Author: fantasyst95

Review: Seeker – David Noe and Laura Loolaid

Hi everyone! I’m back again today to post my second review in a row, which is most unusual for me! Given that we are all going to be slowing down a bit for the festive season, I wanted to publish this and relieve the authors of their long wait.

I was very kindly asked by David and Laura to review Seeker back in October, and I am very grateful for their patience as they have waited over two months for this review. Thank you both for bearing with me on this – turns out when I advertise I am taking requests I practically get my hand chewed off!

Seeker
Goodreads – Seeker

Jewel Harper, a junior specialist in a successful bounty-hunter group, returns from a routine mission only to find a new contract already prepared – a private contract to rescue a brother she didn’t know she had. The mission takes Jewel to a few different homeworlds — and into some trouble. She will learn that pretty much everybody knows more about her family than she does.

This is a stand-alone story set in the ChaosNova universe. Humans have spread to new homeworlds in a “goldilocks cluster” somewhere in the Galaxy, where the many homeworlds harbour several dominant civilizations as well as various local cultures, ancient and new. This story-verse, borne of forum-based roleplay and collaboration between several authors, holds many more characters and adventures, with varying degrees of connection to the central arc. Some of those stories are being written now, many are yet to be told.

 

My Thoughts…

The first thing I immediately fell in love with when I was approached with the book was that it was written via collaboration, and it’s beginnings are unique. Having been a part of science-fiction-themed forums previously, David decided to create his own forum to write in. As more people joined, including Laura, some of these stories began to take shape.

If you are interested in learning more about the way in which the Universe was created, I will be sharing a video with you tomorrow in which both Laura and David discuss this, among other things.

In the meantime, I want to share with you my thoughts about the book! (That is what I am here for, after all)…
Seeker is based in an entirely fictional universe we discoever through the eyes of Jewel, aka Seeker Valkyrie. Jewel puts me in mind of that person at work that is always there when you arrive, and you can guarantee that they will be the last to leave the office at the end of the day. You know the one – EVERY office has one. Who knows, they may even have a sleeping bag…

All joking aside, Jewel is a workaholic, taking on and completing missions one after the other and barely pausing for breath. Her shuttle is basic and utilitarian – not a place of comfort, but that suits her needs just fine. Her usual routine changes when she is approached with a private contract: to rescue a brother she didn’t even know she had!

Private contracts are always trouble, or so Overseer Raptor warns her. Ignoring his advice, she sets out in search of her brother across the Universe – but she isn’t the only one seeking him out. Wraith – her competitor, is trying to get him first… but for whom is he working? Jewel ends up negotiating herself out of some sticky situations. Having grown up sheltered from her family’s past, she slowly uncovers more information and pieces together the truth. Just what kind of trouble did her brother get into to be imprisoned?

Well, I’m not spoiling it for you here – so you’ll have to go and find out for yourself! Aha!!

I enjoy reading science-fiction, and whilst it is one of the genres I make an effort to dip into, it is one I read less of. That being the case, I am far less clued up on terminology than the authors, for example. Despite my lesser experience, for want of a phrase, I wasn’t at all intimidated by the language employed to describe the advanced technology used. Whilst it is specific in describing what is happening, I didn’t find the language too technical. It avoids alienating the reader and therefore striking up an effective balance to communicate the story.

When dabbling in genres like fantasy and science-fiction, there is far more flexibility with the rules that govern what is happening within the created dimensions. This can be liberating as it allows for greater flexibility as the imagination can run wild, however, it could also become problematic. Even though you have the ability to bend the rules, the plot line concerned still needs to be credible for the reader. There have to be valid reasons for the rules to be bent. For example, extensive space travel is a large part of Jewel’s quest in finding her brother – so far, in fact, it would take millions of years to travel there. As we all know the average span of a human life, one question that could then be raised is how Jewel could survive such a trip? For that, we have the solution of the stasis pods she has in her shuttle. I don’t think too much detail is required (actually – you could get bogged down if there is too much), but the explanation is there as to how she makes it to the other side and more importantly, it’s believable. It’s also a convenient way of glossing over what would end up being a long and rather dull trip in a computerised tin can.

I found Jewel really easy to get along with as a character. Who doesn’t love a bit of sassy, kick-ass action? It also helps that Jewel knows as little about her past as we do. Discovering what happened to her family during her childhood is a journey we take with her, and there is definitely scope for the story to progress further should the authors decide to. Not only that, the flexibity in creating a Universe is that other, separate stories can be written with similar themes to other books. That way, new characters and story arcs can be introduced. I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and I think there is plenty of opportunity for the ChaosNova universe to adopt a similar model for their stories, should they wish to try that.

I hope to see further books in the future, because I think this has a lot of potential for success. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I hope other readers love it as much as I do. Once again, thank you to Laura and David for hanging in there and also for the extra material they have produced.

I will post a link to this tomorrow, so stay tuned!
Rebecca mono

Blog Tour: Triple Cross Killer – Rosemarie Aquilina

Today I am excited to be taking part in a Blog Tour for Triple Cross Killer, by Rosemarie Aquilina, organised by Fiery Seas Publishing.
This is the first time I have written a review as a part of a tour, and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you all!
Triple Cross Killer
 
Triple Cross Killer
By Rosemarie Aquilina
Fiery Seas Publishing
December 5, 2017   
Thriller
Buy Links: Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kobo  iTunes
Book Trailer: here
 
 

Have you ever wondered what really happens to Santa Claus letters?  In Detroit and Sarasota some children’s letters are diverted and reviewed by Nick Archer, a religiously obsessed, narcissist. Nick responds, leaving a trail of devastation in the two cities.
In Detroit, co-ed partners and wise-cracking lovers, detectives Jaq McSween and David Maxwell, team up with Sarasota detectives Abel Mendoza and his partner, Rabbit, to find this daunting killer.
When Jaq’s friend, the lovely nurse, Rita Rose, takes a chance on love again, she gets caught in Nick’s web. Working with the ME, she joins in, adding her perspective when events take a sinister turn.
Can this diverse team of characters pool their insights, barbs, and taste for bad food to save Rita when she discovers the final clues or will she become the next victim?

