Author: fantasyst95

Sunday Summary – 18th February 2018

This week has been a little less productive on the reading front.
Saying that, it has been an unusual week all-round. It throws me a little off balance when it happens, but it’s safe to say that everything is settling down again now.
Earlier this week, it was also my birthday! I had a lovely day despite spending it at work (and working slightly longer to make up some time off I needed) and I was given some lovely gifts! Not all of them were book related, but I got one or two. I love them all!
I was late in posting my review of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, which firstly I attribute to WordPress not working on Monday night, and secondly to my birthday. I had an inkling that I may not manage to get it written by Wednesday, so I hope no-one was too disappointed. If anyone hasn’t taken a look at this review, I would very much appreciate it if you did!

Books Read


I’ve made further progress this week in reading Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio, the second book of The Gemeta Stone series. I read the first book at the beginning of the month, and I will be reading/reviewing the last book as part of a blog tour next month, which I am looking forward to! Although I have made progress, I would have liked to have finished this book this week. A lot of my free time was taken up with other things, so I didn’t get as much reading time as I wanted. Perhaps I’ll be able to finish it if I make a final push on it tonight… I’ll try, at least.
As I said above, I have been working on some other things. A painting, in fact… to go on the wall of my living room. I have been working on it for weeks, to get it finished for my birthday, as I have been gifted the frame for it. I finished painting it last weekend, but I have spent a bit of time this week touching it up and perfecting it, putting the frame together etc. All that remains is for it to go up on the wall!
Whilst I have been working on this, I have taken to listening to audiobooks. With the amount of time I have put into it, I managed to finish this month’s download, The Girl on the Train, last night.
I’ve really enjoyed listening to it overall, as it is a book I don’t think I would have “picked up” otherwise. Paula’s use of the unreliable narrator is cleverly done.

Books Discovered


The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm was gifted to me for my birthday, as it was something I had my eye on for a while. I received the hardback edition, as such a classic deserves, and that currently sits proudly on my bookshelf. I can’t wait to take the time to read through the stories.
I became aware of The Long Earth, the first book of the series a little while ago, and knew that I wanted to give it a try. Stephen Baxter is one of my dad’s favourite authors and Terry Pratchett is one of mine, so it’s a no brainer really! When Bookbub notified me that The Long War was on sale, well, it would have been a crime not to…

Coming Up…

I don’t want to commit to too much on the blog this week, as I definitely have some reading to catch up on. Because of that, I’ll be sticking to two posts this week.
On Wednesday, (and this week it WILL be, I promise), I am posting my review of Kinglet by Donna Migliaccio, and I’ll round off the week with a Sunday Summary, as usual.
Hopefully I’ll have a bit more to talk about with you next week.
As a birthday related discussion point – what is the best birthday gift you have received?

Book Review: The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

I can only apologise if you were expecting a review out of me yesterday.
I had every intention of writing this on Monday night – I was home early and had plenty of time on my hands… but WordPress had no plans to do ANYTHING for me. Reluctantly, I signed off.
I knew I wasn’t going to get anything written on Tuesday, and that is why in my Sunday Summary I commented that I may be late posting this. Why? It was my birthday! I had plans to be out for the evening – and I enjoyed every minute of it!
 
The Miniaturist
Goodreads – The Miniaturist

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam–a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion–a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.
“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .”
On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.
But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .
Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

