Happy Friday everyone! By all accounts, it is going to be a miserable one, but let’s try and make the most of it!
I’m back again with my new regular fortnightly feature – First Lines Friday. It’s a fun way to try something new, without the bias of a front cover or knowledge of the book before you read it!
So, shall we get on with today’s post? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book!
A squat grey building of only thirty-four storeys. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State’s motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.
The enormous room on the ground floor faced towards the north. Cold for all the summer beyond the panes, for all the tropical heat of the room itself, a harsh thin light glared through the windows, hungrily seeking some draped lay figure, some pallid shape of academic goose-flesh, but finding only the glass and nickel and bleakly shining porcelain of a laboratory. Wintriness responded to wintriness. The overalls of the workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured rubber. The light was frozen, dead, a ghost. Only from the yellow barrels of the microscopes did it borrow a certain rich and living substance, lying along the polished tubes like butter, streak after luscious streak in long recession down the work tables.
‘And this,’ said the Director opening the door, ‘is the Fertilizing Room.’
I’m fairly sure that this is one of those books you might have studied at school. I hated that. For all my love of books, I couldn’t abide pulling them apart and analysing them to death. Of Mice and Men and 1984 are books that I tortured with a pair of pliers my school years. I have re-read both of these books since leaving school and enjoyed them. It goes to show it’s not the books that are the problem – I really don’t think they were written to ensure that level of scrutiny. I certainly wasn’t made for it either…
Back to the book on hand! It’s a really well-known book and it falls under one of my favourite genre categories – dystopia. It’s been on my reading list for over a year and a half now. Do you want to find out what it is?
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Brave New World is a dystopian novel written in 1931 by English author Aldous Huxley, and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State of genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning that are combined to make a utopian society that goes challenged only by a single outsider.
What do you think of the introduction to Brave New World? Have you read the book or added it your TBR?
It’s been a couple of months since I reviewed an audiobook and nearly a year ago since I reviewed Nevernight. I was shocked to see that! I hadn’t realised it had taken me so long to listen to and now review Godsgrave! Since we are less than a month away from the release of Darkdawn, the next book of the series, I’m putting that right! So, without further adieu…
A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.
Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.
When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.
Set in the world of Nevernight, which Publishers Weekly called “absorbing in its complexity and bold in its bloodiness,” Godsgrave will continue to thrill and satisfy fantasy fans everywhere.
As with Nevernight, Godsgrave is narrated by Holter Graham. I’m a sucker for consistency. It wouldn’t matter how good a narrator someone else is, it wouldn’t be the same. There is something about the way that he narrates these books that bring each character into life.
Itreya opens up beyond Godsgrave and the Red Church, introducing us first-hand to new places throughout the Republic. This expands from the lore already introduced by way of commentary throughout the book. As with Nevernight, the details and world-building are blended seamlessly into the narrative. Jay Kristoff does a fantastic job of touching upon details already explained to aid understanding without repeating it constantly and making the listener feel stupid.
The Republic, its structure and politics are more complex than ever. To put herself in a position to avenge her familia, Mia must endure months of intense training and risk her life on the Sands. Her determination is unrivalled, though she isn’t without the upper hand. Being Darken has its advantages, as well as raising a lot of questions. The darkness around Mia and her need for revenge is exciting. She is ruthless and will do whatever it takes to achieve her goals.
I often think that she is so consumed with revenge that she will have no drive once she’s fulfilled her purpose. Will this change in Darkdawn? Who can say? Well, we will find out soon, won’t we?!
Whilst I’m not optimistic, a real part of me refuses to accept some of the events that have happened in the books so far. I’m secretly hoping that things are not as they seem, but I’m not counting on it. The books are certainly on the end of darker fantasy and the current way of things reflects that nature.
Have you read or listened to Nevernight or Godsgrave? Are you excited for Darkdawn?
Welcome back to another Sunday Summary post! Yes, the weekend has come to a close once again. Doesn’t it fly? I hope you have had a good one, whatever you have been up to!
