Spotlight Feature Post: Justice Gone – Nicholas Lombardi Jr

Today’s blog post is a spotlight feature for a fantastic legal thriller novel that is very relevant to a lot of discussions ongoing at the moment. I actually read and reviewed this particular book back in April 2019 as part of a blog tour shortly after its publication. Since then, the book has gone on to win many awards, with its fifth and latest just recently.

To celebrate the occasion, I spoke to the author about his inspiration to write the book, how it relates to current events and what more we can expect from him. Before that though, here are the details for Justice Gone: –

 

Justice Gone – Nicholas Lombardi Jr

Goodreads – Justice Gone

WINNER OF FIVE AWARDS

  • 2020 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD
  • NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD 2019
  • 2019 AMERICAN FICTION AWARD
  • NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCY AWARD – Best Legal Thriller of 2019
  • SILVER MEDAL WINNER 2019 READERS’ FAVORITES AWARDS

Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

 

The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.

Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den

 

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.

The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.

Crime Review 

 

An act of police brutality hurls a small town into a turmoil of rage and fear, igniting a relentless witch hunt and ending in the trial of the decade.

“When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?”

 

Purchase Links: –   

Amazon UK   Amazon US   Amazon India   Barnes & Noble   Book Depository   Waterstones   Kobo

 

 

Author Interview

What led you to writing this novel?

I can’t recall exactly how I came across this story: a homeless man beaten to death by police in a small town in California, but I do remember a series of YouTube videos that documented this event. There was a video recording taken from a closed circuit TV camera at the adjacent bus stop showing the beating, a silent witness to a brutal act.  What was more appalling to me than the impending assault, was the exchange of two of the police officers with the soon-to-be victim, a harrowing display of sadistic provocation. The fact that the officers were indicted and brought to trial at all was a precedent – up to that time no police officer had ever been prosecuted for excessive force in the history of Orange County, a tradition that likely imparted a sentiment of immunity on the part of the accused officers when they were partaking in their vicious act.

In addition, videos of street protests decrying such police violence illustrated the collective shock of a small town. The town was Fullerton, California; the man was Kelly Thomas. The year was 2011

This case was the seed from which my novel, Justice Gone, sprouted.

 

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How do you think it could contribute to the currently ongoing discussion?

The incident of excessive force in Justice Gone is not an isolated action, but occurs within the context of local politics and a flawed legal system, where outcomes are determined by the attitudes of people. I feel that a discussion of the violation of civil rights by law enforcement should include these elements, as they may be responsible for any sense of impunity the involved officers may have.

 

Are there any personal experiences that might have (inadvertently) made their way into the book?

Fortunately, I’ve never had an encounter with a police officer, nor was I ever trapped in the unfeeling machine of the legal system, but then again, I’ve lived most of my life outside of the United States.

 

In the current call for books by own voices, how do you feel as a white person narrating the viewpoint of an African-American person?

Well, I’ve never attempted to do that. I don’t think it would work. Justice Gone is written in a show, not tell, style of narrative. Essentially, these are the characters, this is what they do, this is what they say, and this is what happens in the story.

 

The book was published in February 2019. You must have worked on it for a while before then. Anytime during that process, did you expect the turmoil to reach the pitch it has now?

I expected the rage against abusive police actions to be sustained, and suspected that it might grow with time, but I wasn’t certain, because sometimes people forget until the next time it happens.

 

Stepping back from the book itself, what is your writing process?

Basically to relax and let my mind wander over the story – that’s the way my ideas come, usually with a glass of wine.

 

Is there anything else you want to convey to your readers?

To the few readers I have, I would like to say that we haven’t seen the last of Nat Bodine, the blind lawyer, nor the last of legal fiction that encompasses social issues. The matter of the death penalty, instances of racial discrimination, legal representation for the mentally disabled, and the sentencing of juveniles to life without parole are among a host of topics that can be explored through fiction. Although tragic, I intend to write about such inequities while infusing a note of hope in the stories.

 

About the Author

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 

Visit his Goodreads and Facebook pages!

Book Review: Days of Blood & Starlight – Laini Taylor

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s book review of Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor! After reading and enjoying her Strange the Dreamer duology, I decided I wanted to try her Daughter of Smoke & Bone series. I read the first book on holiday last October (isn’t that a far and distant memory now…) and binge-read the rest of the series shortly after!

