Category: book reviews

Blog Blitz Book Review: Black Matter – G. D. Parker

***Firstly, a huge thank you to the author and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this tour! For the purposes of providing a review, I received a free copy of this book. All opinions stated are my own***

 

Goodreads – Black Matter

Purchase Links

UK – Amazon.co.uk     US – Amazon.com

 

The future is now… it’s terrifying!!! Humanity locks jaws with the ever-increasing human desires towards highly advanced technological innovations making the world a dangerous place. Unanticipated horrific consequences unfold for Tommy McGregor when he partakes in a new high-tech innovation to enhance his health and wellbeing. He thought it would make him healthier, better looking and live forever…DI Valentina is out of her comfort zone when she’s tasked to track down a killer, unknown to her, hidden behind a digital mask. The future has already fallen upon humanity as she soon discovers, nothing is as it seems anymore as society embarks in technology that’s already here. A terrifying mystery, it feeds your imaginative mind’s eye – a fast-paced “whoisit” thrilling crime, novel that will leave you guessing until the end, (or will it?) As it leaves the hairs on your arms stand on end as you uncontrollably turn each page in this 3 part series.

 

My Thoughts…

Technology is all around us. You wake up first thing to an alarm, probably set on one electronic device or another (or several, if you’re a perpetual “snoozer”). Maybe you surf the internet, turn on the TV or listen to music. Those signals are all around us, communicating to our devices 24 hours a day. It has become so commonplace that we don’t even think about it. I just take it for granted.

What if the use of one of these devices started to manipulate you? When a man is arrested and pleads ignorance to a number of crimes he has committed, DI Valentina has her work cut out for her to prove he is guilty. But is he?

Black Matter is a fast paced novel that keeps you gripped from start to finish. The book comprises of relatively short, digestable chapters. They are written predominantly from two perspectives, Tommy McGregor and DI Valentina. We also get brief interludes to their narratives from our perpetrator(s). These craftily written chapters don’t give much insight into their identity either, making you want to keep reading to find out who they are.

I wouldn’t describe Tommy as a likeable character, but that is orchestrated with good reason. It’s hard to stick criminal charges to a character that is the archangel Gabriel personified… and make it work. You can’t help but feel a little sorry for him, however.

DI Valentina is a completely different kettle of fish. Strong-minded and passionate about doing her job right, she’s actually a morally upstanding woman. Despite all the evidence pointing to Tommy, Valentina recognises that something isn’t right and instead seeks to prove him innocent.

Against the clock, DI Valentina races to find the killer before more bodies are found. How are they controlling people? What is their agenda? More importantly, can she stop them?

 

Author Bio –

GD Parker is the author of his debut novel, Black Matter. Book one of a three-part series that explores the depths of the unfolding high-tech world we now live in, making it a dangerous place.

The novel will be available to purchase in e-book and paperback formats on the Amazon store.

Gareth was born in the UK in 1981. A family man spent much of his working life in South Wales working in a professional capacity. One day he made the decision write about an idea he dreamt about.

Still working full time for a large organisation, he enjoys reading all manner of books, and spending time with his world – his family.

Twitter: @GDParker_Author and Instagram: @gd.parker_author

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Book Review: Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag lives a totalitarian life. The government says books are dangerous… and dangerous they are. They provoke thought and opinion, encourage individuality and ideas. They must be burned. Montag is a fireman, charged with the destruction of the prohibited material. But curiosity gets the better of him, and he finds himself on the path to his own destruction…

Goodreads – Fahrenheit 451

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television ‘family’. But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people did not live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.

 

My Thoughts…

Can you really imagine a world without books? As a source of entertainment and knowledge, they are one of the most precious things to me! In Fahrenheit 451 literature is publicly spurned for its contradictory nature; the uncertainty and the confusion it causes is blamed for the unhappiness in the world. (Of course, living a life in which you are stifled of all opinion and individuality has NOTHING to do with it…)

Then, one day, a young girl walks into Guy Montag’s life. She starts to question him, his life and the world they live in. She plants a seed. He was so sure of what he was doing… what role he had in society, now he isn’t. So, he seeks the truth and turns his attention to those materials he is entrusted to destroy for answers.

