Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

Good evening readers and fellow bloggers! I hope you are having a lovely week so far!

In today’s post I am reviewing a book that had been on my TBR for a number of years before I finally picked it up in June – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I read the book within two days, which to my mind speaks volumes about how much I loved it. It has a unique narrative and character perspective, which is the reason I wanted to read it in the first place. For readers unexperienced with Asberger’s Syndrome, it is a real insight into the perception of someone who has it and the difficulties that come along with it.

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

Goodreads – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

 

My Thoughts…

Christopher has such a unique way of looking at life. He doesn’t understand social cues and hates being stuck in a crowd. Despite being a remarkably intelligent young man, who at fifteen is taking his A-Level in Maths, there are elements of his personality that remind you just how endearingly childlike he is.

The neighbour’s dog Wellington is murdered and Christopher’s carefully controlled world spirals into chaos. He resolves that he is going to solve the murder, despite his father’s insistence on keeping his nose out. He finds himself discovering far more than he anticipated and embarks on a journey that pushes his boundaries to the limits.

By the end of the narrative, Christopher has matured in his own way. He still battles with the Asberger’s, but he endures the discomfort and steps outside of his comfort zone in order to uncover the mystery that presents itself in his own life. It’s a difficult experience for him, but he emerges on the other side a wiser boy, better equipped to experience some of the wider world. One step at a time, perhaps, but he has broader horizons.

In terms of the narrative, I think a very fine balance was achieved to complement the personality of Christopher. The overall cohesiveness of the narrative reflects Christopher’s older and more developed side. He is able to write about a subject with clear ideas and without wandering too far astray. His recollection of events and conversations is remarkable too. There are times, particularly with Christopher is under stress, that his literacy regresses a little. The sentences can become simpler and more childlike in their focus.

One quote from the book has stuck with me because it is completely true: –

 

Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.

 

I love Mark Haddon’s portrayal of such a unique character. As a reader, you cannot help but will Christopher on when he is struggling. We take every step of the journey with him and watch him grow into the young man he is due to become. His faultless logic on topics allows us to see things from a completely different and refreshing point of view.

I loved the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time! It is definitely a book I will revisit and read again.

 

 

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down the tbr hole

Down the TBR Hole #25

Hi guys! It’s time for another review of the TBR in today’s Down the TBR Hole post! Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story. The idea is to review the books on your TBR to decide if you still want to read them. The rules are as follows: –

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Today I’ll be checking out the next ten books on the list – are you ready?

 

The Court of Broken Knives – Anna Smith Spark

The Court of Broken Knives

Goodreads – The Court of Broken Knives

They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we piss gold and jewels into the dust.

In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has become the true ruler, and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion – and only one man can see it.

Haunted by dreams of the empire’s demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him – beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.

 

I added this book to the TBR on the 24th June 2018, and I kid you not, nearly a year on to the day (23rd June 2019), I bought my copy through Amazon. Freaky! I think it was on offer at the time, and I had read a review that reminded me of it.

This is a definite keeper, that’s for sure!

Verdict: Keep

 

The Mage Wars – Mercedes Lackey

The Mage Wars

Goodreads – The Mage Wars

Set around three thousand years before the rest of the Valdemar series, this is the ancient history of Velgarth and the story of Skandranon Rashkae, a gryphon with gleaming ebony feathers, keen magesight and acute intelligence. He is the fulfillment of all that the Mage of Silence, the human sorcerer called Urtho, intended to achieve when he created these magical beings to be his champions, the defenders of his realm – a verdant plain long coveted by the evil mage Ma’ar.

Together with Amberdrake, a Healer of body, mind and spirit, Skandranon will defend his nation from his evil counterparts created by Ma’ar, the makaar. The glorious city of White Gryphon will rise from the ashes, but it will take careful negotiation, spying and terrible war against the mysterious Black Kings to secure the stronghold. Even then, the elite guard force, the Silver Gryphons, will discover a greater terror lurking in the forests beyond the city walls…

The Mage Wars omnibus follows Skandranon and his lifelong friend, Amberdrake, and their children, as they seek to establish and defend a Kingdom of peace and tranquillity.

 

These next few books are actually quite easy, as I own them all. They are sat on my bookshelf in the spare room begging to be picked up. I bought them all together, having read a little about them via Goodreads.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Mage Storms – Mercedes Lackey

The Mage Storms

Goodreads – The Mage Storms

Karse and Valdemar have long been enemy kingdoms, until they are forced into an uneasy alliance to defend their lands from the armies of Eastern Empire, which is ruled by a monarch whose magical tactics may be beyond any sorcery known to the Western kingdoms. Forced to combat this dire foe, the Companions of Valdemar may, at last, have to reveal secrets which they have kept hidden for centuries… even from their beloved Heralds.

 

As above. I really want to try these epic fantasy novels.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Mage Winds – Mercedes Lackey

The Mage Winds

Goodreads – The Mage Winds

Long ago, high magic was lost to Valdemar when the last Herald-Mage gave his life to protect his kingdom from destruction by dark sorceries. But now the protective barrier over Valdemar is crumbling, and with the realm imperilled, Princess Elspeth, Herald and heir to the throne, has gone on a desperate quest in search of a mentor who can teach her to wield her fledgling mage-powers and help her to defend her threatened kingdom.

