Tag: books

Reading List: March 2018 – aka March of the Arcs!

I cannot believe it is March already!!
Spring is just around the corner, although if the weather is anything to go by you wouldn’t know it!! In an ideal world, it would be the kind of weather to stay at home in and snuggle up with a book – wouldn’t you agree?!
Unfortunately, living in your own Fantasy world doesn’t pay the bills, so I have to dig out every single pair of gloves I own and wear them simultaneously to venture into the frozen wastes to earn my keep *sigh*
We all have to have something to look forward to when the day is done though. I’ve spoken recently about the mini reading slump I have found myself in lately, and I have been trying to come up with some ideas for how to beat it. I have decided a change of routine is probably a good start, so I came up with an idea called March of the Arcs! I have a few (plenty of) arc’s due for review, so not only is this the change of routine I think I need, I hope the boost to my rating on Netgalley should also lift my spirits!! Fingers crossed I’ll also get introduced to some lovely new books too!
 
Copper Sky
Copper Sky
I was kindly asked to review this title by the author, who had seen a couple of my other reviews for OpenBooks… so thanks for asking me! So far I have read the first chapter and  I can’t wait to get stuck in to the rest!
 
StoneKing
StoneKing
Finally I get to read the much anticipated third book of this series!! I have been DEVOURING the previous books in order to catch up and participate in the current blog tour. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you all on the 19th March!
 
Beowulf
Beowulf
I think this was one of my first downloads from Netgalley and I really want to give it a try. Admittedly, it isn’t the sort of book I would read normally – poetry isn’t really my bag, but since it is such an iconic piece of literature I feel I have to have a go! If nothing else, I am sticking to the brief of trying something new and breaking routine!
 
Ekata: Fall of Darkness
Ekata
This is also a Netgalley download that I have sat on for a few months and really need to read. It’s a kind of dystopian fantasy, as I recall… and both of these are genres I enjoy.
 
The Mansions of Murder
Mansions of Murder
This is my most recent Netgalley “Read Now” download, and it’s a historical fiction/murder mystery. I can’t say I have read anything like it before and I hope, if I enjoy it, I’ll be picking up more books in the genre. I am currently toying with the idea of trying Agatha Christie’s works, so this is my way of dipping my toes into the water, so to speak.
 
I hope you don’t mind that this list isn’t particularly detailed – it’s been a busy week for me here. If you have any questions or want to know more, please drop me a comment below!
For now though, have a wonderful Friday and a lovely weekend!!
Rebecca mono

Book Review: Fiskur – Donna Migliaccio

I don’t usually binge read a series, so to read Fiskur immediately after Kinglet isn’t normally the sort of thing I would do. I like to savour a series, *torment* myself a little while about getting around to reading the next book whilst juggling a number of other series’ for which I want to do the EXACT same thing!

*only being slightly sarcastic here – can torment be a good thing?

That being said, consecutive reading does have its benefits. For starters, I can actually remember what happened in the first book as it is still fresh in my mind. I don’t have to dredge through the four corners of my brain to remember who THAT character is and what they are up to.

For anyone who doesn’t know, I have been catching up with the series in preparation for the ongoing Blog Tour. I will be reviewing StoneKing, the third book of the series, in the penultimate slot of the tour on the 19th March.
If you want to check out my review of where the series begins, you can find that here.

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

Fiskur

Goodreads – Fiskur

With his family’s talisman in his possession, Kristan Gemeta is ready to face the Wichelord Daazna – but he has no inkling of the scope of Daazna’s power, nor the depths of his hatred.

With the recovery of his family’s protective talisman, Kristan Gemeta has found hope, courage – and perhaps even the first stirrings of love. With the aid of Heather Demitt, her band of rebels, a shipload of Northern brigands and the legendary Kentavron, he readies himself to face the Wichelord Daazna. But neither he nor his comrades realize the strength of Daazna’s power and hatred. The Wichelord’s first blow comes from a direction Kristan least expects, with horrific, lasting consequences.

