Every month seems to come around faster than the last. In the blink of an eye, it’s time to publish my reading list for August! This month I have some pretty long books on the list, so I am going to have to get my skates on!
Also, for the first time in over two years, I am going to be re-reading some much-loved books. I recently published a Top Ten Tuesday – Books to Re-Read post and basically convinced myself that I need this series in my life again. As you do.
The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
I have had this book on the reading list so long. Every month I try to get around to reading it, but as it is always the last book on the list (and I have taken to overstretching myself) it never happens for me. Well, enough is enough. This month, it’s the first book on the list and I am determined to finish it – or die trying.
Okay… so that’s a bit extreme, but you get my point.
Queen, widow, beggar – Lady Caitlyn is all three, and now she can add murderer to the list.
When death and treachery propels her south to Normandy, to seek sanctuary with the exiled Prince Alfred, visions of a woman with ancient eyes travel with her.
Herleva is a woman filled with ambition and greed. A woman who intends to be more than a commoner. A woman who gets what she wants by whatever means possible, even if she has to practice the dark arts to achieve her goals.
A woman who is a witch.
Caitlyn finds herself caught up in a magic which changes her very being. A magic which produces a king to change the lives of every man, woman, and child in England.
I am so excited to be taking part in a blog tour for this book next month. I have added it to the reading list well in advance, as I am going to be reviewing the later books in the series too. Those reviews aren’t going to be published until October/November this year.
Three Bloody Pieces looks set to be an exciting fantasy novel. Having read a few bits and pieces of other genres, this month I am certainly feeling the fantasy vibe. Most of my reads this month are of the genre.
The year is 2084, and that famous Margaret Thatcher quote has become a reality: There really is no such thing as society. No one speaks to anyone else. No one looks at anyone else. People don’t collaborate, they only compete.
I hate to admit it, but this has had tragic consequences. Unable to satisfy their social urges, the population has fallen into a pit of depression and anxiety. Suicide has become the norm.
It all sounds rather morbid, does it not? But please don’t despair, there is hope, and it comes in the form of our hero: Renee Ann Blanca. Wishing to fill the society-shaped hole in her life, our Renee does the unthinkable: She goes in search of human company! It’s a radical act and an enormous challenge. But that, I suppose, is why her tale’s worth recounting. It’s as gripping as it is touching, and I think you’re going to love it…
Your trusty narrator,
This is the one book on the list that isn’t fantasy. I love the dystopian “society” (or lack thereof) the book is set in. I think this will be particularly interesting to read as, far more and more, we turn to social media and the internet to “socialise”. Ironically makes us isolate ourselves from each other more. I can’t wait to see how this book portrays a world in which society has broken down.
Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us.
It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls a hundred feet high.
Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.
The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth – and the lives of one million humans – Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.
I am very grateful recipient of a copy of this book (by Gollancz) in exchange for a review.
I know very little of this series, other than what I have read of the synopsis. Forbidden magic is a bit of a theme to the books I am reading at the moment. I have to say I am enjoying the theme. The synopsis puts me in mind of a Children of Blood & Bone meets Maze Runner kind of scenario.
I’m looking forward to reading this first book as an introduction to both a new series and a new author.
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.
Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
Yes folks, I talked myself into re-reading A Game of Thrones. Again.
This will be my third read through, but I’m justifying it by putting it to the end of the list and making it accommodate my other reading. Also, I’m hoping to have re-read the series so far by the time the last season airs in April next year.
I look forward to writing my Sunday Summary post every week. I know it’s hard to believe, but the art of committing my week to paper a blog post JUST pips the prospect of looking forward to a 6:40am start the following day.
I’m weird, right?!
This week I have been back to the early starts and long days. I already wish I have another holiday to look forward to. Getting back into the blogging routine has been both joyously familiar and hard work. It’s easy to get out the habit, I think. Not only that, I don’t exactly do things by halves. This will be my fourth blog post this week, which is a rarity.
I posted my first Top Ten Tuesday for a while, and this time I focussed on the books I am looking forward to re-reading at some point. Most of them are either books read in my childhood/teenage years, or influential books that cover difficult topics.
On Friday, I was a part of the cover reveal for book four of the Gemeta Stone series by Donna Migliaccio, Ragis. As a part of that cover reveal, there is currently a giveaway for a chance to win a necklace just like the Gemeta Stone itself. Don’t leave it too late to get your entry in!
Then, yesterday, (slightly later than billed, sorry) I shared my review for A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. I originally intended to read this book earlier on in the year, but as usual, things get in the way. Anyway, I finally got there!