In addition to my reading this week, I’ve also been sharing a variety of bookish related posts. On Tuesday, I undertook another review of the TBR in my latest Down the TBR Hole post. It didn’t turn out to be all that successful in terms of reducing the list, but it was still good fun to look at this list all the same.
On Thursday I reviewed a book I initially read back in May, Sword Song by Bernard Cornwell. I am really enjoying this historical fiction series. By all accounts, I shouldn’t get on with Uhtred’s character, but you cannot help but like him… faults and all!
Friday was the turn of my regular Shelf Control post. Rather than just one book, this week’s post featured three! I’ve read the first trilogy of this series so far, however, with three following books published and one final one yet to be published, I still have a bit of reading to do with this one!
I’ve dipped in and out of several books this week. I have spent the week reading parts of a long fantasy novel, Thran Book 1: The Birth. As this is a long and detailed read, I think it’s the type of book that I’ll be chipping away at in between other reads rather than binge reading. I’m about a quarter of the way through the book so far, although I am hoping to make more progress on it in the next week.
I’ve also been dipping in and out of reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle throughout the week. I finally finished this last night and… wow! The story was so complex! Who knew so much could happen in one day? I knew this murder mystery was portrayed in several perspectives, but I didn’t expect them to jump around as much as they did. If I had tried to read it faster I would have lost the plot. Don’t get me wrong, it worked, but if you’re not paying attention then you just end up mind-fucked. It deserves the 5* rating I’ve given it, but I’m glad I took my time unravelling the story. I realise that for many 6 days wouldn’t really fall under ‘taking ones time’, but yeah.
On Saturday evening I started my current read, Duality by K. J. McGillick. I’m glad to be back with a number of familiar characters and another, totally unique art theft case. The undercurrents and history of Renaissance art vs Religion is really interesting and I can’t wait to discover more about it as the team work to unravel the case! I’ve managed to read just over a quarter of the book already. I imagine I’ll have this read by mid next week at this rate!
After your results on my Twitter poll last week, I made a very meagre start on listening to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. For one reason or another, I only ended up listening to this on the way home from work one day this week.
The only addition I have to the list this week is a cute little sample my mum got for me! Whilst she was out shopping last week she was offered a sample of One Minute Later by Susan Lewis. Knowing my obsessive reading, she took it and has given it to me this afternoon. Thanks mum!
Since I am free of blog tours and other commitments next week, I have totally free reign as to what I share with you. As I mentioned in last week’s Sunday Summary post, I have a few reviews to catch up on. To that end, on Wednesday I’ll be sharing my review of an audiobook I listened to AGES ago now – Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff.
Later in the week, I’ll be sharing another First Lines Friday post (no prizes for guessing when that goes live). As always, it’s as much a mystery as to which book I’ll be featuring at the moment, but I’ll figure it out closer to the time!
Top Blog Posts of the Week
Okay, so confession time. I’ve been really bad and not read any blogs this week. I’m really sorry – I’ll be back on it next week. I promise!
What have you been up to this week? What books are you reading?
Welcome back to my new regular feature post, Shelf Contol! Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!
For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.
I am using Shelf Control to look in further detail at the books I have added to the TBR and then listed as keepers in my Down the TBR Hole posts. In this post I take the opportunity to talk about why I want to keep them. It also acts as a second sweep for anything that I may have changed my mind about. I won’t necessarily own all the books (yet), but I will have a reasonable number of them.
It’s week four, so let’s look at the next item on the TBR! This week’s post is a little unusual as I am featuring not just one book, but three.
The Mistborn Series – Brandon Sanderson
Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.
Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.
One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will.
After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.
I have put off reading the books following the initial trilogy. I loved it so much that I guess a small part of me is concerned it won’t live up to the original. Given the great ratings on Goodreads I don’t think my concerns have any real foundations.
