Author: fantasyst95

Sunday Summary – 6th October 2019

My Sunday Summary posts are going to be quite busy for the next few weeks on account of Blogtober. I’m actually feeling quite good about it. At the beginning of the month it felt like a huge challenge, but I have made good progress with it already. That’s not to say it has been easy, but it’s proven how much more productive I can be when I push myself.

Blogtober officially kicked off on Tuesday, and how better than to start the month by sharing my October TBR? It’s one of my longest lists to date, but I am going on holiday shortly and I should be able to get plenty of reading done!

On Wednesday, I shared my thoughts on Thran Book I: The Birth by Brian McLaughlin. I discovered this book through Voracious Readers Only. Then, on Thursday, I published an interview with the author Brian, which accompanies the book well and gives some detail on Brian’s writing process and his advice when it comes to publishing.

Friday’s post is hardly surprising – it was a Shelf Control post featuring a book co-authored by one of my favourite authors. I have already read eighteen of this particular author’s books, compared to only two of his co-author. I am hoping the writing styles of the two complement each other. There’s only one way to find out, right?

Yesterday I published a bit of a fun post, Behind the Scenes: A Day in the Life of a Book Blogger. It gives a little insight into how I work such a time-consuming hobby around a full-time job and what fractional social life I have. Obviously, today, here we are!

 

Books Read

In last week’s Sunday Summary post I vowed that I was going to really try to finish Elantris before month-end and that I was going to start listening to Visions of Zarua in the mornings. Well, I achieved one of those things. I finished Elantris on the 1st October, and it did not disappoint! I have loved every Brandon Sanderson novel I have read to date. This was his fifth book, so he’s basically an auto-buy author at this point.

After reading such a lengthy epic, I really fancied picking up something short. To that end, I picked up the shortest book on October’s TBR – To Snare a Witch by Jay Raven. At just over 80 pages, I read this in pretty much one sitting on the 1st October as well.

I picked up Hallowed Ground on Wednesday, the first book on my TBR. I’m still quite a way off my tour date, but I wanted to have it read in good time. All my review tours fall at the end of the month so I had to bear this in mind. I finished Hallowed Ground last night, well in time for the tour date (which makes a change)! Since I am so early, I am tempted to make some notes whilst it is fresh in my head. I also need to add this read to Goodreads, as a record for the book isn’t actually on the site yet.

I have also made a cursory start on The Haunting of Paradise House by Killian Wolf. We’re only talking about 12% off the top of my head. It’s a good start, especially since I am not normally on my third book of the TBR in the first week.

I really need to give myself a kick up the backside when it comes to audiobook progress. Last week I said I was going to start listening to it more, particularly in the morning. That hasn’t consistently happened though. I think I did one day, and that’s it. My review date is getting quite close now, so I am going to have to start listening for an hour a day to have it finished in time to draft my review. Rather than mornings, I’ll see if I can listen to it whilst I am cooking tea, or in the evening before bed. I have to find a way to make it work.

 

Books Discovered

Thankfully I have been too busy to see or hear of anything new. My TBR can breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that it isn’t going to collapse under its own weight for another week.

 

Coming Up…

I feel really good about next week since I have blog posts prepared and scheduled up to and including Friday already! Here is the line up for next week’s posts: –

  • Monday 7th October – How to Write Reviews… and how I write mine!
  • Tuesday 8th October  – Top Ten Tuesday: Achievements
  • Wednesday 9th October  – Book Review: The Painted Man – Peter Brett
  • Thursday 10th October – Advertising: Is it worth it?
  • Friday 11th October – First Lines Friday
  • Saturday 12th October – Books I wish I had never read
  • Sunday 13th October – Sunday Summary

So, that’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary post. What have you been up to this week? Are you participating in Blogtober? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Behind the Scenes: A Day in the Life of a Book Blogger

For day 5 of Blogtober I wanted to write a blog post I have never even considered before. Have you ever wondered how a book blogger juggles their days to make this wonderfully time-consuming hobby work? If so, then you have come to the right place! Everyone has their own schedules and ways of making it work. Ultimately, it’s about finding what suits me and to the day I still experiment with adaptations to routine as and when required.

The Working Week…

In the typical working week, I wake up at 6:40 am. After 5-10 minutes of sulking, I drag myself out of bed and make myself look at least a little human. Sometimes I like to do this in silence, or I’ll listen to music. If I am a little time-pressured or keen to get to the end of an audiobook I will listen to that instead. It depends if I am tired though; I can’t concentrate first thing if I am tired.

We get to work at around 8:25 am; I car-share with a lady who starts work at 8:30 am but I don’t start until 9:00 am. I’ll typically spend as much of this half an hour reading as possible before I have to get ready for the working day.