Winds of fate
With the realm at risk, Elspeth, herald and heir to the throne, abandons her home to find a mentor who can awaken her untrained mage abilities.

Winds of change
Princess Elspeth journeys to the Vale of the Tayledras Clan to seek Mage training among the powerful Hawkbrother Adepts, only to find that she and renegade adept Darkwind must confront the malevolent magic of Ancar of Hardorn.

Winds of fury
Herald-Princess Elspeth and her beloved partner, Darkwind the adept, return to Valdemar to confront the evil and powerful Ancar, who once again is threatening her homeland.

 

… Yeah, and again. As above. No point adding unnecessary wordage here.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Dragonbone Chair – Tad Williams

Goodreads – The Dragonbone Chair

A war fueled by the powers of dark sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard—for Prester John, the High King, lies dying. And with his death, the Storm King, the undead ruler of the elf-like Sithi, seizes the chance to regain his lost realm through a pact with the newly ascended king. Knowing the consequences of this bargain, the king’s younger brother joins with a small, scattered group of scholars, the League of the Scroll, to confront the true danger threatening Osten Ard.

Simon, a kitchen boy from the royal castle unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League, will be sent on a quest that offers the only hope of salvation, a deadly riddle concerning long-lost swords of power. Compelled by fate and perilous magics, he must leave the only home he’s ever known and face enemies more terrifying than Osten Ard has ever seen, even as the land itself begins to die.

After the landmark Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, the epic saga of Osten Ard continues with the brand-new novel, The Heart of What Was Lost. Then don’t miss the upcoming trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard, beginning with The Witchwood Crown!

 

There’s definitely a fantasy theme running here so far! I can’t help but think that there are a lot of clichés in this one, based on the synopsis. I don’t mind the odd one, but stories that use the same ones all the time get repetitive. It sounds very similar to something I have read before, so I think I am going to pass on this one.

Verdict: Go

 

Auschwitz – Laurence Rees

Goodreads – Auschwitz

Auschwitz-Birkenau is the site of the largest mass murder in human history. Yet its story is not fully known. In Auschwitz, Laurence Rees reveals new insights from more than 100 original interviews with Auschwitz survivors and Nazi perpetrators who speak on the record for the first time. Their testimonies provide a portrait of the inner workings of the camp in unrivalled detail—from the techniques of mass murder, to the politics and gossip mill that turned between guards and prisoners, to the on-camp brothel in which the lines between those guards and prisoners became surprisingly blurred.

Rees examines the strategic decisions that led the Nazi leadership to prescribe Auschwitz as its primary site for the extinction of Europe’s Jews—their “Final Solution.” He concludes that many of the horrors that were perpetrated in Auschwitz were driven not just by ideological inevitability but as a “practical” response to a war in the East that had begun to go wrong for Germany. A terrible immoral pragmatism characterizes many of the decisions that determined what happened at Auschwitz. Thus the story of the camp becomes a morality tale, too, in which evil is shown to proceed in a series of deft, almost noiseless incremental steps until it produces the overwhelming horror of the industrial scale slaughter that was inflicted in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

 

As awful as it sounds, I have a bit of a morbid fascination with the events and atrocities of World War II and Nazi Germany. I love other books on the same subject, like The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Code Name Verity. Auschwitz, in contrast to the other books just named, is a non-fiction account. I’m trying to get myself to read more non-fiction (and failing right now)… but this is one to pick up at a later date.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt

Goodreads – The Woman Who Would Be King

An engrossing biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt and the story of her audacious rise to power in a man’s world.

Hatshepsut, the daughter of a general who took Egypt’s throne without status as a king’s son and a mother with ties to the previous dynasty, was born into a privileged position of the royal household. Married to her brother, she was expected to bear the sons who would legitimize the reign of her father’s family. Her failure to produce a male heir was ultimately the twist of fate that paved the way for her inconceivable rule as a cross-dressing king.

At just twenty, Hatshepsut ascended to the rank of king in an elaborate coronation ceremony that set the tone for her spectacular twenty-two year reign as co-regent with Thutmose III, the infant king whose mother Hatshepsut out-maneuvered for a seat on the throne. Hatshepsut was a master strategist, cloaking her political power plays with the veil of piety and sexual expression. Just as women today face obstacles from a society that equates authority with masculinity, Hatshepsut had to shrewdly operate the levers of a patriarchal system to emerge as Egypt’s second female pharaoh.

Hatshepsut had successfully negotiated a path from the royal nursery to the very pinnacle of authority, and her reign saw one of Ancient Egypt’s most prolific building periods. Scholars have long speculated as to why her images were destroyed within a few decades of her death, all but erasing evidence of her rule. Constructing a rich narrative history using the artifacts that remain, noted Egyptologist Kara Cooney offers a remarkable interpretation of how Hatshepsut rapidly but methodically consolidated power—and why she fell from public favor just as quickly. The Woman Who Would Be King traces the unconventional life of an almost-forgotten pharaoh and explores our complicated reactions to women in power.

