Today is Remembrance Sunday here; a day to remember those that have lost their lives defending our country and protecting our interests. I just wanted to take a moment here to reflect on this, because those people have far more courage then I could ever have.
Following my last Sunday Summary, I finished My Life as Steve Keller by Zach Baynes. If you want to check out my review, you can find it here. There is also an open giveaway on a copy of that book which ends 11:59pm local time tonight, so get yourself into the draw. If you aren’t on Twitter and want a chance to enter, drop a comment below!
I also started and finished my next ARC for this month, being Aaru by David Meredith. It’s a book that challenges the concept of death by, in essence, scanning a person’s brain and then uploading it to a server so they live “virtually” instead. I was interested in the concept and it didn’t disappoint. One thing I was shocked about was how dark it gets towards the end! I wasn’t expecting anything like that! No spoilers though… Review to follow!
I can tell I am making a conscious effort to save money for my upcoming trip, as I haven’t purchased any books this week! My sister is attempting to get a copy of I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson for me, as it is the O2 Priority deal this week, but I don’t know if she has been able to yet.
A Suitable Lie is a book I have seen a couple of reviews for and added to the TBR, as not only do I think I will really enjoy the book, it about a topic that really needs more exposure. All too often we hear about domestic violence in which men are the perpetrators and women the victims, but the statistics show that for every two female victims, there is one male victim. I think this is massively ignored so I would like to educate myself on the subject!
On Tuesday I have decided to bring you another Down the TBR Hole post, in an effort to clear out my reading list of unwanted books! I want to try and make a real push on this so basically, I can add more books. Sounds productive, right?
On Friday I will be posting my review of Aaru by David Meredith, and there is also an anticipated interview I will be doing with David about his inspirations for the book. The date is still TBC, but please look out for that!
Finally, the week will close with a wrap-up, as ever!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Sunday Summary!! If you want to enter the competition mentioned above, you can enter via Twitter or drop a comment here!! So tell me, what have you been reading this week?
“My Life as Steve Keller” is one man’s journey through twelve cities, three decades, and four lovers, all while living with the realities of climate change and technology. The stories about food and history will make you want to travel and the charming dialogue will make you smile. The book depicts two of the most basic needs in life that neither technology nor the passing of time can erase: the need to be loved and the need to be protected.
Steve tells his story in three parts. In Part One, he tries to figure out what’s best for him, ending a long distance ending a long distance relationship and wondering if he should start another one. Over the course of 6 years, he travels to different cities – Hong Kong, Paris, Argentina, Tuscany and Dublin. He finds the answer to his questions through the help of his sister while on vacation in Tuscany.
From losing people he loves through missed opportunities, to being let go from his job due to increasing automation, Steve is forced into a self-analysis of his life and the choices he has made, while coming to terms with an addiction to Virtual Reality.
“My Life as Steve Keller” reads in places like a travel journal and is a fascinating and unusual coming-of-age book, which is set partly in the future and deals with the issues of romance, love, climate change, technology and loss through a traveler’s perspective.
This fictionalized memoir spans three decades of one man’s life, it is a look at what the world may look like as we hurtle towards near full automation and the way people’s lives change as a result of choices they make or fail to make, with recurring themes of family, friends and love throughout.
I firmly believe that as a reader, you can take away as much as you like from this book.
If you are looking for a casual read, exploring places all over the world and the fabulous food and drink on offer, then this is for you. Steve is fortunate to have spent a lot of his life travelling; he visits new cities, meets new people and gets to enjoy many diverse cultures and culinary delicacies along the way. Now I am not much of a traveller when all is said and done. In comparison to Steve, I am so unadventurous! Up until this point, I haven’t considered myself to be the travelling type. Since reading the book, I’m seriously considering visiting a few places that I hadn’t taken much interest in before. If I had to pick one place out of the whole book, it would have to be Amsterdam. The excitement of the busy markets, the tourism, and the ability to tour the city via canal appeals to me. It has nothing to do with the library with a bar in it… but that’s not to be turned down either, right?
Steve is a really likeable guy. As our main character, you really get under his skin and find that he is very much like you or me. He makes mistakes and takes pride in great achievements; he loves, is loved, and falls apart from time to time. He is a victim of circumstance and is on a journey to find himself as much as we are.
There is a more serious topic addressed by the book, should you wish to consider it. I would like to stress that it is not written in a way that makes it unapproachable, or heavy reading.
We see a lot of advancement in technology throughout the novel, and with constant development today, some of the future “tech” created is not that far off reality, in my humble yet uneducated opinion. We watch diesel cars become electric, then driverless, and robots take over jobs previously laboured by humans. We see the population of the Earth continuing to increase and all the while, the impact of production continues to take its toll on the planet. Climate change triggers drought; cattle numbers decline. Endangered animal species become extinct and the ice caps melt. Natural disasters become commonplace and life as we know it ceases to exist.
This all seems very dramatic when you summarise it like that in a couple of sentences. Let us not forget that the timeframe of the book spans three decades. When you put it like that, such significant changes happen gradually and it could be all too late before we realise it.
Here is why I am more than happy to defer to Zach’s idea of things. He draws on a lot of personal experience and takes interest in these subjects. As I have already admitted, I know very little about this subject. True, the book dabbles in a lot of “ifs”, “buts” and “maybe’s”, but they are worthy of consideration, I think. It COULD happen, after all.
