Author: fantasyst95

Shelf Control #74 – 09/02/2024

For those of us done with another working week – congrats on making it! If not, well, sorry… 😅 As you all know by now, I regularly share a Shelf Control feature post. It’s a great way to get excited about upcoming books on my reading list and share with you exactly what inspired me to add them in the first place!

As usual, I’ll share the official blurb and then we’ll get into the book that’s made it into this Shelf Control post!

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

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

 

The Woman Who Would be King – Kara Cooney

 

Genre: Non-fiction / History

Pages: 298

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Crown Publishing

Publication Date: 14 Oct 2014

 

 

Goodreads – The Woman Who Would be King

An engrossing biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt and the story of her audacious rise to power in a man’s world.

Hatshepsut, the daughter of a general who took Egypt’s throne without status as a king’s son and a mother with ties to the previous dynasty, was born into a privileged position of the royal household. Married to her brother, she was expected to bear the sons who would legitimize the reign of her father’s family. Her failure to produce a male heir was ultimately the twist of fate that paved the way for her inconceivable rule as a cross-dressing king. At just twenty, Hatshepsut ascended to the rank of king in an elaborate coronation ceremony that set the tone for her spectacular twenty-two year reign as co-regent with Thutmose III, the infant king whose mother Hatshepsut out-maneuvered for a seat on the throne. Hatshepsut was a master strategist, cloaking her political power plays with the veil of piety and sexual expression. Just as women today face obstacles from a society that equates authority with masculinity, Hatshepsut had to shrewdly operate the levers of a patriarchal system to emerge as Egypt’s second female pharaoh.

Hatshepsut had successfully negotiated a path from the royal nursery to the very pinnacle of authority, and her reign saw one of Ancient Egypt’s most prolific building periods. Scholars have long speculated as to why her images were destroyed within a few decades of her death, all but erasing evidence of her rule. Constructing a rich narrative history using the artifacts that remain, noted Egyptologist Kara Cooney offers a remarkable interpretation of how Hatshepsut rapidly but methodically consolidated power—and why she fell from public favor just as quickly. The Woman Who Would Be King traces the unconventional life of an almost-forgotten pharaoh and explores our complicated reactions to women in power.

 

My Thoughts

This is the second non-fiction book that I have featured in this series already in 2024. The last book was based around the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Today’s feature is a completely different period and topic, but it’s one that I’m no less excited to read.

Unlike my previous feature Auschwitz, I have a lot less knowledge on Egyptian pharaohs in general. I have watched some documentaries in the past, but it’s not a topic I have read about before. It’s for this reason that I added The Woman Who Would be King in the first place. Of course, I am also fascinated by the prospect of a female Pharaoh as they were few and far between.

Hatshepsut isn’t the first name that may jump to your mind when you think of famous female Pharaohs. Cleopatra is probably the most well-known, and she has been the feature of some of the documentaries I have watched in the past. I deliberately wanted to choose another famous female in order to broaden my knowledge.

I’m hoping I go on to enjoy this book as much as I think I will, as it is a period of history I would be interested in exploring in more detail in future!

Have you read The Woman Who Would be King or any other great non-fiction books about Pharaohs?

 

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Book Review: Lost Solace – Karl Drinkwater

In November last year, I finally picked up Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater. For months I tried to get to the book, but didn’t quite get there. Having read and reviewed numerous books in his Lost Tales of Solace series already, I was excited to finally see how they intertwined with the main series he has written.

If you enjoy fast-paced science-fiction and are interested in diving into a new series, then Lost Solace won’t disappoint!

Let’s take a look at the book!

 

Lost Solace – Karl Drinkwater

Genre: Science-fiction

Pages: 287

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Organic Apocalypse

Publication Date: 15 Oct 2017

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads –  Lost Solace

 

They’re called the Lost Ships … but sometimes they come back.

And when they do the crews are missing, while the ships have been strangely altered, rumoured to be full of horrors.

Opal Imbiana has been seeking something her whole life. It’s a secret so precious she’s willing to risk her life recovering it from a recently discovered Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.

She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But with the aid of an amazing AI companion and experimental armoured suit, Opal might just stand a chance.

This blast of a book kickstarted the much-loved Lost Solace series, about an unlikely friendship between two women who keep hope alive in the darkest of times.

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

If you enjoy fast paced and action-led plots, then Lost Solace is a book you won’t want to miss! Full of twists and turns, within is a compelling storyline in which we explore interesting facets of the lore in this world.

Opal is determined to explore the hostile environment of a re-emerged Lost Ship. Not only does she have the local environment to overcome, but she is also challenged by other humans on her quest for discovery. With an AI, Clarissa, on her side, she sets out to do what would appear to be impossible.

In a race against time, will Opal and Clarissa prevail? 

 

Setting

The Lost Ship is an eerie setting that we get to explore throughout the narrative. Whilst Opal and Clarissa feel very isolated in their quest, they are far from alone. If the local hostile environment wasn’t enough to contend with, Opal is being hunted down.

The tension and atmosphere Karl Drinkwater incorporates into this already busy narrative is impressive. Although the book overall is very action-led, there is enough world-building and description incorporated into the narrative to construct the deserted and eerie atmosphere present throughout.

 

Characters

Lost Solace is told from the perspective of two strong female leads. The first of these is Opal. She is a strong and inquisitive individual, empowered by her determination and force of will. Opal is accompanied by an AI known as Clarissa. She is incredibly smart – as can only be expected from a supercomputer. However, this isn’t just where her strengths lie.

