Tag: amreading

down the tbr hole

Down the TBR Hole #11

Happy Thursday everyone!

Today is a bank holiday, so I get to enjoy being off work! It will be strange going back for one day tomorrow, mind. How are you all?

I’ve had a happy couple of days as I have just watched my sister graduate from University with a 1st honours degree. I am a very proud sister right now!

 

Today I am putting together another Down the TBR hole post, to make sure the list doesn’t become unruly. I’ve accepted it’s going to remain long… and it will always be added to, but I can try, right? For anyone unfamiliar with how this post works, here are the rules: –

The meme was created by Lia @ Lost in a Story:

  • 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?

So, shall we review the next ten books on my list?

 

The Secret Library – Oliver Tearle


Goodreads – The Secret Library

As well as leafing through the well-known titles that have helped shape the world in which we live, Oliver Tearle also dusts off some of the more neglected items to be found hidden among the bookshelves of the past. You’ll learn about the forgotten Victorian novelist who outsold Dickens, the woman who became the first published poet in America and the eccentric traveller who introduced the table-fork to England. Through exploring a variety of books—novels, plays, travel books, science books, cookbooks, joke books and sports almanacs—The Secret Library highlights some of the most fascinating aspects of our history. It also reveals the surprising connections between various works and historical figures. What links Homer’s Iliad to Aesop’s Fables? Or Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack to the creator of Sherlock Holmes? The Secret Library brings these little-known stories to light, exploring the intersections between books of all kinds and the history of the Western world over 3,000 years.

This is pretty much a no-brainer for me. It also guarantees that my TBR will get a lot longer after I’ve read it! I am always looking for new ways to discover new books… and I think this book will do just that for me!

Verdict: Keep

 

Because You’ll Never Meet Me – Leah Thomas


Goodreads – Because You’ll Never Meet Me

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

This book and the sadness of the near impossible friendship between these two boys make me want to read this book. I think we have all experienced similar feelings of confusion or isolations during our teenage years, so I am hoping to relate to these characters in one way or another.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Iron Ship – K. M. McKinley


Goodreads – The Iron Ship

An incredible epic fantasy begins!

The order of the world is in turmoil. An age of industry is beginning, an age of machines fuelled by magic. Sprawling cities rise, strange devices stalk the land. New money brings new power. The balance between the Hundred Kingdoms is upset. For the first time in generations the threat of war looms.

In these turbulent days, fortunes can be won. Magic runs strong in the Kressind family. Six siblings strive – one to triumph in a world of men, one to survive murderous intrigue, one to master forbidden sorcery, one to wash away his sins, one to contain the terrible energies of his soul.

And one will do the impossible, by marrying the might of magic and iron in the heart of a great ship, to cross an ocean that cannot be crossed.

I was won over by “epic fantasy” if I’m honest. It is my favourite genre of all time and I am intrigued by the combination of magic and the industrial revolution. By all means, this is not a slight book; at 650 pages, but I am up for the challenge. This is a keeper.

Verdict: Keep

 

Nevernight – Jay Kristoff

Nevernight
Goodreads – Nevernight

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

This isn’t a case of does it stay… rather, it should be on my current reads list.

Technically, I’m listening to it via Audible, and it’s so fantastic that I have already purchased Godsgrave with my next credit. I’m already two-thirds of the way through and I cannot wait for the first book to come to its conclusion!

Verdict: Keep

 

Streets of Darkness & Girl Zero – A. A. Dhand

Goodreads – Streets of Darkness
Goodreads – Girl Zero

There are some surprises that no-one should ever have to experience. Standing over the body of your beloved – and murdered – niece is one of them. For Detective Inspector Harry Virdee, a man perilously close to the edge, it feels like the beginning of the end.

His boss may be telling him he’s too close to work the case, but this isn’t something that Harry can just let lie. He needs to dive into the murky depths of the Bradford underworld and find the monster that lurks there who killed his flesh and blood.

But before he can, he must tell his brother, Ron, the terrible news. And there is no predicting how he will react. Impulsive, dangerous and alarmingly well connected, Ron will act first and think later. Harry may have a murderer to find but if he isn’t careful, he may also have a murder to prevent.

I originally added these books when the author was featured in Writers Magazine. Whilst they do sound interesting, I’m not sure I want to read them as much as I did when I added them originally.

Verdict: Bin

 

The Best Kind of People – Zoe Whittall


Goodreads – The Best Kind of People

What if someone you trusted was accused of the unthinkable?

George Woodbury, an affable teacher and beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, assists in his father’s defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years. A local author tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist attempts to get Sadie onside their cause. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?

With exquisite emotional precision, award-winning author Zoe Whittall explores issues of loyalty, truth, and the meaning of happiness through the lens of an all-American family on the brink of collapse.

 

I had forgotten I added this to the TBR; to be honest, a part of me wonders why. You think it would never happen near you.

One of the teachers at my school was arrested and charged for a sexual crime.

