Month: July 2019

Reading List: August 2019

It’s unusual for me to be drafting and publishing my reading list for August so early. Since I have a couple of other blog posts already lined up in the first couple of days in the month, I felt publishing it a couple of days early was better than nearly a week late.

After having such a productive month in June, I oversubscribed a little in July. Three books on the list had over 500 pages each, and the other two probably made up another 500 between them. I think I would have been alright if I had been in a reading mood more often. I didn’t allow for giving myself time to chill and do something else. But, hey ho, I’d rather not burn out in the long run. Does it matter if I take a break and read a book in the last week of one month or the first week of the next? Not really.

Anyway – onwards and upwards! Let’s crack on with the list for August!

 

Thran Book 1: The Birth – Brian MacLaughlin

Goodreads – Thran Book 1

Set in the mythical world of Thran, a young warrior named Brutal Mixnor sets out on an adventure to uncover the truth about his father’s mysterious disappearance after a battle years earlier. Some longtime friends and new acquaintances join him in his search, each with their own reasons for braving the danger-filled wilds of the Cruel Pass. Follow the young adventurers and watch as their powers grow, along with the strength of the enemies they encounter. Discover the complex, imperfect, characters of all races, comprising the full spectrum of alignments (good, neutral, and evil) that weave their way into and out of the story, leaving their mark on the reader as the world of Thran is pushed towards cataclysmic war and suffering. For readers familiar with the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons(R), Thran Book I: The Birth will feel like a warm wave of nostalgia washing over you, and the unfamiliar will get a glimpse of what it’s like to be immersed into the heart of an adventure that transports you into a world where magic abounds and almost anything is possible, but nothing is certain. Visit https: //www.worldofthran.com/ to learn more about the world of Thran, including: character portraits, the world map, the pantheon of deities, and more!

 

I picked up a copy of this fantasy novel via Voracious Readers Only and I didn’t get the chance to pick it up last month, as intended. It’s the first book I’ll be picking up this month, however. I’ve had a very brief look at it – the first couple of pages really, and I’m optimistic that it will be an enjoyable read!

 

Duality – K. J. McGillick

Goodreads – Duality

Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, you’ll learn how wrong you’ve been.

What started out as a normal art restoration project for Melinda Martin soon took on a life of its own. Could this unusual painting actually be a Botticelli masterpiece thought to have perished as part of Savonarola’s Bonfire of the Vanities? Had Melinda’s friend, Lara, a well-known art picker inadvertently acquired stolen art; art that might have ties to the occult and worth millions? Did a bad business decision endanger everyone who touched this potential treasure?

When the painting disappears and both women are found dead, the police think it’s an open and shut case. The husband – it’s always the husband. He had means, motive, and opportunity, and acted strangely cold after the fact.

Is it a case of mistaken identity? Does a secret relationship put Mr. Martin in the crosshairs of an assassin sent to retrieve the painting? Or is he really a sociopath forger with mysterious ties to the Vatican?

Two sides of the same coin. Completely alike. Completely different.

 

I’m on another blog tour for one of K. J. McGillick’s books! Having read and enjoyed no less than four other books of hers already, I’m now going to be reviewing Duality for the upcoming tour. At this point, I will auto-accept tours for, or buy, her books. I think that says how much I like them…

 

The Fourth Victim – John Mead

Goodreads – The Fourth Victim

Three parks, three deaths, four victims, two grieving families, one murder enquiry team and an unknown number of killers. Can an answer be found? Whitechapel is being gentrified, the many green spaces of the area, which typify London as a capital city, give the illusion of peace, tranquillity and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder. Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula doesn’t dislike Inspector Merry but he has hardly set the world of the Murder Investigation Team East alight. And, it looked as it the inspector was already putting the death of the young female jogger, found in the park with her head bashed in, down to a mugging `gone wrong’. The victim deserved more. But the inspector isn’t ruling anyone out; the evidence will, eventually, lead him to an answer…

 

I am also taking part in a blog tour for The Fourth Victim this month. I was already looking forward to the book based on the genre and synopsis, but my impromptu read of The Chalk Man (and LOVING it!) has got me all the more excited to read more books in the thriller genre.

 

Elantris – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Elantris

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn’t recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It’s also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

 

Starting my Shelf Control series recently has got me thinking about how much of a backlist I have. It’s ridiculously long and I need to do something about it. So, here we are! This is the oldest item on the TBR; by the end of the month I’m hoping to be able to tick it off the list!

I have read a few books by Brandon Sanderson and really enjoyed them all, so I have no doubts about picking another of his books up at all.

So, only four books on the list this month. I am very aware that a couple of these are quite long, so I’m trying to take the pressure off. I would like to read more, but I’ll play it by ear. I may get the chance to pick up another impromptu book month and actually have time for it without sacrificing something else…

What books are on your TBR next month?

 

 

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Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 28th July 2019

Today’s Sunday Summary post comes to you on a bit of a miserable day to end a gorgeous week. Let’s make the best of it, shall we?

