Tag: bookreview

Audiobook Review: Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Today I am sharing an audiobook review for Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I listened to this audiobook last year and finished it in September. It’s been a little while since I finished this, however, I have listened to its sequel Crooked Kingdom more recently.

I really enjoyed listening to Six of Crows and today’s post is all about sharing what I loved about it! Before that though, here are the details of the book: –

 

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads – Six of Crows

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK     Amazon US     Waterstones

 

My Thoughts

My favourite thing about this particular book, and series, is the depth and detail of the world that has been created. Whilst I have only listened to this duology from Leigh Bardugo, my understanding is that it ties in with another series she has written (The Shadow and Bone series). It really shows in the detail. Those that read my reviews regularly will know that I talk about the setting and history of a novel a lot. It’s a big factor on whether I enjoy fantasy stories such as these or not. It worked really well for me, and I think I will be reading or listening to her other series based on what I have enjoyed listening to already.

As I listened to the audiobook version of Six of Crows, I got the benefit of a variety of narrators to add to the overall diversity in characterisation. I really liked that the story was split into several perspectives, but not so many that it becomes difficult to understand who our perspective is narrated by and what is going on. Each perspective is distinct, unique and adds to the storyline.

The daring, impossible criminal heist element of the storyline really drew me in and I’m glad I picked up Six of Crows. This was the first book I have read by Leigh Bardugo and I’ll be reading more of her books based on this one. It’s nail-biting and exciting. I agree with some of the reviews offering criticism about how events play out – it does seem a little unrealistic given the circumstances. However, I didn’t really think about it at the time – it was still enjoyable all the same!

Have you read or listened to Six of Crows? What do you think of it?

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

***Please note this post contains affiliate links, meaning that I will earn a small commission on purchases made through them. If you like what you read and are interested in purchasing a copy of the book(s) featured in this post, please consider using these links and supporting a book blogger!

Thank you!***

Book Review: Circe – Madeline Miller

In today’s book review post, I am sharing my thoughts on Circe by Madeline Miller. I read this book on holiday last October and it’s finally time to share my thoughts on the book! I had heard and read so many great reviews on it, so I was optimistic that I would really love it!

 

Circe – Madeline Miller

Goodreads – Circe

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

 

My Thoughts…

Whilst I did enjoy reading Circe, my perception of the book definitely suffered from the hype it got from others. It’s always a little disappointing when that happens, but it does happen occasionally! This is still a solid 3-star rated read – don’t think I am not saying I didn’t like it! I just… expected a bit more considering all the fuss over it.

I enjoyed the premise of the book and how Circe does not fit in. She makes her own way, and her own mistakes too. Plenty of them, in fact. Her independence is one of her only redeeming qualities in my eyes, however. I found it really difficult to relate to Circe, and that’s why I think my overall feel of the book is a lower rating than normal. Circe is vain, selfish, and really not all that endearing. No character is ever going to be perfect and flaws add realistic dimension, but I didn’t think there was much in the way of development throughout.

Despite my feelings for Circe’s character, I do have to give credit to the author for how well she includes so many of the Greek gods into the story in an uncomplicated manner. If you don’t know much about Greek gods, I’ll tell you this much – there’s a lot of them! I don’t have extensive knowledge of them; I’ve read one book about them (Mythos by Stephen Fry). Even so, I didn’t get lost in the plethora of characters as Circe interacts with them at various stages. Each God is introduced and explained in the narrative where relevant, so I don’t think any background knowledge is needed. Although, I won’t deny it was helpful.

The book itself is written very well. The flow of the narrative and the chapter sizes are very easy to read. I read this within a couple of days on holiday. That is a testament to how easy this is to read. I was able to pick it up and get straight back into the story in between reading breaks.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to, but Circe was still an interesting read and I liked the cleverness of the storyline.

Have you read Circe? What are your thoughts on it?

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Review: iRemember – S. V. Bekvalac

Happy weekend readers! I hope you are having a good one? Since we are all in the middle of lockdown, what better way to spend your time than curled up with a good book? That’s how I am spending mine anyway.

If you are looking for book recommendations, then I hope I can help you here. Today I am taking part in the blog tour for iRemember by S. V. Bekvalac and sharing my thoughts on her book. iRemember is perfect for science fiction and/or dystopian fiction fans… so if that’s your cup of tea please read on!

