Author: fantasyst95

Sunday Summary – 19th May 2024

Good evening and welcome to my Sunday Summary catch-up post. It’s good to see you here! I hope you’ve had a good week?

Weather-wise it’s been a pretty good one and I was out making the most of it yesterday. It’s weird to think there are parts of the Island I live on that I’ve not really been to before. Well, there’s one less now!

There is only one other post I’ve shared with you so far this week and that was my review of Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb. This is the second book in the Farseer trilogy and a great sequel to Assassin’s Apprentice. If you haven’t checked out that review already or are interested in the series in general, I recommend checking that out. I’ve even made it easy for you…

 

Books Read

 

Empire of the Damned

I started off this week already 185 pages into Empire of the Damned. As of this week’s Sunday Summary, I can share that I’ve picked the book up further and I am now 318 pages in, or 48%.

More recently, I do most of my reading during my lunch hour at work. Reading and eating at the same time is fine if you have a sandwich, but this week I decided to be good and make salads. Reading a chunky hardback book is a lot more difficult to do at the same time. I also went out on an organised walk on Wednesday lunchtime with colleagues.

Consequently, reading progress was affected by less time spent reading. That’s not any reflection on the book. I absolutely love this second book and how it’s deviated from the first. It feels like a much more rounded narrative and I am at decisive point in the story. I can’t wait to see what happens next. The good news is that once this post goes live tonight, I’ll have time to dive back in!

 

Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes

Over the course of this week I have listened to the first 1 1/2 hours of Terry Pratchett’s biography, A Life With Footnotes.

As a big fan of Terry Pratchett’s writing, reading his biography has been on my radar for some time. Given that I get on great with non-fiction in audio format, this was a no-brainer. I love that the audio is also narrated by the author, Rob Wilkins. Rob was Terry‘s personal assistant and has very intimate knowledge of his career and personal life. This reflects in the narrative already and I can’t wait to hear more about Terry as I progress through the audio.

 

Books Discovered

Whilst my bank account will be happy that I haven’t made any purchases this week, I have added one book to my reading list. The Chaos Machine by Max Fisher is a non-fiction about how social media has affected our brains and society. From the sample I read, it sounds very investigative and factual as opposed to radical. I’ve watched documentaries on the same topic before (The Social Dilemma on Netflix is a goos example) and really enjoyed them. With this in mind, I want to give the book a go!

 

Coming Up…

Keeping a two-post schedule is suiting me at the moment, so I’m sticking to it next week. My midweek post will go live on Tuesday as I like the topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday instalment – Author’s I’d Love a New Book From.

I’ll then take a few days off before sharing a Sunday Summary next weekend. With any luck I’ll have more reading progress to share with you… hopefully I can finish if I push myself a little 😊

What are you reading at the moment?

 

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Book Review: Royal Assassin – Robin Hobb

I discovered Robin Hobb after numerous recommendations by my friend Rachael. I’d given Assassin’s Apprentice an informal try a couple of times on my phone but never started reading it seriously until June 2022. Then, I was hooked!

Since then I’ve read 6 of the 16 books that make up the wider Realm of the Elderlings series and I’ll soon pick up the 7th. I’m especially looking forward to that book as we revisit the characters from the first trilogy that I feature in this review.

In today’s book review, I’m going back to the second book of the series and to the trials and tribulations of FitzChivalry Farseer in his relatively new and turbulent place at the royal court.

Shall we get to it?

 

Royal Assassin – Robin Hobb

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 648

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 01 April 1996

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads –  Royal Assassin

Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.

Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

In Royal Assassin we are once again thrown into the political intrigues of the royal court. Whilst Verity is determined to do all he can to save those in the Duchy from raiders, Regal schemes to better his position and influence.

Fitz is wise to his scheming and the threat he poses but has little influence in protecting those Regal would gladly step on in his quest for power. That doesn’t necessarily stop him, however. With those he loves at court, Fitz will intervene to try and protect his newest and dearest. That’s his nature after all.

I loved the angle of the plot progression from book one. Already Assassin’s Apprentice set out a world from which a complex and well developed plot could emerge. In Royal Assassin, Robin Hobb builds on that exponentially.

 

Setting

I enjoyed returning to the familiar surrounds of Buck and Buckkeep. Whilst we do have the opportunity to roam a little further through Verity and the shared histories and geography interspersed in the narrative, we do so from this safe and well trodden ground.

