Tag: Fiction

Sunday Summary – 25th September 2022

Good evening everyone! It’s the end of yet another week and here we are with another Sunday Summary update post. I don’t know about you, but things are starting to feel very autumnal now. It’s coming towards my favourite time of year – I can justify cozying in with a good cup of tea, a slice of cake, and a book. Not that I needed any excuse before like…

The changing of the season has come just in time. On Tuesday, I shared a Top Ten Tuesday post, in which I featured my top ten books to read in autumn. On that list, I have a number of books I have been meaning to read for some time, together with a couple of new ones. If you haven’t checked out that post already, there is a handy link above.

Later in the week, it was the turn of my Shelf Control regular feature. In that post, I featured a book that is on my September TBR. When I drafted the post, I hadn’t started the book as yet. However, I suspected that by the time it went live, I would be reading it – and I was right!

 

Books Read

I’m actually really pleased with this week’s reading progress. I’m going to be honest with you and say that when I shared my September TBR, I already felt defeated before I started. If you have seen that TBR post, you’ll know that I’m taking part in Bookoplathon. It is a game based on Monopoly, and I ended up really unlucky in my game. I ended up with three extra rolls, which means three extra books on my reading list this month. I had anticipated maybe one extra, but reading eight books in a month isn’t really achievable for me. That said, I have read quite a lot this week alone.

 

In Case You Missed It

As of last week’s Sunday Summary update, I was on my third book of the month, and coincidentally about a third of the way through it. I had DNF’d my previous read, and my first book was nothing special either. In Case You Missed It is not the type of book that I would’ve picked up without recommendation. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to think of it, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

As you are probably aware, Monday was a bank holiday here as it was the Queen’s funeral. I ended up watching quite a bit of the funeral, but also made time for reading. I ended up finishing In Case You Missed It on Monday. I read about 250 pages alone that day! What can I say, I really got into the book. The writing style is easy to digest and the events and characters are hilarious. It was exactly what I needed and I’m really glad I picked this up – so thanks for the recommendation Mum!

 

Treacle Walker

Next, I read a very short book that was not on my September TBR. I had been loaned this book by the CEO of the company I work for. He had enjoyed reading it and he wanted to know what I thought of it. Treacle Walker is only about 150 pages, and it was a very trippy, quick read. I really enjoyed it, even though I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on all of the time. I wanted to read this quite quickly as I know that this book was going to be passed on to somebody else after me.

 

Dark Matter

Next, I moved on to the next book on my TBR, and now my current read, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. This is a bit of a twisty narrative, and I have no idea what is going on, albeit for different reasons to Treacle Walker! However, I am also really enjoying this one. There is a lot to unpick and it is going to take a while for me to work out what is what.

As of this post, I am exactly 20% through Dark Matter. I cannot wait to continue reading and update you in next week’s Sunday Summary post with more of my thoughts and progress!

 

Ordinary Heroes

Lastly, I started listening to Ordinary Heroes by Joseph Pfeifer. If you are unfamiliar with this book, it is the story of the first FDNY Chief on the scene of the 9/11 terrorist attack. I only started listening to this yesterday and I’m just a fraction off being halfway through already. I’m absolutely rattling through this one as it’s a really interesting read.

I quite enjoy listening to non-fiction – I find it easier to take the information in sometimes. Ordinary Heroes is a very easy listen. It is also quite a harrowing tale (but that goes with the subject). I have already learned things about the incident that I didn’t know from media coverage. As I am making very quick progress with it, I’m hoping to finish this within the next couple of days.

 

Books Discovered

No news is good news here this week. I haven’t added any books to the reading list, and I’ve actually just picked a couple off the list that I have changed my mind over. Nothing exciting to report here…

 

Coming Up…

On Tuesday, I am sharing my book review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling. Before we get into the month-end wrap-up and reading list for October, I wanted to share another review with you.

I have quite a back-list, and it was good to pin my thoughts down on this second book of the series. I decided to re-read these books as an adult to see how they differed from my initial impression of reading them as a teenager. If you want to find out my thoughts, check out that post on Tuesday!

On Saturday, I will be sharing my month and wrap-up post. Normally I would post on a Friday, but as Friday is the very last day of the month, I could make further reading progress. So, to make sure I cover the whole month in my wrap-up, I will be sharing this post on Saturday instead.

That’s everything from me in today’s Sunday Summary post!

What have you been reading this week?

 

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First Lines Friday – 16/09/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post!

I’m really excited to share today’s book, as it is written by an author I am already familiar with. However, it is a bit different from another series of his that I have been reading. I also read something similar earlier this year (set in the same time period and featuring the same famous character of the period). I for one I’m really excited to see how I enjoy this book.

