Tag: fantasyst95

First Lines Friday – 14/06/2024

Last time I shared a First Lines Friday post I featured a non-fiction novel coming up on my TBR. For this post, I deliberately wanted to feature a recent fiction book I purchased by an author I’ve enjoyed re-reading recently.

I found this book at Waterstones unintentionally, but I loved the synopsis and I’m confident I’ll really enjoy the story. The opening lines below only reinforce that.

Let me share that with you now –


They kill my father first.

Shiny boots ring on the stairs as they march into our cell, four of them all in a pretty row. Blank faces and perfect skin, matte grey pistols in red, red hands. A beautiful man with golden hair says they’re here to execute us. No explanations. No apologies.

Father turns towards us, and the terror in his eyes breaks my heart to splinters. I open my mouth to speak to him, but I don’t know what I’ll say.

The bullets catch him in his back, and bloody flowers bloom on his chest. My sisters scream as the muzzles flash and the shadows dance, and the noise is so loud, I’m afraid I’ll never hear anything ever again.

 


Lifel1k3 – Jay Kristoff

Genre: Post apocalyptic fantasy

Pages: 417

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 01 Jun 2018


Goodreads – LIfel1k3

It’s just another day on the Scrap: lose the last of your credits at the WarDome, dodge the gangs and religious fanatics, discover you can destroy electronics with your mind, stumble upon the deadliest robot ever built…

When Eve finds the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend and her robotic sidekick in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, battle cyborg assassins, and scour abandoned megacities to save the ones she loves…and learn the dark secrets of her past.


My Thoughts…

I picked up this book entirely because it is written by Jay Kristoff and I have confidence in his writing. After looking at it for content for this First Lines Friday post, I may end up picking it up soon for a refreshing change.  

I’m intrigued by the post apocalyptic setting as this is something I have read in the past, but admittedly, I don’t read a lot of. Combine this with the evident tech that has a place in this world, and we’re in for an interesting mashup!

If I go onto enjoy this first because as much as I think I will, then what a shame that it’s the first part of a trilogy. I’ll just have to conclude the series, right?!

Do you like the sound of Lifel1k3? Have you enjoyed this First Lines Friday post?

 

signature

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Threads

Audiobook Review: Ordinary Heroes – Joseph Pfeifer

Ordinary Heroes by Joseph Pfeifer is a harrowing read for its subject matter. The 9/11 terror attack at the World Trade Centre is an event even I can just about recall seeing on TV. I wasn’t yet old enough to understand what terrorism was, but the significance of the event still shapes our lives today.

 

Ordinary Heroes – Joseph Pfeifer

Genre: Non-fiction /memoir

Pages: 256

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Portfolio

Publication Date: 07 Sept 2021

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


Goodreads –  Ordinary Heroes

From the first FDNY chief to respond to the 9/11 attacks, an intimate memoir and a tribute to those who died that others might live

When Chief Joe Pfeifer led his firefighters to investigate an odor of gas in downtown Manhattan on the morning of 9/11, he had no idea that his life was about to change forever. A few moments later, he watched as the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Pfeifer, the closest FDNY chief to the scene, spearheaded rescue efforts on one of the darkest days in American history.

Ordinary Heroes is the unforgettable and intimate account of what Chief Pfeifer witnessed at Ground Zero, on that day and the days that followed. Through his eyes, we see the horror of the attack and the courage of the firefighters who ran into the burning towers to save others. We see him send his own brother up the stairs of the North Tower, never to return. And we walk with him and his fellow firefighters through weeks of rescue efforts and months of numbing grief, as they wrestle with the real meaning of heroism and leadership.

This gripping narrative gives way to resiliency and a determination that permanently reshapes Pfeifer, his fellow firefighters, NYC, and America. Ordinary Heroes takes us on a journey that turns traumatic memories into hope, so we can make good on our promise to never forget 9/11.

 

My Thoughts

If you are looking for a detailed and personal account of one of the chief firefighters on the ground during 9/11 then Ordinary Heroes is the perfect book to pick up. Starting from the beginning of that fateful day, Joe recounts his perspective of the disaster unfolding and the fallout of the terror attack.

Ordinary Heroes is just one perspective in a huge event in recent history. However, it is a prominent perspective and very personal and insightful. I have watched several documentaries about the event but never have I come across this kind of perspective before. Admittedly, I had also never really realised how long the aftermath of the event was felt by New York more locally, but also the world. I was only a young child when this happened. As an adult I have taken an interest in the subject from time to time, but there is still much I do not know. I have no doubt that there is much that will never be known about that day and the lives of the people affected.

