Happy Friday and welcome to my First Lines Friday post to wrap-up the working week! First Lines Friday is a regular series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love, am interested in and/or are on my TBR. Sometimes I like to experiment with something new!
For this week‘s First Lines Friday post I wanted to feature a book that is on this month’s TBR. I wanted to pick it up last month, but I ended up reading another non-fiction book completely on a whim. I am excited for this particular read, and I’ve owned my copy of this book for a couple of years.
Here is today’s First Lines Friday intro: –
Most of recorded human history is one big data gap. Starting with the theory of Man the Hunter, the chroniclers of the past have left little space for women’s role in the evolution of humanity, whether cultural or biological. Instead, the lives of men have been taken to represent those of humans overall. When it comes to the lives of the other half of humanity, there is often nothing but silence.
And these silences are everywhere. Our entire culture is riddled with them. Films, news, literature, science, city planning, economics. The stories we tell ourselves about our past, present and future. They are all marked – disfigured – by a female shaped ‘absent presence’. This is the gender data gap.
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed For Men – Caroline Criado Perez
Genre: Non-fiction / Feminism
Publication Date: 5 Mar 2020
Discover the shocking gender bias that affects our everyday lives.
Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued.
If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you’re a woman.
Invisible Women shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. It exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.
From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media, Invisible Women reveals the biased data that excludes women.
Award-winning campaigner and writer Caroline Criado Perez brings together for the first time an impressive range of case studies, stories and new research from across the world that illustrate the hidden ways in which women are forgotten, and the impact this has on their health and well-being. In making the case for change, this powerful and provocative book will make you see the world anew.
I’ve set myself a goal to read more non-fiction. Invisible Women appeals to me for what I hope are obvious reasons. The issues that this book highlights affect me.
The danger with a lot of the things covered in this book is that the world has been designed not for women, but more so out of negligence to understand our differences from men. It’s these kinds of issues we need to bring to the forefront in order to make changes.
I am more vocal than I have ever been before about things. When I was younger, I used to keep myself to myself. Sometimes it was easier, but other times it meant I was ignored or taken advantage of. I don’t allow that to happen anymore. If I have something to say, I will say it.
I’ll always try to say it in a constructive way, or at least an honest way. Armed with the information in this book, I would like to raise my own awareness of issues experienced by women so that I can help educate others. Who knows, if enough people shout about the same issues, we can encourage positive changes.
I hope you have enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday feature! Have you read Invisible Women; has it caught your interest?
In today’s post, I’m going to be talking about six 2022 new releases that I am excited to pick up and read for myself! There is a diverse range of books on this list, and even more besides out there in the big wide world.
The six books I list in today’s post are books that are already on my TBR; some of which I have copies of already. I’m looking forward to today’s post and telling you why I can’t wait to read these new releases… so let’s just get to it!
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: 23 Aug 2022
Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.
1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel.
Babel is the world’s center of translation and, more importantly, of silver-working: the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, to magical effect. Silver-working has made the British Empire unparalleled in power, and Babel’s research in foreign languages serves the Empire’s quest to colonize everything it encounters.
Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is a fairytale for Robin; a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge serves power, and for Robin, a Chinese boy raised in Britain, serving Babel inevitably means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to sabotaging the silver-working that supports imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? What is he willing to sacrifice to bring Babel down?
Babel — a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal response to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of translation as a tool of empire.
I am really looking forward to receiving my copy of Babel. Not only does the plot sound dark and twisty, but one of my favourite BookTubers (Ashleigh @ A Frolic Through Fiction) absolutely adored reading this.
Through one of Ashleigh‘s discussions of this book, it became clear that this isn’t strictly just a fantasy. There’s a lot of depth and detail into the translation side of things. As somebody who nearly went to university to study linguistics, this focus on language and the detail put into it also appeals to me.
Not long ago, I signed up to the Illumicrate book-only subscription, and this is going to be the first book I receive!
Genre: Greek Mythology
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: 3 May 2022
The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them, and determines to win, whatever the cost.
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But, can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?
I find that I want to explore more books about Greek mythology of late. Having read and enjoyed Pandora’s Jar just last month, I am continuing with reading about Greek mythology. I have also added a few to my TBR of late, including both Ariadne and Elektra.
I’m also enjoying the emphasis of female narratives in Greek mythology. As Natalie Haynes points out in Pandora’s Jar, Greek myths as we know them today have been warped considerably from their original tellings. Sadly, it is a more modern change in which we see women’s roles changed to make them insignificant, or altogether evil. I enjoyed how this book put the stories to rights, and I want to read more. I can only hope that I get this, and more, from Elektra.
The Blood Trials
Audience: Young Adult/New Adult
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: 5 Apr 2022
It’s all about blood.
The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen’s deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive.
The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered.
For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her.
Who trained her to keep that a secret.
But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order.
Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials–a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that–if found out–would subject her to execution…or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather…and then she needs to kill them.
Mareen has been at peace for a long time…
Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that.
Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself–and one’s blood–is more important than anything.
I heard about The Blood Trials when watching another BookTuber, Becca and the Books. She had been sent a copy of the book to read and review, and the synopsis caught my attention straight away. It reminded me to a certain extent of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.
I also love that this book has diverse representation. It sounds like it has a classic fantasy structure, detailed world-building and complex inter-character relations, so this is full of promise.