 

One of the most poignant observations I made in my review of Kinglet was how stereotypically perfect, handsome and charming our protagonist Kristan Gemeta is. In particular, I commented on how much these characteristics are very stereotypical and how I would have liked to see more individuality from Kristan.

I have not been left wanting.

Without saying too much, Kristan seriously “falls from grace” from being the perfect prince. I would go so far as to say I really didn’t expect the level of change we see in our MC, but I love it! After falling off the pedestal, so to speak, we get to see a far more complex and developed side to his character. His newfound cynicism contrasts his former innocent, comparatively childlike self and whilst the circumstances are tragic (still no spoilers), I think it is a step Kristan needs to take in order to grow into his role as the Gemeta and the opposing force to Daazna.

It is often said that in our darkest moments we realise just what we are capable of, and I cannot help but feel this moment is gradually creeping up on Kristan. His newfound mindset is written remarkably well and Donna clearly has an expert ability to step into her character’s shoes in order to convey them perfectly on paper. From joviality to abjectness, no emotion remains unexpressed.

Fiskur features many of the characters we know and love from Kinglet, and each has their role to play. Heather, Kristan’s low-born love interest has refused to conform with the proprieties of being a woman and she earns herself a reputation as a warrior. Obviously, I am hugely biased – but I am loving the display of “girl power” here. I want to pull myself up here for even calling it that. Courage and a fierceness of character shouldn’t be defined or characterised by gender. The point I am trying to make is that we get to see this in characters of both genders (although Heather truly is the ladies “champion”) and I am glad to see the inclusion.

Heather and the remaining “rebels” find themselves taking on new responsibilities in the fight against the force of Daazna. I personally really like when books have an element of politics in them; for me, it brings a whole new level of sophistication into recognising the motives or potential rivals and countering them cleverly to retain control. I hope to see more of this in the next book as it *could* introduce an additional conflict to an increasingly captivating storyline.

*I hope it does now I’ve said that!!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Fiskur and watching the wider plot of the series unfold. The book seamlessly picked up where we left off yet introduced some unexpected developments to keep us as the reader on our toes. I don’t know about you, but I for one cannot wait to see what StoneKing brings us.
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 25th February 2018

I’m glad to report a comparatively more successful week this week.
It feels like I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately… so I’ve been trying my best to work out a way to get out of it. Admittedly, I am still working on a couple of ideas, but hopefully this motivational lull doesn’t last too long.
I kept things reasonably quiet on the blog this week, with just of couple of posts shared. The first post, and the only one I had planned to publish was my review of Kinglet by Donna Migliaccio. I have been reading the series in the run up to the Blog Tour of StoneKing, which I am really looking forward to!
I also published an additional post last night, which I hadn’t really anticipated to share at all when I first wrote it last month. I had written it as a way to vent some frustration and it has been playing on my mind ever since. I must have been feeling particularly salty last night, because I finally decided to share my opinion (be it wanted or not). If you want to take a look at my heated ramblings and perhaps have a giggle or two, take a look at my Unpopular Advice for Authors post here.
 

Books Read

I started off this week finishing Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio. As I mentioned above, I am making my way through The Gemeta Stone series in readiness for the third instalment, which has just been published!
Next I moved onto The Torcian Chronicles by P. J. Reed, and I am going to be perfectly honest and say that I ended up skim-reading this as I am reviewing it for a Blog Tour next week. I don’t want to say too much prematurely, so if you are interested in what I have to say on this, check out my upcoming review.
Lastly, I have started reading Living on A Rainbow by Calvin Wade. I downloaded this book a few months ago when you could access it for free and I am currently about 30% through at the moment.
 

Books Discovered


 
Before this week I had never heard of Don Quixote. I only came across it when I was watching a fellow bloggers YouTube channel and she was discussing reading it for her university studies!
I then read up a little more about this mammoth of a book and decided I wanted to add it to my list of classics I wanted to collect.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a book I distinctly remember borrowing from the school library years ago. I don’t ever remember ACTUALLY reading it though…
I used to do that a lot.
I’ve decided that I should also pick up this iconic book at least once in my lifetime.
 

