Tag: fantasy

Sunday Summary June 2018

Sunday Summary – 24th June 2018

Good evening folks! Another week draws to a close and it’s time to share my weekly progress (aka Sunday Summary) with you. I anticipated that this week was going to be less productive than my previous week, because:-

  • Last week was a good week for me, by any standards
  • I have had a redecoration project planned

 

I had a couple of days of work this week (yay!), but due to redecorating, they were FAR from relaxing!. As a result, I can’t say I managed to read as much as I hoped to. I’ve also been doing my fair share of writing blog posts, so I suppose I can claw that time back in the next day or two instead.

 

Books Read

My week began with finishing Blackwing by Ed McDonald – and what a way to start a week. I devoured this book in about two days, which speaks volumes about how much I enjoyed it! With a page count of approximately 380 pages, I am actually pretty impressed with myself on this one!

I swiftly moved on to Death in Dulwich by Alice Castle, first of two books in the London Murder Mysteries series I am reviewing next month. So far I am 28% through the book, which isn’t horrendous progress, but I would have liked to have read a little more on this one. Perhaps next week will be more fruitful.

My review copy of Ravencry arrived this week and I haven’t been more excited for a book in a little while. As I am due to be reviewing this early next month rather than mid next month, I started reading this as well. Admittedly, this is why Death in Dulwich was put on the back-burner – a girl has to prioritise somehow! I’ve acquainted myself with the first 45 pages or so, but after this, I had to prioritise redecorating, so I’m no further than that.

All in all, this isn’t the worst week I’ve had reading – actually taking the time to look at it properly; it doesn’t seem as bad as I thought it was. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

 

Books Discovered

I’ve added Bard – The Odyssey of the Irish by Morgan Llewellyn to the TBR on the recommendation from a friend. We were discussing our mutual interest in historical fiction books when he told me about it. Since Ireland is close to home, it’s only fair to learn how and by whom the country became inhabited.

I read a fantastic review of The Court of Broken Knives by The Tattooed Book Geek today; such a good review that it makes me want to read it for myself. I want to try and read more from the Dark Fantasy sub-genre and this seems like a good place to start!

 

 

Coming Up…

Three Things Noone tells you about going self hostedI already have tomorrow’s post prepared for you – which is a rarity on my part! It’s a topic I decided to write about a couple of weeks ago. You may know that I recently transferred my blog from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. After researching and completing the process, I felt there wasn’t much information out there about what to expect after going self-hosted. Hopefully, my post tomorrow will give you a few pointers about what to expect.

 

I’m really looking forward to sharing Wednesday’s post as it was kindly contributed by the author of A Conversation with A Cat, Stephen Spotte. I was recently provided with a copy by OpenBooks in exchange for a review. Stephen has prepared a humorous insight into his book and the top cat that inspired his work, Jinx.

Naturally, my review of A Conversation with A Cat will follow on Thursday. I hope you can take a minute or two out of your day to check out my thoughts.

 

Sunday Summary June 2018My Sunday Summary will take usual pride of place – and I hope to be sharing news of a more productive week.

 

Top Summer Reads

Rebecca’s Top Summer Reads

How do you even go about choosing your top summer reads when there are just SO MANY books out there?! It’s a tough one to call! In order to tackle the problem, I’ve decided to split this column into two main sections, with a final section including the books I hope to read during the sunny season.

Everyone has different tastes as well, so the books I choose are probably different from yours. I hope to cover as many genres as I can so that something appeals to you, dear reader – so without further adieu, let’s get started!

Light / Humorous Books

The Queen & I – Sue TownsendThe Queen & I - Sue Townsend

My mum recommended this book to me years and years ago – and I actually have it downloaded on my kindle. I started reading the first few chapters all those aeons ago, but I haven’t finished the book. I used to be very selective about the books I read, (once upon a time) and I found it difficult to read anything that wasn’t Fantasy. Were I to re-visit this now, I think I would appreciate it a lot more! There’s just something about the idea of the Queen being forced to live on a council estate that spells humorous disaster!

 

 

 

The Rag Nymph - Catherine CooksonThe Rag Nymph – Catherine Cookson

I have included this book here because the narrative is easy to read. I have Yorkshire influence in my family too, so “Raggie Aggie” reminds me of mum when I was growing up. The fond memories I have and the familiarity of her character must play its part in my choosing this book. Set in 1854, this book will appeal to fans of historical fiction. This novel does have mature themes, however; if you are looking for something lighthearted I would point you in another direction.

