First Lines Friday – 17/01/2020

I haven’t shared a First Lines Friday post in just over a month. Wow! What with Christmas and New Year, this type of post has been on hold on my blog. However, for a few weeks at least we are back! Today’s featured book is one that I picked up a good while ago from work, of all places. Someone had a sort through of their books and brought them in to see if anyone else wanted them.

I was good actually in just picking up this one! I have heard great things about this author, for reasons I hope will become apparent. It’s written by a renowned author and I wanted to try one of their books to see if I’ll be interested in the rest!

Anyway, let’s jump into the opening paragraph. Can you guess what, or who, it is?

 

My name is Sebastian Rudd, and though I am a well-known street lawyer, you will not see my name on billboards, on bus benches, or screaming at you from the yellow pages. I don’t pay to be seen on television, though I am often there. My name is not listed in any phone book. I do not maintain a traditional office. I carry a gun, legally, because my name and face tend to attract attention from the type of people who also carry guns and don’t mind using them. I live alone, usually sleep alone, and do not possess the patience and understanding to maintain friendships. The law is my life, always consuming and occasionally fulfilling. I wouldn’t call it a “jealous mistress” as some forgotten person once so famously did. It’s more like an overbearing wife who controls the check-book. There’s no way out.

 

 

Shall we find out what it is?

 

Rogue Lawyer – John Grisham

Goodreads – Rogue Lawyer

On the right side of the law. Sort of.

Sebastian Rudd is not your typical street lawyer. He works out of a customized bulletproof van, complete with Wi-Fi, a bar, a small fridge, fine leather chairs, a hidden gun compartment, and a heavily armed driver. He has no firm, no partners, no associates, and only one employee, his driver, who’s also his bodyguard, law clerk, confidant, and golf caddy. He lives alone in a small but extremely safe penthouse apartment, and his primary piece of furniture is a vintage pool table. He drinks small-batch bourbon and carries a gun.

Sebastian defends people other lawyers won’t go near: a drug-addled, tattooed kid rumored to be in a satanic cult, who is accused of molesting and murdering two little girls; a vicious crime lord on death row; a homeowner arrested for shooting at a SWAT team that mistakenly invaded his house.  Why these clients? Because he believes everyone is entitled to a fair trial, even if he, Sebastian, has to cheat to secure one. He hates injustice, doesn’t like insurance companies, banks, or big corporations; he distrusts all levels of government and laughs at the justice system’s notions of ethical behavior.

Sebastian Rudd is one of John Grisham’s most colorful, outrageous, and vividly drawn characters yet. Gritty, witty, and impossible to put down, Rogue Lawyer showcases the master of the legal thriller at his very best.

 

Purchase links: Amazon UK     Amazon US     Waterstones

 

Did you enjoy today’s First Lines Friday post and extract of Rogue Lawyer? Is it on your list to read as well? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: The Violinist’s Apprentice – Isabella Mancini

Hello readers! I’m back with another book review today, as promised. If like me, you enjoy time-travel blended with historical fiction, then this will be the second review in as many days that may be of interest to you! Where yesterday’s featured book encompassed many well known time periods throughout history, today’s featured book gives us a detailed, beautiful insight into Italy in 1660. The Violinist’s Apprentice is a dark, beautiful and intriguing novel encompassing time-travel, historical fiction and magical realism!

As always, I like to take the opportunity to thank Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and inviting me to join the tour. As part of this tour there is also a giveaway being hosted, so don’t forget to check out the details below!

So, would you like to find out the details of the book?

 

The Violinist’s Apprentice

Goodreads – The Violinist’s Apprentice

A dark journey through time.

It’s on a group trip to Rome that something terrifying and mysterious happens, whirling musical Clementina back in time to 17th century Italy. Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Rome becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. But soon he discovers that Clementina is not all she appears. She must surely be a witch.  How can she return to the 21st century again? Meanwhile, in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor plots.

 

Purchase Links –  Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

The Violinist’s Apprentice is told predominantly from the viewpoint of Clementina. She is sent back in time to retrieve an invaluable artefact from the period – a Stradivari violin. A novice player of the violin herself, she becomes apprenticed to none other than the creator, Antonio Stradivarius himself.

The first thing that that really impressed me with this book is the descriptions! I’m not the sort of person that loves to travel; although Italy is the country I haven’t been to that I would like to visit. If I hadn’t gone into this book that way inclined already then I certainly would be by the time I finished! It’s easy to step into our MC Clemetina’s shoes and share the sights, smells and experiences she lives through.

I like that the gap in science and technology was bridged by a sort of magic, based loosely on the early understandings of science and chemistry. Otherwise, this would have been a very difficult tale to write and get to a conclusion. It incorporates a bit of magical realism into the narrative but I personally really enjoyed this. Something else I enjoyed is the variety of characters and the diversity in the interactions between them. I do feel there is a lot to learn about some of the characters though, which may be addressed if this is a series. There are a number of unexplained events and interactions that I feel could hint at a series being made of this, or otherwise need elaborating on more.

