Tag: historical fiction

Monthly Wrap-Up – August 2022

I can’t believe I’m drafting my end of August wrap-up already. This year seems to be absolutely flying by, as they always seem to do!

This month I took part in a readathon for the very first time. It has been a great way of setting myself a challenge. For the last year or so I have been gradually stepping up my reading again, after stepping back from a ridiculous personal best. I have enjoyed having the challenge – although it has been a challenge! Not only did I have an ample reading list for the readathon, but I also wanted to pick up an additional book for a personal goal I have set myself – reading more non-fiction.

Let’s dive into what I have been reading this month!

 

The First Binding

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Pages: 832

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 16 Aug 2022

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – The First Binding

The first book I picked up this month was The First Binding by R.R.Virdi. This book came with its own challenge of itself, as I had to read the book and publish my review in just over two weeks. It meant I had a lot of reading to do as it’s a chunky book – at least 70 pages a day – to be able to complete this goal. I’m pleased to say I was able to keep relatively on track, and just pipped my goal at the end. It was a pleasure to read, although it might have been just a little bit nicer if I hadn’t had the time pressure. Still, I’m really glad to have taken part in the publication blog tour.

If you haven’t checked out that post already, here is a link for you to do so!

 

Invisible Women

Genre: Non-fiction

Pages: 411

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Abram’s Press

Publication Date: 12 Mar 2019

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Invisible Women

Next, I decided to read Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. This is the non-fiction read that I decided to pick up in addition to magical readathon.

It didn’t fit any of the prompts in any way, shape, or form. But, I was meant to read this last month and I ended up swapping it out last minute on a whim. I’m really glad I picked this book up anyway. It was a fantastic and enlightening read, even if some of the subjects really made my blood boil.

And that they did! What this book is really good at doing is highlighting the ways in which we think gender is treated equally, when in fact, that is far from the case! If that sounds like something you’re interested in then I would strongly recommend picking up this book.

 

Golden Son

Genre: Science fiction

Pages: 442

Audience: YA / Adult

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication Date: 08 Jan 2015

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Golden Son

My next read was Golden Son by Pierce Brown.

This book fit the prompt of a book set in the future, although how far in the future isn’t really quantified. We know it is set in the future as it is set in a time when the human race has colonised space. The first book is set on Mars, and is a very interesting dystopian science fiction. Having read and enjoyed that book last year, I couldn’t wait to pick up sequel. That it fit this reading prompt was the perfect opportunity to pick it up.

I started off quite well with this book, although I will admit I hit a bit of a wall at around 70%. I did manage to finish this book on the very last day of the month, and it did improve at the end. My problem with it was there was an awful lot going on. By the time we got to 70%, the thrill of the action had worn off.

We’d been on the throttle for the majority of the book and I lost a bit of steam with it. To combat that, I ended up taking a short break from it to read another book, and going back to it was absolutely fine.

 

The Silence of the Girls

Genre: Historical fiction / Greek Mythology

Pages: 325

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 02 May 2019

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads – The Silence of the Girls

To break up Golden Son, I decided to pick up The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. This was already on my TBR, however, I needed a change of setting and pace.

The book is also a quick read at 325 pages. I first picked this up on the last Saturday of the month, and I read it within about four days.

I really enjoyed the change of perspective. If you are not familiar with The Silence of the Girls, it is a Greek mythology book set during the Trojan war. What sets it apart from other narratives, however, is that it focuses on the lives of women in the war camp as opposed to the men. Instead of brave, fearless warriors, the men are talked about as husbands, brothers and sons. In a way, it de-glamorises war and hits home the devastation that it causes.

The lives of women in war are often overlooked, but The Silence of the Girls does its bit to change that. The lives the women have are harrowing. Briseis and the other women’s experiences are not made out to be tragic, exceptional circumstances – it’s commonplace. Rather, all women in the camp experience the same thing, if not worse.

Despite the subject matter and the treatment of the characters, I really enjoyed this book. It was a great palate cleanser and it was just what I needed. I’m glad I finally got to it!

 

The Viscount Who Loved Me

Genre: Historical Romance

Pages: 354

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Avon

Publication Date: 05 Dec 2000

Rating: TBC

 

Goodreads – The Viscount Who Loved Me

This month I decided to listen to The Viscount Who Loved Me. I read the first Bridgerton book, the Duke and I, back in May this year. It ended up being a fairly average read. However, I am really interested in the character stories for Eloise and Penelope.

As we are some time away in the Netflix series (at least Eloise), I wanted to try to continue with the books. A way of compromising between my enjoyment of the Netflix series, but my reservation about the books was to try it in audiobook format. This turns out to have worked pretty well overall.

If I’m honest, I’m not a huge fan of the ‘hate-to-love’ trope present in this book. I don’t understand it. For me, it is a very extreme thing to hate somebody. If you get so far as to hate somebody, then nothing they can do will redeem themselves. Maybe that says more about me. In my opinion, this isn’t a ‘hate-to-love’ relationship – it is at best ‘dislike-to-love’.

I also had to skip a very cringey scene because I just couldn’t listen to it. However, I have been able to continue with it and I am still listening to it now. I have just a few hours left.

Whilst I still have my gripes about the series in general (for example the inequality in behaviour between men and women, the romanticising of men behaving badly to name just a couple of examples), it is a lot more palatable in audio format. I was finding with reading the books that I sometimes struggled to get past sections of the narrative that I had serious gripes with. However, instead of re-reading and rolling my eyes into the back of my head, I had to let that frustration go and keep my attention on the narrative, otherwise I would get lost. As a result of fewer interruptions, I’ve been able to get on with this a lot better.

It still isn’t going to be my favourite series in the whole wide world. It never was. But, I think I can continue with the series to at least get out of it what I want.

 

Assassin’s Quest

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get to Assassin’s Quest in August.

I had an ambitious TBR, even though it was only five books; two of the books are over 800 pages (Assassin‘s Quest being one of them). I also suffered a little bit with hitting a brick wall with Golden Son. Even so, I wouldn’t have finished Assassin‘s Quest in any case.