Not only have I been busy at work and generally getting back into the daily grind – ahem… routine, I’ve also been catching up with friends and family since coming back from my trip. The yarn I am setting up here is that I didn’t get to read as much as I had hoped. This week, I have made progress with reading Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, but that’s all. Usually I have at least two books listed here – but, as I said, I’ve been busy. I’ll be better I promise!!
I added one book to the list this week, which is pretty restrained for me. I have enjoyed reading a couple of historical fiction novels based around Ancient Egypt. With that in mind, I’ve added The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt to the list!
Whilst not strictly an addition to the list (because it’s already on there), I purchased a copy of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak this week. I originally added The Book Thief to my TBR in June last year, but as the opportunity came up to get hold of a copy – I did!
I feel like I say this EVERY SINGLE TIME, but its August next week. I’m just going to let that sink in. AUGUST!!! It barely feels like two minutes ago since I was saying that about March. Anyone who says time doesn’t run away from you faster the older you get is a liar.
A new month means a new reading list! Tuesday’s are a great day for me to post, so if you want to check out which books I’ll be reading (and maaaaayybe carrying over from this month – oops!), stay tuned. I am determined to get the first book on the list read because I have been trying to read it for ages and ages! I’ll be so disappointed if I don’t enjoy it now! Mind you, it is a recommendation from a friend and I think she has read the whole series. I trust her taste in books. I’m sure I’ll like it.
For my post on Friday, I want to write something a little different. My plan is still subject to change – maybe the feature topic in itself will change, but I want to write a discussion post. Once published, I would love some feedback if you can spare a moment or two.
Lastly, as ever, I’ll be rounding up the week in the usual manner.
I hope you have a great week and I look forward to seeing you around!
After a false start earlier this year, I finally got around to starting the much-talked-about series, A Darker Shade of Magic.
I had added the book to my TBR in February last year, so it’s taken a while to get to. Ever since joining Twitter in September, people I follow were retweeting Victoria Schwab so regularly that I didn’t even need to follow her. I do now, of course. My point is this – so many people are talking about her and her books. I just had to try A Darker Shade of Magic for myself!
Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
Naturally, I went into reading this book with high expectations. Everyone seems to be raving about the series. I suppose the question you are here to find the answer to, is if I think it lived up to expectation.
Well yes, but also no. Allow me to elaborate.
I really enjoyed the book. The premise of four versions of London, each with its own degree of magic was what drew me in. I love magic and fantasy is my favourite genre, so this is a perfect read for me. My only wish was that each “London” had more resemblance to London as we know it. I appreciate that each “London” in A Darker Shade of Magic is in a different world. Yet, other than the presence of the Thames in Red London and the English language, there were no other significantly obvious landmarks – or any similarities were too subtle to notice. I have only been to London once (as a child), so my knowledge isn’t that great. I may have missed something, but I just didn’t get as much of a magic/realism vibe as I was hoping for.
The characters were great. Each has their own back-story and it is easy to invest in them all. Kell is adorable in that his compassion for others is admirable. As a reader, you cannot help but feel for Holland and his situation. The standout character though, in my opinion, was Lila. Whilst I would say that both Lila and Kell are fairly equally developed characters, I just adored Lila’s fierceness. She has always had to make her own way in Grey London and the combination of her naivety and sheer will is cute.
A Darker Shade of Magic lives up to the name. The plot was interesting and well thought out – and there were parts of it that were darker than I expected! Magic can be idealised to be a wonderful power… but really it all depends on who wields it. This really comes into play throughout and gave the book an exciting edge.
I did enjoy the book enough to rate it four stars on Goodreads – but not five. I expected to leave this book and be diving into the next one straight away… but I’m not. I think book publicity is a double-edged sword. Obviously, people need to hear about books in order to become interested and buy them. Equally, if you see/hear so much about a book, series or author, you can build up an expectation that realistically cannot be fulfilled. I think this is what happened with A Darker Shade of Magic. I am going to read the remainder of the series because I did enjoy it… just not as much as I had expected I would.
Today, I am pleased to share the COVER REVEAL for Donna Migliaccio’s upcoming book, Ragis. In addition, there is an pportunity to win your very own Gemeta stone! You can find further details on the giveaway below.
Ragis is the fourth installment in The Gemeta Stone series. Anyone who follows my blog may have seen a plethora of other posts I have produced on the series so far. I have really enjoyed reading the series to date, so I cannot wait to get hold of a copy of this!
If you are new to the series, you will find links to my reviews of the first few books below: –
Here it is! I hope you are as excited about the book launch next month as I am!
