Tag: Beat the Backlist

Reading List – March 2020

I can’t believe it is the beginning of March and I’m writing my reading list post already! Last month just flew by. I know it’s a short one, but still! I’m happy with my reading progress last month given that I had a few bits on. I didn’t quite finish last month’s reading, so I am carrying one book over.

Shall we take a look at the books on this month’s TBR?

 

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Goodreads – Good Omens

‘Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don’t let you go around again until you get it right.’

People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?

You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as (hopefully) just another hoax. Or you could just try to do something about it.

It’s a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon now finds themselves in. They’ve been living amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.

And then there’s the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist…

 

Good Omens is my carryover. I only just started reading this at the end of last week, so it’s hardly surprising I’ve had to carry it over to this month. That said, I’ve managed to make a good start over the past day or two and I am enjoying the book so far! It’s definitely got the flavour of Terry Pratchett’s humour I love so I can see myself finishing this book pretty quickly!

 

Songbird – Karen Heenan

Goodreads – Songbird

Bess has the voice of an angel, or so Henry VIII declares when he buys her from her father. As a member of the Music, the royal company of minstrels, Bess grows up within the decadent Tudor court, navigating the ever-changing tide of royals and courtiers. Friends come and go as cracked voices, politics, heartbreak, and death loom over even the lowliest of musicians. Tom, her first and dearest friend, is her only constant. But as Bess becomes too comfortable at court, she may find that constancy has its limits.

 

My first blog tour related read of the month is this historical fiction novel. I love the Tudor period of history and I haven’t picked up a book on it in ages! Also, books with politics in them really interest me, which is funny because I hate politics! At least, I hate ours!

 

Helene – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Helene

Dr Helene Vermalle is shaping the conscience of a goddess-level AI.

As a leading civilian expert in Emergent AI Socialisation, she has been invited to assist in a secret military project.

Her role? Helping ViraUHX, the most advanced AI in the universe, to pass through four theoretical development stages. But it’s not easy training a mind that surpasses her in raw intellect. And the developing AI is capable of killing her with a single tantrum.

On top of this, she must prove her loyalty to the oppressive government hovering over her shoulder. They want a weapon. She wants to instil an overriding sense of morality.

Can she teach the AI right and wrong without being categorised as disloyal?

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

 

I’m definitely reading more in the way of science-fiction than I ever have before. I have been fortunate to have picked up some great books recently, which means I keep gravitating back to the genre.

I love the premise of this novel. Artificial Intelligence is definitely relevant right now and there are plenty of people sat on the fence about its benefits and drawbacks. It sounds like this book might touch on that, so I can’t wait to read it and share my thoughts with you in the upcoming blog tour!

 

Tooth & Blade – Julian Barr

Goodreads – Tooth and Blade

Parts 1-3 of the legendary TOOTH AND BLADE series together for the first time!

Two worlds. One destiny.

Dóta has dwelled sixteen years among the trolls. She knows nothing but the darkness of her family’s cave. Her mother says humans are beasts who would slay them all. Yet the gods of Asgard whisper in the night: Dóta is a child of men, a monster unto monsters.

To discover her human side, Dóta must take up her bone knife and step into the light above. Secrets await her in the human realm–beauty, terror, the love of a princess.

Soon Dóta must choose between her clan and humankind, or both worlds will be devoured in fire and war.

A monster sheds no tears.

Norse mythology meets historical fantasy in TOOTH AND BLADE. Step into a realm of haunted meres, iron and magic.

 

I love the idea of a mash-up of Norse Mythology and fantasy. Honestly, it’s so unlike anything I have read before that I wanted to give it a try.

 

Shadows of Self – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Shadows of Self

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.

 

I really enjoyed reading The Alloy of Law back in January and I am keen to make even more progress with this series. It’s been on my TBR for a long time so it’s overdue! I honestly love every single Brandon Sanderson book I have ever read. The Alloy of Law was brilliantly reminiscent of the previous Mistborn trilogy, yet so much more! The change in setting and characters really worked for me. I can’t wait to get back to their adventures!