I try to get out of the office, even for a little bit over lunchtime. When I am not out and about or meeting friends for lunch, I can typically be found with my head in the latest book on my TBR. Sometimes I will prepare content for a blog post instead, – it depends on my schedule.

 

After work, I give myself a break of a couple of hours before I really do anything in earnest blog-wise. This is the time I typically draft blog posts if I have one coming up. It’s the most time I have to sit down and think, although it isn’t as distraction-free as I’d like. I have had to adapt to that though; before, I was terrible at working whilst listening to music. I am a little better at that now, although not perfect…

After blog posts are written or on my evenings off I will be catching up with my reading or talking to friends and family. It varies night by night, but I can be reading at any time in between 7:30 pm and 12:30 am. I can’t read for that long without breaks, but I make a cup of tea or coffee or my lunch for the next day etc. I potter around in between spells.

 

Weekends

At the weekend, I can always rely on my good friend, the housework, to be there for me. It doesn’t take me that long though and doing bits at a time suits my preference to read in shorter bursts. If I am not doing one, you can guarantee I am looking after the other. Saturday evenings are always dedicated to reading, so in the right frame of mind, I can get a lot read on those days.

Sunday is a complete flipside to that. It’s the day I spend with family. I’ll have a quick read in the morning while having my breakfast. Then, I’l go spend the afternoon with them. I won’t look at anything blog related until at least 8:30 pm, when it is time to start drafting my Sunday Summary post! If I have any time after that, I’ll be hitting the books until it’s time for my head to hit the pillow.

So, that’s how I manage to work my hobby around my full-time job and life in general.

Is there anything you do differently? What works for you? Do you need set hours to do something or can you be flexible? Do you feel like you have to sacrifice anything in lieu of your hobby?

 

 

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Shelf Control #7 – 04/10/2019

Welcome to day 4 of Blogtober and today’s regular feature post, Shelf Control! I am going to be sharing both Shelf Control and First Lines Friday posts throughout October. In light of the recent hiatus I have had to take from these posts due to other blogging commitments, it will be good to get back on track!

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

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

I am using Shelf Control to look in further detail at the books I have added to the TBR and then listed as keepers in my Down the TBR Hole posts. I talk about why I want to keep the featured book; it also acts as a second sweep for anything that I may have changed my mind about. I won’t necessarily own all the books (yet), but I will have a reasonable number of them.

It’s week five, so let’s look at the next book on the TBR!

 

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Goodreads – Good Omens

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

 

My Thoughts…

I love Terry Pratchett’s writing – a fact I think I have already established having read no less than eighteen books of his now. Yeah, that many…

I have more mixed feelings about Neil Gaiman. I have read two books of his to date and whilst one was okay, I really didn’t like another. It’s probably the most popular book he has published too. I can see elements of American Gods in Good Omens, like the stand-off between good and evil etc. I think Pratchett will provide the humour in this partnership; something I felt was missing in American Gods. The lighter tone will sit a lot better with me, or so I am hoping.

Despite my mixed feelings about one of the co-authors, I am still looking forward to reading this book. Many of my friends have read the book and rated it highly, so I am sure I will enjoy it too!

Have you read Good Omens or is it on your TBR? What do you think of it?

 

 

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Author Interview – Brian McLaughlin

Hello everyone!

If you haven’t already checked out yesterday’s post and book review of Thran Book 1: The Birth by Brian McLaughlin, now would be a great time to do so! Today I am interviewing the author of the well-built and complex world of Thran.

Without further adieu, shall we get into it?

How did you discover writing as a passion?

Brian:-

It goes back a quite a long time, but didn’t take the form of writing, per se. It started around the age of 13 when a friend introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons. By age 15 I had evolved into the dungeon master role and never really relinquished it. I had a solid group of friends and we played through high school and college which lasted almost 9 years. As a dungeon master I wasn’t writing prose, but I was creating adventures all the time which required worlds, creativity, and the art of “telling” a story: describing situations and features to the players, building tension and managing outcomes.

I look back at that time as training to become a writer. Towards the end of that period I did begin writing a story, but I only managed 50 pages or so before I moved on to other things in life. However, it planted a seed. From there adult life took over and I embarked on an 18-year hiatus from D&D and anything close to writing. So that leads me to the true answer to your question. I’ve had a great career in business (mostly supply chain), but there was a brief time in 2012 where I found myself in a job that I didn’t find very challenging or rewarding. I remember consciously deciding that if I couldn’t get fulfillment from my work, then I would try to get fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment from some other activity. So, in June of 2012 I literally dusted off the old manuals and began creating the world of Thran with the intent of writing a novel and solving my fulfillment/accomplishment void.

Rebecca:-

I’ve never actually played Dungeons and Dragons. I spent my teenage years playing Dragon Quest, which is much like the format of the group in Thran. More recently than that though, I played countless hours on The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. It’s essentially a single player version, but you pick your character type and traits which are similar to the characters and factions in the book too.