Going back to Steve, I think this book resonates with me because I genuinely believe I could one day end up in Steve’s shoes. Whilst the book is undeniably fiction, could it become our potential reality? I hope not, but anything is possible.
Now – for the details of the giveaway!!
Zach has very kindly agreed to provide the winner of this giveaway, chosen by me, with a free copy of his book! All you have to do is:-
Today, I am pleased to introduce you to Zach Baynes. He very kindly approached me with a request to review his book, My Life As Steve Keller, in exchange for a free copy. You too could get your hands on a copy – tune in to tomorrow’s review for details!!
Ahead of my review of his book, Zach took the time to answer a few questions about what inspired him to write about the life of Steve, a man finding his place in an ever-changing and advancing world:-
First and foremost, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you for having me Rebecca, appreciate the offer and taking the time to have a conversation with me.
I studied Political Science for 5 years, founded a think-tank with some colleagues and had some fun with that for a few years. I then started working with technology and that’s where I am now. I work in Digital Transformation, working with companies to assess the state of their IT Infrastructure, or Digitization maturity level, and how they can improve it to gain competitive advantages.
I love reading books, in almost any genres, although for the past years I focused a lot more on non-fiction books. In particular, non-fiction novels – books that have a storytelling side to them. Besides that, I’m passionate about geopolitics, I like to stay on top of what is happening in the world. This also helps when building stories that are grounded in reality, driven by a chronic curiosity about anything. I love travelling, getting in touch with other cultures and people.
Just who is Steve Keller, and what inspired you to write about his life?
The book is written from his perspective, so I had to imagine how his life would be, while taking into account my own experiences. I guess it makes him an alter ego of sorts. But in many ways Steve Keller is a placeholder.
He lives his life in very similar ways to most of the people in the Western world. The book focuses on his view on the world and his relationships with the people around him. I love stories with morally gray areas, I’m not a big fan of clear cut storytelling with a hero and anti-hero. I feel that the reader should decide for himself if some questions are worth asking and if the answers that comes along are important. I don’t think it’s up to the writer to tell the reader what to think. Steve sometimes is morally ambiguous because he is supposed to be a normal person, most importantly, he reflects and doubts his own actions. The infamous “What if?” that keeps people awake at night.
Steve travels to a number of countries throughout the book, including HK, Paris, Argentina. Are Steve’s experiences linked to your own? If so, how?
Many of those locations are places I enjoyed in the past. I wanted the scenes to have a unique identity of their own and giving them a different setting helps with that.
Sometimes they add a lot in terms of world building; sometimes they tie pieces of Steve’s stories together. They aren’t different for the sake of being different. They are part of the scenes, they either build the dialogue or they bring into focus some other topics that might have felt random without a specific setting. As a literary device, it shaped the future into a coherent timeline, while providing the reader with a positive escape from some of the world building elements that might be overwhelming.
The locations change in each chapter because I like travelling and exploring new places. It was also a chance to imagine how those places might be different in the future – it was too irresistible of an opportunity.
I am a generally a visual person, I enjoy colors, art, nature and looking at things. Writing a specific location made it easier to imagine how certain elements of technology and climate change will blend together.
One of the intriguing things about the book is the time frame. Did you have any particular purpose in setting a larger portion of this book in the future?
I think when looking at the past century, each generation had its own self-induced paranoia about particular topics – most of them shaped by world events that people in those decades felt were tremendously impactful on them.
Our generation has its own challenges that shape the dialogue for this particular period. Climate change, with all the perils it might have; employment and its relation to automation; robotics and so on. We have CEOs telling us they will let go of 20%, 30% or even 50% of their employees in the next decade or so. And last, but not least, our relationship with the environment, which at times feels very impersonal. Specifically to ecosystems — animals and plants that are in a fragile state with each year.
I always enjoyed books or movies that have an element of time within them – how it impacts the relationships between people, how people change, the missed encounters, how people adapt to different stress factors in their life and so on.
I wanted to imagine what a person today would look like in 2025. Then in 2030 and 2040. We know how the world would look like, more or less. We have projections on how the weather will change, what cities will be impacted. We know when elephants will become extinct in the wild based on analysis of changes in their numbers; we know when the ice caps will melt. We know that we will be out of a job in 15 years. Soon we’ll have driverless cars, maybe robots walking around.
But what will my life be in that scenario? I would still have the same family around me, the same friends. Hopefully I will be able to fulfill my dreams, my dreams will surely change over time, but will I be happy? What challenges will I face on a personal level, while at the same time trying to cope with the ever changing nature of the world around me.
This feeling of inevitability, time marches forward kind of vibe, and everything that comes with it makes it in a way a character in itself. Time doesn’t care about the characters in the book, about the drama they go through, about what keeps them awake at night.
This quote always stayed with me while writing the book: “It’s funny how day by day, nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.” I think the book has a similar feel to it.
What is the most important thing you would like a reader to take away from reading “My Life as Steve Keller”?