Ordinary Heroes honours those who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It also proudly gives thanks to the innumerable service men and women in every emergency services department who sacrificed and in some cases lost their lives trying to protect others. I already have a lot of respect for people like Joe who put themselves in the firing line and risk their lives. After reading Ordinary Heroes, that’s even more the case.


Summary

If you’re looking for a non-fiction book that memorialises a prominent period of history in a respectful manner, together with unique insight, Ordinary Heroes is a book I strongly recommend. I thoroughly enjoyed the perspective and I learned a lot that I didn’t know previously.

It’s not the easiest of reads (or listen if you go for the audio as I did), but it’s worth it!

 

signature

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Threads

Monthly TBR – June 2024

Good afternoon fellow readers and welcome to one of my favourite posts of the month – my monthly TBR. It’s a post of future plans and looking ahead at exciting books coming up on my immediate reading list!

This month I have a few carryovers (current reads and ones I didn’t get to in May) but also some new titles to feature.

So, shall we get into the details of my monthly TBR?

 

Mood Reads


The Long Earth

The first book I feature on this reading list is actually one I finished last night.

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter was a carryover from May as I hadn’t quite finished the book by the end of the month. Ironically, I have just finished it. So whilst I did technically read some of it in June, I’ll only be talking about it in this week’s Sunday Summary post.

I enjoyed this introduction to the series and I’m curious to see where the later books pick up from this first novel. I’ve gathered the scope gets quite a bit bigger just on the titles alone. I have those books in e-book format so I can pick them up whenever I’m ready!


Terry Pratchett: A Life with Footnotes 

My second carryover from May that is working progress is Terry Pratchett’s biography, A Life With Footnotes.

At the moment I am around 50% through this audiobook, so I’m well on the way to completing this before the end of June. I’ve already enjoyed the first half of this audio, looking at Terry‘s early life, career and establishing himself as an author. We will inevitably move onto the less pleasant side of his later years, his Alzheimer’s diagnosis and ultimate passing, soon. I’m still looking forward to listening to this despite the difficult topic.

I admit I’m curious to see if Terry’s Alzheimer’s affected him in ways that are familiar to me through a family member suffering with the disease also. I’m also interested to see what impact it had on his career. I know in the end he was dictating his books to Rob, but also what other potential impacts there were that we haven’t talked about yet.


Master of Sorrows

I have a couple more carryovers from my May TBR, but these are books I did not get to start.

Are you surprised that once again, Master of Sorrows has been kicked down the line? Well, not anymore! It’s the first physical book I am going to pick up in June now that I’ve finished The Long Earth and nothing. will. stop. me. I have been trying to read this book since February – I’ve waited long enough!


Obsidio

The final carryover from my May TBR is Obsidio by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.

Obsidio is the last book in the Illuminae files trilogy. I want to get to it to both finish the series, but also see how the two storylines we’ve enjoyed so far intertwine.

I anticipate Obsidio will be a relatively short read. Although it’s a good few hundred pages, the book is written in mixed media format. It has a lot of imagery so whilst there are some pages of solid text, there are plenty where there are not. I’ve really enjoyed into the world of mixed media from a variety of genres, but I do particularly like it in the science-fiction young adult series. It makes it very approachable to all readers and especially so to those who may be picking it up for the first time.


The Other People

Mum has been making her way through books written by C.J. Tudor after I introduced her to The Chalk Man and The Taking of Annie Thorne. She has recommended The Other People to me as her favourite book so far. Naturally, I want to see what it’s about!

Especially as I’ve not dabbled in the genre for a little while, I’m looking forward to seeing this book is about. This synopsis sounds as good as ever and I trust my mum’s judgement that I will really enjoy this one as she did!


Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots

Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots

In an effort to keep up with my non-fiction reading this year, I’ll be picking up the e-book Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots. This has been on my reading list since 2017 so is long overdue a read. At under 300 pages, this is also really achievable for me to pick up and make light work of.

I’ve already started this e-book as it was a convenient one to pick up after finishing a physical read of The Long Earth. I want to read on my Kindle for a bit! Aside from audiobooks, I’ve picked up a lot of physical read lately.

In just the half hour I started this last night, I am already well into the first chapter and intrigued as to where this book will take us.

If you are unfamiliar, this is a non-fiction book about how treatment for individuals in the UK and Ireland with mental health issues has changed in the last 200 or so years. By all accounts, we start this book with a lot to be desired in terms of treating people humanely and with dignity.