For someone who has no interest in politics in real life, it is an aspect I really enjoy in novels. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. In this second instalment, we really get into familial dynamics and political relations. It’s a fun aspect of the narrative to explore in a world in which there is far more going on, yet still takes centre stage.

 

Characters

I love the characters in this first series, but particularly the main character. We find ourselves investing in Fitz having spent all the first book watching him grow from a boy to a young man in an environment where he isn’t exactly the safest. That doesn’t change in this book either…

One of my favourite things about Robin Hobb’s writing is that you are never quite sure what will happen to your favourite characters. She isn’t exactly known for being the kindest, and so we remain in constant tension as to where the story will progress and what will happen to those within.

Events in the second book of the series don’t exactly treat anyone kindly, but especially Fitz. That said, executed very well and I really enjoyed his story arc in this novel.

But of course, he is not the only character. We have already come to identify a lot of the other main players as a result of the first book in series, Assassin‘s Apprentice. This book really builds upon that first one, but at the same time we get to see different facets and more complex storylines allowing characters to develop and win a place in our hearts.

 

Narrative Style

I wouldn’t describe Robin Hobb books to you as fast reads. On the contrary, I find them very slow burn, but interesting and detailed.

Some books I can read quite quickly even when they have more complex storylines. That’s not the case with Robin, but I don’t take that as a detractor. On the contrary, they are books to take your time over and really think into the detail and characters with. Royal Assassin is much the same. There is a lot going on in this book and over the 600 odd pages of the narrative, we get to explore a lot of different relationships, events and set the scene for the wider world in general.

 

Summary

If you read Assassin’s Apprentice and are looking for an equally promising, detailed and fun political fantasy to sink your teeth into… you’ve got the right book! If you haven’t read Assassin’s Apprentice yet, well, what are you waiting for?

The Realm of the Elderlings is a fantastic world to dive into, so why wait?

 

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Sunday Summary – 12th May 2024

Hello fellow readers and welcome to this week’s instalment of my Sunday Summary weekly update.

Broadly, things have been back to normal scheduling this week. I’ve shared two posts with you so far, and here’s a recap of what they were in case you missed them!

The first of those was my Monthly TBR for May. I’ve done my usual and set myself an ambitious list. However, although some of the books are longer in length, their format means they are going to be very quick to read. At least, that’s what I’m hoping. Based on previous experience, that’s what I expect. If you haven’t seen that list yet, here’s a link so you can go and check it out.

My next post was a return of my Friday feature, Shelf Control. In this week’s post I feature a mammoth anthology made up of big name writers that I want to pick up and try. Admittedly, I’ll probably have to read it in bits as it’s over 1000 pages long! Have you heard of this one? Does it sound like something you want to read? Go and check out that post to find out.

 

Books Read


Empire of the Vampire

I left off in last week’s Sunday Summary post with just 80 pages left of Empire of the Vampire. With the motivation to not still be reading the book when I published my May TBR, I sped through these last few pages quite quickly!

I enjoyed Empire of the Vampire the second time round as much as I thought I would!

I also got to appreciate my special edition copy by picking it up again, so it was a win-win situation. This got me up to speed with events of the first book again, so I am able to pick up the sequel. You’ll see more on that below!

I love the narrative style employed in these books as we flip between a present day Gabriel looking back and recounting his story. I love the snippets of hindsight, but also start contrast of attitude and experience the character has versus his younger self. It’s a narrative style I will come back to again and again!


The Icepick Surgeon

Another intended quick finish to talk about in this Sunday Summary is my listen of The Icepick Surgeon by Sam Kean. As of my last update post, I had just about an hour left of this audiobook to get to completion.

The Icepick Surgeon is a great read or listen for anyone who likes to explore ethics and morality around science practice throughout the ages. This book covers a wide array of periods, circumstances and individuals. From rumours of malpractice conducted by figures such as Cleopatra to modern day scientists facing backlash for their own malpractice, there’s a lot to explore here.

I learned plenty of things about the profession that I didn’t know before. Personally, I also enjoy looking at the morality side of things, so this book was perfect for me. I will also strongly recommend the audiobook as it was an engaging listen and very easy to follow.


Empire of the Damned

After publishing my May TBR, I had a bit of internal debate as to whether to read Empire of the Damned straight away. However, I ultimately reasoned that I’d read the first book in the series to catch up on events, and what better time to start reading then immediately afterwards?

