Tag: First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday – 16/02/2024

Happy Friday fellow readers and welcome to another First Lines Friday feature post!

When I decided to share this feature, I kept my options open as to the book I could feature in today’s post. I’m glad I did that, as conversations within my family this week inspired today’s choice.

I’m not going to give you too much ramble here because I am keen to get stuck in. However, one thing I will say in the interest of transparency is that today’s First Lines Friday introduction contains swearing.

Read on at your discretion…

 

‘It’s an unfortunate situation.’

Bishop John Durkin smiles, benevolently.

I’m pretty sure that Bishop John Durkin does everything benevolently, even taking a shit.

The youngest Bishop to preside over the North Notts diocese, he’s a skilled orator, author of several acclaimed theological papers, and, if he hadn’t at least tried to walk on water, I’d be amazed.

He’s also a wanker.

I know it. His colleagues know it. His staff know it. Secretly, I think, even he knows it.

 

 

The Burning Girls – C. J. Tudor

 

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Pages: 396

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 23 Nov 2021

 

 

Goodreads – The Burning Girls

An unconventional vicar moves to a remote corner of the English countryside, only to discover a community haunted by death and disappearances both past and present–and intent on keeping its dark secrets–in this explosive, unsettling thriller from acclaimed author C. J. Tudor.

Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.

Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”

The more Jack and her daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.

But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village’s bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.

 

My Thoughts…

The Burning Girls, and CJ Tudor, have been topics of conversation amongst my family in the last week. It’s this inspiration that led to The Burning Girls being featured in today’s First Lines Friday post.

Mum has been reading The Chalk Man, CJ Tudor’s debut novel and we’ve been chatting about it. I’m pleased to say that Mum enjoyed this debut just as much as I did, and she is very quickly moving on to The Taking of Annie Thorne.

The recommendations have also gone the other way. Mum and Dad have been watching the TV drama based on the featured book in this post, The Burning Girls. Mum recommended this to me to watch last weekend as they thoroughly enjoyed it. I do intend to watch the TV series, but it’s also making me think about picking up the book. Shock horror, you say?

I picked up a copy of this in paperback format fairly recently, even though the book has been on my TBR since December 2022. Part of the reason I wanted to pick this up and physical format was because that’s how I’ve read CJ Tudor’s other books to date. I also bought it in this format so I could pass it on to Mum to read if she wants to after me. I did the same thing with The Chalk Man and The Taking of Annie Thorne. Although in practice, Mum does the majority of her reading at lunchtime and so purchased kindle copies for ease. And why not!

Either way, I hope I enjoy The Burning Girls as much as I did her other books, and that I can pass on this copy as a recommendation once I’ve read it to somebody I think will love it!

Have you read The Burning Girls, watched the TV series, or any other books by CJ Tudor? Have you enjoyed this First Lines Friday feature? As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

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First Lines Friday – 26/01/2024

Welcome to my first First Lines Friday post of 2024 readers, and I have a great feature for you today!

More often than not, I find myself looking forward in these posts and featuring upcoming books on my reading list. Whilst I didn’t explicitly set myself a challenge this time, I decided tonight that instead I was going to look back in today’s First Lines Friday. I feature a five-star read from last year that I’m sure you will love too. Particularly, if you are a fan of Brandon Sanderson and read any of his young adult works.

Can you guess the book from the clues in the introduction?

 

A dark sphere appeared before me in the centre of the room. Scud. Was I really going to do this? In my hand, Doomslug fluted nervously.

The sterile, whitewashed, walls, enormous one-way mirror, and metal tables marked this as some kind of scientific facility. I was on Starsight: the massive space station that housed the regional offices of the Superiority. Up until this past year, I’d never even heard of the Superiority, let alone understood the nuances of how it – as a Galactic government – ruled hundreds of different planets and species.

To be honest, I still didn’t understand those nuances. I’m not exactly a “there are nuances to this situation” type of girl. I’m more of an “if it’s still moving, you didn’t use enough ammunition” type of girl.

 

 

 

Cytonic – Brandon Sanderson

 

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 432

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 23 Nov 2021

 

Goodreads – Cytonic

Spensa’s life as a Defiant Defense Force pilot has been far from ordinary. She proved herself one of the best starfighters in the human enclave of Detritus and she saved her people from extermination at the hands of the Krell—the enigmatic alien species that has been holding them captive for decades. What’s more, she traveled light-years from home as an undercover spy to infiltrate the Superiority, where she learned of the galaxy beyond her small, desolate planet home.