I wouldn’t describe myself as a YA reader or fan particularly, but I will make all the exceptions for Laini Taylor. Her writing is brilliant, the stories easy to read and the characters have, in my opinion, a lot more depth than most. I find some YA to be a little trope-y and a bit shallow at times, but not with this series (or Strange) at all.

If you haven’t read my review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone yet, you can find that post here.

 

Days of Blood & Starlight – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Days of Blood & Starlight

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

 

My Thoughts…

I wasn’t sure how Laini Taylor was going to follow up such an epic start to the series, but I should never have doubted her! In fact, Days of Blood and Starlight has one of my favourite introductions. I featured it in a First Lines Friday post back in February this year; if you haven’t read it yet and want a chuckle I think you’ll like it.

The idea of my championing a book/series with such a prevalent plotline around a character relationship may seem strange to you. It’s not the sort of thing I normally go for at all. I talked about this in my review of the first book of the series as well, and everything I said there still applies. The relationship isn’t awkward or uncomfortable to read. It has a maturity to it and consequently, there isn’t any of the sappy stuff that I can’t read without wanting to gag. The dynamic between Karou and Akiva is a longing for companionship. In a world where they are on different sides of a bitter war, they struggle against their respective people for acceptance.

Events in Days of Blood and Starlight draw the reader into a completely new plotline. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, whilst brilliant, is really only the introduction to this explosive series. Karou has only just discovered her place in her world of monsters and in one fell swoop, her life is changed forever. And it’s Akiva’s fault. Shunned and friendless, she has plenty to grieve but steps up to do her part in the war between hers and Akiva’s kind.

The truth about Karou and the world she was being protected from is a harsh reality compared to her relatively normal human life back in Prague. Luckily for us readers (and especially me as a huge fan of world-building), Days of Blood and Starlight explores a whole new alternate world and the history of Chimaera and the Angels. The narrative becomes grittier, takes sinister turns and deadly secrets must be kept in order to fight to survive. Karou herself, whilst trying to earn the trust of her peers, must do her part in a dangerous deception. What has she got to lose?

Hope, love, and her dream for a better life. Everything.

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 9th August 2020

Hey everyone and welcome back to another weekly update post! We’ve had a glorious weekend here and I’ve made the most of it – I’ve even caught the sun a little! Oops!

At the beginning of the week, I shared my reading list for August. It looks a little more ambitious than I have been recently, but it isn’t really. It just so happens that I have a couple of short books to read for blog tours, and the next few books going towards my Beat the Backlist challenge are also shorter. It works out quite nicely as I am looking to get back on track towards my reading goal if I can. If you haven’t checked out that post yet please do – have you read any of the books on my list?

In my First Lines Friday post I set myself the tricky challenge of featuring a non-fiction novel. As a general rule I don’t read many, so I had a limited pool of books to find an interesting opening for. I think I did pretty well and I’m pleased with my book choice!

 

Books Read

It’s going to get a cursory mention since I did technically finish it after last week’s post; I read the last 5% of The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell last Sunday night.

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I was around 40% through This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. I said I didn’t think it would take long to finish and I was right. I finished this in a matter of days and I’ve already returned it to the colleague who loaned me their copy! This is probably the best non-fiction book I have read in a long time – I seriously recommend it if you haven’t read it. It’s hilarious, equally sad and really highlights the day to day struggle of being on the frontline in the NHS.

I’ve also read Grubane by Karl Drinkwater in its entirety this week. I finished this whilst sat out in the garden this morning in fact. It’s a sci-fi novel I am reviewing for a blog tour later this month. It’s a really interesting side story in the Lost Solace universe. At around 114 pages it was really easy to read in a couple of sittings!

 

Books Discovered

I have actually added one book to the TBR this week. After reading and returning This is Going to Hurt to my work colleague, he mentioned that he thought the author had also published another Christmas themed book (yes – I just said the “C” word in August). I looked it up and he was right – it’s called Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas.

I know what I might be adding to December’s reading list…

 

Coming Up…

Next week I’m going to attempt to share a book review that I started drafting a couple of weeks ago. I tried on a couple of occasions to put my thoughts down for Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, but I wasn’t happy with it. I love the book and the series so I wanted my review to reflect that… but it didn’t. For whatever reason, I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind at the time. I’m going to start again from scratch and fingers crossed I’m happy with the end result this time!

