Not only is today one of the best days of the week because it’s Friday – it’s also my mum’s birthday! Not only that, but my sister has come to the visit and celebrate with us for the weekend! I’m really looking forward to spending the time together with them – it’s not very often we are all together nowadays.
So, if you are reading this, Happy Birthday Mum! You really are one in a million!
I’m back again with my new regular fortnightly feature – First Lines Friday. I’ve seen this post on many a blog and I think it’s a fun way to try something new, without the bias of a front cover or knowledge of the book before you try it!
So, shall we get on with today’s post? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book!
I died just after the clock in the passageway struck nine.
There are those who claim that Her Majesty, Elizabeth, by the grace of God, Queen of England, France and of Ireland, will not allow clocks to strike the hour in her palaces. Time is not allowed to pass for her. She has defeated time. But that clock struck. I remember it.
I counted nine bells. Nine. Then my killer stuck.
And I died.
My brother says there is only one way to tell a story. ‘Begin,’ he says in his irritatingly pedantic manner, ‘at the beginning. Where else?’
I see I have started a little too late, so we shall go back to five minutes before nine, and begin again.
The main influence behind this book purchase is the author. I have read, adored and reviewed a few of his other historical fiction works. What sets this book apart from his other series I am reading is that it is a completely different period of history. Set in Elizabethan England, it’s a far cry from the blood and battles of the Viking era.
Have you any inkling what today’s book is?
Fools and Mortals – Bernard Cornwell
A dramatic new departure for international bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, FOOLS AND MORTALS takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history.
Fools and Mortals follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry – and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory – propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal.
Showcasing his renowned storyteller’s skill, Bernard Cornwell has created an Elizabethan world incredibly rich in its portrayal: you walk the London streets, stand in the palaces and are on stage in the playhouses, as he weaves a remarkable story in which performances, rivalries and ambition combine to form a tangled web of intrigue.
What do you think of the introduction to Fools and Mortals? Doesn’t it suck you in and make you want to read on? If I didn’t have such a busy TBR I would be so tempted!
Have you read the book or added it your TBR? As always, I would love to hear from you!!
Reviewing George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is hard.
That might sound really daft. I’ve written more than my fair share of book reviews in my lifetime and I can assure you that I am, by nature, a very opinionated person. I guess what it comes down to is perspective. These books are hugely popular, and thanks to the TV series they have gained even more of a following. I doubt there is anything I can write here that you do not know about it already.
That isn’t really the point though. My blog is a place for me to explore my opinions. They may not make a shred of difference to your opinion of the books/series, (especially for such a series as this) but I have to show my appreciation somehow!
Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.
Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces manoeuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords…
Some of my favourite events of the book series (so far) happen in A Storm of Swords. Weddings are less of a celebration and more of a curse. King’s Landing is reeling from the recent Battle of the Blackwater and their plans for their allegiance go… awry, to put it mildly!
In A Storm of Swords we say goodbye to two Kings in Westeros – one far more reluctantly than the other! The first time I read this book, I had a tantrum after the Red Wedding. I couldn’t pick the book up for a couple of days whilst I sulked. Turns out things weren’t QUITE as bad as you are initially led to believe. Screenrant classifies the TV episode “The Rains of Castamere”, the episode in which The Red Wedding plays out, as the “most shocking” and “peak moment” of the series. It’s clear it had a profound effect on a lot of people – not just me.
Looking north, Jon Snow is in the thick of it too. Surrounded by enemies, he is spying amongst the Wildlings to discover their secrets and then head back to the Wall. Many are mistrustful of his deflection to the Wildlings and he is treated with suspicion by many.
To the east, Daenerys is coming into her own. She is conquering the corrupt cities of Essos and fighting the losing battle of abolishing slavery. Her ambition has always been to make it to Westeros to reclaim the family throne. Her decision to stay and rule to protect the people in the east is very mature of her. It’s one of her defining moments, in my opinion.