You Coach You

The last book on this monthly TBR is also a non-fiction and a book I intend to pick up via audio after finishing Terry Pratchett’s biography. The book is You Coach You.

I want to pick up this book for a couple of reasons. The first of these is that coaching is a skill I’m working on personally this year. I totally understand that not everyone is interested in personal development, but I’m still young and haven’t lost interest yet at the very least. On a serious note, I’m the kind of person who believes there is always more to learn. I can always improve.

So, coaching is a skill I want to work on. The other reason I want to pick up You Coach You in particular is because I listen to Helen and Sarah‘s podcast, Squiggly Careers. I already love their content and their style, so picking up their book makes infinite sense! They also narrate the audiobook, so I know exactly what I’m getting into when I start listening to this.

I can’t wait!


Summary

With a few shorter books on my monthly TBR, and a plan to pick up Master of Sorrows as a priority, I have confidence that June is going to be a productive reading month!

That’s all for my Monthly TBR post.

What are you reading?

 

signature

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Threads

Monthly Wrap-Up – May 2024

Welcome readers to another monthly wrap-up post! How are we at the end of May already? If you love motorsport and enjoy the TT (which is ongoing at the moment locally), then hats off to you. As a local driver though, I’m less than a fan of the disruption and increased traffic…

As usual, I didn’t get to all the books I planned to read in May. From my May TBR, Master of Sorrows and Obsidio remain yet untouched. Soon friends I promise! However, I have managed to read a great selection, so without further ado, let’s take a look!

 

Books Read


The Icepick Surgeon

As of my last monthly wrap-up post, I was 70% into the audiobook of The Icepick Surgeon. In truth, it didn’t take me long to finish this audio. With just a few hours left until the conclusion, drove in and made all haste to get to the conclusion.

I really enjoyed this historical science novel and the variety of topics featured throughout. From ancient history through to modern day, the book features numerous famous (or infamous) individuals throughout history and the ways they have shaped science for good or ill.


F*ck No

I picked up this audiobook by Sarah Knight on the recommendation of my piercer, Lindsay. As someone who struggles to say no sometimes, particularly at work, I thought picking this up would be a useful way of getting myself familiar with ways in which I can set expectations and not just agree to everything.

At just over five hours long, this is a really quick listen and for anyone looking for real practical advice, I strongly recommend this book. Sarah‘s funny stories about her own real life scenari(no)s really add to the narrative to give it a personal touch.


Empire of the Damned

I picked up Empire of the Damned this month after just finishing Empire of the Vampire. I read that first book of the series once again as a reminder of what has happened to date. Plus I also had a new special edition copy, so why not?

Empire of the Damned took us on a storyline that I didn’t expect from the first book, but in a way that I really enjoyed. One of the big selling points for these books is the narrative style, and it is present once again in this book, but with a twist. I enjoyed the second and challenging perspective we get as it adds a lot of dimension to the characters we have initially met through Gabriel’s retelling. No names and no spoilers because where is the fun in that?

The only sad thing about finishing this book is that I’m now going to have to wait for the sequel, and God knows how long that will take. It’s a good job I have plenty of books to keep me going in the meantime, right?


Terry Pratchett: A Life with Footnotes

Audiobooks feature heavily in this monthly wrap-up post because I spent a good deal of time listening to them this month. I started A Life with Footnotes earlier this month and as of this monthly wrap-up post, I am about 50% into the audio.

In this first half of Terry Pratchett biography, we are looking at his early life and career. From school days and the influence of his parents to starting his career in journalism and in writing, we’ve already covered so much about young Terry‘s life.

I’m interested to see how the story progresses and really learn about the life of one of my favourite authors of all time. I know I will struggle to listen to the end. His ultimately fatal illness and the recounting of final days will resonate quite strongly with me on a personal level. My gran also suffered with Alzheimer’s. However, I am looking forward to it on some level as well. I watched the documentaries on BBC and enjoyed those.


The Long Earth

Another Terry Pratchett related novel that I have picked up in May is The Long Earth, co-authored with Stephen Baxter. As of this monthly wrap-up I am 258 pages in, or 65% through this science-fiction book. The timing of picking up the science-fiction novel was apt as I had just started listening to the section of his biography which talks about his attendance of science-fiction conventions and his love of the genre.

