Tag: books

Tips to Get Out of a Reading Slump

We all get to that stage where we lack motivation to read. Maybe you aren’t getting on with the particular book you are reading, or perhaps you’re sick of a particular genre or a trope within it. Hey, it happens. There is no point beating yourself up about it.

My TBR is never far from my mind and when I heave deadlines, I don’t have time for a slump. There are a few things you can do to get yourself out of it, if you really need to.

 

Read Something Else

If your reading slump is just beginning and you think it might be your reaction to a certain book, try to read something else. Taking half an hour to enjoy something else could be more advantageous than trying to struggle on through the current read. I know it’s tempting to try and slog through it but you won’t enjoy it and might contribute to a longer slump in the long run. Take a break! You deserve it!

If reading another book from a genre you read a lot of doesn’t cut it, then try something totally new! Why not try a short story or novella if you are struggling with a full length novel? Finishing the book is a lot more attainable and the sense of achievement from doing it could be the pickup you need to get motivated again. Alternatively, branch out into a new or under-read genre. If I was looking for something different, then horror might be a genre I would turn to as I don’t read as much of it as others.

 

Set Yourself Achievable Reading Goals

My TBR this month is one of the longest I have ever set. I have seven books on the list that I want to have finished come 1st November, plus an extra sample read for an author I have worked with. It works out at over 1,800 pages to read, which sounds horrendous. It’s not really though; when you break it down, it works out at 59 pages a day, which I know I can do. I am keeping on track with it too, even considering all the extra blogging I am doing this month.

Set yourself an attainable goal that you can look at on a daily or weekly basis and assess your progress. If that goal is proving unattainable, don’t be afraid to revise the plan. We’ve all over-stretched ourselves before.

 

Try a Different Medium

Tired of reading books? Have you tried picking up a graphic novel or a magazine instead? Maybe you could try listening to an audiobook instead. I like the variety of reading in different forms and it allows me to maximise my time. I can listen to audiobooks when I am getting ready for work, or when I am driving home at the end of the day.

 

Take a Break

It doesn’t have to be a long break, but give yourself time to enjoy doing something else. Give yourself the night off to catch up with friends or a TV program you love. In my spare time, I like to play Minecraft and spend time with my family.

It may be that a longer break would suit you; that’s fine too! We read for the enjoyment of it above all else, and if you aren’t enjoying it, what is the point in doing it? Nothing good comes of forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do… so my advice is don’t.

Do you have any advice for anyone stuck in a slump? What works for you?

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Worlds I Love

It’s Tuesday, so guess what guys… it’s another Top Ten Tuesday post I am sharing with you today!

This week’s theme for the post is Bookish Worlds I Love. I am a sucker for world-building so there are going to be some brilliant names on the list! Just because I love these worlds doesn’t mean I would necessarily want to visit them… but yeah!

 

Westeros (& Essos) – A Song of Ice and Fire series

For obvious reasons I love these… but I wouldn’t like to visit. Knowing my luck, I’d turn up and immediately get run over by a dung cart. That’s probably the best I could hope for. These worlds aren’t exactly known for their smothering kindness to its citizens.

 

Middle Earth – The Lord of the Rings series

Tolkien paints such a magical and vivid setting in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I would love to see the Ents and the power of nature in force. Hobbiton would be pretty quiet and quaint too. It’s just a shame I’ll be too tall to move in…

 

The Labyrinth – The Relic Guild series

Again, this wouldn’t be the most pleasant place to find myself in, but spectacular again for the magic. I wouldn’t really like the idea of being cut-off from society either.

 

Valengrad – Raven’s Mark series

Again, a dark world to want to visit, but the fabulous descriptions in the Raven’s Mark series mark this on my map! This is an unusual place on the list, as a wasteland known as the Misery in particular would be an amazing (and amazingly difficult) place to traverse. With a shifting landscape as a result of corrupt magic and few unmoving landmarks, it’s not your typical world.

 

Roshar – The Stormlight Archives

I’ve only read one of these books so far and already I have fallen in love with Roshar. It has such a depth of history and is so beautifully described. I cannot wait to see how the rest of the books live up to the first in this!

 

The Discworld – Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series

The Discworld is the fictional setting of 41 novels; it is a flat, circular world, balanced on the back of four elephants who in turn stand upon the back of the Great A’Tuin – a turtle. Yep. That pretty much sums up how crazy this place is, but even still I love the real, everyday problems that are encountered here. The Discworld books are really entertaining!