Being sat on the other side of the fence to this dystopian novel, it is easy to criticise Montag for just accepting what he is told and not thinking for himself. We are used to having an opinion and the freedom to express it. Ask my work colleagues, they’ll tell you I’m one of the most opinionated people on the planet. Consider never having that choice; imagine growing up to be told something just is and you never question it.

 

They walked still further and the girl said, “Is it true that long ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?”

“No. Houses have always been fireproof, take my word for it.”

 

As a book-lover, I can’t help but champion Montag’s awakening. His transition from a brainwashed man who knows what he is told to one who can think for himself is liberating. It’s a change we often see in dystopian novels, but somehow it’s still refreshing every single time. Knowledge is a powerful force against tyranny, and reading of Montag’s rebellion sparks a small fire in all of us.

Would we do the same in his shoes? I hope I never have to find out.

 

 

Top Ten Reads in 2018

Narrowing down a list of Top Ten Reads in 2018 was always going to be hard. How can you pick favourites?! It’s like asking a mother to pick a favourite child!

When I was getting a list together of the books I read in 2018 in order to make my choices, I made two discoveries: –

  • Goodreads hadn’t credited me for 4 books read, so I actually managed to read 50 books in 2018 instead of 46
  • Of those 50 books, I rated nearly half 5* ; only 7 books got a rating of 3* or less

 

 

Boy, don’t I make my life difficult…

It’s been tough and I’ve had to be brutal. I read a lot of amazing books in 2018 (as you would guess based on my VERY high ratings), but I had to narrow it down to 10. So, here are my Top Ten Reads of 2018! Where I have reviewed the book on my blog, links to my review posts can be followed by clicking on the images.

 

Strange the Dreamer & Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Strange the Dreamer

Goodreads – Muse of Nightmares

 

Empire of Silence – Christopher Ruocchio

Empire of Silence

Goodreads – Empire of Silence

 

Children of Blood & Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood & Bone

Goodreads – Children of Blood & Bone

 

A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

To be reviewed

Goodreads – A Game of Thrones

 

Blackwing & Ravencry – Ed McDonald

Goodreads – Blackwing

Goodreads – Ravencry

 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – John Boyne

Goodreads – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

 

The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides

Goodreads – The Silent Patient

 

The Cathedral of Known Things – Edward Cox

To be reviewed

Goodreads- The Cathedral of Known Things

 

Did you read any of these books, and if so, how have you rated them? If you haven’t read them yet, are they on your list for 2019?

As ever, I would love to hear from you!

 

 

Blog Tour Book Review – The Road to Alexander – Jennifer Macaire

*** I kindly received a free copy of The Road to Alexander by Jennifer Macaire for the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. All the opinions stated in my review are honest and my own***

The Road to Alexander has opened up a whole new historical period to love. The narrative is rich in detail and gives a lot of insight into the culture and lifestyle of the time. Not only that, if you don’t know very much about the Greek gods, you’re in for an enjoyable education too!

Goodreads – The Road to Alexander

Amazon Purchase Link – getbook.at/TheRoadToAlexander

What do you do when the past becomes your future?

The year is 2089, and time-travelling journalist Ashley Riveraine gets a once in a lifetime opportunity to interview her childhood hero, Alexander the Great. She expects to come out with an award-winning article, but doesn’t count on Fate intervening.

Alexander mistakes Ashley for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his own time. Being stuck 3000 years in the past with the man of her dreams wouldn’t be so bad if the scientists of the Time Institute hadn’t threatened to erase Ashley from existence if she changes history.

Ashley must now walk a tightrope, caught up in the cataclysmic events of the time, knowing what the future holds for the people she comes to love but powerless to do anything to influence it.

