Author: fantasyst95

First Lines Friday – 20/03/2020

Hi readers and welcome back to another First Lines Friday post!

I’m looking forward to sharing the opening lines of this week’s featured book. I am in love with this book, as well as the rest of the series it is the introduction to. They are books I know I will go back to and read again and again – they will never get old!

Can you guess the book from the introduction?

 

‘We should start back,’ Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them. ‘The Wildlings are dead’.

‘Do the dead frighten you?’ Ser Waymar Royce asked with just the hint of a smile.

Gared did not rise to the bait. He was an old man, past fifty, and he had seen the lordlings come and go. ‘Dead is dead,’ he said. ‘We have no business with the dead.’

‘Are they dead?’ Royce asked softly. ‘What proof have we?’

‘Will saw them,’ Gared said. ‘If he says they are dead, that’s proof enough for me.’

Will had known they would drag him into the quarrel sooner or later. He wished it had been later rather than sooner. ‘My mother told me that dead men sing no songs,’ he put in.

‘My wet nurse said the same thing, Will,’ Royce replied. ‘Never believe anything you hear at a woman’s tit. There are things to be learned even from the dead.’ His voice echoed, too loud in the twilit forest.

 

 

Shall we find out what it is?

 

A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

Goodreads – A Game of Thrones

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

 

Purchase linksAmazon UK     Amazon US     Waterstones

 

Even if you haven’t read the books but watched the series, you probably recognised this by the early reference to the Wildlings. I love A Game of Thrones. I’ll hold my hands up and say I am obsessed because it’s true!

I first bought these books on Kindle in January/February 2012. Based on my order history on Amazon, I must have read this first book and then decided to buy the next few of the series in one go. My first time reading this book pre-dates my Goodreads account, so it’s a best guess. I have actually re-read this book a further two times, the latest in November 2018. I’ve gone on to read the rest of the series again too, with just the last part of A Dance with Dragons to go to complete the re-read.

Do you love A Game of Thrones? Have you read the series at all, or more than once? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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***Please note this post contains affiliate links, meaning that I will earn a small commission on purchases made through them. If you like what you read and are interested in purchasing a copy of the book(s) featured in this post, please consider using these links and supporting a book blogger!

Thank you!***

 

Book Review: The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

It’s rare that I pre-order books ahead of release, but The Testaments by Margaret Atwood was an exception. I’m glad I did too! Not only was I eagerly awaiting it for months, but it’s unique in that it has been written thirty years after its predecessor, The Handmaid’s Tale.

I was super excited to get my hands on this in paperback the day of release. I even joked that day that I had subconsciously dressed in the colours of the cover! When I went to go and get my copy though, my day got better. Waterstones stores had one signed copy each, and one person who pre-ordered won the competition to that copy. I wouldn’t count myself as lucky, but I do that day. I won the signed edition!

 

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

Goodreads – The Testaments

When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” –Margaret Atwood

 

My Thoughts…

I’m glad Margaret Atwood didn’t try to emulate The Handmaid’s Tale too much. Trying to write a book in the same setting thirty years on just wouldn’t have been the same. It would have been disappointing. Furthermore, I really enjoyed exploring how Gilead’s society had progressed since the first book!

Having multiple narrators struck me as unusual when I first picked up the book – especially since The Handmaid’s Tale gives us just one perspective. Having read the book though, it works. It’s necessary too. There is no one person with all the information needed to tell of Gilead’s future. Each narrative voice is clear and identifiable from each other. Having each different perspective breaks up the story nicely. The length of each chapter is perfect to include all the action needed, but short enough to keep luring you in with “just one more”.

I feel sorry for this book in a way as it has a lot of poor reviews. Why? Because it isn’t a regurgitation of The Handmaid’s Tale… that it’s different. I feel like these people really don’t appreciate the sentiment behind the novel at all. You all have missed the point! Is The Testaments a necessary follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale? Perhaps not. It is fitting though. Society in 1985 was a lot different than it is today. We have far more freedom to be who we are without repression from others. Society isn’t static so why expect Gilead to be in a time warp? The fact is, the changes in Gilead and personal perspectives mirror the kind of changes in our own society.