I took full advantage of having a much-needed week off work and got plenty of reading done! As well as catching up on my reading (which I definitely needed!) I published three midweek posts for you. Conscious that it has been a while since I last looked at my TBR, I published another Down the TBR Hole post. I managed to take three books off the list in that post. Of course, I’ve added even more books to the list since then… I need help, okay!

On Thursday I shared my review of Scouse Gothic by Ian McKinney as part of the blog tour organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. I really enjoyed the change of genre and reading a novel that blends Liverpool’s history into a gothic narrative.

Finally, on Friday I shared a Shelf Control post. This week I showcased the third oldest book on my TBR list; it’s a fantasy novel with an intriguing spy/mystery element to it.

 

Books Read

I have spent the majority of the week desperately trying to finish part one of A Dance with Dragons. I really love these books but man, they are so long! At the top of the week I felt like I was behind in the month’s reading. I suppose I still am, but I feel in a much better position now. I finally managed to finish the book after chipping away at it for several days. I’m nearly through my re-read of the series now!

Next, I was quick to start reading Kau D’Varza by David Noe. After working with David and reviewing Seeker previously, I was keen to delve back into the Chaosnova universe and enjoy reading some science fiction again. I started the book on Friday evening and by the end of yesterday, I made it nearly halfway through the 500-page book!

Getting so far, I decided I wanted to pick another book up as well. I have read a lot of fantasy lately and having had a brief look at the last book on my list, it didn’t feel like a book I could juggle with others all that well. So, I confess, I’ve gone off on a tangent and picked up something else completely not on the list. I don’t feel bad at all; it’s proven the breath of fresh air I’ve needed. The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor is brilliant! I started reading it last night and I’m already around two-thirds of the way through it. I can’t leave it alone, so the goal is to finish it tomorrow at the latest!

Lastly, I managed to make the progress I hoped to with my audiobook, The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman. Despite being off work, there were a few journeys in the car to meet a friend or go shopping that gave me the opportunity to continue listening to the story. With any luck, I’ll be telling you that I’ve finished it next week!

 

Books Discovered

I felt proud of myself for taking three books off my ridiculously long TBR on Monday, however, that was short-lived.

I’ve only gone and added five more to the list. I can’t even apologise to myself because I don’t feel guilty! Here is a list of the books I’ve added and how I acquired them: –

  • Imaginary Friend – Netgalley download by taking part in promo for the new book
  • The One Hundred Nights of Hero – Added having read a fab review – link in Top Posts section below
  • The Exact Opposite of Okay – Added having read a fab review – but forgot to copy the link. I’m an idiot
  • Scouse Gothic 2 – Sent to me by the author having toured with the first book of the series
  • Circe – Purchased because it sounds amazing!

In addition to buying Circe, I also bought a copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. That’s been on the TBR for a while though, so it doesn’t strictly count as “new”.

 

Coming Up…

So, what’s coming up on my blog next week? Whenever I ask myself this question, the first answer is ‘absolutely no idea’. That’s the truth. It’s at the point of writing this post that I make that plan.

Typically I share my reading list in the first few days of the month in question, however, due to my existing schedule I’m actually going to publish it early – on Tuesday 30th.

On Thursday I’ll be sharing my review of a recent read – Birth of the Mortokai by D G Palmer as part of the upcoming tour for the book. I really enjoyed the storyline centred around a character with a unique trait – albinism. Anyway, I won’t go into detail here… I’ll save it for my review!

On Friday it’s the turn of my First Lines Friday post. I have no idea which book I’ll feature this week, so it’s as much a surprise for you as it is me right now.

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

In this section of my Sunday Summary post I like to offer a quick nod to other amazing book bloggers by sharing some of the posts I really enjoyed reading! This week there is also another link to a bookish article published by the Telegraph. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I have: –

Telegraph – Still Obsessed George Orwells 1984

June 2019 Shelflove Crate Unboxing SPOILERS

Book Review: The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

First Lines Fridays #83

Book Blogging Myths

So, that’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary post! I hope you have enjoyed reading what I’m up to!

What have you been reading?

 

 

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Shelf Control – 26/07/2019

Welcome back to my new regular feature post, Shelf Contol! Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies.  It is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

Shelf Control, for me, is about looking in more detail about the books I have added to the TBR and listed as keepers in my Down the TBR Hole posts. I get the chance to talk about why I want to keep them in more detail and it acts as a second sweep for anything that I may have changed my mind about. I won’t necessarily own all the books (yet), but I will have a reasonable number of them.

It’s week three, so let’s look at the next book on the TBR! I added today’s featured book back in January 2015 – over four years ago still. I’m seriously going to have to work on this backlog…

 

City of Stairs (The Divine Cities #1) – Robert Jackson Bennett

 

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions — until its divine protectors were killed. Now, Bulikov’s history has been censored and erased, its citizens subjugated. But the surreal landscape of the city itself, forever altered by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it, stands as a haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched — along with her terrifying “secretary”, Sigrud — to solve a murder.