Christmas is a time when children get to ask the man in the big red suit for their greatest desires… a new bike, toys and such. Some children end up getting a whole lot more than they bargained for…
When murder victims start turning up in two cities, it is a race against time to catch the killer before he escalates any further. Leaving distinctive marks on his victim, though no other trace as to his identity, will Jaq and David, with the help of Abel and Rabbit catch the killer before Christmas?
I love how we know the killer’s identity from the start; it makes a refreshing change from a typical “who dunnit” crime/thriller story. I would argue that this is more difficult to achieve, yet is executed flawlessly here. Rosemarie’s background is obviously a huge contributor to developing each and every character and exposure to such personalities is what makes both the plot and the characters feel so genuine.
God bless Rita – I feel so sorry that she ends up being involved with Nick. After her first marriage deteriorated she avoided the complications of another relationship for so long… and then when she finally does take the plunge, she ends up with this narcissist. Could she be this unlucky twice in a row by chance? Perhaps not…
Nick experienced a rough childhood. Being brought up in a family with an abusive father left it’s scars. As an adult, Nick adopts his extreme religious views and strives to protect children and their innocence from similar domestic issues. If I had to describe Nick to you three words, I wouldsay he is cold, calculated and clinical. No detail is missed. His planning is meticulous.
I think the book was also well paced – information is fed to you at the right points to keep intrigue peaked but not to give the whole game away. Naturally as the puzzle pieces fit together the full picture is unraveled, but there are a few surprises along the way! Just when you think you have everything sussed out there is a plot twist to pull the carpet out from underneath your feet!
Rita is a fantastic character. Maybe I relate to her more as she is a compassionate woman, who has unfortuntely been trodden into the dirt by so many people that she doesn’t know who to trust anymore. Whilst there are times I really wanted to shake her and make her see past Nick’s charm and understand what a controlling man he really is, I can see why she acted the way she did. Wanting someone to love and to be loved is not a crime, and when she decides to take a chance on Nick, she falls for him hard. Love is blind, so they say. There are a number of small sections in which I was praying nobody was looking over my shoulder at work (thankfully nobody did), but I do think they were essential to the story in conveying the control Nick has over Rita – physically and emotionally.
Personally, I am very picky about books around the crime or thriller genre. They have to be written very well and have developed plots in order to compete within a large market. I can proudly say I loved Triple Cross Killer, and I have no doubt that it will hold its own. I wish Rosemarie every success with the book, because I think all the praise is deserved.
Congratulations on the book release, and thank you for the opprtunity to read and review Triple Cross Killer!
Divider mono
 
Rosemarie Aquilina

About the Author:

Rosemarie Aquilina is the mother of five children. Elected as a 30th Circuit Court Judge serving in the General Trial Division, after having served as a 55th District Court Judge in Mason, Michigan, she takes pride in public serve.
In 1986, Judge Aquilina became the first female JAG Officer in the history of the Michigan Army National Guard, she retired in 2006 with twenty years Honorable Service.  She is an adjunct law professor at both Western Michigan University—Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Michigan State University College of Law and has earned teaching awards at both institutions. Judge Aquilina is the former owner of Aquilina Law Firm, PLC, and former host of a syndicated radio talk show called Ask the Family Lawyer.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books of the Year

Hi everyone!!
So I figured it was about time I shared my top reads of the year with you, as we are fast approaching the end of the year (and those all-important reading challenge deadlines!) I’m pleased to say I am so close to mine, being on the LAST BOOK of my challenge, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.
I’m keeping matters brief here, but if you want to read more of my thoughts about any of these book, I have linked my reviews to each title for you.
So, without any further preamble (to which I am apt), here are my Top Ten Reads of the Year:-

10 River God – Wilbur Smith

River God
River God was recommended to me by a work colleague and I am glad I have started the series. The writing style is wonderful, and I am also blessed to know that a dear family member of mine used to love the works of Wilbur Smith. Knowing that gives me another little thing to remember them by. I can’t say I love all the characters all the time, but I can’t wait to see where the rest of the series takes us.
 

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – J. R. R. Tolkien

LOTR Return cover
I am both sad and gladdened to have finished this series this year. That probably sounds odd to some, but there is nothing quite the same about reading a book again for the second time. That won’t stop me, but it doesn’t have that magic spark you get when you don’t know what is going to happen and the suspense is killing you. Admittedly, you probably pick up on more subtle hints when you read again… I’ll have to find out when I revisit.
 

The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom
Here is another series started on the basis of both watching the TV series and on a recommendation. Cornwell’s writing is also fantastic and he succeeds in writing Uhtred’s character in such a way that he is loveably arrogant – and that is hard to do. I also love the historical fiction element, and with the filming of the next series starting next year, I’ll have to get reading!!
 

Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett

Witches Abroad.jpg
This is, so far, my favourite book by Terry Pratchett. I love the fairytale theme and the messages he so often likes to portray. Greed and vanity can be your downfall if you let it rule you. I also love to see the development of Gytha Ogg’s character. In the prior Witches books, she takes more of a backseat and that doesn’t suit her. I love the bawdy jokes, her huge personality and “don’t give a monkeys” attitude. Witches Abroad is satire at its best.
 