Therefore, I’ve spent this week starting Empire of the Damned and as of this post, I am 185 pages in. I actually like that I’ve picked this up straight away. I’m familiar with characters and their motivations, but the story is also taken a bit of an unusual turn. Therefore it doesn’t feel to see me to what I read in the first book. I’m intrigued as to how events are going to pay out and the inevitable conflict that will take place. Hopefully I can make good progress with this book in the next week and have a bit more to tell you in that update.


F*ck No

After finishing The Icepick Surgeon, I moved on to listen to a book called F*ck No. If you are unfamiliar, it is a self-help guide to help overachievers, pushovers or anyone who struggles to say no, to adapt their mindset and ability to stand up for themselves.

As I’m sure you will expect from the title, this book is witty and entertaining as well as informative. I really like Sarah Knight’s style and I love that she narrates the audiobook herself. Stories are helpful in showing how the tips she shares can be put into practice

F*ck No is only a short audiobook and I just finished listening to it this morning whilst out gardening.

 

Books Discovered

It’s another quiet week in terms of acquisitions or books added to my reading list this week – there are none to share with you in this Sunday Summary!


Coming Up…

This week I plan to share a review of the second book in a series that I have come to love. Robin Hobb is fast becoming one of my favourite authors of all time. In this post, I will review the second book of the Farseer trilogy, Royal Assassin!

As always, I’ll be back with a Sunday Summary at the end of the week to catch you up on the books I’ve read, and I’ve picked up over the last week and to recap the content I’ve shared.

I hope you can check out any or all of these and until then, I’ll see you around!

Happy reading!

 

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Shelf Control #77 – 10/05/24

In today’s Shelf Control post, I feature an anthology that has to be the longest I will ever pick up! At over 1000 pages and with big names such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and H.P. Lovecraft, it promises lots of great narratives within.

Before I share details of this anthology, here’s a reminder of what the Shelf Control feature is all about!

Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a celebration of the unread books on our shelves! The idea is to pick a book you own but haven’t read and 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!

If you want to read more about the Shelf Control feature, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

 

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

Genre: Anthology

Pages: 1,153

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Corvus

Publication Date: 31 Oct 2011

 

Goodreads – The Weird


A landmark, eclectic, leviathan-sized anthology of fiction’s wilder, stranger, darker shores.

The Weird features an all star cast of authors, from classics to international bestsellers to prize winners:

Ben Okri

George R.R. Martin

Angela Carter

Kelly Link

Franz Kafka

China Miéville

Clive Barker

Haruki Murakami

M.R. James

Neil Gaiman

Mervyn Peake

Michael Chabon

Stephen King

Daphne Du Maurier

and more…

Exotic and esoteric, The Weird plunges you into dark domains and brings you face to face with surreal monstrosities; You will find the boldest and downright most peculiar stories from the last hundred years bound together in the biggest Weird collection ever assembled.


My Thoughts

Anthologies aren’t the types of books I pick up on a regular basis, but I do like to try them now and then. Sometimes having a short read can be the break needed from longer or heavier narratives. In my experience so far, anthologies have served me well in this regard.

However, I have also never read an anthology that is over 1000 pages long! It’s a huge collection. In reality, I may find it easier to read this anthology in short bursts over a long a stretch of time rather than as the whole book in itself. Especially given it a style I don’t pick up that often, I think reading it all in one go would be too much. At least it does have ties back to my favourite genre, fantasy, which will keep me coming back! 

The beauty of having a book compiled of shorter stories is that it will be easy to pick up and put down at will. Whenever I need a break from another book, I’ll be able to pick this up quickly! Equally, I’m able to break between stories back to my regular reading.

I’m looking forward to reading short stories from many of the names within, including even Neil Gaiman. Well, I’ve never had a great experience with his full length books, I think I can palette his writing style in shorter doses.

Have you read The Weird, or anything else like it?

 

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Monthly TBR – May 2024

Hello fellow readers and welcome to my Monthly TBR! In today’s post, I’ll be sharing the books I hope to pick up over the month of May. I’m looking forward to all these books too! Now that I don’t have any reading obligations ongoing, I have free rein on every single book I pick up this month, and in what order.

I have a newly released sequel, a last in series, a new fantasy series, a science-fiction collab and two non-fiction audiobooks to share with you.