As always, George R R Martin manages to balance the narrative and events to keep us hanging on for the next chapter. Even though there are a number of character perspectives contributing to narrating the tale (10-12), the gaps between each perspective aren’t so long that their part of the story is forgotten.
The depth of the history in his fantasy world and the number of characters (and their families) the chronicle contains is phenomenal. How George R R Martin can keep track and ensure everything is consistent baffles me.
A Song of Ice and Fire is an iconic series that I think will live up there with the greats. It’s my unrivalled favourite fantasy series and I have no doubt that shows in my review!
Have you read A Storm of Swords or watched the TV series? What do you make of the events in this book?
The last time I managed to write five blog posts in one week, I swore it would be a long time before I took on such a busy schedule again. That was only five weeks ago – but here we are! To recap for anyone that hasn’t seen those posts yet, here is a summary of my week:-
As it’s the second week of July, I thought it would be a great opportunity to reflect on the last six months with a Mid Year Book Freak Out tag on Monday. It was loads of fun to write. As well as looking back to the beginning of the year, there are also a couple of questions geared around my reading goals for the latter half of 2019.
On Tuesday I published my review for a YA fantasy novel I loved recently. Empress of All Seasons was kindly sent to me for review by Gollancz. Even though I wouldn’t identify as a YA reader, this book was enjoyable for a number of reasons. One such I touch upon in my review is that I really enjoyed the Japanese culture throughout the book – a huge change from the medieval European setting many fantasy worlds are built upon.
I didn’t even announce Thursday’s post. I took part in a cover reveal for Jo Baxter’s Viola Pumpernickel and the Emerald Lady. It’s a middle-grade children’s book that I think I would have really enjoyed when I was growing up, so I was glad to take part and lend my support by sharing the new cover.
Lastly, I published my second Shelf Control post on Friday. I this week’s edition, I look back at my decisions for adding Steven Erikson’s fantasy novel Gardens of the Moon to my reading list.
This week has felt rewarding. Not only have I managed to churn out an unnatural number of posts, I’ve also finished a couple of really good books!
I have been reading The War Within for a few weeks now. At around 570 pages, this is no mean feat. The War Within is so much more than its predecessor Seventh Decimate. Events are on a far grander scale, and the novel follows on a number of years after those in the first book. The narrative had a lot of ground to cover to bridge the gap between the two books. As a result, it wasn’t as easy to read for that. I still really enjoyed the book, but the intensity of the first half made it very time consuming to pick up and digest before continuing.
I don’t like taking so long to read books like that. It’s silly – I shouldn’t put such pressure on myself. I am way ahead of my reading goal, but I like to get through books in days, not weeks. I get a little frustrated if reading a book takes more time than I think it should. I’m daft, I know, but it’s the honest truth.
My reading picked up significantly afterwards though, as I picked up and read Scouse Gothic by Ian McKinney in less than two days. Yes, you read that right! It’s only quite a short book by comparison (around 200 pages). Picking up a contemporary novel laced with humour helped relieve my frustration.
My current read is another fantasy novel. I have quite a few on the list this month, so I am interspersing other genres in between them. I started reading Birth of the Mortokai yesterday. Even though I haven’t made any progress on it today (I spend every Sunday afternoon with my family), I’m still a third of the way through the book. I’m hoping to get to around half-way by the end of the night and wrap this up in the next couple of days. I feel like I have some time to make up, as I have a few longer books to read later in the month.
I have been REALLY good this week! Not only did I swerve every bookshop, but I also haven’t even added anything to the TBR! I’m quite surprised with myself actually!
Next week is definitely not going to be as manic! I deserve a break – haha!
There’s no rest for the wicked though! I have a few book reviews stacking up, so I’d like to tackle one of those. This week, I would like to share my thoughts on A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin. Prepare for a long and gushy review… I think you all know my love for George R. R. Martin’s books by now.
