Tag: book love

Behind the Scenes: A Day in the Life of a Book Blogger

For day 5 of Blogtober I wanted to write a blog post I have never even considered before. Have you ever wondered how a book blogger juggles their days to make this wonderfully time-consuming hobby work? If so, then you have come to the right place! Everyone has their own schedules and ways of making it work. Ultimately, it’s about finding what suits me and to the day I still experiment with adaptations to routine as and when required.

The Working Week…

In the typical working week, I wake up at 6:40 am. After 5-10 minutes of sulking, I drag myself out of bed and make myself look at least a little human. Sometimes I like to do this in silence, or I’ll listen to music. If I am a little time-pressured or keen to get to the end of an audiobook I will listen to that instead. It depends if I am tired though; I can’t concentrate first thing if I am tired.

We get to work at around 8:25 am; I car-share with a lady who starts work at 8:30 am but I don’t start until 9:00 am. I’ll typically spend as much of this half an hour reading as possible before I have to get ready for the working day.

I try to get out of the office, even for a little bit over lunchtime. When I am not out and about or meeting friends for lunch, I can typically be found with my head in the latest book on my TBR. Sometimes I will prepare content for a blog post instead, – it depends on my schedule.

 

After work, I give myself a break of a couple of hours before I really do anything in earnest blog-wise. This is the time I typically draft blog posts if I have one coming up. It’s the most time I have to sit down and think, although it isn’t as distraction-free as I’d like. I have had to adapt to that though; before, I was terrible at working whilst listening to music. I am a little better at that now, although not perfect…

After blog posts are written or on my evenings off I will be catching up with my reading or talking to friends and family. It varies night by night, but I can be reading at any time in between 7:30 pm and 12:30 am. I can’t read for that long without breaks, but I make a cup of tea or coffee or my lunch for the next day etc. I potter around in between spells.

 

Weekends

At the weekend, I can always rely on my good friend, the housework, to be there for me. It doesn’t take me that long though and doing bits at a time suits my preference to read in shorter bursts. If I am not doing one, you can guarantee I am looking after the other. Saturday evenings are always dedicated to reading, so in the right frame of mind, I can get a lot read on those days.

Sunday is a complete flipside to that. It’s the day I spend with family. I’ll have a quick read in the morning while having my breakfast. Then, I’l go spend the afternoon with them. I won’t look at anything blog related until at least 8:30 pm, when it is time to start drafting my Sunday Summary post! If I have any time after that, I’ll be hitting the books until it’s time for my head to hit the pillow.

So, that’s how I manage to work my hobby around my full-time job and life in general.

Is there anything you do differently? What works for you? Do you need set hours to do something or can you be flexible? Do you feel like you have to sacrifice anything in lieu of your hobby?

 

 

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Book Review: The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides

In July I received news that I was one of the few and fortunate to receive an early ARC of this AMAZING debut novel, courtesy of Orion Publishing. When this book is officially published on the 7th February 2019 (make a note of that date friends), I urge any fans of crime or psychological thriller novels… or frankly ANYONE to get a copy of this book!!

Why? I started reading The Silent Patient late one night on a whim. I finished reading it in less than 24 hours and I was swept away. Yep…it really is that good, folks!

 

Goodreads – The Silent Patient

 

Synopsis…

Promising to be the debut novel of the season The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive…

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…

 

My Thoughts…

I have always taken a keen interest in human Psychology. I was taught about the human brain and different types of therapy at school. It was one of the topics I enjoyed the most in my years of study. The reason I find psychological thrillers so entertaining is because I know just how unreliable the human brain is!

Alicia is an intriguing character. Basing a book around a character that refuses to speak is a difficult, but certainly not impossible, task. Despite her lack of verbal communication she has a strong presence throughout the novel. They say actions speak louder and words and this couldn’t be any truer in Alicia’s case. Even her silence has plenty to say when it wants to:

“Her silence was like a mirror – reflecting yourself back at you.
And it was often an ugly sight.”

