Tag: books

Top Ten Tuesday – New Releases I’m Excited About!

Hi guys! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday post is quite an exciting one, as I am sharing my Top Ten new book releases I cannot wait to read! This is probably going to be a disastrous post for my never-shrinking TBR, but it’s always good to have something to look forward to!

New books… shiny books…

 

This list includes books that have been published this year, as well as some coming up next year! Shall we get into it?

 

The Institute – Stephen King

Goodreads – The Institute

 

I have fallen in love with Stephen King’s writing and I have seen so many good reviews of this book in the blogosphere. I have plenty of King books still to read, but I am looking forward to this one!

 

The Burning White – Brent Weeks

Goodreads – The Burning White

 

Thus far, I have only read The Black Prism, aka book one of this series. This is the fifth and final instalment to the series, but I’m still looking forward to it. Now that I know the conclusion is near I’ll be more inclined to pick the rest of these books up!

 

Cilka’s Journey – Heather Morris

Goodreads – Cilka’s Journey

 

I loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. It’s one of the best audiobooks I have listened to since subscribing to Audible. This was published only two weeks ago and I have already downloaded Cilka’s Journey to my library on Audible.

 

Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads – Imaginary Friend

 

I was very lucky to have received a Netgalley download of the book, so I could be reading this in as little as two weeks time, my TBR permitting. The synopsis sounds so creepy and fantastic – I can’t wait to read it!

 

The Song of the Sycamore – Ed Cox

Goodreads – The Song of the Sycamore

After reading The Relic Guild series, I am really excited to read this latest novel by Edward Cox. I applied to sign up to the blog tour for the book, however, the tour was full. Gollancz wwassupposed to be sending me a copy to review anyway, but for one reason or another it didn’t turn up. Never mind I’ll just have to purchase a copy when the time comes to read it!

 

The Mothers – Sarah J. Naughton

Goodreads – The Mothers

I don’t know if this appeals to me for its sinister plot or because a couple of my friends have either recently had children or are expecting. Either way, this sounds like an exciting read! As I haven’t read any of her other books, this is a great way to try a new author.

 

An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Goodreads – An Anonymous Girl

Psychology, ethics and morality are topics that go hand-in-hand, although a lot of people might not be aware of it. I loved studying psychology at school so books on the subject are always greatly received. The synopsis makes this experiment sound so personal… so I can’t wait to find out why!

 

Recursion – Blake Crouch

Goodreads – Recursion

I haven’t even read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch yet, although it is on my TBR. I’ll be adding this one too as it has elements of psychology in it as well. The idea of waking up one day with false memories is scary… but the brain is that suggestible in the right circumstances.

 

Starsight – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Starsight

Starsight is the second book in the new Skyward series. Brandon Sanderson has become one of my auto-buy authors, so of course, I am excited by any new book of his!

 

Howling Dark – Christopher Ruocchio

Goodreads – Howling Dark

I shouldn’t have to wait too long for this either, as the ARC is sat on my bookshelf in the spare room. It’s about time to read it too, having worked my way through previous ARCs. This might just end up on my TBR for next month. I haven’t decided yet.

Are you excited for any of these books or authors?

 

 

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Quintessential Quotes – Margaret Atwood

Good afternoon everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely day! In today’s post, I am going to be sharing some of my favourite quotes from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and her more recent book, The Testaments.

I think dystopian fiction can have some really poignant quotes that make us think about the stark differences in our lives compared to those that unfold on the pages. How can such truth come from something so twisted, so horrible and depraving of life the way it is?

But it does. Here are some quotes from each of the books that have stuck with me the most: –

 

The Handmaid’s Tale

“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”

Really true though, isn’t it?

 

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

 

“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”

Someone always falls victim to change; it all depends on how loudly the oppressed can shout as to whether anything happens as a result.

 

“There is more than one kind of freedom,” said Aunt Lydia. “Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.”

Yet the problem here, Aunt Lydia… is the distinct lack of freedom for these Handmaids to choose.

 

“That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.”

… Sound familiar, my English friends?

 

The Testaments

 

“As they say, history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.”

True – history never pans out exactly the same for we delude ourselves that we learn from our past. That doesn’t mean we avoid making the same mistakes, however.

 

“But it can put a lot of pressure on a person to be told they need to be strong.”

Especially in times where you are out of control and vulnerable.

 

“The corrupt and blood-smeared fingerprints of the past must be wiped away to create a clean space for the morally pure generation that is surely about to arrive. Such is the theory.”

Raising children, particularly girls, to be treated as glorified brood mares in service to their husbands justifies this?

 

“Our time together is drawing short, my reader. Possibly you will view these pages of mine as a fragile treasure box, to be opened with the utmost care. Possibly you will tear them apart, or burn them: that often happens to words.”

I like this quote for the way it addresses the reader. It pulls the reader into the story.

 

“Such regrets are of no practical use. I made choices, and then, having made them, I had fewer choices. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one most travelled by. It was littered with corpses, as such roads are. But as you will have noticed, my own corpse is not among them.”

Sometimes blending in to bide your time is the only way to make a difference. Let them underestimate you.

Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale or The Testaments? Do you have a favourite quote you would like to share?

 

 

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First Lines Friday – 11/10/2019

Happy Friday everyone! It’s nearly the end of another week and the weekend is well on the way! As ever, I’m back again with my (mostly) regular fortnightly feature post – First Lines Friday. If you want to sample something new without the bias of a front cover, then you have come to the right place!

