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

The Liebster Award!

Hi everybody!!
So this is the first nomination I have ever received for my blog, so thank you very much to Larissa over at Book Bosomed Blonde for nominating me. I’ve been following her blog for some time now, and if you haven’t already, it would be lovely if you could go and take a look at her latest posts!
Here are the questions I have been nominated to answer:-
 

Story behind your blog name?

So, I played around with the name a bit recently. I originally set up my blog as Readers Online, and after the sudden realisation it sounded a bit TOO similar to something else (i.e. Writers Online, the website associated with Writing Magazine), I felt the need to change it… FAST! I toyed around with a few names, but opted for ReviewsFeed in the end.
Why? Well, it is a play on words really, based around the medium of blogging and posts being almost like a newsfeed. Book reviews, newsfeed… Reviewsfeed!
It was the most witty and intelligent thing I could come up with, but as to how successful the attempt was … I guess that is up to you!
 

What is one of your favourite blogs? Share the love!

I enjoy reading a lot of blogs… but if I had to pick one to mention, I would have to mention this one because I love how his reviews aren’t about what is current, and aren’t chasing the latest trend. It’s not that this is a bad thing at all, I enjoy reading these too! My point is that there are far more blogs gushing about current bestsellers and a lot of YA books, but Erik’s blog stands out for doing the exact opposite.
For anyone interested, you can find Erik’s blog here: The Past Due Review
 

Would you like to become an author, if so what genre would you write about?

I would probably bite my own arm off for the chance!
Well maybe not quite literally, but I need to do something to make me sit down for five minutes to actually commit some of the ideas I have to paper. I think my greatest problem is thinking on too large a scale and overwhelming myself into giving up.
Lately, I have started writing short stories and entering some competitions hosted by Writing Magazine – starting anywhere is an improvement from all the abandoned projects I have had over the years, and there are many…
 

A book you’re most excited to FINALLY get to this year.

Making a book lover choose just ONE book? What kind of devilry is this?!
Truth is, I have a lot of amazing books to read so this has been a difficult question. If I have to commit to one book, I’ll have to say The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. I know this book will make me sad and no doubt I’ll cry – but if this subject doesn’t move you, then I call you out as inhuman.
 

If you could choose one book being released in 2018 to get for free, what would it be?

I don’t know of many books that are being published in 2018 – but the one book I hope I get to review as part of a Blog Tour is StoneKing Donna Migliaccio, the third book of the Gemeta Stone series.
 

What book world would you most like to be transported to?

In the world that comes to mind, I don’t think I have anything to look forward to… but I would risk death by Whitewalkers or dragon fire, or alternatively more mundane and far likelier, poisoning, stabbing or being trampled on by a horse. Anything could happen, right?
Jack Sparrow Run
 

Only kidding, I don’t run…

 

Favourite female character?

I chose this character from The Rag Nymph by Catherine Cookson, for her hilarious, no-nonsense attitude. She isn’t perfect – far from being a princess sat atop her high castle and waiting for her handsome prince. She is Raggy Aggie – never wanting anything out of life other than to get by and provide for her family. Aggie takes in Millie, a young, well-learned child, after her mother is arrested and disappears.
Aggie is poor and barely has two pennies to rub together, but she always does her best to protect young Millie, from her own innocence and from those who would sell her for her beauty into the oldest profession there is. Aggie is down to earth and frequently administers some tough love, but she always does her best by the girl.
In terms of her character if not her circumstances, she reminds me of my mum, and her mum before her. It must be the Yorkshire influence!
 

Favourite male character?

Without a shadow of a doubt, John Coffey – like the drink, only spelled different. He truly is a victim of timing, circumstance, and racial injustice. His compulsion to help those in need with his gifts lands him awaiting death by electrocution.
You’ve probably guessed that I am talking about The Green Mile by Stephen King, and if you haven’t, I politely enquire as to which rock you have been hiding under!
He is so misunderstood and good at heart, and one his quotes has stuck with me since reading the book:-

“I’m rightly tired of the pain I hear and feel, boss. I’m tired of bein on the road, lonely as a robin in the rain. Not ever havin no buddy to go on with or tell me where we’s comin or goin to or why. I’m tired of people bein ugly to each other. It feels like pieces of glass in my head. I’m tired of all the times I’ve wanted to help and couldn’t. I’m tired of bein in the dark. Mostly it’s the pain. There’s too much. If I could end it, I would. But I can’t.”
~ John Coffey

 

Short term goal for the year?