Whilst I was no more involved than being taught by him, the story is close to the bone. Guilty or not, I don’t think I would be comfortable reading and trying to sympathise with the accused based on what has happened here.

Verdict: Bin

 

Shantaram – David Gregory Roberts


Goodreads – Shantaram

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.”

So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.

Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay’s hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.

As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city’s poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.

Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas – this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart. Based on the life of the author, it is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature.

I think this was an impulse addition to the TBR as well. Not sure why and I can’t even justify it.

Verdict: Bin

 

Red Rising – Pierce Brown


Goodreads – Red Rising

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

This sounds like the perfect blend of Fantasy and Science Fiction. When it comes to technical sci-fi, I get a bit lost. Red Rising and the plot is one I think and hope I can really get behind. I love the idea of rebellion against oppression!

Verdict: Keep

 

If We Were Villians – M. L. Rio


Goodreads – If We Were Villians

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villains explores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls.

It involves crime, theatre and Shakespeare. Need I say more? I absolutely love anything that centres around the stage and I am truly hooked by this synopsis.

Verdict: Keep

 

So there you have it! I decided to bin 4 out of 10 books, so that isn’t too bad!

Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned and want me to change my mind? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 1st July 2018

I cannot believe we are at the beginning of a new month already! June has flown by. So, with it being the end of the week and end of the month, I have a fresh Sunday Summary and some new artwork to put together – all very late on a Sunday evening… oops.

That being said, I did publish my reading list earlier on today. I think I can be forgiven. Two posts in one day isn’t a regular occurrence for me!

This week has been a busy one really – on Monday I published some hints and tips about what to expect going self-hosted. I think that turned out to be a useful read for a few people. If you haven’t checked that out already, I would be grateful if you did. When putting the post together I wanted to relay advice I hadn’t come across on other blogs on the subject. Maybe someone will benefit from the post anyway.

Next, I featured Stephen Spotte in a guest post on Wednesday, followed by my review of his book, A Conversation with A Cat on Thursday. It is a reasonably quick read – it is remarkably funny and if you like a little history told from a new perspective, this is for you!

 

Books Read

Last week I had put Death in Dulwich aside (for a short while) to read Ravencry by Ed McDonald for an imminently upcoming Blog Tour. I carried on where I left off there, reading Ravencry and practically devouring it as quickly as feasibly possible. I am currently using quite a *small handbag, so I have had a few chuckles with my copy of Ravencry practically hanging out of it this week.

*anything accommodating less than the kitchen sink is defined as small

I finished Ravencry on Friday night in the only way that felt acceptable… with “half a buzz on”, as Ryhalt would say.

Death in Dulwich is now back on schedule, making further progress on reading that this week. I am hoping to have that read in the next couple of days. That way I can move on to The Girl in the Gallery in good time before the tour for both books.

For the first time in a couple of weeks, I have been listening to Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. Considering the length of time, I haven’t lost the storyline at all. (I would say I haven’t lost the plot, but I can’t say that with any conviction. Some may disagree as well!)

 

Books Discovered

Getting paid is always dangerous. I knew that I wanted to impose a bit of a spending ban for the next couple of weeks, so therefore I went and had a splurge beforehand. I bought three omnibuses; nearly 2,850 pages of small typeset narrative to get through… in future, anyway.

Perhaps I have a problem…

I haven’t read any of Mercedes Lackey’s books, however, I really enjoyed the very brief snippets I flicked through whilst I was in Waterstones.

When it comes to epics, I just can’t help myself! As I have shown through my love of the Discworld novels, I love books set in the same world or Universe, even if they are not directly linked.

 

Also, I found something a little different this week. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of making notes about books after I read them. It’s easier to review them when you have some thoughts fresh in your head. To help me, I bought this little book for that exact purpose. I should be able to keep track of my reading; it’s a perfect place to keep my notes in an organised way! Win-win!

If anyone would benefit from something similar, the link to the item on Amazon can be followed by clicking the picture.

So that’s me, spending ban starts now.

 

Coming Up…

I mentioned an imminent Blog Tour coming up for Ravencry by Ed McDonald. By imminent, I mean my post goes live tomorrow! I really cannot wait to share my thoughts with you on this book! Admittedly, it will be a little strange (and it hurts my OCD slightly) because I haven’t published my review of Blackwing yet. I’ll just have to get on with it.

If anyone is yet to give the series a try, then please, please, PLEASE do!! I cannot recommend it highly enough! If you are looking for an MC that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, is aware of his own flaws and cusses like the best of us, you’ll get on famously with Ryhalt. I sure did. If you want to know more, please check out my post tomorrow.

 

down the tbr holeA couple of weeks ago I posted my first Down the TBR hole post in about six months. I don’t plan on letting that slip again. I’ve already left it too long untended. So, on Thursday I will be re-visiting my TBR and reviewing the next ten books on my list to decide whether they stay or go.

 

Sunday SummaryAs ever, my week will have it’s my usual round-up on Sunday!

