Month: March 2019

My Blogging Journey

I don’t think I have ever made time to tell you, properly, how I came to start my blog. I’ve mentioned bits and pieces amongst other posts before, but that is all. Next month my blog will be two years old – quite an achievement! I want to take the opportunity to look back to those early days and see how far I’ve come along in that time.

Before I get that far though, I need to tell you a little about me. You need to understand this – I have always been the person to get excited over new projects but drop them as soon as any level of commitment is required. My mum was always keen to remind me of the fact growing up. It may sound harsh but I’m glad she did. I can always count on my mum for the truth, especially if it’s what I need to hear.

 

So how does the person who cannot commit get this far?

It goes without saying that I have always enjoyed reading, but after I left school and joined the 9-5 workforce I fell out of the habit. Instead, I’d spend my evenings and weekends playing games on my laptop or watching TV. I still play games now, but far less than I did. Even after I moved into my own place my time was spent in a comparatively unproductive way.

Something happened to break that cycle. It’s not the nicest of stories to tell because it began when my mum fell suddenly ill. The details are private business, but all you need to know is that it was serious. She was treated in hospital for about two and a half weeks; it is during that time that I changed my habits. It may sound totally cliché but it really is true – changes in habits can become long term lifestyle changes.

I was still going to work after mum fell ill. She could only have limited visitors at a time so we had to take turns. I started work at 8:30am and worked through my lunch to leave early. That way I was able to spend as much time up at the hospital as I could. I was getting home at around 9pm and still have to catch up with everything at home. I was even doing some shopping and ironing for my dad too. Rather than committing to an hour of TV so late at night (I was too tired for that), instead I sat in bed and picked up a book. This all happened in January too, so I was coming home to a cold flat. Who doesn’t want to go to bed when it’s freezing?!

I confess that I fell asleep reading more than once during that time. The flexibility of being able to read for ten minutes or an hour, however much I wanted, suited me. I had also just picked up and stuck to Terry Pratchett’s first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, at that point. In no time I rattled through the first books of the series… and I am still going now!

Even after mum came home again I kept up the reading. As horrible as that time was for our family it is the starting point of catching the “reading bug” again.

 

My Blogging Journey…

Four months and twenty books later, I decided I wanted to talk about my re-discovered hobby. There isn’t really anyone as bookish as me in my life, so my blog has proven to be a great outlet. Getting into the habit of writing took a little bit of time; I started my blog in April but I didn’t really put a schedule in place until August 2017. Up until that point, I was still finding my feet and posts were pretty sporadic.

One thing I can tell I have developed in the two years (almost) I have been blogging is my own writing style. I looked back at some of my earlier posts when I migrated my blog to a self-hosted site last year. Just for a giggle, here are some links to some of those earlier posts. Perhaps you will see what I mean when I say that I have come on leaps and bounds: –

The Green Mile – Stephen King
Little Indulgences
Current Reading List: June 2017

Ignore the gross formatting issues, for which I blame migration because I can promise I would NOT have posted block text. I know for a fact it made a lot of my images disappear too. Look at the way I structure the posts and my use of language. It’s nothing like my writing now. At least I don’t think so…

Making time to write regularly has improved my skill. It’s a change that has even been noticed at work. I get compliments on my writing, and regrettably volunteered to draft anything that falls out of the ordinary. Templates are great, don’t get me wrong, but some people just don’t know how to write things like that from scratch as a result of dependence on them. I digress.

I think I have made vast improvements from those first steps, and I am not ashamed to admit that I am proud that I have stuck to it. It’s a habit that has become so ingrained that not reading or working towards a blog post is alien to me. I miss it when I take a break. If I am taking time out, I try to fill in the gaps beforehand.

I cannot deny that at times it is hard work, but it is worth the reward. I began writing my blog for myself and for the most part I still do now! It’s nice to get a few likes and comments along the way too. More importantly, if I can inspire just one person to pick up a book and discover the joy of reading, well, I consider that a job well done.

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 10th March 2019

Sunday evenings present a certain level of dread when thinking about the week ahead. That’s why I always do my best to try and look back at the better parts of the week past. It’s a fun distraction at the very least. I also love to talk about all things bookish with you guys, so it’s a win-win situation!

