Tag: bookreview

Sunday Summary – 15 October 2017

I hope everyone has been enjoying a lovely weekend! It’s been a busy week but equally exciting for me.

Books Read

IT
There’s just been one book I have been reading this week, but boy is it an epic. I am really enjoying IT so far; despite its length, it doesn’t seem to be going slowly or dragging. I’ll admit, I was worried it would. At the point of writing this, I am currently on page 601 of 1,376, which I am pleased with. I haven’t picked up the book today yet so I am hoping I can get to about 50% done later. I am setting myself a little target to see if I can get this book read by next Sunday, 22nd October. I have a further two books to read after IT so I want to give myself a chance to read those too!
One thing I can’t say I have particularly enjoyed, however, is lugging this bad boy around with me. It counts as exercise…. right?!
 

Books Discovered

So the list of books for this section gets a bit more interesting this week, as I’ll also be including some books I have requested on Netgalley!! I am committing this statement to the internet so that I may be shamed if I don’t step up to it.
I am going to be using Netgalley more.
Whilst we are here, I am as well introducing you to the books I have downloaded and will be incorporating into my reading:-

Both Former.ly and ReWired have an element of technology in, one being about hacking and the other about social networking, so I thought I’d give these a try.
I’ll admit with Beowulf, I picked it because I think it is going to be completely out of my comfort zone, but I want to challenge myself.
I also inevitably had a few request rejections too. Sad face. I am new to Netgalley… do I need to get some books under my belt in order to be more likely to have requests accepted? Please let me know!! Please and thank you!
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Source: Giphy

I also added The Birth of Death, the first of the Evorath series to the TBR this week. I love the fantasy genre, and I cannot wait to read it!!
The Birth of Death
My last confessions of this section are two purchases, being Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (a classic – which I am trying to read more of) and The Traveler by Fredric Shernoff. I recently enjoyed Making History, by Stephen Fry, and this book has the same concept of going back in time to change events. This is pure fiction though… nothing historical in this one.

Coming Up…

I think I had a really good week on the blog this week, posting two reviews and an author interview. If anybody else has enjoyed reading these this week, then you won’t be disappointed with what is coming up this week!
I have another author interview with J. M Robison, which I am really looking forward to.  This is in relation to her first published book, The War Queen. I have found I like to get to know a little bit about authors and their inspirations. The wait isn’t very long for this either, as the interview is being posted tomorrow! I read The War Queen at the beginning of the month and I am looking forward to sharing my review with you on Tuesday.
Given the number of books I keep adding to the reading list, I have decided I need to really sort through the ones I already have, so on Friday I am bringing to you another Down the TBR Hole post.
As usual, I will follow up the week with a summary much like this one.


 
I hope you have enjoyed my Sunday summary, and hopefully I’ll see you around during the week. If somebody could get back to me about my question on Netgalley, I’d be grateful. I’m still a novice! Haha!
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Review: The Kitsune in the Lantern – Daniel Curry

I have to get this disclaimer out of the way… so here goes.

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

There – I’m glad that’s over with. I think it is kind of sad that these things are even needed really.
Anyway… on a happier note – if anyone tuned in to my blog yesterday, you’ll know I posted an interview with our author Daniel to give readers the opportunity to get to know a little bit about him, the book itself and his influences in writing. If anybody is yet to check this post out… here’s a cheeky link.
Now without further adieu… the review:-
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GoodReads – The Kitsune in the Lantern
Synopsis from GoodReads:- 

“You were chosen by Yako, the bringer of Darkness.”
Join Argus Todd and his friends as he uncovers a great power exploring an old ruin, that has stood for decades in his town.
Inari, an age-old Kitsune must train Argus in his new gifts, in order to stop the chaotic Yako from bringing the darkness to our world.
But Yako appears a complex character, and all may not be as it seems…
Debut novella from author Daniel Curry, for Children and Teens. Experience the magic of the power of the Kitsune in this first book of a brand new series.
Ideal for confident young readers, and older children searching for an easy read adventure, this book is an exciting introduction to the mind of Daniel Curry