Now, the Superiority—the governing galactic alliance bent on dominating all human life—has started a galaxy-wide war. And Spensa has seen the weapons they plan to use to end it: the Delvers. Ancient, mysterious alien forces that can wipe out entire planetary systems in an instant. Spensa knows that no matter how many pilots the DDF has, there is no defeating this predator.

Except that Spensa is Cytonic. She faced down a Delver and saw something eerily familiar about it. And maybe, if she’s able to figure out what she is, she could be more than just another pilot in this unfolding war. She could save the galaxy.

The only way she can discover what she really is, though, is to leave behind all she knows and enter the Nowhere. A place from which few ever return.

To have courage means facing fear. And this mission is terrifying.

 

My Thoughts…

I have dual motives for featuring Cytonic as today’s First Lines Friday feature. Firstly, it is a book I wholeheartedly recommend and a series that I will press into almost anyone’s hands. Whilst I haven’t officially published reviews of any books in the series, as yet, you can find a summary of my thoughts for Skyward, Starsight, and Cytonic in my Sunday Summary posts around the time I finished the books.

Secondly, I’m also featuring the book today as a reminder that the fourth book in the series was released at the end of last year. I need to read it! It’s not very often that I keep up with series as they come out. Indeed, so far, I haven’t been keeping up with this one at all. But, that is my intention in future. With this in mind, I hope to pick up Defiant soon.

I enjoy reading from the perspective of the main character, Spensa. She is young, feisty, and angsty. She has a chip on her shoulder and everything to prove. Her temperament makes her a bit of a loose cannon and this keeps us as readers guessing as to what she’ll come up with next!

If you like science fiction full of action and a fighting scenes then this will definitely appeal to you. I thoroughly enjoy how these scenes are written and how Spencer‘s personality adds a little spice.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday feature!

Have you read Cytonic or any of the books in the Skyward series so far?

 

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First Lines Friday – 15/12/2023

It’s the end of another working week, so congratulations… we made it! In today’s First Lines Friday post, I am excited to feature a young adult novel I discovered through the Currently Reading podcast.

For today’s First lines Friday post, I set myself the challenge of featuring a book I don’t yet own. When I prepare these posts, I typically gravitate towards books I already own, whether that’s physical or on kindle. It’s easier to sample those and find a great intro, as they are more readily to hand. However, I wanted to break that habit. With a wealth of information at our fingertips, that’s not the only way I can fulfil this post.

Today’s First Lines Friday introduction is short and snappy, but gets the point in an interesting way! Shall we take a look?

 

The room where they at last found him was so cold, they wondered at first if he had frozen to death. Face as white as snow, skin as cold as frost, lips as blue as ice. His expression seemed, to the police, perfectly peaceful. As if he had passed away in the middle of a very lovely dream.

Except for the blood.

Blood always tells its own story.

 

 

The Kingdom – Jess Rothenburg

 

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 352

Audience: Adult / Young Adult

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.

Publication Date: 28 May 2019

 

 

Goodreads – The Kingdom

Welcome to the Kingdom… where ‘Happily Ever After’ isn’t just a promise, but a rule.

Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species–formerly extinct–roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty–and what it truly means to be human.

 

My Thoughts…

The Kingdom is unlike other books on my reading list, and I liked the sound of the premise. It’s for that reason that I added the book, and it is because of the introduction in today’s post that I am excited to be picking it up soon! If you read my Top Ten Tuesday – Winter TBR post earlier this week, you will know that I’m looking to pick up the book in the next three months.

Having looked back at the episode in which Meredith featured her experience of reading The Kingdom, I’ve reminded myself that this book has elements of mixed media. That’s something I have discovered and enjoyed reading in 2023, and I’m actively looking to include more books in this style in 2024. The story is told through a combination of courtroom testimony and the memories of the main character… an AI.

In the podcast, Meredith also shares that the book is a great insight into some of the backstage things that happen in theme parks. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to one, but I’m looking forward to the setting and exploring that in more detail.

Meredith loved this book, and it made for a quick read for her. I’m hopeful for the same myself, and it gives me the chance to pick up something unlike anything I have read before.