I feel like I have spoken about this book a lot – and to my mind it deserves all the attention it gets.
I added this book to the TBR last year – but after watching the recent TV adaptation between Christmas and New Year… I knew I had to read this sooner rather than later. I love books and TV shows set in historic time periods, along with the social issues and differences to modern day life that come along with that.
Nella marries a rich merchant and travels to Amsterdam to start her new life in a position of power. The atmosphere of Amsterdam is extremely oppressive in comparison to today’s standards, with the oppression coming from the church and religion itself. Power is a double sided coin though – and there are many that would like to see her new husband Johannes Brandt fall from grace.
The dynamic of the city and the relationship Nella has with Johannes’ sister, Marin, go hand in hand with each other. Marin is distant and untrusting of Nella, but as the narrative, the lies and deceit gradually unfold, these two women have to join forces to withstand the storm. Marin would have many believe she paupers herself in humility to God, but she is far from virtuous in reality, which Nella soon discovers.
But within this city built on lies and corruption, resides the Miniaturist, who has a startling ability to see the details many would love to keep hidden…
Nella, and the perspective of the story from this naïve, young woman is written in an extraordinary way. Throughout we see how Nella develops from the innocent young girl, who thinks longingly of marriage and children, to a woman who is able to deal with hardship and finally take her role and accompanying responsibilities as Johannes Brandt’s wife. Whilst she always retains a glimmer of hope, something I attribute to her youth, her understanding of her new world and the corruption rife within it blossoms.
The characters and relationships are complex yet consistent, built within the web of society laced with prejudice and discrimination, a lack of gender rights and racial inequality. All of these issues are touched on beautifully, in such a way as to make you sympathise with each character and the difficulties they face in this oppressive life they lead.
I completely loved this book, and I cannot recommend this highly enough to anyone! Even if you cannot bear to read the book – watch the TV adaptation, please.
You won’t regret it.
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary: 11th February 2018

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend!!
I’m finally glad to be sharing the good news I withheld from you last week. At that time, I had only just been contacted about it and wanted to be sure everything goes ahead before I announced it.
So, I have been taking requests from authors to review their books for a little while now, and during my time doing so I have reviewed a couple of books published via OpenBooks – Remember For Me – Diana Tarant Schmidt and more recently, A Mentor and Her Muse – Susan Sage.
Following on from the work I have done with these authors, OpenBooks asked if I would like to become a contributor on their site and if they could share my reviews! Naturally I accepted and on Friday, my review of A Mentor and Her Muse was re-published on their site. The review I wrote for Remember For Me is also to be re-published shortly!
So… that’s my news!! Exciting stuff for me, at least!!
On slightly more mundane matters, this week I shared my review of Former.ly – Dane Cobain, finally appeasing the Netgalley Gods and raising my score considerably – aha! I also reviewed ReWired by S R Johannes on their site and Goodreads, so that should keep them quiet whilst I download the next one…
Oops…
 

Books Read


 
This week I made a lot of progress with Kinglet this week, and I actually finished it midweek. From there, I started reading the next book in the series, Fiskur. So far I have  only really started this one, but I am going to finish it within the next week.
I don’t normally “binge-read” a series like this, however the third book is to be published imminently (20 Feb) and I have had the opportunity to get onto the blog tour to review it! Therefore, I’ve had to read both of these pretty snappy, but it has by no means been a chore. I loved the first book. It’s been a while since I’ve read this type of fantasy and I am looking forward to finishing the next one.
On the audiobook front, I have also been listening to The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins. This isn’t a book I would have picked up and read in the typical way I don’t think, but I am enjoying the audiobook. The narrative is very well read and the plot just keeps getting more dense!!!!
 
The Girl on The Train.jpg

Books Discovered


 
I added a few books to the TBR this week. Shock horror… right?!
A couple of them are iconic books that I really need to read. The Great Gatsby is something I have considered before, but I didn’t add it to the list at the time. The Diary of Anne Frank is a book I came across at school, when we studied History (obviously), but having read a little more about her story on a whim, I decided I wanted to read her diary.
I acquired a copy of The Irrationalist on request from OpenBooks, after being made a contributor on their review website! I can’t wait to read this one!
I discovered A Land of Shades via Bookbub; it is about a priest’s struggle with his faith during the First World War.
I also received some bookmail on Friday, which I have been waiting for! I won my first ever giveaway a couple of weeks ago, and here is the book I won!!
 
Tricks of the Trade
 
Lastly, having eased the oppression of a dud Netgalley score and seeing it above fiifty per cent, I decided to have a mooch around, like you do, and I ended up downloading another book. Please don’t judge me – I have no will power…
 
Mansions of Murder
 

Coming Up…

This week, I am looking forward to sharing my review of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton with you. This was my last book on the list from January, so I am reasonably up to date with reviews!
As usual, I am going to try to get this posted for Wednesday, however I have a couple of busy days coming up, so it may be Thursday by the time I get it finished!
We’ll see. Until then, see you around!
Rebecca mono

Book Review: Former.ly – Dane Cobain

Hi everyone!!

Today, I am getting around to a task that I have should have done months and months and months ago.