I think The Testaments is the kind of book you are either going to love or hate. To be expected, I suppose. High profile books are often hit or miss on how well people rate them. Normally I am disappointed, but not with this one! I hope you readers love it as much as I did.

 

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Reasons I Love Being a Book Blogger

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to another Top Ten Tuesday post! It’s been three months since I put together my last TTT post. They’re a favourite to read and a lot of fun to write!

Today’s post is all about celebrating what I enjoy about being a book blogger. If you think it’s easy, think again – it’s like a part-time job! I probably average around 6-8 hours a week writing blog posts, never mind the number of hours reading the books I feature. That being said, I love it. It doesn’t feel like a job when it’s something you love to do and it comes with a lot of perks.

Here are my favourite things about being a book blogger!

 

Lots of reading!

It goes without saying, but if you want lots of material for your book blog you have to read. The backlog of books you read as a child/teenager will only go so far. Talking about the same books all the time makes for stale content too.

I’ve always loved reading – a good thing, I suppose. It was actually my love of reading (and getting back into it after a long while) that prompted me to think about starting Reviewsfeed. I couldn’t tell you how many hours a week I spend reading. It’s such a habit that I couldn’t imagine not reading. I can probably count on one hand the number of days a year I don’t pick up a book all day.

 

Book recommendations EVERYWHERE!

The advantage of being part of a book-loving community is that we are all talking about fantastic books. Pretty much any blog hopping session results in stumbling across someone’s great review for a book that’s right up your street. I think it’s great. My TBR list not so much… but what book blogger doesn’t have a humongous list of books to read? It wouldn’t be natural…

 

Trying new things

Since starting my blog I have been a lot more adventurous in my choices in reading material. I basically only used to read fantasy novels… maybe the odd science fiction or rarely a historical fiction if I really wanted to push the boat out. Thing is, I’d get bored of the same old tropes and it felt like reading the same books over and over again. It’s one of the reasons I let my reading habit slip after I left school.

Before my blog started, I had never read a horror novel. Stephen King was a name I was well familiar with (obviously), but I hadn’t even entertained reading one of his books. I’m an idiot, I see that now! If you had told me I would go on to re-read books I hated at school, like Of Mice and Men and 1984, or I would read more such ‘classics’, I’d have laughed at you. Having an audience to write for, and encourage you, makes a huge difference. Without it I think I would be just as unadventurous as before.

 

Hot off the press

The great thing about working with publishers (or even just following them) is knowing what new releases are coming out, and when!

I hardly read them straight away, but there is the odd exception to the rule. My point is, I have the choice to drop every book on my TBR for a new one if I really want to. It has been known and I didn’t feel remotely guilty!

 

Taking part in blog tours

I’ve discovered a love for taking part in blog tours. That probably won’t come as a surprise to you if you know how many I take part in. This partly links to the above point, because it’s a great opportunity to try something new. Through taking part in tours I have read books that I wouldn’t have necessarily discovered myself.

I also enjoy tours as I get to support new or indie authors. I have many favourite big-name authors that I read as well, but I try to balance my content to feature lesser-known or upcoming names as well. They have great books and it’s a pleasure to recommend them to others with similar reading tastes to me!

 

Collaborating with authors

Honestly, working with indie authors is the best! I have worked with many authors through direct requests and through tours now. A good number of them have come back to me to ask for further reviews as well. It’s satisfying, and they are truly so grateful that you want to work with them. I love getting feedback from them.

I’ve given up tagging well-established authors in posts unless it’s for a tour because it won’t get acknowledged anyway. They don’t ‘need’ your publicity. Indie authors are the complete opposite end of the spectrum though. They’ll keep re-posting your material for months afterwards – and not necessarily just your reviews of their book(s). They are the heart of the community.