I think the book is a neutral journey into the future, a “what if” introspection and invitation for the reader to feel free to think about whatever he/she wants. It offers the possibility of drawing whichever conclusion fits the reader’s values, without forcing any explanation or justification onto them. Reading a book is a personal journey. So are our impressions of the story. I wanted the book to be exactly like this.
Having spoken with you I know that you continue to write. What can we expect the next book; can you give us any hints?
I have more ideas than I have time to write them. But given that I’m a pretty methodical person usually, I have a pipeline of books and plan to get with them one at a time.
The next book I plan to write is The Mermaid from Bastille. It is about an unexpected duo that stumble upon an industry-wide cover up in the fishing business. I want it to be a bit tongue in cheek, it’s a mystery book, and like any other of the kind, the pacing, characters and setting are sometimes more important than the actual mystery itself.
I also enjoy reading about the environment, it wasn’t until recently that I found out there isn’t any wild salmon left in Europe, only farmed. Then I wondered – what else did we lose? The world that I know is now is much different to even my parents’ generation. So I read some books around the topic, about how people are working to revolutionize cuisine in the Old Continent, farm to table kind of stuff. They experiment with cheese, with free-range animals, self-sufficient fish farms and so on. I feel the topic can be dry, but I also know it is extremely important.
Who wants to wake up one day and all you can find on the shelves of a supermarket is powder? I still care about having healthy, fresh ingredients available. So the book is a mystery book, but the overall theme is – there’s a lot more to this industry than we know, a lot of amazing things happening and it’s good if we take a break sometime and entertain the thought of having everything on our plate coming from sustainable, waste free, healthy sources. It will be a humorous and exciting read, while at a same time having a serious undertone about a pretty interesting topic.
Thank you to Zach for taking the time to talk to us about his book!
If you’re interested in my view of the book, please check out my review, being posted tomorrow. As I mentioned above, there will be a chance to get your hands on a copy… so stay tuned for the details and maybe you could be a winner!
I’ve decided to take part in another Top Ten Tuesday based on how popular my last post was. If anyone wants to check that out, here is the link – Top Ten Tuesday: Most Disappointing Books.
It’s fair to say that we, each and every one of us, have our own preferences when it comes to books, films and TV. In making my assessment of my Top Ten, I will obviously be taking into account how much I enjoyed the TV or film version of the book. Not only that, I think it is also important to recognise how alike the adaptation (because let’s not forget – it is just that) is to the book. As much as I appreciate everyone has their own spin on stories – deviating too far is just a pet hate for me.
So… let’s get started!
10 – The Maze Runner – James Dashner
This is one example of the few occasions in which I watched the film before I read the book. I’m glad I did, otherwise, I would have gotten sick of Thomas’ whining all the time. This book is at the bottom of the list because the film ending was a bit different to that in the book. They still got to the same “place” if you like, but went about it in a different way.
9 – The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
I have added this to the list, and I am going to make a little confession. This isn’t based on ALL the films – I still have the third instalment to watch. It’s been sat on my TV box for months. Four, in fact. I checked. Whoops! Anyway, these films, as far as my recollection goes, are pretty accurate to the books.
8 – Of Mice & Men – John Steinbeck
I love this book! I first read it in school as part of an assignment. I think it is the first book I actually enjoyed studying!! It grew on me more than anything – I didn’t take to it straight away. I’m glad I did though… who doesn’t love Lennie? I watched almost all the film during English class and it took everything I had not to cry at the end. I’m a self-confessed wimp.
7 – Harry Potter (Series) – J K Rowling
The Harry Potter films definitely capture the essence of the books, and I am happy I grew up with them. Again, I will admit here I am yet to watch the last film. What child doesn’t wish to be swept away to a new world of learning and magic? If you have to go to school, why shouldn’t it be fun? These are books I am absolutely going to be re-reading in the future!
6 – A Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
This TV series was shown on Channel 4 and I thought it was a great way to bring this classic to the mass market. There were a number of discrepancies between the book and the series though; some of the biggest being alterations in the timeframe and some “modifications” to make some of the characters more culturally relevant today. One example being that Ofglen (the first) is a lesbian and as a punishment for inspiring rebellion, has to watch her barren partner hanged. This never happened in the book – it was published in the 1980’s after all. They were different times.
5 – A Game of Thrones – George R R Martin
OHMYGOD this series!!! Like a vast number of people, I love it!! Having read the series twice (and I could probably fit it in again before The Winds of Winter – just saying), I have noticed a number of discrepancies. A quick search on the internet will bring you any number of theories and in equal measure, a number of inconsistencies! Given I am taking these into account, this is knocked off the top spot.
4 – The Lord of the Rings – J R R Tolkien
I’m new to the party on Lord of the Rings. I should have read the books and watched the films sooner! As far as I could tell, I didn’t pick up any discrepancies… not that I’ve gone to the effort to look either. I read the books first and I wasn’t disappointed with the films.
3 – The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell
I don’t know how many people have heard about this series, but if you love historical fiction, please, please, please… watch it (and read it)!! Alexander Dreymon portrays our protagonist fantastically. The TV series has covered the first four books so far, and if what I have seen is accurate, we are looking at another year’s wait for the next one. So not only do I have to wait for GoT, I have to wait for this too… *grumble grumble*. All I am aware of is the presence of a character in the TV series that isn’t in the book. That’s literally it – if I have missed something though… please tell me.
