Tag: Bernard Cornwell

Sunday Summary – 9th August 2020

Hey everyone and welcome back to another weekly update post! We’ve had a glorious weekend here and I’ve made the most of it – I’ve even caught the sun a little! Oops!

At the beginning of the week, I shared my reading list for August. It looks a little more ambitious than I have been recently, but it isn’t really. It just so happens that I have a couple of short books to read for blog tours, and the next few books going towards my Beat the Backlist challenge are also shorter. It works out quite nicely as I am looking to get back on track towards my reading goal if I can. If you haven’t checked out that post yet please do – have you read any of the books on my list?

In my First Lines Friday post I set myself the tricky challenge of featuring a non-fiction novel. As a general rule I don’t read many, so I had a limited pool of books to find an interesting opening for. I think I did pretty well and I’m pleased with my book choice!

 

Books Read

It’s going to get a cursory mention since I did technically finish it after last week’s post; I read the last 5% of The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell last Sunday night.

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I was around 40% through This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. I said I didn’t think it would take long to finish and I was right. I finished this in a matter of days and I’ve already returned it to the colleague who loaned me their copy! This is probably the best non-fiction book I have read in a long time – I seriously recommend it if you haven’t read it. It’s hilarious, equally sad and really highlights the day to day struggle of being on the frontline in the NHS.

I’ve also read Grubane by Karl Drinkwater in its entirety this week. I finished this whilst sat out in the garden this morning in fact. It’s a sci-fi novel I am reviewing for a blog tour later this month. It’s a really interesting side story in the Lost Solace universe. At around 114 pages it was really easy to read in a couple of sittings!

 

Books Discovered

I have actually added one book to the TBR this week. After reading and returning This is Going to Hurt to my work colleague, he mentioned that he thought the author had also published another Christmas themed book (yes – I just said the “C” word in August). I looked it up and he was right – it’s called Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas.

I know what I might be adding to December’s reading list…

 

Coming Up…

Next week I’m going to attempt to share a book review that I started drafting a couple of weeks ago. I tried on a couple of occasions to put my thoughts down for Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, but I wasn’t happy with it. I love the book and the series so I wanted my review to reflect that… but it didn’t. For whatever reason, I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind at the time. I’m going to start again from scratch and fingers crossed I’m happy with the end result this time!

Later in the week, I am going to be sharing an interview with an author I featured as part of a blog tour. I read and reviewed Justice Gone by Nicholas Lombardi Jr in April 2019 and since then, the book has gone on to win multiple awards – it’s fifth just recently! In my post I’ll be sharing an interview with the author about the book, his inspirations and writing style, just to mention a few topics!

On Friday I’ll be publishing my next Shelf Control post. You might be pleased to know that I am coming to the end of my classics run (finally!) I hope you can join me and we can talk about the next book on my list.

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary update! What have you been reading this week?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 2nd August 2020

Happy Sunday everyone and welcome back to today’s Sunday Summary post! I hope you are all keeping well in these strange times? It’s fair to say I had a pretty good week overall; I managed a decent amount of reading as well as crocheting another blanket I’m working on. After several days of trying, I even got out into my back garden (finally)! I put out some garden furniture a couple of weeks ago now and in typical Manx fashion, the weather hasn’t been great since!  It was lovely and warm today though, so managed to get out for a read this morning.

This week’s posting schedule ended up being lighter than I intended. My Shelf Control post went live on Friday as planned, but my scheduled review of Days of Blood & Starlight didn’t. I sat down a couple of nights and put some time into getting my thoughts down, but I struggled with it if I’m honest. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to do it and in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth writing garbage for the sake of content. The book is fantastic and I want my review to do the book justice, so after a couple of attempts I figured shelving it and coming back to it later was for the best.

 

Books Read

I made a lot better reading progress this week. In last week’s Sunday Summary post I shared that I had only read around 30% of The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell during the week. That’s not my worst effort by any means, but still, it hasn’t been difficult for me to step up either. As of writing this post, I am 95% through and since the last 5% is only going to take me 20-25 minutes to finish, that’ll be done by tonight!