Given that I have a manic TBR for September (check out tomorrow’s post to see why!), I’ve decided to postpone picking up Assassin‘s Quest. I won’t be doing myself any favours picking this up now, even though I want to.

Instead, I think I will leave it until October to try and read.

That’s it for my monthly wrap-up. Have you read any of the books in today’s monthly wrap-up post? What have you been reading? I’d love to know in the comments!

 

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Monthly TBR – August 2022 (Magical Readathon)

Happy Friday everyone! It’s still early in August, and it’s time to share my monthly TBR!

This month I am doing something fun, and belatedly taking part in a readathon. A few years ago, G over at Book Roast set up her Magical Readathon. Inspired by the structure of the exams in the Harry Potter series, she built a readathon in which you could ‘sit exams’ over two ‘sittings’ by reading books that completed certain prompts associated with them. In the first sitting, you have one prompt per exam. In the second, you can specialise in certain exams and read multiple prompts for that subject – the more you read, the better grade you get. 

That was several years ago, and now she has developed the readathon even further. She has built her own fantasy world based around a similar concept. The aim is to obtain qualifications in two semesters (one month-long readathon in April and one in August) towards a certain fantasy career.

I didn’t hear about this readathon until very recently. I missed out in April this year, so whilst everybody else taking part is doing the August prompts right now, I have decided to go back to April’s prompts so I can catch up and maybe take part in real-time next year. It’s been implied that progress made this year will carry over into next year.

I want to take part as it will be fun and push me a little out of my comfort zone. The prompts in some cases are for books I wouldn’t necessarily choose to put on my monthly TBR right now. At the same time, I have been able to incorporate books that I do want to read at the moment, so it’s the best of both worlds. There is a lot more interactivity involved in these readathons that I won’t be able to do right now, but that’s something I can look forward to.

 

Magical Readathon: Character

I have one book on my monthly TBR that I have to read, and that’s because I’m taking part in a blog tour later this month.

Naturally, I had to fit this into the prompts given, and fortunately, I can make it fit one. That, combined with the limitation of the amount I can read in a month, narrowed down my career options. In the end, it was a toss-up between the Craftsmage and Story Weaver profession. Technically, the Craftsmage career is an easier one to obtain as there is less reading required for it. However, I was less keen on the April prompts for this profession. So, I opted for Story Weaver.

For that career, I have to obtain qualifications in Inscription, Art of Illusion, Psionics and Divination, and Lore. I am hoping to read more than four books this month, so I’ve chosen some additional reads for my own reasons. If those additional books fulfill a prompt, I’ve noted it here and will count it. It might not count for anything right now, but as this readathon is ongoing, it may become relevant later.

Let’s jump into the books I’ve chosen for my monthly TBR and which prompts they fulfill for my career choice.

 

Fixed Reads

The First Binding

Inscription: An Intimidating Read

I’m only setting one fixed read this month, and that is because I am taking part in a blog tour later this month. As a result, this is the book I had fit into the list of prompts I had.

The First Binding is an epic fantasy novel over 800 pages long. That may be intimidating enough, but the added kicker is that I have to read and finish this book and share my review on the 15th August. Having done the maths, it means I have to read an absolute minimum of 70 pages a day in order to get there. Naturally, I aim to read it quicker if I can. If that’s not intimidating, I don’t know what is!

 

Mood Reads

The Silence of the Girls

Lore: Mythology Inspired Read

This particular book is about Greek Mythology, in particular, around female characters affected by the Trojan War. I recently read and enjoyed Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes. I’ve wanted to pick up more books about the subject (I’ve even added one about the Trojan War, written by Natalie Haynes, to my TBR recently).

However, I already own a copy of The Silence of the Girls. As it’s a subject I’m interested in, and a topic I need for the readathon, this should be perfect. The icing on the cake is that it’s a nice short read. After reading The First Binding, I think I will relish it.

 

Assassin’s Quest

Art of Illusion: Book with a trope I Like

I am a big reader of fantasy. As such, there are a lot of tropes to choose from. Some are more used than most, and some of them I like better than others. One of the tropes I enjoy, even if it is a bit overused, is characters going off on a quest and developing personally as a result. Fitting in with that trope nicely, I’ve chosen Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb.

I have just finished reading Royal Assassin and I’m itching to pick up this third book of the first trilogy. It fit perfectly into the required prompt… so it would have been rude not to! 

 

Golden Son

Psionics & Divination: Book Set in the Future

For the psionics and divination prompt, I need to read a book set in the future. This is the prompt I’ve had the most debate over, and changed my book selection a number of times already.

Naturally, I have the flexibility to change my mind again if I feel the need. However, I have provisionally chosen to read Golden Son by Pierce Brown. I read Red Rising last year and I really loved this first book. Set in the near (but undefined) future, the series is about the colonisation of all the planets in space – in particular, Mars. This is a science fiction novel with a dystopian theme. I really enjoyed this first book and I’ve heard good things about the second in the series. So, I’m taking the opportunity to tick off this prompt and further read towards completing a series. God knows I have plenty ongoing already without starting anymore. 

 

Invisible Women

No prompt

The last physical book I am provisionally setting on my monthly TBR is Invisible Women. I had intended to read this book last month, but I ended up swapping it out for Pandora’s Jar on a whim.

Reading this particular book doesn’t satisfy any of the prompts for the readathon, however, I have set myself a personal goal of reading at least one non-fiction book a month. It’s for this reason that I am still adding Invisible Women to this TBR.

 

Audiobooks

The Viscount Who Loved Me

Alchemy: Book featuring Romance

There are some chunky books on my TBR, so I’m only ‘setting’ five physical reads this month.

I would like to try and squeeze in one more book, and I would like to do so in audiobook format. I think this is the first time I’ve ever put an audiobook on a TBR deliberately. Audiobooks make up the smallest proportion of my reading. However, I have definitely been in the mood to listen to more audiobooks of late. Whilst I am in the mood, I’d like to try and make this more of a regular habit, rather than the stop-start relationship I typically have.