Theo, the psychotherapist determined to break her silence, is just as complex. In fact, I would say he has a lot in common with Alicia. Both have had painful upbringings, have addictive personalities (different vices) etc. It really is like looking in a mirror.

As with all books of this genre I was trying to guess the ending, then second guessing my thoughts. The Silent Patient has a dramatic conclusion – one I didn’t even consider! I adored this book so much; I think that shows in the way I read it so quickly. It has been a long time since I have inhaled a book so fast. The Silent Patient is an entertaining, must-read psychological thriller!

 

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 27th January 2019

Happy weekend everyone! I hope you’ve had a good one! It’s time to take a look back at my week in books:-

My first blog post of the week was the Coffee Book Tag. I loved the idea so much, I had to do it for myself. If you haven’t read it yet or would like to have a go, then count this as a TAG for you to do it! If you do, I would love to see your answers to the questions!

On Saturday I shared my review of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It’s such a classic that most people know it even if they haven’t read it themselves. This was actually my first time reading it – I never got the opportunity to at school. I was reading books like 1984 or Of Mice and Men instead (also very good reads). I have come to appreciate them a lot more in adulthood I have to say.

 

Books Read

It’s been a busy, busy week guys! I feel like I have made so much progress, I cannot begin to express how happy I am about it! I’ve gotten myself into a right reading blitz… so much so that I am likely to have read an extra book by month end!

My reading goal from last week was to set aside A Clash of Kings in favour of You Can’t Make Old Friends and Choose Your Parents Wisely by Tom Trott. I picked up You Can’t Make Old Friends on Tuesday and I finished it on Thursday, which is a result. I’m currently 35% through Choose Your Parents Wisely, with more progress to be made tonight to get myself to the target of 50%.

I must confess I was kidding myself in saying that I could put aside A Clash of Kings. I was at the battle of the Blackwater; it’s one of the most exciting bits. Of course, I carried on reading it, but at least not to the detriment of the other books to read. I actually managed to finish A Clash of Kings on Friday, which is even better!

As hinted above, I have also started another book to round up the month. Do you remember my 2019 resolution to try and read more non-fiction? Well, having mooched around my library for some time for inspiration, I picked up Mythos by Stephen Fry. This is the second book of his I have picked up; I love his narrative voice and his ability to recount the Greek myths, so far, is phenomenal. It’s comical as well, making it all the more palatable.

 

Books Discovered

Technically I only have the one addition to the TBR, which is Mythos. I’ve already told you about that though, so let’s move swiftly onwards…

 

Coming Up…

So, what can you expect on the blog next week?

 

Well actually, I’m such a good egg that I already have tomorrow’s post lined up and scheduled! That doesn’t happen very often… I’ll tell you that for free! As part of the publication day blog blitz, I have read and reviewed Black Matter by G.D. Parker. It’s a fast-paced crime novel that centres on technology and the ability to use it against those that use it. I really enjoyed reading it; I hope you enjoy my review just as much tomorrow

 

 

 

Later in the week, I’ll be putting together my Reading List for February. I say putting it together – to be honest, it’s almost set in stone as it is. I have a couple of blog tours coming up in February and one of those is for three books. Two days later I am set to review a fourth. I’ve been very busy on the tour front lately, but I actually quite enjoy it. In addition to those tours, I have two books to read that I have been approached with independently and an extract from another book to beta read. I may add one more book to the list, but aside from that, I’m booked out!

 

As for reading progress, I would love to finish Choose Your Parents Wisely by Tuesday, but Wednesday at the latest. That still grants me a couple of days to work on Mythos for the end of the month. I want to have that one finished by the end of the week as well. As it’s a library loan, I don’t want to hold on to it for too long. Before the week is out, regardless of progress with Mythos, I have to start It Never Goes Away by Tom Trott. This is the third book of the crime series I have been reading lately, making up my triad of books for review next month. It’s a short deadline to get this read in time, so I can’t delay starting this one!