 

It’s rare that one non-fiction book graces the TBR, but two in a row?! It’s unheard of. I’m keeping this book on the TBR too; I didn’t even know there were female pharaohs! I’d like to learn a little more about her, and Egyptian culture. It’s a break from my usual reading and allows me to expand my history knowledge.

Verdict: Keep

 

Henry VIII – Abigail Archer

Goodreads – Henry VIII

Henry VIII ruled England from 1509 to 1547. As a young man, he was fond of sports and hunting, and was said to be uncommonly handsome. Standing more than six feet tall, he loomed large in the lives and minds of his subjects as he navigated his country through the tricky diplomatic and military hazards of the sixteenth century. A man of enormous appetites, Henry conducted affairs with many women, married six, and executed two. His infatuation with Anne Boleyn set in motion a chain of events that reshaped the church in England and eroded the dominance of Rome. But the popular image of Henry as a crude tyrant, dispatching courtiers, enemies, and wives with gusto, obscures a more nuanced and fascinating character.

He was a true Renaissance king who presided over one of Europe’s greatest courts and nudged Western civilization onto a new course. Here, from Abigail Archer, author of The New York Times bestseller Elizabeth I, is the story of Henry VIII.

 

Three non-fiction books in a row? I must have been conscious of the fact that I don’t read many and trying to rectify that. They are all history as well, which is fair enough. I enjoy history – at least they are all different in time period. The Tudor period is up there with WW2 on my list of favourite subjects.

Verdict: Keep

 

Playing With Matches – Lee Strauss

Goodreads – Playing With Matches

Heinz Schultz’s word could send a man to prison. Though only a youth of fifteen, he was strong, tall, and blond. The boys in his Deutsches Jungvolk unit esteemed him and feared him.

And they wanted to be just like him.
Emil Radle wanted to be just like him.

A dedicated member of Hitler Youth, Emil was loyal to the Fuehrer before family, a champion for the cause and a fan of the famous Luftwaffe Airforce.

Emil’s friends Moritz and Johann discover a shortwave radio and everything changes. Now they listen to the forbidden BBC broadcast of news reports that tell both sides. Now they know the truth.

The boys along with Johann’s sister Katharina, band together to write out the reports and covertly distribute flyers through their city. It’s an act of high treason that could have them arrested–or worse.

As the war progresses, so does Emil’s affection for Katharina. He’d do anything to have a normal life and to stay in Passau by her side. But when Germany’s losses become immense, even their greatest resistance can’t prevent the boys from being sent to the Eastern Front.

 

How quickly we swing back to History and WW2… but at least we are back in historical fiction territory. I am on familiar ground again! I simultaneously added this to the TBR and bought the e-book from Amazon. That’s how convinced I was that this was a keeper. I think I saw this advertised on Bookbub when it was on offer. I stand by my decision to buy it there and then.

Verdict: Keep

 

Keep You Safe – Rona Halsall

Goodreads – Keep You Safe

What if trying to protect your child only put them in danger?

Natalie is desperate to find her little boy. It has been more than three years since she saw Harry. Three long years in prison for a crime she knows she didn’t commit.

But her husband believed the police, and took their son.

Who has gone to such great lengths to destroy Natalie’s life? Everyone she once trusted – friends, family, everyone close to her – what secrets do they hide?

If Natalie finds the truth, will she get Harry back, or lose him forever?

A totally gripping psychological thriller– perfect for fans of Big Little Lies, The Girl on the Train and C.L Taylor.

Previously titled GUILTY LITTLE SECRETS

 

Rona Halsall’s Keep You Safe is staying on the list for a couple of reasons. Not only does it sound like a fantastic thriller/mystery novel, but Rona is a local author! I feature a lot of books on my blog, but as yet, nothing from anyone living on our little Island. I’m excited to be able to read this and share my thoughts on it.

Verdict: Keep

Only one book struck off the list again. At this point, I don’t think I’ll be striking many more off the list. They are all reasonably recent additions.

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my choices?

As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 15th September 2019

Welcome back to my weekly Sunday Summary post! I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief writing this post. I’ve taken part in no less than three blog tours this week. However, it really makes a difference being able to write without thinking about it too hard. I always deliberate over those posts so much to make sure I get them just right. My Sunday Summary posts are a lot more relaxed – just me in full and free flow.

To give myself that time I needed to prepare my blog tour posts, I skipped my usual Monday/Tuesday post. Therefore, my first post of the week was Wednesday’s review of Ring Fenced by Zach Abrams, as part of the blog tour. There was no rest for the wicked, as shortly following that I published another review for the blog tour of The Beltane Choice by Nancy Jardine on Friday. Yesterday’s blog tour post was a little more relaxed, as I shared a promotional post for Faeries of Saizia by Tonya L. Chaves. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to read this as well as Ring Fenced and The Beltane Choice, but I’m glad I got to feature the book on Reviewsfeed all the same.

I had the best day of the week on Tuesday! Regular readers will probably have an idea of how excited I was for the publication of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I was no-doubt annoying all my work colleagues on Tuesday morning going on about it (and how I had subconsciously dressed in the cover’s colours). I skipped down to Waterstones to collect my pre-order… to be told that won the only signed copy of the book received at our store! If I was annoying in the morning I must have been intolerable all afternoon…

 

Books Read

With the blog tour post being imminently due, my first priority read of the week was to finish the last 30% of Ring Fenced by Zach Abrams. I finished the book on Monday and immediately started drafting my review.