Brian:-

When it comes to fantasy role playing games, I think you could make an argument that Gary Gygax and TSR really pioneered the genre. Each variation that came after it embellished and tweaked the basic system. The classes and monsters were all familar. In a way it’s not much different than Thran or any work of fantasy fiction after 1970; they all were inspired by D&D.

 

Obviously, Thran has a lot of overlaps with modern fantasy role-playing games. Are you an avid gamer? What did you play growing up?

Brian:-

Well, I think I answered this question above, but we dabbled in all sorts of role-playing games. The Middle Earth role playing game comes to mind and there were a variety of games we played sporadically but we always returned to D&D. I would still classify myself as an avid gamer as I like to play chess and other strategy-based games on the computer or an app. I even play DDO (Dungeons & Dragons Online) with my adult children which works our great since we can do it from wherever we are!

Rebecca:-

As I mentioned above, I’ve been a gamer since a teenager really, although I have a lot less time for it now with working full-time and managing my blog in my free time. When I do get a spare hour or two, my current game of choice is Minecraft! It’s quite easy to play as there isn’t too much in the way of storyline or quests, but you can be creative and stop/start as and when.

Brian:-

I’ve dabbled with Minecraft, but world building makes a fun game and Minecraft obviously fits that niche nicely. I grew up on games like pools of radiance which is like the great-great grandmother to Baldurs gate which is a turn based game. So I’m partial to turn based games to this day. Hearthstone has been a favored past time and recently I’ve been playing Dota Underlords. Both are addicting!

 

The story has a split narrative between present-day and historical events. Which did you enjoy writing more and why?

Brian:-

That’s like asking which of your kids you love more! 😊 Of course, I enjoyed writing both narratives, but for different reasons. If you pressed me, I will say the Anthall narrative, in book one, is more compelling for the reader because it’s a tragic story and focuses on one individual (rather than a group) and his dark journey. We feel for him, or at least I do, because of the choices he’s forced to make and his struggle with his identity. I’ll also say this: in book II I have really enjoyed writing about the “current” narrative because some of the twists and surprises I set up, but probably weren’t obvious or appreciated in book one, are starting to get revealed which draws you more deeply into that narrative. Okay, I love them both! 😊

Rebecca:-

If I had to pick a favourite, I would say I enjoyed the Anthall storyline a little more than the present day. It gives a lot of context to what’s going on… and well, I’m a sucker for all things that contribute to epic world-building.

Brian:-

I’ll be interested to see what you and other readers think of Book two. As you know, when I tell people Thran is an epic story, I’m not kidding. It’s 650 pages long, and I spend a lot of time building the characters and planting seeds. If I can get an ah-ha moment or two from readers, or even better: an “I didn’t see that coming” moment, I’ll feel really good! The world and characters are complex – they just don’t know it yet…the readers AND the characters!

 

 

There is a very extensive map of the world of Thran on your website,
https://www.worldofthran.com. How far along in the narrative did this come into creation? Has it helped you with your writing?

Brian:-

Actually, the first thing I did was create the world. Before I wrote the first word, I drew the map with the detail you see today. I also created the pantheon of gods, the calendar, and how I wanted magic to work. Speaking of magic, a lot of people forego the material requirements when they play D&D (we did back in the day) because it’s a little burdensome, but for the world of Thran, I thought the material component would add a nice level of detail and also tied in with the concept of the gods granting the spells – so the material component acted like a sacrifice when required.

Another aspect I determined from the start was the dialog. I didn’t want the dialog to be too “fantastical”. I felt that in order to keep the passion of the dialog relevant, I would sacrifice the “historical” aspect and go with more of a modern diction, including the curse-words which I felt strongly needed to stay current. When someone curses, it’s usually trying to convey a deeper context to the situation. It makes serious and tense situations more serious and tense while also making lighter moments even lighter. Using a “made up” or substitute curse could never convey to the modern reader the nuances of the situation and might just feel cheesy. However, in order to make the dialog feel a little different, aged so-to-speak, I used a little trick I came up with: never use contractions. The reader might not have noticed, but if the dialog was read out loud, it would become obvious. The map and all the other foundations I created up front helped me conceptualize the story.

 

As an author, what advice would you give to anyone looking to write a book and get published?

Brian:-

Funny you should ask! The journey for writing, editing, marketing, and publishing has been such an educational journey that I started organizing what I’ve learned and seriously considering writing another (much shorter!) book about it. My advice for writers:

1) Writing

a. Create an environment that inspires you and limits distractions. The routine will help you establish a rhythm and promote creativity.
b. Give yourself a word count to hit each day or each week, depending on how often you can write. Give yourself a little reward for hitting the count, and if you can blow it away – even better! There are gonna be many days when you can’t hit the count. Find the right balance – where it’s achievable, but not a gimme.
c. Find software for writing a novel. I used Scrivener and that has been very good. It helps me keep everything organized and easy to find for reference, not to mention it can create all the file types you need for your ebook. There are other software choices out there, so just do a little research.

