Month: October 2017

Reading List: November 2017

Happy Halloween, guys!!
Technically where I am from, we don’t celebrate “Halloween”, in the strictest sense. A lot of our local history is steeped in Celtic tradition, so instead, we celebrate an alternately named (but basically the same) holiday!
ANYWAY… back on subject! Tomorrow is the start of a new month so it’s that time again, ladies and gents, to share with you my reading list!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to complete my October list. It was ambitious, I’ll admit, but I was the idiot and piled too much on my plate, so now I have to play catch up.
Emma Stone sarcasm
I am both my own worst enemy and my greatest critic, which is amazing, considering there are so many people out there who are more than happy to put you down. I really need to remember that I have achieved a lot this year and I ought to be proud of myself. I don’t think I’m the only person who feels this way. We all have our own insecurities, after all.
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1  My Life As Steve Keller – Zach Baynes

My Life as Steve Keller
Goodreads – My Life as Steve Keller

One man’s journey through twelve cities, three decades, and four lovers, all while living with the realities of climate change and technology. The stories about food and history will make you want to travel, and the charming dialogue will make you smile. The book depicts two of the most basic needs in life, that neither technology nor the passing of time can erase: the need to be loved and the need to be protected.

So this is the first of two independent review requests I received this month, and I am very much looking forward to sharing my thoughts about this book with you. This looks to be a little different from the usual thing I would pick up, however having checked out a preview on Goodreads – I think this is something new I will enjoy!
 

2  Aaru – David Meredith

Aaru
Goodreads – Aaru

“…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.
She is sixteen years old.
Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.
Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

This is the second book of the month that I am reading on request.
I was extremely glad to have been approached about this. Nobody deserves to suffer, but especially not children. I already know three people who I went to school with, that have suffered terminal illnesses and passed away as a result. It’s awful! In an ever-changing world and with advancing technology, is everlasting life a possibility? Is it a desirable thing? I really hope this book challenges these ideas.
 

3  The Weight of Shadows – Karl Holton

The Weight of Shadows
Goodreads – The Weight of Shadows

When you have spent your life in the shadows, what would you do at the dying of the light?
Three years ago the best murder detective in London is blamed for the death of his colleague and kicked out of the Met.
A man with secrets buried in the past and present returns to London, the city that started the mysterious career which made him a billionaire.
The two need each other.
But they have no idea how much.
A gripping crime thriller mystery with twists from the beginning to end.

I decided this month to try something a little different. Whilst I am not adverse to the genre, I don’t read much in the way of crime/thriller, although I do have plans to read more books within this genre. I don’t know much about this book, so I am almost taking a leap of faith with it. I see a lot of people testifying that it is a good way to approach a book, as there is no prejudice.
 

4  Zero Debt: Break the Debt Cycle and Reclaim Your Life – Neeraj Deginal

Zero Debt
Goodreads – Zero Debt

“Yes, being debt-free is POSSIBLE. If I could do it, then, anyone can do it!”Neeraj Deginal
Zero Debts – Break the Debt Cycle and Re-Claim Your Life, is about the author’s ten-year long journey from going neck deep into debt to being absolutely debt-free.
 
In this book you will learn:

How the author got into debt (circumstances)
How being in debt paralysed cognitive decision making
How even simple day to day life became complicated
The thought process applied by the author to analyse his situation rationally
Systematic steps taken by the author to become and stay debt-free and the dilemmas faced during execution
Further actions taken to simplify life and plan for a better life

This book seeks to inspire the reader to become debt-free, which eventually leads them to total freedom, be it, financial freedom, emotional freedom or freedom from stress.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author via The Book Club, so thank you very much!! As a general rule, I don’t normally reach for self-help books. I read to escape reality. One of the last things I like to confront myself with is problems, (be they real or potential ones).  I am going to hold my hands up and say that whilst I am perfectly on top of my finances, I feel this book could be worth deviating from the norm. It is good to learn from other people’s experiences; let’s not forget our circumstances can change in the blink of an eye.
Last year, I had to contend with being made redundant. At this point, I had moved into and was financing my own flat. I would be lying if I said that wasn’t a stressful time for me. Thankfully everything worked out, but it is best to prepare for every eventuality.
 

5  The Black Prism – Brent Weeks

The Black Prism
Goodreads – The Black Prism

Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.
When Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

Fingers crossed I will actually get around to reading this book this month…
I’m sure I will – I’m making sure my schedule is a little more manageable. I’m not making that mistake again.
 

6  Former.ly – Dane Cobain

Former.ly
Former.ly – Dane Cobain

When Dan Roberts starts his new job at Former.ly, he has no idea what he’s getting into. The site deals in death – its users share their innermost thoughts, which are stored privately until they die. Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences.
But something strange is going on, and the site’s two erratic founders share a dark secret. A secret that people are willing to kill for.