Ragis by Donna Migliaccio
August 28, 2018
The Gemeta Stone Book 4
Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC
Kristan Gemeta is teetering on the brink of madness.
His sister Melissa has defied him. His friend Olaf has betrayed him. The Wichelord Daazna’s ghostly laughter mocks him when he’s awake and robs him of his sleep at night. Even the protective powers of his legendary Stone are turning against him.
And now his companions, his ship and its precious cargo have been taken hostage. Kristan must give chase, in an unseaworthy vessel manned by an angry centaur crew. Ahead lie unfriendly waters, an ominous destination and a confrontation Kristan dreads.
In his despair, Kristan longs for the one person he has always trusted: his beloved Heather. But she’s far away, about to step into a trap that will endanger not just her command, but Kristan’s life.
I love the colour scheme for this cover as it differs quite a bit from the previous ones. What keeps it consistent with the others though, is the presence of the Gemeta Stone necklace around the title. I love covers that either coordinate or match. I really like how this series is easily identifiable by the similar format, yet having different backgrounds!
We all have a beloved favourite… or multiple books we yearn to re-read every once in a while! They may look tattered, dog-eared or rough… maybe even like they’ve gone through the mill a few times. In a way, that’s a sign of a really good book! Equally, some people worship their books like Gods. I have a pet hate of spine cracking and avoid it where I can. However well you look after your books, they truly are a gift that keeps on giving.
Today, I wanted to share with you the Top Ten Books (series where applicable) I would die to read again: –
The Mistborn Trilogy – Brandon Sanderson
I love the magical realism in these books and how well each of the characters is developed. I am yet to read the next trilogy taking place after the original series, but I would certainly read these again! And again…
Gentlemen Bastards – Scott Lynch
I am definitely going to have to re-read these books once The Thorn of Emberlain is released. I read The Republic of Thieves back in February 2015, so it’s been over three years since I’ve touched any of the books. I’ll admit I had even forgotten we were awaiting the next installment – good of me to remind myself (and you!) I’m not a fan of all the negative messages from other fans about it not being published yet. Books take as long as necessary to write and polish. Be patient.
The Kingkiller Chronicle – Patrick Rothfuss
This is a series I read some time ago as well.
Usually, when I fall in love with a book, it is either for the plot or the writing style… rarely both. This series is the absolute exception to the rule! I could read these on repeat and not mind one bit. Once it is finished, I expect this series is going to end up on my all-time faves list.
The Broken Empire series – Mark Lawrence
The thing I distinctly remember loving about this series is how unlovable and flawed the MC is. He is no hero. He’s selfish, spiteful and egotistic, to mention but a few things. You come to understand why though, and that kind of makes him lovable in the end.
The Green Mile – Stephen King
This is an absolute classic! If anyone either doesn’t like this book or doesn’t want to read it again, then I don’t understand you. I think this is a book that I will revisit and cry over again and again in my lifetime.
IT – Stephen King
I only read this book about a year ago, so I am not looking to re-read any time soon. I want to re-read it as it is such a large and detailed book and I want to see if I missed anything the first time around. Stephen King is such a fantastic writer. I don’t think re-reading any of his books would get repetitive.
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
I think there are some fairly obvious reasons as to why I would like to read this book again.
I loved the narrative, the characters and the plot itself – but what is most important is the lesson in our history. Only from our mistakes can we learn. I would hate to think of a society so openly hostile to those within it for something so superficial as skin colour. Unfortunately, prejudice and discrimination haven’t been stamped out as much as I would like; people are just less overt about it. That is all the more reason to remind ourselves once in a while about just how awful it is.
Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor
Strange the Dreamer is a very recent read. In fact, I devoured the book! Whilst I expect to love Muse of Nightmares just as much, that hasn’t come out yet. I would anticipate I’ll end up reading this duology again. The characters, the magic, and the narrative are beautiful.
I am still waiting for my Lazlo. Still. Waiting.
Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling
I grew up with these books, reading them at various stages in my childhood. Arguably, these books were hugely responsible for my love of reading. Now, I would like to read them again as an adult as I think I will appreciate them an awful lot more as more.
A Song of Ice & Fire (aka A Game of Thrones) – George R. R. Martin
I have in fact already re-read the series (so far) once and am pining to do so again. I am half considering re-reading one book of the series a month for the rest of the year. I’m not 100% decided though. They are large books and it would take a fair chunk of my reading time out for new books.
Fuck it. I’ve re-downloaded them onto my kindle. What’s done is done.
Have you read any of the books above? Would you want to re-read them again? Let me know in the comments!