There is a short story competition, for which entry closes mid next month. I was hoping to enter it, but I’ll admit I am struggling at the moment. I have idea solidly in my mind, but I’m struggling to get it written down and I don’t have long left.
It’s quite a peculiar brief in that the short story (1,500-1,700 words) can be dialogue ONLY. It’s quite difficult, and realistically I wanted it finished weeks ago so I had the chance to revise and edit, but now all I can hope for is to kick myself and get it prepared and submitted before the closing date.
 

Long term goal?

I’ve set myself a lesser reading goal this year of 40 books, as I want to commit more time to my blog this year. I want to improve my content and get better at putting myself out there. I’m even thinking of going self-hosted once my plan runs out, but that is months away yet! I have time to work out what I am doing before then.
 

One weird thing about you.

Again, just one?! Aha! There are many, many, many…
Um, okay, so as a book blogger, I obviously love books, language and all that jazz. Would you then expect me to have a job that I enjoy but revolves heavily around numbers? If not, then the surprise is on you, because I do! It makes for a nice balance actually…
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So – there are my answers! I hope you enjoyed reading them and getting to know a little more about me!
Here are the questions I would like to ask some fellow bloggers:-

  1. Why did you decide to start your blog?
  2. Name your favourite movie adaptation of a book.
  3. How do you pick yourself up out of a reading slump?
  4. Are you an epic multi-tasker – can you listen to music and read at the same time?
  5. Share your most popular blog post so far!
  6. What goal you would like to achieve by the end of the year?
  7. On a scale of 1-10, how creative would you rate yourself, and why?
  8. Share a #shelfie
  9. Are you a meticulous planner, or do you tend to go with the flow?
  10. What are your favourite book genres?
  11. If you were given the opportunity to meet only one of your favourite authors, who would you choose?

 
So… drumroll – it’s nomination time!!!
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I nominate the following people to participate in the tag:-
Erik @ Past Due Review
Hollie @ Hollieblog
Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek
Sarah @ Dragons and Zombies
Ashleigh @ A Frolic through fiction
The Orangutan Librarian
Vivian @ Passionately Perusing
Kate @ Reading Through Infinity
Beth @ Bibliobeth
Amy @ Persuit of Wonderland
 
I hope you can all take part – and I would love to see your answers!
Rebecca mono

Book Review: The Fall – Steve Campitelli

Happy Wednesday everyone!
If you checked out my blog post yesterday, an Interview with Steve Campitelli, then thank you very much! If you haven’t read it yet and would like to know a little bit more about this book, please go and check out this post afterwards!
Today, I get the privilege of sharing my thoughts about the book with you.

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

The Fall

Goodreads – The Fall

Melbourne, 2052, two years since The Fall.
A wave of infection, the Jackson Virus, has swept the world, leaving in its wake a terrifying apocalyptic wasteland populated by wild cleanskin survivor groups and the ravenous, infected night predators – the jacks. In this nightmare landscape, one of the last remaining sanctuaries is Kulin Wallcom, a community enclosed by a 10-metre wall patrolled by what’s left of the military. The wallcoms are the last remaining bastions of defence and security in a world gone over the edge.
But the people of Kulin can’t stay behind their wall forever.
Recovery expert, John Bradley, is part of a major operation into the wasteland looking to not only ensure the survival of Kulin by bringing back critical supplies from the abandoned Southstone Supermall, but, more crucially, to also locate and extract the only person left who may be able to reverse the tide of infection.
However, the mission faces danger at every turn. It seems to be compromised from the inside, Southstone is thought to be an impossible target overrun with infected, and wasteland survivor bands, led by the psychopathic wasteland leader, the Headhunter, are bent on making sure the operation has to fight each step of the way to get back to the wallcom before nightfall.
Because that’s when the jacks come out.
And they will find you.
Welcome to the world of The Fall.