I loved the characters, the world-building and the basis of magic in this series. I have also come across a similar concept in another of his books – The Stormlight Archives. Instead of magic being infinite power, it has a physical limitation. In the Mistborn books, those with magic can only wield their powers if they ingest the required metal compound – also known as Allomancy. Once it has burned out, that’s it. Having such limitations, Mistborn are far from invincible. Inconvenient problems cannot be swept under the carpet and the narrative is far more sophisticated in resolving issues as a result.
There is a seventh and final book to the series, which has yet to be published. It was initially timetabled for 2018 but unfortunately delayed. Hopefully, the final one will be published shortly so I can wrap up what I hope will continue to be an excellent series.
Have you read any of the Mistborn novels or any other books by Brandon Sanderson?
I’m on a mission to catch up with one of my book reviews I have outstanding. I read Sword Song, the fourth instalment of the Saxon Stories in May this year. Whether you have/are reading the books or watched the TV show, there is something for all historical fiction fans.
I was introduced to The Last Kingdom, the first book of the series, by a Danish friend of mine. If you’d like to check out my reviews of the earlier books, you can find the reviews for The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman here and Lords of the North here. If you want to check those out before jumping into my review of Sword Song, now is the time to do it!
“Bernard Cornwell ranks as the current alpha male of testoterone-enriched historical fiction….This satisfying tale leaves you hungry for more of Uhtred’s adventures.” -USA Today
The year is 885, and England is at peace, divided between the Danish Kingdom to the north and the Saxon kingdom of Wessex in the south. Warrior by instinct and Viking by nature, Uhtred, the dispossessed son of Northumbrian lord, has land, a wife and children-and a duty to King Alfred to hold the frontier on the Thames. But a dead man has risen, and new Vikings have invaded the decayed Roman city of London with dreams of conquering Wessex…with Uhtred’s help. Suddenly forced to weigh his oath to the king against the dangerous turning side of shifting allegiances and deadly power struggles, Uhtred-Alfred’s sharpest sword-must now make the choice that will determine England’s future.
There is something about Uhtred’s character you cannot help but like. He’s tough, sure of himself; I’d even go so far to say arrogant. He is not without fault, and begrudging admitting it when he is. It’s all part of his charm. It’s funny, because I can’t stand people like that personally. I suppose there’s only room for one ego, so it has to be mine. I’m not even embarrassed to admit it either…
Caught between his Saxon heritage and his Danish upbringing and love of the warrior life, Uhtred’s loyalties are constantly tested. As a character, Uhtred makes the perfect narrator. Having ties to both sides, his conflicting feelings neither glorify nor demonise one side over the other. It serves well in building the conflict of the plot.
There may be peace between both camps for now, but it sits uneasily. As a Danish man, Uhtred is a firm believer in destiny. When word spreads of a prophecising dead man rising from the grave, Uhtred cannot resist the temptation to find out what his future has in store for him. With promises of Kingship and grandeur, Uhtred helps the Danes occupy Lundene, threatening the last standing kingdom of Wessex.
Aside from Uhtred there are plenty of other brilliant characters. From prodigiously devout to callous and reckless, England is as divided within its people as it is with the Danes. King Alfred is doing his best to pull everyone together, but he is one man – fighting a losing battle to unite the men hiding their own agendas before he even makes it onto the field.
Hi guys! It’s time for another review of the TBR in today’s Down the TBR Hole post! Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story. The idea is to review the books on your TBR to decide if you still want to read them. The rules are as follows: –
Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
Order on ascending date added.
Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
Read the synopses of the books
Decide: keep it or should it go?
Today I’ll be checking out the next ten books on the list – are you ready?
One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family. As she takes her fiancé’s hand, a stranger with a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl’s life. Amid the chaos, he turns to her groom and mouths: “I promised I would save you”.
Curl up for a sumptuous, exhilarating debut as a young legal clerk seeks to solve the mystery of Phoebe’s death – and uncovers a secret world full of danger.
Doesn’t the synopsis for this sound really intriguing?! Who is this girl and why is she murdered? How does her murder save her fiancé? I want to find out!