2) Editing

a. Editing is a money game. It depends what you can afford. If you have the money a good editor can help you immensely, but for most Indie writers that’s not going to be an option, it wasn’t for me.

b. If having an editor is not an option, you will almost certainly need help proof-reading and correcting grammar. I hired a professional to proofread Book I and they corrected a ton of stuff. I used a service called Reedsy, and it worked out fine.

c. Family and friends. Let anyone who wants to read help with editing. I still find issues with Thran Book One today, so it feels like a never-ending process.

d. It will never be perfect, so eventually you will have to publish the book!

3) Marketing – How do you get anyone to actually read your book!? That’s such a difficult task! LOL.

a. Social media

i. This is a great way to build a following but doesn’t translate into sales very well. It’s also time intensive. You need to post once per day, but not too much more than that, and so building a following takes time unless you have a celebrity connection.

b. Book reviews & Bloggers

i. Getting your book reviewed is very important. Paying for reviews is less impressive, but if you have to it’s better than nothing.

ii. Voracious Readers Only

1. I found this to be a very good platform. It connects readers and authors and is how I am building a solid email list

c. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, others

i. This comes down to money. My experience is that Amazon has the cheapest advertising, essentially free if you do KDP, and best tools for promoting your book.
ii. I have been in KDP (amazon exclusive) so I have access to the promotional tools, but I am going to try without it for a bit and work other platforms in order to reach a wider audience.

4) Publishing

i. I didn’t go down the traditional path, but it involves finding an agent and then submitting your work to a lot of publishing houses.

ii. I do know this:

1. Cover

a. You’ll need to hook up with an artist unless you can create a cover yourself, which I think would be rare. Today’s art world is ruled by digital art, and depending on the size of your book and the number of pages, it’s not an easy job getting the cover just right.

2. If you decide to go the traditional route – DO NOT self-publish first. Everything I read, most publishers won’t work with manuscripts that are already published. So if you go the traditional route – find an agent and go from there.

3. Self-publishing

a. eBooks

i. These are pretty straight forward, you just submit them to the site, pick a royalty program and you’re off…well, you still need a cover.

b. Hard copies

i. You definitely need a cover and it needs to be very exact in the dimensions of the cover which includes the spine and the back art.

ii. Actually printing books.

1. I haven’t cracked the code yet on this. Printed copies are very expensive unless you’re willing to invest in quite a bit of inventory.
2. Amazon is the best. They print on-demand and ship it direct, so no inventory and their printing costs are 30% lower than any other place I found searching the internet.

 

You have already covered a lot of ground in your experience and it’s invaluable to other hopeful authors out there! I really hope you do publish your advice. No doubt it will come in useful for a lot of people!

Amazon, like they have in so many other ways, has broken down the traditional walls to getting a book published. Which is great, but there isn’t any great manual for new writers to reference. So when someone writes a book, the feeling is like: “now what?” There are soooo many choices out there it creates an analysis paralysis. I hope I can help a few people out!

About the Book

Part one of a three part series, Thran Book I: The Birth, tells of an adventure undertaken by a young group of friends living in the world of Thran, within the kingdom of Kardoon.  Three long years after his father went off to war, never to return, Brutal Mixnor decides to venture out into the wilds of Thran to find the truth surrounding his father’s disappearance.  Unwilling to let Brutal head out alone, his long-time friends and some new acquaintances, each with their own unique set of skills and reasons for going, head out with him.  Their decision to uncover the truth sets in motion the epic tale with all the crucial elements of betrayal, love, companionship, secrets, sacrifice, good, evil, tragedy, death, and triumph.

Source:

www.worldofthran.com

Book Review: Thran Book 1 – Brian McLaughlin

For day 2 of Blogtober I am sharing a book review of Thran Book 1: The Birth, which was sent to me by Voracious Readers Only in exchange for review. Thank you to them and to the author, Brian McLaughlin, who I have been working closely with lately. In addition to today’s review, I will also be sharing an interview with Brian tomorrow. In that post we talk about the fictional world of Thran, the influences behind the book and Brian also shares some of his knowledge and experiences in publishing.

That’s for you to look forward to tomorrow! Today’s post is all about the book, and my honest thoughts on it.

 

Thran Book 1: The Birth

Goodreads – Thran Book 1: The Birth

Set in the mythical world of Thran, a young warrior named Brutal Mixnor sets out on an adventure to uncover the truth about his father’s mysterious disappearance after a battle years earlier. Some longtime friends and new acquaintances join him in his search, each with their own reasons for braving the danger-filled wilds of the Cruel Pass. Follow the young adventurers and watch as their powers grow, along with the strength of the enemies they encounter. Discover the complex, imperfect, characters of all races, comprising the full spectrum of alignments (good, neutral, and evil) that weave their way into and out of the story, leaving their mark on the reader as the world of Thran is pushed towards cataclysmic war and suffering.