 

 

 

 

 

What have you been reading this week?

Reading List - July 2018

Reading List – July 2018

By the beginning of July last year, I had read 30 books – which is an amazing achievement! This year, I’m a little bit slower on 25, but I am still more than happy with that! Bearing in mind that I am now self-hosted and trying to write better quality posts, I think the tradeoff is worth it!

Reading fewer books this year has definitely given me that opportunity to put more of the necessary time into my blog. It does mean, however, that some of the books I planned to read this year weren’t even touched. Therefore, I am dedicating July to tying off some of the loose ends and reading books I should have gotten around to sooner:-

Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery (London Murder Mysteries #1-2)

Goodreads – Death in Dulwich

Goodreads – The Girl in the Gallery

I’m starting July exactly where I left off last month because I have a blog tour coming up for this series. On the 14th July, I’ll be reviewing both Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery. I’ve run over on these because I had a wonderful opportunity to read and review Ravencry by Ed McDonald for Gollancz. However, with a shorter deadline than these two books, I had to put them aside temporarily to fulfill all of my obligations.

I’m currently over half way through Death in Dulwich, so I did manage to get a fair amount of this read last month. The narrative is reasonably easy to follow and Beth is a well-developed character. I am yet to decide if she is a particularly reliable narrator, or just an overzealous woman desperate for the truth. All will pan out in due course, I am sure.

A Darker Shade of Magic

Goodreads – A Darker Shade of Magic

Back in February this year I vowed to pick up A Darker Shade of Magic and experience the writing of V.E. Schwab for myself – only, never got to. This is a series I feel I could really get into, so I need to take the plunge and get reading. I am not putting this off any longer.

The premise of magic and the idea of multiple realities, without really being science-fiction is really interesting. If the ratings on Goodreads are anything to go by, I don’t think I’ll regret reading this book. We’ll just have to see if it lives up to expectation!

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood and Bone is one of my April cast-offs. Conversations are still being had about this book on the likes of Twitter and other social media platforms, and I am intrigued by the magic in the narrative. I have waited too long to pick up this book, and can only hope I enjoy reading it as much as I want to.

There has been a lot of buzz about the book highlighting issues experienced by ethnic minorities. In an interview on Mashable with Toni Adeyemi, she explains that there are references to police brutality and racism within. I’m also really looking forward to seeing a different culture. Reading Children of Blood & Bone will be an entirely new experience for me.

The Mansions of Murder

Mansions of Murder

Goodreads – The Mansions of Murder

March of the ARC’s (aka, my March reading list) was a reasonably long list, and I didn’t get around to picking up this one. This is my last Netgalley read, so once I have reviewed the book I am going to close my account.

This is not the only reason I want to read the book though. I am enjoying a few mystery reads at the moment. Combine this with its historical theme and there you have a book with promise. In my eyes anyway… and that’s what counts, right?

The Eye of the World

the eye of the world

Goodreads – The Eye of the World

This poor book has been on my TBR since 2014 and I STILL haven’t gotten around to it! I’ve re-read the first chapter sample several times. The writing really interests me, but I just can’t seem to commit to picking up the book. I have sampled the audiobook book before to get around this subconscious aversion I have. Unfortunately, I don’t like the narration. I will prefer reading myself for sure. I am now on a mission to read this (at least this year) because my friend Rachael devoured the series herself and recommended it to me.

I’ve already given myself a back-out clause for this month though. I know, I know. Call me awful, whatever, but I have a busy month coming up personally. I have over a week booked off work, but I am visiting family for some of that time. As a result, I can’t promise I’ll spend that time reading.

Obviously, I am going to try to read as much as I can though. Pinky promise.

What is good is that I already have most of these books (I think I only need to buy The Eye of The World), and I am pretty much on a spending ban until then. I’ve already bought myself a few books to make myself feel better about the prospect…

Which books are you picking up this July?

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Book Review: A Conversation with a Cat – Stephen Spotte

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

A Conversation with a Cat is a great introduction to the lives of Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony, especially for those without the opportunity to learn about these remarkably powerful historical figures.

 

A Conversation With A Cat

Goodreads – A Conversation with a Cat

 

Synopsis

Stephen Spotte’s imaginative novel recounts the tales of a scroungy former alley cat named Jinx, whose memories aren’t just his own but those of other cats who existed before him, one of which was Annipe, Cleopatra’s pampered pet. Through Annipe’s eyes the ancient Mediterranean world of Cleopatra and her legendary lovers, Caesar and Antony, spread before us in all its glory, pathos, and absurdity. Jinx reveals these stories telepathically one night to his stoned and inebriated owner just home after gall bladder surgery. Annipe’s memories are bookended by Jinx’s own that detail his early scavenging days in bleak urban alleys.