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

Do you recall last week I announced that I was adding a section to my Sunday Summary posts? Well, this is it! In a bid to get me to read other people’s blogs more and to recognise some lovely faces (old and new) in the blogging community, I’ll be providing links to blog posts I really enjoyed reading this week: –

India Reads – The Fellowship of the Ring Review

The Book Instruments – Bookish Tattoos

Bookish Worlds – Godsgrave

Reads, Reacts, Reviews – The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

Paper Royalty Blog – Three Bookish Things Tag

 

What have you been reading this week? Have you read any of the books I discuss? What did you think of them? I would love to hear from you!

Coffee Book Tag

I saw this tag over at The Book Prescription and it looked like so much fun! I love books and I love coffee, although if you make one like this first mug in the picture, I’ll sacrifice you to the Gods for ruining a potentially good cup of coffee…

1.       Black Coffee | Name A Series That’s Tough To Get Into But Has Hardcore Fans

 

I’d probably only say this series is tough to get into if you ignore the fact that the TV series popularised the whole thing. I’m purely considering this from a book perspective. Each book is long, epic in its volume of characters and established families that geographically span two large continents. Each continent has many cities or kingdoms with their own history, customs and cultures.

You get the drill. The Song of Ice and Fire series is not for the fainthearted… that’s for sure!

 

 

 

2.       Peppermint Mocha | Name A Book That Gets More Popular During the Winter or A Festive Time of Year

 

This is one I haven’t actually read yet, but I have intended to for the past couple of Christmases. Maybe this year!

 

 

 

 

 

3.       Hot Chocolate | What Is Your Favourite Children’s Book

 

I was actually shocked to find out this was even targeted at children, but it is. I only read this last year personally.

 

 

 

 

 

4.       Double Shot of Espresso | Name A Book That Kept You On the Edge Of Your Seat From Start to Finish

 

I read The Silent Patient last year – in less than 24hrs. That’s how much I was on the edge of my seat. I can’t remember the last time I read so fast!

 

 

 

 

 

5.       Starbucks | Name A Book You See Everywhere

 

This is one I haven’t read but am seriously considering picking up next month. Does anyone recommend?

 

 

 

 

 

6.       The Hipster Coffee Shop | Give A Book By An Indie Author A Shout Out

I have worked with so many indie authors that it wouldn’t be fair to single one out over the others. You are all fantastic guys!

 

 

 

7.       Oops! I Accidentally Ordered Decaf | Name A Book You Were Expecting More Of

 

 

So many people have raved about American Gods by Neil Gaiman, but I just didn’t get it. I stuck with it but struggled. Some suggest reading it twice, but I don’t think I’ll enjoy it again, so I won’t.

 

 

 

 

 

8.       The Perfect Blend | Name A Book Or Series That Was Both Bitter And Sweet, But Ultimately Satisfying

 

The only book I can think to put in this category is The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. Obviously, the bitterness comes from the harsh reality that Lale and Gita had to endure – it’s a telling based on a true account as well. The sweetness lies in the relationship that they maintained. They survived for each other.

 

 

 

 

9.       Green Tea | Name A Book Or Series That Is Quietly Beautiful

 

I wouldn’t say I am much of a reader of YA but this duology blew me away. I want my own Lazlo!

 

 

 

 

 

10.   Chai Tea | Name a Book Or Place Series That Makes You Dream Of Far Off Places

 

I’m not particularly travel ambitious; I’ll be the first person to admit this is a hard question for me to answer. Since reading The Song of Ice and Fire series (and consequently watching it – more weight is leant to this side of things), I have wanted to visit Dubrovnik, the set of King’s Landing. I was hoping to go last year, but alas, travel plans with friends fell through. Maybe in future!

 

 

 

11.   Earl Grey | Name Your Favourite Classic

 

It’s funny – each and every book I considered for this accolade has previously been on the “I hated this” pile. Isn’t maturity the strangest thing? I found it hard to pick this one. It was ultimately a tossup between 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale, but I think The Handmaid’s Tale just gets it.

 

 

 

 

I’m not going to tag anyone in this post in case you have already been nominated by someone else! If you would like to take part though, then TAG!! I want to see your answers!

Top Ten Reads in 2018

Narrowing down a list of Top Ten Reads in 2018 was always going to be hard. How can you pick favourites?! It’s like asking a mother to pick a favourite child!