So, I am going to ignore the impending doom of a busy week ahead and instead reflect on what I have already achieved. On Tuesday I published a Top Ten Tuesday post, listing a number of books across genres that I would personally recommend to readers. I’ll admit there is a bit of a bias towards fantasy books (they are my favourite after all) but I have tried to include genres like historical fiction and horror as well. Then, yesterday I published my review of the second book in Edward Cox’s The Relic Guild series, The Cathedral of Known Things.

On a non-bookish note, I have also re-discovered my love of Minecraft! After a long time, I have started playing again. I’d forgotten how much I love to hate those damn creepers… especially when they blow up a spawner conveniently located under the surface in spitting distance from your base…

 

Books Read

This week didn’t really get off to the best of starts – I basically sleep-walked through Monday. At 12:25am on Monday morning I had to get medical help for a neighbour of mine. I’m not going to go into any detail because that isn’t really the crux of my point. What I am getting at is that I went through the day at work on about three and a half hours sleep.

Fun. Not.

In whiling away the night (I didn’t get to sleep for a good few hours after the aforementioned incident), I picked up A Storm of Swords again. This is a long book and it’s one I am doing my best to chip away at whilst I read the other books on my list. It’s time will come, but I need to get my blog tour reads out of the way first.

My main goal of the week was to finish The End of Magic by Mark Stay, which I managed to do quite early on. Once you get so far in a book it’s actually quite easy to finish it. I’ve been reading this one in conjunction with another ARC, meaning it’s taken a little longer than it would if I was putting 100% into it. It was really enjoyable though, and a unique take on a fantasy book that I haven’t seen.

Speaking of which, I managed to pick up and read Psychotopia by R. N. Morris in a few days. It feels like I haven’t achieved that in a while, so that’s given me a bit of a boost. It was only after I read it that I realised that is actually my second blog tour of the month. I should have read Life, and Other Dreams by Richard Dee first. Never mind, I’ve also made progress on that too (21%). If I keep up my current pace I should have that read pretty quickly too.

 

Books Discovered

I have added a book to the TBR this week, but I don’t feel all that bad about it because it follows on from one of my Top Ten Recommendations. Code Name Verity is a historical fiction novel that I really enjoyed. Until writing my post, I had completely forgotten that there was a second book – Rose Under Fire.

It’s on the list now!!

I’m trying to keep my additions to the TBR to a minimum, in the hope that I can tackle it a bit better. That being said, a work friend is due to have a baby soon. Me being me, I am going to gift her some books for the little one. It’s rare that I can walk out of a bookshop empty handed…

 

Coming Up…

In an attempt to catch up with some reading I am only going to publish two posts next week. Not only do I have an ARC to finish proofreading, but I am also reading one of the longest books in the Song of Ice and Fire series. I need all the help I can get.

In addition to the usual Sunday Summary, I have decided to talk a little about how I came to start this blog. It’s something I have mentioned in snippets of blog posts here and there, but I want to dedicate a post to it and how I think it has progressed from there. Next month I reach my two-year blogiversary. It’s as good a time as any to look back at the journey.

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

Book Bosomed Blonde – Book Review: Six of Crows

Books and Nuggets – Weekly Reads

Live and Deadly – The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor @cjtudor @JennyPlatt90 @MichaelJBooks #TakingofAnnieThorne #bookreview

BbookInspector – #BlogTour #BookReview The Taking of Annie Thorne By C.J. Tudor @MichaelJBooks

 

Book Review Banner

Book Review: The Cathedral of Known Things – Edward Cox

***I am grateful to have received a copy of this series for an honest review courtesy of Gollancz. All opinions stated are my own***

 

Goodreads – The Cathedral of Known Things

Divided, hunted and short on resources, the surviving members of the Relic Guild are in real trouble. Their old enemy, the Genii, and their resurrected master have infiltrated Labrys Town and taken over the police force.

So the Relic Guild must flee their home, and set off on a dangerous journey across the worlds of the Aelfir. One that will lead them to a weapon which might destroy the Genii. Or the whole universe…

And forty years before all this, the war which led to the fall of the Genii continues. And what happens to the Relic Guild during that conflict will change the course of their desperate flight.

 

My Thoughts…

My initial impressions of the series can be found in my review of The Relic Guild, the first book of the series. The turmoil within Labrys Town continues in this second instalment, and the Relic Guild are out of their depth.

The dual timeline between The Great War forty years ago and the present day is one of my favourite elements of the book. The circumstances have changed for both sides since the first invasion years ago. Fabian Moor has licked his wounds and learned from his mistakes. On the other hand, the Relic Guild has fewer numbers than before. The odds are stacking against them rapidly in this new attack on the Labyrinth.