My regular Friday feature flips back to First Lines Friday later next week, so I’ll be sharing the first few lines of a book on my TBR. Let’s see if you can guess what it is!
Top Blog Posts of the Week
I hope it is apparent from the list below that I have spent a lot more time blog hopping this week. I’ve been cursing this flaw I have for quite some time, so I’m making a conscious effort to do more about it. I’ve checked out a few blogs before work, during my lunch hour and before bed – any spare minute I’ve had really. I hope the effort shows. It’s paid off for me as I’ve discovered a few new bloggers to follow.
Here are some of the posts I have loved reading this week: –
Welcome back to my new regular feature post, Shelf Contol!
You may remember the purpose of this post from my outline a couple of weeks ago. If not, here’s a summary. Shelf Control is run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly (or in my case, fortnightly) celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!
For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.
Shelf Control, for me, is about looking in more detail about the books I have added to the TBR and listed as keepers in my Down the TBR Hole posts. I get the chance to talk about why I want to keep them in more detail and it acts as a second sweep for anything that I may have changed my mind about. I don’t necessarily own all the books (yet), but I will have a reasonable number of them.
It’s week two, so let’s look at the second book on the TBR! This also dates back to December 2014. Perhaps it’s a little overdue?
Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen #1) – Steven Erikson
The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.
For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.
However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…
Conceived and written on a panoramic scale, Gardens of the Moon is epic fantasy of the highest order–an enthralling adventure by an outstanding new voice.
There is a definite theme when it comes to my older book choices. They are all in the fantasy genre! As a teenager, that was pretty much all I would read, with a couple of exceptions. It’s still my favourite genre now, although I definitely need to intersperse my reading with other genres to keep things fresh.
Gardens of the Moon has really mixed reviews on Goodreads. People either seem to love it or not get on with it at all. Sometimes that can sway my opinion, but I am not going to let it with this one. I think the synopsis sounds really interesting. Not only that, but reviews of the later books in the series get a lot better! I gather it is a little confusing to start – it might just be a case of persevering until the pieces start to fit together.
I was confident that I wanted to give this book a try, so I have the ebook sat on my kindle waiting for me to pull my finger out and pick it up!
Have you read Gardens of the Moon or any other books in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series? What did you think?
Today’s book cover reveal is for a book I would have loved to read growing up! Viola Pumpernickel and the Emerald Lady was first published last year and has just had a makeover. I can’t wait to share the new cover with you!
Let’s take a look at the old cover and the details of the book.
Viola is a people-watcher. She loves to sit on the step of her father’s bakery in Brookwater Lane, creating stories about the weird and wonderful folk who pass by. Her father is secretly impressed by her big imagination but her mother thinks it’s all a bit silly, really.
So, when Viola witnesses a terrifying robbery late one evening, her theory as to who is behind this dreadful crime is met with rolled eyes and disbelief.
Determined to prove that she is not as silly as everyone believes, Viola sets out to bring this villain to justice and show that she is more than just a girl with a wild imagination.
Together with her older brother, Teddy, her best friend, Flo, and the mysterious Emerald Lady, Viola uncovers a plot far more dangerous than anyone could ever have imagined in this exciting Victorian mystery.
PRAISE FOR VIOLA PUMPERNICKEL AND THE EMERALD LADY:
“A gripping tale with twists and turns galore. You will root for Viola till the very end!” – Jennifer Killick, author of ALEX SPARROW AND THE BIG STINK and ALEX SPARROW AND THE FURRY FURY
“Mystery, intrigue and a fearless heroine. I love this book!” Anna Kennedy OBE
Earlier this year, I received an ARC of Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean to read, for the purpose of an honest review. Firstly, can I say a huge thank you to Gollancz for the opportunity to read such a beautiful, stand-out book?!
Today, I want to tell you how glad I am that I requested this book to review! I do read a little YA fantasy, but I wouldn’t describe myself as a YA reader. Instead, what compelled me to request the book is the Japanese influence and culture. Most fantasy I read is heavily influenced by Western ideals and society… so Empress of All Seasons was going to be a completely new experience for me!