The reason for adding the audiobook, and this genre audiobook, is because I think I want something lighter to listen to. I should be able to listen to this on my commute, or whilst I am doing jobs around the house and so it should be easy to squeeze in.

There is another reason why I have chosen this format for this book. I read the Duke and I back in May, and whilst I had mixed feelings about the book, I said I wasn’t going to continue with the series. However, I’m going to give it a second chance in audiobook format.

I have enjoyed the Bridgerton Netflix series to date, but most importantly, I want to see if I can persevere long enough to follow Penelope‘s and Eloise‘s story arcs. They are honestly the only two characters I really care about. However, it’s going to be a while before we get there in the Netflix series, so if I can at least get so far as their books and I’ll be happy.

Don’t get me wrong, if I don’t enjoy this overly either then I’ll abandon the attempt and I’ll just have to wait for the Netflix series to get to their parts.

Having checked the prompt sheet, I can pass the alchemy exam by reading a book featuring a romance. So, if I read this book then that’s an bonus qualification I can earn.

 

So, that’s my monthly TBR for August! This is my first time ever taking part in a readathon, and I am really excited! Have you ever taken part in one? Alternatively, what are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments or on social media.

Wish me luck!

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – July 2022

If you want to find out which amazing books I’ve been reading this month, and those I would like to recommend to you my fellow readers, then my monthly wrap-up post is the one for you!

In my monthly wrap-up posts, I share the details of all the books I read in the month just gone. For July, I decided to keep with a similar concept with my TBR and only set a couple of ‘fixed reads’, whereas the rest could be changed with my mood. I’ll clearly mark out which books fell into which bracket.

Overall, I found this approach really worked for me once again.

Whereas last month I ended up sticking to my provisional mood reads, I did actually swap one book out for another this month. It was entirely on a whim, but that’s the point. I want to give myself the flexibility if I really want to read something, to just pick it up.

 

Books Read

Fixed Reads

Twelve Nights

Genre: historical-fiction

Pages: 380

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Nerthus

Publication Date: 1 Jun 2022

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Twelve Nights

My first read of the month was Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham. I committed to taking part in a blog tour for this particular book and shared my review as a part of it. That post was due on the 11th of July, so reading this particular book was my first port of call.

If you want to check out my full thoughts on the book, you can find a link to my blog tour post here. In summary, Twelve Nights was a fun historical-fiction/mystery novel in which a number of themes are brought together – the treatment of women in the 16th century, the impact of religion on daily life, William Shakespeare, the theatre and surprisingly, suffering from Alzheimer’s/dementia.

We are taken through a variety of twists and turns as Magdalen tries to get to the bottom of a murder she did not commit, all before her ‘inquest’ and inevitable conviction for the crimes. The mystery took a turn I was not expecting, and I really enjoyed the element of surprise at the 11th hour!

If any of these things sound like something you’d enjoy, then I recommend picking this book up.

 

The Man Who Died Twice

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 422

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 16 Sept 2021

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – The Man Who Died Twice

My second and last ‘fixed read’ of the month was The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman. I set this as a fixed read as I wanted to return the book to Chris whilst he was on island visiting with my sister. I had every intention to pick this up straight after Twelve Nights, however, that didn’t come to pass.

Instead, I had a real hankering to pick up another book (and not one on my July TBR). I indulged myself by picking this other book up, before returning to The Man Who Died Twice.

The story was engaging, high-stakes, and enabled us to see a little into Elizabeth’s past, which I really enjoyed. I think she’s one of the more interesting characters of the book/series so far, even if she is quite unrealistic in real life. But, that’s not the point. It’s a bit of fun and I enjoy how Richard Osman manages to write an intriguing mystery, with a lot of humour along the way.

At the same time though, he doesn’t neglect difficult subjects. In his first book, the narrative includes a character suicide. In the second book, one of the characters experiences violence and a consequent knock of confidence as a result of the attack.

The copy I read was a chunky hardback edition, but this turned out to be a quick read regardless. I really enjoyed being back in the company of Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim (a.k.a. the Thursday Murder Club). The narrative of this second book in the series was honestly slightly better than the first. I managed to read this in just a handful of days and return the book to its rightful owner with plenty of time to spare.

This was one of my top reads of the month. If you enjoy mystery books on the lighthearted, contemporary side, this is one for you!

 

Mood Reads

Pandora’s Jar

Genre: Mythology

Pages: 320

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Picador

Publication Date: 1 Oct 2020

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Pandora’s Jar

I picked up and read Pandora’s Jar completely on a whim.

After reading Twelve Nights and suffering the injustices of women through the perspective of Magdalen, I wanted a book that almost served a bit of social justice. What drew me to Pandora’s Jar, in particular, is that the author features 10 female characters in Greek myths and explores how they are done injustice in their own stories.

One of the more interesting things I found, is that these stories weren’t written that way originally; the stories have changed over time and the roles these women play in the stories (whether made inconsequential, turned into monsters or painted to be downright evil). In Pandora’s Jar, Natalie Haynes challenges these changes and puts to right how these characters were portrayed in earlier/alternate versions of the stories.

 

Royal Assassin

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 648

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 27 Mar 2014

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Royal Assassin

Next, I wanted to continue my foray into the Realm of the Elderlings, so picked up Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb.

Royal Assassin is the second book of the Farseer trilogy and I am loving these books so far! I am a big fantasy reader, with greater emphasis on those that are in series as opposed to standalone.

Needless to say, these books are right up my street. They aren’t quick reads, but I really love these books. I just managed to finish Royal Assassin on the last day of the month. Given the way the book ended, I can’t see myself reading the third book of this first trilogy very, very soon!

This was my top read of the month, although The Man Who Died Twice came a close second. This is a book for epic fantasy lovers – especially if you like to invest in a detailed world spanning multiple books.

 

A Feast of Phantoms

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

I signed up to review A Feast of Phantoms via BookSirens a few months ago, and as the review deadline is coming up imminently, I decided to pick this up in July.