But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem, and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over.

A tale of vast conspiracies, dead gods, and buried histories, City of Stairs is at once a gripping spy novel and a stunningly original work of fantasy.

 

My Thoughts…

So, I’m still sticking to my fantasy routes with this particular book. I have a lot of fantasy books at the beginning of my TBR. That was all I used to read. I am far more genre diverse now, thanks to my blog more than anything. Fantasy will always be my greatest love though.

There is huge potential for a lot of world-building in this novel. Clearly, the world and society are very unlike our own. Reading is a form of escapism for me. If I don’t feel like there is enough detail or I don’t understand the fictional world I am delving into, I don’t enjoy it. Sounds geeky, I know. How successfully an author can put together a fictional world is a huge part of whether I enjoy a book.

What makes City of Stairs stand out is the spy and mystery element of the story. In addition to fantasy I also really enjoy novels with a mystery to be solved within them. This genre crossover isn’t something I see every day, so I can’t wait to see how it all pans out.

Have you read City of Stairs or any other books in the series? What did you make of it?

 

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Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Scouse Gothic – Ian McKinney

Good morning everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely day. I am really excited to be taking part in the blog tour by reviewing Scouse Gothic by Ian McKinney! The tour has been organised by the lovely Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources.

As always, my reviews are completely honest and the views expressed within are entirely my own.

Once you have checked out my review, don’t forget to check out the details of a UK only giveaway being run by the author!

 

Scouse Gothic (Book 1) ‘The Pool of Life..and Death’

Melville wakes with a pounding headache – there had been too many hangovers recently, but this felt different. What had he been drinking last night? Then he remembered – it was blood.

Enter the bizarre world of Scouse Gothic where a reluctant vampire mourns a lost love and his past lives, where a retired ‘hitman’ plans one more killing and dreams of food, and a mother sets out to avenge her son’s murder, and , meanwhile, a grieving husband is visited by an angry angel.

Set in present day Liverpool, vampires and mortals co-exist, unaware of each other’s secrets and that their past and present are inextricably linked.

But as their lives converge, who will be expected to atone for past sins?

 

Purchase Links –   Amazon UK      Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

The contemporary setting of Scouse Gothic isn’t the sort of thing I would typically pick up; however, I really enjoyed the book because it made a change to my usual reading habits. Liverpool is a common haunt for us Manxies escaping the rock for a day or two. It’s a fabulous city to explore, whether you are looking for shopping or cultural history. In Scouse Gothic, we get to explore plenty of the latter.

Melville, a vampire currently living in Liverpool gives us a lot of insight into the city’s earlier days though reminiscing on his earlier life. Throughout the book, he frequently compares and contrasts the city’s developments throughout time, particularly since the bombing blitz in World War II.

There are a number of different characters in Scouse Gothic; the contrasts between them add a lot of humour to the tale. Melville is quite a serious character, at least in terms of himself. Sheryl couldn’t be more different. Made up as any Liverpool bird could be, she is as large as life and full of personality. Not what you would expect of a vampire at all. The clash of expectation vs reality… the fact that she doesn’t truly fit in with the gothic style of the novel makes her a standout and highly amusing character.

The narrative touches on a number of people’s individual stories, seemingly unlinked at first. A degree of each of their back story is introduced to us in conjunction with the main storyline, so as not to overwhelm the reader. Gradually, as events unfold, they each find themselves pulled together to an epic, high tension conclusion.

 

Author Bio

Ian was born and bred in Liverpool but left for university in the 1980’s when the city appeared to be in a terminal decline. After qualifying he worked in London and Essex before finally settling in Shropshire with his wife and daughter.

However a set of circumstances meant that he returned to live in the city once more. What he found was a modern vibrant city. The derelict buildings from his youth had been restored and repurposed. A dock was now a tourist attraction, a church was now a night club, a gaol now a hotel.

It was then that he had the idea for Melville a vampire who had known the city in its prime and had now returned to it. Initially the story of Melville was written as a short story, but the more Ian explored the city the more he realised there were many more tales to tell than just Melville’s. That was when the idea for Scouse Gothic was born.

The first book ‘A Pool of Life ..and Death’, was very well received and has now been followed by a further two books. Ian continues to spend his time between Liverpool and Shropshire and is currently working on two further projects.

Social Media Links

Twitter: Ian McKinney @scousegothic

Facebook: Ian McKinney @scousegothic

 

 

Giveaway to Win 2 x Scouse Gothic Mugs (UK Only)

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

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494256/

 

Best of luck!

 

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down the tbr hole

Down the TBR Hole #23

Hi guys! It’s time for another review of the TBR in todays Down the TBR Hole post! Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story. The idea is to review the books on your TBR to decide if you still want to read them. The rules are as follows: –

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Today I’ll be checking out the next ten books on the list – are you ready?