After I came back, I posted the next Down the TBR Hole post. I only ended up taking a couple of the books off of the list, but at least I know for sure that I want to read the books that ARE on it!
I managed to get a little reading done whilst I was away. Being sat at an airport alone makes for productive reading time!
Following my Sunday Summary post a couple of weeks ago, I managed to finish reading The Girl in the Gallery with plenty of time to draft my thoughts for the blog tour post. If you haven’t checked out that post, I would really appreciate it if you did. You can find the link above!
Moving on, I picked up A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. This was the book I picked up in the few moments I had whilst on holiday… although they were few and far between! I was visiting my sister so we had lots of shopping and activities planned. I did manage to finish the book reasonably quickly, wrapping it up on Wednesday night.
From there, I picked up another much anticipated read – Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I really love this book so far as it really does tackle some difficult themes like oppression, slavery and prejudice in a way that is approachable to read. I also love the magic in the book! I’m currently 39% through the book and I cannot wait to pick it up again.
I have only added two books to the list, purely because I refused to even allow myself to look at books whilst shopping. I spent too much money. Payday is much awaited.
I only added Auschwitz to the TBR as I saw a fantastic review of the book. As usual, I’ve done my thing and NOT made a note of the reviewer. SORRY!!! If I find it again, I’ll add the link!
It’s one of my favourite topics. Having read some fictional works based on this tragic episode of history, I wanted to go that step further and delve into real accounts from survivors. I cannot wait to read the book!
I am adding the second book to the list literally as I write this post. Having been hugely undecided as to whether to add/buy the book, Eve of Man has been on my radar for weeks. However, having just watched a video by the lovely Zoe at No Safer Place (discussing the book and it’s hype on Youtube), I am sold. I will get around to reading this book!
Top of Form
I tell you, it’s lovely to be able to get back into some semblance of a routine again. I loved going away, I had a fabulous time. It threw me off the blogging schedule though, and if I have one flaw, it’s that I don’t adapt to change or breaking routine well. Bottom of Form
Now that I can flex my typing fingers once again, I am going to kick-start the week with a post I don’t write very often. Themed around books I would love to read again, I am going to be writing a Top Ten Tuesday post.
On Friday I’ll be posting my review of A Darker Shade of Magic. I’m looking forward to reviewing this book because it is still fresh in my mind. You have no idea how much easier I find reviewing books when I have just read them. I proved that to myself in my review of The Toymakers!
So, that’s all for now, ladies and gents! I hope you have enjoyed reading my post and I look forward to catching up with you again in my Top Ten Tuesday post!
As ever, any love, comments or criticisms are welcome – I would love to hear from you!
Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.
The blurb for this book doesn’t really give away much as to the content of the book; rather, more about the nature of the scenario within. I think this could be both interesting and exciting, so it is staying on the list. I am also hoping that as a result of reading it, I can inspire myself back into reading more classics.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
I am surprised this book only has a 3.9-star rating on Goodreads. I read a lot of reviews on the book from the blogging community and I distinctly remember a glowing report from all the posts I read. That’s what inspired me to add the book to the list in the first place.
I have read a few mystery/suspense books recently and really enjoyed them. The synopsis does a very good job of luring the reader in. I added this book to the TBR nearly a year ago to the day – and I am still attracted to it now.
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.
Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.
When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.
I’m torn about this one, I’ll admit. As before, the mystery element of their unknown connection to each other is intriguing, but on the other hand, I suspect it is going to end up as a romance… and that would be the straw to break the camel’s back. I don’t want to invest time and energy in reading this book to end up disappointed, so I am going to take it off the list.
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.
This book has been insanely popular for the past year. I’ve seen plenty of reviews for it. This is again why I added the book to the TBR. For much the same reason as Letters to the Lost, I am dubious of the book for the reliance on romance to maintain a storyline.
Had I not purchased a copy of the book already, I would have removed it from the list. As it happens, I did purchase a digital copy on sale, so I am as well giving it a try. I’m not holding my breath for a glowing review, but, only time will tell.
Ireland 188 A.D: A land of tribal affiliations, secret alliances and treacherous rivalries.
Youthful woman warrior Liath Luachra has survived two brutal years fighting with mercenary war party “The Friendly Ones” but now the winds are shifting.
Dispatched on a murderous errand where nothing is as it seems, she must survive a group of treacherous comrades, the unwanted advances of her battle leader and a personal history that might be her own undoing.
Clanless and friendless, she can count on nothing but her wits, her fighting skills and her natural ferocity to see her through.
Woman warrior, survivor, killer and future guardian to Irish hero Fionn mac Cumhaill – this is her story.