Curious as to what I’m picking up this month? Let’s get into this monthly TBR so you can find out!

 

Mood Reads

 

Empire of the Damned

After some deliberation, I’ve decided to start immediately after finishing Empire of the Vampire by picking up the sequel.

I’ve been looking forward to this read for a long time. It is rare that I pre-order books ahead of publication. However, Empire of the Damned was an exception! Now I’m caught up and refreshed on events of the previous book, I’m going to dive straight into this sequel.

As of this post, I’m already 50 pages into the book and intrigued as to where events are going to take us. It’s not the kind of story I expected to play out based on biases of the characters established in book 1. However, there is promise for conflict and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in!

 

Master of Sorrows

I’ve been trying to get to Master of Sorrows for a few months now, and I’ve decided May is THE month. I have no other reading obligations, so it’s going to be the next book I pick up after Empire of the Damned. I’m perhaps a little ambitious picking up two longer physical reads this month, but I am nothing if not up for a challenge.

I originally drew this book out of my TBR Jar at the end of January, with the intention of picking up the book in February. Three months late is better than never, right?

 

The Long Earth

The Long Earth has been on my reading list since February 2018. It’s been on my radar to pick up anyway, but I just so happened to get a loan copy from our former CEO at work as he has just read the book himself. He’s also a fan of Terry Pratchett.

My experience so far of books co-authored by Terry Pratchett are not the best. However, that’s usually because of the other authors influence rather than Terry’s. I’m not going to let that put me off a new combination though. My dad is a fan of Stephen Baxter, so I want to try it from that perspective as well.

 

Obsidio

Although a slightly thicker book, my experience of the Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman so far is that they are very quick reads. Having read the first two books of the trilogy, I want to pick up Obsidio in May in order to mark the series as completed.

I also believe this book picks up both storylines from the earlier books and brings the characters from each storyline together. I have no idea how that’s going to work and whether there’s going to be any personality clashes, but I’m excited to see what happens!

 

Terry Pratchett: A Life with Footnotes

The first of my audiobook listens planned for this month is Terry Pratchett’s biography. If it wasn’t already clear I was a fan of his writing in picking up The Long Earth, the fact that I’ve read just under half of his 41 book Discworld series should leave no room for doubt.

I’ve watched a documentary about his life before and I’ve been fascinated by his life story. Now I want to hear that in his ‘own’ words as much as possible. This book isn’t an autobiography as Terry never got to complete it himself. Instead, his assistant Rob Wilkins picked up the mantle to finish it into the biography it is today.

 

F*ck No

The second and shorter audiobook I intend to pick up in May is called F*ck No by Sarah Knight. It’s a book that was recommended to me fairly recently and I’m interested in the content of the book. If I get on with it, then the author Sarah has an extensive collection of other self-help books that I would look to pick up as well.

I’ve already sampled and bought the audio as that’s a big make or break thing for me when picking up a book like that. If I can’t get on with the narrative style, then it’s a hard pass. However, I like what I’ve heard so far so I’m looking forward to listening to it in earnest!

 

Summary

As always, I don’t give myself much slack with my reading lists. However, I’m hopeful that I will get through the majority of this monthly TBR. Although some of the books are a little chunkier, some will be easier to read because of their format; mixed media and using audio when I can’t physically pick up a book are helpful to keep pace.

What are you planning to read?  Have you read any of the books on this monthly TBR? Do you have anything ongoing at the moment that you would recommend?

 

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Sunday Summary – 5th May 2024

Good evening and welcome to another Sunday Summary update post!

I’ve been a little hands off on the blog this week due to personal circumstances. I attended a funeral yesterday and I knew blogging towards the end of the week wasn’t feasible. I’ve also not read a lot since Friday (although I am listening to my current audiobook as I type).

The only post I’ve shared so far this week is my Monthly Wrap-Up for April. Although I’ve read fewer books, I was picking up some with a chunkier page count. Find out what I’ve been reading over the last month in that post.

Now, find out what I’ve been reading over the course of this week!

 

Books Read

 

Empire of the Vampire

Having gotten my reading obligations out of the way last week, I picked up Empire of the Vampire once again. I’ve done pretty well with progress too!