In addition, I also started reading This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. You may recall I mentioned this in last week’s Sunday Summary post as a work colleague has loaned it to me. Guys, honestly it’s hilarious! I don’t read many non-fiction books but this is proving to be a favourite so far! I’m around 40% through the book at the moment and I’m going to finish it after The Burning Land. I expect I’ll be finishing it quite quickly!

 

Books Discovered

For the first time in a few weeks, I have nothing to add here. It’s a good job really… my TBR pile is getting bigger instead of smaller!

 

Coming Up…

My first post of the week has to be my Reading List for August. Does anyone else think it’s scary that it is August already? I’ll be sharing my list either tomorrow or Tuesday, so please keep an eye out for that.

Later in the week, I’ll be sharing another First Lines Friday post. The last couple of times I have done this I have set a theme for my book selection. It makes it a bit more of an exciting challenge to find a book that meets the criteria. So, I’ll be setting a theme again for next week’s post. For this post, I have decided on a theme of non-fiction books. I don’t read much non-fiction so this really is a challenge – but one I’m looking forward to!

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary update. What have you been reading?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 26th July 2020

Good evening and welcome back to another Sunday Summary update from me! Have you had a good week? I’ve actually quite enjoyed mine, although you might laugh at me when you know the reason why. After months of disruption, I finally went back to work this week. I never thought I’d be saying that I looked forward to going back to work, but I was! It has been nice to get a sense of normality back.

As well as going back into work this week, I’ve been busy doing bits around the house and visiting my aunt as it was her birthday. I had originally planned for my audiobook review of Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman to be published earlier in the week, but this was eventually posted on Thursday. On Friday I shared another First Lines Friday post. This week I had fun selecting a book to feature from my physical bookshelves!

 

Books Read

Between going back to work, my social life, blogging and then several hours doing jobs around the house, I’ve been a busy bee this week! As such, I haven’t really gotten much reading done. I have made progress with The Burning Land, so I am now 36% of the way through the book compared to around 7%. I didn’t quote the percentage in my Sunday Summary dated 5th July, but I’m fairly sure that is where I got to. It’s not my best effort, but it could be worse too. I’ll be taking this up to bed with a cup of tea tonight, so I’m hoping to get to around 50% before I turn in.

 

Books Discovered

My work colleagues know that I am a little book mad and one of my teammates was telling me about a book he read during lockdown. He said that he isn’t much of a reader, but he read This Is Going to Hurt – Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay in one sitting. It was that good. He said it’s the kind of book that has you in hysterics one minute and nearly in tears the next. I was already sold on giving it a try. The next day, he had left his copy of the book on my desk to let me borrow which is really, really nice of him. You guys can guess what I’ll be reading soon…

 

Coming Up…

Since I have an abundance of reviews to write, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on another book in the next few days. Next on my list to review is the second book of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I really loved this book so you can expect a glowing review!

Later in the week, I’ll be sharing another Shelf Control post. As I think is apparent from my recent Shelf Control posts I went through a phase of adding classic, iconic novels to my TBR. Next week’s feature is no exception, and it’s probably a book that a number of you have already read! I’m a wee bit behind…

Although I have less ‘other business’ next week, I’m keeping the blogging schedule a little light. I’m going to try and catch up on my reading, but these posts should keep you entertained until next week’s Sunday Summary update.

Have a good one!

 

 

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Reading List – July 2020

I can’t believe I am writing yet another reading list post. Where is the year going? Don’t get me wrong, with this year’s track record it’s not a bad thing, but still! We’re now over halfway through the year, and I’m definitely not half-way through my reading challenges. Oh well, maybe that’s a discussion for another post, but I’m not beating myself up over it.

For now though, shall we jump into the next few books I am planning to read over the next month?

 

Chimeborn – Daniel Curry

Goodreads – Chimeborn

Welcome to Whitby, the quaint, magical town on the sea. Its ruined Abbey watches over from the East Cliff, broken and long since abandoned. However a magic within watches over Darcy Colben and his friends – the Chimeborn.