When I was getting a list together of the books I read in 2018 in order to make my choices, I made two discoveries: –

  • Goodreads hadn’t credited me for 4 books read, so I actually managed to read 50 books in 2018 instead of 46
  • Of those 50 books, I rated nearly half 5* ; only 7 books got a rating of 3* or less

 

 

Boy, don’t I make my life difficult…

It’s been tough and I’ve had to be brutal. I read a lot of amazing books in 2018 (as you would guess based on my VERY high ratings), but I had to narrow it down to 10. So, here are my Top Ten Reads of 2018! Where I have reviewed the book on my blog, links to my review posts can be followed by clicking on the images.

 

Strange the Dreamer & Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Strange the Dreamer

Goodreads – Muse of Nightmares

 

Empire of Silence – Christopher Ruocchio

Empire of Silence

Goodreads – Empire of Silence

 

Children of Blood & Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood & Bone

Goodreads – Children of Blood & Bone

 

A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

To be reviewed

Goodreads – A Game of Thrones

 

Blackwing & Ravencry – Ed McDonald

Goodreads – Blackwing

Goodreads – Ravencry

 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – John Boyne

Goodreads – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

 

The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides

Goodreads – The Silent Patient

 

The Cathedral of Known Things – Edward Cox

To be reviewed

Goodreads- The Cathedral of Known Things

 

Did you read any of these books, and if so, how have you rated them? If you haven’t read them yet, are they on your list for 2019?

As ever, I would love to hear from you!

 

 

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 16th December 2018

When I haven’t been at work or reading a book, I’ve spent a lot of this week preparing for Christmas! I’m officially on countdown! I love this time of year and I’m finally getting into the spirit!

On account of spending time wrapping presents and attending Christmas parties, I only managed one out of the two blog posts I promised you this week. Whilst it would have been nice to make some further progress in whittling down the TBR pile, I feel that posting my review of The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was more important. I received an ARC back in July this year so my reading and reviewing this title was overdue. The book is published on the 7th February 2019 – I must insist you get a copy!

 

Books Read

 

I have been reading two books concurrently this week. Earlier in the week, I continued reading The Road to Alexander by Jennifer Macaire. When writing my Sunday Summary post last week I had higher hopes of making more progress with this book than I have. Instead, I ended up reading just over 40% a second book on December’s reading list. The Cathedral of Known Things is the second book by Edward Cox in The Relic Guild series. I totally love the magic system and the world-building, so putting this down has proven rather difficult.

 

Books Discovered

 

I have been really tame this week – I haven’t even added any books to the TBR! *And so I shouldn’t – it’s already out of control*

 

Coming Up…

 

down the tbr holeThis week I promised you a review of the TBR pile, which ultimately didn’t happen. I’m sorry; I don’t have any particular excuse. I just didn’t get around to it. However, I will this week – it’s the first post I am committing to.

 

 

 

The second post I want to publish this week is a review of Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett. I am absolutely in love with the Discworld and its various characters. At the time I read this book on a whim – you can’t really go wrong with that, can you? It’s just what I needed. I love Pratchett’s humour and writing style.

 

 

 

On the reading front, I am going to be bold and say that I want to have finished The Cathedral of Known Things by next week. If I get time to read any more than this, I’ll continue with The Road to Alexander.

 

Are you all set for Christmas? Have you planned to read any festive books for the season? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Reading List – October 2018

October – the time of year when the nights start to draw in. On the one hand, it’s great! You can come home from work, draw the curtains and not feel guilty about not doing very much. I mean, it’s too cold… and DARK, obviously. I do miss the lighter nights in a way though – leaving work and having several hours of sunshine left means you can go out and do things! Days feel less work-orientated if you have time to sit outside and socialise at the local pub. Don’t think of me as an alcoholic, please! I have literally done this once this summer! Anyway… having the salad justified the wine. Pffft.

Source: Giphy

Once I am used to the dark nights though, I love it! There is no place like home, curled up under a blanket and wearing the thickest pair of socks you can find. Coffee and books are also essential… and this year, I have some great books to look forward to!