In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.
No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.
But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.
I purchased an e-book copy of Everless last year as I loved the sound of it so much. I stand by that decision even now. It’s an unusual concept with a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see how the narrative plays out. It has pretty good reviews on Goodreads too.
In the ten years since its publication in 1988, Stephen Hawking’s classic work has become a landmark volume in scientific writing, with more than nine million copies in forty languages sold worldwide. That edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the intervening years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic worlds. These observations have confirmed many of Professor Hawking’s theoretical predictions in the first edition of his book, including the recent discoveries of the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite (COBE), which probed back in time to within 300,000 years of the universe’s beginning and revealed wrinkles in the fabric of space-time that he had projected.
Eager to bring to his original text the new knowledge revealed by these observations, as well as his own recent research, Professor Hawking has prepared a new introduction to the book, written an entirely new chapter on wormholes and time travel, and updated the chapters throughout.
I am by no means a science geek, but I definitely want to give this a try. After his death last year I added this book to the TBR. The man was a genius; his incredible research and his battle against motor neurone disease (outliving his initial 2 years life expectancy prognosis by 53 years!) will be his lasting legacy.
A dramatic new departure for international bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, FOOLS AND MORTALS takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history.
Fools and Mortals follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry – and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory – propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal.
Showcasing his renowned storyteller’s skill, Bernard Cornwell has created an Elizabethan world incredibly rich in its portrayal: you walk the London streets, stand in the palaces and are on stage in the playhouses, as he weaves a remarkable story in which performances, rivalries and ambition combine to form a tangled web of intrigue.
Fools and Mortals is currently sat on my bookshelf in the hallway. I have dipped into it very recently, if only to share a First Lines Friday post about it. After that intro, I found it hard to put the book away again. I can see myself picking it pretty soon.
Bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir takes on what no fiction writer has done before: creating a dramatic six-book series in which each novel covers one of King Henry VIII’s wives. In this captivating opening volume, Weir brings to life the tumultuous tale of Katherine of Aragón. Henry’s first, devoted, and “true” queen.
A princess of Spain, Catalina is only sixteen years old when she sets foot on the shores of England. The youngest daughter of the powerful monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, Catalina is a coveted prize for a royal marriage – and Arthur, Prince of Wales, and heir to the English throne, has won her hand. But tragedy strikes and Catalina, now Princess Katherine, is betrothed to the future Henry VIII. She must wait for his coming-of-age, an ordeal that tests her resolve, casts doubt on her trusted confidantes, and turns her into a virtual prisoner.
Katherine’s patience is rewarded when she becomes Queen of England. The affection between Katherine and Henry is genuine, but forces beyond her control threaten to rend her marriage, and indeed the nation, apart. Henry has fallen under the spell of Katherine’s maid of honor, Anne Boleyn. Now Katherine must be prepared to fight, to the end if God wills it, for her faith, her legitimacy, and her heart.
The Tudor period and the lives of Henry VIII and his wives is one of my favourite topics of history. When I saw an article interviewing Alison Weir about the books/series in Writer’s Magazine, I had to add the first to the TBR. If I get on with the writing style of this first book then the rest will be going on the TBR too.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart.
I think I am going to relate to Eleanor more than I would like to admit. Whilst I do go out to some social events, I’m not that adventurous. My weekends are not full of pizza and alcohol, but books. I have better than phone chats because I get to go and see my parents at the weekend. I’m hoping this will be an enjoyable read… and it might even teach me something about myself!
Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son—except that the town physician’s son is hopelessly in love with her. And her father’s wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession. It is 1659, the Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and there hasn’t been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin.
Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from her and torturing her until he gets one. Convinced she is innocent, he, Magdalena, and her would-be suitor race against the clock to find the true killer. Approaching Walpurgisnacht, when witches are believed to dance in the forest and mate with the devil, another tattooed orphan is found dead and the town becomes frenzied. More than one person has spotted what looks like the devil—a man with a hand made only of bones. The hangman, his daughter, and the doctor’s son face a terrifying and very real enemy.