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)
Publication Date: 25 Jan 2022
Our ability to pay attention is collapsing. From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections comes a groundbreaking examination of why this is happening–and how to get our attention back.
In the United States, teenagers can focus on one task for only sixty-five seconds at a time, and office workers average only three minutes. Like so many of us, Johann Hari was finding that constantly switching from device to device and tab to tab was a diminishing and depressing way to live. He tried all sorts of self-help solutions–even abandoning his phone for three months–but nothing seemed to work. So Hari went on an epic journey across the world to interview the leading experts on human attention–and he discovered that everything we think we know about this crisis is wrong.
We think our inability to focus is a personal failure to exert enough willpower over our devices. The truth is even more disturbing: our focus has been stolen by powerful external forces that have left us uniquely vulnerable to corporations determined to raid our attention for profit. Hari found that there are twelve deep causes of this crisis, from the decline of mind-wandering to rising pollution, all of which have robbed some of our attention. In Stolen Focus, he introduces readers to Silicon Valley dissidents who learned to hack human attention, and veterinarians who diagnose dogs with ADHD. He explores a favela in Rio de Janeiro where everyone lost their attention in a particularly surreal way, and an office in New Zealand that discovered a remarkable technique to restore workers’ productivity.
Crucially, Hari learned how we can reclaim our focus–as individuals, and as a society–if we are determined to fight for it. Stolen Focus will transform the debate about attention and finally show us how to get it back.
There are distractions all around, and when I saw the title and focus of this book, it resonated with me. There are times when I am really distracted. Sometimes, it manifests as the need to multitask and my brain constantly flits between multiple things at once. Inevitably, the job would probably get done better and maybe even quicker if I dealt with one at a time. That’s the thing with our modern world – we have countless information inputs that we ingest constantly. We always need to be doing more… and better.
Other times, I can just drift and lose my attention to something completely meaningless. It is easy to think of a lack of attention as a personal failing, but I’m interested to see the psychology behind it and also how I can take back control and improve my focus.
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Publication Date: 27 Jan 2022
London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.
But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.
Gorgeously atmospheric and deliciously page-turning, Pandora is a story of secrets and deception, love and fulfilment, fate and hope.
This historical fiction novel dips into Greek mythology that I was talking about earlier. However, it is just an introductory foundation to a completely different story – one that I can’t wait to read. This blend of a mystery and historical fiction novel has a lot of components to it.
I believe there are also elements of romance. By and large, I don’t read a lot of romance or focus on romance in a book. Naturally, it happens, but it’s not something that I actively seek out. At the same time, if it’s not a huge pivotal element to the story, and it’s more of a sideline, that’s easier for me to read. It will be interesting to see just where this book is on the scale, and how much I enjoy it in comparison.
The First Binding
Publication Date: 16 Aug 2022
All legends are born of truths. And just as much lies. These are mine. Judge me for what you will. But you will hear my story first.
I buried the village of Ampur under a mountain of ice and snow. Then I killed their god. I’ve stolen old magics and been cursed for it. I started a war with those that walked before mankind and lost the princess I loved, and wanted to save. I’ve called lightning and bound fire. I am legend. And I am a monster.
My name is Ari. And this is the story of how I let loose the first evil.
The First Binding is released later this month, and I have been excited about this book since January. I am really fortunate to be taking part in the publication blog tour for this book – at the time of writing this post, I am currently reading it!
At around 250 pages, I can say this is living up to my expectation. Grand in nature, The First Binding is truly an epic fantasy. Full of magic and deceit, with themes of prejudice and racial discrimination, The First Binding is a narrative of one man who has gone to the ends of the world, loved and lost, made mistakes… and paid for them dearly.
The book is heavily inspired by The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and it’s for this reason that I have been really excited to read this book. I read The Name of the Wind as a teenager, and I adored the way in which the story was told from the very beginning. Told candidly from the perspective of our main character in hindsight, both of these books do not glamourise the deeds these men have done. In fact, they shed light on how their tales have been altered in the telling by others, and setting right those wrongs.
I can’t wait to finish this book and share my thoughts with you later this month!
So, those are my top 2022 new releases that I can’t wait to read! Have any of these caught your eye? Have you read any of these books? Are there any other 2022 new releases I didn’t feature in this post that you think I should have? Let me know in the comments or on social media. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
Feel free to follow me, and let’s have a conversation!
It’s Sunday night again and that can only mean one thing… it’s time for a Sunday Summary update! Have you had a good week? This week I’ve pushed the boat out and shared three posts with you as opposed to my usual two.
Earlier in the week, I shared my Monthly Wrap-Up for July. I had prepared most of this post last week, but I promptly added the last reading updates on Monday night, ready for this post to be published on Tuesday.
On Thursday I shared an additional post. I signed up to review A Feast of Phantoms by Kat Ross, and Thursday was my deadline for the review. I prepared it a little bit in advance and I had already shared my review on Goodreads and Amazon. However, Thursday was the day it went live on my blog.
On Friday, I shared my August TBR with you. I’m really excited to be taking part in a readathon for the very first time, and I have set myself an ambitious list for this month. It features two 800+ fantasy books, another Greek mythology retelling, as well as non-fiction, a dystopian science-fiction novel and lastly, a romance audiobook. If you’re interested in what I’m reading this month, you can check out that post using the link above.