Collaborating with authors is just part of the process. This point is more broad-based though. By supporting authors, I mean helping them to by sharing my reviews on other sites than my blog. The more reviews a book has on Amazon and the like, the more likely they are eligible for promotions and increased exposure.

 

Being part of an amazing community

Sticking with the theme of community, everyone’s great really! There’s no rivalry or bitterness over viewer numbers or content. Everyone is so supportive and engaging with your content as well as their own. Sure, you get the odd spanner making ridiculous claims that book bloggers aren’t ‘real readers’ and such, but they are few and far between.

We are all around because we are doing something we love – sharing our love of books with each other!

 

Getting the odd “free” book

I say “free”, but they aren’t really free. There are two main ways of getting books for no cost in this community – winning it in a promotional competition or by receiving it with the expectation of a review. It might not seem like much, but it’s actually several hours of my time in reading the book before spending a couple more drafting and editing my post before it goes live.

Everyone likes a freebie, I’ll be honest. However, I take issue with those that automatically assume that a review following receipt of a “free” copy is a dishonest one – that I’ve been bribed with it. I’m looking at you Amazon. My hobby is all about sharing my honest thoughts about (and recommending) books with a community of readers. If I lie and my opinions can’t be trusted by the very people I am putting them too, I’m ruining my reputation and integrity. It does me literally no favours to lie.

 

Freedom to speak my mind

It’s not very often that you can speak your mind freely about something. I try my best in everything I do, but sometimes there’s a time and a place and it’s not it. The advantage of having my own little corner on the internet is that I can share my thoughts freely. Fact is, I like offering my opinion (whether you like it or not). Here, no one tells me to shut up or keep my opinions to myself!

 

Sense of achievement

I’ll be the first person to hold my hands up and say that I am awful for starting new things and not seeing them through for very long. I get bored or lose interest. My blog is the exception to that rule. Even when I started it, I didn’t know how long I was going to stick at it for. I started with a completely free one at first while I tested out my initial commitment. As I found my feet, I decided to invest in it and it’s taken off from there.

I couldn’t tell you how much of my time I have funnelled into my reading and my blog to date. A lot! It’s rewarding though. To be able to say I stuck at something, and to be proud of my blog is a great feeling. If even one person reads my content and decides to buy a book based on it, that’s all the satisfaction I need.

Are you a book blogger? What are your favourite things about being one?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 15th March 2020

Today’s Sunday Summary post is coming to you a little late since I was taking part in a blog tour yesterday. I hope you had a good weekend!

This week has brought to you a couple of blog tours. The first of those, a review of Helene by Karl Drinkwater, was shared on Monday. Helene is a short story that ties into this Lost Solace series. I really enjoyed the book, and writing that post. I also got some great feedback from the author, who has also asked me to review two further books of his off the back of it!

After my post on Monday I took a few days “off” so to speak (I had some personal stuff to catch up with!), and shared my next post on Friday. This week’s Shelf Control post featured a contemporary novel that I wouldn’t typically describe as my cup of tea. That said, I do really love the sound of the book based on the synopsis and I am always open to trying something new.

Lastly, I shared my blog tour review of Tooth and Blade by Julian Barr on Sunday. This book is really unique in that it combines Norse mythology and fantasy together with a strong female protagonist trying to find her way in a world where she doesn’t fit in.

 

Books Read

My priority of the week was reading Tooth and Blade by Julian Barr since yesterday was my blog tour date. I actually read this book in a couple of days. These three novellas combined total around 288 pages, but honestly, it was so easy to read that they flew by! The story is unlike anything I have read before as well, so I was keen to see how events played out. If you want to read more about it, my link to my review is above.