I’ve only included the books I have read so far, but there are ten in all.
2 – War & Peace – Leo Tolstoy
I am grateful I watched the BBC’s adaptation of War & Peace before I even attempted the book. Had I not, I would have had no chance of reading it. Given the length and complexity of the book, I would actually say that MAYBE my understanding of what happened in the book was picked up from the show. Did anyone else watch this? What are your thoughts on the series compared to the book?
1 – The Green Mile – Stephen King
I feel I talk about this book a lot, and I have had a number of conversations with my Dad in particular about how alike the book and the film are. The only thing I am thankful for is that we don’t get to see Delacroix as described after his electrocution. The book made me feel sick… never mind actually having to see it!
So that makes up my Top Ten!!
There are so many books in my “Read” pile that I wish there were either TV programmes or films for!
Do you agree with my choices? What is your favourite book/film/tv series combinations? Are there any books you want to be put on screen? I really want to hear from you about it!
“Remember, remember, the 5th of November, gunpowder treason and plot”
In other words, tonight is bonfire night – so stay safe everybody! The public display we had locally actually took place on Friday night. I watched a little of it from the window because I’m lucky and don’t have to stand out in the cold for the privilege!
As I didn’t get to finish last month’s TBR, I am actually having to do something I haven’t done for a long time… read more than one book at a time.
I can get easily confused if I read too much at once, especially if the books are of the same genre. I’m also not too fussed about having the diversity of reading more than one at once. I know some people like to change what they read to keep things fresh, but as I tend to read books within a few days anyway, I’d rather just stick to the one and get it read quicker.
I am having to compromise on this occasion as I don’t want to forget what is happening in The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson. I am prioritising the ARC requests I have, as I have promised to read these at the beginning of the month. After that though, I’ll be doing my level best to get TWOK read and reviewed!
So as well as catching up, I am also reading the first book of this month, being an ARC from Zach Baynes, called My Life As Steve Keller. I’ll be perfectly honest and say I went into this book not knowing what to expect, but it’s a refreshing read and actually has some very good points about our lifestyle. I’ll bring you more on that at the review stage!
I purchased one book this week having seen it on one of my daily deals e-mails I get. If anyone else is interested, these are from Bookbub. It’s great for you if you love books, especially cheap ones! I can’t speak for your bank balance though, although mine might have something to say about it…
I first saw this book on Bookbub and bought a copy straight away! It sounds really freaky and you would hope that this sort of thing never happens!
After I bought it, I saw a post that there was a blog tour for it!! I am so gutted I didn’t see it beforehand and get involved!! I am starting to look at taking part in blog tours now. In fact, I am taking part in one later on this month, so watch this space.
My sister also purchased a book for me this week, which was part of a deal by O2 Priority I believe. They feature at least one book every week. This weeks book was Sleepyhead, by Mark Billingham.
I have added some books to the TBR this month as well, most being the books that I decided to keep from my Down the TBR Hole post on Friday.
In addition to these, I added An Almond for A Parrot by Sally Gardener as Wray Delaney (I know, the title sounds a bit nutty) but check the synopsis on Goodreads; it isn’t half as barmy as the title implies.
I was pleasantly surprised how well my first, (and last) Top Ten Tuesday post was received, so thanks guys! I’m considering making it a more regular feature, depending on how my next few posts go. This week, I am going to be posting my Top Ten TV/Film adaptations of books.
On Friday, I am pleased to be bringing you a review of My Life as Steve Keller by Zach Baynes. Whilst I don’t have dates confirmed, I am also working with the author to bring you some addiditonal material, including an author interview, a guest post and A GIVEAWAY! Stay tuned for details.
Sunday brings to us another wrap up of the week. I get to either jump in delight or cringe at the number of books I have bought and generally just get my crap together. Honestly, these posts really are the best for keeping me organised!!
So, what have you been reading?
Happy Friday folks! I hope you are all looking forward to a fabulous weekend!!
Today I am posting another Down the TBR Hole post, in an effort to clear out my Goodreads list of unwanted books. In case anyone needs a brush up on just what this tag entails:-
This meme was started by Lia @ Lost in a Story to clear out my reading list of unwanted books. Here is how it works:
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?
Without further ado, here are the next ten books on the TBR:-
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.
So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.
And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist…
To be honest, this book was a no-brainer before I even re-read the synopsis. I love Pratchett’s humour, and Neil Gaiman is also an esteemed author in his own right. Whilst I wasn’t so fond of American Gods as I’d have hoped, I did enjoy Stardust. This is an easy keeper for me!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.
Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As he tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, we are drawn into the workings of Christopher’s mind.
And herein lies the key to the brilliance of Mark Haddon’s choice of narrator: The most wrenching of emotional moments are chronicled by a boy who cannot fathom emotion. The effect is dazzling, making for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing is a mind that perceives the world literally.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the freshest debuts in years: a comedy, a heartbreaker, a mystery story, a novel of exceptional literary merit that is great fun to read.
This is a book I had heard of growing up, but it wasn’t until I understood what was special about it, i.e. that the main character is autistic that I added it to the list.