This is a book I have downloaded via Netgalley, and it drew my attention as it features a kind of modern technology that is potentially relevant to today’s society.
I have mixed feelings about social media. Obviously, when used correctly and safely it is a useful tool to keep in touch with friends and relatives. By very nature, bloggers use the Internet and social media in order to get books and their opinions out there. There are people that abuse this technology, sadly. I’ll outright admit that I am against the idea of social media use featured in the book. I’m curious to see if my feelings are justified or not.
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You may also have noticed that with the exception of one book, I acquired all of these for free..? Guilty!! Not only do I have to think about Christmas soon (yep, it’s that time), I also have a short trip away with some of my female friends that I have to plan for. Every little helps, right? This will not impact my posting schedule – I’ll be sure to plan ahead so you guys don’t miss out!
So that is my reading list for November!! Has anyone read any of the books featured on the list?
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Sunday Summary – 29 October 2017

Good morning everybody!!
I cannot believe it is nearly November already!! Hasn’t that just flown by?! It always amazes me how days or weeks can feel like they are dragging on, yet from a different perspective, time seems to be running away from us!
 

Books Read

So, after my last Sunday Summary last week, I did manage to finish IT by Stephen King at about 11pm! I have never felt so happy to finish a book and be content with the way it ended. I also published my review on Friday, so if you would like to check that out, here’s a cheeky little link!
Following on from IT, I was hoping to enjoy a couple of smaller reads from authors I haven’t picked up in a while, as a nice way to round off the month. Sounds like a plan, right?
Time to confess that I’m an idiot. I decided I wanted to read The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson and The Black Prism by Brent Weeks, not realising that the former of those books is just over a thousand pages long in itself.
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So I’m currently working my way through this second epic in a row. I am currently about 40% through and I am enjoying it, but I can’t seem to read it at the kind of pace I would like. Perhaps I have burned out a little?
Needless to say, given that I am going to struggle to read The Way of Kings before the end of the month, I am going to postpone The Black Prism to next month. It’s a shame, but what can I do?
 

Books Discovered

I didn’t spend a single penny on books this week!! I dread to think the last time that happened…
That isn’t to say I didn’t acquire a couple of books though!!

 
I downloaded Ekata: Fall of Darkness by Dominique Law via Netgalley.
I also received a copy of Zero Debt: Break the Debt Cycle and Reclaim Your Life by Neeraj Deginal via The Book Club, so thank you very much for getting me in touch with the author.
I’ll admit this isn’t a typical read for me, but I figured it could have some worthwhile information or advice. Let’s face it, at some point in our lives 99% of us have some kind of debt, arranged or not. I would imagine we would only think about taking on any debt management advice when it’s too late and the vicious cycle already has its grip on you. I figured this to be a great opportunity to get one step ahead!
 

Coming Up…

Next week brings us both Halloween and the beginning of a new month, so on Tuesday, I’ll be publishing my reading list for November. I’m also looking forward to working with a couple of authors who have provided me with copies of their books in exchange for reviews! No spoilers now – you’ll have to check out my post on Tuesday!
I also need to give myself some breathing space from reviews and catch up reading, so I am going to be publishing another “Down the TBR Hole” post on Friday. I think I’ll be adventurous again and sort through the next ten books on the list! I hope you can join me for that.
As ever, I’ll also be rounding up the week as usual.
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So that has been my week… how about yours? What are you reading? I’d love to hear from you!!
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Review: IT – Stephen King

How does anyone even go about reviewing such a mammoth book as this? It is something I have been thinking about for a few days now. After much deliberation, I decided that much like George Denborough, I was just going to get dragged into it somehow…

IT clown
I won’t give up my day job, I promise. I’ll just crack on with the review, shall I…?

IT
GoodReads – IT

It was the children who saw – and feel – what made the small town of Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurks, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread.

Time passes and the children grow up, move away and forget. Until they are called back, once more to confront IT as it stirs and coils in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

 

The year is 1985. The residents of Derry have lived in peace for the last 27 years. When IT awakes once more, the town slips into quiet unease. IT feeds off fear. Lurking in the shadows and manifesting as the beholders worst nightmare, it manipulates the wild imaginations of children, using it to terrorise and murder them.

After the death of his brother George in late 1957, Bill Denborough and his friends Beverly, Ben, Eddie, Mike, Stan and Richie unite against the monster in the sewers and somehow make it out alive. 27 years later, Mike Hanlon watches the death toll begin to rise once again and tries to reason against the truth. Eventually, he makes good his promise made all those years before: if IT came back, then he and his friends had to go back and kill IT for good.

If there is anyone out there who doesn’t know, this book is incredibly long. The edition I read was precisely 1,376 pages. Not only is this the longest book I have read ever, but I also managed to read it in just about two weeks! I was quite impressed I will admit. The next longest book I have read is War & Peace (which I also read this year). This is a few hundred pages shorter but still tops over a thousand. This also took me two weeks to read. Not bad going, in my book.

IT’s length is probably a turn-off for a lot of people, but I genuinely think that the length is necessary. I’d like to explain why.

A person’s way of thinking, their experience, history and relationship with fear is very personal. In order for the reader to get under the skin of each of the seven characters of this story, we had to learn an awful lot about them.

I absolutely agree that there is a lot of description and back story before we get to any real point of hair-raising action and from what I have read, some people aren’t so fond of that. I don’t think I could truly have invested into the characters without it.

That’s not to say I loved each and every one of the characters all the time; there were moments I liked and disliked them.