Italy in that period has its beauty and lavishness, but it does have its darker side too. The story touches on the previous devastation caused by civil war, and the consequences of plague and illness in the presence of many orphaned children. The tale isn’t painted through rose-tinted glasses by any means, but rather adds greater depth and background to a realistic portrayal of Italy at that time. Overall the historical element to the novel is pretty authentic.

 

Giveaway to Win a signed paperback of An Englishwoman in America (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494325/

 

Author Bio

Isabella Mancini is the nom de plume of prolific author Olga Swan, published by Crooked Cat Books. She has a BA Hons (Open) in English Language and Literature and a lifelong love for writing and language. For 12 years she lived in SW France, but returned to the UK in 2017, where she now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and elderly French rescue dog Bruno.

Previous books by Olga Swan:

An Englishwoman in America, From Paradis to Perdition, Pensioners in Paradise, The Mazurek Express,Lamplight, Vichyssoise, 3rd Degree Murder

 

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @IsabellaManci10.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ManciniIsabella1

Facebook Group: Books, Music and the Past

Amazon page for Isabella Mancini: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Isabella-Mancini/e/B08127KJJW/

Amazon page for Olga Swan:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B013IBD4PU

 

 

 

Blog Tour Review: Million Eyes – C. R. Berry

Today’s post is the second post of January’s blog tour season here at Reviewsfeed! I’ve signed up to no less than eight blog tours this month – there are just so many great books I want to feature! As always, before I jump into my review for Million Eyes by C. R. Berry, I’d like to thank Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour!

Million Eyes

Goodreads – Million Eyes

How do you fight an enemy who has a million eyes?

What if we’re living in an alternate timeline? What if the car crash that killed Princess Diana, the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, and the shooting of King William II weren’t supposed to happen?

Ex-history teacher Gregory Ferro finds evidence that a cabal of time travellers is responsible for several key events in our history. These events all seem to hinge on a dry textbook published in 1995, referenced in a history book written in 1977 and mentioned in a letter to Edward III in 1348.

Ferro teams up with down-on-her-luck graduate Jennifer Larson to get to the truth and discover the relevance of a book that seems to defy the arrow of time. But the time travellers are watching closely. Soon the duo are targeted by assassins willing to rewrite history to bury them.

Million Eyes is a fast-paced conspiracy thriller about power, corruption and destiny.

 

Purchase Links – Elsewhen Press      Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

Trailer 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOLjecCfNSo

https://youtu.be/VzgW-oOOCj0

 

My Thoughts…

I’ve really enjoyed science-fiction and time travel-related novels lately. Once I would have said this was one of “my” genres, but the one I read the least. That’s not proving the case at the moment! I’ve read a number of great science-fiction novels and I think that is spurring me on to read more.

Million Eyes combines science-fiction and historical-fiction through its alternate timeline/time-travel premise and that works really well for me! They are both genres I read a lot of independently of each other. Now, I’ve read quite a few novels where the two genres overlap and I just love it! Add in the conspiracy thriller element to the novel as well and it makes for a brilliant read!

Million Eyes is a technology giant. Phones, televisions, laptops… you name it, they make it. Their products are consumed on masse and it has made them a very rich and powerful entity. That’s not the only technology they have created, however, and it’s certainly not all available to the public. When their biggest secret is sent back through time, they’ll do anything to get it back.

I really enjoyed how this story touches base with many different time periods throughout history. Each of the time periods has been chosen carefully so readers will be familiar with them. Even non-history readers are at least aware of The Black Death, The Wars of the Roses and most recently, the death of Princess Diana. Personally, I really enjoyed how this story involved the mystery of the Princes in the Tower and their disappearance.

Alternate timeline novels can get confusing if not written very well but this was definitely not the case with Million Eyes. It’s very clear as to when history has veered from its normal course. That said, the story also cleverly loops on itself and interacts with history as we know it, making you think that some of these events were always meant to happen.

I’m glad that this is the first book of a trilogy and I can’t wait to see the future books of the series published!

 

Author Bio

C.R. Berry caught the writing bug at the tender age of four and has never recovered. His earliest stories were filled with witches, monsters, evil headteachers, Disney characters and the occasional Dalek. He realised pretty quickly that his favourite characters were usually the villains. He wonders if that’s what led him to become a criminal lawyer. It’s certainly why he’s taken to writing conspiracy thrillers, where the baddies are numerous and everywhere.

After a few years getting a more rounded view of human nature’s darker side, he quit lawyering and turned to writing full-time. He now works as a freelance copywriter and novelist and blogs about conspiracy theories, time travel and otherworldly weirdness.

He was shortlisted in the 2018 Grindstone Literary International Novel Competition and has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Storgy, Dark Tales, Theme of Absence and Suspense Magazine. He was also shortlisted in the Aeon Award Contest, highly commended by Writers’ Forum, and won second prize in the inaugural To Hull and Back Humorous Short Story Competition.