One of the ladies I used to work with has an autistic nephew, and I’m curious to take a moment and see things from an autistic child’s perspective. I think we could all benefit from gaining some understanding of autism and how people think differently on the whole! It is easy for people to be labelled nowadays, “fat”, “thin”, “simple” etc. I don’t want to use any further slurs, including race and religion because frankly, I don’t condone them. I acknowledge their existence here.
This book is also a keeper!
Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:
Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)
Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)
Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.
This is the first book I am resigning from the list. The synopsis sounds perfectly okay and readable, but doesn’t sound WOW! It lacks the pop, so it’s going to drop…
A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square 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—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.
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 provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?
An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by a quest for truth—and a fight for control of earthshaking power.
I remember adding this book to my TBR – what drew me to it was how different it was to anything else out there! I also like the idea of the story being chronicled in the manner of articles etc instead of prose.
What if you could live multiple lives simultaneously, have constant, perfect companionship, and never die? That’s the promise of Join, a revolutionary technology that allows small groups of minds to unite, forming a single consciousness that experiences the world through multiple bodies. But as two best friends discover, the light of that miracle may be blinding the world to its horrors.
Chance and Leap are jolted out of their professional routines by a terrifying stranger—a remorseless killer who freely manipulates the networks that regulate life in the post-Join world. Their quest for answers—and survival—brings them from the networks and spire communities they’ve known to the scarred heart of an environmentally ravaged North American continent and an underground community of the “ferals” left behind by the rush of technology.
In the storytelling tradition of classic speculative fiction from writers like David Mitchell and Michael Chabon, Join offers a pulse-pounding story that poses the largest possible questions: How long can human life be sustained on our planet in the face of environmental catastrophe? What does it mean to be human, and what happens when humanity takes the next step in its evolution? If the individual mind becomes obsolete, what have we lost and gained, and what is still worth fighting for?
I’m a little on the fence about this one. I’ve had to have a good long think about it.
I love the idea of the book exploring advancement in technology and individuality (or the lack of). I feel my reservations are the result of thinking the synopsis isn’t written all that well. I’m going to keep it tentatively based on potential.
A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.
Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.
Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.
When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.
Set in a phenomenally built world in which justice is a collective force bestowed on a few, craftsmen fly on lightning bolts, and gargoyles can rule cities, Three Parts Dead introduces readers to an ethical landscape in which the line between right and wrong blurs.
Okay, so this was added to the list a year and a half ago. Looking at it now, I can say that my reading preferences have certainly changed. This doesn’t appeal to me anymore, so it’s off the list.
The discovery of a strange and superior warship sends Dion, youngest son of the king of Xanthos, and Chloe, a Phalesian princess, on a journey across the sea, where they are confronted by a kingdom far more powerful than they could ever have imagined.
But they also find a place in turmoil, for the ruthless sun king, Solon, is dying. In order to gain entrance to heaven, Solon is building a tomb—a pyramid clad in gold—and has scoured his own empire for gold until there’s no more to be found.
Now Solon’s gaze turns to Chloe’s homeland, Phalesia, and its famous sacred ark, made of solid gold. The legends say it must never be opened, but Solon has no fear of foreigners’ legends or even their armies. And he isn’t afraid of the eldren, an ancient race of shape-shifters, long ago driven into the Wilds.
For when he gets the gold, Solon knows he will live forever.
This book doesn’t appeal to me much at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I could read it… I may even want to in the future, but I’m not feeling the love right now.
I’ll keep it because I bought a copy, but it’s not something I am likely to pick up in the near future.
From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.
The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.
As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world…
This synopsis really doesn’t say a whole lot about the book, in my opinion. Unless you are die-hard feminist and want to invest into special agent “doctors wife” – nothing stands out about these characters.
It’s a nope from me.
Clearly explaining more than 100 groundbreaking ideas in the field, The Psychology Book uses accessible text and easy-to-follow graphics and illustrations to explain the complex theoretical and experimental foundations of psychology.
From its philosophical roots through behaviorism, psychotherapy, and developmental psychology, The Psychology Book looks at all the greats from Pavlov and Skinner to Freud and Jung, and is an essential reference for students and anyone with an interest in how the mind works.
I definitely have a kindle copy of this – and I am fairly sure I have read at least some of it. Psychology is a subject I am interested in and like to visit periodically, so I’ll keep.
There you have it!
I only dropped three books of the list this time. I think now I am coming to books that I have added more recently (within the past year and a half or so) there will be less I drop off the list as my reading taste will be closer to it is now.
I’ll still benefit from reviewing, however, as you never know. Plus, doing so gets the books put on the ACTUAL reading list I work from.
Have you reviewed your TBR recently?
Happy Halloween, guys!!
Technically where I am from, we don’t celebrate “Halloween”, in the strictest sense. A lot of our local history is steeped in Celtic tradition, so instead, we celebrate an alternately named (but basically the same) holiday!
ANYWAY… back on subject! Tomorrow is the start of a new month so it’s that time again, ladies and gents, to share with you my reading list!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to complete my October list. It was ambitious, I’ll admit, but I was the idiot and piled too much on my plate, so now I have to play catch up.
I am both my own worst enemy and my greatest critic, which is amazing, considering there are so many people out there who are more than happy to put you down. I really need to remember that I have achieved a lot this year and I ought to be proud of myself. I don’t think I’m the only person who feels this way. We all have our own insecurities, after all.