I don’t like to champion the concept of female warrior / “girl power” as exceptional or out of the ordinary too much. Empowerment should be equal in achievement irrespective of gender, but there are instances on both sides of the coin when this is not the case.
I was drawn to this book as it is a dark tale touching upon a number of sensitive issues. I purchased a copy of the book as soon as I read the synopsis, and I stand by my decision!
Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots: A History of Insanity in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland – Kathryn Burtinshaw & John Burt
In the first half of the nineteenth century, treatment of the mentally ill in Britain and Ireland underwent radical change. No longer manacled, chained and treated like wild animals, patient care was defined in law and medical understanding, and treatment of insanity developed.
Focusing on selected cases, this new study enables the reader to understand how progressively advancing attitudes and expectations affected decisions, leading to better legislation and medical practice throughout the century. Specific mental health conditions are discussed in detail and the treatments patients received are analyzed in an expert way. A clear view of why institutional asylums were established, their ethos for the treatment of patients, and how they were run as palaces rather than prisons giving moral therapy to those affected becomes apparent. The changing ways in which patients were treated, and altered societal views to the incarceration of the mentally ill, are explored. The book is thoroughly illustrated and contains images of patients and asylum staff never previously published, as well as firsthand accounts of life in a nineteenth-century asylum from a patients perspective.
Written for genealogists as well as historians, this book contains clear information concerning access to asylum records and other relevant primary sources and how to interpret their contents in a meaningful way.
I don’t have many non-fiction books on the TBR, and this one tickles my inner psychology nerd.
I studied psychology years ago and learned how the brain worked and treatments administered etc. As a part of that, we touched upon some of the treatments used or imposed on the “clinically insane”. I still want to read this book as a refresher to my previous knowledge… because I really do find the topic interesting! Psychology is often labelled a social science as there are no definite answers or treatments to a given problem. There are a number of different approaches to treating a condition and new research is constantly contributing to evolving these.
Maya’s shocked to discover it’s not the heaven she imagined; in fact, a life of adventure begins the moment you die.
Zachariah, her faithful spirit guide, explains the rules of the dead: in order to regain complete awareness and reunite with loved ones all souls must review their previous lives.
Maya plunges warily into her turbulent pasts as a sociopathic High Priest in ancient Egypt; an independent mother protecting a dangerous secret in glorious Sparta; an Irish boy kidnapped and enslaved by Vikings; and a doctor’s wife forced to make an ethical stand in plague-ridden England.
All the while, Maya yearns to be with those she cares about most and worries that she hasn’t learned all of heaven’s most vital lessons. Will she be forced to leave the tranquility of heaven to survive yet another painful and tumultuous life? Or worse, accept the bitter reality of having to go back alone?
This was added to my TBR because I was interested in the element of the afterlife. I am much undecided as to whether I believe in any of that at all. There are elements of history in this short read as well, spanning ancient Egypt to England in the 1300’s.
Again, as I have already purchased a copy of this book, I will take the time to read it. Had I not, I might have considered taking it off the TBR.
A disgraced college lecturer is found murdered with £5,000 in his pocket on a disused railway line near his home. Since being dismissed from his job for sexual misconduct four years previously, he has been living a poverty-stricken and hermit-like existence in this isolated spot.
The suspects range from several individuals at the college where he used to teach to a woman who knew the victim back in the early ’70s at Essex University, then a hotbed of political activism. When Banks receives a warning to step away from the case, he realises there is much more to the mystery than meets the eye – for there are plenty more skeletons to come out of the closet . . .
I recently read “Death in Dulwich” by Alice Castle, which is similar in setting. A school teacher is found dead on the grounds, and as the book unravels we learn of his not-so-innocent past. As I really enjoyed reading this one, I think this could be really interesting too. I’ll probably start the Inspector Banks series from the beginning before reading this though, so I won’t be reading it for a while to come.
When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.
Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.
Then another body appears against the Wall.
As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.
Who is the Killer on the Wall?
I have kept a lot of books on the TBR so far, and after reading the synopsis, I just don’t know. It does sound interesting, but it doesn’t quite pop out at me like the previous books on the list have.
Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.
But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.
Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.
I love how the premise of the book centers around a circus and the workings of illusion. Combine that with the element of murder/mystery and I’m hooked! This may also end up being a coming-of-age tale (given that the character is explicitly defined as a teenager). Not my favourite trope, but as it is so commonplace, I’ll just have to get on with it!
So that is the next ten books on my list sorted! Have you read any of these books? As ever I would love to hear your thoughts!