Which book am I featuring today? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book: –

 

Imagine we could see the damage inside ourselves. Imagine it showed through us like contraband on an airport scanner. What would it be like, to walk around the city with it all on view – all the hurts and the betrayals and the things that diminished us; all the crushed dreams and broken hearts? What would it be like to see the people our lives have made us? The people we are, under our skin.

I thought about that when I saw you on the news just now. I recognised you right away. ‘Such an ordinary person,’ those people said. ‘I can’t believe someone like that could do something so terrible.’

 

 

I was supposed to read this for last month’s Book Club at work. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance. I still want to though, so if I get ahead of this month’s reading then I am going to try to read this on holiday. I’m not really all that enamoured with this month’s book choice, so if I have to pick one of the two to read, it’s this one!

Shall we find out what it is?

 

When She Was Bad – Tammy Cohen

You see the people you work with every day.

But what can’t you see?

Amira, Sarah, Paula, Ewan and Charlie have worked together for years – they know how each one likes their coffee, whose love life is a mess, whose children keep them up at night. But their comfortable routine life is suddenly shattered when an aggressive new boss walks in ….

Now, there’s something chilling in the air.

Who secretly hates everyone?

Who is tortured by their past?

Who is capable of murder?

 

So, what do you think? Will you add this to the TBR? Is it on already?

 

 

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

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

The Working Week…

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Weekends

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

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

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

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

 

 

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First Lines Friday – 27/09/2019

Happy Friday everyone! It’s nearly the end of the week and I am so excited for the weekend! Not only that, but today is also the Macmillan’s Coffee Morning and I am organising today’s event at work. By the time you are reading this, I’ll probably have tucked into a cheeky slice (or two)!

As ever, I’m back again with my (mostly) regular fortnightly feature post – First Lines Friday. If you want to sample something new without the bias of a front cover, then you have come to the right place!

Which book am I featuring today?

 

Only dead people are allowed to have statues, but I have been given one while still alive. Already I am petrified.

This statue was a small token of appreciation for my many contributions, said the citation, which was read out by Aunt Vidala. She’d been assigned the task by our supervisors, and was far from appreciative. I thanked her with as much modesty as I could summon, then pulled the rope that released the cloth drape shrouding me; it billowed to the ground, and there I stood. We don’t do cheering here at Ardua Hall, but there was some discreet clapping. I inclined my head in a nod.

 

 

 

You may have guessed what book this is already… and I will not stop talking about it! I finished reading it only recently and I wanted to share the opening with you. Whilst not full of action, the opening reflects the introspective nature of a character that has helped to build a corrupt society and risen to power as a result – well, as much as women can anyway…

Hers is just one perspective out of three in this fantastic novel. Would you like to find out what it is?

 

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

Goodreads – The Testaments

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

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.

“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.

 

Is The Testaments on your TBR? Have you read it already like me? As always, I would love to hear from you!!

 

 

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down the tbr hole

Down the TBR Hole #25

Hi guys! It’s time for another review of the TBR in today’s Down the TBR Hole post! Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story. The idea is to review the books on your TBR to decide if you still want to read them. The rules are as follows: –

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Today I’ll be checking out the next ten books on the list – are you ready?

 

The Court of Broken Knives – Anna Smith Spark

The Court of Broken Knives

Goodreads – The Court of Broken Knives

They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we piss gold and jewels into the dust.

In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has become the true ruler, and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion – and only one man can see it.

Haunted by dreams of the empire’s demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him – beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.

 

I added this book to the TBR on the 24th June 2018, and I kid you not, nearly a year on to the day (23rd June 2019), I bought my copy through Amazon. Freaky! I think it was on offer at the time, and I had read a review that reminded me of it.

This is a definite keeper, that’s for sure!

Verdict: Keep

 

The Mage Wars – Mercedes Lackey

The Mage Wars

Goodreads – The Mage Wars

Set around three thousand years before the rest of the Valdemar series, this is the ancient history of Velgarth and the story of Skandranon Rashkae, a gryphon with gleaming ebony feathers, keen magesight and acute intelligence. He is the fulfillment of all that the Mage of Silence, the human sorcerer called Urtho, intended to achieve when he created these magical beings to be his champions, the defenders of his realm – a verdant plain long coveted by the evil mage Ma’ar.

Together with Amberdrake, a Healer of body, mind and spirit, Skandranon will defend his nation from his evil counterparts created by Ma’ar, the makaar. The glorious city of White Gryphon will rise from the ashes, but it will take careful negotiation, spying and terrible war against the mysterious Black Kings to secure the stronghold. Even then, the elite guard force, the Silver Gryphons, will discover a greater terror lurking in the forests beyond the city walls…

The Mage Wars omnibus follows Skandranon and his lifelong friend, Amberdrake, and their children, as they seek to establish and defend a Kingdom of peace and tranquillity.

 

These next few books are actually quite easy, as I own them all. They are sat on my bookshelf in the spare room begging to be picked up. I bought them all together, having read a little about them via Goodreads.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Mage Storms – Mercedes Lackey

The Mage Storms

Goodreads – The Mage Storms

Karse and Valdemar have long been enemy kingdoms, until they are forced into an uneasy alliance to defend their lands from the armies of Eastern Empire, which is ruled by a monarch whose magical tactics may be beyond any sorcery known to the Western kingdoms. Forced to combat this dire foe, the Companions of Valdemar may, at last, have to reveal secrets which they have kept hidden for centuries… even from their beloved Heralds.

