Tag: bookworm

down the tbr hole

Down the TBR Hole #20

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?

So, without further adieu, let’s review the next five books on my list!

 

Kill the Father – Sandrone Dazieri

Goodreads – Kill the Father

‘The rock cast a sharp, dark shadow over a shape huddled on the ground. Please don’t let it be the boy, Colomba thought. Her silent prayer didn’t go unanswered. The corpse belonged to the mother.’

THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN STOP HIM IS THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY…

Dante Torre spent eleven young years in captivity – held by a man known only as The Father – before outwitting his abductor. Now working for the police force, Torre’s methods are unorthodox but his brilliance is clear. When a young child goes missing in similar circumstances in Rome, Torre must confront the demons of his past to attempt to solve the case.

Paired with Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli, a fierce, warrior-like detective still reeling from having survived a bloody catastrophe, all evidence suggests The Father is active after being dormant for decades, and that he’s looking forward to a reunion with Dante…

 

When I discovered this book I knew it was something I would love to read. Doesn’t the synopsis just sound so eerily intriguing? I’ve got a paperback copy of this sat on my bookshelf in the hallway ready to read. As a rule, I only tend to get myself physical copies of books if I know I’ll enjoy them. To me, they’re just a little more prestigious than e-books. I’m choosier about the physical books I buy I suppose. They’re more expensive and going to be out on display. I have to be sure I’ll enjoy them!

Verdict: Keep

 

Executed – R. R. Haywood

Goodreads – Executed

The team of heroes extracted from their timelines to stop the impending apocalypse didn’t think they needed a leader.

But they’ve got one anyway.

With their mission in tatters, Miri has been called in to steady the ship. And to focus them on their assignment: preventing the end of the world.

The problem is, the world doesn’t know it’s in danger. With governments pursuing them relentlessly, attempting to steal the time-travel device to use for their own ends, the heroes are on the run—fighting for survival in a world they’re supposed to save.

Meanwhile, Miri has motives of her own. And when the existence of a second device is discovered, the team’s mission and their lives are in mortal danger…

 

I’ve read the first book of this series but to be honest, after talking to some people, I have doubts about whether to continue reading it. I liked the first book in an “it’s okay, readable”, but not exceptional way. From what others have said, I don’t think it gets any better. There’s some kind of romance element that comes in later too. I don’t like that all that much in books; I can deal with it if the rest of the book is so good that it makes up for it, but I think I’ll regret keeping going with these.

Verdict: Go

 

Dancer’s Lament – Ian Esslemont

Goodreads – Dancer’s Lament

Taking Malazan fans back to that troubled continent’s turbulent early history. The opening chapter in Ian C. Esslemont’s epic new fantasy sequence, the Path to Ascendancy trilogy.

For ages warfare has crippled the continent as minor city states, baronies, and principalities fought in an endless round of hostilities. Only the alliance of the rival Tali and Quon cities could field the resources to mount a hegemony from coast to coast — and thus become known as Quon Tali.

It is a generation since the collapse of this dynasty and regional powers are once more rousing themselves. Into this arena of renewed border wars come two youths to the powerful central city state that is Li Heng. One is named Dorin, and he comes determined to prove himself the most skilled assassin of his age; he is chasing the other youth — a Dal Hon mage who has proven himself annoyingly difficult to kill.

Li Heng has been guided and warded for centuries by the powerful sorceress known as the “Protectress”, and she allows no rivals. She and her cabal of five mage servants were enough to repel the Quon Tali Iron Legions — what could two youths hope to accomplish under their stifling rule?

Yet under the new and ambitious King Chulalorn the Third, Itko Kan is on the march from the south. He sends his own assassin servants, the Nightblades, against the city, and there are hints that he also commands inhuman forces out of legend.

While above all, shadows swirl oddly about Li Heng, and monstrous slathering beasts seem to appear from nowhere to run howling through the street. It is a time of chaos and upheaval, and in chaos, as the young Dal Hon mage would say, there is opportunity.

 

I really like the sound of this fantasy novel. It seems to have some cliché character roles, but for the sake of a good story and world-building, I can live with that.

Verdict: Keep

 

Eagles in the Storm – Ben Kane

Goodreads – Eagles in the Storm

Arminius has been defeated, one of the three eagles has been recovered, and thousands of German tribesmen slain. Yet these successes aren’t nearly enough for senior centurion Lucius Tullus. Not until Arminius is dead, his old legion’s eagle liberated and the enemy tribes completely vanquished will he rest. But Arminius is still at large, devious, fearless and burning for revenge of his own. Charismatic as ever, he raises another large tribal army, which will harry the Romans the length and breadth of the land. Into this cauldron of bloodshed, danger and treachery, Tullus must go – alone. His mission – to find and bring back his legion’s eagle – will place him in more danger than he has ever faced before. Can he succeed? Can he even survive?

 

When I bought this, I didn’t realise it was the third book in the Eagles of Rome series. It’s definitely a keeper, but I am going to have to get myself the first two books and read them before I even think about picking this up. Just knowing they are in the wrong order is enough. I can’t do it. Maybe I’m a little OCD.