Initially I had reservations about picking up this book as I have had less success with books he has co-authored in the past. However, as I’ve gone into this one with only a little knowledge and sample of Stephen Baxter’s writing, it hasn’t impacted my enjoyment in a negative way. Quite the opposite, I think their’s is a fantastic combination; we get elements of humour from Terry but there’s still a good deal of science-fiction behind it. So far I’m really enjoying this physical read and as it’s a relatively short one, I’m hoping to get this finished in the next few days!


Summary

I’ve enjoyed spending a month reading books that I have been looking forward to for a little while. It’s been fun to focus on the backlist and make my way through a highly anticipated sequel, as well as return to and about one of my favourite authors.

Have you read anything this month? Do you have any recommendations for me?

 

signature

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Threads

Discussion Post: How to Make More Time to Read

Today’s discussion post is a topic that’s been on my mind for the last few months – how to make more time to read. It’s shaped a change of my reading habits and has helped juggle my favourite hobby at a time when I’ve experienced a lot of change.

One of the frequent comments I hear when I talk about my reading and blogging as a hobby is “I wish I had time to read.” Well, I hate to break it to you guys… but I’m pretty sure you do. Either that, or it isn’t enough of a priority for you to make more time to read.

I said what I said.

And I can tell you this from a perspective of someone who now has a lot more to juggle. I started dating in February and now suddenly a lot of my free time is spent either with my boyfriend, or catching up on all the necessary things I’m not doing when I’m spending time with Shane.

So, if you want to make time to read but have a busy lifestyle, here are a few tips from someone who’s had to have a long, hard think and implement some changes herself. Here’s my best advice on how to make more time to read! 


Make a Habit: Set Aside Regular Time

It seems obvious, but if you aren’t going to make time to do a task, whether that’s necessary or recreational, then it’s not going to get done. Setting aside time for reading is a life changer. Previously I used to do most of my reading in the evenings at home. However, that time is largely taken up. So, now I find I’m doing more of my reading during my lunch hour at work.

Sure, sometimes I need to pop to the shops or do something else. However, I try to set aside at least 20 minutes of my lunch hour every day to pick up my book. There are plenty of days I don’t intend on going out and so can use pretty much the full hour at my leisure. If I do have to go and run an errand, then there’s always audiobooks to keep me company on the way!


Reading Format: Physical, e-book or audio

In the last few months I’ve discovered that I have less time to sit down and read in the same way I used to. With this in mind, I have started listening to audiobooks more to capitalise on time I’m on my own, but doing other things that prevent me from sitting down with a book or my Kindle.

Whether it’s whilst I’m driving to and from work, or doing housework, audiobooks have given me the chance to keep making progress with my reading list whilst not compromising on the daily schedule.

Different formats work best for different people and only you can be the judge of what’s best for you. Try them out and see which helps you make more time to read.


The Books: Read What Interests You

It may sound daft, but one key piece of advice I would give to anyone looking to read more often is to try and pick up books you know you will enjoy. As an avid reader, I have spent my time picking up books that I have wanted to read, but also picking up new or previously undiscovered reads for review purposes, for example.

Whilst I have fulfilled some blog tour obligations that I signed up for at the beginning of the year, I have almost stopped signing up for them as of right now. This is so I can dedicate my time to my backlist.

I’m not saying I won’t sign up for any more, but I will be more selective. For example, I will continue with blog tours for authors I have already discovered and feature repeatedly. At the same time, I’m less likely to take on anything completely new as I prefer to read my backlist (of 200-odd books).

Even then, I may start looking at this list with a new pair of eyes. I’m always prepared to stretch myself, but I will be keeping my efforts to books I genuinely want to pick up in the moment and not trying to force anything. I guess what I’m saying is I’m going to try and be more of a mood reader. That way I’m not setting expectations that result in a reading slump. I won’t have to force myself to make more time to read if I’m actively looking forward to it in the first place. The same goes for you! 

I hope these tips help all you aspiring readers to make more time to read and pick up your next book!

What book have you always wanted to read but not quite got to?

 

signature

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Threads

Top Ten Tuesday – Author’s I’d Love a New Book From

In today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, we explore my Top Ten Author’s I’d Love a New Book From.

For some of the authors featured in this Top Ten Tuesday, I’ve read a lot of their books, if not all. For others, I’ve barely scratched the surface but love them so intently that I’ll always take more content from them.

Do you agree with any on this list? Let’s take a look and find out!


George R.R. Martin

There will never be enough George R.R. Martin books on this planet for me. However, at a minimum I’ll settle for the final books of his A Song of Ice and Fire series (A Game of Thrones).