I loved Beverly when she fought and left her abusive husband to go to Derry and make good on her promise. That isn’t to say I understand why she would have tolerated that in the first place, exactly. Well, I do; she says as much herself that she married her father (not literally, but her father was violent towards her  child-self). I’m saying, having blessedly not grown up with that, I don’t understand because I would never tolerate that behaviour towards me. Just a word of warning, lads.

“You pay for what you get, you own what you pay for… and sooner or later whatever you own comes back home to you.”

IT – Stephen King

I cannot praise this book highly enough for the way it was written. King really does know how to draw you in as a reader. It is his realistic portrayal of characters that I love best about his writing.The perspective of the book frequently changes between time periods, especially so at the end, but manages to achieve this seamlessly.

Naturally, each of the characters has changed dramatically during a quarter of a century, but the consistency of the character’s mindset and attitudes to the respective timeframe (and to their background) is spot on.

The timeline of events for each “period” is also frequently discussed and this also seemingly consistent.
I have already mentioned the manner in which the book splits between the time periods of 1958 and 1985. One of the effective techniques King uses to maintain suspense is by slowly unveiling the events of the first encounter in 1958 by having trigger events in 1985 prompt each character to recover memories of IT.

It is entirely possible, when an individual experiences a traumatic event, for the mind to repress these memories as a coping strategy.

Therefore, not only does each of these small revelations keep the reader engaged with the story, but it also has a psychological foundation.

As events unfold in 1985 we simultaneously re-live the first encounter with IT. Whilst we have glimpses of the end of their troubles in 1958, we only learn the detail of their duel with the devil at the same time as when they go back that second (and hopefully last) time. The last few hundred pages flew for me. I also have no nails left. Literally.

I’m going to be honest and say that I didn’t find the book “scary”. Of course, it is unpleasant to read about children being murdered and vulnerable people being manipulated into committing heinous acts. What I am saying is this, I didn’t lose any sleep from reading it. The majority of fears experienced and again re-lived as adults are the fears of children – the dark, clowns, werewolves and the school bully, for instance. Whilst the book absolutely lives up to the genre of horror, I wasn’t uncomfortable reading it.

Despite the genre of the book, I found it had some lovely, positive notes that could be taken away from it; for example, the power of friendship. Here is one of my favourite quotes by way of an example:-

“Maybe there aren’t any such things as good friends or bad friends – maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you’re hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they’re always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for too, if that’s what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.”

IT – Stephen King

 

Emotions like fear, anguish, anger and despair are what makes us human. But what also make us human is our ability to hope, to dream and to believe.

Would you rather live having never experienced emotion?

I say give me the good, the bad and the ugly – after all, they say that it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.
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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Disappointing Books

Hi!! I hope everyone is having a wonderful Tuesday so far!

Today I wanted to do something a little different – it’s another meme frequenting the world of blogging and I’m excited to dive in!! Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish for the purpose of sharing lists about a variety of book-related topics.

Personally, I feel like I spend a lot of time talking about books I love and enjoy, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! After all, I am not intentionally going to pick up a book I know I am not going to like.

That being said, sometimes with the best will in the world, we cannot love everything. Books that other people rave about, or books you think you will really enjoy just don’t always cut the mustard. (This is a really bizarre expression, but I love it!) These books are the feature of today’s post, so let’s get to it!

I’m writing the list in reverse order, so I’m starting with the least offensive books:-

10. American Gods – Neil Gaiman

American Gods
I think I’ll get some hate on this one. It is not that I didn’t like it. I did. I DID, OKAY?! I just didn’t love it… and I really thought (hoped) I would. This is a book that has been talked about a lot this year and perhaps the hype got my hopes up. It’s an okay read – and I would probably pick it up again (as has been recommended to me)… but not yet.

9. Eric – Terry Pratchett

Eric
Again, this is a book in which I enjoyed certain parts of, but not all. Towards the end of the book, Rincewind and Eric have to make their way through Hell back to the Discworld. I particularly loved this part as Hell was basically run like an office, with memos, policy statements and torture by boredom instead of the traditional variety of physical methods. Working in an office for 35 hours a week, I saw the humour in this, but not much else. It isn’t a bad book, but not one of Pratchett’s finest in my humble opinion.

8. Moving Pictures – Terry Pratchett

Moving Pictures
It’s bad enough having one Pratchett book on here, never mind two!!

I just found this one to be really slow. At school I studied a lot of theatre so this parody of the magic of Hollywood should have been right up my street. Sad to say, I found it a bit dull.

7. The Inheritance Cycle series – Christopher Paolini

I started this series whilst studying my A-Levels, and I have fond memories of reading Eragon whilst on break duty, supervising the kids in the younger years.

I think by the time I came to read Eldest I had outgrown the series – I found it a little bit childish and ultimately, I have given up on it. If I had read it sooner I probably would have enjoyed it.

6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
My dad would absolutely hate me if I knew this was on my list of most disappointing books. I don’t mind the film so much, but I find it really silly. It’s not supposed to be a book you take seriously, sure. I just didn’t enjoy it all that much.

5. The Great Iron War Series – Dean Wilson

I started this series this year. I also DNF’d it this year. The foundations of the series are good – I love the base plot and the motivations of the characters. What I dislike about the books is how repetitive and unrealistic they are.
“Well damn, the enemy broke my super expensive submarine. Good job I kept an arsenal of weapons and a barrage balloon on standby… you know, just in case.”