Verdict: Keep

 

Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

Goodreads – Murder on the Orient Express

What more can a mystery addict desire than a much-loathed murder victim found aboard the luxurious Orient Express with multiple stab wounds, thirteen likely suspects, an incomparably brilliant detective in Hercule Poirot, and the most ingenious crime ever conceived?

 

Maybe it seems a little unfair to have my doubts about such a classic, but now I do. I managed to watch the recent film starring Kenneth Branagh and Johnny Depp – in fact, I think that’s why I added this to my TBR! I have reservations about the book though if I’m honest. It’s a tale so well known that I think it won’t meet expectations, so to speak. I’ll want to like it so much that I’ll be twice as disappointed if I don’t. I’ve also been reading a lot of crime/mystery lately. Maybe I’m growing a little bored of the genre.

Verdict: Go

So, that’s 2/5 off the list! What do you think? Do you agree with me?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Struggles of being a book blogger

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme, originally created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Don’t get me wrong – I love being a book blogger. Having the opportunity to talk about books I love is an absolute privilege. My blog has always been about me (sorry that probably sounds really selfish, but it’s true!) Likes, comments and follows are an amazing perk, but my goal with my blog has always been about channelling my passion for reading and writing.

Nearly two years on, I still have a lot to learn about blogging. I’m still not very good at some things; I can be honest with myself about that. Whether you are new to blogging or a veteran, there’s a lot of juggling to do. Taking on such a hobby is a steep learning curve, but it’s achievable if you have the will and the motivation to make it. There are difficult days though. It’s not always going to be plain sailing. Here are my top ten struggles as a book blogger:-

 

Time

The largest commodity you have (and lose) when it comes to book blogging is time. A review post, when you take into consideration the time taken to read the book in question, can take several hours to produce. On average, for a 300-page book, I probably spend around four hours reading it and at least an hour and a half on my blog post itself. That’s quite a lot, right?

But of course, there is more to life than blogging. We need to eat, sleep, go to work (boo!) or meet friends from time to time etc. All these things snatch an awful lot of time off your hands. You’d be surprised how quickly it disappears!

 

Motivation

Sometimes, things are great! You can devour a book in two hours and get a review chucked together pretty damn quickly. It doesn’t always work that way though. If you’ve been slogging away and making slow progress for a little while, you feel the need for a break. There’s nothing wrong with that. My main hobby outside of the blog at the moment is playing Minecraft (such a nerd, I know). If I need a break from books, I’ll either try to build some new structures in my survival world; go explore some caves and/or strip mine or try (and usually fail) to build a redstone contraption. For those that don’t know, redstone is Minecraft’s equivalent of electricity. I’m not very good with it right now.

 

Being active on Social Media

For some people, this comes as naturally as breathing. On the other hand, I am terrible at it. I’m not religious with posting on my blog accounts (when I probably should be) and I pretty much never post on personal ones. It’s just not natural to me. Some people like to photograph every meal and post it online before they touch it (if there’s no proof it didn’t happen, one may argue). Not me though – I’d rather just eat it…

 

 

Reading Other Blogs

As a blogger, you would like to think I would read other people’s blogs. We’re all part of the same community; it’s only natural, right? Yes, you’re right, and again this is something I am prepared to admit I am terrible at.

I have to make a conscious effort to remember to read other blogs. I’m not in the habit. I even tried to incorporate a section in my Sunday Summary post to appreciate the best posts I’d read that week as an incentive. It’s not worked as well as I’d have liked, but I’m working on it. Promise!!

 

SEO / Marketing

Like, I get the concept, but this whole business is just a whole lot of complicated. I’m never going to be an expert at it so I’m not going to try. If Yoast’s little icon goes green, then I’m happy.

 

 

Over-commitment

It is far too easy to agree to every blog tour, review request and ARC that comes your way. That’s the quickest way to land yourself in a shit-storm. I’ll be frank. I’ve almost done it. When you sign up for too much or have too many imminent deadlines, the danger is you’ll shut down and maybe even turn away from blogging completely. The best thing to do is try not to take on too much. Learn what you are capable of managing and learn to say no. It’s hard, but you’ll thank yourself later. Trust me.

 

Writing posts last minute

This is kind of a drawback as last minute PC updates and blog downtime can put a spanner in the works. You might not even be in the right headspace to write that review that’s due to be published tomorrow. I’ve been here too. Whilst it’s a drawback in a way, I also couldn’t plan these things too much in advance. Firstly, I don’t have the time to write material to give myself a buffer, not even for a week. Secondly, I wouldn’t feel the payoff like I do now. By the time a post goes live, it won’t be fresh in my mind; I’ll have lost my connection to it or even forgotten it entirely.

 

Anti-socialism

This one sounds a little paradoxical – how can someone who publishes their thoughts and feelings openly online and interact with others about that be anti-social? By this, I’m talking about my people circle here at home. My friends and I aren’t the greatest at making plans anyway, but there are times when I don’t even want to go out and socialise – especially if I know I have a busy stint coming up blog-wise. Sorry guys…

 

 

Graphic design/ imagery

I admire people that can put so much time and effort into graphic design. I enjoy doing it, but being my usual last minute self, I don’t have time to produce new graphics for every blog post. I recycle where possible (a lot) and I should probably pull my finger out and try to mix things up a bit more.