I have only had one reading goal this week, and that is to get through as much of The First Binding as possible.
I am really enjoying this epic fantasy. Other readers are not lying when they say it is very heavily influenced by Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. I loved that book/series as a teenager, and so going back to that narrative style is working really well for me.
I started the book at the beginning of this week, and I am just over 500 pages into this 817-page epic. As mentioned in my August TBR post, I am reviewing this book very soon as part of the publication tour. Understandably, that is why this is the first book on my list, and also my top priority at the moment. I’m well on track to finish this book this week with time to spare to draft my review. I am really enjoying it so far, and I can’t wait to share my full review with you the week after next.
I confess that I have added three books to my TBR this week.
The first book I have added is one that I am expecting a physical copy of in the near future. I recently signed up for the Illumicrate book-only subscription box, and the book I am due to receive is Babel by R. F. Kuang. Another reader who I trust has recently read and adored Babel, so I’m looking forward to receiving my copy soon.
Inspired by my upcoming 2022 New Releases I’m Excited About post, I have added two Greek mythology retelling books to my list. One of these books features on the 2022 post, however the other is a slightly older book by the same author that I can’t wait to pick up! Ariadne and Elektra are well-known books in the genre. Having recently read and enjoyed Pandora’s Jar, I am enjoying picking up books of this nature. Much like Pandora’s Jar, these stories focus on female characters of Greek Mythology. It’s a perspective I am really enjoying and want to read more of.
I have prepared a couple of blog posts ready for you next week, in addition to my usual Sunday Summary update.
At the beginning of the week, I am sharing the previously mentioned 2022 New Releases I’m Excited About post. In that post, I discuss six new releases, published this year, that I can’t wait to read. I already own copies of some of these books (and I might just be reading one of them right now). The books featured are from a wide variety of genres, so if you’re looking for your next new release to read, check out my post on Tuesday.
Later in the week, I am going back to my regular First Lines Friday feature. In that post, I’m talking about a book I plan to read later this month. With any luck, I have a lot to learn from this book and can go on to raise awareness of the issues it highlights.
I had planned to read this book last month, but ended up setting aside in favour of Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes. I’m really looking forward to reading this one, and I hope you like the sound of it based on the introduction.
And, as always, I’ll be back next Sunday to share all my reading updates with you.
That’s all from me in Sunday Summary post. What have you read lately? Do you have any book recommendations to share?
Happy Friday everyone! It’s still early in August, and it’s time to share my monthly TBR!
This month I am doing something fun, and belatedly taking part in a readathon. A few years ago, G over at Book Roast set up her Magical Readathon. Inspired by the structure of the exams in the Harry Potter series, she built a readathon in which you could ‘sit exams’ over two ‘sittings’ by reading books that completed certain prompts associated with them. In the first sitting, you have one prompt per exam. In the second, you can specialise in certain exams and read multiple prompts for that subject – the more you read, the better grade you get.
That was several years ago, and now she has developed the readathon even further. She has built her own fantasy world based around a similar concept. The aim is to obtain qualifications in two semesters (one month-long readathon in April and one in August) towards a certain fantasy career.
I didn’t hear about this readathon until very recently. I missed out in April this year, so whilst everybody else taking part is doing the August prompts right now, I have decided to go back to April’s prompts so I can catch up and maybe take part in real-time next year. It’s been implied that progress made this year will carry over into next year.
I want to take part as it will be fun and push me a little out of my comfort zone. The prompts in some cases are for books I wouldn’t necessarily choose to put on my monthly TBR right now. At the same time, I have been able to incorporate books that I do want to read at the moment, so it’s the best of both worlds. There is a lot more interactivity involved in these readathons that I won’t be able to do right now, but that’s something I can look forward to.
Magical Readathon: Character
I have one book on my monthly TBR that I have to read, and that’s because I’m taking part in a blog tour later this month.
Naturally, I had to fit this into the prompts given, and fortunately, I can make it fit one. That, combined with the limitation of the amount I can read in a month, narrowed down my career options. In the end, it was a toss-up between the Craftsmage and Story Weaver profession. Technically, the Craftsmage career is an easier one to obtain as there is less reading required for it. However, I was less keen on the April prompts for this profession. So, I opted for Story Weaver.
For that career, I have to obtain qualifications in Inscription, Art of Illusion, Psionics and Divination, and Lore. I am hoping to read more than four books this month, so I’ve chosen some additional reads for my own reasons. If those additional books fulfill a prompt, I’ve noted it here and will count it. It might not count for anything right now, but as this readathon is ongoing, it may become relevant later.
Let’s jump into the books I’ve chosen for my monthly TBR and which prompts they fulfill for my career choice.
The First Binding
Inscription: An Intimidating Read
I’m only setting one fixed read this month, and that is because I am taking part in a blog tour later this month. As a result, this is the book I had fit into the list of prompts I had.
The First Binding is an epic fantasy novel over 800 pages long. That may be intimidating enough, but the added kicker is that I have to read and finish this book and share my review on the 15th August. Having done the maths, it means I have to read an absolute minimum of 70 pages a day in order to get there. Naturally, I aim to read it quicker if I can. If that’s not intimidating, I don’t know what is!