Coming Up…

 
Next week is going to be a busier one on the blog!
I am taking part in a cover reveal tomorrow for Breachers by Anthony Thomas, a science fiction novel being published later this year. Also going to state my intentions here and say that it sounds like it’s right up my street. I hope there is a blog tour for it later on this year, as I would love to take part!
I have two reviews to share this week – on Wednesday, I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Fiskur, the second book of The Gemeta Series and on Thursday I am reviewing The Torican Chronicles. I hope you can join me for those!
We are also welcoming in a new month this week, so I will be sharing my reading list with you all on Friday!!
What books are you looking forward to reading?
Rebecca mono

Unpopular Advice for Authors

I have always been an avid reader, and since beginning this blog, I think I am more so than ever!
I have read a variety of new books and genres from authors over a wide spectrum of backgrounds… new, up-and-coming authors and established ones alike. From my newfound experience I want to share some advice with you, my dear author. Inevitably, I think a lot of my advice is not going to be relevant to J.K Rowling’s and Stephen King’s, to name but two examples, as they have the best backing behind their writing. I daresay many experts in the literary industry would bite their own arm off for the chance to work with these legends, but unfortunately, we can’t all have the same support and success… at least not right away!
If you are newly published, or about to publish and ever want the chance to reach the highbrow heights of literary success, I ask politely if you could at least entertain my thoughts on an argument that keeps cropping up in my mind.
Lately I have read a number of books that have entered the market either through self publishing or small, independent publishers. Now I am aware that this is a huge market and that is why I wanted to share this post, because I hope it makes you re-think your options if you are about to do what I consider to be the greatest sin in publishing…
 

Self-editing

 
Maybe you have a degree in English Language or Literature. That’s great.. Congratulations! You have set yourself up as best you can to write a book. The bad news is, you still shouldn’t rely solely on editing your own work. Yes, it costs money to pay someone to look at it for you, but if you really are serious about getting your book out there, it should be worth every penny. Consider it an investment – it will pay you dividends (or royalties) in time.
“But there are many authors out there that self-publish?” I hear you say.
Yes, there are, and there are many that do well from it. I don’t dispute that, but I really think you will be putting your best foot forward by getting a professional to edit your work.
As an author, you can never be fully qualified to edit your own book simply because you are not (and never will be) impartial. You can put the book away for a couple of years and distance yourself from it, sure, but you will always read what you are TRYING to say as opposed to what is ACTUALLY on the page. A book is best reviewed by somebody that has no connection to it whatsoever.
I offer this advice for one reason only – if a book hasn’t been edited properly, 99% of the time, a reader can tell. I can tell. Be it a loophole or inconsistency, I have come across so many spelling mistakes, repeated phrases and even continuity issues. If the text doesn’t flow, it breaks the reader’s concentration and that could make them put the book down – for good!
To give an example, in a recent reading experience, a character’s actions in relation to time were unrealistic. School bells were ringing left, right and centre (when the text clearly says they are fifty minutes apart), but the character’s actions barely filled five minutes between each bell. I understand you want to move the text on to where the action happens, but there would have been so many ways to achieve this without trying to brush off the whole thing hurriedly. I DNF’d that book for that reason. I’m sure the last thing an author wants is for a reader to put their book down prematurely and never pick it up again.
A second and more recent example is of a main character who’s age and states of dress changed within a matter of paragraphs. To explain, he was drinking such a cheap wine that it burns holes in his clothes if he spills it, but this doesn’t always happen in the narrative even though you know it should. Later on, there was an occasion on which he was supposed to be undressed, but then he suddenly had a robe on out of nowhere – it’s the little errors like these that can add up and put someone off continuing.
Lastly, the thing that takes the cake with this book for me was the following description:-

…taller birch trees that loomed over the living forest with disdainful indifference.

Please, just think about it.
I don’t want anyone to take any of the above points to heart… this is not an exercise in slander. I understand your work is precious to you. I make these points for constructive purposes only.
If your work is that important, would you not take that extra step to make it the best it can be? If you want to be taken seriously as an author, I really think you should.
Rebecca mono
 

Book Review: Kinglet by Donna Migliaccio

I first discovered this series when I took part in a Blog Tour back in November for Fiskur, organised by Fiery Seas Publishing. This is the second book in the series and I was gutted that I hadn’t discovered it earlier. If I’d had the time to catch up with the first book and read second for the Blog Tour, I would have done!