 

The Sollan Empire (and beyond!) – Sun Eater series

This world is so expansive that I don’t even truly know how to quantify it! I feel this series has a lot more to offer too; I haven’t read Howling Dark yet so I’m sure my horizons will be broadened even further after this book. It has so many unique systems, worlds and civilisations.

 

Orisha – Legacy of Orïsha series

Children of Blood & Bone

My favourite element of the world of Orïsha is the cultural aspect. I feel it truly celebrates a unique culture and consequently has a completely new insight into the world and the beauty of it.

 

Weep – Strange the Dreamer series

The narrative of Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer makes Weep sound hauntingly beautiful in its desolation. All her descriptions are vivid and amazing, but the sense of mystery about the lost city makes it all-the-more appealing.

 

Temerant – The Kingkiller Chronicles

I need to re-read these books and appreciate them again. It has been a really long time. The sophistication of the world-building in this series is why it makes its way onto the list. These books are some of my favourites in the fantasy genre.

Which book is your favourite bookish world from? Do you share any of these?

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Netgalley: Yay or Nay?

I signed up to Netgalley not long after I started my blog, however, I am still unsure really as to how I feel about it two years on.

Back in May 2018 I published a post called Five Reasons I don’t Rate Netgalley. Every point in that post still stands. I am only a very occasional user of the service. It comes in handy for some blog tours I take part in, but it’s rare that I go on and have a browse to find something of my own accord.

A lot of bloggers love the site and frequently brag about downloading too many books; I just don’t understand it. I can’t say I have ever found many books I want to download on there at any one time. At best, I’ll make the odd request here and there. I have one currently for The Mothers by Sarah Naughton, but that’s all.

My profile is too small to successfully request the newest and most popular books, but equally, I would feel that in order to get to a point where I would be accepted, I would have to read a lot of books I’m not that interested in to get there. I’m not doing it. I am not going to force myself to read books that don’t appeal to me.

If I’m honest, I think it is over-rated. I keep my account because it does come in handy. Sometimes it makes for a change to see what else is out there, or to try a debut author. I’ll never be one of these bloggers that live off Netgalley and I am okay with that. There are so many amazing books elsewhere that I don’t feel I am missing out.

Do you use Netgalley? What are your thoughts on the site?

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

My Holiday Reads

I haven’t exactly made a secret of the fact I am going on holiday this month. For today’s post, I want to share with you my intended reading whilst I am enjoying some fabulous company and (fingers crossed) some good weather.

I feel like there is an expectation for women to read chick-lit on holiday. I know it’s supposed to be nice, light reading, but that’s not me. Reading women’s fiction is an exception, rather than the rule when it comes to my reading tastes. Instead, I’ll be taking a variety of genres away with me.

If you want to read why these books appeal to me, check out my Reading List for October.

 

Circe – Madeline Miller

Goodreads – Circe

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

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

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

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

 

Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads – Imaginary Friend

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.

Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend. The epic work of literary horror from the #1 bestselling author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.

If I finish these, then I have plenty of books on my Kindle to choose from. I have already considered are The Book Thief by Mark Zusak and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I might also pick up When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen, but it’s set in an office. Going on holiday is my getting away from that!

I’m not going to set any more books than this in stone. If I finish all the books on the TBR then I can treat myself to reading whatever I would like dependent on my mood. From fantasy to non-fiction; historical fiction to futuristic thriller… I have something for the occasion.

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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?

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book: –

 

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

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!!

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

Reading List – June 2019

It’s time for me to post June’s reading list… since June has come around the corner already!! Where is this year going?

I fared a lot better with May’s reading list than I anticipated. It’s rare that I get through anything near six books in a month. I would have been happy if I’d read my average of five and to have started the sixth, A Feat for Crows. Turns out, I’ve managed to read nearly 70% of that as well! I’ve far exceeded my expectations! So, I think I am going to push myself a little more this month too. Why not? I relish a challenge.

I have a few books I have been sent for review, as well as blog tours this month and one very early next month. As a result, I’m going to be picking up quite a few ARCS. I also have a copy of a book I’ve requested from Netgalley – try not to faint. I’ve decided to give it another go, but be more selective about what I download and pull my finger out when it comes to reading them.

So, let’s take a look at the books I am planning on reading in June.

 

A Feast for Crows – George R. R. Martin

 

Crows will fight over a dead man’s flesh, and kill each other for his eyes.