Right. Sounds legit, no? No.

4. The Books of Pellinor – Alison Croggon

I really enjoyed three-quarters of this series. Guess which one let me down.

The Singing, of course. The build-up to this huge battle between “The Chosen One” and the darkness begins early on and you know what? By the time the battle actually came Alison must have realised she only had about 12 pages left in her, rushed the ending very badly, and for me, the whole series just fell flat on its face. I was so disappointed, as this had so much promise.

3. Magician’s Guild – Trudi Canavan

Magician's Guild
Now we are getting to the really bad books. This was a DNF pretty much straight away as I couldn’t get into it. There isn’t much more to it than that.

2. The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go
The idea of a world in which you can read minds sounds both fantastic and scary right?! I thought so too, but this was also a DNF straight away. I seem to recall I thought it came across a bit childish, but I attempted this years and years and years ago and truth be told, I’ve erased the painful memory of trying to read this from my mind.

1. The Darkness that Comes Before – Scott Bakker

The Darkness that Comes Before
What makes this book the worst on my list is that by every right, I should have enjoyed it. I felt so strongly that I should, I ended up forcing myself to read it and that was a mistake. I’ve even attempted a re-read years later and I cannot get into it. I don’t like the main character; I find the fantasy world confusing… the list goes on. It doesn’t get any better. I can honestly say that whilst I am sure someone out there loves it… I don’t. It gets the top prize for being the worst book I ever read.
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So that makes up my list of the Top Ten Most Disappointing Books!!

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The important thing to remember is that everybody has different tastes and we are all entitled to our opinions. I’m basically saying don’t hate on me for any of my choices, pretty please?

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with me?
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Sunday Summary – 22 October 2017

Aren’t the weeks just flying by?! I cannot believe it is Sunday already… AGAIN!
It really will be Christmas before we know it!! (Don’t hurt me for pointing out the unequivocal truth – honestly, it’s sneaking up on me too!)
To get away from that slightly depressing thought, let’s talk about books instead!
 

Books Read

IT
This week has once again been dedicated to making my way through IT by Stephen King. When I prepared my Sunday Summary post last week I set myself the challenge of trying to get the book read by today. This week has presented a few interruptions to my usual reading time, so had you asked me yesterday if I was going to achieve my target, I would have said no.
I managed to catch up yesterday though (I read over 200 pages as well as all the housework, washing and other Saturday jobs) so now I have about 155 pages left to read until the end. It’s a new day and I’m going to push myself to get it finished. It’ll be a relief not to have to carry it around anymore! Plus the paperback cover has suffered a little having been carried around, but I knew it was going to happen. I just have to remind myself it shows the book is well loved every time I start crying on the inside.
 

Books Discovered

I have been very good this week – for me! Yes, I still bought a book.
A Plague of Giants
I saw a pre-release review for this book and I knew instantly I wanted it, so I bought it on release date, 19th October. I mentioned in my Sunday Summary on the 8th October that I had added it to the list – but now I can officially celebrate owning a copy!!
That is literally it for this section this week. It feels like a ghost town. I’ve been so absorbed in reading I think to even look for anything new. Not that I need to exactly, my TBR well and truly testifies that.
 

Coming Up…

Normally I would post a review on Tuesday. Whilst I am on track to get IT finished by then, I think my review would be rushed if I dived in straight away. Therefore I am changing up my schedule a bit! I feel like I am always talking about books I love, so on Tuesday, I am going to be publishing a “Top Ten” post featuring books I was disappointed with. My review of IT is going to be published on Friday – I haven’t even finished the book yet and I am already looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it!
My review of IT is going to be published on Friday – I haven’t even finished the book yet and I am already looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it!
As always I’ll be rounding up the week on Sunday – and hopefully, I’ll have a bit more to talk about next week!
What have you been reading?
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Down the TBR Hole #6

Hi everybody! So it’s been a little while since I last did one of these posts, and I really do need to clear the list down. Normally I go ahead and look at the next five books on the TBR but I am going to be going through the next TEN on my list today!
In case anyone needs a brush up on just what this tag entails:-
This meme was started by Lia @ Lost in a Story to clear out my reading list of unwanted books. I have old items on Goodreads that I need to sort through. Here is how it works:

  • 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?

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The Curse of Chalion – Lois McMaster Bujold

The Curse of Chalion.jpg
Goodreads
Okay, so I can see why old me added this to the list. At the time I was in the crux of adding just about every single fantasy book to the reading list purely because that was almost all I was reading at the time. Now my reading taste has changed and I’m reading far more diverse genres, this just doesn’t quite grip me enough to keep it on the list.
Verdict: Go
 

Low Town – Daniel Polansky

Low Town
Goodreads
Again I think my older taste in books reflects in the choice to read this one. It sounds similar in theme to something else I read recently, however, I also noticed the ratings on this book from people that actually left a detailed review were not great. Were this something I was still intrigued by, I wouldn’t let the ratings put me off. As I’m already inclined to take this off the list, I’ll trust my gut instinct.
Verdict: Go
 

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity
Goodreads
This is a really easy one for me – it’s an absolute keeper. I love historical fiction (WW2 in particular) and I think it’s really going to be a fantastic read. I am actually going to be reading this book pretty soon. Whilst my reading list is never set in stone until a couple of days before the next month starts, (and at that point, I commit for the month) I am more than likely looking at reading this in December. So excited!!
Verdict: KEEP!!!!!!!
 