For readers familiar with the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons(R), Thran Book I: The Birth will feel like a warm wave of nostalgia washing over you, and the unfamiliar will get a glimpse of what it’s like to be immersed into the heart of an adventure that transports you into a world where magic abounds and almost anything is possible, but nothing is certain. Visit https: //www.worldofthran.com/ to learn more about the world of Thran, including: character portraits, the world map, the pantheon of deities, and more!

 

Purchase Links:  Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

When I say Thran is an epic fantasy book, I am not kidding! At 655 pages, this novel stands its ground in the fantasy genre. If you enjoy role-playing games you will recognise the format of the narrative and character types. The structure of the narrative is like Dungeons and Dragons, or perhaps a more modern example, Dragon Quest.

One of the biggest factors that I judge fantasy novels on is the world-building. It was very clear to me from the beginning that a lot of work has gone into developing the world and framing the narrative. The detail illustrates an advanced world, without being excessive or stalling the storyline at any point. This is consistent throughout so the pace of the narrative and balance between action/information is achieved.

The only place I would suggest that there was a little too much detail for me is in the combat scenes. It’s probably a matter of personal preference, but I envisage these as being a little punchier (excuse the pun!) What I will say is that evidently Brian has sequenced these out before committing pen to paper. I was a lot more interested in the continuation of the plot and development of the storyline, so I confess I started to skim-read some of these.

I really enjoyed the dual timeline structure and the narrative of Anthall, perhaps slightly more than the present-day narrative. This contributes to a lot of the historical side of the world-building, and there are subtle ties to the present-day if you can pick up the clues! Having the two intertwining storylines breaks up each storyline so as not to become too lengthy. It makes a refreshing change to read the different perspective. It is too early for what I think will be a complex storyline to be experienced by one set of characters without a rushed conclusion.

I am interested to see how the storyline will pan out throughout the rest of the series. Thran Book 1 provides a strong foundation to a unique fantasy tale and there is plenty more to explore in the world of Thran.

 

 

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Reading List: October 2019

Hello spooky friends! It’s time to share this month’s reading list – and it’s a bumper one! I am going on holiday with my lovely sister a little later this month and I’m crossing my fingers for lovely sunshine and some R&R – reading and relaxation time!

A combination of blog tours and a few reads of my own choice to check off the list make for a busy month. In order to keep up with this list, I am looking at having to read an average of 59 pages a day. Combine this with taking part in Blogtober, and you’ll see that I don’t like to make my life easy!

It’s a good job I like a challenge right? Are you ready to check out the books on this month’s TBR?

 

Hallowed Ground: The Mystery of the African Fairy Circles – Paul Twivy

 

This magical story is inspired by the most haunting and least explored country in the world – Namibia – with its foggy Skeleton Coast, buried goldmines, shocking secrets and awe-inspiring sand dunes.

Spread across the face of its deserts are hundreds of miles of ‘fairy circles’ : vast enough to be seen from space.  They grow and die with the same lifespan as humans, yet no-one has been able to explain why or how they appear.

Then one day, three teenagers and their families arrive from different parts of the globe. Helped by bushmen, the buried possessions of a Victorian explorer, and a golden leopard, they solve the mystery of the African Circles. What will be discovered beneath the hallowed ground? And how will it change the future of the planet above it?

 

My blog tour post isn’t until the end of the month, but I am prioritising reading these books first.

The synopsis is both unusual and intriguing for this book; it’s what drew my attention to it. The blog tour has been extended too, so it has grabbed a lot of bloggers attention. The book also has some sci-fi elements to it, so I can’t wait to see how this ties into the book!

 

To Snare a Witch: Book 1 – Bell, Book and Candle – Jay Raven

Goodreads – To Snare a Witch

A chilling historical tale of lust, sorcery and devastating revenge.

No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.

But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty, intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe. What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust at any cost and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.

And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil…

 

I am reading this novella for a blog tour as well, one day after Hallowed Ground. The end of the month is packed with reviews – four in four days!

At 85 pages, this one is comparatively short so I can probably read it in one sitting. I really enjoyed reading Game of Crones, also by Jay Raven earlier this year. The writing style of Game of Crones suited me really well and I devoured it quickly. I trust I will be able to read To Snare a Witch in good time too.

 

The Haunting of Paradise House – Killian Wolf

Goodreads – The Haunting at Paradise House

If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?

When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House.

Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves.

Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?

 

I have the pleasure of reviewing this mystical, arcane novel on none other than Halloween (or Hop Tu Naa here). It feels very appropriate to be reading books with spooky and sinister goings-on this month. How could I refuse this blog tour spot?