After a great start to the week, I hit a slump midweek. After reading Tooth and Blade I picked up Good Omens again. All my blog tour reading is done at this point, so I was free to go back to it. I’ve struggled to get back into it though. I’ve picked it up three or four times this week, but I’ve not been able to stick with it. I distract myself with other things or my attention would wander. I don’t know why I’m not getting back into it, but there we are. I’ve read about 10% this week. That’s 50 pages, but it doesn’t feel like much of an achievement, to be honest. I’ll keep trying, but I’m going to take a short break from it.

After an unsuccessful attempt at returning to Good Omens, I decided to move on to the next book on my TBR. After reading The Alloy of Law recently I wanted to continue catching up with this series. Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson is proving more successful in terms of reading. I only started this on Saturday night and as of writing this post, I’m already 25% through it. I reckon I can squeeze in another hour of reading before bed tonight. By the time this post goes live, I should be about 40% through, or close to.

I’ve chipped another couple of hours or so off my audiobook Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. The plot is really coming together now, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the gang get themselves out of the trouble they’ve landed in!

 

Books Discovered

 

I’ve been pretty good this week, as I’ve been busy reading, trying to read or catching up with some other stuff I’ve had to do!

 

Coming Up…

Now that all my blog tours are done for the month, I plan to share some reviews I need to catch up with. Before that though, it’s been a long time since I wrote a Top Ten Tuesday post. This week, taking into account my blog’s 3 year anniversary is coming up next month, I want to share my top ten reasons I love being a book blogger!

On Thursday I’m sharing a review for a book I was dying to get my hands on last year. Little did I know that my copy of the book was going to be special! Yes, I am talking about The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. If I was intolerably excited before collecting my pre-ordered copy that day, I would have been worse that afternoon! It’s been five months or so since I read the book, so I can’t wait to finally set my thoughts down about it.

On Friday it’s the turn of a First Lines Friday post. I enjoyed featuring a book I read prior to starting my blog in my last First Lines Friday post, so I am going to try and do the same thing again.

Last, but certainly not least, next week’s Sunday Summary post will be coming to you on schedule.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s belated Sunday Summary post. Have you read any of these books?

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: Tooth and Blade – Julian Barr

Welcome to today’s blog tour review for Tooth and Blade by Julian Barr. I hope you are having a lovely weekend?

I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you about this book. When Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources circulated the book and tour details, I was immediately drawn in by the combination of Norse mythology and fantasy. I’ve read a few books with elements of Norse mythology in them, such as Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories (aka The Last Kingdom) series. I really enjoy reading more about it and was curious to see how these elements would come together.

As always, thank you to Rachel and to the author Julian Barr for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!

 

Tooth and Blade – Julian Barr

Parts 1-3 of the legendary TOOTH AND BLADE series together for the first time!

Two worlds. One destiny.

Dóta has dwelled sixteen years among the trolls. She knows nothing but the darkness of her family’s cave. Her mother says humans are beasts who would slay them all. Yet the gods of Asgard whisper in the night: Dóta is a child of men, a monster unto monsters.

To discover her human side, Dóta must take up her bone knife and step into the light above. Secrets await her in the human realm—beauty, terror, the love of a princess.

Soon Dóta must choose between her clan and humankind, or both worlds will be devoured in fire and war.

A monster sheds no tears.

Norse mythology meets historical fantasy in TOOTH AND BLADE. Step into a realm of haunted meres, iron and magic.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK     Amazon US     Books2Read

 

My Thoughts…

Dóta is a daughter of two worlds. Born to human parents but raised by trolls, she is a unique character. Until she is permitted to go up to the surface and experience the world for herself, Dóta lives a sheltered life. Only her mother and brother’s stories about her past and the world above feed her curiosity, until one day she is sent above to hunt for herself.

Tooth and Blade is a tale of magic, discovery, identity and conflict. As I expected, I really enjoyed the Norse mythology element. I am still a novice when it comes to knowledge of Norse mythology, however, I know the basics. The gods and concepts of destiny and fate were present consistently throughout the book, so it definitely has a significant influence on the narrative.