“Could not stop reading this unique and curious account of a major period in history. Viewing events that shook the ancient world through the eye of a feline makes one want to view today’s news stories through the same lens. Never read a book with such a unique perspective. And it was fun.”—Edward R. Ricciuti, author of Bears in the Backyard

 

My Thoughts

Prior to reading the book, my knowledge of Cleopatra came from Shakespeare. To be honest, my understanding of Shakespeare is sketchy. It always has been. Studying Antony & Cleopatra without a consistent teacher – I had no chance really. Sigh.

I was as good as a complete newbie to this topic. Did I find it interesting? Absolutely! The details don’t bog the story down at all, but a lot of research has gone into the novel. The historical superpowers use their brains and brawn (amongst other things) to vie for power. The kind of things that cause salacious gossip and disgruntled wives. The lavishness and decadence of the ruling class are both enticing and beautifully described; Stephen ensures each scene is deliberately picturesque.

The book is cleverly written to pull off its conversational tone.

A commentary is given by Jinx, (in addition to narrating Cleopatra’s life from Annipe’s memory) which is interesting and charismatically witty. Jinx is a feline with “cattitude” and it definitely shows in the narrative! Naturally, the concept of a cat striking up a conversation with you telepathically is far-fetched. However, the story and circumstances are set up humorously so that it pushes boundaries, but isn’t unbelievable.

 

The perspective offered in this book is truly a unique one. Jinx reminisces about Ancient Egypt, as cats historically were held in higher esteem there. They were worshipped like Gods – unlike him, who finds his freedom and virility catnapped in one fell swoop, as we learn later. You can imagine his tail twitching in agitation even now. The balance between the present day and recounting Cleopatra’s reign is perfect. I would even go so far as to say that even somebody who doesn’t love historical fiction as much as I do could get on with it.

A Conversation with a Cat is funny and approachable to read. I personally really enjoyed the book – the fact that I read it in only two days speaks volumes.

Guest Post Stephen Spotte

Guest Post – Stephen Spotte

I was delighted when Kelly from OpenBooks advised me that Stephen Spotte wanted to contribute a guest post to my blog. I recently read A Conversation with a Cat, his new novel – for which I am writing a review very soon!

Today, the spotlight is on Stephen himself. In his post, Stephen gives us an enjoyable introduction to the novel by telling us about the paws behind the cause. I hope you enjoy reading this post as much as I did!

 


Stephen Spotte

My wife Lucia and I occupy a beach house on a barrier island off Florida’s southwest coast where we share space with a large black cat named Jinx, a selfish creature who alternately ignores us and demands our attention. Cats are world-renowned sack-out artists. The average domestic cat is fully awake about four hours of every twenty-four, and Jinx is no exception. A cat can fall asleep almost anywhere, but most have preferred napping sites, one of Jinx’s being my desk beside the computer. There heat from the desk lamp puts him into a soporific state aptly described as cat-atonic. Having zonked out, Jinx stretches and twitches as I struggle to write, maybe dreaming of plump, slow-footed mice or one-night stands after an evening of dumpster-diving during his former life as a virile tom, king of the urban alleys.

Jinx the cat - Stephen SpotteOccasionally he creates sentences of his own when an errant paw paw comes to rest inadvertently on the keyboard. These usually appear on the screen as zzzzzzzzzz or eeeeeeeeee. Interesting, although not exactly literary keepers. Such episodes of somnolent creativity are disrupted by intermittent arousal when he sits up to blink away the sleep and gives me a raspberry. Once I was prepared and snapped his picture.

We know nothing of Jinx’s kittenhood and early adolescence, having obtained him several years ago at a local animal shelter. No other visitors had shown interest because black cats are considered bad luck, another of those inane superstitions like belief in ghosts that persist no matter the sophistication of our cultural development.

No one working at the shelter could recall exactly how long Jinx had resided there among the dozens of unwanted cats. On the day we visited the record stated only that Animal Control trapped him in an alley. Soon after arriving he was de-balled, de-wormed, de-ticked, de-loused, vaccinated, and put up for “adoption,” an ambiguous term where cats are concerned. Dogs in their slavering servitude look forward eagerly to being “owned,” a concept universally disdained by cats. As solitary and basically anti-social creatures cats accept human companionship only if the arrangement is personally beneficial and doesn’t trample on their self-respect.

At one time in at least one place that respect was returned with astonishing reverence. Egyptians from the first century BCE (before current era) given a glimpse of contemporary American society would be alarmed and confused by how far domestic cats have fallen in the esteem of ordinary citizens. Sure, you can log into social media and see thousands of cute cat pictures, but cats no longer possess the lofty status they enjoyed in Cleopatra’s day.

 

A Conversation with a Cat

A Conversation With A CatMy new novel titled A Conversation with a Cat features and juxtaposes the lives of Jinx and an imaginary pet cat of Cleopatra’s I call Annipe (daughter of the Nile). Jinx gives us his memoir in chapters that bookend Annipe’s tales. As she reports, “Cats were sacred in ancient Egypt, represented by the cat goddess Bastet and worshipped at temples dedicated in her honor. . . . Even when an ordinary household cat died all human members of the family were required to shave their eyebrows as a sign of mourning, and when the head of a household passed away and was mummified his cat was killed and mummified too. Tradition also called for embalming a few mice so the cat would have snacks in the netherworld.” Although cats have become the most popular pets in the U. S. (dogs trail a distant second), they don’t receive universal respect in any modern country, and certainly nobody today worships them. Don’t take this on my word, just ask any cat you meet.