One man’s journey through twelve cities, three decades, and four lovers, all while living with the realities of climate change and technology. The stories about food and history will make you want to travel, and the charming dialogue will make you smile. The book depicts two of the most basic needs in life, that neither technology nor the passing of time can erase: the need to be loved and the need to be protected.
So this is the first of two independent review requests I received this month, and I am very much looking forward to sharing my thoughts about this book with you. This looks to be a little different from the usual thing I would pick up, however having checked out a preview on Goodreads – I think this is something new I will enjoy!
“…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…”
Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.
She is sixteen years old.
Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.
Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.
This is the second book of the month that I am reading on request.
I was extremely glad to have been approached about this. Nobody deserves to suffer, but especially not children. I already know three people who I went to school with, that have suffered terminal illnesses and passed away as a result. It’s awful! In an ever-changing world and with advancing technology, is everlasting life a possibility? Is it a desirable thing? I really hope this book challenges these ideas.
When you have spent your life in the shadows, what would you do at the dying of the light?
Three years ago the best murder detective in London is blamed for the death of his colleague and kicked out of the Met.
A man with secrets buried in the past and present returns to London, the city that started the mysterious career which made him a billionaire.
The two need each other.
But they have no idea how much.
A gripping crime thriller mystery with twists from the beginning to end.
I decided this month to try something a little different. Whilst I am not adverse to the genre, I don’t read much in the way of crime/thriller, although I do have plans to read more books within this genre. I don’t know much about this book, so I am almost taking a leap of faith with it. I see a lot of people testifying that it is a good way to approach a book, as there is no prejudice.
4 Zero Debt: Break the Debt Cycle and Reclaim Your Life – Neeraj Deginal
“Yes, being debt-free is POSSIBLE. If I could do it, then, anyone can do it!” – Neeraj Deginal Zero Debts – Break the Debt Cycle and Re-Claim Your Life, is about the author’s ten-year long journey from going neck deep into debt to being absolutely debt-free.
In this book you will learn:
How the author got into debt (circumstances)
How being in debt paralysed cognitive decision making
How even simple day to day life became complicated
The thought process applied by the author to analyse his situation rationally
Systematic steps taken by the author to become and stay debt-free and the dilemmas faced during execution
Further actions taken to simplify life and plan for a better life
This book seeks to inspire the reader to become debt-free, which eventually leads them to total freedom, be it, financial freedom, emotional freedom or freedom from stress.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author via The Book Club, so thank you very much!! As a general rule, I don’t normally reach for self-help books. I read to escape reality. One of the last things I like to confront myself with is problems, (be they real or potential ones). I am going to hold my hands up and say that whilst I am perfectly on top of my finances, I feel this book could be worth deviating from the norm. It is good to learn from other people’s experiences; let’s not forget our circumstances can change in the blink of an eye.
Last year, I had to contend with being made redundant. At this point, I had moved into and was financing my own flat. I would be lying if I said that wasn’t a stressful time for me. Thankfully everything worked out, but it is best to prepare for every eventuality.
Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.
When Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.
Fingers crossed I will actually get around to reading this book this month…
I’m sure I will – I’m making sure my schedule is a little more manageable. I’m not making that mistake again.
When Dan Roberts starts his new job at Former.ly, he has no idea what he’s getting into. The site deals in death – its users share their innermost thoughts, which are stored privately until they die. Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences.
But something strange is going on, and the site’s two erratic founders share a dark secret. A secret that people are willing to kill for.
This is a book I have downloaded via Netgalley, and it drew my attention as it features a kind of modern technology that is potentially relevant to today’s society.
I have mixed feelings about social media. Obviously, when used correctly and safely it is a useful tool to keep in touch with friends and relatives. By very nature, bloggers use the Internet and social media in order to get books and their opinions out there. There are people that abuse this technology, sadly. I’ll outright admit that I am against the idea of social media use featured in the book. I’m curious to see if my feelings are justified or not.
You may also have noticed that with the exception of one book, I acquired all of these for free..? Guilty!! Not only do I have to think about Christmas soon (yep, it’s that time), I also have a short trip away with some of my female friends that I have to plan for. Every little helps, right? This will not impact my posting schedule – I’ll be sure to plan ahead so you guys don’t miss out!
So that is my reading list for November!! Has anyone read any of the books featured on the list?
Good morning everybody!!
I cannot believe it is nearly November already!! Hasn’t that just flown by?! It always amazes me how days or weeks can feel like they are dragging on, yet from a different perspective, time seems to be running away from us!
So, after my last Sunday Summary last week, I did manage to finish IT by Stephen King at about 11pm! I have never felt so happy to finish a book and be content with the way it ended. I also published my review on Friday, so if you would like to check that out, here’s a cheeky little link!
Following on from IT, I was hoping to enjoy a couple of smaller reads from authors I haven’t picked up in a while, as a nice way to round off the month. Sounds like a plan, right?
Time to confess that I’m an idiot. I decided I wanted to read The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson and The Black Prism by Brent Weeks, not realising that the former of those books is just over a thousand pages long in itself.
So I’m currently working my way through this second epic in a row. I am currently about 40% through and I am enjoying it, but I can’t seem to read it at the kind of pace I would like. Perhaps I have burned out a little?