He grew up in Farnborough, Hampshire, a town he says has as much character as a broccoli. He’s since moved to the “much more interesting and charming” Haslemere in Surrey.

Social Media Links –

Website: https://crberryauthor.wordpress.com

http://millioneyes.co.uk/

https://gregoryferro.home.blog/

https://twitter.com/CRBerry1

https://www.facebook.com/CRBerry1/

 

Sunday Summary – 12/01/2020

It’s Sunday again guys! Where does the week go? You know what that means though – it’s time for another Sunday Summary post!

I arrived a little late to the party on sharing my reading list for January. I had a number of year-end review posts I wanted to share last week, which I did. So, I didn’t get around to sharing my monthly TBR until Monday this week.

On Tuesday, I finished the last of my 2019 posts by sharing my top reads of the year! Unfortunately, I couldn’t include all 30 of my five-star reviews, so I managed to narrow it down to four standalone books and one trilogy. Not bad going really.

Friday’s post was a promo feature post for an author and series I have featured previously here on Reviewsfeed. Victory Day is the latest book in the Battle Ground series by Rachel Churcher, set in a dystopian UK post-Brexit and Scottish Independence.

 

Also, as a side note, I hit 1000 blog subscribers this week! Now I’ve said that, it had best not go down haha! It does fluctuate, but I have proof – here! I promise it happened and I am so happy!

 

Books Read

Last week was absolutely mad. I had a few shorter reads, as well as coming to the end of one audiobook and starting another. There’s less content this week, but I’m still really happy with my reading progress. I’m still two books ahead of schedule for my Goodreads challenge and in good stead to complete my TBR for the month!

Picking up where I left off in last week’s Sunday Summary, I have been reading Agricola’s Bane by Nancy Jardine. I was 16% through the book as of last Sunday and I finished this one on Friday. After reading this I was really excited to find out that this isn’t the end of the series, so that’s a bonus too!

Yesterday I started my current read, Two by K. J McGillick. Not long ago I read and reviewed the first book in this trilogy. This second book has loose ties to the first book and characters in common, so it’s good in that it’s easy to understand how it follows on. Equally, you don’t have to remember each and every detail of it because the important stuff is summarised as well. As always, I am really enjoying this and I’m looking forward to sharing my review later this month!

Oh, Darkdawn. I’ve really enjoyed listening to this audiobook this week. A lot of the threads from the previous books are all finally coming together and it’s great! I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the narrative style. I still have 18 and a half glorious hours to go until the conclusion. Question is, so I savour or devour them?

 

Books Discovered

 

I have been good as gold and not added a single book to the TBR this week. Neither have I bought any. Do I get a gold medal because that really is an achievement!

 

Coming Up…

 

Next week, my blog is going to be full of blog tour posts and reviews. I’m taking part in three tours over the course of the next week and my first post is tomorrow. In tomorrow’s review, I am sharing my thoughts on a time-travel conspiracy thriller novel, Million Eyes. That post is all scheduled and will be published in the morning, so I hope you can take a moment to have a read!

My next blog tour post will be shared on Tuesday. In this post I am also publishing a review; however, this one is for The Violinist’s Apprentice. This book also has elements of time travel, so if you like this kind of thing then my blog content will definitely be up your street!

I’ll take a brief break on reviews to share a more casual post on Friday. It’s been so long since I drafted one of my regular First Lines Friday/Shelf Control posts that I couldn’t remember which of the two I wrote last. I last shared a Shelf Control on the 20th December, so this week I’ll prepare a First Lines Friday post and try to encourage you to add another book to the TBR. Like you need help with that, bookish friends!

I’m back with a book review on Saturday as well guys! Thankfully I read some of these books last month to make my life easier, and Sixty Minutes was one of those books. I’ve had plenty of time to get my thoughts together for this review and I’ll be sharing them with you then.

Last, but certainly not least, we’ll be back here again this time next week with another Sunday Summary post.

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

https://thebelgianreviewer.wordpress.com/2020/01/01/10-most-anticipated-reads-of-2020/

http://readerdad.co.uk/2020/01/07/the-god-game-by-danny-tobey/

https://theorangutanlibrarian.wordpress.com/2020/01/12/best-books-of-the-last-decade/

https://bibliophagistreviews.wordpress.com/2020/01/12/book-review-to-be-taught-if-fortunate-by-becky-chambers/

That’s all from me in this week’s update! What have you been reading?

 

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Blog Tour Promo: Victory Day – Rachel Churcher

Hello readers and happy Friday! In today’s post, I am pleased to be featuring the next book in the Battle Ground series by Rachel Churcher on day one of blog tour run by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources!

I started to take part in the blog tours for this series a little late due to other commitments. Consequently, I have been unable to review the later books without reading the first ones. I have got the first few books of the series on my Kindle to read though, so I will be reading and reviewing the series in full at a later date.