Born in the witching hour of midnight and gifted with magical sight, Chimeborn can see the Abbey for what it really is. A centuries old academy for their kind, and home to the Council of Chime. The power of Saint Hilda still resides in Whitby and this power has been shattered among the modern Chimeborn. A battle brews for control of the ancient magic, and sides will need to be chosen by all.

Ideal for strong young readers, and an enjoyable story up to young adult, this tale of power and growing up will leave you desperate to explore the shores of the north-east of England and find the magic for yourself.

 

I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting to carry this book forward to this month, but here we are. I had to cut back a lot of my jobs around the house, as well as hobbies in order to study for an exam. As it happens, I actually sat that exam this morning and the hard work paid off, so it was worth it! I still have around two-thirds of the book to finish, but that equates to a couple of hours reading time, so not a huge thing.

 

The Burning Land – Bernard Cornwell

Goodreads – The Burning Land

The enemy is massing on the borders, a united force for once.

The king, a man of many victories, is in failing health, and his heir is an untested youth.

Uthred, the king’s champion, leads his country’s forces to war, but his victory is soured by personal tragedy and by the envy of the king’s court. So he breaks with the king and takes off for the land of his birth, determined to resist all calls for his return. That is, until one unexpected request…

This is the making of England brought magnificently to life by the master of historical fiction.

 

Despite not finishing Chimeborn, I did actually start The Burning Land – the last book on last month’s TBR. I was confident this was going to be a carryover when I wrote last month’s TBR, so its reappearance isn’t a surprise.

A few nights ago I did allow myself a break from studying to have a ‘fun’ read before bed, but I was in the mood to start this book. I’ve read the first few chapters, so I’m 7% of the way through at the moment. I’m optimistic I will get to finish it this month!

 

Grace & Serenity – Annalisa Crawford

Goodreads – Grace & Serenity

Living on the streets is terrifying and exhausting. Grace’s only comforts are a steady stream of vodka, and a strange little boy who’s following her around.

At nineteen, Grace has already had a child and endured an abusive marriage. But she’s also had her baby abducted by her vengeful husband and been framed as a neglectful mother. Even her own parents doubted her version of the story. So she did the only thing that made sense to her—run away.

The streets are unforgiving. Winter is drawing in. And Grace isn’t prepared for the harsh realities of survival. At her very bleakest, a Good Samaritan swoops into her life and rescues her. With a roof over her head and food in her stomach, she longs to see her baby again.

But nothing ever comes for free.

 

I was really glad to be invited onto the blog tour for this book because doesn’t it sound so sinister?! I’m intrigued to read more and find out what it’s all about! I recently read another novel with a strong theme of abuse and it was written really well. I hope this is just as good, because if so, I am bound to enjoy it!

 

The Dead Tell Lies – J  R Kirwan

Greg Adams, a criminal psychologist at Scotland Yard, specialises in bringing serial killers to justice. He tracks down a spree serial killer nicknamed the Divine, who has already killed six teenage girls and is about to kill a seventh. Greg works out the location where he is hiding and joins a raid. The police capture the Divine and save the girl, but on the very same night, Greg’s wife is brutally murdered by another serial killer, known as the Dreamer.

A year later, unable to bring the killer to justice, Greg has quit his job and is ready to end it all, when he receives a phone call from a man who tells him the Dreamer is dead, and that he didn’t kill Greg’s wife, Kate.

Greg returns to Scotland Yard to work for Superintendent Chief Detective Donaldson in the hope he can re-examine the case with the help of two new detectives, Finch and Matthews.

As Greg delves into the case further, he becomes more convinced that the Dreamer wasn’t the man responsible for his wife’s murder.

​But if it wasn’t the Dreamer, who was it?

