Author: fantasyst95

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Disappointing Books

Hi!! I hope everyone is having a wonderful Tuesday so far!
Today I wanted to do something a little different – it’s another meme frequenting the world of blogging and I’m excited to dive in!! Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish for the purpose of sharing lists about a variety of book-related topics.
Personally, I feel like I spend a lot of time talking about books I love and enjoy, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! After all, I am not intentionally going to pick up a book I know I am not going to like.
That being said, sometimes with the best will in the world, we cannot love everything. Books that other people rave about, or books you think you will really enjoy just don’t always cut the mustard. (This is a really bizarre expression, but I love it!) These books are the feature of today’s post, so let’s get to it!
I’m writing the list in reverse order, so I’m starting with the least offensive books:-
 

10. American Gods – Neil Gaiman

American Gods
I think I’ll get some hate on this one. It is not that I didn’t like it. I did. I DID, OKAY?! I just didn’t love it… and I really thought (hoped) I would. This is a book that has been talked about a lot this year and perhaps the hype got my hopes up. It’s an okay read – and I would probably pick it up again (as has been recommended to me)… but not yet.
 

9. Eric – Terry Pratchett

Eric
Again, this is a book in which I enjoyed certain parts of, but not all. Towards the end of the book, Rincewind and Eric have to make their way through Hell back to the Discworld. I particularly loved this part as Hell was basically run like an office, with memos, policy statements and torture by boredom instead of the traditional variety of physical methods. Working in an office for 35 hours a week, I saw the humour in this, but not much else. It isn’t a bad book, but not one of Pratchett’s finest in my humble opinion.
 

8. Moving Pictures – Terry Pratchett

Moving Pictures
It’s bad enough having one Pratchett book on here, never mind two!!
I just found this one to be really slow. At school I studied a lot of theatre so this parody of the magic of Hollywood should have been right up my street. Sad to say, I found it a bit dull.
 

7. The Inheritance Cycle series – Christopher Paolini


 
I started this series whilst studying my A-Levels, and I have fond memories of reading Eragon whilst on break duty, supervising the kids in the younger years.
I think by the time I came to read Eldest I had outgrown the series – I found it a little bit childish and ultimately, I have given up on it. If I had read it sooner I probably would have enjoyed it.
 

6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
My dad would absolutely hate me if I knew this was on my list of most disappointing books. I don’t mind the film so much, but I find it really silly. It’s not supposed to be a book you take seriously, sure. I just didn’t enjoy it all that much.
 

5. The Great Iron War Series – Dean Wilson


 
I started this series this year. I also DNF’d it this year. The foundations of the series are good – I love the base plot and the motivations of the characters. What I dislike about the books is how repetitive and unrealistic they are.
“Well damn, the enemy broke my super expensive submarine. Good job I kept an arsenal of weapons and a barrage balloon on standby… you know, just in case.”
Right. Sounds legit, no?

4. The Books of Pellinor – Alison Croggon


I really enjoyed three-quarters of this series. Guess which one let me down.
The Singing, of course. The build-up to this huge battle between “The Chosen One” and the darkness begins early on and you know what? By the time the battle actually came Alison must have realised she only had about 12 pages left in her, rushed the ending very badly, and for me, the whole series just fell flat on its face. I was so disappointed, as this had so much promise.

3. Magician’s Guild – Trudi Canavan

Magician's Guild
Now we are getting to the really bad books. This was a DNF pretty much straight away as I couldn’t get into it. There isn’t much more to it than that.
 

2. The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go
The idea of a world in which you can read minds sounds both fantastic and scary right?! I thought so too, but this was also a DNF straight away. I seem to recall I thought it came across a bit childish, but I attempted this years and years and years ago and truth be told, I’ve erased the painful memory of trying to read this from my mind.
 

1. The Darkness that Comes Before – Scott Bakker

The Darkness that Comes Before
What makes this book the worst on my list is that by every right, I should have enjoyed it. I felt so strongly that I should, I ended up forcing myself to read it and that was a mistake. I’ve even attempted a re-read years later and I cannot get into it. I don’t like the main character; I find the fantasy world confusing… the list goes on. It doesn’t get any better. I can honestly say that whilst I am sure someone out there loves it… I don’t. It gets the top prize for being the worst book I ever read.
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So that makes up my list of the Top Ten Most Disappointing Books!!
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The important thing to remember is that everybody has different tastes and we are all entitled to our opinions. I’m basically saying don’t hate on me for any of my choices, pretty please?
Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with me?
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Sunday Summary – 22 October 2017

Aren’t the weeks just flying by?! I cannot believe it is Sunday already… AGAIN!
It really will be Christmas before we know it!! (Don’t hurt me for pointing out the unequivocal truth – honestly, it’s sneaking up on me too!)
To get away from that slightly depressing thought, let’s talk about books instead!
 