Making History – Stephen Fry

Making History
I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did. Again taking a leaf out of History’s book, it considers what might have happened had Adolf Hitler not been born and the impact on the rest of the world. It is an entertaining, fictional read, with our main character progressing from bumbling through life to changing the course of History rapidly, and each of the characters are very relatable.
 

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird.jpg
I’m glad I tackled this classic this year. It is a book that was available to study through school, though it wasn’t one I was ever fortunate enough to read there. I’m glad I took the plunge though, as it makes for provocative reading in terms of educating ourselves on the injustice of the system in place not all that long ago. Makes you think, huh.
 

The Green Mile – Stephen King

Green Mile
I have lost count of the number of excited rants I have had about this book, and I am not going to go into another one because we could be here all day! Again, as in with To Kill a Mockingbird, The Green Mile is a real eye-opener as to how segregated society was (and arguably, still is). I won’t get into it though. If you want to read more, check out my full review by clicking on the title.
 

IT – Stephen King

IT
This is the longest book I have read all year. Not only that, it captures your attention and stirs your imagination, wondering what could be so terrible as to haunt the town of Derry so brutally. The fact that a book can be so long and both 1) popular and 2) keep your attention throughout, says a lot about Stephen King’s writing. What a legend this man is.
 

2     The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings 2
If I have one regret about this book, it is that I haven’t picked it up sooner. I literally only started reading this in October and I can testify it promises to be a fantastic series! Book 3 0f 10, Oathbringer, has only just been released, so I am going to have to pace myself I think.
Who am I kidding, I am not going to pace myself at all…
 

1     Thank you for review requests!


Lastly, I want to say a HUGE thank you to all you independent authors that approached me with review requests this year. I am very humbled that each of you took the time to read my blog and chose to approach me for a review. I couldn’t possibly pick any one of these over the others as a favourite, as I have read such wonderful and diverse books, so I wanted to take the time to celebrate them all.
 
I truly have been able to read some fantastic books this year and I hope to have as much success next year. What have you been reading and absolutely loved? If you have any recommendations for next year I would love to hear them!!
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 17th December 2017

Hi everyone!!
December just seems to be flying by!! Is anybody else finding that time runs away from them lately? Between working, blogging and trying to get ready for Christmas (I am comparatively unorganised this year bearing in mind my usual standard), the weeks just seem to be merging in with one another.
I’m normally one of those people who is ready for Christmas by November. Yep, I am one of those. I hate the last minute panic, and yet this year I am doing just that. I have had problems getting presents when I finally do find something suitable and it’s all one giant mess. I held off buying presents early as I went to some Christmas markets at the end of last month but came back more empty-handed than I expected. If I do that again next year, I think I’ll leave the stocking-filler presents for the markets. Is it acceptable to start Christmas shopping in January?! Aha…
 

Books Read

Triple Cross Killer
This week I’ve been reading Triple Cross Killer by Rosemarie Aquilina. You’ll remember last Sunday that I had literally just started the book. I had hoped to have this read by now, but with department lunches with work and then the Black Eye Friday Christmas party… I had less free time than usual and it didn’t pan out as I’d hoped. I am about 65% of the way through, so I’ll have to pull my finger out and get this read as my review is due on Thursday.
 

Books Discovered


I decided to treat myself to a couple of books since my last update. Well, it is the season of giving after all, and if I can’t give myself a little gift then who can I… right?!
After my last Sunday Summary, I discovered Merchants of Virtue by Paul Monk. It is a true story of religious persecution experienced by the French under the rule of Louis XIV, aka Louis the Great.
I also discovered The Saint’s Rise by Michael John Grist. His bio quotes that he is an author of “dark and weird science fiction and fantasy books“. The Saint’s Rise involves plague and prophecy, so I was curious. This is also a very new release – it was published on 13th December!
 


 
Following my “Down the TBR Hole post, I’ve also added the books I opted to keep to the reading list from my Goodreads “pile”.
 

Coming Up…

Next week is going to be a busy one in terms of the blog!
On Tuesday you can expect a Top Ten blog post, in which I will be picking my favourite books of the year. This was something I was debating about posting last week, and although I technically haven’t finished the year yet, I think we are close enough!
As I mentioned above, I am reviewing Triple Cross Killer on Thursday as part of a Blog Tour arranged with Fiery Seas Publishing… so I really need to go and finish that book!
I’ll also be posting another review on Friday for Seeker by David Noe and Laura Loolaid. This is the second review request I took on this month and I’m glad they approached me with a copy of the book. It was refreshing to read some pure science-fiction for a change! So, watch this space for Friday.
Setting a provisional date for Saturday, David and Laura have agreed to do some extra material with me about the book. They usually work collaboratively and the recordings of such are posted on their YouTube Channel (I strongly recommend you check it out – I loved their outtakes video particularly). Once the video has been uploaded, I’ll be posting a link and for anyone not able to watch, I’ll be working on transcribing it for you too!
AND THEN after we’ve squeezed in all this madness, it will be Sunday, aka Christmas Eve I’ll be doing a wrap up as usual before taking a very short break for the festive season.
Are you ready for it?
Rebecca mono

Review: Remember For Me – Diana Tarant Schmidt

***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

Fiction is a work of art.

It is a form of writing that can both conform to the norms of reality or alternatively stretch the boundaries as far as they can go. The only limitation is your imagination. Could it be possible to achieve both of these aims at the same time?  Absolutely.

Remember For Me
Goodreads

Clara Eros thought her life was ending with Alzheimer’s. She was mistaken.