At 288 pages, these three novellas together are an excellent length to establish an interesting world and allow for plenty of action and character development. I actually read Tooth and Blade in a couple of days. The story and writing style flow so well that it makes for an easy read to pick up and enjoy.

Tooth and Blade has many elements that wouldn’t typically be put together into one narrative, and yet it all gelled perfectly. The narrative has a solid plotline that cleverly brings all the characters and their different backgrounds together. Dóta is my favourite of all though. She is a truly unique character who doesn’t strictly fit in. She’s fierce and a fighter, and after all the turmoil of discovering who she really is, she decides to carve her own path instead of letting others decide what role she should play.

Dóta isn’t the only strong female character. There are other female warriors, trained to protect the King no less. My experience of Norse/Viking novels is that lead characters are very young, alpha-male personalities. Men. Tooth and Blade showed a completely different perspective, which is refreshing!

If you’d like to read more about Tooth and Blade, you can check out some of the other blog tour posts – details below.

 

Author Bio

Julian Barr first fell in love with all things ancient and magical in childhood, when he staged his own version of I, Claudius using sock puppets. After his PhD in Classics, he did a brief stint as a schoolteacher, hated being called ‘sir,’ and dived into storytelling. Although he remains open to the possibilities of sock puppet theatre, historical fantasy is his passion. He has published scholarly research on Roman medicine and the gastronomic habits of Centaurs, but prefers to think of himself as an itinerant bard. He is also the author of the Ashes of Olympus trilogy.

Social Media Links –

https://twitter.com/jbarrauthor

https://www.facebook.com/jbarrauthor/

https://jbarrauthor.com/

 

Shelf Control #16 – 13/03/2020

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! In today’s post, I am featuring a contemporary novel on my TBR. I wouldn’t describe it as my typical type of read, but I love the sound of the book based on the synopsis. I am a sentimental person, so I think I am really going to get on with the book and the main characters!

As a refresher, Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

 

Shelf Control posts allow me to look in more depth at the books I have added to my TBR and listed as keepers in my Down the TBR Hole posts. It’s a great chance to talk about why I want to keep the featured book; it also acts as a second sweep for anything that I may have changed my mind about. I have actually deleted a few books doing this sweep. I don’t necessarily own all the books (yet), but I will have a reasonable number of them. I’ve also gone on to read a couple of the earliest books on the list, so this mini-series is proving useful!

Shall we check out today’s featured book?

 

The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan

Goodreads – The Keeper of Lost Things

A charming, clever, and quietly moving debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us.

Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles—Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.

Bone china cup and saucer—Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.

Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancée, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects—the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidentally left behind—and writing stories about them. Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.

Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter, Sunshine, and a welcome distraction in Freddy, the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.

Long ago, Eunice found a trinket on the London pavement and kept it through the years. Now, with her own end drawing near, she has lost something precious—a tragic twist of fate that forces her to break a promise she once made.

As the Keeper of Lost Objects, Laura holds the key to Anthony and Eunice’s redemption. But can she unlock the past and make the connections that will lay their spirits to rest?

Full of character, wit, and wisdom, The Keeper of Lost Things is heartwarming tale that will enchant fans of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Garden Spells, Mrs Queen Takes the Train, and The Silver Linings Playbook.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK     Amazon US     Waterstones

 

My Thoughts…

Not only do I love the premise, but in part, I want to pick up The Keeper of Lost Things to enjoy a change of topic and pace of novel. I love reading a number of genres – fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thrillers (you name it… there’s a good chance I read it!). There are a few exceptions though, and as contemporary fiction often overlaps with romance novels, I don’t tend to pick them up.

Based on the reviews there is an element of this in the book. Not the end of the world so long as it doesn’t dominate a narrative. I can’t be doing with several hundred pages of romantic sappiness. I don’t think there is going to be too much of it here though, which will be fine!

 

Have you read The Keeper of Lost Things? Would you recommend it? Let me know in the comments!

 

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***Please note this post contains affiliate links, meaning that I will earn a small commission on purchases made through them. If you like what you read and are interested in purchasing a copy of the book(s) featured in this post, please consider using these links and supporting a book blogger!

