Author: fantasyst95

Book Review: Strange The Dreamer – Laini Taylor

This book is so many levels of adorable! I’m gutted I have to wait until November for the second part of this duology!

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?

Welcome to Weep.

 

My Thoughts…

I have so many things to say about this book!!

Let’s start with the cover – it’s a good a place as any. Isn’t this edition gorgeous!!! I’ve just seen the paperback edition in one of our bookstores this weekend, but the hardback edition has my heart! I bought this last year, only a couple of months after its release and before I really got into social media with my blog, so any hype would have passed me by. I kept looking at it, again and again, vowing to read it soon but never making good on the promise until last month. When I shouldn’t have done. When I didn’t REALLY have time to.

Oh well, the heart wants what the heart wants.

I happened to get really lucky when I bought my copy of this book, because mine is SIGNED!! Don’t believe me?

img_0583
Here it is! That day I bought about five books (and was excited about them all, let’s be honest) – so much so I hadn’t even noticed this! It was only on one of the numerous occasions I picked the book up to flip through the first chapter that I saw it. It’s unusual and exciting in its own right, but given how much I love the book, now it means so much more!

Being perfectly honest, I am not normally a huge lover of YA books. For me, they have to be written well for it to work. The inevitable love interest that sparks has to avoid the typical teenage angst, moodiness and petulant behaviour (shown in another recent YA book I have read – and didn’t like as a result). Yes, there were complications to the relationship, longing between the two individuals and frustration at the circumstances… but that was justified. Neither character threw a tantrum. They both knew there was more going on in their lives than each other so the storyline wasn’t drowned; doomed to sink into the abyss of their anguish of not being able to be with each other.

I loved both of the characters. Lazlo Strange is an orphan of war, first raised by monks to become a scribe and then later on he spends his days working in a library. Aside from the overused trope that begins Lazlo’s story, (my only criticism), his life is an interesting one. If ever there was a man in my life like Lazlo Strange, (kind, bookish, inquisitive and intelligent) I would give my heart to him gladly. Lazlo is all-out adorable – and his broken nose as a result of a rogue book hitting him in the face as a youth is just the icing on the cake really.

Sarai is an interesting character shrouded in mystery – who is she? She has a great depth of character and we get to see conflicting sides of her. Her kind and honest nature comes out when she meets Lazlo, but knowing what she is capable of and the grief she is responsible for shows a revengeful side born from what has happened to her kind. She is also incredibly smart – in fact my favourite quote from the book is hers:-

“You think good people can’t hate?” she asked. “You think good people don’t kill?” Her breathing hitched, and she realised she’d crushed Lazlo’s flower in her hand. She dropped the petals into the water. “Good people do all of the things bad people do, Lazlo. It’s just when they do them, they call it justice.” She paused. Her voice grew heavy. “When they slaughter thirty babies in their cradles, they call it necessary.” 
-Sarai, Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

 

I found it near impossible to put this book down. When I first picked it up, I intended to read the first chapter as a sampler. I ended up reading all of part one, amounting to about 80 pages! I demolished the remainder of the book in a week. I don’t think I can really put into words how original and captivating this story is! I am also conscious of how much I can say because I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is yet to read it. The narrative flowed effortlessly and the voice of each character was clear and consistent.

If neither I nor the many other reviews of this book out there have convinced you to read this book, then I don’t think you ever will. That’s your loss. Just talking about this book makes me want to read it again! *Sigh* I’ll have to re-read before October when Muse of Nightmares is released!

Read it. You know you want to.

No really, you do!
Rebecca mono

Reading List: April 2018

Appropriately, April showers is really living up to its name as I write this post today. Winter still has it’s clutches on us though, unsurprisingly! It’s sleeting, as well as raining.
Nice. A day to stay in and read, methinks! What a better day to write about my reading list for April?
I dedicated last month’s reading list to ARC’s (with the exception of my slip up reading Strange The Dreamer). That was because this month I wanted to mix it up again this time. In amongst the requests I have, I have a list longer than my arm of traditionally published books I want to read as well. This month is dedicated to those!
As I had a slip in March, I am allowing myself one exception, as I’ll explain below. So let’s jump right in!
 

Soul Music

Soul Music
Goodreads – Soul Music

Other children get given xylophones. Susan just had to ask her grandfather to take his vest off.
Yes. There’s a Death in the family.
It’s hard to grow up normally when Grandfather rides a white horse and wields a scythe – especially when you have to take over the family business, and everyone mistakes you for the Tooth Fairy.
And especially when you have to face the new and addictive music that has entered Discworld.
It’s lawless. It changes people.
It’s called Music With Rocks In.
It’s got a beat and you can dance to it, but…
It’s alive.
And it won’t fade away.