 

The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

Goodreads – The Great Gatsby

THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story is of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his new love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.

 

I really enjoyed learning about the history of America at school, in particular the 1920’s and 1930’s. The Great Gatsby is a classic novel too, and I really want to read more of them (you’ll see this is a theme in this Down the TBR Hole post). This is definitely staying on the list!

Verdict: Keep

 

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

Goodreads – The Diary of a Young Girl

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has become a world classic-a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.

In 1942, with the Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, the Franks and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and surprisingly humorous, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

 

Anyone who reads my blog will know that I am a huge fan of anything historical. I tend to read more historical fiction if anything. Again, this is another one of those popular classics and I have to read it. It will be far more harrowing than any fiction novel because I know it was real. I’m sure I’ll cry – is any other reaction appropriate?

Verdict: Keep

 

A Land of Shades – Charles Lyte

Goodreads – A-Land of Shades

August, 1914. The Germans have occupied Louvain in Belgium.

Among the refugees fleeing the city is Julian Hydon, a young Jesuit priest. But when he witnesses the brutal roadside killing of a scholastic, Eugene Dupierreux, Hydon determines to join the war as an Army Chaplain. But his sense of mission turns to disillusion, doubt and anger after spending time with a boy named Andy West who suffers the fate of a court martial.

Bent on experiencing the pleasure of a woman and becoming a ‘man’ before he dies, Andy warns Hydon he is about to sin and seeks absolution. Hydon is uncertain how to counsel the boy and feels his own faith slipping. But when the boy is found guilty of desertion, Hydon must accompany him to his execution.

Outraged and struck by the futility of the war, Hydon publicly criticises the sentence, entangles himself with the deserter’s girlfriend, and is rejected by the Army and the Church. Banished to England, Hydon wanders purposely from mission to mission. He is posted first at a hospital for the wounded near his home and then at Pentonville prison, resigned to comforting the souls of the damned. But something is missing. Hydon feels useless and wants to be back on the frontline, aiding the war effort.

Being handed a white feather on the train by a self-righteous lady on the train is the last straw. Isolated Hydon seeks redemption in anonymity and battle for one last time.

‘A Land of Shades’ is an unusual and gripping story of the Great War as told by a young Jesuit priest who struggles to retain his faith in the face of brutality and violence.

 

Historical fiction is another theme to this TBR. I must have been going through a phase at the time I added these books to the list! I knew that this book was my cup of tea when I saw it, so I already have the e-book ready and waiting for me. It’s a small part of our world history, but one I enjoy reading all the same.

Verdict: Keep

 

Tricks of the Trade – Euan B Pollock

Goodreads – Tricks of the Trade

Stewart Scott is a first year trainee in one of Edinburgh’s oldest law firms.

Out of his depth, he is constantly working just to stay in the game and match the talents of the other first year trainees. But a chance to shine comes Stewart’s way when he is given the opportunity to partake in an investigation.

A client of the firm has recently died. The deceased, Major Robertson, left a substantial estate, and the terms of his will stipulate that his considerable wealth will go to his family – unless the Major died by suicide, whereupon his estate will be donated to a charity. And the conclusion, thus far, has been suicide.

Heading up the investigation into the Major’s death is Sebastian Dakar, practicing Zen master and the most unlikely detective that Stewart could imagine. But upon their arrival at the Major’s family home, Stewart begins to realise that perhaps the case of the Major isn’t as cut and dried as first thought.

 

Occasionally I like to take a break from my usual reads, and this short and snappy legal-based novel will be a great way of doing just that! I won a copy of this book in a competition/giveaway run on Instagram by the author last year. It’s currently sat on my bookshelf in the hall. Next time I need a quick read, I could always pick this up. I really enjoyed the short stories I read last month.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm – Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Goodreads – The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

When Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published their Children’s and Household Tales in 1812, followed by a second volume in 1815, they had no idea that such stories as “Rapunzel,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Cinderella” would become the most celebrated in the world. Yet few people today are familiar with the majority of tales from the two early volumes, since in the next four decades the Grimms would publish six other editions, each extensively revised in content and style. For the very first time, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm makes available in English all 156 stories from the 1812 and 1815 editions. These narrative gems, newly translated and brought together in one beautiful book, are accompanied by sumptuous new illustrations from award-winning artist Andrea Dezso.

From “The Frog King” to “The Golden Key,” wondrous worlds unfold–heroes and heroines are rewarded, weaker animals triumph over the strong, and simple bumpkins prove themselves not so simple after all. Esteemed fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes offers accessible translations that retain the spare description and engaging storytelling style of the originals. Indeed, this is what makes the tales from the 1812 and 1815 editions unique–they reflect diverse voices, rooted in oral traditions, that are absent from the Grimms’ later, more embellished collections of tales. Zipes’s introduction gives important historical context, and the book includes the Grimms’ prefaces and notes.