My love of historical fiction is shining through in this Down the TBR Hole post.
It’s unusual for such compassion to be shown, one by a hangman and two, to someone accused of witchcraft. Magdalena’s quest to uncover the truth should be an excellent mystery to solve.
The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson’s New York Times bestselling epic teen adventure is now available in paperback.
More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.
As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.
A New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2013
Brandon Sanderson, at this point, is an auto-buy author. Saying that I aim to read ALL his books is a tall order. He has already written a lot of books and so many more are in the planning. I’ve already read one trilogy (The Mistborn trilogy) and started another series (The Stormlight Archives). I’m also reading Elantris later this month. It’s fair to say I am making an effort.
I love the way he builds each fantasy world differently to the next. The one thing the books I have read so far have in common is that magic is based around some physical element; it isn’t an infinite resource. No magically getting rid of inconvenient problems.
AGAINST ALL ODDS, SHE SURVIVED.
THE FIRST GIRL BORN IN FIFTY YEARS.
THEY CALLED HER EVE . . .
All her life Eve has been kept away from the opposite sex. Kept from the truth of her past.
But at sixteen it’s time for Eve to face her destiny. Three potential males have been selected for her. The future of humanity is in her hands. She’s always accepted her fate.
Until she meets Bram.
Eve wants control over her life. She wants freedom.
But how do you choose between love and the future of the human race?
EVE OF MAN is the first in an explosive new trilogy by bestselling authors Giovanna & Tom Fletcher.
I’m on the fence with this one. It’s a work of dystopian fiction, which in theory should be right up my street. I have doubts though. If the narrative is going to consist of constant mournful pining for someone else then I’m just not going to get on with it.
If I didn’t have such a large TBR then maybe I’d give it the benefit of the doubt and try it. I think I’ll drop this one.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came.
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is going nowhere but into my hands to read! I actually just bought my copy of the book a couple of weeks ago. Paperback, because I love Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer series and I don’t doubt I’ll love this one too.
One book out of ten doesn’t feel all that productive, but at least I can say I know my reading preferences. The books I am considering at this point were only added to the TBR a year ago, so comparatively, they aren’t even that old choices. I doubt there will be much I filter off the list at this point… but I can look, right?
Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my choices?
Hi friends and welcome back to my usual Sunday Summary post! I hope you have had a lovely weekend? Mine has been nice and relaxing, for the most part. Aside from catching up with the housework (always a fun job) and going to a charity “Night at the Races” event, it’s been a quiet one. Plenty of time for reading, anyhow.
Earlier in the week, I shared my reading list for August. I shared it earlier than usual as I had a blog tour scheduled on Thursday for Birth of the Mortokai by Desmond Palmer and a First Lines Friday post to round off the working week. Having remembered on Monday/Tuesday, I must confess that I very nearly forgot to draft and schedule my blog tour post! I’ve never had a last-minute panic like that before, nor do I want it again!! That was the only near-disaster of the week though.
I’ve also decided to put a little more pressure on myself to beat a personal best. The all-time record number of books I have read in one year is 60, achieved in 2017. I have been way above and beyond schedule to meet my target of 50 books by the end of the year. To that end, I’ve decided to increase it to 70 books. I’m still just about on schedule to meet that goal, but getting over 60 will be a win in my eyes regardless of hitting 70 or not.
I have lots of books to talk about – so I’ll try to keep each one brief.
I started the week with two reads carried over: Kau D’varza by David Noe and The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor. The Chalk Man was the first book I picked up and finished reading because it’s a lot shorter than Kau D’varza and frankly, I was HYPED about it! I think it’s one of my top reads of the year! Kau D’varza shortly followed, and after a few dedicated evenings to the book I could tick another sci-fi off the list!