Without further preamble, shall we dive into today’s First Lines Friday intro: –

 

I died just after the clock in the passageway struck nine.

There are those who claim that her Majesty, Elizabeth, by the grace of God, Queen of England, France, and of Ireland, will not allow clocks to strike the hour in her palaces. Time is not allowed to pass for her. She has defeated time. But that clock struck. I remember it.

I counted the bells. Nine. Then my killer struck.

And I died.

 

 

 

Fools and Mortals – Bernard Cornwell

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 416

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: 19 Oct 2017

 

 

Goodreads – Fools and Mortals

Lord, what fools these mortals be . . .

In the heart of Elizabethan England, Richard Shakespeare dreams of a glittering career in one of the London playhouses, a world dominated by his older brother, William. But he is a penniless actor, making ends meet through a combination of a beautiful face, petty theft and a silver tongue. As William’s star rises, Richard’s onetime gratitude is souring and he is sorely tempted to abandon family loyalty.

So when a priceless manuscript goes missing, suspicion falls upon Richard, forcing him onto a perilous path through a bawdy and frequently brutal London. Entangled in a high-stakes game of duplicity and betrayal which threatens not only his career and potential fortune, but also the lives of his fellow players, Richard has to call on all he has now learned from the brightest stages and the darkest alleyways of the city. To avoid the gallows, he must play the part of a lifetime . . . .

Showcasing the superb storytelling skill that has won Bernard Cornwell international renown, Fools and Mortals is a richly portrayed tour de force that brings to life a vivid world of intricate stagecraft, fierce competition, and consuming ambition.

 

My Thoughts…

Earlier this year I read Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham. This book, as you can probably guess by the title, is influenced by William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare is a key character in Twelve Nights, and he is also prominent in Fools and Mortals.

The main character is Richard, William’s brother. Richard is an actor and therefore we find ourselves in a very similar setting to Twelve Nights. I really enjoyed that particular book, so I’m interested to see how Bernard Cornwell Write this kind of narrative in comparison.

It is very different from the series of his I am also reading at the moment – the Saxon stories (aka The Last Kingdom). That is a set of books I am really enjoying, and the character development is strong in those. I’m hoping for much the same in Fools and Mortals. As a standalone book, this will be a great way to try out a narrative in a different time period from Bernard Cornwell. If I go on to enjoy it as much as I expect I will, then it is only natural that I will go on to read the rest of his books… different time periods or not.

From the introduction, we have no idea who the character is. It is a very interesting introduction because straight away, a significant event happens to draw the reader in.

This introduction really captured my attention, and I hope it has captured yours too! Have you read Fools and Mortals? Would you like to based on today’s First Lines Friday post? As always, I would love it if you could let me know in the comments!

 

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Book Review: The First Binding – R.R. Virdi

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s review of the most epic of epic fantasy novels, The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. Advertised as The Name of the Wind meets City of Brass, this book appealed to me instantly and I added it to my TBR back at the beginning of the year. As a huge fan of Patrick Rothfuss and his The Name of the Wind series as a teenager, this book was full of promise… and a little touch of nostalgia.

And I got that from this book. The narrative style is just what I was looking for, and there’s even the odd little Easter egg that relates to the series if you can spot it.

I’m excited to share today’s review with you, which is just ahead of the publication of the book (18th August if you’d like to get yourself a copy). Before I get into sharing my thoughts on this book, I like to say a massive thank you to Gollancz for providing me with a copy of the book so I could read it and tell you all about it today. All the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, and shared voluntarily. 

 

The First Binding

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Pages: 832

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 18 Aug 2022

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – The First Binding

All legends are born of truths. And just as much lies. These are mine. Judge me for what you will. But you will hear my story first.

I buried the village of Ampur under a mountain of ice and snow. Then I killed their god. I’ve stolen old magics and been cursed for it. I started a war with those that walked before mankind and lost the princess I loved, and wanted to save. I’ve called lightning and bound fire. I am legend. And I am a monster.

My name is Ari. And this is the story of how I let loose the first evil.

 

My Thoughts

Ari, known as The Storyteller, recounts his youth and introduction to the ten bindings all men must know. Written in the same vein as The Name of the Wind, fans of the series by Patrick Rothfuss will recognise and enjoy the narrative style. This is one of the primary reasons that I wanted to pick up this book for myself, and in every aspect, it didn’t disappoint!