 

The God Game – Danny Tobey

Goodreads – The God Game

You are invited!
Come inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
It;’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life—does it?

As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.

God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.

 

I was very lucky to receive a copy of this from Gollancz in exchange for a review. Again, I love the science-fiction vibe. If asked what my second hobby was (because reading is my first, obviously),I’d say it’s gaming. I don’t have anywhere near as much time as I used to spend playing games on my laptop, but I do enjoy it now and then!

The premise of The God Game combines my two favourite hobbies, so I have very high hopes that I’ll enjoy it. It reminds me of another book I received by Gollancz and reviewed last year – Ctrl+S by Andy Briggs. That particular book blended these two together, as well as included virtual reality and I really enjoyed it.

So, that’s March’s TBR taken care of. Have you read any of the books on this month’s list? Have any of them caught your eye? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

 

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Reading List – January 2020

It’s the 7th January and I am only just publishing my TBR now! Yes, I’m later than usual, but I had some really fun posts I wanted to share that rounded up 2019 and introduced 2020. In fact, I still have one post left to share! If you want to see which books I rate the best of 2019, keep an eye out on my blog over the next couple of days.

For now though, let’s take a look at which books I am kick-starting 2020 with!

 

The Violinist’s Apprentice – Isabella Mancini

Goodreads – The Violinist’s Apprentice

A dark journey through time.

On a group trip to Rome, musician Clementina is whirled back in time to 17th century Italy.

Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Italy becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. They kiss under an orange tree, and she persuades him to help a poor young boy from the nearby orphanage.

But people begin to notice just how ‘strange’ the young woman at the artist’s side is. She must be a witch!

Meanwhile, in present-day Scotland, her brother suffers a life-threatening accident, and in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor frets about global warming.

Can Clementina find a way to return to the 21st century?

 

It feels weird talking in the sense of “I’m going to be reading this book in January” because, well, I already have! I read this within the first few days of January as I am taking part in a blog tour in a week’s time.

I’m looking forward to sharing my review of this one; it combined an element of science-fiction, time-travel, and historical fiction. Previously, I have really enjoyed how these genres work together and this was no exception for The Violinist’s Apprentice.

 

Agricola’s Bane – Nancy Jardine

Goodreads – Agricola’s Bane

A.D. 84 Northern Roman Britain

Nith of Tarras helps Enya of Garrigill in the search for her kin, missing after the disastrous battle at Beinn na Ciche fought between the Caledonian warriors and the mighty Ancient Roman legions. Enya soon has a heartrending choice to make. Should she tread Vacomagi territory that’s swarming with Roman auxiliaries to find her brother? Or, should she head south in search of her cousin who has probably been enslaved by the Romans?

The Commander of the Britannic Legions and Governor of Britannia – General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola – is determined to claim more barbarian territory for the Roman Empire, indeed plans to invade the whole island, but finds not all decisions are his to make. It increasingly seems that the goddess, Fortuna, does not favour him.

The adventures of the Garrigill clan continue…

In Book 4, the tales of the Garrigill Clan come to readers of the series via members of their second generation of Brigantes – their fight against the oppressive forces of the Ancient Roman Legions and their General Agricola a continuing and unending struggle.

 

Agricola’s Bane is my current read at the time of drafting this post. Again, this read is in preparation for a blog tour which I am taking part in a little later this month. This is the last book of The Celtic Fervour series and I’m at that point where I want to read it to find out how the author concludes events but I don’t want it to end at the same time! You know what I mean?

 

Two – K. J. McGillick

Goodreads – Two

Her husband wants her tucked away in a psychiatric ward. His business partner wants her dead.

Exclusive Paris art gallery owner Isabella Armond’s life spins out of control when she discovers her husband Dr. Adrien Armond has been brokering and trafficking in black market organs and using her beloved gallery to launder the money. Now Europol believes she is a key part of the conspiracy that destroyed Notre Dame, Westminster Abbey and St. Peter’s Basilica.