Thirty-something single mum Beth Haldane is forced to become Dulwich’s answer to Miss Marple when she stumbles over a murder victim on her first day at work. To clear her name, Beth is plunged into a cozy mystery that’s a contemporary twist on Golden Age crime classics. But can she pull it off? She already has a bouncy young son, haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own and lots of bills to pay, as she struggles to keep up with the yummy mummies of SE21. Join Beth in #1 of the London Murder Mystery series, as she discovers the nastiest secrets can lurk in the nicest places.
Beth is a bubbly young woman, who discovers a murder on her first day back at work. Having convinced herself that she is implicated, she delves in to try and uncover the murderer and motive.
I quite enjoyed her bouncy, ditzy character. She loves to think she is organised; she cleans and tidies the house to “get her thoughts together”. The facade slips whenever she has to tip the contents of her handbag out to find her phone though. It is her way of determining that she is in control. But, as a single mum, things can get pretty hectic. I like the “modern” family structure in the book – increasingly there are more families, for one reason or another, that are reliant on a single parent. I thought it was great that this was recognised.
Alice Castle’s description of Beth is on-point, even down to the rogue, uncooperative hair (anyone with long hair will really relate to this, I’m sure). Her personality makes her the perfect candidate to want to uncover the mystery, despite being warned of the potential dangers by Inspector York. Exasperated at her meddling and finding her around the corner of every development, York has to concede to her knowledge of the small, exclusive community in order to solve the case. Whilst most of the narrative is written from Beth’s perspective, there are small sections from Inspector York. I would have liked to see a little more from his perspective, as the expert on the case.
The narrative is full of plot twists, leaving you guessing the next move and the identity of the perpetrator. What makes it even better is that the final twist was one I didn’t expect at all.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Dulwich…
It’s a perfect summer’s morning in the plush south London suburb, and thirty-something Beth Haldane sneaks off to visit one of her favourite places – the world-famous Picture Gallery.
She’s enjoying a few moments’ respite from juggling her job at prestigious private school Wyatt’s and her role as single mum to little boy, Ben, when she stumbles across a shocking new exhibit on display. Before she knows it, she’s in the thick of a fresh, and deeply chilling, investigation.
Who is The Girl in the Gallery?
Join Beth in adventure #2 of The London Murder Mystery series as she tries to uncover the truth about a secret eating away at the very heart of Dulwich.
I moved on to reading The Girl in the Gallery almost immediately after Death in Dulwich. A number of the main characters are already established; therefore the plot flows effortlessly, without filling in too much back-story. The tale continues shortly after Death in Dulwich leaves off, making the book easy to pick up. There are plenty of references to the previous book to remind you what has happened before anyway.
The biggest plus point is how well the book tackles the sensitive issues within. Body image and the impact of social media are explored in detail. I particularly like how different characters in the book have various views on the struggle teenage girls’ experience. On the whole, the narrative has a balanced approach. This topic is completely different from the first book, so neither narrative nor setting is stale and repetitive.
The dynamic between characters is familiar, yet boundaries are tested in this second installment of the series. Inspector York has come to appreciate that in Dulwich, Beth has access to the inside scoop and enough curiosity to investigate to make his job easier. Where there was a reluctance to involve her in the previous case, now he calls upon her insight willingly.
One of my observations from Death in Dulwich is that there was little input from Inspector York into the narrative. Small sections are devoted to his viewpoint on the case, but they are few and far between. Whilst the sections in The Girl in the Gallery are still quite brief, York certainly has more of a voice and presence than before.
I really enjoyed reading both of these books and cannot wait to see what Calamity in Camberwell has in store! Once again, a huge thank you to both the author and Rachel for organising the tour! If you would like to read either book featured today, a copy can be purchased using the following links:-
Alternatively, the author is running a GIVEAWAY of a signed copy of each book via Rafflecopter. Please note that this is only available to UK residents at this time. See the Terms and Conditions below:-
*Terms and Conditions – UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link above. 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 I reserve 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 be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the Author
Before turning to a life of crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, was a European best-seller which sold out in two weeks.
Alice is currently working on Calamity in Catford, the sequel to Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery. It’s the third instalment in the London Murder Mystery series and will be published by Crooked Cat next year. Once again, it features Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.
Alice is also a top mummy blogger, writing at DD’s Diary.
She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.
Empire of Silence is classic space opera. Set approximately twenty thousand years in our future, humanity reigns across the galaxy, with seats on millions of worlds, on uncounted moons and asteroids, and even across the Dark between the stars. So what can you expect to see as you journey with Hadrian through the pages of this first adventure? What brave new worlds—and what people in them—will you encounter along the way? Here’s a quick rundown of five things you can expect for the world and worldbuilding in my novel.