Later in the week, I am going to be sharing an interview with an author I featured as part of a blog tour. I read and reviewed Justice Gone by Nicholas Lombardi Jr in April 2019 and since then, the book has gone on to win multiple awards – it’s fifth just recently! In my post I’ll be sharing an interview with the author about the book, his inspirations and writing style, just to mention a few topics!

On Friday I’ll be publishing my next Shelf Control post. You might be pleased to know that I am coming to the end of my classics run (finally!) I hope you can join me and we can talk about the next book on my list.

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary update! What have you been reading this week?

 

 

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First Lines Friday 07/08/2020

It’s Friday, so you know what that means – it’s time for another First Lines Friday post! I hope you have all had a good week and are looking forward to the weekend! The weather is looking pretty good for a change, so I might get the chance to sit out in my garden!

In my Sunday Summary post last Sunday I set myself another challenge for this week’s book selection. I also made it pretty difficult for myself, as I chose a genre I don’t pick up very often – non-fiction. It’s fair to say I’ve been inspired to feature it by my recent read of This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay (which is not this week’s featured book, before you start wondering!)

This is a book I have read and featured on my blog previously; can you guess what it is, or who it is by?

 

These days the origin of the universe is explained by proposing a Big Bang, a single event that instantly brought into being all matter from which everything and everyone are made.

The ancient Greeks had a different idea. They said that it all started not with a bang, but with CHAOS.

Was Chaos a God – a divine being – or simply a state of nothingness? Or was Chaos, just as we would use the word today, a kind of terrible mess, like a teenager’s bedroom only worse?

Think of Chaos perhaps as a kind of grand cosmic yawn. As in a yawning chasm or a yawning void.

Whether Chaos brought life and substance out of nothing or whether Chaos yawned life up or dreamed it up, or conjured it up in some other way I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Nor were you. And yet in a way we were, because all the bits that make us were there. It is enough to say that the Greeks thought it was Chaos who, with a massive heave, or a great shrug, or hiccup, vomit or cough, began the long chain of creation that has ended with pelicans and penicillin and toadstools and toads, sea-lions, seals, lions, human beings and daffodils and murder and art and love and confusion and death and madness and biscuits.

 

Any ideas what book am I featuring today?

 

Mythos – Stephen Fry

Goodreads – Mythos

Rediscover the thrills, grandeur, and unabashed fun of the Greek myths—stylishly retold by Stephen Fry. This legendary writer, actor, and comedian breathes new life into beloved tales. From Persephone’s pomegranate seeds to Prometheus’s fire, from devious divine schemes to immortal love affairs, Fry draws out the humor and pathos in each story and reveals its relevance for our own time. Illustrated throughout with classical art inspired by the myths, this gorgeous volume invites you to explore a captivating world, with a brilliant storyteller as your guide.

 

Having read a historical fiction novel by Stephen Fry previously, I picked up Mythos as an entertaining way to learn more about Greek myths. I have read a few novels now in which the Greek Gods feature, and yet until reading this I had very little knowledge of the tales.

As I am sure is the case with many of you, I was familiar with a couple of stories. Pandora’s box, for example, and Prometheus gifting fire to mankind and his subsequent eternal punishment by Zeus. I didn’t really know much else though, and after the basic story of Persephone was included in the plotline for another novel I had read, I decided I wanted to read more.

I enjoyed Stephen Fry’s retellings as the narrative is full of witticism and laugh-out-loud humour. The narrative is written quite conversationally, so you could imagine the book being narrated and it would feel natural to listen to. It made a subject I knew very little about very approachable, and the maps and diagrams at the beginning were great help with working out who was who and the hierarchy of the Gods.

If you haven’t checked out my full review, you can find it here.

 

 

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Reading List – August 2020

I can’t believe another month has flown by and I’m sharing August’s reading list with you already! It only feels like five minutes since I published the last one.

My reading has been a little on the reserved side for the last few months. Given everything else I’ve had going on I think it’s completely understandable why. I’m still keeping busy with the house and work and all, but this month I want to make a push to clawing back towards this year’s reading goal if I can. As of writing this post I am 10 books behind schedule. Even if I can’t get back on target, I’d like to say I made an effort!