In order to solve the mystery around his wife’s murder, Greg is going to have to delve even deeper into the mind of a terrifying psychopath. And this time he might not make it back in one piece…

 

It has been a little while since I’ve read a crime thriller, so I’m looking forward to taking part in this publication blog tour. I’m a sucker for a psychology element to a novel! More details about the book are being published closer to the publication date, including the cover. So, I can’t share that with you right now, hence the placeholder image. Sorry guys!

 

Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel

Goodreads – Sleeping Giants

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – the object’s origins, architects, and purpose unknown.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history’s most perplexing discovery-and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

 

I’m going to try my best to get to this last book on the TBR, but as with The Burning Land in last month’s reading list – if I manage to start it I’ll be happy. In theory, I do have a bit more free time coming up so there isn’t any reason why I wouldn’t get round to this. I picked Sleeping Giants as the genre varies from the books already on the TBR, but also as it will count towards the Beat the Backlist challenge I am taking part in this year. I’ll admit, I’ve written off completing it, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up on it entirely!

Have you read any of the books on this month’s reading list? What are you reading?

 

 

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Reading List – June 2020

Hey guys and welcome to June’s reading list!

No surprises this month, I am actually setting a reading list this time. It was very unusual not setting one last month, but definitely the right decision to make. I had more than enough on my plate with moving house and getting tidied up afterwards without pressuring myself to read as much as possible in between.

The truth is I am going to be working on various bits and pieces in the next few months. Almost the entire house still needs redecorating for example, and that’s going to take time to do. I’m also supposed to be taking an exam in a month’s time, but that’s uncertain at the moment. The venue has cancelled pretty much all exams right now, but with one corona case left and thirteen days since our last positive testing, I’m hopeful that we will beat the stinking virus and the situation may change. Whether it happens or not, I’m still preparing for it now, so that’s more time I have to set aside for it.

Long story short, yes I am setting a TBR… but it’s not going to be a long one. I don’t want to overburden myself or lose focus on home improvements because that’s more important. I love my reading and my blog, but I know that taking a ‘step back’ is what’s needed in the short term. If I do manage to read more than I expect – great! Equally, if I don’t, I’m not going to kick myself. I’m already 6 books behind schedule so I’m very unlikely to hit this year’s target of 80 books. I was on track before the move happened, but not anymore and I doubt I’ll claw it back. Never mind.

So, enough ramble… shall we check out my TBR?

 

A Dance with Dragons pt 2 – After the Feast – George R. R. Martin

Goodreads – A Dance with Dragons

The future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance.

In King’s Landing the Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister, awaits trial, abandoned by all those she trusted; while in the eastern city of Yunkai her brother Tyrion has been sold as a slave. From the Wall, having left his wife and the Red Priestess Melisandre under the protection of Jon Snow, Stannis Baratheon marches south to confront the Boltons at Winterfell. But beyond the Wall the wildling armies are massing for an assault…

On all sides bitter conflicts are reigniting, played out by a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves. The tides of destiny will inevitably lead to the greatest dance of all.

 

This entry probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you, since I am part way through the book from last month. I’ve read about 140 pages so far, so I’ve made decent progress… but also a good way to go too. I’m such a fan of the series that I don’t find these difficult to read. Some long and complicated books can feel like a bit of a slog, but A Game of Thrones is an old friend to me at this point. I can pick them up and put them down really easily as I know so much about the plot, characters etc from earlier reads and the TV show, that it’s not new content to learn. Finishing this second part will complete my re-read of the series, which has been long overdue.

 

Never Ever Tell – Kirsty Ferguson

Goodreads – Never Ever Tell

She’d do anything for her boy…

Vanessa Sawyer knows all about pain. She’s felt it every day since marrying the boy who fathered her baby in high school. All he’s meant are broken bones, broken heart and broken dreams. But he also brought her the love of her life. When her son Wren was born, her baby boy was her salvation.

Vanessa watches Wren grow and become a young man she can be proud of. Until one night everything changes, including Wren. One night that her son refuses to speak of. Now Vanessa can’t rest, not until she uncovers the secret that her son has been hiding from her.