For now, I have featured a couple of these books on my blog previously. If you are interested in the series, you can take a look at my promo posts for Darkest Hour and Fighting Back here.

And now onto the details of the fifth book of the series! If you like the sound of it, don’t forget to check out some of the reviews written by other bloggers on the tour in the next few days!

 

Victory Day (Battle Ground #5)

Goodreads – Victory Day

Bex Ellman and Ketty Smith meet in London. As the war heats up around them, Bex and Ketty must learn to trust each other. With her friends and family in danger, Bex needs Ketty to help rescue them. For Ketty, working with Bex is a matter of survival. When Victory is declared, both will be held accountable for their decisions.

The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK, after Brexit and Scottish independence.

 

Purchase Link – http://tallerbooks.com/battleground/

 

Author Bio

Rachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction. In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rachel_Churcher

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelchurcherwriting/

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/RachelChurcherWriting

Blog: https://blog.tallerbooks.com

Top Reads of 2019!

I really enjoyed writing my Year in Books post, which looked back at my reading progress, resolutions and achievements in 2019. Today’s post is going to reflect to last year’s reading as well. It’s the perfect time to talk about my favourite reads of the year – why I loved them and why I hope I can persuade you to read them as well!

I have read a number of similar posts by bloggers and enjoyed them. Some have even written worst book posts, although I have decided I won’t be writing one of those posts. I didn’t read a bad book at all last year and none were unfinished. It wouldn’t be fair to a book on that list to label it as the “worst” just because it was “okay” instead of “great”.

So, instead, let’s spread some book positivity and talk about my best reads in 2019! Unfortunately, I can’t feature all 30 of my 5* reads of the year, so I have narrowed it down to the best of the best, and most likely, the books I’ll want to re-read in the future! I take that as the best measure of which books made the biggest impression on me throughout the year. So, let’s dive in!

 

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

Goodreads – The Testaments

Purchase Links: – Amazon UK     Amazon US    Waterstones

I cannot tell you how excited I was for the publication of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood last year. It’s rare that I pre-order books in anticipation of their publication, but this was a notable exception. That actually worked out in my favour too, as I was entered into the prize draw held by my local store to win a signed copy – and I won!
It’s funny, because the first time I read the prequel, The Handmaid’s Tale years ago, I hated it. I put it down about a third of the way through. I was only a teenager then; the appetite for this kind of narrative has come with maturity, I think.
I’m glad that The Testaments wasn’t written too similarly to The Handmaid’s Tale. I think trying to mimic the style of the original 30 years later would have been a mistake. I like the fresh perspectives that we get in The Testaments from multiple characters and backgrounds within and around Gilead. It’s a lot more modern and consequently, more applicable to readers in today’s society!

 

The Chalk Man – C. J. Tudor

Goodreads – The Chalk Man

Purchase Links: – Amazon UK     Amazon US      Waterstones

After reading The Chalk Man, I was surprised to be reminded that this is the debut novel by C. J. Tudor. I already had my eye on other books written by her, but I will certainly be reading them now! I mean, I’ve even recommended this to my mum to read; she has my copy at the moment.

The Chalk Man is the kind of book that has you guessing until the end. It’s cleverly written, entwining two timelines 30 years apart to unravel the truth behind the identity of the chalk man and the murder of a young woman that has remained unsolved for 30 years.

The characters are something else as well! There is so much depth to them that they are very real and easy to invest into. They are also portrayed cleverly and I think the author has written them in such a way as to suggest what your perception of them should be. It’s so subtle but it’s all part of maintaining the suspense and mystery.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy

Purchase Links: – Amazon UK     Amazon US      Waterstones

There was no way I was going to be able to pick just one of these books to feature. Individually and collectively they are brilliant fantasy novels. I wouldn’t describe myself as a binge reader particularly. I like the variety. All the same, I devoured this series! I read the first book on holiday in October and finished the series with a matter of weeks until the end of the year!
The combination of a unique premise, fantastical characters and creatures, magic and humour worked really well for me! I’ll play the devil’s advocate and say that I did not expect to like the whole relationship element between a couple of the main characters. Yet, I did. Their relationship, in my opinion, is a lot less sexual than most. Both characters have grown up without a real sense of family, so their union is emotional; it’s about belonging and trust.
As always, Laini Taylor’s writing is beautiful. The narrative is effortless to read. These books may be several hundred pages each, but the pages sail by as you get lost in the story!

 

Simon Says – Jo Wesley

Goodreads – Simon Says

Purchase Links: – Amazon UK      Amazon US

Now we get to my second-best rated book of the year and it was a tight contender for the top spot! I was blown away by this book. The subject matter is dark and gritty and it drew me in immediately. Simon Says is also a dual timeline narrative – one of my favourite formats. As a reader, we get to experience events spiralling to their feared, inevitable conclusion in Cindy’s childhood and live through the aftermath and her confronting those demons in her adult life.