 

As above. I really want to try these epic fantasy novels.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Mage Winds – Mercedes Lackey

The Mage Winds

Goodreads – The Mage Winds

Long ago, high magic was lost to Valdemar when the last Herald-Mage gave his life to protect his kingdom from destruction by dark sorceries. But now the protective barrier over Valdemar is crumbling, and with the realm imperilled, Princess Elspeth, Herald and heir to the throne, has gone on a desperate quest in search of a mentor who can teach her to wield her fledgling mage-powers and help her to defend her threatened kingdom.

Winds of fate
With the realm at risk, Elspeth, herald and heir to the throne, abandons her home to find a mentor who can awaken her untrained mage abilities.

Winds of change
Princess Elspeth journeys to the Vale of the Tayledras Clan to seek Mage training among the powerful Hawkbrother Adepts, only to find that she and renegade adept Darkwind must confront the malevolent magic of Ancar of Hardorn.

Winds of fury
Herald-Princess Elspeth and her beloved partner, Darkwind the adept, return to Valdemar to confront the evil and powerful Ancar, who once again is threatening her homeland.

 

… Yeah, and again. As above. No point adding unnecessary wordage here.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Dragonbone Chair – Tad Williams

Goodreads – The Dragonbone Chair

A war fueled by the powers of dark sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard—for Prester John, the High King, lies dying. And with his death, the Storm King, the undead ruler of the elf-like Sithi, seizes the chance to regain his lost realm through a pact with the newly ascended king. Knowing the consequences of this bargain, the king’s younger brother joins with a small, scattered group of scholars, the League of the Scroll, to confront the true danger threatening Osten Ard.

Simon, a kitchen boy from the royal castle unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League, will be sent on a quest that offers the only hope of salvation, a deadly riddle concerning long-lost swords of power. Compelled by fate and perilous magics, he must leave the only home he’s ever known and face enemies more terrifying than Osten Ard has ever seen, even as the land itself begins to die.

After the landmark Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, the epic saga of Osten Ard continues with the brand-new novel, The Heart of What Was Lost. Then don’t miss the upcoming trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard, beginning with The Witchwood Crown!

 

There’s definitely a fantasy theme running here so far! I can’t help but think that there are a lot of clichés in this one, based on the synopsis. I don’t mind the odd one, but stories that use the same ones all the time get repetitive. It sounds very similar to something I have read before, so I think I am going to pass on this one.

Verdict: Go

 

Auschwitz – Laurence Rees

Goodreads – Auschwitz

Auschwitz-Birkenau is the site of the largest mass murder in human history. Yet its story is not fully known. In Auschwitz, Laurence Rees reveals new insights from more than 100 original interviews with Auschwitz survivors and Nazi perpetrators who speak on the record for the first time. Their testimonies provide a portrait of the inner workings of the camp in unrivalled detail—from the techniques of mass murder, to the politics and gossip mill that turned between guards and prisoners, to the on-camp brothel in which the lines between those guards and prisoners became surprisingly blurred.

Rees examines the strategic decisions that led the Nazi leadership to prescribe Auschwitz as its primary site for the extinction of Europe’s Jews—their “Final Solution.” He concludes that many of the horrors that were perpetrated in Auschwitz were driven not just by ideological inevitability but as a “practical” response to a war in the East that had begun to go wrong for Germany. A terrible immoral pragmatism characterizes many of the decisions that determined what happened at Auschwitz. Thus the story of the camp becomes a morality tale, too, in which evil is shown to proceed in a series of deft, almost noiseless incremental steps until it produces the overwhelming horror of the industrial scale slaughter that was inflicted in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

 

As awful as it sounds, I have a bit of a morbid fascination with the events and atrocities of World War II and Nazi Germany. I love other books on the same subject, like The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Code Name Verity. Auschwitz, in contrast to the other books just named, is a non-fiction account. I’m trying to get myself to read more non-fiction (and failing right now)… but this is one to pick up at a later date.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt

Goodreads – The Woman Who Would Be King

An engrossing biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt and the story of her audacious rise to power in a man’s world.

Hatshepsut, the daughter of a general who took Egypt’s throne without status as a king’s son and a mother with ties to the previous dynasty, was born into a privileged position of the royal household. Married to her brother, she was expected to bear the sons who would legitimize the reign of her father’s family. Her failure to produce a male heir was ultimately the twist of fate that paved the way for her inconceivable rule as a cross-dressing king.

At just twenty, Hatshepsut ascended to the rank of king in an elaborate coronation ceremony that set the tone for her spectacular twenty-two year reign as co-regent with Thutmose III, the infant king whose mother Hatshepsut out-maneuvered for a seat on the throne. Hatshepsut was a master strategist, cloaking her political power plays with the veil of piety and sexual expression. Just as women today face obstacles from a society that equates authority with masculinity, Hatshepsut had to shrewdly operate the levers of a patriarchal system to emerge as Egypt’s second female pharaoh.