Also as I didn’t have my copy of The First Binding yet, it felt like a perfect opportunity to squeeze this in. I did also end up taking a brief break from reading Royal Assassin to make sure I had time to hit the review deadline.

A Feast of Phantoms is a nice short read and is an eclectic mix of genres. The book has a western/steampunk theme, with a predominant fantasy baseline with elements of supernatural. Are you still with me? It is quite a wild combination, and whilst I wasn’t sure about it at first, it won me over. When it became clear in the narrative that all is not as it seems, that was the hook.

This is a solid fantasy read if you’re looking for something on the shorter side. At 270 pages, I flew through A Feast of Phantoms. If you want to find out more, I am publishing my review on Thursday.

 

A Note on The First Binding…

I had put The First Binding on my TBR for July, as I was expecting a review copy ahead of a blog tour post on the 15th of August.

However, I only just received my copy on Friday. This is a reading priority now (for obvious reasons), but I just wanted to include this explanation in my monthly wrap-up to let you know why I haven’t picked it up this month. It’s because I couldn’t.

 

Audiobooks

I have decided to add a section to these monthly wrap-up posts for audiobooks, as it is abundantly clear that I am back into a phase of listening to these. I have been doing a lot of crafty projects lately, and whilst I don’t have a deadline for a gift anymore, I’m working on something for myself.

It’s quite a large cross-stitch project, so it’s going to take me a while. However, that means I’m going to have plenty of time to listen to more audiobooks. I set the precedence when making my friend Rachael‘s gift, so I am really into it.

Still, I’m not a quick audiobook listener. It’s The method I consume books in the least, so I’m not going to have loads of books here in any one month.

 

Northern Lights

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 399

Audience: Children/Middle Grade

Publisher: Scholastic Point

Publication Date: 23 Oct 1998

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Northern Lights

This month I have completed listening to Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I’ve enjoyed the story element of it even though I’m not necessarily the target audience. I do have some gripes about the audiobook itself.

I am not a fan of the casting of this audiobook in particular. A lot of it is narrated by the author Philip Pullman himself, however, character speech is cast out to other people. Personally, I would have preferred consistency and if the author had narrated everything himself, I think it would be smoother.

I also don’t like some of the voices, especially the main character Lyra. I understand the casting in a way, but her voice is just irritating. Overall, it’s quite jarring and not as pleasant an experience as it could have been. I’m going to try and not let it deter me from listening to the rest of the series, but there is just my two pence worth.

 

That’s a wrap for my monthly wrap-up post! Did you read any great books in July? Do you have any book recommendations to share? As always, I’d love to hear from you!

 

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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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494511/?

Sunday Summary – 10th July 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s Sunday Summary post. We are at the end of what has been a manic week for me!

There have been a number of lengthy blog posts out this week – one more than expected too! Not only that, but I’ve also been reading ahead of a blog tour that I’m taking part in tomorrow. Finally, I’ve been getting ready for a very important personal event – one of my best friends got married yesterday! Honestly, it has been a lot to juggle but somehow I have managed it without pulling my hair out!

I started the week very early with publishing my Monthly Wrap-Up for June. That post ended up being quite long as I read and listened to a number of books last month! Honestly, by every right, June should’ve been one of my worst reading months. But, it didn’t pan out that way at all. In contrast, I think it was my best! If you want to check out what I’ve been reading, then you can find out which books I picked up in June in that post.

I had originally planned to incorporate a Mid-Year Review into that post. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to completing my review last week. My compromise was to chuck it on the end of my end-of-June wrap-up. However, as that post was long enough in its own right, I couldn’t make it any longer. So, I made the decision to split it out; it ended up being a lengthy post in its own right too! In that post, I reviewed my progress against my new year goals and resolutions set in January. I even set myself one more goal… 

Then, I finally got around to sharing my July TBR yesterday. I had scheduled this post just ahead of the wedding. It is probably the latest I have ever shared a monthly TBR, but at least it’s out there and you know what I’m reading in the next few weeks.

 

Books Read

In last week’s Sunday Summary post, I was between books. I had just finished reading Skyward by Brandon Sanderson, the last book on my June TBR. 

This week has been taken up with reading Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham ahead of tomorrow’s blog tour post. As I’ve alluded to above, there have been a lot of other things going on. As a result, this is the only book I managed to pick up this week. At 380 pages, I’ve still made good reading progress! Bearing in mind I’ve also drafted three blog posts, finished making my friend a present for her wedding, and all the other necessary tasks to get ready, this is a lot!

I enjoyed this book! It combines a number of elements I really enjoy; it has a mystery, is set in historic England and the narrative is heavily influenced by William Shakespeare and the theatre. These are all things I am interested in, and this all put together into one narrative was an entertaining read.

If you want to find out my full thoughts on the book, check out my blog tour post going live at 9am UK time tomorrow.

 

Books Discovered

I came very close to adding a couple of books to my reading list this week. However, I decided to be good and not keep adding to the ever-growing reading list. For a change.

I’ve added quite a lot recently and having deliberately gone back to look at those books again, I’m happy that I made the right decision. They would have been impulse additions, and probably something I would take off the list at a later date anyway.

 

Coming Up…

I am a very happy bunny because I already have my first blog post of next week drafted and scheduled ready to go. It’s made for a very busy evening tonight, but my blog tour post for Twelve Nights is ready to go. If you like the sound of the book based on my brief description above, you can find out a lot more detail in this review post. There will also be chance to win yourself your own paperback copy of the book if you’re based in the UK.

Since things are calming down a little bit, I am going to go back to my Friday features and sharig a Shelf Control post on Friday. It has been a few weeks since I have shared one of these and I’m looking forward to getting back into it. They give me the opportunity to make sure that the books on my reading list are still relevant!

This gives me a little bit of a break in the week, which I will partly enjoy. I may also end up using the time towards one of my New Year’s goals that I haven’t been doing so well in lately. If you’ve read that post, you know exactly which one I mean!

That’s a wrap for today’s Sunday Summary post. This is my second post of the evening and I’m ready to wind down with a cup of tea and a book before bed.

What are you reading?