Ari, aka ‘The Storyteller’ does not shy away from the dramatic. An expert narrator, he teases his audience and dabbles in anticipation to his audience. Slowly, his stories unravel in a way that steadily builds to a grand crescendo – it appeals to the audience. And with the very same craft and skill does R.R. Virdi tease Ari’s narrative across 800+ pages.

Capturing our attention from the opening lines, we go back to the very beginnings of Ari’s life as an abandoned child. From there we watch Ari advance in years and in his desire to learn about where he came from. Along the way, he encounters a vast array of characters. Not all of them are good. Not all of them are kind to him. Through sheer grit and determination, and with a few friendly faces to help him along, Ari struggles to find himself and his place in the world. He has no foundations from which to build, and so he is determined to make his own.

Epic in scope, and full of adventure, magic, and misdeeds, we reminisce on Ari’s early years. And the best thing is that this is just the beginning of the story. Of his story.

The First Binding is very well written. Full of in-depth and detailed world-building, with its own history and myths/legends, The First Binding is every bit as well developed as other popular and well-known fantasy series. In particular, I really enjoyed how the last chapter plays out, as we are almost taken back to the beginning. Almost. We have enjoyed this expansive journey with Ari, and yet the setting reminds us of where we humbly began. Consequently, it also inevitably leaves us wondering, what happens next?

Another point that really sold this book for me is how I enjoy magic systems in fantasy that have rules relating to the physical world. Authors such as Brandon Sanderson are favourites of mine because he also does the same thing.

This is also true to an extent in The First Binding. When magic takes place, things don’t just appear and disappear at will. The magic alters them in such a way that it changes their state, or where something is, for example. It is these same rules, rooted in science, that make the magic seem more plausible. They have limitations, meaning that any inconvenient plot point cannot just be made ‘right’ with magic. It must be a lot more difficult to employ a magic system that has such constraints, so I have a lot of respect for authors who are able to incorporate this, and well, and make the magic all the more believable!

Every good storyteller knows how to construct a cliffhanger, and R.R Virdi has done just that in The First Binding! I cannot wait for the sequel to see what happens next. Inevitably, there are still unresolved plot points that have not yet been explored in full detail (such as the ten bindings themselves – we only know eight of them). Some of these I expect to span over multiple books. As a huge fantasy fan, I really enjoy this depth and the promise of what is yet to come! 

Undeniably, The Fist Binding is one of my favourite reads of 2022, and I hope I have convinced you to pick this book up for yourself!

 

Author Bio

http://rrvirdi.com/about/

Book Review: A Feast of Phantoms – Kat Ross

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s book review of A Feast of Phantoms by Kat Ross. If you like books that are an eclectic range of genres, then this book is for you! With an underpinning western theme and elements of steampunk, this fantasy has a lot going on in a nice, concise page count that is approachable to read.

Full disclosure, I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. All of the opinions shared in this post are my own.

 

A Feast of Phantoms – Kat Ross

Book cover of A Feast of PhantomsGenre: Fantasy

Pages: 270

Audience: New Adult

Publisher: Acorn

Publication Date: 17 Mar 2020

Rating: ***

 

Goodreads – A Feast of Phantoms

THE JOB

It was supposed to be simple.

Help Marshal Sebastian Hardin escort his prisoner one stop on the railway to Charter Oak.

Just one stop.

But when that prisoner is a savant who talks to ghosts, even the simplest plans have a way of falling apart.

THE LAW

Sheriff’s Deputy Ruth Cortez always does the right thing. Lucky Boy is a company town, dependent on the rich and powerful Carnarvon family. Besides which, the charismatic Sebastian Hardin isn’t an easy man to say no to. When his transport derails in the middle of the prairie, Ruth begins a relentless manhunt that leads straight into the dark heart of the Carnarvon empire.

THE FUGITIVE

Lee Merriweather favors sharp suits and fast trains – especially when he’s stealing them. At the ripe old age of 18, he’s managed to become the most wanted criminal in three territories. Lee can’t resist playing cat and mouse with a small-town deputy, but what starts as a game becomes deadly serious.

THE FIXER

Sebastian Hardin is the Carnarvons’ right hand, loyal to the death and willing to keep any secret to protect the family. They want Lee alive, but with the young savant’s disturbing abilities it won’t be an easy proposition. Whoever catches Lee gets the keys to the kingdom and the Carnarvons aren’t the only ones hunting him down. Sebastian has enough problems without falling for Deputy Cortez – but you can’t always choose who you love.

THE PHANTOMS

They terrorized the settlers until Calindra Carnarvon learned to speak their language. Her empire relies on controlling their telekinetic powers, but Lee Merriweather could destroy it all. And not even Lee suspects the shocking truth of the phantoms’ real nature.