Alas, I didn’t. Sometimes, it isn’t meant to be.

My stroke of luck finally came in January, when I contacted Fiery Seas Publishing to express interest in beginning the series. My review request schedule had freed up considerably, so it was the perfect time to enquire. Catherine, an absolute hard-working gem, very kindly sent me both Kinglet and Fiskur to read and review in time for the publishing of the THIRD book of the series (which celebrated it’s publishing date yesterday!)

To have even one book published is a huge accomplishment, so to see the third book of a series published must be absolutely amazing!! Congratulations Donna!!

Go, get you GIF.gif

I have the privilege of reading StoneKing as part of the current blog tour. I’ll be using the penultimate slot of the tour, on the 19th March, to share a review with you… I hope you can join me for that!

Today though, I’m talking about where it all begins:-

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

kinglet

Goodreads – Kinglet

Kristan Gemeta has lost everything: his crown, his kingdom, his courage – even his name.

In the vast wilderness of the Exilwald, he’s known to the other outcasts as Kinglet. As long as Kristan stays hidden, he can elude the bounty hunters, brutal soldiers and terrifying spells of Daazna, the Wichelord who killed his father and destroyed his life.

But when a new band of pursuers comes looking for him, Kristan’s wariness gives way to intrigue. For bounty hunters they’re oddly inept, and a young woman in their company is leaving enigmatic drawings wherever they go. As they plunge deeper into the Exilwald, Kristan follows. He discovers the drawings symbolize the Gemeta Stone, an ancient family talisman seized by Daazna but now in the little band’s possession.

With the Stone’s protection, Kristan might stand a chance against Daazna. He could regain his birthright and his honor. But to obtain the Stone, he must reveal his true identity and risk the one thing he has left…his life.

If asked what my favourite genre is, I would tell you that Fantasy is by far the most entertaining read for me. I have been busy enjoying some different genres for a while, so to come back to a favourite, written so well as this… what can I say? I fell in love straight away!

That being said, I’m not a huge fan of all the tropes in Fantasy. If I’m honest, I think the orphaned child is one that is used time again – I’d go so far as to say a little overused for my taste, but some people like that. There are some other stereotypical elements to Kristan’s character – he is kind, noble and forgiving…. way too forgiving! Oh, he’s handsome too. Did I forget to mention that?! Again, these are typical traits that are very common among our Fantasy leads.

The only author I can think that has completely flipped these traits on their head with their protagonist is Mark Lawrence, in his The Broken Empire series. The protagonist’s character is extremely well developed; his most defining features are his flaws… and believe me, there are many! I found his unique character a refreshing change; there were times I loved to hate him, and then others I couldn’t help but pity him. He stands out from the crowd of fantasy protagonists by stepping away from the norm, which I really appreciated.

As much as Kristan’s character encapsulates a lot of the favourable and stereotypical traits one might expect and we commonly see, that isn’t to say I didn’t like him. I felt an affinity to him from the start, even from his brief spell at the beginning as a youth, always under pressure to adhere to high expectations and trying to understand the world and its workings from an early age. Not to put this across as a negative point (I’m more in favour of calling it a constructive one), I would have liked to see a little more originality to Kristan’s personality.

I really enjoyed the magical element being introduced straight away. We are thrown into the action first and gradually our understanding of the motive is built upon later. With world building in Fantasy, it is very easy to try and ‘info dump’ a lot of background before anything even happens. This is far from the case, and rightly so, because that can ruin a book for me. Bogging a reader down in details is a turn off, but gradually integrating ideas, clues and other information is the best way to move narrative in the right direction. Donna achieves this effortlessly.

Two years after the Gemeta’s flight from his home, his father’s death and the powerful mage responsible for it, a group of rebels leave Fandrall equipped with the magical stone that has been in the Gemeta’s possession for generations. They travel into the unknown Exilwald, his rumoured hiding place and home to a number of unsavoury characters.