With that in mind, I’m going to try and read a few more, slightly shorter books than my usual this month. Two books are for upcoming blog tours and four more are on the list for my Beat the Backlist challenge. I wouldn’t say deliberately choosing something slightly lighter is cheating. If I dedicated a month to reading short stories out of nowhere, that would be a fair call. We’re still talking books that are mostly three-hundred-and-something pages at least, so they aren’t short to say the least. I just don’t fancy getting bogged down in five hundred page epics this month.

So, would you like to see what’s on August’s reading list?

 

This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

Goodreads – This is Going to Hurt

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.

 

This is actually a carryover from July, although it was a book I picked up pretty spontaneously. Long story short, I’ve just gone back to work and one of my colleagues read the book during lockdown. He says himself that he isn’t that much of a reader but he couldn’t put this one down… and I can see why! It’s brilliant! I read around 40% last month and have been reading more since the beginning of August. Realistically I am going to finish this very, very soon, but since I’ll have read most of it in August and I need to document it somewhere, it’s on this month’s reading list.

 

Grubane – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Grubane

Major Grubane is commander of the Aurikaa, the most feared cruiser in the UFS arsenal.

His crew is handpicked and fiercely loyal. Together, they have never failed a mission, and their reputation precedes them.

But this time he’s been sent to a key planet that is caught up in political tensions at the centre of the freedom debate. What he thought was a simple diplomatic mission turns out to be the hardest choice of his career. His orders: eliminate one million inhabitants of the planet, and ensure their compliance.

Grubane has also rediscovered an ancient game called chess, and plays it against the ship AI as a form of mental training. But maybe it could be more than that as he finds himself asking questions. Can orders be reinterpreted? How many moves ahead is it possible for one man to plan? And how many players are involved in this game?

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

 

I discovered this author when I read another short story, Helene, for a blog tour back in March this year. Since reviewing that book I have also received copies of the main Lost Solace series from the author to read in exchange for review. I haven’t gotten round to them yet, but I knew when I saw this second upcoming blog tour I wanted to read more based around the universe before I dive into the main series!

I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this at the end of the month, so I have plenty of time to read Grubane.

 

Mindworm – David Pollard

The placid life of a college librarian is plunged into a desperate fight for survival when he witnesses the death of his only friend. Suddenly he is forced to confront disturbing changes in his nature and appetites and their consequences.Suspected of murder and pursued by an implacable police detective he runs – but is he running from the law or from himself?

 

Mindworm is my second blog tour read; although my post isn’t due to be published until the beginning of next month. I wanted to read it in plenty of time before my post is due to go live! Mindworm is a psychological thriller novel and having read some great ones lately, I’m really in the mood for another good read from this genre!

 

Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel

Goodreads – Sleeping Giants

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – the object’s origins, architects, and purpose unknown.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history’s most perplexing discovery-and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

 

Sleeping Giants was on last month’s TBR, but since I didn’t want to hang onto This is Going to Hurt too long on account of it being a loan, I chose to delay reading this until this month. It’s also the first read of the month that will go towards my completion of the Beat the Backlist challenge. Sleeping Giants has been on my TBR since April 2016… so it’s definitely overdue reading!

 

Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Steelheart

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

 

At 386 pages, Steelheart is the longest book on this month’s TBR. It’s quite common for me to pick up books that are around or even well over 500 pages, so it’s short(ish) by my standards. I am a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson, as you may have guessed by the number of books of his I’ve read in the last year! Steelheart has been on my TBR for a long time as well – since January 2016! My Beat the Backlist challenge is the one I am most behind in and the TBR is growing slightly faster than it’s shrinking… I want to work on that and so a focus on some of the older books on my TBR kills two birds with one stone. Plus, if they’re that old I really do need to pull my finger out!

 

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Goodreads – Lord of the Flies

At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate; this far from civilization the boys can do anything they want. Anything. They attempt to forge their own society, failing, however, in the face of terror, sin and evil. And as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far from reality as the hope of being rescued. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies is perhaps our most memorable novel about “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.”

 

My recent Shelf Control posts have made me very aware that I have a cluster of classics that I need to read as part of my Beat the Backlist challenge. I don’t want to find myself trying to read them all one after another. With that in mind, I decided to include one in August’s reading list. Lord of the Flies is probably one of the ones I am looking forward to reading the most – I can’t wait to let you know what I think of it.