Needless to say, given that I am going to struggle to read The Way of Kings before the end of the month, I am going to postpone The Black Prism to next month. It’s a shame, but what can I do?
I didn’t spend a single penny on books this week!! I dread to think the last time that happened…
That isn’t to say I didn’t acquire a couple of books though!!
I downloaded Ekata: Fall of Darkness by Dominique Law via Netgalley.
I also received a copy of Zero Debt: Break the Debt Cycle and Reclaim Your Life by Neeraj Deginal via The Book Club, so thank you very much for getting me in touch with the author.
I’ll admit this isn’t a typical read for me, but I figured it could have some worthwhile information or advice. Let’s face it, at some point in our lives 99% of us have some kind of debt, arranged or not. I would imagine we would only think about taking on any debt management advice when it’s too late and the vicious cycle already has its grip on you. I figured this to be a great opportunity to get one step ahead!
Next week brings us both Halloween and the beginning of a new month, so on Tuesday, I’ll be publishing my reading list for November. I’m also looking forward to working with a couple of authors who have provided me with copies of their books in exchange for reviews! No spoilers now – you’ll have to check out my post on Tuesday!
I also need to give myself some breathing space from reviews and catch up reading, so I am going to be publishing another “Down the TBR Hole” post on Friday. I think I’ll be adventurous again and sort through the next ten books on the list! I hope you can join me for that.
As ever, I’ll also be rounding up the week as usual.
So that has been my week… how about yours? What are you reading? I’d love to hear from you!!
How does anyone even go about reviewing such a mammoth book as this? It is something I have been thinking about for a few days now. After much deliberation, I decided that much like George Denborough, I was just going to get dragged into it somehow…
I won’t give up my day job, I promise. I’ll just crack on with the review, shall I…?
It was the children who saw – and feel – what made the small town of Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurks, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread.
Time passes and the children grow up, move away and forget. Until they are called back, once more to confront IT as it stirs and coils in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.
The year is 1985. The residents of Derry have lived in peace for the last 27 years. When IT awakes once more, the town slips into quiet unease. IT feeds off fear. Lurking in the shadows and manifesting as the beholders worst nightmare, it manipulates the wild imaginations of children, using it to terrorise and murder them.
After the death of his brother George in late 1957, Bill Denborough and his friends Beverly, Ben, Eddie, Mike, Stan and Richie unite against the monster in the sewers and somehow make it out alive. 27 years later, Mike Hanlon watches the death toll begin to rise once again and tries to reason against the truth. Eventually, he makes good his promise made all those years before: if IT came back, then he and his friends had to go back and kill IT for good.
If there is anyone out there who doesn’t know, this book is incredibly long. The edition I read was precisely 1,376 pages. Not only is this the longest book I have read ever, but I also managed to read it in just about two weeks! I was quite impressed I will admit. The next longest book I have read is War & Peace (which I also read this year). This is a few hundred pages shorter but still tops over a thousand. This also took me two weeks to read. Not bad going, in my book.
IT’s length is probably a turn-off for a lot of people, but I genuinely think that the length is necessary. I’d like to explain why.
A person’s way of thinking, their experience, history and relationship with fear is very personal. In order for the reader to get under the skin of each of the seven characters of this story, we had to learn an awful lot about them.
I absolutely agree that there is a lot of description and back story before we get to any real point of hair-raising action and from what I have read, some people aren’t so fond of that. I don’t think I could truly have invested into the characters without it.
That’s not to say I loved each and every one of the characters all the time; there were moments I liked and disliked them.
I loved Beverly when she fought and left her abusive husband to go to Derry and make good on her promise. That isn’t to say I understand why she would have tolerated that in the first place, exactly. Well, I do; she says as much herself that she married her father (not literally, but her father was violent towards her child-self). I’m saying, having blessedly not grown up with that, I don’t understand because I would never tolerate that behaviour towards me. Just a word of warning, lads.
“You pay for what you get, you own what you pay for… and sooner or later whatever you own comes back home to you.”
IT – Stephen King
I cannot praise this book highly enough for the way it was written. King really does know how to draw you in as a reader. It is his realistic portrayal of characters that I love best about his writing.The perspective of the book frequently changes between time periods, especially so at the end, but manages to achieve this seamlessly.
Naturally, each of the characters has changed dramatically during a quarter of a century, but the consistency of the character’s mindset and attitudes to the respective timeframe (and to their background) is spot on.
The timeline of events for each “period” is also frequently discussed and this also seemingly consistent.
I have already mentioned the manner in which the book splits between the time periods of 1958 and 1985. One of the effective techniques King uses to maintain suspense is by slowly unveiling the events of the first encounter in 1958 by having trigger events in 1985 prompt each character to recover memories of IT.
It is entirely possible, when an individual experiences a traumatic event, for the mind to repress these memories as a coping strategy.
Therefore, not only does each of these small revelations keep the reader engaged with the story, but it also has a psychological foundation.
As events unfold in 1985 we simultaneously re-live the first encounter with IT. Whilst we have glimpses of the end of their troubles in 1958, we only learn the detail of their duel with the devil at the same time as when they go back that second (and hopefully last) time. The last few hundred pages flew for me. I also have no nails left. Literally.