For artificial intelligence, she is full of humour and dry wit. It’s a facet of personality that I only expected from her character as a result of reading Helene, and it works very well. It makes her stand out and adds depth to her personality. The interactions between Opal and Clarissa are hilarious to read. They break up the action in the book, making for a well-rounded read.

As a little extra, we also get to see characters from Karl Drinkwater’s other Lost Tales of Solace series. It was fun to see the overlap and get to revisit some of these individuals!

 

Narrative Style

Lost Solace has an easy to read, flowing narrative style. It is written in such a way that the book is approachable for readers of all levels and experience. Although a science-fiction book, the content isn’t so technologically advanced that readers are unable to understand what’s going on. It strikes up just the right balance of setting the scene, but also being clear and descriptive so no presumed knowledge is required.

At under 300 pages, it is also a quick read. I am a fast reader anyway, but a book of this length is definitely approachable for anyone interested in the genre, and for any level of commitment.

 

Summary

I am a fan of science-fiction, so I was never not going to love Lost Solace. It is the first book in a series that I will be continuing with as soon as possible!

Lastly, I cannot help but share the dedication that Karl includes in the opening of this book. I loved it!

To strong women everywhere, at all times. 

 

Have you read Lost Solace, or any other books by Karl Drinkwater?

 

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Sunday Summary – 4th February 2024

Evening all and welcome to my Sunday Summary update for this week! It’s been a busy week with blog posts as it’s the beginning of the month. This is my fourth post of the week so far! Normally I’d spread the posts out over the week, but the way timing has worked out, they’re all at latter end.

My first post of the week was my monthly wrap-up for January, which was shared on Thursday. I read seven books in full in January, with plenty of variety in there! If you are interested to see what books I picked up, that’s the post to check out.

On Friday, I took part in a blog tour post for Sword of Vengeance by Peter Gibbons. In that post, I shared my thoughts on this fourth instalment in the series. If you’re following the series and want to find out more, you can see my thoughts in my review above.

Yesterday, I shared my February TBR. With a long reading list completed in January, I set myself another ambitious list to keep up momentum. If you want to find out what I’m reading this month, you can find a link to my reading list using the link above.

 

Books Read

 

The Black Coats

This week I picked up The Black Coats by Colleen Oakes. I intended to read this in January, but I ended up finishing the book a couple of days ago.

As a contemporary fiction, it was quite a quick read. I enjoyed the feminist angle on the narrative and how the plot line progressed. It was a fun read, and although not too long, there was enough in there to help me invested in the characters and plot.

There is also plenty of action in the book to keep it moving forward. My reading pace with this book was naturally quite quick as the constantly moving and unfolding narrative kept me wanting to read more!

 

The Atlas Six

I’ve also made a little progress with The Atlas Six this week. As of this Sunday Summary, I’m still at the stage of getting to know the main characters and the set up of the book. However, I’m intrigued by everything I have listened to so far and I’m really enjoying the production.

I like how each of the main characters have been cast separately, as they are easy to identify and each have their own distinct voices and personalities. I’m not picky when it comes to audiobooks in terms of casting, or whether it is narrated by multiple people or not. However, I do seem to be enjoying multi-cast audiobooks a little more.

I’m looking forward to listening to more of this in the coming week!

 

Books Discovered

It’s another clean bill this week with no new books added to my reading list! As I’ve also finished The Black Coats, as of today’s post the reading list is at a mere 195 books to read.

Not many then…

 

Coming Up…

My first blog post of next week will be a book review. Since reading the book in November 2023, I’ve intended to share my review of Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater. I have read and reviewed multiple books in a side series of Karl’s previously. If you like science-fiction then make sure you check out my review in the coming days!

On Friday, I’ll be back with another Friday feature. This week, it is the turn of Shelf Control. If you are unfamiliar with the series, it encourages me to review upcoming books on my reading list and share why I’m looking forward to them. It’s proved a great way of whittling down the reading list behind the scenes if I’ve changed my mind on something since I added it. Otherwise, it hypes me to pick it up. Hopefully soon, but then I do have a lot to read so I can’t always promise that…

Lastly, you know that I’ll be back with another Sunday Summary at the same time next week.

Until then, happy reading!

 

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Monthly TBR – February 2024

I have a great reading list line up for February, and today, I’m sharing that with you in this monthly TBR post!

I had a great start to the year in terms of reading progress in January. I recapped this in Thursday’s post, if you’re interested in checking that out. Trying to keep momentum, I’m setting myself another good size list as that seems to be motivating me at the moment. I have a re-read, some non-fiction and a conclusion to a series on the list. All these go towards my reading goals of 2024!

Shall we take a look at the list?

 

Fixed Reads

 

January Insta Poll – The Atlas Six

I might as well kick off this monthly TBR post by starting with my one carryover from January. I started listening to The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake at the end of the month, and to date, I’m just over 10% through.

So far, I am only really just in the introduction of the book, but I am enjoying it so far. I’m looking forward to listening to more of this audio as I’m enjoying the casting and overall production of it so far. The story definitely has interesting elements to learn about and I’m looking forward to exploring this more.

 

Insta Poll – The Queen’s Gambit

The runner-up to the Insta Poll I ran in January was The Queen’s Gambit. I like to try and read one a month, although The Atlas Six has bled over into February.

I watched the Netflix series years ago, so I am somewhat familiar with the story. However, it’s not so fresh in my mind, that reading the book will feel too much like repetition. I did really enjoy that series, so I have high hopes for this book.