Join Ashley on her hilarious, bumpy journey into the past as she discovers where her place in history truly is…

 

My Thoughts…

Avid followers of my blog will know that historical fiction books are a guilty pleasure of mine. Take me back to Tudor England, either of the Great World Wars or the Viking invasion of Britain and I am a happy lass. Occasionally though, I branch out of the usual time periods and find a real gem.

I really like the recurring element of science-fiction in The Road To Alexander. To date, I haven’t found a crossover like it. Historical fiction that even includes time travel gives it the curtest nod before moving on swiftly and forgetting it ever happened. Ashley is a modern woman and time travel isn’t unusual to her. She trained for the very opportunity of a lifetime, so she knows everything about it. Well after the time travel event itself Ashley experiences medical symptoms/complications that remind us of her situation. She is paranoid about altering history. If she does, she has been told she be erased and will never meet Alexander.

Depending on your work environment, colleagues etc, there are sections of the narrative that feel very NSFW. As a personal preference, I don’t really enjoy reading too much detail when it comes to sex and nudity. There is a lot of sex in the book. To give you an idea of what it’s like, I can only describe it like this:

The first time, Ashley and Alexander are like desperate hormonal teenagers. No detail is spared. It doesn’t take too long for it to get to the kind of sex you could expect five years into a marriage – a brief encounter and promptly forgotten.

When we first meet Ashley, she is a very cold person. Her excitement to meet her childhood hero is limited to the acclaim she expects when she gets back to 2089 to write about Alexander the Great. She has a hard upbringing and is driven by success, but I love that we get to see this ice queen thaw as she adapts to her new way of life. She blossoms from an unpleasant, career-driven young lady (well, I didn’t like her much anyway) into a woman that would do anything to save another person. It’s also quite funny watching someone who doesn’t have a clue how to adapt. After Ashley discovers that she is stuck in the past, there is a great deal of humour as she tries to wriggle out of difficult situations!

As an amateur to the history inspiring the book, I can’t attest to the historical accuracy of it. Only an expert could tell you that. What the expert couldn’t tell you though, is how well this book “sells” the historical period to the person that hasn’t really come across it before. A person like me. Sure, I’ve HEARD of Alexander the Great. Could I have told you before what he had done to earn the name? Not at all. Do I want to finish the series and find out? Hell yes!

 

Giveaway to Win a $10 Amazon gift certificate (Open INTERNATIONALLY)

*Terms and Conditions – Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494179/

 

Author Bio

Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories

Social Media Links –

Facebook     Instagram     @jennifermacaire

https://jennifermacaire.wordpress.com/

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Book Review: The Swan Keeper – Milana Marsenich

***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 ***

Girlhood, courage, nature, and flight from a tyrant’s hand in post-frontier Montana.

Goodreads – The Swan Keeper

The Swan Keeper is an historical, coming of age novel set in Northwest Montana’s Mission Valley in the late 1920s.

Lillian Connelly loves trumpeter swans and vows to protect them from a hunter who is killing them and leaving their carcasses for the wolves and coyotes to ravage.

On her eleventh birthday Lilly’s family visits the Cattail Marsh to see the newly hatched cygnets. The family outing turns tragic when Dean Drake shows up with his shotgun and fires on not only the swans, but on Lilly’s family. Unable to prevent tragedy, Lillian witnesses Drake kill her father, injure her mother, and slaughter the bevy of trumpeter swans.

The sheriff, Charlie West, thinks that Lilly is reacting to the trauma and blaming Drake because of a previous conflict between Drake and her father. Lilly’s mother, sister, and her best friend, Jerome West, the sheriff’s son, all think the same thing: that Lilly is trying to make sense of a senseless accident.

Left alone to bring Dean Drake to justice, Lilly’s effort is subverted when Drake woos her sister, courts her mother, and moves into their home.

 

My Thoughts…

Who cannot love a girl who will risk her life:

1.       for the sake of the truth and;

2.      the lives of innocent trumpeter swans?

She has guts; some would say gall, but Lilly will not be chastened. Too young, she is forced to grow up and face the harshest realities of life, and that no one takes an impulsive eleven-year-old seriously.