 

My Thoughts…

If you like the crossover of genres in the likes of Stephen king’s The Dark Tower or Brandon Sanderson‘s second Mistborn trilogy, A Feast of Phantoms has a similar vibe. It is also set in a western type setting. The incorporation of steampunk elements reminded me of the technological advancements we see between the first and second Mistborn trilogy, which is why I have likened this book to that.

Ruth is a small-town girl happy with her quiet life as a deputy in the town of Lucky Boy. Life is fairly rudimentary, but it’s all she’s ever known. When she is conscripted to help the secret services transport a prisoner for trial, she doesn’t have much choice but to accept. From here on, Ruth world opens up to magic, intrigue, and danger that she couldn’t foresee.

I really liked Ruth as a character. I love that she has very strong, good morals. In a world that is clearly corrupt, Ruth is a breath of fresh air. She is also very headstrong, and despite her youth, she is able to make a decision and act upon it. Quite often characters of this age can be a bit wishy-washy or uncertain. A lot of the plot conflict derives around that issue.

That’s not the case in A Feast of Phantoms, however. Instead, Ruth is decisive and more often than not, it is this that gets her into more trouble… Despite her good intentions.

A Feast of Phantoms has a fast pace plot. Once the story has been set up, we are whisked upon the mission to escort Lee Merriweather to his fate, and all the drama and turmoil that unfolds thereafter., In true fashion, all is not as it seems. Hardly to be expected, given that the secret services are involved. Instead, Ruth finds herself dragged into a conflict she could never have imagined and is far away from her hometown.

A Feast of Phantoms is also a short read, and very easy to pick up. I managed to read this book in just a couple of days. The narrative style is easy to follow and get lost in. Reading this book was effortless, and the story keeps you hanging on to read just one more chapter… over and over again.

The good news for fans of this book is that it is the first of a trilogy. This first instalment leaves us on a cliffhanger that will have us picking up the next one to know what happens next!

What are your thoughts on this book? As always, let me know in the comments or on social media. Get in touch with me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, or of my new blog posts as and when they go live!

Until next time,

 

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Book Review: The Taking of Annie Thorne – C. J. Tudor

In today’s post, I am sharing my book review for The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor. I read this book just over a year ago, so it’s well due its five minutes of fame on my blog.

I really enjoyed The Taking of Annie Thorne. Previously, I had read and loved The Chalk Man, also by the same author. It’s for this reason that I wanted to pick this latest book up, and I’m glad I did. This time last year I wasn’t reading anywhere near as much as usual. However, I read this book a lot quicker than I had been managing other books of similar length.

I think that speaks volumes for itself, but in today’s post, I share plenty more reasons why you should read this book for yourself!

 

The Taking of Annie Thorne – C. J. Tudor

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Pages: 346

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 21 Feb 2019

Rating: *****

 

Goodreads – The Taking of Annie Thorne

One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her. Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie. I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

 

My Thoughts…

With any mystery or thriller, one of the greatest aspects of this kind of narrative is the characters and their backstory. The Taking of Annie Thorne is told in a dual timeline; we learn the history of the characters and what happened in the past, and we see some of those same characters back as adults. If you like this kind of idea, and in particular, if you liked the timeline in the likes of Stephen King’s book, IT, this is very similar.

Given that we are juggling two timelines interspersed within each other, the pacing of the book works really well. Nothing is revealed too early, keeping us on our toes as to what happens – in both timelines! If you are concerned that juggling both at the same time is confusing, I can assure you, I didn’t find this to be the case at all. Each is clearly set out at the beginning of the chapter as to which timeline we are in. The chapters are also not too long, so nothing too chunky happens all at once and we then forget the events of the other timeline.

I particularly liked the characters of Annie and Joe. The story is told from Joe‘s perspective. As Annie’s brother, he is close to the event when she goes missing, and in the subsequent action. I liked both of these characters for different reasons. Annie, after she comes back, is creepy. She definitely has a sinister vibe that defines this mystery novel for me, but adds elements of horror. She is characterised perfectly.

I like Joe for different reasons. He turns out to be a very complex character with very distinct character development between these two timelines. Also, I enjoyed how this was kept consistent throughout the book; at no point did his personalities or perspective merge. It made the reading of each timeline easier to follow, and was very interesting to observe how he has changed outside of the book. Joe turns out to be a character with varying shades of grey when it comes to morality. I really enjoy this element of a book. I like reading a narrative and having to consider whether whatever has happened is true, or whether the perspective is biased or not. Having Joe as a morally grey character really added to the mystery that was already here and present in the book, and I’m all for it!