It’s a shorter than I expected considering the length of the series, but I’m sure it will be good nonetheless.

 

The Icepick Surgeon

I discovered the The Icepick Surgeon via a fellow book blogger I follow on Instagram. Bibliobeth shared her intention to pick The Icepick Surgeon up in March this year. I like the sound of the book so much that I intend to pick it up now. Naturally, I want to keep up momentum with reading non-fiction as that is a reading goal this year.

I like the sound of this one as it covers, to an extent, subjects I enjoyed in psychology. You may call me morbid if you wish, but I found it both fascinating and horrifying. If you’re squeamish, then it may not want to go into too much detail. I’m ready for it though, and I’m looking forward to picking it up.

 

Heart of the Sun Warrior

Heart of the Sun Warrior is the sequel in the Daughter of the Moon Goddess duology. I read daughter of the moon goddess just over a year ago now so it feels like the right time to conclude the series. As you are probably aware, wrapping up series is one of my goals for this year. As I have just one book to read to complete, it’s an easy win… and what I’m looking forward to in any case.

What I liked about this first book is the Asian influence on fantasy as opposed to Western. I read a lot of westernised fantasy and I’m deliberately trying to branch out.

 

TBR Jar – Master of Sorrows

I’m not consciously trying to start new series, particularly this year, but the TBR jar has forced my hand. This time I pulled out Master of Sorrows by Justin Call.

I have a good few friends on Goodreads to have picked this up and really enjoyed the book. More specifically, though, it was the thoughts of Ashleigh that persuaded me to add the book to my reading list in June 2022.

Full of magic, a villain origin story arch and disability representation, it is a fantasy that offers some different elements to those I read normally.

 

Mood Reads

 

Hogfather

If I’d realised that Hogfather was the next Discworld book I needed to pick up, I would have been more proactive and read it in December. However, I didn’t, and I’m not waiting a whole year to keep going with the series!

I’m especially looking forward to reading Hogfather, as it is the fourth book in the death mini-series. If you are unfamiliar, the various books in the Discworld universe follow different types of characters. My favourite is The Witches series so far, but it is closely followed by Death.

I also love these books because they are satirical. It’s not a genre I read Emma, but I do enjoy the humorous plot, which is usually laced with a serious underlying topic or message underneath.

 

Fool’s Errand

It’s been a few months since I’ve picked up a book in the Realm of the Elderlings series. I wrapped up The Liveship Traders series in August last year and so it’s time to return.

With the next book, Fool’s Errand, we journey back to familiar characters from the first trilogy. I’m looking forward to revisiting those characters and seeing what happens next. I believe events jump forward in time from the first trilogy, so I have some catching up to do on what happened in between.

 

Empire of the Vampire

The last book to feature on this monthly TBR is a reread of a book I read in 2022. If you are unaware, the sequel to Empire of the Vampire is due out at the end of this month. With this in mind, I’m looking to pick up this first book in the series as a refresher, so then I can go onto to read Empire of the Damned – hopefully in March.

Whilst I could have just read a recap, I have since been gifted a special addition, copy of the book, and it will be rude not to appreciate it, right?!

 

Summary

I may only have eight books on February‘s reading list, as opposed to the 10 I featured in January’s monthly TBR. However, I read just under eight books in January, and some of these are longer than those I picked up last month too.

There is enough on this list to be a stretch without being too overzealous either. I’m looking forward to each of every book on this list, and I hope you can stick around for my thoughts and my reading progress.

For now though, that’s all from me in today’s monthly TBR post. Have you read any of the books on this list?

 

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Blog Tour Review: Sword of Vengeance – Peter Gibbons

I feel especially privileged to bring you a review of Sword of Vengeance on both publication day and for the opening leg of this blog tour!

I’ve had the pleasure to feature two out of the three previous books in the series as part of tours – Warrior and Protector and Brothers of the Sword. I would have featured the second book in the series, Storm of War as well, if not for my oversight of missing the tour invite! This is a great historical fiction series to pick up if you love your Viking era literature.

Before we get into my review, I always take the opportunity to say thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, and to the author, Peter Gibbons for the opportunity to review the book as part of the tour.

 

Sword of Vengeance – Peter Gibbons

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages:

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 02 Feb 2024

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – Sword of Vengeance

In the aftermath of the great battle of Maldon, justice is demanded and vengeance will be served!

992AD

King Aethelred’s the Unready’s army has been defeated at the historic Battle of Maldon by Viking invaders led by Olaf Tryggvason and King Sweyn Forkbeard.

The strategic turning point of the battle was when Godric, an East Saxon Thegn, fled the battlefield taking with him the Saxon army, leaving behind his brothers to be massacred in a welter of blood and Norse axe blades.

Saxon warrior Beornoth emerges from the ashes of defeat with his heart aflame with vengeance and when King Aethelred sends for Bernoth with orders to punish those traitors responsible for the crushing defeat, he heeds the king’s call.

With a small band of loyal warriors, Bernoth embarks on an unforgiving journey across the perilous landscape to seek out Godric and exact his bloody revenge. They must fight their way through a world teeming with political intrigue, shifting alliances and the ever-present threat of the Vikings.

Can Beornoth triumph over insurmountable odds in this pulse pounding quest for retribution?

If you enjoyed The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell, you’ll love Beornoth’s Quest for Vengeance!

 

Purchase Link

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

Sword of Vengeance is a fact-paced and action-packed narrative. That’s hardly surprising as the precedent was set from the get-go in this series, Warrior and Protector.