 

The Hidden Face – S. C. Flynn

Goodreads – The Hidden Face

A face without a face – an unmasking that leaves the mask.

Once every few hundred years the sun god, the Akhen, takes on human form and descends to earth. Each Unmasking of the Face of the Akhen ends one era and begins another; the last one created the Faustian Empire. Where and when will the Face next appear, and who will he – or she – be?

Dayraven, son of a great hero, returns to Faustia after years as a hostage of their rivals, the Magians. Those years have changed him, but Faustia has changed as well; the emperor Calvo now seems eccentric and is controlled by one of Dayraven’s old enemies. Following the brutal murder of his old teacher, Dayraven is drawn, together with a female warrior named Sunniva, into the search for an ancient secret that would change the fate of empires.

The Hidden Face is an epic fantasy novel drenched in the atmosphere of the early Middle Ages and in Kabbalistic riddles and is the first book in the Fifth Unmasking series.

 

This is the first direct review request from an author that I have had for a while, and I’m really excited to read it! It is my favourite genre and I have high hopes for the book, based on the synopsis.

 

Breachers – Anthony Thomas

Goodreads – Breachers

Jason Conners is the last person you’d expect to run into a burning building, unless of course there was something inside worth stealing. Call him what you want: criminal, thief, asshole, but hero? Absolutely not. Jason’s questionable behavior and disturbing antics can only be attributed to one secret.

He can change the future, but with great power comes great responsibility? Hell no. His ability makes him the best thief in the city, and nothing is off-limits. Until Jason’s carefree attitude gains the attention of the Rogues, and the government.

The Rogues want him to stop catastrophic events from taking place, and the government has their own agenda. When the hunt begins, Jason is caught in the crosshairs and learns that breaching is not as limitless as he thought.

Can this anti-hero give up a life of easy money and become the savior the Rogues need, or will it cost him everything—even his immortality?

 

I have been looking forward to this Blog Tour since taking part in the cover reveal back in February.  A while, I know! The synopsis sounds amazing in its own right… but what really sells this book to me is the anti-hero protagonist. I don’t think we see enough of these characters in books. I adored The Broken Empire series by Mark Lawrence purely because the protagonist Jorg is such an anti-hero! Fingers crossed I’ll love Breachers as much as I have hyped it up!

 

Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Muse of Nightmares

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

 

This is my only non-ARC or review request and I have waited MONTHS for this moment!

I read Strange the Dreamer earlier this year. I suppose you could say by accident. Yes, you read that right. I was bored one Saturday afternoon and decided to sample a couple of chapters to convince myself to read it next month. Next time I looked up at the clock, I had read part 1, around 20% of the book. Two days later, I closed the cover for the last time.

I did not feel guilty either. I can see myself flying through Muse as well, then probably wanting to cry and read the whole duology again. I’m calling it now. Watch this space.

 

Another Kind of Magic – Elizabeth Davies

“I am a cat. But I am no ordinary cat. I am a witch’s familiar. I am also a woman, with a woman’s heart and a woman’s frailty.”

Two hundred years have passed since Caitlyn was trapped by dark magic and she has known many mistresses. This time the witch she is enthralled to is Joan, wife to Llewelyn, Prince of Wales.

For Caitlyn, this mistress appears no different from any of the others she has been forced to serve. That is, until Llewelyn captures William de Braose and holds him and his men prisoner, and Joan falls for William and risks everything, including Caitlyn, to fulfil her desire.​

Caitlyn, meanwhile, has her own cross to bear in the form of the gallant and reckless Hugh of Pembroke…

 

I was hoping to read this ARC last month, to try and get ahead of myself really. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. As yet, I am still awaiting my copy. I’m reviewing this in a month’s time, so there is no rush! Now I have read the first couple of books in the Caitlin series, I think I’ll get into this one straight away! Although, with the way the second book ended, this next one could be very different from the last two. I’ll just have to wait and see!

 

The Swan Keeper – Milana Marsenich

Goodreads – The Swan Keeper

The Swan Keeper is an historical, coming of age novel set in Northwest Montana’s Mission Valley in the late 1920s.