 

 

 

I Don’t Know How She Does It – Allison PearsonI Don't Know How She Does It - Allison Pearson

Please don’t think I am discriminating here guys – but in this section, I’m giving a nod to a book categorised as “chick lit”. That’s not to say you can’t read this book – for the most part, I wouldn’t describe this as my genre either.

This entry is another in which I have read part of the book, but not finished. Again, it was years ago I first found myself laughing at Allison’s take on the trials and tribulations of “the working mum”. Whilst the expectations of a mother may be a little out of date now, the book is laugh-out-loud funny. Allison made a rip-roaring return to the series by publishing How Hard Can It Be? last year, proving that there is still the demand to laugh at (and relate to) Kate Reddy’s parenthood troubles.

 

 

Epic/Long Reads

 

 

The Last Kingdom - Bernard CornwellThe Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell

Maybe you prefer to sit down with a heavier book – perhaps you want to be transported to another world/universe entirely. Let the sun, sea and sand melt away and the riotous clash of swords fade in. Going abroad was never a peaceful affair in times past. If you’d like to reminisce on those English shores many moons ago, then The Last Kingdom (aka The Saxon Chronicles) may be your cup of tea.

 

 

 

IT – Stephen KingIT - Stephen King

Looking for a challenge? Are you happy to dedicate your soul to one book? Do you like horror? Then I challenge you to read IT by Stephen King. I read this book back in October last year – in time for Halloween (or Hop Tu Naa locally). The book was unnerving rather than scary, in my opinion, so I wouldn’t say it was unapproachable for anyone. That is, unless you are intimidated by clowns or the page count. At approximately 1,370 pages, it will keep you occupied for some time… or hiding under the covers.

 

 

The Way of Kings - Brandon SandersonThe Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson

If a series based with its own established Universe, complete with a unique magic system appeals to you, then The Way of Kings is my recommendation for you.

The depth of history and world-building in this epic series will have you in awe, my friends. If it weren’t for the fact that Brandon Sanderson has only published the third book of the series just recently, I would have binge-read the entire thing by now! I am forcibly restraining myself – trust me.

 

 

Empire of Silence – Christopher RuocchioEmpire of Silence - Christopher Ruocchio

Here is one for fans of science-fiction.

I was floored by this when I read it… and soon you can too! With a publishing date of the 5th July, I have high hopes that this book will soar in popularity this summer. Whether you are a veteran sci-fi fan or a relative newbie, this can be enjoyed by all.

If you want to decide if this is for you or not, you can find my recent review of the book here.

 

 

 

My Summer Reads

So, which books am I planning on reading this summer? There are lots to choose from and an inevitably never-ending TBR list! It’s taken some time to narrow it down, but here are three of my much-anticipated summer reads:-

 

Daughter of Smoke & Bone – Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke & Bone - Laini Taylor

I loved Strange the Dreamer… and I cannot wait until October until the release of Muse of Nightmares!

I’m serious – I cannot wait… and so this is why I have decided to pick up the first book of this series! I love Laini Taylor’s writing style – so much so that genres or themes I would normally not show a preference for can basically get away with murder.

 

 

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeThe Curious Incidenct of the Dog in the Night-time

I have wanted to read this book for such a long time… and now it is well overdue.

Not long ago I read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and really enjoyed reading a narrative written from a child’s perspective. The added bonus with this is hopefully learning how people on the autistic spectrum perceive the world (or at least one interpretation of, anyway).

 

 

 

A Darker Shade of Magic - V E SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic – V.E Schwab

Considering I was supposed to read this in February this year… I have absolutely no excuse to put off A Darker Shade of Magic anymore. This is a hugely popular book and I have yet to see whether I love it as much as the hype would indicate I should.

I’ll admit I always take things like that with a pinch of salt, becuase we all have different opinions and tastes in books. I would be lying though if I said I wasn’t curious.

 

 

 

So – have any of the above books made your list? Perhaps you have read them already! Either way, I would love if you could drop me a like or a comment about what you are doing this summer.

Your devoted blogger,

Sunday Summary June 2018

Sunday Summary – 10th June 2018

Even the Sunday Summary post is late this week. Fabulous.

This week has been really topsy-turvy, and I feel like I’m apologising all the time for late posts. I’m probably the only person that notices. So yeah, sorry (again) for the late post. You can blame Windows updates on my laptop for this one – only after all the time and effort, it failed! That’s technology for you eh?