Bloodthirsty, treacherous and cunning, the Lannisters are in power on the Iron Throne in the name of the boy-king Tommen. The war in the Seven Kingdoms has burned itself out, but in its bitter aftermath new conflicts spark to life.

The Martells of Dorne and the Starks of Winterfell seek vengeance for their dead. Euron Crow’s Eye, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, returns from the smoking ruins of Valyria to claim the Iron Isles. From the icy north, where Others threaten the Wall, apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms to the Citadel.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel and the coldest hearts.

 

This one is pretty self-explanatory – I am looking to get this one finished since I am most of the way through the book. With tours coming up in the next week or so for other books, A Feast for Crows is being relegated to the sidelines a little bit. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing as I have been reading this for days. A change is as good as a rest – that’s an expression, right?

 

Game of Crones – Jay Raven

 

Forget Happily Ever After – the most delicious fairy tales end in darkness and despair…
Welcome to a mystical age of cruelty, hexes and treachery, where malicious magic rules and you are but a single necromancer’s spell away from eternal terror.

From malevolent medieval magicians to Wild West witches, this spellbinding volume by a master of the macabre is packed with frightening fables guaranteed to send a supernatural chill down your spine.

If you’re thrilled by exciting dark fantasy tales, with cunning twists, edge-of -the seat tension and unexpected shivers, you’ll love Game of Crones. Pick it up today. If you dare…

 

I’m not generally in the habit of reading many short stories, which is a bit daft really! I should! They’re a great opportunity to have a short break away from a lengthier narrative. I also dabble a little in entering short story competitions, so it makes sense to read them and see what works! It will only improve my own writing (with any luck…)

I’m taking part in the upcoming blog tour for this collection. As this is the most imminent tour, I’ll be prioritising this read first. I expect I’ll have these read in a day or two in anticipation for my post at the end of the week!

 

The Lynmouth Stories – L. V. Hay

 

Beautiful places hide dark secrets …

Devon’s very own crime writer L.V Hay (The Other Twin, Do No Harm) brings forth three new short stories from her dark mind and poison pen:

– For kidnapped Meg and her young son Danny, In Plain Sight, the remote headland above Lynmouth is not a haven, but hell.

– A summer of fun for Catherine in Killing Me Softly becomes a winter of discontent … and death.

– In Hell And High Water, a last minute holiday for Naomi and baby Tommy  becomes a survival situation … But that’s before the village floods.

All taking place out of season when the majority of tourists have gone home, L.V Hay uses her local knowledge to bring forth dark and claustrophic noir she has come to be known for.

 

Here is another short story collection I am reading this month for a blog tour! This is fast approaching next week, so I’ll be getting my skates on to get these read as well! Each of my short story collections is of different genres, with this one being a crime. It’s a genre I read quite a lot of, so I am fairly sure I won’t be long in devouring these at all!

 

Biohacked and Begging – Stephen Oram

 

The future is ours and it’s up for grabs…

Immerse yourself in the future of biohacking and implants, genetic modification, blockchain micro-transactions and futuristic dating-apps with author of ‘Eating Robots’, Stephen Oram.

Prodding and poking the possible in volume 2 of Nudge the Future, Oram starts with another flash fiction foray into the world of Unified Sentience and ends with virtual reality for babies and biohacked fish.

With sharpness and wit, these sci-fi shorts will grab your imagination and refuse to let go.

 

And another collection of short stories I am looking to read this month. This is my Netgalley request! I’ve decided I really ought to give Netgalley another chance. I certainly won’t be the kind of person that reads anything and everything on there because it’s not my favourite site, but if I’m selective then I don’t see why we can’t come to a mutual understanding with each other.

 

The appeal for this book is the genre. I am endeavouring to read more science fiction, and I figured this book ticks two boxes in that respect. I get to explore the genre as well as read more short stories. This way, I’m not diving in too deep if I don’t like this particular branch as well. Win-win!

 

The War Within – Stephen Donaldson

 

Stephen R. Donaldson, the New York Times bestselling author of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, returns to the world of his Great God’s War fantasy epic as two kingdoms– united by force–prepare to be challenged by a merciless enemy…

It has been twenty years since Prince Bifalt of Belleger discovered the Last Repository and the sorcerous knowledge hidden there. At the behest of the repository’s magisters, and in return for the restoration of sorcery to both kingdoms, the realms of Belleger and Amika ceased generations of war. Their alliance was sealed with the marriage of Bifalt to Estie, the crown princess of Amika. But the peace–and their marriage–has been uneasy.