Despite the book being aimed at a younger generation, I can hand on heart say that I enjoyed it. Admittedly, (not to sound conceited), this was an easy read for me but it was a refreshing change! That isn’t to say I didn’t learn a thing or two! The magical beings introduced in the book, known as the Kitsune, stem from Japanese folklore. I love the idea that a Kitsune gains more magical abilities as it learns and ages. I’ll hold my hands up now and say prior to reading this book – I hadn’t even heard of them before! It was a great introduction to folklore from a different culture in a fun way and diversity is definitely something we should be encouraging.
This book is perfectly written for children – whether to challenge young readers to pick up books themselves or even as a story being read aloud. The plot was easy to follow, which I think is essential in a book of this length when bearing in mind the target audience. Even though I read this book all in one day, I read it in three sessions (because life has the amazing ability of disturbing reading!) – but it was so easy to pick up again when I came back to it.
The tale follows the adventures of Argus, Mae and Tom, who venture into the ruins of an old factory. There they discover a lantern and an archaic power is once again released into the world. I loved each of these three protagonists in their own way, and I really believe that everyone will be able to relate to at least one of them. Argus is the brave and outgoing “leader” of the group. He is a role model to Tom and has the respect of Mae. Tom is quite the opposite; he is the smallest of the group, the shyest and predisposed to nervousness. I was never the most outgoing of people so my inner child relates to him. Now, with my twenty-something-year-old head on… I just wanted to mother him! Mae is a great mix of both of these two characters – she even ends up mediating between these two extremes and I truly think she is a vital part in holding the friendship together.
The book is a lovely balance of myth and magic to keep the audience engaged, all the while encouraging attributes like learning and teamwork and discouraging greed. I am in no doubt Daniel knew exactly who his target audience was… but I truly believe this book is approachable to a span of age groups. The Kitsune in the Lantern is the first of a trilogy, and it is one I have every intention of finishing and I am not ashamed of the fact. I would love to learn more about the magic of the Kitsune and what further adventures Argus, Mae and Tom get to have with their new powers.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I wanted to include my favourite passage from the book, because it is absolutely true:-

“We all walk a narrow path between darkness and light. Tiny events can push our lives either way.” Inari began to pace around him. “But there is no unfairness, or path chosen for us, there is only random tastings of both sides”.
~ The Kitsune in the Lantern – Daniel Curry

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So there you have it!
I would like to thank Daniel again for the chance not only to read this book, but to be introduced to what I feel assured is going to be a lovely series! I’ll be keeping up with it too – that’s a promise!!
Just an additional note – I am jealous of the Kitsune power to step out of time. I would so do it to catch people pulling funny faces just for a laugh – I’m not always an adult! I feel sure I’m not the only one either…
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Source: Giphy

I hope you have enjoyed my review! If you would like to find out more about the book or purchase a copy, please find the links below.
Amazon      GoodReads
Also, if you would like to follow Daniel on Twitter and keep up to date with future releases, you can find him at @DCurryAuthor.
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Author Interview: Daniel Curry

I am very excited to be bringing a special post to you today! Anyone who checked out my reading list for this month will have seen that my first read of the month was The Kitsune in the Lantern, written by Daniel Curry. Daniel has very kindly offered me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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Amazon      GoodReads
I read this book on the 1st October and my review is being published tomorrow, so please stay tuned for that! In the meantime though, here is an opportunity to get to know a little bit about Daniel and his debut book:-
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First of all Daniel, could you tell us all a little bit about yourself?

I’m 29 years old (almost 30, yikes!) and live in the North East of England in a town called Billingham. I am a Scientist in my day job, and write in my spare time. I enjoy writing a variety of genres and styles, including Children’s Fiction, Teen (Middle Grade in the US I suppose) and YA. I have also wrote a number of stories for adults. The Kitsune in the Lantern is my first experiment with Kindle Publishing, and I have a number of Rhyming, and story picture books out to secure an agent.

For anyone who is yet to read The Kitsune in the Lantern, please can you give a brief summary of the book.

The Kitsune in the Lantern is the story of Argus Todd and his friends, who find an old lamp in an abandoned building. Released from the lamp, an age old being named Yako grants powers to Argus, but is not the mentor that he needs when it falls to Argus and his friends to save our world from the darkness.

What inspired you to write?

I have always written, since being a child. I love to tell stories, and to create characters and worlds for people to lose themselves in. Since having my first child (Jacob, who has just turned 1) I have been inspired to work towards a better life for all of us. I would love to be able to take up a career with my writing, that would allow me more time with my family. He also inspires me to write, so that I have something personal, created by me to pass on to him. One of my children’s picture books, “Doggy Daisies” is all about him and his dog Ollie. I just love the thought of giving him something that he can treasure, and pass along to his own children.

If you could go back in time to the point where you were writing the book, is there anything you would tell your past self to change?

The book is the first in a trilogy, and originally started out as one book. I realised that the story felt too rushed, and the characters didn’t have the time to come to life. I suppose going back, I would do this split from the start, and save myself from the struggle of cutting, and re-adding. Writing is the fun part, editing is the work!

Do you have any authors you look up to? If so, why?