Finnikin of the Rock – Melina Marchetta

Finnikin of the Rock
Goodreads
In all brutal honesty, my pre-diversity self probably saw a pretty cover, the world curse and went YUP!! MUST READ THIS!!
Having looked at this again, I am less than inspired. Not to be harsh, but I don’t think this will be my cup of tea.
Verdict: Go
 

The Ruins of Gorlan – John Flanagan

Rangers Apprentice
Goodreads
I cannot help but feel that the blurb for this book makes it sound like Magician’s Apprentice by Raymond E Feist. Does the story start with an orphan? Check. Do they end up becoming apprenticed in unusual circumstances? Check. See where I am going with this? I acknowledge the reviews for this are very good, but I don’t think I can unsee this correlation and its tarnished my view.
Verdict: Go
 

The Dragon’s Path – Daniel Abraham

The Dragons Path
Goodreads
This book is a typical fantasy in some ways, but equally unusual in others. Fantasy books involving war, and AGAIN with the orphans?! God forbid a child destined for a hard time have parents. To me, it seems a cop-out to make it easier for this kid to do whatever they have to in order to develop and allow the story to progress. That being said, the role of this orphan is not typical, so I’ll give it a chance.
Verdict: Keep
 

Radiance – Grace Draven

Radiance
Goodreads
Usually, fantasy with political elements usually excites me. But for the fact the synopsis of the book makes it sound like 90% of it is about the relationship between a Prince of nothing and a minor noblewoman, I might have kept it. Tentatively. Maybe. I don’t enjoy relationship-y, romance-y books. Huge turn-off.
Nope.
Verdict: GO!
 

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

Outlander
Goodreads
The synopsis of this book makes it seem pretty tame. I’ll admit, I hadn’t read the reviews until now. Do it – read the reviews… they are fucking hilarious!
I feel like I have been brutal to the TBR today and I think this has to be the worst feature of them all. I actually think this is going to be such a car crash to read (in terms of my preference of books) that I’ll see the funny side of it. I think I need a good laugh.
If you do too – read the reviews!! Please… if you do one thing today to make yourself smile, make it this. You won’t regret it.
Verdict: Keep
 

Quantum Night – Robert J. Sawyer

Quantum Night
Goodreads
With the exception of Code Name Verity, I think this is the second best book that has come up on the TBR list. It relates to human psychology and I loved the subject when I studied it for my A-Levels. An experimental psychologist finds a way to uncover undetected psychopaths in society. Turns out he needs to look a little closer to home. He joins forces with his former girlfriend, a quantum physicist to prevent society tearing itself apart with its own violent tendencies. It’s certainly different to many of the books I have featured today and I think it will be an interesting read.
Verdict: Keep
 

Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen
Goodreads
I added this book as I seem to remember people were raving about it. Admittedly this was before I started blogging and therefore I picked up on from my limited circles. Having reminded myself what it is about, I’m on the fence about it, to be honest. I added it because it seemed popular but I’m not sure I want to keep it. I’m sure I would find it enjoyable if I did read it, but not feeling so inclined to pick it up right now.
Verdict: Go
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It’s fair to say I’ve had a productive clear out – I’ve discarded six books and kept four, so I’m happy with that. Have you read any of the above books? Do you agree with my decisions? I would love to hear from you either way!
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Review: The War Queen – J. M. Robison

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to conduct an Author Interview with J.M Robison in relation to her first published book, The War Queen. Today I am thrilled to be publishing my review! Before we begin, if you are yet to take a look at the interview, I would recommend you do!

***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

 
The War Queen

GoodReads – The War Queen

Altarn is the first woman to hold the position of State Head in Blindvar. When Lord Kaelin, State Head of Ruidenthall, propositions her to merger with their states, Altarn believes it’s his subtle way of taking her state for his own, making himself king. On the cusp of war, she rides in disguise to her last ally, Luthsinia, to ask for help.

During her journey, Altarn is ambushed but rescued by a man called Torren who offers her protection. Quickly they realize they share a mutual attraction. Upon their arrival to Luthsinia, Altarn receives news that an army has invaded Blindvar in her absence and blames Kaelin. Except it’s not Kaelin’s army, because she discovers Kaelin is in Luthsinia for the purpose of spying on her to take her land. And Torren is not who she thought he was.
Taking advantage of the unraveling situation, Kaelin kidnaps Altarn so he can take her state without her in the way and brings her to Ruidenthall. There’s a war ship on the horizon, led by a fallen angel craving mortal worship. Kaelin realizes he needs Altarn’s help to fight this army if he’s to save his state. She’s forced to agree, but how will she react when he’s wounded in battle? If she lets him die, can she fight the enemy on her own? Or if she saves his life, will he still try claiming her state, or try claiming her heart?