The dynamic of our adventurers attempting to find the exiled King changes frequently. Family ties and friendships are tested, as would be expected from a group forced out of their homes with merely the clothes on their back.

hilst not the most companionable character of the group, I actually came to like Colin an awful lot. As head of the group, his predominantly negative attitude stems from his feeling of responsibility to protect.  In a lot of ways he comes across as an antagonist, but truthfully he is a man very much grounded in reality. He’s grumpy, miserable and completely pessimistic about the slim chances of completing the task at hand – a bit like me before my first coffee of the day really…

There are many things I could talk about that I really enjoyed, but to summarise, I’ll say this – it has a fantastic plot and an approachable narrative with a wonderful twist of many elements that make up a classic fantasy.

Rather than reading my positive ramblings, you could be reading this for yourself! Thank you to Donna and Fiery Seas Publishing for the chance to pick up this wonderful start to a new series! I cannot wait to read the next one!

Oh wait, I don’t have to!
Rebecca mono


Amazon  ~  Barnes & NobleKobo  ~  iBooks

About the Author:

Donna Migliaccio is a professional stage actress with credits that include Broadway, National Tours and prominent regional theatres.  She is based in the Washington, DC Metro area, where she co-founded Tony award-winning Signature Theatre and is in demand as an entertainer, teacher and public speaker.  Her award-winning short story, “Yaa& The Coffins,” was featured in Thinkerbeat’s 2015 anthology The Art of Losing.  

Social Media:                    Website        Facebook        Twitter        Pinterest

Book Review: The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

I can only apologise if you were expecting a review out of me yesterday.
I had every intention of writing this on Monday night – I was home early and had plenty of time on my hands… but WordPress had no plans to do ANYTHING for me. Reluctantly, I signed off.
I knew I wasn’t going to get anything written on Tuesday, and that is why in my Sunday Summary I commented that I may be late posting this. Why? It was my birthday! I had plans to be out for the evening – and I enjoyed every minute of it!
 
The Miniaturist
Goodreads – The Miniaturist

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam–a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion–a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.
“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .”
On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.
But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .
Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

I feel like I have spoken about this book a lot – and to my mind it deserves all the attention it gets.
I added this book to the TBR last year – but after watching the recent TV adaptation between Christmas and New Year… I knew I had to read this sooner rather than later. I love books and TV shows set in historic time periods, along with the social issues and differences to modern day life that come along with that.
Nella marries a rich merchant and travels to Amsterdam to start her new life in a position of power. The atmosphere of Amsterdam is extremely oppressive in comparison to today’s standards, with the oppression coming from the church and religion itself. Power is a double sided coin though – and there are many that would like to see her new husband Johannes Brandt fall from grace.
The dynamic of the city and the relationship Nella has with Johannes’ sister, Marin, go hand in hand with each other. Marin is distant and untrusting of Nella, but as the narrative, the lies and deceit gradually unfold, these two women have to join forces to withstand the storm. Marin would have many believe she paupers herself in humility to God, but she is far from virtuous in reality, which Nella soon discovers.
But within this city built on lies and corruption, resides the Miniaturist, who has a startling ability to see the details many would love to keep hidden…
Nella, and the perspective of the story from this naïve, young woman is written in an extraordinary way. Throughout we see how Nella develops from the innocent young girl, who thinks longingly of marriage and children, to a woman who is able to deal with hardship and finally take her role and accompanying responsibilities as Johannes Brandt’s wife. Whilst she always retains a glimmer of hope, something I attribute to her youth, her understanding of her new world and the corruption rife within it blossoms.
The characters and relationships are complex yet consistent, built within the web of society laced with prejudice and discrimination, a lack of gender rights and racial inequality. All of these issues are touched on beautifully, in such a way as to make you sympathise with each character and the difficulties they face in this oppressive life they lead.
I completely loved this book, and I cannot recommend this highly enough to anyone! Even if you cannot bear to read the book – watch the TV adaptation, please.
You won’t regret it.
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary: 11th February 2018