I can see why Netgalley becomes addictive and you end up getting behind on reviews. I have only downloaded a few books, but the problem is that there are so many great books out there… prioritising your reading and putting these to the bottom of the list can give you a bad rating…

Not that I know anything about that….. *whistles tunelessly*

SO! In case you hadn’t gathered – I received a copy of this book, for free, from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated are my own.

Former.ly
Published 11 June 2016 by
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Goodreads – Former.ly

When Dan Roberts starts his new job at Former.ly, he has no idea what he’s getting into. The site deals in death – its users share their innermost thoughts, which are stored privately until they die. Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences.

But something strange is going on, and the site’s two erratic founders share a dark secret. A secret that people are willing to kill for.

I think there is a part of that blurb that is misleading – “Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences”. Having read the book – I have absolutely no idea what this is supposed to refer to. Can someone please enlighten me? I can’t recall anything “shocking” published on the site.

Former.ly is a social network designed for users to prepare memorials for after they are gone. Beginning in a small, grubby house and gradually growing into a state-of-the-art office with full security complement, the Company seems to be going from strength to strength, but what is driving this Company forward?

The narrative within the book itself is well presented and there is enough mystery throughout to keep the reader gripped. When Dan starts at the Company, he knows very little about the work he is contributing to; he knows he is working out bugs in code, but not what it does. Other members of staff come and go and as Dan becomes more experienced, he is able to dig deeper using the trust he has gained. The pace at which the story unfolds is good, which helps the story to flow.

If I am completely honest, I didn’t really understand Dan’s motivation to stay with the Company at all. Not only is he working such crazy hours that it affects his relationship, but his employers are also really shifty and mistrusting all the time! I know if that was me, I wouldn’t sit well with it. There are other characters that feel the same way I do, but I struggled to sympathise with Dan for one simple reason – he had plenty of warning signs to get out of that situation sooner. Sure, maybe he did want to get to the bottom of what was going on, but I just couldn’t put myself in his shoes. That’s an entirely personal thing – not a fault of the character himself.

Overall, I rated the book three stars, as whilst the writing and the plot was good, I struggled to relate to the characters telling the story. I also didn’t feel that much depth with characters other than the MC either, which I would have expected since Dan et al spend almost all of the time in the office (yes, anti-social hours and weekends too)!
It was an acceptable read, even if there were parts that weren’t entirely to my liking.
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 4th February 2018

I’ve really enjoyed this week, even if I do say so myself.
It’s been a productive week on the blog for starters, and I’ve enjoyed investing the time into both writing my posts and exploring other blogs. I forget to do that sometimes, and it is awful of me.
I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch, so I’m going to keep some good news I have close to my chest… at least until next week! All will be revealed, I promise!
As I mentioned above, this week was a good one on the blog – again, it’s a four posts week! Not only did I share both my review and author interview in relation to A Mentor and Her Muse, by Susan Sage, I also shared my reading list for February on Friday. If you want to check out which books I am reading, you can either check out this post or alternatively, they can be found on Goodreads in my Currently Reading section.
 

Books Read


 
I finished reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton at the beginning of this week, leaving me a couple of days before getting a kick-start on February’s list. I’m glad I heard about this book last year and bumped it up the list having watched the TV adaptation, otherwise I’d have been missing out on enjoying a great read for a lot longer.
I’ve also started Kinglet, the first book of the Gemeta Stone series.  I can tell it is going to be an enjoyable one for me. It’s been a little while since I read Fantasy like this, and that probably helps me appreciate it more! When I say I’ve made a start, so far I have read 27% of the book, but hardly feels like I’ve “put time into it”. It sucks you in straight away.
 
The Stand
 
On a separate note, I also finished listening to The Stand by Stephen King via Audible at about 11pm last night. It cannot be called anything but an epic, at just over 47 hrs worth of audio, but I’ve loved every second of it! I’m going to review this as well, if anyone is interested, and I feel more than sure that further down the line I’ll be reading a copy of this myself and experiencing it all over again.
 