Books Read

IT
This week has once again been dedicated to making my way through IT by Stephen King. When I prepared my Sunday Summary post last week I set myself the challenge of trying to get the book read by today. This week has presented a few interruptions to my usual reading time, so had you asked me yesterday if I was going to achieve my target, I would have said no.
I managed to catch up yesterday though (I read over 200 pages as well as all the housework, washing and other Saturday jobs) so now I have about 155 pages left to read until the end. It’s a new day and I’m going to push myself to get it finished. It’ll be a relief not to have to carry it around anymore! Plus the paperback cover has suffered a little having been carried around, but I knew it was going to happen. I just have to remind myself it shows the book is well loved every time I start crying on the inside.
 

Books Discovered

I have been very good this week – for me! Yes, I still bought a book.
A Plague of Giants
I saw a pre-release review for this book and I knew instantly I wanted it, so I bought it on release date, 19th October. I mentioned in my Sunday Summary on the 8th October that I had added it to the list – but now I can officially celebrate owning a copy!!
That is literally it for this section this week. It feels like a ghost town. I’ve been so absorbed in reading I think to even look for anything new. Not that I need to exactly, my TBR well and truly testifies that.
 

Coming Up…

Normally I would post a review on Tuesday. Whilst I am on track to get IT finished by then, I think my review would be rushed if I dived in straight away. Therefore I am changing up my schedule a bit! I feel like I am always talking about books I love, so on Tuesday, I am going to be publishing a “Top Ten” post featuring books I was disappointed with. My review of IT is going to be published on Friday – I haven’t even finished the book yet and I am already looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it!
My review of IT is going to be published on Friday – I haven’t even finished the book yet and I am already looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it!
As always I’ll be rounding up the week on Sunday – and hopefully, I’ll have a bit more to talk about next week!
What have you been reading?
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Down the TBR Hole #6

Hi everybody! So it’s been a little while since I last did one of these posts, and I really do need to clear the list down. Normally I go ahead and look at the next five books on the TBR but I am going to be going through the next TEN on my list today!
In case anyone needs a brush up on just what this tag entails:-
This meme was started by Lia @ Lost in a Story to clear out my reading list of unwanted books. I have old items on Goodreads that I need to sort through. 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?

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The Curse of Chalion – Lois McMaster Bujold

The Curse of Chalion.jpg
Goodreads
Okay, so I can see why old me added this to the list. At the time I was in the crux of adding just about every single fantasy book to the reading list purely because that was almost all I was reading at the time. Now my reading taste has changed and I’m reading far more diverse genres, this just doesn’t quite grip me enough to keep it on the list.
Verdict: Go
 

Low Town – Daniel Polansky

Low Town
Goodreads
Again I think my older taste in books reflects in the choice to read this one. It sounds similar in theme to something else I read recently, however, I also noticed the ratings on this book from people that actually left a detailed review were not great. Were this something I was still intrigued by, I wouldn’t let the ratings put me off. As I’m already inclined to take this off the list, I’ll trust my gut instinct.
Verdict: Go
 

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity
Goodreads
This is a really easy one for me – it’s an absolute keeper. I love historical fiction (WW2 in particular) and I think it’s really going to be a fantastic read. I am actually going to be reading this book pretty soon. Whilst my reading list is never set in stone until a couple of days before the next month starts, (and at that point, I commit for the month) I am more than likely looking at reading this in December. So excited!!
Verdict: KEEP!!!!!!!
 

Finnikin of the Rock – Melina Marchetta

Finnikin of the Rock
Goodreads
In all brutal honesty, my pre-diversity self probably saw a pretty cover, the world curse and went YUP!! MUST READ THIS!!
Having looked at this again, I am less than inspired. Not to be harsh, but I don’t think this will be my cup of tea.
Verdict: Go
 

The Ruins of Gorlan – John Flanagan

Rangers Apprentice
Goodreads
I cannot help but feel that the blurb for this book makes it sound like Magician’s Apprentice by Raymond E Feist. Does the story start with an orphan? Check. Do they end up becoming apprenticed in unusual circumstances? Check. See where I am going with this? I acknowledge the reviews for this are very good, but I don’t think I can unsee this correlation and its tarnished my view.
Verdict: Go
 

The Dragon’s Path – Daniel Abraham

The Dragons Path
Goodreads
This book is a typical fantasy in some ways, but equally unusual in others. Fantasy books involving war, and AGAIN with the orphans?! God forbid a child destined for a hard time have parents. To me, it seems a cop-out to make it easier for this kid to do whatever they have to in order to develop and allow the story to progress. That being said, the role of this orphan is not typical, so I’ll give it a chance.
Verdict: Keep
 

Radiance – Grace Draven

Radiance
Goodreads
Usually, fantasy with political elements usually excites me. But for the fact the synopsis of the book makes it sound like 90% of it is about the relationship between a Prince of nothing and a minor noblewoman, I might have kept it. Tentatively. Maybe. I don’t enjoy relationship-y, romance-y books. Huge turn-off.
Nope.
Verdict: GO!
 