It is fair to say that the narrative storyline is well developed, but isn’t hard to follow. In this second book of the series, there is far more action and plot development. It builds on the events of the first book well, so the character relations and world building are carried through. I really enjoyed the characterisation and world-building elements in the first book. Although I didn’t pick up The Cathedral of Known Things straight after the Relic Guild, it was easy to pick up again and felt familiar almost immediately. The world building and characterisation were necessary components of the first book of the series and brilliant besides. However, I am grateful to start to see the action unfold now that I have invested time into the lives of these characters.

Whilst both storylines are narrated concurrently in the book, the main emphasis I took away from it lies in the storyline of The Great War all those years ago. Could it be that the key to winning this present day war lies in events of the past? Perhaps. I’ll only know that once I read The Watcher of Dead Time later this month. I can’t wait to read it and share my thoughts with you all. With any luck though… I’ll pull my finger out and share them with you a bit sooner than three months after the reading of it…

Top Ten Tuesday – Book Recommendations

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

The thing I enjoy the most about blogging and reading blogs is book recommendations. Whether giving them myself or getting them by reading reviews online, it’s fun. I’m always looking to increase my reading repertoire. I hadn’t ventured into reading horror books until I started my blog and up until that point, I have missed out on enjoying a wide range of authors!

Today I am taking the opportunity to give YOU some book recommendations, but if you have any for me based on my list, then I would love to hear some of your recommendations in the comments!

I’m going to keep this list short and snappy so you can scan through if you want. Where I have reviewed a book on the list, I’ll provide a link to my review in the title. That way you can choose whether you wish to read it or not. I mean OBVIOUSLY, you do… but hey, I want all the views I can get haha!

 

My Top Ten Book Recommendations

 

A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

I would only recommend this for fans of fantasy who aren’t intimidated by larger books and complex plot lines. Isn’t that a given? I think the largest books I read are typically part of the fantasy genre. There are a couple of notable exceptions though. It’s worth the time though – this is by far my favourite series of all time and I will recommend this book again and again until I am blue in the face.

 

Pet Sematary – Stephen King

This was the first horror I read of Stephen King’s. It wasn’t the first of his books I read – that accolade goes to The Green Mile. This was the first in the horror genre though. Since then I have gone on to read IT and listen to The Stand and add many other books to the list.

 

The Discworld Series – Terry Pratchett

What is great about the Discworld series is that it doesn’t matter how many of these you read. You could read them all if you want to, (a feat I am slowly creeping towards), or you could just pick up one to enjoy. The stories are all largely independent of each other and so you’re not committed to a mass reading expedition trying these. They have characters, places and comical themes in common, but they stand alone too. I have read too many of these books to link here, and some before my blogging days. Please search on my blog if you’re interested.

 

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) – Brandon Sanderson

As with A Game of Thrones, this is another epic read worth the investment. I have only read the first book so far, but the fact that I am willing to recommend the series based on that should say it all…

 

The Green Mile – Stephen King

If this book doesn’t make you ball your eyes out … ahem, upset, then you are not human. I was introduced to the film many years ago but due to the nature of the topics concerned, I hadn’t really watched it in full. The book is even more profound than the film and it is one I will re-visit again and again.

 

The Last Kingdom (series) – Bernard Cornwell

This is a recommendation for anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction. Again, it’s tricky to link the reviews. I love the characters and the narrative is so well written… these books are easy to get lost in. I have read the first three books of the series so far in addition to having watched the first two seasons of the TV adaptation. Muppet here has only JUST realised that Season 3 was released in November last year, but only on Netflix. I’ll have to buy the DVD for it. Next month…

 

Raven’s Mark series – Ed McDonald

Another fantasy series I know, but wow! I love Ryhalt and his sassiness; I relate to his sarcastic outlook, I really do. Ryhalt is almost a bit of an anti-hero – the kind of guy that does what he does to save his own skin MOST of the time. There is a glimmer of humanity in there somewhere though. We need to see more of these characters in books. Let’s face it, not many people are as altruistic as book heroes are!

 

An Almond for a Parrot – Wray Delaney

This book makes it to the list for the comedy factor. It has a blend of fantasy in there too, but my favourite part by far is how it handled the, erm… saucy bits. As a general rule, I don’t like books that go into that much detail in THAT regard. I find it cringe-worthy. So was this one in its own way, but that somehow made it funnier? I couldn’t have “read” this in the traditional way. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did a fabulous job. It made the story.