On Monday night I began the next book on the TBR, Simon Says by Jo Wesley. I’ve spent most of the week reading the book, dipping in and out of it around work, furious typing sessions in the evening and A. N Other book (no prizes for guessing which…). I finished it earlier today and wow! I am so glad I signed up for the blog tour for this book too! My review isn’t due for about a week and a half yet, but I will tell you this now; it is my second favourite read of the year (so far!).

So the next book is obviously going to be The Testaments. I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave it alone, although there were times when I picked up Simon Says over it. Yes, friends, it was THAT good. I still managed to read nearly 25% of The Testaments though. It has my sole focus now, so I can’t see it taking much longer to read…

This time last week I was unsure as to whether I would still be telling you I had a little longer left on Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo or not. I managed to push myself, however, and finished this audiobook on Friday! Hurrah! I did actually start the next one on my list earlier today, in anticipation for…guess what, another blog tour! That’s not until next month though, so I have plenty of time to listen to Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson.

 

Books Discovered

I have a couple of additions to the TBR this week. The first is a recommendation from Claire at work, so also recommended last weeks’ addition of The Island. This week she was telling me about a series she has started, the first book being The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley.

The second book added to my TBR is Friends Life These by Sarah Alderson. I found this on Bookbub and I like the synopsis. The idea that the image people portray on social media isn’t realistic is absolutely true.

 

Coming Up…

I am free of blog tours so I have full creative license with my blog content next week! I’m not letting up on the book reviews though, as I still have a list of them I need to review. To break up some of my content, I’ll save that post for Thursday.

On Tuesday, I am going to tackle the ever-growing TBR with another Down the TBR Hole post. I’ll take a look at the next ten books on the list and decide whether to keep them or not. It’s getting to the stage where the additions are recent, and by that, I mean about a year ago. I’m not binning off half as many books as I did at the beginning, but never mind. I have to try.

On Friday I am getting back into the swing of the fortnightly posts. This week is the turn of Shelf Control, so I’ll be looking back at one of the earliest additions to the TBR and letting you know why I’m excited to read it!

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

Owl Be Sat Reading – Book Tag: Inside and Out

Bibliophagist Reviews – Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my TBR That I’m Avoiding Reading & Why

Made Up Book Review: #BlogTour #BookReview The Fourth Victim by John Mead

Feed the Crime – Reviewing Endgame by Daniel Cole…

 

What have you been up to this week?

 

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Blog Tour: Faeries of Saizia – Tonya L Chaves

I don’t typically post on a Saturday, but this week has had a shakeup of routine. Today I am sharing my third blog tour post of the week! Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to read and review Faeries of Saizia as well as the other two books I have toured with this week. I do want to share the details with you however, as this may appeal to some of my readership as it does me!

The synopsis appeals to me as I love fantasy novels. Faeries of Saizia is full of magical creatures and an epic adventure shared by two best friends. Other reviewers of the book have described it as appropriate for middle-grade readers and upwards.

Would you like to find out more?

 

Faeries of Saizia

Goodreads – Faeries of Saizia

Zäria and Avery, two teenage faeries seeking adventure, get more than they bargained for when they start spying on the elves of Eerie Hollow. They discover why the elves are making delectable chocolates in the forest only to be captured by their adversary, Thordon who threatens them into taking on a quest. They run into more trouble while crossing through The Perilous Forest when they meet a witch with her own agenda. Their only hope is to locate an ancient faerie sanctuary they’ve only heard of in legend. Secrets are revealed about Zäria’s parents, which leaves her conflicted and forced to make some tough choices. Just when the fae think their troubles are over, the kingdom of Saizia is in danger of being destroyed. Will Zäria and Avery be able to get help on time? How will they defeat the evil Thordon? Inspired by the author’s children, Faeries of Saizia is a unique story that will instill a love for reading, love for nature, and belief in life’s endless possibilities.

 

Purchase Links –   Lulu Press     Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

Author Bio

Tonya is from a small town in the Central Valley of California. She studied early childhood education and worked in daycare and preschool for a few years until having children of her own. During a brief time of being a stay at home mom, she picked up the hobby of quilting which she still enjoys today. For the past fourteen years, Tonya has been working in the insurance industry as a licensed agent. While juggling a full-time job, being a wife and mother of three, quilting, and crafting, she somehow managed to write a book; adding author to her collection of titles. Faeries of Saizia is her first published work.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TonyaLChaves/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Website: www.tonyachaves.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cricketsnow

 

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: The Beltane Choice – Nancy Jardine

Today’s review of The Beltane Choice is the second blog tour post of the week! The Beltane Choice was the first book I picked up this month, despite not being the first tour date. I was in the mood for historical fiction, so why not? I knew I had plenty of time.

As always, I would like to take the chance to say a huge thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour. She has just celebrated her second year of starting up her blog tour business – so congratulations are in order too!