Anywho, here we are. Have you had a good reading week?

 

Books Read

I didn’t read as much as I would have liked this week. Again, I’ve been plagued with IT issues in getting my blog set up on a self-hosted site. Don’t get me wrong, the upgrade is certainly worth it and I’d do it all again, but I still have a number of broken links (250…ish) to fix, and that’s all after a very impatient wait to get my site transferred in the first place!

So, has the hard work paid off? What do you think of the new site?

In the moments I haven’t been inches away from throwing my laptop out of the nearest window, I been buried in one book or another. I’ve been making further progress in reading The Irrationalist by Andrew Pessin – if you want to know a little more of the story you can either check out my comments in last week’s Sunday Summary post or alternatively via OpenBooks. I would have liked to make a bit more progress on this one, but I am aiming to finish this by next Sunday’s post.

I have a Blog Tour coming up for Chilling Tales of the Unexpected, so I have also been reading the first couple of stories (out of the four within). That post is actually coming up next week, so finishing this short book is a priority for the next day or two. So far I am finding these reads really easy to either pick up as a break from heavy material or even in the few minutes before starting work. I don’t think it will take long to read the remainder of the book.

Lastly, Nevernight. Again, this is a book I am listening to and chipping away at in the mornings. I love the tone and humour in it – it really does brighten up my day! I’ll be needing the lift when the alarm goes off at 6:40 tomorrow morning, believe me.

 

Books Discovered

I have seen this book around for a while, but I confess I hadn’t read much about it or the reviews for it until last week. It has been displayed in my local *large chain bookshop* – so I decided I’d see what it was all about.

Aside from the vodka at weekends, this is just me. Routine 9-5 job, run-of-the-mill weekends… week in and week out. I think I will relate to this so much; I only wish I had looked at this sooner.

 

Coming Up…

This week, I think I am going to treat you to a Top Ten Tuesday post! We have had some absolutely fabulous weather over here – it must be a record for the longest dry-spell we have had. With that in mind, I am going to put together my Top Ten Summer reads. Maybe we’ll have some books in common!

 

 

 

So guys, as I mentioned earlier, I’ll be partaking in a Blog Tour this week for Chilling Tales of the Unexpected by Ann Girdharry. I am really looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you about this collection of short stories, so please tune in on Thursday.

 

 

 

And last, but not least, I’ll be wrapping up the week with my usual Sunday Summary post. I have actually quite enjoyed writing this post a little later in the day (writing a weekly wrap up and posting for midday on day seven seems a little strange, thinking about it). I’ve also found it a bit easier to write as I am not so time-pressured. Basically, I’m saying I am going to try this again next week.

 

I hope the wait has been worthwhile and I look forward to seeing you around! If you have a minute to drop me a line, your comments are always appreciated!

Sunday Summary – 27th May 2018

There is genuinely nothing more pleasant than a bank holiday weekend – especially if the sun is shining!
Feeling in the summery mood lately, I bought a small bird feeder that sticks to my window. Who knew such things existed?! You don’t have to have a garden to enjoy nature, it seems. Over the past few days I have had a number of small visitors to my windowsill.
So what else has been going on with me? This week I posted a couple of reviews to the blog, and I would really love if you could check them out (if you haven’t done so already)! On Wednesday I posted my review of Eternity’s Echoes by Evan Hirson, a science-fiction novel in which five teenagers harness the power of time travel. Sticking with the science-fiction theme, I shared my review of Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio. I really enjoyed reading both these books! Science-fiction books are enjoyable reads… but it’s not a genre I pick up everyday. I’ve decided I definitely need to read more of this genre.
 

Books Read


 
This week’s read is The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. In my Sunday Summary last week I touched on the book as I had just started reading it. Now I am just over half way through and I absolutely love it! It is a story of a Toy Emporium whose magic is legendary. The Emporium opens at first frost for the Christmas period and closes again when the snowdrops bloom. Cathy, a pregnant teenager runs away from the family that have shunned her and joins the Emporium. I love how and why Papa Jack created the Emporium. His life has not always been plain sailing, but it goes a long way to showing why he thinks and how the “magic” of his Emporium allures children and adults alike! I can’t wait to finish this book.
Nevernight has also been on my list this week, and I have been listening to this audiobook getting ready for work. This is a long audiobook, so I am going to be listening to it for a while! Annoyingly I lost a little bit of my progress (must have closed the app or something) so I had to make that up again, but it’s not the end of the world.
 