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend!!
I’m finally glad to be sharing the good news I withheld from you last week. At that time, I had only just been contacted about it and wanted to be sure everything goes ahead before I announced it.
So, I have been taking requests from authors to review their books for a little while now, and during my time doing so I have reviewed a couple of books published via OpenBooks – Remember For Me – Diana Tarant Schmidt and more recently, A Mentor and Her Muse – Susan Sage.
Following on from the work I have done with these authors, OpenBooks asked if I would like to become a contributor on their site and if they could share my reviews! Naturally I accepted and on Friday, my review of A Mentor and Her Muse was re-published on their site. The review I wrote for Remember For Me is also to be re-published shortly!
So… that’s my news!! Exciting stuff for me, at least!!
On slightly more mundane matters, this week I shared my review of Former.ly – Dane Cobain, finally appeasing the Netgalley Gods and raising my score considerably – aha! I also reviewed ReWired by S R Johannes on their site and Goodreads, so that should keep them quiet whilst I download the next one…
Oops…
 

Books Read


 
This week I made a lot of progress with Kinglet this week, and I actually finished it midweek. From there, I started reading the next book in the series, Fiskur. So far I have  only really started this one, but I am going to finish it within the next week.
I don’t normally “binge-read” a series like this, however the third book is to be published imminently (20 Feb) and I have had the opportunity to get onto the blog tour to review it! Therefore, I’ve had to read both of these pretty snappy, but it has by no means been a chore. I loved the first book. It’s been a while since I’ve read this type of fantasy and I am looking forward to finishing the next one.
On the audiobook front, I have also been listening to The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins. This isn’t a book I would have picked up and read in the typical way I don’t think, but I am enjoying the audiobook. The narrative is very well read and the plot just keeps getting more dense!!!!
 
The Girl on The Train.jpg

Books Discovered


 
I added a few books to the TBR this week. Shock horror… right?!
A couple of them are iconic books that I really need to read. The Great Gatsby is something I have considered before, but I didn’t add it to the list at the time. The Diary of Anne Frank is a book I came across at school, when we studied History (obviously), but having read a little more about her story on a whim, I decided I wanted to read her diary.
I acquired a copy of The Irrationalist on request from OpenBooks, after being made a contributor on their review website! I can’t wait to read this one!
I discovered A Land of Shades via Bookbub; it is about a priest’s struggle with his faith during the First World War.
I also received some bookmail on Friday, which I have been waiting for! I won my first ever giveaway a couple of weeks ago, and here is the book I won!!
 
Tricks of the Trade
 
Lastly, having eased the oppression of a dud Netgalley score and seeing it above fiifty per cent, I decided to have a mooch around, like you do, and I ended up downloading another book. Please don’t judge me – I have no will power…
 
Mansions of Murder
 

Coming Up…

This week, I am looking forward to sharing my review of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton with you. This was my last book on the list from January, so I am reasonably up to date with reviews!
As usual, I am going to try to get this posted for Wednesday, however I have a couple of busy days coming up, so it may be Thursday by the time I get it finished!
We’ll see. Until then, see you around!
Rebecca mono

Book Review: Former.ly – Dane Cobain

Hi everyone!!

Today, I am getting around to a task that I have should have done months and months and months ago.

I can see why Netgalley becomes addictive and you end up getting behind on reviews. I have only downloaded a few books, but the problem is that there are so many great books out there… prioritising your reading and putting these to the bottom of the list can give you a bad rating…

Not that I know anything about that….. *whistles tunelessly*

SO! In case you hadn’t gathered – I received a copy of this book, for free, from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated are my own.

Former.ly
Published 11 June 2016 by
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Goodreads – Former.ly

When Dan Roberts starts his new job at Former.ly, he has no idea what he’s getting into. The site deals in death – its users share their innermost thoughts, which are stored privately until they die. Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences.

But something strange is going on, and the site’s two erratic founders share a dark secret. A secret that people are willing to kill for.

I think there is a part of that blurb that is misleading – “Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences”. Having read the book – I have absolutely no idea what this is supposed to refer to. Can someone please enlighten me? I can’t recall anything “shocking” published on the site.