Moving onwards, I’ve picked up another two books to read simultaneously for the latter end of the week. First and foremost, I have picked up Thran Book 1: The Birth by Brian McLaughlin. This is the first book on August’s TBR (since I didn’t get around to it in July) and at present, I am nearly 20% through the book. It’s quite a long one at 655 pages, but the world-building, characters and descriptions are fantastic!
On the side, I am also reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. I have to say I haven’t read anything like it in my life. In a good way, it’s kinda weird. Keeping track of the murder and the guests/staff (and how they interact with others) at the Hardcastle estate is exciting. I’m nearly 40% through this read. I’m glad I allowed myself breathing room on the TBR to pick things up at will – I do enjoy some freedom in book choices.
I was hoping to say that I was finished listening to The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman, but I still have half an hour left to listen to. I think I’ll probably wrap up the evening with that once this Sunday Summary is posted. That way I can start afresh tomorrow. I’m torn between a couple of books and I currently have a poll on Twitter – can you help me decide what to listen to next?
Where I had a lot to talk about in the section above, I don’t actually have anything of note here this week! About chuffing right too – I wish I could spend all my money on books instead of bills…
Time to roll my sleeves up and devise next week’s plan (and hopefully remember it in good time…) Fortunately, I have no blog tours this week, so it wouldn’t be a disaster if I was a day late anyway.
I have a few backed up reviews to catch up on and this week, I want to share my thoughts about Sword Song by Bernard Cornwell. I finished reading this back in mid-May if that gives you an idea of how much I have to catch up on. Sword Song is the fourth book in the Last Kingdom / Saxon Stories series. I started reading them in 2017 and I always enjoy picking up the next book.
Since I added quite a few books to the TBR again recently I am going to sort through the next 10 on the list and see if there’s anything there I don’t want anymore. For my sanity’s sake I kinda hope so.
As usual, on Friday it’s the turn on my Shelf Control post. This week I am featuring a series as opposed to just one book! I can’t wait to share the details with you!
Top Blog Posts of the Week
In this section of my Sunday Summary post, I like to offer a quick nod to other amazing book bloggers by sharing some of the posts I really enjoyed reading! This week there is also another link to a bookish article published by the Telegraph. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I have: –
Are you on the countdown to the weekend?! I sure am! I hope you are having a lovely day… whatever it is you are doing!
I’m back again with my regular fortnightly feature – First Lines Friday. It’s a fun way for you lovely readers to try something new, without the bias of a front cover or knowledge of the book before you read it!
So, shall we get on with today’s post? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book!
I am a coward.
I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending. I spent the first twelve years of my life playing at the Battle of the Stirling Bridge with my five big brothers, and even though I am a girl they let me be William Wallace, who is supposed to be one of our ancestors, because I did the most rousing battle speeches. God, I tried hard last week. My God, I tried. But now I know I am a coward. And I’m going to give you anything you ask, everything I can remember. Absolutely Every Last Detail.
Here is the deal we made. I’m putting it down to keep it straight in my own mind. ‘Let’s try this,’ the Hauptsturmführer said to me. ‘How could you be bribed?’ And I said I wanted my clothes back.
This was my last read of the year in 2017 and I couldn’t put it down! If you love historical novels and particularly enjoy books around World War II then this is completely for you. Much of the story is told as a written monologue by our main character. She is so human and so relatable you just want to sympathise with the awful position she is in – a prisoner of war. She is an incredibly strong lady though, the woman portrayed at the beginning is very different from the woman she proves to be.
The sequel is on my reading list (obviously!) and I can’t wait to see where her character can develop from here.
Do you recognise the excerpt or have an idea from the description what the book is? Let’s find out!
Oct. 11th, 1943 – A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.
What do you think of the introduction to Code Name Verity? Have you read the book or added it your TBR?
I am really looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you about Birth of the Mortokai in today’s publication day push. All in all, I managed to read this book pretty quickly. It’s an approachable and enjoyable fantasy novel; my favourite thing about the book is its representation of minority individuals.