To hear Annipe tell it, “That cats were worshipped and temples dedicated to [Bastet] is certainly no less than we deserve. And the citizens protected us with a fervor to make Bastet proud. I’ll give an example. When Mistress [Cleopatra] was still a young girl a Roman official visiting Alexandria killed a cat accidently, whereupon a mob of enraged citizens attacked him and ripped him apart. Even earlier, in 525 BCE, the Persians led by the general Cambyses III invaded Egypt only to be stopped at the city of Pelusium. Cambyses ordered images of Bastet painted on the shields of his soldiers, at which point Egyptian resistance collapsed. Think of it: the Egyptians surrendered their country rather than see their cats disrespected. How many times has that happened in human history?

“It should come as no surprise that we cats have always considered ancient Egypt the apex of human development and agree unanimously that after Egypt fell to Roman hands your species underwent a steady regression, a reverse cultural evolution. Romans were arrogant. They thought that anyone who didn’t speak Latin was a barbarian, but to Alexandrians they were the barbarians. And through the centuries others followed. Want proof? Look around at the state of the world and don’t blame us cats for what you see.”

Just as Jason sought the golden fleece, perhaps every cat’s ultimate dream is to capture a rodent with gold-colored fur. I say this despite knowing that cats have bi-chromatic vision and therefore are color-blind. Nonetheless Jinx seems to come alert when he sees President Trump pontificate on television, and I must admit that as the president climbs the stairs to board Air Force One the back of his head does resemble the south end of a golden hamster heading north.

 


About the author

Stephen SpotteStephen Spotte, a marine scientist, was born and raised in West Virginia. He has been a field biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station (Vicksburg, Mississippi); curator and later director of Aquarium of Niagara Falls (New York); curator of the New York Aquarium and Osborn Laboratories of Marine Science (Brooklyn, New York); director of Mystic Aquarium (Mystic, Connecticut); executive director of Sea Research Foundation and research scientist at the Marine Sciences and Technology Center, University of Connecticut (Groton, Connecticut); principal investigator, Coral Reef Ecology Program (Turks and Caicos Islands, B.W.I.), and adjunct scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory (Sarasota, Florida).

Dr. Spotte has a B.S. degree from Marshall University, a Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi, and is author or coauthor of more than 80 scientific papers on marine biology, ocean chemistry and engineering, and aquaculture. Field research has encompassed much of the coastal U.S., Canadian Arctic, Bering Sea, West Indies, Indo-West Pacific, Central America, and the Amazon basin of Ecuador and Brazil. His popular articles about the sea have appeared in National Wildlife, On the Sound, Animal Kingdom, Explorers Journal, and Science Digest.

Dr. Spotte has also published 18 books, including three volumes of fiction, a memoir, and a work of cultural theory. He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist of The Wildlife Society and also holds a U.S. Merchant Marine officer’s license.

Dr. Spotte now lives and writes from his home in Longboat Key, Florida

 

Purchase links: OpenBooks     Amazon

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Book Review: The Irrationalist – Andrew Pessin

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

The Irrationalist

Goodreads – The Irrationalist

Who would want to murder the world’s most famous philosopher?

Turns out: nearly everyone.

In 1649, Descartes was invited by the Queen of Sweden to become her Court Philosopher. Though he was the world’s leading philosopher, his life had by this point fallen apart. He was 53, penniless, living in exile in Amsterdam, alone. With much trepidation but not much choice, he arrived in Stockholm in mid-October.

Shortly thereafter he was dead.

Pneumonia, they said. But who could believe that? There were just too many persons of interest who wanted to see Descartes dead, and for too many reasons. That so many of these persons were in Stockholm—thanks to the Gala the Queen was throwing to celebrate the end of the terrible Thirty Years’ War—made the official story all the less plausible. Death by poisoning was the unofficial word on the cobblestone.

Enter Adrien Baillet. A likeable misfit with a mysterious backstory, he arrives just as the French Ambassador desperately needs an impartial Frenchman to prove that Descartes died of natural causes—lest the “murder” in Lutheran Sweden of France’s great Catholic philosopher trigger colicky French boy-King Louis XIV to reignite that awful War. Baillet hesitatingly agrees to investigate Descartes’s death, knowing that if—or when—he screws up, he could be personally responsible for the War’s Thirty-First Year.

But solving the mystery of Descartes’s death (Baillet soon learns) requires first solving the mystery of Descartes’s life, with all its dangerous secrets … None of it is easy, as nearly everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted. Nor does it help that he must do it all under the menacing gaze of Carolus Zolindius, the terrifying Swedish Chancellor with the strangely intimidating limp.