I started off the week at 384 pages into this book. For stats nerds, that’s a little over 50%. I’ve read exactly 250 pages this week, so I’m now on page 634. It’s been great to dedicate some time to this re-read once again. With the action ramping up, it’s been really easy to pick this up in my lunch hours and dive into the narrative. Less easy is convincing myself to go back to work afterwards… 

With just 80-odd pages until I’ve completed this book, I’m going to try my best to finish this (again) tonight! Wish me luck…

 

The Icepick Surgeon

Progress in my audiobook listen of The Icepick Surgeon is steady. In last week’s Sunday Summary post I shared that I’d listened to 5 hours of the audio. I’ve managed to do pretty much the same again this week.

I am loving listening to this book so far. It tackles very different topics of unethical behaviour and malpractice in science. I would strongly recommend this to anybody with any interest in the subject. It’s really easy to listen to and I find the content really engaging.

That means I only have just over an hour to go. I’m going to make an effort to finish this book very soon too! I confess as of drafting this post I’ve not even thought about books I’m going to read in May yet. It will be nice to tackle that list without having these two on it as carryovers.

 

Books Discovered

I’ve kept my head down this week so I have nothing new on the reading list to report to you  in this Sunday Summary update.

 

Coming Up…

The first post that will be making its way to you in the next few days is my reading list for May. As I’ve said above, I haven’t really put much thought into the books that are going on it yet. However, I have some freedom in that I have no obligations to factor in. I have plenty of books I have been looking to get to soon, so I suspect a few of those will end up there. Stay tuned to see which books I end up picking up!

There is every intention to go back to a usual blogging schedule this week. With this in mind, I’ll be back with another Friday feature – this time a Shelf Control post. If you are unfamiliar with this series, I take a look at books on my reading list and share why I’m excited to get to them. Hopefully, you can check that out later this week.

As always, I will be back at the same time next week with another Sunday Summary update post for you. I hope to be in a position where I’ve completed my ongoing reads as of this post and having started some of my May reads too.

Until then, I hope you have a fantastic week and I will see you in the next post! Happy reading!

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – April 2024

Good evening readers and welcome to my monthly wrap-up post for April! Somehow we’re a third of the way through the year already. Where has that gone?

April has been a good month. I’m still reading less than I did at the beginning of the year and I still have books I didn’t get to. However, I’ve read a number of great books over the month.

Shall we take a look?

 

Books Read

 

Empire of the Vampire

Empire of the Vampire is a book I ended up picking up on and off throughout the month. I started off at the beginning of April on page 171. At the end of the month, I finished off around 530 pages in. 

Empire of the Vampire has been a slow burn read. I’ve read the book before, but it’s been good to revisit the story ahead of picking up the sequel. In truth, I’m slower with re-reads as I don’t have the motivation to find out what’s happening. Even if I don’t remember all the details, I have a rough idea of what’s happened.

I’ve enjoyed reading this book again. I’m not generally one for vampire stories, but Jay Kristoff has a way of making stretching the boundaries of my reading. Whilst I am taking this into May, I hope to finish reading this book soon! As of this monthly wrap-up, I have just 100 pages to go.

 

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

The first audiobook I picked up in April was Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Julie Smith. I knew I wanted to go back to non-fiction audio as in the past I have been far quicker at listening to it. In truth, I find the genre easier to listen to than read, and vice versa.

From techniques on how to handle stress and anxiety to grief, the book touches on a broad range of emotions and how we can help ourselves to identify and try to self-regulate. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? excels as both a theoretical and practical guide. Even if you wouldn’t describe yourself as somebody who struggles with their mental health, there are still tips in here that anyone can benefit from. We all experience emotions or various intensities.

 

The Maiden of Florence

The Maiden of Florence is a historical fiction novel I picked up in April as part of a blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. I was intrigued by the book for its ties to a powerful Italian family in the period, the Medici’s.

It’s every bit as much a work of feminist fiction as it is historical. Protagonist Guilia spends her life in the power of men. This is her story, but also in part the stories of many women in the period who had little autonomy in their lives.

If you’re interested in picking up the book, here’s my full review so you can check it out for yourself!

 

The Icepick Surgeon

The Icepick Surgeon is also an ongoing read as of publishing this post. I only have a few hours left of the audio, however.

I’ve found this an interesting read. It’s another non-fiction novel, so appeals to me as an audiobook. I also love how it touches on different topics and time periods throughout history. A lot of the chapters interlink well, which is a nice touch.