As I said in my introduction above, I read this book a lot quicker than I was reading other books of a similar length. I was deliberately not taking on anything too ambitious last year, as I experienced a little bit of burnout. Yet, I managed to devour this book in a handful of days at a time when that wasn’t really the norm for me. At about 350 pages, I think this is a book that anybody could pick up at any given time. It’s not too heavy (and I don’t just mean in the literal sense) – it’s a very easy narrative to consume. It is engaging with its interesting mystery with a creepy twist, so this can appeal to a lot of readers.

As a fan of The Chalk Man, I wasn’t disappointed by The Taking of Annie Thorne. I got the narrative style and characterisation of a calibre I was expecting, with a plot twist that I couldn’t anticipate; this was one of my better reads of last year when you consider the five-star rating I gave it, and how quickly I read it!

What are your thoughts on The Taking of Annie Thorne? As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

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First Lines Friday – 22/07/2022

Hello everyone – happy Friday and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular (typically fortnightly) series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love. They might be books I am interested in and/or are on my TBR. Equally, I can even just experiment with something new in these posts! I make the rules! 

For this week‘s First Lines Friday post I wanted to feature a book I have owned for a very long time and have every intention to pick up soon! I have featured this book in a few posts of late (in my Top Ten Tuesday – Books I was SO EXCITED to get but haven’t read, for example), and it’s playing on my mind how long I’ve had this one. Looking for material for today’s post, I decided to take a look at the opening lines and I was pulled in immediately. I can’t wait to pick up this fantasy novel in the coming months!

Let’s jump into today’s intro!

 

Forest litter crunched under Evnis’ feet, his breath misting as he whispered a curse. He swallowed, his mouth dry.

He was scared, he had to admit, but who would not be? What he was doing this night would make him traitor to his king. And worse.

He paused and looked back. Beyond the forest’s edge he could still see the stone circle, behind it the walls of Badun, his home, its outline silvered in the moonlight. It would be so easy to turn back, to go home and choose another path for his life. He felt a moment of vertigo, as if standing on the edge of a great chasm, and the world seem to slow, waiting on the outcome of his decision. I have come this far, I will see it through. He looked up at the forest, a wall of impenetrable shadow; he pulled his cloak tighter and walked into the darkness.

 

 

Malice – John Gwynne

Genre: Epic fantasy

Pages: 628

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Tor

Publication Date: 1 Dec 2012

 

 

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed in battle. An uneasy peace reigns, but now giants stir once more, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of gigantic worms. Those who can still read the signs see a prophecy realised: sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield.

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors and yearns to join them, determined that he will make his family proud. It is only when everything he knows is threatened that he discovers the true cost of becoming a man.

As the Kings look to their borders, and priests beg answers from the Gods, only a chosen few know that the fate of the world will be decided between two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. And with their coming will be a war to end all wars.

 

My Thoughts…

Malice has been on my TBR since at least 2016 – but realistically longer. That’s the earliest I can recall owning this book. It pre-dates having my blog so I have no means of going back to work out when I obtained my copy of this book.

I did start reading this book, but only very casually. I had picked it up prior to 2016; I distinctly remember packing up the book as part of my things when I left a job in February that year. The book had a paperclip in it as a means of marking the page. To this day you can see the indent of where the paperclip sat for so long, at the beginning of chapter 3 on page 29.

That tells you how far I got!

I have heard so many good things about John Gwynne, and I’ve seen all the books of his that I want to read. Naturally, it makes sense that I start with reading the book I physically own first. Not only that, but Malice is his debut novel and it comes highly recommended! As an epic fantasy with over 600 pages, it is right up my alley!

I plan on reading this book within the next couple of months, and I can’t wait to dive in and tell you what I think. I am really hoping to love this book, because as I said, there are others of his that I want to pick up. But, more importantly in the short term, this is the first part of his The Faithful and the Fallen series. If I go on to love this book as much as I hope, then I have another new series that I can enjoy.

Have you read Malice, or any other books by John Gwynne? Would you recommend them?

 

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Blog Tour Review and GIVEAWAY: Twelve Nights – Penny Ingham

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s blog tour review of Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham. As a fan of historical fiction, I was keen to dive into this particular book! I was intrigued by the mystery alluded to in the synopsis, but I also was interested in its literary ties as it features William Shakespeare and the theatre in general. I loved performing arts in school, so the culmination of all these elements excited me!

not only am I sharing my review with you today, but for UK-based readers, there is a link below to a giveaway in which you could win a paperback copy of the book for yourself! Read on to find out more!

