Sunday Summary – 21st January 2018

Yes folks, it is THAT time of the week again!
I quite enjoy writing my little Sunday summary posts, and I think it is good to have a regular feature on your blog. Mine also happens to keep me organised and thinking about the week ahead, so it’s a win-win situation!
What do you guys think? Is this something you like to read on my blog? Do you think these posts could be better? I really want to know what you think, so please leave some feedback for me if you can! Thank you!
 

Books Read


When I posted last week I had just started reading A Mentor & Her Muse by Susan Sage, my third and final review request of the month. I am pleased to say that I really enjoyed reading about Maggie and Tae’s road trip, with all its peaks and pot-holes, so keep an eye out for a review in due course!
I also managed to finish a book I downloaded from Netgalley months and months and MONTHS ago, which I have been putting to the bottom of the pile a lot. No wonder my Netgalley rating isn’ t great…
Anyway, I pretty much read the remainder of this book, (and we are talking about 80%) in one day – pretty good going for me! I’ll have to get my review up and posted so my name in the world of Netgalley isn’t trodden in the mud quite so much…
 

Books Discovered


So, I added this first book to the reading list last Sunday, after my regular post. I saw this book on the daily email I get from Bookbub… and who am I to resist a fantasy book from an established author?
The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century – I think I saw this book on Goodreads. I thought it would be interesting to learn a little of the differences between England then and now… being the little history geek I am!
 

Coming Up…

Next week I have three posts planned for you guys, and I am super excited!
On Tuesday, I am posting an interview with Steve Campitelli, author of The Fall about his book and the inspirations behind it… and I’ll be following this up on Wednesday with my review of the book.
I was also kindly nominated for the Liebster award this week, so on Friday I will be taking part in the tag, and who knows… maybe, I’ll tag you!
Lastly, I advised you all that I was going to be putting some work into my Goodreads account this week, in order to get my reading list all in one place, and I can happily announce that it is now live! Want to see what books I plan on reading this year? If so, so and check out my Reading List shelf on Goodreads! If you’d like, whilst you’re there, add me as a friend!
Rebecca mono
 

Book Review: Snobbity Snowman – Maria Bardyukova & Quiet Riley

Good morning everybody!

My first review request of the month and 2018 gives me the opportunity to look back at the type of books I would have been reading as a child.

Back in my day – so, so long ago (joking!) the most memorable series of books that springs to mind was The Magic Key series! Weren’t they fun?! Well, I thought they were, and being encouraged to read from such a young age, I wouldn’t be surprised if I read all of them. I think all children should be encouraged to read – not only is it an essential skill, but for us bookworms, it is a pleasure as well.

Snobbity Snowman
Goodreads – Snobbity Snowman

Snobbity Snowman has everything a snowman could possibly want: a shiny hat, freshly-picked noses and enough pride to last a lifetime. In fact, he is so selfish and shortsighted that he fails to see the instance his life starts falling apart.

What disasters must take place to open his charcoal eyes? To help him see that pride and possessions cannot bring true happiness? Will he defrost his ego and embrace the warmth of companionship?
Only Snobbity can tell.

Depicting winter in rich and whimsical tones, Snobbity Snowman’s quirky characters and unexpected twists promise to leave a lasting impression on all its snobbulous readers.

 

My Thoughts…

Snobbity Snowman really captures the essence of Christmas. It is easy to become caught up in the presents, the food and the inevitable cost. Who got the better present, and who had the most moey spent on them? It is a selfish side of Christmas, and sometimes it can feel like it has turned into a competition. How many small children have internet capable smartphones nowadays?! I think it’s ludicrous – I got my first Nokia brick (with everyone’s favourite game of snake on it) when I was about nine or ten, I think, but it was only for emergencies.

Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked. My point is, the focus of Christmas is no longer about giving, or more importantly appreciating what you have – family. The current social attitude is symbolised by Snobbity Snowman; he has anything he could “possibly ever want”, and anything less than satisfactory makes him angry.