Events of the book pick up immediately after the conclusion of book three. I’m not giving away any spoilers here, so rest assured. What I can say is that the consequences of that battle, and the drama, are the driving forces of events in this book.

Beornoth and his brave warriors demand vengeance, and these bloodthirsty men have no qualms in seeking it out themselves! As with previous books though, there is an element of underlying politics and a wider plot which still touches on this very personal narrative. As a prominent warrior, Beornoth cannot wholly serve himself, and his ties to some of the most powerful men in the country ensure his actions have both impact and repercussions across the country.

 

Characters

The narrative of Sword of Vengeance is a very personal one in nature. Through this, we find ourselves investing heavily in characters such as Beornoth and Brand. They are the favourites we have come to know throughout earlier books in the series. In particular, I love their individual intricate stories and relationship with each other.

I never quite know or trust what will happen to characters in these books. Peter Gibbons doesn’t spare characters from rough treatment and puts them in the firing line time and again. After the events of previous books, I cannot be sure that the characters we have come to know and love will come unscathed. It’s both terrifying and exhilarating!

 

Setting

Beornoth and his band undertake a fair degree of travel in the book. New settings are beautifully and vividly described. If you are the type of reader visualise such things as you read, you will not find the narrative or descriptions wanting.

Although the main focus of the plot centres around Beornoth and his quest for vengeance, we still get to enjoy the wider setting of turmoil and conflict. Vikings continue to plague the Saxon peoples. The solution presented by the church to deal with this problem is to try and pay off the Vikings. Naturally, this harbours resentment from those who ultimately end up paying the bill. The people. Warriors like Beornoth know that this is only a temporary solution, and will likely beget a larger problem once word of Saxon riches gets out.

On the whole, the depth of the narrative and setting in which events take place makes for full and comprehensive immersion in the storyline.

 

Narrative Style

What I’ve found really helpful when reading Sword of Vengeance is that main plot points in the earlier books recapped as the narrative goes along. They serve as a great reminder of what has gone before, so if it has been a while since you’ve picked up the series, or indeed, if you haven’t picked up those books yet at all, you still know what’s going on. The only reason I wouldn’t recommend reading Sword of Vengeance as a standalone is because you would miss out on three fabulous books before this one. You absolutely could though, if you wanted to. But why would you want to do yourself dirty like that?

Despite plenty of action, Sword of Vengeance is very easy to read. The action compels you to read on, and the narrative style itself is approachable for all readers. I love historical fiction, especially about this time period. As a result of this, and the ease of reading, it was a book I found myself easily getting lost in!

Peter Gibbons strikes up a great balance in these books between chapter length and descriptive detail. Neither one compromises the other, and we can appreciate both in equal measure. Some people love action in their books… others are more character driven. Sword of Vengeance brings both together in a healthy balance, meaning there are elements of this book for all readers.

 

Summary

If you love action-packed narratives full of conflict and detailed battle scenes, Sword of Vengeance will not disappoint! As a huge fan of the genre and time period of both this book and the wider series, it is very much what I hoped for!

I’ve enjoyed this series every bit as much as other books I’ve read by both big names like Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden, as well as upcoming authors like M.J Porter and J.C. Duncan. If you have read any of my reviews of books by these authors and are looking for something similar, then I cannot stress enough how much you should pick up books by Peter Gibbons.

Although I haven’t read his Viking Blood and Blade series myself, I will share that it comes highly recommended to me by a work colleague of mine. Either of these series are great for fans in the genre, and I’ll be picking up that second one in my own time. If that isn’t testament to how much I enjoy Peter Gibbons writing, then I don’t know what is!

 

Author Bio

Peter Gibbons is a financial advisor and author of the highly acclaimed Viking Blood and Blade trilogy.

He comes to Boldwood with his new Saxon Warrior series, set around the 900 AD Viking invasion during the reign of King Athered the Unready. The first title of the new series, Warrior and Protector, will be published in October 2022. He originates from Liverpool and now lives with his family in County Kildare.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/petergibbonsauthor

Monthly Wrap-Up – January 2024

Happy Thursday February 1st, and welcome to my first monthly wrap-up of 2024! How are we one month into 2024 already? As they say, time flies when you’re having fun!

I set myself a chunky TBR back at the beginning of January. I’ve linked to that post if you want to see the full list of books I set myself. I didn’t get to all of them this month, which isn’t surprising given I set myself a list of 10! Saying that, I’ve read more than average this month, setting myself in good stead for the rest of the year (I can only hope!)

Shall we get to the recap of the books I read in January? Strap yourselves in – it’s going to be a longer post than usual!

 

Books Read

 

Gemina

Gemina was the physical read I carried over from 2023. I had only read about 40% of the book by the end of December. A solid start, but there was plenty of progress to make still!

As Gemina is a YA sci-fi written in a mixed media format, I gobbled up the rest of the book in just a couple of days. Like Illuminae, I found it difficult to put down! The way it’s written is easy to read and the different perspectives and data sources that make up this story keep the narrative interesting.

I also loved the characters within the book. There is some small overlap on characters, although broadly we enjoy two new perspectives in the overarching storyline. I can only hope all parties come together in the sequel and last in the trilogy, Obsidio.

It’s safe to say that I started off the year well; Gemina was a great first read of 2024, netting my first 5 star rating.

 

My Sister’s Keeper

In addition to Gemina, I carried over My Sister’s Keeper from 2023. At the beginning of the year, I was approximately a third of the way through this audiobook.