I love Robert Westall. His stories are the books I remember from my childhood. My favourite of his is The Machine Gunners. I love that it is simply a group of kids, having their own adventure. The backdrop to this is World War 2, and he stark contrast between the innocence of the children, and the horrors of war really struck me as a young boy. I think Stephen King is the greatest story teller, and his book 11.22.63 is probably my favourite book (if I had to pick one!) I think that it is massively underrated, and more people should read it so that I can talk about it with them!

Any plans for another book?

There will be two sequels in the Kitsune series, the second of which is well underway. The Fallen Kitsune will again be available via Kindle Direct Publishing, aiming to release in Spring 2018. Hopefully I hear back from an agent or publisher regarding my picture books, so watch this space. I am also working on an exciting YA project, which is around 80% complete. This is the story of a girl called Kavi, who lives in a post apocalyptic world. Kavi is excited from her tribe, with a group of boys and left to explore and survive the Deadlands. In Kavi’s world, women are superior to men in the tribe hierarchy, but this will be challenged. I can’t say too much, as I am hoping to approach traditional publishers with this one so keep an eye on my Twitter for more information.
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If you wish to find out more or purchase a copy of the book I have provided links above to the GoodReads and Amazon sites. If you would also like to follow Daniel and keep up to date with future releases, (as I am), you can follow him at @DCurryAuthor.
As stated above, my review will be available tomorrow!
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Review: Making History – Stephen Fry

How would the course of history have changed if Adolf Hitler had never been born?

When I started this book I didn’t really know what to expect. I added it to the TBR last minute on recommendation alone. A work colleague of mine who writes short news articles, which are published weekly in a local newspaper also takes a bit of an interest in my blog. It’s nice to get some local feedback on what I am reading and the things I discuss on here. It was this work colleague that recommended Making History to me, following my review of Extracted by R R Haywood.

Prior to this book, I had never read anything written by Stephen Fry, so I went into this book with very little knowledge of what I was going to get out of it.

Making History
GoodReads – Making History

In Making History, Stephen Fry has bitten off a rather meaty chunk by tackling an at first deceptively simple premise: What if Hitler had never been born? An unquestionable improvement, one would reason–and so an earnest history grad student and an aging German physicist idealistically undertake to bring this about by preventing Adolf’s conception. And with their success is launched a brave new world that is in some ways better than ours–but in most ways even worse. Fry’s experiment in history makes for his most ambitious novel yet, and his most affecting. His first book to be set mostly in America, it is a thriller with a funny streak, a futuristic fantasy based on one of mankind’s darkest realities. It is, in every sense, a story of our times.

 

My Thoughts…

Cambridge history graduate Michael Young and physicist Leo Zuckermann come together, quite by accident, when Michael’s thesis falls out of his briefcase and is scattered into the wind. Michael has studied the early life of one of the most famously horrific and anti-semitic figures in our history, Adolf Hitler. Despite the thesis not being his speciality, Leo takes a personal interest and requests to read a copy. Michael later discovers just why Leo has such an interest in Michael’s study and together they undertake a project in the hope of re-writing history, for the better. The narrative flits seamlessly between the present day and fictional scenes based on true events during both “halves” of the book – both realities are explored in the same way.

It was the explored concept of time travel that prompted Mark’s recommendation of the book to me. In particular, we talked about what is known as the grandfather paradox… to keep it simple – if you travelled back in time and killed your grandfather before your parents were born, you could never have existed to kill your grandfather. It boggles the mind to think too hard about it, so unless that’s really a subject of interest to you, I wouldn’t think any further than the general concept too much.

Michael Young and Leo Zuckermann, with the use of a machine built by Zuckermann,  succeed in ensuring Adolf Hitler was never born – but their actions have disastrous consequences. Can they restore the course of history to its former self? Michael wakes up in this new alternate reality as a student studying Philosophy in Princeton, New Jersey. He has a full recollection of his life before the experiment and little recollection of the life he SHOULD now be living. With vague memories of being out drinking with friends and banging his head the night before, Michael, who now goes by Mikey struggles with his “amnesia” and eventually comes to terms with his new life and the consequences of his and Leo’s experiment.

The book suggests that people (both individually and as groups), despite various circumstances, have certain in-built reactions or behaviours – for example, in both versions of history – Leo Zuckermann invents the time machine in response to feelings of guilt over his ties in what happens during this dark period of history. In our alternate version of history, the unchanged socio-economic circumstances Germany experiences and the unchanged general public opinion is offered by way of explanation as to why history does not change radically in the way Michael and Leo had hoped.