As always, before I jump into sharing my thoughts on the book, I like to say a massive thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, and the author Penny for providing me with a review copy. All of the opinions stated in this post are honest and my own!

 

Twelve Nights

Genre: historical-fiction

Pages: 380

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Nerthus

Publication Date: 1 Jun 2022

Rating: ***

 

The Theatre – London, 1592

When a player is murdered, suspicion falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. The scandal-pamphlets vilify her. The coroner is convinced of her guilt.

Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. Her much-loved grandmother is too old and sick. Will Shakespeare is benignly detached, and her friend Christopher Marlowe is wholly unreliable. Only one man offers his assistance, but dare she trust him when nothing about him rings true?

With just two weeks until the inquest, Magdalen ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer – for all other roads lead to the gallows.

Purchase Links: –   Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

Twelve Nights brings together a lot of elements I enjoy; a mystery, an influence of literature, and the theatre. Whilst I confess that I have never had much love or understanding of William Shakespeare’s literary works (sorry, the language is just gibberish to me), I am interested in his history. I have studied a few bits and pieces in school, but I have only had a very perfunctory education about him.

From the author’s note at the end of the book, this may be in part because very little is known of him. This book gave a nice introduction to who he was as a person, professionally and personally, in an interesting fictional story. The book also touches on other interesting elements of the history of the period. Religion plays a significant role in the society protagonist Magdalen lives in, and this shines through throughout the book. I don’t have much prior knowledge of religious history, and the religious views that were prominent in the period. However, this wasn’t necessary. It was incorporated into the narrative and explained within the story. It made an interesting backdrop to an already intriguing storyline.

The setting of this book is also interesting from the perspective of Magdalen and her position in society. Frankly, women in this period are treated horribly. You are the property of your father until you are married and you are expected to have children. That is it. Even attempting to have a life of your own or support yourself earns you disapproval from men and constant accusations of lewd behaviour.

I knew this was something that I would have strong feelings about… but it was something I wanted to have strong feelings about if you know what I mean? I wanted to rage at the treatment of this poor woman, and many other women in this story, and I did. Twelve Nights has been a great eye-opener into how much times have (thankfully) changed. This story is also a gateway to understanding what it is like to be a woman in the 16th century. It is one thing to know, but quite another to experience the vitriol and harassment unjustly through the eyes of our protagonist.

I enjoyed Magdalen as a character. She is brave and perhaps a little foolhardy, but she stands up to prejudice and discrimination where she sees it and takes a stand when it counts – for herself. She has grown up a very independent woman, and she is a rarity in this society. I constantly admired her for her ability to fight against society’s expectations of her.

I enjoyed the characterisation of more than just the protagonist in this book. In particular, I think the author did very well to portray the struggles of caring for somebody with Alzheimer’s and dementia. There are a couple of characters in this book that deals with these conditions, and the representation that they are given in the book is fantastic. Having had a family member suffer from the condition, I think the portrayal was very well done.

I enjoyed the mystery that plays out across the pages of Twelve Nights. We are taken through a variety of twists and turns as Magdalen tries to get to the bottom of a murder she is accused of, but did not commit, all before her ‘inquest’ and inevitable conviction for the crime. The mystery took a turn I was not expecting, and I enjoyed this element of surprise at the 11th hour!

One small thing to add, but I recommend reading the author’s note at the end. Within that note, we learned that a lot of the characters in this book are based on real people, which I found interesting. It proves that the author really knows her stuff on the subject and has researched it thoroughly before incorporating the story into a fun fictional narrative.

 

Author Bio

I was born and raised in Yorkshire where my father inspired my love of history from an early age. He is a born story teller and would take us to the top of Iron Age hillforts, often as dusk was falling, and regale us with stirring tales of battles lost and won. Not surprisingly, I went on to study Classics at university, and still love spending my summers on archaeological digs. For me, there is nothing more thrilling than finding an artefact that has not seen the light of day for thousands of years. I find so much inspiration for my novels from archaeology.

I have had a variety of jobs over the years, including working for the British Forces newspaper in Germany, and at the BBC. When our family was little, the only available space for me to write was a small walk-in wardrobe. The children used to say, ‘oh, mum’s in the cupboard again’.

I have written four historical novels: The King’s Daughter explores the story of Aethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians. The Saxon Wolves and the Saxon Plague are both set in fifth century AD, a time of enormous upheaval and uncertainty in Britain as the Romans departed and the Saxon era began. My latest is something a bit different. Twelve Nights is a crime thriller set in sixteenth century London, and features William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.

I now live with my husband in the Hampshire countryside. Like many others during the pandemic, we decided to try growing our own fruit and vegetables – with mixed results! We can only get better!