Books Discovered

img_0637
I posted about this on Instagram and Twitter yesterday, because I was so excited to receive this book mail! Season of Storms was published on the 22nd May and I am delighted to have been provided with a review copy! I really enjoyed reading The Last Wish last year – and I’ve played a little of the game franchise too! This beautiful hardback is going to be tempting me – I just know it!
 

Coming Up…

Quintessential QuotesOn Tuesday I am going to be sharing another Quintessential Quotes post, because I said I was going to write them more often. And I haven’t. Normally when I set these up I have an idea of a theme I’m going to base it on… but not this time! I’m basically going to decide when I write it.

This might be fun…

 
Diana ChristmasLater on next week I am going to be posting a review of Diana Christmas by F. R. Jameson; I was kindly requested to review this book by the author in exchange for an electronic copy. Diana Christmas is a screen siren, whom at the peak of her fame, disappears from the limelight. When our film journalist Michael meets her years later, the sinister truth starts to unravel as to why Diana disappeared.
I am also hoping to share an interview with the author about this book, so please stay tuned for that too!
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 13th May 2018

It’s Sunday again! It barely feels like the weekend has even started, and already we are over half way through.
Weekends are just not long enough.
This week I opened up a little about myself in my review of the audiobook An Almond for A Parrot by Wray Delaney. This normally isn’t the sort of book I would pick up, however the historical setting and inclusion of magic swayed me to see what it was all about. Whilst I enjoyed the book – I won’t deny it made me feel a little awkward. You can catch the full details in my review.
 

Books Read


 
I finally finished Empire of Silence this week, and boy… was it worth the wait! I’ve been reading this book for a few weeks now, and it’s really made me think I ought to pick up science-fiction books more often. I want to thank Gollancz once again for giving me the opportunity to read this book prior to it’s release in July and I cannot wait to share a full review.
Sticking with the science-fiction theme, I have also read Eternity’s Echoes at the request of the author. A quick thank you here for providing me with an ecopy of the book. It’s a tale that explores the concept of time travel and potential consequences it may have if misused. I’ll be publishing a review shortly, so keep an eye out for that.
I also furthered my audiobook progress this week! So far I am loving the narrative of Nevernight. Not only is the story interesting, I love Mia as a character. The narrative itself is written in a clear manner, with an underlying tone of sarcastic wit that I relate to entirely; the narrator does an excellent job in encapsulating this. I can’t wait to listen to the story further!
 

Books Discovered


My first book buy of the week was Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell. I love his Saxon stories series, (aka The Last Kingdom to those that only watch it on TV), and I also love everything about the stage and theatre. Picking up this book was a no-brainer for me once I saw it!
I actually received a copy of Blackwing to read and review from Gollancz a couple of weeks ago(?!)… ish. Anyway. I hadn’t added it to my blog before because I like to post to social media to thank the publisher first, which I was rather late in doing.
I have this amazing ability to be as un-photogenic as possible, and if I’m not convinced I like a picture… I won’t share it. Thank the lord for photo editing… because I still wasn’t all that great when I finally took that photo. Thanks to some cropping and a cheeky filter, I published the photo on InstagramTwitter and you were spared the sight of my hideous sunburn. It rather matched my lipstick. No joke. I am Casper the ghost in corporeal form.
 

Coming Up…

Almost a month after I read the book, I’ll be posting my review of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. I really enjoyed this book, even though the topic is less than cheery. If anyone is yet to read it, I highly recommend it. As for the film… I don’t think I could watch it. I’m weak.
Rebecca mono

Audiobook Review: An Almond for A Parrot – Wray Delaney

It is a wonder I even chose to listen to this book. Why…? I hear you ask. You like books of a historical fiction / fantasy persuasion! Yes, yes I do… and this book is definitely that. So what might turn me off, you ask?

Well, it comes down to one simple fact. I am socially awkward when it comes to sex.

Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t play around with the odd innuendo with your work colleagues, then I would argue you either don’t know them very well, or you just aren’t normal.

If, however, a SERIOUS conversation between my girl friends turned to that glorious subject, my desire to be any part of it shrivels up faster than a streaker on the North Pole. Do you remember that feeling when you first had to watch a sex scene with your parents? This is me, literally all the time…

Source: Giphy

It’s one of those scenarios you inevitably have to experience, in order to understand how much it makes you want to curl up and die on the spot… but after that, it should never happen again. Ever.