 

After Whorl: Bran Reborn – Nancy Jardine

Goodreads – After Whorl: Bran Reborn

RAVAGED BY WAR …AD 71. After the battle at Whorl, Brennus of Garrigill is irrevocably changed. Returning to Marske, Ineda finds her grandmother dead, though Brennus is not. Snared by a Roman patrol, they are marched to Witton where he is forced to labour for the Roman IX Legion. Embracing his new identity as Bran, Brennus vows to avert Roman occupation of northernmost Brigantia. Ineda becomes his doughty spying accomplice, though sometimes she’s too impetuous. Trading with the Romans lends excellent opportunities for information gathering. Over time, Bran’s feelings for Ineda mar with his loyalty to Ineda’s father. When she disappears, and cannot be found, Bran enters direct service with Venutius, King of the Brigantes.

 

If I want a rest after Blogtober then I have to go a few days longer before I can get it! After Whorl Bran Reborn is my last blog tour read of the month, with a tour date of 1st November. I recently read the first book in the series, The Beltane Choice. I enjoyed reading about a completely new period in British history. This book picks up after the events of the first book and I cannot wait to see how the story progresses.

 

Circe – Madeline Miller

Goodreads – Circe

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

 

I first took an interest in Greek Mythology earlier this year, reading Mythos by Stephen Fry. There are a lot of good reviews of Circe, and it won a Goodreads Choice award last year. I bought a physical copy of the book earlier this year and I am taking this on holiday with me. Given the choice, I like a mix of e-books and physical ones – it’s not so large that it’ll compromise my luggage space.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

 

I bought my copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone at the same time as Circe. Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer duology was absolutely fantastic! I wouldn’t describe myself as a champion of YA literature; I don’t read all that much of it, but I adored these! Based on my love of those, it was a no-brainer decision to try her other books. This also isn’t too large, so it’s coming away with me!

 

Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads – Imaginary Friend

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.

Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend. The epic work of literary horror from the #1 bestselling author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.

 

I won a Netgalley download of Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky. Given the nature of the book, it’s appropriate to wrap up with this book for Hop Tu Naa. Doesn’t it sound really creepy?! It reminds me a little of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary with the whole small town and sinister forest vibe. I loved that book. I wonder how it will compare.

So, seven books… I think that’s got to be one of the longest reading lists I have set for myself. Have you read any of these books? What spooky reads are you reading this autumn?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 29th September 2019

We’re at the end of another week and it’s time for my Sunday Summary post again! Where is this year going? Someone, please tell me… I’m genuinely interested. The nights are drawing in and the clocks will be changing soon. It’s probably my favourite time of year – I like to shut the dark out and get cosy in the evenings. I just wish it was a bit… drier. With the remnants of a hurricane heading our way in the next day or two, it doesn’t look like that is going to happen!!

Shall we take a look back at what I have been up to this week?

On Monday I had a lot of fun writing my Reader Problems Book Tag. It’s been a little while since I have taken part in a tag and written a little about myself, so it was overdue. I enjoyed reading other bloggers’ responses to the questions asked, so I hope you enjoy reading mine too!

Then, on Wednesday, I shared my book review of Simon Says by Jo Wesley for the organised blog tour. If you haven’t read my review already then please do; I absolutely loved this book and it’s my second favourite of the year (so far)! It covers a harrowing subject but does so really well. I’m already confident that I will re-read this book in years to come.

Finally on Friday, after nearly a month of other commitments, I shared a First Lines Friday post. My chosen book was perhaps a little bit predictable, but I just can’t stop talking about it! I make no apologies!

 

Books Read

I have spent this week with all my attention on Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. As of my last update in last week’s Sunday Summary post, I had read 20% of the book. Considering the length of this book (just over 600 pages) I’ve done well to get to 74%. I’m going to be making a real push to finish this in the next day to two as a new month is upon us. You know what that means… a new reading list!

I’ve been a little better with making progress with Visions of Zarua this week. That said, I am going to have to up my game and listen for longer a day if I want to have my review ready in time for the blog tour. I need to get back into the habit of listening to audiobooks when getting ready in the morning. That extra half an hour really makes a difference. I managed it to finish listening to Six of Crows, so I can do it again.

 

Books Discovered

I have another addition to the TBR this week. After reading some fabulous reviews, and in light of the spooky season, I have added The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware to the list. I have also suggested it to our company’s book club for the October Read of the month as it’s a psychological thriller.

 

Coming Up…

Things are about to go a little bit crazy and I have no idea if I am ready for it. I have been blogging for two and a half years now, and the last couple of years I have laughed at the idea of Blogtober. Who could possibly post every day for a month?

Well, I am hoping I can. I am a more active blogger than I have ever been before, and I like a challenge. So, I’ve decided to try Blogtober! This can either go really well or disastrously wrong, but I want to try. I also have a holiday coming up very shortly to take into account, so… this is going to be fun?