Quickly before I jump in, huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

 

iRemember – S. V. Kekvalac

Goodreads – iRemember

The city of iRemember shimmers in the desert haze, watched over by the Bureau, a government agency that maintains control through memory surveillance and little pink pills made from the narcotic plant Tranquelle.

It looks like an oasis under its geodesic dome, but the city is under siege. ‘Off-Gridder’ insurgents are fighting to be forgotten.

Bureau Inspector Icara Swansong is on a mission to neutralise the threat. Her investigation leads her into iRemember’s secret underbelly, where she finds herself a fugitive from the very system she had vowed to protect. She has to learn new rules: trust no one. Behind every purple Tranquelle stalk lurk double-agents.

A sci-fi noir with a psychedelic twist, iRemember explores the power the past holds over us and the fragility of everything: what is, what once was, and what will be.

 

Purchase Links –   Amazon UK     Amazon US

For a limited time, iRemember will be available for only 99p.

 

My Thoughts…

iRemember has all the elements expected of dystopian fiction novels – the means to subdue a population and then control it. iRemember was created to allow citizens to protect their memories. The human mind is far from perfect, so why risk losing your precious moments to time and degradation or forgetfulness when you can upload them? That was the idea anyway… and citizens signed up in the thousands.

Helena Frome is the head of the totalitarian government now governing the City. iRemember has become her means of surveillance. Citizens own thoughts and memories can betray them if picked up by those monitoring the data being uploaded to iRemember. Icara Swansong is an agent of the Bureau working for Helena Frome, to rid the world of corruption, but she is fighting a losing battle. Beneath the calming Tranquelle fumes, a dark side of the city simmers away, longing to be forgotten and will do whatever they can to achieve it.

As a huge fan of both science fiction and dystopian novels, iRemember was a great read for me! Set in a futuristic world, the Bureaucrats have all the latest, fancy technology and software. Primitive versions of tech and traditional weapons we know today are relegated to the city’s forgotten underbelly, the Sub Urbs. Despite being more advanced, the technology used in this futuristic universe is very similar to some of the more sophisticated technology we have now and is therefore familiar.

The narrative of iRemember is so twisty that you don’t know who to trust at any given moment. Who is in whose pocket and undercover influence shape the story in an exciting way. Character relations are complex and you’ll find yourself second-guessing people’s motives constantly! I certainly did! There is a vast array in the characters within the novel too. I really enjoyed Lucian’s personal history and cynicism, especially paired with Icara’s overzealous optimism.

The overall story is written really well and draws the reader into the complex web. I really enjoyed reading iRemember and the combination of genres it encompasses. Nothing is ever as it seems and the narrative keeps you on your toes throughout! iRemember is a twisty tale full of deceit, lies and corruption… and cover-ups!

 

Author Bio

SV Bekvalac was born in 1987 in Croatia, in what was then Yugoslavia, but grew up in London.

She studied German and Russian at Oxford, and went to film school in Prague. After almost becoming a film-maker and then an academic, researching cities and films, she found herself writing fiction about cities instead. She started off with screenplays and short stories, but they got longer and longer. iRemember is her first novel.

She has lived in cities all over Europe. Now she lives in London, or in one of her own imaginary cities.

 

Social Media Links Twitter @sandra_bek @EyeAndLightning

Book Review: These Are Not the Trinity Papers – Vale Zalecki

Today’s book review post features a science-fiction/thriller/horror novel that I gratefully received from the author in exchange for an honest review. The synopsis is really intriguing and very unlike anything I have ever picked up before. These Are Not the Trinity Papers is a real mix of genres, so even my best guess about what to expect from the synopsis was blown out the window… in a good way!

 

These Are Not the Trinity Papers – Vale Zalecki

Goodreads – These Are Not the Trinity Papers

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

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

 

Purchase Links:   Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

Isaac Beringer lives a reasonably quiet and comfortable life on his farm with his wife. He doesn’t remember much about his psychotic episode all those years ago but frankly, he is happy to forget about the whole damn thing. Other people have different ideas though. Isaac and his ideas have acquired an intense following and there are several parties interested in a piece of his madness. Yet some are willing to go further than others to get it…

I really enjoyed the futuristic world-building of the novel. The technology is more advanced but the world itself is very familiar and not-too-distant to what we know. In my opinion, there is the right balance of technological advancement; Isaac and Elias’ work fits in with the current climate as a feasible possibility but isn’t so far along that the reader becomes alienated from the setting of the book.