Books Discovered


 
I have added some exciting books to the TBR this week!!
Year and years ago I watched Luther on TV, (you know, Idris Elba? Please tell me you watched this too) and I’ve only just discovered BOOKS ABOUT LUTHER!!!! So they aren’t the same stories, but the one I have added is like a prequel to those.
I also watched my first BookTube, hosted by a blogger I have followed and loved for some time. If you want to watch the video, you can find it here. She also blogs at A Frolic Through Fiction and her twitter is @frolic_fiction. In case you hadn’t guessed, this is a MAJOR PLUG – go and check her out!
The point I am getting to is this – in her wrap up she talked about reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and she has inspired me to pick the book up. I’m not 100% sure it is my thing, but I began this blog to broaden my horizons, and I won’t know if I like it or not until I try. So thank you Ashleigh!!
Lastly, I added India Black yesterday and I thought it sounded really intriguing – for no reason other than that! And why not?
 
Punishment
 
This is the only book I bought this week – but again, the combination of crime and sci-fi intrigued me! From what I gather, the detectives use a machine in order to help catch criminals and understand motives etc, but this leaves some kind of mental scarring. It sounds like an unusual and exciting read to me anyway, so I have added this one to the TBR too!
 

Coming Up…

As I hinted at earlier, I may have some news to share with you all next week, so please be patient on that front.
In the meantime, I will be reviewing one of my Netgalley reads on Wednesday, Former.ly by Dane Cobain. At the same time I am going to write a brief review for Netgalley only on ReWired by S. R. Johannes, in order to fulfil the obligation, but I wont be reviewing it here.
Until next time, I hope you have an exciting weekend and a lovely week ahead!
Rebecca mono

Reading List: February 2018

February is my favourite month of the year.
Yes, it’s usually cold and wet; dark and drizzly…. but the days begin to stretch out a little longer. The drive home after work will not be punctuated by street lamps for much longer. Before long, we will be able to bask in the evening sunshine on the beach!!
beach flip.gif
Source: Giphy
Okay, I am being a little too optimistic here, but you see my point. The New Year (and warmer climes) are on the way. Maybe not here, but somewhere…?
Maybe I should get back to the REAL reason why February is my favourite month – because it’s my birthday soon! I’m still of an age in which I look forward to birthdays, instead of trying to forget about them. I don’t have any special plans, but there’s always the chance of one or two bookish gifts, so I’m in!!
As February is my favourite month, I have decided that the majority of my books to read are from my favourite genre – Fantasy! Shall we take a look at the books I’m reading this month? Just call me your fairy Godmother and say no more – because your wish is my command!
 

Kinglet – Donna Migliaccio

kinglet
I first became aware of this series when I took part in a Blog Tour for the second book, Fiskur. I posted an excerpt and enjoyed reading it myself, but due to other commitments I didn’t have the time to pursue picking the first book up. Now I am pleased to say I do have the time, and Fiery Seas Publishing sent me an ebook copy when I made the request.
 

Fiskur – Donna Migliaccio

Fiskur
At the time of making the request for Kinglet, I was also sent Fiskur too! I also happen to know that the third book of the series is being published soon, so I wanted to read both of these books ready. I hope to be signed up to the blog tour for StoneKing!
 

The Torcian Chronicles – P. J. Reed

The Torcian Chronicles
I’m checking out The Torcian Chronicles this month as I am taking part in a Blog Tour for this book beginning the 1st March. I’ll admit this is the first I have heard of the author, despite having a number of works, including poetry and short stories. I have high hopes for the book and I can’t wait to let you know my thoughts!
 

Living On A Rainbow – Calvin Wade

Living on a Rainbow
This is my non-fantasy read of the month, and it addresses a more important topic – mental illness. I was blown away by the sample I read, and I expect I’ll have this book gobbled up in a matter of a few days once I pick it up!
 

A Darker Shade of Magic – V E Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic
So… I have FINALLY decided to jump on the bandwagon and see what all the fuss is about. I see retweets of Victoria’s posts on Twitter all the time as she is so popular amongst bloggers! There seems to be such a buzz about her books, so now I just have to find out what they are all about!
Divider mono
So, that is my reading list for this month!!
Have any of you read any of these books? If so, what did you make of them? Would you recommend them to a friend?
As always, I love to hear from you!
Rebecca mono

Author Interview: Susan Sage

Good morning everyone – I hope you are all having a lovely day!
Some of you may know that I shared my review of A Mentor and Her Muse, written by Susan Sage yesterday. Thank you to those that have had the opportunity to read the review. If you haven’t checked that out already and want to take a look, you can find that post (HERE)!
As always, I like to give authors a chance to have their own time to talk about their book; I think it is only fair, in fact. Susan has kindly dedicated some time to just that purpose, so thank you very much!
So, without further ado, I’ll hand over to Susan, and what her thoughts are in reply to some questions I had after reading A Mentor and Her Muse:-
 

What or who was your greatest influence in terms of inspiration for the book?