 

Goodreads – An Almond for a Parrot

‘I would like to make myself the heroine of this story – an innocent victim led astray. But alas sir, I would be lying…’

London, 1756: In Newgate prison, Tully Truegood awaits trial. Her fate hanging in the balance, she tells her life-story. It’s a tale that takes her from skivvy in the back streets of London, to conjuror’s assistant, to celebrated courtesan at her stepmother’s Fairy House, the notorious house of ill-repute where decadent excess is a must…Tully was once the talk of the town. Now, with the best seats at Newgate already sold in anticipation of her execution, her only chance of survival is to get her story to the one person who can help her avoid the gallows.

She is Tully Truegood.

Orphan, whore, magician’s apprentice.

Murderer?

So why pick a book in which the protagonist is a prosti…. ahem, courtesan? I don’t know really. But I did… and here we are.

You may have gotten the impression that my adversity to even deal with my awkwardness means that I didn’t like the book. Wrong. Yes, it was awkward and embarrassing, but Sally handled the topic in a humorous way. I am still glad that I only listened to this audiobook at home since I spent much of my time laughing out loud, at the book and myself in equal measure.

We follow our protagonist’s story from childhood, so naturally we are introduced to the idea of human desires from a pointedly… innocent perspective. Poor vegetables are made to stand up in the place of the appendages enticing both fascination and uncertainty in young Tully. I really liked this approach, because as an awkward person anyway, I felt mutually awkward and therefore not alienated by the subject matter. Naturally, as the narrative progresses and Tully develops into the confident woman she becomes, the language does get bolder, through blessedly not crass.

I also enjoyed the storyline behind the superfluous sexual encounters knocking between the pages. Not only were elements of magic, theatrics and illusion involved… but there is also a fair amount of politics. Being a courtesan as opposed to carousing street corners, Tully earns the affections of a number of high profile men and her position in society depends entirely upon whom she is courting at the time.

Just fair word of warning to anyone considering reading or listening to this book – later on in the narrative there are some of the darker themes you may associate with our protagonist’s profession, which may not suit all readers.
My one and only criticism of the book is that I found the ending a little too fairy-tale like – it is definitely an ending for the romantic reader. The narrative was written cleverly so that technically it could (and made sense to) happen, but I personally think it felt out of place with the tone of the book.


I hope you all had a good laugh at my expense reading this review. If you did, let me know! What embarrasses you the most?
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 6th May 2018

Morning all!! I hope you are all having a pleasant day.
May is officially here and with that comes a new reading list for the month. If anyone is interested to see which books I’ll be reading this month, you can head on over and find my reading list here.
The “first” book of the month is a carry over from April, since it had taken me some time to read. I don’t think I can be blamed though, as this book reaches over 800 pages long. I passed the 700 mark last night, so I am on the final stretch to finishing it. I didn’t publish a review this week, as is my custom, because I am slowly catching up with myself. Instead, I published what I expected to be an unpopular post – Five Reasons I Don’t Rate Netgalley. It’s a post part of me has been itching to write for weeks… and, as it turns out, the post has had a better reception than I thought!
 

Books Read


Reading time has been focussed on Empire of Silence once again this week.
It doesn’t feel like I am giving you a particular update, as I was in the same boat last week. What I can say is that since last week I have read a further 300-and-something pages, so I am near the end of the book. I anticipate I’ll be finishing it in the next day or two.
I also started listening to Nevernight by Jay Kristoff whilst getting ready for work in the morning on Wednesday. This is something I like to do if the news is particularly dreary, or if Piers Morgan is quite frankly getting on my nerves. Let’s face it, before the first coffee of the day… this is quite a likely eventuality, yes?
This is a lengthier audiobook and I don’t always listen to them in the morning, so this will probably take me a few weeks to get through. I love audible. I wasn’t sure I would get on with audiobooks, but I have taken to them well.
 

Books Discovered

Nevernight
Much as I’ve said above, I downloaded this from Audible this week with my monthly credit. It is, however, the only book I have purchased or vowed to read this week.
It’s odd that this section is so bare, knowing what I’m like!
 