Having read a sample of the first chapter I knew that Altarn’s character and her position as State Head was going to be something that interested me a lot. I don’t think I need to go into the many debates about gender equality that are out there at the moment. I’m sure you see it all the time, be it on social media or the news etc. I knew this book was going to intrigue me because I wanted to see how the fictional society of this book adapted to the change of power being in the hands of a female in comparison with what we experience in reality. I was also keen to understand how Altarn coped with the difficulties, prejudice and the challenges to her credibility experienced.

 Altarn believes Kaelin, the Lord of Ruidenthall is set upon taking her land, however her council do not believe her when she brings this matter to their attention. Having had countless letters ignored and fearing the worst for her state, she sets out to neutral Luthsinia to gain the aid necessary to fend off the impending attack. As it happens, Altarn’s concern over Kaelin’s actions are the least of her concerns and ultimately, the two sides join forces to eradicate an unforeseen threat.

I found Altarn to be a remarkably developed character – in a lot of ways, I felt I could relate to her emotionally. In the first chapter we see Altarn arrive at her State Manor, clearly enraged and she quite humourously lashes out at a training target with the name of the man who told her “You have to ride the horse before you buy it. Because if you buy it first, you may find out later it limps”. Her behaviour is entirely relatable to us mere mortals (well, at least to me anyway), however, it is not the behaviour expected of a woman in her position – and especially not in public. This scene really introduces Altarn’s character and sets her development arc for the remainder of the book.

As Altarn travels to Luthsinia undercover to request aid, she ends up travelling with a young man who protects her on the road from a band of men who have less than polite intentions. Altarn perceives herself to be more than capable of defending herself, having served in the army and intends to face the threat single-handedly. As a result of this unknown man leaping to her defence, she feels irritated that she was perceived to have needed help. Despite her obvious resentment, Altarn sees the sense of safety in numbers and continues to travel with the young man, albeit distrustfully.  I cannot help but wonder if this scenario is something JM has drawn on her army experience for. Is Altarn’s circumstance (real or perceived – I’ll allow my lack of experience to keep me sitting on the fence) of feeling or being treated as the inferior sex something experienced in the army?

With the novel written in the first person narrative from the perspective of Altarn, we get to really understand the way she is thinking and feeling. I can speak now, as a woman, when I say that a lot of her emotional struggles are perfectly relatable. As she rebounds from Jessom and begins to “admire” her mysterious co-traveller, this isn’t a spontaneous reaction just for the purpose of plot developing. What I am trying to say is… it’s a perfectly natural reaction. Altarn is forced to mature and reign in these feelings as she comes to terms with the political turmoil she has to endure for the safety of her people, although this is a great struggle for her.

I’m glad now that I have gotten to this point. If there was any element of the book I wasn’t sure I was going to like, it was the relationship between Altarn and Lord Kaelin. As a rule, books with too much emphasis on relationship struggles are a turn off for me. Regardless of my feelings on the matter, allow me to be clear that the tumultuous relationship between these two powers is a quintessential element of both the plot and the development of each of these characters. I was pleasantly surprised that despite the reasonably high dependence the plot has on the relationship, I didn’t feel alienated from the characters involved – if anything it serves a reminder of just how human they are.

I also love how the book concluded. I am not going to spoil it for you, but what I will say is this… It could have been easy for the book to end in a very typical, fairytale manner. Allow me to say I am glad it didn’t. The characters are far more sophisticated than that and I am glad that shows.

I also enjoyed the developed and consistent historical background of the fantastical realm, which is introduced when relevant throughout the book. It is a danger for the reader to be the victim of “info-dumps” when the author has to explain a lot of history and context in fantasy worlds created, but I can honestly say I didn’t feel overwhelmed at any point.

In my opinion, The War Queen is an enjoyable read for all lovers of the fantasy genre. Whilst there are examples of common themes such as war (obviously), religion, (including angels and demons etc), to my mind it has been done in such a way as to set it apart from the common reiterations of the same ideas regularly seen in the genre.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading my review! If you would like to learn any more about JM Robison or The War Queen, please follow any of the below links:-
Website    Facebook     Twitter     Amazon     Goodreads     Pinterest
Also a little reminder that there is a live Facebook event on Saturday in celebration of the book’s first birthday. If you would like to join in, here is the link – hopefully we will see you there.
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Author Interview: J. M. Robison

As announced in my Sunday Summary post yesterday, today I am sharing with you an interview with J. M. Robison about her first traditionally published book, The War Queen. I was kindly approached by her with a free ARC copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.
The War Queen
GoodReads       Amazon
Before we get to that review, I was given the opportunity to ask our author a few questions about both herself and The War Queen:-
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Tell us all a little about yourself

I’ve been an avid writer and reader (after all, you should never trust a writer who does not also read) of the fantasy genre since I was 15. To date I’ve completed 8 novels with one traditionally published with Tirgearr. I hold a full-time job as a deputy sheriff in my local county jail. I’m also a reservist in the army which has caused me to travel Afghanistan, Romania, Bulgaria, Kuwait, and too many U.S. states to list. Having had so much experience with people and cultures, I’ve used this in my world building for all my stories which adds unique flavor which I am proud of. My dream is to stay home and make money writing books. I also home make my shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, laundry soap, and lotion.
 

For anyone who is yet to read The War Queen please can you give a brief summary of the book.