I’m going to be honest and say that I didn’t find the book “scary”. Of course, it is unpleasant to read about children being murdered and vulnerable people being manipulated into committing heinous acts. What I am saying is this, I didn’t lose any sleep from reading it. The majority of fears experienced and again re-lived as adults are the fears of children – the dark, clowns, werewolves and the school bully, for instance. Whilst the book absolutely lives up to the genre of horror, I wasn’t uncomfortable reading it.
Despite the genre of the book, I found it had some lovely, positive notes that could be taken away from it; for example, the power of friendship. Here is one of my favourite quotes by way of an example:-
“Maybe there aren’t any such things as good friends or bad friends – maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you’re hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they’re always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for too, if that’s what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.”
IT – Stephen King
Emotions like fear, anguish, anger and despair are what makes us human. But what also make us human is our ability to hope, to dream and to believe.
Would you rather live having never experienced emotion?
I say give me the good, the bad and the ugly – after all, they say that it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.
Hi!! I hope everyone is having a wonderful Tuesday so far!
Today I wanted to do something a little different – it’s another meme frequenting the world of blogging and I’m excited to dive in!! Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish for the purpose of sharing lists about a variety of book-related topics.
Personally, I feel like I spend a lot of time talking about books I love and enjoy, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! After all, I am not intentionally going to pick up a book I know I am not going to like.
That being said, sometimes with the best will in the world, we cannot love everything. Books that other people rave about, or books you think you will really enjoy just don’t always cut the mustard. (This is a really bizarre expression, but I love it!) These books are the feature of today’s post, so let’s get to it!
I’m writing the list in reverse order, so I’m starting with the least offensive books:-
10. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
I think I’ll get some hate on this one. It is not that I didn’t like it. I did. I DID, OKAY?! I just didn’t love it… and I really thought (hoped) I would. This is a book that has been talked about a lot this year and perhaps the hype got my hopes up. It’s an okay read – and I would probably pick it up again (as has been recommended to me)… but not yet.
9. Eric – Terry Pratchett
Again, this is a book in which I enjoyed certain parts of, but not all. Towards the end of the book, Rincewind and Eric have to make their way through Hell back to the Discworld. I particularly loved this part as Hell was basically run like an office, with memos, policy statements and torture by boredom instead of the traditional variety of physical methods. Working in an office for 35 hours a week, I saw the humour in this, but not much else. It isn’t a bad book, but not one of Pratchett’s finest in my humble opinion.
8. Moving Pictures – Terry Pratchett
It’s bad enough having one Pratchett book on here, never mind two!!
I just found this one to be really slow. At school I studied a lot of theatre so this parody of the magic of Hollywood should have been right up my street. Sad to say, I found it a bit dull.
7. The Inheritance Cycle series – Christopher Paolini
I started this series whilst studying my A-Levels, and I have fond memories of reading Eragon whilst on break duty, supervising the kids in the younger years.
I think by the time I came to read Eldest I had outgrown the series – I found it a little bit childish and ultimately, I have given up on it. If I had read it sooner I probably would have enjoyed it.
6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
My dad would absolutely hate me if I knew this was on my list of most disappointing books. I don’t mind the film so much, but I find it really silly. It’s not supposed to be a book you take seriously, sure. I just didn’t enjoy it all that much.
5. The Great Iron War Series – Dean Wilson
I started this series this year. I also DNF’d it this year. The foundations of the series are good – I love the base plot and the motivations of the characters. What I dislike about the books is how repetitive and unrealistic they are.
“Well damn, the enemy broke my super expensive submarine. Good job I kept an arsenal of weapons and a barrage balloon on standby… you know, just in case.”
Right. Sounds legit, no?
4. The Books of Pellinor – Alison Croggon
I really enjoyed three-quarters of this series. Guess which one let me down.
The Singing, of course. The build-up to this huge battle between “The Chosen One” and the darkness begins early on and you know what? By the time the battle actually came Alison must have realised she only had about 12 pages left in her, rushed the ending very badly, and for me, the whole series just fell flat on its face. I was so disappointed, as this had so much promise.
3. Magician’s Guild – Trudi Canavan
Now we are getting to the really bad books. This was a DNF pretty much straight away as I couldn’t get into it. There isn’t much more to it than that.
2. The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness
The idea of a world in which you can read minds sounds both fantastic and scary right?! I thought so too, but this was also a DNF straight away. I seem to recall I thought it came across a bit childish, but I attempted this years and years and years ago and truth be told, I’ve erased the painful memory of trying to read this from my mind.
1. The Darkness that Comes Before – Scott Bakker
What makes this book the worst on my list is that by every right, I should have enjoyed it. I felt so strongly that I should, I ended up forcing myself to read it and that was a mistake. I’ve even attempted a re-read years later and I cannot get into it. I don’t like the main character; I find the fantasy world confusing… the list goes on. It doesn’t get any better. I can honestly say that whilst I am sure someone out there loves it… I don’t. It gets the top prize for being the worst book I ever read.
So that makes up my list of the Top Ten Most Disappointing Books!!
The important thing to remember is that everybody has different tastes and we are all entitled to our opinions. I’m basically saying don’t hate on me for any of my choices, pretty please?
Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with me?