 

The Feedback Loop – Harmon Cooper

Goodreads – The Feedback Loop

Stuck in a virtual dreamworld called The Loop, a man named Quantum Hughes struggles to free himself from a glitch that forces him to live the same day on repeat. His life changes when a mysterious letter arrives one morning from a woman named Frances Euphoria, the first human player he has made contact with in a very long time. Once Frances appears, members of a murder guild known as the Reapers begin surfacing in The Loop, hoping to capture Quantum or worse — kill him. To further complicate matters, The Loop itself is doing everything it can to stop Quantum from finding the hidden logout point by turning everything in the virtual dreamworld against him.

With time running out, will Quantum break free from his digital coma before he’s captured or killed by the Reapers? Who is Frances Euphoria, and what does she actually know about how long Quantum has been trapped?

The Feedback Loop Series takes place thirty years before the Life is a Beautiful Thing Series. It shares the same world, but is a standalone series that focus on dream-based virtual reality worlds and the people who are trapped in them. The next book in the series will be called Steampunk is Dead, and will be released in the fall.

 

Last but certainly not least, I thought I could try and squeeze one more book onto the list to round off the month. I hadn’t actually realised that The Feedback Loop was that short! I didn’t expect it to weigh in just under 200 pages, but there we go! I’ve liked the sound of this sci-fi novel even though I haven’t read any of the books it relates to. I think it’s the perfect opportunity to give it a go and then if I enjoy it, I can consider the rest of them!

So, guys, that’s my reading list for August! It looks long compared to my previous lists, but in terms of page count I don’t think it is any longer than my previous ones.

What are you reading?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 2nd August 2020

Happy Sunday everyone and welcome back to today’s Sunday Summary post! I hope you are all keeping well in these strange times? It’s fair to say I had a pretty good week overall; I managed a decent amount of reading as well as crocheting another blanket I’m working on. After several days of trying, I even got out into my back garden (finally)! I put out some garden furniture a couple of weeks ago now and in typical Manx fashion, the weather hasn’t been great since!  It was lovely and warm today though, so managed to get out for a read this morning.

This week’s posting schedule ended up being lighter than I intended. My Shelf Control post went live on Friday as planned, but my scheduled review of Days of Blood & Starlight didn’t. I sat down a couple of nights and put some time into getting my thoughts down, but I struggled with it if I’m honest. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to do it and in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth writing garbage for the sake of content. The book is fantastic and I want my review to do the book justice, so after a couple of attempts I figured shelving it and coming back to it later was for the best.

 

Books Read

I made a lot better reading progress this week. In last week’s Sunday Summary post I shared that I had only read around 30% of The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell during the week. That’s not my worst effort by any means, but still, it hasn’t been difficult for me to step up either. As of writing this post, I am 95% through and since the last 5% is only going to take me 20-25 minutes to finish, that’ll be done by tonight!

In addition, I also started reading This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. You may recall I mentioned this in last week’s Sunday Summary post as a work colleague has loaned it to me. Guys, honestly it’s hilarious! I don’t read many non-fiction books but this is proving to be a favourite so far! I’m around 40% through the book at the moment and I’m going to finish it after The Burning Land. I expect I’ll be finishing it quite quickly!

 

Books Discovered

For the first time in a few weeks, I have nothing to add here. It’s a good job really… my TBR pile is getting bigger instead of smaller!

 

Coming Up…

My first post of the week has to be my Reading List for August. Does anyone else think it’s scary that it is August already? I’ll be sharing my list either tomorrow or Tuesday, so please keep an eye out for that.

Later in the week, I’ll be sharing another First Lines Friday post. The last couple of times I have done this I have set a theme for my book selection. It makes it a bit more of an exciting challenge to find a book that meets the criteria. So, I’ll be setting a theme again for next week’s post. For this post, I have decided on a theme of non-fiction books. I don’t read much non-fiction so this really is a challenge – but one I’m looking forward to!

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary update. What have you been reading?

 

 

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Shelf Control #23 – 31/07/2020

Happy Friday and welcome to another Shelf Control post! We’re continuing with the theme of classics in today’s post. I went through a phase of adding classic novels to the TBR and so I’ve featured a lot lately. Today is no exception; however, we are coming to the end of them at last!

