Tag: fantasy

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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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.

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 24th March 2019

Hello my bookish friends! I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend. What have you been reading? I’ll get onto my bookish adventures in just a moment, but first, let’s talk about the blog posts I’ve published this week.

I began the week by looking at the next five books in my TBR to decide whether they should stay, or go. I like writing Down the TBR Hole posts because more often than not, I forget what is on my list. Even now I am re-considering books that I added to the list a WHOLE YEAR ago. Reading tastes change, so a spring clean is never a bad thing!

On Thursday I published the first of two blog tour posts this month. Life and Other Dreams by Richard Dee is a really compelling read and I recommend it to anyone who likes science-fiction novels. I was also astounded at the number of page views I have gotten out of it – it’s a new record for Reviewsfeed! If you haven’t checked out my review yet, it would gladden my heart.

On a slightly non-bookish topic, before we get down to the usual business, I received something really exciting this week! After doing some copyediting/proofreading bits and pieces here and there, I have signed up to a correspondence course! My materials turned up this week and I am really keen to get stuck in. If I pass (fingers crossed), I will be looking to do a little bit of work freelance. It will be slightly embarrassing if I fail this now, won’t it? Well, there’s my motivation not to fail, haha!

 

Books Read

I’ll be the first person to admit that I’ve had procrastination-head on this week. I don’t like to make excuses, but it’s better than not saying anything. That sounds like I am just fobbing you off. Truth is, I’m a little worried that something might be happening in the near future at work. I might be COMPLETELY wrong (and I hope I am), but I can’t shake the gut feeling I have. It’s been distracting me a lot, and instead of focussing on books I have turned to another hobby of mine; gaming.

It’s nothing fancy, but home is home

I do still have bookish mentions though, because whilst I haven’t read as much as I usually do, I still have. The book I have made the most progress on is Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff. I have gotten into the habit of listening to this in the car on the way to work in the morning. I’m so glad to have gotten back into audiobooks again. Every time I come back to them I curse myself for the break of habit. I actually posted about this last week and I have noticed I used the image of Nevernight instead of Gosdgrave. Apologies!

I wish I had made more progress with A Storm of Swords, but I don’t think reading 80 or so pages is a terrible effort. Okay, I know I can do a lot better than that. It’s better than nothing though, yes?

Lastly, a brief mention of the next book I have picked up, as I have only really read the first chapter. I am reviewing Arbitrage for a blog tour next month. As I already have a lot on my plate next month, I am trying to get ahead. Is it possible to be “getting ahead” when you have so much to catch up on? Aghh…

 

Books Discovered

In slightly better news, I have some exciting Audible purchases and some book mail to share with you all! On Thursday, in addition to my correspondence course material, I also received some awesome book mail! Kindly provided by Gollancz, I have received a copy of The War Within by Stephen Donaldson.

Earlier today I got to spend some of my Audible credits in the sale! Doesn’t everyone love a good deal? I spent one of my credits on Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. I had a chat with a blogger I follow who has recently read this. I’m interested to see what I think of these books to compare with her thoughts. I also spent my second (and last) credit on a pre-order of Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff. I’m a little bit gutted that I am going to have to wait a couple of months to listen to this, truth told. Variety is the spice of life though, so they say. I’ll just have to listen to something else in the meantime.

 

Coming Up…

 

I’m having a little bit of a blogging marathon tonight. As soon as I publish on this post I’ll be drafting the next one! My blog tour post for Psychotopia goes live tomorrow, so I need to get typing fast!

As I desperately need to catch up with some reading, I think my next post will come quite a bit later in the week, Thursday realistically. It’s been a while since I have written a Throwback Thursday mini-review, so perhaps I could publish one of those. It’s an ideal way to discuss books I read before I started my blog nearly two years ago.

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

 

alittlebutalot – NYA Lit Fest

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 17th March 2019

What a week it has been! I have been so busy that I feel like a lot has happened. Things have been manic at work as I have been involved with testing a system upgrade. That’s boring news though, so no more work talk! I’ve also had quite a few lunch plans and such this week, and lastly, I went to the closing night of Les Misérables last night. I don’t often make those kinds of trips out, but I really enjoy it when I do!