 

Strange the Dreamer (series) – Laini Taylor

I recommend this duology for anyone who enjoys magic, YA style. I’m not a huge reader of YA on the whole, but I really enjoyed these. Sometimes I can find the characters immature, but the storyline behind them “finding themselves” after their world is turned upside down both makes sense and drives the plot nicely. There’s a little bit of a romance which is kind of cute. Again, I’m not really a HUGE fan generally but it isn’t overplayed.

 

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

I want to recommend this historical fiction book to anyone who loves this genre because I did NOT see the plot twist in this one coming. Not only is the character engaging, but we are able to sympathise with her predicament. The level of detail is fantastic and I was blown away by the ending!

 

I’ve tried to vary up my recommendations based on different genres, although Fantasy does prevail a little here! Have you read any of these books?

Do you have any recommendations for me?

 

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 3rd March 2019

It’s time for the Sunday Summary (aka weekly wrap-up) again guys! Have you had a good reading week?

My week had quite a good start really. Last week I failed in writing my review of A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. I really thought I was going to struggle. How do you even manage to start such an epic task? I did just fine though – in fact, I had to stop myself else I’d have been waffling nonsense! If you already love the book I would love to hear what you think about it as well!

Yesterday, again later than scheduled, I published my reading list for March. It was a little bit rushed to publish that post since I left it so late. I ended up spending a lot longer at a work social on Friday than I expected.

 

Books Read

My primary focus this week ended up being a little different than planned. I had hoped to finish Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares, but as I am proofreading as well as reading for review, this is quite an intensive task. I haven’t gotten very much sleep this week on account of a neighbour’s loud television at all hours of the night. Literally, 24/7. Put it this way, yesterday was my first opportunity to catch up on the much-needed sleep. I woke up at 11:45 am – much later than my 8:30 am alarm! Eek!

So, my head hasn’t been in the right place for proofreading. Instead, I decided to focus my attention on the last book on my February list, The End of Magic by Mark Stay. I started this book from scratch this week and I’m currently at 67%. I haven’t been reading at my best speed (for reasons mentioned above, as well as being out for lunch twice, staying late at work for an hour on Wednesday AND a work social on Friday), but I’m hoping to really make a push to have these two books read soon!

You may recall that I mentioned a book called Copyediting and Proofreading for Dummies in last week’s Sunday Summary post. Well, I was able to pick that up on Thursday. Naturally, my curious self couldn’t help but have a little nosy at a few chapters. There is no such thing as just looking at a few pages now…

 

Books Discovered

Out of the blue, I received a book recommendation by a friend yesterday, which was nice! She is one of my more bookish friends from school and I think we have similar tastes. She describes Gormenghast as “a brilliantly written, funny and macabre fantasy with lush descriptions and distinct characters”. The funniest part is that apparently, one character acts just like someone we both went to school with and the book “voices exactly why he was so irritating”.

I couldn’t possibly say no to that recommendation. I always try to credit them when I receive them, so thank you to my friend Alice @amjlawrence

 

Coming Up…

Before I even begin to tackle March’s reading list, priority number one is to finish February’s reads. Now that the pressure at work is off and I can hopefully get some sleep, I am really going to push finishing reading Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares and The End of Magic by midweek.

In terms of blog posts, I have decided to post another Top Ten Tuesday this week. It’s been a month since the last one, to the day. This month, my post will be all about my top ten book recommendations.

Later in the week, I’ll be dropping another review your way. This one is for The Cathedral of Known Things by Edward Cox, book two in the Relic Guild series. I am really looking forward to concluding the series by reading The Watcher of Dead Time later this month. This will be a great opportunity to conclude my thoughts about that book before I delve into the next!

 

 

Reading List – March 2019

I didn’t get around to writing my Reading List post yesterday, or the day before. Sorry guys! It has been a long and busy week at work. Combine that with a lack of sleep due to the volume of a neighbour’s television, I couldn’t persuade myself to sit in front of a computer when I got home.

I’m here now though, back and fresh as a daisy, to tell you which books I’ll be keeping my nose in this month:-

…..

Wrapping Up from February –

Before I move on to March reads I am making a real push to get a couple of carryovers concluded. I have already made good headway with both so I anticipate I’ll have them read by midweek at the absolute latest!