Altarn is used to tolerating the biases of men. It comes with being the first female to secure the political State Head of Blindvar. But Kaelin, the State Head of Ruidenthall, crosses the line when he proposes a merger of their two states. Altarn has reason to believe this is Kaelin’s attempt to make himself king of both. Believing it’s her responsibility to “dethrone” him, she rides to her last ally to ask for aid.
While on the road, she’s kidnapped and taken to Ruidenthall. She wakes from a drug-induced sleep to hear about a foreign army marching upon Blindvar, and Kaelin capitalizing on her kidnap to make himself king. He threatens her life if she tells anyone, but she will suffer tyranny under a king if she does not.
When the final battle forces her hand, she has but one choice: to save Kaelin’s life or let him die. She never expected to dethrone his heart instead.
 

What inspired you to write the book?

I had just finished writing a 5 book fantasy series, and I was hankering for something else to write. I was living in Pocatello, ID at the time, right above ISU campus. In the mood for a midnight walk, I walked up the hill right above campus, to the 4 Grecian pillars at the top. 3 of the 4 pillars are connected, while the 4th is not. In my mind, I saw this as being “broken” and I started devising up a story about how it came to be broken. Eventually that idea developed into a god falling on them and breaking them, and the story about why he fell.
This idea actually is only 10% of The War Queen but, because I’m a pantster, it spawned into much more. (Author confession: I was only 20 pages into the story when I stopped writing, out of ideas. I sat on it for 7 years before a simple prompt kick-started me to complete it and publish it.)
 

What was the most challenging thing, writing the book, getting published etc?

This book came easy to me. After that 7 year hiatus, ideas flowed through my brain so within the space of 3 hours I had exact dialogue, scenes, and characters fleshed out in my head. And I love editing because I get to experience the story all over again. The hardest was publishing, and fighting through the grind of “is my query good enough? Is the first 3 chapters good enough? Was my beta reader honest enough?” because after 47 rejections you start to doubt.
 

Do you have any fellow authors you look up to? If so, why?

Megan Spooner and Amy Kaufman for convincing me to re-write a book in 1st POV present tense (best thing I ever did for a story). Margret Weis and Tracy Hickman for teaching me how to write fantasy and for giving me my love of fantasy. Susan D. Kalior because Warriors In The Mist is the best book I’ve ever read.
 

Any plans for another book?

Yes. I always must be writing something. Next planned is a religious fantasy about a demon and angel who switch places and then collude to overturn the religion that corrupted them both. No title yet.
 

What’s the next book you plan to publish?

It’s in the hands of my publisher now for consideration. It’s an historical fantasy based on Victorian Era England, called The Last Wizard. I already have a book trailer for it: https://www.jmrobison.com/the-last-wizard-2 
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One of my favourite parts of doing these interviews is learning about the people behind the books. It’s easy to idolise authors for their works but very often not appreciate their backgrounds (and ultimately their inspirations).
This also happens to be a very special week, as there is a live event which has been set up especially on Facebook to celebrate the books first birthday! During the event, you will be able to ask any questions and interact with JM. If you would like to join in on the Facebook Event I have provided the link to do so. I hope to see you there!
If you would like to find out more about The War Queen, please see the below links:-

Website    Facebook     Twitter     Amazon     Goodreads     Pinterest

I look forward to writing my review tomorrow and hope you take the time to check it out!

A huge thank you to JM for taking the time to contribute to this post!

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Sunday Summary – 15 October 2017

I hope everyone has been enjoying a lovely weekend! It’s been a busy week but equally exciting for me.

Books Read

IT
There’s just been one book I have been reading this week, but boy is it an epic. I am really enjoying IT so far; despite its length, it doesn’t seem to be going slowly or dragging. I’ll admit, I was worried it would. At the point of writing this, I am currently on page 601 of 1,376, which I am pleased with. I haven’t picked up the book today yet so I am hoping I can get to about 50% done later. I am setting myself a little target to see if I can get this book read by next Sunday, 22nd October. I have a further two books to read after IT so I want to give myself a chance to read those too!
One thing I can’t say I have particularly enjoyed, however, is lugging this bad boy around with me. It counts as exercise…. right?!
 

Books Discovered

So the list of books for this section gets a bit more interesting this week, as I’ll also be including some books I have requested on Netgalley!! I am committing this statement to the internet so that I may be shamed if I don’t step up to it.
I am going to be using Netgalley more.
Whilst we are here, I am as well introducing you to the books I have downloaded and will be incorporating into my reading:-

Both Former.ly and ReWired have an element of technology in, one being about hacking and the other about social networking, so I thought I’d give these a try.
I’ll admit with Beowulf, I picked it because I think it is going to be completely out of my comfort zone, but I want to challenge myself.
I also inevitably had a few request rejections too. Sad face. I am new to Netgalley… do I need to get some books under my belt in order to be more likely to have requests accepted? Please let me know!! Please and thank you!
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Source: Giphy

I also added The Birth of Death, the first of the Evorath series to the TBR this week. I love the fantasy genre, and I cannot wait to read it!!
The Birth of Death
My last confessions of this section are two purchases, being Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (a classic – which I am trying to read more of) and The Traveler by Fredric Shernoff. I recently enjoyed Making History, by Stephen Fry, and this book has the same concept of going back in time to change events. This is pure fiction though… nothing historical in this one.