Somewhere I read that a good way to write a book is to ask yourself a question of the ‘what if’ variety. Ever since seeing Thelma & Louise, I’ve enjoyed imagining various road trips. What if I wrote about one? Who would I select for the journey? I thought of a student at a school where I once worked. She was the impetus for Taezha. I didn’t know the student well, but she used to tell me about how she loved writing and wanted nothing more than to become an author when she grew up. Her future was a promising one. I’ve always wondered what became of her and can’t help but think that books and writing are still an important part of her life. That I was able to help foster her interest in literature helped me get up every morning and go to a stressful job in a public school in a poverty-stricken district. Also, my oldest sister was a teacher in the inner city of Detroit back in the late 1960s. I was very impressed by her caring and compassionate nature. She was the sort who went above and beyond with students. However, I don’t think she ever took a student on a road trip – at least not of the sort that Maggie took Tae on. More than half the fun of writing fiction is in taking biographical bits of those you know and transforming them into your own creations.
 

What is your Ideal time and place to write? Do you have a routine?

An ideal time and place would be to write in a large, book-lined home library/office while seated at a large mahogany desk. My ideal time would be after midnight. However, I’m a morning person, so in actuality, that’s when I get my best writing done. I do write in my home office, but it’s a small one. Lately, I only seem to be able to write in my somewhat broken down reclining chair. It overlooks a lovely, large Maple tree. Seems like I’ve always needed to be near a window when I write… I wish I had a better writing routine! Four days a week during the 9-month school year, I try to write in the evenings – usually for an hour or so. Doesn’t always happen…On my mornings off work, I spend the mornings writing and afternoons revising (that’s always my plan, anyway). I’ve always been the most productive in the summer.
 

Which character do I relate to the most and why?

It would have to be Maggie. Like me, she longs to spend most of her time writing, doesn’t like driving in traffic, and has insomnia. But she’s got way more issues than I do: she is haunted by her past. She doesn’t mind her life so much when she is mentoring and maybe imagining herself as a muse. While I enjoy mentoring, I don’t consciously think about becoming anyone’s muse! Also, her relationships with family and others are way different from my own. She felt way more judged by her parents and older sister than I ever did. She tries to lead a quiet life, but it doesn’t work out for her. What I like about my life right now is that it is a quiet one…Still, like Maggie, I need the stimulation of travel, of fully embracing life, even if that means having to feel all the bumps and potholes! The most autobiographical parts in the book are depicted in Maggie’s journals from her years growing up in Detroit.
 

Both Maggie and Tae are complex characters. What do you think is Maggie’s main motivation for taking Tae under her wing?

Maggie wants to rescue Tae from a life which she’s certain will not allow Tae to develop as a writer. She meets Tae at an incredibly lonely, difficult time in her life. Relationships with men haven’t worked out, she doesn’t have children, plus she’s going through menopause. Tae makes her feel alive like few others are able to, so Maggie is hardly an altruistic mentor. Still, she truly enjoys taking Tae places, especially to Tae’s first poetry reading or an art gallery. She doesn’t have any children, and as you find out later in the book, she discovers the pros and cons that go along with the role of parenting. At times I felt like Maggie had more to learn from Tae than Tae did from her. Hard to say who the real mentor was – who the real muse!
 

There are sensitive issues touched upon in the book, in particular the racial inequality and discrimination experienced in the not-too-distant past. What impact do you think this subject has on the book and on the characters within?