Hatshepsut had successfully negotiated a path from the royal nursery to the very pinnacle of authority, and her reign saw one of Ancient Egypt’s most prolific building periods. Scholars have long speculated as to why her images were destroyed within a few decades of her death, all but erasing evidence of her rule. Constructing a rich narrative history using the artifacts that remain, noted Egyptologist Kara Cooney offers a remarkable interpretation of how Hatshepsut rapidly but methodically consolidated power—and why she fell from public favor just as quickly. The Woman Who Would Be King traces the unconventional life of an almost-forgotten pharaoh and explores our complicated reactions to women in power.

 

It’s rare that one non-fiction book graces the TBR, but two in a row?! It’s unheard of. I’m keeping this book on the TBR too; I didn’t even know there were female pharaohs! I’d like to learn a little more about her, and Egyptian culture. It’s a break from my usual reading and allows me to expand my history knowledge.

Verdict: Keep

 

Henry VIII – Abigail Archer

Goodreads – Henry VIII

Henry VIII ruled England from 1509 to 1547. As a young man, he was fond of sports and hunting, and was said to be uncommonly handsome. Standing more than six feet tall, he loomed large in the lives and minds of his subjects as he navigated his country through the tricky diplomatic and military hazards of the sixteenth century. A man of enormous appetites, Henry conducted affairs with many women, married six, and executed two. His infatuation with Anne Boleyn set in motion a chain of events that reshaped the church in England and eroded the dominance of Rome. But the popular image of Henry as a crude tyrant, dispatching courtiers, enemies, and wives with gusto, obscures a more nuanced and fascinating character.

He was a true Renaissance king who presided over one of Europe’s greatest courts and nudged Western civilization onto a new course. Here, from Abigail Archer, author of The New York Times bestseller Elizabeth I, is the story of Henry VIII.

 

Three non-fiction books in a row? I must have been conscious of the fact that I don’t read many and trying to rectify that. They are all history as well, which is fair enough. I enjoy history – at least they are all different in time period. The Tudor period is up there with WW2 on my list of favourite subjects.

Verdict: Keep

 

Playing With Matches – Lee Strauss

Goodreads – Playing With Matches

Heinz Schultz’s word could send a man to prison. Though only a youth of fifteen, he was strong, tall, and blond. The boys in his Deutsches Jungvolk unit esteemed him and feared him.

And they wanted to be just like him.
Emil Radle wanted to be just like him.

A dedicated member of Hitler Youth, Emil was loyal to the Fuehrer before family, a champion for the cause and a fan of the famous Luftwaffe Airforce.

Emil’s friends Moritz and Johann discover a shortwave radio and everything changes. Now they listen to the forbidden BBC broadcast of news reports that tell both sides. Now they know the truth.

The boys along with Johann’s sister Katharina, band together to write out the reports and covertly distribute flyers through their city. It’s an act of high treason that could have them arrested–or worse.

As the war progresses, so does Emil’s affection for Katharina. He’d do anything to have a normal life and to stay in Passau by her side. But when Germany’s losses become immense, even their greatest resistance can’t prevent the boys from being sent to the Eastern Front.

 

How quickly we swing back to History and WW2… but at least we are back in historical fiction territory. I am on familiar ground again! I simultaneously added this to the TBR and bought the e-book from Amazon. That’s how convinced I was that this was a keeper. I think I saw this advertised on Bookbub when it was on offer. I stand by my decision to buy it there and then.

Verdict: Keep

 

Keep You Safe – Rona Halsall

Goodreads – Keep You Safe

What if trying to protect your child only put them in danger?

Natalie is desperate to find her little boy. It has been more than three years since she saw Harry. Three long years in prison for a crime she knows she didn’t commit.

But her husband believed the police, and took their son.

Who has gone to such great lengths to destroy Natalie’s life? Everyone she once trusted – friends, family, everyone close to her – what secrets do they hide?

If Natalie finds the truth, will she get Harry back, or lose him forever?

A totally gripping psychological thriller– perfect for fans of Big Little Lies, The Girl on the Train and C.L Taylor.

Previously titled GUILTY LITTLE SECRETS

 

Rona Halsall’s Keep You Safe is staying on the list for a couple of reasons. Not only does it sound like a fantastic thriller/mystery novel, but Rona is a local author! I feature a lot of books on my blog, but as yet, nothing from anyone living on our little Island. I’m excited to be able to read this and share my thoughts on it.

Verdict: Keep

Only one book struck off the list again. At this point, I don’t think I’ll be striking many more off the list. They are all reasonably recent additions.

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my choices?

As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

 

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First Lines Friday – 30/08/2019

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you have had a lovely week after the bank holiday on Monday (for some of us, anyway!)

I’m back again with my new regular fortnightly feature – First Lines Friday. If you want to sample something new without the bias of a front cover, then you have come to the right place!

Which book am I featuring today? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book: –

 

First the colours.

Then the humans.

That’s usually how I see things.

Or at least, how I try.

 

Here is a small fact

You are going to die.

 

I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations. Please, trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that’s only the A’s. Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.

 

Reaction to the Aforementioned fact

Does this worry you?

I urge you – don’t be afraid.

I’m nothing if not fair.

 

Of course, an introduction.

A beginning.

Where are my manners?

 

 

 

This particular book has been on my reading list for a couple of years now. It’s one I see a good number of bloggers talk about too. I have only ever seen praise of it. It’s currently scoring 4.37 stars and has over 1.6 million ratings, so I’m confident this is one I am really going to enjoy getting around to!

Not only that, but the undercurrents of the WW2 setting definitely make this my kind of read!

