Tag: ARCS

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!

Book Review: Empire of Silence – Christopher Ruocchio

***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book, (a huge thank you to Stevie) by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated below are my own*** 

I’ll be honest and say that this book will forever have a special place in my heart, because in terms of my blogging career, it’s a milestone. It’s the first physical ARC sent to me by a publisher for review.

I’ve been looking forward to reviewing this book since the moment I finished reading it. I hope you are sitting comfortably because I have more than enough to say about this epic!

Empire of Silence GR

Goodreads – Empire of Silence

Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.

It was not his war.

On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe started down a path that could only end in fire. The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives–even the Emperor himself–against Imperial orders.

But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.

Fleeing his father and a future as a torturer, Hadrian finds himself stranded on a strange, backwater world. Forced to fight as a gladiator and into the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, he will find himself fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.

 

Wow!!! Books like this really make me question why I don’t read science-fiction more often.

I was captivated by the synopsis and the promise of a tale likened to other prominent books out there. I’ll admit I was both excited but slightly dubious when I saw this likened to Dune by Frank Herbert and Patrick Rothfuss’ fantasy novel, The Name of The Wind.  Rothfuss was one of my favourite authors in my teenage years (I still eagerly await the release of Doors of Stone). Whilst I haven’t actually read Dune, a copy has been sat on my bookshelf for over a year now, but I haven’t read any more than the first few pages. You don’t have to have read the book to know it’s an award winning, revered novel in the science-fiction genre.

Association to popular authors when marketing a new book is no doubt a useful and successful tool. I will be honest and say though that I often wonder, when picking up a book for the first time, if it really is the undiscovered gem it claims to be. I worry that it may not live up to expectation.

I was not left disappointed by Empire of Silence.

The tone and narration style is indeed very similar to The Name of the Wind, so no false comparison was made there. Given that this was one of my favourite elements of that book, I was drawn in to Empire of Silence straightaway.

We are introduced to Hadrian Marlowe – a man who has already trodden the path of destiny and now recounts the tale, warts and all, for the devoted reader. He begins his journey with the best of intentions and the innocence of youth, but inevitably, life does not run smoothly for him. Lending to the visage of a wizened man, Hadrian does not shy away from his less favourable attributes or actions in telling his tale. His faults really bring our protagonist to life, for none of us are perfect after all. I’ve said time and again on my blog that I love a character with a wealth of depth, and Hadrian honestly is that.

I must also credit the evident time and effort that has gone into the structuring of the book and the supporting characters around the main storyline. In a universe based on power and hierarchy, this is inevitably, well.. important. Whilst there are a vast number of families and roles that make up this fictional universe, I didn’t find information dumped or conveyed haphazardly in the narrative. This must have been very difficult to achieve, but it makes a difference for the reader – especially for a book of this size!

The vivid descriptions of worlds truly unknown are beautiful; even the explanations of the advanced technology available to this advanced version of humans were clear. Neither did I find myself at a loss as to what the author was trying to convey, nor was the language used to do so in any way intimidating. The planets themselves may be fictional but society living on them is still governed largely in a way we understand – through power and wealth… faith and when all else fails, fear.

Empire of Silence (Sun Eater #1) is being published on the 5th July this year and I sincerely hope/believe it will become the success it deserves. It’s association to other epics will no doubt perform wonders in helping Christopher Ruocchio launch himself as a successful author in his own right.

It is well deserved, if you ask me.
Rebecca mono

Reading List: May 2018

It’s May.
There – I said it. As much as we all wish for Summer and the warmer climes associated with it (somewhere… far, far away from here perhaps), I just have to ask the question… where has the beginning of this year gone?
We are fast approaching the fairer months of the year (allegedly). Here at home, you can always tell when the preparations begin for the prestigious road races that take place here… patching up near-pristine roads etc. Meanwhile, other roads not on the course are sorely neglected to the point in which they have more craters than the moon.
Ahem. Not that I’m bitter or anything… and that is not what this post is about! Today, I am publishing my reading list for the month of May… so let’s get stuck in!
 

Empire of Silence

Empire of Silence GR

Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.
It was not his war.
On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe started down a path that could only end in fire. The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives–even the Emperor himself–against Imperial orders.
But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.
Fleeing his father and a future as a torturer, Hadrian finds himself stranded on a strange, backwater world. Forced to fight as a gladiator and into the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, he will find himself fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.