In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.
Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.
Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.
Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.
The Eastern culture really shines through in this novel, as I hoped it would! Combined with several well developed main characters, a complex social structure and growing unrest giving rise to conflict and rebellion, Empress of All Seasons is the whole package.
Mari is the fierce strong female lead I hoped she would be. She is brought up to take part in the competition to win the title of Empress. She is naturally competitive, thanks to her mother’s tutoring. But she has a secret. She isn’t the girl her mother thinks she is. Mari fights to become Empress to end depravity against her people. She longs to be treated as equal.
Animal wives, in human form, are famed for being the most beautiful. They seduce and marry rich men so they can take off their wealth and have their children to sustain the population. If caught, they are enslaved. Mari’s village is isolated and remains hidden from everyone for protection. Such is the price of freedom from the collar. Mari longs to change that.
As Empress of All Seasons is so different from my usual reads, immersing myself in Emiko Jean’s fantasy world, steeped in an unfamiliar culture, took a little getting used to. I spent three or four days of picking this up and putting it down periodically to digest who was who and what was happening. At that point, I had only gotten around halfway through the narrative, but quickly after that everything fell into place. The conflict in the plot piqued and I was hooked. I read the rest of the book in less than two days.
Mari, Taro and Akira are all vastly different characters whose lives collide in this tale. Even though they each have their different backgrounds and privileges, what struck me the most is that despite this, they are all desperate to break away from the expectations others have of them. That’s something I think we readers can all relate to.
For all the reasons above, Empress of All Seasons is a really enjoyable standalone read. For that reason, I think it will appeal to all fantasy readers – especially those in the market for a breath of fresh air in a popular, saturated genre.
I wanted to write my own Mid Year Book Freak Out post as looks like a lot of fun. It’s also a great way to reflect back on my reading year so far and to look forward to the next six months.
First, let’s take a look at my reading progress! So far I have read 36 books out of 50, far surpassing my expectations! My reading record is 60 books a year – which I achieved in 2017. I never thought I would get close to that number again, since I largely attribute that achievement to the fact that I hadn’t even started my blog until late March that year. Now I have more commitments, but can I beat my target? I’m determined to try!
Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2019
My best standalone read of the year has to go to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I really enjoyed interpreting the story from the perspective of a teenage boy with Asberger’s. It was truly unique and extremely funny in places! I have been meaning to read it for quite some time. Now I am glad I have!
Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2019
My choice for this category is also a recent read. The winner for this has to be Crowfall by Ed MacDonald, hands down! I’m sad that this wonderful trilogy has ended but I loved any minute of reading it as well. Each of these books will be read and enjoyed again, that’s for sure!
Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year
I haven’t had to think too hard about this answer either. My most anticipated release is a sequel due to be published in September 2019. What makes this release interesting is that it has been over 30 years since Margaret Atwood published its predecessor, The Handmaid’s Tale. As it happens, I didn’t actually like The Handmaid’s Tale the first time I read it. It’s a good job I am a lot more versatile as a reader now. How Margaret Atwood plans to follow on from such an iconic tale I don’t know – I guess I’ll find out in September!
My biggest disappointment of the year isn’t anything to do with a book – it’s about me. I have seriously gotten out of the habit of reading and interacting with other people and their blogs. I am very sporadic if I do read any posts at all. The lesson here is to set aside time to pick this up again. After all, if I don’t read, like and comment on other people’s blogs, how can I expect anyone else to do the same for me?
This is more of a general point rather than about any one particular book or another. Given that I have read so many books already this year, I’m surprised that my average rating is so high! Of the 36 I have read, my lowest rating is 3*… and that’s only for two books! Either I am diversifying better as a reader or I am just good at identifying the sorts of books I love. I don’t really mind which – just long may it continue!