Have you read The Kingdom by Jess Rothenburg?

 

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First Lines Friday – 17/11/2023

Happy reading friends! Welcome to my First Lines Friday post to wrap-up this working week. I hope it’s been a good one?

When I decided I was going to be sharing another First Lines Friday, I decided to keep my options open. The last few times I have published this feature, I have set myself a challenge. Not so this week. Honestly, I had no idea of what I wanted to feature in today’s post. In hindsight, I can see why I left my options open and today’s feature feels like a natural choice. All will make sense if you’ve been reading my blog in due course.

Shall we get to today’s opening lines so we can enjoy my featured First Lines Friday extract together?

 

Coriolanus released the fistful of cabbage into the pot of boiling water, and swore that one day it would never pass his lips again. But this was not that day. He needed to eat a large bowl of the anemic stuff, and drink every drop of broth, to prevent his stomach from growling during the reaping ceremony. It was one of a long list of precautions he took to mask the fact that his family, despite residing in the penthouse of the Capitol’s most opulent apartment building, was as poor as district scum. That at eighteen, the heir to the once-great house of Snow had nothing to live on but his wits.

 

 

 

 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 541

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Scholastic Fiction

Publication Date: 19 May 2020

 

 

Goodreads – The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

 

My Thoughts…

I first read The Hunger Games series in my later teenage years. I can’t pinpoint the exact date I read these books as it predates my Goodreads account. Looking back on my Amazon order history (as I read the books on my Kindle), we are looking at dates between 2012 and 2013 for me reading this series. At that time, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes had not been published. In fact, it is quite a recent addition to the series.

This may not come as a surprise feature. If you have been reading my blog in the last few weeks, I’ve mentioned that I have been watching The Hunger Games films on TV. I hadn’t really considered why they were airing them, until I found out that there is an upcoming film release for this prequel. Then it all made sense!

Those films have made me want to re-visit the series anyway. However, when I do so, I am also going to read this prequel novel. Initially I had reservations as the reviews weren’t great. However, as a fan of the universe, I am willing to give it a try!

Have you read The Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, or both? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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First Lines Friday – 13/10/2023

Good evening and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! I’ve set myself another challenge in today’s First Lines Friday post – to feature a book I intend to pick up and read before the end of the year.

This book is the second in a series by a much loved author. I first picked up the series in August 2020… over three years ago now! With my goal of trying to pick up and continue series I’ve started, this feels like the perfect book to pick up and make good on that promise to myself. It’s also a great series and a reliable author to revisit!

Are you curious about today’s feature? Let’s see if the introduction captures your imagination too!

 

I watched Calamity rise.

I was six years old, then, as I stood in the night on the balcony of our apartment. I can still remember how the old air-conditioner rattled in the window next to me, covering the sound of Father’s crying. The overworked machine hung out over a plummet of many stories, dripping water like perspiration from the forehead of a suicidal jumper. The machine was broken; it blew air, but it didn’t make anything cold. My mother had frequently turned it off.

After her passing, my father left it on; he said that he felt cooler with it running.

I lowered my popsicle and squinted at that strange red light, which rose like a new star above the horizon. Only no star had ever been that bright or that red. Crimson. It looked like a bullet wound in the dome of heaven itself.

 

 

Firefight – Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 420

Audience: Adult / Young Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 06 Jan 2015

 

 

Goodreads – Firefight

They told David it was impossible – that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart – invincible, immortal, unconquerable – is dead. And he died by David’s hand.

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there’s no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.

Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David’s willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic – Firefight. And he’s willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

 

My Thoughts…

Brandon Sanderson is an author I can revisit in relative safety of enjoying whichever book of his I pick up. I’ve read 13 of his books so far (which feels like an auspicious number on Friday the 13th no less…) and I have a couple more shelved already. Every single one of the 13 books I have read to date has earned themselves a five-star rating from me. I literally couldn’t ask for anything better!

One of the greatest selling points I love about Brandon Sanderson’s writing is that he is able to reinvent completely different worlds, magical elements and fantasy settings with no series feeling the same. I particularly enjoyed how he advanced his original Mistborn setting to demonstrate technological and industrial advancement in the 200 years between each series. It takes courage to rework something great without unsettling a fan base.