Normally, I don’t include books that I end up carrying over from the previous month. Finishing these books should maybe take a day or two, so I usually chastise myself for frittering away time and struggle on to cram those extra pages in to another, normal month of reading.
I don’t think it’s fair to do this to myself this month, on account of having over three hundred pages of this mammoth book left! As much as I love reading, I don’t have a death wish. I know my limit and I am unlikely to finish this in the next day or so.
 

Eternity’s Echoes

Eternity's Echoes.jpg

Aaron was a promising software designer with an upcoming company. He shared a quaint house on the outskirts of town with his best friends; another young man and two girls.
They’d known each other since school, and lived together peacefully for years with few problems.
Travis the newcomer however had a dark way about him, and all of Aaron’s attempts to get along with him had failed.
But just as the household began to settle down again, a strange device with a peculiar attitude entered their lives.
Would it fulfill all of their dreams, or instead become a curse?

Judging by the synopsis, reading this book comes at a perfect time.
I was kindly approached by the author with an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Whilst I enjoy science-fiction, I would say that out of all the genres I take the time to read, it is the one I pick up the least frequently. I worry that the technical knowledge (I distinctly lack) will intimidate me away from enjoying the narrative, but nine times out of ten this isn’t the case at all. It’s almost a bit of an irrational fear.
That being said, I have really enjoyed the Sci-fi books I have picked up in the last year, so I’ll be proud to add this to my collection!
 

Diana Christmas

Diana Christmas

In 1959, Diana Christmas – the beautiful, vivacious redhead – was a major star in Britain. It was her moment. She was on the cusp of making it big in Hollywood. Then, she simply walked away from the limelight. Vanished from an industry that adored her.
Twenty years later, Michael, a young film journalist, arrives at her suburban home and discovers the still vibrant and alluring Diana. Between her sheets, he hears for the first time the reason for her disappearance – a tale of coercion, shame and blackmail.
To his shock, he learns that those who destroyed her career and ruined her life still have their claws in her.
Totally smitten, he promises to help her. But Michael soon finds that the past doesn’t let go easily…
Diana Christmas – A new thriller of desire and betrayal from F.R. Jameson.

My third read of the month is also a review request, so a huge thanks to the author for a free electronic copy of this book to review.
The historical setting and promise of a tale portraying the less-than-glamorous side of fame is what attracted me to this book. If anything in the news over the last few months can be believed, then it would suggest that fame definitely comes with a price and abuse of power. Having not read the book thus far, I can’t truly compare the narrative to the stories we have heard ongoing… but there is enough of a correlation to have piqued my interest.
 

The Toymakers

The Toymakers.jpg

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!
It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.
For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

I was delighted to have been accepted for this read from Netgalley. This is the first book I have actually been accepted for on the site, and it’s about time I read it. Who doesn’t love a tale of childlike magic in the midst of war to lighten your spirits?
 

The Irrationalist

The Irrationalist

An historical murder mystery based on real events.
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.

The synopsis for this book is incredibly long, but I think the first line sums up the book, and just why it is right up my street. An historical murder based on real-life events.
I have been provided with an e-copy of The Irrationalist by Open Books at my request, and I really can’t wait to get stuck in! I love historical fiction, I love political intrigue… and I love a good old whodunit. Check, check, and check.
So guys, those are my reads for this month! What are you reading?
Rebecca mono

Book Review – Ekata: Fall of Darkness – Dominique Law

*** I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are completely my own***

Ekata

Goodreads – Ekata: Fall of Darkness

On Ekata, a utopian world where violence is unthinkable, Asher has been plagued with visions of death and darkness since childhood. On his eighteenth birthday he is confronted with a life-changing prophecy which tells of a threat not only to his world, but to Earth as well.

Alexis has always felt she doesn’t belong. When an extraordinary stranger appears on her doorstep, it raises more questions than answers. If everything she thought she knew about herself was a lie, who is the real Alexis? And how could she possibly be part of an ancient prophecy?

Through startling transformation and grief, the pair defy all expectations. But when everything changes, can Asher’s humanity survive? The fate of both worlds may depend upon it.

 

I don’t think there is any way I can particularly dress up this review. I am, after all, in the business of being honest so I’ll just come out with it.

Overall, I didn’t like this book at all. I’ll start with what redeeming qualities the book did have, which brought my rating of the book up from a 1 star to a 2 star review.