The Silence of the Girls
Lore: Mythology Inspired Read
This particular book is about Greek Mythology, in particular, around female characters affected by the Trojan War. I recently read and enjoyed Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes. I’ve wanted to pick up more books about the subject (I’ve even added one about the Trojan War, written by Natalie Haynes, to my TBR recently).
However, I already own a copy of The Silence of the Girls. As it’s a subject I’m interested in, and a topic I need for the readathon, this should be perfect. The icing on the cake is that it’s a nice short read. After reading The First Binding, I think I will relish it.
Art of Illusion: Book with a trope I Like
I am a big reader of fantasy. As such, there are a lot of tropes to choose from. Some are more used than most, and some of them I like better than others. One of the tropes I enjoy, even if it is a bit overused, is characters going off on a quest and developing personally as a result. Fitting in with that trope nicely, I’ve chosen Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb.
I have just finished reading Royal Assassin and I’m itching to pick up this third book of the first trilogy. It fit perfectly into the required prompt… so it would have been rude not to!
Psionics & Divination: Book Set in the Future
For the psionics and divination prompt, I need to read a book set in the future. This is the prompt I’ve had the most debate over, and changed my book selection a number of times already.
Naturally, I have the flexibility to change my mind again if I feel the need. However, I have provisionally chosen to read Golden Son by Pierce Brown. I read Red Rising last year and I really loved this first book. Set in the near (but undefined) future, the series is about the colonisation of all the planets in space – in particular, Mars. This is a science fiction novel with a dystopian theme. I really enjoyed this first book and I’ve heard good things about the second in the series. So, I’m taking the opportunity to tick off this prompt and further read towards completing a series. God knows I have plenty ongoing already without starting anymore.
The last physical book I am provisionally setting on my monthly TBR is Invisible Women. I had intended to read this book last month, but I ended up swapping it out for Pandora’s Jar on a whim.
Reading this particular book doesn’t satisfy any of the prompts for the readathon, however, I have set myself a personal goal of reading at least one non-fiction book a month. It’s for this reason that I am still adding Invisible Women to this TBR.
The Viscount Who Loved Me
Alchemy: Book featuring Romance
There are some chunky books on my TBR, so I’m only ‘setting’ five physical reads this month.
I would like to try and squeeze in one more book, and I would like to do so in audiobook format. I think this is the first time I’ve ever put an audiobook on a TBR deliberately. Audiobooks make up the smallest proportion of my reading. However, I have definitely been in the mood to listen to more audiobooks of late. Whilst I am in the mood, I’d like to try and make this more of a regular habit, rather than the stop-start relationship I typically have.
The reason for adding the audiobook, and this genre audiobook, is because I think I want something lighter to listen to. I should be able to listen to this on my commute, or whilst I am doing jobs around the house and so it should be easy to squeeze in.
There is another reason why I have chosen this format for this book. I read the Duke and I back in May, and whilst I had mixed feelings about the book, I said I wasn’t going to continue with the series. However, I’m going to give it a second chance in audiobook format.
I have enjoyed the Bridgerton Netflix series to date, but most importantly, I want to see if I can persevere long enough to follow Penelope‘s and Eloise‘s story arcs. They are honestly the only two characters I really care about. However, it’s going to be a while before we get there in the Netflix series, so if I can at least get so far as their books and I’ll be happy.
Don’t get me wrong, if I don’t enjoy this overly either then I’ll abandon the attempt and I’ll just have to wait for the Netflix series to get to their parts.
Having checked the prompt sheet, I can pass the alchemy exam by reading a book featuring a romance. So, if I read this book then that’s an bonus qualification I can earn.
So, that’s my monthly TBR for August! This is my first time ever taking part in a readathon, and I am really excited! Have you ever taken part in one? Alternatively, what are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments or on social media.
Hello everyone and welcome to today’s book review of A Feast of Phantoms by Kat Ross. If you like books that are an eclectic range of genres, then this book is for you! With an underpinning western theme and elements of steampunk, this fantasy has a lot going on in a nice, concise page count that is approachable to read.
Full disclosure, I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. All of the opinions shared in this post are my own.
Help Marshal Sebastian Hardin escort his prisoner one stop on the railway to Charter Oak.
Just one stop.
But when that prisoner is a savant who talks to ghosts, even the simplest plans have a way of falling apart.
Sheriff’s Deputy Ruth Cortez always does the right thing. Lucky Boy is a company town, dependent on the rich and powerful Carnarvon family. Besides which, the charismatic Sebastian Hardin isn’t an easy man to say no to. When his transport derails in the middle of the prairie, Ruth begins a relentless manhunt that leads straight into the dark heart of the Carnarvon empire.
Lee Merriweather favors sharp suits and fast trains – especially when he’s stealing them. At the ripe old age of 18, he’s managed to become the most wanted criminal in three territories. Lee can’t resist playing cat and mouse with a small-town deputy, but what starts as a game becomes deadly serious.
Sebastian Hardin is the Carnarvons’ right hand, loyal to the death and willing to keep any secret to protect the family. They want Lee alive, but with the young savant’s disturbing abilities it won’t be an easy proposition. Whoever catches Lee gets the keys to the kingdom and the Carnarvons aren’t the only ones hunting him down. Sebastian has enough problems without falling for Deputy Cortez – but you can’t always choose who you love.