Will she find the answers she’s searching for or will her quest for the truth take her to a dark place where all hope is lost?

One evil act. One tragedy. Lives destroyed forever.

 

Although I have a reduced TBR, I am taking part in a blog tour this month. Just the one. I loved the sound of Never Ever Tell and from what I’ve read about it, the book contains some pretty mature themes. If you don’t like reading about domestic violence or rape then you probably don’t want to read either this book or my review of it on the 22nd June. The last book I read on the topic of rape actually made my Top Reads of 2019 list, so I have high hopes I’ll enjoy this one!

 

Chimeborn – Daniel Curry

Goodreads – Chimeborn

Welcome to Whitby, the quaint, magical town on the sea. Its ruined Abbey watches over from the East Cliff, broken and long since abandoned. However a magic within watches over Darcy Colben and his friends – the Chimeborn.

Born in the witching hour of midnight and gifted with magical sight, Chimeborn can see the Abbey for what it really is. A centuries old academy for their kind, and home to the Council of Chime. The power of Saint Hilda still resides in Whitby and this power has been shattered among the modern Chimeborn. A battle brews for control of the ancient magic, and sides will need to be chosen by all.

Ideal for strong young readers, and an enjoyable story up to young adult, this tale of power and growing up will leave you desperate to explore the shores of the north-east of England and find the magic for yourself.

 

A long time ago I reviewed Daniel Curry’s first book, The Kitsune in the Lantern and really enjoyed it. His books are aimed at readers far younger than I am, but I don’t care, I enjoyed it anyway! Chimeborn is the start of a new series and I’m looking forward to reading the book and letting you know my thoughts.

Chimeborn has been on my review request list for a little while, and I figured a light, short read is the sort of thing I need right now! The synopsis sounds great and on a good night, I can probably read it in one sitting – two tops!

 

The Burning Land – Bernard Cornwell

Goodreads – The Burning Land

The enemy is massing on the borders, a united force for once.

The king, a man of many victories, is in failing health, and his heir is an untested youth.

Uthred, the king’s champion, leads his country’s forces to war, but his victory is soured by personal tragedy and by the envy of the king’s court. So he breaks with the king and takes off for the land of his birth, determined to resist all calls for his return. That is, until one unexpected request…

This is the making of England brought magnificently to life by the master of historical fiction.

 

The Burning Land is the fifth Saxon’s Stories novel by Bernard Cornwell. This series has fast become a favourite of mine; I love the characters and the setting, and it’s well written and entertaining too!

I’ll be happy if I round off the month having started but not finished this book. Like I said, i don’t want to take on too much. I’m already well acquainted with the series so I should be able to jump in nice and easily, despite not picking up the series for just over a year!

That’s my reading list for June folks! Have you read any of these books? Do any catch your eye? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Reading List – May 2019

We are just over a third of the way through the year – isn’t that a scary thought?! Yes, it’s time to publish another reading list; I have lots of plans this month. My recent time off has got me kind of excited and slightly ambitious about this TBR. I have lots of books that I want to pick up now and in order to achieve my goal, I’m thinking of experimenting a little more with reading more than one book at once. This worked really well for me recently, so why wouldn’t it in the long term?

I’m also excited to be picking up more books that aren’t part of blog tours. I am only taking part in one tour this month (in stark contrast to the four I did last month). It affords me more freedom to choose books I have wanted to pick up for some time! I fully expect my last book of the list is going to appear on next month’s list too – it’s an epic in its own right.

 

Sword Song – Bernard Cornwell

 

“Bernard Cornwell ranks as the current alpha male of testoterone-enriched historical fiction….This satisfying tale leaves you hungry for more of Uhtred’s adventures.” -USA Today

The year is 885, and England is at peace, divided between the Danish Kingdom to the north and the Saxon kingdom of Wessex in the south. Warrior by instinct and Viking by nature, Uhtred, the dispossessed son of Northumbrian lord, has land, a wife and children-and a duty to King Alfred to hold the frontier on the Thames. But a dead man has risen, and new Vikings have invaded the decayed Roman city of London with dreams of conquering Wessex…with Uhtred’s help. Suddenly forced to weigh his oath to the king against the dangerous turning side of shifting allegiances and deadly power struggles, Uhtred-Alfred’s sharpest sword-must now make the choice that will determine England’s future.