Before I jump into my full review, I’d just like to say a quick thank you to the author and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour!
Now with the formalities out of the way, let’s jump right in!
Daniel Welsh was born different—and to Daniel, to be different means to be alone. But what if he’s wrong?
Born an albino with a photographic memory, Daniel Welsh never expected to fit in. Yet, when he is approached by Trinity—a young girl who definitely isn’t human—she reveals a whole new world where he might just belong. Ariest is a place where his features aren’t a disability or the mark of a freak, but rather a trait of powerful mages born of human-faerie unions. His father is a renowned war hero and swordsman, his mother is a human doctor, and that makes him a powerful mage that’ll tip the scales. Magic is real—and so is the threat it brings.
Trinity and her father, a battle mage, aren’t the only ones to have discovered Daniel and his gifts hidden in the human realm.
The Shade have awakened.
Enemies to the fae realm long thought dead have been lying in wait for their moment to strike. Young mages like Daniel are the perfect morsel for their starving appetites and they start their killing spree without delay with the nearest unsuspecting mage boy. Daniel cannot sit idly by while monsters take innocent lives, so he will embrace a destiny he is only just beginning to understand… even if it means losing a life that’s finally worth living.
Birth of the Mortokai is a young adult coming of age fantasy adventure novel. Trigger warning: this novel contains descriptions of albinism, a real genetic disorder that affects 1/17,000 persons worldwide per year.
Birth of the Mortokai is a young adult, coming of age novel. Our main character has gone through a lot even before the story begins. As I mentioned above, my favourite element of the book is that our main character has albinism. This is so rare that I have never come across it before. I think it’s great that the author chose to represent a minority group. The nature of the novel celebrates the way in which it makes Daniel different from others. I love how positive the book is about this character and his uniqueness.
A lot of people will relate to Daniel’s position of being subjected to bullying, singling out and made not to fit in at school. It’s all too common (kids are cruel), but he has within him a resilience that can be admired. This makes him a very likeable character and his progress of discovering himself is something we as a reader want to invest into with him.
Aside from Daniel, there are plenty of characters to help him discover himself and his magical abilities. Fairies, boggarts and powerful mages burst into his normal life and he is swept off his feet (quite literally) into a new world. With his natural instincts and a few friends made along the way, Daniel faces a threat he never knew existed. Clutching to the knowledge he has acquired, courtesy of his photographic memory, he is the linchpin in fighting back against a growing darkness – the Shade.
The pace of the novel is comfortable. It’s easy to read, yet equally, there is plenty of action and new discoveries driving the narrative. At 246 pages, Birth of the Mortokai is a relatively short fantasy novel to delve into. Considering its length compared to other fantasy novels, I wouldn’t say there are any compromises in the structure or plot. The author alludes to a well-established world history and the descriptions are immersive.
I’m hoping to read more of Daniel’s adventures and training to fulfil his potential as the mage he was born to be.
Currently residing in London, England, D.G. Palmer writes in the Spec Fiction genre, using his imagination to create vivid worlds and captivating characters.
An avid reader and player of video games, in the past, he was part of table top roleplaying groups where he nurtured his storytelling by penning several story arcs.
Feel free to follow him on Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram. If you wish to receive updates about his latest books, event dates and other exclusive news, sign up to The World of D.G. Palmer and enter his mind. He warns it can be a mess sometimes, so make sure you wipe your feet on the way out – you never know what you might take with you.
It’s unusual for me to be drafting and publishing my reading list for August so early. Since I have a couple of other blog posts already lined up in the first couple of days in the month, I felt publishing it a couple of days early was better than nearly a week late.
After having such a productive month in June, I oversubscribed a little in July. Three books on the list had over 500 pages each, and the other two probably made up another 500 between them. I think I would have been alright if I had been in a reading mood more often. I didn’t allow for giving myself time to chill and do something else. But, hey ho, I’d rather not burn out in the long run. Does it matter if I take a break and read a book in the last week of one month or the first week of the next? Not really.