While Maggie was raised in Detroit, she went to a school where integration was forced: black students were bussed to the all-white school she attended. As a girl, she didn’t understand why blacks didn’t frequent an upscale department store. She lived a mile away from the Detroit riots. Although Maggie always lived near blacks, she was never a part of their world. She saw through the particular lens of white privilege. Decades pass and she finds herself trying to immerse herself in a world she thinks she understands. She is saddened by the poverty of the segregated area where she works in Flint. Maggie would like nothing better than to rescue Tae from feeling the slightest hint of discrimination, and of course, she can’t. She struggles with being a privileged, liberal white woman. Her journal entries show not only her awareness of racial inequality but her attempt to deal with white guilt which carries over into Flint in 2012: she has naïve hopes that by taking Tae on a summer road trip she’ll be able to release herself from the burden. She is surprised by the looks she and Tae get in restaurants; she hasn’t thought through how Tae will feel in the all-white lodge in Hocking Hills. She doesn’t understand Quintana very well, nor Quintana’s reaction to her. Early on, Tae has little regard for Quintana or her ‘sisters’ (except the sickly Tamala). She wants to be free of the difficulties of living in poverty, of being bi-racial. When she realizes the cost of being controlled by Maggie, both on the road and even once they are living with Tyler, Tae re-evaluates her relationship with Quintana and realizes some of the positives. Quintana wants to place her trust in Maggie, but Maggie betrays her by absconding with Tae. You wonder when or if she’ll ever open her door again to a white woman!
 
A Mentor and Her Muse is an enjoyable journey with an array of complex, but equally relatable characters.
For anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the book, you can find the required links below:-
A Mentor and Her Muse
 

Open Books

Amazon

 

Book Review: A Mentor and Her Muse – Susan Sage

Today, I am pleased to be bringing you my review of A Mentor and Her Muse, by Susan Sage. I’ll just go ahead and get the unequivocally boring bit done and then we can get on to the fun part of this review:-

***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 – that wasn’t too painful… It’s just good to get those horribly necessary bits out-of-the-way. And now, for the review!

A Mentor and Her Muse
Goodreads – A Mentor and Her Muse

Under the guise of mentor and muse, a frustrated writer and her ambitious teenage protégé take an illicit summer road trip fraught with racial and sexual tension. This is a compelling psychological novel about social norms, artistic ambition, and obsession.

Maggie Barnett works in the media center of a school in Flint, Michigan where she meets Taezha Riverton, an aspiring teenage writer. After discovering that Maggie is also a writer, Taezha turns to her as both mentor and friend.

Alone and childless, it’s not enough for Maggie to take Tae to upscale restaurants and poetry readings; she has a more far-reaching vision. Although Tae’s mother has nothing against Maggie, she is less than thrilled when Maggie proposes to take her daughter on a summer road trip. Permission is never explicitly granted, but shortly after school is out for the summer, Maggie and Tae head for the Southeast.

Tae’s mother insists that Maggie return Tae to Flint, but Maggie instead takes Tae to a remote cabin outside Asheville, North Carolina. Growing evermore emotionally unsound, Maggie clings to the belief that living close to nature is the perfect therapy for her doubts and insecurities. Yet her role as mentor has now been supplanted to that of a drill sergeant, causing Tae to have serious misgivings…

The book’s narrative is exciting, enjoyable and well written, with each chapter, perspective and character voice distinctive from the others. I also appreciate the integration of the racial inequalities and prejudice present within society.

For me, the most enjoyable part of the book was the dynamic between Maggie and Tae; it is at times close, but in equal measure it can be electric and unpredictable. I found both of these characters to be incredibly relatable, even though they are both drastically different from one another. To master the depth of understanding required to properly articulate both of these characters, as Susan does, is an achievement worthy of recognition.

The differences between Maggie and Tae are set out early on. Maggie, now a fifty-something year old author, was brought up in wealthy and stable household – both of her parents were lawyers. Tae, our teenage protagonist, does not have this level of security at all – in fact, her mother Quintana struggles to pay the rent from month to month and raises a number of children, each demanding different levels of attention. The household is a chaotic comparison to Maggie’s upbringing; Tae, for the most part, shuts herself away in her room. It is from this unstable life that Maggie sweeps Tae away – and they go on a summer road trip! A writer’s retreat, as Maggie calls it.

Maggie assumes the role of mentor on the trip and through various “intimate” moments with Maggie’s thoughts (via her journal), we see the unstable side to her personality. Maggie is more dependent on Tae than perhaps she would like to admit, but her confessions about their relationship and her childhood explain why she wants to give Tae the opportunities she never had. Despite the best of intentions, Maggie is far from the perfect role model. There are concerns raised about the nature of her relationship with Tae, and in general for her welfare. When she discovers they are being followed… this tips her over the edge.