 

I’ve recently watched Season 3 of the TV adaptation, The Last Kingdom, and it has re-ignited my love for the story! I last picked up the series nearly two years ago now – June 2017. That’s far too long! I had barely started my blog at that point.

 

Son of the Moon – Jennifer Macaire

 

Can you face the consequences of cheating the Fates? Alexander the Great journeys to India, where he and Ashley are welcomed with feasts and treachery. With their son, Paul, being worshiped as the Son of the Moon, and Alexander’s looming death, Ashley considers the unthinkable: how to save them and whether she dares to cheat Fate?

 

This read is my one and only blog tour of the month. I have read the first two books in the series already, The Road to Alexander and Legends of Persia already. I’m really enjoying the series so far; I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say that I know very little of the time period itself. Whilst it’s great to visit favourites (Tudor History, for example), it’s also refreshing to try something new. This is a gamble that really paid off on this occasion!

 

Seventh Decimate – Stephen Donaldson

 

Fire. Wind. Pestilence. Earthquake. Drought. Lightning. These are the six Decimates, wielded by sorcerers for both good and evil.

But a seventh Decimate exists–the most devastating one of all…

For centuries, the realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war, with sorcerers from both sides brandishing the Decimates to rain blood and pain upon their enemy. But somehow, in some way, the Amikans have discovered and invoked a seventh Decimate, one that strips all lesser sorcery of its power. And now the Bellegerins stand defenseless.

Prince Bifalt, eldest son of the Bellegerin King, would like to see the world wiped free of sorcerers. But it is he who is charged with finding the repository of all of their knowledge, to find the book of the seventh Decimate–and reverse the fate of his land.

All hope rests with Bifalt. But the legendary library, which may or may not exist, lies beyond an unforgiving desert and treacherous mountains–and beyond the borders of his own experience. Wracked by hunger and fatigue, sacrificing loyal men along the way, Bifalt will discover that there is a game being played by those far more powerful than he could ever imagine. And that he is nothing but a pawn…

 

I have plans to read a book that Gollancz have sent to me for review next month, called The God Within. That book is the second instalment of a series. You can probably guess where this is leading… There is no way I’ll be able to pick that up knowing that I haven’t read the first book –so here it is! A bit of pre-reading, shall we say…

 

The Drawing of the Three – Stephen King

 

This second volume in the epic series ‘The Dark Tower’ both stands alone and continues the adventures of Roland of Gilead. He has mysteriously stepped through the doorway in time to 1980s America, where he meets Eddie Dean and Odetta Holmes.

 

I have started reading this book already! I finished April’s TBR at the 11th hour (almost precisely) yesterday and decided that I wanted to get stuck in with May’s list. This is my first victim ahem book of choice for the month! It’s been too long since reading the first book really; I need to pick these up sooner!

 

The Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean

 

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

 

Here is another read sent to me by Gollancz for review. I haven’t really read all that much fantasy aimed at a YA audience lately, so I am looking forward to seeing how I like this book. I think the plotline is really interesting – it’s what has enticed me to read it the most!

 

A Feast for Crows – George R. R. Martin

 

Crows will fight over a dead man’s flesh, and kill each other for his eyes.

Bloodthirsty, treacherous and cunning, the Lannisters are in power on the Iron Throne in the name of the boy-king Tommen. The war in the Seven Kingdoms has burned itself out, but in its bitter aftermath new conflicts spark to life.

The Martells of Dorne and the Starks of Winterfell seek vengeance for their dead. Euron Crow’s Eye, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, returns from the smoking ruins of Valyria to claim the Iron Isles. From the icy north, where Others threaten the Wall, apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms to the Citadel.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel and the coldest hearts.