 

Social Media Links –

Facebook: Penny Ingham Author Page | Facebook

Instagram: Penny Ingham (@penny.ingham)

Twitter: Penny Ingham (@pennyingham) / Twitter

Website: Penny Ingham (wordpress.com)

 

Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Twelve Nights (Open to UK Only)

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

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First Lines Friday – 24/06/2022

Welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular (typically fortnightly) series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love, those I am interested in and/or are on my TBR… or even just to experiment with something new!

For this week‘s First Lines Friday post, I decided to keep my subject open. Whilst it is fun to set myself a challenge sometimes, I didn’t have any inspiration or idea as to what I wanted to do. So, I kept it open and I’ve had a good long think; I’m really happy with the book I’ve chose to feature today.

Can you guess what it is?

 

 


Memorandum for: Executive Director Frobisher

From: Ghost ID (#6755–4181–2584–1597–9 87–610–377-ERROR-ERROR…)

Incept: 01/29/76

Subject: Alexander dossier

___________________________________________________

So here’s the file that almost killed me, Director.

I won’t bore you with the tally of databases plundered, light-years jumped, or cute, sniffling orphans created in its compilation – our fee already reflects Level Of Difficulty. But this dirt is out there, if you know where to look. It seems your cleanup crews weren’t quite as thorough as you’d like, and your little corporate war isn’t quite a secret as you’d hoped.

 

 

 

Illuminae – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Goodreads – Illuminae

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra — who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents — including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more — Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

 

My Thoughts…

I’ve had my eye on this book for some time. The story is told through a compilation of correspondence and documentation as opposed to traditional prose, which interests me. This is something I’ve read and enjoyed recently (The Appeal by Janice Hallett). Given that I liked this one as much as I did, I can’t wait to try another book in this format. I’ve already decided, given the format, that I want a physical copy of this book/series. I talked about this in my top ten bookish wishes post earlier this week

I’m also a fan of Jay Kristoff. I first listened to his Nevernight Chronicles trilogy, and from there fell in love. I’ve gone on to purchase physical copies of these books to read again, and more recently, purchased and read Empire of the Vampire. This is my favourite read of 2022 so far, so I’m really excited to pick up something new by him.

Collaborations with other authors can be a bit hit and miss, but as I haven’t read anything by Amie Kaufman yet, I don’t feel like I can judge. I will just have to see how this goes! If I go on to enjoy these books then I have another series I can pick up that is co-authored by this duo. It’s a young adult science-fiction novel, which I feel like will be up my street! Especially considering I am reading a young adult science-fiction book by Brandon Sanderson at the moment, and really enjoying it. 

 

I hope you have enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post! Have you read Illuminae, the rest of the series or any of the other books also written by these authors? I’d love to know in the comments!

 

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Book Review: Keep You Safe – Rona Halsall

In today’s book review post I’m sharing my thoughts on a book written by local author, Rona Halsall. Keep You Safe appealed to me in its own right, but when I found out that Rona also lives on the Isle of Man, and that the book is also set here, I knew I had to give it a go!

I’m a huge fan of thriller novels anyway, and I was not disappointed by this book at all! I read this over the course of a week, and as with all thrillers, I could not put this down at the end. I binge read the last 130 odd pages in one sitting, late on a Sunday night because I didn’t want to leave it… I couldn’t!

Before I jump into my full review, here are details of the book below: –

 

Keep You Safe – Rona Halsall

Goodreads- Keep You Safe

What if trying to protect your child only put them in danger?

Natalie is desperate to find her little boy. It has been more than three years since she saw Harry. Three long years in prison for a crime she knows she didn’t commit.

But her husband believed the police, and took their son.

Who has gone to such great lengths to destroy Natalie’s life? Everyone she once trusted – friends, family, everyone close to her – what secrets do they hide?

If Natalie finds the truth, will she get Harry back, or lose him forever?

A totally gripping psychological thriller– perfect for fans of Big Little Lies, The Girl on the Train and C.L Taylor.

 

My Thoughts…

It is a surreal experience to read a book set in the place where you live and work. Streets I have walked countless times – some I see every day nearly – set the scene of this novel… and I will be honest and say it was a tad strange! But at the same time, it was brilliant! I could picture exactly where events were happening in vivid detail and it was really easy to follow. Even without the local knowledge, I think anybody could follow the events in this book. I just have the added advantage that I know the local geography.