 

The Beltane Choice – Nancy Jardine

Goodreads – The Beltane Choice

AD 71 Northern Roman Britain

Lorcan of the Brigantes knows that unity of the northern tribes is essential when the Ancient Roman legions advance northwards to Brigantia. Yet, everything comes at a price. Using his captive, Nara, as a political bargain with the Selgovae comes with impossible stipulations. Battle at Whorl – Iron Age tribes against the Romans – is inevitable.

Will Nara have her Beltane choice?

The adventures of the Garrigill Clan begin…

 

Purchase Link – Amazon.com

 

My Thoughts…

I signed up to the blog tour for The Beltane Choice as a means of exploring a new period of British History. It isn’t something I have studied extensively. Most of my school history lessons revolved around the World Wars, the Cold War and American History. The ‘oldest’ British history I have read to date goes back to the Viking invasion of Britain, which occurs several hundred years after the events of this series. The year is AD71; Nara and Lorcan are brought together by chance on the road, but little do they know they each have a larger part to play in the face of a new threat – Roman invaders.

One of the most significant elements of the book is the relationship that develops between Lorcan and Nara. It’s pivotal to the plot and the wider series, on the whole, so I’m not going to mark it down for that. It wasn’t my favourite aspect, however. It’s in no way a criticism – it’s relevant and appropriate. I am just not a lover of romantic fiction and I would say the novel is as much romantic fiction as it is historical fiction.

I enjoyed the overall development of the story. The goal of uniting small tribes to face the threat posed by the Romans is clear from the start, yet far from an easy task for the characters to accomplish. Lorcan, a messenger and effectively a mediator, must travel to new and dangerous lands. It is on one such trip that he discovers Nara in her plight. He takes her captive and brings her back to his tribe, where he learns her identity and the role she must play to give them a chance at survival.

I like how the chapters are broken down by location in order to help us keep track of what is happening when. The narrative takes place in various locations across modern-day Northern England, as a lot of travel takes place. Some chapters switch perspective and location from Nara to Lorcan, although this isn’t common. As and when it occurs, the transition flows. Each character is quite distinctive from the other and easy to identify so settling into the new perspective is seamless.

The Beltane Choice and the events within have established the wider plotline to be explored in the remainder of the series. I can’t wait to see where events take us in the later books; how will the Selgovae and Garrigill tribes meet the Roman threat? I’m already signed up to take part in the blog tours for the later books as well, so I don’t have too long to wait…

 

Giveaway to Win x1 signed paperback of The Beltane Choice to one UK winner; X1 kindle copy worldwide

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

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494276/

 

Author Bio –

Nancy Jardine writes historical fiction; time-travel historical adventure; contemporary mystery thrillers; and romantic comedy. She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where life is never quiet or boring since she regularly child minds her young grandchildren who happen to be her next-door neighbours. Her garden is often creatively managed by them, though she does all the work! Her husband is a fantastic purveyor of coffee and tea…excellent food and wine! (Restorative, of course)

A member of the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland; Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Independent Alliance of Authors, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.

 

Social Media Links –

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk

Website: www.nancyjardineauthor.com/

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG & http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G

Twitter https://twitter.com/nansjar

Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5139590.Nancy_Jardine

 

Blog Tour Book Review: Ring Fenced – Zach Abrams

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Ring Fenced everyone! I hope you are as excited as I am for this post. I have not long finished reading this book, and I completed it from start to finish in less than two days. Does that give you an idea of what kind of review this is going to be? It should!

As always, let’s begin by saying a huge thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour. Also, thank you to Zach Abrams for a copy of Ring Fenced as well!

 

Ring Fenced

Goodreads – Ring Fenced

Sex. Money. Power. Control. Benjamin wants it all.

He is Bennie, a loving husband and father; Benjie, a beloved son. He climbs the ladder as Ben, a corporate banker, and rakes in money as a bestselling author. And when he wants to escape it all, Benjamin styles himself as Jamie — the lover of a beautiful musician.

His life, in a word, is perfect. But after years of keeping his separate personae a secret, cracks begin to appear in the façade.

When an unexpected series of events topples Benjamin’s carefully crafted world, his separate lives collide with dire consequences.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon      Next Chapter     Amazon US     Amazon UK

Ring Fenced is on an Amazon Countdown Promotion – selling at 99c /99p from 11-15 Sept 2019

 

My Thoughts…

I started reading Ring Fenced on Saturday and was sucked into the story right away. Benjamin / Ben / Bennie / Benjie / Jamie are all aliases for one man living very different lives simultaneously. He has a penchant for control and has successfully managed to keep each of his lives apart – until now. Extraneous events in each life drag him out of his safely established routine… and that’s where it all starts to go wrong.

Benjamin is not a likeable character. He’s competitive, manipulative and sordid in equal measure. When he is not Benjie, (oppressed by his parents, siblings and the expectations of their religion) or family-man Bennie, a darker side emerges. By night, Benjamin is an erotic writer for a website he helped to build in his early adult years. When the stories aren’t enough he takes on the persona of Jamie to live out his fantasies with other women.

He is a character you love to dislike. I looked forward to watching his life fall apart. It is no less than he deserves.