I’d be gutted if these never made it out into the world!


Patrick Rothfuss

Amongst other readers, I’ve waited a long time for the conclusion to Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicles. I understand that all great things take time, but we have waited over 13 years since the last full novel as of this Top Ten Tuesday post…


Brandon Sanderson

As one of my favourite authors, there isn’t necessarily anything specific I’m looking for here. Again, there will never be enough Sanderson books on the planet. I’ve rated every single book I’ve read 5 stars… the man can literally do no wrong at the moment.

I’ll always gratefully receive a guaranteed loved read!


Jay Kristoff

Jay Kristoff is a great writer of darker fantasy. From kick-ass assassin’s to vampire hunters and spunky teenage protagonists, he can do it all.

Jay Kristoff is also an author that I can go back to again and again with all comfort. I’m currently enjoying the sequel to Empire of the Vampire and having a great time. More of the same please Mr Kristoff, thanks in advance!


Terry Pratchett

Unfortunately there will never be any more works from the legend that is Terry Pratchett. The good news for me is that as of this post, I still have more than half his books to read!

So far I’m 20/41 into his Discworld series and I haven’t touched some of his other works at all yet. The Long Earth, which is also on May’s TBR is one such book. Hopefully not for long though!


J. R.R. Tolkien

I love The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’ve also read The Hobbit, and could read these on loop. The descriptions can be a bit long-winded, but there is little I can critique in these works.

I have no doubt that The Lord of the Rings is a series I’ll go back to. In fact, I bought a bind-up of all the books last year exactly for that purpose. I still haven’t read the Silmarillion, so that’s something fresh to look forward to!


Stephen King

I’m not much for horror in general, but Stephen King is an exception I will always make. I’ve enjoyed both his horrors and his fantasy cross-overs. His is a collection I’ll be reading over the course of my lifetime and the larger it gets, the better!

 

Susanne Collins

Three words. The. Hunger. Games.

I would love to read more about this world and explore more detail of the oppression and hope that drives the conflict in these books!


Laini Taylor

I haven’t read Laini Taylor for a long time. In truth her target audience is probably a little younger than me. However, I love her characters and conflicts in both Strange the Dreamer and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

I’d always read more in these universes, but I’d equally be willing to give others a try as well.


Scott Lynch

I just read that there is meant to be a sequel to Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series. I adored these as a teenager!

When this gets published I’ll have to re-read the trilogy so far to refresh myself on events to date before picking up this sequel. I’m gutted obviously but I’ll struggle on 😅


So, here are my Top Ten Author’s I’d love to see more books from.

Do you agree with any of my choices in this Top Ten Tuesday? Which author would you like to see more books by?

 

signature

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Threads

Book Review: Royal Assassin – Robin Hobb

I discovered Robin Hobb after numerous recommendations by my friend Rachael. I’d given Assassin’s Apprentice an informal try a couple of times on my phone but never started reading it seriously until June 2022. Then, I was hooked!

Since then I’ve read 6 of the 16 books that make up the wider Realm of the Elderlings series and I’ll soon pick up the 7th. I’m especially looking forward to that book as we revisit the characters from the first trilogy that I feature in this review.

In today’s book review, I’m going back to the second book of the series and to the trials and tribulations of FitzChivalry Farseer in his relatively new and turbulent place at the royal court.

Shall we get to it?

 

Royal Assassin – Robin Hobb

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 648

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 01 April 1996

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads –  Royal Assassin

Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.

Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.

 

My Thoughts

 

Plot

In Royal Assassin we are once again thrown into the political intrigues of the royal court. Whilst Verity is determined to do all he can to save those in the Duchy from raiders, Regal schemes to better his position and influence.

Fitz is wise to his scheming and the threat he poses but has little influence in protecting those Regal would gladly step on in his quest for power. That doesn’t necessarily stop him, however. With those he loves at court, Fitz will intervene to try and protect his newest and dearest. That’s his nature after all.

I loved the angle of the plot progression from book one. Already Assassin’s Apprentice set out a world from which a complex and well developed plot could emerge. In Royal Assassin, Robin Hobb builds on that exponentially.

 

Setting

I enjoyed returning to the familiar surrounds of Buck and Buckkeep. Whilst we do have the opportunity to roam a little further through Verity and the shared histories and geography interspersed in the narrative, we do so from this safe and well trodden ground.

