A Song of Wraiths and Ruin Review

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin Review | Roseanne A. Brown

Let us return, fair readers, to the bane of my existence: obtain a book, do not touch said book for a year, read it, curse not reading it sooner. Needless to say, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is one of my top reads for 2021 – my review explores why.

Publisher: Balzer + Bray | Date: 2020 | Genre: Fantasy

Plot: For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

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The Happy Family Review

The Happy Family Review | Jackie Kabler

The synopsis felt this could be a cliché read, following the pattern of a lot of psychological thrillers. Although in places it was predictable, I enjoyed this: it kept me gripped and threw enough curveballs that it didn’t fall into the typical patterns. Here’s my review on The Happy Family.

Publisher: HarperCollins UK / One More Chapter | Date: 2021 | Genre: Thriller

Plot: A mother who disappeared…
When Beth was 10 years old, her beautiful, wild mother Alice walked out and never came back. Beth’s life since hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but now she is happy and settled, with a successful career, a loving family and a beautiful home.

An unexpected visitor…
Then one day there’s a knock at the door. Alice has returned. Overjoyed to have the chance to rebuild their relationship, Beth invites her mother to move in.

A life that comes crashing down…
At first, everything seems wonderful. But then Beth’s friends begin to drift away, strange things start to happen at home, and rumours begin to circle about her past. As the mysterious events around Beth become darker and more dangerous, she is forced to question everything. Is somebody in her life trying to destroy her happiness? And how far will they go?

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Netgalley Shelf October 2021

Netgalley Shelf | October 2021

In the spirit of catching up on a few posts, I thought it was time to take another sneak-peek at what is currently on my Netgalley shelf in October 2021.

This year, I’ve had a new approach to how I’ve handled Netgalley. It was frustrating me that I was so far behind, never hitting anywhere near publication days. I mentioned previously I was using a Trello board – and it’s working! I switch between one that I’ve totally missed, one I can get done on time, and one that is still in the three month window. Judging by the fact very few books have made it on to the ‘totally missed’ pile for quite some time, it’s working.

Taking a break from blogging, naturally, slowed things down for a while. But I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for the final stretch of the year. Let’s take a look at what’s outstanding on my shelf at the moment.

Netgalley Shelf – October 2021

Oldest book on shelf

Power Play by Tony Kent

Power Play by Toby Kent

Plot: The enemies aren’t at the gates. They’re already inside.

When controversial US presidential candidate Dale Victor is killed in a plane explosion along with hundreds of passengers, it appears to be a clear-cut case of terrorism. But as criminal barrister Michael Devlin and intelligence agent Joe Dempsey investigate, all the evidence begins to point to the very top of the US government. And now someone is determined to stop Dempsey and Devlin from discovering the truth. At any cost. Together, they must find a way to prove who’s really holding the cards, and free the White House from the deadly grip that has taken hold of power. 

Thoughts: I downloaded this at the beginning of 2020, and I have to admit, I have no recollection of it at all. But re-reading the synopsis has re-sparked my interest. It sounds to be a tense, gripping thriller-esque style book full of action and drama. I’m now looking forward to it.

Newest book on shelf

Warriors of God by Andrezei Sapkowski

Warriors of God by Andrzej Sapkowski

Plot: Reynevan begins by hiding away in Bohemia but soon leaves for Silesia, where he carries out dangerous, secret missions entrusted to him by the leaders of the Hussite religion. At the same time he strives to avenge the death of his brother and discover the whereabouts of his beloved. Once again pursued by multiple enemies, Reynevan is constantly getting into and out of trouble.

Sapkowski’s deftly written novel delivers gripping action full of numerous twists and mysteries, seasoned with elements of magic and Sapkowski’s ever-present – and occasionally bawdy – sense of humour. Fans of the Witcher will appreciate the rich panorama of this slice of the Middle Ages.