The writing style and pace of the novel are very easy to slip into. Ring Fenced is really easy to read as a result; it’s one of those books you can either pick up and put down at leisure or lose a lot of time in. At 228 pages, it’s also comparatively shorter than other books I have read recently. That works in its favour though. There is sufficient detail to invest in Ben’s various aliases and lives and explain his choices, without extraneous, irrelevant information that could drag the narrative down.

Ring Fenced is Zach Abrams debut novel, which amazes me! The novel demonstrates all the skill and prowess of a well-crafted, established author. He balances character development and execution of the plot in a way that complements each other brilliantly. After reading Ring Fenced, I would definitely pick up any of a number of novels Zach Abrams has published since.

 

Author Bio –

Having the background of a successful career in commerce and finance, Zach Abrams has spent many years writing reports, letters and presentations and it’s only fairly recently he started writing novels. “It’s a more honourable type of fiction,” he declares.

Writer of the Alex Warren Murder Mystery series, set in Scotland, Zach has also written the psychological thriller ‘Ring Fenced’ and the financial thriller ‘Source’, as well as collaborating with Elly Grant on a book of short stories.

Zach is currently producing a non-fiction series to help small businesses -using the collective title ‘Mind Your Own Business’. The first, ‘So, You Think You Want to be a Landlord’ is already available.

Social Media Links –

Website : http://zachabrams.wix.com/zach-abrams
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Zach-Abrams-author-463346010364540/
Twitter: @authorway

 

Sunday Summary – 8th September 2019

We’re at the end of another week already – so it’s time for my weekly Sunday Summary wrap up! The week was dragging… up until the weekend that is. Isn’t that always the way?

I began the week by sharing my Reading List for the month! With a book untouched from last month’s TBR and no less than three books still to be read for upcoming blog tours… it’s a busy one! In between all that, I am very excited about reading The Testaments, which is being published next week!

On Wednesday I set aside some of the older outstanding reviews and instead reviewed a recent read. After reading a previous book co-authored by him, Seeker, I gladly accepted a copy of Kau D’Varza from David Noë. I really enjoyed delving into the ChaosNova universe again.

On Friday I took a break from the usual Shelf Control post to take part in a book birthday blitz tour of The Fourth Victim by John Mead. As part of the tour, I reviewed the crime fiction novel. In order to make my life a little easier, I thought on and read this last month. What sets The Fourth Victim is its unusual main character Jenny – a sufferer of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

 

Books Read

I have spent the majority of the week reading The Beltane Choice by Nancy Jardine. As of last week’s Sunday Summary post I was 22% through the book. Midweek I felt pretty confident with how I was doing, but it ended up taking me a little longer to read than I wanted. I enjoyed the book overall, but I had a few moments with it. There are elements within that are necessary to the story, but I didn’t love it 100%. I persevered and I’m glad I did because I liked the wider historical fiction setting and novel. I finished reading The Beltane Choice yesterday morning.

As I have a blog tour post scheduled before that of The Beltane Choice, my next priority is to read Ring Fenced by Zach Abrams. I’ve fared a lot better with this book; the urgency of having the blog tour post due next week has spurred me along all the more I think. I started reading this yesterday afternoon and as of right now, I am 70% through the book already. If I push myself, I think I can have this read by the end of the night and be ready to move on to my next blog tour read. Thankfully I have a bit more breathing room before that post is due.

I am back to car-sharing in the mornings now, so progress on Six of Crows has slowed. That said, I have just less than five hours left of the book. If I listen to it in the car on the way home every day, I could have this finished in a couple of weeks. I have the scope to listen to them a little more at home (i.e. in the morning getting ready), so maybe I’ll give that a try again and see how I get on. Maybe this time next week I’ll be telling you I’ve finished it…

 

Books Discovered

I have a confession to make. I’ve added quite a few books to the TBR this week.

I’ve gotten involved with a bookish group of people that work at different offices of my company through our equivalent of a social media platform. In addition to discovering my interest in reading this month’s ‘Book of the Month’, When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen. It’s an office-based thriller and I think it has the potential to be a great read. I am going to see how my reading goes over the next few days to see if adding this to the TBR is feasible or not so I can take part in the conversation this month. It’s not the end of the world if I can’t… I can always read it later. I’d like to try though.

Last week I put out a poll so we could all get to know each other’s reading habits and preferences. We ended up talking about our bias towards fiction novels and our knowledge of history. A colleague mentioned that she keeps meaning to pick up her copy of 50 Things You Need to Know About British History by Hugh Williams. I decided that I want to as well, as my lack of knowledge of British History is pretty embarrassing.

Outside of the book club, my colleague Claire recommended a book she read on holiday to me. The Island by Victoria Hislop is a historical fiction novel about a woman discovering her family history and her ties to Spinalonga – a former leper colony.

This is a real historical fiction week, as my last addition to the TBR is Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris. The book is due to be published on the 1st October and having loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz, adding her new book to the TBR is a no-brainer!

 

Coming Up…

Next week is the busiest of this month, with no less than three blog tour posts coming your way.

In order to get myself organised with everything, I’ll forego my usual Monday/Tuesday post. Instead, my first post of the week will be shared on Wednesday. That post will be my review of my current read, Ring Fenced by Zach Abrams.

I’ll be skipping my fortnightly Shelf Control post again this week as I am due to take part in the blog tour for The Beltane Choice on Friday.