It’s going to be fine. Totally fine. I have a plan. This is how week one of Blogtober is going to look:-

  • Tuesday 1st October – October Reading List
  • Wednesday 2nd October – Book Review: Thran Book 1: The Birth
  • Thursday 3rd October – Author Interview: Brian McLaughlin
  • Friday 4th October – Shelf Control
  • Saturday 5th October – A Day in the life of a Book Blogger
  • Sunday 6th October- Sunday Summary

 

Are you taking part in Blogtober? Do you have any tips for me? Otherwise, what have you been reading this week? Please drop a comment below!

 

 

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First Lines Friday – 27/09/2019

Happy Friday everyone! It’s nearly the end of the week and I am so excited for the weekend! Not only that, but today is also the Macmillan’s Coffee Morning and I am organising today’s event at work. By the time you are reading this, I’ll probably have tucked into a cheeky slice (or two)!

As ever, I’m back again with my (mostly) regular fortnightly feature post – First Lines Friday. If you want to sample something new without the bias of a front cover, then you have come to the right place!

Which book am I featuring today?

 

Only dead people are allowed to have statues, but I have been given one while still alive. Already I am petrified.

This statue was a small token of appreciation for my many contributions, said the citation, which was read out by Aunt Vidala. She’d been assigned the task by our supervisors, and was far from appreciative. I thanked her with as much modesty as I could summon, then pulled the rope that released the cloth drape shrouding me; it billowed to the ground, and there I stood. We don’t do cheering here at Ardua Hall, but there was some discreet clapping. I inclined my head in a nod.

 

 

 

You may have guessed what book this is already… and I will not stop talking about it! I finished reading it only recently and I wanted to share the opening with you. Whilst not full of action, the opening reflects the introspective nature of a character that has helped to build a corrupt society and risen to power as a result – well, as much as women can anyway…

Hers is just one perspective out of three in this fantastic novel. Would you like to find out what it is?

 

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

Goodreads – The Testaments

In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” –Margaret Atwood.

 

Is The Testaments on your TBR? Have you read it already like me? As always, I would love to hear from you!!

 

 

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Blog Tour Book Review: Simon Says – Jo Wesley

Guys, I am so excited to be sharing my thoughts with you about Simon Says by Jo Wesley! I loved it from the minute I picked it up! I finished it in six days but I still couldn’t read it fast enough!

Before I jump into this review with all enthusiasm, I’d like to begin this post by saying thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me onto the tour!

 

Simon Says

Goodreads – Simon Says

Her life may not be perfect but she’s happy. Until she makes a terrible decision – and learns the hard way that home is not a place of refuge.

Not while Simon lurks in every shadow.

He groomed her as a teen: terrorised her into fleeing, leaving her baby behind. Now the man who destroyed her childhood has become the perfect father to her teenage daughter. And her return threatens his future.

A desperate man is a dangerous one.

Simon says she must leave or suffer the consequences. She refuses.

Now it’s his move. Because it’s not enough to face your demons.

Sometimes, you must destroy them.

 

Purchase Links –  Amazon UK      Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

As soon as I finished reading this book I rated it the second-best I have read this year. Out of just over 50 books, that’s no mean feat. Regular readers will know how much of a fan I am of Margaret Atwood and I have been raving about reading The Testaments. It is probably THE THING I have been looking forward to the most this year. I picked up my copy of The Testaments on the 10th September, fully expecting to set all other books aside to devour it. But I couldn’t. I had to know how the story and events of Simon Says panned out. I consciously CHOSE to keep reading this magnificent psychological thriller over picking up The Testaments. Let me tell you why.

You know in your gut what happened to this poor girl from the very beginning… why she was forced away from her home and her family to start again. Cindy, aka Karis is very much down on her luck. After surviving a close shave with death, she takes her children to the only other place she knows – her old family home. Back where it all happened, Cindy is forced to face her demons, the neighbours, and Simon.

The narrative is split in two; half the chapters narrate the story of Cindy as a fourteen year old girl and the other half in present day. Each timeline unfolds in a way that spurs you on to read the next chapter to find out what happens next. It is horrifying to watch Simon manipulate Cindy by buying her trust, pushing the boundaries further and further until he does the unthinkable. It’s awful and disgusting to know what happened to her… but you can’t help reading more. Thankfully, we are spared some details of the event, but we know exactly how it made Cindy feel once she realised what had happened later on.

What is more harrowing is that this happens to people, anyone, but especially children. When families don’t believe (or don’t want to believe) the truth then the victim suffers all the more. This book takes you on a real rollercoaster ride of emotions – upset, anger, pity and a lust for vengeance and justice on Cindy’s behalf.