Thoughts: I’ve started reading The Witcher series (see below), and I’m enjoying Sapkowski’s writing style. When I saw this available for request, it felt a good opportunity to branch into some of his other writing and see if it holds my attention in the same manner. I’m already loving the names…

Oldest publication date

Blood of Elves by Andrezei Sapkowski

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

Plot: For more than a hundred years, humans, dwarves, gnomes and elves lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over and now the races are fighting once again – killing their own kind and each other.

Into this tumultuous time is born a child of prophecy, Ciri, surviving heiress of a bloody revolution, whose strange abilities can change the world – for good, or for evil…

As the threat of war hangs over the land, Geralt the Witcher must protect Ciri from those who are hunting the child for her destructive power.

But this time, Geralt may have met his match.

Thoughts: In my defence, I did start this. But then did the research and realised it was better to read the prequels before ‘book one’ – yes, I got very confused. I’m currently reading The Last Wish and enjoying it, so eager to continue the series when I get to this one.

Newest publication date

Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan

Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan

Plot: Her destiny. His revenge.

In an empire on the brink of war . . .

Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.

Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.

When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her lethal magical abilities.

But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.

Thoughts: I’m not sure I need to say anything for this one – the synopsis speaks for itself. This sounds completely up my street and I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully my high expectations won’t backfire on me. How can I resist anything with destiny in the title? Sign me up!

Most looking forward to…

Here we have it… the book currently outstanding on my Netgalley shelf that I can’t wait to get to. But, slightly awkward, just realised this was my most anticipated last time as well… Really should get this read before my next wrap-up.

Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

Plot:

Before, Arrah was shamed by having no magic at all. Now, with demons on warpath, she is the only one in the world who has it.

Explosive fantasy set in a West-African world of magic and legend. Perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi, Laini Taylor and Sarah J Maas.

Book Two in the extraordinary Kingdom of Souls Trilogy

After years yearning for the gift of magic, Arrah has what she’s always wanted – but it came at too steep a price. Now the last witchdoctor, she’s left to pick up the pieces of a family that betrayed her, a kingdom plunged into chaos, and a love that can never be.

While Arrah returns to the tribal lands to search for survivors, Rudjek hunts down the remnants of the demon army – and uncovers a plot that would destroy what’s left of the world.

The Demon King wants Arrah. If he can’t be stopped, he will destroy everything, and everyone, standing in his way.

Thoughts: Kingdom of Souls was one of my top books for last year. I spent the entire 12 months raving why everyone needed to read it, pronto. How can I not be buzzing to get to the next in the series? I’m hoping this is near the top of my TBR…

There we go – this month’s wrap up. What’s currently sitting on your Netgalley shelf? Do any of these draw your attention?

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Rivers Ran Red Review

Rivers Ran Red Review | J.A Grierson

I’ve been trying to write up my Rivers Ran Red thoughts for a few weeks. I thought it sounded like the type of book I’d enjoy, and for the most part, it was. It was missing something though; a spark, a connection, something to keep me gripped. Keep scrolling to check out my full review.

Publisher: BooksGoSocial | Date: 2019 | Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: In a whirlwind of fire and carnage, Attila the Hun wheels half a million horsemen towards Roman territory. In his path, corruption and greed have undermined the ancient empire and the vacillating emperor, Valentinian III, has cut her legions to a sliver. But out of this smoke a wily, battle-scarred general, Avitus, rises in her defence. Making allies of his enemies, Avitus rallies barbarian warlords to fight for the Eagle and crosses the Alps to face Rome’s nemesis. But when Attila offers to split the Empire’s corpse with the Goths his march becomes a suicide mission.

One war will decide the fate of civilization.

The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains rages through the night. Individual acts of bravery and cowardice tip the final balance. Rivers run red and burst their banks with blood. Dawn draws a portrait of unimaginable carnage.

In a tale of epic deeds, heroes confront insurmountable odds, with honour and courage. Avitus faces a myriad of enemies, both Roman and barbarian but can one man save civilisation?