It feels like ages since I read any of Terry Pratchett’s books. I love the satire of them and how they all are loosely based within the same universe. This particular book is in the Death series of books, which is my second favourite storyline after the Witches.
It’s been seven months since I read the last Pratchett book. This one is long overdue!!
 

Seventh Scroll

The Seventh Scroll
Goodreads – The Seventh Scroll

For 4,000 years, the lavish crypt of the Pharaoh Mamose has never been found…until the Seventh Scroll, a cryptic message written by he slave Taita, gives beautiful Egyptologist Royan Al Simma a tantalizing clue to its location.
But this is a treasure cache others would kill to possess. Only one step ahead of assassins, Royan runs for her life and into the arms of the only man she can trust, Sir Nicholas Quenton-Harper–a daring man who will stake his fortune and his life to join her hunt for the king’s tomb. Together, they will embark on a breathtaking journey to the most exotic locale on earth, where the greatest mystery of ancient Egypt, a chilling danger and an explosive passion are waiting.
Steeped in ancient mystery, drama and action, The Seventh Scroll is a masterpiece from Wilbur Smith, a storyteller at the height of his powers.

It has also been a while since I started this series! I started it on the recommendation of a colleague, and whilst the main character and narrator from the first book REALLY got on my nerves, I enjoyed the book overall. I am assured this is the best book of the series and it is set thousands of years later.
I can’t wait!
 

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Goodreads – The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas

Berlin 1942
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

I am a complete wuss, so I think I am going to cry reading this.
It is a book I have really wanted to read for AGES, but never really had the courage to try. I know what I am like. I think I am going to struggle with it, but ultimately love it at the same time. I’m going to try and borrow this one from my library (it’ll be my first borrowed book in years!) but I suspect I’ll be buying my own copy for my bookshelves later.
 

Empire of Silence

Empire of Silence
Goodreads – Empire of Silence

Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.
It was not his war.
On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe started down a path that could only end in fire. The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives–even the Emperor himself–against Imperial orders.
But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.
Fleeing his father and a future as a torturer, Hadrian finds himself stranded on a strange, backwater world. Forced to fight as a gladiator and into the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, he will find himself fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.

Remember my exception to the rule? This technically is an ARC, but instead of reading ARC’s I have been requested to review, this is an ARC I requested from the publisher! I’m still shocked my request was accepted!
 

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood & Bone
Goodreads – Children of Blood & Bone

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

By the time I have caught up with current reads, popular books tend to have come and gone. I have seen this book again and again on social media and I love the synopsis! So, I am reading it now. Not in a years time, or two, when all the buzz has died down. Now. Because I can!
 
So those are my April reads!! Have you read any of these? What did you think? What are you reading this month?
Rebecca mono

Blogger Recognition Award

Hi everyone!
I have been looking forward to sharing this post for a little while – after all, it’s great to celebrate each other’s blogs!!
I was nominated for this award on the 6th of March by the lovely Larissa over at Book Bosomed Blonde; I have followed her blog for some time! She writes fantastic reviews and hosts other lovely book-related content. My favourite thing about her blog is that she is fair and isn’t afraid to express her opinion! If you don’t follow her already of haven’t checked out her blog yet, please do!


Rules

1.Generate a post about the award.
2.Thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.
3.Write a brief story about how your blog began.
4.Provide two pieces of advice to newbie bloggers.
5.Select 10 blogs to nominate.
6.Comment on each nominee’s blog and provide a link to the post that you created for the award.


 

How it all began…

Before I get on to how I came about setting up my blog, I think I should explain how I got into the reading habit required, so that is where my story will start.
Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then let us begin.
I’ll begin as clichéd as it comes; I was an avid reader from a very young age. Encouraged by mum and dad, I grew up with books. Reading was my chance to escape the confines of  everyday life – the only limit is your imagination!
During secondary school I chose to spend my free time in the library. I would help out in any way I could. It was a place I felt at peace. The older I got, the more I read. How glorious it was to live and experience life through book characters, all the while I sat in my sheltered life, between rows of books otherwise collecting dust.
After I left school, my reading slumped. I still read, but it was intermittent.
The circumstances in which I took up reading again in earnest came at one of the most difficult times for my family. A close family member fell seriously ill – with little warning. I had to go to work as normal and visit afterwards. I would be out at 7:15am and not get home until past 9pm every weeknight. I would rise early at weekends to catch up on jobs I wasn’t doing in the week before visiting began at 12pm. This routine continued for three weeks, until thankfully my relative had recovered enough to come home.
It was a busy and difficult time – I had very little free time at all. There were days I couldn’t commit to an hour to watch TV – I was too tired. It was January, so I came back to a cold flat more often than not. My compromise was to sit in bed, warm and comfortable, and read. I could read as much or little as I wanted and it was an effective way of winding down. In the second and third week I would wake myself in the small hours, stiff-necked, still sat in bed with the light on and a book open in front of me.
After my relative recovered, I stayed in the habit of reading, and by the end of April last year, I reached my reading goal of 20 books. It is at this point, ladies and gentlemen, that I began my blog. I wanted to share my love of books. I wanted to keep reading and stay in the habit. It was also a motivator to read other blogs, discover new books and broaden my horizons. There have been many projects in my life that I have let fall to the wayside, but I am proud of myself that this is not one of them.