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

Outlander
Goodreads
The synopsis of this book makes it seem pretty tame. I’ll admit, I hadn’t read the reviews until now. Do it – read the reviews… they are fucking hilarious!
I feel like I have been brutal to the TBR today and I think this has to be the worst feature of them all. I actually think this is going to be such a car crash to read (in terms of my preference of books) that I’ll see the funny side of it. I think I need a good laugh.
If you do too – read the reviews!! Please… if you do one thing today to make yourself smile, make it this. You won’t regret it.
Verdict: Keep
 

Quantum Night – Robert J. Sawyer

Quantum Night
Goodreads
With the exception of Code Name Verity, I think this is the second best book that has come up on the TBR list. It relates to human psychology and I loved the subject when I studied it for my A-Levels. An experimental psychologist finds a way to uncover undetected psychopaths in society. Turns out he needs to look a little closer to home. He joins forces with his former girlfriend, a quantum physicist to prevent society tearing itself apart with its own violent tendencies. It’s certainly different to many of the books I have featured today and I think it will be an interesting read.
Verdict: Keep
 

Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen
Goodreads
I added this book as I seem to remember people were raving about it. Admittedly this was before I started blogging and therefore I picked up on from my limited circles. Having reminded myself what it is about, I’m on the fence about it, to be honest. I added it because it seemed popular but I’m not sure I want to keep it. I’m sure I would find it enjoyable if I did read it, but not feeling so inclined to pick it up right now.
Verdict: Go
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It’s fair to say I’ve had a productive clear out – I’ve discarded six books and kept four, so I’m happy with that. Have you read any of the above books? Do you agree with my decisions? I would love to hear from you either way!
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Review: The War Queen – J. M. Robison

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to conduct an Author Interview with J.M Robison in relation to her first published book, The War Queen. Today I am thrilled to be publishing my review! Before we begin, if you are yet to take a look at the interview, I would recommend you do!

***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 ***

 
The War Queen

GoodReads – The War Queen

Altarn is the first woman to hold the position of State Head in Blindvar. When Lord Kaelin, State Head of Ruidenthall, propositions her to merger with their states, Altarn believes it’s his subtle way of taking her state for his own, making himself king. On the cusp of war, she rides in disguise to her last ally, Luthsinia, to ask for help.

During her journey, Altarn is ambushed but rescued by a man called Torren who offers her protection. Quickly they realize they share a mutual attraction. Upon their arrival to Luthsinia, Altarn receives news that an army has invaded Blindvar in her absence and blames Kaelin. Except it’s not Kaelin’s army, because she discovers Kaelin is in Luthsinia for the purpose of spying on her to take her land. And Torren is not who she thought he was.
Taking advantage of the unraveling situation, Kaelin kidnaps Altarn so he can take her state without her in the way and brings her to Ruidenthall. There’s a war ship on the horizon, led by a fallen angel craving mortal worship. Kaelin realizes he needs Altarn’s help to fight this army if he’s to save his state. She’s forced to agree, but how will she react when he’s wounded in battle? If she lets him die, can she fight the enemy on her own? Or if she saves his life, will he still try claiming her state, or try claiming her heart?

Having read a sample of the first chapter I knew that Altarn’s character and her position as State Head was going to be something that interested me a lot. I don’t think I need to go into the many debates about gender equality that are out there at the moment. I’m sure you see it all the time, be it on social media or the news etc. I knew this book was going to intrigue me because I wanted to see how the fictional society of this book adapted to the change of power being in the hands of a female in comparison with what we experience in reality. I was also keen to understand how Altarn coped with the difficulties, prejudice and the challenges to her credibility experienced.

 Altarn believes Kaelin, the Lord of Ruidenthall is set upon taking her land, however her council do not believe her when she brings this matter to their attention. Having had countless letters ignored and fearing the worst for her state, she sets out to neutral Luthsinia to gain the aid necessary to fend off the impending attack. As it happens, Altarn’s concern over Kaelin’s actions are the least of her concerns and ultimately, the two sides join forces to eradicate an unforeseen threat.

I found Altarn to be a remarkably developed character – in a lot of ways, I felt I could relate to her emotionally. In the first chapter we see Altarn arrive at her State Manor, clearly enraged and she quite humourously lashes out at a training target with the name of the man who told her “You have to ride the horse before you buy it. Because if you buy it first, you may find out later it limps”. Her behaviour is entirely relatable to us mere mortals (well, at least to me anyway), however, it is not the behaviour expected of a woman in her position – and especially not in public. This scene really introduces Altarn’s character and sets her development arc for the remainder of the book.