All of the characters are very true to life and reflect the different ways in which people react to such a traumatic event. It was an emotional rollercoaster for me too. From feeling sick to sad and then rage at how a young girl has had to go through something so awful, I felt it all.

I read Simon Says back in September 2019 and to this day I still think about it occasionally. It’s stuck with me. I can’t tell you why, but it has.

Crowfall – Ed McDonald

Goodreads – Crowfall

Purchase Links: – Amazon UK      Amazon US     Waterstones

Finally, a shout out to my favourite read of 2019 and of course, it would be a fantasy novel! The world, the magic and fantasy setting of Crowfall is truly unique. I have loved the series from day 1 and I was very happy, but equally sad to have finished it! It’s definitely very high up on my list of books to re-read.

Ryhalt is an anti-hero you cannot help but invest into. He’s a flawed, unlucky in love drunk at the beck and call of a deity essentially as powerful as a God. He’s been corrupted by magic poisoning a land known as the Misery… for a very good reason! In an epic battle between the Nameless and the Deep Kings, humans are no more than collateral damage – and they want to unleash a magical weapon just like the one that corrupted the Misery in the first place!

Grimdark is a genre rapidly going up in my good books. I also really loved reading Mark Lawrence’s The Broken Empire series. Between Mark Lawrence and Ed McDonald, they have set a VERY high bar for the genre.

So there you have it! These were my best reads of 2019! Have you read any of these books or added them to your TBR? I’d love to know what you make of them in the comments.

 

 

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***Please note this post contains affiliate links, meaning that I will earn a small commission on purchases made through them. If you like what you read and are interested in purchasing a copy of the book(s) featured in this post, please consider using these links and supporting a book blogger!

Thank you!***

Reading List – January 2020

It’s the 7th January and I am only just publishing my TBR now! Yes, I’m later than usual, but I had some really fun posts I wanted to share that rounded up 2019 and introduced 2020. In fact, I still have one post left to share! If you want to see which books I rate the best of 2019, keep an eye out on my blog over the next couple of days.

For now though, let’s take a look at which books I am kick-starting 2020 with!

 

The Violinist’s Apprentice – Isabella Mancini

Goodreads – The Violinist’s Apprentice

A dark journey through time.

On a group trip to Rome, musician Clementina is whirled back in time to 17th century Italy.

Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Italy becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. They kiss under an orange tree, and she persuades him to help a poor young boy from the nearby orphanage.

But people begin to notice just how ‘strange’ the young woman at the artist’s side is. She must be a witch!

Meanwhile, in present-day Scotland, her brother suffers a life-threatening accident, and in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor frets about global warming.

Can Clementina find a way to return to the 21st century?

 

It feels weird talking in the sense of “I’m going to be reading this book in January” because, well, I already have! I read this within the first few days of January as I am taking part in a blog tour in a week’s time.

I’m looking forward to sharing my review of this one; it combined an element of science-fiction, time-travel, and historical fiction. Previously, I have really enjoyed how these genres work together and this was no exception for The Violinist’s Apprentice.

 

Agricola’s Bane – Nancy Jardine

Goodreads – Agricola’s Bane

A.D. 84 Northern Roman Britain

Nith of Tarras helps Enya of Garrigill in the search for her kin, missing after the disastrous battle at Beinn na Ciche fought between the Caledonian warriors and the mighty Ancient Roman legions. Enya soon has a heartrending choice to make. Should she tread Vacomagi territory that’s swarming with Roman auxiliaries to find her brother? Or, should she head south in search of her cousin who has probably been enslaved by the Romans?

The Commander of the Britannic Legions and Governor of Britannia – General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola – is determined to claim more barbarian territory for the Roman Empire, indeed plans to invade the whole island, but finds not all decisions are his to make. It increasingly seems that the goddess, Fortuna, does not favour him.

The adventures of the Garrigill clan continue…

In Book 4, the tales of the Garrigill Clan come to readers of the series via members of their second generation of Brigantes – their fight against the oppressive forces of the Ancient Roman Legions and their General Agricola a continuing and unending struggle.

 

Agricola’s Bane is my current read at the time of drafting this post. Again, this read is in preparation for a blog tour which I am taking part in a little later this month. This is the last book of The Celtic Fervour series and I’m at that point where I want to read it to find out how the author concludes events but I don’t want it to end at the same time! You know what I mean?

 

Two – K. J. McGillick

Goodreads – Two

Her husband wants her tucked away in a psychiatric ward. His business partner wants her dead.

Exclusive Paris art gallery owner Isabella Armond’s life spins out of control when she discovers her husband Dr. Adrien Armond has been brokering and trafficking in black market organs and using her beloved gallery to launder the money. Now Europol believes she is a key part of the conspiracy that destroyed Notre Dame, Westminster Abbey and St. Peter’s Basilica.