Now the terrible war that King Bifalt and Queen Estie feared is coming. An ancient enemy has discovered the location of the Last Repository, and a mighty horde of dark forces is massing to attack the library and take the magical knowledge it guards. That horde will slaughter every man, woman, and child in its path, destroying both Belleger and Amika along the way.

With their alliance undermined by lingering hostility and conspiracies threatening, it will take all of the monarchs’ strength and will to inspire their kingdoms to become one to defend their land, or all is lost…

 

I have very kindly been sent a copy of The War Within for review by Gollancz. In preparation, I read the first book of the series, Seventh Decimate, last month. Since I am reading a few different things and branching out, it seems only fair that I stick to my roots for at least one book! This is one of my lengthier reads of the month… well, as far as I can gauge from the thickness of the book anyway! It’s a hardback too, so it’s going to be a hefty weight to be carrying around with me whilst I read it.

And for the record, no! Leaving it at home is just NOT an option haha!

 

Three – K. J. McGillick

 

Betrayal. Deceit. Danger. Murder.

How would you feel if you discovered your death was planned by someone you loved? You didn’t know how or when or even why.  Would you feel anger or fear or hopelessness knowing your fate.  All you could do was wait. Tick Tock.

One early spring morning, Emma Collier, an art history professor awakens to find her lover gone. Vanished. In a desperate attempt to locate him, she is stunned to discover that he is not an art dealer at all. But he is part of a powerful organization dealing in international money laundering, forged art, and human trafficking.

Implicated as a willing participant in his malevolent world, she struggles to clear her name. But when her body double is found brutally murdered she knows she is marked for death. As her life is ripped apart she must formulate a plan to stay alive. Now with the help of Agent Cillian O’Reilly, of the FBI Arts Crime Team, they pursue a trail that snakes across three continents and leads her to a  plan for mass murder. Will she survive?

 

I’ve taken a real liking to K. J. McGillick’s books. I was introduced to her as an author via a couple of other blog tours organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. I have loved every book of hers so far, so when the opportunity came up to read this thriller, it was an immediate yes from me! The tour for this book is towards the end of the month, so I plenty of time to kick back and relax with this beaut to hand.

 

 

Storms over Babylon – Jennifer Macaire

 

After winning a prestigious award, Ashley is chosen to travel through time and interview a historical figure. Choosing her childhood hero Alexander the Great, she is sent back in time for less than a day. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his own time. What follows, after she awakes under a pomegranate tree, is a hilarious, mind-bending tale of a modern woman immersed in the ancient throes of sex, love, quite a bit of vino, war, death, and ever so so much more.

 

Avid readers of my blog will know that I have read a number of books in Jennifer Macaire’s The Road to Alexander series now. This month is no exception, as I am reviewing Storms over Babylon at the very beginning of next month. I’ve really enjoyed this historical fiction series thus far. Alexander the Great is a historical figure I’m not all that familiar with (until now at least). I can’t wait to see what happens as Ashley and Alexander hurtle toward Alexander’s apparently unavoidable fate!

So, there you have it! These are my planned reads of the month! The question is, what are you reading? Have you read any of the books above? As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

down the tbr hole

Down the TBR Hole #21

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?

 

I’ve written quite a few of these posts now and they are proving a great way of tidying up my reading list. Okay, the list isn’t exactly GOING DOWN, but it is all books I want to read now. Shall review the next five books on my list?

 

The Siege – Helen Dunmore

Goodreads – The Siege

Called “elegantly, starkly beautiful” by The New York Times Book Review, The Siege is Helen Dunmore’s masterpiece. Her canvas is monumental — the Nazis’ 1941 winter siege on Leningrad that killed six hundred thousand — but her focus is heartrendingly intimate.

One family, the Levins, fights to stay alive in their small apartment, held together by the unlikely courage and resourcefulness of twenty-two-year-old Anna. Though she dreams of an artist’s life, she must instead forage for food in the ever more desperate city and watch her little brother grow cruelly thin. Their father, a blacklisted writer who once advocated a robust life of the mind, withers in spirit and body. At such brutal times everything is tested. And yet Dunmore’s inspiring story shows that even then, the triumph of the human heart is that love need not fall away.