 

 

 

Posting reviews to other sites

I know posting reviews to sites like Amazon and Goodreads are so helpful to authors, but I’m not the quickest in getting around to doing it. I tend to do it in batches where possible, but only semi-regularly. I’m just as bad at updating my review index too if that’s any consolation? No, I didn’t think that was going to work, but God loves a trier.

 

 

BLOGGERS – How long have you been blogging and what are your top struggles? Drop me a comment below and we’ll see if we have anything in common!

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Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 14th April 2019

Hi friends! Back again with another post today! Two posts in one day? Am I feeling alright? Yes, yes I am. It’s been a busy weekend and I’m looking forward to summarising the week’s shenanigans for you.

So, just what have I been up to? This week has been dominated by blog tour posts. I have signed up to four tours this month and these two came along in quick succession! I have a week’s respite before the next two come in thick and fast. On Thursday I published my review of Arbitrage by Collette Kebell – a financial crime novel that managed to teach me something about my own job industry. Fancy that! Then, earlier today, I posted my review of Legends of Persia by Jennifer Macaire. I started her series back in January with The Road to Alexander and I am already looking forward to the next two books I’m scheduled to review.

 

Books Read

I feel like I’ve made some respectable progress on the reading front this week too. In addition to the usual reading, I have made a little progress on my copy of Copyediting and Proofreading for dummies and worked my way through some course material I have signed up to. I can’t remember if I have mentioned it before or not, but I guess now its official. I’m learning the tricks of the trade as a proofreader and copyeditor! I’m only looking at the proofreading side of things at the moment, but I’m really enjoying it!

Along those lines, one of the first books I started making progress on was Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares by Shaun Hume. This is a light proofread project, (in addition to reading for review).

My primary focus of the week was Legends of Persia, for what I hope are obvious reasons. I started reading the book last week ahead of the tour, but I read the majority of it this week. Okay, yesterday. I wasn’t procrastinating, I promise. Do you know what I mean if I say I knew I had it so under control that I wasn’t worried about leaving it a little late? Well, it worked out fine anyway.

In addition to Legends of Persia, I have also made a start on the next ARC on my list – Trust Me by K. J. McGillick. I’m already just shy of 40% through the book, so I have a good head start ready for my review post at the end of next week. We also have a long weekend, which I am TOTALLY looking forward to!

Now for audiobooks! Around midweek I finished listening to Scythe by Neal Shusterman. It is completely different from anything I have read or listened to before. My next audible credit arrives sometime this week (I think?), so I’ll be using it to buy Thunderhead. I might not listen to it straight away, but it’s firmly on my list!

 

Books Discovered

I’ve been keeping my head in the sand this week, so nothing to report here!

 

Coming Up…

So, what can you expect on the blog this week then? On account of the bank holiday weekend giving me some extra time, I have time scheduled for four blog posts. Again, two of those have to be on Sunday, which has partly influenced my decision.

As we have had a couple of reviews already this week, I want to start next week on a lighter note. I’ve decided to share another Top Ten Tuesday post, as it’s been a while since I last did one of those. They’re really fun! On Friday, I want to take another look at the TBR and have a clear out of the books that I no longer want to read.

Early on Sunday, I’ll be posting my blog tour review of Trust Me, my current read. I’ll be following up at the end of the day with my usual summary!

What are you reading this week? Have any nice plans for the Easter weekend?

 

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Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Legends of Persia – Jennifer Macaire

Whether you are new to my blog or a frequent visitor, hello and welcome! I trust you are having a lovely weekend? In today’s post, I get to share my thoughts with you about Legends of Persia by Jennifer Macaire, book two in the Time For Alexander series.

In addition to my review, there is also the chance to win a $10 Amazon gift certificate; you’ll find the details for that below.

Legends of Persia

When Ashley Riveraine jumped at the chance to travel back in time to meet her hero Alexander the Great, she never thought she would end up staying there…

Following Alexander the Great’s army on its journey across Persia, Ashley is walking the knife edge of history. As a presumed goddess, Ashley is expected to bless crops, make sure battles are won and somehow keep herself out of the history books.

Can Ashley avoid the wrath of the Time Institute while keeping the man she loves alive?

Goodreads – Legends of Persia

Purchase link – Legends of Persia

 

My Thoughts…

Picking up this second book of the series is like getting into your “old faithful” pair of jeans. They’re familiar, comfortable and you know they fit. Having read and reviewed The Road to Alexander earlier this year, I was in the perfect position to pick this up and follow on from the events that transpired in book one.

Interestingly, one element that I really enjoyed about the first book is barely mentioned in the second! The historical fiction and science fiction crossover in The Road to Alexander isn’t one that I have seen all that much of. Okay, to an extent they go hand-in-hand where time travel is concerned. In my experience though, I haven’t seen it in any great detail; Jennifer Macaire’s writing is the exception.

To help readers, the circumstances of Ashley’s long-term presence in Alexander the Great’s time zone are recapped briefly. As a recap though, these versions don’t touch on the scientific explanations of how the time travel happens, as they did in book one. I don’t think that as a drawback though – Legends of Persia stands as a brilliant historical fiction novel without the need to include the science fiction as an element of intrigue.

