Tag: bookreview

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 12th August 2018

It’s the end of another week friends! Have you all had a good one? It’s been a pretty good one here, I have to say. Despite it being a normal working week, I’ve had the pleasure of reading some pretty fantastic books. That’s what counts, right?

I really enjoyed writing my review for Children of Blood & Bone this week. I think the book is fantastic and I am so glad it has received such a positive reception. Interestingly, I also saw Tomi Adeyemi on BBC News… in which she said that a film was being made of the book! I’ve read the book first, so that’s license to go and watch the film when it’s out. That is if they show it here…

On Friday I also published the latest Down the TBR Hole post, with little success in clearing out the list. I only binned off one book, but at least I know I still want to read the other nine I reviewed. What can I say; I just have good taste in books!

 

Books Read

This week feels like a really productive one!

I have been reading The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, and I will say, it is quite a dense read. Since last week I have progressed from around 20% to 47%. I’m nearly half way! It is hard going at times though. It’s not that the book isn’t enjoyable… it is just that there is a lot going on and a lot of information to process. I’ve found that I read it better when I take breaks and read something else in between chapters.

For a few days, that “something else” has been Individutopia by Joss Sheldon. I would argue that this book is more political type fiction than I would normally read, but I have enjoyed it though! I finished this last night as I listened to the rain belting against the window and the wind howling (perfect reading weather, imho). I’m going to be sharing my thoughts with you really soon, so stay tuned. Reading this book in between has also been useful as I am pretty up to date with reviews – spending too long on Eye of the World would make me struggle for content. It’s a win-win situation.

In the same vein as Individutopia, I have started reading The Relic Guild in between chapters of The Eye of the World. I am only a few chapters in so far, having only started the book last night. I’m enjoying it because it is the first physical book I have picked up in a wee while. Kindles are great for practicality, but they don’t quite replace the real thing though.

Last, but by no means least – I FUFILLED MY PROMISE TO FINISH NEVERNIGHT!!

It’s been a long time coming, but I got there in the end. I tend to listen to audiobooks when getting ready for work in the morning. Lately, I’ve not been sleeping so well – so in the morning I’m too tired to even try to follow it. I’ve done it though! Moving onwards and upwards, I’m listening to Godsgrave next!

 

 

Books Discovered

This feels pretty much like the story of my life. Remember I took one book off the TBR in Friday’s installment of Down the TBR Hole?

Yeah, well I’ve already replaced it.

As I also think I established in that post, I have a particular love for Tudor history – especially Henry VIII. I am really interested in the history of the monarch himself, and his wives, so adding this book to the list was a no-brainer. I saw that the book was on offer for £1.99 – it would have been rude not to?

I’ll tell myself that.

 

 

Coming Up…

IndividutopiaSo, as I previously mentioned, I am going to be sharing my thoughts of Individutopia with you next week! I found the book really easy to read, even though the setting and mindset of our main character was a little extraordinary. If you want to find out more, please check out my review on Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

 

I am also going to be starting another mini-series, friends! I’ve been thinking for a little while about how many books I have read before starting my blog. It’s quite a few! Therefore, to incorporate these books on my blog, I am going to be writing mini-reviews of them! I cannot promise that they are hugely specific (as I read them a long time ago) – but it may just be enough to either introduce a new series to you all, or find other like-minded friends!

I’ll be writing my first post on Thursday!

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Book Review: Children of Blood & Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

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

Never have I been so glad to be wrong.

 

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

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

Now we rise.

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Conclusion…

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

 

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Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

 After a false start earlier this year, I finally got around to starting the much-talked-about series, A Darker Shade of Magic.

I had added the book to my TBR in February last year, so it’s taken a while to get to. Ever since joining Twitter in September, people I follow were retweeting Victoria Schwab so regularly that I didn’t even need to follow her. I do now, of course. My point is this – so many people are talking about her and her books. I just had to try A Darker Shade of Magic for myself!

 A Darker Shade of Magic

 Goodreads – A Darker Shade of Magic

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

 

My Thoughts…

Naturally, I went into reading this book with high expectations. Everyone seems to be raving about the series. I suppose the question you are here to find the answer to, is if I think it lived up to expectation.

Well yes, but also no. Allow me to elaborate.