So that, folks, is my story – and in the time I have spent on this blogging journey, I have learned many things.
I have had a long, hard think about some advice to give to newbie bloggers. I don’t think it is particularly original, but I would say it is important:-
Be yourself
It is your blog after all! The best selling point of a blog is the voice and personality behind it. We could all like the same things – or write the same way, but then your blog just wouldn’t stand out at all from the rest. Don’t be afraid to say how you really feel. On the other side of this computer screen, I have had my blogging hobby laughed at. Sure, it hurt at first, but I don’t do it for the acceptance of others. I blog because it is what I enjoy. It doesn’t matter what those people think. I don’t really care for their opinion if that is what it is.
 
Be honest! (with others and yourself)
Again, not an original piece of advice. Sure, it’s exciting having a blog and I am sure you would love to post all day, every day and have everyone love you for it. Frankly, that isn’t possible for an individual blogger who works 35 hours a week, like I doBlogging is a hobby so it has always had to work around my free time. I have really active weeks and others less so, but that’s okay. Think ahead, know what you can commit to and stick to it (unlike I did when I said I was going to post this earlier this week. Do as I say and not as I do folks!)
If you are starting a blog that involves reviewing books, or expressing your opinion, then honesty is important in other ways. I really believe integrity and trust is acquired from your followers as a result of expressing honest opinions. To lie (or be perceived as lying) breaks down trust and isn’t going to do you any favours. Don’t do it.


 
So, there we are! That’s me in a nutshell!
I’ve come to the decision that I am not going to tag anyone in this – I don’t want to single out blogs. All bloggers and their stories are valid, interesting and should be recognised, so if you want to take part in it, please do!!!
I would love to hear your story, so please tag me!
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 1st April 2018

Happy Easter everybody!!
I hope everybody is having a good day today – religious or no. Me? I’m just looking forward to scoffing my Easter Eggs. I only expected to get one from my Mum and Dad, so I treated myself to one too. I was then unexpectedly gifted four more… haha!
I won’t be eating them in one go – that’s for sure!
I didn’t post as much as I thought I was going to this week. I had anticipated to share a Blogger Recognition Award (which is still sat in Drafts as we speak) as well as my Review of Beowulf. I am determined to finish the Recognition post tonight – it is nearly there!
March is now officially over and I didn’t finish read as many books as I had hoped to. The last book on March’s TBR, The Mansions of Murder, remains unread, so I’ll have to pick that up another day.
 

Books Read


 
I have really struggled with Ekata: Fall of Darkness by Dominique Law this week. I would say this book is definitely targeted at a Young Adult audience, which I don’t have a problem with overly. For my taste though, the plot isn’t really all that sophisticated. If you follow me on Twitter then you may have seen a poll I posted about what people think of “unnecessary” love interests in books. I think in this book it really is that.
Asher and Alexis have quite clearly fallen for each other and I am just really uncomfortable with it. If I were to find out my life to date had all been a lie and I was whisked off to save a planet I didn’t even know existed – I WOULD NOT BE THINKING ABOUT HOW ATTRACTIVE THE GUY IS!!!
Ahem.
I nearly DNF’s this book this week. It just got progressively worse and worse until blessedly, the two end up separated for a little while. That made the book more bearable. I’m at 83% now, so I think I’ll read it through to the end. It won’t be topping my list for great books though, it has taken me way too long to struggle through.
On a positive note, I finished An Almond for A Parrot this week! It had a happier ending than I thought it would as well, which is also a bonus! I’ll have to review it here sometime; it was a fantastic audiobook!
 