A delight to read, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm presents these peerless stories to a whole new generation of readers.

 

When I received a copy of this for my birthday (on request), a few people were a little bemused as to why I would want it. Yes, okay, it’s children’s stories, but not the ones we know and love today. These are the originals written over 200 years ago before they were revised and adapted. They include parts that never made it to the popular children’s tales we tell now. This particular edition also touches on the historical influences in some of the stories.

Verdict: Keep

 

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

Goodreads – Rebecca

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

 

I tried to read this years ago when I borrowed it (for what I hope are obvious reasons?). I struggled then and if I’m honest, I’ll think I’ll struggle again. It’s not really my thing. Yes, it has elements of genres I enjoy, like horror, but the romance puts me off. It’s a classic and I added it to the TBR for that reason. I don’t want to force myself to read books I don’t think I’ll enjoy though.

Verdict: Go

 

Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Goodreads – Don Quixote

Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances, that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote’s fancy often leads him astray – he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants – Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers’ imaginations for nearly four hundred years.

With its experimental form and literary playfulness, Don Quixote generally has been recognized as the first modern novel. The book has had enormous influence on a host of writers, from Fielding and Sterne to Flaubert, Dickens, Melville, and Faulkner, who reread it once a year, “just as some people read the Bible.”

 

And again, we have a work of classical fiction. I am relatively sure I added it to the list having read a fellow bloggers review of it. In hindsight though, I don’t think this is my cup of tea either.

Verdict: Go

 

Crimes Against Magic – Steve McHugh

Goodreads – Crimes Against Magic

It’s been almost ten years since Nathan Garrett woke on a cold warehouse floor with nothing but a gun, a sword, and no idea of who he was or how he got there. His only clue … a piece of paper with his name on it. Since then, he’s discovered he’s a powerful sorcerer and has used his abilities to work as a thief for hire. But he’s never stopped hunting for his true identity, and those who erased his memory have never stopped hunting for him. When the barrier holding his past captive begins to crumble, Nathan swears to protect a young girl who is key to his enemy’s plans. But with his enemies closing in, and everyone he cares about becoming a target for their wrath, Nathan is forced to choose between the life he’s built for himself and the one buried deep inside him.

Crimes Against Magic is an Urban Fantasy set in modern-day London with Historical flashbacks to early fifteenth-century France. It’s book one of the Hellequin Chronicles, a series about Nathan (Nate) Garrett, a centuries-old sorcerer.

 

Whilst I like fantasy novels, I always approach Urban Fantasy with a degree of scepticism.

I read fantasy novels as a means of escapism. Having the modern-day setting to these novels makes it a little harder for me to achieve that. It might sound completely daft to you, but there you have it. I’m not 100% sure about this one, so I’ll take it off the list.

Verdict: Go

 

Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Goodreads – Crime and Punishment

‘Crime? What crime?…My killing a loathsome, harmful louse, a filthy old moneylender woman…and you call that a crime?’

Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption.

This vivid translation by David McDuff has been acclaimed as the most accessible version of Dostoyevsky’s great novel, rendering its dialogue with a unique force and naturalism.

 

This is a classic that is definitely staying on my list! It’s one of the first (and few) I bought as a reward for meeting a monthly savings goal – the larger goal being a deposit for my (now recently purchased) new car! I set myself a tough target so there are only a couple of months that I managed to not dip into the savings. I bought this because the synopsis is interesting… and it’s a classic. I’m trying to read more of those.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Rainmaker – John Grisham

Goodreads – The Rainmaker

John Grisham’s five novels — A Time To Kill, The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, and The Chamber — have been number one best-sellers, and have a combined total of 47 million copies in print. Now, inThe Rainmaker, Grisham returns to the courtroom for the first time since A Time To Kill, and weaves a riveting tale of legal intrigue and corporate greed. Combining suspense, narrative momentum, and humor as only John Grisham can, this is another spellbinding read from the most popular author of our time.

Grisham’s sixth spellbinding novel of legal intrigue and corporate greed displays all of the intricate plotting, fast-paced action, humor, and suspense that have made him the most popular author of our time. In his first courtroom thriller since A Time To Kill, John Grisham tells the story of a young man barely out of law school who finds himself taking on one of the most powerful, corrupt, and ruthless companies in America — and exposing a complex, multibillion-dollar insurance scam. In his final semester of law school Rudy Baylor is required to provide free legal advice to a group of senior citizens, and it is there that he meets his first “clients,” Dot and Buddy Black. Their son, Donny Ray, is dying of leukemia, and their insurance company has flatly refused to pay for his medical treatments. While Rudy is at first skeptical, he soon realizes that the Blacks really have been shockingly mistreated by the huge company, and that he just may have stumbled upon one of the largest insurance frauds anyone’s ever seen — and one of the most lucrative and important cases in the history of civil litigation. The problem is, Rudy’s flat broke, has no job, hasn’t even passed the bar, and is about to go head-to-head with one of the best defense attorneys — and powerful industries — in America.