In a race against time, Isabella must use all the resources at her disposal to clear her name, outwit her husband and salvage her life and business.

 

I have read a number of books by K. J. McGillick and I have enjoyed every single one to date. You guessed it, this is another read and review for a blog tour. That said, I do have a little longer for this as my post is due towards the end of the month! All I can say is thank goodness I started my blog tour reading last month; otherwise I’d be in trouble at this point!!

I love the sound of this particular novel. It sounds so sinister, and makes you wonder who you can really trust!

 

A Crown in Time – Jennifer Macaire

Goodreads – A Crown in Time

Since it was perfected in 2900, time travel has been reserved for an elite, highly trained few. However, on certain occasions, a Corrector is needed to rectify a mistake in the past.

Do your job well, and you’ll go down in history. Fail, and you will be erased from Time . . .

In the far future, a convicted criminal is given a chance at redemption. The Corrector Program at Tempus University is sending Isobel back in time, to the year 1270, to rewrite history.
Her mission? To save the crown of France.

If she follows the Corrector’s Handbook everything should run smoothly. But soon, Isobel finds herself accompanying a hot-headed young noble on his way to fight the infidel in Tunis: a battle Isobel knows is fated to be lost.

Isobel must fulfil her duty, knowing she can never return to her time, knowing one wrong move can doom the future, or doom her to be burned as a witch . . .

The first in an exciting new time-slip series, from the author of the action-packed Time for Alexander series, Jennifer Macaire. A CROWN IN TIME will have you on the edge of your seat from the very first page . . .

 

Jennifer Macaire is also fantastic at bringing together historical fiction and science-fiction. This time last year I was introduced to her as an author and since I have enjoyed a number of books in her The Time for Alexander series.

I am looking forward to A Crown in Time as, like The Time for Alexander series, it combines science-fiction and historical fiction. I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few time-travel related novels lately, so I have high hopes for this one too!

 

Gardens of the Moon – Steven Erikson

Goodreads – Gardens of the Moon

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…

Conceived and written on a panoramic scale, Gardens of the Moon is epic fantasy of the highest order–an enthralling adventure by an outstanding new voice.

 

I set myself a challenge this year to take part in the Beat the Backlist challenge. My aim for the year is to read the 25 oldest items on my TBR (minimum). Gardens of the Moon is number one – and the oldest! Added to my TBR in December 2014… it really is about time I got to it. I have heard amazing reviews of it too, so I’ll be getting stuck in very soon!

 

The Alloy of Law – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – The Alloy of Law

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.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.

 

The Alloy of Law is another candidate for my Beat the Backlist challenge! I have a lot of Brandon Sanderson books making up this challenge, so I am trying to spread them out as best as I can.

The Alloy of Law is a second Mistborn series; it has been years since I read the first one! It might be wise to brush myself up on what happened in it, but not essential. It’s set much later than the first series, so it shouldn’t make too much difference that I read the others ages ago!

 

These are Not the Trinity Papers – Vale Zalecki

Goodreads – These Are Not the Trinity Papers

Isaac Beringer knows the thesis he penned during his psychotic fit was utterly absurd and he was right to be laughed out of academia. Yet decades later, he finds himself summoned to the United States by Elias Cohen, the CEO of a multi-billion dollar technological giant who just happens to be his biggest fan. Elias may be beautiful and brilliant, but Isaac knows he must also be extremely batty to consider Isaac’s thesis the greatest scientific work of the 21st century. He soon finds out how deep the rabbit hole goes; a rabbit hole that houses a sprawling neural network of servers designed to emulate human learning, human corpses 3D-printed with flesh and blood, and a monumental amount of effort to resurrect one particular person from the dead. And Elias isn’t even his only fan.

Isaac might have shaken off his insanity, but unfortunately, the world around him has just fallen in love with it.

 

I suspect this will overlap into February, but my last read of the month is one I was asked to review by the author. His request came in after reviewing another science-fiction book, Ctrl+S by Andy Briggs.

Again, this one has a definite science-fiction theme. Maybe I can’t classify this as a lesser-read genre anymore. Anyway, I was really intrigued by the synopsis so I am grateful Vale Zalecki approached me to ask for a review.

It’s a good job I feel motivated with the New Year and a fresh start because I have plenty of reading to be getting on with this month!

What are you reading?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 05/01/2020

Good evening readers! It’s the end of another week and time for another Sunday Summary post.

With Christmas over, I’m now back and enjoying the fresh start that comes with New Year! My first post of the week, year and decade too focussed on my goals and reading aspirations for 2020! I have really enjoyed reading other bloggers reading goals for the New Year as well.

On Friday I shared my review of 2019; the books I read and whether I met the goals I set myself. I didn’t complete both of them, but I managed the main one! Again, I’ve read quite a few of these posts by other bloggers too. They must be a popular topic as I have had more likes on that post than a lot of posts I have written previously! So, thank you guys!