Only when he is stripped of his possessions (and associated pride) does he open his eyes to such meagre items making the world of difference to the family that acquired them. In that, he finds happiness himself. To give is the best thing that you can do. Once he has learned this he is made new again and becomes part of the family.

The message behind Snobbity Snowman is an important one for children to learn, and this has been carefully portrayed. Also expected within books aimed at this audience are gradual introductions to new words – roiled and rancorous, for example. Alliteration is also a device used in the book to draw the reader to these words, to make them fun, yet prominent.

Bearing the target audience in mind, probably the most contributing factor to the book and the audience’s understanding of the story are the illustrations accompanying the text. Snobbity is portrayed perfectly; the vivid images help move the story along and throw in some humour along the way!

All in all, this is a lovely book to read with the kids, to introduce them to new words and ideas and more importantly, to convey the message that material possessions are not what is important, but family and happiness.

Thank you to Quiet Riley for approaching me with the request to read this book in an exchange for a review.
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 14th January 2018

Today’s Sunday Summary comes with a very grim view out of the window next to me. The Sun is trying its best to make an appearance, but it isn’t succeeding.
It has been a wet, dank and dreary week, and sadly the weekend so far has been no better. There’s also potential snow forecast here for next week – and whilst I am sure school children everywhere will be delighted… I for one don’t fancy the frozen fingers and carnage of trying to drive to work in it on barely gritted roads. Again.
We don’t cope with snow at all. I envy places like Canada that deal with it as a minor inconvenience. If one single snowflake settles on lower ground here, we grind to a halt. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but not much.
 

Books Read

This week I’ve made a lot of progress on reading the second review request I received, being The Fall by Steve Campitelli. When I published my Summary last week, I had read about a quarter of the book. I actually finished reading it last night, so watch this space for an upcoming review.
Having finished The Fall, I made a small start on A Mentor and Her Muse by Susan Sage, but only a small one so far. This is the third and final request I have taken on this month, so I am looking forward to seeing where this book takes us on its literary journey. I don’t normally take on more than two requests – I believe my review policy even says as much. Given that my first request was a children’s book, I felt I could make the exception.
Not so much “reading” per say, but I have also been listening to a few more hours of the audiobook, The Stand by Stephen King. I am working on a DIY paint-it-yourself canvas for my living room, and audiobooks are perfect to listen to when you are doing this! I’ll have to share a photo once it is complete.
 

Books Discovered


 
I have added a few books to the TBR this week. I added The Litigators after seeing it was the deal of the week with O2 Priority. Based on the blurb, I think this is going to be humorous and enjoyable for a number of reasons, but it will also be my first encounter with John Grisham as an author.
I was of two minds about adding The Tattooist of Auschwitz, because it centres around characters that fall in love and build a new life following atrocities of the Holocaust. I am hoping the book focuses more on the historical struggles, because basically I am an unromantic soul and reading about peoples soppy feelings just makes me uncomfortable. There, I said it.
I saw a review for The City of Brass at Hollie Blog and fell in love with the book from there. This also a fantastically written review, so please check it out guys!
 

Coming Up…

On Wednesday I am going to be writing a review of Snobbity Snowman, written by Quiet Riley over at Quiet Blogster, and I can’t wait to share that with you. I am also in the process of working to see if either an interview or guest post is an option to accompany this, so watch this space.
Those of you that follow my blog know that the Sunday Summary is a weekly gig, so I am going to stop writing that I do it in this section. It’s a given.
I am also hoping to take some time to work on my Goodreads account this week, as I am going to set up a shelf to show my actual TBR as opposed to books I have added as they look interesting. That way, you guys get an idea of what is coming up when and then I don’t have to manage my list with several apps!! Win win!
Also, I have just gotten by behind into gear and I am doing my best to get into #bookstagram . I have linked my account to my blog, it can also been found here – so a follow would be appreciated!! I’m still very new to it – particularly with how people who read on kindles or other e-readers manage, so any inspiration is welcome!!
 