Would you like to find out what it is?

 

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

What do you think of the introduction to The Book Thief? Have you read it? Added it to your TBR?

As always, I would love to hear from you!!

 

 

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Book Review: Sword Song – Bernard Cornwell

I’m on a mission to catch up with one of my book reviews I have outstanding. I read Sword Song, the fourth instalment of the Saxon Stories in May this year. Whether you have/are reading the books or watched the TV show, there is something for all historical fiction fans.

I was introduced to The Last Kingdom, the first book of the series, by a Danish friend of mine. If you’d like to check out my reviews of the earlier books, you can find the reviews for The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman here and Lords of the North here. If you want to check those out before jumping into my review of Sword Song, now is the time to do it!

 

Sword Song – Bernard Cornwell

Goodreads – Sword Song

“Bernard Cornwell ranks as the current alpha male of testoterone-enriched historical fiction….This satisfying tale leaves you hungry for more of Uhtred’s adventures.” -USA Today

The year is 885, and England is at peace, divided between the Danish Kingdom to the north and the Saxon kingdom of Wessex in the south. Warrior by instinct and Viking by nature, Uhtred, the dispossessed son of Northumbrian lord, has land, a wife and children-and a duty to King Alfred to hold the frontier on the Thames. But a dead man has risen, and new Vikings have invaded the decayed Roman city of London with dreams of conquering Wessex…with Uhtred’s help. Suddenly forced to weigh his oath to the king against the dangerous turning side of shifting allegiances and deadly power struggles, Uhtred-Alfred’s sharpest sword-must now make the choice that will determine England’s future.

 

My Thoughts…

There is something about Uhtred’s character you cannot help but like. He’s tough, sure of himself; I’d even go so far to say arrogant. He is not without fault, and begrudging admitting it when he is. It’s all part of his charm. It’s funny, because I can’t stand people like that personally. I suppose there’s only room for one ego, so it has to be mine. I’m not even embarrassed to admit it either…

Caught between his Saxon heritage and his Danish upbringing and love of the warrior life, Uhtred’s loyalties are constantly tested. As a character, Uhtred makes the perfect narrator. Having ties to both sides, his conflicting feelings neither glorify nor demonise one side over the other. It serves well in building the conflict of the plot.

There may be peace between both camps for now, but it sits uneasily. As a Danish man, Uhtred is a firm believer in destiny. When word spreads of a prophecising dead man rising from the grave, Uhtred cannot resist the temptation to find out what his future has in store for him. With promises of Kingship and grandeur, Uhtred helps the Danes occupy Lundene, threatening the last standing kingdom of Wessex.

Aside from Uhtred there are plenty of other brilliant characters. From prodigiously devout to callous and reckless, England is as divided within its people as it is with the Danes. King Alfred is doing his best to pull everyone together, but he is one man – fighting a losing battle to unite the men hiding their own agendas before he even makes it onto the field.

 

 

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down the tbr hole

Down the TBR Hole #24

Hi guys! It’s time for another review of the TBR in today’s Down the TBR Hole post! Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story. The idea is to review the books on your TBR to decide if you still want to read them. The rules are as follows: –

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Today I’ll be checking out the next ten books on the list – are you ready?

 

The Fourteenth Letter – Claire Evans

Goodreads – The Fourteenth Letter

One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family. As she takes her fiancé’s hand, a stranger with a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl’s life. Amid the chaos, he turns to her groom and mouths: “I promised I would save you”.

Curl up for a sumptuous, exhilarating debut as a young legal clerk seeks to solve the mystery of Phoebe’s death – and uncovers a secret world full of danger.

 

Doesn’t the synopsis for this sound really intriguing?! Who is this girl and why is she murdered? How does her murder save her fiancé? I want to find out!

Verdict: Keep

 

Everless – Sara Holland

Goodreads – Everless

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

 

I purchased an e-book copy of Everless last year as I loved the sound of it so much. I stand by that decision even now. It’s an unusual concept with a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see how the narrative plays out. It has pretty good reviews on Goodreads too.

Verdict: Keep

 

A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

Goodreads – A Brief History of Time

In the ten years since its publication in 1988, Stephen Hawking’s classic work has become a landmark volume in scientific writing, with more than nine million copies in forty languages sold worldwide. That edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the intervening years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic worlds. These observations have confirmed many of Professor Hawking’s theoretical predictions in the first edition of his book, including the recent discoveries of the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite (COBE), which probed back in time to within 300,000 years of the universe’s beginning and revealed wrinkles in the fabric of space-time that he had projected.

Eager to bring to his original text the new knowledge revealed by these observations, as well as his own recent research, Professor Hawking has prepared a new introduction to the book, written an entirely new chapter on wormholes and time travel, and updated the chapters throughout.

 

I am by no means a science geek, but I definitely want to give this a try. After his death last year I added this book to the TBR. The man was a genius; his incredible research and his battle against motor neurone disease (outliving his initial 2 years life expectancy prognosis by 53 years!) will be his lasting legacy.

Verdict: Keep

 

Fools and Mortals – Bernard Cornwell

Goodreads – Fools and Mortals

A dramatic new departure for international bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, FOOLS AND MORTALS takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history.

Fools and Mortals follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry – and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory – propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal.