In case you haven’t read one of these posts before, 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.

Shall we check out today’s featured book?

 

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

Goodreads – Catch-22

Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved. Since its publication in 1961, no novel has matched Catch-22’s intensity and brilliance in depicting the brutal insanity of war.

 

My Thoughts…

I wonder how many people use the expression “catch-22” in day-to-day conversation without having read this book? For the moment I count among that number! You know a book is iconic when it makes such an impact on a society that it finds its way into a language.

I added this book to the TBR in 2018 at the same time as many other classics I want to read. As a historical fiction fan, I’m definitely looking forward to picking this up. If I had kept up with my Beat the Backlist Challenge, I could have been reading this later this year. Realistically that’s looking unlikely now. However, I will be chipping away at my backlist for the foreseeable. It shouldn’t be too long before I get around to this book.

Have you read Catch-22? What did you think of it if you have? If not, is it of any interest to you? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 26th July 2020

Good evening and welcome back to another Sunday Summary update from me! Have you had a good week? I’ve actually quite enjoyed mine, although you might laugh at me when you know the reason why. After months of disruption, I finally went back to work this week. I never thought I’d be saying that I looked forward to going back to work, but I was! It has been nice to get a sense of normality back.

As well as going back into work this week, I’ve been busy doing bits around the house and visiting my aunt as it was her birthday. I had originally planned for my audiobook review of Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman to be published earlier in the week, but this was eventually posted on Thursday. On Friday I shared another First Lines Friday post. This week I had fun selecting a book to feature from my physical bookshelves!

 

Books Read

Between going back to work, my social life, blogging and then several hours doing jobs around the house, I’ve been a busy bee this week! As such, I haven’t really gotten much reading done. I have made progress with The Burning Land, so I am now 36% of the way through the book compared to around 7%. I didn’t quote the percentage in my Sunday Summary dated 5th July, but I’m fairly sure that is where I got to. It’s not my best effort, but it could be worse too. I’ll be taking this up to bed with a cup of tea tonight, so I’m hoping to get to around 50% before I turn in.

 

Books Discovered

My work colleagues know that I am a little book mad and one of my teammates was telling me about a book he read during lockdown. He said that he isn’t much of a reader, but he read This Is Going to Hurt – Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay in one sitting. It was that good. He said it’s the kind of book that has you in hysterics one minute and nearly in tears the next. I was already sold on giving it a try. The next day, he had left his copy of the book on my desk to let me borrow which is really, really nice of him. You guys can guess what I’ll be reading soon…

 

Coming Up…

Since I have an abundance of reviews to write, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on another book in the next few days. Next on my list to review is the second book of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I really loved this book so you can expect a glowing review!

Later in the week, I’ll be sharing another Shelf Control post. As I think is apparent from my recent Shelf Control posts I went through a phase of adding classic, iconic novels to my TBR. Next week’s feature is no exception, and it’s probably a book that a number of you have already read! I’m a wee bit behind…

Although I have less ‘other business’ next week, I’m keeping the blogging schedule a little light. I’m going to try and catch up on my reading, but these posts should keep you entertained until next week’s Sunday Summary update.

Have a good one!

 

 

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First Lines Friday – 24/07/2020

Happy Friday everyone and welcome back to another First Lines Friday post! I hope you have all had a good week and are looking forward to the weekend! I certainly am!

Before we start wishing our lives away though, it’s time to share the opening lines of another fantastic book. In my Sunday Summary post last week I set the criteria that this week’s featured book would be one I physically own. I’ve had a quick peruse and found an intro with a particular line I love. It was the selling point for making this today’s chosen book.

Can you guess what it is, or who it is by?

 

It was her third time with live ammunition… and her first time on the draw from the holster Roland had rigged for her.

They had plenty of live rounds; Roland had brought back better than three hundred from the world where Eddie and Susannah Dean had lived their lives up until the time of their drawing. But having ammunition in plenty did not mean it could be wasted; quite the contrary, in fact. The gods frowned upon wastrels. Roland had been raised, first by his father and then by Cort, his greatest teacher, to believe this, and so he still believed. Those gods might not punish at once, but sooner or later the penance would have to be paid… and the longer the wait, the greater the weight.

 

 

 

So, what book am I featuring in today’s First Lines Friday post?