A war between good and evil has raged for as long as humanity has existed, and the balance of power between its forces has always remained equal. But that longstanding balance has begun to shift, and the survival of mankind may be at risk. What is the source of this duality, and how do the proponents of light and darkness use humans to further their cause?

When Clara Eros awakens with no memory, her questions are fundamental: who is she; and why is she here? The answer she receives is predetermined and singular: she has been recruited to fight a battle against the reign of darkness. But is Clara just a pawn in a much larger game?

Once her transformation is complete, Clara finds herself, in body and mind, as a younger, stronger version of the person she can no longer remember, and now she must search for the common thread hidden within malevolence and turn the tide in a war where humanity is succumbing to chaos and brutality. Will she be strong enough to bring humanity back into the light?

 

When Diana kindly approached me with a request to read and review Remember For Me, I was immediately drawn in by each character’s experience of terminal illness – in particular, Cancer, Alzheimer’s and Dementia. As awful as they are, I’m glad that these issues are being talked about. We all think it will never happen to us, and maybe we are right. I know some that have fought their battle with cancer and won. I have also known others that lost, some of them children, and I want to take a minute to reflect on these people.

Alzheimers and Dementia are also conditions familiar to me. Sadly, a family member of mine suffered from the condition for a number of years before she passed away from this world. I never had to see her at her worst, but I can relate to a lot of what happens surrounding our MC, Clara.

The presence of suffering in the world is an important theme throughout the book, but equally important themes are balance, faith, hope and altruism.

Clara is living out her last days on Earth, unable to even recognise her family, never mind her surroundings. Elaina, her daughter, struggles to cope. Is it fair for her children to see their grandma and risk them remembering her as she is now, instead of the great woman she once was? As she slowly slips between the waking world and her alternative life, she is mentored by Elpis, and she begins to learn of the good she is able to do once she is free of her limited physical body.

In her new life, Clara is a supercomputer genius. She is a young and capable version of herself; she can research and memorise information relating to the activities of the Poneros, which Elpis needs in order to save countless human lives. Armed with her knowledge, her new companions go out into the field to prevent the next threat from taking place.

Tommy is an eight-year-old boy who has spent his childhood in and out of hospital. Fighting a losing battle against cancer, he gradually succumbs to the illness. When he “awakens” as a young man on a train platform a commotion breaks out. A woman has fallen onto the tracks. Tom instinctively rescues the woman just before the train screeches to a halt where she lay and becomes an anonymous hero. Leaving the station, he meets Andreas, a member of the Go’El. His new life begins.

Life is all about balance. Good and evil. In order to be ready, our main characters had to suffer immeasurably in their first life in order to achieve great things in the next. After their “rebirth”, Clara and Tom team up with Andreas, Elpis, Banko and others in the fight against the Poneros and their evil escalation of human terror… but will they succeed in stopping the most ambitious plans yet? What sacrifices will have to be made for the lives of thousands?
I felt I was able to relate to each of the characters in their own way. The struggles Clara and her family had to live through is an experience I have had myself. If you have never known anybody with such debilitating conditions, then take my word for it that Diana has written this in a very authentic way.

I thought it was clever using Greek names for the family in her part of the story. Whilst contextually it makes sense, I think it is an ingenious device in helping us relate directly to Clara. Allow me to explain. As an English reader, I read the word grandma in Greek and was told what it meant. Reading on, I was able to recognise the word, but it had no personal meaning. You know the word represents a familial figure, but in a detached way. I would expect this mirrors feelings that may be felt by a person experiencing such memory loss as Clara does.

I think the book blends shocking reality with an encouraging twist of fiction. Who wouldn’t like to believe that there is something better on the other side, after all? There is a respectful balance in honouring both the good and bad that goes on in the world. Faith has it’s part as well, and although I am not a believer in any God myself, it didn’t spoil my experience. Instead, it made me consider where my faith does fall, and after consideration… I decided it lay in humanity. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I have faith in the people that take risks and endanger themselves to save others. I have faith that people will strive to do what they think is best for others when they are empowered to make that decision. Lastly, whilst inevitably our varied opinions will lead to conflict, I have faith that the majority of us can respect our differences and strive to get along as best we can.

Don’t get me wrong…you can read into the messages within Remember For Me as much as you will. It can be read as purely a fictional piece or you can get a little philosophical, as I did. It is up to you entirely, but either way, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I am grateful for the opportunity to read a great work of fiction, so thank you!
Rebecca mono

Down the TBR Hole #9

Today, I am continuing to clear Goodreads of unwanted books (so obviously, I can just fill it up again!) For anyone who hasn’t come across the tag before (in which case, where have you been?), here is a refresher on what this entails:-
This meme was started by Lia @ Lost in a Story. Here is how it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Here are the next ten books on the TBR up for review:-
 

1 & 2   Worldwaker and Hometaker by Dean Wilson


Goodreads – Worldwaker

Every victory is its own defeat. General Rommond’s efforts to amass technological superiority over the enemy has resulted in the creation of a weapon that could destroy everything, and a faction just mad enough to use it.
The Armageddon Brigade has awoken from its deep slumber, and it seeks to wake the world with it. Attracting the brightest, and most unstable, of minds, this splinter group of the Resistance has become the greatest thorn in Rommond’s side.
The Resistance and the Regime must unite to defeat a foe that answers to neither of them. Yet their deep divisions and long-held suspicions threaten to end the Great Iron War once and for all—by ending everything.