I think that is all from me for this week, so until Wednesday, adieu!
Rebecca mono

Review: Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

Hi everyone! Today I am very excited to be bringing you a review of Code Name Verity!

It was the last book that I read in 2017 – and if I hadn’t published my Top Ten Tuesday – Books of the Year post so early, this would have made the list for sure!

Code Name Verity
Goodreads – Code Name Verity

Oct. 11th, 1943 – A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.

 

Verity is such a captivating character – from the first page, you are sucked into her narrative, intimate in such personal and genuine feeling. As “Verity” writes her confession and surrenders details of about the British, we learn how she became best friends with Maddie and got involved in the war effort. Whilst cooped up in her cell, subjected to watching the torture and execution of other resisting captives, she scrawls her tale on any form of paper available to her – music scores, recipe cards and Jewish prescription sheets to name but some examples. She grieves for her losses and for Maddie, whose plane crash-landed after delivering her safely for her mission.

Code Name Verity stirs a variety of emotions throughout the book – horror at the atrocities experienced at the hands of the Gestapo; fear for our protagonist’s life as she struggles on in her meagre existence; and humour… somehow, a small spark of resistance lies deep in her heart despite all her suffering. And a small spark can ignite a flame… The details of Verity’s mission unfold, and all may not be lost.

It is easy to consider the overall events of the war in hindsight, losing the personal touch – the men, women and children that died as a result of the war were mother’s, fathers, brothers and sisters. They were families. The narrative of Code Name Verity puts that right back into perspective.

Somehow I feel that anything I can say about how brilliant, beautiful and cleverly written the narrative is, I feel my comments can never do the book justice. Instead, let actions speak louder than words: Much as one may do with a classic or beloved favourite, this is a book I am going to pick up and read again. And again. I’ll probably get my hands on a physical copy to adorn my bookshelf too, because it has earned it’s place in my library. I hope it earns a place in yours too!
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 7th January 2018

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!
New Year celebrations are officially over and we are back to the daily grind. That isn’t such a bad thing though – at least for me anyway. Getting back into a normal routine is what I like, and I have a review to catch up with on here so I should have time to do it. The thought that the next bank holiday is Easter is somewhat depressing though!!
 

Books Read


This week I made a good, healthy start on some of the requests I received this month. I have read Snobbity Snowman by Maria Bardyukova & Quiet Riley, a children’s winter-themed tale. After that, I picked up The Fall by Steve Campitelli and so far I have read 26% of the book.
The Stand
I’ve also made further progress on Audible with The Stand by Stephen King. Why have I not tried audiobooks before?! They are so handy to listen to when you are busy doing other things and can’t physically pick up a book.
 

Books Discovered


From reviews I have seen, written by fellow bloggers, I have added the above two books to the TBR. If you want to read those review posts, you can find them here and here.
 
A King Ensnared.jpg
I also downloaded another book, as it was recommended to me by email from Bookbub and was free for the day. A King Ensnared is a  historical fiction book based on the trials and turmoil experienced by the James Stewart in 1406, heir to the Scottish throne.
 

Coming Up…

On Wednesday I want to share a review of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. It was my last read of 2017 and it was absolutely sensational… I can’t wait to tell you why!
As usual I’ll wrap up the week with a Sunday Summary, and hopefully next week I’ll have some news for you in terms of reviewing some of the requests I have been reading.
Until Wednesday, ciao for now!!
Rebecca mono
 

Reading List: January 2018

Hi everyone! *waves emphatically*
January is here! The blogging/reading records are wiped off the slate and it’s time to start all over again.
I started the blog last year and I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it! Having taken a wee step back over Christmas to spend time with family and wind down, I am ready to throw myself back into the deep end and get stuck in!
Not only am I excited because I had a couple of late review requests to squeeze in, I GOT TWO REQUESTS IN ONE DAY!! There’s my first record of the year sorted!
I truly am flattered that people take the time out of their day to ask me to review their books. I know that it benefits you, but out of the many, many… many blogs out there, the fact you have taken the time to look at mine still astonishes me. So thank you – to everyone.
So,  I have a busy month ahead of me…
 