I really enjoyed the book. The premise of four versions of London, each with its own degree of magic was what drew me in. I love magic and fantasy is my favourite genre, so this is a perfect read for me. My only wish was that each “London” had more resemblance to London as we know it. I appreciate that each “London” in A Darker Shade of Magic is in a different world. Yet, other than the presence of the Thames in Red London and the English language, there were no other significantly obvious landmarks – or any similarities were too subtle to notice. I have only been to London once (as a child), so my knowledge isn’t that great. I may have missed something, but I just didn’t get as much of a magic/realism vibe as I was hoping for.

The characters were great. Each has their own back-story and it is easy to invest in them all. Kell is adorable in that his compassion for others is admirable. As a reader, you cannot help but feel for Holland and his situation. The standout character though, in my opinion, was Lila. Whilst I would say that both Lila and Kell are fairly equally developed characters, I just adored Lila’s fierceness. She has always had to make her own way in Grey London and the combination of her naivety and sheer will is cute.

A Darker Shade of Magic lives up to the name. The plot was interesting and well thought out – and there were parts of it that were darker than I expected! Magic can be idealised to be a wonderful power… but really it all depends on who wields it. This really comes into play throughout and gave the book an exciting edge.

 

Conclusion…

I did enjoy the book enough to rate it four stars on Goodreads – but not five. I expected to leave this book and be diving into the next one straight away… but I’m not. I think book publicity is a double-edged sword. Obviously, people need to hear about books in order to become interested and buy them. Equally, if you see/hear so much about a book, series or author, you can build up an expectation that realistically cannot be fulfilled. I think this is what happened with A Darker Shade of Magic. I am going to read the remainder of the series because I did enjoy it… just not as much as I had expected I would.

 

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The London Murder Mystery series – Alice Castle

I am very pleased to be taking part in this Blog Tour today. The tour features the first two books in The London Murder Mystery series, Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery.

I was very kindly provided with free copies of each book in exchange for a review by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. I cannot wait to share my thoughts with you guys!

 

Death in Dulwich

Death in Dulwich (London Murder Mystery 1)

Goodreads – Death in Dulwich

Thirty-something single mum Beth Haldane is forced to become Dulwich’s answer to Miss Marple when she stumbles over a murder victim on her first day at work. To clear her name, Beth is plunged into a cozy mystery that’s a contemporary twist on Golden Age crime classics. But can she pull it off? She already has a bouncy young son, haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own and lots of bills to pay, as she struggles to keep up with the yummy mummies of SE21. Join Beth in #1 of the London Murder Mystery series, as she discovers the nastiest secrets can lurk in the nicest places.

My Thoughts…

Beth is a bubbly young woman, who discovers a murder on her first day back at work. Having convinced herself that she is implicated, she delves in to try and uncover the murderer and motive.

I quite enjoyed her bouncy, ditzy character. She loves to think she is organised; she cleans and tidies the house to “get her thoughts together”. The facade slips whenever she has to tip the contents of her handbag out to find her phone though. It is her way of determining that she is in control. But, as a single mum, things can get pretty hectic. I like the “modern” family structure in the book – increasingly there are more families, for one reason or another, that are reliant on a single parent. I thought it was great that this was recognised.

Alice Castle’s description of Beth is on-point, even down to the rogue, uncooperative hair (anyone with long hair will really relate to this, I’m sure). Her personality makes her the perfect candidate to want to uncover the mystery, despite being warned of the potential dangers by Inspector York. Exasperated at her meddling and finding her around the corner of every development, York has to concede to her knowledge of the small, exclusive community in order to solve the case. Whilst most of the narrative is written from Beth’s perspective, there are small sections from Inspector York. I would have liked to see a little more from his perspective, as the expert on the case.

The narrative is full of plot twists, leaving you guessing the next move and the identity of the perpetrator. What makes it even better is that the final twist was one I didn’t expect at all.

 

The Girl in the Gallery

The London Murder Mystery series #2

Goodreads – The Girl in the Gallery

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Dulwich…

It’s a perfect summer’s morning in the plush south London suburb, and thirty-something Beth Haldane sneaks off to visit one of her favourite places – the world-famous Picture Gallery.

She’s enjoying a few moments’ respite from juggling her job at prestigious private school Wyatt’s and her role as single mum to little boy, Ben, when she stumbles across a shocking new exhibit on display. Before she knows it, she’s in the thick of a fresh, and deeply chilling, investigation.