Isaac has lived without the technological frills the world at large is used to; his way of life is very much like our own now. As a character, he is very affable and relatable. Elias is at the other end of the spectrum, with every kind of technology at his fingertips. Elias introduces Isaac to a whole new way of living and lifts him out of his monotonous life. His position lends his character a degree of arrogance initially, but as the book progresses we see more of the man behind the billion-dollar company and more about his personal ambitions and motivations.

Those that like LGBT representations in books will enjoy a particular character relationship in this book. It’s a little unusual given the age difference between the characters as well. But at the same time, it felt completely natural. It isn’t forced in any way. Their situation draws them together and it feels right. You know sometimes how LGBT representation is championed as normal (which it is), but then hyped up so much that it stands out like a sore thumb? Yeah, me too. It’s so contradictory it bugs me. However, if you want to read a narrative where this isn’t the case, I’m pointing you in the right direction. I’ve seen the LGBT relationship in this book described as understated, but I don’t agree with that. I’d say other LGBT relationships are overstated… but that’s just my opinion.

I really enjoyed the blend of genres that came together in this novel. They complement each other really well! I had no idea where this whirlwind of a story was going to end up and I was surprised constantly by what happened next! I really didn’t expect some of the elements of the book, so it definitely has the capability to surprise most readers.

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Book Review: Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Today’s review features a book that I was really unsure of when I borrowed it from my library in August last year. That’s precisely why I borrowed it from the library really. I didn’t want to purchase it in case I didn’t enjoy it. By picking it up I was trying something completely out of my comfort zone.

So, if it was completely out of my comfort zone, why did I want to read it? Well, I’ve read and heard great things about it, for a start. Not only that, but I was drawn into it by the fact that it handles a very sensitive subject: euthanasia. I’m glad I read it too! Whilst it was a gamble, it was one that paid off massively!

 

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Goodreads – Me Before You

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

 

My Thoughts…

If I were asked to liken myself to a book character, I would have to say Louisa. She is a ditzy, clumsy, optimistic young woman who always tries to please others. She doesn’t always succeed, but she does her best. From the very first few pages, I felt like I knew her – I liked her. Her bubbly personality makes her instantly likeable and her evident flaws have you laughing along at her. Good naturedly, of course. Will is very much her counterpoint. After the accident that left him paralysed, he feels he has very little to live for. His friends and ex-girlfriend have long disappeared, his family broken apart from the strain of it all and he is trapped in the middle with no escape. His pessimism and sarcasm make him an entirely different character to Louisa, verging on unlikeable.

When Louisa takes on the job of caring for Will, she has no idea how that decision will change both of their lives. Did I expect to enjoy the romance element of the book? No. I didn’t really. It’s not my cup of tea, and yet, I couldn’t help but find myself warming to the two of them. Their relationship builds subtly over time. At first their differences set them miles apart but Louisa’s persistence wins through. We see a side of Will that he has tried so hard to close off, to make things easier at the end. Their feelings for each other don’t stem from a shallow physical attraction. It’s an emotional bond all about companionship. They see the worst of each other and it doesn’t matter.

Will’s position and views are difficult for a lot of people to come to terms with. His choice must be an impossible one to make. You would think his very contrary position would make him difficult to relate to, but I didn’t find that at all. The subject is handled so well. Me Before You is a very emotional book. I knew the ending, so I knew what I was getting myself in for anyway. Don’t worry; I made sure to finish this at home so I could bawl my eyes out without being judged. If you’re judging me now for it, you clearly haven’t read this book. I challenge you to read Me Before You and not cry.

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Book Review: The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

It’s rare that I pre-order books ahead of release, but The Testaments by Margaret Atwood was an exception. I’m glad I did too! Not only was I eagerly awaiting it for months, but it’s unique in that it has been written thirty years after its predecessor, The Handmaid’s Tale.