 

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Monthly TBR – July 2022

Hello and welcome to my July Monthly TBR! Apologies that we have gotten to the 9th of the month and I’m only just posting my list now. I’ve been a bit delayed with getting posts out there, but this is something I’m looking to rectify very soon! My schedule has been hectic and just hasn’t quite gone to plan, as there have been a few bits on in my personal life lately. I’ve had my exam, and more recently I’ve been getting ready for a very special event; one of my best friends gets married today!

One of the reasons I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately, and the reason why a lot of my time has been taken up aside from exams, is because I have made my friend a present for her wedding. I’m not going to share a picture just yet; and I’m only willing to say this in today’s post because I think she’ll be too busy to read it (she does follow my blog, I think). It’s something that has taken up a good deal of my time, and I only finished it at about 10pm last night. I can only hope it’s been worth every moment!

So, apologies for the delay and excuses – now, let’s jump into what you’re really here for… my monthly TBR!

In line with last month, I am deliberately setting myself a shorter fixed reading list. I really benefited from the flexibility last month and my reading motivation was through the roof! I’m optimistic that I will be able to carry this forward into July!

 

Fixed Reads

Twelve Nights

Genre: Historical fiction, mystery

Pages: 380

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Nerthus

Publication Date: 1 Jun 2022

 

 

This month I have one blog tour that I am sharing a review for, and so naturally, this is the first book on my list! Twelve Nights is a historical mystery focused on a theatre group. When one of the players died as a result of poisoning, Magdalen, the wardrobe mistress, is automatically accused. Poison is a woman’s weapon, after all.

As I’m writing this post, I am over halfway through the book and on track to provide my review next week. I could tell from the synopsis that this book was going to trigger the feelings that I have. There is a lot of feminist rage going on over here right now because this poor woman is victimised purely for being a woman, by men who behave far worse. I’m looking forward to finishing the book to see how everything resolves itself.

 

The Man Who Died Twice

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 422

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 16 Sep 2021

 

 

I’m adding this book to my fixed list as well, as I have been loaned a copy by my sister’s boyfriend Chris. They are coming to the island for a visit later this month, so for practical reasons, it’ll be great to get this one read and I can return the book to Chris whilst he is here.

I recently read and enjoyed The Thursday Murder Club. I’m looking forward to rejoining these characters and seeing them get involved in yet more shenanigans, despite their age and better judgment. I don’t know much about the synopsis of this book. I added it to my list purely because I enjoyed the first book so much!

 

Mood Reads

Invisible Women

Genre: Non-fiction, feminism

Pages: 411

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Abrams Press

Publication Date: 12 Mar 2019

 

 

In line with my new goal of picking up at least one non-fiction book a month, I have added Invisible Women to my mood-read list. I’ve been looking at this one on my bookshelf for the last couple of weeks, and I’ve been really tempted to pick it up.

I think this will sit well with my current read, Twelve Nights. Whilst the world has moved on significantly since 1592, there are a lot of things to be desired about the way women are treated, and the ways (subtle or otherwise) in which women are living in a world ruled by men.

 

Royal Assassin

Genre: Epic fantasy

Pages: 648

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 1 Mar 1996

 

 

I really enjoyed reading Assassin’s Apprentice in June. I have been re-reading a lot of much-loved books and series this year that I initially read a long time ago. It is refreshing to pick up something completely new, and I can honestly say that I believe that this author and series will become one that I come back to in future.

Having finally taken the plunge to read the first book, I can see why it came highly recommended by friends and the bookish community in general! I loved the events of the first book and I can’t wait to see how it continues to develop.

 

The First Binding

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Pages: 832

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Gollancz 

Publication Date: 18 Aug 2022

 

 

This last book is an absolute chunk, and I am taking part in a blog tour for this book next month! I cannot tell you how excited I am to have been selected for the tour being organised by the publisher, because I have had my eye on this book since January.

I’m still awaiting my review copy, but I can’t wait to pick up this huge epic fantasy. As you can tell by my enjoyment and continuation of Robin Hobb, epic fantasy is a genre that really works for me and I’m always really interested in picking up. I always enjoy picking up books by new authors too, so this ticks a lot of boxes for me. Hopefully, I’m not waiting too much longer on my copy, because I would like to make a good start on this as soon as I possibly can.

 

With the way things have been at the moment, I am only on the first book of my monthly TBR still. However, most of my commitments are now dealt with and so I will have a lot more free time to get into books from next week.

I am optimistic for another brilliant reading month. I’m really happy with the progress I made in June, and I hope to replicate it now that my time has freed up and I’m excited to pick up all the books!

Do you have any reading plans this month? What are you reading at the moment?

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – June 2022

Welcome to my monthly wrap-up post covering all the books I read in June. I came so, so close to finishing this month’s TBR on time; in the end, I finished my last book on the 1st of July. I’m really happy despite that though!

I knew at the beginning of this month that I wasn’t going to be reading quite so much towards the end, as I had an exam on the 29th of June to prepare for. Perhaps that is why I ended up reading so much at the beginning of the month. I also managed to squeeze in a couple of audiobooks too!

My TBR for June was a little bit different, as I couldn’t decide what to pick up and read. I had one commitment, which I ended up setting as my only ‘fixed’ book on my TBR. The rest, I pencilled in provisionally but allowed myself the option to change. Incidentally, I didn’t change any of the books, but it was nice that I have the flexibility if I wanted to. And I think I needed that. Clearly it has worked out very well for me as I’ve made very good progress this month. I’m very happy with where I’m at with my reading.

I’m considering taking this approach a bit more in future; but I’m certainly going to try it out again to see if it continues to work for me.

 

Books Read

Wolf of Mercia

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 346

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 7 Jun 2022

Stars: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

My first priority of this month was to read my only ‘fixed’ book of the month, Wolf of Mercia by MJ Porter. I had agreed to take part in a blog tour for this sequel; the first book I read earlier this year. The thing I love the most about this series is that it offers a unique perspective in a period of history where violence is almost expected. Our protagonist Icel does not relish battle or even killing in his own defence, but in this sequel we got to see a new side of him – one that acknowledges his duty, but also sticks to his roots of healing people wherever he can.