But Baillet somehow perseveres, surprising everyone as he figures it all out—all the way to the explosive end.

 

Introduction

The Irrationalist is perfect for fans of historical fiction, particularly if you like the dish detailed and with a side of pretty gruesome violence.

Adrien Baillet, an impartial Frenchman, investigates the death of Rene Descartes on the orders of Zolindus, second in command to the Queen of Sweden. So long as his findings report death by natural causes, he will be spared a prickly fate himself. With nowhere to turn, he begins his investigation… but the evidence points to anything but a natural demise. With nearly everyone a suspect, Baillet can trust no one. Piece by piece, he unravels the mystery.

 

My Thoughts

I feel sorry for Adrien Baillet. Finding himself stuck between a rock and a hard place, he has to “investigate” Descartes death. He cannot afford to refuse if he wants to keep his head, but without the funds to return home, he can’t escape Sweden either. Young and lacking experience in the ways of court, he is the perfect puppet for Zolindus to manipulate.

I like how flawed Baillet is as a character. Despite having noble intentions, he is weak – cowardly even. What he lacks in strength he makes up for in intelligence. In that, Zolindus underestimates him. A lot of books paint protagonists to be the best of the best, but this is unrealistic. These characters are human and by nature, are not perfect. Baillet’s fear and inability to stand up for himself helps raise the tension of the narrative. With murder and subterfuge lurking around every corner, it is easy to understand his paranoia.

The plot is well developed, which is necessary given the complexity of the murder investigation. Baillet considers the potential motive of every character, but the conclusions drawn aren’t forced in order to make everyone a suspect. Every motive is well explained and backed-up, which I imagine is a very difficult thing to achieve. It would take a lot of knowledge and research to make this novel work so well, which Andrew Pessin has accomplished effortlessly.

Within the narrative of the investigation are chapters that look back into the past life of Rene Descartes, before he makes it to Sweden. Not only do these provide a lot of insight into his relations with other characters, (usually outlining why there was bad blood), but they change the pace of the book to make a refreshing break from the heat of the moment in Sweden.

 

Conclusion

Honestly, I didn’t anticipate the ending at all – which is a measure of a good mystery to my mind. We come to our own conclusions about the murder; but there is nothing like a good 11th-hour plot twist to keep us on our toes.

Sunday Summary June 2018

Sunday Summary – 17th June 2018

Since today is Father’s Day, it won’t be a surprise that I have been spending the day with my Dad. I do every weekend. Not only is Sunday a family day (at least it is here) – it’s also an opportunity to look back and reflect. So firstly, happy Father’s Day Dad! I wouldn’t be half the person I am without you!

(literally)

Whitney Houston not funny

ANYWAY… shall I just get on with what I’ve been reading this week? Yes. Alright. Good.

 

Books Read

Many books have been read this week, my friends.

I’ve been reading The Irrationalist by Andrew Pessin for the past couple of weeks or so and it was great to see this wonderfully detailed novel through to its unexpected conclusion! It took little longer to read because it requires full concentration. As a historical fiction fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and its twists and turns.

The next book I picked up was A Conversation with A Cat by Stephen Spotte. I kid you not, I think I read it in two sittings within 24hrs… or near as dammit. Sticking with the historical fiction genre, this book looks back at the life of Cleopatra from a unique perspective. As a period of history I haven’t really had the opportunity to study, I devoured the content of this book. My experience of Cleopatra comes from reading “Antony and Cleopatra” in GCSE English. An essay was garbled together. Somehow. Sorcery must have been performed, because to this day, I have very little recollection of what happened. I can’t read Shakespeare for love nor money – I keep threatening to teach myself.

Anyone regularly reading my updates may notice that this week, I haven’t included Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. It’s more by chance than conscious decision I haven’t listened to the audiobook at all this week. Instead, I ended up picking up a book not on my list at all! Since I have been making great progress in reading the books on my TBR this month, I felt a little break from the routine was required as a reward. Having recently obtained a copy of Blackwing to review by Gollancz, and with Ravencry due to release shortly… I couldn’t resist picking this up! I have only been reading it this weekend (well, yesterday really) and I am already just over 200 pages in. Who knows how much longer it will last until I’m done? I give it a day, at this rate.

 

Books Discovered

 

This week I’ve been pretty good, and by that I mean I’ve added the books to my list without actually dipping my hand into my pocket. Yet.

Payday is eagerly awaited this month, so I am trying to avoid spending where possible for the next week or so. I’ve got a bit of a redecorating project next week, which turned out to be a little pricier than I anticipated… but oh well. If a job is worth doing and all that.

I have enjoyed reading Brandon Sanderson so far; after spotting The Rithmatist as a suggestion on Amazon, I had to add it to the list.