Who is The Girl in the Gallery?

Join Beth in adventure #2 of The London Murder Mystery series as she tries to uncover the truth about a secret eating away at the very heart of Dulwich.

 

My Thoughts…

I moved on to reading The Girl in the Gallery almost immediately after Death in Dulwich. A number of the main characters are already established; therefore the plot flows effortlessly, without filling in too much back-story. The tale continues shortly after Death in Dulwich leaves off, making the book easy to pick up. There are plenty of references to the previous book to remind you what has happened before anyway.

The biggest plus point is how well the book tackles the sensitive issues within. Body image and the impact of social media are explored in detail. I particularly like how different characters in the book have various views on the struggle teenage girls’ experience. On the whole, the narrative has a balanced approach. This topic is completely different from the first book, so neither narrative nor setting is stale and repetitive.

The dynamic between characters is familiar, yet boundaries are tested in this second installment of the series. Inspector York has come to appreciate that in Dulwich, Beth has access to the inside scoop and enough curiosity to investigate to make his job easier. Where there was a reluctance to involve her in the previous case, now he calls upon her insight willingly.

One of my observations from Death in Dulwich is that there was little input from Inspector York into the narrative. Small sections are devoted to his viewpoint on the case, but they are few and far between. Whilst the sections in The Girl in the Gallery are still quite brief, York certainly has more of a voice and presence than before.

I really enjoyed reading both of these books and cannot wait to see what Calamity in Camberwell has in store! Once again, a huge thank you to both the author and Rachel for organising the tour! If you would like to read either book featured today, a copy can be purchased using the following links:-

Alternatively, the author is running a GIVEAWAY of a signed copy of each book via Rafflecopter. Please note that this is only available to UK residents at this time. See the Terms and Conditions below:-

*Terms and Conditions – UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 


 

About the Author

Before turning to a life of crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, was a European best-seller which sold out in two weeks.

Alice is currently working on Calamity in Catford, the sequel to Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery. It’s the third instalment in the London Murder Mystery series and will be published by Crooked Cat next year. Once again, it features Beth Haldane and DI Harry York. 

Alice is also a top mummy blogger, writing at DD’s Diary.

She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.

Join Alice Castle on her Facebook page.

Alice is also on Twitter and sometimes even on Instagram 

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Book Review: The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale

*** I received a free copy of The Toymakers from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own***

The Toymakers

Goodreads – The Toymakers

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

 

My Thoughts…

I finished reading this book at the end of May, but due to other blogging commitments, I have been unable to find the time to write my review. Usually, leaving a review for so long can make it difficult to remember the impression the book made on you at the time. However, there are a few stand out points that make this book quite unforgettable.

I cannot put into words how well Robert Dinsdale captures the spirit, imagination and the magic of being a child. I may be twenty-three years old, but there were times I wished I was transported to the age of childhood innocence. It may sound daft – hey, you’re an adult! Magic isn’t real! That is where you are wrong.

In stark contrast to the joy and wonder of youth and fun of the Toy Emporium, sixteen-year-old Cathy is due to become a mother. Shunned by her parents for the impropriety of being with child out of wedlock, she flees to the Emporium to start afresh. There, she raises her child and the two of them become part of the Emporium family.

As Emil and Kaspar wage their boyhood wars, the true horrors of real war come to haunt many families. Boys are sent to the trenches. Those that come back are not the same as the boys who left to fight for Queen and country.

I was fascinated at how Papa Jack came to be a toymaker. His back-story is rich and inspiring in equal measure. The life of the Toymaker has not been easy, and it is from the darkest shadows that the brightest light shines. Beauty, love, awe, and inspiration go hand in hand with the horror and brutality, trials and hardship of the world – this inseparable combination captures the essence of life.

 

In Summary…

I don’t think I can successfully put into words just how much I loved this book! Each character is unique and has their part to play. It is a wonderful blend of historical fiction and fantasy – lovers of either genre would enjoy reading The Toymakers for themselves. As an avid reader of BOTH genres… perhaps then you can see why I enjoyed the book so much! I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in these genres. I don’t think you will regret it.

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 8th July 2018

Hi everyone and welcome to another weekly summary! Have you had a good week? I hope so! It’s been another hot one here, with plenty of blue skies!