I liked the concept of the world of Ekata – a world without violence. The main point of conflict within the story is a man’s desire to prevent violence on Earth… but to do so he would remove the free-will of all people. I like how the morality of such an action is called into question and how this drives the resistance party.

The tale was also well written; even if I didn’t think all that much of the content of the story all the time, what was on the page was outlined clearly so that the story was easy to follow. This also proved useful because I found myself picking it up and putting it down quite regularly, but I wasn’t hindered by this at all. I also quite enjoyed the descriptions of nature and the world-building.

Inevitably, we were going to get to the parts I didn’t like… fairly quickly, unfortunately.

This book features so many unoriginal fantasy tropes that it is not even funny. I feel like I talk about this a lot, but is it too much to ask for a little originality? This book has the classic Good vs Evil, the inexperienced young one(s) exploring their Coming of Age to face-off against the veteran… and a quest to fulfil a prophecy in order to achieve all this, tied in a neat little package with a double bow. Oh, and there’s a host of magic and a unicorn to boot! Hooray!
To say I didn’t know that some of these elements were going to play a part would be a lie; I knew it was a prophesised ‘coming-of-age’ type tale. For me though, the straw that broke the camel’ back was the budding relationship between our two MC’s.

Now, I’m a girl and I’ve been a teenager, I know how all this raging-hormone stuff works. You break out in a ridiculous amount of spots (always on the worst day imaginable) and have more mood swings than hot dinners. I can hand on heart say that if a complete stranger arrived on my doorstep, turned my world on its head and was claiming that the fate of another world rested on my shoulders, I would slam the door, bolt it and call the police I would not even remotely consider how attractive he was. Call me frigid, soulless, or even a liar if you like, but I wouldn’t… given that this is pretty much the first thought that pops into our second MC’s head from the moment we meet her, I didn’t like or relate to Alexis at all.

Unfortunately, whilst a lot of the personality traits Alexis shows in the book are indeed present in young, angsty teenage girls, the only depth of character to this tempest of emotion is a love of horses… and there is just something about girls that love horses that just smacks of “spoilt brat”. There is a quote by Terry Pratchett that I aptly read only recently, which I think sums up the whole situation entirely:-

“There is a type of girl who, while incapable of cleaning her bedroom even at knife point, will fight for the privilege of being allowed to spend the day shovelling manure in a stable.”
-Terry Pratchett, Soul Music

Asher was more tolerable than Alexis, although nothing particularly grabbed me about his personality either. I wanted to read his chapter POV’s instead of Alexis’ because I didn’t hate his, not because I was looking forward to them.

My final bugbear about the book is, as chronology would suggest, the ending. Given the whole prophecy and the weight resting on Asher and Alexis’ shoulders, you would expect something to happen, right? It has so obviously been set up for a sequel, but it felt like I endured 400 pages for nothing of consequence to happen. I was left sorely disappointed.

So, ladies and gentlemen, to summarise – if you like reading about moody, insecure and overly-hormonal teenagers, spending every free moment not training to save the world fawning over each other, then this book is definitely for you! I have no problem with negative emotions in books, if it is written well and you are truly immersed with the character. If, however, you find yourself carrying their emotional baggage like an albatross around your neck, or find them just plain bad company like the last party guest that just won’t leave, it makes for very difficult reading.

This book was not my cup of tea at all, which is a shame.
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 4th March 2018

Happy Sunday everybody!!
I hope you got lots of reading done this week – a lot of people would have had the opportunity with the weather being the way it was. My parents were in Derbyshire and they experienced 8-10 inches of snowfall… and whilst the pictures are lovely I wouldn’t like to be stuck in it!!
Alas, here at home we only had a dusting of snow, so there were no reading days for me this week. *silently wallows in despair*
I could have used the time to finish my February TBR, but never mind. I set myself the target to read five books, but only made it about halfway through book four on the list. That being the case, I’ll have to sincerely apologise to ADSOM fans, because I am going to have to postpone this read for a short while.
Moving on to cheerier topics, I treated you all to two reviews this week! First I posted my review of Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio, in preparation for reading StoneKing for the ongoing Blog Tour. Then on Thursday I took part in another Blog Tour for P.J Reed’s The Torcian Chronicles. I would really appreciate if you could take a look at those if you haven’t already.
Finally on Friday I published a brief Reading List for March, called March of the Arcs! As the name would suggest, this month I am dedicated to reading some ARC’s received. The first book on my list was added at the request of the author, the second a Blog Tour (19th March) and the final three are Netgalley downloads that I have had for shamefully too long!
 