For someone who has no interest in politics in real life, it is an aspect I really enjoy in novels. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. In this second instalment, we really get into familial dynamics and political relations. It’s a fun aspect of the narrative to explore in a world in which there is far more going on, yet still takes centre stage.

 

Characters

I love the characters in this first series, but particularly the main character. We find ourselves investing in Fitz having spent all the first book watching him grow from a boy to a young man in an environment where he isn’t exactly the safest. That doesn’t change in this book either…

One of my favourite things about Robin Hobb’s writing is that you are never quite sure what will happen to your favourite characters. She isn’t exactly known for being the kindest, and so we remain in constant tension as to where the story will progress and what will happen to those within.

Events in the second book of the series don’t exactly treat anyone kindly, but especially Fitz. That said, executed very well and I really enjoyed his story arc in this novel.

But of course, he is not the only character. We have already come to identify a lot of the other main players as a result of the first book in series, Assassin‘s Apprentice. This book really builds upon that first one, but at the same time we get to see different facets and more complex storylines allowing characters to develop and win a place in our hearts.

 

Narrative Style

I wouldn’t describe Robin Hobb books to you as fast reads. On the contrary, I find them very slow burn, but interesting and detailed.

Some books I can read quite quickly even when they have more complex storylines. That’s not the case with Robin, but I don’t take that as a detractor. On the contrary, they are books to take your time over and really think into the detail and characters with. Royal Assassin is much the same. There is a lot going on in this book and over the 600 odd pages of the narrative, we get to explore a lot of different relationships, events and set the scene for the wider world in general.

 

Summary

If you read Assassin’s Apprentice and are looking for an equally promising, detailed and fun political fantasy to sink your teeth into… you’ve got the right book! If you haven’t read Assassin’s Apprentice yet, well, what are you waiting for?

The Realm of the Elderlings is a fantastic world to dive into, so why wait?

 

signature

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Threads

Monthly TBR – May 2024

Hello fellow readers and welcome to my Monthly TBR! In today’s post, I’ll be sharing the books I hope to pick up over the month of May. I’m looking forward to all these books too! Now that I don’t have any reading obligations ongoing, I have free rein on every single book I pick up this month, and in what order.

I have a newly released sequel, a last in series, a new fantasy series, a science-fiction collab and two non-fiction audiobooks to share with you.

Curious as to what I’m picking up this month? Let’s get into this monthly TBR so you can find out!

 

Mood Reads

 

Empire of the Damned

After some deliberation, I’ve decided to start immediately after finishing Empire of the Vampire by picking up the sequel.

I’ve been looking forward to this read for a long time. It is rare that I pre-order books ahead of publication. However, Empire of the Damned was an exception! Now I’m caught up and refreshed on events of the previous book, I’m going to dive straight into this sequel.

As of this post, I’m already 50 pages into the book and intrigued as to where events are going to take us. It’s not the kind of story I expected to play out based on biases of the characters established in book 1. However, there is promise for conflict and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in!

 

Master of Sorrows

I’ve been trying to get to Master of Sorrows for a few months now, and I’ve decided May is THE month. I have no other reading obligations, so it’s going to be the next book I pick up after Empire of the Damned. I’m perhaps a little ambitious picking up two longer physical reads this month, but I am nothing if not up for a challenge.

I originally drew this book out of my TBR Jar at the end of January, with the intention of picking up the book in February. Three months late is better than never, right?

 

The Long Earth

The Long Earth has been on my reading list since February 2018. It’s been on my radar to pick up anyway, but I just so happened to get a loan copy from our former CEO at work as he has just read the book himself. He’s also a fan of Terry Pratchett.

My experience so far of books co-authored by Terry Pratchett are not the best. However, that’s usually because of the other authors influence rather than Terry’s. I’m not going to let that put me off a new combination though. My dad is a fan of Stephen Baxter, so I want to try it from that perspective as well.

 

Obsidio

Although a slightly thicker book, my experience of the Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman so far is that they are very quick reads. Having read the first two books of the trilogy, I want to pick up Obsidio in May in order to mark the series as completed.

I also believe this book picks up both storylines from the earlier books and brings the characters from each storyline together. I have no idea how that’s going to work and whether there’s going to be any personality clashes, but I’m excited to see what happens!

 

Terry Pratchett: A Life with Footnotes

The first of my audiobook listens planned for this month is Terry Pratchett’s biography. If it wasn’t already clear I was a fan of his writing in picking up The Long Earth, the fact that I’ve read just under half of his 41 book Discworld series should leave no room for doubt.