Goodreads – Hometaker

The Resistance races against time to complete the missile-launcher known as the Hometaker, capable of opening a gateway to the land the Regime came from, and exposing the Iron Emperor for all the evils he has done.
Everything rests on the secrecy of the mission, but from day one tongues are wagging. The atmosphere is like dynamite. An overheard word could light the fuse. With no time left on the clock, General Rommond is forced to make an audacious plan: finish the construction of the Hometaker on the move, driving straight towards the enemy, who have assembled in unimaginable force.
The Great Iron War is coming to an end. It’s all or nothing—their world or ours.

I started this series this year and whilst I enjoyed the first few books, it has lost its appeal for me. I think the foundation plot is excellent, but in trying to up-the-ante the books become so farfetched and at the same time manage to be repetitive, the series loses its sparkle. I mean, who starts a war and has a spare blimp tucked up their sleeve, you know, just in case the giant submarine just happens to be sabotaged and run out of air?
Oh, you DO?! It’s just me then…
Verdict: Go
 

3  The Thief Taker – C S Quinn

The Thief Taker

Goodreads – The Thief Taker

The year is 1665. Black Death ravages London. A killer stalks the streets in a plague doctor’s hood and mask…
When a girl is gruesomely murdered, thief taker Charlie Tuesday reluctantly agrees to take on the case. But the horrific remains tell him this is no isolated death. The killer’s mad appetites are part of a master plan that could destroy London and reveal the dark secrets of Charlie’s own past.
Now the thief taker must find this murderous mastermind before the plague obliterates the evidence street by street. This terrifying pursuit will take Charlie deep into the black underbelly of old London, where alchemy, witchcraft and blood-spells collide.
In a city drowned in darkness, death could be the most powerful magic of all.

Doesn’t this just sound so dark and delicious?! I am a huge champion of historical fiction, in case any of you are unaware, so this is right up my street. I had half forgotten I added this to the list. Now I’ve seen it again, I’ll have to add it to the actual reading list I am working from… and probably near the top!
Verdict: Keep!!
 

4  The Feedback Loop – Harmon Cooper

The Feedback Loop.jpg
Goodreads – The Feedback Loop

Stuck in a virtual dreamworld called The Loop, a man named Quantum Hughes struggles to free himself from a glitch that forces him to live the same day on repeat. His life changes when a mysterious letter arrives one morning from a woman named Frances Euphoria, the first human player he has made contact with in a very long time. Once Frances appears, members of a murder guild known as the Reapers begin surfacing in The Loop, hoping to capture Quantum or worse — kill him. To further complicate matters, The Loop itself is doing everything it can to stop Quantum from finding the hidden logout point by turning everything in the virtual dreamworld against him.
With time running out, will Quantum break free from his digital coma before he’s captured or killed by the Reapers? Who is Frances Euphoria, and what does she actually know about how long Quantum has been trapped?

Technology meets Groundhog Day.  I like it. I’m trying to read a little more in the science-fiction branch, and at less than 200 pages, I think I can manage this no problem!
Verdict: Keep
 

5  Red Sister – Mark Lawrence

Red Sister
Goodreads – Red Sister

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.
But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.
Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

I loved the Broken Empire series. On that and faith alone, I decided to get a copy of this book, in the hope it will be just as good as his other books. I’m sure it will!
Verdict: Keep
 

6  Blue Skies – Matthew Mather

Blue Skies
Goodreads – Blue Skies

Olympia is a high-powered New York advertising executive with perhaps the chance of a lifetime when she lands the biggest account of her life – the new Cognix synthetic reality promotion. The stress, however, is killing her, and she desperately needs relief from the distraction of everything and everyone around her…
All of the Atopia stories begin at the same moment in time so that you can start by reading any of them, and then read the others in any order you choose to slowly reveal the mystery and terrifying danger that connects them all. Atopia is a near future world without borders that balances on the brink of post-humanism and eco-Armageddon.

I must have added this on a whim because I genuinely don’t even remember looking at this before. I have a lot of great books on the list so I’ll put this aside for now.
Verdict: Go
 

7  The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan

The Keeper of Lost Things

Goodreads – The Keeper of Lost Things

A charming, clever, and quietly moving debut novel of of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us.
Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles—Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.
Bone china cup and saucer-Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.
Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancée, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects—the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidentally left behind—and writing stories about them. Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.
Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter, Sunshine, and a welcome distraction in Freddy, the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.
Long ago, Eunice found a trinket on the London pavement and kept it through the years. Now, with her own end drawing near, she has lost something precious—a tragic twist of fate that forces her to break a promise she once made.
As the Keeper of Lost Objects, Laura holds the key to Anthony and Eunice’s redemption. But can she unlock the past and make the connections that will lay their spirits to rest?
Full of character, wit, and wisdom, The Keeper of Lost Things is a heartwarming tale that will enchant fans of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Garden Spells, Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, and The Silver Linings Playbook.

I can’t help but think that this sounds like a lovely read. To my mind, it’s the kind of book I expect you would want to read to wind down. It doesn’t sound like it will be heavy reading (and trust me, I read my fair share of those) but that makes a refreshing change once in a while.
Verdict: Keep
 