Snobbity Snowman – Maria Bardyukova & Quiet Riley

Snobbity Snowman
Goodreads – Snobbity Snowman
I was approached by the author to review this children’s picture book back in December, and I fell in love with the idea straight away. I enjoyed reviewing another book last year aimed at the younger generation (although not QUITE so young as this one), and I figure, why not take the opportunity to read and review the kinds of books from my childhood that made me the reader I am today?
Given the time of year, (I am listening to storm Eleanor raging outside my window as I type), I think it couldn’t be more appropriate!
 

The Fall – Steve Campitelli

The Fall
Goodreads – The Fall
This is the first of the late submissions to my reading list. I have read books of a similar nature before, such as Bad City by Matt Mayr and I am also listening to The Stand by Stephen King and really enjoying that too! Whilst this has no elements of horror like King’s novel, based on experience, this should be something I really enjoy!
 

A Mentor and Her Muse – Susan Sage

A Mentor and Her Muse
Goodreads – A Mentor and Her Muse
I received this request on the same day as The Fall, on the 1st January and accepted as I was intrigued by the psychology aspect of the characters implied in the blurb. The fact that the main character is also a “frustrated writer” makes me suspect strong development – after all, it takes one to know one… or so they say. I’m still waiting for the digital copy of this book, but with the promise of it being sent through soon, I have added it to this month’s list.
 

Former.ly – Dane Cobain

Former.ly
Goodreads – Former.ly
I managed to make a respectable start on this last month, but Christmas happened and it ended up on the back-burner somewhat. Again for this month, the same thing applies as all my requests get priority. Fingers crossed I’ll get to finish it this month, get my review on Netgalley and get my rating score up a tad. It’s looking very sorry for itself at the moment – which is what happens when you get excitable and take on more than you can manage…
 

ReWired – S R Johannes

ReWired
Goodreads – ReWired
Again, much the same for this one. I downloaded this from Netgalley and I need to get my review (and rating) up. This also follows a technology vibe, which is something I haven’t really read much of since reading Aaru by David Meredith in November.
 

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist
Goodreads – The Miniaturist
This is the only paid book I have on the list for this month, and I have tagged it onto the end for a reason – motivation to get reading! I recorded and watched the BBC’s TV adaptation of this book on New Year’s Eve and fell in love with it straightaway!! This book was quite a bit further down the reading list and wasn’t due to be read for some time yet, but I’ve shamelessly bumped it up the list, because I can.
Divider mono
So there you have it – what books are you starting the year with? Have you set your reading challenges? How many books are you attempting to read this year?
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 31st December 2017

Firstly, I would like to wish everybody reading this a Happy New Year!!
Not only is this the last post of the year from me, it also happens to be my 100th post! I never thought I would stick with blogging this long, but thanks to a great community and support, I am glad I have!
New year is the time for making resolutions: swearing never to bite your nails again or starting new diets and inevitably giving up a week later (or is that just me?) I don’t really make resolutions in the strictest sense anymore because I am doomed to fail them. Do you guys make resolutions? If so, what resolutions are you making this year?
 

Books Read


So, this week I managed to finish Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and OHMYGOSH, that was fantastic! Not only that, if anyone happens to follow me on Twitter, you might have seen that finishing Code Name Verity means that I have completed my reading challenge for this year!
self celebrate glitter.gif
Having taken a brief interlude to celebrate that little victory (okay, well it’s a pretty big one considering before this year I sucked at reading regularly), I also made a start on one of my Netgalley downloads, as my rating is not all that good at the moment… aha… oops. I downloaded the books a little while ago and I think I’ve left it too long…
The Stand
I’ve also been listing to more of The Stand by Stephen King via Audible. I really think I am going to take to audiobooks.
 