As Altarn travels to Luthsinia undercover to request aid, she ends up travelling with a young man who protects her on the road from a band of men who have less than polite intentions. Altarn perceives herself to be more than capable of defending herself, having served in the army and intends to face the threat single-handedly. As a result of this unknown man leaping to her defence, she feels irritated that she was perceived to have needed help. Despite her obvious resentment, Altarn sees the sense of safety in numbers and continues to travel with the young man, albeit distrustfully.  I cannot help but wonder if this scenario is something JM has drawn on her army experience for. Is Altarn’s circumstance (real or perceived – I’ll allow my lack of experience to keep me sitting on the fence) of feeling or being treated as the inferior sex something experienced in the army?

With the novel written in the first person narrative from the perspective of Altarn, we get to really understand the way she is thinking and feeling. I can speak now, as a woman, when I say that a lot of her emotional struggles are perfectly relatable. As she rebounds from Jessom and begins to “admire” her mysterious co-traveller, this isn’t a spontaneous reaction just for the purpose of plot developing. What I am trying to say is… it’s a perfectly natural reaction. Altarn is forced to mature and reign in these feelings as she comes to terms with the political turmoil she has to endure for the safety of her people, although this is a great struggle for her.

I’m glad now that I have gotten to this point. If there was any element of the book I wasn’t sure I was going to like, it was the relationship between Altarn and Lord Kaelin. As a rule, books with too much emphasis on relationship struggles are a turn off for me. Regardless of my feelings on the matter, allow me to be clear that the tumultuous relationship between these two powers is a quintessential element of both the plot and the development of each of these characters. I was pleasantly surprised that despite the reasonably high dependence the plot has on the relationship, I didn’t feel alienated from the characters involved – if anything it serves a reminder of just how human they are.

I also love how the book concluded. I am not going to spoil it for you, but what I will say is this… It could have been easy for the book to end in a very typical, fairytale manner. Allow me to say I am glad it didn’t. The characters are far more sophisticated than that and I am glad that shows.

I also enjoyed the developed and consistent historical background of the fantastical realm, which is introduced when relevant throughout the book. It is a danger for the reader to be the victim of “info-dumps” when the author has to explain a lot of history and context in fantasy worlds created, but I can honestly say I didn’t feel overwhelmed at any point.

In my opinion, The War Queen is an enjoyable read for all lovers of the fantasy genre. Whilst there are examples of common themes such as war (obviously), religion, (including angels and demons etc), to my mind it has been done in such a way as to set it apart from the common reiterations of the same ideas regularly seen in the genre.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading my review! If you would like to learn any more about JM Robison or The War Queen, please follow any of the below links:-
Website    Facebook     Twitter     Amazon     Goodreads     Pinterest
Also a little reminder that there is a live Facebook event on Saturday in celebration of the book’s first birthday. If you would like to join in, here is the link – hopefully we will see you there.
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Author Interview: J. M. Robison

As announced in my Sunday Summary post yesterday, today I am sharing with you an interview with J. M. Robison about her first traditionally published book, The War Queen. I was kindly approached by her with a free ARC copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.
The War Queen
GoodReads       Amazon
Before we get to that review, I was given the opportunity to ask our author a few questions about both herself and The War Queen:-
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Tell us all a little about yourself

I’ve been an avid writer and reader (after all, you should never trust a writer who does not also read) of the fantasy genre since I was 15. To date I’ve completed 8 novels with one traditionally published with Tirgearr. I hold a full-time job as a deputy sheriff in my local county jail. I’m also a reservist in the army which has caused me to travel Afghanistan, Romania, Bulgaria, Kuwait, and too many U.S. states to list. Having had so much experience with people and cultures, I’ve used this in my world building for all my stories which adds unique flavor which I am proud of. My dream is to stay home and make money writing books. I also home make my shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, laundry soap, and lotion.
 

For anyone who is yet to read The War Queen please can you give a brief summary of the book.

Altarn is used to tolerating the biases of men. It comes with being the first female to secure the political State Head of Blindvar. But Kaelin, the State Head of Ruidenthall, crosses the line when he proposes a merger of their two states. Altarn has reason to believe this is Kaelin’s attempt to make himself king of both. Believing it’s her responsibility to “dethrone” him, she rides to her last ally to ask for aid.
While on the road, she’s kidnapped and taken to Ruidenthall. She wakes from a drug-induced sleep to hear about a foreign army marching upon Blindvar, and Kaelin capitalizing on her kidnap to make himself king. He threatens her life if she tells anyone, but she will suffer tyranny under a king if she does not.
When the final battle forces her hand, she has but one choice: to save Kaelin’s life or let him die. She never expected to dethrone his heart instead.
 

What inspired you to write the book?