How would you cope, being thrown into a world overrun with infected?
I sure wouldn’t.
Nothing screams desolation better than the hot, dry, and almost uninhabited Wastelands of Melbourne, Australia – at least, it isn’t inhabited by many humans. Only small, ramshackle communities remain, but not by choice. Infected stalk their prey in the night, looking to feast off human flesh and infect the remaining population. Life for the remaining survivors is not an easy one.
Kulin is not wholly self-sustainable, and when they undertake their most ambitious “pick” yet, will the operation run smoothly? There is a lot to play for and much to gain; personal ambition may threaten the entire operation.
The post-apocalyptic vibe of this book reminded me of another book I enjoyed last year, Bad City by Matt Mayr. I’ve also been listening to The Stand by Stephen King, and whilst this is of a different genre entirely, they have one thing in common – the world as we know it being ripped apart by a deadly virus and civilisation scraping together to start again as best they can.
The narrative is well thought out and constructed in a diarised format, giving each POV an almost personal touch. The text is still written in third person (which admittedly is my favourite), but each chapter clearly states who our perspective is from. There are a sizeable number of POV’s but some of these aren’t extensive contributors to the book. For example Helen, whilst being a significant character in the narrative as a medic in Kulin, only has a small number of chapters to her name. Bearing this in mind, I think these entries have been written in the best way to help the reader keep track.
I understand why certain characters viewpoints were favoured, such as Bradley’s and Skylar’s; however, I would have liked to see a little more contribution from Helen. The other infrequent contributors had less of a part to play in the novel and their mere five minutes of fame is therefore understandable, but maybe as the series progresses we will get to see more of the minor characters.
The book is set with the right pace, allowing events to unfold in their own good time – such meticulous planning cannot be rushed. As the “BIG” operation is planned out, he outlines the everyday lives and hazards of the residents of Kulin, in order to make us understand just how huge a risk they are taking. Inevitably, the first few chapters are necessary to acquaint the reader and in this genre, this is all the more important. The rules are different and they need to be outlined. The first couple of chapters weren’t my favourite, (I didn’t fall in love straight away, but I didn’t dislike them either) but they accurately set the tone for the rest of the book. For me, the narrative picked up when the wheels are set in motion for the planning of the expedition.
I am also glad that Steve isn’t precious about any of the characters – after all, they live in a harsh world! It hardly seems realistic if the main characters somehow live in a protective bubble and manage to dodge all the bullets. Events transpire with the appropriate level of impact, and that is a skill to be admired.
The characters vulnerability makes them relatable to us as a reader. Fear is an emotion we all experience at one time or another – and in expressing our fear many of us let our guard down. Out on the Wasteland, adrenaline runs high. One lapse in concentration can mean death or infection, if not for you, then one of your buddies. Tragedy is only around the corner and it affects everyone in different ways. The diversity of characters, their personal background and their varied approaches to the situation they live in are an asset to the narrative and its development, as well as portraying an all-too-realistic response to this fictional pandemic.
The Fall is an enjoyable, read and makes a perfect introduction to what has the potential to be an excellent series. I think you could read The Fall as a standalone story if you wanted to, as the immediate conflicts are resolved, there are leads that will no doubt be carried forward into the future series and I for one would love to see how these get resolved.
Rebecca mono

Author Interview: Steve Campitelli

Hi everyone!!!
As you may know, I recently undertook reading The Fall as a part of my January TBR, and I am excited to be bringing you my thoughts and review of the book tomorrow!
I always like to give authors a chance to talk about their own books, and today is no exception. Steve has very kindly taken the time to answer some questions I had after reading The Fall:-

Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, the setting for the book. I’ve lived most of my life here, apart from a 6-year stint living and working in Japan. I’ve been involved in education for 30-odd years in a few forms, and have also been working with text and editing work for about 15 of those years. I’ve always been a movie and reading junkie – the sort of idiot who likes catching the train to work as it gives me reading time. I am open to most genres but reserve a special place for post-apocalyptic, and I always knew that when it came to writing a book, it was going to be post-apoc!
 

What inspired you to write The Fall?

What inspired me to write The Fall? I grew up in the 70s and that era gave us some classics in post-apocalyptic, sci-fi and disaster movies like Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, The Poseidon Adventure, Rollerball, Logan’s Run, Soylent Green – these movies influenced me hugely. Later on, came George Miller’s Mad Max 1 and the second instalment in that series, Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior, was a pivotal movie for me, a real turning point. I found it visually stunning with a classic storyline, and it was significant as it was also an Australian movie – it showed we could make these types of stories too and, perhaps subconsciously, I took something out of that. I thought then, as I do now, it is almost the perfect movie, and it planted a seed around post-apoc stories that influenced The Fall some 30 years later. That notion of the last people standing, island of calm in a sea of danger that Mad Max 2 portrayed so beautifully, I tried to echo in The Fall with Kulin Wallcom, an oasis of safety in the nightmare wasteland. The Omega Man remake I am Legend was another influence. I’ve always been drawn to the faster and for me more terrifying quick infected beings, such as those found in I am Legend and 28 Days/Weeks Later, as opposed to slow, shuffling zombies. I wanted to write something which combined those elements. I hope I got it right!
 