If you enjoy books like Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom, then this is something I would recommend to you. I picked up this series initially because of my love of that, and it really works for me!

 

Norse Mythology

Genre: Mythology; short stories

Pages: 283

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: 6 Mar 2018

Stars:🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

After Wolf of Mercia, I swiftly moved on to Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. I wanted to pick up this book, however, I will admit I was sceptical as to whether I would like it or not. I haven’t had the best experience with books written by Neil Gaiman overall. However, Norse Mythology really worked for me.

Perhaps it is because this book is his own retelling of classic norse stories that this ended up being really safe ground. I enjoyed how these were written. Given that the book is just a collection of short stories, it was a very quick read for me; I managed to read it in just a couple of days. I was pleasantly surprised!

 

Assassin’s Apprentice

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 392

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager UK

Publication Date: 27 Mar 2014

Stars:🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

I have been meaning to try Robin Hobb’s books for such a long time, but never quite gotten around to them. However, I finally did it and I am so glad I’ve taken the plunge! These books have come highly recommended in general, but also more specifically from friends of mine.

One of the main elements I look at with fantasy books is character and world-building. These boxes were well and truly ticked in Assassin’s Apprentice, and I really enjoyed the storyline that unfolded in this book. It had elements of magic that I really liked, but also hints at the wider storyline that I trust will unfold throughout Hobb’s ‘The Realm of the Elderlings’ books.

From very early on in the narrative, we as the reader are sympathetic towards Fitz. He is a royal bastard who is left with his father‘s man Burrich as a child. He does not fit in to life at court and so he remains largely unacknowledged… but when he is, it’s not really for the better either.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m going to be continuing with this series very, very soon!

 

The Appeal

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 428

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Viper

Publication Date: 14 Jan 2021

Stars: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

The biggest selling point for me about The Appeal is that the story is told through written communications between characters. If you are looking for something that is not traditional prose, then this format is one I’d recommend you try. I really liked this change of pace, and the storyline behind the emails/messages etc between the characters is engaging in and of its own right!

The beginning of the story is a bit of a slow burn. You go into it knowing that a murder has taken place, however it does not take place until a significant way through a narrative. I expected it to happen a little bit sooner, however it comes about that the context and events we see occur in the beginning are very much relevant to what happens in the end.

What is also clever about the way this is written is that you have to read into the subtext. These people meet in person and there are interactions that we don’t see in between, but can only speculate as to what occurs. As it turns out, there is a lot more going on under the surface and whilst there were some twists I did anticipate, there were others I did not at all! This was another fantastic read, and I cannot believe that this is a debut.

I will definitely be continuing with this author’s work!

 

Skyward

Genre: Science-fiction

Pages: 513

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 6 Nov 2018

Stars: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

I started reading Skyward on or around the 20th June, so this is the book I read the slowest over the course of the month. However, as I mentioned above, this was expected with my exam. Just because it was read the slowest, it does not mean I did not enjoy it!

Skyward is quite different to all the other Brandon Sanderson books I have read to date. Where they have sat firmly in the fantasy genre, Skyward is (expectedly) very hard leaning into the science-fiction genre. It is also written for a young adult audience. Some people have said they felt the writing was dumbed down a little, but I didn’t pick up on this too much. The nature of our protagonist definitely appeals to a younger audience, and perhaps the plot line is a little bit less sophisticated than some of his other fantasy books. But, other than that, I felt this read just as well.

I already have a copy of the sequel, Starsight, on my bookshelves just begging to be read.

 

Knight’s Shadow

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 606 (20hrs 6mins audio)

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books

Publication Date: 5 Mar 2015

Stars: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

During the month of June I started listening to Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell again. I had started this audiobook previously, but I go through phases with audiobooks and I will binge-listen for a while, then practically stop completely. It’s a cycle that comes and goes, and I’m finally back in the ‘listening’ phase.

Even though it had been a little minute since I first started this audiobook, I was able to pick it up again really easily. The storyline and what has happened previously is unique and so it was very easy to return to the world and remember what has gone before.

I really enjoy the storyline and the witty perspective of our protagonist. I had no idea how this particular book was going to play out, after the events of the first book in series. However, it was written very well and it was a pleasure to listen to. I feel a grander storyline coming into play in comparison to the first book. As a fan of epic fantasy, this obviously appeals to me!

 

Hell

Genre: Non-fiction; memoir 

Pages: 272 (7hrs 6mins audio)

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Pan Books

Publication Date: 24 Jul 2003

Stars: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

The second audiobook listened to this month was completed in full, although admittedly, it only weighs in at about seven hours of listening time. Honestly, if it hadn’t been recommended to me I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. However, I’m glad I did!

This is the first prison diary written by Jeffrey Archer, and it recounts his experience of being imprisoned in HMP Belmarsh. This was a bit of an eye-opener for me. It’s not the kind of non-fiction book you would expect to pick up. However, the author’s experience of being imprisoned here, for a charge far less severe than that of his inmates, goes to show the unfairness and inefficiencies of the British legal system.

There are further prison diaries that the author wrote during his time, and I will also be listening to these in the future.

 

That is a lot of books to feature in one monthly wrap-up post! I had originally planned to share my mid-year review at the same time as this post. However, it’s already long enough, so I’m going to split that back out again and share that in the next day or two.

What have you been reading this month? Have you got any good book recommendations? Have you read any of the books I’ve featured today? As always, I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Shelf Control #49 – 17/06/2022

Happy Friday and welcome to today’s Shelf Control post! Shelf Control is one of my regular features (typically fortnightly on a Friday)  It’s a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies and it’s all about featuring/celebrating unread books on our bookshelves! The idea is to pick a book from your TBR that haven’t read yet and write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

If you want to read more about the Shelf Control feature, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

It has been a few weeks since I last shared a Friday feature, and I’m excited to share today’s with you. Having never read this author before, I’m really keen to jump in. I’ve heard great things and he is one of the big names in his genre.