Books Discovered

This is one of those rare weeks in which I have absolutely nothing to report… I haven’t added any books to the list or bought any – which is a rarity!
Between Christmas and New Year really throws me off my beat…
Equally, I’ve been busy trying to set up a bullet journal for this year. That’s my excuse! I’m looking forward to seeing what people are doing with their own this year – as a newbie, any inspiration is welcome! If you have any tips, tricks, or have written any posts on this, could you pretty please pop a link in the comments? I’ll be forever grateful.
 

Coming Up…

I’m thinking of trying out a slightly different schedule; as much as I love posting on the blog, currently managing things the way I have been last year is hard work and time consuming. I am going to be keeping my Sunday Summary post, because I find it really useful, but I’m thinking of reducing my number of posts a week to two on a regular basis with some other ad-hoc posts interspersed periodically. With that in mind, I am thinking of posting on Wednesday and Sunday.
I’m sorry if that disappoints anyone, but I think it is for the best. I would rather take the time to produce two good posts in a week rather than three or more mediocre ones because I’ve rushed them. I hope you understand…
 

Sunday Summary – 24th December 2017

IT’S CHRISTMAS EVE!!!
The end of the year is nearly upon us, and with all the festivities going on, this is going to fly by!
 

Books Read


I’ve not read so much this week, as I have had other things going on including a number of blog posts being written, as well as family coming for Christmas etc. What I did manage to do was finish reading Triple Cross Killer by Rosemarie Aquilina ahead of the review I was writing as part of the book’s Blog Tour. If anyone is interested in checking that post out, you can find it here.
Following on from that, I also managed to make a start on Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, but don’t get too excited. I’ve only gotten to about 10% so far, but I am determined to finish this book before the end of the month because this is the LAST book of my reading challenge!!
The Stand
I’ve also been trying something a little different this week on the recommendation of a friend – I have started a free trial with Audible and I am giving audiobooks a try! I downloaded The Stand by Stephen King with the credit I got as part of the trial and so far I am really enjoying it. Not only is it good for me to listen to whilst I am getting ready for bed (it’s helping me wind down – music just makes me lively and I struggle to sleep then), but it’s a great way to still experience a book even if you have other things to do. I am scaling back the reading next year to do other things (and getting off my backside a little more is one of them) and I think audiobooks will be a great compromise for this.
 

Books Discovered

I’ve treated myself to a few books this week – two of which I had added to the TBR anyway because they sounded interesting!

 
Memoirs of a Geisha is due to come upon a Down The TBR Hole post soon, so whilst I saw the book was on sale for a reduced price I had a look and decided it was something I wanted to keep on the list and read. You may also remember I looked at The Keeper of Lost Things only recently and decided it was a keeper, so I’m pleased with these two purchases.
The final book I bought is called The Incedium Plot by A D Swanston. This was an impulse buy, but again, at a discounted price. From the blurb, it is a historical fiction book and it’s one of my favourite genres, so I’ll give it a try!
The Incendium Plot
 

Coming Up…

This next week coming up is going to be a quiet one, and I am not going to lie. I fully intend to spend this next week with family, attempting to complete my reading challenge and getting through this busy period we have at work.
I only plan to write one post this week, instead of my usual three, and that will be my summary next Sunday.
Until then, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!
Rebecca mono

Review: Seeker – David Noe and Laura Loolaid

Hi everyone! I’m back again today to post my second review in a row, which is most unusual for me! Given that we are all going to be slowing down a bit for the festive season, I wanted to publish this and relieve the authors of their long wait.

I was very kindly asked by David and Laura to review Seeker back in October, and I am very grateful for their patience as they have waited over two months for this review. Thank you both for bearing with me on this – turns out when I advertise I am taking requests I practically get my hand chewed off!

Seeker
Goodreads – Seeker

Jewel Harper, a junior specialist in a successful bounty-hunter group, returns from a routine mission only to find a new contract already prepared – a private contract to rescue a brother she didn’t know she had. The mission takes Jewel to a few different homeworlds — and into some trouble. She will learn that pretty much everybody knows more about her family than she does.