They terrorized the settlers until Calindra Carnarvon learned to speak their language. Her empire relies on controlling their telekinetic powers, but Lee Merriweather could destroy it all. And not even Lee suspects the shocking truth of the phantoms’ real nature.
If you like the crossover of genres in the likes of Stephen king’s The Dark Tower or Brandon Sanderson‘s second Mistborn trilogy, A Feast of Phantoms has a similar vibe. It is also set in a western type setting. The incorporation of steampunk elements reminded me of the technological advancements we see between the first and second Mistborn trilogy, which is why I have likened this book to that.
Ruth is a small-town girl happy with her quiet life as a deputy in the town of Lucky Boy. Life is fairly rudimentary, but it’s all she’s ever known. When she is conscripted to help the secret services transport a prisoner for trial, she doesn’t have much choice but to accept. From here on, Ruth world opens up to magic, intrigue, and danger that she couldn’t foresee.
I really liked Ruth as a character. I love that she has very strong, good morals. In a world that is clearly corrupt, Ruth is a breath of fresh air. She is also very headstrong, and despite her youth, she is able to make a decision and act upon it. Quite often characters of this age can be a bit wishy-washy or uncertain. A lot of the plot conflict derives around that issue.
That’s not the case in A Feast of Phantoms, however. Instead, Ruth is decisive and more often than not, it is this that gets her into more trouble… Despite her good intentions.
A Feast of Phantoms has a fast pace plot. Once the story has been set up, we are whisked upon the mission to escort Lee Merriweather to his fate, and all the drama and turmoil that unfolds thereafter., In true fashion, all is not as it seems. Hardly to be expected, given that the secret services are involved. Instead, Ruth finds herself dragged into a conflict she could never have imagined and is far away from her hometown.
A Feast of Phantoms is also a short read, and very easy to pick up. I managed to read this book in just a couple of days. The narrative style is easy to follow and get lost in. Reading this book was effortless, and the story keeps you hanging on to read just one more chapter… over and over again.
The good news for fans of this book is that it is the first of a trilogy. This first instalment leaves us on a cliffhanger that will have us picking up the next one to know what happens next!
What are your thoughts on this book? As always, let me know in the comments or on social media. Get in touch with me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, or of my new blog posts as and when they go live!
If you want to find out which amazing books I’ve been reading this month, and those I would like to recommend to you my fellow readers, then my monthly wrap-up post is the one for you!
In my monthly wrap-up posts, I share the details of all the books I read in the month just gone. For July, I decided to keep with a similar concept with my TBR and only set a couple of ‘fixed reads’, whereas the rest could be changed with my mood. I’ll clearly mark out which books fell into which bracket.
Overall, I found this approach really worked for me once again.
Whereas last month I ended up sticking to my provisional mood reads, I did actually swap one book out for another this month. It was entirely on a whim, but that’s the point. I want to give myself the flexibility if I really want to read something, to just pick it up.
My first read of the month was Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham. I committed to taking part in a blog tour for this particular book and shared my review as a part of it. That post was due on the 11th of July, so reading this particular book was my first port of call.
If you want to check out my full thoughts on the book, you can find a link to my blog tour post here. In summary, Twelve Nights was a fun historical-fiction/mystery novel in which a number of themes are brought together – the treatment of women in the 16th century, the impact of religion on daily life, William Shakespeare, the theatre and surprisingly, suffering from Alzheimer’s/dementia.
We are taken through a variety of twists and turns as Magdalen tries to get to the bottom of a murder she did not commit, all before her ‘inquest’ and inevitable conviction for the crimes. The mystery took a turn I was not expecting, and I really enjoyed the element of surprise at the 11th hour!
If any of these things sound like something you’d enjoy, then I recommend picking this book up.
My second and last ‘fixed read’ of the month was The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman. I set this as a fixed read as I wanted to return the book to Chris whilst he was on island visiting with my sister. I had every intention to pick this up straight after Twelve Nights, however, that didn’t come to pass.
Instead, I had a real hankering to pick up another book (and not one on my July TBR). I indulged myself by picking this other book up, before returning to The Man Who Died Twice.
The story was engaging, high-stakes, and enabled us to see a little into Elizabeth’s past, which I really enjoyed. I think she’s one of the more interesting characters of the book/series so far, even if she is quite unrealistic in real life. But, that’s not the point. It’s a bit of fun and I enjoy how Richard Osman manages to write an intriguing mystery, with a lot of humour along the way.
At the same time though, he doesn’t neglect difficult subjects. In his first book, the narrative includes a character suicide. In the second book, one of the characters experiences violence and a consequent knock of confidence as a result of the attack.
The copy I read was a chunky hardback edition, but this turned out to be a quick read regardless. I really enjoyed being back in the company of Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim (a.k.a. the Thursday Murder Club). The narrative of this second book in the series was honestly slightly better than the first. I managed to read this in just a handful of days and return the book to its rightful owner with plenty of time to spare.
This was one of my top reads of the month. If you enjoy mystery books on the lighthearted, contemporary side, this is one for you!
I picked up and read Pandora’s Jar completely on a whim.
After reading Twelve Nights and suffering the injustices of women through the perspective of Magdalen, I wanted a book that almost served a bit of social justice. What drew me to Pandora’s Jar, in particular, is that the author features 10 female characters in Greek myths and explores how they are done injustice in their own stories.