I was captivated from start to finish. You would hope that very few people could ever have been in Cindy’s position and lived through the abuse and torment she has. That said, she is completely relatable as a woman. The trauma she has experienced hasn’t affected her so much that it serves to alienate her. If anything, it has empowered her. Over ten years have passed since the fateful event, but becoming a mother has brought out a strength in her that she didn’t have back then – the desire to protect her own children from the man that ruined her life.

I cannot stress enough just how fantastic this book is! It’s on my list of books to re-read and I’ll definitely read more books by Jo Wesley.

 

Author Bio –

SIMON SAYS isn’t my first thriller. Several unpublished novels went before it, but there was something about this story that made me come back to it time-and-time again. Although it was written in 2015, recently a few author friends encouraged me to publish it as they remembered reading it years before.

I used to work in an office where the wider team comprised people working with drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and general community safety. I wrote SIMON SAYS during this period and my team provided information and advice. Also, the Red Watch team at the local fire station read my first chapter during their tea break and advised on a couple of points to make it more accurate (I thought it would be one person, not the whole team reading it!).

Currently, I am completing a novel in another genre but I really enjoy writing thrillers, so I am planning my next one.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JoWwriter 

 

Reader Problems Book Tag

I decided to take part in a Reader Problems book tag today as a means of doing something a little but fun! It has been absolutely ages since I have done one of these and I really enjoyed Joleen at Starlight Book Tales’ take on the post!

So, what is my take on these 11 reader problems?

  1. You have 20,000 books in your TBR, how in the world do you decide what to read next?

I try to make an effort to read some of the older books on my TBR first, but it doesn’t always work out that way. I’m quite a balanced reader overall, but if I feel the overwhelming urge to pick up something specific (title or genre) then I will. If I’m in a mood-read state of mind then I’m not going to concentrate on the book I am “supposed to be” reading anyway.

 

  1. You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you put it down or are you committed?

It really depends. There’s not loving it and there is REALLY NOT LOVING IT. It’s rare I pick up a book that falls into the latter category, but if sitting down and picking up a certain book feels like a chore then I will really question what I am doing and DNF it.

 

  1. The end of the year is coming and you’re behind on your reading challenge, do you try to catch up? And if so, how?

I have never really been in this situation before, but I would probably deliberately pick up shorter books or novellas to try and get that count up!! I mean, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter how many books you read, it’s that you enjoy the ones you do. But I totally get it. There’s a degree of pride in being able to say you met that target!

 

  1. The covers of a series you love do not match, how do you cope?

It’s a slight annoyance but it’s not something that would bug me every day… just once in a while. The best thing to do is try and wait until the series is complete and editions of the book are made to match.

 

  1. Everyone and their mother loves a book that you do not. Who do you bond with over your shared feelings?

No one really. If everyone likes a book and I don’t then that’s fair game. I’ll express my opinion and I don’t need the validation of others thinking the same to justify myself.

That said, it is highly unlikely you won’t come across someone in the blogosphere that is of the same opinion as you.

 

  1. You’re reading a book in public and you’re about to start crying. How do you deal?

I recently had this with Me Before You at work. The simple answer is ABORT MISSION! Do not read! I save it for when I get home and no-one can laugh or judge me for the puffy red eyes and being a soft shite.

 

  1. The sequel to a book you loved just came out but you’ve forgotten a lot of what happens. Are you going to reread it?

If I really love a book that much there probably isn’t too much I forget. I quite enjoy re-reading books though, as I’ve proven with re-reading almost all books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series over the last year. I’m definitely more likely to re-read than re-cap online.

 

  1. You do not want anyone to borrow your books, how do you politely say no when someone asks?

I agree with Starlight on this, I’d just say no and suggest a visit to the library. That is what they are there for after all…

 

  1. You have picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over this reading slump?

I would either try a re-read of a book I know I absolutely love or failing that, step away for a little while. Pick up another hobby. I really enjoy crocheting (yes, you read that right…) or playing video games. We all need a break sometimes.

 

  1. There are so many books coming out that you are dying to read, how many do you end up buying?

It really depends on the format. As a general rule, I try to only buy physical copies of books from authors I love love LOVE. Otherwise, it’s an e-book copy on my kindle. Naturally physical books are more expensive so there would be fewer of these compared to e-books in the scenario.

As it happens, I don’t TEND to read books as soon as they come out…(she says having bought and binge-read The Testaments in a matter of 12 days earlier this month).

 

  1. After you purchase all of these books that you’re dying to read how long do they sit on your shelves before you get to them?

A lot of the books can be sat there for a while. Sorry! I have so many books on the TBR and such temptation to take part in blog tours. I wish I had more hours in the day, but I don’t. I just have to keep struggling on and the books will have to keep waiting their turn.

How do you handle these bookish problems? If you think this is a fun tag to take part in then – TAG!! I would love to see your answers!

 

 

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