This week has been a really exciting one… for reasons bookish and not! The first and most exciting news is family related. Anyone following me on social media will know that my sister graduated from University this week – I couldn’t be prouder!

Now onto bookish events; on Monday I took part in my first Blog Tour organised by Gollancz, posting my review of Ravencry by Ed McDonald. I thoroughly enjoyed both Blackwing and Ravencry, and I am grateful to have taken part! If anyone is yet to read my review, I would be eternally grateful if you could.

The “To Be Read” pile was reviewed and culled this week. Four out of ten books were axed in my Down the TBR Hole #11 post. Whilst it may not sound like much, over time this adds up. The TBR will look a lot healthier for it.

Books Read

This week I have made real progress in reading The London Murder Mysteries books. This is ready for the upcoming blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. I had to postpone finishing Death in Dulwich to take part in the Gollancz tour for Ravencry. Luckily I made a good start on the book as early as I did so I could afford to. I finished reading this on Tuesday and already have my thoughts drafted for the review. I am currently reading The Girl in the Gallery… and most of the way through it too! I’m hoping to finish reading this by tomorrow, giving me plenty of time to draft my review.

In between chapters of The Girl in the Gallery, I have been reading A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab. I’m currently 20% through, but reading brief sections at a time makes it feel like I have barely started at all! I cannot wait to start reading this one in earnest!

Nevernight makes the list again this week, but I have only listened to this audiobook one morning or two. I think things are about to get really interesting, so I may find myself starting to binge listen to this. It’s hard enough getting myself out of the door in the morning as it is!

 

Books Discovered

I’ve basically undone all the hard work in my Down the TBR post because I have added as many books as I took off the list in that post…

The first addition to the list is The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams. From what I can gather, it is a bit of a classic in the Fantasy genre that has inspired modern writers. Needless to say, this was pretty much an automatic add. I typically find the orphan/coming of Age storyline a little overused, but I’ve added the book knowing it’s there. I can’t complain about it.

Hold me to that. Please.

Yesterday I received a fabulous book bundle from Gollancz – The Relic Guild trilogy by Edward Cox. I am yet to read any books by this author, so I can’t wait to be properly acquainted with the series and let you know my thoughts!

 

Coming Up…

Things are going to be a little different than usual because due to family commitments, I am not going to be able to post my usual Sunday Summary next week.

Don’t worry – I have plenty of other exciting posts lined up for you! To cover all bases, here are the posts coming up in the next TWO WEEKS: –

Week 1

I’ll be dropping my next post on Tuesday, in which I’ll be reviewing The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. I actually finished this book at the end of May. But, due to other commitments, I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet! Oops…

 

 

 

 

 

Friday the 13th may be unlucky for some, but certainly not for me – or you! Empire of Silence is the fantastic debut novel by Christopher Ruocchio; it officially hit bookshelves on Thursday this week! I was privileged to receive an advance copy from Gollancz. If you want to check out the review I have written for the book, you’ll be able to find it here. What does this have to do with Friday 13th, you ask? Well, as part of the launch tour, I will be sharing a guest post written by the author himself!

 

 

I may not be posting on Sunday next week, but I will have ANOTHER Blog Tour post lined up for you on Saturday. In this post, I will be reviewing Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery by Alice Castle. If you like a cozy murder mystery, then the adventures of Beth Haldane, coined “Dulwich’s answer to Miss Marple”, may be of interest to you.

 

 

 

Week 2

down the tbr holeJumping now to Wednesday, I will be reviewing the TBR pile again to further cull any impulse additions or books I no longer wish to read due to changing tastes. I am determined to get to the end of the list, so then I’ll have a realistic idea of how many books I truly want to read. Well, as much as is possible to gauge from an ever-expanding list, anyway.

 

 

Sunday SummaryThen, after two weeks, I’ll post the much anticipated Sunday Summary. I hope to have plenty to tell you about! If nothing else, these summaries help me get the house in order. It will be as much anticipated by me as anyone else!

 

 

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Book Review: A Conversation with a Cat – Stephen Spotte

 ***I was kindly provided with a free copy of this book by OpenBooks in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

A Conversation with a Cat is a great introduction to the lives of Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony, especially for those without the opportunity to learn about these remarkably powerful historical figures.

