual female (for her day), who whiles away the hours drawing and reinventing London under the watchful of eye of her aunt and uncle. But all is not as it seems in their household as Cat undergoes cruel manipulation and abuse at the hands of her family. Strong, forceful and fiercely independent in a world where she has few friends, Cat is a character whose traumatic life spurs her to live, to survive and to pursue those passions which give her both hope and a reason to live.

Andrew Taylor has written an incredibly vivid tale which relishes in detail, description and atmosphere. As James and Cat’s narratives circle one another in a tense and skilfully plotted tale, their stories converge in a satisfying conclusion which leaves neither king nor pauper untouched. With characters portrayed with as much verve as the city itself, The Ashes of London undoubtedly proves that Taylor’s reputation for both historic and crime fiction is unashamedly deserved.

The Ashes of London is a beautifully detailed and skilfully written novel which had me guessing to the very end. With a narrative paced by its descriptive and atmospheric journey through London, this is a novel to be savoured as the lines between good and evil, right and wrong, and noble and ignoble are hopelessly blurred.

Amazon Book Depository | Goodreads

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Waiting on Wednesday: God of Night


Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme linking Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking The Spine and Can’t Wait Wednesday by Wishful Endings


| Waiting on Wednesday: September 02 |

God of Night

Book Four of The God Fragments

by Tom Lloyd


The time for heroes has come, but all the Riven Kingdom has is bastards.

With war between the Militant Orders looming, the entire continent may soon be on fire. The very nature of magic has changed and the horrors of the deepest black are rising, but an even greater danger threatens to eclipse it all. Turning the tide of history may require a gamble only a bunch of drunken lunatics are willing to take.

The old ways need breaking and that’s one thing the Cards are good at. Just be careful what you wish for.


To be published by Gollancz in October 2020

Amazon Goodreads

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Teaser Tuesdays: Monstrous Regiment


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: September 01 |

Monstrous Regiment

Book Thirty One of Discworld

by Terry Pratchett

Fantasy | 476 Pages | Published by Doubleday in 2003


“Jade was rising over the grass. As she plodded nearer they saw she was dragging a man by one foot. When she was closer it was obvious the man was dead. Living people have more head.

~ Page 137 | Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett


| Synopsis |

Women belong in the kitchen – everyone knows that. Not in jobs, pubs or indeed trousers, and certainly not on the front line.

Nonetheless, Polly Perks has to become a boy in a hurry if she wants to find her missing brother in the army. Cutting off her hair and wearing the trousers is easy. Learning to fart and belch in public and walk like an ape takes more time.

There’s a war on. There’s always a war on, and Polly and her fellow raw recruits are suddenly in the thick of it.

All they have on their side is the most artful sergeant in the army and a vampire with a lust for coffee.

It’s time to make a stand.

Amazon Book Depository | Goodreads


| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Foodie Book Covers


Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish, now hosted by ThatArtsyReaderGirl. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Foodie Book Covers |

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday where this week I’m taking a look at books with food on their front covers. From forbidden fruits and sumptuous foods to the repulsive and frankly unappetising, this week’s theme encompasses all genres with a variety of artwork styles and authors.

Scroll down for this week’s Top Ten… Foodie Book Covers!

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| 1. |

The Sin Eater

by Megan Campisi

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| Synopsis |

Can you uncover the truth when you’re forbidden from speaking it?

A Sin Eater’s duty is a necessary evil: she hears the final private confessions of the dying, eats their sins as a funeral rite, and so guarantees their souls access to heaven. It is always women who eat sins – since it was Eve who first ate the Forbidden Fruit – and every town has at least one, not that they are publicly acknowledged. Stained by the sins they are obliged to consume, the Sin Eater is shunned and silenced, doomed to live in exile at the edge of town.

Recently orphaned May Owens is just fourteen, and has never considered what it might be like to be so ostracized; she’s more concerned with where her next meal is coming from. When she’s arrested for stealing a loaf of bread, however, and subsequently sentenced to become a Sin Eater, finding food is suddenly the last of her worries.

It’s a devastating sentence, but May’s new invisibility opens new doors. And when first one then two of the Queen’s courtiers suddenly grow ill, May hears their deathbed confessions – and begins to investigate a terrible rumour that is only whispered of amid palace corridors.