I had just finished writing a 5 book fantasy series, and I was hankering for something else to write. I was living in Pocatello, ID at the time, right above ISU campus. In the mood for a midnight walk, I walked up the hill right above campus, to the 4 Grecian pillars at the top. 3 of the 4 pillars are connected, while the 4th is not. In my mind, I saw this as being “broken” and I started devising up a story about how it came to be broken. Eventually that idea developed into a god falling on them and breaking them, and the story about why he fell.
This idea actually is only 10% of The War Queen but, because I’m a pantster, it spawned into much more. (Author confession: I was only 20 pages into the story when I stopped writing, out of ideas. I sat on it for 7 years before a simple prompt kick-started me to complete it and publish it.)
 

What was the most challenging thing, writing the book, getting published etc?

This book came easy to me. After that 7 year hiatus, ideas flowed through my brain so within the space of 3 hours I had exact dialogue, scenes, and characters fleshed out in my head. And I love editing because I get to experience the story all over again. The hardest was publishing, and fighting through the grind of “is my query good enough? Is the first 3 chapters good enough? Was my beta reader honest enough?” because after 47 rejections you start to doubt.
 

Do you have any fellow authors you look up to? If so, why?

Megan Spooner and Amy Kaufman for convincing me to re-write a book in 1st POV present tense (best thing I ever did for a story). Margret Weis and Tracy Hickman for teaching me how to write fantasy and for giving me my love of fantasy. Susan D. Kalior because Warriors In The Mist is the best book I’ve ever read.
 

Any plans for another book?

Yes. I always must be writing something. Next planned is a religious fantasy about a demon and angel who switch places and then collude to overturn the religion that corrupted them both. No title yet.
 

What’s the next book you plan to publish?

It’s in the hands of my publisher now for consideration. It’s an historical fantasy based on Victorian Era England, called The Last Wizard. I already have a book trailer for it: https://www.jmrobison.com/the-last-wizard-2 
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One of my favourite parts of doing these interviews is learning about the people behind the books. It’s easy to idolise authors for their works but very often not appreciate their backgrounds (and ultimately their inspirations).
This also happens to be a very special week, as there is a live event which has been set up especially on Facebook to celebrate the books first birthday! During the event, you will be able to ask any questions and interact with JM. If you would like to join in on the Facebook Event I have provided the link to do so. I hope to see you there!
If you would like to find out more about The War Queen, please see the below links:-

Website    Facebook     Twitter     Amazon     Goodreads     Pinterest

I look forward to writing my review tomorrow and hope you take the time to check it out!

A huge thank you to JM for taking the time to contribute to this post!

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Sunday Summary – 15 October 2017

I hope everyone has been enjoying a lovely weekend! It’s been a busy week but equally exciting for me.

Books Read

IT
There’s just been one book I have been reading this week, but boy is it an epic. I am really enjoying IT so far; despite its length, it doesn’t seem to be going slowly or dragging. I’ll admit, I was worried it would. At the point of writing this, I am currently on page 601 of 1,376, which I am pleased with. I haven’t picked up the book today yet so I am hoping I can get to about 50% done later. I am setting myself a little target to see if I can get this book read by next Sunday, 22nd October. I have a further two books to read after IT so I want to give myself a chance to read those too!
One thing I can’t say I have particularly enjoyed, however, is lugging this bad boy around with me. It counts as exercise…. right?!
 

Books Discovered

So the list of books for this section gets a bit more interesting this week, as I’ll also be including some books I have requested on Netgalley!! I am committing this statement to the internet so that I may be shamed if I don’t step up to it.
I am going to be using Netgalley more.
Whilst we are here, I am as well introducing you to the books I have downloaded and will be incorporating into my reading:-

Both Former.ly and ReWired have an element of technology in, one being about hacking and the other about social networking, so I thought I’d give these a try.
I’ll admit with Beowulf, I picked it because I think it is going to be completely out of my comfort zone, but I want to challenge myself.
I also inevitably had a few request rejections too. Sad face. I am new to Netgalley… do I need to get some books under my belt in order to be more likely to have requests accepted? Please let me know!! Please and thank you!
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Source: Giphy

I also added The Birth of Death, the first of the Evorath series to the TBR this week. I love the fantasy genre, and I cannot wait to read it!!
The Birth of Death
My last confessions of this section are two purchases, being Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (a classic – which I am trying to read more of) and The Traveler by Fredric Shernoff. I recently enjoyed Making History, by Stephen Fry, and this book has the same concept of going back in time to change events. This is pure fiction though… nothing historical in this one.

Coming Up…

I think I had a really good week on the blog this week, posting two reviews and an author interview. If anybody else has enjoyed reading these this week, then you won’t be disappointed with what is coming up this week!
I have another author interview with J. M Robison, which I am really looking forward to.  This is in relation to her first published book, The War Queen. I have found I like to get to know a little bit about authors and their inspirations. The wait isn’t very long for this either, as the interview is being posted tomorrow! I read The War Queen at the beginning of the month and I am looking forward to sharing my review with you on Tuesday.
Given the number of books I keep adding to the reading list, I have decided I need to really sort through the ones I already have, so on Friday I am bringing to you another Down the TBR Hole post.
As usual, I will follow up the week with a summary much like this one.