Having not picked up this series for three years now, I’m keen to get back into it. The Reckoners is a trilogy; provided I can get stuck into Firefight without any trouble, I shouldn’t wait too long before completing the trilogy. Then, I can tick it off the list and assure myself that I am whittling down my LONG list of ongoing series… hopefully!

Have you read any books in this series, or any books by Brandon Sanderson on the whole? What do you think? Has today’s First Lines Friday inspired you to give him a try?

 

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First Lines Friday – 15/09/2023

Good evening friends and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post!

When I shared that I was featuring a First Lines Friday post in last week’s Sunday Summary, I set myself a challenge. For this feature, I had to choose a book I’ve added to my to-read list in the last six months. I’ve added a few books to my TBR in that time, so I had some choice. The book I ultimately chose was recommended to me by a work colleague. Today’s intro has me looking forward to reading it!

Let’s take a look at today’s introduction!

 

She would come at daybreak – the woman whose letter I held in my hands, the woman whose name I did not yet know.

I knew neither her age nor where she lived. I did not know her rank in society nor the dark things of which she dreamed when night fell. She could be a victim or a transgressor. A new wife or a vengeful widow. A nursemaid or a courtesan.

But despite all that I did not know, I understood this: the woman knew exactly who she wanted dead.

 

 

 

The Lost Apothecary – Sarah Penner

Genre: Thriller / Historical fiction

Pages: 301

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Park Row

Publication Date: 02 Mar 2021

 

 

Goodreads – The Lost Apothecary

A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them – setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.
Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose – selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate – and not everyone will survive.

 

My Thoughts…

Before Claire ‘s recommendation, I had seen this book around before. However, I hadn’t really looked at it in too much detail.

However, after her recommendation, I did take a look at the book… and I questioned myself why I didn’t sooner! Maybe it’s because I’ve seen mixed reviews in the blogosphere. Perhaps it was just one of many books I see and hear about and don’t look into. (If I did check them all out, my reading list would be nearer 500 books long as opposed to just the two…)

The Lost Apothecary has an interesting plotline with a bit of a feminist theme to it. I also like the idea of it being set across to different time zones, and exploring the contrast between the apothecary in the late 1700s, compared with a modern day woman discovering her secrets! The danger element alluded to the synopsis certainly has me intrigued! 

That’s all for today’s First Lines Friday! What did you think of today’s introduction? Does it make you want to pick up the book yourself?

 

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First Lines Friday – 18/08/2023

Good evening friends and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday feature! It’s turning out to be a rather miserable evening, but if we’re being honest, is there better weather for a bookworm? I’ll be cozying in with a blanket, a cuppa and my current read as soon as this post goes live. That’s what you’re here for, so let’s get right to it!

Today’s feature was chosen as a result of a challenge I set myself in last week’s Sunday Summary post – to feature a book from my physical TBR. For today’s First Lines Friday feature, I’m sharing a book by an author I have read once before and thoroughly enjoyed! It was popular a few years ago and features a plot with a Groundhog Day theme. It also has slightly different titles in the UK and US.

Can you guess what today’s book is based on those clues, or who it’s by?

 

Arent Hayes howled in pain as a rock slammed into his massive back.

Another whistled by his ear; a third, striking his knee, causing him to stumble, bringing jeers from the pitiless mob, who were already searching the ground for more missiles to throw. Hundreds of them were being held back by the city watch, their spittle-flecked lips shouting insults, their eyes black with malice.

‘Take shelter for pity’s sake,’ implored Sammy Pipps over the din, his manacles flashing in the sunlight as he staggered across the dusty ground. ‘It’s me they want.’

 

 

 

The Devil and the Dark Water – Stuart Turton

Genre: Mystery / Historical fiction

Pages: 548

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Raven Books

Publication Date: 06 Oct 2020

 

 

Goodreads – The Devil and the Dark Water

 

A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Traveling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.

But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered.

And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.

Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

 

My Thoughts…

If you hadn’t guessed the answer to my clues, the book I was alluding to was Stuart Turton’s debut novel, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (or The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the US). 