I’ve watched a documentary about his life before and I’ve been fascinated by his life story. Now I want to hear that in his ‘own’ words as much as possible. This book isn’t an autobiography as Terry never got to complete it himself. Instead, his assistant Rob Wilkins picked up the mantle to finish it into the biography it is today.

 

F*ck No

The second and shorter audiobook I intend to pick up in May is called F*ck No by Sarah Knight. It’s a book that was recommended to me fairly recently and I’m interested in the content of the book. If I get on with it, then the author Sarah has an extensive collection of other self-help books that I would look to pick up as well.

I’ve already sampled and bought the audio as that’s a big make or break thing for me when picking up a book like that. If I can’t get on with the narrative style, then it’s a hard pass. However, I like what I’ve heard so far so I’m looking forward to listening to it in earnest!

 

Summary

As always, I don’t give myself much slack with my reading lists. However, I’m hopeful that I will get through the majority of this monthly TBR. Although some of the books are a little chunkier, some will be easier to read because of their format; mixed media and using audio when I can’t physically pick up a book are helpful to keep pace.

What are you planning to read?  Have you read any of the books on this monthly TBR? Do you have anything ongoing at the moment that you would recommend?

 

signature

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Threads

Monthly Wrap-Up – April 2024

Good evening readers and welcome to my monthly wrap-up post for April! Somehow we’re a third of the way through the year already. Where has that gone?

April has been a good month. I’m still reading less than I did at the beginning of the year and I still have books I didn’t get to. However, I’ve read a number of great books over the month.

Shall we take a look?

 

Books Read

 

Empire of the Vampire

Empire of the Vampire is a book I ended up picking up on and off throughout the month. I started off at the beginning of April on page 171. At the end of the month, I finished off around 530 pages in. 

Empire of the Vampire has been a slow burn read. I’ve read the book before, but it’s been good to revisit the story ahead of picking up the sequel. In truth, I’m slower with re-reads as I don’t have the motivation to find out what’s happening. Even if I don’t remember all the details, I have a rough idea of what’s happened.

I’ve enjoyed reading this book again. I’m not generally one for vampire stories, but Jay Kristoff has a way of making stretching the boundaries of my reading. Whilst I am taking this into May, I hope to finish reading this book soon! As of this monthly wrap-up, I have just 100 pages to go.

 

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

The first audiobook I picked up in April was Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Julie Smith. I knew I wanted to go back to non-fiction audio as in the past I have been far quicker at listening to it. In truth, I find the genre easier to listen to than read, and vice versa.

From techniques on how to handle stress and anxiety to grief, the book touches on a broad range of emotions and how we can help ourselves to identify and try to self-regulate. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? excels as both a theoretical and practical guide. Even if you wouldn’t describe yourself as somebody who struggles with their mental health, there are still tips in here that anyone can benefit from. We all experience emotions or various intensities.

 

The Maiden of Florence

The Maiden of Florence is a historical fiction novel I picked up in April as part of a blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. I was intrigued by the book for its ties to a powerful Italian family in the period, the Medici’s.

It’s every bit as much a work of feminist fiction as it is historical. Protagonist Guilia spends her life in the power of men. This is her story, but also in part the stories of many women in the period who had little autonomy in their lives.

If you’re interested in picking up the book, here’s my full review so you can check it out for yourself!

 

The Icepick Surgeon

The Icepick Surgeon is also an ongoing read as of publishing this post. I only have a few hours left of the audio, however.

I’ve found this an interesting read. It’s another non-fiction novel, so appeals to me as an audiobook. I also love how it touches on different topics and time periods throughout history. A lot of the chapters interlink well, which is a nice touch.

For anyone who wants to take away any further reading, there is plenty on offer too. Sam is clearly well researched in the subject as he offers his website content, podcasts and other media as extra reading for anyone interested in a particular subject!

As of drafting this monthly wrap-up I’m 70% into the audio, with about 3 hours left of listening time to completion. Broadly I’ve been doing well for making time for audiobooks, so I imagine this won’t take long to wrap-up.

 

Summary

I’ve been taking my time over a chunky read this month, meaning the book count is a little less than usual. However, I’ve had a great time picking up the books I have, and that is ultimately what matters!

What have you been reading in the last month? Is there anything you would recommend to me?

 

signature

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Threads

Blog Tour Review and GIVEAWAY: The Maiden of Florence – Katherine Mezzacappa

I picked up the blog tour of The Maiden of Florence as I love the historical setting and implied feminist perspective in the narrative. In that respect, the book has lived up to expectation!