 

I am yet to read any of John Grisham’s novels, but I have heard a lot of good things about his writing. I know work colleagues that regularly read his books, so I definitely want to give them a go. Also, do I want to watch how one man challenges a huge corporation and cross my fingers that he gives it to them good? Yes, yes I do.

Verdict: Keep

Once again that’s three out of ten books that I have dropped from the list. At least I know I have a reasonable idea of what I like to read and I’m not *too* impulsive when it comes to adding books to the TBR. Okay, that’s a complete lie!

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my choices?

As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

 

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Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 21st July 2019

This week’s Sunday Summary post promises to be far more chilled out than last week! I’m back to my manageable three posts per week schedule, and damn it feels good! I’ve also had the luxury of a few days ‘break’, which has been refreshing. In aid of mum’s birthday on Friday, my sister has been over for the weekend. We’ve had a lovely few days to spend together as a family. The timing has been fortunate as my sister has also been able to wish our aunt a happy birthday in person today too! So, for the second time this week I’m sending out birthday wishes here on my blog, this time to my aunt!

So, what have I been up to this week? Aside from picking up the office cold and spending the weekend with my family, things have been pretty run-of-the-mill. I’m back on my usual posting schedule which takes a lot of pressure off. On Tuesday I posted a review of A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin. It was tough (for reasons I explain in that post), but let’s be honest… I could talk about A Game of Thrones until your ears fell off. On Friday I published my scheduled First Lines Friday post. This week’s featured book is by an author that I love for a completely different historical fiction series he has written.

 

Books Read

Birth of the Mortokai was the first book I picked up this week. I had read a third of the book at the time of writing last week’s Sunday Summary post; it didn’t take too long to finish. By that, I mean I finished it on Monday.

From there I started reading A Dance with Dragons pt 1: Dreams and Dust. This is what I have been reading for the rest of the week. Since I have had a few other bits on, I’m around 180 pages through with it at the moment. I’ll be picking this up again before bed tonight and I’m hoping to finish this next week. Under normal circumstances, this would be a little ambitious. I have the week off work though, so I’m sure this is achievable!

For the first time in weeks, I have started listening to another audiobook. I was torn between a couple I have waiting to be listened to, however, I decided to venture into unknown waters. I’ve began listening to Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke. This isn’t too long a tale; I’m already around 40% through and it’ll take another four hours to finish. Despite being off work I reckon I can get at least another two hours down by next week.

 

Books Discovered

I have been reasonably good this week. Strictly speaking, I haven’t added any new books to the TBR or bought any. I have entered a competition to win an ARC copy of Stephen Chbosky’s new novel Imaginary Friend today. I’ll let you know if I manage to get my hands on a copy!

 

Coming Up…

In light of the fact that I am off work next week, I’ve decided I’ll be ambitious and try to write four blog posts next week. It’s busy, but not a mad schedule.

I’m going to kick off the week by taking another look at the lengthy TBR. It’s been a while since my last Down the TBR Hole post. I’m past overdue checking out the next ten books on the list and deciding whether they should stay or go… so that’s what I’ll do!

I’m really looking forward to taking part in the blog tour of Scouse Gothic by Ian KcKinney on Thursday. The novel is completely different to anything I have read before. I can’t wait to share my full thoughts on the book in Thursday’s post.

Friday’s regular feature flits back to Shelf Control. I started this series by going right back to the beginning of my TBR. Shelf Control differs from Down the TBR Hole as instead of a large scale, general look at the books on the list, I’ll be picking on one and going into more detail about why it’s on the list.

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

As always in this section of the post, I like to share some blog posts I have really enjoyed reading by sharing the links with you all. I hope there is something here that you will enjoy reading too: –

 

Her Paper World – Treating My Shelf: My Most Recent Bookmail

Golden Books Girl – The 30 Interesting Questions Tag

Book Bosomed Blonde – Best Books of the Year (so far)

So, what have you been reading or writing this week? Feel free to drop me a comment below!

 

 

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First Lines Friday – 19/07/2019

Not only is today one of the best days of the week because it’s Friday – it’s also my mum’s birthday! Not only that, but my sister has come to the visit and celebrate with us for the weekend! I’m really looking forward to spending the time together with them – it’s not very often we are all together nowadays.

So, if you are reading this, Happy Birthday Mum! You really are one in a million!

 

I’m back again with my new regular fortnightly feature – First Lines Friday. I’ve seen this post on many a blog and I think it’s a fun way to try something new, without the bias of a front cover or knowledge of the book before you try it!

So, shall we get on with today’s post? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book!

 

 

 

 

I died just after the clock in the passageway struck nine.

There are those who claim that Her Majesty, Elizabeth, by the grace of God, Queen of England, France and of Ireland, will not allow clocks to strike the hour in her palaces. Time is not allowed to pass for her. She has defeated time. But that clock struck. I remember it.