Eve of Man seems to be doing a few rounds of social media lately, which coincidentally began after I saw the book in a local store. I love the idea of the dystopian type theme, but I’ll admit I have a reservation over the implied love-interest/conflict, which I probably won’t like. I’m a hard-hearted soul! For the moment I am adding this to the list and keeping an eye out for reviews before I get myself a copy. It may not be my cup of tea after all.

I pre-ordered a copy of Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor this week and I was reminiscing over my love of Strange the Dreamer. I decided there and then that I COULDN’T POSSIBLY wait until October for Muse of Nightmares to be released, so I am going to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone this summer. I’ve also heard nothing by praise for this, so I am looking forward to it already!

 

Coming Up…

I refuse to eff this up this week.

down the tbr holeIt’s been a while since I looked at my ever-growing TBR pile, and I really feel I need to tame that monster.  Whittling the list down is hard work, but someone has to do it. I began using a meme, originally hosted by Lia at Lost in a Story and I’ve had moderate success so far. So, I’ll be writing another Down the TBR hole post on Tuesday.

 

The Irrationalist

I want to go ahead and review The Irrationalist whilst the book is fresh in my mind. I am awful in the sense that I don’t really make notes when I read (a bad habit I am trying to remedy). Since there are a few things I really want to cover in my review, it’s best that I write it sooner rather than later. With that in mind, I’m looking to publish my review on Friday this week.

 

 

 

So that’s all from me for now folks! Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I hope to see you all around very soon!

Sunday Summary June 2018

Sunday Summary – 10th June 2018

Even the Sunday Summary post is late this week. Fabulous.

This week has been really topsy-turvy, and I feel like I’m apologising all the time for late posts. I’m probably the only person that notices. So yeah, sorry (again) for the late post. You can blame Windows updates on my laptop for this one – only after all the time and effort, it failed! That’s technology for you eh?

Anywho, here we are. Have you had a good reading week?

 

Books Read

I didn’t read as much as I would have liked this week. Again, I’ve been plagued with IT issues in getting my blog set up on a self-hosted site. Don’t get me wrong, the upgrade is certainly worth it and I’d do it all again, but I still have a number of broken links (250…ish) to fix, and that’s all after a very impatient wait to get my site transferred in the first place!

So, has the hard work paid off? What do you think of the new site?

In the moments I haven’t been inches away from throwing my laptop out of the nearest window, I been buried in one book or another. I’ve been making further progress in reading The Irrationalist by Andrew Pessin – if you want to know a little more of the story you can either check out my comments in last week’s Sunday Summary post or alternatively via OpenBooks. I would have liked to make a bit more progress on this one, but I am aiming to finish this by next Sunday’s post.

I have a Blog Tour coming up for Chilling Tales of the Unexpected, so I have also been reading the first couple of stories (out of the four within). That post is actually coming up next week, so finishing this short book is a priority for the next day or two. So far I am finding these reads really easy to either pick up as a break from heavy material or even in the few minutes before starting work. I don’t think it will take long to read the remainder of the book.

Lastly, Nevernight. Again, this is a book I am listening to and chipping away at in the mornings. I love the tone and humour in it – it really does brighten up my day! I’ll be needing the lift when the alarm goes off at 6:40 tomorrow morning, believe me.

 

Books Discovered

I have seen this book around for a while, but I confess I hadn’t read much about it or the reviews for it until last week. It has been displayed in my local *large chain bookshop* – so I decided I’d see what it was all about.

Aside from the vodka at weekends, this is just me. Routine 9-5 job, run-of-the-mill weekends… week in and week out. I think I will relate to this so much; I only wish I had looked at this sooner.

 

Coming Up…

This week, I think I am going to treat you to a Top Ten Tuesday post! We have had some absolutely fabulous weather over here – it must be a record for the longest dry-spell we have had. With that in mind, I am going to put together my Top Ten Summer reads. Maybe we’ll have some books in common!

 

 

 

So guys, as I mentioned earlier, I’ll be partaking in a Blog Tour this week for Chilling Tales of the Unexpected by Ann Girdharry. I am really looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you about this collection of short stories, so please tune in on Thursday.

 

 

 

And last, but not least, I’ll be wrapping up the week with my usual Sunday Summary post. I have actually quite enjoyed writing this post a little later in the day (writing a weekly wrap up and posting for midday on day seven seems a little strange, thinking about it). I’ve also found it a bit easier to write as I am not so time-pressured. Basically, I’m saying I am going to try this again next week.

 

I hope the wait has been worthwhile and I look forward to seeing you around! If you have a minute to drop me a line, your comments are always appreciated!

Reading List – June 2018

It is that time of the month again folks – a new month and a fresh reading list!

With it being beginning of June, it’s time to bring out the summer reading list! What are you going to be reading this month? Do you spend a summer holiday indulging in a lighter read, or hit the books hard? I personally like to indulge in the latter – with a lot of time to fill and some sun to soak up, I would absolutely read something… heavier.

Having the time to take in all the details and give a trickier book all of my attention, with no distractions, is certainly my cup of tea. Alas, I have no relaxing holidays planned yet, so I will have to content myself dreaming about it.