 

I’m a complete sucker for historical fiction and especially for this time period. Typically, I would read about the front line, so to speak. I think it will be refreshing to read about the impact of war on everyday citizens for a change.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Adversary: A True Story of Monstrous Deception – Emmanuel Carrère & Linda Coverdale

Goodreads – The Adversary

On the Saturday morning of January 9, 1993, while Jean Claude Romand was killing his wife and children, I was with mine in a parent-teacher meeting…

With these chilling first words, acclaimed master of psychological suspense Emmanuel Carrère begins his exploration of the double life of a respectable doctor, 18 years of lies, five murders and the extremes to which ordinary people can go.

 

Doesn’t this sound really chilling? That’s precisely what I thought when I read the synopsis on Bookbub. I bought a copy straight away and I’m intrigued to see where this sinister sounding novel takes us.

Verdict: Keep

 

Secondborn – Amy A. Bartol

Goodreads – Secondborn

Firstborns rule society. Secondborns are the property of the government. Thirdborns are not tolerated. Long live the Fates Republic.

On Transition Day, the second child in every family is taken by the government and forced into servitude. Roselle St. Sismode’s eighteenth birthday arrives with harsh realizations: she’s to become a soldier for the Fate of Swords military arm of the Republic during the bloodiest rebellion in history, and her elite firstborn mother is happy to see her go.

Televised since her early childhood, Roselle’s privileged upbringing has earned her the resentment of her secondborn peers. Now her decision to spare an enemy on the battlefield marks her as a traitor to the state.

But Roselle finds an ally—and more—in fellow secondborn conscript Hawthorne Trugrave. As the consequences of her actions ripple throughout the Fates Republic, can Roselle create a destiny of her own? Or will her Fate override everything she fights for—even love?

 

I like reading dystopian novels, and that’s why I added this to the list. Looking at it again now, I’m not so sure about it. It’s not that I think I won’t like it, but there isn’t a burning, overwhelming desire to read it either. I’ve got plenty of books on the list that I would love to read right here, right now. I think this one has to go.

Verdict: Go

 

Sleeping Beauties – Stephen King & Owen King

Goodreads – Sleeping Beauties

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze.

If they are awakened, and the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place.

The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease.

Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?

 

Stephen King is pretty much an auto-approve for me. I have read a variety of his books now and really enjoyed them all. The synopsis would have drawn me to the book whether he had a hand in it or not; the fact he does is only bonus points.

Verdict: Keep

 

11.22.63 – Stephen King

Goodreads – 11.22.63

Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

 

Again, this is an automatic yes! What’s even better is that I came across this gem in a charity shop for only 50p!

Verdict: Keep

So, only one off the list this time, but I don’t mind too much! Do you agree with my choices? Have you read any of these books? As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

Reading List – May 2019

We are just over a third of the way through the year – isn’t that a scary thought?! Yes, it’s time to publish another reading list; I have lots of plans this month. My recent time off has got me kind of excited and slightly ambitious about this TBR. I have lots of books that I want to pick up now and in order to achieve my goal, I’m thinking of experimenting a little more with reading more than one book at once. This worked really well for me recently, so why wouldn’t it in the long term?

I’m also excited to be picking up more books that aren’t part of blog tours. I am only taking part in one tour this month (in stark contrast to the four I did last month). It affords me more freedom to choose books I have wanted to pick up for some time! I fully expect my last book of the list is going to appear on next month’s list too – it’s an epic in its own right.

 

Sword Song – Bernard Cornwell

 

“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.

 

I’ve recently watched Season 3 of the TV adaptation, The Last Kingdom, and it has re-ignited my love for the story! I last picked up the series nearly two years ago now – June 2017. That’s far too long! I had barely started my blog at that point.

 

Son of the Moon – Jennifer Macaire

 

Can you face the consequences of cheating the Fates? Alexander the Great journeys to India, where he and Ashley are welcomed with feasts and treachery. With their son, Paul, being worshiped as the Son of the Moon, and Alexander’s looming death, Ashley considers the unthinkable: how to save them and whether she dares to cheat Fate?

 

This read is my one and only blog tour of the month. I have read the first two books in the series already, The Road to Alexander and Legends of Persia already. I’m really enjoying the series so far; I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say that I know very little of the time period itself. Whilst it’s great to visit favourites (Tudor History, for example), it’s also refreshing to try something new. This is a gamble that really paid off on this occasion!