Former.ly is a social network designed for users to prepare memorials for after they are gone. Beginning in a small, grubby house and gradually growing into a state-of-the-art office with full security complement, the Company seems to be going from strength to strength, but what is driving this Company forward?

The narrative within the book itself is well presented and there is enough mystery throughout to keep the reader gripped. When Dan starts at the Company, he knows very little about the work he is contributing to; he knows he is working out bugs in code, but not what it does. Other members of staff come and go and as Dan becomes more experienced, he is able to dig deeper using the trust he has gained. The pace at which the story unfolds is good, which helps the story to flow.

If I am completely honest, I didn’t really understand Dan’s motivation to stay with the Company at all. Not only is he working such crazy hours that it affects his relationship, but his employers are also really shifty and mistrusting all the time! I know if that was me, I wouldn’t sit well with it. There are other characters that feel the same way I do, but I struggled to sympathise with Dan for one simple reason – he had plenty of warning signs to get out of that situation sooner. Sure, maybe he did want to get to the bottom of what was going on, but I just couldn’t put myself in his shoes. That’s an entirely personal thing – not a fault of the character himself.

Overall, I rated the book three stars, as whilst the writing and the plot was good, I struggled to relate to the characters telling the story. I also didn’t feel that much depth with characters other than the MC either, which I would have expected since Dan et al spend almost all of the time in the office (yes, anti-social hours and weekends too)!
It was an acceptable read, even if there were parts that weren’t entirely to my liking.
Rebecca mono

Reading List: February 2018

February is my favourite month of the year.
Yes, it’s usually cold and wet; dark and drizzly…. but the days begin to stretch out a little longer. The drive home after work will not be punctuated by street lamps for much longer. Before long, we will be able to bask in the evening sunshine on the beach!!
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Source: Giphy
Okay, I am being a little too optimistic here, but you see my point. The New Year (and warmer climes) are on the way. Maybe not here, but somewhere…?
Maybe I should get back to the REAL reason why February is my favourite month – because it’s my birthday soon! I’m still of an age in which I look forward to birthdays, instead of trying to forget about them. I don’t have any special plans, but there’s always the chance of one or two bookish gifts, so I’m in!!
As February is my favourite month, I have decided that the majority of my books to read are from my favourite genre – Fantasy! Shall we take a look at the books I’m reading this month? Just call me your fairy Godmother and say no more – because your wish is my command!
 

Kinglet – Donna Migliaccio

kinglet
I first became aware of this series when I took part in a Blog Tour for the second book, Fiskur. I posted an excerpt and enjoyed reading it myself, but due to other commitments I didn’t have the time to pursue picking the first book up. Now I am pleased to say I do have the time, and Fiery Seas Publishing sent me an ebook copy when I made the request.
 

Fiskur – Donna Migliaccio

Fiskur
At the time of making the request for Kinglet, I was also sent Fiskur too! I also happen to know that the third book of the series is being published soon, so I wanted to read both of these books ready. I hope to be signed up to the blog tour for StoneKing!
 

The Torcian Chronicles – P. J. Reed

The Torcian Chronicles
I’m checking out The Torcian Chronicles this month as I am taking part in a Blog Tour for this book beginning the 1st March. I’ll admit this is the first I have heard of the author, despite having a number of works, including poetry and short stories. I have high hopes for the book and I can’t wait to let you know my thoughts!
 

Living On A Rainbow – Calvin Wade

Living on a Rainbow
This is my non-fantasy read of the month, and it addresses a more important topic – mental illness. I was blown away by the sample I read, and I expect I’ll have this book gobbled up in a matter of a few days once I pick it up!
 