As in Copper Sky, the natural beauty of the Montana landscape shines throughout the narrative. Picturesque mountains and vivid descriptions set the scene of Montana in the 1920’s. The changing of the seasons mark the passage of time as Lilly transitions from a child into the headstrong, confident young woman she is meant to be.

Nothing is impossible for this young girl. When everyone refuses to believe that she witnessed her father murdered by the man he feuded with, she sets out for justice against all odds. But Drake is on to her? What lengths will he go to, to ensure that no one believes her?

Having already read Copper Sky, I know the high standard of writing and character development from Milana Marsenich. Once again she has proven her ability to write strong, memorable characters. During a time when a family is tested to its limits, the bond holding them together proves that blood is thicker than water. Two squabbling sisters are able to pull together when it matters most. Hardship and struggle are themes that Milana can write incredibly well. Death, loss and sad kind of acceptance are all feelings we can relate to. Experiencing such a tragedy from the perspective of a child makes those feelings all the more profound.

Lilly’s youthful determination and Drake’s easy arrogance are but two examples of how each of these characters is brought to life. These two are opposing forces of nature and they catalyze one another. The depth and complexity of humanity are explored in each and every character, though. I’m a firm believer that Milana’s experience in mental health therapy lends a greater understanding as to how we, as people, tick, especially under stress.

The Swan Keeper is a beautiful novel. Tragic and heartfelt, yet with its own admirable beauty and appreciation of nature, the novel is not just an entertaining read. It’s a journey.

 

 

Author Bio – Milana Marsenich

Milana Marsenich lives in Northwest Montana near Flathead Lake at the base of the beautiful Mission Mountains. She enjoys quick access to the mountains and has spent many hours hiking the wilderness trails with friends and dogs. For the past 20 years she has worked as a mental health therapist in a variety of settings. As a natural listener and a therapist, she has witnessed amazing generosity and courage in others. She first witnessed this in her hometown of Butte, Montana, a mining town with a rich history and the setting for Copper Sky, her first novel. Copper Sky was chosen as a Spur Award finalist for Best Western Historical Novel.

She has an M.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling from Montana State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. She has previously published in Montana Quarterly, Big Sky Journal, The Polishing Stone, The Moronic Ox, BookGlow, and Feminist Studies.

She has a short story included in The Montana Quarterly book: Montana, Warts and All. She has two published novels, Copper Sky and The Swan Keeper.

Bio Source: https://milanamarsenich.com

Blog Tour Review: Facing a Twisted Judgment – K J McGillick

I am really looking forward to today’s blog tour post for Facing a Twisted Judgment by K. J. McGillick. I was kindly invited to the tour by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. A massive thank you to both of you for enabling me to enjoy this thrilling read!

 

Purchase Links: Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

Goodreads – Facing A Twisted Judgment

 

Synopsis

What happens when tunnel vision clouds a police investigation? Is it true that once you are labeled a person of interest you really are the prime suspect? Can you trust the legal system?  Probably not.

After a bitterly contested legal battle over inherited property, the hard-won art collection and its owner Samantha Bennington disappear. Both have vanished without a trace.

When blood spatter is discovered under the freshly painted wall of the room in which two of the paintings were hung, the theft becomes the opening act in a twisted tale of jealousy, revenge, and murder leading to a final judgment for all involved.

As the list of suspects narrows, the focus lands squarely on the husband. Some labeled Samantha’s husband a corrupt attorney, others an opportunist. Either way, he’s in the crosshairs of law enforcement and they are calling him a murderer. But is he the only viable suspect? What about the missing woman’s drug-addicted sister and her convicted felon brother? Both were furious over their loss at court and have more than enough reason to hate Samantha.

Guilty until proven innocent leaves Alexander Clarke facing a twisted judgment.

 

My Thoughts…

Give me a crime novel with any number of suspects and I’ll sit there and try to deduce my way through it like a very amateurish Poirot. The measure of a good crime novel is whether I THINK I’ve hacked it or not. As I said, I’m not very good at these things. I’m always wrong, but I enjoy the attempt nonetheless.