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

 

Coming Up…

I’m going back to my usual schedule and I’ll be posting a review on Wednesday. This week, I will be reviewing an audiobook I listened to a short while ago…. An Almond for A Parrot by Sally Garner, writing under the pseudonym Wray Delaney.
Have you read any of these books? What are you reading this month?
Rebecca mono
 

Reading List: May 2018

It’s May.
There – I said it. As much as we all wish for Summer and the warmer climes associated with it (somewhere… far, far away from here perhaps), I just have to ask the question… where has the beginning of this year gone?
We are fast approaching the fairer months of the year (allegedly). Here at home, you can always tell when the preparations begin for the prestigious road races that take place here… patching up near-pristine roads etc. Meanwhile, other roads not on the course are sorely neglected to the point in which they have more craters than the moon.
Ahem. Not that I’m bitter or anything… and that is not what this post is about! Today, I am publishing my reading list for the month of May… so let’s get stuck in!
 

Empire of Silence

Empire of Silence GR

Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.
It was not his war.
On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe started down a path that could only end in fire. The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives–even the Emperor himself–against Imperial orders.
But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.
Fleeing his father and a future as a torturer, Hadrian finds himself stranded on a strange, backwater world. Forced to fight as a gladiator and into the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, he will find himself fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.

Normally, I don’t include books that I end up carrying over from the previous month. Finishing these books should maybe take a day or two, so I usually chastise myself for frittering away time and struggle on to cram those extra pages in to another, normal month of reading.
I don’t think it’s fair to do this to myself this month, on account of having over three hundred pages of this mammoth book left! As much as I love reading, I don’t have a death wish. I know my limit and I am unlikely to finish this in the next day or so.
 

Eternity’s Echoes

Eternity's Echoes.jpg

Aaron was a promising software designer with an upcoming company. He shared a quaint house on the outskirts of town with his best friends; another young man and two girls.
They’d known each other since school, and lived together peacefully for years with few problems.
Travis the newcomer however had a dark way about him, and all of Aaron’s attempts to get along with him had failed.
But just as the household began to settle down again, a strange device with a peculiar attitude entered their lives.
Would it fulfill all of their dreams, or instead become a curse?

Judging by the synopsis, reading this book comes at a perfect time.
I was kindly approached by the author with an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Whilst I enjoy science-fiction, I would say that out of all the genres I take the time to read, it is the one I pick up the least frequently. I worry that the technical knowledge (I distinctly lack) will intimidate me away from enjoying the narrative, but nine times out of ten this isn’t the case at all. It’s almost a bit of an irrational fear.
That being said, I have really enjoyed the Sci-fi books I have picked up in the last year, so I’ll be proud to add this to my collection!
 

Diana Christmas

Diana Christmas

In 1959, Diana Christmas – the beautiful, vivacious redhead – was a major star in Britain. It was her moment. She was on the cusp of making it big in Hollywood. Then, she simply walked away from the limelight. Vanished from an industry that adored her.
Twenty years later, Michael, a young film journalist, arrives at her suburban home and discovers the still vibrant and alluring Diana. Between her sheets, he hears for the first time the reason for her disappearance – a tale of coercion, shame and blackmail.
To his shock, he learns that those who destroyed her career and ruined her life still have their claws in her.
Totally smitten, he promises to help her. But Michael soon finds that the past doesn’t let go easily…
Diana Christmas – A new thriller of desire and betrayal from F.R. Jameson.

My third read of the month is also a review request, so a huge thanks to the author for a free electronic copy of this book to review.
The historical setting and promise of a tale portraying the less-than-glamorous side of fame is what attracted me to this book. If anything in the news over the last few months can be believed, then it would suggest that fame definitely comes with a price and abuse of power. Having not read the book thus far, I can’t truly compare the narrative to the stories we have heard ongoing… but there is enough of a correlation to have piqued my interest.
 

The Toymakers

The Toymakers.jpg

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!
It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.
For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

I was delighted to have been accepted for this read from Netgalley. This is the first book I have actually been accepted for on the site, and it’s about time I read it. Who doesn’t love a tale of childlike magic in the midst of war to lighten your spirits?
 