I read that book four years ago according to Goodreads, and I thought it was great. Firstly, where had that time gone?! It doesn’t feel like it was four years ago…

With that experience in mind, I didn’t hesitate to get a copy of The Devil and the Dark Water. To be honest, I bought that book without really knowing much about it, other than it was written by the same author. That’s all that mattered. As it happens, I really like the sound of the premise and setting in this book and would have bought it for that reason as well. Having just concluded a series with heavy emphasis around ships and sailing, I’m definitely in the mood for it! Knowing my TBR though, it’ll probably be another four years before I get round to it!

Jokes aside, I’m not going to leave it that long… I PROMISE!

If the book is as cleverly written as the debut, then I have every expectation of enjoying this book. It’s also a great length to be able to enjoy a complex mystery, but without getting bogged down in so many details that I’ll become overwhelmed.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post!

Have you read The Devil and the Dark Water, or The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? What did you make of either of these books?

 

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First Lines Friday – 21/07/2023

Good evening friends! I’m looking forward to sharing today’s First Lines Friday post as I am featuring the start of a military fantasy trilogy that I can’t wait to pick up and begin!

I have previously read one very well-known book by this author. It was both recommended and gifted to me by my sister’s fiancé. As I’m trying to finish reading ongoing series rather than pick new ones up, I have been resisting temptation to start. I’m not sure that’s going to last much longer, after today’s introduction.

Shall we take a look?

 

“Take your clothes off. “

Rin blinked. “What?“

The proctor glanced up from his book. “Cheating prevention protocol.” He gestured across the room to a female proctor. “Go with her, if you must.”

Rin crossed her arms tightly across her chest and walked toward the second proctor. She was led behind a screen, patted thoroughly to make sure she hadn’t packed test materials up any orifices, and then handed a formless blue sack.

“Put this on,“ said the proctor.

“Is this really necessary?“ Rin’s teeth chattered as she stripped.

 

 

 

The Poppy War – R.F. Kuang

 

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 527

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 01 May 2018

 

 

Goodreads – The Poppy War

 

An epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

 

My Thoughts…

I was first introduced to this author by reading her now very popular novel, Babel, last year. It seems apparent that she is a very diverse author in that she can write very different books. Whilst The Poppy War seems very reminiscent of the fantasy structure I am used to seeing, Babel is quite different in its more historical setting and context. I’m also intrigued to pick up Yellowface, which was published earlier this year.

This introduction has me asking an awful lot of questions and wondering what on Earth is going on! It is definitely a solid hook for a reader in order to get them invested very quickly in finding out what is happening.

Having read the synopsis, I think I’m going to enjoy the underpinning commentary of race, social class and personal background. A lot of this is already alluded to in the synopsis, and based on how similar themes are tackled in Babel, I’m confident that this will add to the book rather than distract from any action.

I have a mixed experience with military fantasy in the past. I have enjoyed books like The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and Red Rising. However, I’ve also had less good experiences… and ironically, that’s with the second book of the Red Rising series, but I’ve just mentioned as a great experience! Overall, my experience has been more positive than negative. My only gripe with Golden Son is that the pacing felt off; there was too much action and not enough world-building. But, that is a specific book problem, rather than a genre problem.

Given my fantastic experience with this author already, and several recommendations, I will be venturing into The Poppy War with high hopes!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post!

Have you read The Poppy War or any other books by R.F. Kuang?

 

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First Lines Friday – 26/05/2023

The last time I brought you a First Lines Friday post, it was a bank holiday weekend. It just so happens that the same can be said again! If you’re looking for a fantastic author to pick up this weekend, I have a great feature in today’s post.

This week, I set myself the challenge of featuring a medical, non-fiction novel. I had just added one to my TBR when I set this challenge. I teased featuring it here, but that would be boring and lack imagination! Instead, I’m bringing you a book that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from the description of ‘non-fiction medical’. It’s full of humour and wit, yet insightful.

So, let’s check it out!

 

You know what it’s like when you’re cutting up a dead body. No, of course you don’t. It’s a perverse and horrific thing that should only ever be experienced by coroners and gangland criminals. Unless of course you’re one of the 9,000 eighteen-year-olds who sign up to medical school in the UK every year. For them, it’s just what you do each Friday morning.

‘Wear your worst shirt and trousers,’ advised a friendly second year before our first dissection. ‘Underwear too. Put on the same stuff every week, then burn it at the end of the year.’ I imagined this was because they’d be getting sprayed with skull-water or stained by lung fragments, but it was actually around 2 per cent less disgusting than that – it was the stench.