An additional advantage of picking up Legends of Persia immediately after an epic like A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin, is that it is really easy to read. I sat and engorged on 30% of this novel without even looking up in my first sitting. It didn’t take long to read either, and being so involved in the storyline and the characters trials and tribulations makes it so much easier. I say this a lot, but the writing style is make-or-break for me. I can get a good idea of how well I will get on with a book based on the first couple of pages alone. Jennifer Macaire’s writing style is very easy to read.

One of the other things I talked about in my review of The Road to Alexander was the sex and nudity throughout the novel. I went into Legends of Persia knowing what to expect, so I wasn’t so bothered about it this time around. The intimate moments aren’t so graphic in detail that it makes you uncomfortable as a reader, or so prolific to negate the actual storyline.

Throughout the series, the characters are more emotional than we are. Men cry and rejoice and love freely. There aren’t the constraints that the reader may expect; modern religion and society as we know it is yet to be born. I’m not all that versed in the sexual habits of people at the time, but I like the inclusion (and normalisation) of same sex relations between the characters. Love is for a person for who they are and doesn’t discriminate by sex or gender.

I’ve really enjoyed delving into both The Road to Alexander and Legends of Persia and re-living a historical time period largely unknown to me. I have already agreed to reading and reviewing the next two books in the series! I cannot wait for those!

 

Author Bio

Jennifer Macaire lives with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves cooking, eating chocolate, growing herbs and flowering plants on her balcony, and playing golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TimeforAlexander/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/jennifermacaire/

twitter @jennifermacaire

https://jennifermacaire.wordpress.com/

 

Giveaway to Win a $10 Amazon gift certificate (Open INT)

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

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494212/?

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 7th April 2019

Don’t the weekends just come and go so fast?! It only feels like 5 minutes ago since I was writing last week’s Sunday Summary post. I hope you have had a good week, whatever you have been up to!

Me? Well, mine has been quite a busy one. It’s rare for me to post four times a week, but that’s exactly what I have done! I published April’s reading list at the beginning of the week; I am taking part in a lot of blog tours, so the official list is dominated by ARC’s. As it happens, I am going to have more time on my hands than usual this month in terms of reading. I didn’t want to commit to reading more though, because I’ll probably balance my time with other little projects. Plus, I also have the freedom to pick up any book I like. Reading list posts are great motivators; I have proven I cannot do without them – but they can also feel a little restricting sometimes.

In addition, I have also published my review of The End of Magic by Mark Stay and a Q&A post with him. There is a chance to enter yourselves into a giveaway for a signed copy of the book, but you’ll have to be quick as it closes at 11:59 pm local time tonight.

 

Books Read

It’s been a pretty good week of reading here, which I’ll admit I am surprised about. I thought my blog post schedule might knock out some of my reading time, but I managed to work around it quite well! As promised, the first couple of days of this week were dedicated to finishing Arbitrage by Colette Kebell. I work in an industry that overlaps with the subject content of this novel, and I actually learned something new from it. Every day is a school day, right?

Next, I moved back to reading A Storm of Swords. I have been reading it for weeks now, just because it is so long. Guys… I did it! I have finished it! It was a long haul, but I got there in the end.

The advantage of reading really long, epic novels is that once you pick up a smaller book, you find yourself a third of the way through it without you even realising. That’s exactly what’s happened with my next read, Legends of Persia by Jennifer Macaire. I achieved that in one sitting too. I’m quite proud…

I’ve also kept up with listening to my latest audiobook, Scythe by Neal Schusterman. I didn’t know how I was going to deal with the comedown from Jay Kristoff’s Godsgrave, because damn that shit is fantastic! I am really enjoying Scythe as well though! It’s different, but that’s why I like it.

 

Books Discovered

 

I have not added any books to my TBR this week because I have been really good.

Who am I kidding?! Truth is, I’ve just been really busy – busy at work, personally, blogging, reading and playing Minecraft in my downtime, I haven’t been looking for new books. That’s an honest answer!

 

Coming Up…

I’m pleased to say things are going to slow down from the breakneck speed of last week. It’s fun, occasionally, but that’s not a blogging schedule I can keep up with reliably.

My blogging schedule is going to be thrown off a little bit as a result, because I have blog tours coming up on Sunday’s for the next couple of weeks. I’ll still be posting three times, but effectively I’ll be posting twice in one day – my review in the early morning and my Sunday Summary will drop in the late evening. Having a few days grace is going to work to my advantage because I have some catching up to do with a proofreading project.

My first review post is for Arbitrage, the ARC I finished up early this week. That post is being published on Thursday, so I hope you can check that out! My second review, on Sunday, is for my current read, Legends of Persia by Jennifer Macaire. What are you looking forward to next week? What will you be reading?

Author Interview: Mark Stay

Today’s blog post is going to be a little bit special; I will be handing over to Mark Stay very shortly so he can tell you about himself and his recently published fantasy novel, The End of Magic. I took the opportunity to share my thoughts in my review of the book yesterday. If you haven’t seen either my review or the opportunity to win yourself a signed copy of the book, please check out the link above and my Twitter/Instagram pages for two chances to enter! The giveaway closes at 11:59 pm on Sunday 7th, so don’t hang around to get your entries in!