In a race against time, Isabella must use all the resources at her disposal to clear her name, outwit her husband and salvage her life and business.

 

I have read a number of books by K. J. McGillick and I have enjoyed every single one to date. You guessed it, this is another read and review for a blog tour. That said, I do have a little longer for this as my post is due towards the end of the month! All I can say is thank goodness I started my blog tour reading last month; otherwise I’d be in trouble at this point!!

I love the sound of this particular novel. It sounds so sinister, and makes you wonder who you can really trust!

 

A Crown in Time – Jennifer Macaire

Goodreads – A Crown in Time

Since it was perfected in 2900, time travel has been reserved for an elite, highly trained few. However, on certain occasions, a Corrector is needed to rectify a mistake in the past.

Do your job well, and you’ll go down in history. Fail, and you will be erased from Time . . .

In the far future, a convicted criminal is given a chance at redemption. The Corrector Program at Tempus University is sending Isobel back in time, to the year 1270, to rewrite history.
Her mission? To save the crown of France.

If she follows the Corrector’s Handbook everything should run smoothly. But soon, Isobel finds herself accompanying a hot-headed young noble on his way to fight the infidel in Tunis: a battle Isobel knows is fated to be lost.

Isobel must fulfil her duty, knowing she can never return to her time, knowing one wrong move can doom the future, or doom her to be burned as a witch . . .

The first in an exciting new time-slip series, from the author of the action-packed Time for Alexander series, Jennifer Macaire. A CROWN IN TIME will have you on the edge of your seat from the very first page . . .

 

Jennifer Macaire is also fantastic at bringing together historical fiction and science-fiction. This time last year I was introduced to her as an author and since I have enjoyed a number of books in her The Time for Alexander series.

I am looking forward to A Crown in Time as, like The Time for Alexander series, it combines science-fiction and historical fiction. I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few time-travel related novels lately, so I have high hopes for this one too!

 

Gardens of the Moon – Steven Erikson

Goodreads – Gardens of the Moon

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…

Conceived and written on a panoramic scale, Gardens of the Moon is epic fantasy of the highest order–an enthralling adventure by an outstanding new voice.

 

I set myself a challenge this year to take part in the Beat the Backlist challenge. My aim for the year is to read the 25 oldest items on my TBR (minimum). Gardens of the Moon is number one – and the oldest! Added to my TBR in December 2014… it really is about time I got to it. I have heard amazing reviews of it too, so I’ll be getting stuck in very soon!

 

The Alloy of Law – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – The Alloy of Law

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will.

After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

 

The Alloy of Law is another candidate for my Beat the Backlist challenge! I have a lot of Brandon Sanderson books making up this challenge, so I am trying to spread them out as best as I can.

The Alloy of Law is a second Mistborn series; it has been years since I read the first one! It might be wise to brush myself up on what happened in it, but not essential. It’s set much later than the first series, so it shouldn’t make too much difference that I read the others ages ago!

 

These are Not the Trinity Papers – Vale Zalecki

Goodreads – These Are Not the Trinity Papers

Isaac Beringer knows the thesis he penned during his psychotic fit was utterly absurd and he was right to be laughed out of academia. Yet decades later, he finds himself summoned to the United States by Elias Cohen, the CEO of a multi-billion dollar technological giant who just happens to be his biggest fan. Elias may be beautiful and brilliant, but Isaac knows he must also be extremely batty to consider Isaac’s thesis the greatest scientific work of the 21st century. He soon finds out how deep the rabbit hole goes; a rabbit hole that houses a sprawling neural network of servers designed to emulate human learning, human corpses 3D-printed with flesh and blood, and a monumental amount of effort to resurrect one particular person from the dead. And Elias isn’t even his only fan.

Isaac might have shaken off his insanity, but unfortunately, the world around him has just fallen in love with it.