And I feel like I need a holiday after the past couple of days! I apologise to anyone who has tried to access my site, as you may have been unable to. Remember I promised you some news in my Sunday Summary post? Well, I can finally share it – I am officially self-hosting my blog! I’ve nearly thrown my laptop at the wall in frustration (impatience, basically)… but I got there! So, with a new behind the scenes set up and a new look to boot, I hope the wait was worth it for you! There are some niggles to work out still, like missing images on old posts, but please bear with me! I’ll be working my way through fixes shortly!

So, diversions aside, shall I get on with my reading list now?

 

The Irrationalist – Andrew Pessin

So this is a carryover from last month and I have already made decent progress. Whilst I did start this last month, I had no way of finishing it on time. Sounds like the story of my life at the moment! No matter, I am already around 40% through this historical-themed murder mystery… and I cannot wait for the plot to unfold even further!

 

A Conversation With A Cat – Stephen Spotte

A Conversation With A Cat is the next book on my list for this month. OpenBooks very kindly provided me with a copy in exchange for a review. I have to say I am definitely intrigued by the unique perspective in this book… a tale of history from the eyes of (many) cats! It really isn’t every day you get to say that – that’s for sure!

 

Chilling Tales of the Unexpected – Ann Girdharry

The next book on my list is for a blog tour I am taking part in shortly. Chilling Tales of the Unexpected is a collection of four short stories… and I’ll confess I have already whet my appetite and read the first tale this weekend gone. These are only short and I think will make great material if I want to snatch a quick read in my lunch hour, or even for a break between other books. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on the 12th June, so I do hope you can join me then!

 

The London Murder Mysteries #1 & #2 – Alice Castle

The next two books on my list are also ARC’s because I am reviewing BOTH for another tour next month. Basically, I didn’t want to leave myself short of time to read these (I know what I am like). I’m not taking part in this tour until the 14th July, so I have no excuses! Again, going for the murder mystery theme – I must be going through a phase – haha!

 

The Eye of the World – Robert Jordan

The last book on my list is not an ARC.

Shock horror, right? Actually, I added this book to the list because it has been on my TBR a shamefully long time. Three and a half years, in fact. I know.

I added this first book of a long and established series after a friend of mine completely devoured them in the last years of school. I think so far I have tried a sample of the first chapter, but I always get distracted by other books. I have also tried a sample of the audiobook for it, but frankly, I don’t like the way in which it is narrated. I would much rather read the book myself. So I will. I am putting my foot down, and finally reading The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.

Have you read any of the books on my reading list for this month? I would love to hear from you, as always!

Sunday Summary – 3rd June 2018

Good morning everybody! It’s a beautiful day here; the sun is shining and I have plenty of chirpy visitors on my windowsill! I trust you are all having a pleasant day, whatever you are doing.

I have some good news to share with you soon, because it is something I have been looking into and getting excited about now for weeks…

I’m going to hold my cards to my chest for just a wee bit longer and tell you after the event. I don’t want to jinx anything… so please bear with me on this one. For now though, on to my Sunday Summary…

Books Read

So what have I been reading this week? Well, picking up from last week, I finished reading The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. The magic within makes you wish you were a child again. But the story has a darker side to it – one shaped by war and the effects it has on those that fight for their country.

Following on from this magical read, I picked up The Irrationalist by Andrew Pessin, which remains my current read. It is an intriguing read in which our Protagonist, Adrien Baillet, must pull apart the circumstances of the great René Descartes… death. With many a suspicious circumstance and plenty of enemies, it is difficult to believe that Descartes untimely death is natural, and Baillet can’t trust anybody but himself if he wants the truth. This is proving to be an interesting read so far, so I can’t wait to be able to tell you a little more about it.

I’ve also been listening to more of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff – and I have to say that the humour in this book is really what I need to pull me out of my morning grumpiness sometimes. I love the characters, the story and the narration is just… on point. I’ve already bought Godsgrave with my next credit!

Books Discovered

There’s just a couple of books in this section today!

I was intrigued by the write up of The Hangman’s Daughter, no doubt probably because I am reading a similar kind of murder mystery type genre presently. Not only that, its historical setting and the references to witchcraft drew me in. I think this is a series I will come to love… when I finally get around to reading it!

Caraval – I added this book to my TBR a while ago, and I have finally bought this book. Admittedly, I have done so based on the hype around it; I hope that wasn’t a mistake. I’ve obviously seen a lot of people talking about this book, and Stephanie Garber, so it will be interesting to see what my thoughts are on the book!

Coming Up…

As it is the beginning of June, I’m hoping to share my reading list with you in the next couple of days! Usually I like to commit to days I’ll post, but this week I can’t really. All will be revealed, I promise!

Later on in the week (hopefully Friday) I am planning on sharing an audiobook review with you! This time, I am reviewing The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris… and I really can’t wait to tell you just why I loved this book!
Until next time friends,
Rebecca mono