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Monthly Update October 2021 Review Card

Monthly Check In | October 2021

Hello, lovelies! It feels like a long time since I’ve done a classic wrap-up of what the last month has been like. I’ve been back blogging for a month now, and I swear even in that time I’ve changed my mind about where I want to go with content. So sit back, grab a cuppa, and let’s dive into my monthly check in.

Last month, I thought I was full of new content and different directions. Then I had the insightful moment of realising that wasn’t what I wanted. I’m going back to basics for the time being, and making this a platform purely about books. It stops me trying to be something I don’t want to be, prevents me from spending hours on content, and gives me more time for the whole point of this blog: reading.

And I’m excited! For the fist time in a while, I truly feel I’ve made a decision about the blog that I’m looking forward to, supports my passions and is something I can get behind. My reading buzz is back and I’m reading more than I’ve done in the last 18 months.

Hang on to your hats, lovelies, because I’m going back to what I love!

On a calmer note, let’s take a look at what I’ve been reading in September. About halfway through the month, I started burying myself in books, then I had a week off with glorious weather, so it finally feels I’m reading properly.

September’s Reading

September’s Reading: 5 books

Year to Date: 44 out of 60 (1 ahead)

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Chosen Ones

Plot

The first novel written for an adult audience by the mega-selling author of the Divergent franchise: five twenty-something heroes famous for saving the world when they were teenagers must face even greater demons—and reconsider what it means to be a hero . . . by destiny or by choice.

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

Thoughts: I enjoyed this far more than I was expecting. Having not had the best track record with the author, I wasn’t sure. I was pleasantly surprised: a new taken on the ‘chosen ones’ genre with fiery characters and an intriguing plot. A full review is coming but I liked this.

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Last Wish

Plot

Introducing Geralt the Witcher – revered and hated – who holds the line against the monsters plaguing humanity in the bestselling series that inspired the Witcher video games and a major Netflix show.

Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher, a man whose magic powers and lifelong training have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin.

Yet he is no ordinary killer: he hunts the vile fiends that ravage the land and attack the innocent.

But not everything monstrous-looking is evil; not everything fair is good . . . and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

Andrzej Sapkowski, winner of the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement award, started an international phenomenon with his Witcher series. The Last Wish is the perfect introduction to this one-of-a-kind fantasy world.

Thoughts: I thought I had the first Witcher book on my Netgalley shelf, then found there was a better reading order, so quick trip to the library got me The Last Wish. I loved this: the writing style is far more humorous than I was expecting. The book is sheer entertainment!

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

Plot

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

Thoughts: I’ve had this on my list since last year, and now kicking myself I didn’t get to it sooner. One of the top books for 2021 for me at the moment: I adored everything about this and eagerly awaiting the second instalment. Full review coming soon but a definite recommendation!

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

Dragon Keeper

Plot

Guided by the great blue dragon Tintaglia, they came from the sea: a Tangle of serpents fighting their way up the Rain Wilds River, the first to make the perilous journey to the cocooning grounds in generations. Many have died along the way. With its acid waters and impenetrable forest, it is a hard place for any to survive.

People are changed by the Rain Wilds, subtly or otherwise. One such is Thymara. Born with black claws and other aberrations, she should have been exposed at birth. But her father saved her and her mother has never forgiven him. Like everyone else, Thymara is fascinated by the return of dragons: it is as if they symbolise the return of hope to their war-torn world. Leftrin, captain of the liveship Tarman, also has an interest in the hatching; as does Bingtown newlywed, Alise Finbok, who has made it her life’s work to study all there is to know of dragons.

But the creatures which emerge from the cocoons are a travesty of the powerful, shining dragons of old. Stunted and deformed, they cannot fly; some seem witless and bestial. Soon, they become a danger and a burden to the Rain Wilders: something must be done. The dragons claim an ancestral memory of a fabled Elderling city far upriver: perhaps there the dragons will find their true home. But Kelsingra appears on no maps and they cannot get there on their own: a band of dragon keepers, hunters and chroniclers must attend them.