My Sister’s Keeper isn’t a type of book I would pick up very often, but I’m glad I did! I was drawn to it because of the synopsis and the question of morality over Anna and her lifelong role as a donor for her sister, Kate.

I loved how this book played out and the drama within. The end made me teary and I am so glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to pick it up. Not everybody loves the ending of this book and I can understand why. However, I think it depends on what expectations you go into the book with. If you go into it looking for an answer to the morality question, then you may not get what you’re looking for. However, I think the book is about asking the question of ourselves – and that I did throughout reading.

 

The Girl in Seat 2A

I downloaded a copy of The Girl in Seat 2A published by Boldwood books via NetGalley. I have reviewed multiple Boldwood books through Rachael’s Random Resources tours before, and this book caught my eye.

The Girl in Seat 2A has an interesting storyline and I enjoyed the wider plot. I confess that I didn’t love the main character Jade, but that is because we are very unlike each other. I struggled to relate to her as a person, and also her circumstances, meaning that I could only invest so much into her.

Hers is not the only perspective in this book though, and it’s that second perspective that made the book for me. I also enjoy how the plot really starts to come together from this alternate perspective and the action and drama was fun to read.

If you’re interested to read my full thoughts on this book, you can find my review here.

 

Betrothal and Betrayal

Another reading obligation to include in today’s monthly wrap-up post is my read of Betrothal and Betrayal as part of a blog tour I took part in mid-month.

Betrothal and Betrayal is a fun and relatively short historical fantasy novel. With a strong, fiery, female protagonist living in a man’s world, I got everything I wanted from this book. I loved the protagonist and her unwavering resolve, despite her circumstances. She is the kind of protagonist to make a great role model for all young women, so it’s great to see represented in fiction.

I’m not going to go too far into the book here as I have already shared my review as part of the blog tour. If you want to go and see that review, I’ll provide a link here.

 

Crime and Punishment

The slowest read on January’s TBR that I include in today’s monthly wrap-up is Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

And that’s not surprising. I am always slower with reading classics because I find the narrative styles differ from modern day. Until I’m used to it, there is an adjustment period. Although it took me a little longer to get into than the rest of the books on this monthly wrap-up, I still enjoyed picking it up.

In this narrative we follow the actions and fall-out of destitute student Raskolnikov murdering a moneylender. The booking itself explores mental health as that features heavily in the narrative, but also around morality of killing, and whether such actions can be washed out by any overall benefit to society as a consequence.

That is a very brief and probably not the best summary of the book, but it’s the best I can do with limited paragraph space!

 

Unmasked

The second audiobook I picked up in the month of January was Unmasked by Ellie Middleton. This is also the first non-fiction book I have picked up this year. If the rest are as good as this one, then I’m in for a good year!

The primary focus of Unmasked is about Ellie’s experience of late diagnoses of ADHD and autism. However, the book also takes an objective view of these neurodivergent conditions, as well as others, to educate readers about what it is like to interpret the world differently. Not only that, but the book explores how those who are neurodivergent are often discriminated against, and what steps we can take in society to be more accepting and accommodating.

I picked up this book to understand more about neurodivergence in general. I was surprised to find that I could relate to some of the traits of autism. That’s not to say I have autism, but it helped me appreciate overall how difficult it must be to grow up with these differences… especially if you grow up undiagnosed as most women do.

It was an eye-opening read, and if you’re interested in the subject, I would strongly recommend picking up Unmasked. I especially enjoyed listening to the audiobook as Ellie narrates this herself.

 

Sword of Vengeance

The last reading obligation I picked up in January that our feature on this monthly wrap-up post is Sword of Vengeance by Peter Gibbons. You won’t yet have seen the review for this book on my blog as it is going live tomorrow.

To date, I have enjoyed following along with the series and I’ve reviewed 2 out of the 3 prior books in the series as part of blog tours. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this fourth book of the series tomorrow. In summary, the book was everything I expected it to be based on the high expectations from reading the earlier books in the series. Again, there is a lot of action in this book, as well as underlying political intrigue which I love to read about.

I hope you can stay tuned for my review tomorrow!

 

The Black Coats

As of this monthly wrap-up post, I’m currently reading The Black Coats by Colleen Oakes and I’m 40% into the book.

It’s an enjoyable read so far and I’m loving the feminist take. I can see the action only picking up from where I’m up to, so I think I’ll have the book finished within another day or two! If you want to find out more about this book, I’ll be talking about it in more detail in the coming days. 

 

The Atlas Six

My next ongoing read at month-end is The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake. As of writing this post, I’m just over 2 hours into this nearly 17 hour long book. For the stats nerds, that’s about 13%. Unlucky for some, but not me!

I’ve only really gotten introduced to the characters and basic premise so far, but I’m intrigued. There’s definitely a lot to be explored in the narrative. I’m also glad I went for audio; each character is separately cast, making it easier to follow who is who. I love the different voices and styles as well – it adds a layer of interest.

Given that I’m not too far into the book, there isn’t really much I can say right now. This is one to stay tuned to my blog for!

 

Summary

I needed to read 5 books to stay on target of 60 books by the end of the year. I let the new year excitement get away with me in setting 10 books. However, I think having a longer reading list has encouraged me to read a little more this month. It doesn’t always work this way, but it’s working at the moment!

Next month’s TBR is going to look much the same – there’s always more to read! If you’re interested to see that list, I’ll share my February TBR on Saturday! Stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, what are you reading?