Showcasing his renowned storyteller’s skill, Bernard Cornwell has created an Elizabethan world incredibly rich in its portrayal: you walk the London streets, stand in the palaces and are on stage in the playhouses, as he weaves a remarkable story in which performances, rivalries and ambition combine to form a tangled web of intrigue.

 

Fools and Mortals is currently sat on my bookshelf in the hallway. I have dipped into it very recently, if only to share a First Lines Friday post about it. After that intro, I found it hard to put the book away again. I can see myself picking it pretty soon.

Verdict: Keep

 

Katherine of Aragón: The True Queen – Alison Weir

Goodreads – Katherine of Aragon

Bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir takes on what no fiction writer has done before: creating a dramatic six-book series in which each novel covers one of King Henry VIII’s wives. In this captivating opening volume, Weir brings to life the tumultuous tale of Katherine of Aragón. Henry’s first, devoted, and “true” queen.

A princess of Spain, Catalina is only sixteen years old when she sets foot on the shores of England. The youngest daughter of the powerful monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, Catalina is a coveted prize for a royal marriage – and Arthur, Prince of Wales, and heir to the English throne, has won her hand. But tragedy strikes and Catalina, now Princess Katherine, is betrothed to the future Henry VIII. She must wait for his coming-of-age, an ordeal that tests her resolve, casts doubt on her trusted confidantes, and turns her into a virtual prisoner.

Katherine’s patience is rewarded when she becomes Queen of England. The affection between Katherine and Henry is genuine, but forces beyond her control threaten to rend her marriage, and indeed the nation, apart. Henry has fallen under the spell of Katherine’s maid of honor, Anne Boleyn. Now Katherine must be prepared to fight, to the end if God wills it, for her faith, her legitimacy, and her heart.

 

The Tudor period and the lives of Henry VIII and his wives is one of my favourite topics of history. When I saw an article interviewing Alison Weir about the books/series in Writer’s Magazine, I had to add the first to the TBR. If I get on with the writing style of this first book then the rest will be going on the TBR too.

Verdict: Keep

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Goodreads – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

The only way to survive is to open your heart.

 

I think I am going to relate to Eleanor more than I would like to admit. Whilst I do go out to some social events, I’m not that adventurous. My weekends are not full of pizza and alcohol, but books. I have better than phone chats because I get to go and see my parents at the weekend. I’m hoping this will be an enjoyable read… and it might even teach me something about myself!

Verdict: Keep

 

The Hangman’s Daughter – Oliver Pötzsch

Goodreads – The Hangman’s Daughter

Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son—except that the town physician’s son is hopelessly in love with her. And her father’s wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession. It is 1659, the Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and there hasn’t been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin.

Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from her and torturing her until he gets one. Convinced she is innocent, he, Magdalena, and her would-be suitor race against the clock to find the true killer. Approaching Walpurgisnacht, when witches are believed to dance in the forest and mate with the devil, another tattooed orphan is found dead and the town becomes frenzied. More than one person has spotted what looks like the devil—a man with a hand made only of bones. The hangman, his daughter, and the doctor’s son face a terrifying and very real enemy.

 

My love of historical fiction is shining through in this Down the TBR Hole post.

It’s unusual for such compassion to be shown, one by a hangman and two, to someone accused of witchcraft. Magdalena’s quest to uncover the truth should be an excellent mystery to solve.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Rithmatist – Brandon Sanderson

The Rithmatist

Goodreads – The Rithmatist

The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson’s New York Times bestselling epic teen adventure is now available in paperback.

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

A New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2013

 

Brandon Sanderson, at this point, is an auto-buy author. Saying that I aim to read ALL his books is a tall order. He has already written a lot of books and so many more are in the planning. I’ve already read one trilogy (The Mistborn trilogy) and started another series (The Stormlight Archives). I’m also reading Elantris later this month. It’s fair to say I am making an effort.

I love the way he builds each fantasy world differently to the next. The one thing the books I have read so far have in common is that magic is based around some physical element; it isn’t an infinite resource. No magically getting rid of inconvenient problems.

Verdict: Keep

 

Eve of Man – Giovanna Fletcher

Eve of Man

Goodreads – Eve of Man

AGAINST ALL ODDS, SHE SURVIVED.
THE FIRST GIRL BORN IN FIFTY YEARS.
THEY CALLED HER EVE . . .

All her life Eve has been kept away from the opposite sex. Kept from the truth of her past.

But at sixteen it’s time for Eve to face her destiny. Three potential males have been selected for her. The future of humanity is in her hands. She’s always accepted her fate.

Until she meets Bram.

Eve wants control over her life. She wants freedom.

But how do you choose between love and the future of the human race?

EVE OF MAN is the first in an explosive new trilogy by bestselling authors Giovanna & Tom Fletcher.

 

I’m on the fence with this one. It’s a work of dystopian fiction, which in theory should be right up my street. I have doubts though. If the narrative is going to consist of constant mournful pining for someone else then I’m just not going to get on with it.

If I didn’t have such a large TBR then maybe I’d give it the benefit of the doubt and try it. I think I’ll drop this one.

Verdict: Go

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is going nowhere but into my hands to read! I actually just bought my copy of the book a couple of weeks ago. Paperback, because I love Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer series and I don’t doubt I’ll love this one too.

Verdict: Keep

One book out of ten doesn’t feel all that productive, but at least I can say I know my reading preferences. The books I am considering at this point were only added to the TBR a year ago, so comparatively, they aren’t even that old choices. I doubt there will be much I filter off the list at this point… but I can look, right?