 

A Conversation With A Cat

Goodreads – A Conversation with a Cat

 

Synopsis

Stephen Spotte’s imaginative novel recounts the tales of a scroungy former alley cat named Jinx, whose memories aren’t just his own but those of other cats who existed before him, one of which was Annipe, Cleopatra’s pampered pet. Through Annipe’s eyes the ancient Mediterranean world of Cleopatra and her legendary lovers, Caesar and Antony, spread before us in all its glory, pathos, and absurdity. Jinx reveals these stories telepathically one night to his stoned and inebriated owner just home after gall bladder surgery. Annipe’s memories are bookended by Jinx’s own that detail his early scavenging days in bleak urban alleys.

“Could not stop reading this unique and curious account of a major period in history. Viewing events that shook the ancient world through the eye of a feline makes one want to view today’s news stories through the same lens. Never read a book with such a unique perspective. And it was fun.”—Edward R. Ricciuti, author of Bears in the Backyard

 

My Thoughts

Prior to reading the book, my knowledge of Cleopatra came from Shakespeare. To be honest, my understanding of Shakespeare is sketchy. It always has been. Studying Antony & Cleopatra without a consistent teacher – I had no chance really. Sigh.

I was as good as a complete newbie to this topic. Did I find it interesting? Absolutely! The details don’t bog the story down at all, but a lot of research has gone into the novel. The historical superpowers use their brains and brawn (amongst other things) to vie for power. The kind of things that cause salacious gossip and disgruntled wives. The lavishness and decadence of the ruling class are both enticing and beautifully described; Stephen ensures each scene is deliberately picturesque.

The book is cleverly written to pull off its conversational tone.

A commentary is given by Jinx, (in addition to narrating Cleopatra’s life from Annipe’s memory) which is interesting and charismatically witty. Jinx is a feline with “cattitude” and it definitely shows in the narrative! Naturally, the concept of a cat striking up a conversation with you telepathically is far-fetched. However, the story and circumstances are set up humorously so that it pushes boundaries, but isn’t unbelievable.

 

The perspective offered in this book is truly a unique one. Jinx reminisces about Ancient Egypt, as cats historically were held in higher esteem there. They were worshipped like Gods – unlike him, who finds his freedom and virility catnapped in one fell swoop, as we learn later. You can imagine his tail twitching in agitation even now. The balance between the present day and recounting Cleopatra’s reign is perfect. I would even go so far as to say that even somebody who doesn’t love historical fiction as much as I do could get on with it.

A Conversation with a Cat is funny and approachable to read. I personally really enjoyed the book – the fact that I read it in only two days speaks volumes.

Sunday Summary June 2018

Sunday Summary – 24th June 2018

Good evening folks! Another week draws to a close and it’s time to share my weekly progress (aka Sunday Summary) with you. I anticipated that this week was going to be less productive than my previous week, because:-

  • Last week was a good week for me, by any standards
  • I have had a redecoration project planned

 

I had a couple of days of work this week (yay!), but due to redecorating, they were FAR from relaxing!. As a result, I can’t say I managed to read as much as I hoped to. I’ve also been doing my fair share of writing blog posts, so I suppose I can claw that time back in the next day or two instead.

 

Books Read

My week began with finishing Blackwing by Ed McDonald – and what a way to start a week. I devoured this book in about two days, which speaks volumes about how much I enjoyed it! With a page count of approximately 380 pages, I am actually pretty impressed with myself on this one!

I swiftly moved on to Death in Dulwich by Alice Castle, first of two books in the London Murder Mysteries series I am reviewing next month. So far I am 28% through the book, which isn’t horrendous progress, but I would have liked to have read a little more on this one. Perhaps next week will be more fruitful.

My review copy of Ravencry arrived this week and I haven’t been more excited for a book in a little while. As I am due to be reviewing this early next month rather than mid next month, I started reading this as well. Admittedly, this is why Death in Dulwich was put on the back-burner – a girl has to prioritise somehow! I’ve acquainted myself with the first 45 pages or so, but after this, I had to prioritise redecorating, so I’m no further than that.

All in all, this isn’t the worst week I’ve had reading – actually taking the time to look at it properly; it doesn’t seem as bad as I thought it was. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

 

Books Discovered

I’ve added Bard – The Odyssey of the Irish by Morgan Llewellyn to the TBR on the recommendation from a friend. We were discussing our mutual interest in historical fiction books when he told me about it. Since Ireland is close to home, it’s only fair to learn how and by whom the country became inhabited.