For anyone who wants to take away any further reading, there is plenty on offer too. Sam is clearly well researched in the subject as he offers his website content, podcasts and other media as extra reading for anyone interested in a particular subject!

As of drafting this monthly wrap-up I’m 70% into the audio, with about 3 hours left of listening time to completion. Broadly I’ve been doing well for making time for audiobooks, so I imagine this won’t take long to wrap-up.

 

Summary

I’ve been taking my time over a chunky read this month, meaning the book count is a little less than usual. However, I’ve had a great time picking up the books I have, and that is ultimately what matters!

What have you been reading in the last month? Is there anything you would recommend to me?

 

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Sunday Summary – 28th April 2024

In this week’s instalment of my Sunday Summary update series, I recap my reading progress over the course of this last week! But first, I recap the blog posts I’ve shared over the course of the week. Let’s check it out: –

My first blog post of the week was a Top Ten Tuesday post. In that post, I shared my top 10 books I am looking to get to reading soon. I have quite the mix on that list, and there is quite some variation in the length of the books as well. I have some chunky ones (as can only be expected). I’ll have to make sure I space those out when I get to them.

My next blog post went live on Saturday as I had agreed to review The Maiden of Florence as part of the recent blog tour. If you enjoy historical fiction novels, or strong character driven stories, it’s one to check out!

 

Books Read

 

The Maiden of Florence

My priority of the week has been completing my read of The Maiden of Florence ahead of the blog tour post that went live on Saturday.

It took a few chapters to get into this book and the setup of the story. However, once I was invested in the characters, reading this became a doddle!

Whilst this book is about one individual woman’s story of abuse at the hands of powerful men, it is also in part an exposé of how women were treated generally in the period. Guilia’s story, whilst her own, is also more than just hers. She is one of many women who lacked the power to take their lives into their own hands and prevent their suffering.

If you want to find out more about the book, I strongly recommend checking out my review post.

 

The Icepick Surgeon

As of last week’s Sunday Summary update I had only just started The Icepick Surgeon by Sam Kean.

Whilst I’m not in the same boat as last week where I’m sharing that I’ve completed an audiobook in record time, I can say I’ve made significant progress. Over the course of the week I’ve listened to about five hours of this audio. It’s a lot more than I would listen to normally so I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made.

I’m also really enjoying the book; so much so, I’ve already recommended it to one person already! I love how the different chapters touch on different periods of history and topics in which the boundaries of ethics have been crossed in the history of science. I appreciate this book won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s really highlighted to me how much knowledge we have today is owed to less ethical practices.

Next time you go to a doctor, it’s worth appreciating that their anatomical knowledge is in part owed to the efforts of predecessors who had to resort to grave robbing instead of working on live people.

 

Books Discovered

I mentioned above that I recommended The Icepick Surgeon to somebody earlier this week. I ended up having a bookish chat with my recent ear piercer of all people. Turns out, she’s an avid reader too! In turn, she recommended two books to me that I liked the sound of – F*ck No and Betty.

 

Coming Up…

The end of the month is fast approaching, so I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what’s coming up on the blog. I’m actually only going to share two posts next week. With my personal schedule next week, it’s just going to make things a little bit easier for me.

I plan to share my monthly wrap-up for April around Wednesday or Thursday next week. This will be my first post of the week.

At the end of the week, I’ll be back with another Sunday Summary, which is basically a weekly wrap-up… Next week is one of recaps apparently!

Until then, I hope to see you around. If you have any book recommendations for me as well, I would love to hear them!

 

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Blog Tour Review and GIVEAWAY: The Maiden of Florence – Katherine Mezzacappa

I picked up the blog tour of The Maiden of Florence as I love the historical setting and implied feminist perspective in the narrative. In that respect, the book has lived up to expectation!

As always, thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and to author Katherine Mezzacappa for organising this latest tour.

Before we get to my thoughts on the book, here are the details!