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my choices?

As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

 

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down the tbr hole

Down the TBR Hole #23

Hi guys! It’s time for another review of the TBR in todays Down the TBR Hole post! Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story. The idea is to review the books on your TBR to decide if you still want to read them. The rules are as follows: –

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Today I’ll be checking out the next ten books on the list – are you ready?

 

The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

Goodreads – The Great Gatsby

THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story is of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his new love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.

 

I really enjoyed learning about the history of America at school, in particular the 1920’s and 1930’s. The Great Gatsby is a classic novel too, and I really want to read more of them (you’ll see this is a theme in this Down the TBR Hole post). This is definitely staying on the list!

Verdict: Keep

 

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

Goodreads – The Diary of a Young Girl

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has become a world classic-a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.

In 1942, with the Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, the Franks and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and surprisingly humorous, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

 

Anyone who reads my blog will know that I am a huge fan of anything historical. I tend to read more historical fiction if anything. Again, this is another one of those popular classics and I have to read it. It will be far more harrowing than any fiction novel because I know it was real. I’m sure I’ll cry – is any other reaction appropriate?

Verdict: Keep

 

A Land of Shades – Charles Lyte

Goodreads – A-Land of Shades

August, 1914. The Germans have occupied Louvain in Belgium.

Among the refugees fleeing the city is Julian Hydon, a young Jesuit priest. But when he witnesses the brutal roadside killing of a scholastic, Eugene Dupierreux, Hydon determines to join the war as an Army Chaplain. But his sense of mission turns to disillusion, doubt and anger after spending time with a boy named Andy West who suffers the fate of a court martial.

Bent on experiencing the pleasure of a woman and becoming a ‘man’ before he dies, Andy warns Hydon he is about to sin and seeks absolution. Hydon is uncertain how to counsel the boy and feels his own faith slipping. But when the boy is found guilty of desertion, Hydon must accompany him to his execution.

Outraged and struck by the futility of the war, Hydon publicly criticises the sentence, entangles himself with the deserter’s girlfriend, and is rejected by the Army and the Church. Banished to England, Hydon wanders purposely from mission to mission. He is posted first at a hospital for the wounded near his home and then at Pentonville prison, resigned to comforting the souls of the damned. But something is missing. Hydon feels useless and wants to be back on the frontline, aiding the war effort.

Being handed a white feather on the train by a self-righteous lady on the train is the last straw. Isolated Hydon seeks redemption in anonymity and battle for one last time.

‘A Land of Shades’ is an unusual and gripping story of the Great War as told by a young Jesuit priest who struggles to retain his faith in the face of brutality and violence.

 

Historical fiction is another theme to this TBR. I must have been going through a phase at the time I added these books to the list! I knew that this book was my cup of tea when I saw it, so I already have the e-book ready and waiting for me. It’s a small part of our world history, but one I enjoy reading all the same.

Verdict: Keep

 

Tricks of the Trade – Euan B Pollock

Goodreads – Tricks of the Trade

Stewart Scott is a first year trainee in one of Edinburgh’s oldest law firms.

Out of his depth, he is constantly working just to stay in the game and match the talents of the other first year trainees. But a chance to shine comes Stewart’s way when he is given the opportunity to partake in an investigation.

A client of the firm has recently died. The deceased, Major Robertson, left a substantial estate, and the terms of his will stipulate that his considerable wealth will go to his family – unless the Major died by suicide, whereupon his estate will be donated to a charity. And the conclusion, thus far, has been suicide.

Heading up the investigation into the Major’s death is Sebastian Dakar, practicing Zen master and the most unlikely detective that Stewart could imagine. But upon their arrival at the Major’s family home, Stewart begins to realise that perhaps the case of the Major isn’t as cut and dried as first thought.

 

Occasionally I like to take a break from my usual reads, and this short and snappy legal-based novel will be a great way of doing just that! I won a copy of this book in a competition/giveaway run on Instagram by the author last year. It’s currently sat on my bookshelf in the hall. Next time I need a quick read, I could always pick this up. I really enjoyed the short stories I read last month.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm – Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Goodreads – The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

When Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published their Children’s and Household Tales in 1812, followed by a second volume in 1815, they had no idea that such stories as “Rapunzel,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Cinderella” would become the most celebrated in the world. Yet few people today are familiar with the majority of tales from the two early volumes, since in the next four decades the Grimms would publish six other editions, each extensively revised in content and style. For the very first time, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm makes available in English all 156 stories from the 1812 and 1815 editions. These narrative gems, newly translated and brought together in one beautiful book, are accompanied by sumptuous new illustrations from award-winning artist Andrea Dezso.

From “The Frog King” to “The Golden Key,” wondrous worlds unfold–heroes and heroines are rewarded, weaker animals triumph over the strong, and simple bumpkins prove themselves not so simple after all. Esteemed fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes offers accessible translations that retain the spare description and engaging storytelling style of the originals. Indeed, this is what makes the tales from the 1812 and 1815 editions unique–they reflect diverse voices, rooted in oral traditions, that are absent from the Grimms’ later, more embellished collections of tales. Zipes’s introduction gives important historical context, and the book includes the Grimms’ prefaces and notes.

A delight to read, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm presents these peerless stories to a whole new generation of readers.