To be a dragon keeper is a dangerous job: their charges are vicious and unpredictable, and there are many unknown perils on the journey to a city which may not even exist…

Thoughts: I was in a fantasy mood and thought it had been a while since I ventured into Robin Hobb’s world. The Rain Wild Chronicles are next up for me, and I spent a satisfying week devouring Dragon Keeper while sitting in the garden. Solid, pure fantasy – what’s not to love?

Eldest by Christopher Paolini

Eldest

Plot

Darkness falls…despair abounds…evil reigns…

Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in the skills of the Dragon Rider: magic and swordsmanship. Soon he is on the journey of a lifetime, his eyes open to awe-inspring new places and people, his days filled with fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and nothing is what it seems. Before long, Eragon doesn’t know whom he can trust.

Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle–one that might put Eragon in even graver danger.

Will the king’s dark hand strangle all resistance? Eragon may not escape with even his life. . . .

Thoughts: What can I say? I’ve been dipping into this for about a month by having it as a before-bed book. Reaching a point when I needed to catch up on writing reviews, I thought I’d buy myself some time by indulging in this. To be honest, I needed the comfort.

What have you been reading lately? Let me know!

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Chain of Iron Review

Chain of Iron Review | Cassandra Clare

After mixed feelings about previous Cassandra Clare books, I started Chain of Iron without high expectations. I enjoyed it more than expected, however, and found the plot had more momentum than previously due to focusing on more than unrequited love triangles. I’m sharing my full Chain of Iron review below.

Publisher: Walker Books | Date: 2021 | Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Plot: Cordelia Carstairs seems to have everything she ever wanted. She’s engaged to marry James Herondale, the boy she has loved since childhood. She has a new life in London with her best friend Lucie Herondale and James’s charming companions, the Merry Thieves. She is about to be reunited with her beloved father. And she bears the sword Cortana, a legendary hero’s blade.

But the truth is far grimmer. James and Cordelia’s marriage is a lie, arranged to save Cordelia’s reputation. James is in love with the mysterious Grace Blackthorn whose brother, Jesse, died years ago in a terrible accident. Cortana burns Cordelia’s hand when she touches it, while her father has grown bitter and angry. And a serial murderer is targeting the Shadowhunters of London, killing under cover of darkness, then vanishing without a trace.

Together with the Merry Thieves, Cordelia, James, and Lucie must follow the trail of the knife-wielding killer through the city’s most dangerous streets. All the while, each is keeping a shocking secret: Lucie, that she plans to raise Jesse from the dead; Cordelia, that she has sworn a dangerous oath of loyalty to a mysterious power; and James, that he is being drawn further each night into the dark web of his grandfather, the arch-demon Belial. And that he himself may be the killer they seek.

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She Who Became The Sun Review

She Who Became The Sun Review | Shelley Parker-Chan

The synopsis for this one caught my eye. I know nothing about the Ming Dynasty, and the premise is intriguing. I’d heard enough that my interest was piqued. A gripping and compelling tale with powerful writing complementing an intricate plot: here’s my full review on She Who Became The Sun.

Publisher: Pan MacMillan | Date: 2021 | Genre: Fantasy

Plot: In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

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Top Books of 2021 Q2 Edition card

Top Books of 2021 | Q2 Edition

Hello, lovelies. It’s been a while since I’ve written a bookish update (been a while since I’ve written any kind of update). The blogging break was much needed, but does mean that I’m catching up on a few posts. I’m returning today with my second ‘top books of 2021’ (Q2 edition!).

This time, I’m focusing on books from April-June. When narrowing down what I’ve been reading, I was a) pleasantly surprised that I’d read more than I thought I had and b) disappointed to find I’ve only got a handful that made the 5* rating. Out of those few, only one of them was a new author.