Set in a thinly disguised sixteenth-century England, The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi is a wonderfully imaginative and gripping story of treason and treachery; of secrets and silence; of women, of power – and, ultimately, of the strange freedom that comes from being an outcast with no hope of redemption for, as May learns, being a nobody sometimes counts for everything…

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| 2. |

The Vine Witch

by Luanne G. Smith

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| Synopsis |

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

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| 3. |

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

by Grady Hendrix

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| Synopsis |

Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.heart

| 4. |

Peaches for Monsieur le Curé

by Joanne Harris

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| Synopsis |

It isn’t often you receive a letter from the dead. When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she has no choice but to follow the wind that blows her back to Lansquenet, the village in south-west France where, eight years ago, she opened up a chocolate shop. But Vianne is completely unprepared for what she finds there. Women veiled in black, the scent of spices and peppermint tea, and there, on the bank of the river Tannes, facing the square little tower of the church of Saint-Jerome like a piece on a chessboard – slender, bone-white and crowned with a silver crescent moon – a minaret. Nor is it only the incomers from North Africa that have brought big changes to the community. Father Reynaud, Vianne’s erstwhile adversary, is now disgraced and under threat. Could it be that Vianne is the only one who can save him?

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| 5. |

Blackberry Wine

by Joanne Harris

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| Synopsis |

Jay Mackintosh is trapped by memory in the old familiar landscape of his childhood, more enticing than the present, and to which he longs to return. A bottle of home-brewed wine left to him by a long vanished friend seems to provide both the key to an old mystery and a doorway into another world. As the unusual properties of the strange brew takes effect, Jay escapes to a derelict farmhouse in the French village of Lansquenet , where a ghost from the past waits to confront him, and the reclusive Marise -haunted, lovely, and dangerous- hides a terrible secret behind her closed shutters. Between them, a mysterious chemistry. Or could it be magic?

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| 6. |

Five Quarters of the Orange

by Joanne Harris

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| Synopsis |

The novels of Joanne Harris are a literary feast for the senses. Five Quarters of the Orange represents Harris’s most complex and sophisticated work yet – a novel in which darkness and fierce joy come together to create an unforgettable story.

When Framboise Simon returns to a small village on the banks of the Loire, the locals do not recognize her as the daughter of the infamous Mirabelle Dartigen – the woman they still hold responsible for a terrible tragedy that took place during the German occupation decades before. Although Framboise hopes for a new beginning she quickly discovers that past and present are inextricably intertwined. Nowhere is this truth more apparent than in the scrapbook of recipes she has inherited from her dead mother.

With this book, Framboise re-creates her mother’s dishes, which she serves in her small creperie. And yet as she studies the scrapbook – searching for clues to unlock the contradiction between her mother’s sensuous love of food and often cruel demeanor – she begins to recognize a deeper meaning behind Mirabelle’s cryptic scribbles. Within the journal’s tattered pages lies the key to what actually transpired the summer Framboise was nine years old.

Rich and dark. Five Quarters of the Orange is a novel of mothers and daughters of the past and the present, of resisting, and succumbing, and an extraordinary work by a masterful writer.

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| 7. |

Idle Ingredients

by Matt Wallace

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| Synopsis |

Catering for a charismatic motivational speaker, the staff of the Sin du Jour catering agency find themselves incapacitated by a force from within their ranks. A smile and a promise is all it took.

And for some reason, only the men are affected. It’s going to take cunning, guile and a significant amount of violence to resolve.

Another day of cupcakes and evil with your favorite demonic caterers.heart

| 8. |

Taste of Wrath

by Matt Wallace

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| Synopsis |

Bronko and his team of crack chefs and kitchen staff have been serving the New York supernatural community for decades. But all that could be about to change.

The entity formerly known as Allensworth has been manipulating Bronko and his team from Day One, and the gang at Sin du Jour have had enough.

Old debts are called in, and an alliance is formed with the unlikeliest of comrades.

Some will die. Some will descend. And some will rise.

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| 9. |

The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections

by Tina Connolly

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| Synopsis |

A young food taster to the Traitor King must make a difficult choice in this story of pastries, magic, and revenge. The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections is a Tor.com Original from fantasy author Tina Connolly.

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| 10. |

Hallowe’en Party

by Agatha Christie

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| Synopsis |

A teenage murder witness is drowned in a tub of apples…

At a Hallowe’en party, Joyce – a hostile thirteen-year-old – boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub.

That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the ‘evil presence’. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer…

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Which foodie book covers are your favourites?

If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to ThatArtsyReaderGirl and sign up!

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