I was super excited to get my hands on this in paperback the day of release. I even joked that day that I had subconsciously dressed in the colours of the cover! When I went to go and get my copy though, my day got better. Waterstones stores had one signed copy each, and one person who pre-ordered won the competition to that copy. I wouldn’t count myself as lucky, but I do that day. I won the signed edition!

 

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

Goodreads – The Testaments

When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” –Margaret Atwood

 

My Thoughts…

I’m glad Margaret Atwood didn’t try to emulate The Handmaid’s Tale too much. Trying to write a book in the same setting thirty years on just wouldn’t have been the same. It would have been disappointing. Furthermore, I really enjoyed exploring how Gilead’s society had progressed since the first book!

Having multiple narrators struck me as unusual when I first picked up the book – especially since The Handmaid’s Tale gives us just one perspective. Having read the book though, it works. It’s necessary too. There is no one person with all the information needed to tell of Gilead’s future. Each narrative voice is clear and identifiable from each other. Having each different perspective breaks up the story nicely. The length of each chapter is perfect to include all the action needed, but short enough to keep luring you in with “just one more”.

I feel sorry for this book in a way as it has a lot of poor reviews. Why? Because it isn’t a regurgitation of The Handmaid’s Tale… that it’s different. I feel like these people really don’t appreciate the sentiment behind the novel at all. You all have missed the point! Is The Testaments a necessary follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale? Perhaps not. It is fitting though. Society in 1985 was a lot different than it is today. We have far more freedom to be who we are without repression from others. Society isn’t static so why expect Gilead to be in a time warp? The fact is, the changes in Gilead and personal perspectives mirror the kind of changes in our own society.

I think The Testaments is the kind of book you are either going to love or hate. To be expected, I suppose. High profile books are often hit or miss on how well people rate them. Normally I am disappointed, but not with this one! I hope you readers love it as much as I did.

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Review: Tooth and Blade – Julian Barr

Welcome to today’s blog tour review for Tooth and Blade by Julian Barr. I hope you are having a lovely weekend?

I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you about this book. When Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources circulated the book and tour details, I was immediately drawn in by the combination of Norse mythology and fantasy. I’ve read a few books with elements of Norse mythology in them, such as Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories (aka The Last Kingdom) series. I really enjoy reading more about it and was curious to see how these elements would come together.

As always, thank you to Rachel and to the author Julian Barr for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!

 

Tooth and Blade – Julian Barr

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

Two worlds. One destiny.

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

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

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

A monster sheds no tears.

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

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK     Amazon US     Books2Read

 

My Thoughts…

Dóta is a daughter of two worlds. Born to human parents but raised by trolls, she is a unique character. Until she is permitted to go up to the surface and experience the world for herself, Dóta lives a sheltered life. Only her mother and brother’s stories about her past and the world above feed her curiosity, until one day she is sent above to hunt for herself.

Tooth and Blade is a tale of magic, discovery, identity and conflict. As I expected, I really enjoyed the Norse mythology element. I am still a novice when it comes to knowledge of Norse mythology, however, I know the basics. The gods and concepts of destiny and fate were present consistently throughout the book, so it definitely has a significant influence on the narrative.

At 288 pages, these three novellas together are an excellent length to establish an interesting world and allow for plenty of action and character development. I actually read Tooth and Blade in a couple of days. The story and writing style flow so well that it makes for an easy read to pick up and enjoy.

Tooth and Blade has many elements that wouldn’t typically be put together into one narrative, and yet it all gelled perfectly. The narrative has a solid plotline that cleverly brings all the characters and their different backgrounds together. Dóta is my favourite of all though. She is a truly unique character who doesn’t strictly fit in. She’s fierce and a fighter, and after all the turmoil of discovering who she really is, she decides to carve her own path instead of letting others decide what role she should play.

Dóta isn’t the only strong female character. There are other female warriors, trained to protect the King no less. My experience of Norse/Viking novels is that lead characters are very young, alpha-male personalities. Men. Tooth and Blade showed a completely different perspective, which is refreshing!

If you’d like to read more about Tooth and Blade, you can check out some of the other blog tour posts – details below.