 

When I received a copy of this for my birthday (on request), a few people were a little bemused as to why I would want it. Yes, okay, it’s children’s stories, but not the ones we know and love today. These are the originals written over 200 years ago before they were revised and adapted. They include parts that never made it to the popular children’s tales we tell now. This particular edition also touches on the historical influences in some of the stories.

Verdict: Keep

 

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

Goodreads – Rebecca

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

 

I tried to read this years ago when I borrowed it (for what I hope are obvious reasons?). I struggled then and if I’m honest, I’ll think I’ll struggle again. It’s not really my thing. Yes, it has elements of genres I enjoy, like horror, but the romance puts me off. It’s a classic and I added it to the TBR for that reason. I don’t want to force myself to read books I don’t think I’ll enjoy though.

Verdict: Go

 

Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Goodreads – Don Quixote

Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances, that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote’s fancy often leads him astray – he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants – Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers’ imaginations for nearly four hundred years.

With its experimental form and literary playfulness, Don Quixote generally has been recognized as the first modern novel. The book has had enormous influence on a host of writers, from Fielding and Sterne to Flaubert, Dickens, Melville, and Faulkner, who reread it once a year, “just as some people read the Bible.”

 

And again, we have a work of classical fiction. I am relatively sure I added it to the list having read a fellow bloggers review of it. In hindsight though, I don’t think this is my cup of tea either.

Verdict: Go

 

Crimes Against Magic – Steve McHugh

Goodreads – Crimes Against Magic

It’s been almost ten years since Nathan Garrett woke on a cold warehouse floor with nothing but a gun, a sword, and no idea of who he was or how he got there. His only clue … a piece of paper with his name on it. Since then, he’s discovered he’s a powerful sorcerer and has used his abilities to work as a thief for hire. But he’s never stopped hunting for his true identity, and those who erased his memory have never stopped hunting for him. When the barrier holding his past captive begins to crumble, Nathan swears to protect a young girl who is key to his enemy’s plans. But with his enemies closing in, and everyone he cares about becoming a target for their wrath, Nathan is forced to choose between the life he’s built for himself and the one buried deep inside him.

Crimes Against Magic is an Urban Fantasy set in modern-day London with Historical flashbacks to early fifteenth-century France. It’s book one of the Hellequin Chronicles, a series about Nathan (Nate) Garrett, a centuries-old sorcerer.

 

Whilst I like fantasy novels, I always approach Urban Fantasy with a degree of scepticism.

I read fantasy novels as a means of escapism. Having the modern-day setting to these novels makes it a little harder for me to achieve that. It might sound completely daft to you, but there you have it. I’m not 100% sure about this one, so I’ll take it off the list.

Verdict: Go

 

Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Goodreads – Crime and Punishment

‘Crime? What crime?…My killing a loathsome, harmful louse, a filthy old moneylender woman…and you call that a crime?’

Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption.

This vivid translation by David McDuff has been acclaimed as the most accessible version of Dostoyevsky’s great novel, rendering its dialogue with a unique force and naturalism.

 

This is a classic that is definitely staying on my list! It’s one of the first (and few) I bought as a reward for meeting a monthly savings goal – the larger goal being a deposit for my (now recently purchased) new car! I set myself a tough target so there are only a couple of months that I managed to not dip into the savings. I bought this because the synopsis is interesting… and it’s a classic. I’m trying to read more of those.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Rainmaker – John Grisham

Goodreads – The Rainmaker

John Grisham’s five novels — A Time To Kill, The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, and The Chamber — have been number one best-sellers, and have a combined total of 47 million copies in print. Now, inThe Rainmaker, Grisham returns to the courtroom for the first time since A Time To Kill, and weaves a riveting tale of legal intrigue and corporate greed. Combining suspense, narrative momentum, and humor as only John Grisham can, this is another spellbinding read from the most popular author of our time.

Grisham’s sixth spellbinding novel of legal intrigue and corporate greed displays all of the intricate plotting, fast-paced action, humor, and suspense that have made him the most popular author of our time. In his first courtroom thriller since A Time To Kill, John Grisham tells the story of a young man barely out of law school who finds himself taking on one of the most powerful, corrupt, and ruthless companies in America — and exposing a complex, multibillion-dollar insurance scam. In his final semester of law school Rudy Baylor is required to provide free legal advice to a group of senior citizens, and it is there that he meets his first “clients,” Dot and Buddy Black. Their son, Donny Ray, is dying of leukemia, and their insurance company has flatly refused to pay for his medical treatments. While Rudy is at first skeptical, he soon realizes that the Blacks really have been shockingly mistreated by the huge company, and that he just may have stumbled upon one of the largest insurance frauds anyone’s ever seen — and one of the most lucrative and important cases in the history of civil litigation. The problem is, Rudy’s flat broke, has no job, hasn’t even passed the bar, and is about to go head-to-head with one of the best defense attorneys — and powerful industries — in America.

 

I am yet to read any of John Grisham’s novels, but I have heard a lot of good things about his writing. I know work colleagues that regularly read his books, so I definitely want to give them a go. Also, do I want to watch how one man challenges a huge corporation and cross my fingers that he gives it to them good? Yes, yes I do.

Verdict: Keep

Once again that’s three out of ten books that I have dropped from the list. At least I know I have a reasonable idea of what I like to read and I’m not *too* impulsive when it comes to adding books to the TBR. Okay, that’s a complete lie!

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my choices?

As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

 

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