Newest Fictional Crush
Newest doesn’t mean new, necessarily. I’m not one for fictional crushes really, but I suppose if I had to pick someone it would have to be Samwell Tarly from the Song of Ice and Fire series. His social awkwardness is hilarious and his love of books and learning comes a VERY close second to mine. I only think I beat him in that regard on account of being a real person!
Newest Favourite Character
Of the books I have read this year, my favourite character has to be Ryhalt from The Raven’s Mark series. In the early books, I loved his kickass, no-nonsense attitude. Even his rough demeanour and chronic drinking problem was kind of endearing. It reminded you of his vulnerability. Ryhalt has grown tremendously as a character since then, but we as readers have grown with him. It’s a change for the better.
Book That Made You Cry
I don’t think I have shed a single tear since reading The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in April last year.
To be honest, I haven’t really read many books that would provoke such a reaction, so I’m not surprised by the fact.
Book That Made You Happy
You’re going to make me single out one book that made me happy? What kind of cruelty is this?!
In fact, I can’t pick just one book. I guess the thing that has made me happiest so far this year is re-reading A Game of Thrones. I actually began the project at the very end of last year, so technically this year I have read books 2-4. I’m also starting on part I of A Dance with Dragons a little later this month. These books are, as I am sure you know, quite lengthy. But, it’s what I enjoy, so it doesn’t feel like a chore at all.
Favourite Book to Film Adaptation
I suppose the only book to film adaptation that’s even relevant to my current reading is The Dark Tower. I don’t really watch much in the way of TV or films.
I’m pretty sure I watched the film at some point last year, but, I have read the second book of the series and bought the third this year. I wouldn’t say that the adaptation is the best I have ever watched. It’s enjoyable, but clearly there is so much more details to the books that the film doesn’t have time to touch upon. On the plus side, it has Idris Elba starring as the Gunslinger, so I can’t complain…
Favourite Post You Have Done This Year
My favourite post of the year is one that made me acknowledge the things that I am not so good at.
Back in April I posted a Top Ten Tuesday post, all about the struggles of being a book blogger. Even though I’ve highlighted parts of the “job” I’m not so good at (like reading other people’s blogs!!), I would say I still have a lot to learn to make improvements to the way I do things. Over-commitment and a lack of motivation are some things that come with the territory and can’t be changed. I set myself targets that don’t allow me much time off. Sometimes though, you just need to say no to picking up the book for a day.
Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year
I haven’t really bought that many books this year, I don’t think. I’ve received some gorgeous ARC’s, but I’ve been pretty tame on the purchasing front. I’m trying to use my library more, especially for books I am unsure as to whether I’ll like or not.
If beautiful can be fulfilled by the lovely, uniformity of these covers and sizes, then I guess I’ll have to feature A Game of Thrones again. They are my main purchases of the year.
What Books Do You Need to Read By the End of the Year
So many books and too little time! Where do I even begin?
I’d like to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I really loved her Strange the Dreamer duology, so I would like to read more of her books.
Th1rt3en by Steve Cavanagh and The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor are also high on my list. I bought them about a year ago and they have been taunting me from my bookshelf ever since. Soon, I promise! Oh! I also bought a copy of The Shining at the same time. That has to go on too! Aside from The Dark Tower, I haven’t really read anything else of Stephen King’s recently.
If I let myself carry on I’ll be here all day!
So, these are my answers to the above questions! If you would like to review your year in books, then consider yourself tagged! I’d love to see your answers!
I am grateful I write my Sunday Summary posts in the evening, because what a day it has been!! After taking mum and dad out for lunch, we spent the afternoon enjoying the sunshine. I am no longer quite so corpse-blue for the experience… perhaps I’ve warmed up to resemble Casper the ghost?
In last week’s Sunday Summary post I hinted at some personal news. On Tuesday I traded in my first, forever special in my heart, 2006 Ford Fiesta for a new car! I was sad to see it go, but it has lasted longer than I expected. Even now, there isn’t anything wrong with it, but after four years together I was due an upgrade from my learner car.