I was kept guessing throughout this book! I doubted everyone and everything I was told, trusting none of the characters…well, except Dalia. Was it truly the cold and calculating husband? Maybe it was the psycho sister or brother serving time for fraud. The investigation targets the husband very quickly and the evidence starts to mount up against him.

The narrative is clearly constructed from two perspectives; Dalia, employed by the company trying to recover several pieces of artwork valued at 130million dollars, and suspect number one himself. Dalia’s background as an attorney means she cannot help but take a natural interest in the disappearance of Samantha and subsequent investigation. Her narrative is balanced between developing her character and current events. Of all the characters in the book, I found Dalia to be the most authentic and relatable. As a newcomer to the team and the investigation, we unravel the mystery through her eyes.

Alex is far from a likable character, but his portrayal in the narrative is intriguing and wonderfully written. He is an attorney himself, but with a shady past, a long list of ex-wives and a cold/calculating demeanor, he is far from squeaky clean. When this newlywed’s wife goes missing along with some of her most valuable assets, Alex’s primary concern for the insurance claim on the artwork paints a sinister picture.

I loved reading the chapters from Alex’s perspective because I was intrigued by how emotionally detached he is as a person. Psychology is a subject that I been interested in since the age of 17; Alex makes an interesting test case. His almost split personality can turn at the flick of a switch. His need for control and ability to manipulate people is unnerving. When his wife plans to go against his wishes with the assets he helped her win in court, what lengths will he go to in order to get his way?

A concise narrative makes Facing A Twisted Judgment easy to pick up but hard to put down.

 

About the Author

K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right?

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing.

Social Media Links – Facebook   Twitter @KJMcGillickAuth

http://www.kjmcgillick.com/

 

 

Throwback Thursday Review: The Inheritance Cycle – Christopher Paolini

Today’s Throwback Thursday review of the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini is going to be a mixed bag. It’s a series I started and loved in the beginning, but ultimately I have DNF’d it.

 

Goodreads – Eragon

Goodreads – Eldest

Goodreads – Brisingr

Goodreads – Inheritance

Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders?

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands. . . .

 

My Thoughts…

I started reading Eragon whilst I was at school. I have a particular friend whom I aspired to be like at school. She was into the same books as me – in fact, it was unusual to meet her without a book in hand. (She is also the person who introduced me to Terry Pratchett, I might add).

I had seen her reading Eragon before I had picked it up, so naturally, I had to read it too! I loved the fantasy element of the book; at that time, the young-boy-coming-of-age trope was still exciting. And who doesn’t love dragons?!

If you don’t… you have no soul. Just saying.

I really enjoyed reading the first book; it is magical – and the worldbuilding! I found it very immersive.

I would say that Eragon is a book that I read in my bookworm infancy. At that point, I hadn’t really refined my preferences. I was drinking up everything I could. By the time I got around to Eldest, though, I had started to formulate my own ideas of what I liked and what I didn’t. It’s not that I didn’t like Eldest particularly, I did. I have fond memories of ignoring my duties of supervising younger kids during break and being stood next to a radiator with these books instead. Much more fun, yes?

So, what do I think went wrong?

If I am 100% honest, I think I just outgrew these books. I recall finding the second book immature in the plot and writing style. Frustration peaked because I feel the book could have been better. I wanted to like it, but I couldn’t get past the barrier that presented itself.

I haven’t attempted Brisingr or Inheritance because I don’t think I can bring myself to. The plot is well and truly lost to me so I would be back at square one, with far less appreciation for the tropes it relies on. I don’t think I will enjoy it and I don’t think I need a better reason to not read these books. If we cannot take enjoyment out of reading, then what is the point?

 

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Book Review: Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

It took me about a year after purchasing the book to read Strange the Dreamer, the first book of Laini Taylor’s duology. I didn’t make the same mistake when it came to Muse of Nightmares! After devouring Strange the Dreamer (not only reading it alongside an existing TBR that it wasn’t on, but also reading it all in pretty much one weekend solid) I couldn’t wait for Muse of Nightmares. As soon as I could pre-order a copy, I did. The fact that I got my hands on a limited edition copy with sprayed edges is a bonus!