One of the more interesting things I found, is that these stories weren’t written that way originally; the stories have changed over time and the roles these women play in the stories (whether made inconsequential, turned into monsters or painted to be downright evil). In Pandora’s Jar, Natalie Haynes challenges these changes and puts to right how these characters were portrayed in earlier/alternate versions of the stories.
Next, I wanted to continue my foray into the Realm of the Elderlings, so picked up Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb.
Royal Assassin is the second book of the Farseer trilogy and I am loving these books so far! I am a big fantasy reader, with greater emphasis on those that are in series as opposed to standalone.
Needless to say, these books are right up my street. They aren’t quick reads, but I really love these books. I just managed to finish Royal Assassin on the last day of the month. Given the way the book ended, I can’t see myself reading the third book of this first trilogy very, very soon!
This was my top read of the month, although The Man Who Died Twice came a close second. This is a book for epic fantasy lovers – especially if you like to invest in a detailed world spanning multiple books.
I signed up to review A Feast of Phantoms via BookSirens a few months ago, and as the review deadline is coming up imminently, I decided to pick this up in July.
Also as I didn’t have my copy of The First Binding yet, it felt like a perfect opportunity to squeeze this in. I did also end up taking a brief break from reading Royal Assassin to make sure I had time to hit the review deadline.
A Feast of Phantoms is a nice short read and is an eclectic mix of genres. The book has a western/steampunk theme, with a predominant fantasy baseline with elements of supernatural. Are you still with me? It is quite a wild combination, and whilst I wasn’t sure about it at first, it won me over. When it became clear in the narrative that all is not as it seems, that was the hook.
This is a solid fantasy read if you’re looking for something on the shorter side. At 270 pages, I flew through A Feast of Phantoms. If you want to find out more, I am publishing my review on Thursday.
A Note on The First Binding…
I had put The First Binding on my TBR for July, as I was expecting a review copy ahead of a blog tour post on the 15th of August.
However, I only just received my copy on Friday. This is a reading priority now (for obvious reasons), but I just wanted to include this explanation in my monthly wrap-up to let you know why I haven’t picked it up this month. It’s because I couldn’t.
I have decided to add a section to these monthly wrap-up posts for audiobooks, as it is abundantly clear that I am back into a phase of listening to these. I have been doing a lot of crafty projects lately, and whilst I don’t have a deadline for a gift anymore, I’m working on something for myself.
It’s quite a large cross-stitch project, so it’s going to take me a while. However, that means I’m going to have plenty of time to listen to more audiobooks. I set the precedence when making my friend Rachael‘s gift, so I am really into it.
Still, I’m not a quick audiobook listener. It’s The method I consume books in the least, so I’m not going to have loads of books here in any one month.
This month I have completed listening to Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I’ve enjoyed the story element of it even though I’m not necessarily the target audience. I do have some gripes about the audiobook itself.
I am not a fan of the casting of this audiobook in particular. A lot of it is narrated by the author Philip Pullman himself, however, character speech is cast out to other people. Personally, I would have preferred consistency and if the author had narrated everything himself, I think it would be smoother.
I also don’t like some of the voices, especially the main character Lyra. I understand the casting in a way, but her voice is just irritating. Overall, it’s quite jarring and not as pleasant an experience as it could have been. I’m going to try and not let it deter me from listening to the rest of the series, but there is just my two pence worth.
That’s a wrap for my monthly wrap-up post! Did you read any great books in July? Do you have any book recommendations to share? As always, I’d love to hear from you!
Hello readers – welcome back to another Sunday Summary update from me. As always, I hope you’ve had a good week.
This week I have shared a couple of blog posts with you. On Tuesday, I shared a review of The Taking of Annie Thorne by CJ Tudor. This was the second book I read by this author; I enjoyed this one. As I read the book about a year ago, I felt it was time I finally committed my thoughts and shared them with you.
Later in the week, I shared a Shelf Control post. In that post, I had a look at a non-fiction true crime book that I am excited to read. The opening line of this book is intriguing, and I haven’t heard about this incident before. If you want to find out more, you can find a link to this post here.
I have finished a couple of books this week.
I originally started the week by continuing my read of Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb. As of last week’s Sunday Summary update, I was approximately halfway through this book. I started to make further progress, before picking up another book that had a more immediate review deadline.
I started reading A Feast of Phantoms around midweek, and I finished this book within a few days. The review deadline for this book is coming up next week, and so I needed to finish the book in time to prepare my review.
It was a really quick interesting read. If you enjoy fantasy books in a Western setting, or elements of steampunk, this is a book you should get on with. I enjoyed this combination and the plot line was action-packed and easy to read.
After finishing A Feast of Phantoms, I returned to Royal Assassin to finish the book by the end of this month. I finished the last 32 pages of the book just now and I loved the ending! As for the resolution, I had no idea what I was expecting, but it is so cleverly written and I cannot wait to see what happens next! I already own the last book of this trilogy, so I may just be picking this up before too long.
I am rapidly becoming a huge fan of Robin Hobb. She has already built an interesting epic fantasy, and I have only read two books out of about sixteen in total. One of the things I enjoy about her writing is that she is not delicate with her characters. The ending of this book proves this!