 

Books Read

Last week things had been pretty quiet on the reading front, as I was spending a lot of time with family over the festive period. This week, however, has been a COMPLETELY different story! Sorry guys, this is a long section!

In last week’s Sunday Summary, I shared my current read at the time, Million Eyes. I was only a few percent through the book and mentioned that I needed to get my skates on with it. It’s safe to say I got my skates on – I finished the book within two days and just before the end of 2019!

The next book on my list is one I was hoping to finish in December, but ended up overlapping into January… just! After reading Million Eyes I started Fires of the Dead by Jed Herne. As a novella, it isn’t too long a book, although still plenty that there is ample storyline to it. This is a nice short fantasy story with a variety of characters, an interesting magic system and an unexpected ending. I really enjoyed reading it!

I quickly moved on to my first official read of January, although I haven’t published my list yet… soon friends! The Violinist’s Apprentice is the next unread book on my list of upcoming blog tours. And yeah, I’ve read this one in its entirety this week too. It combines a couple of genres I have enjoyed together before: science-fiction (time travel) and historical fiction. The Violinist’s Apprentice has a well-developed protagonist, beautifully descriptive narrative and a fast-paced plot, so I really enjoyed this one too!

Finally, I’ll briefly mention my current read, which I started this morning. Those that follow my blog may be aware that I have been reading and reviewing Nancy Jardine’s Celtic Fervour series of books. I’ve just started the last book of the series and I’m currently 16% through this book.

Now… onto the audiobooks! On Friday I finished listening to Cilka’s Journey and oh my gosh, I’ll have a lot of fantastic things to say when it’s time to review it! I loved it. It’s a terrible story and as with The Tattooist of Auschwitz, is based on a real woman’s tragic story. It focuses on a Jewish woman who is imprisoned in Auschwitz/Birkenau. Being a young 16-year-old girl in such a place, you can only imagine what happened to her there. She is then imprisoned after the war for, “sleeping with the enemy”… like she had a choice! Terrible story, but well written!

This is the last one… I promise! After finishing Cilka’s Journey, I started listening to Darkdawn! I haven’t listened to much though.

 

Books Discovered

I have read a couple of posts this week that have prompted a couple of additions to my To Be Read pile.

The first book is The Keepers by John Marrs; I think the premise of the story is really interesting and relevant in an increasingly technological world. As a new release this year, there isn’t a published cover for it yet.

The second book is non-fiction and may just help with my blogging. Perhaps not too. There are mixed reviews as to whether it’s helpful or not, but I guess it depends on how experienced a blogger you are. I don’t profess to know everything and/or do what’s best in terms of marketing it. I just write what I want and when I want to and if people like it, then that’s great! Maybe I’ll learn something new?

 

Coming Up…

I have quite a few blog posts to schedule in next week before the main onslaught of blog tours begin.

It’s already several days into January and I haven’t as yet shared my TBR for January! I know I’m late, but I wanted to get my end of year review/ New Year posts out of the way first! If you are keen to find what I am reading this month, I’m sharing the list on Tuesday.

An additional post I have promised to share is my Favourite Reads of 2019. I have seen quite a few of these style posts by other bloggers, for best and worst books. I haven’t read any “bad” books in 2019, so I am just going to share a “best books” post on Thursday.

The first of my blog tour posts will be shared on Friday. I have been promoting a number of Rachel Churcher’s Battle Ground series books. Friday’s post is for the latest in the series, Victory Day.

As always, I’ll be rounding off the week with my Sunday Summary post!

 

Top Blog Posts Read This Week

https://donjimmyreviews.wordpress.com/2019/11/29/ultimate-book-tag/

https://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com/2019/12/30/most-disappointing-reads-of-2019/

https://thehermitlibrarian.wordpress.com/2020/01/01/the-hermit-librarian-2020-goals/

https://bibliophagistreviews.wordpress.com/2020/01/05/monthly-wrap-up-december-2019/

https://stacked-reviews.com/2019-in-books-reflection-time/

https://booksnest.co.uk/post/4-years-of-being-a-creator-on-instagram-what-ive-learnt-my-struggles-and-successes/

https://gemsbooknook.wordpress.com/2020/01/03/the-golden-rules-of-blogging-by-robin-houghton/

https://thebelgianreviewer.wordpress.com/2020/01/01/10-most-anticipated-reads-of-2020/

That was a long one, but I can finally say that’s all from me in this week’s Sunday Summary post! What have you been reading? What resolutions have you set yourself for 2020? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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My 2019 Year in Books

In today’s post, I want to take a look back at my progress and achievements against my goals in 2019. If you didn’t see my goal setting post last year, here’s a link to my … post so you can check out what goals I set for myself this time last year.

Of course, if you are also interested in checking out my goals for 2020, I’ve also shared those details and you can find that post here.