It’s not typical for me to post on a Saturday either, but I really wanted to take part in the blog tour for Faeries of Saizia by Tonya Chaves. If I didn’t have two blog tours already then I would have signed up to review this book. However, it is what it is, so I’m publishing a promo post to tell you all about it instead.

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

 

Duffy the Writer – Tidelands: Latest book by Philippa Gregory

The Lone Read Blog – Favorite Books of 2019

Bibliophagist Reviews – Weekly Update

 

 

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Book Birthday Blitz Review: The Fourth Victim – John Mead

Today’s review of The Fourth Victim makes my second review post of the week! I have set aside my usual fortnightly Friday posts to take part in the birthday blitz tour. Before I begin in earnest, I’d like to say a massive thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour!

 

The Fourth Victim

Goodreads – The Fourth Victim

Whitechapel is being gentrified. The many green spaces of the area, which typify London as a capital city, give the illusion of tranquility and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder…

Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula doesn’t dislike Inspector Matthew Merry but he has hardly set the world of the Murder Investigation Team East alight. And, it looks as if the inspector is already putting the death of the young female jogger, found in the park with fatal head injuries, down to a mugging gone wrong. The victim deserves more. However, the inspector isn’t ruling anything out – the evidence will, eventually, lead him to an answer.

Purchase Links – Amazon UK      Waterstones      Wordery      Blackwells

My Thoughts…

The Fourth Victim is a compelling crime thriller set in Whitechapel, London. A murder occurs in broad daylight and as the body count rises, the media coins the unidentified murderer as the Ripper come again. Matthew Merry is tasked with apprehending the killer and preventing another death. Under pressure from increasing police cuts, it’s a race against time before they strike again.

For me, the most interesting character of the book has to be Jenny. A traumatic childhood is attributed to her development of a mental illness called Dissociative Identity Disorder ‘DID’. Her experiences often influence which of her volatile personalities comes to the fore. Her unpredictable nature and her affiliation to the victims make her the lead suspect. As a former psychology student, I really enjoyed the depth of detail about the disorder and the dynamic of the narrative influenced by it.

Jenny is not the only flawed character in the book – even police are not immune to poor judgment. Their imperfections remind you that they are people too; instead of purely fulfilling the role of crime-solvers, their mistakes are a stark reminder that they are people too. They are integral to the story and their respective character arcs give them a real depth of character.

The Fourth Victim is well-paced without compromising on descriptive detail and character development. The number of leads for investigation drives the plot forwards and encourages you to draw your own conclusions – right or wrong. Discovering whether you get it right is all part of the enjoyment!

 

Author Bio

John was born in the mid-fifties in East London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs.

He has travelled extensively, from America to Tibet, and he enjoys visiting the theatre, reading and going to the pub. It is, perhaps, no surprise that he is an avid ‘people watcher’ and loves to find out about people, their lives, culture and history. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub; he writes.

Many of the occurrences recounted and the characters found in his novels are based on real incidents and people he has come across. Although he has allowed himself a wide degree of poetic licence in writing about the main characters, their motivations and the killings that are depicted.

John is currently working on a series of novels set in modern day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnMeadAuthor

Amazon author profile: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B07B8SQ2ZH

Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17891273.John_Mead

Book Review: Kau D’varza – David Noë

Hello fellow readers! I hope you are having a good week?

Today I am taking a brief respite from the older reviews in the pipeline. Instead, I am reviewing a book I have read more recently. I am always trying to read more in the way of science fiction, so when I was approached to read and review Kau D’varza I jumped at the chance. If you have been following my blog since the early days then you may recall I read and reviewed Seeker. Seeker is written by David Noë and Laura Loolaid and set in the same universe.

So, a full disclaimer – I have received a copy of Kau D’varza for the purpose of offering an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Now we’ve gotten the boring bit out of the way, shall we get to the important bit?

 

Kau D’varza

Goodreads – Kau D’varza

Even in the vastness of space, trouble finds a way.

When Elise Rivera arrived on Kau D’varza, a distant station near an anomaly known as the Void Cloud, she’d hoped to escape the troubles of her homeworld. Now, the appearance of a mysterious freighter places her new home under threat; a threat that Elise – along with station commissioner Gierre Nevos, his aide Specialist Kaska Stone, and a team led by Commander-Captain Joseph Raffa – must race against time to avert.

 

My Thoughts…

Our adventures in Kau D’varza begin with Elise being arrested for hacking into the Kau D’varza network. Passionate about keeping civilians in the know about current affairs of the station, she quickly finds herself in hot water. Despite her infringements, officials of the station see potential in Elise. She is given a job at the station that challenges her to prove her intellect and resourcefulness – skills needed to save the station from an outside threat.

Kau D’varza expands on the already established realms of the ChaosNova Universe. As a much longer novel there is greater opportunity to explore the inner workings of the system. Where Seeker follows the adventures of Jewel, Kau D’varza’s narrative has more extensively developed world history and complex political relations. Together, these make ChaosNova a detailed, comprehensive universe. I really enjoyed the elements of travel throughout, as enough action and dialogue keep the narrative flowing nicely.