Do you think it’s possible that some of the technology available becomes a reality?

This is great question and the answer is yes, absolutely, some of the tech in the story will be a reality and in fact, already is. I wanted to write a close-future story that contained elements of the recognisable and known to us, plus future tech, but I didn’t want it to be ‘magical’ and to dominate the story. I wanted it to be grounded in reality, to just be there and almost taken for granted, like we do the tech we have now, so I needed it to be very believable and logical and used in an everyday way. The BACC suit body armour and the ultra-strong materials it’s made of already exist and are being used, not quite as presented in the book. Other things such as coagulant spray, the tech portrayed by the ‘medeval’ (early ID of illness, remote diagnosis), driverless transports, virtual keyboards all exist and are being used now. The highlight tech piece in The Fall is the 360, featuring the virtual wrap-around screen in front of the face, which doesn’t exist as yet, but the technological basis for it does. I had this notion that future communications technology would transition from the hand-held phone to wearable tech positioned around the head and activated in front of the face. I drew on the tactile-virtual objects featured in movies such as Minority Report and Ironman, and essentially fused that with app technology of mobile phones. The technology for ultrasound-based tactile or touchable virtual objects exists now, so it seems a logical step for communications tech to go in that direction – it’s augmented/virtual reality. Another one which exists now is nano technology – the future of that is very exciting and real.
 

In terms of the infected and the mutations, was any research required before you wrote the book? If so, what did you look into?

In terms of the infected and what the virus might do, yes, I did quite a fair bit of research. I was presenting an unreal viral agent (the Jackson Virus) but I wanted to write things supporting it which would hold up and be believable as part of the world I was trying to establish. So I did a fair bit of reading on science, tech and medical websites and government CDC-type sites, on viruses, contagion, pandemics, procedures, nomenclature, physiology, emotional contagion, aggression, addictive drugs, ‘turning’ off infection at the cellular level – the types of things I have written about in the book are grounded in the things I have read and then taken up a few levels with a few liberties, health, tech and reality-wise. It was also important for me to write at least partially from the infected ‘perspective’ – to explain them and to make them more real as opposed to just being targets for the non-infected. I wanted them and the discussion around them to be more nuanced, so it was important to really ground the whole thing in believability.
 

The setting of the book is a post-apocalyptic Australia – why did you choose this setting?

Why did I choose post-apocalyptic Australia? I’ve probably already partially answered this in question 2 with the influence and appeal of Mad Max 2; I just love that dusty, wasteland setting. The Prologue of the book is set in The Mallee, a dry, hot wheat farming area hundreds of kilometres from Melbourne in north-west Victoria, much like the setting for MM2 in many respects. It’s a place I visited a few times as a child as my mother had good friends who had a farm there, and to get there we had to take an overnight train – it just felt like the end of the world; an appropriate place to start the apocalypse! When I first started writing the book, the Prologue was set in China at the base of a shale mountain and I was doing all this reading on it and I suddenly stopped and asked myself why was I setting the story in a place I knew nothing about? I then resolved to stick to what I know, so the Prologue transferred to rural Victoria, and the main part of the book, which was always going to be Australia not China, I set in an area familiar to me, south-east Melbourne. That notion of using familiarity also explains the Japanese angle: my wife is Japanese, I lived there, and the language peppered through the book is a reflection of that. There’s a lot you can do with research, but there’s also a lot to be gained from who you are and your experiences.
 

I get the distinct impression that The Fall is to be a part of a series. Any news on a next book?

Yes, The Fall Conversion is the first in what I intend to be a three part series. I am working on book 2 now, Reversion, which rewinds back to 2050 at ground zero with the virus’ namesake Dr Riley Jackson, before coming back to 2052 in the second half with John Bradley again as the feature. I hope to get it out mid-2018, but realistically, it’s probably going to be later in the second half of the year. The third part, Redemption, will be the resolution of the story. I hope you can be there for the ride.
The Fall
S.T. Campitelli
@stcampitelli
http://thefall-book.weebly.com/ 
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0762XCH57
 

A huge thank you to Steve for his time with the interview! If you’d like to find out more about the book, then please keep an eye out for my review, which is being posted tomorrow! I hope to see you there!