WE’VE GOT THE EMPIRE, NOW AS THEN
More than sixteen thousand years old by the time our story begins, the Sollan Empire is the largest nation ever to exist. With the control of nearly half a billion habitable worlds and hundreds of trillions of people, it stretches all the way from the Perseus Arm at the outer rim of our galaxy towards the dense Norman Expanse near the center, carving out a wedge of human-controlled space in an uncaring cosmos. Interstellar travel being slow, the Empire is essentially feudal, each planetary system acting more or less independently, with minimal oversight from the Emperor (and minimal interference from his legions) in his palace at Forum. Each feudal territory—be it a moon, a planet, or an entire solar system—is under the command of one or many noble houses. These nobles are the beneficiaries of the finest genetic engineering: they’re stronger, smarter, better-looking, and they may live for centuries, ruling their respective worlds like tiny gods. Founded as they were out of a reaction to the abuses of artificial intelligence and other forms of high technology, the Sollan Empire tightly regulates access to anything more complicated than an automobile.
The Empire’s culture is self-consciously traditionalist. Built on the back of a human victory over their own machines, the first Sollans experienced a renaissance during which the ancient aesthetic and cultural traditions of our checkered past were revived as emblems of an age before our near extinction. Anything that smacks of the postmodern, the artificial, or the inhuman, is cast out or destroyed.
BUT WE ARE NOT ALONE
There may be billions of habitable worlds in the Milky Way, but if there are other civilizations, we have yet to hear from them. As humanity made its way into space, we discovered the answer to Fermi’s Paradox was rather simpler than we expected: we were early risers. Intelligent life is relatively rare in the cosmos. In nearly twenty thousand years of exploring deep space, we encountered dozens of intelligent species, but none of them had developed any technology more advanced than steel. Some of these species we uplifted, others enslaved. In all that time, we have only encountered one other species capable of star travel: the Cielcin. Like humanity, the Cielcin homeworld is lost, destroyed in the deeps of time. Unlike humanity, they have not settled other worlds, but set to roaming, wandering in the black of space inside ships hollowed out of asteroids: gathering fuel from gas giants, sucking water from comets, and harvesting planets for food—when they can find it. Roughly humanoid, they are carnivorous to a fault, and it is this need to eat that has driven them to assault human colonies. Entire cities are captured and butchered to feed their migratory hordes, leaving only smoking ruins in their wake. Because of their migratory nature, humanity has been forced to fight a defensive war for centuries, unable to find the aliens’ fleets in the dark of infinite space. For mankind, it’s been nothing but a series of losses and losing battles, punctuated by the odd, startling success…that is, until Hadrian Marlowe appeared.
BIOLOGY IS DESTINY
Hadrian Marlowe is a child of lords. A palatine. Born at the very top of the imperial caste system, he is the the beneficiary of dozens of generations of breeding and genetic engineering. Members of the palatine caste may live for centuries, with the very oldest and noblest families living as long as six or seven hundred years. They’re free from most diseases, taller, smarter, more attractive than their low-caste plebeian counterparts who—like you and I—are doomed to live a mere 80-some years with various health problems and insufficiencies. Between them are the patricians, low-caste people given gene therapies and other medical interventions in return for services rendered. Such patricians may live longer—some as many as three hundred years—and may even pass those inheritances on to their children, if their lords are gracious enough. But not all is well for our palatine overlords. Their genomes are so heavily modified, so idiosyncratic, that they cannot reproduce without scientific help. That’s all well and good. The palatine nobility wouldn’t want children the natural way to begin with, preferring instead to have their children in artificial wombs under the watchful eye of scientists. But they also cannot reproduce without imperial permission, as the keys that would allow each noble couple’s children to develop healthy are tightly controlled by the Emperor’s office. Thus the Emperor retains control of the noble houses: through their children.
NEVER TRUST ROBOTS
You won’t find any robots in the Sollan Empire (and if you do, you must report them to the Holy Terran Chantry at once). They’re forbidden. Long ago, before the foundation of the Empire, the ancient Mericanii were ruled by machines, vast artificial intelligences that governed Old Earth in its dying days. Those would have been humanity’s dying days as well, for our machine children turned against us, and it was only the actions of a few offworld colonies—led by the man who would become the Sollan Empire’s first Emperor—who delivered mankind from the machines. Never again, they vowed, would we make monsters out of metal and silicon. That’s where the Chantry comes in: part religious institution, part judicial apparatus, the Chantry polices the imperial world. Every citizen, from the lowliest serf to the Emperor himself, is subject to their inquiry. Their influence even stretches beyond imperial borders, into Jaddian space and amongst the Norman colonies. Though they police all manner of crimes-turned-sins, their primary charge is the hunting down and destruction of illegal technologies, especially any technologies with a glimmer of intelligence. Cybernetic implants are strictly forbidden, as the mixture of man and machine is considered the worst abomination of all.