As much as this book is based on a turbulent and sensitive part of our history, it was still a fun and enjoyable read. I loved history at school so I fell in love with this book pretty much straight away. Anyone who isn’t so interested would probably not enjoy this book as much as I did, being perfectly honest… but you never know!! Michael is a lovable character, despite his flaws. I actually find him quite relatable. Even though he is graduating from Cambridge, he is still a bit of an idiot so the reader doesn’t feel either patronised or alienated from the narrative.
One of my favourite elements of the book is that it both discusses and challenges our current history, yet in a fictional and humorous way. Even though historical and philosophical messages can be interpreted from the narrative, it also succeeds in being an entertaining read.

At 575 pages I wouldn’t suggest this was a light read, but to my mind, it’s an absolutely worthwhile one. Thank you for the recommendation Mark – this is high up on the list of  favourite reads this year!
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Review: Dunstan by Conn Iggulden

Following my post on Thursday, written in all haste in the last ten minutes of my lunch hour, I announced that to celebrate reaching 100 followers I was going to post an extra review this week!

I was fishing for an excuse really. It had already crossed my mind that I was going to be falling behind if I didn’t throw some extras in. Nevertheless, today I am posting the review, as promised!

Dunstan
GoodReads – Dunstan

The year is 937. England is a nation divided, ruled by minor kings and Viking lords. Each vies for land and power. The Wessex king Æthelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, readies himself to throw a spear into the north.

As would-be kings line up to claim the throne, one man stands in their way.

Dunstan, a fatherless child raised by monks on the moors of Glastonbury Tor, has learned that real power comes not from God, but from discovering one’s true place on Earth. Fearless in pursuit of his own interests, his ambition will take him from the courts of princes to the fields of battle, from exile to exaltation.

For if you cannot be born a king, or made a king, you can still anoint a king.

Under Dunstan’s hand, England may come together as one country – or fall apart in anarchy . . .

From Conn Iggulden, one of our finest historical writers, Dunstan is an intimate portrait of a priest and murderer, liar and visionary, traitor and kingmaker – the man who changed the fate of England.

 

I originally decided I was going to read this book as I was introduced to this particular period of history by a work colleague, in the form of another series of books by Bernard Cornwell. Maybe this particular period of history is new to you. Perhaps you had the opportunity to watch “The Last Kingdom”, which aired on BBC Two here in the UK. I am also assured by other sources on the world-wide-web that it was shown on BBC America and the first season is also available on Netflix. If historical dramas are of interest to you – I really recommend it!

Dunstan picks up a little after the reign of Alfred the Great, whose reign and resistance to the Viking invasion features in the aforementioned series. Having loved this particular set of books so far I wanted to see how history panned out after the invasion.

Turns out, whilst England was under one rule, much of the struggles faced by King Alfred the Great live on past his reign.

Some slaves are kings and some kings, slaves, but that is because the world is corrupt and in ruins, no matter how high we build. – Dunstan

The history and turbulence within the monarchy following King Æthelstan’s death is narrated by Dunstan, who dedicated his life to the restoration of the Abbey at Glastonbury. You would expect a man in this position to be a humble one, serving God through his position as Abbot. Think again. He is far from honest: he cheats, he lies and he is a murderer. He’s a manipulator. At one point he saves his brother from death by performing a risky surgical procedure on him and succeeds. The fact that he then later emotionally blackmails Wulfric and puts him in the position of committing treason for his own gain, well, I think that tells you everything about our MC. There is only one person Dunstan will truly look out for, and that’s Dunstan.

Naturally, I didn’t like our far from humble and backstabbing narrator, but the narration from his perspective was not completely spoiled by this brat of a human being. We get to experience first hand the repelling of the Scots and the Danes in Ireland, as well as the reformation of the Royal Mint.

Dunstan finds himself serving many Kings following Æthelstan’s death. He had very clear ideas about who he liked and who he disliked. Of course, those in his favour were either his friends or people he felt he could influence with his affiliation to God. I found it laughable at Dunstan’s distaste for Prince Edwy. In my humble opinion, he was very much like Dunstan and their clash is probably as a result of having similar personalities!! Dunstan favoured Edwy’s younger brother to be King, voted for at a Witten (a meeting of influential lords, landowners etc).

I am not going to turn this review into a history lesson. In my experience, you are either interested or you are not, so I’m not going to be that person to throw facts and figures at you. If you are interested, I would recommend the book to you. Whilst exploring the history of the English monarchy, it is still an entertaining read. Please note that my opinions are my own – let them cloud your judgement. You may have a different opinion. The only way you will know is if you find out for yourself. If anyone has read this book – I would love to hear your thoughts!!
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