Keep You Safe is the kind of novel that keeps you guessing. Natalie has been betrayed in the past by someone she loves, and her distrust and paranoia is deep-rooted. She is a protagonist who can be sympathised with to the extent that she has been separated from a child. However, in other respects, she is a very morally grey character. I wasn’t rooting for her 100% of the time; her decision-making is far from rational or logical. But in the same vein, it is these flaws that make her undoubtedly human. She is a well rounded character – and as a key component to the story… this shines through.

At the heart of this tragic story is a little boy that just wants to be loved. In amidst the lies, deceit, and far more besides, there is an innocent child stuck in the middle. I really enjoyed the ending of this book, as evidenced by my binge reading of it! Perfect elements of mystery come together with a darker, more thrilling ending that I really enjoyed! The pieces slotted together very nicely and we are kept in suspense up until that very last moment. I was lining everybody up as a potential suspect. It’s the kind of book that you think about even when you’re not reading it.

My one, small wish this book is that the island was not referred to as a tax haven. The island has that reputation enough, when in reality most residents as normal, working people just like everyone else. Just like most of the characters portrayed in this book. The only difference is that we have to pay over the odds for a pint of local milk. It may not be all sunshine and roses here on the Island, and yes it has some very wealthy corporations and individuals, but I feel it isn’t an accurate representation and the Island could have been painted in a better light if this was not mentioned. That’s a personal thing though. I’m very passionate about living here and naturally, I want people to see the best of it! 

 

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First Lines Friday – 20/05/2022

Welcome to my First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular (typically fortnightly) series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love, those I am interested in and/or are on my TBR… or even just to experiment with something new!

I knew I wanted to set myself another challenge for this post. Sometimes it’s nice to have the freedom of choice to be able to pick up anything at random and feature it. However, I do relish a challenge. I was in the mood to set one for myself when I drafted my last Sunday Summary post… so here we are! The challenge I set for myself in today’s post is to feature a book I plan on reading sometime this year. It’s a fun topic because it gives me a way of getting excited for the book in advance, but the best thing about it is that I get to share some of my reading plans with you!

But, before we jump right into the spoilers, shall we check out today’s intro and see if you can guess what it is?

 

A history of the Six Duchies is of necessity a history of its ruling family, the Farseers. A complete telling would reach back beyond the founding of the first Duchy, and if search names were remembered, would you tell us of Outislanders raiding from the sea, visiting as pirates a shore more temperate and gentler than the icy beaches of the Out Islands. But we do not know the names of these earliest forebears.

And of the first real king, little more than his name and some extravagant legends remain. Taker his name was, quite simply, and perhaps with that naming began the tradition that daughters and sons of his lineage would be given names that would shape their lives and beings. Folk beliefs claim that such names were sealed to the newborn babes by magic, and that these royal offspring were incapable of betraying the virtues whose names they bore. Passed through fire and plunged through salt water and offered to the winds of the air; thus were names sealed to these chosen children. So we are told. A pretty fancy, and perhaps once there was such a ritual, but history shows us that this was not always sufficient to bind the child to the virtue that named it…

 

 

Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

Goodreads – Assassin’s Apprentice

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

 

My Thoughts…

If you know your fantasy books, then you may have picked up a hint from the first sentence of today’s extract, even if you don’t recognise it in its entirety. The keyword was Farseers. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb is the first book in the Farseers trilogy and I am finally going to start it this year!

I’ve sampled reading this book a couple of times – the first on my phone years ago and another time I think I started reading it on an iPad. But here’s the thing, I don’t read that way. I think I wanted to try the book out, to sample it and see what I thought. I was excited enough about it to go out of my way to try it, but it never quite made it to be my current read. It’s my own fault. I was always trying it at a time when I was reading something else, and it wasn’t really a priority.

But I’m going to make it a priority.

I love fantasy and I have great hopes for this series and this author. One of my friends with whom I have a similar reading taste is a fan of Robin Hobb and she has recommended these books to me in the past. I really liked what I’ve seen based on the first of chapter or two I’ve tried, and this year I swear I’m going to start in earnest.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a book series that makes it onto my bookshelves. My copy of Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book, is currently on kindle, and I will read it that way for the moment. If I love it as much as I think I’m going to, then I’ll end up buying a paperback copy and purchasing the rest of the series that way as well!

I can’t wait to invest time into this properly. It’s full of potential and I am looking for a new fantasy series and author to dive into! I feel like this is going to be the right time to give this a go!

 

This has been quite a long First Lines Friday post, but I hope you can tell how excited I am for this book! Have you read Assassin’s Apprentice, the rest of the trilogy or even any of the other books also written by Robin Hobb? I’d be really interested to see how you feel about the books and her writing, so please drop me a comment below and let me know what you think!

 

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