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Life, and Other Dreams – Richard Dee

Goodreads – Life and Other Dreams

Rick lives here on Earth now, with Cath. His life is boring, writing adverts for cat food and exotic holidays. When he’s asleep, he dreams vividly.
In his dreams, he lives as Dan, spending his time with his wife Vanessa. They live six-hundred years in the future, half a galaxy away. They’re explorers, searching for valuable minerals on Ecias, an alien paradise.
Dan has no dreams about Rick’s life, he lives on Ecias, loves his life and Vanessa.
When the two worlds overlap, Rick starts to question what is real. Events in his waking and sleeping lives are mirrored, similar people inhabit both and coincidences mount up. Then disaster strikes in each world at the same time. In his dreams, Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, after one coincidence too many, Cath thinks that Rick’s dreams are hiding an affair and leaves him.
Is Rick going crazy, or can he be living in two places, in two times, at once? If not, then which one of them is the reality? Will one life carry on when the other is on hold?

Goodreads

I signed up to the Blog Tour for this book as I think the parallel time premise interesting. I don’t really read as much from the sci-fi genre, so I am glad that by taking part I get to dip into it once again.

…..

Psychotopia – R. N. Morris

Goodreads – Psychotopia

A game for the times we live – and die – in. Enter Psychotopia, a dark new dystopian novel from the author of the acclaimed Silas Quinn mysteries.

PSYCHOTOPIA, LEVEL ONE. Create your own boutique psychopath, then deceive, manipulate and be ruthless, spreading mayhem and destruction to reach the next levels.

It’s the computer game for our times. After all, the amount of crazy in the world is increasing. Senseless violence on the streets is becoming the norm. Can Dr Arbus’s ground-breaking device identify and neutralize psychopaths before it’s too late?

In this increasingly dysfunctional world, surely Callum standing by Aimee after her devastating encounter with Charlie is proof that real love and goodness can still win in a world that’s increasingly rotten . . .

Or can it?

Goodreads

Doesn’t this just sound both creepy and a little bit amazing?! I couldn’t resist this one based on the synopsis! I enjoy gaming as much as the next person so this is right up my street!

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Arbitrage – Colette Kebell

Goodreads – Arbitrage

Ryan Logan thinks he has it all… A young attorney specialising in finance and tax law, Logan has earned an impressive reputation and commands a hefty fee for his services. But when he advises his corporate employers against a merger with a shady financial institution, he soon finds himself caught up in a web of betrayal and deceit. Framed for the murder of his wealthy boss, Logan is forced to accept a plea deal, to keep his own dark secrets from coming to light…

Arbitrage is a fast-paced, stand-alone financial thriller. If you like edge-of-your-seat suspense, sweet revenge, and twists and turns you won’t see coming, you’ll love this eye-opening look into the world of financial crime.

Can a burned out lawyer outwit an army of con artists and killers?

Goodreads

This is a blog tour that I am taking part in next month, but I am hoping to get ahead and read this one pretty quickly. As soon as I get the ARC for it, I’ll be picking this up. I’m taking part in no less than four tours next month, so I need all the headway I can get!  

…..

A Storm of Swords – George R. R. Martin

Goodreads – A Storm of Swords

Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces manoeuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords…

Goodreads

If you read my blog you’ll know I’ve already started this book. I absolutely love the series. Since we are fast approaching the final season on TV, I had to pick these books up again. I am trying to intersperse them with other reading to spread them out, but I find myself picking the next one up all-too-quickly.

The Watcher of Dead Time – Edward Cox

Goodreads – The Watcher of Dead Time

Labrys Town, home to a million humans cut off from the rest of the universe, has been invaded. Those who protected it have been deposed.

The Relic Guild are scattered across the worlds of the Aelfir. Many of them are dead or dying. The Genii control everything. The war is almost over.

Clara, a young woman barely able to control her werewolf side, has seen her friends and mentors killed in front of her. She is the last hope for Labrys Town.

But someone else is watching…

The dramatic conclusion to the award-nominated fantasy trilogy which began with THE RELIC GUILD.

Goodreads

This is a series I am looking forward to the conclusion for. I was provided with the three book series for review by Gollancz last year. They are detailed and I’m really enjoying the magic system and world that the narrative takes place in. I can’t wait to see how the conflict resolves (if it does at all, that  is…)