I pre-ordered Muse and an agonising wait for publication date began. I waited. And I waited.

And then FINALLY… publication day arrived! I didn’t receive my email from my local store to tell me it was available for collection until just before 5pm, so as soon as work was done I bombed it there! No word of a lie. I got about as close to running as I ever will do! That, my friends, says it all.

 

Goodreads – Muse of Nightmares

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

 

My Thoughts…

I started reading Muse of Nightmares pretty much as soon as I got it home – that is how excited I was for it! I took my time reading this second book a little more than I did the first. I simultaneously as wanted to devour and savour the experience. 

Strange the Dreamer introduces an already complex, beautiful fantasy world. I pretty much expected Muse of Nightmares to build upon the existing world already established… But to suggest that is the case would be an absolute lie and I would be doing the book no justice. Laini Taylor has developed the tale far beyond the realms of imagination (at least mine anyway, and I would say mine is pretty vivid). The plot far exceeded my expectations and I really enjoyed unravelling the truth of the past and what really happened all those years ago to the city with no known name. 

Where Strange the Dreamer focuses on the attraction of Lazio and Sarai, Muse of Nightmares takes a different tack. Instead, Sarai takes centre stage, and through her kinship to her fellow gods we pull apart the myth and uncover the darkest secrets of their existence. The relationships between characters is phenomenal, as can only be expected from Laini Taylor. I’m not a huge fan of mushy romance in books, but O wasn’t pushed away from these books for it. I like the relationship that blooms between Lazlo and Sarai as it stems from a need to belong; a need for companionship. In addition to the characters we are already acquainted with, we are introduced to two sisters… Kora and Nova. Inseparable since children, they dreamed of awakening godly powers and being taken away from their dreary life. When their fates drive them apart, they will stop at nothing to be reunited. The bonds between the characters are strong, complex and built to last. 

If there is one lesson that this book can give, I would say that it goes to show the influence of corruption. It’s easy to label good and bad, but in fact there are so many shades inbetween that we all find ourselves within the spectrum. Discrimination is easy when you can villainize the other party. Yet, the children are not their parents. They have been born into a world ( one of many) that victimises them for crimes they haven’t committed. For that, you can’t help but route for them in making their own way. 

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Book Review: Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

The first time I read Frankenstein, I absolutely hated it.

Reading the book was part of the school curriculum for my class, and my fourteen-year-old-self did not appreciate it at all.

In hindsight, I attribute that to the particular teacher I had. Teachers, you do a fabulous, grueling and hard-working job. Most of you are very good at what you do and I wouldn’t be the same person if not for your influence. This one though… she has to be the most unpleasant teacher I have ever had.

Anyway, no need for more of that negativity here. It is a regular occurrence though; all the books I read for school, I didn’t like…. almost. I think the only exceptions are Stone Cold by Robert Swindells (there’s a story for THAT teacher too) and Of Mice and Men – eventually. I didn’t take to it straightaway, but came to love it by the time we had finished studying it.

Books should be read and appreciated without being analysed to death, okay? If ANYONE thinks that’s fun, they need their head read.

Source: Giphy

Their heads READ… get it?!

Alright – I won’t give up my day job just yet…

 

Frankenstein

Goodreads – Frankenstein

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.

 

My Thoughts…

I was inspired to pick this book up again after watching an event held during the Manx Litfest. A re-telling of Frankenstein was performed by Ben Haggarty and Sianed Jones – and an excellent performance it was! So much so, I picked up the book as soon as I got home.

Regardless of how much you read into the story – it is an enjoyable one. That everyone knows of Frankenstein’s monster and the basic story speaks volumes about the success of this book. I enjoyed reading it this time around, unlike my first experience with this book. If you haven’t read the book before, then I really must insist you do! If there is a bucket list of books, this ought to be on it!