 

The Litigators – John Grisham

Goodreads – The Litigators

The partners at Finley & Figg—all two of them—often refer to themselves as “a boutique law firm.” Boutique, as in chic, selective, and prosperous. They are, of course, none of these things. What they are is a two-bit operation always in search of their big break, ambulance chasers who’ve been in the trenches much too long making way too little. Their specialties, so to speak, are quickie divorces and DUIs, with the occasional jackpot of an actual car wreck thrown in. After twenty plus years together, Oscar Finley and Wally Figg bicker like an old married couple but somehow continue to scratch out a half-decent living from their seedy bungalow offices in southwest Chicago.

And then change comes their way. More accurately, it stumbles in. David Zinc, a young but already burned-out attorney, walks away from his fast-track career at a fancy downtown firm, goes on a serious bender, and finds himself literally at the doorstep of our boutique firm. Once David sobers up and comes to grips with the fact that he’s suddenly unemployed, any job—even one with Finley & Figg—looks okay to him.

With their new associate on board, F&F is ready to tackle a really big case, a case that could make the partners rich without requiring them to actually practice much law. An extremely popular drug, Krayoxx, the number one cholesterol reducer for the dangerously overweight, produced by Varrick Labs, a giant pharmaceutical company with annual sales of $25 billion, has recently come under fire after several patients taking it have suffered heart attacks. Wally smells money.

A little online research confirms Wally’s suspicions—a huge plaintiffs’ firm in Florida is putting together a class action suit against Varrick. All Finley & Figg has to do is find a handful of people who have had heart attacks while taking Krayoxx, convince them to become clients, join the class action, and ride along to fame and fortune. With any luck, they won’t even have to enter a courtroom!

It almost seems too good to be true.

And it is.

The Litigators is a tremendously entertaining romp, filled with the kind of courtroom strategies, theatrics, and suspense that have made John Grisham America’s favorite storyteller.

 

My Thoughts…

I’m always looking forward to trying the works of a new author. Whilst I own a copy of Rogue Lawyers, I haven’t yet read any books by John Grisham. That said, I am looking forward to giving his writing a try. I have experience of enjoying courtroom thrillers in the past… and I think the premise of this particular book is interesting.

I’m confident that this is a book I am going to enjoy. The author hasn’t become a household name for no reason, and someone from work has read and enjoyed his books. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s who I got my copy of Rogue Lawyers from. Someone from Finance had a clear out (due to a lack of space, not a dislike of the book) and brought in the books so anyone who wanted them could help themselves). You can be sure I did – although I only picked up this one!

I’m hopeful that I enjoy this book, as it means that a new world opens to me in terms of the number of books I can read. John Grisham has published over 40 books (according to his own website), so I have plenty of reading material provided I get on with his writing style.

Have you read The Litigators, or any other books by John Grisham? If so, what did you think? I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Blog Tour Review: Wolf of Mercia – MJ Porter

Happy Friday and welcome to my blog tour review of Wolf of Mercia by MJ Porter!

It has been a little while since I last took part in a blog tour and provided a review as part of that. I’m really excited to jump back in and share my thoughts on Wolf of Mercia with you today. As always, before I get into my thoughts on the book, I like to take the opportunity to say thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour… and thank you to MJ Porter as well!

Wolf of Mercia isn’t the first book I have read by this author. I took part in a blog tour and provided a review of the first book, Son of Mercia, earlier this year. If you want to get up to speed with that first book before jumping into today’s review, you can find a link here!

And now, onto today’s review!

 

Wolf of Mercia – MJ Porter

Goodreads – Son of Mercia

As a lone wolf inside a Wessex stronghold, Icel must ensure his own and Mercia’s triumph.

Icel is becoming a warrior of Mercia, but King Ecgberht of Wessex still holds the Mercian settlement  of Londonia and its valuable mint.

King Wiglaf of Mercia is determined that the last bulwark be reclaimed from his sworn enemy to complete his rehabilitation as Mercia’s rightful ruler.

In the heart of the shield wall, Icel suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the battle and thrust into the retreating enemy stronghold where he must take on the pretence of a Wessex warrior to survive and exact a cunning plan to bring down the Wessex force cowering behind the ancient walls.

His allegiances are tested and the temptation to make new allies is overwhelming but Icel must succeed if he’s ever to see Tamworth again and bring about King Wiglaf’s victory, or will he be forced to join the enemy?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3tNhWTG

 

My Thoughts…

One of my favourite things about this series is the unique perspective of our protagonist. Icel is a young man in a world full of strife. Thrust into a war he has no desire to take part in, we get to see Icel battle with his own internal conflict and his loyalties in this book. In this kind of time period it’s typical for men like Icel to become warriors. It is the expectation.

However, Icel is a man who likes to heal. Having spent his childhood learning how to mend hurts and treat wounds… he does not enjoy inflicting such on others. This is particularly prevalent in the first book, and I really enjoyed his perspective. What I have also enjoyed through reading Wolf of Mercia is that we get to see a lot of character development that has taken place. Icel still does not relish hurting people, however he has stepped up in his duty to defend his country and he will do what is necessary, even if he doesn’t enjoy it. He has grown up from the cowardly boy he used to be.

Even though he can step up and do his part as a warrior, Icel maintains his authenticity in not wanting to do what he has to do. Although we’ve seen a marked change in him, his core principles have stayed the same. It is a challenging angle to take with a character, but MJ Porter has done this very well. She has enabled this development whilst keeping the character fundamentally the same in terms of his root beliefs and values. As one of the biggest selling points for me for this book and series, I’m really glad this has been done so well!

There is a lot more action in Wolf of Mercia than the first book of the series, and through the perspective of Icel, we are quite literally thrown into the middle of it. From the first battle in a shield wall in the opening chapters to the subterfuge of hiding amongst the enemy, there is never a dull moment. It took our main character completely out of the context we have seen him previously and gave him the opportunity to grow. I feel like events like these can either make or break a character… And it certainly made Icel. he is one of my favourite book characters.

I flew through this book in just a handful of days. The narrative and storyline are so immersive that it is easy to get lost in. It is the kind of book you can lose track of time in. The chapters are just the right length to convey what is going on, without being too lengthy either. It is just the perfect balance to justify telling yourself that it’s okay to read just one more chapter… Just one. But it never is!

On the whole, Wolf of Mercia, compared to the first book of the series Son of Mercia, exceeded my expectations and it is a very easy five star rating from me. This is a fantastic sequel to the series and personally I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 

Author Bio

MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, and in Viking Age Denmark. They were raised in the shadow of a building that they believed housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia – so their writing destiny was set. The first novel in their new Anglo-Saxon series for Boldwood Son of Mercia was published in February 2022.

Social Media Links –

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MJPorterauthor

Twitter https://twitter.com/coloursofunison

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/m_j_porter/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/MJPorterNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mj-porter

Sunday Summary – 5th June 2022

Good evening and welcome today’s Sunday Summary update post. Wherever you are and whatever you have been doing, I hope you’ve had a fabulous week doing it!

This week we have seen off one month and commenced another, and so naturally I have shared my Monthly Wrap-Up for May 2022, as well as my Monthly TBR for June. All in all, I’m really happy with my reading progress throughout May. I didn’t quite get to all the books on my TBR, but I have read a significant amount!

I’ve decided to take a slightly different approach to my June TBR. Whereas normally I set a longer list of fixed reads, with a couple of mood reads on the end, I’ve changed that up this month. I have been in a very changeable mood and have rewritten my TBR several times before posting it. Knowing that is how my mindset is working at the moment, I’ve decided to allow a lot more fluidity in my book choices this month.

If you want to find out my full thoughts on either my wrap-up or my TBR for June, you could find links to those posts above!

 

Books Read

I have had a fantastic reading week and I’m really pleased that something has clicked for me. Across a range of books, I’ve read 850 pages this week!

I started the week by continuing with my current read from last week’s Sunday Summary update, which was Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert. As of that update post, I had made a comfortable start of 73 pages with the book. I read the remaining 220 pages during the first half of this week. I didn’t quite finish the book in time for my monthly wrap-up post going live on Wednesday evening, but I was only 40 pages or so off! I finished it that night after FaceTiming my sister.

Next, I moved swiftly onto the first book on my June TBR, and the only fixed book I’ve set. I have been reading Wolf of Mercia by MJ Porter in time for a blog tour post that you will be seeing very soon. I wanted to make sure I started this in plenty of time to finish it and have my review ready, and I read this in its entirety this week. I must admit, I wasn’t expecting to read it this quickly, but I’m not complaining either!

I’ve really enjoyed going back to the series, having picked up from reading Son of Mercia, the first book in the series, earlier this year. There is a lot of character development that happens in and between the books of the series, and that’s one of the highlights for me. If you want to find out my thoughts on the book, keep an eye out on my blog next week for my full review!

The next book on my TBR has also been read in full this week; I finished reading this one this morning. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. I’ve had a bit of a rocky relationship with his books and his writing style.

I wanted to read this book because I had a physical copy that I purchased years ago, but I also wanted to give him one last chance. His retellings of Norse Mythology seemed like fairly safe ground, and that proved to be the case. Against expectations, I enjoyed this book. Not only did I really get on with the writing style, but I actually enjoyed the nature of it, and how it was a collection of many short stories. I’m not a mythology expert in the slightest, so it was nice to learn more about the Norse gods I have heard about.

As of writing this update post, I’m technically between books at the moment. However, I’ll be picking up Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb once this post goes live, so this is what I’ll be making progress on over the course of the next week.

 

Books Discovered

I proudly told my sister on Wednesday that I had resisted the temptation to go to our local Waterstones, and that I had been good. That was Wednesday. I caved today.

I wanted to go in and pick up a paperback copy of my now current read, Assassin’s Apprentice. I’ve seen a number of recommendations for this book and series, but perhaps the recommendation with more weight comes from my friend Rachael. She absolutely loves Robin Hobb and this series and I have every confidence that I’m going to as well.

Typically, I will purchase copies of books on my kindle in the first instance, but I will buy physical books if I really love the series or author. I’m confident this is going to be the case, so that’s why I went and bought myself a physical copy of this one.

I also purchased a second book whilst I was in there – Master of Sorrows by Justin Call. I have seen recommendations for this book by Ashleigh at A Frolic Through Fiction. Ashleigh has been reading the second book of the series recently, and she has spoken of the series very highly. For that reason, I’ve decided to give this one a go!

I have added one further book to my TBR this week at the recommendation of my sister’s boyfriend Chris. He recently picked up a copy of The Maidens by Alex Michaelides, as it is one of Waterstones book of the month picks. I read and really enjoyed another book by this author several years ago – The Silent Patient. I in turn recommended this one to Chris, as I read The Silent Patient in about 24 hours – it was that good!

 

Coming Up…

I’ve had a little bit of a debate as to what to post early next week on my blog. I have a review coming up shortly, so I want to keep the topic light. I don’t particularly like this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme, so I will be making use of a book tag idea I’ve had banked for the occasion. I will be drafting a version of ‘The Last Book I… Book Tag’. I originally saw this over on Dini Panda Read’s blog, so I will be linking to that as the inspiration post and I will be answering the same questions in my post next week.

As I alluded to earlier, I will be taking part in a blog tour for Wolf of Mercia by MJ Porter on Friday next week. If you are a fan of historical fiction, or even if you just like the sound of a book set around the time when Vikings occupied Britain, this is something I recommend you check out! I would suggest similar books to these (as a reference point) are Bernard Cornwell‘s The Saxon Stories (aka The Last Kingdom). If you want to find out what my thoughts were on the first book of the series, Son of Mercia, here is the link so you can read up on it ahead of time.

And finally, I’ll be back with a Sunday Summary update at the usual time, in which I’ll share my reading progress with you and recap my week.

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary update post. Now I’m off to pick up Assassin’s Apprentice. What have you been reading this week? Do you have any good book recommendations?

I look forward to seeing you in my next post!

 

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