 
I hope you have enjoyed my Sunday summary, and hopefully I’ll see you around during the week. If somebody could get back to me about my question on Netgalley, I’d be grateful. I’m still a novice! Haha!
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Review: The Kitsune in the Lantern – Daniel Curry

I have to get this disclaimer out of the way… so here goes.

***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 ***

There – I’m glad that’s over with. I think it is kind of sad that these things are even needed really.
Anyway… on a happier note – if anyone tuned in to my blog yesterday, you’ll know I posted an interview with our author Daniel to give readers the opportunity to get to know a little bit about him, the book itself and his influences in writing. If anybody is yet to check this post out… here’s a cheeky link.
Now without further adieu… the review:-
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GoodReads – The Kitsune in the Lantern
Synopsis from GoodReads:- 

“You were chosen by Yako, the bringer of Darkness.”
Join Argus Todd and his friends as he uncovers a great power exploring an old ruin, that has stood for decades in his town.
Inari, an age-old Kitsune must train Argus in his new gifts, in order to stop the chaotic Yako from bringing the darkness to our world.
But Yako appears a complex character, and all may not be as it seems…
Debut novella from author Daniel Curry, for Children and Teens. Experience the magic of the power of the Kitsune in this first book of a brand new series.
Ideal for confident young readers, and older children searching for an easy read adventure, this book is an exciting introduction to the mind of Daniel Curry

Despite the book being aimed at a younger generation, I can hand on heart say that I enjoyed it. Admittedly, (not to sound conceited), this was an easy read for me but it was a refreshing change! That isn’t to say I didn’t learn a thing or two! The magical beings introduced in the book, known as the Kitsune, stem from Japanese folklore. I love the idea that a Kitsune gains more magical abilities as it learns and ages. I’ll hold my hands up now and say prior to reading this book – I hadn’t even heard of them before! It was a great introduction to folklore from a different culture in a fun way and diversity is definitely something we should be encouraging.
This book is perfectly written for children – whether to challenge young readers to pick up books themselves or even as a story being read aloud. The plot was easy to follow, which I think is essential in a book of this length when bearing in mind the target audience. Even though I read this book all in one day, I read it in three sessions (because life has the amazing ability of disturbing reading!) – but it was so easy to pick up again when I came back to it.
The tale follows the adventures of Argus, Mae and Tom, who venture into the ruins of an old factory. There they discover a lantern and an archaic power is once again released into the world. I loved each of these three protagonists in their own way, and I really believe that everyone will be able to relate to at least one of them. Argus is the brave and outgoing “leader” of the group. He is a role model to Tom and has the respect of Mae. Tom is quite the opposite; he is the smallest of the group, the shyest and predisposed to nervousness. I was never the most outgoing of people so my inner child relates to him. Now, with my twenty-something-year-old head on… I just wanted to mother him! Mae is a great mix of both of these two characters – she even ends up mediating between these two extremes and I truly think she is a vital part in holding the friendship together.
The book is a lovely balance of myth and magic to keep the audience engaged, all the while encouraging attributes like learning and teamwork and discouraging greed. I am in no doubt Daniel knew exactly who his target audience was… but I truly believe this book is approachable to a span of age groups. The Kitsune in the Lantern is the first of a trilogy, and it is one I have every intention of finishing and I am not ashamed of the fact. I would love to learn more about the magic of the Kitsune and what further adventures Argus, Mae and Tom get to have with their new powers.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I wanted to include my favourite passage from the book, because it is absolutely true:-

“We all walk a narrow path between darkness and light. Tiny events can push our lives either way.” Inari began to pace around him. “But there is no unfairness, or path chosen for us, there is only random tastings of both sides”.
~ The Kitsune in the Lantern – Daniel Curry

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So there you have it!
I would like to thank Daniel again for the chance not only to read this book, but to be introduced to what I feel assured is going to be a lovely series! I’ll be keeping up with it too – that’s a promise!!
Just an additional note – I am jealous of the Kitsune power to step out of time. I would so do it to catch people pulling funny faces just for a laugh – I’m not always an adult! I feel sure I’m not the only one either…
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Source: Giphy

I hope you have enjoyed my review! If you would like to find out more about the book or purchase a copy, please find the links below.
Amazon      GoodReads
Also, if you would like to follow Daniel on Twitter and keep up to date with future releases, you can find him at @DCurryAuthor.
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Author Interview: Daniel Curry

I am very excited to be bringing a special post to you today! Anyone who checked out my reading list for this month will have seen that my first read of the month was The Kitsune in the Lantern, written by Daniel Curry. Daniel has very kindly offered me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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Amazon      GoodReads
I read this book on the 1st October and my review is being published tomorrow, so please stay tuned for that! In the meantime though, here is an opportunity to get to know a little bit about Daniel and his debut book:-
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First of all Daniel, could you tell us all a little bit about yourself?