Anyway – onwards and upwards! Let’s crack on with the list for August!
Set in the mythical world of Thran, a young warrior named Brutal Mixnor sets out on an adventure to uncover the truth about his father’s mysterious disappearance after a battle years earlier. Some longtime friends and new acquaintances join him in his search, each with their own reasons for braving the danger-filled wilds of the Cruel Pass. Follow the young adventurers and watch as their powers grow, along with the strength of the enemies they encounter. Discover the complex, imperfect, characters of all races, comprising the full spectrum of alignments (good, neutral, and evil) that weave their way into and out of the story, leaving their mark on the reader as the world of Thran is pushed towards cataclysmic war and suffering. For readers familiar with the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons(R), Thran Book I: The Birth will feel like a warm wave of nostalgia washing over you, and the unfamiliar will get a glimpse of what it’s like to be immersed into the heart of an adventure that transports you into a world where magic abounds and almost anything is possible, but nothing is certain. Visit https: //www.worldofthran.com/ to learn more about the world of Thran, including: character portraits, the world map, the pantheon of deities, and more!
I picked up a copy of this fantasy novel via Voracious Readers Only and I didn’t get the chance to pick it up last month, as intended. It’s the first book I’ll be picking up this month, however. I’ve had a very brief look at it – the first couple of pages really, and I’m optimistic that it will be an enjoyable read!
Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, you’ll learn how wrong you’ve been.
What started out as a normal art restoration project for Melinda Martin soon took on a life of its own. Could this unusual painting actually be a Botticelli masterpiece thought to have perished as part of Savonarola’s Bonfire of the Vanities? Had Melinda’s friend, Lara, a well-known art picker inadvertently acquired stolen art; art that might have ties to the occult and worth millions? Did a bad business decision endanger everyone who touched this potential treasure?
When the painting disappears and both women are found dead, the police think it’s an open and shut case. The husband – it’s always the husband. He had means, motive, and opportunity, and acted strangely cold after the fact.
Is it a case of mistaken identity? Does a secret relationship put Mr. Martin in the crosshairs of an assassin sent to retrieve the painting? Or is he really a sociopath forger with mysterious ties to the Vatican?
Two sides of the same coin. Completely alike. Completely different.
I’m on another blog tour for one of K. J. McGillick’s books! Having read and enjoyed no less than four other books of hers already, I’m now going to be reviewing Duality for the upcoming tour. At this point, I will auto-accept tours for, or buy, her books. I think that says how much I like them…
Three parks, three deaths, four victims, two grieving families, one murder enquiry team and an unknown number of killers. Can an answer be found? Whitechapel is being gentrified, the many green spaces of the area, which typify London as a capital city, give the illusion of peace, tranquillity and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder. Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula doesn’t dislike Inspector Merry but he has hardly set the world of the Murder Investigation Team East alight. And, it looked as it the inspector was already putting the death of the young female jogger, found in the park with her head bashed in, down to a mugging `gone wrong’. The victim deserved more. But the inspector isn’t ruling anyone out; the evidence will, eventually, lead him to an answer…
I am also taking part in a blog tour for The Fourth Victim this month. I was already looking forward to the book based on the genre and synopsis, but my impromptu read of The Chalk Man (and LOVING it!) has got me all the more excited to read more books in the thriller genre.
Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.
Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.
But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.
A rare epic fantasy that doesn’t recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It’s also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.
Starting my Shelf Control series recently has got me thinking about how much of a backlist I have. It’s ridiculously long and I need to do something about it. So, here we are! This is the oldest item on the TBR; by the end of the month I’m hoping to be able to tick it off the list!
I have read a few books by Brandon Sanderson and really enjoyed them all, so I have no doubts about picking another of his books up at all.
So, only four books on the list this month. I am very aware that a couple of these are quite long, so I’m trying to take the pressure off. I would like to read more, but I’ll play it by ear. I may get the chance to pick up another impromptu book month and actually have time for it without sacrificing something else…