I’ll be writing up my Q3 edition of this very shortly, but – for now – see what you think of the ones that made the cut for this version!

Top Books of 2021 (so far… part 2)

Sistersong by Lucy Holland

Sistersong by Lucy Holland

Publisher: Macmillan | Date: 2021 | Genre: Fantasy | Review

Plot: 535 AD. In the ancient kingdom of Dumnonia, King Cador’s children inherit a fragmented land abandoned by the Romans.

Riva, scarred in a terrible fire, fears she will never heal.
Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, when born a daughter.
And Sinne, the spoiled youngest girl, yearns for romance.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold – a last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. But change comes on the day ash falls from the sky, bringing Myrddhin, meddler and magician, and Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear the siblings apart. Riva, Keyne and Sinne must take fate into their own hands, or risk being tangled in a story they could never have imagined; one of treachery, love and ultimately, murder. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

The Viscount Who Loved Me

Publisher: Avon | Date: 2006 | Genre: Historical Romance

Plot: 1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, this author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London’s most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry.
And in truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better…
—Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, 
April 1814

But this time, the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn’t just decided to marry—he’s even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended’s older sister, Kate Sheffield—the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate is the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams…

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands—and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate is determined to protect her sister—but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony’s lips touch hers, she’s suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself…

The House of Lamentations by S.G MacLean

The House of Lamentations

Publisher: Quercus | Date: 2020 | Genre: Historical Fiction | Review

PlotSummer, 1658, and the Republic may finally be safe: the combined Stuart and Spanish forces have been heavily defeated by the English and French armies on the coast of Flanders, and the King’s cause appears finished.

Yet one final, desperate throw of the dice is planned. And who can stop them if not Captain Damian Seeker?

Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Shards of Earth cover

Publisher: Tor | Date: 2021 | Genre: Science Fiction | Review

Plot: The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

After earth was destroyed, mankind created a fighting elite to save their species, enhanced humans such as Idris. In the silence of space they could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared – and Idris and his kind became obsolete

Now, fifty years later, Idris and his crew have discovered something strange abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy hunting for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, that many would kill to obtain.

There we have it, my top books of 2021, Q2 edition.

What have you been reading lately? Any of these catch your eye?

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Seven Deaths of an Empire Review

Seven Deaths of an Empire Review | G.R Matthews

The synopsis of this one sounded right up my street – and it was. While it didn’t blow me away, this was a solid read. It had interesting characters, a good plot and enough tension that I stayed engaged. Keep reading for my full review on Seven Deaths of an Empire.

Publisher: Rebellion, Solaris | Date: 2021 | Genre: Fantasy

Plot: The Emperor is dead. Long live the Empire.

General Bordan has a lifetime of duty and sacrifice behind him in the service of the Empire. But with rebellion brewing in the countryside, and assassins, thieves and politicians vying for power in the city, it is all Bordan can do to protect the heir to the throne.

Apprentice Magician Kyron is assigned to the late Emperor’s honour guard escorting his body on the long road back to the capital. Mistrusted and feared by his own people, even a magician’s power may fail when enemies emerge from the forests, for whoever is in control of the Emperor’s body, controls the succession.

Seven lives and seven deaths to seal the fate of the Empire.

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Money Saving Tips

How To Save Money | 6 Money Saving Tips

I spoke recently about how I’d had a few changes in my life over the last few months. Since I last posted consistently, I’ve become both a home-owner and a car-owner. First time for both for me. Both a huge learning curve in, well, being an adult. It’s incredible (aka scary) how little I actually know about what I need to do. I never would have said this time last year I’d be writing a blog post sharing my top money saving tips.

I’m lucky that I have an incredibly close relationship with my parents, which meant I’ve been able to stay at home while saving up. And to find a silver lining on the last 18 months: cancelled gym memberships, no train fares and none of those small expenses of everyday out of the house did wonders for my savings. The new job also helped…

I’ve always been good with money. I’ve worked since I was 16 and always been careful to have more going into my savings than coming out of it. But the last few months have been a huge eye-opener.