Books Discovered


I saw Everless available at a discount on Bookbub this week and I loved the synopsis. I didn’t have to think about it too hard!
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson – oh my gosh I almost had a fit when I saw this was reduced for a limited time too! Steelheart has already been on my TBR for a while so I bought this one without hesitation too.
My most exciting acquisition of the week is Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio. I contacted Gollancz to find out if they had any review copies available and would consider sending one to me in exchange for a review. I picked the book up from the Post Office yesterday and I am so excited to read it! I was completely surprised when Gollancz said yes to my request. It is the first I have made and I fully expected a “thanks for your interest, but…” kind of email. I didn’t dare believe it until the book was in my possession and now it is!
Thank you Gollancz!
 

Coming Up…

Tonight I am going to share that Recognition Award post – and that is a promise! Sorry I have kept hold of that one for so long and promised to post it!
Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing my Reading List for April. This month I did something a little different in dedicating the month to ARC’s. In April, I am doing the opposite! I want to catch up on some of the traditionally published books I love and have been looking forward to for some time. Check out my post tomorrow to find out what I am going to be reading this month!
On Wednesday, I am reviewing Strange the Dreamer, and I seriously can’t wait!! Just thinking about how amazing the book was makes me want to read it all over again!
 
What are you reading in April?
Rebecca mono
 

Book Review: Beowulf

It has been an incredibly long time since I have read poetry.

When I requested this book from Netgalley, the logic was that I would be reading something a little different.

Beowulf

Goodreads – Beowulf

Beowulf tells the story of a Scandinavian hero who defeats three evil creatures—a huge, cannibalistic ogre named Grendel, Grendel’s monstrous mother, and a dragon—and then dies, mortally wounded during his last encounter. If the definition of a superhero is “someone who uses his special powers to fight evil,” then Beowulf is our first English superhero story, and arguably our best. It is also a deeply pious poem, so bold in its reverence for a virtuous pagan past that it teeters on the edge of heresy. From beginning to end, we feel we are in the hands of a master storyteller.
 
Stephen Mitchell’s marvelously clear and vivid rendering re-creates the robust masculine music of the original. It both hews closely to the meaning of the Old English and captures its wild energy and vitality, not just as a deep “work of literature” but also as a rousing entertainment that can still stir our feelings and rivet our attention today, after more than a thousand years. This new translation—spare, sinuous, vigorous in its narration, and translucent in its poetry—makes a masterpiece accessible to everyone.

 

My Thoughts…

Beowulf is an incredibly old text; the original manuscripts are thought to date back somewhere between the 10th and 11th century, a period in which there is a lot of Scandinavian influence in Britain as a result of the Vikings, uh… permanent, self-imposed visitation rights. Invasion – yes, that’s a good word too!

I have a Danish work colleague, and I think it is funny to compare ideas on these things. From the British perspective, the Vikings invaded, pillaged, murdered… eventually settling with us. From the Danish view, men and women were seeking a better life for their families. Farming was near impossible in the Scandinavian climate and life was harsh. British soil offered security.

Anyway, that’s a bit of background for you. Back to Beowulf!

I imagine (and am assured by other reviews) that any physical editions are presented so that the original text is on one page, with Stephen Mitchell’s translation on the other page. Sadly, as I was reading an ebook version, this did not translate (pardon the pun) at all. The readable, English paragraphs were broken up with Olde English, so the text lost it’s flow.

I wanted to read this epic poem for two reasons – one, because I am hugely interested in the historical period it is believed to have stemmed from; two, poetry is not an everyday read for me. Reading Beowulf reminded me of just why that is. Turns out, my competency of poetry extends about as far as mastering Green Eggs and Ham – but that’s all. Other reviews gush over how Mitchell maintains some alliteration, which structures the poem, but I’ll admit it passed me by.

Cat in the hat.gif
So whilst I enjoyed the historical context and the story in it’s own right, I couldn’t fully appreciate the poem and it’s construction for what it is. I just don’t get it. I rated the book three stars, because I still enjoyed reading it. Anyone with a better eye or ear for poetics will probably have a better time of appreciating this than me – but all the same, Beowulf’s acts of strength and heroism were an intriguing read.
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 25th March 2018

Good morning all! I hope my UK friends have remembered to roll your clocks forward!
I think I have – but there always seems to be one I miss… that I find about a week later.
dumbledore shrug
Every time. ANYWAY – moving on!!
Those of you that take your valuable time to look at this little book blog once in a while (and I am ETERNALLY grateful – thank you!) may have noticed a little more going on this week. I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks on the warpath to catch up with my reading, so I wasn’t really posting much. Now I am caught up though, it’s time to see the fruits of my labour!
On Monday I took part in a Blog Tour I have been looking forward to for a couple of months – StoneKing by Donna Migliaccio. This is the third book in the series, so in order to participate properly, I spent February catching up with the first and second books. Therefore, to me, this review felt like it was a long time in the making!
I published another review on Wednesday for Copper Sky by Milana Marsenich. This review was also followed up with a guest post written by Milana herself, so I would really encourage you check these out if you haven’t already!!
I was also hoping to put a post together in relation to a nomination I received, but I was feeling lazy yesterday decided that I would post about this next week instead!
 