 

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Sunday Summary – 28th January 2024

Good evening gang – it’s time for another Sunday Summary update. Why do the weeks just fly by? Next week is the start of February already; I honestly don’t know where January has gone! Before getting to the books I’ve read over the course of the week, let’s do a cheeky recap of the posts I’ve shared so far.

My first post of the week was a Top Ten Tuesday post. In that, I shared ten books I didn’t get to in 2023. This wasn’t so much a *top* ten as a list of ten that I just about scraped together!

On Friday I shared my first First Lines Friday post of the year. I didn’t set myself a challenge for that, so when it came to drafting it I decided to feature an opening from a favourite read of 2023. If you missed that post there’s a link above. Can you guess from the clues in the introduction what the book is?


Books Read


Crime and Punishment

As of last week’s Sunday Summary, I had read 484 pages, or just under 75%, of Crime and Punishment.

With the end in sight, I ploughed on and completed the book on Tuesday. Although it took me a little longer to read than other books I’ve picked up so far this month, I did enjoy Crime and Punishment. It was the book I expected it to be based on the synopsis and it was an interesting read. If you are unaware, the narrative explores the actions of a destitute young student who commits murder, and then struggles with his mental health and dealing with the consequences of his actions.

I am usually slower with reading classics, because of the difference in writing style and language. However, I’m glad that I’m finally able to take this one off my list as read!

 

Unmasked

I was just under half way through Unmasked as of last week’s Sunday Summary. Once again, I’ve made a good deal of progress and listened to the remaining three hours and change this week, taking me to 100% completion.

I really enjoyed Unmasked. I initially wanted to listen to the audio to understand how neurodivergence is such as autism and ADHD may affect people. Did I think I would relate to some of the symptoms or experiences as I did? No, but there we go!

If you are interested in the subject, Unmasked is written in such an approachable way that you can read as much or as little of this book as you want. It’s also a book you can go back to and read certain chapters of again. It’s well structured, comprehensive, and written very well. I also like that the audiobook is narrated by the author herself; Ellie talks a lot of her own experiences as a neurodivergent in this book, and it wouldn’t feel right to hear these narrated by someone else. It felt much more authentic coming from Ellie herself.


Sword of Vengeance

After reading the first chapter of Sword of Vengeance a couple of weeks ago at a hairdressers appointment, I picked up the book in earnest this week.

Sword of Vengeance is the fourth book in Peter Gibbons’ Saxon Warrior series. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I have been following reading and reviewing the series as part of organised blog tours. See my reviews of Warrior and Protector and Brothers of the Sword here. This fourth book is no exception. If you are interested in the series, I will be reviewing this book next week – you can find out more about when below.

Sword of Vengeance picks up where we left off after the events of Maldon and the tragic battle that took place at the end of book three. I won’t want to go into too much detail on that so I don’t spoil that third book. What I can say is that events unfold from there and once again we are thrown into a narrative of action and intrigue.

Sword of Vengeance was everything I have come to expect having read the earlier books in the series. I enjoyed the plotline and the introduction of new characters, as well as the return of favourites. If you enjoy historical fiction, and in particular, reading battle scenes, Sword of Vengeance will not disappoint you.


What next?

It’s unusual that I have to feature a section with this title, as I am rarely writing a Sunday Summary being in between books.

I generally have a couple of reads on the go, one physical or e-book, and one audiobook. I am finally getting to The Black Coats by Colleen Oakes in e-book format, which was my December TBR Jar pick. For my audiobook choice, I will be listening to The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake. Stay tuned to find out more about my reading progress and thoughts on these books over the next week!


Books Discovered

No news is good news once again this week! I’m down to 196 books on my Goodreads to-read shelf… which sadly is the lowest it’s been for a while!


Coming Up…

Next week we are in the realms of month-end. That means that it’s time to share my monthly wrap-up post for January, as well as my monthly TBR for February.

In order to accommodate those, my blogging schedule is going to be out of sync. Normally I try to post consistently throughout the week. However, with the timing of month-end and other obligations, I will be sharing four posts all in the second half of the week.

Starting on Thursday, I will be publishing my monthly wrap-up for January. I didn’t want to leave this post too long to share with you, so I am jumping in there at the first opportunity. Literally, the 1st haha!

My second post of the week goes live on Friday, and this is my blog tour review of Sword of Vengeance by Peter Gibbons. I’m glad I got this book finished earlier today as that gives me several days to draft my review and make sure I’m happy with it before going live with the tour on Friday.

On Saturday I’m sharing my TBR for February. Whilst I could technically share this on Monday the fifth, I feel like that would be quite late. Thankfully, I’ve already decided what my reading list will be and drawn my TBR Jar pick. It’s going to be another busy month… put it that way!

Then, last but not least, I’m back again to round off the week with another Sunday Summary update! In that post, I’ll recap the books I’ve read in the last seven days and update you with any books I’ve added to my reading list. Finally, I’ll share what’s coming up on the blog.

 

Summary

I hope you check out my upcoming posts as they are published. In the meantime, that is all from me in today’s post. Have a fantastic week however you spend it!

If you are reading right now, what book have you picked up? Are you enjoying it? Will you recommend it?

 

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First Lines Friday – 26/01/2024

Welcome to my first First Lines Friday post of 2024 readers, and I have a great feature for you today!

More often than not, I find myself looking forward in these posts and featuring upcoming books on my reading list. Whilst I didn’t explicitly set myself a challenge this time, I decided tonight that instead I was going to look back in today’s First Lines Friday. I feature a five-star read from last year that I’m sure you will love too. Particularly, if you are a fan of Brandon Sanderson and read any of his young adult works.