 

There is absolutely no way I am going to get all the above books read in one month, but if I can read the rest and at least make a START on this one, I’ll be happy! Naturally, A Game of Thrones is hot-topic at the moment with the final series already halfway through (and wasn’t that last episode epic?!) Now more than ever I am keen to pick up the books and continue to enjoy the experience.

 

What are you reading?

 

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The Last Kingdom & The Pale Horseman – Bernard Cornwell

I first came across this series as a television show back in autumn 2015, in which we follow the story of Uthred. Initially baptised as Osbert, he is raised in his ancestral home of Bebbanberg until one fateful day, when riding along the beach with his father, Danish ships are spotted on the coast.
As Ealdorman of Bebbanberg, Osbert’s father has to take action immediately. He sends his eldest son, Uthred, to spy on the ships and report back, however emboldened by the apparent lack of numbers, Uthred attacks and is killed by the Danes; his head delivered to his father as a warning. The Ealdorman is also subsequently killed in battle and Osbert, (now baptized Uthred as the eldest son of the family) is raised by the Danes that killed his father and took his home.
Thus begins the invasion of the Danes. Throughout the first book of the series, “The Last Kingdom”, we observe as the majority of the kingdoms of England are gradually taken over by the Danes, leaving only Wessex to make a stand for its freedom.
Uthred’s mixed loyalties are constantly challenged throughout the books so far. Whilst he spends the majority of time bound by allegiance to King Alfred’s fight for a United England, in hope that one day he can take back his ancestral home, he secretly longs for the Danish way of life, to serve his half-brother and join the Danes.
I only discovered that the series was based on Bernard Cornwell’s novels when my sister bought me the DVD of Season 1 for my birthday. I discussed this with a work colleague of mine who happened to have a copy of the first book. I loved the book that much I read it in a week, using every free minute to read.
It is the second book of the series I have just read and I felt it appropriate to include the first book as part of this write-up to fully explain where I am in Cornwell’s novels to date.
The second book of the series, “The Pale Horseman” begins with Uthred returning from battle with the Danes, in which he gave Ubba, one of the men who raided his home his warriors death (Danes believe that warriors, upon death, go to feast in Valhalla). He then goes to find his wife and child before returning to Alfred, who has been told different stories of Ubba’s death. His immense pride gets him in trouble once again, and Alfred forces him to pay penitence by crawling to an altar in front of a laughing crowd for God’s forgiveness. Oswald (the King’s nephew) convinces Uthred to do it to keep the peace and accompanies him, drawing attention away from him by making a show of himself instead.
Uthred continues to fight for the King as Wessex is raided by the Danes, at one time commanding ships for him, others serving as a hostage. Peace is negotiated and broken time and time again between the two sides whilst the Danes bide their time, waiting for more ships to land and join forces. Uthred becomes impatient with Alfred’s lack of actions and at one point let’s himself off the leash, taking the last ship he has command of and raiding England, disguising himself and his crew as Danes to acquire wealth.
Alfred is slowly driven into hiding with his family deep in the country of Wessex until they at last have to make a final stand and fight, or die.
I have only given the bare bones outline here as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else who is reading or wishes to read the books. I would absolutely recommend them to anyone who loves historical fiction. I found the place names used take some adjusting to; as they are in archaic English (and not consistent apparently – though I haven’t noticed yet) some are very unlike modern names. Cornwell does however provide a reference for anybody interested in learning the names and where they relate to in modern-day England.
I think having watched the series helped me read these books. Whilst this is a genre I liked to read, it helped give context as to the roles people played and the hierarchy within society etc. These are explained by Uthred in the novels, but I found it easier to see and to have the constant reminder of it in this way rather than just a one-off explanation.
If anyone had read these books please share your thoughts! Did you enjoy them? Alternatively if you are struggling perhaps or have any questions, maybe I can help. Please drop me a line either way.
My next book of choice is Terry Prachett’s “Reaper Man”, which I will introduce to you all and review in due course!