 

Goodreads Challenge

Initially, I set myself a goal of 50 books in 2019, but I managed to reach this reasonably early on and so upped it to 70. I’m pleased to say that I managed to beat this target and read 72 books, which is great in its own right. What makes it better, however, is that it’s a new personal best! I’ve beaten my record of 60 books set in 2017 and honestly, I am over the moon!

Across those 72 books, I managed to read a little over 26,000 pages, which is pretty mental when you think about it! Want to make things even crazier? If you work on the assumption that each page has an average of 375 words on it, then I’ve read approximately 9.8 million words… yikes!

Here’s a very quick glance at the 72 books read in the last year: –

 

Read more non-fiction

Last January I set myself a target to try and read a few non-fiction books. 5, in fact. Not many… should have been totally achievable, but no. I’m just not a big reader of non-fiction and so I totally failed this one.

 

Star Ratings

If you are also interested in my review breakdown, keep reading! I had a really good year for reading with no real major disappointment with books. During 2019, I rated my reads as follows: –

5 stars – 30
4 stars – 36
3 stars – 6
2 stars – 0
1 star – 0

To be honest, if I categorise a book as having a two-star rating or less, then I probably won’t even finish reading and reviewing it. Okay, so maybe I am a little biased on my ratings. Even so, there are only a few “it’s okay” 3-star ratings. I’ve had a look back though, and I can’t find any books I didn’t finish.

I plan on publishing a Top Ten Reads of 2019 post at a later date. I feel like that’s a topic that will need its own post entirely just for the amount of content it’ll have!

So, that’s my 2019 in books! I hope you enjoyed this post and I look forward to seeing you again soon!

 

 

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My 2020 Resolutions

A new year and a new decade are upon us! 2020 is finally here, and with a new year comes new opportunities. I’ve been considering my New Year Resolutions for a few weeks now… it’s time to share my plans with you all!

I’ve decided I want to take part in a few challenges this year. I have taken part in one of these challenges since 2017, the year my blog began. That’s not the only challenge I am setting myself, however.

 

Goodreads Reading Challenge

As I mentioned above, this will be the fourth year I take part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I will be going into the challenge with a larger goal than previous years though. Every year so far I have massively underestimated myself and set myself a goal that I achieve easily.

Year Original Goal Revised Goal Total Read in Year
2017 20 60 62
2018 40 50
2019 50 70 72

Fair enough, in 2017 I went from reading rarely to almost every day, without fail. Naturally, that goal ended up being really unrealistic and I revised it to 60 books at the end of April that year. That doesn’t really excuse the fact that I have underestimated myself in subsequent years though.

This year, I am going to be more ambitious and set myself a target that I have not reached yet. I came pretty close to it in 2019, but it means trying to set a new personal best.

In 2020, I want to try and read 80 books.

Up until the last couple of days of 2019, I’ve had 75 in my head. However, I think it’s too close to 2019’s final count to pose as a challenge. I don’t want to go too much higher than that; I don’t want to put myself in a position where I feel inclined to deliberately choose shorter books just to complete the challenge. That’s cheating a bit. This is where my second challenge will come into play and prevent that, to an extent…

 

Beat the Backlist

My TBR (To Be Read) list is seriously out of control. Often, I find myself swept up in new releases, blog tours and the like. Consequently, the older books on my TBR get neglected, and they really need some love right now. I’ve been hovering at around 200 books for a long time now and I need to work on that.

That’s why I am taking part in the Beat the Backlist challenge this year. As part of that challenge, I want to take on my TBR by reading, at the very least, the oldest 25 books on it. Sounds very abstract as it is, so to quantify it, here are the 25 books that I am challenging myself to read this year:-

  • Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
  • Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  • Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Talisman by Stephen King
  • Good Omens by Terry Pratchett
  • Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
  • The Psychology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained by Catherine Collin
  • Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
  • The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • The Women’s Room by Marilyn French
  • The Thief Taker by C. S. Quinn
  • The Feedback Loop by Harmon Cooper
  • Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
  • The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
  • Hild by Nicola Griffith
  • The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob Grimm
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

If I can squeeze in some more recent TBR additions as well as the above list, then that’s great. I want to have a lot fewer than 200 books on the TBR this time next year!

 

Borrow From my Local Library

Despite having a library membership, I’m not that good when it comes to making the most of it. I’ve only borrowed three books/e-books from the library in 2019. Dreadful right?

I want to step up on this in 2020 for two reasons. Firstly, I’m conscious that I am going to have to be mindful of my finances this year. There are some pretty big (and expensive) changes planned for this year and I don’t really want to be careless with my money. I won’t begrudge myself the odd book, but don’t be expecting mass book haul posts because it’s not going to happen.

Secondly, the advantage of using the library is that you can branch out of your comfort zone. I’m only really happy to buy books that I really like the sound of, or those by authors I have read before. However, if you’re only borrowing books you can try something new. There’s no obligation to like it and if you really don’t, you can take it back!

Those are my resolutions for the new year! Have you set yourself any resolutions? I’d love to compare them with mine!

 

 

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