It’s a good job I only committed to one blog post this week. I think I would have struggled to keep up with my unusually active social life/event calendar. The expression “when it rains, it pours” springs to mind. Taking a break from review posts to talk about how I got into the blogging scene was refreshing. I also enjoyed the opportunity to take a look back at how far I’ve come. I know there are many veteran bloggers out there that will probably laugh at my next statement, but I think it’s true. Two years is a long time to be blogging – and apparently, a lot can happen in that time. I started out a total amateur, but it’s fair to say that I have found my voice now.

 

Books Read

I picked up where I left off last week reading Life and Other Dreams by Richard Dee. I have a blog tour approaching for the book REALLY soon, so this was my priority. Despite the busy schedule, it didn’t take all that long to read this book. The pace of the book is just right and I found it easy to sit and read undisturbed for longer periods of time than I get with other books. It was as much a pleasure to read as it will be to feature it on my blog.

I have devoted the rest of the week to reading as much of A Storm of Swords as I can physically stomach (in between sessions of Minecraft that is – I’ve become a little bit obsessed!) I absolutely adore this series and I cannot get enough of it. It’s a good job they are so long really. I’m always sad to get to the end.

I have been so intermittent with listening to audiobooks lately, but this week I have resumed them once again. I used to get ready in the morning listening to them, but I’m not really awake enough to do that anymore. I don’t know what’s happened to me, but I can’t get up in the mornings like I used to. It’s been going on for months now. Instead, I have taken to listening to them in the car on my drive to work and home again. That alone makes up about an hour a day.

 

Books Discovered

Earlier this week I was in my local Waterstones. My mission: to get some super cute little baby books for an expectant work friend. One sings “The Wheels on The Bus” if you scan a QR code. I’m sure she’ll thank me later.

Or, maybe not! Haha!

You can probably work out where this is going. I came out with a little something for me too. I’m working on building my paperback collection of these, so why not get the next one? That’s what I reasoned at the time – so I did it!

 

Coming Up…

I am back to my usual blogging schedule this week. I have had a wee bit of a breather to let my hair down (and get some reading done too, obviously…) so time to jump back in! I’ll be sharing another Down the TBR Hole post early in the week, as I have my blog tour stop for Life and Other Dreams on Thursday. I hope you have the time to check these posts out!

In terms of reading, I have now received an ARC I have been waiting for. This week’s focus is to read Arbitrage by Colette Kebell and continue on with A Storm of Swords and Nevernight.

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

 

ityreadsbooks –Book vs. Ebook – Which is better?

Facing the Story –Studious Saturday: exploring bookshops in Glasgow

Book Review Banner

Book Review: The Cathedral of Known Things – Edward Cox

***I am grateful to have received a copy of this series for an honest review courtesy of Gollancz. All opinions stated are my own***

 

Goodreads – The Cathedral of Known Things

Divided, hunted and short on resources, the surviving members of the Relic Guild are in real trouble. Their old enemy, the Genii, and their resurrected master have infiltrated Labrys Town and taken over the police force.

So the Relic Guild must flee their home, and set off on a dangerous journey across the worlds of the Aelfir. One that will lead them to a weapon which might destroy the Genii. Or the whole universe…

And forty years before all this, the war which led to the fall of the Genii continues. And what happens to the Relic Guild during that conflict will change the course of their desperate flight.

 

My Thoughts…

My initial impressions of the series can be found in my review of The Relic Guild, the first book of the series. The turmoil within Labrys Town continues in this second instalment, and the Relic Guild are out of their depth.

The dual timeline between The Great War forty years ago and the present day is one of my favourite elements of the book. The circumstances have changed for both sides since the first invasion years ago. Fabian Moor has licked his wounds and learned from his mistakes. On the other hand, the Relic Guild has fewer numbers than before. The odds are stacking against them rapidly in this new attack on the Labyrinth.

It is fair to say that the narrative storyline is well developed, but isn’t hard to follow. In this second book of the series, there is far more action and plot development. It builds on the events of the first book well, so the character relations and world building are carried through. I really enjoyed the characterisation and world-building elements in the first book. Although I didn’t pick up The Cathedral of Known Things straight after the Relic Guild, it was easy to pick up again and felt familiar almost immediately. The world building and characterisation were necessary components of the first book of the series and brilliant besides. However, I am grateful to start to see the action unfold now that I have invested time into the lives of these characters.