Lillian Connelly loves trumpeter swans and vows to protect them from a hunter who is killing them and leaving their carcasses for the wolves and coyotes to ravage.

On her eleventh birthday Lilly’s family visits the Cattail Marsh to see the newly hatched cygnets. The family outing turns tragic when Dean Drake shows up with his shotgun and fires on not only the swans, but on Lilly’s family. Unable to prevent tragedy, Lillian witnesses Drake kill her father, injure her mother, and slaughter the bevy of trumpeter swans.

The sheriff, Charlie West, thinks that Lilly is reacting to the trauma and blaming Drake because of a previous conflict between Drake and her father. Lilly’s mother, sister, and her best friend, Jerome West, the sheriff’s son, all think the same thing: that Lilly is trying to make sense of a senseless accident.

Left alone to bring Dean Drake to justice, Lilly’s effort is subverted when Drake woos her sister, courts her mother, and moves into their home.

 

I first discovered this author when I was kindly asked to read and review Copper Sky. Also set in Montana, although a few years on from Copper Sky, I cannot wait to see how these novels compare.

So, that’s the list! I also hope to make a little more progress with The Eye of the World, but I’ll have to play it by ear. It depends entirely on how I get on with this lot!

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Book Review: Children of Blood & Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood & Bone has been on my reading list for a little while. The problem with being a book blogger is that we never quite get around to reading specific books at the right time. I had heard all about Children of Blood & Bone, in particular, its references to racial discrimination, whilst encompassing this in a magical, fantastical realm.
I was concerned, as I had heard so much about the book, that it might not live up to expectation.

Never have I been so glad to be wrong.

 

Children of Blood & Bone
Goodreads – Children of Blood & Bone

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

 

My Thoughts…

I feel like I was late to the party in reading this fantastic book, but better late than never, right?

I love how the author was inspired to write COB&B based on current, modern-day societal issues. These things cannot be highlighted if they are not talked about; writing about it this way is prominent enough for the message to be made clear, but keep the story entertaining. Taking the problem out of context highlights the issue even more. When such things are so commonplace, they can be overlooked or ignored. Tomi Adeyemi has managed to balance her inspiration with a gripping storyline that stands alone in its own right.

I love the principle of magic system set up and the depth of history interspersed in this fantasy novel. I also found it really interesting how Zélie struggles with the morality of magic and the power it wields. Whilst it is fantastic for the natives to be in a position to push back against their years of oppression, that kind of power has consequences. This Zélie recognizes; she frequently asks herself whether that kind of magic should be wielded by those who can use it against the interests of humanity.

COB&B is a bit of a coming-of-age story with fantastic characterisation and development. I can see its appeal to the YA audience. Zélie is a complex yet relatable character, trying to find her way in a society that is built to use her and her family as slaves.

I enjoyed reading the story from multiple perspectives, as opposed to just one.

Each of the characters successfully blurs the lines that society has drawn for them. The nobility and the diviners should hate each other. Nobles are frightened of the magic diviners used to wield as it once challenged their opposition. The diviners hate the nobles for murdering their parents and controlling them. They are opposing sides of the same war when it comes down to it. One side isn’t better than the other.

I really enjoyed the book overall, but I will admit there are parts I am less keen on. The chapters are quite short, but rather than making the book easier to read, I found it easier to put down more frequently. I think it comes down to personal preference, but the narrative does jump around a little too much for my liking.

I have to work the quick mention to another, reasonably small pet hate of mine. The romance. I can see why it is necessary; the forbidden love across the two sides raises tension and adds a further layer of conflict to an already complex storyline. I get it. I just didn’t buy into it at all. I’m sure there are other readers out there that think it’s cute and secretly pray that it all works out in the end. Not me, if I’m honest. It’s not my cup of tea.