But beyond the borders of the Empire—in the Dark between the stars—the Chantry’s power breaks down. Among the Extrasolarians (human pirates and barbarians that rejected imperial civilization) it is said the old, forbidden technologies still prosper. Perhaps the machines are not so dead as the priest-hunters of the Chantry believe.
THE SWORD IS MIGHTY
It was space travel that first revived the age of the sword. The delicate hulls of spacecraft and the presence of volatile chemicals made firearms a poor option, but it was the development of the Royse field that truly restored the sword to its rightful place in the hand of every soldier, mercenary, gentleman, and privateer. The force field sidelined traditional firearms, forcing common soldiers to adopt plasma weapons—whose ambient heat can pass through a Royse barrier—and melee weapons, which are slow enough to pass beneath a shield’s energy threshold. This revolutionized combat and reshaped human culture as we expanded into space. Most battles between human groups became fought on the ground or the air, most inter-ship weaponry having been made obsolete by the shield and by the blanket ban on artificial intelligence, and what space combat there is most often performed by boarding parties and by stealth. Just an importantly, the swords themselves improved. Highmatter is a form of programmable exotic matter discovered some millennia before Hadrian’s day. A kind of liquid metal, highmatter is used in some electronics and especially in spacecraft, but it is also used for swords. Highmatter swords can cut through almost anything. Their edges are programmed to an atom’s thickness, and they might cut steel or stone as easily as an arm or leg. The atoms of a highmatter blade are bonded together, making the sword essentially one massive molecule, and nigh unbreakable. The only defense against a highmatter sword is the long-chain carbon atoms that are found in starship hulls—or, of course, another highmatter sword.
About The Author
Christopher Ruocchio is the author of The Sun Eater, a space opera fantasy series from DAW Books, as well as the Assistant Editor at Baen Books, where he co-edited the military SF anthology Star Destroyers, as well as the upcoming Space Pioneers, a collection of Golden Age reprints showcasing tales of human exploration. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University, where a penchant for self-destructive decision making caused him to pursue a bachelor’s in English Rhetoric with a minor in Classics. An avid student of history, philosophy, and religion, Christopher has been writing since he was eight-years-old and sold his first book —Empire of Silence— at twenty-two. The Sun Eater series is available from Gollancz in the UK, and has been translated into French and German.
Christopher lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he spends most of his time hunched over a keyboard writing. When not writing, he splits his time between his family, procrastinating with video games, and his friend’s boxing gym. He may be found on both Facebook and Twitter at @TheRuocchio.
The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!
It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.
For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…
I finished reading this book at the end of May, but due to other blogging commitments, I have been unable to find the time to write my review. Usually, leaving a review for so long can make it difficult to remember the impression the book made on you at the time. However, there are a few stand out points that make this book quite unforgettable.
I cannot put into words how well Robert Dinsdale captures the spirit, imagination and the magic of being a child. I may be twenty-three years old, but there were times I wished I was transported to the age of childhood innocence. It may sound daft – hey, you’re an adult! Magic isn’t real! That is where you are wrong.
In stark contrast to the joy and wonder of youth and fun of the Toy Emporium, sixteen-year-old Cathy is due to become a mother. Shunned by her parents for the impropriety of being with child out of wedlock, she flees to the Emporium to start afresh. There, she raises her child and the two of them become part of the Emporium family.
As Emil and Kaspar wage their boyhood wars, the true horrors of real war come to haunt many families. Boys are sent to the trenches. Those that come back are not the same as the boys who left to fight for Queen and country.
I was fascinated at how Papa Jack came to be a toymaker. His back-story is rich and inspiring in equal measure. The life of the Toymaker has not been easy, and it is from the darkest shadows that the brightest light shines. Beauty, love, awe, and inspiration go hand in hand with the horror and brutality, trials and hardship of the world – this inseparable combination captures the essence of life.
I don’t think I can successfully put into words just how much I loved this book! Each character is unique and has their part to play. It is a wonderful blend of historical fiction and fantasy – lovers of either genre would enjoy reading The Toymakers for themselves. As an avid reader of BOTH genres… perhaps then you can see why I enjoyed the book so much! I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in these genres. I don’t think you will regret it.