 

Author Bio

Julian Barr first fell in love with all things ancient and magical in childhood, when he staged his own version of I, Claudius using sock puppets. After his PhD in Classics, he did a brief stint as a schoolteacher, hated being called ‘sir,’ and dived into storytelling. Although he remains open to the possibilities of sock puppet theatre, historical fantasy is his passion. He has published scholarly research on Roman medicine and the gastronomic habits of Centaurs, but prefers to think of himself as an itinerant bard. He is also the author of the Ashes of Olympus trilogy.

Social Media Links –

https://twitter.com/jbarrauthor

https://www.facebook.com/jbarrauthor/

https://jbarrauthor.com/

 

Blog Tour Review: Helene – Karl Drinkwater

Today’s blog tour post is a review of Helene by Karl Drinkwater. Helene is a really enjoyable short science-fiction story that relates to Karl’s Lost Solace series. As it happens, I haven’t read these books and I am new to this author. If you haven’t read these books don’t worry, because you don’t really need to! I actually enjoyed reading Helene as an introduction to the Lost Solace universe.

Before I get stuck in with my review in earnest, I would like to take the opportunity to thank both Karl and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour! It’s only day one of the tour, so please lookout for the other posts coming up over the coming days. You can find a list of all those taking part in the tour at the bottom of this post!

Helene – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Helene (Lost Tales of Solace #1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/b/Helene

 

My Thoughts…

Short stories are a great way of changing up your reading habits or trying something new. I read more short stories last year than I ever have before, and reading Helene has reminded me of why I enjoy them so much! At 72 pages, this science-fiction novel is a great way to enjoy a good story in a small space of time. I read Helene in two sittings over this weekend in coffee breaks. Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy something lighter than the several-hundred-page epics I’m known to read.

Helene has a simple, easy to read writing style, so it’s perfect to just pick up and dive into straight away. I think there is a certain stigma to science-fiction and that it’s perceived as complicated. This really wasn’t. Any science terms were explained in layman’s terms so it wasn’t an effort to understand at all. The narrative style has a relaxed flow that I found really easy to read. The chapter lengths also make this easy to pick up and put down at leisure.

What also made Helene great for me was that even in the conciseness of the story, there is plenty of background information for the reader to get to learn a little of the Lost Solace universe. It’s just enough to serve as an introduction without getting too heavy or detracting from the action of the short story in itself. It was a perfect balance. The ending of the book links in with the Lost Solace series, which I didn’t understand entirely until I read the synopsis of that book and a couple of reviews afterwards. It doesn’t detract from the book at all though – if anything, it makes you want to read on and find out how the story evolves.

Artificial Intelligence is a huge topic within the science-fiction genre. That said, the premise of teaching and socialising ViraUHX was one that I haven’t come across before and is quite unique. It also allows plenty of opportunity for humour and there are a good number of laugh-out-loud moments in this short book.

 

Author Bio

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/karlzdrinkwater/

https://twitter.com/karldrinkwater

https://www.instagram.com/authorkdrinkwater/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5766025.Karl_Drinkwater

 

Blog Tour Review: Songbird – Karen Heehan

In today’s blog tour review post I’ll be talking about Songbird by Karen Heehan. I’m in a great position to write this review as I have just finished the book. Songbird is a historical fiction novel set in one of my favourite historical time periods. I have a good number of books on the Tudor period of history on my TBR, which is testament to my love of the subject!

Before I jump into my review, I’d firstly like to thank the author and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. As always, the views expressed within are my own.

 

Songbird: A Novel of the Tudor Court – Karen Heehan

Goodreads- Songbird

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

Purchase Link:  https://books2read.com/tudorsongbird

 

My Thoughts…

Combine one of my favourite historical fiction time periods with a character born to sing and perform – a hobby of mine as a teenager – and Songbird is an ideal read for me! In truth, Songbird is far much more than that. I expected a novel a lot more light-hearted than this proved to be, but it is so much better for its unexpected depth.

From a historical perspective, the tale of Katherine’s downfall, Anne Boleyn’s ascension and the political/religious rumblings of the move by Henry VIII is an interesting one. Having the tale narrated by a well-placed servant, party to all the gossip but without allegiance in all the machinations made a refreshing change of perspective. The life of a minstrel in the King’s Court is dictated by his will entirely. Yet, Bess’ personal life and the historical element of the novel are both distinct and complementary to one another. Neither overshadows the other, making for a perfect balance of historically-driven plot and character development.