 

The Maiden of Florence – Katherine Mezzacappa

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 336

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Fairlight Books

Publication Date:  18 Apr 2024

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – The Maiden of Florence

‘My defloration was talked about in all the courts of Europe. The Prince boasted of his prowess, even as preparations were being made for his wedding, as boldly as if he had ridden across that causeway with bloodstained sheet tied to his lance.’
1584, Italy: Twenty-year-old Giulia expects she will live and die incarcerated as a silk weaver within the walls of her Florentine orphanage, where she has never so much as glimpsed her own face. This all changes with the visit of the Medici family’s most trusted advisor, promising her a generous dowry and a husband if she agrees to a small sacrifice that will bring honour and glory to her native city.
Vincenzo Gonzaga, libertine heir to the dukedom of Mantua, wants to marry the Grand-Duke of Tuscany’s eldest daughter, but the rumours around his unconsummated first marriage must be silenced first. Eager for a dynastic alliance that will be a bulwark against the threat of Protestant heresy beyond the Alps, the Pope and his cardinals turn a blind eye to a mortal sin.
A powerful #MeToo story of the Renaissance, based on true events.

 

Purchase Link – Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts

Plot

We start with a young girl called Guilia, who is cloistered with other orphans for most of her young life. Suddenly she is taken away from that life, lied to and thrust into the political machinations of some of the most powerful men in Italy.

Politics is obviously a key driver in the plot, but far from overwhelming. The perspective is far more personal rather than looking at the broad view. I have enjoyed reading the perspective as is, but I would also have been happy to get a little more detail on the political landscape of the time given the influence on the plot. I know the influence of the Medici’s from history and other sources, but exploration of them is, in my opinion, pretty light touch in this book.

 

Setting

One of the main reasons I wanted to pick up The Maiden of Florence was because of the setting. I have read a limited number of books in this setting previously, but not many. I’m always looking to push my boundaries and try new things!

It’s interesting to explore the setting from the perspectives we see in this book. First we pick up the story from Guilia’s perspective. Having lived a sheltered life throughout childhood, her emergence into the world gives us an awestruck and naïve take on the setting. It gives readers who are unfamiliar with the setting a perspective they can relate to and learn along the way with.

Later there is a second perspective, and from them we get some context of the backdrop and circumstances that have led to events so far. Whilst the majority of the book is from Guilia’s viewpoint, this second perspective is valuable in its contribution to the overall story!

 

Characters

the Maiden of Florence is very much a character driven tale. Guilia, and her life in the hands of more powerful men are the feature. With very little autonomy over her life, she is a victim of society.

Guilia is a complex character in that she goes through so much throughout this narrative. She is taken advantaged of, treated life cattle. She experiences joy and loss and heartache. We are with her for every step of the ride, and it is an emotional one!

Make no mistake, this is Guilia’s story. Although there are plenty of supporting and very influential characters in the book, Guilia is the focus. At the same time, it is also very much a story highlighting the rights (or lack of) for women in this time.

 

Narrative Style

As the book changed perspective a few times, I found it helpful that the book is split into sections to make this clear. The chapters are also relatively short, making this very readable even for short periods of time. That said, I sat and read this book for hours at a time, so it’s binge-worthy too!

The way in which Guilia’s tale is told makes it approachable for all readers. I went into it with some knowledge of the main players and setting. It’s not necessary however. Even if you went in blind, events and the narrative are easy to follow.

 

Summary

If you are looking for an introduction to historical fiction as a genre, or even just a new time period, The Maiden of Florence is a great place to start!

It’s a compelling character driven story that emphasises how treatment of women at the time cast its shadow on society, as well as the women themselves.

 

Author Bio

Katherine Mezzacappa is an Irish writer of mainly historical fiction, currently living in Italy. She has published several novels under pen names with publishers Bonnier Zaffre and eXtasy. She works as a manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy. Katherine reviews for Historical Novel Society’s quarterly journal and is one of the organisers of the Society’s 2022 UK conference. In her spare time she volunteers with a used book charity of which she is a founder member.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: https://twitter.com/katmezzacappa
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katherinemezzacappafiction/
https://katherinemezzacappa.ie/

 

Giveaway!

Giveaway to Win a vintage postcard, early 1900s, of the babies from the façade of the Innocenti orphanage. (Open INT)

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

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494586/

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Unread Books on My Shelves I Want to Read Soon!

Just like every bookworm, I have a stack of books on my shelves waiting and begging to be read. In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, I feature some of the unread books I will look to prioritise in the coming months.

Are you intrigued for today’s Top Ten Tuesday list? Let’s get stuck in!


The Ember Blade

The Ember Blade is my first feature in this Top Ten Tuesday and a fantasy by an author I haven’t tried before. I love the sound of the synopsis and I confess I was a little biased by how beautiful the cover is!