Thank you!***

 

Blog Tour Review: Helene – Karl Drinkwater

Today’s blog tour post is a review of Helene by Karl Drinkwater. Helene is a really enjoyable short science-fiction story that relates to Karl’s Lost Solace series. As it happens, I haven’t read these books and I am new to this author. If you haven’t read these books don’t worry, because you don’t really need to! I actually enjoyed reading Helene as an introduction to the Lost Solace universe.

Before I get stuck in with my review in earnest, I would like to take the opportunity to thank both Karl and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour! It’s only day one of the tour, so please lookout for the other posts coming up over the coming days. You can find a list of all those taking part in the tour at the bottom of this post!

Helene – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Helene (Lost Tales of Solace #1)

Dr Helene Vermalle is shaping the conscience of a goddess-level AI.

As a leading civilian expert in Emergent AI Socialisation, she has been invited to assist in a secret military project.

Her role? Helping ViraUHX, the most advanced AI in the universe, to pass through four theoretical development stages. But it’s not easy training a mind that surpasses her in raw intellect. And the developing AI is capable of killing her with a single tantrum.

On top of this, she must prove her loyalty to the oppressive government hovering over her shoulder. They want a weapon. She wants to instil an overriding sense of morality.

Can she teach the AI right and wrong without being categorised as disloyal?

Lost Tales of Solace are short side-stories set in the Lost Solace universe.

 

Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/b/Helene

 

My Thoughts…

Short stories are a great way of changing up your reading habits or trying something new. I read more short stories last year than I ever have before, and reading Helene has reminded me of why I enjoy them so much! At 72 pages, this science-fiction novel is a great way to enjoy a good story in a small space of time. I read Helene in two sittings over this weekend in coffee breaks. Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy something lighter than the several-hundred-page epics I’m known to read.

Helene has a simple, easy to read writing style, so it’s perfect to just pick up and dive into straight away. I think there is a certain stigma to science-fiction and that it’s perceived as complicated. This really wasn’t. Any science terms were explained in layman’s terms so it wasn’t an effort to understand at all. The narrative style has a relaxed flow that I found really easy to read. The chapter lengths also make this easy to pick up and put down at leisure.

What also made Helene great for me was that even in the conciseness of the story, there is plenty of background information for the reader to get to learn a little of the Lost Solace universe. It’s just enough to serve as an introduction without getting too heavy or detracting from the action of the short story in itself. It was a perfect balance. The ending of the book links in with the Lost Solace series, which I didn’t understand entirely until I read the synopsis of that book and a couple of reviews afterwards. It doesn’t detract from the book at all though – if anything, it makes you want to read on and find out how the story evolves.

Artificial Intelligence is a huge topic within the science-fiction genre. That said, the premise of teaching and socialising ViraUHX was one that I haven’t come across before and is quite unique. It also allows plenty of opportunity for humour and there are a good number of laugh-out-loud moments in this short book.

 

Author Bio

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/karlzdrinkwater/

https://twitter.com/karldrinkwater

https://www.instagram.com/authorkdrinkwater/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5766025.Karl_Drinkwater

 

Sunday Summary – 8th March 2020

Drafting my Sunday Summary post can only mean it’s Sunday evening again friends! Where does the weekend go? It seems only five minutes ago that I was here typing up last week’s post. I hope you had a good week (and weekend) since then.

The week began with me putting together my reading list for March. I have one carryover from February since I only just started it at the end of last month. Given this week’s progress already though, I’m optimistic for a good month. I had to defer one book I wanted to read this month to make up for being behind, but I might just get around to it if I can keep it up!

On Wednesday I took part in a blog tour for Lady Edith’s Lonely Heart by Audrey Harrison, a romantic historical fiction novel. Although slightly different from my typical read, I really enjoyed promoting the book as part of the tour. I am sure I have readers that this would appeal to.