As always, thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and to author Katherine Mezzacappa for organising this latest tour.

Before we get to my thoughts on the book, here are the details!

 

The Maiden of Florence – Katherine Mezzacappa

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 336

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Fairlight Books

Publication Date:  18 Apr 2024

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – The Maiden of Florence

‘My defloration was talked about in all the courts of Europe. The Prince boasted of his prowess, even as preparations were being made for his wedding, as boldly as if he had ridden across that causeway with bloodstained sheet tied to his lance.’
1584, Italy: Twenty-year-old Giulia expects she will live and die incarcerated as a silk weaver within the walls of her Florentine orphanage, where she has never so much as glimpsed her own face. This all changes with the visit of the Medici family’s most trusted advisor, promising her a generous dowry and a husband if she agrees to a small sacrifice that will bring honour and glory to her native city.
Vincenzo Gonzaga, libertine heir to the dukedom of Mantua, wants to marry the Grand-Duke of Tuscany’s eldest daughter, but the rumours around his unconsummated first marriage must be silenced first. Eager for a dynastic alliance that will be a bulwark against the threat of Protestant heresy beyond the Alps, the Pope and his cardinals turn a blind eye to a mortal sin.
A powerful #MeToo story of the Renaissance, based on true events.

 

Purchase Link – Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts

Plot

We start with a young girl called Guilia, who is cloistered with other orphans for most of her young life. Suddenly she is taken away from that life, lied to and thrust into the political machinations of some of the most powerful men in Italy.

Politics is obviously a key driver in the plot, but far from overwhelming. The perspective is far more personal rather than looking at the broad view. I have enjoyed reading the perspective as is, but I would also have been happy to get a little more detail on the political landscape of the time given the influence on the plot. I know the influence of the Medici’s from history and other sources, but exploration of them is, in my opinion, pretty light touch in this book.

 

Setting

One of the main reasons I wanted to pick up The Maiden of Florence was because of the setting. I have read a limited number of books in this setting previously, but not many. I’m always looking to push my boundaries and try new things!

It’s interesting to explore the setting from the perspectives we see in this book. First we pick up the story from Guilia’s perspective. Having lived a sheltered life throughout childhood, her emergence into the world gives us an awestruck and naïve take on the setting. It gives readers who are unfamiliar with the setting a perspective they can relate to and learn along the way with.

Later there is a second perspective, and from them we get some context of the backdrop and circumstances that have led to events so far. Whilst the majority of the book is from Guilia’s viewpoint, this second perspective is valuable in its contribution to the overall story!

 

Characters

the Maiden of Florence is very much a character driven tale. Guilia, and her life in the hands of more powerful men are the feature. With very little autonomy over her life, she is a victim of society.

Guilia is a complex character in that she goes through so much throughout this narrative. She is taken advantaged of, treated life cattle. She experiences joy and loss and heartache. We are with her for every step of the ride, and it is an emotional one!

Make no mistake, this is Guilia’s story. Although there are plenty of supporting and very influential characters in the book, Guilia is the focus. At the same time, it is also very much a story highlighting the rights (or lack of) for women in this time.

 

Narrative Style

As the book changed perspective a few times, I found it helpful that the book is split into sections to make this clear. The chapters are also relatively short, making this very readable even for short periods of time. That said, I sat and read this book for hours at a time, so it’s binge-worthy too!

The way in which Guilia’s tale is told makes it approachable for all readers. I went into it with some knowledge of the main players and setting. It’s not necessary however. Even if you went in blind, events and the narrative are easy to follow.

 

Summary

If you are looking for an introduction to historical fiction as a genre, or even just a new time period, The Maiden of Florence is a great place to start!

It’s a compelling character driven story that emphasises how treatment of women at the time cast its shadow on society, as well as the women themselves.

 

Author Bio

Katherine Mezzacappa is an Irish writer of mainly historical fiction, currently living in Italy. She has published several novels under pen names with publishers Bonnier Zaffre and eXtasy. She works as a manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy. Katherine reviews for Historical Novel Society’s quarterly journal and is one of the organisers of the Society’s 2022 UK conference. In her spare time she volunteers with a used book charity of which she is a founder member.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: https://twitter.com/katmezzacappa
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katherinemezzacappafiction/
https://katherinemezzacappa.ie/

 

Giveaway!

Giveaway to Win a vintage postcard, early 1900s, of the babies from the façade of the Innocenti orphanage. (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 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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494586/