Elizabeth, or Bess, lives a comfortable life at Court, performing for King Henry VIII. It’s an honour well earned by our songbird, but that honour is tainted by the knowledge that Bess was sold to the King by her family. As a child, Bess is resented by her mother and sister for frittering away her days fostering her talent instead of helping with ‘honest’ work. She is also wrongly blamed for a family tragedy, marring one of the few relationships she has in her young life. Only her father has good motivations in securing her a place in King Henry’s court.

I should have known that such an emotional beginning would be setting a precedent for the rest of the novel. Songbird’s narrative is powerfully emotive. Friendship, love, longing and loss all touch Bess from an early age. The narrative is written entirely from her perspective and her character development plays a strong part in the book. As a reader we experience Bess grow up from an immature young girl into a young woman tempered by her experiences. The stark differences in her character at the start and end of the book are remarkably written.

I confess to shedding a tear or two at times whilst reading this. It might seem bizarre that my next statement is a compliment, but at times the narrative was hard to read. The depth of emotion woven into the narrative is so stark and real. I was so invested in Bess, Tom and the other members of the Music and Henry VIII’s court that their loves and losses were mine. The feelings evoked are incredibly relatable to the reader. Songbird has a profound rawness of emotion throughout the novel that will stick with me for a long time.

 

Author Bio

Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia. She fell in love with books and stories before she learned to read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams – which include gardening, sewing, traveling and, of course, lots of writing.

She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with two cats and a very patient husband.

Social Media Links – 

www.karenheenan.com

www.facebook.com/karenheenanwriter

www.twitter.com/karen_heenan

www.instagram.com/karen.heenan

 

Book Review: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

I read and enjoyed The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton in August last year. I had heard great things about the book, so I treated myself to a paperback copy earlier in the year. For those of you that don’t know, I tend to only buy paperbacks when I have confidence that I’ll really enjoy them. Living in a two-bedroom flat, I don’t have a lot of room for books here. Since space is at a premium, I have to be selective about what I buy physical copies of.

I don’t regret getting The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in paperback. It’s unlike anything I have ever read before!

 

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

Goodreads – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER.

“Gosford Park” meets “Groundhog Day” by way of Agatha Christie – the most inventive story you’ll read this year.

Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again.

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

SELECTED AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE GUARDIAN, I PAPER, FINANCIAL TIMES AND DAILY TELEGRAPH.

 

Purchase Links: – Amazon UK       Amazon US     Waterstones

 

My Thoughts…

Murder mystery meets Groundhog Day in this spectacular mystery/thriller novel! The clock is ticking and Aiden’s chance to solve the murder dwindles day by day. I love the concept of him waking up every morning in someone else’s body. Who he wakes up as on a given day gives him different access to other guests and information to piece together to solve a murder that doesn’t look like murder.

I cannot praise enough how well each different perspective is written! Each of the guests has their own distinctive attitude and personality, which you can see Aiden contending with as he wears their shoes. They have a strong influence over his behaviour – it’s clear whose body he is in at a given time.

Not only do the character shifts work well, but the author also successfully throws in a mix up of chronology in places. You’d think all this mix up would be confusing, but surprisingly, it wasn’t really. You have to concentrate, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t wading through the narrative completely lost as to what was going on and why. There’s enough left hanging to entice you to read on. Naturally, all the answers can’t be given at once. I was never in any doubt that the unresolved plotlines wouldn’t be tied up and explained.

There are plenty of plot twists to keep you hooked on the novel. I for one didn’t foresee any of it coming! There’s a lot of back story about now Aiden came to be at Blackheath, which I thought was very interesting and unusual. It’s amazing what we are able to learn about Aiden, given that we never meet him as truly himself. The characterisation in this book is fantastic.

There isn’t too much I can say without spoiling the story for you, so apologies if my review seems vague. I can say this; The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is the most unique mystery novel I have read to date. I will without a doubt be picking up Stuart Turton’s future novels.

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

*** Please note this post contains affiliate links, meaning that I will earn a small commission on purchases made through them. If you like what you read and are interested in purchasing a copy of the book(s) featured in this post, please consider using these links and supporting a book blogger! Thank you! ***