Onto more bookish news, let’s take a look at what else I have been up to!
The beginning of the week was ultimately quite busy, as I had to squeeze in the reading of a respectable portion of Storms over Babylon in anticipation for my blog tour post on Tuesday. It was never in any doubt that I could do it, but I don’t like leaving things so last minute like that!
I promptly followed up my blog tour post with my reading list for July. Where last month I had quite a few short stories to read, this month I am back to my typical longer reads. I’ll definitely be making more of an effort to read more short stories in future, but my blogging commitments and general preferences mean that it’s not happening this month.
On Friday I posted my new regular feature post, First Lines Friday. This week I am featuring a contemporary mystery currently sat on my bookshelf, begging to be read. Let’s face it, my whole bookshelf is begging to be read. Well, almost.
As alluded to above, my top priority of the week was concluding Storms over Babylon by Jennifer Macaire. This fourth instalment to the series is, fortunately, shorter than its predecessors. In the circumstances, that worked out in my favour.
My reason for starting Storms over Babylon so late was because I wasn’t making the progress I wanted on The War Within by Stephen Donaldson. I’ve managed to make much better headway this week. It is an enjoyable read, but the first 40% was a little slow going. That’s not a criticism – I’ve enjoyed reading it all. There is a lot of set up bridging the twenty-year gap from events in book one, Seventh Decimate. It took a little time to digest. Now events are unfolding in the present I’m finding the book a lot easier and quicker to read. I’m at around 70% now and I am hoping to finish it in the next day or two.
I was talking to my colleague Brita the other day and she mentioned a book she was planning to buy her sister for her birthday. It’s a new release about the disappearance of a woman in 1929. She returned five days later, with no recollection of the event at all. The more Brita told me about this, the more I became intrigued. Unsurprisingly, this is now on my TBR. I’m not a regular reader of memoir, non-fiction style books, so I’m looking forward to reading something out of my comfort zone.
I also posted a beautiful acquisition on Instagram and Facebook yesterday! Thanks to Gollancz, I have a gorgeous copy of Howling Dark to read and review! It’s funny because I noticed afterwards that almost a year prior to the day I posted a picture of myself with a copy of Empire of Silence, the first book in the series. There’s only a day in it – how bizarre!
I’m going to be ambitious and christen next week as a busy one, with four blog posts planned!
I’ll be kicking off the week with my version of the Mid Year Book Freak Out tag. It looks like a fun post to write and a great way of looking back at how the first half of my year has gone!
Midweek, I’m going to catch up with one of the many reviews I have a small backlog on. Instead of tackling the oldest item on the list though, I’m going to skip forward a few books to review another ARC I received from Gollancz earlier this year. Empress of All Seasons is a YA Fantasy novel quite unlike anything I have read before. I rarely read YA but I’m really glad I requested a copy from the publisher. You can find out why in more detail later in the week.
On Friday, I’ll be resuming my regular feature posts – Shelf Control. In this post, I am looking back in more detail at the books on my TBR and telling you what my thoughts are on the book. Whether it’s how much I love the cover or the premise etc, anything goes! The book I am featuring on Friday is a fantasy novel that has been on my list for a long time – since December 2014.
Happy Friday everybody! It’s an especially great day for me as today is our National Day here on the Isle of Man. Otherwise known as Tynwald Day, it’s a day we celebrate our status as a crown dependency. Those of us that aren’t particularly nationalists celebrate the fact that we don’t have to roll into our office jobs at 9am.
I’m back again with my new regular feature – First Lines Friday. I’ve read a few other similar posts and felt inspired to write my own. It’s a fun way to introduce new books to potential readers!
This is one of two new posts I am scheduling to post on a Friday. Both posts are typically published weekly, however, I will be publishing them both fortnightly on alternate weeks to avoid things becoming too repetitive. This is also dependent on my other blogging commitments.