And now, I’ll graciously hand over to Mark for a brilliantly funny Q&A: –

 

 

Tell us a little about yourself

Having failed at my childhood dream of becoming either a firefighter or Luke Skywalker, I tried writing stories, then sketches, then acting, and then started a theatre company with my wife. I wrote a few plays, turned some of them into screenplays, met a film director, made a movie with him called Robot Overlords and now I’m writing books again. I’m too old to be a firefighter, and Luke Skywalker is (spoiler alert) dead, but there’s still time for a Morgan Freeman-like late-blooming acting career! Oh, who am I kidding…

I co-present a podcast for writers called the Bestseller Experiment, and I worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years, then last Christmas they finally had enough of me and made me redundant. I now write for food.

Who/what are your inspirations and influences?

I’m an odd hodgepodge of British TV character comedy writers such as John Sullivan and Galton & Simpson, American writers like William Goldman and David Mamet, and fantasists like Harry Harrison, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It’s amazing anything I write makes any sense whatsoever, but over time more of the real me has seeped into the writing and I’m discovering that’s a good thing.

The End of Magic had some fun influences, including the Coen Brothers’ film Miller’s Crossing (when someone pleads for their life), The Good, The Bad and the Ugly for a dollop of redemption (when Tico asks his brother for help), Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters for showing me how to make my unsympathetic protagonist a little more tolerable (see below), and a dash of Grimdark and Pratchett.

It’s refreshing to read a fantasy tale about magic and it’s influence coming to an end as opposed to prevailing. Was this difficult to write? How did you go about it?

I had to ask myself what I could bring to the fantasy genre that thousands of white middle-age blokes hadn’t done before, which got me thinking about privilege. And who in fantasy are more privileged than the classic wizard-mentor types? They love to torment their apprentices and can be unbearably smug and superior, so I wanted to take that archetype and rob them of the thing that made them special and see how they coped. Badly, it turns out. It’s a fun way to make an unsympathetic character engaging. I remember watching the film adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters and having a revelation. You just have to make their lives an utter misery. It’s very therapeutic and enjoyable for the reader.

Ending magic and its influence was a reaction to some of the magic systems I’ve come across in fantasy, where there are so many appendices and rules it’s like the instructions for a complicated board game. I decided I would be clever and do without magic… then I realised I would have to create a magic system in order to understand what happens when you take it away, so I ended up making even more work for myself.

I knew I couldn’t be too radical in the magic or the worldbuilding. It had to be a familiar kind of magic and a recognisable fantasy world in order for the reader to be engaged in its destruction. I was basically taking a hammer to a few old fantasy tropes. There’s nothing wrong with those tropes, I enjoy them as much as ever, but it simply helped keep the reader on the hook, and it doesn’t hurt to give the establishment a light kicking every now and then.

There are, I’m happy to say, no appendices in The End of Magic.

There are a huge variety of characters in the book. How were these characters developed? Do you feel you relate well to any of them, or perhaps they remind you of people you know?

There’s a lot of me in the protagonist Sander Bree, in that I had nothing to complain about in my life, but I still wasn’t content. I had a good job, a home, a wonderful family, but also tons of anxieties, and there seemed to be no reason for them. So I wanted to see how bad things could really get, if simply to remind myself that I have it very good compared to most.

Rosheen Katell is a freelance mage and she has a strict moral code. She’s me on a good day — what what I would aspire to be — and if anything I had to make her story even more challenging for her. It’s easy to take the moral high ground when you have power, but if that power is taken from you then you have some very difficult decisions to make. There’s one terrible act that she commits not long after losing her power and readers have told me it brought them to tears, which is the highest compliment you can give to a writer. Their sadness made me very, very happy (writers are terrible people, really).

And Oskar, her younger brother, is a mute and considered feeble-minded at the start of the story, but he gains all sorts of extraordinary powers as the novel progresses. I wanted to take someone who was voiceless and powerless and see what they would do with that power. His story fascinates me as he’s the most complicated of the three. The conclusion to his story has shocked a few people, and rightly so. In a way, Oskar is like some of the online trolls we encounter. They would be terrified of confrontation in the real world, but now they have the power of anonymity they can do terrible things, but they open themselves up to punishment that they’re simply not prepared for. Poor Oskar really gets put through the wringer.

The supporting characters are huge fun to write. They’re not burdened with the weight of the story and you play a little more freely with them, though there’s a danger they can overwhelm your protagonist. Oskar started out with a much smaller role, but over drafts he grew to have a much more significant role in the story. In some ways, the novel becomes more about him than anyone else.

The End of Magic suggests a conclusion – is this a standalone book, or can we expect a further series?

 

They say you should write the book you want to read, and I wanted to write a page-turning, fun and accessible stand-alone. I’m a bit done with trilogies and never-ending series in fantasy*, and the challenge was to tell a one-and-done and give the reader a satisfying read and let them get on with their lives. That said, I’ve had threats that if I don’t write a sequel there will be trouble. I’ll see what the demand is. The door is open for more, but you can definitely enjoy The End of Magic as a story with a beginning, middle and end.

*In the meantime, I’ve started a middle grade science fiction trilogy, and a World War Two fantasy series that might never end, proving that I’m nothing if not a massive hypocrite.

 

 

About the Author

 

Mark co-wrote Robot Overlords with director Jon Wright for Piers Tempest’s Tempo Productions. This was selected for the 58th BFI London Film Festival. Mark also wrote the film’s novelisation to critical acclaim.