*This post contains referral links

6 Money Saving Tips

My top 6 money saving tips

Today, I want to share a few things I’ve learnt over the past few years when it comes to money management.

Savings accounts

Online banking makes it so easy to move money. If you’re able to put some money aside each month, make sure it’s an account with the best interest. There are multiple saving accounts out there with different rules and regulations: some give you access to your funds, others you have to commit to a year without touching it. Find one that suits your needs – and check out those interest rates. It may only equate to a few ££’s a year, but that’s better than nothing, right?

Annual, not monthly

This one sounds like a rule we all should know: paying annually (if you can) tends to work out cheaper than paying monthly. But check those accounts: I suddenly realised my Amazon Prime was on monthly due to the roundabout way it got set up. While it meant one big pay-out, it also meant saving £16 in a year for the same service. Take five and have a quick check, especially if you’ve been set up a while and stop noticing.

Negotiation, Negotiation, Negotiation

I don’t mean haggle over everything (unless that’s your thing, in which case, I’m envious!). But your phone bills, your TV service, your insurance… anything that you need to renew, see what they can offer you. I did this recently for my phone – nearly £4 a month cheaper, plus more data than I’m currently on. The best part? I didn’t even need to pick up the phone: I did the whole thing over an online chat. The comparison sites help here – remember, your provider doesn’t want to lose you.

£4 might not sound a lot – but that’s £48 per year saved, plus extra data!

Auto-renew

Okay, hear me out. Auto-renews are great for the daily things in life. Things that don’t need renegotiation; things you don’t want to forget about. But what if you have forgotten about them? What if you don’t need them?

For example: I started changing my mind about Tailwind, and I cancelled. I still had access to the features I needed until my account officially stopped. When did it stop? Right when I was moving house. There’s no way I would have remembered, and that would have been over a £100 gone without me realising until too late.

If you’re in a trial period of something; if you’ve got a subscription that still has time on it; if you’re not 100% sure… Cancel. It will run until the end of that billing time and it’s (usually) super easy to re-activate. But if it’s something you don’t use and you’re likely to forget, you’ll kick yourself if you get that bill through for another year.

What do you need?

This might seem like the obvious: don’t buy stuff you don’t need. But it’s true. I had an entire drawer full of skin-care samples… so much so that I haven’t needed to buy anything for six months, just using them up. I’d use a product, replace it, get samples along with it, stick them in a drawer and carry on with the full size. Then I realised how much was sitting there ‘saving it’ for holidays, while I was spending on items I had in miniature.

This could equate to anything: clothes, skin-care, food (especially food – make sure you hit those best-buy dates before buying new). Just double check you’ve got one before buying new?

Offers, deals and cashback

We’re all pretty savvy when it comes to online shopping these days: clicking through a number of different websites to find the best price. No kidding when I say I spent £100 less on my saucepans than the first site I saw them on. It’s worth checking it out.

But what about cashback? This was new to me until about a year ago. Now? I’m obsessed. For the sake of clicking into one website before your chosen shop, you can get money back – may only be 5% but you were spending that money anyway, so you’ve got nothing to lose.

I’ve been using TopCashBack* for a while now. It’s a slow-burn – percentages vary and it can take weeks for the money to come back to you. But for the effort of making two extra clicks? Damn right I want that 50p back in my wallet, not the retailers.

And it isn’t just retailers. Comparison sites and insurance companies are on there as well, and if you hit the exclusive offers, the pay-outs can be worth it.

It’s so easy: click into Topcashback, find your merchant, go to retail site like normal, get money back. Done.

Want to give it a go? Feel free to use my referral link*.

*if you sign up via my link and stay with the program, I’ll receive a £5 bonus.

Wow, I think this might be the longest post I’ve written. What money saving tips would you share?

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