 

 

 

Undoctored – Adam Kay

 

Genre: Non-fiction

Pages: 274

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Orion Publishing Co

Publication Date: 15 Sept 2022

 

Goodreads – Undoctored

Adam Kay’s secret diary from his time as a junior doctor This is Going to Hurt was the publishing phenomenon of the century. It has been read by millions, translated into 37 languages, and adapted into a major BBC television series. But that was only part of the story.

Now, Adam Kay returns and will once again have you in stitches in his painfully funny and startlingly powerful follow-up, Undoctored: The Story of a Medic Who Ran Out of Patients. In his most honest and incisive book yet, he reflects on what’s happened since hanging up his scrubs and examines a life inextricably bound up with medicine. Battered and bruised from his time on the NHS frontline, Kay looks back, moves forwards and opens up some old wounds.

Hilarious and heartbreaking, horrifying and humbling, Undoctored is the astonishing portrait of a life by one of Britain’s best-loved storytellers.

 

My Thoughts…

I have already read a couple of books by the author, Adam Kay.

The first of those I picked up is his better known novel, This Is Going to Hurt. That is the story of how Adam became a junior doctor. I then read the slightly shorter, but equally witty, T’was the Nightshift Before Christmas. They are full of laughter and heartwarming stories. But they also bring tears. These books are as much of an emotional rollercoaster as the job can be in itself. They are candid in their insight into daily trials of being a medical professional.

Although I have yet to read Undoctored, I expect this book to be much the same as its predecessors. If that is the case, then it is a promising five star prediction! Although the genre of the book is non-fiction and set in a medical setting, these books are far from dry. The author has a fantastic way of getting his message across in a way that employs humour to do so.

As always, I’m looking forward to giving this book a try!

Have you read Undoctored, or any of the other books by Adam Kay I mentioned in this post? Did you enjoy today’s First Lines Friday post? Let me know in the comments!

 

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First Lines Friday – 18/11/2022

Hello all welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! It’s the end of another working week! If you are counting down the hours until the weekend, then I hope I can distract you with a fun introduction to a book I’m looking forward to picking up. Maybe I can inspire you to pick it up this weekend?

In today’s First Lines Friday post, I decided to repeat my method of choosing today’s featured book as I did last time. To recap, I went to my Goodreads homepage and looked through the books on my feed until a familiar author or title caught my eye. Whereas in my last post, I stumbled across my feature quite quickly, this wasn’t the case this time. A little bit of scrolling later, however, a Goodreads friend of mine published a status update about a book she is re-reading, that is also on my TBR.

Here is today’s teaser introduction!

 

Perhaps it was a tired thing, all the references the world had already made to the Ptolemaic Royal library of Alexandria. History had proven the library to be endlessly fascinating as a subject, either because the obsession with what it might have contained was bound only by the imagination or because humanity longs for things most ardently as a collective. All men can love a forbidden thing, generally speaking, and in most cases knowledge is precisely that; lost knowledge, even more so.

 

 

The Atlas Six – Olivie Blake

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 383

Audience: Young Adult

Publisher: Tor

Publication Date: 31 Jan 2015

 

 

Goodreads – The Atlas Six

The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…

– Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.

– Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.

– Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.

– Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.

– Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them.

 

My Thoughts…

Sharing this particular book as part of today’s First Lines Friday post may be quite timely. If you aren’t following this particular book or author, then you might not know that the sequel, The Atlas Paradox, was released at the end of last month.

I only discovered The Atlas Six fairly recently. It is one of the most recent books on my TBR, so it’s unlikely that I will be reading this any time soon! However, that’s not to say I am not excited to give it a go.

What interests me about this particular book is that it was initially self-published by the author. It has done so well that Tor has since signed the author and from there, it has been ‘traditionally published’.

If that doesn’t speak volumes, then I don’t know what will. I discovered this book through a fellow blogger (incidentally, the same Goodreads friend re-reading this at the moment). I believe she first read this whilst the book was self-published, and by all accounts, is enjoying her re-read right now.

I’ve just enjoyed another book with similar dark academia vibes. Throwing in some magic to the mix can only make this better in my opinion!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post. Have you read The Atlas Six, or the sequel, The Atlas Paradox? I’d love to chat about them if you have!

 

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