My First Lines Friday post was really fun to write. It’s not very often that I feature books that I read in my teenage or pre-blog years. It was something I was thinking about when writing last week’s Sunday Summary. So, I decided I would make a conscious effort to feature one such book in this post. The one I have featured is one of my favourites by far and I am still awaiting the next book in the series. Maybe one day it’ll be published!

I also shared another blog tour post yesterday for Songbird by Karen Heehan. This particular tour post was a review and I hope I did my feelings for the book justice. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but in fact, was so much better for it! I really enjoyed it! Songbird strikes the perfect balance of historical fiction and character-led narrative.

 

Books Read

I briefly started this week where I left off with Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I did manage a little night-time reading before bed on Sunday as planned.

Come Monday evening though, I decided I needed to put it aside and start reading Songbird ahead of the blog tour. That’s how I spent most of the week as well. I finished Songbird on Friday night and started drafting my post right away. It was good in a way, as it was all fresh in my mind!

I’ve had quite a busy weekend as I was doing the usual housework Saturday afternoon and I was out last night. That said, I still managed to read around 60% of a short story, Helene yesterday and I finished it this morning. I have a very imminent blog tour for that as well, so this had also been read in good time! I say this every time I read one, but I forget how great short stories are! They’re great for little breaks between other reads or to enjoy another genre for a change. I really like science-fiction too, so I got into this straight away!

I’ve continued listening to Crooked Kingdom this week. I only tend to get through about two and a half hours of audiobook a week. Occasionally I can listen to more, depending on what else I am doing. I still have a few hours of this left to go, but since I’m getting closer to the conclusion I might pick up the pace.

 

Books Discovered

Technically there shouldn’t be anything to report here this week! However, I’ve just realised I forgot to mention an addition to my TBR a couple of weeks ago.

Having read a great review for The Black Coats by Colleen Oates, I decided to add it to my list to read.

 

Coming Up…

Next week’s line-up gets started early, as I am taking part in a blog tour tomorrow. I’m going to be reviewing my read of Helene by Karl Drinkwater, so if you like short stories, science fiction novels (or both!) I think you’ll enjoy my thoughts on this book!

I want to use this week to catch up with a few personal things, so my next blog post won’t be going live until Friday. It’s the turn of my Shelf Control feature post. This week’s featured novel is a contemporary fiction novel, not something I would say I read regularly. All I’ll say is that I think I’ll really enjoy this book as it has a very sentimental nature to it, and I’m very much like that personally. I hope that’s a sufficient tease to get you to check out that post!

My usual Sunday Summary post is being delayed a day in light of the fact that I have a second blog tour post this week. On Sunday I will be reviewing Tooth & Blade by Julian Barr. As of yet, I haven’t started reading this book, but that’s tonight’s plan if I get my second post of the night drafted up in good time!

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s Sunday Summary post! Have you read any of the books featured?

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: Songbird – Karen Heehan

In today’s blog tour review post I’ll be talking about Songbird by Karen Heehan. I’m in a great position to write this review as I have just finished the book. Songbird is a historical fiction novel set in one of my favourite historical time periods. I have a good number of books on the Tudor period of history on my TBR, which is testament to my love of the subject!

Before I jump into my review, I’d firstly like to thank the author and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. As always, the views expressed within are my own.

 

Songbird: A Novel of the Tudor Court – Karen Heehan

Goodreads- Songbird

Bess has the voice of an angel, or so Henry VIII declares when he buys her from her father as a member of the music, the Royal company of minstrels, best grows up with in the decadent Tudor Court navigating the ever-changing tide of royals and courtiers. Friends come and go as cracked voices, politics, heartbreak, and death loom over even the lowliest of musicians. Tom, her first and dearest friend is her only constant but as Bess becomes too comfortable at court, she may find that constancy has its limits.