I counted nine bells. Nine. Then my killer stuck.

And I died.

 

My brother says there is only one way to tell a story. ‘Begin,’ he says in his irritatingly pedantic manner, ‘at the beginning. Where else?’

I see I have started a little too late, so we shall go back to five minutes before nine, and begin again.

 

 

The main influence behind this book purchase is the author. I have read, adored and reviewed a few of his other historical fiction works. What sets this book apart from his other series I am reading is that it is a completely different period of history. Set in Elizabethan England, it’s a far cry from the blood and battles of the Viking era.
Have you any inkling what today’s book is?

 

Fools and Mortals – Bernard Cornwell

 

A dramatic new departure for international bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, FOOLS AND MORTALS takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history.

Fools and Mortals follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry – and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory – propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal.

Showcasing his renowned storyteller’s skill, Bernard Cornwell has created an Elizabethan world incredibly rich in its portrayal: you walk the London streets, stand in the palaces and are on stage in the playhouses, as he weaves a remarkable story in which performances, rivalries and ambition combine to form a tangled web of intrigue.

What do you think of the introduction to Fools and Mortals? Doesn’t it suck you in and make you want to read on? If I didn’t have such a busy TBR I would be so tempted!

Have you read the book or added it your TBR? As always, I would love to hear from you!!

 

 

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Book Review Banner

Book Review: A Storm of Swords – George R. R. Martin

Reviewing George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is hard.

That might sound really daft. I’ve written more than my fair share of book reviews in my lifetime and I can assure you that I am, by nature, a very opinionated person. I guess what it comes down to is perspective. These books are hugely popular, and thanks to the TV series they have gained even more of a following. I doubt there is anything I can write here that you do not know about it already.

That isn’t really the point though. My blog is a place for me to explore my opinions. They may not make a shred of difference to your opinion of the books/series, (especially for such a series as this) but I have to show my appreciation somehow!

Before reading on, you can check out my reviews for A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings using these links. If you wish. Pretty please?

 

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…

 

My Thoughts…

Some of my favourite events of the book series (so far) happen in A Storm of Swords. Weddings are less of a celebration and more of a curse. King’s Landing is reeling from the recent Battle of the Blackwater and their plans for their allegiance go… awry, to put it mildly!

In A Storm of Swords we say goodbye to two Kings in Westeros – one far more reluctantly than the other! The first time I read this book, I had a tantrum after the Red Wedding. I couldn’t pick the book up for a couple of days whilst I sulked. Turns out things weren’t QUITE as bad as you are initially led to believe. Screenrant classifies the TV episode “The Rains of Castamere”, the episode in which The Red Wedding plays out, as the “most shocking” and “peak moment” of the series. It’s clear it had a profound effect on a lot of people – not just me.

Looking north, Jon Snow is in the thick of it too. Surrounded by enemies, he is spying amongst the Wildlings to discover their secrets and then head back to the Wall. Many are mistrustful of his deflection to the Wildlings and he is treated with suspicion by many.

To the east, Daenerys is coming into her own. She is conquering the corrupt cities of Essos and fighting the losing battle of abolishing slavery. Her ambition has always been to make it to Westeros to reclaim the family throne. Her decision to stay and rule to protect the people in the east is very mature of her. It’s one of her defining moments, in my opinion.

As always, George R R Martin manages to balance the narrative and events to keep us hanging on for the next chapter. Even though there are a number of character perspectives contributing to narrating the tale (10-12), the gaps between each perspective aren’t so long that their part of the story is forgotten.

The depth of the history in his fantasy world and the number of characters (and their families) the chronicle contains is phenomenal. How George R R Martin can keep track and ensure everything is consistent baffles me.

A Song of Ice and Fire is an iconic series that I think will live up there with the greats. It’s my unrivalled favourite fantasy series and I have no doubt that shows in my review!

Have you read A Storm of Swords or watched the TV series? What do you make of the events in this book?

 

 

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Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 14th July 2019

The last time I managed to write five blog posts in one week, I swore it would be a long time before I took on such a busy schedule again. That was only five weeks ago – but here we are! To recap for anyone that hasn’t seen those posts yet, here is a summary of my week:-

As it’s the second week of July, I thought it would be a great opportunity to reflect on the last six months with a Mid Year Book Freak Out tag on Monday. It was loads of fun to write. As well as looking back to the beginning of the year, there are also a couple of questions geared around my reading goals for the latter half of 2019.

On Tuesday I published my review for a YA fantasy novel I loved recently. Empress of All Seasons was kindly sent to me for review by Gollancz. Even though I wouldn’t identify as a YA reader, this book was enjoyable for a number of reasons. One such I touch upon in my review is that I really enjoyed the Japanese culture throughout the book – a huge change from the medieval European setting many fantasy worlds are built upon.

I didn’t even announce Thursday’s post. I took part in a cover reveal for Jo Baxter’s Viola Pumpernickel and the Emerald Lady. It’s a middle-grade children’s book that I think I would have really enjoyed when I was growing up, so I was glad to take part and lend my support by sharing the new cover.