Can you guess the book from the clues in the introduction?

 

A dark sphere appeared before me in the centre of the room. Scud. Was I really going to do this? In my hand, Doomslug fluted nervously.

The sterile, whitewashed, walls, enormous one-way mirror, and metal tables marked this as some kind of scientific facility. I was on Starsight: the massive space station that housed the regional offices of the Superiority. Up until this past year, I’d never even heard of the Superiority, let alone understood the nuances of how it – as a Galactic government – ruled hundreds of different planets and species.

To be honest, I still didn’t understand those nuances. I’m not exactly a “there are nuances to this situation” type of girl. I’m more of an “if it’s still moving, you didn’t use enough ammunition” type of girl.

 

 

 

Cytonic – Brandon Sanderson

 

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 432

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 23 Nov 2021

 

Goodreads – Cytonic

Spensa’s life as a Defiant Defense Force pilot has been far from ordinary. She proved herself one of the best starfighters in the human enclave of Detritus and she saved her people from extermination at the hands of the Krell—the enigmatic alien species that has been holding them captive for decades. What’s more, she traveled light-years from home as an undercover spy to infiltrate the Superiority, where she learned of the galaxy beyond her small, desolate planet home.

Now, the Superiority—the governing galactic alliance bent on dominating all human life—has started a galaxy-wide war. And Spensa has seen the weapons they plan to use to end it: the Delvers. Ancient, mysterious alien forces that can wipe out entire planetary systems in an instant. Spensa knows that no matter how many pilots the DDF has, there is no defeating this predator.

Except that Spensa is Cytonic. She faced down a Delver and saw something eerily familiar about it. And maybe, if she’s able to figure out what she is, she could be more than just another pilot in this unfolding war. She could save the galaxy.

The only way she can discover what she really is, though, is to leave behind all she knows and enter the Nowhere. A place from which few ever return.

To have courage means facing fear. And this mission is terrifying.

 

My Thoughts…

I have dual motives for featuring Cytonic as today’s First Lines Friday feature. Firstly, it is a book I wholeheartedly recommend and a series that I will press into almost anyone’s hands. Whilst I haven’t officially published reviews of any books in the series, as yet, you can find a summary of my thoughts for Skyward, Starsight, and Cytonic in my Sunday Summary posts around the time I finished the books.

Secondly, I’m also featuring the book today as a reminder that the fourth book in the series was released at the end of last year. I need to read it! It’s not very often that I keep up with series as they come out. Indeed, so far, I haven’t been keeping up with this one at all. But, that is my intention in future. With this in mind, I hope to pick up Defiant soon.

I enjoy reading from the perspective of the main character, Spensa. She is young, feisty, and angsty. She has a chip on her shoulder and everything to prove. Her temperament makes her a bit of a loose cannon and this keeps us as readers guessing as to what she’ll come up with next!

If you like science fiction full of action and a fighting scenes then this will definitely appeal to you. I thoroughly enjoy how these scenes are written and how Spencer‘s personality adds a little spice.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday feature!

Have you read Cytonic or any of the books in the Skyward series so far?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Didn’t Get to in 2023

Good evening readers! Posts like today’s Top Ten Tuesday are a great way to remind myself what some of my reading priorities were last year. In today’s post, I feature the books I intended to read over the course of 2023, but didn’t get to. It’s very likely I’ll try to prioritise them this year as a result!

I just about managed to scrape a list of 10 together. If I didn’t get to a specific book on a monthly TBR, I was pretty good at rolling it forward and picking it up in the following month(s) instead. There are some exceptions to that rule, though, and those are the feature of today’s Top Ten Tuesday.

Let’s see what those books were:

 

In Every Mirror She’s Black

This book was last on my February TBR and slipped the net for being rolled over into March. I’d bought my copy of the book on a whim in the 2022 post-Christmas sales. I’d chosen February to read it as February is when Black History month is celebrated.

I’m not intending to theme this February’s reading around Black History month. However, I’m always interested to read from a diverse range of authors and so I will be making an effort to do this throughout the year rather than in just one specific month.

 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I purchased a copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame after going to watch a local production. This book is a tome, and whilst I had hoped to pick it up last year, I never got to it. It’s the sort of book I think you have to be in the mood for as well. Personally, I find that classics are books you need to have a certain amount of drive to pick up. The narratives don’t flow as well as modern day language; picking them up is a more deliberate action.

I did really enjoy this story, however, so I’m excited to get to The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is just one book by Victor Hugo that I have on my reading list; the other is chunky as well!

 

To Shape A Dragon’s Breath

The next two books in today’s Top Ten Tuesday ended up on my TBR as a result of book clubs.

For a few months last year, I was reading along with an online book club. I discovered some amazing books through that, but in the end I stopped. As much as I was enjoying the books I was picking up, there was rarely any overlap with my existing reading list. Picking these up was taking away from the mountain of my own books I already have to read.

That said, I do like the sound of To Shape a Dragon’s Breath so I’ve left it on my TBR. This coincided was a busy month and so I didn’t get to start it, and the book club had moved on. As a result, there wasn’t any demand to go and read it quickly. Consequently, it temporarily fell off the list. I’ll be sweeping it up onto the list again, that’s for sure.