Given that I have added enough books to my TBR of late, I’m pleased to say that I haven’t added anything new this week.
This week has been an interesting one in terms of preparing my blog posts in advance. I have done what I can with some posts, however, I found I was able to start them, but not finish them. At least at first.
My first post of the week will be going live on Tuesday, and that is going to be my monthly wrap-up. For obvious reasons, I’ve not been able to finish writing that post as my reading progress up to today needs to be included. A few days ago, I drafted what progress I could. Tomorrow I will finish off the post with the last updates and it will be with you on Tuesday.
Next, I started drafting my review post for A Feast of Phantoms. When I first started drafting this post, I was still reading the book. So, I ended up doing a lot of setup and left the section for my review blank. In the end, I filled this in on Friday after finishing the book, and I have scheduled the post to go live on Thursday next week.
I am sharing an additional post this week. As it is the beginning of a brand-new month, I’m going to be sharing my planned TBR. This is the one post that I haven’t drafted as yet, but I have set myself a list and I will be drafting this post tomorrow ready to be shared on Friday.
And then last, but not least, I will be back with another Sunday Summary update this time next week. You can expect all my reading updates as usual.
I hope you have enjoyed today’s Sunday Summary post. Have you been reading anything good lately? Do you have any book recommendations for me?
Happy Friday everyone and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! Shelf Control is a regular feature on my blog. It’s a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies… 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.
If I recall correctly, I own today’s featured book on Kindle. I saw this a long time ago but was immediately pulled in by the synopsis, and sneak peak of the opening line, below.
I am trying to read more non-fiction, more so now than never. If you recall my midyear review post, I set myself a goal of reading at least one non-fiction book a month. This book will fit nicely with this challenge. Having reminded myself of the synopsis, I may well be picking this up soon!
Here are the details for today’s book: –
The Adversary: A True Story of Monstrous Deception – Emmanuel Carrère
On the Saturday morning of January 9, 1993, while Jean Claude Romand was killing his wife and children, I was with mine in a parent-teacher meeting…
With these chilling first words, acclaimed master of psychological suspense Emmanuel Carrère begins his exploration of the double life of a respectable doctor, 18 years of lies, five murders and the extremes to which ordinary people can go.
With this synopsis, I cannot help but think that less is more. There is not a lot of detail to go on, but that opening line really sucks you in. Who is Jean Claude Romand, and what is his story?
From the basic research I’ve done, the answer is, he’s a fraud. He is a man who fails to qualify to become a doctor, lies about getting a job with the World Health Organisation and lives comfortably for 18 years off of other people’s money. However, when the web of lies risks coming undone, he murders those closest to him.
I’ll admit, I have never heard of this case before. This book is translated from French, so it’s not necessarily a story you would know about. Other books and even films have been made on the subject, so you may be more familiar with the story than I am. I can’t wait to dive into this particular book, as Jean is clearly a very sinister character. My understanding is that the author initially wanted to complete some kind of psychological assessment with this book, however he wasn’t able to do so.
I am looking forward to coming to my own conclusions about this man and his behaviour. I’m a huge fan of psychology, and it’s for this reason that I wanted to read this book!
Have you read The Adversary, watched any of the films about Jean Claude Romand, or read any other true crime books that you would recommend?
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In today’s post, I am sharing my book review for The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor. I read this book just over a year ago, so it’s well due its five minutes of fame on my blog.
I really enjoyed The Taking of Annie Thorne. Previously, I had read and loved The Chalk Man, also by the same author. It’s for this reason that I wanted to pick this latest book up, and I’m glad I did. This time last year I wasn’t reading anywhere near as much as usual. However, I read this book a lot quicker than I had been managing other books of similar length.
I think that speaks volumes for itself, but in today’s post, I share plenty more reasons why you should read this book for yourself!
One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her. Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie. I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.
With any mystery or thriller, one of the greatest aspects of this kind of narrative is the characters and their backstory. The Taking of Annie Thorne is told in a dual timeline; we learn the history of the characters and what happened in the past, and we see some of those same characters back as adults. If you like this kind of idea, and in particular, if you liked the timeline in the likes of Stephen King’s book, IT, this is very similar.
Given that we are juggling two timelines interspersed within each other, the pacing of the book works really well. Nothing is revealed too early, keeping us on our toes as to what happens – in both timelines! If you are concerned that juggling both at the same time is confusing, I can assure you, I didn’t find this to be the case at all. Each is clearly set out at the beginning of the chapter as to which timeline we are in. The chapters are also not too long, so nothing too chunky happens all at once and we then forget the events of the other timeline.
I particularly liked the characters of Annie and Joe. The story is told from Joe‘s perspective. As Annie’s brother, he is close to the event when she goes missing, and in the subsequent action. I liked both of these characters for different reasons. Annie, after she comes back, is creepy. She definitely has a sinister vibe that defines this mystery novel for me, but adds elements of horror. She is characterised perfectly.
I like Joe for different reasons. He turns out to be a very complex character with very distinct character development between these two timelines. Also, I enjoyed how this was kept consistent throughout the book; at no point did his personalities or perspective merge. It made the reading of each timeline easier to follow, and was very interesting to observe how he has changed outside of the book. Joe turns out to be a character with varying shades of grey when it comes to morality. I really enjoy this element of a book. I like reading a narrative and having to consider whether whatever has happened is true, or whether the perspective is biased or not. Having Joe as a morally grey character really added to the mystery that was already here and present in the book, and I’m all for it!