I’m 29 years old (almost 30, yikes!) and live in the North East of England in a town called Billingham. I am a Scientist in my day job, and write in my spare time. I enjoy writing a variety of genres and styles, including Children’s Fiction, Teen (Middle Grade in the US I suppose) and YA. I have also wrote a number of stories for adults. The Kitsune in the Lantern is my first experiment with Kindle Publishing, and I have a number of Rhyming, and story picture books out to secure an agent.

For anyone who is yet to read The Kitsune in the Lantern, please can you give a brief summary of the book.

The Kitsune in the Lantern is the story of Argus Todd and his friends, who find an old lamp in an abandoned building. Released from the lamp, an age old being named Yako grants powers to Argus, but is not the mentor that he needs when it falls to Argus and his friends to save our world from the darkness.

What inspired you to write?

I have always written, since being a child. I love to tell stories, and to create characters and worlds for people to lose themselves in. Since having my first child (Jacob, who has just turned 1) I have been inspired to work towards a better life for all of us. I would love to be able to take up a career with my writing, that would allow me more time with my family. He also inspires me to write, so that I have something personal, created by me to pass on to him. One of my children’s picture books, “Doggy Daisies” is all about him and his dog Ollie. I just love the thought of giving him something that he can treasure, and pass along to his own children.

If you could go back in time to the point where you were writing the book, is there anything you would tell your past self to change?

The book is the first in a trilogy, and originally started out as one book. I realised that the story felt too rushed, and the characters didn’t have the time to come to life. I suppose going back, I would do this split from the start, and save myself from the struggle of cutting, and re-adding. Writing is the fun part, editing is the work!

Do you have any authors you look up to? If so, why?

I love Robert Westall. His stories are the books I remember from my childhood. My favourite of his is The Machine Gunners. I love that it is simply a group of kids, having their own adventure. The backdrop to this is World War 2, and he stark contrast between the innocence of the children, and the horrors of war really struck me as a young boy. I think Stephen King is the greatest story teller, and his book 11.22.63 is probably my favourite book (if I had to pick one!) I think that it is massively underrated, and more people should read it so that I can talk about it with them!

Any plans for another book?

There will be two sequels in the Kitsune series, the second of which is well underway. The Fallen Kitsune will again be available via Kindle Direct Publishing, aiming to release in Spring 2018. Hopefully I hear back from an agent or publisher regarding my picture books, so watch this space. I am also working on an exciting YA project, which is around 80% complete. This is the story of a girl called Kavi, who lives in a post apocalyptic world. Kavi is excited from her tribe, with a group of boys and left to explore and survive the Deadlands. In Kavi’s world, women are superior to men in the tribe hierarchy, but this will be challenged. I can’t say too much, as I am hoping to approach traditional publishers with this one so keep an eye on my Twitter for more information.
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If you wish to find out more or purchase a copy of the book I have provided links above to the GoodReads and Amazon sites. If you would also like to follow Daniel and keep up to date with future releases, (as I am), you can follow him at @DCurryAuthor.
As stated above, my review will be available tomorrow!
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Review: Making History – Stephen Fry

How would the course of history have changed if Adolf Hitler had never been born?

When I started this book I didn’t really know what to expect. I added it to the TBR last minute on recommendation alone. A work colleague of mine who writes short news articles, which are published weekly in a local newspaper also takes a bit of an interest in my blog. It’s nice to get some local feedback on what I am reading and the things I discuss on here. It was this work colleague that recommended Making History to me, following my review of Extracted by R R Haywood.

Prior to this book, I had never read anything written by Stephen Fry, so I went into this book with very little knowledge of what I was going to get out of it.

Making History
GoodReads – Making History

In Making History, Stephen Fry has bitten off a rather meaty chunk by tackling an at first deceptively simple premise: What if Hitler had never been born? An unquestionable improvement, one would reason–and so an earnest history grad student and an aging German physicist idealistically undertake to bring this about by preventing Adolf’s conception. And with their success is launched a brave new world that is in some ways better than ours–but in most ways even worse. Fry’s experiment in history makes for his most ambitious novel yet, and his most affecting. His first book to be set mostly in America, it is a thriller with a funny streak, a futuristic fantasy based on one of mankind’s darkest realities. It is, in every sense, a story of our times.

 

My Thoughts…

Cambridge history graduate Michael Young and physicist Leo Zuckermann come together, quite by accident, when Michael’s thesis falls out of his briefcase and is scattered into the wind. Michael has studied the early life of one of the most famously horrific and anti-semitic figures in our history, Adolf Hitler. Despite the thesis not being his speciality, Leo takes a personal interest and requests to read a copy. Michael later discovers just why Leo has such an interest in Michael’s study and together they undertake a project in the hope of re-writing history, for the better. The narrative flits seamlessly between the present day and fictional scenes based on true events during both “halves” of the book – both realities are explored in the same way.