Books Read


 
Last week I mentioned that I had just started reading Beowulf… and that was the book I kick-started the week with! It is the first poetry I have read in a long time, so it made a refreshing change actually!
My next (and current) read is Ekata: Fall of Darkness. Admittedly, I am only 16% of the way through this one at the moment; there is definitely a fine balance between reading and blogging that has to be struck! I’ve not read as much as I would like, but I’m sure I can have it read by the end of next week!
Lastly, I have made a little more progress through An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney (Sally Gardener) and I continue to love that!! Now that I am not doing any painting, I have taken to listening in the morning if the news is particularly grim. Also, Piers Morgan. Ugh. Some mornings, I just cannot be doing with that!
 

Books Discovered

Scythe
This was a late add to my discovered list.
I seem to recall having seen this before and dismissing it as a book I wasn’t convinced I would enjoy. However, I read a review on another blog the other day (apologies – neither can I remember who wrote it, nor can I find you – sorry!) and it changed my mind completely! I’ll have to pick this up sometime. If I find the review, I’ll link it here, but in the meantime I’ll just have to keep searching! I really should keep a note of these!
 

Coming Up…

As I mentioned above, I’ll be starting the week with a blog nomination post – it’s great to celebrate blogs and the people behind them, so I appreciate the nomination!
On Wednesday I’ll be reviewing Beowulf, which should appease the Netgalley gods for a little while at least! I’m catching up on a few of my Netgalley reads, so my rating will have improved by this time next month! So many books, so little time…
That’s all for now – what are you reading this week?
Rebecca mono

Guest Post – Milana Marsenich

Copper Sky

Milana MarsenichCopper Sky

I have a strong affection for my hometown of Butte, Montana, a mining town with a rich history. As a natural listener and a therapist, I’ve witnessed amazing generosity and courage in others. I first witnessed this in the Butte people. As a child, a teen, and a young adult I also witnessed multiple tragedies and incredible resilience in overcoming these tragedies. It made me think about the ways that a town affects us, especially a town as spirited and as wild as Butte, Montana. In writing Copper Sky I attempted to capture the town’s kindness, its bold spirit, its heartbreak, and its amazing courage and compassion.

The White Dog

Milana Marsenich dogI have always loved dogs. Huskies are my breed. Every dog I’ve had as adult has either been a husky, a malamute, or a stray that lived with a husky or a malamute. Consequently, writing the four 1895 parts of Copper Sky from the dog’s point of view was easy for me. Both the white dog and the wolf dog in Copper Sky are attempts to give the reader a close look at the town’s enduring nature. I thought of both dogs as “the town’s dog”. As it turns out, there actually was a town’s dog that the people of Butte took care of and memorialized with a sculpture. You can read about Auditor here: http://www.ohmidog.com/2010/11/02/surviving-butte-the-story-of-the-auditor/
I didn’t know about Auditor when I wrote Copper Sky. I learned about him after he died. I was at my father’s house in Butte and noticed an article about him in the Montana Standard, the Butte paper. Granted, he’s not a wolf dog, or any version of husky, but he definitely represents the town’s spirit: lovable, loyal, and generous.

The Accidents

Butte has had multiple mining accidents as well as frequent fires. People died all the time. Copper Camp, a book published in 1943, states that the accidents probably created 50-100 widows a year. In 1889 fire broke out in the Anaconda Mine shaft killing 6 men. A fire in the Silver Bow mine in 1893 killed 9 men. An1895 warehouse fire and dynamite explosion killed at least 51 people. In 1911 the mine cage dropped from the surface to the sump of the Leonard mine, some 1500 feet, killing five men. Later that year, before the introduction of child-labor laws, 6 boys were killed in a tragic accident in the Black Rock Mine. In 1917, the year of Copper Sky, fire broke out in the shaft of the Speculator Mine, killing 168 men. The people of Butte have learned to grieve, comfort, and understand, to absorb sorrow and transform it. They have learned to be strong, to rise up proud and full of grace, to fight for justice, to carry on. It is this strong spirit that I hoped to portray in Copper Sky.