So, shall we get on with today’s post? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book!
I sit with my wrists cuffed to the table and I think, But that I am forbid / To tell the secrets of my prison house / I could a tale unfold whose lightest word / Would harrow up thy soul. The guard stands by the door, watching me, like he’s waiting for something to happen.
Enter Joseph Colbourne. He is a graying man now, almost fifty. It’s a surprise, every few weeks, to see how much he’s aged – and he’s aged a little more, every few weeks, for ten years.
Today’s book choice has been sat on my shelf for some time now. Even from the above extract, you’ll probably guess that there is a theatre element to the novel. Up until I left school I loved and actively took part in Performing Arts. I even have GCSE and A-Level equivalent qualifications in it. I don’t so much now I am working, but the love of theatre has stayed with me.
Have you any inkling what today’s book is?
If We Were Villains – M. L. Rio
Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.
As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.
Do you like the introduction to If We Were Villains? Have you read the book or added it your TBR? As always, I would love to hear from you!!
It’s the beginning of the month, and so unsurprisingly, it’s time to publish a new reading list! I didn’t quite get finished with last month’s list, although I did read an impressive number of books! June was my best month for the number of books read in one month, but I confess in the last few days I burned out a little. I’m hoping a new month and reading list is just the refresher I need!
Shall we take a look at what books I am reading in July?
The War Within – Stephen Donaldson
Stephen R. Donaldson, the New York Times bestselling author of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, returns to the world of his Great God’s War fantasy epic as two kingdoms– united by force–prepare to be challenged by a merciless enemy…
It has been twenty years since Prince Bifalt of Belleger discovered the Last Repository and the sorcerous knowledge hidden there. At the behest of the repository’s magisters, and in return for the restoration of sorcery to both kingdoms, the realms of Belleger and Amika ceased generations of war. Their alliance was sealed with the marriage of Bifalt to Estie, the crown princess of Amika. But the peace–and their marriage–has been uneasy.
Now the terrible war that King Bifalt and Queen Estie feared is coming. An ancient enemy has discovered the location of the Last Repository, and a mighty horde of dark forces is massing to attack the library and take the magical knowledge it guards. That horde will slaughter every man, woman, and child in its path, destroying both Belleger and Amika along the way.
With their alliance undermined by lingering hostility and conspiracies threatening, it will take all of the monarchs’ strength and will to inspire their kingdoms to become one to defend their land, or all is lost…
I’m picking up where I left off with this read. It’s the only book I didn’t finish from my June TBR. Considering there were a couple of late and impulsive additions to my list, I don’t think I fared all that badly! I’m around 100 pages in, so I’ll be looking to finish this in the next few days. I’d best get reading!
Scouse Gothic – Ian McKinney
Melville wakes with a pounding headache – there had been too many hangovers recently, but this one felt different. What had he been drinking last night? Then he remembered – it was blood.
Enter the bizarre world of Scouse Gothic where a reluctant vampire mourns a lost love and his past lives, where a retired ‘hit man’ plans one more killing and dreams of food, and a mother sets out to avenge her son’s murder, and, meanwhile, a grieving husband is visited by an angry angel.
Set in present day Liverpool, vampires and mortals co-exist, unaware of each others’ secrets and that their past and present are inextricably linked.
But as their lives converge, who will be expected to atone for past sins?
I’ve signed up to the upcoming blog tour for this book and I cannot wait to pick it up! It’s a little bit different to anything I have picked up before. I’m not really one for reading books that involve vampires, angels or such supernatural things. Saying that, I’m prepared to give it a go! The plot and modern twist sound really interesting!