The Irrationalist

The Irrationalist

An historical murder mystery based on real events.
Who would want to murder the world’s most famous philosopher?
Turns out: nearly everyone.
In 1649, Descartes was invited by the Queen of Sweden to become her Court Philosopher. Though he was the world’s leading philosopher, his life had by this point fallen apart. He was 53, penniless, living in exile in Amsterdam, alone. With much trepidation but not much choice, he arrived in Stockholm in mid-October.
Shortly thereafter he was dead.
Pneumonia, they said. But who could believe that? There were just too many persons of interest who wanted to see Descartes dead, and for too many reasons. That so many of these persons were in Stockholm—thanks to the Gala the Queen was throwing to celebrate the end of the terrible Thirty Years’ War—made the official story all the less plausible. Death by poisoning was the unofficial word on the cobblestone.
Enter Adrien Baillet. A likeable misfit with a mysterious backstory, he arrives just as the French Ambassador desperately needs an impartial Frenchman to prove that Descartes died of natural causes—lest the “murder” in Lutheran Sweden of France’s great Catholic philosopher trigger colicky French boy-King Louis XIV to reignite that awful War. Baillet hesitatingly agrees to investigate Descartes’s death, knowing that if—or when—he screws up, he could be personally responsible for the War’s Thirty-First Year.
But solving the mystery of Descartes’s death (Baillet soon learns) requires first solving the mystery of Descartes’s life, with all its dangerous secrets … None of it is easy, as nearly everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted. Nor does it help that he must do it all under the menacing gaze of Carolus Zolindius, the terrifying Swedish Chancellor with the strangely intimidating limp.
But Baillet somehow perseveres, surprising everyone as he figures it all out—all the way to the explosive end.

The synopsis for this book is incredibly long, but I think the first line sums up the book, and just why it is right up my street. An historical murder based on real-life events.
I have been provided with an e-copy of The Irrationalist by Open Books at my request, and I really can’t wait to get stuck in! I love historical fiction, I love political intrigue… and I love a good old whodunit. Check, check, and check.
So guys, those are my reads for this month! What are you reading?
Rebecca mono

Book Review – Ekata: Fall of Darkness – Dominique Law

*** I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are completely my own***

Ekata

Goodreads – Ekata: Fall of Darkness

On Ekata, a utopian world where violence is unthinkable, Asher has been plagued with visions of death and darkness since childhood. On his eighteenth birthday he is confronted with a life-changing prophecy which tells of a threat not only to his world, but to Earth as well.

Alexis has always felt she doesn’t belong. When an extraordinary stranger appears on her doorstep, it raises more questions than answers. If everything she thought she knew about herself was a lie, who is the real Alexis? And how could she possibly be part of an ancient prophecy?

Through startling transformation and grief, the pair defy all expectations. But when everything changes, can Asher’s humanity survive? The fate of both worlds may depend upon it.

 

I don’t think there is any way I can particularly dress up this review. I am, after all, in the business of being honest so I’ll just come out with it.

Overall, I didn’t like this book at all. I’ll start with what redeeming qualities the book did have, which brought my rating of the book up from a 1 star to a 2 star review.

I liked the concept of the world of Ekata – a world without violence. The main point of conflict within the story is a man’s desire to prevent violence on Earth… but to do so he would remove the free-will of all people. I like how the morality of such an action is called into question and how this drives the resistance party.

The tale was also well written; even if I didn’t think all that much of the content of the story all the time, what was on the page was outlined clearly so that the story was easy to follow. This also proved useful because I found myself picking it up and putting it down quite regularly, but I wasn’t hindered by this at all. I also quite enjoyed the descriptions of nature and the world-building.

Inevitably, we were going to get to the parts I didn’t like… fairly quickly, unfortunately.

This book features so many unoriginal fantasy tropes that it is not even funny. I feel like I talk about this a lot, but is it too much to ask for a little originality? This book has the classic Good vs Evil, the inexperienced young one(s) exploring their Coming of Age to face-off against the veteran… and a quest to fulfil a prophecy in order to achieve all this, tied in a neat little package with a double bow. Oh, and there’s a host of magic and a unicorn to boot! Hooray!
To say I didn’t know that some of these elements were going to play a part would be a lie; I knew it was a prophesised ‘coming-of-age’ type tale. For me though, the straw that broke the camel’ back was the budding relationship between our two MC’s.

Now, I’m a girl and I’ve been a teenager, I know how all this raging-hormone stuff works. You break out in a ridiculous amount of spots (always on the worst day imaginable) and have more mood swings than hot dinners. I can hand on heart say that if a complete stranger arrived on my doorstep, turned my world on its head and was claiming that the fate of another world rested on my shoulders, I would slam the door, bolt it and call the police I would not even remotely consider how attractive he was. Call me frigid, soulless, or even a liar if you like, but I wouldn’t… given that this is pretty much the first thought that pops into our second MC’s head from the moment we meet her, I didn’t like or relate to Alexis at all.