I read a fantastic review of The Court of Broken Knives by The Tattooed Book Geek today; such a good review that it makes me want to read it for myself. I want to try and read more from the Dark Fantasy sub-genre and this seems like a good place to start!

 

 

Coming Up…

Three Things Noone tells you about going self hostedI already have tomorrow’s post prepared for you – which is a rarity on my part! It’s a topic I decided to write about a couple of weeks ago. You may know that I recently transferred my blog from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. After researching and completing the process, I felt there wasn’t much information out there about what to expect after going self-hosted. Hopefully, my post tomorrow will give you a few pointers about what to expect.

 

I’m really looking forward to sharing Wednesday’s post as it was kindly contributed by the author of A Conversation with A Cat, Stephen Spotte. I was recently provided with a copy by OpenBooks in exchange for a review. Stephen has prepared a humorous insight into his book and the top cat that inspired his work, Jinx.

Naturally, my review of A Conversation with A Cat will follow on Thursday. I hope you can take a minute or two out of your day to check out my thoughts.

 

Sunday Summary June 2018My Sunday Summary will take usual pride of place – and I hope to be sharing news of a more productive week.

 

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Book Review: The Irrationalist – Andrew Pessin

***I was kindly provided with a free copy of this book by the author and OpenBooks in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

The Irrationalist

Goodreads – The Irrationalist

Who would want to murder the world’s most famous philosopher?

Turns out: nearly everyone.

In 1649, Descartes was invited by the Queen of Sweden to become her Court Philosopher. Though he was the world’s leading philosopher, his life had by this point fallen apart. He was 53, penniless, living in exile in Amsterdam, alone. With much trepidation but not much choice, he arrived in Stockholm in mid-October.

Shortly thereafter he was dead.

Pneumonia, they said. But who could believe that? There were just too many persons of interest who wanted to see Descartes dead, and for too many reasons. That so many of these persons were in Stockholm—thanks to the Gala the Queen was throwing to celebrate the end of the terrible Thirty Years’ War—made the official story all the less plausible. Death by poisoning was the unofficial word on the cobblestone.

Enter Adrien Baillet. A likeable misfit with a mysterious backstory, he arrives just as the French Ambassador desperately needs an impartial Frenchman to prove that Descartes died of natural causes—lest the “murder” in Lutheran Sweden of France’s great Catholic philosopher trigger colicky French boy-King Louis XIV to reignite that awful War. Baillet hesitatingly agrees to investigate Descartes’s death, knowing that if—or when—he screws up, he could be personally responsible for the War’s Thirty-First Year.

But solving the mystery of Descartes’s death (Baillet soon learns) requires first solving the mystery of Descartes’s life, with all its dangerous secrets … None of it is easy, as nearly everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted. Nor does it help that he must do it all under the menacing gaze of Carolus Zolindius, the terrifying Swedish Chancellor with the strangely intimidating limp.

But Baillet somehow perseveres, surprising everyone as he figures it all out—all the way to the explosive end.

 

Introduction

The Irrationalist is perfect for fans of historical fiction, particularly if you like the dish detailed and with a side of pretty gruesome violence.

Adrien Baillet, an impartial Frenchman, investigates the death of Rene Descartes on the orders of Zolindus, second in command to the Queen of Sweden. So long as his findings report death by natural causes, he will be spared a prickly fate himself. With nowhere to turn, he begins his investigation… but the evidence points to anything but a natural demise. With nearly everyone a suspect, Baillet can trust no one. Piece by piece, he unravels the mystery.

 

My Thoughts

I feel sorry for Adrien Baillet. Finding himself stuck between a rock and a hard place, he has to “investigate” Descartes death. He cannot afford to refuse if he wants to keep his head, but without the funds to return home, he can’t escape Sweden either. Young and lacking experience in the ways of court, he is the perfect puppet for Zolindus to manipulate.

I like how flawed Baillet is as a character. Despite having noble intentions, he is weak – cowardly even. What he lacks in strength he makes up for in intelligence. In that, Zolindus underestimates him. A lot of books paint protagonists to be the best of the best, but this is unrealistic. These characters are human and by nature, are not perfect. Baillet’s fear and inability to stand up for himself helps raise the tension of the narrative. With murder and subterfuge lurking around every corner, it is easy to understand his paranoia.