Their relationship is rocky, to say the least, as it transforms from a student/teacher semi-formal dynamic to a much closer one. At times they are on the same page, but gradually we see Tae beginning to write her own life story, and perhaps it was not the one Maggie had intended for her. The journey both Maggie and Tae take together can be interpreted as more important than the destination. The bond that forms between them is unique and the experience is a learning curve. As the trip comes to an end, it is evident that both Maggie and Tae have learned and matured from the experience of being around the other.

As a reader, you are absorbed into the story right away, experiencing the highs and lows of the trip as if you are tagging along with them! Again, I cannot highly commend Susan enough for her ability to step wholly into the shoes of Maggie or Tae, she keeps their identities definitively separate yet coherently pieces together the road trip from each perspective, with common themes.

Thanks again for the privilege of reading A Mentor and Her Muse – it is an enjoyable and captivating read!
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 28th January 2018

Good morning everyone!!
I think this week could definitely be called a productive one, as this is the fourth blog post I am bringing to you this week! At the beginning of the year I announced that I was reducing my regular posts down from three to two – and it’s taken the pressure off me a bit. I’ve enjoyed having a more intense week though, as I have had some exciting things to talk about!
On Tuesday, I brought to you an Author Interview with Steve Campitelli, in which he talks to us about his first book of a future series, The Fall, set in post-apocalyptic Australia. I followed up with my Book Review on Wednesday!
Last week I was nominated for the Liebster Award – my first nomination for the blog. I won’t lie, I was a little excited! It’s nice to get some appreciation for your blog once in a while, especially given how much time and effort we all pour into them.
 

Books Read


 
I began the week by making a start on ReWired by S R Johannes, with high hopes. I downloaded this book from Netgalley, but unfortunately, I just didn’t like it. This is my first DNF for the year. On the whole the writing was pretty good, but I struggled to relate to the main character. The straw that broke the camel’s back came about 10% into the book, in which the story was so clearly rushed to move things along, and it was done badly. After that, I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it.
I’ll have to get something together for a review on Netgalley, but I am not going to bother to review it here. I don’t think it’s really fair to review a book you only read a small portion of.
After that, I moved onto the book I have been looking forward to picking up all this month – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. I saw the book for the first time last year and added it to the TBR; months later around Christmas, I saw a two-part TV adaptation and recorded it.
I actually watched the TV adaptation first, on New Years Eve, and I knew I had to read the book ASAP. I loved it!! So far, I am 67% through the book, and on track to finish by the end of the month.
 

Books Discovered


 
I added The Potato Factory after seeing a fellow bloggers post talking about it. I’ve just had a look to see if I can find the post again, but unfortunately I can’t. I need to make notes when I see posts like these, so I can link them here.
In essence, the post talked about the blogger’s mum being a great lover of Bryce Courtenay, and for a long time [blogger] didn’t pick up any of his books. Now she has – and she loves them! If I ever come across that post again I am going to link it here, because it deserves recognition.
 
I bought a physical copy of The Necronomicon by H. P. Lovecraft this week, and I absolutely LOVE IT!! It’s hardback and smells amazing; it has a leather cover, is ridiculously heavy… and did I mention it smells amazing? I will confess that I love the smell of new books and I am not ashamed.
When I brought it back to work, having bought it in my lunch hour, I ended up having a pretty long conversation with a colleague about H. P. Lovecraft and the book itself; which stories he really liked etc. It was a lovely conversation – I don’t actually get to have many of those, as there are very few people in my life as fanatical about books as I am…
Admittedly, I don’t usually spend as much on any one book as I did with that one, but it’s worth it to me; he’s an influential writer, there are lots and lots of stories in there, and what the hell – it’s my birthday in a couple of weeks! That can be my present from myself.
 

Coming Up…

Next week is also going to be a busy one on the blog, and I am looking forward to it! I get a couple of days respite before things get underway with a review of A Mentor and Her Muse by Susan Sage on Wednesday.
Following on from that, Susan kindly spent some time in order to get an interview post put together, so look out for that on Thursday!
On Friday, it’s time to share my Reading List for February, as the new month will be upon us!!
I hope you will be able to join me in the week ahead for more things bookish!
Rebecca mono