Unfortunately, whilst a lot of the personality traits Alexis shows in the book are indeed present in young, angsty teenage girls, the only depth of character to this tempest of emotion is a love of horses… and there is just something about girls that love horses that just smacks of “spoilt brat”. There is a quote by Terry Pratchett that I aptly read only recently, which I think sums up the whole situation entirely:-

“There is a type of girl who, while incapable of cleaning her bedroom even at knife point, will fight for the privilege of being allowed to spend the day shovelling manure in a stable.”
-Terry Pratchett, Soul Music

Asher was more tolerable than Alexis, although nothing particularly grabbed me about his personality either. I wanted to read his chapter POV’s instead of Alexis’ because I didn’t hate his, not because I was looking forward to them.

My final bugbear about the book is, as chronology would suggest, the ending. Given the whole prophecy and the weight resting on Asher and Alexis’ shoulders, you would expect something to happen, right? It has so obviously been set up for a sequel, but it felt like I endured 400 pages for nothing of consequence to happen. I was left sorely disappointed.

So, ladies and gentlemen, to summarise – if you like reading about moody, insecure and overly-hormonal teenagers, spending every free moment not training to save the world fawning over each other, then this book is definitely for you! I have no problem with negative emotions in books, if it is written well and you are truly immersed with the character. If, however, you find yourself carrying their emotional baggage like an albatross around your neck, or find them just plain bad company like the last party guest that just won’t leave, it makes for very difficult reading.

This book was not my cup of tea at all, which is a shame.
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 8th April 2018

Happy Sunday!
How has everyone’s week been? Mine has been pretty good overall! It got off to the best start with a bank holiday too – what a shame!

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

Okay, a little optimistic perhaps! But not having to get up at 6:45am is a win – right?
I took the opportunity to publish my Reading List for April on Monday, which I have been looking forward to sharing with you. This month I am switching it up a little and instead of reading a mixture of ARC’s and traditionally published books… the intention was to give the ARC’s a wee break. Then I received an ARC I requested which changed the plan SLIGHTLY. Just a little bit, okay? I broke the ARC-only plan for March with Strange The Dreamer, so it’s all good!
Speaking of which, I published my review of this amazing book on Wednesday! I can’t wait until October for Muse of Nightmares! If you haven’t checked out my review yet, you can find a cheeky little link here.
 

Books Read


 
I finally finished reading Ekata: Fall of Darkness by Dominique Law at the beginning of this week. I mentioned in my previous Sunday Summary that I was struggling with this book. The situation of the relations between characters got a little better, enough to finish the book.
Next, I picked up Soul Music by Terry Pratchett. At the time of writing this post I am 74% through the book. I am enjoying the book, but I don’t think it is going to be one of my favourites of the series. That being said, there are some great quotes I have pulled out of this one. My favourite has to be this one:-

‘Glod Glodsson,’ said the dwarf. ‘You just play the harp?’
‘Anything with strings on it,’ said Imp. ‘But the harp is the queen of instruments, see.’
‘I can blow anything,’ said Glod.
‘Realllly?’ said Imp. He sought for some polite comment. ‘That must make you very popullar.’

Such is Pratchett’s humour. Sure, there are more sophisticated quotes about the nature of existence and suchlike, but when it comes down to it, it’s these quotes I find the funniest! All the quotes I come across on my Kindle are shared on Goodreads, so if you want to look at any others, you could read them there!
Lastly, I started my next audiobook this week. I am listening to The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. The story so far is both compelling and harrowing in equal measure. It is awful to think that people were actually forced to lived in concentration camps and were treated no better than cattle. Between this and The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas, a book I am reading later in the month, you can tell I enjoy historical fiction. It’s a morbid month in terms of subject matter!
 

Books Discovered


 
It’s a very Pratchett week! I received an e-mail from Bookbub to tell me that The Fifth Elephant (Book 24) of the series was on sale, so I bought it! I already know I’ll be reading it at some point, so it was a no-brainer!
The Foes Between Us by J M Robison is a pre-order. I was introduced to the author when I read The War Queen for her in exchange for a review! As I really enjoyed this book and I want to support her, I pre-ordered this next one!
 

Coming Up..

I listened to The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins back in February, so I will be sharing my thoughts on this audiobook with you on Wednesday! I am catching up with myself on the books/ebooks I am reading, so I am going to give myself some breathing room by reviewing this for this week!
Writing this post has inspired me to write another one, so later in the week I am going to share my Top 5 Terry Pratchett quotes from the books I have read so far!
Until next time!
Rebecca mono