With new worlds and advanced technology comes a whole host of new language. It is rare that novels ‘work’ when this element is hurried and/or underdeveloped; it can be intimidating or make the reader lose interest. Kau D’varza even has its own terminology for its technology and the passage of time (although not dissimilar to those we are used to). Despite not being a huge reader of science-fiction I didn’t find myself overwhelmed.

A lot of the novel is written in the form of dialogue, but I didn’t find it lacking in action as a result of that. The dialogue allows us as the reader to get a real feel for the dynamics and relationships between all the characters. As you might expect from a space station on the outskirts of an extensive universe, there is a real sense of community between the residents of Kau D’varza. Elise begins the novel as the outsider; however, she quickly becomes part of the community despite her reservations on the matter.

Kau D’varza is a really enjoyable jaunt into the realms of science fiction. That I don’t read as much of the genre as I do others makes the experience more exciting when I do. It was great to take another trip into the ChaosNova universe and learn more about it. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the author David Noë for inviting me to read and review the book- it was a pleasure to read!

 

 

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Reading List: September 2019

At the beginning of September, a lot of people will be celebrating the return of the school year. The summer holidays are over and parents everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief. It’s been many years since I’ve been in that routine, but I’m looking forward to the new month for entirely different reasons. A new month means a new reading list and I have a busy one ahead of me!

I have a number of blog tours coming up this month… the first of which is just a few days away. Thankfully I have already prepared and read up for that, but there is no rest for the wicked! Shall we take a look at which books I’ll be burying my nose in this month?

 

The Beltane Choice – Nancy Jardine

Goodreads – The Beltane Choice

The Beltane Choice “…combines a very human and personal story with a very believable vision of Late Iron Age society in Northern Britain.”

AD 71 Northern Roman Britain
Lorcan of the Brigantes knows that unity of the northern tribes is essential when the Ancient Roman legions advance northwards to Brigantia. Yet, everything comes at a price. Using his captive, Nara, as a political bargain with the Selgovae comes with impossible stipulations. Battle at Whorl – Iron Age tribes against the Romans – is inevitable.

Will Nara have her Beltane choice?

The adventures of the Garrigill Clan begin…

 

This is the first book I’ve picked this month, although strictly speaking it’s my third blog tour of the month. Tours two and three are so close together that it’s pretty inconsequential which order I read them in. Given my head start, I should have these both read in good time!

I signed onto the tours for this series as I wanted to broaden my horizons on British history. I haven’t read anything dating back even close to this period, so I’m interested to see how I’ll enjoy this book and the rest of the series!

 

Ring Fenced – Zach Abrams

Goodreads – Ring Fenced

Sex. Money. Power. Control. Benjamin has it all.

He is Bennie, a loving husband and father; Benjie, a beloved son. He climbs the ladder as Ben, a corporate banker, and rakes in money as a bestselling author. And when he wants to escape it all, Benjamin styles himself as Jamie — the lover of a beautiful musician. His life, in a word, is perfect.

But after years of keeping his separate personae a secret, cracks begin to appear in the façade. When an unexpected series of events topples Benjamin’s carefully crafted world, his separate lives collide with dire consequences.

 

After The Beltane Choice, I’ll promptly be picking up Ring Fenced by Zach Abrams. This is my second blog tour of the month, so no hanging around when it comes to getting this read! I was drawn to this novel because a mean part of me cannot wait to see how his life and multiple personas come together disastrously.

 

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

Goodreads – The Testaments

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

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

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

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

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

 

The Testaments will be published on the 10th September and it is the newest book on myTBR. As soon as my copy is in my local Waterstones, you had best get out of my way! I have fallen in love with The Handmaid’s Tale (book and TV series) despite not getting on with it at all years ago and I cannot tell you how excited I am for the sequel! I’ll be reading it as soon as I can squeeze it between my blog tour reads.

 

Simon Says – Jo Wesley

Goodreads – Simon Says

Her new life may not be perfect but she’s happy. Until she makes a terrible decision – and learns the hard way that home is not a place of refuge.

Not while Simon lurks in every shadow.

He groomed her as a teen: terrorised her into fleeing and leaving her baby behind. Now the man who destroyed her childhood has become the perfect father to her teenage daughter. And her return threatens his future.

A desperate man is a dangerous one.

Simon says she must leave or suffer the consequences. She refuses.

Now it’s his move. Because it’s not enough to face your demons.

Sometimes, you must destroy them.

 

Simon Says is my last blog tour of the month and thankfully I have a little breathing room after the above tours to read and review this book. I’m a huge fan of psychological thrillers and the premise of this one sounds so good! It has such potential for an explosive plotline and a dose of karma for those that deserve it! It has very good ratings to far too, so I have very high hopes for this!

 

Elantris – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Elantris

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn’t recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It’s also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

 

Since I didn’t get around to reading this last month it’s hardly shocking that it’s on the list again. It may be last on the list but reading this is a priority too. I will not be postponing it another month because I fancied reading something else. I’m self-imposing a ban on starting any non-TBR books unless at the end of the month I have finished y TBR and have time to spare.

That’s everything for this month! Are there any other Margaret Atwood fans looking forward to the Testaments as much as I am? Otherwise, what are you reading this month?

 

 

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