Whilst both storylines are narrated concurrently in the book, the main emphasis I took away from it lies in the storyline of The Great War all those years ago. Could it be that the key to winning this present day war lies in events of the past? Perhaps. I’ll only know that once I read The Watcher of Dead Time later this month. I can’t wait to read it and share my thoughts with you all. With any luck though… I’ll pull my finger out and share them with you a bit sooner than three months after the reading of it…

Top Ten Tuesday – Book Recommendations

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

The thing I enjoy the most about blogging and reading blogs is book recommendations. Whether giving them myself or getting them by reading reviews online, it’s fun. I’m always looking to increase my reading repertoire. I hadn’t ventured into reading horror books until I started my blog and up until that point, I have missed out on enjoying a wide range of authors!

Today I am taking the opportunity to give YOU some book recommendations, but if you have any for me based on my list, then I would love to hear some of your recommendations in the comments!

I’m going to keep this list short and snappy so you can scan through if you want. Where I have reviewed a book on the list, I’ll provide a link to my review in the title. That way you can choose whether you wish to read it or not. I mean OBVIOUSLY, you do… but hey, I want all the views I can get haha!

 

My Top Ten Book Recommendations

 

A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

I would only recommend this for fans of fantasy who aren’t intimidated by larger books and complex plot lines. Isn’t that a given? I think the largest books I read are typically part of the fantasy genre. There are a couple of notable exceptions though. It’s worth the time though – this is by far my favourite series of all time and I will recommend this book again and again until I am blue in the face.

 

Pet Sematary – Stephen King

This was the first horror I read of Stephen King’s. It wasn’t the first of his books I read – that accolade goes to The Green Mile. This was the first in the horror genre though. Since then I have gone on to read IT and listen to The Stand and add many other books to the list.

 

The Discworld Series – Terry Pratchett

What is great about the Discworld series is that it doesn’t matter how many of these you read. You could read them all if you want to, (a feat I am slowly creeping towards), or you could just pick up one to enjoy. The stories are all largely independent of each other and so you’re not committed to a mass reading expedition trying these. They have characters, places and comical themes in common, but they stand alone too. I have read too many of these books to link here, and some before my blogging days. Please search on my blog if you’re interested.

 

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) – Brandon Sanderson

As with A Game of Thrones, this is another epic read worth the investment. I have only read the first book so far, but the fact that I am willing to recommend the series based on that should say it all…

 

The Green Mile – Stephen King

If this book doesn’t make you ball your eyes out … ahem, upset, then you are not human. I was introduced to the film many years ago but due to the nature of the topics concerned, I hadn’t really watched it in full. The book is even more profound than the film and it is one I will re-visit again and again.

 

The Last Kingdom (series) – Bernard Cornwell

This is a recommendation for anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction. Again, it’s tricky to link the reviews. I love the characters and the narrative is so well written… these books are easy to get lost in. I have read the first three books of the series so far in addition to having watched the first two seasons of the TV adaptation. Muppet here has only JUST realised that Season 3 was released in November last year, but only on Netflix. I’ll have to buy the DVD for it. Next month…

 

Raven’s Mark series – Ed McDonald

Another fantasy series I know, but wow! I love Ryhalt and his sassiness; I relate to his sarcastic outlook, I really do. Ryhalt is almost a bit of an anti-hero – the kind of guy that does what he does to save his own skin MOST of the time. There is a glimmer of humanity in there somewhere though. We need to see more of these characters in books. Let’s face it, not many people are as altruistic as book heroes are!

 

An Almond for a Parrot – Wray Delaney

This book makes it to the list for the comedy factor. It has a blend of fantasy in there too, but my favourite part by far is how it handled the, erm… saucy bits. As a general rule, I don’t like books that go into that much detail in THAT regard. I find it cringe-worthy. So was this one in its own way, but that somehow made it funnier? I couldn’t have “read” this in the traditional way. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did a fabulous job. It made the story.

 

Strange the Dreamer (series) – Laini Taylor

I recommend this duology for anyone who enjoys magic, YA style. I’m not a huge reader of YA on the whole, but I really enjoyed these. Sometimes I can find the characters immature, but the storyline behind them “finding themselves” after their world is turned upside down both makes sense and drives the plot nicely. There’s a little bit of a romance which is kind of cute. Again, I’m not really a HUGE fan generally but it isn’t overplayed.

 

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

I want to recommend this historical fiction book to anyone who loves this genre because I did NOT see the plot twist in this one coming. Not only is the character engaging, but we are able to sympathise with her predicament. The level of detail is fantastic and I was blown away by the ending!

 

I’ve tried to vary up my recommendations based on different genres, although Fantasy does prevail a little here! Have you read any of these books?

Do you have any recommendations for me?