Mark is also co-presenter of The Bestseller Experiment, which was shortlisted for the Futurebook Podcast of the Year award. The podcast began when he and Mark Desvaux challenged themselves to write, edit, publish and market a bestselling eBook in just a year… and then actually did it with their novel Back To Reality, which was a number one Kindle bestseller in ten categories worldwide.

Now in its third year, the podcast works to inspire their listeners to finish their novels and get them published, and their alumni includes Pernille Hughes, Lorna Cook, Sally Harris and fantasy author Mike Shackle.

Mark worked in bookselling and publishing for over 25 years and is a regular on the conventions circuit. The End of Magic is his debut fantasy novel.

Website: https://markstaywrites.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/markstay

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/markstaywriter/

 

Reading List: April 2019

This month I have a LOT of blog tours. What can I say, I have no self-control when it comes to books! Ahaha!

Naturally, there are quite a few ARC’s on this list as a result of signing up to the tours. I am going to balance that with a couple of shorter, traditionally published books that I want to pick up and read of my own volition. By shorter, I basically mean I am going to take a break from reading George R. R. Martin’s epic 1000 page tomes! I love them, but I feel a real lack of progress reading them just because they are SO LONG!

Maybe I’ll start A Feast for Crows on a whim if I feel the urge, but it is not a part of my official reading list. I’m also not going to start it if doing so will compromise the reading schedule. That kinda sounds like famous last words to me somehow…

So, which books am I picking up this month?

 

Legends of Persia – Jennifer Macaire

When Ashley Riveraine jumped at the chance to travel back in time to meet her hero Alexander the Great, she never thought she would end up staying there…

Following Alexander the Great’s army on its journey across Persia, Ashley is walking the knife edge of history. As a presumed goddess, Ashley is expected to bless crops, make sure battles are won and somehow keep herself out of the history books.

Can Ashley avoid the wrath of the Time Institute while keeping the man she loves alive?

 

Having taken part in the blog tour for The Road to Alexander earlier this year, I think I practically snatched the hand off of Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources when she offered the second book in the series to review. Aside from Macaire’s writing, I haven’t really ventured into the time period of Alexander the Great. The slight crossover with science-fiction to include Ashley’s initial time travel and conflict of altering history isn’t invasive or out of place. It’s one of the aspects I enjoyed in The Road to Alexander the most! I’m looking forward to seeing where this second work of historical fiction leads us.

 

Trust Me – K. J. McGillick

Sex. Power. Murder.

Dr. Gabriel Blackwell and his wife Sandra Blake have it all. He’s a brilliant thoracic surgeon. She’s a high-powered attorney with family money. Their lives are as loving as they are glamorous.

Or are they?

When a nurse Dr. Blackwell works with is brutally murdered, the questions fly. Who would want to kill this woman and why? When an autopsy reveals the woman was pregnant, all signs point to Dr. Blackwell. Just what was her relationship with him?

Whispers about a scandalous sex club surface. How many other lovers are there? Are any of them safe? How far would he go to protect his reputation?

Tragedy strikes again as Sandra Blake is found dead floating in their pool. Dr. Blackwell now finds himself on trial for two murders. Facing life in prison, Dr. Blackwell will grasp at any straw to preserve his freedom.

Any straw.

Is anyone innocent? Is anyone safe?

 

I have taken part in blog tours for other books by K. J. McGillick in the last few months – Facing A Twisted Judgement and Karma Never Loses an Address. I really enjoyed both books, so I wanted to take this blog tour opportunity to try something else of hers. Crime fiction is something I enjoy reading quite a lot, so signing up was an easy decision.

 

Justice Gone – N. Lombari Jr

A beaten homeless vet. Three cops gunned down. A multistate manhunt. The trial of the decade.

A new kind of legal thriller

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

 

I can’t say I have ever read anything that focuses on or is influenced by the military very much. Justice Gone is a great way to bridge that gap as I know I will enjoy the legal thriller element of the novel. I decided to take this on as a means of branching out, to try something a little different. I really hope the risk pays off.

 

The Watcher of Dead Time – Edward Cox

Labrys Town, home to a million humans cut off from the rest of the universe, has been invaded. Those who protected it have been deposed.

The Relic Guild are scattered across the worlds of the Aelfir. Many of them are dead or dying. The Genii control everything. The war is almost over.

Clara, a young woman barely able to control her werewolf side, has seen her friends and mentors killed in front of her. She is the last hope for Labrys Town.

But someone else is watching…

The dramatic conclusion to the award-nominated fantasy trilogy which began with THE RELIC GUILD.

 

I am 100% reading this because I didn’t get around to it AT ALL last month. It’s disappointing, although not all that surprising either. Not only did I take on A Storm of Swords, which is over 1000 pages in its own right, I’ve also had some procrastination issues as a result of feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere. Reading long books is a double-edged sword – it’s a great achievement when you have enjoyed a book and finally get to the end… but it can be a real drag to get there.

I’ve also had plenty of lunches out, a slightly more active social life, and by stark comparison, I rediscovered my love of Minecraft. Each and every one of these things has eaten into my reading time. I’m going to have to get a handle on that.

 

Maskerade – Terry Pratchett

Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, the Discworld’s greatest witches, are back for an innocent night at the opera. Naturally there’s going to be trouble, but at the same time there’ll be a good evening’s entertainment with murders that you can really hum to.

 

After some heavy reading *cough cough* A Song of Ice and Fire series, I can always rely on some of Pratchett’s excellence and witty humour to lighten the tone. Maskerade is the next Discworld book on my list and it features the Witches. They are my favourite characters in the Discworld universe, so I can’t wait. Combine that with being a theatrical tale – a parody of Phantom of the Opera, and it sounds like a winner to me!

 

So, that’s the scripted reading list this month. Maybe I’ll pick up A Feast for Crows in between, but that depends on how well I progress.

What are you reading this month?

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 31st March 2019

I spend every Sunday with my mum and dad (that’s if they aren’t away on holiday), but this was made all the more special as it’s Mother’s Day today! She was treated well by both my sister and I, have no doubt.

I was grateful to get out of the house. This weekend has been tough. I have alluded to a neighbour I have had trouble with previously, and some issues are re-surfacing. He is very, very deaf and I have already complained several times about the volume of his TV. I have spent most of the weekend with headphones in (not necessarily attached to my phone or playing music) just to block out the noise. I am playing something classical quietly just so I can concentrate.

I’m not just irrationally angry about the volume of his TV. There is far more to the situation than that, but it was the straw to break the camel’s back, so to speak. Needless to say, the landlord has got a very long, teary email explaining everything that has happened to read tomorrow morning. Numerous apologies for the outburst too, but I needed to vent. I pity the poor man…

Now, on a cheerier note, what have I managed to get up to in between pulling my hair out?

On Tuesday I took part in my second blog tour of the month – Psychotopia by R. N. Morris. In that post, I share my thoughts about the book, as well as provide links to a giveaway. The prize for the winner is a copy of the book, so if you haven’t already entered, please follow the link above to find out more!

The second post of the week was a Throwback Review to a book I read before I began my blog. Up until this week, I had only reviewed books I read and enjoyed. My review of The Darkness Comes Before isn’t of that ilk though. I explain why it wasn’t for me.

 

Books Read

I have spent the week doing my best to make as much progress as I can with two current reads – Arbitrage by Colette Kebell and A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin. Last week I had barely started the former book, which I am reading for a blog tour next month. Now we stand at a much healthier 75% and I aim to finish this in the next day or two. Due to its length, A Storm of Swords has taken longer to tick up the percentage. Weighing in at around 230 pages, I am much happier with the 20% I have managed to read this week, compared to last week.

In addition to the reading, I have also finished listening to Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff. I’m a little saddened that I have to wait for Darkdawn, but it won’t be long until that’s published! Instead, I have started listening to Scythe by Neal Shusterman.

 

Books Discovered

So today, my parents gave me a one of their little voucher stickers from the Monopoly event they are doing at the moment. You’re probably wondering why I’m even mentioning it here, unless you have gotten one yourself. This year friends, they are offering vouchers for Kindle books! My parents, knowing me all too well, handed it to me in case I wanted it.

The voucher entitles you to either 3 out of 10 titles, or alternatively 2 months of Kindle Unlimited subscription. Personally, I have never used Kindle Unlimited. I have a library card after all; I’ve never really felt the need to subscribe for it. Instead, I picked some of the titles on offer to keep.

 

Coming Up…

As if it is April tomorrow! I can’t believe it! As ever though, I’ll be commencing the month with my Reading List. This one is going to be a busy one as I have lots of blog tours coming up!

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a couple of posts later in the week. I have been working with Mark Stay, the author of The End of Magic to bring you a review of his book and an interview. I’m waiting for a final thumbs up to post these next week, but I’m optimistic this will go ahead.

Throwback Thursday Mini-Review: The Darkness That Comes Before – R. Scott Bakker

If I don’t enjoy reading a book I generally won’t talk about it on my blog. I’m not adhering to that rule today though. I have briefly mentioned this book, and why I didn’t get on with it, in a few of my previous posts. I feel that a throwback review is a perfect time to elaborate and talk a little about why.

Whether it is “okay” to post negative reviews is a common topic of conversation in blogging circles. Ultimately, I think it comes down to personal preference and the circumstances in which you read a book. Obviously, if you are reading a book on request or for a blog tour and you don’t enjoy it, it can get pretty awkward. I know friends because I have been there. A word to the wise – ask to change your blog post if you can. It saves a lot of trouble in the long run…

I don’t mind talking about why The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker isn’t for me, as it is a book I picked up and read of my own volition. There are two ways to go about a “negative review” – first, you can say “To hell, my blog means my rules! I’ll say what I like!” That’s totally fine. You’re right. Why should you not say what you truly feel about something? So long as it isn’t offensive, that is.

I’m not really like that though. As I said, usually I don’t even bother talking about books I don’t like. Instead of saying that a book is bad, horribly written, or has boring characters, you can take a softer approach and explain why it wasn’t for you.

 

The Darkness That Comes Before

Goodreads – The Darkness That Comes Before

The first book in R. Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing series creates a world from whole cloth-its language and classes of people, its cities, religions, mysteries, taboos, and rituals. It’s a world scarred by an apocalyptic past, evoking a time both two thousand years past and two thousand years into the future, as untold thousands gather for a crusade. Among them, two men and two women are ensnared by a mysterious traveler, Anasûrimbor Kellhus – part warrior, part philosopher, part sorcerous, charismatic presence – from lands long thought dead. The Darkness That Comes Before is a history of this great holy war, and like all histories, the survivors write its conclusion.

 

My Thoughts…

I think it fair to mention that whilst I don’t really rate this book, for reasons I’ll explain below, I did stick with reading it to the end. The largest factor in deciding whether I will read a book is the writing style or narrative voice. It was a perfectly readable book. The narrative wasn’t difficult to read as far as I remember.

Although I did manage to stick with reading The Darkness that Comes Before, I am certain that I won’t be continuing the series. When I picked it up, I didn’t expect the book to be so philosophical. The world development and discussion of the nations, countries, races and religion involved was very high-minded; very descriptive, but at the same time almost snobbish in its approach (sorry, but that’s how I feel). For that, it felt distant. When I like to delve into epic fantasy I like to feel involved with the characters and their plight. I’m no stranger to the genre; I have been reading it for years. Complicated plot lines only work if the reader can relate to each of the characters and their own character arcs.

In contrast, I had no means to be able to relate to the characters in this book. I recall one was a prostitute, but as to their names, I honestly couldn’t even guess. The best way I can describe my experience of the book is that it felt like I was watching a game of chess. The pieces have their roles and rules of moving around the board, but they lack any kind of personality or identity. All that you can do is watch the match play out to its conclusion. And I did. I won’t be staying for the second round though.

Having read other reviews, it seems to be quite hit and miss. Opinions are either at one polar end or the other. I’m sorry I didn’t enjoy this really. I like history, (of which there is a lot built in), descriptive worldbuilding and epic fantasy. Perhaps my expectations were too high.

Blog Tour: Book Review and Giveaway – Psychotopia by R. N. Morris

 

 

Good morning everyone! Today brings my second blog tour post of the month and I am pleased to feature Psychotopia by R. N. Morris. The tour has been organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources; I’ve been provided with a copy of the e-book for the purposes of giving an honest review. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts, but first, here is a little about the book: –

 

Psychotopia

Goodreads – Psychotopia

Purchase Link – Amazon UK

A game for the times we live – and die – in. Enter Psychotopia, a dark new dystopian novel from the author of the acclaimed Silas Quinn mysteries.

PSYCHOTOPIA, LEVEL ONE. Create your own boutique psychopath, then deceive, manipulate and be ruthless, spreading mayhem and destruction to reach the next levels.

It’s the computer game for our times. After all, the amount of crazy in the world is increasing. Senseless violence on the streets is becoming the norm. Can Dr Arbus’s ground-breaking device identify and neutralize psychopaths before it’s too late? In this increasingly dysfunctional world, surely Callum standing by Aimee after her devastating encounter with Charlie is proof that real love and goodness can still win in a world that’s increasingly rotten . . . Or can it?

 

My Thoughts…

Psychotopia is a work of speculative fiction in which society is filled with psychopaths. The narrative follows select individuals, some psychopathic and some not. Through their lives, we experience the indefinite change in society from our own and consider the consequences.

The perspective that has the most influence on my interpretation of the book is the police officer, Rick. His contributions to the book are primarily retrospective to the main storyline. As he also opens and closes the book with his thoughts on all that has happened. Consequently, the story feels less like the action-packed novel the synopsis indicates it will be and rather more philosophical. It’s not a criticism because I still enjoyed the book and the overall story. It is just told a little differently!

One of the philosophical elements I drew from the book is the influence of games on people’s minds. Can one person’s vision become media that alters another’s perspective? There are numerous debates about possible links between video games and violence. Nothing has been proven though. When a creeper blew up my ground-level spider spawner, I was pretty damn bitter. It was only 50 or so blocks away from base as well! I didn’t get violent as a result though. I have to think Minecraft isn’t quite in the league of Psychotopia, for my own sanity’s sake…

Still, having access to viewing and instigating negative behaviour in games may alter perspective over time. It’s a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” argument really, but I think about stuff like that. I’m an excellent debater… (at least in my own head).

Unusually, I found that chapters with different characters are written in different persons. I thought it an inconsistency at first, but it is done quite deliberately. I also enjoyed the nuance of chapters about the game development being issued as ‘circulars’. It serves well to break up the narrative and add some informal, conversational (and twisted) ideas into play.

 

Author Bio –

R. N. Morris is the author of ten novels. The latest is PSYCHOTOPIA, published 31 October, 2018.

A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia. He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award (as the CWA Gold Dagger was briefly known). A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger.

The Silas Quinn series of novels, set in London in 1914, began with Summon Up The Blood, followed by The Mannequin HouseThe Dark Palace and The Red Hand of Fury. The next novel in the series, The White Feather Killer, will be published in April 2019.

Taking Comfort is a standalone contemporary novel, written as Roger Morris.

He also wrote the libretto to the opera When The Flame Dies, composed by Ed Hughes.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @rnmorris

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Psychotopia-298585774308801/

Website: rogernmorris.co.uk

 

Giveaway – Win 1 x Signed Hardback Copy of Pyschotopia (Open Internationally)

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

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