8  King Arthur’s Rise: The Forgotten Emperor Omnibus – Paul Bannister

King Arthur' Rise
Goodreads – King Arthur’s Rise

Paul Bannister’s epic Forgotten Emperor series tells of the legendary rise of the British Emperor. Books 1-3 are now available in this special omnibus edition.
ARTHUR BRITANNICUS
Carausius’ father was a respected warrior chief, a leader of men. But just a boy, Carausius witnesses his violent death.
As the boy grows into a man and then a soldier, he dedicates himself to the cause of Rome.
As a centurion in the Empire’s mighty Army, he earns the respect of his men. But, just like his father before him, he is surrounded by enemies.
Will Carausius emerge victorious and earn the greatest title of all. Or will he meet an early, violent death, as his father did before him…?
ARTHUR IMPERATOR
The Roman fleet has been defeated and the threat of invasion removed.
Arthur Britannicus has taken the throne as Imperator – Emperor of Britain.
However, as the threat from Rome retreats, the intimidation from Saxon warlords intensifies.
Arthur must draw his sword and muster his forces again if he is to keep his island under British rule…
ARTHUR INVICTUS
Britain has lost its battle with Rome and the city lies in ruins.
But the Romans, under threat in their homeland from barbarian invaders, have retreated.
Arthur Imperator must reunite the fractured British tribes to lead them back to victory – and reclaim the kingdom.
Can Arthur persuade Rome’s enemies to join him and create a strong enough force to take down Gaul?
Or will Maximian’s might once again prove too strong for the British people…?

The verdict I have come to has actually surprised me. As stated above, I love historical fiction, but I think I am going to take these off the list for now and maybe come back to them later on. It isn’t one of the periods of history I find myself drawn to, but maybe is something to explore in the future?
Verdict: Go
 

9  Hild – Nicola Griffith

Hild

Goodreads – Hild

Hild is born into a world in transition. In seventh-century Britain, small kingdoms are merging, usually violently. A new religion is coming ashore; the old gods’ priests are worrying. Edwin of Northumbria plots to become overking of the Angles, ruthlessly using every tool at his disposal: blood, bribery, belief.
Hild is the king’s youngest niece. She has the powerful curiosity of a bright child, a will of adamant, and a way of seeing the world—of studying nature, of matching cause with effect, of observing human nature and predicting what will happen next—that can seem uncanny, even supernatural, to those around her. She establishes herself as the king’s seer. And she is indispensable—until she should ever lead the king astray. The stakes are life and death: for Hild, her family, her loved ones, and the increasing numbers who seek the protection of the strange girl who can read the world and see the future.
Hild is a young woman at the heart of the violence, subtlety, and mysticism of the early medieval age—all of it brilliantly and accurately evoked by Nicola Griffith’s luminous prose. Recalling such feats of historical fiction as Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter, Hild brings a beautiful, brutal world—and one of its most fascinating, pivotal figures, the girl who would become St. Hilda of Whitby—to vivid, absorbing life.

This is the kind of historical fiction that I like, (as well as the Victorian period). There’s actually a lot of historical fiction on this list at the moment, I notice.
Verdict: Keep
 

10  Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer
Goodreads – Strange the Dreamer

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

I currently have the hardback of this sat on my bookshelf, and since getting a copy I have heard wonderful things about it. I can’t wait to dive into this either!!
Verdict: Keep
 
Have you read any of the books on my list or are they on your list too? Have I made any mistakes? Any comments are much appreciated!!
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 10 December 2017

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend, whatever you have planned today!
The end of this week has been quite enjoyable as I got to go home from work early on Friday. It had snowed the night before and most people hadn’t made it in the next morning as a result. Those of us that did get in just covered the basics and then went home! Result! It’s also the first time I have driven in the snow, (we don’t get it often). I was just happy I didn’t get stuck!

Books Read


I’m pleased with my reading progress this week. For the past few months I have been taking on two review requests, and to make sure I get around to them, I always prioritise reading them first. This week, I have managed to read both of my ARC’s, being Remember For Me by Diana Tarant Schmidt and Seeker by David Noe/Laura Loolaid.
I’m also pleased to announce that I am taking part in a Blog Tour, in conjunction with Fiery Seas Publishing on the 21st December. For this, I will be reviewing Triple Cross Killer by Rosemarie Aquilina. I made a start on reading this yesterday, so I should have it done in plenty of time for the tour! It’s rare that I manage to get onto reading the third book on my list in one week, so I’m am happy with my progress.
I am also two books ahead of schedule in my reading challenge, with Triple Cross Killer being book 59 of 60… so the end is in sight!
 

Books Discovered

The Iron King
So I’ve only added one book to the list this week, and that is The Iron King by Maurice Druon. I found this book via Bookbub and I am so excited to read it, I’ve actually bumped it up quite high on the reading list. Irrespective of the claims to have inspired A Game of Thrones, I love historical fiction so getting a copy was a no-brainer!
 

Coming Up…

I was debating with myself as to whether to do a Top Ten Tuesday or another Down the TBR Hole post this week. I’ve ultimately decided that for me, sorting out my reading list would be more productive. I’m also thinking I’ll save the TTT post until I’ve finished my reading challenge, and then I can share with you my Top Reads of the Year. Is this something you would like to see? Let me know in the comments!!
On Friday I am going to post my review of Remember For Me. Whilst being a fictional novel, it does touch on some sensitive topics and it was because of this that the book appealed to me. I can’t wait to share that with you all!
Lastly, I’ll wrap up the week as usual!!
What have you been reading this week? How is your reading challenge progress going?
Rebecca mono

The Black Prism – Brent Weeks

Finally, I get to bring you a review of The Black Prism by Brent Weeks!
Life has been conspiring against me lately, it seems. Firstly I didn’t get around to reading this in October as originally planned. I then made this the last book on my list for November, so it just feels like it has taken FOREVER and a day to get around to.
 