 

Seventh Decimate – Stephen Donaldson

 

Fire. Wind. Pestilence. Earthquake. Drought. Lightning. These are the six Decimates, wielded by sorcerers for both good and evil.

But a seventh Decimate exists–the most devastating one of all…

For centuries, the realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war, with sorcerers from both sides brandishing the Decimates to rain blood and pain upon their enemy. But somehow, in some way, the Amikans have discovered and invoked a seventh Decimate, one that strips all lesser sorcery of its power. And now the Bellegerins stand defenseless.

Prince Bifalt, eldest son of the Bellegerin King, would like to see the world wiped free of sorcerers. But it is he who is charged with finding the repository of all of their knowledge, to find the book of the seventh Decimate–and reverse the fate of his land.

All hope rests with Bifalt. But the legendary library, which may or may not exist, lies beyond an unforgiving desert and treacherous mountains–and beyond the borders of his own experience. Wracked by hunger and fatigue, sacrificing loyal men along the way, Bifalt will discover that there is a game being played by those far more powerful than he could ever imagine. And that he is nothing but a pawn…

 

I have plans to read a book that Gollancz have sent to me for review next month, called The God Within. That book is the second instalment of a series. You can probably guess where this is leading… There is no way I’ll be able to pick that up knowing that I haven’t read the first book –so here it is! A bit of pre-reading, shall we say…

 

The Drawing of the Three – Stephen King

 

This second volume in the epic series ‘The Dark Tower’ both stands alone and continues the adventures of Roland of Gilead. He has mysteriously stepped through the doorway in time to 1980s America, where he meets Eddie Dean and Odetta Holmes.

 

I have started reading this book already! I finished April’s TBR at the 11th hour (almost precisely) yesterday and decided that I wanted to get stuck in with May’s list. This is my first victim ahem book of choice for the month! It’s been too long since reading the first book really; I need to pick these up sooner!

 

The Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean

 

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

 

Here is another read sent to me by Gollancz for review. I haven’t really read all that much fantasy aimed at a YA audience lately, so I am looking forward to seeing how I like this book. I think the plotline is really interesting – it’s what has enticed me to read it the most!

 

A Feast for Crows – George R. R. Martin

 

Crows will fight over a dead man’s flesh, and kill each other for his eyes.

Bloodthirsty, treacherous and cunning, the Lannisters are in power on the Iron Throne in the name of the boy-king Tommen. The war in the Seven Kingdoms has burned itself out, but in its bitter aftermath new conflicts spark to life.

The Martells of Dorne and the Starks of Winterfell seek vengeance for their dead. Euron Crow’s Eye, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, returns from the smoking ruins of Valyria to claim the Iron Isles. From the icy north, where Others threaten the Wall, apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms to the Citadel.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel and the coldest hearts.

 

There is absolutely no way I am going to get all the above books read in one month, but if I can read the rest and at least make a START on this one, I’ll be happy! Naturally, A Game of Thrones is hot-topic at the moment with the final series already halfway through (and wasn’t that last episode epic?!) Now more than ever I am keen to pick up the books and continue to enjoy the experience.

 

What are you reading?

 

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Quintessential Quotes – Favourite Quotes from The Stormlight Archives #1

It’s been over a year since I last shared one of these posts. I don’t really know why I don’t do them more often – they’re an opportunity to share the best parts of a book or series to others! To date, I have only written these posts covering a series of books. Today’s post, however, is just going to cover one book in particular – The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

 

The Way of Kings

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings, Book One of the Stormlight Archive begins an incredible new saga of epic proportion.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths:

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

 

Brandon Sanderson is fast becoming one of my favourite fantasy writers.

I first picked up his Mistborn trilogy and I loved the concept of magic still having a physical basis (it stems from ingesting different metal compositions) and the subsequent limitations that has. The Stormlight Archives magic has a similar dependency but on the completely different elements of light.

It’s taking all my self-control not to pick up the rest of this series too quickly. This epic fantasy series is anticipated to consist of ten books and as yet, only three have been published. I’m trying to pace myself. I really enjoyed the first book though, so I’ll cave in sometime soon. If anything, writing this post and looking at some of my favourite quotes from the book makes me want to pick up Words of Radiance already!

Of the five quotes I have picked out, these last two have to be my favourite!

 

Have you read The Way of Kings or any other books by Brandon Sanderson? Do you have any recommendations for me?

 

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads