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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good morning everyone! Today brings my second blog tour post of the month and I am pleased to feature Psychotopia by R. N. Morris. The tour has been organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources; I’ve been provided with a copy of the e-book for the purposes of giving an honest review. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts, but first, here is a little about the book: –
A game for the times we live – and die – in. Enter Psychotopia, a dark new dystopian novel from the author of the acclaimed Silas Quinn mysteries.
PSYCHOTOPIA, LEVEL ONE. Create your own boutique psychopath, then deceive, manipulate and be ruthless, spreading mayhem and destruction to reach the next levels.
It’s the computer game for our times. After all, the amount of crazy in the world is increasing. Senseless violence on the streets is becoming the norm. Can Dr Arbus’s ground-breaking device identify and neutralize psychopaths before it’s too late? In this increasingly dysfunctional world, surely Callum standing by Aimee after her devastating encounter with Charlie is proof that real love and goodness can still win in a world that’s increasingly rotten . . . Or can it?
Psychotopia is a work of speculative fiction in which society is filled with psychopaths. The narrative follows select individuals, some psychopathic and some not. Through their lives, we experience the indefinite change in society from our own and consider the consequences.
The perspective that has the most influence on my interpretation of the book is the police officer, Rick. His contributions to the book are primarily retrospective to the main storyline. As he also opens and closes the book with his thoughts on all that has happened. Consequently, the story feels less like the action-packed novel the synopsis indicates it will be and rather more philosophical. It’s not a criticism because I still enjoyed the book and the overall story. It is just told a little differently!
One of the philosophical elements I drew from the book is the influence of games on people’s minds. Can one person’s vision become media that alters another’s perspective? There are numerous debates about possible links between video games and violence. Nothing has been proven though. When a creeper blew up my ground-level spider spawner, I was pretty damn bitter. It was only 50 or so blocks away from base as well! I didn’t get violent as a result though. I have to think Minecraft isn’t quite in the league of Psychotopia, for my own sanity’s sake…
Still, having access to viewing and instigating negative behaviour in games may alter perspective over time. It’s a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” argument really, but I think about stuff like that. I’m an excellent debater… (at least in my own head).
Unusually, I found that chapters with different characters are written in different persons. I thought it an inconsistency at first, but it is done quite deliberately. I also enjoyed the nuance of chapters about the game development being issued as ‘circulars’. It serves well to break up the narrative and add some informal, conversational (and twisted) ideas into play.
Author Bio –
R. N. Morris is the author of ten novels. The latest is PSYCHOTOPIA, published 31 October, 2018.
A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia. He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award (as the CWA Gold Dagger was briefly known). A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger.
Giveaway – Win 1 x Signed Hardback Copy of Pyschotopia (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
Today marks the first stop on the blog tour for Life, and Other Dreams by Richard Dee. The tour has been organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and I am delighted to be taking part! I’ve been provided with a copy of the e-book for the purposes of giving an honest review. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts, but first, here is a little about the book: –
Rick lives here on Earth now, with Cath. His life is boring, writing adverts for cat food and exotic holidays. When he’s asleep, he dreams vividly.
In his dreams, he lives as Dan, spending his time with his wife Vanessa. They live six-hundred years in the future, half a galaxy away. They’re explorers, searching for valuable minerals on Ecias, an alien paradise.
Dan has no dreams about Rick’s life, he lives on Ecias, loves his life and Vanessa.
When the two worlds overlap, Rick starts to question what is real. Events in his waking and sleeping lives are mirrored, similar people inhabit both and coincidences mount up. Then disaster strikes in each world at the same time. In his dreams, Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, after one coincidence too many, Cath thinks that Rick’s dreams are hiding an affair and leaves him.
Is Rick going crazy, or can he be living in two places, in two times, at once? If not, then which one of them is the reality? Will one life carry on when the other is on hold?
Richard Dee’s fast-paced, edgy science fiction -cum- psychological thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page!
Life and Other Dreams is an extremely approachable sci-fi psychological thriller. I would never have expected the two genres to gel as well as they do. I enjoy sci-fi books, but I confess it is the genre (of those that I “do read”) that I pick up the least. By no means am I a science geek, but that doesn’t matter. The concept of life on another planet and in a different time zone is simple and brilliant.
Two identities. Two completely separate lives. Rick and Dan exist in the other’s dreams – but where do the lines between the subconscious and reality lie? Rick lives a seemingly normal life, but Dan lives on another planet hundreds of years in the future. He and Vanessa are part of a small community colonising the planet, scouting for useful materials. The description of the unique landscape and the advancements in technology imagined are truly fantastic. More importantly to my mind, they are believable. No part of this new world feels forced or farfetched and consequently unimaginable. That can be a real deal-breaker with sci-fi, at least for me. However, I felt as much at home on Ecias as with Rick’s life on humble Earth.
It’s hard to tell if Dan and Rick are their own individual or in fact the same person, just living in different circumstances (or just the other person’s head). Each influences the other. They seem irrevocably bound together, but how or why are the intriguing questions borne from the narrative. This psychological thriller element sets Life, and Other Dreams apart from any other book I have read to date – for all the right reasons!
The pace of the novel and regular changes of perspective keep the narrative fresh. I found myself avidly devouring each chapter, desperate to find out what happens next for each of these men. They each have their own separate struggles in their own worlds, making the conflicts in the plot twice as exciting, and telling myself “just one more chapter” so much easier.
As to what happens next, we’ll just have to wait for the next instalment – Wake Me Up.
Author Bio –
Richard Dee is a native of Brixham in Devon. He left Devon when he was in his teens and settled in Kent. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986.
Coming ashore to be with his growing family, he used his sea-going knowledge in several jobs, working as a Marine Insurance Surveyor and as Dockmaster at Tilbury, before becoming a Port Control Officer in Sheerness and then at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich.
In 1994 he was head-hunted and offered a job as a Thames Estuary Pilot. In 1999 he transferred to the Thames River Pilots, where he regularly took vessels of all sizes through the Thames Barrier and upriver as far as HMS Belfast and through Tower Bridge. In all, he piloted over 3,500 vessels in a 22-year career with the Port of London Authority.
Richard is married with three adult children and three grandchildren.
His first science-fiction novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of his Steampunk adventure The Rocks of Aserol and of Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space and the start of a series featuring Andorra Pett, an amateur detective. Sequels to Ribbonworld and The Rocks of Aserol have been published, together with a second Andorra Pett story, Andorra Pett on Mars. He also contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection. Richard is currently working on prequels, sequels, and new projects.
You can find out more about me on my website at richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the PORTFOLIO tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free novel or short story.
A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha.
In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction – at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful – and completely unforgettable.
I added this to my TBR after reading some really good reviews of it. I must admit, looking back at that decision now, that this book will be to my taste. Let’s be honest, romantic and erotic has never been my cup of tea when it comes to literature.
A Darkness at Sethanon is the stunning climax to Raymond E. Feist’s brilliant epic fantasy trilogy, the Riftwar Saga.
Here be dragons and sorcery, swordplay, quests, pursuits, intrigues, stratagems, journeys to the darkest realms of the dead and titanic battles between the forces of good and darkest evil.
Here is the final dramatic confrontation between Arutha and Murmandamus – and the perilous quest of Pug the magician and Tomas the warrior for Macros the Black. A Darkness at Sethanon is heroic fantasy of the highest excitement and on the grandest scale, a magnificent conclusion to one of the great fantasy sagas of our time.
I took a whole two seconds to decide I was keeping this book on my list! I loved Magician years ago and again when I revisited it recently. The rest of the series is definitely staying on my TBR. It’s a total no-brainer!
In a land haunted by the legacy of dead dragons, Rowen Locke has been many things: orphan, gravedigger, mercenary. All he ever wanted was to become a Knight of Crane and wield a kingsteel sword against the kind of grown horrors his childhood knows all too well.
But that dream crumbled—replaced by a new nightmare.
War is overrunning the realms, an unprecedented duel of desire and revenge, steel and sorcery. And for one disgraced man who would be a knight, in a world where no one is blameless, the time has come to decide which side he’s on.
I’m going to be really honest here and say that adding this to the TBR was born from an urge to read more fantasy. When I was younger I used to only read fantasy novels… so much so I got a bit sick of them. I was simultaneously bored with the genre and actively trying to seek out more. Does that make sense? Maybe, or maybe not. Either way, I don’t really have the burning desire to read this anymore.
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.
I have heard so many excellent things about Dark Matter. I bought the e-book last year because I knew it was a keeper on the TBR. In fact, I thought it sounded SO GOOD I nearly bought a physical copy, months later, forgetting I already had the e-book version. It also fits my bill of trying to read more sci-fi books. It’s a win-win situation.
On a lovely midsummer afternoon, Henry Tudor rides to Hever Castle. There, he feasts his eyes on Anne Boleyn, who caught his roving attention at court a few months earlier. Anne is in no mood to receive her king. He has torn from her the one man she loved: Harry Percy, who was forced to marry another. But King Henry VIII is not a man who gives up—the thrill of the chase only excites him more. Yet the woman he desires so passionately is no fool. Educated at the French court, Anne vows that she will not share the fate of her naïve younger sister, Mary, who after bearing Henry a bastard son was cast away and married off to a country squire. No, Anne will settle for nothing less than the crown of England, even if Henry has to break with Rome in order to marry her.