It was the explored concept of time travel that prompted Mark’s recommendation of the book to me. In particular, we talked about what is known as the grandfather paradox… to keep it simple – if you travelled back in time and killed your grandfather before your parents were born, you could never have existed to kill your grandfather. It boggles the mind to think too hard about it, so unless that’s really a subject of interest to you, I wouldn’t think any further than the general concept too much.

Michael Young and Leo Zuckermann, with the use of a machine built by Zuckermann,  succeed in ensuring Adolf Hitler was never born – but their actions have disastrous consequences. Can they restore the course of history to its former self? Michael wakes up in this new alternate reality as a student studying Philosophy in Princeton, New Jersey. He has a full recollection of his life before the experiment and little recollection of the life he SHOULD now be living. With vague memories of being out drinking with friends and banging his head the night before, Michael, who now goes by Mikey struggles with his “amnesia” and eventually comes to terms with his new life and the consequences of his and Leo’s experiment.

The book suggests that people (both individually and as groups), despite various circumstances, have certain in-built reactions or behaviours – for example, in both versions of history – Leo Zuckermann invents the time machine in response to feelings of guilt over his ties in what happens during this dark period of history. In our alternate version of history, the unchanged socio-economic circumstances Germany experiences and the unchanged general public opinion is offered by way of explanation as to why history does not change radically in the way Michael and Leo had hoped.

As much as this book is based on a turbulent and sensitive part of our history, it was still a fun and enjoyable read. I loved history at school so I fell in love with this book pretty much straight away. Anyone who isn’t so interested would probably not enjoy this book as much as I did, being perfectly honest… but you never know!! Michael is a lovable character, despite his flaws. I actually find him quite relatable. Even though he is graduating from Cambridge, he is still a bit of an idiot so the reader doesn’t feel either patronised or alienated from the narrative.
One of my favourite elements of the book is that it both discusses and challenges our current history, yet in a fictional and humorous way. Even though historical and philosophical messages can be interpreted from the narrative, it also succeeds in being an entertaining read.

At 575 pages I wouldn’t suggest this was a light read, but to my mind, it’s an absolutely worthwhile one. Thank you for the recommendation Mark – this is high up on the list of  favourite reads this year!
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Sunday Summary – 8th October 2017

Hi everyone!! Welcome to the Sunday Summary, in which I post every week to update you on my reading progress during the week just gone and to advise you of what you can expect on my blog next week. So… here we go!
 

Books Read

This week I managed to squeeze two of the books on my TBR into my schedule, which I am very pleased about. Both of these books are review copies which I have very kindly been provided with in exchange for an honest review.

GoodReads – The Kitsune in the Lantern
GoodReads – The War Queen
The first book I was provided with was The Kitsune in the Lantern by Daniel Curry and the second being The War Queen by J M Robison. If you’re interested in finding out more, check out the Coming Up section below!

Books Discovered

Every week I manage to find books I really want to read and it gets added to the never-ending list. Not that I’m complaining – at all!! The great thing about connecting with other bloggers is that you get to see what they have been reading and potentially discover something new!
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Source: Giphy

Pretty much all of the additions to the TBR this week are as a result of reading other bloggers reviews! The two exceptions are that a good couple of months ago Stephen King’s Mr Mercedes was recommended to me at work by probably THE MOST unbookish person on my team… but that’s okay. He seemed to enjoy it, so I’m sure I will! I also discovered The Bone Season via Instagram and added that to the list.

The other books I added to the TBR this week are Moonrise by Sarah Crossan, Gerald’s Game by Stephen King, Blackwing by Ed McDonald and A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne. This last book is due out locally on the 19th October so as soon as it’s out, I’ll be getting myself a copy!


I also bought myself two books this week, including Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and A Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death that changed the British Monarchy by Helen Rappaport. That title is far from catchy… just saying. It’s what it says on the tin though, I’ll give it that. This year I have been making a conscious effort to read more classics and I also know appallingly little about the British Monarchy… Oops!

Coming Up…

I am really looking forward to next week! I am just about to start reading IT by Stephen King and I have a number of review-related posts coming up on the blog. On Tuesday I am reviewing the last book on September’s TBR list, Making History by Stephen Fry.
Remember above I mentioned I was reading two review copies of books? Well, on Thursday I will be publishing an interview with Daniel Curry, the author of The Kitsune in the Lantern. My review of the book will be published on Friday. I hope you get to join the discussion!
On Sunday I’ll be posting my Sunday Summary again and tidying up the loose ends I always seem to have.
If I don’t see you around and about the blogosphere before then, I’ll see you on Tuesday!!
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