Some of the ideas brought to the table are philosophically sophisticated, which is astounding considering Mary Shelley was so young when she wrote this book! I can’t say I walked away from the book debating the nature of life and science, but hey, you can if you want to. I guess this is what makes the book a favourite for school curriculum’s… if not students!

I’ll admit attending the re-telling made the book more approachable. Ban Haggarty narrated the story in a way that everyone can understand. The book itself, due to its age and (the style of literature at the time), is grammatically more complex than modern text. I did struggle with this a little at times, particularly once I had been reading for a while. Frequent breaks helped me get over this though, so it isn’t a huge stumbling block.

I definitely appreciate the book now I am older and reading it for my own enjoyment. Studying books is just soul crushing… okay? Why do we force kids to do it?! Whether I enjoyed studying the **** out of this book or not, there is plenty of food for thought.

 

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Another Kind of Magic – Elizabeth Davies

Caitlyn is back once again for another historical adventure; embroiled in a narrative laced with political intrigue, love and devious plotting! A huge thanks to Elizabeth Davies and Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour!

 

Pre-Order Link: Another Kind Of Magic

“I am a cat. But I am no ordinary cat. I am a witch’s familiar. I am also a woman, with a woman’s heart and a woman’s frailty.”

Nearly two hundred years have passed since Caitlyn was trapped by supernatural forces and black magic, and she has known many mistresses. This time, the witch she is enthralled to is Joan, wife of Llewelyn, Prince of Wales.

At first, this mistress appears no different to any of the others Caitlyn has served – until Llewelyn captures William de Braose, and Joan falls in love, risking everything, including Caitlyn, to fulfil her desire.

Caitlyn, meanwhile, has her own cross to bear in the form of the gallant and reckless Hugh of Pembroke…

 

My Thoughts…

Magic has kept Caitlyn alive for nearly 200 years. Enthralled to the whims of another witch, she finds herself in the middle of Welsh court – almost back where she started all those years ago! Caitlyn lacks some of her previous fire for life, which is only understandable. Living for so long at the beck and call of other women willing to risk your life to better their own position must be tiresome. In timed of need, however, she really pulls herself together. She has some brilliant moments; I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at some of her antics.

Caitlyn (being Caitlyn) lands herself in some precarious situations in this last installment of the series. Her skills of discretion and subterfuge escape her and she finds herself being watched far more carefully than she would like.

There are many “minor” characters that shine through in this book. Caitlyn has a strong personality, but I find it is her relationships and interactions with others which make her so. This naturally draws attention to the other characters of the book as well as Caitlyn. They are very distinct individuals as well, so even though they only provide a supporting role, they don’t fall flat on the page.

For a while after reading A Stain on the Soul, I wondered how Elizabeth Davies was going to conclude the series. The magic binding Caitlyn, so far as we know, is absolute and powerful. Will she be freed of her burden? Will she die whilst doing the bidding of her mistress? I had so many questions and a desperate need for answers.

I got them.

Obviously, I wouldn’t be doing the book any justice if I spoil it for you. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. What I will say is that Elizabeth has, in my opinion, ended the series well. Some books can leave you walking away unsatisfied or with unanswered questions. For me, Another Kind of Magic ended as it should have; loose ends are tidied up nicely. It is rare that I can finish a series and be completely satisfied with how everything turns out… but I have.

 

If there is any higher praise I can give, I cannot find the words to express it.

It;’s a fantastic series – and once again a huge thank you to Elizabeth Davies and Rachel’s Random Resources to have had the opportunity to read it!

If you would like the chance to read the series, then there is an opportunity to enter a giveaway in which you could receive signed copies! Please see the details below:-

 

 

Giveaway – Win Tote bag and a signed paperback copy of each of the three books in the Caitlyn series. (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize

Enter here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494152/?

 

Author Bio –

Elizabeth Davies is a paranormal author, whose books have a romantic flavour with more than a hint of suspense. And death. There’s usually death…

Social Media Links –

Website – www.elizabethdaviesauthor.co.uk

Twitter  – @bethsbooks

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethDaviesAuthor/

Instagram – @elizabethdavies.author