Purchase Link:  https://books2read.com/tudorsongbird

 

My Thoughts…

Combine one of my favourite historical fiction time periods with a character born to sing and perform – a hobby of mine as a teenager – and Songbird is an ideal read for me! In truth, Songbird is far much more than that. I expected a novel a lot more light-hearted than this proved to be, but it is so much better for its unexpected depth.

From a historical perspective, the tale of Katherine’s downfall, Anne Boleyn’s ascension and the political/religious rumblings of the move by Henry VIII is an interesting one. Having the tale narrated by a well-placed servant, party to all the gossip but without allegiance in all the machinations made a refreshing change of perspective. The life of a minstrel in the King’s Court is dictated by his will entirely. Yet, Bess’ personal life and the historical element of the novel are both distinct and complementary to one another. Neither overshadows the other, making for a perfect balance of historically-driven plot and character development.

Elizabeth, or Bess, lives a comfortable life at Court, performing for King Henry VIII. It’s an honour well earned by our songbird, but that honour is tainted by the knowledge that Bess was sold to the King by her family. As a child, Bess is resented by her mother and sister for frittering away her days fostering her talent instead of helping with ‘honest’ work. She is also wrongly blamed for a family tragedy, marring one of the few relationships she has in her young life. Only her father has good motivations in securing her a place in King Henry’s court.

I should have known that such an emotional beginning would be setting a precedent for the rest of the novel. Songbird’s narrative is powerfully emotive. Friendship, love, longing and loss all touch Bess from an early age. The narrative is written entirely from her perspective and her character development plays a strong part in the book. As a reader we experience Bess grow up from an immature young girl into a young woman tempered by her experiences. The stark differences in her character at the start and end of the book are remarkably written.

I confess to shedding a tear or two at times whilst reading this. It might seem bizarre that my next statement is a compliment, but at times the narrative was hard to read. The depth of emotion woven into the narrative is so stark and real. I was so invested in Bess, Tom and the other members of the Music and Henry VIII’s court that their loves and losses were mine. The feelings evoked are incredibly relatable to the reader. Songbird has a profound rawness of emotion throughout the novel that will stick with me for a long time.

 

Author Bio

Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia. She fell in love with books and stories before she learned to read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams – which include gardening, sewing, traveling and, of course, lots of writing.

She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with two cats and a very patient husband.

Social Media Links – 

www.karenheenan.com

www.facebook.com/karenheenanwriter

www.twitter.com/karen_heenan

www.instagram.com/karen.heenan

 

First Lines Friday – 06/03/2020

Welcome back to another First Lines Friday post! It’s the end of another week and we can all look forward to a fabulous weekend!

Before that though, it’s time to share the opening lines of another brilliant read. This is a book I read a long time ago. I took the notion when drafting last week’s Sunday Summary post to feature a book that I read before I started my blog. I’ve wracked my brains and I think I’ve come up with a great feature for you today.

Can you guess the book from the introduction?

 

It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.

The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking. If there had been a wind it would have sighed through the trees, set the inn’s sign creaking on its hooks, and brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumn leaves. If there had been a crowd, even a handful of men inside the inn, they would have filled the silence with conversation and laughter, the clatter and clamour one expects from a drinking house during the dark hours of the night. If there had been music… but no, of course there was no music. In fact there were none of these things, and so the silence remained.

Inside the Waystone a pair of men huddled at one corner of the bar. They drank with quiet determination, avoiding serious discussions of troubling news. In doing this they added a small, sullen silence to the larger, hollow one. It made an alloy of sorts, a counterpoint.

The third silence was not an easy thing to notice.

 

 

Shall we find out what it is?

 

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

Goodreads – The Name of the Wind

Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.

The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.

A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

 

Purchase Links –  Amazon UK     Amazon US     Waterstones

 

I loved reading The Name of the Wind as a teenager and I can’t wait for book three, Doors of Stone, to be published. I’ll have to re-read these when it does though – it’s been a long time since I read these.

Did you enjoy today’s First Lines Friday post and extract of The Name of the Wind? Is it on your list to read as well? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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