The Black Prism
The Black Prism – Goodreads

Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.
When Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

As I am sure I have already mentioned when reviewing other fantasy books (particularly works by Brandon Sanderson), I love it when “magic” is integrated into a story in such a way that it has some kind of physical element. For example, in the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, the superhuman abilities such as being able to “fly” or have enhanced vision are obtained by ingesting and burning metals; they “fly” by pulling or pushing on other objects in their environment. Brent Weeks has used a similar idea of grounding his magic into reality by dependency on light. Personally, I think I like this aspect as it creates moments of weakness and if planned well, this conflict can really add to the plot.
Kip is devastated when his hometown ends up embroiled in war. To make an example to other rebel towns, the town is destroyed by the newly anointed King Garadul of Tyrea. Kip barely escapes with his life, but it is not just the burning of his home that turns his world upside down. Kip is a drafter, and when he makes a last stand against the King’s men he is saved by his father, the most powerful man in the world. Kip is dragged into his new life as the Prism’s… ahem… “nephew” and he begins to learn how to channel his abilities in a world rapidly descending into war once again.
I think the book had the right amount of action to keep things moving forward at an appropriate pace. If anything, the narrative around points in which battles are fought is drawn out longer than the rest of the book, but given that the conflict is a major part of the story, this is understandable. It is here that a lot of the magic is used so ample description of how it works is required. Given that each colour has it’s own properties/abilities, this does need explaining.
Kip is a young man… a teenager really. He is the son of a single mother with a drug addiction, physically unfit and has spent the majority of his life being taken advantage of. In theory, this should have made him a likeable character for me; he is far from perfect and frankly has low self-esteem… I’ve been there. There was just something missing with Kip for me. It isn’t that disliked him… I just didn’t like him either. I can’t say I felt attached to any of the characters in this book, if I’m honest, and I think this is where I feel somewhat let down.
The plot and concept of magic are interesting and whilst I can talk about what I like about these, as a whole, I can’t say I really enjoyed the book. It was readable but lacked the necessary spark. I may pick up the next book at some stage if I’m bored… but I won’t be gutted if I don’t finish the series either. It’s rare that I finish a book and find myself sat on the fence… which is where I find myself now.
I by far prefer the NightAngel series, which I read years ago now.
Apologies this is so short and sweet, but I am having a hard time writing about something in which I have very little feeling towards. I’m frustrated if anything that I didn’t love it having waited so long to read it… but never mind. We can’t like everything.
Have you read any books by Brent Weeks? Do you agree with any of the points I’ve made? Do you disagree?
Rebecca mono
 

Blog Tour: Roll the Dice – Wayne Avrashow

Hi everybody!!
Today I am delighted to be taking part in another blog tour, courtesy of Fiery Seas Publishing. Take a peek at the Book Trailer here!
Roll the Dice.jpg
 
Roll the Dice bWayne Avrashow
Fiery Seas Publishing
November 28, 2017   
Political Thriller
 