A Darker Shade of Magic – V E Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic
So… I have FINALLY decided to jump on the bandwagon and see what all the fuss is about. I see retweets of Victoria’s posts on Twitter all the time as she is so popular amongst bloggers! There seems to be such a buzz about her books, so now I just have to find out what they are all about!
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So, that is my reading list for this month!!
Have any of you read any of these books? If so, what did you make of them? Would you recommend them to a friend?
As always, I love to hear from you!
Rebecca mono

Book Review: A Mentor and Her Muse – Susan Sage

Today, I am pleased to be bringing you my review of A Mentor and Her Muse, by Susan Sage. I’ll just go ahead and get the unequivocally boring bit done and then we can get on to the fun part of this review:-

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

There – that wasn’t too painful… It’s just good to get those horribly necessary bits out-of-the-way. And now, for the review!

A Mentor and Her Muse
Goodreads – A Mentor and Her Muse

Under the guise of mentor and muse, a frustrated writer and her ambitious teenage protégé take an illicit summer road trip fraught with racial and sexual tension. This is a compelling psychological novel about social norms, artistic ambition, and obsession.

Maggie Barnett works in the media center of a school in Flint, Michigan where she meets Taezha Riverton, an aspiring teenage writer. After discovering that Maggie is also a writer, Taezha turns to her as both mentor and friend.

Alone and childless, it’s not enough for Maggie to take Tae to upscale restaurants and poetry readings; she has a more far-reaching vision. Although Tae’s mother has nothing against Maggie, she is less than thrilled when Maggie proposes to take her daughter on a summer road trip. Permission is never explicitly granted, but shortly after school is out for the summer, Maggie and Tae head for the Southeast.

Tae’s mother insists that Maggie return Tae to Flint, but Maggie instead takes Tae to a remote cabin outside Asheville, North Carolina. Growing evermore emotionally unsound, Maggie clings to the belief that living close to nature is the perfect therapy for her doubts and insecurities. Yet her role as mentor has now been supplanted to that of a drill sergeant, causing Tae to have serious misgivings…

The book’s narrative is exciting, enjoyable and well written, with each chapter, perspective and character voice distinctive from the others. I also appreciate the integration of the racial inequalities and prejudice present within society.

For me, the most enjoyable part of the book was the dynamic between Maggie and Tae; it is at times close, but in equal measure it can be electric and unpredictable. I found both of these characters to be incredibly relatable, even though they are both drastically different from one another. To master the depth of understanding required to properly articulate both of these characters, as Susan does, is an achievement worthy of recognition.

The differences between Maggie and Tae are set out early on. Maggie, now a fifty-something year old author, was brought up in wealthy and stable household – both of her parents were lawyers. Tae, our teenage protagonist, does not have this level of security at all – in fact, her mother Quintana struggles to pay the rent from month to month and raises a number of children, each demanding different levels of attention. The household is a chaotic comparison to Maggie’s upbringing; Tae, for the most part, shuts herself away in her room. It is from this unstable life that Maggie sweeps Tae away – and they go on a summer road trip! A writer’s retreat, as Maggie calls it.

Maggie assumes the role of mentor on the trip and through various “intimate” moments with Maggie’s thoughts (via her journal), we see the unstable side to her personality. Maggie is more dependent on Tae than perhaps she would like to admit, but her confessions about their relationship and her childhood explain why she wants to give Tae the opportunities she never had. Despite the best of intentions, Maggie is far from the perfect role model. There are concerns raised about the nature of her relationship with Tae, and in general for her welfare. When she discovers they are being followed… this tips her over the edge.

Their relationship is rocky, to say the least, as it transforms from a student/teacher semi-formal dynamic to a much closer one. At times they are on the same page, but gradually we see Tae beginning to write her own life story, and perhaps it was not the one Maggie had intended for her. The journey both Maggie and Tae take together can be interpreted as more important than the destination. The bond that forms between them is unique and the experience is a learning curve. As the trip comes to an end, it is evident that both Maggie and Tae have learned and matured from the experience of being around the other.

As a reader, you are absorbed into the story right away, experiencing the highs and lows of the trip as if you are tagging along with them! Again, I cannot highly commend Susan enough for her ability to step wholly into the shoes of Maggie or Tae, she keeps their identities definitively separate yet coherently pieces together the road trip from each perspective, with common themes.

Thanks again for the privilege of reading A Mentor and Her Muse – it is an enjoyable and captivating read!
Rebecca mono