 

Conclusion…

My favourite part of the book (and this is what keeps my rating at five stars) is how the narrative keeps the reader guessing right until the end. We know Zélie is our protagonist and that she is the “Chosen One” to bring back magic. There were several parts in the book in which I began to question how this could play out. There are plenty of twists in the narrative to keep you guessing! I find some stories are reasonably predictable and how they will conclude, however, this is not the case in this novel. Full of action, subplots and underlying motives, all is fair in love and war.

 

down the tbr hole

Down the TBR Hole #12

It feels like ages since I last published a blog post. I am, of course, exaggerating. It has only been a week, but when you are normally drafting a post every 2-3 days, it’s odd going cold turkey.

As I am now back from my trip with family I am publishing another Down the TBR Hole post! For anyone unfamiliar, 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 History – Donna Tartt

The Secret History

Goodreads – The Secret History

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.

The blurb for this book doesn’t really give away much as to the content of the book; rather, more about the nature of the scenario within. I think this could be both interesting and exciting, so it is staying on the list. I am also hoping that as a result of reading it, I can inspire myself back into reading more classics.

Verdict: Keep

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Goodreads – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

I am surprised this book only has a 3.9-star rating on Goodreads. I read a lot of reviews on the book from the blogging community and I distinctly remember a glowing report from all the posts I read. That’s what inspired me to add the book to the list in the first place.

I have read a few mystery/suspense books recently and really enjoyed them. The synopsis does a very good job of luring the reader in. I added this book to the TBR nearly a year ago to the day – and I am still attracted to it now.

Verdict: Keep

 

Letters to the Lost – Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost

Goodreads – Letters to the Lost

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

I’m torn about this one, I’ll admit. As before, the mystery element of their unknown connection to each other is intriguing, but on the other hand, I suspect it is going to end up as a romance… and that would be the straw to break the camel’s back. I don’t want to invest time and energy in reading this book to end up disappointed, so I am going to take it off the list.

Verdict: Bin!

 

Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Caraval

Goodreads – Caraval

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

This book has been insanely popular for the past year. I’ve seen plenty of reviews for it. This is again why I added the book to the TBR. For much the same reason as Letters to the Lost, I am dubious of the book for the reliance on romance to maintain a storyline.

Had I not purchased a copy of the book already, I would have removed it from the list. As it happens, I did purchase a digital copy on sale, so I am as well giving it a try. I’m not holding my breath for a glowing review, but, only time will tell.

Verdict: Keep

 

Liath Luachra: The Grey One – Brian O’Sullivan

Liath Luachra

Goodreads – Liath Luachra: The Grey One

Ireland 188 A.D: A land of tribal affiliations, secret alliances and treacherous rivalries.

Youthful woman warrior Liath Luachra has survived two brutal years fighting with mercenary war party “The Friendly Ones” but now the winds are shifting.
Dispatched on a murderous errand where nothing is as it seems, she must survive a group of treacherous comrades, the unwanted advances of her battle leader and a personal history that might be her own undoing.

Clanless and friendless, she can count on nothing but her wits, her fighting skills and her natural ferocity to see her through.

Woman warrior, survivor, killer and future guardian to Irish hero Fionn mac Cumhaill – this is her story.

I don’t like to champion the concept of female warrior / “girl power” as exceptional or out of the ordinary too much. Empowerment should be equal in achievement irrespective of gender, but there are instances on both sides of the coin when this is not the case.

I was drawn to this book as it is a dark tale touching upon a number of sensitive issues. I purchased a copy of the book as soon as I read the synopsis, and I stand by my decision!

Verdict: Keep

 

Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots: A History of Insanity in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland – Kathryn Burtinshaw & John Burt

Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots

Goodreads – Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots

In the first half of the nineteenth century, treatment of the mentally ill in Britain and Ireland underwent radical change. No longer manacled, chained and treated like wild animals, patient care was defined in law and medical understanding, and treatment of insanity developed.

Focusing on selected cases, this new study enables the reader to understand how progressively advancing attitudes and expectations affected decisions, leading to better legislation and medical practice throughout the century. Specific mental health conditions are discussed in detail and the treatments patients received are analyzed in an expert way. A clear view of why institutional asylums were established, their ethos for the treatment of patients, and how they were run as palaces rather than prisons giving moral therapy to those affected becomes apparent. The changing ways in which patients were treated, and altered societal views to the incarceration of the mentally ill, are explored. The book is thoroughly illustrated and contains images of patients and asylum staff never previously published, as well as firsthand accounts of life in a nineteenth-century asylum from a patients perspective.