 

The Waste Lands – Stephen King

Goodreads – The Waste Lands

In the third novel in King’s epic fantasy masterpiece, Roland, the Last Gunslinger, is moving ever closer to the Dark Tower, which haunts his dreams and nightmares. Pursued by the Ageless Stranger, he and his friends follow the perilous path to Lud, an urban wasteland. And crossing a desert of damnation in this macabre new world, revelations begin to unfold about who – and what – is driving him forward.

 

I absolutely love the last line of that extract. Don’t you?

I’ve read the first couple of books in the Dark Tower series already. This is the next one I am due to pick up. I bought the rest of the series a good few months ago (pre-pandemic) with book vouchers I had. Since I started the series in paperback (as I love Stephen King and I tend to buy physical books of favourite authors) I like to be consistent. I read in all methods, but if I start a series in one way then I have to finish it all in the same medium.

Stephen King’s writing is some of the best and fantasy is my favourite genre of all-time. I really couldn’t ask for more with this series! I am seriously going to have to pick this up soon; it has been over a year since I read the previous book The Drawing of the Three. I wouldn’t have guessed it was that long ago!

Have you read The Waste Lands or any other books in the Dark Tower series? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s audiobook review of Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. When I looked back to the date I listened to this audiobook I was amazed that it was seven months ago! I finished Thunderhead in December last year, which really goes to show that I need to get a wriggle on and catch up with my reviews!

If you are new to the series or want to check out my thoughts of the first book (audiobook), you can find my review of Scythe using this link. I remember writing this review at the same time as listening to Thunderhead as it served as a nice reminder of events before that made writing my review easier. As yet I haven’t started listening to The Toll, but I suspect I will be soon since it has been a while!

 

Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman

Goodreads – Thunderhead

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

 

My Thoughts…

You would expect that the lives of Citra and Rowan couldn’t be turned more on their head since being apprenticed to the Scythedom. Yet, that was just the beginning of a revolutionary shake-up not seen before in the world. Citra, a newly ordained Scythe, has the help of Scythe Curie to navigate the turbulent waters of unrest from the inside. Rowan, however, has gone rogue and taken matters into his own hands. Both have the same goal; to revolutionise the Scythedom be weeding out corruption and those that would abuse the power granted by their higher calling.

As a huge fan of dystopian fiction I enjoyed delving back into this series. The setting of the novel is interesting and the complex relationship between the Scythedom and the Thunderhead has a significant role. The Thunderhead, as an intelligent sentient supercomputer (for want of a description) observes the growing conflict between Scythes and can calculate the likely odds of the future. Strictly speaking, the Thunderhead is not permitted to talk to or assist Scythes in their duty. And yet, when Citra is deadish the Thunderhead exploits a loophole to communicate with her. For the Thunderhead to feel like it has to break its own rules, it doesn’t bode well…

I absolutely hate discussions about politics in real life, but I really enjoy the complexities of it in novels. Political divides are abundant in this second instalment of the series. The lines have been drawn for a large conflict. Although a dystopian novel, the ultimate subject matter rooted in this conflict is death. It’s something easy for us to understand has real meaning outside of the world created in the novels.

The ‘old guard’ Scythes believe that their duty is sacred. Their business must be conducted with the utmost respect and dignity to those chosen to die (for natural death has been conquered). Even those chosen are carefully selected based on historic death rates by age, ethnicity, manner of death etc. ‘New order’ Sycthes want to push the boundaries – be permitted to conduct their business en-masse, using a variety of weapons that aren’t designed to keep the business clean/painless etc. It’s brutality, and as a reader I found myself taking the side of the ‘old guard’ very quickly.

The characters are as large as life as in The Scythe, and with a few surprises and new faces the narrative of Thunderhead is still fresh. Some of my favourite parts of the book are the musings of the Thunderhead. As an all-seeing-all-knowing being, it’s a great way of getting a neutral perspective on events whilst also exploring the idea of a society run by what is basically a ridiculously smart (and scarily human-like) computer.

I can’t wait to see how events pan out in The Toll. The ending of Thunderhead is so unexpected and dramatic! It’s quite a cliffhanger, it has to be said. The events of Thunderhead far exceeded my expectations of what might happen, so all speculation for The Toll is thrown out of the window. I’ll just have to start listening to it to find out!

 

 

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