This is a stand-alone story set in the ChaosNova universe. Humans have spread to new homeworlds in a “goldilocks cluster” somewhere in the Galaxy, where the many homeworlds harbour several dominant civilizations as well as various local cultures, ancient and new. This story-verse, borne of forum-based roleplay and collaboration between several authors, holds many more characters and adventures, with varying degrees of connection to the central arc. Some of those stories are being written now, many are yet to be told.

 

My Thoughts…

The first thing I immediately fell in love with when I was approached with the book was that it was written via collaboration, and it’s beginnings are unique. Having been a part of science-fiction-themed forums previously, David decided to create his own forum to write in. As more people joined, including Laura, some of these stories began to take shape.

If you are interested in learning more about the way in which the Universe was created, I will be sharing a video with you tomorrow in which both Laura and David discuss this, among other things.

In the meantime, I want to share with you my thoughts about the book! (That is what I am here for, after all)…
Seeker is based in an entirely fictional universe we discoever through the eyes of Jewel, aka Seeker Valkyrie. Jewel puts me in mind of that person at work that is always there when you arrive, and you can guarantee that they will be the last to leave the office at the end of the day. You know the one – EVERY office has one. Who knows, they may even have a sleeping bag…

All joking aside, Jewel is a workaholic, taking on and completing missions one after the other and barely pausing for breath. Her shuttle is basic and utilitarian – not a place of comfort, but that suits her needs just fine. Her usual routine changes when she is approached with a private contract: to rescue a brother she didn’t even know she had!

Private contracts are always trouble, or so Overseer Raptor warns her. Ignoring his advice, she sets out in search of her brother across the Universe – but she isn’t the only one seeking him out. Wraith – her competitor, is trying to get him first… but for whom is he working? Jewel ends up negotiating herself out of some sticky situations. Having grown up sheltered from her family’s past, she slowly uncovers more information and pieces together the truth. Just what kind of trouble did her brother get into to be imprisoned?

Well, I’m not spoiling it for you here – so you’ll have to go and find out for yourself! Aha!!

I enjoy reading science-fiction, and whilst it is one of the genres I make an effort to dip into, it is one I read less of. That being the case, I am far less clued up on terminology than the authors, for example. Despite my lesser experience, for want of a phrase, I wasn’t at all intimidated by the language employed to describe the advanced technology used. Whilst it is specific in describing what is happening, I didn’t find the language too technical. It avoids alienating the reader and therefore striking up an effective balance to communicate the story.

When dabbling in genres like fantasy and science-fiction, there is far more flexibility with the rules that govern what is happening within the created dimensions. This can be liberating as it allows for greater flexibility as the imagination can run wild, however, it could also become problematic. Even though you have the ability to bend the rules, the plot line concerned still needs to be credible for the reader. There have to be valid reasons for the rules to be bent. For example, extensive space travel is a large part of Jewel’s quest in finding her brother – so far, in fact, it would take millions of years to travel there. As we all know the average span of a human life, one question that could then be raised is how Jewel could survive such a trip? For that, we have the solution of the stasis pods she has in her shuttle. I don’t think too much detail is required (actually – you could get bogged down if there is too much), but the explanation is there as to how she makes it to the other side and more importantly, it’s believable. It’s also a convenient way of glossing over what would end up being a long and rather dull trip in a computerised tin can.

I found Jewel really easy to get along with as a character. Who doesn’t love a bit of sassy, kick-ass action? It also helps that Jewel knows as little about her past as we do. Discovering what happened to her family during her childhood is a journey we take with her, and there is definitely scope for the story to progress further should the authors decide to. Not only that, the flexibity in creating a Universe is that other, separate stories can be written with similar themes to other books. That way, new characters and story arcs can be introduced. I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and I think there is plenty of opportunity for the ChaosNova universe to adopt a similar model for their stories, should they wish to try that.

I hope to see further books in the future, because I think this has a lot of potential for success. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I hope other readers love it as much as I do. Once again, thank you to Laura and David for hanging in there and also for the extra material they have produced.

I will post a link to this tomorrow, so stay tuned!
Rebecca mono