Lastly, I published my second Shelf Control post on Friday. I this week’s edition, I look back at my decisions for adding Steven Erikson’s fantasy novel Gardens of the Moon to my reading list.

 

Books Read

This week has felt rewarding. Not only have I managed to churn out an unnatural number of posts, I’ve also finished a couple of really good books!

I have been reading The War Within for a few weeks now. At around 570 pages, this is no mean feat. The War Within is so much more than its predecessor Seventh Decimate. Events are on a far grander scale, and the novel follows on a number of years after those in the first book. The narrative had a lot of ground to cover to bridge the gap between the two books. As a result, it wasn’t as easy to read for that. I still really enjoyed the book, but the intensity of the first half made it very time consuming to pick up and digest before continuing.

I don’t like taking so long to read books like that. It’s silly – I shouldn’t put such pressure on myself. I am way ahead of my reading goal, but I like to get through books in days, not weeks. I get a little frustrated if reading a book takes more time than I think it should. I’m daft, I know, but it’s the honest truth.

My reading picked up significantly afterwards though, as I picked up and read Scouse Gothic by Ian McKinney in less than two days. Yes, you read that right! It’s only quite a short book by comparison (around 200 pages). Picking up a contemporary novel laced with humour helped relieve my frustration.

My current read is another fantasy novel. I have quite a few on the list this month, so I am interspersing other genres in between them. I started reading Birth of the Mortokai yesterday. Even though I haven’t made any progress on it today (I spend every Sunday afternoon with my family), I’m still a third of the way through the book. I’m hoping to get to around half-way by the end of the night and wrap this up in the next couple of days. I feel like I have some time to make up, as I have a few longer books to read later in the month.

 

Books Discovered

I have been REALLY good this week! Not only did I swerve every bookshop, but I also haven’t even added anything to the TBR! I’m quite surprised with myself actually!

 

Coming Up…

Next week is definitely not going to be as manic! I deserve a break – haha!

There’s no rest for the wicked though! I have a few book reviews stacking up, so I’d like to tackle one of those. This week, I would like to share my thoughts on A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin. Prepare for a long and gushy review… I think you all know my love for George R. R. Martin’s books by now.

My regular Friday feature flips back to First Lines Friday later next week, so I’ll be sharing the first few lines of a book on my TBR. Let’s see if you can guess what it is!

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

I hope it is apparent from the list below that I have spent a lot more time blog hopping this week. I’ve been cursing this flaw I have for quite some time, so I’m making a conscious effort to do more about it. I’ve checked out a few blogs before work, during my lunch hour and before bed – any spare minute I’ve had really. I hope the effort shows. It’s paid off for me as I’ve discovered a few new bloggers to follow.

Here are some of the posts I have loved reading this week: –

CescaLizzieReads – Blogtour Book Review The Whisper Man

Not Another Book Blogger – Mini-Review: The Taking of Annie Thorne

Dees Reading Tree – 20 Questions Book Tag

Literature and Sunshine – Thank You, Next Book Tag

Kristin Kraves Books – Book Bucket List Tag

The Book Dutchesses – Bookish Item – 2019 Reading Goals Update Part 2

Bookidote – Book Review Crowfall

So, what have you been reading or writing this week? Feel free to drop me a comment below!

 

 

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Shelf Control #2 – 12/07/2019

Welcome back to my new regular feature post, Shelf Contol!

You may remember the purpose of this post from my outline a couple of weeks ago. If not, here’s a summary. Shelf Control is run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly (or in my case, fortnightly) celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

Shelf Control, for me, is about looking in more detail about the books I have added to the TBR and listed as keepers in my Down the TBR Hole posts. I get the chance to talk about why I want to keep them in more detail and it acts as a second sweep for anything that I may have changed my mind about. I don’t necessarily own all the books (yet), but I will have a reasonable number of them.

It’s week two, so let’s look at the second book on the TBR! This also dates back to December 2014. Perhaps it’s a little overdue?

 

Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen #1) – Steven Erikson

 

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts…

There is a definite theme when it comes to my older book choices. They are all in the fantasy genre! As a teenager, that was pretty much all I would read, with a couple of exceptions. It’s still my favourite genre now, although I definitely need to intersperse my reading with other genres to keep things fresh.

Gardens of the Moon has really mixed reviews on Goodreads. People either seem to love it or not get on with it at all. Sometimes that can sway my opinion, but I am not going to let it with this one. I think the synopsis sounds really interesting. Not only that, but reviews of the later books in the series get a lot better! I gather it is a little confusing to start – it might just be a case of persevering until the pieces start to fit together.

I was confident that I wanted to give this book a try, so I have the ebook sat on my kindle waiting for me to pull my finger out and pick it up!

Have you read Gardens of the Moon or any other books in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series? What did you think?

 

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