The Orphans

Men were not the only ones to die. Women also fell prey to misfortune. They were victims of violence, oppression, and sickness. In 1918 alone the Spanish Flu killed 1000 people in Butte. As I wrote Copper Sky I wondered about the motherless children. How did the town manage so many orphans? And what was the effect of such loss on the children? As a therapist I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the many ways trauma affects our lives. In Copper Sky I explore, not just the effects of our own traumas, but also the effects of the traumas of our parents, the traumas of a town, the traumas that happened before we were even born. I couldn’t help but wonder if the people of Butte had absorbed this ability to deal compassionately with tragedy simply by living and growing up in a town like Butte. Did their very good and generous hearts spring from a town filled with such tragedies?

The Love

Copper Sky tells the story of two women with opposite lives. Orphaned and alone, Kaly Shane suffers hardship and gets bound up in prostitution. Finding herself pregnant she struggles to find a safe home for her unborn child. She searches for a family and faces those she has loved and those she has lost. Somehow, in the mess of it all, she makes peace with her past. Marika Lailich, a Slavic immigrant, dodges a prearranged marriage. Marika wants to be a doctor. To follow her love of medicine, she tries to escape the responsibilities of family love. I like to say that Copper Sky is a mining city love tale, ful of disturbed, loyal and fierce love, love that is ultimately a reconciling force in a community laced with tragedy. When the Speculator mineshaft catches fire both Kaly and Marika help to minimize the damage of the tragedy. They find courage, strength, and wisdom they didn’t know they had. In spite of themselves, they find love.

Continue reading

Book Review: Copper Sky – Milana Marsenich

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

One hundred years on – the times have changed, as have our struggles… and nothing reminds us of that more than Copper Sky:-

Copper Sky

Goodreads – Copper Sky

The feminine spirit of the West comes alive in early twentieth century Montana.

Set in the Copper Camp of Butte, Montana in 1917, Copper Sky tells the story of two women with opposite lives. Kaly Shane, mired in prostitution, struggles to find a safe home for her unborn child, while Marika Lailich, a Slavic immigrant, dodges a pre-arranged marriage to become a doctor. As their paths cross, and they become unlikely friends, neither knows the family secret that ties them together.

 

Writing as somebody who has had the stability and privilege of 1st world background, this has naturally had some influence over the way in which I have interpreted the book. Some people may disagree with my comments, but please understand that I write them as generalisations only. In no way am I discrediting anybody else’s opinion or experience just because it is not a majority.

Comparing the lifestyle of these two women is a far cry from that expected and experienced by many others in modern day. That being said, we still have our modern day issues to contend with.

One of the topics Milana brings to the table, in a variety of ways, is the rights of women. This is still a hot topic today, albeit for different reasons. By way of example, one of our local topical debates at the moment is the issue of legalising abortion. My home town is the very place that allowed landowning women to vote from 1881 – some 37 years before the UK even introduced it, yet to get an abortion, women usually travel as they cannot be accessed here!

Anyway, that is a discussion for another time perhaps. The point is this; society has adapted within the past 100 years and thankfully our living and working conditions are not so harsh (for the most part).

Kaly, one of many prostitutes in Butte, has to battle with the reality that she is pregnant. The father, whom Kaly has known since childhood, wants to help her raise the child. Having had a difficult, parentless childhood herself, she faces inner turmoil, wondering what kind of life her child will ever have. Should she raise the child, (most likely into prostitution), or allow the child to be raised in an unsafe foster home? Those are not the only options either, but they are not pretty at all.

Marika has different troubles of her own. Does she respect her father’s wishes and marry the husband he has found for her, or pursue her dreams of training to be a doctor? Marika is a stubborn girl and I admire her mettle, as even in fighting into a profession she has longed to join since girlhood – it is very much a man’s world. Time and again she is not taken seriously, but she keeps trying all the same!

Copper Sky is based around real events and disasters within Butte, Montana. Mining disasters, fires and later civil unrest were frequent occurrences and as Milana correctly highlights – mining is a dangerous profession. Working conditions were less than ideal and many men lost their lives labouring in those mineshafts.

Despite the serious themes of the book, it is not without beauty. Gorgeous, vivid descriptions of the landscape and community reflect the author’s love of her hometown, and the depth of both Kaly’s and Marika’s perspective is absorbing. I was never in any doubt as to whose perspective the narrative was being relayed from due to the contrasting ideas and attitudes of the women.

Whereas Kaly, through hardship and experience has a perhaps pessimistic attitude to life (as can only be expected given everything she has gone through), Marika is youthful, hopeful and has an arguably more naïve innocence about her. Each character is complex; even though Kaly has little hope or stability for her child, she still moderates herself for the health of the baby so doesn’t dismiss having it outright. Marika, on the other hand, has a fiery temper and willfulness to be her own person and not be given by one man into the possession of another.