 

The Last Thing to Burn

The Last Thing to Burn is also a book I intended to read for a book club, but didn’t get to. Somebody in a local bookish Facebook group had posted an intention to start a book club and I was interested. However, it quickly spiralled into a large social group planning a meal out. In my opinion, the idea of the book club itself all but fell by the wayside. I had hoped to join to be able to have a good quality conversation with a few like-minded individuals, but it wasn’t meant to be.

As with To Shape A Dragon’s Breath, whilst the idea of a book club is great, reading books that other people ‘set’ take away from my time to read the books that I want to read for myself. By the end of last year, I wasn’t taking part in or reading books towards any book club at all and I’m happy with that. They are a good way to get out of your reading comfort zone, but I’m pretty good at pushing myself for now. I’ll never say never, but I have no plans to join anything any time soon.

 

Incendium

I hoped to read Incedium in November, as the book is loosely based around, or sounds similar to, the real life gunpowder plot. However, due to other reading obligations and carryovers from October, it didn’t happen.

I specifically wanted to read this book around bonfire night. Rather than land myself in the position of going into December trying to wrap up November’s books, I decided to let this one go with the intention of picking it up at the beginning of November this year instead! It’s a good job I published this Top Ten Tuesday as a reminder! 

 

The Black Coats

The Black Coats is my TBR jar pick from December. With the seasonal period, I ended up reading less than usual. As a result, I didn’t get this book before the end of the year.

However, I will be picking it up very soon. I have rolled The Black Coats onto my January TBR… although I’ll have to get a move on so I’m not rolling it on again into February! There’s still just over a week left of the month, so it’s manageable.

 

Firefight

Firefight is another book I intended to read in December but didn’t get to because of timing. There is a lot to do in December. From catching up with friends and family before the big day to actually doing the preparation for said big day… it’s amazing how much time that takes.

Plus, I had already met my official reading goal of the year and so the pressure was off. I think this contributed as well.

Whilst I won’t be reading Firefight in January, I am looking to pick this up next month instead.

 

A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons

The last three books on this Top Ten Tuesday list all tie together. At the beginning of 2023, I set out my intention to re-read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I did read the first couple of books in 2023.

A Storm of Swords is a little bit of a stretch on this list, because it’s more of a book I didn’t get to finish as opposed to get to at all. I ended up putting that book on hold in order to pick up other reading priorities and I never got back to it. Consequently, I never progressed from that point onwards either, meaning that A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons also went unread.

I would like to continue my re-read of the series, however. So, I intend to chip away at these books, either in print or audio, throughout 2024.

 

So, those are the books that make it to today’s Top Ten Tuesday feature.

Have you read any of the books on this list? Are there any books on this list that you haven’t got to yet but can’t wait to pick up?

As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

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Sunday Summary – 21st January 2024

Happy Sunday everyone and welcome to this week’s instalment of Sunday Summary. If you are unfamiliar, I take the time every week to update you on the books I’ve been reading, the blog posts I’ve shared with you, and finally what to expect in the coming week.

This week reading progress has been slower, but this isn’t unexpected. I’ll share more on that below. First, let’s recap the blog posts I shared earlier this week.

So far I have shared not one, but two book reviews with you. The first of these book reviews was for The Girl in Seat 2A by Diana Wilkinson. Technically, this review was due second, but based on timing I decided to publish this earlier than the book’s publication date.

On Thursday, I shared my review of Betrothal and Betrayal by Janet McGiffin. This was part of a blog tour and so I had to publish on this on this set date. I already established in last week’s Sunday Summary that I had a great time with this book. If you want to check out my full thoughts, here is a link to that review so you can check it out for yourself.

 

Books Read

 

Crime and Punishment

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I left off having made 132 pages of progress into Crime and Punishment. As this is a classic and is one of the oldest books on my list in terms of publication date, I knew the narrative style was going to be clunkier. I fully anticipated reading progress to slow down with this book, so I’m not surprised that it has.

That said, I have made more progress in the last 24 hours than anticipated. I’ve been able to pick up the speed, either because the narrative is getting good or because I’m getting used to the style. I’m not sure which. Either way, I’m now 484 pages into the narrative which equates just under 75%. Now I’m coming towards the end of the book, I imagine the quicker reading pace will continue. I’ll share more about how I get on in next week’s post.

 

Unmasked

I listened to a further hour and 10 minutes of Unmasked by Ellie Middleton yesterday. This takes my reading progress of this book to just under half as of this Sunday Summary.

I really like how this book is structured and covers each of the topics within. It’s also proved easy to pick up again even though I probably haven’t made any progress in it for about a week.

It’s a really interesting audio and I would recommend anybody with interest in autism, ADHD or other forms of neurodivergence to give it a look. In the more recent chapters I’ve listened to, the narrative explores how different conditions may show up in real life. Particularly, I liked how it covered ways that symptoms differ from society expectations. I’m looking forward to seeing how the topics are explored further in the second half of the book.

 

Books Discovered

I’ve added nothing new to my reading list this week, which is as well given it constantly seems to hover at the same level and never go down!

 

Coming Up…

On Tuesday I plan to share my first Top Ten Tuesday of the year. This week’s topic is Books I meant to Read in 2023 but didn’t get to. I have a variety of books to share that fall into this bracket! Stay tuned for more on those next week.

On Friday I’m back with a First Lines Friday post. Sometimes I set myself a challenge for these posts, but I’m going to keep an open field and decide what to feature later in the week!

Lastly, I’ll be back with another Sunday Summary update this time next week. Until then I hope you have a fantastic week!

What are you reading?

 

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