The plot is well developed, which is necessary given the complexity of the murder investigation. Baillet considers the potential motive of every character, but the conclusions drawn aren’t forced in order to make everyone a suspect. Every motive is well explained and backed-up, which I imagine is a very difficult thing to achieve. It would take a lot of knowledge and research to make this novel work so well, which Andrew Pessin has accomplished effortlessly.

Within the narrative of the investigation are chapters that look back into the past life of Rene Descartes, before he makes it to Sweden. Not only do these provide a lot of insight into his relations with other characters, (usually outlining why there was bad blood), but they change the pace of the book to make a refreshing break from the heat of the moment in Sweden.

 

Conclusion

Honestly, I didn’t anticipate the ending at all – which is a measure of a good mystery to my mind. We come to our own conclusions about the murder; but there is nothing like a good 11th-hour plot twist to keep us on our toes.

Audiobook Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

Later than billed, today I am sharing my review of the audiobook version of The Tattooist of Auschwitz. (Sorry! In my defence though, I did say probably Friday, not definitely). As a result of moving my blog to a self-hosted site, I have had a lot of back-end fixes to make. Naturally, this has eaten up my time. Apologies for any inconvenience folks – I am trying to get everything fixed as soon as I can!

So, without further delay –

 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Goodreads – The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival—literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he had been caught, he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.

Like many survivors, Lale and Gita told few people their story after the war. They eventually made their way to Australia, where they raised a son and had a successful life. But when Gita died, Lale felt he could no longer carry the burden of their past alone. He chose to tell his story.

 

My Thoughts…

It is easy to forget that this is a story built around a true experience of the Holocaust. The depth of the narrative immerses you completely in the trials/ turmoils of Lale (pronounced La-le) and Gita Solokov. Taken away from his parents and transported to Auschwitz, Lale begins a new, cruel chapter of life. He is forced to tattoo the identification numbers on those brought into those awful concentration camps after him. Should he refuse, he would be killed and replaced without further consideration. Thousands died in that awful place (and many others just like it, no doubt).

Figuring that doing it in the kindest way he can is more merciful, he begrudgingly takes up the role. Exploiting what freedoms he has as a result of the role, he makes the lives of those he shares the camp with better.

 

“If he had been caught, he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.”

 

It is difficult to believe that the horrors re-lived in Lale’s narrative are based on the atrocities that did, in fact, happen. I will openly admit I had forgotten that the book was written from a survivor’s experience by the end. The narrative pulls you right into the story and you share the feelings of despair, hated and desperation along with our characters.

There are even times when the characters you think you should hate… the gun-wielding officers charged with policing the camps, are seen in a compassionate light. Described as barely more than children themselves, they are only acting as instructed; they aren’t made out to be as evil as they could be. I think there’s truth in that. The majority were probably only acting out of self-interest, or fear, just as the prisoners were. A survivor would have every right to portray these men as the monsters for their oppression. To recognise that there was more to them than that takes wisdom. It begs the question, were the officers prisoners, of a sort, as well?

I have taken to listening to audiobooks whilst getting ready for work in the morning. On the last day of listening to this book, I wanted to finish it so badly that I listened to it in the car. If you are… sensitive… to difficult topics such as this, I do not recommend listening to the last couple of chapters whilst trying to drive. That or even when you are going out in public, for that matter! I made that mistake but spared myself too many questions with the help of a little bucket load of concealer.

 

The audiobook in itself is narrated remarkably well – I think Richard Armitage captured the tone of the text just right. Although the story covers a tragic and delicate topic, there were times in which to laugh; to love. Such is life… and at these times we, as the listener, were uplifted by these small victories. We very much feel a part of the fight to survive the oppression… and dream to live and love outside of the confines and squalour of the present as much as our protagonists do.

 

End Note

The Holocaust is always going to be a difficult topic to broach, but for me, that’s not a reason to shy away from it. It is only by educating ourselves and our children, then their children that we can seek to avoid making the same mistakes. I am by no means saying we will – but we can remain hopeful. I have tried to keep the detail to a minimum, as this will not be for everyone to read. If that is the case, then I wouldn’t recommend the book to you either. If, however, you enjoy historical fiction or have enjoyed reading books of a similar nature, then this will appeal to you.

It sounds awful phrasing it like that… but you know what I mean.