I’m excited to try a new author! Whilst I do love to return to firm favourites, I try to stretch myself now and then with something new. This is in the safety net of my favourite genre (fantasy) and does have some typical tropes of the genre. Still, I’m interested to see how the author takes these and plays events out.

The book has an average 4.2 star rating on Goodreads with over 5000 ratings. It sounds promising! The only factor I need to consider is that this book is over 800 pages long. I need to try and split out some of my larger reads so I’m not bombarding myself all at once.


Spare and Found Parts

In contrast, Spare and Found Parts is a relatively short read that will take me out of my comfort zone.

Combine science-fiction with a steampunk vibe, toss in some romance and an epidemic, and you have quite the setting! It’s unusual and not like anything I have ever seen before. I picked up a copy of the book precisely for this reason.

This book is also great in that it will make for a great read in between some of my larger ones – as both a shorter read and its unusual setting. It will be a complete change regardless of what I read around it!


Les Miserables

Les Mis is an epic classic that I’m looking forward to getting to! At the same time, it is going to be a mammoth read. I need to pick it up as and when I’m in the mood.

I’ve had a quick read of the first few pages and the overall impression was good. I was worried initially that the writing style might be a little bit tricky, but didn’t find this with the sample. I’ll have to try and spread this out from some of the other chunky reads on this list. I can’t read too many large books at once.


Wolves of the Calla

Speaking of chunky reads, Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King is another such book in this Top Ten Tuesday post. It’s also the fifth book in The Dark Tower series, which is an ongoing read.

As I’m trying to pick up and finish more series this year, Wolves of the Calla is a natural choice. It means then I will have just two books left afterwards to complete the series.

Not only that, but I have really enjoyed each book in The Dark Tower series to date. They are cleverly written and I enjoy the diversity of Mid-world versus Earth in various time periods of history. It’s an interesting contrast and I hope to see more of in future books. We’ll see!


The Devil and the Dark Water

After reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, I’m looking forward to picking up a second book by Stuart Turton.

I featured this book in a First Lines Friday post and I loved the introduction to this book. With this in mind, I hope to pick this up before long as a change of genre and to re-explore the writing of an author I hope to read more of in future.


The Bone Collector

I have been threatening to read The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver for the longest time! It’s been sat on my shelf for some time and it’s time to give it some love!

I recall we’ve owned a copy of the book this long because I distinctly remember my sister getting a copy of this whilst she was at university… about six and a half years ago!

Maybe time to pick it up, no?


Fool’s Errand

I’ve been trying to get to Fool’s Errand for a couple of months anyway. Robin Hobb is fast becoming one of my favourite authors of all time. I have loved and rated each book in the Realm of the Elderlings series 5 stars so far.

Fool’s Errand will be the seventh book of the series that I pick up. Will I keep up the streak of five star ratings? I sincerely hope so!

Obsidio

Obsidio is the last book I need to read in Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman‘s The Illuminae Files. Although the stories are angled towards a young adult audience, I have a really enjoyed the books and characters so far.

With this being the last in the series, it makes sense to pick up this final book. I want to see events I have read so far wrapped up, but also to mark the series as complete.

I love Top Ten Tuesday posts like these as they are often great reminders to get to these final books! 


Master of Sorrows

I’ve been trying to get to Master of Sorrows for a couple of months as well, but I’ve not managed it so far. It’s a book I pulled out of my TBR jar, so I do need to pick it up before long. At the same time, I’m not taking anything else out of that until this book is finished!

I’ve heard rave reviews about this book and series so far. Had I not pulled this out of the jar, I probably would have held off starting this series. However, the jar has spoken and so I will be picking up this book very soon.


Elektra

I have read another book by Jennifer Saint, Ariadne. I’ve also come to enjoy Greek mythology from other writers such as Pat Barker and even Stephen Fry.

Greek mythology is not my strong point, but that is precisely why I’m trying to pick up more books in the genre. It also makes an interesting change from my usual preferences. I’m always trying to read out of my comfort zone, but this is a comfortable step as I’ve already tried the author once before!

As books on this list compare, it’s one of the shortest ones I can pick up. In that sense, I have a lot of flexibility as to when I can read the book.


Have you read any of the books I feature in today’s Top Ten Tuesday? Do you have any books you would recommend I pick up first?

As always, I’m really excited to hear from you!

 

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