Books Read


 
This week I have been attempting to finish Living On A Rainbow by Calvin Wade. It is the last book that I managed to start in the month, and I am really trying to finish it so as to not set myself too far back for this month. I’m really enjoying it so far though, so hopefully I’ll be able to share my thoughts with you about it soon.
I also made a brief start on Copper Sky by Milana Marsenich, which the author has kindly asked me to read and review. Thank you to both her and OpenBooks for the opportunity and I can’t wait to get stuck in further!
On the audiobook front, I began listening to An Almond for A Parrot yesterday, whilst I was doing my housework of all things. I like to listen to books when I am doing mindless tasks, as it gives you something to concentrate on. I added this book to my TBR last year and it’s perfect to listen to. I love the narrator’s way of voicing characters – she has really brought them to life.
 

Books Discovered

This week I was *reasonably* tame.
By reasonably, I mean I bought two books… but here me out…
Over the next year or more, I am looking to save a lot more money than I do currently. I’m actually quite good at saving normally, but if I am saving for anything “extra” and I don’t see the reward in the near future, I find it more difficult to not spend money for that purpose.
So, knowing what I am like and knowing that I am looking to be saving this money over a long spell, I have decided to set up a reward scheme for myself. I have set myself a savings target every month, starting in April. Basically, if I save my target every month I am going to buy myself a Penguin Classics book as a reward! That way I get to grow my collection and see the benefits of saving my money. I think it’s a good idea and it’ll work for me.
So, finally, to that end, I started my collection to set the wheels in motion with Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

 

Coming Up…

Next week is blessedly going to be less manic and I am hoping to get plenty of reading done. I only have one post planned for you, which is a review of the first audiobook I listened to – The Stand by Stephen King.
I also hope to invest more time into discovering new blogs to follow this week – so I look forward to reading your posts soon! If anyone is feeling so kind as to post a link to their blog, either here or on my Twitter page, I would greatly appreciate it!!
Rebecca mono

Reading List: March 2018 – aka March of the Arcs!

I cannot believe it is March already!!
Spring is just around the corner, although if the weather is anything to go by you wouldn’t know it!! In an ideal world, it would be the kind of weather to stay at home in and snuggle up with a book – wouldn’t you agree?!
Unfortunately, living in your own Fantasy world doesn’t pay the bills, so I have to dig out every single pair of gloves I own and wear them simultaneously to venture into the frozen wastes to earn my keep *sigh*
We all have to have something to look forward to when the day is done though. I’ve spoken recently about the mini reading slump I have found myself in lately, and I have been trying to come up with some ideas for how to beat it. I have decided a change of routine is probably a good start, so I came up with an idea called March of the Arcs! I have a few (plenty of) arc’s due for review, so not only is this the change of routine I think I need, I hope the boost to my rating on Netgalley should also lift my spirits!! Fingers crossed I’ll also get introduced to some lovely new books too!
 
Copper Sky
Copper Sky
I was kindly asked to review this title by the author, who had seen a couple of my other reviews for OpenBooks… so thanks for asking me! So far I have read the first chapter and  I can’t wait to get stuck in to the rest!
 
StoneKing
StoneKing
Finally I get to read the much anticipated third book of this series!! I have been DEVOURING the previous books in order to catch up and participate in the current blog tour. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you all on the 19th March!
 
Beowulf
Beowulf
I think this was one of my first downloads from Netgalley and I really want to give it a try. Admittedly, it isn’t the sort of book I would read normally – poetry isn’t really my bag, but since it is such an iconic piece of literature I feel I have to have a go! If nothing else, I am sticking to the brief of trying something new and breaking routine!
 
Ekata: Fall of Darkness
Ekata
This is also a Netgalley download that I have sat on for a few months and really need to read. It’s a kind of dystopian fantasy, as I recall… and both of these are genres I enjoy.
 
The Mansions of Murder
Mansions of Murder
This is my most recent Netgalley “Read Now” download, and it’s a historical fiction/murder mystery. I can’t say I have read anything like it before and I hope, if I enjoy it, I’ll be picking up more books in the genre. I am currently toying with the idea of trying Agatha Christie’s works, so this is my way of dipping my toes into the water, so to speak.
 
I hope you don’t mind that this list isn’t particularly detailed – it’s been a busy week for me here. If you have any questions or want to know more, please drop me a comment below!
For now though, have a wonderful Friday and a lovely weekend!!
Rebecca mono