 

I suspect this will overlap into February, but my last read of the month is one I was asked to review by the author. His request came in after reviewing another science-fiction book, Ctrl+S by Andy Briggs.

Again, this one has a definite science-fiction theme. Maybe I can’t classify this as a lesser-read genre anymore. Anyway, I was really intrigued by the synopsis so I am grateful Vale Zalecki approached me to ask for a review.

It’s a good job I feel motivated with the New Year and a fresh start because I have plenty of reading to be getting on with this month!

What are you reading?

 

 

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My 2020 Resolutions

A new year and a new decade are upon us! 2020 is finally here, and with a new year comes new opportunities. I’ve been considering my New Year Resolutions for a few weeks now… it’s time to share my plans with you all!

I’ve decided I want to take part in a few challenges this year. I have taken part in one of these challenges since 2017, the year my blog began. That’s not the only challenge I am setting myself, however.

 

Goodreads Reading Challenge

As I mentioned above, this will be the fourth year I take part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I will be going into the challenge with a larger goal than previous years though. Every year so far I have massively underestimated myself and set myself a goal that I achieve easily.

Year Original Goal Revised Goal Total Read in Year
2017 20 60 62
2018 40 50
2019 50 70 72

Fair enough, in 2017 I went from reading rarely to almost every day, without fail. Naturally, that goal ended up being really unrealistic and I revised it to 60 books at the end of April that year. That doesn’t really excuse the fact that I have underestimated myself in subsequent years though.

This year, I am going to be more ambitious and set myself a target that I have not reached yet. I came pretty close to it in 2019, but it means trying to set a new personal best.

In 2020, I want to try and read 80 books.

Up until the last couple of days of 2019, I’ve had 75 in my head. However, I think it’s too close to 2019’s final count to pose as a challenge. I don’t want to go too much higher than that; I don’t want to put myself in a position where I feel inclined to deliberately choose shorter books just to complete the challenge. That’s cheating a bit. This is where my second challenge will come into play and prevent that, to an extent…

 

Beat the Backlist

My TBR (To Be Read) list is seriously out of control. Often, I find myself swept up in new releases, blog tours and the like. Consequently, the older books on my TBR get neglected, and they really need some love right now. I’ve been hovering at around 200 books for a long time now and I need to work on that.

That’s why I am taking part in the Beat the Backlist challenge this year. As part of that challenge, I want to take on my TBR by reading, at the very least, the oldest 25 books on it. Sounds very abstract as it is, so to quantify it, here are the 25 books that I am challenging myself to read this year:-

  • Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
  • Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  • Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Talisman by Stephen King
  • Good Omens by Terry Pratchett
  • Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
  • The Psychology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained by Catherine Collin
  • Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
  • The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • The Women’s Room by Marilyn French
  • The Thief Taker by C. S. Quinn
  • The Feedback Loop by Harmon Cooper
  • Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
  • The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
  • Hild by Nicola Griffith
  • The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob Grimm
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

If I can squeeze in some more recent TBR additions as well as the above list, then that’s great. I want to have a lot fewer than 200 books on the TBR this time next year!

 

Borrow From my Local Library

Despite having a library membership, I’m not that good when it comes to making the most of it. I’ve only borrowed three books/e-books from the library in 2019. Dreadful right?

I want to step up on this in 2020 for two reasons. Firstly, I’m conscious that I am going to have to be mindful of my finances this year. There are some pretty big (and expensive) changes planned for this year and I don’t really want to be careless with my money. I won’t begrudge myself the odd book, but don’t be expecting mass book haul posts because it’s not going to happen.

Secondly, the advantage of using the library is that you can branch out of your comfort zone. I’m only really happy to buy books that I really like the sound of, or those by authors I have read before. However, if you’re only borrowing books you can try something new. There’s no obligation to like it and if you really don’t, you can take it back!

Those are my resolutions for the new year! Have you set yourself any resolutions? I’d love to compare them with mine!

 

 

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