Living in a small community myself, I sense, relate to and love the community spirit that comes together anytime disaster strikes. When it comes to saving lives, all social and economic disparities are set aside, as they should be, in my humble opinion. The author has captured the soul and portrayed both sides of the double-sided coin of life in a way that broadens perspective. It is one thing to know what lengths people will go to and what motivates them, and quite another to experience it by seeing through their eyes.
Rebecca mono

Blog Tour: StoneKing by Donna Migliaccio

I have been looking forward to this post for so long!

Today I get to share my thoughts with you about StoneKing as part of the ongoing Blog Tour. Thank you to Fiery Seas Publishing and Donna for the opportunity to get involved!

Part of the reason this has been some time in the making was that before February, I hadn’t even read any of the earlier books in this series. So… I had some catching up to do! If there is anyone else new to the series and would like to learn a little more about my thoughts for the prior books in the series, Kinglet and Fiskur, you will note I have kindly (and unashamedly) provided links for my self promo for you to take a look at.

Are you sitting comfortably, ready to see where Kristan’s adventure takes us next?

StoneKing

StoneKing by Donna Migliaccio
February 20th, 2018
Fantasy
The Gemeta Stone Book 3
Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC

Book Trailer

 

 

 

 

They call him StoneKing: the lord of four countries, the vanquisher of the Wichelord Daazna, the man who will restore his people to prosperity and peace.
But there is no peace for Kristan Gemeta. Already weighed down by the cares of his new realm, Kristan carries a secret burden – the knowledge that Daazna is not dead. He isolates himself in his ruined castle in Fandrall, where he struggles to control the destructive Tabi’a power that may be his only hope of defeating the Wichelord once and for all.
And there’s trouble elsewhere in his realm. His Reaches are squabbling in Dyer, Melissa and Nigel are experiencing heartache in Norwinn, and Heather’s command in Hogia is in jeopardy. Unaware of this turmoil, Kristan receives an unexpected gift – one that forces him, his knights, an inexperienced squire and a crafty young shape-shifter into a hazardous winter journey.

 

My Thoughts…

StoneKing picks up a short while after Fiskur – Kristan’s anointed Reaches are now governing his realm whilst he returns home to Fandrall to restore his birthright.

Yet the StoneKing himself is as broken as the realm, and as he tries to take the troubles from everyone’s shoulders, will he break under the strain? He is certainly a different man. In Kinglet he is a young, strong, altruistic and stereotypically heroic in character – which couldn’t be any further from the truth now. He is physically weak and mentally tested as he struggles to master his magic, whilst everybody else succeeds in trying his patience. It is hardly surprising when the rocky foundations of control crumble, given that Kristan’s Reaches lack the experience required to rule the realm in his stead.

An unexpected journey as a result of a delegation visit and an even more shocking gift is the only reason that Kristan discovers any of the ongoing turmoil; it only goes to show how tenuous his control is.

I am not going to lie – I loved seeing Kristan fall from grace in Fiskur; not that I would wish the trauma he went through on anyone, but there would have been very little scope for character development if he hadn’t. I’m not a huge fan of tropes, some more than others, and I actually love this series more for breaking the stereotype. Nobody is as perfect as Kinglet painted Kristan to be, so the newfound dark elements of his mind and perspective lend a greater depth to his character. At the moment, his all-in-all expression of negativity creates a lot of conflict and uncertainty, but I cannot help but feel it has some greater part to play later on. Who can say, maybe Daazna created the tumultuous monster that will be his undoing?

I would say it helped a great deal that I have read the previous instalments to the series only a short time ago, but I found StoneKing incredibly easy to pick up. Also, given that by the third book the reader understands the fantasy world built by the author, the pace of the book seemed quicker to me. Whilst the text was still beautifully and vividly descriptive, the need to impart detail and explanation was not so prominent and that enabled us to get on with the action. I am not one for spoilers, so you will just have to pick up the book(s) to find this out for yourself!

The one thing that surprised me about the book was the distinct lack of presence of our main antagonist, Daazna. Instead it appears that Kristan has more than one enemy and maybe their future role could become more significant than we know. Personally, I would have liked to see even one chapter dedicated to Daazna. I want to know his plans!! Even just to serve as a reminder that he is still alive!