As I said in my introduction above, I read this book a lot quicker than I was reading other books of a similar length. I was deliberately not taking on anything too ambitious last year, as I experienced a little bit of burnout. Yet, I managed to devour this book in a handful of days at a time when that wasn’t really the norm for me. At about 350 pages, I think this is a book that anybody could pick up at any given time. It’s not too heavy (and I don’t just mean in the literal sense) – it’s a very easy narrative to consume. It is engaging with its interesting mystery with a creepy twist, so this can appeal to a lot of readers.
As a fan of The Chalk Man, I wasn’t disappointed by The Taking of Annie Thorne. I got the narrative style and characterisation of a calibre I was expecting, with a plot twist that I couldn’t anticipate; this was one of my better reads of last year when you consider the five-star rating I gave it, and how quickly I read it!
What are your thoughts on The Taking of Annie Thorne? As always, I would love to hear from you!
Good evening everyone and welcome to this week’s Sunday Summary update post. With the exception of the weekend’s washout weather, we’ve had a pretty good week here. I hope you have too?
Both of this week’s blog posts were prepared in advance for the first time in a long time. I am glad I was able to take the opportunity to get ahead, and I’ll be continuing this going forward.
This week, I scheduled a Top Ten Tuesday post as I had complete discretion over the topic. Having looked back at what has been popular on my blog in the past, I have a lot of views for posts featuring favourite book quotes, as well as my review of A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. Naturally, I decided to combine the two topics together, and shared my top ten quotes from the Game of Thrones series (so far!)
Later this week I shared a First Lines Friday post. In this post, I decided to pick up a book that has been on my TBR for a very long time. This is to get me excited about the book because I intend to read it soon! I have owned my copy of this book since 2016 at the latest, although realistically, I purchased it earlier than that. I’ve talked about it a couple of times on my blog recently; you may be able to guess what it is if you read another Top Ten Tuesday post I shared in the last month or two.
As of last week’s Sunday Summary update, I was 179 pages into The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman. This particular book was loaned to me by my sister’s boyfriend. Since they were both over visiting this week, I wanted to finish it and return his copy before they left.
I’m pleased to say that I managed to finish this book with a full day to spare! The book itself is about 425 pages long. That sounds like a lot, but the font is a lot larger than I’m used to and I flew through it!
The story is compelling as well, which made it very easy for me to read large sections at a time. Dare I say it, but I think I actually preferred The Man Who Died Twice over The Thursday Murder Club. Both are good books, but for me the sequel just pipped it. As with the first book of the series, Richard Osman manages to weave in a topic that is quite serious in nature but wrapped up in a humorous book with cracking characters. At least this one didn’t make me cry!
Next, I picked up my current read, Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb. Where The Man Who Died Twice was not too long and printed with very large text, Royal Assassin is the complete opposite. My paperback copy has over 600 pages, and the text is significantly smaller! At least there is no time pressure for me to read this book. It’s not a bad thing either because I love dense, detailed fantasy books! They are my go-to comfort read.
Despite it’s length, I’m still doing really well with my reading progress. I only started this book mid-week, but I’m already 329 pages in, which equates to about 50% read. I’m really enjoying the story so far, and it picks up well from the first book, Assassin’s Apprentice. I only read this first book of the series very recently, so reading Royal Assassin has been easy as I’m familiar with what has gone before.
One of the main things I like about Robin Hobb’s books so far is that she’s not particularly kind to her characters. That might sound like a weird comment, but when you know the author is going to ‘protect’ the main character, it doesn’t feel realistic. Already, FitzChivalry has endured far more than a teenager should, and we know damn well that he is only at the beginning.
I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to keep up the good pace with this book and finish this within the next few days!
On the back of last week’s Sunday Summary post, in which I shared that I had read Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes, I was recommended another book by Happy Panda.
A Thousand Ships, also written by Natalie Haynes, is a book that once again features the stories of several female characters in Greek myth affected by the Trojan war. Such stories are often dominated by the tales of heroic men, but as with Pandora’s Jar, Natalie Haynes seeks to highlight a largely unwritten perspective – that of the women.
I’ve been keeping up with scheduling my blog posts ahead of time and I’m excited to share what I have scheduled for you next week!
On Tuesday I am sharing a book review. Just over a year ago, I finished my read of my second book by C.J. Tudor, The Taking of Annie Thorne. I really enjoyed this creepy mystery/psychological thriller/horror novel, and I think readers who are fans of these genres will too! I hope you can check out my post on Tuesday, and that my post will persuade you to pick up the book for yourself!
On Friday I will be publishing my next Shelf Control post. Having taken a look at the next book on my TBR, I share why I’m looking forward to picking up a non-fiction novel with a very sinister opening line:-
“On the Saturday morning of January 9, 1993, while Jean Claude Romand was killing his wife and children, I was with mine in a parent-teacher meeting…”.
If the opening line to this true crime novel has drawn you in as much as it does me, check out my post on Friday and I’ll tell you all the reasons why I’m excited to read it!
That’s a wrap for this week’s Sunday Summary update. Have you got any current reads you would like to share or any recommendations for me?