Coming Up…

I think I had a really good week on the blog this week, posting two reviews and an author interview. If anybody else has enjoyed reading these this week, then you won’t be disappointed with what is coming up this week!
I have another author interview with J. M Robison, which I am really looking forward to.  This is in relation to her first published book, The War Queen. I have found I like to get to know a little bit about authors and their inspirations. The wait isn’t very long for this either, as the interview is being posted tomorrow! I read The War Queen at the beginning of the month and I am looking forward to sharing my review with you on Tuesday.
Given the number of books I keep adding to the reading list, I have decided I need to really sort through the ones I already have, so on Friday I am bringing to you another Down the TBR Hole post.
As usual, I will follow up the week with a summary much like this one.


 
I hope you have enjoyed my Sunday summary, and hopefully I’ll see you around during the week. If somebody could get back to me about my question on Netgalley, I’d be grateful. I’m still a novice! Haha!
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Review: The Kitsune in the Lantern – Daniel Curry

I have to get this disclaimer out of the way… so here goes.

***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

There – I’m glad that’s over with. I think it is kind of sad that these things are even needed really.
Anyway… on a happier note – if anyone tuned in to my blog yesterday, you’ll know I posted an interview with our author Daniel to give readers the opportunity to get to know a little bit about him, the book itself and his influences in writing. If anybody is yet to check this post out… here’s a cheeky link.
Now without further adieu… the review:-
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GoodReads – The Kitsune in the Lantern
Synopsis from GoodReads:- 

“You were chosen by Yako, the bringer of Darkness.”
Join Argus Todd and his friends as he uncovers a great power exploring an old ruin, that has stood for decades in his town.
Inari, an age-old Kitsune must train Argus in his new gifts, in order to stop the chaotic Yako from bringing the darkness to our world.
But Yako appears a complex character, and all may not be as it seems…
Debut novella from author Daniel Curry, for Children and Teens. Experience the magic of the power of the Kitsune in this first book of a brand new series.
Ideal for confident young readers, and older children searching for an easy read adventure, this book is an exciting introduction to the mind of Daniel Curry

Despite the book being aimed at a younger generation, I can hand on heart say that I enjoyed it. Admittedly, (not to sound conceited), this was an easy read for me but it was a refreshing change! That isn’t to say I didn’t learn a thing or two! The magical beings introduced in the book, known as the Kitsune, stem from Japanese folklore. I love the idea that a Kitsune gains more magical abilities as it learns and ages. I’ll hold my hands up now and say prior to reading this book – I hadn’t even heard of them before! It was a great introduction to folklore from a different culture in a fun way and diversity is definitely something we should be encouraging.
This book is perfectly written for children – whether to challenge young readers to pick up books themselves or even as a story being read aloud. The plot was easy to follow, which I think is essential in a book of this length when bearing in mind the target audience. Even though I read this book all in one day, I read it in three sessions (because life has the amazing ability of disturbing reading!) – but it was so easy to pick up again when I came back to it.
The tale follows the adventures of Argus, Mae and Tom, who venture into the ruins of an old factory. There they discover a lantern and an archaic power is once again released into the world. I loved each of these three protagonists in their own way, and I really believe that everyone will be able to relate to at least one of them. Argus is the brave and outgoing “leader” of the group. He is a role model to Tom and has the respect of Mae. Tom is quite the opposite; he is the smallest of the group, the shyest and predisposed to nervousness. I was never the most outgoing of people so my inner child relates to him. Now, with my twenty-something-year-old head on… I just wanted to mother him! Mae is a great mix of both of these two characters – she even ends up mediating between these two extremes and I truly think she is a vital part in holding the friendship together.
The book is a lovely balance of myth and magic to keep the audience engaged, all the while encouraging attributes like learning and teamwork and discouraging greed. I am in no doubt Daniel knew exactly who his target audience was… but I truly believe this book is approachable to a span of age groups. The Kitsune in the Lantern is the first of a trilogy, and it is one I have every intention of finishing and I am not ashamed of the fact. I would love to learn more about the magic of the Kitsune and what further adventures Argus, Mae and Tom get to have with their new powers.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I wanted to include my favourite passage from the book, because it is absolutely true:-

“We all walk a narrow path between darkness and light. Tiny events can push our lives either way.” Inari began to pace around him. “But there is no unfairness, or path chosen for us, there is only random tastings of both sides”.
~ The Kitsune in the Lantern – Daniel Curry

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So there you have it!
I would like to thank Daniel again for the chance not only to read this book, but to be introduced to what I feel assured is going to be a lovely series! I’ll be keeping up with it too – that’s a promise!!
Just an additional note – I am jealous of the Kitsune power to step out of time. I would so do it to catch people pulling funny faces just for a laugh – I’m not always an adult! I feel sure I’m not the only one either…
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Source: Giphy

I hope you have enjoyed my review! If you would like to find out more about the book or purchase a copy, please find the links below.
Amazon      GoodReads
Also, if you would like to follow Daniel on Twitter and keep up to date with future releases, you can find him at @DCurryAuthor.
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