Much like in Fiskur, we are introduced to a number of new characters. I love Serle, aforementioned “inexperienced squire”. He is only a child, bless him, but I would go so far as to say he is practically incompetent at being a squire. There were times when he irritated Kristan so much and was so deflated at the whole situation that I just wanted to mother him and tell him it was alright. I also loved Nolle and her cheeky side. Even knowing the wrath she would endure from the StoneKing, she still pushed the boundaries far more than she should have. But then she could, because he needed her Wiche power. Both of these characters made refreshing additions and I hope to see more of them in future books.

I cannot wait to see what the next instalment of the series is and what difficulties Kristan and his friends encounter. Having read the first three books and really enjoyed them, I can hand on heart say that I will be following the series through to the end, whenever that may be.

 

 

Buy Links: Amazon  ~  Barnes & NobleKobo  ~  iBooks

 About the Author:
Donna Migliaccio is a professional stage actress with credits that include Broadway, National Tours and prominent regional theatres.  She is based in the Washington, DC Metro area, where she co-founded Tony award-winning Signature Theatre and is in demand as an entertainer, teacher and public speaker.  Her award-winning short story, “Yaa& The Coffins,” was featured in Thinkerbeat’s 2015 anthology The Art of Losing.
Social Media: Website  Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest

Sunday Summary – 18th March 2018

Good morning all on this snowy Sunday!
Thankfully we haven’t had too much snow at low level, but the hilltop views out my window are beautifully white! Have you guys had any snow?
Things have been pretty quiet here again this week as I have been trying to catch up with my March TBR. I didn’t have such a good month for reading in February and ended up nearly a week behind! Safe to say I have caught up with myself now though!!
This week I shared my review of Living on A Rainbow by Calvin Wade, a lovely book that addresses the impact mental illness can have on both individuals and families. It really was an eye-opener.
 

Books Read

 

 
This week’s reading has been really enjoyable, even if I do say so myself! I started the week having read the first 10 chapters (or thereabouts) of Strange the Dreamer, but I put that to one side as I needed to have StoneKing read this week.
I found StoneKing easy to pick up, having not long read the previous book in this series, Fiskur. I picked this book up  on Monday and I finished it by Thursday, so I made good time. I think the pace of the story helped too – I actually found it really easy and enjoyable to read!
Now, Strange the Dreamer. The book I didn’t really intend to read this month. In one fell swoop I created “March of the ARC’s” and broke it, but I don’t regret it. I was picking up the book for the odd sly chapter in between reading StoneKing (because I could and why not?!) – but after finishing StoneKing I threw myself into it. By Friday, I had read about 40% of the book. Yesterday, I didn’t just read the rest of it, I DEVOURED it!! I found myself picking it up again and again and again until I got to the last part late evening. I had to finish it before going to bed. And I did. And I loved it. And it’s all I can do to not read it ALL OVER AGAIN!!!!
I probably will before Muse of Nightmares is released later this year!!!
If you haven’t guessed, based on my excessive exclamation mark use, I may have enjoyed the book. Slightly.

A little
Source: Giphy

Lastly, I very briefly touched on Beowulf, my next ARC, but not enough to really comment any further at the moment. I have only flicked through the beginning. I don’t anticipate this to be a particularly lengthy read, as a lot of the content is the original, untranslated poem.
The past few weeks I have also been talking about listening to An Almond for A Parrot, but I’ve just realised I haven’t actually made any progress on that this week! Shameful!
 

Books Discovered


 
I have to wait five months for Muse of Nightmares… FIVE MONTHS?! I am so in love with this duology (and Lazlo, obviously) and I can promise you I will be reading this as soon as I have my hands on a copy in October!
I’ve heard some fantastic things about Children of Blood & Bone lately too, especially from you lovely bloggers out there, so I bought myself a copy earlier today! I cannot wait to read it!! Thank you all for sharing your thoughts on the book!!!
 

Coming Up…

I know my blog has been a little on the scarce side lately, so next week shouldn’t disappoint!
I’m kicking off the week with the much awaited (on my part at least) Blog Tour for StoneKing by Donna Migliaccio. I’ll be reviewing the book tomorrow in the penultimate slot and I would love if you could check that out!
I’ll be publishing another review on Wednesday for Copper Sky by Milana Marsenich, a fictional book illustrating the struggles of both men and women in the small mining town of Butte in 1917. Milana is also working on a guest post, which we are planning on sharing with you all on Thursday!
I also have another post up my sleeve; a few weeks ago I was very kindly nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award by the lovely Larissa! Thank you dear! I haven’t forgotten, so I will get around to this soon, I promise! I am going to try and share this with you all towards the end of the week, but I don’t want to commit in case of timing constraints! If all else fails, I’ll begin the next week with this post!!
So that is *ALL* for now – I look forward to seeing you around!!
Rebecca mono