Birth of the Mortokai – D G Palmer
Daniel Welsh was born different-and to Daniel, to be different means to be alone. But what if he’s wrong? Born an albino with a photographic memory, Daniel Welsh never expected to fit in. Yet, when he is approached by Trinity-a young girl who definitely isn’t human-she reveals a whole new world where he might just belong. Ariest is a place where his features aren’t a disability or the mark of a freak, but rather a trait of powerful mages born of human-faerie unions. His father is a renowned war hero and swordsman, his mother is a human doctor, and that makes him a powerful mage that’ll tip the scales. Magic is real – and so is the threat it brings. Trinity and her father, a battle mage, aren’t the only ones to have discovered Daniel and his gifts hidden in the human realm. The Shade have awakened. Enemies to the fae realm long thought dead have been lying in wait for their moment to strike. Young mages like Daniel are the perfect morsel for their starving appetites and they start their killing spree without delay with the nearest unsuspecting mage boy. Daniel cannot sit idly by while monsters take innocent lives, so he will embrace a destiny he is only just beginning to understand… even if it means losing a life that’s finally worth living. Birth of the Mortokai is a young adult coming of age fantasy adventure novel. Trigger warning: this novel contains descriptions of albinism, a real genetic disorder that affects 1/17,000 persons worldwide per year.
Birth of the Mortokai is another blog tour I have signed up for. It features a character from a minority group, a person with Albinism. From the synopsis, I get the impression that draws characters out of a judgemental and unkind society and celebrates their differences. This is a fantasy book with an element of magic, my favourite genre. For these things alone, I can’t wait to see if my first impressions are correct.
Kau d’Varza – David Noe
Even in the vastness of space, trouble finds a way.
When Elise Rivera arrived on Kau D’varza, a distant station near an anomaly known as the Void Cloud, she’d hoped to escape the troubles of her homeworld. Now, the appearance of a mysterious freighter places her new home under threat; a threat that Elise – along with station commissioner Gierre Nevos, his aide Specialist Kaska Stone, and a team led by Commander-Captain Joseph Raffa – must race against time to avert.
I am always looking to squeeze more science fiction into my reading schedule, so I was delighted to receive a request from David Noe to read his latest book. Keen-eyed readers may remember that I reviewed a book he co-authored when I first started my blog – Seeker. Since Seeker was such a hit with me, it makes sense to read Kau d’Varza, which is also set in the same Chaosnova Universe.
Thran Book 1: The Birth – Brian MacLaughlin
Set in the mythical world of Thran, a young warrior named Brutal Mixnor sets out on an adventure to uncover the truth about his father’s mysterious disappearance after a battle years earlier. Some longtime friends and new acquaintances join him in his search, each with their own reasons for braving the danger-filled wilds of the Cruel Pass. Follow the young adventurers and watch as their powers grow, along with the strength of the enemies they encounter. Discover the complex, imperfect, characters of all races, comprising the full spectrum of alignments (good, neutral, and evil) that weave their way into and out of the story, leaving their mark on the reader as the world of Thran is pushed towards cataclysmic war and suffering. For readers familiar with the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons(R), Thran Book I: The Birth will feel like a warm wave of nostalgia washing over you, and the unfamiliar will get a glimpse of what it’s like to be immersed into the heart of an adventure that transports you into a world where magic abounds and almost anything is possible, but nothing is certain. Visit https: //www.worldofthran.com/ to learn more about the world of Thran, including: character portraits, the world map, the pantheon of deities, and more!
I picked up a copy of this fantasy novel via Voracious Readers Only. I’m always interested in trying a new fantasy novel or series. I am really intrigued by the synopsis. It has all the components of epic fantasy: a quest, magic and conflict!
Can’t wait to see how it pans out!
A Dance with Dragons: Part 1 – George R. R. Martin
In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance—beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.
Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’s claim to Westeros forever.
Meanwhile, to the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone—a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.
From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.
I am reading a lot of ARC’s this month. To balance it out, I am going to pick up A Dance with Dragons in between books. My goal is to finish it by the end of the month. I’m only aiming to read part 1 for the moment – it’s an epic in itself! If I get way ahead of myself then maybe I’ll live dangerously and strive for part 2 as well.