Written for genealogists as well as historians, this book contains clear information concerning access to asylum records and other relevant primary sources and how to interpret their contents in a meaningful way.

I don’t have many non-fiction books on the TBR, and this one tickles my inner psychology nerd.

I studied psychology years ago and learned how the brain worked and treatments administered etc. As a part of that, we touched upon some of the treatments used or imposed on the “clinically insane”. I still want to read this book as a refresher to my previous knowledge… because I really do find the topic interesting! Psychology is often labelled a social science as there are no definite answers or treatments to a given problem. There are a number of different approaches to treating a condition and new research is constantly contributing to evolving these.

Verdict: Keep

 

Infinite Sacrifice – L. E. Waters

Infinite Sacrifice

Goodreads – Infinite Sacrifice

Maya’s shocked to discover it’s not the heaven she imagined; in fact, a life of adventure begins the moment you die.

Zachariah, her faithful spirit guide, explains the rules of the dead: in order to regain complete awareness and reunite with loved ones all souls must review their previous lives.

Maya plunges warily into her turbulent pasts as a sociopathic High Priest in ancient Egypt; an independent mother protecting a dangerous secret in glorious Sparta; an Irish boy kidnapped and enslaved by Vikings; and a doctor’s wife forced to make an ethical stand in plague-ridden England.

All the while, Maya yearns to be with those she cares about most and worries that she hasn’t learned all of heaven’s most vital lessons. Will she be forced to leave the tranquility of heaven to survive yet another painful and tumultuous life? Or worse, accept the bitter reality of having to go back alone?

This was added to my TBR because I was interested in the element of the afterlife. I am much undecided as to whether I believe in any of that at all. There are elements of history in this short read as well, spanning ancient Egypt to England in the 1300’s.

Again, as I have already purchased a copy of this book, I will take the time to read it. Had I not, I might have considered taking it off the TBR.

Verdict: Keep

 

Children of the Revolution – Peter Robinson

Children of the Revolution

Goodreads – Children of the Revolution

A disgraced college lecturer is found murdered with £5,000 in his pocket on a disused railway line near his home. Since being dismissed from his job for sexual misconduct four years previously, he has been living a poverty-stricken and hermit-like existence in this isolated spot.

The suspects range from several individuals at the college where he used to teach to a woman who knew the victim back in the early ’70s at Essex University, then a hotbed of political activism. When Banks receives a warning to step away from the case, he realises there is much more to the mystery than meets the eye – for there are plenty more skeletons to come out of the closet . . .

I recently read “Death in Dulwich” by Alice Castle, which is similar in setting. A school teacher is found dead on the grounds, and as the book unravels we learn of his not-so-innocent past. As I really enjoyed reading this one, I think this could be really interesting too. I’ll probably start the Inspector Banks series from the beginning before reading this though, so I won’t be reading it for a while to come.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Killer on the Wall – Emma Kavanagh

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17260972-children-of-the-revolution

Goodreads – The Killer on the Wall

The first body comes as a shock

The second brings horror

The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall.

And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?

I have kept a lot of books on the TBR so far, and after reading the synopsis, I just don’t know. It does sound interesting, but it doesn’t quite pop out at me like the previous books on the list have.

I’m going to say no to this one.

Verdict: Bin

 

Daughter of the Burning City – Amanda Foody

Daughter of the Burning City

Goodreads – Daughter of the Burning City

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

I love how the premise of the book centers around a circus and the workings of illusion. Combine that with the element of murder/mystery and I’m hooked! This may also end up being a coming-of-age tale (given that the character is explicitly defined as a teenager). Not my favourite trope, but as it is so commonplace, I’ll just have to get on with it!

Verdict: Keep

 

So that is the next ten books on my list sorted! Have you read any of these books? As ever I would love to hear your thoughts!

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?