Amazon    Kobo    iTunes    Barnes & Noble
 
 
Roll the Dice was published on November 28th, so I think I can speak for all book bloggers in congratulating Wayne for all his hard work. You can breathe a sigh of relief because it has all paid off!
Just how hard is it to get that first draft manuscript into a published novel? I was given the opportunity to ask the author about his experience…
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“Both processes: writing a novel and retaining a publisher were time-consuming, circuitous, thrilling roller-coaster rides with uncertain twists and turns.  I landed on terra firma and delighted to share the emotions of those rides.  I overcame the obstacles and now revel in the ultimate victory for an aspiring author—my novel Roll the Dice will be published November 28 by Fiery Seas Publishing.
My novel’s main protagonist is Tyler Sloan, a rock star who exits the stage to campaign for the United States Senate.  Sloan has a complicated and difficult relationship with his father Mike, who was a nationally famous politician. The novel has plot lines with intrigue, corruption and sexual tension between Sloan and his young, attractive media advisor Bree Baker.  A quick plug—the novel is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads and in selected bookstores.
The first novels I remember reading were Ian Fleming’s James Bond series.  I love that genre, but the “write what you know” cliché is accurate.  I have no knowledge of that world; or the nuances of crimes and police work that Michael Connelly skillfully explores in many of his novels.  I do not hold the passion to create a fictional world such as Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. 
I have been an attorney for more than two decades and volunteered in my first political campaign when I was 17.  Before I graduated college, I was the campaign manager for a successful Los Angeles City Council campaign.  I managed another victorious campaign and served on the staffs of those two Council members, including as Chief of Staff. I later served on two government commissions and in other roles in politics and government.
As an attorney, I draft legal documents, but needed guidance to write fiction.  It is not a skill set taught in law school.  I attended UCLA Extension courses on fiction writing.  I would encourage any aspiring author to attend classes, review online material, read books or view YouTube videos of a host of tutors, my choice is best-selling author Michael Levin, who skillfully explains the writing process.
The most important recommendation is to simply keep writing.  The goal is to write daily.  Just keep going.  I jotted down notes of interesting phrases, observations, and people I met. Exaggerate, combine, twist, mold and mangle these qualities for your novel.
Writing the book consumed years of my life.  I never suffered from “writer’s block,” but my legal practice is a time-consumptive occupation.   I rewrote Roll the Dice many times; it was an illusion when I thought the work was completed.
When I thought the novel was completed, I entered the manuscript in online book contests.  I survived the initial cuts in Amazon’s CreateSpace contest, but did not proceed as far as I hoped.  With my confidence muted, I did some research.
I went online and to the bookstore to acquire ideas on fine-tuning a novel.  I rewrote it, tightened it, reduced a character or two, combined or eliminated scenes and once again, thought I was ready.  The novel was completed.  It was done.
My first real success was when the manuscript was named one of the year’s best unpublished manuscripts in a Kirkus Reviews contest.  The novel was completed. Now it was done.
I had a fortuitous meeting with a friend, a former executive at two major studios.  I described the plot and main characters and asked for his input.  He suggested one substantial change; that the deceased father of my protagonist Tyler Sloan be alive and become a major character.  This one change added significant conflicts throughout the book.  I rewrote it again.  Once again, I was now certain the novel was done.
I sought out a literary agent.   Cue the drumroll— the Rejection Process began.  I reminded myself that the best-selling authors of our time were rejected.  John Grisham was rejected by 16 publishers and J.K. Rowling nearly matched it with 15 rejections.  The Beatles were rejected numerous times.  One Decca Records executive passed, and informed their manager Brian Epstein, that “guitar groups are on their way out.” Good call.
I only needed one agent and braced myself for the expected deluge of rejections. I was not disappointed.  One rejection was humorous.  An agent took some time to write on my query letter which was on my legal stationary, that he would, “never represent an attorney as an author.”  No profanity, but his comments were laced with insults as to the honesty of my profession.   That agent was likely to be pleased to reject: Grisham, David Baldacci, Scott Turow, Meg Gardiner, Linda Fairstein and countless other attorney-authors.   You have to smile.
More than one agent expressed an interest and I retained New York-based, Linda Langton of the Langton Literary Agency. Linda is perfect; supportive, smart and patient.  I was once again certain the novel was complete.
Linda was pleased, but believed the manuscript needed an editor to be commercially viable.  After the editor’s comments, I once again rewrote Roll the Dice.  One bit of advice to all aspiring authors; accept the input of a skilled professional.  I gladly accepted Linda’s advice and the editor greatly enhanced the manuscript.  With her guidance, the manuscript was transformed into a finished work.  The novel was now ready to be published.
I was very fortunate to have a skilled literary agent who located Fiery Seas Publishing to publish my first novel.  I have enjoyed a varied career in politics and law; however, the satisfaction of a publisher believing in my work ranks among my most satisfying career achievements.
I admit that even holding the book in my hand, there are times when I would revise certain sentences or phrases.   However, the novel is now complete.”
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Wayne Avrashow
About the Author:
Wayne Avrashow was the campaign manager for two successful Los Angeles City Council campaigns and a Deputy/Chief of Staff to those two elected City Council members. He served as a senior advisor for a successful city-wide referendum in the City of Los Angeles, co-authored ballot arguments on Los Angeles County-wide measures, served as Chairman for a Los Angeles County ballot measure, and was a Los Angeles government Commissioner for nearly twenty years. He currently serves as a Board Member of the Yaroslavsky Institute, a public policy institute founded by long time Southern California elected official, and now UCLA professor, Zev Yaroslavsky.
His background in politics, government, business, and law provides unique insight into the machinations and characters that populate political campaigns.
Wayne is a practicing attorney who specializes in government advocacy, real estate, and business law. Formerly, he was an officer in two real estate development firms.  As a lawyer-lobbyist, he has represented clients before numerous California municipalities and in Nevada and Idaho. He has lectured at his law school and taught at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. He has also authored numerous op-ed articles that appeared in daily newspapers, legal, business, and real estate publications.  In addition, he is the author of a self-published book for the legal community, Success at Mediation—10 Strategic Tools for Attorneys.

Sunday Summary – 3rd December 2017

Hi everyone!!
This week has been a little bit slow on the reading front, as I have had a few other things to catch up with. To that effect, I didn’t get my November Reading List finished. I shouldn’t forget that reading six books constitutes my upper limit in any one month… plus I went away Christmas shopping for a few days. I think I am too hard on myself sometimes.
Over the past couple of days, I have had the creative bug so I’ve been using the time to work on setting up a bullet journal for next year. There are so many different examples out there that it is hard not to get inspired. I’ve set up the key, index page, plus I’ll have a couple of spreads to record the books I am reading (2018-2019), as well as a spread for blog milestones and for any writing competitions I enter. Next, I have completed a cover page for 2018 with a place to write my goals for the year, and my current WIP is a cover sheet for January.
If anyone has any recommendations for me for things to include in my journal, please leave a comment for me! I’d love to know how your journal works for you.
Also, further to publishing my Reading List on Friday, I have now added an additional book. I applied to review a book as part of a Blog Tour, courtesy of Fiery Seas Publishing. As a result, I have added Triple Cross Killer to the list of books to read this month!
Triple Cross Killer
Triple Cross Killer – Goodreads

Books Read


I finally managed to finish The Black Prism by Brent Weeks last night! *victory cheer*
It feels like it has taken forever but I finally got there! I’ll be taking the time to review this next week so I hope you can check that out!
I have also made a very small start on Remember For Me by Diana Tarant Schmidt; by that, I literally mean a few pages… but a start is a start!
 

Books Discovered


When I saw Too Like the Lightning come up on one of my daily emails from Bookbub, I knew the name was familiar. When I looked into it, I realised that it was a book I had requested to read via Netgalley and was declined for! I’ve not let that put me off though – the book does sound good! All the better for being able to get a copy of it at a discounted price!
Living on A Rainbow is a book that explores the impact of mental health and that is something I think we could all benefit from educating ourselves a little more about. The author approached me about it and having read the sample on Amazon, I knew this was something I was going to enjoy.
Kings of the Wyld is a book that I came across in discussion with H.P in relation to my Reading List: December 2017 blog post. He advised that this was a book he was going to try and read by the end of the year. Whilst there is no chance I am also going to achieve that, it is something I am adding to the list for future reading!
 

Coming Up…

So next week I am taking part in another blog tour, so look out for that post on Tuesday!
On Friday, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on The Black Prism by Brent Weeks, including what I think of this different style of magic system.
On Sunday I’ll wrap up the week as usual!
Rebecca mono