History comes thrillingly alive in a novel that features a teeming canvas of iconic real-life characters: Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the enemy Anne vows to destroy; Henry’s first wife, the proud and pious Queen Catherine of Aragon; and Thomas Cromwell, who engineers Anne’s downfall. From the halcyon early days of courtship to her imprisonment in the palace tower for treason, this is a tale of love, ambition, and the tragic destiny of Anne of the Thousand Days.
Of all of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn’s life story is the one that captures my attention the most. I have a number of books in my TBR dedicated to the woman’s history. The Tudor period is my favourite of all historical subjects. You can see where this is going. It’s an easy decision.
This has to be one of the easiest Down the TBR Hole posts I have ever written. Sometimes I can be a bit wishy-washy, on the fence, but these were all really easy choices for me to make!
At least I know what it is I want to read (and there is variety too)
Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my choices?
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.
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.
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!
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.
I don’t think I have ever made time to tell you, properly, how I came to start my blog. I’ve mentioned bits and pieces amongst other posts before, but that is all. Next month my blog will be two years old – quite an achievement! I want to take the opportunity to look back to those early days and see how far I’ve come along in that time.
Before I get that far though, I need to tell you a little about me. You need to understand this – I have always been the person to get excited over new projects but drop them as soon as any level of commitment is required. My mum was always keen to remind me of the fact growing up. It may sound harsh but I’m glad she did. I can always count on my mum for the truth, especially if it’s what I need to hear.
So how does the person who cannot commit get this far?
It goes without saying that I have always enjoyed reading, but after I left school and joined the 9-5 workforce I fell out of the habit. Instead, I’d spend my evenings and weekends playing games on my laptop or watching TV. I still play games now, but far less than I did. Even after I moved into my own place my time was spent in a comparatively unproductive way.
Something happened to break that cycle. It’s not the nicest of stories to tell because it began when my mum fell suddenly ill. The details are private business, but all you need to know is that it was serious. She was treated in hospital for about two and a half weeks; it is during that time that I changed my habits. It may sound totally cliché but it really is true – changes in habits can become long term lifestyle changes.
I was still going to work after mum fell ill. She could only have limited visitors at a time so we had to take turns. I started work at 8:30am and worked through my lunch to leave early. That way I was able to spend as much time up at the hospital as I could. I was getting home at around 9pm and still have to catch up with everything at home. I was even doing some shopping and ironing for my dad too. Rather than committing to an hour of TV so late at night (I was too tired for that), instead I sat in bed and picked up a book. This all happened in January too, so I was coming home to a cold flat. Who doesn’t want to go to bed when it’s freezing?!
I confess that I fell asleep reading more than once during that time. The flexibility of being able to read for ten minutes or an hour, however much I wanted, suited me. I had also just picked up and stuck to Terry Pratchett’s first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, at that point. In no time I rattled through the first books of the series… and I am still going now!
Even after mum came home again I kept up the reading. As horrible as that time was for our family it is the starting point of catching the “reading bug” again.
My Blogging Journey…
Four months and twenty books later, I decided I wanted to talk about my re-discovered hobby. There isn’t really anyone as bookish as me in my life, so my blog has proven to be a great outlet. Getting into the habit of writing took a little bit of time; I started my blog in April but I didn’t really put a schedule in place until August 2017. Up until that point, I was still finding my feet and posts were pretty sporadic.
One thing I can tell I have developed in the two years (almost) I have been blogging is my own writing style. I looked back at some of my earlier posts when I migrated my blog to a self-hosted site last year. Just for a giggle, here are some links to some of those earlier posts. Perhaps you will see what I mean when I say that I have come on leaps and bounds: –
Ignore the gross formatting issues, for which I blame migration because I can promise I would NOT have posted block text. I know for a fact it made a lot of my images disappear too. Look at the way I structure the posts and my use of language. It’s nothing like my writing now. At least I don’t think so…
Making time to write regularly has improved my skill. It’s a change that has even been noticed at work. I get compliments on my writing, and regrettably volunteered to draft anything that falls out of the ordinary. Templates are great, don’t get me wrong, but some people just don’t know how to write things like that from scratch as a result of dependence on them. I digress.
I think I have made vast improvements from those first steps, and I am not ashamed to admit that I am proud that I have stuck to it. It’s a habit that has become so ingrained that not reading or working towards a blog post is alien to me. I miss it when I take a break. If I am taking time out, I try to fill in the gaps beforehand.
I cannot deny that at times it is hard work, but it is worth the reward. I began writing my blog for myself and for the most part I still do now! It’s nice to get a few likes and comments along the way too. More importantly, if I can inspire just one person to pick up a book and discover the joy of reading, well, I consider that a job well done.